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Life is like a box of chocolates. A cheap, thoughtless, perfunctory gift that nobody ever asks for. Unreturnable because all you get back is another box of chocolates. So you're stuck with this undefinable whipped mint crap that you mindlessly wolf down when there's nothing else left to eat. Sure, once in a while there's a peanut butter cup or an English toffee. But they're gone too fast and the taste is... fleeting. So, you end up with nothing but broken bits filled with hardened jelly and teeth-shattering nuts. And if you're desperate enough to eat those, all you got left is an empty box filled with useless brown paper wrappers.
~ The Cigarette-Smoking Man to a homeless person.

The Cigarette Smoking Man (sometimes referred to as "Cancer Man", and "The Smoking Man", often abbreviated by fans to "CSM" or "C-Man") 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.

On August 19, 1953, the CSM was a member of a group of Washington officials sent to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to recover information from a survivor of the Zeus Faber, a submarine whose captain had been infected with the black oil. 

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.


1969: The Smoking Man observes the faking of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing.

In July 1969, CSM observed the faking of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. He later watched the screening with his wife Cassandra and their son Jeffrey, who were amazed at the landing, unaware of it being a fake.

On October 13, 1973, the CSM was among the State Department officials present at the first meeting with the alien colonists. The State Department members voted and decided to form the "Syndicate" and initiated attempts to create a vaccine to stop the planned alien colonization. They informed the colonists of their plan to prepare for the colonization in exchange for postponing it for a period of time, as well as providing them with an alien fetus. The colonists agreed, taking their family as collateral, including the CSM's wife,

Cigarette Smoking Man in the Pentagon

1992: The Smoking Man in the Pentagon.

In March 1992, the CSM was present at the meeting with FBI Section Chief Scott Blevins which assigned Special Agent Dana Scully to debunk the X-files. After Agents Mulder and Scully investigated their first X-file in Oregon, the CSM was present with Blevins at Billy Miles' hypnosis sessions with Doctor Heitz Werber. Afterward, he placed evidence from abductee Ray Soames into a secret file in the Pentagon, where many other boxes containing evidence could also be found.

In 1994, the CIA Agent attempted to interrogate John Barnett. However, Barnett died before any information was given.

In 1994, the CIA Agent attempted to interrogate John Barnett. However, Barnett died before any information was given.

In May of that year, the CSM placed an alien fetus in the secret Pentagon files. 

In July, the CSM worked with AD Skinner in trying to ascertain the whereabouts of Special Agent Mulder, who had gone missing. After Mulder was discovered and reported back to Skinner's office, the CSM attempted to goad Skinner into placing Mulder on censure, transfer, suspension, and probation, a "four bagger", but when Skinner discovered that Mulder's phone had been wiretapped, he forced the CSM to leave his office.

Soon afterward, the CSM sent Agent Alex Krycek to work against and spy on Mulder.

The CSM was present at a meeting, following Agent Scully's disappearance and possible abduction, which tried to ascertain Duane Barry's whereabouts. He closely observed Agents Krycek and Mulder. Later that day, Krycek contacted the CSM in order to tell him that Mulder had discovered that Barry was going to Skyland Mountain. After the events of Skyland Mountain, the CSM ordered Krycek to verify Mulder's version of events. When asked by Krycek why they did not simply eliminate Mulder, the CSM claimed it was policy not to eliminate him, or else Mulder's quest would become a crusade. That morning, the CSM observed the meeting with Skinner, Krycek, Mulder and other FBI agents which investigated the death of Duane Barry.

After Scully's return in November 1994, the CSM visited Skinner's office. He angrily showed Skinner a report and attempted to ask him to put a stop to Agent Mulder's activities.

March 1995, the CSM was present in Skinner's office when Agent Mulder reported to Skinner about a case that he and Scully were assigned to, involving a contagion. The CSM asked Mulder questions about the case implying the Syndicate was involved.

