Diehard fans of The X-Files have already gotten the news and are waiting in anticipation for January 24th, when Fox will release six new episodes. We’re waiting with bated breath to find out what’s been going on in the lives of our favorite TV detectives slash scientists, and to see where their lives have taken them since we last saw them.
This is the ultimate guide for the X-Files fan who can’t wait for January 24! We have trivia, must-see episodes for newbies, great photos, tons of hilarious videos (be sure to not miss the amazing 3 minute season recaps starting on page 22, or the last page, where Jimmy Kimmel makes an appearance…) and much more. Think you’re a true X-Phile? Then read on and see how much you know!
Who said the show was a goner when it first premiered?
Entertainment Weekly wasn’t a fan of the show originally. The show’s catchphrase is “the truth is out there”, to which EW responded “We know – this show’s a goner.” (September 1993) They changed their tune, though, calling it “the wittiest, creepiest sci-fi show of all time” (1998).
The show focuses on two FBI Special Agents, Dana Scully and Fox Mulder (Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny), sent to investigate the FBI’s X-Files, which deal with paranormal crimes. Scully is a skeptic and doesn’t believe in the supernatural, while Mulder is a believer. In real life, Anderson believes in aliens and the like (“Psychokinesis appeals to me,” she confesses. “ESP, telling the future, I love that stuff.”), while Duchovny is a skeptic.
How did Cigarette Smoking Man become such a pivotal part of the show?
Cigarette Smoking Man was originally an extra, but his character worked so well that he was made into a central cast member. In real life, he had quit smoking years before, and started off the series smoking real cigarettes. He quickly realized that he was getting re-addicted, and switched to herbal cigarettes.
Ever noticed what the FBI ID really says?
Every time Scully and Mulder flash their FBI IDs, they actually say “Federal Bureau of Justice, United States Department of Investigation” (as opposed to “Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Department of Justice”) as it is illegal to make a FBI ID – even for a TV show.
Was the show almost entirely different? Find out next!
Gillian Anderson was almost not cast! TV executives wanted someone “taller, leggier, blonder, and breastier.” Creator Chris Carter fought hard to get Anderson, wanting someone who could portray Scully’s serious, determined character.
Which characters inspired a short-lived spin-off?
The Lone Gunmen were so popular that they actually got their own show in 2001, The Lone Gunmen. It was cancelled after 13 episodes and left off with a cliffhanger that got resolved in Season 9 of The X-Files (“Jump The Shark”).
What was the inspiration for the iconic theme song?
The theme song was inspired by The Smith’s 1985 song, “How Soon is Now”, with the whistle effect being from there. The spooky, echo sound was a total fluke, on the other hand. Composer Mark Snow accidentally rested his elbow on a keyboard while the “echo” function was on and loved the sound. He worked it into the theme song.
Is any of the science of the X-Files legit?
The series had a science consultant, Ann Simon, who is a virologist at the University of Massachusetts. She wrote a book in 1999 called “The Real Science Behind the X-Files: Microbes, Meteorites and Mutants” where she explains how an alien organism might survive for centuries, and how a scientist would know he/she was looking at extraterrestrial microbes.
Where does this show rank in terms of other sci-fi shows?
“The truth is out there”, which is said at the end of the opening credits of each episode, is ranked #9 of TVs “Top 20 Catchphrases.” (TV Guide, 2005.) In 2004, TV Guide ranked it as #2 of 25 “Top Cult Shows Ever!”
Which prop kept on getting stolen from set?
Props from the show are on exhibit at the the Hollywood Entertainment Museum in Los Angeles. The famous “I Want To Believe” UFO posted is at the Smithsonian Museum. It kept on disappearing from set (probably because people wanted it in their own offices!)
Why was the filming location chosen, and what was the main issue with it?
The show was originally meant to be filmed in Los Angeles. Ultimately, they moved shooting to Vancouver, British Columbia, because that’s where the good forests were. David Duchovny (Agent Mulder) protested the location, not wanting to be so far from his then-wife, Tea Leoni.
Who had only been filmed once before becoming a main character of this show?
Gillian Anderson was quite green when she started the show. She was only 24 years old when the show began filming, and had only been filmed once before! She quickly distinguished herself. Her character was somewhat inspired by Jodi Fosters character in The Silence of the Lambs. Jodi Foster has a quick cameo in the show – as the talking tattoo in Season 4, Episode 13, “Never Again.”
What’s the significance of December 22 in this show, and in real life?
