Although American Horror Story is an anthology series, meaning there is a different storyline in each season, there are several threads, themes, and hidden Easter eggs that tie all the seasons together. These include locations, characters, and clever references scattered throughout the stories and timelines. But the thing is, unless you are watching each episode closely (and not playing on your phone at the same time) you might easily miss these connections, as some of them are not that obvious. But every season of AHS connects to a previous season somehow, you just need to look deeper.
Often the creators play with foreshadowing too, adding little clues about future events or warnings about things to come, and these only really make sense much later on. This is an excellent excuse for an AHS binge (to see what you might have missed), but we’re guessing you probably didn’t need an excuse anyway!
So even if you’re a massive fan (and if you’re reading this, we’re guessing that’s the case), the person who knows every character, storyline, and backstory, you’ve more than likely missed a few of these connections. And for that, we’ve come to the rescue.
Here are 15 American Horror Story Easter eggs, connections, and theories you might have overlooked:
15. Are All The Seasons Leading Up To One Huge Connection?
Have you considered whether or not American Horror Story is still somehow unfolding, preparing for a reveal that’s going to blow us all away? With these guys, anything is possible! One theory is that every season represents one or more of the seven deadly sins, the levels of Hell as described by Dante in his work Inferno, or one of the Ten Commandments. The “levels of Hell” theory is one of Ryan Murphy’s favorites, so much so that he tweeted about it in July this year, sending his fans into a theorizing frenzy. The show has been greenlit for an eighth and ninth season, which lends credence to this idea. When Sarah Paulson, the shows leading lady, was asked about the main connection between seasons she said, “You’re not wrong, but you’re missing something super symbolic.” Could this be it?
14. Did You Understand The Rabbit Reference In Asylum?
During episode two, The Coat Hanger, of Asylum, Sister Mary Eunice says “The bad news, the rabbit died.” Most people don’t understand what this reference means and think that she’s referring to an unborn fetus, but that’s not the case. Here’s where the reference actually comes from, you can thank us for the free mini history lesson later.
Back in 1927, before we had corner stores with cheap pregnancy tests, the Aschheim-Zondek test was developed as a way to determine pregnancy. It was also referred to as the rabbit test, for those who had difficulty pronouncing “Aschheim-Zondek”. This test involved injecting a woman’s urine into a mouse or a rabbit and then observing the creature’s reproductive organs during its autopsy. Because all the animals had to die to get the results, the misconception was born that the animal died when injected with a pregnant woman’s urine, which led to the phrase “the rabbit died” as a euphemism for a positive pregnancy test. Now you know!
13. Are These Name Connections Intentional Or Just A Coincidence?
It’s not just Sister Jude who likes to play the Name Game. Character names are often used to link the seasons together. There are obvious ones, like Dandy and Gloria Mott from Freak Show and Edward Mott from Roanoke, but also a few you might not have picked up on. Let’s begin with the meanest witch in Coven, Madison Montgomery. Did her name sound familiar? It should. Montgomery was also the surname of the wretched doctor from Murder House. Was this intentional?
What about the name Jack Colquitt? It pops up twice in the world of AHS, and that can’t be a coincidence. Detective Colquitt visits Dr. Harmon in Murder House about a missing patient and then (decades before in the timeline) we see another Detective Jack Colquitt investigating a missing police officer in Freak Show. Should we expect him to reappear again?
12. All The Music For Freak Show Was Carefully Chosen For One Reason
When a show is as successful as American Horror Story, you’ve got to know that it’s going to have haters as well. You know the people we’re talking about, right? The ones who profess to despise the show, but still care enough to watch it and make comments about what they think is “wrong” with it.
Freak Show was at the center of such an attack, mainly due to the music used in the season. The storyline was set in the 1950’s, but the music used throughout the show came from a much later period. When the haters noticed this they jumped in to protest. This is called anachronism, when you attribute something to a period it does not actually belong to. Ryan Murphy later explained that this was intentional, he used the music of artists like David Bowie, Lana Del Rey, and Nirvana because they were all considered (either by themselves or by others) to be freaks or outsiders, just like the characters from the Freak Show.
