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American Horror Story Wiki

Lana Winters is a journalist who is committed to Briarcliff Manor under false pretenses by Sister Jude, for trying to expose its darkest secrets. She is a character in American Horror Story portrayed by Sarah Paulson.


Lana Winters is a lesbian and in a relationship with a school teacher, Wendy Peyser. Like Kit and Alma Walker, they must keep their love a secret to avoid social repercussions. She is a journalist for a small paper covering trivial matters. She's looking for the scoop that will take her to the next level.

Personality and Appearance[]

She is ambitious but a bit careless. She recognizes that a darkness lies within the walls of Briarcliff but underestimates its power. Working in a field dominated by men she still makes an attempt to appear conventionally attractive.

She has dark eyes and medium length dark brown hair usually styled and parted neatly to the side. She often wears minimal makeup and wears dangly earrings for a professional look. She has prominent cheekbones and large, full lips.

She is shown to be mentally and emotionally strong in very stressful situations such as being trapped in Thredson's basement. Though because she has survived all of these events, it has made her a bit cold, like when she didn't bother saving Jude after she was released, believing that she is responsible for everyone's torture at Briarcliff. She also killed her son even though he gave up his dream of becoming like his father.



Lana visits Briarcliff under the pretense of doing a story on their bakery, but she is truly there for the scoop on Bloody Face. Sr. Jude catches wind of her ruse and the meeting is cut short by the arrival of the accused; Kit Walker. At home, Lana expresses her frustrations to her girlfriend Wendy Peyser regarding the limitations of her current job and especially her editor. After Wendy encourages her to "Go out and win a Pulitzer" she again visits Briarcliff; this time under cover of night. There she finds Sister Mary Eunice in the woods and after hearing a bestial scream the nun grabs her arm and pulls her down a little-known tunnel leading to the manor. When they arrive inside, Lana leverages Sr. Mary's fear of Sr. Jude against her to keep her silence. Then, without discretion, Lana begins searching the asylum for Kit Walker with the Sister following helplessly behind. When Sr. Mary is forced to leave her behind, Lana is nearly caught by the approaching Sr. Jude. After waiting it out in an empty cell (Kit's perhaps), she makes her way down a hall; following the voice of Dr. Arden. When Lana comes to a door she peeks through the feed slot and calls for Kit. An arm from within grabs her by the neck and she is knocked unconscious.

Lana awakens after some time to find herself confined to a bed and told by Sr. Jude that she's in for a long stay. When she protests she is shown the statement, signed by Wendy and a judge, reminding her of the asylum's care.[2] She begins keeping a list of the asylum's misdeeds for future exposure, but the list is confiscated during a room check. Lana exclaims to Sr. Jude that she doesn't need the list because she has "an excellent memory". As punishment for this, Sr. Jude subjects Lana to an unnecessary electroshock therapy. This weakens Lana's cognitive function, and she soon finds that her memory is no longer as good as it once was. In the common room, Lana hears Kit and Grace discussing escape plans. She approaches Grace with her own escape plan without Kit, as she is convinced that Kit is Bloody Face and does not want him to escape the asylum with them. During their escape, Grace still insists on bringing Kit, but Lana protests and sounds the alarm. Sr. Jude 'rewards' her for this by allowing her participation in their punishment.[3]

Lana pleads with Dr. Thredson to get a message to her girlfriend Wendy.[4] During movie night, the psychiatrist tells her of his suspicions that Wendy has fallen prey to Bloody Face. Lana attempts to follow Grace and Kit, who with Shelley, are making a break. When they realize that a guard is up ahead, Shelley sacrifices herself as a distraction. Lana, Grace, and Kit make it out of the building and into the woods, where they encounter the Raspers. Their escape again fails, as the three of them sprint back into the asylum for safety and return to the common room.

Dr. Thredson meets with Lana,[5] offering to get her out of the asylum if she will agree to be treated for her homosexual proclivities. She refuses, saying that there is no treatment. While waiting in line for medicine, she fantasizes about winning an award for enduring the trials and exposing the atrocities of the asylum. For inspiration, she credits her fellow inmates such as headbanger, Martha and chronic masturbator, Rudy during this fantasy. Afterward, Lana accepts Thredson's offer of aversion/conversion therapy in the hope that her compliance may lead to an early release. Thredson administers apomorphine as an emetic to associate nausea with images of nude women, including one of her girlfriend, taken from her home upon Thredson's visit. The latter half of treatment involves encouraging Lana to masturbate while fondling fellow inmate volunteer, Daniel to associate pleasure with men. However, Lana vomits again and Thredson calls off the therapy. He visits her the next day and gives her the picture of Wendy from the slideshow, and promises to take Lana with him when he leaves the asylum at the end of the week.

