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Top Ten Episodes of ‘The X-Files’

Top Ten Episodes of 'The X-Files’

Trust No One

Every year, dozens of new shows premier, but rarely do they not only become ongoing but also a cultural phenomenon. One series that achieves such a difficult accomplishment is The X-Files (1993-2002; 2016-2018). The show follows two FBI agents, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), who hunt down paranormal investigations that are marked as “X-Files.” According to IMDb, it is one of the longest-running science-fiction series in North America. The X-Files have two kinds of episodes: the serialized ones, which are dubbed “Mythological” episodes and the standalone ones, which are dubbed “Monster of the Week” episodes. Both are enjoyed in their own way, with the show being a perfect blend of scary, amusing, dramatic, and even heart-warming. With all that said, here are ten of the best episodes of The X-Files

10. Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster (Season 10, Episode 3)

Top Ten Episodes of 'The X-Files’

The revival era of The X-Files was mixed at best. The newer seasons had a hard time trying to recapture the magic of the show. However, this one came the closest. In this “Monster of the Week” episode, Mulder and Scully travel to a small town and try to uncover the mysterious attacks that are happening there. Having a fun, monster-of-the-week episode after so long was quite refreshing. While The X-Files does primarily take itself seriously, it also has plenty of comedic moments. What’s also cool is that the Were-Monster (Rhys Daubry) in question isn’t necessarily portrayed as a villain. The show usually doesn’t do that, so to have that is interesting, and it’s explored well here. The final scene between the Were-Monster and Mulder was great. 

That said, this episode has some issues. This season has Mulder once again question his conspiracy theories and supernatural creatures, with this episode being about him rebelieving said thoughts. It’s not done badly here, and even having Mulder acknowledge people who create fake monster stories for attention was nice. The problem is this stuff was already depicted 5 seasons and 19 years prior. It didn’t need a repeat. With all that said, this episode is still an enjoyable watch. There are plenty of great moments with Mulder and Scully, and even the Were-Monster is fun. This episode shows that the revival era wasn’t all that bad. 

9. This is Not Happening (Season 8, Episode 14) 

Top Ten Episodes of 'The X-Files’

Similar to the revival era, the two seasons where Mulder is hardly a main character were also not the most highly praised. Despite that, this episode is pretty solid. It follows Scully, FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), Scully’s partner at the time, John Doggett (Robert Patrick), and Agent Monica Reyes (Angela Blish) as they believe to have finally located Mulder’s whereabouts. This episode begins to wrap up a major storyline for this season. Seeing Scully’s determination to find Mulder and how she will do anything, even go down routes she otherwise wouldn’t in earlier seasons, was very compelling.

All the other characters do well here too. This marks Reyes’ introduction, and she is fairly interesting. Another great thing about this episode is the ending. It ends on a more downer note which, while The X-Files is known for their darker endings, this one feels especially upsetting. While the next episode sort of undoes this, it does so in a way that doesn’t cheapen what happens in this one. Gillian Anderson’s performance is very emotional. Ultimately, “This is Not Happening” is a solid episode in the Mulder-less years. 

8. Requiem (Season 7, Episode 22) 

Top Ten Episodes of 'The X-Files’

The Season 7 finale follows the iconic duo as they go back to Bellefleur, Oregon, the place they visited in the pilot episode, to figure out why there is a new series of abductions. This episode does an amazing job at creating lots of mystery and intrigue. Once again, this town has people being abducted, and how it’s done here is interesting. The buildup to the end of the episode was very satisfying, and it almost feels like a series finale. Probably because it almost was. Chris Carter, the show’s creator, wrote this as the finale since; at the time, it was unclear if the series would get renewed or if Duchovny and Anderson would stay on for more seasons. Eventually, it did get renewed, and this led to Season 8’s main storyline. 

Even though this wasn’t the series finale, it does feel like an ending of sorts. The last scene between Mulder and Scully in this episode was done well. Even though it is unclear what is going to happen next, one can easily view this as a goodbye of sorts. Many of the series’ loose ends wrap up, although how some are done isn’t that great. Either way, “Requiem” would have been a good sendoff to the show, but as is, it’s an excellent finale that helps set up an engaging storyline. 

7. Pilot (Season 1, Episode 1) 

Top Ten Episodes of 'The X-Files’

Many shows, despite being almost universally praised, don’t have the greatest pilots. With series like The Office (2005-2013), it is clear the writers were still trying to figure the show out. When it comes to The X-Files, despite some hiccups, they started on a high note. The pilot episode follows the titular agents as they meet for the first time and investigate a series of victims who are kidnapped and later found dead. So much of this episode is done right. The direction, the music, the mystery, the setup for the show, etc. All great.

Mulder and Scully instantly click right away and kick off their “platonic” relationship. Despite some of the writing and line deliveries being a little awkward, the chemistry between the two leads is impeccable. There is also some minor clunky exposition, but most of it is done fine. The pilot instantly hooks the viewer into what this show is about and makes them want to keep watching. Not all shows hit right off the bat, but The X-Files most certainly did. 

6. Bad Blood (Season 5, Episode 12) 

Top Ten Episodes of 'The X-Files’

As stated before, The X-Files likes to sometimes have comedic moments with more light-hearted episodes. This one does that well while also still having some creepy parts in it, too. This episode follows Mulder and Scully as they both recount to each other the events of the episode from their point-of-view, which leads to Mulder killing someone that he believed to be a vampire. The premise alone is worth watching. Any story that does the retelling of an event from someone else’s perspective is always fascinating. Even though this episode is told by only Mulder and Scully, each of their versions of it is both hilarious and makes sense with their character. 

