Follow TV Tropes


Series / American Horror Story: Apocalypse

Go To
Michael Langdon: What do you think?
Miriam Mead: Hail Satan.

Apocalypse is the eighth season of the Ryan Murphy's horror anthology series American Horror Story. The first episode aired on FX on September 12, 2018.

The world has ended. The lucky few who haven't been ravaged by radiation, violent stragglers, or both are kept in survival bunkers operated by a mysterious organization called The Cooperative.

Outpost 3, led by Wilhelmina Venable (Sarah Paulson), is one such bunker — and it's running out of resources fast. When Cooperative representative Michael Langdon (Cody Fern) arrives to cull a select few for the so-called Sanctuary, things get even weirder from there...

Apocalypse is also the long-awaited crossover between inaugural season Murder House (2011) and fan-favorite Coven (2013), with at least a few characters and cast members —including Fern's Langdon, now an adult— from each returning to reprise their roles.

Among the returning cast members are Paulson as Wilhelmina Venable and Cordelia Goode (from Coven) and Emma Roberts as Madison Montgomery (also from Coven), as well as Evan Peters as Mr. Gallant, Kathy Bates as Ms. Miriam Mead, Adina Porter as Dinah Stevens, Cheyenne Jackson, Billy Eichner, Leslie Grossman as Coco St. Pierre Vanderbillt, and Billie Lourd as Mallory, while new additions include Joan Collins as Evie Gallant, Billy Porter (Pose), Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (UnREAL (2015)), Kyle Allen as Timothy Campbell, Ash Santos as Emily and Fern as Michael Langdon (from Murder House).

American Horror Story: Apocalypse contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc:
    • Pretty much anything having to do with the post-apocalypse world. As soon as the witches appear, the season reverts to the events leading up to the nuclear war and is pretty much Coven 2.
    • Some of the warlocks are built up to be implied allies of the witches in their fight to stop Michael — until they are killed off-camera. The Alpha prophecy is also quickly forgotten once the characters realize Michael is something more.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • In Murder House, Evan Peters plays the Rubber Man (his character was Tate Langdon), who rapes Vivien while pretending to be Ben. This season, the Rubber Man rapes Mr. Gallant (played by Evan Peters) while pretending to be Michael Langdon.
    • Evan Peters plays Jeff, who mentions to Michael that he sleeps with Ryan Reynolds in "Sojourn". Peters had appeared in Deadpool 2 as Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver, while Ryan Reynolds played the titular character.
  • Adam and Eve Plot:
    • The obvious reason why the Cooperative picked exactly one woman and one man of ideal reproductive age and allegedly superior genes to live inside their Outpost with a bunch of servants and wealthy patrons who bought their way in.
    • Subverted in the finale. Timothy and Emily end up together again, once time is reversed, and they are revealed to be backup Antichrist parents.
  • Advertised Extra: The Rubber Man's return gets significant air time in the first three episodes, but he never shows up again. We never even find out how or why he's present, and his only part in the plot is to trick Gallant into killing his grandmother.
  • After the End:
    • Mostly subverted. Only the first three or four episodes fully take place after the apocalypse. After that, the post-apocalypse becomes an Aborted Arc, and the show doubles down on a Coven arc.
    • Briefly, at the beginning of the season, nukes detonate, all of forms of government are gone along with the rest of the world. What's left is an irradiated wasteland with all humanity (as far as we can tell) cramped into 10 outposts across the world: three are overrun within the first month and by the end of the premiere three more have fallen.
  • All for Nothing: By the end of the finale, the timeline is reset to 2015. That means most of the events of the season — including major character deaths and anything involving the Murder House storyline — are essentially erased. Mallory rescues Misty Day from Hell, prevents Queenie from traveling to the Hotel Cortez and says she will get Madison out of Hell eventually, Myrtle remains dead and Moira was never freed from the Murder House. Additionally, while Michael Langdon is dead, another Antichrist is born only a few years later to pick up where he left off.
  • Almighty Janitor: The witches serve this role for the American Horror Story universe.
    • "Return to Murder House" is downright heartwarming. The witches and warlocks are extremely well-equipped to handle its horrors. They wind up giving happy endings to the season’s more sympathetic characters. Murder House isn’t nearly as scary when facing its benevolent equals.
    • As for the apocalypse itself the witches are actually on top of it, becoming protectors of the world. Most of the season actually takes place before the event, after they predict it in a vision.
