Unforgettable Soap Opera StorylinesPublished on June 27, 2019. Updated December 7, 2021
The land of daytime drama has a rich history, with decades of storytelling that centers around everyday situations, romance, as well as social issues. While there are hundreds of memorable plots that shows have featured over the years, below are the 15 unforgettable soap opera storylines that have taken place.
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15. Melaswen Island – Days of Our Lives
This storyline is unforgettable because of its ridiculousness. In 2003, James Reilly came back to the show as head writer due to all-time low ratings. He came up with a storyline that saw many long-time characters die at the hands of the Salem Stalker, who ended up being heroine Marlena Evans. The storyline received a tremendous amount of backlash from fans who couldn’t bear the thought of all their favorite characters leaving the show. The storyline was quickly rewritten, and it turned out all those who died were really alive on an island, and Stefano DiMera was at the helm of it all.
14. Jack Leaves Victor For Dead – Young and the Restless
The rivalry between the Jack and Victor over the years is an overarching theme for both characters and despite truces between the two here and there over the years, they still despise each other to this very day. Years back during the thick of their feud the two had a heated argument where Jack left Victor for dead after the Moustache collapsed. The cliffhanger sent shockwaves throughout the daytime drama world. The good news is that while Jack did storm out of the room, he also reconsidered this decision and in the end, he turned back to help his sworn enemy.
13. Robin Gets HIV – General Hospital
It’s a storyline that still continues to this very day, yet still rocked the soap opera world at the time. In the mid-90s, Robin’s first love ended up having (and dying from) AIDS. The two were intimate together, and thus Robin would end up being diagnosed with HIV. What seemed like a death sentence grew into a wonderful storyline that increased awareness around HIV/AIDS, and those living with the condition.
12. Marty’s Gang Rape – One Life to Life
While rape has been profiled on soap operas for decades now, One Life to Life provided a different angle around this terrible social issue. In 1993, soap opera audiences were horrified when Marty Saybrooke was gang-raped by Todd Manning (and some other frat boys) at the Spring Fling dance. The storyline was powerful, emotional, and offered an interesting perspective to the strength that victims need in order to come forward when something this awful takes place.
11. Stephanie’s Cancer Battle – Bold and the Beautiful
A pivotal character on the Bold and the Beautiful, Stephanie Forrester was diagnosed with lung cancer in October 2012. In typical Stephanie style, she wanted to die on her own terms and refused treatment, with the idea that she would enjoy her final days instead of fighting to stay alive. She was thrown a party where she said her proper goodbyes to loved ones, and in an emotionally-charged episode one month later, Stephanie said goodbye to the Bold and the Beautiful, dying in Brooke’s arms as she sang her to sleep.
10. Patch and Kayla’s First Wedding – Days of Our Lives
The super couple that has stood the test of time! While there have been many duos who have had incredible love stories over the years, nothing can compare to Steve and Kayla first falling in love. The roller coaster of a relationship these two had to get to the altar for the first time was incredible. They battled ex-husbands, Kayla’s inability to hear or speak, and Steve reforming himself from a bad boy to a decent citizen. The story all culminated one fine day in July 1988, on a beautiful boat surrounded by yellow roses, as well as family and friends, as the couple finally said, ‘I do.’
9. Brad Carlton’s Death – Young and the Restless
Deaths are not all that surprising nowadays, with Internet spoilers and social media allowing information around actors and their comings and goings. In 2009, Brad Carlton’s death rocked Genoa City, with multiple plots intertwining together, which led to his infamous drowning. It all began when Sharon Newman drove up to the Abbott cabin to be alone. Brad followed her in a snowstorm, hoping that he could declare his love for her so the two could become a couple. She’d let him down (softly), and ironically, on his way back to Genoa City, he’d end up saving her son Noah from drowning in a lake. Sadly, Brad suffered the fate he saved Noah from, being found the next day frozen under a sheet of ice. Very Greek tragedy-like.
