American Horror Story Wiki
American Horror Story Wiki

There are some who have an understandably violent and vengeful reaction to being horribly murdered. They refuse to move on until they exact their pound of flesh.
Billie Dean Howard to Violet Harmon[src]

A ghost (or spirit for those who have crossed over to the afterlife) is the soul of a deceased person that can appear in a visible manifestation to the living. Contrary to popular culture, ghosts do not appear as transparent beings, but instead as normal humans who bare the wounds they sustained in life that caused their deaths, oftentimes seen adorned in the same outfits they have died in. Some ghosts seem unable to realize that they are dead and walk among the living in childlike confusion,[1] while others use this to their advantage, tormenting the lives of both fellow spirits and mortal victims.[2]

Alternatively, those who were once benevolent or comical in life can return as ghosts as well and, in a heartwarming turn of events, devote themselves to using their undead status to protect those they still cherish from harm; by association, ghosts that were previously malevolent in life can learn the error of their ways by aiding these kindly ghosts in their shared endeavor, and refrain from repeating their past mistakes by only harming bad individuals instead of the innocent.

So far, ghosts have appeared in every season except for Asylum, Cult and Double Feature.

Characteristics and Powers[]

How strictly these "rules" are applied varies and has never been clearly defined in the series itself. Edward Mordrake is one such example of an exception to these rules.

