We've now closed the fourth chapter of American Horror Story, FX's dark and twisted anthology series that's brought viewers from a modern, murderous Los Angeles home, to a 1960s mental institution, to a centuries-old school of witchcraft, and (most recently) to a 1950s big top tent freak show.
In honor of another season gone by, we looked back at the actors who have become part of the unofficial Ryan Murphy repertory group, and ranked their performances over the course of American Horror Story. In order to be eligible for this list, each actor had to appear in at least three episodes of at least two seasons (and because Naomi Grossman played Pepper in both Asylum and Freak Show, we decided it was too difficult to compare).
Read on to find out which performances for each actor reign supreme.
4. Elsa Mars, Freak Show
3. Fiona Goode, Coven
2. Constance Langdon, Murder House
1. Sister Jude Martin, Asylum
...Which is one of the many reasons to be oh-so-grateful for the joyousness that is Asylum's unexpected "The Name Game" number. Though it was certainly just a two-and-a-half-minute blip in arguably the most disturbing season of AHS, it showcased Lange's ability to display a wide range of (oft conflicting) emotions and to turn on a dime. As Briarcliff Manor mental institution's hard-ass Sister Jude, she went from heartless to vulnerable, celibate to sexualized, dutiful to downward-spiraling, and authoritative to completely helpless. Sister Jude was one of the most fully formed, honest, and complicated women AHS has given Lange (and the audience) yet, but hopefully, she won't be the last. —J.E.
4. Billie Dean Howard, Murder House
3. Bette and Dot Tattler, Freak Show
From a technical standpoint, what Paulson accomplished throughout the anthology's fourth season was nothing short of a revelation. So when you actually take the acting into account, there is no shortage of superlatives you could ascribe to her pair of distinct yet emotionally and physically conjoined performances. —J.W.
2. Cordelia Foxx, Coven
1. Lana Winters, Asylum
4. Jimmy Darling, Freak Show
3. Kyle Spencer, Coven
2. Kit Walker, Asylum
1. Tate Langdon, Murder House
4. The Angel of Death, Asylum
Elegant, regal, but perfunctory. She only existed to usher the dying to their next chapter (i.e., Coven). —J.W.
3. Gloria Mott, Freak Show
2. Moira O’Hara, Murder House
1. Myrtle Snow, Coven
A freak turned fashionista whose eye for couture was matched only by her ability to spot natural Wiccan talent. And when she proudly marched to the stake, she burned brighter than any other witch in history. We were blessed by her resurrection and left in constant awe of the wondrous one-liners that crossed her lips. —J.W.
3. Nora Montgomery, Murder House
Nora was basically every young man who isn't ready to be a father's worst nightmare in that she could say pretty much nothing besides, "My baby... Where is my baby?" in a panicked 1920s trill. That is, of course, when she wasn't crying. But, to Rabe's credit, she did both damn well. —J.E.
2. Misty Day, Coven
1. Sister Mary Eunice McKee, Asylum
The dichotomous versions of Sister Mary Eunice — the wide-eyed, heart-opened, pre-possessed one and the vicious, merciless, possessed one — could not have been more different. And Rabe could not have played both with any more expertise. From her most evil moments to her lighter ones (including a glorious Lesley Gore musical number), Rabe made Sister Mary Eunice's every move believable, down to the expression on her face in her final seconds on screen in Asylum. If anyone was going to be revived in Freak Show, I couldn't have been happier to find out it was Sister Mary Eunice (even if it was her sunny side). —J.E.
3. Larry Harvey, Murder House
2. Stanley, Freak Show
1. Spalding, Coven
The fact that Spalding didn't speak for more than half of his time on Coven, but still managed to be one of the most hilarious characters in what is the funniest season of AHS, speaks to O'Hare's incredible talents. As the trusty butler at Miss Robichaux's Academy who lost his tongue in an extreme effort to ensure a secret, Spalding managed to exude an air of immense creepiness (thanks to his doll obsession) and elicit laugh-out-loud moments (like this reaction to accidentally ripping his real-life doll's arm off). —J.E.
3. Marjorie, Freak Show
2. Addy Langdon, Murder House
1. Nan, Coven
2. Marie Laveau, Coven
1. Desiree Dupree, Freak Show
While the character's physicality made Dupree as much of an attraction on the show as it did in the show, as the season progressed, the writers proved there was so much more to Desiree than her appearance. She turned out to be the biggest defender of her fellow freaks, a mobilizer of women, an enterprising businesswoman, and someone you do not want to cross. Plus, Bassett basically rewrote the book on side-eye, reaction shots, and making the most of silent moments. In short, Desiree was a revelation. —J.W.
2. Dr. Oliver Thredson, Asylum
1. Chad Warwick, Murder House
2. Ethel Darling, Freak Show
1. Delphine LaLaurie, Coven
2. Maggie Esmerelda, Freak Show
I shouldn't have liked Maggie as much as I did; she came into Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities with the hopes of dipping everyone in formaldehyde. But a funny thing happened on the way to the embalmer as Roberts found a way to let her heart shine through, so that when Chester sawed Maggie in half, I was gutted as well. —J.W.
1. Madison Montgomery, Coven
2. Regina Ross, Freak Show
While you have to admire Regina's unrelenting dedication to finding her missing mother (Patti LaBelle), returning to confront Dandy (Finn Wittrock) about her whereabouts was one of the more boneheaded things to ever happen on the show. —J.W.