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The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time 

Ranker TV
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Updated June 14, 2019 36.8k votes 2.4k voters 87.6k views 222 items

From daytime to primetime, soap operas have been a staple of television since Faraway Hill first aired in 1946. However, it wasn’t until the 50s that soaps really took off. Many of the most popular soap operas from the 50s first began as radio programs. For the next 6 decades, soap operas ruled the airways during both daytime and primetime, becoming obsessions for millions of people. Many of these soap operas spanned decades, introducing many new characters and twisty plots all the time.

Many soaps dealt with the same types of settings. Days of Our LivesGeneral Hospital, and The Doctors were all set in hospitals, while many other popular soaps like Dynasty surrounded the lives of wealthy families. There were also a few supernatural soap operas over the years, such as Dark ShadowsPassions, and Port Charles.

As the World TurnsGeneral Hospital, and The Young and the Restless were the highest rated soaps at one point in time. Primetime soaps, airing only once a week, have become incredibly popular as well.

What are the best soap operas ever? This list of the best soap operas of all time has been ranked by the community. Cast your votes for the greatest soap operas below and see how the soaps you think are great rank.

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1
Dallas is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
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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#548 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #69 of 292 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

2
Dynasty is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
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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#180 of 292 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time #284 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

3
Days of Our Lives is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Kristian Alfonso, Matthew Ashford, Mary Beth Evans

Premiered: 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

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#2 of 60 The Best Daytime TV Shows #211 of 1,316 The Best Guilty Pleasure TV Showslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

4
Knots Landing is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
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 #75 of 118 The Best TV Spinoffslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

5
General Hospital is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Eva Longoria, James Franco, Kelly Monaco

Premiered: 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 ...more

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The Best General Hospital Characters #3 of 60 The Best Daytime TV Showslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

6
The Young and the Restle... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Eva Longoria, Shemar Moore, Tatyana Ali

Premiered: 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

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#4 of 60 The Best Daytime TV Shows #5 of 31 The All Time Greatest Daytime Soap Operaslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

7
All My Children is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Cameron Mathison, Michael E. Knight, Alicia Minshew

Premiered: 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, ...more

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#241 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #20 of 60 The Best Daytime TV Showslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

8
Guiding Light is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Hayden Panettiere, Matt Bomer, Brittany Snow

Premiered: 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 ...more

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#18 of 60 The Best Daytime TV Shows #3 of 31 The All Time Greatest Daytime Soap Operaslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

9
Ryan's Hope is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Mary-Louise Parker

Premiered: 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 ...more

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#33 of 60 The Best Daytime TV Shows #9 of 31 The All Time Greatest Daytime Soap Operaslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

10
Dark Shadows is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Jonathan Frid, Grayson Hall, Alexandra Isles

Premiered: 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

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#151 of 341 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time #110 of 292 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

11
One Life to Live is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Hayden Panettiere, Kourtney Kardashian, Marcia Cross

Premiered: 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 ...more

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#19 of 60 The Best Daytime TV Shows #7 of 31 The All Time Greatest Daytime Soap Operaslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

12
Another World is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Victoria Wyndham, Constance Ford, Hugh Marlowe

Premiered: 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

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#306 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #13 of 60 The Best Daytime TV Showslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

13
The Bold and the Beautif... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
John McCook, Katherine Kelly Lang, Matthew Atkinson

Premiered: 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

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#16 of 60 The Best Daytime TV Shows #19 of 31 The All Time Greatest Daytime Soap Operaslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

14
As the World Turns is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Julianne Moore, Sarah Hyland, Ming-Na Wen

Premiered: 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 ...more

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#31 of 60 The Best Daytime TV Shows #4 of 31 The All Time Greatest Daytime Soap Operaslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

15
Melrose Place is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
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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#306 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #53 of 124 TV Shows with the Hottest Castslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

16
Falcon Crest is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
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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#6 of 95 The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas #322 of 510 The Best Shows of the 1980s, Rankedlisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

17
Passions is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Lindsay Hartley, McKenzie Westmore, Galen Gering

Premiered: 1999

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 ...more
18
Santa Barbara is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Leonardo DiCaprio, Robin Wright, Judith Anderson

Premiered: 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 ...more

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#22 of 60 The Best Daytime TV Shows #16 of 31 The All Time Greatest Daytime Soap Operaslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

19
Coronation Street is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Ian McKellen, Michelle Keegan, Helen Flanagan

Premiered: 1960

Coronation Street is a British soap opera created by Granada Television and shown on ITV since 1960. The programme centres on Coronation Street in Weatherfield, a fictional town based on ...more

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#367 of 422 The Best TV Shows to Rewatch #2 of 21 The Very Best British Soap Operas, Ranked #58 of 95 The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas

20
The Edge of Night is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Martin Sheen, Marcia Cross, Lori Loughlin

Premiered: 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 ...more

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#30 of 60 The Best Daytime TV Shows #10 of 31 The All Time Greatest Daytime Soap Operaslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

21
The Colbys is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
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
22
EastEnders is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Steve McFadden, Adam Woodyatt, Pam St. Clement

Premiered: 1985

EastEnders is a British soap opera; the first episode was broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 19 February 1985. EastEnders storylines examine the domestic and professional lives of the ...more

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#351 of 422 The Best TV Shows to Rewatch #1 of 21 The Very Best British Soap Operas, Ranked #37 of 95 The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas

23
Loving is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Julie Bowen, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Mitchell

Premiered: 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, ...more

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#21 of 60 The Best Daytime TV Shows #26 of 31 The All Time Greatest Daytime Soap Operaslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

24
Peyton Place is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
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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#10 of 95 The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas #12 of 31 The All Time Greatest Daytime Soap Operaslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

25
Search for Tomorrow is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Susan Sarandon, Viggo Mortensen, Kevin Bacon

Premiered: 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, ...more

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#59 of 60 The Best Daytime TV Shows #8 of 31 The All Time Greatest Daytime Soap Operaslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas