Behind The Scenes Of American Horror Story

Ryan Murphy’s Muses

Ryan Murphy loves working with the stars of American Horror Story, frequently collaborating on side projects outside of the AHS universe. Sarah Paulson starred on American Crime Story as Marcia Clark, Emma Roberts starts in Murphy’s Scream Queens, and long-time AHS favorites Kathy Bates and Jessica Lange are set to star in the upcoming Feuds.

Emma Roberts and Evan Peters

The actor and actress, who both starred on AHS’s Coven and Freakshow, have dated on and off for years. Emma Roberts, niece of Julia, was actually arrested for domestic violence after an altercation with Evan Peters in a Canadian hotel room. Roberts was arrested after beating Peters, leaving him with a bloody nose and bite marks. He chose not to press charges.

Scathach and AHS: Coven

Season Six, AHS: Roanoke, has a link to season three, AHS: Coven. According to Ryan Murphy, the bewitching and animalistic Scathach character is the first supreme. Murphy linked the two seasons in a tweet, as the connection between seasons wasn’t actually ever addressed on the show. Scathach was played by Lady Gaga in the reenactment part of the series, and by a newcomer for the last few episodes.

AHS: Hotel Nod to AHS: Roanoke

In one of the final episodes of AHS: Hotel, Kathy Bates is seen wearing a navy blue button up shirt. For those taking a closer look, there are little cartoon meat cleavers all over it, similar to the cleaver used by her character in Roanoke. The episode was released before any plans or plot points were revealed for the sixth season, so it’s easy to speculate that Murphy has the entire AHS universe figured out.

Connie Britton

Connie Britton, one of the leading characters in the first season, AHS: Murder House, hasn’t been seen since her character Vivian was celebrating Christmas as a ghost. Britton, though loved by fans, departed the show after the first season to pursue a leading role on the series Nashville as country star Rayna James.

Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters

In addition to being fan favorites, Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters are the only actors from AHS to appear in every season. Paulson even appeared as more than one character during a season. Paulson first appeared as Billie Dean Howard, a psychic hoping to gain fame as a television star, and Peters played Tate Langdon, a ghost that haunts the house.

Hotel Cortez

Hotel Cortez, the setting for American Horror Story: Hotel, is actually based on a real hotel that was once in Chicago, IL. The hotel became known as “murder castle,” because the owner, H.H. Holmes, killed up to 200 people and stashed their bodies there. James Patrick March, played by Evan Peters, was likely inspired by this historical murderer, as he also built the fictional Cortez to cover up murders.

Connected Seasons

So far, Freak Show and Asylum have the most crossovers. Pepper was a member of the freak show before being committed to Briarcliff, and Elsa Mars was mutilated by Briarcliff’s Dr. Arden, otherwise known as Hans Gruper. Other connections include the upcoming appearance of Asylum’s Lana Winters in Roanoke.

Queenie in Trouble

Another crossover between seasons occurred when Queenie, a witch and human voodoo doll from Coven, visited the Hotel Cortez. To the dismay of many AHS fans, Queenie was killed by ghost James Patrick March to feed vampire Ramona Royale. Is Queenie gone for good? Only time will tell.

Special Guest Stars

Special guest stars on AHS include Naomi Campbell at The Hotel Cortez, Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet on Murder House, Mena Suvari as The Black Dahlia, Josh Malina from Scandal at Murder House, and Ian McShane in Asylum. Blink and you’ll miss them.

Ma Petite

Ma Petite, the close to pocket-sized character from AHS: Freak Show, is the smallest woman in the world. Petite is played by Indian actress Jyoti Amge. Other characters from Freak Show, such as Rose Siggins and Mat Fraser, actually suffer from their character’s ailments. Murphy was thought highly of for casting disabled actors and actress on Freak Show rather than having actors fake it.


The actor who played Meep in AHS: Freak Show, Ben Woolf, also played the basement monster and deformed son of the Montgomery’s in season one of Murder House. Aside from his small acting gigs, Woolf is also a teacher. He had a class full of elementary school kids that probably haven’t seen the show. Tragically, Woolf was killed in a traffic incident in 2015.

