“If you look into the face of evil, evil’s gonna look right back at you.”
With season 11 of Ryan Murphy’s twisted series American Horror Story set to make this spooky season even better, fans can’t wait to see what new horrors are in store. The show has tackled America’s most murderous tragedies and brought to life some incredible characters.
The series is infamous for its compelling, cruel antagonists. Every season features multiple villainous characters for fans to sink their teeth into. After 10 seasons and a spin-off anthology series of a similar name, American Horror Stories, it’s no surprise fans have witnessed some of television's most frightening characters to date.
Season 10 of American Horror Story was unlike the others in more ways than one. Simply titled American Horror Story: Double Feature, the series contained two different stories, each made up of five episodes, resulting in ten overall. Double Feature: Death Valley uncovers an alien/lizard overlord conspiracy as president Dwight Eisenhower (Neal McDonough ) must cooperate with an alien race to ensure the survival of the earth.
Sarah Paulson has seen her fair share of screen time over the past decade when it comes to AHS. She has showcased her talent season after season, portraying a broad range of complex and creepy characters. This time it is no different, as she picks up the role of Mamie Eisenhower, wife to president Dwight Eisenhower, and America’s first lady. Letting her selfish motives get the best of her, Mamie indulges more than her luxurious fantasies of nationwide celebrations.
Season 9 of AHS set out to make commentary on the classic slasher genre American cinema has produced. Inspired by great horror flicks like Friday the 13th and Camp Sleepaway, American Horror Story: 1984 unfolded around a summer camp, countless murders, and an unruly gang of camp counselors.
No other characters in 1984 fit the term ‘gaslight, gatekeep, girl boss' in the same way as Margaret Booth. Played by LeslieGrossman, Margaret is the mastermind behind the entire camp massacre, motivated and determined to manipulate her way to victory.
The horror franchise has flashed many an evil across our screens over the years, although none seem just as bloody awful as Michael Langdon, a.k.a The Anti-Christ. Conceived in a horrid fashion, fathered by The Rubberman in the first season, Langdon doesn't grace the series with his evil presence until season 8, American Horror Story: Apocalypse. Packed with satanic worship, nuclear waste, and even robot sidekicks, Apocalypse has really got it all.
By this point, the world has ended due to a nuclear apocalypse. After seeking refuge in an underground bunker, the world’s chosen elite must live out their days awaiting further instruction from an organization known only as the Cooperative. Langdon, played by Cody Fern, serves as the leader of the mysterious organization and embellishes his devilish desires constantly while the world wastes away, and its survivors.
The Butcher, portrayed by Kathy Bates, is one of the main antagonists of season 6. American Horror Story: Roanoke is a mixture of found-footage style horror and paranormal scares, following different characters and their experience in an isolated, haunted house. Roanoke features a mockumentary-style series titled ‘My Roanoke Nightmare,’ where characters reenact stories of hauntings. The Butcher features as one of the main evil spirits residing at the property. Sacrificing her soul for immortality and power over the local lands, The Butcher haunts Roanoke every lunar cycle under the blood moon.
Of all the ghosts and ghoulies, Agnes Mary Winstead, aka the actress that plays The Butcher in 'My Roanoke Nightmare,' is beyond captivating and frightening. In a classic case of method acting gone too far, Agnes becomes consumed by her role as The Butcher, losing her personality and assuming the murderous character in a literal fashion. She attacks anyone who crosses her path before the real spirit of The Butcher serves up some justice.
The first half of American Horror Story: Double Feature was titled Red Tide. The series followed a struggling writer and his family during their move to a beach town. The local residents quickly make themselves known and none leave a lasting impression like Sarah Cunningham aka Belle Noir.
A return role for franchise fan favorite Frances Conroy, Belle Noir is a successful erotica writer and local legend. Inhabiting the town for many years by the time she meets the family, Noir has developed a taste for blood, and babies, feeding to keep her talent alive. Truly evil.
Season 7 of the series commented on the political climate of America at the time, bringing to life the real horrors of Trump’s USA. American Horror Story: Cult takes inspiration from many real-life events and characters, including Valerie Solanos. In reality, Solanos, author of the SCUM Manifesto, was responsible for the shooting of Andy Warhol due to a disagreement.
