"How the Ghosts Stole Christmas" is the sixth episode of the sixth season of the science fiction television series The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network on December 13, 1998. It was written and directed by series creator Chris Carter, and featured guest appearances by Edward Asner and Lily Tomlin. The episode is a "Monster-of-the-Week" story, unconnected to the series' wider mythology. "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas" earned a Nielsen household rating of 10.6, being watched by 17.3 million people in its initial broadcast. The episode received mostly positive reviews from critics, although some reviews criticized the episode for over-simplyfing the characters.
The show centers on FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files. Mulder is a believer in the paranormal, while the skeptical Scully has been assigned to debunk his work. In this Christmas-themed episode, Mulder and Scully stake out a reputed haunted house. The duo soon discover a pair of lovelorn spectres living inside the house who are determined to prove how lonely the holidays can be.
Carter based the episode around an idea he and fellow writer Frank Spotnitz had been working on, featuring a haunted house. Featuring the smallest cast of an X-Files episode—with only four actors—and a single set, "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas" was the cheapest sixth season episode. The drastic reduction in the budget, however, put more strain on the main actors.
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