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Dr. Benjamin ‘Ben’ Harmon
"The more you fear something, the more power you give it."
Played By: Dylan McDermott
A psychiatrist, married to Vivien Harmon and the father of Violet Harmon. Ben has an affair with one of his psychiatry students, Hayden, after his wife Vivien has a stillbirth. As a result, he and Vivien decided to move the family from Boston to Los Angeles in an attempt to start anew.
Agent Scully: He's a firm skeptic, refusing to believe there's anything odd going on with the house.
Character Development: His journey from being fairly self-involved, to seeing 'things how they really are'.
Driven to Suicide: Almost. Though he didn't actually commit suicide, Marcy uses this to explain his death to potential buyers.
Final Boy: By "Birth", he's the last of the original Harmon family left alive. His status as Final Boy is quickly revoked partway through "Afterbirth", as Hayden and several other ghosts hang him from a chandelier.
Has a Type: He's married to a strawberry-blonde wife, who he cheated on with a redhead student, and is constantly Distracted by the Sexy, who in this case is his redhead maid. Notice a trend here?
Interrupted Suicide: After losing Vivien and Violet, Ben puts a gun to his head with every intent of pulling the trigger. At the last second, Vivien's ghost stepped in to stop him so that he could raise the baby.
It's All About Me: Prior to his character development. His entire arc on the show is about him getting over this, and seeing the world around him as it really is.
Jerkass: He quickly resorts to getting aggressive and rude to others when things don't go his way.
Dr. Jerk: His bedside manner isn't exactly an inspiration. He even daydreams and ignores a patient whose problem was that everyone was ignoring her even though he was (unwittingly) drugged at the time.
Supernatural Proof Father: When Hayden shows up in episodes 4 and 5 after Larry killed her the episode before, Ben jumps to the conclusion that they are working together to get money out of him, despite the fact he held her dead body in his arms and built a friggin' gazebo over her burial place.
When Vivien starts seeing the ghosts, he thinks she's gone crazy.
He only believes Vivien's story about the Rubber Man after speaking to Luke. And even then they both think it's someone who broke in!
Doesn't even notice that Violet is dead, believing that she's only depressed.
It's only after he dies that he believes. He then uses that knowledge to help prevent the same thing from happening again.
Or when Violet keyed him in on everything the episode prior.
"The thing is when you fall in love, it’s kind of like you go crazy. Before you know it the whole world looks different, and you’ll do anything for the other person."
Played By: Connie Britton
A housewife and a former cellist. She had a stillbirth that caused her to withdraw from her husband Ben, who then had an affair with Hayden, one of his college students. In the process of dealing with the issues of her husband and the loss of their baby, she somewhat neglects her daughter Violet, but they seem to have a loving relationship. Vivien had been repulsed at the idea of any sexual contact with Ben, yet seemed committed to keeping the family together and to patching things up to go on with their lives.
Butt Monkey: A cheating husband? A miscarriage? A home invasion? Raped by her daughter's boyfriend?Considered utterly crazy? Giving birth to some kind of demon child? Yep, it's all happened to our Viv.
Who's Your Daddy?: She had sex with Ben in the afternoon and in the evening Tate raped her by fraud, dressed as the Rubber man who she thought was Ben. She gets pregnant with twins, one of which is Ben's and the other is Tate's.
"So we're the Addams family now?"
Played By: Taissa Farmiga
"I'm not gonna off myself. So you can go back to your policy of benign neglect."
The teenaged daughter of Vivien and Ben Harmon. She was upset at her family moving, as well as with her father's infidelity and mother's stillbirth.
Self Harm: She cuts her wrists and often wears long sleeves to cover the scars.
Smoking Is Cool: Violet has a significant smoking habit, which, in a reversal of the usual pattern, is not shared by the clique of attractive girls she encounters on her first day at her new school. Instead, they first bully, then physically attack her, under the pretext of defending themselves from secondhand smoke. Even after this she refuses to quit, though over time her smoking becomes more an indication of unease or anxiety than a symbol of being edgy or cool.
