Superfans of American Horror Story have been theorizing that all of the seasons are somehow connected since for years. There are multiple fan sites and forums completely dedicated to theories about how all the stories take place in the same universe and timeline and discussing the ways in which the seasons are interconnected.
In 2014, when American Horror Story: Freak Show was released, Ryan Murphy officially confirmed that all of the individual seasons are connected to each other. He also confirmed that many of the fan theories about how they all tied together were correct. AHS: Freak Show was also the first season to officially include a character who’d appeared in previous seasons. In prior seasons connections between the characters were hinted at, but no character had appeared in more than one season. AHS: Freak Show was also the first season to include a character from a previous season in another character’s back story.
After AHS: Freak Show, the creators started to be more obvious about the connections between the seasons. Characters from previous seasons started to appear in subsequent seasons’ story lines and characters from previous seasons started to appear in other characters’ backstories. The web of connections became so apparent that it was possible to start to put together a comprehensive timeline of the American Horror Story universe that covers all the major events of each season.
The seasons are so deeply interconnected it can be hard to keep track of all the ways they intersect, so here’s a guide some of the ways the American Horror Story seasons tie together. Spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t seen all of the AHS seasons.
12 Dr. Charles Montgomery appears in AHS: Murder House and AHS: Hotel
Dr. Charles Montgomery is the main villain of American Horror Story: Murder House, which was the very first season. In that season, he’s a doctor for Hollywood’s rich and famous and he often performs abortions in secret because they were illegal at the time. Dr. Montgomery developed a reputation for being the doctor you went to if you had a difficult medical situation that needed to be dealt with discreetly. Unfortunately, he also had a habit of torturing and killing his patients, but somehow, he still kept getting referrals.
In a flashback scene in American Horror Story: Hotel, the show’s fifth season, The Countess, played by Lady Gaga, seeks help from Dr. Montgomery. It’s revealed that she is pregnant, which is shocking in itself since, by this time, she’s a vampire. She reveals to the doctor that she’s only a few weeks pregnant, but when she shows him her stomach she appears to be almost full term.
Dr. Montgomery agrees to perform the abortion, but the procedure goes horribly wrong and The Countess ends up giving birth to Bartholomew, a demon baby who kills Dr. Montgomery’s nurse. Dr. Montgomery seems delighted by the demon child and the violence that ensues. The Countess brings Bartholomew back to the Hotel Cortez, where he lives in an isolated nursery.
11 Billie Dean Howard appears in AHS: Murder House and AHS: Hotel
Billie Dean Howard is a medium who first appears in the very first season, American Horror Story: Murder House. She’s hired by the Harmon family to try and communicate with and banish the spirits that are haunting the Murder House.
Billie Dean Howard’s scenes in Murder House prove that the creators of the show have been thinking about how the seasons connect from the very beginning. Howard tells Violet Harmon the story of the Roanoke colony, which would later become the back story for season six, American Horror Story: Roanoke. She says that the villagers used the word “Croatoan” to banish the evil spirits. Violet Harmon tries to use the word to banish the spirits in the Murder House, but it really doesn’t work out. In AHS: Roanoke, characters try to use the ancient word to banish the spirits in the house, but it also doesn’t work.
Billie Dean Howard is also one of the characters that appears in multiple seasons. After her introduction in AHS: Murder House, Howard gets her own show contacting spirits. Years later, she appears in American Horror Story: Hotel. She visits the hotel every year on Devil’s Night to try and contact the spirit of John Lowe, the Ten Commandments killer.
10 Marcy the Real Estate Agent appears in AHS: Murder House and AHS: Hotel
Marcy is either a mastermind of evil property sales or she has the worst luck in the real estate business. In season one, Marcy is the realtor responsible for selling the Murder House. When she shows the Murder House to the Harmons she tells them about the murder/suicide of the previous owners, but purposely conceals the long list of people who have died in the house because the house has been so hard to sell.
The Harmon’s quickly figure out that something is wrong with the house and insist on reselling it. Of course, Marcy isn’t too interested in trying to sell the house again, but Vivien Harmon gets really upset with her and insists that she help them resell the house.
After all of the Harmon family dies in the Murder House, Marcy is forced to put the house on the market again. She sells the house to the Ramos family, and again neglects to mention all the people who have died in the house. After they flee the house, Marcy is forced to try and sell the Murder House again.
In season five, American Horror Story: Hotel, Marcy makes another appearance, as the realtor who sold the Hotel Cortez to Will Drake. She’s clearly happy to have the Hotel off her hands. Marcy stays at the Cortez and ends up being killed by Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova, to revitalize them after being imprisoned by March for years.
9 Dr. Arden aka Hans Gruper is in AHS: Asylum and AHS: Freak Show
Dr. Arden is a doctor that works in the Briarcliff Asylum in the second season of American Horror Story. It’s quickly revealed that he’s a seriously messed up guy and that he regularly performs inhumane experiments on the patients. It’s later revealed that Dr. Arden is actually Hans Gruper, a former Nazi doctor. During the Holocaust, he performed ghastly experiments on the people imprisoned in a concentration camp. When the war ended, he was a wanted war criminal, so he changed his name and fled to the United States.
