Roger Howarth as Todd Manning
|One Life to Live character|
|First appearance||December 1992|
|Last appearance||August 5, 2013|
|Created by||Michael Malone|
|Book appearances||Patrick's Notebook|
Trevor St. John as Todd Manning
Thomas Todd Manning is a fictional character originated on the American daytime drama One Life to Live. Created by writer Michael Malone, the role was originated in 1992 by actor Roger Howarth. In 2003, Howarth departed from the series and the role was recast with actor Trevor St. John as Todd, physically altered by plastic surgery. Howarth returned to the role on May 13, 2011, and St. John departed the role in summer 2011. St. John's character was rewritten as Todd's identical twin brother, Victor Lord, Jr., conditioned to believe he was Todd and thereby assume Todd's identity. Upon the ABC Daytime cancellation of One Life to Live, Howarth agreed to appear in the network's last remaining soap opera, General Hospital, in March 2012 to transition onscreen daughter Starr Manning (Kristen Alderson) to the series. He later signed a contract to continue his portrayal of Todd there for the foreseeable future. Contract disputes with Prospect Park, who hold the character rights to One Life to Live characters, eventually restricted Howarth from portraying Todd on General Hospital. Howarth later agreed to reprise the role of Todd on the Prospect Park continuation of One Life to Live.
Originally, Todd was conceived as short-term; Howarth is credited with "turning what was a day player role into a compelling, long-term character". Todd is initially designed to be a ruthless, cunning and one-dimensional villain, with significant trouble with the law. This began to change when the popularity of his 1993 gang rape of Marty Saybrooke, noted as one of soap opera's classic, "most remembered and impactful" storylines, compelled the writers to evolve Todd into a complex character, often selfish and acting the villain but also compassionate and devoted to protecting his loved ones. The writers first added these aspects in 1994, while revealing Todd as the illegitimate son of Victor Lord and Irene Manning, making him the brother of their first child together, Tina Lord, and half-brother to Victor's elder heiress daughter and original One Life to Live heroine Victoria Lord.
The character's love life has also been carefully considered by the series. He marries longtime love Blair Cramer multiple times throughout the years and their union produces two living children, Starr and Jack. In 2009, he is informed that he has a second daughter, Danielle, conceived with his former wife and love Téa Delgado during a previous reunion.
Todd has been the subject of numerous soap opera articles, feminist studies, and inspired the creation of a doll in his likeness. He has remained a popular and controversial figure since his creation, and is considered one of soap opera's breakout characters.
- 1 Storylines
- 2 Character creation
- 3 Early writing and literary analysis
- 4 Casting and portrayals
- 5 Reception and impact
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Todd is introduced in December 1992 as a defensive back for Llanview University's football team and fraternity brother to Kevin Buchanan, Zach Rosen and Powell Lord. He has a one-night-stand with his tutor, Marty Saybrooke, and later blames her when failing a test causes him to be suspended from the football team. In May 1993, Todd, Zach and Powell rape Marty in Kevin's dorm room. Todd hires attorney, Nora Hanen, who believes his innocence until Carol Swift reveals Todd also raped her; Nora throws the case. Todd attacks Marty and her friend, Luna Moody, in an alley where Luna fights him off. Marty later tricks Todd into confessing, sending him, Zach and Powell to prison where he befriends Rebecca Lewis. Todd uses Rebecca to help him escape prison and he is stabbed when he goes after Nora. The wounded Todd is discovered by Marty and her boyfriend Suede Pruitt. Todd accidentally kills Suede when they fight. Officer Bo Buchanan shoots Todd, who falls into the Llantano River and is presumed dead.
Todd survives and is in hiding at the Lord family estate, Llanfair where he befriends C. J. and Sarah Roberts. Todd is arrested when he jealously confronts the new couple, Rebecca and Powell. During his transfer, the prison van gets into an accident with another vehicle; Todd rescues Sarah, C. J. and their cousin, Jessica, from the car. This results in an early parole for Todd. Soon after, Todd is accused of rape by several women. Marty provides him with an alibi for one of the attacks. A deranged Powell is later revealed as the serial rapist. Todd apologizes to Marty for all the pain he's caused. Todd begins falling for Blair Cramer after a one-night-stand, though she is with Cord Roberts. In December 1994, Peter Manning dies and Todd learns he was adopted. Conman, David Vickers, discovers Todd's biological parents, and with help from Todd's scheming biological sister, Tina, claims to be the lost Lord heir. Todd's true parentage is ultimately revealed, leaving Todd stunned and $27.8 million richer. He purchases tabloid paper The Intruder from Dorian Lord and relaunches it as The Sun, a direct rival to his new-found family's newspaper The Banner. Meanwhile, Blair tricks Todd into marriage in February 1995 by faking a pregnancy. Blair later learns that she really is pregnant, though after being mugged she miscarries. Todd discovers Blair initially lied about her pregnancy and has the marriage annulled. Blair soon learns she is pregnant again. They reconnect and remarry in November 1995. Todd goes to Ireland to give Marty a flight back to Llanview. Her friend, Patrick Thornhart, is being hunted by Irish terrorists. Todd poses as Patrick, is shot, and presumed dead. He returns to Llanview in 1996, to find Blair in bed with Patrick. His sister, Viki, introduces Todd to his daughter Starr. Todd eventually resumes his life with Blair. After many difficulties in their marriage, Starr is diagnosed with aplastic anemia. Blair and Todd call a truce.
Blair's unborn baby has been identified as a donor match for Starr. She gives birth to Patrick's stillborn son in April 1997. Todd blames Patrick for the accident and frames him for the murder of Guy Armitage. Blair discovers Todd caused the explosion that killed Guy and divorces Todd in June 1997. Todd pays shark lawyer, Téa Delgado, five million dollars to marry him so he can keep custody of Starr while Blair is in a coma. Blair comes out of the coma. Todd allows her visitation. While Todd and Téa grow closer, Todd is again accused of rape. Blair helps prove his innocence, which leads to them growing closer as well. Blair and Téa vie for Todd's affections. In 1998, Todd is about to be arrested for the murder of Georgie Phillips when he takes the other 14 suspects hostage at the Buchanan family cabin with fake dynamite strapped to his chest. Rachel Gannon admits to the murder. Todd is arrested for the hostage incident. He fakes dissociative identity disorder (DID) to avoid conviction. Téa divorces him as part of his defense strategy. Todd and Téa remarry in November 1998. During the reception, a tape on which Todd confesses to faking DID is accidentally played at Starr's request. Téa refuses his offer of another $5 million to stay married to him. He leaves town in December 1998. Tea has the marriage annulled in 1999.
Todd keeps tabs on Téa, who starts dating Rachel's uncle, R. J., in 2000. Todd unsuccessfully tries to kill R. J., and reveals himself to Téa, convincing her to leave town with him in March 2000. When Téa dumps him, Todd returns months later without her. Todd and Blair grow close again. He helps her cover it up when she shoots Max Holden by framing Skye Chandler. They decide to remarry, but the night before the wedding, a vengeful Max drugs Blair and leads Todd to believe they have slept together. A furious Todd reveals Blair shot Max. He quickly has a change of heart and helps Blair stay out of jail by claiming Blair had suffered a psychotic break. She is committed. Months later, Blair goes to Mexico. Todd follows, where he delivers her son. Believing the child is Max's, Todd gives the baby to David Vickers. He leads Blair to believe the baby died. She and Todd reconcile. She finally reveals her "stillborn" son was really Todd's. Todd locates the infant and claims the boy was abandoned and convinces her to remarry him in December 2001. They name their son John "Jack" Cramer Manning, and Todd makes it appear they have adopted him.
