From long-lost twins to unexpected deaths and utterly bizarre romances, soap operas are well-known for crazy stories and outlandish plotlines that never fail to catch viewers off-guard. Even the greatest and most successful soaps have their fair share of wild and wacky moments.
In this guide, we’ll look at some of the wildest stories of them all! From devil possessions to a man who secretly cloned the love of his life, read on to find out all about the strange places that soap operas have dared to go.
It Was All Just a Dream
“Crossroads” was a British soap opera that originally began in 1964. The plot centered around a small hotel that was operated by a set of sisters who didn’t get along. The show got canceled in the 80s but came back in 2001 with a “sexy rebrand.”
Unfortunately, the rebrand didn’t work out and the show’s reboot got axed in 2003. It seems like the writers needed to create an ending in a hurry, so they revealed in the final episode that the whole show was nothing but the dream of a supermarket worker!
A Cold-Hearted Plan
In 1981, “General Hospital” saw one of its craziest villains: Mikkos Cassadine. Mikkos had an extraordinary plan to steal the world’s biggest uncut diamond, known as the Ice Princess, and use it to usher in a new ice age.
The first part of his plan was to unleash a terrible blizzard on Port Charles, leaving a bunch of the soap’s heroes, including Luke and Laura, to defeat him. They infiltrated his secret private-island lair and switched off his weather machine in a scene that felt more like a James Bond parody than a soap opera.
Possessed By the Devil
“Days of Our Lives” is one of the longest-running soap operas of all time, with more than 14,000 episodes. Some of those episodes were more or less normal, but others most certainly were not, with one mid-90s story taking fans on a truly wild ride.
In 1995, a supernatural storyline was introduced into the show, with the heroic Marlena, played by Deidre Hall, becoming possessed by the devil! She had green eyes, spoke in a spooky voice, levitated off the ground, and even transformed into a jaguar at one point.
More Marlena Madness
Let’s stick with “Days of Our Lives” for another utterly incredible soap opera moment, once again involving Dr. Marlena Evans. This particular story occurred in the early 2000s when a killer called the Salem Stalker was introduced to the show.
The Salem Stalker wiped out most of Salem’s most beloved characters, and it turned out to be none other than Marlena herself. She killed her victims in crazy ways, including making an old man choke on a donut, but in the end, it was revealed that all the victims were secretly still alive and the real “killer” was just trying to cause chaos.
A Very Unexpected Return
When it comes to soap operas, Australia is one of the best countries to turn to. Shows like “Neighbors” and “Home & Away” are beloved by generations of fans and gave us a whole host of crazy drama and unexpected encounters over the years. In particular, “Neighbors” has become well-known for its surprising scenes.
One of the show’s most popular characters was Harold Bishop, played by Ian Smith. Bishop was killed off in 1991 after falling from a cliff but astonishingly returned five years later, suffering from amnesia and using a new name: Ted.
The Cloned Lover
“Guiding Light” is another super-long-running show that has given us a whole host of amazing, unexpected, and unpredictable moments over the years. Arguably the show’s best-known wacky story came in 1998, with one of the main characters having a clone made of themselves.
After it was believed that the character of Reva had died, her husband, Josh, had her cloned and fell in love with the rapidly aging clone, later named Dolly. Reva eventually made her way back to Josh and confronted the clone, eventually forming a bond with her.
The Ultimate Air Disaster
Plane crashes are pretty common in soap operas. We often see individual characters perish in plane crashes or seem to die, only to recover and return years later. But UK soap opera “Emmerdale” completely changed the game in 1993 with one of the most dramatic plane-crash incidents ever.
Known as the Beckindale Air Disaster, the Emmerdale plane crash wiped out a lot of the cast members and transformed the show from a quiet country soap to a much more dramatic, full-scale soap opera to compete with other big British shows of the time.
