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'I can't feel my legs!': 10 cases of soap-opera paralysis

Last week on Days of Our Lives, after a tumble down the stairs (the leading cause of soap-opera miscarriages), Maggie woke up in the hospital to utter the time-honored phrase, “I can’t feel my legs!” (Tumbling down the stairs is the second leading cause of soap-opera paralysis.)

Naturally, Maggie was devastated by this turn of events. But you’d think the woman who was first introduced as a crippled farm girl who was eventually cured of her condition by love (well, okay, surgery was also involved … but it was mostly love) would be the first to realize that on soaps, paralysis is rarely permanent.

See below for some of daytime’s most famous medical cases—and how they turned out.

General Hospital

See Sonny get shot (again). See Sonny wake up paralyzed. See Sonny brood (again). See Sonny continue faking his paralysis even after he recovers. See Sonny be a lying liar who lies (again). See Sonny put his family through hell (again). See Sonny rise triumphantly from his wheelchair to save the day (again). See Port Charles continue to worship its murderous mob boss (always).

Compare this to the 1987 GH story where Bobbie, paralyzed due to being injected with a deadly toxin by an evil DVX agent (the third leading cause of … you know), was helped along in her recovery by a no-nonsense, non-brooding physical therapist named Martha, played by quadriplegic actress Nancy Becker Kennedy. While Bobbie did eventually regain the use of her legs, Martha’s reward for her support and friendship was to be diagnosed with pneumonia and be shipped out of town, leaving her kids (one of whom was played by Ami Dolenz, daughter of Monkee and As the World Turns guest star Mickey) to be temporarily raised by Bobbie. So maybe that wasn’t a very good example after all.

The Young and the Restless

Jack has been paralyzed twice, and recovered twice, after being shot by his ex-wife, Patty … twice. Jack should learn to duck. Or stop aggravating Patty.

The Bold and the Beautiful

When you date a man’s daughter and then, because she won’t sleep with you, sleep with her mother, you have to expect said daughter’s father and said mother’s ex-husband to be a little peeved with you. Granted, throwing you off a building is a bit extreme, but considering Rick and Ridge’s history, maybe Rick should have expected it. Rick recovered from his paralysis. His relationship with his brother/ex-stepfather, Ridge, is still in critical condition.

Guiding Light

Josh was so upset that his on-again, off-again love Reva had married Josh’s father (this was after she married and divorced Josh’s brother) that he crashed his car and ended up paralyzed. Josh’s bitterness and blaming Reva for his condition eventually led to the classic “Slut of Springfield” striptease in a fountain that won actress Kim Zimmer the first of her many Emmys. Meanwhile, Josh got a pep-talk from Bert, who had recently had her leg amputated, as had the actress who played her, Charita Bauer. Josh regained the use of his legs in time to go chasing after Reva for the next 30 years. Bert—and Bauer—both learned to walk with a prosthesis.

All My Children

When Greg was paralyzed from a fall, he decided to do the noble thing and encourage his true love, Jenny, to move on with her life without him, go to New York, and become a model. Did Jenny get a say in this decision? No, she did not. For she was just a girl and did not know what was best for her. In NYC, Jenny became engaged to Tony. But then Greg recovered and came running after her. Jenny broke it off with Tony and married Greg. Tony killed Jenny on her honeymoon via Jet Ski. And if you think about it, it was all Greg’s fault for pushing Jenny away in the first place.


Mobster Paul was caught in a warehouse explosion and became paralyzed. His girlfriend, Ava, stood by him, even having a very frank and adult discussion with Paul’s doctor about whether/how he could ever have sex again. Ava and Paul were all set to get married when Ava’s sister, Carly, announced that she’d had a son with Paul in high school and given the baby up for adoption. Carly and Paul found their son, who, in classic soap-opera fashion, had been adopted by people who apparently didn’t want a child (why would anybody do this?) and treated him badly. He was happy to reunite with his parents, who, in turn, reunited with each other and moved out of town. And that’s what reformed villain Ava gets for being supportive.

As the World Turns

There would be no miraculous recovery or romantic reunion for Casey, paralyzed due to encephalitis. Wanting to die with dignity, he asked his stepdaughter, Margo, to pull the plug. Margo did, which caused great conflict in her relationship with her mother, Lyla, and even criminal charges for Margo—until a tape recording proved those had been Casey’s last wishes. Lyla told Casey’s grave that she wished he’d asked her to help him die, then forgave her daughter (while still not condoning her actions). The story was tragic and beautifully played out, and I have nothing snarky to say about it whatsoever.

Another World/Port Charles

When Byron first popped up in Bay City, he was already paralyzed, and played by model Mitch Longley, who’d been a paraplegic since the age of 17. Due to the actor being in a wheelchair, there was little chance of Byron ever recovering. There was also little chance of him ever having a major storyline, and Longley left AW after a year. He later popped up on Port Charles as Matt. Matt was an intern who had an affair with his supervisor. Then he walked with the help of some new technology. Then he went into Witness Protection.

Got a favorite soap paralysis story? Tell us 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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