Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The X-Files Episode That Was Too Dark Even For Fox

For virtually the entirety of its initial nine-season run on Fox, the sci-fi procedural drama "The X-Files" was regarded as one of the most groundbreaking, and boundary-pushing shows on television. That reputation was more than earned, with the show using its ingenious setup to explore complex, character-driven stories of wild government conspiracies, shocking alien invasions, and heart-stopping tales of the macabre. 

If you never caught up to the series during its 1990s heyday — or via the feature films, or during its recent small-screen revival, for that matter — "The X-Files" followed F.B.I. agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully (played by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson), who spend their days running down twisted cases most other agents have little to no interest in working. And yes, those cases could be quite colorful at times. On a handful of occasions, the were even downright unsettling. 

That includes a seriously twisted Season 4 episode that was so dark and controversial (per NME), Fox refused to air it for several years after its original broadcast.

An infamous season 4 episode of The X-Files proved too much to handle for many viewers

That season 4 episode was titled simply "Home," and found Mulder and Scully dispatched to rural Pennsylvania to check out a grisly murder case. Said case began with local law enforcement discovering the corpse of a badly deformed infant. Things only got more unsettling from there, with Mulder and Scully surmising the child had been buried alive, and was the product of inbreeding by an animalistic family of locals known as the Peacocks. What ensued was essentially a mash-up of horror movies such as "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," and "The Hills Have Eyes," that found Mulder and Scully discovering the Peacock's twisted family tree, and thus the unfathomable depths of their depravity.

Based on its content alone, "Home" undoubtedly fronted some serious "ick" factor, with rumors continuing to circulate that even some involved in the production feared the episode had gone "too far" (per Uproxx). "The X-Files" had, of course, hardly shied away from gore in its first three seasons, but even hardcore genre enthusiasts might agree "Home" pushed the boundaries of decency in ways few hours of television ever have. Per NME, when "Home" premiered in October of 1996, it indeed did so as the first network television series to boast the TV-MA content warning. "Home" also became an instant fan-favorite episode among "The X-Files" faithful. And per its 9.0 rating on IMDb, "Home" remains one of "The X-Files" best-rated hours.

'Home' was deemed so vile by Fox bosses, they actually barred it from the airwaves for several years

As noted by its all-time Top 10 ranking via TV Guide, "Home" is still regarded among the series' best episodes. But it would be years before "The X-files" fans could see the episode again, as Fox bosses refused to air a rerun. Per a 2015 New York Times interview, the episode co-writer's Glen Morgan claimed that one Fox executive even went so far as to call "The X-Files" creative team directly to tell them, "Those characters never appear on television again."

Fox stuck to that stance for several years, in fact. Whether they relented over fan fervor, or just saw a unique opportunity for a clever marketing scheme, they finally brought "Home" back to Fox in 1999. They did so with considerable fanfare as well with the New York Times piece noting a full-page ad in TV Guide was purchased to herald the rerun, dubbing the episode, "so controversial it's been banned from television for three years."

Per that same NYT interview, Morgan's co-writer James Wong admitted they were out to scare with "Home," but never thought they were pushing boundaries so far that it would get banned, stating, "We were trying to make a terrifying show. We didn't think we were pushing the envelope of taste in the way people seem to ascribe to us ..." Intentional or not, Wong and Morgan created what may be the scariest episode of television to ever grace the airwaves. At the very least, "Home" remains one of the most talked about.