The Lone Gunmen (TV series)

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The Lone Gunmen
The Lone Gunmen logo.jpg
Created by
Based onCharacters created by Glen Morgan and James Wong
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes13 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Chris Carter
  • Vince Gilligan
  • John Shiban
  • Frank Spotnitz
Running time43 minutes
Production companies
Original networkFox
Original releaseMarch 4 (2001-03-04) –
June 1, 2001 (2001-06-01)

The Lone Gunmen is an American conspiracy fiction thriller drama television series created by Chris Carter, Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, and Frank Spotnitz. The program originally aired from March 4, 2001 (2001-03-04), to June 1, 2001 (2001-06-01), on Fox. It is a spin-off of Carter's science fiction television series The X-Files and as such is part of The X-Files franchise, starring several of the show's characters. Despite positive reviews, its ratings dropped,[4] and the show was canceled after thirteen episodes. The last episode ended on a cliffhanger which was partially resolved in a ninth season episode of The X-Files entitled "Jump the Shark".

The series revolves around the titular trio The Lone Gunmen: Melvin Frohike, John Fitzgerald Byers, and Richard Langly, private investigators who run a conspiracy theory magazine. They had often helped FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder on The X-Files.

Series overview[edit]

Whereas The X-Files deals mainly with paranormal events and conspiracies to cover up extraterrestrial contact, The Lone Gunmen draws on secret activity of other kinds, such as government-sponsored terrorism, the development of a surveillance society, corporate crime, and escaped Nazis. The show has a light mood and elements of slapstick comedy. The trio are alternately aided and hindered by a mysterious thief named Yves Adele Harlow.

Similarities to 9/11 attacks in pilot storyline[edit]

In the pilot episode, which aired March 4, 2001 (exactly six months and one week prior to the September 11 attacks[5]), rogue members of the U.S. government remotely hijack an airliner departing Boston, planning to crash it into the World Trade Center, and let anti-American terrorist groups take credit, to gain support for a profitable new war following the Cold War. The heroes ultimately override the controls, foiling the plot.


  • John Fitzgerald Byers: Portrayed by Bruce Harwood. Byers was born in Sterling, Virginia on November 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and was named after the fallen president – his parents were originally planning to name him Bertram after his father. Byers idolized his namesake, but he always had suspicions about the real cause of his death.[6] Byers worked as a public affairs officer for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Baltimore until May 1989. Byers appears to have some working knowledge of medicine, genetics, and chemistry.[7]
  • Melvin Frohike: Portrayed by Tom Braidwood. Frohike was born circa 1945 in Pontiac, Michigan. Prior to joining the Lone Gunmen, he was an acclaimed tango dancer in Miami. On giving up the tango, he toured the country with hippies before founding Frohike Electronics Corp., specializing in cable intrusion hardware.[8]
  • Richard "Ringo" Langly: Portrayed by Dean Haglund. Langly was born 1965 in Saltville, Nebraska. He showed an aptitude for computers from an early age, which was frowned upon by his parents.[9] Langly is The Lone Gunmen's expert in computers, hacking and programming. He is possibly the most paranoid of the Gunmen, taping all incoming phone calls, including those from Fox Mulder.
  • Yves Adele Harlow: Portrayed by Zuleikha Robinson. Harlow is a femme fatale thief who sometimes works with the Lone Gunmen trio (although sometimes she is their rival). The alias Yves Adele Harlow is an anagram for Lee Harvey Oswald. It was later revealed in The X-Files episode "Jump the Shark" that Yves' real name is Lois Runtz.
  • Jimmy Bond: Portrayed by Stephen Snedden. Though Bond shares the bravery and physicality of his namesake, he initially appears to be rich but not very bright, and is fascinated with the Lone Gunmen, who often consider him a nuisance but appreciate his financial backing to support The Lone Gunman magazine. His saving grace is his boundless optimism, coupled with an idealistic view that the jaded Gunmen wish they still held.


