Pepper is a microcephalic woman and former performer with Fräulein Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities who has been committed to Briarcliff Manor. She is a character in American Horror Story portrayed by Naomi Grossman. She appears first in Asylum, and earlier in life in Freak Show.


Pepper was abandoned by her family into the inept care of an orphanage when she was born. When she was eighteen years old, she was rescued by Elsa Mars, thereby becoming the first member of Fräulein Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities. As the troupe grew, she would form a maternal relationship with the dwarf Ma Petite and an innocent romance with fellow "pinhead" Salty, to whom she was informally married in a mock ceremony.[2]

Personality and Appearance

Despite her alleged history of infanticide, she is innocently playful. She usually wears a flowery muumuu and a girlish bow in the topknot adorning her misshapen mostly bald head.


Pepper's role as a performer is a sort of clown act with Salty, providing amusement through innocent dance and play. Her extended role is as an attendant to "Miss Elsa", providing manicures[3] and delivering messages.[4] During a visit from Edward Mordrake on Halloween, she is deemed innocent by the ghost's demon face and she is passed over for "collection".[5]

Upon the death of Salty, she became despondent and unwilling to perform, so Elsa took her to live with her sister, Rita Gayheart. There she is treated with disdain by her sister and brother-in-law, Larry. She is tasked with serving cocktails to her sister and caring for her disfigured and equally unwanted infant nephew, Lucas. With his wife's complicity, Larry kills the child and frames Pepper for the crime. She was convicted of murder and consigned to the asylum at Briarcliff Manor, where she was admitted by Sister Mary Eunice. The nun took her on as a rehabilitation project and entrusted Pepper with custodial duties in the manor's library.[2]

Pepper spent most of her years at the asylum a model inmate, only guilty of pestering visitors to play[6] and hoarding food in her cell.[7] On the night of a massive storm, Pepper excuses herself from the movie night to pee and doesn't return. Sister Jude mistakenly assumes that she is a casualty of the failed escape of Lana, Grace, and Kit.[8]
In reality, she was abducted by extraterrestrials who performed genetic alterations that upgraded her subnormal intelligence to genius level. She is returned to the asylum to act as guardian to pregnant and resurrected fellow abductee, Grace.[9] She tried to carry out this charge bravely against Oliver Thredson, but the effort was futile as he had her taken away by orderlies.[10] Pepper died of pulmonary fibrosis in 1966, but lived on in the deluded mind of a defrocked and committed Sister Jude.[1]


  • Pepper: "Meatloaf!"
  • Arthur Arden
    How did you get in here?
    I go where Grace goes. I've been charged to protect her.
    Arthur Arden
    Have you? You can't even protect yourself. They may have given you speech, Pepper; even a parrot can be taught to mimic. But did they give you the capacity to think? I sincerely doubt it. Tell me, Polly, what did they put inside her?
    I won't tell you anything.
    Arthur Arden
    If you're not going to tell me, then I'll just have to find out for myself, won't I?
    X rays will harm the life growing inside of her.
    Arthur Arden
    That's a chance I'm willing to take.
    Stupid man. You think they'd allow you to continue your barbaric practice? She's protected. Your X rays won't penetrate her body. You'll see nothing, but they've been watching you. You think you're like them, with your clumsy experiments. But they laugh at you, Dr. Arden. They make jokes. Here's a good one: Knock, knock. Who's there? Arden. Arden who? Arden you the quack who'd make a better duck? Hahaha!
    Arthur Arden
    Huh.. Well, if taking X rays won't work, perhaps more invasive observation will. I think her condition calls for an emergency C-section, don't you?
    You can't do that.
    Arthur Arden
    Watch me.
    Dr. Arden, you still see me as microcephalic. No one takes a pinhead seriously. When my sister's husband drowned her baby and sliced his ears off, he told everyone I did it. They tied me up and paraded me in front of a judge. He took one look at the shape of my head, and I was locked up for good. That's how it works for us freaks. We get blamed for everything. But if something happens to Grace in here and she's harmed in any way, there won't be anyone else to blame. They'll take you, open up your head, and stir your brain with a fork. And when you're returned, you'll experience firsthand how people treat us freaks. I'll take care of Grace. Why don't you go to your whore nun and have her soothe your deflated ego?


Associated Characters

Rita Gayheart

Rita Gayheart is the sister of Pepper. Despondent after the loss of Salty and no longer willing to perform, Pepper was taken by Elsa to live with Rita. Rita made excuses that her husband would not allow it but Elsa convinced her to stand up to him and do the right thing by family. Unwilling to admit her own reluctance, Rita agreed. After Rita gave birth to a deformed child, she treated Pepper as a house slave whose duties were making her cocktails and caring for her otherwise unloved baby. She and her husband, wanting to return to a life of leisure, hatched a plan to get rid of both of them by killing the baby and blaming Pepper.



  1. 1.0 1.1 Episode: Continuum
  2. 2.0 2.1 Episode: Orphans
  3. Episode: Monsters Among Us
  4. Episode: Test of Strength
  5. Episode: Edward Mordrake: Part 2
  6. Episode: Welcome to Briarcliff
  7. Episode: Tricks and Treats
  8. Episode: Nor'easter
  9. Episode: The Coat Hanger
  10. Episode: Spilt Milk
  11. Stack, Tim (October 31,2014). Ryan Murphy on 'American Horror Story': The seasons are all connected. Entertainment Weekly.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.

Watch American Horror Story

Watch now
Available On