8. A.J. Is Born – General Hospital
Tracey has always had a roller coaster of a relationship with dad Edward; however, she increasingly became quite insecure after A.J. Quartermaine was born, worried that another grandson in the family would mean less of an inheritance for her own boy Ned. Due to her actions, Edward decided to draw up another will, taking Tracey entirely out of it. The storyline hit its peak when Edward was about to sign it and began to struggle before he could put pen on paper. He fell to the ground, begging Tracey to give him some medication to help him. Her refusal was not only one of the most memorable cliff-hangers in General Hospital history, but also one of the most controversial. Turns out the entire scenario was just a test and Edward ended up being okay.
7. Eric Kane’s Abortion – All My Children
In 1973, Eric Kane dove into a controversial storyline that saw her get television’s first legal abortion. What created an added layer to the entire plot was the fact that she aborted the pregnancy because she simply was not ready to have a child yet. The storyline was also quite memorable because it unraveled shortly after the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling. Erica would go on to mentally block what had happened, believing she suffered a miscarriage. Fans would be outraged years later in 2005 when it turned out that said aborted fetus was re-planted into another woman and Eric had a son he had not known about. Ah, the land of soaps! New writers always have to taint old storylines.
6. Will The Real Roman Brady Please Stand Up – Days of Our Lives
Roman Brady was thought to be dead back in 1984; however, two years later it turned out that was actually alive. He looked different, acted a bit different, and it took him a while to regain his memories, but he eventually fell back into his old life in Salem. In fact, for five long years, John Black lived Roman Brady’s life, raising his children and bedding his wife. That is, until the real Roman Brady returned, launching a new overarching storyline when it came to John Black about his unknown past and history.
5. Jason Quartermaine Evolves Into Jason Morgan
Jason Quartermaine was as clean cut as they came during his teenage years and young adulthood. He wanted to be a doctor, got good grades, volunteered, and always did the right thing. That all changed after an accident caused him to have brain damage, thus resulting in amnesia. Jason cut ties from the Quartermaine clan and began hanging with Sonny Corinthos, Port Charles’ resident mob boss. In fact, since Jason’s evolution from spoiled rich kid to “Stone Cold,” he’s become one of the most pivotal characters on the soap in recent history. Wonder what would have happened if General Hospital writers never dreamt up the accident and new Morgan persona? Would Jason be as important to the show as he is now? We’ll never know!
4. Sheila Carter Crosses Over – Young and the Restless/Bold and the Beautiful
While there has been a couple of character-crossover storylines in daytime drama over the years, Sheila Carter’s move from Genoa City to L.A.’s fashion industry back in 1992 was huge. It essentially helped link sister soaps Young and the Restless and Bold and the Beautiful, and opened a gateway for other Y&R and B&B characters to bounce back and forth as well. Sheila Carter also has bounced back quite a bit between shows over the years.
3. Marlena Is Possessed – Days of Our Lives
Over two decades have passed, and Days fans still talk about the storyline around Marlena’s possession. It was creepy, it was scary, funny at times, and maybe a tad ridiculous; however, Marlena being possessed by the Devil was an unforgettable plot. Perhaps this was because it felt like it lasted forever, but thankfully John Black had some experience in exorcisms because he was a former priest, and was able to rid his love of that demon for good!
2. Colleen’s Death – Young and the Restless
The craziness and irony around Colleen Carlton’s death are still remembered to this day. From drowning in the same lake as her father did to donating her heart to the man who had been torturing before her passing (Victor Newman), the storyline surrounding her passing was bittersweet, sad, and very emotional. To this day, we are reminded that Colleen lives on in the heart of the Moustache. It is just too bad that it continues to darken over time thanks to his terrible ways.
1. Tony and Bobbie Lose Their Daughter But Save Their Niece – General Hospital
Deaths are never an easy thing to endure; however, when little B.J. Jones, daughter of Bobbie and Tony, was announced brain-dead upon arrival at the hospital after a bus accident in 1994, General Hospital fans were hit hard. What was even harder was the fact that Tony and Bobbie had to make a quick and hard decision: pull the plug on their daughter, to save the life of their niece Maxie, who required a heart transplant. The storyline was emotional, bittersweet, and a hard watch for any fan who was a parent or caretaker. Decades later and GH viewers still get goosebumps when reading or talking about it.