Vince Gilligan And The X-Files Connections To Breaking Bad

Vince Gilligan often gives huge credit to The X-Files, but how influential was the series to Breaking Bad?

When the revival of The X-Files was announced, fans dreamed of a reunion of the show’s creative staff as much as they wanted to see fan-favorite actors return. High atop that wish list was Vince Gilligan, the Breaking Bad creator who spent six seasons writing tense, humorous, and memorable episodes for Chris Carter and The X-Files.

Gilligan wrote 30 episodes and executive produced or produced dozens of others. He co-created and executive produced the X-Files spinoff The Lone Gunmen. When the truth was no longer out there, Gilligan moved on in a big way. The critical and commercial success of Breaking Bad and its spinoff Better Call Saul have put Gilligan in an elite level among television auteurs. The man is no small potatoes and thus he has precious little time to revisit the past. Well, outside of hanging with Jimmy McGill.

In an exclusive interview with Den of Geek, coincidentally the day after The X-Files season 11 was announced, Gilligan told us it’s unlikely he’ll return to work on The X-Files, even if he’d love to write Mulder and Scully one more time.

Still, he’s eternally grateful for the experience he had on The X-Files, and the influence that show had on his future projects was profound. With this in mind, we revisit the connections between Breaking Bad and The X-Files and the several key actors who basically had their Breaking Bad audition tape shot on Fox’s dime in The X-Files. We won’t spoil who until you watch the video, or read on below.

Before Gilligan cast Bryan Cranston as Walter White, he put him in the fast lane with Fox Mulder in an episode he wrote called “Drive.” Cranston played Patrick Crump, a kidnapper with a need for speed and an urge to drive west to avoid having his head explode due to the pressure of sound waves.

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Cranston’s partner in crime, Aaron Paul, also appeared in The X-Files. While it wasn’t an episode written by Gilligan, Paul starred in season nine’s “Lord of The Flies,” which investigates the death of a teen who died shooting a Jackass-lite video. The episode was written by Thomas Schnauz, who would go on to write and direct episodes of Breaking Bad.

More key recurring players from the Breaking Bad world to also enter The X-Files were Dean Norris (Hank Schrader), Raymond Cruz (Tuco), Danny Trejo (Tortuga), and Michael Bowen (Uncle Jack Welker).

A notable recurring character on The X-Files side was played by Michael Shamus Wiles, who appeared in two X-Files episodes as well as the first feature film as The Black-Haired Man. He played Hank’s boss, George Merket in Breaking Bad.

Those casting connections are just scratching the surface of X-Files easter eggs in Breaking Bad… which are your favorites?