American Horror Story: All seasons ranked worst to best
The signature Ryan Murphy creation American Horror Story has stuck around for the long haul – even when fans thought that it shouldn’t.
The horror anthology has now been on our screens for over a decade, bringing viewers a different storyline with a brand-new set of actors every season since 2011.
While some of them live on forever in the form of memes and YouTube clips, other seasons have been left by the wayside or completely forgotten altogether.
With Season 12, titled American Horror Story: Delicate, airing now, we won’t be including it until after its finale. In the meantime, here’s every season of American Horror Story ranked from worst to best.
11. American Horror Story: Double Feature (Season 10)
When it comes to which season fans dislike the most, it almost unanimously comes back to American Horror Story: Double Feature.
Staying true to its name, the tenth season aired in two halves, following the “pale people” Red Tide storyline in Part 1 before jumping to the alien conspiracy Death Valley in Part 2. It doesn’t initially look like the two have anything to do with each other, and hardened fans of the show might agree that both sides never match up.
Not only is it all really confusing, but the decision to make two halves into a whole feels like a last-ditch attempt to bring the AHS glory days back. Some fans hinge the epic fail on the second half in particular, disappointed in the lack of explanation and ropey plot.
10. American Horror Story: Apocalypse (Season 8)
Season 8 was the moment American Horror Story looked to redeem itself after a few rocky seasons, bringing back stalwarts like Jessica Lange, and including new cast members such as Joan Collins.
Murphy also finally made good on his promise to somehow revive Coven in the same year, with Apocalypse featuring a brief cross-over with characters from Season 3. It’s dark, it’s camp, and best of all, Cordelia Goode is still convinced that she’s the Supreme.
Even so, fans haven’t been able to get past the half-baked ending Apocalypse had, suggesting that the events throughout the season were essentially a dream. Not only do some viewers feel that the season was badly written, but such a big promise ends up failing to go anywhere.
9. American Horror Story: Cult (Season 7)
American Horror Story is widely known for being scary, but the season that got too close for comfort was certainly Cult.
Following the election of President Trump in 2016, franchise favorites Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters spearhead a story exploring the fallout for a local restaurant owner and a misogynistic alt-righter. The results include a few public standoffs that few would dare to be involved with, also commenting on the impact of gun culture in the country.
It’s another different style for AHS, but it’s also the first season that really feels the effects of missing core actors. Jessica Lange is now long gone, with season regulars such as Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett no longer putting in appearances. Paulson and Peters are doing the heavy lifting here, and it shows.
8. American Horror Story: NYC (Season 11)
After the disaster that was American Horror Story: Double Feature, NYC looked like a saving grace.
The season follows a series of murders targeting the LGBT+ community in New York City, spurning a newfound hatred for the NYPD. Not only does this season feel timely, but it has a distinctively different style to any AHS season that has come before.
With a new look comes mixed feelings, leaving viewers divided on whether they like the direction that the franchise has taken. It’s not necessarily that anything is wrong with NYC – more that it doesn’t hold up to the excellence of previous seasons, with some fans saying they’ve still never heard of it.
7. American Horror Story: Roanoke (Season 6)
One of the only seasons of AHS to directly tackle a true story, Roanoke probably wins the award for the scariest season in the franchise.
Looking at the supernatural events that took place in a farmhouse in North Carolina, most of the action is made up of jumpscares, sordid history, and a Colony that once mysteriously went missing. What’s more surprising is the time jump halfway through the season, revealing that everything fans had previously seen was the set-up for a fictional documentary.
Roanoke is a little rough around the edges, but when it needs to scare, it delivers the goods. Fans praised the season for its unique take on what it has tried to do before, while others feel Season 6 gets hated on for little reason.
6. American Horror Story: Hotel (Season 5)
Another series to divided opinion, American Horror Story: Hotel was a watch that fans either loved or hated.
As the first season since the departure of Jessica Lange, it was up to Lady Gaga to pick up the slack as the vampiric Countess. It’s the first time we get to see her acting chops and she doesn’t disappoint, making a particularly memorable scene involving blood, a circular bed, and many random lovers.
