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The X-Files Episode That Was So Disturbing It Was Banned For Years

Photo Credit: Fox Broadcasting Company / Yaut / MovieStills DB
Photo Credit: Fox Broadcasting Company / Yaut / MovieStills DB

The X-Files was a highly acclaimed science fiction television series that aired from 1993 to 2002. Created by Chris Carter, the show follows the professional and personal lives of FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) as they investigate unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena, government conspiracies, and extraterrestrial encounters.

Over the course of the series’ 202 episodes, The X-Files pushed the boundaries of acceptable subjects. However, an episode titled “Home,” which premiered on October 11, 1996, was so controversial that it only ever aired once. And when it did finally return to television screens, it was the ony X-Files episode to receive a TV-MA rating.

What the episode ‘Home’ is about

“Home” is the second episode of the fourth season of The X-Files. Originally airing in 1996, the episode quickly became infamous and controversial due to its disturbing content, including incest and infanticide. This led to its eventual banning from regular syndication and limited reruns.

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in a Season 1 promo shot for The X-Files.
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny. (Photo Credit: Fox Broadcasting Company / Alissa / MovieStills DB)

The episode revolves around FBI agents Mulder and Scully, who are investigating a mysterious case in a small, secluded town called Home in Pennsylvania. The agents are called in after the body of an infant is discovered buried in the local baseball field. As they delve deeper into the investigation, they uncover a twisted family known as the Peacocks.

The Peacock family consists of three deformed brothers and their mother, who live in an isolated farmhouse. This family, characterized by their violent and depraved nature, has been committing unspeakable acts, including incestuous relationships and infanticide, for generations. The brothers possess great physical strength and are fiercely protective of their twisted way of life. Their actions are all the more horrifying due to the secrecy surrounding their existence, with the town’s authorities turning a blind eye to their crimes.

Mulder and Scully face numerous obstacles and resistance in their attempts to uncover the truth and bring the Peacock family to justice. The episode takes viewers on a suspenseful and dark journey, filled with shocking moments and disturbing visuals. The unnerving atmosphere and the gruesome nature of the Peacocks’ activities contributed to the controversy surrounding the episode.

Reactions to the episode

Glen Morgan and James Wong wrote the episode “Home.” After being away from the series for a couple of seasons, this was their first episode back writing for The X-Files. Wong told The New York Times that they had been contracted to write four episodes. He considered “Home” the most “down-the-middle, straightforward X-Files of all of them.”

Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, and Karin Konoval in a scene from "Home."
The X-Files, “Home” (1996). (Photo Credit: Fox Broadcasting Company / jeffw616 / MovieStills DB)

The reaction from the network, however, was very different than what Morgan and Wong had wished. Wong told the New York Times that after screening for network executives, “I remember getting a call from a producer. He goes, ‘You guys are sick!’ I thought, ‘What is he talking about?’ I thought we had done more extreme stuff.”

Fox was quick to remove “Home” from its rerun schedule. However, on Halloween 1999, audiences were able to watch the episode for the first time in three years. Fox ran an ad, adding to the legend of the episode: “Only on Halloween would we dare air an episode so controversial it’s been banned from television for three years. Consider yourself warned.”

In 1996, when “Home” first aired, television ratings didn’t exist, however, they did in 1999. The return of the episode saw it receive a TV-MA rating, signifying that the episode was for mature audiences only. This was the first and only time an X-Files episode was given that rating.

Legacy of ‘Home’

The episode has seemed to take on a life of its own. Morgan commented, “Jim and I are both surprised at the reaction. I don’t know if anyone would remember it if it wasn’t kind of banned. It took on this kind of legend.” Certainly, once the network banned the episode, as well as only re-releasing it on Halloween in 1999, it received a greater following than if it was just another X-Files episode.

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny release a bunch of pigs in the 1996 episode "Home."
The X-Files, “Home” (1996). (Photo Credit: Fox Broadcasting Corporation / jeffw616 / MovieStills DB)

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The legacy of “Home” is also more hard-hitting. Unlike other X-Files episodes, there are no aliens or creatures behind the horrific acts that the two FBI agents must stop. They are human, and they represent the darkest and most deranged aspects of what humans are capable of. Perhaps the scariest part of all isn’t what the show depicts, but who.

Ryan McLachlan

Ryan McLachlan is a historian and content writer for Hive Media. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History and Classical Studies and his Master of Arts in History from the University of Western Ontario. Ryan’s research focused on military history, and he is particularly interested in the conflicts fought by the United Kingdom from the Napoleonic Wars to the Falklands War.

Ryan’s other historical interests include naval and maritime history, the history of aviation, the British Empire, and the British Monarchy. He is also interested in the lives of Sir Winston Churchill and Admiral Lord Nelson. Ryan enjoys teaching, reading, writing, and sharing history with anyone who will listen.

In his spare time, he enjoys watching period dramas such as Murdoch Mysteries and Ripper Street and also enjoys reading classical literature and Shakespeare. He also plays football and is an afternoon tea connoisseur.