The Graphic Nature of This Banned ‘The X-Files’ Episode Made Viewers Queasy

The X-Files dominated ratings and awards shows during the 1990s thanks to excellent writing, producing, and acting. The sci-fi tv show dealt with a broad conspiracy arc underscored with what were known as “monster of the week” episodes.

Monster of the week, episodes revolved around supernatural and paranormal subject matter with general criminal stories thrown in. These episodes tended to be the most popular as well as the most controversial. In fact, one such episode only aired once on FOX due to its extremely graphic nature.

The episode “Home” took Dana Scully and Fox Mulder to upstate New York for a murder investigation that left viewers queasy. 

‘Home’ was a terrifying episode of ‘X-Files’

Agents Mulder (David Duchovny, L) and Scully (Gillian Anderson, R) in an episode of THE X-FILES | FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

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Although the title “Home” brings images of warmth and love, the storyline is quite the opposite. Scully and Mulder investigate the murder of a disfigured male baby in upstate New York.

The family living on the property, The Peacocks, consist seemingly of three brothers who are also disfigured. An autopsy confirms the dead baby is related to the Peacock brothers, so Scully and Mulder decide to search the house.

While investigating, the FBI agents discover the brothers’ mother is living under the bed without any limbs. Viewers describe the quadruple amputee under the bed as genuinely horrifying.

One Redditor said, “When mama got pulled out from under the bed(?). I lost my mind. Pretty sure I ran out of the room.” Yet despite the disturbing nature, “Home” is a fan favorite.

Another Redditor said, “It’s the one that disturbs me the most, but it’s also really good. To this day I still get that image of the brothers in the Cadillac with the music in my head and it gives me chills.

What inspired the episode?

It is fair to wonder what inspired such a violent and disturbing plot, and the answer might surprise you. Writers Glen Morgan and James Wong were mesmerized by an excerpt from Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography, where he recalls a disturbing stay with a rural mining family.

He wrote: “A half a man with no legs, an oversized, blond, flat-shaped head, a sickening white face, a sunken nose, a large mouth and powerful muscular shoulders and arms, crawled from underneath the dresser. He wore flannel underwear with the legs of the garment cut off to the thighs, from which ten thick, stubby toes stuck out.”

Chaplin was horrified, and Wong and Morgan felt this was the perfect material for X-Files. Not everyone agreed. 

Producers and actors react

FOX only aired the episode once. It was the first primetime show to earn an MA rating and the first episode of the series to have a viewer discretion warning.

The network wasn’t the only one who wasn’t a fan of the episode. After reading the script, the producer called Wong and said, “You guys are sick!” The actors also were shocked by the gruesome episode. Guest star, Tucker Smallwood, was surprised by the gruesome scenes and found filming unpleasant.

Despite the dismay, “Home” aired to positive reviews and fan approval. After 11 seasons, Home is still regularly regarded as one of the best episodes

Regardless of the success, FOX and X-Files producers wanted nothing to do with “Home.” The writers attempted to write a sequel to the episode, but FOX told them, “Those characters never appear on television again.”

Of course, fans and the merely curious can view the episode in 2020. “Home” is part of the Season 4 DVD Box Set, and it is available to stream on HULU. Critics still place this episode as one of the scariest episodes of all time, so viewers should prepare to feel scared and perhaps even queasy.