September 10, 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the premiere of The X-Files. One of the most enduring sci-fi/horror TV shows of all time, The X-Files paired Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), a believer in aliens and the supernatural, and Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), a medical doctor and a skeptic who only believes in science, to investigate the cases that the FBI deems "unexplainable." The show is best known for two things: the love between Agents Mulder and Scully... and the monsters.
After over 200 episodes of The X-Files, Mulder and Scully faced some truly disturbing — and disgusting — situations. And a lot of those situations included some truly disturbing — and disgusting — monsters. Monsters that keep you awake at night. Monsters that haunt your very soul. Or, just monsters that you can watch again and again and again. As a lifelong Phile, I have always enjoyed the weird, bizarre, and crazy monsters that The X-Files introduced me to. The Mulder and Scully hand-holds and eye-sex are wonderful, but the monsters are my jam.
I have gone through and ranked the twelve best monsters through all eleven seasons of The X-Files. I did not include "human monsters" like Donnie Pfaster or Robert Modell or John Roche. You can get human monsters on any television procedural. I stuck with mutants, creatures, and supernatural beings.
The Worm God: Season 8, Episode 4, "Roadrunners"
There is nothing particularly special about the giant parasite in "Roadrunners." It is the largest parasitic worm in The X-Files, of which there have been a lot. But what makes this parasite special is its legions of followers. Yes, an entire cult worships this slimy invertebrate. They believe that it is the second coming of Jesus Christ, and it needs a human host. I don't think it was meant to be comically ridiculous, but it sure makes me laugh. Bonus: it is so big that it causes a lot of damage going in and out of a human host. Fun times for the audience, not so much for a pregnant Scully, who is (briefly) infected by it.
Wayne Weinseider: Season 6, Episode 7, "Terms of Endearment"
When you have Bruce Campbell in your episode, you just know he is going to be the bad guy. It's like an unwritten rule. In this episode, Wayne is a bigamist demon who impregnates both his wives. When he discovers that each of his wives is carrying a fetus with a likely "birth defect," he realizes that he won't have the perfect, human-looking offspring he hopes for. He successfully aborts one of the babies, but when he tries to abort the other, he discovers that his wife is a demon as well — and she wants a visibly demonic child.
Ghouli: Season 11, Episode 5, "Ghouli"
Ghouli is a kind of Slenderman-like creepypasta monster. A pair of high school girls who do not know each other are lured out to a decommissioned ship to appease Ghouli. When Ghouli appears, it sends the girls into a panic. They nearly kill one another. It turns out that "Ghouli" is actually a teenage boy named Jackson Van de Kamp. He is able to make people see what he wants them to see, and this was all supposed to be a prank. This prank goes off the rails, and it turns out that Jackson is actually the son Scully gave up for adoption 17 years ago. So really, Ghouli is just a prank gone awry... but it's a pretty cool looking monster.
Rob Roberts: Season 7, Episode 3, "Hungry"
Rob seems to be a quiet, dopey kid, working at a fast food restaurant. In reality, he is some sort of shark-hybrid mutant. He has a "human" costume he wears during the day, but his true form reveals he has no hair, no ears, virtually no nose, black eyes, and small, pointy teeth. He has an insatiable hunger that he tries desperately to ignore, but when he can't, he eats human brains. Rob is meant to be a sympathetic character, one who tries to do the right thing (not eating humans) but in the end, he realizes he cannot ignore his biological urges. Instead, he chooses suicide by cop.
The Insect Monster: Season 5, Episode 19, "Folie a Deux"
The huge insect-like monster in "Folie a Deux" hides behind a facade of humanity. It is not clear what makes a person see through Pincus' human form, but when they do, they are confronted by a Kafkaesque insect. Because that isn't scary enough, the insect creature bites unsuspecting humans, turning them into its personal zombies.
