Port Charles (abbreviated as PC) is an American television soap opera which aired on ABC from June 2, 1997 to October 3, 2003. It is a spin-off of the serial General Hospital, which has been running since 1963 and takes place in the fictional city of Port Charles, New York. The new show featured longtime General Hospital characters Lucy Coe, Kevin Collins, Scott Baldwin, and Karen Wexler, along with several new characters, most of whom were interns in a competitive medical school program. In the first episode, tenured nurse Audrey Hardy (General Hospital's longest-running character, portrayed by Rachel Ames) was injured and an intern had to operate on her with a power drill to save her life.
In the first few years, Port Charles got a reputation for focusing most of its energies on the medical school program, setting more of its main action at Port Charles' General Hospital than was seen on the parent show, General Hospital. As it evolved, it turned its focus to stories with gothic intrigue that included themes such as forbidden love, vampires, and life after death (somewhat similar to the earlier series Dark Shadows, which also aired on ABC). It also abandoned the basic open-ended writing style used on all other daytime dramas in December 2000, instead creating thirteen-week story arcs (which were also referred to as "books"). This type of storytelling is a staple of Latin telenovelas. It also allowed the cast, crew, and writing staff to only work six months out of the year.
Port Charles never attracted strong ratings. Since it taped for only six months out of the year, the remaining episodes were aired with the cast not allowed to return to tape resolutions to storylines. This left the final episode as a cliffhanger; Caleb told Olivia that Alison (Erin Hershey Presley) was pregnant with his baby because of the wish that she (Olivia) made on his ring and it was revealed that Imani was a werewolf.
After Port Charles, the characters of Scott Baldwin and Audrey Hardy returned to General Hospital, and many of the other actors from Port Charles moved on to play roles on other dramas, including a few who took on new roles on General Hospital, such as actors Michael Easton, Kelly Monaco, Kiko Ellsworth, Eddie Matos, Kent King, and Jay Pickett.
ABC returned the 12:30 PM timeslot to its affiliates after Port Charles finished its run.
In December 1999, Julie Hanan Carruthers was promoted to executive producer after Wendy Riche wanted step down to focus on General Hospital. Carruthers has been the senior supervising producer of Port Charles, while servicing the same role on General Hospital since the inception of Port Charles.