The X-Files

From Academic Kids

See also The X-Files (books) and The X Files Movie

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X-Files intro from first 8 seasons

The X-Files was a popular American television series created by Chris Carter. It ran for nine seasons, from 1993 to 2002, spawning a feature film in 1998, with first-run episodes airing on the FOX network. It was a critical and commercial success, due in part to its stars, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson.

Duchovny played Fox Mulder and Anderson played Dana Scully, two FBI agents tasked with investigating paranormal phenomena. With plots spanning alien conspiracy theories and high-level governmental cover-ups, the show mimicked episodic elements found in earlier shows such as The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, and the cult show Twin Peaks, in which Duchovny had appeared as a cross-dressing DEA agent. The series became a surprise run-away success, with a devoted following. Fans of show became known as "X-Philes" or "eXcers".

The series popularized the catch-phrases "Trust No One," "The Truth Is Out There," and "I Want to Believe" and fostered a substantial fan following. Fans commonly divide X-Files stories into "Mytharc" ("mythology") episodes, which concerned the ongoing tale of an impending alien invasion, and stand-alone "Monster-of-the-Week" episodes, which dealt with strange, other-wordly creatures and situations relating to the paranormal. Several episodes also explored the relationship between Mulder and Scully.

A separate fan base evolved, referred to as "Shippers" (relationshippers), which chronicled and relished the sexual tension between Mulder and Scully; the term subsequently entered the fan lexicon, as "Shipping". One pivotal shipper episode was "Triangle" (6x03), in which Mulder and Scully shared their first on-camera kiss - on a ship, in fact - although the episode did not actually take place in reality.

The X-Files was declared by TV Guide to be one of the greatest television shows of all time, and the second greatest cult TV show of all time, behind Star Trek. Chris Carter used The X-Files as a springboard for two spin-off shows in the same universe, Millennium and The Lone Gunmen, and the apparently unrelated Harsh Realm. These did not capture the public or critical attention to the same degree as The X-Files, however.


The X-Files: Fight the Future

In 1998 the series produced a motion picture, The X-Files: Fight the Future. It was which was intended as a continuation of the season five finale, "The End" (5x20), but was also meant to stand on its own. The film was a commercial success. However, it attracted generally muted reviews from many major critics and, although the worldwide popularity of the show helped the movie's intake, the domestic box office was substantially less than what the studio had spent on producing and promoting the film. The movie, like much of what followed it on the series, remains a point of contention among fans - some of whom appreciate its place in the narrative, others deploring it for being the beginning of an unwieldy narrative structure which continued throughout the series.

The movie's opening sequence featured a bomb attack on a Federal office building in Dallas. Several media commentators noted parallels between this and the real-life 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing. [1] ( [2] (

Ratings decline

The show's ratings had risen steadily over the seasons prior to the release of the film. The subsequent season, however, saw a marked drop in the ratings. This was perhaps due in part to the relocation of production from Vancouver to L.A., and to the loss of many important creative personnel, who had to be replaced. The look and feel of the series changed significantly and, many felt, for the worse.

Given that there were no major casting changes and that the timeslot remained the same, the influence of the movie in what became a five year ratings decline for the show cannot be discounted. Many longtime fans felt the movie had dispelled much of the show's mystery, and revealed that the ongoing "mythology" was poorly planned and increasingly derivative—the theatrical movie, for example, seemed to borrow a substantial number of plot points from the 1950s British sci-fi film Quatermass 2.

It is widely (though not universally) felt that the quality of the show's scripts deteriorated progressively from season five through season nine. Some believe the show's creative decline was due to the absence, from the fifth season on, of producers Glen Morgan and James Wong, who had contributed to the first two seasons and the first half of the fourth. Most of the show's major directors, including Kim Manners, Rob Bowman, and David Nutter, had previously worked with them at Stephen J. Cannell's production company, on such shows as 21 Jump Street. It was also due to their influence that cinematographer John Bartley, who gave the show its early dark and atmospheric look, was hired. His work was honored with the show's sole Emmy for cinematography, in 1996. Morgan and Wong also had considerable influence on creating and casting most of the best-liked secondary characters, such as The Lone Gunmen, the Scully family, and FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner.


