Sponsored
1.3k voters

The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas

Updated January 14, 2021 10.3k votes 1.3k voters 47.7k views98 items

List RulesVote 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.

 

Photo:
...more
  • Dallas1
    377
    152

    Dallas

    Larry Hagman, Ken Kercheval

    Premiered1978

    Dallas is a long-running American prime time television soap opera that aired from April 2,...  more

    More Dallas 

    #229 of 266 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time#41 of 140 The Worst TV Series Finales Ever

  • Dynasty2
    382
    163

    Dynasty

    John Forsythe, Linda Evans

    Premiered1981

    Dynasty (ABC, 1981) is an American prime time television soap opera created by Richard and...  more

    More Dynasty 

    #45 of 89 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Shows#16 of 44 The Best ABC Dramas of All Time

  • Knots Landing3
    299
    139

    Knots Landing

    Michele Lee, Ted Shackelford

    Premiered1979

    Knots Landing is an American primetime television soap opera that aired from December 27, 1979...  more

    More Knots Landing 

    #67 of 78 The Best CBS Shows of All Time#94 of 141 The Best TV Spinoffs

  • Melrose Place4
    263
    130

    Melrose Place

    Heather Locklear, Andrew Shue

    Premiered1992

    Melrose Place is an American primetime soap opera that aired on Fox from July 8, 1992 to May...  more

    More Melrose Place 

    #21 of 43 The Best '90s TV Dramas#69 of 124 TV Shows with the Hottest Casts

  • Falcon Crest5
    231
    110

    Falcon Crest

    Jane Wyman, Lorenzo Lamas

    Premiered1981

    Falcon Crest is an American primetime television soap opera which aired on the CBS network for...  more

    More Falcon Crest 

    #17 of 30 The Best 1980s CBS Shows#4 of 34 The Best 1980s CBS Dramas

  • Desperate Housewives6
    264
    147

    Desperate Housewives

    Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman

    Premiered2004

    Desperate Housewives (ABC, 2004) is an American mystery comedy-drama television series created...  more

    More Desperate Housewives 

    The Best Episodes of 'Desperate Housewives'#213 of 397 The Best TV Shows to Rewatch

  • Beverly Hills, 902107
    209
    128

    Beverly Hills, 90210

    Jason Priestley, Shannen Doherty

    Premiered1990

    Beverly Hills, 90210 (Fox, 1990) is an American teen drama television series created by Darren...  more

    More Beverly Hills, 90210 

    Behind-The-Scenes Drama That Fueled 'Beverly Hills, 90210' In The '90s#346 of 448 The Funniest TV Shows of All Time

  • Revenge8
    171
    133

    Revenge

    Emily VanCamp, Madeleine Stowe

    Premiered2011

    Revenge (ABC, 2011) is an American drama television series created by Mike Kelley, inspired by...  more

    More Revenge 

    The Best Seasons of Revenge#22 of 75 The Best ABC Shows of All Time

  • The Colbys9
    130
    104

    The Colbys

    Charlton Heston, Barbara Stanwyck

    Premiered1985

    The Colbys is an American prime time soap opera, which originally aired on ABC from November...  more

    More The Colbys 

    #25 of 51 The Best Aaron Spelling Shows and TV Series#54 of 60 The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s

  • Brothers and Sisters10
    113
    99

    Brothers and Sisters

    Mary Crosby, William Windom

    Premiered2006

    Brothers and Sisters is an American sitcom that aired on NBC from January to April 1979. The...  more

    More Brothers and Sisters 

    #5 of 82 The Best Drama Shows About Families, Ranked#21 of 44 The Greatest TV Shows About Sisters

  • Devious Maids11
    55
    38

    Devious Maids

    Ana Ortiz, Dania Ramirez

    Premiered2012

    Devious Maids is an American television comedy-drama series created by Marc Cherry, produced...  more

    More Devious Maids 

    #108 of 283 The Best Female-Led TV Shows#577 of 640 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch

  • Grey's Anatomy12
    146
    140

    Grey's Anatomy

    Ellen Pompeo, Justin Chambers

    Premiered2005

    Grey's Anatomy (ABC, 2005) is an American medical soap opera television series created by...  more

