News - Soap Buzz

57 August 31st, 2016 Top Ten Final Episodes Of Beloved Canceled Soap Operas! Which Do You Think Was Tops?

Courtesy/ABC

On Wednesday in her final EW.com community post on the soaps, contributing writer Alina Adams rated the top ten final episodes of canceled soap operas and offered up her opinion on the “the good and the bad” about each as well.

For longtime soap fans this is a must-read, plus it’s complete with the final episode clips of each soap in Adam’s top ten defunct soap finale countdown!

Included in the top ten are the finales of: All My Children, As the World Turns, Guiding Light, Capitol, One Life to Live, Texas, Ryan’s Hope, Another World, Santa Barbara and The Edge of Night.

Here are two samplings of Adams’ evaluations. For OLTL she related: The Good: “An inside Between Heaven and Hell joke for longtime viewers, a quick history recap voiceover, and Jessica’s paternity gets changed yet again … this time to someone who fans actually want.” The Bad:  “A great setup for the online reboot is derailed when some characters are moved to General Hospital … then written off there due to the Prospect Park/ABC lawsuit.”

For ATWT she wrote: The Good: “Kim and Bob with a globe (that suddenly showed up on his desk and started hogging closeups like it was an original cast member).” The Bad:  “Not all scenes shot for the finale made air … but they were available online!”

Watch the finael clip from Ryan’s Hope after the jump.  Then check out the list, and let us know which soap opera finale did you think was tops?  Which did not cut the muster? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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  1. Jimh(leave it to beaver) says:

    Another World-worse ending ever with that gorilla in love with Cass…Edge Of Night-the greatest mystery/crime series ever-had the best ending and ended with a cliffhanger when Officer Chris Egan entered Wonderland Lane and witnessed a murder in Mad Hatter Antiques then being chased by the killer’s thought dead thug she ran for help and returned with two police officers but now that whole street wasnt there and replaced with a brick wall-its as if that street and shop never existed but did it or didnt it?…OLTL-so good in its final months and ratings up-a soap that should still be on the air today!

    Reply

    Patricio replied

    Your response was left a few weeks ago but was perfect! What a memory!

    Reply

  2. James R. Poissant says:

    TEXAS was my favorite of the finales because it ended without a cliffhanger leaving us to wonder what happened. I also say that because the show was my absolute favorite when it was on. I never stopped missing that soap.

    Reply

  3. TearyTam says:

    Michael, I have a tie for my cancelled soaps; Guiding Light and One Live To Live.

    Reply

    vinee replied

    agree

    Reply

    Patricio replied

    I never thought Guiling Light’s beautiful ending could be a better conclusion to a soap but ABC dId it not only during the last two days but during the last few months of OLTL.

    The writing was a masterclass in ending this decades long story. New comers and people who had watched for decades as they grew up (moi) were satisfied. The speech that the great Erika Slezak delivers summed up who the soap viewers were, what we shared, and what we loved. It resonates so strongly in that sadly it also speaks to what will miss, so deeply.

    This unique art form of telling daily long-range stories is ending, reasons are for another post

    Reply

  4. Llanviewer717 says:

    My heart constantly aches for our beloved One Life to Live. Some many of the final TV episodes were absolutely outstanding. Viki’s monologue about the meaning of soap opera to the fans was so profoundly moving. I’m sure there wasn’t a dry eye anywhere. Mine certainly weren’t. I cried throughout the last episode and totally went to pieces when Matthew named the new baby Drew.

    As always, my hat is off to the genius of Agnes Nixon for having created the marvelous One Life to Live.

    Reply

    Patricio replied

    Just read your post. Thank you. My response above was so similar to your! Only us old-timers would remember Drew. It’s almost five years since ABC took our show off the air and I still miss it.

    The show which in NY aired at 2pm has yet to have a replacement that lasted. Last laugh!