The Fetish Suit

The fetish suit shown in Murder House was as tight as it looked. Evan Peters, who played Tate Langdon, had to be coated in a greasy lubricant to get in and out of the suit. This type of attire is popular in the fetish community, helping people disassociate people — making them more like objects.

What About Madison?

Madison Montgomery, portrayed by Emma Roberts, has the same last name as the owners of the initial Murder House. Coincidence? Not in the Ryan Murphy universe. Since there’s going to be a Murder House/Coven crossover season, as confirmed by Murphy, we expect to find out more about this connection.

Sister Mary Eunice

Sister Mary Eunice is one of the only characters to bridge seasons, showing the fans a rare look at Eunice before she was possessed. Sister Mary Eunice is there when Pepper is committed, and believes the lie that Pepper murdered her nephew. However, as the scene goes on, Eunice forgives her and even assigns her a job in the hospital library.

Zachary Quinto

Zachary Quinto, who portrayed Chad in season one of Murder House, as well as Oliver Thredson in Asylum, found a way to lighten up the scary scene between takes. Quinto is a talented musician, and brought his banjo in to play to help entertain the cast and crew.

Lana Winters

Lana Winters, who is first introduced in the AHS world during season two, Asylum, is a dedicated writer and reporter. Played by AHS alum Sarah Paulson, Winters is one of the patients at Briarcliff until her elaborate escape. Winters is one of the only characters to appear in more than one season, also slated to return in Roanoke in the final episode.

The Intentional Complexity

“Part of the fun of the show is the Rubik’s cube design of it,” says Ryan Murphy of the show’s twists and turns. AHS is known for its complicated characters and quickly evolving plots, but Murphy says it’s all intentional. “There are purposeful connections, character connections, and similarities and things that connect that we’ll continue to connect moving forward,” he says.


Briarcliff, the fictional mental hospital, was based on a real place. Willowbrook State School, located in Staten Island, was a facility that housed disabled students. A 1972 documentary covered the atrocities of this facility, similar to Lana’s expose of Briarcliff.

American Crime Story

American Crime Story, which aired for the first time last year, was also created by Ryan Murphy and starred Sarah Paulson. In the most recent season of AHS, Roanoke, Cuba Gooding Jr. joined the cast as the reenactment version of Matt. Gooding portrayed OJ Simpson in American Crime Story.


Though the AHS: Freak Show fandom loved Twisty the Clown, a lot of other people weren’t pleased with it. In fact, a professional clowning organization said the clown’s character was bad for business. They accused the show of sharing an image that would damage their brand.

That Creepy Whistle

In Murder House, a whistle sound plays when Tate Langdon, played by Evan Peters, walks down the hallways of his school. The same eerie whistle also plays in a 1960s film called Twisted Nerve, as well as Tarantino favorite, Kill Bill Volume One. The series also plays scores from other horror films.

Bette and Dot

In addition to playing two characters, Sarah Paulson had to endure hours of makeup and assembly before her scenes in AHS: Freak Show. Each scene had to be filmed repeatedly, as Paulson was playing both girls and any interaction with the girls and another character had to be shot more than once.

Chloë Sevigny

Chloë Sevigny appeared in AHS: Asylum as sex addict named Shelley, as well as AHS: Hotel as Dr. Alex Lowe. Though she struck a chord with fans, Sevigny has not returned for the sixth season, due to the graphic nature of the show. She admitted that despite having a large part in Hotel, she never watched it, because it was too violent and scary.

The Black Dahlia

Elizabeth Short, or The Black Dahlia, was an aspiring actress who was brutally murdered in 1947. The character made an appearance on Murder House in season one. Though the murder wasn’t solved in real life, AHS offered an alternative theory that involved the infamous property.

Edward Mordrake

Edward Mordrake wasn’t just plucked from Ryan Murphy’s imagination. Mordrake is an urban legend, dating back to the 1800s. Supposedly, Mordrake was an English man who had a small, demonic face on the back of his head. The face apparently whispered evil things to Mordrake, to the extent that Mordrake committed suicide.

