WTF Wednesday: The Perplexing Existence of Andre DiMera

It’s yet another period of transition in Salem, but one thing that doesn’t seem like it’ll be changing anytime soon is the presence of town villain Andre DiMera. His portrayer, Thaao Penghlis, recently re-signed with Days for another two years, ensuring that Andre will continue to maniacally swan around town like some kind of psychotic Liberace.

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But here’s the thing about Andre: despite having been an on-and-off presence on the show for over three decades, this stint is really the first time we’re experiencing him as himself. Due to some largely nonsensical retcons, most of what we watched of Tony DiMera over the years turns out to have been Andre all along. Here’s a walk down memory lane of the timeline of the lookalike (via plastic surgery) cousins and kind-of-maybe-brothers, whose confusing history involves a hell of a lot of bodies that were later not accounted for…

1981: Count Antony DiMera arrives in Salem as the estranged husband of Liz Chandler. His criminal father, Stefano, soon follows. Tony winds up involved with Renee Dumonde, who is revealed to be Stefano’s daughter… which winds up not being an issue (for now) because Tony’s mother, Daphne, in turn reveals that he wasn’t Stefano’s biological son. But the couple’s happiness is short-lived, as Renee is murdered by the Salem Slasher.

1984: Tony is suspected of being the Slasher, but it turns out that he’s being held captive and has been replaced by his cousin, Andre, who’s had plastic surgery to look just like him.  Tony’s name is cleared, and Andre drowns in quicksand on a tropical island (for real).

1985: Tony’s marriage to Anna ends when he vanishes from Salem, having been blackmailed by Emma Marshall or something equally confusing that must have driven fans insane at the time.

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1993: Penghlis returns to the show as Tony, who is now the betrothed of Stefano’s adopted daughter, Kristen, which is fucked-up in its own special way. Kristen marries Tony but can’t fight her feelings for John Black.

1995: Kristen stays with Tony after an accident leaves him blind, but Tony regains his sight and keeps the truth from her. Driven to madness by Kristen’s affair with John and also by the fact that he’s a DiMera, Tony — who has since learned he has a fatal blood disease — commits suicide and frames John for his murder. (John is saved from the gas chamber at the last minute.) In case you’re keeping score, we now have two dead, lookalike DiMeras: one dead from quicksand (so dramatic), the other from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

2002: With Stefano off the canvas, Tony makes a surprising return. He helpfully explains that it was actually Andre who killed himself and framed John several years ago. (In the show’s defense, Penghlis had actually played the end of Tony’s life in ways that implied it might not be the real Tony: smoking, for instance. So the seed had been planted.) Tony then proves himself to be as batshit crazy as his father and cousin by becoming obsessed with Marlena and concocting all manner of ridiculous schemes. It’s also during this period that they just started referring to Tony as Stefano’s biological son without ever clearing up the Renee thing. Incest? So what, who cares!

2004: With the Salem Stalker running rampant through Salem, Tony is mauled by a tiger during a circus. (No, really.) He is hospitalized and dies when the killer — revealed to be Marlena — injects his IV with poison.

2004, again: Just kidding! Marlena and all her victims turn up on an island called Melaswen (“New Salem” backwards), which has been doctored up to look just like their home but with a generous helping of tropical foliage and Tommy Bahama resort wear. Tony privately has a Psycho-esque (and by “-esque” I mean “ripoff”) conversation with what he believes to be Stefano’s dead body/skeleton and explains to his henchman, Bart, that he brainwashed Marlena into committing the murders to… uh, to foil true love, or something! Everyone eventually gets off the island.

2005: Tony goes into hiding but continues to wreak havoc, including helping Sami Brady get revenge on her enemies by parading out dressed as a man named Stan. Tony also winds up luring a bunch of the idiotic good guys to an unnamed country/war zone in the Middle East (!) and is finally jailed.

2007: Turns out Stefano is alive but barely clinging to life, so Tony manages to get himself released from prison to care for him, because that’s totally how murder and treason charges work. Also during this time: Tony rides into the DiMera living room ON A HORSE to greet John and Bo.

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Well, “Tony.” Because later that year, we find out that Tony DiMera has been on a tropical island — presumably the one where Andre was believed to have drowned in quicksand, or maybe a different one after he left Anna and Salem? — for two decades, and the “Tony” we’ve been seeing since his early 90s return has actually been Andre masquerading as Tony. Marlena, John, and the recently returned Anna track down Tony, who confirms that he isn’t actually Stefano’s biological child after all (chalk it up to new writers cleaning up old messes). So now we have: Tony, alive; Andre, alive; someone who died in quicksand but I guess got saved; someone who died of a gunshot wound who was very clearly dead but wasn’t Tony or Andre.