    Reply

  5. Mary SF says:

    I’m was so moved by this– thank you Michael for posting this and for the link– so many great memories, so many hours of entertainment, so heartbreaking— each ending suited for the show that was cancelled. My favorite– Edge of Night– ending with a new murder mystery to be solved but never will be — close second Another World– at first I was happy my favorite character Jake McKinnon was moving over ATWT, but once there they quickly killed off Vicky and later the character Jake himself– so I prefer to remember those characters as they were on AW– married, expecting twins and very happy. But the really sad thing is when the last four soaps go off the air I don’t think the quality of writing will be there to give them the send off they truly deserve– and that is a real shame—again thanks for the memories—

    Reply

    Jimh(leave it to beaver) replied

    Edge had my favorite ending-was there or wasnt there really a Wonderland Lane…i believe Chris Egan was drugged at that diner before chasing after Alicia van Dine and hallucinated everything-Alicia being stabbed by her brother…the thought dead thug chasing Chris…that antique shop and entire street…all because of a drug but we will never know…hated AWs ending with that gorilla in love with Cass-that ruined it for me!!!

    Reply

    Mary SF replied

    Now I didn’t really mind the whole gorilla thing, it was just a tiny part of the show, and it was based in history, with the same gorilla having a thing for Cass in the past– the show did have humorous stories along as the serious one, and I thought the whole tone of the last show was nice, ending with a wedding all the well wishes, all the stories tidying up– I thought it was well done and every character had a happy ending of sorts, and the last scene with Rachel looking at the photographs, and the one of Mac with the raised wine glass– to me it was a decent goodbye– and I didn’t mind ATWT ending, but I had been watching that show only a couple of years so I wasn’t as attached. But I started soap watching with Edge of Night and Another World, so those two will always been my sentimental favorites

    Jimh(leave it to beaver) replied

    I did like several characters…Cass and one of the Nicoles actually resembled my late nephew and his first girlfriend,,…Cass, and Frankie were my favorite couple during those later years and i was one of many fans outraged by Frankie being killed off…Jake and the three Vicki’s i liked as well as Donna and Wallingford….missed the Mathews family and wished some were brought back for the final…Sam Groom ex Russ no2 was there but played the Reverend -still was nice to see him…i did like Rachel and the photo scene!

    Reply

    Mary Mitchell replied

    We will always love the characters. The up and down quality of the current writing not much. I love soaps families. The networks all spending so little money really makes it hard.

  6. Wendy says:

    Still think occasionally of the actors who were on Another World which was a popular daytime drama many years ago now. One, Anne Heche, did go on to a career including a movie with Harrison Ford, a TV series – Men in Trees, her own baby product line despite some adverse publicity when much younger. Now married with two growing boys, it’s great to have seen a career blossom because of her opportunity and experience on Another World. She played identical twins, for those who didn’t know the show. A challenge to create two very different characters and play scenes of both daily. There were many other actors who were favs. of mine too: Some have now sadly passed away like Douglass Watson (Mac Cory). Always loved his portrayal as ‘Rachael’s’ husband with the wonderful Victoria Wyndham’s acting. In the 1980′s, the introduction of so many wonderful characters associated with the Love family actors such as: Anna Stuart, Ellen Wheeler, John Considine and many others. Ellen Wheeler originally played the twins – Vicki and Marley. One extra fav. was Michael Hudson who played Kale Brown. A spectacular wedding on the show was the one with Tom Eplin and Ellen Wheeler – Marley and Jake. The well loved, Linda Dano took the role of Felecia Gallant during those years and remained for the duration of the show. There were so many other wonderful actors added to the show during the 1990′s, Paul Michael Valley, Mark Pinter, Jensen Buchanan, Carmen Duncan, Robert Kelker-Kelly, Sandra Ferguson, Mat Crane, John Aprea, Alicia Coppola, Mark Pinter and so many others. Interestingly, in 1995, the now infamous Jill F. Phelps became the executive producer and changed the format of the show, fired many of the fav. actors, eliminating their characters, fired older actors suddenly and even kill off a long time character, Donna Hudson. Due to massive fan objection the idea was not carried out, but some other characters were killed instead – Ryan and Vicky. By 1999, the show had lost so many fans in June of that year it was cancelled. I often have thought that if the executive producer had not been changed, the show would have continued with it’s successful ratings for many more years. Several TV stations stopped running the show due to lowered ratings and that was the proverbial nail in the coffin for this wonderful daytime drama. A chance to see a few of the actors in Oct. 2003 when a reunion was filmed as a special for SOAPnet. Some now very famous actors appeared on this show: Morgan Freeman, Kelsey Grammer, Joanna Going, Faith Ford, Jane Krakowski, Rue McClanahan, Brad Pitt, Eric Roberts, Kyra Sedgwick, Luke Perry. It was a daytime drama ruined by changes in production ideas in format. We can all simply appreciate these cancelled dramas for what they were in their successful years – a wonderful opportunity for the fans to appreciate great storytelling and incredible dedication by the actors to their characters.

