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The X-Files

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The X-Files
Genre Science fiction
Created by Chris Carter
Starring David Duchovny
Gillian Anderson
Robert Patrick
Annabeth Gish
Mitch Pileggi
Composer(s) Mark Snow
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 9
No. of episodes 202 ( List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Chris Carter
R. W. Goodwin
Howard Gordon
Frank Spotnitz
Vince Gilligan
John Shiban
Kim Manners
Glen Morgan
James Wong
Michelle MacLaren
Michael W. Watkins
David Greenwalt
Location(s) Vancouver (seasons 1–5)
Los Angeles (seasons 6–9)
Running time 44 minutes
Production company(s) Ten Thirteen Productions
20th Century Fox Television
Distributor 20th 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

The X-Files is an American science fiction horror drama television series. It is part of The X-Files franchise, created by Chris Carter. The program originally aired from September 10, 1993 (1993-09-10) to May 19, 2002 (2002-05-19), spanning nine seasons and 202 episodes. The series recounted the exploits of FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder ( David Duchovny) and Dana Scully ( Gillian Anderson) who investigate X-Files: marginalized, unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena. Mulder believes in the existence of aliens and the paranormal while Scully, a skeptic, is assigned to make scientific analyses of Mulder's discoveries that debunk Mulder's work and thus return him to mainstream cases. 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 becomes a romance by series end. In addition to the series-spanning story arc, " Monster-of-the-Week" episodes formed roughly two-thirds of the episodes. In such stand-alone episodes, Mulder and Scully investigated strange crimes that had no effect on the show's mythology, though the episodes enriched the show's background.

The X-Files was inspired by shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, Tales from the Darkside and especially Kolchak: The Night Stalker. When creating the main characters, Carter sought to reverse the usual gender stereotypes and made Mulder a believer and Scully a skeptic. For the first seven seasons, the show featured Duchovny and Anderson equally. In the last two seasons Anderson became the star, while Duchovny appeared intermittently, following a lawsuit. New main 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 main character. The first five seasons of The X-Files were filmed and produced in Vancouver, British Columbia, but the series eventually moved to Los Angeles, California to accommodate Duchovny.

The X-Files was a hit for the Fox network; initially it was considered a cult show, but eventually gained mainstream popularity. By the time it ended, the show had become the longest-running science fiction series in U.S. television history. The series spawned a spin-off show, and two feature films. The series received largely positive reviews from television critics, although its long-term story arc was criticized near the show's conclusion. The series won multiple Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama and Duchovny and Anderson received multiple award nominations. It became a popular culture touchstone, tapping into public mistrust of governments and large institutions and embracing conspiracy theories and spirituality.

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 its presence on Earth. This set of beliefs earns 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 the claimed abduction of his sister Samantha Mulder by extraterrestrials when Mulder was 12. Her abduction drives Mulder throughout most of the series. Because of this, as well as 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 approaches cases with complete detachment even when Mulder, despite his considerable training, loses his objectivity. Her initial task is to debunk Mulder's theories, supplying logical, scientific explanations for the cases' apparently unexplainable phenomena. Although she is frequently able to offer scientific alternatives to Mulder's deductions, she is rarely able to refute them completely. Over the course of the series, she becomes increasingly dissatisfied with her own ability to approach the cases scientifically.

Various episodes also deal with the relationship between Mulder and Scully, originally platonic, but that later develops romantically. 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 helps her search for him, later involving Reyes, of whom Doggett had professional knowledge. The X-Files 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.


As the show progressed, key episodes, called parts of the " Mytharc", were recognized as the "mythology" of the series canon; these episodes carried the extraterrestrial/conspiracy storyline that evolved throughout the series. " Monster-of-the-Week"—often abbreviated as "MOTW" or "MoW"—came to denote the remainder of The X-Files episodes. These episodes, comprising the majority of the series, dealt with paranormal phenomena, including cryptids and mutants; science fiction technologies; horror monsters; and satiric/ comedic elements. The main story arc involves the agents' efforts to uncover a government conspiracy to hide the existence of extraterrestrials on earth and their sinister collaboration with those governments. 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 destroy the human species. They are usually represented by the The Smoking Man ( William B. Davis), a ruthless killer and a masterful politician and negotiator and the series' principal antagonist.

As the series goes along, Mulder and Scully learn about evidence of the alien invasion piece by piece. It is revealed that the extraterrestrials plan on using a sentient virus, known as the black oil, to infect mankind and turn the population of the world into a slave race. The Syndicate—having made a deal to be spared by the aliens—have been working to develop an alien-human hybrid that will be able to withstand the effects of the black oil. The group has also been secretly working on a vaccine to overcome the black oil; this vaccine is later revealed in the latter parts of season five, as well as the 1998 film. Counter to the alien colonization effort, another faction of aliens, the faceless rebels, are working to stop alien colonization. Eventually, in the season six episodes " Two Fathers"/" One Son", the rebels manage to destroy the Syndicate. The colonists, now without human liaisons, dispatch the " Super Soldiers": beings that resemble humans, but are biologically alien. In the latter parts of season eight, and the whole of season nine, the Super Soldiers manage to replace key individuals in the government, forcing Mulder and Scully to go into hiding.

