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American Horror Story is dedicated to exploring classic horror tropes, but it has other themes unique to the show or carried over from the oeuvre of its creators.

Murder and Violence

Otherwise known as the meat and potatoes of AHS.

Rape

Whether through force, drugs or deception the real-life horror of non-consensual sex is an often-recurring theme.

Murder House

Asylum

Coven

  • Madison is gang-raped by a fraternity. [4]
  • Zoe satisfies both desire and murderous vengeance on the comatose Brennan. [4]

Hotel

Rape Babies

On American Horror Story, the progeny of unwanted coitus tend to be a bit touched.

Murder House

Asylum

Copycats, Re-Creationists, and Tours (Oh My!)

The American fascination with transcendent violence and just plain weirdness was an inspiration to show creators Murphy and Falchuk while developing the series[5]". It has been reflected in every season so far.

Murder House

  • The Eternal Darkness Tour is a disruption to the Harmons' lives, but also a path to understanding the strange events in their home.
  • The Harmon's home is invaded by fans of multiple murderer R. Franklin.

Asylum

  • Leo and Teresa Morrison spend their honeymoon touring "the twelve most haunted places in America and screwing their brains out in every single one".
  • Devon leads his brothers in the dark lark of roaming the ruins of Briarcliff Manor, each dressed as Bloody Face, and things get really fun when they discover the Morrisons.
  • Johnny Morgan takes up his father's mantle as the true Bloody Face copycat of his era.

Coven

  • Visitors and residents of New Orleans can tour the LaLaurie Estate, once home to a very violent and evil woman.

Freak Show

  • The American Morbidity Museum exhibits (deceased) human oddities procured with few questions.
  • Dandy Mott, while developing his own MO, pays homage to his inspiration by wearing the clown's prosthetic fright mask during kills.

Hotel

  • John Lowe takes up his mentor's mantle as the Ten Commandments Killer to finish his works in the present day.

Masked Assailants

Nothing creates mystery like a hidden face.

Murder House

Asylum

  • Two generations of men and a couple of impostors terrorize a community as Bloody Face.

Coven

  • Who is the hooded figure that threw acid in Cordelia's face?

Hotel

  • The Zodiac Killer makes an appearance on Devil's Night.

Roanoke

  • Some sort of man with a pig head (or a man wearing a pig's head) appears on the home movie footage.

Suicide

On American Horror Story people are as likely to die by their own hand as fall prey to a murderous ghost/psychopath/witch.

Murder House

  • Violet intentionally overdoses on sleeping pills, not without previously having thought about slitting her throat.
  • Nora Montgomery follows the murder of husband and son with a bullet through her own head.
  • Tate's "suicide by cop".
  • Lorraine Harvey's suicide/infanticide by fire.
  • The deaths of Chad and Patrick were incorrectly deemed a murder/suicide.
  • Hayden and cohorts make Ben's death appear as a suicide by hanging.

Asylum

Coven

Hotel

  • John Lowe attempts to hang himself due to his regret from murdering Martin Gamboa but is cut down by James March.

Let's Talk About Sex

It's not all "death death devil devil evil evil" on AHS. OK, actually it is, but often it is specifically directed at those doing the nasty.

Deadly Sex

On American Horror Story, it is rare for any relationship to reach the post-coital cuddling stage.

Murder House

  • Constance makes both Hugo and Moira pay dearly for her husbands infidelity.
  • Hayden practices her after-sex stabby stab on the already dead Hugo before using it to deadly effect on Travis.
  • What started with a nice BJ ended badly for Joe Escandarian.

Asylum

  • Does it count if they're already dead? Ask most sexual partners of Oliver Thredson.

Coven

Freak Show

Hotel

  • Donovan and The Countess engage in occasional deadly sex with other people for their nourishment.
  • Tristan Duffy has a scene with another man and the Countess almost after he is turned.


Infidelity

This may not be peculiar to American Horror Story, but a standard trope for any drama.

Murder House

  • Ben's affair with Hayden is the impetus that brings the Harmons to California and the Murder House.
  • Hugo's affair with Moira spells death and a ghostly eternity for them both.
  • Patrick's infidelities lead Chad to attempt spicing things up with a certain rubber suit.
  • Larry's dalliance with Constance leads his wife to take her life and that of their children.
  • With so much temptation in the house (Moira, Hayden and Elizabeth), Ben must constantly resist straying again from his vows.
  • Vivien restricts her cheating to fantasies of Luke (unless you count her "willing" coupling with Tate).
  • Regardless, Ben is convinced by Hayden to believe that Vivien's relationship with Luke is more than just a wet dream.

Asylum

  • Shelley's constant affairs lead her husband to have her committed to Briarcliff Manor for nymphomania.
  • His belief that Alma is still alive with the ETs doesn't stop Kit from planting his seed in Grace.
  • Even if unmarried, Carl's trysts with Shelley break a trust not dissimilar to infidelity.
  • Though not in control of her body, Sister Mary Eunice's rape of Timothy Howard was cheating on her marriage to Jesus.
    • It is unknown whether Pope Paul VI would have pardoned the Monsignor's tumescence, without which the rape wouldn't have been possible, or if it would have been considered a violation of the priest's own vow of celibacy.

Coven

Freak Show

  • Paul has a secret affair with Elsa and a secret secret affair with Penny.
  • It is unlikely that Desiree is the first wife on whom Dell has cheated or that Andy is the first man with whom.
  • Desiree is no stranger to cheating either.

