40.2k readers

Longest Running US Soap Operas

40.2k views39 items
List of the longest-running soap operas in US history. These TV soaps have more episodes than any others in American television. Some of the shows ran and have since gone off the air or been canceled, while others remain ongoing and are still being produced. Typically, these shows were collected into "seasons" of television, each with a pre-set amount of episodes. Sometimes, these seasons were broken up, in some cases with years or even decades between production of the series, while still being considered the run of a single TV show. (Spin-offs and other shows that were reinvented and debuted as new series are not considered.) This list contains all the longest-running soap operas in the history of US TV.

Because they typically run 5 days a week, long-running soap operas tend to have a staggering number of episodes, with some series coming close to or even breaking the 1000 episode barrier. The serialized nature of the programs means that they can run for many years - or even decades - continually, just by changing around the cast of characters as time passes. Before leaving the air in 2009, the CBS series "Guiding Light" was the longest-running drama series on television, and remains one of the record holders for the longest running broadcast programs of any kind in world history. (The show had debuted in 1937 as a radio serial, just days after the second inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.)
  • Knots Landing

    Michele Lee, Ted Shackelford


    14 Seasons. 344 Episodes.
    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 Angeles,...  more

    More Knots Landing 

    #62 of 82 The Best CBS Shows of All Time#75 of 128 The Best Spin-Off Shows

  • The City

    Jennifer Esposito, Morgan Fairchild

    PremieredNovember 13, 1995

    352 Episodes.
    The City is an American television soap opera that aired on ABC from November 13, 1995 to March 28, 1997. The show follows the loves and lives of the survivors of the Corinth Serial Killer as they...  more
  • Dallas

    Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy

    PremieredApril 2, 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 Ewings,...  more

    More Dallas 

    #52 of 54 The Best TV Shows That Lasted 10+ Seasons#8 of 44 The Best CBS Dramas of All Time

  • Days of Our Lives

    Suzanne Rogers, Kristian Alfonso

    PremieredNovember 8, 1965

    14000 Episodes. Currently in production

    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

    More Days of Our Lives 

    #687 of 1,314 The Best Guilty Pleasure TV Shows#20 of 31 The Best Current NBC Shows

  • The Nurses

    Dustin Hoffman, Martin Sheen

    PremieredSeptember 27, 1962

    395 Episodes.
    The Nurses is a serialized primetime medical drama that was broadcast in the USA on CBS from September 27, 1962, to May 11, 1965. It was originally called The Nurses; for the second season, the title...  more
  • Return to Peyton Place

    Mary Frann, John Hoyt

    PremieredApril 3, 1972

    426 Episodes.
    Return to Peyton Place is an American daytime serial which aired on NBC from April 3, 1972 to January 4, 1974. The series was a spin-off of the primetime drama series Peyton Place rather than an...  more
  • Generations

    Amy Yasbeck, Kelly Rutherford

    PremieredMarch 27, 1989

    470 Episodes.
    Generations is an American soap opera that aired on NBC from March 27, 1989, to January 25, 1991. The show was groundbreaking in that it was the first soap opera to feature from its inception an...  more
  • Sunset Beach

    Kelly Hu, Susan Ward

    PremieredJanuary 6, 1997

    755 Episodes.
    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 coastal...  more


    #19 of 51 The Best Aaron Spelling Shows and TV Series#6 of 26 The Best 1990s Soap Operas

  • Bright Promise

    Dabney Coleman, Coleen Gray

    PremieredSeptember 29, 1969

    605 Episodes.
    Bright Promise is an American daytime soap opera that ran on NBC from September 29, 1969 to March 31, 1972. It aired weekdays at 3:30 PM Eastern/2:30 PM Central....  more
  • 617 Episodes.
    Texas is an American daytime soap opera which aired on NBC from August 4, 1980, until December 31, 1982, sponsored and produced by Procter & Gamble Productions at NBC Studios in Brooklyn, New York...  more
  • Peyton Place

    Mia Farrow, Leslie Nielsen

    PremieredSeptember 15, 1964

    514 Episodes.
    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, the...  more

    More Peyton Place 

    #15 of 100 The All-Time Best Primetime Soap Operas#138 of 158 The Greatest Shows of the 1960s, Ranked

  • A Flame in the Wind

    Richard Thomas, Margaret Ladd

    PremieredDecember 28, 1964

    515 Episodes.
    A Flame in the Wind is an American soap opera that aired on ABC Daytime from December 28, 1964 to December 16, 1966. It was created by Raphael Hayes, co-author of the Cannes Film Festival winner One...  more
  • Loving

    Julie Bowen, Bryan Cranston

    PremieredJune 26, 1983

    3169 Episodes.
    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, was...  more

    More Loving 

    #24 of 55 The Best Daytime TV Shows#26 of 51 The Greatest Soap Operas of All Time

  • Ryan's Hope

    Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett

    PremieredJuly 7, 1975

    3515 Episodes.
    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 and...  more
  • As the World Turns

    Julianne Moore, Sarah Hyland

    PremieredApril 2, 1956

    54 Seasons. 13858 Episodes.
    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 other...  more
  • Guiding Light

    Hayden Panettiere, Matt Bomer

    PremieredJanuary 25, 1937

    57 Seasons. 15762 Episodes.
    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 June 30,...  more
  • Another World

    Victoria Wyndham, Constance Ford

    PremieredMay 4, 1964

    8,89 Episodes.
    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
  • Love of Life

    Dana Delany, Christopher Reeve

    PremieredSeptember 24, 1951

    7500 Episodes.
    Love of Life is an American soap opera which aired on CBS from September 24, 1951, to February 1, 1980. It was created by Roy Winsor, whose previous creation Search for Tomorrow had premiered three...  more
  • The Edge of Night

    Martin Sheen, Marcia Cross

    PremieredApril 2, 1956

    7420 Episodes.
    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 of its run...  more
  • General Hospital

    Maurice Benard, Steve Burton

    PremieredApril 1, 1963

    12401 Episodes. Currently in production
    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 drama...  more

    More General Hospital 

    The Best General Hospital Characters#154 of 229 The Greatest TV Shows for Women

  • Search for Tomorrow

    Susan Sarandon, Viggo Mortensen

    PremieredSeptember 3, 1951

    9130 Episodes.
    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, it...  more
  • The Secret Storm

    Joan Crawford, Roy Scheider

    PremieredFebruary 1, 1954

    5195 Episodes.
    The Secret Storm is a soap opera which the CBS television network transmitted from February 1, 1954, to February 8, 1974. It was created by Roy Winsor, who also created the long-running soap operas...  more
  • The Bold and the Beautiful

    Katherine Kelly Lang, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood

    PremieredMarch 23, 1987

    6036 Episodes. Currently in production
    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
  • The Doctors

    Alec Baldwin, Kathleen Turner

    PremieredApril 1, 1963

    5280 Episodes.
    The Doctors is an American television soap opera which aired on NBC Daytime from April 1, 1963, to December 31, 1982. There were 5280 episodes produced, with the 5000th episode airing in November...  more

    More The Doctors 

    #30 of 38 The Best Daytime Talk Shows#44 of 48 The Greatest TV Shows About Hospitals

  • One Life to Live

    Hayden Panettiere, Kourtney Kardashian

    PremieredJuly 15, 1968

    43 Seasons. 11096 Episodes.
    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 Hulu...  more