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The X-Files: I Want to Believe

2008, Sci-fi/Mystery & thriller, 1h 44m

What to know

Critics Consensus

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. Read critic reviews

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The x-files: i want to believe   photos.

Though FBI special agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and his partner Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) once chased things that go bump in the night, his tireless search for the truth out there has led to his professional exile. However, a missing-persons case leads to the agents' reunion, along with an encounter with a priest (Billy Connolly) who may or may not be experiencing psychic visions.

Rating: PG-13 (Violent and Disturbing Content|Thematic Material)

Genre: Sci-fi, Mystery & thriller, Crime, Drama, Horror

Original Language: English

Director: Chris Carter

Producer: Chris Carter , Frank Spotnitz

Writer: Chris Carter , Frank Spotnitz

Release Date (Theaters): Jul 25, 2008  wide

Release Date (Streaming): Sep 18, 2012

Box Office (Gross USA): $21.0M

Runtime: 1h 44m

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Production Co: Ten Thirteen Productions, 20th Century Fox

Sound Mix: DTS, Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio: Scope (2.35:1)

View the collection: The X-Files

Cast & Crew

David Duchovny

Gillian Anderson

Dana Scully

Billy Connolly

Father Joseph Crissman

Amanda Peet

ASAC Dakota Whitney

Agent Mosely Drummy

Callum Keith Rennie

2nd Abductor (Janke Dacyshyn)

Adam Godley

Father Ybarra

Nicki Aycox

Alex Diakun

Fagin Woodcock

1st Abductor (Franz Tomczeszyn)

Marco Niccoli

Christian Fearon

Carrie Ruscheinsky

Margaret Fearon

Spencer Maybee

Blair Fearon

Xantha Radley

Monica Bannan

Lorena Gale

On Screen Doctor

Chris Carter

Screenwriter

Frank Spotnitz

Brent O'Connor

Executive Producer

Cinematographer

Richard A. Harris

Film Editing

Original Music

Mark S. Freeborn

Production Design

Tony Wohlgemuth

Art Director

Shirley Inget

Set Decoration

Lisa Tomczeszyn

Costume Design

Mindy Marin

Coreen Mayrs

Heike Brandstatter

News & Interviews for The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Definitive Gillian Anderson Roles As Animated GIFs

The X-Files Is Back but David Duchovny Wants to Read the Third Movie Script

It Took Gillian Anderson 10 Years to Appreciate The X-Files

Critic Reviews for The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Audience reviews for the x-files: i want to believe.

Aside from Duchovny and Anderson's prodigious chesmitry, there's little to work with in I Want To Believe, a confusing and highly convulted thriller within its themes and ill realized script, and might be the proof that the franchise doesn't translate from its groundbreaking TV predecessor to the big screen as greatly as one would have thought.

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A mundane tale of the macabre, The X-Files: I Want to Believe is a pointless epilogue to a once great television series. After several years of living in exile, former FBI agent Fox Mulder is offered clemency in exchange for assisting in an abduction case. Unfortunately the story has nothing to do with the series mythology, and barely touches on anything paranormal. Still, there are some interesting questions posed about faith and redemption. And the cast is fairly strong, featuring David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, and Billy Connolly. However, the characters are largely underdeveloped; especially Mulder and Scully. The X-Files: I Want to Believe is a weak and uninspired thriller that adds nothing to the series.

Follow up to S Files: Fight For The Future is a different change of pace than the first Sci Fi Horror film that was so terrific to watch. Elements that made the first film so good are here, but they're watered down to make it less strainfull viewing on the viewer. The plot is more simpler and feels more like an episode of the X Files, at least thats how they could have done it. Moulder and Scully are called back in service to help investigate a series of bizarre disappearances. The film is a fairly decent film, but there is a feeling that the script could have been reworked a bit before being being green lit. The acting is decent enough to keep you interested and the story is intriguing, but it misses a little something to make it a much better, more developed plot for the film. Obviously this sequel would not be as strong as the first X-Files film, but the filmmakers manage to make an entertaining Sci Fi/mystery horror film. A good film to watch, but the sequel suffers from a lack of creative original ideas. The film could have played out as a two part episode of the show. This type of storyline could have been better off as an episode than an actual film. But the film is entertaining somewhat, it's good enough to entertain you, but it doesn't do anything phenomenal with the overall script. The film overall lacks the Horror Sci Fi elements that made the first one great. Still watchable. Just expect something average while watching this film.

Obviously, "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" is not a film for casual viewers since nine seasons of a television series and a previous feature film precede it, but as it stands, with all that baggage, it's a powerful experience. What fans get is more of an epilogue to the characters than a full blown 'x-file' case, which is fine, because the deep characterizations are emotional, complex and riveting. Gillian Anderson turns in one of her finest performances and the film is so well shot, edited, scored and directed that it enhances the mood and the creepiness of the case. I really enjoy this rich ending to an always rich and detailed series.

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TAGGED AS: FOX , Horror , Sci-Fi , science fiction , television , TV

THE X-FILES, Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny

(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection)

The X-Files Seasons Ranked by Tomatometer

Classic sci-fi/horror series The X-Files celebrates its 30th anniversary on September 10, so we decided to have a look back at the series season-by-season by Tomatometer. Created by Chris Carter and starring Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully and David Duchovny as Fox Mulder, the series originally ran for nine seasons from 1993 to 2001 and was revived for two more seasons in 2016. The series told the story of a team of FBI special agents — Mulder, a believer in aliens and supernatural phenomenon, and Scully, a scientist and skeptic — assigned to “investigate unexplained, mind-bending cases.”

Of the 11 seasons, all are Fresh except for 2001’s season 9, and only the first and the last seasons are Certified Fresh. Seasons 1, 10, and 11 are the only ones with more than 10 reviews making up their Tomatometer scores, so it’s worth keeping in mind, for instance, when considering that season 4 tops the list with a 100% score on only six reviews. The series was nominated for 12 Emmys for the season, however, including Outstanding Drama Series Emmy, and Anderson won her first Emmy — for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series — that year. Season 4 also holds one of the creepiest episodes of the entire series: Episode 2, “Home,” is about a small-town family of disfigured inbreds, who refuse to adapt to a changing world. The episode was banned from re-airing on Fox because of its disturbing subject matter.

The franchise also released two films: The X-Files in 1998 (66% Tomatometer score) and The X-Files: I Want to Believe in 2008 (32% Tomatometer score).

Have a look at how The X-Files ’ seasons ranked by Tomatometer, and let us know in the comments if you agree or disagree with the results.

' sborder=

The X-Files: Season 4 (1996) 100%

' sborder=

The X-Files: Season 2 (1994) 89%

' sborder=

The X-Files: Season 3 (1995) 88%

The x-files: season 1 (1993) 83%.

' sborder=

The X-Files: Season 6 (1998) 83%

' sborder=

The X-Files: Season 7 (1999) 78%

' sborder=

The X-Files: Season 11 (2018) 77%

The x-files: season 8 (2000) 67%.

' sborder=

The X-Files: Season 5 (1997) 67%

' sborder=

The X-Files: Season 10 (2016) 64%

The x-files: season 9 (2001) 22%.

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The X-Files – Season 7, Episode 1

The sixth extinction, where to watch, the x-files — season 7, episode 1.

Watch The X-Files — Season 7, Episode 1 with a subscription on Hulu, or buy it on Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV.

Popular TV on Streaming

Cast & crew.

David Duchovny

FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder

Gillian Anderson

FBI Special Agent Dana Scully

Mitch Pileggi

Asst. Dir. Walter Skinner

Conrad Roberts

Primitive African Man

JoNell Kennedy

Dr. Amina Ngebe

Warren Sweeney

Dr. Harriman

Episode Info

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, The X-Files

The 30 Best X-Files Episodes, Ranked

kc-profile-pic.jpg

There's an X-Files episode for everything. Chris Carter 's iconic sci-fi drama, which premiered 30 years ago, on Sept. 10, 1993, experimented with form and genre in a way that pushed the boundaries of what a TV show could do. The X-Files could be a satire of political corruption, an inward-looking horror story, a surreal fable, or a lark; it could be absurd, funny, romantic, chilling.

Structurally, the series helped pioneer the procedural balance between overarching mythology and standalone episodes, as Mulder ( David Duchovny ) and Scully ( Gillian Anderson ) unraveled a far-reaching government conspiracy one week and chased small-town monsters the next. It was the mythology arc that gave The X-Files its emotional weight in the early seasons, but as the series evolved, the monster-of-the-week episodes took over as its creative center. For the most part, those are the episodes that have held up best, standing as examples of the show's impressive range.

That range also means that aside from the obvious classics, the details of any best-of list come down to personal preference. These are ours. From underrated favorites to Emmy-winning standouts, these are The X-Files ' 30 best episodes. 

30. "The Post-Modern Prometheus" (Season 5, Episode 5) 

Written and directed by Chris Carter

"The Post-Modern Prometheus" might be The X-Files ' strangest elevator pitch: a retelling of Frankenstein filmed in black and white and set to the music of Cher . It's stylish and confident, but it can also be a difficult episode to reckon with; the lonely small-town monster sets out to find love by impregnating local women, but the episode is desperate to absolve his behavior, refusing to treat it as rape. And yet as impossible as it is to embrace "The Post-Modern Prometheus" without reservations, it's also impossible to ignore it. When this episode falls into place, it sings. The final sequence, a romantic flight of fancy in which Mulder and Scully rewrite the end of the case to imagine a happier version of the story, one where they take the monster to a Cher concert and share a dance, is transcendent — one of the show's best moments.

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, The X-Files

29. "Irresistible" (Season 2, Episode 13)

Written by Chris Carter Directed by David Nutter

In the tradition of all the best sci-fi, the scariest monsters The X-Files ever produced were human. Donnie Pfaster ( Nick Chinlund ) doesn't seem to have any supernatural abilities; he's just a death fetishist with a childlike voice who makes women wash their hair before he kills them. Every detail is nails-on-a-chalkboard upsetting, and Scully is genuinely rattled by Pfaster even before he targets her. On one level, "Irresistible" is a reckoning with Scully's trauma in the wake of her abduction, but the show also allows for her reaction to simply be correct; a person should be horrified by what Pfaster is capable of. It's a chilling comment on the pervasive violence of sexism, one that acknowledges how tragically rational it is to fear the everyday world.

28. "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" (Season 11, Episode 4)

Written and directed by Darin Morgan

One-of-a-kind writer Darin Morgan 's last episode of the X-Files revival is an updated take on his last episode of the original series, "Jose Chung's From Outer Space ." Like "Jose Chung," "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" plays with the unreliability of memory. But this episode is more topical with its politics, spoofing The Twilight Zone to make Rod Serling -esque points about the lengths the government will go to avoid taking responsibility for its crimes. It's a satirical obituary for "the truth" in the fake news era — and if the truth doesn't mean anything anymore, where does that leave Mulder and Scully? In a meta take on reviving The X-Files , Morgan gives the agents an identity crisis by jokingly suggesting that they had a third partner (played by Brian Huskey ) the whole time, and that their memories of him were erased. But after poking at the show, the episode lands on an affectionate conclusion: Nostalgia may be a danger to the truth, but it's a saving grace for art.

27. "Drive" (Season 6, Episode 2) 

Written by Vince Gilligan Directed by Rob Bowman

"Drive," written by Vince Gilligan and guest-starring Bryan Cranston as a dying man with a hateful streak, has quite a legacy. Cranston plays his role with such complicated, prideful humanity that when Gilligan went on to create Breaking Bad , he showed AMC executives this episode to convince them to cast the actor as Walter White. Still, what makes "Drive" an impressive episode of The X-Files isn't its role in the Breaking Bad origin story — it's just a propulsive hour of action that turns surprisingly affecting. It's driven by Cranston's performance as small-town Nevada roofer Patrick Crump, who blames the government when he and his wife develop a mysterious illness that will kill them if they stop moving. After losing his wife, Crump turns his gun on Mulder and forces him to hit the highway, locking the two of them into an uneasy alliance. The story becomes an apt metaphor for Mulder's own inability to slow down, even when he and Scully have been kicked off the X-Files.

David Duchovny, The X-Files

26. "Hollywood A.D." (Season 7, Episode 19)

Written and directed by David Duchovny

What's happening in "Hollywood A.D."? Who can say? The case, so defiantly silly that Mulder and Scully are eventually ordered not to solve it, involves a forger of religious documents, but it's really a loose framework for a Hollywood parody, as producer Wayne Federman (playing himself) uses the investigation as inspiration for a film. This is the second X-Files episode to be written and directed by David Duchovny, who takes the opportunity to rib the entertainment industry, the show, and himself ( Garry Shandling plays Garry Shandling playing Mulder in the movie, and Téa Leoni plays herself playing Scully). Scully teaching Leoni how to run in heels is one of the show's best wordless gags, and a three-way phone call between the agents and their boss, Skinner ( Mitch Pileggi ), each in their own separate hotel bubble bath, is a classic snapshot of The X-Files ' later years. "Hollywood A.D." is funny above all, and it benefits from Duchovny's innate understanding of the characters. He captures Mulder and Scully in a nutshell when Federman tells the agents, respectively, "You're crazy for believing what you believe, and you're crazy for not believing what he believes."

25. "Field Trip" (Season 6, Episode 21)

Written by Vince Gilligan and John Shiban (story by Frank Spotnitz) Directed by Kim Manners

The X-Files gets trippy when Mulder and Scully are exposed to hallucinogenic mushroom spores on a mountain known for alien activity. Before their visions eventually merge into one shared attempt to save themselves, the partners hallucinate separate nightmare scenarios: Scully dreams Mulder dies without ever finding proof of extraterrestrial life, and Mulder dreams Scully doesn't question him when he finds an alien. Essentially a more serious take on the classic "Bad Blood," it's a study of how much Mulder and Scully love being challenged by each other. Coming at the end of a season full of memory wipes, time loops, and dream sequences — a season charged with anxiety about how Mulder and Scully define their relationship — "Field Trip" resolves their insecurities by putting them in each other's heads. It's also just weird, as so many of the best X-Files episodes are.

24. "Je Souhaite" (Season 7, Episode 21)  

Written and directed by Vince Gilligan

Mulder gets three wishes in Gilligan's directorial debut, which marks Mulder and Scully's last standalone case as partners until the revival. When the agents are introduced to a droll genie ( Paula Sorge ) who's seen the worst of humanity, they debate whether it's possible to make the world better. "Je Souhaite" walks the line between cynicism and sentimentality: Most people want what isn't good for them, but people like Mulder and Scully are still out there putting in the work. It's a charming, lively episode that feels like it's already wistful for the era of the show it brings to a close.

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, The X-Files

23. "Roadrunners" (Season 8, Episode 4)

Written by Vince Gilligan Directed by Rod Hardy

"Roadrunners" is the smartest episode of the show's Mulder-less era, a stressful hour that taps into the way his abduction destabilizes the show — and Scully. When she heads to the Utah desert without alerting her well-meaning partner, Doggett ( Robert Patrick ), her reckless disregard for her own safety does as much to position Scully as The X-Files ' new Mulder as her sudden belief in aliens does. "Roadrunners" plays like a creepy short story, evoking the ritualistic mob of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" and the suffocating isolation of The Twilight Zone 's "The Hitch-Hiker," as Scully gradually realizes she's been trapped by a slug-worshiping religious cult. The cult's belief system demands self-punishment; maybe, the episode suggests, Scully's devotion to Mulder does too.

22. "Quagmire" (Season 3, Episode 22)

Written by Kim Newton Directed by Kim Manners

Mulder drags Scully in search of North Georgia's version of Nessie in this comfortable Season 3 episode, proof The X-Files can never really go wrong when it sends the partners into the woods. There's a domesticity to this one that makes an otherwise typical case feel like a departure; Scully even brings her (doomed) little dog, Queequeg, along for the trip. But what elevates "Quagmire" is Mulder and Scully's meandering conversation when they're stranded on a rock in the middle of a lake. In a vulnerable back-and-forth that spans nearly the whole third act, the agents get philosophical about everything from cannibalism to Moby-Dick , as Scully questions whether Mulder's restless search for "the truth" is any more productive than a hunt for a white whale. By giving its lead actors so much time to just talk, "Quagmire" shows off how sturdy The X-Files ' foundation is.

21. "Memento Mori" (Season 4, Episode 14) 

Written by Chris Carter, Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, and Frank Spotnitz Directed by Rob Bowman

The episode that won Anderson a well-deserved Emmy, "Memento Mori" kicks off Scully's cancer storyline in devastating fashion. Her diagnosis was bound to be moving, but what makes "Memento Mori" stick is the way it makes room for messy humanity, like Scully's mother ( Sheila Larken ) rambling about the traffic on the way to the hospital, or the uncomfortable silence between Mulder and Scully as she tells him about her tumor. The X-Files is rarely halfway emotional — it buries feelings and then lets them explode in fits of melodrama — and "Memento Mori" is constantly jumping from one end of that scale to the other. It's too heavy on flowery voiceover monologues, but that's the show. Anderson and Duchovny, both raw and repressed, tie it all together.  

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, The X-Files

20. "Beyond the Sea" (Season 1, Episode 13)

Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong Directed by David Nutter

The first X-Files episode to flip the script between Mulder and Scully, "Beyond the Sea" reveals how thin the line is between the believer and the skeptic. After the unexpected death of her father ( Don S. Davis ), Scully finds herself intrigued by menacing death row inmate Luther Lee Boggs (an intimidating Brad Dourif ), who claims to be psychic. Against Mulder's advice, she wants to believe him, kicking off a dangerous, Silence of the Lambs -like dance between the young agent and the killer. The moody intensity is good, but the character work is great; Glen Morgan and James Wong understand Scully's contradictions better than any of The X-Files ' other writers, and the complexity of Scully's grief takes Gillian Anderson's performance to new heights.

19. "Folie à Deux" (Season 5, Episode 19) 

Written by Vince Gilligan Directed by Kim Manners

The case in "Folie à Deux" is literal in a fun way: A telemarketer suspects his boss is an actual monster who's turning his coworkers into zombies. But there's an unexpected soulfulness to this episode, which goes from a hostage negotiation to a negotiation for Mulder's mind. After Mulder begins to see the boss as the telemarketer does, his erratic search for proof lands him in a mental hospital, leaving him with only the hope that Scully will believe him. It's a monster-of-the-week spin on the kind of humiliation Mulder has endured for years, and it resolves as a testament to the lonely, tragic beauty of his relationship with Scully, who's given herself over to a madness shared by two.

18. "Pilot" (Season 1, Episode 1)

Written by Chris Carter Directed by Robert Mandel

Very few TV shows know their characters this well from day one. The X-Files ' pilot (like the rest of The X-Files ) is great because of Mulder and Scully; series creator Chris Carter sketches out with perfect clarity who the show's heroes are and where they fit in a crooked system. The FBI assigns Scully to partner up with Mulder, who's getting too close to the truth, so she'll debunk his work, but she has too much integrity to take the bait. A lot of their first case makes precious little sense on its own, but that doesn't matter. What matters is how well the pilot introduces two characters who will become TV icons but just feel like people: a pair of outsiders in oversize '90s suits who like each other right off the bat. 

Gillian Anderson, The X-Files

17. "Colony"/"End Game" (Season 2, Episodes 16 and 17)

"Colony" written by Chris Carter (story by Carter and David Duchovny) and directed by Nick Marck "End Game" written by Frank Spotnitz and directed by Rob Bowman

The X-Files ' mythology was razor sharp in this broody two-parter, which dangles the possible return of Mulder's sister ( Megan Leitch ) over his head only to reveal that she's a fake. "Colony" and "End Game" are the first episodes to introduce concepts like alien-human hybrid clones and the Alien Bounty Hunter ( Brian Thompson ), which would eventually become muddled but are never more thrilling than they are here, when the Bounty Hunter impersonates Mulder in order to get to Scully. By the end of "End Game," Mulder has tracked the Bounty Hunter to Alaska and nearly died in the process, but in the midst of the story's epic scale, there are smaller pleasures, like Scully and Mulder in a life-or-death game of phone tag, Scully's fanny pack, and Skinner beating up Mulder's informant, X ( Steven Williams ), to help Scully save Mulder's life. 

16. "Tithonus" (Season 6, Episode 10) 

Written by Vince Gilligan Directed by Michael W. Watkins

The X-Files is rarely more haunting than it is in the final 15 minutes of "Tithonus," an episode anchored by Geoffrey Lewis ' stoic, unsettling performance as an immortal man named Alfred Fellig. Like the real-life artist Arthur Fellig, better known as Weegee, Lewis' Fellig is a New York City photographer with an eerie knack for being first at the scene of the crime. He cheated Death during a yellow fever epidemic in the 19th century and has been trying to photograph the specter ever since, hoping that if he captures it on film he'll finally be able to die. "Tithonus" is a gorgeous hour that grapples with finding meaning in mortality, turning the show's usual unease with death on its head by suggesting that the alternative is worse. Few lines on The X-Files are as heavy as Fellig telling Scully, "Love lasts 75 years if you're lucky. You don't want to be around when it's gone."

15. "Jose Chung's From Outer Space " (Season 3, Episode 20)

Written by Darin Morgan Directed by Rob Bowman

Darin Morgan's iconic "Jose Chung's From Outer Space " is self-referential to the extreme, a sci-fi sendup that piles unreliable narrator on top of unreliable narrator until there's no way to tell what's really happening and what's a smokescreen. Maybe alien abduction is real; maybe the government is faking abductions to protect its secrets; maybe both are true at once. Through the eyes of famous novelist Jose Chung (the great Charles Nelson Reilly ), who's interviewing Scully as research, Morgan satirizes Mulder's narrow focus — the scene in which he eats a whole sweet potato pie in a diner is an all-timer — and needles Scully for being a good person who is, "nevertheless, a federal employee." Reilly's delightfully peacockish performance keeps the episode humming from one bizarre scene to another, and Alex Trebek guest-stars as a Man in Black. But the episode closes on a note of tremendous loneliness, as everyone grasps separately for meaning based on their own subjective idea of the truth. 

David Duchovny, The X-Files

14. "Small Potatoes" (Season 4, Episode 20) 

Written by Vince Gilligan Directed by Cliff Bole

Gilligan wrote the part of Eddie Van Blundht ("the h is silent") specifically for fellow writer Darin Morgan, whose track record of intelligent scripts adds a new layer to his stupidly funny turn as The X-Files ' most pathetic villain. Eddie, a sad-sack janitor and shapeshifter who's caught impersonating multiple women's husbands — and one Luke Skywalker — is a cartoonishly gloomy guy (though, unlike "The Post-Modern Prometheus," this episode is willing to call his crimes what they are). The tale of a loser who tries to become other people, "Small Potatoes" flirts with questions about whether a person can remake their identity, especially when Eddie steals Mulder's face and tries to make a move on Scully. But its first priority is to be a romp. Duchovny gives one of his best comedic performances on the show as Eddie in disguise, and Anderson gets in on the fun with a great deadpan quip about Luke Skywalker's lightsaber. 

13. "Duane Barry"/"Ascension" (Season 2, Episodes 5 and 6)

"Duane Barry" written and directed by Chris Carter "Ascension" written by Paul Brown and directed by Michael Lange

When multiple abductee Duane Barry ( Steve Railsback ) escapes a mental institution and takes hostages, Mulder is drawn into a tense negotiation that exposes how unprepared he is for the truth he seeks. In the face of Mulder's wide-eyed curiosity, Duane Barry can offer only trauma. That trauma hits home when Barry takes Scully in a shocking cliffhanger, leading Mulder on a desperate, doomed hunt up a mountain. Scully's abduction transformed The X-Files , reshaping the show's mythology and permanently raising its stakes. The two-parter is gripping and often visually arresting, twisting the knife with classic abduction stereotypes — the tractor beam, the little gray men, the implant — to make the point that even when Mulder thinks he knows what to expect, he doesn't.

12. "Monday" (Season 6, Episode 14)

Written by Vince Gilligan and John Shiban Directed by Kim Manners

A bank robbery gone wrong kills Mulder and Scully over and over again in this dynamic time loop episode, but they're not the ones who remember it. Only the bank robber's traumatized girlfriend, Pam ( Carrie Hamilton ), knows she's stuck reliving the same day on repeat, and Hamilton's jittery desperation is what makes "Monday" great. While there's plenty of humor in Mulder's no good, very bad day, which starts with a leaking waterbed and spirals further out of control from there, Pam's story is so horrifying that it gradually turns the episode from a comedy (albeit a bloody one) into a tragedy. With the help of director Kim Manners , who finds creative ways to shake up the day each time it repeats, "Monday" keeps viewers on their toes.

Gillian Anderson, The X-Files

11. "Humbug" (Season 2, Episode 20) 

Written by Darin Morgan Directed by Kim Manners

Darin Morgan changed the game with this sweet, offbeat episode set in a Florida circus town. "Humbug" is Morgan's first and most restrained script, and it's The X-Files ' first mainly comedic hour; you can almost feel the training wheels coming off as the show gets used to his rhythm. But it's still a rebellion, not only against the norms of the show but against Mulder and Scully's definition of normal, which is poked at by a community of circus freaks who can see the agents are the weird ones. "Humbug" has affection for everyone's oddities, both fantastic and ordinary; in one scene, Scully visits an "authentic" P.T. Barnum exhibit called the Great Unknown, which turns out to be an empty trunk — but opening that trunk triggers an exit door to the real great unknown, the outside world. Sometimes The X-Files would rather see the universe as a cool carnival funhouse than a house of horrors.