The Death of Edie
“Desperate Housewives” gave soap opera fans a more modern take on the classic soap formula, but it was still filled with its share of drama, from hostage situations and ruthless con men to tornadoes sweeping down the street. And one of the show’s most divisive and dramatic moments occurred in its fifth season.
In one of the wildest death scenes ever, fans of the show bid farewell to the character of Edie. First, it seemed like she might get strangled by her husband, but she managed to escape. She was then in a car crash, but still survived, only to die moments later of an electric shock caused by a fallen power line.
Zombie Charity Standish
“Passions” didn’t last as long as many other soap operas, but it still ran for nine seasons and more than 2,000 episodes, giving fans a plethora of wild stories along the way. And, unlike other shows, “Passions” wasn’t afraid to delve into the supernatural.
Charity Standish and her cousin Kay were clear rivals on the show, battling for the love of a character called Miguel. Kay was ready to do anything to beat her cousin, even going as far as using a book of spells to replace Charity with a zombiefied version. Zombie Charity eventually tried to kill Miguel and had to be stopped, with the real Charity eventually returning.
The Abortion Reversal
Back in 1973, “All My Children” made headlines as the first major soap opera to include legal abortion as part of its storyline. The character of Erica, played by Susan Lucci, was the one to undergo the procedure. However, decades later, the show’s writers decided to flip the script!
In 2005, it was revealed that the aborted fetus from all those years ago had secretly been implanted into the doctor’s wife’s body, and she had subsequently given birth to it. The baby had grown up to become Josh Madden, who had spent a long time trying to steal his biological mother’s job.
The Buried Body
UK soap opera “Brookside” killed off one of its villainous characters, Trevor Jordache, back in 1993. Trevor seemed like a normal man to his workmates but was secretly abusing his wife, Mandy, and his teen daughter, Beth. Eventually, the mother and daughter hatched a plan to take revenge.
The pair started to poison Trevor over time, gradually making him ill. When he caught them in the act, he fought back until he was stabbed by Mandy. She and Beth then buried Trevor in their backyard. However, his body was discovered two years later in one of the show’s most shocking moments.
The Chipmunk Bank Robber
“The Young and the Restless” gave us a truly wild story back in the 2000s involving the character of Kevin Fisher. While trying to save someone else, Kevin was kidnapped by the villainous Clint, who tortured and traumatized Kevin extensively, even making him relive abuse that he’d suffered at the hands of his father.
Once Kevin’s mind was broken, Clint forced him into becoming his personal bank robber! He made Kevin were a chipmunk mascot head and break into banks to steal cash. Fortunately, the ordeal eventually ended with the death of Clint, and Kevin gradually managed to recover.
The Dream Season
We’ve already spoken about one show that used the classic “It was all just a dream!” ending, and another famous soap tried the very same trick! Back in 1985, “Dallas” fans watched and wept as the show killed off one of its most popular characters, Bobby Ewing.
It was one of the most dramatic moments in “Dallas’” history. However, all that drama was undone when it was later revealed that the death of Bobby—and all the other events of the seventh season—were nothing but a dream of Bobby’s ex-wife, Pam.
Who Shot J.R.?
Let’s stick with “Dallas” for another crazy soap story that was far more successful than the “dream season.” The show’s “Who Shot J.R.?” storyline was one of the most exciting and engaging of all, with hundreds of millions of viewers wanting to know the answer.
Even people who had never really watched Dallas were drawn in by the idea, with “Who Shot J.R.?” appearing on T-shirts, mugs, and more across the U.S. and beyond. Pretty much everyone on the show was a suspect, and in the end, it was revealed that Kristin, J.R.’s sister-in-law and mistress, was the one who pulled the trigger.
A Visitor from Outer Space
“Hollyoaks” is a UK soap opera, set in a small village. It doesn’t have as many outlandish stories as the likes of “Days of Our Lives”, but it has had a few rather intriguing stories, like the time an alien turned up.
