Characters: American Horror Story: Asylum
Warning! This page will contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.
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Played By: Sarah Paulson
Lana Winters: You don't have any idea of what I'm capable of.
Sister Jude: Well, then, look at you, Ms. Lana Banana. Just remember if you look in the face of evil, evil's gonna look right back at you.
An ambitious journalist committed to the asylum after she attempts to expose Briarcliff’s darkest secrets. Lana is in a committed relationship with her girlfriend, Wendy, and they keep their relationship a secret from most people in their life. She first comes to Briarcliff to allegedly write an article about the asylum's bakery, but her true intentions are to interview the killer "Bloody Face", whom she believes is Kit Walker. Sister Jude, suspicious of her intentions, takes an immediate disliking to her, and commits her for her homosexuality after she is caught in the asylum after hours.
Sister Jude Martin/Betty Drake
"Mental illness is the fashionable explanation for sin."
Played By: Jessica Lange
Kit Walker: They weren't human, they were monsters.
Sister Jude: All monsters are human.
A stern nun, informally referred to as "Judy Martin", with a dark past, who oversees the doctors and patients at the Briarcliff Institute. Though she initially appears to be strict with the patients at Briarcliff, she is later shown to be caring and vulnerable.
- The Alcoholic: Before she was a nun, Sister Jude greatly enjoyed the bottle.
- A Lighter Shade of Black: Jude certainly seems very mean and immoral, but compared to her rival Dr. Arden she's a saint..
- Anti-Hero / Anti-Villain: Type V if the first, Type II if the second. After her Heel-Face Turn slips into Type IV or Type III
- The Atoner: Unknown to anyone, Jude had become a nun because she thought she killed a young girl one night after getting drunk. However, Jude later discovers that the girl survived and becomes a little more heroic in nature, eventually telling Mother Superior Claudia what she did to Lana.
- Bittersweet Ending: She's taken out of Briarcliff by Kit and restored to sanity with the help of Kit's children. She is finally happy after everything that has been done to her...only for illness to strike six months later. However, her death is peaceful.
- Break the Haughty: Jude is broken by the numerous going-ons at the asylum, eventually culminating in her winding up in Briarcliff as a patient...treated very much the way she treated her own patients.
- Cure Your Gays: She tries to do this to Lana.
- Dark and Troubled Past: She slept around with lots of guys when she was younger and was an alcoholic mess. One night, while she was driving home drunk after she was turned down, she ran over a little girl.
- Death Faked for You: By the Monsignor, though it was not one that she wanted.
- Driven to Madness: What the possessed Sister Mary Eunice is trying to do to her. It works, Jude is incarcerated and is so fried from medication and electroshock that she cannot tell what is real anymore.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Unfortunately, it only lasts six months before she passes on.
- Everyone Has Standards / Even Evil Has Standards: Jude might be willing to use intimidation and blackmail, but she's completely in opposition to Dr. Arden's "experiments." More so when she has evidence of his Nazi background.
- Expy: Sister Jude is basically Nurse Ratched, until she's incarcerated, when she becomes Randle McMurphy.
- Face Death with Dignity: Part of her arc with the Angel of Death is coming to grips with her life and being able to move on peacefully.
- Frameup: Framed for Frank's murder.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Winds up as a patient in the asylum she ruled with an iron fist. And quite a few people are happy to see it.
- Mama Bear: Towards Sister Eunice. Became a literal one towards Kit's children after being released into Kit's care.
- Motor Mouth: Sister Jude could really talk up a storm if she needed to, talking a bit more faster then the other characters, including Sister Eunice. She stops after being committed to Briarcliff, because of shock therapy.
- Off The Wagon: During Nor'Easter.
- Really Gets Around: In her younger days.
- Sanity Slippage: After being forcibly committed to Briarcliff, she slowly loses her mind. As of "Continuum", she truly loses any semblance of sanity. However, at the end of the season, even after a relapse of believing she was back at Briarcliff and her old job, the two children of Kit Walker did something to her and her sanity was restored.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: After spending the entire season being driven crazy and constantly reminded of a hit and run accident she was in before she became a nun, Sister Jude finds out the little girl she ran over is alive.
Sister Mary Eunice
Sister Mary Eunice McKee
"I'm so weak and stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!"
Played By: Lily Rabe
"You're too good to me, Sister."
A young nun who works at Briarcliff Institute under Sister Jude, who favors her, believing her naivety to be an indication of her "purity." She seeks to please everyone, which proves difficult in the asylum. However, she is later possessed by the Devil, and her innocent personality vanishes as the spirit takes hold of her. Along with Pepper, she is one of the characters carried over (via flashbacks) into Season 4, American Horror Story: Freak Show
- Butt Monkey: Pre-possession.
- The Cameo: Lily Rabe reprises the role of Sister Mary Eunice in episode ten of Freak Show. Her scenes take place in 1962, two years before the events of Asylum, and reveal that she is responsible for Pepper's incarceration in the asylum, and later takes her on as a "special project".
- The Cutie: Pre-possession.
- Dumb Blonde: Subverted after being possessed by the Devil, where she becomes very smart and manipulative.
- Driven to Suicide: Her death was what we call an "assisted suicide." If you're old enough to be surfing the American Horror Story boards freely, you likely know what that is. While there is some debate, Rabe herself has confirmed that it was, indeed, a form of killing herself. She also said that, had Sister Eunice lived, she likely would've killed herself, anyhow - there just really wasn't any other way after what had happened.
Dr. Oliver Thredson
"How can I help?"
A psychiatrist at Briarcliff Institute whose approach to treatment creates conflict with that of Sister Jude's. He is first brought in to examine Kit to see if he is mentally fit to stand trial, and convinces him to plead guilty in order to avoid the death penalty. Thredson quickly becomes appalled at the dated treatments practiced at the asylum.
- Big Good: Seems to be the only person trying to help the patients. It's then completely subverted in the worse way.
- Dark and Troubled Past: He was abandoned by his mother and ended up in a strict orphanage that used corporal punishment. He subsequently developed a psychosis, especially after seeing a cadaver in medical school, that set him on the path to become Bloody Face.
