Ranking the ‘American Horror Story’ Seasons So Far — Which Are the Scariest?

American Horror Story Season 10 Teaser
FX

Few series have had as long-lasting and as varied a run as FX’s American Horror Story. Across nine seasons (and renewed through its 13th!), we’ve been everywhere from a haunted murder house to a creepy hotel to the Roanoke colony, with plenty of memorable scares along the way. The anthology show has crossed over so many genres and subgenres of horror that there’s something for everyone, which may be its biggest strength.

The 10th season, set to premiere in August, is titled Double Feature, and while little is known about its premise, we do know it will have twice the story of a normal season and take place across land and sea. And with the spinoff American Horror Stories (featuring a different storyline each episode) now dropping weekly on FX on Hulu, fans have a lot to look forward to in the coming months.

'American Horror Story's Going for the 'Double Feature' in Season 10 (VIDEO)See Also

'American Horror Story's Going for the 'Double Feature' in Season 10 (VIDEO)

Creator Ryan Murphy unveiled the title for FX's latest chapter of the hit horror anthology.

But across nine seasons of AHS, which are the scariest and which ones missed the mark? Below, we took on the difficult task of ranking them by fear factor as well as the overall quality of each season’s vastly different storyline.

American Horror Stories, Thursdays, FX on Hulu

American Horror Story: Double Feature, Season 10 Premiere, August 25, 10/9c, FX

American Horror Story Hotel Season 1 Episode 2
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9. Hotel

The most stylish season is also typically thought of as its worst one. Hotel had a lot of potential when its premise was introduced. A creepy hotel in Hollywood? Lady Gaga in her first big acting role? Serial killers and vampires? It seemed like it had all the makings of a great season. But while Gaga’s performance as The Countess was great and the aesthetic of the season was striking, the rest of the season was all over the place. It felt like a weird mashup of an erotic thriller and serial killer horror that never really stuck the landing or gave us any lasting scares. Also, being the first season without the iconic Jessica Lange definitely didn’t help.

American Horror Story Coven Season 3 Episode 1
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8. Coven

This is perhaps the most polarizing season of the entire show. Those who love it bring up the fantastic premise of a Hogwarts-like school for young witches and its female-centric storyline. It even features Fleetwood Mac singer and musical legend Stevie Nicks playing herself. But outside of this season’s opening sequence (in black and white with hooded, faceless figures doing cult rituals, which may be the creepiest ever), it’s not really a “horror” story at all, with the focus turning to training to be a witch and learning magic. It marked a huge departure from the overwhelming dread of the first two seasons and while that’s not a bad thing in itself, it left a lot to be desired.

American Horror Story Cult Season 7 Episode 1
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7. Cult

Cult was when AHS decided to go political. And as expected, it had some very mixed results. Released in 2017 following Donald Trump winning the presidential election, Cult made the analogy of Trump’s base with an actual cult in the show. It featured series mainstay Evan Peters turning into a cult leader who emulates basically every famous cult leader. It was a weird season, and a lot of it didn’t quite hit the mark. Still, the showrunners deserve props for the creativity behind this season. And those creepy clowns.

American Horror Story Apocalypse Season 1 Episode 1 Nuke
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6. Apocalypse

The All Stars season of AHS looked back to some of the more popular seasons to create what was basically a season long crossover between Murder House, Coven and others. And it kind of worked. Initially beginning with the premise of a nuclear apocalypse leaving few people alive, soon the survivors are joined by the witches of Coven and a return to the Murder House itself ensues. It’s a lot, and some of it genuinely works. There are some real scares even, from the return of Rubber Man to the mass murder with poisoned fruits. Unfortunately, the season is so cluttered and tonally confused that no storyline really got a chance to shine and it never truly reached its potential. Still, seeing old characters interact was definitely worthwhile.

American Horror Story Freak Show Season 4 Episode 1
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5. Freak Show

The peak of the series in terms of ratings, Freak Show took a turn towards body horror. More surprisingly, it also had a focus on heartwarming characters and emotional moments as it followed a travelling “freak show” in the 1950s. This season had great style like Hotel, but unlike Hotel, it also had a great storyline that had fans invested. A special mention goes out to Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch) who was insanely terrifying for how little screen time he had in the season.

American Horror Story Season 6 Episode 1
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4. Roanoke

This was AHS at its most meta and in some ways most daring. Roanoke follows a couple living in a haunted house, who then become involved with a show-within-a-show documentary retelling of the haunting that also deals with the historical disappearance of the Roanoke Colony in the 1500s. It’s very twisty, very layered, and often very spooky (such as the Piggy Man’s murders). Roanoke felt like the shot-in-the-arm the series needed after Hotel.

American Horror Story 1984 Season 1 Episode 1
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3. 1984

The most recent season is definitely a return to form. 1984 went back to basics, focusing on the classic slasher trope of a serial killer at a summer camp à la Friday the 13th. Emma Roberts plays a girl who escaped a serial killer, only to have to face more trauma as a killer emerges at the summer camp where she’s a counselor. This season is AHS at its best, blending the style and camp of the ‘80s with some actually chilling moments. It feels like a love letter to the genre itself, and a reminder that AHS can still hit high points almost a decade later.

American Horror Story Murder House Season 1 Episode 1
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2. Murder House

The one that started it all, Murder House is often looked back fondly as the series’ high point in scares — and for good reason. From the disturbing Rubber Man to ghosts to the literal Antichrist, Murder House was much more than a typical haunted house story. It was a breath of fresh air with a new style and approach to horror that TV had been lacking. Plus, it was just plain entertaining. While it definitely hadn’t solidified its voice or identity as a series yet, Murder House remains one of the high points of American Horror Story.

American Horror Story Asylum Season 2 Episode 1
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1. Asylum

The absolute best season in terms of scares and, for many, in terms of everything else, too. It follows a couple in the present day hoping to renovate an old mental hospital while also flashing back to the ‘60s when it was still open. Horrible things — like human experimentation and a serial killer dressed as Santa Claus — ensue. Asylum introduced the anthology format and showed how familiar faces could turn into someone else completely. It has what is possibly Lange’s best performance as Sister Jude. And it’s just plain terrifying, using its setting to great effect. Years later, Asylum remains the cream of the crop for the series and it’s hard to imagine anything topping it.