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10 Real-Life People Who Inspired Characters on American Horror Story

7. In American Horror Story: Hotel, actress Lily Rabe portrayed a fictionalized version of serial killer and prostitute, Aileen Wuornos, who murdered seven men in Florida in 1989 and 1990 by shooting them at point-blank range. 

Aileen Wuornos
Lily Rabe in Hotel (Image to the left), Aileen Carol “Lee” Wuornos an American serial killer. Image credits: 20th television, channel4

If you have seen the 2003 film, Monster, you probably already know who Aileen Wuornos is. However, a fictionalized version of her appears on American Horror Story: Hotel as well.

Aileen Carol “Lee” Wuornos was a sex worker and serial killer who killed seven men between 1989 and 1990. All of her victims were shot at point-blank range, and Wuornos claimed that she committed the murders in self-defense when the victims raped her or tried to rape her while soliciting sex from her.

Born in 1956 to a 17-year-old single mother, Wuornos had a tough life. Her mother abandoned her when she was four years old, and she was adopted by her alcoholic grandparents. Her grandfather beat her and sexually assaulted her when she was a child, and she engaged in sexual activities with her brother.


By age 11, she began performing sexual acts in school in exchange for food, drugs, and cigarettes. At age 14, Wuornos became pregnant after her grandfather’s accomplice raped her.

Shortly after her child was born and given up for adoption, Wuornos was kicked out of the house, and she began living in the woods near her home and supporting herself as a prostitute. Prior to committing the murders, Wuornos was arrested a few times and already had a criminal record.

Then, within a period of 12 months, she killed seven men in Florida. Her first victim was a convicted rapist, and she claims that she killed him in self-defense after he brutally beat her and sodomized her. Wuornos was sentenced to death for six of the murders. She was executed by lethal injection in 2002. (1, 2)

8. Sisters Miranda and Bridget Jane, characters on American Horror Story: Roanoke, were based on Gwendolyn Graham and Cathy Wood, two serial killers who were convicted of killing five elderly women in 1987.

Gwendolyn and Cathy
Miranda and Bridget Jane in Roanoke (Image to the left), Gwendolyn Graham and Cathy Wood mug shots. Image credits: 20th television, Wikipedia

Sisters Miranda and Bridget Jane on American Horror Story: Roanoke are two sadistic nurses who killed a total of five patients in various, gruesome ways. The characters were inspired by two real-life serial killers named Gwendolyn Graham and Cathy Wood.

They met at the Alpine Manor nursing home where they both worked as nurse’s aides. The two women quickly became friends and later turned into lovers.


While working at the nursing home, Graham and wood killed five elderly women. In one instance, Graham used a washcloth to smother a woman who had Alzheimer’s disease, while Wood served as her lookout. The elderly woman was unable to fight back and became the pair’s first victim.

Over the next months, the duo killed four more patients who ranged in age from 65 to 97. All the victims had Alzheimer’s disease, and Wood later testified that selecting the victims was sort of a game. They tried to choose victims by their initials, which would spell M-U-R-D-E-R.

In 1989, Graham was given five life sentences after being found guilty of five counts of murder. Wood was charged with second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. She was released from prison in 2020. (1, 2)

9. Countess Elizabeth, portrayed by Lady Gaga in American Horror Story: Hotel, is based heavily on Elizabeth Báthory. She is the most prolific female murderer according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Báthory was accused of torturing and killing hundreds of young girls and women between 1590 and 1610.

Elizabeth Báthory
Lady Gaga in Hotel (Image to the left), Elizabeth Báthory- a 16th-century serial killer. Image credits: 20th television, ancient-origins

In American Horror Story: Hotel, Lady Gaga played the role of Countess Elizabeth, who is the glamorous owner of the Hotel Cortez. While Gaga’s character on the show is quite scary, it is no match for Elizabeth Bathory, whom the character is based on.

Born in 1560, Elizabeth Báthory was a Hungarian noblewoman who practiced vampirism on young women and girls. Labeled as the Guinness Book of World Records‘ most prolific female murderer, Báthory is thought to have tortured and killed as many as 600 virgins so that she could drink their blood and bathe in it in an effort to preserve her youth.

She committed these crimes between 1590 and 1610 with the help of four collaborators, and the accounts of her sadistic murders have been verified by testimony given by over 300 survivors and witnesses. Authorities even found physical evidence as well as horribly mutilated, dying, dead, or imprisoned girls at the time of her arrest. (1, 2)

10. H.H. Holmes was a 19th-century serial killer who opened a hotel with the sole intention of torturing and murdering people. The World’s Fair Hotel, also known as “The Murder Castle,” soundproofed rooms, mazes of hallways, gas chambers, and a basement full of quicklime, acid vats, and a crematorium for disposal of bodies. The character of Mr. March in American Horror Story: Hotel was based on Holmes.

H.H Holmes
Mr. March in Hotel (Image to the left), H.H. Holmes  – A serial killer who opened a hotel “The Murder Castle”. Image credits: 20th television,

Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as H. H. Holmes, was a sadistic serial killer who is thought to have killed as many as 200 people in the 19th century.

He opened a mixed-use building in Chicago to carry out his criminal deeds there. The building contained a hotel named World’s Fair Hotel, which later came to be known as “The Murder Castle.”

Holmes carefully designed and constructed the building to make it the perfect spot for committing murders. The hotel had three stories and a basement. The first floor had a storefront, while the second floor had elaborated torture rooms with a chute that led directly to the basement. There were more apartments on the third floor.


The hotel also had soundproofed rooms and mazes of hallways, many of which led nowhere. In the basement, there was a crematorium and Holmes also kept quicklime and acid vats, which were used to dispose of the victims’ bodies.

When police officers inspected the hotel, they found rooms with false partitions, hinged walls, secret passageways, and gas chambers.

Although Holmes confessed to committing 27 murders, he was convicted and sentenced for only one. In American Horror Story: Hotel, the character of Mr. March, played by Evan Peters, was based on Holmes. (1, 2)

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