Despite being an anthology series, American Horror Story loves to incorporate the same actors and characters throughout the seasons. Even going back to earlier seasons, however, there have been some great characters that have appeared in one episode each.
While some seasons feature more of these memorable characters than others, and, as is the nature of the show, most of them don’t survive their one-episode stint, it’s clear that American Horror Story is adept at giving fans characters to grow fond of, even if they aren’t seen for long.
Updated on October 25, 2022, by David Caballero:
The newest season of American Horror Story — subtitled NYC — debuted on October 19, featuring a new cast and some familiar faces. Now on its eleventh season, AHS remains an FX staple, even if it isn’t the juggernaut it once was. The anthology series has included some incredible and memorable characters, some appearing for only one episode. However, their impact on their respective seasons was so meaningful that they became some of the most unforgettable characters in the show’s extensive lore.
Serena Belinda – Cult (S7E4)
Emma Roberts is a fan favorite in the AHS franchise. She played the now-iconic Madison Montgomery in Coven and Apocalypse and starred in 1984 and Freak Show. Roberts also made a memorable one-episode appearance in Cult as Serena Belinda, an ambitious reporter who becomes one of the clown cult’s earliest victims.
Serena is overbearing, obnoxious, and cruel. However, she is also highly entertaining, and audiences won’t be able to take their eyes off her. Her death is also shocking, even by AHS standards, making her even more memorable. No one plays a mean girl like Emma Roberts, and her short but unforgettable portrayal of Serena proves it.
Ashley Gilbert – Roanoke (S6E10)
The hilarious Leslie Jordan first appeared on AHS in season 6. Like most other characters, Jordan played two roles: Cricket Marlowe in the show-within-the-show and Ashley Gilbert, the real-life actor portraying Cricket.
Thanks to Jordan’s larger-than-life persona, Ashley is a hilarious and unforgettable character in the otherwise grim and mysterious season. Ashley is funny, loud, and willfully ignorant of the very real danger he is in by going back to the Roanoke house. He dies a gruesome death because this is AHS, but his brief moments on screen are among the best parts of the season.
Millie – Coven (S3E6)
Grace Gummer played a significant role in Freak Show, but her first appearance in the AHS series was in Coven. The actress played Millie, a young student at Miss Robicheaux Academy who ends the Axeman’s reign of terror in New Orleans, along with her witch sisters.
Millie’s intervention is brief but significant. She is strong and determined, willing to face the Axeman and kill him to prevent him from hurting more people. Millie has only a few lines, but they are enough to cement her as one of the best witches in American Horror Story: Coven.
Pastor Charles – Cult (S7E8)
The AHS series has featured many memorable guest stars, including a few famous musicians. However, few expected to see ’80s icon Rick Springfield in Cult, playing an ultra-conservative pastor.
Charles is among the vilest characters in Cult, and that’s saying something, considering the season featured some truly despicable figures. Charles is a fanatic who punishes those he deems “sinners.” He plays a crucial role in Kai’s descent into madness and cruelty, and his actions and death would directly influence Kai’s way of thinking, effectively pushing him down a murderous path. Springfield does the character justice, playing the pastor as the pinnacle of creepiness.
Andy – Freak Show (S4E5)
Andy might not be one of the smartest characters in American Horror Story: Freak Show, but he is certainly one of the most memorable. Played by Matt Bomer, who also appeared as a lead in Hotel, Andy is a prostitute who works at the High Noon Bar. Dandy, already influenced by Twisty the Clown, kills him after luring him to the magic bus.
Although his intervention is brief, Andy greatly impacts the story. He is the object of Del Toledo’s affections, although he rejects the strongman. Andy is also one of Dandy’s first victims, and his murder helps Dandy realize how much he loves killing.
Pandora – Asylum (S2E11)
Pandora is the sex worker hired by Johnny Morgan, a.k.a. Bloodyface, to breastfeed him. She was a beautiful, empathetic woman who was good at making men feel loved by her.
While Pandora’s impact on the show is to give depth to Johnny’s character, she stands out in how she treats him. As a mother herself, Pandora toed the line between acting like a mother and acting like a lover. She called Johnny “baby” the whole encounter, even as he choked her. Tragically, she was murdered by Johnny at the end of their meeting, and she was not mentioned much in later episodes, but her one-off appearance was memorable enough to cement her as one of the bravest characters in American Horror Story: Asylum.
Jed Potter – Asylum (S2E2)
Jed Potter was the unfortunate seventeen-year-old boy who went into Briarcliff Asylum after having been possessed by a demon.
Described as a “good boy” by his mother, Jed seemed soft; in calling for his mother, he showed fans that he was a mama’s boy. It can be guessed from his actions that some of Jed remained in his body once the demon had taken hold. Jed then passed away from cardiac arrest, and the demon left his body. His impact was to be a catalyst for the demon to enter the body of Sister Mary Eunice, and he is barely mentioned again.
