Credit: Howard Wise/JPI (2), Jill Johnson/JPI, Brian Lowe/JPI, Getty Images, John Paschal/JPI
All My Children established itself as a trailblazing daytime drama by having Erica Kane get soaps’ first legal abortion in 1973. Thirty-two years later, new execs shrugged off the milestone and altogether undid it — “Who needs continuity!” — by introducing the diva’s grown son.
Say What Now?
In 2015, Bold & Beautiful attracted the rarest of rarities — actual mainstream attention — with its reveal that Maya Avant is transgender. Then the show capitalized on its moment in the spotlight by… Oh dear. Backburnering and writing off the vivacious character.
Rather than recognize what a charismatic leading man it had in Robert Scott Wilson, Days of Our Lives made Ben Weston the Necktie Killer, then had to do backflips to redeem the serial killer so that he could be cared with Bo and Hope Brady’s daughter, Ciara.
The Unreal McCoy
After General Hospital bumped off Duke Lavery, it tried in 1989 to replace Ian Buchanan with Greg Beecroft, a move that backfired so spectacularly that the storyline was yanked in only a matter of months. When the show finally brought back Buchanan in 2012, it demonstrated that it had learned, er, nothing by dispatching Duke yet again.
Make It Work… or Not
After the cancellation of As the World Turns, Young & Restless managed to snag Maura West to play Diane Jenkins in 2010… and wrote the character so atrociously that the powers that be, if not Nick Newman, kissed her goodbye a year later.
A Devil of a Bad Idea
The 1994 storyline in which Days of Our Lives heroine Marlena Evans was possessed by a demon has gone down in soap history as a classic. Not everyone liked it, but boy, do they remember it — and its epic climax. But instead of come up with an original idea, the show trotted out this same old one in 2021 but without the emotional stakes or sense that had made the first time around hella compelling.
‘I Think I Love… Ew!’
Bold & Beautiful viewers are used to its quasi-incestuous undertones. But even they couldn’t stomach the proposed 2012 pairing of Ridge and Bridget Forrester, who’d spent their entire lives believing that they were either father and daughter or siblings. (We don’t blame ’em for closing their eyes, either; we did that, too!)
The Kids Are All Right, But…
In 1985, Days of Our Lives shifted its focus from generational stories to youth-oriented plots, doing vet Jed Allan’s Don Craig the ultimate disservice in the process. His popular character was treated as such a nonentity, he was simply sent on a trip to the post office from which he never returned.
Nothing to See Here
When Steve Burton returned to General Hospital in 2017, the show basically said “pass” to the golden opportunity to play a love triangle between his real Jason Morgan, Billy Miller’s unreal Jason Morgan and “their” wife, Sam.
Th-Th-That’s All, Folks
Behind-the-scenes conflict with the powers that be led to Another World supercouple Steve Frame and Alice Matthews being broken up by the firing of their portrayers, George Reinholt and Jacqueline Courtney. But it was One Life to Live that had the last laugh, as it quickly snagged the fan favorites for new parts.
Not a Good Look, Folks
As ALS took its toll on Michael Zaslow in the late 1990s, Guiding Light recast one of its brightest stars as Roger Thorpe rather than acknowledge that he and only he should play the iconic villain.
Yeah, it would be hilarious, the idea of Young & Restless deconstructing its hot Summer/Kyle/Lola triangle long before its expiration date and backburnering (and ultimately losing) future movie star Sasha Calle… if that hadn’t been exactly what happened in 2021.
The Face Is Familiar, But…
In 1991, General Hospital granted Anthony Geary’s wish to play someone other than Luke Spencer. But the audience didn’t take to Luke’s cousin Bill Eckert nearly as much as Julia Barrett did, so the Emmy magnet ultimately had to get his hair re-permed and go back to his original role.
Murder Most Foul
Another World achieved its desired shock when it killed off beloved Frankie Frame in 1996. But the NBC soap was dealt a nasty surprise of its own by viewers, who ultimately responded by tuning out in protest.
‘Who’s Up for a Lil’ Knife-Throwing?’
Jacqueline MacInnes Wood gave her all to the Bold & Beautiful storyline that turned Steffy Forrester into a drug addict. But when all was said and done, the plot was wrapped up and the character, completely recovered in as little time as it just took you to read this caption. That’s not how drug addiction works!
A Diss Is Still a Diss
As the World Turns denied that it had put a kissing ban on its gay supercouple, Luke Snyder and Noah Mayer. But furious fans thought otherwise, especially when “Nuke” was the only twosome not to smooch on Valentine’s Day 2008! (If you’re gonna BS folks, at least don’t be obvious about it!)
