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The All Time Greatest Daytime Soap Operas

Updated June 14, 2019 4.3k votes 565 voters 9k views31 items

List RulesDrama! Vote up the best daytime soap operas that have ever aired on television.

The soap opera was among the first genres of television to gain traction with audiences, since the birth of TV in the late 1940s. The first daytime soap opera was "Faraway Hill," which premiered in 1946. Since then, soap operas have been a pivotal part of televised entertainment. Daytime soaps differ from primetime television because there’s a new episode every weekday, instead of once a week. Some daytime soap operas began as radio broadcasts and then went on to span many decades on the television airways. This list of the best daytime soap operas has been voted on and ranked by the community.

"Guiding Light" holds the Guinness World Record for longest-running TV drama, with 57 seasons under its belt. Other programs, like "General Hospital" and "Days of Our Lives" have also lasted many decades.

These days there are only 4 soap operas still on the air, although some shows have continued their life on through internet webisodes. Although many of the daytime soaps on this list didn’t last decades, they made a lasting impressionon those who watched.

What are the best daytime soaps of all time? Vote up the daytime soap operas you think are the best of all time below and see where the soaps you think are great rank.

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  • 1

    Guiding Light

    Hayden Panettiere, Matt Bomer
    176
    73

    PremieredJanuary 25, 1937

    Guiding Light is an American television soap opera that is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest-running drama in television in American history, broadcast on CBS for 57 years from June 30,...  more
  • 2

    Ryan's Hope

    Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett
    66
    55

    PremieredJuly 7, 1975

    Ryan's Hope is an American soap opera created by Claire Labine and Paul Avila Mayer, originally airing for 13 years on ABC from July 7, 1975 to January 13, 1989. It revolves around the trials and...  more
  • 3

    Another World

    Victoria Wyndham, Constance Ford
    101
    69

    PremieredMay 4, 1964

    Another World is an American television soap opera that ran on NBC for 35 years from May 4, 1964 to June 25, 1999. It was created by Irna Phillips along with William J. Bell, and was produced by...  more
  • 4

    As the World Turns

    Julianne Moore, Sarah Hyland
    94
    83

    PremieredApril 2, 1956

    As the World Turns is an American television soap opera that aired on CBS for 54 years from April 2, 1956 to September 17, 2010. Irna Phillips created As the World Turns as a sister show to her other...  more
  • 5

    The Edge of Night

    Martin Sheen, Marcia Cross
    92
    68

    PremieredApril 2, 1956

    The Edge of Night is an American television mystery series/soap opera produced by Procter & Gamble. It debuted on CBS on April 2, 1956, and ran as a live broadcast on that network for most of its run...  more
  • 6

    Days of Our Lives

    Suzanne Rogers, Kristian Alfonso
    153
    166

    PremieredNovember 8, 1965

    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...  more
  • 7

    Dark Shadows

    Jonathan Frid, Grayson Hall
    143
    152

    PremieredJune 27, 1966

    Dark Shadows is an American gothic soap opera that originally aired weekdays on the ABC television network, from June 27, 1966, to April 2, 1971. The series became hugely popular when vampire...  more
  • 8

    The Young and the Restless

    Eric Braeden, Peter Bergman
    96
    94

    PremieredMarch 26, 1973

    The Young and the Restless is an American television soap opera created by William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell for CBS. The show is set in a fictional Wisconsin town called Genoa City, which is...  more
  • 9

    One Life to Live

    Hayden Panettiere, Kourtney Kardashian
    98
    110

    PremieredJuly 15, 1968

    One Life to Live is an American soap opera broadcast on the ABC television network for more than 43 years, from July 15, 1968, to January 13, 2012, and then on the internet as a web series on Hulu...  more
  • 10

    General Hospital

    Maurice Benard, Steve Burton
    117
    141

    PremieredApril 1, 1963

    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...  more
  • 11

    All My Children

    Cameron Mathison, Michael E. Knight
    100
    128

    PremieredJanuary 5, 1970

    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,...  more
  • 12

    Search for Tomorrow

    Susan Sarandon, Viggo Mortensen
    64
    70

    PremieredSeptember 3, 1951

    Search for Tomorrow is an American soap opera that aired on CBS from September 3, 1951 to March 26, 1982, and on NBC from March 29, 1982 to December 26, 1986. At the time of its final broadcast, it...  more
  • 13

