The X Files: 20 years, 20 facts

Posted: September 14, 2013 in TV series
Tags: , , ,


It’s hard to believe its been 20 years since “The X-Files” creeped us out and blew our collective minds. So what better way to commemorate the iconic series than with some weird and wild factoids? So while we celebrate the show’s 20th anniversary this week (yep, it’s been that long!), marvel at 20 wild and weird facts you might not know about the X Files.

1. Their badges don’t say Federal Bureau of Investigation


Even if you’re making it for a TV prop, it’s still illegal to make a fake FBI badge. So, if you look closely, those badges say: The Federal Bureau of Justice, United States Department of Investigation.”

2. William B. Davis (Cigarette Smoking Man) was Lucy Lawless’ acting coach

The show’s mystery man started out as Lawless’ acting coach. Of course, veteran genre actor Lawless played Shannon McMahon on X-Files.


3. Callum Keith Rennie almost played Alex Krycek

Rennie (Memento, Blade Trinity) turned down the recurring role of antagonist Alex Krycek, which was then portrayed by Nicholas Lea. But, when the latest X-Files movie rolled around, Rennie accepted the role of “Janke Dacyshyn.”


4. The X-Files stopped Scully from being Clarice Starling in Hannibal

Gillian Anderson (Dana Scully) based her matter-of-fact FBI character on Jodie Foster’s performance as Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs. She was so good at it, they built a clause into her contract that would prevent her play another FBI agent. So, when that Hannibal flick happened, she was briefly in the running to play the new Clarice — but was eliminated because of her contract.


5. Originally, the show was supposed to end in season 5 to make way for a series of movies


Chris Carter first planned to wrap the show after season five, then jump straight into a series of movies. But, Fox decided the series was too popular, so they allowed Carter to make the first X-Files movie in-between seasons five and six. As most fans would agree, the show suffered from the overload, as Carter tried to balance the standalone concepts of a film with the serialized nature of the ongoing series.

6. They used some wacky fake magazines and newspapers


Like most TV shows, X-Files used fake magazines and newspapers. But, unlike most TV shows, they had a boatload of fun with the concept. Just check out the above screen grab, especially the upper-right headline tease, seing in the third season’s episode “The Pusher”. 

7. Duchovny and Anderson went behind the camera


Throughout the show’s lengthy run, both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson moved behind the camera a few times to write and direct some episodes of the series. Duchovny directed “Hollywood A.D.” and “The Unnatural”. Anderson directed “All Things”, and became the first woman to direct an episode of a TV series.

8. The Filter connection


Robert Patrick (Agent John Doggett) is the brother of Filter lead singer Richard Patrick. The band’s songs have been used throughout the series, as well as in the film soundtrack.

9. Scully kept it in the family


When the producers needed an actress to play young Scully in a flashback for the 5th season’s episode “Christmas Carol”, they turned to Gillian Anderson’s real-life little sister Zöe to make sure the family resemblance made sense.

10. “Irresistible”: The episode so creepy it was rejected


The initial script of this seaosn two episode focused on a necrophiliac, which the network deemed “unacceptable for broadcast standards.” So, they toned the baddie down to a death fetishist, which finally squeaked by the network standards.

11. Future comedy stars made some early cameos


During its lengthy run, X-Files had more than its fair share of guest stars. Early on, future comedy megastars Jack Black and Luke Wilson had bit parts in seasons three and five, respectively.

12. Leyla Harrison was named after a fan


After a beloved fan-fiction writer died of cancer, the writers created/named the character Leyla Harrison in her honor. The young, eager FBI agent was a huge fan of Mulder and Scully.

13. Mitch Pileggi’s (Skinner) wife was Scully’s stand-in


Pileggi met his wife Arlene Warren while working on the series. Warren was Scully’s stand-in, and eventually had a role as Skinner’s secretary Arlene.

14. Scully was only abducted because Gillian Anderson was pregnant


Remember when Scully was abducted in season two, and that experience goes on to be a crucial plot point? Well, it only happened because Anderson got pregnant, and the writers needed a way to explain her absence.

15. Gillian Anderson stood on a box most of the time


As strange as it sounds, Gillian Anderson (Scully) spent most of her time on the series standing on a box — due to the fact that she’s just a little over 5 feet tall — and a full 10 inches shorter than David Duchovny (Mulder). So, to balance them out, the producers made a special box for her to stand on, which would make them closer to the same height.

16. What Scully’s tattoo represents


Scully’s tattoo. made in the 4th season’s episode “Never Again”, is the mythical serpent called Uroboros biting its tail, which symbolizes the infinity of life and the universe, and the constant cycle of destruction and creation.

17. Cigarette Smoking Man was supposed to be a one-off role


When the mysterious character was introduced, Carter hadn’t planned on keeping him around. But, Carter was so impressed with William B. Davis that he decided to keep him around and make him a central figure.

18. ”I Made This”


The little theme slogan that plays over the Ten Thirteen Productions logo, aka “I Made This,” was spoken by Nathan Couturier, son of the supervising sound editor Thierry Couturier.

19. The iconic theme was created by accident


The beloved opening theme for the series was created almost by accident, after composer Mark Snow rested his elbow on the keyboard with the “echo” function on. He like the creepy vibe, and used it to make the theme we all know and love.

20. Origin of “Mulder” and Scully”


The character Dana Scully was named after famed sportcaster Vin Scully. While Mulder is the maiden name of Chris Carter’s mother.

  1. jeff george says:

    Gillian was NOT the first woman to direct an episode of a TV show. Ida Lupino directed television throughout the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. Amanda Bearse also directed episodes of Married With Children. These are just a few. Otherwise, like your site.

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