The X-Files is one of the greatest science fiction shows ever made and was at one time the longest longest-running sci-fi series in U.S. television history. Created by Chris Carter, the show ran for 11 seasons, inspired two films (The X-Files and The X-Files: I Want to Believe), a few spin-offs (Millennium and The Lone Gunmen), and won multiple awards.
The opening credits usually ended with the tagline “The Truth is Out There,” so in honor David Duchovny’s birthday and revealing the “truth,” here are 20 lesser-known facts you probably didn’t know about the award-winning sci-fi series.
20. “How Soon Is Now”
The X-Files Theme Song was based on The Smiths 1985 anthem “How Soon Is Now” but instead of focusing on the hook, the show’s music composer Mark Snow used Morrisey’s small whistling part. Resulting in one of the most chill-inducing, hair raising theme songs ever. The theme song was also remixed by an Italian producer creating an odd dance track that ended up reaching No. 8 on the UK charts.
19. Casting Scully
Gillian Anderson was almost replaced as Scully because Fox executives were adamant she wasn’t enough of a “bombshell.” The show’s creator Chris Carter felt otherwise and cast Anderson even though she had only been on the screen once before filming the pilot episode.
The talented actress is currently starring in the popular Netflix original Sex Education, which was renewed for a second season in early 2019.
18. The X-Files Was Inspired By…
Chris Carter came up with the idea for The X-Files after reading a report that stated 3.7 million people claimed they had been abducted by aliens. He’s also stated on several occasions that Jeff Wright’s 1970s series, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, was a “tremendous influence.”
Kolchak: The Night Stalker aired on ABC from 1974 -1975 and featured a reporter named Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) who would investigate mysterious and supernatural crimes that police would not.
17. Does Gillian Anderson Believe?
In the show Agent Mulder is a believer while Scully is a skeptic, however, in real life, it is David Duchovny who is a skeptic and Gillian Anderson who believes.
During an interview with The Guardian in 2012, Anderson was asked if she still believes in aliens and her response did not disappoint:
I do to the degree that the universe is obviously vast and the thought that we are the only planet full of living beings doesn’t make sense. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there are aliens, but there could be. If we’re talking about an advancement of technology, that they’d be potentially further along than us is as conceivable as their existence. So I wouldn’t rule it out.
16. Since filming in Vancouver made a desert hard to come by, production teams had to spray over 1600 gallons over a disused quarry to recreate the look of New Mexico. They later added in a clearer sky digitally.
15. Speaking of location, the show was filmed for five seasons in Vancouver because L.A. lacked the creepy, forest background that many of the episodes needed, so Carter moved the who show to “where the good forests are.” However, after season 5 Duchovny forced the whole show back to L.A. so that he could be closer to his then-wife, Tea Leoni.
14. The Cigarette Smoking Man played by William B. Davis was only supposed to be an extra but went on to become one of the most iconic bad guys in TV history, producers had no intention of him becoming the main antagonist of the show.
13. The Cigarette Smoking Man
The mysterious operative who worked with the Syndicate, Carl Gerhard Bush Spender a.k.a. “The Cigarette Smoking Man,” was played primarily by actor William B. Davis. Interestingly enough, Davis had given up smoking for 20 years but when he was offered the role, the actor decided to take up the habit for two seasons before thinking better of it and switching to herbal.
12. Fake Badges
The agents FBI badges used in the series don’t actually say Federal Bureau of Investigation, instead, they read “The Federal Bureau of Justice, United States Department of Investigation” because it is illegal to possess fake an FBI badge.
11. Agent Clarice Starling
Unsurprisingly Anderson’s Agent Scully was created after The Silence of the Lambs FBI Agent Clarice Starling played by Jodie Foster. In fact, when the sequel rolled around and Foster did not reprise the role, producers wanted Anderson. Unfortunately, her X-Files contract had a clause preventing her from playing any other FBI agent on screen.
10. Vince Gilligan
The show was the big break for Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan. As a huge fan and a young writer, Gilligan sent a script into the show which ended up being made into an episode in season 2. Gilligan was later hired and wrote 26 more episodes and has 44 co-executive producer credits on The X-Files.
As you know, Gilligan went on to create the award-winning series Breaking Bad, as well as the surprisingly successful spin-off, Better Caul Saul.
9. The Final Destination Connection
The plot of the first Final Destination film was first submitted as a script for one of the show’s episodes. Carter wasn’t sold on the script submitted by screenwriter Jeffrey Reddick about a real woman who didn’t get on a plane because of a feeling her mother had, and the plane ended up crashing. Others did like the script however and it was turned into the movie Final Destination.
8. Alex Trebek’s Cameo
They worked David Duchovny’s embarrassing Celebrity Jeopardy appearance into the show. After not doing well on the game show, the writers began referencing different things that he got wrong such as when Scully is reading “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and eventually Jeopardy host Alex Trebek makes an appearance in episode 20 of season three.
In that particular episode, titled “José Chung’s From Outer Space,” Trebek played one of the two “Men in Black,” the other was played by former professional wrestler and Governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura
7. The Real MVP
Many fans of the show might not know that Gillian Anderson had to stand a box for many of the scenes between herself and David Duchovny because their nearly foot height difference, making it extremely difficult to frame a close shot of the two.
6. Charlie Chaplin Connection
The episode “Home” from season four was the first to include a viewer discretion warning for graphic content. The episode contains a scene where the mother who is a quadruple amputee is pulled out from under a bed, which was inspired by a real story in Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography. Chaplin claimed he and his family were staying in a tenement home where they discovered a quadruple amputee under the bed.
5. Super Bowl XXXI
The Season four episode “Leonard Betts” was the highest-rated episode of show’s eleven-year run, with 29.1 million people tuning in to watch. Why? Well, the record-breaking episode aired after the Super Bowl XXXI, between New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers.
“Leonard Betts” was written by Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, and Frank Spotnitz, and although it didn’t directly connect to the series’ wider mythology, the episode remains a favorite among fans.
4. Dave Grohl’s Cameo
Having started in 1993 and running until 2002, the show had numerous cameos by now household names. Ryan Reynolds, Jack Black, Shia La Beouf as well as many others all appeared but one of the most random was Foo Fighter frontman Dave Grohl who appears for only a few seconds during Season 3’s “Pusher” episode. Grohl still refers to it as “his acting debut.”
3. The Smithsonian
On July 16, 2006, various objects and props from the show were donated to The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Series creator Chris Carter and executive producer Frank Spotnitz were in attendance during the ceremony and presented the Museum with an “I Want To Believe” poster, a script from the series’ pilot episode, and the agent’s FBI badges.
The National Museum of American History is located in Washington, D.C. and is known for collecting and preserving the heritage of the United States in many areas including social and cultural history, and The X-Files impact on society and science fiction genre is undeniable.
2. Going to Court
Back in 1999, David Duchovny sued 20th Century Fox prior to season 7 because the actor believed the studio had undersold the rights to the show to their own affiliates and as a result, cost him of millions of dollars. Duchovny also claimed series creator Chris Carter was involved and was paid-off by Fox to keep quiet, although he wasn’t named a defendant in the case.
Duchovney eventually won the settlement and was awarded $20 million, although his relationship with Carter was never the same.
1. Familiarity Breeds Contempt
After working together for so long, Duchovny later revealed that he and Anderson actually couldn’t stand each other many times on set. “Familiarity breeds contempt,” he said, but also said it was nothing personal, just too much time with the same person. The pair worked together for eleven years and shot two films together, so this really isn’t a surprise – Who doesn’t get annoyed with close friends and family from time-to-time.