Sarah Paulson is also on hand to do some stellar work as heroin junkie Sally, while regulars such as Kathy Bates fade more into the background. The only possible downside is the season’s scope – other than the hotel itself, what really is there?
5. American Horror Story: 1984 (Season 9)
The surprise comeback of the franchise came with American Horror Story: 1984, with previous regulars such as Emma Roberts returning for a slasher-style comedy.
Taking the classic cabin-in-the-woods type of horror and running with it, the cast is stuck at a newly reopened summer camp, trying to survive a dangerous killer on the loose. It’s a tried and tested format and one that worked well for the return of another AHS season.
Fans credit 1984 for its strong writing, as well as the unexpected humor found throughout the season. After her role in Murphy’s Scream Queens, it’s no surprise that Roberts excels in the role of camp newbie Brooke. The intro of Season 9 is also seen as a definite fan favorite.
4. American Horror Story: Freak Show (Season 4)
Saying goodbye to Jessia Lange was never going to be an easy task, but Freak Show made sure it delivered – mostly by getting her to sing Lana Del Rey in the 1950s.
That detail doesn’t really make much sense, but it doesn’t need to. Riding on the coattails of something we already find fascinating, AHS followed a struggling freak show in Jupiter, Florida, and two newcomers who find it and begin to cause trouble.
Freak Show isn’t a perfect AHS season, but it packs enough punch to stick out in the ranks of the best ever. Lange commands the screen as show leader Elsa, while Sarah Paulson proves why she’s worth her weight in gold by playing two conjoined characters at once. Bonus points for Patti LaBelle randomly dressing up as Woody Woodpecker.
3. American Horror Story: Murder House (Season 1)
Sometimes, you can’t beat where it all began – and Murder House is a season of American Horror Story that’s still quoted and memed to this day.
Following a family who move into an old house, they soon learn that their home sweet home has some horrid history, alongside some overly familiar faces who can’t seem to stay away.
It’s the first and only time we see stars such as Connie Britton and Kate Mara appear in the franchise, leaving us wanting more from their standoffish drama – including a stranger in a full latex suit. Fans like that Murder House is the most horror-oriented season of the bunch, alongside packing in some incredibly hard-hitting twists.
2. American Horror Story: Coven (Season 3)
If there is an excerpt of AHS to be seen, it’s probably come from Coven. Timed with when the franchise started to gain popularity across the globe, the season marks everything American Horror Story does as its best.
A mix of moody, dark, historically accurate, and humorous, Coven follows a group of witches who aim to find their new Supreme, while tensions with the New Orleans voodoo community look to cause trouble. Jessica Lange’s Fiona remains untouchable throughout, while Emma Roberts’ Madison Montgomery delivers burns that most of us could only dream of.
With characters as strong as these, it’s no surprise that fans wanted more of them as the franchise continued. For fans, the thread of witchcraft is what holds it together, able to be both entertaining and intriguing at the same time.
1. American Horror Story: Asylum (Season 2)
In the history of American Horror Story seasons, Asylum was the one that had it all.
Looking at a church-owned mental asylum was never going to be a bad idea, but AHS doubled down on the intrigue by offering strong storylines played out by an exceptional group of actors. The series is the first to include musical numbers, alongside definitive time jumps between the present and the future.
If nothing else, Asylum showed that it had ambition – and every risk it took seemed to pay off. From possessed nuns to mad scientists and alien encounters, this season had it all while managing to keep all of its plates spinning. Time for a verse of Name Game, anyone?
You can check out everything we know about American Horror Story Season 12 here and check out our other coverage below:
- American Horror Story: All seasons ranked worst to best
- How many seasons of American Horror Story are there?
- Is American Horror Story Season 12: Delicate based on a book?
- American Horror Story names & meanings for every season
- How to watch American Horror Story Season 12: Delicate outside the US
- Is every season of American Horror Story connected?
- Is American Horror Story based on true events?