The X-Files

Season 4 Episode 12

Leonard Betts

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Jan 26, 1997 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
288 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

After the body of a decapitated EMT disappears from the morgue and an identical man starts work at the same hospital, Mulder believes that the man has the ability to regrow parts of his body, including his head. The agents soon discover that Betts' body is riddled with cancer and he is able to live in that condition but needs to feed on cancerous tumors to keep up his strength.moreless

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  • I woke up one morning, got myself a head

    A gross and slimy case that I thought for sure would turn Scully around to accepting an idea beyond scientific explanation. Come on dude a cut off head opened its eyes and mouth at you and your still dubious. Well thats who she is I guess but at least now she's learned some moves. When Leonard attacked her in the van it was a relief to see her fight back, she really is a strong character though my jokes aside.

    Dope ass effects are the big highlights here with this case that's full of horror. Supposedly dead bodies escaping, gathering body parts, love it.moreless
  • Leonard Betts

    Leonard Betts was a superb and awesome episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching as Mulder and Scully investigated a seemingly miraculous man who had a special gift. The price of his gift was pretty steep. This was a fun story with some great character moments. The make up and costume artists did a great job with some of the more grotesque scenes. I liked how every thing played out. I look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!moreless
  • The Real Cancer Man

    This episode should not have worked, the premise is almost laughably bad, but somehow it pulls you in and before you know it, another 45 minutes has gone by and you can't wait for the next episode.

    The writing might be the biggest reason that this episode is a success. It is tight and seamless and the action unfolds almost effortlessly with a good mix of humor. Speaking of which, Mulder's reaction when Scully asked him to dig into the medical waste dumpster was classic! It set up perfectly his quip a few moments later about finding the toy prize when he grabs Leonard's head. Too funny :).

    The special effects are very, very good and I liked how the gore that one would expect given the circumstances was muted so as to still be effective without being offensive. You really believe that Scully is about to slice into Leonard's head when it blinks (or was it winked?) and you feel her creeped out agitation as she describes the event to Mulder over the telephone. A classic moment in the series.

    But it's the ending of this episode that makes this one of the pivotal episodes of the series as Leonard tells Scully she has something he needs. The look of utter desolation on Scully's face is priceless, and haunting given the events that will play out in future episodes.moreless
  • Great episode

    I haven't been the biggest fan of Season 4, but I must say, the last four or five episodes have been way more entertaining than the start of the season. This episode seems to be the pinnacle of the season, occurring right at the middle and combining everything (minus the conspiracies) that the show does best.

    The basic idea is that a man is killed in a car accident, losing his head (literally) at the same time. However, later that day, he gets up, headless, and walks out of the morgue. Mulder and Scully begin investigating and from here, we get our usual X-Files format: Scully believes it's body snatchers for profit and Mulder believes its full body regeneration. He compares this man, Leonard Betts, to a salamander or a worm who can regenerate body parts.

    The episode itself may seem a bit boilerplate, but it had plenty of humor, more than its fair share of eerie moments and an ending that hints at sinister things to come. Also, did Mulder invent the whole "will the real Slim Shady please stand up line" two or three years before it even came out? When he asked the real cancer man to please stand up, I burst out laughing since this is happening three years before Eminem came onto the radio.

    Definitely a great episode of X-Files and proof that stand-alone plots can be better than the alien/conspiracy stuff sometimes.moreless
  • A very cool episode :)

    A very cool episode. Scully always the sceptical and Mulder always the believer.

    I thought it was so cool when Betts would regenerate or lose a part of his body. When he “regrew” his head, I thought that was pretty neat lol Or when Mulder said to Scully that the tumours where snacks, I was so disgusted! Lol Or when Mulder and Scully had “Albert Tanner” and Leonard Betts by them, and Mulder said “will the real Leonard Betts please stand up”… I laughed my head off lol

    I was so not expecting Leonard Betts to say “You have what I need” to Scully. I don’t believe she has cancer. What’s going to happen to Scully, if she really does have cancer? If and when Scully discovers she has cancer, how is Mulder going to react when he finds out? …

Paul McCrane

Paul McCrane

Leonard Betts

Guest Star

Jennifer Clement

Jennifer Clement

Michelle Wilkes

Guest Star

Marjorie Lovett

Marjorie Lovett

Elaine Tanner

Guest Star

Bill Dow

Bill Dow

Dr Charles Burks

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • Episode opens in Pittsburgh, PA

    • If Leonard is able to regenerate entire parts of his body, whole fibres, and bone structures from scratch, why then, didn't he regenerate his hair?