  • Trapped in the Place of Their Death - Ghosts are tethered to the area of their death and can not normally leave it. This restriction does not apply on Halloween,[3] Devil's Night,[4], if they have been released by magical means[5] or their place of death is burned down[6]. Generally, ghosts tend to exist in places where many horrible, disturbing events have taken place. Billie Dean Howard describes these locations like a "battery" for evil energy, absorbing the negative feelings, emotions, and events of the heinous crimes that have occurred in their depths. As a result, these locations become a trap for individuals that die on their premises, ensnaring their spirits to the mortal world due to unfinished business they have in life. To avoid becoming trapped in one such location, one must not only leave the inside of a cursed building before dying, but also the building's outside perimeter, such as a garden or sidewalk, as these places are still affected by the restriction.[7][8] In the case of mass murder in outdoor areas, the ghosts infest the entire outside, as is the case for those victimized at Camp Redwood and the Lost Colony of Roanoke, which haunts the woods of North Carolina[9]. According to Billie Dean Howard, targeting a particular spirit to "dislodge them from the paramagnetic grip" of a haunted place is quite difficult.[10]
    • Conduits for Malevolent Forces - Because of the negative energy that accumulates in locations of violent tragedy, demons may begin to feed off of the eternal suffering of the ghosts tethered there, which can result in these aforementioned demons developing a need to break through and move into the world of the living. To do so, they use the spirits trapped between the two worlds as conduits.[10] This is particularly dangerous, for if a child conceived of a union between human and spirit is born, they will usher in the End of Times.[2]
  • Exist Indefinitely - Ghosts will exist forever, as they are the spirits of those who are already deceased. Many ghosts remain trapped in an unbreakable chain for all of eternity, repeating themselves over and over again on an endless loop until they are able to find their purpose. This does not mean, however, that upon finding their purpose they will be able to leave the place of their death. On the contrary, after becoming aware of their new status, they are able to act on the physical plane, regaining memorization and cognitive abilities rather than being disoriented shells of the people they once were.[11] Although ghosts cannot be killed a second time beyond however they originally died when they were human, they have the ability to temporarily incapacitate one another and cause injuries. Despite the infinite existence of ghosts, the Anti-Christ is shown to be capable of destroying them, thereby erasing them from the place of their death.[12]
  • Intangibility / Invisibility - Although they have no physical mass, ghosts can consciously choose to manifest in a corporeal form to interact with the living, as well as an incorporeal form, during which no human can perceive or touch them. Despite this, psychic mediums (such as Billie Dean Howard and Cricket Marlowe) can see and communicate with them indefinitely, and presumably other non-human animals (such as dogs) can as well. Billie Dean states that ghosts are perceptible to her the same way as winter humidity, and that the ghosts of evil people or killers can cause disorientation and oppression in a medium, especially when more than one is in a room; she compares this to "termites in the walls".[13] Ghosts that have made it to the afterlife are able to communicate to the living via a medium's assistance.[13] Witches can communicate with ghosts using a spirit board, although this can be risky, as this method may inadvertently release evil spirits other than the one spirit they are attempting to contact.[5]
  • Transmutation - Ghosts do not follow the rules and laws of physics, and are able to move instantaneously from one location to another (within the confines of the place of their death) without physically occupying the space in-between.[14][14][15][16][17][18]
  • Electromagnetic Interference (to a limited extent) - Ghosts will cause static to appear on camera footage, although they can still be filmed unlike vampiresJohn Lowe's ghost caused static to appear during Billie Dean Howard's television broadcast at the Hotel Cortez.[13], and the ghosts of The Butcher and Miranda and Bridget Jane were shown causing this multiple times during the filming of Return to Roanoke.[15][19][20]
  • Shapeshifting - Some ghosts possess the ability to change their physical appearance, as in the case of Moira O'Hara.
    • Age Shifting - Moira's ghost appears as a seductive young woman to lustful men, while women, gay men and individuals able to see beyond physical beauty view her as an elderly woman.
  • Witchcraft / Voodoo on Ghosts - The effects witchcraft and voodoo have on ghosts is not entirely clear. Some magical powers, such as Injury transference, has no effect on them, as ghosts do not feel pain as physical living beings do, nor do they possess tangible bodies[5][8]. A ritualistic spell performed by Zoe, Queenie, and Nan was shown to be able to banish a ghost from the confines of where they died, as in the case of the Axeman, who was murdered in Miss Robichaux's Academy in 1919 and released from the building in 2013. Despite this, Supreme Witch Cordelia Goode was unable to liberate the ghost of Queenie from the Hotel Cortez in 2017, due to the evil nature of the hotel cancelling out her magical powers[21]. Advanced Telekinesis is revealed to work on ghosts, as seen when Michael Langdon used it against Ben Harmon when he attempted to prevent Michael from killing the Murder House's new owners.[12]
    • Possession of Witches' Powers - Some ghosts, such as The Butcher, can come to possess powers that witches naturally retain, such as telekinesis and pyrokinesis. However, the Butcher likely came into these powers due to having sold her soul to the witch Scáthach, therefore binding her to the curse of the October Blood Moon which has granted her these abilities and, thus, allows her to more easily carry out whatever tasks the witch desires of her.
      • The Blood Moon Curse - Some ghosts, such as the Roanoke Colony, are prevented from murdering humans, as they can only do so during a phase of the moon in October known as the Blood Moon, when the full moon appears red in color. This differs from other seasons, in which there is no rule denying ghosts from killing (eg. James Patrick March, Tate Langdon). This may be explained in the fact that the Roanoke ghosts are bound to the spell cast upon them by Scáthach, thereby forcing them to abide by the will of her magic. As a result, the Roanoke ghosts also appear to look much less human in appearance than ghosts shown in previous seasons, displaying characteristics more akin to diseased or rotting living corpses.
  • Demonic Manipulation (Possibly) - Some ghosts may or may not have some level of influence over demons; a mystery demonstrated through the very limited control Sally and James March have attempted to exert over the Addiction Demon. Upon finding Gabriel being violently raped by the Demon, Sally tells him that it will go away if he says "I love you Sally". After ushering these words, the Demon vanishes. Sometime later, James March threatens Sally that he will set the Demon on her for disobeying him, causing her to remember a traumatic incident where she was periodically tortured by it for three days. As to whether or not the Demon follows their commands, or is capable of its own independent thoughts and actions, has yet to be determined. James has stated that he must "protect" Sally from the Demon's malevolence, and elaborates that it has apparently been lurking in the hotel for some time by feeding on the suffering and fear of drug addicts, where it has since remained a dangerous enemy to him.
  • When Supernatural Beings Become Ghosts - Since vampirism acts as a sort of parasite upon the human body, those afflicted by it will lose all vampiric characteristics if they become ghosts.[8] Deceased witches and voodooists will also lose their ability to perform rituals and spells and all of their active powers if they become ghosts, although there may be exceptions, as Adeline Harding was able to cast a spell with Anna Victoria Alcott to destroy Siobhan Corbyn.[21]


