If you just read the descriptions below and all the incredible things that happened on each series, you might think you're looking at a list of daytime soaps.
But, nope, you're checking out the very best in primetime sudsers.
Maybe they missed their calling and should have been daytime soaps, after all.
The very first primetime soap came pretty darn close.
Would you watch any of these shows if they ran in the daytime, or perhaps early evening, more than once a week?
Let us know what about your favorite, why and whether you'd like to pay it another visit.
Running from 1978-1991, Dallas followed the saga of the Ewing family. Patriarch Jock struck it rich in oil, and with his three sons, JR, Bobby and Gary, he runs a massive oil empire. Their home base is South Fork and that's where all the shenanigans take place with their large, extended family, their business associates and friends. Gary Ewing got his own show and the series spawned 2.0, both of which will have their own slide. The biggest event for the series came when JR was shot on a cliffhanger, and viewers hung onto "Who Shot JR" as a mantra until it was settled.
For nine glorious seasons spanning almost every year of the 1980s, from 81-89, Dynasty follows the fabulously wealthy none-to-nice Carrington and Colby clans. Gold lame, shoulder pads, ridiculous hair and more politically incorrect mumbo jumbo than you can shake a stick at, you never want to turn it off. And cat fights? Wait till you see Alexis and Krystal throw down in a lilly pond. The best news? The entire series is available on Amazon Prime. More than once Carrington kids were replaced with new actors, too. If you ever wondered what HRG from Heroes looked like young and lithe? Well, the answer is HOT. He arrives in Season 3. You're welcome.
Gary Ewing moved to the suburbs, taking with him all the drama of his hometown of Dallas. Except this was even better, because it felt a little closer to our lives, as if we might be able to partake in these types of conniving adventures and torrid affairs. After all, we live in the 'burbs, too! For 14 seasons, this precursor to Desperate Housewives (it even had someone in common!) held us captive. By the time the series ended, it was more popular than Dallas and recieved more critical acclaim. It was always my personal favorite!!
Grey's is currently airing its 12th season, and it's still going strong. When it first came on TV in 2005, I guess we knew it was special, but perhaps not as special as this. It's always been more about the characters at the hospital than the patients within it and more about what the doctors can do than what they are doing. Meredith and Derek met and through them unfolded a tour de force love story that only recently came to and end. Beside them we've watch other relationships blossom, we've seen countless characters die and move on. But always it's back to the same building, the same surgery. Back for more of the doctors, nurses and residents that have become our family and friends. Yes, we could probably watch them more than once a week. But that we've been able to do it for 12 years is also a blessing!
Running for eight seasons from 2004-2012, Desperate Housewives had just about everything you want in a primetime soap. The gorgeous women and their equally hunky husbands, more secrets than a cul-de-sac can handle, housewives, murder and a bunch of misadventures as the women try to make it through what they think is their dull existence. It marks Nicollette Sheridan's second time on this list, and make the other ladies household names (if they weren't already). Anyone else really wish we'd have another trip down Wisteria Lane??
Beverly Hills, 90210
From 1990-2000 everyone was all about 90210. NO. Not that lame return show that doesn't even make this list. But the real thing, the generation defined. Kelly Taylor, Dylan Mckay, Brandon and Brenda Walsh. The Peach Pit. The boyfriend and girlfriend exchange, the longing gaze of Andrea Zuckerman as she adored what she couldn't have. Absentee parents, or those who just didn't give out nearly enough advice to keep their kids safe. This was must see TV!
Californiaaaaaaaa! The O.C. only ran from 2003-2007, but for a show that only had four seasons, it really made an impact. We'll never hear The OC, Summer, Seth, Marissa or Ryan in quite the same way again. It was one of the first teen soaps in a while to feature the adults (Sandy, Kirsten, and Julie Cooper anyone?) in story lines just as interesting and prominent as thost their kids were navigating.
Despite the fact this one ran from 1981-1990 for a full 9 seasons and I lived right through it, the only thing I recall from it is that Days of Our Lives vet Kristian Alfonso played a character named Pilar. Otherwise, here's a blurb from Google! "This sometimes sexy, often campy drama series is set in the fictional Tuscany Valley region of California's wine capital, Napa Valley. Aristocratic and ruthless Angela Channing runs Falcon Crest winery with an iron hand, and she is none too pleased when hardworking nephew Chance inherits 50 acres of prime vineyard from her late brother."
