The truth is out there: 20 surprising facts about The X-Files you (probably) did not know

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This year marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of one of the most iconic TV shows in television history. It created such devotion amongst its viewers, that fans of the show became commonly known as “X-Philes,” a term coined from the Greek root “-phil-” meaning love or obsession. No surprise then that when the series ended in 2002, it had run for 202 episodes making it the longest-consecutive running science fiction series in U.S. television history. This record was only surpassed years later by Stargate SG-1 in 2007 and Smallville in 2011. In honour of a television show, which made a whole generation see the world in a surprisingly different way, we’ve unearthed twenty unusual facts to show the truth really is out there.

1. When the series started on Sept. 10, 1993 by declaring “The truth is out there.” Entertainment Weekly replied, “We know — this show’s a goner.”

2. Screenwriter Chris Carter travelled the world as a writer  for Surfer magazine before coming up with the idea for the X-Files.

3. He was inspired to write the series after reading a report that 3.7m Americans may have been abducted by aliens.

4. Acclaimed X-Files  writer  James Wong originally studied engineering but later switched to film after seeing  Apocalypse Now.

5. During the casting process, everyone from Bruce Campbell, to Adam Baldwin, Dean Cain and Lou Diamond Phillips auditioned for role of Mulder.

6. Fox originally wanted a “taller, leggier, blonder and breastier” actress to play Scully than 24-year-old Gillian Anderson.

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7. During the early stages of production, Carter began to plan for filming the pilot in Los Angeles. However, unable to find suitable locations for many scenes, he decided to “go where the good forests are” and moved production to Vancouver, Canada.

8. 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.

9. The theme song’s famous whistle effect was inspired by the track “How Soon is Now” from The Smiths’ 1985 album Meat Is Murder.

10. Club versions of the theme song have charted in France, the UK (40)  and Australia, where a remix by Triple X became a number 2 hit in 1996.

11. Gillian Anderson 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.

12. Mulder’s first words to Scully, when she found his office in the FBI basement were “Sorry, nobody down here but the FBI’s most unwanted.”

13. Gillian Anderson based her matter-of-fact FBI character on Jodie Foster’s performance as Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs.

14.  Agent Mulder’s cell phone number in the series is 555-0199. The same number is used by the Burnhas in “American Beauty”, and Al Pacino leaves this number in “the Insider”.

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15. Long before Survivor and Fear Factor (in the second season, in fact), Gillian Anderson put a live cricket in her mouth. She spit it out when the scene ended.

16. The series featured a host of stars, including two famous Lucys (Lawless and Liu) and Lili Taylor and Lily Tomlin. Other guest stars have included Jerry Springer, Alex Trebek, Ed Asner and Burt Reynolds. The sixth season had four former Saturday Night Live people — Victoria Jackson, Michael McKean, Charles Rocket and Nora Dunn.

17.Conrad Strughold, played by Armin Mueller-Stahl,  was named after the real Strughold, a Nazi scientist who conducted experiments on prisoners during World War II.

18. Both stars, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, have directed episodes. Duchovny wrote scripts or stories for eight episodes. His brother was in two episodes; Ms. Anderson’s teen sister, Zoe, played the teen-age Dana Scully in one.

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19.The legendary “Cigarette Smoking Man” owns a cigarette lighter with the inscription, “TRUST NO ONE”.

20. In 2008 several props from the series and the film The X-Files: I Want To Believe were donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

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29 replies
    • Oscar W
      Oscar W says:

      For the other 99.99999% of the population these are all new, me included.

      And thanks for reminded why Scully was my teen crush.

      Reply
  1. bdev
    bdev says:

    There’s a lot left out of this, like how in the pilot Scully had a boyfriend or that the show was originally meant to be about Mulder and Scully going on random cases. The alien story arc happened because Gillian Anderson got pregnant.

    Reply
    • Frank
      Frank says:

      Not true. Aliens, and Mulder’s sister being abducted by them is mentioned in the pilot. Gillian’s pregnancy caused the story arc of her being abducted….but the alien plot was long set into motion.

      Reply
  2. ricker
    ricker says:

    I visited the set on the day they filmed the last episode… Mulder’s office leads into a hall that is really a hall for a hospital set… where all the outdoor windows are from artificial lighting. I met Gillian and her lighting double. All shots are done before the actress arrives with her double so shooting time is efficient and addresses all the technicalities before the actor arrives…

    Reply
  3. NikKita
    NikKita says:

    Fantastic show. I’m a fan since the 90′s. Best Sci-Fi show ever!! Greetings from Panama (the country).

    Reply
  4. General ButtMuffin
    General ButtMuffin says:

    #21
    John Hutchison (psuedo scientist involved in RF / Levitation / Tesla experiments) provided alot of surplus military equipment, such as recievers/transmitters to be rented out on the X-files set.

    Reply
  5. Abe
    Abe says:

    Vince Gilligan, writer and creator of AMC’s Breaking Bad was a fan of the show, and submitted to Fox a script which became the second season episode “Soft Light”.[6] He then wrote 26 more episodes, in addition to being co-executive producer of 44 episodes, executive producer of 40, co-producer of 24, and supervising producer of 20. After The X-Files, he became executive producer of all 13 episodes of The Lone Gunmen.

    Reply
  6. p
    p says:

    Gillian Anderson didn’t base Scully on Clarice Starling. That was what Chris Carter intended for the character from the beginning.

    Reply
  7. L. Davis
    L. Davis says:

    The show did have a great cast … with the exception of Victoria Jackson. At least they cast her in a time when she wasn’t batshit insane.

    Reply
  8. David
    David says:

    Here is a surprising fact.. the show was garbage.

    Sorry, but starting in Season Five, the show became so “loony fringe” only the split ratings of cable saved it. Not saying that David and Gillian didn’t do well.. the scripts, minus the ones he wrote, were insane.

    Reply
    • Tiemo
      Tiemo says:

      You don’t understand the concept of opinion, clearly an intellectual fault of yours. Millions of people disagree, and the facts remain that it was an amazingly successful show despite a very low starting budget and a completely unknown main cast at the time of its conception. The odds were against the shoes success, and nobody expected it to go anywhere. But it did. Because it had great and unique writing and character development that is virtually unheard of these days.

      Reply
    • jason
      jason says:

      So your point is that after 5 seasons(!), the show started to suck.

      Just like Michael Jordan was a garbage basketball player because he started to suck at the end of his career

      Reply
  9. Darwin
    Darwin says:

    I worked with Bobby Phillips aka Dr Bambie……and to this day she still receives threats telling her to stay away from Mulder. Classic!

    Reply
  10. N0rA
    N0rA says:

    one episode also featured a fake version of Cher?! OR maybe it was the real one, who knows, the truth is still out there.

    Reply

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  1. […] The beloved opening theme tune for the series was created almost by accident, after composer Mark Snow rested his elbow on the keyboard with the “echo” function on […]

  2. […] to play the infamous role. 81. The beloved opening theme tune for the series was created almost by accident , after composer Mark Snow rested his elbow on the keyboard with the “echo” function on and […]

  3. […] This year marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of one of the most iconic TV shows in television history.  […]

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