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Viewers did not mince words when it came time to respond.

It’s hard to say who’s more anxious to see Peter pay for his sins — preferably with his life: Port Charles residents or General Hospital fans, few of whom were cheering when the baddie emerged virtually unscathed from his latest brush with death. But it was the show’s writers who took a shellacking when, during our exclusive Winter Preview, they suggested that Peter is a villain for the ages.

“Peter is worth his weight in dastardly gold,” co-headwriter Chris Van Etten told us. “As with all good villains, peter isn’t simply bad for the same of being bad. he understands his own movities, even if no one else does. He’s been hurt by the actions of others, all of which helped make him who he is.”

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Unfortunately, where Van Etten and writing partner Dan O’Connor seem to have a lot more fondness for Peter than does the audience. In response to the claim that he is “dastardly gold,” the @soapsdotcom Twitter feed was inundated with responses from viewers who, to put it mildly, begged to differ.

“Peter needing to die and that he is the worst villain ever is probably the one thing 99 percent of GH fans actually agree on,” tweeted Jenny Shoemacher. And while it’s true that the audience rarely sees things eye to eye, the dozens upon dozens of responses echoing similar sentiments indicated that on this one thing, people from all walks of life seem to largely agree.

This has nothing to do with the audience disliking the idea of villains as a whole. Rather, their animosity is directed specifically at Peter and how his storyline has unfolded from the start. Worse, it is widely believed that in order to extend his reign of terror, other characters have been dumbed down.

This has been a recurring issue, particularly where Maxie (who was blind to his wicked ways) and Anna (who literally helped to cover up some of his illegal actions) were concerned. Worse, viewers have been repeatedly teased with the character’s demise, from him falling down a staircase and shoved into a freezer to the tunnel collapse on Cassadine Island. And as many have pointed out, this is not a show on which good villains are exactly lacking.

Oddly, there is a simply solution to the Peter problem, and it is one which has not only been suggested (by us and others) repeatedly but seemingly set up time and again by the writers: The stage has been beautifully set for a murder mystery. Each time it’s looked as if perhaps Peter would finally get what’s coming to him, we’ve broken out (and expanded upon) our suspect list.

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It’s worth noting that many of the Peter-haters have nothing against portrayer Wes Ramsey, with some suggesting that two birds could be killed with one stone if the show did away with Britt’s evil brother and then reintroduced the actor as a lookalike.

As we wonder just how much longer Peter can remain one step ahead of the dire fate fans assume (hope?) will eventually befall him, why not peruse the gallery below in which we look at some of the all-time best villains to ever hit soaps… a distinction we suspect fans aren’t ready to bestow upon Cesar’s son!