    Reply

    k/kay replied

    Won’t ever be an actor /daytime of Douglass Watsons soul and heart and integrity ! Never he was a class act all the way the show suffered from his untimely death!

    Reply

    k/kay replied

    Victoria Wyndhams tribute to him at the day times Emmys was pure class!

    Mary SF replied

    And don’t forget that NBC might not have cancelled the show if they weren’t trying to hype Passions as the new young hip soap that everyone would watch instead of a legacy soap that was a proven product for 35 years— The creator of Passions was the same guy who wrote for Days more bizarre story lines that were successful so they thought giving him his own soap he would draw in younger viewers which NBC wanted more than those were standing by AW. So yeah Phelps might have started the down hill spiral, but NBC wanting to shove Passions down our throats to get the “new generation” is what really killed AW

    Reply

  7. dmr says:

    Oh wow, I remember Ryan’s Hope and watching it when I was little. I do not remember the last episode. The last episode of OLTL was awful, I thought-wasn’t a big focus on Matthew and Destiny, not all of the vets? I remember watching it and being so disappointed. I do not recall the last episode of AMC..

    Reply

  8. mfarris70 says:

    One Life to Live had an amazing batch of final episodes. Maeve Ryan singing ‘Danny Boy’ at the end of Ryan’s Hope would get teardrops from a stone.

    Reply

    Rebecca1 replied

    Teardrops from a stone…never heard that expression. Did you make it up? Great descriptive!

    Reply

    mfarris70 replied

    Maybe? My mind is all movie quotes and soap opera plots at this point. Thanks for the compliment!

    Dee replied

    Ryan’s Hope was my all-time favorite soap! Still tear up whenever I hear Maeve sing that song!

    Reply

    Rebecca1 replied

    mfarris70, LOL. You’re welcome!

    Reply

  9. Mo says:

    Santa Barbara! Another World!

    No, we don’t need a soap opera about D.C. We have real life.

    Reply

  10. Lew S. says:

    Damn, that’s when soaps were soaps! I miss all of the shows mentioned.

    Reply

  11. Bill says:

    Where’s “Dark Shadows” on the list? A very neat, if bizarre, tie-up in the final episode, with a fadeout on the portrait of Barnabas Collins!

    Reply

    su0000 replied

    Yes!! Dark Shadows!!
    I broke my leg was housebound for a while and my neighbor let me her Dark Shadows DVD set.. I could not stop watching!! I binged most of it, like 10 a day at first, then after whenever, and I finished the series in about 18 months or less..
    That was a GRRRRREAT SOAP!!!
    I give Dark Shadows 5 gold stars!!

    And yah.. I’d love to have an ending, it just left me hanging :(

    Reply

    Jimh(leave it to beaver) replied

    My favorite soap ever but i loved every soap i ever watched!!!

    Reply

  12. hayley cropper says:

    I remember 4 January 1974 on RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE Rita giving birth to a son. I adored RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE and would give any thing to see the entire series again!
    DARK SHADOWS, 2 April 1971, my cousin Debbie and I would ring each other up after the daily episodes to discuss what happened. On that day, we were both in tears. Debbie is gone now, but I remember that as if it were yesterday!
    PS>>>Some one, some where MUST have access to the RTPP episodes, and I, for one, would very much appreciate having them…even if only the audio! I know tapes were wiped back then so chances are minute, but I live in hope!

