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Pepper is a microcephalic woman that has been committed to Briarcliff Manor. She is a supporting character in American Horror Story portrayed by Naomi Grossman. She appears first in Asylum, and earlier in life in Freak Show.


As described by Sister Mary Eunice, Pepper is anything but harmless. Prior to her commitment, she was convicted of drowning her sister's baby and cutting off his ears.[2] She later refutes this to Arthur Arden.[3]

Personality and appearance

She seems gentle and playful, but has been accused of a violent crime.

During the course of Asylum, she is abducted by Extraterrestrials and returned significantly altered. Her intelligence is augmented significantly.

In Asylum

  • Welcome to Briarcliff - When Lana Winters first arrives at Briarcliff, Pepper hands her a flower, saying "Play with me!" Sister Mary Eunice asks Pepper to leave Lana alone, but Lana insists that Pepper is just trying to make friends. Mary informs Lana that she is anything but harmless, having drowned her sister's baby and cut off his ears. Pepper can later be seen chanting "Fight!" during the brawl between Spivey and Kit Walker.
  • Tricks and Treats - Pepper is chastised by Sister Jude for hoarding food in her cell. When quizzed about the purpose of this rule she gleefully replies, "Rats!"
  • Nor'easter - During movie night, Pepper leaves the common room in a hurry to pee. She doesn't return in time to prevent Sr. Jude from mistaking her for one of the three escapees.
  • The Coat Hanger - Pepper reappears in a cell following the bright lights and the arrival of the aliens, where she tells Dr. Arden that she will take care of the pregnant Grace, who has miraculously been revived. 
  • The Name Game - Pepper has been charged with Grace's protection, claiming that Arden's experiments couldn't impair the child's safety. Pepper claims that she was falsely accused with murdering and mutilating her nephew. It is believed that the humanoids have given significant augmentation to her intelligence. She also seems to have information regarding the humanoids.
  • Spilt Milk - Pepper is seen alongside Grace when Oliver Thredson comes into the common room. Pepper defends her charge and tells Thredson that she knows what he is really up to. Thredson tells the orderlies in the room to take Pepper in for hydrotherapy.
  • Continuum - Pepper and Jude become friends and look out for each other after Kit and Lana leave Briarcliff.  Two years later Jude has forgotten most of what happened and is informed that Pepper had passed away in the Winter of 1966.

In Freak Show

  • Monsters Among Us - Pepper polishes Elsa's nails while Salty files Elsa's nails as she has a conversation with Ethel and helps cleans the table after the group eats their meal before the first performance
  • Massacres and Matinees: She is seen walking into a crowded diner in broad daylight with her fellow performer and order meatloaf. She also witnesses the fight between Dell Toledo and his son Jimmy Darling outside the diner. She also presents when Meep is wrongfully arrested and his body was dumped in front of the freak show.
  • Edward Mordrake: Part 1: Pepper is seen dressed in a mask and a cape while running around with Salty in the background. They were giggling cheerfully while throwing hay at each other before hearing about Edward Mordrake.
  • Edward Mordrake: Part 2: During Edward Mordrake's visit, he finds Pepper and Salty playing on the stage, swinging around ribbon wands. Pepper looks down to Edward Mordrake and says "play with us!" Mordrake decides that Pepper and Salty are too innocent and "they have no shame" to share with his demon head. In the end of the episode, the people from all over town come to thank Jimmy for saving the town from the killer clown, Twisty. A woman is shown handing Pepper a large plate of meatloaf during the time of the gathering.
  • Pink Cupcakes: Right as the show starts, Pepper is seen running to the rescue along with Amazon Eve, Ethel and Salty when Desiree is bleeding. She screams "blood! blood!" Later, Pepper is hitting Salty with a giant hammer during their Pinhead performance in the Freak Show.
  • Bullseye: As Elsa is knife-throwing, she pictures the dummy on the wheel as Maggie, Jimmy, and Pepper. Pepper shrieks as the knife almost pierces her. Pepper is later observed watching Elsa open her birthday gifts. Later, after word goes round that Elsa may have played a part in the disappearance of the twins, Elsa goes on a shouting rampage. Pepper and Salty are one of the many who get scolded by Elsa. Pepper is shaking and almost in tears by her yelling and insults.
  • Test of Strength: Pepper is heard beckoning, "Miss Elsa!" She then gives Elsa a letter. She takes Elsa's glass and goes to get her another one. She returns with a refill for Elsa.
  • Blood Bath: Pepper is showing pulling Ma Petite across the stage in a mini-carriage during a flashback, with the crowd roaring. During the funeral ceremony for Ethel, Pepper is shown mourning around the grave, along with her fellow freaks.
  • Tupperware Party Massacre: Pepper is shown watching as Jimmy is abducted by the police.
  • Orphans: Pepper becomes distraught when Salty dies of an apparent stroke. Elsa decides that she must find her a new home where she can be loved. She revealed to Desiree that Pepper was her first freak. Pepper was abandoned by her sister at an orphanage, and later adopted by Elsa. Elsa noticed she wanted to have a family, so she brought Ma Petite and Salty to fill the roles of a child and husband, respectively. In order to make her happy after Salty dies, Elsa takes her back to her sister, who reluctantly takes her in. Ten years later, her sister has a deformed baby, who Pepper takes care of. However, her sister and brother-in-law, Larry, grow sick of Pepper and the baby. Larry killed the baby framed Pepper for the crime. Pepper was then committed to the Briarcliff Manor asylum.


  • Pepper (Asylum): "Play with me!"
  • Pepper (Freak Show): "Stay!"
  • Pepper (Freak Show): "Meat loaf!"


  • Pepper is the first character to be featured in more than one season (the second was Sister Mary Eunice). She was first featured in Asylum and returned in Freak Show; although she died in Asylum, Freak Show is a prequel.
    • It was confirmed conclusively in Orphans that Pepper was the same character in each season.
  • An unidentified person affiliated with American Horror Story had stated prior to Freak Show that each story was in a discrete universe, befitting an anthology. If this was indeed the case before then it is no longer.
    "This is the first year where we begin to tell you that season two is connected to season four which is connected to season one."
  • Pepper's augmentation in The Coat Hanger and later is similar to scenarios in Flowers for Algernon and other works.
  • In The Coat Hanger, Pepper stated "that's what happens to us Freaks" which could be taken as a reference or clue to Freak Show.

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. Episode: Continuum
  2. Episode: Welcome to Briarcliff
  3. Episode: The Name Game

Start a Discussion Discussions about Pepper


    19 messages
    • Ryan Murphy has said that they are all connected but they are only now starting to show how they are all connected.[[1]] throughout the seri...
    • And such is being developed. see American Horror Story/Timeline. It is being merged in a staged way to accomodate this.
  • Flowers for Pepper

    16 messages
    • Ah. Forgive me, I wasn't particularly familiar with Pepper's condition. I thought the physical and psychological aspects were separate - i.e., ...
    • There's little doubt that she has suffered maltreatment. It probably affected her psychologically and led to the infanticide.

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