SoapOpera [[OlderThanTelevision that began on NBC radio]] on January 25, 1937. It moved to CBS radio in 1947, then to television in 1952. Originally ''The Guiding Light'', it was shortened to ''Guiding Light'' in 1975. In April 2009, it was announced that it would end its run in [[http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/TV/04/02/guiding.light.canceled/index.html September 2009]] and the show indeed ended on September 18, 2009 as scheduled -- after a mind-boggling 18,262 episodes.
The single most important thing about ''GuidingLight'' is this: '''''It may be the longest recorded narrative in the entire history of mankind'''''. It has produced a total of about 18 continuous months' worth of narrative material (both audio and video). That is, if you listened to/watched the show, from the beginning, 24 hours a day, it would take nearly a year and a half to get through it all; for comparison, if ''TheSimpsons'' wanted to break this record, it would still have to be producing new episodes in ''2062''. (The British soap ''CoronationStreet'' pronounces itself the world's longest-lasting soap on each of its major anniversaries, but it isn't even ''Britain's'' longest-lasting soap - that honour belongs to ''TheArchers'' - although it is the longest-lasting TV soap still in production... however, with just over 7000 episodes produced it has quite a way to go.)
However, this being a daytime SoapOpera, not all of this narrative material is known to exist. Not much survives from the radio years, or the first 25 years or so of its TV incarnation, and what does exist is in the form of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinescope kinescopes]] and [[MissingEpisode home video recordings]] (and vinyls, in the case of the radio years).
For a more detailed look at the show's run, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guiding_Light the Other Wiki has you covered.]]
!!This show provides examples of:
* ArchivePanic: We repeat: it is the ''longest running narrative in human history''.
* ArtifactTitle: The title referred to a lamp in the preacher's study during the radio years. Over time that plot point was dropped, but the title remained.
** The title later was retooled, however, to reference the town's lighthouse, which also was featured as part of the CreditsMontage for many years (and became a plot point in a number of episodes).
* BecomingTheMask: In the early 90s Blake began to seduce Ross to get revenge against her mother. However she found herself falling in love and eventually they wed.
* BettyAndVeronica: Some examples include Josh as the Archie, with Reva and Annie, and later Olivia filling the roles of Betty and Veronica.
** Many examples, some of the most famous include Holly as Archie, Ed as Betty and Roger as Veronica.
* TheCameo: Rudy Giuliani appeared as himself, while he was still mayor. (The show was filmed in [[BigApplesauce New York.]])
* ChuckCunninghamSyndrome: Claire Ramsey, Vicky Spaulding are both examples.
* CloningBlues: The only American soap to ever use a cloning storyline, complete with a [[PlotRelevantAgeUp serum to make her older.]] She died...horribly...[[CanonDiscontinuity and was never mentioned again, by anyone.]]
* ChronicVillainy: Reva had her moments.
* ADayInTheLimeLight: In later years, Wednesdays became "Character Days" where the episode focused around one character instead of standard [[SoapOpera soap]] rotation.
* DeadlyDistantFinale. The last few scenes of the show take place exactly a year after the rest of the episode: showing everyone's HappilyEverAfter. Except Edmund and Jeffrey, who are locked in a SternChase with NoEnding.
* EnfantTerrible: Cassie's youngest son, Will. He was deliberately cast with [[http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2089090/ Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick]], the child actor who played Damien in TheOmen remake for this purpose.
* FamilyRelationshipSwitcheroo: Philip is led to believe his biological parents are Alan and Elizabeth Spaulding. In actuality, they are Justin and Jackie Marler, his former step-parents. He finds out via Bradley, [[StarCrossedLovers his girlfriend Beth's]] [[AbusiveParents abusive stepfather.]]
* HeelFaceTurn: Many during the run, but a particular example is Alan Spaulding. Considered the BigBad for a bulk of the last two or so decades of the series, towards the home stretch, he seemed to soften, especially after having an operation to save Philip's life. Sadly, in the third to last episode, Philip would find Alan on a park bench, RedemptionEqualsDeath having come into play via a heart attack.
* HappilyEverAfter: The Finale does this with some [[LastMinuteHookup last second romantic entanglements.]]
* HookerWithAHeartOfGold: Selena Davis
* LargeHam: Kim Zimmer as Reva Shayne, and never more so than in one of the show's most [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=366qDdlKZsE#t=127s famous scenes]].
--> '''Reva:''' I BAPTIZE MYSELF THE SLUT OF SPRINGFIELD!
* LesYay: Olivia & Natalia; started out fighting over Natalia's ex Gus, who ended up dying in a car wreck around the same time Olivia had a heart attack. Put Gus's heart in Olivia's chest, add Natalia's determination to keep a near-suicidal Olivia alive (she wanted to die so as to spite her) so in a way she could keep Gus alive, mix in an undercurrent of respect, let it blossom and you wind up with what many consider to be one of the best same-sex romances of all time.
** However, with the exception of one instance prior to their relationship where Olivia kissed Natalia to prove a point, CBS would not allow any true on screen kiss between the two, causing accusations of homophobia towards the network.
* LighthousePoint: Springfield has a lighthouse that features in the opening credits at various times throughout the years, is important in a number of episodes (including at least one milestone episode), and is what the show's name was retconned into referring to. Why it has one when the real Springfield, Illinois is nowhere near a large body of water (save the man-made Lake Springfield) is a riddle for the ages ([[TheMountainsOfIllinois is there an ocean of Illinois to go with the mountains?]]), although it may be that the fictional Springfield is meant to be a suburb of Chicago and is thus on the shore of Lake Michigan.
* LongRunner: Nearly '''Seventy-three''' years! As we keep mentioning, it's the ''longest running narrative in human history''.
* MayDecemberRomance: Alan and Hope, HB and Reva, Roger and Dinah, Ross and Blake, Matt and Vanessa
* PutOnABus: Rita Stapleton.
* RapeAndRevenge: Holly shot Roger in the chest three times after he raped her.
* SeriesContinuityError: Inevitable. The series ran for four full ''human generations'' of writers; no one man could ever keep decades of ''literally'' ceaseless continuity straight (the show existed before ''archiving'' was easy) and there were mistakes at times.
** Could sometimes branch into TheyJustDidntCare, as the show once gave Alan Michael flashbacks of his childhood in the Spaulding mansion, - even though he was introduced as an eighteen-year-old man crashing a party to ''introduce'' himself to Alan.
* SiblingYinYang: Mild-mannered, dutiful Josh and his rowdy good ol' boy older brother Billy.
* SoapOpera: To this day, the copyrights and trademarks to the show's characters are ''still'' owned by Proctor & Gamble
** To ridiculous extents. One character was [=SORASed=] so she was twelve years older than her ''older brother''.
** Phillip Spaulding is an infamous example, he went from twelve years old to about seventeen years in a matter of months.
--> '''Lizzie Spaulding:''' Love isn't a sure thing. Granddad, on the other hand, is right up there with death and taxes.
* ToiletSeatDivorce: Many have taken place in Springfield, but Josh and Reva are notable for doing this ''a lot''.
* WhereTheHellIsSpringfield: The show is actually set in a town named Springfield. It was originally of this trope, but then decided it was Springfield, Illinois.
* WickedCultured: Roger Thorpe.