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Trivia / The X-Files

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  • Accidentally Correct Writing: In the mid-90s, the show did a Story Arc where it's revealed the government is secretly encouraging UFO conspiracy theorism as a way to distract people from the military-industrial complex. And then, lo and behold, in the documentary film Mirage Men, a former government official reveals that's exactly what happened.
  • Actor-Shared Background:
    • Like his character, the Cigarette-Smoking Man, William B. Davis is a former champion water-skier. Go figure.
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    • In "Paper Hearts", Mulder and Scully meet a serial killer on the basketball court of the prison where he is incarcerated. The killer promises to give Mulder the information he wants if he sinks a shot from the three-point line. Mulder does it without so much as blinking. David Duchovny probably didn't need a double for that: he played JV basketball at Princeton.
  • Banned Episode: "Home" was banned for reruns on Fox for years due to its graphic nature. And is outright banned by BBC Two permanently.
  • California Doubling:
    • First the Vancouver version, then the show moved to California.
    • Season 10 returned to Vancouver, and during the season doubles for both Washington, DC and Philadelphia.
  • Cast the Expert:
    • "Humbug" features real life sideshow performers Jim Rose and The Enigma as Dr. Blockhead and The Conundrum.
    • The episode "The Amazing Maleeni" features two stage magicians, both played by actual stage magicians.
  • Creator's Favorite:
    • At Spooky Empire 2018, Robert Patrick has stated that his favorite scene was the Reyes/Doggett Ship Tease scene with the hot dog.
    • In an interview, Peter Boyle called Clyde Bruckman his favorite role.
  • Enforced Method Acting: For the episode "X-Cops", the cameramen (including some from COPS) were not present during rehearsals so their camera work would look more spontaneous.
  • Executive Meddling: For reasons never made clear, Carter ordered a slate of comedy episodes to open the first half of the sixth season, in contradiction to his original intent to pick up from Fight the Future. That his new boss came to Fox from Comedy Central (and made no secret of his dislike of Carter) probably had something to do with it.
  • Fake American:
    • The Cigarette-Smoking Man is a native of Ontario, eh.
    • Gillian Anderson was born in America to American citizens, but she moved to England when she was two and didn't move back until she was eleven, and by then her speech patterns had been set. She had to work to lose it when she went into acting, and if you pay attention to the early episodes of The X-Files it slips through at times. Now that she's moved back to England, she's got the accent back in full-force. Her American accent she acquired in her teenage years comes back whenever she's interviewed by an American reporter. This is justified as Anderson has English, German and Irish ancestry.
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    • The Lone Gunmen - three activists for Truth, Justice, and the American Way...played by three Canadians who don't even bother masking their north of the border accents.
  • Fan Community Nickname: X-Philes.
  • Fandom Life Cycle: Definitely one of the very few that went through the whole cycle and reached the mainstream recognition. Even people who never watched a single episode are likely to know who Mulder and Scully are.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • Moose and Squirrel: Mulder and Scully (after Bullwinkle Moose and Rocky Squirrel). As a team, they are known as the Dynamic Duo.
    • The Organization: The sinister group that consists of many adjectival men and who the Smoking Man works for.
    • Cigarette Smoking Man, a.k.a. Morley Man (after his preferred brand), a.k.a. Cancer Man. "Cancer Man" eventually started being used in the show itself. "Marlborough Man" has also been used, after the source of the expied brand used in the show and the spokes-character introduced to sell it after it was switched from being a woman's brand.
    • Ratboy: Krycek. Also known as Skippy.
    • The Schwarzenalien, the Mighty Morphin Bounty Hunter. Shapeshifting alien played by Brian Thompson.
    • The Fowl One: Diana Fowley (also referred to by more colorful names).
    • Plam: The knife with the retractable blade that the show implied was THE ONLY weapon that could kill the aliens. Named from a moment when Mulder's mother was trying to tell him she'd hidden one in her lamp - but she'd had a stroke, so "lamp" came out "plam".
  • Franchise Killer: The second movie was suspected of being one, before the 2016 miniseries revival was announced.
  • Hide Your Pregnancy: Season 2 started to shoot as Anderson was pregnant. First was this (Scully is shot mostly seated, wearing jumpsuits, or in "unflattering angles"), then Scully got abducted just to avoid it. (Partly done because the character officially couldn't get pregnant.) (see Written-In Absence.)
