Soap Surprises: Five Holy @#%! Moments

Marlena killer

Thinking Fans Holy @#%! Update Aug. 14:  Melanie picks Wayne Northrup’s return as Roman on Days … B3 loved Gwyneth as the killer on Loving … Carl recalls five faves from Santa Barbara … and more.  See Comments below.

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By Patrick Erwin

Soap plots have many twists and turns in them, but we rarely get to see a complete “bombshell” surprise, like the ones we’ve seen in The Sixth Sense, The Crying Game, or The Usual Suspects. The “reveal” of a surprise on soaps usually happens a little bit at a time, with a character or two here or there. And unfortunately, the appetite for news and spoilers has spoiled the element of surprise for many viewers (and that isn’t doing the shows any favors, either).

But there have been moments of complete, utter surprise on the soaps. Here (in no particular order) are five examples of fantastic, goosebump-producing, oh-no-they-didn’t moments.

NOTE: The moments I am talking about, and have listed below, were stories where we the audience, were totally surprised when these scenes played out. There are many, many moments, like Karen Wolek admitting she was a hooker on One Life To Live, where the characters of a show were shocked and surprised by a revealation, but those aren’t listed here, because we, the audience, knew about them beforehand.Anthony Herrera

1.  The (first) return of James Stenbeck, As The World Turns. James started off good but was a bad guy by the time he “died” in 1982. The return of James (and actor Anthony Herrera) in 1986 is the stuff of soap legends, and came from the minds of Douglas Marland and Robert Calhoun. The character of James was given the pseudonym of “Lester Keys” and was cloaked in a monk’s robe when first on camera. The actors were kept in the dark and did not know it was Herrera until he pulled back the hood and uttered the now famous line, “Hello, Barbara.” It was a total surprise that shook up an already-hot ATWT in a great way, and much of the story that was created at that time is STILL playing out now.

2.  Brent returns as Marian, Guiding Light. This was undoubtedly a disturbing story, but the return of rapist Brent Lawrence as “Marian Bates” was an astonishing surprise. Brent was believed to be dead, but resurfaced and disguised himself as Marian to get close to his victim, Lucy. The show had Marian in a few scenes as the new Spaulding assistant, and then showed Marian removing her wig and clothes to show Brent underneath.Kimberlin Brown (Ssh! Marian’s look and costuming were based on GL’s then executive producer, Jill Farren Phelps.)

3.  Sheila isn’t dead (the first time around), Young and Restless/Bold and Beautiful. This was also a complete surprise, and a clever twist on the back-from-the-dead story idea. Sheila, the Y&R villainess, was believed to be dead. She resurfaced a short time later not on Y&R, but on B&B. The crossover provided a boost to B&B, gave the character of Sheila new mojo (as well as a new group of people to torture) and became a hugely popular story, especially when Lauren Fenmore also crossed over to B&B.

4. Marlena is the killer, Days of Our Lives. This was a surprising twist in a story we all initially believed was a serial murder mystery. The show’s choice to highlight Dr. Evans, the longtime heroine of Salem, as a killer was a bold choice. Even bolder were some of the scenes that played out after the reveal (including a scene of Marlena choking Alice Horton with a doughnut). The show eventually back-pedaled its way out of the murders by showing that it had all been programmed into Marlena’s mind by Andre DiMera.

5. Charlie is really Alistair, Passions. Passions did their own take on the surprising identity reveal by having Charlie, Beth’s friend who supposedly had a crush on her, pull off a mask to reveal herself as … Alistair Crane, Beth’s father. The show later repeated this idea, to a degree, with the Valerie/Vincent story.

What are your favorite stories? What jaw-dropping, shocking surprise do you recall from current shows, or past favorites?

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Patrick Erwin blogs regularly at  A Thousand Other Worlds …

Comments

  1. Melanie says:

    Terrific List!! I’m so glad you mentioned Brent’s return on GL. That was a crazy Holy $@#^ moment and it was also the most chilling and morbidly entertaining storyline I’ve ever seen on a soap. It was disturbing, shocking (he actually killed fan faves like Nadine and Cutter!), darkly humorous (so many Psycho in-jokes!) and the performances were flawless. Great stuff!

    The second biggest Holy @#$% moment for me was on Days of Our Lives (1991) – Wayne Northrop comes back as Roman (so who the H♥ll is Drake Hogestyn playing?!) – I had no idea Northrop was coming back to the show, so this revelation was HUGE for me! Back from the dead returns weren’t that unique (especially on DAYS), but the difference here was that Hogestyn had already been playing a back from the dead Roman for 5 years! Northrop suddenly showing up as the “real” Roman freaked me out. Who was this “fake” Roman and what happens next?! Sure it was crazy, and I had mixed feelings about it, but it was one of the most shocking twists on daytime EVER, imo. The ultimate WTF moment for me!

  2. Fabobug says:

    What a great topic!! Here are my Holy $%#* moments of soap watching. Keep in mind, I don’t know if there were spoilers in the press at the time, I just know I was shocked when I saw them.

    5. “Viki has 7 personalities!” [OLTL -1995]. For years we knew about Niki Smith and her wild antics. What we didn’t know is that SEVEN personalities lived inside Viki’s fragile mind. It was a wonderful shock to see them emerge during this wonderful storyline.

