I grew up on The X-Files, which was filled with one-episode nobodies whose only purpose to die was a gruesome death (the more it had to do with toilet monsters and satanic cults the better). At least, that is what you think when the show first comes out. You rewatch it now, and suddenly it is host to all your favorite actors and actresses.

Not the least of which is…

Mark Sheppard

Let’s be frank. None of should be surprised Mark Sheppard was in The X-Files. After all, he’s in everything we know and love, not the least of which includes Doctor Who, Supernatural, and Battlestar Galactica. How the man has been on so many shows is the real X-file. Why haven’t Scully and Mulder investigated that?

In any case, his episode-long stint in “Fire” as someone who can will people to combust is one of his first gigs on television, so I think we scifi fans owe the show a bit of a debt of gratitude because it was clearly his gateway drug to the genre.

Terry O’Quinn

We now know him as John Locke from Lost, but before that he was not one… not two… but three different characters on the The X-Files. Terry O’Quinn certainly gets the award for most characters played with the same mustache one show.

We first see him as the skeevy Lieutenant Brian Tillman in the very poorly thought-out episode “Aubrey” about a cop’s vengeful ghost, the FBI agent Darius Michaud in the movie, Fight the Future, who allows himself to die in the name of The Syndicate, and of course, The Shadow Man, the super soldier bent on killing Mulder and Scully in the last season episode “Trust No 1”. He now peppers our television screens in Hawaii Five-O, and Falling Skies.

Michael Emerson

Are you ready for another actor from Lost? Well, try on the estimable Micheal Emerson, now of Person of Interest fame, on for size. If you thought he was going to be just another guest actor that would have one episode, and never be seen or remembered, you were wrong.

Micheal Emerson has become of the one of the television acting big wigs, which only makes sense now that he’s firmly in bed with JJ Abrams. I also I bet you didn’t know that he did the voice of Joker for The Dark Knight Returns which pretty much ranks him with Mark Hamil and Heath Ledger in my not so humble opinion.


Bryan Cranston

One of Frank Spotnitz’s more terrifying thriller episodes, and the one that has stuck most strongly in my memory, was host to Bryan Cranston… not that I knew that at the time I watched it because the actor had yet to make it big with Malcolm in the Middle. Though, it is pretty safe to say that here is where he and Spotnitz’s relationship started, and what led him to eventually play the lead role in Breaking Bad. The episode was called “Drive” and it was about driving west because it was the only way from keeping your head from exploding. Of course, once you hit the Pacific Ocean, it doesn’t really matter. It’s blood and brains everywhere. Still, the episode had me me convinced for a long time that if I had a headache, I needed to drive west immediately, oceans be damned.

 Mark Pelligrino

Did you say you wanted another Lost actor? No? Well, who cares! You’re going to get one anyway. Both an alumni of Supernatural and Lost, Mark Pelligrino  joins the ranks of “holy crap, was that [Lucifer/Jacob]?” in The X-Files, where he plays an ex-convict in “Hungry”, an episode that is about a man who can’t help but eat people’s brains. And yes, you’re right. It’s hard to get any more X-files than that episode. It’s also hard to get any more fantastic that that hair which sort of makes him look like a Dennis O’Leary wannabe.

Don S. Davis

Who would have known the man who would play Scully’s dead dad in two episodes would be one of the staple actors of the Stargate universe five years later? Because netflix streaming, and DVD sets didn’t exist, this little fact went largely unnoticed until SG-1 watchers rewatched syndicated X-Files episodes, and then proceeded to have their minds blown away by the revelation.

Tony Shalhoub

I will never recommend you watch the episode, “Soft Light”. Ever. It’s about man with a shadow that kills, and that’s only really a good time to watch if you have lots of alcohol and really critical, but humorous friends to watch it with. Still, Tony Shalhoub, long before he became famous with Monk, managed to do a good job with what he had on a mostly forgettable episode of The X-Files.

Bradley Whitford

Before he was appearing on every possible Aaron Sorkin show, Whitford was a vulcanologist, made murderous through the influence of alien microbes. “The Firewalker” has and never will be a well-loved episode, but watching Bradley pumped up in a dirty wife-beater almost makes it worth while.

