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The Moment In American Horror Story: 1984 That Made Fans Cry

American Horror Story is not known for being sentimental. To be fair, the show's characters mainly exist as fodder for increasingly inventive murders, so getting attached to them is unwise. But if you wash away the gallons of blood and look beyond the serial killers, vengeful ghosts, demons, and devil worshippers, you'll realize that the show's creators usually find some way to slip in an emotional element. That's why so many fans have found that in addition to making them shudder, scream, and even gag, there are a surprising number of American Horror Story moments that made fans cry. Life-and-death situations do have a way of upping the emotional ante, after all.

At first, American Horror Story: 1984 looked like it might be the most superficial season the show had ever put out. It riffed on retro slasher movies, which, in turn, had thrived on characters reduced to stereotypes — something two characters in this season even had a meta conversation about. However, at some point, the season took a turn, and the killer himself became a surprisingly sympathetic character — to the point that fans were crying for him and his family. If you haven't seen the season yet, be aware that the major spoilers start now.

Watching Bobby say goodbye to his ghost family made AHS fans sob

AHS: 1984 has one of the most remarkable redemption stories in the show's history. Benjamin Richter, aka Mr. Jingles (John Carroll Lynch), enters the story as a depraved janitor who murdered nine teenagers at a summer camp in 1970 and is back 14 years later, tormenting another group. By the end of the season, we know Benjamin didn't commit those 1970 murders (although his kill count is much higher than zero), and he died (for a second time) while trying to stop actual depraved serial killer Richard Ramirez (Zach Villa), who was going after his son Bobby. (Ramirez, aka the Night Stalker, is one of the American Horror Story characters who are based on real people. Whether the real Ramirez made a pact with the devil to keep being reincarnated is unclear.)

The emotional climax of this family drama happens right at the end of the season. In 2019, adult Bobby (Finn Wittrock) heads to Camp Redwood to find his dad, who is there in ghost form. Bobby thanks Benjamin for sacrificing himself, and the two hug. The ghost of Margaret Booth (Leslie Grossman) — who framed Benjamin for murder in 1970 — tries to kill Bobby, but the ghost of Benjamin's mom Lavinia (Lily Rabe) intervenes, allowing Bobby to escape the camp. Bobby turns to look back at the camp's entrance and sees the ghosts of his father, grandmother, and uncle watching him proudly. He smiles goodbye and leaves.

AHS fans aren't the only ones who got unexpectedly emotional at the end of 1984

This undead family reunion immediately moved American Horror Story fans to tears when it aired in 2019, and it still delivers. On Reddit, in response to a question about which AHS storylines make people cry, superbrady1224 replied, "The whole ending of 1984 every rewatch I need a cookie to stop crying." Twitter users had similar experiences. @iselamariah wrote, "ahs: 1984 really didn't need to make me cry like that at the end," and @kaliuchisegg wrote that the last 10 minutes made them cry and that 1984 is "by far the most [...] touching season." Maybe it's this unexpectedly emotional element that has made the season so popular. When Looper ranked the American Horror Story seasons from worst to best, we put 1984 in the number-one spot.

That bittersweet emotional punch was important to AHS creator and showrunner Ryan Murphy, too. Murphy told Deadline that from the beginning of putting the season together, he knew he wanted Lynch and Wittrock to play father and son and that he wanted some kind of happy ending. "This whole season was about two things: Younger and happy ending. So we were writing to those two things all along," he said. But perhaps unsurprisingly, happy in AHS still means tears. Murphy said of 1984, "It's the only American Horror Story ending that has made me cry. Something about that father-son thing always kills me."