Days of Our Lives will be celebrating the show’s 50th anniversary this fall, with a serial-killer story set to knock off several contract players and perhaps even a few returning fan favorites. (Which sounds like the opposite of a historical celebration to me. Then again, General Hospital commemorated its 52nd anniversary this past April by totally rewriting several characters’ histories, so maybe spitting in long-term fans’ eyes is the new hip thing.)
Of course, serial killers are a big part of DOOL‘s history. There was the Salem Strangler in 1981 (triggering one of soaps’ earliest fan campaigns to bring back Marlena, whom fans thought had been killed); the Salem Slasher in 1983 (not to be confused with the Riverfront Slasher of 1988), when Marlena’s cousin and others were killed by Tony’s lookalike cousin, Andre; and the Salem Stalker of 2003, when that same Marlena was believed to have killed many of her friends and neighbors. Except it wasn’t really her. It was Andre (again). And they weren’t really dead. Andre only made Marlena think she’d done it. The victims were actually being kept on a mysterious island. Yeah, you had to be there.
All of the above stories were great for DOOL‘s ratings, meaning other soaps inevitably jumped on the bandwagon. Check out some of those most memorable daytime serial-killer stories below!
1. Sin Stalker, Another World
You’ve got to think the success of all those dead people in Salem promoted NBC to gently nudge its network-mate, Another World, toward a serial-killer story of its own. Oh, and it would be great if they could share initials. The Sin Stalker, in 1987, was a respected psychiatrist who, in his spare time, killed in order to rid the world of sinful women. What was weird was that he killed a few minor, inconsequential women, and left the bulk of the truly sinful ones still breathing. Oh, and he also attacked Crystal Gayle.
2. Satin Slayer, All My Children
Another double “S” stalker! The presumed-dead Alexander was killing women connected to Fusion Cosmetics, and he got longtime favorite Dixie with a stack of poisoned pancakes. Except he didn’t. Later, Alexander claimed he only took the blame for Dixie along with the others because … reasons. But she turned out not to be dead after all. (And the woman pretending to be the back-from-the-dead Dixie in the meantime was just a long-lost sister.)
3. Raven Lake Slasher, As the World Turns
Remember Scream? I Know What You Did Last Summer? Friday the 13th? Move it to daytime, make it every day of the week, and you’ve got ATWT‘s teen terror story. Teenagers at a summer resort are being knocked off one by one, and Maddie is the prime suspect. Then Maddie gets attacked. And Maddie’s boyfriend, Casey, is killed. And her brother-in-law, who raped Maddie as a kid, is the obvious suspect … but he’s killed too. A not-really-dead Casey finally unmasks the real killer. It’s Maddie’s sister, Eve, who blamed Maddie for her husband’s “affair.”
4. Killing Club Killer, One Life to Live
Marcie (really OLTL‘s head writer and bestselling author, Michael Malone) writes a book called The Killing Club. A minor character seeking revenge for Marcie and her friends being mean to him in high school copies the book’s plot and kills some other minor characters. No harm done. Let the record show that the ATWT tie-in book, The Man from Oakdale, which was written by Henry (really by me) and references Eve’s murders, does not cause anyone to die.
5. Eden’s Escort Service Murders, Guiding Light
A couple of day players died. The killer turned out to be Ben, whom viewers had seen born on screen, who grew up on screen, and who came back from boarding school played by Matthew Bomer. Seems he’d been molested in boarding school. So he became a gigolo. And a serial killer who confessed all on his death bed.
6. Carnation Killer, Santa Barbara
The show had too many blond actresses when it first premiered. So a serial killer came along to dispatch a few of them. He was played by Leeza Gibbons’ husband at the time, and he spared Kelly, as played by a pre–Princess Bride/House of Cards Robin Wright.
7. Loving Murders, Loving
Pretty much everyone in town was knocked off so the survivors could move to NYC and spin off The City. See: Top 10 Dramatic Character Exits from Soap Operas.
8. Franco, General Hospital
Movie star James Franco wanted to be on a soap opera. He wanted to be an artist and he wanted his character to be crazy. GH granted the actor’s wish, and created a crazy artist named Franco.
Franco was obsessed with hit man Jason. He blackmailed, kidnapped, set up a teenage boy to be raped in prison, and let Jason think Franco raped Jason’s wife, Sam. Then the character was recast with Roger Howarth. He came bearing DVDs that proved he hadn’t done (most) of the horrible things he was accused of (he just let people think he had—performance art, you know?). Oh, and he has a brain tumor, which means he isn’t responsible for any of his crimes and, after surgery, is totally fit to become soaps’ first serial killer to remain on the show. And turn into a romantic lead. The mother of the teenage boy even almost married him! Bygones.
Do you have a favorite soap-opera serial-killer story? (Or one you wish had never existed?) Tell us below!