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Scheming Patriarchs of The Soaps

Written 7/17/04 by Suzanne originally for Bella Online

Every soap has one: the big bad corporate mogul with the family who barely tolerates him. Ever since J.R. Ewing on "Dallas", soaps have had this archtype. Their fortunes rise and fall, people love them and then hate them, but their family always ends up forgiving them...well, usually! They are always head of one of the big soap families. Most soaps have just one, but some have two. Here are the ones currently on the soaps. You might see that they have many traits in common!

Adam Chandler (David Canary), All My Children

Adam started out as a poor man in South Carolina. Somehow through hard work and determination (and maybe a little bit of backstabbing), he created a fortune. Rather than be thankful for the good life, he seems to spend all of his time defending his fortune or using it to get one over on others, usually in the name of "protecting his family". Like most bad soap patriarchs, he always has some excuse for doing the terrible things he does, usually in the name of love. Love of family most of all. Some of Adam's past misdeeds include: keeping his twin brother locked up in a wing of his house; gas-lighting his wife Dixie so she would seem crazy and be institutionalized (so he could steal her baby); locked his wife Gloria in an abandoned warehouse (he thought she was faking her pregnancy and cheating on him), causing to miscarry; spying on his children; neglecting his daughter Hayley for years and then denying she was his; hired someone to shoot Palmer; spied on his own family members or paid others to spy on them; faked his death to test his wife Erica; stole Natalie's money by slipping her some papers she didn't know she was signing; blackmailed Erica into marrying him; committed fraud by having Stuart stand in for him in his divorce from Erica; swapped Jake's sperm with his own so that Liza would have his baby from the sperm bank; staged his own kidnapping to test wife Gloria; bribed a judge to make sure Mateo got custody of his child; slept with a judge while he was married to Liza, to get David out of trouble and protect his son; lied to the police about his son's drunk driving; plotted to kill Michael with Palmer; and much much more. It's clear that Adam doesn't trust anyone, especially anyone who would love him. He throws his power and money around whenever he can. When the power and money are taken away, or he loses a loved one, he is at his most vulnerable and pitiful. He has now pased on those traits to his son J.R., who is currently trying to make his wife look like an irresponsible mother so he can steal their child in court, and he is framing his brother for it, to deflect attention away from him. Adam seems to truly care for his family, but it's hard to say whether he sees them as individual human beings or just as extensions of himself. He often treats them more like possessions than people. His twin brother Stuart is the only one who seems to be able to love Adam completely, and he can also usually tell when Adam is up to something.

Palmer Courtlandt (James Mitchell) also used to be the same type of character as Adam, but they softened him over the years and barely use him now on the show. It's a real shame because the battles between Adam and Palmer were a fantastic sight to behold.

Marone Massimo (Joseph Mascolo), The Bold & The Beautiful

Massimo is relatively new to the show. Eric Forrester is the long-term patriarch of the show, but he is largely a "good guy" and not the type of person I am focusing on here. Massimo is your typical soap tycoon with holdings in many different companies, but he seems to have made his fortune in shipping. He doesn't seem to be evil, but he often tries to interfere in other people's business and run their lives. He married his former lover Jackie, who was mother to his son, Nick. Right now they are estranged because she also tried to run people's lives, by switching paternity tests so that son Nick was the father of Brooke's baby instead of Massimo's other son Ridge. Massimo did not want Brooke and Ridge together so originally he manipulated her family into taking her away to Paris, so she wouldn't interfere in Ridge's marriage to Taylor. Later, Taylor was killed and eventually Brooke and Ridge found their way back together. Massimo has not been happy about that, but he also wasn't happy about Nick getting involved with Brooke, either. He often pressures Ridge to choose him over his other family, the Forresters. For a long time he pressured Stephanie into living with him; he used his knowledge of Ridge's true parentage as leverage. The truth did come out and she went back to Eric. He and Eric have a long-time rivalry that dates back to college when both were seeing Stephanie. Eric thinks that Massimo's company has ties to organized crime. For the most part, Massimo is controlling, manipulative, and underhanded, but he does not seem as evil as some patriarchs on this list. He seems to genuinely care for his sons and lovers.

