Obviously we use the word “awesome” with quite a bit of leeway when discussing a show whose stocks-in-trade include disembodied racists, serial killing teen ghosts, and self-administered asylum abortions – but these 25 WTF American Horror Story moments kept us coming back to Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s small-screen slaughterhouse season after season for more campy, blood-soaked thrills.
Spoilers abound for Seasons 1-3!
25. Heeeeeere’s Tate! (Murder House)
We knew Tate (Evan Peters) was up to no good, but we didn’t know that he was up to no good WITH AN AXE. Sure enough, the mop-topped bad boy from next door got his Shining on to defend Viv and Vi from a home invasion in the show’s second ep, hinting at his dark past.
24. Shelley’s Playground Death (Asylum)
The scariest thing to happen to recess since the Purple Nurple, poor disease-infused, amputated Shelley’s (Chloe Sevigny) emergence from a cellar into a schoolyard full of children was pure nightmare fuel. Sadly, this was only a momentary reprieve for one of the show’s most bleak-fated characters to date.
23. Alien Robot Tracker (Asylum)
Spiders are scary. Robot spiders implanted into one’s body by aliens? EEEGAAAAAAAH! Poor Kit Walker found himself host to an eight-legged tracker chip upon entering Briarcliff, though it was quickly removed by the medical staff. (Fun fact: we never saw it again.)
22. Dr. Harmon’s Tearjerking (Murder House)
Oh, to be that end table…
AHS kicked off with a bang, a tickle, and a sob when cheating husband Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott) was shown pleasuring himself while crying in the show’s very first episode. Hey, bud – whatever gets the job done!
21. “The Name Game” (Asylum)
How is it that a musical number is this far down on the list of WTF moments? Just you wait. For now, let’s feast on the sight of a jazz-singer-turned-nun (Jessica Lange) hallucinating a scene from Glee after receiving too much shock therapy.
20. Violet’s Infinite Loop (Murder House)
Near the end of Season 1, Violet (Taissa Farmiga) learns that she can’t leave the house anymore, because her corpse is stuffed in the crawlspace. Teenagers never clean up after themselves!
19. Queenie’s Minotaur Booty Call (Coven)
Seeing hunky Bastien get turned into a minotaur was horrifying enough – and then seeing Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) back it up against said minotaur in the garden upped the wrong factor by about a zillion. (How she survived this, we will never know…)
18. Constance Locks Addy in Her Closet (Murder House)
Constance’s cruelty was rivaled only by her vanity – perfectly exemplified by the scene where she “punished” her poor daughter Adelaide (Jamie Brewer) by locking her in a room filled with mirrors. (We think you’re pretty, Addy!)
17. “They’re About to Feed the Christians to the Lions!” (Asylum)
This. Is. Everything.
Watching Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) evolve from wet tissue sidekick to demonically-charged boss-lady was one of Asylum’s guiltier pleasures. Case in point: Sister Mary is perturbed that she has to leave a screening of Cecil B. Demille’s Sign of the Cross during a scene of mass bloodshed, giving us the transplendent moment above.
16. Yep, They’re All Dead! (Murder House)
Remember when we didn’t know that this show is an anthology and fully expected at least one or two of the Harmons to live to see another season? SUCKERS. Sure enough, the season – and story – ended with the entire family dead and left to protect the house from worse ghosts than they are. NEXT!
15. Old Moira Lapdances Dr. Harmon (Murder House)
Seeing known cheater Ben getting a lapdance from the sexy maid was bad enough, but then realizing that his daughter Violet saw the hot young thing as the mom from Six Feet Under (Frances Conroy) was extra-oogie. The “different people see Moira differently” trick was one of the most inspired devices the show has come up with to date.
14. Feeding Thaddeus (Murder House)
Got a bully problem? Then you need a hungry basement demon baby. (As Seen on TV!) We knew that the thing in the cellar had the munchies for human flesh, but didn’t quite expect Violet and Tate to start using it to dispose of their enemies quite so quickly.
