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The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas 

Ranker TV
Updated April 16, 2020 9.1k votes 1.1k voters 41.7k views 95 items

List Rules Vote up the best primetime soap operas to have ever aired on television

Soap operas have been a staple of the television world since they first gained traction in the 1950s. However, it wasn’t until the 80s that the primetime soap was born. While a daytime soap airs every weekday and are usually targeted to an audience of bored housewives and college students, primetime soaps only air once a week, during primetime hours. Primetime soaps also target a wider audience, so they tend to be more realistic. However, they still retain the drama and shocking plot twists that make soap operas so appealing. This list of the best primetime soap operas to ever air on television has been voted on and ranked by the community.

In the 80s, primetime soaps were all the rage, with "Dallas," "Dynasty, and "Knots Landing" as topics of conversation and can't miss viewing for every TV lover. When something exciting happened on one of these shows, such as the shooting of JR, everybody knew about it.

Although the primetime soap  died out for a few years, it reemerged once again when "Desperate Housewives" became a huge hit. Since then primetime soaps have continued to entertain television fans.

What are the best primetime soap operas in the history of television? Vote up the all time best primetime soaps below and see where the soap operas you love to watch rank.

 

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1
Dallas is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Larry Hagman, Ken Kercheval, Patrick Duffy

Premiered: 1978

Dallas is a long-running American prime time television soap opera that aired from April 2, 1978, to May 3, 1991, on CBS. The series revolves around a wealthy and feuding Texan family, the ...more

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#562 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #79 of 290 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

2
Dynasty is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
John Forsythe, Linda Evans, Joan Collins

Premiered: 1981

Dynasty (ABC, 1981) is an American prime time television soap opera created by Richard and Esther Shapiro. The trials and tribulations of two feuding families, the Carringtons and the Colbys, ...more

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#188 of 290 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time #286 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

3
Knots Landing is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Michele Lee, Ted Shackelford, Joan Van Ark

Premiered: 1979

Knots Landing is an American primetime television soap opera that aired from December 27, 1979 to May 13, 1993 on CBS. A spin-off of Dallas, it was set in a fictitious coastal suburb of Los ...more

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#386 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #73 of 118 The Best TV Spinoffslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

4
Desperate Housewives is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross

Premiered: 2004

Desperate Housewives (ABC, 2004) is an American mystery comedy-drama television series created by Marc Cherry. Secrets and truths unfold through the lives of female friends (Teri Hatcher, ...more

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The Best Seasons of Desperate Housewives #162 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #276 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

5
Melrose Place is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Heather Locklear, Andrew Shue, Courtney Thorne-Smith

Premiered: 1992

Melrose Place is an American primetime soap opera that aired on Fox from July 8, 1992 to May 24, 1999, for seven seasons. The show follows the lives of a group of young adults living in an ...more

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#309 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #54 of 124 TV Shows with the Hottest Castslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

6
Falcon Crest is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Jane Wyman, Lorenzo Lamas, Chao Li Chi

Premiered: 1981

Falcon Crest is an American primetime television soap opera which aired on the CBS network for nine seasons, from December 4, 1981 to May 17, 1990. A total of 227 episodes were produced. The ...more

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#16 of 222 The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time #328 of 510 The Best Shows of the 1980s, Rankedlisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

7
Beverly Hills, 90210 is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Jason Priestley, Shannen Doherty, Luke Perry

Premiered: 1990

Beverly Hills, 90210 (Fox, 1990) is an American teen drama television series created by Darren Star. A group of friends living in Beverly Hills, California make their way through life from their ...more

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Behind-The-Scenes Drama That Fueled 'Beverly Hills, 90210' In The '90s #370 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #265 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

8
Revenge is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Emily VanCamp, Madeleine Stowe, Gabriel Mann

Premiered: 2011

Revenge (ABC, 2011) is an American drama television series created by Mike Kelley, inspired by the Alexandre Dumas novel The Count of Monte Cristo. An emotionally troubled young woman (Emily ...more

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#157 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #278 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #158 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time

9
The Colbys is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
JonathanWilliams added Charlton Heston, Barbara Stanwyck, Katharine Ross

Premiered: 1985

The Colbys is an American prime time soap opera, which originally aired on ABC from November 20, 1985 to March 26, 1987. Produced by Aaron Spelling, it was a spin-off of Dynasty, which had been ...more

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#21 of 222 The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time #16 of 51 The Best Aaron Spelling Shows and TV Series

10
Peyton Place is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Mia Farrow, Leslie Nielsen, Ryan O'Neal

Premiered: 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, ...more

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#25 of 222 The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time #12 of 31 The All Time Greatest Daytime Soap Operaslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

11
Grey's Anatomy is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Ellen Pompeo, Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson

Premiered: 2005

Grey's Anatomy (ABC, 2005) is an American medical soap opera television series. The series focuses on the fictional lives of surgical interns and residents as they gradually evolve into seasoned ...more

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The Best 'Grey's Anatomy' Seasons #40 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watchlisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

