The daytime exit door always seems to usher out some soap opera greats every year, and 2020 was no exception — but while we know it’s bound to happen, it doesn’t make those losses any less startling.
2020 Soap Opera Exits
Some major stars bid adieu to the genre, at least for the foreseeable future this past year. Here’s a list of the Top 10.
1. Kristian Alfonso (Hope, Days of our Lives)
It’s hard to imagine Salem without Hope, but that’s the current scenario. When the show’s powers-that-be suggested pulling Kristian Alfonso from the soap for five months before bringing her back, she opted to permanently walk away from the role she’s played off and on since 1983.
2. Emme Rylan (Lulu, General Hospital)
In a stunning move to fans and actress Emme Rylan, the GH brass decided to write off Lulu, sending her to a long-term care facility, after an explosion left her with a traumatic brain injury. The timing made no sense, since Lulu’s true love, Dante (Dominic Zamprogna), had just returned to town.
3. Marla Adams (Dina, The Young and the Restless)
Jack (Peter Bergman), Ashley (Eileen Davidson), and Traci (Beth Maitland) said goodbye to their mother, Dina, when she finally succumbed to Alzheimer’s in October. Her long battle had been presented brilliantly until the very end, with actress Marla Adams delivering an authentic gut-wrenching performance.
4. Max Gail, (Mike, General Hospital)
Also bidding adieu courtesy of an Alzheimer’s story was GH’s Max Gail as Mike. The character passed away in September, after heartbreaking goodbye scenes with Sonny (Maurice Benard), Carly (Laura Wright), and others. Gail’s charming yet poignant portrayal of Mike captivated viewers over his three-year run.
5. Melissa Reeves (Jennifer, Days of our Lives)
When DAYS resumed production following the COVID-19 shutdown of all soap operas, vet Melissa Reeves, who resides in Nashville, opted not to make the commute and return as Jennifer. The actress made her last appearance in October, and the show hired Daytime Emmy winner Cady McClain as a temporary replacement.
6. William deVry (Julian, General Hospital)
After seven years of wheeling, dealing, and secret keeping, reformed mobster Julian met his demise after being shot… a couple of times. It was a sad ending for William deVry’s character and GH viewers, who’d come to adore the misguided rogue.
7. Greg Vaughan (Eric, Days of our Lives)
Greg Vaughan’s Eric headed back to the Congo, when a friend summoned him for help, wrapping up his current run on DAYS. Sadly, the move came right after he wed longtime love, Nicole (Arianne Zucker). Vaughan said he needed “a break” from the show. Hence, the door has been left open for his return.
8. Chloe Lanier (Nelle, General Hospital)
Seriously, does anybody really miss bad girl Nelle? The only good thing she ever did was birth Michael’s (Chad Duell) sweet son, Wiley. However, Chloe Lanier’s mesmerizing portrayal of the wicked wench was always deliriously delightful, so seeing her plummet to her death off a cliff in August did mean the end of some major drama.
9. Freddie Smith (Sonny, Days of our Lives)
So much for living happily ever after – in Salem. Freddie Smith’s DAYS future came to an end when the show’s bigwigs decided to script Sonny a job offer he couldn’t refuse – in Arizona. He left town to pursue it in September, saying goodbye to his dad Justin (Wally Kurth) and Uncle Vic (John Aniston).
10. Chandler Massey (Will, Days of our Lives)
Where Sonny (above) goes, Will follows. Chandler Massey was part of the soap opera’s decision to write off supercouple “Wilson,” too. It marks his second time leaving DAYS, although, this time, it wasn’t his choice. However, the door has been left open for return visits — which he got to do for Christmas this year.