Posted by Tom Chapman @tchapman
tweet: tomtomchap Warden of the North - bearded, tattooed and square eyed 'til the end
Tom Chapman

Grab your pillows - it is that time again, as we head down into the dark depths of Ryan Murhpy's psyche for the sixth season of American Horror Story. Leaving behind murder houses, witches, and TripAdvisor's worst nightmare of hotel hell, it is time to revisit FX's Horror Anthology. As we enter Season 6, and a new 'Gaga era' of the show, some still pine for Jessica Lange and the magic she brought to the show's first four seasons. She may have reigned Queen Supreme, but with Lange's time on the show seemingly at an end, let's look at the other shining stars of Ryan Murphy's cavalcade of thrilling thespians. Here are American Horror Story's eight (other) greatest actors.

*Sorry, Lady Gaga does not appear!

8. Denis O'Hare

Image: FX
Image: FX

Appeared in: S1, S3, S4, S5

Starring Role: Liz Taylor - Hotel

Missing out on only the second season of the show, Denis O'Hare is one of American Horror Story's longest-serving castmembers. As one of the few people who actually wasn't already dead, O'Hare made his presence known as creepy blackmailer Larry Harvey in AHS's premiere season. After a brief break he returned as the creepy Riff Raff-esque butler in Coven. It was a case of 'cat got your tongue', with O'Hare playing mute Spalding. However, it was as transgender Liz Taylor that O'Hare stole the show - outperforming even Lady Gaga on the diva level of awesomeness, the 54-year-old can certainly show the younger actors how to do it in style.

7. Evan Peters

Image: FX
Image: FX

Appeared in: S1, S2, S3 , S4, S5

Starring Role: Tate Langdon - Murder House

Whilst the women dominate each season of Horror Story, it really wouldn't be the same without Evan Peters's name crawling across our title-screen. Flipping between good and bad characters, Peters has played a psychotic teen, an asylum patient, Frankenstein's monster, and a murderous hotellier. His performance as the slick and sickly James Patrick March would normally win, but we have to go back to the start for a true taste of Peters. The tale of Tate Langdon was all too close to the school shootings of recent times, and the iconic image of the skull-face tattoo has become synonymous with American Horror Story! Many ask where the show would be without Jessica Lange, but I ask "Where would American Horror Story be without Evan Peters?"

6. Kathy Bates

Image: FX
Image: FX

Appeared in: S3, S4, S5

Starring Role: Delphine LaLaurie - Coven

Nabbing Kathy Bates was quite the coup for American Horror Story, she is easily one of the show's most reconizable stars. She brought her Hollywood A-game for her starting role as New Orleans socialite Delphine LaLaurie. Based on the real woman/serial killer, Bates's racist turn was both sickening and comedic in equal measures. Finding herself whisked to modern times, hilarity ensued, with LaLaurie seemingly turning over a new leaf when she turned house maid. As the caring mother and bearded lady, Bates gave us a more moving portrayal for Freak Show, repeating this as Hotel's downtrodden receptionist Iris. Her past two roles have been more mellow than Coven, but she was at her best playing a head in a box and chanelling some serious Misery crazy.

5. Angela Bassett

Image: FX
Image: FX

Appeared in: S3, S4, S5

Starring Role: Marie Laveau - Coven

Queen status was rightly bestowed to Angela Bassett for her first role as Marie Laveau the Voodoo Queen during Coven. The dreadlocked dame went to war with both the coven of witches, and with Kathy Bates's Delphine LaLaurie. She got her just desserts, trapped forever in the purgatory of Papa Legba. Her performance as a three-breasted 'freak' in Season 4 wasn't as strong, but thankfully Bassett was back on form last year as the vampiric Ramona Royale. If there was ever a role written for Ange, it was as the straight-talking Royale, a Pam Grier echo if ever we saw one. We can't wait to see what Bassett has to bring for the table in her fourth season of the show this year.

see also:

