The X-Files

The X-Files
The X-Files
Title screenshot
Genre Drama, science fiction, horror, mystery, thriller
Format Live-action
Created by Chris Carter
Starring David Duchovny
Gillian Anderson
Robert Patrick
Annabeth Gish
Mitch Pileggi
Composer(s) Mark Snow
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 9
No. of episodes 202 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Chris Carter
Frank Spotnitz
Kim Manners
Vince Gilligan
R.W. Goodwin
Howard Gordon
Glen Morgan
James Wong
Michelle Maxwell MacLaren
Michael W. Watkins
David Greenwalt
Running time 42–48 minutes
Production company(s) Ten Thirteen Productions
20th Century Fox Television
Original channel Fox
Picture format 4:3 (original broadcast)
16:9 (DVD seasons 5–9)
Audio format Dolby Surround 2.0
Original run September 10, 1993 (1993-09-10) – May 19, 2002 (2002-05-19)
Followed by The X-Files: I Want to Believe
Related shows The Lone Gunmen
External links

The X-Files is an American science fiction television series and a part of The X-Files franchise, created by screenwriter Chris Carter. The program originally aired from September 10, 1993 (1993-09-10) to May 19, 2002 (2002-05-19). The show was a hit for the Fox network, and its characters and slogans (such as "The Truth Is Out There", "Trust No One", "I Want to Believe") became popular culture touchstones in the 1990s. Seen as a defining series of its era, The X-Files tapped into public mistrust of governments and large institutions, and embraced conspiracy theories and spirituality as it centered on efforts to uncover the existence of extraterrestrial life. The series spawned a spin-off show, The Lone Gunmen.

In the series, FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are the investigators of X-Files: marginalized, unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena. Mulder is a believer in the existence of aliens and the paranormal while Scully, a skeptic, is assigned to make scientific analyses of Mulder's discoveries.[1] Early in the series both agents become pawns in a larger conflict, and come to trust only each other. They develop a close relationship, which begins as a platonic friendship, but develops into a romantic relationship by the end of the series' run.

In addition to the series-spanning story arc, "monster of the week" episodes made up roughly two-thirds of the series. In such stand-alone episodes, Mulder and Scully investigated strange crimes which often had no long-term effect on the storyline, though the episodes contributed to the show's background.

In 1998 the feature film The X-Files was released. This was followed in 2008 by a post-series film, The X-Files: I Want to Believe. In the last two seasons, Gillian Anderson became the star as David Duchovny appeared intermittently, and new central characters were introduced: FBI agents John Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish). Mulder and Scully's boss, Assistant Director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), also became a central character. By the time the series ended, The X-Files had become the longest-running science fiction series in US broadcast television history, though it was subsequently surpassed by Stargate SG-1 in 2007 and by Smallville in 2011.


Series overview

The X-Files follows the careers and personal lives of FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). Mulder is a talented profiler, and a firm believer in the supernatural. He is also adamant about the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life and their continual presence on Earth. This set of beliefs that has earned him the nickname "Spooky" and an assignment to a little-known department that deals with unsolved cases, known as the X-Files. His belief in the paranormal springs from long experience, which began with the abduction of his sister, Samantha Mulder, by extraterrestrials when Mulder was 12. His sister's abduction is a driving force in Mulder's career throughout most of the series. Because of this, as well as the more nebulous desires for vindication and the revelation of truths kept hidden by human authorities, Mulder struggles to maintain objectivity in his investigations. Agent Scully is a foil for Mulder in this regard. As a medical doctor and natural skeptic, Scully is frequently able to approach the X-Files with complete detachment even when Mulder, despite his considerable training, is not. She is initially assigned to the X-Files to debunk Mulder's theories by supplying logical, scientific explanations for the apparently unexplainable phenomena the cases involve. Although she is frequently able to offer scientific alternatives to Mulder's deductions, she is rarely able to refute them completely and, over the course of the series, becomes increasingly dissatisfied with her own ability to contextualize the X-Files in a scientific way.

The main story arc involves the agents' efforts to uncover a government conspiracy to hide the existence of intelligent extraterrestrials and the sinister collaboration of governments with those extraterrestrials. Mysterious men comprising a shadow element within the U.S. government, known as "The Syndicate", are the major villains in the series; late in the series it is revealed that The Syndicate acts as the only liaison between mankind and a group of extraterrestrials that intends to put an end to human life. They are usually represented by the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis), a ruthless killer and a masterful politician and negotiator, and the series' principal antagonist.

The series also deals with the relationship between Mulder and Scully, a platonic relationship for most of the series that later develops into a romantic one.

Mulder and Scully are joined by John Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) late in the series, after Mulder is abducted. Doggett replaces him as Scully's partner and aids her in her search for Mulder, and later involves Reyes, of whom Doggett had professional knowledge.

The series ends when Mulder is secretly subjected to a military tribunal for breaking into a top-secret military facility and viewing plans for alien invasion and colonization of Earth. He is found guilty, but he escapes punishment with the help of the other agents, and he and Scully become fugitives.