With Dr. Thredson's help, Lana was able to get out of the asylum through the front door and was then brought into his house for the meantime. Thredson tells her not to worry as they will go to the police in the morning and offers her some wine. Lana accepts and tries to call a friend but is caught by Thredson. He tells her not to call anyone, or else risk both of their safety. Lana drinks some wine and notices that Thredson's lampshade appears as though it is made out of skin. She looks down at the coffee table and also realizes that Thredson's ashtray resembles a human cranium. Lana begins to suspect that she is in danger and asks to be excused. She tries to go to the bathroom, only to find Dr. Thredson's room full of surgical equipment and human body parts. She finds out that Thredson is Bloody Face and that the lamp shade is indeed made out of human skin. Thredson then presses a button, activating a trapdoor that sends Lana falling down to a room below.

She wakes up chained and finds Wendy dead in the middle of the room. Thredson appears and taunts Lana about kissing Wendy as "therapy", saying she won't bite. Lana screams in horror as Thredson explains that he took her teeth out and added them to his Bloody Face mask.

Lana is raped by Thredson while Shachath looks on. When Thredson leaves the room, Shachath appears again and offers to end Lana's suffering. She almost gives in to the kiss of death but changes her mind at the last second. Thredson comes back and offers to kill Lana either via strangulation or by cutting her throat. He decides to lethally inject her with an anesthetic. Lana helplessly begs for her life, then realizes that she must fight back. Lana hits Thredson in the head with a picture of Wendy that is by the bed, strangles him with the chain, and stabs him in the leg with the syringe, momentarily knocking him out. He chases her up the stairs and tries to grab her, but she kicks him off onto a table and makes her escape. Lana escapes into the car of a man who drives by. The man does not favor women and accuses Lana of being unfair to her boyfriend and just like all other women before pulling out a gun and shooting himself in the head. Lana tries to grab the wheel, but the car wrecks. She awakens back in Briarcliff, where Sr. Mary Eunice talks to her. Lana tells Sister Mary Eunice that Thredson attacked her and that he is Bloody Face. While Sr. Mary Eunice initially believes her to be delusional from the wreck, she soon believes Lana's accusations when she recalls the possessed Jed Potter saying, "I love your work, Bloody Face" to Thredson on the night of the exorcism.

Lana wakes up vomiting, still a patient in Briarcliff. She finds Kit, who is weak from sedation in a nearby bed in the infirmary and tells him that Thredson was, in fact, "Bloody Face" and that he manipulated Kit into confessing to murders he committed. When she tries to call the police, Thredson comes into the room behind her. Thredson was able to track her down because the stories of her car accident were in the newspaper. He blames her for making him share his story with her. He attempts to strangle her with the phone cord. She struggles and fights back. He picks her up and tells her that her skin will be the start of a whole new Bloody Face. Kit knocks Thredson unconscious and they take his body to an abandoned storage room for safekeeping. Lana threatens to bury him one day.

Lana learns from Sr. Mary Eunice that test results confirm she is pregnant, though only she herself knows Thredson is the father, causing her to faint. Lana visits Kit and tells him that they need to kill Thredson, but Kit talks her out of it and the two devise a plan to make Thredson confess to the murders by using their unborn child as leverage. Thredson pleads with Lana that he will change for the sake of the baby, and Lana convinces him to admit to murdering Donna Burton and Allison Reidel for their skin. When Lana asks about Wendy, he replies that she never loved Lana because she was the sole reason Lana was admitted in the first place. Lana tells him that she killed the baby, and Thredson says that she is sicker than he is because he would never kill an innocent child. She puts the gag back on him and says that she will slit his throat with a knife during bakery duty. An orderly stops Lana and takes the knife back. Lana instead sneaks out at night with the wire hanger but finds Thredson missing when she returns to the storage room. Sr. Mary Eunice appears and tells Lana that her abortion attempt was unsuccessful and that the baby is going to be a boy. Sr. Jude apologizes to Lana in the common room, promising to make it up to her by getting her out of Briarcliff. Lana doesn't trust the promise after her encounter with Thredson. Sr. Jude vows to earn her trust, and breaks the "Dominique" record, while Lana simply replies "Well, hot damn".