The series was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and in New York City, New York, United States.[citation needed]


Season 1 (2001)[edit]

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
U.S. viewers
1"Pilot"Rob BowmanChris Carter & Vince Gilligan & John Shiban & Frank SpotnitzMarch 4, 2001 (2001-03-04)1AEB7913.23[10]
While the Lone Gunmen are thwarted in their attempt to steal a computer chip by Yves Adele Harlow, Byers receives news of his father's death, and the trio soon find themselves unraveling a government conspiracy concerning an attempt to fly a commercial aircraft into the World Trade Center, with increased arms sales for the United States as an intended result.
2"Bond, Jimmy Bond"Bryan SpicerVince Gilligan & John Shiban & Frank SpotnitzMarch 11, 2001 (2001-03-11)1AEB019.00[11]
While searching for the killer of an infamous hacker, the three Lone Gunmen find a fourth member when they stumble upon a practice of a football team for the blind.
3"Eine Kleine Frohike"David JacksonJohn ShibanMarch 16, 2001 (2001-03-16)1AEB025.38[12]
With help from Yves, Frohike attempts to convince a woman suspected of being a Nazi war criminal that he is her long-lost son—and survive to talk about it.
4"Like Water for Octane"Richard ComptonCollin FriesenMarch 18, 2001 (2001-03-18)1AEB038.90[12]
While searching for a water-powered car, the Gunmen encounter missile silos, rude government clerks, and cows.
5"Three Men and a Smoking Diaper"Bryan SpicerChris CarterMarch 23, 2001 (2001-03-23)1AEB044.87[13]
The Lone Gunmen turn into babysitters while working to expose the truth behind a murder linked to a Senator seeking reelection.
6"Madam, I'm Adam"Bryan SpicerThomas SchnauzMarch 30, 2001 (2001-03-30)1AEB066.13[14]
A man contacts the Lone Gunmen, believing his life has been stolen after being abducted by aliens. They end up getting caught in a love triangle involving a one-eyed stereo salesman, brainwashing, and a wrestling dwarf.
7"Planet of the Frohikes"John T. KretchmerVince GilliganApril 6, 2001 (2001-04-06)1AEB055.59[15]
The Lone Gunmen receive an email from an ingenious chimp, a self-named Simon White-Thatch Potentloins, attempting to escape a government laboratory.
8"Maximum Byers"Vincent MisianoVince Gilligan & Frank SpotnitzApril 13, 2001 (2001-04-13)1AEB076.31[16]
At the behest of a man's mother, Byers and Jimmy Bond pose as prisoners on Death Row in a Texas penitentiary to prove the man's innocence.
9"Diagnosis: Jimmy"Bryan SpicerJohn ShibanApril 20, 2001 (2001-04-20)1AEB085.34[17]
While recovering in a hospital, Jimmy begins to suspect that his doctor is a wanted killer. Meanwhile, the Gunmen attempt to stop a man who kills grizzly bears to sell their gallbladders.
10"Tango de los Pistoleros"Bryan SpicerThomas SchnauzApril 27, 2001 (2001-04-27)1AEB103.87[18]
Yves and Frohike go undercover as tango dancers to stop a man from selling government secrets.
11"The Lying Game"Richard ComptonNandi BoweMay 4, 2001 (2001-05-04)1AEB095.09[19]
While investigating the death of Byers' college roommate, The Lone Gunmen find evidence implicating FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner.
12"The Cap'n Toby Show"Carol BankerVince Gilligan & John Shiban & Frank SpotnitzJune 1, 2001 (2001-06-01)1AEB114.56[20]
The Lone Gunmen try to solve the murders of two FBI agents who were working undercover on Langly's favorite TV series.
13"All About Yves"Bryan SpicerVince Gilligan & John Shiban & Frank SpotnitzMay 11, 2001 (2001-05-11)1AEB125.25[21]
The Lone Gunmen team up with Man in Black agent Morris Fletcher to find Yves. What they uncover is Romeo-61, a secret government organization responsible for decades of major incidents.

