Entertainment

The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas  

Ranker TV
8.3k votes 1k voters 37.6k views 93 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.

 

list ordered by
1
Dynasty is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
John Forsythe, Linda Evans, Joan Collins
Dynasty is an American prime time television soap opera that aired on ABC from January 12, 1981 to May 11, 1989. The series, created by Richard and Esther Shapiro and produced by Aaron Spelling, ...more
2
Dallas is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Larry Hagman, Ken Kercheval, Patrick Duffy
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
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
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
4
Falcon Crest is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Jane Wyman, Lorenzo Lamas, Chao Li Chi
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
5
Desperate Housewives is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross
Desperate Housewives is an American television comedy-drama-mystery series created by Marc Cherry and produced by ABC Studios and Cherry Productions. It aired Sundays at 9 P.M. Eastern/8 P.M. ...more
6
Melrose Place is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Heather Locklear, Andrew Shue, Courtney Thorne-Smith
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
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
Beverly Hills, 90210 is an American drama series that originally aired from October 4, 1990 to May 17, 2000 on Fox and was produced by Spelling Television in the United States, and subsequently ...more
8
Revenge is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Madeleine Stowe, Emily VanCamp, Gabriel Mann
Revenge is an American primetime television series that airs on ABC, starring Madeleine Stowe and Emily VanCamp, which debuted on September 21, 2011. During its first season it aired on ...more
9
Peyton Place is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Mia Farrow, Leslie Nielsen, Ryan O'Neal
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
10
Twin Peaks is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
RobertA.Davis added Kyle MacLachlan, Russ Tamblyn, Sherilyn Fenn
Twin Peaks (Showtime, 2017) is a miniseries that follows FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) in a continuation of the original 1990 series, created by David Lynch.
11
The Colbys is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
JonathanWilliams added Charlton Heston, Barbara Stanwyck, Katharine Ross
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
12
Devious Maids is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
RobertA.Davis added Ana Ortiz, Dania Ramirez, Judy Reyes
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
13
Grey's Anatomy is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Ellen Pompeo, Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson
Grey's Anatomy is an American medical soap opera television series that premiered on American Broadcasting Company as a mid-season replacement on March 27, 2005. The series has aired eleven ...more
14
Riverdale is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
RobertA.Davis added KJ Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes
Riverdale (The CW, 2017) is an American teen drama television series developed by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, based on the characters of Archie Comics. The series follows Archie Andrews' (KJ Apa) ...more
15
Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
horseplayer added Greg Mullavey, Louise Lasser, Graham Jarvis
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
16
Brothers and Sisters is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Mary Crosby, William Windom, Larry Anderson
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
17
Flamingo Road is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
JonathanWilliams added Mark Harmon, Morgan Fairchild, Stella Stevens
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
18
The Haves And The Have Nots is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
RobertA.Davis added Gavin Houston
Written, directed and produced by Tyler Perry, "The Haves and the Have Nots" is a drama series following the dynamics of the affluent Cryer family and the impoverished family of Hanna, ...more
19
Mistresses is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
RobertA.Davis added Alyssa Milano, Yunjin Kim, Rochelle Aytes
Mistresses is an American mystery drama television series based on the 2008–10 U.K. series of the same name, about the lives of four female friends and their involvement in an array of illicit ...more
20
General Hospital: Night Shift is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
RobertA.Davis added Billy Dee Williams, Nazanin Boniadi, Antonio Sabàto
General Hospital: Night Shift is an American prime time serial that first aired on Soapnet for a 13-episode run from July 12, 2007 to October 4, 2007. A spin-off of the ABC Daytime soap opera ...more
21
Queen Sugar is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
RobertA.Davis added Rutina Wesley, Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Kofi Siriboe
Queen Sugar (OWN, 2016) is an American drama television series created by Ava DuVernay. Three siblings move to Louisiana to inherit an 800 acre sugarcane farm left by their recently departed
22
The O.C. is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Mischa Barton, Adam Brody, Peter Gallagher
The O.C. is an American teen drama television series that originally aired on the Fox network in the United States from August 5, 2003, to February 22, 2007, running a total of four seasons. The ...more
23
Ambitions is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Robin Givins, Essence Atkins, Brian J. White
Ambitions (OWN, 2019) is an American drama television series created by Jamey Giddens and Will Packer. Ex-best friends Stephanie Lancaster (Robin Givens), the mayor's wife, and Amara Hughes ...more
24
Scandal is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Kerry Washington, Henry Ian Cusick, Columbus Short
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
25
Melrose Place is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Heather Locklear, Andrew Shue, Courtney Thorne-Smith
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