One of the best things about a soap opera is that it can last for generations. It’s truly surprising that this happens, too, with so many storylines and characters making their way through the countless episodes that air each year. While some soap operas have met an early exit, there are some that have withstood the test of time and became television staples.
Of those soap operas that have held on the longest, which ones are the longest running in television history? Here’s a look at the five longest running soap operas across the world, all of which date back several decades and may never come to an end.
“Coronation Street” holds the Guinness World Record for the longest-running soap opera, first airing in December of 1960, and is still going strong today. This British soap opera, created by Tony Warren, takes place in the fictional city of Weatherfield, based on the real city of Salford just outside of Manchester.
More than 10,700 episodes of this long-running soap opera have been filmed and aired, with three new episodes coming out weekly. “Coronation Street” has become a staple in British homes and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.
Although this Australian soap opera is no longer releasing new episodes as of July 2022, “Neighbours” stands as the longest-running soap opera in Australian television history. It all began in March of 1985 when Australian television producer and screenwriter Reginald Watson created the “Neighbours” series following the end of his other successful drama series Sons and Daughters. “Neighbours” focuses on the dramatic lives of the residents of Ramsey St., set in the fictional town of Erinsborough, based on the area of Melbourne in Australia.
“General Hospital” holds the title of the longest running American soap opera in the Guinness Book of World Records, first airing in 1963 and continuing through the present day. The series presented its 15,000th episode in the Summer of 2022, also winning its 15th Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series that same year, making “General Hospital” the soap opera with more Daytime Emmy Award wins than any other. Fun fact, “General Hospital”, like many soap operas, helped launch the careers of lesser-known actors, such as John Stamos and Mark Hamill.
Days of Our Lives
Created by Ted and Betty Corday, “Days of Our Lives” debuted in 1965 and, as of now, has been renewed until September 2023. The iconic soap opera has aired more than 14,000 episodes over the years and is set in the fictional Illinois town of Salem. Some high-profile fans of the show include Julia Roberts, Thurgood Marshall, and Monica Lewinsky. Roberts and Marshall even made a guest appearance on the soap opera. The show has been nominated for multiple awards, winning four Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series.
The Young and Restless
Set in the fictional Genoa City in Wisconsin, “The Young and Restless” first aired in March of 1973 and still releases new episodes to this day. Over 12,500 episodes have aired since its debut. The show follows the fictional lives of the powerful and wealthy Newman and Abbott families. The series has earned 11 Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series over the years, with a total of 116 Daytime Emmys won in total, out of its 360 nominations.
The series has been surrounded by controversy in the past due to the show’s openness to touch on the taboo subject matter and the tendency to display heavy sexual content, one of the first soap operas to do so. Although it’s because of that, “The Young and Restless” remains one of the longest-running and most popular American soap operas of all time.