Over the course of five seasons of American Horror Story, one thing has become abundantly clear: Ryan Murphy isn’t content to just scare viewers — no, he wants to put them through the emotional wringer, as well. He accomplishes this by taking beloved (and even some not-so-beloved) characters and putting them through unimaginable physical and psychological torment. As such, we’ve ranked the top 25 most tragic characters in the American Horror universe in time for the premiere of season six. Just be glad it’s them and not us.
25. “Dora” (Patti LaBelle) — Season Four, Freak Show
While Dora was a relatively minor player in the grand scheme of things, having to put up with Dandy Mott’s sh*t for his entire, wretched life only to get her throat slashed… Well, that was probably actually a better outcome than continuing to have to put up with Dandy Mott. Still pretty crappy, though.
24. “Bette and Dot Tattler” (Sarah Paulson) — Season Four, Freak Show
On one hand, Bette and Dot were tragic in that they were considered to be abominations by their mother and hidden away for most of their lives. And for awhile, it seemed like the best possible outcome for them was to be gawked at by patrons at a freak show. On the other hand, they were also cold-blooded killers who never had to face any repercussions for their actions and ended up with a pretty happy ending, all things considered.
23. “Liz Taylor” (Denis O’Hare) — Season Five, Hotel
Okay, so things worked out pretty well for Liz in the end, having reconnected with her son and eventually spending eternity with her one true love. But the fact of the matter is that she had to abandon her family back in Topeka to finally become her true self, and you know that had to have weighed pretty heavily upon her heart.
22. “‘Hypodermic’ Sally McKenna” (Sarah Paulson) — Season Five, Hotel
It’s hard to feel too much sympathy for a junkie who kind of ended up getting what was coming to her, after being responsible for the deaths of other junkies. The root of her addiction, however, was the product of mental illness and abandonment issues, which sabotaged her promising career as a musician. The ’90s were a rough time, man.
21. “Nora Montgomery” (Lily Rabe) — Season One, Murder House