DAYS OF OUR LIVES, Stephen Nichols, steve patch

Bernard Boudreau/NBC/Courtesy of the Everett Collection

Honestly, we were just thankful that Patch had found a good barber in the time he was away.

Sometimes daytime creates characters so unique, so memorable and so inseparable from their soaps, it’s hard to imagine the shows going on without them. Steve “Patch” Johnson is one such case for Days of Our Lives — which makes it hard to believe that he was actually dead for 16 years!

The anti-hero debuted in 1985 and was murdered just five years later. And once we pushed past the first decade and into the second, it seemed like his death was one that would stick. But then, on June 9, 2006, we were treated to the shock of a lifetime.

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Jack was hospitalized and dying of something or other (don’t worry, despite his knack for kicking the bucket, he was cured a few months later), discussing treatment options. There were none left, his doc told him. It was time for hospice care. He called for the orderly who would look after Jack as his life slipped away, but when the dying man turned his head to the newcomer in his room, he wasn’t too weak to gasp, jump back and utter, “It’s you!”

It was then that we saw a familiar face with a patch over his eye. The hair was a bit shorter, the beard a bit longer, but there was only one person it could possibly be: Steve! Maybe?

The orderly just held water up to Jack’s mouth and told him to drink, completely ignoring the fact that he hadn’t seen his brother since the first Bush was president. It was a bizarre enough moment that Jack calmed down and decided that his vision was slipping away along with his life.

But it wasn’t. “This is incredible,” he whispered after hearing the orderly speak. “You’re here. You’re alive.”

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The “No kidding, Sherlock” look on MaybeSteve’s face was priceless, but he didn’t recognize Jack, nor did anything his patient tell him sound familiar. Was this hospital worker a doppelganger? A twin? With the exact same eye patch? That just seemed a bit of a stretch even for a town like Salem. No, it had to be Steve, even though he insisted that he was just Nick the orderly.

Over the next few days, Jack was determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, seemingly reinvigorated by seeing his brother alive, well and tending to him as he died. Though Nick didn’t entirely believe the fanciful things he was being told, eventually Jack convinced him to take a DNA test to see if they were brothers.

The result was conclusive: After 16 years, Steve was back!

But how? Steve had supposedly died in a hospital, his IV having been poisoned by Lawrence Alamain. Had the poor guy gotten lost there and never found his way out, eventually coming to believe that he was a hospice orderly who had to wander the halls forever?

No, of course not. That’s just silly. Steve did have amnesia for all those years, but that was because his mind had been turned to soup by the DiMeras as they’d kidnapped, tortured and brainwashed him to be their pawn.

Now that was believable.

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Either way, we had our Patch back! And though he’s left Salem for a spell here and there since, and his mind’s been messed with by the DiMeras some more, we’re forever grateful that we haven’t lost Steve again.

As we all know, death has no power over soap opera characters, and Steve isn’t the first (nor will he be the last) to rise from the grave! To help you keep score, we put together a handy photo guide of other daytime characters who’ve cheated death!