Over the course of seven spine-chilling seasons, ‘American Horror Story’ has soundly established itself as one of the best horror shows on TV. If you’re just working up the courage to check out the show for the first time, here’s everything you’ll need to know about ‘American Horror Story’ to get all caught up!

The show was inspired by a time when series creator Ryan Murphy was walking through the train station and saw a rat sitting on top of a cat sitting on top of a dog sitting on top of a ghost: In early 2009, Murphy was walking through a deserted train station at night when he came face to face with the terrifying sight of a rat (horrifying rodent) stacked on top of a cat (pet for witches) stacked on top of a dog (baby werewolf) stacked on top of a ghost (malicious ghoul from beyond the grave). This frightening stack made Murphy scream for a whole day, and gave him the inspiration to create a horror anthology show for television.


Despite interest from major networks such as NBC, series creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk ultimately ended up going to FX because FX had a Scream mask with a blood pump and NBC just had a regular one: Production values and special effects go a long way on a television show, so when Murphy and Falchuk learned that FX had one of those awesome Scream masks that squirts the blood, they simply couldn’t turn them down. The Scream mask with the blood has been used in every single episode of American Horror Story and is considered by fans and critics alike to be the scariest thing on the show.

The show is pretty creepy if you imagine it as something that’s happening in real life: The characters in American Horror Story are always getting chased around and killed by ghosts and witches and monster clowns, and all of that is very scary, but a secret Easter egg of the show is that it gets even scarier if you imagine that the ghosts and witches and monster clowns actually exist and are coming to kill you for real.

The scariest season of AHS is widely considered to be American Horror Story: Watching The Grudge On YouTube: Every fan has a favorite season, but most agree that the most terrifying is number four, in which characters played by Dylan McDermott, Evan Peters, and Sarah Paulson huddle around a computer to watch The Grudge on YouTube. The sound is a little off and the whole movie seems like it’s playing at 1.2x speed, but it’s still the creepiest thing AHS has ever done.


Season eight will reportedly star Joseph Fiennes as a shy intellectual-property lawyer who’s horrified to learn that his newest client wants to patent the idea of ghosts: It’s all rumors at this point, but the story of a quiet attorney forced by professional ethics to try to get his client’s patent for the idea of terrifying ghosts officially registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office sounds like one of the most hair-raising AHS stories ever.