The X-Files Episode That Proves It’s In Same Universe As Law & Order

By Michileen Martin | Updated

the x-files law & order

The X-Files and Law & Order part of the same narrative? It may seem ridiculous, but an episode of the hit sci-fi series proves it’s true. It’s all thanks to one Law & Order veteran appearing in the Season 5 X-Files episode “Unusual Suspects.”

An X-Files Prequel Episode

“Unusual Suspects” is a kind of origin story for the Lone Gunmen of The X-Files–the trio of hackers and “guys in the chair” who help out Agents Mulder and Scully on occasion.

The episode is set in 1989, four years before the start of the series, and the story opens with a swat team barging into a warehouse. The police find the Lone Gunmen looking suspicious, along with a naked Fox Mulder in a fetal position on the floor and screaming, “They’re here!” repeatedly.

Detective John Munch

After the first commercial break, the proof that The X-Files shares a universe with Law & Order becomes clear.

We find the Lone Gunmen in a Baltimore jail cell, and soon Byers is pulled into an interrogation room with none other than Detective John Munch, played by the late Richard Belzer.

At the time, Belzer was playing the role of Munch on Homicide: Life on the Street, but six years after the airing of The X-Files‘s “Unusual Suspects,” Munch transferred to the Big Apple for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

The Munchiverse

the x-files law & order

When The X-Files brought a future Law & Order star into an episode, it linked it to a much larger universe that exists solely because of Belzer not only guest starring all over the place, but specifically guest starring as Detective John Munch.

Before his passing in 2023, Belzer appeared as Munch in The X-Files, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as well as other Law & Order shows, The Wire, 30 Rock, Arrested Development, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Beat, American Dad, Sesame Street, and M.O.N.Y.

Not to mention that Belzer appeared in other shows as a detective without being specifically credited as Munch.

An Important Episode

Along with being the episode that brought The X-Files into the same narrative as Law & Order–as well as delivering the Lone Gunmen’s origin story–“Unusual Suspects” proved to be a crucial chapter in creator Chris Carter’s larger mythos.

The episode was preceded by a three-part story that drastically changed the show’s trajectory. The three-parter convinces Mulder that aliens aren’t real and that instead there is a vast government conspiracy to make people like Mulder and the Lone Gunmen believe in UFOs in order to take attention away from more Earthbound conspiracies.

By the end of “Unusual Suspects,” Agent Fox Mulder–who at the time is part of the FBI’s violent crime division and seems completely uninterested in aliens–is exposed to experimental gas that makes him paranoid.

When the episode aired, it acted as more proof that Mulder had been manipulated into chasing UFOs (don’t worry–he got back to believing in aliens soon enough).

Richard Belzer

the x-files law & order

Last year, the actor who brought The X-Files into Law & Order’s world passed away. Richard Belzer died from complications due to respiratory disease in Bozouls, France. He was 78 years old.