An Awesome List of the Most Iconic Television Melodramas of All-Time

Do you like all-time lists? They are a lot of fun, especially when it is about something you are really passionate about. Some things are difficult to get passionate about. Getting angry about the best brand of pickles is a little over-the-top, but soap operas are an entirely different story. 

These shows have captivated audiences for nearly seven decades, and there are many who have based their lives around the airing of these shows. You can’t say that those people aren’t passionate and the following infographic provides some valuable information that shows how rabid fans have been for these types of programs.

That’s why this list of the most iconic television melodramas of all-time should be a winner with many. 

A Little Psychology First

You know, it’s funny. There was a recent article about how a like or a friend request you receive on your social media account can dramatically impact your brain. This perceived level of popularity helps to release all kinds of endorphins. It’s no wonder that so many have become addicted to these social media outlets.

What is interesting is that your brain can be affected in the same way by television programs. Why people become addicted to certain TV shows they watch is because they become connected to those shows. The directors and producers of soap operas have long understood that, and this is how they have developed such a rabid fan base. People live and die by how well their character is doing, and so adding some crazy storylines and tragic outcomes only draws their audience in closer.

This is an important factor to consider because it helps us to understand why these shows have become so popular.

General Hospital

While it may not have the most episodes aired of all-time, General Hospital has easily established itself as the best melodrama ever. There are a lot of reasons to love the show. It starts with the fact that it has run for 58 seasons, the longest-running soap opera ever, but also in the fact that it has one 285 daytime Emmy awards, the most all-time.

For soap opera fans, virtually all of them can tell you where they were when Laura and Luke finally got married. The episode was the most-watched soap opera episode of all-time, with 30 million viewers witnessing the event. Those kinds of numbers and the mark that the show has left on television audiences everywhere has made it the top dog.


Guiding Light

The Guiding Light holds the record for the most soap opera episodes aired ever, coming in at just under 16,000. The show ran for 57 years, the second-most of all-time. Oddly enough, this soap opera began as a radio program before moving to television. Between the two forms of media, this show ran from 1937 through 2009. You don’t have that type of longevity without creating some tragic and heartbreaking stories, and the Guiding Light was great at doing just that.



Who shot J.R.? That was a question that had television audiences glued to their television sets waiting to hear the answer. Dallas was the most popular running program on television for years and even made a brief come back on TNT about five years ago. That wasn’t nearly as popular, but Dallas was a true winner. Following the battles and intrigue surrounding the Ewing family made it one of the most popular melodramas of all-time.



Dynasty was not far behind Dallas in terms of ratings and popularity with television audiences. The show followed two feuding families, the Carringtons and the Colbys, and had two of the most recognizable women in television in Linda Evans and Joan Collins. It doesn’t hurt to have John Forsythe as a key cast member either. Many recognizable names on the show.


Days of Our Lives

Even people who aren’t soap opera fans know the tagline of this melodrama. “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives.” That is the kind of name recognition that will keep a show on the air for years, and Days of Our Lives has lasted 55. It is not only one of the most popular shows in the United States but is widely viewed across the world.


Melrose Place

Many will not see this as an all-time great, but the truth is that this show separated itself from virtually all of the other soap operas. Its focus was on young professionals and starred the beautiful Heather Locklear. Melrose Place joined Beverly Hills 90210 in featuring young adults and helped to revolutionize television. In fact, both of these shows could be included at this spot on the list.

So, there is your list. Time to start battling it out. Clearly you have your own ideas about which shows should be on this list, but it’s hard to argue with these six.

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