Victor Kiriakis (John Aniston), Days of Our Lives

Tom Horton was the main patriarch on Days, but he passed away years ago. Victor was a bad guy from day one, but over the years they softened him up quite a bit. He is a former drug lord, in fact. He also ran a pornography ring. He has framed people for murdered, drugged people, blackmailed people, put out a hit on them, and more. He was more of a "good guy" until recently when he married Nicole, a woman much younger than him who mostly married him for his money. He loves his children and grandchildren but is not above using them or deceiving them when necessary. He has been married several times and lost his daughter Isabella to cancer. He was recently presumed murdered by Jan, but he is one of the many people in Salem who are not really dead but living on an island somewhere. His widow Nicole, who paid Jan to kill him, is trying to seduce his grandson Brady.

Edward Quartermaine (Jed Allan), General Hospital

While Steve Hardy was the kindly patriarch for many years, his antithesis is Edward, head of the squabbling Quartermaine clan. Edward is a big tycoon of his company ELQ (named after himself). He does a lot of ruthless and unethical things in business and sometimes it has gotten him into trouble. Whenever his family is in trouble or has done something bad, he is worried more about the publicity and the effect on the company than about the person. He can be very grouchy to the point of curmudgeonliness. He cheated on his long-suffering wife Lila, but she was a saint (who else would put up with him?) and forgave him. He had two illegitimate children. Edward does love his family, even if he seldom shows it in the usual way. His daughter Tracy seems to have inherited all of this worst traits. He was hugely disappointed in his son Alan because he chose medicine rather than carrying on the family business. Tracy, as well as several of his children, have tried to fill that void, but truthfully no one seems to be able to live up to Edward's mercurial standards. He cuts people out of his will as quickly as most of us change our socks. He has had many heart attacks and also has faked a few to get sympathy or to test family members. He almost never agrees with his childrens' or grandchildren's choices in spouses, either. He was devoted to his wife and she seemed to be the only one who could shut him up when he was on one of his tirades. His crimes include: covering up the death of Lila's former husband when she killed him in self-defense; sold Skye Chandler at birth and arranged for her parents to think she died; and tried to kidnap his great-grandson Michael. Besides faking heart attacks, he has also faked his own death and his own mugging. He often uses bribery or intimidation to get what he wants.

Alan Spaulding (Ron Raines), Guiding Light

Alan is another rich man who has worked hard his whole life to build an empire and then use his power and wealth to get what he wants (which is usually more power and wealth). He has holdings in many different types of companies. Alan has had many lovers and affairs. He doesn't seem to have that one great lady that many soap patriarchs enjoy a lasting relationship with. His sister sort of fills that role in some ways. She seems to be just as ruthless as he is, in many ways. They often act together "for the good of the family" or the company. He illegally adopted his son Phillip and has tried to mold him in his own image. He lied to wife Elizabeth that her baby was not stillborn. He has Ross drugged and planted cocaine in his car. His misdeeds are too many to mention, but let's just say he has bribed, covered up, lied, cheated, and stole with the best of them. And like all the other soap tycoons on this page, he gets away with it without spending any time in jail or losing his company. Alan is very close to his sister, his sons, and his grandchildren. He values them but often manipulates them.

Asa Buchanan (Phil Carey), One Life to Live

Asa is a very colorful character who acts more like the big bad guy in a western movie than a real-life business person. He was no doubt modeled after Jock and J.R. of "Dallas". Asa comes from Texas and, while his business is a conglomerate, his original fortune was from oil. Asa has been married about 13 times and had many children. His likes to yell and roll over people, usually while threatening them in one way or another. Although Asa has enjoyed the good life for a long time, he still acts like the young rough guy that worked hard in the Texas oil fields. His family loves him but they often have trouble putting up with him, especially if he is insulting them or threatening to disown them. Age has not made Asa any less fearsome. Asa has committed perjury, threaten people with guns, hired a hit man to kill Ben (who turned out to be his own son!), cheated Max's father out of his land, and he kidnapped and imprisoned wife Olivia. Asa enjoys drinking bourbon almost as much as he enjoys throwing his fortune around. He's had many heart attacks but still seems to keep going. His latest wife (whom he's married twice) is Rene, who was his lover long ago (and an ex-madam). She puts up with him and tries to keep him from killing himself or others. His grandson Kevin runs Buchanan Enterprises now, but Asa still keeps involved in everything. Asa loves and defends his family often. He even has a soft spot for some of his ex-wives, and his son's ex-wives, and Max, whom he used to hate. Asa acts like his family is his castle and he will shoot anyone who tries to cross the moat without his permission.

