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The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time

Updated October 12, 2020 21.2k votes 2.6k voters 91.5k views50 items

List RulesVote up the best soap operas of daytime or primetime.

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 LivesGeneral 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 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
    651
    381

    Dallas

    Larry Hagman, Ken Kercheval

    Premiered1978

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  • 2
    All My Children
    467
    266

    All My Children

    Cameron Mathison, Michael E. Knight

    Premiered1970

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  • 3
    General Hospital
    509
    334

    General Hospital

    Eva Longoria, James Franco

    Premiered1963

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  • 4
    Dynasty
    570
    464

    Dynasty

    John Forsythe, Linda Evans

    Premiered1981

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  • 5
    Knots Landing
    476
    381

    Knots Landing

    Michele Lee, Ted Shackelford

    Premiered1979

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    #84 of 130 The Best TV Spinoffs#31 of 37 '80s Shows You Want To See Rebooted

  • 6
    Another World
    345
    227

    Another World

    Victoria Wyndham, Constance Ford

    Premiered1964

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  • 7
    Days of Our Lives
    500
    405

    Days of Our Lives

    Kristian Alfonso, Matthew Ashford

    Premiered1965

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  • 8
    One Life to Live
    370
    257

    One Life to Live

    Hayden Panettiere, Kourtney Kardashian

    Premiered1968

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  • 9
    The Young and the Restless
    474
    455

    The Young and the Restless

    Eva Longoria, Shemar Moore

    Premiered1973

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  • 10
    Ryan's Hope
    247
    221

    Ryan's Hope

    Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett

    Premiered1975

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  • 11
    Guiding Light
    321
    301

    Guiding Light

    Hayden Panettiere, Matt Bomer

    Premiered1937

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  • 12
    As the World Turns
    282
    270

    As the World Turns

    Julianne Moore, Sarah Hyland

    Premiered1956

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  • 13
    Santa Barbara
    304
    227

    Santa Barbara

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Robin Wright

    Premiered1984

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  • 14
    Dark Shadows
    339
    396

    Dark Shadows

    Jonathan Frid, Grayson Hall

    Premiered1966

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  • 15
    Melrose Place
    319
    418

    Melrose Place

    Heather Locklear, Andrew Shue

    Premiered1992

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    #298 of 334 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years#21 of 43 The Best '90s TV Dramas

  • 16
    The Bold and the Beautiful
    282
    375

    The Bold and the Beautiful

    John McCook, Katherine Kelly Lang

    Premiered1987

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  • 17
    Falcon Crest
    289
    381

    Falcon Crest

    Jane Wyman, Lorenzo Lamas

    Premiered1981

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  • 18
    Coronation Street
    230
    262

    Coronation Street

    Ian McKellen, Michelle Keegan

    Premiered1960

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  • 19
    Passions
    268
    269

    Passions

    Lindsay Hartley, McKenzie Westmore

    Premiered1999

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  • 20
    The Edge of Night
    206
    192

    The Edge of Night

    Martin Sheen, Marcia Cross

    Premiered1956

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  • 21
    Sunset Beach
    160
    143

    Sunset Beach

    Kelly Hu, Susan Ward

    Premiered1997

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  • 22
    The Colbys
    142
    253

    The Colbys

    Charlton Heston, Barbara Stanwyck

    Premiered1985

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  • 23
    Peyton Place
    161
    304

    Peyton Place

    Mia Farrow, Leslie Nielsen

    Premiered1964

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    #12 of 96 The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas#15 of 31 The All Time Greatest Daytime Soap Operas

  • 24
    EastEnders
    182
    325

    EastEnders

    Steve McFadden, Adam Woodyatt

    Premiered1985

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    #2 of 21 The Very Best British Soap Operas, Ranked#23 of 49 The Best TV Shows Set In London

  • 25
    Search for Tomorrow
    127
    234

    Search for Tomorrow

    Susan Sarandon, Viggo Mortensen

    Premiered1951

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