Early this year, “General Hospital” killed off Luke Spencer, the iconic character who was played by Anthony Geary on and off for decades. Luke’s current wife Tracy Quartermaine (Jane Elliot) turned up at the door of his ex-wife Laura (Genie Francis) — whose coupledom with Luke sent “General Hospital” to its stratospheric heights in the early 1980s — to tell her the tragic news. Luke had been killed, under mysterious circumstances, of course, in a cable-car accident in Austria.

On Friday, the show memorialized Luke, with his old friends gathering to celebrate him on the Haunted Star (if you know, you know).

Frank Valentini, the executive producer of “General Hospital,” isn’t doing interviews about why he decided to kill off Luke now, especially since Geary, who is 74, hasn’t been on the show since a guest appearance in 2017. But Luke’s death has indeed provided a rich storytelling opportunity, first as Luke’s friends — and Geary’s old castmates — learned of his death, and then on Friday’s episode as they mourned him. “General Hospital” has a significant number of cast members from Geary’s era who continue to regularly appear on the show, such as Francis (now the mayor of Port Charles!), Tristan Rogers (Robert Scorpio, super spy) and Jacklyn Zeman (Bobbie, Luke’s sister, whom he always affectionately called Barbara Jean).

Geary’s Luke was a truly significant character in the history of soap operas, and all of television. He joined “General Hospital” in 1978 as a villain, who would soon rape Laura — an assault that turned into a romance, which was a hideously common trope in daytime dramas at the time. (The show and the characters reckoned with the rape in a mid-2000s plot.)

Luke and Laura would prove to be a game-changing couple both for “General Hospital,” and all of pop culture, with their banter and modern sensibilities that attracted a young audience. Their two-part November 1981 wedding brought in Elizabeth Taylor as the evil Helena Cassadine — along with an audience of 30 million viewers.

“General Hospital” being what it is, even more than a generation later, surely the Cassadines — the ones who remain diabolical — are behind Luke’s death. Victor Cassadine (Charles Shaughnessy) had to be asked to leave Luke’s funeral, and then the late Helena herself (as played by Constance Towers) appeared via video message from beyond the grave, gloating. Even the Ice Princess, the diamond that’s a sacred object in “General Hospital” lore was mentioned — though not seen, much to the chagrin of Spencer Cassadine (Nicholas Chavez), who stared after the closed box held by Tracy covetously.

In the episode’s final moments, Laura blew a kiss at Luke’s picture, saying, “Goodbye, my love.”

Here are some other images from the episode.

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Maura West (Ava Cassadine), Marcus Coloma (Nikolas Cassadine) and Genie Francis (as Laura Collins, previously Laura Webber, then Spencer). Courtesy of ABC
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Kristina Wagner (as Felicia Scorpio), Finola Hughes (as Anna Devane) and Tristan Rogers (as Robert Scorpio). Courtesy of ABC
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Laura Wright (Carly, Luke’s niece) and Jacklyn Zeman (Bobbie, Luke’s sister). Courtesy of ABC
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Jane Elliott as Tracy Quartermaine, Nicholas Chavez as Spencer Cassadine and Genie Francis as Laura Collins (formerly Laura Spencer!). Courtesy of ABC
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Chavez and Francis. Courtesy of ABC