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  • Anti-Climax Boss: The Countess is gunned down by Lowe and turned into a ghost without much fanfare in "Battle Royale", and Lowe himself - aka The Ten Commandments Killer - is revealed to have been shot by police in the post-Time Skip finale.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Alex Lowe. A lot of fans hate her for being cold and detached, finding her to be far too unlikable for a protagonist. Her comments about Parental Favoritism towards Holden and request for a divorce did not help. On the other hand, just as many fans find her to be an incredibly compelling character because of how flawed but sympathetic she is, noting that she's a mother who lost a child and is now trying her best to move on with life, while also getting some good moments in (such as putting the smackdown on a Granola Girl mother who refused to vaccinate her children, with predictable results). Chloë Sevigny's near-universally praised performance plays no small role in her popularity either. Alex really hit this status following "Devil's Night" and "Room Service", where she decides to become a vampire with the Countess so she could be with Holden, further pushing the idea of those who hate her favoritism and then infecting the measles patient with the virus to save him only for him to kill his parents, infect his classmates and massacre the school. It gets worse. Even her biggest fans are finding it near impossible to defend how Alex treats John and Scarlett. Alex has abandoned the latter entirely so that she could be with her son, and she's been doing everything possible to drive John away from her and Holden, even collaborating with ghosts in the hotel to break his already fragile psyche in hopes of driving him away.
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    • Donovan also qualifies. A large amount of the fanbase despises him for a variety of reasons, chief among them being his perceived lack of sympathetic or likable characteristics, his terrible treatment of Iris, and that he suddenly reverted characterization wise when it looked like he would be developed as a character. On the flip side, a lot of fans find his relationship with The Countess to be incredibly interesting, enjoy Matt Bomer's performance, and enjoy the character's ruthless nature. A lot of fans are more willing to overlook how villainous he is since everyone this season is a villain. There's also debate on his relationship with his mom: Is he a spoiled brat, or was Iris really that bad? Since we get scarce details, it's up for interpretation.
    • The Countess, almost entirely due to her actress. Those who hate her see her as a somewhat over-the-top fashion diva and Creator's Pet made to pander to Lady Gaga's fan base (and the pop singer herself, as she personally asked Ryan if she could appear on the show due to being a fan and trying to start an acting career). On the other hand, many fans have noted that She Really Can Act (she even won a Golden Globe) and found the character to be interesting and well-developed.
  • Broken Base:
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    • The episode "Room Service" had mixed reception due to making Alex really make some idiotic choices, but at the same time gave a lot of more depth for Liz Taylor as well as Iris.
    • The season itself, unsurprisingly. Some love it due to the more cerebral atmosphere, top-notch acting even by the series' high standards, and the interesting and well-developed cast. Others lament the actual story for poor pacing in places, the treatment of Scarlett, a rather obvious mid-series reveal and a collection of various plot points that look important but ultimately aren't (most blatant being the Addiction Demon) as well as the out-of-nowhere death of Queenie which isn't even followed up on. Opinions on the finale are especially mixed.
  • Captain Obvious Reveal:
    • The Countess being James March's wife. While this may not have meant to be a reveal one can't help but feel that it was played that way.
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    • John being the Ten Commandments Killer. Depending on one's knowledge of Fight Club you may have seen this a mile away. Many fans had already guessed this by the first episode.
  • Complete Monster: James Patrick March, the deceased first owner of the Hotel Cortez, is a wealthy Serial Killer who murdered countless people in life and continues to do so as a ghost. When he learned that his wife was still interested in her former lover, he had the man sealed up behind a wall in an abandoned wing of the hotel and left him there to die. He has also served as an Evil Mentor to some of history's most prolific serial killers, and is responsible for corrupting John Lowe into becoming the Ten Commandments Killer. This is part of a project of his in order to "kill God", purely to spite a particularly defiant religious man he killed while alive. March is completely self-centered in his desire for the Countess, arranging her death so that she will be forced to spend eternity trapped in the hotel with him. Finally, March controls the Addiction Demon, a strange rapist creature with a drill for a penis whom March uses to threaten others into following his orders. A sadistic, brutal savage who hides his true nature beneath a veneer of class and aristocracy, March is the only member of a morally ambiguous cast without a single redeeming quality.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy:
    • Most of the cast are psychopaths but the show really hits this point when Alex abandons Scarlett and John is revealed to be the Ten Commandments Killer, leaving Scarlett as the only sympathetic regular and even then, she does not show up a lot.
    • Starting to be somewhat Averted as the season goes on. Most fans agree the entire cast is insane at best (excluding Will Drake), but a large chunk of the audience have begun to root for Liz Taylor and Iris to come out victorious, due to providing much needed comic relief and being among the most sympathetic characters of the entire season (aided greatly by most the others being very unsympathetic.)
