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Famous long-runningSoap Opera on TV which first began airing in 1956 and finally ended in 2010. It takes place in the fictional town of Oakdale, Illinois. It mainly focuses on the Snyder and the Hughes families. Groundbreaking in that it featured the first American daytime male same-sex kiss and gay supercouple.
The Alcoholic: Carly (like her father). This was played surprisingly realistically, being developed over time, with viewers noticing that she started to drink more and more as her life started becoming more stressful and it causing problems for her family. She was Put on a Bus to rehab for a while and didn't magically get better.
Luke Snyder was also an alcoholic, and also never magically got better, although he did stop drinking eventually, his alcoholism continued to be mentioned until the end of the show.
In Luke's case, it's debatable. Some believe he fit the markers of a binge drinker but not a full-out alcoholic.
American Accents: The media often has explicitly Texan characters speak in an accent that an actual Texan is unlikely to have. Reid doesn't have this accent, but it's never been confirmed that Reid was raised in Texas, only that he lived and worked there. The fandom seems to have decided that Reid is from Boston, where his uncle lives. Reid also went to Harvard, which is in Massachusetts; depending on how long he was there, that could have shaped his current accent.
Jennifer Landon's Gwen was supposed to be a one episode character. She impressed producers so much that she was signed to a long-term contract, and went on to win three consecutive Daytime Emmys.
Back from the Dead: James Stenbeck does this a lot. For the last few years, the actor who played him lived in Argentina and he would come back every so often. He was eventually Killed Off for Real.
Soaps are notorious for this, if there's no body, the person most likely will be this. During James' funeral, Barbara was happy to be sure his actual body was there.
Batman Gambit: Often used to explain how somebody came back from the dead.
Belligerent Sexual Tension: Luke and Reid. At first they couldn't stand each other, but when they became friendlier to one another, they continually crossed back and forth over the line between bickering and flirting.
Black Comedy Rape/Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male/Rape as Drama: When a crazed Julia kidnapped her ex-husband Jack, held him prisoner, and eventually forced him to have sex with her (she wanted to get pregnant to replace the baby she's miscarried), the scenes were initially played as dark comedy, something that would never have happened had the genders been reversed. However, the scenes took a much uglier tone when she tried to kill him afterwards, and when he later revealed what had happened to his fiancee, she reacted with horror and sympathy and never once blamed him or insinuated that he was a willing participant.
When Vienna does this to Henry, it's Played for Laughs. There was also a storyline where Katie wanted a child (but Brad didn't at the time) so she started poking holes in condoms and lying about wearing a diaphragm.
Averted with Luke (who is gay) when Zoe tried to rape him to have a child.
But Not Too Gay: Noah and Luke actually had a fan instituted countdown in between their kisses. They went 211 days in between two kisses and it took them 514 days from their first meeting to get their first love scene (which was very tame compared to the other couples). This is unusual, particularly in the Soap Opera media where romance and love scenes happen frequently.
Closet Key: Luke to Noah. Luke's crush on Kevin made him realize he was gay.
Coming-Out Story: Luke at 16. His love interest, Noah, as well. Amusingly averted with Reid, who was much older when he was introduced.
Luke's story involved his biological father trying to send him to a straight camp and his mother reluctantly going along with it. Holden, however, was very supportive. Noah's story involved loads of denial and his father trying to murder his love interest.
Even Evil Has Standards: Katie was in on Vienna's plan to trap Henry into marrying her (Vienna). She drew the line at faking a miscarriage. Not really evil though, she really thought she was doing a good thing, at that point it became My God, What Have I Done?.
Faking the Dead: James Stenbeck is a master at this. Damian did this at least once.
Has Two Daddies: Johnny, who is biologically Craig's son, but was being raised by his mother Jennifer and Dusty. After she died,and Johnny returned from his kidnapping by Lucy, Dusty and Craig fought over custody of Johnny. Craig won, but allowed Dusty visitation rights and Johnny still considered him his father.
Hot for Student: Noah's film professor, though Noah is completely oblivious.
How Unscientific!: Paul has psychic visions sometimes. How or why this happens is never explained.
