Rebecca Budig (Hayden Barnes) is wrapping up her two-year stint on General Hospital. While the ABC soap will not comment on casting rumors, sources tell Soap Central that before the show's latest hiatus, Budig told several of her castmates that she would be leaving.
Since this article was first posted, Budig has taken to Twitter to confirm she is exiting the show.]
The two-time Emmy nominated Budig joined General Hospital to considerable fanfare in March 2015, but substantive story never really emerged for her character, despite making Hayden the long-lost-and-previously-unknown sister of Elizabeth Webber. Fans telegraphed that Hayden and Elizabeth were sisters weeks before the on-screen reveal -- and even after the reveal, it seemed to do little more to anchor Hayden than if she had no relatives in Port Charles.
There had been whispers that the General Hospital writing team had originally toyed with the idea of having Budig play Sarah Webber, Elizabeth's other sister.
The exit is said to be storyline dictated. Budig signed a four-year contract with GH last summer.
Meanwhile, a seemingly innocent Facebook post from Budig's on-screen love interest, Michael Easton (Hamilton Finn), had fans wondering if Easton would be exiting the show and returning to Days of our Lives. While those fires seemed to die down relatively quickly, Budig's exit -- and the rumored return of Steve Burton (ex-Jason Morgan) -- is sure to fan the flames again.
Budig began her daytime run as Michelle Bauer on Guiding Light. From 1999 to 2011 (with a short break from late 2005 to early 2008), Budig starred as Greenlee Smythe on All My Children.
Budig will tape her final scenes this week, which mean she'll make her final on-screen appearance in late July.
"First of all, I want to thank all the fans of #GH who have supported me and been so kind. You guys are amazing," Budig wrote. "Unfortunately, Hayden is being written off the canvas. I have to thank @valentinifrank and @ABCNetwork for giving me this opportunity."
UPDATE (July 3, 2017): As fan support continued to roll in, Budig again took to Twitter, saying, "I am humbled by all of your kind words. From the bottom of my heart, thank you."
What do you think about Rebecca Budig exiting GH? Was there more story left for Hayden, or is it better to write off the character? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.