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

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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 (70)

  • Home is from season 4…

    Comment by Michelle – September 10, 2013 04:29 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • “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!!

    Comment by Max – September 10, 2013 04:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The list is incomplete without Bad Blood. I’m just saying…

    Comment by Nicole (@Nikki528) – September 10, 2013 04:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • 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.

      Comment by Jessica – September 10, 2013 04:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • 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”.

        Comment by Jason Johnson – September 10, 2013 07:02 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • What about Tunguska and Terma?!! They were two of my favourites. I can still hear Krycek screaming as they cut off his arm…

    Comment by Mandie – September 10, 2013 04:32 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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

    Comment by Kelly Westall-Morgan – September 10, 2013 04:33 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Sorry additional comment- the actual Anniversary is today Tuesday Sept 10- not Wed

    Comment by Kelly Westall-Morgan – September 10, 2013 04:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Robert Taylor – September 10, 2013 04:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Ditto all three of these. Bad Blood is pure genius!

      Comment by cassey – September 10, 2013 05:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • 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..

        Comment by mrwiseman – September 10, 2013 05:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • 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.

      Comment by scooby – September 10, 2013 06:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I thought the first movie was great. Like a long mythology episode.

        Comment by Lauren – September 11, 2013 08:24 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • 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.

      Comment by Elle Squared – September 10, 2013 07:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • 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.

      Comment by uh huh – September 10, 2013 10:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • AGREE.

      Comment by Lauren – September 11, 2013 08:05 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Musings of a Cigarrette-Smoking Man is from season 7

    Comment by JTP – September 10, 2013 04:35 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • And it shouldn’t be on this list.

      Comment by uh huh – September 10, 2013 10:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Nope, season 5.

      Comment by Lauren – September 11, 2013 08:26 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Season 4, actually.

        Comment by Mina – March 31, 2014 06:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” — For heaven’s sake, it won 2 Emmy’s (writing and Peter Boyle)!

    Comment by Crazy Days and Nights Fan – September 10, 2013 04:42 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • What was the name of the episode with the deformed family & had the mother under the bed with no legs?? Anyone

    Comment by K – September 10, 2013 05:07 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Home which is on this list (no. 7)

      I would like to add

      D.P.O.
      Mind’s Eye
      Ice
      Squeeze
      The Host

      Comment by LaurenTVEA (@LaurenTVEA) – September 10, 2013 05:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • The single most disturbing episode of television I ever saw was Home. I still shudder thinking about it.

        Comment by scooby – September 10, 2013 06:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • ME TOO! That show hung over me like a creepy shadow for weeks after I watched it and that is the one that I mention whenever the topic turns to scary or horrifying videos (usually around Halloween.)

          Comment by SAM – September 11, 2013 06:00 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I watched Mind’s Eye last night. Underrated episode!

        Comment by Elle Squared – September 10, 2013 07:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I would have included Ice in my top 20 as well.

        Comment by Cassandra – September 11, 2013 01:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I am thinking Peacock but I am not totally sure. I do remember the sheriff was Andy Taylor and deputy Barney.

      Comment by Dee Kottkamp – September 10, 2013 08:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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!

    Comment by Hejdi – September 10, 2013 05:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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

    Comment by ~Deb~ (@SleepyInNJ) – September 10, 2013 05:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Thank you

    Comment by K – September 10, 2013 05:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This is crazy, these are all of my favorite episodes too!!

    Comment by Marie – September 10, 2013 05:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • @ Kimberly Roots: Triangle doesn’t take place in a submarine, but on a luxury ghost cruise ship

    Comment by Romy – September 10, 2013 05:47 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I miss this show!

    Comment by GeoDiva – September 10, 2013 06:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Squeeze/Tooms, The Unusual Suspects, Pusher, and just about any episode with Krycek (and Marita Covarrubias) in it.

    Comment by Winnie – September 10, 2013 06:22 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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!

    Comment by Steven – September 10, 2013 06:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Bad Blood from season 5 with the vampires is my favorite alongside The Ghosts Who Stole Christmas.

    Comment by cindy smith – September 10, 2013 06:47 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I will never forgive that damn bee.

    Comment by DreamRose311 – September 10, 2013 07:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Philes everywhere are secretly cackling at reports of the dwindling pee population. At last… Revenge is ours.

      Comment by Elle Squared – September 10, 2013 07:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Pee population? Lol.

        Comment by Jaime – September 10, 2013 08:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Correction: we’re happy about the bees. Scully’s happy about the pee, after the monkeys from The Erlenmayer Flask. “If this is monkey pee, you’re on your own.”

          Comment by Elle Squared – September 11, 2013 06:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose. Always loved that one.

    Comment by Jo – September 10, 2013 07:54 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • My favorite show of all time. It will always be. Doesn’t seem like 20 years have gone by!! Thanks for the memories….

    Comment by RMA – September 10, 2013 08:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • My favorite MOW episode was Pusher.

    Comment by Sage – September 10, 2013 09:54 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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!)

    Comment by kajar – September 10, 2013 10:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yes! Detour! Yessssssssssss

      Comment by Lauren – September 11, 2013 08:28 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • PAPER HEARTS!!!!!

    Comment by uh huh – September 10, 2013 10:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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!

    Comment by Sean T – September 10, 2013 10:22 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • How the ghost stole Chrismas
    The Post-Modern Prometheus
    Triangle
    Dreamland (both parts)
    X-Cops
    Hollywood AD

    Comment by l – September 10, 2013 11:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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

    Comment by Matthew Lawler – September 10, 2013 11:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by OJ – September 11, 2013 01:35 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Clyde bruckmans final repose & tooms!

    Comment by rebecca – September 11, 2013 02:02 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yes, absolutely Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose. It might be my favorite Darin Morgan episode, even before Jose Chung’s From Outer Space.

      Comment by Lea – September 11, 2013 02:32 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yes! Definitely “Clyde B…” and I just thought about “Paper clip.” Oh, there are so many!! Argh! :D

      Comment by grey – September 11, 2013 04:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • And “Tooms” scared the @#$! out of me at the time. :-0 So, yes that should be on the list too. See? Just too many to name.

        Comment by grey – September 11, 2013 04:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by ljd213 – September 11, 2013 02:27 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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)

    Comment by Lea – September 11, 2013 02:40 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by SK – September 11, 2013 05:45 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Jennabul – September 11, 2013 06:14 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 20?! Now I’m depressed. This is worse than hearing Chili Peppers Muzak.

    Comment by M – September 11, 2013 06:38 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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’.

    Comment by Lauren – September 11, 2013 06:41 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • These four continue to stand out in my mind, even after all these years…

    Eve
    Squeeze & Tooms
    Triangle

    Comment by ghp – September 11, 2013 08:02 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I Want To Believe…There Will Be A Third Movie…

    Comment by Bob – September 11, 2013 08:26 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Lauren – September 11, 2013 08:31 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • “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.

    Comment by grey – September 11, 2013 04:43 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • “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.

    Comment by Marlene – September 11, 2013 08:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Gotta love the x files, too many “bleeping” awesome episodes to choose from, though. “Bleep”.

    Comment by Kiki – September 12, 2013 03:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Gilda – September 12, 2013 01:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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!

    Comment by Scott Brantley – April 2, 2014 01:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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