The character in question was named Kevin. He became friends with a local boy, called Elliot, who was obsessed with aliens and science fiction. Elliot couldn’t believe he’d met a genuine alien. Unfortunately, he later found out that Kevin was faking the whole thing, but Elliot got the last laugh, as he ended up being offered a job with NASA.
Amnesia in Australia
The soap opera “Neighbors” is one of Australia’s longest-running shows, and it has given fans all sorts of drama over the years. One of the show’s most popular elements is the long-running love story between the cute couple, Susan and Carl. However, their story took a dramatic turn in 2002.
One day, Susan slipped on some milk, woke up with amnesia, and thought she was back in the 70s! When she learned that she was stuck in a marriage that seemed boring, she quickly grew tired of Carl and tried to get away from him. Luckily, she gradually pieced her life back together and returned to Carl in the end.
Freezing to Death
If you think that wacky deaths only occur in American soap operas, you’re very wrong! British soaps have seen more than their fair share of outlandish and outrageous death scenes, too, including one very memorable fatality in the long-running show, “Coronation Street”.
The villainous character of Annie Malone was the one to suffer this terrible fate. Malone was introduced in 1995 and turned into one of the nastiest villains in the show’s history, even trying to frame someone by poisoning fish sticks! In this instance, she was accidentally locked in a deep freezer overnight, and her frozen body was found the next day.
The Dream of a Dog
Animals can be quite important characters on soap operas and sometimes become series regulars, appearing in hundreds of episodes and being involved in their own stories and plotlines along the way. One such example is Bouncer, a Labrador retriever featured on Aussie soap, “Neighbors”.
In one truly bizarre sequence in the show’s run, we saw the world from Bouncer’s point of view, with a whole dream sequence occurring in which Bouncer gets married to another dog on the show named Rose. The scene proved highly controversial, with several cast members saying they felt the scene damaged the show’s reputation.
The Princess and the Garden
Princess Greta von Amberg was quite an odd character to introduce into “Days of Our Lives” when she first appeared in 1998. She was a lookalike of Hope Williams Brady, played by the same actress but introduced as a very different character.
In one weird and wacky scene, we see the princess traveling through a magical garden, with evil versions of the show’s characters all around and even a cameo role for Satan himself. It’s super strange, and things get even weirder when we later discover that Hope Brady has been kidnapped and implanted with a microchip to give her Gina’s memories.
The Case of the Stolen Embryos
“Passions” was a soap opera that often covered quite mature content, with several storylines involving rape or sexual abuse. In one of the more shocking episodes, a character called Theresa was so desperate to be with a guy named Ethan that she pretended to be his wife, drugged him, and raped him. But she didn’t stop there.
Theresa was so determined to have Ethan’s babies that she then drugged the woman who was going to be the surrogate for Ethan and his wife, stealing their fertilized embryos and inserting them into her own body! She ended up losing the baby but had a child with Ethan later on anyway. What a story!
Killed and Killed Again
“EastEnders” is a hugely popular and successful UK soap opera, set in the East End of London. It has featured a whole host of classic characters, with “Dirty Den,” played by Leslie Grantham, being one of its best-known villains.
Den was killed off in the late 80s after he got involved with a criminal group called “The Firm,” but he was eventually brought back to the show, 14 years later! However, his return didn’t last too long, and he was killed off all over again in 2005, beaten to death by his second wife, Chrissie.
The Controversial Snow Globe
We’ve seen a few “it was all a dream” stories mentioned throughout this list, but how about “it was all in the imagination of a boy with autism”? Well, that’s exactly what happened in the final episode of the famed NBC soap opera “St. Elsewhere”.
“St. Elsewhere” came to a close in 1988 after 137 episodes, and it went out with a bang. The final scene of the show revealed that the whole story had occurred in the mind of an autistic boy named Tommy, with one of the last images showing the St. Eligius hospital as a model inside a snow globe in Tommy’s hand.
