The X-Files Turns 20: We've Picked Our Favorite Spooky, Seminal Episodes -- What Are Yours?

xf20_iwantposterThere were Morleys. There were iced teas. There was the flukeman, Pusher, Tooms and little green grey men. There was a missing little sister and a gold cross necklace and a bee with really, really bad timing.

And at the heart of The X-Files, there were Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, the FBI’s most unwanted, who chased aliens, all things paranormal and, of course, each other for nine seasons on Fox.

Tuesday marks the 20th anniversary of the eerie series’ premiere. (Even though it seems impossible that two decades have passed since our first trip to the basement, we’re pretty sure we haven’t experienced lost time.) We thought we’d commemorate the occasion by undergoing some Heitz Werber-approved regression therapy to reminisce about major moments in the groundbreaking series’ history.

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We chose episodes we thought were worthy of Alfred Fellig-like immortality – some for the way they forwarded the mythology, some for their humor, some for how they nudged the central pair’s glacially paced relationship toward its eventual, lovers-on-the-lam end.

But if Season 5’s “Bad Blood” taught us anything, it’s that different people can have different takes on the same event. (And that a hungry Scully is an unhappy Scully.) We know we’re risking turning one man’s quest into a crusade here, but we invite you to fill the comments with your picks for the X-Files episodes that stick with you years later.

After all, the truth is still out there. And we want to believe you miss its pursuit as much as we do.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Michelle says:

    Home is from season 4…

  2. Max says:

    “On the Field Where I Died” is one of my all time favorites. Also anything with the “conspiracy theory” angle. Miss that show SO much!!

  3. The list is incomplete without Bad Blood. I’m just saying…

    • Jessica says:

      I was hoping to see this on the list. That episode is what I waited for when they had the X-Files marathons. I probably have it taped on 3 different tapes.

      • Jason Johnson says:

        I met Gillian this summer. I told her “Fire” was my favorite episode. I asked her what hers was of all 202 episodes…she said, “Bad Blood”.

  4. Mandie says:

    What about Tunguska and Terma?!! They were two of my favourites. I can still hear Krycek screaming as they cut off his arm…

  5. Awesome article thank you! As a die hard original to this list I would also add: Bad Blood and The Ghosts that Stole Christmas as personal MOW episodes

  6. Sorry additional comment- the actual Anniversary is today Tuesday Sept 10- not Wed

  7. Robert Taylor says:

    Not to be the guy who immediately nitpicks, but any list without “The Post Modern Prometheus,” “Bad Blood” and “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” is no list worth reading.

    • cassey says:

      Ditto all three of these. Bad Blood is pure genius!

      • mrwiseman says:

        Bad Blood is a favorite…but isn’t even DD’s favorite Small Potatoes..
        Love that epsiode.

        Home I can hardly stand to watch…All things was rusbbish..

    • scooby says:

      Thank you! Another personal favorite was Small Potatoes. Who can deny a humorous Vince Gilligan-penned episode? You’re right, PMP, Bad Blood, and Clyde Bruckman are classics. How could anybody forget Peter Boyle’s moving performance? PS. The movies don’t count and I refuse to acknowledge Doggett/Reyes eps as part of the best episodes lists. Those were shows we got because X-Files Proper had to change to deal with (mostly) no more Duchovny.

    • Elle Squared says:

      The last two minutes of PMP are the only ones worth watching. The rest of the ep, not so much.
      Small Potatoes and Clyde Bruckman… I can dig it.

    • uh huh says:

      Ditto to all three, and let’s add “Paper Hearts” while we’re at it.

      And nix ANY episode with Doggett in it (sorry, X-Files ain’t X-Files without Mulder). And “All Things” was a terrible episode, even with the first indication that they’d done the deed. Tedious and boring.

  8. JTP says:

    Musings of a Cigarrette-Smoking Man is from season 7

  9. Crazy Days and Nights Fan says:

    “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” — For heaven’s sake, it won 2 Emmy’s (writing and Peter Boyle)!

