- “We never gave up, we never will. In the end, if that's the best they can say about us, it'll do.”
- — (TXF: "Jump the Shark")
John Fitzgerald Byers was one of the three The Lone Gunmen (the others being Richard Langly and Melvin Frohike). (TXF: "E.B.E.", et al.) The son of Bertram Roosevelt Byers, he was named after President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, whose assassination also provided the Lone Gunmen with their collective name. (TLG: "Pilot"; TXF: "Unusual Suspects") Unlike his publishing partners, he was a confident, skilled ice-skater and was well versed in medical terms and procedures. (TXF: "Apocrypha", "One Breath", et al.) He also wore suits more often than the other Lone Gunmen did. (TXF: "E.B.E.", et al.) Byers died with his two closest associates in 2002, sacrificing his own life in order to protect the world from a bio-terrorist. (TXF: "Jump the Shark")
Before the Lone Gunmen
As a child, John learned from his father about JFK, Camelot, the idea of a government as good as its people and the American dream. He would ultimately form the opinion that those stories made him believe in the promise of his country and that they transformed him into the person he eventually became. (TLG: "Pilot")
By 1974, John had become a student at a school in Sterling, Virginia. While most of the other children in his class wanted to eventually grow up to become rich and famous, John wanted to ultimately be a career bureaucrat with the federal government. He also wanted to help as many people as he could and work hard to spread democracy throughout the world. One day, he and other members of his class each individually admitted their ambitions to their classmates, an exercise supervised by their female teacher. John, wearing a brown suit and tie, was more smartly dressed than most or all of his classmates. (TLG: "Like Water for Octane")
John loved the television show Gentle Ben, whose main character, also named Gentle Ben, was a grizzly bear. He wanted to have Gentle Ben as his pet and wished he could hug the animal, even though he couldn't have reached around the bear's huge furry neck.
When he was twelve, John saw a real grizzly bear while camping with his family. The bear, which was a rogue male, petrified John, who watched with his family as the animal overturned a dumpster the size of a car. Because the bear wouldn't leave, the park rangers, who were supervising the area where John and his family were camping, had to shoot the creature. As the bear lay on the ground afterwards, John looked at the animal and realized that, once the male rogue was gone, there would be no more like him. (TLG: "Diagnosis: Jimmy")
Byers later attended college, where he shared a room with fellow male student Carl Strode. During his college years, Byers briefly knew Carl's brother, Jeff Strode, who was a computer hacker. (TLG: "The Lying Game")
By May 1989, Byers had been employed by the Federal Communications Commission as a public affairs officer. It was in that capacity that, in May, he attended the Computer and Electronics Show at the Baltimore Convention Center, where he first met an attractive woman named Susanne Modeski. Modeski initially lied to him that she desperately needed help because she was being pursued by her psychotic former boyfriend.
In an effort to help her, Byers hacked into a secured Department of Defense site on the internet, although he was initially shocked at the prospect of doing so. He also enlisted the help of computer hackers Melvin Frohike and - later - Richard Langly, who both occasionally referred to him as a "narc". Byers continued to be extremely concerned about the possible consequences of being involved in hacking and was even about to turn himself in when he saw another FCC worker being wrongly arrested for the hacking he had done earlier, only to be stopped by Frohike.
Byers soon learned the truth about Susanne Modeski - that she had been framed for murder and that her "former boyfriend" was actually FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder. After she apologized to Byers for having lied to him, Modeski convinced him and the two hackers that secret elements within the US government were responsible for the assassination of President Kennedy, had planted electronic surveillance devices in hotel Bibles and were planning to test a mind-altering gas on people in Baltimore.
Upon breaking into a warehouse where the gas was stored, Byers and his companions were confronted by Agent Mulder, who attempted to arrest Modeski and the three men. Byers tried to persuade the FBI agent that Modeski was innocent of murder, but eventually complied when Mulder instructed him and the two hackers to lie down on the ground. In events that followed, the mind-altering gas was released, Modeski fled the area and the warehouse was sanitized by a group of men, of whom Byers rhetorically asked, "Who are you people?"
Much to the annoyance of his two companions, he continued to rebelliously question the group and the man who led them, who fooled Byers into believing he was about to be shot even though the man used a gun that was not loaded. As the man and his group left the warehouse, Byers asked if their government organization was responsible for the assassination of President Kennedy, as Modeski had claimed. Before exiting the warehouse, the man replied, "I heard it was a lone gunman".
After a S.W.A.T. team took Byers into custody with Frohike and Langly, he was questioned by a Detective Munch and recounted the events that had transpired since first meeting Susanne Modeski at the Baltimore Convention Center. Byers was instrumental in realizing that Susanne Modeski had gone to the offices of the Baltimore Guardian, where he and the other two men found her. Having been unsuccessful in persuading the newspaper company to listen to her, Modeski urged Byers and his companions to tell the truth to as many people as possible and use it as their weapon. They were shocked to see Modeski be kidnapped by men in a car, one of whom was the same man who had supervised the clean-up operation in the warehouse earlier.
After the men returned to the Baltimore Convention Center, Byers and his allies met with Mulder, who explained that Modeski was suddenly no longer wanted by the FBI even though she was still missing. Byers began to tell him about the secret forces within the government, Susanne Modeski and that hotel Bibles were being used for surveillance purposes. (TXF: "Unusual Suspects")
Later the same year, Byers stopped working for the Federal Communications Commission, becoming no longer eligible for a government pension, and started The Lone Gunman newspaper with Frohike and Langly in an effort to discover and spread the truth to the people of America. Byers teamed up with his new partners in the belief that, as they were true believers in the promise of their country, he could work with them to expose those who would destroy the dream of truth, justice and a government as good as its people, and to write the stories those destroyers of the dream didn't want to be read. (TLG: "Pilot") He would also occasionally use the name "Lone Gunman" to describe a member of the group. (TXF: "One Breath")
- In events as they are seen on The X-Files, Byers is the only person in the series to use the singular term "Lone Gunman" in reference to another person, which he does only once.