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: This seasons got three near-universally loved characters:
    • Liz Taylor, for her Deadpan Snarker tendencies, sympathetic backstory, and the fact that she is consistently hilarious and enjoyable to watch. Her close friendship with Iris only made her even more popular. Especially surprising since most of O'Hare's characters, while liked, were rarely breakouts in previous seasons.
    • James Patrick March. Fans loved watching Evan Peters Playing Against Type with a hilariously comedic psychopath (with it being his first villain performance since Season 1) that stole practically every scene he's in.
    • Miss Evers for her quirkiness, her relationship with Mr. March, and Mare Winningham's incredibly enjoyable performance.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: There's now an outbreak of the measles that's being attributed to the anti-vaccer movement.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In the buildup to the season, memes appeared on the internet referring to Ryan Murphy and his preference for dark-haired white men with strong jaws. In the first episode, Elizabeth is seen lounging over Donovan, remarking he's got "jawline for days".
    • In the second episode, Elizabeth tells Tristan that the one who turned her into a vampire was more beautiful than he. It turns out that they are identical.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Likening the show to The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, particularly Mr. Moseby.
    • Hypodermic Sally's constant tears have lead to jokes about her and her crying.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • John, Alex and the Countess cross it by trapping the vampire children in the abandoned hallway with Ramona.
    • Sally crosses it by using the vampire children to transfuse their blood in order to save Elizabeth at the cost of their life despite the protest of Elizabeth herself.
      • Sally crosses it in the very first episode by having some random hapless junkie be brutally raped / tortured by the Addiction Demon, while psychologically torturing him herself, then trying to kill the guy by asphyxiation/dehydration after he fails to die from the shock. The fact that she calls "dibs" on that guest makes it clear it wasn't the demon who chose the victim, long before the show explains that she sacrifies people to the demon so it won't attack her. (Besides, between killing / torturing guests for fun being shown as the usual modus operandum for the ghosts, and Sally being the one to lure the victim for March's Devil's Night serial killer partynote , it's not at all clear if she actually has to bring the demon people to rape.)
    • The Countess killing Tristan just to spite him and Liz, who has been loyal to her for years.
  • Narm Charm: Finn Wittrock's Italian accent as Rudy Valentino.
  • Nightmare Retardant: The season's subtitle. After Murder House, Asylum, Coven, and Freak Show, Hotel isn't exactly the scariest thing.
  • The Scrappy: While most characters are divisive, Ramona tends to have a very high amount of critics. Complaints include her feeling like a rehash of her actress' Freak Show and Coven characters (the same sassy, takes-no-shit attitude, her Coven character's drive for vengeance) as well as the fact that she is completely and utterly pointless and inconsequential to the season's plot.
  • She Really Can Act:
    • Lady Gaga has been getting this since the pilot, but episode 2 cemented it. Critics and fans alike are citing her as one of the highlights of the season. On December 10th, 2015, she received a Golden Globe nomination for her role and later won.
    • Chloë Sevigny got this too after her monologue in Episode 3. While a fair number of people knew just how capable of an actress she was (she even has an Oscar nomination), even more were either unfamiliar with her or had only seen her performance in American Horror Story: Asylum, and were subsequently impressed by just how strong her performance was.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped:
    • Alex's speech denouncing anti-vaxxers in the second episode is incredibly anvilicious, but the show does make a very good point that honestly shouldn't need to be made at all, let alone by a horror TV show.
    • Embittered ghosts, vampires in need of humans to exploit for blood, and psychopathic killers in need of stimulation all serve as heavy-handed metaphors for addiction. Cue the song "Hotel California" by The Eagles to close out the first episode.
    • The finale can be interpreted as the writer saying: If you'd all just make an effort to stop being nasty to each other for 5 minutes, everyone would be a lot more happy - even the utterly antisocial psychopaths.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Liz Taylor and Tristan have virtually no scene together before confessing their love for each other. It's said that they've been together for weeks, but that was all off-screen and there was no indication of it until we get a scene of them in bed together and discussing their affair, making it all feel incredibly abrupt and out of nowhere.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: Queenie proved to be an incredibly disliked, unpopular character by the end of Coven for her Jerkass behavior and Karma Houdini status. Hotel brings her back in the penultimate episode just to kill her off, which ultimately came off as more pandering to a vocal part of the fanbase than anything. The fandom happily accepted said pandering.
    • For those who disliked The Countess, her getting hilariously gunned down by two little old ladies and ending up at Sally's mercy in the corpse shoot certainly qualifies.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • The Addiction Demon. A monstrous entity who's introduced in one of the most disturbing scenes in the series, it initially seemed like it would be one of the main antagonists of the season. After the first episode, it's only ever seen in brief glimpses, and has no further effect on the plot. Plot-irrelevant metaphorical characters may have a place in Literary Fiction, but not on a show as heavy-handed as American Horror Story.
