50+ Fun Facts About the ‘American Horror Story’ Universe


Twisty the Clown is one of the creepiest characters in the American Horror Story universe.

American Horror Story is a beloved horror anthology TV series that has been running since 2011. Each season features a different themed story arc set within the same universe. The parts are often played by the same group of actors with Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters and Lily Rabe having appeared in the most seasons. Frances Conroy, Denis O’Hare, Emma Roberts, Billie Lourd, Leslie Grossman, Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Adina Porter, Finn Wittrock and Jamie Brewer are also regulars who have appeared in multiple seasons.

Jessica Lange won a Primetime Emmy Award for playing Fiona Goode in American Horror Story: Coven.

In addition to casting the same actors in different roles, the American Horror Story universe is known for its creepy title sequences, salacious storylines and teasing out each season’s theme for fans to guess.

American Horror Story has lead to a companion series, American Crime Story, and a spin-off, American Horror Stories. Crime Story dramatizes one true crime case per season with The People v. O. J. Simpson, The Assassination of Gianni Versace and Impeachment having aired and a fourth season, Studio 54, in development. American Horror Stories is more similar to the original AHS concept, but features a different story (and cast) in each episode instead of each season. Series co-creator Ryan Murphy has also partnered with his American Horror Story stars Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters for unrelated series Ratched (2020) and Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (2022).

This list catalogs easter eggs and fun facts about the American Horror Story universe that fans may have missed just watching the series.

Table of Contents

The American Horror Story Universe

  • Series creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk first started working on American Horror Story while their show Glee (2009-2015) was in pre-production.
  • Growing up, Ryan Murphy’s grandmother made him watch the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, which he says inspired the overall tone of AHS. Murphy has also cited as inspiration: Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Don’t Look Now (1973), The Amityville Horror (1979), and The Shining (1980).
  • Ryan Murphy has tried to get Reese Witherspoon and Michelle Pfeiffer to guest star in American Horror Story multiple times.
  • Various horror movie soundtracks can be heard in American Horror Story including Psycho (1960), Carrie (1976), Candyman (1992), Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) and Insidious (2010).
  • American Horror Story promos sometimes have fake footage in order to mislead fans and prevent spoilers.
  • One fan theory is that like Roanoke, the entire show is a docuseries, which would explain why the same actors play different characters.

Murder House (2011)

Connie Britton with the titular “murder house” in the background.
  • The real life inspiration for this season is the Columbine school shooting and the Elizabeth Short/Black Dahlia murder.
  • Connie Britton was the first actor cast of all the American Horror Story actors.
  • The season was mostly shot on sets, but the pilot and future exterior shots used the the Rosenheim Mansion in Los Angeles. The home was sold in 2015 and the buyers sued the sellers a few years later for not disclosing that the home had appeared on American Horror Story and thus was a tourist destination.
  • The Rosenheim Mansion has also been used in shows like The Twilight Zone (1959), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1999), Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order and The X-Files, among others.
  • Many of the ghosts from Tate’s high school classmates are named after Boston Red Sox players: Boggs, Greenwell, Stanley, Stapleton, and Gedman.
  • Evan Peters had to cover his body in KY jelly in order to fit in the Rubber Man costume.
  • One of Ben Harmon’s patients mentions fearing the “Piggy Man”, later in Roanoke a killer dons a pig mask.

Asylum (2012-2013)

Sarah Paulson as Nellie Bly.
  • Sarah Paulson’s character, Lana Winters, is based on real life reporter Nellie Bly, a pioneer of investigative journalism who really did go undercover by being admitted to a psychiatric institution in order to report on conditions real patients faced.
  • Asylum director Dr. Arden (played by James Cromwell) was inspired by Josef Mengele, a Nazi who experimented on prisoners at Auschwitz. Mengele was known as the “Angel of Death” and volunteered for extra “selection” duty in which he would decide which arriving prisoners would be used for labor and which would be put to death.
  • The characters of Alma And Kit Walker were inspired by real life (alleged) alien abductees Betty and Barney Hill.
  • The horrors of the asylum were inspired by the real life Willowbrook State School, which was famously exposed by journalist Geraldo Rivera.
  • Margot Robbie auditioned for a role in Asylum.

