General Hospital's Steve Burton says buh bye to Port Charles

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Steve Burton (Jason, General Hospital) (c) ABCAfter 21 years (give or take a year off somewhere in the early 2000s), Steve Burton is leaving the role of Jason Morgan (ne Jason Quartermaine), TV Guide's Michael Logan broke online today.

Say it ain't so! But it is, fans. The end of another era. According to Logan, Burton's exit is one of the most amicable in soap opera history. No squabbles over salary, no storyline displeasure. It's just time for him to say good bye to General Hospital.

"I've been through 21 years of ups and downs with GH — regime changes, cast and crew changes, budget cuts, shakeups of one kind or another, and it's been nothing but a huge positive in my life and for my family. I have no complaints, no negative feelings at all. But it's time to go. I'm going to take some time off and do nothing but relax, just enjoy life a little bit with my wife and kids," Burton tells Logan.

He goes on to explain that his plan is to relocate to a lovely home he purchased in Tennessee over seven years ago. That's how long he's been thinking about bidding adieu to GH and moving there.

But, the economy being what it's been, the timing wasn't right to sell his Los Angeles home. Until about two months ago, when he put it on the market and it sold in eight weeks.

Burton admits that his leaving the canvas, especially now, will impact a number of characters, including Sam, Sonny, Carly and Elizabeth. Fans are already calling for a satisfactory ending to the Liasion (Jason and Elizabeth) pairing before he leaves.

Speaking of the fans, Burton noted that he attempted to write a letter to them, thanking them for their love and support over the years, but it proved too difficult for him too write. " was really, really tough," he said to Logan. "I couldn't get through it."

Earlier today, Burton reached out to his fans on twitter saying: "Morning.Just wanted to thank all of you for your support over the years.You are amazing.It's been an incredible 21 yrs of my life.THANK YOU," and shortly thereafter, "Thanks for all the luv.I know it's difficult for some.It is difficult for me.I luv the cast and has been home. Hoping to tweet ltr."

But fans shouldn't mourn his departure that much. After all, soaps being soaps, he could always turn up in Port Charles again. Or maybe do a stint on the Young and the Restless where former GH Executive Producer, Jill Farren Phelps is now helming things. He does say that they are great friends, so never say never.

There is also a collaboration in the works between James Franco (Franco, GH), Phelps and Burton on a brand new project that Franco's production company would produce. (Fans will recall that Franco and Jason were pitted against each other more than once in the storyline that was written especially for James Franco to experience working in daytime.)

Plus, with Burton now living near Nashville, there is also the possibility of a guest-starring role on ABC primetime's new musical drama series, "Nashville," where ex GH alum, and multiple Daytime Emmy winner, Jonathan Jackson (ex Lucky, GH) has a contract role.

Whatever road Burton takes from this moment on, we at Soapdom wish him all the best and much success. For all the enjoyment and entertainment he provided for us and for his fans over the years as Jason Morgan on General Hospital we are eternally grateful. Many thanks, Steve, and break a leg in all of your next endeavors.

Follow Steve Burton on Twitter @1SteveBurton

For more on Steve Burton leaving General Hospital, see Michael Logan's exclusive story on TVGuide.