Toxic soap opera marriages
Credit: Howard Wise, Paul Skipper/JPI

‘Till death do us part has a whole other meaning on soaps.

Romance is one of the enduring draws to the world of soap operas. Some viewers may even fall for characters or couples longer than they do for people in real life and certainly for far longer than the characters often do for each other. As endearing as some couples may be, mutual love and admiration are not always why they head down the aisle or why they stay together. Marriages of convenience, blackmail, and revenge are almost as common to find on daytime as those based on love. And even the latter often stray pretty far from happy.

For some sad souls, the bonds of marriage can sometimes feel more like shackles. Some couples manage to luck out on love, but others get together in haste and hate. Recently, General Hospital’s Alexis Davis was comparing her longtime on-again/off-again lover, Julian Jerome, to a cancer only curable by drink. But even if their poisonous relationship was equal parts hot and harmful, the same can’t be said of other marriages that luckily didn’t last long. Who can forget the overflowing toxicity of Victor Kiriakis’ malicious marriage to erstwhile porn star Nicole Walker on Days of Our Lives, which was more torture than torrid? Or Adam Newman’s marriages to, well, anyone, which have been more exercises in gaslighting than mood lighting on The Young and the Restless.

Nicole Walker and Victor Kiriakis on Days of Our Lives

But toxic marriages have also been the hallmark of many of the most popular couples to have populated their fictional cities over the past several decades, from Genoa City’s Nikki and Victor Newman to Port Charles’ Sonny and Carly Corinthos. Proving just how thin that notorious line between love and hate really is, more than a few pairs have gone from death threats to marriage vows. The marriage of Barbara to James Stenbeck on As the World Turns was ironically so venomous it was almost impossible to kill. Despite divorces and deaths, marrying him managed to transform her into one of the show’s greatest villainesses for years.

Before hitting the comments to share your favorite memories of these intoxicatingly dysfunctional unions, visit our gallery of ten of the most malevolent marriages. Get your free daily soap-opera fix delivered straight to your email inbox by signing up for’s newsletter.