American Horror Story doesn’t go easy on its fans. If there’s a way to make your jaw drop to the floor, make you sick to your stomach or make you cry your eyes out, you can bet producer Ryan Murphy and co. have tried it.
If isolation’s driving you crazy and you need to relive those head-spinning moments, you’re in luck. We’ve trawled all nine years of AHS to bring you the most dramatic plot twists—from character deaths to dynamic changes to villain reveals to a whole lot of witches.
10. Return To Roanoke
Roanoke in itself was an unexpected plot twist. With five episodes remaining, the Millers’ story came to an end, and it wasn’t clear how the rest of the season would pan out. The dynamic shift from reenactments and eyewitness accounts to both “real” characters and actors staying in the Roanoke house together during the Blood Moon was a truly Black Mirror-esque turn for AHS. Roanoke instantly became a bizarre Big Brother, compounded by Shelby Miller’s affair with actor Dominic Banks, the actress Agnes Mary Winstead morphing into her character The Butcher and one of the anthology’s most gory endings.
9. Margaret Booth is Mr. Jingles
The suspense built through the first half of 1984 relied upon the myths of the terrifying Mr. Jingles and his massacre of the Camp Redwood counselors in 1970, of which Margaret Booth was the sole survivor. She even had an ear missing to prove it. A born-again Christian who took on the responsibility to dispel the camp’s bloody past and reform it into a God-fearing activity center, Booth soon exposed her guilt and how she framed Jingles for the massacre. It made us instantly regret judging Benjamin Richter by his (admittedly quite intimidating) cover.
8. Ma Petite’s death
If there’s one heinous crime we can’t forgive Freak Show’s Stanley for, it’s the death of the most adorable character. The con artist’s string of offenses against the freaks went too far as he commanded the death of Ma Petite to use her as a museum artifact, made all the more tragic as Maggie Esmerelda failed to do it herself and the task fell to Dell Toledo. Stanley’s greed resulted in the strongman literally hugging Petite to death in a heartbreaking plot twist that showed the cruel side of AHS that we love to hate.
7. The Seven Wonders
Coven cleverly crafted its witchy characters to make them invincible…almost. The introduction of a personalized hell for each person if they failed the Seven Wonders test brought about limitless possibilities for the anthology to explore. Of course, the clause that nobody can return from their own hell had to be demolished to show off Michael Langdon’s powers in Apocalypse, but the concept itself was terrifying enough. Giving the witches their own vulnerabilities, while making Misty dissect live frogs for all eternity, added a strange element of relatable reality to the otherwise unbelievable AHS universe.
6. The witches return
Apocalypse episode “Forbidden Fruit” was bursting with plot twists. First Venable and Mead kill the entire Outpost, and then Mead discovers she’s programmed to do the mysterious Langdon’s bidding and shoots Venable. However, just as viewers believe Langdon and Mead are the only survivors of the end of days, the Rolling Stones’ “She’s A Rainbow” keys in the biggest twist of all—the witches have survived, too. As the famous trio of Madison Montgomery, Myrtle Snow and Cordelia Goode descend upon Outpost 3, it’s revealed there are three other witches in the Outpost they need to revive to stop the end of the world.
5. Devil’s Night
When you have a fixed setting full of deadly ghosts trapped there, you need a catch to make the outside just as dangerous. First alluded to in Murder House on Halloween and again in Freak Show, Hotel’s Devil’s Night twist elaborated on a device the anthology has used time and time again. There’s one night of the year where ghosts can roam free. The fifth season introduced this sinister loophole in typical exuberant style—inviting a handful of renowned killers to the Cortez for dinner, including Aileen Wuornos and Richard Ramirez, who we’re unlucky enough to meet again in 1984.
4. Ally kills Ivy
Cult’s Ally Mayfair-Richards had a hard time, terrorized by her phobias and discovering her wife was part of Kai Anderson’s cult, then joining the cult herself. However, her character’s true colors come to view in the episode “Drink The Kool-Aid”—just as Ivy jokes that Ally could never do anything to harm her, Ally’s poisoned food and wine kick in and kill her. Her motives? To keep hold of their son Oz. Sarah Paulson’s character took us on a roller coaster of emotions throughout the seventh season, and her revenge was a dish served with pasta.
3. Michael Langdon’s tragic death
We know Antichrist Michael Langdon had to die somehow to avoid the apocalypse and, you know, give us more AHS seasons to enjoy. That didn’t stop us from picking our jaws up off the floor when Mallory used the tempus infinituum spell to time travel to Langdon’s youth at the Murder House. Langdon ended up under the wheels of Mallory’s car and, rejected by his grandmother Constance, died in the road outside the house. Sure, he was only going to kill the vast majority of the human race, but Murphy and co. made viewers truly suffer with this one.
2. Violet Harmon is dead
Murder House was packed full of twists and turns we didn’t see coming, probably because it was the first season of a new breed of unpredictable TV. The most memorable and haunting moment, however, came when Violet Harmon discovered she was already dead. Fleeing Tate Langdon’s suggestions of a suicide attempt in “Smoldering Children,” Harmon tries to leave the house and ends up transported back inside. Realizing she succeeded in her drug overdose in “Piggy Piggy” after discovering the truth about Tate, the scenes where Harmon tries in vain to escape made for truly devastating yet captivating viewing.
1. Oliver Thredson is Bloody Face
Above the aliens, demonic possession and Nazi experimenting doctor plot twists, we were floored by the reveal as Asylum’s Lana Winters discovers her Briarcliff savior Dr. Thredson is in fact Bloody Face. Add that to his attempts to frame Kit Walker for his crimes, throw in his Ed Gein-esque home decor and his serious mommy issues and you have one of the most formidable villains in AHS history. Let’s face it: The psych-is-the-psycho trope isn’t a new concept. However, we so badly wanted Winters to escape the asylum with him. Thredson fooled us all.
What’s your favorite American Horror Story plot twist? Let us know in the comments below.