Coven (2013-2014)

Coven is a fan favorite season of American Horror Story.
  • Kathy Bates character is based on the real Delphine LaLaurie, a New Orleans socialite who abused and murdered slaves in her French Quarter home.
  • Miss Robichaux’s Academy used the Buckner Mansion in New Orleans’ Garden District for filming. At one point the mansion was being rented out for $5,000 per night.
  • Connie Britton wanted a role in Coven but had other filming obligations.
  • Costars Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates were both in the running to play Annie Wilkes in Misery (1990). The role went to Bates, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her potrayal.
  • To stay in character as the tongue-less Spalding, Denis O’Hare refused to speak on set.
  • Danny Huston’s character was inspired by a real serial killer, known as the Axeman of New Orleans. In real life the killer bizarrely informed the public that he would not kill anyone who was playing jazz music.
  • Angela Bassett’s character, Marie Laveau, is a real person who was known as the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.
  • Emma Roberts’ character is named Madison Montgomery, hinting that she may be related to one time Murder House owners Charles (Matt Ross) and Nora Montgomery (Lily Rabe).
  • Sarah Paulson’s character has a portrait of picture of conjoined twins on her office wall, hinting at her next character in Freak Show.

Freak Show (2014-2015)

Daisy and Violet Hilton (left) were the inspiration for Sarah Paulson’s characters Bette and Dot Tattler (right).
  • The sadistic Twisty the Clown was inspired by real life serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
  • Sarah Paulson’s conjoined twin characters, Bette and Dot Tattler, were inspired by real life conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton who were sideshow and burlesque performers.
  • Ryan Murphy was also inspired by horror movies Freaks (1932) and Carnival of Souls (1962).
  • Naomi Grossman’s character Pepper originally appeared in Asylum and is also seen in Freak Show. This is the first character to appear in two seasons of AHS.
  • Jessica Lange says this is her favorite season.
  • The professional organization Clowns of America International criticized the character of Twisty the Clown for poorly portraying clowns.
  • Both Murder House and Freak Show have a detective character named detective Jack Colquitt.

Hotel (2015-2016)

Lady Gaga joined the cast for Hotel.
  • Evan Peters plays hotel owner James Patrick March. This character is inspired by serial killer H.H. Holmes, who build his own murder hotel in Chicago in the late 1800s.
  • The hotel location is also inspired by the real life Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles.
  • For filming, a six-story set was built on a lot at Fox.
  • Marcy the realtor (Christine Estabrook) from Murder House reprised her role in Hotel.
  • When Richard Ramirez checks into the hotel, he uses the name “Danielle Levesque” which was the name of one of Tate’s victims/classmates from Murder House.
  • Campfire Gold Coffee makes an appearance, Jessica Lange’s character did a commercial for them in Freak Show.

Roanoke (2016)

Cuba Gooding Jr. and Sarah Paulson worked on American Crime Story together as OJ Simpson and prosecutor Marcia Clark right before filming Roanoke.
  • Based on the lost colony of Roanoke.
  • Sarah Paulson has said she “doesn’t care” about this season and regrets filming it. She attributes this to coming off of her more complex role as OJ Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark in American Crime Story. However the content of the next season, Cult, reinvigorated Paulson and she was happy to be part of the cast again.
  • Cuba Gooding Jr. portrayed OJ Simpson in American Crime Story and liked working with Ryan Murphy, so he asked for a role on American Horror Story and was cast in Roanoke.
  • It is briefly shown that Evan Peters’ character Edward Phillipe Mott is related to Freak Show character Dandy Mott, played by Finn Wittrock.

Cult (2017)

Evan Peters and Billie Lourd in Cult.
  • Inspired by the Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton election as well as the 2016 clown sightings.
  • Cult has the smallest cast in the franchise.
  • A wine bottle with the label “Michael David Winery’s Freakshow Cabernet” can be seen in Detective Samuels’ home, alluding to the Freak Show season.

Apocalypse (2018)

Cody Ferm played the Antichrist in Apocalypse.
  • Sarah Paulson made her directorial debut with the sixth episode “Return to Murder House.”
  • Cody Fern found out only a few days before filming that he was playing the season’s villain. He had been told he was playing the hero and Sarah Paulson was playing the villain.
  • Cody Fern says he read The Bible and Ayn Rand to prepare for his role as the Antichrist.

1984 (2019)

Horror fans will love 1984, which is inspired by classic 80s slasher movies.

Double Feature (2021)

The first part of Double Feature is set in Provincetown.
  • Harry (Finn Wittrock) is disturbed by Sarah Paulson’s “Tuberculosis Karen” character while in a grocery store, mirroring a scene from Cult where Sarah Paulson is also terrorized while grocery shopping.

NYC (2022)

  • Inspired by the AIDS epidemic among gay men in New York City in the 1980s

Delicate (2023-2024)

Emma Roberts and Kim Kardashian in Delicate.

Meet The Author

Chrissy is the co-founder of Creepy Catalog. She has over 10 years of experience writing about horror, a degree in philosophy and Reiki level II certification.

Chrissy Stockton