Helping Mulder and Scully in the 1990s
Despite losing contact with his father, Byers continued his friendship with Mulder; in 1991, Byers learned that Diana Fowley, Mulder's girlfriend since his graduation from the FBI Academy, had accepted a legate assignment in Berlin, Europe. Byers was curious as to why she and Mulder had separated, but never discovered an explanation. (TXF: "The End")
While Mulder and his skeptical FBI partner - Special Agent Dana Scully - were visiting the Lone Gunmen's office in 1994, Byers claimed that Vladmir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Russian Social Democrats, was being put into power by the CIA, which he described as "the most heinous and evil force of the 20th century".
Byers showed Agent Scully, who had never met him nor his partners before, the magnetic anti-counterfeiting strip inside a twenty dollar bill she gave him, breaking a law by defacing her money. Byers claimed that the strip was only one of several methods used by the US government to track members of the American public and to determine how much money a person was carrying when they stepped through a metal detector at an airport. He also suspected that the US government was hiding something by putting the strip on the inside of the bill, as other countries put the strip on the outside, and wondered what it was the government was hiding.
In response to questions Mulder asked about subjects related to the Gulf Wars, Byers explained that the Gulf War Syndrome was due to artillery shells coated with depleted uranium and that, while the Gulf War had been fought, there would have been no reason for secret planes to have been flown. He was amused when Mulder suggested the "weird" theory that UFOs had caused the Gulf War Syndrome, even though Byers did admit that the ideas of his group were almost as weird as Mulder's. (TXF: "E.B.E.")
In April of the same year, Byers and his partners published an article in that month's edition of The Lone Gunman that concerned the CIA's new micro-video camera, which was small enough to be placed on the back of a fly. Byers later remembered the article after Mulder showed him and his partners a fly that had been purposefully dropped onto a lawn in Franklin, Pennsylvania. Byers identified the insect as a Eurasian cluster fly, commenting that it often infested vegetation and was known to inflict a great deal of damage to crops. He offered the theory that agents of competing South American agricultural corporations, while posing as Franklin city employees, were secretly releasing flies to destroy crops but his hypothesis was considered to be improbable when it was discovered that the fly had been irradiated, most likely to control propagation.
When Mulder asked about a specific chemical compound, Byers identified the substance as lysergic dimethrin, an unreleased experimental synthetic insecticide that triggered a fear response in insects. When asked whether the substance might affect humans in the same way, Byers showed Mulder a video of a chemical called D.D.T., which the government had determined to be safe, being sprayed onto lawns and people. Byers explained that, thirty years later, it had been discovered that women exposed to the chemical had higher rates of breast cancer, but he recalled that officials had taken a subsequent decade to ban the chemical. He remarked that, since then, groups carrying out similar stunts with different chemicals only differed in the fact that they had learned how to be more discreet. (TXF: "Blood")
After Scully was returned following her abduction, Byers studied her medical charts in the Lone Gunmen's office and downloaded her medical data to the newest member of the group, a hacker known as "the Thinker". Byers determined that the charts, which Mulder and Frohike had smuggled out of the hospital where Scully was staying, showed that abnormal protein chains, unlike any Byers had ever seen before, were present in her blood. He relayed news to Mulder, Frohike and Langly, while they were with him in the office, that "the Thinker" had determined the protein chains to be a result of branched DNA, a biological equivalent of a silicon microchip.
When asked what it might be used for, Byers answered that it could be the developmental stages of a biological marker. Other theories were suggested, but Byers discovered that none of them, not even his own, were accurate as the branched DNA was inactive, a waste product that was nothing more than a biological poison remaining from experiments done on Scully that were no longer being conducted. In response to a question Mulder asked regarding the possibility of whether Scully would survive, Byers gave him the solemn news that, even if her immune system had not been decimated and she was perfectly healthy, he would doubt that she could recover from having inactive branched DNA in her blood. (TXF: "One Breath") Miraculously, Scully did continue to live, however, and was able to return to working with Mulder. (TXF: "One Breath", "Firewalker")
In early 1995, Byers (accompanied by Frohike) communicated, via live audio and visual satellite transmission, with Mulder, who was in Fairfield, Idaho. Byers was curious as to what cost using the satellite equipment would be to the American taxpayers (the answer was expensive - "150 bucks an hour"!) When asked what he knew about Fairfield, Byers told Mulder that the town's zoo was the subject of many bizarre stories regarding escapes and disappearances of animals and that, weirdly, no animal at the zoo had ever brought a pregnancy to term. Byers also revealed that a gorilla belonging to the woman who ran the zoo knew sign language, supposedly with a vocabulary of 1,000 words. (TXF: "Fearful Symmetry")
On April 11 of the same year, Byers, Frohike and Langly discovered that "the Thinker", whose real name was Kenneth Soona, had hacked into the Defense Department computer system, as Byers had done in 1989, and urgently went to Mulder's apartment to deliver him the serious news. (TXF: "Anasazi", "Unusual Suspects") Fearing that they may have been followed to the apartment by a multinational black ops unit code-named Garnet, Byers asked, after Mulder opened his door, if they could speak with him inside his apartment. Once Mulder reluctantly complied and had begun listening to his visitors, Byers reminded him that he had previously heard of Kenneth Soona, but referred to only as "the Thinker", and revealed the hacker's crime to Mulder.
Byers had learned that, whatever "the Thinker" had become involved in, the anarchistic hacker was now an extremely wanted man. When Mulder asked why they had come to him, Byers revealed that, in the last communique he and his partners had received from "the Thinker", the hacker had asked to meet with Mulder at a certain location within a three-hour time window. When the men heard a nearby gunshot, Byers followed his three friends as they raced out of Mulder's apartment and discovered that a female neighbor to Mulder had shot her husband of thirty years, killing him. (TXF: "Anasazi")
Byers later examined a black and white photograph that Mulder and Scully were interested in. Although the image seemed to merely show eight men standing in front of a large building, Byers was amazed by the picture when Mulder told him it had been taken about 1973, as he had recognised one of the men as Victor Klemper. Byers explained that Klemper was the most evil Nazi to have escaped the Nuremberg trials and that he, as well as a notorious Nazi called Wernher von Braun, had been granted safe haven in the US due to a post-World War II project known as Operation Paper Clip.