    4. “Viki Hudson switched the babies!” [AW - 1994]. We knew that Vicki hated her unborn baby’s father Grant with a passion. So it only made sense that she would go on the run with the infant after he was born. But when she came back to town she made a complete 180, agreeing to share custody with Grant, even (gasp!) placing the baby in his arms. What we DIDN’T know was that Vicki had actually gone to San Francisco, stolen a baby from a clinic, and switched that kid as her own! So when she came back to Bay City she shared the imposter baby with Grant, while secretly raising her real newborn Kirkland on her own. Scandalous!

    3. “Tony stole the baby!” [GH -1998]. When infant Michael was kidnapped as Carly looked away, we just assumed it was a mob figure that did it (or at least I did). But when it turned out an emotionally decompensated Tony Jones was the culprit, I sat up in my chair. No, not the upstanding Dr. Jones! But it made perfect sense given his slow psychological decline after BJ’s death four years earlier. It was a tragic and satisfying outcome to a sad story. [Keep in mind this was before Guza morally assassinated every vet on the show].

    2. “Oh my God, they killed Mary!” [Santa Barbara -1986]. Mary Duvall was the morally upstanding heroine survivor of the town. She had survived a cruel rape, and painful court trial, to learn, to grow, to thrive. So when the big “C” of Capwell Enterprises crushed her to death, it was one of the most shocking and traumatizing moments EVER on daytime [remember - this was in the days when an onscreen death actually meant someone died!].

    1. “Not Edmund!” [Ryan's Hope - 1979]. Even more harrowing and unexpected than Mary’s death was baby Edmund’s shocking demise on Ryan’s Hope. Years of storyline had been centered around his paternity, and plenty of more years could have been created around his custody and upbringing. Instead he died in tragic gas explosion while away with Jillian on vacation. I didn’t actually see this episode until SoapNet reran it around 2001, but I still find it haunting, frightening, and a testament to what soaps can do when given a chance to tell a story spoiler free.

  3. Carl says:

    The biggest shockers — for me as a young, newby soap viewer at the time — were from daytime’s finest hour, Santa Barbara.

    1) Dominic is really presumed-dead Sophia Capwell.
    2) Mary Duvall McCormack is shockingly killed with a giant letter C.
    3) Sophia killed her son (well who she THOUGHT was her son), Channing
    4) Channing wasn’t really Channing but Brick Wallace, the child of circus folk.
    5) Elena dies in CC’s arms…immediately after she calls him “Daddy.”

    Those were great, great, great days. (And if I thought longer, I’m sure I could remember many more, but I can’t think of SB too often because it makes me very, very sad.)

    A little later, I remember being shocked when Carl Hutchins was revealed as Ryan Harrison’s father on Another World.

    Most of these happened before I read soap magazines, so they were true surprises. But the joy of Santa Barbara (especially) and Another World wasn’t their plot, but their writing and acting. The idea that internet and/or print spoilers spoil daytime ignores the rotten state of 99% of the writing and about 70% of the acting.

  4. PK ( Kel ) says:

    Two of my faves from the past:

    Magazines KNEW this one ahead of time … and actually graciously declined to reveal it.

    Early 90s ATWT — Duncan is told his wife is ill, a mess and and the airport waiting for him. We have no clue why Jessica would be in this situation and on a Friday close … Duncan’s wife collapses in his arms and it is NOT Jessica … it is the NOT shrunken-headed Shannon back from the dead!

    If only the following Devere story with the wonderfully returned Jesse (DW, of course) would have been played out better afterwards.

    There are so many from Edge, I can’t count but one that sticks out from the glory of Henry S.’ pen — Winter Austin defended to the hilt for killing Tank among other nasty deeds is painted COMPLETELY as falsely accused — then in a catwalk confrontation the shadow fades into half life. WINTER is evil after all. An AMAZING reveal.

    Sorry this isn’t super coherent — it’s 3:30 AM after a very long day and I hope my points still get across. :)

  5. I’m usually completely spoiled, but back in the day I had no idea that General Hospital’s famous “clink boom” with Lily’s death and Jax and Brenda’s wedding was coming, so that was definitely a Holy @*&#*! moment for me. Even retrospectively, I think I appreciate what was an undeniably good set-up even more because I didn’t anticipate it.

  6. Eccaka says:

    GH’s famous Clink/BOOM scene was completely shocking to me. (Was I the only one who had no idea Lily Melgar was leaving?) The aftershocks — in the form of Sonny and Jason– of that event are STILL being felt 12 years later.

  7. B3 says:

    I’d add Gwyneth is the killer on the end of “Loving.” A total surprise! The best murder mystery was Will Courtland on AMC. It was well planned and executed (obviously the writers didn’t change their minds about who the killer was throughout the run of the story) and the reveal that Janet was the killer was a surprise. I don’t think it qualifies for this category since the audience knew before the soap characters, but it’s still worthy of a mention. What about Lucy Coe not being the mousy little librarian we thought she was on GH? I still remember her taking off her glasses, letting down her hair, and stripping down to her red lingerie under her unflattering dress.

  8. Aaron says:

    Hey Patrick,

    These were great! Just a quick correction: Marian’s last name on GL was Crane, the same name as Janet Leigh’s character in Psycho. One of Marian’s victims was SUSAN Bates, Nick’s HIV positive love interest, whom Marian attacked in the shower.

