American Horror Story seasons in order, plus reviews, trailers, plots and the show’s stars

Kim Kardashian in American Horror Story season 12 (American Horror Story: Delicate | Official Teaser - Rock-a-Bye | FX)
Kim Kardashian in American Horror Story season 12 (American Horror Story: Delicate | Official Teaser - Rock-a-Bye | FX)

The weather is getting darker and rainier by the second and there is a whiff of Autumnal cosiness, and even spookiness, in the air, indicating that October and Halloween are now just around the corner.

To usher in the fast-approaching witchy season, there are few better things to do than watch a good old bit of horror. And, happily for Americans, the first part of American Horror Story: Delicate – the 12th season of the popular anthology series from Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk – was released yesterday.

The new season is reportedly based on author Danielle Valentine’s Delicate Condition, a newly released novel which is being billed as a story which brings Rosemary’s Baby into the modern day. It stars Emma Roberts alongside Matt Czuchry (The Good Wife), Kim Kardashian, Cara Delevingne, Annabelle Dexter-Jones (Succession), Denis O’Hare (Dallas Buyers Club) and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez (Loot).

For UK viewers, there is more time to wait until the series is available for viewing. Typically the FX American Horror Story series have been released on Disney+, but as of yet there is no confirmed UK release date for Delicate.

Nevertheless, the new season has reminded UK fans about the thrilling 11 seasons of the show – it’s been a wild ride. But there have been so many plotlines, characters, shocking moments and twists and turns that it can sometimes be difficult to remember what happened when, and the order of the stories.

To help iron it all out, here we breakdown the seasons, reviews, plots and the show’s leading actors.

Season one: Murder House

Original release date: 2011

Number of episodes: 12

Plot: The debut season launched with a story about a family who moved into a haunted mansion in Los Angeles.

Leading cast: Jessica Lange, Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Evan Peters, Taissa Farmiga and Denis O’Hare.

Celebrities: Special guest stars this season included Kate Mara (The Martian) and Zachary Quinto (Star Trek).

Reviews: Murder House did brilliantly, was nominated for 11 Emmys and over three million viewers ended up watching the first season.

The show received mixed reviews, but some enjoyed the anthology show’s take on the horror genre. The Washington Post said: “Overdoing things is one of Murphy’s trademark flaws, but this show has a captivating style and giddy gross-outs.”

Rotten Tomato Tomatometer score: 72 per cent

Season two: Asylum

Original release date: 2012

Number of episodes: 13

Plot: The second season followed all the horror and drama that went down in the mental institution Briarcliff Manor.

Leading cast: Zachary Quinto, Joseph Fiennes, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Lizzie Brocheré, James Cromwell and Jessica Lange.

Celebrities: Lovejoy’s Ian McShane and actor and model Chloë Sevigny both featured in the second season.

Reviews: The New York Post said, “I need to enter [an asylum] myself after two hours of this craziness,” but The Huffington Post said, “It’s to the credit of Asylum’s writers, directors and cast that the emotional pain of the characters often feels as real as their uncertainty and terror.” The show picked up 11 Creative Arts Emmy nominations, and four Primetime Emmy nominations.

Rotten Tomato Tomatometer score: 84 per cent

Season three: Coven

Original release date: 2013

Number of episodes: 13

Plot: Season three followed the lives of members of a coven of witches living in New Orleans. The episodes included frequent flashbacks to their lives over the past centuries.

Leading cast: Sarah Paulson, Taissa Farmiga, Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under), Evan Peters, Lily Rabe (The Undoing), Emma Roberts, Denis O’Hare, Kathy Bates (Two and a Half Men) and Jessica Lange.

Celebrities: Angela Bassett, Stevie Nicks and Gabourey Sidibe (Precious).

Reviews: Coven picked up some great reviews including from The Guardian who said that the third series, “could be American Horror Story’s best instalment yet,” and Entertainment Weekly, which said, “Week to week, the excesses of Coven were wickedly amusing.”

Rotten Tomato Tomatometer score: 85 per cent

Season four: Freak Show

Original release date: 2014

Number of episodes: 13

Plot: Season four took audiences back to the Fifties, and reimagined the lives of some of the people taking part in a ‘freak show’.

