'American Horror Story' : All 10 Seasons Ranked

The Ryan Murphy anthology series premiered in 2011

01 of 10

Season 1: Murder House

Murder House: Photo with Connie Britton
Murder House. FX

Murder House set the tone for the spooky anthology series, and we're vouching for it as the best season to date. Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk pulled viewers in with family trauma, restless spirits, a latex suit, nosy neighbors and the glamour of Los Angeles. We also met some of the show's biggest stars for the first time: Evan Peters, Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson and more.

The season follows a therapist as he moves his family to the city of angels in an attempt to escape his cheating past and heal from his wife's miscarriage. Dr. Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott), his wife Vivien (Connie Britton) and their daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) move into a creepy, eclectic mansion — and realize they aren't alone as ghosts of former residents roam the grounds. The family soon learns this new home will not be the fresh start they were looking for.

02 of 10

Season 3: Coven

Coven: Photo: Sarah Paulson, Taissa Farmiga
Coven. FX

Good fashion? New Orleans? A gang of powerful witches? What's not to love! Season 3 of American Horror Story follows a coven of misunderstood witches at Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies — that descended directly from Salem. The gang includes A-listers Emma Roberts, Lily Rabe, Gabourey Sidibe and Taissa Farmiga, led by Sarah Paulson as teacher Cordelia Foxx. Cordelia struggles to lead her fellow witches when her mother Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) returns to rule the coven again as Supreme Witch and repair her relationship with her daughter.

This season, like many in the AHS franchise, is inspired by true events and people such as the Salem witch trials, Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) and serial killer Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates). While Coven isn't jump-out-at-you scary, it's intriguing, serves up campy drama, and provides major Halloween inspiration.

03 of 10

Season 8: Apocalypse

AHS-Apocalypse- Sarah Paulson,
Apocalypse. FX

The eighth season of American Horror Story connects the two best seasons: Murder House and Coven (as well as moments from Hotel) as it explores the world following a nuclear fallout caused by the anti-christ. The first few episodes focus on a group of new characters who were chosen at random to survive the nuclear bomb. Eventually, the season 3 coven is brought back (Emma Roberts, Sarah Paulson and Frances Conroy) to reverse the end of the world and stop the anti-christ, a.k.a. Michael Langdon — played by Cody Fern — who disguises himself as a powerful warlock in order to blend in.

04 of 10

Season 6: Roanoke

Raonoke, Photo: Cuba Gooding Jr.
Cuba Gooding Jr. in Raonoke. FX

Roanoke gets a lot of flack, but if you're into true crime, this season is for you. This chapter of AHS takes inspiration from crime docudramas as it reenacts the experiences of a married couple who relocate to North Carolina. Shelby (Lily Rabe) and Matt Miller (André Holland) move into an old, secluded home in a rural area. Strange things begin to occur, and they soon realize the home has a twisted past: It was built in the same area where over 100 colonists from Roanoke Island disappeared in the 1500s.

As the Millers tell their story, Sarah Paulson and Cuba Gooding Jr. play the couple in reenactments. Later in the season, the cast, along with the real-life Millers, return to the home for a reunion-like special where things take a dark turn. While different from other AHS seasons, Roanoke is still thrilling and boasts an all-star cast including Kathy Bates, Evan Peters, Lady Gaga and Angela Bassett.

05 of 10

Season 7: Cult

AHS-Cult- Billie Lourde
Billie Lourde. FX

Following the aftermath of the unforgettable 2016 election, Cult proves that everyday life can be just as scary as TV. Released in 2017 — when many Americans were still processing the Trump presidency — the season is set in the fictional town of Brookfield Heights, Michigan, and centers around a lesbian couple, Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson) and Ivy (Alison Pill), as they try to cope with life after the election.

As Ally grows increasingly unstable, an alt-righter named Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) rejoices in Trump's win and forms a cult of sinister followers who help him become a political leader in the already-divided city. Like other seasons, Cult features frights, blood and gore — but also explores the true horror of what can happen when the wrong person is in power.

This season also welcomes Billie Lourd to the franchise.