    Reply

    Jimh(leave it to beaver) replied

    Returns episodes no longer exists due to networks reusing tapes…only a few eps are out there but some university owns them-i watched that soap too…Alison was married to Benny Tate who was terminally ll but his no good twin Jason took his place and treated Alison badly…Dark Shadows was my favorite soap!!!

    Reply

    hayley cropper replied

    I do remember the Allison/Jason/Benny Tate saga so well! The scene where Allison closed her eyes and shot ‘Benny’ (actually his twin, Jason!) is emblazoned on my memory! I always loved Katherine Glass, the first Allison MacKenzie Tate, and I was IN LOVE with Ben Andrews who played Benny/Jason. So tragic that he died so very young!
    The late Julie Parrish was also amazing as Betty Anderson Harrington Cord Harrington with Joseph Gallison playing Steven Cord! She gave birth to HIS son, Peyton Harrington, and played him off as her husband, Rodney’s, son!

    Jimh(leave it to beaver) replied

    Katherine Glass was perfect-hated when she quit…loved Julie Parrish but did not care much when she was replaced by Lynn Loring as Betty…just wish the entire series had been saved…it could had been put on dvd and maybe packaged with the original series since it was a continuation and repeated in syndication with the original as well…

    Reply

  13. su0000 says:

    oh my gorsh!

    Those dresses,, those hair styles!!!
    ((I’d rather bite off my arm before going in public as that LOL.. too funny!
    wasn’t that something ..

    Anyways- goes to show how far back the soaps go! isn’t that something..

    Reply

    Jimh(leave it to beaver) replied

    su-decades from now someone will see pictures of how we all dress and hair styles we currently have and say the same thing…would like to see you dressed as a soap character from each decade the 50s to 90s!!!-that would be a hoot!!!

    Reply

    su0000 replied

    ahaaa! Jimh..
    that would be one for the decade!!
    just imaging it makes my skin itch LOL ..
    0ooh did you notice how huge the hair was lol wow huh..

    Jimh(leave it to beaver) replied

    None of the females in my family actually wore their hair that way but my late nephew did for a few years!!!

    Reply

  14. Rebecca1 says:

    Wow…what a nostalgic, historical piece of an almost bygone daytime genre. Poignant….

    Reply

  15. mark says:

    Another world was a great show but the ending was stupid. Guiding light was ok but it was a case of putting it out of its misery.

    Reply

  16. Shane says:

    I’d love to say “The Guiding Light” because it was my all time favorite soap…but…”The Guiding Light” was not “The Guiding Light” in it last year…certainly not it’s last few weeks. I think my favorite soap final weeks/finale was “Capital.” No knowing if Sloan was going to be assassinated was a great ending for the political soap. I remember my late Grandmother being mad at the ending but I thought it was perfect because of the political undertones of the soap.

    Reply

  17. Dara M says:

    Ryan’s Hope ending was pretty much perfection but OLTL will always be my sentimental favorite. It met its demise way before its time. The little kid in me will always have a soft spot for Dark Shadows. It was scary and mysterious and watching it felt a little dangerous.

    It’s heartbreaking to see the end of the genre.

    Reply

  18. Beth says:

    I’m going to vote for All My Children. In addition to Tad’s speech, I loved how all the couples ended up together (Tad and Dixie, Adam and Brooke, Jake and Amanda, Jesse and Angie, Natalia and Brot, Frankie and Randi, Zach and Kendall, Ryan and Greenlee), and Erica and Jack were probably going to find each other again, much like Rhett and Scarlett in GWTW. I particularly liked the beginning of the final episode, where we see all the babies born on the show and how they became Pine Valley adults. It showed history, family and progress. It’s the only ending to AMC I ever want to remember, and I can look past the last-second gunshot and assume that JR shot the gun into the wall or something harmless like that. When the episode was over, I was sad but satisfied at the same time, which is how I wanted my favorite soap to end.

