Folks, I love a good villain. In fact, some of my favorite characters are the morally corrupt and wicked souls of soapdom. If not for the villains, the "good" guys wouldn't shine as they do nor would they have much to do other than sleep around and get into each other's business, which I think would quickly grow tedious.
It's the villain who spices things up -- and often makes the slightly less flawed people look heroic. However, there are different degrees of villainy, especially when it comes to soap operas. As I said, all the characters are flawed, including many of the children. Michael is a perfect example of the perils of being a soap opera child, especially when men like his ruthless grandfather Edward Quartermaine were considered paragons of society, even though Edward was anything but. Then we have mob boss Sonny Corinthos and his enforcer, Jason Morgan, who are technically bad guys, but they are also the first people that the people -- and often the police -- turn to when they need help or backup.
Finally, there are the true evildoers -- the ones who commit vile deeds without the slightest bit of remorse. Often, they outwit everyone and live to terrorize another day. These are the villains who are completely beyond redemption -- or are they? Let's find out.
At the very top of my evil fandom is the incomparable Helena Cassadine, Queen of the Damned, Mistress of Evil, and the best soap opera villainess ever created. Her first portrayer was Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor. Constance Towers soon followed, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Not much is known about Helena's life prior to her marriage to exiled Russian prince Mikkos Cassadine, so it's unclear what exactly led to the darkness in the area where Helena's heart should be, but she did have an itty-bitty soft spot in that black and shriveled soul of hers for her firstborn son, Stavros. To a lesser degree, that feeling was extended to his progeny Nikolas and to Nikolas' son, Spencer, but the lion's share of any tender feelings that Helena possessed were reserved for Stavros.
It speaks volumes that Helena didn't try to kill Stavros, because she was certainly capable of it, and he was always way more trouble than she expected. She had no qualms about throwing her second son, Valentin, to the wolves by lying about his parentage then allowing him to be shipped off to a remote boarding school where he was tormented and tortured until he grew old enough to kill the headmaster and burn the hellhole to the ground. She also made repeated attempts on the life of her third son, Stefan, and Helena murdered her daughter, Cassandra. Helena coveted power, and she refused to let anything stand in the way of that, including her biological children. She owned what she was, and she gave zero figs what people thought.
What made Helena such a chilling character, though, was that she had incredible Machiavellian powers of persuasion. Once, she convinced a young woman (Emily Quartermaine) that a deadly curse had been placed to slowly sap Emily of life. Luckily, Nikolas was able to whisk his lady love to a special garden in Greece where true love's kiss cured the dying Emily of Helena's evil sorcery.
Additionally, Helena had access to a vast sum of money, and she wielded considerable sway over people in positions of power, which is why she had managed to have a long and illustrious career as a super villain while hardly spending any time in jail. That's quite the impressive feat, given some of the horrendous things that Helena had done in the name of gaining control of the Cassadine empire.
In the end, it was age -- and possibly some poison -- that finally did Helena in. Well, sort of, because, even in death, Helena has managed to shake things up. She not only had people running around trying to unravel the riddles she had spun in her last will and testament, but she also managed to upend Valentin's life when it was revealed that he was the son of Helena and an unknown lover rather than the illegitimate offspring of patriarch Mikkos Cassadine (John Colicos) and a maid.
For reasons that remain a mystery, Helena never claimed her most ruthless child, even after Valentin had the surgery to address his birth defects. Instead, she allowed him -- and the world -- to believe that he'd been Mikkos' "bastard" child, which had set Valentin on a path of revenge and destruction where she was often his target. I can't wait until Valentin decides to dig into the origins of his birth. There's a fascinating story there, I'm certain of it.
While we are on the Cassadines, there's one other Cassadine who earned a place on my list of truly evil people to roam the halls of General Hospital.
Stavros Cassadine (Robert Kelker-Kelly) should have been named Damien because he's what happens when two diabolical people raise a child in their own twisted image. Stavros was not only relentlessly cruel, but he kept returning from the dead, which made it rather difficult to vanquish him. Many have tried, starting with Luke Spencer.