    More Grey's Anatomy 

    The Best 'Grey's Anatomy' Seasons#186 of 201 The TV Shows with the Best Writing

  • Peyton Place13
    113
    106

    Peyton Place

    Mia Farrow, Leslie Nielsen

    Premiered1964

    Peyton Place is an American prime-time soap opera which aired on ABC in half-hour episodes...  more

    More Peyton Place 

    #25 of 51 The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time#16 of 31 The All Time Greatest Daytime Soap Operas

  • Twin Peaks14
    59
    45

    Twin Peaks

    Kyle MacLachlan, Russ Tamblyn

    Premiered1990

    Twin Peaks (ABC, 1990) is an American mystery horror drama television series created by Mark...  more

    More 

    'Twin Peaks' Is The Scariest Thing Ever Aired On Television#59 of 70 The Best Crime Fighting Duo TV Series

  • The O.C.15
    130
    130

    The O.C.

    Mischa Barton, Adam Brody

    Premiered2003

    The O.C. (Fox, 2003) is an American teen drama television series created by Josh Schwartz. A...  more

    More The O.C. 

    Seth Cohen Is A Disgrace To Nerds And A Horribly Manipulative, Narcissistic Character#26 of 97 The Best Dramedy TV Series

  • Melrose Place16
    115
    114

    Melrose Place

    Heather Locklear, Andrew Shue

    Premiered2009

    Melrose Place is an American television drama series broadcast on The CW from September 8,...  more

    More Melrose Place 

    #51 of 59 The Best Shows On The CW#14 of 37 The Best Romance Shows On Hulu

  • Dirty Sexy Money17
    70
    64

    Dirty Sexy Money

    Peter Krause, Donald Sutherland

    Premiered2007

    Dirty Sexy Money is an American prime time drama series created by Craig Wright. It ran on ABC...  more
  • Gossip Girl18
    123
    125

    Gossip Girl

    Blake Lively, Leighton Meester

    Premiered2007

    Gossip Girl (The CW, 2007) is an American teen drama television series created by Josh...  more

    More Gossip Girl 

    The Most Ridiculous Storylines 'Gossip Girl' Writers Ever Came Up With#7 of 139 The Best High School TV Shows

  • Flamingo Road19
    88
    86

    Flamingo Road

    Mark Harmon, Morgan Fairchild

    Premiered1980

    Flamingo Road is an American prime time soap opera that aired on NBC. It was first seen as a...  more
  • Models Inc.20
    79
    77

    Models Inc.

    Carrie-Anne Moss, Garcelle Beauvais

    Premiered1994

    Models Inc. is an American prime time soap opera that aired on the Fox television network...  more

    More Models Inc. 

    #21 of 85 The Worst TV Spin-Offs#11 of 17 Single-Season Fox Dramas From The '90s That Burned Bright And Met An Early End

  • Hotel21
    49
    47

    Hotel

    James Brolin, Anne Baxter

    Premiered1983

    Hotel is an American prime time drama series which aired on ABC from September 21, 1983, to...  more
  • Nashville22
    84
    93

    Nashville

    Connie Britton, Clare Bowen

    Premiered2012

    Nashville (ABC, 2012) is an American musical drama television series created by Callie Khouri....  more

    More Nashville 

    The Best Seasons of Nashville#40 of 220 The Greatest TV Shows for Women

  • Scandal23
    104
    119

    Scandal

    Kerry Washington, Henry Ian Cusick

    Premiered2012

    Scandal (ABC, 2012) is an American political thriller television series created by Shonda...  more

    More Scandal 

    27 Scandal Facts You Never Knew#50 of 63 The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century

  • Central Park West24
    74
    84

    Central Park West

    Raquel Welch, John Barrowman

    Premiered1995

    Central Park West is an American prime time television soap opera that ran from September 1995...  more
  • One Tree Hill25
    96
    113

    One Tree Hill

    Chad Michael Murray, James Lafferty

    Premiered2003

    One Tree Hill (The WB, 2003) is an American drama television series created by Mark Schwahn....  more

    More One Tree Hill 

    The Best Seasons of One Tree Hill#304 of 339 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years