We *Won’t* Drink to That
Days of Our Lives should have had on its hands another great love-to-hate vixen a la Sami Brady in Gwen Rizczcech. But every time we came close to feeling something more than ambivalence about talented Emily O’Brien’s character, the writing undermined her yet again.
‘A’ for Effort
Hoping to goose the ratings of brilliant but struggling Ryan’s Hope in 1984, ABC hired General Hospital MVP Robin Mattson to step in as Delia Coleridge. But the role was a poor fit, and OG Ilene Kristen was soon brought back to her infamous role.
From the time that Kim Zimmer returned to Guiding Light in 1995, Reva Shayne was given one silly story (she’s Amish!) after another (no, she’s a princess!) after another (time travel, anyone?) and another (“Let’s clone her!”). Pretty sure, had the show not ended, Reva would have been in outer space by now.
Next Time, Say It With Flowers
Instead of champagne and an anniversary party, General Hospital gave Stuart Damon a pink slip in 2007, the year that he should’ve been celebrating three decades as Alan Quartermaine. To add insult to injury, Monica’s better half wasn’t just written off, he was killed off, leaving Leslie Charleson fuming to Soap Opera Weekly about “the blatant disregard for the veterans.”
‘I Do’… Well, We Don’t
The 2012 marriage of Young & Restless’ Sharon Newman and father figure — not to mention frequent father-in-law — Victor turned the “ick” factor all the way up to 11.
Unable to spot any future use for a legacy character like Aly Forrester, Bold & Beautiful killed off Thorne and Darla’s unstable daughter in 2015 in a plot twist that had… Hey, whad’ya know? No long-term repercussions whatsoever.
Heaven Can Wait
One Life to Live fans were totally sold on Marcie Walsh’s romance with Al Holden — more so perhaps than the show realized. After killing him off, the powers that be were forced to rehire his portrayer and drop the character’s soul into a new (and very familiar-looking) body.
If It Ain’t Broke, Break It
Ryan’s Hope had a hit on its hands in 1981 with the love triangle that had formed between Michael Pavel, his boss and her daughter. So what did the show do? Kill off the cad and let the hot plot go corpse-cold.
Darius McCrary is a fine actor. But Young & Restless had to have been as high as a kite in 2009 to think that fans would accept him — or anyone, for that matter — as a recast for Shemar Moore as Neil Winters’ brother Malcolm. Ever since McCrary left Genoa City, it’s been Moore who has brought Malcolm home for visits.
It’s Always Halloween Somewhere
Young & Restless/Bold & Beautiful psycho Sheila Carter is hardly the only character to come back from the dead. But she is probably the one who has done so the most often. At this point, she’s been resurrected more often that Michael Myers and stretched credibility well past the breaking point.
Love’s Labors Lost
Days of Our Lives struck pay dirt with the pairing of Xander and Sarah but broke them up so quickly and often, we could almost forget that they were a couple, never mind a super- one.
Third Time’s the Charm?
General Hospital tried unmake the mistake of killing off Emily Quartermaine by reintroducing Natalia Livingston to the canvas as her character’s surprise twin. Surprise: It didn’t work.
Bold & Beautiful made even us queasy with the 2021 twist that found Zoe wrecking sis Paris’ date with Zende by ensuring that she would have… let’s say… digestive issues. “What are we,” we wanted to ask, “7-year-olds?”
‘Toto, I Don’t Think We’re in Santa Barbara Anymore’
Don’t feel bad, ma’am, we dozed off, too. NBC’s last-ditch attempt to save Santa Barbara — by installing Paul Rauch as EP and Pam Long as headwriter — actually doomed the once-brilliant soap, which on their watch ceased to resemble the show that we had known and loved.
Oh, for Peter’s Sake!
Though General Hospital viewers didn’t love to hate Peter August, they just plain hated the villain, the soap kept him going for so long, he might as well have been played by the Energizer Bunny.
The Mother of All Mistakes
In 2003, Young & Restless had the bright idea to make mortal enemies Katherine and Jill mother and daughter. Thankfully, fans said loudly and clearly enough that they wanted the adversaries at each other’s throats and not in one another’s arms that their history was soon re-rewritten.