  10. K says:

    What was the name of the episode with the deformed family & had the mother under the bed with no legs?? Anyone

  11. Hejdi says:

    Tooms, simply because it still freaks me out! And definitely Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose, but also the pilot episode, simply because that is where we all started, and because I can still hear Mulder saying “Nobody down here but FBI’s most unwanted”. That first discussion between Mulder and Scully was the beginning of something epic!

  12. Again winner Kim! Although some of my fave eps didn’t make your list, the ones who chose are amazing too. There were too many good X-Files ep to make such a short list, that’s the problem. LOL I’m glad Kim wrote this, she’s like us.. a fangirl but she has a cooler job than I do LOL

  13. Marie says:

    This is crazy, these are all of my favorite episodes too!!

  14. Romy says:

    @ Kimberly Roots: Triangle doesn’t take place in a submarine, but on a luxury ghost cruise ship

  15. GeoDiva says:

    I miss this show!

  16. Winnie says:

    Squeeze/Tooms, The Unusual Suspects, Pusher, and just about any episode with Krycek (and Marita Covarrubias) in it.

  17. Steven says:

    The Post Modern Prometheus
    Bad Blood
    Unusual Suspects
    Small Potatoes
    Leonard Betts (You have something I need)
    Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose

    Those are a few of my favorites. First time viewer. Just saw Bad Blood for the first time and LOVED it!

  18. cindy smith says:

    Bad Blood from season 5 with the vampires is my favorite alongside The Ghosts Who Stole Christmas.

  19. DreamRose311 says:

    I will never forgive that damn bee.

  20. Jo says:

    Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose. Always loved that one.

  21. RMA says:

    My favorite show of all time. It will always be. Doesn’t seem like 20 years have gone by!! Thanks for the memories….

  22. Sage says:

    My favorite MOW episode was Pusher.

  23. kajar says:

    Some not mentioned that I loved…

    Beyond The Sea (Scully plays Clarice to Luther Lee Boggs’ Hannibal Lector… and gets royally pissed. Plus, RIP papa Scully)
    Humbug (circus freaks!…or geeks, one of those…. first really comedic X-files ep)
    Irresistible (with death fetishist killer Donnie Pfaster… brrrr)
    Milagro (love John Hawkes)
    Monday (X-files does Groundhog Day)

    And I have a sentimental fondness for
    Quagmire (conversation on the rock!) and Detour (Joy to the world!)

  24. uh huh says:


  25. Sean T says:

    I always loved Schizogeny for some reason and I have a fond memory of my dad and I watching the Chupacabra episode, so that has a special place in my fandom!

  26. l says:

    How the ghost stole Chrismas
    The Post-Modern Prometheus
    Dreamland (both parts)
    Hollywood AD

  27. My favorite MOW was EVE cant believe no one has mentioned that one and not one Lone Gunmen episode on the list and which episode is the one with the time ripple that have the dime and penny fused and features the first appearance of Mulder’s bedroom and the groundhog day style episiode

  28. OJ says:

    Flipping through your list of favourite episodes reminded me just how much Scully had to put up with – even without the episode where she performed a necropsy on an elephant.

    I would have added Beyond the Sea, Humbug, PostModern Prometheus and Clyde Bruckman myself.

  29. rebecca says:

    Clyde bruckmans final repose & tooms!

  30. ljd213 says:

    I’m going with several from season 9 including “Release”, “Audrey Pauley” and “4-D”. While it remains Sculder and Mully’s show, I loved Doggett and Reyes. They more than held up their end of the franchise.

  31. Lea says:

    My list would be:

    Ice (1×08), Beyond the Sea (1×13)
    Humbug (2×20)
    Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose (3×04), Jose Chung’s From Outer Space (3×20)
    The Field Where I Died (4×05), Paper Hearts (4×10), Small Potatoes (4×20)
    Unusual Suspects (5×03), Bad Blood (5×12)
    Milagro (6×17), The Unnatural (6×19)
    Je Souhaite (7×21)
    John Doe (8×10)

  32. SK says:

    I love X Files! I have so many favorites but Home is something I’ll always remember because of the story and that music they play in the beginning. I remember discussing this episode with my co-workers when it first aired. Chills…I do like Tooms also and a lot of the ones on your list.

