[[caption-width-right:259: ''There is a destiny that makes us brothers, none goes his way alone. All that we send into the lives of others, comes back into our own.'']]

''Guiding Light'' was a SoapOpera [[OlderThanTelevision that began on NBC radio]] on the 25th of January 1937, moved to CBS radio in 1947, then to television in 1952. Originally titled ''The Guiding Light'', it was shortened to ''Guiding Light'' in 1975. The show ended on the 18th of September 2009 -- after 18,262 episodes.

The single most important thing about ''Guiding Light'' is that it may be the longest recorded continuous narrative ''in the entire history of mankind''. If you wanted to experience the entire show from beginning to end, and you could do so on a 24-hours-a-day schedule with no breaks, you would need around ''eighteen months'' to get through it all. With all that said, you may be curious as to what the show is about. Recapping that is not going to be an easy task, but damned if we won't try.

Inspired by creator Irna Phillips' nights listening to a radio preacher, ''The Guiding Light'' began as a character study of Chicago-based Reverend John Ruthledge and his {{foil}}, the pessimistic Ellis Smith. Succeeding preachers, all with the Ruthledge name, have carried on the work of their progenitor. The 1950s (and the transition to television) saw the families move to the Los Angeles area, where the focus shifted to the Bauers (no relation to [[Series/TwentyFour Jack]]), a clan of German immigrants who believed staunchly in the American dream. Filling in for cranky Ellis Smith is Bertha "Bert" Miller, a materialistic harridan who opposes the Bauers' work ethic at every turn. The Bauer family would eventually become the tentpoles of the series from here on out.

The 1960s brought forth a couple of minority actors (including a pre-fame Creator/BillyDeeWilliams) and a host of contemporary issues. Without any fanfare, the show returned to the midwest, with "Los Angeles" retconned into "Springfield, U.S.A" -- your standard, all-purpose midwest locale (which should be familiar to anyone who has watched American soaps). Nothing so earth-shattering occurred over the course of the 1970s, apart from the show's patriarch, Bill Bauer, being ''very'' [[DeaderThanDead thoroughly killed off]] and then mysteriously resurrected. The 1980s were...more tumultuous (complete with a disco intro sequence -- in 1981): The aging Bauer clan and the working-class Reardons took a backseat to a younger, hornier cast, though they would make a comeback in the 1990s.

Like most soap operas during that period, the storylines got [[KudzuPlot a bit more tangled and outrageous]], though nothing anywhere near the realm of ''[[Series/DaysOfOurLives Days of Our Lives]]''[='=] cloak-and-dagger intrigue -- at least not yet. (About the craziest thing to happen on ''Guiding Light'' was a multiple-personality diagnosis.) The last years of the show's life were rocky, despite an extensive retool and modernization of the Springfield sets. Four of the veteran players, including the oldest living Bauer (Dr. Ed Bauer), were retconned into accessories to a murder that happened [[CerebusRetcon way back into the 1970]]s, when they were still straight-laced young men. The new millennium was now upon us, along with rapes, mobsters, psychics, and ghosts galore. Despite fan outcry and the outright revolt of one actor, the show eventually did come back to earth, if just so it could tidy everything up with a bow for the Grand Finale.

Since ''Guiding Light'' was a daytime SoapOpera, not all of the material that makes up the exhaustive narrative is known to exist. Not much survived from either the radio years or the first 25 years or so of the TV series; what does exist is in the form of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinescope kinescopes]], [[MissingEpisode home video recordings]], and (in the case of the radio years) vinyls.

For a far more detailed look at the entire run of the series, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guiding_Light the Other Wiki has you covered.]]


!! ''Guiding Light'' includes the following tropes:

* ArtifactTitle: The title referred to a lamp in the preacher's study. Over time, that plot point was dropped, but the title remained.
** The title was later retooled to reference the town's lighthouse, which was also featured as part of the CreditsMontage for many years and became a plot point in a number of episodes.
* TheBabyTrap: Desperate to hang onto husband Josh, Annie slashed her diaphragm, only for it to backfire on her--Josh had told her he wanted to wait to have kids and her deception was the last straw. She miscarried and framed his ex Reva for manslaughter by making it look like she'd pushed her down the stairs.
* 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.
* BigBad: Many over the years, but the most enduring (while not completely evil) are Alan Spaulding and Roger Thorpe.
* 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.
* {{Crossover}}: Michael Baldwin of ''Series/TheYoungAndTheRestless'' made a brief appearance, indicating that the two shows are in the same universe.
* 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 the remake of ''Film/TheOmen2006'' 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.]]
* GoodGirlGoneBad: Annie went from MarySue to {{Yandere}} in her desperate attempts to hang on to Josh, then seek revenge on him and Reva.
* 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]], plus Josh & Reva's 26-year WillTheyOrWontThey saga finally ending on a good note.
* HookerWithAHeartOfGold: Selena Davis
* JerkassHasAPoint: While being forced to admit that she framed Reva for killing her baby, Annie truthfully points out that ''she'' was the one who brought Josh out of the HeroicBSOD he had been in for years since Reva's "death", and the thanks she got was to be relentlessly jerked around and eventually dumped--while pregnant, no less--as soon as Reva came back from the dead. Is it any wonder that she snapped and sought to get revenge on them?
** Shortly after that, she trashes their beloved family cabin, repeatedly screaming, "You '''''never''''' gave us a chance!" Despite being completely off the deep end by this point, she's absolutely right.
* 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]].
* LaserGuidedKarma: After miscarrying and losing her final chance to hang on to Josh, Annie [[{{Squick}} keeps the dead fetus in her womb]] and then makes it seem like Reva pushed her down the stairs so that it appears that ''this'' is when she lost the baby. After the whole scheme is discovered, she has to have a hysterectomy due to an infection that resulted from her actions (TruthInTelevision, btw). An especially cruel version, as even Reva, who hated her at this point, felt sorry for the fact that she would never be able to have children, the one thing she consistently desired throughout her time on the show.
* 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''.
* LoveDodecahedron
* 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.
* {{Retool}}: The series most drastic occurred on 2/28/08. Moving production to Peapack, New Jersey, having interior shots inside actual buildings, and utilizing hand held cameras, as well as using a RealSongThemeTune, [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkwG_UJ641o "Only Love" by Kati Mac]].
* 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.
** A glaring example had four male characters discussing something horrible they'd done 25 years prior. Problem is, one of the men wasn't even in the cast 25 years prior, and viewers who'd been watching the show back then immediately said that no such horrible incident had occurred at that time.
* 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
* SoapOperaDisease
* SoapOperaRapidAgingSyndrome:
** 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.
* SoundToScreenAdaptation
* TheThreeCertaintiesInLife:
--> '''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.