10. "Triangle" (Season 6, Episode 3)

The X-Files takes some of its most enjoyable risks in "Triangle," which sends Mulder back in time to 1939 after he goes looking for a ship in the Bermuda Triangle. This is time travel in the style of The Wizard of Oz ; all the main characters on the ship are played by the show's regular and recurring cast members, winking at fans with references to their usual roles. Writer-director Chris Carter also pays homage to  Alfred Hitchcock 's Rope by filming each act to look like it's been shot in a single take, adding to the episode's dreamlike quality. Is it only happening in Mulder's head? Does it matter? It's hard to find an X-Files scene more purely entertaining than the long sequence in this episode that follows Scully searching for help at the FBI, or a shot more magical than the moment when she crosses paths with 1939 Scully on the ship. This is The X-Files releasing a pressure valve and letting off some steam. It's a thrill.

9. "One Breath" (Season 2, Episode 8)

Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong Directed by R.W. Goodwin

As a capper to Scully's abduction, "One Breath" works because it's so intimate. When Scully is found comatose at a hospital, Mulder wrestles with his helplessness and guilt as her family prepares to let her go. Offered the choice between finding out who's to blame for her condition and sitting vigil at her bedside, he has to face the fact that the answers he's after are less important than being with Scully. There's a striking sincerity and vulnerability to the episode that makes even its New Agey mysticism endearing, as Mulder, lost as he is, wanders from one terrific scene to the next. A gruff speech from Skinner is a standout. But the most powerful thing about "One Breath" is what it doesn't do: It refuses to give Mulder the glory of taking revenge or saving the day. Instead, the episode insists that all anyone can control in the face of despair is how they show up for the people they care about.

David Duchovny, The X-Files

8. "Home" (Season 4, Episode 2)

Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong Directed by Kim Manners

"Home" is infamous for being so disturbing that it was banned from re-airing on Fox, but its reputation for brutality doesn't do justice to how artful it is. Writers Glen Morgan and James Wong send Mulder and Scully to a small town called Home, where a baby is found buried in a baseball field. "Home" is not interested in subtlety; in a nod to The Andy Griffith Show , the local sheriff is named Andy Taylor ( Tucker Smallwood ) and his deputy is Barney ( Sebastian Spence ), and together they represent the last gasp of the dream of rural America. But while The X-Files isn't immune to the romance of Mayberry, "Home" is ultimately about how idyllic small-town America is a myth, one that depends on ignoring a lot of grotesque violence. The sheriff wants to believe that the "modern world" is what's corrupting his town, but the episode's monsters aren't outsiders; they're a local family of prejudiced, disfigured inbreds who've lived in Home for generations, strangling their own bloodline to death because they refuse to adapt. It's an incisive horror story that nails so much of The X-Files ' worldview: Progress is scary, but not as scary as what people will do when they fear it.

7. "Paper Hearts" (Season 4, Episode 10)

The best X-Files episode to focus on Mulder is also the one that threatens everything he believes. After building his life around the idea that his sister was abducted by aliens, Mulder accepts the chance that she was killed by a man: serial child killer John Lee Roche ( Tom Noonan ), a chillingly mild-mannered creep he already sent to prison years ago. When a dream leads Mulder to another of Roche's victims, the killer strings Mulder along with the suggestion that he murdered Samantha too. Beautifully directed by Rob Bowman , "Paper Hearts" is a sad, delicate episode that presents a darker route the show could have taken, one where his little sister's alien abduction is a fantasy Mulder has concocted to distract himself from a more brutal reality. The X-Files probably couldn't be The X-Files if it went down that path, but Mulder wouldn't have integrity if he didn't consider it, and Gilligan's script and Duchovny's wounded performance make it feel possible that Mulder's world might collapse halfway through Season 4. Scully has never believed his sister was taken by aliens, anyway. When Mulder asks, "So what do you think happened to her?" she can't answer. Like everything in this episode, it's too painful to say.

6. "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas" (Season 6, Episode 6)

The rare holiday episode that holds up all year, "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas" is a playful haunted house story that doubles as a meditation on Mulder and Scully's loneliness. When the agents go ghostbusting on Christmas Eve, they meet a couple of married spirits played by Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin . What follows is like a stage play featuring a pair of comedy legends. The ghosts set out to trick the partners into committing a murder-suicide in their old gothic manor, forcing Mulder and Scully to confront their fears about where their relationship is headed. Carter clearly enjoys playing armchair psychologist for his own characters; this is his wittiest X-Files script. But as much as the episode toys with them, "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas" is ultimately an ode to Mulder and Scully's unconventional romance. Codependency can be festive and fun. 

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, The X-Files

5. "Ice" (Season 1, Episode 8)

Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong Directed by David Nutter  

Mulder and Scully meet The Thing in this Season 1 thriller, which sends the partners to a remote Alaskan outpost where a team of scientific researchers turned on each other after coming into contact with a mind-altering parasite. When people start dying on Mulder and Scully's investigative team (which also includes a toxicologist played by Felicity Huffman and a doctor played by Xander Berkeley ), the ones who are left have to figure out who among them is infected. Inspired by the same novella as John Carpenter 's 1982 horror classic, "Ice" turns fear itself into an X-File. It's a tight, claustrophobic — yet oddly cozy — story from Glen Morgan and James Wong that tests the trust between Mulder and Scully, then affirms it. And the episode's paranoia endures. With every new headline about ancient worms and deadly viruses awakening in permafrost, reality is catching up with "Ice."

4. "Never Again" (Season 4, Episode 13)

Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong Directed by Rob Bowman

Nothing else on this show feels like "Never Again." The last episode Morgan and Wong wrote for the original series is The X-Files ' most defining Scully episode, a risky, edgy, pensive hour that gives her the space to rebel against her all-consuming partnership with Mulder when she works a case alone. In a seedy Philadelphia neighborhood, she has a one-night stand with a man named Ed Jerse ( Rodney Rowland ), who, unbeknownst to her, has a hallucinogenic tattoo (a misogynistic pin-up girl voiced by Jodie Foster ) urging him to murder. Scully also gets her own tattoo, sans hallucinations. It's an ouroboros, a symbol of endless consumption, rebirth, and repetition — a mark of how she sees her life with Mulder. Scully's confession that part of her likes being controlled, even as she chafes against it, is a fascinating glimpse at the screwed up side of a character who's sometimes idealized to the point of sainthood. Her relationship with her partner is one that she chooses, but her liberation will always be flawed. The end of "Never Again" is the best ending of any hour of the series, an awkward office conversation with Mulder that trails off into silence, denying satisfaction.

3. "Pusher" (Season 3, Episode 17)

"Pusher" takes a theme The X-Files is always circling — how far mediocre men will go to hold on to power — and distills it into an incredible standalone episode. In this case, the mediocre man in question is Robert Patrick Modell ( Robert Wisden ), whose brain tumor has given him the ability to compel people to do whatever he wants. Gilligan gets creative with Modell's unusual skill, which Modell has weaponized so well he can give a man a heart attack over the phone, and Bowman shoots the whole affair with film noir glamour. Plenty of episodes on this list play with the conventions of The X-Files , but "Pusher" is the show at its most classic: a dramatic procedural operating at its highest level. What really makes the hour unforgettable is its standards and practices-defying Russian roulette scene, in which Modell forces Mulder to turn a gun on himself and then on Scully. It's an agonizing confrontation that cuts to the core of Mulder and Scully's partnership, summing up how their care for each other helps them survive being pawns in someone else's game.

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, The X-Files

2. "Bad Blood" (Season 5, Episode 12)

At its peak, The X-Files could be anything, even a sitcom. "Bad Blood," the show's flat-out funniest hour, takes its central gimmick from an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show : Mulder and Scully disagree on whether their latest perp was a vampire, and the case plays out through their eyes — once from Scully's point of view and once from Mulder's — as they each recollect their version of events. Duchovny and Anderson go all in on spoofing their characters (it's no secret that this is Anderson's favorite episode ), volleying some of the best line deliveries of the series at each other in perfect rhythm. "Bad Blood" also features a memorable guest performance from a very game Luke Wilson as a small-town Texas sheriff Scully really wants to impress.

1. "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" (Season 3, Episode 4)

Written by Darin Morgan Directed by David Nutter

In an exceptional case of an awards show getting it right, the extraordinary "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" won The X-Files its first two major Emmys. One of those Emmys went to writer Darin Morgan, whose gently absurd script bends the rules of TV storytelling and makes it look easy. The other went to guest star Peter Boyle for his benevolent, dryly funny performance as a psychic with exactly one gift: the ability to tell how people are going to die. Like all of Morgan's episodes, "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" is also a comment on The X-Files , a series that cared a lot about "the truth" but ultimately distrusted the answers. Nobody in Bruckman's orbit really wants to find out what he knows about their future, least of all Bruckman himself. Philosophical, darkly comedic, and earnestly affectionate at once, it's a story about how destructive obsession can be and how vital it is to counter it by connecting with other people — a neat summary of the whole show.

