Evan Peters is one of American Horror Story‘s most valued treasures, masterfully portraying characters who are in equal parts captivating and frightening from the very beginning. From Tate, the restless spirit of a deeply troubled teenage romantic, to Kai, the demented fanatic turned powerful cult leader, Peters has worn a lot of hats in American Horror Story over the years. In total, the prolific actor has portrayed 16 different characters throughout the course of American Horror Story‘s eight seasons – here’s every one of them, ranked from worst to best.
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16 Jeff Pfister – Season 8, Apocalypse
Evan Peter plays a whopping four separate characters in season 8 of American Horror Story, titled Apocalypse, and it’s just as well because frankly, the less airtime for Jeff Pfister, the better. This insufferable jerk is part of a duo of bowl-cut-adorned nuclear scientists responsible for the death over 7-billion people. Peters’ ability to stoke so much vitriol with one character is admirable, but the character is so singularly awful that it’s hard to even appreciate the performance. All that aside, there just isn’t much depth to Jeff Pfister to warrant casting such a talented actor as Peters for his portrayal.
15 Jesus Christ – Season 7, Cult
Playing Jesus Christ with any degree of conviction can’t be easy, but leave it to Evan Peters to pull it off in a way that makes viewers squirm with discomfort. Despite intentional visual cues that show Christ’s appearance is nothing more than elaborate theatrics, this brief cameo by Jesus drives home Kai Anderon’s utter delusion. Without any dialogue or expression beyond Peters’ angelic gaze, there isn’t much to say for Peters’ performance here. If nothing else, the scene is mesmerizing in its absurdity.
14 Rory Monahan – Season 6, Roanoke
In Roanoke, Peters plays Rory Monahan, an actor portraying Edward Philippe Mott in My Roanoke Nightmare and Return to Roanoke. Aside from some effective comic relief, Rory doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table and certainly isn’t an ideal vessel for Peters’ acting chops to shine. In fact, his gloriously brutal death sequence might be the character’s most memorable moment.
13 Edward Philippe Mott – Season 6, Roanoke
Only slightly more interesting than Rory Monahan himself is the character he portrays in My Roanoke Nightmare and Return to Roanoke.
Mott is the reclusive heir responsible for the construction of the Roanoke mansion. He’s wealthy, snobby, socially anxious, and openly gay, and that’s about as deep as it gets for Mott, and unfortunately Evan Peters, in American Horror Story: Roanoke.
12 Kyle Spencer – Season 3, Coven
Coven‘s Kyle Spencer might be Peters’ most sympathetic role; a charismatic, good-doing frat leader turned Frankenstein monster after his unjust murder by Madison. In his reconstructed form, Kyle spends the rest of the season in varying states of catatonia, murderous rage, suicidal depression, and uphill rehabilitation. Further, he’s revealed to be a victim of sexual abuse by his own mother, adding to the viewer’s sense of commiseration. Spencer’s unbridled misery and torture at the hands of nearly everyone around him isn’t easy to watch, nor does it do well to advance the plot in a significant way, even if perfectly portrayed by Peters.
11 Jimmy Darling – Season 4, Freak Show
While Peters plays a more central role in Freak Show than in Roanoke, his character, Jimmy Darling, is no less two-dimensional. He’s attractive, charismatic, righteous, and ultimately a missed opportunity for an actor as versatile as Evan Peters. Despite a tragic backstory and compelling plot-line, Jimmy Darling is far from exemplary of Peters’ finest work.
10 Mr. Gallant – Season 8, Apocalypse
Mr. Gallant isn’t Evan Peters’ worst portrayal, but he’s far from the best. A vain, flamboyant hairdresser caught in the midst of a nuclear apocalypse, Mr. Gallant is nothing if not entertaining, but compared to Peters’ more complex, conflicted roles, he’s too shallow a character for Evan Peters to truly blossom as an actor.
