Franco has had quite a crazy history on GENERAL HOSPITAL, and there have been plenty of times fans have worried that Franco was leaving GH. But if you take a look back at what this character has been through, he’s survived everything from falling off a roof to a brain tumor, so he’s pretty resilient! The character of Franco was originated by actor James Franco in 2009, and he made occasional guest appearances in 2012. However, in 2013, Roger Howarth took over the role and Franco became a series regular… at least until he met a tragic end in 2021.
Franco was introduced as an artist and serial killer who was intent on torturing Jason Morgan. Working on an art exhibit of crime scene reenactments, he seduced Maxie Jones and kidnapped Sam McCall and Carly Corinthos in order to get Jason’s attention. He felt that Jason’s work in organized crime was art and threatened to kill someone every time Jason took a life. Jason rescued Carly but Franco abducted Lulu Spencer and trapped her and Maxie with bombs on opposite sides of town. Jason saved Sam while Dante Falconeri got Lulu out just before the explosion. Franco also killed Carter, who had abused Michael in prison. During a fight with Jason, Franco apparently jumped off the roof of the building but the crowd assumed it was part of a show.
Dante and Jason learned that Franco’s real name was Robert Frank and tracked down his mother, Besty Frank. The psycho kidnapped Liz’s son, Aiden, and gave him to Betsy to raise, but Lucky was able to get the boy back. Franco also took credit for the bomb that blew up Sonny and Brenda’s wedding limousine. After Sam and Jason got married, Franco followed them on their honeymoon, drugging them and leading Sam to believe he had raped her! After a paternity test showed that Sam’s baby was Franco’s, Jason shot and killed the psycho. Later, Heather Webber claimed that her cousin, Susan Moore, was Franco’s biological mother, making him Jason’s fraternal twin brother. A subsequent paternity test again indicated Franco was the father of Sam’s baby, but thankfully Heather later confessed she’d tampered with the results.
In 2013, Franco revealed that he was still alive and that he had not actually raped Sam, but only tortured Jason by making him think he had. After being released on bail, Franco took advantage of his connection to the Quartermaine family and connected with Kiki Jerome, who Ava Jerome was claiming to be his daughter. After Sonny and Shawn Butler beat up Franco, he awoke believing himself to be Jason and abducted Danny to protect him. Eventually, it was revealed that Franco was suffering from a brain tumor that had caused his psychotic behavior and it was removed. This also helped him avoid legal repercussions for his many crimes.
Heather finally revealed that she was really Franco’s biological mother and that Scott Baldwin was his father. He also learned that Kiki wasn’t his daughter. Franco began to develop feelings for Carly, so Heather kidnapped and attempted to kill her. Nobody really approved of Carly and Franco’s relationship, especially when they became engaged. However, at the wedding, Franco revealed proof of Carly’s infidelity with Sonny and their cover-up of Sonny’s murder of A.J. Quartermaine!
Franco then got mixed up with Nina Reeves, who had kidnapped Ava’s baby, and took them to Canada. They planned to raise the baby as their own, but the authorities caught up with them. Nina went to Shadybrook, while Franco was locked up in Pentonville. But he participated in a jailbreak that got him to the mental hospital in time to save Nina from Heather, who was also a patient there. He injected himself with LSD in order to remain at Shadybrook with Nina.
When there was a series of killings at the hospital, Franco became a suspect, but Liz helped clear his name. And when Liz’s rapist, Tom Baker, was stabbed to death, Franco was also arrested for that, but he was revealed to be innocent. Liz continued to grow closer to Franco, although many warned her about the guy. He even bonded with her children, especially Jake, helping the tormented boy through a rough patch where he was being brainwashed by Helena Cassadine!
After the reveal that the man they thought to be Jason was really Drew Cain, Franco learned from Betsy that she had raised them both as children but sent Drew away after Franco pushed him down the stairs. Even as he and Liz got engaged and prepared to marry, Franco worried about his past and sought help from Dr. Kevin Collins. After recovering memories of the abuse he suffered from Jim Harvey as a child, he confronted the guy but ended up almost being killed himself before Drew saved his life.
After postponing their wedding, Franco and Liz continued to live in domestic bliss, and he became a father figure to her boys, especially young Aiden. Unfortunately, when Ryan Chamberlain switched places with his twin, the serial killer began murdering again and tried to pin the crimes on Franco! Jordan convinced Franco to go along with her plan to confess to the crimes himself in order to smoke out the real culprit, and Franco helped bring Kiki’s killer to justice.
Although Liz married Franco while he was temporarily behind bars, the couple finally had a proper wedding reception on The Haunted Star. But the honeymoon was over as soon as Franco rescued Cameron from Shiloh‘s clutches by taking his place and being implanted with Drew’s memories! Believing himself to be Drew Cain, Franco abandoned his new family and slept with Kim Nero, who was more than happy to assuage her grief by pretending that she was back with Oscar’s father. Ultimately, the pressure of Franco’s friends and loved ones caused him to give up his plans to live as Drew and agreed to undergo a risky procedure to have his original memories restored.
Franco got back to his “normal” life, but was shaken when Obrecht was arrested for arranging for attempting to kill him and Andre and didn’t believe her protests she’d been framed. Franco also began spending more time with Ava as he painted her portrait but at the unveiling, it was defaced and tagged with his old CO77X tag! He also became jealous of the time Liz and Nikolas were spending together, but it was later revealed that a cash-strapped Franco and Liz were working with Scotty to blackmail Nikolas and Ava! In the end, though, Liz felt too guilty, so Franco agreed to abandon their scheme. However, just as things were settling back down again, Franco suddenly collapsed during a karaoke night out!
Later diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, Franco swore Dr. Terry Randolph to secrecy, wanting to keep the truth from Liz for as long as possible. Naturally, Liz found out and immediately offered her husband support, but he worried he would return to his psycho behavior and asked Jason to kill him if that happened! Things got even more complicated as Franco began to hear voices as though Drew’s memories were coming through again. And though he was touched when Cameron shaved off his hair in solidarity, Franco worried he didn’t have much time left.
Sadly, when Franco’s memories of Drew led him to confront Peter about the long-ago kidnapping, it did not end well. He managed to record Peter’s confession to his multiple crimes, but when the guy broke out of his bonds and grabbed a gun, the struggle over the weapon ended with Franco shot point-blank in the chest! After Peter left him for dead, Jason found Franco and though Liz tried to administer emergency first aid, by the time they had loaded him into an ambulance, Franco was dead. Liz blamed Jason for killing him, but ultimately the truth came out. It still didn’t help Liz get over her heartbreaking loss, though.
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