Jack develops aplastic anemia, like Starr. Blair is furious when Sam Rappaport reveals Jack is her biological son. Blair bans Todd from seeing the children and leaves town. He follows them to Hawaii where his plans to kidnap the children with help from Ross Rayburn are foiled by Téa. Todd and Téa make love when they get stranded together on an island with Ross. Todd escapes to return to Blair. Todd protects Blair when the mafia comes after her. They are about to remarry when Sam reveals Todd had actually staged the hit on their nanny to win Blair's affections. Mitch Laurence kidnaps Starr. Blair exchanges her own life for her daughter's. Todd rescues Blair by kidnapping his niece, Natalie, and exchanges her life for Blair's. Mitch is working for the presumed dead Victor Lord, who intends to steal the heart of one his descendents so he can live. Fortunately, Natalie is rescued. Todd comes face to face with a frail Victor before he finally dies from heart failure. Mitch kidnaps Todd and locks him in Victor's crypt in order to frame him for Sam Rappaport's murder. However, Todd soon disappears from the crypt. Blair has him declared dead.
From May 2003 to August 2011, a man with a different face is believed to be a physically altered Todd. However, the real Todd is revealed when a presumed dead Irene Manning confirms the "other" man is actually Todd's twin brother, Victor Lord, Jr.. Todd struggles with losing eight years of his life. He blames Victor, Jr. for stealing his children, including his daughter, Danielle, with Téa. He steals a gun and plans to kill Victor and is the top suspect when Victor is gunned down. Todd claims his innocence and convinces Starr to help him escape jail to keep Irene from killing the family in order to get her hands on Victor's fortune. Todd soon remembers he hid the microchip Irene wanted in Victor Lord's ring. Todd believes Irene killed his family when he kills her in October 2011.
Téa's brother, Tomás, takes credit for allowing a wounded Todd to escape to Viki's cabin. Todd begins having vivid memories of killing Victor. Before Tomás is sentenced, Todd confesses to Irene's murder. Téa gets the charges reduced to self-defense. Todd locates the gun used to kill Victor and uses it to frame Tomás as revenge for initially bringing him to Irene. Todd and a rogue CIA agent force Tomás into a false confession. Meanwhile, teenage Jack refuses to believe Todd's innocence and sets fire to The Sun. Todd realizes Jack is responsible for the fire and blackmails him. On New Year's Eve, Todd assists Starr, her ex-boyfriend Cole and her current boyfriend, James, in dealing with a crazed Hannah O'Connor. Todd gets his nephew, Sam out of harms way while Hannah is disarmed. Todd and Blair finally make love. Detective John McBain comes to arrest Todd for Victor's murder. He also assists Cole in faking his death so he can live with Starr and their daughter, Hope, in California.
In March 2012, Todd jumps bail and arrives in Port Charles, the setting of General Hospital upon learning that Starr has been involved in a car accident that resulted in the deaths of Cole and Hope. Todd is successful in his effort to see Starr, who initially is displeased with his arrival, however, she eventually allows Todd to console her and discloses to him that local mobster Sonny Corinthos is responsible for the shooting that led to the car accident and Robin's death. Armed with this information, Todd acquires a gun and confronts Sonny in an empty courtroom, hell-bent on exacting revenge for his grieving daughter. Todd's plan is only interrupted by the sudden arrival of John McBain, who detains Todd and brings him back to Llanview.
In May 2012, Todd resurfaces in Port Charles, having had the charges against him for Victor's murder dropped, due to a claim of post-traumatic stress disorder following his years in captivity. Along with him is a heavily pregnant Téa, who has been sought out by Blair to represent Starr, who is facing attempted murder charges for trying to kill Sonny. Todd attempts to put pressure on Sonny to convince his son, Michael Corinthos, to recant his statement against Starr, and eventually succeeds in doing so. In early June, Todd is driving with Téa through an intense rainstorm, when she goes into labor and gives birth to an unresponsive baby boy. Meanwhile, Samantha Morgan is also giving birth to her baby boy in a motel room, with McBain by her side. McBain's efforts to get Sam and her son medical attention are derailed when McBain is attacked by thugs, under orders from Sam's estranged husband, Jason Morgan. Concerned by McBain's sudden disappearance, Sam takes off with the baby to get help. Todd, in an effort to get help for Téa's son, comes across Heather Webber in a shack in the woods, who pleads with her to help the baby. Sam comes across the very same shack, and before passing out due to blood-loss and exhaustion, places the baby in a planter outside. After Heather tells Todd that Téa's baby has died, he comes across Sam's son in the planter outside, which Téa comes to believe is hers and is elated that the baby is now in good health. Seeing this as a perfect opportunity for revenge against Sam, Heather talks Todd out of telling Téa the truth, compounded by false claims that Sam left the baby in the planter to die. For the next several months, Tea is led to believe that she is raising her own son in Llanview, while Sam mourns the death of hers.
Later that Summer, Todd comes across evidence implicating Johnny Zacchara in the accident that led to Cole and Hope's deaths, but is prevented from exposing Johnny, as Johnny has come to learn of Todd's involvement in the switch of Téa and Sam's babies. The two men enter into a reluctant agreement whereby they will keep each other's secrets, and continue allowing everyone to believe that Connie Falconeri is the one who killed Cole and Hope. In September 2012, the town water supply is contaminated by terrorist Jerry Jacks, via a lethal pathogen that will kill everyone in Port Charles within forty eight hours. When Jerry demands a ransom of $88 million in exchange for an anti-serum to counteract the effects, Todd spearheads an effort to pool the money together, eventually getting Sonny, Johnny, Carly Corinthos Jacks and Tracy Quartermaine to help. During a scuffle at the Port Charles Harbor, Johnny is shot by Jerry, and Todd attempts to smother him to death twice, but fails. Eventually, the anti-serum is recovered and Jerry is presumed dead, but the money mysteriously vanishes.
Alongside the baby switch and the pathogen scare, Todd begins to form a very close relationship with Carly in the wake of yet another rejection from Blair, who is set to marry Tomas. Their relationship blossoms even further when Johnny is forced by Connie to marry her, in an effort to keep herself from being committed to Shadybrook Sanitarium. To make amends for almost killing her son, Steven, Heather lies to the judge and prosecutors about Todd's role in switching the babies. He is then released. Immediately, Todd later leaves Port Charles, presumably due to phone calls sent by Dani.
In April 2013, Todd returns to Llanview after living the past year in Port Charles to check on Dani who had previously been calling him several times. Upon his arrival at the opening of Blair's new nightclub, he reunites with Jack, Blair and Téa and is witness to Dani collapsing from a drug overdose due to her abusing oxycodone. While Dani is recovering at the hospital, Victor arrives, very much alive. Téa, Dani, and Jack welcome Victor back, while Todd tries to bond with his children. Todd remains concerned about Jack and Dani, even going as far as buying their affections with money, and deciding the best way to make inroads with them is to call a truce with Victor. Todd also tries to win back the affection of Blair during this time. Almost immediately after Todd and Victor agree to the truce, Todd admits he had only pretended to get along with Victor to lure him into a false sense of security. Victor responds by admitting that he poisoned Todd's scotch with arsenic and then tried to strangle him. Jack finds Todd and later takes him to the hospital, where he recovers but is frustrated when his family continues to defend Victor. Victor realizes he must leave town and says good bye to his family.
While at Blair's club Shelter, the power goes out. Todd convinces Blair to sing to for the crowd. Later, he realizes that the power was cut intentionally. Todd knows whose behind the club being sabotaged and wants to explain the reason to Blair. As they are leaving Shelter, someone shoots at Blair and Todd saves her just in time. Later at his hotel suite, Todd shows her a threatening note he received with the names of all his loved ones on it. Blair promises to stand by him and help him protect their family. The mysterious "Tattoo Organization" that held Victor demands that Todd find and kill Victor. Todd, Blair and Téa devise a scheme to fool this organization into believing Victor is dead. Todd and Blair, who had been growing closer, make love. Feeling secure that their scheme has worked, they start to plan a future together. Jack discovers that his parents are back together and is upset by the news. Todd then receives another note by the "Tattoo Organization," this time telling him that he has failed them and that Victor has been recaptured. Todd is told that he must leave Llanview and go to the address given on the note. Todd and Blair having just happily reunited, are devastated. Todd says goodbye to Vicki and his children but does not tell them the real reason he is leaving is to protect their family. Todd and Blair make love one last time and it is revealed that they have married again. Todd and Blair exchange "I love you" and Todd leaves Llanview.