 Jewel Staite

Before Adam Baldwin went to The X-Files after Firefly was inexplicably cancelled, Jewel Staite was on the show as a very young girl with a psychic connection to a murder victim in “Oubliette”. Now she’s a decent star, with appearances in Stargate, Wonderfalls, and Warehouse 13 and stars in The LA Complex.

Ryan Reynolds

So, Green Latern/Sort-of-Deadpool, who everyone conveniently forgets was in Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place, was a chubby football player named Boom who was sacrificed to the whims of teenage witches in “Sygzy”. Bonus points go to him for his character having the same nickname as me. Points also go to him for having the most people rewatching this episode jump out of their chairs in surprise once they realize who he would become, not too unlike that moment when you realize young Simon Tam in Firefly was played by Highschool Musical star, Zac Efron. It’s a true actor-WTF-are-you-doing-in-this moment.

Luke Wilson

It’s hard to think that Luke Wilson’s jawline would be forgettable, but as he was relatively unknown when the episode, “Bad Blood” was released, it shouldn’t be a surprise that only recently people have realized he was in the show. Really, though, his inhabiting of two characters (one being Mulder’s idea of him, which is a buck-tooth, slack-jawed moron of a sheriff, and the other Scully’s, a handsome, and intelligent lawman) stole the show from his jawline, which is usually his key defining factor.

Laurie Holden

As Mulder burned through his deep throats with alarming frequency, we are introduced to his third X, Marita Covarrubius, who like her predecessors, worked for The Syndicate and leaked information to Mulder. Despite having bit parts in Silent Hill, her appearance as a main character in Walking Dead surprised more than a few of us scifi fans out there.

Jane Lynch

Most people, at the time of this filming, had a vague idea of who Jane Lynch was… that is if they watched the movies on Comedy Central being played over and over and over again. The movie, of course, is Dog Show. But this is before Glee took over the airwaves, and made Jane Lynch in a school environment famous. Though she is a principal in this episode she differs from her Glee counterpart in that she is actually a sort of … bug person (?) who cocoons people, and has a son that communicates messages with fireflies.


Jack Black

Jack Black is in one the more memorable Monster-of-the-Week episodes, “D.P.O”, which features a kid who controls lightning and uses his power to exact all sorts of grisly revenge. Jack Black plays the part of his best friend, and despite it being 20 years later, doesn’t look a whole lot different now than he did before.

Seth Green

Probably one of the most notable actors to play a one-off character in The X-Files. Before Seth Green could go on to be famous for… well.. everything, not the least of which includes Austin Powers and Robot Chicken, he was just a guy playing the role of a stoner in “Deep Throat”, working  for what was probably scale.

The Rest

Just as Lost has a strangely high number of alums appearing on this show, so too does Stargate. Enter Paul McGillion, with his extremely small role of “Angry Husband”, made almost unrecognizable because of his missing Scottish accent. It’s not just him, though. There is also Amanda Tapping, Carter on SG-1 and Naomi on Supernatural,  who plays a character that Skinner has a one night stand with, and then ends up dead in his bed the next morning in “Avatar”. This, of course, is nothing to say of the fact that Mitch Peleggi, who plays Skinner, also goes on to be a significant part of Stargate. Behold the glories of filming every scifi show in Vancouver. It means you get an acting pool largely the size of the BBC.

Like Terry O’Quinn before him, Colin Cunningham plays three parts in The X-Files, all of which are bit parts. For those of you are wondering why Cunninham’s name is so familiar, it’s probably because he played Major Davis in Stargate (no surprsie there) as well as John Pope in Falling Skies, which is due for it’s third season this summer.

Alan Dale, the assumed-villainous Whidmore from Lost also had a recurring role as the Toothpick Man as welll. And Adam Baldwin, most famous for his bit part in Independence Day as a military dude, and Jane from Firefly, played Knowle Rohrer. Other notables include the lead singer of the Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl, who shows up for about three seconds in an airport scene in “Pusher”.

All in all, The X-Files was a breeding ground for tremendous talent, and it’s always fun to go back and watch the stars before they were stars.