Ranking the American Horror Story Seasons From Terrifying to Insufferable

Now that season 10 of American Horror Story has come to an end, we've ranked all of the seasons so you don't have to.

By Alyssa Ray Oct 21, 2021 11:00 PMTags
Watch: Macaulay Culkin Joins "American Horror Story" Season 10

It's been a full decade of American Horror Story, and we're still having a killer time.

Following the horror anthology's season 10 finale, which aired on Oct. 20, we found ourselves looking back at all the terrifying TV moments the series has given us. Between killer clowns and fatal rubber men, American Horror Story has never been afraid to push the envelope.

However, with that kind of risk-taking come some inevitable missteps. Yes, Lady Gaga's vampiric performance as the Countess in American Horror Story: Hotel was legendary, but we could've done without the prone-to-rape addiction demon from that same season.

Season two, titled American Horror Story: Asylum, boasted brilliant characters, including Jessica Lange as the no-nonsense nun, Sister Jude. However, we can't say we totally followed the alien plot or the supposed reemergence of Anne Frank.

Meanwhile, despite its slow start, AHS: Apocalypse was surprisingly delightful and paid homage to previous seasons. Unfortunately, it felt like a final season for the series, making the seasons following it feel, er, irrelevant. Sorry, AHS: 1984, it's not your fault. 

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American Horror Story's Shocking Casting Moves

Taste is, of course, subjective, and one viewer's train wreck may be another's feminist masterpiece. (We're looking at you, AHS: Coven.)

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As for where we stand? Be sure to check out our ranking of all the seasons of American Horror Story below!

10. Freak Show

American Horror Story almost lost us as viewers after season four. Why? The plot was actually insufferable—especially one scene involving Evan Peters' character pleasuring women with lobster hands. Even Jessica Lange couldn't save this season, and she really tried to with that "Life on Mars" cover.

9. Roanoke

Season six, titled American Horror Story: Roanoke, started out strong, promising a Southern gothic version of Murder House. However, the season then took a meta turn by taking the Roanoke documentary participants and putting them in the horror story themselves.

It wasn't necessarily bad, per se, we just didn't get invested in the characters the way we had in previous seasons.

8. Cult

We can't say we loved this political season of American Horror Story. Yes, Peters shined playing multiple roles for the series, but we struggled to get on board with season seven as it seemed to hit too close to home for those still processing the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.

The homicidal clowns were definitely scary though.

7. 1984

We love when American Horror Story pays tribute to classic horror films, and, in season nine, the series took inspiration from the slasher camp vibes of Friday the 13th. American Horror Story: 1984 leaned into the campiness (no pun intended) of '80s horror movies by introducing real-life serial killer characters, ghosts and plenty of blood.

Yes, it was ridiculous, but it was wickedly fun. Our only complaint? It was a little surface level.

6. Double Feature

American Horror Story: Double Feature, the 10th season of the horror anthology, started out strong with a mini season based in wintry Cape Cod. Part one, called "Red Tide," introduced blood-sucking fiends, a fabulously cutthroat villain (played by the hilarious Leslie Grossman) and a bone-chilling child character (portrayed perfectly by Ryan Kiera Armstrong).

Unfortunately for AHS viewers, the second half of season 10, named "Death Valley," was not as strong. The alien-centric part two was underwhelming for most of its episodes, causing Double Feature to find a spot in the middle of this ranking.

5. Apocalypse

We had minimal hope for American Horror Story: Apocalypse, only to be pleasantly surprised as the season went on. Apocalypse kicked off with a group being locked in a bunker amid the end of times. Before long, our favorites from Coven were reintroduced, Murder House was back and Cody Fern emerged as the deliciously evil villain, Michael.

If we could scrap the first couple of episodes and dive into the thick of it, we would. The season had a lot going on—too much, one might say—but this was a season clearly made for the fans.

4. Hotel

Lady Gaga was the moment in American Horror Story: Hotel. The pop star nabbed herself a Golden Globe for her portrayal of the bloodthirsty Countess. The supporting characters also truly stood out in Hotel, with Kathy BatesDenis O'HareEvan Peters and more all giving captivating performances. 

The only downside? Wes Bentley's killer detective role. 

3. Asylum

The plot of American Horror Story: Asylum may've been a little all over the place—here's looking at you aliens and maybe Anne Frank—but the horror moments were truly terrifying. We'll never be able to unsee a maimed Chloë Sevigny crawling through the halls.

Asylum also gave us epic performances by Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange, who played journalist Lana Winters and Sister Jude Martin, respectively.

2. Coven

Putting Coven at No. 2 may be a controversial choice, but we have no regrets. Jessica Lange is easily at her fiercest while playing coven supreme Fiona Goode, and the rest of the ensemble cast is pretty stellar too. Case in point: Seeing Sarah Paulson's Cordelia Foxx go from mousy teacher to driven leader was everything.

Was season three the scariest season of AHS? No. Yet, it has been one of the most influential, from long-lasting memes to reoccurring Halloween costumes to inspiring the eighth season of the series.

We like to think that without Emma Roberts' Madison Montgomery, we wouldn't have experienced the hilarity that was Chanel Oberlin in Scream Queens.

1. Murder House

The season that started it all! It's safe to say that Murder House ranks No. 1 on everyone's list, as it's the perfect blend of horror, family drama and intrigue. When the Harmons (Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton and Taissa Farmiga) moved into the Murder House, we had no idea we'd be taken on such an incredible ride.

And its legacy has lived on, with Murder House and its residents popping up in several seasons of AHS and its spinoff, American Horror Stories.

Catch the American Horror Story: Double Feature finale on Hulu now.

(A version of this story was originally published on Aug. 25, 2021 at 10:26 a.m. PT.)

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