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Telenovela is the Spanish and Portuguese word for soap opera.

Spanish language soap operas, or telenovelas, are produced in all Spanish speaking countries, and the United States. Portuguese language telenovelas made in Brazil are also dubbed into Spanish for the Hispanic American market. Some of the most famous telenovelas have come from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela. In Spain they are also called culebrón ("big snake") because of the large number of episodes, usually in the hundreds. However, unlike their American soap opera counterparts, which can endure for decades with an ever rotating cast of players and characters, most Latin American telenovelas have an average run of three months, and have few cast changes within the course of a series.

Telenovelas are not only immensly popular in Latin America, Spain, and in Hispanic communities in the United States, but also have a wide following in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Japan as well.

Some of the most famous telenovelas in history are: Simplemente María, Los ricos también lloran, Volver a Empezar and El Premio Mayor, from Mexico, Pinina and Amándote, both from Argentina, Betty La Fea from Colombia,Cazando a un Millonario, from Peru, Yo Se Que Mentia, Coralito, Vivir Para Ti, Amanda Guzman, Culpable, Poquita Cosa, Cristina Bazan and Tanairi in Puerto Rico and Kassandra and Cara Sucia, from Venezuela. Arguably the most popular and influential telenovela ever was Simplemente María, which also gained popularity outside of Spanish-speaking regions. The last Puerto Rican produced telenovela was in 1989.

In Venezuela they are usually produced by Venevision or Radio Caracas Television, in Mexico by Televisa and Tv Azteca, in Puerto Rico, they were produced by WAPA-TV or Telemundo Puerto Rico. In the United States, Telemundo is a big producer of Spanish Telenovelas.

Some of the famous actors and actresses who have made their mark in these shows include: