The end is nigh for Emmerdale's Meena Julta as her murderous rampage is about to reach a dramatic conclusion, but she is far from the first killer to grace soapland. Here are the most notorious soap serial killers ranked...
Having bumped off her best mate Nadine before she arrived in the village, Meena has gone on to claim the lives of Leanna Cavanagh, Andrea Tate and Ben Tucker. But will the sinister psychopath rack up any more victims before her reign of terror is finally over? She's currently on the run since her crimes were exposed... but will she be able to kill again before the police catch up with her?
Mad Meena is just one in a long line of soap serial killers, for who murder is as easy as making a morning cuppa. These nefarious baddies have been guilty of committing appalling crimes, and while there are one or two we love to hate, the others are so unhinged it's a good job they're either six feet under or safely behind bars.
Here's a look at the notorious soapy assassins who liked to kill again and again...
Gray Atkins — 'EastEnders'
Body count: 3
When hotshot lawyer Gray Atkins arrived on the Square in 2019 he seemed a model husband and adoring dad. But behind the handsome good looks and sharp suits lurked an evil domestic abuser. Gray frequently used coercive control to intimidate wife Chantelle and subjected her to brutal physical attacks. After enduring horrendous violence at his hands during lockdown, Chantelle found the courage to tell Gray she was leaving him. But he wasn't prepared to let her go, in a fit of rage pushed her onto their open dishwasher where she was impaled on a sharp knife blade.
Gray disguised Chantelle's death as a tragic accident, and after finding out how simple it was to get away with murder, he didn't hesitate in striking again. When Tina Carter recognised his abusive traits and threatened to call the police, Gray throttled her to death and dumped her body in a mystery location. His most recent victim was hunky market stall holder Kush Kazemi, who he shoved under a tube train in revenge for him dating Whitney.
But the net is closing in on the menacing solicitor as new missus Chelsea has wised up to his true nature and is working with Whit and Kheerat to bring him down. Will Gray claim any further lives before his final downfall?
Pat Phelan — 'Coronation Street'
Body count: 4
As it stands psychotic builder Pat Phelan is the most prolific killer in Coronation Street's 61-year history. The sinister Scouser first set foot on the cobbles in 2013 and quickly made enemies of several of the locals. Pat's first victim was Gail's hubby, Michael Rodwell - who he technically didn't murder, but took sadistic pleasure in watching him die of a heart attack.
Next up was a double whammy - Pat ordered Andy Carver, who he'd been holding captive in a dingy basement for eight months, to shoot his former business associate Vinny Ashford in exchange for his freedom. Andy did as he was told, only for evil Pat to go back on his promise and gun him down too. And when Andy's mate Luke Britton discovered evidence that implicated him in his friend's disappearance, Phelan solved that problem by burning the mechanic alive in his car.
After accidentally shooting his own daughter, Pat's reign of terror was finally brought to an end by Anna Windass when she stabbed him to death. And the Street's been a safer place ever since.
Lachlan White — 'Emmerdale'
Body count: 4
Spoilt little rich kid Lachlan White started out life in Emmerdale as something of a loner. But underneath the shy and moody exterior, there was a sinister mind at work.
After stalking Belle Dingle around the village, the young predator committed a sexual assault on Alicia Gallagher. Despite claiming Alicia was complicit, Lachlan was found guilty and given two years on the sex offender's register. With the lad growing increasingly unhinged, the White family staged an intervention and decided to take him away to Australia.
Lachlan had other ideas, and deliberately ploughed the family's car into an oncoming lorry, killing his mum Chrissie and grandad Lawrence. The wicked White wasn't finished yet. When Gerry Roberts threatened to expose his murderous secret, Lachlan smashed his former cellmate's skull in. He also disposed of Gerry's fake uncle Terry and buried his body in the woods.
His kill count would have been much higher, but several of Lachlan's intended targets - including his aunt Rebecca, stepdad Robert Sugden, and Belle Dingle were fortunate enough to escape his clutches.
Lachlan's still alive and serving time in a maximum state prison, meaning there's every chance of a comeback.
Richard Hillman — 'Coronation Street'
Body count: 3
Richard Hillman, aka Norman Bates with a briefcase, might just take the title of soap's most iconic serial killer. Gail thought she'd hit the jackpot when she started romancing the suave financial advisor, but old tricky Dicky had a dark side. After conning several of the older Street residents to 'invest' their savings, Richard sunk the money into his own flat development. And when his business partner Duggie Ferguson fell through the stair railing at the property, ruthless Richard chose not to ring for an ambulance, and instead swiped his house keys to loot his safe.
