Ryan Murphy Edited Mass Shooting Scene in ‘American Horror Story: Cult’ After Las Vegas Massacre

Ryan Murphy, Las Vegas, American Horror Story, Cult
Ryan Murphy speaks onstage during the FX portion of the 2017 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour in Los Angeles, California on August 9, 2017. Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

UPDATE: “In light of the tragedy last week in Las Vegas, Ryan Murphy and the producers of American Horror Story: Cult have chosen to make substantial edits to the opening scene of tomorrow night’s episode (Tuesday, October 10, 10 PM ET/PT),” FX told Us Weekly in a statement on Monday, October 9. “This opening, which was filmed two months ago and which portrays an occurrence of gun violence that has sadly become all too common in our country, contains a sequence that some viewers might find traumatic. Only the edited version of the episode will air on the FX linear channel, while the unedited version of the episode will be available on the VOD platform of your cable, satellite or telco provider, as well as on the FX Networks non-linear platforms, FXNOW and FX+.”


Ryan Murphy confirmed that he edited an upcoming episode of American Horror Story: Cult to be less violent in the wake of last week’s Las Vegas shootings that left 58 people dead and more than 500 injured.

The executive producer, who has made a name for himself with gruesome scenes, admitted to struggling with the decision to change Tuesday’s episode while speaking with reporters at The New Yorker Festival on Saturday, October 7. The episode, which was filmed in September, was set to feature a grisly scene of a mass shooting in order to make “an obvious anti-gun warning about society,” according to Murphy. The shooting will now happen off-camera.

Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story, Cult, Ryan Murphy
Sarah Paulson in American Horror Story: Cult Frank Ockenfels/FX

“Should you air it? Should you not air it? How do you be sensitive? My point of view was I believe I have the right to air it, but I also believe in victims’ rights, and I believe that now is probably not the week to have something explosive or incendiary in the culture because someone who was affected might watch that and it could trigger something or make them feel upset,” the screenwriter, 49, revealed, according to E! News. 

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“So our decision was to re-edit it and I felt that that was the right move. Nobody ever talks about victims’ rights. That’s sort of a weird emotional discussion that’s never bridged,” Murphy continued. “But I felt great sympathy for people who were affected, certainly, and family members and loved ones and people who are upset about the way the world is.”

As previously reported, a gunman opened fire on the audience at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas strip on Sunday, October 1, while Jason Aldean was performing. It is the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

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This is not the first time producers have changed an upcoming episode of a TV show due to real-life events: USA Network delayed the premiere of Shooter in 2016 after a Black Lives Matter protest turned deadly when a sniper killed five police officers. The 2015 season one finale of Mr. Robot, which showed a character committing suicide, was also delayed in the wake of a Virginia reporter being killed on-air.

Similarly, an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was pulled from the WB’s lineup after the Columbine school shooting in 1999.

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This season of American Horror Story, which stars Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters, follows a Trump supporter who leads a murderous, cult-like group.

American Horror Story: Cult airs on FX Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET.

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