Together in Death: Initially with Tate, but rejects him in favor of her also dead family.
Weirdness Magnet: Even though every character encounters the supernatural, Violet seems to experience the strangest of them, particularly Tate's love for her and being bombarded with a flurry of ghosts.
"I questioned my sanity when I first found out, but this house will make you a believer."
Played By: Jessica Lange
"Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I was destined for great things. I was going to be somebody. Person of significance."
The next door neighbor to the Harmons, and a former resident of the house. Constance had four children: Tate, Adelaide, Beauregard, and one other unnamed child. Constance originally moved from Virginia to California in order to become a movie star, but did not want to do nudity, so her career never got off the ground. She was soon pregnant with her first child, Adelaide. At some point in the late 1970s/early 1980s, Constance and her family moved into the house.
Abusive Parent: Constance locks Adelaide in a closet full of mirrors after she interrupts Constance's "business meeting". She also chains her son Beau up in the attic because of a genetic deformity.
Born Unlucky: All of her children have died, Tate killed 15 people as well as burning her husband at the time, her first husband cheated on her, her most current lover, Travis, was killed by Hayden, and her grandson is a sociopath who may very well be the Anti-Christ.
Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: Calls Patrick and Chad's homosexuality an abomination, and even phones in a medium in an attempt to exorcise them in the penultimate episode of season one.
Final Girl: She's the only member of the main cast to remain alive by the end (except for Larry, who was sent to jail and likely did not survive much longer there either).
Gold Digger: Hooked up with Larry Harvey, not out of love, but so she could get back into the house.
Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Double subverted, since she comments to Vivien that had they had the tests for Down's back then she would have had Adelaide aborted. This pretty clearly sets up how she sees her children.
Mama Bear: Nobody is allowed to hurt Addy except for her.
Applies to Tate and her second son, Beau, who she had Larry kill to prevent him from being taken by the state, as well. She will kill to keep her family together, even going so far as to ally with Moira and Larry to off an unpleasant possible buyer. He was going to tear the house down.
Pet the Dog: Largely in regard to her daughter, Addie. Despite her being constantly passive aggressive, belittling her, regarding her with disgust and going so far as to lock her in a room full of mirrors, she still seems to love her and is distraught when Addie is killed. It's a...complex relationship.
Southern Belle: Of the aging, Blanche Dubois variety. Fitting, as Jessica Lange portrayed Blanche Dubois in several Streetcar Named Desire adaptations.
Sticky Fingers: Constance has no qualms about stealing from Vivien, and does so twice during the pilot.
As of the third episode, make that just about every time she enters their house.
And other people's houses as well.
White-Dwarf Starlet: An odd example. She wanted to break into movies and certainly has both the ego and dramatic flair, but never succeeded in the first place, which she says was due to her unwillingness to do nudity. She stills acts like a faded Hollywood star, though.
Bi the Way: Agrees with Violet that gay porn is hot, though he says it somewhat facetiously. He also offered to have sex with Patrick, although this was to get his wedding ring. Whether or not he is actually bisexual is unknown.
Is certaintly homophobic, however. His murder of Patrick was rather explicitly a hate crime
Although interestingly enough, the reason given for killing Chad and Patrick wasn't that as a gay couple, they couldn't come up with a baby for Nora, but rather that as they were on the verge of breaking up, there wouldn't be a baby for Nora to take. Then again, the egregious scene involving an Ass Shove with the poker, is disturbingly reminiscent of a hate crime. It might have been a shoddy Plan A attempt to paint the murder as an external hate crime, before Moira (or was it Nora?) pointed out the flaw in this reasoning and turned it into a murder-suicide instead. Add to that the fact that Tate's "which one is the mommy" bit was meant to invoke a Berserk Button (as opposed to his mother's clear homophobia) and the fact that Tate is a sociopath at the best of times, it's entirely possible he just really enjoys fucking with people regardless of their sexuality. Or this could just be a Draco in Leather Pants thing.
