Is General Hospital The Best Soap of All Time?

Is the daytime drama that gave us Luke, Laura, Sonny and Brenda the best soap opera of all time? According to an ABC News and People online poll, General Hospital is the soap to beat!

All My Children, Days of Our Lives, The Young and the Restless and Dark Shadows rounded out the list of the five best soaps of all time. Do you agree with the list? Watch 20/20's Barbara Walters count them down at ABC News and then vote below!

Photo credit: ABC

Is General Hospital The Best Soap of All Time?

  • No. I don't agree with their choices AT ALL! (38%, 591 Votes)
  • Yes, General Hospital is the best soap of all time! (62%, 953 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,544


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52 Responses

  1. Profile photo of harlee490

    NO! I disagree and don’t trust the source…being done by ABC. Has GH possibly been the all time best for ABC network that could definitely be true…but AMC or OLTL fans would probably disagree. In my heart the best soap ever is and will always be Guiding Light. :love: :love:

  2. Profile photo of soapjunkie88

    I already see all the people – especially the OLTL and AMC fans – disagreeing about it and going crazy.

    However I as a soap fan can justify the list. GH brought in millions of people in the pictured Luke and Laura wedding. Something that no other soap has managed. The 80s of GH were one big adventure and great soap opera, followed by the 90s with a lot of social issues which made GH a complex drama. These two decades will never be forgotten and had impact not only in the soap opera world forever.

    And I think every other soap that’s one the list has it’s right of being there.

    Should soap operas like GL, ATWT or OLTL be on that list?
    To answer that with another question: Did these shows ever had the mainstream attention like any other soap from that list or is/was as popular as them?
    OLTL was always the ugly step-child while CBS always had Y&R front and center as their number one soap. On a Top 10 list, these shows would be on it along with AW.

    But this list … it’s fair.

  3. Profile photo of No Daisy
    No Daisy

    That is an impossible question for any long term soap fan. How many of us just watched one soap ever? I was invested at different times in many different soaps. GH for sure, but last yer it was OLTL. AMC during the CLiff and Nina years, Guiding Light for much of the 80’s and early 90’s, Edge of Night was an early fav.

    It’s like asking who your best friend is. Over the years the role changes to accomodate my own changing views and growing pains.

  4. Profile photo of cheesehead91182

    I think its hard to say one soap is the best of all time.
    You could say Guiding Light because it lasted 72 years, something no other should will probably ever do.
    You could also say As The Worlds Turns, because in 60s it was the highest rated show and I believe I read at one point they had over a 60% share of the viewing audience, which will never happen.
    You could also argue for The Young and The Restless because it has been the #1 soap for over 20 years.
    You could argue for The Bold and The Beautiful as well because it has quite the international appeal.

    Personally, my favorite is All My Children, to me they had the richest characters and very compelling stories, One Life to Live comes in at a close second.

  5. Profile photo of pumpkin

    No these polls are not scientific. Since the show was on ABC more publicity was done on that station. Also, just like anything they had a million voters. I just happened upon the show last night and watched a little of it. I didn’t agree with all of the other results also.

    It comes down to who votes. Just like political elections. There could be more Democrats but the Republicans are bigger voters. It is what it is.

    Election results always come down to who can get the voters out to cast ballots.

    General Hospital is not best soap of all time. I watched when Luke/Laura were on but I tend to think Guiding Light back in the day produced the best of the best. These questions are always subjective.

    There used to be a people’s choice show on primetime. Don’t know if it is still on. It might be. Anyway, every year Days of Our Lives would be nominated and would win. Every year. They figured out that people who were unfamiliar with soaps would nominate that show because it was the only name they could come up with. So that particular category was dropped and they stuck to primetime favs. In other words, the outcome was known before the question would be poised.

