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5 soap-opera murder mysteries where the non-contract player did it!

“I wish I could say it was nice knowing you, but it wasn’t,” quipped General Hospital‘s Madeline (played by 2015 Daytime Emmy winner and Knots Landing star Donna Mills), right after plunging a knife into the back of thorn-in-her-side Silas (Michael Eston). This brought to an end the monthlong murder mystery.

The suspects had been plentiful. There was Morgan, who wanted to keep Silas from spilling the beans about Morgan cheating on his girlfriend, Kiki, with Kiki’s presumed aunt (really her secretly-back-from-the-dead mother). There was Franco, the former serial killer who actually confessed to the crime in order to protect Nina, Silas’ equally unstable ex-wife, freshly out of a 20-year coma. There was Nina’s new husband, Ric, who’d only married Nina for her money. And then there was Nina’s mother, Madeline. She and Ric were in cahoots to steal Nina’s trust fund.

Madeline needed Silas’ signature on some documents to carry out her insidious plan, so killing him really wasn’t very smart on her part.

In spite of that, Madeline nevertheless had a darn good reason for being the one to knock off Silas. Every other suspect was a contract player. Donna Mills is recurring.

In soap land, that’s the best reason of all.

Earlier last month, The Young and the Restless also tied up a convoluted murder mystery by revealing that Harding, a cop who maybe had a few lines to say every few episodes while arresting people or playing sounding board for the top cop, was responsible for the deaths of Austin and Courtney. He claimed he didn’t mean to kill them, and he was, in fact, working for the evil Marco, who was working for the equally evil Victor. But who do you think is going down for the crimes? Some glorified extra, or a pair of Daytime Emmy winners? Harding was shot and killed before he got the chance to point a finger at either Marco or Victor. (Not that Victor wouldn’t have found some way to blame every other person on the planet before he admitted he may have done a less than honorable thing. He is Victor! You got that?)

Poor Harding proved yet another victim of the “(Non-Contract Player) Did It” Syndrome.

In 1990, as One Life to Live was unraveling the “Who Killed Michael?” mystery, the victim and all the suspects posed for a Soap Opera Digest cover (see it here). OLTL‘s producers swore that the murderer would be one of these major players.

According to The One Life to Live 40th Anniversary Trivia Book, it was, in fact, supposed to be Brenda (the blonde sitting right next to him). Instead, the writers changed their minds after the issue had gone to press, and made the killer Roger, a man who’d gone into a coma prior to the murder. It seems that, offscreen, Roger woke up, rose from his hospital bed (muscle atrophy, what’s that?), shot Michael, then slipped back into his coma without any medical professional being the wiser. As Roger had already been off the canvas for months, him turning out to be Michael’s killer hardly affected the story much.

At least in 1992, when All My Children staged a similar cover shoot for Who Killed Will?, the eventually revealed killer was actually included. And, in a clever bit of staging, all of the other suspects were pointing at other people while Janet, the murder, was pointing at herself. And Kate Collins, the actress who played Janet, was even a contract player.

Except for one tiny detail: Collins played both Janet and her sister, Natalie. And at the time of Will’s murder, Janet was serving a prison sentence for having kidnapped Natalie, trapped her in a well, and taken over her sister’s life—down to marrying Natalie’s fiancé, Trevor, and becoming pregnant with his child. Natalie was the heroine, and Janet was the character viewers rarely saw now that her scheme had been uncovered. And Janet’s reason for knocking off Will was tenuous, at best. Janet had overheard Trevor worrying about Will’s abusive marriage to his beloved niece, Hayley. Janet killed Will to make Trevor happy. While she was supposed to be on bed rest at the hospital. With a police guard at the door. Just what kind of security do ABC soap opera hospitals have, anyway?

In 2003, when As the World Turns’ Rose was poisoned on her wedding day, she didn’t get a magazine cover, but she did get a special episode dedicated to a from-the-grave Rose reviewing all the suspects in her murder. The real killer turned out to be her fiancé Paul’s preteen brother, Will. Will thought that if Paul married Rose, Will would lose him, so he put poison in Rose’s mouthwash, meaning to just make her sick. As usual, Will wasn’t a contract player, and he hadn’t even been named as a suspect in the standalone episode.

ATWT defended their bait-and-switch by saying that Rose didn’t actually know who killed her, so she was guessing, and the possibility of it being little Will never crossed her mind.

As noted earlier, Days of Our Lives has just kicked off a major murder mystery for its 50th anniversary in November.

Do you think the killer will turn out to be a major player, or someone the audience barely knows? Tell us your thoughts below!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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