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7 Things We Owe to The X-Files

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XFilesArchive.com

Update (1/18/15): Fox TV Group chairman Gary Newman confirmed that they're talking about bringing back The X-Files with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, and Newman is "hopeful." While we await further news on the reboot, let's look back at the legacy of the show's original run.

Over its nine-season run, The X-Files covered a lot of ground, pitting its odd-couple stars against all manner of extraterrestrial enemy, cryptozoological creature, and mythological monster. But along with all of the memorable stories fans are still talking about more than a decade after the show ended its run, The X-Files also gave us a few things to be thankful for that might not be as obvious.

1. Breaking Bad

XFiles Archive

Before he created one of the hottest shows on television, Breaking Bad showrunner Vince Gilligan spent several seasons writing, producing, and even directing episodes of The X-Files. One particular episode in the sixth season, “Drive,” featured an antagonist played by Bryan Cranston. Gilligan was so impressed with Cranston's portrayal of the character, which required him to humanize an otherwise loathsome person, that he brought him back for the role of Walter White in Breaking Bad.

2. and 3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Torchwood

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There's no shortage of filmmakers and television auteurs who were influenced by The X-Files, but two very prominent creators who have name-dropped Chris Carter's series when discussing some of their most popular projects are Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon and Torchwood creator Russell T. Davies. In describing his popular show about a teenager tasked with vanquishing the undead, Whedon called Buffy a mix between The X-Files and My So-Called Life.  Similarly, Davies called his Doctor Who spinoff series about a mysterious agency investigating supernatural phenomena a cross between The X-Files and This Life.

4. The Growth of Online Fan Communities

Online fan communities were still in their infancy when The X-Files began its run, but the simultaneous rise of both the show and the internet itself resulted in the series becoming one of the earliest to develop a large online following willing to spend countless hours discussing the show, speculating about future stories, and even creating their own original content related to the series. This fortunate alignment of project, fandom, and medium was embraced by The X-Files creators, and led to many message-board users seeing their names pop up in episodes or acknowledged in other ways by the writers. In one particular example of the show's creators nurturing the online community, a May 2001 episode introduced a character named Leyla Harrison—the name of a popular author of The X-Files fan-fiction who had recently died. This interaction between fans and a project's creators soon became the model for subsequent series looking to connect with their online fanbase. 

5. Julianne Moore in Hannibal

After Jodie Foster declined to reprise her role as F.B.I. investigator Clarice Starling in the 2001 sequel to The Silence of the Lambs, the studio turned to a short list of actresses that seemed like a good fit for the character. Among them was Dana Scully herself, Gillian Anderson. However, it was discovered that Anderson's X-Files contract prohibited her from playing an F.B.I. agent in any other projects, forcing her to drop out of the running for the role (which eventually went to Julianne Moore). In a weird turn of events, Anderson was recently cast in a recurring role on the Hannibal television series as Hannibal Lecter's therapist.

6. William B. Davis

XFiles Archive

Okay, so this one's a bit of a stretch, but as a big fan of The Cigarette-Smoking Man in The X-Files universe, it's always interesting to note that actor William B. Davis' sinister character was never intended to be the recurring foil for Mulder and Scully that he eventually became in the series. Davis was originally cast as an extra for the series while he was teaching at an acting school in Vancouver, where the show was filmed. Chris Carter and the rest of the show's creative team were so impressed with his performance that they brought him back again and again over the series' nine-season run, and eventually gave him the honor of being one of the only three actors—along with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson—to appear in both the first and last episodes of the series. He went on to appear in countless other films and television series, often as a mysterious or otherwise sinister character, while also counting a number of famous actors (including Lucy Lawless) among his students.

7. “Myth Arcs” and “The Chris Carter Effect”

For better or worse, The X-Files coined several terms that have become commonly used in today's television culture. The phrase “myth arcs” (or “mythology episodes”) has its roots in The X-Files, with fans using the term to describe episodes or multi-story arcs that served the over-arching narrative of the series instead of just that particular episode. Over the course of the series' nine-season run, most of the “myth arcs” explored the alien-abduction and invasion elements of the story that generally led to season-ending cliffhangers and revelations regarding a threat to the greater world around the characters. Years later, the term continued to see heavy use in discussion of shows like Lost and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Similarly, “The Chris Carter Effect” has become a relatively common term to describe a show that has let its over-arching mythology become so convoluted that the series begins losing fans who no longer believe the story's mysteries can be resolved with any amount of satisfaction.

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16 Geeky Coasters to Keep Your Coffee Table Safe
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iStock

Avoid unsightly ring stains on your coffee table with this delightful selection of coasters:

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. FLOPPY DISKS; $22.79

Floppy disks are not obsolete—at least in your living room area.

Buy on Amazon.

