Longest Running Soap Operas

By: Kara Gilmour - Staff Writer
Published: Apr 5, 2021

Longest Running Soap Operas. The longest running television soap operas and how they rank today since the 1950s. These shows were first aired on radio before television was invented.

“Soaps” have been around since the 1930s when Proctor & Gamble produced 15-minute episodes of love and drama for radio. Allegedly, the term “soap opera” was coined because these shows were sponsored by a company that made cleansers. Isn’t that amazing?

By the early 1950s, soap operas had switched over to television, and daytime TV had no shortage of offerings. As you’ll see, captivating story lines and characters are the keys to longevity on daytime television. If you’re curious about the shortest-running soap, it was NBC’s These Are My Children, which lasted only 24 days in 1949.

Top 5 Of The Longest Running Daytime TV Shows:

1. Guiding Light - It is the longest running soap at more than 15,000 episodes since June 30, 1952.

2. As The World Turns - Set in Oakdale, a fictional Midwestern town, the television show has been immensely popular since it debuted on April 2, 1956.

3. General Hospital - It was named the “Greatest Soap Opera Of All Time” by TV Guide in 2003. General Hospital began its run on ABC on April 1, 1963.

4. Days of Our Lives - “Like sands through the hourglass … ” faithful viewers have been watching Days of Our Lives since it debuted on November 8, 1965.

5. One Life To Live - When One Life to Live originally aired on July 15, 1968, the wealthy Lord family was pitted against the middle-class Woleks and Rileys and the Siegels, the first Jewish family on a daytime drama.


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