ByAllanah Faherty, writer at
Senior staff writer | Twitter: @allanahfaherty | Email: [email protected]
Allanah Faherty

While [American Horror Story](series:206668) might be over for another season, it will be back with a vengeance with Season 5 sometime in October. The show, which was created by Ryan Murphy, is interesting as it is an anthology series, changing characters and settings each season, rather than progressing with the same story like most TV shows.

Due to changing setting with each season, American Horror Story has been able to introduce a wide variety of characters, many of whom were actually inspired by real people and real events.

Take a look at these 8 instances of characters from the show and tell me if you can think of any others in the comments below:

Season 1: The Black Dahlia

Back in Murder House in Season 1, Mena Suvari appeared in two episodes as Elizabeth Short, the woman who is most famously known as The Black Dahlia. In real life Short, a 22-year-old aspiring actress, was horrifically murdered in 1947 - her body cut in half, and her cheeks cut outward from her mouth giving her a "Glasgow smile." Elizabeth Short's case is one of the longest unsolved murders in Los Angeles history.

Season 1: Richard Speck Case

Another real life event inspired the storyline from Season 1, which involved two nurses being killed in the Murder House. While the characters of the nurses themselves weren't based on specific people, their murders were inspired by the Richard Speck massacre in 1966. Speck was responsible for the torture, rape and murder of eight student nurses in one night.

Season 2: Barney and Betty Hill

In Season 2, Asylum, we were introduced the interracial couple Kit and Alma, because the season had a lot to do with alien abductions, it seems a fitting tribute that Kit and Alma were based on Barney and Betty Hill, another interracial couple who had the first widely-reported story of being abducted by aliens, in 1961. Over the years the Hills story was doubted and scrutinized, though under hypnosis they were able to relay details of what had apparently happened on the UFO.

Season 3: Madame Delphine LaLaurie

In Season 3, Coven, we met the wealthy socialite Delphine LaLaurie, who on the side, enjoyed horrifically torturing her slaves. What is even more frightening is that LaLaurie was very much a real person. One story reports that after her 12-year-old slave Lia accident snagged her hair when brushing it, she chased her around the house with a whip until Lia fell from the roof of LaLaurie's mansion trying to escape punishment. After then being fined, and made to sell her slaves, she was secretly able to buy more whom she then tortured in unimaginable ways. When police attended a fire at the LaLaurie mansion in 1834 (which was set by the cook as a means of suicide), they, according to the New Orleans Bee, allegedly found "seven slaves, more or less horribly mutilated ... suspended by the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other", who claimed to have been imprisoned there for some months."

Season 3: The Axeman of New Orleans

The evil Axeman who terrified us in Coven was another character based on a real person, though spookily we still don't know his true identity. Between 1818 and 1819 there were many murders committed in the New Orleans area. The murders were committed using axes or straight razors which were owned by the residents of the houses he broke into - talk about sick! The crazy storyline of The Axeman in Coven requesting people play jazz music to save their live, was based on an actual event where the real Axeman threatened to kill anyone in a home not playing jazz. Luckily no one was killed on that particular night, however the real Axeman was never found or identified.

Season 4: Grady Stiles Jr.

The 'lobster' handed character of Jimmy Darling in Season 4, Freak Show, was another American Horror Story character based on a real person. Grady Stiles Jr. was born into a family with many members who suffered from the same 'Lobster Claw Syndrome' aka ectrodactyly. Grady was forced into performing at a young age and later became an abusive alcoholic. He murdered his daughter's fiancé in 1978 when he did not approve of the marriage. In 1993 he was shot dead by a neighbor who had been hired by Grady's first wife (whom he'd also recently married).

Season 4: Edward Mordrake

Edward Mordrake was a minor character who had an important role in Season 4, Freak Show, he was also based on a very real person. The real Edward Mordrake lived sometime during the 1800s and suffered from a very strange and unusual deformity: a face on the back of his head. Apparently the small face whispered or muttered incessantly, was seen to smile and sneer when Mordrake was weeping, he dubbed it his 'devil twin.' Unable to bear it any longer, Mordrake committed suicide when he was 23, and requested in his suicide note that the 'demon face' be destroyed before his burial in case it continued haunting him in his grave.

Season 4: John Wayne Gacy

The fan-favorite character of Twisty was undoubtedly based on the most famous killer clown, John Wayne Gacy. Despite Gacy never committing a murder while wearing a clown suit, unlike Twisty, he is no doubt the inspiration. Gacy frequently performed as Pogo the Clown, but also enjoyed raping and killing over 33 young men. Gacy died by lethal injection in 1994, and unlike Twisty never redeemed himself from his gruesome acts.

There have been many more real life inspirations on American Horror Story, which is your favorite? Tell us HERE!

Source:, Pop Sugar, Buzzfeed, Home of the Nutty


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