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Actors Who Have Appeared In The Most AHS Seasons

Ryan Murphy is known for repeatedly working with certain actors across his many different series. This trait is never more evident than it is on "American Horror Story," where co-creator Murphy not only features actors he's worked with on other programs, he writes new parts for them in season after season of the celebrated anthology series as well.

Curious about which actors have appeared on the most seasons of "American Horror Story," we decided to compile a list. As it turns out, there are so many recurring actors on this sinister show, we had to leave out everyone without at least five seasons to their name. This means some of the actors most closely associated with "American Horror Story" missed the cut, including Billie Lourd, Leslie Grossman, Taissa Farmiga, Dylan McDermott, and Cheyenne Jackson, all of whom appear in four seasons of the show. "Wow," you might be thinking, "without names like that, how can there possibly be enough left over for a list?" In fact, that cut-off still leaves us with a whopping 12 performers. These are the actors who have appeared on the most seasons of "American Horror Story," ranked from the most prolific to the least.

1. Evan Peters

Evan Peters has appeared as a main cast member on nine seasons of "American Horror Story," only skipping out on "1984." He also has a habit of playing more than one character per season: "Cult" sees him play seven characters, while "Apocalypse" includes four. Peters gives his heart and soul to every one of these roles — in fact, he was so impacted by his part in "Cult," he sat out the next season of the show. "Evan is CRIMINALLY underrated in this role. He really suffered while making it, it took him I don't know ... two years to recover?," Murphy told Entertainment Weekly. "Evan and I and Emma and Sarah and Holland Taylor had Thanksgiving together that year right after filming, and I remember Sarah and I kept feeding Evan food, trying to nourish him and make him feel better. He was still feeling it, the darkness, while we were making 'Pose' season one, it got under his skin in a really hard long way."

Murphy has cast Peters in other projects outside of "American Horror Story" as well, including "Pose" and "Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story," in which Peters plays the notorious murderer. The actor clearly understands the massive role Murphy has played in his career: When he won a Primetime Emmy Award for his outstanding work in the HBO miniseries "Mare of Easttown," Peters thanked "Mr. Murphy" in his speech (via Deadline).

2. Sarah Paulson

Sarah Paulson has appeared on nine seasons of "American Horror Story," though she's only a main cast member in eight of them. She does not appear in "1984," and plays medium Billie Dean Howard in "Murder House," "Hotel," and "Apocalypse." Paulson has a tendency to play many characters per season, a trend that starts in "Hotel" and continues through every successive season (minus "1984"). Paulson has been rewarded for her work on "American Horror Story" with five Primetime Emmy Award nominations and three Critics Choice Television Awards, among other accolades.

Murphy has cast Paulson in many of his other projects, including "Ratched," "Feud: Bette and Joan," and multiple seasons of "American Crime Story." The two met back in 2004 when he cast her in an episode of "Nip/Tuck" (via Elle). Murphy actually wanted to cast Paulson in "Glee" as Emma (a role that eventually went to Jayma Mays), but prior commitments got in the way. Their bond is immensely strong: "I feel like, you know what? I don't know why I got this opportunity. I don't know why I was gifted with this person," Murphy told Elle Magazine, regarding Paulson. "But I know we're on the highway, and we're not getting off until there's a crash."

3. Lily Rabe

Lily Rabe has appeared on nine seasons of "American Horror Story." She ranks third on our list because only four of those roles are main ones, though they're each impressive in their own fashion. "In a way, because of the structure of the show and each season we are telling a new story, it feels so new every year," she told StyleCaster. "It's like repertory theatre where you're with this family of the crew and the actors and we're telling this new story ... It always feels so new and so exciting."

Rabe's roles can get incredibly dark, even for such an intense show. But she's actually comfortable with the fear such parts invoke in her. "You have to fall in love with that part of [acting] or walk alongside of it or integrate it in some way, because it is so constant and part of why we're doing it," Rabe told Harper's Bazaar when discussing the role of Doris in "American Horror Story: Double Feature." "You don't go in the direction of what feels comfortable. You go towards the thing that feels scary." This attitude has clearly paid off: Rabe has been nominated for a Critics Choice Television Award for her work in "Asylum," in which she stars as naïve nun Sister Mary Eunice. She reprises this role in a one-off episode of "Freak Show".

4. Frances Conroy

Frances Conroy first garnered widespread acclaim as Ruth Fisher on "Six Feet Under," a drama centered around a family-run funeral home. Who could have guessed her career would go on to include even more dead bodies? Conroy has appeared on eight seasons of "American Horror Story." Surprisingly, she's only been a main cast member in three of those seasons: "Coven," "Freak Show," and "Double Feature." Despite this somewhat smaller presence, her work on the show has earned her two Primetime Emmy Award nominations.