- Decoy Protagonist: Top billed, but isn't the main character on the series, as Lana, Kit, and Sister Jude are considered to be the main characters. He was the defacto Big Bad though.
Monsignor Timothy Howard
"Times may have changed, doctor, but the nature of evil has not."
"The tonic for a diseased mind lies in the 3 P's: productivity, prayer, and purification."
Sister Jude’s superior and the object of her affections. He and Dr. Arden are working together to keep the secrets of Briarcliff hidden, the Monsignor will do anything to protect the asylum.
- Advertised Extra: Second-billed, yet his appearances in each episode are the briefest and he doesn't even appear in three of the episodes. Somewhat justified, as he's a Monsignor who doesn't work at Briarcliff in a direct capacity and only turns up when there's an issue that needs addressed. His role is gradually expanded as conditions as Briarcliff deteriorate.
- Anti-Villain: Cross between Type II and Type III.
- Also has shades of Anti-Hero, especially in "The Name Game".
- Firmly Averted in the last 2 episodes.
- Ambition Is Evil: Howard is always thinking of his career progression first and foremost, which is why he allowed Arden to perform his experiments and why he covered up so many of the horrible things in Briarcliff. He does eventually become a Cardinal in New York.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Averted completely. As a priest, the Monsignor values his "virtue". When he loses it to rape by Mary Eunice/the Devil, he is equal parts ashamed and traumatized.
- Big Bad / Final Boss: With Thredson, Arden and Mary Eunice dead, he seems to step in as a final antagonist. However, it's subsequently averted. After he locks up Jude, he becomes a cardinal and washes his hands of Briarcliff, spending most of the show's final act off-screen; he kills himself out of guilt after Lana's Briarcliff documentary airs. The real Final Boss is Johnny - or Briarcliff itself, depending on how you look at things.
- Broken Pedestal: Sister Jude views him as infallible, but gradually comes to view him as the weak, opportunistic human he truly is.
- Consummate Liar: Howard is constantly lying to everyone in one way or another, just by virtue of how many secrets he's keeping.
- Driven to Suicide: After Lana brings down Briarcliff and threatens to expose him, he slashes his own wrists in a bathtub.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: An interesting case. While not technically an outright villain, the Monsignor had always been shady. However, as of "Spilt Milk", with Dr. Arden, the possessed Sister Mary Eunice, and Dr. Thredson dead, and with Sister Jude kept away from general public since she knows his secrets and was "dead" to anyone else, he becomes the head of Briarcliff with no one else to stop him. It's later revealed after the time-skip that he's been promoted to a cardinal shortly after the Church signed Briarcliff over to the state.
- Idiot Ball: Trusting Leigh. It nearly gets him killed.
- I Gave My Word: In "Continuum", he tells Jude that he would be getting her out of the asylum before heading to New York to start as Cardinal. Jude, after spending two and a half years (which seemed like days to her), figures out he lied.
- Improbable Weapon User: His rosary beads, which he uses to strangle Shelley and smash Dr. Arden's record player.
- Mercy Kill: To Shelley, later to Sister Eunice.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Once he sees what happened to Shelley and kills her to end her pain and suffering, he realizes he never should have allowed Arden to perform his experiments. However, the guilt isn't enough to silence his own ambition and sense of self-preservation, so he fires Sister Jude instead of Arden. This happens again when he realizes that Sister Jude was right all along about Sister Eunice being possessed.
- Not Quite Dead: Though Leigh attempts to drown and then crucifies him, he survives.
- Pet the Dog: Even though Kit was blackmailing him into doing so, the Monsignor allowed him to get Grace (since Dr. Arden did sign a paper that Grace declared to be legally dead) to leave and allows them to start their family.
- Rape as Drama: On the receiving end of it from Sister Eunice.
- Sexy Priest: At least in Sister Jude's view. Until "Spilt Milk", that is.
- Sinister Minister: He's blinded by his ambition and is motivated by self-interest to an extent, but he doesn't want to hurt anyone and is shocked at Dr. Arden's experiments. It isn't until "Spilt Milk" when this trope starts to really come into play.
- Took a Level in Badass: He's the one who ends Mary Eunice's reign of terror.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: In "Spilt Milk".
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: Possibly some kind of Irish, as the character's last name was originally going to be O'Hara.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Before and after becoming Monsignor, and it really does him no favours. First he forms an alliance with Dr. Arden, and later he is nearly killed when he naively trusts that Leigh has repented.
"There is no God. Not one that would've created the things I saw."
Played By: Evan Peters
Kit Walker: I'm not crazy.
Grace: Too bad for you.
An inmate at Briarcliff Institute, who is believed to be the serial killer, "Bloody Face", accused of killing several women, including his wife Alma, but he insists that she has been abducted by aliens. Kit Walker and Alma kept their interracial marriage a secret, in fear that someone might hurt their families.
- Alien Abduction: With his wife, Alma. Is returned, unlike Alma, after being implanted with a microchip. The aliens return for him before he dies.
- Big Damn Heroes: Saves Lana in the nick of time from Dr. Thredson strangling her by knocking him out with a large, water type fire extinguisher.
- Blackmail: On the receiving end of it from Dr. Thredson. Under threat of harm to Grace and their child, Thredson extorts the location of the confession from him.
- Cassandra Truth: Nobody believes that he and Alma were abducted, at least until Dr. Arden encounters the aliens himself.
- Enemy Mine: Willingly aligns with Dr. Arden in an attempt to bring the aliens back. It works, also bringing back Grace and Pepper in the process.
- Fate Worse Than Death: If you consider Aliens as Evil.
- Frameup: Framed for the Bloody Face murders by the real Bloody Face, Dr. Thredson.
- Maligned Mixed Marriage: In an interracial marriage in 1964.
- Mr. Fixit: Was a mechanic.
"What you put out into the world comes back to you."
Played By: Lizzie Brocheré
A French-American inmate who claims (and seems to be) perfectly sane, despite having been committed for murdering her father and step-mother. She quickly befriends Kit, later forming a romantic attachment to him.
- Abusive Parents: Was sexually abused by her father, which her stepmother ignored. Part of her reason for allegedly killing them.
