21. 'Kolchak: The Night Stalker' (1974-1975)
Long before Mulder and Scully were so much as a glimmer in Chris Carter's eye, a different dogged investigator was cracking the cases too strange for the straight authorities to solve. That man was Carl Kolchak, Chicago reporter, whose dealings with the dark forces and crimes that the cops wouldn't touch helped inspire The X-Files two decades later. Kolchak starred in two TV movies about serial killers with supernatural origins (The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler), as well as the 1974 series that sprang from their success. Its monster-of-the-week format eventually made McGavin miserable, leading to the cancellation of the show before it could finish a full season. But the period-appropriate paranoia — there really were sinister, supernatural happenings that were all around us — had a lasting impact on horror's conspiratorial side.