An Intergalactic Traveler
Earlier on, we mentioned how a UK soap opera included a character who claimed to be an alien. Well, the U.S. decided to up the ante, with American soap “General Hospital” featuring a genuine alien named Casey from a planet called Lumina.
In what turned out to be one of the show’s most divisive storylines ever, Casey arrived in Port Charles and became friends with Robin while searching for a magical crystal that can send him back home. Together, they tracked it down and Casey was finally able to find his way home.
The Gemini Twins
“General Hospital” isn’t the only big U.S. soap opera to have a story involving aliens. On “Days of Our Lives”, too, we see a couple of extra-terrestrials arrive in the form of the “Gemini Twins”, otherwise known as Cassie and Rex.
Cassie and Rex arrived in Salem after a meteor shower. They were unable to speak at first but were taken in by Shawn and Belle Brady, who taught them to speak and raised them as their own. Later on, after some paternity tests and other inspections, it was discovered that the twins were, in fact, human, which just made everything even more confusing!
The Honey Trap
How can we possibly talk about the craziest soap storylines without mentioning the “bear incident” from “The Bold and the Beautiful”? If you’re unaware of this classic moment from soap opera history, strap yourself in, because things are about to get crazy.
There was an intense rivalry on the show between two characters, Pam and Donna. Eventually, it all reached a head when Pam tied Donna up in a remote cabin, covered her in honey, and waited for a grizzly bear to come in and eat her! Fortunately, Donna survived and was eventually rescued.
Time Travel Madness
Even storylines involving time travel aren’t off-limits for certain soap operas! In 2008, “One Life to Live” introduced an episode that saw two of its characters, Rex and Bo Buchanan, get struck by lightning and sent back in time to 1968.
The pair’s voyage through time caused all sorts of chaos and resulted in a really confusing moment on the show, with present-day cast members playing older characters from the past. The time-travel incident even changed one big plot point, as Rex slept with Bo’s mom and effectively became Bo’s father in the process.
Giving Birth to a Rival’s Baby
We’ve already seen that soap operas aren’t afraid to insert other people’s embryos into other characters, making people pregnant unexpectedly or allowing them to essentially “steal” babies. In 2007, “The Bold and the Beautiful” took this concept to a crazy new level.
At the time, a big plot point of the show involved the character of Ridge Forrester and his two love interests, Taylor Hayes and Brooke Logan. The two women battled over Ridge for years, but Taylor eventually moved on. However, she ended up accidentally getting impregnated with an embryo that had been inseminated with Nick’s sperm, and gave birth to Nick and Brooke’s baby!
Driving Into a Canal
UK soap opera “Coronation Street” introduced one of its most iconic villains in 2001 in the form of Richard Hillman, played by Brian Capron. Hillman was the show’s primary villain for a couple of years, repeatedly demonstrating heartless acts and a lack of sympathy for people around him.
Hillman’s story reached a climactic end in 2003 when he confessed his crimes to his wife and then planned to kill her and her children, abducting the whole family and driving them into a canal. Fortunately, the good guys survive, and Hillman was the only person to die in the canal.
A One-Night Stand … Between Twins
For soap operas, it seems like no subject is too taboo. Even something as rarely talked about as incest has sometimes appeared in soap opera storylines all over the world, including on the popular British soap, “Hollyoaks”.
In one episode, two characters, Dodger and Sienna, have a one-night stand. Later, the pair discovers they are brother and sister! Even more shockingly, it later turns out that Sienna got pregnant that night and had a baby girl named Nico.
A Total Tone Change
“Dark Shadows” was one of the most intriguing soap operas in history. Launched in 1966, the show immediately stood out with its gothic style, but the ratings weren’t too successful. However, 10 months into its run, the show shocked everyone with a major tone change.
The show’s early plots were inspired by the likes of Jane Eyre, but after about 200 episodes, the writers decided to introduce an actual vampire in the form of Barnabas Collins, who went on to become a hugely popular character. Later, the show delved deeper into the spooky world, bringing in ghosts, zombies, and more.
