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The Best 1980s Soap Operas

Updated July 29, 2021 5.1k votes 964 voters 67.8k views23 items

List RulesVote up the best daytime soaps that aired new episodes between 1980 and 1989.

During the 1980s, there were more people watching soap operas than ever before. The big '80s soap operas like "General Hospital" were averaging 14 million viewers an episode at its peak. There were also more soap operas on the air than ever before, with as many as 15 daytime soaps airing during a week. The top soaps of the decade were General Hospital, All My Children, and One Life to Live. This list of the best daytime soap operas that aired during 1980-1989, has been voted on a ranked by your votes.

While many old soap operas continued to flourish during the 80s, some soaps saw their last years. Love of Life ended in 1980, Search for Tomorrow ended in 1982, and The Edge of Night ended in 1984, among many others. New soap operas also premiered, including Generations, Texas, The Bold and the Beautiful, and Santa Barbara. Although primetime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty were gaining popularity at this time, daytime soaps didn’t lose any of their status or popularity.

What are the best '80s soap operas? Did the daytime soaps you think were the best make this list? Vote up the 1980s soap operas you think are the best of the decade and see where the soaps you loved to watch during the '80s rank.

  • General Hospital is an American daytime television medical drama that is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest-running American soap opera in production and the third longest-running drama in television in American history after Guiding Light and As the World Turns. Concurrently, it is the world's third longest-running scripted drama series in production after British serials The Archers and Coronation Street, as well as the world's second-longest-running televised soap opera still in production. General Hospital premiered on the ABC television network on April 1, 1963. Same-day broadcasts as well as classic episodes were aired on SOAPnet from January 20, 2000 until Disney...  more
    • Actors: Maurice Benard, Steve Burton, Michael Easton, Genie Francis, Nancy Lee Grahn
    • Premiered: April 1, 1963
  • Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use
    All My Children is an American television soap opera that aired on ABC for 41 years, from January 5, 1970, to September 23, 2011, and on The Online Network from April 29, 2013, to September 2, 2013, via Hulu, Hulu Plus, and iTunes. Created by Agnes Nixon, All My Children is set in Pine Valley, Pennsylvania, a fictional suburb of Philadelphia, which is modeled on the actual Philadelphia suburb of Rosemont. The original series featured Susan Lucci as Erica Kane, one of daytime's most popular characters. The title of the series refers to the bonds of humanity. All My Children was the first new network daytime drama to debut in the 1970s. Originally owned by Creative Horizons, Inc., the company...  more
    • Actors: Cameron Mathison, Michael E. Knight, Alicia Minshew
    • Premiered: January 5, 1970
  • Days of Our Lives (NBC, 1965) is an American daytime soap opera created by Ted and Betty Corday. A chronicle of the lives, loves, trials and tribulations of the citizens of the fictional city of Salem....  more
    • Actors: Suzanne Rogers, Kristian Alfonso, Lauren Koslow, Josh Taylor, James Reynolds
    • Premiered: November 8, 1965
  • Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use
    Santa Barbara is an American television soap opera, first broadcast in the United States on NBC on July 30, 1984, and last aired on January 15, 1993. The show revolves around the eventful lives of the wealthy Capwell family of Santa Barbara, California. Other prominent families featured on the soap were the rival Lockridge family, and the more modest Andrade and Perkins families. The serial was produced by Dobson Productions & New World Television, who also served as distributor for the show in international markets. Santa Barbara was New World Television's first series. Due to the buyout of New World by News Corp in 1997, current rights to the series reside with 20th Television. Santa...  more
    • Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robin Wright, Judith Anderson, Virginia Mayo, Melissa Reeves
    • Premiered: July 30, 1984