13. The Coat Hanger (Asylum)
As a man, I feel that I don’t have the right to say much more about Lana’s (Sarah Paulson) harrowing self-administered termination than “OH SWEET SQUAREDANCING JESUS OUCH.” Adding insult to injury, it doesn’t work, and Lana gives birth to a bumbling serial killer who later tries to murder her.
12. The Eyes Have It! (Coven)
To be fair, this is several moments – but Coven’s overall fascination with ocular trauma (Cordelia being blinded – TWICE – and Myrtle scooping out someone’s eyes at a tasteful brunch) was ghoulish in the extreme.
11. Myrtle Rocks the Theremin (Coven)
Bless her and her “Good Vibrations”-loving heart. Coven was all over the place, but one of the best places it reached was the fizzy heights of Myrtle Snow’s (Frances Conroy) battiness. The moment where she played the spooky Theremin in the greenhouse was priceless.
10. Zoe’s Rape Revenge (Coven)
Raping someone to death as revenge for rape? My brain hurts. Yes, Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) would inadvertently kill any boy she had sex with. Not a power that one can get much use out of, unless one’s friend is brutally gang-raped by fratboys and one wanted to kill the ringleader. (Though wouldn’t smothering him with his pillow have been easier?)
9. Misty Goes to Hell (Coven)
We all loved swamp witch Misty Day (Lily Rabe), so it was extremely upsetting to see everyone’s favorite Stevie Nicks impersonator sentenced to an eternity in the hell of her high school biology class after failing the test of the Seven Wonders. (Clearasil forever?!)
8. Larry Digs Hayden (Murder House)
I think we can all agree that Ben’s mistress Hayden (Kate Mara) was bad news. I think we can also agree that Larry’s killing her with a shovel to the face was a touch unexpected. Not to mention utterly ineffectual. (And hilarious.)
7. Johnny’s Mommy Issues (Asylum)
Johnny (Dylan McDermott again) is a hot mess who tries to find the motherly love he never got in murder, drugs, and the breasts of a lactating prostitute. I get gassy just thinking about this scene.
6. Lana Gets the Upper Hand (Asylum)
Perfection. Near the end of Asylum, plucky journalist Lana escapes Briarcliff (again!) with the tapes to incriminate her rapist and torturer. Atta girl!
5. Luke Gets LuPwned (Coven)
“Don’t cry for me for getting cast on this crazy-ass show only to be asked to pour bleach into my hunky son’s rectuuuuuum!” Yes, that is Broadway legend Patti LuPone as Joan Ramsay, a devout-yet-murderous mother who forced bleach enemas on her teenage son. (Patti, if you have any bleach left over I’d like some for my eyes, please.)
4. The Build-a-Baby Workshop (Murder House)
When life hands you a pile of baby parts, make OHDEARGODSOMEBODYSTOPHIM! When poor, wee Thaddeus Montgomery was kidnapped and returned to his parents in pieces, his father Charles (Matt Ross) went full Frankenstein in an attempt to bring him back.
3. “I Am Anne Frank” (Asylum)
You expect the inmates of an insane asylum to yell a lot of crazy things. “I am Anne Frank!” is not the first to come to mind. And yet a new inmate (Franka Potente) claims just that, and to recognize one of Briarcliff’s doctors from the Nazi concentration camps. Didn’t see that coming!
2. School Shooting (Murder House)
Good God, who had the brilliant idea to center a two-part Halloween episode around a graphic and prolonged school shooting? Was the Great Pumpkin not available? Sure enough, the “Halloween” installment of Murder House showed us exactly what Tate Langdon did in his school’s library, as well as the eternal repercussions of his actions.
1. The Trapdoor (Asylum)
…and our jaws dropped in perfect time with Dr. Thredson’s trapdoor. Poor Lana is tormented and then saved by the mysterious Dr. Thredson (Zachary Quinto) before slowly realizing that he is the lunatic behind the Bloody Face murders. Of course, she realizes this too late, and her nightmare is just beginning. This moment represents show at its most horrifying to date.
Those are just a few dozen of the most memorable AHS moments for us. Are there any that you would add to the list?