This was 1995. Online wasn't a thing.
I wonder if they could pull off a story like this now. Not just departures being leaked and stuff but fans putting together the kind of clues you mention.
I was genuinely shocked at some of the twists and turns at the time. And I had NO idea it was Gwyn until the very last moment.
I think any actor who is on a show for a decade and has been involved in at least two highly popular pairings can think that the show can give them something at contract renewal.
Any employee expects regular raises, regardless of what how their business does. What they do if they are not given that raise, or those non-financial parks, THAT is where we see if they have leverage.
AND a key to this is General Hospital was very publicly courting her for the high-profile recast of Carly. They had approached when TB left. It was an open secret (we fans knew). That certainly gave her a point of leverage with GL and she wasn't a complete fool to think she was in demand.
And in the end that's what happened. She may have stayed even after their "No dice" if she had no other option. But she had one big shiny one at her disposal and she took it.
I have less sympathy for huge stars like KZ complaining not getting raises. But I don't blame people who have a family to feed in the highly insecure world of show-business asking for improvements to their contracts once they have earned their oats.
Ariane Munker toured many of the soaps - I think her last role was a thankless recast for Kim on DAYS when poor Patsy Pease couldn't play the abuse/DID story anymore.
The little I've seen of her on ATWT, I liked her spark, which stood out in contrast to how staid much of the rest of the show felt.
As for Jacqueline Schultz, I've complained about Dee, but I do think Schultz had an ethereal presence and was beautiful, which made the various obsessions men had with her more logical. It's just so many of the stories were so dull, and they did a horrible, horrible job casting Brad, with that pornstache and the general perviness. Probably one of the worst casting choices ever on a soap.