25 Startling Facts About The X-Files

Posted by , Updated on March 22, 2024

The legendary TV show, The X-Files, which through nine seasons and two movies cultivated a vast mythology, is set to make its return to FOX tonight, after a fourteen-year hiatus which began on May 19, 2002, following its 202nd and final episode. The show, which was a trailblazer for several subsequent sci-fi TV series, will present an opportunity for the younger generation to become acquainted with it, while already-established fans, popularly known as X-Philes, eagerly anticipate the fresh episodes to satisfy their nostalgic cravings. Iconic phrases such as “the truth is out there” and “I want to believe” from The X-Files had become woven into the fabric of nineties pop culture. Now, they’ll evoke fond memories through a six-episode miniseries in which Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, both older and wiser, will resume their roles to battle sinister monsters, confront extraterrestrials, and unveil government plots. Who knows? Perhaps the scenarios have become even more perplexing and darker than they were over a decade ago. The anticipation is bubbling! Gear up for a nostalgic adventure as we delve into 25 Startling Facts About The X-Files because, as we all agree, “The truth is still out there”.

Thumbnail image via voiceoftv.com


The X-Files is the second longest-running network sci-fi series and the most successful by far in American television history. Stargate SG-1 (1997–2007) ran for ten seasons but it was a cable program and can’t be compared to The X-Files by any measure.

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Chris Carter traveled the world as a writer for SURFER magazine before coming up with the idea for The X-Files. He was inspired to write the series after reading a report that nearly four million Americans have claimed to be abducted by aliens.

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Originally, Gillian Anderson wasn’t the most popular casting pick. FOX originally wanted a “taller, leggier, blonder and breastier” actress to play Scully. When David Duchovny was cast as Mulder, they asked who he thought should play Scully and he suggested Jennifer Beals, who was a longtime friend of his and also an old college classmate.

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David Duchovny (Fox Mulder), Gillian Anderson (Dana Scully), and William B. Davis (Cigarette Smoking Man) are the only actors to appear in both the first and last episodes of the series.

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Carter’s, Anderson’s, and Duchovny’s original contracts expired after the fifth season since Carter originally planned to end the show after five seasons and continue the story in a series of feature films. FOX, however, found the demand for the show way too high to cancel it so they made the first film (1998) between seasons five and six and kept going with the show until 2002.

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Despite their chemistry on camera, both Duchovny and Anderson have admitted that they did not get along during the show’s run. It was only after the show ended in 2002 that they became good friends.

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Both Duchovny and Anderson directed a few episodes while Duchovny also wrote scripts and stories for eight episodes.

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Mulder’s cell phone number in the series is 555-0199. That means that the Burnhas family from American Beauty and Al Pacino’s character in The Insider stole his number since they have the same one.

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Chris Carter has cited Moonlighting (1985) as an influence on The X-Files, specifically the relationship between Mulder and Scully.

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The Cigarette Smoking Man was only supposed to be in one episode. But Chris Carter liked the character so much and loved how well William B. Davis played the role that he decided to make him a central figure.

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William B. Davis, the Cigarette Smoking Man, was actually Lawless’s acting teacher, whom we all know as Xena: Warrior Princess.

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For that matter, Lucy Lawless’s character Shannon McMahon was meant to become a recurring character in the show’s final season. A high-risk pregnancy, however, forced Lawless to leave the show after only two appearances.

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The show was filmed in Vancouver for the first five seasons before moving to Los Angeles so David Duchovny could be closer to his then wife Téa Leoni.

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You probably know Vince Gilligan as the award-winning creator and head writer of Breaking Bad but his big break came as a scriptwriter for The X-Files. Gilligan was a hard-core fan of the show and submitted a script to FOX that became the second-season episode “Soft Light.” He went on to write twenty-nine more episodes and become a cult hero for all of us who started as freelance writers. 

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During the second-season episode “Humbug,” the cricket was supposed to be replaced with a candy version, but Anderson just ate it before anyone could stop her.

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Dana Scully was named after legendary LA Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully.

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Carter purposely went against established sex stereotypes by making Agent Fox Mulder a believer and Agent Dana Scully a skeptic. Ironically, in real life David Duchovny has stated in interviews that he is a skeptic and Gillian Anderson has said she is a believer.

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Believe it or not, but the iconic “I Want to Believe” poster has made such a cultural impact on American society that in 2008 it was inducted as a relic in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

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For many of the scenes in which Mulder and Scully stood face-to-face, Anderson would stand on a box to compensate for the nine-inch height difference between her and Duchovny. (She is 5’3˝ and he is 6’0˝.)

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Club versions of the theme song charted in many countries including France, the UK—where it became a top 40 hit—and Australia, where a remix by Triple X hit number 2 in 1996.

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The piano echo effect in the show’s theme song was actually created by accident. After Chris Carter had walked out of the room, composer Mark Snow put his hand and forearm on the keyboard in frustration. The keyboard had been accidentally set to an echo effect but Carter liked the sound and, combined with the whistling effect, the iconic theme song was born.

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The episode “Leonard Betts” came on after Super Bowl XXXI and was the highest-rated episode of the series, with 29.1 million people (in the United States alone) tuning in to watch.

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Do you remember when Agent Scully was abducted in Season 2? They only did this because she got pregnant and needed a way to explain her prolonged absence. For the record, some of the network executives, who still desired a more “glamorous bombshell” to play Scully, suggested that Anderson be recast. Thank God logic won out in the end and Gillian got to keep playing the part.

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The badges of agent Fox Mulder and special agent Dana Scully don’t say Federal Bureau of Investigation. That’s because it’s illegal to make a fake FBI badge even if it’s for a movie or TV series. So, if you look closely what their badges say is, “The Federal Bureau of Justice, United States Department of Investigation.”

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In 1993 when the show first premiered, Entertainment Weekly responded to The X-Files tagline “The truth is out there” with “We know—This show is a goner.” We’re pretty sure that after eighty-eight awards and hundreds of millions of fans worldwide, Entertainment Weekly’s then-staff has to admit they couldn’t have been more mistaken about the show.

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