Hypocrite: Jennifer Munson. She is primarily responsible for the death of Bryant Montgomery, by having an affair with his cousin behind his back and Bryant's grief was so profound that he got into a fatal car crash. Not too long later Jennifer had a one-night stand with Bryant's father, Craig, and got pregnant. However, a mix of guilt and Craig's own shady personality meant that Jennifer didn't want Craig around their child. So she faked an accident so that Craig would be denied full custody of their baby and whenever Craig confronted her about her actions she would throw Bryant's death in his face and blame HIM for it!! Only a handful of people knew the actual truth about Bryant's death so she was able to get away with it, but it was HER fault Bryant died!! Yet she sat on a sanctimonious high horse and continually blamed Craig for Bryant's death, to the point that then everybody blamed Craig for his death.
Improbable Hairstyle: An In-Joke within the fandom is how often Luke changes hairstyles, frequently from one scene to the next, and at least once within the same scene, which shouldn't be possible.
When Ameera was visited in prison, she was shown was professionally done highlights.
Jerk Ass: Paul Ryan. Among his most memorable moments on the show included publicly humiliating his fiancee, Rose D'Angelo, and dumping her at the altar; stealing his half-sister Jennifer's newborn baby and allowing his sister to believe her baby died just because his mortal enemy Craig Montgomery fathered the child; coaxing his comatose ex-wife Rosanna out of her coma for no other reason than to hurt his ex-girlfriend Meg; and hiring an imposter to PRETEND TO BE HIS DEAD SISTER JENNIFER to lure Dusty Donovan away from Meg. Yet despite his deplorable actions, he acted like he somehow had higher ground than anybody else on the show and constantly acted like a Morality Pet against other characters. He even called the cops on Rosanna when he found out she'd falsified Meg's paternity test results—this being after he stole Jennifer's baby!!
Kissing Cousins: Parker/Liberty, though they aren't related by blood (Jack isn't Parker's biological father) and they didn't grow up knowing each other, since Liberty's father Brad didn't know she existed until she was a teenager.
Mistaken for Cheating: Reid, when Luke catches him at The Lakeview by himself. Reid says he's seeing a patient, but Luke doesn't believe him. Because Chris wanted to keep it a secret (and Reid was legally obligated to do so) Reid couldn't explain himself.
Mistaken for Gay: Paul and Henry. Made all the more hilarious by the fact that they were in a lingerie store. Reid isn't entirely convinced that Henry is straight either.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Vienna Hyatt was originally meant to be an imitation of Paris Hilton. A wealthy heiress whose first name was the name of a European capital with the last name of a chain of expensive hotels.
Series Continuity Error: The death of Bryant Montogmery. Originally he died in a car accident after receiving the devastating news that not only was his girlfriend, Jennifer Munson, cheating on him with his cousin Billy, but his close friends Adam and Abigail knew about it and kept it a secret from him. A couple years later the cause for his death was changed to his father Craig being responsible, and other characters continually threw Bryant's death in Craig's face to show what a monster he was. Including Jennifer.
Surrounded by Idiots: Reid seems to think the rest of the hospital staff is incompetent, though he has a lot of respect for Bob Hughes.
Tangled Family Tree: Even by soap opera standards, the Snyder family is something to behold. One example: Super Couple Holden and Lily also uncle and niece because Lily is the daughter of Holden's adopted sister Iva, who was raped by an adopted Snyder cousin who later married Holden's bio sister Meg. Keep in mind there are six Snyder siblings.
The Baby Trap: Vienna does this to Henry, he gets an annulment ASAP upon finding out. Vienna pretended to be pregnant, wearing a pad on her stomach for months, and planned to fake a miscarriage. Katie goes along with this at first, but when Vienna reveal plans to fake a miscarriage, she says it's gone too far.
We Interrupt This Program: The live broadcast of ATWT on November 22, 1963 was interrupted by Walter Cronkite reporting the first bulletins regarding the shooting of President John F. Kennedy. The actors were not immediately informed, and continued their efforts as CBS cut back to the show between bulletins before abandoning the broadcast entirely in favor of continuous news coverage. Because CBS was routinely videotaping the show for time zone delay and rebroadcast, the entire sequence survives and can be viewed online; see here.
What Happened to the Mouse?: John Dixon, who randomly just stopped appearing in episodes with no explanation. When he came back six years later, he revealed he had been working at John Hopkins University's hospital.
What the Hell, Hero?: Everybody has been called out for something at some point. One story line had Carly pretend to be dying of cancer.