Todd was originally intended to be a short-lived role. Howarth's portrayal of the character inspired notable fan reaction, which prompted the creators to layer Todd's personality and showcase him regularly within the series. Michael Malone, the character's creator, said fleshing out the villain reminded him of what he loves about soap operas. "The story-telling is a genuine collaboration, not just among writers but by the actors", he said. Malone felt he could not take full credit for the development of the character from Marty Saybrooke's gang rapist to what the character later became, and also noted Howarth's impact:
In the creation of Todd Manning, no one played a larger role than the remarkably talented Josh Griffith, first associate head writer, then co-head writer, during my stay at One Life. Josh loved, lived and breathed Todd and fought passionately for his position on the show. Second, Todd never would have evolved from "first frat boy" to the major cast member he became without the powerful talent of Roger Howarth. Because of Roger's ability to convey the complexity of Todd (the hurt as well as anger, the insecurity as well as bluster, the brains, yearning, manipulativeness, sexiness, tenderness, nastiness) we were able to explore both the deeply dark side of this character (the effort to destroy Marty to cover the rape, the attempted revenge on his lawyer Nora, the attack on Luna) and at the same time slowly uncover his growing struggle (usually a failed struggle) towards some kind of redemption. Romantic leads have often begun their careers playing villains (Valentino, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart among them). These characters appeal because they make women feel both the thrill of the "bad" and the lure of the hidden "good": they can lead the man to change through love. "I'll save him!" Fans loved Todd from the beginning because he always had that appeal. The network was therefore happy to have him return to Llanview whenever Roger would come back, and happy to have him move into story in major ways.
Malone originally scripted Todd as a serial rapist. During the 1993 rape storyline, it is "Todd canon" he raped character Carol Swift a year or two before raping Marty, and there are hints in the series he raped other young women before Carol. The character is at first presented as 18-years-old, but is later stated to have been 20 at the time of Marty's rape. Over the years, his age has been changed slightly or drastically based upon the occasional rapid aging of his children.
Malone gave the character the last name "Manning" without knowing Victor Lord's mistress was named Irene Manning. This oversight allowed the writers to later reveal Todd as Tina and Victoria Lord's brother born on January 2, 1970. In December 1994, Todd receives long withheld letters after the death of his then-father, Peter Manning. Written by Peter's wife — Barbara "Bitsy" (Jones) Manning — whom Todd believed to be his mother since before her death, reveals Todd was adopted. Todd later discovers he is the biological son of Victor Lord and Peter's cousin, Irene.
Todd was made Victoria's brother to give the writers more story to work with while transitioning Todd from a recurring character to a main character. As the son of Victor, Todd became entitled to $27.8 million inheritance. The writers chose to begin the storyline with the mystery regarding the false heir, David Vickers, a con-man claiming Todd's fortune as his own, and to have him corrupt Tina. Developing Todd not only as Victoria's unwanted sibling but as "her professional rival" who used "a splashy tabloid newspaper to wipe out her venerable Banner" appealed to Malone.
Signature scar and hair
In late 1993, Todd was given a "nasty-looking" scar to his right cheek in order to make him seem even more menacing; the series showcased Marty's friend, Luna Moody, stopping his second physical attack on Marty by hitting him with a crowbar and scarring his face. The camera would often emphasize this scar, which would later become synonymous with the character.
Independent casting director Howard Meltzer explained, "Todd wears the scar like a badge. It’s a warning to others: Don’t mess with me." Meltzer felt Howarth underplayed Todd; Todd did not have to rant to incite fear. "He gets a lot more from the raising of an eyebrow than raising the volume of his voice," Meltzer stated. Todd's actions were mostly in response to the environment around him. Meltzer thanked Howarth's "expressiveness" for making it possible for viewers to see "the wheels turning". The scar additionally served as a reminder to Todd, of his past villainy against Marty. It was applied by glue, with a little makeup to make it look more authentic, and usually took 10 minutes to apply.
Todd's hair was also integral to the character. It was described as "enigmatic, with an air of innate authority". The hair was said to demonstrate Todd's lack of pretense and to convey an "I don’t care" attitude, and complement the character's "overhanging brow". Todd would therefore seem more threatening but vulnerable at the same time. The hair often concealed the "intense, vulnerable eyes underneath". Makeup artists explained these features contrasted well with the character's mouth, which they cited as pouty, sensual and conferring "a charming, boyish quality". The features could sometimes be misinterpreted as Todd being less dangerous than he actually was. Photographer Robert Milazzo said Howarth's hair was the softening part of the character. "You don’t expect that intensity because of it," he said, and it made Todd more intriguing.
In November 2008, under St. John's portrayal of the character, "Todd" acquires a new "scar" to go along with his new face. Given to him by character John McBain during a physical altercation in which John beats Todd with a gun, the "scar" was to symbolize Todd's "second rape of Marty" (see below) and history with her. The cut was significantly smaller than the original but placed in the same spot. Despite it being viewed as "a poetic nod" to Todd's history, it was gone by January 2009. St. John stated, "I know. It’s too bad. I honestly have no idea why they wouldn’t keep that reminder on Todd's face. It might be an economical thing. You know it costs to apply that kind of makeup each day."
Powerfully dark theme music was applied to assist Todd's volatile nature. Referred to as "Todd's theme" by producers and fans of the series, and consisting of ominous low chords, it usually served to signal to viewers that, whenever played, Todd was about to commit a vicious, dangerous, or threatening act. Though especially evident in Howarth's portrayal, the theme continued during St. John's early portrayal as well.
The original creator of Todd's theme music, composer David Nichtern, said he loved the character and enjoyed implementing the different versions of the Todd theme. While describing Todd's "return from the dead" music, a prominent event at the time and first played in 1996, Nichtern addressed the broader aspect of his music composition for the character:
All of Todd's music has had a certain 'vibe' to it, especially since the character is so well-drawn. It also has seemed particularly well-suited to my guitar style, so I've enjoyed 'becoming' Todd musically. The key is always to represent his dark side, but with the possibility of redemption and power behind the whole thing. That's what makes him such an interesting character. Todd's cues are always custom-made so to speak, so there is energy and attention going toward getting the exact flavor of what the current story-line is saying about his journey.
Three primary musical themes assisted Todd's evolution: The original Todd theme, from 1993 to 1996, encompassed Todd's rape of Marty and his early misdeeds; the second theme was repeatedly heard in 1998 and 2000; and the third theme was first heard in 2001. The 1993 Marty rape sequence "was scored almost entirely with popular rock songs". During the lead-up to the rape, described as "chilling" while the fraternity party is going on, "the hard edged songs playing at low volume in the background [intensify] the underlying tense, aggressive atmosphere". When Todd reaches his turning point and makes the decision to rape Marty, "the song being played ('Head Like a Hole') [is] brought up to a louder volume" and the lyrics are clear: "I'd rather die/Than give you control." This allows Todd's motivation for the rape to significantly register with viewers through the use of background music.
Additional musical themes for Todd have been his "minous chords" while stalking Nora Gannon in 1993 following her contribution to his jail sentence, his romance with Rebecca Lewis in 1994, where a sweeping romantic theme with tragic undertones are heard and "sometimes interspersed" with the former ominous music, his rescue of Marty along with two children, and the Todd and Téa romance. In mid-1994, when Todd rescues Marty and two children from a car crash, "his change of heart [is] reflected by a change in music". His dominant theme then becomes "a tuneful, forward moving piece". This theme is used regularly throughout Todd's 1994 redemption storyline and later when he becomes the Lord heir (1995). In August 1996, when Todd "returns from the dead" after several months of absence, the "on-edge, demented sound, by which we [are told] Todd [has] once again undergone a psychological change, this time for the worse" is introduced; the theme first assists Todd's emotional breakdown and revenge scheme upon discovering wife Blair Cramer having sex with character Patrick Thornhart.
