The 1980s saw an even greater fluctuation of writers than the chaotic decade that preceded it. 17 writers went in and out of story duties, with the Dobson's keeping a third of the decade and Douglas Marland being moved back to the show from Guiding Light for the second half of the decade. The series managed to hover within the top six shows for those ten years, though unlike most other soaps, which saw exponential growth or steep decline, their audience numbers remained by and large the same as they had been with an incremental slipping down.
The darkness that had crept in during the 1970s exploded in the 1980s as James Stenbeck and Barbara Ryan moved to the center with plots in the fashion world, blackmail, torrid affairs and drug dealing. There was also plenty of blackmailing in town (thanks mostly to John Dixon) and the occasional con man drifted through as well.
Other stories focused on rape, sexual harassment, unexpected heirs, faked deaths, people being cured of blindness, temporary (often convenient) amnesia and returns from the grave. It also featured the show's first significant African-American characters and a gay character. In spite of the series placing most of its emphasis on new and young characters, Nancy and Bob remained on board, though their roles were somewhat marginalized. This didn't stop Penny from briefly returning, though Rosemary Prinz, who was known to badmouth the show, was hardly willing to stick around. The decade also saw the introduction of Craig and his sister Margo and the Walsh and Snyder families into the show's fabric.
The decade also saw many people pass through who would rapidly become mainstays of the soap world. Actors like Justin Deas and Margaret Collin, Christian LeBlanc, Peter Reckell and Martha Byrne all spent time on the series. Of course, the show also had its share of actors who would go on to make it big on Primetime and in feature films: Dana Delaney, Steve Weber, Julianne Moore, William Fichtner, Meg Ryan and Marisa Tomei.
Be sure to check out our Look Back At As The World Turns: The 1970s. (Video Included).
Did you know that Soaps.com is on Twitter @soapoperafan, and Facebook? Join us! And keep an eye on our ATWT newsroom for more glimpses back at the show's rich history.