Credit: John Paschal/JPI, ABC/Courtesy of the Everett Collection, Paul Skipper/JPI, Sean Smith/JPI, Howard Wise/JPI
Bonus Entry: Churn, Baby! Churn!
You’re going to see a lot of Guiding Light’s Reva Shayne on this list. And the sanest of the reasons why is the early-1990s revelation that after she plunged to her “death” off an unfinished bridge in the Florida Keys — “Worst… vacation… ever,” declared her soulmate, Josh Lewis — she’d wound up convinced that she was an Amish woman named Rebecca.
15. ‘Who *Was* That Masked Man?’
Oops. In 2010, The Bold and the Beautiful had Brooke Logan celebrate daughter Hope’s high-school graduation by sneaking off to a corner of the party and getting it on with her “destiny,” Ridge Forrester. One teensy problem: Erm, that wasn’t Ridge that she boinked, it was Hope’s boyfriend, Oliver Jones. Somehow, thanks to their masks, neither of them realized that the bodies they were fondling didn’t belong to their significant others!
14. Grave Matters
Forget burying the hatchet. In the early 1990s, Days of Our Lives’ Vivian Alamain instead buried alive the thorn in her side, Carly Manning. But that was just the show’s opening act. Its wildest plots were yet to come. Keep scrolling; you’ll get there.
13. Ice Capades
One of daytime’s earliest, bat-guano-crazy storylines was set in motion in 1981, when General Hospital supercouple Luke Spencer and Laura Baldwin embarked on a quest to prevent the stone-cold Cassadines from using a secret formula hidden in the base of a statuette called the Ice Princess to make a popsicle of planet Earth. Now if you’ll excuse us, we need to go get a sweater…
12. Alien-ated Teens
Days of Our Lives mixed E.T. and PYTs in 2002 when a meteor shower dropped on Salem scantily-clad twins Rex and Cassie, who weren’t really Martians at all but the genetically engineered offspring of Roman Brady and Kate Roberts. Which, come to think of it, was almost as much of a head-scratcher as the hotties having been from outer space.
11. Send in the Clones
We’ll never understand why The Young and the Restless’ supposedly all-powerful Victor Newman can’t beat nemesis Jack Abbott fair and square — but he sure as shooting can’t. So in 2015, he let Jack be abducted by his insane ex, Kelly Andrews, and replaced him — even in wife Phyllis Summers’ bed (eww!) — with a nefarious lookalike, Marco Annicelli. Keep it classy, Vic.
10. A Real Fake
In one of the most demented stories The Bold and the Beautiful ever told, we learned that Stephanie Forrester had let husband Eric believe for eons that eldest daughter Angela had been stillborn. Meanwhile, the queen bee had had their microcephalic child looked after in secret — until her wheelchair took her on a fatal roll down a hill. In the aftermath, her careless doctor brought in a substitute Angela, who lost her marbles after being badly singed in a car crash.
9. ‘Stalker? I Hardly Know ’Er!’
“Go big or go home!” pretty much having been Passions’ motto, perhaps it shouldn’t have been such a jaw-dropper in the mid-2000s when the NBC soap revealed that its malevolent blackmailer Vincent Clark was intersex, then proceeded to have them schtup both their brother and father. And then had them give birth to their own half sibling. Mm-hmm, it was so out there, there was no coming back!
8. Dead or Alive
Days of Our Lives came to resemble Night of the Living Dead in 2004, after the Salem Stalker — Marlena Evans in Jason Voorhees drag — laid waste to half the town before being killed herself… and turning up alive and well along with all of her loved ones on the island of Melaswen (New Salem spelled backwards). Who was to blame for the horrific bait and switch? Tony DiMera, that was who. Only even that reveal was a trick: He turned out to be his lookalike cousin, Andre!
7. Forward to the Past
Art aficionados don’t come any more enthusiastic than Guiding Light’s Reva, who in 2001 became so fixated on a painting that she allowed it to transport her through time, first to Edwardian England, then to the Civil War era, WWII Germany… You name it, she went there. Short of Family Guy’s time-tripping baby Stewie Griffin, no one is more well-traveled than the so-called Slut of Springfield. (By the way, this photo isn’t from that plot, it’s from when she was the princess of San Cristobel; don’t ask.)
6. Th-Th-That’s Doll, Folks
It might have been the pandemic that inspired The Bold and the Beautiful to pair poor, mental Thomas Forrester with a murderous mannequin that resembled the object of his obsession, Hope Logan. How much safer could love scenes get, right? But the big shock of the twisted arc that resulted wasn’t its ingenuity but its poignancy; in the end, the whole weird mess was less bonkers than it was brilliant.
5. Fang Male
Dark Shadows was knock, knock, knocking at death’s door in 1967, when the gothic soap’s creator Dan Curtis threw a Hail Mary — or was it a Hell Mary? — and disentombed long-in-the-tooth vampire Barnabas Collins. Ironically, the move pumped new life’s blood into the show and made it, however fleetingly, an overnight sensation.
4. Sheila E… radicated?
By 2007, Young & Restless’ embattled Lauren Fenmore thought that she was finally rid of the evil nurse who had stolen her husband, son and peace of mind. “Not so fast,” replied Sheila. The Michael Myers of daytime had inexplicably had herself plastic surgery’d to look like Lauren’s pal, Phyllis, only to be “killed” yet again and returned with her old face to The Bold and the Beautiful in ’17.
3. The Man Who Fell to Earth
There would be no phoning home for the General Hospital E.T. who landed in Port Charles in 1990; roaming charges, don’t ya know? Following a brief stay in the orbit of Anna Devane and daughter Robin Scorpio, the space cadet obtained the critical intergalactic crystal that would send him rocketing back to planet Lumina, leaving behind a doppelgänger to woo his benefactor.
2. In a League of Her Clone
After Guiding Light “killed” Reva for the umpteenth time in the late 1990s — or was it the umpteenth-and-seventh? — “widower” Josh was so sick of using air quotes to describe their relationship that he just up and Xeroxed his death-defying wife, a to-hell-with-it gambit that had viewers saying, “Well, hello, Dolly!” to a replica that grew up as fast as she was put down.
1. The Devil, You Say
When folks say that daytime soaps are silly, unreal, over the top, often what they mean is that they’ve vaguely heard of the Days of Our Lives storyline in which beloved heroine Marlena was demonically possessed. What they never know, and probably never will, is that the storyline was as thrilling and successful as it was daring and unexpected.