Back from the dead! Soap characters who've risen from the grave

Posted Thursday, October 21, 2021 4:45:46 AM
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Cats have nine lives, and apparently, so do soap opera characters. Check out these memorable resurrection storylines that shocked viewers and made The Walking Dead look like child's play.

Nobody does "back from the dead" storylines quite like soap operas, which have become the de facto place to find characters that viewers thought were dead rise from the grave. Sometimes, the characters' absences were short term; other times, they'd been believed to be dead for years, while in a particularly unique case, a character died on one soap opera and was shockingly resurrected on another soap ten years later!

Read on for a list of deaths and reappearances that faked out daytime audiences, and don't forget to tell us which resurrected soap opera characters you were most happy to have back in the land of the living!



Will Horton, Days of our Lives

DAYS fans were gobsmacked when legacy character Will Horton (then played by Guy Wilson) was murdered by the Necktie Killer in 2015, just a month before the soap's 50th anniversary. The move generated major fan backlash, including the accusation that the NBC show was perhaps pandering to anti-gay sentiment. Thankfully, the show righted its wrong in September 2017, with fan-favorite Chandler Massey stepping back into the role in a story that explained Will's earlier "death": After having been strangled, an unconscious (yet alive) Will was found by Susan Banks (Eileen Davidson) and Dr. Rolf (William Utay), the latter of whom injected Will with a serum that made him look to be dead as revenge against Sami (Alison Sweeney). Susan then whisked Will away, and because he had lost all of his memories, she made him believe he was her son, E.J. Will eventually made his way back to Salem and recovered his memories, after which he had a happy reunion with his family and loved ones.


J.T. Hellstrom, The Young and the Restless

Fans of Y&R were thrilled when Thad Luckinbill brought J.T. Hellstrom back to the canvas in 2017 -- until the character started acting really odd, even going so far as to physically abuse Victoria (Amelia Heinle) and push Victor (Eric Braeden) down the stairs. When it seemed J.T. was once more going to assault Victoria, the unlikely trio of Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott), Phyllis (Gina Tognoni), and Sharon (Sharon Case) rushed to her aid, which led to Nikki striking J.T. in the head with a fire poker. Thinking him to be dead, the women wrapped him in a rug and buried him in Chancellor Park. It wasn't until several months later that J.T. reappeared, alive and well. Oh, and remember that odd behavior he'd shown before Nikki whacked him in the noggin? Turns out it was all due to a brain tumor -- a storyline move that was no doubt concocted to soothe outraged viewers who couldn't believe that their beloved J.T. had turned such a dark corner.


Nikolas Cassadine, General Hospital

When Nikolas (then played by Tyler Christopher) attempted to fake his own death back in 2016, he had no idea what kind of trouble he'd ultimately cause. His scheme set off a chain of events that led to him being shot by his uncle Valentin Cassadine (James Patrick Stuart) just after he'd given Valentin his private island estate, Wyndemere. GH viewers were dismayed to see Nikolas tumble off Cassadine Island and perish in the waves below -- or so it seemed. Nikolas reemerged in the fall of 2019 with actor Marcus Coloma playing the role, and it was revealed that he had been fished out of the sea and nursed back to health.


Taylor Hayes, The Bold and the Beautiful

B&B viewers were devastated to lose Taylor Hayes (Hunter Tylo) in 1994, when she was presumed dead following a plane crash. Luckily for fans, it turned out she had merely had amnesia and had been living with Prince Omar Rashid (Kabir Bedi). The character was believed to have perished again in 2002, when she died in Ridge Forrester's (Ronn Moss) arms after being shot by Sheila Carter (Kimberlin Brown) -- but she had once again been spirited away and healed by Prince Omar, who put a wax dummy in Taylor's coffin! Taylor managed to escape Omar's palace and unintentionally spooked Ridge, who decided to dig up his wife's grave and was shocked to find that she wasn't in it. Taylor eventually revealed herself to Ridge, and they shared a brief moment of happiness before all the typical drama of soaps kicked in and pulled them apart again (and again and again)!


