Should Soaps Retire Characters Returning From The Dead?

The return from the dead is as synonymous with the soap opera genre, as repping one's hood is to hip-hop, but is it time for the tried and true plot device to be buried alive? Crystal Chappell (Venice, The Bold and the Beautiful), Galen Gering (Days of Our Lives, Venice) and Ignacio Serricchio (The Young and the Restless, The Bay) tackled the topic in the latest episode of Hallmark Channel's Planet 360. Watch the installment below, then vote in our poll!


Is it time for soaps to stop bringing characters back from the dead?

Should Soaps Retire Characters Returning From The Dead?

  • No! I love it when my fave characters pull a Lazarus! (63%, 338 Votes)
  • Yes! It's one of the reasons people make fun of soaps! (37%, 202 Votes)

Total Voters: 540


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22 Responses

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

    Yes they should retire this for several reasons:

    1. They are abused by writers to bring back a character they want to explore more or think they can revive the magic.

    2. 90% of the time they come up with convoluted stories that in a genre where you have to suspend belief is not believable. Like Phillp’s return from the dead as he faked death over his sexuality. That was just plan awful.

    3. Often times it is to bring a villain from the past to stir up more mess and ends up not working out to well. How many times has Tony been Andre on Days?

    But I will say you could make an exception for a character/actor that would have a major impact on the ratings. In that case do it!

    Grant Alexander did that for GL though it was too late by the time he returned and Victoria Rowell could have that impact on Y&R.

    That’s my take.

  2. Profile photo of soapjunkie88

    It’s not a Yes or No question to be honest. It really depends on the storyline and the character.

    If a regime decides to kill off a legacy character and maybe a later one tries to bring that character back, I’m most likely all for it. We saw this last year on GH where I was happy to see Duke and A.J. again. It were great storylines.

    But it also can be very insane where it feels that the story about the return doesn’t work or you end up asking why this character was brought back in the 1st place. Still don’t know why Y&R had to bring Philip Chancellor back, only to then let him disappear to Australia. He didn’t form a special relationship with his son, nor do I have the feelings that the scenes with Jill, Katherine and Nina made all that much sense.

    It’s a question of how good a writing team is and if they and the actor involved can pull it off.

  3. Profile photo of alstonboy4315

    Well-written ‘back from the dead’ stories that feature fan-favorite characters that people actually WANT to see return from the dead will never go out of style, as far as I’m concerned. I still want to see my Drucilla Winters, Alan Quartermaine and John Abbott return from the dead PERMANENTLY……..but only if Victoria Rowell, Stuart Damon and Jerry Douglas will accompany them.

    Bringing back characters who people love with substandard recasts will never again be acceptable.

    Bringing back idiotic characters like Y&R’s Daisy that should have stayed dead will also never again be acceptable in today’s current soap climate, and as far as I’m concerned, they never were acceptable in the first place.

    But then again, I have never been a fan of killing off characters willy-nilly. I find that, for the most part, it’s just easier and less messy to ship them outta town. Only in RARE circumstances do I condone the killing off of characters. Somewhere along the line, soap producers and writers simply got lazy and started overdoing this plot device in a sad attempt to boost sagging ratings. But Douglas Marland and Bill Bell Sr. only did this sparingly….because they understood that writers need to make clear and concise decisions and not backpedal.

  4. Profile photo of nysam

    Si! Oui! Yes! It is a device so played out that when a beloved character “dies” you can’t really get worked up knowing they will be back in a year or two. It is an easy plot device and often sloppy writing. Instead of “killing” characters off send them to jail, get divorced, move out of town. There are plenty of ways to have an exit. I think there are more citizens of Port Charles that have come back from the dead than in a TWILIGHT movie….Carly, Luke, Robert, Anna, AJ, Laura, Faison, Jerry, Robin, Todd.

  5. Profile photo of SoapArmageddon

    The problem, as I see it, is that there is absolutely no payoff now in bringing back characters from the dead. They might bump up the ratings for a short time but that usually subsides sooner or later.

    There’s not even the element of surprise with these returns because:
    1. We live in the Internet age when nothing can be kept secret.
    2. The shows suddenly start talking about characters that they haven’t mentioned for ages, tipping us off to their return.