Eddie Van Blundht Jr.: Season 4, Episode 20, "Small Potatoes"
A small town in West Virginia has an outbreak of children being born with tails. An investigation leads the agents to meet Eddie Van Blundht, Jr., a janitor who had his own vestigial tail removed as a child. It turns out that Eddie is the father of all five children. He has striated muscles, which allows him to change shape and appear to be anyone he wants. With the impregnated women, he disguised himself as their husbands (except the single one; he transformed into Luke Skywalker with her).
He eventually takes Mulder's form and uses his new visage to make a move on Scully. She was falling for it — until Mulder breaks into her apartment and Eddie's ruse is discovered. Eddie is imprisoned for the rapes, and is put on a steady stream of muscle relaxants to prevent him from "making faces."
The Peacock family: Season 4, Episode 2, "Home"
While not exactly monsters, the Peacocks may as well be. Living on the same patch of land for generations, the Peacocks do not have electricity or running water. They grow their own food, slaughter their own meat, and do not have any education. They also inbreed. Like, a lot.
By the time we meet Edmund, George, and Sherman Peacock, the inbreeding has gone so deep they are nothing but tumors and birth defects. What's worse is that they are procreating with their own mother. Besides the inbreeding, the Peacock brothers also dabble in murder. In this episode, they kill their newborn brother-father; the sheriff and his wife; and the deputy.
Guy Mann: Season 10, Episode 3, "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster"
Mulder and Scully go looking for a creature Mulder thinks is a were-monster - a human who becomes a beast a few days a month. He is half right. The strange man that Mulder meets, who has taken the name Guy Mann, is actually a were-human. He is a lizard-like creature in his normal state, but he was bit by a human, which turns him into a human a few days a month. It turns out that the murders the agents were investigating were not caused by Guy Mann, but by the man who bit him.
Betty: Season 4, Episode 13, "Never Again"
Betty is nothing more than the tattoo on Ed Jerse's arm: a winking pin-up girl that Jerse gets after a nasty divorce, with the reminder "Never Again" stenciled beneath it. But Betty seems to have a mind of her own, and needles Jerse with angry misogynistic taunts, luring him into murdering women. When Jerse goes on a date with Scully, Betty doesn't stop the taunts, but Jerse really likes Scully and he manages to resist Betty urging him to murder her. Instead, he burns the tattoo off his arm.
Leonard: Season 2, Episode 20, "Humbug"
Mulder and Scully meet lots of "monsters" in this circus-themed episode, but there is only one real monster in "Humbug": Leonard. The parasitic twin of Lanny, the alcoholic who works at the trailer park the agents stay at, Leonard is initially just thought of as a lifeless sideshow attraction. But at night, when Lanny is asleep, Leonard detaches himself from Lanny and crawls around town with frightening speed, killing indiscriminately.. until he meets The Conundrum, a geek who will eat anything. Or anyone.
Eugene Tooms: Season 1, Episodes 3 and 21, "Squeeze" and "Tooms"
Eugene Victor Tooms can best be described as a mutant. He looks like an average person, but he can stretch his body out to squeeze into any tiny space. Evidence also suggests that he has been alive - and killing - since at least 1903. Every 30 years, he kills five people, removing their livers with his bare hands and eating it, before hibernating in nests made of newspaper scraps and bile. Tooms was such a popular villain he got two episodes in the first season. In the second, "Tooms," he was killed in an escalator mechanism.
The Flukeman: Season 2, Episode 2, "The Host"
Flukie may be the most iconic The X-Files monster of all time. He is gruesome to look at, with white mottled skin and a mouth that resembled a huge, toothy suction cup. It is believed that Flukie is a flukeworm, a parasitic flatworm that, after swimming around in a soup of Chernobyl sewage, turned into a half man, half flukeworm.
Flukie is captured and eventually cut in half, but any child knows that cutting a worm in half doesn't kill it. Flukie was played by Darin Morgan, brother of series writer/producer Glen Morgan, who would later join the writing staff and create some of the series' most popular episodes, including "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" and "Humbug." Flukie appeared as a drawing on a tabloid in Season 3's "Pusher" and is mentioned by Scully in Season 4's "The Field Where I Died."