Guiding Light

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Soap Opera that began on NBC radio on January 25, 1937. It moved to CBS radio in 1947, then to television in 1952. Originally The Guiding Light, it was shortened to Guiding Light in 1975. In April 2009, it was announced that it would end its run in September 2009 and the show indeed ended on September 18, 2009 as scheduled -- after a mind-boggling 15,762 episodes.

The single most important thing about Guiding Light is this: It may be the longest recorded narrative in the entire history of mankind. It has produced a total of about 18 continuous months' worth of narrative material (both audio and video). That is, if you listened to/watched the show, from the beginning, 24 hours a day, it would take nearly a year and a half to get through it all; for comparison, if The Simpsons wanted to break this record, it would still have to be producing new episodes in 2062. (The British soap Coronation Street pronounces itself the world's longest-lasting soap on each of its major anniversaries, but it isn't even Britain's longest-lasting soap - that honour belongs to The Archers - although it is the longest-lasting TV soap still in production... however, with just over 7000 episodes produced it has quite a way to go.)

However, this being a daytime Soap Opera, not all of this narrative material is known to exist. Not much survives from the radio years, or the first 25 years or so of its TV incarnation, and what does exist is in the form of kinescopes and home video recordings (and vinyls, in the case of the radio years).

For a more detailed look at the show's run, the Other Wiki has you covered.

Tropes used in Guiding Light include:


  • Long Runner: Nearly Seventy-three years! As we keep mentioning, it's the longest running narrative in human history.
  • Love Dodecahedron
  • May-December Romance: Alan and Hope, HB and Reva, Roger and Dinah, Ross and Blake, Matt and Vanessa
  • Older Than Television: Guiding Light itself.
  • Put on a Bus: Rita Stapleton.
  • Rape and Revenge: Holly shot Roger in the chest three times after he raped her.
  • Series Continuity Error: 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.
    • Could sometimes branch into They Just Didn't Care, as the show once gave Alan Michael flashbacks of his childhood in the Spaulding mansion, - even though he was introduced as an eighteen-year-old man crashing a party to introduce himself to Alan.
  • Soap Opera: To this day, the copyrights and trademarks to the show's characters are still owned by Proctor & Gamble
  • Soap Opera Disease
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome:
    • 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 six months old to about seventeen years in a matter of months.
    • Conversely, at least one leading adult character has managed to age backward as a departing actor is replaced in the same role by someone younger.
  • Sound to Screen Adaptation
  • The Three Certainties in Life:

Lizzie Spaulding: Love isn't a sure thing. Granddad, on the other hand, is right up there with death and taxes.