    • When Scully shocks Betts with the defibrillator Betts is still on top of her this means she would have gotten shocked too. That's why medical staff yell "Clear!" before they shock a person.

    • When Scully finds out about Betts' mother she says that "she lives right here in Pittsburgh". Nothing wrong there except that at the time they has just left Chuck Burks' lab - which is in Maryland.

    • In the teaser Michelle seems genuinely surprised about Betts' diagnosis of the patient but in her talk with Mulder later, she makes it sound like it happened all the time.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Mulder: Chuck, would you believe that this man's head had been decapitated.
      Dr. Burks: Oh come on. No way!
      Mulder: Way! (to Scully) Are we happy with the results?

    • Mulder: Wouldn't it make sense that evolution or natural selection would incorporate cancer – the greatest health threat to our species as part of our genetic makeup?
      Scully: Why do I think that Charles Darwin is rolling in his grave right now.

    • Mulder: What did your examination uncover?
      Scully: Well, I... I haven't exactly performed an examination yet.
      Mulder: Why not?
      Scully: Well. Because I, uh … I experienced an unusual degree of postmortem galvanic response.
      Mulder: The head moved.
      Scully: It blinked at me. I mean, I... I know exactly what it is. It's residual electrical activity stored chemically in... in the dead cells.
      Mulder: Blinked or winked?

    • Scully: What are we doing here?
      Mulder: Did I mention that Mr. Betts had no head?
      Scully: Yes, so? I mean, you're not suggesting that a headless body kicked his way out of a locked morgue freezer, are you?

    • Mulder: (Looking in morgue freezer) Pretty cozy. Who'd ever want to leave?
      Scully: Well, whoever happened to get locked in here last night, I guess.
      Mulder: That would be a Mr. Leonard Morris Betts, age 34. But it should probably be noted that when Mr. Betts arrived here last night he was sans head.

  • NOTES (6)

    • The dark liquid Betts submerges himself in while regenerating his head is identified by Mulder as providone iodine, which, he tells Scully, is used by researchers to promote limb regrowth in amphibians. It is widely sold and used in hospitals as a topical disinfectant under the brand name Betadine.

      Although considered harmless to human skin, it was cited in a 1975 article in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences as being capable of altering DNA in living cells and having mutagenic effects which could lead to cancer, which makes it ideal for Betts' purposes.

    • This episode had the highest rating in the show's nine-year run.

    • This episode aired after SUPER BOWL XXXI.

    • The name 'John Gillnitz' appears here again, as the name of the man in the bar. It is a combination of the names of the writers John Shiban, Vince Gilligan & Frank Spotnitz.

    • Betts is assigned to ambulance #208, and Scully wakes at 2:08am with a nosebleed; both possibly a reference to episode 2:08 'One Breath', where Scully is returned after her abduction.

    • The first indication of Scully's cancer arises in this episode when Betts says to her "I'm sorry, but you've got something I need".


    • Famous Catchphrase: "Will the real Leonard Betts please stand up?"

      This is a line from a game show called To Tell The Truth, in which a biographical sketch was given for a contestant, who was presented along with two impostors. The trio was questioned by a panel of celebrities, who then tried to pick the real person. The denouement came when the host (Garry Moore in the original run of the show) said, "Will the real John or Jane Doe please stand up?" The first version ran from 1956 to 1968, and it was revived for runs from 1969 to 1978 (again hosted by Moore), 1980-1981 (hosted by Robin Ward), 1990-1991 (hosted by Alex Trebeck) and in 2000-2002 (hosted by John O'Hurley ).