The Best 1970s Soap Operas

Over 600 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best 1970s Soap Operas
Voting Rules
Vote up the best daytime soaps that aired new episodes between 1970 and 1979.

In the 1970s, television was filled to the brim with some of the top soap operas to ever air. Old '70s soap operas like As the World Turns, Another World, and Guiding Light were the highest-rated soap operas of the decade, not only continuing their success after decades of being on the air, but later continuing into the new millennium. This list of the best daytime soap operas that aired from 1970 to 1979 has been voted on and ranked by your votes.

The '70s saw the introduction of many new soap operas. Some of them became huge hits that lasted for many years, such as The Young and the Restless, Ryan’s Hope, and All My Children. Other 1970s soap operas didn’t enjoy the same level of success, including Bright Promise, Somerset, A World Apart and How to Survive a Marriage. The series Love is a Many Splendored Thing ended its run in 1973 after being on the air since the mid-60s. The top daytime soap operas of the 1970s saw about 10 million viewers an episode.

What are the best '70s soap operas? Did the daytime soaps you think were the best make this list? Vote up the 1970s soap operas you think are the best of the decade and see where the soaps you loved to watch during the '70s rank.


Photo: Days of our Lives / NBC

  • All My Children
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use
    162 votes

    Debuting in 1970 and captivating audiences for over four decades, this groundbreaking soap opera follows the turbulent lives of the Chandler, Martin, and Kane families residing in Pine Valley, Pennsylvania. Creator Agnes Nixon focuses on key social issues such as infertility, abortion, alcoholism, and racial bias as she weaves an intricate tapestry of emotional storylines amidst the intermingling of powerful matriarchs and rising younger generations.

    • Actors: Cameron Mathison, Michael E. Knight, Alicia Minshew
    • Premiered: January 5, 1970
  • Premiering in 1968, the brainchild of Agnes Nixon encompasses a spectacular ensemble cast tackling controversial topics and sensitive issues like race relations, drug addiction, and class struggles that challenged societal norms. Set in the fictional Llanview, Pennsylvania, this innovative series captivated hearts with its spellbinding narrative arcs and memorable characters ranging from the Lord and Buchanan families to the unforgettable villainous manipulations of Dorian Lord.

    • Actors: Hayden Panettiere, Kourtney Kardashian, Marcia Cross, Melissa Archer, Melissa Fumero
    • Premiered: July 15, 1968
  • Another World
    Photo: user uploaded image
    195 votes

    Created by Irna Phillips and William J. Bell, this legendary daytime drama first graced television screens in 1964 but truly flourished in the 70s. Set in the coastal town of Bay City, the show delved into the complexities of life and relationships within affluent, middle-class, and working-class circles, particularly the all-embracing Cory and Matthews families. Innovative storytelling techniques and taboo subjects like extramarital affairs, cult influences, and infertility provided a gritty framework that resonated with the zeitgeist of the time.

    • Actors: Victoria Wyndham, Constance Ford, Hugh Marlowe
    • Premiered: May 4, 1964
  • Ryan's Hope
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use
    135 votes

    Making waves from its inception in 1975, this enchanting family drama details the lives and tribulations of the Irish-American Ryan clan as they navigate their aspirations, sorrows, and joys while running a family-owned pub in New York City. The Emmy-winning series seamlessly blended stories of romance, ambition, and heartbreak, spearheaded by the endearing and resolute matriarch Maeve Ryan, portrayed by the inimitable Helen Gallagher.

    • Actors: Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Mary-Louise Parker, Dana Delany, Yasmine Bleeth
    • Premiered: July 7, 1975
  • As the World Turns
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use

    The tumultuous 1970s proved to be a particular heyday for this long-running series, which had initially debuted in 1956. Masterful storytelling emphasizing multi-generational dynamics among the Hughes, Snyder, and Stewart families in the Midwestern town of Oakdale keeps viewers mesmerized. Strikingly realistic innovations in the narrative focus, including the on-air depiction of a real-time wedding, catapulted this soap opera to new heights of audience admiration and adoration.

    • Actors: Julianne Moore, Sarah Hyland, Ming-Na Wen, Alexandra Chando, Tamara Tunie
    • Premiered: April 2, 1956
  • The Edge of Night
    Photo: flickr / CC0

    Revered for its distinctive amalgamation of crime drama and soap opera elements, this intriguing series unfolded against the backdrop of Monticello - a mid-sized, morally ambiguous city reminiscent of New York. Pioneering narratives around resilient attorney Mike Karr, played by Laurence Hugo and then Forrest Compton, captivated audiences as he intertwined with an assortment of characters plagued by secrets, scandals, and criminal undertones, separating this show from its contemporaries in the ever-evolving 1970s.

    • Actors: Martin Sheen, Marcia Cross, Lori Loughlin, Larry Hagman, Kate Capshaw
    • Premiered: April 2, 1956