Concept on redemption
The series crafted Todd's spiritual journey as a man who wanted forgiveness for his past misdeeds. In the story, he reasons he does not deserve forgiveness; this contributes to him embracing his worst qualities. Malone was intrigued by telling this type of character aspect, and felt it worked better due to Howarth being an actor who would not let Todd acquire redemption easily. Malone felt the most important part of Todd's redemption was to have him re-confront Marty in order to better deal with the fact he initiated a gang rape on her. In addition to having Todd risk his freedom from prison to instead save Marty from a car crash, the writers had him go as far as to donate his own blood to Marty to ensure she survives the wreck. A year later, they crafted a story where he risks his life to save Patrick, Marty's lover, from death; this act leads to Todd's presumed death. Despite having the character yearn to be thought of as a decent human being, the writers felt his good deeds should never make him feel any less horrible for having raped Marty.
Initially, Howarth did not consider the storylines to be redemptive. "[Todd's] not being redeemed at all," he said. "Todd, as I see it, is looking for a way to overcome this rage so he can live in society again. From now on, his menace will be on the surface, not exploding. It's more interesting if his violence is on the surface and that he play against it. That's where the subtlety is."
Early writing and literary analysis
Archetypes and representation
Author Jennifer Hayward opines writers sometimes use names to symbolize good or bad characters, and suggests this with Powell Lord III — a character who initially resists the gang rape of Marty (Susan Haskell). Powell is set up as "the good" personality contrasting Todd's "absolute evil" identity. While Powell is witnessed to harbor deep guilt for his part in the rape and originally acts as Todd's conscience, Todd is shown to ignore Powell's pleas for morality.
Hayward felt the writing showcased the rape as not being about sex, women, or Marty herself, but rather about what takes place between men and women in the aftermath of rape. In her view, the series drew upon powerful archetypes, such as the fight between good and evil, reminiscent of nineteenth-century melodrama, where critique would be given to "power relations, especially the oppression of the poor by the rich and of women by men".
Analyst Mary Buhl Dutta reasoned the storyline invokes "rape myths" cataloged by scholar Martha R. Burt, such as "only bad girls get raped," "women ask for it," and "women 'cry rape' only when they've been jilted or have something to cover up". Burt said such myths "deny or reduce perceived injury, or ... blame the victims for their own victimization".
Author Gerry Waggett said the "close-ups of the rapists' faces during the assault, distorted to capture Marty's scared and drunken perspective, rank among the show's most graphic images" and "Marty's subsequent quest to bring her rapists to justice dominated throughout the summer".
To the characters and viewers, Todd was without any redeeming qualities and displayed no remorse. The writers made him the embodiment of evil, and plot points were presented to further demonstrate this, including Todd's second rape attempt on Marty. The story focused on his desire to punish her for winning the trial against him. Instead of having Marty subjected to another rape, the writers decided to have Marty's close friend Luna Moody thwart the attack. The scuffle between Todd and Luna leaves Todd with a scar gracing the right side of his face.
When Todd's popularity grew with the viewing audience, Malone and executive producer Susan Bedsow Horgan chose the controversial option of redeeming Todd and ensuring that he was not a one-dimensional rapist instead of killing him off. Malone and Horgan started Todd's transition into a more well-rounded character through their redemption of Powell. They had Powell attempt suicide and confess to raping Marty. He is publicly forgiven by Marty herself, which enrages Todd when he and fellow rapist Zach receive eight-year sentences in prison, compared to Powell's three months of jail time. Todd makes a vow he will be out of prison in three months as well. To carry out this vow, he was written to escape by "drugging himself, waking from a coma to leap from a speeding ambulance, and then reviving himself again by stabbing a knife through his hand while rolling his eyes heavenward" and saying the pain felt good. The threatening determination of the character had become characteristic of him by then, and he often seemed superhuman, reminiscent of the Terminator. At one point, he is shown as wanting revenge on his lawyer, Nora Gannon (Hillary B. Smith), who had thrown his case once she discovered he had raped Marty. With his escape from prison, Todd sets out to attack Nora, who has become blind. He stalks and torments her, but she is spared from Todd's attack by her husband Bo Buchanan (Robert S. Woods) showing up before Todd can finish the assault and rape her.
Following his attack on Nora, the writers had Todd's fury increase and attempt to rape Marty again. The series shows it as another failed attempt by Todd; for the character to get some kind of vengeance, he is instead written to kill Marty's boyfriend Suede during a scuffle. Though Suede's death is an accident within the series, Todd is soon involved in a storyline where he kidnaps an ingenue named Rebecca Lewis. He hides out with her, commits grand theft auto, and is later found by the police and shot in the chest. He falls off a bridge "into the freezing river of the far upstate New York".
Steps to early redemption
Upon Todd's return, reasoned Hayward, "the [writing] team used four techniques drawn from the conventions of Victorian sentimental fiction". They set Todd's redemption into motion by informing the audience of Todd's tragically sad childhood and that he had a powerful love for his adoptive mother while understandably harboring a deep hate for his rich, abusive, controlling adoptive father. The writers' next step in redeeming Todd was by having him visit a church to repent for his past misdeeds. In addition, his current disturbing thoughts were implemented. The third part of Todd's redemption consisted of Todd's love for "the innocent, very religious virgin, Rebecca Lewis". She helps him by letting him emotionally and regularly vocalize his detest for his father. "With her pre-Raphelite curls, 'drooping head,' and inarticulate cries, Rebecca is almost a caricature of Dickens' more sentimental and less felicitious heroines," said Hayward.
Scenes between Todd and Rebecca were presented with heavily iconic detail, such as symbolic representation consisting of homages to the Virgin, the Mother, and Freud. Todd was feminized as part of this; one example takes place when he picks up Rebecca's purse and makes a correlation between it and his adoptive mother's purse; he briefly proceeds to use makeup to cover up the scar symbolizing his rough past. 
The final and "crucial addition" to Todd's early redemption, analysts argue, was his friendship with the two children at the time C.J. and Sarah Roberts. Hayward stated that this particular aspect bore "an uncanny (and almost certainly deliberate, given Malone's affection for nineteenth-century literature) resemblance to the monster's narrative in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein". Mary Shelley's monster saves a young girl from drowning, but instead of the incident being seen as heroic, it is misinterpreted as an attack on her. From the hidden shadows, the monster also watches two children living happy lives. In similar comparison, Malone's Todd Manning rescues the cousin of C.J. and Sarah. The cousin is Jessica Buchanan (who later turns out to be his niece). Todd saves her from being manhandled by an older boy. This serves as the start to Todd's road to meeting the two children (also of blood relation to him). Hayward says like Shelley's monster, Todd observes the family's happy moments together from afar, and wishes to be a part of their life. He uses his time alone to make toys for the two children. Once they accidentally discover him, he manipulates the children into keeping his whereabouts a secret. He relays to them he is "a genie on the run from an evil master". The stories Todd tells them reflect his feelings about his adoptive father.
In the years following, Todd continues to evolve into a complex character. His amends start with his former victim, Marty.
Casting and portrayals
Malone credited Howarth's versatility (see above) with the reason he was cast as Todd and as one of the contributing factors for the character's subsequent complexity. During a February 2, 1993 interview with magazine Soap Opera Digest, Howarth stated he was surprised he won the part. "I really don't know how I made it," he said. He met a One Life to Live casting director two years before acquiring the role when he was in a New York play. When he heard about the opening on the show, he "auditioned just like everybody else". Howarth said, "I made it to callbacks, and I got the part." During an August 10, 1993 interview with Soap Opera Weekly, he grimaced as he was read a quote from the February 1993 interview. He previously stated, "I was happy to get the part of Todd, but it was the furthest thing from the fabric of my personality." Howarth responded to hearing this quote by saying, "What a totally self-involved, pretentious thing to say." He clarified, "When it comes to creating a character for a soap opera, they have to go with an archetype, one that's recognizable. The one they created with Todd is that he's privileged and very rich." Howarth said, "My upbringing was not like that at all. Status is really important to the characters I seem to be playing. To me, Roger, I don't think it's that important."
Howarth was consistently cast as a bad guy, and said he did not know why but loved it. He decided he "would never want to come in now and play a nice guy for three months" and the bad-boy persona fit him well. He said playing nice would be "dreadfully" boring, but it was just as easy to portray a bad guy as to portray a good guy. He said the key to understanding Todd is Todd's concern for how he is perceived by people. "I don't think Todd's obnoxious, and I can't try to play obnoxious. It's so important to him to think he looks good to others," said Howarth. "He's able to mistreat people, which in turn pumps him up. He doesn't appear to the world to be vulnerable in any way. His defense mechanisms have spun out of control."
