American Horror Story Wiki
American Horror Story Wiki

Dr. Ben Harmon is a psychiatrist practicing out of his home office. He is a character in American Horror Story portrayed by Dylan McDermott. He is the husband of Vivien Harmon and father of Violet Harmon. He also had an affair with a former student of his named Hayden.


Benjamin "Ben" Harmon lived in Boston, Massachusetts with his wife Vivien Harmon and daughter Violet Harmon, working as a psychiatrist. After Vivien had a miscarriage, he and his wife fell into a grieving state. This led to Ben cheating on his wife with his student, Hayden McClaine, and subsequently impregnating her. In an attempt to save their marriage, Ben convinced his wife moved to Los Angeles to start over.

Ben implies that his childhood was very difficult, stating that he was heading towards a path of destruction during his adolescence and would have never thought it possible to become a psychiatrist.


Ben is calm and controlled for the most part. He is actively trying to repair his relationship with his wife, who he cheated on after she had a miscarriage. However, he can be quick to anger if his reactions toward Moira's advances and Larry Harvey's pestering are any indication. He also displayed incredibly selfish and hypocritical behavior, in order to protect his own insecure ego, such as burying the body of Hayden McClaine in order to conceal the fact that she was pregnant with his baby from Vivien. He also shamed his wife for supposedly cheating on him, when in reality, he had committed adultery on Viven multiple times with Hayden; he likely did this to conceal his own guilt.

Although he often screws things up with his family (i.e. cheating on Vivien multiple times, and addiction to sexual thoughts), he cares truly about keeping his family together. Ben is ignorant and oblivious to the ghostly activities going on around him and vehemently refused to accept the existence of ghosts, until entered the spirit world himself.


Murder House[]

Following a series of misfortunes, Ben relocates his family to Los Angeles, California in the hopes of starting over. He later meets Larry Harvey, a former owner of the house who warns him that his family's lives are in danger and advises him to leave as soon as possible. Ben has long-awaited make-up sex with Vivien followed by some dangerous sleep-walking.

Ben heads over to Boston as his former student and mistress Hayden needs his support in having an abortion, although Ben hurriedly rushes home after learning his home was intruded by R. Franklin Murder Reactors. He is surprised to learn a patient of his named Tate was present during the attack and feeling he has crossed a line decides to end any further counseling sessions.

Ben continues to black out and awaken with no memory of his actions, which include digging a hole in the front lawn. While running his blood work Ben discovers he has been poisoned with an opiate that causes memory loss and later confronts the maid Moira about this. Ben is surprised to find a frantic Hayden on his doorstep. As he attempts to soothe her she is abruptly killed by Larry. Although Ben is distraught Larry claims he did so out of his best interest, and the two decide getting rid of the body is the best option. Ben decides to bury her body and builds a gazebo over it.

Larry continues to harass Ben, demanding payment for killing Hayden, although Ben rebuffs him. Vivien later confronts Ben with his phone bill. Ben reiterates that his relationship with Hayden is over although she does not believe him and demands that he leave. The two arrive at the hospital whence an ultrasound reveals the baby is more developed than it should be and the doctor collapses after seeing the image on the screen. Ben and Vivien rush home from the hospital and find that Violet is missing. Ben then answers the door to find Hayden standing at his doorstep.

Ben believes Hayden's death was staged, and both she and Larry are trying to extort him. Ben is also forced to reveal he impregnated Hayden months after Vivien discovered their affair and is forced to leave the house.

Ben needs to use the house for his therapy sessions and begins seeing a new patient named Derek, who is terrified by urban legends, most recently the story of Piggy Man, who will slaughter anyone who repeats a specific mantra. Taking Ben's advice to face his fears, Derek repeats the mantra in his bathroom mirror but is ironically shot and killed by an armed robber hiding in the shower.

Ben intends to sell the house to a sleazy developer who will tear it down to build condominiums and learns Vivien is pregnant with twins.

