​X-Files easter eggs you missed

Little gray aliens, sewer-dwelling flukemen, and government conspiracies that are deeper and darker than the blackened lungs of a chain-smoking villain: after ten seasons and two movies, The X-Files has packed a whole lotta mythology and intrigue into its plotlines.

But while the truth is out there, it's also [gestures to The X-Files DVD box set] in here, in the form of in-jokes and easter eggs sprinkled throughout the series. Some are blatantly obvious even to X-Files noobs; some, you'll only notice if you've been paying close attention since season one. Here are the best winks and nods in X-Files history.

​The "I WANT TO BELIEVE" poster

The first time we meet special agent Fox "Spooky" Mulder, his office includes a striking piece of decor: a poster depicting an old-school, flying saucer-type UFO hovering above a treeline, with the words I WANT TO BELIEVE emblazoned in all caps below. The artwork was an instant must-have for The X-Files fans (you can still order one on Amazon, if you're in the market), but it's also the series' original, longest-lasting, and most ubiquitous easter egg.

The poster first appeared in the pilot and was seen on-screen in every subsequent season along with both X-Files movies (it also provided a title in the case of 2008's The X-Files: I Want to Believe) — and it made two key appearances in the 2016 miniseries that brought Mulder and Scully back to the small screen after a decade-long hiatus.

By then, Scully has her own copy ("What are you doing to my poster?" she says, after catching Mulder using it as a dartboard); but the more memorable of its scenes came when Mulder wandered through the wreckage of his former office at the very start of the show, and callously shredded the I WANT TO BELIEVE poster with his giant skeptical feet, a moment which absolutely scandalized the show's fans. (David Duchovny, however, was untroubled by the sacrilege he'd just committed; at Comic-Con, when asked what it was like to shred the poster, he replied, "I felt nothing.")

Mulder and pencils

Mulder has a bit of a thing for pencils, a character quirk first firmly established in this scene, back in the fifth season of The X-Files. (Who needs darts when you've got a freshly-sharpened set of No. 2s and a whole lot of time on your hands?)

And while his pencil-throwing penchant never took on any greater significance in the context of the show's mythology, it is a key bit of continuity that the producers played for laughs for sharp-eyed fans. In a later episode, pencils were shown stuck in the ceiling at Mulder's apartment — and in the revival series, Scully walks into her own office to find Mulder chucking sharpened pencils at her beloved UFO poster. Old habits die hard, friends.

​The red speedo

How did Special Agent Mulder keep it tight between investigations and alien abductions? In the season two episode "Duane Barry," fans finally got their answer — and an image they'd never forget, as Mulder was interrupted in the middle of his workout routine and exited the pool wearing… THAT. The red speedo became an instant X-Files icon (not to mention the inspiration for a hundred thousand sexually explicit Mulder fanfics), and its effect on the fandom was evidently not lost on series creator Chris Carter.

In the easter-egg-laden season ten episode, "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster," a voyeuristic motel owner takes a peek through a peephole into Mulder's room, and sees the FBI agent lying on the bed wearing nothing but a pair of red bikini briefs. Ooh la la.

​Hollywood in-jokes galore

"Hollywood AD" is a classic episode of The X-Files, featuring Garry Shandling and Tea Leoni as Mulder and Scully in an X-Files movie-within-the-show. David Duchovny wrote this episode, and he crammed it with references, jokes, and cameo appearances that his friends, family, and fans would appreciate.

Among the many easter eggs included in "Hollywood AD": a joke about Tea Leoni (Duchovny's IRL wife at the time) having a crush on Mulder, Duchovny's dog making a cameo appearance on-set, and Duchovny's co-stars from Return to Me (Minnie Driver and David Alan Grier) sitting in the audience during the "movie premiere."

​Moby Dick references

Herman Melville's Moby Dick has always shared certain thematic similarities with The X-Files, for obvious reasons. Substitute little grey aliens for a big white cetacean, and Fox Mulder's obsessive quest for answers should start ringing a few literary bells — or as Scully herself puts it, "The truth, or a white whale? What difference does it make?"

