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"I've learned to assume the worst."
Played By: Sarah Paulson
"You don't have any idea of what I'm capable of."
An ambitious journalist committed to the asylum after she attempts to expose Briarcliff’s darkest secrets.
Butt Monkey: Is committed against her will, her girlfriend is killed by Bloody Face, becomes Bloody Face's surrogate mother/rape victim, escapes him only to accept a ride from a suicidal psycho who eats his gun at 50 MPH, and lands right back in Briarcliff following the resulting car crash. It's only then that she starts to really fight back.
Iron Butt Monkey: But not once does she crack under the pressure, though she comes close to it during "Dark Cousin".
The Determinator: She's gone through hell, tangled with sadists and serial killers and still manages to survive to tell her story and become a household name.
Final Girl: She's the only primary character of the entire season who is still alive (or at least, know to be) at the end.
From Bad to Worse: She escapes Briarcliff only to end up in the clutches of Dr. Thredson who turns out to be Bloody Face.
Hope Spot: Her determination seemingly pays off as Dr. Thredson takes an interest in her and smuggles her out of Briarcliff. Too bad he's Bloody Face. She escapes his basement... only to pick the car of a suicidal psycho who eats his gun at 50 MPH, and the resulting crash lands her back in Briarcliff. And then, she's not even safe in Briarcliff, as Thredson returns there. However, this all pays off in the end when Lana, fully released from the asylum, goes to Thredson's place and shoots him, claiming self-defense.
One last, slightly more tame Hope Spot occurs some time later, when Lana returns to Briarcliff for the last time and liberates Sister Jude. Except, as she reveals immediately after, that didn't actually happen. Jude was gone by the time she got there, having already been removed from Briarcliff by Kit.
I Ate What?: After telling her that her girlfriend's body parts were all over from Briarcliff to Ohio, Dr. Thredson mentions "they would always have Paris". Implying that he kept some parts and fed them to Lana in a Croque-monsieur that cooked for her in "The Origins of Monstrosity". Of course, this is coming from Dr.Thredson and may have doing this just to try to get a rise out of her.
Intrepid Reporter: She's determined to expose Briarcliff's dark secrets. This only gets her committed.
Child by Rape: Carries his child, conceived during the rape. She tries to give herself an abortion in "The Coat Hanger", but it doesn't work. Later tries to get another abortion, but refuses to do so, not wanting any more death. However, she wants nothing to do with the child at the time, and adopts him out as soon as possible.
Offing the Offspring: After a tense confrontation with her son, she apologizes to him and then puts a bullet into his head.
Rich Bitch: Becomes this in "Continuum" after becoming a top selling author. Later redeems herself by bringing Briarcliff down.
She Knows Too Much: Threatened to expose Sister Jude's practices. Jude had her silenced by blackmailing her girlfriend, Wendy, into having her committed.
She Who Fights Monsters: Before Lana had left on the day she had the interview about the asylum, Sister Jude had a speech to her, regarding this and in hindsight becomes the foreshadowing of her Character Development throughout the season:
Sister Jude: "If you look evil in the face, evil will look right back at you."
Lana had pretty much looked into the abyss and stared right back at it.
Took a Level in Badass: Taunts a gagged Thredson with threats of aborting her baby and extorts a confession out of him.
Takes another one by killing Thredson herself.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Post-timeskip in "Continuum". Seemingly has abandoned the idea of destroying Briarcliff once and for all so that she could cash in on her own story, going so far as to embellish certain aspects of it, and coldly dismisses Kit when she finds out that Sister Jude didn't really die. Though Kit's words seemingly affect her enough that she goes back to Briarcliff and finally destroys it for good, she later admits that she did it purely out of ambition.
"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 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: 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. Her death is peaceful.
Break the Haughty: Getting back to the institution as a patient, treated just the way she had treated her patients.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Villains Out Shopping: Surprisingly, it seemed to be very happy to sit and watch a movie with the inmates (albeit one about Christians being brunt) during a nor'easter when it could have easily caused some serious damage around the asylum instead. Ironically enough, it also seemed pretty stoked about setting up a Christmas party and watching Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
"I can either cut your throat or I can strangle you. I don't believe in guns."
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. He is later revealed to be the Serial Killer Bloody Face.
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.
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.
Subverted again because he's actually much worse than Sister Jude, and, as his attempt at aversion/conversion therapy failed, his further idea of "behavioral modification" initially hinted at necrophilia.
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: 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.
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.
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.
Monsignor Timothy Howard
"Times may have changed, doctor, but the nature of evil has not."
Played By: Joseph Fiennes
"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.
Although as the season goes on, his role has expanded, but he still has the least screen time.
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 appears to have stepped in as the final antagonist of "Asylum".
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.
Driven to Suicide: After Lana brings down Briarcliff and threatens to expose him, he slashes his own wrists.
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.
My God, What Have I Done?: Once he sees what happened to Shelly and kills her to end her pain and suffering, he undergoes this to Arden only for him to twist the way things work and has him fire Sister Jude.
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.
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.
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.
Frameup: Framed for the Bloody Face murders by the real Bloody Face, Dr. Thredson.
Killed Off for Real: Possibly. May have died of pancreatic cancer, but nobody actually knows for sure. According to Lana, he suddenly disappeared. Only the children know that the aliens came back for him.
"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.
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.
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.
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: 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.
Helps bring back Grace from the aliens, though he declines to tell Kit.
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.
"Legend has it that once you were committed at Briarcliff, you never got out."
Played By: Jenna Dewan Tatum
One half of a newlywed couple touring 'most haunted' locations in America. She and her husband are attacked by several Bloody Face copycats, before she is abducted by the real Bloody Face. She survives longer than her husband but eventually dies when he clumsily attempts to skin her alive.
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.
Anti-Climax Boss: Set up as the final antagonist of the season, but disarmed and dispatched fairly quickly by Lana when he confronts her.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Played By: Mark Consuelos
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The World's Expert on Getting Killed: Jude hires him to help take down Arden, and it's clear he's hunted Nazis successfully before, but Sam gets his throat cut off-screen by Mary Eunice before he can do anything to accomplish his goal.
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.
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.
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.
Jerkass: He hangs around to taunt and threaten Kit.
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.
For the Evulz: Jenny has no reason to kill other than her own amusement.
An enigmatic alien species that abducts humans for unknown experiments. Their presence is usually preceded by a bright, blinding light and deafening radio noise.At the beginning of Asylum, they abduct Kit and Alma Walker. Kit is returned, but Alma isn't. Dr. Arden later discovers an alien tracker device embedded within Kit's neck. Sister Jude also encounters an alien during a storm at Briarcliff. The aliens also abduct Pepper and Grace, before returning Grace who seems to have become pregnant and suffers a miscarriage.While disposing of Grace's body, Dr. Arden encounters the aliens when they abduct her corpse before him. Dr. Arden speculates that the aliens are interested in Kit and women he's impregnated, and so brings him close to death to force an encounter. The aliens return Pepper with highly augmented intelligence. They also return Grace, alive and very pregnant. They prevent Dr. Arden from conducting experiments on Grace, and Pepper claims that they see Arden as a pathetic inferior.Many years after the closure of Briarcliff, they return for Kit before he dies, thus book ending his story.
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.