If you're reading this, you're probably a fan of The X-Files. Many of us are, including many people who work in the entertainment industry, and a lot of those folks like to throw references to their favorite shows into their own creative works. From having their characters watching The X-Files on their own TV sets to inferring their shows belong in the same universe, here's a look at some of the greatest X-Files references in other media.
10. The Fault in Our Stars
Throughout The X-Files, Mulder and Scully’s taste in movies generally veered toward the classics, we’ve seen Mulder watching The Planet of The Apes, Brief Encounter, and Scrooge for starters. Other fictional characters, however, are often more modern in their tastes. At the very beginning of The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel can be seen curled up on her couch watching the classic bathtub scene from “Hollywood A.D.” The girl has good taste!
“Depression is not a side effect of cancer. It’s a side effect of dying. Which is what was happening to me.”
9. Buffy The Vampire Slayer - "The Pack"
The X-Files is something of a cultural touchstone, one of those shows that everyone knows and which can be casually dropped into conversation. Buffy The Vampire Slayer took that a step further by turning Scully herself into a verb when Buffy herself accused Giles of trying to “Scully” her. Urban Dictionary defines “Scully” as: “Verb. To concoct a logical but elaborate or statistically improbable explanation for phenomena that appears supernatural.”
"Testosterone is a great equalizer. It turns all men into morons. He will, however, get over it."
"I cannot believe that you, of all people, are trying to Scully me. There is something supernatural at work here. Get your books! Look stuff up!"
8. Haven - "The Trials of Audrey Parker"
Haven is one of a few shows whose references have alluded to the idea that they may be set within the same fictional universe as The X-Files. In season one's "The Trial of Audrey Parker", Agent Parker asks her boss Agent Howard about another agent he once helped train who went off chasing aliens. Howard defends this nameless agent, calling him a genius and pointing out that the man's eventual fate was "a tragedy".
"We're dealing with killers and terrorists in the real world while you're here holding hands with the children of the corn."
"At least I'm not like that one guy you trained that was chasing aliens. What was his name?"
"Hey, he was a genius. What happened to him the last few years was a tragedy but that's beside the point."
7. Bones - "The X in The File"
Bones episodes follow a specific naming convention each week with episodes titled, “The Something in/on/with the Something” - and it’s here we spot our first reference to The X-Files. The whole episode has an X-Files feel. It opens with the discovery of a seemingly “alien” body in the New Mexico desert outside Roswell, musical cues from The X-Files are used throughout (one character even has the show's theme tune as a ringtone), and biggest of all, Dean Haglund who played Langly on The X-Files guest stars as the owner of the Space Place Cafe.
"Maybe aliens are... anthropologists. Maybe they just want to study our religion and sex, and love and our funny languages, and line dancing."
"That's an interesting possibility I hadn't considered."
6. Millennium - "Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me"
Millennium featured a number of X-Files nods over the years, not entirely surprising considering it was X-Files’ sister show. Mulder & Scully made a brief cameo in season one, and author Jose Chung made an appearance in a season two episode in which he tailed Frank Black while researching his new book. However, the most notable nod to its big sister was in the season two episode “Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me” in which four demons discuss their various methods of damning humans to Hell. One demon - Greb - tells the story of Waylon Figgleif who works for the Broadcast Standards & Practices division of a fake TV network who are working on a new show titled Alien Dossier. We get to see parts of the show (which features a tall, lanky man and short red headed woman performing an alien autopsy) being filmed to the tune of a distorted X-Files theme, and see Greb’s victim go slowly mad attempting to cut almost everything from the script for “unacceptable content” - a joke from the writers about FOX’s constant notes and censorship of their shows.
"You will not get away with this! The final scene is excessively, gratuitously violent! Aliens would not carry Uzis! They are an intelligent, superior race and they would not carry or utilize automatic weapons! I will not approve this! I am Broadcast Standards and Practices!"
