The release of American Horror Story season 10 was delayed due to COVID-19, and fans of Ryan Murphy’s character-driven horror series are eager to find out what the cast and crew have in store for them this time around. The details of each previous season were kept under lock and key, with cryptic hints dropped as the premiere date loomed closer, and best practices are no different for season 10.
What little information we do know about the new season includes the return of AHS alums Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Kathy Bates, Finn Wittrock, Billie Lourd, Adina Porter, Angelica Ross, and Leslie Grossman, all of whom have breathed life to a number of horrifying personalities in the franchise. Rumors have been flitting around that season 10 might be the show’s conclusion, but even if that’s the case, this iconic anthology series will leave us with a vast array of truly memorable characters unlike anything we’ve seen on television before. Here’s our definitive ranking of the best American Horror Story characters.
25. Evie Gallant - AHS: Apocalypse
It’s only natural that Joan Collins would play a character who finds herself in some sort of VIP situation during the apocalypse.
24. Liz Taylor - AHS: Hotel
It’s impossible not to love Denis O’Hare in his role as Liz Taylor, the glamorous, honey-voiced bartender of the Blue Parrot Lounge.
23. Wilhemina Venable - AHS: Apocalypse
If someone’s gonna be on the frontlines of the apocalypse, as depicted in AHS season eight, it damn well better be Sarah Paulson.
22. Twisty the Clown - AHS: Freak Show
Twisty the Clown’s desire to make children laugh resulted in a life of ridicule, betrayal, and tragic disfigurement. One thing’s for sure, he should NEVER take his mask off.
21. Queenie - AHS: Coven
Not everyone can pull off a love scene with a Minotaur, so for that, our hats go off to Queenie.
20. Dandy Mott - AHS: Freak Show
Finn Wittrock takes the “psychopathic rich kid” trope and runs with it in his role as Dandy Mott. No one in the AHS universe can make a full-toothed smile look quite as menacing as Wittrock can.
19. Moira O’Hara - AHS: Murder House
When you’re as fantastic of an actress as Frances Conroy, you get to play a scene-stealing ghost maid who goes toe-to-toe with Jessica Lange’s most dynamic AHS character, Constance Langdon.
18. Montana Duke - AHS: 1984
Billie Lourd adds an extra sparkle to everything she’s in—it runs in the family. 1984 was a stinker of a season, and not just because it was the first without Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters. However, Lourd’s role as a murderous aerobics instructor makes it all worth it.
17. Kai Anderson - AHS: Cult
When the seventh season of AHS aired in 2017, most people were still reeling from the most recent presidential election. Evan Peters as Kai Anderson, a blue-haired, nonsensical cult leader, spun a fictional horror story out of real-life scenarios.
16. The Butcher - AHS: Roanoke
Roanoke was arguably the worst AHS season to date, but Kathy Bates as The Butcher makes it worth the watch. In a documentary reenactment of an urban legend, a witch named Scáthach (Lady Gaga) saves The Butcher from starvation by killing a wild boar and feeding her its heart. In return, The Butcher vows eternal loyalty to Scáthach, and then ventures out to get revenge on the people who left her for dead.
15. Misty Day - AHS: Coven
Lonely swamp witch Misty Day had no coven of her own. With only a small radio to keep her company, she whiled away the hours listening to songs by her favorite singer, Stevie Nicks.
14. Stevie Nicks - AHS: Coven
All the Stevie Nicks references in season three came to fruition when she had a guest appearance on the show. Playing herself, Nicks reveals that she's secretly a witch, and Misty's dream comes true when she gets to meet her idol.
13. Michael Langdon - AHS: Apocalypse
In Murder House, the first season of AHS, Tate Langdon posed as Vivien Harmon’s husband and sexually assaulted her. Vivien became pregnant, and because Tate was a ghost, their baby was not altogether human. Cody Fern plays the adult version of Michael Langdon, the very evil child in question, and his boyish looks make his true devilish nature all the more frightening and unexpected.
12. Myrtle Snow - AHS: Coven
Frances Conroy makes every role special, but Myrtle Snow is truly a standout performance. The hair, the voice, the theremin—it’s perfection. As head of the Witches' Council in AHS season three, Myrtle is exactly the kind of witchy eccentric you’d want on your side.
11. The Countess - AHS: Hotel
Lady Gaga blew us away with her first major TV role in AHS season five, for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. The Countess was once a human actress by the name of Elizabeth Johnson, but tragic life circumstances led to her transformation into an immortal blood drinker and the main proprietor of the doomed Hotel Cortez.
10. Sister Jude Martin - AHS: Asylum
American Horror Story followed up its fantastic first season with Asylum, in which returning cast members took on entirely new characters. Shedding the biting Southern charm of her previous role as Constance Langdon in Murder House, Jessica Lange channeled vulnerable anger and smoldering frustration in her new character, Sister Jude Martin.
9. Marie Laveau - AHS: Coven
Angela Bassett’s captivating portrayal of the notoriously powerful and heavily mythologized New Orleans voodoo queen Marie Laveau is unforgettable. In a 2014 interview with Collider, Bassett shared how AHS creator Ryan Murphy chose her for the role: “New Orleans is one of my favorite cities, and I knew something about the historical figure of Marie Laveau, so I was excited about that, and I think he could see that in me.”
8. Madison Montgomery - AHS: Coven
Mix a witch’s powers with a young Hollywood actress’s burning desire for fame, and there’s bound to be trouble. Madison Montgomery, played to hilarious perfection by Emma Roberts, is sent to Miss Robichaux's Academy after using her gifts to make heavy lighting equipment fall on a director’s head. Rather than provide any sort of rehabilitative guidance, the friends and head witches she meets at the academy only add fuel to her fire.
7. Elsa Mars - AHS: Freak Show
Elsa Mars might have the wildest backstory of all the AHS characters. While working as a dominatrix in a Berlin brothel, she was drugged by two shady men, who amputated her legs during the creation of a snuff film. From there, she made her way to America, seeking out other “freaks” of society to employ in her traveling carnival shows. Lange has said in many interviews that Freak Show was her favorite season to film.
6. Bette and Dot Tattler - AHS: Freak Show
We're technically listing two characters in the #6 spot, but Bette and Dot are a package deal. Playing conjoined identical twins was challenging for Sarah Paulson, to say the least, but her hard work and talent resulted in an extremely memorable role. The actress revealed in interviews that they used a mold of her head which could be moved electronically to help with long shots, and that close ups had to be shot twice—once as naive and idealistic Bette, and then as the more cynical sister, Dot.
5. Fiona Goode - AHS: Coven
Although Lange herself has been vocal in saying that Coven was her least favorite season of AHS, her role as narcissistic supreme witch, Fiona Goode, deserves a spot rounding out our top five characters from the franchise. Having the opportunity to see Lange scream disparagingly about knotty pine is worth it alone.
4. Tate Langdon - AHS: Murder House
Squeezing out every bit of tragic, misguided emotion in his role as school-shooter-turned-ghost Tate Langdon, Evan Peters steals just about every scene he’s in...aside from the ones he shares with Jessica Lange, who plays his mother Constance. When asked if he thinks the character Tate is “all darkness” in a 2011 interview with Vulture, Peters said, “No. I mean, I think he wants to be good. I just think that he messes everything up. He goes about it the wrong way; he goes about it in a dark way, I guess.”
3. Lana Winters - AHS: Asylum
Powerful and heartbreaking all at once, Sarah Paulson’s portrayal of Lana Winters goes beyond memorable. When Winters, an investigative journalist, attempts to gain information from Briarcliff Manor about the killer known as “Bloody Face,” she becomes trapped there in a double cross orchestrated by Sister Jude (Jessica Lange).
2. Delphine LaLaurie - AHS: Coven
Bringing the horrors of a real-life serial killer to life, Kathy Bates delivers the frightening performance of a lifetime as Delphine LaLaurie. Bates won an Emmy for her role as the historical murderer and abuser of slaves, which she researched beforehand by reading Victoria Cosner Love’s book Mad Madame LaLaurie: New Orleans’ Most Famous Murderess Revealed.
1. Constance Langdon - AHS: Murder House
Jessica Lange has taken on several iconic roles within Ryan Murphy’s AHS universe, but her first—that of chain-smoking, tongue-lashing Constance Langdon from season one, Murder House—is by far the best of the best. Lange put her full acting force behind the character, for which she won an Emmy in 2012.
Featured still from "American Horror Story" via FX