    The truth is if soaps were completely realistic, they probably would not have an audience; but that doesn’t mean that they have to descend into the ridiculous. I also think that bringing back dead characters is an admission of creative failure on the part of a writing regime. You can’t come up with anything new or interesting, so you go back to what worked years ago.

    (And YES! I want Drusilla back on Y&R, but unless there were at least five thousand mattresses to cushion her fall off that cliff, her survival would make not one bit of sense.)

  6. Profile photo of stoney07

    I think it should be restrained. Not completely done away with. But the whole “back from the dead” schtick has been done to death, all pun intended.

    At this point, the only returns from the dead should be for fan favorites that are pretty much a GUARANTEED boost for the ratings. For example, with MAB, how many times did Skye return from the dead in a span of like 2 years? She wasn’t an important character (tho I DID like her)…she really was only tied to Adam, and it was all pretty pointless. Phillip Chancellor returned from the dead, and then was shipped off to another continent. Daisy returned from the dead, and now she’s out roaming the streets with an unresolved story (no I’m not complaining…I’m glad the new powers that be dropped that story completely).

    I just think if you are going to do it, make it WORTH have. It should have some kind of effects on the entire canvas. Drucilla being alive on Y&R would affect just about EVERYONE! Neil would be affected by his wife not being dead. Leslie, in turn would be affected…Lily, Cane, Sharon would have her best friend back, Devon, Phyllis :D, even Nikki, Victor, and Jack had their dealings with Dru. THAT’S a back from the dead character that needs to be done.

    But then, take a character like Chelsea, who is pretty popular. But does she warrant the same kind of effort? Not really…not to me. I like the character (For the most part), but if she were to be killed off, Chelsea should just stay dead. Skye should stay dead. As much as I loved Diane Jenkins (b4 MAB massacred her), she needs to stay dead at this point. Unless its Drucilla, or JOhn ABbott…the character should stay dead. I could see a Cassie back from the dead story because that would have a lasting effect on the canvas as well.

    But no random character should come back from the dead just for one stupid storyline, or for shock value…and that’s where the current writers on soaps are missing the mark. If you are going to bring that character back, you have to consider that you will have to integrate them BACK into the show…and if they no longer have ties on the show, what’s the use in bringing them back? Consider what s/l potential they have outside of the initial “I’m back” story. THEN what???

  7. Profile photo of TV Gord
    TV Gord

    Who cares if people think soaps are ridiculous? They’re entertainment. The reason I watch soaps is the same reason I read comic books when I was younger. Both genres bring characters back from the dead all the time, and it’s fun! They ARE supposed to be fun, aren’t they? If real life could bring beloved people back from the dead, would we gripe?

  8. Profile photo of Yoryla

    Heck no!

    First of all, it belongs in soaps. Second of all, that is the only way to undo some of the hideous decisions to kill off characters. I am so glad GH has done and is still doing this damage reversing with characters like AJ, who never ever should have been killed off before their time in the first place.

    The more important question is, who they should kill off in the first place. THAT is what is most relevant to the storytelling. Central legacy character should never ever be killed off unless they absolutely need to/ have to.

  9. Profile photo of thecourt99

    I voted yes.

    Bringing back someone from the dead has become an overused plot point to the point that it is now meaningless.

    We are at the point where if someone dies, you almost expect them to come back.

    The emotional impact of a death is gone..and isn’t that what soaps are about, the emotional rides? The highs and the lows?

    Storylines become stinted. I think about the Patrick/Robin story on GH. They revealed that Robin was dead, and as a result, many people are just waiting for Patrick to fall for someone else just enough that it will be rocked when Robin returns. Others don’t think its even worth Patrick moving on because they know Robin is alive. The result…it’s hard to care about the story. When you don’t care, you don’t tune in.

    I believe that every soap tool is wonderful when used in moderation. But this tool hasn’t been used in moderation. Returning from the dead has become a way to undo previous writers stories, and fans want it just to get a favorite character on screen. It’s totally overused.

