'All My Children' signs off -- or does it?

Alicia Minshew, Thorsten Kaye and Jordi Vilasuso in

Alicia Minshew, Thorsten Kaye and Jordi Vilasuso in the final episode of ABC Daytime's "All My Children" taped on August 30, 2011. (Credit: ABC)

Soap operas die, and fans attended the funeral for a particularly beloved one Friday. But did "All My Children," which wrapped 41 years at ABC, really expire?

"AMC" was long known for its social consciousness, but also for some of creator Agnes Nixon's puckish sense of humor. Friday may have been her broad wink to fans, and likely not the last one, either. "We'll be back," it seemed to say. Just like Dixie (Cady McClain) and Stuart (David Canary). Presumed dead, the longtime characters had been resurrected (just in time for the final episodes) by a miracle "cure." Why not a miracle for "AMC" itself?

That could come in the form of the Internet. Prospect Park, a production company, has announced plans to bring the soap to the Web -- no launch date announced -- so dangling story lines were left dangling. After Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) for once declined yet another attempt at sacred matrimony, her beloved, Jackson Montgomery (Walt Willey), stormed off, telling her "Frankly, Erica, I don't give a damn." Snippy Opal Cortlandt (Jill Larson) scoffed, "You'll never get him back."

"Just watch me!" said La Lucci with a soap-operatic flourish, and this modern-day Scarlett O'Hara charged after her man.

Those were the last words, but not the last sound. A gun went off. J.R. Chandler (Jacob Young) -- in these waning days, somewhat deranged because his beloved Babe had been killed by a tornado a few years ago, while his fortune had been lost and his son taken from him -- had shot someone.

But who?

That was (yes, really) the fun of Friday's wrap. If "AMC's" new owners can't come to financial terms with a specific member of the cast, then you can probably assume that person was the victim. (Lucci has yet to come to terms with the producers.)

For those viewers who wanted closure -- or at least to shed some tears -- beloved denizen of Pine Valley and all-around good guy Tad Martin (Michael E. Knight), provided the opportunity.

He looked around at those dearly beloved gathered at the party for Stuart, and said: "Neighbors, family and friends. I've found all of them here. This is my home, the best years of my life."

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