Cast and characters

Name Portrayed by Occupation Seasons
1 2 3 4 5 Fight the Future 6 7 8 9 I Want to Believe
Dana Scully Gillian Anderson FBI Special Agent Main
Fox Mulder David Duchovny FBI Special Agent Main Recurring Guest Main
John Doggett Robert Patrick FBI Special Agent Main
Monica Reyes Annabeth Gish FBI Special Agent Recurring Main
Walter Skinner Mitch Pileggi FBI Assistant Director Recurring Main
  • Fox Mulder (seasons 1–7, main; seasons 8–9, recurring) – is portrayed by David Duchovny. Mulder is an FBI special agent who believes in the existence of extraterrestrials and a government conspiracy to hide or deny the truth regarding them. With his FBI partner Dana Scully, he works in the X-Files office, which is concerned with cases that were marked as unsolvable and shelved by the FBI; most of these cases involve supernatural or mysterious circumstances. Mulder considers the X-Files and the truth behind the supposed conspiracy so important that he has made their study the main purpose of his life. After his abduction by aliens at the end of season seven, he is replaced on the X-Files by Agent John Doggett. He appeared in an episode of The Lone Gunmen and both The X-Files feature films.
  • Dana Scully (seasons 1–9, main) – is portrayed by Gillian Anderson. Scully is an FBI special agent, partner to agent Fox Mulder. They work in the cramped basement office at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., to investigate unsolved cases labeled "X-Files". In contrast to Fox Mulder's credulous "believer" character, Scully is a skeptic, choosing to base her beliefs on scientific explanations. However, as the series progresses, she becomes more open to the possibility of paranormal happenings. In season eight, she is assigned a new partner (agent John Doggett) after Mulder is abducted by aliens. Later in the same season, she leaves the X-Files office to be replaced by Agent Monica Reyes. She has appeared in both The X-Files feature films.
  • Walter Skinner (seasons 1–8, recurring; season 9, main) – is portrayed by Mitch Pileggi. Skinner is an FBI assistant director who served in the United States Marine Corps in the Vietnam War. During this time he shot and killed a young boy carrying explosives, an incident which scarred him for life. Skinner is originally the direct supervisor of special agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in the X-Files office. He later serves the same position for agents John Doggett and Monica Reyes. Although he is originally portrayed as a somewhat malevolent character, Skinner eventually becomes a close friend of Mulder and Scully. He appeared in an episode of The Lone Gunmen and both The X-Files feature films.
  • John Doggett (seasons 8–9, main) – is portrayed by Robert Patrick. Doggett is an FBI special agent who makes his first appearance in the season eight episode "Within". Doggett served in the United States Marine Corps from the 1970s to the '80s. Later, he started to work with the New York Police Department, eventually being promoted to the rank of detective. After his son's death he joined the Criminal Investigations Division of the FBI. In 2000, Alvin Kersh assigned him to the X-Files office as Dana Scully's partner after an unsuccessful task-force attempt to find missing agent Fox Mulder in "Without". He did not appear in either of The X-Files feature films.
  • Monica Reyes (season 8, recurring; season 9, main) – is portrayed by Annabeth Gish. Reyes is an FBI special agent who was born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico, where her parents still live (as of 2002). Because she was raised in Mexico, Reyes speaks fluent Spanish. She majored in folklore and mythology at Brown University, and has a master's degree in religious studies. In 1990, Reyes enrolled in the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia. Her first assignment in the FBI was serving on a special task force investigating satanic rituals. She is a longtime friend of Agent John Doggett and becomes his replacement partner on the X-Files after the departure of Agent Dana Scully. Reyes was last seen in the New Mexico desert in 2002, where she warns Mulder and Scully of the arrival of Knowle Rohrer. She did not appear in either of The X-Files feature films.



"Mulder and Scully came right out of my head. A dichotomy. They are the equal parts of my desire to believe in something and my inability to believe in something. My skepticism and my faith. And the writing of the characters came very easily to me. I want, like a lot of people do, to have the experience of witnessing a paranormal phenomenon. At the same time I want not to accept it, but to question it. I think those characters and those voices came out of that duality."

-Chris Carter on creating the characters of Mulder and Scully.[2]

In 1992 Chris Carter joined Fox as new writer, being tired of unsuccesful comedy shows which he did mostly while at Disney.[3] As his first work, Carter decided to pitch horror series, something as "scary" as his favorite childhood TV show Kolchak: The Night Stalker.[4] But, as the concept progressed, Carter added new details into it. After seeing a FBI agent who investigated satanic cults on the Larry King show Carter became interested in adding FBI to his concept.[4] Recalling 1991's The Silence of the Lambs, he wrote in two FBI agents as main characters.[4] Carter made them a female skeptic and a male believer, thus "shaking" usual gender stereotypes.[2][4] With several other additions, Carter's original writing evolved into the concept of the series about two agents who deal with strange and unusual activities. Carter pitched the idea of the series to Fox, where it was rejected as the producers haven't understood its idea.[5]

Carter decided to revise the concept and pitch it again later. For that he met with scientist from Yale, as a result of conversation with whom he learned that 3 percent of all Americans believed they were kidnapped by aliens.[3][5] Carter fleshed the series' concept out so it focused on paranormal and pitched it once again, this time succesfully.[5] Fox greenlit the production of the series' pilot, but they were very unsure about producing possible season.


Duchovny portrayed Fox Mulder as a main character for the first seven seasons of the series, and as a recurring character in the last two.
Gillian Anderson portrayed Dana Scully for the entire nine seasons of the series; she also made The X-Files history in 2000 by becoming the first female writer and director of an episode.[6]

Glen Morgan and James Wong's early influence on The X-Files mythology led to their introduction of popular secondary characters who would continue for years in episodes written by others, such as the Scully family: Dana's father, William (Don S. Davis); her mother, Margaret (Sheila Larken); and her sister, Melissa (Melinda McGraw). The conspiracy-buff trio The Lone Gunmen were also secondary characters.[7]

David Duchovny had worked in Los Angeles for three years prior to The X-Files; at first he wanted to base his acting career around films. But in 1993 his manager, Melanie Green, gave him a script of the "pilot episode" of The X-Files. Green and Duchovny were both convinced it was a good script, so he auditioned for the lead.[8] Duchovny's audition was "terrific", though he had talked rather slowly, and while the casting director of the show was very positive toward Duchovny, Chris Carter thought that he wasn't particularly bright. This inspired him to ask Duchovny if he could "please" imagine himself as an FBI agent in "future" episodes. Duchovny turned out to be one of the best-read people Carter knew.[9]

