In 1993, TV viewers were first introduced to The X-Files, a science fiction drama series created by Chris Carter and centered around FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, as they investigate everything from the paranormal to government conspiracies. Heralded as one of the best shows of the ’90s, it spawned two feature films, a revival series, slews of merchandise, and made stars out of David DuchovnyAnd Gillian Anderson.

While many of the cases Mulder and Scully investigate were fictional in nature, some episodes of the series were based on real-life stories and legends. From serial killers and kidnappers, to circus oddities and experiments gone awry, let’s take a look at some of our favorite episodes of The X-Files that snatched from the headlines.

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10 The Erlenmeyer Flask Season 1, Episode 24

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On February 19, 1994, Gloria Ramirez was admitted to the emergency room at Riverside Hospital, California, with late-stage cervical cancer. While she was being treated, many of the hospital staff became ill, experiencing shortness of breath, muscle spasms, and some even fainting. Five of these workers were hospitalized themselves, while one of them spent two weeks in intensive care.

While the incident was initially called a case of mass hysteria, it was discovered that Ramirez was self-medication for pain from cancer with dimethyl sulfoxide, which then turned into dimethyl sulfate in her blood, causing it to become highly cancerous. An interesting story to say the least, one that partially inspired Chris Carter’s inclusion in “The Erlenmeyer Flask” episode of The X-Files.

9 Irresistible (Season 2, Episode 13)

Nick Chinlund as Donnie Phaster in The X-Files
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In 1991, the world was fascinated by the arrest of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, as gruesome details of cannibalism and dead bodies took center stage on the nightly news. Even more astonishing are the stories that have come to light from those who were under Dahmer’s spell, claiming that the insane killer was in fact transformed into a demon while holding them hostage.

That was enough to spark the creativity of Chris Carter, who based the episode “Irresistible” on those events. While it was one of the few episodes without superhero elements at the time, the character of Donnie Phaster was brought back in the show’s seventh season for the episode titled, orisonwhich re-tricked the character into an actual demon, making him one of the show’s most feared villains.

8 Space (Season 1, Episode 9)

An astronaut floating in space in The X-Files
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You know how you look at an inanimate object and see a face in it, like those old stories of people seeing Jesus in their toast? Well, it turns out that this is a real phenomenon called pareidolia, where we perceive sights and sounds in things that are not there. Perhaps the most well-known example of this is the image of a face on Mars that everyone has seen, where shadows in the Cydonia region of the Red Planet appear to show a face looking up at the stars.

This phenomenon inspired the episode “Space”, which is about an astronaut attempting to sabotage the shuttle program after seeing something extraterrestrial while in orbit. While it was only meant to be a low-budget episode thanks to previous episodes’ costs exceeding expectations, space It turns out to be the most expensive season 1 season thanks to the build of the Mission Control piece.

Related: David Duchovny’s Comments on a Possible X-Files Return

7 The Jersey Devil season 1 episode 5

Claire Stansfield as Jersey Devil in The X-Files
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While the existence of the Jersey Devil is unknown at this point, in 1909 it was all the rage as people reported seeing a kangaroo-like creature with bat wings attacking social clubs, trolleys, and hunters. Police were reported to have shot the creature, but no trace of the beast was ever found. It’s an urban legend that stretches back centuries, and to this day people say they’ve seen strange things in Pine Barrens, NJ.

Thanks to this legend, the episode titled “The Jersey Devil” was aptly handled, which follows Mulder and Scully as they investigate strange reports of cannibalism in the Garden State. This leads them to a woman who appears to be an evolutionary relic, but the ending suggests otherwise. However, it is an interesting story based on a much more interesting legend.

6 Oubliette (Season 3, Episode 8)

Joel Staitt as Amy Jacobs in The X-Files
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Inspired by the real-life Polly Class case in 1993, the episode “Oubliette” aired in 1995 with shocking parallels to the tragedy that inspired it. Twelve-year-old Klass was kidnapped from her home in Petaluma, California during a slumber party, held captive and then strangled.

