All Of Kathy Bates's Roles In 'American Horror Story,' Ranked By Fans
Photo: American Horror Story / FX

All Of Kathy Bates's Roles In 'American Horror Story,' Ranked By Fans

Voting Rules
Vote up the characters absolutely crushed by the Oscar-winning actress.

No stranger to playing dark and unusual roles in film and television, Kathy Bates was a perfect addition to the talented cast of the FX hit series American Horror Story. Having been a fan of the first couple seasons, the Oscar, Emmy, and Golden Globe Award-winning character actress was thrilled to jump on board. She credits the show's creator, Ryan Murphy, with reinvigorating both her life and her career, saying, “This is the third act, and I never dreamed any of this stuff would happen."

Which of her sinister roles in AHS is your favorite? Difficult to choose, eh? Is it the high society, sadistic Madame LaLaurie from Coven, or perhaps the nightmarishly evil Thomasin, AKA "The Butcher," from Roanoke? Take a look through her catalog of demented characters... if you dare.

  • Madame LaLaurie - 'Coven'
    Photo: Coven/FX

    Kathy Bates's unforgettable first role in American Horror Story was truly disturbing and won her an "Outstanding Supporting Actress" Emmy Award. Portraying the wealthy sadist Madame Delphine LaLaurie, Bates breathed new and terrifying life into the historical figure who lives in infamy for atrocities she perpetrated in early 19th century New Orleans. After committing dozens of heinous crimes, horrendously mistreating her daughters, and mutilating the enslaved people in her home, LaLaurie, as portrayed in American Horror Story, is doomed to live eternally in servitude. The character even makes a brief cameo a few seasons later in Apocalypse.

    Having been a fan of the first and second seasons of AHS, Bates met with series creator Ryan Murphy to discuss her participation and was immediately taken with the show's fascinating treatment of the character. "I’ve done some pretty heinous things so far," she says of portraying LaLaurie's cruelty. "I know there was one particular scene that I can’t divulge that really made me weep. It was very upsetting. To think these kind of things actually went on, I mean people were tortured in those days. Horrible things were done..."

    816 votes
  • 2
    626 VOTES

    Iris - 'Hotel'

    Iris - 'Hotel'
    Photo: Hotel/FX

    A doting mother who will do anything for her child, Iris is the manager of the haunted Hotel Cortez where her (undead) son was killed. No stranger to darkness, Iris eventually becomes a vampire herself. Though she initially grapples with the existential issues of eternal life and the necessity of human consumption, she begins to feel invigorated and comes into her own for the first time in her life. 

    Of what she considered to be the most demanding of the three roles she had played in AHS so far, Bates said, "I couldn’t get a grip on her. If Iris had all the bells and whistles like the Butcher or Delphine, then I can go to town, but to play someone who could be anything, where do you start...? You could go in a million different directions. So that one was really challenging to me.” 

    626 votes
  • 3
    552 VOTES

    Thomasin "The Butcher" White - 'Roanoke'

    Thomasin "The Butcher" White - 'Roanoke'
    Photo: Roanoke/FX

    Bates's turn as Thomasin, also known as "The Butcher," is truly the stuff of nightmares. The bloodthirsty guardian of "her" land and leader of a community of undead colonists who haunt it, The Butcher horrifically murders everyone who sets foot on the property or crosses her in any way. Her heinous acts can make even the most hardened of horror fans wince.

    In reality, Thomasin White (also spelled Tomasyn) married John White in 1566, but there is no record of her joining him on his trip to America, let alone any evidence she became the sadistic Butcher portrayed in AHS. Neverthelessthe demented character speaks to the worst fears of an era of "witch panic," and the intriguing (though explainable) mystery surrounding the disappearance of the Roanoke settlers.

    552 votes
  • 4
    611 VOTES

    Ethel Darling - 'Freak Show'

    Bates continued her love affair with AHS by playing a more subdued character in Freak Show. The actress showcases her acting chops as Ethel Darling, the bearded woman in Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities. Intensely loyal and maternal, Ethel has a strong constitution and is well-respected among her peers. Even as her health and sanity wane, Ethel stands firmly committed to her community.

    "Ethel has her own quiet strength," Bates says of the character she created. "It’s been a pleasure, it’s been a challenge to try and create a woman who has suffered all of her life... and yet who has maintained her dignity..."

    611 votes
  • 5
    483 VOTES

    Miriam Mead - 'Apocalypse'

    Bates plays a murderer of a different sort as Miriam Mead, a leader of a post-apocalyptic Satanic community. Miriam was a difficult character for her to settle into, however, as the devil worship made her deeply uncomfortable. "...I was quite serious about it," she told Entertainment Weekly, "because I'm a two-time cancer survivor and I'm not gonna screw around with that! [Laughs] It's bad enough I have to say 'Hail Satan' a couple of times. I know it's entertainment but I just didn't want to do it."

    Miriam adopts and serves the literal Anti-Christ, runs the outpost with chaotic cruelty, and - twist - is revealed to be an android. "I learned early on that that’s what she was going to be," she says, "but they also told me that she’s not robotic... I didn’t want her to be stiff and unemotional..."

    483 votes
  • 6
    422 VOTES

    Agnes Mary Winstead - 'Roanoke'

    Agnes Mary Winstead - 'Roanoke'
    Photo: Roanoke/FX

    "You're the Butcher... my idol... my maker... I'm sorry! I just wanted to be on TV!"

    In the twist that had fans freaking out, Roanoke switched to a reality TV format halfway through the season. Even Bates was shocked by the twist. In a meta explosion, Bates plays the Butcher, who is played by Agnes Mary Winstead, who is played by Bates. Certainly a heck of an opportunity to stretch her acting muscles.

    A mentally unstable method actress, Agnes gets so enveloped in her role as The Butcher that she remains in the dark, violent headspace, and eventually turns into a Butcher-style murderess herself. After taking out the crew and much of the cast of "Return to Roanoke" at the ill-fated house, Agnes meets the real Butcher (and, subsequently, a rather nasty end).

    422 votes