  6. Profile photo of Llanview76

    I really dislike it when people deem OLTL with the stigma as “ugly stepchild” or “red headed stepchild”. Why is that? Because once upon a time before the Buchanans took over the show dared to have a black family, dared to have a Jew married to a Catholic, had a bunch of working class people striving towards the American dream while the WASPy family WAS the “minority”? Look at Y&R, look at B&B, DAYS, whatever – it was, by today’s standards, a bunch of boring ass white people and their elitist problems. I feel OLTL’s initial message to break racial barriers, tensions, have though been it’s original concept been it’s albatross in a socially retarded world. But black, I mean back to the list, I agree with GH being on the list (soap about a bunch of horny medicos), DS (supernatural soap), and AMC (the literary soap), but after AMC – DAYS and Y&R are just homogonized forms of the genre, they just take place in a different part of the country.

  7. Profile photo of Jon

    I don’t necessarily think GH is the best but I can live with that list. I’m a fan of 4 of the top 5 (never watched AMC). I’m thrilled they chose Dark Shadows. I ADORED that show….it was my first soap!

  8. Profile photo of J Bernard Jones
    J Bernard Jones

    The short answer is: no.

    The slightly longer answer is: there is a massive difference between what is “a favorite” or “popular” program and its “creative”/”dramatic” quality.

    The just slightly longer-than-that answer is: in order to judge “the best of all time” includes (or should include) a laundry list of factors including but not limited to quality of writing, acting, production; awards; cultural impact; impact within the genre and industry at large; audience response; critical esteem; longevity & how well old shows hold up over time (can it be viewed freshly over time outside of a nostalgic lens); and clarity of the actual series in question themselves (can it be reviewed not simply in terms of its triumphs and accolades, but also its missteps and failures).

  9. Profile photo of CGat

    I kind of see where this list is coming from with popularity, money, etc. However,you really can’t rank shows that have the tenure that soaps do like this becasue each has it’s individual triumphs and specail things it brought to the table. I can’t see how at least ATWT doesn’t make the list, nor Guiding Light.

    ATWT and GL will forever be in my heart the best soaps on television. I miss Oakdale and Springfield so much. :(

  10. Profile photo of jthawk

    [quote=Llanview76]I really dislike it when people deem OLTL with the stigma as “ugly stepchild” or “red headed stepchild”. Why is that? Because once upon a time before the Buchanans took over the show dared to have a black family, dared to have a Jew married to a Catholic, had a bunch of working class people striving towards the American dream while the WASPy family WAS the “minority”? Look at Y&R, look at B&B, DAYS, whatever – it was, by today’s standards, a bunch of boring ass white people and their elitist problems. I feel OLTL’s initial message to break racial barriers, tensions, have though been it’s original concept been it’s albatross in a socially retarded world. But black, I mean back to the list, I agree with GH being on the list (soap about a bunch of horny medicos), DS (supernatural soap), and AMC (the literary soap), but after AMC – DAYS and Y&R are just homogonized forms of the genre, they just take place in a different part of the country.

    I don’t think that terms has ever meant any of those things. I think the “step-child” came because of ABC’s treatment of OLTL over the years.

  11. Profile photo of Restless Fan
    Restless Fan

    For me it’s Y&R, inspite of the last several years. But for over 30 years it was the most consistent in terms of storytelling and actors. Plus it’s unbeaten streak at number 1 makes it the undeniable best, IMO.

    General Hospital did a lot for soaps in the 80’s but as the clip suggests it’s still riding the Luke and Laura coat-tails. That’s all people seem to address whenever GH is mentioned. However, I would say it’s in the top 5 best. Here are my pics for top 5 shows.

    1) Y&R
    2) OLTL
    3) GH
    4) ATWT
    5) DAYS

  12. Profile photo of Katiebug9624

    Personally I don’t think so. For me the best dramatic moments are like when Bianca came out to Erica, or the Aids quilt during OLTL. But I will admit GH has had some wonderful moments Stone and Robin, BJ’s death were amazing.

