Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story debuted in 2011, introducing viewers to an innovative new series that featured good scares and compelling drama in equal measure. The first season of the anthology horror series, retroactively dubbed Murder House, centered around a family relocating from Boston to Los Angeles to make a fresh start for themselves. During the show’s 12 episodes, we became attached to Vivien (Connie Britton), her husband Ben (Dylan McDermott), and their troubled daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga), not to mention Constance, their neighbor with the sweet and salty charm, played by powerhouse Jessica Lange.
Then when season two, Asylum, premiered in 2012, we learned that the previous family and haunted house theme that we’d come to know had gone. We had a whole new story and lineup of characters to follow. The anthology style of the series and the anticipation leading up to the reveal of each new theme has become a huge part of the fun when it comes to being a fan of American Horror Story. Now approaching its tenth season, we can’t wait to see what Ryan Murphy has in store for us this time around. Here’s what we know so far.
May 2020 UPDATE: Ryan Murphy took to Instagram to reveal two new teasers about the future of American Horror Story. The first relates to filming dates for AHS 10, and the second relates to an upcoming AHS spinoff series! [see below]
March 2021 UPDATE: More casting confirmations, a closer look at what in the world the theme could be, and the future of AHS in the works! [see below]
On March 12, 2021, Murphy finally released the first stills from season 10 to his Instagram with the simple yet stirring caption, "Night Moves."
Who’s in American Horror Story Season 10?
On February 26, 2020, Ryan Murphy debuted the first teaser for AHS10 via his own Instagram, which was later uploaded to AHS's official YouTube page on March 1, 2020. While the short video didn’t reveal a whole lot of information, it did give us a peek at the main cast listing. Over a shot of a gloomy-looking ocean, as Orville Pecks’ “Dead of Night” plays, a list of names rolls slowly. With 100% certainty, we can now expect to see the return of AHS alums Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Kathy Bates, Finn Wittrock, Billie Lourd, Adina Porter, Angelica Ross, and Leslie Grossman.
With the excitement of Paulson’s awaited return, we searched for every clue to her latest AHS role that we could find. In February of 2021, she did an interview with The Wrap and gave us a teaser as to what to expect with the character, “I think the character may not be something you haven’t seen — I don’t mean I’m playing a character I’ve played before, I am not — but she’s got a little bit of a few people rolled in there.
“But the most exciting thing for me is I get to have a hair color I’ve never had on the show, nor have I ever had it in life, and it’s something I’ve always dreamt of doing, never done. So I get to live out that fantasy, so that’s exciting for me.”
New to the series is Macaulay Culkin, who is best known as the child star of the Home Alone franchise. Based on his portrayal of killer “Club Kid” Michael Alig in the 2003 cult classic Party Monster, Culkin has definitely got the chops (excuse the pun) for darker material, and we can’t wait to see what he brings to the table.
As of November 2021, Culkin is no longer the only new face that will appear on our screens. Actor and contortionist Spencer Novich was confirmed as the newest AHS star by Murphy via Instagram. Murphy posted a video of Novich captioned, “Congrats to Spencer Novich who is joining the cast of this season’s ‘American Horror Story.’ This is the audition that got him the job. Guess the title yet?”
While we may still be at a loss for this season’s title, Novich’s creepy “I’m going to kill you,” will not only haunt us in our sleep, but it definitely also has us ready and waiting to find out the name of the show’s tenth installment.
Missing from the cast once again is AHS favorite Jessica Lange, who made a brief return for 2018’s Apocalypse after parting ways from the series following her role as Elsa Mars in 2015’s Freak Show. Murphy loves to keep Lange as a secret weapon though, so you can never rule her out entirely until the credits roll on the very last episode of the season. She might pop up. She might not. In a late 2019 interview with The Wrap, Lange said, “I don’t think I would want to start from scratch and create a character”—but that doesn’t rule out the chances of her re-visiting a prior role, since AHS has been known to air crossover episodes with previous seasons. We can only hope!
What’s the theme of American Horror Story Season 10?
Ryan Murphy likes to keep the theme of each new season under wraps for as long as possible, dropping small hints here and there to build up excitement. On March 10, 2020 he posted yet another teaser to his Instagram, this time in the form of a still image. Shown in the photo is the same ocean setting we saw in his first teaser video, but this time there are hands grasping at straw-like earth, as though some unseen person is attempting to pull themselves up. Murphy’s caption for the photo reads "Things are beginning to wash up on shore…” Reading the caption, a second glance at the photo makes you wonder… is that a living body? Or a dead one?
In 2019, Murphy revealed to TV Guide that there would be a hint about season 10 in the eighth episode of season nine, the slasher campsite horror-themed 1984. That episode, called “Rest in Pieces,” made mention of various urban legends, which got a lot of people’s wheels turning. A popularly held fan theory is that season 10 will have something to do with the Loch Ness Monster or aliens. There was also an alien element to season two’s Asylum, and we know how Murphy likes to tie plot lines and seasons together.