Victor Newman, The Young and the Restless

No one does mustache twirling better than Y&R's Victor, and no one does fake deaths better, either. The Genoa City patriarch has cheated the Grim Reaper on several occasions . Back in 1993, he was thought to have passed after a car accident, and in 2008, everyone thought he'd died in a shipwreck. In 2012, everyone thought a dock explosion had blown Victor to smithereens, and his family mourned his death, unaware that Sister Celeste had secreted Victor away to convalesce from his injuries and, for his own protection, only told Genevieve (Genie Francis) that he was alive. As Victor had suffered amnesia in the blast, he was happily living life with Genevieve in Los Angeles. It took quite some time for him to realize who he was and return home to his loved ones in GC. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be long until those same loved ones were unnecessarily grieving Victor once more. In 2019, the character "kicked the bucket' to punish his son Adam (Mark Grossman). But it wasn't just the fictional people in Genoa City who were faked out; thousands of Y&R fans thought the Mustache was really a goner. As usual, Victor had the last laugh.


Adam Newman, The Young and the Restless

They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and in the case of Y&R's Victor and his son Adam, the saying is correct. Victor has been presumed dead on many occasions, but Adam is proving to be just as adept at that particular game. He's been believed to be deceased twice in recent years -- when Adam and Billy (then played by Billy Miller) were in a car crash shortly after Adam revealed he'd been the one to kill Delia, and when Adam was in a cabin explosion caused by a vengeful Chloe (Elizabeth Hendrickson). Fans were shocked both times that the character returned from the dead -- in 2014, when Justin Hartley took over the role from Michael Muhney in a story that had Adam pretending to be Gabriel so he could return to GC after Delia's death, and in 2019, when Mark Grossman took on the role in story that had Adam living in Las Vegas with amnesia.


Jason Morgan, General Hospital

Jason (Steve Burton) was presumed dead in 2012, having been shot by Cesar Faison (Anders Hove). But the character resurfaced in 2014, when it was revealed he'd actually been held captive by Victor Cassadine (then played by Thaao Penghlis). Steve Burton was no longer playing the character, however, so the writers penned a story in which Jason was hit by a car and had to have reconstructive surgery on his face -- enter actor Billy Miller as Jason, who had suffered amnesia from the car accident and was calling himself "Jake." Years went by with Miller in the role, with "Jake" finally remembering he was Jason. But that was all undone in 2017 with the return of Burton as a mysterious man named "Patient 6," who ended up being the real Jason, while Miller's version of the character was revealed to be Jason's twin brother, Drew Cain, who'd been implanted with Jason's memories. Try explaining that to a non-soap viewer!


Chance Chancellor, The Young and the Restless

The character is M.I.A. at the moment, and it's not the first time that Genoa City residents have missed Phillip (Thom Bierdz) and Nina's (Tricia Cast) son. In an effort to prove that his GCPD partner, Ronan Malloy (Jeff Branson), was a dirty cop back in 2010, Chance (John Driscoll) was arrested for drug possession. However, it was Ronan -- an undercover FBI agent -- who had planted the drugs on him to protect his partner. Things got out of hand when Chance tried to bust the group of dirty cops, forcing Ronan to shoot him in order to prove his loyalty. Chance's family was devastated over his death, especially because it was wrongly assumed that Chance was leading a drug ring. Ronan -- who, side note, also turned out to be Nina's son -- eventually came clean about his role with the FBI and brought the dirty cops to justice. Meanwhile, Phillip and Nina were stunned to reunite with Chance, who had faked his death so that he could go into the Witness Protection Program after the bust.


Jack Deveraux, Days of our Lives

DAYS' Jack (Matthew Ashford) has been presumed dead on several occasions, including the time he was "killed" by the Salem Stalker, the time he was thought to have perished in a storm while escaping the island of Melaswen, and the time he staged his death in a car accident to spare his family the news that he was dying of a rare blood disease. Arguably, however, his best "back from the dead" moment happened in 2018. Having been presumed dead after an elevator crash in 2012, Jack surprised everyone in Salem when he once again returned from the grave. The only problem: he had no memory of his accident or who the heck he was! Jack eventually regained his identity and reunited with his true love, Jennifer (Melissa Reeves), but it wasn't without several bumps along the way -- including marrying manipulative Eve (Kassie DePaiva)!


Sheila Carter, The Bold and the Beautiful/The Young and the Restless

B&B sent shock waves through the industry when Sheila Carter (Kimberlin Brown) unexpectedly (and we mean completely unexpectedly) popped up on the canvas in 2017 after having died on Y&R in 2007. Fans were stunned, thanks in part to B&B pulling all kinds of strings to keep the secret under wraps -- including assigning Brown a code name during her first few weeks of taping. As cool as it was, Sheila's return was also a bit confusing. After all, the character was last seen on B&B back in 2003 and was killed on Y&R in 2007, when Sheila (who was then being played by Michelle Stafford) was shot by her longtime enemy, Lauren Fenmore (Tracey Bregman). However, that little blip was easily skipped over by B&B's executive producer and head writer, Brad Bell, who admitted that he pretty much erased Sheila's Y&R "death" from existence. "That Y&R story was so...uh...[long pause]... original! So we are focusing solely on what previously happened with Sheila on B&B," he said upon Brown's return to the series. "That's my universe and the only way I can embrace the character right now. What happened in Genoa City stays in Genoa City!"