  • Hostility on the Set: David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson clashed as much as Mulder and Scully, if not worse, and they only became friends years after the show ended. During promotion of The X-Files: I Want to Believe, they said part of the animosity was exhaustion from enduring long shoots together, summing up that production "made monsters out of us".
  • Irony as She Is Cast:
    • Retroactively, that is. William B. Davis spent years fending off true believers who loved his character and couldn't believe that he is a real-life apostate. Davis eventually got in touch with the skeptic community to develop better argument strategies, and is now a lecturer on the skeptic circuit.
    • Davis had also stopped smoking before being cast in a role defined by cigarettes! The Smoking Man at first used the real deal, but once Davis realized he was probably going back to enjoying tobacco, herbal ones took over.
  • Lying Creator:
    • Word of God said Mulder and Scully wouldn't ever kiss. In thou foul heart, thy liest!
    • Word of God also said that there would never be any romantic relationship going on between Mulder and Scully, before admitting after the show's run that having them together in the end was the original intention. Word of God is a big liar, basically.
  • Old Shame:
    • Chris Carter, the episode's writer, hates "Space" just as much as anybody who's ever had to sit through it. It's routinely ranked as one of the worst episodes of the series, even when taking the last few seasons into account.
    • Pretty much everybody involved with "Teso Dos Bichos" would love to forget it ever happened. Kim Manners himself despised it, even going so far as to make T-shirts for everyone involved reading "I survived 'Teso Dos Bichos'" and even would always refer to it as "Teso Dos Bitches" in interviews and around fans.
  • The Pete Best: Not the same character exactly, but the principle applies: Charles Cioffi as Section Chief Scott Blevins, Mulder and Scully's boss in "Pilot" and "Conduit", was intended as a regular character. Cioffi, however, proved unable to continue in the role (though he did reappear in the "Gethsemane"/"Redux" arc in Seasons 4-5). He was replaced in "Fallen Angel" by the one-off character Section Chief Joseph McGrath, played by Frederick Coffin. Finally, Mitch Pileggi played Walter Skinner in "Tooms" and the rest is history.
  • Playing Against Type:
  • Post-Script Season: The show faced retool after retool as they tried to wring a few more seasons out after the first movie. The sixth and seventh seasons are particularly guilty of premature closure. They "explained" the conspiracy arc, killed off nearly all the Syndicate antagonists, and perhaps most significantly, resolved the long-running mystery of Mulder's missing sister.
  • Production Nickname: The Scully Box was referred to as the "Gilly-Board" on set.
  • Promoted Fanboy
    • Vince Gilligan was a fan of the show before joining the writers. He even followed the filming of his first episode, "Soft Light", with his personal camera.
    • The character Leyla Harrison was introduced as a posthumous tribute to a well-known Fan Fiction writer of the same name; the character is also an In-Universe fan of Mulder and Scully.
    • A smaller example: fans on the official messageboard were listed on the manifest of a crashed aircraft in a later season.
    • In the season 5 finale "The End", the extras who filled the stadium in the teaser are all recruited from the X-Philes. That's right, X Files fans were filling up stadiums.
    • Comedian Kumail Nanjiani, host of the popular X-Files Files podcast, was cast in a guest role in the revival.
  • Quote Source:
  • Reality Subtext:
    • In "Hollywood A.D." a film producer decides to make a movie based on Mulder and Scully's adventures, casting Garry Shandling and Téa Leoni (as themselves) for the roles, respectively. Scully mentions to Mulder that Leoni may have a crush on him, which he considers ridiculous. Any guesses to whom David Duchovny was married to at the time in real life?
    • Scully similarly mentions that Shandling seemed interesting, as well, which is amusing considering how Duchovny played a version of himself on The Larry Sanders Show that had a crush on Garry Shandling's character.
    • Mulder lingering on the fact that he and Scully have moved on since the dissolution of the X-Files "for better, for worse" could be interpreted as a reference to the fact Gillian Anderson's had a stronger post-Files career than David Duchovny.
  • Recycled Script
    • They reworked season one episode "Ice" (about a parasitic alien that caused its victims to turn psychopathic and eventually die) into the season two episode "Firewalker" (you can probably guess the main difference). Both were based, in turn, on the classic John W. Campbell short story "Who Goes There".
