Entertainment

Everything We Know About 'American Horror Story' Season 10

Some fan-favorite cast members will be back.

sarah paulson
Sarah Paulson in 'AHS: Cult' | FX
Sarah Paulson in 'AHS: Cult' | FX

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 last fall, and is slated for a 2020 release. 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? 

There's no confirmed premiere date yet, and it's pretty hard to say when the series will return since the COVID-19 pandemic squashed plans to start filming this spring/summer. Ryan Murphy insisted on Instagram that the cast and crew hope to be back shooting as soon as they can, but, of course, everything is up in the air. If the show were able to start filming sooner than later, it's possible it could be on track for a fall release; the series is typically known to return in September/October and finish filming the final episodes as the season airs. AHS is always best when spooky season rolls around, anyway. 

How many episodes will AHS Season 10 be?

10 for 10! According to EW, Season 10 is confirmed for 10 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.

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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.

Of those names, there's, of course, a handful of returning stars like Bates, Rabe, Porter, and Wittrock, as well as recent favorites like Grossman, Lourd, and Ross -- but the most exciting, interesting addition definitely goes to former child star Macaulay Culkin, who's been absent from our screens for quite 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 early January 2020, "I have no idea what it will be… But I’m not coming back as a guest part, I will be a central character." All hail the AHS Supreme.

That's a pretty full roster of appearances already, although it does leave out several usuals. Emma Roberts, Angela Bassett, Denis O'Hare, Frances Conroy, and newbie Cody Fern are as yet nowhere to be found, same with Taissa Farmiga, who hasn't been in the series for some time despite fans eager to see more of her. Again, it's still early, so additional casting is likely to be revealed down the line. 

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 or announced, but a hint as to what it might be about was hidden last season in 1984, as the showrunner is known to do. He 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, an urban legends season seems like that's where AHS will be headed. More specifically, that comment could also mean we're in for another period season, this time set in the '70s. 

Fans have been eager to learn more about the aliens featured in Asylum since that season aired, and that seems like a serious possibility for Season 10 if the 1984 clue was as literal as we're led to believe. 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 something. Same goes for mermaids or something lurking in the water, since Murphy's cast announcement teaser did feature a beach. 

It sounds like the ocean is actually very central to the plot. Speaking to The Wrap, Murphy confirmed that the upcoming season is meant "to have a beach or sea theme and take place during the summer." The detail came up as he explained that he was worried he might have to change the season's theme entirely because what he "was going to shoot was dependent on a very specific moment" and "weather-dependent." It doesn't seem like he actually wants to go ahead and reroute the whole show, sharing on Instagram that they hope to shoot as soon as they can. So, if the nautical theme sticks -- perhaps because it needs warm weather for lots of shooting at sea -- a mermaid or at least sea monster theme definitely seems plausible. It does fit the urban legends hint! And who wouldn't like to see Billie Lourd as a siren luring men to their deaths? 

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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!

angelica ross ahs 1984
Angelica Ross in 'AHS: 1984' | FX

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. 

Apparently, there's a spin-off in the works, too. While each season of American Horror Story is, well, an American horror story and altogether the anthology makes up a collection of American horror stories -- an entirely new thing called American Horror Stories is on the way. (What a mouthful!) Ryan Murphy announced the upcoming show on Instagram in May 2020, and Deadline confirmed that it was in the works. It's said to be a companion to the original AHS, but takes the form of telling one standalone ghost story each episode. Think of it as bite-sized AHS. The showrunner announced the news by sharing a screenshot of a Zoom conference call with various members from the long-running, rotating cast, including even Jessica Lange, so perhaps the new series will be a check-in with beloved characters from past seasons. At the very least, it seems plausible that the American Horror Story stars will also be American Horror Stories stars. 

There's ultimately very little information on the spin-off, though, and news on the 10th 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.

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Sadie Bell is the entertainment editorial assistant at Thrillist. She's on Twitter at @mssadiebell