A soap-opera crossover involves a character from one show dropping in on another show.
This is not to be confused with actors from one show playing different characters on another show. Or, as was the case with General Hospital in 2013, actors from another show first playing characters from their original show, then disappearing courtesy of a lawsuit for a few months—only to reappear as completely different characters. With no one noticing.
Last week on GH, Ava got a little (admittedly botched) help from her long-lost mother, who turned out to be Delia Reid, a character from a long-lost soap, Ryan’s Hope (1975–1989), played by the original actress, Ilene Kristen.
Delia being revealed as Ava’s mother did leave many fans scratching their heads about when exactly that might have happened, as Delia was rarely off the canvas long enough to bear the child of a random mob boss. Yet the same fans likely got a kick out of in-jokes like Delia claiming to be Jillian Coleridge (her RH romantic rival), and marveling over how much Sonny’s father looked like Delia’s’s ex-husband (both played by the same actor).
Did the above get you nostalgic for some classic soap-on-soap action? Check out our look back at five of the most memorable daytime crossovers ever:
First Soap Opera Crossover
Daytime’s first crossover came in 1966, when Irna Phillips, head writer of The Guiding Light on CBS, picked up lawyer Mike Bauer and his preteen daughter, Hope, and sent them to Another World on NBC, where Phillips also happened to be the head writer. Widower Mike spent an entire year in Bay City, during which time he managed to romance both Pat and her stepdaughter, Lee, all while working for Pat’s (paralyzed) husband, John. (In 1999, when AW was cancelled, a handful of character migrated to another Phillips-created show, As the World Turns. When ATWT itself was cancelled in 2010, they made a reference to Bay City.)
No one is ever, ever safe from Shelia Carter. Not even when you leave the show. Because she’ll follow you. In 1992, after stealing her rival Lauren’s baby and passing him off as her own on The Young and the Restless, Shelia was presumed dead in a fire. In reality, she simply moved to L.A. to work as a nurse for The Bold & the Beautiful’s Forrester family. There, she blackmailed, kidnapped, cheated, killed and married (despite a now-clued-in Lauren’s attempts to stop her). Then, after 10 years on the lam, Sheila returned to Y&R, messing with Lauren’s now-grown son and trying to convince the other woman to commit suicide. Figuring no prison can hold Sheila, top cop Paul imprisoned her in a cage.
Guess what happened? After yet more kidnappings and gunplay, Sheila was declared dead from a bullet wound. So who, then, was the “Sheila Carter” who signed Sheila’s daughter, Daisy, out of a mental institution in 2012? We might have to go to another show to find out.
The Mother of All Crossovers
Three mothers, two babies, several possible dads (it is a soap, after all), a helicopter crash, and so many lies you needed two shows to contain them all: In 2004, One Life to Live’s Paul delivered the baby (it might also have been his) of his ex-wife, Babe, on All My Children. He then switched that baby boy with Bianca’s newborn girl, staged a helicopter crash to make it look like Bianca’s baby had died, gave Bianca’s baby to Babe, and gave Babe’s baby to Paul’s sister, Kelly, whose own child was stillborn the day before (on OLTL). Kelly needed a substitute in order to save her own marriage.
Everyone eventually learned the truth, and the children were returned to their respective biological parents (AMC: 2, OLTL: 0). After all, as we learned last week, soap kids are interchangeable and never, ever suffer any trauma from being bounced around from home to home, parent to parent, or even name to name. (The little girl went from being called Bess to Miranda. The little boy went from Asa to Ace to Adam III to AJ. Eh, what’s in a name?)
Most Pointless Soap Opera Crossover
Almost immediately following AW’s cancellation (see above), ABC snatched up one of the show’s biggest stars, Linda Dano, and put her to work on not one, not two, but three of its shows. In a rather blatant ratings ploy, viewers were supposed to follow Rae from soap town to soap town as she found her long-lost mother (on AMC), daughter (on OLTL) and daughter’s father (on GH). It later turned out he really wasn’t her father, but then he adopted her anyway and … Raise your hand if you believe Adam Chandler and his obsession with bloodlines would have ever consented to adopt a child in the first place?
The problem was, while viewers cared about Rae’s mother, daughter and ex (they even cared about Rae’s daughter’s adoptive father)—all long-running ABC daytime characters—nobody really cared about Rae. Eventually, Rae left town to go on a cruise. And the ratings didn’t go up either.
Most Original Soap Opera Crossover
When is a soap-opera crossover not a crossover? When only half of it is a soap opera, and the other is a Marvel comic book (which, granted, my husband points out is exactly the same as a soap opera). In 2006, Guiding Light’s Harley was zapped by electricity and acquired superpowers, which prompted her to don Spandex, pick out a superhero name (The Guiding Light, natch), and go forth to protect all the citizens of Springfield from … an evil blogger. Harley’s reign only lasted a single episode. But Marvel commemorated the event with an eight-page comic book, featuring special guest appearances by Iron Man and Spider-Man.
Naturally, we’ve only scratched the surface here. What’s your favorite soap-opera crossover? Tell us in the comments!