- An Axe to Grind: Axe-murdered her father and stepmother.
- Back from the Dead: She was originally killed when she took a bullet meant for Kit, but the aliens took her body and brought her back to life with a full-term pregnancy, to boot.
- Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: She miscarries after she's returned. However, after dying and being brought back to life and by the aliens, it stuck the second time, despite Sister Eunice mentioning to Dr. Arden pre-second abduction that it'd looked like all her female parts had been scooped out. She says it's Kit's child.
- Missing Mom: To Thomas, her son with Kit.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: To Lizzie Borden.
- Only Sane Man: Claims this at the beginning of the season, until she meets the aliens.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Justified since she spent her early life in France, and then moved to America.
Dr. Arthur Arden/Hans Grüper
"I'm not a monster. I'm a visionary!"
Played By: James Cromwell
, John Cromwell
Kit Walker: I thought Sister Jude ran this place.
Arthur Arden: So does she.
The mysterious and shady head of Briarcliff's Medical Wing.
- Alas, Poor Villain: His death is oddly moving, as he's Driven to Suicide following a Villainous Breakdown.
- Alliterative Name: Arthur Arden. It's averted, however, his real name is Hans Grüper.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Arden has it very bad for the much younger, innocent Sister Mary Eunice. She's the Madonna in his Madonna–Whore Complex.
- Bald of Evil: He's very bald.
- Beard of Evil: A little Van Dyke.
- Big Bad: He's one of many vying for the title.
- The Cameo: Appears briefly in episode twelve of "Freak Show" (played by John Cromwell, James Cromwell's son), where it's revealed he was one of the people involved in cutting off Elsa's legs.
- Deadpan Snarker: He has some darkly wonderful lines.
Arden: These are the incurables. Those whose tuberculosis was too far advanced for any of the new miracle drugs to have an effect.
Howard: God bless them.
Arden: Well, He hasn't yet.
- Deadly Doctor: Arden is an extremely dangerous man.
- Dirty Old Man: He has some very twisted sexual hang-ups. He tries to get a prostitute to dress up as Sister Mary Eunice, has a collection of BDSM photographs possibly taken by himself and is at least an attempted rapist.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Upon Spivey for spying on Sister Mary Eunice washing herself. He turns him into a Rasper.
- Driven to Suicide: Having lost the woman he loved and self-belief shattered, Arden sees no reason to continue living and willingly cremates himself along with Sister Eunice's body.
- Evil Versus Evil: Against Sister Jude, who's A Lighter Shade of Grey compared to him.
- Evilutionary Biologist
- Expy: Of Nazi Scientist Josef Mengele, who also performed vile experiments on his charges, such as amputation and brain surgery. Like Arden, he didn't use anesthetic.
- Faux Affably Evil
- For Science!
- Heel Realization: Prompted by witnessing Sister Eunice raping Monsignor Howard. He later breaks down completely and delivers a mercy killing to several Raspers, declaring the experiments over.
- How the Mighty Have Fallen: Arden was a powerful man in the asylum, enjoying protection from the Monsignor and being given free reign to pursue all his sick, twisted experiments to his heart's delight. He ends up as a pitiful old man whose ambitions die out completely, and eventually result in his suicide. Even before the asylum, he was a well-respected Nazi Scientist who seemed to enjoy his time in Germany before being forced to flee.
- Hypocrite: He despises Shelley and Spivey for their lustful impulses, but he's a million times worse than either of them in that regard.
- Karmic Death: Arden, formerly a scientist in Auschwitz, burns himself alive in a crematorium.
- Kill It with Fire: How he kills himself.
- Large and In Charge/Lean and Mean: Played by the 6 ft 7 in James Cromwell. The occasional Hitler Cam shot makes him look even bigger.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: Unfortunately for Shelley.
- Lust: Attracted to Sister Eunice. See Madonna–Whore Complex below.
- Madonna–Whore Complex: Views Sister Eunice as his Madonna (prizing her purity above all) and every other woman as a whore. When Sister Eunice is possessed and starts coming onto him, he loses it completely. He loses it again after he walks in on her raping Monsignor Howard. In the season's third episode, he literally screams "WHORE!" several times at a statue of the Virgin Mary, a.k.a. the Madonna.
- Mad Doctor: Arden might seem sane, logical and level-headed but he's really batshit insane, particularly when it comes to his personal life.
- Mad Scientist: Uses the asylum patients as guinea pigs. His experiments created the Raspers.
- Mercy Kill: As an act of mercy he kills all his Raspers, ending his experiment.
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Well, it was presumably awardd to him in Nazi Germany.
- Never Found the Body: As he cremated himself along with Sister Eunice's body, nobody actually knows that he's dead and he's referred to as having disappeared.
- Pet the Dog: A few weak, somewhat self-serving moments might count.
- He saves Grace's life post-alien abduction, though it was mainly so that he wouldn't be blamed for what happened to her.
- He also gives Sister Mary Eunice a pair of ruby earrings he took from a prisoner in a concentration camp, hoping she'll be at least a little horrified at their backstory and thus give Arden some hope that the girl is still fighting the demon from the inside. He's notably upset when she doesn't react.
- He helps bring back Grace from the aliens, though he declines to tell Kit.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: He gets a well-deserved one from Pepper of all people.
"Stupid man. You think they'd allow you to continue your barbaric practice? She's protected. Your X-rays won't penetrate her body. You'll see nothing. Oh, but they've been watching you. You think you're like them, with your clumsy experiments. But they laugh at you, Dr. Arden. They make jokes. Here's a good one. Knock, knock. Who's there? Arden. Arden who? Arden you the quack who'd make a better duck?"
- Red Herring: There's a fair bit of time spent making the viewer think he's Bloody Face, but he isn't. Not that he isn't awful in every other way.
- Teeny Weenie: It's implied by Shelley that he has either a smaller-than-average penis or it's in some way deformed.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Charlotte Brown is right: he's a Nazi Scientist named Hans Gruper.
- Torture Technician: It isn't exactly his intended goal, but his experiments are performed without anesthetic and amount to torture.
