With American Horror Story carving itself an impressive legacy on our screens, the acclaimed horror anthology rightly takes the crown as one of the best TV shows in living memory. From the humble roots of 2010’s Murder House to the wily witches of Coven, the controversial Cult to dystopian Apocalypse, we’ve seen it all.
Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s campy cacophony is still a ratings giant as we power ahead with American Horror Story: 1984. As the likes of Brooke, Xavier, and Mr. Jingles vye to become their own legendary AHS characters, let’s rank the 10 most iconic members from the ensemble’s first eight seasons.
Naomi Grossman underwent a complete transformation to play Pepper — American Horror Story: Asylum‘s misunderstood inmate. Pepper’s affliction of microcephalic means you’d struggle to spot Grossman under the prosthetics.
Pepper also has the honour of being one of the few characters to make it into another season. In a pre-Aslyum world, we also met Pepper (and her lover called Salty) in Freak Show.
Sadly, Pepper’s story has a typically sombre end. Even though Sister Jude was rescued from Briarcliff Manor, Pepper was confirmed to have died from pulmonary fibrosis in 1966.
9. Dandy Mott
Despite Freak Show being largely held as the turning point where AHS started to lose its spark, we can’t mention Season 4 without giving a nod to Finn Wittrock’s Dandy Mott.
If seeing Dandy parade around in Y-fronts and do his exercises wasn’t enough to send pulses racing, Wittrock also channelled some serious Patrick Bateman vibes. Becoming the de facto villain of Freak Show, Dandy’s damaged psyche was arguably more ‘twisted’ than Twisty the Clown.
Dandy racked up an impressive number of kills before Bette and Dot, Desiree, and Jimmy drowned him in a water tank. Dandy was the show’s most prolific serial killer until James Patrick March came along.
8. Sister Mary Eunice
While Lily Rabe was brilliant as Nora Montgomery in Murder House, she really came into her own as Asylum‘s Sister Mary Eunice. The loyal right-hand woman of Sister Jude, Sister Mary Eunice had one of American Horror Story‘s most tragic arcs.
Mary Eunice had a ‘nun-believable’ experience at Briarcliff. The innocent soul of the Sister left her open to the devil, which possessed her during a botched exorcism. It’s here that Rabe really came into her own as she played the sexed-up version of Mary Eunice.
Everything culminated in a tense showdown with Monsignor Timothy Howard where Mary Eunice briefly broke free and begged for him to put her out of her misery.
7. Constance Langdon
The OG hostess with the mostest, Constance Langdon cemented Jessica Lange as the cornerstone of the Horror Story world. The scorned housewife had a touch of class as this southern belle and definitely added some decorum to Murhpy’s freshman season.
Sure, there were some psychotic tendencies bubbling under the service, but there’s no denying that Constance always put her kids first. Who could forget her many barbs at Moira O’Hara and her iconic quotes like, “Don’t make me kill you again.”
Constance got a second time to shine in the limelight when Lange had her long-awaited return for American Horror Story: Apocalypse. Delivering possibly the best episode of the show’s entire run, “Murder House” was an emotional outing that neatly tied up those lingering questions from Season 1 and gave Constance the swansong she deserved.
6. Michael Langdon
Keeping it in the family, Constance is just pipped to the post by her demented grandson. From the moment he stepped onto the scene at the end of American Horror Story: Apocalypse‘s premiere, Cody Fern looked like’d be trouble as the long-haired Langdon.
As first roles go in the Murhpy-Verse, Fern’s couldn’t have been much better. He played Antichrist Michael Langdon with great gusto and became the big bad of the crossover season.
Although Murphy tried to flesh out the character’s backstory and give him a more sympathetic edge, there’s no denying this guy is pure evil. Gifting fans a truly satisfying fist bump moment, who didn’t cheer when Mallory mushed his body into the road?
5. Madison Montgomery
One little ‘witch’ that made her mark from the very second she stepped on the scene was Madison Montgomery. The Hollywood starlet joined in Coven and promptly killed a director with her powers before she flipped a school bus full of rapey jocks.