The Murder House

The murder house from season one is actually a real place. Called the Rosenheim Mansion, the house is also located in Los Angeles county, same as the murder house depicted in the AHS universe. The real life house was also used in Buffy The Vampire Slayer as a set location.

The Cheerleader

Ashley Rickards, who played Evan Peters’ girlfriend when they were both on One Tree Hill, reappeared on Murder House. Rickards played one of Peters victims in the school shooting, a friendly cheerleader that he shot in the library. The character came back as a ghost along with a few other victims.

Ryan Murphy’s Method

The method to Ryan Murphy’s madness is nearly a year long process that starts with the plot. After Murphy and team determine the story, they start to develop the characters. At first, series regulars may not even have a character, just the knowledge that they’ll be on the show. Murphy also leaves a clue in each previous season to the theme of the next one.

Jessica Lange

Jessica Lange was always a hard sell on joining American Horror Story. She initially turned down her role in season one, but decided to join last minute. Though she left the series after season four, she was a fan favorite and her roles as Elsa Mars and Sister Jude are listed among their favorites.

How I Met Your Mother

Two of the stars of How I Met Your Mother, known as HIMYM, have guest starred in AHS. Francis Conroy has appeared in most of the seasons, with Neil Patrick Harris guest starring in AHS: Freak Show as a deranged magician. On HIMYM, Francis Conroy actually played Neil’s mother.


Pepper, portrayed by Naomi Grossman, is first seen in AHS: Asylum. She befriends Sister Jude and is mainly a supplemental character, only noted for her strange, pinhead appearance. However, two seasons later, Pepper returned to the show, revealing her deep origin story. Pepper was married to another “pinhead” and lived in Jupiter, Florida as a part of Elsa Mars’ freak show. In Freak Show, we see how Pepper ended up at Briarcliff and how the two are connected.

Hans Gruper

Hans Gruper, the real name of Dr. Alan Arkin from AHS: Asylum, was seen in his youthful days in a flashback to his younger years. The young Hans Gruper bore a striking resemblance to the actor, James Cromwell, who played Arkin. It wasn’t a coincidence; the young Gruper was played by Cromwell’s son.

Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka

Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka were originally going to join AHS in season one as the homosexual couple, but turned it down, not wanting to give the wrong impression about their happy marriage. They ended up joining in season four American Horror Story: Freak Show.

Wineville Chicken Coop Murders

Many of the plot points from American Horror Story are based on true life experiences. The Wineville Chicken Coop Murders, which are referenced in AHS: Hotel, are one of them. In AHS and real life, the abduction and murders of young boys around Los Angeles also take place in the 1920s. Ms. Evers, James Patrick March’s devoted maid, had a son who was one of the victims.

Delphine Lalaurie

Delphine Lalaurie, portrayed by Kathy Bates in Coven, was a real person. Lalaurie actually killed and tortured her slaves in New Orleans, during the same time frame that AHS depicts. Additionally, Marie Laveau, played by Angela Bassett, was a voodoo master around the same area.

Adam Levine

In the beginning of Asylum, one of the intro characters was pretty familiar to the AHS universe. Adam Levine of Maroon 5 starred as part of a newly married couple on their honeymoon. Levine’s character, who trespassed in the abandoned Briarcliff, was caught off guard and killed by a masked intruder.

The American Morbidity Museum

The American Morbidity Museum, a fictional museum in Freak Show, is actually based on real places. The Mütter Museum in Philadelphia has body parts of interesting or unique people in jars. Alternatively, The Phallological Museum in Reykjavik, Iceland, has penises in jars.

Real Abduction

The alien abduction from AHS: Asylum was based on real events. While the alien abduction itself wasn’t proven, an interracial couple did report that they were abducted by aliens. Similar to Kit and Alma, the two were disoriented after reportedly being abducted and they recalled being surrounded by small men with advanced technological devices.

Brad and Ryan

The creators of AHS, Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy, were also collaborators on other television shows. In addition to American Horror Story, the duo worked together on FOX’s Glee, as well as the plastic surgery drama Nip/Tuck.