Melrose Place ran for seven seasons, from 1992 to 1999. It was a spinoff of Beverly Hills, 90210, but the two shows never really connected after the initial launch. Most of the action took place inside of a California apartment building with courtyard facing doors, bringing together all of the tenants in a very close way. Probably far closer than most would have liked! There were marriages and divorces and friends marrying exes and all the fun stuff you'd expect. Heather Locklear makes her second appearance in a soap on this list, playing bitchy Amanda Woodward, the girl everyone loved to hate.
Now in its second season, Empire is proof the soapiest of dramas aren't going anywhere. The biggest thing to hit television in ages when it came on the air in 2015, it follows one family's struggle to stay together and keep their music business on top so they are never as low as they were many years ago. They hate each other and they love each other, but when push comes to shove. if you're a Lyon, you're one for life. Even if you're playing with the wrong deck, help is on the way. Viewers want to be Cookie, smack Lucious, sing like Jamal and talk smack like Hakeem. What more could a show hope for?
Running from 1998-2003, it may have been Dawson's Creek, but six years and it wasn't his life we were really all that concerned about. While at one time we may have 'shipped Joey and Dawson, as bestie Pacey grew into a man, the old ship sailed and a new one was born. Soaps are all about love and loss, and that certainly became the theme here. Dawson lost his father, Pacey and Joey became a couple for the ages, and the group's BFF lost her fight with cancer before all was said and done. If only we'd had more time.
Does anything taste as sweet as revenge? Well, maybe. If you're this four-year drama that ran from 2011-2015 fashion tasted pretty darn sweet, as did murder and double crossing. The wicked fights between Victoria and Emily/Amanda were pretty tasty, as well. And oh the relationship drama! It was always as soapy as it could get.
Now in its fourth season, Nashville begain airing in 2012. There was a lot more emphasis on the music in the earlier seasons, including the fight between its two biggest stars, Rayna Jaymes and Juliet Barnes. That's given way to baby drama, murder, relationship woes and other whodunnits that overshadow the music business, but still need it to thrive. There is always someone new and upcoming ready to topple the reigning king or queen of country.
Considered the grandaddy of them all, Peyton Place hit the small screen in 1964, lasting five seasons until 1969. Can you imagine stars like Ryan O'Neal and Mia Farrow living in the small town whose quaint charm masks a complicated web of extramarital affairs, shady business deals, scandals, even murder? Oh yes you can. As a matter of fact, this one is about as close to you get to a real soap opera. Originally it aired two times a week, and when the success peaked, it was increased to three times a week in June 1965. Can you imagine??
Brothers & Sisters
Emily Van Camp makes her second appearance in this five-year family drama that ran from 2006-2011. After her husband dies, Nora is the glue that holds the Walker clan together through personal scandals (including the discovery of her husband's mistress) and professional loss. There's illness, a political campaign, an impending marriage and the obligatory backyard dinner strung with lights. Brothers & Sisters had it all.
One of the taglines for this six-year series running from 2007-2012 was "every parents nightmare." Who doesn't want to watch a show suggesting Serena van der Woodsen to be that? Much like A on Pretty Little Liars, the privileged teens on the Upper East Side of New York City are always under the watchful eye of a ruthless blogger, Gossip Girl. If you think A was frightening, see how GG managed to stir up crazy trouble for this tight-knit band of wealthy teens.
Currently in its 5th season, Scandal came on the air in 2012 as somewhat of a procedural. Olivia Pope focused on her skills as a fixer and her team worked with her to get things done. Somewhere along the way, both her personal dalliances and those of her team became much more interesting. Heck, when you're having an affair with the president that's likely to happen. Even Huck, who leans toward the more violent side of a relationship, couldn't get away from sharing with the group. Since then it's been more, more, more!
One Tree Hill
One Tree Hill is a long-running soap that started airing in 2003 and signed off in 2012. There are still Twitter fan accounts dedicated to this nine-season drama that followed the main characters through four years of high school, and in its fifth season, successfully fime jumped through four years to pick up after college, at which time friends find more questions than answers as they try to keep their dreams and friendships alive in their adult lives.
Only running three seasons fromo 2012-2014, Dallas returned to continue what was started in 1978. It was a valiant effort, too. The next generation of the Ewing family – cousins John Ross Ewing and Christopher Ewing – clashing over the family's oil business and vast fortune. Bobby and JR were even there, right up to Larry Hagman's death. Perhaps TNT wasn't the best place for the sudser, but if you knew it was on, you watched. It was like comfort food, having the next generation of Ewings back on TV and visiting with those we already knew. It worked.