Much to Lana and Kit's horror, Thredson visits them in the common room. Thredson tells them that he has a permanent position at Briarcliff, and will be continuing his evaluation of Kit. Thredson also informs Kit of Lana's pregnancy and her failed abortion attempt. Lana soon sees an electroshock-treated Jude walking to the jukebox and asks her if she can remember her name. In Jude's mind, however, she envisions herself singing "The Name Game" while Briarcliff patients dance along with her. Lana visits Thredson, as he finds a children's book that contained his confession in the bathroom under a tub, but the tape is missing. Lana tells Thredson that if he kills her, he will never figure out the tape's location. Thredson backs down.

Mother Superior Claudia pulls Lana aside in the bakery, giving her the file and says that she is being released. Mother Superior Claudia wants Lana to write her exposé, and Mother Superior Claudia also has an interest in seeing that Briarcliff is shut down. On her way out, she is disgusted and sees Thredson and Kit talking on the stair wall. Kit distracts Thredson long enough so that Lana can go down the stairs unnoticed, but the suspicious Thredson goes out of Briarcliff after Kit leaves. Lana flips him off inside of a taxi, and even holds the evidence up at a window. Lana waits in Thredson's house with a gun and tells him the police are on their way as she turned the evidence into them, and he requests getting one last drink before he is taken in. Lana asks what he did with Wendy's body and he says that was going to dispose of the body, but kept it for practice. He had sex with the corpse in a variety of ways until he was finally able to climax. He disposed of the dismembered body after Lana escaped. Thredson goes to refill his drink, the police sirens wailing in the distance. Lana speaks of the sweet justice that the electric chair will dole to him. He insists that because he is insane, he will be institutionalized, and not go to prison. He secretly eyes a gun hidden in one of his bar cabinet's drawers. As he begins to say that she might as well be his last victim, Lana shoots him in the head. At a mausoleum, she mourns the loss of Wendy with two of her friends, one of whom has recommended her for an abortion doctor. When reporters show up, Lana ushers her friends to leave so that they aren't outed as lesbians themselves. At the abortion doctor, Lana has flashbacks and panics, stopping the doctor and leaving. Lana talks to two police officers, who are wanting to see solid evidence of Lana's story. Getting a court order, the two officers and Lana speak to the Monsignor, requesting to speak to Jude. Timothy informs them that Jude committed suicide the night before, and even shows them what appears to be a valid death certificate. Unbeknownst to the three, Jude was actually alive and placed in a solitary cell. Timothy forged the death certificate to save Briarcliff. As time jumps, Lana is in the hospital with her crying baby. Lana reluctantly breastfeeds it while staring up at a crucifix above her bed. In 1968, Lana releases her book, Maniac, which has been on the New York Times bestseller list. She reads an excerpt to a rapt audience in a bookstore. A vision of Thredson confronts her about salicious additions, while a vision of Wendy is angry about a whitewash of their relationship. Lana awakens to an adoring crowd, thinking that she was overcome by nostalgia. During the signing, a fame-hungry Lana encounters Kit. They haven't been in touch. Lana has sold the film rights to the story, but glosses over Kit's loss of Alma. Over coffee, she says her next book will be about Leigh Emerson. Kit reminds her that she was supposed to be dismantling Briarcliff. Her ego has blinded her to the situation there. He describes a visit with Alma amidst crowded chaos in the dayroom before she is struck by a fatal heart attack. Lana was unaware of Alma's death, and muses they are the last survivors. Kit corrects her, that the documentation of Judy's death has been exaggerated, and that he saw her in the dayroom. In 1971, Lana and her film crew sneak through the tunnel into Briarcliff to film Briarcliff Exposed, a documentary that brings the mistreatment of the patients upfront and is vital to shutting down Briarcliff for good. During this filming, she imagines finding Jude and rescuing her, but in actuality, Jude was never there during the filming. Lana searches through the files on the floor, and learns that "Betty Drake" (Jude's alias) was released into the care of Kit. She goes to Kit's place, but Kit refuses to talk to her about Jude with the cameras around. While there, Kit relates to her the story of what happened to Jude. In 2013, Lana is now eighty-two years old and being interviewed by a woman named April. April wants to begin by discussing Thredson, but Lana refuses and they instead talk about Lana's career change from print to television, and her exposé of Briarcliff's horrors. Lana momentarily stops the interview to ask for sparkling water, which is given to her by Johnny, her son who is posing as someone on her crew.

The interview resumes with Lana exposing Cardinal Howard and Arthur Arden about Howard's awareness that Arden was conducting human experiments. Howard denies the allegations on camera but later commits suicide by slitting his wrists. Lana mentions that Kit eventually married a woman named Allison and that Lana became a godmother to his children. Julia and Thomas went on to have successful careers. Lana reveals that at 40, Kit was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and one day disappeared (in actuality, he was re-abducted by aliens). Lana comes clean about the baby never dying as she previously claimed. Lana had given Johnny up, but felt regret, and visited him at his school and stopped a bully who was harassing him. Lana touched Johnny's face, trying to connect with him emotionally, and he ran off embarrassed.

