Soap Opera’s Most Controversial Moments EverPublished on February 13, 2018. Updated June 23, 2020
With leaked photos, affairs, baby-daddy drama — soap operas are known for their scandalous storylines. In fact, many fans tune in daily to indulge in this guilty pleasure of getting lost in the over-the-top lives of these daytime drama characters. While scandals rule soap operas, at times, controversial topics can arise within storylines too. Below are 15 of the most controversial moments in soap opera history.
15. Y&R’s Mariah Hits On Her Stepdad
Hitting the bottom of this list is a moment that occurred on the Young and the Restless (Y&R) in 2014. Mariah was the long-lost twin of Cassie Newman, a character that fans had watched grow from a sweet little girl into a young woman. Cassie’s relationship with step-dad Nick was a beautiful watch over the years, so when her twin hit on him shortly after she entered Genoa City, a lot of Y&R fans were grossed out by the entire concept. Thankfully, he did not reciprocate.
14. Days’ Marlena Is Possessed
The Days of Our Lives (DOOL) storyline around Marlena’s exorcism in 1995 is infamous when it comes to crazy soap opera angles. A daytime drama had never done something so over the top before and to this day Marlena’s possession is still talked about within the daytime drama community. Many DOOL fans found the story ridiculous and some also felt that the creepiness factor of it all crossed the soap opera line.
13. GH’s Monica And Ned Hook Up
May-December relationships took a turn for the awkward in 1988 when General Hospital’s (GH) Monica Quartermaine had an affair with her nephew Ned. At first, they had no idea they were related (by marriage), but once it did come out that Monica was indeed Ned’s auntie, the two continued with their affair and were not able to control their attraction for each other. With the age difference between them, mixed in with the fact that they were in the same family, the relationship was frowned up by many GH fans.
12. Days’ WilSon Walk Down The Aisle
Same-sex relationships aren’t new to soap operas thanks to the many pioneering characters who trailblazed in the past. Will Horton and Sonny Kiriakis were the first-ever couple to shed a spotlight on same-sex couples in the land of Salem and in April 2014 the two got married. This marked a tremendous milestone on the show, making WilSon the first male-male wedding to air on U.S. television in daytime drama history.
11. Y&R’s Mariah And Tessa
Speaking of, there’s a little storyline on the Y&R unfolding as of late that has raised some eyebrows. While lesbian and homosexual relationships have been spotlighted on soaps in the past, bisexual characters are rather new in the land of daytime drama. BFFs Tessa and Mariah seem to have an interesting storyline where their friendship is slowly turning into something more. The twosome has kissed, and as they continue to explore their feelings, Tessa’s boyfriend Noah, who also happens to be Mariah’s brother, is bound to get hurt (and a little freaked out that his sister stole his girlfriend).
10. GH’s Sonny And Brenda
GH fans of Brenda and Sonny would love nothing more than to see Ms. Barrett return to town so the couple could reunite. The two have always had tremendous chemistry together; however, when Brenda first met Sonny in the 1990s, despite their undeniable attraction, the coupling seemed awkward. Sonny was a mobster in his 30s, while young Brenda was barely out of high school. Brenda’s character did evolve rather quickly as the months progressed from a toxic teen into a young woman who knew what she wanted. Still, Brenda and Sonny’s initial flirty relationship did raise some eyebrows.
9. Days’ Bradys Stick Together
Many DOOL fans frowned upon the relationships that Max Brady had with his “nieces” in 2005. Shawn and Caroline Brady adopted Max when he was young, and the boy grew up over the years as a bonafide member of the Brady clan. That is why it was so creepy that he dated two of his nieces in the same year. While technically there was no blood relationship between him, Stephanie (Kayla’s daughter), and Chelsea (Bo’s daughter), they were still part of the same family. His relationship with Chelsea was a bit more understandable as she was Bo’s long-lost daughter and didn’t meet Max until they both were older; however, Steph and Max had grown up together over the years.
8. Y&R’s Victor And Sharon
Not only did Y&R fans find this storyline controversial, the actors themselves did not approve. Victor Newman had been Sharon’s father-in-law for many years and the two had established a nice daddy-daughter bond as time wore on. This made their two weddings in 2012 wrong on so many different levels. Their relationship that year was viewed as incestuous to many Y&R viewers.
7. GH’s Kristina and Parker
As mentioned above, bisexual characters are slowly popping up in the land of daytime drama and raising a few eyebrows along the way. Kristina Corinthos is known for making terrible decisions when it comes to boyfriends and it seems that she might have the same trait when it comes to choosing potential girlfriends as well. Parker and Kristina hooking up recently not only got some criticism from some fans because of the bisexual element, but also due to their age differences, and the fact that Parker was Kristina’s college professor.
6. Days’ Brother And Sister Hook Up
File this one under gross and controversial. When Cassie first entered the land of DOOL in 2002, she caught the eye of Lucas Roberts. The two made out and almost made love until they were stopped by her twin brother Rex. Turns out, Cassie’s mother was Kate Roberts, who also happened to be Lucas’ mom. Very unsettling to watch, but thankfully they were interrupted before anything else transpired.
5. Y&R Kay’s Facelift
In the early 1980s, the late (and great) Y&R actress Jeanne Cooper decided to get a facelift and pitched the idea of her character Katherine getting one as well, where audiences would be exposed to the entire process, first-hand. Y&R execs went ahead with the storyline and while there were viewers who were in awe of the storyline, others disapproved of the idea entirely. It was quite a controversial storyline for its day.
4. GH’s Laura And Luke’s Love Affair
It’s hard to believe that after all this time, Luke and Laura’s wedding is still the most-watched soap opera hour in American television history, as 30 million people tuned in to see the couple say ‘I do.’ The twosome is still one of the most popular daytime drama couples ever; however, their love affair will always be plagued with the fact that Luke raped Laura before they fell in love and it is still something that people criticize about the couple to this very day.
3. Days’ First Interracial Couple
Thankfully, interracial relationships are accepted in today’s day and age, but that wasn’t always the case. In the late ‘70s, DOOL’s Valerie Grant fell in love with David Banning, making them the first interracial couple in soap opera history. Sadly, the coupling received a tremendous amount of backlash from racist viewers. Past reports indicate that the two were set to get married, but due to negative mail by some fans, plans changed, and Grant ended up leaving Salem in 1977.
2. Y&R’s Abbott Abortion
To this day, abortion debates between pro-life and pro-choice advocates create heated conversations all across the world. Abortion is a hot topic in general, which made Ashley Abbott’s abortion in 1987 such a controversial moment in soap opera history. She was on the fence about whether or not she wanted to keep her baby with Victor Newman and her decision to terminate the pregnancy rocked Genoa City and daytime drama.
1. GH’s Robin Has HIV
Robin Scorpio’s HIV diagnosis could have had a controversial moments’ list all by itself. She was diagnosed with the illness in 1995, and fans were shocked that a major character like Robin’s would be given a condition of this sort. The silver lining of this was that the plot raised a tremendous amount of awareness for the disease and those living with AIDS/HIV. Robin would move on to make other controversial decisions while living with the illness, including becoming a doctor, engaging in other relationships with characters on the show, and eventually becoming a mother. Despite her HIV diagnosis, Robin has lived a full and rich live on the show, even popping into Port Charles now and again to this day, much to the delight of her fans.