American Horror Story: 1984: Could a Long-Held Fan Theory Reveal the Real Theme for Season 9?

American Horror Story will return for its ninth season, the '80s slasher inspired 1984, and first teasers for the season have already shown that the latest installment of the horror anthology series will be full of era-accurate clothing, summer camp vibes, and serious slasher themes. In the most recent trailer, a knife-wielding killer lurks behind a cabin door, ready to take out the unsuspecting camper while in another, a man comes up from the water to murder a bikini clad camper in a boat.

But, what if there's more to the "theme" of the season than just some Friday the 13th style horror? That's what an older fan theory suggests, specifically that each of the seasons of American Horror Story have all been part of an overall "Dante's Inferno" meta theme and now, with Season 9, we may have finally hit upon the "lust" season.

For a bit of backstory, we have to go all the way back to 2014 when the Coven season was airing. Back then, a fan theory surfaced that suggested that while each season of American Horror Story was distinctly different, they were all connected by a larger theme, that of Dante's Inferno in that each season was themed to one of the nine circles of hell from the classic installment of the Divine Comedy. In Inferno, each of the circles of hell is specific to the type of sinner and sin committed with the sins getting worse the closer to the center. The nine circles, in order, are Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and Treachery.

Like most theories, this one kind of floated around a bit but lost a bit of steam until 2017 when American Horror Story co-creator Ryan Murphy posted a list of the nine circles on Instagram and assigned each of the then-seven seasons to a circle. You can check it out below.

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The only two circles unaccounted for at that time were Lust and Violence. Since the image was posted, Apocalypse has come and gone and now, we're just over a month away from 1984. If Murphy's list is correct, Apocalypse and 1984 fit in there somewhere -- the only question being which circle is which season. And that's where we get to do some speculation. It would be easy to dismiss Apocalypse as Lust and thus make 1984 about Violence. After all, sex had a weirdly significant place in Apocalypse, with the Rubber Man returning, and sex being so forbidden in Outpost 3. However, if you look at the Apocalypse season more carefully, it's violence that appears to be the most dominant theme. Not only did Michael literally blow up the world with nukes, there's also a lot of other violence in season. A great example of this is how Mallory (Billie Lourd) takes out Michael (Cody Fern) in order to prevent the Apocalypse from ever happening.

If Apocalypse is Violence then, that would make 1984 Lust -- and the teasers we've seen so far sort of bear that out. First, the casting announcement video there's some interesting attention paid to Matthew Morrison's character's anatomy as he has a very noticeable bulge in his shorts, something that seems a bit odd as compared to the other characters in the teaser. Then, there's the sunbathing boater in her bikini getting attacked in the second teaser and, in the most recent, the left-behind friend is targeted when his roommate goes off for a "walk" with an attractive young woman at the camp. Add to that the significance sex often plays in teen slashers where one of the "tropes" is that first teens to have sex are also the first to die, and it seems a lot like 1984 will take the Lust circle.

If 1984 is Lust and completes the circles, that does leave some questions about what Season 10 would be. The series has already been renewed through Season 10 which could mean that the tenth season may take viewers into actual Hell, though it's also possible that Murphy doesn't quite know where Season 10 will take things. At Tuesday's Television Critics Association press tour, FX Networks and FX Productions CEO John Landgraf said he doesn't think Murphy has fully explored Season 9 just yet, much less had an idea for Season 10.


"The thing about Ryan that is so interesting to me... I'm a planner and he is a man of emotion and spontaneity," Landgraf said. "He gets these inspirations, and when he gets them, he goes. The truth is, I would really be surprised if Ryan had an idea at the moment for the 10th episode of [Season 9]. If he has it, he hasn't shared it with me. I'm methodical and he's unbelievably rigorous in what he does. He's a person of impulse."

American Horror Story: 1984, featuring Emma Roberts, Leslie Grossman, Cody Fern, John Carroll Lynch, and Billie Lourd, Matthew Morrison, Angelica Ross, DeRon Horton, and Gus Kenworth, will premiere on Wednesday, September 18th on FX.