Gillian Anderson auditioned for the role of Dana Scully in 1993. "I couldn’t put the script down," she recalled.[6] The executives at Fox disagreed with writer-director Chris Carter's choice of Anderson: they wanted someone with "less radiance and more sex appeal" for the role of Scully.[6] Carter insisted that Anderson had the kind of no-nonsense integrity that the role required. Proving his instincts correct, Anderson won numerous awards during the nine years The X-Files was on television: Screen Actors Guild Award (1996 and 1997); the Emmy Award (1997); and a Golden Globe Award (1997).[6] It was on the set of The X-Files that Anderson met her future husband, Clyde Klotz, who was the series’ assistant art director at the time. Anderson and Klotz had a daughter, Piper, during filming of the series.[10]

The character Walter Skinner was played by actor Mitch Pileggi, who had unsuccessfully auditioned for the roles of two or three other characters on The X-Files before getting the part. At first, the fact that he was asked back to audition for the recurring role slightly puzzled him, until he discovered the reason he had not previously been cast in those roles — Carter had been unable to envision Pileggi as any of those characters, because the actor had been shaving his head. When the actor had attended the audition for Walter Skinner, he had been in a grumpy mood and had allowed his small amount of hair to grow back. Pileggi's attitude fit well with Walter Skinner's character, causing Carter to assume that the actor was only pretending to be grumpy. Pileggi later realized he had been lucky that he had not been cast in one of the earlier roles, as he believed he would have appeared in only a single episode and would have missed the opportunity to play Walter Skinner's recurring role.[11]

After Duchovny's semi-departure following the seventh season of the show, the producers introduced Special Agent John Jay Doggett, played by actor Robert Patrick. Carter believed that the series could continue for another ten years with new leads, and the opening credits were accordingly redesigned in both seasons eight and nine to emphasize the new actors (along with Pileggi, who was finally listed as a main character).[12] The show's future was not to be, however, because over the course of the final two seasons, John Doggett's presence gave only a small ratings boost.[13] Following the launch and US commercial failure of spinoff show The Lone Gunmen, whose March 2001 premiere episode dealt with an airplane being hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center, writers also found it hard to deal with stock X-Files themes in the wake of the September 11 attacks.[citation needed] At the start of the ninth season, viewership declined by 29 percent in the United States alone, and the series was soon canceled.[citation needed]

Casting Director Rick Millikan repeatedly cast many of the same actors in different roles through-out the series, sometimes only a few episodes after they had appeared as a completely different character. Just a few of those actors include Tasha Simms, Kate Twa, Nicholas Lea, Gillian Barber, Gabrielle Miller and Kerry Sandomirsky.


"The End" was the last episode to be filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia (pictured), closing season 5. The show produced 117 episodes in Canada before moving to Los Angeles in its sixth season.

The first five seasons of The X-Files were filmed and produced in Vancouver, British Columbia, but they eventually moved down to the United States when David Duchovny had been unhappy with his geographical separation from his wife Téa Leoni, although his discontent was popularly attributed to frustration with climatic conditions in Vancouver.[14] Gillian Anderson also wanted to return home to the United States, and Chris Carter decided to move production to Los Angeles following the fifth season. The season ended in May 1998 with "The End", the final episode shot in Vancouver and the final episode with the involvement of many of the original crew members who had worked on the show for its previous five years, including director and producer R.W. Goodwin and his wife Sheila Larken (who played Margaret Scully and would later return briefly).[15][16]

With the move to Los Angeles, California in season six, many changes behind the scenes occurred, as much of the original X-Files crew was gone. New production designer Corey Kaplan, editor Lynne Willingham, writer David Amann, and director and producer Michael Watkins would stay on for several years. Bill Roe became the show's new director of photography, and episodes generally had a drier, brighter look due to the sunshine and climate of California, as compared with the rain, fog and temperate forests of Vancouver. Early in the sixth season, the producers took advantage of the new location, setting the show in parts of the country they had not been able to write episodes in previously.[17] For example, Vince Gilligan's "Drive" (about a man subject to an unexplained illness) was a frenetic action episode, unusual for The X-Files, not least due to its setting on roads in the stark desert of Nevada. The "Dreamland" two-part episode was also set in Nevada, this time in the legendary Area 51. It marked another comedy outing for the show, in a season increasingly light in tone, with guest star Michael McKean playing man in black Morris Fletcher, who switches bodies with Fox Mulder during the course of the episodes. It is the only non-mythology two-part episode of The X-Files.[18]

The X-Files crew later returned to Vancouver to film The X-Files: I Want to Believe. According to Spotnitz, the script was written specifically for these locations.[19] Filming began in December 2007 in Vancouver under the direction of Carter,[20] and shooting finished on March 11, 2008.[19][21]


Composer Mark Snow got involved with The X-Files through his friendship with executive producer R.W. Goodwin. Initially when the production staff was talking about who was going to take the composing duties, Chris Carter didn't know whom to ask. About "10–15" people were looked at, but Goodwin continued to press for Snow getting the chief composer duties. Snow auditioned around three times, but he didn't get any signs from the production staff as to whether they wanted him. Then one day, Snow's agent called him, talking about the "pilot episode", and hinting that he had got the part.[22]

The theme music, "The X-Files", used more instrumental music score than most hour-long dramas. According to the "Behind the Truth" segment on the Season 1 DVD, Snow created the echo effect on his famous theme music by accident. He said that he had gone through several revisions, but Carter felt that something was not quite right. Carter walked out of the room and Snow put his hand and forearm on his keyboard in frustration. Snow said, "this sound was in the keyboard. And that was it."[23] The second episode, "Deep Throat", marked Snow's debut as solo composer for an entire episode of The X-Files. The production crew members were very careful about using too much music in the early episodes of the series.[24]

