After eight seasons, American Horror Story has captivated audiences with its storylines, characters, and everything in between. However, what most fans of the series may not know is that a lot of the major plot points and roles that the actors are portraying are based on true stories.
Season 1: American Horror Story: Murder House
Starting with Season 1, audiences were introduced to the AHS: Murder House, and some may remember a few nurses who were killed in said house. Creator and writer Ryan Murphy has stated that while the nurses in the show weren’t based on specific people, their murders were. In 1966, Richard Speck killed, raped and massacred eight nurses in a Chicago dorm.
He also added, “The masks I believe were modeled after Mayan death masks that we found.” And that is just the beginning when it comes to the creator grabbing storylines right from history book pages.
Season 2: American Horror Story: Asylum
In Season 2, TV viewers are taken inside an insane asylum, hence the title of the series, and were introduced to many interesting characters (we’re looking at you, Pepper). Remember the weird alien twist in asylum that left us all scratching our heads in the end? Well, on-screen couple Kit and Alma Walker were based off real-life interracial duo Barney and Betty Hill, who reported that they were abducted by aliens in 1961.
“The Betty and Barney Hill story of the fifties, sixties, was one of the first abduction stories,” producer Tim Minear told Entertainment Weekly. “It was an interracial couple, we weren’t taking from that specifically, but it was in the water, in our experience, the stories that we all knew. When Ryan first pitched out that first story, he pitched it in that order, and he was like, ‘And then we meet him at his farm, and then he’s abducted by aliens.’ And my jaw was on the floor, but it felt exactly right to me for the period.”
Season 3: American Horror Story: Coven
Ryan and the rest of his writing team definitely has a knack for implanting real-life story lines into the AHS franchise. When Season 3’s Coven aired, many non-historians may have found it crazy that the titular characters were based off of real-life people.
For example, one of the deadliest and scariest characters in Coven was Madame Delphine LaLaurie. Kathy Bates’ portrayal of the 19th century New Orleans socialite and murderer was hauntingly frightening. In her “Chamber of Horrors,” she would slaughter slaves and smear their blood on her face like it was her favorite moisturizer.
“What is so smart about it, to me, is that he’s called it American Horror Story. That’s because, in the midst of all of this kind of ghoulish entertainment that’s on one level, and on another level he’s unearthing the horrors of our own history,” Kathy said of her character. “That is such a clever way to spice up the soup. Genius, really.”
Season 4: American Horror Story: Freak Show
Though some may think Season 4’s Twisty the Clown was just an excuse for a cool Halloween costume, many may be surprised to learn that this killer clown was based on John Wayne Gacy. Gacy, whose stage name was Pogo the Clown, raped and killed 33 men between 1972 and 1978, before he was caught and eventually killed in 1994 by lethal injection.
Season 5: American Horror Story: Hotel
Everyone knows that Evan Peters is the name that is synonymous with the American Horror Story franchise. His portrayals of disturbed characters throughout the series has really shown he is not just a one-dimensional actor.
However, our favorite Evan’s AHS character (besides his portrayal as Tate Langdon in Murder House), would have to be his role as hotel owner James March in Season 5’s Hotel. The character was loosely based on the person many refer to as the world’s first serial killer, H.H. Holmes. With trapped doors and secret entrances, this horror hotel was not based off of Ryan’s imagination, but in actuality a Chicago hotel in the 1800’s nicknamed “The Castle.” If you found yourself inside its walls, rumor had it employees and guests were disappearing…
“When I met Evan he was 22, and now he’s 28, 29. I feel like he has wanted to play a darker, more mature character. I told him what I was thinking and the character is from the from the late ‘20s East Coast,” Ryan told EW of Evan’s Hotel role. “That character is very educated and at the time that meant he probably had gone overseas so there’s a little bit of that in there. I’m proud of him. He really has done his homework with that.
Season 6: American Horror Story: Roanoake
AHS: Roanoke had many moving parts to its plot line. Season 6 was based off of the historical colony of Roanoke that disappeared in the 16th century. The colonizers that came over and settled into what is now known as North Carolina were having a hard time surviving, so leader John White went back to England to ask for aid. Three years later, he returned to find his colony had vanished with only the word “Croatoan” carved on a fence. Many theories have surfaced throughout the years, and in true AHS fashion, Ryan put his own twist on an old-fashioned ghost story.
Season 7: American Horror Story: Cult
While many of AHS’ storylines have been rooted in the past, Season 7 took a turn and was set in present day. Specifically, the fact that Hilary Clinton lost her presidency campaign. Though the story of course had murder, violence, and a people-being-brainwashed twist, TV viewers made the connection between AHS and a real-life 2018 society.
However, Ryan made it very clear it was not just about the two politicians. “It’s about somebody with the wherewithal to put their finger up to the wind and see that that’s what happening and using that to rise up and form power. And use people’s vulnerabilities about how they’re feeling afraid… and they feel like the world is on fire,” he explained at the time.
So, what is American Horror Story Season 8 about?
We all know that Ryan and the rest of the cast like to keep tight-lipped regarding the premise of the upcoming season. However, we do know that Season 8 will bring back some familiar faces. We are not just talking about recurring actors coming back for the upcoming installment, no. What we mean is that characters from previous seasons will be embedded into this storyline.
Fans of the FX series will see the return of major characters from Murder House and Coven. And yes, that means our favorite Evan Peters character Tate Langdon will be in the new installment. And Jessica Lange is also making her big return to the franchise. Plus, Emma Roberts’ Madison Montgomery will also come back from the dead. Though some may be scratching their heads as to how this crossover will happen, don’t fret. Many of the lead actors, such as Sarah Paulson, will be tackling two roles.
Therefore, with the crossover season that everyone has been waiting for, it’s hard to pinpoint the major plot line of this season, other than the fact it will be magical… and most definitely gory. “The story begins with the end of the world and then our world begins,” executive producer Alexis Martin Woodall teased last month.
Catch the premiere of AHS: Apocalypse tonight on FX at 10 p.m. EST.