Ben believing Vivien has become mentally unstable allows her to be taken away for a psychiatric evaluation.

Ben begins seeing a new patient, who unbeknownst to him is Elizabeth Short also known as The Black Dahlia. Ben also discovers that one of the twins Vivien carries is not his.

Ben finally concedes that Vivien was raped and is later attacked by Rubber Man who knocks him out with chloroform. However, Ben manages to unmask him before slipping into unconsciousness, discovering the man responsible for impregnating Vivien is Tate.

Ben learns Violet is dead and Vivien goes into labor, giving birth to a still-born and dying during the birth of the second child.

Ben finds it hard to cope with the death of his family and contemplates suicide although, Violet and Vivien intervene and convince him to leave the house with the child. As he is preparing to leave Ben is murdered by Hayden, Dallas, Fiona and the other 'good' spirits in the house decide to prevent anyone else from moving in and suffering the same fate. The Harmons continue on as ghosts and happily celebrate Christmas together as a family as Tate and Hayden look on.


Ben is having a session with Tate. He listens as Tate begs for his help to get Violet to stop ignoring him. However, Ben explains that Violet has every reason to ignore Tate for the events that have unfolded in the past. As they continue talking, Behold and Madison interrupt their session. Ben is shocked that they're even able to see them because ghosts have the ability to show themselves or not. Madison explains that they are here to ask about Michael Langdon. Tate warns them and leaves afterwards. Ben briefly speaks to the witches but leaves due to having other priorities to take care of.

Later on, Behold and Madison approach Ben, who no longer speaks to his wife Vivien and frequently spends his time masturbating while crying. Ben tells the two that after Michael discovered that Constance had killed herself to be free from him, he attended therapy sessions with Ben. A father-son relationship developed between the two. However, Michael slowly grew more and more dark after meeting and being rejected by Tate. Ben witnessed Michael mutilating the ghost of Elizabeth Short, as well as not only murdering two new residents, but permanently expelling their spirits from existence. Ben, realizing Michael's capacity for evil, ended their sessions.

The ghost of Vivien Harmon appears and reconciles with Ben, explaining that she could not forgive him for connecting with Michael, realizing now that he didn't have a choice. 


  • To Derrick: "The more you fear something, the more power you give it."
  • To Tate: "You're a psychopath, Tate. It's a mental disorder, and therapy can't cure it."
  • To Violet: "Violet..What kind of father have I been? You weren't eating, you weren't going to school. You were already gone. I didn't get it."
  • To Larry: "You see that crazy bitch, you tell her we're done. I'm not playing your games. You come back on this property, and I will kill you. You hear me? I will kill you."


  • He is the first character to be portrayed by Dylan McDermott. For a complete list of his characters, see Cast.
  • American Horror Story starts with two redheaded twins meeting a grisly end, and later introduces a redhead maid who brings trouble to a family living in a very creepy house. She’s played by two separate actresses and inhabits two different ages: Frances Conroy does her as an oddball matron and Alexandra Breckenridge as a sexed-out seductress. “That’s a plot point,” Ryan Murphy has revealed. The redheads have something to do with Ben's childhood. “It’s something that happened to Dylan’s character as a child that involves redheads,” Murphy said. “It’s a beautiful childhood thing for him that will be explained.”[2] Although it was was never explained, Tim Minear said that Ben's abused childhood was something they were unable to go over.
  • Ben, Vivien Harmon and Tate Langdon are only three characters to appear in all episodes of Murder House.



  1. Mentioned by Dr. Andi, who states that she needs to split time in the Murder House's study room with him due to both of them conducting therapy sessions with their patients there. She later states she is writing a book with him regarding the phenomenon of ghosts being unable to remember their own deaths under traumatic circumstances
  2. Malloy, Tim (6 Aug 2011). TCA: Ryan Murphy's 'American Horror Story' Haunted by Redheads. The Wrap.