A bright, unidentified flying object soaring off the southern California coast this weekend triggered all sorts of speculation: Was it aliens? The end of the world?

Although the military has since said the light was a boring old unannounced missile test, there’s one group of Internet citizens who want to believe it could be something more: the X-files’ passionate fan base, already on high alert for the show’s return in January.

I mean, it all makes sense, right? The X-Files more or less introduced the language of UFO conspiracy talk to the mainstream back in the ’90s, and none – except for the actual true believers – are more fluent in it than the show’s fans. So the military said that the bright object in the sky was just a secret missile test? Yeah right.

As it turns out, the X-files stars have also proven that they are fluent in X-files fandom over the past several months. Both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are on Twitter, and they’ve made an art of trying to tweet things that will make X-files fans melt into puddles of goo – and to remind them about the show’s revival next year.

The UFO was no exception:


Although both seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves, this fandom participation is also a smart marketing campaign, and one that has worked on many fans. It’s almost too smart, though, and some are brave enough to blow the lid off that all-too-convenient “UFO” sighting:


Anyway, if you know or love an X-files fan, maybe don’t ask them an open-ended question about the UFO this week unless you are interested in talking about the X-files for the rest of eternity.

Southern California social media captures a mysterious blue light in the sky, sparking fears of an alien invasion. It was actually a Navy test missile. (Staff/The Washington Post)

Disclosure: The author’s husband draws the X-files comic book for IDW.  Also, she has two X-files action figures on her desk, an “I want to believe” poster next to them, and her Slack icon is Dana Scully fan art. So, I mean, yeah. 

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