"Jump the Shark" (The X-Files episode)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
US viewers
19715"Jump the Shark"Cliff BoleVince Gilligan & John Shiban & Frank SpotnitzApril 21, 2002 (2002-04-21)9ABX158.59[22]
When Morris Fletcher approaches FBI agents Dana Scully, John Doggett, and Monica Reyes with information related to the super soldiers, they turn to the Lone Gunmen. But the Gunmen and Jimmy Bond are already knee-deep in a bio-terrorist's plot to release a deadly toxin, and his links to the mysterious Yves Adele Harlow.

Home video release[edit]

Fox Home Entertainment officially released the series on a three-disc Region 1 DVD set, including the ninth season episode of The X-Files titled "Jump the Shark" (which finishes the cliffhanger that ended The Lone Gunmen) as an additional episode. It was released in the United States on March 29, 2005, and in the UK on January 31, 2006.[citation needed]

Reception and impact[edit]


The Lone Gunmen received generally favorable reviews from critics. Julie Salamon of The New York Times gave it a favorable review, stating it is "well done: shrewdly filmed, edited and written".[23] Los Angeles Times writer Howard Rosenberg gave the series a moderately positive review, saying a "bit of it is pretty funny".[24] Aaron Beierle, writing for DVD Talk, awarded the show 4 stars out of 5. Beierle considered the stories "enjoyable, intelligent and well-written" and described the characters as "terrifically memorable".[25] Eric Profancik, writing for DVD Verdict, stated the material is "pretty good" and described the plots as "strong and unusual stories".[26]

About the show's reception, Vince Gilligan, the co-creator of the show, said: "I have such fondness for The Lone Gunmen. I think it ended way too soon. I was crushed when The Lone Gunmen got canceled after its first season. The Lone Gunmen to this day is a show I’m still proud of, and I will always be proud of. It sort of points to an interesting phenomenon about television – you can’t really tell in advance whether a show is going to work for an audience. I would hold The Lone Gunmen up against anything that I have done before or since. For some reason, timing I guess, being the best thing to point to, it just didn’t click with an audience. If The Lone Gunmen had come on maybe a couple of years earlier, or a couple of years later, maybe it would have clicked."[27] He also said: "my absolute belief is that we learn from failure, we don’t learn from success. And that show was in strict terms a failure. Certainly it only lasted 13 episodes and then was out. But I am still proud of that show and we had a lot of fun making it. But the 'failure' of that show–and I use semi finger quotes around the word failure because I enjoyed what we did with it—it doesn't really tell me much going forward. Because so much of television I really believe comes down to timing."[28]

Nielsen ratings[edit]

U.S. television ratings for The Lone Gunmen
Season Timeslot (ET) Premiered Ended Rank Viewers
(in millions)
Date Premiere
(in millions)
Date Finale
(in millions)
1 Friday 9:00 pm (episodes 3, 5–13)
Sunday 9:00 pm (episodes 1–2, 4)
March 4, 2001 13.23 June 1, 2001 4.56 #111[29] 5.3

Although the debut episode garnered 13.23 million viewers, its ratings began to steadily drop.[5]