Snow also composed the soundtrack score for The X-Files: I Want to Believe and released the soundtrack album The X-Files: I Want to Believe: Original Motion Picture Score. He recorded the score with the Hollywood Studio Symphony in May 2008 at the Newman Scoring Stage at 20th Century Fox in Century City, California.[25] British performers in UNKLE recorded a new version of the theme music for the end credits to the movie.[26] Some of the unusual sounds were created by a variation of silly putty and dimes tucked between and over the strings of the piano. Mark Snow also commented that the fast percussion featured in some tracks was inspired by the track "Prospectors Quartet" from the There Will Be Blood soundtrack.[27]

Opening title sequence

The new opening sequence for season eight, featuring Robert Patrick

The original opening sequence was made in 1993 for the first season and remained unchanged throughout the series, until David Duchovny left the show as a main character in season seven. When they created the opening credits, Chris Carter found a video operator to stretch the face seen in the credits. It is probably one of the best known parts of the sequence. As Rabwin put it, the music and the special effects lead to an opening sequence "never seen on television before."[23]

The premiere episode of season eight, "Within", marked the first major change to the opening credits. Along with the addition of Robert Patrick to the main cast, the sequence used new images and updated photos for Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, (although Duchovny only appears in the opening credits when he himself appears in an episode). The titles had never been changed in the series' seven-year run, so Carter and the production staff saw this as a chance to change the opening credits because Duchovny was leaving the series. The opening sequence shows various pictures of Scully's pregnancy and according to Frank Spotnitz showed an "abstract" way of Fox Mulder's absence in the eight season, seeing him fall into the eye (supposed to be Scully's) being shown prior to the change.[12]

When creating the opening sequence for season nine, they decided to create a new sequence to give birth to the "new X-Files". The reason behind this was that Gillian Anderson wanted to move on, so the production crew moved up Monica Reyes and Walter Skinner to main characters of the show to illustrate that season nine was not like the previous seasons. With Duchovny's return to the show and the opening credits for the two-part series finale, "The Truth", this marked the most number of cast members (five) to be featured in the opening credits of the show.[28]

The X-Files (1998)

In summer 1998 the series produced a feature-length motion picture, The X-Files, also known as The X-Files: Fight the Future. The crew intended the movie to be a continuation of the season five finale "The End", but was also meant to stand on its own. The season six premiere, "The Beginning", picked up where the film left off. The majority of the film was shot in the break between the show's fourth and fifth seasons.[29]

The film was written by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz and directed by series regular Rob Bowman. In addition to Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Walter Skinner, and the Cigarette Smoking Man, it featured guest appearances by Martin Landau, Armin Mueller-Stahl, and Blythe Danner as characters that appeared only in the film (though Mueller-Stahl's Conrad Strughold is later mentioned in the series). It also had the last X-Files appearance by John Neville as the Well-Manicured Man. Jeffrey Spender, Diana Fowley, Alex Krycek, and Gibson Praise do not appear in the film. The film had a strong domestic opening and got mostly positive reviews from critics. However, its box office dropped sharply after the first weekend. Although it failed to make a profit during theatrical release, due to a very high promotional budget, The X-Files film was more successful internationally. Anderson and Duchovny received equal pay for the film, unlike their original contracts for the series.[29] The worldwide theatrical box office total was $189 million. The film's production cost was close to $66 million, and its advertising budget was similar.[30]

Departure of David Duchovny

During the show's seventh season, star David Duchovny decided to leave the show. Many suggestions were offered as to why, from contract disputes to Duchovny seeking more film roles. In his place, the show cast Robert Patrick as Agent John Doggett. Patrick remained on the show until the series finale the following season.

Themes and allusions

In parallel to its character development, episodes of The X-Files include a number of mysterious elements that draw from science fiction and/or paranormal phenomena. The creators of the series refer to these elements as composing the "mythology" of the series, and they form the basis of fan speculation. Among the show's mythological elements are the "Monster-of-the-Week" characters, the government conspiracy, the "Syndicate", and the Colonists.

During its earlier seasons, episodes mostly covered miscellaneous murders and monsters of the week, such as Season One's Eugene Tooms in "Squeeze" and "Tooms", and "The Jersey Devil", based on the legendary Jersey Devil of New Jersey. As the series progressed, it delved more deeply into its alien mythology. The first episode of season 8, "Within" explores "loss", "loneliness" and "pain" after the disappearance of Fox Mulder.[31] "Per Manum" includes the basic themes for the series' "dark, foreboding terror", overriding sense of "paranoia" and "the fear of the unknown" among others.[32] Death and resurrection emerged as a major sub-theme during the season starting with "The Gift", in which John Doggett was resurrected and later in "Deadalive" when Mulder was awakened from his deathbed. This sub-theme would continue well into the ninth season.[33] The main story theme prior to this one alluded that humanity is a greater danger to itself, even with all our technology and progress. The main theme has focused most of its years on humanity's resurrection and salvation from itself, (the Syndicate), and the threat outside (the Aliens). Some other themes are rebirth, life, and belief as seen in "This Is Not Happening" and "Deadalive".[33]

Broadcast and release


Nielsen ratings

Season Time Slot Premiere Finale Ranking Viewers
(in million)
Season 1 Fridays at 9:00 p.m. September 10, 1993 May 12, 1994 #79 7.1
Season 2 September 16, 1994 May 19, 1995 #71[34] 9.2[34]
Season 3 September 22, 1995 May 17, 1996 #50[35] 10.0[35]
Season 4 Sundays at 9:00 p.m. October 4, 1996 May 18, 1997 #22[36] 10.86[36]
Season 5 November 2, 1997 May 17, 1998 #11[37] 17.1[37]
Season 6 November 8, 1998 May 16, 1999 #12[38] 15.3[38]
Season 7 November 7, 1999 May 21, 2000 #29[39] 12.63[39]
Season 8 November 5, 2000 May 20, 2001 #31[40] 13.0[40]
Season 9 November 11, 2001 May 19, 2002 #67[41] 9.1[41]