Stavros (originally portrayed by John Martinuzzi in 1983) became obsessed with Laura Webber back in the 1980s. That obsession was only inflamed by the fact that she was out of his reach because she was married to Luke Spencer, a man that she had deeply loved. Laura had no interest in the creepy Cassadine prince who grew up on a private island in Greece, having his every whim catered to by a staff, while his parents spent most of their time plotting mayhem and world domination.
Murder, kidnapping, rape, and blackmail were child's play to Stavros. There was nothing that he wouldn't do to get what he wanted. For decades, he wanted Laura, but then his obsession shifted to the younger version of his fatal attraction, Laura's daughter, Lulu. During Lulu's captivity, Stavros stole Lulu's eggs to create a child with her. Blessedly, Stavros was sterile from all those years in a cryogenic stasis recovering from what should have been fatal injuries, but that didn't stop his doting mama from finding a way to appease her favorite son. Helena had one of those eggs fertilized with a stolen contribution from her only other living son -- Valentin.
Stavros is dead, for now. However, I wouldn't count him out. As I said, Cassadines are really hard to kill.
When it comes to scary dudes, Ryan Chamberlain (Jon Lindstrom) is at the very top of my list. He's a serial killer who doesn't really need a reason to kill. He likes to keep trophies, torment his victims' loved ones, and pretty much kill anyone for any reason, but he prefers women. Some, he becomes fixated on before he kills, but without exception, all were dead the minute they met him. He kills because he enjoys it.
The added danger with Ryan is his ability to hide in plain sight, thanks to his identical twin brother, Kevin Collins (Jon Lindstrom is a truly brilliant actor), whom he can impersonate with ease. Kevin is everything that Ryan pretends to be -- decent, kind, and, above all, loved and respected. Unfortunately, Kevin is also one of Ryan's favorite victims to target. It took Kevin decades to finally accept that Ryan is irrevocably damaged, in large part because their mentally ill mother had created a monster when she had sexually molested Ryan throughout his childhood until he killed her.
Through the years, Ryan has posed as Kevin to rain terror on poor unsuspecting women. The last time was when Kevin found himself on the wrong side of Ryan's sedative in a facility for the criminally insane. During that killing spree, Ryan managed to seduce a new obsession and ruthlessly slay her daughter. Ryan can never be redeemed because he's incapable of feeling or even understanding emotions. He can emulate them, but only to a point. Even that proves to be challenging when it's over an extended period of time.
Currently, Ryan is locked up in Pentonville, minus a kidney and nursing a resentment for all those who have kept him from his "beloved" Ava Jerome. It's only a matter of time before he escapes because, as I said, he's intelligent. He will find a way out, by hook or by crook.
Heather Grant Webber (Robin Mattson) is the kind of crazy that many believe was self-induced when she inadvertently drank a tainted cup of tea meant for her rival Diana Taylor. Poor Diana had the misfortune of adopting Heather's baby boy on the black market, and Heather wanted him back, which meant that Diana was in the way. It's easy to blame Heather's descent into madness on the overdose of LSD she consumed, but the truth is, there were signs of Heather's mental illness long before that fateful afternoon with Diana. If anything, the LSD amplified Heather's madness.
Heather not only has an incredibly long history in Port Charles, but both of her sons have ties there. Nurse Elizabeth Webber is one of Steven Lars's younger paternal sisters, and Franco Baldwin is currently married to Liz. Fear not; Franco's father turned out to be Scott Baldwin, so he's not related to Liz in any way other than marriage -- and they both share the same brother.
As long as there's breath left in Heather's body, she's going to keep trying to reunite with one of her sons. Since Steven is also locked up behind bars (he sacrificed the life of a felon to save the life of a dying teen), that poor victim -- err, I mean child -- is going to be Franco.
Heather is not someone to mess with. She takes offense at the slightest things, and she enjoys playing with her victims before she kills them. Most, foolishly, underestimate her, which usually ends badly for them. Any bouts of sanity are fleeting and most likely a calculated attempt to further one of her elaborate plots.