Solanos, played by Girlswriter Lena Dunham, has an intense backstory in the series. Responsible for shooting Andy Warhol (portrayed by Evan Peters), Solanos forms a radical feminist cult known as ‘SCUM’. She uses the cult to enact murders, becoming furious that the Zodiac Killer, a man, lays claim to their work. This causes Valerie to slip over the edge as she suffers a nasty fate, contracting pneumonia and dying.
No other season features as many powerful, radical women as American Horror Story: Coven. The third season of the franchise follows a witches' coven masquerading as a private school for girls. Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies teaches teenage witches their ancestry, how to control their powers, and the importance of the coven’s supreme leader.
Perhaps the cruelest of all the girls, Madison Montgomery, played by Emma Roberts, is a rich, sarcastic teenage actress with a passion for the dark arts. Appreciated by fans for her one-liners and impeccable timing, Madison is capable of just as much good as she is evil. This is what makes her one of the most compelling villains in the entire franchise.
Easily one of the saddest and most misunderstood characters in the entirety of American Horror Story is Twisty the Clown. Played by John Carroll Lynch, the killer clown features in the fourth season of the series known as American Horror Story: Freak Show. Although not the main antagonist in the series, Twisty makes a name for himself in the AHS largely due to his tragic backstory.
Originally working as a clown at a traveling carnival, he becomes an audience favorite, before his reputation is tarnished by false accusations. No longer able to find work as a children’s entertainer, the sad clown faces the death of his abusive mother, pushing him much further to the edge. After a failed suicide attempt resulting in a disfigured jaw, Twisty then sets about harassing and killing children and teens who ultimately reject his attempts to make them laugh.
There are none quite so seductive and sadistic as The Countess. Famed for her portrayal by Lady Gaga, the sexy vampire features as one of the main characters in the fifth season of the series, titled American Horror Story: Hotel. Centering on Elizabeth (The Countess) and her most prized possession, Hotel Cortez, the series showcases the stylish and sinister side of Murphy’s acclaimed horror show.
The Countess spends her days feeding off her forever young vampire children and feasting on guests of the hotel. She will stop at nothing to satisfy her hunger and ensure her immortality. With an enriching backstory full of love, lust, and betrayal, she is simply one of the most stylish, ludicrously evil AHS antagonists of all time.
The first season of the series, American Horror Story: Murder House, set the terrifying tone and twisted nature of the stories and characters fans have come to love. The worst of the worst, Tate Langdon, played by Evan Peters, goes down in AHS history as one of the series' longest-running villains. Capturing the hearts of Violet (Taissa Farmiga) in the show – and fans of the show – Tate and his murderous alter ego The Rubber Man – a serial killer in a gimp costume – are where American Horror Story made a name for itself.
Hiding behind his boyish charm and sensitivities, Tate harbors a deep, uncontrollable rage. Responsible for the death of 15 of his classmates when he was alive, as well as countless other murders in the Murder House, and the birth of the antichrist, there’s no doubt about his wicked ways.
Arguably AHS’ most iconic villain of all time, it doesn’t get any more sinister than the Devil. In the second season of Murphy’s spooky show, American Horror Story: Asylum, fans were introduced to numerous evil characters. The series takes place in 1964 at Briarcliff Manor, a religious asylum for the mentally unwell. Season 2 was era-defining for the series, showcasing some of the best AHS has to offer with features of Nazi doctors, alien abductions, experimental treatments, and conversion therapy.
Although none quite captured hearts like Sister Mary Eunice. Played by the brilliant Lily Rabe, Sister Eunice is a quiet, respectful, and loyal servant of God. That is, until she attends a failure of an exorcism and the Devil takes her body, mind, and soul captive. From here out on, she is hellbent on enacting any evil deed or sin she can conjure, wreaking havoc on anyone who crosses her path. The pure definition of evil.
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Kelsie Dickinson (She/Her) is List Writer for Collider. She is a graduate from the University of Glasgow, obtaining a Master’s Degree in Film& TV Studies. She is a passionate freelance TV and Film critic, working as a Staff Writer for Screen-Queens.com. She is a lover of anything and all things horror.
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'American Horror Story': Most Evil Villains From Every Season, Ranked – Collider
“If you look into the face of evil, evil’s gonna look right back at you.”