Expy: Tate is a (literally) Axe Crazy, lying, young man who has obsession with a younger girl and a mentally challenged sibling, and is first introduced with the Kill Bill whistle tune playing; he is clearly based on the lead character from the 1969 movie Twisted Nerve.
Freudian Excuse: For a lot of things. YMMV on how much they actually matter.
Love Redeems: His love for Violet is something he has never felt before, which is weird at the beginning he was acting as a sociopath. It’s arguable as to whether his love is genuine.
He says he does, but it's possible he doesn't. See Mommy Issues above.
Ultimately this is averted. He's in love with her, but that doesn't stop him being a monster, albeit a regretful one.
Mommy Issues: Tate describes himself as having these. They've surfaced as what Moira describes as a compulsive need to please the ladies of the house, and are why he donned the rubber suit in the first place.
Moral Myopia: Like any sociopath, he has no concept of good and evil. He looks down on some acts while defends his own inherent evil.
The Sociopath: At the end of the series, he takes responsibility for the heinous crimes he has committed, directly contradicting the denial-riddled nature of a sociopath. This suggests his character may have actually developed from the first episode to the last.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: He raped Vivien because he thought he was helping Nora, the only motherly figure he'd ever received attention and affection from (especially in light of his Mommy Issues). However, this only applies after his death and after he meets Violet.
He also tries to kill a potential new resident to give Violet some company.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: He's mentally damaged, neglected by his parents, and clearly depressed...and also a seemingly sweet boyfriend. And he cries so prettily! On the other hand, he's a mass-murdering, stalking ghost.
Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Averted. She is not that nice or innocent; she is every bit as messed up and creepy as the other characters on the show. Despite this she is one of the nicer people on the show, which helps demonstrate how much of a Dysfunction Junction the rest of the cast is.
Odd Friendship: With Violet. She is initially creeped out by Addie, but later they manage to get along and Violet even gave her a makeover for Halloween so that she looked "like a pretty girl".
Constance's son, and brother to Tate, Adelaide, and an unnamed third child. Beau was kept hidden away in the attic due to being born deformed and with Down Syndrome. He was smothered by Larry at Constance's request, to prevent the State from taking him away.
Morality Pet: Perhaps the only person Hayden has been shown to treat nice without any caveats.
Played By: Eric Close
Constance's cheating husband, who was shot to death by Constance after she found him trying to have sexual relationships with Moira back in 1983. His body was chopped off and fed to the dogs. His ghost resides in the house, and was seen once having sexual relationships with Hayden.
"I'm not naive to the ways of men. Their need to objectify, conquer. They see what they want to see. Women, however, see into the soul of a person."
Played By: Frances Conroy & Alexandra Breckinbridge
"That's what men do—they make you think you're crazy so that they can have their fun."
The maid that comes with the house, she appears as an old woman to everyone but living men, who see her as a sexy young girl. She was Constance's maid when she owned the house with her husband Hugo. When Hugo attempts to rape her, Constance walks in and, believing they were having an affair, shoots Moira right through her eye before killing her husband.
Does Not Like Men: Older Moira is pretty convinced that all men are out to hurt women. She isn't ever impolite to men in general, but when alone with a sympathetic female, she tends to rant a bit.
Midseason, it's revealed that this may have came about after she had a brief affair with Hugo Langdon, and when he tried to proposition her again, she refused, saying the first time around was a mistake. Not taking no for an answer, he nearly rapes her but is interrupted by Constance walking in on them...armed with a revolver. Constance kills Moira, then Hugo on the spot. In retrospect, a mild case of misandry might seem pretty sympathetic.
Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Subverted when she finds out she's pregnant and sets up an appointment to get an abortion and it's presented as a rational and mature decision. But then she changes her mind, decides to pull The Baby Trap on Ben, and tries to move out to California to force him to stay in her life.
The wife of Dr. Charles Montgomery. He built the house for her, and they were the first residents of the house along with their baby son Thaddeus. She assisted her husband in performing illegal abortions to maintain themselves financially. Eventually, their son is abducted by the boyfriend of one of their clients, and is later revealed to have been killed by the kidnapper.
A surgeon in the 1920s who built the house for his wife Nora. However, they eventually fall apart as he becomes more obsessed with his profession and alcohol. He performed illegal abortions to maintain themselves financially. Eventually, their only son is abducted by the boyfriend of one of their clients, and is later revealed to have been killed by the kidnapper.
Travis is Constance's lover. He dreams of making it big, constantly auditioning and modeling. Unlike Constance, he has no reservations against nudity and is willing to do anything for the fame. After Addie's death, Constance becomes more impatient with him, which caused him to cheat on her with Hayden. Shortly afterwards, he is killed by Hayden.
Friend to All Children: He has this tendency. He gets along with Adelaide way better than Constance, and he seems to genuinely enjoy playing with Larry's daughters and doesn't care about them being horribly burned. Their mother is surprised at how fast they bonded with him.
Nice Guy: Probably the nicest character in the whole first season cast. Yes, he cheated on Constance with Hayden, but he genuinely seemed to care about her and wanted to adopt a child with her. He was also one of the few to treat Adelaide with dignity, and after he dies, he even spends time playing with Larry's daughters.
Even in death, he cares about Constance. He asks Larry about her, and in "Afterbirth" forcibly takes Vivien and Tate's son away from Hayden so that Constance can have him.
One of the previous owners of the house. He moved in with his boyfriend Patrick to the house with the desire to adopt a child and build a family, but they soon start to fall apart. He and Patrick were killed by Tate on Halloween.
Hair-Trigger Temper: He completely loses his shit over seemingly little things, mostly since he was in a long term relationship that was about to end, with neither party willing to address the actual problems. Little stuff may be what they fought about on the surface, but underneath it is all the resentment and other major problems that had built up over the course of their relationship. As his relationship with Patrick will never actually end as they both died in the house, he understandably gets even worse.
Would Hurt a Child: Didn't so much plan to raise Vivien's twins as smother them once they were toddler-aged so they'd be 'cute forever'.
Played By: Teddy Sears
One of the previous owners of the house and Chad's boyfriend, Patrick spent more time at the gym that inside the house due to his fights with Chad. When he decides to dress up for Halloween just like Chad wanted to, he finds Tate killing Chad and tries to intervene, but is killed by Tate as well.
Two destructive red-haired preadolescents who are victims of the house. They were killed by the Infantata in 1978. Their ghosts can be seen throughout the first season, usually causing trouble, breaking things and throwing bang snaps.
Stock Unsolved Mysteries: Here, she was given an overdose of nitrous oxide by a rapist dentist. Dr Montgomery subsequently butchered her remains for ease of transport, and to give her a nice smile.
Lawrence "Larry" Harvey
"Gimme my treat! You don't want the trick!"
Played By: Denis O’Hare
"The one thing about the dead is they've got nothing left to lose."
A former owner of the Harmons' house; he is heavily scarred, and walks with a limp. He originally claimed to acquiring these injuries after he burned his wife and children alive while being possessed by the house.
The Harmons' real estate agent. When the Harmons first viewed the house, Marcy gave them "full disclosure" of the house's history, but in fact only told them about the previous tenants being found in the basement as victims of what was believed to be a murder-suicide.
Violet's bully-turned-companion. On Violet's first day of school, she was seen smoking inside the school's common area by Leah and her friends. Leah confronted the new student to the point of threatening Violet with physical force.
Alpha Bitch: Leah tries to make Violet eat a cigarette for smoking on campus.