Entertainment

The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time  

Ranker TV
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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.

list ordered by
1
Dallas is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
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
2
Dynasty is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
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
3
The Young and the Restless is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Eva Longoria, Shemar Moore, Tatyana Ali
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
4
Days of Our Lives is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Pamela Anderson, Shelley Hennig, Melinda Clarke
Days of Our Lives is an American daytime soap opera broadcast on the NBC television network. It is one of the longest-running scripted television programs in the world, airing nearly every ...more
5
Melrose Place is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
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
6
Dark Shadows is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Jonathan Frid, Grayson Hall, Alexandra Isles
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
7
Knots Landing is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
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
8
Falcon Crest is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
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
9
General Hospital is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Eva Longoria, James Franco, Kelly Monaco
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
10
The Bold and the Beautiful is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Usher, Katherine Kelly Lang, Hunter Tylo
The Bold and the Beautiful is an American television soap opera created by William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell for CBS. It premiered on March 23, 1987 as a sister show to the Bells' other soap ...more
11
All My Children is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Cameron Mathison, Michael E. Knight, Alicia Minshew
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
12
Guiding Light is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Hayden Panettiere, Matt Bomer, Brittany Snow
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
13
Another World is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Victoria Wyndham, Constance Ford, Hugh Marlowe
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
14
Peyton Place is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
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
15
One Life to Live is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Hayden Panettiere, Kourtney Kardashian, Marcia Cross
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
16
As the World Turns is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Julianne Moore, Sarah Hyland, Ming-Na Wen
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
17
Coronation Street is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Ian McKellen, Michelle Keegan, Helen Flanagan
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
18
Ryan's Hope is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Mary-Louise Parker
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
19
EastEnders is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Steve McFadden, Adam Woodyatt, Pam St. Clement
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
20
Passions is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Lindsay Hartley, McKenzie Westmore, Galen Gering
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
21
Santa Barbara is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Leonardo DiCaprio, Robin Wright, Judith Anderson
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
22
Neighbours is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
dee123 added Kylie Minogue, Russell Crowe, Margot Robbie
Neighbours is an Australian television soap opera. It was first broadcast on the Seven Network on 18 March 1985. It was created by TV executive Reg Watson, who proposed the idea of making a show ...more
23
Central Park West is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
JonathanWilliams added Raquel Welch, John Barrowman, Lauren Hutton
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
Hollyoaks is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
dee123 added Gemma Atkinson, Roxanne McKee, Emma Rigby
Hollyoaks is a British soap opera, first broadcast on Channel 4 on 23 October 1995. It was originally devised by Phil Redmond, who had also devised the Channel 4 soap Brookside. The programme is ...more
25
The Colbys is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
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