In April 1995, the CSM led a group of Garnet operatives in hunting down Kenneth Soona after he broke into secret MJdocuments. When he was unable to discover the MJ documents, the CSM informed the Syndicate that he had them and afterward discovered that Agent Mulder was in possession of the document.

After discovering that Mulder was at the Two Grey Hills Navajo reservation, the CSM and the Garnet operatives searched throughout the small town for Mulder and the MJ document, but was unable to find him. Soon afterward, the CSM reported to the Syndicate that Mulder had been killed and that the document had been fully retrieved.

The CSM's next report to the Syndicate didn't go quite as well, as the members were beginning to distrust whether he was in possession of the MJ files and whether Mulder was dead. Skinner later made a deal with the CSM in which Mulder and Scully were reinstated to the FBI and Albert Hosteen, who had told twenty other Navajos of the exact contents of the file, would not inform the public of the contents. The CSM was forced to make the deal.

In October 1995, the CSM was able to gain Dr. Shiro Zama's records after his death. This helped further the cause of the Syndicate's alien/human hybrid tests.

In November 1995, while salvaging a UFO, the CSM once again came into contact with people infected with the black oil. When he reported to the Syndicate, they were angered by his operations involving Skinner which put their secrecy at risk. The CSM had placed the salvage UFO and his black oil- infested former operative, Alex Krycek, into a secret missile silo, Silo 1013.

In March 1996, the CSM was present after AD Skinner was charged with attempting to murder his own wife. He was apparently attempting to discredit Skinner in order to remove the assistant director's support of the X-files.

In April 1996, the CSM was behind a scenario involving subliminal messages sent over cable wires. This was discovered by Agents Mulder and Scully.

In the summer of 1996, the CSM led a task force to capture Jeremiah Smith. Once Smith was captured, he was held in a cell and interrogated by the CSM for several days.

In November 1996, the CSM contacted AD Skinner after discovering that Mulder and Scully were in possession of a diplomatic pouch. He was sent by the Syndicate to retrieve the pouch, which had highly classified secrets within it. He reported afterward to the Well-Manicured Man that Mulder had been spotted on a plane in Russia.

Soon afterward, the CSM was ordered by the Well-Manicured Man to discover who assassinated his physician. The CSM discovered the assassin, and his tie to the Russians, who had been attempting to inoculate their comrades from the black oil. Later, he was able to call off a congressional hearing started by Agents Mulder and Scully.

In April 1997, the CSM ordered his top assassin to murder Detective Ray Thomas. He reported to the Syndicate the progress with escaped smallpox-carrier bees, which he had exterminated, and the fact that he had a man in place to insure that that wouldn't happen again. In October 1997, the CSM investigated Fox Mulder's apparent death. Despite the fact that the Syndicate believed Mulder to be dead, the CSM had his doubts. He was infuriated when he thought the Syndicate had sent someone else to keep Mulder in check. He later discovered that Mulder was in fact alive, and allowed him to retrieve the cure for Scully's cancer.

Shortly afterwards, the CSM reported to the Syndicate about Mulder still being alive. He claimed that he had allowed Mulder to escape with Scully's cure in order to insure Mulder's loyalty. Perhaps in response to this breach of security, the First Elder sent an assassin who shot the CSM in his apartment.

After the shooting, the CSM left the United States and retired to a cabin in North Hatley, Quebec, Canada.

In May 1998, the Syndicate brought the CSM out of retirement to deal with the Gibson Praise situation. After handing Praise over to the Syndicate, the CSM burned down the X-files office in the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building.

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 incinerated by a missile, 2002.

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.


The Smoking Man resurfaces fourteen years after his presumed death.

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.
  • Season 8 is the only season that William B. Davis (Cigarette Smoking Man) did not appear in.
  • The nickname Cancer-Man was first coined on ATXF, one of the first usages of the term was on November 12th 1994 by user Jeffrey P. Wendt. The name even found its way as a canonical name for the character on the show.