    • Queenie - they brought in one of the only surviving witches from Coven, and the one with by far the most interesting power and killed her off in five minutes. Ultimately, this would play into a larger story come Apocalypse.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • "Devil's Night," in which March hosts a get-together for the ghosts of some of history's most prolific serial killers, seemed like a prime opportunity to include a cameo by some characters from previous seasons to further solidify the fact that the seasons are connected. Leigh Emerson,note  Bloody Face, the Axeman of New Orleans, or Dandy Mottnote  come to mind. Unfortunately, this didn't happen.
      • Each of the serial killers at the Devil's Night dinner encountered March and his hotel at some point in their lives. While some of them might have met him, the Axeman was dealt with by a coven in 1919, before completion of the hotel, and Dandy Mott was a manchild with an anxious, overbearing mother and likely never traveled far from home.
    • The penultimate episode features Queenie getting killed. This happens without much fanfare, and nothing ends up happening over it. You'd think that Cordelia would end up going to the hotel to find out what happened to Queenie, and possibly take revenge. At the very least, it'd make sense to have Queenie come back as a ghost. Neither happens, and this proves to ultimately have little bearing on the overall plot.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Alex. For all the pain and trauma she got from losing Holden, she arguably continues to prove that she doesn't really deserve to be a parent. Her accusations of John neglecting his family fall short compared to her abandoning Scarlett and actively hurting John to get him away from the hotel. John also gets on this by also abandoning Scarlett at the end.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Before Lachlan identifies himself as a male, it's hard to tell what he is. The long hair makes it difficult.
    • Prior to the beginning of the season, a lot of people were under the impression that Denis O'Hare's character Liz Taylor would be a drag queen or transvestite, who would otherwise present and identify as male. It is made clear early into the season that the character is actually a trans woman, and that she identifies entirely as female.
  • Win Back the Crowd: Ryan had gotten into past controversy due to his handling of bisexuality on Glee. This series' much better handling, explanation, and usage of the topic (particularly Will Drake's explanation of it) is seen by many as an attempt to make things right and apologize to those offended.
  • The Woobie: Let's face it: It's American Horror Story:
    • John for one thing: He lives with immense guilt for the disappearance of his son, Holden, he's more straight forward of being a Control Freak, and his once happy marriage with Alex is falling apart, to the point where Alex wants to get a divorce so the two won't deal with the pain of Holden's disappearance. You just want to hug him. Makes it worse that everyone in the hotel INCLUDING HIS OWN WIFE are messing with him psychologically to the point where you just wonder if he's going to go on a murder spree or commit suicide later on. What makes John such a woobie is that, besides a few others, he's such a Nice Guy, and the most issues he has is how much he seeks to control his problems. Makes it worse when you learn he's the Ten Commandments Killer, having been manipulated by James early on in 2010 to continue his work, and James was also the one who told the Countess to kidnap Holden to drive John into a murderous rampage.
    • Sally, although she goes more into Jerk Ass Woobie. She's a bitch with an ego the size of Jupiter, but at the same time you sympathize with her. She obviously has some interest in John, who she goes after. Makes it worse that Sally and John were in an affair and he forgot about it.
    • Scarlett, oh Scarlett. Her parents are going through a divorce, and she stays with her mother, who treats her as The Unfavorite. When she finds proof that Holden is actually alive, her parents treat her like she's gone insane. And then when Alex finds out that Holden really is alive, she promptly decides to become a vampire to stay with Holden, abandoning her daughter. By the end she's completely abandoned by both of her parents who chose her little brother over her, and can only visit them once a year and isn't even allowed to join their weird snuggle pile on the bed.
    • Let's see what makes Iris a Woobie: Donovan hates her because she was a bad mother to him (when according to Liz Taylor, she tried), she's stuck being the Hotel's manager in order to keep the Countess happy as she resurrected her son by infecting him with the virus. And when Donovan flat out is kicked to the curb and he tells her to just commit suicide, she does, at least until Donovan's Heel–Face Turn comes in and she's now a vampire.
    • Wren who had a incestuous father, was turned into a vampire (and in the twenty years since has grown sick of eternal life) and then forced by the Ten Commanders Killer to watch his crimes. She commits suicide by running under a truck.
      • It gets even sadder if you consider that her suicide could be seen as her attempt to fulfill the mission entrusted to her by Sally. The only way to protect John was to prevent him from learning he was the Ten Commandments Killer, and the only way to do that was to kill herself.
    • Alex is definitely a Jerk Ass Woobie. She's obviously been deeply affected by the loss of her son. This even lead to a suicide attempt. Of course, she jumps at the opportunity to be with Holden again. You can practically see the relief to find that Holden isn't dead. However she admits to feeling that she favored Holden over Scarlett and her actions became downright villainous when she decides the best way to get rid of John is to break his psyche.
    • Liz Taylor spending years in loyal service to The Countess only to fall deeply in love with her boy toy of the week, and see him killed out of spite.

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