- Villainous Breakdown: After realizing just how impotent he is in the face of the aliens, as well as just how evil Sister Mary Eunice is, Dr. Arden completely loses it. He kills all of his Raspers, succumbs to despair and eventually burns himself alive.
- Wicked Cultured: Arden is a very well-read man, with an understanding of Latin and an appreciation for classical music.
Bloody Face (1964)
"I can either cut your throat or I can strangle you. I don't believe in guns."
An infamous Serial Killer
who skins his victims.
- Big Bad: With the possessed Sister Mary Eunice and Dr. Arden, until Mary Eunice is killed and Dr. Arden commits suicide by cremating himself with her body.
- Blackmail: Blackmails Kit into telling him where the confession is, but is then blackmailed by Lana into not killing her or anyone else under threat of the confession getting to the police.
- Boom, Headshot: How Lana finally does him in.
- Creepy Crossdresser: Blink and you'll miss it, but that's a nightie between the Bloody Face coat and denim shirt.
- Dark and Troubled Past: He was abandoned by his mother and ended up in a strict orphanage that used corporal punishment. He subsequently developed a psychosis, especially after seeing a cadaver in medical school, that set him on the path to become Bloody Face.
- Dead Person Conversation: With Lana in 'Continuum'. And with Johnny in 'Madness Ends.' Although, that might because Johnny was already strung out on crack.
- Deadly Doctor/Mad Doctor: Set up Kit as his patsy under the pretense of treating him, and Lana is now his latest prey. As Bloody Face, he skins and kills his victims with surgical precision. Word of God says that he honestly believed in his job as a doctor, but he's so batshit crazy that he disassociates his day job from Bloody Face.
- Disc Two Final Boss: Dies shortly after The Devil and Dr. Arthur Arden within the first 20 minutes of "Spilt Milk".
- Doesn't Like Guns: "I'm going to give you the choice between slitting your throat and strangulation; I don't believe in guns." It turns out later, he did believe in guns and had one just to shoot Lana.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones/Even Evil Has Standards: He's horrified when Lana tells him that she aborted their Child by Rape. His response is a combination of "You killed our child!" and "You killed an innocent baby!" Of course, we all know that this didn't work.
- Evil All Along: Obviously, Bloody Face was known to be a psychotic serial killer, but his everyday identity of Dr Thredson didn't seem evil in the slightest.
- Face Death with Dignity: In a way. He prepares a drink and taunts Lana before slowly reaching for his gun and she shoots him.
- Faux Affably Evil: In a Sylar sorta way. If anything, the man could be joking around with you or cooking you something, then would then will try and kill you.
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: An inversion. He wears glasses purely for show as being Dr. Thredson. As Bloody Face, not so much.
- Genuine Human Hide: Makes lampshades from the skin of his Bloody Face slayings, ala Ed Gein.
- I Love the Dead: A cadaver in medical school, and then Wendy's corpse, and probably dozens more.
- Manipulative Bastard: Manipulates Lana into trusting him and Kit into becoming his patsy.
- Mommy Issues: A pivotal part of his backstory.
- Out-Gambitted: Successfully extracts the location of the confession from Kit, but he did not count on Lana moving the tape before he could get to it.
- Parental Abandonment
- Psychopathic Manchild: His yearning for a mother which culminates in him trying to breast-feed from Lana.
- Psycho Psychologist: Under his "day job" as a psychiatrist, he sets Kit up as his patsy and ensnared Lana as his latest prey. Not only that, Thredson really loves to use his psychiatrist skills to watch the people he's gonna kill, judging their reactions and whatnot.
- Psychotic Smirk: Especially as he politely tells Lana what he's going to do with her.
- Serial Killer: Better known as Bloody Face, at least in 1964. It becomes public knowledge by the time his son is an adult and carrying on his legacy.
- Smug Snake: Downplayed. While he's not nearly as arrogant as Dr. Arden or Sister Jude, he shows signs of this at times. Especially before Lana shoots him.
- They Look Just Like Everyone Else: Which makes him being Bloody Face even more unnerving. Prior to the reveal, he was easily the most normal of the cast.
- Villainous Breakdown: Starts to lose his shit in "The Origins of Monstrosity" once Kit calls him out in being a liar and after finding out Lana tried to escape. Luckily, Lana talked him down by acting as "Mom" to him.
- Walking Spoiler: Take a guess?
- Wham Line: "You're the person to tell my story."
- Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Is terrified by the thought of a child growing up in an orphanage, and tells Lana that she's a monster for attempting to abort their child because she's harming an innocent child.
"You're mine now. Body and soul."
A demonic spirit that claims alternately to be a corrupted version of the true Sister Mary Eunice and the Devil himself. It first arrives at Briarcliff in possession of a boy named Jed and flees into the nun's body upon being cast out by an exorcist. Sadistic and chaotic, it runs amok and wreaks havoc throughout the asylum.
- Berserk Button: Whenever someone says the real Sister Mary Eunice remains pure and untainted in the face of the demon's influence, it goes bat-shit.
- Big Bad: After taking control of Briarcliff.
- The Chessmaster: Successfully manipulates Jude, Arden, Monsignor Howard and the investigative board.
- Cute and Psycho: The Devil sure knows how to use Sister Mary Eunice's pure soul to its advantage and act all innocent, but it's always cruel and probably planning your death at any given moment.
- Demonic Possession: Obviously.
- Devil in Plain Sight: After possessing Sister Mary Eunice, it doesn't even bother to maintain any sort of low profile whatsoever, wearing lipstick in front of Sister Jude, making blatant sexual advances on Arden and telling everyone how awesome it is when the Christians are eaten at the end of The Sign of the Cross.
- Fallen Angel: According to Shachath.
- Faux Affably Evil: Once in Sister Mary Eunice's body, the Devil doesn't scare people with facial distortions and seizures like it did in possession of Jed. Instead, it charms and manipulates its way to bringing about the chaos it desires.
- Flaming Devil: A possible interpretation, assuming this version of the Devil identifies as male. It makes sexual advances on both Arden and the Monsignor, and seems very comfortable in Sister Mary Eunice's skin even in private.
