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The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas 

Ranker TV
Updated April 16, 2020 9.5k votes 1.1k voters 43.2k 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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#62 of 507 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #18 of 89 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Showslisted 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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#301 of 507 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #45 of 89 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Showslisted 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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#396 of 507 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #77 of 121 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 Episodes of 'Desperate Housewives' #158 of 643 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #276 of 334 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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#301 of 334 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #76 of 121 The Best TV Spinoffslisted 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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#18 of 52 The Greatest Soap Operas of All Timelisted 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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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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The Best Seasons of Revenge #146 of 643 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #261 of 334 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

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 52 The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time #17 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 52 The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time #13 of 31 The All Time Greatest Daytime Soap Operaslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

11
Brothers and Sisters is listed (or ranked) 11 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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12
Grey's Anatomy is listed (or ranked) 12 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 created by Shonda Rhimes. A group of young doctors faces the pressure that comes from practicing medicine in a ...more

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The Best 'Grey's Anatomy' Seasons #35 of 643 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watchlisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

13
The O.C. is listed (or ranked) 13 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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14
Melrose Place is listed (or ranked) 14 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
15
Gossip Girl is listed (or ranked) 15 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 #124 of 643 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #304 of 334 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

16
Flamingo Road is listed (or ranked) 16 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
17
Devious Maids is listed (or ranked) 17 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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18
Scandal is listed (or ranked) 18 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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27 Scandal Facts You Never Knew #112 of 643 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #174 of 199 The TV Shows with the Best Writing

19
Twin Peaks is listed (or ranked) 19 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 #152 of 643 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #62 of 199 The TV Shows with the Best Writing

20
Savannah is listed (or ranked) 20 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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#33 of 52 The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time #18 of 51 The Best Aaron Spelling Shows and TV Series

21
Models Inc. is listed (or ranked) 21 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
22
One Tree Hill is listed (or ranked) 22 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 #141 of 643 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #302 of 334 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

23
Nashville is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
Connie Britton, Clare Bowen, Hayden Panettiere

Premiered: 2012

Nashville (ABC, 2012) is an American musical drama television series created by Callie Khouri. The series centers around country queen Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton), and rising star Juliette ...more

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The Best Seasons of Nashville #399 of 643 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #30 of 52 The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time

24
Central Park West is listed (or ranked) 24 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
25
Ugly Betty is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas
America Ferrera, Eric Mabius, Tony Plana

Premiered: 2006

Ugly Betty (ABC, 2006) is an American comedy-drama television series developed by Silvio Horta, based on the Colombian telenovela Yo soy Betty, la fea. Smart but wholesome Betty (America ...more

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