Howarth considered Todd's rationale for raping Marty as a complex matter. "Todd was in love with Marty," he said. Though Todd and Marty initially have a one-night stand, she rejects his later romantic advances; this begins to upset Todd and eventually starts to fester. Todd failing an exam only adds to his frustration because everything "had always come so easy to him". Rather than admitting he is the reason for failing his exam, he blames Marty, saying it is his tutor's fault. From that point on, he tries to cast his problems off on Marty.
In an April 5, 1994 interview to magazine Soap Opera Update, Howarth commented on Todd's clothing style. This was before Todd's wardrobe would eventually be regulated to mostly "suit-wear". Todd would dress in expensive grunge, Salvation Army-like "rags". Howarth described Todd's "suit-wear" as "all Ralph Lauren" and "[d]ouble R.L. 80 dollar pants and a 400-and-something-dollar jacket". At the time, the clothing was the only thing he admired about the character, and found it disturbing people could romantically desire a character he considered unhealthy. "I don't get it," he said. "I don't want to insult anybody, but I don't know why he's attractive." Though the interviewer concluded Howarth's own good looks may have contributed to the character's attractiveness, Howarth surmised, for some reason, skinny white guys were in demand.
Howarth was perplexed by writers who feel villains need to be redeemed. "Todd's a pretty interesting character just the way he is," said Howarth. "There's no need to fix it if it's not broken. I don't know where the whole notion of redeeming characters comes from. People used to say to me, 'I hope you get redeemed so you can stay on the show.' Well, Todd hasn't been redeemed, and he's still on the show." Howarth continued, "I don't love the character I play. If I met Todd on the street, I wouldn't say 'Hi' to him, but I do love playing this character." Asked about Todd's future, in a 1994 interview months later, he said he had no predictions about what was going to happen to the character, but he would be happy portraying Todd regardless. He did, however, have concerns about what direction the writers might take Todd. "I've been lucky because Todd's done a lot of things and he's gotten the chance to show different parts of his personality," he stated. "[Todd's] not one-dimensional. We've covered many things and I'm not sure what's left to do, but I hope they just don't compromise Todd. I just want him to stay the jerk that everyone loves!"
During Howarth's portrayal, the writers detailed Todd's personality as a combination of dark humor, uncouth behavior, and the essence of a tortured soul. The character would often deliver one-liners that ranged from humorous to sadistic. In 1997 and 1998, he is given comedic partners to sometimes help emphasize this aspect. The first addition is Charlie Briggs, portrayed by actor Robert J. Hogan. Hogan was first seen as Briggs in 1995; he is working for rival company The Banner before Todd "[steals] him away". Hogan said, "Briggs had been on the show for 17 years, but they never showed him."
Similar to comedy teams, where the "funny guy" usually has a "straight man" who either sets up the joke or simply does not understand it, Briggs was Todd's "straight man". An element the writers added was Todd's inability to sometimes realize the joke was about him. Scenes between Todd and Briggs typically involved Todd issuing "some bizarre order" to Briggs, or Todd asking Briggs a "way-out question" that was often "way out of line". During these scenes, the script would sometimes have Briggs respond with a "stupefied look" on his face. Though Briggs appeared lost at some of Todd's comments, Hogan felt Briggs was "more than a match" for Todd. "You look at a kid yelling at you," he said, "and you can't take him seriously".
Todd's second comedic pairing becomes his friendship with a parrot he names Moose; the bird was portrayed by two South American blue and gold Macaws named Flash and Lucky. Part of Todd's character trait within the story is he is closest to this bird than to most humans. He tells his private thoughts and secrets to Moose, which puts the character in direct conflict with Todd's then-wife Téa Delgado. Actress Florencia Lozano, Téa's portrayer, clarified: "My character, um, has a very adversarial relationship with the bird. Um ... it's sort of jealous of me, I'm jealous of the bird. We're both trying to get close to Todd."
In addition to Moose and Téa's antagonistic relationship, the series designed the bird's dialogue to usually assist Todd's train of thought. Consisting of "funny" or insulting remarks aimed at anyone causing problems for Todd, Moose's words not only often displayed what Todd was likely thinking but signified the close bond between the two. The parrots' awareness of the real world compared to the fictional world helped them to connect as the character, with the actors, and achieve better comedic timing. Parrot trainer Ed Richman, explained, "The character of Todd would be yelling or screaming or somebody else would be yelling or screaming ... Uh ... the birds kind of know in their hearts, inside of them, that it's not real." Richman had been working with Flash and Lucky for fifteen years, and the birds had developed an "impressive résumé", having appeared on shows such as Magnum, P.I. and Jake and the Fatman, which eventually led them to One Live to Live as Todd's pet parrot. Richman stated that Howarth caught on "real quick" regarding his interaction with Flash and Lucky and he was the best actor he had worked with in the industry.
To achieve different personality moods for Moose, the producers would trade parrots; Flash was used for intimidating scenes where it looked like he "was going to kill somebody", and Lucky was used for the "loving, very caring, physically close" portrayal of Moose. The parrots did not actually speak themselves; voice actor Ron Gallop was used to deliver the verbal aspects of the character. Gallop joked, "I train them not to speak so that I have a job." Lozano recalled, "I've had monologues with them and, you know ... just like any other kind of—acting with anyone else or anything else—you take it off of the bird or the person. And, um, obviously, the birds are really good actors because—they're just being honest."
Other characteristics defining Todd were the character's eating habits, his nightmares, and issues with sexual intimacy. The character typically ate with his bare hands, while usually refusing to use silverware. Within the story, Téa is at times determined to teach Todd proper table manners. Todd is aware of proper table etiquette, but prefers not to acknowledge this. Téa is also there to help console him about his nightmares, and wants him to open up about them. Todd's nightmares were designed as a look into his "soul" and personality; they are the driving factor behind him barely getting rest. Though rare for him to discuss the matter, he eventually opens up to Téa about them.
Todd's resistance to sexual intimacy stemmed from his horrific past misdeeds and romantic past with Blair Cramer. In addition to his mental anguish for having raped Marty, he had become bitter after surviving a near-death experience and being presumed dead in 1995. Upon his return in 1996, he discovers Blair on the floor of their penthouse having sex with Patrick Thornhart, which causes him to "shut down" emotionally and to seek revenge against the two. Todd subsequently limits his emotional affection to his daughter, his sister and occasionally to children. The writers often emphasized Todd's fear of sexual intimacy by making this a prominent obstacle for Todd and Téa's relationship. At one point in the series, Téa is shown to strip down naked in front of Todd and plead for him to make love to her. In response, Todd angrily throws her out into the cold — a rejection more about not being ready for human closeness of this nature again than a genuine rejection of Téa. Todd having been raped at age 14 by his adoptive father was suggested by the series and seen as a possible cause for his low libido. The character later renews his interest in sex when romantically reunited with Blair, but at the time remains ambivalent towards sexual interaction.
The two essential components completing Todd's personality are his cleverness and use of weaponry (such as bombs and guns). Howarth's portrayal showcased the character consistently out-smarting police, family and anyone he targeted, sometimes with weapons. In one storyline, he fakes split personalities in order to avoid a life sentence in prison for holding 14 people hostage; he had used fake dynamite because he knew he would be able incite fear without the real version. He was scripted to always remain one step ahead of his enemies.
Trevor St. John
In May 2003, months following Howarth's departure from the series, the character was recast. Actor Trevor St. John stepped into the role; however, it was not yet determined the character he was portraying was Todd until August of that year. In May 2011, with Howarth's return as the character, St. John's version was rewritten as Todd's identical twin brother, Victor Lord, Jr., instead. The series documented Victor being conditioned to believe he was Todd and to assume Todd's identity.