Leading cast: Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Michael Chiklis (Fantastic Four), Frances Conroy, Denis O’Hare, Emma Roberts, Finn Wittrock (Noah), Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, Lily Rabe, Gabourey Sidibe, Danny Huston (Children of Men) and Jessica Lange.

Celebrities: Wes Bentley (American Beauty), Neil Patrick Harris and Matt Bomer (The Magnificent Seven).

Reviews: The Guardian once again praised the show, saying, “Even though it is now halfway through its fourth season, there’s still something of a breath of fresh air about American Horror Story,” and describing Freak Show as, “the strongest season of the show so far.”

Rotten Tomato Tomatometer score: 77 per cent

Season five: Hotel

Original release date: 2015

Number of episodes: 12

Plot: The fifth season of the show was set in a haunted hotel in Los Angeles. Strange and sinister things start to happen, including a disfigured creature being found in a matress, visions, a rape by a demon and a murder.

Leading cast: Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Wes Bentley, Matt Bomer, Chloë Sevigny, Denis O’Hare, Mare Winningham (The War), Cheyenne Jackson (American Woman), Finn Wittrock, Lily Rabe, Gabourey Sidibe and Angela Bassett.

Celebrities: Lady Gaga, Naomi Campbell.

Reviews: New York Magazine described it as, “confusing, tedious, annoyingly precious, and often ostentatiously brutal”; TheWrap said, “It’s a visual, visceral romp into what is being set up to be another haphazard foray into the world of horror”. But fans were particularly excited to see Gaga join the cast.

Rotten Tomato Tomatometer score: 64 per cent

Season six: Roanoke

Original release date: 2016

Number of episodes: 10

Plot: In the first half of Roanoke, North Carolina couple Shelby and Matt Miller are interviewed by a TV crew about their experiences in a haunted house. The TV show includes a series of reenactments and becomes a major success. But things get seriously scary when a TV network tries to make a follow up docuseries.

Leading cast: Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding Jr. (The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story), Lily Rabe, André Holland (The Knick), Denis O’Hare, Wes Bentley, Evan Peters, Cheyenne Jackson, Angela Bassett, Finn Wittrock and Frances Conroy.

Celebrities: Lady Gaga, Trixie Mattel

Reviews: The Hollywood reporter said, “It’s the most curious I’ve been about future instalments in a long time,” while IndieWire said the show had, “a promising start with a central mystery as tantalizing as the ads teasing it.”

Rotten Tomato Tomatometer score: 74 per cent

Season seven: Cult

Original release date: 2017

Number of episodes: 11

Plot: Cult was set in 2017 and imagined the emergence of a cult-style group in Brookfield Heights, Michigan, which takes to the streets after Trump wins the 2016 US elections – yes, rather close for comfort.

Leading cast: Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Cheyenne Jackson, Billie Lourd, Alison Pill (Vice), Emma Roberts, Frances Conroy, Billy Eichner (Parks and Recreation), Mare Winningham.

Celebrities: Lena Dunham

Reviews: Vanity Fair wasn’t a huge fan, saying, “It’s hard to enjoy this season’s better aspects when they’re all inextricably linked to such a lazy, cynical political allegory.” IndieWire agreed, describing the season as an “apolitical Snoozefest”. However The Guardian gave Cult four-stars, calling it a, “messy but gripping document of political paranoia in the wake of the 2016 election.”

Rotten Tomato Tomatoemeter score: 73 per cent

Season eight: Apocalypse

Original release date: 2018

Number of episodes: 10

Plot: The ante was well and truly upped in Apocalypse as witches from season three’s Coven went head to head with the Antichrist.

Leading cast: Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Adina Porter (True Blood), Billie Lourd, Leslie Grossman, Cody Fern (The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story), Emma Roberts, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Lily Rabe, Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates.

Celebrities: Joan Collins, Stevie Nicks and Billy Porter.

Reviews: Vox said, “Apocalypse was somehow both absolutely nuts and largely forgettable.” Vanity Fair enjoyed the debut episode, saying, “With its campy approach and delightfully absurd aesthetic, this premiere is a satisfying return to form.”

Rotten Tomato Tomatoemeter score: 79 per cent

Season nine: 1984

Original release date: 2019

Number of episodes: 9

Plot: 1984 was set in Eighties Los Angeles. Brooke and her friends Montana, Xavier, Chet and Ray start working at the newly reopened Camp Redwood, where a mass-murder took place in the Seventies. The site, it seems, is forever unlucky: a serial killer turns up at the rural Californian camp and bodies start piling up.

