Please upgrade your browser for the best Refinery29 experience. Read more.

Saved! Access Favorites in your account profile. Removed from my favorites

American Horror Club: A Guide To Ryan Murphy's Worst (Best) Villains

  1. Begin
    murphy_villian_opener_elliot_salazar

    SHARE IT

    comments
    See All Slides

    With new series Scream Queens starting this week and American Horror Story: Hotel coming in October, we are super excited to meet a new round of gloriously messed up characters whom we will simultaneously root for, identify with, despise, and fear. Are we going to hate Emma Roberts' sorority queen as much as we want her to survive her school's serial killer? Will we wish we could be one of Lady Gaga's creepy vampire children? We've got goose bumps just thinking about it. Only a show created by Ryan Murphy can make us so confused about our feelings like this.

    Since his first short-lived series Popular, Murphy has been crafting villains that leap off the screen and steal scenes away from much nicer protagonists. Just watch the scenes with Tammy Lynn Michaels' vibrant Nicole Julian and you will see strains of Sue Sylvester and Santana Lopez. Nip/Tuck's serial killers could make our skin crawl almost as much as the sleaze factor of the show's "good" doctors — and there's a clear line from them straight to the many murderers of AHS. And as much as Murphy's protagonists have been flawed people who sometimes deserve a good scare from these evildoers, the villains also have their own redeeming qualities. Even if that's just to make us shake our fists in rage or scare us silly. Warning: SPOILERS ABOUND.


    Begin Slideshow
  2. <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/BP_jzp7DFkk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    SHARE IT

    0 Comments
    See All Slides
    0 of 16

    Nicole Julian (Tammy Lynn Michaels)
    Popular (1999-2001)

    With her wild sense of fashion, sociopathic willingness to kidnap, steal, blackmail — and run over people with her car, oh and her devotion to Gwyneth Paltrow — Nicole Julian was basically the prototype for all Ryan Murphy villains who came after. She was terrifying and so utterly campy that we couldn't stop watching her.

  3. <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/tcDFxiD0wU8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    SHARE IT

    0 Comments
    See All Slides
    1 of 16

    The Carver/Quentin Costa (Bruno Campos)
    Nip/Tuck (2003-2010)

    The tricky thing about this FX series, based on a couple of Miami plastic surgeon best frenemies, is that everyone is ultimately so despicable that it's difficult to decide who is a "villain." Okay, it's not difficult to name a serial rapist who slashes his victims' faces as a bad guy. Another signature Murphy villain trait appears here: A severely dark childhood, namely being the product of incest that caused him to be born without a penis and his sister to be born with facial disfigurement. Ugly stuff all around.

  4. <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/zlqdqO7HYZY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    SHARE IT

    0 Comments
    See All Slides
    2 of 16

    Ava Moore (Famke Janssen)
    Nip/Tuck (2003-2010)

    There's a lot that is problematic about this character. She starts off just being a creepy lady who, likes having sex with teenage boys, namely, Sean's (Dylan Walsh) son Matt (John Hensley). Then she blackmails Christian (Julian McMahon) into not running her out of town by threatening to reveal that he's Matt's real father. And all the while she has an incestuous relationship with her own teenage son, Adrian (Seth Gabel). What's most messed up here is that all of this is somehow explained by the fact that she turns out to be a transsexual woman who hasn't completed her sexual reassignment. Thankfully, Murphy's treatment of trans characters has evolved since then.

  5. <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/RsocIUsZLEU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    SHARE IT

    0 Comments
    See All Slides
    3 of 16

    Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch)
    Glee (2009-2015)

    We suggest rigorously studying this compilation of Sue clips if ever you feel that your arguments lack piercing, soul-crushing zingers. As the cheerleading coach points out to Mr. Schue (Matthew Morrison), she's not just mean to kids, she's mean to everyone. Although her quest to destroy the Glee club is cartoonishly evil, the times when she reveals her soft spots (for her sister with Down Syndrome, for instance) give the show more heart than any Kurt storyline ever managed to do. But yeah, we like her better when she's hurling insults and plotting to take over, if not the world, at least her corner of Lima, Ohio.

  6. <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/SuEYW3KGiu8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    SHARE IT

    0 Comments
    See All Slides
    4 of 16

    Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera)
    Glee (2009-2015)

    You can also substitute Quinn (Dianna Agron), Puck (Mark Salling), Karofsky (Max Adler), or Kitty (Becca Tobin) here. Simply because, like Santana, these are all kids who start off as popular high school bullies but are really just acting out because they don't think people will accept their true selves. They're also jealous of the kids who are totally okay with letting their freak flags fly. For Santana, it's the fact that she's gay. As stereotypical as these characters may seem, you can probably name at least two people you went to high school with who acted exactly like them.