St. John initially took the role of Walker Laurence, while exhibiting uncanny similarities to Todd. Eventually, the audience started to notice, which created suspicion throughout the soap opera community regarding Walker's identity. Magazine TV Guide soon realized the matter, and set up an interview with St. John. Wanting to immediately address the question, Delaina Dixon of the magazine bluntly asked St. John if his character was Todd. St. John replied, "I don't look anything like Todd." Further pressed and asked if maybe he was Todd but with plastic surgery, St. John still did not answer directly. "He had a different voice and height," he said. The interviewer noted anything is possible in the soap opera world. St. John agreed, but informed her that the audience would definitively know on August 26, 2003, and that they should keep watching.
As suspected, Walker was eventually revealed to be "Todd." St. John's version of the character was said to have received plastic surgery after being severely beaten to the point of disfigurement during a murder attempt on his life ordered by Mitch Laurence. While recovering in the hospital, St. John's Todd conducts research and learns Mitch has a brother named Walker (also portrayed by St. John), who goes by the name Flynn Laurence. "Todd" pays Flynn for information on Mitch, and has extensive plastic surgery in order to physically resemble Flynn and get revenge on (as well as protect his family from) Mitch.
Malone stated, "During my second stint at One Life, I had to decide whether or not I should recast Todd." Malone said the series could not let Todd leave the canvas. "There was a committee involved in this recast," he said, "but during [St. John’s] audition, which was extraordinary, we all agreed he was Todd. And that unanimous decision is very rare in this business, as you know. It was a risky choice, but he really made it work." Malone said he felt St. John made the character his own.
St. John did not know Malone and executives were considering him as Todd, but said there was no strategy in his performance as the character once he won the role. "I feel the moment is by far the most interesting thing, and the only thing worth exploring. I think what you’re seeing is a non-interpretive performance," he said. "Todd is already written on the page, so it’s my job to bring him to life in that moment. The answer is in the question. I don’t think in terms of evilness, goodness or vulnerability. This is the line, and this is how I feel, so I act it without analyzing it to death." St. John said he prefers the audience to interpret the character. He said teachers do not teach actors that in acting class. "Teachers tell you to interpret the character," he said. "I disagree. A character exists irrespective of how an actor plays the role. I know it’s an unusual way to approach acting."
When asked if he watched Howarth's work as Todd before portraying the character, St. John said, "They wanted me to watch about 15 episodes because the producers expected me to play Todd like [Howarth]. This was before I started shooting. I watched two episodes but I never tried to mimic [Howarth's] style." St. John said, "As an actor, that’s ridiculous. I needed to get a sense of who Todd was first, and that has to happen organically. I don’t care if Marlon Brando played the role before me. An actor shoots himself in the foot when you try to play a part like another actor. It’s awful — and very limiting and very uncreative."
Analyzing Todd, St. John felt it was nice to step into the role and have instant concrete relationships: "There was so much history with Todd. I became a core character. It was grounding. I could look at old scripts and ask people, 'What was your relationship with Todd like?' Whereas with Walker, no one knew." He said this is what acting is all about — "your relationship to people when you figure out how to play a scene".
Regarding Todd's style, St. John focused more on the character's hair. He told magazine Soap Opera Weekly that he wanted a haircut. He hoped the show's writers and producers would let him trim off a little of it. "It's just not me to be this shaggy. Right now it's OK, because I've made the creative choice that I'm letting myself go because [Todd's] not really right in the old noggin," he said. "They asked me to leave it alone until further notice. I even gained a little weight so it looks like I'm not thinking about appearance. But personally, I'd like to be a little cleaner."
Due to the praise Howarth received for his portrayal of the character, as well as the length of his portrayal, it became inevitable viewers and the soap opera media would start to compare St. John's performance as the villain to Howarth's. They wondered how Howarth might have acted out certain scenes and recited certain lines. St. John replied:
It's like saying that if you play Hamlet, every actor who plays it has to play each line with the same inflection, the same intention. I don't care what the other guy did. That's his time. Those are the characteristics Todd had simply because he was the only one who played it. As far as I'm concerned, it's just a name and words on a page. What I do after that is up to me. I'm playing it now. I know that sounds very arrogant and overconfident, but it would be no fun to try to mimic somebody.
St. John acknowledged the love/hate relationship viewers have with Todd, but commented on how this factor keeps the character from becoming boring. "It’s fun," he stated, "bad guys are always the most popular, I think." St. John felt that likeability is unnecessary. "I think empathy is what people respond to. If you understand a person, the person can do whatever unlikable act, and you’ll still be rooting for him," he said. He added, "And Todd’s kind of both good and bad. He’s got his good side with his kids, and yet he is conniving and vicious and all those negative things. That’s the kind of character people like to watch. No one likes to watch a monolith of niceness. The worst thing a writer could do is make a character nice, period. Or likeable."
St. John said Todd is capable of anything, in his opinion. "When people ask: 'Would Todd ever kill anyone or hit Starr or Blair,' I always answer, 'sure.' If I say no, then I’m limiting the character," he stated. "Todd is a marvelous character to play because he could commit genocide, or find a cure for AIDS. He’s full of possibilities — good and bad." St. John said, "Who knows what someone is truly capable of? Who’s to say that Todd isn’t attracted to one of Starr’s friends, or Starr herself, even? What if Todd wants to kill Viki in one moment? See, as an actor that always gives you conflict to play — and that subtext enriches a performance."
Reception and impact
Todd's impact is varied. The rape storyline inspired feminist studies, and won Daytime Emmy Awards, including actor, actress and writer Emmys, in 1994; Howarth won for Outstanding Younger Actor. In 1995, he was nominated for an Emmy as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and won the Soap Opera Digest Award for Outstanding Younger Lead Actor. In 1998, he won the Soap Opera Digest Award for Outstanding Villain. He won additional soap opera awards in the years following, and his portrayal is credited with making Todd a legend and icon within the soap opera medium.
At the height of the character's popularity, there were female viewers expressing ardent desire for the fictional rapist in such a way that it unnerved Howarth; fans would scream "Rape me, Todd" at fan events. Adult male fans spoke of the excitement Todd brought to the show, and young boys and girls enjoyed the character as well. The character's popularity extended to talk shows, where hosts would address Howarth about the "rabid" attention he and his character received. On May 17, 1994, he appeared with six other male soap opera stars on the Phil Donahue Show, and discussed Todd's scar, his love for soccer aside from acting, and working with child co-stars. That same month, he appeared on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, following his Daytime Emmy win. As Regis Philbin started to introduce Howarth, he stated, "This guy is hot! More mail than any other soap star going....he's a terrible villain, who's become a heartthrob to thousands of wildly adoring fans...." When Howarth came out, Philbin said Howarth did not look like "such a bad guy". The interview consisted of professional and personal detail, and concluded with Philbin introducing a clip of Todd in a confessional; he was confessing his sins of the past and one of the future. The audience applauded when the clip was finished, and Philbin and Kathie Lee praised Howarth's performance. Philbin said that Howarth was "very, very convincing". Howarth explained it took hundreds of people behind the scenes to get an episode of a soap opera together.
Todd's "rampant" popularity intruded on Howarth's life. "It's really starting to frustrate me because I can't just go to work anymore," he said. When asked if he would leave the role, he replied, "Acting is always something I thought I'd do, but it's something I think I could leave....I'd have to let you know if it worked out or not, but there are moments when I really want to go away and do something else." Howarth leaving the show often preoccupied fans with their love for Todd, and his returns were met with anticipation and hype; the character coming back in 2000 for his love at the time, Téa Delgado, received significant fanfare. Soap Opera Magazine felt Howarth's face "greatly" attributed to the character's success, as they listed him in their February 24, 1998 article Daytime's Most Fascinating Faces. The magazine stated, "Although the scar that traverses his face while he plays Llanview’s dark prince isn’t real, the menacing intensity Roger Howarth can so effortlessly convey with his eyes and furrowed brow are frighteningly authentic." Soap Opera Weekly said "Howarth's presence is hypnotic. He's focused (just watch his eyes), and has given Todd such a deliciously frightening edge we hope he wreaks more havoc in Llanview..." Marla Hart of the Chicago Tribune stated, "...it has been an unexpected pleasure to watch actor Roger Howarth as a lost soul in search of spiritual redemption in his role as ex-rapist Todd on One Life to Live. It's those dark corners that make Howarth so interesting to tune in to..." Howarth's acclaim as Todd continued throughout his entire tenure on the show.