    • The Antichrist also comes off as in over his head, spending most of the plot dealing with what amounts to “mommy and daddy issues.” Satan (dad) won’t talk to him. His surrogate mom gets killed, so he has her rebuilt as an android. Yes... that is not a typo.
    • The same types of deals and conflicts happen similarly to the Coven arc, but with their stability and competent leadership, these get shot down very quickly. This kind of causes most conflicts to turn into Curb Stomp fights.
  • Anti-Climax: The apocalypse itself. The bombs drop, and a few people get to the main bunker. Then they wait. Then they all get poisoned and die. Witches and warlocks take over. The show then focuses on the events leading up to the apocalypse.
    • Despite spending the last several years honing their powers, the majority of the coven doesn't last even a minute in combat with Mead — a robot with a gun.
      • The surviving witches of the first massacre don't fare well, either. While the show builds up to an epic magical brawl, the witches are easily slaughtered by Michael one by one.
  • Apocalypse How: Very likely concerning the title of the season, and the fact that one of the main focuses of the season will be about Michael Langdon, who is dubbed The Antichrist due to being the product of rape between a human woman and a ghost and sharing his father's psychopathy. The first episode features broadcasts of major cities being bombarded by nuclear missiles followed by a longlasting nuclear winter.
    • Also subverted. While its hard to tell initially, because a lot of the plot still takes place in the bunker, most of the story pre-dates the apocalypse. The bunker during those scenes act as a hidden base of operations for magic casters.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Snake venom is actually almost harmless to ingest. It's only effective when injected directly into the bloodstream.
  • Ascended Meme: Madison repeats the memetic line "I bet you thought you'd seen the last of me".
  • Ass Pull: Mallory's power to turn back time, which the witches' plan relies on, is not foreshadowed or mentioned at all until she actually uses it for the first time.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Evie Gallant, who sells out her grandson in order to ensure her own place in the sanctuary, is killed by him due to Michael's manipulations.
    • Venable, the tyrannical leader of the outpost, whose last major act is to poison everyone, gets gunned down by Mead on Michael's orders.
  • Back from the Dead: Several character deaths from past seasons are undone throughout:
    • Myrtle has returned from the dead at some point since her (second) death in the final episode of Coven, having been brought back to life by Cordelia two years before the apocalypse.
    • Madison, who was strangled to death by Kyle in the final episode of Coven, and Queenie, who was killed by the ghosts of the Cortez in Hotel, are resurrected by Michael.
    • As part of his Seven Wonders test, Michael successfully resurrects Misty, who was trapped in Hell during hers in the Coven finale.
    • After learning how John Henry was murdered by Michael's allies, the coven has Mallory bring him back.
    • Subverted for Marie Laveau, who is later brought back as well in the finale in order to kill Dinah, but she is killed off again a few moments later via Michael ripping her heart out.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: According to the show, Anastasia Nikolaevna (as in, the daughter of the last sovereign of Imperial Russia, and inspiration of the 1997 animated film) was a witch who attempted (and failed) to protect her family from their demise.
  • Big Bad: Michael Langdon is the Antichrist behind the apocalypse.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Langdon-Harmon clan, and how. By the end of the sixth episode, Constance has killed herself to get away from Michael, Ben has abandoned Michael after caring for him following Constance's death, Tate has rejected Michael as his son, Vivien has tried to kill Michael only for him to try and destroy her (and be saved by Tate), and Tate and Violet have gotten back together (meaning Michael's half-sister is dating his father). The only upsides are that Vivien and Ben are on good terms again, and Violet and Tate are once more a couple, though YMMV on the last one.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Without the epilogue, it would work almost entirely as a case of Earn Your Happy Ending with a few bittersweet notes. The apocalypse is averted after Mallory kills Michael in the past, and thanks to this, Constance never commits suicide, Cordelia presumably gets to live longer since the absence of the Antichrist means that her powers won't wane as quickly, Queenie's life is saved since she never goes to the Hotel Cortez, Misty is freed from Hell and rejoins the Coven as a favor for killing the Antichrist, and Madison is set to have a similar return — eventually. At the same time, no looming threat of the Antichrist means that there is no reason to resurrect Myrtle, and Moira's soul still resides in Murder House, and while the Harmon family are still probably about as happy as they can be with their fate, Tate never gets a chance to reconcile with Violet. The bad news for everyone is that another Antichrist is still born years later (this time to Emily and Timothy) and the Devil will most likely have an endless supply of backup babies now that its canon the antichrist can be born from two regular humans, indicating that the battle between the devil and the witches for the fate of the earth will last for seemingly all eternity (either until the devil is permanently defeated by the witches and neutralized as a threat, or the the devil wins and the earth is irreversibly destroyed.) This is offset by the fact that Mallory still retains her knowledge of the time travel spell and the erased timeline, which indicates they'll be prepared for the future.
