Truly Underwhelming Soap Opera Storylines

©Howard Wise/

Soap opera storylines are weaved tightly within the history of their respective daytime dramas. Characters return, romances are re-ignited, and rivals are often sparked due to events and occurrences from the past. However, there are instances where soap operas have slipped a notch or two in order to push a new or existing storyline forward. Below are truly underwhelming soap opera storylines.

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15. DOOL’s Salem Stalker

The Days of Our Lives (DOOL) Salem Stalker/Melaswen Island storyline of the early 2000s is infamous in soap opera history. The plot saw heroine Marlena Evans turn into a serial killer and essentially axed some longtime and much-loved Days characters. It has been reported in the past that fans were outraged when the show’s producers got rid of so many staple characters that writer James Reilly was asked to fix the situation and the Stalker storyline was transformed into Melaswen Island. It ended up that Evans did not ax her fellow Salemites, rather the evil Stefano DiMera was behind it all and all those who passed away were alive on an island.

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14. GH’s Stavros Cassadine And His Bottomless Pit

It’s certainly nothing new when a soap opera character comes back to life and General Hospital’s (GH) Cassadines are known to escape the afterlife now and again. However, Stavros Cassadine passed away in 2001 when Luke Spencer threw him into a bottomless pit and then returned in 2013. How did he climb out of that dark hole? This had some GH fans raising an eyebrow (or two).

13. Y&R’s Neil Winters Turned Bad

Young and the Restless’ (Y&R) Neil Winters is a strong man with great family values, and a wonderful work ethic. In 2015, he was placed in a storyline where he hid his son’s wife Hilary during her honeymoon and told no one where she was. Yes, Neil was bitter because she and Devon had an affair behind his back, but the entire plotline was way out of character for this man.

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12. DOOL’s Shawn And Belle Brady’s Timeline

Soap opera rapid-aging syndrome (SORAS) can speed things up for characters and help progress storylines within a soap opera. It can also have fans scratching their heads. Shawn-Douglas Brady and Belle Black have been a tremendous DOOL super couple over the years, where their romance went from high school sweethearts to bonafide coupledom. However, what some newer Days fans don’t realize is that the two had a significant age gap between them. After being SORASed, Shawn and Belle hung in the same high school social circle together and seemingly were in the same grade, despite being six years apart. Shawn was born in 1987 and Belle in 1993.

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11. GH’s Nikolas Dies Twice In One Year

In 2016, veteran GH actor Tyler Christopher was negotiating his contract with the show when his character Nikolas Cassadine passed away. The character staged his own demise and Nick Stable was temporarily recast in the role for some months, which made it seem like it was only a matter of time before Christopher would be back on the show. Sadly, Christopher decided to leave GH and a mere months later, Nikolas passed away (seemingly) for good this time.

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10. Y&R’s Ashley Believes She’s Expecting

In the summer of 2009, Ashley Abbott lost her baby thanks to some taunting from Adam Newman. Adam scrambled to cover this all up as he knew his dad Victor would be fuming if he found out what he was up to. Adam would work hard to have Ashley believe she was still expecting for months, and that she gave birth to a little baby girl. The storyline had many female fans who had been through the awful experience wondering how it was even possible that Adam was able to fool everyone, especially Ashley, for so long.

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9. DOOL’s DiMera Ghost

The late and great actor Joseph Mascolo left DOOL in late 2015 due to health issues and thus Stefano DiMera was shot in early 2016 by Hope Brady, marking the end of an era in Salem. DiMera would return in ghost form months later, to talk to Hope. When Mascolo passed away in 2016, the show had previously recorded footage of the actor that was aired in early 2017 as a way to honor Mascolo and the impact Stefano DiMera had in Salem. DiMera ended up being alive and once again slipped through the fingers of Salem’s finest. Still, one has to question… what was up with DiMera’s ‘ghost’ months earlier?

