Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times
Years on TV: 1963-
Noteworthy actors: James Franco's (pictured) portrayal of a creepy performance artist named (what else?) Franco has gotten lots of recent press, but the cast over the years has also included "Jessie's Girl" singer Rick Springfield and actress Amber Tamblyn. "Star Trek's" Leonard Nimoy was in the series' early episodes.
Noteworthy characters: Possibly the most famous soap opera lovebirds of all time: Luke and Laura Spencer (Anthony Geary and Genie Francis)
The plot: What started as a story about a nurse named Jessie (Emily McLaughlin) who worked with good-looking do-gooder Dr. Steve Hardy (John Beradino) and was trapped in a troublesome marriage has included several romantic trysts, broken marriages and backstabbing before soap opera super couple Luke and Laura Spencer tied the knot in 1981. The show has also conquered serious issues like HIV and AIDS.