- Writing partners Glen Morgan and James Wong wrote this episode as a reaction to 20th Century Fox requesting more episodes where Mulder and Scully help people while investigating the paranormal. Morgan and Wong were fond of ghost stories and executives at the company had suggested an episode that would involve poltergeists. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 112) "We should do a poltergeist show! We should have relatable characters!" Wong remembered being advised by an executive. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 26) The process of writing "Shadows" was fueled by Morgan and Wong hoping to, in Morgan's words, "get them [the Fox executives] off our back," so that he and Wong could pursue some of the more offbeat stories they had in mind. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 112) Regarding their response to the request for a ghost story, Morgan noted, "I just said, 'Okay we'll do that.'" (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 40) Added Wong, "We wanted to placate the network and we didn't want to just blow them off." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 26)
- Once the pair of writers agreed to develop this episode, their original idea was slightly more unusual than how the installment ended up. "We started thinking about a masseuse in one of these sleazy places," admitted James Wong. (Starlog, issue #210, p. 63) Because the Fox network wanted more relatable aspects in this outing (and in the series generally), he and Glen Morgan instead made the masseuse character a secretary. (X-Files Confidential, p. 45; Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 26)
- In the original script for this episode, Mulder tells Scully he would like the words "no regrets" engraved on his tombstone. (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 112) The installment's teleplay went through six drafts. These were dated 13th, 19th, 27th and 31st August 1993, as well as two drafts which were both submitted on 1st September of that year. The shooting script, which was compiled from these various drafts, does not include Mulder saying he would like his tombstone to be marked with the words "no regrets."
- Director Michael Katleman found a great degree of freedom was made available to him in directing this episode, such as depicting the entity seemingly haunting Lauren Kyte but actually protecting her. "When you look at that situation, how do you show that? Which way do you show that someone is possessing someone or protecting them?" Katleman pondered. "It's really wide open as to the ways you can explore this psychological dilemma. In that sequence where the attackers come into her house, how do you tell that story? It's done from a psychological perspective, so there are many different ways to do it." (X-Files Confidential, p. 46)
- The scene in which a car containing Mulder and Scully crashes made use of a stunt vehicle at an East Vancouver location used to represent Lauren's house. The production team doubled the stunt vehicle with Line Producer Joseph Patrick Finn's car. However, problems in the shooting of the stunt arose, holding up the rest of the day's filming. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 36)
- Following their work on the car crash scene, the filming crew was due to shoot some footage for the nighttime scene wherein firstly two attackers arrive at Lauren's house, after which Mulder and Scully also arrive there. The scene involved lightning and noisy Ritter wind machines. A heated discussion about the scene took place between J.P. Finn, Location Manager Todd Pittson and First Assistant Director Brian Giddens. According to Finn, this occured "at around 10:30 p.m. – as the 11 p.m. curfew drew near." Finn explained, "Todd was adamant that the scene be scrapped, as it would certainly have taken us past the curfew and with all that noise, he did not want to assume responsibility for the fall-out [....] Brian Giddens pointed out that the day's work had always been scheduled in this order and that if not for problems with the stunt earlier in the day we would have been home by now." Seeing as the relatively new production of The X-Files television series allowed no expense for a second unit filming crew, it was Finn's responsibility to make sure the crew managed to stay on schedule, one way or the other. "At about 11:50 p.m.," he continued, "we finished blocking and lighting the shot and the Ritter fans were turned on [....] Todd stormed off set. We rolled camera and cut, preparing for another take. All of a sudden this [naked] guy appeared on his porch across the street. He was screaming obscenities at the crew, telling us to go home, that we had no right to be there [....] We ignored him and continued filming. I was determined to get the day and get us out of there as quickly as possible. He blustered on for another minute or so, then gave up. We wrapped around 12:30 a.m. It was one of the most ridiculous on-location moments I can recall during my five years on The X-Files." (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), pp. 36-37)
- The morning after the night when filming had been interrupted by the enraged nude man, a letter of apology was hand-delivered to each resident in his block, along with notification that The X-Files was donating $500 to their Neighborhood Blockwatch program. The man called The X-Files' production office to apologize for his outburst and the production team responded by apologizing to him in kind. (X Marks the Spot (On Location with The X-Files), p. 37)
- The production of the briefing scene where Scully shouts instructions to a line of FBI agents was one instance where, due to newness as an actor, Gillian Anderson struggled with learning her lines. "Here I am in my little high Scully voice; I just did not feel like I had that authority," she confessed. "And I think 19 or 20 takes later I kept missing my line. It was all out of nerves. Bob Goodwin sat me down and said, 'Look, you're in trouble. This is just the beginning [of the series], and you've got to find some way of memorizing this stuff because you're costing us money and Fox is not happy.' So there was a mixture of having a tape recorder and listening to myself going over the lines and also having this woman that they hired sit with me in the morning and go through the lines." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 40)
- Special Effects Supervisor David Gauthier oversaw the effects supposedly caused by the ghost of Howard Graves, such as in the chaotic scene inside Robert Dorland's office. Much of the big windstorm therein "was simply what it looked like," remarked Gauthier. "We had construction build this [small] office where all the walls were what you call 'wild'–all the walls [were] removable, and whenever the camera was not pointing at the wall, it was not there. We had big Ritter fans–I think we used four in that sequence [...] generating probably 100-mile-an-hour winds. And a whole lot of paper! On that set we had the pneumatically controlled desk in that show as well. The doors opened and the paper flew. We had a letter opener that levitated off the ground and stuck into the wall." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 26)
- This is the first of three Season 1 installments which explore a combination of psychokinesis and the theme of spiritual rebirth. The two other episodes are "Lazarus" and "Born Again".