In the second and third seasons, Glen Morgan's younger brother Darin wrote four episodes, culminating in the only writing Emmy the show ever received, for "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" (3x04) in 1996, as well as a guest actor Emmy for Peter Boyle in the titular role of that episode. Excluding Gillian Anderson's win for best actress in 1998, these were the only non-technical Emmys the show received,


Over the course of the final few years, the show underwent several changes by way of both character growth and plot direction. One of the central mythologies of the show, Mulder's search for his sister, would finally be resolved, as well as a few turns of events involving the ever-deepening bond between Mulder and Scully and the dynamic between the two characters. Whether they "should" or "shouldn't" consummate their relationship was the subject of great debate among the fan community for many years, and is still subject to scrutiny, since even after numerous hints, Carter refuses to confirm whether the two characters ever had sex. Even after the show's cancellation it retains a fan following. It can be said, however, that The X-Files had two audiences - one composed of early fans, some of whom lost interest halfway through the series, and a new, enthusiastic fanbase who were enamoured of the show's mainstream popularity.

The Lone Gunmen, a trio of nerdish government watchdogs who occasionally assisted Mulder and Scully, had their own short-lived TV series. Its cancellation left its storyline unresolved, but all the characters from the series returned in the X-Files episode "Jump the Shark" (9x15) (definition of term "jump the shark"), which served as a final Lone Gunmen episode. The trio also made a short appearance, as ghosts or memories appearing to Mulder, in The X-Files' final episode, "The Truth" (9x19 & 9x20).


Chris Carter listed Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, and Kolchak: The Night Stalker as his major influences for the 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, a character who is described as the "father of the X-Files." Some have noticed similarities to Quatermass, a popular British television and movie series. [3] (

The X-Files inspired numerous other TV series, including Strange World, Burning Zone, Special Unit 2, Mysterious Ways, Carnivle, and Dark Skies, none of which enjoyed the same popularity or following that The X-Files achieved.

Fox also screened a companion series based upon The X-Files entitled Millennium, also produced by Chris Carter. The storylines of Millennium and The X-Files occasionally crossed over, with Scully and Mulder making cameo appearances - albeit on an overhead television - in at least one episode of Millennium. Frank Black, the protagonist of Millennium, eventually appeared in The X-Files to tie up loose ends after Millennium was abruptly cancelled. As Mulder and Scully were clearly only supposed to be fictional characters in the Millennium universe, Frank Black's appearance on The X-Files as a real person was cited by fans as yet another example of what they saw as an ongoing disregard for continuity on Carter's part. Carter changed positions several times on whether or not Millennium took place in the same world as The X-Files.

Duchovny leaves

Increasingly bored with his role as Mulder and displeased with the quality of the scripts, David Duchovny ceased to be a regular on The X-Files after the seventh season. His leaving made for some interesting plot twists. The season seven finale found Mulder abducted by aliens and Scully pregnant, although she was unsure as to how this might have happened. Having supposedly been rendered infertile during her abduction in season two, a fact only revealed in season five, this was indeed a shock to both Scully and the show's fan base.

As far as the paternity of the child was concerned, though there were scattered hints that Mulder could be the father, no explanation of how this could have happened was ever offered. The baby, named William, was written out of the show a few episodes before the series' end.

Season 8 and beyond

Duchovny returned for brief stints in seasons eight and nine. In season eight, after Carter and his writers had mostly ignored Mulder's disappearance for much of the year, Mulder reappeared as a corpse, was buried for several months (of the story's time frame), and then later revived. With both Duchovny and Anderson's involvement essentially at an end, Carter tried to promote the two new X-Files agents, John Doggett and Monica Reyes (played by Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish). It was Carter's belief that the series could continue for another ten years with new leads. This was not to be the case, however, as Doggett and Reyes were not as well-received as Chris Carter had hoped. While many fans enjoyed the new additions, others resented the presence of anyone in the X-Files' basement office other than Mulder and Scully.

