As with any long-running soap opera, there's Loads and Loads of Characters, so this will try to only include fairly significant ones. In order to not make this a massive info dump, we've split it up into folders based on when the character first appeared on the show. For characters that were born on the show, they'll be included in the folder where they first became non-child recurring characters, and were actually teens or older and part of the plot.
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Alice Grayson Horton
Played by: Frances Reid (1965-2007)The matriarch of the Horton family (and, really, Salem in general), Alice and her portrayer Frances Reid was one of the few mainstays of the series, appearing from the premiere until Christmas 2007 when Reid became too ill to appear anymore. A wise and loving woman, her death in June 2010 (coinciding with that of Reid) was the end of an era both for Days and the soap opera world in general.She left behind children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren...almost all of whom have been the recipient of some of her patented Horton advice-and-doughnuts at some point or another.
Dr. Thomas "Tom" Horton Sr.
Played by: MacDonald Carey (1965-94)Alice's loving husband until his death in 1994, coinciding with Carey's. Essentially take everything that Alice was, make it male, and you have Tom. Infinitely wise, patient and paternal, Tom was the Chief of Staff of University Hospital where he was always on-hand to advise the younger doctors or anyone who happened to pass through the doors.
->"Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives..."
Dr. Thomas "Tommy" Horton Jr.
Played by: John Lupton (1967-72/1975-79/1980)Tom and Alice's eldest son. He began the series as missing and presumed dead from the Korean War, but eventually returned with amnesia. And really didn't do much of anything. And now he pretty much doesn't exist and everyone pretends Tom and Alice had four kids.
Adelaide "Addie" Horton Olson/Williams
Played by: Patricia Huston (1965-66), Patricia Barry (1971-74)Tom and Alice's eldest daughter and Tommy's twin sister, she actually spent very little time on the show actually alive, and is primarily remembered nowadays as being the deceased mother of current characters Julie and Hope. And for having her younger daughter with her elder daughter's love interest.
Michael "Mickey" Horton Sr.
Played by: John Clarke (1965-2004), John Ingle (2004-06), Kevin Dobson (2008)Tom and Alice's middle son. Like Alice, Michael was on the show pretty much forever, and like Alice he was killed off in 2010. Mickey was an attorney and the golden boy and good son of the Hortons. Most famously and long-lastingly played by John Clarke, upon Clarke's retirement they had difficulty recasting him and finally just had him die offscreen so they could move his wife onto other stories and stop awkwardly pretending he was in the other room or away on business.Though his first big pairing was with Laura, with whom he was in a decade-long triangle with his younger brother Bill, Mickey is far more famously known for his later pairing with Maggie, which lasted over three decades.
Dr. William "Bill" Horton
Played by: Paul Carr (1965-66), Edward Mallory (1966-80/1991-92), Christopher Stone (1987-88/1994-95), John Martin (2010)Tom and Alice's youngest son. He began the series as a med student and grew to be a successful doctor, spending much of his career fighting AIDS in Africa, where he remains to this day. Bill has always been the troubled Horton son, and has a tendency to do things that on paper would make him sound like total Jerkass. But for the most part, he means well. Though he's only appeared in occasional guest spots since the 80s, Bill remains a prominent part of the landscape by being the father of Mike, Jennifer, and Lucas, all three of whom arguably went on to become more prominent Days characters than Bill himself.
Julie Olson Williams
Played by: Charla Doherty (1965-67), Catherine Dunn (1967), Catherine Ferrar (1967-68), Susan Seaforth Hayes (1968-84/1990-95/1999-)Tom and Alice's eldest grandchild, Addie's eldest daughter, and Salem's original It-Girl. In Salem's ling history, she's grown from a teenage girl to a woman approaching senior citizenship and has even graced the cover of Time Magazine
Margaret "Maggie" Simmons Horton
Played by: Suzanne Rogers (1973-84/1985-2003/2004-)Mickey's wife and recent widow. Began the show as a young naive farm girl and has grown to become the beloved matriarch of Salem following Alice's death.
Dr. Marlena Evans Brady/Black
Played by: Deidre Hall (1976-87, 1991-2009, 2011-)
Roman Augustus Brady
Played by: Wayne Northrop (1981-84/1991-94), Josh Taylor (1997-2004/2005-)The first member of the Brady clan that would essentially take over the show in the 1980s, a hard-nose no-nonsense police officer. Most famous for his love story with Marlena in the early '80s, basically his entire identity would eventually be stolen by John Black.
Beauregard Aurelius "Bo" Brady
Played by: Peter Reckell (1983-87/1990-92/1995-), Robert Kelker-Kelly (1992-95)Roman's younger brother, Bo showed up as a leather-wearing no good hoodlum who was always getting in trouble but had a heart of gold. He eventually became a police officer, husband and father and over the years, Bo has grown to become the de-facto main male character of Days of our Lives.
Hope Alice Williams Brady
Played by: Various Child Actresses (1974-83), Kristian Alfonso (1983-87/1990/1994-)The daughter of Doug Williams and Addie Horton. A spoiled princess turned police officer, and one half of supercouple Bo and Hope. One of Days' biggest heroines.