Conroy's first brush with the Murphy-verse came when she appeared on an episode of "Nip/Tuck" back in 2010. Though she's since become a fixture of his work, the actress isn't as into horror as the rest of us. "I haven't seen some of the episodes [of "American Horror Story"] because I was so freaked out reading some of them that I couldn't bear the thought of seeing them on TV," she told The Hollywood Reporter. It even took a while for the show's sinister vibes to wear off: "It did get under my skin, and it did take a little while to let it go. Between the fact that you get physically and mentally tired, the emotional stuff stays with you, and you can't help that."

5. Denis O'Hare

Denis O'Hare has appeared on six seasons of "American Horror Story." He plays a main character in all of them, with the exception of "Double Feature." While O'Hare has been acting professionally for decades, earning acclaim pretty much everywhere he goes, it is his work on "American Horror Story" that made him a household name. Said work has even earned him two nominations for a Primetime Emmy Award.  

Following "American Horror Story" Season 6, "Roanoke," O'Hare was not featured on the anthology series until Season 10, "Double Feature." He acknowledged this gap in an interview with Digital Spy: "I think [Murphy] gets inspired by certain people, and runs with them for a while, and then I think his attention turns to somebody else, for whatever reason. So I was available, but I was suddenly not in the orbit anymore." O'Hare doesn't have any hard feelings towards the show or Murphy himself, however, and is clearly excited to be back in the fold. "I love working on 'American Horror Story,'" he declared. "I also love working on the other things I've gotten to do. And I'm excited to be back. I guess the lesson is: Who knows how long I'm back for? I don't know if this will turn into something else. It doesn't matter."

6. Kathy Bates

While wider Hollywood might spurn actresses over 40, no matter how talented they are, Murphy loves putting them at the center of his work. So, when he first cast Kathy Bates on Season 3 of "American Horror Story," it fit his M.O. All told, Bates has starred on five seasons of the show: "Coven, "Freak Show," "Hotel," "Roanoke," and "Apocalypse." Bates has been nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards for this work, winning once for playing Delphine LaLaurie in "Coven." She was also nominated for a Golden Globe for her part in "Freak Show," and two Critics Choice Television Awards for "Coven" and "Hotel."

As Bates told Entertainment Tonight in 2014, Ryan Murphy has played a very special role in her life, following a cancer diagnosis and the 2012 cancelation of her show, "Harry's Law."  "Life is good now, and that's due in no small part to him," she remarked. "I don't know where he gets these amazing characters in his head, but I feel so lucky to have played two now. I'm so proud of all of us. I think this year has a very exciting ensemble, and it's been fun to go to work and be with lots of different people every day. I just feel blessed." Since this interview went live, Bates has appeared in plenty more seasons of the scary series, as well as five episodes of Murphy's acclaimed miniseries, "Feud: Bette and Joan."

7. Jessica Lange

Jessica Lange is at the center of Seasons 1 through 4 of "American Horror Story," giving one powerhouse performance after another. Since then, she has only returned once, as a guest star in "Apocalypse." She has, however, appeared on other Murphy shows, including a starring role on 2017's "Feud: Bette and Joan," and a main role on 2019's "The Politician."

Murphy has nothing but praise for Lange, who he has adored since he was a boy. "It was such a privilege working with her," he told Entertainment Weekly in 2019, "I spent hours with her in her trailer on her look, movement, that hairstyle. We loved talking to each other, the creation of that, and we still do almost 10 years later. By the end of the first day she said something to me like, 'This is insane, but I trust you.' She kissed my cheek and we were off."

As a two-time Oscar winner, Lange has long been a critical darling. Her work on "American Horror Story" has earned her even more accolades: She's been nominated for five Primetime Emmy Awards (winning twice), four Golden Globe Awards (winning once), four Critics Choice Television Awards (winning once), and three Screen Actors Guild awards (winning once).

8. Emma Roberts

Emma Roberts has appeared on five seasons of "American Horror Story." She portrays a main character in "Coven," "Freak Show," "Apocalypse," and "1984," and a recurring one in "Cult." Like so many stars of the series, Roberts has portrayed a huge range of figures during her time on "American Horror Story" — pure-hearted young women, cold-blooded actresses, and complex con artists are all part of her repertoire.