    Also, on Days, I could be wrong, but I don’t think they ever showed Marlena kill Alice. We saw Alice slumped over in the chair and the investigation showed she was “choked to death” by a donut, but I don’t recall ever actually seeing the scene played out the way they did with Maggie and the bloody wine bottle. Or maybe I just blacked it out, as that story was a disaster from start to finish.

    Patrick says: Aaron, thanks for the correction. I knew it was Marian Crane, but I think I transposed Bates in my mind (since the naming scheme for Marian was a takeoff of “Psycho”).

  9. Aaron says:

    Another follow-up… I found the clip on Youtube… they show Marlena taunting Alice and leaving the house, but they never actually showed her forcing poor old Alice to eat the donuts… that was thankfully left to our sordid imaginations…

  10. Dale says:

    Patrick, how well I remember the Marian Crane reveal! You said that the story was disturbing and it was. I was shocked and stunned that GL had Lucy believe she had HIV because Marian switched lab results. I could only imagine the horror of people watching who had themselves been tested for HIV and wondering if they thought that maybe their own false or positive tests could have been wrong. I recall having a very angry emotional response to that storyline point.

  11. Michael Logan says:

    Mr. Erwin: What a fun topic! You have five terrific picks here but for me the one that topped them all — the wildest soap-opera shockarooney ever — was the day Lucy Coe, the meek n’ mousey librarian of Port Charles, testified in court that Kevin was not guilty of murdering Jennifer, then went home, let down her bun, took off her prim, prissy outfit and pranced around in spike heels, lace stockings and red-hot-mama slip. Then her bell rang, she opened the door and laid a big, wet, messy kiss on … Kevin! That had to be way back in 1986 or so, but my jaw is still on the floor.

    Regards,
    Michael Logan/TV Guide

    Patrick says: Thanks for mentioning that one, Michael! I hadn’t realized what a surprise that particular scene was — I only remembered Lucy as a vixen!

  12. jefhamlin says:

    Quick correction to PK (Kel): Jessica was in Chicago at a civil rights rally. Duncan was called to come pick up his wife, who we the audience were to assume was Jessica arrested at the demonstration, only to discover it was our beloved Shannon back from the dead! Great moment, and the last time I was really surprised by ATWT.

    Though I do have to say, the moment Carly let down her act, out of sight of her new-found half-sister Rosanna, and tossed her cigarette butt on the ground at the Snyder Farm was a great, surprising moment. I knew right then a great character and a great actor had arrived.

  13. Matthew Cormier says:

    Here are several moments that still rank in my mind as some of the most shocking:

    5. Leslie Webber is Alive (GH) — I want to say this was around 1996 or 1997 but there was a whole story arch that involved the Spencers being victimized by the Cassidine family which culminated in learning that the Cassidine family had been holding Leslie Webber hostage for years and that she never died. I recall being utterly shocked when this reveal was made. Also, I recall this story also included an arch where Luke and Laura had to fake Laura’s death in order to free Leslie and that everyone in town (and all us viewers) believed that Laura had died and that Genie had left the series and then months later Laura turned up alive and well after Leslie had been saved and everyone was stunned — I recall Bobbie screaming at Luke and Laura for letting everyone believe she was dead. I recall gasping out loud when Laura was revealed to be ALIVE! It was stunning.

    4. Lucky Spencer is ALIVE (GH) — We watched as young Elizabeth Webber grieved the loss of lucky from a fire in his building, we watched as Laura Spencer tore Sonny Corinthos and Jason Morgan and her husband Luke a new one for allowing her son to live in a building owned by the mob and for putting him in danger, we saw the raw torment on Luke’s face when he learnt his only son was dead and we were all FLABBERGASTED when Lucky Spencer, now blonde, turned up alive (although brainwashed) in Helena Cassidine’s prison.

    3. Jessica Buchanan was tormenting Dorian Lord (OLTL) — Shortly after her unborn baby had been killed, Dorian Lord began recieving death threats and cruel tormenting things left on her doorstep (including baby dolls with death threats written on them) and for months we all believed it was simply public outcry for the heiress involvement in the hit and run that killed Jessica Buchanan’s baby — but we were all stunned to learn that it was JESSICA that was sending these threats — she was so emotionally damaged from the hit and run that it was she that was tormenting Dorian Lord. This was shocking because Jessica was such a good girl and had never done anything morally corrupt in her life but she was just so disturbed after her baby’s death that she snapped and started tormenting Dorian a woman who had reaked havoc on her family for years.

    2. Victoria Lord gave birth to TWIN GIRLS (OLTL) — It was only a few years ago that Victoria Lord as well as viewers learned a startling truth that forever changed OLTL –Psycho Mitch Laurance confessed not only to kidnapping Natalie when she was a child (and giving her to Roxy Balsom to raise) but also to another more horrible truth — that both Natalie and Jessica were Viki’s daughters and that they were TWINS — one of whom (Jessica) was conceived out of rape when mitch drugged Viki and raped her just hours before she had made love with husband Clint. Even more startling was that Viki had never known she was carrying twins because her doctor Dr. Balsom never told her as he was a member of Mitch’s cult. This was a shock nobody saw coming and that still plays out to this day.