Falling Into a Volcano
Sometimes, it seems like soap operas are constantly trying to outdo each other with more and more ridiculous scenes and unexpected events. And if there was a competition for craziest soap opera death, we think “The Young and the Restless” might just win it.
By 2010, the character of Skye Lockhart had already faked her death a couple of times but was about to truly meet her maker. She fled to Hawaii to start a new life but was tracked down by another character, Sharon, who confronted Skye at the top of a volcano. The pair argued, and Skye fell into the volcano, and Sharon was later accused of murdering her.
Swapped at Birth
In 2009, “Days of Our Lives gave” fans a wild ride of a “swapped at birth” storyline. It started when two archrivals, Sami and Nicole, get pregnant by the same man: E.J. Nicole told E.J. what was going on, but Sami hid the fact that she was pregnant. Then, when Nicole had a miscarriage, she decided to steal Sami’s baby and pretend it was hers.
Nicole secretly swapped Sami’s baby with another one, raising Sami’s daughter as her own, calling her Sydney. Later on, Sami’s “daughter” died, and she found out the truth about Sydney. So did E.J., and he ended up faking the girl’s death to get Sami on his side.
The Sister Mother
British soap opera “EastEnders” had a surprise in store for fans in the early 2000s after introducing a new family of characters called the Slaters. One member of the Slater family, Kat, always seemed overly protective of one of her sisters, Zoe.
Kat’s overprotective nature frustrated Zoe, leading to a heated argument one night when Zoe said she planned to leave for Spain. She and Kat argued in the streets, with Zoe yelling, “You ain’t my mother!” and Kat suddenly responding, “Yes I am!” It turned out that Kat had been sexually abused by the family’s uncle and become pregnant, giving birth to Zoe, who was raised as her sister.
A Very Red Wedding
You thought “Game of Thrones” had the worst wedding in TV history? Well, long before the idea of that show even existed, the classic soap opera “Dynasty” pulled off something similar! It all happened in 1985, at the end of the show’s highest-rated season.
Alexis and Blake’s long-lost daughter, Amanda, was getting ready to walk down the aisle and marry the Moldavian Prince Michael. Sadly, before the ceremony came to an end, a bunch of terrorists arrived and shot up the church, leaving most of the family on the floor in a pool of blood.
Replaced By a Doppelganger
There are countless cases in soap opera history of random doppelgangers or secret identical twins suddenly appearing out of nowhere to cause chaos, and “The Young and the Restless” gave us a very memorable example of this with Katherine Chancellor, one of the matriarchs of the show, and her doppelganger, a waitress called Marge.
A criminal named Clint devised a plan to get rid of Katherine and replace her with Marge to live a life of luxury with Katherine’s cash. The plan was found out, and Marge came returned to the show 20 years later to ask Katherine for help with alcohol addiction in a surprise twist.
The King Kong Copy
The writers of the ABC soap opera “Ryan’s Hope” must have spent a lot of time watching “King Kong” while working on the show, as one sequence involved a gorilla called Prince Albert kidnapping the character of Delia Coleridge.
The sequence in question came out just four years after “King Kong” and was intended as a kind of homage to the movie, but fans were divided on whether it worked. Still, the show’s lead writer, Claire Labine, said she loved the story and would do it again.
The Devilish Twin
ABC soap “Loving” had an antagonistic character in Jonathan Matalaine. He was intended to be a terrible womanizer and villain but proved popular with the show’s fans thanks in part to actor John O’Hurley’s charisma and magnetism.
So, when the character was killed off, the writers listened to fan feedback and decided to keep O’Hurley on board. They reintroduced him as Jonathan’s twin, Keith Lane, who was a much kinder character. Then, to add another twist, they brought Jonathan back from the dead to torment and trick his twin over and again.
Back to the Future
“One Life to Live” was definitely not afraid of experimenting with time-travel stories. We’ve already spoken about one instance in the show’s past when two characters went 40 years back in the past, and there was another instance in which Clint Buchanan was thrown from his horse and went back a whole century!
