The X-Files

Season 6 Episode 6

How The Ghosts Stole Christmas

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Dec 13, 1998 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
340 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Mulder talks Scully into investigating a haunted house on Christmas Eve where several couples have met their fate on that very night. While there they encounter endless tricks and traps set by a ghostly couple who originally made a lovers suicide pact in the house. The ghosts try to convince Mulder and Scully to kill each other.moreless

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  • How The Ghosts Stole Christmas

    How The Ghosts Stole Christmas was a great episode of The X-Files and definitely fun for the time of year it took place. The episode had a great story though it wasn't one of my favorites of the series it was still well worth watching. I liked how it was unclear exactly what was happening as people started appearing in the house along with Mulder and Scully. I liked how every thing worked out and look forward to watching more episodes!!!!!moreless
  • Mulder and Scully look into a haunted house.

    For a show that has run the gamut in terms of supernatural/sci-fi storylines, it amazes me that Chris Carter and co. continue to figure out new and unique ways to tell cliche stories. Here, we get a straightforward ghost story, something that's been done to death, been revived and then done to death again. But count on this show to give it a completely new twist. For a stand-alone episode, we get a pretty entertaining, mind-twisting and slightly funny episode.

    It's Christmas Eve, and Mulder calls Scully to have her come over to investigate a possible haunted house. Scully wants nothing to do with it and simply wants to wrap gifts, but Mulder insists, going as far as to steal her keys so she's forced to go inside. Once inside, however, the episode transforms quickly from typical ghost story to unique look into the two main characters that only Chris Carter could do.

    The mystery of the episode comes from the two ghosts from the name of the episode, played wonderfully by Lily Tomlin and Edward Asner. They play a pair of star-crossed lovers who died in the house years and years ago and spend their free time screwing around with and killing couples who enter the house. Mulder and Scully enter the house and quickly find themselves going crazy, finding that a door to one room simply leads them back to the room they were just leaving. The ghosts are able to distort reality in ways the Joker guy in Supernatural was able to do (Gabriel was his name, I believe).

    As a result, we get a pretty good holiday episode of The X-Files, with about ten moments where I was sure that Mulder or Scully had shot each other. Turns out these were just tricks that the two ghosts were playing on each other. The episode won me over with its cleverness, its new touch on an old as heck story and, of course, the power of the two lead actors.moreless
  • Have yourself a merry little Christmas

    What I love the most in The X-Files is how many different types of stories it combines. Between elaborate conspiracies and creepy monsters there's always room for these special episodes, which in fact serve as a character exploration. How the Ghosts Stole Christmas is a perfect example of this.

    The story is simple but beautifully told. Mulder convinces Scully to investigate a haunted house on Christmas Eve where a couple (portrayed by Edward Asner and Lily Tomlin) made a lovers suicide pact years ago. Although Scully is reluctant at first she ends up following Mulder in the house. What follows is a series of tricky mind games between the ghosts and our heroes that brings out some insights of their characters and their relationship.

    HTGSC is a funny, romantic and occasionally scary episode. Chris Carter uses stereotypes and clichés from classic horror films to create the perfect setting for his tale. The gothic manor, the brick wall, the lover's pact… all symbolize the loneliness Mulder and Scully feel, their inability to explore their feelings and how they both secretly want to spent this very night with each other.

    The end is very sweet with Mulder and Scully exchanging gifts.moreless
  • You have to love this episode, you can't help it!

    This is, indeed, a very silly episode. It's a fun set up, after all we've never really had a haunted house like this before. (Though using all the genre cliches does make the "atmospheric" settings of "Terms of Endearment" considerably less effective later.)

    This is an episode for shippers. We all know what we want to happen, a lovely Christmas kiss. Even non-shippers must acknowledge that they deserve a small platonic hug, at least. There does seem to be a problem with the pacing, since the ghosts driving them mad seems to happen far too quickly. It doesn't really work as it doesn't seem entirely believable that they would just accept that their partner has shot them so readily. Equally Mulder is far too quick to realise he has not really been shot. Scully's lines about ghosts being rediculous is meant to convey her trying to convince herself, but it does come across as overly long, especially as she seems to be panicing far too quickly. Overall a great idea not too well executed.moreless
  • Decent episode, but nothing to rave about.

    Overall not a bad episode but not great either. Asner and Tomlin did an ok job as the ghosts. One thing that has always bothered me about this episode is when Mulder and Scully are crawling toward the door near the end of the episode (after each having been shot), Mulder shouts "You shot me first!" This would seem to indicate that he returned the favor and shot her, but in fact the ghosts were the only ones that did any shooting. Scully was shot by a ghost disguised as Mulder. Mulder was then shot by a ghost disguised as an "already shot" Scully.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Mulder maintains that during Christmas, 1917 "American soldiers were dying at an ungodly rate in a war-torn Europe." This is historically inaccurate as the United States declared war in April 1917 but the country's military was so unprepared that the first US troops did not arrive in France until May 1918, and did not see action until June.

  • QUOTES (12)

    • Mulder: (To Scully) Look, I know we promised not to exchange gifts, but I got you something. (He hands her a gift box)
      Scully: Well... I may have gotten you a little something too. (She shows him a gift box, they hurry over to the couch and unwrap their gifts.)