By the end of 2007, Andre falls off a roof twice and removes himself from life support to frame Shawn Brady (the grandpa one, not the stupid young adult). Shawn is exonerated, but Andre dies — or, well, you know.

2009: Tony reunites with Anna and clashes with his family. He also catches onto Nicole’s baby-swapping scheme but doesn’t have the chance to reveal the truth to EJ before he is killed during an altercation with Philip in the midst of the DiMera-Kiriakis war.

2015: Andre literally just sashays into the DiMera mansion, alive and well, and has apparently been hiding out away from Salem. Oh, and he’s also Stefano’s biological son, which he learned from a letter that his mother wrote him. Who’s his mother? How did Andre make it out alive when he very clearly died in that hospital? At what point did they find out Stefano’s his dad? Who knows! Certainly not the writers!

In summation: the real Tony has never been in Salem at the same time as Kristen; we have no idea who actually died in Aremid, since someone did; Tony might or might not be biologically related to Stefano; Andre has the ability to withstand drowning in quicksand, falling off roofs, being taken off life-support, and more. One thing’s for sure: when the DiMeras are involved, “death” is merely a starting point for negotiations, so it’s probably only a matter of time until Tony turns up again and we’re asked to ignore all matters of logic and common sense.

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22 Comments on “WTF Wednesday: The Perplexing Existence of Andre DiMera”

  1. Fluffysmom Says:

    Even though I watched almost all of this it’s still insane when you read it all at once. How are we still sane??

  2. Shea Says:

    I just don’t even try to remember which one was really a part of each storyline. To be honest it’s far more complicated than it ever should have been….just like John’s true identity.

    Andre has always just annoyed me. I like my villains a little more stealthy. I like to see them manipulate and pull strings from behind the curtain before they reveal themselves to everyone. Andre just sorta rips the damn curtain down and it’s a bit too diabolical for my tastes.

  3. underyourwing Says:

    + he’s got that Creepy voice…..

  4. Dylan Says:

    Thanks for the summary, I’ve never understood the character. I find him too cartoonish, he even has the cliche “villain” accent.

    • mykleraus Says:

      He’s basically never been anything but a flat-out cartoon villain since his 1993 return. The Tony who reappeared in 2007 was actually a “normal” character for a bit, but by the time he died, they were sort of writing him as that typical DiMera again.

      • Shea Says:

        He isn’t a character….he is a caricature. Unfortunately I find TV characters often cross this line especially when shows have been on for several seasons. You can take your favorite sitcom and after about 3 seasons go back and watch one of the first episodes and chances are you will see exactly what I am talking about. Character traits that were quirky or ironic in the early season shift until they become the characters most defining characteristics . It doesn’t seem to happen as much on prime time dramas but it definitely happens on daytime.

      • mykleraus Says:

        Modern Family is a REALLY noticeable example of that right now!

      • Shea Says:

        Modern Family is the perfect example of that right now. Two and a half men was an extreme example of it by the time it was over.

      • mykleraus Says:

        Yes! Everyone turns into these buffoonish caricatures. Friends managed to walk the line pretty well — everyone had exaggerated traits but I still didn’t find them all to be INSANE cartoons.

  5. Dan Says:

    Honestly, after the 2004 fiasco (he revealed in an overseas interview that Marlena was the SSK), I’m surprised that the show has brought back Thaao Penghlis. He was also a very vocal former employee. I also remember he wasn’t very pleasant when they wrote him off in 2009, which was interesting because they dumped him and gave Leanne Hunley some great material later in the run.

    Neither John or Tony/Andre work because of the twisted history. Honestly, I would prefer both to kill each other in one final grand battle. The only thing I liked this go around was Tony/Chase bonding, but then the rape happened…

    Thinking of the Dimeras, I wonder what the original plan would have been. I believe Stefano originally was going to go after Julie, which would have given the Julie / Lee rivalry a new dynamic to play. Similarly, Tony was in love with Liz Chandler, and Lee had slept with Liz’s other husband, Rick Courtney. I wonder if they planned on bringing on Rick to cause more havoc.

