Daytime dramas occasionally surprise viewers with bold, unexpected plot turns. However, more often than not they’re peppered with storyline twists and devices that fans can see coming a mile away. Here’s a list of the Top 10 soap opera clichés.
1. From Pampers to Prom Night
Children grow up wickedly fast on soaps. One day, a new mom is changing her baby’s diaper. A few years later, the kid is a teenager and preparing for prom night. Think Cane Ashby (Daniel Goddard) and Lily’s (Christel Khalil) twins on The Young and the Restless.
2. Wedding Bell Blues
A calm peaceful wedding that goes off without a hitch? You’ll never see one on daytime. Nuptials always end with a bang. Sometimes literally, like Ciara Brady (Victoria Konefal) and Ben Weston’s (Robert Scott Wilson) Days of our Lives ceremony that ended with the church exploding. Other times, someone stops the ceremony or a bride or groom learns a deep dark secret that prompts them to call things off.
3. Dead Men Walking
The term “dead and buried” doesn’t mean much on soaps. Characters are constantly resurrected courtesy of magic potions and plots that explain how they survived a catastrophe. DAYS’ Stefano DiMera (Joseph Mascolo) and General Hospital’s Helena Cassadine (Constance Towers) both rose from their graves numerous times.
4. Talking to Myself
When a soap character has a dilemma or big bad secret, you’ll often find them talking to themselves about it –- out loud. Of course, someone who shouldn’t overhear their solo conversation always does. And that’s when all hell breaks loose.
5. Who’s the Daddy?
Daytime pregnancies often mean a mother-to-be is fretting over who’s the father of her unborn child after she’s slept with two men. A secret paternity test usually follows, not that you can really believe the results. Someone usually sneaks into the lab and changes the outcome to whichever way serves them best.
6. Soap Opera Baby Switcheroos
Be wary of any soap that has two women pregnant at the exact same time. It’s a red flag that two infants are about to be swapped in the hospital nursery. It’s a ratings-grabbing plot, rife with great drama and emotion when the truth finally comes out.
7. Double Trouble
The surest route to a Daytime Emmy nomination is playing more than one character, and, lucky for soap actors, that twist is a regular occurrence thanks to twins, lookalikes, and multiple personality disorders. One Life to Live’s Erika Slezak had oodles of personalities as Victoria Lord, and Jon Lindstrom played polar opposite twins Kevin and Ryan on GH.
8. Do I Know You?
A great twist to inject new life into a stagnant coupling or a boring character is amnesia or permanent memory loss. It allows for everything to change in the blink of an eye and, in the process, infuses the situation with great drama. Think GH’s ho-hum Jason Quartermaine’s transformation into Sonny’s (Maurice Benard) fierce right-hand man Jason Morgan, after his car crash into a tree.
9. Soap Opera Medical Miracles
There’s no ailment that can’t be cured on soaps. Characters survive car crashes, plane crashes, irreversible diseases. DAYS’ Jack Deveraux (Matthew Ashford) was once dying of Hodgkins Disease. He’s still thriving 20 years later. Does someone need a heart transplant? One suddenly turns up, and it usually belongs to someone they loathe or love. The Bold and the Beautiful’s Heather Tom has undergone two transplants as Katie and is still thriving.
10. Oh Brother
There’s no bigger bummer than falling madly in love with someone, only to find out they’re actually your long-lost brother or sister. Daytime writers take great delight in playing the sibling card. It’s both deliciously perverse and gut-wrenching at the same time.