Peter Boyle, David Duchovny, and Gillian Anderson, The X-Files

A previous version of this ranking was published on July 15, 2020.

What went wrong with The X-Files revival?

The truth is in here.

X-Files composite

The tenth season of The X-Files , screened in 2016, wasn't just another run of episodes for FOX, it was – deep breath now – "an event series", gilded in feverish expectation. Fourteen years off the air, the heroic return of one of the network's most muscular brands was the TV equivalent of Led Zeppelin or ABBA getting back together.

preview for The X-Files season 10 finale trailer

We all chose, it seems, to forget how dreary and burned out The X-Files had become towards the end of its original run, how gnarled and knotted those mythology episodes had got and how repetitive the 'monster of the week' episodes were.

We chose amnesia over those bad years when the series had soldiered on with different, duller leads (Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish effectively replacing David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, both of whom had scaled back their commitments in seasons eight and nine) to increasingly wilting viewing figures.

X-files, mulder and scully, david duchovny, gillian anderson

We decided instead to remember those ratings-conquering early years, when The X-Files had, it seemed, hit the world's cultural G-spot. We chose to remind ourselves of Eugene Tooms, Deep Throat and Clyde Bruckman, Jose Chung and Duane Barry… We chose to look back to a time when we believed – oh, the naivety – that Chris Carter had a coherent plan for those mythology episodes. But that was a long time ago…

When The X-Files debuted in September 1993 it really was like nothing else around it. Unusually smart for a network drama series of the time, it took the post-Watergate paranoia of movies such as All The President's Men and The Parallax View and gave them an intoxicating science-fiction makeover.

x files

But mistrust in the political establishment has a different flavour today. Conspiracies in 1993 didn't then have the whiff of lunacy and cruelty about them that they do in 2018. Today, in the mainstream world, there's a greater public queasiness over conspiracy theories.

When people now think of conspiracy theorists we don't think Warren-Commission debunkers or harmless "Elvis is alive" cranks, but 9/11 'Truthers' and Sandy Hook deniers. It's got uglier and stupider. That Donald Trump seems to buy into much of it (he was an eager apostle of the Barack Obama 'birther' nonsense) really is Exhibit A for that argument.

Truth is, the audience has changed and The X-Files hasn't. Chris Carter, the show's creator and showrunner, may have garnished those new mythology episodes with burningly contemporary references to YouTube and Trump, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, but they still felt like relics from a different storytelling age, a little shaft of 1993 piercing the here and now. Like Lenny Kravitz crashing an Ed Sheeran gig.

preview for The X-Files season 11 trailer

Season 11 deserved the brickbats, but there were saving graces. Darin Morgan's 'The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat' was a reliably loopy treat from the series' most idiosyncratic writer, while his brother Glen's 'This' was a giddily propulsive episode that traded just enough off the series' past glories and gave Mulder and Scully some relishable duologues.

But it's Chris Carter's growingly preposterous and and suffocatingly po-faced arc episodes that have come to define The X-Files .

Critics and fans alike roasted that season ten finale (Rotten Tomatoes assigns it a 32% approval rating), so the assumption was, going into season 11, that Carter might lighten up on the series' ever more swollen mythology (which by now involved a doomsday virus and the pursuit of Mulder's son-not-son Jackson, aka William – the shape-shifting teen conceived by alien DNA, Mulder's dad-not-dad Cigarette Smoking Man and, oh yeah, Scully).

But instead of correcting course, season 11's opener saw Carter doubling down, almost obstinately, on many of that previous season's worst excesses.

Whether The X-Files returns or not, one thing's for sure: Gillian Anderson won't be anywhere near it. It's aggravating that Dana Scully, and the show itself, was denied a proper, book closing send-off. With seemingly no other shows in development (all of his other TV ventures were short-lived), Carter seems stubbornly committed to The X-Files, continuing at whatever cost to its already scarred reputation.

If the series could haemorrhage 77% of its viewers over the course of a Scully-loaded season, what chance does it have without her? So, our wish is, give Chris Carter one last chance to wrap it all up. Gillian Anderson has said she'll never do another season again, but might she say yes to a final episode that puts a giant big, black marker-printed full stop on the series?

The time has finally come to make The X-Files the Ex Files.

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Why Some X-Files Fans Gave Up On Season 9

Scully looking shocked

"The X-Files" was arguably one of the biggest event sci-fi/horror shows of the '90s. The original run aired from 1993 to 2002 and featured nine seasons before returning again for Seasons 10 and 11 in 2016 and 2018. "The X-Files" focused on FBI agents Fox Mulder ( David Duchovny ) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) as they investigated supernatural cases, with Mulder playing the believer and Scully portraying the skeptic. The series also featured an overarching plot involving Mulder's investigation into extraterrestrial life and their presence on Earth.

While the show was praised early on in its run for this fusion of case-of-the-week and a continuous alien plotline, some of its later seasons were not so warmly received. In fact, Season 9 was negatively received by most critics, garnering a 22% on Rotten Tomatoes . However, fans of "The X-Files" have been pretty vocal over the years over why exactly the final season of the original run made them completely give up on the show.

Some X-Files fans were very unhappy with Scully's characterization in Season 9

Over on the r/XFiles subreddit, there have been multiple posts made about the quality of the mostly Mulder-less Season 9 of "The X-Files," from discussions of plotlines to new fans wondering if the show is worth continuing after the conclusion of Season 8. One recurring theme when it comes to criticism of Season 9, however, is how Dana Scully is portrayed. Some fans took issue with her shift from a powerful woman in a position of authority into a fearful mother.

"Scully's transformation is the one that bugs me the most ... she's either dismissive, confrontational, or rude to everyone – including the people who are trying to help her," said u/ TatterdemalionElect . "I feel her character was done a great disservice in season 9's writing. Her character is reduced to A) harried, fearful mother and B) forlorn lover." In a different post, u/ IKnowPain1987 somewhat echoed these sentiments. "Honestly I find Scully to be insufferable in Season 9, 10 and 11," they said. "And it was no fault of Gillian Anderson , who herself seems to have been super frustrated with the way Scully was written."

Another big point of contention is some fans believing that Season 8 was a better ending for "The X-Files" than Season 9. "Season 8 was a great way to end the show. The last scene was terrific," said u/ Tb12123 . In fact, many fans on Reddit encourage new viewers to stop watching the show after the Season 8 finale to avoid frustration.

Fight the Future vs. I Want to Believe: Which X-Files Movie Is Better?

As one of sci-fi's most influential series, The X-Files dropped two movies starring Agents Scully and Mulder. But which film is better?

After an original nine-season run and a two-season reboot, The X-Files still remains one of the most influential shows in sci-fi. Mulder's child-like fascination with the supernatural coupled with Scully's no-nonsense skepticism created an engaging dynamic that TV shows today continue to emulate -- and David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson's on-screen chemistry only added fuel to that fire. With The X-Files becoming a tremendous success, it's no surprise it spawned two feature films: The X-Files: Fight the Future and The X-Files: I Want to Believe .

With the second film releasing a decade after the first, they each placed Scully and Mulder in very different places in their lives. While 1998's Fight the Future heavily focused on expanding the show's mythology , 2008's I Want to Beleive saw the dynamic duo reuniting after parting ways from the FBI and each other. As such, the films' differing premises make them difficult to compare. That said, when it comes to which X-Files film is better, there is still a clear winner, at least according to critics and fans.

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What Is The X-Files: Fight the Future About?

The X-Files Fight the Future poster

Fight the Future seeks to fill in the gaps between the show's fifth and sixth seasons and follows Scully and Mulder investigating a bombing after being removed from the namesake X-Files. However, the agents end up back in familiar territory after stumbling into a larger government cover-up to hide the truth of the alien colonization of Earth. Although Fight the Future expands on the show's overarching mythology, it's relatively self-contained in an attempt to appeal to hardcore X-Files fans and newcomers alike.

What Is The X-Files: I Want to Believe About?

The X-Files - Scully and Mulder in I Want to Believe film

I Want to Believe was released six years after The X-Files  series finale. After an FBI agent is kidnapped and a former Catholic priest -- now convicted of pedophilia -- claims to be experiencing psychic visions relating to the agent, Scully brings Mulder in as a consultant due to his experience with psychics and all things occult. Outside of solving the case, the film focuses on Scully and Mulder's reunion and navigating the aftermath of their complex, intertwined pasts. Unlike Fight the Future , I Want to Beleive functions independently of the show's mythos, taking on a more " Monster of the Week " approach.

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Fight the Future vs. I Want to Believe: Which X-Files Film Wins?

