Maybe it was the era in question, but I just remember feeling all through out the 00's that Erica was this untouchable goddess and everyone else were the equivalent of street urchin's compared to her, and everyone knew it. Perhaps it wasn't intentionally supposed to come off that way, but that was the way it felt. Erica had a tremendous amount of plot armor similar to the likes of Victor Newman, Sonny Corinthois and Stefano Dimera, just of a different kind.
So outside of Carl & Gary thats probably why no other fan faves returned
maybe… i heard from a former soap journalist (and a huge aw fan) that goutman wanted to bring back beverlee mckenzie for the finale, but pgp said no.
figuring that pgp was still smarting from beverlee’s abrupt gl departure a few years earlier. always wondered if incident this played any role in goutman’s behavior when atwt sent off the air.