  • Body Horror: Venable has a twisted back, which causes her constant pain.
  • Bottle Episode: "Return to Murder House" is largely set within the titular home.
  • Burn the Witch!: At the end of "Traitor", Ariel, Baldwin, and the original Mead are burned at the stake for conspiring against the coven and killing John Henry.
  • Bury Your Gays:
    • Stu gets killed in "The End", followed by Gallant and Andre in "Forbidden Fruit". Michael also kills a lesbian couple named Grace and Elizabeth and destroy their souls. Subverted later, since thanks to time travel, Michael never killed them and Gallant, Andrew, Stu, Grace and Elizabeth are alive in the new timeline.
  • The Bus Came Back: Several long departed cast members return in this series, namely: Jessica Lange (last appeared in Freak Show), Lily Rabe, Taissa Farmiga, Kathy Bates (all last appeared in Roanoke, Gabourey Sidibe (last appeared in Hotel), Dylan McDermott (last appeared in Asylum), and Connie Britton (last appeared in Murder House). This also applies for their respective characters.
  • Call-Back:
    • In the first episode, Evan Peters's character ends up forced into a decontamination room, stripped naked and roughly cleansed, similarly to Kit Walker when he first came to Briarcliff.
    • When Venable introduces herself to Michael Langdon, she says "I'm in charge here" which is loosely based on one of Fiona Goode's iconic lines.
    • Michael Langdon's opening scene is set to "Tonight You Belong to Me", a theme that bookended Murder House.
    • Once again, Rubber Man shows up and has sex with someone who has a misconception about who's wearing the suit.
    • The residents of Outpost 3 are forced to listen to the same song over and over, similarly to the inmates of Briarcliff in Asylum.
    • Kathy Bates's character watches as everyone around her slowly dies from a poison she's given them, just like in Roanoke.
    • Watching footage of Michael using his powers in jail, one of the warlocks thinks it's a case of demonic possession, like what happened to Sister Mary Eunice in Asylum.
    • Actress/witch Bubbles McGee stars in a low budget horror movie based on a dangerous home invader who dresses up as Santa Claus. The character is based on Leigh Emerson, a resident of Briarcliff in Asylum who has the same MO.
  • Car Fu: After going back in time to before Michael came into his full power as the Antichrist, Mallory runs him over with an SUV. Then backs up over him, then runs him head on again, just to be sure.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: It is very obvious that despite feigning politeness, Myrtle is absolutely disgusted by Jeff and Mutt and their plans to wipe out humanity. The only reason she doesn't kill them (and she flatly admits that she really, really wants to) is because she needs them to ensure Coco and Mallory make it to the Outpost so the witches can counterattack Michael and Satan.
  • Celebrity Paradox: A character mentions Neil Patrick Harris, the actor who played Chester Creb in Freak Show.
  • Central Theme: Male insecurity versus female solidarity; nature versus nurture.
  • Color-Coded Castes: The Cooperative institutes a color-coded caste system where the elites are called "Purples" and wear purple clothing, while servants are called "Greys" and wear grey clothing
  • Condensation Clue: When Timothy takes a shower, fog on his mirror reveals that "666" has been traced on the glass.
  • Costume Porn: The Purple caste of Outpost 3 dons a variety of intricate historical garments.
  • Cozy Catastrophe: Deconstructed and subverted; the Outposts built by the Cooperative were done so with funding from the wealthy so you’d expect it to be something akin to a 5-star hotel like you’d typically see with this trope. You’d be wrong. The only source of light in Outpost 3 is by candlelight due to the Cooperative’s stance on technology, there’s only one radio which plays the same song on a loop, meals consist of a small cube which provides the necessary nutrients (so while still living, you're hungry), because of nuclear fallout you can never leave, and if you break any one of the rules you can executed just for speaking out of turn. This trope could be played with, as Mrs. Venable and Miriam are revealed to have lost contact with the Cooperative (believing it gone) and have taken to tormenting the other survivors simply because there's nothing else to do.
