The truth is out there, but sometimes the truth is pretty embarrassing. Not every X-File that agents Mulder, Scully, Doggett and Reyes investigated on the original series was mysterious and deadly; sometimes, the answers were pretty goddamned dumb. Here are more than a dozen X-Files that never should have been opened.
1) A Brady Bunch Fan, “Sunshine Days”
Two men break into a house to discover it looks exactly like the house set from the ’70s sitcom The Brady Bunch inside. When Agents Doggett and Reyes enter the house, though, it looks completely different. The horror! The real culprit is Oliver Martin (played by Lost‘s Michael Emerson) who is a psychokinetic Brady Bunch fan who can’t control his powers and accidentally kills people sometimes. The reason why? Because he thinks he’s like Cousin Oliver, the horrible jinx-child the show introduced in its final season in a desperate bid for ratings. Sound familiar, X-Files?
2) A Bug Boy, “Lord of the Flies”
When a kid falls from a tree and dies, Agents Doggett and Reyes are inexplicably called in. It works out, though, because it turns out the reason he fell from the tree is that flies ate his entire brain. The culprit is a kid named Dylan, who also has flies bite the word “dumbass” into the flesh of school bully Winky (played by Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul), then accidentally cuts a girl he kisses with his insect mouth protrusion. Having inexplicably turned from a murderer to dorky kid with bug powers, Dylan and his mum (Jane Lynch!) skip town and no one bothers to look for them.
3) The Dumbest Cigarette Company in the World, “Brand X”
A cigarette company has made — and I swear I am not making this up — super-tobacco, which is of course full of the eggs of genetically engineered tobacco beetles that hatch and kill those who try to smoke them. This cigarette company tested this product on four people; three died, and the fourth accepted a lifetime supply of cigarettes to not say anything. This isn’t even a mystery, guys. Hell, you don’t even need a government agency to get involved. The free market will take care of a company whose products get its customer eaten by beetles all on its own.
4) A Were-Dog, “Alpha”
There is a guy who can turn into a dog. When he’s a dog he likes to kill people for some reason. Mulder has a friend who thinks the were-dog is going to kill her. The were-dog kills Mulder’s friend, but she also kills the were-dog. Despite having accomplished absolutely nothing, Mulder somehow gets a free poster out of the deal.
5) Two Kathy Griffins, “Fight Club”
Two twins, both played by Kathy Griffin, have lives that constantly intertwine despite the fat that one 1) they’re both always trying to get away from each other and 2) when they get together, they get angry, and things start going crazy. People start punching each other, glasses break, earthquakes, papers turning black, whatever. The problem, as it turns out, is that their father was really angry, meaning that somehow his hate has passed on (through his semen!) into his kids, which manifests itself as psychic powers. There is nothing technically illegal about any of this. Mulder and Scully do not solve this case.
6) An Invisible Elephant, “Fearful Symmetry”
To be fair, the specific thing that puts them on this investigation is an invisible elephant rampaging through town. When they get to the local zoo, it turns out other animals are turning invisible or sometimes disappearing entirely — but they’re all coming back pregnant. I’ll spare the unfathomable other details of the plot, but in the end Mulder says that “alien conservationists” were the culprit. So these aliens came to Earth, turned a bunch of animals invisible, knocked them up, and then returned them without any further supervision? Why? Whhhyyyyyy? I guess Mulder didn’t say they were good alien conservationists.
7) A Fat Vampire, “2Shy”
Yes, this is an episode starring a vampire who sucks the fat out if his victims instead of blood. Unfortunately, the victims tend to suffocate to death on their own fat afterwards (he sucks it out through their mouths) It’s actually a pretty decent (and very gross) X-Files episode, assuming you look past the inherent silliness of what io9’s Cyrique Lamar so aptly titled a What makes him really ridiculous is his method of obtaining his meals, which is going to online dating sites. Dude. You are a human liposuctionist. Go find a doctor and an engineer or something to figure out a way you can use your power without killing your prey. Not only would you suddenly have an all-the-fat-you-can-eat buffet for the rest of your life, but people would pay you for the privilege! You dummy.