Two seasons later, in American Horror Story: Freak Show, we get another horrifying detail about Dr. Arden’s previous life as Hans Gruper. Elsa Mars, the owner of the Freak Show is revealed to have prosthetic legs, and in a flashback, we learn how she lost her legs. During the war in Germany, she made her money as a dominatrix and began to star in BDSM films shot by some German super creepers.
One night, the filmmakers drugged her and tied her to a bed. They proceeded to film a man cutting off her legs for a snuff film. The man cutting off her legs is, of course, Dr. Arden, back when he was known as Hans Gruper. A lover of Elsa’s who made her prosthetic legs attempts to track down and kill Gruper, but Gruper imprisons and tortures him.
8 Pepper appears in AHS: Asylum and AHS: Freak Show
In season two, American Horror Story: Asylum, Pepper is a patient at Briarcliff Asylum. She’s apparently there because she murdered her sister’s child. The fourth season, American Horror Story: Freak Show, takes place twelve years before the events of AHS: Asylum, and it’s in this season that we get Pepper’s real backstory.
Pepper was the first “monster” that Elsa Mars recruited for her Freak Show. Pepper became the heart and soul of the Freak Show, though Elsa treats her as kind of a servant. Pepper falls in love with fellow performer Salty and the two perform together and live as a married couple. Salty ends up dying and Pepper is so depressed that she refuses to perform. As punishment for not performing, Elsa sends her away to live with her sister.
Pepper’s sister and her husband treat Pepper pretty poorly. While Pepper is living there, her sister and her sister’s husband conspire to kill their child and her sister’s husband goes through with the plan. They both frame Pepper for the murder. This is the murder that landed her in Briarcliff.
Pepper was the first American Horror Story character to appear in multiple seasons, and she is still the only AHS character to have a major story line in multiple seasons. Many other characters have appeared in multiple seasons, but only as small cameos or in small flashback scenes.
7 Sister Mary Eunice appears in AHS: Asylum and AHS: Freak Show
Sister Mary Eunice is one of the nuns who works at Briarcliff Asylum in season two, American Horror Story: Asylum. She is a kind, pure hearted soul, one of the only truly good people in the entire asylum. She is extremely afraid of Sister Jude, the head of the asylum and often ends up doing things she doesn’t want to do out of that fear.
Sister Mary Eunice becomes possessed by a demon, who was drawn to her because of her purity. While possessed, she seduces both Dr. Arden and the Monsignor. She also mentally tortures Sister Jude until she goes insane. Eventually, the Angel of Death comes and kills Sister Mary Eunice to free her from the demon’s hold over her.
Sister Mary Eunice also makes an appearance in American Horror Story: Freak Show, which takes place about twelve years before AHS: Asylum even though it’s the fourth season. Toward the end of AHS: Freak Show, Sister Mary Eunice is the one who admits Pepper to Briarcliff.
6 Lana Winters appears in AHS: Asylum and AHS: Roanoke
Lana Winters is a major character in American Horror Story: Asylum, the second season. She’s an investigative journalist who goes to Briarcliff Asylum hoping to get an interview with Kit Walker, who’s been imprisoned for the Bloody Face murders. She pretends that she’s there to do a story on Sister Jude’s bakery, but this plan falls apart when Sister Jude suspects her real motives: to expose Briarcliff’s secrets. Sister Jude gets Lana committed to Briarcliff by forging a letter from Lana’s girlfriend Wendy and her doctor.
Lana does a horrifying stint in Briarcliff before being abducted by the real Bloody Face, Dr. Oliver Thredson. He tortures and assaults her repeatedly and eventually impregnates her. Lana escapes, writes an expose on Briarcliff and becomes a world renowned journalist. She also writes a book about her experiences in Briarcliff and with Bloody Face.
Lana Winters reemerges in the latest season, American Horror Story: Roanoke. Though she’s in her eighties, Lana decides to come out of retirement to do “one last interview” with Lee Harris, the only survivor of the events at the Roanoke House. The interview gets crashed by Lot Polk, who’s looking for vengeance after his family was killed. Lana is knocked out and at the end of the season she shares her experiences in an interview from her hospital bed, much like the interview she gave after escaping Bloody Face in season two.
5 Queenie appears in AHS: Coven and AHS: Hotel
Queenie is one of the witches who is recruited to attend Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, which is a school for witches. All of the young women attending the school are descendants of the witches from Salem, Massachusetts and Queenie’s legitimacy for attending the school is initially questioned. Queenie responds by telling the women that she is a descendant of Tituba, a witch who was a slave to the Salem witches.
Queenie is an adept witch in many ways, but her specialty is that she’s a human voodoo doll. When people try to hurt her the violence they attempt happens to their own bodies. She can also cause harm to others by mutilating herself.
In AHS: Coven, Queenie competes with the other women at the school to be the next Supreme, but does not complete the trials. She reappears when she stays at the Hotel Cortez. She’s in LA to attend a filming of “The Price is Right.” She immediately senses something is wrong in the Hotel Cortez and tries to change rooms, but she never gets to. She’s attacked by the vampire Ramona Royale, but uses her human voodoo doll abilities to subdue her. However, Queenie finds out her powers don’t work on spirits when James Patrick March, the original owner of the Hotel Cortez who’s ghostly self still inhabits the hotel, kills her.