A great thing about telling the same moments from a different angle is how different they are. There is a character named Sheriff Hartwell (Luke Wilson) who is portrayed by Scully as a handsome young police officer, but Mulder portrays him as a bumbling idiot with bad teeth. Then there is the revelation near the end, which takes this episode in the more traditional scary route, and it’s delightful. Overall, “Bad Blood” is a magnificent standalone story that will have its viewers laughing throughout.

5. The Blessing Way (Season 3, Episode 1)

Top Ten Episodes of 'The X-Files’

The Season 3 premiere follows Mulder, who finds himself on the run as Scully tries to search for him. This episode is the middle chapter of a three-part story and does magnificently at bridging the gap between the two other episodes. It builds on the momentum and raises the stakes higher than they had been at this point in the show. No one feels safe, and it makes it that much more entertaining. There are also some teases for future points later on that are nicely established. 

All the cast do fantastic here. This was the first appearance of the Well-Manicured Man (John Neville) who was originally going to be in two episodes, including this one, but was so well received by fans that his role was expanded, even appearing in the 1998 film. It’s not surprising, since he offers something different than the other shadowy figures present throughout the series by seemingly being more compassionate. In the end, “The Blessing Way” ups the tension in tension and is a great example of how to do the mythological episodes correctly. 

4. Memento Mori (Season 4, Episode 14)

Top Ten Episodes of 'The X-Files’  

With a show like this, the focus is often on more supernatural or science-fiction elements. This one, though, touches upon something that many sadly have to deal with: cancer. The episode follows Scully who, by this point in the series, is battling with cancer while Mulder desperately finds a cure. Even though there is an investigation plot with Mulder, the best part of this episode is everything with Scully. Watching her come to terms with her illness and wanting to be hopeful while still acknowledging the odds was gratifying. Gillian Anderson won an enemy for this episode and it is well earned. Her monologue is emotionally wonderful. 

Mulder’s role here is also enjoyable. The show proves time and time again how much these two care for one another, and this is no exception. The scene of Mulder and Scully embracing each other is beautifully done. Many fans believe Scully has suffered the most between her and Mulder throughout the series, and it is not hard to see why. But despite that, the character continues to show why she is so beloved by powering through. She does not go down without a fight. When all is said and done, “Memento Mori” is truly something special. It has a more grounded story, or at least for X-Files standards, and is glorious to unfold. 

3. Wetwired (Season 3, Episode 23) 

Top Ten Episodes of 'The X-Files’

The penultimate episode of the third season follows Mulder and Scully as they try to understand why altering TV signals causes mass hallucinations in people. The concept of television signals messing with people’s minds is brilliant and is well-executed here. What helps set this episode apart from the rest is that the roles of the main characters are reversed. Scully is a lot more paranoid, and Mulder has to be the rational one. It’s nice to see them step in the other’s shoes for once. Plus, with Scully, it initially is not made clear whether what she is seeing is real or if she got affected by the signals, resulting in the viewers being just as confused as she is. 

There are some minor issues, such as Mulder being revealed to be red/green colorblind even though he is shown to be able to tell the difference between those colors throughout the show, but those kinds of things are few and far between. All in all, “Wetwired” is a marvelous paranoid story that keeps viewers asking questions. 

2. Home (Season 4, Episode 2)

Top Ten Episodes of 'The X-Files’

It’s hard to find a list of the best X-Files episodes and not have this on here. This episode has Scully and Mulder find a sheltered family living on a farm, only for the rabbit hole to go much deeper. This is declared by some to be the scariest, or at least most disturbing, episode in the entire series. It even got banned after airing once due to its taboo subject matter, and is the only time one of the episodes received a TV-MA rating. Needless to say, “Home” lives up to its reputation. It is incredibly unnerving at times and rarely lets up. There are dozens of suspenseful scenes that make the threat more imitating. 

What’s interesting is how much of a departure this is from most episodes. It takes place primarily in the day, and like with “Memento Mori,” it’s more grounded, with the villains not being supernatural or extraterrestrial of any kind. Anytime The X-Files tries to experiment, it is always intriguing to witness. Whether or not it is good or bad, it still leaves an impact. “Home” without a doubt achieves that and then some. When this episode wants to be scary, it is horrifying. 

1. Closure (Season 7, Episode 11) 

Top Ten Episodes of 'The X-Files’

There are many thrilling character-driven episodes of The X-Files, but this one takes the cake. It follows Mulder, who is finally able to learn what happened to his sister, Samatha (Mimi Paley). Up to this point, Mulder had been given so many false hopes about his sister, so to finally have an answer is relieving to both him and the viewer. While Scully may suffer the most in this show, Mulder has plenty of his own heartbreaking moments. Seeing him at last uncover the truth was rewarding. His character officially comes to terms with what happened, and Mulder declaring he’s “free” is outstanding.

Some may not love Samatha’s fate, but it was a good lesson about letting go of years of pain. Samatha’s abduction became part of the reason why Mulder wanted to look into the X-Files, and his character moving forward no longer has that burden and guilt that had been with him for several seasons. “Closure” is X-Files at its best, and with episodes like this, it’s easy to understand how this series became such a success. 

The X-Files can be found on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. 

The X-Files Season 1 (1993) Official Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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I am from Michigan. I am a recent graduate of Bowling Green State University majoring in Film Production with a minor in Media Production.

Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration.  Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.