In exchange, Klemper and Von Braun had helped the US win the space race; as Byers explained, the Americans had used their scientific data to help put astronauts on the moon before the Russians. Byers admitted that his earlier amazement had been due to the fact that, even though Operation Paper Clip was supposed to have been scrapped in the 1950s, the picture seemed to prove otherwise. He was still present when, moments later, Frohike entered and relayed news to Scully that her sister was in critical condition after having been shot. (TXF: "Paper Clip")
In October of the same year, Byers helped analyse several satellite photos of a ship. He explained to Mulder, who claimed to have obtained the images from a Japanese diplomat, that the pictures had been taken using German optics, technology that was probably American and a satellite that was most likely Japanese. Once the ship had been identified as the Talapus, Byers explained that the vessel had been a salvage ship out of San Diego that had spent months searching for a Japanese submarine that had been rumored to be carrying a load of gold bullion when it sank in World War II.
Byers later demonstrated that the pictures tracked the ship as it had journeyed through the Panama canal to a naval shipyard in Newport News, Virginia. Puzzled as to why the craft had gone there and had not returned to San Diego, Mulder suggested, while Byers stood next to him, that the Talapus may have found something other than the Japanese submarine. (TXF: "Nisei")
In late 1995, Byers used his ice-skating expertise while helping his compatriots retrieve a digital tape of the MJ documents, data stolen by "the Thinker" near the start of the year, which was reportedly in a locker at Capital Ice, an ice-skating arena in Rockville, Maryland. (TXF: "Apocrypha", "Anasazi") Along with Langly, Byers looked for any suspicious spectators while Frohike went to the locker. To the disappointment of the group and Mulder, only an empty envelope had been concealed within the locker.
However, they later found a faded impression of writing on the envelope, and, as Mulder went over the impression with a pencil, Byers recalled that the FBI had managed to identify and convict a major serial murderer with the proof of a pen impression and detailed the Bureau's ability to lift a perfect impression from a surface. Byers also witnessed Mulder's discovery that the "writing" was actually a New York City phone number. (TXF: "Apocrypha")
In April 1996, Byers helped analyse a device that Mulder brought to the Lone Gunmen. Byers commented to Mulder that the device looked very similar to a standard video trap, used for blocking premium cable channels. He later showed Mulder that two test signals, one of which was routed through the device, initially seemed identical. After his partners showed Mulder that the test signals were actually different, Byers explained that the difference was caused by extra information being added by the device. He explained that neither he nor his partners knew the nature of the added information and that all they could ascertain was that the device, which Byers believed was of an amazingly sophisticated design, was emitting a signal.
After Scully became extremely paranoid and went missing, Byers and his colleagues examined a video tape found in her room that contained television footage which had passed through the device. When Mulder next visited them, Byers explained that they had used interpolating freeware downloaded from the internet to blank out visible frames that had been recorded onto the videotape, thus isolating the signal emitted by the device. The Lone Gunmen had then significantly slowed the signal down since, as Byers told Mulder, it had been designed to cycle at a certain rate in order to induce a condition known as the "photic driving response", the manipulation of which had been linked to heightened suggestibility in several studies. Byers compared the device's signal to subliminal messages that had been used in cinemas to sell popcorn and recalled that both Russian and American scientists had worked for decades to develop technologies like the device Mulder had found.
Though Mulder had watched videotapes of images that had been sent through the device, he had not been affected in the same way as Scully. When asked if color could be a factor in the device's signal, Frohike and Langly looked at Byers, who replied, "Maybe". After Mulder admitted that he was red-green color-blind, Byers speculated that his inability to perceive red might render him immune to the mind-altering effects of the images. He continued discussing the theory with his colleagues as Mulder received a telephone message from the Maryland State Police. Byers and his publishing partners later learned from Mulder that he had been asked to identify a body that had possibly been Scully's. (TXF: "Wetwired")
In November of the same year, the Lone Gunmen discovered the possible history of a spy known to some as "Cancer Man". Before revealing their information to Mulder and Scully in the Lone Gunmen's office, Byers co-operated with Langly to conduct a thorough search of the area for bugs, but found none. He also commented, after the CSM25 countermeasure filter was activated, that no electronic surveillance known could penetrate the filter. Unknown to Byers, however, "Cancer Man" was indeed listening to their conversation and was able to cut through the filter using technology of his own. (TXF: "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man")
In an attempt to obtain information that could possibly help with Scully's cancer in 1997, Byers helped hack into a supposedly impenetrable mainframe in the Lombard Research Facility from the security of the Lone Gunmen's office. He later revealed to Mulder the details of a device he and his partners had used to hack into the mainframe and notified him that all they had discovered in regards to Scully was a gene code they had seen before - specifically, the branched DNA that had been detected in her blood after her abduction. When asked why the gene code may have been secretly stored, Byers commented, "Scientists get funky about having their research poached".
With Mulder, Byers subsequently broke into the Lombard Research Facility, having never previously visited that location. Though he was initially equipped with a personal communications device that enabled him to talk and listen to the other Lone Gunmen, Mulder took the device from him before they discovered that a Doctor Kevin Scanlon, who was treating Scully's cancer, was a member of the research facility's staff. Tasked with relaying the news to Scully, Byers separated from Mulder, leaving him with the communications device, and hid from several security officers before exiting the Lombard Research Facility. At Allentown Bethlehem Medical Center, Byers finally managed to notify Scully of the news and brought Mulder to Penny Northern's hospital ward, which Scully was visiting. (TXF: "Memento Mori")
In October of the same year, Byers prepared and conducted a test to determine the contents of a metal tube that Mulder had taken to the Lone Gunmen after having been told it held the cure to Scully's cancer. (TXF: "Redux") Though Byers announced that the tube only contained de-ionized water, it never occurred to him what the water might be for until later that month, when Mulder tapped the tube on a petri dish and a microchip fell out. (TXF: "Redux", "Redux II") Byers was still initially puzzled as to how the microchip could cure Scully's cancer but learned from Mulder that Scully had developed the illness only a short time after the removal of a small metallic chip that had been found implanted in her neck following her abduction. Clearly amazed by the technology, Byers remarked, "It's unreal!" Scully's cancer went into remission shortly thereafter. (TXF: "Redux II")
1998 & Early 1999
In 1998, Agents Mulder and Scully brought another item to the Lone Gunmen that caused Byers amazement - a laptop computer owned by Donald Gelman. While Langly and Frohike examined the computer, Byers reminisced that Gelman had been present when several important advances in computing had been made and that, although he had been part of the inventive groups, he had commonly been thought of as older and "brighter" than the other members, even at the relatively young age of 28. When Scully asked if Gelman had disappeared because he had found himself under investigation by the NSA, Byers responded that Gelman had been a visionary and subversive, not a capitalist.