  10. Profile photo of pferrando

    What I hate are the multiple returns.

    On my soap Y and R, I still want a way to get both John and Dru back. Both could somehow.

    Others like Cassie, Colleen, and Brad, probably couldn’t be done because of how they died.

    Even though James Stenbeck, and Stefano are popular characters, it becomes ridiculous when they make yet ANOTHER return. After a while there is no payoff.

    Get rid of it period? NO!

  11. Profile photo of angrierblackerman


    Back from the dead can stay…CHEAP DEATHS are what need to be phased out. Don’t kill them off in the first place. I will even settle for a presumed death.

    A clever writer not only writes for when they are in the helm, but for after they have gone from a show.

  12. Profile photo of MsAgentProvocateur1

    Writers need to be VERY careful before they go killing off a character in the future. They need to ask themselves ‘Is this just for sweeps?’ ‘Can I get the same dramatic effect from another way besides killing off a character?’

    I think killing off characters during certain times (like sweeps) has had great dramatic effect on occasion but often it kills just as many future storylines (e.g. Colleen Carlton from Y&R. How many storylines might she be involved in now if she were still alive??).

    The killing off of characters and why needs to be re-examined even more than back from the dead storylines because they are interdependent. Sometimes I’d like to tell them, find another way to temporarily remove a character to dramatic effect. There is assisted living, convalescent homes, comas, etc.

    Writers need to come up with some different ways besides the killings as its become an old and tired way of sending a character off the canvas.

  13. Profile photo of liason4real

    Instead of killing off characters when an actor leaves the show, simply send them out of town. It is not necessary to kill off GH core or legacy family members like Alan, Emily, Georgie or Jake.

  14. Profile photo of noway

    No, but bringing someone back from the dead more than once is ridiculous.

    Quit watching Days when they brought Stefano back from the dead the second time.

    They should have left Taylor dead on B&B the second time. . Not only that they couldn’t think of an original story. The prince dude took her and brought her back to life and kept her. Ok really Brad is that the best you got?

  15. Profile photo of thecourt99

    [quote=noway]No, but bringing someone back from the dead more than once is ridiculous.

    Quit watching Days when they brought Stefano back from the dead the second time.

    They should have left Taylor dead on B&B the second time. . Not only that they couldn’t think of an original story. The prince dude took her and brought her back to life and kept her. Ok really Brad is that the best you got?[/quote]

    While there are many…this is one of the worst return from the dead stories. This chick was held by the same dude TWICE…and not only does the show NEVER refer to that, there are NO storylines related to it. Steffy whines about her father raising Hope, but never reflects on the years that she lost her mother. How is it that Taylor didn’t have any kids or anything while she was with the Prince? Yes..I am thinking of the Reva Shayne story on GL…at least they got something out of it.

  16. Profile photo of harlee490

    Yes! Yes! regardless I would like a couple of characters back but it’s tiresome, old and tired. Soaps went way to often to the well and wore it out! No thrill anymore, and is part of the problem, you have finger happy HWs & EPs that might not like the character or deem them useless in their eyes but not fans…so lets kill them off.

    Btw return from the dead & doppelgängers have gotten out of control the last 15 years for ALL soaps and it’s not entertaining now as maybe in the beginnning when it wasn’t always used as much aka…James Stenbeck back in ’86 “Hello Barbara” was great because it wasn’t expected…this is where spoilers & previews are not helping soaps, it needs to go back to the day, you’ll need to tune in the next day to see….. ;)

  17. Profile photo of pferrando

    LOVED…”Hello Barbara…”

    I think this was when Douglas was writing.

    He really made the show a force again under his pen. Loved the story with Kim and her stalker, and the intro of Holden. Brilliant.

  18. Profile photo of harlee490

    Yes it was Marland writing, had just came aboard a year or two before, and ATWT was cooking. All CBS soaps was cooking back in the mid eighties, you had Y&R, and Shawn buried Lauren alive, long before Days, ATWT, w\James and Douglas Cummings terrorizing Kim, GL was in Pam Long period with return of Beth, and Sonni\Sonita story just starting…OH forgot Capitol…just good times to watch CBS daytime. :love:

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