9 Kit Walker – Season 2, Asylum
Kit Walker’s intense roller-coaster ride through Asylum sees him falsely accused of killing his wife and named “Bloody Face” by the media, subjected to cruel experiments, and abducted by aliens, but none of that deters him from being the strong-willed, virtuous victim of American Horror Story: Asylum. Every story needs a good guy, and Peters certainly works in that role, but good guys are rarely the most interesting to watch.
8 James Patrick March – Season 5, Hotel
Peters’ first role in American Horror Story as an unambiguous villain is James March, a sadistic serial killer and the eccentric designer of Hotel Cortez.
Peters is particularly well-suited to morally gray characters, but his portrayal of James March is enthralling, if only for its sheer savagery. Make no mistake, this is one bad dude. In life and death, James March is an unhinged psychopath, murderer, and necrophiliac, making his complex relationships and horrific crimes that much more gripping to watch.
7 David Koresh – Season 7, Cult
Yet another exceptional portrayal of a manipulative cult leader is Peters’ depiction of David Koresh in season 7. In what little is seen, Peters absolutely nails Koresh’s movements, accent, and cadence as seen in documentaries and old footage, most notably of a sermon he delivered to his followers, which is reenacted by Peters.
6 Marshall Applewhite – Season 7, Cult
Marshall Applewhite, leader of the Heaven’s Gate cult, speaks with an unsettling tone and cadence in a well-known initiation recording replicated in season 7 of American Horror Story. Peters virtually duplicates Applewhite’s expressions, voice, and speaking style in an extraordinary feat of mimicry. The sequence only runs for a couple of minutes, but it was enough to send chills down the spines of everyone who had seen the original footage.
5 Jim Jones – Season 7, Cult
Continuing the string of appearances by influential cult leaders in season 7, Peters’ portrayal of Jim Jones is another example of the actor’s skill in replicating personalities with uncanny precision. Credit where credit’s due, the prosthetics and costume are spot-on, but Evan Peters’ studious acting during the mass suicide sequence is nothing short of chilling in its likeness to one of the most notorious cult leaders of the 20th century.
4 Andy Warhol – Season 7, Cult
Evan Peters’ depiction of the ’70s art icon Andy Warhol was incredibly convincing. Moreover, Peters proved with this role that he doesn’t need to play demented and abused characters to captivate audiences.
Peters as Warhol was one of season 7’s shining moments, bringing to life a historic public figure with impeccably replicated mannerisms and ego, not to mention flawless costume design.
3 Charles Manson – Season 7, Cult
Evan Peters as Charles Manson in season 7 of American Horror Story is every bit as frightening as you might expect. Supremely uncomfortable in a way only Evan Peters can pull off, Manson’s portrayal in Cult is shockingly lifelike. Again, props to the talented makeup artists and hairstylists, but it’s Peters’ mannerisms and tonal resemblance to Manson that sell this unforgettable performance.
2 Kai Anderson – Season 7, Cult
Evan Peters is at his best when he’s playing a character so manic, desperate, and deprived that one can’t help but feel begrudgingly enamored. Kai represents everything wrong about the political landscape in 2016, and to some degree, today. He’s a vengeful, uncompromising zealot who when faced with resistance, doubles down into authoritarian violence. Still, from the moment he emerges in episode 1 of American Horror Story: Cult in Cheeto-dust makeup, viewers were left anxiously awaiting his next hideously engrossing move.
1 Tate Langdon – Season 1, Murder House
Peters’ inaugural role as Tate Langdon in season 1 of American Horror Story is what solidified him as an irreplaceable feature in the series’ ensemble cast. The lovelorn, sociopathic ghost is as haunting in his dangerous instability as he is tragic in his hopeless quest for true love after death. Tate loses any chance at finding sympathy from the audience after he’s revealed to be the latex-wearing Rubber Man and Vivien’s rapist, but the violently opposing aspects of his personality are fascinating to witness from beginning to end.