Byers seemed shocked when Mulder divulged that Gelman had recently died, possibly due to his laptop computer, and became interested in a CD found in the computer's CD-ROM drive. Shortly after, he determined that the CD included code hidden as a form of enhanced background data. He was unable to ascertain what the code was or what it might be used for, but suspected it could constitute a program designed by Gelman. After Byers and his friends found that only one e-mail had recently been sent to Gelman, he read the message aloud.
When Scully and Mulder took the message's sender, Esther Nairn, to the Lone Gunmen's office, Byers seemed awed by her, though he did not voice his amazed reaction nearly as much as his two partners. He was present when Esther Nairn began talking about an Artificial Intelligence program that had killed Donald Gelman by using "a dozen crack dealers" and, when she came to the conclusion that the program had built itself "a little safehouse", Byers tried to limit the possible locations of such a place by stating that the program would need a T3, later explaining that they were used by internet service providers and major research laboratories.
Late one night in 1998, Scully disturbed the Lone Gunmen - while they preparing for sleep - with news that child chess prodigy Gibson Praise was being suspected by some as a fraud. Commenting on the suspicion, Byers asked, "Dorf on chess?" (referring to a slightly idiotic character that managed to excel at a variety of sports). When Scully began to ask who Diana Fowley was, Byers remarked that he and his partners hadn't heard Fowley's name in a long time and confirmed that he knew her. He later managed to recall that she had accepted a legat appointment in Berlin and admitted to having always wondered why she and Mulder had separated. (TXF: "The End")
Later the same year, Byers learned that Mulder had been hospitalized after having been shot in the head. Upon visiting the hospital, Byers lent his clothes to Mulder in order to assist in his escape as he was secretly being watched. (The X-Files Movie)
- In the script of The X-Files Movie, Byers informs Mulder of the hospital staff's work on him by providing the technical description, "They gave you a craniotomy to relieve the pressure from a subdural hematoma". This line of dialogue seems to imply that Byers is well-versed in medical terminology but it does not appear in the final version of the film.
After the Lone Gunmen discovered that Mulder had disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle while searching for the SS Queen Anne, they visited the FBI's headquarters, intending to notify Scully of the news. It was Byers who explicitly informed her of Mulder's disappearance. He also showed Scully proof that the Queen Anne had reappeared and asked her to acquire satellite data that was needed in order to determine Mulder's fate.
After Scully obtained the data, Byers traveled with her and the other Lone Gunmen on a search for the Queen Anne. Although Scully could hardly believe her eyes when they found the ship, Byers confirmed that the craft was indeed the object of their quest. He suggested the possibility that Mulder was already on board the ship and helped look for him on the Queen Anne but to no avail; Mulder was ultimately discovered floating unconscious in the water and was subsequently hospitalized once again. (TXF: "Triangle")
In November of the same year, Byers ate huevos rancheros that Frohike served to both him and Langly. After Frohike corrected Langly that he should have asked for "más" rather than "more", the consistently polite Byers added that Langly should also have said "por favor", Spanish for "please". Moments later, Scully arrived with a flight data recorder that she wanted analysed and a companion who seemed to be Mulder. At first, Byers turned his attention to the data recorder - which Scully told him had come from a location near Area 51 - and explained to her that the Aurora spy plane related to that particular area was a hypersonic reconnaissance aircraft fueled with slush hydrogen.
However, Byers and the other Lone Gunmen soon learned, much to their initial disbelief, that Scully's companion was actually Morris Fletcher, an Area 51 employee who had switched identities with Mulder when the aircraft that had been carrying the flight data recorder had crashed and consequently caused a warp in the space-time continuum. Byers and his publishing partners listened as Fletcher claimed to be responsible for much of the stories they investigated. Although Byers subsequently helped to examine the data recorder and was particularly pleased upon learning that he and his colleagues had managed to break the encryption that secured information within the device, their efforts were ultimately proven unnecessary as the warp in the space-time continuum soon reversed, returning Mulder and Fletcher to their previous existences. (TXF: "Dreamland II")
It is unlikely that Byers retained any memory of these events, as the space-time continuum's reversal erased any and all memories made since the warp in the continuum had been created.
In early 1999, Byers helped Scully confront Mulder with her suspicion that Diana Fowley was untrustworthy, recalling that Fowley had taken a position in the FBI's foreign counter-terrorism unit in 1991 and had spent seven years in Europe. He and Scully, as well as the other two Lone Gunmen, had learned, however, that no information whatsoever was stored in the FBI files regarding Fowley's activities in Europe. Other seemingly incriminating facts about Diana Fowley had been found but Byers was not directly involved in relaying them to Mulder. (TXF: "One Son")
The Las Vegas Incident
In 1999, Byers and the other Lone Gunmen attended the annual Def-Con convention in Las Vegas. There, Byers went undercover as unmarried defense contractor Stewart Funston to play a game of Texas Hold 'Em against four legitimate defense contractors. One of Byers' opponents worked for a black ops organization, another not only went head to head with Byers and won - costing the Lone Gunmen $30,000 - but also cleverly discovered that he was lying about his identity. As a result of his mistakes, Byers was forcefully ejected from the game.
Ten years after the Lone Gunmen had met Susanne Modeski at a Baltimore convention, Byers momentarily caught sight of her in Las Vegas. He called Scully and, using computer software that mimicked Mulder's voice, lured her to Las Vegas in the belief that the Lone Gunmen required their own inconspicuous government agent to help them oppose the agents of the government he believed they were already up against.
After witnessing Susanne Modeski kiss the same man who had defeated him at Texas Hold 'Em earlier, Byers made an unsuccessful, unlikely and half-hearted attempt to commit suicide before he announced his suspicion that the man was a government agent who had brainwashed Modeski into both working for him and kissing him, using the mind-altering gas she and the Lone Gunmen had found in a warehouse ten years before. Following Scully's arrival in Las Vegas and the death of Jimmy Belmont (a friend of the Lone Gunmen), Byers began to suspect that Jimmy Belmont had been murdered and learned that Grant Ellis, the man he had witnessed kissing Susanne Modeski, was actually her fiancé and had not brainwashed her but had saved her from the organization who had seized her ten years earlier.
Byers and the other Lone Gunmen discovered that a derivative of the mind-altering gas they had previously encountered had been used to influence Jimmy Belmont to commit suicide and had recently been injected into Scully, although Susanne Modeski rendered her unconscious with a chemical that would counteract the drug's effect on her.
After Modeski realized that Langly was also under the influence of the mind-altering drug and administered the antidote to him, Byers and his friends helped to fake her death following the discovery that Langly had been instructed to kill her. As part of the deception, Byers dressed as a paramedic and, together with Frohike, he wheeled Modeski's supposedly lifeless body away from the conference room.
Having learned that the incident was a hoax, Timothy Landau, the man who had administered the mind-altering drug to Scully and had tried to supervise Langly's murder of Susanne Modeski, killed Grant Ellis, who had provided him with the drug, and subsequently confronted the Lone Gunmen with Modeski as his hostage. Byers was pistol whipped once by the man, knocking him to the ground, but he retaliated by managing to inject his attacker with the mind-altering drug. The man consequently lost his balance and fell on Byers, crushing him.
After Timothy Landau was arrested on charges relating to the murder of both Grant Ellis and Susanne Modeski, Byers provided Modeski, who had been pronounced dead on computer records, with a new identity and convinced her not to go public with evidence against the government, but to instead allow the Lone Gunmen to do so. The two then parted for the final time. (TXF: "Three of a Kind")
In 2000, after the Lone Gunmen became trapped in a malfunctioning digital environment game created by FPS, Byers was shot by one of many adversarial computer generated characters known as "cyberthugs". His stun suit registered the hit by releasing paint onto his chest. Though he later claimed to be okay because his "injury" was only a flesh wound, the suit simulated the injury by giving Byers a small but painful electric shock.
Despite the fact that he had initially described FPS Corporate Headquarters as "the launch pad of a rocket headed for the stars", Byers ultimately helped persuade the game's designers to destroy their faulty creation after a female warrior character from another program input herself into the game and claimed the lives of four victims. Many people, including Mulder and the Lone Gunmen, found the warrioress character to be extremely attractive and, upon first seeing her, Byers exclaimed, "Holy Toledo!" Her victims included Darryl Musashi, who Byers once called, "The boy wonder of virtual mayhem." (TXF: "First Person Shooter")
- The parallel that Byers makes between FPS Headquarters and a rocket's launch pad may be a reference to the fact that some of the rooms used to film sections of the building were actually in a facility that once served as a military contractor in which rocket engines were built.
After the Lone Gunmen failed to obtain evidence of the prototype Octium IV's invasive nature, Byers' confidence in his group began to wane; he wondered whether, after eleven years of publishing their newspaper, the Lone Gunmen's efforts had improved the lives of American citizens and if they had really made a difference.
Byers was later told his father had died. He consequently attended a funeral at which Ray Helm, who claimed to have met him years ago, presented a eulogy and Byers launched a rocket supposedly loaded with his father's ashes. While investigating the possibility that his father may have been murdered by the government, Byers discovered that his father was actually alive, having faked his own death after having learned that the government wanted to kill him.
When the two were reunited shortly thereafter, Byers learned from his father that Ray Helm was part of a small governmental faction known as "Overlord", the same group that had tried to murder him and were now conspiring to commit a terrorist act against a domestic airline. Byers boarded the plane that was intended to be involved in the crime, with his father, and realized that Overlord were planning to crash the aircraft using remote navigation.
After the other Lone Gunmen allowed the plane to be landed safely, Byers planned to report Overlord to the FBI or to publicly release news of the faction's existence, hoping that his father would testify against the faction, but his father declined and went back into hiding. Byers realized that there was now no proof of the narrowly averted terrorist attack and truth of the incident consequently remained unreleased. His confidence in his publishing partners was somewhat restored after he discovered that the other Lone Gunmen had managed to obtain an Octium IV, providing proof for their next news story. (TLG: "Pilot")
Later that year, Byers wore a sweatshirt and demonstrated a disheveled hairstyle as part of the Lone Gunmen's ridiculous attempt to disguise themselves in the hope of avoiding prosecution after they had been caught hacking into a Department of Defense node. Soon after, Byers first met Assistant Director Walter Skinner at the FBI's headquarters, a building he would return to on several subsequent occasions. (TXF: "En Ami")
With Jimmy Bond, Byers later interviewed a man who called himself Adam Burgess and claimed he had been brought from a parallel reality by aliens who had abducted him before they had returned him to his current reality, in which no-one recognized him and strangers were living in his house, but Byers was doubtful of the man's extraterrestrial explanation. (TLG: "Madam, I'm Adam") While searching a house that the man claimed to own, Byers was arrested and jailed with the other Lone Gunmen for the first time since 1989 - on this occasion, accompanied by the mysterious man and Jimmy Bond - after the man essentially wrecked the building as a result of destructively examining the property. (TLG: "Madam, I'm Adam"; TXF: "Unusual Suspects")
Following the group's release from imprisonment, Byers' doubts regarding the man's story were proved to be justified when it was discovered that the man was actually called Charlie Muckle and was the victim of an unproven virtual reality therapy that had essentially stripped him of his identity, a story that Byers thought was exactly what the American people needed to be warned about. After Charlie Muckle willingly re-entered the virtual reality program, Byers, as with his associates, donned a black suit so that he could be integrated into the program and help persuade Charlie to return to reality; as the only member of the Lone Gunmen not to have been attacked by Charlie, Byers assured him that he could still change in the old-fashioned way - provided he wanted to badly enough. (TLG: "Madam, I'm Adam")
On an investigation in which Byers learned a method to detect UFOs, he first met the apparently co-operative Marita Covarrubias and Alex Krycek but did not have much of an opportunity to work with them. Byers later accompanied the Lone Gunmen to a bank of large satellite dishes while attempting to relocate Mulder, who had been abducted in Oregon. As Byers told Skinner when he visited the site, however, only UFO activity before Mulder's abduction could be accessed from the satellite dishes. The group ultimately succeeded in tracking Mulder using the same obscure detection method Byers had learned earlier, namely by recognizing inconspicuous microburst activity. Though Scully initially doubted the method's accuracy, Byers defended the group by stating, "We're only trying to find Mulder". (TXF: "Requiem", "Within")
Byers seemed to know much about Nazis; he was able to immediately recognize the Poisoner of Alsace in an old photograph taken shortly before her disappearance, and he recalled how the Nazi killer had murdered twenty members of the French resistance during World War II. With Langly, Byers later conducted surveillance on a Mrs. Anna Haag, who was suspected of being the Nazi murderer but he and his associate encountered trouble in the form of nosy neighbor Mrs. Louella Everage, who suspected Byers of engaging in lighthearted sexual activity with Langly, who she mistook for a girl, in the Lone Gunmen's van. Byers assured Mrs. Everidge that her suspicions were incorrect and attempted to act as if he were a federal employee after Langly claimed that they were INS officers surveilling Mrs. Haag's maid. Byers later came to the unlikely but correct conclusion that Mrs. Everidge was actually the Poisoner of Alsace. (TLG: "Eine Kleine Frohike")
As a means of investigation, Byers often visited the Federal File Depository in Owings Mill, Maryland, where he requested the release of files from the Freedom of Information Office, including the CIA's material regarding Lee Harvey Oswald, the FBI's files on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the missing eighteen minutes of the Nixon tapes concerning the Watergate scandal. None of the items that Byers requested were issued to him, until one day in 2000 when he received a large, heavy box that he immediately took to the Lone Gunmen's offices. Believing the box contained every file he had ever requested from the government, Byers opened the box but was disappointed when he found it apparently contained nothing but a cinder block.