The first season averaged a Nielsen rating of 7.0, a share of 12.3, a household rating of 6,696,000 and the average viewership was 7,100,000.[42] During its second season, The X-Files finished 64th out of 141 shows, a marked improvement from the first season. The ratings were not spectacular, but the series had attracted enough fans to be classified as a "cult hit", particularly by Fox standards. Most importantly it made great gains among the 18-to-49 age demographic sought by advertisers.[43]

Some longtime fans were alienated by the show in season six, due to the different tone taken by most stand-alone episodes after the move to Los Angeles, California[44] Rather than adhering to the previous style of "monsters of the week", they were often romantic or gently humorous or both, such as "Arcadia" and "Terms of Endearment". Meanwhile, some fans felt there was no coherent plan to the main storyline, that Carter was "making it all up as he goes along".[44] The show ended season six with solid ratings but its lowest average since season two, beginning a decline that would continue for the show's final three years.[42] This may have been due to different competition on Sunday nights or because viewers felt the show had dropped in quality. The producers acknowledged they had been trying to do something different from previous years in season six. The X-Files was nevertheless Fox's highest-rated show that year.[45] In 1998 alone, the series was broadcast in more than 90 countries worldwide.[46]

Season eight episode "This Is Not Happening" received the highest Nielsen household rating of the eighth season. It earned a 10.6 rating, with a 15 share, being viewed by 10.8 million households and gathered around 16.8 million total. The season premiere, "Within", received the second strongest rating, getting a 9.5 in rating, 13 in share, 9.7 million in households and gathered 15.8 million viewers around the United States. "Per Manum" gathered the most viewers in the season, gathering around 16.9 million. "Salvage" was the least-viewed episode of the season and gathered the lowest rating and share. The season average was 8.2 in ratings, 12 in share, 8.3 million in households and 13.5 million viewers, a small rise from the previous season.[42] The three first episodes of season eight averaged about 13 million viewers, while season seven's three first episodes averaged about 12.9 million viewers.[13] The series finale "The Truth" became the lowest season finale for the series since season two's "Anasazi".[42] By its final airing, The X-Files had become the longest-running science fiction series ever on US broadcast television. This record was later surpassed by Stargate SG-1.[47]


On May 19, 2002, the series finale aired, and the Fox network confirmed that The X-Files was not being renewed for a tenth season.[28] When talking about the beginning of the ninth season, Chris Carter said "We lost our audience on the first episode. It's like the audience had gone away, and I didn't know how to find them. I didn't want to work to get them back because I believed what we are doing deserved to have them back."[48] While news outlets cited declining ratings because of "dull" episodes and "boring" characters, The X-Files production crew blamed 9/11 as the main reason for a decline in viewership.[49]

In November 2001, Carter and the production crew decided to pursue a second film adaptation of the series, following the 1998 film. Carter was expected to collaborate with Frank Spotnitz, who had co-written the first film, on a script for the follow-up. Production of the film was slated to begin after the completion of the ninth season of the television series, with a projected release in December 2003.[50] In April 2002, Carter reiterated his desire and the studio's desire to do a sequel film. He planned to write the script over the summer and begin production in Spring or Summer 2003 for a 2004 release.[51] Carter described the film as independent of the series, "We're looking at the movies as stand-alones. They're not necessarily going to have to deal with the mythology."[52] Director Rob Bowman, who had directed various episodes of The X-Files in the past as well as the 1998 film, expressed an interest in filming the sequel in July 2002,[53] but it was later known that Carter was going to take over director duties for the film.[54]

The X-Files: I Want to Believe became the second movie based on the series, after 1998's The X-Files: Fight the Future. Filming took place in Vancouver and ended on March 11, 2008. The movie was directed by Carter and co-written with Frank Spotnitz. It was released in the US on July 25, 2008. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Chris Carter said that if I Want to Believe proved successful, he would propose that a third movie return to the television series' mythology and focus on the alien invasion foretold within the series, due to occur in December 2012.[55]

Speaking at the world premiere of Johnny English Reborn, on September 5, 2011, Gillian Anderson indicated that "there is talk" of a third X-Files movie. [56]

Home video release

All nine seasons have been released on DVD along with the two X-Files films.[57] The entire series was re-released on DVD in late 2005 and early 2006, in a "slimmer" package, without some bonus materials that were featured in the original fold-out versions. Seasons six, seven, and eight contain all of the bonus materials found in the original versions. All other seasons in the US region 1 DVDs are missing the additional special features. European editions of the slim sets include all the features of the original packages. Episodes have also been released on DVD, such as Deadalive, Existence, Nothing Important Happened Today, Providence, and The Truth in Region 2. Various other episode home releases have been released on DVD and VHS. In 2005, four DVD sets were released containing the main story arc episodes of The X-Files. The four being Volume 1 – Abduction, Volume 2 – Black Oil, Volume 3 – Colonization and Volume 4 – Super Soldiers.[58] A boxed set containing all nine seasons and the first film was made available in 2007. The special features from the initial releases are intact. The set also includes an additional disc of new bonus features and a set of collectibles, including a poster for the first film, a comic book, a set of collector cards, and a guide to all 202 episodes across all nine seasons and the first film. Since the set was released in 2007, the second film (which was released in 2008) is not included.