Cast and characters

  • Fox Mulder (seasons 1–7, main; season 8–9, intermittent lead)  is portrayed by David Duchovny. Mulder is an FBI special agent who believes in the existence of extraterrestrials and a government conspiracy to hide the truth regarding them. He works in the X-Files office, which is concerned with cases marked as unsolvable; most involve supernatural/mysterious circumstances. Mulder considers the X-Files so important that he has made their study his life's main purpose. After his abduction by aliens at the end of season seven, his role in the show diminished and much of his work is taken on by Agent John Doggett. He appeared in an episode of The Lone Gunmen and both the 1998 film The X-Files and the 2008 film The X-Files: I Want to Believe.
  • Dana Scully (seasons 1–9, main)  is portrayed by Gillian Anderson. Scully is an FBI special agent, medical doctor and scientist who is Mulder's partner. In contrast to his credulity, Scully is a skeptic, basing her beliefs on scientific explanations. As the series progresses, she becomes more open to the possibility of paranormal happenings. In the eighth season, she is replaced by Agent Monica Reyes. She appeared in both The X-Files feature films. Anderson met her future husband, Clyde Klotz, the series' assistant art director, on the set. Anderson and Klotz had a daughter, Piper, during the period.
  • 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 Mulder and Scully's direct supervisor. He later serves the same position for Doggett and Reyes. Although he is originally portrayed as somewhat malevolent, he 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 1980s. Later, he started to work with the New York Police Department, reaching the rank of detective. After his son's death, he joined the FBI's Criminal Investigations Division. In 2000, Alvin Kersh assigned him to the X-Files office as Scully's partner after an unsuccessful task force attempt to find Mulder. He did not appear in 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. She majored in folklore and mythology at Brown University and earned a master's degree in religious studies. Her first FBI assignment was serving on a special task force investigating satanic rituals. She is a longtime friend of Doggett's and becomes his partner after Scully's departure. 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 The X-Files feature films.
  • The Smoking Man (seasons 1–7, 9, recurring)  is portrayed by William B. Davis. The Smoking Man is the series' primary villain. In the seventh season episode " Requiem", The Smoking Man is believed to be killed after being pushed down a flight of stairs by Alex Krycek until the series finale " The Truth", where Mulder and Scully travel through remote New Mexico and reach a pueblo where a "wise man" reputedly lives and is revealed to be the Smoking Man. The Smoking Man is later killed by a missile shot from a helicopter. He appears in the 1998 feature film.



"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.
Chris Carter created The X-Files and wrote the series pilot, along with several other episodes.

California native Chris Carter was given the opportunity to produce new shows for the Fox network in the early 1990s. Tired of the comedies he had been working on for Walt Disney Pictures, a report that 3.7 million Americans may have been abducted by aliens, the Watergate scandal and the 1970s horror series Kolchak: The Night Stalker, triggered the idea for The X-Files. He wrote the pilot episode in 1992.

Carter's initial pitch for The X-Files was rejected by Fox executives. He fleshed out the concept and returned a few weeks later, when they commissioned the pilot. Carter worked with NYPD Blue producer Daniel Sackheim to further develop the pilot, drawing stylistic inspiration from the 1988 documentary The Thin Blue Line and the English television series Prime Suspect. Inspiration also came from Carter's memories of The Twilight Zone as well as from the The Silence of the Lambs, which provided the impetus for framing the series around agents from the FBI, in order to provide the characters with a more plausible reason for being involved in each case than Carter believed was present in Kolchak. Carter was determined to keep the relationship between the two leads strictly platonic, basing their interactions on the characters of Emma Peel and John Steed in the The Avengers series.

The early 1990s cult hit Twin Peaks was a major influence on the show's dark atmosphere and its often surreal blend of drama and irony. Duchovny had appeared as a cross-dressing DEA agent in Twin Peaks and the Mulder character was seen as a parallel to that show's FBI Agent Dale Cooper. The producers and writers 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 other influences. Carter's use of continuous takes in " Triangle" was modeled on Hitchcock's Rope. In addition, episodes written by Darin Morgan often referred to other films.


Duchovny portrayed Fox Mulder as a main character for the first seven seasons of the series and as an intermittent lead in the last two.
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.

