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Top 10 soap-opera tiny terrors

Let’s cut General Hospital‘s tiny terror Jake some slack. It’s not easy coming back from the dead. Especially when you “died” as a cherubic preschooler and are now an angsty tween … who was held prisoner for years by a psychotic (though well-dressed) villainess known for her tendency to brainwash.

And the guy who rescued you, the one you thought was your dad, takes off with some vague excuse about “keeping the darkness at bay” and whatnot. Then you find out another guy, the one who once shared your name—prompting everyone to call you Little Jake (how demeaning!—is really your dad. Except he and your mom aren’t together anymore, and he’s inching closer to his ex, the mother of his other son. The one who’s still a cherubic preschooler (see photo above).

Anyone would go a little batty after all that. So if Jake is the one making it look like their family is being stalked in order to push his mom and dad back together, who would blame him? The kid definitively needs some therapy. (Though it’s questionable whether ex-serial-killer-turned-art-therapist Franco, the one who was once obsessed with Jake’s mob-enforcer dad, is exactly the right person for the job.)

Alas, poor, traumatized Jake isn’t the only tiny terror currently living in Port Charles. There is also Spencer—who, save a kidnapping or two, up until his recent Phantom of the Opera–style face-burning incident, had led a pretty charmed life. (Okay, his mom died when he was an infant and didn’t come back from the dead. But in the grand scheme of soap-opera kid tragedies, that one barely rates.) Nonetheless, in addition to his precocious vocabulary, Spencer also boasts a precocious rap sheet. At only 10 years old, he has already tampered with a local election by stealing a ballot box, broke into his father’s safe to snag a family heirloom ring, and dropped sandbags onto the stage where his (also 10-year-old) “romantic rival” was performing a tango with the girl Spencer wanted for himself.

But lest your think Port Charles is exclusively populated by bad boys, meet Josslyn. Cancer that led to a kidney transplant as a tot is no excuse for such later acts as locking her babysitter in the attic, trying to smash in a man’s brains with a crowbar, general scheming with Spencer, and lots of standing around, looking very Bad Seed–ish. On the other hand, Joss seems to be one of the few people in town who realizes that her mother’s on-again/off-again husband, Sonny the mobster, is a horrible person. Takes one to know one?

Meanwhile, over on The Young and the Restless, there’s a tiny terror in the making as Max blames stepmother Abby for his mother’s recent death. As opposed to blaming his mother for driving and talking on her phone at the same time (let this be your PSA, kids!). Abby thinks she can smooth over the situation by getting Max a sneak preview of a new video game. Abby is wrong.

Will Max eventually stop sulking, or will his whining escalate into GH kids’ territory? Let’s check out the trajectories of some previous soap-opera tiny terrors, in ascending order of sociopath, to see if they might offer a clue:

One Life to Live

Starr and Jack were the children of schemer Blair and rapist Todd. So their DNA wasn’t great to begin with. Throw in mental patient Grandma Addie, child molester Grandpa Victor, and international baddie Grandma Irene, and that gene pool is really looking murky. Still, other soap kids have managed to overcome more. Starr didn’t necessarily have to become a manipulative brat who once explained that her only reason for not stealing a car was because she was too small to reach the pedals. And Jack wasn’t obliged to turn into a cyberbully and firestarter. They made those choices themselves.

As the World Turns

Paul went from sweet little boy to a spoiled tween (who pretended his mother’s boyfriend hit him in order to break them up) to a teen who slept with his father’s barely legal girlfriend, then shot him. Paul’s half-brother, Will, proved even more of a Junior Achiever when, while still in middle school, he killed Paul’s girlfriend out of the blue by poisoning her mouthwash, then ended up in a mental hospital.

The Bold and the Beautiful

Rick didn’t like his mother’s boyfriend (like ATWT‘s Paul!). So Rick shot him (not like ATWT‘s Paul). Rick then blocked out the incident and let his brother/periodic stepfather, Ridge, take the blame. Rick grew up into a self-absorbed, entitled man whose love and support of the transgender Maya is still not enough to make up for what asses they both were before the big reveal.

Guiding Light

When you cast the kid from The Omen remake and he makes his debut in a Halloween episode wherein he appears to kill his father, you know this isn’t going to be your typical soap-opera moppet. Will was unhappy that his biological father took him away from his adoptive mother so that Will could be the prince of a small, vaguely Hispanic (although with no actual Hispanics) island nation. So first, he pushed Daddy Dearest into an electric fence. Then, to make sure Mommy loved him again (him and no one else), he framed his brother for a variety of petty crimes; shoved his uncle off a balcony and into a coma (said uncle was kind of responsible for encouraging the kid’s psychotic tendencies, so a bit of fair turnabout there); and basically tried to kill every adult he viewed as a threat. Will was finally sent to a juvenile corrections facility where, unlike ATWT‘s Will, he never got the chance to leave prior to the show’s cancellation.

Do you have a favorite soap-opera tiny terror? Tell us below, along with your predictions about GH’s Jake and Y&R‘s Max!