FX's American Horror Story has been a horror TV staple since 2011, and its concepts have explored numerous aspects of horror history and bringing their tropes to the small screen.
Show-runner Ryan Murphy has gained a cult following by recycling his favorite actors throughout the anthology and testing their chops in a variety of different environments. Where other TV series have a tendency to get stale after a few seasons, there's always something fresh on the horizon with American Horror Story.
Having just wrapped its ninth season, AHS: 1984, fans are already keenly speculating about what might be the theme of the series' landmark tenth season. Since Murphy tends to keep things pretty tightly under wraps, it will likely be a while before that information is revealed. Here's a look back at the last nine seasons of American Horror Story.
American Horror Story: Murder House
Murder House followed the doomed Harmon family - Ben (Dylan McDermott), Vivian (Connie Britton), and Violet (Taissa Farmiga) - after they decided to uproot their family from Boston for a change of pace in California. Dr. Ben Harmon, the family's patriarch, sets up his psychiatry practice within the beautiful old Victorian home they've purchased for their fresh start. The house itself is a burial ground where restless spirits who have been consumed by the evil within don't ever leave the property. Jessica Lange rounds out this fantastic ensemble cast as Tate's eccentric mother, Constance, who has more than a few secrets inside the house of her very own.
American Horror Story: Asylum
One of the most critically acclaimed and award-winning seasons of the show, Asylum took audiences to Briarcliff Manor, a Catholic-run mental institution in the 1960s. Run by Sister Jude (Jessica Lange), this season played with multiple timelines, following characters' stories (and fates) before, during, and after their days at Briarcliff. Alien abductions, human medical experiments, racism, homophobia, and demonic possession are only a few of the categories within the genre that are explored during Asylum. It may sound like a lot, perhaps even excessive, but Murphy and his phenomenal cast handle each aspect with a deft hand that allows it all to blend together rather seamlessly.
American Horror Story: Coven
Where the previous two seasons focused more on the depths of horror, Coven was a breath of fresh air in many ways, morphing into a pitch-black comedy with horror elements. Film legends Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates both made their appearance in this season. It explored witchcraft, voodoo magic, and the terrifying aspects of mother/daughter relationships along with the darkest parts of New Orleans' history, which serves as the season's backdrop. This season was so popular with fans that Murphy decided to bring it back for the show's first crossover alongside Murder House.
American Horror Story: Freak Show
Freak Show is commonly cited as the season where AHS 'jumped the shark.' Not only was this Jessica Lange's last, but it featured numerous musical numbers in a strange throwback to Murphy's work on Glee. Set in Jupiter, Florida during the 1950s, Freak Show explores the darker side of show business. Despite the season's principle cast performing as characters with major physical deformities, including a bearded lady, a giant, a strongman, conjoined twins, and the 'Lobster Boy', the trope this season leans on is that the real monsters of the world wear very human, very normal faces.
American Horror Story: Hotel
After Lange's departure from the series, it was announced that Lady Gaga would be taking the helm in the show's fifth season, Hotel. Combining the real-life story of notorious serial killer H.H. Holmes with the legends that surround a Los Angeles hotel, The Cecil, Hotel featured the seven deadly sins, more restless spirits, serial killers, vampire children, and much more. It didn't manage to blend all these aspects as seamlessly as Asylum, but the stylistic aspect and overall aesthetic of this season was a cut above the rest.
American Horror Story: Roanoke
Roanoke was where Murphy tried to save the series by adding multiple plot twists and embracing the meta. Originally formatted like a paranormal documentary series that turns into a real-life nightmare when, again, violent spirits of lost members of the Roanoke colony come to call cause troubles for cast and crew alike. In many ways, this season's tone reprised the first two seasons by bringing back the darker aspect, so it didn't need to rely much on gimmick. Bloody violence and more traditional horror aspects reminded many viewers that sometimes, simpler is better.
American Horror Story: Cult
Cult came hot on the heels of the US Presidential Election in 2016 and explored not only the cult mentality, but touched on mental illness and the rise of hatred and violence in America. Widely controversial because it reflected clear political opinions from Murphy and company. Though disjointed, the season did feature some outstanding performances from Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters, who got a chance to play many infamous cult leaders including Jim Jones and Charles Manson throughout the course of the season.
American Horror Story: Apocalypse
Apocalypse was marketed heavily because it was the crossover season that fans of the series had been teased about for a very long time. Connecting the timelines of Murder House and Coven, this season saw many fan-favorite characters and actors (including Jessica Lange) return for a reprisal. Set during an apocalyptic wasteland, the witches from Coven join forces once more to overthrow Michael, who is the child from the end of Murder House who becomes the literal Antichrist.