Fans say goodbye to beloved characters such as Susan Lucci's Erica Kane

By Liz Raftery Stephen M. Silverman
September 23, 2011 02:05 PM
Rick Rowell/ABC

Erica Kane – and the rest of Pine Valley – have left the building.

The final episode of ABC’s All My Children aired Friday, ending the soap opera’s 41-year run.

How did everything wrap up? Keep reading to find out:

It combined final elements of both Gone With the Wind (with Erica being told by Jack that he didn’t give a damn) and The Sopranos, with a Jack Daniels-fueled J.R. pulling the trigger into a packed party at the Chandlers’ … though viewers didn’t really know who was the target. (It seemed to be Erica.)

While such spawning career-defining characters as Susan Lucci’s indelible, 12-times-married Erica Kane, the show also launched the screen careers of Kelly Ripa, Sarah Michelle Gellar (who made a guest appearance this week), Josh Duhamel, Amanda Seyfried, Melissa Leo and others.

The beloved soap often embraced farcical storylines involving baby-switching, evil twins, amnesia, and the return of characters presumed to be dead. It was also groundbreaking, particularly in its early run during the 1970s, touching upon such once-taboo topics such as homosexuality and AIDS.

PHOTOS: All My Children’s 10 Most Memorable Weddings

In 1973, Erica Kane became the first TV character to have a legal abortion. (Beatrice Arthur’s Maude had an abortion on the CBS sitcom Maude the previous year.)

ABC announced the cancellation of both All My Children and One Life to Live earlier this year. The production company Prospect Park has announced plans to debut an online versions of the soaps in January; however, nothing has been finalized.

Susan Lucci as Erica Kane
Rick Rowell/ABC

For PEOPLE magazine’s behind-the-scenes coverage and a look at the 41-year history of All My Children, buy “People Celebrates All My Children” at