Having premiered on Fox back on back on September 10, 1993, Chris Carter’s The X-Files turned 27 this year. The critically acclaimed show was the first of its kind, blurring the lines between multiple genres, including sci-fi, mystery, horror, drama, and thriller, rising from its initial cult-status to becoming one of the most influential pieces of TV fiction of all time.
The series follows the cases found in the titular X-Files, paranormal or unsolved cases, with FBI special agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully at the helm, meticulously performed by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. The series followed an overarching story that involved aliens and a massive government conspiracy, but who could forget those fantastic filler episodes which later became known as the “monster of the week” episodes? There were stellar creature feature episodes throughout the show’s run, and there were some that were, well, just fillers. Let’s look at 10 of the best, according to IMDb.
10 “Chinga” – Season 5, Episode 10 (7.7)
In this creature feature episode, Scully decides to go on vacation to the beautiful state of Maine, only to find herself investigating a mysterious and creepy case of a strange young girl and her creepier doll. Scully stumbles upon a grocery shop filled with the bloodied victims of self-mutilation. To make matters scarier, the girl’s poor mother lives in constant fear of the next victim, as she’s plagued with visions of the next bloodbath.
The episode was co-written by Master of Horror, Stephen King, so that should give fans enough reason to be prepared for a nightmare-inducing monster-of-the-week episode.
9 “Terms Of Endearment” – Season 6, Episode 7 (7.9)
This list would be blasphemous if it didn’t include the episode where Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell makes an appearance. Campbell expertly plays the villain in this monster-of-the-week episode, a bigamist demon who, upon impregnating both his wives, discovers that each of them is carrying a fetus with a “birth defect.”
When he learns that he won’t have a perfect human fetus, he successfully aborts one of the babies, but in an attempt to do the same to the other, he discovers his wife is also a demon and is quite happy with a visibly demonic child.
8 “Mulder And Scully Meet The Were-Monster”– Season 10, Episode 3 (8)
Scully really loved following Mulder around on his monster-hunting quests, first as a skeptic and later as someone who has seen it all. In this season 10 episode, Mulder is hunting a creature which he believes to be a were-monster – a human that transforms into a beast for a couple of days a month.
And Mulder is right, as the strange man who he meets has taken on the name Guy Mann and is actually a were-human. In his normal state, he’s a lizard-like creature but was bitten by a human, which makes him transform into a human every month.
7 “Ghouli”– Season 11, Episode 5 (8.1)
The name of this episode says it all. Ghouli was a Slenderman-esque monster that appeared in the 11th season. The episode follows the story of two high school girls who don’t know each other but are mysteriously lured to a decommissioned ship to appease the creepy wishes of Ghouli. When Ghouli finally appears to the two, it sends them both into a panic, which results in the two nearly murdering each other.
The reveal is that “Ghouli” is, in fact, a teenage boy, Jackson Van de Kamp, who has the ability to make people see what he wants them to see. Jackson’s intentions, albeit twisted, were meant to be a prank.
6 “Die Hand Die Verletzt” – Season 2, Episode 14 (8.3)
Every horror fan knows that playing with black magic can result in dire consequences. In “Die Hand Die Verletzt,” a group of conservative teens engages in satanic rituals, clearly getting in over their heads. Viewers with chronic fears of snakes, steer clear, as the episode’s death-by-snake scene is, without a doubt, nightmare fuel for even the most desensitized viewer.
5 “The Host” – Season 2, Episode 2 (8.4)
If you’re someone who already has an irrational fear of porta-potties, this episode of The X-Files will further enhance that fear. “The Host” features a monster that starts its life as a simple parasitic flukeworm, but turns into a grotesque humanoid creature that dwells in the sewers.
The creature design itself is pale, slimy, and comes complete with a flukeworm mouth, but it’s the reveal of what it’s bite can do that is truly nightmarish and reminiscent of David Cronenberg’s classic body horror tropes.
4 “Squeeze” – Season 1, Episode 3 (8.7)
As early as season 1’s third episode, “Squeeze,” viewers were subjected to some to some truly nightmare-inducing creature feature episodes. Scully and Mulder are tasked with investigating a series of brutal murders that occur every 30 years. They eventually discover that one Eugen Victor Tooms (Doug Hutchinson), a mutant which feeds off the livers of its human victors, is responsible for a murder every three decades before returning to hibernation.
The truly frightening aspect of Tooms? He has the ability to squeeze in the tightest of spaces, which makes him hard to track down, as he never uses the standard points of entry in his victim’s homes. To make matters even more nightmarish, Tooms has a hibernation nest, which he creates using his own icky bile.
3 “Humbug” – Season 2, Episode 20 (8.7)
In this second season episode, Mulder and Scully encounter a number of grisly and macabre monsters, but the only true monster in the episode is Leonard.
The parasitic twin of Lanny and a worker at a trailer park with a drinking habit, Leonard, at first, appears as just a lifeless sideshow attraction. However, at night, when Lanny and the rest of the town are asleep, Leonard detaches himself from his twin and crawls around the town with surprising speed, killing without prejudice. That is, until he meets his match, The Conundrum, who will eat anything, or anyone.
2 “Folie A Deux” – Season 5, Episode 19 (8.7)
In Folie a Deux, Mulder and Scully encounter a giant insect monster. However, this monster doesn’t always show his true form, appearing human to most people.
The episode never explains why certain people can see through his human form to his insectoid monstrosity, but they do. And if that were not scary enough, the creature enjoys biting his victims, which turns them into its personal zombie slaves.
1 “Home” – Season 4, Episode 2 (9)
Season 4’s second episode, “Home” is quite possibly one of the darkest satiric explorations of traditional family values of America. The episode opens with a live burial of a newborn baby during a storm, only for the bloody corpse to be discovered by a group of young boys playing baseball. It’s also a milestone for The X-Files, being the first episode to feature a viewer discretion warning due to its graphic content.
It’s clear that the writers wanted the Peacock family to resemble the family from The Hills Have Eyes. Mulder and Scully set out on a plan to rescue the mother of the dead baby, and the reveal of her deformed, limbless body is bone-chilling, more so because the matriarch prefers to reside under her bed. Yikes.
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