Cult-TV Theme Watch: Ouroboros

The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol of a snake or serpent swallowing its own tail.  The name "Ouroboros" comes from Greek roots and the word literally means “he who eats his own tail.” 

The Ouroboros forms a circle, and therefore suggests the cyclical nature of human existence. We progress, we fall back, and we progress again…only to fall back. We are both the eater, and the eaten.

Most famously in cult-tv history, the Ouroboros is the symbol of the secretive Millennium Group in Chris Carter’s twenty-year old Millennium (1996-1999).  This “logo” of sorts appears on Frank Black’s computer sign-in with the group, and suggests that at the end/beginning of each Millennium, there is a potential for doomsday.

The Ouroboros is actually a recurring symbol throughout the televised works of Chris Carter.  In The X-Files (1993 – 2002) episode “Never Again,” Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) gets a tattoo of an Ouroboros on her back, in an apparent act of rebellion against Mulder (David Duchovny).

And in Carter’s Amazon pilot, The After (2014) one of the strange beings seen in the episode finale, in the woods, is seen to have an Ouroboros inked on his inhuman flesh.

The Ouroboros has also appeared in the opening credits of the adaptation of Stephen King’s time travel story, 11.22.63 (2015), about the Kennedy assassination.  It’s an appropriate image, because we learn that more than one time traveler has attempted to stop the historical assassination, only to have to start over, or change time, again.

Hemlock Grove (2013 – 2015) featured something called “Project Ouroboros” at the mysterious Godfrey Institute, and the symbol has also appeared on Teen Wolf (2011 – 2017) too.

Recently, a Fear the Walking Dead (2015 - ) episode of the second season was titled “Ouroboros.”  It featured a walker being eaten by crabs on a sandy island, while simultaneously the crabs were eating him.


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