The episode, written by Charles Craig (who had no TV experience), had a striking similarity to Klass’ case, including facts about her kidnapping, details about the kidnapper, and even how she was held hostage. While Polly Class’s story ended in agony, prison cell It had a happy ending, however, with the character Amy, played by Joel Staite, being found before she could be killed.

5 Season 2, Episode 20

The puzzle as the puzzle in The X-Files
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In the mid-1800s, sideshows were all the rage at circus attractions across the country. Eventually, these fairs became so distasteful to the public that many localities passed laws banning them. In 1991, though, a man named Jim Rose developed the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow out of Seattle, working within the confines of the law to bring circus oddities to the masses. She has toured the Northwest and Canada, and even performed at Lollapalooza in 1992.

It was these circus anomalies that inspired the “Humbug” episode, with some from Jim Rose’s sideshow even starring in the episode. Written by Darren Morgan (who also portrayed the infamous Flukeman in a previous episode), prattle It was one of the most comedic episodes of the show The X-Filesand was praised for its themes of bias and diversity.

4 Blood (Season 2, Episode 3)

A gauge that reads Kill Them All in The X-Files
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The episode titled “Blood” is interesting in The X-Files History, because it was inspired not by just one event, but by three real-life incidents. Writer Glen Morgan himself struggles with blood phobia, sprays crops with the insecticide malathion, and tells the true story of Charles Whitman, a Texas mass shooter in the 1960s. This episode also deals with our fears of technology, as Mulder and Scully investigate a series of murders in which all of the suspects saw violent messages on various electronic devices.

blood It was well received by audiences and critics alike, and in 1996 the episode’s plot was adapted into a young adult novel called Fear, by author Les Martin. It should also be noted that blood It featured only the second appearance of The Lone Gunmen, a trio of conspiracy theorists who would eventually get their own spin-off show.

RELATED: Gillian Anderson reveals her only condition for a potential return to The X-Files

3 Duane Barry (season 2, episode 5)

Steve Railsback as Duane Barry in The X-Files
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Imagine being impaled on your head with an iron bar, destroying a large portion of your frontal lobe, and living to tell the story. Well, in 1848, that’s exactly what happened to the railroad superintendent, Phineas Gage, who took a three-foot iron in the skull during a bombing accident. Although he survived, Gage was never the same, as his friends noticed the full personality and behavioral changes in the man.

It was this story that inspired the episode “Duaan Barry”, which is about an escaped mental patient who claims he is being abducted by aliens, and takes a group of hostages to prove his point. Barry, it turns out, was shot in the head years earlier, survived, and as such went through a complete personality change. This will not be the case The X-Files Without an extraterrestrial thriller about the story, though, it’s also discovered that he has a strange implant in his head that makes the payment scanners at the grocery store go crazy.

2 Død Kalm (Season 2, Episode 19)

Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully in The X-Files
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The Philadelphia Experiment is a widely known story about the US Navy conducting an invisibility experiment, with claims that they made the aircraft carrier USS Eldridge disappear for a few minutes, with disastrous results. This included the insane and intangible crew members, some of whom even fused with the ship itself upon its reappearance. There were indications that the ship had not only disappeared, but had traveled through time itself.

While largely debunked, these accounts are a great story nonetheless, and inspired the episode “Død Kalm” in 1995. Despite receiving mixed reviews, it’s one of those episodes that gives Mulder and Scully some time alone, allowing The two have the chance to bond further as friends, who will eventually become lovers.

1 Main (Season 4, Episode 2)

Karen Konoval as Mrs. Peacock in The X-Files
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Perhaps the most disturbing episode of the The X-Files Ever On the Air, “Home” was based on the true-to-life story of the Ward brothers, four barely literate family members who lived together outside of Syracuse, New York. When one of the brothers was tried for his brother’s murder, stories of ties between family members and euthanasia emerged. While he was eventually acquitted, it was a story that captured the imagination, and was featured in the 1992 documentary, Brother’s keeper.

While it remains one of the most memorable episodes in history The X-FilesAt the time, the network thought it was too brutal, and decided not to feature it in any reruns of the show. To this day, this is one of the most frightening and unsettling things to be seen on network television.


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