The Lone Gunmen were a trio of fictional characters who had recurring roles on The X-Files and also starred in a short-lived spin-off, also called The Lone Gunmen. The name was derived from the lone gunman theory.
Described as counterculture patriots, they were ardent conspiracy theorists, government watchdogs, and computer hackers who frequently assisted central X-Files characters Mulder and Scully, though they sometimes had their own adventures. The Lone Gunmen authored a news publication called The Magic Bullet Newsletter (a pejorative reference to the single bullet theory and, like the group's name, a reference to the Kennedy assassination), later renamed The Lone Gunman, of which Mulder was a loyal subscriber. None of them had day jobs; they relied on financial backers who believed in their cause, and what revenue the subscriptions to their paper generated. They shared a loft apartment (where they also worked) and used a 1970 VW Transporter (minibus) to commute.
Melvin Frohike (Tom Braidwood) was a former '60s radical and the oldest of the three. Though a skilled computer hacker, Frohike was primarily the photography specialist for the newsletter. Frohike had a lascivious attitude toward women and secretly coveted Mulder's collection of pornographic videos. However, he had a more purely romantic attitude towards Dana Scully; when she was gravely ill, Frohike appeared at the hospital in a tux carrying a flower. His unique sense of fashion made him stand out: leather jackets, furry vests, combat boots, fingerless gloves, etc. Frohike considered himself the "action man" of the trio and would often be seen doing very intense stunts (many rigged to look more impressive than they really were). Despite his childish scraps with Langly and others, Frohike's age and experience gave him a kind of quiet wisdom that occasionally surfaced when he consoled his friends about the sorry nature of their lives. In the episode "Tango de los Pistoleros," Frohike was revealed to be a former tango champion who danced under the stage name "El Lobo."
John Fitzgerald Byers (Bruce Harwood) was once a menial office worker for the FCC. He was a conservative dresser with a neatly trimmed beard, a stark contrast to his grungier comrades. He is known for the famous line, "That's what we like about you, Mulder. Your ideas are even weirder than ours." He was born on November 22, 1963, the same day that President Kennedy died. His parents named him after the fallen president. His name would have been Bertram otherwise. Byers was the most "normal" of the three, and while Frohike and Langly were seemingly born angry misfits, Byers dreamed of a quiet, uneventful, suburban life. Byers' father was a high-ranking government official, but they never saw eye to eye and when Byers' father appears in the Lone Gunmen pilot, the two hadn't spoken for some time.
Richard Langly (Dean Haglund) was the most confrontational and socially immature of the three. He was a big fan of The Ramones and enjoyed critiquing the scientific inaccuracies of the short-lived sci-fi series Earth 2, and he had a long-running competition with Frohike over who was a better computer hacker. He also had "a philosophical aversion to having his image bounced off a satellite." His nickname was "Ringo". Langly was a Dungeons and Dragons player (as 'Lord Manhammer') and enjoyed violent videogames like Quake.
The debut of the show in March of 2001, began with Byers' father faking his death to uncover a conspiracy to hijack an airliner. The lone gunmen try to get to the truth of his supposed death and uncover the conspiracy.
One retrospectively interesting aspect of this pilot episode is that the airliner has been hijacked (via remote control of the plane's autopilot) and by the end both Byers and his father have boarded the plane to try to stop the hijacking. Through the aid of the other Gunmen, they are able to regain control of the plane and just miss crashing into the World Trade Center with the airliner. This of course is before the actual attack against the Trade Centers later that year.
- or maybe that's just what they WANTED you to think.