St. John and the writers received praise for St. John's portrayal of the character being smartly integrated into the series. Soap Opera Weekly stated, "They said it couldn't be done. One Life to Live's Todd (previously played by Roger Howarth) could not be recast. But with an appealing actor and the right pacing, One Life to Live may just have done it." The magazine said the "writers unfolded the reveal very slowly, first letting Walker develop as a new character before dropping hints that he could be Todd" and "[by] the time 'Walker' finally let Starr in on his secret, the audience already suspected the truth, but still wanted to hear it from the horse's mouth. The scene was one of those great (and, these days, rare) must-see moments". Soap Opera Digest said "[b]eing a recast is difficult enough" but that "St. John aptly distinguished between Walker, who's really Todd, as well as Flynn, who pretended to be Walker" and "let glimmers of Todd shine through. We could see Todd when Walker lowered his eyes while holding back from telling his sister, Viki; with fiancee Blair, Walker's gaze was always shifting, making sure nothing could clue her in to his secret". Additionally, the magazine credited St. John with maintaining "the [uniquely scheming] relationship of Todd and Starr" and for keeping their scenes touching and delightful.
On May 29, 2006, Memorial Day, St. John delivered what has been described as "one of the most memorable... breathtaking, nerve-racking and heart wrenching" moments in soap opera history for his portrayal of Todd receiving capital punishment (execution). Within the series, St. John's version of the character is put to death by lethal injection, an action set up by enemy Spencer Truman. Todd's wife, Blair, screams in terror as the process happens. Moments after "Todd" is put to death, John McBain rushes in declaring Todd's innocence. He has proof; the woman Todd is accused of killing (Margaret Cochran) is at his side, clearly still alive. Spencer, a doctor, is forced to bring Todd back to life on the spot.
Making the execution scenes particularly gloomy were flashbacks showing the lives of both Todds (Howarth's and St. John's) — from their romances with Blair, to the birth of Todd's children and a song entitled "Forsaken" (or "Todd's Song") by Michal Towber overlapping the five-minute and twenty-four second montage, to Blair's disbelief in St. John's Todd's innocence while their daughter stands outside of the prison crying in the presence of a lynch mob. The scenes were cited as "unbearable", and Blair's unwillingness to believe in Todd infuriated the audience. At the time, the majority of audience (due to either reduced Internet access, in comparison to regular Internet users, or lack of interest in show spoilers) believed Todd's death was permanent. Viewers expressed desire for St. John to receive an Emmy nomination; Frank Valentini, One Life to Live's executive producer, when asked by TV Guide which episode the show submitted for Emmy consideration, stated, "We submitted the 'Todd's execution' episode for best show." While St. John was not nominated for an Emmy, the storyline surrounding "Todd's Execution" landed the show an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Drama Series, and Towber was among one of the show's composers nominated in the Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction And Composition For A Drama Series category. In 2009, TV Guide and On Air On Soaps named St. John's portrayal of the scenes as the Top Male Performance of the Decade.
Rape and redemption
Though the Marty Saybrooke rape storyline was well-received, it was also criticized. There were opinions that it polarized "the gap between rapists and the raped". There was concern the show departed from the rape paradigm by not only insisting the essential "goodness" of Powell Lord, who had also raped Marty, but it implied peer pressure "could be an adequate (or even physiologically possible) excuse for rape". Analyst Mary Buhl Dutta stated, "Marty had once 'cried rape' when the Rev. Andrew Carpenter rebuffed her romantic overtures, falsely accusing him of sexually abusing a boy he was counseling. After her rape, she falsely (albeit unintentionally) accuses an innocent man of having participated in the attack" and this means "[s]he is a 'bad girl' because she had a one-night stand with Todd before the rape, bolstering his later claim she 'asked for it' in their second sexual encounter".
Critics have additionally wondered why Todd is popular. "Why have millions of soap viewers been obsessed with (or enamored of) this rapist for [all these] years? (There were hiatuses when the character left town and returned.)," stated soap opera journalist Marlena De Lacroix. "Why has the show devoted years of storyline time to him and all but made a hero out of a criminal?" Further, the character's redemption was controversial and has been scrutinized. In his book Behold the Man, Edisol Dotson suggests acceptance of Todd's redemption as significantly being due to the character's physical attractiveness. "Viewers found it in their hearts to forgive Todd his acts of rape and murder. Why? Fans of One Life to Live consider Todd attractive and sexy," stated Dotson. "Were Todd an ugly man, he would have never been forgiven, and female fans would not crowd the studio's backdoor shouting his name."
In a June 1994 interview with TV Guide, Malone described the pattern of rapists redeemed as "the bond between the woman and violator". He stated it is a great historical tradition in fiction and films and cited actors such as Rudolph Valentino, Humphrey Bogart, Kirk Douglas, and Clark Gable, saying they all began as totally irredeemable villains. "You certainly don't want to say these women want to be raped or that they are drawn to violence, because that's not true," he said. "But they are responding to the intensity of passion and an actor who lets you inside the torment. Some [women] believe they can be swept up in that passion and still turn it good. They think, 'With me, he'd be different.'" To this, the publisher of the article, Michael Logan, created controversy when he commented on Malone's analysis by stating "there is a large contingent of American female soap viewers who find something very attractive about rapists". The female viewers aware of Logan's rape comment were infuriated by it. One woman criticized the argument, saying she did not like Todd because he is a rapist, but rather because of Howarth's performances as the character.
In 1995, Howarth left the role for the first time. Significantly brought on by Todd's redemption storyline, he said he had no desire to portray a redeemed Todd. In the October 24, 1995 Soap Opera Digest issue, he stated:
In the beginning, the character of Todd was successful. I'll always be proud of this story, because it was the result of a real team effort. It was one of those spectacular times when the writer, producer, director, grips, engineers and actors were all on the same wavelength. Everybody was working toward a common goal. My task, at the time, was to show the humanity of someone who was basically inhuman. Todd wasn't one-dimensional, but he was definitely a serious psychopath. Todd was a serial rapist. He raped Carol Swift. Then, he raped Marty Saybrooke, and that rape was brutal, intense, violent and realistic. There were innuendos he had raped other women before. He stalked Nora, he stalked and tried to rape Luna. [Then-Executive Producer] Linda Gottlieb told me with reasonable certainty that [One Life to Live] would not try to redeem Todd. So, I didn't think the character would change. Then about a year ago, it became clear to me they were taking the character on a different path — they were redeeming him. In my mind, I'd been hired to play Todd Manning, a very realistic, serious psychopath. But now, the powers-that-be wanted me to play Todd Lord. And the story of Todd Lord is not realistic — it's a fairy tale. I thought, "It would be best for the show if I were to leave." That's when I tendered my resignation.
Howarth went on to say Todd and Marty suddenly bonding did not make sense and he could not, in good conscience, promote the story of Todd Lord, who had become a likeable character. "If the rape had been an unrealistic, soapy thing, then it wouldn't matter. But because it was so in-depth and so brutal, to show Todd and Marty having drinks together in Rodi's — to show Marty feeling safe and comfortable with Todd — is bizarre," he said. "People have come up to me and said, 'My 7-year-old loves you.' What do I say to that? I'm not going to tell them, 'Don't let your 7-year-old watch TV.' But I have to say, it's disturbing."
Entertainment Weekly reported One Life to Live agreed to let Howarth go on the condition he would not appear on another soap opera for 12 months. Howarth continued to leave and return to the role until his 2003 departure from the series, but ensured Todd was never fully redeemed.
ABC executives viewed Todd as their main fictional bad guy, and felt the idea of marketing him in the form of a toy would be promising. In 2002, they finally acted on this notion, and released a rag doll into their store based on the character but were thwarted by a backlash. As did other news outlets, on May 6, 2002, The Stranger gave insight into the matter:
Today, the Associated Press reported on the messy merchandising mishap currently making waves at ABC. At the center of the mini-snafu is Todd Manning, a fictional character on ABC's never-say-die soap opera One Life To Live, portrayed by actor Roger Howarth. So popular was the character, ABC execs licensed and produced a collectible Todd Manning doll, selling the daytime-TV action figure through the network's online store for $19.95. But after only a few days, the Manning doll was unceremoniously yanked from the ABC site, with marketing execs citing Todd Manning's 'unsavory past' as the reason for the about-face. For those out of the soap opera loop, Manning's unsavory past includes one attempted murder and two attempted rapes, the latter of which left him with a menacing scar down his right cheek — a flaw lovingly reproduced on the Manning doll. "We didn't exercise proper sensitivity to the history of the character of Todd," said Sally Schoneboom, vice president of media and talent relations. "We have reevaluated and decided not to sell the doll."