4 Madison Montgomery from AHS: Coven might be related to Dr. Charles Montgomery from AHS: Murder House
This is one of the connections that hasn’t been totally confirmed by the show’s creators, but fans are pretty sure that there’s some connection here. The creators of American Horror Story have been very deliberate about the ways that the story lines tie together. There’s evidence that they’ve been thinking about how the seasons would connect since the very first season.
With that much forethought, it would be super surprising if they just randomly gave two characters in different seasons the same last name. Madison Montgomery is a movie star who’s also a witch attending Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies. Dr. Charles Montgomery and his wife Nora Montgomery lived in LA and Madison Montgomery was born and raised in LA.
Fans theorize that Madison is somehow a descendant of Charles and Nora Montgomery. Again, this connection hasn’t been confirmed by the show’s creators, but it wouldn’t be surprising if their connection was revealed in an upcoming season.
3 Dandy Mott from AHS: Freak Show is a descendant of Edward Phillipe Mott
Dandy Mott is a super spoiled brat who turns in to a psychopathic killer in season four, American Horror Story: Freak Show. During AHS: Freak Show, it’s revealed that Dandy is descended from a long line of super wealthy Americans who frequently married within their own family tree in order to keep the money in their family. In fact, Dandy’s father is his mother’s second cousin. We also learn that a psychopathic streak runs in the family. Dandy’s mother blames this on inbreeding.
In season six, American Horror Story: Roanoke, it’s revealed that the original owner of the Roanoke House was Edward Phillipe Mott. Mott bought the house to display his art, which ends up being destroyed by The Butcher. Later, Mott is captured and tortured by the spirits that haunt the Roanoke House.
Edward Phillipe Mott is a distant ancestor of Dandy Mott. As of now, this is the only connection between the characters, but the Mott family may become more significant in upcoming seasons.
2 Scathach from AHS: Roanoke is the Original Supreme
In American Horror Story: Coven, season three, we’re introduced to the concept of The Supreme. The Supreme is the most powerful witch descended from the Salem witches currently alive and she serves as the head of the Coven. She also serves as an instructor and guide for the younger witches at Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies.
At the beginning of AHS: Coven Fiona Goode is the current Supreme. Throughout the season it becomes apparent that Fiona is on her way out, so a new Supreme will emerge. The young women attending Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies attempt to prove their mastery of the Seven Wonders, the abilities each Supreme possesses in order to prove that they are the Supreme. In the end, all the young women fail and Cordelia Goode is proven to be the next Supreme.
In AHS: Roanoke, Scathatch is introduced as an immortal, super powerful witch. She is said to be descended from English druids. She escaped to the new colonies and was sentenced to be burned at the stake as a witch, but she escaped in to the woods and became the Witch of the Woods. Tomasin White, the Roanoke colonist who would become The Butcher, was saved by Scathatch and worshipped her, sacrificing colonists to her. Scathatch is heavily tied to the hauntings in the Roanoke area.
Ryan Murphy, one of American Horror Story’s creators, has revealed that Scathatch was the original Supreme and that she and the witches of the Coven will appear together in future seasons.
1 The Piggy Man from AHS: Roanoke is a fixation for one of Ben Harmon’s clients from AHS: Murder House
In season one, American Horror Story: Murder House, Ben Harmon is a therapist who sees patients in his home, which happens to be the Murder House. Ben has one patient named Derrick, who has a phobia of urban legends that is so severe that it interferes with his daily life.
One of the urban legends that Derrick is fixated on is the legend of the Piggy Man. As the legend goes, the Piggy Man was a pig butcher who lived in Chicago in the 1890’s. The Piggy Man was also a serial killer who butchered people while wearing a pig mask. Derrick believed that the Piggy Man could be summoned if you said “Here piggy piggy piggy” into a mirror, similar to the urban legend of Bloody Mary. Ben dismisses the existence of the Piggy Man, believing it to be just another urban legend.
However, in season six, American Horror Story: Roanoke, we discover that the Piggy Man isn’t a legend at all. Kincaid Polk, an ancestor of the cannibalistic Polk family who tried to buy the Roanoke House, was a pig butcherer in Chicago and shortly after the World Fair in 1893, he started killing people. He was murdered by the Butcher, and was burned alive with a pig on his head. Now the spirit of the Piggy Man haunts the Roanoke House.
American Horror Story isn’t just an excellent show, it’s a web of storytelling genius. It’s clear that the creators of the show intended the seasons to exist within the same universe from early on in the show’s planning. They have worked meticulously to place clues within each season and to connect the storylines with deliberate threads that persist throughout the multiple seasons. It’ll be interesting to see how Season Seven, which is expected to come out this fall, will connect to previous seasons and which characters will make an appearance.
Sources: Vulture, Entertainment Weekly, Vulture, Buzzfeed, American Horror Story Wikia, iO9, Vanity Fair, The Hollywood Reporter