Tom Stacy, B&B
On B&B, we all believed Stephanie’s mother had long since passed but Eric wasn’t the only one surprised to learn that her mother — and sister — were alive and well and living in Chicago. The reveal kicked off a touching story of how Stephanie was physically abused as a child by her father, and how her mother and sister lived in fear and did nothing to protect her, thus leading to the decades-long estrangement. That tale explained so much about why Stephanie could be so cold to her kin, and yet she was such a protective lioness over her own children, especially her beloved Ridge. The iconic Betty White showed off her dramatic chops as Steph’s mother, Ann, and the fallout of this memorable storyline is still felt to this day with the addition of sis Pam (the effervescent Alley Mills), who has since become a vital part of the Forrester family.
Lee Meyer, GH
I first started watching GH when Carly Roberts came to town and started messing with Bobbie’s world. The viewers (and Luke) knew that she was the daughter Bobbie gave up for adoption, but the show wisely waited a long time for the secret to come out. When it finally did, and Carly tearfully revealed to Bobbie that she was Caroline, Bobbie’s angry and disbelieving reaction was realistic and powerful.
Mara Levinsky, ONE LIFE TO LIVE
What could be a more consequential long-lost relative storyline than the search for the missing heir of Victor Lord on ONE LIFE TO LIVE? David Vickers, in cahoots with Tina, tried to pass himself off as the secret son of Irene Manning and Victor, in an effort to lay claim on the $28 million fortune that came with the honor. But the true heir proved to be Todd Manning, a truth Blair Cramer lucked into before it went public, so she claimed to be pregnant and got Todd to marry her. This 1994-95 yarn was not only a key turning point in the Blair/Todd love story, but it gave us one of my favorite pairs of soap sibs: Viki and Todd.
Devin Owens, Y&R
The discovery on Y&R in 1985 that Brent Davis had fathered Ashley was a true stunner. For weeks, we were guessing which Abbott sibling, Jack, Ash or Traci wasn’t John’s biological style and my money was on the reckless Jack because he was so much unlike the beloved patriarch. Color me gobsmacked on the day I was proven wrong!