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The X-Files Creator Confirms A Super Specific Detail About The Cigarette-Smoking Man

the x files cigarette smoking man
(Image credit: Image courtesy of Fox)

Warning: spoilers ahead for the Season 11 premiere of The X-Files, called "My Struggle III" on Fox.

The X-Files returned to the airwaves for Season 11 on January 3 with a premiere filled with shocking revelations and unexpected payoffs. The episode also pointed the spotlight at the Cigarette-Smoking Man, who has been shrouded in mystery (and Morley smoke) from the very beginning of the series. In a voiceover, the man himself seemingly revealed his true name as "Carl Gerhardt Bush." Now, this wasn't exactly the first time that The X-Files has given a name for the Cigarette-Smoking Man, and fans know by this point to take anything he says with a gigantic grain of salt.

Back in the original run of The X-Files, his name was given as "C.G.B. Spender." Speaking with The X-Files creator Chris Carter about the Season 11 premiere, I asked if "My Struggle III" had definitively settled the question of the Cigarette-Smoking Man's name, and he told me this:

Yes. It's also the name of my grandfather... [The Cigarette-Smoking Man] is a man of mystery. This name 'Spender' which we assumed was his last name all these years was an assumed name or taken name, even though it's one of his son's name. That was an assumption that we all made that he was telling the truth.

There we have it! While there are still plenty of mysteries to ponder about The X-Files at this point, whether or not the Cigarette-Smoking Man's name is really Carl Gerhardt Bush is not one that we have to worry about. He is indeed Carl Gerhardt Bush. Of course, after 25 years of The X-Files, fans likely aren't going to start referring to Old Smokey as "Carl," but it's still nice to have a definitive answer.

The Cigarette-Smoking Man's claim via voiceover that his name is Carl Gerhardt Bush came as one of the earliest surprises of the premiere, as fans had every reason to believe that "C.G.B. Spender" was as close to CSM's real name as we'd ever get. In the original run of the series, it was revealed that he was using "C.G.B. Spender" as far back as the 1970s. His wife was Cassandra Spender, and his son was Jeffrey Spender (who also returned in the Season 11 premiere). He even used the Spender surname in the episode in which he apparently impregnated poor Scully.

Using the name "C.G.B. Spender" isn't exactly the most outrageous lie the Cigarette-Smoking Man ever perpetuated on The X-Files, as he seems to have kept his initials and simply added "Spender" for the sake of an alias. Interestingly, the confirmation of his real name means that none of the Cigarette-Smoking Man's kids have his real last name, which is just as well. Neither Fox Mulder nor Jeffrey Spender are exactly thrilled at their connection to him, and plenty of fans are already hoping that William isn't actually his kid at all despite what he told Skinner in the premiere. Hasn't Scully suffered enough without learning that her miracle baby is truly the result of CSM drugging and impregnating her?

We'll have to wait and see. The X-Files wouldn't be The X-Files if it gave us all its answers straight out of the gate, and we can be sure that there are plenty of twists on the Cigarette-Smoking Man front in store beyond the confirmation of his real name. For more of what Chris Carter told CinemaBlend, take a look at his explanation for the devastating twist about what the Cigarette-Smoking Man did to Scully, why the premiere resolved the Season 10 cliffhanger the way that it did, and the Season 11 theory that has already been debunked.

Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest in TV news, and be sure to tune in to Fox on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET for new episodes of The X-Files. Our midseason TV premiere guide can help you find your other options for viewing, and our rundown of episodes to watch for The X-Files Season 11 can point you toward some great blasts from the past.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.