    • Maurice: You've probably convinced yourself you've seen aliens. You know why you think you see the things you do?
      Mulder: Because I have seen them?
      Maurice: 'Cause you're a lonely man. A lonely man chasing paramasturbatory illusions that you believe will give your life meaning and significance and which your pathetic social maladjustment makes impossible for you to find elsewhere. You probably consider yourself passionate, serious, misunderstood. Am I right?
      Mulder: Paramasturbatory?

    • Maurice: I locked it. For your protection.
      Scully: Stay away from me. Look, I want you to get me out of here. I am quite capable of pulling this trigger.
      Maurice: I'm glad to hear it. You may well have to defend yourself against that crazy partner of yours.

    • Maurice: Hey!
      Mulder: Who are you?
      Maurice: That's a question I should be asking being this is my house you're standing in. This isn't one of those home invasions, is it?
      Mulder: No.
      Maurice: Good. Would you like me to show you the door?
      Mulder: That's very funny.
      Maurice: I wasn't making a joke.
      Mulder: Have you looked at the door?
      Maurice: Uh-huh, I'm looking at it now.
      Mulder: Tell me what you see.
      Maurice: I see a door with the lock shot off it. You going to pay for that?
      Mulder: That's a door with a brick wall behind it.
      Maurice: Okay, sure.

    • Mulder: I almost gave up on you.
      Scully: Sorry. Checkout lines were worse than rush hour on the 95. If I heard "Silent Night" one more time I was going to start taking hostages. What are we doing here?
      Mulder: Stakeout.
      Scully: On Christmas Eve?
      Mulder: It's an important date.
      Scully: No kidding.

    • (Mulder and Scully have just found corpses)
      Scully: You know what's weird?
      Mulder: What?
      Scully: Mulder, she's wearing my outfit.
      Mulder: How embarrassing.

    • Lida: I don't show my hole to just anyone.
      Mulder: Then why are you showing it to me?

    • Scully: Well, why else would you want me out there with you?
      Mulder: You didn't want to be there? Well, that's self-righteous and narcissistic of me to say, isn't it?
      Scully: No, I mean... maybe I did want to be out there with you.

    • Scully: Not that my only joy in life is proving you wrong.
      Mulder: When have you proved me wrong?

    • Scully: Mulder...
      Mulder: Shh! What was that?
      Scully: These are tricks that the mind plays. They are ingrained clichés from a thousand different horror films. When we hear a sound, we get a chill. We-we see a shadow and we allow ourselves to imagine something that an otherwise rational person would discount out of hand. The whole... Mulder...? (follows him up to the second floor) The whole idea of a benevolent entity fits perfectly with what I'm saying. That a spirit would materialize or return for no other purpose than to show itself is silly and ridiculous. I mean, what it really shows is how silly and ridiculous we have become in believing such things. I mean, that... That we can ignore all natural laws about the corporeal body that-that we witness these spirits clad in-in their own shabby outfits with the same old haircuts and hairstyles never aging, never... Never in search of more comfortable surroundings-- it actually ends up saying more about the living than it does about the dead. I mean, Mulder, it doesn't take an advanced degree in psychology to understand the... the unconscious yearnings that these imaginings satisfy. You know, the-the longing for immortality the hope that there is something beyond this mortal coil- that-that we might never be long without our loved ones. I mean, these are powerful, powerful desires. I mean, they're the very essence of what make us human. The very essence of Christmas, actually.
      (They both turn as a door creaks as it opens slightly by itself)
      Mulder: Tell me you're not afraid.
      Scully: All right. I'm afraid... but it's an irrational fear.

    • Scully: I see. The dark, gothic manor the, uh, omnipresent low fog hugging the thicket of overgrowth. Wait... is that a hound I hear baying out on the moors?
      Mulder: No. Actually that was a left cheek sneak.

    • Mulder: (mysteriously) Christmas, 1917. It was a time of dark, dark despair. American soldiers were dying at an ungodly rate in a war-torn Europe while at home, a deadly strain of the flu virus attacked young and old alike. Tragedy was a visitor on every doorstep while a creeping hopelessness set in with every man, woman and child. It was a time of dark, dark despair.
      Scully: You said that.
      Mulder: But here at 1501 Larkspur Lane for a pair of star-crossed lovers tragedy came not from war or pestilence, not by the boot heel or the bombardier, but by their own innocent hand.
      Scully: Go on.
      Mulder: His name was Maurice. He was a, a brooding but heroic young man beloved of Lida, a sublime beauty with a light that seemed to follow her wherever she went. They were likened to two angels descended from heaven whom the gods could not protect from the horrors being visited upon this cold, grey earth.
      Scully: And what happened to them?
      Mulder: Driven by a tragic fear of separation they forged a lovers' pact so that they might spend eternity together and not spend one precious Christmas apart.
      Scully: They killed themselves?
      Mulder: And their ghosts haunt this house every Christmas Eve. (Scully laughs.)
      Mulder: I just gave myself chills.

  • NOTES (3)


    • Heartbeat under the floor-boards, this is a visual scene of the tale by Edgar Allen Poe called The Tell-Tale Heart.

    • Scully: Do you hear any hound barking in the swamp?

      This is an allusion to "The Hound of the Baskervilles", the story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes.