Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

30 Best American Horror Story Episodes Ranked

When "American Horror Story" opens to the jaunty tune of "Tonight You Belong to Me," the song may as well be a message to viewers declaring exactly what creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk plan to do to the horror genre as they playfully disrupt, rearrange, and reimagine it.

Like every Falchuk and Murphy project, "AHS" is rarely subtle, splashing the canvas with over-the-top characterizations, camp, wacky plot elements, dark humor, and gore. Everything is on the table as the show delves into slasher films, vampires, body horror, aliens, creepy dolls, and demonic possessions — and that's just the tip of the iceberg. The use of a recurring cast, distinct visual styles for each season, characters and lore that drift across seasons, and the wanton use of anachronisms help give the series its unique appeal and keep fans coming back for more.

To find out which "AHS" episodes are the series' purest examples of b*tchcraft, we pored over reviews from fans and critics on IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, and Metacritic, tossed them in our cauldron, and gave them a stir. Without further ado, here are the top 30 best episodes of this wickedly good series.

30. The End (Season 8, Episode 1)

Literally starting "Apocalypse" off with a bang, "The End" kicked off the much-hyped crossover season that would bring together "Coven" and "Murder House." Layers of blacks, purples, and grays against a moody gold backdrop of stark, modern angles and Victorian-inspired details establish a Burton-esque aesthetic that makes this season one of the most visually grabbing.

In the wake of global nuclear annihilation, a small group of California elites languishes in the ultra-chic bunker Outpost 3 under the cruel watch of Ms. Venable (Sarah Paulson), who represents an enigmatic group known as the Cooperative. The absurd living conditions include a strict, color-coded caste system that makes little sense with a group so small, listening to the same Carpenters song on repeat day after day, and eating a solitary gelatinous cube for each meal.

As the days drone on and on and the cube supply wanes, the sadistic Venable makes a stew of survivor Stu, serving him to his flatmates. In a world where cargopunk tribe-on-tribe struggles dominate most apocalypse series, "The End" instead offers a quietly surreal vision of ennui and existential dread. When the meticulously eyeshadowed Michael Langdon (Cody Fern) arrives on behalf of the Cooperative, Venable's dominion is threatened. Delightfully, the episode ends with "Tonight You Belong to Me," reminding us of another Langdon, teasing the coming return to "Murder House."

29. Cape Fear (Season 10, Episode 1)

"AHS" fans tend to love the show through thick and thin, but "Red Tide" was a series high point. "Cape Fear" draws on another type of existential fear — the fear of inadequacy and nameless, faceless, talentless anonymity — played out over a palette of creamy neutrals and muted blues and grays straight out of our worst Instagram nightmares. The first part of a two-part season premiere, "Cape Fear" establishes the world of "Red Tide," introducing viewers to the Gardner family as they settle into off-season Provincetown in winter, a paler, ghostlier version of the colorful party town that hosts Bear Week each summer.

As network procedural screenwriter Harry (Finn Wittrock) and his family take up residence in an old P-town home, each family member faces their own artistic pressure. Harry has three months to complete a pilot, his heavily pregnant wife Doris (Lily Rabe) is expected to remodel the house, and violin prodigy Alma (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) faces off with Paganini. The simplicity of the episode's pacing, delivery, and visuals add to its tension, drawing parallels to Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" and reminding viewers that a blinking cursor and a blank page can be every bit as terrifying as a flesh-eating Nosferatuesque figure.

28. Pale (Season 10, Episode 2)

"Pale" successfully builds on "Cape Fear," following Harry as he descends deeper and deeper into a frenzy of inspired writing and bloodlust against a crescendo of marital discord and Paganini. While seasons like "Hotel" and "1984" lean into excess, "Pale" shows that even stripped down, "AHS" can be magnificent.

Like Jack Torrance, when faced with the choice between family and his art, Harry chooses a Faustian bargain. Although she doesn't get much screen time in this episode, Sarah Paulson's brief appearance as Tuberculosis Karen is outstanding, adding to the tension and sense of absurdity when Harry encounters her in the grocery store. And as the subtler horror elements build over the episode, it is just as gut-turning and disturbing to watch Harry wring out raw meat with his bare hands to drain and drink the blood as it is to later watch him drain his first human victim.

27. Chapter 9 (Season 6, Episode 9)

The penultimate episode of "Roanoke," "Chapter 9" is one of the bright spots in "AHS" Season 6. Set on the eve of the Blood Moon, this episode follows three Roanoke Nightmare superfan YouTubers who run headlong into the bloodbath already in progress while Lee's reenactor Monet (Angela Bassett) and Audrey (Sarah Paulson) desperately try to escape the house and Lee (Adina Porter). A parody of everything awful about YouTube, they obsess over getting views and get starstruck even as they're running for their lives. 

Like the best parts of this season, "Chapter 9" plays around with the concepts of performance and the relationship between audience and art while unapologetically placing social media culture on the chopping block. Even as the body count climbs and peril mounts for the players, comments like "I wish I had a camera on you for that one" abound, reminding viewers that maybe it's time for a digital break.

26. Monsters Among Us (Season 4, Episode 1)

Set in the serial killer-laden Jupiter, Florida in 1952, "Monsters Among Us" sets up "Freak Show" with a strong start, introducing us to Fräulein Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities through the perspective of conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tattler (Sarah Paulson). In candy-colored hues and an occasional POV split screen, "Monsters" depicts the twins' initiation into the circus world by glamorous and enigmatic Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange).

In a healthy balance of exposition and plot, we meet a whole cast of performers outcast for their various physical differences and disabilities, like Brando-evoking "Lobster Boy" Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters), his mother Bearded Lady Ethel Darling (Kathy Bates), and the lovely Ma Petite (Jyoti Amge). Fans are treated to a familiar face in microcephalic Pepper (Naomi Grossman) years ahead of her stay in "Asylum." Through alternating scenes, the coulrophobic nightmare Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch) is shown racking up a body count. With Lange's glorious rendition of "Life on Mars," "Monsters" kicks off a solid season as well as a controversial discussion of the way disabilities are portrayed on television.

25. Chapter 6 (Season 6, Episode 6)

"Chapter 6" serves as a halfway point for "Roanoke," effectively splitting it into two mini-seasons. While the first half of the season was framed around a docudrama format, this episode continues its critique of reality television and media consumption with a Big Brother-style follow-up series aimed at bringing together the Millers and their actor doppelgängers to the Shaker house over the Blood Moon.

Like most reality shows, the audience knows it's a bad idea, the participants know it's a bad idea, but we all want it anyway. As things start to go gradually awry with freak accidents and dead fetal pigs, it becomes harder to separate performance from authenticity. Agnes Mary Winstead (Kathy Bates), who plays the Butcher, is so lost in the part she's gradually becoming her. Still, the project forges ahead, cheerily setting the wheels in motion for the bloodbath we all know is coming.

24. Episode 100 (Season 9, Episode 6)

This episode serves as a solid pivot point for "1984," setting us up for a new story arc to run out the rest of this short season. In terms of storytelling, this episode does a good job of covering a lot of ground, beginning with the capture of Night Stalker Richard Ramirez by an angry L.A. mob before fast-forwarding to the bloodsoaked ghostly antics of Camp Redwood's victims. 

Highlights of this episode include Mr. Jingles' (John Carroll Lynch) mundane dad life working at a video store and Margaret's power makeover and mansion, a palatial estate ripped straight out of a Bret Easton Ellis story. It seems the Satan-worshipping former camp director (Leslie Grossman) has married Trevor and gone into macabre tourism with holdings that include Briarcliff ("Asylum"). With an imminent Camp Redwood Halloween music festival and the return of Brooke (Emma Roberts), Ramirez (Zach Villa), and Mr. Jingles, it's clear that more murderous mayhem is ahead.

23. Camp Redwood (Season 9, Episode 1)

With solid pacing and a fresh take on the classic genre, it's easy to see why this season starter was well-received. Oozing with loads of fun nostalgia like frosted tips and Jazzercise, "Camp Redwood" follows a group of friends as they escape to Camp Redwood from an L.A. under siege by the Olympics and the Night Stalker. 

While sitting around the campfire, the group learns of the massacre that took place there when Mr. Jingles slaughtered nine victims and cut off their ears as prizes, and that Camp Director Margaret was the sole survivor. As in every good '80s slasher, no one heeds the many warnings they're given, instead investing their energy in immediately breaking all of the camp rules. As Mr. Jingles escapes from the mental institution, apparitions appear, jump scares commence, and the Olympics kick off, it's shaping up to be one helluva summer.

22. Slashdance (Season 9, Episode 3)

Following the solid but slightly less enthusiastic "Mr. Jingles," "Slashdance" comes back stronger with a healthy share of chases, jump scares, plot twists, betrayals, and reversals. Loading an episode with flashbacks can sometimes make the pace feel laggy, but "Slashdance" handily balances past revelations by alternating them with scenes of the counselors, now split into groups on the run from Jingles and Ramirez.

With help from a critically praised performance from John Carroll Lynch, it becomes clear that very few among the group at Camp Redwood are good people and not everyone is who they seem to be. One of the great things about "AHS" is that it's never shy about sacrificing main characters, although the fact that dead doesn't really mean gone in this world probably helps. After a night of good old-fashioned running around in the woods in terror, a decent body count and a nostalgic soundtrack are the icing on the cake.

21. Burn, Witch, Burn (Season 3, Episode 5)

This installment of "Coven" takes viewers all the way back to Halloween 1833 inside the French Quarter mansion of the evil Madame Delphine LaLaurie (played by Kathy Bates). Containing easily the most disturbing storyline of the series, the episode begins with a closer look at Madame LaLaurie's "House of Horrors." Meanwhile, in the present day, the witches of Robichaux's are under siege by Marie Laveau's (played by Angela Bassett) zombie attack as Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) suffers in the hospital, blinded by acid.

With its distressing camera work, darker hues, and themes of maternity and loss, this episode represents "AHS" at its best. As an utterly loaded Fiona burns down her powers reviving a stillborn, LaLaurie mercifully kills her undead daughters, and Misty Day revives Myrtle Snow, we're reminded that no one is beyond the point of redemption, at least in the world of Falchuk and Murphy.

20. Drink the Kool-Aid (Season 7, Episode 9)

"Drink the Kool-Aid" stands out in a generally underrated season thanks in large part to a spectacular performance from Evan Peters that shows his full range. Preaching to his followers, Divine Ruler and aspiring demagogue Kai (Peters) reverently counts down some of the most notorious cult leaders of all time, including Heaven's Gate leader Marshall Applewhite, David Koresh, and Jim Jones. In a brilliant montage, Peters convincingly portrays each of them in turn.

As Kai's cult and political power continues to grow, Ivy (Alison Pill), Ally (Sarah Paulson), and Winter (Billie Lourd) look for a way out. Before they can find one, Kai forces his followers through their own Jim Jones trial run and kidnaps Ivy and Ally's son, upping the stakes for everyone. The final gem in this episode is Ally's reversal moment when she turns on her wife with a bottle of poison wine in a scene that no one saw coming. 

19. 11/9 (Season 7, Episode 4)

Another solid episode from "Cult," "11/9" looks very different after the events of January 6, 2021. This episode kicks off on Election Night 2016, and it's somewhat unnerving to relive the intense drama that took place in the voting booth as voters bargained with themselves, lied to their families and friends about their votes, and coerced others to vote a certain way. "11/9" is an excellent example of how "AHS" manages to hold the mirror up to society while entertaining audiences more than enough to make the pill easier to swallow. 

When Gary (Chaz Bono) holds up his bloody left arm stump and profanely declares "Welcome to Trump's America," it's a perfect metaphor for the absurdity and horror of living in the post-Facebook world. While this episode offers its share of gore, the true terror is knowing how truly dangerous life in a polarized world is turning out to be and how almost anyone can be pushed into cult thinking.

18. Flicker (Season 5, Episode 7)

Like "Cult," "Hotel" is a generally middling season with a few bright spots, but "Flicker" is one of them. Like some of the best "AHS" flashbacks, "Flicker" adds dimension and humanity to an otherwise monstrous story, setting the stage for a redemption arc. Through an extended flashback to Hollywood 1925, the backstory of the Countess (Lady Gaga) is revealed as she falls for Rudolph Valentino (Finn Wittrock) on the set of "The Son of the Sheik" — and later for his wife. In a sultry tango for three and gorgeous flashes in the style of a silent film, viewers witness a heartbreaking love story emerging between the trio.

In the Countess' grief after Valentino's death, she marries hotel owner and violent butcher James March (Evan Peters), living in dark misery until rejoining the couple reborn under an "ancient blood virus." In a beautifully disturbing revelation, March walls the Valentinos into the hotel's inner halls where they would remain until freed in the present. Through it all, there's just something fantastic about watching Gaga play a character who reinvents herself into an ultra-glamorous figure. 

17. The Dead (Season 3, Episode 7)

Complete with zombie sex, jazz music, tattoo remorse, betrayals, and loads of inner turmoil, "The Dead" has a lot to give. This midpoint episode of "Coven" is about trying to manage the world while everything seems beyond control, and it's delightful to watch the Robichaux's witches work with the cards they're dealt. 

As Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) tries desperately to handle a broken, Mary Shelleyan Kyle (or what's left of him), Madison struggles to live with no feeling after her resurrection, a visually impaired Cordelia deals with the cards she's dealt, and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) contemplates her role in the coven. After an undead ménage à trois and several key revelations, the episode ends with a delicious betrayal and Delphine getting a taste of her own medicine. In an episode with its share of delightful moments, the best part is watching LaLaurie buddy up to Queenie, eating fast food in modern clothing and contemplating a hairstyle change. 

16. Chapter 7 (Season 6, Episode 7)

Once more, the in-world camera and the concept of performance are almost their own characters. While the horrors of the Blood Moon gradually begin to bear down on the "Return to Roanoke" cast, most are too wrapped up in their own drama — both real and performative — to realize the very real danger they're in. Even when they know they're in danger, the reality show cast are constantly conscious of the fact that they're being filmed. There's something haunting and too close to home about seeing this episode in a world where news media constantly warn of the latest dangerous TikTok challenge and a person's worst moments could end up going viral.

Kathy Bates' performance as the rapidly unraveling Agnes Mary Winstead is easily the best part of this episode. As it wears on, the revelation that the phone lines have been cut, a heckload of solid jump scares, and an ever-mounting body count rapidly escalate the terror, reminding fans why we love "American Horror Story."

15. Boy Parts (Season 3, Episode 2)

"Boy Parts" is chock full of the wackiness and camp that give "AHS" its own unique brand of horror. Earthy witch Misty Day (Lily Rabe) revives a couple of alligators, who in turn gruesomely chomp away at their own hunters. In a flashback, Queenie uses her human voodoo doll powers to scald a particularly awful fast-food customer.

In between interrogating the newly dug-up Delphine, Fiona nearly melts the brains of two inquisitive police investigators when they come around looking into the bus crash. After 180 years on ice, Delphine's fish-out-of-water status is good for a few laughs, but it's nice to see the beginnings of her redemption arc as she expresses remorse for what happened to her girls and asks Fiona if she can help her die. Meanwhile, Hank and Cordelia engage in some freaky-but-hot dark magic sex. But the most absolutely bonkers moment is easily Madison and Zoe's reanimation of Kyle after reassembling him from random frat boy parts. 

14. The Replacements (Season 3, Episode 3)

The best "AHS" episodes have surprises in store, and "The Replacements" is brimming with them. Through yet another drug-and-drink-addled haze, more of Fiona's backstory is revealed as Fiona slowly begins to realize that her days as Supreme are numbered as her health and vitality fade.

Out in the boondocks, Zoe retrieves Franken-Fratboy from Misty Day, who has been nurturing him with her hippie vibes and the soothing sounds of the White Witch herself. After Zoe unceremoniously dumps Kyle on his mother's porch (played by Mare Winningham), it's revealed that she sexually assaults her traumatized son, who later kills her in a fit of distress before turning back up at the mansion like a bad penny. One of the show's more disturbing scenes, it's another reminder that not all monsters are supernatural ones.

The surprises keep coming when Marie Laveau denies Cordelia access to pochaut medecine, a fertility treatment that costs $50,000 and involves sexy lingerie and goat sacrifice at the new moon. And when Bastien the Minotaur arrives to take his revenge on Delphine, Queenie's attempt to make a love connection ends disastrously.

13. Welcome to Briarcliff (Season 2, Episode 1)

One thing "AHS" does consistently well is offer exposition and character introductions without bulking up the plot, and this episode is a perfect example. With a clever framing device, the series is injected with a healthy dose of exposition as a couple of honeymooners touring America's most haunted places enter Briarcliff. As the amorous pair explore the decayed and heavily vandalized estate, they spout off Wikipedia facts about the locale until an unseen force interrupts their antics, ripping off the groom's arm.

Back in 1964, we're briefly introduced to sweet biracial couple Kit (Evan Peters) and Alma (Britne Oldford), who are promptly abducted by aliens. After Alma goes missing, Kit, believed to be Bloody Face, is imprisoned in the sanatorium. Inside the walls is a whole host of interesting characters, including reporter Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson), innocent Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe), cruel Sister Jude (Jessica Lange), Pepper (who we'll see again in "Freak Show"), murderous Dr. Arden (James Cromwell), nymphomaniac Shelley (Chloe Sevigny), ambitious Monsignor Howard, and sweet Grace (Lizzie Brocheré).

Sadism runs rampant at Briarcliff thanks to Sister Jude's philosophy that "Mental illness is the fashionable explanation for sin." As in "Apocalypse," a single song (The Singing Nun's "Dominique") playing on repeat in the common room establishes a sense of quiet foreboding, promising plenty of deliciously evil fun ahead.

12. Tricks and Treats (Season 2, Episode 2)

After a solid season opener, "Tricks and Treats" follows through on the promise of more wicked Halloween mayhem. From nun fetishist Arden's borderline predatory interactions with Sister Mary Eunice to the outright horror of electroshock conversion therapy, this episode doles out tasty horrors big and small. Zachary Quinto's Dr. Oliver Thredson establishes a dichotomy of faith and science as he advocates to modernize the facility's treatments while facing off against Jude and the monsignor, who believe an exorcism is in order.

The fast-moving plot finds Lana, now imprisoned in the asylum by the vengeful Jude, plotting an escape while forming short-lived alliances with Kit and Grace, whom she quickly betrays. There's also a nice little slice of Jude's backstory through flashbacks and a conversation with a demon. The eerie tone and blurry sense of who should be trusted are part of what gives this episode its polish.

11. I am Anne Frank, Part 2 (Season 2, Episode 5)

This follow-up to "I Am Anne Frank, Part 1" toys with viewers' sense of what is real and what is illusion in all the best ways. And as with most of the greatest "AHS" episodes, just when fans think they've got a fix on who is good and who is evil, they're hit with reversals, twists, and redemption arcs that turn the show's in-world morality on its head.

