Ryan Murphy May Have Just Confirmed a Major 'American Horror Story' Fan Theory

american horror story: cult
FX Networks
FX Networks

As the premiere for American Horror Story: Cult nears, Ryan Murphy continues to up his teasing game. Maybe his trolling game, too. The series co-creator Instagrammed an iPhone note Sunday, listing the nine circles of hell, pairing AHS seasons with themes:

"Interesting," Murphy wrote alongside the image, maybe confirming a long-held fan theory or maybe just doing his best impression of everyone reacting to Evan Peters' new hair. Interesting indeed.

If the above looks familiar, it's because you've seen iterations on Reddit and other fan forums. Murphy said in 2014 that all the AHS seasons connect. ("They're all very separate," he toldEntertainment Weekly in 2014 when discussing Freak Show, "but there's clues every season that we're now telling you how the different worlds are intertwined.") Viewers have been trying to piece the puzzle together ever since.

The "circles of hell" allude to Inferno, the first part of Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy, which ultimately follows Dante's journey to God. First popularized by TV site Red Herry in an impressively thorough blog post, the Inferno theory angles "each season of American Horror Story as a 21st-century interpretation of a circle of Hell." (TL;DR: Refer to Murphy's Instagram post.)

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FX Networks/YouTube

The theory regained popularity earlier this year when FX renewed AHS for two more runs -- nine seasons total, nine circles of hell in Dante's Inferno. Not bad, right? Even Murphy liked it, explaining to TV Guide around the same time that "I have a theory about the show that I've never told anybody and probably won't until it's over, but [the Inferno] theory is a good one. I always learn a lot about my theory based on other people's theories, which is really all I can say." If the list Murphy shared above is legit, it could hold major clues about the crime, punishment, and big bads to come in Cult (see: heresy) -- not to mention the anthology's expiration date.

Well. Is it legit?

Again, maybe. One thing to keep in mind: Murphy's the kinda guy who thought it would be fun to release roughly two dozen red-herring clips to tease Roanoke. He's The Boy Who Cried Clue. So, as damn good as that Inferno theory is, that cryptic "interesting" could be a confirmation just as easily as it could be props or a "nice try!" quip. After all, "interesting" might be what you say when you're playing your cards close to your chest. But it's also the same thing you say when your parents invite your least favorite relative to dinner.

We've contacted Murphy's reps for clarification. We'll update this post if we hear back.

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Sean Fitz-Gerald is a staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment. Find him on Twitter: @srkfitzgerald.