  13. Profile photo of GHFan76

    I agree that this question is hard to answer if you’re looking for “best” as each soap has had highs and lows creatively. There are years I think it was by far the best. If I were asked which daytime soap has had the biggest influence on pop culture or which soap is the most popular of all time I’d think it would be General Hospital. There’s just always been something about GH that separated it from every other show for me. I’ve probably watched up to 10 others, but no other soap could ever reel me in and keep me consistently watching like GH. There’s no right answer. To each their own of course :)

  14. Profile photo of ANGELWENDY15

    GH may not be the best but it was those Luke and Laura days that really brought soaps all the attention. Glad to see Dark Shadows, I LOVED that show as a kid and because of that I started watching GH and OLTL with my Mom.

  15. Profile photo of ANGELWENDY15

    GH may not be the best but it was those Luke and Laura days that really brought soaps all the attention. Glad to see Dark Shadows, I LOVED that show as a kid and because of that I started watching GH and OLTL with my Mom.

  16. Profile photo of GHvetfan

    What is the criteria? GH has been must see for me at times. I loved Another World, Guiding Light, Days, The Doctors, and One life to live all at different times. GH was always my go to even when it was just down right stupid. I think they all have been the best and the worst at various times. It is true that GH has been the most prominant in pop culture but that never made it the best. If it did, the Kardashians would be the best of some list. I cannot think what list that would be but they certainly are well known. My answer is no.

  17. Profile photo of Camp is not a sustainable model
    Camp is not a sustainable model

    Short answer from me: no!
    Medium Answer: Hell no!
    In the top 5: Could be argued as a yes.
    In the top 10: Definitely.

    For me I would take in a combination of writing, acting, characterization, impact of stories and social influences.

    With that being said the list would go as follows:

    5. Days Of Our Lives
    4. General Hospital
    3. Guiding Light
    2. The Young and The Restless
    1. All My Children

    Agnes Nixon having had the greatest impact on daytime with her stories would be why AMC would be number one. From Erica’s Abortion, Jesse’s false rape charge, Jesse and Agnie (daytime’s first black supercouple), Bianca comes out, and Susan Lucci’s Erica Kane as the the most popular character in the history of daytime as just a few reasons why it would be number 1.

    For Bill Bell, he is the reason why Y&R would be number two. And you know his history as well. So it would work more like that for me.

  18. Profile photo of J Bernard Jones
    J Bernard Jones

    What is the criteria?

    Although the ABC headline says “best,” the story copy and voting says “favorite”…which has nothing to do with whether or not any of the soaps listed were/are “the best.”

  19. Profile photo of J Bernard Jones
    J Bernard Jones

    Llanview76 wrote:

    I really dislike it when people deem OLTL with the stigma as “ugly stepchild” or “red headed stepchild”. Why is that?

    I think you sort of misunderstand (?) why OLTL is regularly called those names. Fans of ABC soaps generally always held OLTL in high esteem, often as high (and at times higher) than AMC and GH.

    The actual reason is that after Capital Cities/ABC bought the rights to and ownership of AMC, OLTL and GH, the network originally budgeted, promoted and advertised all three shows with roughly the same level of attention (given that it had to make back its rather large investment). This was at a time when GH had ignited a ratings firestorm across the entire daytime soap genre and ABC was at the top of the heap.

    Sometime after Disney bought ABC from Cap Cities and ratings began to fluctuate, OLTL slid from ABC’s radar. It all became about GH (the once dominant ratings leader “marquee soap”, especially after Brian Frons was named head of ABC Daytime later on) and AMC (mainly off the strength of its high public profile/”Erica Kane”/Susan Lucci media fetish) had a long history of neglecting to promote and advertise OLTL, along with cutting its budget. The soap press mainly followed suit in terms of attention to OLTL during this period. Thus OLTL became known as the “ugly/redheaded stepchild” of the ABC lineup.

    As far as ABC is concerned, there is a quite a bit of history with this. After ABC acquired Proctor & Gamble’s “The Edge of Night” from CBS (around the time of its AMC/OLTL/GH acquisitions), “Edge” was always regarded as the “ugly/redheaded stepchild” of the ABC lineup in terms of network treatment and publicity (althugh ABC had no control over “Edge’s” budget). After EON’s cancellation and before OLTL became “the ugly stepchild,” “Loving” fell into that role. “The City” never really took off from the start and, to its credit, ABC did try to pump “Port Charles” (since it was the direct spinoff of GH) but to little effect in the end.