    • "Squeeze" and "Tooms" featured a liver-eating mutant. "2Shy" featured a fat-eating mutant. "Leonard Betts" gave us the cancer eating mutant. "Teliko" featured a melanin-eating mutant. (The latter's villain could even replicate Eugene Tooms' tricking of squeezing into tiny places.) At least "Hungry", featuring a brain-eating mutant, presented the story from the monster's point-of-view.
    • "One Breath" and "Audrey Pauley," aired seven seasons apart, are almost exactly the same episode, just with a different partnership in the spotlight. Both involve the female half of the team (Scully and Reyes, respectively) falling into a coma after a traumatic event, and eventually being declared braindead. While in a coma, they have their own sub-plot on a different plane of existence. Meanwhile, the male half of the team (Mulder and Doggett, respectively), run around trying to figure out the paranormal aspect of the episode, as well as try to find a way to bring the female half of the team out of the coma and threatening bodily harm to those who attempt to shut off life support. There are a few minor differences: "One Breath" was part of the show's Myth Arc while "Audrey Pauley" was season 9 filler, "Audrey Pauley" had a more clear-cut paranormal aspect to it, and the causes of the coma are quite different. However, the scripts are so similar that in some scenes, Doggett repeats Mulder word-for-word.
    • "Grotesque" and "Empedocles" both involve murders committed by people who do not debate that they were in their bodies at the time, but did not consciously commit them, instead citing an ill-defined "other". The believers (Mulder and Reyes) both instantly suspect some kind of Demonic Possession, and both episodes end in deliberate Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane moments where it is unclear whether it was just a human actor pushed to the brink who fell off the edge, or whether there really was some sort of contagious diabolical presence that swallowed up vulnerable people and used them to go out and murder people.
    • Season 1 episode "Fire" revolves around a blue-collar worker who gains the ability to set people on fire, which he uses to burn his enemies, seduce married women and become a hero by saving people from danger he himself caused. The season 3 episode "D.P.O." is about a blue-collar worker who gains the power to control lightning, which he uses to... strike down his enemies, seduce a married woman and become a hero by saving someone from danger he himself caused. Both villains are defeated by having their elemental powers backfire on them, and both episodes end with them locked up in medical facility while awaiting trial.
  • Referenced by...: See the sub-page ReferencedBy.The X Files.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: Season Seven. Ship taking on water. The long, difficult hours were taking their toll and David Duchovny was suing Fox for residuals from X-Files reruns. His lawyer included Chris Carter in the suit, claiming the producer skimmed millions; This turned out to be a typical scumbag lawyer move (Duchovny and Carter patched things up and remain good friends—neighbors, even!—and Carter even hired Duchovny's lawyers in his own protracted war with Fox), but didn't make for a pleasant atmosphere on-set or, God help us, online.
  • Short-Lived Big Impact:
    • Darin Morgan only wrote four episodes for the show's original runnote . However, he impressed many viewers with his quirky style, and all his episodes are considered classics, with "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" being seen by many as the best episode of the series.
    • Bryan Cranston appeared in the season six episode "Drive", in which he guest starred as a bigoted asshat of a character who nevertheless gains the audience's sympathy. The writer for "Drive" happened to be one Vince Gilligan, who was impressed with Cranston's natural ability to play to such a character. Ten years later, Gilligan was developing a certain drama about a chemistry teacher who cooks crystal meth, and persuaded reluctant network executives to let him cast Cranston after screening "Drive" for them. And the rest, as they say, is history.
  • Shrug of God: In regards to Season 10 and 11, Robert Patrick has much of an idea as we do of where the heck Agent Doggett is, though has joked that maybe he's become a hermit in the mountains and grows weed, or maybe he's gotten a tattoo and joined a biker gang.
  • Society Marches On: In "Blood", when it's learned that the latest mind-controlled potential spree killer got off the bus near the local college with his rifle, all the police do is send a couple of squad cars. These days even a potential threat would trigger a campus-wide lockdown - sirens blaring, security gates slamming, lights off and doors sealed and/or barricaded in the classrooms - and would only end after a full sweep for bombs or accomplices by the state police. In the show, it doesn't look like anyone even bothered to phone ahead to alert campus security.
