‘General Hospital’ Goes Down to Four New Episodes a Week Through May

The worlds they portray may be fictional, but they aren’t immune from the impacts of a real-world crisis. Soap operas across networks are shutting down the production of new episodes due to the social distancing mandates aimed at slowing down the progression of coronavirus (COVID-19). That means that the fast-paced twists and turns of these dramatic storylines are going to have to unfold a little slower than usual to help provide fans with what they really want: new content. 

The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful have already announced a hiatus for filming, General Hospital has now joined the collection of soaps that will be changing up its schedule in order to make the episodes they already had completed before the restrictions hit last as long as possible. 

Wes Ramsey and Jophielle Love on 'General Hospital'
Wes Ramsey and Jophielle Love on General Hospital | Nick Agro/ABC via Getty Images

Fans are worried General Hospital may run out of episodes

General Hospital is the longest-running American soap opera currently in production. The show first debuted on ABC in 1963 at the height of the soap opera craze. While its plotlines and fan base have certainly shifted over the years, the drama has been a steady presence on daytime TV for decades, bringing together multiple generations of characters and viewers. 

Fans have been getting concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their beloved escape from reality. Most soap operas film on a fairly tight schedule, and since many of them air new content five days a week, it’s easy to see how quickly the networks can run out of pre-recorded episodes. While Days of Our Lives is unique in that it films several months in advance, General Hospital is among the more typically-scheduled soap operas. It does not have lots of content ready to go. 

If the show runs out of content, it will turn to re-runs to fill the gap in fans’ hearts and TV viewing schedules. 

A reduced schedule will prolong General Hospital content 

At first, the shutdown was slated to end on April 10, and the network made it clear that they had enough new content to continue uninterrupted through April 13. It’s obvious now, however, that the stay-at-home orders around the country are likely to extend at least into May, and that means that new episodes of General Hospital will not be filmed anytime soon. 

To address these concerns, the network has made the decision to reduce the schedule of new episodes being aired. Instead of airing new content five days a week, they will now only show the pre-recorded content on Monday through Thursday. Cutting out one day a week allows the show to continue without any long interruptions to their plotlines for a longer period of time. At this point, they have told fans that they’ll be able to continue through May 22. 

Special surprises await fans for ‘Flashback Friday’

Just because new episodes will be limited to Monday through Thursday doesn’t mean that fans will be missing out on their General Hospital fix on Fridays. Instead, the network is going to air special “Flashback Friday” episodes. In these specially scheduled treats, fans will get to see a re-run of a previously aired episode with some special significance to the cast and storyline. 

In addition, actors from the show will appear to give an introduction to the episode. The first “Flashback Friday” appeared on Friday, April 3. It was a re-run of the 56th Anniversary Show from 2019. Actor Laura Wright, who plays Carly Corinthos, did the introduction for the episode, which aired just a few days after the 57th Anniversary Show. 

While fans are certainly going to have to make adjustments to the new pacing, the chance to see these glimpses from the past alongside commentary from the actors who play their favorite characters is a nice bonus.