Stefano DiMera, Days of our Lives

Stefano DiMera (Joseph Mascolo) was notorious for returning from the dead, which earned him the nickname the Phoenix. The DAYS character always rose from the ashes, as evidenced by his ability to return to the land of the living after suffering a stroke, a drowning, a plane explosion, a car crash in the Salem harbor, being buried in a tunnel collapse, getting shot by Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall), and getting shot by Ian McAllister (Ian Buchanan). Heck, fans even saw Stefano's decayed corpse and he still managed to come back from the dead! However, when Hope Brady (Kristian Alfonso) shot Stefano three times in the chest back in 2016, fans believed that would be the true end of the character -- especially as his long-time portrayer, Joseph Mascolo, sadly passed away later that same year. However, DAYS kept true to Stefano's nickname, and the character once again rose from the ashes in 2019, when Dr. Rolf downloaded the character's memories into Steve Johnson (Stephen Nichols) as "Stevano."


The Project Orpheus Recipients, All My Children

Dr. David Hayward (Vincent Irizarry) was a master at cheating death. Not only was he a cardiologist who saved the lives of umpteen individuals on the operating table, but he faked his demise in 2010 in an effort to frame Ryan (Cameron Mathison) and put him away in prison -- far away from Greenlee (Rebecca Budig). However, it was the evil doc's Project Orpheus that took him to true Frankenstein status. Much to viewers' surprise -- and shock, horror, and countless other adjectives -- David had been secretly performing illegal medical experiments since 1997 in an attempt to bring the dead back to life. His machinations were revealed to be a success in 2011, with David resurrecting several beloved AMC characters, including Zach (Thorsten Kaye), Dixie Cooney (Cady McClain), Maria Santos (Eva LaRue), and Stuart Chandler (David Canary).


Tony DiMera, Days of our Lives

DAYS fans were thrown for a loop in 2019 when, a decade after being impaled during a scuffle with Philip and then dying, Tony (Thaao Penghlis) resurfaced alive and well, having benefited from Dr. Rolf's famous life-restoring serum. And believe it or not, that was just the beginning of Tony's insane "back from the dead" storyline! Kristen (Stacy Haiduk) paid Tony a visit while he was recuperating in Chicago and blackmailed him into pretending to be his look-alike half-brother, Andre. She then disguised herself as Nicole (Arianne Zucker) and moved forward with plans to marry "Andre" so that she could regain control of the family company DiMera Enterprises. Everyone in Salem was shocked when Andre and Nicole's identities were revealed to be none other than Tony and Kristen DiMera, but the two most surprised by the devious scheme were Kristen's crush, Brady (Eric Martsolf), and Tony's ex-wife, Anna (Leann Hunley), the latter of whom wasn't shy in expressing her disgust that the pair had tied the knot and that she'd been kept in the dark about Tony actually being alive.


Helena Cassadine, General Hospital

A true soap villainess will never rest in tormenting her adversaries, and Helena Cassadine has that particular art down to a T. Two such examples are when the residents of Port Charles assumed Helena to be dead after she was shot by Luke Spencer (Anthony Geary), and when she was presumed dead after the Crichton-Clark explosion. In both instances, she was preserved via cryogenic technology -- and she took massive pleasure in first revealing herself to be alive and then continuing her reign of terror over the town. She's currently presumed dead once again (this time from poisoning by Nikolas), but one never knows if Helena will rise from the ashes again. Heck, even her portrayer, Constance Towers, thinks it's possible. In a 2019 interview, she mused: "As Helena, I once killed my son Stefan [Stephen Nichols] and had him thrown off the back of a yacht. He was totally drunk, having consumed poison and a lot of wine. About three weeks later, he walked in on me. The first line I had after seeing him was, 'I knew I shouldn't have taught you how to swim.' So, other characters come back just like Helena. Who knows what they have in store for her?"

Whose "return from the dead" storyline shocked you the most? Would you add anyone else to the list? Are there any characters who returned from the dead that you think should have stayed dead? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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