    1. Rachael Gannon killed Georgie Phillips (OLTL) — For months nearly everyone in Lainview was accused of killing Georgie Phillips and it all came to a head one day when Todd Manning held half of Lainview hostage in the Buchanan cabin and at long last it was revealed that Rachael Gannon, the daughter of Nora and Hank Gannon had killed Bo’s psycho stalker and nora’s former assistant. It was a twist nobody saw coming.

  14. Melissa P says:

    Back in the ’80′s, when DAYS was running the Salem Strangler story. It was a 2-parter what the: 1) watching Marlena get strangled during the Friday cliffhanger (remember the explosion at the NBC studios over that one?); 2) everyone first thought the strangler was Roman, then they thought it was Eugene, then when we say the mask ripped off of Jake Kosicheck’s face everyone at my place was screaming.

    Then, just for laughs, anyone remember the Trading Places show on OLTL? Watching the actors playing the polar opposites of their regular characters was a huge What The??? moment, in between laughing myself silly.

  15. Smelly Kelly Jay says:

    Things to keep in mind when reading my comment here:

    1. I’m a spoilerholic, even though I *know* how much better things are when I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t think I’ve been spoiler free for, like, 20 years, so very little surprises me on daytime any more. Bless my heart.
    2. I was raised on “The Edge of Night” and still consider it one of my very, most favorite TV shows. It’s certainly my very, most favorite soap opera.

    With those things in mind, my list is all EoN. . .

    6. Geraldine killed Logan. The set up for this reveal was great. Skye gathered all the suspects in a room and named Geraldine as the killer. Geraldine threw her head back and let out a throaty laugh and commented with confidence that that was absurd. Skye went on to say that he had proof. Cue the opening. For a little while there, I felt sick to my stomach, thinking the show’s new writing regime had turned the beloved Geraldine into a cold-blooded killer. Of course, she wasn’t. Long story short, Geraldine had fired the fatal shot, thinking she was shooting at an intruder, when it was a drunken Logan. This was a convoluted story, but it all fit into place at the end. It was probably EoN’s last great murder mystery.

    5. Nancy being held in the Bryson Clinic. This is another one that took me by total surprise and made me feel sick to my stomach. Nancy had gone on a seemingly routine investigation of hospital orderly Sharkey. For a few episodes, people mentioned not hearing from Nancy and how they were growing concerned. No huge whoop though. Her husband Mike went to the Bryson Clinic, where he was told that Nancy had come and gone a few days before. After he leaves, we see Nancy tied to a bed in the clinic, her face wrapped in bandages. I don’t recall being given any clue that the clinic was a bad place. It was just grody Sharkey’s workplace. I feared that Nancy’s face had been maimed or changed and couldn’t imagine what the heck was going on.

    4. Mickey Dials is Tobias. When Paige Madison snuck away from her bodyguard, Steve, and went to the Unicorn, I thought she just wanted to get out of the house and have some fun. What a surprise to see her run into Mickey’s arms and ID him as Tobias, the leader of the gunrunners/terrorists that got idealistic Paige into trouble and were out to kill her.

    3. Nicole is murdered. Even though Jayne Bentzen and Lisa Sloan seemed to play a different character than the one Maeve McGuire created, Nicole was still a long-running, beloved (at least by me) character. Besides, I only vaguely remember McGuire in the role. To see her killed off – and by poisoned makeup, no less – was a huge shock. I kept expecting there to be some sort of twist where she was really alive, but there wasn’t one.

    2. Raven returns. A few months earlier, Raven had flown the coop, seemingly for good. I was flabbergasted to see her show up in the courtroom as Eliot’s alibi during Draper’s trial for Margot’s murder. I was SO glad she came back. I think I even jumped up and hooted when she walked in the door.

    1. Molly killed Nadine and Eliot (and tried to kill Cliff, Raven, and April). To me, this is the best storyline I ever saw on EoN. Most (if not all) of the characters were involved, characters and stories that didn’t seem to be connected actually were connected, and it all fit together perfectly and sensibly in the end. I was sure Raven had killed Eliot and had attempted to kill Cliff. And Nadine had died of either a heart attack/stroke or in the car crash that followed after she died or passed out. No foul play there.

    Then, meek, soft-spoken Molly shows up at Raven’s, confesses it all, and shoots Raven with Raven’s gun. And THEN, Molly goes to kill April, getting her where she wanted her – passed out on the basement floor. And *THEN*, Molly goes up to get some rope to stage April’s suicide, sees the “ghost” of Raven, and falls down the steps in shock to her death. Raven’s boy toy, Derek, had filled the gun with blanks, and Raven had only passed out from shock and fear. How perfect that bad girl Raven saved the life of her rival, good girl April.

    Since PK (Kel) already mentioned the shock that was Winter being guilty of killing Wade after all and that she purposefully let her accomplice, Tank, fall to his death, I left that one off my list.

  16. Carolyn says:

    It’s been years since I actually watched soaps (the annihilation of NBC daytime did me in), but I can’t think of one solitary thing on Days, AW, ATWT or GL that shocked me half as much as the death of Mary Duvall McCormick by the Big Letter “C” on Santa Barbara. To this day, it may be one of the most shocking things I ever witnessed in television or movies. The last thing I expected halfway into the episode was that Mary would have a sign falling on her by the end of the show….

  17. PK ( Kel ) says:

    Thanks Jef..you are def.right..combo of missing a detail and the lateness of the hour.. that got left out of my memory !!

    YOUR great moment..which was INDEED great .. didn’t just-arrived Carly actually throw her cig IN THE POND instead of on the ground? I could be TOTALLY wrong but I seem to remember her polluting that hallowed water was much more cosmic than if she had just stomped it out.

    Of course it’s once again 2 am and I could be mis-remembering.

    And yes.. to join Mr. Logan –this IS a grand idea for a column so glad it was posted ..

    (I would like Marlena actually to write a sequel/companion since I am seemingly the OLD guy here going back pre 80s sometimes… Logan’s Lucy Coe choice is the only thing as old as anything I mentioned.. I would love to hear more examples from those of us who were alive and yes .. gasp can remember late 60′s and 70s surprises. )

    Marlena says: Kel, dear, everyone knows I was in this years before you! Here’s my 1970-71 Holy *&*S moment: On Another World, Walter Curtin had a partician wife Lenore, whom he loved and worshipped. An older man (name?) played by Robert Milli, developed a thing for Lenore. One day, Milli was found murdered and Lenore arrested. Lawyer Walter defended his wife and got her acquitted. A bit later, Walter was seen caressing Lenore’s scarf, the piece of evidence that Walter himself was the murderer. What a shock!!!! Later on (I was in college at the time) Walter paid dearly! One Friday afternoon, he was sent off a cliff in a fiery car crash.

    If anyone out there remembers the outrageously super-duper over the top actor Val Dufour, who played Walter Curtin, raise your hand! When he died in the 90s, I wrote an appreciation of him in SOW, and no one there even who he was!

  18. Kellye says:

    Not only was GL’s Marian Crane story creepy, but it also killed one of my favorite characters, Nadine Cooper. I had no idea that was coming and kept hoping for a resurrection ala Roger, even though she was unceremoniously wrapped in a rug and dumped into the river.

    Also on GL, I think that Maureen’s death was quite a surprise. I never had much use for her, so I wasn’t upset, but it was shocking.

    The most surprising for me, as well as many of you, was Mary being done in by the C. I was so angry at the turn of events, that I stopped watching SB daily.

  19. James says:

    Patrick,

    Great topic. Thanks for bringing back so many memories.

    The Marian Crane story on GL was great. Very fun and so unexpected. And yes, Marian’s look was based on Jill Farren Phelps. However, Jill had already left the show by the time that aired. I beleive Michael Laibson was EP at that point.

    Most of my OMG moments on soaps came long, long ago, before the soap mags started including spoilers in ever issue. I’m still pissed that during Days 2003-2004 serial killer story, Digest had a cover story revealing Marlena as the killer that came out a full WEEK before the on-screen reveal. I’d avoided internet message boards and other places where spoilers were getting leaked about the story since I was enjoying the plot and wanted to be surprised. Yet there I was standing in line at the grocery store and saw the cover with Marlena holding the killer’s mask and a headline reading “Killer Unmasked.”

    Anyway, several OMG moments for me, in no particular order:

    1. Jenny getting KILLED by the exploding jet ski on AMC — July 1984.

    2. The Salem Strangler killing MARLENA on DAYS — May 1982.

    3, Marlena turning up ALIVE a week later on DAYS and we realized it was her twin sister Samantha who the Strangler had killed — May 1982.

    4. SOPHIA was the one who accidently killed Channing on SANTANA BARBARA — May 1985.

    5, Jake McKinnon bursting into Donna Love’s apartment RETURNING to Bay City to live off his estranged wife Marley after a 2 year absence from AW — July 1988.

    And finally, one that caught me completely off guard both storywise and casting wise:

    On Another Wordld in October 1988, Rachel answering the door of the Cory mansion and going “IRIS.” And then the screen faded to black. The audience never got to see Iris. It was a Friday cliffhanger and I spent the whole weekend delighted at the prosepct of Iris being back in town, but wondering how they got Beverlee McKinsey away from GL to play the part again (since I considered Beverlee the only person who could play Iris).

    So, on Monday, I was shocked and disappointed that it wasn’t Beverlee standing there, but instead Carmen Duncan. But I was so happy that Iris was back, I quickly came to accept Carmen as Iris.

  20. Jay says:

    For me, the most shocking twist came during the late 80s on GL. Forgive me if I twist some of the details as the storyline was totally twisted. The revelation that Josh’s wife, Sonni, was actually her presumed dead twin sister Solita, who was pretending to be Sonni. Michelle Forbes was masterful in this story, as was Joseph Breen who played Will Jeffries. I don’t think I’ve ever been as shocked. True, this storyline did play out during a writer’s strike, which may add credibility that no one on the show even saw it coming

  21. James says:

    For Marlena,

    The character Robert Milli played on Another World in the late 60s/early 70s was Wayne Addison.

    And yes, that was a great storyline. I too was quite shocked to discover Walter Curtin was the killer. The way Walter used to caress that scarf was so creepy.

  22. Bob says:

    This (like most) is a great thread!

    Most of the ones I was thinking of have already been written about.

    To piggyback on Jay’s comment about Sonni/Solita one of the best scenes (in my opinion) came months later when Michelle Forbes left the show (there seemed to be a toying of a Sonni/Roger pairing)… Sonni had been undergoing treatment and was seemingly cured and back to being a doctor.

    I believe she left to accept a position at a San Francisco hospital. Seated on the plane, “Sonni” lit a cigarette (Solita had smoked) and a flight attendant quickly admonished her. She gave the camera a smirk leaving the audience wondering if she really was Sonni, or if she’d really been cured.

  23. Barb says:

    I remember my freshman year in college (fall of 1987/spring 1988) watching ATWT with a few friends in the dorm. We were explaining to a newbie the history of Lily and Holden. When she showed up at Dusty’s house, we all said “Oh, nothing will happen – Lily’s a virgin and Dusty’s such a boy scout”. We clearly had not seen any spoilers because we all started screaming as we realized that Lily was actually having sex with Dusty. We were beyond shocked. Not as dramatic as some of the other moments mentioned above, but boy was that a $@%! moment for us.

  24. CS says:

    I agree about the Brent/Marion shocker, but Marion was actually based on an executive producer from another show – Jean Dadario Burke – who was then with The City and would later be EP of All My Children. Watch the YouTube video of Susan Lucci winning her Emmy – Jean is sitting to the left behind Susan’s husband Helmut Huber. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJKHiij5Kz4

    Marlena says: No, darling. I was told by a Guiding Light head writer that it was based on Jill Farren Phelps. Everyone loved Jeannie Burke!

  25. Jason says:

    On AW, after Rachel gave birth to Amanda, Mac said to Iris (Beverlee McKinsey at the time) something to the effect of “I finally have a child of my own”. To which Iris askes him what he is talking about and Mac says “Your mother and I couldn’t have children, so we adopted you.” That reveal about the daddy fixated Iris was so shocking I get chills writing about it. No foreshadowing, no magazine spoilers. The episode ends with Iris alone on the floor of an elevator screaming like a wounded animal. I’ve never forgotten it.

  26. CS says:

    OK, but keep in mind that Michael Laibson was the executive producer of Guiding Light when the Marion Crane story played out, not Jill. Jill left in late April of 1995, Michael took over as EP on Monday May 1st, 1995. The same month Megan McTavish was let go from AMC and hired by Michael Laibson to replace Lorraine Broderick (who left GL to replace McTavish). One of Megan’s first storylines was the Marion Crane story.

    Marlena says: Thanks for the interesting chronology. But one of the very well known male, now bigger than life GL co-headwriters of this era told me this, and it is the absolute truth. If you don’t believe me, ask Tabitha Lennox, a spirit who will be with us always, even though she — and he — have recently exited the soap world.

  27. Matthew says:

    Great lists!!!! Isn’t it sad that daytime has fallen so far most of us can only cherish our memories.

    My list:

    5. Finian murdered Nancy Eckert, GH. Arte Johnson’s Finian had been such an amiable, if backburner, presence and Nancy’s murder was so even distributed amongst likely candidates, that when the time came and Finian revealed he had killed Bill Eckert’s ex-wife to protect Sly, it was like, “WHAT?”

    4. Mac is Robert’s brother, GH. It was one of the greatest GH entrances ever, with Robert working to help people out of the water after the S.S. Tracy sank, only to come face to face with his longlost sibling, whom he promptly tossed back into the drink.

    3. Tracy and Jax are cahooting, GH. Jane Elliot made such a bold splash during her brief 1996 return (she later went onto THE CITY, and GH has failed to use her to her full potential — I repeat, how bad a writer do you have to be to waste TRACY QUARTERMAINE?) and was so gloriously in character during the ELQ board meeting, from her digs at relatives new and old to slapping Jax after he cast the deciding vote to oust Ned, that it was a thrilling shock to have Smashing Pumpkins “Disarm” playing during a montage which ended with Jax answering the door, only to have Tracy greet him and pull him into a kiss. Fabulous.

    2. Harlan Barrett is evil, GH. I wasn’t watching GH when Burt Ramsey was revealed to be Mr. Big, but I imagine it was just about as shocking to see Michael Cole’s up-to-now amiable businessman walk into a room with fellow cartel members Leopold Taub and Cesar Faison (Larry Ashton was apparently also a member, but I don’t think this ever actually made the screen) and begin to plot global domination.

    Which brings me to …

    1. Cesar Faison is alive. Anders Hove’s villain is one of my most favorite characters, so any time he defies expectation and resurfaces, be it on LOVING or a decade after he dies for good, it’s cause for celebration. But my favorite is still 1991 (apparently a good year for surprises on GH, even if now it’s mostly regarded as a failure), because Faison was so dead it wasn’t even funny (according to old enemy Remondo). Everyone had written him off as gone for good, which is why his sudden appearance at the Port Charles Hotel (a few days before Robert and Anna’s wedding, natch) was so exciting.

  28. SHAUNA says:

    My biggest shockers:

    1. BJ’s heart saves Maxie’s life — it was heartbreaking, and moving. It’s the reason why I’m an organ-doner today. Its two stand-out moments for me — Bobbie walking out of her daughter’s room to tell Tony “yes” and Felicia breaking down, saying (not screaming which seems to be the norm today) “not BJ’s heart…”

    2. Robin’s HIV status. It blew me away from start to finish. Its two outstanding moments –Stone’s aching “what’s the point if I’m going to die anyway” and of course the final scene with him saying “I see you. Oh Robin I see you.”

    3. Lily’s death — shocking because it was completely unexpected and it began the long-lasting Brenda/Jax/Sonny story which was one of my favorites.

    An honorable mention to the Days serial killings which stunned me — only because all the victims were still alive and the Michael gets shot story — just because I never thought they would tell a story about the consequences of violence without admitting violence is wrong. Silly me — this is GH where good mobsters reign . . . b/c everybody’s got their something (cue dramatic eye-roll)

  29. Robyn says:

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned GH’s Burt Ramsey revealed as crime lord Mr. Big. It broke Robert Scorpio’s heart- and mine, too!

  30. Allison says:

    Oh, the Marian Crane story was unreal!! It broke my heart that we lost my crush Patrick Cutter/Derek Hoxby in the story, but what blew me away even more was that it disturbed Frank Beaty so much that he dropped out of the acting world when it was all over. So much amazing talent, but it shows how he took his work to heart – I hope he gives it another go one day.

    Marlena says: I interviewed Frank Beaty at the time of that story and thought he was a sweet, wonderful guy! Very nice, and so well-spoken! I was really upset to hear later the rumors that they (the executive producer) literally drove him to a nervous breakdown on set! I hope he’s happy doing whatever he’s doing today!

  31. Steve Ungrey says:

    I respectfully disagree with Marlena is the killer, Charles. Sensing JER’s fixation with Marlena (from his previous possession story), this revelation actually was easy to figure out. This was a story you either loved or you hated and I hated, hated, HATED this story with a passion.

    I’ll throw in a few here:

    Will killed Rose, ATWT… who saw this coming? Hogan Sheffer certainly threw a big curve at the viewers when he had a then-barely teenage Will poison Rose’s mouthwash so she wouldn’t marry Paul. Got a little more than he bargained for, didn’t he? And who expected Rose to die? The death and the killer were big surprises.

    Hayley’s death, SB… God, I loved Stacy Edwards as an actress. Still do. Very easy on the eyes, maybe a little green around the gills when she first started in daytime. She grew into the role very quickly and held her own against the likes of Robin Mattson. It was painful to watch the rape story she had and just when you thought she could have some lasting happiness, along comes a drunk driver and plows her over. I was furious with the show to the point where I nearly started watching Guiding Light five years before I actually did. Santa Barbara was a fantastic show, but it could infuriate you with the choice of who got written out. As Bridget Dobson later said, the best reason to keep Hayley was that she made Gina vulnerable.

    Adam Drake’s death, Edge — Wasn’t life before the soap mags wonderful? No one possibly could have known Donald May was leaving Edge in mid 1977, so when Adam was tragically killed off viewers’ jaws literally dropped. Unfortunately they also left the show in droves.

  32. Helen says:

    Well I was shocked to find that Skye Chandler was not a Chandler! And then to find out she was a Quartermaine was great. I was also shocked to find out that AJ WAS a Quartermaine for real! :)

    I was shocked when they killed Frankie off on Another World!

    I was shocked when Another World fired Robin Christopher and even though I guessed it was coming…and had been told often enough…completely shocked that GH let Robin Christopher go!

  33. DS9Sisko says:

    I’m late to this party and will be repeating most of this list, but my Top Ten are, in rough order:

    10. The Sprite is blow up in the middle of the ocean, with Nicole presumed dead and Adam hanging onto debris screaming her name – The Edge of Night

    9. Brent/Marian Reveal – GL

    8. In am explosive confrontation, Iva reveals that Lily is her biological daughter and that Iva’s cousin Rod Landry, who Iva thinks is about to have sex/rape Lily, is actually the man who raped Iva and is Lily’s father – As the World Turns

    7. Karen’s coutroom testimony that she was a hooker as seemingly everyone in Llanview, including her husband Larry, looked on horrified – One Life To Live

    6. The murder of Adam Drake – The Edge of Night

    5. Mary Done in By The Giant C – Santa Barbara

    4. The horrific rapes of Ruth Martin, Eden Capwell, and the murder of Frankie Frame on All My Children, Santa Barbara and Another World, respectively

    3. Luke and Noah’s First Kiss – As the World Turns (I honestly NEVER thought I would see the day…)
    2. A Tie: Doug Cummings Revealed as Kim Hughes Stalker – As the World Turns and…

    How Nola Madison killed Margo HUNTINGTON DORN is revealed just as Margo’s falsley convicted Draper Scott is being carted off to prison and his train is derailed in a storm and he’s presumed dead – The Edge of Night

    1. Good girl/victim Winter Austin really DID kill Wade Meecham and others – The Edge of NIght

  34. AWKBAY says:

    Another World: When Marly and Jake got married and Marly through the bouqet over her head as they left the church. This was on a friday. Monday it continued with Jake and Marly no where in site, but the person that caught the bouquet was Victoria. Donna shouted “Victoria”, but when the camera showed her, it wasn’t Ellen Wheeler, but Rhonda Lewin in the role of Victoria. It was kind of freaky to me, but cool. I really did love Ellen Wheelers “Victoria”, so to see another Victoria that was suppose be an identical twin, but looked nothing like Ellen was kind of a shock. But I got over it fast. I liked Rhonda Lewins Victoria better than Jensens.

    Another World: Frankies death. I didn’t have internet and hadn’t read any magazines about Alice Barrett being fired. So when I watched the Stalker chasing Frankie, I just knew she was going to be the one to catch him. But when she marked the letter “F” with the rock for “Fax” and then died. That really did something to me mentaly. I was in some type of mind frame that I can’t explain. It really affected me.

    OLTL: Before it was stated that Trever St. John was Todd with a face lift. The show recreated a scene that Blair and Todd (Roger Howarth) had done, but this time they put Trever St. John in the scene. But they never said he was Todd during this whole time. That was a schock to me.

  35. David says:

    It’s a shame that there aren’t as many “Holy $@#!” moments on daytime anymore, thanks to all the spoilers! I’ll have to agree that James Stenbeck’s first return is still the best surprise. When he pulled back that monk’s robe to reveal himself to Barbara was AWESOME. I remember getting a call from a friend right after it and we were both freaking out. Must have been a holiday since I was in high school at the time!

    I also think Tad revealing that “Silver Kane” was really con-woman Connie Wilkes back in the early 80′s was a big twist no one saw coming. I still think ol’ Connie needs to come back and make Erica and Tad’s life hell…

  36. Ren says:

    Does anyone remember when Burt Ramsey was revealed to be Mr. Big on General Hospital? That was a big Holy @#%! moment for me! … Marlena, I’m a new fan of yours, but I want to thank you for your previous contributions to the “soap world” and wish you the best of all God’s blessings in your endeavors. You are definitely respected and appreciated. Thanks so much for your site; I have found a home :) – Ren

    Marlena says: Ah, Ren, that is so sweet. Welcome! XXXOOO!

  37. antmunoz says:

    Marlena, your mention of Val Dufour (Walter Curtin, AW) brought back great memories…and also another “didn’t see it coming” moment: when Val played John Wyatt on SEARCH, and Morgan Fairchild’s Jennifer killed Ann Williams’ Eunice Wyatt. Jo’s sister! The character was two decades’ old and Ann had played her for, what? At least ten years! She had a baby! She was luminous! After years of Jo and Eunice being “held at gunpoint,” for Eunice to be held at gunpoint by Jennifer…and SHOT AND KILLED! Well, just wasn’t expecting the “typical” resolution to that particular storyline choice. (SEARCH really decimated Jo’s family over four decades, didn’t it? Three husbands, one lover, a son, a granddaughter, a niece…poor Jo.)

  38. MsMississippi says:

    My favorite moments are a mix of the over the top and the serious…

    10. Search for Tomorrow, Thanksgiving/X-mas 1985: Stephanie catches her daughter, Wendi, in bed with Bela Garody: her mother’s beau at the time.

    9. All My Children, Summer 1991: Janet Green traps her sister, Natalie, at the bottom of a dry well then assumes Natalie’s identity to move in on Natalie’s husband, Trevor.

    8. Y&R, Summer 1989: Cricket Blair is date raped by Derek Stewart.

    7. Guiding Light, Spring 1989: Will Jeffries, Sonni/Solita, Reva, Josh, Mindy… and… the Venezuela storyline.

    6. Guiding Light, Spring 1995 – Early 1996: Brett Lawrence raped Lucy Cooper. He later faked his death, then months later returns as awkward Spaulding Enterprises computer guru: Marian Crane, a female! As Marian, he befriended Lucy as she coped with being a rape victim, all the while, planning to murder her. The plot ended up with Nadine (Lucy’s mom) being killed, Brett kidnapping Lucy, and a wild goose chase to find Lucy, who he’d improsoned in the lighthouse. What I never understood on GL, is why that lighthouse was never the first place they checked… Beth Raines was found there, a decade later Lucy, and a few others in between.

    5. General Hospital, Fall/Winter 1995: Robin Scorpio’s boyfriend, Stone Cates, dies of AIDS complications. Last I heard, Robin is still alive in Port Charles, living with HIV but as a doctor, mother, and wife(?).

    4. Ryan’s Hope, entire series: Anything involving Delia Reid Ryan Coleridge Ryan… AS LONG AS Ilene Kristen was portraying the character, which she did during the program’s entire run, with some awful recasts between her stints.

    3. Edge of Night, early 80′s: The Clown Puppet murders. Hilarious, but brilliant.

    2. Another World, Spring-Summer 1989: Nurse Sharline Frame’s struggle with her alter ego, prostitute “Sharlie”.

    1. One Life to Live, 1978? 1979?: Kindhearted doctor’s wife, Karen Wolek takes the stand in Viki’s defense in the Marco Dane murder trial. Karen, a hooker turned housewife, fled Colorado to escape her pimp Marco Dane after getting him locked up. She started a new life in Llanview and Marco trailed her down and blackmailed her into being a prostitute again, while married to Dr. Larry Wolek! Karen is exposed on the stand with no other option but to admit she is a prostitute, ruining her marriage and sending the character into pariah status. The best scene on daytime. Ever.

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