The Multiple Universes of “American Horror Story”

For nine seasons, American Horror Story has been telling a variety of horror stories in a myriad of different subgenres.  While each year gave the series a chance to do something new with its recurring cast of actors, it was also quietly weaving an interconnected tapestry that would rival the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

We’ve seen major crossover events, such as the entire season of Apocalypse, but as we analyze all of AHS’s connections, its most recent season, 1984 really throws a wrench into the interconnected universe’s gears.  In fact, it creates the absolute certainty that there are at least two AHS universes!

Spoilers for pretty much the entire series (obviously)!!!

The Richard Ramirez Problem
Of all the serial killers (both real and fictional) that AHS has featured, Richard Ramirez seems to be a favorite as went from cameo status in Hotel to almost a main character in 1984.

However, his first appearance was factually accurate and in line with the fate of the real life Richard Ramirez (who died in prison in 2013).  Ramirez himself even mentions this in a scene set in 2015 at the Hotel Cortez at the “Devil’s Night Dinner”.

Even the portrayals of Ramirez are completely different. In Hotel, he was cool and laid back, while 1984 showed us his more intense side.

Then in 1984, we see him at the height of his serial killing career, and even gaining the ability to be resurrected by Satan himself.  His fate however, is wholly different from that of his real life counterpart, as this version of Ramirez is still alive in 2019 and trapped in Camp Redwood as the ghosts there routinely kill him to keep him from escaping.  The only issue is that this directly contradicts what we saw four seasons earlier and thus creates the issue with AHS being one large shared universe.

The Odd Season Out Theory
Perhaps Occam’s Razor would apply and the simplest explanation would simply be that 1984 sits apart from the larger continuity.  Which would make sense given its minimal connection (the only confirmed one being a small reference to Briarcliff’s existence).

Tonally, it was quite different from the other seasons and even saw the departure of series’ regulars Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson, both of whom had been there since the very beginning.  This may be the simplest theory, but there is one far more interesting.

1984’s season finale was also incredibly divisive, but that’s a conversation for another day!

The 50/50 Theory
Up until 1984, there hadn’t been any blatant errors in continuity, but we look closer at the first 8 seasons, they definitely fall into one of two very strong interwoven continuities.  We’ll refer to these as Universe A (Murder House, Coven, Hotel, Apocalypse) and Universe B (Asylum, Freak Show, Roanoke, Cult, 1984).

Universe A culminates together quite well in Apocalypse, where the witches from Coven visit the Hotel Cortez, as well as research Michael Langdon’s backstory at the murder house.

And this is far from the only connection, as we saw the Countess visit Dr. Montgomery in Hotel, and Queenie herself popped up in that season (having to be rescued three seasons later).  And since this continuity features the other iteration of Ramirez, it clearly can’t be connected to 1984.

Universe B then features Lana Winters of Asylum popping up at the end of Roanoke, and being mentioned in Cult.  As well as Pepper being shared character between Asylum and Freak Show.  Granted, 1984’s connection is pretty loose, but it’s either that or it’s in its own third universe.

When we think of the connections between Universe A and B, they seem pretty weak to be honest.  Sure there’s a mention of a Witch Supreme in Roanoke, but couldn’t this just mean that witches exist in both?

There’s also another minor disconnect between Cult and Hotel. The former tells us that Valerie Solanis and S.C.U.M. were by the Zodiac killings, but Zodiac himself is present at the same dinner as Ramirez in Hotel.

There’s also a detective in Murder House who shares the same name as another in Freak Show, both of which have the same name, but with one in LA in the 2010’s, and other Florida in the 1950’s couldn’t this simply be a coincidence?

Granted, this is all just a fan theory, but it’s an interesting one to think about.  Either way, 1984 definitely sits apart from the seasons of Universe A.  What do you think?  How would you reconcile this error, and which theory do you believe?  Let us know in the comments below!

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