Played by: Joseph Mascolo (1982-85, 1988, 1993-2001, 2007-08, 2008-)Known as "The Phoenix", Stefano is the arch-villain of Days and patriarch of the DiMeras, an Italian mafia family with a long-standing vendetta against the Bradys.
Abraham Washington "Abe" Carver
Played by: James Reynolds (1981-90, 1991-2003, 2004-)The longest-running African-American character on television, Abe's initial role on the series was as Roman's token black best friend and partner, but he eventually grew into Commander and then Commissioner of the Salem Police Force, making him the de-facto leader of the good guys. Though he's married to Stefano DiMera's daughter, Abe is perhaps one of the most honorable and decent characters in the series. He recently resigned as Commissioner of the Police Force and successfully ran for Mayor of Salem, a position he holds today.
Jennifer Rose Horton Deveraux
Played by: Melissa Reeves (1985-95/2000-06/2010-), Stephanie Cameron (1995-98)The daughter of Bill and Laura Horton, and one of Days' biggest heroines.
Played by: Drake Hogestyn (1986-2007, 2008-09, 2011-)Also known as Ryan DiMera, Forrest Alamain, Roman Brady, and the Pawn. John's backstory has been constantly reinvented. John showed up in Salem with amnesia and was believed by everyone for years (for some reason that made sense at the time) to be the presumed dead Roman Brady with plastic surgery. When the real Roman was discovered alive, it was accepted that John was really someone else...and it took them like forever to figure out who. The current accepted story is that he's Stefano's younger-half brother, the product of an affair between Santo DiMera and Colleen Brady, which began the Brady/DiMera rivalry.
Steven Earl "Patch" Johnson
Played by: Stephen Nichols (1985-90, 2006-09)Best friend/former rival of Bo Brady's. A badass leather-jacket wearing hooligan with one eye (knifed out by Bo). Though he was a villain at first, he became a good guy fairly early on and even became the good counterpart to his darker younger brother. He controversially returned to life sixteen years after being killed off.
Jack Harcourt Deveraux
Played by: Joseph Adams (1987), James Acheson (1987), Matthew Ashford (1987-93/2001-03/2004-06/2007/2011-), Mark Valley (1994-97), Steve Wilder (1997-98)Born Billy Johnson, Jack is the long-lost younger brother of Steve Johnson, adopted by the wealthy Harper Deveraux and raised in wealth and extravagance, turned him into an arrogant manipulative prick. Though he was a despised villain in his earlier years, he ultimately became one of Days' most popular heroes.
Played by: John Aniston (1985-97, 1998-2004, 2004-)Greek business tycoon and occasional crimelord, Victor is the biological father of Bo Brady. Though originally just a Greek version of Stefano, the character eventually became slightly redeemed in his old age to be less of a villain and more just a jerk.
Played by: Crystal Chappell (1990-93, 2009-11)
Played by: Louise Sorel (1992-2000, 2009-11)
Played by: Patrick Muldoon (1992-95/2011-), Austin Peck (1995-2002/2005-06)
Played by: Lisa Rinna (1992-95/2002-03), Krista Allen (1996-99), Julie Pinson (2004-08)
Caroline Anna "Carrie" Brady Reed
Played by: Andrea Barber (1982-86), Christie Clark (1986-91/1992-99/2005-06), Tracy Middendorf (1992)
Samantha Gene "Sami" Brady
Played by: Various Child Actresses (1984-92), Alison Sweeney (1993-)
Lucas Desmond Horton
Played by: Bryan Dattilo (1993-2001, 2002-11)
Katherine Elizabeth "Kate" Roberts DiMera
Played by: Deborah Adair (1993-95), Lauren Koslow (1996-)
Played by: Eileen Davidson (1993-98)
Played by: Various Child Actors (1984-92), Jensen Ackles (1997-2000)
Nicole Walker DiMera
Played by: Arianne Zucker (1998-2006, 2008-)
Greta Von Amburg
Played by: Julianne Morris (1998-2002)
Belle Black Brady
Played by: Various Child Actresses (1993-99), Kirsten Storms (1999-2004), Charity Rahmer (2004), Martha Madison (2004-08)
Played by: Various Child Actors (1987/1990-99), Jason Cook (1999-2006), Brandon Beemer (2006-08)
Philip Robert Kiriakis
Played by: Various Child Actors (1995-99), Brandon Tyler (1999), Jay Kenneth Johnson (1999-2002/2007-11), Kyle Brandt (2003-06)
Played by: Nadia Bjorlin (1999-2003, 2004-05, 2007-11)
Brady Victor Black
Played by: Various Child Actors (1992-99), Kyle Lowder (2000-05), Eric Martsolf (2008-)
Played by: Mandy Musgrave (2004-05), Rachel Melvin (2005-09)
Elvis Aron "E.J." DiMera
Played by: Various Child Actors (1997-98), James Scott (2006-)
William Robert "Will" Horton
Played by: Shawn & Taylor Carpenter (1995-2002), Darian Weiss (2002-03), Christopher Gerse (2003-07), Dylan Patton (2009-10), Chandler Massey (2010-)