That brings me to my final selection and my bad boy crush. Every true soap fan has that one character -- man or woman -- whom they love despite the character's considerable flaws. Just wait until you see who Tamilu picked!
Clearly, my feelings for Franco were purely superficial. I'm a James Franco fan, and the story that the writers crafted for him was both fascinating and exciting. Also, I was a huge fan of the show Dexter, so I was predisposed to at least have an open mind about what might be driving Franco to do the things that he was accused of and later shown to do. Admittedly, I also loved the fact that someone was able to outwit both Sonny and Jason. It's not that I dislike Sonny and Jason, but they are hardly in a position to judge a serial killer, given that I'm fairly certain each has killed twice as many people as Franco did.
Franco was a serial killer with a specific modus operandi. He liked to leave his tag, CO77X, at the scene of the elaborately staged crime. It would later be revealed that CO77X had been his booking number years earlier when Dante Falconeri had arrested Franco for creating graffiti art on the streets. Franco considered the booking number to be a message because "CO" were the last two letters of his name; "77" was a sign of twins, which he believed that he and Jason were; and "X" was the symbol for death.
Franco's reign of terror not only claimed numerous lives, but it left deep physical and phycological scars on the survivors, including Michael, who at just 18 ended up viciously raped in prison by an intimidating inmate named Carter. Franco had hired Carter to watch over Michael. Sam was another victim of Franco's master manipulations when he drugged her and made it appear that he had sexually assaulted her. To add to Sam's torture, he made certain that she and Jason had reason to believe that Franco was the father of the baby that she conceived during her honeymoon with Jason. Years later, it would be revealed that Jason was the father, but the damage was done.
Franco always managed to stay a step ahead of everyone, which made his appearances on the show more harrowing because he always left a path of destruction in his wake. He had amassed a fortune (a necessity for an arch villain) through his grisly "murder" art, so he could vanish for long periods of times.
Everything changed when Roger Howarth took over the role. I adore Roger, but I was not happy when they gave Franco the brain tumor defense for all his homicidal and villainous behavior. I understand why it was necessary, but I wish they had opted to recast another role or even create a new one altogether for Roger, since the current Franco is nothing like the Franco we were first introduced to.
Don't get me wrong! I love Franco now, but when I think of Franco, I see him as two separate characters: Evil brain-tumor Franco and Franco Baldwin, troubled son of Heather Webber and Scott Baldwin. It took a long time for me to warm to the latter, but I in no way blame Roger for that. In fact, he's the reason that I eventually grew to like Franco again, but it was a journey.
Dear Readers, it's October, and we all know what that means -- Halloween is coming. This year's Halloween celebration may look a little different for you. So, my fellow Two Scooper Liz and I decided we should do a super-sized Two Scoopsapalooza column on GH villains to help put you into the spooky Halloween mood. Fun fact: Two Scoops started back in the 1990s and got its name because each weekly column featured opinions from two columnists. Nowadays, we alternate weeks. So, consider this a special weeklong Throwback Thursday-style column.
You've read Liz's top five picks, and now it's my turn. You should probably know that she and I fought over who would lay claim to which baddies. There were threats of cryogenic chambers and a bunch of Britchslaps, but eventually, we came together over some tasty BLTs and reached an agreement.
I'm going to begin with my favorite all-time GH villain -- Caesar Faison. We first met him as a cigarillo-smoking author named P.K. Sinclair, who moved to Spoon Island to take up residence in Wyndemere.
P.K. Sinclair was a renowned author, and Lila Q was a fan of his mysteries. But the greatest mystery was P.K. himself. Who was he? Why was he so enchanted by little Robin? When Anna walked in and got that first glimpse of him, I was hooked with what I perceived to be a mix of fear and desire.
Faison was a villain, a DVX associate of Anna's who knew that she double-crossed the WSB and that he was a threat to her because he knew her secrets. He wanted her, and she was the one thing he could never resist.