When a stranger appears claiming that Anne Frank (Franka Potente) is really his wife Charlotte suffering from postpartum psychosis, she's given over to his care without much investigation before getting returned in record time and lobotomized. In between researching Arden's history, Sister Jude forges ahead with the forced sterilization of Grace, who is abducted by aliens before it can happen. On the alien ship, Grace encounters a very not-dead and heavily pregnant Alma, who coaches her through the experimentation.

The horror ramps up as a mutilated Shelley, disposed of by Sister Mary Eunice, appears at an elementary school, frightening children. By the end of the episode, the insanity spirals perfectly with revelations about the true identity of Bloody Face and the truth about Arden's Nazi past.

10. Blood Buffet (Season 10, Episode 4)

"Blood Buffet" is another case study in the show's ability to give answers without killing the story and nimbly work exposition into dialogue. This "Red Tide" flashback goes back to the beginnings of the black pill as the Chemist (Angelica Ross) arrives in Provincetown to set up shop and finds her first dealer in Mickey (Macaulay Culkin). After developing a drug that makes neurons in the occipital lobe fire exponentially faster and more frequently with varying results, she's eager to market it locally. 

Before long, P-town has its first Pale Person and the beginnings of the world's worst MLM. The Chemist recruits Belle (Frances Conroy), a struggling romance novelist with an absolutely awful husband, and one little black pill later, she has a bestseller, a glamorous makeover, and a philandering husband for lunch. And after bonding with and recruiting Austin Sommers aka Patty 'O Furniture (Evan Peters) at a drag show, she's got a new bestie to boot. So many things about this episode make it an example of "AHS" gold: Evan Peters' stellar drag performance to "Magic Man," the revelation that Belle accidentally ate Sommers' one shot at success, the delicious taste of revenge, massive shoulder pads, the juxtaposition of glamour and gore. 

9. Forbidden Fruit (Season 8, Episode 3)

"Forbidden Fruit" generously serves up Halloween treats that include snakes, magic, Satanism, revelations, and identity crises. Ms. Mead grapples with her own nature as a robot, Mallory deals with some serious cognitive dissonance, and Michael seeks guidance from below. A few scenes offer a fantastic glimpse of the wasteland, where cannibalism and radiation sickness are what's for dinner. From this hellscape emerges a new threat in Coco's vengeful ex Brock and a mysterious carriage of picture-perfect apples, which Venable and mead inject with snake venom and serve up at an All Hallow's Eve party.

"Forbidden Fruit" adds an extra layer of Halloween eye candy with vintage trick-or-treating and party details like Coco's Marie Antoinette costume and couture black plague doctor masks. After a dreamy dance sequence to Bread's "Baby I'm-a Want You," things go awry quickly. An utterly wrecked-looking Brock emerges and stabs Coco in the skull moments before Venable's poison apples wipe out the entire outpost in a bloody, vomit-covered coup. When Mead kills Venable and turns out to be Michael's robot mom, the song changes to the Stones "She's a Rainbow," heralding the arrival of Robichaux's witches and an exciting storyline change.

8. The Coat Hanger (Season 2, Episode 9)

In an episode that could have been named "Son of Bloody Face," threats both natural and supernatural are everywhere and no taboo is off limits. And with revelations about the true identity of Blood Face and Jude's stunning reversal, many of the season's storylines really start to pay off.

This episode is also one of the more action-packed in the season and offers many revelations. With Kit's help, Lana coerces a recorded confession from Thredson before telling him she ended her pregnancy with a coat hanger. Dr. Arden and Kit conclude that the aliens are far more powerful and technologically advanced than humans and are most likely experimenting with eugenics. As the action heats up, a newly baptized Leigh attacks the monsignor, Mary Eunice frees Thredson, Lana learns her efforts to abort the pregnancy failed, and Jude breaks the record in the common room.

