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June 26, 2006

Could they?? Fans reacting passionately to murder rumor on soap

A couple of years ago, Days of Our Lives got a lot of people's attention by killing off many members of its main cast, later revealing that these veterans had not died but rather had been sent to a deserted island.

That kind of camp may work on a show like DAYS, but it is not what viewers expect from As the World Turns, the long-running CBS soap I follow closely and have blogged about here several times.

Rumors are circulating quite heavily that Summer 2006 will feature a serial killer storyline, and now word is circulating that the story will lead to the demise of a couple of minor and a couple of major characters on the show. Word has begun to circulate in the online community that TV Guide and Soap Opera Digest are breaking news about the serial killer storyline, although no conclusive word has come out about cast members ending their contract so far, indicating that either word is being suppressed about who is leaving the show for as long as possible or that the characters planned to be killed are not played by contracted stars, making it much harder for word to break out (or, a third option, that fans are taking several unrelated news bits and combining them into something blown out of proportion).

Recently, the show killed off newcomer character Nick Kasnoff, who was murdered in self-defense, and is set to kill off Jennifer Munson, a longtime 20-something character on the show, next week to a bout of viral pneumonia.

Fans were upset about Jennifer's death, as she's been a major featured character on the show for a while, but that pales to the reaction that fans have given over the past day or two on the ATWT Media Domain message board about rumors of the death of character Tom Hughes.

Rumors had been circulating that a veteran on the show was unhappy with their contract, and the star who plays Tom's wife Margo--Ellen Dolan--has also voiced her displeasure with ATWT in a letter written to the fan community that I blogged about a couple of months ago. With news that a beloved character was leaving the show and that Tom was going to be attacked breaking out, longtime fans are angered and feel that portrayer Scott Holmes must be fed up with never getting a storyline. While some fans don't particularly care about the character and others feel that Tom's role has been diminished to the point that his leaving wouldn't be that big of a deal, many fans feel such a move would be a slap in the face of the show's history.

For those who know nothing about ATWT, Hughes is the son of the show's early central characters, Bob Hughes and Lisa Miller. He was born in 1961 on the show and has made television history as the only character to have been born and grow up on television for that length of time, having consecutively been a character on the show for all this time. Other characters have been on television longer...(ironically, all of them are also on ATWT, including Tom's parents, Bob and Lisa, and his grandmother, Nancy Hughes, who has been portrayed by the same actress since the first episode in 1956)...but Tom was set to break that record because the character would be on the show for decades to come, only being about 50 now (slightly aged, as soaps tend to do).

After his days as a baby, Tom has been portrayed by 13 different actors, but current portrayer Scott Holmes has been in the role for almost 20 years now. He was a major star of the 1980s and early 1990s on the show but has only been used sparingly as a supporting character for the past several years, despite being what many consider the backbone of the show. Longtime fans could at least stomach his role being diminished, but there has been a major outcry in the past 24 hours regarding the possibility of Hughes' career being ended.

I've posted on the Media Domain board about Hughes as well, feeling that the show would be killing off one of its parts that makes it an historically unparalleled program. Even if the character does not have enough narrative potential to be a major star in the writers' eyes at this point, the amount of cultural and historical cache having a milestone character like that on the show gives ATWT should be valued. In fact, I just finished a semester-long research project about the Tom Hughes character.

I remain highly skeptical that the show would do something like this and feel that, even if the current portrayer is leaving (who I think ranks among the top actors on the show), that the writers and executive producer of the show would not be short-sighted enough to kill Tom Hughes off. I've been working on my research for this show for a while and have met some of the creative team. I don't think a show has forward-thinking as ATWT, coming off the success of innovative moves such as their transmedia novel and their character blog, would do something this short-sighted. Nevertheless, even though these rumors are unsubstantiated at this point beyond piecing bits of potentially unrelated tidbits together, the outrcry from the fan community has been newsworthy on its own.

If these rumors turn out to be no more than gossip, this incident will still be a lesson for producres, since the outcry of the fan community makes it even more clear that Hughes is a supported character on a multigenerational type of programming like soap operas. If nothing else, this episode has demonstrated just how strong fan support of a character can be when people have literally watched them grow up from birth to being district attorney, even if that character has been used primarily in a supporting role for most of the past decade.


Extremely intriguing insight into the issue of ATWT's possible writing off of the Tom Hughes character. If you're interested, please consider blogging about this issue and other soap-related topics at Our community would be very interested in your thoughts.

Thanks for the read,
Linda Marshall-Smith
CEO, Soapdom, Inc.

Thanks for the compliments and for stopping by!


Posted by: Sam Ford | June 27, 2006 5:23 PM

I have been watching ATWT off and on since 1970s. I don't understand what all these deaths are all about. Do they think we watch soaps to see a bunch of murders? Is that supposed to be what attracts us to shows? They are killing off two young people, and now want to go knocking off people that are the core family on the show. They've already kicked them off into the sidelines, which is a crime considering what these people have to offer. It seems they must not have competent writers who can come up with stories (isn't that what they're PAID for?). So people we've loved for 20 or 30 years can just quickly be dispatched because we don't have good writers? There has been a rumor on our message board that the producers are TRYING to have the show cancelled, and things like this make me seriously wonder if this is true. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face! The two characters which are being killed off were not ones I liked. But that is not saying they had no place on the show! What happened to the days when people moved away? Why this fixation with death? I sincerely hope this rumor turns out not to be true. The producer told fans that there will be a murder mystery, but I, for one, don't care about things like that on soaps. If Tom's character is merely to be attacked, I can handle that. But if he is killed off, and or Lisa is killed off, I will not be watching this show anymore. That would be a real slap to people who have made this show a part of their lives for decades, and are paid back by a kick in the teeth!

Posted by: fee | June 28, 2006 12:37 AM

I, for one, would be extremely disappointed if Tom Hughes died. He is one of the moral tent poles of the show and while other characters may come and go, Tom should be a fixture (and a fixture that we see MUCH more often at that). Many fans don't recognize how key he is but that is because we never see him. Once, Tom was on every day, he had zany adventures and an exciting romance with Margo. What happened?

I think that while he has been wasted by TPTB and the writers, killing him would be on par with Guiding Light's fatal error of killing Ross Marler. Just colossal stupidity and a tragic waste of ATWT's rich history. And inevitably, some other show would sign Scott Holmes to contract and he would blow them away, thereby showing ATWT the full extent that they had screwed up.

Tom needs to be made a judge and given a much richer role to play on the canvas. He is THE good guy in Oakdale, in a world of moral flakes like Paul Ryan and thugs like Dusty Donovan. I can only hope that this is a ridiculous rumour.

Posted by: Petunia | June 28, 2006 9:33 AM


We don't have any confirmation that they are going to go the DAYS route and kill off any major cast members. There's been no news that anyone like Scott Holmes are on their way out, and I think the Eileen Fulton rumors seem completely unsubstantiated at this point.

Following Nick's death and Jennifer's death, it does seem excessive, other than trimming the cast down a little bit, if they kill three or four more characters, but they could always end up killing characters who aren't that pertinent to the story. Lynn Michaels, Dr. Schiller, Nate, Lia, Burt, Al, and all these other folks better watch out...

As far as the storylines on a show go, there are so many pressures and so many people that have a hand in storylines for soaps...the network, PGP, Televest, the executive producer, the writing team, etc.

But, of course there's no way that people want to sabotage their own careers. The writing team of ATWT and the executive producer want a show to succeed. But, not only is there often myriad corporate pressures on the writing team of a show like this, but there's also a learning curve. These writing teams who switch among the daytime shows throughout their career are not nearly as deeply invested in characters and shows as the fans who've watched that show for decades. And the learning curve on a soap is astounding. Should it be any surprise when a current writing team doesn't know everything there is to know about a show's history when you consider how rich and deep that history is, unless they just happened to have been a longtime fan. In other words, deep history with the product is often not a major job requirement in the soap business, and the fan base is often more in-tune with a character's history than some of the people in creative...not because they are incompetent but because they can't possibly go back and watch the full archive before starting.

Posted by: Sam Ford | June 28, 2006 10:04 AM


You're right about Tom needing to be a fixture. That figurehead of a show, even if they don't want to use the character as anything other than support, is essential. Even if Scott Holmes were leaving, which I hope is never the case, the character is still the major connection to the show's past, present, and future. While Bob and Kim and Nancy and Lisa and others won't be around in 30 years, Tom still very well could be.

