(CNN) — Fans of Luke Spencer on “General Hospital” haven’t seen him in years and now they are unlikely to unless he turns up as a ghost.

That’s because the soap opera killed off the iconic character this week.

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Played off and on over the years by Anthony Geary since the role originated in 1978, the character was part of an epic love story with Laura Webber that reached its height of popularity in the 1980s.

The wedding of Luke and Laura in 1981 drew about 30 million viewers, making it one of the highest-rated episodes in the history of daytime dramas.

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But on Monday the character of Tracy Quartermaine (who was married to Luke) revealed to Laura that Luke had died off screen in a cable car accident overseas that may not have been an “accident” after all.

Geary retired in 2015, but returned to the show briefly in 2017.

He won a record setting eight daytime Emmys for outstanding lead actor.

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