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Charlie Chaplin's Disturbingly True History Inspired One Of The X-Files' Most Iconic Episodes

There have been many science fiction and horror shows that have become popular hits with audiences, or at least found a nice niche and fervently loyal fanbase. However, when it comes to a series in the genre that appealed to pop culture fans on a massive scale, "The X-Files" is arguably the show that fits that bill the best. Starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully respectively, "The X-Files" engaged in the ultimate delicate balancing act between pure science fiction spectacle and bone-chilling horror, while also leaving room for a lot of comedic elements and melodrama throughout.

The series "The X-Files" had many memorable episodes, both in its overarching alien plot and its more case-of-the-week stories. Obviously, with the show heavily centered on both supernatural horror and far-fetched science fiction ideas, most of these stories were not exactly based on real events. However, when it comes to perhaps one of the show's most iconic episodes, the writers actually pulled some story elements directly from a surprising source: silent film-era star Charlie Chaplin and his own life experiences.

Home was partially inspired by Charlie Chaplin's life

During Season 4 of "The X-Files," the show aired what would be considered one of its most gruesome entries yet in "Home," which centered on the Peacock family, who harbor many physical abnormalities due to decades of incest. While the episode was and continues to be praised among fans and critics alike, it created a stir of controversy after its airing. It was the only episode of the show to carry a TV-MA rating (per Fangoria), and it was banned from ever airing again at the time for being too dark.

Interestingly, the episode was partially based on an anecdote from Charlie Chaplin's autobiography. While making the Season 4 documentary on YouTube, the co-writer of the episode, James Wong, explained this inspiration. "There was a biography of Charlie Chaplin that we read and he was in a small town and he was staying with this family," Wong said. "And one night they said, 'You know, Charlie we like you a lot and we want to show you something that we never show anyone.' He went upstairs to this bare room. There's only a cot ... And from under the cot they pulled out this teenager who was only a torso and a head with no arms and no legs."

The Chaplin story in question actually details someone who still has their arms, but regardless, it was still enough to stick with both Wong and his writing partner Glen Morgan. As mentioned before, the episode became somewhat infamous, but it also helped cement "The X-Files" as perhaps one of the scariest shows on television at the time. The fact that they used a Chaplin story to help inspire it is a fact that's almost stranger than fiction.