Ranking The Seasons of American Horror Story

By Lila Troum

Since 2011, American Horror Story has been releasing seasons yearly, each season a different theme, revolving around new characters and their “horrific” plots, with season 10 set to have already started filming! Since 2021 has begun, I’ve managed to watch 8 out of 9 AHS seasons, (I did not watch 1984) and I’ve decided to rank them! These are my personal opinions, some people might gravitate towards different seasons. 

Note: If you do decide to watch American Horror Story, I would highly recommend watching it in order. It’s not critical, but for certain seasons, you’ll need to have seen past seasons to fully understand what’s going on, as characters do cross paths onto different seasons. 

*SPOILERS AHEAD!* 

9. 1984 (9)

So, yes, this was a season I did not watch. This was the only season I didn’t watch, too. The reason I didn’t watch it was because A) it didn’t seem all that interesting to me, and B) my favorite actors/actresses didn’t return to the season. 1984 is like it sounds, a camp slasher, set in the 80s. Billie Lourd, Cody Fern, and Leslie Grossman all looked like they did a fantastic job in the few snippets I saw, but I just couldn’t bear to watch without my Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson. They make the show for me, and it wouldn’t have been the same. Maybe one day I will watch it, but until then, I’m going to stick with this season as a no-go. 

Favorite character: N/A

8. Cult (7)

Cult was okay. Definitely not great; a little freaky, but I wouldn’t say scary. This season is about exactly what it says it is: a cult. It’s set during the 2016 election, which was aggravating to watch, as politics and horror can be a weird mix. The season almost mislead me, it started off with killer clowns (which induced hope into me for the season) but they lost part of their storyline quickly, and it was, as it’s labeled, a cult. It was fairly gruesome, and I did enjoy some of the plotlines, however, most of the characters were really, really annoying and I think this was Sarah Paulson’s worst character. She was obnoxious. I thought Evan Peters did a fantastic job though, his character Kai Anderson was a complex character that Peters did really, really well with. I think I could place this as, not one of my favorites, but one of his best roles on AHS. 

Favorite character: None of them? They were all bad

7. Hotel (5) 

Hotel was also not great. The storyline revolved around vampires and murderers, the latter being not surprising. None of the characters were that memorable, I just know that Sarah Paulson played a dead person named Sally. Lady Gaga was also in this season! She did spectacularly, and her performance was truly phenomenal. The only reason I really put Hotel at seven was because of its beautiful, 20s like aesthetic, which was breathtaking. Definitely the “best looking season.” 

Favorite character: The Countess (Lady Gaga) 

6. Apocalypse (8)

Apocalypse is the second most recent season. To watch/understand this, you need to have watched Coven and Murder House, as the three heavily connect and intertwine. Apocalypse is, as it sounds, the end of the world, though Satan is involved and there are witches and warlocks. I didn’t love this season, it was just not as intriguing as I would’ve liked. This was Cody Fern’s first season and he was incredible! Jessica Lange also returned for an episode in this season and I really forgot how much I missed her. 

Favorite character: Michael Langdon (Cody Fern) 

5. Murder House (1) 

The pilot season, Murder House was actually quite incredible. Having, in my mind, the most iconic/memorable cast, as well as being, also, in my opinion, the scariest season. Murder House really set the tone for the rest of the show, the complex storylines, the plot twists: it was all great! I loved, loved, loved the characters, too. The only reason I put this at 5 was just that I really enjoyed the other seasons a lot. 

Favorite character: Moira O’Hara (Frances Conroy) 

4. Asylum (2)

Asylum was absolutely spectacular! The aesthetic of it was intriguing, I really liked the characters, it was a truly captivating season. The only issues I had with this season were its dead-end storylines that didn’t go anywhere: there was a plethora of these, but I still really liked the season. It followed up Murder House, which is hard to do, but I think it did a really great job of it. The characters were memorable, the iconic name game song stems from this season, I really enjoyed it. I

Favorite character: Judy Martin (Jessica Lange) 

3. Roanoke (6) 

Roanoke was not a popular season with a lot of AHS fans. However, it was one of my personal favorites. The whole season is set in a documentary layout, with a house laying on Roanoke land that’s, obviously, haunted. This season was horrific, it actually scared me, which wasn’t the case with most seasons. I liked the cast, I liked the plot, it has (one of) the infamous Sarah Paulson sobbing scene, Roanoke was just a really good season that I would, in a heartbeat, watch again. 

Favorite character: Whichever character Sarah Paulson played 

2. Coven (3) 

I think Coven was one of my favorite seasons because of how well DONE it was. This season was so well put together, I absolutely couldn’t stop watching it. Coven is all about a group of witches trying to find a new “head witch” (supreme). Every actor/actress in this season did a terrific job, Emma Roberts did a fantastic job, Jessica Lange was absolutely incredible — Coven was all around fantabulous and I loved it. 

Favorite character: Cordelia Goode (Sarah Paulson)  

1. Freak Show (4) 

Freak Show is, hands down, the BEST AHS season. This season was so captivating, the characters were lovable, the plots were engaging, I’d dare to say it was actually scary, too. I really enjoyed this season. Revolving around a circus, which should already tell you a lot, we get the inside look at a killer clown, crooked thieves trying to kill the “freaks,” and Evan Peters playing a (really, really) good-looking character! This is the fourth season of AHS, and it’s the first season that intertwines with another season. If you are starting to watch American Horror Story, this is the season I’d look forward to if I were you. Even calling this season great is an understatement. This was also, sadly, Jessica Lange’s last season of AHS, and she really went out with a bang, she did, like always, so well.

Favorite character: Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters) 

All in all, American Horror Story is a great TV show. One of my favorites– and I’m so very much looking forward to season 10. These are just my personal rankings, what I like you may not, but if you’re thinking about it I would definitely recommend giving American Horror Story a chance. It’s on Netfix and Hulu! 

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