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, American 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 Lives, General Hospital, and The Doctors were all set in hospitals, while many other popular TV soaps like Dynasty surrounded the lives of wealthy families. There were also a few supernatural soap operas over the years, such as Dark Shadows, Passions, and Port Charles.
As the World Turns, General 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.
- 1Larry Hagman, Ken Kercheval
- 2John Forsythe, Linda Evans
- 3Cameron Mathison, Michael E. Knight
- 4Eva Longoria, James Franco
- 5Michele Lee, Ted Shackelford
- 6Kristian Alfonso, Matthew Ashford
- 7Eva Longoria, Shemar Moore
- 8Victoria Wyndham, Constance Ford
- 9Hayden Panettiere, Kourtney Kardashian
- 10Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett
- 11Hayden Panettiere, Matt Bomer
- 12Jonathan Frid, Grayson Hall
- 13Julianne Moore, Sarah Hyland
- 14Leonardo DiCaprio, Robin Wright
- 15John McCook, Katherine Kelly Lang
- 16Jane Wyman, Lorenzo Lamas
- 17Heather Locklear, Andrew Shue
- 18Martin Sheen, Marcia Cross
- 19Ian McKellen, Michelle Keegan
- 20Lindsay Hartley, McKenzie Westmore
Sunset BeachKelly Hu, Susan Ward
- 22Charlton Heston, Barbara Stanwyck
- 23Susan Sarandon, Viggo Mortensen
- 24Julie Bowen, Bryan Cranston
- 25Mia Farrow, Leslie Nielsen