But the best moment in this gem of an episode comes when Arden and Kit's efforts to bring back the "little green men" work and Pepper and Grace are returned. As a surprisingly articulate Pepper declares "The baby's full-term," the monsignor hangs mournfully crucified on the sanctuary cross.

7. Thirst (Season 10, Episode 3)

Yet another fantastic episode from "Red Tide," "Thirst" features plenty of mounting tension, psychological terror, and gorgeous visuals. Tense, troubling, and downright disturbing moments abound from start to finish, from a blood-covered Alma to Doris' obsession with Lyme disease. As Harry and Alma deal with their black pill secret and shut out Doris, their relationship becomes exponentially more toxic.

Harry tries desperately to set boundaries for Alma and manage their new problem, but the situation is already unraveling beyond his control. In the middle of this mess, his manager Ursula (Leslie Grossman) shows up sniffing around for answers and quality scripts to pile on the pressure. Standout moments include Ryan Kiera Armstrong's exceptional performance as a sociopathic, ravenous child manipulator, Mickey's messy first kill, and Harry's delusion at thinking he can continue to hide his secret from Belle and Austin. But Ursula's nonchalance about destroying the lives of writers to milk them for scripts is one of the episode's best-played subtle horrors. 

6. Smoldering Children (Season 1, Episode 10)

"Smoldering Children" stands out as one of the best episodes in the series for its intensity, pacing, and major revelations. After a brief trip to 1994 to lend insight into Tate's mass murder spree, we're transported back to the present, where the Harmons deal with a blowfly infestation, a truancy problem, and some strange paternity test results.

This episode does a solid job of building tension with Constance under scrutiny for a cold case she is absolutely guilty of as well as a warmer one she isn't. Ben looks into boarding schools for Violet (Taissa Farmiga) and finds it harder to explain away the strange events going on all around him. But it's the massive twist in this episode that makes it one of the most brilliant horror moments of all time.

After Tate's failed attempt to convince Violet to commit suicide together à la Romeo and Juliet, she runs from the house screaming for help. Her confusion and terror as she tries again and again to escape make this one of the most frightening episodes in the series. When Tate reveals that she's been dead since committing suicide in Episode 6, it's both absolutely heartbreaking and twisty enough to make Rod Serling smile in his grave.

5. Birth (Season 1, Episode 11)

"Smoldering Children" is a hard act to follow, but "Birth" manages it by leaning into the show's humanity. As Violet comes to terms with her new life (or the lack thereof), she gets to know the lay of the land, and the house feels awfully crowded these days with Chad (Zachary Quinto) and Patrick (Teddy Sears) plotting to kidnap and kill Violet's new siblings so they stay adorable children forever.

While medium Billie Dean Howard (Sarah Paulson) arrives to help cleanse the house, Violet questions how to deal with her folks, who are reeling from the news that the twins have intrauterine omophagia, a term that doesn't exist in the real world. When Vivien's babies come early, everything epically goes to hell as the house comes alive with spirits, who help deliver the twins in a completely bananas scene. Some clever camerawork amplifies our sense of Vivien's disorientation in a scene that, like so many things in "AHS," shouldn't work but somehow does. And in a final devastating reversal that fans still aren't over, Violet banishes Tate only to be comforted by her newly dead mother. It's enough of a shock to solidify "Birth" as one of the best episodes of the series.

4. Boy Wonder (Season 8, Episode 5)

"Boy Wonder" is a delight to "AHS" fans for many reasons. While the end of Episode 3 brought back the "Coven" witches, this is the first episode that fully brings the worlds together. "Boy Wonder" gives fans more of everything that's awesome, like Billy Porter, "Coven"-style silent film flashback sequences, sketchy demons, boy band infighting, glamorous capes, Stevie Nicks, and Robot Mom murder.

