10 life lessons I've learned from watching The X-Files

Contributed by
Jan 17, 2018

With the 11th season of The X-Files now on our screens, it seems a good time to look back on all that's gone before and establish precisely what the series has taught us over the years.

Personally, I am old and decrepit enough to have seen the first season when it aired, and my adult life has therefore been shaped by a slew of valuable life lessons imparted by various episodes.

Here we go.

Don't become morbidly obese

Because there's always the chance that someone might use you as a vehicle. In "Badlaa" (Season 8, Episode 10), Deep Roy's legless Indian beggar literally climbs inside a fat American businessman before traveling from Mumbai to Washington DC within him.

Now I'll concede that Roy's character also inhabits a number of slimmer characters later in the episode, but you can't tell me the first guy's gargantuan size didn't play at least some part in his becoming a victim. Faced with at least 20 hours of traveling time, you'd definitely be looking for someone who would provide you with a bit of... well, not legroom, because the beggar doesn’t have any – let's say space to stretch out.

If having another human literally crawl right up inside you isn't enough to make you eat sensibly and get plenty of exercise, consider also the indignity of his having gained entrance while the businessman was paying heed to an urgent biological necessity. No one likes being interrupted when they're in the bathroom.

Stay out of the woods

It feels like most X-Files episodes start in the woods. Most X-Files episodes also start with someone being killed, so we don't need the magic of Venn diagrams to tell us that there is a reasonably high likelihood of losing one's life in the woods. The list of dangers is near endless: murderous tree spirits with glowing red eyes, lethal swarms of glowing green insects, the Jersey Devil, Satanic ritual killers, axe-wielding fellas in tribal masks, that disgusting contagious disease the guy contracted from a decomposing boar carcass. All of these things kill people in the woods.

There's even one episode – "Schizogeny" (Season 5, Episode 9) – where a guy gets killed by a tree. By an actual tree! It wraps its roots around him and drags him into the mud.

Stay away.

Don’t procreate with blood relatives

Okay, this one's kind of common knowledge anyway, but The X-Files really drove the point home in unarguable fashion ("Home," Season 4, Episode 2).

I'm sure the Peacock family situation isn't one that they were all fine with from the outset. It surely had to have come about incrementally with all parties gradually acclimatizing to each new level of depravity. Even so, surely there must come a point where you take stock and think to yourself, "Our mother's a quadruple amputee living under the bed and we're breeding with her and burying our deformed offspring alive. Maybe this is just a little too much."

I dunno. Definitely one to avoid, though.

If someone really wants to get in, they’ll get in

When Eugene Tooms wants to eat someone's liver, he elongates his body so that he can squeeze in through the ventilation system or down the chimney. ("Squeeze," Season 1, Episode 3). Similarly, when a couple of ne'er-do-wells wanted our television, they chucked a brick through the window.

Moral of the story: People will always find a way.

Don't get a tattoo

I have zero tattoos. You know why? Because sometimes they talk to you and tell you to kill women and you go along with it – because who in the world wouldn't pay heed to the persuasive words of a talking tattoo? ("Never Again," Season 4, Episode 13)

Nip this one in the bud. No tattoos.

Avoid middle management jobs at all costs

I'll tell you which X-Files character you absolutely do not want to be: Walter Skinner. If you think Mulder and Scully's job seems hard, just ponder what Walter Skinner has to put up with. His agents rarely make arrests yet criss-cross the nation racking up enormous travel expenses. They then hand in reports that make pretty much zero sense and he has to somehow explain all of this to his boss while also putting up with Cigarette Smoking Man constantly skulking about the place and trying to manipulate him.

On top of all this, he basically has to shadow Mulder and Scully on every single case, because there's always the chance that one or both of them will get into a position where they need him to physically step in and save them.

The unforgiving nature of Walter Skinner's job has encouraged me to always maintain a level of incompetence in my work that will prevent me from ever being promoted to a middle management position.

If you think an item of technology is becoming inefficient, don't let it know

In "Ghost in the Machine" (Season 1, Episode 7), a company plans to shut down the computer that runs its building. The computer catches wind of this via a security camera and kills a bunch of people in a perfectly understandable bid to save itself.

Next time you get a new phone or laptop, remember that the element of surprise is your greatest weapon. Keep your fiendish plot to yourself and when the moment comes, brutally destroy the redundant device without the slightest warning.

Don't live in a gated community

One of my all-time favorite X-Files moments is Mulder, shot dramatically from below, jamming a tacky pink flamingo into an immaculate green lawn before challenging unseen forces to "Bring it on." ("Arcadia," Season 6, Episode 15)

However, the delight I feel at this moment doesn't negate the fear I feel about an environment where lawn-cutting apathy might result in my demise. If anyone in my local area is liable to summon a Tulpa to enforce the rules of the neighborhood, my innate lack of urgency regarding minor home maintenance effectively becomes a death sentence.

I feel safer here outside the gates.

Vampires might drug your pizza

In "Bad Blood" (Season 5, Episode 12), pizza delivery boy/vampire/moron Ronnie Strickland can't seem to grasp the concept of "low profile" as he laces people's pizzas with chloral hydrate to incapacitate them.

Play it safe: always order a pizza with garlic on it.

Right this second, I am almost certainly dying in a cave being devoured by a mushroom

In reality, none of the above truly matters because "Field Trip" (Season 6, Episode 21) taught me that everything I am experiencing is merely an illusion brought about by the inhalation of hallucinogenic spores.

I may think that I'm sipping coffee and writing about The X-Files, but in reality I'm lying comatose in a cave being digested alive by some sort of yellow secretion.