Further inspection, however, revealed a file on Stan Mizer, described by Byers as an inventor who, according to legend, had perfected a car that ran on water before the vehicle had disappeared and its inventor had died. The document led Byers and his associates, including Jimmy Bond and Yves Adele Harlow, on a dangerous search for the historic car and, at one point, Byers again wore a black suit - this time, with climbing gear, such as a helmet with a light attached, that he used to infiltrate a silo - as did the other Lone Gunmen. (TLG: "Like Water for Octane")
Unlike Frohike and Langly, however, Byers managed to escape imprisonment for his part in the hijacking of a televised interview with Senator Richard Jefferson, who was rumoured to have recently done some illegal and immoral actions. After his associates were released, Byers discovered a finger-written message purposefully left on the dirty windscreen glass of their van. As he later recounted, the clue led the Lone Gunmen to Senator Jefferson's illegitimate baby son, who they returned to the senator after he was vindicated. (TLG: "Three Men and a Smoking Diaper")
Upon a return visit to the FBI's headquarters near the end of the year, Byers protested to the other Lone Gunmen searching through the X-files, believing those documents to be too private, but his publishing partners continued to do so nevertheless. Byers was the first to notice that Special Agent John Doggett, who had been assigned to investigate the X-files with Scully, had arrived but the antics of the other Lone Gunmen were interrupted when they also realized that Doggett had entered the X-files office. Byers introduced himself and the others before the group revealed their findings to Doggett regarding a case he was working on, a demonstration process that began with Byers announcing that the Lone Gunmen had reviewed the case as Scully had asked. (TXF: "Via Negativa")
In 2001, Byers and the other Lone Gunmen were again disturbed in their sleep by the FBI; AD Skinner and Agent Doggett requested assistance in researching a pattern they had found while searching for Mulder. Dressed in a white bathrobe, Byers told Skinner and Doggett, via live audio and visual transmission sent to their laptop computer straight from the Lone Gunmen's personal computer, that he and his group had learned what they could, even though the request for assistance had come at short notice. He later revealed that the aforementioned pattern was most likely a medicine wheel, a symbol for healing usually associated with North American shaman, adding that the symbol might be placed on a grave as a sign of respect or on a door as a summons to indicate that a sick person, someone in need of the healing gift of a mythological soul eater creature, lived there. (TXF: "The Gift")
After Mulder's deceased body was recovered by the FBI, Byers attended his funeral in Raleigh, North Carolina, at which he participated in prayer. Attendees of the ceremony also included FBI Deputy Director Alvin Kersh and Scully's mother, both of whom Byers had never met before. (TXF: "DeadAlive")
Byers later learned that superintelligent trained Russian chimpanzee assassin Bobo intended to kill the French Minister of State, but he was unaware that the information was misleading and subsequently embarrassed himself by jumping on top of the French politician in an effort to save him. As the assassination attempt did not come to fruition, Byers was considered a risk to security. Consequently, he was punched and kicked by the French minister's bodyguard before being imprisoned with Langly and Jimmy Bond. Fortunately for Byers, he was soon released from custody with his similarly jailed associates. (TLG: "Planet of the Frohikes")
As part of an attempt to determine whether a particular Elvis Presley impersonator was the real singer, Byers wore blue coveralls and a baseball hat backwards while helping to infiltrate a cruise ship on which the impersonator worked.