The day set for the alien takeover is December 22, 2012. This is also the end of the Mayan calendar, and many conspiracy theorists believed that the world would end, undergo a shift, and a number of other catastrophic theories. Ultimately, nothing happened, alien or otherwise!
The show did many things differently. Find out some of them, next.
The show shakes up many ideas of what prime-time TV should look like and also goes against conventional stereotypes of men and women. For example, Dana Scully is a skeptic and Fox Mulder a believer, going against gender stereotypes. Scully is also less of a “bombshell” than Fox wanted on TV.
The relationship between Scully and Mulder is generally platonic (though that eventually changes), with the writers even making a scene where Mulder sees Scully in her underwear to drive home that message. (Anderson wasn’t very happy with that scene.)
What was the main logistical issue that the actors faced?
Gillian Anderson is almost a full foot shorter than David Duchovny! She stands at around 5 feel tall, and is almost always filmed standing on a box to be more eye-level with Duchovny.
Did you know that David Duchovny taught at Yale? We tell you why that matters, next!
Duchovny’s character was originally envisaged as a kooky, odd-ball professor. In real life, Duchovny was an English lit TA at Yale, and according to creator Chris Carter, “It was David who pointed out correctly that if he were a nerd with pocket mechanical-pencil protectors, you wouldn’t be interested. But a smart, educated, perfectly sane guy can get you to believe outrageous things.”
Where did the creator of this show get his ideas from?
Creator Chris Carter was a writer for Surfing Magazine when he read that 3.7 million Americans believed in alien abductions. That led him to create the idea for The X-Files. It was originally rejected by Fox, but a second attempt was successful and Fox picked the show up for a limited, trial run.
How did the writers come up with all their crazy ideas?
Many of the events in the show are based off of real life occurrences, edited for TV excitement. For example, after a London researcher created an extra limb on a salamander, Carter got inspired and created the man with a salamander-like hand. Carter enjoyed playing with scientific ideas and shaking up the notion that there are no paranormal activities going on around us.
What writing rules did the writers abide by?
The show goes through a ton of characters, plot lines, monsters, and aliens. The writers had an unorthodox method they used. Instead of having a “bible” of things they should and should not include, they had only two “rules” – Scully can never see an alien, and Scully and Mulder can never kiss.
We have a great catchup guide for you, with tons of videos, links, and more!
Worried about catching up? We have tons of resources for you, starting with Chris Carter’s ten essential episodes you need to watch.
- “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)
- “Deep Throat” (Season 1, Episode 2)
- “Beyond the Sea” (Season 1, Episode 13)
- “The Erlenmeyer Flask” (Season 1, Episode 24)
- “The Host” (Season 2, Episode 2)
- “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (Season 3, Episode 4)
- “Memento Mori” (Season 4, Episode 14)
- “Post-Modern Prometheus” (Season 5, Episode 5)
- “Bad Blood” (Season 5, Episode 12)
- “Milagro” (Season 6, Episode 18)
Next, watch these hilarious, quick, catchup videos!
Check out the brilliant YouTuber Colleen Evanson (she calls herself “the poor mans Tina Fey”), who has 2-3 minute videos “recapping” each season. We don’t want to give too much away, but the voices are great. Check out seasons 1, 2, and 3 on this page, with the rest following on the next few pages!
Episodes 4, 5, and 6 continued on the next page
Continuing our hilarious YouTube season catchup, here’s seasons 4, 5, and 6.
Seasons 7 & 8 on the next page!
Finally, we have seasons 7 and 8, all hilariously created and narrated by Colleen Evanston. (Unfortunately, there is no season 9 recap).
Too brief for you? We get it. Check out these great documentaries, next.
For those of you who love going deep behind the scenes, there are plenty of documentaries that will go there with you. We recommend this and the one below, which has more parts exploring the next few seasons as well.
Are you a super SUPER fan, and are just excited for the revival? We’ve got something for you on the next page.
The Revival is Almost Here!
Super stoked about the revival? Check out this 21-minute special that gives a fairly comprehensive look at the new season, plus some interviews with the show creators, and more.
Our favorite quick recap guide is next!
For a more brief episode recap, check this out – it has two to three sentence descriptions of each episode. It also only goes to Season 5, but should refresh you enough to get you through the 6 new episodes.
Did you know there was a new agent introduced? See him on this funny clip from Jimmy Kimmel, next!
Finally, discover the most hilarious new character, Agent Kevin, and find out how Scully and Mulder REALLY felt about each other romantically….hint – they kind of liked each other!
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