The uproar began when The Jack Myers Report harshly criticized the network's judgment on creating and releasing the doll. Bob Tedeschi of The New York Times stated, "In the charge toward e-commerce revenues, ABC learned a useful lesson last week: Don't try to sell cuddly rag dolls depicting homicidal rapists." Pictures of the doll were pulled from the Internet and the doll was blocked from being available at eBay or any other online store.
Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun-Times also discussed the matter, and described the doll's exact design from ABC's own promotion line of the item: "Todd is an all-cloth doll with brown felt hair and blue eyes. He is 20 inches standing. He wears a blue shirt and black pants." In contrast to Howarth's hazel eyes (which appear blue with complementary shirts or lights), the doll's blue eyes were a result of the doll being an exact replica of the One Life to Live Starr daydream cartoons. As Todd's daughter and also popular for her mischief, a doll was designed in Starr's (Kristen Alderson's) likeness as well, which remained in ABC stores.
Following Howarth's departure from the series in 2003, and Todd being recast, the character became the topic of controversy again; there was significant outcry from fans who felt Todd Manning is a character that should never be recast. They stated that Howarth would remain the only Todd. St. John, however, managed to engage a portion of the audience by integrating his own "spin" on the character, which subsequently gained him a significant One Life to Live fanbase. This "spin" resulted in positive response from viewers who had come to accept St. John's portrayal. The soap opera media noticed as well. Soap opera columnist Jill Berry professed her approval for this new aspect of the character in her weekly commentary. "Trevor's Todd continues to impress me. He has given some sweetness to Todd that I find totally appealing," she said.
In late 2006, with speculation St. John would be departing from the series, rumors began to circulate Howarth would be returning to the role. TV Guide sought to clear up the matter and questioned executive producer Frank Valentini. "I can't really comment on contracts," Valentini stated. "I'll get in trouble. [Pause] I will say that we're doing our best to make sure that we do right by the audience."
In 2007, TV Guide received official confirmation Howarth would not be returning to the series. "The answer to the question," they stated, was "a resounding 'Nope!'" What initially started the rumor of Howarth's return was the fact Howarth and St. John were in the midst of contract negotiations at their individual shows. "It was widely speculated Howarth could return as OLTL's Todd." To gauge the reactions of Howarth's possible return, TVGuide.com conducted a poll; an overwhelming 82 percent of voters wanted to see Howarth come back to portray Todd. Daniel R. Coleridge of the website, however, disagreed with the results. "Perhaps I'm in the minority," he said, "but I absolutely adore Trevor St. John. His Todd is very cocky, arrogant and humorous in a sexy way that makes this Llanviewer wanna slap him — and then totally make out with him!"
In August 2010, rumors circulated again Howarth would be returning to the role. Initially due to the 2009 announcement As the World Turns, Howarth's most recent series, would be ending in September 2010, and would therefore tempt ABC executives to make an effort to lure him back, the rumors gained momentum after an August 2010 episode of One Life to Live. In the episode, a picture of Todd's old face (Howarth's) is shown and a delirious Téa utters a line stating the current Todd (St. John) is not Todd Manning. This caused fans "to race to their computers to figure out the meaning of the scene." They wondered whether it was "crafted merely to get fans talking, or was it a hint to viewers something big was coming down the pike?"
Soap Opera Network further exacerbated the rumor when they stated they had "learned exclusively Howarth [would] indeed be returning" to the series in the near future. The site pointed to their unnamed sources, and teased that Howarth would be back by January. The "That's not Todd" scene served their point when they stated "something big" was happening behind the scenes. Soap Opera Digest columnist Carolyn Hinsey, however, went against the report. "Seriously, stop with the Howarth misinformation here please," Hinsey posted on her Facebook page. "He is not coming back to OLTL. Case closed."
On April 4, 2011, after several months of speculation, One Life to Live confirmed Howarth would be returning to the series, though it was still unresolved whether or not he would be portraying Todd Manning. "I am looking forward to returning to One Life to Live," stated Howarth. "We are going to have a lot of fun telling this story, and I am excited to see how it will unfold." Valentini added, "We are thrilled to have Roger return to One Life to Live," and Kristen Alderson (Starr) responded via Twitter, "It's official! Daddy's back! HUGE STUFF!" Howarth made his onscreen return on May 13, 2011.
Fans were divided on what role they believed Howarth would portray. The first group believed St. John was an impostor posing as Todd for the past eight years. The second group believed that Howarth would portray a new character, similar to how General Hospital's Sarah Brown, the show's original Carly, returned as Claudia Zacchara. On August 16 and 17, it was revealed that the two Todd Mannings are identical twin brothers, and St. John's version of the character was really Victor Lord, Jr., conditioned to believe he was Todd and assume Todd's identity.
Questions about Todd's identity and his mental stability were also voiced in March 2008. The audience witnessed "some of the most explosive and ugliest scenes ever broadcast on daytime" television when St. John's Todd beat up teenager Cole Thornhart (his daughter's boyfriend and Marty's son), and manhandled fellow teenagers Markko Rivera and Langston Wilde. Viewers were outraged, and wanted Todd punished for his physical abuse of the minors. According to Nelson Branco of TV Guide, head writer Ron Carlivati wanted to return Todd to his dark roots; part of that was showing Todd as a monster again:
Carlivati chose to do something rather unique, bold and risky with one of his marquee characters. Instead of trying to sell [the audience] Todd is a changed man, Carlivati essentially initiated a dialogue with the audience: "You want to know how damaged this man is? I’ll show you — and it ain’t pretty."
The series showcased St. John's version of the character having this altercation with Cole on Starr's birthday after Cole and Starr have finished having sex for the first time. St. John's Todd barges in "and [beats] the son of his rape victim relentlessly". The attack turns Starr's "magical night" into one of the worst days of her life. Branco reasoned that what inflamed the situation upon Todd's arrival in witnessing the two in bed is Todd's inability to sometimes separate sex from violence. Branco related that, due to this fault, Carlivati conveyed St. John's Todd as convinced Cole had raped his daughter as karmic payback. "Todd, in that instance, became unhinged, paranoid, and out-of-control. Ripping into Langston for setting the rape in motion because 'she’s jealous Starr has parents, and wants Cole for herself.'" During the scenes, when Starr insists Cole did not rape her, Todd is in denial. He almost "reactively" hits Starr twice when she challenges him on these thoughts. The scenes, though controversial, were praised as "riveting". There was hope that they would lead to a storyline "which [would] delve into Todd’s mind, and interestingly enlighten viewers as to the complexities of a character who is mentally ill".
Romancing rape victim and rape revisited
In 2007, head writer Carlivati decided to revisit the rape storyline and create a spin-off story from that. In December of the same year, Marty is shown to be thrown from a van during a crash. The van explodes, and she is presumed dead. In June 2008, St. John's Todd discovers her alive; she is afflicted with amnesia and crippled since the crash. He subsequently starts to nurse her back to health. This interaction unnerved the audience, as they witnessed "Todd" lying to Marty about her identity and her importance to the people she loves, the two bonding, and Marty having a positive flashback of her recent interaction with him. Viewers speculated the writers would romantically pair the characters. Howarth was against the idea of romantically pairing Todd and Marty when he was in the role and had sensed attempts to follow through with the notion. Viewers became conflicted about whether or not they believed the writers would now follow through with the storyline. The writers eventually went ahead with the story, which resulted in widespread controversy, from TV Guide to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) weighing in on the matter.
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- Todd Manning profile – ABC.com
- Todd Manning 101 – SOAPnet.com
- Todd Manning profile – SoapCentral.com