Critical response

Ian Burrell from the British newspaper The Independent called the show "one of the greatest cult shows in modern television."[59] Richard Corliss from Time magazine called the show the "cultural touchstone of" the '90s.[60] Hal Boedeker from the Orlando Sentinel said in 1996 that the series had grown from a cult favorite to a television "classic".[61] The Evening Herald said the show had "overwhelming influence" on television, in front of such shows as The Simpsons.[62] Virgin Media said the most memorable monster-of-the-week was "Eugene Tooms" from "Squeeze" and "Tooms".[63]

The "pilot episode" was generally well-received by fans and critics. Variety criticized the episode for "using reworked concepts", but praised the production and noted its potential. Of the acting, Variety said "Duchovny's delineation of a serious scientist with a sense of humor should win him partisans, and Anderson's wavering doubter connects well. They're a solid team...". Variety also praised the writing and direction: "Mandel's cool direction of Carter's ingenious script and the artful presentation itself give TV sci-fi a boost." The magazine concluded, "Carter's dialogue is fresh without being self-conscious, and the characters are involving. Series kicks off with drive and imagination, both innovative in recent TV."[64] Entertainment Weekly said that Scully "was set up as a scoffing skeptic" in the pilot but progressed toward belief throughout the season.[65] After the airing of four episodes, the magazine called The X-Files "the most paranoid, subversive show on TV", noting the "marvelous tension between Anderson—who is dubious about these events—and Duchovny, who has the haunted, imploring look of a true believer".[66]

Amy H. Sturgis commended the eighth season, praising Anderson's performance as Scully as "excellence" and said the new character John Doggett was "non-Mulderish".[67] Collin Polonowonski from DVD Times said that the season included "more hits than misses overall" and offered a negative word about the mythology episodes claiming them to be the "weakest" episodes in the season.[68] Jesse Hassenger from PopMatters criticized the new season, claiming that Robert Patrick was miscast and calling David Duchovny's appearances as Fox Mulder shallow.[69]

Awards and nominations

The X-Files has received 26 awards and has been nominated for 102. These nominations and awards have been in diverse categories (including, but not limited to, editing, acting, drama, and makeup).

Capping off its successful first season, The X-Files crew members James Castle, Bruce Bryant, and Carol Johnsen won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Graphic Design and Title Sequences in 1994. In 1995 the show would be nominated for seven Emmy Awards but won none. While the following year, the show won five Emmy Awards out of eight nominations. In 1997, The X-Files only won three awards out of twelve. In 1998, the show won one Emmy out of fifteen nominations. The X-Files won one Emmy Award in 1999 out of eight nominations, in the category "Outstanding Makeup for a Series". Season seven of The X-Files won three Emmy Awards out of six nominations. The following season wouldn't be as successful, capping only two nominations and winning one in the category "Outstanding Makeup for a Series" for "Deadalive". The season finale, "The Truth" was the only episode or work of the ninth season to be nominated for an Emmy Award. Mark Snow was nominated in the category "Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore)", but lost.[70]


As The X-Files saw its viewership expand from a "small, but devoted" group of fans to a worldwide mass cult audience,[71][72] digital telecommunications were also becoming mainstream. According to The New York Times, "this may have been the first show to find its audience growth tied to the growth of the Internet."[73] The X-Files was seen to incorporate new technologies into storylines beginning in the early seasons:[74] Mulder and Scully communicated on cellular phones, e-mail contact with secret informants provided plot points in episodes such as "Colony" and "Anasazi", while The Lone Gunmen were portrayed as Internet aficionados as early as 1994. Many X-Files fans also had online access. Fans of the show became commonly known as "X-Philes", a term coined (from the Greek root "-phil-" meaning love or obsession) on an early Fidonet X-Files message board. In addition to watching the show, X-Philes reviewed episodes themselves on unofficial websites, formed communities with other fans through Usenet newsgroups and listservs,[75] and wrote their own fan fiction.[76]

The X-Files also "caught on with viewers who wouldn't ordinarily consider themselves sci-fi fans."[71] Chris Carter said the show was plot-driven, while many fans saw it as character-driven.[76] David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were characterized as being "Internet sex symbols."[73] As the show grew in popularity, subgroups of fans developed, such as "shippers" hoping for a romantic or sexual partnership between Mulder and Scully, or those who already perceived one between the lines.[76] Other groups arose to pay tribute to the stars,[75] their characters,[77] while others joined the subculture of "slash" fiction.[76] As of summer 1996, a journalist wrote, "there are entire forums online devoted to the 'M/S' relationship."[75] In addition to "MOTW" (monster of the week), Internet fans invented acronyms such as "UST" (unresolved sexual tension) and "COTR" (conversation on the rock) to aid in their discussions of the agents' relationship, which was itself identified as the "MSR."[78]

The producers did not endorse some fans' readings, according to a study on the subject: "Not content to allow Shippers to perceive what they wish, Carter has consistently reassured NoRomos [those against the idea of a Mulder/Scully romance] that theirs is the preferred reading. This allows him the plausible deniability to credit the show's success to his original plan even though many watched in anticipation of a romance, thanks, in part, to his strategic polysemy. He can deny that these fans had reason to do so, however, since he has repeatedly stated that a romance was not and would never be." The Scully-obsessed writer in Carter's 1999 episode "Milagro" was read by some as his alter ego, realizing that by this point "she has fallen for Mulder despite his authorial intent."[76] Writers sometimes paid tribute to the more visible fans by naming minor characters after them, the best example of this is Leyla Harrison, introduced in the episode Alone.[12]


The X-Files spawned an industry of spin-off products from 1993–present. In 2004, The US-based Topps Comics and,[79] most recently, DC Comics imprint Wildstorm launched a new series of licensed tie-in comics based on The X-Files.[80] The Fox Broadcasting Company publishes the official The X-Files Magazine.[81] The X-Files Collectible Card Game was released in 1996, and an expansion set was released in 1997.[82] The X-Files has inspired three video games. In 1998, The X-Files Game was released for the PC and Macintosh and a year later for the PlayStation. This game is set within the timeline of the second or third season and follows an Agent Craig Willmore in his search for the missing Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.[83] In 2000, Fox Interactive released The X-Files: Unrestricted Access, a game-style database for Windows and Mac, which allowed users access to every case file.[84] Then, in 2004, The X-Files: Resist or Serve was a survival-horror game released for the PlayStation 2. This game is an original story set in the seventh season and allows the player control of both Mulder and Scully. Both games feature acting and voice work from members of the series' cast.[85] The X-Files Collectible Card Game (XF:CCG or X-Files CCG) was also a collectible card game based on the X-Files fictional universe. It was created by the US Playing Card Company (USPCC).