  • Crossover: Between Murder House and Coven. While this isn't the first time characters from other seasons will reappear in a different one, Apocalypse is using the crossover as a major marketing and creative hook.
  • Cyanide Pill: Michael offers to leave suicide pills behind for anyone at the outpost who isn't chosen to be taken to the main sanctuary, in case they get overrun afterwards.
  • Deader than Dead: Michael has the ability to completely erase a person's soul, as shown by what he does to the two lesbians who move into the Murder House, as well as many of the coven witches. Although Mallory later points out that energy can never be truly destroyed.
  • Death Is Cheap: Not surprising, given how prevalent this trope was in Coven. This season even magnifies this trope for the Coven arc.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Timothy and Emily are clearly the main heroes of the series... until they die in the mass poisoning of the outpost inhabitants. And when they return in the corrected timeline, they're still important... As the parents of the next Antichrist.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Venable is set up as the main antagonist, until Michael arrives at the end of the first episode to usurp her authority. And then she's dead by the end of the third episode.
  • Driven to Suicide: Constance Langdon, after seeing Michael age around 10 years in one night, and then murder the priest she brought in to intervene.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Zoe and Queenie are effortlessly taken out by Michael and Mead's slaughter of the coven, while John Henry, Behold and the other warlocks are all Killed Offscreen.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: In the finale, Cordelia gives Michael a scathing "The Reason You Suck" Speech, before killing herself so that Mallory can fully become the Supreme and become powerful enough to go back in time and prevent Michael's rise.
  • Enfante Terrible: The poster shows a very creepy baby being tended by what looks like a demon, a Call-Back to Michael Langdon.
    • Devan, Timothy and Emily's son, who murders his babysitter in true Antichrist fashion.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Venable and Miriam deny that they turned Stu's corpse into food, with the reasoning being that it's a line they wouldn't cross. "Deny" being the key word.
    • Even as cruel and vindictive as she ever was, Constance was still horrified by the pure evil Michael demonstrated.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Venable describes the roles of those who have taken shelter in the outpost; the purples are the upper class who are destined to prolong the human race and are treated with luxury as a result, the grays are the workers who tend to the needs of the purples. Venable herself doesn't consider herself either a purple or a gray, but the face of Cooperative.
    • When Langdon arrives, a new social division is initiated: those who "pass" his examination to enter the Sanctuary, and those who fail or refuse to be questioned.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The show is set in 2019. If Hotel, which features a segment set in 2022, is of any indication, then whatever apocalyptic event that occurs won't be the complete end of the world, suggesting that there's at least some sort of Cozy Catastrophe story element in play here. Additionally, Billie Dean Howard is still alive by that point, giving her Plot Armor. Most of the plot actually focuses on preventing the apocalypse, so this kind of becomes a double Foregone Conclusion, 1. The apocalypse gets stopped. 2. The Coven is successful with their mission.
  • Foreshadowing: Dinah Stevens's true nature is foreshadowed in the first episodes, especially in the scene where she talks wih Michael Langdon, asking "And what kind of soul is that?" after he tells her that her kind of soul is exactly what he wants. At the end of the season it is revealed that she sold her soul to the Devil, making it possible for Michael to kill off most of the coven so she could get her TV show.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend:
    • In episode 5, Cordelia claims that Michael brought all her girls back to life, with the noticeable exception of Nan — though it could be said that since Nan is the only one of them who wasn't sent to hell or became a ghost upon dying, she had no reason to return from the dead.
    • Discussed in "Traitor," however, when Cordelia arranges a meeting with Papa Legba. Nan is seen close by his side, and doesn't seem all too pleased with how Cordelia dealt with her death.
  • Fully Absorbed Finale: "Return to Murder House" serves as a Distant Finale to Murder House. Although due to Mallory going back in time and killing Michael before he met the warlocks and started his path to becoming the Antichrist, the events of the episode never happened. The key differences is that the Harmon family never split up over friction of raising the Antichrist, and while Moira is still trapped in the house, she no longer has to suffer Constance's presence.
  • The Generation Gap: One of the main themes appears to be rivalry between the older survivors (the baby boomers) and the younger survivors (the millennials) as they try to determine who among them is worthy of leaving the outpost to join the Sanctuary.
  • Gilligan Cut: The survivors recognize the song 'The Morning After' playing in the radio. This is big for them as the radio has never played a different song before thus leading everyone to believe that Cooperative is coming to save them. It then cuts to an Eighteen Months Later title card followed by a shot of the survivors, broken and disenheartened by this false hope.