The X files mulder and scully

Despite mixed reviews, Fight the Future was a box office hit. Its success is also reflected in its Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores, which average 63.5 among critics. On both platforms, audiences rated the film substantially higher, most likely due to the film touching on the show's overarching mythology. At this point in the show's history -- between Seasons 5 and 6 -- demands for a Scully/Mulder romance were at an all-time high, and the mythos remained engaging. As such, Fight the Future provided audiences with hopeful answers, even if it didn't entirely deliver. However, creator Chris Carter's desire to keep the film accessible to X-Files newcomers hurt the storyline for some critics, although most consider it a successful balancing act.

In contrast, I Want to Believe was a critical flop. Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores average a disappointing 37, with many critics knocking the film's confusing, underwhelming plot. It seems Carter's desire for I Want to Believe to function as a standalone thriller resulted in the feature film feeling more like an X-Files episode, and unfortunately, one that wasn't nearly as well fleshed out. That said, critics praised Duchovny and Anderson's unwavering chemistry. However,  The X-Files last few seasons disappointed many fans, resulting in many that were uninterested in a reboot film.

With that said, The X-Files: Fight the Future remains the better X-Files film. It gains a significant upper hand from its tighter plot and connection to the show. It also benefited from a "right time and place" effect. When released in 1998, The X-Files still had a prominent place in pop culture, with most citing a decline in the show's quality around Season 7. On the other hand, I Want to Believe primarily benefited from fans looking to experience a little nostalgia. As such, Fight the Future is the go-to movie for audiences in need of a little more X-Files .

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How to watch The X-Files in order

rotten tomatoes x files

Image: ©20th Century/Disney

Throughout its whopping 25-year run, The X-Files delighted, transfixed, and traumatised audiences with its imaginative stories, intriguing characters, and gruesome monsters. Led by FBI Agents Mulder and Scully (then later, Doggett and Reyes), The X-Files was not only a damn good television show, it was also a smash hit – becoming appointment TV during its heyday in the 1990s.

But the show didn’t just exist in the ‘90s, and wasn’t just confined to television screens. During its run The X-Files also clocked up two feature-length movies, as well as a belated follow-up series.

The good news is that both movies and all of the episodes – all 218 of them – are part of the same timeline. The bad news is, if you’re new to the series you may not know what order to watch everything in.

But don’t worry, in this post I aim to uncomplicate things. Below you will find a list of all the series and movies in order, to help you out.

Explaining The X-Files

rotten tomatoes x files

Before I get to the list, let me provide you with a quick explanation about the production order of the series and movies, to help you better understand the show.

The X-Files first hit screens in 1993, where it became an instant global success. From here, the show ran continuously for five seasons until 1998.

In 1998, due to the popularity of the series worldwide, The X-Files received its first big screen adventure in the form of a film called, The X-Files (1998) aka X-Files: Fight the Future . The movie hit cinema screens during summer 1998, shortly after the conclusion of the fifth season.

In the winter of 1998, and following on from the events of the movie, The X-Files TV show returned to television screens for its sixth season. It ran continuously for four seasons until it concluded with its ninth season in summer 2001.

From this point on, the show was effectively over and there was no new content for seven years. However, due to continued interest in the property (strong VHS and DVD sales etc), The X-Files was revived for a second feature-length movie, called The X-Files: I Want to Believe .

The X-Files: I Want to Believe arrived in cinemas during summer 2008. The film was set years after the events of the series as a standalone tale, and at the time of its release was essentially the end of The X-Files (again).

For the next eight years, The X-Files maintained its loyal fan-base and continued to sell well on Blu-ray and digital platforms. As a result of the ongoing interest in the original series, the show was revived for a one-off ‘event’ series.

The ‘event’ series (aka Season 10), aired in 2016 and received strong viewing figures. Because of how well it performed with viewers, Season 10 was followed in 2018 by an 11 th season, which once again brought The X-Files to a close.

The X-Files in order

rotten tomatoes x files

If you plan to watch The X-Files for the first time, or you are revisiting it after a long period of absence, here is a list of the all the seasons and movies in timeline order.

  • The X-Files Season 1 (1993)
  • The X-Files Season 2 (1994)
  • The X-Files Season 3 (1995)
  • The X-Files Season 4 (1996)
  • The X-Files Season 5 (1997)
  • The X-Files Movie (aka The X-Files: Fight the Future ) (1998)
  • The X-Files Season 6 (1998)
  • The X-Files Season 7 (1999)
  • The X-Files Season 8 (2000)
  • The X-Files Season 9 (2001)
  • The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008)
  • The X-Files Season 10 (2016)
  • The X-Files Season 11 (2018)

If you watch the show/movies in this order, you will follow the show from start to finish and not miss out on anything.

If you are a little behind on The X-Files , or you want to watch the show from the very beginning, you can find episodes of The X-Files on Disney+.

As well as being the home of The X-Files, Disney+ is also home to Buffy , Angel , Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars and so much more.

Sound good? Well, you may be interested to know that for a very limited time, Amazon is giving away a six-month subscription to Disney+ for free! All you need to do to qualify for the offer is sign up to Amazon Music.

For all the details, check out Amazon US .

Thank you for taking the time to stop by It’s A Stampede! to read about the viewing order of The X-Files – I hope it helps you on your journey with Mulder and Scully. For more X-Files -related content, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.

Disclaimer: I earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.

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4 responses to how to watch the x-files in order.

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Greeat post thankyou

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If x files was on Disney it’s not anymore.

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It may depend on what country you’re in. I have Disney+ in the U.K. and it has been part of the service since launch. It’s still part of the service at present.

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Thanks for this viewing list.

For those wanting to watch, I’m watching the series through Hulu.

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Rotten Tomatoes

20 Best The X-Files Episodes, Ranked

20 Best The X-Files Episodes, Ranked

The X-Files continues to be an iconic TV show in the sci-fi genre, boasting over 200 episodes, among which several stand out as the absolute best in the series. Premiering in 1993, The X-Files quickly became a cult favorite due to its unique blend of science fiction, horror, drama, and comedy. Following FBI special agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully as they investigate unsolved cases with seemingly paranormal origins, the show balanced standalone “ monster of the week ” episodes with a complex overarching mythology.

The X-Files ran for eleven seasons and produced two feature films, thanks to sharp writing, compelling dialogue, and the undeniable on-screen chemistry between stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Considered one of the best sci-fi shows about UFOs, The X-Files remains popular in syndication. Out of its 218 episodes, 20 are particularly acclaimed and impactful, highlighting why the show has an enduring legacy. Whether delving into the alien conspiracy storyline or encountering new creepy creatures, these episodes showcase The X-Files at its suspenseful and thought-provoking best.

20 The X-Files Season 1, Episode 3

20 Best The X-Files Episodes, Ranked

“Squeeze” stands out as an early high point for The X-Files due to its suspenseful plot and creepy villain. The episode introduces Eugene Victor Tooms, an unaging killer who can contort his body to access tight spaces, allowing him to gruesomely murder his victims and remove their livers. Actor Doug Hutchison delivers an unsettling performance as Tooms , leaning into the character’s morbid obsession that makes him truly chilling even though he’s a one-off “ monster of the week .” Between this, the unique murder mystery, and Mulder and Scully’s witty banter, “Squeeze” shows The X-Files firing on all cylinders early on.

19 The X-Files Season 7, Episode 21

“je souhaite”.

Scully looking up wondering in The X-Files

As the final “ monster of the week ” episode of The X-Files’ original run, “Je Souhaite” is a fun send-off for the show’s classic episodic format. The premise of Mulder and Scully encountering a literal genie who grants wishes allows for humorous character moments, including Scully’s bemused reaction to an invisible corpse and Mulder predictably wishing for information on the alien conspiracy. While the plot embraces the show’s inherent absurdity, the interplay between Duchovny and Anderson grounds the episode, showcasing the duo’s chemistry. “Je Souhaite” demonstrates The X-Files ability to produce entertaining, creative tales that tap into the show’s original dynamic.

18 The X-Files Season 7, Episode 22

The finale to The X-Files ‘ seventh season, “Requiem,” delivers a gripping, spooky episode that piles on multiple major cliffhangers, including Mulder’s alien abduction and Scully’s mysterious pregnancy. It exemplifies the show’s complex mythology regarding government conspiracies and aliens while bringing back recurring figures like the sinister Krycek. The episode leans into the show’s strengths , such as tense atmosphere, paranormal phenomena, and a sense of unfinished business, while packing an emotional gut-punch that could have served as a fitting, if frustrating, series finale. While the show continued on, losing some momentum in future seasons, “Requiem” represents The X-Files at its apex.