The X-Files directly inspired numerous other TV series, including Strange World,[71][86] The Burning Zone,[87] Special Unit 2, Mysterious Ways,[88] Lost, Carnivàle, The Dead Zone, Dark Skies, So Weird, The Visitor,[71] with numerous key aspects being carried on to more standard crime dramas, such as Eleventh Hour and Bones,[89] and having the strongest similarities to Fringe.[90] The X-Files is parodied in The Simpsons episode "The Springfield Files", which was part of The Simpsons eighth season and aired on January 12, 1997, during The X-Files' peak in popularity. In it, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully (voiced by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson) are sent to Springfield to investigate an alien sighting by Homer Simpson, but end up finding no evidence other than Homer's word and depart. The Cigarette Smoking Man appears in the background when Homer is interviewed, and the show's theme plays whenever the "alien" is on screen, albeit a rather animated version.[91] Nathan Ditum from Total Film ranked Duchovny and Anderson's performances as the fourth best guest appearances in The Simpsons history.[92] In the Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode Trials and Tribbleations, Sisko is interviewed by Federation Department of Temporal Investigations agents Dulmer and Lucsly, anagrams of Mulder and Scully respectively. The pair were later expanded upon in Christopher L. Bennett's book Watching the Clock.

Mulder's office

The influence can be seen on other levels: television series such as Alias have developed a complex mythology that may bring to mind the "mythology" of The X-Files. In terms of characterization, the role of Dana Scully was seen as somewhat original, causing a change in "how women [on television] were not just perceived but behaved", and perhaps influencing the portrayal of "strong women" investigators.[93] Russell T Davies said The X-Files had been an inspiration on his current British series Torchwood, describing it as "dark, wild and sexy... The X-Files meets This Life".[94][95] Other shows have been influenced by the tone and mood of The X-Files. For example, Buffy the Vampire Slayer drew from the mood and coloring of The X-Files, as well as from its occasional blend of horror and humor. Joss Whedon described his show as a cross between The X-Files and My So-Called Life.[96]

The show's well-known catchphrase "The Truth Is Out There" was among Britain's top 60 best-known slogans and quotes.[97] Welsh music act Catatonia released the 1996 single "Mulder and Scully", which became a huge hit in the UK and one of many impacts The X-Files had on pop culture.[98] In 2004 and 2007, The X-Files was ranked #2 on TV Guide's Top Cult Shows Ever[99][100] and in 2002, was ranked the 37th best television show of all time.[101] In 1997, the episodes "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" and "Small Potatoes" were respectively ranked #10 and #72 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.[102] In 2007, Time magazine included it on a list of the "100 Best TV Shows of All Time."[103] In 2008, Entertainment Weekly named it the fourth-best piece of science fiction media,[104] the fourth best TV show in the last 25 years[105] and in 2009, named it the fourth-best piece of science fiction, in their list of the 20 Greatest Sci-Fi TV Shows in history.[106] Empire magazine ranked The X-Files ninth best TV show in history, further claiming that the best episode was "Jose Chung's From Outer Space".[107] According to The Guardian, MediaDNA research discovered that The X-Files was on top of the list of the most innovative TV brands.[108] On July 16, 2008 Carter and Frank Spotnitz donated several props from the series and new film to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Some of the items included the original pilot script and the poster "I Want to Believe" from Mulder's office.[109][110]

The Series is also responsible for the WB and CW Series Supernatural which not only borrows much of its format from "The X-Files" but makes numerous references to it through out its run as well as shared producers and directors such as Kim Manners, John Shiban, and David Nutter.

Influences on the show

Chris Carter listed television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, Tales from the Darkside and especially Kolchak: The Night Stalker as his major influences for the show. Carter said, "Remembering that show, which I loved, I said to the FOX executives, 'There's nothing scary on network television anymore. Let's do a scary show.'" Actor Darren McGavin, who played Carl Kolchak in Kolchak: The Night Stalker, appeared in two episodes of The X-Files as Agent Arthur Dales.

Carter has mentioned that the relationship between Mulder and Scully (platonic but with sexual tension) was influenced by the chemistry between John Steed (Patrick Macnee) and Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) in the 1960s British spy TV program The Avengers.[111] One journalist documented possible influence from Nigel Kneale's Quatermass series and its various television and film iterations. Kneale was invited to write for The X-Files, but declined the offer.[112] The early 1990s cult hit Twin Peaks is seen as a major influence on the show's dark atmosphere and its often surreal blend of drama and irony. David Duchovny had appeared as a cross-dressing DEA agent in Twin Peaks, and the Mulder character was seen as a parallel to the show's FBI Agent Dale Cooper.[113]

The producers and writers have cited All the President's Men, Three Days of the Condor, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Rashomon, The Thing, The Boys from Brazil, The Silence of the Lambs, and JFK as influences on the series.[114] A scene at the end of the episode "Redux II", for instance, directly mirrors the famous baptism montage at the end of The Godfather. Chris Carter's use of continuous takes in "Triangle" was modeled on Hitchcock's Rope. Other episodes written by Carter made numerous references to other films, as did those by Darin Morgan.[16]