06 of 10

Season 5: Hotel

Hotel, Photo: Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga. FX

Hotel is by far the creepiest AHS installment, but the storyline gets hard to follow. The season explores the strange and deadly occurrences at Hotel Cortez in downtown Los Angeles. The structure, which was originally built as a torture chamber, is run by The Countess (Lady Gaga) — the widow of serial killer James Patrick March — who was turned into a vampire after a rendezvous gone wrong with a past lover.

The blood-sucking fashionista uses the space to house her never-ending supply of human blood and as a venue for avant-garde parties. The hotel finds itself at the center of an investigation when a detective arrives searching for answers in a series of grisly murders. In addition to the plot, the overall aesthetic of Hotel will give you chills with blood-stained sheets, black leaky faucets and flickering lights. Making the season all the more frightening, it is said to be based on the real-life horror story of the Cecil Hotel.

07 of 10

Season 4: Freak Show

Freak Show Photo: Angela Bassett
Angela Bassett. FX

At first, Freak Show appears to tell the story of a bunch of underdogs trying to live out their dreams — but as viewers know, no AHS season is that light-hearted. Set in the 1950s, the season follows Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) as she struggles to keep her fair running in the quiet town of Jupiter, Florida.

Mars is determined to make her group — which includes conjoined twin sisters (Sarah Paulson), a three-breasted woman (Angela Bassett), a bearded-woman (Kathy Bates) and more — famous. As they try to attract local residents, a killer clown begins to wreck havoc on the community. Like Hotel, Freak Show features an all-star cast and a promising plot, but tends to drag on and results in an ending that doesn't offer much closure.

08 of 10

Season 9: 1984

AHS-1984, Emma Roberts

If you love retro slasher films, 1984 is the season for you. Set in the year 1984, the season centers around a young woman named Brooke Thompson (Emma Roberts) as she befriends a group and decides to join them as counselors at Camp Redwood — a newly reopened summer camp with, of course, a twisted past. When the counselors arrive on the grounds, they're met by Margaret Booth (Leslie Grossman), a former camper who survived a serial killer who attacked the camp years before.

In true AHS fashion, the season incorporates real-life elements, like the terror of serial killer Richard Ramirez. 1984 will have you on the edge of your seat, but also sometimes puzzled by its plethora of storylines and different character point of views.

09 of 10

Season 2: Asylum

Asylum: Photo: Evan Peters, Jessica Lange
Evan Peters. FX

Asylum follows the patients and staff members of the mental asylum Briarcliff Manor, set in an undisclosed town in Massachusetts. The institution was founded to treat and house the criminally insane. Viewers are introduced to the facility after Kit Walker (Evan Peters) is accused of being a serial killer named "Bloody Face" following the disappearance of his wife Alma (Britne Oldford). He claims she was abducted by aliens.

While a bit slow at times, Asylum tackles social issues, provides horror, and features musical performances by Jessica Lange.

10 of 10

Season 10: Double Feature

AHS-Double Feature-Lily Rabe- Kaia Geber
Lily Rabe, Kaia Gerber. FX (2)

For the first time in AHS history, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk decided to split a season into two parts. Part 1, titled Red Tide, follows struggling writer Harry Gardner (Finn Wittrock) and his pregnant wife Doris (Lily Rabe) as they relocate to Provincetown, Massachusetts, so he can focus on his work. There, he is presented with a mysterious black pill that helps him write like never before. But the pill also creates a thirst for blood and only works on those who are actually talented. When Doris takes it (after giving birth) with the hope of becoming a better interior designer, she turns into a monster. While the first few episodes pull viewers in with terrific performances from Rabe, Adina Porter, Leslie Grossman and more, Red Tide comes to an abrupt end when the pill finds its way to Los Angeles.

Part 2, titled Death Valley, introduces Kaia Gerber to the franchise when she and a group of college students go on a camping trip and are abducted and impregnated by aliens. It is later revealed that their pregnancies were in the works for decades — a plan put in motion by former presidents of the United States under the command of aliens, who wanted to save their own kind from dying by creating a new species. While the idea of aliens is always an interesting concept to explore, Death Valley falls short with a rushed finale and no explanation as to what this new alien species means for human civilization.

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