- Mulder's joke that Elvis was the only man ever to have successfully faked his own death eventually became the first of many similar Elvis jokes littered throughout most of the series.
- The name "Tom Braidwood" appears in this episode, on a reserved parking sign. At the time this episode was created, Tom Braidwood was an assistant director on The X-Files. He later guest starred as Lone Gunman Melvin Frohike.
- The date of birth on the gravestone for Sarah Lynn Graves is September 8, 1966. This is a reference to the original Star Trek series, which premièred on this date.
- Of all the episodes in the first season of The X-Files, this was David Duchovny's least favorite. (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 6, p. 30)
- Glen Morgan retained little memory of having worked on this episode, after-the-fact. According to Morgan, this was because he "wasn't that happy with the story." (The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths and the Movies, p. 40) Regarding the episode as a whole, Morgan critized, "I thought it was okay. We needed more money and time to be able to do those poltergeist scenes at the end. It was just a little too ordinary, like you have seen it before. Which is exactly what the network wanted at the time." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 26)
- The episode didn't entirely please James Wong. He remarked, "It wasn't a great script, although I thought the director did a good job with it. It was entertaining, but not my favorite episode [....] It wasn't really involving. An average episode." (X-Files Confidential, p. 45) Wong regretted his and Glen Morgan's attempt to comply with Fox's requests for The X-Files. "I guess it was a mistake," reckoned Wong, "because it wasn't the most successful show." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, p. 26)
- Chris Carter, on the other hand, remarked positively about this installment, calling it "a very popular show. Very well done, really great effects, and more of a meat-and-potatoes kind of story. An FBI sting and a good mystery that Mulder and Scully investigate. Overall, a really solid episode." (X-Files Confidential, p. 46)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen household rating of 5.9, with an audience share of 11. This means that roughly 5.9 percent of all television-equipped households, and 11 percent of households watching television, were tuned in to the episode. It was viewed by 5.6 million households. These viewing figures match those of the following episode, "Ghost in the Machine". Together, they were the joint second lowest audience numbers in the first season, higher than only "Fallen Angel". (The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, p. 248)
- Cinefantastique (Vol. 26/27, No. 6/1, pp. 25 & 26) rates this episode 1 and a half out of 4 stars. The magazine goes to comment, "[Lisa] Waltz gives a good performance as the bewildered secretary, and making her something of a slack-off is also a good touch, but the character is otherwise unmemorable. The teaser gives away the ending, and the story plods on to its predictable conclusion, although towards the beginning there are some imaginative elements, like the young male and female agents (their affiliation unknown) who question Mulder and Scully, or Mulder's stealing fingerprints off a corpse with his glasses. Overall, though, this is a dull episode."
- The X-Files Magazine (The X-Files Magazine Volume 1, Issue 6, p. 30) states about this episode "the psychokinetic effects in the show are hard to fault." However, the magazine also regards this episode in general as being admittedly not as good as "Lazarus" and "Born Again".
- In his reference book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium and The Lone Gunmen, writer Robert Shearman scored this episode 2 out of 5 stars. Shearman further characterized "Shadows" as exhibiting an "uncertainty of tone" and "an episode made by people who can't be sure what the series is capable of yet." However, Shearman went on to state, "In its simplistic way, 'Shadows' succeeds in being a perfectly competent piece of TV. There are some great special effects and a couple of memorable set pieces [....] Duchovny and Anderson are on fine form too, giving their relationship a light, bantering quality that is easy on the ear. But you could argue they’ve caught the mood perfectly – this episode really is so lightweight it’s almost throwaway, The X-Files conceived as Almost Any Other Generic Programme [....] It trots along affably enough. But it’s telling that it almost chooses to be less interesting than it should be – starting off as a tale about a poltergeist with surrogate father issues, in the last act it becomes more concerned with the mundane urge to expose a corrupt businessman. This somehow turns the whole poltergeist into nothing more than a deus ex machina, as if the whole phenomenon only existed to help the police out with their enquiries. And by resolving the wrong plotline, the story feels odd and unsatisfying as it dribbles to its end, as if you’ve been watching an episode back to front [....] It’s fine. It’s not terrible. It’s fine. But the lack of focus makes one point emphatic: it’s just not about anything [....] This has no ambition except to trot along and tell a simple story in forty-five minutes. There are worse ambitions to have, and those forty-five minutes pass painlessly enough. But you’d be hard pushed to remember them. There are lots of unanswered questions here, and they’re mostly an attempt, I think, to overcome this sense of emptiness, to give a mystery and a significance to things where there’s none to be had."
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.