Paranormal Pop Culture: The Jersey Devil and The X-Files

Scene from the fifth episode of The X-Files' first season, titled 'The Jersey Devil.'

Scene from the fifth episode of The X-Files' first season, titled 'The Jersey Devil.'

The popular paranormal show the X-Files aired an episode titled ‘The Jersey Devil’ in 1993; but instead of featuring a bat-winged demon, the creature was a primitive ape-man, referred to in the show as the “missing link.”  The episode isn’t exactly inaccurate in its portrayal of the Jersey Devil; although it's not necessarily what one would think of immediately in connection to the monster. 

In a July of 2016 blog on Cryptomundo, Loren Coleman noted how, having remembered a conversation he had in the 1960s with famed cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson, "Bigfoot were being called Jersey Devils forty years ago."  

Coleman also recounted a bigfoot-like creature that was labelled a "Jersey Devil," by the locals that witnessed it.

"Toward dusk on May 21, 1966, a creature “at least seven feet tall” ambled through the Morristown, New Jersey, National Historical Park and left in its wake four hysterical witnesses who had viewed it from a parked car. They said the creature was “faceless,” covered with long black hair, and had scaly skin. It had broad shoulders and walked on two legs with a stiff, rocking movement.

The four drove to the park entrance and stopped approaching cars to warn people that a “monster” lurked inside. Raymond Todd, one of the witnesses, caught a ride with a young lady who took him to the Municipal Hall in Morristown, where he blurted out his story to the police. Oddly enough, the girl had seen a similar entity a year before. She told police that she and several friends were in the park one night when a huge, broad-shouldered something had loomed up in their rear window and thumped on the back of the car. Her mother had asked her not to report the incident, she said," wrote Coleman.

Real-life eyewitness descriptions of the Jersey Devil vary widely, from traditional winged demons to hairy humanoids to eastern cougars, and its moniker is seemingly applied by locals to almost any unexplained creature sighting that occurs in or around the Pine Barrens.  It's important to recognize that reports of the "Jersey Devil" can mean almost anything; but at least our inner nerds can be satisfied that this episode of The X-Files didn't butcher the folklore behind one of our favorite fortean monsters.