In a 2018 interview with Collider, Roberts reflected on the "extremes" of the series. "It's so fun! Sometimes Sarah [Paulson] and I just start laughing and get laugh attacks because we are struck by the absurdity of what we have to do, in that moment," the actress remarked. "There was a time where I was FaceTime-ing my friends, and I forgot that I was covered in blood, and they were like, 'Oh, my god! What happened?' And I was like, 'Oh, sorry, this is the new normal for me. I didn't realize you needed a heads up that I literally had blood all over my face. I'm just working.'" In addition to "American Horror Story," Roberts also stars on Murphy's satirical series, "Scream Queens." There, she plays Chanel, a sorority queen not unlike Madison Montgomery.

9. Angela Bassett

Angela Bassett currently stars as Athena Grant-Nash on Fox's "9-1-1," which Murphy created alongside frequent collaborators Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear. But before that role, she was an "American Horror Story" staple, appearing on five seasons total. Bassett started with a recurring (but extremely memorable) role on "Coven," then spent the subsequent three seasons ("Freak Show," "Hotel," and "Roanoke") as a main cast member. She also appeared as a guest star on "Apocalypse." Bassett is such a big fan of working with Murphy that she signed on to "9-1-1" before there was even a script (per The Hollywood Reporter).

Bassett's work on "American Horror Story" is phenomenal, particularly in her earliest two seasons. These performances have been recognized with two Primetime Emmy Award nominations. "What I saw [in "American Horror Story"], in addition to the horror, was that the writing was so wonderful and the characters were so realized," Bassett told Collider in 2014. "It wasn't just fright night, so I could appreciate that." She herself is not a major fan of the horror genre, but she knew a fantastic opportunity when she saw it.

10. Finn Wittrock

Finn Wittrock is one of Murphy's most frequent collaborators. He has appeared in memorable roles in "The Normal Heart," "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story," and "Ratched." And then there's "American Horror Story," in which Wittrock has played a number of key roles. Wittrock can be found on five of the 10 seasons, including leading roles in "Freak Show" and "Double Feature." He also appeared in "Hotel," "Roanoke," and "1984," in a guest or recurring capacity. "I wish other people could hear the pitch that [Murphy] makes to the actors," Wittrock told Collider in 2020. "It's the reason that he gets all of these amazing actors to do his stuff. He's so good at selling you on a part, it's incredible."

In that same interview, Wittrock discussed how working with Murphy has impacted his career. Crucially, Murphy offered him the part of killer clown Dandy Mott on "Freak Show" while they were working together on "The Normal Heart." "He saw something in me that I didn't quite know was there," Wittrock remarked. "From that point on, it was just this domino effect of one thing and then another. I can't believe all of this time has passed by and we've created this whole working relationship. I'm just very, very blessed."

11. Adina Porter

Though Adina Porter has only starred as a main character on two seasons of "American Horror Story" — Dinah Stevens in "Apocalypse" and Chief Burleson in "Double Feature" — she has appeared on a total of five seasons. "I am beyond grateful to be part of the 'American Horror Story' ensemble. I auditioned for the job the first year, and then I auditioned again for Season 5," she explained in a 2021 interview with Decider. "I was told they checked my work that I did in the first season before they offered me the role after the audition for Season 5. So I'm just glad that I am still doing good enough work to be included in this cast of amazing actors who transform themselves every year."

Porter received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination and a Saturn Award nomination for her performance as Beverly on "Cult." It's no surprise, then, that she cites this character as her favorite "American Horror Story" role so far. "If I die tomorrow, it'd be like 'Proud of two beautiful children and Beverly motherf***ing Hope' on my tombstone," she told Decider. Luckily for her and "AHS" fans, things keep getting better: As she told The New York Post in 2021, she "fell in love with" the role of Chief Burleson in "Double Feature" before even knowing it was the part she'd been assigned.

12. Jamie Brewer

Jamie Brewer has appeared on five seasons of "American Horror Story." She is the only person on this list who has never appeared as a main character in any season: Brewer enjoyed recurring roles on "Murder House," "Coven," "Freak Show," "Cult," and "Apocalypse." While she hasn't been on the show since "Apocalypse," many fans hope she'll eventually return and finally claim a main part for herself.

Since her first appearance on "American Horror Story" in 2011, Brewer has snagged many small roles in film and television. Off-screen, she played Amy in the off-Broadway play "Amy and the Orphans," for which she earned a Drama Desk Award for Featured Actress in a Play (via Yahoo!). As an actor and model with Down syndrome, Brewer is proud of the barriers she has broken. "Having [actors with a disability] brings diversity to the projects of directors and writers. It's bringing even more diversity into their work," Brewer told Enable Magazine in 2020. "Giving actors with a disability the chance to show who they are and what they can do means being accepting and allowing growth."