Country Network Notes
 Albania Digi+ The dialogue is subtitled.
 Argentina FX The dialogue is subtitled.
 Armenia REN TV The dialogue is dubbed.
Australia Australia Seven Network (2004-2006), Ten Network (mid 1990's-2003) The dialogue is not dubbed.
 Austria ORF1 The dialogue is dubbed.
 Bangladesh Zee Cafe The dialogue is not dubbed.
 Belarus REN TV The dialogue is dubbed.
Belgium Belgium vtm/VIJF tv The dialogue is subtitled.
 Bolivia FX The dialogue is subtitled.
Brazil Brazil FX
Rede Record
The dialogue is in English with audio captions.
The dialogue was completely dubbed to Portuguese.
Bulgaria Bulgaria Channel 1 (sesons 1-6)
bTV Cinema (currently)
Aired as Досиетата Х, dialogue is dubbed and later redubbed for bTV Cinema.
Canada Canada Global
The dialogue is not dubbed.
The dialogue was completely dubbed to French.
 Chile TCM LA Dual Audio: English/dubbed Spanish. Commenced 19 september 2011.
 Colombia FX The dialogue is subtitled.
 Costa Rica FX
The dialogue is subtitled. Teletica broadcast is Latin American-Spanish dubbed.
 Croatia Croatian Radiotelevision The dialogue is subtitled. Aired as Dosjei X.
Cuba Cuba Telerebelde The dialogue is subtitled.
Cyprus Cyprus LTV The dialogue is subtitled.
Czech Republic Czech Republic TV Nova The dialogue is dubbed. Aired as Akta X.
Denmark Denmark TV3 Puls The dialogue is subtitled.
 Dominican Republic FX The dialogue is subtitled.
 Ecuador FX The dialogue is subtitled.
 El Salvador FX The dialogue is subtitled.
Estonia Estonia TV6 The dialogue is subtitled. Aired as Salatoimikud.
Finland Finland MTV3 The dialogue is subtitled. Aired as Salaiset kansiot.
France France M6 The dialogue is dubbed. Aired as X-Files : Aux frontières du réel.
Germany Germany ProSieben The dialogue is dubbed. Aired as Akte X – Die unheimlichen Fälle des FBI.
Greece Greece Star Channel, ANT1 The dialogue is subtitled.
 Guatemala FX The dialogue is subtitled.
 Honduras FX The dialogue is subtitled.
 Hong Kong STAR World The dialogue is subtitled.
Hungary Hungary Cool TV The dialogue is dubbed. Aired as X-akták.
 Iceland Stöð 2 The dialogue is subtitled.
India India Zee Café The dialogue is not dubbed.
 Indonesia STAR World The dialogue is subtitled.
Republic of Ireland Ireland RTE 2 The dialogue is not dubbed.
Israel Israel Channel 2 The dialogue is subtitled.
Italy Italy Italia 1 The dialogue is dubbed.
Japan Japan WOWOW Bilingual broadcast in Japanese and English.
 Kazakhstan REN TV The dialogue is dubbed.
 Kenya Kenya Television Network The dialogue is subtitled.
 Latvia TV3 The dialogue is subtitled.
 Lithuania TV3 The dialogue is subtitled.
Republic of Macedonia Macedonia A1 The dialogue is subtitled.
Malaysia Malaysia STAR World,TV2 The dialogue is subtitled.
 Mexico FX The dialogue is subtitled.
Netherlands Netherlands NET 5 The dialogue is subtitled.
 New Zealand TV One The dialogue is not dubbed.
 Nicaragua FX The dialogue is subtitled.
Norway Norway TV 2 The dialogue is subtitled.
 Pakistan STAR World The dialogue is subtitled.
 Panama FX The dialogue is subtitled.
 Paraguay FX The dialogue is subtitled.
 Peru FX The dialogue is subtitled.
Philippines Philippines STAR World The dialogue is subtitled.
Poland Poland TVP2 Polish lector. Aired as Z Archiwum X.
Portugal Portugal TVI The dialogue is subtitled.
 Puerto Rico WAPA-TV Spanish traduction
South Korea Republic of Korea KBS2 Bilingual broadcast in Korean and English.
Romania Romania PRO TV, PRO Cinema The dialogue is subtitled. Aired as Dosarele X.
Russia Russia REN TV Aired as Секретные материалы, dialogue is dubbed.
 Serbia RTS1, RTS2 The dialogue is subtitled.
 Singapore STAR World The dialogue is subtitled.
Slovakia Slovakia TV Markíza The dialogue is dubbed. Aired as Akty X.
Slovenia Slovenia POP TV The dialogue is subtitled. Aired as Dosjeji X.
South Africa South Africa M-net The dialogue is not dubbed.
Spain Spain Fox, Antena 3 The dialogue is dubbed.
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka Rupavahini The dialogue is subtitled.
Sweden Sweden Kanal 5
TV4 Guld (currently)
The dialogue is subtitled.
 Switzerland SF zwei, TSR1 In German, Italian and French.
 Taiwan STAR World The dialogue is subtitled.
 Thailand STAR World The dialogue is subtitled.
Turkey Turkey CNBC-e The dialogue is subtitled.
Ukraine Ukraine REN TV The dialogue is dubbed.
United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates Fox Series
OSN First
The dialogue is subtitled.
United Kingdom United Kingdom Sky Atlantic The dialogue is not dubbed.
United States United States Fox The dialogue is not dubbed.
 Uruguay FX The dialogue is subtitled.
 Venezuela FX The dialogue is subtitled.



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Further reading


  • Cavelos, Jeanne. The Science of the X-Files (New York : Berkley Boulevard Books, 1998), 288 pp.
  • Genge, N.E. The Unofficial X-Files (New York: Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1995), 228 pp.
  • Hatfield, James; and Burt, George "Doc". The Unauthorized X-Files (New York: MJF Books, 1996), 309 pp.
  • Kowalski, Dean A. (ed.), The Philosophy of The X-Files (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2007), 275 pp.
  • Lavery, David (ed.), Deny All Knowledge: Reading The X-Files (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1996), 280 pp.
  • Lovece, Frank. The X-Files Declassified (New York, N.Y.: Citadel Press, 1996), 246 pp.
  • Lowry, Brian. Trust No One: The Official Third Season Guide to The X-Files (New York: Harper Prism, 1996), 266 pp.


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