    Santa Barbara

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Robin Wright
    62
    67

    PremieredJuly 30, 1984

    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...  more
  • 14

    Love of Life

    Dana Delany, Christopher Reeve
    44
    57

    PremieredSeptember 24, 1951

    Love of Life is an American soap opera which aired on CBS from September 24, 1951, to February 1, 1980. It was created by Roy Winsor, whose previous creation Search for Tomorrow had premiered three...  more
  • 15

    Passions

    Lindsay Hartley, McKenzie Westmore
    50
    80

    Premiered1999

    Passions is an American soap opera which aired on NBC from July 5, 1999 to September 7, 2007 and on The 101 Network from September 17, 2007 to August 7, 2008. Passions follows the lives and loves,...  more
  • 16

    The Secret Storm

    Joan Crawford, Roy Scheider
    44
    70

    PremieredFebruary 1, 1954

    The Secret Storm is a soap opera which the CBS television network transmitted from February 1, 1954, to February 8, 1974. It was created by Roy Winsor, who also created the long-running soap operas...  more
  • 17

    Peyton Place

    Mia Farrow, Leslie Nielsen
    41
    66

    PremieredSeptember 15, 1964

    Peyton Place is an American prime-time soap opera which aired on ABC in half-hour episodes from September 15, 1964 to June 2, 1969. Based upon the 1956 novel of the same name by Grace Metalious, the...  more
  • 18

    Port Charles

    Kelly Monaco, Amy Weber
    42
    64

    PremieredJune 1, 1997

    Port Charles is an American television soap opera which aired on ABC from June 1, 1997 to October 3, 2003. It is a spin-off of the serial General Hospital, which had been running since 1963 and takes...  more
  • 19
    27
    34
    Texas is an American daytime soap opera which aired on NBC from August 4, 1980, until December 31, 1982, sponsored and produced by Procter & Gamble Productions at NBC Studios in Brooklyn, New York...  more
  • 20

    Sunset Beach

    Kelly Hu, Susan Ward
    31
    40

    PremieredJanuary 6, 1997

    Sunset Beach is an American television soap opera that aired on NBC from January 6, 1997 to December 31, 1999. The show follows the loves and lives of the people living in the Orange County coastal...  more
  • 21

    The Bold and the Beautiful

    Katherine Kelly Lang, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood
    80
    141

    PremieredMarch 23, 1987

    The Bold and the Beautiful (CBS, 1987) is an American television soap opera created by William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell. The saga of high fashion glamour, honor, romance, passion, and most...  more
  • 22

    Capitol

    Teri Hatcher, Kelly Preston
    39
    64

    PremieredMarch 29, 1982

    Capitol is an American soap opera which aired on CBS from March 29, 1982 to March 20, 1987 for 1,270 episodes. As its name suggests, the storyline usually revolves around the political intrigues of...  more
  • 23

    The Doctors

    Alec Baldwin, Kathleen Turner
    30
    68

    PremieredApril 1, 1963

    The Doctors is an American television soap opera which aired on NBC Daytime from April 1, 1963, to December 31, 1982. There were 5280 episodes produced, with the 5000th episode airing in November...  more
  • 24

    Loving

    Julie Bowen, Bryan Cranston
    30
    55

    PremieredJune 26, 1983

    Loving is an American television soap opera that ran on ABC from June 26, 1983, to November 10, 1995, a total of 3,169 episodes. The serial, set in the fictional town of Corinth, Pennsylvania, was...  more
  • 25

    Generations

    Amy Yasbeck, Kelly Rutherford
    32
    58

    PremieredMarch 27, 1989

    Generations is an American soap opera that aired on NBC from March 27, 1989, to January 25, 1991. The show was groundbreaking in that it was the first soap opera to feature from its inception an...  more
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List Rules: Drama! Vote up the best daytime soap operas that have ever aired on television.