The very first Daytime Emmy Award for Best Drama Series was presented to NBC’s “The Doctors” in 1972. It is one of just 13 programs that have been honored as television’s top soap opera since the category was created. Click through our photo gallery above of every winner for Best Drama Series in Daytime Emmy history, starting with the most recent.
Because daytime soap operas can run for decades, shows have more chances to succeed than some of their primetime counterparts (although as is often the case at the Primetime Emmys, it sometimes takes a few years for the Academy to catch up with audience tastes). ABC’s “General Hospital,” which premiered in 1963, holds the record for most victories with 13, the first of which came in 1981. CBS’s “The Young and the Restless” is close behind with 11 victories; it joined the winner’s circle the first time in 1975 after hitting the airwaves in 1973.
CBS’s “As the World Turns,” which ran from 1956-2010, comes in third place with four wins, tied with NBC’s “Days of Our Lives, while four dramas are tied for fifth with three victories apiece: ABC’s “All My Children,” CBS’s “The Bold and the Beautiful,” CBS’s “Guiding Light,” and NBC’s “Santa Barbara.” “The Doctors” and ABC’s “Ryan’s Hope” each have two trophies, while NBC’s “Another World,” CBS’s “The Edge of Night,” and ABC’s “One Life to Live” all have one citation.
Tour our photo gallery below of every Best Drama Series winner at the Daytime Emmys, and see if your favorite melodramas were up to the Television Academy’s lofty standards.
‘General Hospital’ (ABC)
Best Drama Series Wins: 2021, 2017, 2016, 2012, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1984, 1981
Families, friends, enemies and lovers experience life-changing events in the large upstate New York city of Port Charles, which has a busy hospital, upscale hotel, cozy diner and dangerous waterfront frequented by the criminal underworld. With 14 victories under its belt, “General Hospital” holds the record for most Best Drama Series wins.
‘The Young and the Restless’ (CBS)
Best Drama Series Wins: 2020, 2019, 2015, 2014, 2007, 2004, 1993, 1986, 1985, 1983, 1975
Set in Genoa City, this is the long-running soap that tells the story of the struggle behind the business and sex-savvy Abbott and Newman clans. “The Young and the Restless” has won 10 total Best Drama Series prizes, first in 1975, then again in 1983, 1985, 1986, 1993, 2004, 2007, 2014, 2015 and 2019.
‘Days of Our Lives’ (NBC)
Best Drama Series Wins: 2018, 2015, 2013, 1978
A chronicle of the lives, loves, trials and tribulations of the citizens of the fictional city of Salem. The long-running show won its first Best Drama Series prize in 1978, returning to the winner’s circle in 2013, 2015, and 2018.
‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ (CBS)
Best Drama Series Wins: 2011, 2010, 2009
The sage of high fashion glamour, honor, romance, passion, and most importantly, family. The CBS series took home victories in 2009, 2010, and 2011.
‘Guiding Light’ (CBS)
Best Drama Series Wins: 2007, 1982, 1980
“Guiding Light” takes place in the fictional Midwestern town of Springfield and centers on the middle-class Bauer family. The show won Best Drama Series prizes in 1980 and 1982, clinching another victory in 2007.
‘As the World Turns’ (CBS)
Best Drama Series Wins: 2003, 2001, 1991, 1987
Set in the fictional town of Oakdale, this long-running serial focuses on the relationships and difficulties of its inhabitants. The show, which ran from 1956-2010, won Best Drama Series in 1987, 1991, 2001, and 2003.
‘One Life to Live’ (ABC)
Best Drama Series Wins: 2002
Centers on the lives of the citizens of the fictional town of Llanview, PA, focusing heavily on the wealthy Lord family. The show won just one Best Drama Series award during it run from 1968-2013.
‘All My Children’ (ABC)
Best Drama Series Wins: 1998, 1994, 1992
Set in the fictional East Coast suburb Pine Valley, “All My Children” is the decades-old, risk-taking soap that centers around Erica Kane and her long line of husbands. The show won three Best Drama Series prizes (1992, 1994, and 1988) before it cancellation in 2011.
‘Santa Barbara’ (NBC)
Best Drama Series Wins: 1990, 1989, 1988
In Santa Barbara, CA, the fascinating and tumultuous life of the rich Capwells, around whom gravitate other families, from the Lockridges, the rival family, to the Andrades and the Perkins, more modest families but whose destinies know the same torments. The show won three consecutive Best Drama Series prizes — 1988, 1989, and 1990 — before its cancellation in 1993.
‘Ryan’s Hope’ (ABC)
Best Drama Series Wins: 1979, 1977
Set in Riverside on the upper West Side of Manhattan, “Ryan’s Hope” centers mostly on the working-class Ryans, an Irish-American family headed by Maeve and Johnny Ryan, who own Ryan’s bar. The series won prizes in 1977 and 1979 before it cancellation in 1989.
‘Another World’ (NBC)
Best Drama Series Wins: 1976
The continuing story of life in the Midwestern town of Bay City, and the love, loss, trials, and triumph of its residents, who come from different backgrounds and social circles. The show, which ran from 1964-1999, won Best Drama Series just once in 1976.
‘The Doctors’ (NBC)
Best Drama Series Wins: 1974, 1972
Dr. Matt Powers is head of Hope Memorial Hospital in the town of Madison, concerning himself with the staff and patients with their attending dramas. He is primarily supported by his wife Maggie, their good friend Dr. Althea Davis, and eventually the extensive Aldrich family over the years. “The Doctors” was the very first Best Drama Series winner at the Daytime Emmys in 1972, winning again in 1974.
‘The Edge of Night’ (CBS)
Best Drama Series Wins: 1973
In the city of Monticello, attorney Mike Karr and his colleagues are involved in solving crimes and intrigue which touches the lives of many citizens. The show won the Best Drama Series prize just once in 1973.