On "General Hospital," the villain family has been the clan Cassadine since 1981. They die, they come back from the dead, they die again. And figuring out their family tree would even be a strain for a professional genealogist.

'General Hospital's' original Cassadines

Once, there were only a few of them. In 1981, we met the evil Mikkos and his two sons, Anthony and Victor. Then we met their formidable mother, Helena Cassadine, in the person of Elizabeth Taylor. The show was so popular at that time, yes, Elizabeth Taylor agreed to appear.

When Helena was dying (she would do that more than once), an unknown actress played her on her deathbed when Luke attempted to elicit information from her. In 1997, she appeared as the elegant, beautiful Constance Towers, who made the role her own; others joined her, and some established characters were revealed to be related to the family.

Valentin, the latest Cassadine, finally debuts on 'General Hospital'

Since 2016, there's been a "new" Cassadine on the block, Valentin. But Valentin isn't actually new.

His name was first uttered in 2009 when Helena was so terrified of him that she summoned Luke Spencer.

Valentin was Helena's stepson, rejected by his father Mikkos and cut off from the Cassadine wealth. Helena requested Valentin's help dealing with her grandson Nikolas. She was horrified when instead, Valentin took control of the entire Cassadine Island and poisoned her.

Though she didn't deserve it, Nikolas arrived in time to save both Luke and Helena.

According to Helena, Valentin was set on destroying the Cassadine family and anyone related to them. Scary. Family members believed that Valentin didn't exist or was deceased, and Helena just used his name as a threat.

Originally, actor Matt Borlenghi was hired as Valentin. Never happened; the entire story arc was dropped. In 2016, a former actor on "All My Children," James Patrick Stuart, was hired as a character named Theo, who in actuality was Valentin.

It's important to realize that in all the times Valentin was described, it was always as “Valentin, the most evil of all Cassadines.”

Valentin, the most evil of all Cassadines - seriously?

Valentin might have been a monster -- it is true he has done some bad things. But monster and the embodiment of evil? Later on, he might morph into one. But James Patrick Stuart is so popular in the role, the suspicion is the writers softened him up when they saw the actor's success. It seems likely.

Stuart has fleshed the role out as well and given him depth with the help of a sympathetic backstory. Though we aren't always sure of Valentin, we do know that he loves his daughter Charlotte and appears to be deeply in love with Nina.

The highlight of the 2017 Nurses Ball was his performance of the Billy Joel song "And So It Goes" to her. It is hard to believe he scared Helena since she was so evil herself.

Despite some nice qualities, there are possible wrongdoings by Valentin on the horizon, as Soap Central pointed out. An unwelcome blackmailing sister, Cassandra, has appeared. And does he have any involvement in the "Patient Six" debacle? Maybe. Somehow, though, I think Valentin will find a way to stay in Port Charles.

This is what happens when the writers plan one thing and wind up doing another because an actor catches the imagination of the audience.

James Patrick Stuart has done more than that. He's has changed the character's trajectory, and he has proven to be a real asset to "General Hospital."

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