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

Anderson auditioned for the role of Scully in 1993. "I couldn’t put the script down," she recalled. The network wanted either a more established or a "taller, leggier, blonder and breastier" actress for Scully than the 24-year-old Anderson, a theatre veteran with minor film experience. After auditions Carter felt she was the only choice. Carter insisted that Anderson had the kind of no-nonsense integrity that the role required. Anderson rewarded his insight by winning numerous awards: the Screen Actors Guild Award in 1996 and 1997, an Emmy Award in 1997, and a Golden Globe Award 1997.

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 auditioned for Walter Skinner, he had been in a grumpy mood and had allowed his small amount of hair to grow. 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 the recurring role.

More than 100 actors auditioned for the role of John Doggett, but only about ten were considered. Lou Diamond Phillips, Hart Bochner and Bruce Campbell were among the ten. The producers choose 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). Doggett's presence did not give the series the ratings boost the network executives were hoping for. The eight season episode " This is Not Happening" marked the first appearance of Monica Reyes, played by Gish, who became a main character in season nine. Her character was developed and introduced due to Anderson's possible departure at the end of the eighth season. Although Anderson stayed until the end, Gish became a series regular. During season nine, for six episodes actor Cary Elwes played Brad Follmer.

Minor recurring characters

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: Scully's father, William ( Don S. Davis); her mother, Margaret ( Sheila Larken); and her sister, Melissa ( Melinda McGraw). The conspiracy-inspired trio The Lone Gunmen were also secondary characters. The trio was introduced in the first season episode " E.B.E." as a way to make Mulder appear more credible. They were originally meant to only appear in that episode, but due to their popularity, they returned in the second season episode " Blood" and became recurring characters. Davis' character, The Smoking Man, was initially cast as an extra in the pilot episode. His character, however, grew into the main antagonist.


"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.

During the early stages of production, Carter founded Ten Thirteen Productions and began to plan for filming the pilot in Los Angeles. However, unable to find suitable locations for many scenes, he decided to "go where the good forests are" and moved production to Vancouver, Canada. It was soon realized by the production crew that since so much of the first season would require filming on location, rather than on sound stages, a second location manager would be needed. The show remained in Vancouver for the first five seasons; production then shifted to Los Angeles beginning with the sixth season. Duchovny was unhappy over his geographical separation from his wife Téa Leoni, although his discontent was popularly attributed to frustration with climatic conditions in Vancouver. Anderson also wanted to return to the United States and Carter relented 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, including director and producer R.W. Goodwin and his wife Sheila Larken, who played Margaret Scully and would later return briefly. The X-Files crew returned to Vancouver to film The X-Files: I Want to Believe. According to Spotnitz, the film script was written specifically for the city and surrounding areas.

With the move to Los Angeles, many changes behind the scenes occurred, as much of the original The X-Files crew was gone. New production designer Corey Kaplan, editor Lynne Willingham, writer David Amann and director and producer Michael Watkins joined and stayed for several years. Bill Roe became the show's new director of photography and episodes generally had a drier, brighter look due to California's sunshine and climate, as compared with Vancouver's rain, fog and temperate forests. Early in the sixth season, the producers took advantage of the new location, setting the show in new parts of the country. For example, Vince Gilligan's "Drive", about a man subject to an unexplained illness, was a frenetic action episode, unusual for The X-Files largely because it was set in Nevada's stark desert roads. The "Dreamland" two-part episode was also set in Nevada, this time in Area 51. The episode was largely filmed at "Club Ed", a movie ranch located on the outskirts of Lancaster, California.


The music was composed by Mark Snow, who got involved with The X-Files through his friendship with executive producer Goodwin. Initially Carter had no candidates. A little over a dozen people were considered, but Goodwin continued to press for Snow, who auditioned around three times with no sign from the production staff as to whether they wanted him. One day, however, Snow's agent called him, talking about the "pilot episode" and hinting that he had got the job.

The theme, " The X-Files", used more instrumental sections than most dramas. The theme song's famous whistle effect was inspired by the track "How Soon is Now" from The Smiths' 1985 album Meat Is Murder. After attempting to craft the theme with different sound effects, Snow used a Proteus 2 rack-mount synth with an effect called "Whistling Joe". After hearing this effect, Carter was "taken aback" and noted it is was "going to be good". According to the "Behind the Truth" segment on the first season DVD, Snow created the echo effect on the track by accident. He felt that after several revisions, something still was not right. Carter walked out of the room and Snow put his hand and forearm on his keyboard in frustration. The keyboard had an echo effect setting that had accidentally been activated. The resulting riff pleased Carter; Snow said, "this sound was in the keyboard. And that was it." The second episode, " Deep Throat", marked Snow's debut as solo composer for an entire episode. The production crew was determined to limit the music in the early episodes. The theme song appeared first in "Deep Throat".