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David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson filming the finale episode in 2002

The show completed its ninth and final season with the two-hour episode "The Truth", which first aired on May 19, 2002. The show ceased production at the end of the ninth season—on a cliffhanger, though Carter knew well in advance that this would be the final episode. Plans for another movie are announced periodically but have yet to come to fruition. While all Carter, Duchovny and Anderson have expressed their desire for involvement, there is still no script and no official shooting schedule. The earliest possible release for the film would be September 2006. It is widely believed that a second X-Files movie would be a standalone adventure, leaving some question as to how (or if) the mythology-based series finale cliffhanger will be resolved.


  • The number 42 occurs frequently (Mulder lives in Apartment 42, Mulder has seen Plan 9 From Outer Space 42 times, etc.). This is The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything in Douglas Adams' novels The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
  • The season eight episode "Alone" has artifacts from previous episodes; in Scully's desk drawer are Queequeg's dog tag (from the episode "Quagmire"), the keychain Mulder gave her (from "Tempus Fugit") and the fused coins (from "Dreamland"). Also appearing in this episode is the character of Agent Leyla Harrison, named for an actual person. Leyla Harrison was an "X-Files" fan and a writer of fanfic who died in February 2001. Well-known and well-loved among The X-Files internet community, writers on the show created the character (a self-professed admirer of Mulder and Scully) to honor her memory.
  • When "Requiem" (the season seven finale) completed shooting, the producers were unsure if they would come back for an eighth season.
  • Many episodes feature a "mirror shot" usually involving a medicine cabinet. Such a shot shows a character opening a medicine cabinet with a mirror on the front, taking something out, closing the cabinet, and revealing something in the mirror. "Deep Throat," "Underneath," and "Paper Clip" are episodes featuring such a shot.
  • The Maya calendar predicts that the world will end on December 22, 2012 ("The Truth")
  • You can identify episodes directed by Kim Manners; he frames the camera so as to show the face, but not the top of the head.
  • On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, George Huang's FBI badge number is 2317616, as shown in the SVU episode "Charisma." Scully's badge number is identical, as told in the X-Files episode "Christmas Carol." Both were revealed while asking that a phone call be traced. In addition, B.D. Wong, who plays George Huang on SVU, had a guest appearance on The X-Files in the episode "Hell Money."
  • The eerie, yet catchy theme song is by Mark Snow. It was released with other songs from and inspired by the show on the 1996 soundtrack Songs in the Key of X.


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Fox Mulder in his basement office, now on display at the Hollywood Entertainment Museum
  • Trust No One - "The Erlenmeyer Flask"
  • Deny Everything - "Ascension"
  • ' 'aang 'hoot'' - "Anasazi" ("The truth is far from here" in Navajo)
  • Apology is Policy - "731"
  • Everything Dies - "Herrenvolk"
  • Deceive Inveigle Obfuscate - "Teliko"
  • E pur si muove - "Terma" ("And still it moves" in Italian)
  • Believe the Lie - "Gethsemane"
  • All Lies Lead to the Truth - "Redux"
  • Resist or Serve - "The Red and the Black"
  • The End - "The End"
  • Die Wahrheit ist irgendwo da drauen - "Triangle" ("The truth is out there somewhere" in German)
  • In the Big Inning - "The Unnatural"
  • Amor Fati - "Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati" ("Love of fate" in Latin)
  • Believe to Understand - "Closure"
  • Nothing Important Happened Today - "Nothing Important Happened Today II"
  • erehT tuO si hturT ehT - "4D"
  • They're Watching - "Trust No One"
  • Dio t'ama - "Improbable" ("God loves you" in Italian)
  • The truth is out there - all others.
  • I want to believe

Main cast

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David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as Mulder and Scully on The X-Files

Format: Actor's real name - Character name (Years on show)

Regular guest cast

Episode information

See also: List of episodes of The X-Files

External links

de:Akte X fr:Aux frontires du rel it:X-Files he:תיקים באפלה minnan:X Tng-n nl:The X-Files ja:Xファイル pl:Z Archiwum X pt:Arquivo-X sv:Arkiv X zh:X檔案 Template:Wikiquote


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