What Was The First Sci-Fi TV Show To Enjoy Widespread Internet-based Promotion and Discussion?
Answer: The X-Files
The X-Files premiered in the fall of 1993 and aired throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. The combination of its sci-fi laced drama, partially serialized format, and a rise to fame that coincided with rising consumer internet use, created a perfect recipe for a highly connected fan base.
In a fashion that, for prior lack of technology intersecting with intense fandom, had never been seen before, fans of the show created the first active online fan community based around a currently airing show. The kind of online fan interactions we now take for granted—discussing past episodes, sharing trivia, debating where future story lines will take the show, etc.—were a prominent part of The X-Files popularity.
In homage to the devotion of fans and the networks they had created to discuss The X-Files, show writers named a minor character in the show after a real life fan. In the episode Alone (which aired on May 6, 2001), viewers are introduced to Agent Leyla Harrison, an agent within the FBI who had become a fan of the often ridiculed “X-Files” unit and was filled with trivia about their cases. Agent Harrison was named after real-world X-Files fan fiction writer and community contributor Leyla Harrison, who had died earlier that year after a long struggle with cancer.