  • Here We Go Again!: Although Mallory undid the apocalypse by going back in time and killing Michael before his powers fully manifested, a new Antichrist was born a few years later and was approached by the Satanists after he kills his babysitter.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: How the season handles Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan. In the real world, he was an atheistic humanist who founded his Church as a way of sticking it to Christianity in a particularly over-the-top fashion, while in Apocalypse, he's an actual Card-Carrying Villain who is honored to help lead the Antichrist to fulfill his destiny.
  • Hollywood Satanism: The Satanists in this series literally worship the Devil and Antichrist, want to bring about the end of the world, and perform rituals that involve human sacrifice. This is particularly inaccurate for Anton LaVey, as noted above.
  • Hope Spot: The aforementioned Gilligan Cut.
  • How We Got Here: The first couple of episodes are set in present time, but from episode 4 and onward, the season has been set two years before the apocalypse, as well as the lead-up before the apocalypse occurs.
  • Identical Stranger: Three characters played by Sarah Paulson appear in the series: Billie Dean Howard from Murder House, Cordelia Goode from Coven and a new character named Wilhelmina Venable. Both Taissa Farmiga's Murder House character Violet Harmon and her Coven character Zoe Benson appear as well. Evan Peters is playing both his Murder House character Tate Langdon and two new characters, Mr. Gallant and Jeff Pfister, and cameos as James March from Hotel in one episode. Frances Conroy plays both Myrtle Snow from Coven and Moira O'Hara from Murder House. Joan Collins plays two new characters, Evie Gallant and Bubbles McGee. Billy Eichner also plays two new characters, Mutt Nutter and Brock. Kathy Bates appears mostly as her new character Miriam Mead, and briefly as Delphine LaLaurie from Coven. Yet no one notices the resemblances.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: In one of the promos, Gallant makes mention of when they'll resort to cannibalism. In the pilot, Venable and Miriam feed the survivors the remains of Stu in a stew, much to their disgust and horror.
    • In Episode 6, the satanic ceremony performed to certify Langdon's role as The Antichrist involves him eating the heart of an unfortunate hitchhiker.
  • Just Before the End: The first twenty minutes or so of the first episode show what some of the cast was up to before everyone got nuked. Along with almost all of the last seven episodes of the season.
  • Large Ham:
    • Brock is wonderfully hammy and over the top.
    Brock: Coco, do NOT leave me in fucking Santa Monica! (sees plane flying away with Coco in it) YOU BIIIIIIIIIIIITCH!!!
    • The Gallants are no slouches in this department, either. Evie Gallant being a prime example and being played by Joan Collins helps.
    • Amazingly, Michael Langdon is a subversion. He is a Cold Ham, and it is especially noticeable given whom his grandmother is. That being said, even in his Cold Ham moments, his snark is hammy.
    • Jeff and Mutt, who frequently say ridiculous things while snorting unholy amounts of cocaine.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Cordelia refers to the Murder House as the place "where it all started", which is true both for Michael's origins and the series as a whole.
  • Lighter and Softer: This season is much campier than earlier seasons. Few threats ever actually come to fruition.
    • The Dreaded of this arc doesn’t quite have the same presence as the killer clown, or Papa Legba.
    • Pretty much all the good guy deaths in the witch season are undone.
    • A large number of deaths in this season tend to come off as minor annoyances more than anything truly tragic.
    • Since the witches and warlocks are all genre-savvy spellcasters, they have significantly better command over their circumstances than one-shot characters from other seasons.
  • Mundane Utility: One of the implied general benefits of selling your soul to Satan is being able to do massive amounts of drugs with no long-term ill effects to your health or bad trips: Madelyn states the above when showing off her house to Michael, and when one of the girls entertaining Jeff and Mutt asks them how they're still alive and ticking despite the fact that they spend 95% of their time with their noses in piles of coke, they both make thinly-veiled references to the Devil.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: The organization that operates the outposts during the apocalypse are known as "Cooperative". They are a stern and serious group that is unafraid to use violence and murder in order to have the survivors cooperate. It also says something when Michael Langdon aka The Antichrist is one of the leading heads of the group. "Fire and Reign" reveals that they're actually The Illuminati operating under a rebranded name, and achieved their levels of wealth and influence via selling their souls to Satan.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: As this is largely a Coven sequel, this is to be expected. The Antichrist's plans are thwarted by Mallory's time-traveling ability, which she happened to discover one episode before.