Snow was tasked with composing the score for both The X-Files films. The films marked the first appearance of real instruments; previous music had been digitally crafted by Snow. Snow's soundtrack for the first film, The X-Files: Original Motion Picture Score, was released in 1998. For the second film, Snow recorded with the Hollywood Studio Symphony in May 2008 at the Newman Scoring Stage at 20th Century Fox in Century City. UNKLE recorded a new version of the theme music for the end credits. Some of the unusual sounds were created by a variation of silly putty and dimes tucked into piano strings. Snow commented that the fast percussion featured in some tracks was inspired by the track "Prospectors Quartet" from the There Will Be Blood soundtrack. The soundtrack score, The X-Files: I Want to Believe: Original Motion Picture Score, was released in 2008.

Opening sequence

The opening sequence was made in 1993 for the first season and remained unchanged until Duchovny left the show. Carter sought to make the title an "impactful opening" with "supernatural images". These scenes notably include a split-screen image of a seed germinating as well as a "terror-filled, warped face". The latter was created when Carter found a video operator who was able to create the effect. The sequence was extremely popular and won the show its first Emmy Award, which was for Outstanding Graphic Design and Title Sequences. Rabwin was particularly pleased with the sequence and felt that it was something that had "never [been] seen on television before."

The premiere episode of season eight, "Within", revealed the first major change to the opening credits. Along with Patrick, the sequence used new images and updated photos for Duchovny and Anderson, although Duchovny only appears in the opening credits when he appears in an episode. Carter and the production staff saw Duchovny's departure as a chance to change things. The replacement shows various pictures of Scully's pregnancy. According to executive producer Frank Spotnitz, the sequence also features an "abstract" way of showing Mulder's absence in the eighth season: he falls into an eye. Season nine featured an entirely new sequence. Since Anderson wanted to move on, the sequence featured Reyes and Skinner. Duchovny's return to the show for the two-part series finale, " The Truth" marked the largest number of cast members to be featured in the opening credits, with five.

The sequence ends with the tagline "The Truth Is Out There", which is used for the majority of the episodes. The tagline changes in specific episodes to slogans that are relevant to that episode. The first of these was "Trust No One" in " The Erlenmeyer Flask". Other examples include: "Everything Dies" in " Herrenvolk", "Believe to Understand" in " Closure", and "They're Watching" in " Trust No 1".

Broadcast and release


Nielsen ratings

Nielsen ratings for The X-Files
Season Timeslot ( ET) Premiered Ended Rank Viewers
(in millions)
Date Premiere
(in millions)
Date Finale
(in millions)
1 Friday 9:00 pm September 10, 1993 12.00 May 13, 1994 14.00 #105 N/A
2 September 16, 1994 16.10 May 19, 1995 16.60 #63 14.50
3 September 22, 1995 19.94 May 17, 1996 17.86 #55 15.40
4 Friday 9:00 pm/Sunday 9:00 pm October 4, 1996 21.11 May 18, 1997 19.85 #12 19.20
5 Sunday 9:00 pm November 2, 1997 27.34 May 17, 1998 18.76 #11 19.80
6 November 8, 1998 20.24 May 16, 1999 15.86 #12 17.20
7 November 7, 1999 17.82 May 21, 2000 15.26 #29 14.20
8 November 5, 2000 15.87 May 20, 2001 14.00 #31 13.93
9 November 11, 2001 10.60 May 19, 2002 13.00 #63 9.10

The pilot premiered on September 10, 1993 and reached 12 million viewers. As the season progressed, ratings began to increase and the season finale garnered 14 million viewers. The first season ranked 105th out of 128 shows during the 1993–94 television season. The series' second season increased in ratings—a trend that would continue for the next three seasons—and finished 63rd out of 141 shows. These ratings were not spectacular, but the series had attracted enough fans to receive the label "cult hit", particularly by Fox standards. Most importantly it made great gains among the 18-to-49 age demographic sought by advertisers. During its third year, the series ranked 55th and was viewed by an average of 15.40 million viewers, an increase of almost seven percent over the second season, making it Fox's top-rated program in the 18–49 year old demographic. Although the first three episodes of the fourth season aired on Friday night, the fourth episode " Unruhe" aired on Sunday night. The show remained on Sunday until its end. The season hit a high with its twelfth episode, " Leonard Betts", which was chosen as the lead-out program following Super Bowl XXXI. The episode was viewed by 29.1 million viewers, the series' highest-rated episode. The fifth season debuted with "Redux I" on November 2, 1997 and was viewed by 27.34 million people, making it the highest-rated non-special broadcast episode of the series. The season ranked as the eleventh-most watched series during the 1997–98 year, with an average of 19.8 million viewers. It was the series' highest-rated season as well as Fox' highest-rated program during the 1997–98 season.

