Entertainment

The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time  

Ranker TV
Originally by
35.6k votes 2.3k voters 82.6k 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.

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

More Dallas

#436 of 780 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #186 of 2,286 The Greatest TV Shows 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
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

More Dynasty

#407 of 2,286 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #46 of 67 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Showslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

3
Knots Landing is listed (or ranked) 3 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

More Knots Landing

#1,521 of 2,286 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #356 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

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

More Days of Our Lives

#1,858 of 2,286 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #4 of 59 The Best Daytime TV Showslisted 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
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

More General Hospital

#916 of 2,286 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Timefeaturing The Best General Hospital Characterslisted 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
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

More The Young and the Restless

#1,632 of 2,286 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #8 of 59 The Best Daytime TV Showslisted 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
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

More All My Children

#1,627 of 2,286 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #28 of 59 The Best Daytime TV Showslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

8
Dark Shadows is listed (or ranked) 8 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

More Dark Shadows

#417 of 2,286 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #138 of 322 The Best Sci Fi Television Series of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

9
Melrose Place is listed (or ranked) 9 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

More Melrose Place

#579 of 2,286 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #316 of 385 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Yearslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

10
Another World is listed (or ranked) 10 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

More Another World

#493 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #14 of 59 The Best Daytime TV Showslisted 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
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

More One Life to Live

#1,820 of 2,286 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #32 of 59 The Best Daytime TV Showslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

12
Falcon Crest is listed (or ranked) 12 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

More Falcon Crest

#1,052 of 2,286 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #4 of 93 The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operaslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

13
Ryan's Hope is listed (or ranked) 13 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

More Ryan's Hope

#1,932 of 2,286 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #37 of 59 The Best Daytime TV Showslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

14
The Bold and the Beautif... is listed (or ranked) 14 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

More The Bold and the Beautiful

#1,579 of 2,286 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #18 of 59 The Best Daytime TV Showslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

15
Santa Barbara is listed (or ranked) 15 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

More Santa Barbara

#29 of 59 The Best Daytime TV Shows #17 of 32 The All Time Greatest Daytime Soap Operaslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

16
Guiding Light is listed (or ranked) 16 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

More Guiding Light

#1,910 of 2,286 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #21 of 59 The Best Daytime TV Showslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

17
As the World Turns is listed (or ranked) 17 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

More As the World Turns

#1,929 of 2,286 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #34 of 59 The Best Daytime TV Showslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

18
Passions is listed (or ranked) 18 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

More Passions

#45 of 59 The Best Daytime TV Shows #407 of 579 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Timelisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

19
The Edge of Night is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Martin Sheen, Marcia Cross, Lori Loughlin
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

More The Edge of Night

#2,033 of 2,286 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #40 of 59 The Best Daytime TV Showslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

20
Coronation Street is listed (or ranked) 20 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

More Coronation Street

#2,023 of 2,286 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #401 of 408 The Best TV Shows to Rewatch #74 of 93 The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas

21
Peyton Place is listed (or ranked) 21 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

More Peyton Place

#11 of 93 The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas #12 of 32 The All Time Greatest Daytime Soap Operaslisted on Longest Running US Soap Operas

22
Sunset Beach is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
julie Nnyanzi added Sunset Beach Kelly Hu, Susan Ward, Laura Harring
Sunset Beach is an American television soap opera that aired on NBC from January 6, 1997 to December 31, 1999. The show follows the loves and lives of the people living in the Orange County ...more
23
The Colbys is listed (or ranked) 23 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

More The Colbys

#10 of 93 The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas #17 of 51 The Best Aaron Spelling Shows and TV Series #55 of 62 The Best TV Dramas from the 1980s

24
Dynasty: The Reunion is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time
Heather Locklear, Joan Collins, Linda Evans
Dynasty: The Reunion is a 1991 miniseries reuniting the characters from the American prime time television soap opera Dynasty, a series which aired on ABC from 1981 to 1989 and was the ...more
25
EastEnders is listed (or ranked) 25 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

More EastEnders

#1,629 of 2,286 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #398 of 408 The Best TV Shows to Rewatchlisted on BBC One TV Shows/Programs