  • New Technology Is Evil: According to Venable, technology was what led to the end of the world and is treated with disdain by the Cooperative. The outpost uses candlelight for lighting along with minimal technological inventions. Subverted with the reveal that Michael, one of the heads of the Cooperative, uses an Apple laptop and that Venable made up that rule to tighten her control over the Outpost.
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: Cordelia Goode vs. Michael Langdon.
  • Overly Pre-Prepared Gag: Even though framing Stu as being contaminated by radiation with the rigged Geiger counter so that Venerable can have him shot and served to the other survivors as a "special treat" serves as a good demonstration of Venerable's morals or lack thereof, the fact that he's specifically made into a stew so Andre can realize that "the stew is Stu!" seems a bit too intentional.
  • Playing Catch with the Old Man: Michael Langdon has a catch with his temporary father-figure Ben Harmon. It's meant to demonstrate Michael's great strength and growth when he hurts Ben. The camera clearly shows the ball is barely moving, but Ben acts like he just caught a Major League fastball, making it hilarious
  • The Purge: In "Fire and Reign", Michael wipes out most of the coven, and all of the warlocks.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Michael, while under Constance's care, aged 10 years in one night. He still acts and speaks like a child, despite almost choking his grandmother to death and murdering a priest.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The poster is that of a crimson baby (probably covered in blood) being tended by a black demonic hand, in addition to an all red background with black fonts.
  • Robotic Reveal: Mead gets shot by Timothy, and the wound starts oozing a white goo, while electric sparks flash further in.
  • Rogue Agent: Venable and Mead's private conversation in the first episode makes it clear that they're operating on their own rules, separate from the Cooperative's oversight. The following episode confirms this, as Michael reveals that the no sex rule, and the summary execution punishment for breaking it, were not part of the Cooperative's guidelines for the outposts.
  • Sadistic Choice: Cordelia is given one of these courtesy of Papa Legba: he will help stop Michael once and for all, in exchange for the souls of all of Cordelia's students.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: In the finale, Mallory goes back in time to kill Michael before he could fully come into his power as the Antichrist, averting the apocalypse. Afterwards, she also takes the time to prevent Queenie from taking her fatal trip to the Cortez.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Post-reset, the only major differences from pre-season are that Queenie doesn't die in the Hotel Cortez, Misty is resurrected as a favor to Mallory, and Madison is implied to eventually get out of Hell.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The shot from the official trailer with Michael looking into the camera with white eyes bears a strong resemblance to the scenes from The Incredible Hulk (1977) whenever David Banner hulks out.
    • Color-coded caste system in an underground complex? Sounds like the Paranoia RPG. especially with purples on top...
    • The use of "Time in a Bottle" in the soundtrack is a direct nod to a scene of Quicksilver, played by Evan Peters, displaying his abilities in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
    • The frothy white blood substitute coming out of Mead's chest during her Robotic Reveal is strongly reminiscent of Ash's in Alien.
    • Mallory makes reference to the Dark Phoenix when attempting to explain how she seemingly set an entire room on fire with her mind.
    • A series of murders on Halloween, orchestrated by a man named Michael.
    • Cordelia refers to the Hotel Cortez as a Hellmouth, with the Murder House also being referred to as one later in the series.
    • "Return to Murder House" contains multiple references to The Omen. There's repeated uses of that film's iconic Ominous Latin Chanting, and during the Black Mass human sacrifice scene, one of the cultists tells Michael "it's all for you", which in the film Damien's nanny says right before hanging herself.
    • "Traitor" opens with Bubbles McGee in a B-movie horror film about a woman who murders her husband on Christmas Eve, before herself being murdered by a serial killer dressed as Santa Claus. It's a Whole-Plot Reference to a story in the 1972 Tales from the Crypt film, with Joan Collins essentially reprising her role.
    • In "Apocalypse Then", after Mead explodes, she sings "Daisy Bell" as she deactivates, like HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey. A shout out also used in a modern episode of Doctor Who.
  • Shout-Out: The 10/24 episode contains an extended shoutout to the Tales From the Crypt story "And All Through the House", where an escaped madman in a Santa suit stalks a woman who murdered her husband. Joan Collins, who starred in the movie's version of the tale, plays a witch actress who is filming a similar story.
