Long-running reality shows often have “all-star” seasons featuring a menagerie of past contestants coming back for another go. That got us to thinking: “American Horror Story” uses a recurring cast to play different characters, so why not create an all-star cast with each actor’s best performance?
Sarah Paulson as Lana Winters, “Asylum” — Lana Banana is not only the best character Sarah Paulson has played, but also possibly the best character in “AHS” history. Her idealism is broken hard by the abuse she suffers in Briarcliff, but she ultimately comes out on top through sheer determination.
Evan Peters as Tate Langdon, “Murder House” — Peters is arguably the most popular “AHS” cast member, if the Twitter rage over his absence in the “Roanoke” premiere is any indication. We attribute this to his strong performance as the clingy teen killer Tate, who is proof that you should always be skeptical of the “Nice Guys.”
Taissa Farmiga as Violet Harmon, “Murder House” — Of course, if we include Tate on our All-Star roster, we also have to include the object of his obsession. Taissa Farmiga got one of the best scenes in “Murder House” when she discovered that she was dead after attempting to run out of her house… only to find herself back inside.
Lily Rabe as Sister Mary Eunice, “Asylum” — Sister Mary’s heel turn is one of the best twists in “AHS” history. After being possessed by the devil, she’s transformed from a demure, devout young nun to a sexually charged manipulator. And don’t even get us started on her horrible demise.
Angela Bassett as Marie Laveau, “Coven” — The Voodoo Queen of New Orleans’ bitter feud with Fiona and Madame LaLaurie was one of the highlights of “Coven,” as it allowed for some great dialogue for three of the best actresses in the “AHS” stable. The fact that Laveau was an actual 19th-century priestess adds to her intrigue, even if she’s been heavily fictionalized for TV.
Frances Conroy as Myrtle Snow, “Coven” — Like Laveau, Myrtle was another foe for Fiona to square off against. Eccentric, biting, and devoted to the Academy, she proved to be both a mother figure and one of the most violent characters in season 3. Just ask the Council members who condemned her to death.
Zachary Quinto as Dr. Thredson, “Asylum” — Move over, Sylar. Thredson is now the creepiest character Quinto has ever played on TV. His compassionate exterior was merely a front that allowed him to manipulate Lana and Kit and to hide his bloodlust. It’s that constant, cruel subversion that makes “Asylum” such a perversely compelling piece of TV.
Denis O’Hare as Liz Taylor, “Hotel” — Season 5 of “AHS” does not have the adoration enjoyed by its peers, but O’Hare is one of its few bright spots. His Liz Taylor commands everyone’s attention with her confidence and acidity, but it’s her vulnerability and transition into life as a woman that makes her unforgettable.
Adina Porter as Lee Miller, “Roanoke” — The mysterious “Roanoke” season started out as a show-within-a-show about Matt and Shelby Miller’s paranormal encounters in Roanoke, VA. But by the end, it became all about Matt’s sister, Lee, and the murderous lengths she would go to in order to be with her daughter, Flora.
Emma Roberts as Madison Montgomery, “Coven” — Madison was the fun-to-hate member of Miss Robichaux’s Academy. A mean girl with telekinesis, she was once described by Queenie as a “stone cold bitch who loves hard drinking, big d—s and trouble.” She also gets revenge on a fraternity that gang-rapes her by flipping over their party bus.
Naomi Grossman as Pepper, “Asylum”/”Freak Show” — You can’t have an all-star cast without Pepper, a character so popular that she broke Ryan Murphy‘s promise that each “AHS” season would be completely detached from each other. Her fun spirit and tragic arc made her a fan favorite, as did her transformation into a genius in “Asylum.”
Finn Wittrock as Dandy Mott, “Freak Show” — As Angela Bassett‘s character said just before killing him, Dandy Mott was the biggest freak on “Freak Show.” A vain, spoiled brat who first wants to belong with the freaks and later wants to kill them.
Wes Bentley as Edward Mordrake, “Freak Show” — Twisty and Pepper got everyone’s attention on “Freak Show,” but Bentley’s portrayal of a gentleman cursed to be the Grim Reaper by his second face deserves praise. He is simultaneously dignified and chilling, and we could gaze at those wild muttonchops for days.
Gabourey Sidibe as Queenie, “Coven”/”Hotel” — When you try to make a centuries-old witch drop her racist mentality by forcing her to watch “Roots,” you’re definitely going to make this list. Queenie’s return in “Hotel” got fans excited, but that joy turned to rage when she got killed off in a moment that will live in “AHS” infamy.
Kathy Bates as Madame Delphine LaLaurie, “Coven” — Speaking of the centuries-old racist witch, here she is now. Bates’ first “AHS” role was a fictionalized version of an actual slave torturer from the 19th century. Imagine her surprise when she finds out who Barack Obama is.
Jamie Brewer as Adelaide Langdon, “Murder House” — Addie is among the first of many, many people who warn the Harmons to get out of the house to no avail. She became a dark horse favorite for early adopters of the show as her gentle nature contrasted with her twisted mother and brother. She also was notable for being a character with Down syndrome played by an actress who also had the genetic disorder.
John Carroll Lynch as Twisty, “Freak Show” — “AHS” has had many freaky monsters and killers like Rubber Man and Bloody Face, but it’s Twisty that has become the series’ most iconic image. His introduction in broad daylight is an unnerving, masterful scene thanks in large part to Lynch’s ability to creep people out with just his eyes and physicality.
Jessica Lange as Constance Langdon, “Murder House” — Finally, we have the “AHS” queen. It is incredibly hard to pick which of Lange’s four “AHS” roles was best. We almost went with Fiona Goode, but ultimately settled on Constance. It was this performance that set the standard for all future “AHS” divas and helped make Ryan Murphy‘s series appointment television for lovers of camp.