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Ryan Murphy’s creepy anthology series American Horror Story has taken us to haunted houses, sentenced us to an asylum, checked us into a spooky motel, and so much more-and there’s no signs that the FX series will be stopping anytime soon. The nightmarish show was confirmed for a tenth season before its ninth, AHS: 1984, even ended in fall 2019. Half the fun of every new installment of the campy, terrifying series is in the mystery behind it: Murphy recycles his regular cast members, putting them in entirely new, but always spooky, settings. We’ve already been inducted into an insidious cult, made a trip to the freak show, and watched the world end, so here’s what could be up next for Season 10 of American Horror Story.
When will American Horror Story Season 10 premiere?
2020 was a nightmare for obvious reasons-pandemic, election, etc.-but much to the dismay of AHS fans, it was the first year since the series premiered in 2011 that it didn’t return. In May 2020, The Hollywood Reporter revealed AHS was officially pushed back to a 2021 release, which was pretty inevitable since coronavirus prevented the show from going into production as scheduled.
Fans can finally rest easy, though, because filming for Season 10 is finally underway after months of delays. In February 2021, US Weekly reported that the show began shooting in earlier in the month, and is scheduled to wrap up in the spring. While no release date has been announced yet, considering the show’s current production timeline, a fall premiere seems plausible. That’s typically when AHS airs anyway-just in time for spooky season.
How many episodes will AHS Season 10 be?
Ten for 10! According to EW, Season 10 is confirmed for ten installments. While it may not be the highest episode count for a season of AHS, it’s what the show’s been averaging in recent years, like with Apocalypse and Roanoke. AHS: 1984 came in at only nine episodes, so we’ll take what we can get.
Who is in the cast this season?
A new AHS season always leads to two big questions: What’s the theme, and who’s in the cast? Now that the number of AHS seasons is moving into double digits, it seems like Murphy is going all in with a great, rounded out, even surprising cast. In February 2020, the showrunner took to Instagram to give fans a taste of what they can expect for the upcoming season, dropping an eerie teaser revealing the lead cast. Accompanied by Orville Peck’s song “Dead of Night,” a black-and-white video of waves crashing against a shore reveals Kathy Bates, Macaulay Culkin, Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Adina Porter, Lily Rabe, Angelica Ross, and Finn Wittrock are all set to appear. Plus, more recently, the showrunner confirmed that Frances Conroy will be making an appearance again.
While it’s exciting that a great deal of fan favorites will be back, perhaps the most exciting, interesting addition is former child star Macaulay Culkin, who’s been absent from our screens for some time. He’ll probably fit right in, since as we saw (and rewatched a hundred times) in Home Alone, he’s already a bit of a scream queen. As with everybody else, who he is playing is under wraps, but Murphy did reveal one shocking bit of information about his role. He told E! News Culkin has a “very, very insane part” that includes having “crazy, erotic sex with Kathy Bates,” so for what it’s worth, know that’s in the pipeline.
Aside from Culkin, the reveal that AHS royalty Paulson and Peters are returning after both being gone for a season is a big deal. Right now, it’s hush hush as usual regarding who these actors will be playing, but we do know that Paulson will be making a grand return, which is something to look forward to, considering how much fans missed her in 1984. The Murphy muse has been known to lead seasons, like she did in Asylum, Cult, and Apocalypse, and take on smaller roles like in Murder House, but in Season 10 she’s confirmed to be taking on a main role again. She told The Wrap in January 2020 that she “will be a central character.” While details are still scarce, it sounds like she’ll veer on the villainous side, as she admitted to Entertainment Weekly in early 2021 that her character “has some issues.” All hail the AHS Supreme.
What will it be about?
Perhaps even more than his precious cast, Murphy keeps his lips sealed regarding the anthology’s theme for as long as possible. Currently, no theme has been confirmed for Season 10, but rumors of what it could be have been swirling for quite awhile. As the showrunner’s been known to do, hints have been dropping for awhile, with the first one dating back to an episode of 1984. Murphy told TV Guide to look out for an Easter egg in episode 8, “Rest in Pieces,” and as Newsweek points out, that’s when characters had a conversation about a handful of urban legends and creatures from folklore. You may recall a scene in a diner where Angelica Ross’ character Donna and Emma Roberts’ Brooke run into a crime journalist who mentions that “… back in the ’70s, all anyone cared about was Bigfoot, aliens, the Loch Ness Monster-all that Leonard Nimoy In Search Of… shit.”
Given those references, some sort of urban legends season seems like that’s where AHS will be headed. Or, perhaps more broadly, we’re in for an installment focusing on some sort of creature-feature theme since that’s yet to be done. It would be pretty sick to see Sarah Paulson and co. on the hunt for Bigfoot or mermaids or something fantastical lurking in the water, like a Creature From the Blue Lagoon-esque character, since the show does love to reference classic horror movies. A theme surrounding seafaring creatures might be especially likely, actually. It’s something fans have theorized about ever since Murphy dropped the cast announcement teaser trailer and continued to post beach-related “clues” on Instagram. Finally, in May 2020, he confirmed the “beach or sea theme” to The Wrap-so get ready to go anchors away with possibly something mystical from under the sea terrorizing the people on shore. The showrunner has alluded to whatever that may be on Instagram multiple times, posting an image of a pair of creepy claws crawling out of the water, captioned, “Things are beginning to wash up on shore,” a picture of razor-sharp teeth, and even the official new season poster highlighting particularly pointy fangs.
With that in mind, mermaids actually don’t seem too far off-and how great would it be to see Billie Lourd as a siren luring men to their deaths? It is confirmed that this season is shooting in Cape Cod, though, so a Jaws-inspired monster could also be a possibility. Same goes for a theory pointed out by fans on Reddit that Season 10 might explore the Lady on the Dunes, an infamous 1974 cold case about a woman whose body was discovered along the Massachusetts sand dunes but was never identified. The story is its own form of urban legend and certainly hits the markers of what else we (maybe) know about the theme, and AHS is known to explore famous real-life cases in the past, like the Black Dahlia and the Night Stalker.
It’s also worth noting that the working title of the show is Pilgrim, which US Weekly reported in February 2021. That’s at least what 20th Century Studios titled the project when they requested permission from Provincetown, Massachusetts to film in the area. Often, those are just the “code names” for projects, but it would make sense given the history of the locale and AHS‘ tendency to do period pieces. So, at the very least, assume some colonial flashbacks might make their way into Season 10.
Regardless, whatever’s coming, it’s sure to satisfy fans who’ve been waiting for quite awhile. Lily Rabe told Collider that this one’s for the longtime fans-so get excited, if you’re not already.
How will Season 10 be connected to the rest of the AHS universe?
We may not know much about the upcoming installment, but we do know that at least one familiar character, or costume, rather, will make an appearance. In April 2020, Murphy teased fans with another look at the upcoming season, posting a photo on Instagram of Season 1 villain Rubber Man with the caption, “Coming soon…” As you may recall, the erotic latex suit was worn by a number of characters in the first season, including Tate Langdon, and later Michael Langdon when he returned to Murder House in Apocalypse, but it was actually originally purchased from an S&M shop by previous Murder House homeowner Chad Warwick. So, it could mean that one of those names will be back, but more likely we’ll learn its probably very creepy origin, or somebody new will zip themselves into in. It is just sitting in the Murder House attic!
Will this be the last season of American Horror Story?
Ten seasons may be a lot of television, but if you’re worried that might mean this will be the series’ last, don’t be. In January 2020, EW reported that FX renewed the long-running show for at least up to 13 seasons. It may seem like Miss Robichaux’s Academy cast a spell to keep the limited series on air for this long, but in reality it’s the network’s highest-rated series, so ultimately, it would be a real-life horror story to see it go.
There’s a spinoff in the works, too. While each season of American Horror Story is, well, an American horror story, an entirely new thing called American Horror Stories-plural-is on the way. Ryan Murphy announced the upcoming show on Instagram in May 2020, and Deadline went on to confirm it was officially in the works; about a month later, Hulu announced the show was set to air on its FX hub, FX on Hulu. It’s said to be a companion to the original AHS, but takes the form of telling one standalone ghost story per episode. Think of it as bite-sized AHS. No release date for American Horror Stories has been announced yet, but it seems like it could be coming in the near future. Murphy already shared the first official poster for the new series on Instagram in November 2020, and of course, it looks creepy as hell. Along with that tease, he also gave a little more insight into what the show is all about, explaining that it’ll be “16 one hour stand alone episodes delving into horror myths, legends, and lore,” featuring “many of the AHS stars you know and love.” It’s not yet confirmed who will be in the cast, but you can probably bet on at least Cody Fern and Dylan McDermott, who both commented on Murphy’s post with the showrunner replying to them that he was writing something for them. There’s ultimately very little information on the spinoff, though, and news on the tenth season is just as scarce. However, Murphy told Entertainment Tonight that we haven’t seen the last of the beloved witches from Coven and Apocalypse, so another story featuring their black magic should be in the works. (But probably don’t expect to see them in Season 10.) Aside from that, all we know about Seasons 11, 12, and 13 is that Paulson is game to appear if Murphy will have her. She told The Wrap, “I did ask Ryan, if the question [of coming back to AHS in the future] was asked to me, could I say that I was coming back, and he said, ‘Yes, you can say.’ So yes, I will be back on American Horror Story.”
AHS may like to remain a mystery for as long as possible, but continue to check back, as we’ll keep updating this post as more announcements regarding AHS Season 10 are announced.Need help finding something to watch? Sign up here for our weekly Streamail newsletter to get streaming recommendations delivered straight to your inbox.
Sadie Bell is the entertainment editorial assistant at Thrillist. She’s on Twitter at @mssadiebell.