I don't mind admitting that I had an intense villain crush on him. First, that sexy accent...I'm a sucker for an accent. The castle, the Champagne, the way he looked at her... He reminded me of the Phantom of the Opera, where part of you is terrified of him, and part of you wants to strip down and take him to bed. (Or is that just me?)
Here is an old scene of Anna and Faison from 1990; I think it will give you a glimpse into Faison's romantic side.
To be honest, I hope we find out that Anna really is Peter's mom and that we discover that Faison got to sleep with her at least once. All that pining with no resolution is too much for my heart to bear.
I think Anders Hove is a sexy beast, both then and now. I pray Faison is not really dead and that he'll be back to kidnap Anna one more time before she marries Finn. (Unless Hayden comes back, and Anna does not marry Finn.)
He even went so far as to kidnap Robin and impersonate Anna's one great love, Duke Lavery, wearing a Duke mask. I mean, that's commitment!
These are the kinds of scenes I live for on soaps. The campier, the better. I love those big reveal scenes on soaps -- I am one of those people who scream at my T.V. in scenes like this.
Those storylines thrill and delight me. The one thing lacking in the current storyline is that Cyrus is such a one-note villain so far. So, Jordan wronged him years ago, before T.J. was born, and now, he suddenly shows up in Port Charles to seek revenge? Why did she get a pass for the past 20 years? Give me some obsession mixed with some intrigue mixed with some creepy romantic undertones.
Faison brought all that and more. He was dark, charming, and deceptive. Faison was Barnabas Collins without the fangs. He was intelligent enough to hide in plain sight as a famous author but foolish enough to be played by the object of his obsession. Imagine finding out years down the road that Stephen King was, in fact, a serial killer and that all of his books were based on his actual crimes! Every time Faison came on-screen, I sat up a little to make sure I didn't miss a single second of his gloriously twisted and sexy brand of evil.
He will always be my favorite GH villain. He was both scary and sexy, both twisted and tortured, heartless and heartbroken. I wanted to see him in handcuffs, and I wanted him to win in equal measure. He was the perfect soap opera villain. But I would be remiss to leave it there because he has an entire creepy family to discuss!
Faison was to Anna as Dr. Liesl Obrecht was to Faison. Liesl's obsession with Faison knew no bounds. Her one guiding principle in life was to aid Faison in his evildoing to try to turn his head away from Anna and to convince him to cast his gaze upon her. Dr. Obrecht wanted Faison to love her so severely that she committed many evil deeds to help him in his plots. Still, despite her best nasty sidekick tricks, he never did.
Faison used and abused her. He tormented and ridiculed her. He played with her like a cat plays with a mouse. Liesl bore Faison two children, one of whom was the stand-up boy scout Nathan West. Nathan is definitely a notch in the belt of the Nature vs. Nurture debate. Although Nathan came from the wicked gene pool of Faison and Liesl, he ended up being a decent man, not having been raised by his biological parents. Liesl and Faison are also the parents of the woman nicknamed the Britch, Britt Westbourne. But we will discuss her more a little later.
We first met Dr. O at a clinic in Switzerland. She was an evil doctor/scientist holding Robin Scorpio hostage. We thought she was just another stooge, another of Faison's dark partners. Still, over the past eight years, we have watched Liesl morph from a true Faison devotee into a regretful woman who truly loves her kids and grandkids. Liesl is still a little rough around the edges, but she realizes now how much her obsession with Faison, a man who never loved her back, cost her. She has flawed thinking but good intentions. Is she still a villain? I think she is still capable of evil actions, but I don't think they are her first impulse any longer.
Liesl's BFF is Franco, and she was a fan of his while he was a serial killer. Liesl is drawn to evil but has somehow learned to push it away in the pursuit of love and family. She has villainous instincts, but after Nathan's death, she has spent a lot of time and work trying to redeem herself to be an "Oma" (grandma) to James.