    Perhaps the last true push by ABC in terms of promoting OLTL was around the Billy Douglas coming out story, featuring a then very young Ryan Phillipe. After that OLTL seemed to fall largely out of favor by ABC and the bulk of its publicity efforts centered on promoting GH (and to a certain extent, AMC). Toward the latter part of its run when OLTL was at a creative and critical high (and then-down ratings showed signs of life), many in the soap press did go out of their way to try to get interviews and stories from OLTL, but ABC’s folks (including some staffers at OLTL) reportedly were almost apathetic to the very idea.

    OLTL remained “the ugly/redheaded” stepchild in terms of network treatment for a good portion of its run from 90’s until its cancellation.

  20. Profile photo of Katheryn71

    General Hospital, through Luke and Laura, would definitely qualify as the most well known soap, even by non-soap watchers, but I don’t think it’s the best. As other’s have pointed out, if you’ve watched more than one soap in your lifetime, each one probably had some stories that kept you glued to the set, so I guess you would have to decide which one had the most stories you loved.

    For me it would go something like this.

    1. As the World Turns
    2. General Hospital
    3. Guiding Light
    4. One Life to Live
    5. Ryan’s Hope/All My Children(I had to pull a Luke and have one tie.;))

  21. Profile photo of stoney07

    Is General Hospital the best soap???

    Answer: O_O Is this a joke??

    For ME, I have watched mostly all the soaps at some point in time….so here’s my list.

    5. One Life To Live

    4. The Bold and the Beautiful (debut-2005)

    3. Guiding Light

    2. Another World

    1. The Young and the Restless

    for ME, Y&R was the most consistent as far as storytelling up until recent years. It never resorted to outlandish plots, such as aliens, devils, witches and warlocks….Y&R has always been business and family-centered. Even TODAY, though I completely despise what MAB has done with the show, there’s still an element of business and family (mixed heavy handedly with crime/drama bs) But in my opinion, Y&R has been the smartest, classiest soap opera on the air. And next to the whole Luke/Laura phenomena, Y&R to me, has the most prestige for non-soap watchers. Y&R never really insulted your intelligence. And it didn’t look like the other soaps. The production on Y&R was far superior to any other soap on the air for most of its run (until Paul Rauch).

  22. Profile photo of blake3b

    For me it is:

    1) Guiding Light
    2) Another World
    3) One Life To Live
    4) Young and the Restless
    5) All My children
    6) Days of Our Lives
    7) As The world turns
    8 ) Bold and the beautiful
    9) General hospital

  23. Profile photo of pferrando

    If we are looking at the entire run of the shows, then no, GH is not the best soap of all time. It had a brief “golden period” in the late 70’s early 80’s, but that was pretty much it in my opinion.

    I think As The World Turns, would be my number two pic both due to its consistency and longevity.

    By far, (with the exception of a few years), I think the Young and the Restless is the best soap opera of all time.

    Also, I think the ratings do indicate the “general” consensus of where these should fall.

    Dark Shadows should not even be on the list, sorry. Another World, Search For Tomorrow, The Edge of Night and even Guiding Light would be ranked much higher. I do agree that Days should be on the list as well.

  24. Profile photo of TV Gord
    TV Gord

    This was an online poll conducted this summer by ABC News and People Magazine, and it relied on people volunteering to go to the website and vote. It’s hardly scientific.

    Anyway, there is no such thing as the best anything. It’s all down to personal preference. I voted in the poll this summer and my choice was OLTL, but only because none of my other choices were in the multiple choice list (no Santa Barbara, no Edge of Night).

    I think the results were summed up best by one of the commentators in last night’s special who said GH was chosen because Luke and Laura became such a sensation. Well, considering the entire history of GH, Luke and Laura are one of many snapshots. So, taking all of this into consideration, there are too many variables to consider this anything more than a snapshot of a small number of people’s tastes this summer.

  25. Profile photo of SoapArmageddon

    There’s only one correct answer:

    The Guiding Light.

    Every single show that came after it just copied the original. So, NO. GH is a far cry from being the best soap that ever was; and even now the only reason it can be considered a good soap is because the others are so bad.

  26. Profile photo of Orion10

    Every Soap has its moments. I think it should be based on Ratings, Soap Years, and Awards.

    1. The Young and the Restless
    2. As The World Turns
    3. General Hospital
    4. Guiding Light
    5. All My Children
    6. The Bold and the Beautiful- *worldwide ratings*
    7. Another World
    8. Edge of Night
    9. One Life to Live
    10. Search For Tomorrow

  27. Profile photo of robertscorpio

    I think Luke and Laura alone qualifies GH as the best soap. It created a couple which is arguably the definition of a supercouple. Even if you have never watched a soap opera before, you knew who Luke and Laura was. For a God sakes, a rapper even refers to them in one of thier lyrics. I think if you judge best by the impact it has had on pop culture, you would have to then go with GH as the best.

  28. Profile photo of bdog

    General Hospital is the best one on the air currently. But over the years, not so much. One life to live was awesome the last 5 years. Days of our lives was great at times over the years. Dark Shadows, which I still watch was my first soap. Another World had a great run. The Doctors, As the World Turns, Search for tommorow and Guiding Light were great at times. I enjoyed Port Charles and loved Passions(a very unpopular opinion), but Passions had great soapy moments. Never understood the popularity of Bold and the beautiful but people seem to like it. I’ve tried to get into Young and the restless but it overall bores me, but hey it’s been number one forever. So everyone has their opinion. For me it’s that tune into tommorow element that makes me love the soaps. Hey if this poll gets people to tune back into General Hospital or any/all of the soaps we all win.

  29. Profile photo of maxsmom

    I would have to vote All My Children because at it’s best, which for me was the 80s, it was GREAT.

    My soap life began at the end of the 70s with Ryan’s Hope, AMC, and One Life so those 3 would make up my top 3 and my list would end there. I wouldnt include GH, Y&R or GL because I feel like their lows were too low.

  30. Profile photo of pferrando

    I have always had a hard time with Luke and Laura because of the rape. And I don’t think one couple would qualify any soap as best in any event. GH is probably ABC’s best soap because it’s their only soap left, but what about Ryan’s Hope? Anyone?

    CBS by far has had the most memorable soap opera history and their lineup from the 50’s thru today really does outshine the other networks. Okay now let the hating begin.

  31. Profile photo of gato1

    My personal favorite of all time is Santa Barbara, it had everything a soap should have. I have also enjoyed periods of Days Of Our Lives, One Life To Live, and briefly Young & The Restless.

  32. Profile photo of RealityCheck 33
    RealityCheck 33

    Hilarious bullshit from ABC. They tried to bury General Hospital and now it’s the greatest soap of all time? How stupid do they think we are? Oh, don’t answer that! LOL.

    Unbelievable crap and hard to believe this site is promoting such non-sense. Someone running this web site must get kick backs from ABC’s marketing department.

  33. Profile photo of yrsoapboy85

    I like GH, but NO! Most popular soap to non-soap viewers, maybe(thanks to Luke and Laura). Best of All Time? Hell to the naw!!!

    I say Y&R. It has the strongest record overall. This was the best-written show, the classiest, the most diverse, complex characters, family centered, the most realistic (until MAB), the one you could see rivaling a primetime show and the strongest in the ratings. People like to say the ratings don’t matter, oh yes they do… and today they matter more. While all soaps are down, Y&R must be commended for staying on top for the last 23 years. It has been consistent year in and year out… again until MAB too over.

