It's not often that the soaps are able to throw in a curveball or drop mahoosive bombshells that genuinely take us, the audience, by complete surprise. Why? Because it's actually bloody difficult to maintain a high level of secrecy without little plot details and location filming snaps getting leaked to the media (that's us – hi!).
But when these rare and unpredictable moments occur, we're always grateful not to have had any previous knowledge they were going to happen. It's fun to be kept on your toes once in a while, right?
Here are 10 standout story twists that had us staring at our screens in utter "did that just happen?" disbelief.
1. Kathy comes home (EastEnders)
As millions sat down to watch EastEnders' big 30th anniversary live episode, they were all waiting to find out who'd killed Lucy Beale (more on that later). What they weren't anticipating was seeing Kathy Beale come back from the dead. The OMFG moment was engineered for maximum effect, with only a handful of people in the know – even her comeback storyline was given the code OOF (our old friend).
Gillian Taylforth was also sworn to secrecy about returning to 'Enders nine years after her character had been killed off. The actress only let her partner into the secret and kept her son and daughter in the dark, meaning they actually missed watching their mum's momentous homecoming. Now that's what you call dedication!
2. Phelan holding Andy captive (Coronation Street)
This one definitely gets our vote for the biggest and best twist of 2017. Back in January, we were all convinced that evil Phelan had done away with Bistro waiter Andy after watching him cave his victim's head in with a laptop. How wrong we were! Fast forward seven months and it was revealed that Andy was still alive, and sporting some serious facial hair.
It transpired that Phelan had been holding him hostage in the basement of a derelict house. Corrie went to extraordinary lengths to ensure the explosive bombshell was dropped as the episode aired. Not only was actor Oliver Farnworth smuggled into filming in disguise, he was also banned from visiting any of his cast mates on set for fear of being spotted by the eagle-eyed paps. 10/10 for effort guys, you certainly pulled it off!
3. Holly's fatal overdose (Emmerdale)
If you want to watch a piece of stunningly flawless soap acting, then look no further than the moment when Moira found her daughter Holly dead in her bed from a heroin overdose. The harrowing turn of events was particularly poignant, as in the days and weeks leading up to her tragic relapse, it really looked as if Hols was beginning to beat her addiction.
Her sudden death came out of nowhere, and Emmerdale had purposely not hinted about any upcoming shock twists. Instead, the plot was played out beautifully, being dropped into what appeared to be just a normal episode. It made for compelling and heartbreaking viewing, and a further important reminder of the deadly consequences of drug addiction.
4. Archie raping Stacey, and her killing him (EastEnders)
It was one sick and twisted surprise after another in the case of Archie and Stacey. Back in 2010, fans were aghast when Stacey confessed to hubby Bradley that Ronnie and Roxy's poisonous pa had raped her, with many questioning if they had missed the episode where the attack took place. They hadn't, because 'Enders had only subtly hinted at foul play.
Weeks later, when Archie met his maker courtesy of the Queen Vic bust coming crashing down on his head, not many viewers twigged that Stacey was the person whodunit. It wasn't until the live episode the following year that the truth came out, with a tearful Stace 'fessing up to father-in-law Max. Although she'd been in the suspect line up, the true identity of Archie's killer had been hidden right up until the duff-duff.
5. Lynsey's murder (Hollyoaks)
We defy you to name a more out-of-the-blue soap death than Irish nurse Lynsey Nolan's. We still get goosebumps thinking of that cliffhanger scene when Brendan Brady returned home and discovered her lifeless body slumped on his sofa. As Lynsey was one of the most popular characters in the show, Hollyoaks decided it was only right she went out with a bang, and to create a real buzz, they opted not to release any spoilers.
Karen Hassan filmed her final scenes only three days before Lynsey's death was aired, and it proved to be a very canny move. Lyns's death sparked a massive whodunit storyline, which went on for a number of weeks, before it was finally revealed that dastardly Doctor Browning had done away with her.
6. Moira giving birth (Emmerdale)
It's a storyline that's been used in soap before, but a character giving birth to a baby they didn't even know they were expecting is always a guaranteed jaw-dropper. Viewers only had seconds to digest the news of Moira's pregnancy bombshell before arch nemesis Emma was delivering her bubba lying metres away from a blazing barn.
Stunned viewers took straight to social media to express their shock at the development, and place their bets on who Moira's baby daddy was. The discovery that it was Cain was less of a shock, but was a genius move from Emmerdale to try and start to bring one of our favourite ever couples back together.
7. James Willmott-Brown's return (EastEnders)
EastEnders know how to surprise and delight us with the return of ghosts from Walford past, and this year saw the comeback of 80s villain James Willmott-Brown. There had been countless speculation over who was masterminding Max's revenge mission, but no-one could have predicted in a million years it was wicked old Willmott-Brown.
It was worth the wait, however, as there hasn't been a dull week in E20 ever since. Rumours are now rife that Phil will murder Kathy's rapist at Christmas, but that all feels a little bit too obvious for us. We'd put money on there being further secret twists.
8. Tess's death (Emmerdale)
Perhaps we should have always known that Tess and Paddy's messy affair would end badly, but honestly who could have imagined the teaching assistant would be killed off after being run over by a drunken Kirin?
The storyline meant a sudden exit from the show for actress Nicola Stephenson (Tess), and news of Adam Fielding's (Kirin) imminent departure broke as soon as the high impact episode aired. The sensational plot twist also paved the way for a year's worth of nail-biting drama, which saw Rhona fall under the spell of Tess's evil hubby Pierce.
9. Walker being an undercover cop (Hollyoaks)
One of Hollyoaks' most memorable (and best) rivalries was the one between Brendan Brady and Simon Walker, made even juicier due to the revelation that Walker was an undercover policeman. There had been no hint made about Walker's occupation, but when the truth did come out, it explained a lot.
It transpired that Walker was baying for BB's blood after learning that the Irishman had supplied the drugs that had left his brother in a permanent vegetative state. Walker couldn't get the better of the moustached madman, who kicked him into the path of a train, killing him instantly.
10. Bobby being Lucy's secret killer (EastEnders)
We couldn't not include this shocker, purely because nearly three years on from the live reveal, we still can't get our heads around the idea of a little schoolkid killing his sister with a jewellery box. In one of soap's best kept secrets, EastEnders managed to keep us on the edge of our seats for nearly a year guessing who killed Lucy, with only a handful of cast and crew knowing the truth. And by making the crafty move of keeping Bobby off of the main suspect line up, they ensured that no one twigged too early.
Walford's answer to Damien got away with murder for months on end before he was finally forced to pay for his crimes. We're anticipating a return from the mini Beale sometime in the next couple of years... wonder if 'Enders will keep this comeback under wraps too?
Digital Spy Soap Scoop video – hit play below for all the latest EastEnders gossip, as Lauren makes a shocking discovery and a familiar face returns to see Whitney.
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