2. MARIO; $20

Mario Question Mark Block Coaster Set
Etsy

Unfortunately, no coins will be coming out of these coasters, but they will keep your table dry.

Buy on Etsy.

3. GAME OF THRONES; $12.99

Game of Thrones coasters
HBO Shop

Avoid a royal mess with house sigils of houses Targaryen, Stark, Baratheon, and Lannister.

Buy at the HBO Shop.

4. PACMAN; $20.95

Use these on a black table to recreate the retro video game.

Buy on Epic Giftables.

5. AGATE; $35

Rock on: These fancy agate coasters will look solid resting under your glass.

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6. ELEMENTS; $56.99

These glowing coasters are perfect for chemists, Breaking Bad fans, and anyone who forgot to pay their electric bill.

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7. BUILDING BLOCKS; $19.99

Build your own coaster with this LEGO-esque design.

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8. STAR TREK; $16.63

Star Trek ship coasters
Amazon

This ceramic set celebrates all the best ships from Star Trek.

Buy on Amazon.

9. DR. WHO; $22.99

Just make sure you don’t accidentally send your glass into a different time period when you set it down.

Buy on Amazon.

10. RILAKKUMA; $1.95

Rilakkuma coaster
Bonanza

Cover your counter space with the cute face of Rilakkuma.

Buy on Bonanza.

11. HARRY POTTER; $50

Set of wood burned coasters featuring the crest of each Harry Potter house
Etsy

All the houses are present in this set of wood coasters.

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12. FALLOUT; $25

fallout coasters
Etsy

Just because it’s the end of the world doesn’t mean all manners go out the door: Never forget to use a coaster!

Buy on Etsy.

13. BRAIN; $19.99

This set comes with 10 coasters, each with a slice of brain specimen. When you’re not using them, you can stack them together to create a full brain.

Buy on Amazon.

14. THE LAST AIRBENDER; FROM $13

Aang and his entourage face off on these wooden coasters.

Buy on Etsy.

15. BUFFY AND CO; $20

Getting totally wigged by the idea of a stained table? All your favorite characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer can give you an assist.

Buy on Etsy.

16. STUDIO GHIBLI; $25

Studio Ghibli Stone Tile Coasters
Etsy

These coasters feature scenes from the classics My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl's Moving Castle.

Buy on Etsy.

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15 Educational Facts About Old School
DreamWorks
DreamWorks

Old School starred Luke Wilson as Mitch Martin, an attorney who—after catching his girlfriend cheating, and through some real estate and bitter dean-related circumstances—becomes the leader of a not-quite-official college fraternity. Along with his fellow thirtysomething friends Bernard (Vince Vaughn) and newlywed Frank (Will Ferrell), they end up having to fight for their right to maintain their status as a party-loving frat on campus.

The film, which was released 15 years ago today, marked Vaughn’s return to major comedies and Ferrell’s first major starring role after seven years on Saturday Night Live. Here are some facts about the movie for everyone, but particularly for my boy, Blue.

1. THE IDEA ORIGINATED WITH AN AD GUY.

Writer-director Todd Phillips was talking to a friend of his from the advertising industry named Court Crandall one day. Crandall had seen and enjoyed Phillips's movie Frat House (1998) and told his director buddy, “You know what would be funny is a movie about older guys who start a fraternity of their own.” After being told by Phillips to write it, he presented Phillips with a “loose version” of the finished product.

2. SOME OF THE FRAT SHENANIGANS WERE REAL.

While Crandall received the story credit for Old School, Phillips and Scot Armstrong received the credit for writing the script. Armstrong put his own college fraternity experiences into the script. “We were in Peoria, Illinois, so it was up to us to entertain ourselves," Armstrong shared in the movie's official production notes. "A lot of ideas for Old School came from things that really happened. When it was cold, everyone would go stir crazy and it inspired some moments of brilliance. Of course, my definition of ‘brilliance' might be different from other people's.”

3. IVAN REITMAN HELPED OUT.

Ivan Reitman, director of Stripes and Ghostbusters, was an executive producer on the film. Phillips and Armstrong wrote and rewrote every day for two months at Reitman’s house, an experience Phillips described as comedy writing “boot camp.”

4. THE STUDIO DIDN’T WANT VINCE VAUGHN.

Vince Vaughn in 'Old School' (2003)
DreamWorks

It didn’t seem to make a difference to DreamWorks that Phillips and Armstrong had written the role of Bernard with Vince Vaughn in mind—the studio didn't want him. After his breakout success in Swingers, Vaughn had taken roles in dramas like the 1998 remake of Psycho. “So when Todd Phillips wanted me for Old School, the studio didn’t want me,” Vaughn told Variety in 2015. “They didn’t think I could do comedy! They said, ‘He’s a dramatic actor from smaller films.’ Todd really had to push for me.”