In a surprise from the past, Coco St. Pierre and Mallory are coven witches in the Before Times, and Coco is a Magical Gluten Detector. As a fading Cordelia copes with apocalyptic visions and worries Michael is the next Supreme, the would-be Antichrist, in cahoots with the warlocks, gives the Seven Wonders a spin. And in one of the most rewarding moments of the series, as part of the test he retrieves Misty Day from Hell, where she's been since she failed this same Wonder.

As revelations come to light and final plans are laid, the episode keeps on giving with the return of the White Witch to serenade and heal the witches' souls with "Gypsy." Cordelia speaks for us all when she tells Misty, "I knew you for such a short time, and I've missed you forever." But the episode's best gift comes when Madison is given orders to visit Murder House to learn about Michael.

3. The Name Game (Season 2, Episode 10)

Easily the best episode in "Asylum," "The Name Game" brings all its pieces together in all the best ways. After the stunning revelations at the end of "The Coat Hanger," exactly no one is surprised to see Arden hide them from Kit or Thredson return to Briarcliff with his own office.

Demon Mary Eunice installs a new jukebox in the chain smoking lounge before leaving to rape the monsignor. After actively working on her redemption arc lands her an unholy dose of electroshock at the hands of Mary Eunice, Jude hallucinates a gloriously campy technicolor scene with the entire asylum singing and dancing to "The Name Game." It makes no sense, which is exactly why it's perfect.

As Monsignor Timothy and Mary Eunice face off, Rabe and Fiennes give some of their best performances. When Real Mary Eunice breaks through and the monsignor convinces her to let go long enough to throw her over the railing, we're treated to a beautiful ending with the young nun floating dreamily to her death and to a kiss from Angel Francis Conroy in glorious black wings. In a final surprise, Arden climbs atop Mary Eunice's body as it enters the crematorium, a move nobody saw coming.

2. Gaslight (Season 10, Episode 5)

"Gaslight" could easily be seen as a reimagining of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper." This beautifully anxiety-riddled penultimate episode depicts Doris at a breaking point in the wake of her son's birth while sedated and banished to her bedroom postpartum. After she catches Alma feeding on the baby, father and daughter's relationship is stretched to the brink.

The editing in this commentary on the hysterical woman trope is masterful, with overlapping images of Doris sobbing into her hand while breastfeeding her son, thermoses leaving blood rings on the table, and Alma feverishly playing Paganini. As Ursula gaslights Doris for her own gain while systematically eroding her self-esteem with comments about her weight, talent, and expendability, we're reminded of how often women actively choose to participate in the oppression of other women for their own gain.

The episode does such an excellent job of conveying Doris' distress as she is openly mocked, humiliated, and shuttled back to her bedroom that there's almost a quiet relief when she is goaded by Alma into taking the black pill and becomes a Pale Person. But it's the beautifully tragic end to Mickey and Tuberculosis Karen that solidifies this episode as one of the best in the series.

1. Return to Murder House (Season 8, Episode 6)

It should come as no surprise that Sarah Paulson directed this absolutely perfect episode of "AHS," which follows Behold (Billy Porter) and Madison back to where it all began. It's a blast to reconnect with the spirits of Murder House after all this time and learn how their storylines have progressed, especially when that means getting an infusion of Jessica Lange. Deemed "shameless fan service done right" by Vanity Fair, this episode brings back fan favorites, ties up loose ends, and answers questions fans had for years.

With Madison's help, Moira gets the peace she's been longing for and Tate and Violet reconcile with the revelation that it was the darkness of the house that turned him murderous. This revelation comes as a relief to fans who struggled to reconcile Tate's evil ways with the sweet, chivalrous kid who fell in love with Violet. And despite learning that Michael is the Antichrist and the house sits on a portal to Hell, there's just something ever so satisfying about knowing that no matter how many apocalypses are averted, at least Tate and Violet are hanging out listening to YouTube videos while Constance fusses over the dust on the mantel.