  33. Jennabul says:

    I loved almost all those episodes (agree that anything with Agent Daggett shouldn’t count, it just wasn’t the same without Mulder, although I thought they tried “really” hard). That being said, Moth Men is one of my all time favorites. Those eyes in the Florida Everglades….and then under the bed waiting for Scully, I was freaked out for weeks.

  34. M says:

    20?! Now I’m depressed. This is worse than hearing Chili Peppers Muzak.

  35. Lauren says:

    Fabulous article. Best show of all time. But… Where is: Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose? Small Potatoes? Bad Blood? Also, Requiem didn’t follow All Things. Je Souhaite was the penultimate episode in Season 7. Just sayin’.

  36. ghp says:

    These four continue to stand out in my mind, even after all these years…

    Squeeze & Tooms

  37. Bob says:

    I Want To Believe…There Will Be A Third Movie…

  38. Lauren says:

    My favorite show of all time! No one on here has mentioned Arcadia – when they go undercover as a married couple. That episode was hilarious.

  39. grey says:

    “Humbug” because it was just pure silly, weird, fun and up to that point in the series there really hadn’t been an episode like that.

    I would also add the episode in which they did a spoof on “Cops.” Many shows have since tried to do the same thing – a “reality TV” POV of their characters and story – but, imo, no one has done it to the success of that episode.

  40. Marlene says:

    “Milagro” has long been my favorite episode, although I think “Memento Mori” is the best they ever produced. My favorite quote, and the sentiment that I think encompasses all of XF and Mulder and Scully in every way is from Albert Hosteen to Scully in “Amor Fati”: “There are more worlds than the one you can hold in your hand.”

    I love the witty and knowledgeable humor in your article. Thank you for that.

  41. Kiki says:

    Gotta love the x files, too many “bleeping” awesome episodes to choose from, though. “Bleep”.

  42. Gilda says:

    I love how this show just has so many quality episodes
    that every commenter can have a vastly different list and none of them are really wrong or poorly chosen!
    Personally, the lack of Clyde Bruckman’s final repose is astounding to me. I think it’s one of TV’s best episode, not just the X-Files. Also wish Pusher was there. Cerulean blue still creeps me out…
    But still, amazing list.

  43. I haven’t seen these in years, this makes me yearn to pull out the dvd’s again! Was the episode where they find the Djinn wrapped up in the carpet included in a list? Don’t remember the name, but Scully with the invisible cadaver was too memorable!

  44. janicekucera says:

    I AM SOOOO EXCITED The X-Files are coming BACK …. with our much loved original Scully & Mulder!! The chemistry between those two is like NO OTHER!! YAY and THANK YOU FOX!

  45. Deb says:

    Mine is SQUEEZED, he makes a nest out of paper and squeezes into peoples homes via air vents. I have a wet paper phobia and that one CREEP-ED me out.

  46. Guy says:

    My favorite not mentioned yet was “Folie A Deux” where the creature was “hiding in the light.” and the line “Yeah, but did he see it because he was disturbed, or was he disturbed because he saw it?”

  47. I particularly liked the episodes with the jin and cousin Oliver and the one where the reporter was doing a story on the 2 agents and Bert Parks had a role.

    Bill C.

  48. I agree with all of these and here are a few more of my favorites: all of season one especially episode 11 EVE where Eve 9 and 10 kill their fathers and sweeten Mulder and Scully’s drinks; and episode 14 GENDER BENDER in which Nicholas Lea shows up as a bit player before he plays Alex Krychek. Also season 4 episode 20 SMALL POTATOES where a man impersonates Mulder and almost gets lucky with Sully and season 6 episode 7 TERMS OF ENDEARMENT where Bruce Campbell plays a handsome devil that just wants to father a normal baby.

  49. Michael says:

    I’d like to see an episode where the two agents kill the president of the united states for being a Muslim.
    With help from aliens of course.