    My list:

    1. Y&R (See above)
    2. GH – Luke and Laura, realistic dialogue, not afraid to take risks, i.e. mob-focused
    3. AMC – Susan Lucci. Erica Kane. Nuff said.
    4. GL – Will likely remain the longest soap to have aired. 72 years. Family-centered decade after decade; Roger Thorpe, best villian
    5. DAYS – Soapy. Fantasy. Unafraid to take risks, i.e. devil possession

  34. Profile photo of 50sfan

    If it were the early to mid ’90s, I would agree with this list. That’s when I gave up on GH. I would move GH to number 5 now, and move the rest up. I still miss AMC terribly, but I’ve adopted Y&R and DOL as my new soaps. Still hoping that one of these retro channels (MeTV, RTV, AntennaTV) will pick up reruns of the cancelled soaps for their afternoon lineup. Especially those episodes from the ’60s and ’70s before there were VCRs and DVRs!

  35. Profile photo of marknsprmo

    For me the most consistantly good soap is Y&R. So I would give them the number one spot. It had way more on years than off. During Bill Bell’s tenure, he remade the show when the show got off track and made an even better show. The show has been number one for almost 25 years now. That has to say something.

    Second spot goes to Santa Barbara. They had a rough but promising start then about 7 years of some of the best soap on tv. then a really bad ending. But those years it was good, I taped every day incase I couldn’t watch it because of the hours I worked. I would tape it instead of whatever night time tv was on because it was better.

    Third I would take to ATWT. It was number one almost from its beginning and maintained its quality all those years it was on top. It more than any soap influenced what a soap was. Its structure was the most emulated. It’s characters where as if they were members of our own families.

    Days of our Lives has had a huge following for most of its time on tv. It has shifted focus many times and has modernized itself to keep up with the times. From the begining, it was to be a controversial version of ATWT. Bill Bell pushed the envelope on the stories polarizing and creating buzz throughout his tenure. Hell the show made the cover of Time Magazine before Luke and Laura were around. The Salem strangler story in the 80s pushed Days in a new direction of adventure and great love stories. The 90s saw a new Days with outrageous stories that made people sit up and watch. It for me is number 4.

    GH would be number 5 mearly for the Luke and Laura story and for being a strong influence on oher soaps to modernize their sets and scenes (although it did not really have that much influence on the flagship Y&E that maintained its great sets and slow pace the whole time and came out on top in the ratins). Yes GH had great ratings for a while. But not nearly the duration of Y&R or of ATWT.

    Honorable mentions to AW and Ryan’s Hope. AW nearly knocked ATWT off the number one position in its hey day. The show was so good that it was like watching theater on tv. The quality of acting has not been surpassed. RH was known for its realism and story telling. The Ryans were a real family with real problems set in a real local. Until the network tried to mess with it, RH was pumping out something special.

    I am not sure about this Dark Shadows thing. It was a clunkily presented badly acted uneven storytelling program. It just so happened to be startlingly different than any other soap because of its supernatural element. Although points must be given for the gothic elements and nonlinear stories. It also had a strong but not huge following. But I wouldn’t put it at number 4!

    Guiding Light had some great years especially in the 80s and early 90s but it gets alot of points also for being on our screen and really being the first (more or less) soap on radio and tv.

  36. Profile photo of ChrisGa

    At some point or another, I’ve probably watched every soap out there at least once. Still, my strongest ties are probably to Y&R–despite the last three or four years of uninspired, lazy and downright bad storytelling–because I’ve been with it on and off since 1980 when I was 8 years old (aka the first sign that my parents should’ve known I’d be gay). And everything since then I’ve loved at some point, though I’d say Santa Barbara, ATWT, GL and OLTL would probably round out my personal top 5 with honorable mention going to AW and AMC. As for GH, it’s one of the very few soaps that I’ve never been able to get into for whatever reason; it, Sunset Beach and Passions are prob the three shows I’ve never followed at all on a regular basis beyond tuning in once or twice a year when nothing else was on.

  37. Profile photo of rozzberry

    I strongly disagree! Guiding Light will always be head and shoulders above the rest in my book. Another World is the only other soap that even comes close. I still miss both terribly. That’s not to say I didn’t love AMC. I’d miss AMC alot more if it weren’t for SN rerunning eps from ’07.

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