‘X-Files’: Gillian Anderson’s Pregnancy Was Hidden With a Dark Plotline

When writing a TV show, especially a popular one that stays on the air for multiple years, writers need to be prepared for changes with the cast. That could mean actors leaving the show or changing in some way or another. The team behind The X-Files had to adjust when they learned series star Gillian Anderson was pregnant during the show’s run. The way they dealt with it? They didn’t write Anderson out for an extended break, but they did add a dark plotline to the show. 

What was the premise of ‘The X-Files’? 

RELATED: ‘X-Files’ Stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny ‘Hated Each Other’ Behind-the-Scenes

According to Rotten Tomatoes, The X-Files debuted on Fox in 1996. The show followed the adventures of FBI agents Scully and Mulder, portrayed by  Anderson and David Duchovny, respectively. The sci-fi show saw the two agents attempt to investigate and explain the unexplainable. It involved many supernatural and extraterrestrial elements. 

What made the show so effective were its unique characters and creepy storylines. Very few sci-fi shows were hits on network TV, but X-Files was the rare exception. It ran for nine seasons during its original run, leaving the airwaves in 2001.

Gillian Anderson smiling in front of a white background
Gillian Anderson | Dominik Bindl/Getty Images

It returned for two seasons as a revival in 2016 and 2018. One of the show’s best features was the chemistry between its two leads, Duchovny and Anderson. Both actors were great in their roles and clearly had success outside of them as well.

Duchovny later starred in the popular Showtime series Californication, while Anderson played former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher in The Crown on Netflix. 

Who was Dana Scully? 

Scully was one of the show’s two main leads. Played expertly by Anderson, the FBI agent was also a doctor of medicine. Her role in the partnership was to question and doubt Mulder’s investigative work. She was there to apply reasoning and science to what they were witnessing. 

While Mulder and Scully had different belief systems, they nonetheless grew quite close during the show and trusted each other implicitly. Mulder believed in the supernatural whereas Scully was grounded in reality.

The two complimented each other well, helping form one of the best detective duos ever captured on TV. Their relationship was a huge hit with fans, who gave the show and characters a cult-like following. 

Simply put, there was no show without both characters. So when Anderson got pregnant during one season, the creative team behind the series could hardly write her off the show for too long. They needed to get creative with how they addressed the problem. 

How ‘The X-Files’ hid Gillian Anderson’s pregnancy with a dark plotline 

According to Buzzfeed, Scully first went to Duchovny to tell him of her impending pregnancy due to the actors’ close relationship with each other. She was scared to share the information with the show’s producers. This was an understandable fear; Anderson was likely concerned with how it may impact her character’s presence on the show. 

What the writers did next was rather clever. They wrote an abduction into the show to give her an excuse to miss a few episodes during season two. She then returned and claimed to have been abducted by aliens, according to The List. When showing her abduction and the tests the aliens ran on her, they even used footage of her actual belly, which Anderson cited when asked for her favorite scene to shoot: 

“Shooting the scene where Scully’s stomach is pumped with air in an abduction sequence and trying not to reveal that it was actually a pregnant belly being shot. I’ll have to show that scene to [daughter] Piper one of these years.”

The show did a good job weaving real life into an interesting storyline, and Anderson was able to continue in her role without an issue.