  • Defending Oneself
    • Spiritual Light - According to Misty Day, Billie Dean Howard, and Cricket Marlowe, it is possible to protect oneself from evil spirits by surrounding oneself with a white spiritual light. However, stronger ghosts are match to surpass this method.[22][13][23]
    • Mental Repulsion - Nora Montgomery taught a young Tate a technique against unpleasant ghosts which consists of closing one's eyes and commanding the ghosts to "go away"; subsequently, the aggressive spirits will disappear. Violet later does this to cast off Tate.[10]
    • Sage - According to Constance Langdon, Iris and Behold Chablis, it is possible to cleanse the spirits of a haunted location by burning sage.[24][13][12]
    • Ritual to the Ancestors - It is possible to protect oneself from evil spirits by praying to the ancestors and making them offerings, as the Chen Family did. However, stronger ghosts in the area influenced by the Old Gods, such as the Roanoke Colony, are match to surpass this method.[25]
  • Witchcraft / Voodoo - In some cases, the powers witches and voodoists possess are strong enough to free ghosts from the places they died in, as in the case of the Axeman.[5] However, this is not always the case, as Cordelia was unable to liberate Queenie from the Hotel Cortez though magic, citing that it was too rampant with "Satanic influences" for any of her spells to work.
    • Revealing Spell - Although ghosts can remain invisible to the living, appearing only if they want to, a revealing spell can surpass this limitation.[12]
    • Ghost Repelling Spell - Behold Chablis knew a spell that could chase a nasty ghost away.[12]
    • Binding Spell - Behold Chablis alleged he could perform a spell that would bind Moira O'Hara into a closet.[12]
    • Truth Revelation Powder - This magic item is shown to work on ghosts.[12]
    • Eternal Servitude Ritual - The witch Scáthach was able to lay a curse upon a group of living people that allowed her to command and control them after they became ghosts.
    • Banishing Spell - An exorcism of evil spirits. Performed by Nan, Queenie and Zoe to banish the Axeman's ghost from the Academy.
    • Rattle Viper Sperm Incense - According to Marie Laveau, this incense clears all the bad spirits out of a location, making them disappear along with any evil intentions they have.[22]
    • Ghost Vanquishing Spell - Cricket Marlowe knew a spell that would put The Butcher and her spirits down for good.[25] 
  • Higher Beings - Ghosts cannot hurt or kill higher beings, such as DemonsAngelsThe Antichristand Deities, as in the case of Sally McKenna[13]. Michael Langdon, the Anti-Christ, has the power to destroy ghosts with a stronger kind of pyrokinesis that reduces them to ash. 
  • ​​Putting a Ghost to Rest
    • Burying the remains -  At least in the case of Moira, it was possible to send her to the afterlife by exhuming her bones from the Murder House's yard and reinterring them in the sepulcher her mother was buried in, at Moira's request.[12]
    • Burning the Place of Their Death (AHStories) - At least in the case of ghosts in Murder House, it was possible to send them to the afterlife by burning their place of death.[6]


Ghosts will only be allowed to pass on to the next life if they have overcome the issues that are keeping them on Earth. Although the details of the afterlife are unclear, it is described by Billie Dean Howard as blissful, beautiful, and safe; Papa Legba states to Nan upon her death that the afterlife is full of treats for girls "just like her" (later revealed to in fact be Hell, though Nan is having fun there as a torturer of wicked spirits). It seems that all wishes and desires most sought by the deceased become true; Addy is a beautiful girl on the other side, Elsa Mars becomes a famous singer and is reunited with her troupe of freaks, and Donovan is in a happy place where it is always a Saturday morning and the air smells of pancakes with blueberries.

Known Ghosts[]

It might be assumed that the spirit of everyone who has died within the supernatural demesne of the place of their death remains trapped. However, only some have been documented to have appeared to the living.


  • The Axeman and Queenie were the only known ghosts to have been magically released from their respective places of death and were able to return to the mortal coil as living beings.[5][21]
    • Similarly, Adeline Harding's ghost was able to magically manifest herself outside the Hestia restaurant where she was murdered.[33]
  • Before the timeline was altered, Moira O'Hara was the only known ghost in the Murder House to have moved on to the afterlife.[12]
  • Despite being a witch and supposedly being inured to all kind of unearthly things, Fiona Goode claimed not to believe in ghosts.[34]
  • Montana Duke says that there are over 40 souls trapped in Camp Redwood.[18]
  • It is unclear if the ghosts of Camp Redwood can leave the place of their death on Halloween or Devil's Night, as is the case for the ghosts trapped within the Murder House and Hotel Cortez, respectively.


  1. Episode: Piggy Piggy
  2. 2.0 2.1 Episode: Spooky Little Girl
  3. Episode: Halloween: Part 1
  4. Episode: Devil's Night
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Episode: The Axeman Cometh
  6. 6.0 6.1 Episode: Game Over
  7. Episode: Halloween: Part 2
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Episode: Battle Royale
  9. Episode: Chapter 1
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Episode: Birth
  11. Episode: Room 33
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 12.8 Episode: Return to Murder House
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 Episode: Be Our Guest
  14. 14.0 14.1 Episode: Edward Mordrake: Part 1
  15. 15.0 15.1 Episode: Chapter 7
  16. Episode: Traitor
  17. Episode: The Lady in White
  18. 18.0 18.1 Episode: Final Girl
  19. Episode: Chapter 8
  20. Episode: Chapter 9
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Episode: Could It Be... Satan?
  22. 22.0 22.1 Episode: The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks
  23. Episode: Chapter 3
  24. Episode: Pilot
  25. 25.0 25.1 Episode: Chapter 4
  26. All of them found peace and were passed into afterlives in American Horror Stories
  27. passed into unknown afterlife in erased timeline
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 28.4 in erased timeline
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 29.4 29.5 29.6 29.7 29.8 29.9 in American Horror Stories
  30. released and passed into Hell
  31. in Hotel
  32. formerly, released by Papa Legba
  33. Episode: The Auteur
  34. Episode: The Dead

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