15 Longest-Running American Daytime Soap Operas

arrow - left
arrow - right
Untitled design - 2019-10-14T173341.277
ABC/Craig Sjodin; Johnny Vy/CBS; NBC
The cast of 'Ryan's Hope' - Julia Campbell, Bernard Barrow, Geoff Pierson, Malcolm Groome, Marg Helgenberger, Jadrien Steele, Helen Gallagher, Nancy Addison, and Yasmine Bleeth
ABC via Getty Images

Ryan’s Hope (13 seasons, 1975–1989)

This ABC soap chronicled the ups and downs of a large Irish-American family in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood, and it happened to feature a pre-CSI Marg Helgenberger and a pre-Mr. Robot Christian Slater.

The Doctors
NBCU Photo Bank

The Doctors (19 seasons, 1963–1982)

This NBC soap — set in Hope Memorial Hospital in the fictional town of Madison — originally premiered as an anthology with new plots either every episode or every week, before going serial a year later. Its well-known alums include Alec Baldwin, Ted Danson, Kathy Bates, and Ian Ziering.

Joan Crawford Acting in Soap Opera
Bettmann/Getty Images

The Secret Storm (20 seasons, 1954–1974)

The life of the Ames family — widower Peter and his three daughters — provided the drama in this CBS soap. In 1968, Oscar-winning actress Joan Crawford reportedly filled in for ailing daughter Christina Crawford, even though Joan was in her 60s at the time and Christina’s character was in her 20s.

Love of Life
CBS via Getty Images

Love of Life (28 seasons, 1951–1980)

The Secret Storm creator Roy Winsor also created this CBS soap two and a half years prior. The current IMDb summary says the show focuses on two siblings: long-suffering Vanessa Dale “and her bitchy sister Meg.” (Ouch!) The series also featured a pre-Superman Christopher Reeve as Meg’s wayward son, Ben Harper.

Cast Photo For Wedding On 'Edge of Night'
ABC via Getty Images

The Edge of Night (28 seasons, 1956–1984)

This CBS-turned-ABC soap introduced crimefighter Mike Karr, developed as a daytime version of Perry Mason, and dwelled in the underbelly of the fictional Midwestern city of Monticello. Future celebrities Julianne Moore, John Travolta, Marcia Cross, and Lori Loughlin all appeared on the show.

Cliff Lipson/CBS

The Bold and the Beautiful (33 seasons so far, 1987–?)

Developed as a sister show to The Young and the Restless, this CBS soap tracks the Forrester family and their Los Angeles fashion house. It won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series three years in a row between 2009 and 2011.

Another World
NBC Universal, Inc.

Another World (35 seasons, 1964–1999)

Back when Vampire Diaries’ Paul Wesley was still Paul Wasilewski, he starred on this NBC soap opera, which was set in the fictional town of Bay City. The show also featured a pre-Grey’s Justin Chambers, a pre-Grey’s James Pickens Jr., and a pre-superstardom Brad Pitt.

Search for Tomorrow - Louan Gideon as Liza Walton Kaslo Sentell Kendall, Joe Lambie as Lloyd Kendall, Domini Blythe as Estelle Kendall, Jane Krakowski as Rebecca 'T.R.' Kendall
NBCU Photo Bank

Search for Tomorrow (35 seasons, 1951–1986)

30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Jane Krakowski was one of the longest-running cast members of this CBS-turned-NBC soap, and she later revealed on Watch What Happens Live that her character’s name, TR, was originally shorthand for The Runaway.

Rick Rowell/ABC via Getty Images

All My Children (41 seasons, 1970–2011)

“Daytime’s Leading Lady” Susan Lucci stayed with this Pennsylvania-set ABC soap for almost its entire run, racking up 18 Daytime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series until finally winning the award in 1999.

ABC/Jeff Neira

One Life to Live (45 seasons, 1968–2012)

This ABC daytime drama actually had two lives to live: After the show’s cancellation in 2011, production company Prospect Park revived both OLTL and All My Children for protracted seasons in 2013.

The Young and the Restless
Johnny Vy/CBS

The Young and the Restless (47 seasons so far, 1973–?)

Set in Genoa City, Wisconsin — but not the real Genoa City, Wisconsin, mind you — this CBS soap originally focused on the wealthy Brooks family and the working-class Foster family and introduced other clans as the drama progressed. In 2017, the show was renewed for three additional seasons.

As the World Turns Cast
Deborah Feingold/Corbis via Getty Images

As the World Turns (54 seasons, 1956–2010)

Believe it or not, this CBS soap was the first daytime TV drama to have a 30-minute runtime: Prior daytime dramas were just 15 minutes long! After the show’s cancellation and finale in 2010, The Talk took over its time slot.

Days of Our Lives - Season 2018
Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Days of Our Lives (55 seasons so far, 1965–?)

Julia Roberts once went on the record as a fan of this NBC daytime drama created by husband-and-wife team Betty and Ted Corday — though the Homecoming actress admitted in 2007 that the storylines had gotten “a little wacko.”

Adam Larkey/ABC via Getty Images

General Hospital (57 seasons so far, 1963–?)

Currently the longest-running soap in production, this ABC soap also holds the record for the most Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series, having won 13 of the trophies over the years. It also spun off daytime drama Port Charles and primetime drama General Hospital: Night Shift.

The Guiding Light
CBS via Getty Images

Guiding Light (57 seasons, 1952–2009)

Amid shrinking ratings in its final years, this CBS soap tried to capture the cinema verité feel with shaky camera work and real-world filming locations. It didn’t pay off, however, and the show ended in 2009.

1 of

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the soap operas on TV… but some daytime dramas have more staying power than others!

NBC’s Days of Our Lives is in the midst of its 55th season, for example. But that show still has a few years to go before it has a chance to become the longest-running American soap opera.

Click through the gallery above for the current standings, ranked in ascending order.