Credit: Sean Smith/JPI, George De Sota/JPI, Paul Skipper/JPI, ABC/Courtesy of the Everett Collection
Bonus Entry: Zach and Kendall, All My Children
What began as a marriage of convenience between Thorsten Kaye and Alicia Minshew’s sparring partners turned into something very convenient indeed: the union of two individuals who were so well-connected that unthinkable was the idea of them ever being torn apart. Fun fact: Kaye is the only actor who is half of three couples in this countdown.
45. Livvie and Caleb, Port Charles
When you compare Barnabas Collins and any of the women with whom he “necked” to Kelly Monaco and Michael Easton’s fangtastic matchup on the General Hospital spinoff that put the “super” in “supernatural,” Dark Shadows kinda… well, sucked.
44. Cane and Lily, The Young and the Restless
Given all of the lying and cheating that went on between Daniel Goddard and Christel Khalil’s characters, no one would say that the amorous Ashbys had a perfect marriage. However, what they would say — and we’ll do so till the twins are middle-aged — was that they had a heckuvan entertaining one.
43. Patrick and Marty, One Life to Live
Only one thing could’ve made the romance of Thorsten Kaye’s rough-hewn poet and Susan Haskell’s reformed bad girl more swoon-worthy than it was on screen — and we actually got that one thing: the knowledge that as the characters were falling for one another, so were their portrayers, now the parents of two.
42. Greg and Jenny, All My Children
The love story of Laurence Lau and Kim Delaney’s Pine Valley teens was as true as it was tragic. It seemed like no sooner had the high-school sweethearts overcome everything from his snobbish mother to mean girl Liza Colby to tie the knot than the honeymoon ended — literally — when the bride was killed in daytime’s most horrific jet-ski-related death ever.
41. Liam and Steffy, The Bold and the Beautiful
No matter how often or emphatically Scott Clifton and Jacqueline MacInnes Wood’s characters move on from one another, they’ll always be to their shippers as permanent as that picture of them that hangs hung in her living room. Before she finally took it down, it had outlasted even Stephanie’s portrait over Eric’s fireplace mantel!
40. Bo and Nora, One Life to Live
Reviewing the heavy storylines that were handed to Robert S. Woods and Hillary B. Smith over the years, you’d never know that the reason the audience so adored the Buchanans was because they were fun. They were playful. They were us, at least insofar as we wished we were in such a lively marriage.
39. Sharon and Adam, The Young and the Restless
We don’t get it. A guy stealing our baby and giving it to the stepmother he’d caused to miscarry would be a big-time deal-breaker for us. But “Shadam” shippers, dazzled by the sparks flying between Sharon Case and Mark Grossman, are ever ready, willing and eager to forgive and forget.
38. Nina and Cliff, All My Children
You bet we’ll raise a glass to Taylor Miller and Peter Bergman’s classic couple — and not just because we can’t resist bubbly, either. The sweethearts became so popular during the Golden Age of Love in the Afternoon that we all crashed their wedding. Er, weddings — they tied the knot three times!
37. Julian and Alexis, General Hospital
So incendiary was the on-screen pairing of William deVry and Nancy Lee Grahn that it amassed a passionate Julexis army that was even willing to forgive the sometime mobster for holding a knife to the throat of his beloved. Now that is a testament to a couple’s popularity!
36. Mac and Rachel, Another World
The moral of their love story: Always go to parties, even ones to which you weren’t invited. You see, it was Rachel’s decision to attend Mac’s Welcome to Bay City bash — at which she wasn’t welcome at all — that led to their meeting. Douglass Watson’s older man was immediately smitten with Victoria Wyndham’s reformed troublemaker — and smitten he stayed, even when jealousy and misunderstandings got the best of them.
35. Danny and Michelle, Guiding Light
Only the couple at No. 18 ever pulled off “married to the Mob” more sexily than the made man and his straight-laced moll that Paul Anthony Stewart and Bethany Joie Lenz played. Heck, we’d have walked a mile in cement shoes just to watch them gaze into one another’s eyes.
34. Mason and Julia, Santa Barbara
Daytime never had — and we doubt it ever again will have — a supercouple as witty and articulate as the one Lane Davies and Nancy Lee Grahn played with an energy and understanding that got them quite rightly labeled the Tracy and Hepburn of soaps.
33. Ridge and Taylor, The Bold and the Beautiful
Maybe she never stood a chance against Brooke and her destiny. But time and time again, Hunter Tylo’s gorgeous shrink threw herself, body and soul, into her relationship with the designer (played then by Ronn Moss), defying even vows of “till death do us part” to give it another go.
32. Blair and Todd, One Life to Live
They say that two wrongs don’t make a right, but you’ll never sell on that idea a fan of Roger Howarth and Kassie DePaiva’s pairing as the Mannings, a scheme team so formidable and indefatigable that they were not only one another’s best friends but one another’s worst enemies, too!