5. RECYCLED SHOTS OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY WERE USED.

The film was mainly shot on the Westwood campus of UCLA. The aerial shots of the fictitious Harrison University, however, were of Harvard; they had been shot for Road Trip (2000).

6. VINCE VAUGHN FANS MIGHT RECOGNIZE THE CHURCH.

In the film, Frank gets married at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California. Vaughn and Owen Wilson were in that same church two years later for Wedding Crashers (2005).

7. WILL FERRELL SCARED MEMBERS OF A 24-HOUR GYM.

Frank’s streaking scene was shot on a city street. As Ferrell remembered it, one of the storefronts was a 24-hour gym with Stairmasters and treadmills in the window. “I was rehearsing in a robe, and all these people are in the gym, watching me. I asked one of the production assistants, ‘Shouldn’t we tell them I’m going to be naked?’ Sure enough, I dropped my robe and there were shrieks of pure horror. After the first take, nobody was at the window anymore. I took that as a sign of approval.”

8. FERRELL REALLY WAS NAKED.

Ferrell justified it by saying it showed his character falling off the wagon. “The fact that it made sense was the reason I was really into doing it, and why I was able to commit on that level," Ferrell told the BBC. "If it was just for the sake of doing a crazy shot, then I don't think it makes sense.” Still, Ferrell needed some liquid courage, and was intimidated by the presence of Snoop Dogg.

9. ROB CORDDRY WAS NOT NAKED, BUT HE STILL HAD TO SIGN AWAY HIS NUDITY RIGHTS.

Old School marked the first major film role for Rob Corddry, who at the time was best known as a correspondent for The Daily Show. He had a jewel bag around his private parts for his nude scene, but his butt made it into the final cut. He had to sign a nudity clause, which gave the film the right to use his naked image “in any part of the universe, in any form, even that which is not devised.”

10. SNOOP DOGG AGREED TO CAMEO SO HE COULD PLAY HUGGY BEAR IN STARSKY & HUTCH.

Phillips admitted to essentially bribing the hip-hop artist/actor, using Snoop Dogg’s desire to play the street informant in the modern movie adaptation of the classic TV show (which Phillips was also directing) to his advantage. “So when I went to him I said, 'I want you to do Huggy Bear,' he was really excited. And I said, 'Oh yeah, also will you do this little thing for me in Old School a little cameo?' So he kind of had to do it I think."

11. SNOOP WANTED TO HANG OUT WITH VINCE VAUGHN ON SET, BUT NOT LUKE WILSON.

Snoop Dogg in 'Old School' (2003)
Richard Foreman, Dreamworks

Vaughn and his friends accepted an invitation to hang out in Snoop Dogg’s trailer to play video games on the last day of shooting. Vaughn recalled seeing Luke Wilson later watching the news alone in his trailer; he had not been informed of the get-together.

12. WILSON WAS TEASED BY HIS CO-STARS.

Vaughn, Wilson, and Ferrell dubbed themselves “The Wolfpack”—years before Phillips directed The Hangover—because they would always make fun of each other. A particularly stinging exchange had Ferrell refer to Legally Blonde (which Wilson had starred in) as Legally Bland. Wilson said it didn’t make him feel great. Wilson retorted by telling Ferrell that "the transition from TV to the movies isn't a very easy one, so you might just want to keep one foot back in TV just in case this whole movie thing falls through!"

13. TERRY O’QUINN SCARED HIS SONS INTO THINKING THEY WERE TRIPPING.

Terry O’Quinn (who went on to play John Locke on Lost the following year) agreed to play Goldberg, uncredited, in what was a two-day job for him. He neglected to inform his sons he was in the movie, and when they saw it, one of them called their father. “I got a call from my sons one night, and they said, ‘What were you doing in Old School? We didn’t even know you were in it!’ They said, ‘We’re sitting there, and the first time we see you, it’s, like, in a reflection in a window. And when we saw it, and we both thought we were, like, tripping or something!’”

14. THE EARMUFFS WERE IMPROVISED.

Before filming, Vaughn worked with Ferrell to figure out their characters' backstories and how they knew each other; he credited that with helping him figure out who Bernard was, which led to several ad-libbed moments. “The earmuff scene where he swears in front of the kids, and then I tell the kid to earmuff, that all is off the cuff. But that stuff is a lot easier to do when you know who you are and your circumstances, and who your characters are,” Vaughn explained.

15. FERRELL AND VAUGHN DIDN’T LOVE A SCRIPT FOR A SEQUEL.

Armstrong had written Old School Dos in 2006, which saw the frat going to Spring Break. Ferrell said that he and Vaughn read the script but felt like they would just be “kind of doing the same thing again.” Wilson, on the other hand, was excited over the new script.

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