Flora Harris – Roanoke (S6E10)
Flora Harris is the daughter of Lee Harris in Roanoke. While Flora Harris appears throughout the season, most of her appearances are in the Hollywood-ized version of My Roanoke Nightmare; the real Flora doesn’t appear until episode 10. And while several Roanoke characters are better in the re-enactment, Flora isn’t one of them.
The girl testifies against Lee, proving herself as headstrong, sweet, and determined in the face of gaslighting. Flora is selfless and brave, willing to die to protect others. She is compelling as a one-episode character because viewers have seen her story throughout the season, but this is the first time they see it through her own eyes. Plus, she actually survives.
Bianca Forest – Murder House (S1E2)
Bianca Forest was an airy woman who posed as Ben Harmon’s patient while casing out the Murder House to reenact famous, gruesome killings. With nightmares about getting chopped in half by an elevator, she seems to feel something is missing in her life. Perhaps that is why she felt the need to kill.
While an attempted murderer, Bianca is still likable because of how she acts. She appears chilled-out, even under extreme circumstances, and is comedic. Bianca is flowy and hungry, and her vibe is very hippy. She later dies by getting chopped in half, and she is barely mentioned after her episode. Her impact was to create parallels between the current owners of the house and the people who have died there in the past.
Derrick – Murder House (S1E6)
Viewers will remember Derrick as the patient of Ben Harmon’s who was terrified of everything, particularly the Piggy Man. While he is often remembered as scared of everything, Derrick is only afraid of urban legends. He comes across as a polite, pure character, and the viewers have a lot of sympathy for his plight.
Deciding to face his fears by summoning the infamous Piggy Man, Derrick cements himself as one of the bravest characters in American Horror Story: Murder House. Sadly, he is killed by robbers and is not mentioned afterward. Derrick’s impact was to give the viewers a sense of Ben Harmon’s therapy and the ineffectiveness of it in this horrifying universe where ghosts and killers lurk behind every door.
Joe Eskandarian – Murder House (S1E7)
Joe Eskandarian was the rich real estate developer who wanted to buy the Murder House, bulldoze it, and turn it into units. While he was a terrible person, he’s a fun character to watch onscreen.
He takes advantage of people, uses women for his own pleasure, and is very sexist. His impact on the show is to stir the pot and give more depth to Moira, whom he manipulates. He gets his comeuppance, as he is killed by Moira and Larry and is mentioned a couple of times in later episodes – which is deeply satisfying, given how awful he is.
Crystal Decanter – Double Feature: Red Tide (S10E4)
Played by the beautiful RuPaul’s Drag Race star Eureka O’Hara, Crystal Decanter is an arrogant diva of a drag queen who makes fun of other drag queens at a club.
Crystal Decanter “ooze[s] elegance and shine.” She is an equal-opportunity bully and relishes putting people she looks down upon in their place. She thinks a lot of herself for a queen performing in a tourist town during the off-season, considering herself a diamond among stones. Crystal’s impact is to provide backstory to Austin Sommers; she is later killed by one of the Pale Creatures.
Sophie Green – Roanoke (S6E9)
Sophie Green, played by Taissa Farmiga, is played by a major recurring actor in the show. She is a mega-fan of the in-canon television show, My Roanoke Nightmare, and runs a fan site called Army of Roanoke.
Sophie is someone who likes discussing societal issues in My Roanoke Nightmare, proving that she is intelligent and cares about the world around her. Sophie is one of the bravest characters in American Horror Story: Roanoke, willing to put herself in danger to save others. Her impact is to show the point of view of the outside world of the television show. Unfortunately, the Lost Colony burns her to death, and she is not mentioned after her appearance.
Jenny Reynolds – Asylum (S2E6)
Jenny Reynolds is the little girl who goes to Briarcliff Asylum after her friend Josie is found dead. She speaks in a deadpan voice, giving off a disconcerting air. Jenny is a Certified Creepy Little Girl, and what’s a horror show without one of those?
This creepy girl ranks as one of the smartest characters in American Horror Story: Asylum; she is sharp, intrigued by darkness and the concept of evil, and takes amusement in suffering. Her purpose on the show is to provide further insight into the demon-possessed Mary Eunice. Like Flora, Jenny survives her episode and is taken away from Briarcliff at the end; she is not mentioned later.
Valerie Solanas – Cult (S7E7)
Valerie Solanas is based on an actual historical figure. In the show, as in real life, Valerie was a radical feminist who wrote the SCUM Manifesto and attempted to assassinate Andy Warhol.
Valerie’s backstory is a tragic compilation of sexual assault and closed doors. At face value, she might seem like an unhinged radical, but like any good character, Valerie Solanas has a lot of nuances. The oppression she faced from being a lesbian surely played a part in her worldview, and she is shown to be an ambitious, dedicated worker for her controversial cause. While she ended up dying alone in her apartment, her story was passed down by the people who believed in her, and this is her impact on the show, being an inspiring figure to some characters in later episodes.