11. Billie Dean Howard Mentioned The Lost Colony Of Roanoke In Season One
You couldn’t have failed to spot the connection between Dandy Mott from Freak Show and Roanoke’s Edward Philippe Mott right? Dandy was one of Edward’s descendants and as Gloria Mott reveals, their family line was always plagued with madness. Even though Edward gets killed by The Butcher, the backstory tells us that before he decided to build the house in North Carolina he had a wife, and more importantly, an heir. This connection was quite easy, but you may not be aware that Roanoke was foreshadowed in the very first season of the show. In Murder House, Billie Dean Howard tells the story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke and speaks about the significance of the word “Croatoan”. This means that Ryan Murphy planted the seeds for My Roanoke Nightmare years in advance, which is impressive, to say the least.
10. The Red Sox Easter Egg
Now, if you are not a jock or at least a baseball fan, then chances are this Easter egg went right over your head.
In Murder House, Tate Langdon was a high school shooter who died in a gunfight with members of the SWAT team. Of the 15 students who were shot and killed by Tate Langdon, several of them shared surnames with the members of the 1986 Boston Red Sox team, including Boggs, Stapleton, Gedman, Stanley, and Greenwell. There were also two students named Jason Mueller and Michael Rivera, a nod to the players Mueller and Rivera from the historic matchup between the Red Sox and the New York Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series. As you’ve probably guessed by now, executive producer Brad Falchuk is a huge Boston Red Sox fan.
9. Did You Catch The Countess’ Link To Murder House?
For season five, the show brought in Lady Gaga to play the role of Elizabeth AKA The Countess. She was the perfect fit for the glamorous character and fans were blown away by her portrayal of a vampire. In her backstory, we learn that she married James March as means to acquire wealth after her lover (and creator) fakes his own suicide, and gets locked away by March deep within the hotel. Hidden within this backstory is a link to the very first season of AHS. Elizabeth visited Dr. Charles Montgomery at the Murder House to get an abortion, which as we know was unsuccessful. This resulted in the birth of her son Bartholomew, who exists in a state of perpetual infancy and resides in Room 33 of the Cortez.
8. Mommy Issues
Another common thread which winds itself throughout the show is that characters have dysfunctional relationships with their parents. In Murder House Constance was a neglectful mother to her children, Addie and Tate, and in Asylum part of the reason for Dr. Thredson’s insanity stems from his own maternal abandonment issues. In Coven Cordelia and her husband long to have children, and Cordelia has a strained relationship with her own mother, Fiona. Season four kicks off by showing us the tension between Bette and Dot and their mother, who feels ashamed of them and, of course, this season also featured Gloria and Dandy Mott. In Hotel, Iris is an overbearing mother to her son while The Countess keeps her own deformed baby in isolation. Lee Harris from Roanoke loved her daughters but ended up hurting them, and in Cult Kai has a difficult relationship with both his parents.
7. Was Edward Mordrake Real?
There are plenty of articles about the characters of American Horror Story floating around on the Internet, and if you believe everything you read (which you hopefully don’t) you might have been told that Edward Mordrake was a real person. Mordrake, who was featured in Freak Show is depicted as an English man born with an extra face at the back of his head, which whispered to him and eventually drove him to kill himself. In the AHS universe, he returns each Halloween and always takes another soul back with him to Hell.
But was Edward Mordrake a real person? Today we know that deformities like this can occur, but the truth is Mordrake was first mentioned by a fiction writer who also described a man born with the body of a spider and a woman who had a fishtail. So he really might just be nothing more than an urban legend.