But you'll also find some highly specific callbacks to Moby Dick sprinkled throughout the series, some more noticeable than others. In the first season ("Beyond the Sea"), it's revealed that Scully's nickname is "Starbuck" after a character in Melville's novel; in the season three episode "Quagmire," Scully explains that she named her recently-deceased dog Queequeg after the Moby Dick harpoonist. And in "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster" in season ten, an immortal lizard becomes briefly human and adopts a dog, which he immediately names "Daggoo" — who is also yet another crewman aboard ill-fated Pequod.

​RIP, Kim Manners

This was a sad, sweet little easter egg from The X-Files revival in 2016. In "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster," Mulder finds himself in a graveyard, lying back against a gravestone that reads, "In loving memory of Kim Manners" — a name that anyone who calls him or herself an X-Files insider will recognize.

The gravestone is a tribute to former X-Files producer and director Kim Manners, who was a key player on the X-Files team from season two through the series finale. Manners died in 2009, but his spirit lived on in the revival — as did his signature catchphrase, which appears in the form of a super-cool epitaph: "Kick it in the ass." (Manners wasn't alone in that graveyard, either; former first assistant director Jack Hardy, also deceased, had a plot as well.)

​The paint-huffing stoners

At this point, it should be clear that "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster" is pretty much the easter eggiest episode of The X-Files ever made — but we won't be done listing its myriad callbacks to the classic episodes of yore until we talk about the paint-huffing stoners.

Tyler Labine and Nicole Parker memorably appeared in episodes "War of the Coprophages" and "Quagmire" during The X-Files' original run as a pair of underachievers whose greatest goal in life is to be high on paint fumes as often as humanly possible, and they were so good at it that it only made sense to bring them back for an encore when the show had its big tenth season revival. Their cameo appearance was as entertaining as ever, but also an easter egg for devoted fans, as one of them paused mid-huff to ask, "Do you ever think life is so amazing, that maybe we shouldn't waste it by getting high all the time?"

​Final Jeopardy

The actors, writers, directors and producers who worked on the original The X-Files were a close-knit bunch, and they weren't above poking fun at their leading man when the opportunity presented itself — like, for instance, when David Duchovny made a slightly embarrassing appearance on Celebrity Jeopardy in between X-Files engagements.

Duchovny's stint on the game show (which also spawned the above viral video after the perplexed actor muttered, "What ARE frogs?" into his microphone) ended with a final question about Truman Capote's famous novel Breakfast at Tiffany's; a few months later, in the season three episode "War of the Coprophages," Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) was seen reading the book onscreen for no particular reason… except to make a dig at her co-star, of course.

​Oh, those golden oldies

When The X-Files returned for its tenth season, the moment above was a can't-miss nod to a classic episode from the show's original run, which featured a memorable scene in which three mutant rednecks murder an innocent couple to the soothing soundtrack of Johnny Mathis' "Wonderful, Wonderful."

That episode, titled "Home," was an obvious precursor to this one, titled "Home Again" — in which a similarly hideous death was set to the happy-go-lucky strains of Petula Clark's "Downtown." Glen Morgan, who wrote both episodes, evidently has a thing for killing people to the tune of golden oldies.

​The immortal Scully

In the 2016 revival of The X-Files, Mulder and Scully have a peculiar exchange: after Mulder criticizes his partner for risking her life in pursuit of a serial killer, Scully quips, in response, "You forget… I'm immortal." A bit of random sass? NOPE. It's an easter egg, a callback to a season three X-Files episode titled "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose." In that episode, Scully asks the clairvoyant Bruckman (played by Peter Boyle, who won an Emmy for his performance) how she'll die. Bruckman's memorable response?

"You don't."

Though the showrunners didn't necessarily intend for that line to be quite so meaningful, fans latched onto it instantly — and made a point of occasionally winking at those of us who've theorized that Scully is literally unable to die.

The sound of music

After getting day-drunk in a graveyard, Special Agent Fox Mulder is awakened by the haunting sound of his phone going off — but that's no default ringtone it's playing. Because this moment from "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster" is as meta as it gets, it does qualify as an easter egg on its technical merits. On the other hand, let's be honest: If you didn't recognize the opening strains of The X-Files theme song within three notes, you don't get to call yourself a fan.