The sixth season premiered with " The Beginning", watched by 20.24 million viewers. The show ended season six with lower numbers than the previous season, beginning a decline that would continue for the show's final three years. The X-Files was nevertheless Fox's highest-rated show that year. The seventh season, originally intended as the show's last, ranked as the 29th most-watched show for the 1999–2000 year, with 14.20 million viewers. This made it, at the time, the lowest-rated year of the show since the third season.

After Duchovny left the series as a permanent regular, ratings began to plummet. The first episode of season eight, "Within", which only marginally featured Duchovny, was viewed by 15.87 million viewers. The episode marked an 11% decrease from the seventh season opener, " The Sixth Extinction." The first part of the ninth season opener " Nothing Important Happened Today", without Duchovny, only attracted 10.6 million viewers, the series' lowest-rated season premiere.

The series finale "The Truth" attracted 13.00 million viewers, the series' lowest rated season finale. The final season was the 63rd most-watched show for the 2001–02 season, tying its season two rank. On May 19, 2002, the series finale aired and the Fox network confirmed that The X-Files was over. When talking about the beginning of the ninth season, 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." While news outlets cited declining ratings because of lackluster stories and poor writing, The X-Files production crew blamed September 11 terrorist attacks as the main factor. By its final airing, The X-Files had become the longest-running consecutive science fiction series ever on U.S. broadcast television. This record was later surpassed by Stargate SG-1 in 2007 and Smallville in 2011.

The X-Files feature film

After several successful seasons, Carter wanted to tell the story of the series on a wider scale, which ultimately turned into a feature film. He later explained that the main problem was to create a story that would not require the viewer to be familiar with the broadcast series. The movie was filmed in the hiatus between the show's fourth and fifth seasons and re-shoots were conducted during the filming of the show's fifth season. Due to the demands on the actors' schedules, some episodes of the fifth season focused on just one of the two leads. In summer 1998, the eponymous The X-Files, also known as The X-Files: Fight the Future was released. 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", began where the film ended.

The film was written by Carter and Spotnitz and directed by series regular Rob Bowman. In addition to Mulder, Scully, Skinner and The Smoking Man, it featured guest appearances by Martin Landau, Armin Mueller-Stahl and Blythe Danner, who appeared only in the film. It also featured the last appearance of John Neville as the Well-Manicured Man. Jeffrey Spender, Diana Fowley, Alex Krycek and Gibson Praise—characters who had been introduced in the fifth season finale—do not appear in the film. Although the film had a strong domestic opening and received mostly positive reviews from critics, attendance dropped sharply after the first weekend. Although it failed to make a profit during its theatrical release—due in part to its large promotional budget—The X-Files film was more successful internationally. Eventually, the worldwide theatrical box office total reached $189 million. The film's production cost and ad budgets were each close to $66 million. Unlike the series, Anderson and Duchovny received equal pay for the film.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

In November 2001, Carter decided to pursue a second film adaptation. Production was slated to begin after the ninth season, with a projected release in December 2003. 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. Carter described the film as independent of the series, saying "We're looking at the movies as stand-alones. They're not necessarily going to have to deal with the mythology." Bowman, who had directed various episodes of The X-Files in the past as well as the 1998 film, expressed an interest in the sequel, but Carter took the job. Spotnitz co-authored the script with Carter.

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 began in December 2007 in Vancouver and finished on March 11, 2008. The movie was released in the US on July 25, 2008. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Carter said that if I Want to Believe proved successful, he would propose a third movie that would return to the television series' mythology and focus on the alien invasion foretold within the series, due to occur in December 2012. The film grossed $4 million on its opening day in the United States. It opened fourth on the U.S. weekend box office chart, with a gross of $10.2 million. By the end of its theatrical run, it had grossed $20,982,478 domestically and an additional $47,373,805 internationally, for a total worldwide gross of $68,369,434. Among 2008 domestic releases, it finished in 114th place. The film's stars both claimed that the timing of the movie's release, a week after the highly popular Batman film The Dark Knight, negatively affected its success. The film received mixed to negative reviews. Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 reviews from mainstream film critics, reported "mixed or average" reviews, with an average score of 47 based on 33 reviews. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 32% of 160 listed film critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 4.9 out of 10. The website wrote of the critics' consensus stating; "The chemistry between leads David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson do live up to The X-Files' televised legacy, but the roving plot and droning routines make it hard to identify just what we're meant to believe in."

Possible third film

In several interviews around the release, Carter said that if the X-Files: I Want to Believe movie proved successful at the box office, a third installment would be made going back to the TV series' mythology, focusing specifically on the alien invasion and colonization of Earth foretold in the series finale, due to occur on December 22, 2012. In an October 2009 interview, David Duchovny likewise said he wants to do a 2012 X-Files movie, but did not know if he would get the chance. Anderson stated in August 2012 that a third X-Files film is "looking pretty good. As of January 2013, Fox had not approved the movie, although Carter, Spotnitz, Duchovny and Anderson expressed interest.

