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Life, is like a box of chocolates. Cheap, faultless, little gifts, nobody never ask for. Unreturnable because all you get back is another box of chocolates. So you're stuck in this. Undefinable whipped mid crap that you mindlessly wolf out until there's nothing left to eat. Sure, once in a while, there's a peanut buttercup or an English toffee. But they're gone too fast and the taste is fleeting. So you end up with nothing but broken bits fill with teeth shattering nuts. If you're desperate enough to eat those all you got left is an empty box filled with useless brown paper wrappers.
~ Smoking Man to a homeless woman in the episode "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man"

The Cigarette Smoking Man (sometimes referred to as "Cancer Man", and "The Smoking Man", often abbreviated by fans to "CSM") is an alias for the primary villain in the popular TV series The X-Files. He has also appeared in the first X-Files movie and is deeply embedded in X-Files mythos as a leading figure in the global conspiracy to cover up the existence of paranormal activities - especially those related to aliens. Originally conceived as a mere extra for the pilot episode, CSM's character quickly evolved to the series main antagonist and the archenemy of protagonist Fox Mulder.

He is portrayed by William B. Davis.


Much of the Cigarette-Smoking Man's history is unknown, due to presumed efforts by both himself and the conspiracy to conceal the truth. One theory discovered by the Lone Gunmen, allies to Mulder and Scully, suggests that he is an orphan of a Communist spy executed by the US government. Losing his mother to lung cancer, he became a ward of the state, eventually enlisting in the US Army, and becoming a specialist in black operations during the early years of the Cold War. Purportedly, he aided in the assassination of Joseph Kasa-Vubu, Rafael Trujillo, and was part of Operation Zapata; the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Purportedly, the theory suggests that he is responsible for the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and is responsible for both the winners of the Oscars, the Miracle on Ice, and the Buffalo Bills failure to ever win a Superbowl. It is important to remember that, despite these events being somewhat plausible for their context, nothing is ever truly confirmed about the Cancer Man's past.

What was known is that, during the initial years of the conspiracy, the Cigarette-Smoking Man and Teena Mulder had an affair, unknown to Fox Mulder's father, Bill. This has led to intense speculation on whether or not Bill Mulder was truly Fox's father.

The Cigarette-Smoking Man is a cornerstone of the plan to allow the aliens that once inhabited Earth to return as the new masters of mankind. Leader of the men in black, shadowy government operatives with little morality, the role of the Cigarette-Smoking Man appeared to be that of a taskmaster and troubleshooter. Though sometimes seen as under the heel of his fellow perpetrators, he is also shown to know exactly how to take them down, or at least hold a sword over their heads should they threaten his own plans. This proved to be his undoing, and he was nearly assassinated by the same syndicate he helped create.

Smoking man burned

The Smoking Man burned by launched missiles.

At the end of his life, the Cigarette-Smoking Man was an utter opposite of who he was. Long-haired, forsaking American society, and living among Native Americans in an abandoned Anasazi pueblo. Warning Mulder and Scully about the final date the aliens would invade, he was soon after supposedly killed by the new conspiracy in an attack by black helicopters.

Despite his apparent death, he is shown to be alive 14 years later in 2016 when he receives news that the X Files has been reopened. At this point he was part of a plan to depopulate the human race, which began to go into motion in 2012 (the same year the colonization is supposed to take place). Agent Monica Reyes is also shown to now work for the Smoking Man, having accepted his deal years prior so she would be one of the survivors, although this was so she could gain information on his plans.

Six weeks after the reopening of the X-Files, a virus was unleashed which began breaking down the immune systems of anyone who didn't have alien DNA in them, and eventually killed them. Mulder confronted the Smoking Man to try and force him to put a stop to it, although he claimed it was too late. The Smoking Man offered Mulder to join his elite and become one of the survivors, but he refused. Mulder's immune system began breaking down and he fell seriously ill. An agent from the FBI named Miller saved Mulder from the Smoking Man, but the Smoking Man warned him it was too late and told Miller to say goodbye to Mulder for him.

Place in the Syndicate

X-Files S3 EP2 Paper Clip The Smoking Man vs Skinner

X-Files S3 EP2 Paper Clip The Smoking Man vs Skinner

The Cigarette-Smoking Man was, at first, the only face associated with the conspiracy hounding Mulder's efforts to reveal the truth. The men in black under his command were ruthless, and his actions only focused on the obstruction of the search for the truth. Later seasons, however, showed the Cigarette-Smoking Man's place as a member of lower status in the Syndicate, his actions constantly second-guessed by all involved in the conspiracy. Quite often, the other members of the Syndicate looked on the CSM as a high-ranking errand boy, and criticized his constant failures to hinder Mulder's efforts.

Later, however, the CSM revealed how dangerous he was again by revealing how much he knew about the other members of the Syndicate and their own illicit activities. His activities endangered them so badly that the Syndicate needed to cull both the CSM, and replace the men in black with the alien-human hybrids that they had been creating.

Despite their actions, CSM was still the only member of the original Syndicate that survived the purge by the alien rebels. While this might not mean much now that the Syndicate is destroyed, it does remind those who know the series that the power of the Syndicate meant nothing in the face of their alien foes, while the supposedly low-ranking Cigarette Smoking Man outlasted them all.


He usually wears a black suit with a tie and he always appears to be smoking a cigarette. He is quite a loner and often takes his own decisions to which the Syndicate group is very negative towards. He feels a kind of respect towards Mulder and rarely he will try and prevent him getting in danger, not without having his own interests to do so.

After developing cancer again he had a tracheotomy fitted into his throat.

Although the Smoking Man miraculously survived being burned by launched missiles, he needed his face reconstructed. He is shown to be able to remove parts of his face, which reveals his flesh underneath.


The Cigarette-Smoking Man is a vicious and utterly ruthless terrorist who sees murder and worse as tools to achieve his goals, for much of the series he is very much a "neutral evil" character and thus will do whatever is necessary to achieve personal victory - though even in the early days of the series he showed a dark fondness for killing, seeming to prefer murder even when other options were available, yet he always kept himself restrained enough to keep up the conspiracy and cover his tracks.

As the series progressed the CSM grew much, much worse and his plans escalated to a full-scale epidemic designed to wipe out a large portion of the human race - no longer content with simple conspiracy and murder the CSM would delve into his true homicidal nature and effectively became an apocalyptic threat intent on reshaping the world in his image.



  • The Smoking Man was originally just a non-speaking extra in the first season, who only spoke four audible words. But as the series progressed, his role within the narrative began to grow and he developed into the series' primary antagonist.
  • According to one of the director of the show, Kim Manners, he is the Darth Vader of X-Files.