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8. GH’s Emily Says Goodbye

Emily Quartermaine was a very popular GH character, so when she was done away with in 2007 at the hands of the Text Message Killer, fans were stunned. Was it a mistake to get rid of such a staple character? Absolutely! The actress who played Emily, Rebecca Shaw, would return in 2009 to play Em’s evil (long-lost) twin sister, but left months later as she didn’t connect with GH viewers very well.

7. Y&R’s Cane Ashby

The Cane Ashby character was introduced to Y&R audiences originally as Jill’s long-lost son, Phillip Chancellor III. As time wore on, he and Lily Winters would embark on a beautiful romance, until Chloe Mitchell concocted a scheme where she announced that Cane was her baby’s father. Paternity tests revealed that this was, in fact, true and Ashby would leave Lily. It was later revealed that Cane’s brother Billy was Delia’s dad, which made sense as to why blood tests revealed Ashby as the dad; the two were half-brothers. That is, until years later it turned out that Cane was not Jill’s son after all. More than a few Y&R fans scratched their heads as to why Cane didn’t ostracize Chloe a little bit harder when it came to her shenanigans.

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6. DOOL Doesn’t Give Bo A Proper Goodbye

DOOL messed up a storyline bad when they simply wrote off the iconic Bo Brady in 2012 without sending him off with a proper goodbye. Peter Reckell, the actor who played Bo, left Days and instead of giving Brady a send-off as most characters get when they exit, he took a trip with Hope and Ciara and he simply never came back with them. The entire debacle left many long-time DOOL fans confused and upset.

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5. Y&R’s Phillip Is Not Gone

Fans were devastated in 1989 when a young Phillip Chancellor passed away, leaving a baby and wife behind. In fact, his ghost would return in the late 2000s during a séance with Katherine Chancellor, a scene that would launch an entirely new plot around the fact that Cane Ashby was really Jill Abbott’s son. Still, some years later after that Phillip would return to reveal he was alive and that he staged his demise. Wait… what? Whose spirit was that at the séance?

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4. GH’s Jason Morgan Debacle

The entire Jason and Drew storyline has been fantastic. It has suspense, intrigue, and has been an interesting watch since Steve Burton made his explosive return to GH late last year. But, was recasting the Jason Morgan character a mistake in the first place? Yes and no. While Billy Miller is an incredible soap talent, he has never been believable as Jason Morgan.

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3. DOOL’s Will Horton Passes Away

Speaking of grand comebacks, Will Horton’s return home to DOOL has been fantastic. Still, the story around him coming back from the afterlife was ridiculous, which prompts the entire idea that Days made a huge mess up when they axed Horton in 2015. It’s no secret, DOOL audiences were outraged when Will became the next victim of the Necktie Killer in 2015. This makes it no surprise Will Horton returned two years later.

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2. GH’s Robert Scorpio’s Ghost

Robert Scorpio and Anna Devane passed away tragically in 1992, leaving their daughter Robin an orphan. Years later, Robert would return as a ghost to help his little girl deal with the death of her boyfriend, Stone Cates. Fast forward about a decade later and it would turn out that both Robert and Anna were very much alive. So, who did Robin see back in 1995?

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1. Y&R’s Brad Passes Away

When a staple soap opera actor decides to leave a show, storylines tend to see their character either leave town or pass away in a way that opens a window for a return. This was not the case for Y&R’s Brad Carlton, who passed away in 2009. He drowned while saving Noah Newman’s life, and his frozen body was found underneath a lake. This makes bringing back Brad almost virtually impossible, and many Y&R fans were devastated by the storyline.

© John Paschal/JPI

Dorathy Gass

Dorathy Gass

Dorathy Gass is an avid fan of daytime drama and has been watching Days of Our Lives, General Hospital, and Young and the Restless for over two decades now. As a full-time freelance writer, she gets to combine her love of soap operas and writing through her Fame 10 articles. Also a mother of two busy girls and a mommy blogger, she's been published multiple times over in Huffington Post Parents and Scary Mommy.