Characters come and go on soaps. Some crash and burn. Others stick around, but never really distinguish themselves from the pack. Then there are those who stand out and soar.
Top 10 Most Memorable Soap Characters
Check out our list of the top 10 most memorable soap characters — those who are so popular that even non-soap fans know about them.
1. Erica Kane
TV Guide once named Erica Kane the most famous soap opera character in the history of daytime TV, and it’s hard to argue with them. Susan Lucci brought it as All My Children’s money-hungry, status-conscious sex kitten from her debut in 1970 and continued to stir the action until the show’s demise.
2. Stefano DiMera
TV fans near and wide recognize the name Stefano DiMera. Actor Joseph Mascolo made his debut in the role of the legendary Days of our Lives mafioso in 1982 and portrayed him until 2017. His Salem reign was filled with diabolical acts tempered by his deep love and devotion to his family.
3. Luke Spencer
Street smart and mixed up with the mob, Luke Spencer took Port Charles by storm when he arrived on the scene in 1978. Within a year, the complicated General Hospital anti-hero had become a daytime phenomenon. In the hands of Daytime Emmy-winner Anthony Geary, Luke was a perfect blend of infuriating scoundrel and sexy leading man.
4. Timmy the Doll
Before Passions hit the air, word leaked that the soap would feature a daytime television first: a real-life doll. Josh Ryan Evans was cast as Timmy, who came to life and served as town witch Tabitha’s (Juliet Mills) sidekick. Their antics made the soap must-watch TV. Sadly, when Evans suddenly died, Passions took a huge hit, because his presence was irreplaceable.
5. Barnabas Collins
A vampire with a thirst for blood and searching for his lost love, Josette, debuted on Dark Shadows in 1967 and quickly became the focal point of the soap. Jonathan Frid’s depiction of Barnabas Collins made him an overnight star, and the character a soap opera icon, transformed from a terrifying blood-sucker into a protagonist continually risking his life to save the Collins family.
6. Victor Newman
Daytime tycoons don’t come any bigger or badder than Victor Newman. Played to perfection by Eric Braeden since 1980, he’s emerged into The Young and the Restless’ most notable character. The self-made billionaire is a complicated mix of cunning, cutthroat, and charming with a never-ending drive to protect his family at any cost.
7. Marlena Evans
The good “Doc” continues to reign as DAYS’ all-time lead female character, having endured some of the wildest plots in soap history. Marlena’s possession by the devil in 1995 was an outrageous first for the medium. However, it is Deidre Hall’s portrayal of Marlena as a caring friend and devoted psychiatrist that has made her a beloved icon.
8. Laura Spencer Collins
Blonde-haired, blue-eyed Laura was a hit with fans, from the day Genie Francis took over the role on General Hospital as a teenager. From her initial pairing with Scotty (Kin Shriner) to her complex love story with Luke (Anthony Geary), the character emerged into a heroine adored by millions. And 40-plus years later, she’s still going strong.
9. Reva Shayne
Between her twisted love life and wild storylines, Reva Shayne was a legendary force to be reckoned with on Guiding Light. Actress Kim Zimmer’s interpretation of the character was always fiery and fierce, whether she was pronouncing herself the slut of Springfield in a fountain, embroiled in a sweeping love story, or portraying her controlling clone.
10. Victoria Lord
Victoria Lord and her multiple personalities made her stand out as the One Life to Live superstar she was. Erika Slezak, who took over the role in 1971, portrayed the multi-faceted heroine with aplomb, always keeping her strong and steadfast no matter what obstacles she was overcoming.