Soon afterwards, his future with Gail was threatened by the arrival of ex-wife Patricia, so Richard silenced her with a shovel to the head. He also tried to do away with Gail's suspicious mum, Audrey, but that particular murder attempt failed.
Richard then plotted to bludgeon widow Emily Bishop to death with a crowbar but was interrupted mid-attack by hairdresser Maxine Peacock, who became his third victim in harrowing scenes watched by millions of viewers.
Richard knew it was game over when Gail discovered his killing spree, and kidnapped her and her kids, driving their car into the Weatherfield canal. But while Gail, Sarah, and David lived to tell the terrifying tale, Richard met a watery end.
Nick Cotton — 'EastEnders'
Body count: 4
Dot's devilish son certainly lived up to his Nasty Nick moniker. When EastEnders hit our screens in February 1985, the opening scene saw the body of Reg Cox being discovered by his neighbours. It later transpired local wrong'un Nick had beaten and left Reg him for dead after stealing his war medals, making him the soaps' first-ever murderer.
The Cotton's second kill came six years later when he returned to Walford in the grips of a heroin addiction. Whilst trying to wean himself off the deadly drug, a late-night confrontation with Queen Vic landlord Eddie Royle resulted in Nick stabbing him to death. He was arrested and tried for Eddie's murder, but astonishingly the jury found him not guilty.
Nick went on to commit countless other dastardly deeds, including trying to bump off his poor ma and unwittingly claimed a further two lives. The first was in 2000 when he cut the brakes of Mark Fowler's motorbike, leading his own son Ashley to be killed instantly when he crashed the vehicle. And history repeated itself in 2015 when Nick tampered with Roxy Mitchell's car, resulting in her mowing down and killing Detective Emma Summerhayes. Nick met his own grisly end when he took a fatal heroin overdose and long-suffering Dot left him to snuff it.
Lindsey Roscoe — 'Hollyoaks'
Body count: 7
If you're going on body count, then Lindsey Roscoe, aka the 'Gloved Hand Killer', must be the baddest of them all. Over the space of 10 months, Hollyoaks' own Doctor Evil managed to slay no fewer than seven unfortunate souls, while they lay incapacitated in hospital. During all the murders the identity of the GHK remained a mystery and became one of Soapland's biggest ever whodunits with a huge list of suspects.
The victims themselves were all guilty of some wrongdoing, and their punishment was a lethal injection of potassium chloride. But after seven killings and the attempted murder of countless others, Lindsey was unmasked. It looked as if Linds was going to get away with it after she framed former gangster Trevor Royle for her crimes, but fellow serial killer Silas Blissett had other ideas. Having discovered a few unsavoury secrets from Lindsey's past, Si decided she couldn't be spared and strangled her to death.
Cameron Murray — 'Emmerdale'
Body count: 3
Back in 2011, Cameron relocated from Jersey to Emmerdale after leaving his wife and kids to shack up with new lover Debbie Dingle. Cam was obviously a serial cheat, but no one had him down as a malevolent murderer. That all changed when Carl King found out Cameron was having an affair with Debbie's aunt Chas and threatened to spill the beans. Sick of Carl's constant taunts, Cameron eventually snapped and bashed his brains in with a brick. From then on no one was safe.
After making the mistake of confessing his guilty secret to best mate Alex Moss, Cameron decided the only way to keep him quiet was to kill him. Seemingly unable to keep his mouth shut, Cam admitted to Debbie he'd killed Carl but was overheard by Gennie Sharma. A frantic car chase ensued and when Gennie lost control of her vehicle, Cameron rushed to the scene of the accident and quickly finished her off.
But Cameron's final act came when he orchestrated a siege in the Woolpack. During a week of spectacular episodes, the shotgun-wielding madman put a bullet in Alicia, then trapped Debbie and Chas in the flooded pub cellar. But instead of exterminating his exes, Cameron ended up electrocuting himself on a wet light bulb.
John Stape — 'Coronation Street'
Body count: 2
When English teacher John Stape arrived in Weatherfield in 2007 he seemed something of a geeky bore. Which is why it came as a shock when he started a steamy affair with student Rosie Webster. Their illegal fling led to John losing his job and serving time inside, but following his stint in jail, John was determined to reclaim his former career.
The scheming Snape stole the identity of ex-colleague, Colin Fishwick, who was moving to Canada. Everything was fine until Colin suddenly returned, and dropped down dead while confronting John. Instead of getting help, John and his colleague Charlotte, who was in on the scam, buried Colin's corpse under the foundations of Underworld.