Too Much of a Good Thing
When Another World hit No. 1 in the ratings in 1978, EP Paul Rauch had the bright idea to expand the show to 90 minutes. The trouble was, even then, who had an hour and a half to devote to their favorite show every day? So while the length of the program grew, the number of its viewers did not. In fact, ultimately, the number shrank in large part due to…
The Star Who Took the Audience With Her
NBC used the expanded Another World to set up Beverlee McKinsey for her own spinoff. But when the soap legend took megabitch Iris Cory to Texas in 1980, two million fans abandoned the mothership.
General Hospital is by and large a show that has some surplus cast to it. But in 2008, it loosed the Text-Message Killer on… altogether the wrong people! With the murders of Maxie Jones’ sister Georgie and the Quartermaines’ daughter Emily, we wound up with “two legacy characters killed off for no real reason,” tweeted Rory George, “both of whom had had popular pairings.”
Everywhere at Once
We understood why ABC would want to snap up Linda Dano after Another World was cancelled in 1999. But hiring Felicia Gallant’s portrayer to reprise the forgettable role she’d played on One Life to Live in the late ’70s — Gretel Rae Cummings — was a head-scratcher. Then crossing that character from One Life to Live to All My Children to General Hospital to Port Charles was just too much of what was already a questionable thing.
We’re gonna go ahead and let this photo from Days of Our Lives speak from itself. Though, if we were it, we’d exercise our right to remain silent.
We Felt His Pain
Why did Young & Restless bother casting a hottie like Rory Gibson as Noah Newman if only to saddle the character with endless amounts of man pain and a dead-end romance with Jack Abbott’s surprise granddaughter? The show could learn a lot from General Hospital and its slow burn — emphasis on the burn — with Evan Hofer’s Dex.
Change Is… Good?
With all the lawsuits and everything, we got why General Hospital had to have Roger Howarth stop playing One Life to Live fave Todd Manning. But we’ll never be able to wrap our brains around the fact that after he miraculously made Franco Baldwin a viable love interest for Elizabeth Webber, the powers that be killed him off just so that they could immediately bring him back as Austin Gatlin-Holt — a character we’d trade for Liz’s late hubby any day.
Die Another Day
Ever since Days of Our Lives’ headline-grabbing but ultimately pointless Melaswen story in 2004, the show has seemed to kill off and resurrect characters so frequently that, at this point, their loved ones barely break their stride to bother mourning.
Talk About Shooting Yourself in the Foot
After 15 years as headwriter of The Edge of Night, Henry Slesar had made the soap one of daytime’s smartest; its mysteries were worthy of Law & Order. Nevertheless, ABC fired him in 1983 and suffered the consequences: The show was dead and buried by the end of ’84.
A Grave Mistake
Even Young & Restless seemed to realize how dumb it was to kill off Jerry Douglas’ beloved John Abbott in 2006. Afterwards, the show brought him back as other characters, visions, ghosts — you name it.
General Hospital has historically shown no reluctance to recast Lucky Spencer. The show has replaced Jonathan Jackson twice, first with Jacob Young, then with Greg Vaughan (Eric, Days of Our Lives). So keeping Luke and Laura’s son away from Port Charles all these years — he last popped up in 2015 — just makes him look like a deadbeat dad. That can’t be the goal… right?
Maybe *Don’t* Think of Laura
Too soon! Too soon! General Hospital couldn’t wait to give Anthony Geary’s Luke Spencer a new love interest after Genie Francis left as bride Laura in the early ’80s. So Demi Moore was rushed in there as Jackie Templeton… and rushed into a different coupling almost as fast!
We’re down with the occasional mask that changes a character’s height and voice as well as their face. But at one point, Days of Our Lives was using the over-the-top gimmick so much that we could scarcely tell who was who. Worse, we didn’t care.
For a show about a fashion dynasty, Bold & Beautiful seems to have no problem whatsoever with leaving threads dangling. It ended the marriage of Rick and Maya Forrester without telling viewers why, then it went and did the same damn thing with Zende and Nicole Forrester. We want closure… now! Well, ideally long before now, but you know what we mean.
Upsetting Then, Upsetting Now
The Young and the Restless may have gotten the love triangle between Nick and Sharon Newman and “other woman” Phyllis Summers out of the death of the couple’s daughter Cassie in 2005, but was it really worth the heartache viewers suffered over the loss of Camryn Grimes’ original character? “I’m still not over it,” tweeted fan Mandie Cross. “This is why Mariah will always be a bittersweet character for me.”
Haute Couture… or Not
In the fall of 2022, Bold & Beautiful went all in on avant-garde fashions for its characters. As a result, viewers couldn’t tell whether they were watching the Forresters and Logans reporting for work or attending a costume party. (See more of the wild looks here.)