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Leigh Emerson

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I knew who deserved to live and who deserved to die, who was naughty, who was nice.
~ To Sister Mary Eunice

Leigh Emerson is a sociopathic spree killer turned serial and a villain in the TV series American Horror Story: Asylum. He was a patient at Briarcliff Sanitarium and the quaternary antagonist.

He is portrayed by Ian McShane who also voiced Tai Lung and played Blackbeard.


He was a petty criminal sentenced to prison for stealing a loaf of bread. In his cell on Christmas Eve, while the guards were caroling, he was raped by five men. On December 19, 1962, he killed 18 people from five different families as well as a Santa Claus collecting charity. In December 1963, now committed at Briarcliff Sanitarium, he attacked an orderly named Sean during a holiday photo shoot, prompting his year-long stay in solitary and Sr. Jude's banishment of further Christmas celebrations.


In 1964, "Unholy Night", the possessed Sister Mary Eunice releases him from his solitary cell and has him dress up as Santa for the no longer verboten Christmas party. There he makes a lewd suggestion to another inmate that is sitting in his lap before knocking Frank from a ladder and attacking him. He is subdued by Frank and sent back to solitary.

He is sent to Sr. Jude's office by Arthur Arden and Sr. Mary Eunice. He pushes Jude against a desk and canes her before throwing her on the bed and attempting to rape her. Jude, however, stabs Leigh in the neck with a sharp letter opener that she grabbed off the desk during her caning.

Leigh, however, survives the murder attempt and helps to frame Sr. Jude for the murder of Frank McCann along with Sr. Mary Eunice and Dr. Arden. Leigh begins acting like a man seeking forgiveness, and is escorted by The Monsignor to Sr. Jude's cell where he tells her he forgives her and kisses her forehead. While in the sanctuary, he prays and thanks The Monsignor for the chance at redemption. After being baptized, he dunks the Monsignor's head into the tank. He then nails The Monsignor to the cross in the place of Jesus.

In the weeks following his escape, Emerson remains at large, a criminal hunted in five states. During his spree he apparently murdered seven nuns, prompting Lana Winters to contemplate a volume on his exploits entitled Santa and the Seven Nuns.


What do you say we blow this pop stand, go savage a few elves, and then suck on each other?
~ To a woman on his lap
I'd put the lion-share-blame on that sexy little sister. She really doesn't like you.
~ To Sister Jude
There is no God, but there is a Santa Claus!
~ To Sister Jude
I feel like new man.
~ To Monsignor Timothy Howard

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