After the interview ends, she tells Johnny to come out and get it over with. Unbeknownst to Johnny, Lana knew exactly who he was due to photos from a police investigation. He says that he recognized her on the playground, and also that he found the confession tape on eBay. She admits that neither of his parents loved him, despite his assertion that Thredson did. She confronts him about what he wants, and he holds a gun to her head. She describes the irony that Thredson hated guns. Johnny just wanted Thredson to be proud of him. She says that Johnny could never be a monster like his father. She cradles his face and gets him to put down the gun. He begins to weep, feeling the guilt of his crimes. "It's not your fault, baby", she claims. Raising the gun to his forehead, she adds "It's mine," and fires.


Lana, now eighty-six years old, has chosen to come out of retirement for one last interview with the Return To Roanoke massacre survivor Lee Harris. Lee feels she deeply identifies with Lana, as both are survivors of horrifying events. In the middle of the interview, Lot Polk bursts through the doors of the room, unleashing bullets on multiple staff members. Lana tries to calm him down, telling him that he is on live television and that whatever he does will have major consequences. In response, he hits her on the head with his gun before getting shot down by the police. Later, Lana talks about the interview after a stay at the hospital.[6]


At some point, Lana becomes aware of Ally Mayfair-Richards, a woman from Michigan with details on how she managed to escape a sadistic clown cult run by Kai Anderson, a local councilman. Lana requests an interview with Ally but is refused the opportunity, as Ally wants to live a normal life as a mother and leave those days behind her.[7]


  • To Wendy Peyser: "I am telling you, Wendy, that battle-ax has secrets. Under all that piousness and fidelity... there's a real darkness."
  • To Wendy Peyser: "Emmerman's an asshole. He thinks that Canada geese leaving Chicopee a month early is Column A story and he wants me to write the cooking column."
  • To Sister Mary Eunice: "What were you feeding out there? I guess I'll have to ask Sister Jude...she scares you, doesn't she? She scares you to death. Let me look around and I won't tell Sr. Horrible about your night-time forays or your secret tunnel."
  • To Oliver Thredson: "You know how this goes. You make a sound; I bash your face in."
  • To Oliver Thredson: "Sadly, your beloved baby died last night. It started as a trickle but within an hour it was a bloody mess."
  • To Oliver Thredson: "I'm goddamn plucky, remember?"
  • Lana Winters: "All I can say is, read my book."
  • Lana Winters: "I am tough, but I am no cookie."
  • To Sister Jude: "It's me, Lana. Lana Banana."
  • To Sister Jude: "You mean a nymphomaniac?"
  • To Sister Jude: "You don't have any idea of what I'm capable of."
  • To Oliver Thredson: "Wise move. I was about to bash your face in."
  • Lana Winters: "We are vultures, attracted to the scent of rotted meat."
  • Lana Winters: "Lies are like scars on your soul. They destroy you."


  • She is the second character to be portrayed by Sarah Paulson. For a complete list of her characters, see Cast. Paulson's portrayal of Lana earned her a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.
  • Lana Winters was inspired by the historical American journalist Nellie Bly. She was also a writer, industrialist, inventor, and a charity worker who was widely known for her record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days, in emulation of Jules Verne's fictional character Phileas Fogg, and an exposé in which she faked insanity to study a mental institution from within.
  • As noted by herself and Wendy, Lana is a terrible cook.[2]
  • During her fantasy sequence in "I Am Anne Frank: Part 1", she is seen in her cell reciting Robert Frost's Mending Wall.
  • Lana Winters makes her first reappearance after Asylum in Roanoke, making a brief cameo in its finale, Chapter 10 when she comes out of retirement to interview Lee Harris.
  • She is the only main character to survive the season.
  • Lana is the first lesbian character to appear in the series, along with her lover, Wendy. For a complete list of LGBTQ characters throughout the series, see LGBTQ Characters.
  • Lana is Sarah Paulson's favorite character that she has played on American Horror Story.
  • FX listed Lana Winters #8 among the characters portrayed by Paulson, ranked by evilness.[8]
  • Kit Walker, Lana Winters and Sister Jude are the only three characters to appear in all episodes of Asylum.
  • In 2023, Lana Winters was featured in the Final Girls Trading Cards deck for Fandom's Final Girls on the Final Day of Women's History Month.