    Reply

  19. Patty says:

    I so wish OLTL was not cancelled it was fantastic, but.I loved and v watch all soaps. I miss t hem all and they should come back.old and new. These talk shows are horrible and bring back daytime TV! !

    Reply

  20. Tivette says:

    All My Children is my all-time favorite with One Life to Live and Dark Shadows right after in that order. I did watch Ryan’s Hope for a short while, but AMC was my main program. Agree Tad’ s closing speech was phenomenal! I still have the last 3 weeks of AMC on my Tivo!

    Reply

  21. cmp says:

    I’m really surprised that no one brought up Search for Tomorrow’s final scene. I was not a viewer of the series, but I caught the final scene on YouTube and thought it was one of the best.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_l7kbLbFxMA

    Reply

  22. Michael Kulla says:

    Loved Edge of Night’s finale….new mysteries meant Monticello lived on, just not on our screens. How about Love of Life, with the director going around a shutting off the lights to the sets! So well done. And the last TWO WEEKS of One Life to Live encompassed everything we loved about it! Ryan’s Hope, Maeve & “Danny Boy” – amazing. On the other hand, “Another World” and “As The World Turns” went out with a whimper. John Dixon returning was great; Lisa left all alone seemed like a slight. Thanks foe this topic!

    Reply

  23. Geoffrey-Martin Cyr says:

    As much as I was a die-hard GL fan (for 32 yrs), I only looked-longingly from the sidelines (from 2004-09) as show-killer Ellen Wheeler slowly sucked the life out of the longest-running show in broadcast history. It’s ending (despite the nostalgic title card montage at the beginning) was self-serving and didn’t honor the rich 72-yr history (instead focusing all story on the never-ending saga of Josh/Reva!) Same could be said for ATWT and the role Chris Goutman played in that show’s demise: to have neglected Lisa Fulton and Martha Byrne in the finale, and used Liz Hubbard as merely a prop, was criminal. I liked the in-your-face ending of CAPITOL and felt SEARCH went-out with a sweet note (considering the short-shrift NBC gave them from 1982-86.) Sometimes, shows should end their runs on a high-note rather than limp along to the finish-line as shells of their former glory, led by incompetents that merely sully the legacy.

    Reply

  24. caroldee says:

    FOUR WORDS…. ONE LIFE TO LIVE>. .best ever.. really miss it.

    Reply

  25. GB says:

    i want to say SANTA BARBARA, because it was (and i suppose always will be) my all-time favourite soap, but i have to be honest and admit that the last year of SB was terrible and the final episode was no exception. That crushed cigar still makes me mad!

    Reply

  26. John Gordon says:

    I vote for a tie between ONE LIFE TO LIVE and
    All My Children – I really miss All My Children and was so sorry that it didn’t
    quite catch on as an On-line presentation (nor did OLTL) – I still hope that they can
    somehow combine the characters of Agnes Nixon into one show but as times moves on I realize that is an awfully dim possibility.
    Prospect Park and ABC-TV really screwed around with our shows, and we are the ones who lost.

    Reply

  27. RICKIE says:

    My favorite ending was “Another World,” only because I was glad to see the back off this show. The firing of Kale Browne, Anna Holbrook, and David Forsyth — three talented, credible and personable actors — was suicide. To be left with Victoria Wyndham (who somehow acquired broad, theatrical gestures and a lilting voice in later years) and Anna Stuart (who was sooooooo one-note during her entire run on this show) was proof the show staggered along too long. And like ATWT’s mysterious globe in Dr. Bob’s office in that show’s final scene, I don’t recall that Rachel had such a gallery of photos in her drawing room. And why did they make her a mother of twins THAT late in life? Surely, she was at least a decade past menopause when this happened. The show had been jerking around viewers for years — I’m glad the plug was finally pulled…

    Reply

  28. gc says:

    Search for Tomorrow did have one of the most touching and well done grand finales in the history of soap finales. In the show’s final minutes, the show’s matriarch, Joanne Tourneur and her dear friend, Stu are standing on the front porch of the McCleary’s stately Victorian home. The scene is a wintery, idyllic Christmas wonderland, with a stunning Christmas tree, star atop, in front of the McCleary home. All are gathered at the McCleary home to celebrate the wedding of Hogan McCleary to Joanne’s daughter. In those final minutes, both actors are clearly holding back the tears, when Stu asks Jo, “What are you searching for, Jo?” Jo replies, “I’m searching for tomorrow and I can’t wait…” Then the cast credits slowly roll set to the standard, “We’ll Be Together Again,” performed by Lou Rawls. Ms. Stuart who played Joanne Tourneur for 35 years tearfully thanks the audience for such wonderful years…. and then it was a wrap for Search for Tomorrow.

    Reply

    janet replied

    thanks for reminding me the end. That was a great show then Joanne went to Guiding light as meta.

    Reply

    gc replied

    You’re most welcome! The Search for Tomorrow finale was done with a great deal of class and respect. I didn’t watch the CBS (or ABC line-up) and so I missed Ms. Stuart’s turn as Meta on The Guiding Light. When I was a teenager, I’d race home from school to catch thr last 15 minutes of Another World; I was transfixed by the Marly-Vickie story and the stories surrounding Donna Hudson, Cecile, Jamie Frame, etc. Then, during the summer, I’d watch the entire NBC line-up which in NYC was Search for Tomorrow at 12:30; Days at 1:00 and AW at 2:00. I’ll have to catch Ms. Stuart as Meta on GL on YouTube. Similarly, the Search for Tomorrow finale can be found on multiple channels on Youtube. Nice meeting you, Janet!

  29. Donna M says:

    actualy like SB’s final ending because everyting was fairly tied up, happy endings for the faves. Beautiful scenary. Of course, some of it didn’t make that much sense to have things end so easily, but it was nice .
    I thought end of AMC was a little weird unless I missed something. wasn’t that the one where all the dead people came to be alive and hidden away somewhere. And wasnt Erica shot! Maybe I missed something but that is what I thought was the end.
    If GH were to end I wish it would be like Dallas and most of the recent stuff was one bad dream. I ‘d have Georgie still alive, F&F together , Mac with Jenny or someone from his past –give him his own son that he is always whining about.
    L&L could go there separte ways but be happy for each other and Maxie would not be so messed up. Sonny would be in jail—PC clean. Ana would be commish and the sexiest thing around having love interests with all kinds of “good men” . Robert and Holly together—well you get the drift. I know aint’ going heppen ever , any of it.

    Reply

  30. Brian says:

    My favorite finale was on Generations in 1991. Talk about a cliffhanger!! I thought the finales for AMC and OLTL were excellent, but can’t say the same for GL, ATWT and Loving, which was one of my favorite shows ever.

    Reply

  31. janet says:

    I remember Love is a many Splendored Thing. They tied it all up in neat bundles, left you with a smile and in a happy place. When I think of it, I smile. I liked the end of As The World Turns. Julianna returned as Frannie, Kim and Bob together, One thing really ticked me off. No Martha Byrne and Craig was NOT Craig I make it a point to never watch anything those IIC are part of. The PE refused to end it for the fans. see his name I turn the channel. The actress plaing Lili offered to step down so the original would be with her family in the end and he refused the same way he wouldn’t bring back the original Craig. I think the PEs name was CaMeron ?Guiding Light also tied it up in a bow.
    The ending are for the fans ,and if they want us to watch what they replace our show with, they need to think of the fans who watched.

    Reply

  32. clb says:

    GL could have had the best ending but was lacking in direction (Wheeler), writing, and support from P&G and CBS (Bloom) in its final days. Still, I thought Reva and Josh driving off with the lighthouse in the background was rather smart and I will always hope that the show can return (even for 30 minutes a day or a reunion) for the faithful.

    Reply

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