4. Lily Rabe

Image: FX
Image: FX

Appeared in: S1, S2, S3, S4, S5

Starring Role: Sister Mary Eunice - Asylum/Freak Show

We just can't rave enough about Rabe! She took on the role of tortured Nora Montgomery in Murder House and Fleetwood Mac-loving Misty Day in Coven. Rabe's all-too-brief stint as Aileen Wournos in Hotel had us begging for more, as one episode is nowhere near enough of the blonde bombshell. However, it was the nun-cum-demon Sister Mary Eunice that iconized her as one of the show's strongest players - Rabe's nicer than pie sister succumbed to the horror of Season 2. A non-possessed Sister cameoed in Freak Show, further connecting the seasons of AHS. Whilst we are yet to see her take on a starring role, and with her not confirmed for this season, it looks like we will have to wait another year for our fix of Lily Rabe- here's hoping she is front and centre in seasons to come!

3. Zachary Quinto

Image: FX
Image: FX

Appeared in: S1, S2

Starring Role: Dr. Oliver Thredson - Asylum

You only have to watch Heroes to know that Zachary Quinto is at his peak when he's playing the bad guy. Who can forget the human-skin lamps of Season 2's Asylum? Definitely one for the specialist section of Ikea. As the saviour/villain Oliver Thredson, Quinto was key to the second season, taking on the role of psycopathic killer Bloody Face. Mommy issues and even necrophilia took Asylum down an even darker route than its predecessor; arguably the show has taken on a lighter tone since, making Asylum and Quinto's performance all the more poigniant. Sadly, with Quinto now locked into J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movies, it seems unlikely that he will return to Horror Story - a damn shame, as we were looking forward to seeing those bushy brows again.

2. Frances Conroy

Image: FX
Image: FX

Appeared in: S1, S2, S3, S4

Starring Role: Myrtle Snow - Coven

Joining the show as saucy maid Moira O'Hara, Frances Conroy met a swift and sticky end in Murder House thanks to Jessica Lange's Constance Langdon. It became a recurring theme, emphasised when Conroy and Lange went head to head as the sisters-in-arms during Coven. Myrtle Snow was the frumpy witch to Fiona Goode's iPod generation of groovy granny. Conroy was back as Horror Story's own Norma Bates, Gloria Mott in Freak Show, but was noticeably absent from last year's Hotel . The on-screen chemistry between Conroy and Lange frequently saw their characters at odds, and the show hasn't been the same without the double act. Whilst there are no reports of either actress popping up in Season 6, we are hoping for some last minute additions.

1. Sarah Paulson

Image: FX
Image: FX

Appeared in: S1, S2, S3, S4, S5

Starring Role: Lana Winters - Asylum

There was only ever going to be one woman who could dethrone Lange, and it is Sarah Paulson, rightly earning her place as AHS royalty. The actress finally got her wish to play the villain - last season's leopard-print junkie Sally was not her usual heroine role. After a small role as psychic Billie Dean Howard in Murder House, Paulson stepped into the limelight as Season 2 protagonist Lana Winters. We instantly fell in love with the journalist-cum-Briarcliff-patient, and we haven't looked back since. In a rare dose of 'happy ending' for the show, Lana not only killed Dr. Oliver Thredson/Bloody Face, but brutally gunned down her son/Bloody Face V.2. in the season finale. We will let the old-age prosthetics slide, because even in flash-forward, Lana Winters was a badass bitch. Now when we think of American Horror Story, you would be hard pushed to pick between Paulson and Lange.

Honorary mentions:

James Cromwell as Dr. Arthur Arden, Naoimi Grossman as Pepper, Chloë Sevigny as Shelley, Leslie Jordan as Quentin Fleming, Christine Estabrook as Marcy.

The Future's Horrific

With an ever expanding cast, which now includes the return of Leslie Jordan and Emma Roberts, as well as the casting of Cuba Gooding Jr., can anything stop the train that is American Horror Story? Boasting some of the best televisual cast since Game of Thrones and American Crime Story, AHS is the jewel of FX's crown. With the show confirmed for a seventh and eight season, just who will be next to join the coveted coven of actors?

Who is your favourite American Horror Story alumni? Sound off below!