Leading cast: Emma Roberts, Billie Lourd, Leslie Grossman, Cody Fern, Matthew Morrison (Grey’s Anatomy), John Carroll Lynch (Zodiac), Angelica Ross, Zach Villa (Shameless) and Orla Brady (Into the Badlands).

Celebrities: Gus Kenworthy (the former freestyle skier).

Reviews: Screen Rant said: “AHS: 1984 is actually an underrated gem. Its story is creative and unique while playing on the ridiculous nature of the slasher horror sub-genre.” In its review of episode two, Newsweek said, “American Horror Story was back to its berserk ways last night.”

Rotten Tomato Tomatoemeter score: 88 per cent

Season 10: Double Feature

Original release date: 2021

Number of episodes: season 10 was released in two parts. Part one, which was titled Red Tide, was made up of six episodes, while the second story, Death Valley, was made up of four.

Plot: The tenth season’s two stories both explored kinds of extraterrestrials. In the first, a family who move from New York City to Massachusetts for a three month stay end up being forever changed after engaging with a number of the town’s peculiar inhabitants. In the second, a group of students who go camping get drawn into a terrifying conspiracy.

Leading cast: Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Finn Wittrock, Frances Conroy, Billie Lourd, Leslie Grossman, Adina Porter, Angelica Ross, Macaulay Culkin, Ryan Kiera Armstrong and Denis O’Hare.

Celebrities: model Kaia Gerber.

Reviews: “American Horror Story season 10 is a supreme return to form,” said Digital Spy. However, Screen Rant published an article titled, “Why Double Feature is the worst season (Not Roanoke).”

Rotten Tomato Tomatometer score: 80 per cent

Season 11: NYC

Original release date: 2022

Number of episodes: 10

Plot: NYC was set in Eighties New York and told the story of a series of deaths in the gay community committed by a serial killer.

Leading cast: Russell Tovey (The History Boys), Joe Mantello (The Watcher), Billie Lourd (Booksmart), Denis O’Hare, Charlie Carver (Desperate Housewives), Leslie Grossman (Popular), Sandra Bernhard (Pose), Isaac Cole Powell (Indoor Boys), Zachary Quinto and Patti LuPone (Beau Is Afraid).

Reviews: The 11th season picked up a hefty number of positive reviews. “NYC feels like nothing AHS has ever attempted,” said Den of Geek. “The first two episodes of AHS NYC... almost feel like Ryan Murphy attempting to marry the more prestige TV elements of something like Murphy’s Netflix smash-hit Dahmer and American Crime Story with the very specific subculture exploration of Pose and the general ambiance of a sleazier, grimier Cruising.”

Rotten Tomato Tomatometer score: 71 per cent

Season 12: Delicate

Original release date: 2023

Number of episodes: As with AHS NYC, the series will be split into two parts. The first part is made up of four episodes, while we don’t know how many episodes part two will consist of yet.

Plot: The new season marks the first time that the anthology series has been based on an actual book. The show will adapt Danielle Valentine’s book Delicate Condition, which one reviewer has described as, “the feminist update to Rosemary’s Baby we all needed”.

Leading cast: Emma Roberts, Matt Czuchry (The Good Wife), Annabelle Dexter-Jones (Succession), Michaela Jaé Rodriguez (Loot), Denis O’Hare (Dallas Buyers Club) and Julie White (Chuck Lorre).

Celebrities: Kim Kardashian, Cara Delevingne.

Reviews: The reviews so far have been mixed, with Deadline saying, “American Horror Story turns 12 this year and you’d never know it... It’s as young and vibrant as it was back in 2011,” but with US Today saying, “Just when we thought we’d freed ourselves from American Horror Story, which has been virtually unwatchable for nearly a decade, the mega-producer lured us back into his gory, gimmicky fold with Season 12.”

Kardashian, however, has picked up quite a bit of praise: “The few times the premiere episode has a pulse come when Kardashian is onscreen,” said US Today.

Rotten Tomato Tomatometer score: So far there haven’t been enough reviews for the show to garner a Rotten Tomato score.

There is currently no UK release date for American Horror Story: Delicate