stefano, johnny, chanel, allie, tony, ej, anna, paulina mashup, days, jpi
Credit: John Paschal/JPI, Jill Johnson/JPI (4)

Yes, it’s true. Evil never dies. 

For those who haven’t heard, we’re kind of loving Days of Our Lives’ possessed Johnny in ways we could never quite manage with his predecessor, MarDevil. For one thing, JoDevil just feels more high-stakes than she ever did.

Plus, that red suit is so dang sleek.

More: Galen Gering confirms that he has Covid

The thing is, after just a few days, Susan has figured out that her grandson’s been possessed (and confronted him already, because that’s always worked out for her… ), and Days of Our Lives seems to like teasing that everyone around Johnny appears to be thisclose to realizing that he’s taken a turn for the demonic. So that makes us worry about just how long we’ll actually get JoDevil hanging around — which is a shame!

Watching a DiMera wreak havoc on folks’ lives is, to be frank, so much more satisfying than watching our beloved Doc do it. In fact, the show itself acknowledged this in Monday’s episode when EJ went to see just what the devil was up to with his son after dumping poor Chanel. JoDevil said he was just speaking up and being honest.

“In a rather public way that was rather cruel, cold,” EJ replied.

“DiMera-like?” Johnny asked.

“You could say that,” EJ admitted. “But also brave.”

OK, maybe we wouldn’t have gone with “brave,” but then we don’t hail from as callous a family as EJ and Johnny. “Bold,” though, now that we could go for. That and “cruel” are two things that have definitely been missing from the DiMera clan lately. But at one point, they were the family’s defining characteristics — at least when Stefano was in charge.

An Unbearable Loss

Joe MascoloJoe Mascolo Photo ShootJPI Studio2/7/00© John Paschal/JPI310-657-9661

Above: They don’t make ’em like they used to.

Credit: John Paschal/JPI

More: Marci Miller’s wish for ‘Chabby’

Let’s face it, there’s been a villain-shaped hole in the show’s heart ever since we lost Stefano and his incredible portrayer, Joseph Mascolo. The other DiMeras have their nasty moments and their occasional schemes, but neither Chad, EJ, Tony nor even Jake have ever quite been able to fill their father’s shoes. Kristen’s good at wreaking havoc, but she’s still got too much of a pesky desire to be loved and do good.

The loss is something we always feel a bit more keenly this time of year, since the anniversary of Stefano’s debut is right around the corner. After all, how many characters are such an integral part of a show while also being so enduringly villainous that they get a send-off like the one below?

“By the grace of God,” Caroline all but spat, “his reign of terror has finally come to an end. So here’s to the death of Stefano DiMera!”

Once upon a time, the devil didn’t just stop by Salem for a play date or two. He moved in and set down roots.

The show seemed to acknowledge this when it tried bringing Stefano back for a bit with “Stevano.” The devil that possessed Steve wasn’t Satan, but he was just as evil. But it was no more sustainable than MarDevil. Steve’s a hero, and fans wouldn’t put up with him turning permanently bad — but a DiMera like Johnny is another matter. Seeing him in front of Stefano’s portrait in that red suit was a tease too good to pass up. So don’t!

Days of Our Lives can’t keep Johnny possessed forever (and it seems to be hinting that he won’t be possessed for long, though that’s still very much up in the air). But what if there’s an echo of evil left behind once he’s exorcised?

What if Satan awakens something in Johnny’s blood that he’d been keeping at bay all these years? Allie already warned Chanel that her brother was evil, then backed off and decided she was wrong. But could that really be true?

Life After Possession

Allie and Chanel cuddle on the couch on Days of Our Lives

Above: Aw, look at them basking in the glow of Johnny’s fury.

Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI

More: Look back on the anniversary of Ciara’s debut

The story could go something like this: Johnny’s exorcised, and everything finally returns to normal. Or so folks think. Of course, Chanel returns to support her husband now that she understands that he hadn’t been in control, but while the DiMera scion was running around wreaking havoc, her feelings had finally blossomed for Allie.

Eventually, the pull is too great, and she’s drawn back to Johnny’s half twin. It doesn’t help that her husband has been… different since his possession. More distant, maybe a bit more ruthless when dealing with others and any perceived slights. It’s only natural she’d turn to someone who could offer her warmth and understanding.

Everyone had already been confused by this different side to Johnny and the rage they see when his wife leaves makes them wonder if he’s possessed again. Maybe they even start thinking about another exorcism. But he’s not. At least, not in any way they can fathom. He starts acting more like Stefano, but there’s no devil this time, and he doesn’t have a microchip with his grandfather’s personality implanted in his brain. His cruel DiMera nature had just been awakened, and now we have Johnny 2.0. And by extension, Stefano 2.0. Or 3.0 if we’re counting Stevano.

It’s something almost supernatural… but not necessarily. Just like Stefano, who we could never figure out whether he was just really good at escaping death or if he actually did have mysterious powers that allowed him to be reborn over and over again like his Phoenix namesake.

Johnny 2.0

Carson Boatman, Jackee Harry, johnny, devil, jodevil, paulina, jpi, days, party

Above: It’s time for Johnny to show that he can be just as ruthless a businessman as his grandfather.

Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI

More: Check out Tamara Braun really ‘smashing’ a scene

The best villains aren’t ones so vile that they have to be sent to jail or killed off. Yes, Stefano was horrible, but he was devoted to his family. Mostly. He did lock up the occasional disappointing son and replace him with a look-alike, but Stefano did have a heart. It was just a bit dark and shriveled.

Johnny would be no different, and since we’ve gotten so accustomed to his humanity, maybe it would shine through a bit more from time to time.

He’d have to get revenge, of course, for Chanel’s infidelity by going after his wife and sister and destroying them and their bakery. That would be relatively simple with a DiMera’s resources, but it would put him directly in the line of fire for Paulina. She wouldn’t stand by idly and let Johnny ruin her baby girl’s life, and the real-estate mogul has plenty of her own resources to draw upon.

But he’d just see that as an opportunity to flex his DiMera business muscles and go after Paulina’s empire. And if she and Abe were back to being an item, you better believe Johnny would make an enemy of one of Salem’s finest citizens. Once the cycle of vengeance is begun, it so easily spirals into a never-ending game as it makes archenemies out of former allies.

Plus, there would be constant tension between Johnny’s ruthless actions and the audience wondering if he would ever return to his good nature from before. And he would have something of a reverse Stefano relationship with EJ, putting Johnny’s worst nature at odds with his father, while occasionally dragging him along on his schemes.

When all is said and done, we’d end up with a villain worthy of the DiMera name. He’d be ruthless, powerful and firmly entrenched in Salem as the offspring of the town’s worst and best families. He would have the staying power Satan himself never could and a bit more of a heart than Stefano could quite muster up even at his best.

Given time, he could even rise to be a villain in his own right who people stop comparing to Stefano but start talking about in the same hushed, fearful voices as they did his grandfather. The machinations, the feuds, the tension between his families and the war between his two natures — there’s an endless well of dramatic storylines waiting to be tapped.

What do you think? Do you want to see this darker Johnny stick around long after the devil’s been given his due? And do you think Johnny could have what it takes to live up to and maybe even surpass Stefano as a villain for the ages on Days of Our Lives? To help you ponder, how about checking out our gallery of the greatest soap villains of all time? Maybe someday Johnny could out-bad them all.