This week’s American Horror Story: Roanoke formally introduced us to Dr. Elias Cunningham (Denis O'Hare) and revealed how he fits into all this haunted-house-and-butchering madness. After rescuing Shelby (Sarah Paulson) and Matt (Cuba Gooding Jr.) from knife-wielding Mr. Piggy with his handy-dandy “Croatoan” spell, Elias proceeds to tell them how everyone who’s lived in the house has either mysteriously disappeared or been slaughtered.
Elias admitted he bought the house and kept the deed, hoping to prevent any more sad sacks from moving in and meeting their untimely deaths (unfortunately, Shelby and Matt are the new sad sacks), and then is shot to death with arrows. That’s the end of the ~esteemed~ Dr. Elias Cunningham — or is it?
Many fans believe Elias was already dead when he saved
sad sacks Shelby and Matt, so those arrows to the chest might’ve just been a way to shut him up for a hot minute. Reddit user runadi believes because Elias appeared well-kept (instead of looking like Bear Grylls’s long-lost cousin), showed up during the infamous Blood Moon, and is familiar with all the ghosts who haunt the house and grounds, he is already a ghost himself. Runadi also thinks Elias is pulling a type of Bruce Willis–Sixth Sense moment and doesn’t know he’s actually dead.
Piggybacking off of Runadi’s theory, Reddit user karogram noted how Elias pulled out his trusty folder with all the gruesome death details from a little nook hidden in the cellar. “Why would he do that if he wasn’t living there (a.k.a. dead),” karogram wondered. “You would think he would have taken them with him wherever he went after moving out of the house?”
Several fans on Twitter also admit they think Elias is a ghost walking among the living. Another telltale sign is that besides being a main character, O’Hare is currently listed on IMDb as being in Episodes 5 through 10, and not simply as “credit only.”
Of course, this then begs the question we all want to know: Is Cricket (Leslie Jordan) gonna come back to life (pun intended) since he died on the grounds like the other ghosts? He’s not billed for Episodes 5 through 10 right now, but you know how these AHS gurus work. They like toying with our emotions (*cough* Evan Peters *cough*).