The pilot episode earned a CSC Award by the Canadian Society of Cinematographers for Best Cinematography – TV Drama by Robert McLachlan.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "The Lone Gunmen: Season 1". IGN. Archived from the original on July 11, 2014.
  2. ^ "The Lone Gunmen". Fox Connect. Archived from the original on July 11, 2014.
  3. ^ Perenson, Melissa J. "Chris Carter taught us to trust no one, but wants us to trust The Lone Gunmen". Syfy. Archived from the original on June 3, 2004.
  4. ^ The Warehouse – Ratings for the Lone Gunmen tv show Archived April 14, 2001, at
  5. ^ a b "The Lone Gunmen – Series – Episode List". TV Tango. Archived from the original on July 11, 2014.
  6. ^ Kim Manners (director); Vince Gilligan (writer) (November 16, 1997). "Unusual Suspects". The X-Files. Season 5. Episode 3. Fox.
  7. ^ R.W. Goodwin (director), Glen Morgan & James Wong (writers). "One Breath (X-Files Episode)". The X-Files. Season 2. Episode 8. Fox.
  8. ^ Bryan Spicer (director); Thomas Schnauz (writer). "Tango de los Pistoleros". The Lone Gunmen. Season 1. Episode 10. Fox.
  9. ^ Kim Manners (director), Vince Gilligan, John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz (writers). "The Cap'n Toby Show". The Lone Gunmen. Season 1. Episode 13. Fox.
  10. ^ "National Nielsen Viewership (February 25–March 4)". The Los Angeles Times. March 7, 2001. p. 192. Retrieved February 25, 2022 – via of an open green padlock
  11. ^ "National Nielsen Viewership (March 5–11)". The Los Angeles Times. March 14, 2001. p. 207. Retrieved February 25, 2022 – via of an open green padlock
  12. ^ a b "National Nielsen Viewership (March 12–18)". The Los Angeles Times. March 21, 2001. p. 221. Retrieved February 25, 2022 – via of an open green padlock
  13. ^ "National Nielsen Viewership (March 19–25)". The Los Angeles Times. March 28, 2001. p. 184. Retrieved February 25, 2022 – via of an open green padlock
  14. ^ "National Nielsen Viewership (March 26–April 1)". The Los Angeles Times. April 4, 2001. p. 188. Retrieved February 25, 2022 – via of an open green padlock
  15. ^ "National Nielsen Viewership (April 2–8)". The Los Angeles Times. April 11, 2001. p. 188. Retrieved February 25, 2022 – via of an open green padlock
  16. ^ "National Nielsen Viewership (April 9–15)". The Los Angeles Times. April 18, 2001. p. 189. Retrieved February 25, 2022 – via of an open green padlock
  17. ^ "National Nielsen Viewership (April 16–22)". The Los Angeles Times. April 25, 2001. p. 160. Retrieved February 25, 2022 – via of an open green padlock
  18. ^ "National Nielsen Viewership (April 23–29)". The Los Angeles Times. May 2, 2001. p. 131. Retrieved February 25, 2022 – via of an open green padlock
  19. ^ "National Nielsen Viewership (April 30-May 6)". The Los Angeles Times. May 9, 2001. p. 216. Retrieved February 25, 2022 – via of an open green padlock
  20. ^ "National Nielsen Viewership (May 28–June 3)". The Los Angeles Times. June 6, 2001. p. 200. Retrieved February 25, 2022 – via of an open green padlock
  21. ^ "National Nielsen Viewership (May 7–13)". The Los Angeles Times. May 16, 2001. p. 81. Retrieved February 25, 2022 – via of an open green padlock
  22. ^ "National Nielsen Viewership (April 15–21)". The Los Angeles Times. April 24, 2002. p. 52. Retrieved February 25, 2022 – via of an open green padlock
  23. ^ Salamon, Julie (March 3, 2001). "Television Review; Even More Truth Is Out There". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 18, 2010.
  24. ^ Rosenberg, Howard (March 3, 2001). "Lone Gunmen Is a Microchip Off the Old Files". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 7, 2014.
  25. ^ Beierle, Aaron (March 29, 2005). "Lone Gunmen: Complete Series". DVD Talk. Internet Brands. Archived from the original on July 13, 2014.
  26. ^ Profancik, Eric (May 25, 2005). "The Lone Gunmen: The Complete Series". DVD Verdict. Archived from the original on December 30, 2005.
  27. ^ ""Another Protégé" The X-Files Lexicon's exclusive interview with Vince Gilligan, conducted by Matt Allair 2/20/2015".
  28. ^ "Q&A: Vince Gilligan on Reviving Saul Goodman in Better Call Saul". Time.
  29. ^ "The Bitter End". Entertainment Weekly. June 1, 2001. Archived from the original on October 1, 2013.

External links[edit]