5. Castle - "Close Encounters of The Murderous Kind"
Castle is another show staffed by X-Files alums who like to drop little pointers now and again for us Philes to pick up. Season three was especially fruitful for these, particular within “Close Encounters of the Murderous Kind” in which Castle and Beckett investigate a murder by explosive decompression. The episode refers to alien abduction and government conspiracy throughout, Castle whistles the X-Files theme twice and also refers to another character as the “Cigarette Smoking Man”. Look out for a guest appearance from Lance Henriksen too!
"Come on, Castle, we all know that there's no such thing as alien abductions."
"And yet most abductees report the same experience. The white light, the memory flashes."
"That's because they all read the same books so of course they describe the same event."
4. Fringe - "A New Day in The Old Town"
Fringe is another show that racks up the X-Files nods, but never more so than in season two’s, “A New Day in The Old Town” which manages to suggest both that The X-Files shares a fictional universe with Fringe, and also that it doesn’t, all within 45 minutes. During a meeting, it is mentioned that cases handled by the FBI’s current Fringe Division who deal with paranormal cases, used to be classed under “the old ‘X’ designation”. However later on in the same episode, another character can be seen watching “Dreamland” on TV. Of course with all the parallel universes going on in Fringe, it's entirely possible that in one universe The X-Files is real, and in another it is a TV show.
"Unsubstantiated claims of invasion. Reports of technology run amok. The old "X" designation and your fringe investigations have been indulgences in the federal budget for over half a century. Well, the salad days are over, Mister Broyles."
3. ReBoot - "Trust No One"
In the 1990s animated show ReBoot, Bob, Enzo, and Dot Matrix worked “to keep the computer system of Mainframe safe from the viruses known as Megabyte and Hexadecimal”. In season two’s “Trust No One”, CGI Agents Fax Modem and Data Nully (who was voiced by Gillian Anderson) help Bob investigate Dot’s disappearance, with Fax Modem suggesting the theory that she was taken by a mysterious web creature, the same thing that once happened to his sister.
"I suspect she's a Webcreature."
"Wha..? Oh, now this is ridiculous. These aren't theories. These are... delusions!"
"Listen. When I was just a little node, I saw my sister taken by a strange creature. It had fangs just like Mouse."
"Excuse me, but is your partner completely random?"
2. Supernatural - "Clap Your Hands if You Believe"
Supernatural has parodied countless shows over the course of its 11 (and counting) seasons, but The X-Files gets plenty of love given the number of cast and crew who made the jump to Supernatural when it began in 2005. Mulder and Scully have been mentioned several times, beginning right at the Pilot episode when Dean referred to a pair of real FBI Agents as Mulder and Scully. In season two’s “The Unusual Suspects” Sam and Dean argued over which of them was Mulder and which was Scully in their partnership, and in season three’s “Monster Movie”, Dean told a victim that The X-Files is just a TV show, killing the belief many held that the two shows might exist in the same fictional universe. However, the biggest X-Files nod so far came in season six’s “Clap Your Hands If You Believe…” which featured an “alien abduction” teaser, and altered credits in the style of the classic X-Files logo.
"So, you guys are like Mulder and Scully or something, and the X-Files are real?"
"No, 'The X-Files' is a TV show. This is real."
1. The Simpsons - "The Springfield Files"
For the biggest and best X-Files reference of them all, The Simpsons simply has to take the top spot. No mere name drop or subtle homage, "The Springfield Files" was a full 22 minute X-Files episode set in Springfield and even featured David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson playing Mulder and Scully. There are countless fun nods to pick out including an appearance from the Cigarette Smoking Man, Mulder’s FBI ID poking fun at an infamous photo of David, and cameos from Marvin the Martian, Alf, and Chewbacca!
"Look at this Scully. There's been another unsubstantiated UFO sighting in the heartland of America. We've got to get there right away."
"Well gee Mulder. There's also this report of a shipment of drugs and illegal weapons coming into New Jersey tonight."
"I hardly think the FBI is concerned with matters like that."