- For the Evulz: Especially at first. Later, it seems to want to ride Timothy Howard's success train to the highest levels of the Church.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: The Devil really makes sure that Sister Mary Eunice becomes an embodiment of evil.
- The Hedonist: Only seems to have respect for people who shun moral constraints and give into their baser urges.
- Hot as Hell: Ostensibly invoked to emphasize Satan's association with seduction and temptation.
- Knight of Cerebus: Whenever the it shows up, there's bound to be badder shit to come.
- Morality Pet: It uses Mary Eunice's status as this to manipulate Jude and Arden.
- Naughty Nun: Takes on a decidedly sexual bent after possessing Sister Mary Eunice.
- Pet the Dog: In a twisted way, its treatment of the little girl who was admitted to the asylum. It refuses to let her handle a knife because she might cut herself, then encourages her to indulge in her homicidal impulses because it views people like her as better than society.
- Rape as Drama: To Monsignor Howard.
- The Starscream: Outright plots to oust Sister Jude and install itself as Dr. Arden's second-in-command.
- The Man Behind the Man: After Starscreaming Dr. Arden as well, it makes overtures to Monsignor Howard to become this to him.
- Villains Blend in Better: Subverted. The Devil didn't blend in at all and just looked like a sadistic jerkass to everyone else.
- Villains Out Shopping: Surprisingly, it seems to be very happy to sit and watch a movie with the inmates (albeit one about Christians being burnt) during a nor'easter when it could have easily caused some serious damage around the asylum instead. Ironically enough, it also seems pretty stoked about setting up a Christmas party and watching Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
"Hey, Sister. I have a cucumber in my room but not because I was hungry."
Played By: Chloe Sevigny
"Do you think I'm full of shame and regret for what I've done now, Sister? You could shave me bald as a cue-ball and I'd still be the hottest tamale in this joint!"
A defiant nymphomaniac committed to the asylum by her husband. She flirts with Kit and Dr. Arden, and gives sexual favours to Carl the orderly.
- Advertised Extra: Appears in the show's marketing and promotion, but has the least amount of screen time. She is turned in a Rasper in episode 4 and dies in a Mercy Kill in episode 6.
- A Leg And A Leg: Has both her legs amputated by Arden.
- Did You Just Flip Off The Staff: She makes a habit of doing this a whole lot while residing in the asylum. She isn't even a little afraid of Sister Jude, mocking her several times in front of other people. She even mocks Dr. Arden.
- Double Standard: Part of her reason for being there. Her husband ran out on her many times during their marriage, yet she was caught with a pair of sailors and was almost immediately committed.
- Fate Worse Than Death: As Arden's guinea pig, she is turned into a Rasper. To protect Arden, Sister Eunice then drags her off and dumps her in the woods. She crawls on her hands and stumps all the way to a school yard.
- Femme Fatale
- Heroic Sacrifice: Distracts an orderly so that Lana, Grace, and Kit can get away. Unfortunately she runs into Arden before she can find them.
- Mercy Kill: By Monsignor Howard.
- Really Gets Around: So much that she was committed. Continues to do so afterward.
Played By: Clea Duvall
Lana's girlfriend, and a third grade school teacher. Sister Jude threatens to expose their relationship and blackmails Wendy into signing Lana into her custody.
- Advertised Extra: Clea Duvall was included on promotional materials, but Wendy dies soon into the season.
- Blackmail: On the receiving end of it from Sister Jude, to force her to commit her girlfriend Lana. If she doesn't go through with it, then Sister Jude will out her as a lesbian, which would cost her her job as a schoolteacher.
- Dead Person Conversation: With Lana in 'Continuum'. Lana hallucinates Wendy accusing her of downplaying their relationship in her fame-making book.
- Hope Spot: Comes to regret committing Lana and plans to recant it the next day. Unfortunately for her and Lana, she left the window open and Bloody Face ended that idea.
- Inelegant Blubbering: After having Lana committed, she breaks down in front of her friends.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Gets hit with this almost immediately after committing Lana.
- Lipstick Lesbian: Used to blackmail her when Lana is committed.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: Her body was kept in a freezer. Thredson dug it out in preparation for Lana's arrival.
- Think of the Children!: Her last words before Bloody Face killed her were "I'm a school teacher. The children, they won't understand." Whether she was saying this because she was genuinely worried about how they would react to her death or to get sympathy from Bloody Face, we will never know.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: She only appeared briefly before being killed by Thredson. Her body turns up from time to time to have further abuse inflicted upon it.
One half of a newlywed couple touring 'most haunted' locations in America.
- Character Death: Leo is killed by twin Bloody Face copycats after his arm is torn off by the present day Bloody Face.
- Death by Sex: The reason he puts his arm through a door is because Teresa promised him anal.
- Dead Star Walking: Adam Levine was advertised heavily, he was featured in promotional photos and with the main cast, but he dies very quickly and never interacts with any of the main cast.
- Happily Married: To Teresa.
- Hope Spot: Survives having his arm torn off and being stabbed multiple times to rescue Teresa from Bloody Face. The two of them then walk right into the copycats, who shoot them.
- Made of Iron: The guy gets his arm ripped off, repeatedly stabbed, and still has the energy to attack Bloody Face.
Played By: Jenna Dewan-Tatum
A newlywed couple touring 'most haunted' locations in America.
- Character Death: Teresa meets a grisly end when Johnny Thredson clumsily tries to flay her.
- Death by Irony: A horror movie buff getting murdered in gore-tastic fashion by a slasher villain? That probably counts.
- Death by Sex: She and her husband are pretty horny, since they're a pair of young attractive newly weds.
- Flaying Alive: At least, Bloody Face tried to do this to her.
- Happily Married: To Leo.
- Hope Spot: She almost escapes Bloody Face, only to be stopped by the copycats.
- Ms. Fanservice: Teresa has a foul mouth and gets down to her bra and panties for a moment.
- Nightmare Fetishist: A self-proclaimed "horror freak" who wants to have sex in the death chute of Briarcliff.
John Morgan / Johnny Thredson / Bloody Face (present day)
The modern-day Bloody Face, and son of the original.