Home video release

On September 24, 1996, the first "wave" set of The X-Files VHS tapes were released. Wave sets were released covering the first through fourth seasons. Each "wave" was three VHS tapes, each containing two episodes, for a total of six episodes per wave and two waves per season. For example, the home video release of wave one drew from the first half of the first season: "Pilot"/"Deep Throat", "Conduit"/"Ice" and "Fallen Angel"/"Eve". Each wave was also available in a boxed set. Unlike later DVD season releases, the tapes did not include every episode from the seasons. Ultimately twelve episodes—approximately half the total number aired—were selected by Carter to represent each season, including nearly all "mythology arc" episodes and selected standalone episodes. Carter briefly introduced each episode with an explanation of why the episode was chosen and anecdotes from the set. These clips were later included on the full season DVDs. Wave eight, covering the last part of the fourth season, was the last to be released. No Carter interviews appeared on DVDs for later seasons. Many of the waves had collectible cards for each episode.

All nine seasons were released on DVD along with the two films. The entire series was re-released on DVD in early 2006, in a "slimmer" package. The first five slim case versions did not come with some bonus materials that were featured in the original fold-out versions. However, seasons six, seven, eight and nine all contained the bonus materials found in the original versions. Episodic DVDs have also been released in Region 2, such as " Deadalive", " Existence", "Nothing Important Happened Today", " Providence" and "The Truth". Various other episodes were 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. A boxed set containing all nine seasons and the first film was made available in 2007, which contains all of the special features from the initial releases. The set also includes an additional disc of new bonus features and various 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. Due to the fact that the set was released in 2007, the second film, which was released in 2008, is not included.

Release of The X-Files' seasons on Blu-ray, restored in high-definition, is rumored to begin in late 2013.


The Lone Gunmen

The Lone Gunmen is an American science fiction television series created by Carter and broadcast on Fox, and was crafted as a more humorous spin-off of The X-Files. The series starred the eponymous Lone Gunmen, and was first broadcast in March 2001, during The X-Files's month-long hiatus. Although the debut episode garnered 13.23 million viewers, its ratings began to steadily drop. The program was cancelled after thirteen episodes. The last episode was broadcast in June 2001 and ended on a cliffhanger which was partially resolved in a ninth season episode of The X-Files entitled " Jump the Shark".

Comic books

The X-Files was converted into a comic book series written during the show's third and fourth seasons. The initial comic books were written solely by Stefan Petrucha According to Petrucha, there were three types of stories: "those that dealt with the characters, those that dealt with the conspiracy, and the monster-of-the-week sort of stuff". Petrucha cited that latter as the easiest to write. Petrucha saw Scully as a "scientist […] with real world faith", and that the difference between [Mulder and Scully] is not that Mulder believes and Scully doesn't; it's more a difference in procedure." In this manner, Mulder's viewpoint was often written to be just as valid as Scully's, and Scully's science was often portrayed to be just as convincing as Mulder's more outlandish ideas. Petrucha was eventually fired and various other authors took up the job.

A 2010 30 Days of Night/The X-Files cross-over graphic novel was released in 2010, and follows Mulder and Scully to Alaska as they investigate a series of grisly murders that may be linked to vampires. In 2013, it was announced that The X-Files would return to comic book form with "Season 10". The series, which follows Mulder and Scully after the events of the second movie, will be released in June 2013. Joe Harris and Michael Walsh will write the series, and Jordie Bellaire will be providing the artwork. It was later announced that Carter himself would be the executive producer for the series and would be "providing feedback to the creative team regarding scripts and outlines to keep the new stories in line with existing and on-going canon." The series will "restart" the mythology, and the first arc of the story will “seek to bring the mythology of the Alien Conspiracy back up to date in a more paranoid, post-terror, post- wikileaks society.” Furthermore, sequels to popular Monster-of-the-Week episodes are expected to be made.


Critical reception


The X-Files received positive reviews from television critics, with many calling it one of the best series that aired on American television in the 1990s. Ian Burrell from the British newspaper The Independent called the show "one of the greatest cult shows in modern television." Richard Corliss from Time magazine called the show the "cultural touchstone of" the 1990s. Hal Boedeker from the Orlando Sentinel said in 1996 that the series had grown from a cult favorite to a television "classic". The Evening Herald said the show had "overwhelming influence" on television, in front of such shows as The Simpsons. In 2012, Entertainment Weekly listed the show at #4 in the "25 Best Cult TV Shows from the Past 25 Years," describing it as "a paean to oddballs, sci-fi fans, conspiracty theorists and Area 51 pilgrims everywhere. Ratings improved every year for the first five seasons, while Mulder and Scully's believer-versus-skeptic dynamic created a TV template that's still in heavy use today."

