When Ryan Murphy announced at the end of American Horror Story's first season that his show was, in fact, a horror anthology series and would completely change narratives every time out, many of us breathed a sigh of relief: Great, so it won't just be "here's another family in this haunted house" stories ad infinitum. That reaction was then followed by what can only be described as, well, horror: Wait, what about these great actors that had such juicy roles? We want more Lily Rabe and Taissa Farmiga and France Conroy. Do not deny us our Grand Guignol grande-dame Jessica Lange fix!
Thankfully, the fact that we'd get a totally different story every season did not mean that we'd get a totally different cast as well. There have been a number of returning players over the show's previous three-season run so far, with many scheduled to come back for Season Four's upcoming "Freakshow" story. For every departing star (come back, Zachary Quinto) and series newcomer (welcome to the fold, Michael Chiklis), there are several familiar faces from the AHS repertory company that have signed up for another tour of duty.
So, before the FX series lets its "Freakshow" flag fly starting tonight, we've assembled a breakdown of the American Horror Story all-stars you need to know — the two-seasons-or-more MVPs and pinch hitters who keep bringing the thrills and chills.