TV Guide has also speculated a major feature of a Murder House or Coven crossover. Murphy revealed another teaser through Instagram in April 2020. Featuring a simple post of Rubber Man and enigmatic caption, “Coming soon…,” does this mean Rubber Man will be making an appearance in season 10? Who will be in the suit this time?
Besides for the potential return of famous Murder House character, some have theorized this could be the third season in which Murphy brings in the Coven witches. When speaking with Entertainment Tonight on the 1984 season, he stated that “The witches will be back. Not next season , but we have something really fun planned.” While we don’t know if it is going to happen in season 10, we do know that soon enough our beloved Coven witches will be once again with us.
TV Guide has also given us reason to believe a key inspiration behind this season’s theme is the unsolved murder case famously named “The Lady of the Dunes.” A true crime case from 1974 in which a young girl discovered the body of an unidentified woman lying on a beach towel. Upon being found, the victim’s head was crushed, both her hands removed, and teeth were missing. A mystery that haunted detectives for decades sounds like the perfect case to influence this season’s theme.
Further speculation points towards the possibility of the theme having something to do with the Bridgewater Triangle, a hotbed of cryptid and supernatural activity in Provincetown, Massachusetts. In the summer of 2019, area news began reporting that FX had acquired exclusive rights for a short story written by Brian Miller called “The Brigewater Triangle” for the purpose of filming an “apocalyptic horror thriller.” Not to get ahead of ourselves here, but that’s got AHS written all over it. Especially when you read what we’re about to tell you next…
Where is American Horror Story Season 10 set?
On March 11, 2020, the Cape Cod Times reported that the Select Board of Provincetown authorized the town manager to draft an agreement allowing a Ryan Murphy production team (including 20th Century Fox) to film in the area. “Details of the show are still under wraps, but it increasingly appears that the shoot could be for the 10th season of ‘American Horror Story,’” the article states.
An interesting fact to note here is that Provincetown was once the hunting grounds of serial killer Tony Costa, who brutalized young women and buried their bodies in shallow sandy graves throughout the coastal town in the late 60s.
Aliens, sea creatures, and coastal killers…this all seems to be adding up to one wickedly fun season.
When will American Horror Story Season 10 Start Filming?
In May, a gallows humor joke began circling around the internet suggesting that the coronavirus pandemic is in actuality one elaborate, fourth wall-obliterating season of AHS. Not only are we all starring in the current series, but we should also be getting paid for it.
On Monday, May 18, Murphy took to Instagram to respond to the joke. In his caption, he promised to pay out users who successfully guessed the premise of the upcoming season. He also confirmed that he intends to start shooting AHS 10 "later this summer." This certainly bolsters the clues of a beach/ocean-themed setting. It's also great to know that filming is * tentatively * on track. Could AHS 10 arrive as early as this fall? AHS 9 began filming in the summer of 2019 for a fall 2019 release date. While it was indeed a different world back then, a summer-to-fall turnaround is possible.
Murphy updated us with an Instagram post in August as another hint of when the season will air. “Looks like American Horror Story season 10 is a go for an October (fitting) production launch. Thanks to everyone who is working hard to assure a safe start for the cast and crew. And yes, this is a clue.”
According to Boston Globe Media, as of March 1, 2021 filming of AHS Season 10 began in Provincetown under the code name “Pilgrim,” and was later confirmed to be the show. Filming of the season wrapped up on March 12.
Is there really going to be an AHS spinoff?!
Yes! Quite possibly. Good god, we hope so. The other major May 2020 update in the world of AHS came via—you guessed it—a post on Ryan Murphy's Instagram. On Monday, May 11, Murphy posted a screengrab from an AHS cast conference call. Seeing so many AHS alumni joined together (even if remotely) was certainly a treat for fans. The screengrab also included Jessica Lange, so perhaps she will indeed appear in AHS 10 after all. But the real surprise came in Murphy's caption for the image.
Murphy mentions that the gang is working on a "spin off" "called 'American Horror Stories', comprised of self-contained one-hour episodes. Needless to say, the potential for this new project is limitless. Are we in store for up-close encounters with AHS fan favorites? What does Twisty the Clown get up to during his off-hours? What's the Countess's backstory? Or perhaps we'll witness wholly new characters to add to AHS's dark and expansive universe. Only time will tell. Stay tuned for more updates!
Just as exciting as the new spinoff series in the works is FX’s renewal of the thrilling anthology series for additional seasons. As of March 10, 2021, TVLine stated that FX has confirmed AHS is set to return for Seasons 11, 12, and 13! While the tenth season had us suspicious of a closure around the corner, fret not, as we get to hang on for at least three more seasons.
As we (try to) patiently wait for this season’s premiere, we will continue to throw around theories of this season’s theme and hope that Jessica Lange will grace us with an appearance.