6. The Dark History Of The Dominique Song
Nothing about AHS is as simple as you think. Remember that song Dominique from Asylum? The one that Sister Jude insists on constantly playing on repeat in the common room? The one that made you think “if the patients weren’t mad before they arrived, they certainly will be after listening to that a few thousand times”? Well, it wasn’t chosen by accident, this song also has a dark history.
The song, which is still the only Belgian number one hit single to appear on the American Billboard charts, was recorded by a woman named Jeannine Deckers and although it was a top-selling song, it was the first and last hit she ever had. She never again managed to reach the same level of success and the song lead to such terrible financial and tax problems that she killed herself just two years after its release.
5. Running Rules Of American Horror Story
Series creator Ryan Murphy has confirmed that Cult will not feature any supernatural elements, which makes this the first season in the show’s history to do so. Every season of the show so far has included either ghosts, aliens, vampires, witchcraft, psychics, possession, or magic, all built around the running rules of the American Horror Story universe. For example, in this world ghosts are subject to specific rules; they are bound to the location that they died in and can have interactions with the living if they chose to do so. They can also only move around on Devil’s Night. Sometimes the ghosts appear with the injuries they died from, but other times they appear to look normal. We’ve come to associate AHS with the supernatural, but of course, with Cult, the creators have twisted things up again.
4. Special Guests At The Hotel Cortez
Hotel was packed with cameos of characters from previous seasons. The first was the realtor Marcy, you remember her? She was the one who sold the Harmons the Murder House without mentioning it’s gruesome history. She popped up again as a guest at the Hotel Cortez, but like so many of the guests, she meets a sticky end. After hearing a loud banging on her door, she opens it and finds Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova, who attack her and drink her blood. She ends up as a ghost, trapped in the hotel for eternity. The second character to appear was Queenie from Coven, who also unknowingly checks into the hotel. Although she’s a powerful witch, her skills are no match for the ghost of James Patrick March, who finishes her off.
3. The Geraldo Rivera Reference
AHS often uses real-life people and true events to model their story, such as the Black Dahlia case from Murder House, which still remains unsolved. But one of the most direct lifts occurred in Asylum, and it had to do with the intrepid Lana Winters. During her expose on the shocking conditions at Briarcliff Manor she says, “These images and sounds are far more powerful than any words that can be spoken. But how can I describe to you the way it smells? It reeks of filth, of disease. It smells of death,” which are strikingly similar to the words Geraldo Rivera used in his 1972 documentary on Willowbrook State School. In his expose, he said, “This is what it looked like, this is what it sounded like, but how can I tell you about the way it smelled? It smelled of filth, it smelled of disease, and it smelled of death.”
2. Location Connections
Have you picked out the location connections between seasons? Firstly, there’s Florida. Vivian Harmon from Murder House mentions that she has relatives who live in Florida, and Freak Show takes place in Jupiter, Florida. Then there’s Los Angeles; the Harmon’s move to Los Angeles, the Hotel Cortez was in Los Angeles, and the Millers from Roanoke moved to North Carolina from Los Angeles. Lastly, there’s Massachusetts. The Harmon’s move from Boston in Murder House and Asylum’s Briarcliff Manor is located in Massachusetts. Before Pepper was framed and sent to Briarcliff she was living with her sister in Massachusetts, and the Salem Witch Trials mentioned in Coven also took place here. James Patrick March is believed to have a Boston Braham accent and Elsa Mars used to work in a Boston circus.
1. Sarah Paulson: Cross-Over Queen
Sarah Paulson is unquestionably the star of American Horror Story and the only actress confirmed so far for season 8 of the show (2018). Her characters link several seasons together. In season one she played the role of psychic Billy Dean Howard, and in season 5 she reprised this role, visiting the Hotel Cortez to help Liz communicate with the recently deceased Tristan. Her character Lana Winters was the lead character of Asylum and in Roanoke she made another appearance, this time interviewing Lee Harris on her new talk show. While there are several other cast members who have portrayed the same character in different seasons, Paulson is the only cast member to have done so more than once; portraying nine characters over seven seasons.
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