Byers later met Alberta Pfeiffer, an avid reader of The Lone Gunman newspaper who recalled that Byers' remarkably principled and strong words had stirred her soul. After she appealed to the Lone Gunmen to prove her convicted son's innocence, Byers, using the alias J. Wesley, snuck into the Death Row Unit of a Texas prison with Jimmy Bond and angered a fellow inmate into assaulting him so he could access the prison's infirmary, where Douglas Pfeiffer - Alberta's son - was being held. Pfeiffer was guilty of the murder charge against him, however, and Byers was later released by the other Lone Gunmen, earning a slap from Alberta Pfeiffer for failing to free her subsequently executed son. (TLG: "Maximum Byers")
Byers became personally involved while he and the other Lone Gunmen were conducting surveillance on a poacher of grizzly bears, which Byers described as "magnificent animals". He recounted his early love of Gentle Ben and his young experience of seeing a real grizzly bear to Frohike and Langly, later supervising their stratagem of luring the poacher away from his cabin to obtain information from within the abandoned building. After the Lone Gunmen followed the information to a meeting point where the poacher met with several purchasers, Byers was caught spying on the proceedings as a result of moving too close to the criminals in the hope of capturing an incriminating photograph. He was taken to the poacher, who threatened to kill him, but, when the poacher asked whether he was alone, Byers claimed that the police knew of the meeting and were waiting outside. As it turned out, Byers' claim was actually true and the poacher, as well as his potential buyers, were arrested during the police raid that followed. (TLG: "Diagnosis: Jimmy")
In an effort to get near criminal millionaire and competitive tango dancer Leonardo Santavos, Byers tried to enter the Florida State Tango Competition, as did Langly and Jimmy Bond. Among other moves, Byers demonstrated unskilled disco dancing; neither he nor his associates were anywhere near good enough to qualify. (TLG: "Tango de los Pistoleros")
After Mulder was revived and began investigating the recent suspicious death of US Census worker Howard Salt, Byers and the other Lone Gunmen successfully decrypted data found on a computer that had belonged to Salt, discovering that the data was a series of file directories downloaded from the Federal Statistics Center - a source that Byers described to Mulder as "a government information bank used by the US Census Bureau where your Mr. H. Salt worked". As Byers also told Mulder, however, there was no way to acquire the data stored in the FSC without first obtaining a password.
After Mulder managed to acquire a password, Byers, while working within the building with the other Lone Gunmen as they helped Mulder sneak into the facility, told him when to enter the FSC, identified the entrance to the center's databank and devised an effective escape route after Agent Doggett joined Mulder and warned him that armed guards were on their way. (TXF: "Three Words")
Shortly thereafter, Byers was reunited with his former college roommate, whose gender had since been altered from male to female and whose name had consequently been changed from Carl to Carol. After she informed Byers that her brother Jeff had been murdered, Byers introduced Carol Strode to his associates. As the Lone Gunmen subsequently investigated her brother's mysterious reported death, Byers kept several details from his publishing partners, who were led to believe that he had been Jeff Strode's roommate and were not informed that Carol had once been male. At one point, the other Lone Gunmen and Yves Adele Harlow suspected that AD Skinner was complicit in the recent murder, but, even though Byers refused to believe that Skinner was guilty, he was still surprised when he and his associates discovered that Jeff Strode was actually alive, his murder having been faked by AD Skinner in order to continue an FBI undercover operation, which the Lone Gunmen had interfered with. Byers was kept in FBI custody with his associates - who learned the facts he had hidden from them - until the undercover operation was successfully completed. (TLG: "The Lying Game")
With Frohike and Langly, Byers later helped vindicate children's television presenter Fred Tabalowski, who was known for playing Cap'n Toby, while the host was under suspicion of murder, and brought a gift to Scully's newborn baby, William, after having learned of the remarkable circumstances in which the child had been born. (TLG: "The Cap'n Toby Show"; TXF: "Existence")
Twelve years after Byers had been threatened with a gun aimed point blank at his head in a Baltimore warehouse, he was similarly threatened again; this time, Jimmy Bond and the other Lone Gunmen were also targeted during their imprisonment by armed military officers after Byers and his associates had faked the abduction of MIB Morris Fletcher for a news story. (TXF: "Unusual Suspects"; TLG: "All About Yves") Byers had no memory of having previously encountered Fletcher in 1998, neither did his associates nor Fletcher himself, but the Lone Gunmen and Jimmy Bond were soon released from custody. (TXF: "Dreamland II"; TLG: "All About Yves")
Soon after, Byers and his associates hacked into a Department of Defense website, learning that many historical incidents reported as terrorist attacks - including the assassination of Byers' namesake in 1963 - had apparently really been operations successfully carried out by government sanctioned terrorist group Romeo 61. In order to learn more, the Lone Gunmen crept into the organization's headquarters, fooling the building's facial recognition security system that they were authorized personnel using a method that Byers was instrumental in devising.
Once inside, the group found a large locked safe which Byers believed contained every answer to every question that he and his publishing partners had every asked. After the group accessed the safe, however, they discovered that plans they had of the building were fake, moments before they were again captured by armed soldiers who, this time, were already holding Yves Adele Harlow prisoner - to their discovery, the Lone Gunmen had been set up. (TLG: "All About Yves")
After The Lone Gunman
Following their release, Byers and his associates found themselves unemployed and low on funds, but they nevertheless continued to occasionally provide assistance to the FBI agents who were assigned to the X-files.
Upon visiting Agent Doggett's apartment in late 2001, Byers told Doggett that they had nothing better to do than help him, later revealing that the Lone Gunmen had managed to hack into the Department of Interior's mainframe and acquire certain files that Doggett had requested - Environmental Protection Agency files on EPA Deputy Administrator Carl Wormus, who Byers learned had drowned in his own car.