In 2004 and 2007, The X-Files ranked #2 on TV Guide's "Top Cult Shows Ever". In 2002, the show ranked as the 37th best television show of all time. In 1997, the episodes "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" and "Small Potatoes" respectively ranked #10 and #72 on " TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time." In 2013 TV Guide included it in its list of The 60 Greatest Dramas of All Time. In 2007, Time included it on a list of the "100 Best TV Shows of All Time." In 2008, Entertainment Weekly named it the fourth-best piece of science fiction media, the fourth best TV show in the last 25 years 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. Empire magazine ranked The X-Files ninth best TV show in history, further claiming that the best episode was the third season entry " Jose Chung's From Outer Space". According to The Guardian, MediaDNA research discovered that The X-Files was on top of the list of the most innovative TV brands. In 2009, it was announced that the show's catchphrase "The Truth Is Out There" was among Britain's top 60 best-known slogans and quotes.

First seven seasons

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 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." Entertainment Weekly said that Scully "was set up as a scoffing skeptic" in the pilot but progressed toward belief throughout the season. 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". Virgin Media said the most memorable "Monster-of-the-Week" was " Eugene Tooms" from " Squeeze" and " Tooms".

The following four seasons received similar praise. The DVD Journal gave the second season four out of four stars, calling it a "memorable season". The review highlighted " The Host", " Duane Barry" and " Ascension", the cliffhanger finale " Anasazi", the "unforgettable" " Humbug" and meeting Mulder and Scully's families in " Colony" and " One Breath". IGN gave the season a rating of 9 out of 10, with the reviewer noting it was an improvement upon the first as it had "started to explore a little" and the "evolution of the characters makes the product shine even though the plotlines have begun to seem familiar". Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club called the third season The X-Files' "best season and maybe one of the greatest TV seasons of all time", noting it was consistent and "[swung] from strength to strength" between mythology and stand-alone episodes. Michael Sauter of Entertainment Weekly gave the fifth season an "A – ", writing that it "proves the show was—even then—still at its creative peak (if only for another year or so) and full of surprises". He praised the new additions to the series' mythology and concluded that "many stand-alone episodes now look like classics". Francis Dass, writing for the New Straits Times, noted that the season was "very interesting" and possessed "some [...] truly inspiring and hilarious" episodes."

After the 1998 film, the show began to receive increasingly critical reviews. Some longtime fans became alienated during the show's sixth season, due to the different tone taken by most stand-alone episodes after the move to Los Angeles. Rather than adhering to the "Monsters-of-the-Week" style, they were often romantic or gently humorous or both, such as " Arcadia" or " Terms of Endearment." Some fans felt there was no coherent plan to the main storyline and that Carter was "making it all up as he goes along." As for the seventh season, The A.V. Club noted that while the first eight seasons of The X-Files were "good-to-great", the seventh season of the show was "flagging" and possessed "significant problems". Despite this, the final two seasons that featured Duchovny included several episodes that were lauded by critics, including the sixth season entries "Triangle" and " The Unnatural", as well as the seventh season installment " X-Cops".

Final two seasons

The show's eighth season received mixed to positive reviews from critics. The A.V. Club noted that the eighth season was "revitalized by the new 'search for Mulder' story-arc." Amy H. Sturgis commended the eighth season, praising Anderson's performance as Scully as "excellence" and positively wrote that Doggett was "non-Mulderish". Collin Polonowonski from DVD Times said that the season included "more hits than misses overall" but offered a negative word about the mythology episodes, claiming that they were the "weakest" episodes in the season. Jesse Hassenger from PopMatters, however, criticized the new season, claiming that Patrick was miscast and calling Duchovny's appearances as Mulder shallow.

Season nine received mixed to negative reviews by critics and garnered negative reaction from many long-time fans and viewers. Sabadino Parker from PopMatters, called the show "a pale reflection of the show it once was." Elizabeth Weinbloom from The New York Times concluded, "shoddy writing notwithstanding, it was this halfhearted culmination of what was once a beautifully complicated friendship", between Mulder and Scully that ended remaining interest in what was a "waning phenomenon". Another The New York Times review stated, "The most imaginative show on television has finally reached the limits of its imagination." The A.V. Club listed the ninth season and the 2008 film The X-Files: I Want to Believe as the "bad apple" of The X-Files franchise, describing the ninth season as "clumsy mish-mash of stuff that had once worked and new serialized storylines about so-called 'super soldiers'". Brian Linder from IGN, on the other hand, was more positive to the ninth season, saying that the series could still have aired if the writers created a new storyline for Patrick and Gish's character.


The X-Files received prestigious awards over its nine-year run, totaling 62 Emmy nominations and 16 awards. Capping 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 was nominated for seven Emmy Awards with one win. The following year, the show won five Emmys out of eight nominations. In 1997, The X-Files won three awards out of twelve. In 1998, the show won one of fifteen. In 1999 it won one out of eight, in the category "Outstanding Makeup for a Series". Season seven won three Emmys from six nominations. The following season would not be as successful, catching only two nominations and winning again in the Makeup category for "Deadalive". The ninth season received one nomination in "Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore)".