I have argued for the last couple of years that a major error on the part of ATWT is not having Tom involved more, even if it were just more involved as a supporting character. It's mind-boggling. When they give him any scenes of substance, he's astounding. The Doc Reese storyline may have been mind-numbingly short-sighted in many ways, but those scenes between Tom and Bob and later Tom and Margo were soaps at their best. Scott Holmes can make his emotional scenes all the more charged becuase he doesn't overplay every wouldn't be within the Tom Hughes character to be dramatic all the time.

But again, I've talked with Jean Passanante and others about the central role Tom plays, and she talked about how important Tom is in future storylines with Daniel and Emily, etc., that he has a lot of potential in the years to come. And, of course, he is poised to take over that Bob Hughes figurehead role as well. I can't fathom that, a few months later, they would be having him murdered. Hopefully, just completely unsubstantiated rumors, but it's good for TPTB to see the emotional response this gets from the fan community.

Posted by: Sam Ford | June 28, 2006 10:09 AM

I think TPTB could care less about the the fact that this show is going south fast with storylines that make no sense.One minute your a dedicated but new cop then snap! You're a murderer and a kidnapper.A girl practically molests her boyfriend now suddenly she may be a rape victim.Two very sick family members have a female Doogie Howser for a doctor yet a beloved character who is a long time doctor is hardly seen.Two controversial subjects have popped up out of nowhere(harvesting stem cells and deprograming gay homosexual youth) with cornball stories attached.I have given up.I feel bad for the actors on this show and 2 others on CBS that are simply too dreadful to watch for more than 10 minutes a day.

Posted by: mojo2004 | June 28, 2006 4:19 PM

I can't agree with you that the writers and EP don't care. The problem is that everyone has their own vision about what works, and, on ATWT, there are a lot of competing visions and a lot of powers who have influence on the direction of the show. So, sometimes that leads to the show goinng in several different directions, trying to appease many different pepole in the hierarchy.

I agree that it's a shame Dr. Bob hasn't been seen much and that the Maddie thing came out of nowhere, but you could argue that it's actually been written pretty well...She didn't even interact with boys for the longest time and stayed awfully innocent even once she did develop her crush on Casey...she only had her past with Dallas triggered once he came back to town, undoing all the confidence she had built up through all her time in Oakdale. This was much less "out of left-field" than many other stories. And at least Nick Kasnoff had a pretty good reason for his desperation....

I think ATWT has done a good job with the Luke storyline, but I do feel that the deprogrammer storyline, while making personal tensions rise and explaining Lily's maternity leave, does not explain why they always have to take a really meaningful storyline and then throw in something out of left field. The same thing happened with Lucinda's cancer and the clinic in Mexico. To me, these real-life issues are more fascinating without being interrupted by some fantastical plot.

Posted by: Sam Ford | June 29, 2006 7:56 AM

According to one of the soap opera magazines, in reacting to the online reaction to the rumored exist of Scott Holmes and potential corresponding death of character Tom Hughes, sources on the set of the show denied that such plans are in the works, although they confirmed that Holmes is vocal about his lack of airtime for the past several years.

Posted by: Sam Ford | July 11, 2006 6:20 AM

Soap operas play an important role in the history and development of radio and television. "As The World Turns" has stood alone for over 50 years now, as the standard-bearer of quality family drama.

The current Oakdale climate is so dark and depressing (not to mention gory and gruesome) that I am tuning out for the first time in 20 years, until this dreadful "murder mystery" is over. To think that the powers that be would even consider killing off Tom Hughes shows how out of touch the higher-ups are with the traditions of this program.

ATWT usually does a good job with social issues as well as the romantic or action storylines. Serial killers have shown up on just about every other show -- but I had hoped that ATWT would never be like "any other show". They have proven, on screen and through this rumor mill, that the intention is to stir up the fans with a murder mystery. The gratuitous death scenes of late are in poor taste for this show, and I am more disappointed than I ever thought I would be with the executives who produce this program each day. They can do, and have done, so much better.

I am glad you brought this information to light, and I hope that Procter & Gamble sees how much we care about our beloved little show.


While I agree with you about what ATWT is good at, I also want to be clear that there is never any evidence that TPTB were ever atually considering this. From all indications, the storyline has only led to the deaths of two minor characters that have never been involved in a substantial storyline other than as a prop, that being Lia and Nate.

However, this still demonstrates the strong following the show's history has and some of its historical characters as well. Thanks for stopping by, Michael, and hope to hear from you again in the future.