17 The X-Files Season 1, Episode 1

Scully and Mulder in a car in The X-Files

The “Pilot” episode of The X-Files skillfully establishes the show’s premise and central characters in a uniquely suspenseful debut. Agents Mulder and Scully are immediately defined – his belief in the paranormal versus her skepticism – as they investigate mysterious student deaths Mulder links to alien forces. The clever writing lays groundwork for the show’s signature blend of sci-fi, horror, and government conspiracies while showcasing the pair’s contrasting perspectives that ultimately prove complementary. With tight pacing, an eerie atmosphere, and a strong balance of procedural drama and overarching mystery, the pilot stands on its own as a chilling, formative episode.

16 The X-Files Season 6, Episode 6

“how the ghosts stole christmas”.

This classic holiday episode masterfully blends horror, comedy, and romance as Mulder convinces a reluctant Scully to investigate ghosts said to haunt a house on Christmas Eve. What follows subverts expectations with frightening illusions courtesy of mischievous spirits played to perfection by Hollywood veterans Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin. The scares don’t undermine the festive tone, however, culminating in a good-natured ending. “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” encapsulates the show’s strengths while demonstrating versatility through a seasonal theme executed with care and cleverness. The episode stands out as both a scary and heartwarming X-Files holiday treat.

15 The X-Files Season 7, Episode 12

Scully and Mulder talking to a cop in The X-files

“X-Cops” ingeniously crosses over with the famed reality show Cops as Mulder and Scully investigate reports of a werewolf, with an ever-present film crew capturing the events. While such a stunt could feel gimmicky, the unexpected TV crossover instead offers a fresh, quasi-documentary style that lends newfound tension and believability to the core X-Files formula. Duchovny and Anderson shine as their characters playfully banter about the cameras following them. It’s a clever homage demonstrating the show’s self-awareness while expanding the bounds of possibility. Seamlessly blending paranormal phenomena with faux-realism, “X-Cops” is a daring meta concept brought to life.

14 The X-Files Season 4, Episode 5

“the field where i died”.

“The Field Where I Died” uniquely stands out for its emotional depth and somber tone as Mulder and Scully investigate a cult whose leader claims his members harbor reincarnated spirits. When a follower seems to channel a woman from Mulder’s past life, the story ventures into unconventional territory regarding loss and grief with atypical sensitivity. As a thoughtful detour into more metaphysical themes of the soul and destiny, the episode takes rich advantage of the show’s paranormal premise to focus on life’s profundities without losing dramatic urgency.

13 The X-Files Season 4, Episode 14

Memento mori.

Scully and Mulder looking at x-rays in The X-files

“Memento Mori” marks a pivotal moment in The X-Files mythology when Scully receives a devastating cancer diagnosis but continues working as Mulder pursues potentially paranormal explanations. When they meet with MUFON members reporting similar symptoms, Mulder makes connections to her past abduction, weaving her illness into the show’s intricate conspiracies. The writing explores the emotional resonance of Scully’s fate while advancing key narrative arcs, with Duchovny rising to the occasion as his character battles intimations of losing his steadfast partner. Both an affecting character study and a series touchstone, “Memento Mori” skillfully intertwines personal drama with the show’s expansive lore.

12 The X-Files Season 4, Episode 20

“small potatoes”.

Scully and Mulder looking behind them while sitting on a couch in The X-Files

This comedic episode shines due to Darin Morgan’s performance as Eddie Van Blundht, a janitor with shapeshifting abilities who impersonates various husbands. The tongue-in-cheek premise allows Duchovny to showcase his comedic chops as Eddie disguises himself as Mulder and awkwardly attempts to woo Scully. “Small Potatoes” subtly examines poignant themes of personal identity and reinvention. However, the episode’s primary strength lies in its continuous humor and Morgan’s cringingly endearing portrait of self-pitying loneliness driving Eddie’s ludicrous ploys. The episode is a standalone masterpiece that gives absurdist humor while upholding the show’s emotional spirit.

11 The X-Files Season 6, Episode 14

A woman being arrested in The X-Files

“Monday” puts a riveting twist on the repetitive time loop trope as Mulder and Scully are doomed to be killed during a botched bank robbery over and over, unknowingly stuck reliving the same day. The groundhog day premise lends itself to dark comedy regarding Mulder’s unfortunate luck, but the plot turns tragic through Carrie Hamilton’s standout performance as the robber’s guilt-ridden girlfriend Pam, the only one aware it’s recurring. Clever directing from Kim Manners keeps the repetitive sequences feeling dynamic. Ultimately a harrowing character study of trauma and remorse, “Monday” takes full advantage of its sci-fi premise.

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson on The X-Files looking at a book with intrigue

8 Shows To Watch Once You’ve Binged The X Files

The X-Files was influential and after binging it for the first time, there are plenty of shows to watch that will scratch The X-Files itch.

10 The X-Files Season 6, Episode 3

After Mulder time travels to 1939 aboard a ship in the Bermuda Triangle, the plot inserts familiar characters into the WWII era action with meta references. The audacious atmosphere is amped up by emulating Alfred Hitchcock’s long take technique, culminating in a show-stopping sequence where modern Scully roams the FBI. The high-wire concept could collapse under its ambition, but leverages the supernatural premise to thrillingly envision a fanciful what-if scenario. Treading a fine line between a self-contained comedy and insight into beloved characters now disconnected by time, “Triangle” is The X-Files at its cinematic best .

9 The X-Files Season 2, Episode 8

“one breath”.

Scully laying on a wooden table

“One Breath” is a gem of an episode that thoughtfully examines loss and grief when Scully is found comatose after her abduction. As Scully’s family prepares to let her go, Mulder must confront his guilt and focus on being present with her. There’s an affecting sincerity to the episode emphasizing raw emotion over revenge, from Mulder’s aimless wandering to a standout speech by Skinner. In the end, “One Breath” makes a profound statement on coping with despair . More than just spectacularly capping Scully’s arc, the episode cements Mulder and Scully’s profound bond with emotionally resonant characterization.

8 The X-Files Season 4, Episode 10

“paper hearts”.

Paper hearts from The X-files

When a dream indicates serial killer John Roche took Samantha, Mulder painfully confronts how his alien abduction narrative could be a fantasy masking a darker reality. Directed with nuance by Rob Bowman and buoyed by Tom Noonan’s chillingly muted performance as Roche, the episode introduces new complexity to Mulder through the superb writing and Duchovny’s vulnerable acting. While adding to the explanation of Samantha Mulder’s fate, “Paper Hearts” insightfully explores the psychology underscoring Mulder’s beliefs with rare emotional honesty . This great episode poignantly conveys how devotion can render one unable to face difficult truths.

7 The X-Files Season 7, Episode 4

“millennium”.

Mulder and Scully kissing in The X-files

This crossover with the forgotten 1990s TV show Millennium brings in Lance Henriksen’s Frank Black, whose ability to profile killers aids Mulder and Scully’s investigation of an apocalyptic cult behind FBI agent suicides. The grim plot dealing with disturbing rituals and omens of end times makes “Millennium” unusually ominous. The darkness is tempered by a long-awaited romantic moment between Mulder and Scully. Their kiss cleverly answers lingering romantic questions while organically emerging from a harrowing case. Beyond fan service , Frank Black’s inclusion ushers in a grittier tone and complex dynamic , resulting in a departure tailor-made for devotees of both shows.

6 The X-Files Season 1, Episode 8

This thriller of an episode strands Mulder and Scully in an isolated Alaskan facility with a team of scientists who become violent after coming into contact with a mind-controlling parasite. Directly inspired by the novella that spawned The Thing , “Ice” channels thick claustrophobia as the Arctic setting traps victims together, not knowing who among them is infected. The palpable suspicion tests Mulder and Scully’s implicit trust in each other , only to ultimately reinforce their bond when survival is on the line. The episode’s creeping dread and character dynamics set an early benchmark for a high concept grounded by human stakes.

5 The X-Files Season 4, Episode 13

“never again”.

Tattoo from The X-files

This Darin Morgan episode of The X-Files features Scully grappling with her all-consuming bond with Mulder during a solo hour on a case involving a murderous hallucinogenic tattoo. Scully’s self-reflection on sacrifices of sainthood is symbolized by her ouroboros tattoo. Confessing to both enjoying and resenting Mulder’s control, the episode concludes with loaded silence as Scully and Mulder obliquely address her brief independence. This flawed liberation and exploration of imperfect relationships anchor the series’ best character study , brought to life through Anderson’s nuanced acting and the writers’ keen psychological insight into the challenges faced by a free-spirited skeptic who believes.

4 The X-Files Season 3, Episode 23

“Wetwired” stands out primarily due to Gillian Anderson’s phenomenal acting when her character falls prey to paranoid delusions. Seeing the typically rational agent spiral into intense paranoia and madness provides a riveting departure from her usual characterization. Anderson brings raw emotional potency to Scully’s breakdown, abandoning the character’s customary icy composure with captivating results. The unsettling transformation breaks new ground by tapping into cerebral themes of uncertainty and subjective reality, thereby deepening The X-Files ‘ conceptual interests. Ultimately, it is Anderson’s committed performance that makes “Wetwired” exceptional , as she grippingly portrays Scully’s chilling and heartbreaking unraveling.