In that episode, Clint woke up in an Old West environment, surrounded by old-timey versions of the cast, including his wife, Viki, who was named Ginny in this timeline. The real Viki later found a way to time travel too and headed back to 1888 to rescue Clint, catching him just about to say his wedding vows with Ginny!
A Horrible Way to Go
One of the most fun things about soap operas is seeing all the devious plans the villains can come up with. Sometimes, the evil characters on these shows feel like comic book bad guys, devising all sorts of strange schemes to hurt or even kill the people they don’t like.
In “Days of Our Lives”, for example, the villainous Vivian decides to bury the lovely Carly Manning alive, including placing a radio inside the coffin where Carly is buried so that Vivian can taunt her as Carly takes her final breaths. Talk about a horrible way to go! Luckily, Vivian’s nephew, Lawrence, found out about the plan and saved Carly in the nick of time.
A Secret Prince
Ready for another story of amnesia and alternate identities? Here we go. In “Guiding Light”, Reva suffered from post-partum depression after giving birth to a baby boy, Shayne. In a fit of stress, she drove her car off a bridge in Florida, later turning up randomly in an Amish community in Indiana, with amnesia and a whole new identity.
Reva was later found by Alan Spaulding and taken back home. However, she later remembered that before going to Indiana, she spent time in San Cristobal, lived under the name Catherine, married a local prince, and had a baby boy with him!
A Secret Underground City
“One Life to Live” has famously had some of the wildest soap storylines ever, and it blew viewers away with the surprise discovery of a secret underground city, hidden inside the Llantano Mountain. The people inside the secret city wore sci-fi-style jumpsuits and had all sorts of gossip to share.
It turned out that Roger Gordon used to live in the city, had broken out, met Viki, fallen in love with her, and had a daughter with her. And all that happened without Viki even knowing she had a daughter!
A Trip to Heaven
Soaps can sometimes be a little cautious about dealing with anything religious, as the creators worry about offending people with certain beliefs or being insensitive in their depictions of certain ideas. However, none of that stopped the writers of “One Life to Live” from creating a scene in which a character goes to heaven.
The incident occurred on a 1987 episode, in which Viki was having brain surgery. During the operation, she took a trip to heaven, met a guardian angel called Virgil, and also met up with plenty of characters from the past who had died, like her abusive father, Victor Lord, and her first boyfriend, Joe.
Dark Shadows Style
“Port Charles” was an ABC soap that ran from 1997-2003 as a spin-off of “General Hospital”. It was never hugely successful, but it did a few bold and unexpected things during its six-year run, including the introduction of vampires!
Following in the footsteps of “Dark Shadows”, the show shocked fans by revealing that the character of Father Michael Morley was a secret vampire named Caleb who was obsessed with Livvie since she looked exactly like his lost love.
A Lovelorn Orangutan
We’ve already discussed some of the famous animals featured in soap opera storylines, like the dog in “Neighbors” and the bear in “The Bold and the Beautiful”. Now, let’s move on to the orangutan who fell in love on “Passions”.
The orange ape, named Precious, fell in love with Luis, with all kinds of funny fantasy sequences appearing in which the pair were together. Sadly, Luis didn’t return Precious’ affections and the orangutan fled the town to start a new life, famously throwing a picture of Luis out of a train window as she left.
The Unreliable Mermaid
“Passions” had all sorts of weird stories and unpredictable characters during its run, including the witch Endora, who was always playing tricks and coming up with strange supernatural schemes, usually to try and keep Kay and Miguel away from one another.
In one episode, Endora conjured a mermaid out of nowhere. She planned to use the mermaid to distract Miguel and keep him away from Kay. Unfortunately, the plan backfired when the mermaid sleeps with the wrong guy. Enraged, Endora turns the mermaid into a doll and threw her into a fish tank.