Hotel

  • The Ten Commandments Killer strikes on an extramarital couple in another hotel. He deliberately kills the wife by impaling her, and chops off the man's eyes and tongue alive.
  • John Lowe kills his ex-partner after finding out he had sex with his wife Alex.

Masturbation

American Horror Story doesn't have anything against showing this common but rarely-seen-on-TV activity.

Murder House

  • Ben witnesses Moira masturbating and retreats to his bedroom to do the same. [6]
  • Vivien's masturbatory fantasy of security guard Luke is interrupted by thoughts of Ben and Rubber Man. [7]

Asylum

  • Rudy, a chronic masturbator, can be seen engaging in his favorite activity throughout the season.
  • Shelley steals a cucumber from the kitchens, and later hints it is not because she is hungry.
  • Thredson encourages Lana to masturbate in front of Daniel as part of her aversion therapy. [8]

Coven

Troubled Wombs

On most shows pregnancy usually means a cute new cast member to boost ratings. On American Horror Story it always portends trouble.

Murder House

Asylum

  • Pregnancy for both Alma and Grace results in an unscheduled visit to the extraterrestrial gynecologist.
  • Fearing what may come of the product of her rape by Thredson, Lana attempts a "home abortion" with a wire coat hanger. [10]

Coven

  • Cordelia's infertility leads to her dabbling in forbidden magics.

Freak Show

  • Desiree Dupree suffers a miscarriage that leads to the discovery that she is all-woman.

Roanoke

  • As if being attacked by a street gang was not enough, Shelby Miller suffers a miscarriage shortly after.

Three-Way Relationships

Either as a one-time thing or as an actual romantic polygamous relationship, three-way relationships are featured in all three seasons of American Horror Story.

Murder House

Asylum

  • After arriving back home with Grace Bertrand and their son Thomas, Kit finds out his presumably dead wife Alma is still alive, and so is their newly born baby. And they all end up living together in an apparently happy polygamous marriage.

Coven

  • As neither Zoe nor Madison are willing to give up on their reincarnated lover, the girls decide to "share" him.

Freak Show

Hotel

  • The Countess is infamous for having multiple partners at a time.
  • Natacha Rambova no steps aside, rather seduces the female lover of her husband Rudolph Valentino.

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Striving for acceptance and harmony while the body count rises.

Intolerance

It is practically a mission of co-creator Ryan Murphy to challenge the homophobic worldview and its predecessor in ignorance, racism.

Murder House

  • Marcy's comments reveal a touch of both racism and homophobia.
  • Comments from Tate and Joe Escandarian regarding gay ghosts (ghaysts?) Chad and Patrick aren't exactly politically correct either.

Asylum

  • Lana and her girlfriend Wendy suffer much for their homosexual love.
  • Kit's interracial marriage to Alma suffers its own indignities.

Coven

  • Cruel slave-owner Delphine has trouble reconciling her centuries old worldview with a black president and serving as Queenie's personal maid.
  • Cora's young son is lynched in objection to President Kennedy's integration of "blacks" into schools.

Freak Show

  • It is perhaps the goal to work against the trope this season, as its' gays have little to redeem them.
    • Dell's fear of being outed is enough for him to murder a sweet little doll woman.
      • Dell was extorted to kill by another member of the Disloyal Fellowship of Despicable Homosexuals, Stanley.
  • Andy seems pretty cool for a detached gigolo, but he is either dead or residing limbless in the Magic Bus.

Hotel

  • Liz Taylor receives transphobic/homophobic comments from her former friends when they discover she is transgender.

Roanoke

  • Matt Miller believes the raids and unreliability of the local police result of racism towards a interracial marriage.

The New Abnormal

Another "mission" of Ryan Murphy and Co. is to redefine our perspective of those with birth defects or disabilities, both through their creation of characters and their hiring of actors.

Murder House

Asylum

  • The falsely accused "pinhead", Pepper, is "reborn" as an intelligent guardian of Grace.

Coven

  • Jamie Brewer returns as Nan; a vibrant and sexually active clairvoyant.

Freak Show

  • Acceptance of those with physical defects, both congenital and environmental, is a central theme of the season, which featured many actors with no need for special makeup effects.
  • Our favorite pinhead returns with a husband.
  • Jamie Brewer makes another appearance as the living embodiment of Chester Creb's ventriloquist dummy.

Family Dysfunction

Murder House
  • Ben and Vivien are too tied up with their own issues to notice Violet's suicidal depression.
  • Though extremely protective, Constance lacks compassion and competence in dealing with the physical and mental disabilities of her children. She is despised by Tate, she is emotionally abusive to Addy, and she allows Larry to kill the disfigured Beau
Asylum
Coven
Freak Show
  • An infant Jimmy Darling was nearly killed by his father and spent his formative years with an alcoholic mother and a bunch of hedonistic human oddities.
  • Penny's combative relationship with her strict father leads to a horrific punishment.
Hotel

Roanoke

  • Lee Miller addiction to painkillers and alcohol is not an easy pass to "mother of the year" award.

Related Links

References

  1. Episode: Murder House (episode)
  2. Episode: Tricks and Treats
  3. Episode: Nor'easter
  4. 4.0 4.1 Episode: Bitchcraft
  5. Goldberg, Lesley (September 22, 2011). American Horror Story: 10 Things To Know. Hollywood Reporter.
  6. Episode: Pilot
  7. Episode: Open House
  8. Episode: I Am Anne Frank: Part 1
  9. Episode: The Replacements
  10. Episode: The Coat Hanger

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