Join or Sign In

Sign in to customize your TV listings

Continue with Facebook Continue with email

By joining TV Guide, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

See the best guilty pleasures ever to grace the prime time landscape

Shaun Harrison
primetime-soaps-90210-1.jpg
1 of 18 The Kobal Collection

Beverly Hills, 90210 and 90210 (1990-2000, 2008-present)

Long before Annie, Dixon and rest of the gang were breaking the rules at West Bev High in the CW spin-off, Brenda, Brendan and Dylan made 90210 the hottest zip code on TV. Despite its high school origins, Beverly Hills, 90210 lived way past its graduation date, thanks to years of back-stabbing and bed-hopping — well, except for David and Donna, who (almost) waited until they got married in the series finale.
2 of 18 Fox/The Kobal Collection

Melrose Place (1992-1999, 2009-2010)

This Beverly Hills, 90210 spin-off introduced us to a slightly older group of Angelenos, struggling to make their way in the big city, including Jake the handyman, ad execs Allison and Billy and unhappily marrieds Michael and Jane. Heather Locklear showed up in the middle of Season 1 to rescue the show from cancellation. Her charms did not have the same effect on the short-lived CW remake.
3 of 18 Columbia Tristar/Everett Collection

Pasadena (2001-2002)

Dana Delany (Desperate Housewives) played matriarch Catherine McAllister in this short-lived nighttime soap about a shady family with plenty of skeletons in its closet. Martin Donovan, Mark Valley and Alison Lohman co-starred.
4 of 18 CBS/Landov

Falcon Crest (1981-1990)

Set in the California wine industry and conceived as a companion series to Dallas, Falcon Crest starred Hollywood grande dame Jane Wyman as the matriarch of a corrupt family. The show was a Top 20 staples for most of its run.
5 of 18 ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images

Dynasty (1981-1989)

Robert Forsythe, as Blake Carrington, a wealthy Denver oil mogul, weathered the cat-fighting storm created by his wife Krystle (Linda Evans) and his scheming ex Alexis (Joan Collins), the prototype for every primetime-soap hellcat who followed.
6 of 18 Andrew Eccles/The CW

One Tree Hill (2003-present)

Originally conceived as the story of half-brothers Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray) and Nathan Scott (James Lafferty), the series morphed over the seasons from high school-based teen drama to young adult soap, with the help of a five-year flash-forward after Season 4. After the sixth season, Lucas and Peyton (Hilarie Burton), the show's central couple, departed, paving the way for a younger generation of Tree Hill residents.
7 of 18 CBS/Landov

Dallas (1978-1991)

J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman), a Texas oil baron, headed up the cast of this dastardly soap. Its entry in the TV lexicon came courtesy of two interesting plot twists. First, at the end of Season 2, an unseen gunman shoots J.R., spawning T-shirts with the slogan "Who Shot J.R.?" Then, at the end of Season 8, Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy), who had died at the end of Season 7, emerges from the shower, essentially nullifying all the events of the previous season.
8 of 18 CBS/Landov

Knots Landing (1979-1993)

This Dallas spin-off was meant to be an examination of a quartet of American marriages in a fictional Los Angeles suburb. Its soapy predecessor, though, inspired increasingly melodramatic story lines, including drug smuggling, rape, kidnapping and assassination.
9 of 18 Dawson's Creek

Dawson's Creek (1998-2003)

Girl loves boy. Girl is invisible to boy compared to hot new girl in town. Boy finally opens his eyes and becomes madly in love with girl for six years. Although he didn't end up winning Joey Potter in the end, Dawson Leary and his fast-talking, wise-beyond-their-years friends at Cape Town High heralded a new generation of teen prime-time dramas such as Felicity and One Tree Hill.
10 of 18 Eric McCandless/ABC

Desperate Housewives (2004-present)

The drama started things off with a bang in 2004 and ever since that first whodunit mystery, Wisteria Lane has always been an intriguing place. After six seasons, the ladies of Fairview have kept fans on their toes thanks to a five-year jump in storytelling and the series' frequent natural disaster episodes that have a way of resetting the show over and over.
11 of 18 Miranda Penn Turin/ABC

Brothers & Sisters (2006-present)

Following the death of patriarch William Walker and his exposed double life, viewers have tuned in week after week to see Nora Walker and her family dive headfirst into each other's personal and professional business while also unraveling hidden family secrets such as William's other children.
12 of 18 Fox

The O.C. (2003-2007)

The tale of a boy from the other side of the tracks (Chino, ew) trying to start over in Newport Beach lasted only four seasons, but that's because Season 1 crammed in half a decade's worth of storylines. In Marissa's first year, she popped pills in Mexico, shoplifted at Christmas, lost a boyfriend to her mom and had a stalker. (Oh, Oliver!)
13 of 18 Giovanni Rufino/The CW

Gossip Girl (2007-present)

"You know you love me" is a fitting tagline for a show where, in three short years, all the main characters have already slept with each other. Promiscuity aside, the show stands out because of its great fashion and stylized depiction of affluent young New Yorkers.
14 of 18 Everett Collection

Titans (2000-2001)

Central to this short-lived nighttime soap was a love triangle among Heather (Yasmeen Bleeth), Richard (Perry King) and his son Chandler (Casper Van Dien). Richard's ex-wife Gwen (Victoria Principal) seethed from her mansion across the street. NBC canceled the show after 11 episodes.
15 of 18 The Kobal Collection

Models Inc. (1994-1995)

Hilary Michaels (Linda Gray), the mother of Melrose Place's Amanda Woodward, is the doyenne of the titular Los Angeles modeling agency. A last-ditch effort to save the show added Dynasty's Emma Samms the cast, but it was canceled anyway.
16 of 18 ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images

The Colbys (1985-1987)

Blake and Alexis' daughter Fallon (Emma Samms) led this Dynasty spin-off that co-starred Hollywood legends Charlton Heston and Barbara Stanwyck. Low ratings led to its ultimate cancellation, but not before Fallon appears to be abducted by aliens in the series finale.
17 of 18 Everett Collection

North Shore (2004-2005)

A grand hotel in Hawaii sets the scene for a campy primetime soap starring Jason Momoa, Kristoffer Polaha and Brooke Burns. Shannen Doherty arrives in the 11th episode as the illegitimate daughter of the hotel's owner, bent on taking over.
18 of 18 Warner Bros./Everett Collection

Summerland (2004-2005)

Ava Gregory (Lori Loughlin) raises her niece and nephews with two friends in a California beach house after her sister and brother-in-law die in a car accident. Teen stars Jesse McCartney and Zac Efron had small parts on the show.