12
The O.C. is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Mischa Barton, Adam Brody, Ben McKenzie

Premiered: 2003

The O.C. (Fox, 2003) is an American teen drama television series created by Josh Schwartz. A troubled youth (Ben McKenzie) becomes embroiled in the lives of a close-knit group of people in the ...more

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Seth Cohen Is A Disgrace To Nerds And A Horribly Manipulative, Narcissistic Character #228 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #319 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

13
Brothers and Sisters is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Mary Crosby, William Windom, Larry Anderson

Premiered: 2006

Brothers and Sisters is an American sitcom that aired on NBC from January to April 1979. The series attempted to capitalize on the success of the 1978 motion picture National Lampoon's Animal ...more

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#520 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #380 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #210 of 290 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

14
Flamingo Road is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
JonathanWilliams added Mark Harmon, Morgan Fairchild, Stella Stevens

Premiered: 1980

Flamingo Road is an American prime time soap opera that aired on NBC. It was first seen as a TV movie on May 12, 1980, and as a series on January 6, 1981, after a rebroadcast of the pilot on ...more
15
Melrose Place is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Heather Locklear, Andrew Shue, Courtney Thorne-Smith

Premiered: 2009

Melrose Place is an American television drama series broadcast on The CW from September 8, 2009 to April 13, 2010. The series is a sequel/continuation of the 1992 FOX TV series of the same name ...more
16
Scandal is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Kerry Washington, Henry Ian Cusick, Columbus Short

Premiered: 2012

Scandal (ABC, 2012) is an American political thriller television series created by Shonda Rhimes. A former White House Communications Director (Kerry Washington) starts her own crisis management ...more

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The Best Seasons of Scandal #115 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #304 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

17
Gossip Girl is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Penn Badgley

Premiered: 2007

Gossip Girl (The CW, 2007) is an American teen drama television series created by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, based on the book series by Cecily von Ziegesar. After a mysterious ...more

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The Most Ridiculous Storylines 'Gossip Girl' Writers Ever Came Up With #136 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #303 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

18
Twin Peaks is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
RobertA.Davis added Twin Peaks Kyle MacLachlan, Russ Tamblyn, Sherilyn Fenn

Premiered: 1990

Twin Peaks (ABC, 1990) is an American mystery horror drama television series created by Mark Frost and David Lynch and, despite being canceled after two seasons, sparked a cult following that ...more

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Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Twin Peaks #135 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #150 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

19
Savannah is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
George Eads, Jamie Luner, Robyn Lively

Premiered: 1996

Savannah is an American prime time television drama that ran from January 21, 1996 to February 24, 1997 on The WB. It was created by Constance M. Burge and produced by Aaron Spelling.

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#31 of 222 The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time #17 of 51 The Best Aaron Spelling Shows and TV Series

20
Devious Maids is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
RobertA.Davis added Ana Ortiz, Dania Ramirez, Judy Reyes

Premiered: 2012

Devious Maids is an American television comedy-drama series created by Marc Cherry, produced by ABC Studios and executive produced by Cherry, Sabrina Wind, Eva Longoria, Paul McGuigan, Larry ...more

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#200 of 292 The Best Female-Led TV Shows #790 of 1,318 The Best Guilty Pleasure TV Shows #46 of 113 The Best Comedy-Drama TV Shows Ever

21
One Tree Hill is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Chad Michael Murray, James Lafferty, Hilarie Burton

Premiered: 2003

One Tree Hill (The WB, 2003) is an American drama television series created by Mark Schwahn. Half-brothers Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Nathan Scott (James lafferty) trade between kinship and ...more

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The Best Seasons of One Tree Hill #149 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #298 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

22
Models Inc. is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
KeithBrennett added Carrie-Anne Moss, Garcelle Beauvais, Emma Samms

Premiered: 1994

Models Inc. is an American prime time soap opera that aired on the Fox television network during the 1994–95 television season. It is the third series in the Beverly Hills, 90210 franchise. The ...more

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#13 of 17 Single-Season Fox Dramas From The '90s That Burned Bright And Met An Early End #34 of 222 The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time #20 of 84 The Worst TV Spin-Offs

23
Central Park West is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
JonathanWilliams added Raquel Welch, John Barrowman, Lauren Hutton

Premiered: 1995

Central Park West is an American prime time television soap opera that ran from September 1995 to June 1996 on CBS. The series was created and executive produced by Melrose Place's Darren Star. ...more
24
Mary Hartman, Mary Hartm... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
horseplayer added Greg Mullavey, Louise Lasser, Graham Jarvis

Premiered: 1976

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman is an American soap opera parody that aired in daily syndication from January 1976 to May 1977. The series was produced by Norman Lear, directed by Joan Darling and ...more

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#247 of 303 The Greatest Sitcoms in Television History #342 of 458 The Funniest TV Shows of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

25
Nashville is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Connie Britton, Clare Bowen, Hayden Panettiere

Premiered: 2012

Nashville is an American musical drama television series. It was created by Academy Award winner Callie Khouri and produced by R.J. Cutler, Khouri, Dee Johnson, Steve Buchanan, and Connie ...more

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#312 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #357 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #53 of 222 The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time