    In the 1990s, I never got the sense that Marlena and Tony had the history they did despite being in the same story. There was no sense of the Don/Liz/Neil/Noelle story or even the Anna / Tony relationship. A Carrie / Tony relationship would have added additional tension to the Brady household in a very natural way especially if Tony encouraged a Carrie/Austin romance, which later on could have been exploited when Kate married into the family. But I’m getting too ahead of myself.

    In general, I think I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea of whether the Dimeras work with Tony or Stefano. Personally, I like Chad, but they could play him in the Horton orbit the way they did Jack after writing out Anjelica, Harper, Adrienne, Steve, and Jo. The history with Will, Abigail, Gabi, and Sonny is strong enough that they could play him for whatever time the show has left.

    • mykleraus Says:

      The 2004 thing seemed so pointed at JER, but after they kept using him during JER’s stint (he was back onscreen months later), I figured it was water under the bridge — probably because JER needed a Stefano substitute to write his version of the show.

      I wasn’t watching regularly during “Tony”‘s stint in the 90s, but it does seem like a lot was left on the table. He was basically just Stefano’s son, not the guy who’d had all those entanglements the previous decade. And they never seemed to play that Tony/Carrie relationship at all, which is a shame. That’s the kind of thing I think we would’ve gotten under Tomlin/Higley, honestly, and it’s what I love about soaps.

      I love Chad and think he’s very viable. Your comparison to Jack is apt. One of the problems with the writing for Jack from the mid-90s onward is that they never gave him anything independent from Jen, or they rarely capitalized on chances to do so. I would hope they wouldn’t fall into the same trap with a Chad who didn’t have the DiMeras — though, honestly, the DiMeras are more a concept than a functioning entity anyway. I’m still surprised they aren’t playing Theo in that sphere at ALL.

  6. ADW Says:

    😀 Thank you so much taking the time to compose a clear and concise Andre/Tony history lesson because it’s rather sordid; I missed and/or forgot some of it.
    A couple questions I still have after it was revealed Andre was Stefano’s son (not his nephew): Who the heck is Andre’s Mother? Why was Stefano being Andre’s father kept underwraps? Did Stefano have an affair with an in-law OR was he adopted by other family members? I find it funny that after EJ and Kristen “died” Stefano stressed to Chad that he’s his only living child and then *poof* Andre reappears much to Stefano’s chagrin because he was supposed to stay away.
    Btw you picked such a creepy image of Andre he looks like fried liverwurst with hair stuck to a used maxi pad. Andre’s voice and tone eerily reminds me of Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector.

    • mykleraus Says:

      They’ve never explained ANY of that about Andre. I assumed that, since his name was Andre DiMera, he was the son of one of Stefano’s brothers (they said in the 80s that Stefano was “the seventh son of the seventh son”). But I’ve never seen any kind of reference to who his mother was, and when he came back and was suddenly Stefano’s son, they never even came close to explaining HOW that would’ve happened. Presumably Stefano must’ve had an affair with his brother’s wife/babymama? I guess it would’ve made sense for Stefano to have known all along and not been able to reveal it, though he never seemed to know onscreen throughout the preceding 30 years.

      He totally reminds me of Hannibal Lecter, too.

  7. Matthew Says:

    They also still did not explain how he can be alive during his current return. The other characters questioned him one day as to how he was possibly still alive. (If I remember correctly, he had crashed their “special episode Stefano death celebration” in the Brady Pub.)

    Andre answered something like, “That’s an exciting tale which will have to wait for another time.”

    Translation: We, the writers, have no freaking idea how to sell that either!

    • mykleraus Says:

      I think Andre showed up at Will’s wake at the Pub — always a classy time to ambush a family!

      I remember that moment. It was absolutely insane. It reminded me of when Dr. Rolf turned up alive, and when someone said they thought he was dead, he just said, “It didn’t take!” I can buy that with a comedic tertiary character, but not someone being retconned into a direct descendant of one of the show’s most legendary characters.

      • ADW Says:

        Dr. Rolf was the man, truely a multi-faceted, multi-talented Doctor/Mad Scientist before Dr. Taniel Bogus came along; Rolf was so much of a caricature and that accent was hysterical. They can bring back Dr. Rolf to conspire with Andre anytime and Bart as well. I never believed Dr. Rolf was actually dead.

      • mykleraus Says:

        Rolf was hilarious. That sort of character works best in small doses, but he was kind of an asset in an offbeat way. Is Rolf dead again? I can’t remember…


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