- Ax-Crazy: He can keep his cool... until he talks about his mother, which makes him completely lose his shit.
- Big Bad: Of the Present Day storyline.
- Drugs Are Bad: Is the first slasher/serial killer that repeatably smokes crack and other drugs, and likely is the only thing that keeps him check given how he is able to keep his cool, even when talking about his mom.
- Generation Xerox: Has Mommy Issues just as bad as his father, and also grew up in the system. He also wants to go to medical school in an attempt to emulate his father's surgical skills and carry on the Thredson legacy. In fact, he even dies in the exact same way Thredson did, with a bullet to his head.
- In the Blood: He was killing animals long before he knew his true parentage.
- Jack the Ripoff: Averted. He doesn't take kindly to any of the Bloody Face copycats. Of course, this is added irony when he is the son of the original Bloody Face, and he is re-starting the murders thus making himself a copycat.
- Legacy Character: The son of Lana and Thredson.
- Mommy Issues: He's enraged at the mere thought of his mother, saying she never loved him or his father.
- Parental Abandonment: He grew up in the foster system and disowned by his foster family. Thredson is long dead by the time he discovers his paternity and Lana abandoned him to the system.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: He's on a quest to track down and kill his mother, so that in his mind, he's finishing off his father's final victim. He kills a psychologist and it's assumed he also killed her next client, a lactating prostitute, and a bookseller with the last copy of Lana's book along the way. His quest leads to failure, however.
Played By: Naomi Grossman
A microcephalic patient incarcerated for murdering her sister's baby. It's later revealed that she is actually innocent, and that her brother-in-law was the real killer.
Along with Sister Mary Eunice, she is one of the characters who returns in Season 4, American Horror Story: Freak Show
, which is set twelve years prior to Asylum
and includes Pepper among the supporting cast of characters.
- Ambiguously Brown: Her billing in Freak Show claims that she hails "from Darkest Africa", a bit of Truth in Television about how microcephalic individuals were advertised in freak shows as being the "missing link" between apes and humans. However, when her family history is explored on-screen the actress playing her sister is Caucasian, suggesting that this was just Elsa's idea to add a touch of exoticism to her posters.
- The Bus Came Back: Seems to escape from the asylum in Nor'Easter, only to reappear with Grace at the end of The Coathanger, now serving as a voice for the aliens.
- Character Death: Dies in Briarcliff, of unknown causes.
- Chastity Couple: The Freak Show episode "Orphans" reveals that she and Salty are married, though possibly not legally. Elsa describes them as "soul mates" and notes that it was "love at first sight" between them; however, it's implied that their relationship isn't sexual, though whether this is due to their childlike intellects or Elsa's insistence that they adopt rather than pass on their condition is unclear.
- Children Are Innocent: In Freak Show, Edward Mordrake refuses to consider Pepper and Salty as potential victims of his curse, because of their childlike innocence.
- A Day in the Limelight: In the tenth episode of Freak Show, "Orphans", Pepper's life story is told from the time she joins Elsa's freak show at the age of eighteen until her incarceration in the asylum some fifteen or twenty years later.
- Dumbass No More: Thanks to alien intervention.
- Frameup: Didn't actually murder anyone, as she's able to reveal later. It was her sister's husband.
- Kindhearted Simpleton: Double subverted. When we first meet Pepper, Lana is startled by her unusual appearance, but then we see Pepper offer her a flower and ask her to play with her. Sister Eunice then nonchalantly tells Lana that Pepper drowned her sister's baby and cut its ears off. Later we find out she was framed by her brother-in-law, because one look at the shape of her head was enough to get her committed.
- Obliviously Evil: Eventually subverted. Didn't actually murder anyone.
- Parental Substitute: In Freak Show she sees both Elsa and Desiree as substitute mothers at different times, is revealed to have been the foster mother of Ma Petite, and eventually becomes the primary carer for her nephew Lucas, for whose murder she is framed and sent to the asylum.
- Psychopathic Manchild: See Obliviously Evil.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives one to Dr. Arden.
- Theme Twin Naming: Though they're not actually twins, she and her Freak Show partner are called Salty and Pepper.
- Those Two Guys: With her partner and husband Salty in Freak Show, until his sudden but natural death prompts Elsa to send her back to her sister, ultimately triggering her story in Asylum.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Disappears during Movie Night and is unaccounted for until "The Coat Hanger", where she reappears with Grace. She was abducted offscreen, and returns speaking much more intelligently than she did prior, suggesting that the aliens have made her their mouthpiece. After Grace and Kit leave, she keeps Jude company (calling her "Boss") until her own death.
Dr. Arden: Another mess to clean up, Mr. Spivey? You seem to have mistaken the broom closet for the playground where you used to expose yourself to innocent little boys and girls.
Mr. Spivey:: No, never the boys, Doc. I had my standards.
One of the inmates at Briarcliff, who is considered to have aggression issues and inappropriate feelings toward young girls.
- Jerkass: Spivey is generally an asshole who behaves very aggressively toward everyone. When Kit first arrives, Spivey instantly provokes a fight with him for the sheer hell of it.
- Laughing Mad: During his fight with Kit, he has a big grin on his face.
Played By: Ian Mc Shane
Leigh: Make it tight. I like it tight. Just ask Sister Chastity.
Sister Jude: I'll deal with Sister Chastity.
Leigh: You might start by picking a new name for her.
An inmate at Briarcliff, he was originally a petty criminal who was arrested and jailed for stealing a loaf of bread. Around Christmas one year, he was raped and attacked by five inmates. He left jail in 1962 and proceeded to go on a rampage and kill eighteen people while dressed as Santa Claus.
- Bad Santa: His whole schtick. Tied firmly into his Rape as Backstory.
- Beard of Evil: Before he shaves.
- Deadpan Snarker: It's Ian McShane, of course he has the best lines.
- Dirty Old Man: His Noodle Incident with Sister Chastity.
- Faux Affably Evil: Sure, he may be an evil serial killer who shouldn't be trusted at all but everytime he's on screen, he owns the scene and puts on a good show.
- Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: As a young man he stole a loaf of bread; the ensuing torture of prison twisted him into a maniac.
- Karma Houdini: He nearly kills Sister Jude and lies to the Briarcliff board of directors so that they would see him as sane. He tops it off by almost killing Monsignor Howard and escaping. It is later noted during "Continuum" that he went on another killing spree, killing seven nuns.
- Large Ham: Both the actor and the character have a big slice of ham. Why else would he dress up as Santa Claus to kill his victims?
- Laughably Evil: Ian McShane's hammy performance and hilarious quips make him a joy to watch.
- Laughing Mad: He begins laughing crazily after seeing Mary Eunice kill Frank.
- Not Quite Dead: Survives his neck stabbing from Jude.
- Rape as Backstory: He was gang-raped as a young man by fellow prisoners.
- Reformed Criminal: Presents himself as wanting redemption and convinces the Monsignor to baptize him, only to nearly drown him and crucify him before leaving to resume his murders outside the asylum.
- Revenge Before Reason: On Sister Jude. He doesn't take the opportunity to escape, instead staying in the Asylum so he can exact revenge.
- Sadistic Choice: Gave one to his victims.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: He was actually let out to take a previous year's Christmas photo, but that didn't go so well. It isn't until Sister Mary Eunice released him that he's out for good.
- Serial Killer: His modus operandi was to murder an entire family, and later started targeting nuns.
Anne Frank/Charlotte Brown
"...nobody was lucky in Auschwitz..."
Played By: Franka Potente
A woman who claims to be Holocaust victim and diarist Anne Frank.
- Badass: She's the first person in the series with the guts to take on Dr. Arden face-to-face.
- Cassandra Truth: She actually was right about Dr. Arden.
- Chekhov's Skill: She mentions spending time as a pick-pocket in Germany, this comes in handy later when she steals a detective's gun to confront Dr. Arden. Subverted though, as she was never a pick-pocket in Germany.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Naturally, being in Auschwitz. Except she actually wasn't. She still qualifies for the trope, but significantly less so.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Arden has her lobotomized.
- Historical-Domain Character: That Anne Frank, or so she claims. She isn't. She's a housewife with severe post-partum psychosis who became obsessed with Anne Frank.
- Napoleon Delusion: The entire reason she's in the asylum is because she thinks she's Anne Frank. And she isn't.
- Sanity Slippage: Turns out, she's not the historical Anne Frank.
- She Knows Too Much: Arden pushes to lobotomize her because she can correctly identify him as Hans Gruper; she even has a photo of a young Arden next to Hitler.
- Stepford Smiler: Becomes this after her lobotomy, although she may be pretending.
Played By: Gloria Laino
An elderly Hispanic inmate at Briarcliff who is likely suffering some form of dementia. She spends her free time at the asylum dancing to the song, "Dominique", that is played in the common room.
Played By: Casey Wyman
A deaf and mute patient in Briarcliff. He was brought to Lana by Dr. Thredson to "cure" her lesbianism.
- Fan Disservice: He's a good-looking young man, and Thredson intends for his appearance to 'cure' Lana's lesbianism. However he seems borderline comatose in terms of personality, coming across as a blank slate and the entire ordeal comes across as deeply uncomfortable and violating.
- The Quiet One: Daniel has no dialogue whatsoever.
Played By: John Lee Ames
A patient at Briarcliff Manor. Sister Jude's caning has intensified his already compulsive masturbation.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Suffers from compulsive masturbation. Sister Jude claims she's had 'great success' with curbing his compulsion. She hasn't.
Played By: Tongayi Chirisa
An alcoholic man suffering from auditory hallucinations.
Played By: Fredric Lehne
A former police officer and now the head guard at Briarcliff. Seemingly thuggish, he is something of a confident for Sister Jude.
- Character Death: The possessed Mary Eunice slashes his throat with a Christmas decoration.
- The Dragon: Acts like one for Sister Jude, and is more efficient than Mary Eunice is.
- He Knows Too Much: The reason Sister Mary Eunice kills him.
- Hidden Depths: At first he appears to just be Sister Jude's right hand thug, but it later emerges that he genuinely admires Jude and is very forward-thinking for his time when it comes to women in power. He also feels awful after shooting Grace.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He may be a Jerkass, but he more or less allowed inmates to use the bathroom during Movie Night that was during a Nor'easter and consoled Sister Jude in her problems. He also takes pretty good care of the inmates when the chips are down, and is wracked with guilt over killing Grace.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Regrets accidentally killing Grace enough to try to persuade Arden to call the police and inform them about everything. Sister Mary Eunice puts an end to that.
- Officer O'Hara: Arden refers to him as a former Irish cop.
- Only Sane Man: He's mostly sensible, lamenting that Sister Jude gets fired when he considers her much more efficient than her successors.
- Punch Clock Villain: He's a good man, he just works in the asylum and it isn't his job to consider who's sane or not.
Played By: Mark Englehardt
A veteran of World War II and now an orderly at Briarcliff. He enjoys sexual favours from Shelley.
- Badass: A veteran of World War II.
- Bit Part Bad Guy: He's just barely a recurring character.
- The Brute: For whoever's running the Asylum at the time.
- Distracted By The Sexy Shelley: Shelley is able to distract him to allow Lana and Kit time to escape.
- Orderlies Are Creeps: He recieves blowjobs on the regular from patient Shelley, although it's consensual.
- Punch Clock Villain: He's just doing his job, and isn't overly cruel. The only corrupt part of him is his sexual relationship with Shelley, which is consensual.
- The Stoic: Rarely shows emotion.
Dr. Miranda Crump
Dr. Miranda Crump
Played By: Robin Bartlett
The new head of Briarcliff when it was acquired by the government after the Monsignor was promoted to a Cardinal.
- Jerkass: Crump doesn't care about her patients, dismissing their concerns casually.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: Not that Briarcliff was run by saints beforehand, but she is utterly apathetic to the needs of the patients.
Played By: Britne Oldford
Kit's wife. They are secretly married as he is white and she is black. She is believed to have been killed by Kit when she tires of hiding their marriage, but Kit staunchly affirms that she has been abducted by aliens.
