ByDavid Opie, writer at
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David Opie

Brace yourselves guys.

The initial run of Fox's groundbreaking show The X-Files first ended exactly fourteen years ago today, on May 19, 2002, with the premiere of the Season Nine finale titled "The Truth".

Makes you feel old, right?

The only thing scarier than that realisation is the show itself, which included some of the most terrifying stories ever shown on TV across its run of 208 episodes.

Despite being marketed primarily as a science fiction show, the cases that Agents Mulder and Scully tackled were often filled with genuinely scary scenes that proved television could rival the very best that Hollywood had to offer.

Don't believe us?

Grab some popcorn, switch the lights off and prepare to be freaked out by the five scariest X-Files episodes of all time.

5. 'Folie à Deux' (Season 5, Episode 19)

Skin-care was shocking in the 90s. [Fox]
Skin-care was shocking in the 90s. [Fox]

In this Season Five highlight, Mulder and Scully encounter a call-centre employee called Lambert who becomes convinced that his boss is secretly some kind of monster. Rather than conduct a Scooby-Doo style investigation for clues, the unhinged Lambert decides to take everyone in the building hostage instead, including Agent Mulder.

After Lambert is killed, Mulder begins to experience the same visions, until he's locked up in a psychiatric hospital for his own protection. Throughout the episode, the audience's perception is toyed with, to the point where even we begin to doubt Mulder's sanity.

As if that wasn't disconcerting enough, the show's chilling use of darkness and make-up increases the scare factor tenfold, freaking viewers out even more once the 'delusions' begin to attack Mulder and Scully in the physical world.

4. 'Irresistible' (Season 2, Episode 13)

Not the best time to cop a feel, Mulder. [Fox]
Not the best time to cop a feel, Mulder. [Fox]

The X-Files was created to tackle paranormal cases that the FBI wouldn't usually even dream of solving, but every now and again, Mulder and Scully would face a threat based in the real world, which, often turned out be far scarier than any monster that the shows writers could concoct.

"Irresistible" focuses on a seemingly quiet and polite man called Donnie Pfaster who holds a secret obsession with death. In his quest to collect the hair and fingernails of dead women, Pfaster eventually turns to murder. Upon seeing Scully's luscious hair, Pfaster does what any self-respecting death fetishist would do and kidnaps her to improve his collection further.

The final struggle between Pfaster and Scully is genuinely terrifying, but what stays with viewers long after the credits have rolled is the disturbing way he prepares Scully before he tries to take her life.

3. 'The Host' (Season Two, Episode Two)

We're not even sure a mother could love that face.
We're not even sure a mother could love that face.

When Mulder wasn't obsessed with rescuing his sister from her alien abductors, The X-Files regularly explored the darker recesses of the paranormal within a 'monster of the week' format that produced some of the shows most iconic characters.

Out of the earlier seasons, one of the most disturbing creations the writers came up with became affectionately known as "Flukie". Put aside ideas of cutesy Disney-style characters for a moment. The Flukeworm is still one of the most disturbing monsters ever shown on TV, despite the limited 90s budget that the show was forced to use to bring him to life.

The story followed Mulder and Scully as they investigated a series of grotesque murders, which turned out to be perpetrated by a vile man/flukeworm hybrid, which mutated due to radioactive material from Chernobyl.

Not gross enough for you?

From his lair in the sewers, Flukie would venture out and seek human hosts for his parasitic offspring, ensuring that anyone who watches the episode to the end will refuse to visit the bathroom alone for at least a week.

2. 'Squeeze' (Season 1, Episode 3)

As far as monsters of the week go, there's one iconic character who towers above the rest in The X-Files lore, but it's hard to see him at times because he's so damn skinny.

That's right. We are of course referring to Eugene Victor Tooms, a serial killer who can stretch and squeeze his body into the smallest of spaces. Rather than use this gift for a jolly career in the circus, Tooms instead hides in vents and pipes, waiting to strike and kill every thirty years in order to eat his victims livers, keeping Tooms eternally young.

The debut of Tooms struck a huge chord with viewers, to the point where the creative team decided to bring the mutant killer back for another equally horrifying episode that the show imaginatively named "Tooms".

Want to know something even creepier? The actor who played Tooms to such chilling effect on the show was also a bit creepy in real life, marrying a sixteen year old reality star while in his fifties.

1. 'Home' (Season 4, Episode 2)

A face that a mother could love too much. [Fox]
A face that a mother could love too much. [Fox]

Each of the aforementioned episodes are scary in their own way, but The X-Files reached a whole new level of disturbing with the infamous Season Four classic, "Home".

The horror depicted within The X-Files is typically psychological in nature, but the intensity and violence of "Home" drew comparisons with the work of David Lynch and Tobe Hooper instead, thanks to the episode's tense direction and disturbing themes of incest and death.

Aired with a viewer discretion warning upon its initial broadcast, "Home" has since been held up as one of the shows seminal masterpieces and is still freaking audiences out to this day.

To say any more would spoil the fun, but just make sure you have someone else in the room with you by the time you reach the scene with the box under the bed.

Don't say we didn't warn you.

You heard us Scully. [Fox]
You heard us Scully. [Fox]

In case you're feeling a little bit freaked out now, here's a clip of the three main characters enjoying a hot tub while talking on the phone.

Don't say we never do nice things for you.

What do you think is the scariest X-Files episode of all time?

Just pick one goddammit.
Just pick one goddammit.

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