A good horror show needs a compelling and terrifying villain, someone who can simultaneously scare an audience while making it impossible to look away from them. As “American Horror Story” continues frightening audiences on FX, we take look back at some of the show’s most memorable baddies, from Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) to Bloody Face (Zachary Quinto). Click through our photo gallery above highlighting the scariest villains of all time from “American Horror Story,” or read our writer Tony Ruiz‘s descriptions below.
Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) — “American Horror Story: Cult”
Peters is truly terrifying as a cult leader of killer clowns who terrorizes a neighborhood following the election of President Donald Trump. It’s Peters’ best role to date after appearing in every season of “American Horror Story.” Awards voters, are you paying attention?
Oliver ‘Bloody Face’ Thredson (Zachary Quinto) — “American Horror Story: Asylum”
The seemingly benevolent psychiatrist revealed himself to be a serial killer with serious mommy issues who decapitated and skinned his victims, even turning them into pieces of furniture. Thredson, played by Emmy nominee Quinto, was at his most terrifying as he attempted to breastfeed from a captive Lana (Sarah Paulson) before raping and impregnating her.
The Butcher (Kathy Bates) — “American Horror Story: Roanoke”
Bates is at her best as the matriarch of the lost colony of Roanoke, whose desire to preserve the sanctity of her land is matched only by her bloodlust. Nobody is safe from The Butcher. She will bash in a little girl’s skull, roast a man alive over an open fire, and disembowel a meddlesome medium, all without a moment of hesitation or regret.
Mama Polk (Frances Conroy & Robin Weigert) “American Horror Story: Roanoke”
Played by Conroy in “My Roanoke Nightmare” and Weigert in “real life,” the matriarch of the inbred Polk family delights in murder and cannibalism, specializing in making jerky out of her captives’ flesh — often while they are still alive. Despite making only a few appearances throughout the season, Mama Polk is an unstable and truly terrifying character.
Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock) — “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
A spoiled socialite with a God complex, Dandy Mott’s obsession with murder led to him having one of the highest body counts of the entire series, whether it was bathing in his mother’s blood, slaughtering an entire group of housewives, or systematically executing the majority of the freak show’s inhabitants. Wittrock’s Emmy-nominated performance included frequent petulant outbursts, making him a truly unpredictable and terrifying villain.
Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch) — “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
Even those without a clown phobia were terrified of Twisty, a disgraced circus clown who kills parents then kidnaps their children to be a part his own private circus. However, despite his terrifying presence, Twisty became a rather sympathetic figure thanks to Lynch’s haunting performance.
Stanley (Denis O’Hare) — “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
The devious con man with a rather generous endowment wreaked more than his fair share of havoc, and all for his own financial gain. Whether coercing Jimmy (Evan Peters) to amputate his own hands, or arranging for Ma Petite to be smothered to death and placed on display in a jar, the lecherous Stanley, played by O’Hare, got his comeuppance after being physically “transformed” into another member of the freak show.
Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) — “American Horror Story: Coven”
Bates won an Emmy in 2014 as the real-life New Orleans socialite who delighted in torturing and mutilating her slaves and using their blood and organs in an attempt to preserve her youth. Delphine’s delight in sadism combined with her shocking racism led to alternating moments of dark comedy and chilling horror.
Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) — “American Horror Story: Asylum”
After being possessed by the Devil, the naive and insecure nun (Rabe) becomes manipulative and murderous, quickly evolving into the embodiment of pure evil. She kills inmates, frames Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) for murder, and even rapes a priest (Joseph Fiennes) on her way to attempting to take control of the Vatican.
Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell) — “American Horror Story: Asylum”
A former Nazi war criminal, the chief physician of Briarcliff passes his time performing sadistic experiments on several of the patients, leaving them permanently disfigured and banished to the surrounding woods where Arden feeds them raw meat. Arden seemingly delighted in inflicting pain on his patients, often working without anesthesia. James Cromwell won an Emmy in 2013 for his chilling performance.
Tate Langdon (Evan Peters) “American Horror Story: Murder House”
Whether alive or as a ghost, this psychologically disturbed teen (Peters) left a wake of death and despair wherever he went. In his life, he set a man on fire and massacred a group of high school students. In death, he kills a gay couple, chops a girl in half with an axe, and rapes a woman leading her to die while giving birth to the Antichrist. And has anyone forgotten the image of the man in the rubber suit?
Jump into the Golden Globes predictions center and let us know your choices today. You’ll be competing against thousands of others, including top TV experts who cover the television industry throughout the year plus our own Gold Derby editors. Hollywood insiders are desperate to see how their shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on December 11. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Golden Globes taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.