Credit: Images: Cathy Blaivas/ABC/Courtesy of the Everett Collection, Howard Wise/JPI, Sean Smith/JPI
Bonus Entry No. 3: Finn Finnegan, Bold & Beautiful
Evil Sheila deserved all the pain that she got after her attempt to murder daughter-in-law Steffy in cold blood resulted in her instead fatally shooting the object of her obsession, her own son. Or so we all thought until, watching through red-rimmed eyes, we discovered that surprise! He’d only died in air quotes.
Bonus Entry No. 2: Frankie Frame, Another World
The much-missed NBC soap may have sealed its own fate, in a way, when it had Cass Winthrop’s true love brutally murdered by the Bay City Stalker in 1996. Fans revolted, and just a few years later, the show itself was as dead as Frankie. (Read her portrayer’s response to the twist here.)
Bonus Entry No. 1: Oscar Nero, General Hospital
They say you never forget your first love. But in our case, we’ll never forget Josslyn’s first love, the sensitive teenager whose life was tragically abbreviated by a brain tumor. Our one consolation: that when he crossed over to the other side, he was escorted by his late grandparents, Edward and Lila.
15. Kiki Jerome, General Hospital
We might’ve shrugged off Kiki’s demise at the hand of Ryan Chamberlain, had it not been for the horrified reaction of her mother, Ava (who’d inadvertently set her murder in motion). We liked Kiki, don’t get us wrong, especially after Hayley Erin stepped in. But it was Ava’s demonstration of her loss that really made us feel one of our own.
14. Adrienne Kiriakis, Days of Our Lives
Proof positive that no good deed goes unpunished: Justin’s missus was rushing a pregnant Sarah to the hospital when kaboom! Adrienne was involved in a terrible car accident that set the stage for not only a devastating baby swap but her own untimely demise — and her widower’s relationship with her lookalike!
13. Abigail DiMera, Days of Our Lives
Chad and his wife thought that they had a bright future ahead of them. And maybe they did. The trouble was, it was also an extremely short future. In 2022, viewers were horrified right along with Chad when he walked into their bedroom and discovered that someone had used Abigail’s body for a Ginsu demonstration.
12. Isabella Toscano, Days of Our Lives
“Take me home” took on a whole new meaning when Brady’s mom learned that she was dying of pancreatic cancer. She asked husband John to bring her back to her native Italy, then slipped away in his arms after he’d granted her final wish: for one more dance with the man that she so dearly loved.
11. Hilary Curtis, Young & Restless
A random fender bender ended the life of Devon’s true love in 2019. That he got to make her his wife once again before she passed away was cold comfort to both him and viewers, who’d been so invested in their pairing that they’d even looked the other way as they canoodled behind the back of her husband — his adoptive father, the character at No. 4 on this list!
10. Nathan West, General Hospital
Talk about going out like a hero! Despite his tainted lineage — he was the son of supervillains Faison and Obrecht! — Maxie’s husband died protecting her from his father. And just when you thought the hurt couldn’t go deeper, Maxie named their son James after the dad that he’d never get to meet.
9. Katherine Chancellor, Young & Restless
Daytime never had, nor will it have, another like Jeanne Cooper, the born-to-be-an-icon who played Genoa City’s Duchess. So when she died in 2013, there was no question that the loss would be felt deeply — and for years to come. Even now, we have trouble writing about it without sighing like we’re a tire losing air.
8. Timmy Lenox, Passions
It would’ve been sad enough if the living doll had died from the injuries that he sustained during crush Charity’s battle with her zombie doppelgänger, but his portrayer, Josh Ryan Evans, who suffered from a form of dwarfism, passed away on the same day as his on-screen alter ego. And no, even now, we still can’t cope.
7. Caroline Forrester, Bold & Beautiful
The new Mrs. Ridge Forrester was looking forward to a long and happy life with… um… her ex-brother-in-law. (Hey, it’s Bold & Beautiful.) But leukemia had other ideas, reducing their years together to mere days. As they dwindled down, Ridge presented his bride with a collection of charms that — sniffle — represented the wonderful times together that they wouldn’t get to share.
6. Neil Winters, Young & Restless
As Devon sat on the stairs of his penthouse and gave in to the grief that surrounded him, so did we, for we knew that this wasn’t just the passing of a beloved character but his portrayer, Kristoff St. John, the Emmy winner whose smile had always made the soap’s set a little bit brighter.
5. Stone Cates, General Hospital
“I see you… oh, Robin, I see you,” sobbed the doomed youth, previously struck blind by his condition. With that, he succumbed to AIDS in the conclusion of what would turn out to be one of the last social-issues storylines that daytime television would be brave enough to tackle.
4. Bo Brady, Days of Our Lives
Guess we can stop holding out for a hero now. In 2015, an inoperable brain tumor knocked Hope’s true love off his bike for good. At least before he slipped away, he and his Fancy Face got to repeat their wedding vows to one another one last time — and in the spot where they shared their first kiss, no less.
3. Stephanie Forrester, Bold & Beautiful
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house — or at the Forresters’ Big Bear cabin — when in 2012, the queen bee succumbed to cancer in the arms of Brooke, who’d been as much the daughter she’d never embraced as the nemesis she’d always fought.
2. Cassie Newman, Young & Restless
“No, no, no, no,” we cried when the CBS soap had Sharon and Nick’s daughter pass away from injuries sustained when she made the mistake of trying to drive drunken crush Daniel home from a party. Neither her folks nor we ever quite recovered, which might explain why Camryn Grimes was eventually rehired to play her former character’s surprise twin, Mariah.
1. B.J. Jones, General Hospital
Odds are, if you’ve managed to get this far in the countdown, you’re looking at the photo above though red-rimmed eyes. How could you not be verklempt when, even all these years later, just the thought of Tony and Bobbie’s ill-fated daughter, whose heart still beats in Maxie’s chest, can evoke memories of what is arguably the most poignant moment ever on soaps? Pass the tissues. We’re right there with you.