  • Star-Making Role: For both leads in the original English version. In the Mexican dub it was this for Scully's voice actress (Gisela Casillas) and also in less degree for Mulder's one (Alfonso Obregon) along with Kakashi Hatake, Shrek and Brainy Smurf.
  • Stunt Casting: Several episodes featured well-known actors (usually character actors) in significant roles, usually as the Monster of the Week.
  • Technology Marches On:
    • Most of the computer-y episodes, but the trope is most prevalent in "2Shy", which features floppies, chatrooms and proper online grammar.
    • As of Season 10 Mulder's got a smartphone with a camera and doesn't hesitate to use it.
  • Throw It In!: After Mitch Pileggi and Bruce Harwood forgot to take off their wedding rings a couple times, the writers decided to provide in-universe justifications for their characters to wear them.
  • Trope Namer for:
  • Troubled Production: A few particular episodes became associated with production problems, leading to mixed results:
    • Several of the show's first season episodes succumbed to cost overruns, despite being conceived as Bottle Episodes. "Space" became the most expensive episode of the season thanks to the construction of a NASA Mission Control set. Production was also delayed so that the crew could take turns with a flight simulator. "Space" is reportedly Chris Carter's least favorite episode.
    • "Gender Bender" went through several rewrites over the sexual content of the script; this resulted in an abrupt and much-criticized Twist Ending. Other issues involved a failed attempt to illuminate scenes with lantern light, and a physically encumbering catacomb set which necessitated an extra day of filming.
    • "Darkness Falls" was plagued by poor weather and explosive Cabin Fever between director Joe Napolitano and first assistant director Vladimir Stefoff, resulting in Napolitano's departure from the series. The weather problems meant that pick-up shots and inserts had to be filmed at a later date, which meant more time-wasting commutes to the inaccessible shooting locations in Lynn Valley, British Columbia.
    • The third season episode "Teso Dos Bichos" called for Mulder and Scully to be attacked by a horde of feral house cats in the climax, but that was nixed because Gillian Anderson was allergic to cats. The cats were also lazy, leading the crew to improvise with unconvincing shots of a single, fake-looking monster cat. Director Kim Manners took issue with the fact that the cats became the culprits of the episode when the teaser segment alluded to a leopard spirit, and begged Chris Carter to shift the focus back to that plot point. Add in the constant re-writes and it's no wonder Manners nicknamed the episode "Teso Dos Bitches".
  • Underage Casting: Gillian Anderson was cast as Dana Scully at twenty-four. The character had not only graduated from medical school, but worked for the FBI for a year afterwards. She would have to have been at least twenty-seven. When you realize how long it takes to specialize in autopsies, Scully being 28 in the Pilot episode is quite an Improbable Age. Not to mention that she had to train to become an FBI agent and is said to have been a teacher at the FBI academy. She must have been a Teen Genius or something. note 
  • Unfinished Episode: On The Other Wiki is an extensive list of unmade episodes:[1]
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Especially in the early seasons, it suffered from this;
    • This is mostly due to a bad case of Technology Marches On. The series frequently showcased new technology; cell phones, computers, e-mail, the internet, and various other items are seen in every episode of the original nine-season run. Unfortunately, season 1 was in 1993. They were very good about updating their technology — season 8 episodes (2001) see flat-screen Apple computers — but just the sheer size and appearance of the technology in the early and mid seasons is enough to date it horribly. The AV Club's review of the season 1 episode "Ghost in the Machine" notes how the show often portrayed new technologies as a source of mystery, awe, and potential horror, which can cause unintentional laughter in people who've grown up with those technologies and are all too aware of their limitations.
    • There's also the values of the show. It was made in a post-Cold War environment where the big buzzword was the "new world order", Bush Senior's term to describe the new, American-dominated state of global affairs where market capitalism and liberal internationalism reigned supreme — and coincidentally, also a term used by conspiracy theorists to describe the Evil Plan of the conspiracy. The militia movement and their pet conspiracy theories were at their peak during this era, especially after President Bill Clinton was caught with his pants down. It's been argued that the real death blows for the show (beyond Seasonal Rot) were the attacks at the World Trade Center in New York, New York and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia in 2001 and The War on Terror removing that environment from the mainstream, consigning it to the radical fringes of society and making it somewhat disrespectful to openly support for the next decade or so — and it's not a coincidence that the show's 2016 revival came just as conspiracy culture has returned to prominence.