Kathleen Gati is a sparkling gem. She is hilarious and often used as comic relief. Still, she is also soulful and heartbreaking, and when Liesl cries, I cry. She can sing, she can act, she's fluent in both comedy and tragedy. I don't know if GH realized how magnificent she was when they initially hired her, but they certainly know now. I am so thankful she is back on the canvas this week.
Now, back to Britt. Like her mother, she can be hilarious. I recall one great scene where Britt and her scheming BFF, Brad Cooper, were lying on the bed, mocking all the arrivals to the Nurses Ball one year. She isn't so much pure evil as she is selfish, opportunistic, and self-serving. The Britch isn't out randomly murdering people like Ryan Collins. Still, if you got in the way of something she wanted, bad things would definitely come your way.
Britt stole Lulu and Dante's embryo and impregnated herself, kept the baby, named him Ben, and got engaged to Lulu's brother Nikolas.
Britt likes to torment weaker people; she earned her Britch nickname. When Britt pined for Patrick Drake, she took aim at poor innocent Sabrina Santiago. Now that Britt is chief of staff at GH, there is no doubt the not-so-good doctor will use her position and power to torment her enemies and get revenge on people who have wronged her. But again, she's a lite villain -- she's not evil. If she finds out Cyrus is a drug dealer and wants to use the hospital to pedal his poison, she won't participate. So, I expect to see her wrestle with her desire for power versus her more profound good. Like her mother, the angel is in her, just buried a little. She was in love with Nikolas once. Will she set her sights on him and try to take on Ava? She would undoubtedly have Spencer's vote. He adored Britt. Wow, that would be a rumble worth seeing. Catfights galore. Bring it on.
Britt's half-brother Peter, on the other hand, is the opposite. While Britt is in your face with her snarky brand of evil, Peter pretends to be an upstanding citizen but is a snake in private. Peter is the guy who kept Jason captive for five years, supposedly to save him. Peter is the guy who is responsible for Drew Cain's disappearance. Note I didn't say death, because I am unconvinced that he's really gone. I will keep patiently waiting for him to show up someday.
Peter has Maxie convinced that he's changed and that his sinful ways are behind him. Still, basically, every time she leaves the room, he's plotting something. He had Shiloh killed. He tried to kill Andre and Franco. Maxie will be crushed when she discovers she trusted the wrong guy again. (Can anyone say Levi?) Spinelli and Jason are onto him, and now Dante is headed back to Port Charles to investigate Peter and Anna. Robert has Peter in his sights. Who will catch him, and what will happen when they do? Will Peter reclaim his original name of Heinrik Faison, grow his hair, and start smoking cigarillos? Maxie Jones has a huge heart, but I'm unsure that even she can trust Peter after so much deception.
Wes Ramsey has done an excellent job balancing his gentle, soft-spoken Peter with his dastardly villain persona. Still, I confess I'm not so invested in his relationship with Maxie. I would rather see Peter with a badass. If only Britt wasn't his sister, they'd be a great team. I would love to discover that Nathan isn't really dead and for him to come back to Maxie. Isn't Ryan Paevey done filming Hallmark Christmas movies yet?
And finally, I'm going to hit on the villain who currently owns my heart:
Valentin is lethal to his enemies. He's ruthless in business. He's wounded in his soul. He has the capacity for many sinister endeavors. But he's also gentle. He has shown compassion to Alexis in her time of need. He still carries a torch for Nina. He's got a soft spot for Anna, despite all the ways she has betrayed him.
Valentin radiates tenderness. Valentin is romantic and loving, and a gentle daddy to Charlotte. He speaks French. Thanks to the musical gifting of James Patrick Stuart, Valentin plays the piano and sings love songs that make your soul melt. He even invented a daughter out of thin air to make his childless wife happy. How can I hate him? I can't.
I know he can't be trusted, but if I were Nina, he'd be forgiven by now, and I'd be marrying him again. But, you know, I can't help it. Faison ruined me decades ago. I can't resist a heartsick, tortured soap villain.
What are your thoughts on General Hospital? What did you think of this week's Two Scoops? We want to hear from you -- so drop your comments in the Comments section below, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, or chat about it on our Message Boards.