An X-Files Episode Was So Terrifying, It Led To A Network Ban
The X-Files episode "Home: (S04E02) was banned from being re-aired on Fox after it was first released.
“Only on Halloween… would we dare air an episode so controversial,” read an ad for The X-Files in TV Guide in 1999, which was reprinted in the New York Times in 2015. The episode in question was titled “Home,” and was so disturbing to viewers that it was banned from re-running on the Fox network. It alternated between idyllic scenes of Americana and gruesome, upsetting subject matter like infanticide, incest, and racist violence, making it extremely difficult for fans to watch.
The entire X-Files series is filled with scary images and ideas, so is it possible that this one episode could have been so alarming that it led to the network preventing it from playing again after its debut? In a word, yes. The episode begins with a gory birthing scene that ends with three mutants burying the baby alive. When executives saw this, they called the writers, Glen Morgan and James Wong, and told them “you guys are sick!” But that was just the beginning.
The X-Files episode was Morgan and Wong’s return to the series, for which they had written numerous episodes at the beginning of its run. The episode’s title “Home” was a play on their own homecoming to the show, which they wanted to make extremely memorable… and apparently extremely disturbing.
This episode of X-Files takes place in a small town called Home in Pennsylvania, where Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) quickly associate with Mayberry from The Andy Griffith Show. To make this connection even more obvious, the town’s sheriff is named Andy Taylor, just like in that wholesome series. Sheriff Taylor must solve the mystery of the murdered newborn shown in the opening scene, something a bit darker than Mayberry’s usual fare.
This stark juxtaposition of a kind, gentle small town and its dark underbelly is what led to some of the most upsetting scenes from the show. The main antagonists in this X-Files case are the Peacocks, a family that has undergone so much inbreeding that they are now barely even human. They buried a baby they considered to be a runt under the baseball field, where blood came seeping up through the dirt like it was crude oil in The Beverly Hillbillies.
Poor Sheriff Taylor doesn’t stand a chance against these wicked mutants. They beat him to death with blunt clubs as if they were Neanderthals inside his own home as a cover of Johnny Mathis’ song “Wonderful, Wonderful” plays in the background – a scene which the X-Files writers needed to get approval on during the editing stage.
“We were starting to get a little concerned,” said Morgan, “so I brought in our broadcast standards and practices executive when we edited [that] scene.” Apparently, though, they needed to be concerned about the entire episode, because things only get worse from there.
This installment of X-Files ended with the limbless, insane matriarch of the Peacock family talking about starting a whole new Peacock family with her one living son – with whom she has already had two other children. “You can’t keep a Peacock down,” she says, “There’ll be more.”
This line seemed to imply that there would be a sequel to this awful episode one day, but that was not to be. Just as Morgan and Wong were planning another trip Home, Fox network executives told them: “Those characters never appear on television again.”
So, that was that. The episode, while brutal, was actually kind of genius in its boundary-pushing, but since it offended so many people (like, literally almost everyone), it is the one X-Files episode that was banned from television (it was only played in reruns once), and that was most likely only seen by true X-philes.