It’s been ten years since its end, but “The X-Files” still remains enchanting for a few reasons: Awful clay animation, silly one-liners, absurd jumps in logic (Exhibit A: Mulder), and availability on your August pal, the Netflix Instant queue. Watching Mulder and Scully’s relationship evolve and complicate over the years gives the show its core, but the reliance on two-dimensional characters who can be easily killed off by monsters and/or the government keeps the whole thing exciting. Adding a little frisson to the question of who-will-live-or-die is that sometimes these extras (and probable casualties) are played by people who went on to become well-known performers in their own right. So here’s a look at some of the more noteworthy one-episode characters from the show’s nine-season run.
Appeared: Season 1, Episode 2, as Emil
Character profile: Green plays a super 90s grunge teen who likes to get stoned and sneak onto the secret military base in his small Idaho town. He says “dude” and “what” a lot and rides a small black moped. His plaid is plentiful and his red hair long.
Mulder and Scully discover Green and his girlfriend on the base one night while scouting for UFOs. After hiding from a top-secret-looking helicopter, the four eat at an all-night diner where Green tells Mulder of the rumored UFO tests on the base.
Did he live or die? A survivor. Mulder and Scully leave Green healthy and happy at his home in southwest Idaho.
Appeared: Season 1, Episode 8, as Dr. Nancy Da Silva
Character Profile: Huffman plays a toxicologist sent, along with Mulder, Scully and two other doctors, to a remote Alaskan outpost where scientist inhabitants lost contact after sending out one last distressed video signal. She’s frank, honest and appears to have the hots for another team member. She becomes distressed and aggressive after it’s discovered that an ancient (and possibly alien) parasite has decimated the lost scientific team. Essentially it’s the plot for “The Thing” adapted for a 40-minute program.
Did she live or die? Status unknown. It’s revealed that she has been exposed to the parasite after attempting to kill both Mulder and Scully. The ending gets super intense as Mulder and Scully force the last parasite they have into Huffman’s ear. Highly territorial animals, the new parasite and the old parasite kill one another in a turf war for Huffman’s body, leaving her pretty much as she was before the whole ordeal. The episode closes, however, on an uncertain note as Huffman is carried, clothed in a hazmat suit, into a military helicopter.
Appeared: Season 3, Episode 3, as Bart ’Zero’ Liquori
Character profile: Black plays Zero, a dimwitted teen who works at the local arcade in the small town of Connerville, Oklahoma. His character is similar to Seth Green’s in that he says “huh,” “what” and “um yeah” a lot. His best friend Darren has recently gained powers that allow him to conjure lightning on command, which translates into Darren killing a bunch of people for silly reasons such as stealing his Street Fighter game while he was in the bathroom. The writers insinuate that Black’s character drinks (to get drunk) a lot because in one scene he’s chugging a beer, and as far as “The X-Files” goes, that’s all the character development a viewer deserves.
Did he live or die? Casualty of the truth. Darren convinces himself, incorrectly, that Black has been helping Mulder and Scully with their investigation. He proceeds to kill Black outside the arcade as a really great and angsty song, “Hey Man, Nice Shot” by the band Filter, plays in the background.
R. LEE ERMEY
Appeared: Season 3, Episode 11, as Reverend Patrick Findley
Character profile: A break from our up-and-comers, Ermey was already a well-established character actor by the time he made his single appearance on the show. Preaching fraudulently as one of the 12 stigmatics, Ermey’s character travels and gives pop-up sermons in which he exhibits the same wounds on his hands that Christ did on the crucifix. These sermons eventually attract the attention of Farao, one of the Devil’s disciples and a respected businessman.
Did he live or die? Casualty of the truth. Farao strangles and burns Ermey to death in his dressing room following his performance.
Appeared: Season 3, Episode 13 as Jay ‘Boom’ Deboom
Character profile: Reynolds plays a letterman-jacket-wearing athlete who delivers an uninspired eulogy after his friend and teammate, Bruno, is murdered. The occult is suspected, and Reynold’s chosen tactic of retaliation is to “kick some butt.” He doesn’t provide any advice as to how the butt-kicking should begin or end.
Did he live or die? Casualty of the truth. Brenda Summerfield and Terri Roberts, two fellow students of Reynolds’, lure him down a dirt road after floating the idea of a threesome—a threesome necessary to ensure that all three teens are no longer virgins and, therefore, won’t be hunted by the occult. Summerfield and Roberts, however, turn on Reynolds due to the effects had on them by an extremely rare planetary alignment. They strangle him over the edge of a cliff, but his death is labeled a suicide.
Appeared: Season 3, Episode 19, as Kim Hsin
Character Profile: Liu plays a recent Chinese immigrant who has been diagnosed with leukemia. She doesn’t have many lines, and it’s hard to gather any insight into her character other than the fact that she’s sick. Though her cancer is treatable, her father is too poor to pay for medical expenses. He enters a game that seems similar to Russian roulette if it were shrouded in TV-brand Chinese mysticism. The prospect of winning means he will have enough money to treat his sick daughter, but to lose means to sacrifice one of his organs to the black market.
Did she live or die? A survivor. Liu makes it, presumably well into the future after she is put on the organ donor list by the episode’s end. Her father also survives, but only after losing an eyeball and nearly having his heart cut out and sold.
Appeared: Season 5, Episode 12, as Sheriff Hartwell
Character Profile: Post-Bottle Rocket, pre-Rushmore, Wilson plays Sheriff Hartwell of Chaney, Texas, a small town with a population of 361. The first half of the episode is told twice, first through the unreliable lens of Scully and then that of Mulder. Wilson, according to Scully’s memory, is a charming, smart, agreeable and extremely attractive small-town sheriff. Mulder’s recollection displays Wilson as a buck-toothed, sloppy dullard (most likely out of pure jealousy). Both are incorrect as, in the end, Wilson turns out to be a vampire.
Did he live or die? A survivor. Wilson drugs Scully and leaves her to sleep in the town cemetery, though he’s nice enough to leave her his coat for the chilly night. He packs up and leaves town along with the other 360 residents before Mulder or Scully wake from their slumbers.
Appeared: Season 6, Episode 2, as Patrick Crump
Character profile: In a precursor to his Breaking Bad character, Walter White, Cranston plays a homicidal strong head with a terminal disease. He and his wife are exposed to a deadly, experimental radio wave by the U.S. Navy, after which constant movement West is necessary or their heads will explode. Cranston’s hard nosed and bullish, but also unwilling to listen to Mulder’s wisdom. His anti-semitism leads to many terse conversations between the two men.
Did he live or die? Casualty of the truth. Despite Mulder’s most sincere efforts, Cranston’s disease cannot forever be outrun. His head explodes when he reaches the California coast.
Appeared: Season 7, Episode 6, as Richie Lupone
Character Profile: LaBeouf plays a young boy in Chicago with a bad case of hepatitis and a rare blood type. It’s lucky for him that his landlord, Mr. Henry Weems, became the luckiest man on earth after he survived a commercial airplane crash in 1989. Weems decides to use his luck to procure $100,000 for the experimental treatment that is LaBeouf’s last hope, but there’s a catch. Weems’ luck comes at the cost of someone else’s misfortune.
Did he live or die? A survivor. Similar to the episode involving Lucy Liu, LaBeouf survives thanks to the last-minute death of a prominent Chicago gangster—a death that comes as a result of Weems’ luck. The gangster also happens to be a perfect match for LaBeouf’s rare blood type; B Negative.
Nic Turiciano is an Awl summer reporter. You can follow him on Twitter.