  • Social Darwinist: The Cooperative determines humans' worthiness of survival mostly by the quality of their genes which is how Timothy and Emily get into Outpost 3.
  • Spear Counterpart: This season expands on the concept of warlocks and (their relation to witches) by introducing a warlock coven counterpart to Miss Robichaux's.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The show ceases to be about the people of Outpost 3 once the Coven witches show up, with the core narrative instead being told through their eyes in a series of flashback episodes showing the rise of Michael Langdon in the events leading up to the apocalypse.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Crossover: Initially announced as a crossover between Murder House and Coven, the season turns out to be actually a full continuation of Coven and, Michael Langdon and The Antichrist plot aside, the cast and the setting of Murder House returns for one episode.
  • Stealth Pun: Billy Eichner's character is abandoned by Coco when he gets stuck in traffic and people start attacking the airplane. In other words, she left Billy on the Street.
  • Stealth Sequel: Downplayed. Though it was already known that Coven would connect to this season somehow before it began airing, it really becomes one to Coven in the third episode, which officially introduces the witches of Miss Robichaux's into the plot after almost completely jettisoning its original concept and set of characters. The fourth episode is mostly comprised of building on the lore of Coven and reacquainting the audience with its primary cast. "Return to Murder House" even has the end credits la-la-la song from Coven rather than the theme used so far in the Apocalypse end credits.
  • That Thing Is Not My Child!: In "Return to Murder House", when Michael calls Tate "Dad", Tate screams at Michael that he is not his son because even he could never have created something so evil and monstrous.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: When Venable and Mead flog Gallant as punishment for rules violations, they quickly realize that he's getting off on it.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailer scenes are almost completely exclusive to the first three episodes. They suggest a Death World with a lot of radiation-suit-themed chaos. This season is really a sequel to Coven, and a wrap-up / second visit to locations covered in other seasons.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The Coven witches appearing at the end of the third episode would have been a much bigger twist if it hadn't featured in trailers before the season aired.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The season begins in October 2019, about a year after the first episode airs in our world.
  • The Unreveal: Despite the return of the Rubber Man from Murder House, it never plays a part in the plot, and we never find out how it is able to escape the Murder House, or even who's inside it.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The warlocks think that Michael is the key to them gaining dominance in the magical world for the first time. Michael, in turn, is just using them to get in a position to wipe out all magic users who might threaten his plans.
  • Wham Episode: By the end of the third episode, most of the main cast up to that point has been killed off, Michael reveals to Mead that she's based on his adoptive mother and this was all his plan, only for a trio of Coven witches (Cordelia, Madison and Myrtle) to arrive at Outpost 3 to the tune of the Rolling Stones' "She's a Rainbow" to revive Mallory, Coco and Dinah.
  • Wham Shot: The end of episode five. As she tells Madison and Behold, Cordelia's plan to take down Michael means going back to the beginning — specifically, the Murder House.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: One from Murder House is finally, partially, answered. Constance Langdon's fourth child was a little blonde girl named Rose with no eyes, who died in the Murder House and is a ghost there alongside her brothers Tate and Beauregard. However, we still have no information on the circumstances of her death.
    • The Satanic coven Mead belongs to shows up for one episode and is never referenced again, except for the final scene.
    • What became of Marie Laveau and Dinah Stevens after the reset?
      • Or even Tate, Violet, and Moira?
  • The Worf Effect: In an unannounced crossover, teenage Michael Langdon visits Hotel Cortez; his mere presence causing Hotel main antagonist James Patrick March to immediately cower and drop his usual smug bravado, and waltzes out with Queenie.
    • The same can be said for Cordelia. Despite being the Supreme for less than 5 years, she's already displayed signs of decay and weakness, indicating that a new Supreme may soon usurp her position. Justified since she should have replaced Fiona earlier than she did, but was supressed.
  • Xanatos Gambit: In episode five, Cordelia demands Michael resurrect Misty Day to prove he's indeed an Alpha, and her eventual successor. He's successful and the warlocks celebrate because of it, but when Misty says she senses evil in Langdon, Cordelia points out that his victory also resulted in him resurrecting all of her fallen witches, accidentally giving them an advantage they wouldn't have had otherwise.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Michael vaporizes Madison's head during the final showdown.

♫ Come, if you're curious to see
Pull the tricks out of my sleeve
All you find is yours to keep
Brave, are you brave enough to meet
The desires that you seek
Hold my hand, I'll set you free... ♫