Alistair Crane, Passions

Alistair is the very worst of the bunch. He is evil down to his soul. The audience never sees his face (although he has been cast and will be seen in September), just other parts of his body, especially his hands, which are often waving a cigar around or clenching his fist. Alistair is ruled by greed and hate. He stops at nothing, including murder, to get what he wants. I don't know how he can be so rich because he seems to spend most of his time trying to ruin other people's lives, rather than on business. While the others on this list often do what they do in the name of "family" or "good business", Alistair is just selfish and greedy. He has tried to kill his own daughter, Sheridan, many times, and has blackmailed his son into trying as well. He always insults his son, and others as well. When murder didn't work, he had his daughter kidnapped and brainwashed. He has hit men at his beck and call. He has tried to kill his wife and her lover, who have been hiding from him in Mexico. He kills people who let him down or to stop them from talking about his secrets. He has tried to destroy the entire family of Martin, the man who ran off with his wife. When his wife was with him, he insulted her and raped her. He stole his son Julian's baby many years ago and has kept the knowledge of the child secret from Julian and the baby's mother, Eve. He made sure that Julian married Ivy, someone whose family wealth he wanted, even though Julian didn't love her. He has used others to get what he wants, including psycho Beth and clueless Antonio. He blew up his very expensive jet, with Antonio on board, to try to kill Sheridan. He has bribed and blackmailed too many people to mention. He runs the whole town of Harmony and no one seems to be able to best him. I don't know why no one has tried to kill him. It would be difficult, though, because he always seems to be one step ahead of everyone. That may be because, along with all of his wealth and power, he also has hidden cameras and microphones all over town. I always think of Alistair as "Snidely Whiplash" from the old cartoons. That is because he is a one-dimensional character. If we could see his face, he would probably be twirling his mustache. He won't be interesting until he shows any sort of vulnerability or believability.

Victor Newman (Eric Braeden), The Young & The Restless

A word that is often used to describe Victor is "ruthless". He started off as being evil but has softened some over the years to the point where he's more a hero of the show than a villain. The other characters on the show often hate him, but the audience loves him and often roots for him. Like most soap magnates, he runs a huge conglomerate. The show has had many stories revolving around his business and the other companies he's had dealings with, such as Jabot. Boardroom politics are as important on the show as bedroom antics. Victor grew up as a poor orphan, so he's always had to fight hard to get what he wants, and he values the family he has created. Victor was very jealous when his first wife had a close friendship with another man, and he caused his wife to miscarry their baby by arguing at the top of the stairs. After she turned to the other man, he imprisoned that man in the basement. Then he tortured him. But Victor doesn't do things like that any more. The love of his life is Nikki Newman, a former stripper, but they have had a long and rocky relationship. They were married and divorced a few times. The other major woman in his life was Ashley Abbott, whom he had an affair with while married to Nikki the first time. Ashley got pregnant and aborted his baby, which ended their relationship. Years later, Ashley stole Victor's sperm from the sperm bank and got pregnant to make up for that earlier time, but she did it without telling Victor or anyone else. Now she is suffering the consequences of those actions from both Victor and her husband Brad. Victor's relationship with Ashley, as well as his taking over Jabot when it went public, have created life-long enemies in Ashley's brother Jack and her father John. Like most of the others on this page, Victor often uses his power and wealth to get his way and to intimidate others. He has blackmailed, faked his own death, lied, cheated, etc. but usually Victor is the winner and does not pay for his crimes.  Recently he was sentenced to community service for underhanded business tactics against Jabot, so Victor is spending a lot of time with wayward youth, which is quite a different side of him. He values his son and daughter, but his personal and business relationships with them often clash, creating problems.

Page updated 2/28/13

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