3 The X-Files Season 3, Episode 17

“pusher”.

Scully and Mulder with guns in the X-files

“Pusher” distills the show’s central theme of mediocre men abusing power into a sharp procedural following a brain tumor patient whose resulting telepathic skills become weapons for manipulation. The concept of mind control is milked for maximum tension, culminating in a Russian roulette standoff that conveys Mulder and Scully’s devotion through palpable emotional anguish. While capitalizing on The X-Files’ core strengths including striking visuals and nail-biting set pieces, the episode ultimately thrives on showcasing the partners’ profound trust despite being pawns to a sociopath, affirming how their bond helps them survive anyone who tries to tear them apart.

2 The X-Files Season 5, Episode 12

“bad blood”.

A vampire child from The X-files

“Bad Blood” showcases the show’s versatility by embracing full-fledged comedy, presenting conflicting accounts of a suspected vampire case from the hilariously skewed perspectives of Mulder and Scully. Duchovny and Anderson parody their characters, engaging in hilarious dialogue that spoofs their trademark dynamic. The cheeky dual-narrative structure overtly channels The Dick Van Dyke Show , yet the plot remains distinctly X-Files , balancing humor and thrills . With a memorable performance by Luke Wilson as a charming sheriff, “Bad Blood” succeeds by embracing the show’s inherent humor. When The X-Files ventures into comedy, no other episode does so with such riotous meta flair.

1 The X-Files Season 3, Episode 4

“clyde bruckman’s final repose”.

Clyde, Scully and Mulder in the X-files-1

Winner of Emmys for both Darin Morgan’s screenplay and Peter Boyle’s guest performance, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” represents a philosophical high point for the series. Boyle portrays the titular psychic, whose sole ability is foretelling others’ deaths. Through this paranormal premise, Morgan insightfully examines the show’s driving theme of dangerous obsession, concluding that human connection is the vital counterforce. Blending gentle humor with emotional sincerity, the episode muses profoundly on finding meaning when chasing elusive truths . No other installment encapsulates The X-Files ’ essence. At once hilarious and wise, this episode is transcendent storytelling only The X-Files could manifest.

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The X-Files

The X-files takes the police procedural formula and applies it to sci-fi mysteries. Conspiracy theorist Fox Mulder and skeptic Dana Scully team up to solve cases surrounding alien invasions and other unexplained, paranormal phenomena.

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Screen Rant

The x-files: what happened to mulder and scully after the series ended.

There was a 14-year gap between The X-Files' original end and its 2016 revival, and here's what we know about what Mulder and Scully did in between.

There was a 14-year gap between The X-Files ' original end and its 2016 revival, and here's what we know about what Mulder and Scully did in between. Most shows are lucky to last two seasons, so even by ending in 2002 after nine, The X-Files was already part of some pretty elite company. A genre-defining program of the 1990s, perhaps what's more impressive about The X-Files is that the overall franchise has never really slowed down, putting out movies, video games, comic books, and more to keep fans stimulated.

Once the 2010s TV revival craze began - which thankfully seems to have died down a tad, as things were going overboard - it became a pretty safe prediction that The X-Files would return to TV, provided stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson would agree to come back to their iconic roles. After some contract hashing out - especially on Anderson's part - they both signed on the dotted line, and X-Files season 10 premiered on FOX in early 2016.

Related: The X-Files: Black Oil Alien Conspiracy Timeline Explained

Still, while Duchovny spent some time experiencing some Californication and Anderson played mind games with Hannibal Lecter, Mulder and Scully's lives in between season 9 and season 10 weren't nearly so splashy and public. While not much is known about what they got up to, the 2008 movie The X-Files: I Want to Believe does fill in a few gaps and provide some context clues.

X-Files: What Happened To Mulder and Scully After The Series Ended

Mulder and Scully looking at a monitor in The X-Files I Want to Believe

Fans will recall that The X-Files season 9 ended with Mulder and Scully escaping with help from their friends and colleagues, after a bogus show trial accusing Mulder of killing a man - actually a super soldier - who wasn't dead. Despite their predicament, the pair vows to keep fighting against those trying to silence them. By 2008, in I Want to Believe , Mulder and Scully are living together in a remote house, and it's clear they have been for quite some time. Mulder has kept off the grid, as the FBI tells Scully they're looking for him. Still, the most logical place for him to be is with Scully, so it seems they're just keeping him a fugitive so he'll stay quiet, not because they want to catch him.

The FBI makes Scully - who's returned to working as a medical doctor since leaving the FBI in 2002, this time at a Catholic hospital - an offer, get Mulder to agree to assist them with a bizarre case, and the charges against him will be dropped. It's a bit unclear why Scully was never charged with anything for her role in helping Mulder escape, which further ties into the idea that the FBI don't actually care if Mulder gets captured or not. Mulder and Scully accept the offer, work the main case of I Want to Believe , then are free to move on with their lives. Neither is with the FBI when The X-Files season 10 begins in 2016, so it would appear that after 2008's case, they had no further involvement with the bureau. Mulder and Scully then break-up sometime between 2008 and 2016, for reasons that were never fully explained.

More: Every Horror Icon on The X-Files

True Detective Called Out For Going "X-Files" With Mixed Rotten Tomatoes Audience Reactions

Audiences have been airing their opinions on True Detective's return to screens, and have not been as positive as critics.

  • True Detective: Night Country has received the best reviews of the HBO franchise from critics, but audience opinions have been more divided.
  • Some fans feel that the show has strayed too far from its roots and has become more supernatural, reminiscent of The X-Files .
  • Despite the criticism, Night Country has pleased a large part of its audience and currently has a 75% approval rate on Rotten Tomatoes.

True Detective: Night Country delivered the best reviews of the HBO franchise from critics prior to its first episode airing. The audience reviews have been less positive, with the show seeing many 1-star and 5-star reviews dropping in on Rotten Tomatoes in a very love-it-or-hate-it pattern.

The Jodie Foster -led fourth season of the crime drama has been praised for its spine-chilling Alaskan-set story, and, naturally, the performances of its Oscar-winning lead and her costars. However, that is only half the story, as some fans feel that it has strayed too far from its roots, leaning more towards supernatural elements reminiscent of The X-Files rather than maintaining the gritty realism of its predecessors.

Among the first 250 reviews to hit Rotten Tomatoes, one viewer commented, "It's like they've crossed over into X-Files territory, with actual ghosts." Another echoed similar sentiments, saying, "I miss the old True Detective . This new season feels too supernatural, almost like watching a different show." A third eloquently articulated the simple argument of, "Not True Detective."

Despite these criticisms, Night Country has pleased a large part of its audience and is currently sitting on a 75% approval rate. Although this is a long way from the 87% achieved by the first season back in 2014, it is significantly higher than season 2’s 20% and season 3’s 49%.

The fourth season, starring Jodie Foster and Kali Reis, explores a new storyline set in Alaska. The show delves into the disappearance of six people during the harsh winter, with the story taking place as the state is plunged into its annual period of darkness. Foster's performance as Liz Danvers, an obsessive and brilliant detective, has been particularly lauded by critics, and many audience reviews have echoed the praise for Foster’s first lead role in a TV drama.

Related: True Detective: Night Country Review | A Superb Return to First Season Form

Critics have been full of praise for true detective’s comeback.

Jodie Foster's face in True Detective season 4

Despite the divergence in audience opinions, Night Country has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics . The series entered the exclusive Rotten Tomatoes 100% club when the first reviews began to come in. Since then, the average Tomatometer score has dipped to 92%, but this still remains the highest for the franchise.

Despite some fans of the show not being on board with the otherworldly events going on in the opening episode, Night Country seems to have already done enough to cause a stir that will likely see more people tuning in to see what the fuss is all about. This has not happened since Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson-led first season a decade ago. With the initial gripes out of the way, it will be interesting to see if audience opinion rises in the coming weeks as new chapters of this latest investigation are released.

true detective

True Detective

True Detective: Night Country releases new episodes on HBO and Max weekly on Sundays.

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  1. The X-Files: Season 3 Pictures

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  3. The X-Files: Season 11 Episode 10 Trailer

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COMMENTS

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  17. How to watch The X-Files in order

    The X-Files Season 7 (1999) The X-Files Season 8 (2000) The X-Files Season 9 (2001) The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008) The X-Files Season 10 (2016) The X-Files Season 11 (2018) If you watch the show/movies in this order, you will follow the show from start to finish and not miss out on anything. Advertisements.

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