- Alien Abduction: Along with her husband, Kit. Is not returned, unlike Kit, until "Spilt Milk".
- Maligned Mixed Marriage: Alma and Kit face prejudice for their relationship. Kit is taunted by bullies at work about it.
- Missing Mom: To Julia, her daughter with Kit
- Not Quite Dead: Though she's believed dead initially, then believed dead again by Grace, she's proved alive in "Spilt Milk".
- Sanity Slippage: After returning, she grows increasingly paranoid (which might be reasonable, since Grace wanted to bring the aliens back) and eventually kills Grace with an axe. This gets her committed, and she remains at Briarcliff until her death.
- Secret Relationship: Secretly married to Kit.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: After being abducted by aliens, assumed dead, then unexpectedly returned with a child, she murders Grace, is committed to Briarcliff, and dies inexplicably.
Mother Superior Claudia
Mother Superior Claudia
Played By: Barbara Tarbuck
Sister Jude's superior, and serves as her friend and mentor.
- Cool Old Lady: She's supportive and kind, but no fool and has plenty of strength.
- The Mentor: She was this to Jude when she was a fledgling nun.
- Only Sane Woman: She's the only member of the Clergy seen in the show that isn't either a craven opportunist, a self-loathing psychological mess or possessed by the freakin' devil.
- Put on a Bus: To Puerto Rico after she got Lana out of Briarcliff.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: By the Archdiocese.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: She's the only one who believes Sister Jude and helps Lana get out of Briarcliff.
Shachath the Dark Angel
Shachath the Dark Angel
"Guard your thoughts, use your rosary. Each bead is His name."
Played By: Frances Conroy
The angel of death, who visits the Asylum when people call her. She appears to the dying and 'takes' them away with a Kiss of Death
- Blue and Orange Morality: She operates on a level above humanity.
- Creepy Good: With her dark clothing and massive wings, she can certainly come across as very unsettling. However, she's only granting a peaceful death that can't be avoided, and never kills anyone outright, she just guides them into death.
- Dark Is Not Evil: She appears as a gentle, calming influence, helping those in need to cross over peacefully with a Kiss of Death.
- Don't Fear the Reaper: She's a true angel, and takes the lives of others with a kiss.
- The Dreaded: To the demon AKA The Devil possessing Sister Mary Eunice. Which says a lot.
- Evil Is Hammy: At least in "Continuum".
- Invisible to Normals: Is normally only seen by those who subconsciously sing to her (usually only those who wish to or are about to die). Other spiritual beings, such as the demon possessing Sister Mary Eunice, can also see her.
- Mercy Kill: Via a kiss. Delivers her kiss to Miles (the patient who'd tried to commit suicide), to Grace, to Sister Eunice/the demon inhabiting her, and to Sister Jude.
- Woman in Black: Always clad in funeral garb.
- You Look Familiar: In "Continuum" when prisoners are transferred to Briarcliff, the one who bunks with Jude looks exactly like Shachath. It's never really specified whether this is a delusion or some form of Mind Rape by the angel herself. Probably the former, seeing that Jude had clearly gone insane and that the angel had no reasons to Mind Rape her.
Played By: Chelsey Valentine & Kristin Slaysman
A child struck by Sister Jude's car in her secular past.
- Not Quite Dead: Jude finds out that she didn't die when Jude's car hit her, just left her injured. Missy survived and grew up.
- Posthumous Character: Sister Jude accidentally killed her before she became a nun. Later averted when it turns out she survived.
Played By: Mark Margolis
An Israeli hunter of Nazi war criminals put in contact with Sister Jude when she believes accusations that asylum doctor Arthur Arden is a former concentration-camp doctor.
Played By: Joe Egender
A 'friend' of Kit Walker who threatened Kit in the beginning. Kit thought the alien abduction was actually Billy taunting him.
- The Bully: He likes to turn up with his friends at Kit's garage to harass him.
- Jerkass: Billy hangs around to taunt and threaten Kit and is generally a racist dick.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: He bullies Kit due to his interracial marriage.
Played By: Devon Graye
A 17 year-old boy admitted to Briarcliff Manor by his parents after he is found in the family barn having disemboweled their best cow and muttering an unknown language. He is believed to be possessed by the devil.
Played By: John Aylward
A paraplegic priest who comes to Briarcliff Manor to aid in the exorcism of Jed Potter.
Played By: Nikki Hahn
A young girl whose mother, suspecting her daughter is a murderer, has abandoned her to the care of the asylum.
- Creepy Child: She's deeply unnerving, like Wednesday Adams Up to Eleven. Even her mother is scared of her.
- Creepy Monotone: She speaks in a flat, even tone.
- Enfante Terrible: Despite being a little girl, she's already begun killing.
- For the Evulz: Jenny has no reason to kill other than her own amusement.
- Serial Killer: She's only a child, but she's already racked up a body count.
- Self-Made Orphan: Eventually Jenny kills her own mother.
- The Sociopath: Jenny is expressionless and speaks in a bored, uninterested tone. It's very clear she doesn't feel much of anything beyond the desire to kill.
- The Stoic: Goes hand-in-hand with being an unfeeling sociopath.
An enigmatic alien species that abducts humans for unknown experiments. Their presence is usually preceded by a bright, blinding light and deafening radio noise.—-
- Alien Abduction: Well... yeah.
- Ambiguously Evil: Their motives are unknown. Grace was convinced that they were brilliant, while Alma was utterly terrified of them returning. So terrified, that she violently murdered Grace to stop her from bringing them back. Even at the end of the season, their motives are never revealed. The children they helped create become very successful, however, and they return for Kit before he dies.
- Bigger Bad: Maybe. Their motives can barely be guessed at.
- Blue and Orange Morality: Pepper tells Arden that he can barely comprehend their motivations.
- Brown Note: The penetrating radio noise that heralds the alien arrival.
- Divine Intervention: The aliens will not allow humans to interfere with their experiments.
- Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: They impregnate Grace. 'How' is not entirely known.
- The Greys: Grey skin, black eyes and no clothes.
- Light Is Not Good: Alien encounters are always extremely well-lit.