When Byers later met Agent Monica Reyes, he informed her that Doggett had left his apartment after the Lone Gunmen had discovered, as a result of having to do some "real hacking", that Carl Wormus had been receiving encrypted e-mail data from a worker at a water reclamation plant in Maryland named Roland McFarland. (TXF: "Nothing Important Happened Today")
Following another financial fiasco (namely, having their Internet service cut), Byers and his associates breached FBI security by posing as agents when they entered the organization's headquarters, where they returned to the X-files office, having earlier visited the room in the previous year. (TXF: "Nothing Important Happened Today II", "Via Negativa") As Agent Reyes was working alone in the room, Byers turned her attention to the Lone Gunmen's discovery that someone had been trying to call Carl Wormus after his widely reported death. Moments later, Byers noticed an incoming call from the same person and hastily instructed Langly to hook up a patch cord. He then gestured for Frohike to answer the call as Carl Wormus and, while listening to the conversation with Reyes and Langly, Byers gesticulated a question for Frohike to ask the caller, a sea captain who told Frohike, believing he was Carl Wormus, to notify the FBI about the horrors and inhumanity of a lab being maintained aboard his ship. (TXF: "Nothing Important Happened Today II")
In 2002, Byers and the other Lone Gunmen were called upon to protect Scully's baby, William, from the members of a dangerous cult. As Byers sat in the back of the Lone Gunmen's van while it made its way through a Washington, D.C. alley, he enjoyed tickling the baby's cheek, making William smile, but did not realize an imminent threat - a female cult member who shot at the Lone Gunmen's van, forcing it to a violent stop, and held Byers at gunpoint before kidnapping baby William, who was now loudly crying. (TXF: "Provenance")
Prior to the kidnapping, Byers had managed to tuck a cell phone under the padding of the baby's car seat. He subsequently assisted in an attempt to relocate William, helping with an initially unsuccessful, ultimately pointless effort to track the hidden phone and later watching as his associates provided Agents Reyes and Scully with instructions to follow the leader of the cult, voicing alarm when the Lone Gunmen lost a tracking signal representing the cult leader's car. However, the FBI agents had followed the signal for long enough to eventually find baby William, who they soon recovered. (TXF: "Providence")
Byers later helped search for John Gillnitz, a man who was essentially a human time-bomb, as he had willingly been implanted with a steadily decaying vessel of shark cartlidge carrying an engineered lethal virus, the only existing one of its kind, that could potentially kill thousands or even tens of thousands of victims within a radius of five or six miles. Byers and the other Lone Gunmen eventually found John Gillnitz moments before the shark cartlidge in his body was about to totally decay and consequently release the deadly virus, but, presented with the option of sealing themselves in a corridor with Gillnitz using airtight fire doors, Byers believed, even though he had been determined to never give up, that he and his associates had to do whatever it took to minimize the virus' death toll and, on his recommendation, the Lone Gunmen quarantined themselves, heroically sacrificing their own lives. Due to AD Skinner pulling strings, Byers was buried with Frohike and Langly in Arlington National Cemetery. (TXF: "Jump the Shark")
Bertram Roosevelt Byers
Main article: Bertram Roosevelt Byers
Much of Byers' youth was shaped by his father; he was originally to have been given the same first name as his father had been given, Bertram, and, even though ultimately named "John Fitzgerald", both he and his father consequently shared the uncommon practice of having been named in honor of a US president. (TXF: "Unusual Suspects"; TLG: "Pilot") Also, Byers was extremely influenced by stories his father told him in his youth that made him believe in the promise of his country, later even attributing much of who he eventually became to his father's stories.
In 1989, however, Byers lost contact with his father, who was angered that his son had chosen to discard a government pension by leaving his job at the FCC and opting instead to socialise with Frohike and Langly, who his father considered to be "lowlife hippy scum".
Byers would not see his father again until 2000, after Bertram Byers faked his own death without even telling his son. Believing his father to have actually died and faced with questions regarding the fatal incident, Byers was insistent on investigating his father's death with the other Lone Gunmen, even after Frohike attempted to convince him that, although Byers was hoping to discover his father was someone he could respect, he might be disappointed and there were other ways to make peace with his father.
Byers was so determined to discover the circumstances surrounding his father's death that, at one point, he alone attempted to supervise the complete download of a secured Department of Defense file important to the investigation, even though the other Lone Gunmen were extremely reluctant to continue downloading the file, as the intrusive hacking they had carried out in their attempt to obtain the information had been detected and their location was being tracked until one of the Lone Gunmen shut down their computer. (TLG: "Pilot")
Main article: Susanne Modeski
Main article: Melvin Frohike
Main article: Richard Langly
Main article: Jimmy Bond
Main article: Fox Mulder
Main article: Dana Scully
Yves Adele Harlow
Main article: Yves Adele Harlow
Main article: Morris Fletcher
Byers once reported experiencing a recurring dream that he described as "beautiful". In the dream, his namesake, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was never assassinated and his country was hopeful and innocent, young in spirit again. His fellow citizens trusted their elect officials, never once having been betrayed by them, and the government was truly "of the people, by the people, for the people". All the hopes Byers had for his country and himself were fulfilled. He had a large, picturesque suburban home, a family automobile, a golden retriever and a loving family comprised of twin daughters and his lover, who looked completely identical to Susanne Modeski. Even though he believed he had all a person might want and everything that he thought counted in life, the dream would end the same way every time - with Byers left standing alone in a desert, the only reminder of his former life being a gold ring he held in one hand. (TXF: "Three of a Kind")
In 1999, a giant fungal organism trapped Agents Mulder and Scully underground and caused them to hallucinate without them realizing. Scully imagined finding Mulder's skeleton and visiting his apartment to attend a wake held in his honor. Byers was among the many present at Mulder's wake and walked up to Scully with the other Lone Gunmen. He naturally seemed concerned for her emotional state, asking how she was "holding up" and claiming that he hoped she would not be offended by news that he and his partners had acquired a report she had given to the illusory Assistant Director Skinner.
Byers soon began echoing sentiments that Scully had recently heard, however, such as the imaginary Skinner's comment that her report was impressively thorough and common opinions of Mulder's cause of death. When Scully showed signs of experiencing a sudden excruciating headache and her vision became clouded with a yellow haze (signs that she was becoming aware of her true reality), the illusory Byers' attention returned to her wellbeing and he rhetorically asked if she was all right. He and the other imaginary attendees of the wake soon completely disappeared from the illusion. (TXF: "Field Trip")
After the "real" Lone Gunmen died, Mulder encountered more illusory manifestations of Byers and his associates while risking his life by heading to see the Cigarette Smoking Man in New Mexico, instead of continuing a journey to the relative safety of Canada. The illusory Byers claimed that he and his companions were extremely worried about Mulder, later wondering why he would risk perfect happiness and the lives of both himself and Scully. After Mulder replied that he was heading to New Mexico because he needed to know the truth, Byers assured him that he already knew the truth but Mulder nevertheless soon continued traveling towards New Mexico. (TXF: "The Truth")
The script of "E.B.E.", the episode in which Byers and the other Lone Gunmen first appear, describes Byers as "clean-cut in a white shirt and thin striped tie" and the script of The X-Files Movie describes the character as "courtly". Similarly, a scene featuring a young version of Byers - in "Like Water for Octane", the fourth episode of The Lone Gunmen - also features a caption that describes Byers as an "idealist".
In all of the character's appearances, Byers was played by Bruce Harwood, who only had to audition for the role once, after which he initially didn't think much of it although he was subsequently called back, numerous times, for occasional days of playing the character. The young version of Byers in "Like Water for Octane" was played by child actor Matthew Munn.
|Appearances for John Fitzgerald Byers|
|The X-Files: Fight the Future|
The Lone Gunmen