31. Sonny and Will, Days of Our Lives
Freddie Smith and Chandler Massey didn’t give us daytime’s first gay supercouple; that was As the World Turns’ Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann, aka Luke and Noah. But WilSon’s sweet romance struck a chord all its own, taking us from Will’s coming out to the point that he and Sonny were all in, not only saying “I do” but forming an ultra-modern family with Arianna’s mom, Gabi.
30. Lily and Holden, As the World Turns
Never mind the downtrodden expressions Martha Byrne and Jon Hensley are sporting in this particular image. From the moment that her poor little rich girl came face-to-impossibly-handsome-face with the stable boy of her dreams — they were a mite younger in the 1980s — we were all like, “Giddy-up,” eager to go along for the ride.
29. Phyllis and Nick, The Young and the Restless
Crack open any edition of American Idioms for Beginners and look up the phrase “too hot to handle.” Yup, there you’ll find the explosive couple that Michelle Stafford and Joshua Morrow put together like they were gasoline and a match.
28. Liam and Hope, The Bold and the Beautiful
There’s a sweetness and a sincerity to the way that Scott Clifton and Annika Noelle (and before her, Kim Matula) have played the star-crossed couple’s tumultuous romance that makes you believe in love again. At least until the storyline redirects the chronic waffler back into the pairing at No. 41.
27. Jack and Jennifer, Days of Our Lives
Though over the decades Matthew Ashford and Melissa Reeves’ characters have often been played for laughs — they’ve been like a romcom in the middle of Salem’s drama — viewers’ affection for them has always been serious business.
26. Hilary and Devon, The Young and the Restless
As if trying to define “so wrong, it’s right,” Mishael Morgan and Bryton James’ characters carried on behind the back of her husband — his father. His blind father, we might add. Yet their chemistry was so undeniable, viewers not only got behind the secret lovers, they longed for the day that the couple could be together. You know, without the sneaking-around part.
25. Natalie and McBain, One Life to Live
In addition to being two-thirds of one of the show’s all-time best love triangles (with Renee Elise Goldsberry as Evangeline), Melissa Archer and Michael Easton created a couple that inspired so much devotion among fans that they hoped against hope that Natalie would follow John to Port Charles when Easton crossed over to General Hospital.
24. Angie and Jesse, All My Children
Not only did Debbi Morgan and Darnell Williams bring to life daytime’s first African-American supercouple, Frankie’s parents were so super that Loving tried to recapture the magic (by pairing Angie with a Jesse lookalike also played by Williams) and ultimately All My Children un-killed the ill-fated good guy in order to reunite him with his “widow.”
23. Carly and Jack, As the World Turns
We experienced separation anxiety every time Maura West and Michael Park’s star-crossed lovers parted — and they parted a lot over the course of their bumpy-as-an-unpaved-road romance. But down deep, we held fast to our faith in the strength of their bond and maintained an unshakable certainty that the scheme queen would ultimately be led back to her true north.
22. Ben and Ciara, Days of Our Lives
Don’t bother trying to tell us that the heroine’s amnesia will be too great an obstacle for Robert Scott Wilson and Victoria Konefal’s alter egos to overcome. Once a couple has cheated death and dealt with the fact that one of them used to be a necktie-wielding serial killer — hey, it happens — everything else is child’s play.
21. Robin and Patrick, General Hospital
When they weren’t being tortured by interlopers like Lisa Niles and Britt Westbourne, Kimberly McCullough and Jason Thompson’s frisky General Hospital colleagues reminded us how “playing doctor” came to mean something sexy and fun in the first place. They’re also the rare soap couple that actually got to ride off into the sunset together.
20. Drucilla and Neil, The Young and the Restless
Talk about manifesting! When Victoria Rowell’s conniver needed to conjure up a fake boyfriend as part of a harebrained plot to steal her sister’s man, she recruited the late, great Kristoff St. John’s future mover and shaker to play the part. And though she didn’t get the guy she (thought she) wanted, she wound up with the man she really needed.
19. Kayla and Patch, Days of Our Lives
It shouldn’t have worked. In the beginning, Stephen Nichols’ one-eyed hooligan was downright menacing to Mary Beth Evans’ Sweetness. But thanks to ultra-romantic writing and the chemistry between the bad guy/good girl duo’s portrayers — which even extended to General Hospital during their stints as Stefan and Katherine — the pairing not only succeeded, it’s still enduring to this day.
18. Carly and Sonny, General Hospital
The tempestuous relationship between Maurice Benard’s mobster and his moll has withstood countless murder attempts, a host of manipulative meddlers and, perhaps most impressive of all, a rotation of recasts that’s included Sarah Brown, Tamara Braun and Laura Wright.
17. Doug and Julie, Days of Our Lives
Newer audience members of NBC’s one and only daytime drama may think of Bill and Susan Seaforth Hayes’ characters as just “Oh, that old married couple.” But longterm viewers know very well the hell that the beleaguered lovers went through to be together — as well as the combustible chemistry that inevitably led their portrayers to tie the knot off screen as well as on.
