Cranking out scripts and soap stories five days a week, 52 weeks a year is a tough job, but that’s the task at hand for the writers of daytime dramas.
Top 10 Recycled Soap Stories
It’s no wonder a cycle of tried-and-true storylines continually makes their way onto our television screens but as long as it’s the first time it’s happening to a particular character (which isn’t always the case!), it’s still new to them. Here’s a list of the top 10 soap plots that are constantly repeated, and we still love.
1. Who’s the Daddy?
This twist has been a potent and proven one since the inception of the genre. A woman finds herself pregnant, after having had sex with two men. It’s a recipe for topnotch turmoil as the mother-to-be is plagued with guilt and clueless as to who the father is. The Young and the Restless pulled this off brilliantly when Drucilla (Victoria Rowell), fueled with cold meds, had sex with Malcolm (Shemar Moore), her husband Neil’s (Kristoff St. John) brother, and ended up with child.
2. Bait and Switch
An offshoot of the daddy drama is a DNA test to determine paternity. Yet, it’s never an open-and-shut case. Despite stringent hospital regulations, DNA samples are often swapped by a potential parent, a jilted lover, a conniving family member, a paid-off lab technician, or a meddling outside party. The false results can produce months or years of drama. Think Days of our Lives’ Sami (Alison Sweeney) conning everyone into believing Austin (Austin Peck) was Will’s father when it was really Lucas (Bryan Dattilo).
3. It’s A Twin Thing
Actors often pull double duty on daytime, playing twins or lookalike characters. Eileen Davidson famously portrayed Kristen and later her doppelganger Susan, who was a quad, on DAYS. Jon Lindstrom still brings shrink Kevin and his diabolical twin Ryan to life on General Hospital. David Canary flexed his acting muscles as ruthless Adam and his shy brother Stuart on All My Children.
4. Forget About it
Amnesia or a traumatic brain injury results in a character totally forgetting their past. YR debuted with mystery man Brad Elliott (Tom Hallick) arriving in Genoa City with no clue to his identity. On GH, following a horrific car accident, promising med student Jason Quartermaine was transformed into mob enforcer Jason Morgan (Steve Burton), practically overnight.
5. Back from the Dead
Heroes, heroines, and villains are regularly resurrected from the dead to throw citizens’ lives into a tizzy. Topping the all-time list was DAYS’ Stefano (Joseph Mascolo), AKA The Phoenix. Over at YR, mogul Victor (Eric Braeden) and his black sheep son, Adam, defied death in numerous soap stories, while Sheila (Kimberlin Brown) was presumed dead twice on YR, only to turn up and wreak havoc on BB.
6. Splitting Up
Multiple personality disorders are a common way to amp up onscreen conflict, too. And no soap did it better than One Life to Live. Prim and proper Victoria Lord (Erika Slezak) split into wild child Niki Smith, control freak Jean, and a few others. Decades later, her daughter Jessica (Bree Williamson) followed in her mother’s footsteps, branching off into party girl Tess and buttoned-up Bess.
7. Interrupted Weddings
Few trips to the altar, or to the justice of the peace for that matter, go off without a hitch on soaps. There’s always someone or something that dramatically interrupts a couple’s big day. Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang) actually rode in on horseback to stop Ridge and Taylor’s (Hunter Tylo) nuptials on BB. A disapproving Victor orchestrated his daughter Victoria’s (Amelia Heinle) during her first wedding to Billy on YR. DAYS’ Bo (Peter Reckell) kidnapped Hope (Kristian Alfonso) from her wedding to Larry.
8. Donor on Deck
You never have to wait long for an organ donor on daytime, although it usually comes at the expense of another beloved character. When GH’s Maxie (Kirsten Storms) needed a heart transplant, her cousin BJ was conveniently killed in a bus crash to supply the organ. On DAYS, young Zack was declared brain dead after being struck by a car, and his liver immediately went to save the life of his niece, Claire. When Victor was near death on YR, Colleen’s untimely demise provided the heart for his miraculous recovery.
9. Serial Killers
When a soap wants to clean house, there’s no way easier than scripting a serial killer plot. Plus, it totally ups the PR buzz around a show. GH originally tantalized viewers with Ryan Chamberlain’s reign of terror in the 90s, before bringing him back for more havoc in 2018. DAYS has delivered the Salem Strangler, the Salem Slasher, and more over the decades. Santa Barbara featured the Carnation Killer, and Another World had its own deadly Sin Stalker.
10. Welcome to the Family
Never before seen or heard from children regularly pop up in soap stories to enhance the drama and/or fight for their share of a family fortune. On DAYS, the DiMera clan has grown with the introduction of Stefano’s sons EJ (James Scott), Chad (Billy Flynn), and twins Jake and Stefan (Brandon Barash). Over the years, YR added Jack’s (Peter Bergman) long lost son, Keemo, while GH upped the members of the Quartermaine clan with Alan’s (Stuart Damon) daughter, Skye, and Edward’s (John Ingle) grandson, Justus.