It wouldn’t be a soap opera without several character deaths a year. These on-screen deaths are usually the result of an actor ending their contract, a dramatic turn of events, or most typically, murder by the show’s villain or most recent serial killer.
While dozens of characters are killed off soaps every season, some character deaths hit the viewers harder than others. Whether it be due to the shock of the death, the unexpected cause, or simply the astounding love for the character, there are some soap deaths that fans will never get over.
B.J. Jones (‘General Hospital’)
B.J. Jones was the daughter of Tony Jones and the adoptive daughter of Bobbie Spencer, born in 1986 and portrayed by Brighton Hertford for five years on General Hospital.
In what’s gone down in soap opera history as one of the most tragic episodes of GH, B.J. was the victim of a bus accident that resulted in the character being comatose and unlikely to awaken. While traumatic, B.J.’s death was given a higher purpose when she could donate her heart to her cousin Maxie, who was dying from heart failure.
Abigail Deveraux (‘Days Of Our Lives’)
Abigail Deveraux was the sweet and spunky daughter of Days of Our Lives supercouple Jack and Jennifer. The character was first played by Pretty Little Liars star Ashley Benson, and later played by Kate Mansi and Marci Miller off and on from 2010 until 2022.
Abigail’s death was sudden and shocking when the character was found stabbed to death, leaving her grieving husband, Chad DiMera, desperate to revive her. The character’s death was the center of a who-dun-it storyline, with several potential Salemites being considered the murderer.
Neil Winters (‘Young And The Restless’)
Actor Kristoff St. John portrayed Neil Winters on CBS’ Young and the Restless for 28 years, surrounded by Genoa City vets like Victor Newman, Jack Abbott, Katherine Chancellor, and Neil’s children Lily Ashby and Devon Hamilton.
In 2019, St. John passed unexpectedly from heart disease. The devastating death allowed Y&R to say goodbye to the character Neil while cast members paid tribute to St. John in an episode dedicated to the actor.
Stephanie Forrester (‘Bold And The Beautiful’)
When actress Susan Flannery decided to leave Bold and the Beautiful after 25 years, the Forrester family matriarch’s final storyline ended with Stephanie dying from lung cancer.
In an episode that left both the characters and viewers in tears, Stephanie asked Brooke to sing her to sleep in her arms lakeside at Big Bear Cabin, where she peacefully passed.
Bo Brady (‘Days Of Our Lives’)
Bo Brady was most notably played by Peter Reckell off and on from 1983 until 2016, part of Days of Our Lives’ biggest supercouple Bo and Hope and the son of DOOL vets Victor Kiriakis and Caroline Brady.
After Bo had to leave Salem to help care for his mother, Reckell finally returned to the soap three years later after being captured while trying to find evidence that would send Stefano to prison. But Bo’s homecoming was short-lived when he revealed to Hope he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor, enjoying one last night with her before dying in her arms.
Nathan West (‘General Hospital’)
Nathan West was portrayed by hunky Hallmark Channel star Ryan Paevey, coupled with Kirsten Storms’ Maxie for the majority of his soap stint until the character’s shocking death in 2018.
In an attempt to save Maxie, Nathan was shot by GH supervillain Cesar Faison – who, in typical soap opera fashion, turned out to be Nathan’s father – landing him in the hospital long enough to tell Maxie he loved her before flatlining right in front of her.
Cassie Newman (‘Young And The Restless’)
Camryn Grimes spent a decade on Young and the Restless as Cassie Newman, Sharon’s daughter, and Nick’s adoptive daughter. But the lovable young character’s story ended in devastation in 2005.
At only 14, Cassie attempted to drive her drunken crush home from a party, inevitably crashing the car and later dying in the hospital in one of the saddest and most memorable episodes of Y&R.
Hope Manning-Thornhart (‘One Life To Live’)
Out of all the character deaths in One Life To Live’s four decades on ABC, it’s the one that happened on General Hospital that still has fans reeling to this day.
Hope Manning-Thornhart was the daughter of teenage parents Starr Manning and Cole Thornhart and joined her parents from Llanview to Port Charles after OLTL’s cancellation in 2011. But the storyline took a traumatic turn when the family got in a car crash that killed not only Cole but also a 3-year-old Hope, much to the viewers’ shock and upset.
Katherine Chancellor (‘Young And The Restless’)
Katherine Chancellor was played by Jeanne Cooper for 40 years, acting as the matriarch of Young and the Restless and a character that was (mostly) loved by all on-screen and loved by all off-screen.
In 2013, Cooper passed away shortly after Y&R’s 40th anniversary, leading to the soap airing an episode in tribute to Cooper before finally revealing Katherine’s death later that summer.
Luke Spencer (‘General Hospital’)
When it comes to soap opera legends, Anthony Geary’s Luke Spencer just about tops the list. From his iconic 1983 wedding to Laura to saving the world from the Ice Princess, Luke is a character that it’s hard to imagine Port Charles without.
Despite Geary’s retirement in 2015, Luke was last seen on-screen in 2017 as part of Jane Elliott’s final episode, where the two presumably rekindled their romance. But in 2022, it was announced to all of Port Charles that Luke had died in a cable car accident caused by Victor Cassadine, and only time will tell if this character’s death is true or a hoax.