16. Dixie and Tad, All My Children
Not even poisoned pancakes could keep apart Cady McClain and Michael E. Knight’s Martins. Well, not permanently, anyway. Though they split up more times than we can count — we were never great at math — by the end of the show’s legendary run on ABC, they’d found their way back to one another once again.
15. Jason and Sam, General Hospital
JaSam to their fans, Steve Burton and Kelly Monaco’s thrill-seeking lovers fit one another as snugly as his trademark black T-shirts do his buff bod. And while the former Morgans will never be the schmaltzy hearts-and-flowers kinda couple — they got engaged with a lug nut and married at Noodle Buddha! — their connection is as unbreakable as that of any 10 “traditional” duos.
14. Marlena and Roman, Days of Our Lives
To this day, chemistry classes study the formula that made such a resounding success of Deidre Hall and Wayne Northrop’s on-screen pairing. Heck, we were sure that they were an unbeatable combination… until along came the match-up at No. 6 on this list.
13. Felicia and Frisco, General Hospital
During Kristina and Jack Wagner’s heyday in Port Charles, there was no way anybody could keep up with the Joneses. Where adventure went, they followed — often arriving before the adventure. (Yes, they were that good!) Sadly, the one case the do-gooders couldn’t crack was how to keep their marriage intact.
12. Sharon and Nick, The Young and the Restless
Joshua Morrow’s character would tell you that it was love at first sight when he glimpsed Sharon Case’s teenage dream at Crimson Lights (even though she wasn’t playing the part at the time). But what’s earned the on-again/off-again Newmans such a good ranking on this list is the fact that it was also love at second sight, love at third sight…
11. Robert and Holly, General Hospital
When Tristan Rogers’ superspy tied the knot with Emma Samms’ English rose to keep “late” pal Luke’s pregnant girlfriend from being deported, the newlyweds didn’t have any more idea that they’d fall madly in love with one another than viewers did that they’d lose their hearts to the unexpected pairing.
10. EJ and Sami, Days of Our Lives
When the NBC soap paired James Scott and Alison Sweeney on screen, they made the kind of trouble that we all wanted to get into! We can only wish his successor as Sami’s better (scheme-ier?) half the best of luck in throwing the same intensity of sparks.
9. Josh and Reva, Guiding Light
When a pair has overcome “death,” time travel, cloning, the Amish and Michelle Forbes as good-and-evil twins to be together — as Robert Newman and Kim Zimmer’s Lewises did — it’s not only safe but sensible to assume that they had something special.
8. Anna and Duke, General Hospital
Even all these years after Ian Buchanan was killed off for the second time, we can’t wrap either our heads or our hearts around the idea that the dapper don and Finola Hughes’ badass crimefighter have shared their last dance. How can they possibly be done when we all know the third time’s the charm?
7. Ridge and Brooke, The Bold and the Beautiful
Whether Ronn Moss or Thorsten Kaye has been acting opposite Katherine Kelly Lang, the show has altogether sold us on the frequently-married characters being one another’s destiny. One another’s fickle, flighty destiny.
6. Marlena and John, Days of Our Lives
A lotta couples insist that love conquers all. But only the one that’s been played for decades by Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn has proof of it that includes an exorcism. On top of that, the pair enjoys the distinction of having taken part in what, hands down, was soapdom’s hottest-ever hookup on a private jet.
5. Brenda and Sonny, General Hospital
None of us who thrilled to the romance between Vanessa Marcil’s mercurial model and Maurice Benard’s dimpled don need to be reminded that it was more than a great ride. Nor do we need any encouragement to keep the faith that their combustible relationship isn’t — and couldn’t ever truly be — over. Sorry, Carly.
4. Eden and Cruz, Santa Barbara
What Marcy Walker and A Martinez accomplished on the much-missed NBC soap was nothing short of miraculous: The Emmy winners created a couple that was as interesting when they were happy as when they were un-. It’s a high-water mark that few other duos have managed to achieve, least of all with the level of vulnerability that they brought to their roles.
3. Hope and Bo, Days of Our Lives
Today we celebrate our love for them. (Get it?) Because no matter how much sand passes through the hourglass, soap legends Kristian Alfonso and Peter Reckell’s dynamic duo will remain in our minds — and, even more so, our hearts — timeless. If only Hope’s ride-or-die had had the option to choose “ride” instead of “die”…
2. Victor and Nikki, The Young and the Restless
From the moment that Eric Braeden’s megabucks character got a gander at Melody Thomas Scott’s exotic dancer doing her best Gypsy Rose Lee at the Bayou, we were as hooked on them as he was on her. Ever since, our hearts have stopped when the Newmans have broken up, only to restart, skipping a beat now and then, when they’ve gotten back together again. And again. And again.
1. Luke and Laura, General Hospital
Argue if you must — and we know some of you will. But for our money, there’s never been a soap-opera couple as compelling, controversial or iconic as the one so memorably brought to life by Anthony Geary and Genie Francis. Though in the end the Spencers went their separate ways, we as well as they will always have Wyndham’s. Oh, and Beechers Corners, too. And the wall of Jericho. And…