The show was nominated for 12 Golden Globe Awards overall, winning five. The first nomination came in 1994, when the show won "Best Series – Drama". The following year, Anderson and Duchovny were nominated for "Best Actor in a Leading Role" and "Best Actress in a Leading Role", respectively. In 1996, the series won three awards; Anderson and Duchovny for Best Actress and Actor and for "Best Series – Drama". In 1997 and 1998, the show received the same three nominations. In 1997, however, the series won "Best Series – Drama". In 1998 the series won no award and received no nominations thereafter.

In addition to Emmys and Golden Globes, the show received nominations from other groups. These included nominations for: two American Cinema Editors awards, three Directors Guild of America Awards, nine Television Critics Association Awards and two Writers Guild of American Awards.


A fan cosplaying as Agent Scully.

As The X-Files saw its viewership expand from a "small, but devoted" group of fans to a worldwide mass cult audience, digital telecommunications were 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." The X-Files incorporated new technologies into storylines beginning in the early seasons: 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. In addition to watching the show, X-Philes reviewed episodes themselves on unofficial websites, formed communities with other fans through Usenet newsgroups and listservs, and wrote their own fan fiction.

The X-Files also "caught on with viewers who wouldn't ordinarily consider themselves sci-fi fans." While Carter argued that the show was plot-driven, many fans saw it as character-driven. Duchovny and Anderson were characterized as "Internet sex symbols." 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. Other groups arose to pay tribute to the stars or their characters, while others joined the subculture of " slash" fiction. As of summer 1996, a journalist wrote, "there are entire forums online devoted to the 'M/S' [Mulder and Scully] relationship." In addition to "MOTW", Internet fans invented acronyms such as "UST" meaning "unresolved sexual tension" and "COTR" standing for "conversation on the rock"—referencing a popular scene in the third season episode " Quagmire"—to aid in their discussions of the agents' relationship, which was itself identified as the "MSR."

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." The writers sometimes paid tribute to the more visible fans by naming minor characters after them. The best example is Leyla Harrison. Played by Jolie Jenkins and introduced in the eighth season episode " Alone", Harrison, was created and named in memory of an Internet fan and prolific writer of fan fiction of the same name, who died of cancer on February 10, 2001.


The X-Files spawned an industry of spin-off products. In 2004, U.S.-based Topps Comics and most recently, DC Comics imprint Wildstorm launched a new series of licensed tie-in comics. During the series' run, the Fox Broadcasting Company published the official The X-Files Magazine. The X-Files Collectible Card Game was released in 1996 and an expansion set was released in 1997. 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 Mulder and Scully. 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. Then, in 2004, The X-Files: Resist or Serve was released. The game is a survival-horror game released for the PlayStation 2 and is an original story set in the seventh season. It allows the player control of both Mulder and Scully. Both games feature acting and voice work from members of the series' cast. The X-Files Collectible Card Game (XF:CCG or X-Files CCG) was a collectible card game based on the X-Files fictional universe. It was created by the US Playing Card Company (USPCC).


The set for Mulder's office.

The X-Files directly inspired other TV series, including Strange World, The Burning Zone, Special Unit 2, Mysterious Ways, Lost, Dark Skies, The Visitor, Fringe, Warehouse 13, and Supernatural, with key aspects carried over to more standard crime dramas, such as Eleventh Hour and Bones. The influence can be seen on other levels: television series such as Lost developed their own complex mythologies. In terms of characterization, the role of Dana Scully was seen as somewhat original, changing "how women [on television] were not just perceived but behaved" and perhaps influencing the portrayal of "strong women" investigators. 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". 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. Creator Joss Whedon described his show as a cross between The X-Files and My So-Called Life.

The show's popularity led it to become a major aspect of popular culture. The show is parodied in The Simpsons season eight episode " The Springfield Files," which aired on January 12, 1997. In it, Mulder and Scully—voiced by Duchovny and 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 Smoking Man appears in the background when Homer is interviewed and the show's theme plays during one particular screen. Nathan Ditum from Total Film ranked Duchovny and Anderson's performances as the fourth-best guest appearances in The Simpsons history. In the Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode " Trials and Tribbleations," Benjamin 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. Welsh music act Catatonia released the 1998 single " Mulder and Scully", which became a hit in the United Kingdom. American singer and songwriter Bree Sharp wrote a song called " David Duchovny" about the actor in 1999 that heavily references the show and its characters. Although never a mainstream hit, the song became popular underground and gained a cult following. The series attained a degree of historical importance. On July 16, 2008, Carter and 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 "I Want to Believe" poster from Mulder's office.

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