8) A Civic-Minded Ghost, “Arcadia”
A mysterious creature kills the people in a small community who don’t comply with the rules of the local Homeowners Association. It’s apparently a Tibetan spirit called a Tulpa, which was somehow summoned by HOA president Gene Gogolak for the express purpose of murdering people who had the audacity to put a plastic flamingo in their front yard. Gogolak has absolutely nothing better to do with his supernatural powers, and feels that murdering those who defy his vision for the neighbourhood is reasonable. Good use or your time and talents, idiot.
9) More Bugs, “Darkness Falls”
When a group of loggers go mysteriously missing in a forest, Mulder and Scully are on the case. Eventually they figure out that some bugs are killing people. Apparently these insects are old, and they were trapped in a tree that was illegally cut down by the loggers, but they are still totally just bugs. After Mulder and Scully flail about inefficiently, some scientists show up and announce the forest is getting a good dose of pesticide, which is the least mysterious solution to any pest control problem.
10) A Really Shitty Video game, “First Person Shooter”
A virtual reality video game is currently in beta testing when its discovered that if its players die in the game, they die in real life. Not in a simple, “Oh, the VR rig electrocuted them” kind of way, but in a “if you were shot or beheaded in the game your real body will be shot or beheaded in reality, regardless of whether or not there’s a gun or a sharp implement anywhere in the vicinity. No one even attempts to explain them. The game is deleted, but not before Mulder and Scully done really stupid “battle armour” and embarrass themselves beyond measure.
11) A Rug Genie, “Je Souhaite”
In a world full of aliens, monsters, and government conspiracies, why does it seem so absurd that there would also be a genie who grants people wishes? Well, for starters, the genie doesn’t live in a lamp but in a rug, in the sense that she rolls herself up in it like someone I trying to dispose of her body. Second, the genie kills someone by giving them too large a penis. Third, the episode ends with Mulder wishing for the Genie to go free, exactly like in Aladdin. Protip: If something makes you think “Hey, just like in that Disney movie!” maybe it doesn’t belong in your supernatural horror show.
12) An Evolutionarily Unsound Water Monster, “Agua Mala”
A monster who lives in the sea, but it also somehow made of water, gets trapped in a small town’s water supply and starts using its water-based tentacles to attack the locals. Mulder figures out two very important facts about the monster: 1) it uses humans as hosts to reproduce, and 2) it can’t stand freshwater of any kind. Do you see the problem here? Somehow it’s living in the town’s water supply, which is presumably not seawater. Its reproduction method seems to need humans, yet it normally lives at the bottom of the ocean, where humans are few and far between. It’s nonsense. Mulder and Scully solve the case, by which I mean “the monster somehow leaves and they don’t bother to look for it.”
13) A Legless Beggar, “Badlaa”
In this vastly uncomfortable episode, an Indian beggar with a very surly attitude uses fakir powers to, uh, hide inside people’s bodies. Yes, his arms, head, torso, etc. — they all fit, and the beggar can control his host just like he’s piloting a Gundam. Of course, when the beggar exits his Gundam, it’s much, much messier. Because he crawls out their butts. The moral of this episode is that you should be afraid of foreign people, the poor, and the differently-abled because they probably want to murder you. Offensive all around.
14) Burt Reynolds the Almighty, “Improbable”
This may be cheating, as this episode technically features Agents Scully and Reyes investigating a random numerology-obsessed murderer that literally any law enforcement agency could catch. The only reason it’s an X-File is because of a mysterious man played by Burt Reynolds, who, uh… is apparently God. He doesn’t do much — he doesn’t stop the murderer, and plays cryptic checkers with Scully — but a city does turn into his giant, mustachioed face, so… yeah.