Graveyard Shift

All About The Real Life Inspiration For Kathy Bates's Butcher Character On AHS

American Horror Story is known for melding historical fact with horrific fiction, and Kathy Bates's AHS: Roanoke character, Thomasin White, is no exception. Inspired by a variety of terrifying figures, much of the inspiration behind the character comes from Tomasyn White, the wife of Roanoke settler John White. She's largely absent from records of John White's life, leading to much speculation about what she was really doing when John White was exploring America and founding doomed colonies. 

The Butcher on American Horror Story, then, is primarily a fictional creation with real roots. Though the inspiration for Thomasin White may never have gone to the Roanoke colony, her absence from records allowed the writers of AHS to spin a wild story of witchcraft, sacrifice, and vengeance. The meta-narrative of Season 6 lets Bates's acting shine, as she delivers a performance that mixes history with fiction, obsession with vengeance, and dangerous instability together into a character that's difficult to pin down.

Here's all the real and imagined inspiration for one of American Horror Story's most chillingly evil characters.