The X-Files suffers its flaws like any other series, but few other franchises have succeeded in creating as many popular and enigmatic recurring bad guys. While most of them are part of the show’s alien conspiracy mythology, The X-Files also boasts some wonderful returning villains from outside that storyline. Here, according to us, are the absolute best of them.
7. Robert Modell, aka Pusher
In Season 3’s “Pusher,” Robert Wisden (Watchmen) makes his The X-Files debut as the villain Robert Patrick Modell, whose brain tumor has somehow given him the ability to “push” people to do what he wants through the power of suggestion. Working as a professional assassin, Modell uses his ability to force his targets to commit suicide.
Pusher returns only once, in Season 5’s “Kitsunegari,” when we learn he isn’t the only member of his family with his unique power.
Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan originally conceived “Pusher” as a movie idea. When that didn’t work out, he took advantage of his tenure on The X-Files to get the story made, and succeeded in helping to create of the most charismatic and chilling recurring X-Files villains ever.
6. Eugene Victor Tooms
Best known as the sadistic prison guard Percy in 1999’s The Green Mile, Doug Hutchison plays the first “monster of the week” X-Files villain in the series’ third episode, “Squeeze.” Over a century old and possessing the disturbing ability to be able to impossibly squeeze his body into shapes that allow him to get through any crack or hole, Tooms snuffs his victims in order to eat their livers — what he needs to continue his unnaturally long life.
Proving far too popular to remain a one-off, Hutchison reprised the role towards the end of Season 1 in “Tooms.”
5. Alvin Kersh
In the Season 6 premiere, during a time when the X-Files is officially shut down, Walter Skinner is replaced by FBI Assistant Director Alvin Kersh (James Pickens Jr.) as the direct superior to Mulder and Scully.
While Skinner isn’t always as great an ally to the heroes as he could’ve been, in comparison Kersh is just a pure stone wall. Unlike most X-Files villains, Kersh isn’t a physical threat to the agents. But for his time behind the desk he is the absolute embodiment of an immovable, hostile bureaucracy.
4. Donnie Pfaster
Some may know Nick Chinlund better for his roles in films like Con Air or The Chronicles of Riddick, but if you’re a fan of The X-Files, then guaranteed the villain Donnie Pfaster will be impossible to get out of your head when you see that face.
Showing up first in the Season 2 episode “Irresistible,” Pfaster proves to be one of the creepiest and believable serial killers to ever grace the TV screen. A death fetishist and a cannibal, Pfaster kidnaps Scully twice, and she finally kills him in the Season 7 episode “Orison.”
While seeming to be a twisted, but non-supernatural killer in his first appearance, in “Orison” it’s revealed Pfaster is a literal demon.
3. The Alien Bounty Hunter
It’s rare to hear the alien bounty hunter that Brian Thompson plays say anything, and you really don’t need to. The character he plays is an utterly unstoppable killing machine. Every move he makes, and every look he gives, lets you know it.
For his time on The X-Files, this villain leaves such an unforgettable mark, it’s practically impossible to believe — as his IMDb page shows –that he only showed up nine times during the entire series.
2. Alex Krycek
Few X-Files villains begin and end their time on the series with so much mystery surrounding them. Alex Krycek (Nicholas Lea) enters the series as a replacement after Scully is abducted, but it doesn’t take long before he proves that Mulder is smart to not trust him.
Krycek’s loyalties seem to shift all the time, with the operative working both for and against the Cigarette Smoking Man, even once appearing to kill him. From his introduction in Season 2 to his death at Skinner’s hands in Season 8, we never really learn what’s behind Krycek’s motivations.
1. Cigarette Smoking Man
He’s been called the Cigarette Smoking Man, Cancer Man, and plenty of other names. Regardless, more than any other character he is the X-Files villain from the very beginning. Played by William B. Davis, the Cigarette Smoking Man is the guy waiting in every shadow and who knows about every skeleton in every closet.
Granted, he’s died and come back so many times you may as well call him Highlander, but regardless of the show’s creators overuse of some tired tropes, the Cigarette Smoking Man survived as the most formidable and intimidation of all of The X-Files‘ recurring villains.