  • Wag the Director: There's no question who forced the move to Los Angeles. Duchovny's contract called for five seasons with a renegotiation at the end of the fifth. And his agent cited a clause stating he'd be obligated to appear in only a limited amount of episodes (similar to his arrangement in the Season 8) if the show didn't leave Vancouver. That hundreds of people would lose their jobs didn't seem to factor in.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The role of Alex Krycek was initially offered to Callum Keith Rennie.
    • Lou Diamond Phillips, Hart Bochner and Bruce Campbell were each finalists for the role of John Doggett.
    • Carter has said that for years he tried to get Lance Henriksen in a guest or recurring role, before snagging him as Frank Black in Series/{{Millennium and one episode of The X-Files.
    • Johnny Cash was almost a Man In Black in "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'"! His role ended up going to Alex Trebek. They originally wanted Rip Taylor to play Chung himself, but he was unavailable, so Charles Nelson Reilly took the part.
    • Chris Carter lobbied Darren McGavin to guest star as Carl Kolchak himself. He declined to do so and appeared as an original character instead.
    • Cher agreed to play herself in "The Post-Modern Prometheus" but was unable to due to scheduling conflicts.
    • Network executives originally wanted someone "taller, leggier, blonder and breastier" to play Scully. They also wanted the role re-cast when Gillian Anderson became pregnant in season two. In both cases, Chris Carter fought against it.
    • Mitch Pileggi auditioned for some minor roles in season 1, but was not cast. Had he been cast in those, we wouldn't have had him as the awesome AD Skinner.
    • Thomas Ligotti co-wrote an episode called "Crampton" featuring many of his hallmarks — mannequins, a Town with a Dark Secret, the existential void as the Monster of the Week — the episode was never produced, though he did rework it into a stand alone piece and also put out the original version on the web as a Script Fic.
    • The series almost ran alongside Power Rangers Time Force of all things, due to the dark tone of the latter. However, it was decided that Time Force would air on Fox Kids for the sake of brand consistency.
    • Nigel Kneale was asked to write for the series, but declined.
    • X was originally intended to be a woman, with Natalia Nogulich (Admiral Necheyev from Star Trek: The Next Generation, among others) initially cast in the role. However, Chris Carter felt she lacked the proper chemistry with David Duchovny, so Glen Morgan and James Wong suggested they replace her with Steven Williams, having previously worked with him on 21 Jump Street and The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage.
    • According to Frank Spotnitz, the original plan for season nine was to have Mulder, Scully, and baby William to be Put on a Bus and would've focused on Doggett and Reyes as the main characters, which would lead to a tenth season with a new status quo on the mythology, in which the aliens were not the central focus for such as he and other writers felt it went far too long and would've focused on what happened to Doggett's son, Luke, and the character of Reyes.
    • Robert Patrick was open to reprising his role as Doggett, but when the revival came around, he declined an offer to return due to being busy with Scorpion.
    • Had Robert Patrick been available, Doggett would have been in "My Struggle III". Since he wasn't, the episode was rewritten to have his role taken by Mulder's half-brother, who was going to appear in the episode anyways. Though Chris Carter teased that even though this was revised to remove Doggett, this didn't eliminate chances of him reappearing later that season... which ended up not happening.
    • The Other Wiki has a list of episodes that had been proposed, and some even scripted, but never made it to filming. Some of them contain elements which were Refitted for Sequel, and one ended up becoming Final Destination.
  • The Wiki Rule: The X-Files Wiki.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: While the series' Myth Arc is known for suffering from The Chris Carter Effect, making it this, the trope is in effect in a number of Monster of the Week episodes as well, as many times, the solution to the current mystery contradicts the established evidence or fails to explain some of the events that unfolded, leaving them as Big Lipped Alligator Moments.
  • You Look Familiar: Terry O'Quinn popped up multiple times in different roles, twice as a member of the Conspiracy. In "Aubrey" he played a small town cop, in Fight The Future he played an FBI agent working for the Syndicate, and in "Trust No 1" he played Shadow Man, a super soldier masquerading as a potential informant who tried to assassinate Mulder and Scully.

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