I think we can all agree that this season of American Horror Story has introduced us to some seriously deranged killers. Both Twisty the Clown and Dandy Mott have exhibited what I consider to be classic psychopathic behavior, but let’s be honest, we’ve seen it all before on AHS, right? Every season of AHS has presented us with a psycho killer who wreaks havoc on the world of the show. But which one of these illustrious killers would be considered the most certifiably psychopathic by clinical standards? Turns out there is a 20 item psychopath test we can give these guys to find out.
The psychopath test was originally developed in the 1970s by Canadian psychologist Robert D. Hare, and it's still widely used today in prisons and high security psychiatric hospitals. The checklist contains 20 factors, and each item receives a score of zero, one, or two points. If you get a score of 30 or above, congratulations, you’re a certifiable psychopath. To find out just how psychopathic the characters of AHS are, I'll compare their behavior and history to the 20 traits that indicate psychopathy. So what's on the list?
Here's the Psychopathy Checklist (Revised) or The PCL-R:
Tate Langdon, Season 1: The Murder House
Oh Tate, even if you are a psychopath, you were just the best. Tate definitely exhibits most of the traits from Factor 1, except perhaps for his shallowness. (He always struck me as quite emotional, especially with regard to Violet.) Here’s a classic Tate line that perfectly illustrates his lack of remorse or guilt:
Some of them beg for their life. I don’t feel sad. I don’t feel anything.
As for Factor 2, most of these apply to young Tate, especially impulsivity, lack of long term goals (perhaps unfair since he’s a ghost trapped in a house), promiscuous sexual behavior (cough, rubber man, cough), and failure to accept responsibility for his actions. All in all, Tate Langdon gets a 34 on the psychopath test. Well done, sir.
Dr. Oliver Thredson, Season 2: Asylum
To be fair, there were a ton of crazy killers in the second season of AHS, but none so devious as Dr. Oliver Thredson, brilliantly played by Zachary Quinto. He possesses all of the Factor 1 traits — he’s charming, effortlessly manipulative, and emotionally shallow. He does have an Oedipus complex, but it seems to inspire him to kill more women rather than quell him. As for Factor 2, Dr. Thredson doesn’t quite meet the criteria. He is extremely driven by long term goals (doctor, hello), has his own apartment, doesn’t really have sex except for when he rapes Lana Winters for acting like his mother (ew), and has never been charged with criminal behavior before. So I’m sorry, Dr. Thredson. You put up a very good fight, but just missed qualifying for your psychopathy degree with a 26. However, you did spawn a son who followed in your footsteps — except he fails to kill his (and your) most sought after victim, his mother.
The Axeman, Season 3: Coven
This one's a tough call, because Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) was a serious contender with her tendency to brutally torture and kill slaves, but unfortunately she was just a little too sad when her family was murdered. So the spot for Season 3 goes to the Axeman (Danny Huston). What’s fun about this guy is that he’s based on a real serial killer whose identity was never discovered. However, that fact also makes him difficult to classify, since we don’t know his personal history. What we do know is that he displays all the traits in Factor 1, especially a grandiose sense of self-worth (he constantly talks about his awesome “accomplishments”). However, there’s a big wrench in his psychopath wheel: His unquenchable love for Fiona Goode. But honestly, who could blame him? Jessica Lange can sway even the most deviant of killers. So, despite an excellent effort, the Axeman gets a 29. No judgement. Fiona's a tricky mistress.
Twisty the Clown & Dandy Mott, Season 4: Freak Show
Finally, we have two killers so demented that I had to keep them both in the running for most psychopathic psychopath. Right off the bat, I wanted to give it to Twisty, because, well, just look at him. But then we learned his backstory and I reconsidered. Twisty was once just a normal clown who genuinely enjoyed making kids happy. He may have been manipulated by bad circumstances into becoming a homicidal maniac, but it came from a good place. All thing considered, Twisty only scores a 24.
Then there’s Dandy. Dandy probably displayed psychopathic tendencies before he could talk. He’s a perpetual child who is prone to boredom, manipulation, lack of remorse or guilt, and poor behavioral control. We know he tortures animals thanks to his maid (Patti LaBelle) and that he’s a parasite with no long term goals who has definitely committed misdemeanors early in life. These are alluded to by his mother (the fabulous Francis Conroy), but never spelled out, which really ups the terror factor. The only things on the test that don’t match up are the short term marital relationships, because he’s not married (and probably never will be) and the promiscuity. However, he does seem awfully interested in Dot and Bette, but considering he has them sleeping in his puppet theater, my guess is it's not for sexual reasons (a two headed puppet would be awesome).
Based on my calculations, Dandy comes in at the top of the list with a whopping 36. Bravo, Dandy. Mother would be proud. Thank you for being the most horrifying psychopath ever; I will see you in my nightmares.
My arms will hold them down when they struggle. My legs will run them down when they flee. I will be the U.S. Steel of murder.