Posted by: Sam Ford | August 10, 2006 3:24 PM

Thanks for writing back. You know, someone at one of the message boards was talking about worst storylines in ATWT history...and, being that I am taking time off due to the current state of affairs, I submit to you my top 20 least-favorite stories...of course, there are hundreds of favorites, and great characters...but I thought you might appreciate this list!

My Top 20 picks for worst stories


(1) Zoe and Sarah Kasnoff on a shopping spree was probably the lowest point in ATWT history.

(2) Mark Kasnoff and Connor Jamison in the treehouse cutting hair and having sex behind Cal Stricklyn's back.

(3) The current Oakdale Slasher storyline.

(4) Bonnie McKechnie getting married in Scotland with Peter Noone and Micky Dolenz.

(5) The Stenbeck Day Spa with Carly, Rose, and Emily.

(6) Diego Santana is Umberto Malzone, starts raping people and forcing people to marry him, etc.

(7) Ellie getting an abortion without telling her husband Kirk. It was a big story that could have lasted more than, say, two days.

(8) Aaron as a boxer + Rafael and Celia = zzzzzzzzzzz.

(9) Margo's post-traumatic stress and affair with Alec Wallace.

(10) Doc Reese / Jessica Griffin / Margo Hughes. Character assassination of the highest order for two of Oakdale's smartest women.

(11) Craig committing murder with Lucy's hired kidnappers, then purposely causing the death of Sierra's new husband, and it was never mentioned again.

(12) John Dixon and Ben Harris disappear from the canvas, and we're to assume they are working other shifts at Memorial Hospital.

(13) Andy and Denise and Holden and Lily -- the babies-switched-at-birth story. I never, ever bought Andy and Denise as a couple.

(14) Chris Hughes and Abigail...blech!

(15) Abigail and Nick (the last one, not the Kasnoff who Katie just killed a couple of months back).

(16) Oakdale Confidential

(17) David "Allen" Stenbeck / "Reid" / coming back from the dead so many times that it seemed like a spoof of dear old dad.

(18) The Paul Ryan recast in the mid-1990s when he ran a home shopping network.

(19) Carly the Baby Killer. It made absolutely no sense, and they nearly ruined Carly in the process.

(20) Lucinda getting married to James Stenbeck. It was so bad, Elizabeth Hubbard quit the show in protest!

Posted by: Michael Bird | August 22, 2006 1:48 PM

Micahel, there are some of your least favorite storylines I wouldn't mind backing you up on, especially Zoe and Sarah Kasnoff, the Ortegas, etc. However, I have to question why you are so against the slasher storyline before it even played out and especially wonder what your problem was with Oakdale Confidential, since you didn't explain it.

And, do you think Lucinda and James were just automatically doomed as a couple or that it was handled incorrectly?

Posted by: Sam Ford | August 24, 2006 3:06 AM

I have been a big fan of As the World Turns, for many years. But I am very dis-satisfied with the killing spree that has been going on for so long.
I absolutely hate the "Jade" character. I wish if someone is to be off the show, please let it be Jade.I don't care how you get rid of her, JUST DO IT and soon. Couldn't one young couple be happy? Am I the only one noticing that most of the young couples on CBS daytime are going through the same things, Lilly & Daniel on Young & the Restless,Maddie & Casey, Gwen & Will, then on Guiding Light Lizzie is doing her best to keep Tammy & Jonathan apart.
I really should find another passtime for all those daytime hours wasted. The only reason I watch any of the daytime soaps is I now have Teevo
and can watch all the soaps in half the time.
Please hurry with this slasher theme on ATWT.

Posted by: christina Graff | August 24, 2006 11:42 PM

I find it strange that so many people have considered this a "killing spree storyline," since only two characters were killed, neither of which were in any way important. This is much different than the DAYS Salem Stalker storyline, but I think that story left such a bad taste in people's mouths that they still push away from any storyline resembling it at all.

I've noticed the crossovers with young couples having problems on soaps lately, but ATWT has its best teen cast in well over a decade right now, I think. As for Jade, I'm still leaving it up in the air before I make up my mind. She can be a fun character sometimes, but I've still not completely realized the point...There may be more of a tie-in to her character than we realize, though.

Do you find it possible to keep up with all these shows so often and get all you can out of them? That's one thing I've never understood, how some people manage or would even want to keep up weekly with all of the daytime shows...

Posted by: Sam Ford | August 25, 2006 2:44 AM
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