Ryan Murphy claims his intention all along was for every season of American Horror Story to connect. This may or may not be true — the first season only got a subtitle, Murder House, once the show was a huge hit — but it’s his story, and he’s sticking by it. In 2014, Murphy said, “They’re all connected. There’s definitely a rhyme or a reason and a connectedness to all of these seasons… They’re all very separate but there are clues every season that we’re now telling you how the different worlds are intertwined.”
Viewers have spent years searching for all the connections, but Red Herry’s Jacqueline Bircher may have discovered the fan theory to end all fan theories. Bircher posits that AHS is the modern-day Dante’s Inferno. Your freshman English lit professor is furious, but it makes a certain sort of sense.
Every season takes place in a different single setting — Murder House, Asylum, Coven, Freak Show, and Hotel — the same way Inferno is broken up into unique Circles. We’re Dante; Murphy and co-creator Brad Falchuk are our guide, Virgil. However, “while each circle of Hell in the Inferno focuses on one of the seven deadly sins,” Bircher writes, “each season of American Horror Story tends to focus on more modern, Western versions of these ideas, as well as often addressing more than one at a time.” This could also explain why Murphy likes to reuse the same actors; they “represent a single soul” being continually punished throughout time for their sins.
It’s slightly out of order, too. For example, Murder House is largely concerned with Lust, while Asylum is about Fraud. Treachery remains rampant in Coven, though not as much as Greed and Gluttony in Freak Show and Hotel (TV Guide has an in-depth breakdown for each season/circle). That just leaves Limbo, Heresy, Violence, and Anger, which could signal four more seasons of American Horror Story.
For some, that’s hell; for others, it’s heaven.