Basically, if Maidson wants it, she gets it. Despite not being the Supreme, Madison fell victim to Fiona Goode’s villainous ways and then became the dead plaything of Spaulding. Seemingly a cat with nine lives, Madison has been resurrected, confined to her own personal hell in the service industry, and brought back (again) by Michael Langdon.
By the time Apocalypse rolled around, Madison was something of reformed character and started to show her softer side. As well as being part of the acclaimed ” Murder House” episode, who could forget her constant bickering with Billy Poter’s Behold Chablis?
4. Liz Taylor
Denis O’Hare has always been a personal favourite of mine when it comes to American Horror Story, but no part comes close to his turn as transgender Liz Taylor in Hotel.
Although the Cortez had a complicated guest book of vampires and ghosts, Liz was relatively ‘normal’ as one of the few inside the hotel’s walls who was still alive. What made Liz such a standout character was her heartbreaking past.
Born as Nick Pryor, he would wear his wife’s clothes on business trips and slowly develop the character of Liz Taylor. She butted heads with the Countess over Tristan and eventually decided she wanted to be killed and become one of the Hotel Cortez’s permanent residents.
Despite the bloodshed, Liz got her wish to reconnect with her son. Awww, we love a happy ending.
3. Lana Winters
Lana “Banana” Winters rightfully wins the award for being Sarah Paulson’s most iconic AHS character and we can’t thank Asylum enough for this. Starting as a snooping investigative journalist, Lana’s life soon unravelled when she locked horns with Sister Jude.
Drawn into the horrors of the Bloody Face case, Lana was subjected to some of Horror Story‘s most uncomfortable scenes. True fans will get a shiver down their spines with two simple words…nipple…lamp.
Eventually breaking free from the confines of Briarcliff, Lana’s journey was only just starting. Arguably the show’s ultimate final girl, we saw an aged Lana taking on her bastard son and ending the legacy of Bloody Face for good. Go, one girl. I like to think she’s partly to credit with me wanting to become a journalist.
2. Tate Langdon
American Horror Story is no stranger to unhinged psychopaths making their mark on history, however, the very first season gave us one of the best. This homicidal maniac quickly gunned his way through his high school and promptly set fire to his stepfather — all this before he was taken out by the police in a hail of bullets.
The seemingly shy son of Constance Langdon and patient of Ben Harmon, it was easy to spot Tate’s growing obsession with Violet. The moment her rotting corpse was discovered in the house’s crawl space is still a harrowing scene that stays under your skin.
All of this would be enough to make Tate one of the show’s biggest villains of all time, but that’s before we even touch on the fact he was the sinister Rubber Man. Killing (and sodomising) Patrick and Chad was just the start. Tate then went on to rape Vivien Harmon and sire the Antichrist that is Michael Langdon.
Yes, Tate had a redemptive arc in Apocalypse, but can we really forgive him? What puts Tate so close to the top is the fact Peters’ skull face has become an iconic piece of imagery connected to American Horror Story.
1. Fiona Goode
Just like the great Anna Leigh Leighton once dubbed Fiona Goode a “vicious little gash”, we couldn’t agree more…and we couldn’t love it more. Some people will always fall into the Constance Langdon camp, but for most, Fiona Goode is peak Jessica Lange.
Even if Fiona was the baddest witch in town and would do anything for her own gain, that doesn’t mean she occasionally showed compassion. Taking a firm stance against homophobia and racism, Fiona would’ve probably been a pretty great Supreme if she hadn’t become preoccupied with offing her potential successors. There’s also the complicated love/hate of her daughter. Cordelia is the rightful heir to the Coven, whereas Fiona was the boozy lush who refused to step aside.
Fiona had many sparring partners over her season, and whether it be butting heads with Madison, Myrtle, Delphine, or Marie, she always had a witty retort. It’s important to remember, “this coven doesn’t need a new Supreme, it needs a new rug”.
As well as drowning Nan and faking her own death, Fiona easily had some of the best dialogue Murphy has ever given one of his characters. Fiona finally got her just desserts as she was trapped in a catfish-stinking shack with the Axeman. It was one ‘hell’ of a way to go, and meanwhile, those immortal words of “knotty pine” are still ringing in my ears.
[Featured Image: FX]