John's next challenge was keeping an increasingly unstable Charlotte quiet, which he managed by fatally attacking her with a hammer, and making it look as if she'd died in the Weatherfield tram crash.
His next and final victim was Colin's elderly mother, Joy, who he accidentally smothered after she'd found out the truth about her son. John then embarked on a crazy kidnapping spree, holding Chesney and Charlotte's parents hostage, and snatching his own daughter, Hope. The madness all came to an end during a dramatic car chase when John crashed his vehicle and succumbed to his injuries.
Lucas Johnson — 'EastEnders'
Body count: 4
Lucas Johnson was introduced to audiences as a reformed criminal turned religious preacher, but he was far more of a sinner than a saint. The supposed holy man committed his first murder when he got involved in a violent tussle with estranged wife Trina. As their quarrel escalated, Lucas pushed Trina onto a rake in Charlie Slater's shed, and the sharp garden tool impaled her throat. Deciding not to call the emergency services, Lucas left Trina to perish and breathed a sigh of relief when the coroner delivered a verdict of accidental death.
Thinking he'd got away with it, Lucas was looking forward to marrying Denise, until her ex Owen Turner threatened to expose his dark secret on their wedding day. The solution? Lucas strangled Owen and buried his body in the Square under the tree planted in Trina's memory. No person, or creature, was seemingly safe from loopy Lucas, and he went as far as killing his son's pet pooch Sugar when he noticed the mutt sniffing around Owen's burial site.
When Denise discovered what kind of man she'd married, Lucas held her hostage, and ruthlessly strangled prostitute Gemma Charleston, passing off her body as his missing wife's. Dee survived her ordeal and Lucas was sentenced to life in prison in 2011, only to return to Walford nine years later. He's now back behind bars after getting caught smuggling drugs for daughter Chelsea.
Tracy McDonald — 'Coronation Street'
Body count: 3
Tracy McDonald may have slightly mellowed in recent years, but don't be fooled - this lady has murderous form. Back in 2007, Trace was heartbroken to discover her boyfriend Charlie Stubbs had been sleeping with hairdresser Maria. Instead of just giving him his marching orders, Tracy decided to take her revenge in the deadliest way possible. Having already spread rumours that Charlie had been abusing her, the florist staged a seduction scene in their house. And when Charlie moved in for a kiss, Tracy responded by caving his head in with an ornament.
After serving just three (yes, three!) years in prison for the premeditated murder, Tracy strutted back into Weatherfield as if the whole thing never happened. There haven't been any cold-blooded killings since, but Tracy has another two deaths on her conscience, after starting a fire in Victoria Court that claimed the lives of Kal Nazir and Maddie Heath back in 2015.
Janine Butcher — 'EastEnders'
Body count: 3
Janine might as well be renamed the black widow of Walford, having bumped off not one, but two of her previous husbands. Frank's daughter was always a spoilt brat but graduated from a self-centered madam to a cold-blooded murderer.
Janine's desire for money led her to marry hapless car salesman Barry Evans, but 24 hours after their wedding she decided she wanted out. During a showdown in the Scottish Highlands, Janine pushed Barry off a cliff and sat back watching while he drew his final breath. Nice.
Janine's second kill in 2008 was manslaughter, when she ran over Ronnie Mitchell's long-lost daughter, Danielle, breaking millions of viewers' hearts. But the former hooker was back to her evil best when she stabbed her husband Michael Moon to death and tried to frame Alice Branning for the crime.
Somehow, Janine managed to escape conviction - again! - and left London for Paris. She returned home last year, and so far her worst crime has been destroying Mick and Linda Carter's marriage. Whether Janine will kill again remains to be seen, but one thing's for sure - she's deliciously fun to watch.
Laura has been a journalist for over a decade, writing about soaps, TV entertainment, fashion, beauty, and food. After graduating from university, she started her career working at a national soap and TV magazine. During her seven-year stint there she joined the cast of Emmerdale for a tour around the famous village, partied with soap stars at awards bashes, interviewed her acting idol David Suchet, and sat in the front row of Strictly Come Dancing.
Her heart lies with the soaps, and her all-time favourite character has to be EastEnders' Pat Butcher - no one rocked a big earring quite like her. She's also a huge fan of detective crime dramas, particularly old school Inspector Morse, Endeavour, and adaptations of Agatha Christie's Marple and Poirot. When she's not writing, she loves a spot of second-hand shopping and going on adventures with her young son.
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