First, Do No Harm: The Death of General Hospital’s Rafe

Silas (Michael Easton) says goodbye to his nephew, Rafe (Jimmy Deshler). Photo courtesy ABC

Trouble teen Rafe Kovich’s (Jimmy Deshler) met his end last week on General Hospital. The fact that he was hanging out on Pier 52 when he was first introduced should have been seen as an omen for his demise.

The backstory for the character of Rafe was tied to the defunct but not forgotten General Hospital spin-off Port Charles. Rafe came to town with his mother Alison (Erin Hershey Presley) seeking the help of former vampire slayer Lucy Coe (Lynn Herring). The mother/son duo had spent life on the run in fear of Rafe’s father, a rock-in-roll vampire named Caleb played by Michael Easton who at the time was playing One Life to Live character John McBain. Alison was killed by Caleb and Easton played cat-and-mouse in the duel roles.

After Caleb was “killed” and revealed to actually be Stephan Clay, a rockstar/mental patient with mad hypnosis skills, Rafe settled into life as Sam’s (Kelly Monaco) ward and as one of the corners of a tame teen love triangle. The love triangle failed to capture audiences and then the show didn’t quite seem to know what to do with Rafe.

When Rafe’s uncle Dr. Silas Clay came to town and won custody of Rafe, it was to create angst for Silas and Sam. Once Silas and Sam were over that obstacle and attempts to liven up the teen story line failed, Rafe sort of disappeared.

After a bit of an absence, Rafe return to the show a lot different that he was when we last saw him. Rafe had started out as a sweet, streetwise urchin and now he was a cocaine addict. An edgier version wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It made the kid a lot more interesting. The once harmlessly lovesick teen was now stealing money to pay for drugs. His new addiction was the result of a trouble past paired with neglect. Life had failed him.

The changes in Rafe were also his death sentence. His drug habit sent into motion events that ultimately doomed him. Rafe stole his uncle’s car and purposely ran Dr. Patrick Drake (Jason Thompson) and his family off the road indirectly causing the death of Patrick’s son Gabriel. We don’t know all the details yet but someone had put Rafe up to it.

With the truth closing in and a vengeful aunt needing to keep a secret, Rafe was once again where he first started – on the run. This time unfortunately he couldn’t escape. He crashed Silas’s car. In need of a surgery to repair a head injury, Patrick is the only doctor that is available to operate on him. Rafe survived the surgery but is now brain dead.

The story of his death was beautifully tragic. The choice to kill off Rafe is somewhat understandable as he was never quite given a good place in Port Charles. Maybe more could have been done with the character storywise while he was alive but in death he has already set up some major events and major conflict. In particular, his passing will have a great effect on both Patrick and Silas and those around them.

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Jenn Bishop
Jenn Bishop was TVSource Magazine's Soap Editor. She's a thirty-something fan girl of soapy television and anything involving Joss Whedon. She began sharing her views on daytime soaps in 2012 with her blog Save Our Suds. A former philosophy major, she loves discussing different view points with fellow TV addicts and aficionados. When not watching television, she enjoys art, live music, exploring the Midwest food scene, and drinking too many lattes. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceJenn.

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  1. I wish the show hadn’t killed Rafe off but his death is create a lot of story possibilities for the other characters on the show.Now the show could have kept Rafe alive but had him suffer from brain damage that could have affected his speech and motor skills.That way Nina’s secret still would have remain hidden.Plus even if the show wanted to write the character of Rafe off.They didn’t have to kill him.They could have put him in a coma and Silas could have sent him to a long term care facility.That way the door could have been left open for his return and to blow Nina’s life apart when the story dictated his return.

  2. It was an imagination of Nina’s. Rafe is still dead.

  3. Haven’t watch GH since 2 months when Michelle Stafford came to the soap opera but I hate seeing kids or teens or etc die on soaps and even in life. I’m only 20 years old and I’m lucky enough to be living still. Like on Y&R (which I watch daily) I hated when I seen Delia died I cried for months. If I had a kid of my own if she or he died I would never forgive myself and I would die myself too (I have depression).

    In my point of view soap operas needs more younger kids and teens ; I love seeing younger kids and teens on soaps.

    I hope the person who played Rafe on GH will be on another soap opera (example Y&R, B&B or DAYS) because younger people deserve to be on soaps like other older people.

  4. When was the last time we saw Rafe before eppys right before his demise? Six months? And when we do he’s already coked out maybe if I’d seen his spiral downward I could connect and this story would resonate for me. Beautifully tragic? Not for me its generic. Yes, its sad that’s it but it didn’t have enough layers in the forefront now they are doing it after the fact…why not have done both? I guess he’s the end of the line of the Barringtons. There aren’t any left.

  5. Thanks for commenting Melissa! I think the attempted triangles with Sam/Silas/Ava and Sam/Silas/Nina may relied too heavily on Michael Easton’s popularity to make them work rather than character development, chemistry, etc. Easton has a large female fan following so perhaps the the writers thought that it would be a good idea to give Silas one as well. I think this current story line is a much better fit and I’m looking forward to seeing how it unfolds.

  6. His death made me pretty sad too. Jimmy is great actor and I’m sure we’ll see him on another show soon.

  7. I like Rafe & want him to stay! Sounds like a crappy story line to me. They need more kids on the show. Y kill him of, when he could have been in the drug ring sl?

  8. “While triangles with Sam/Silas/Ava and now Sam/Silas/Nina have been lackluster, the tease of a Patrick/Sam/Silas triangle already has viewers’ attentions and plenty of buzz.”

    Here’s what I see being the reason for this. Silas is a boring character. One of the main complaints about Siam is that they put viewers to sleep. Sam, Ava, Nina – I personally don’t see what so great about Silas to warrant three strong, independent capable females to fall head over heels. That’s why I think the triangle with Silas/Sam/Patrick works so much better. Silas isn’t the focus – Sam is.
    Good article, Jenn.

  9. Rafe woke up while Nina was talking to him and had her hand on his…

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