The X-Files is one of the most iconic and influential TV shows out there. Its status as a pop culture icon is written in stone, and it’ll last forever. Or at least until the aliens come to get us at long last. Running across eleven seasons and two movies from 1994 to 2018, the exploits of Mulder and Scully are many. So I’m here to list the very best episode from each season. Be warned I’m extremely biased and some spoilers ahead.
X-Files Season 1: Pilot
This right here is where it all began. Season one started strong and housed a good few iconic episodes, monsters, and moments. And yet, I’m gonna give this one to the very first episode. That’s right, the story that started it all. And yeah, I know what you’re thinking. What about Squeeze or Tooms? And yeah, they’d great episodes and iconic to boot, but I told you already I’m biased. Besides, I think the pilot episode deserves it and all.
In my experience, pilot episodes are rather forgettable at the best of times. They exist solely to hook you into watching more. They’re a small slice-a-taster and a little more. But in this case, the pilot is a full course meal. The character of Mulder and Scully are likable as soon as they appear on the screen, and their chemistry shows almost immediately; their investigation into mysterious deaths, which Mulder believes are related to alien experiments, is intriguing and sets up perfectly the overall tone of the serious took. Additionally, this episode introduced the Cigarette Smoking Man, one of TV’s most iconic villains.
Not only was I entertained the whole way through, but I was also compelled to watch on.
X-Files Season 2: End Games
End Games did something pretty interesting. It introduced Samantha Mulder, having her suddenly reappear out of nowhere, teasing her as an alien and then vanishing again by the end of the episode and all at the hands of a mysterious alien bounty hunter. This episode alone is critical in Mulder’s quest for answers, and the plots set up here continued to crop up all the way until season nine. And seriously, the Alien Bounty Hunter is soooo cool. And also scary, but mostly cool.
X-Files Season 3: Jose Chung’s From Outer Space
This one was close. It came down to this and War of the Coprophages for one reason alone. They’re both hilarious and completely mental. In the end, I had to go with Jose Chung’s From Outer Space as it’s the most mental of the two.
Focusing around the titular author, Jose Chung, he interviews Scully about a case to write a book. The story is told from both her perspective and the snippets of info Chung has uncovered himself. These bizarre and contradictory accounts take us on a winding and boggling conspiracy over the supposed abduction of two young lovers and their own would-be alien abductors.
If you doubt watching X-Files, at least watch this episode as it’s one of the funniest and smartest.
X-Files Season 4: Unruhe
This one is a straight-up scary one with photograph demons and unwanted lobotomies aplenty! Are lobotomies ever welcome? Mulder and Scully come up against a twisted individual who lobotomizes his victims in an attempt to “save” them from the demons he sees. If that weren’t messed up enough, the pictures he leaves behind show us the victim being attacked by these demons.
This one delves quite heavily into the twisted fears and fantasies of a mentally sick man, so be warned.
X-Files Season 5: Bad Blood
Okay, so when I said that Jose Chung’s From Outer Space was one of the funniest and smartest episodes, I may have been wrong because seasons fives Bad Blood exists. Before you ask, no Bad Blood isn’t a song by Taylor Swift. Well, okay, it is, but it was an X-Files episode staring Luke Wilson first!
Opening with a man being chased through the woods before being stabbed, imagine our surprise when the camera pans up, and it’s Mulder doing the stabbing! Focusing on Mulder and Scully recounting the events from their perspective before they report to Skinner. What would be boring is made hilarious by how different they are.
In Scully’s account, Mulder is paranoid, believing in vampires, while in his account, she’s obstructive, rude, and dismissive while he keeps an open mind about the existence of vampires. Even the character of the Sherriff, played by Luke Wilson, is different. In Scully’s account, he’s handsome and smart, while in Mulder’s account, he’s bucked tooth and dumb. Honestly, this episode is worth watching simply to hear Mulder sing the theme for Shaft.
X-Files Season 6: Dreamland Part 1&2
Okay, I’m kind of cheating on this one as these are two episodes, but c’mon it’s a two-parter, and both are really funny! I’m gonna need to find different words for funny…
In these two episodes, Mulder and Scully drive out to area 51 after receiving an anonymous inside tip. As men in black are accosting them, an alien spacecraft flies overhead, flashing the group in light, causing Mulder and Fletcher, one of the men in black, to switch bodies. With no recollection of the alien aircraft and no idea what’s happened, Scully leaves with Fletcher, who appears as Mulder, leaving the real Mulder to go home to the family suddenly.
While by the end, the whole event is reversed along with their memories, this is still one of Mulder and Scully’s best adventures purely for that mirror dance.
X-Files Season 7: Closure
How could I not include Closure in this list? I’m biased but not stupid! Honestly, this is hands down the most important episode in the entire series, wrapping up a story arc that’s been going since the very first episode: the mystery of Mulders’ missing sister, Samantha.
The long-awaited answer comes as a huge surprise as it contradicts everything we had come to believe about her abduction since the first episode. I said it at the beginning, but I’m going to repeat it, major spoilers ahead.
Samantha was, in fact, dead the entire time. Guided to her by a medium’s dead child Mulder finds himself face to face with Samantha’s ghost, who runs up and hugs him. With accompanying music by Moby, this scene is beautiful in a haunting way, and I’ll never forget how Mulder looks up to the sky afterward and says, “I’m free” I’m not crying; you are!
X-Files Season 8: Essence
Things start to get a little bit difficult from here, and I’ll tell you why – Mulder spends half the season absent, and when he does reappear, it’s barely alongside Scully! – but for the sake of the list, I’ll try.
The reason I went for Essence is simple. It introduces indestructible, unstoppable super-human alien hybrids. At the end of the episode, one gets thrown in a recycling truck and is mashed up only to reform himself! That’s it; that’s the reason I went for Essence. Moving on.
X-Files Season 9: The Truth
Season nine was even harder to watch through than eight! Mulder is only in the final bloody episode! And it’s not even that great! Most of the episode is a recap of past events to wrap up the entire X-Files case about aliens while Mulder is on trial for murder! Nothing new is introduced for the seasons’ finale and at the time series finale; no answers for old questions are given!
It does bring back the Cigarette Smoking Man only to blow him up again immediately. Although spoilers that won’t stop him reappearing again. Damn, this makes me mad.
And even more spoilers, but Mulder isn’t even exonerated at the end. He’s a fugitive in hiding until it gets instantly forgiven at the start of the 2008 film.
Damn, I hated season nine.
X-Files Season 10: Mulder & Scully Meet The Were-Monster
Ah, season ten! Thou were mostly good and only occasionally stupid and derivative. Both Mulder and Scully were back at the FBI working on the X-Files like the good old days, and this episode really harkens back to those days. It’s a monster of the week episode and a funny one at the same time. Gags are aplenty as Mulder and Scully try to crack the case of a giant lizard monster that works at a phone shop. It’s silly, crazy, and just damn entertaining to watch Mulder baffle over this one.
X-Files Season 11: The Lost Art Of Forehead Sweat
Oh, season eleven, you were mostly stupid and derivative and rarely good. Seriously this is the only episode I enjoyed, don’t even get me started and that stupid, obnoxious, hare-brained finale, and it’s only okay at best, really. It’s another funny one, but for the most part, it’s a swing and a miss, apart from kid Mulder with present-day Mulder’s head. That was pretty funny.
It’s a shame that X-Files had to end this way, but I pray that it’s ended for good.
And that is it for the list. What do you think of my rankings, agree with me? Disagree with me? Banana? Stay safe and remember… the truth is out there.
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