The X-Files (franchise)

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The X-Files
The X-Files logo.svg
Logo for The X-Files, the series which originated the franchise
Creator Chris Carter
Original work The X-Files
Print publications
Books Literature
Comics Comics
Films and television
Films The X-Files
The X-Files: I Want to Believe
Television series The X-Files
The Lone Gunmen
Original music Music of The X-Files

The X-Files is an American paranormal – thriller franchise, initially conceived by Chris Carter. The franchise generally focused on paranormal or unexplained happenings. The first franchise release—simply titled The X-Files—debuted in September 1993 and ended in May 2002. The show was a hit for Fox, and its characters and slogans (e.g., "The Truth Is Out There", "Trust No One", "I Want to Believe") became pop culture touchstones in the 1990s. 1996 saw the premiere of a second show set in the same universe but covering a storyline independent of the X-Files mythology, titled Millennium. In 1998, the first X-Files feature film titled The X-Files was released, eventually grossing over 180 million United States dollars. A spinoff—The Lone Gunmen—was released in 2001 and abruptly canceled. Six years after the initial television series was canceled, another film—The X-Files: I Want to Believe—was released. The franchise currently remains on hiatus, but is set to return in a six-episode event series, with filming to begin in summer 2015. Chris Carter will return as executive producer and writer, and David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson will reprise their roles.[1]

In addition to film and television, The X-Files franchise has expanded into other media, including books, video games, and comic books. These supplements to the film and television series have resulted in significant development of the show's fictional universe and mythology.

Television series[edit]

The most common topics in the franchise were paranormal happenings, including but not limited to alien abductions, genetic mutations, and psychic abilities. The X-Files originally followed Special Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and their work in the FBI office dedicated to the X-Files. Their investigations generally concentrate on cases declared unsolvable by normal procedures. The X-Files was generally divided into two classes of episodes, most of them being monster-of-the-week, or "stand-alone" episodes. Other episodes focused on the X-Files mytharc, which followed a government conspiracy to hide the truth about the existence of extraterrestrial life.

Millennium followed former Special Agent Frank Black, a skilled criminal psychologist who could predict the actions of murderers and serial killers. This often led Black to investigate the most brutal and horrific crimes. Black eventually became a consultant for the Millennium Group, which believed that the world as we know it would come to an end at the beginning of the new millennium. In the third season, Black turns on the group and rejoins the FBI as a special agent.

The Lone Gunmen followed the characters Richard Langly, Melvin Frohike, John Fitzgerald Byers (all of whom were recurring characters in the X-Files), and new character Jimmy Bond, in their attempts to compile a conspiracy-theorist magazine.

In March 2015 Fox confirmed a revival of the X-Files series, with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in the leads.[2]

Feature films[edit]

The first feature film, The X-Files was released in 1998 in between the fifth and sixth season. It was intended to be a continuation of the season five finale "The End", but also be able to stand on its own. Season six opener "The Beginning" picked up where the film left off. The majority of the film was shot in the break between the show's fourth and fifth seasons.[3] The film follows the actions of Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) after their dismissal from the X-Files division.

Unlike the first film, the plot of The X-Files: I Want to Believe does not focus on the series' ongoing extraterrestrial-based "mytharc" and instead works as a standalone thrillerhorror story. The film details ex-agents Mulder and Scully's search for a missing FBI agent. While Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) makes a notable appearance, John Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) are absent from the film.

During a July 2013 panel discussion at the San Diego Comic-Con hosted by TV Guide, both Anderson and Duchovny expressed willingness to do a third feature film, but Carter was more reserved at the idea, stating, "You need a reason to get excited about going on and doing it again."[4]

Media releases[edit]

Series Creator(s) Original Run Episodes Seasons
Debut End
The X-Files Chris Carter September 10, 1993 May 19, 2002 202 9
Millennium Chris Carter October 25, 1996 May 21, 1999 67 3
The Lone Gunmen Chris Carter March 2, 2001 June 1, 2001 13 1
The X-Files miniseries Chris Carter January 24, 2016 TBA 6 1
Film Release date Box office revenue Director
United States Foreign Total
The X-Files[5] June 19, 1998 $83,898,313 $105,278,110 $189,176,423 Rob Bowman
The X-Files: I Want to Believe[6] July 25, 2008 $20,982,478 $47,386,956 $68,369,434 Chris Carter



There are three series of novels based on The X-Files franchise, one based on each of the three shows. During the run of the television series The X-Files, many books based on it were written and released, including novels based on episodes, a series of comic books from Topps Comics, and many "official" and "unauthorized" non-fiction books. Some of the novels, which were published in both hardcover and trade paperback editions, were adapted into audiobooks read by two of the series' stars, Gillian Anderson and Mitch Pileggi. Three X-Files books rose to the top-selling list over Europe and North America. These books were The Official Guide to the X Files, The Unofficial X Files Companion and The X Files Book of the Unexplained.[7] series of licensed tie-in comics based on The X-Files were launched in 2004, by Topps Comics,[8] and in 2008 by the DC Comics imprint WildStorm.[9] The Fox Broadcasting Network publishes the official The X-Files Magazine.[10] In total, five novels have been based on Millennium, the first being a novelization of the pilot episode. Some novels were also released as audiobooks read by actor Bill Smitrovitch.

Toys and games[edit]

The X-Files spawned a large number of spin-off products. The X-Files Collectible Card Game was released in 1996, and an expansion pack was released in 1997.[11] The X-Files has inspired three video games. In 1998, The X-Files: The Game was released for the PC and Macintosh and a year later for the PlayStation. This game is set within the timeline of the second or third season and follows Agent Craig Willmore in his search for the missing Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.[12] In 2000, Fox Interactive released The X-Files: Unrestricted Access, a game-style database for Windows and Mac, which allowed users access to every case file.[13] Then, in 2004, The X-Files: Resist or Serve was released for the PlayStation 2. This game is an original story set in the seventh season and allows the player control of both Mulder and Scully. Both games feature acting and voice work from members of the series' cast.[14] A 12-inch Frank Black figurine was issued by Sideshow in the same mold as The X-Files Special agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully earlier.


The X-Files franchise has influenced many shows over the years and became a television touchstone of the 90s. The first show, The X-Files, became an international hit and its two main actors, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, became international sex symbols.[15] Shows such as Bones, Fringe and Lost have cited The X-Files as a major influence.[16][17][18][19] The show has also topped ranking polls worldwide, but most notably in the English speaking world.[20][21][22][23][24][25] Carter, Duchovny and Anderson celebrated the 20th anniversary of the series at a July 18, 2013 panel at the San Diego Comic-Con hosted by TV Guide. During the discussion, Anderson discussed Scully's impact on female fans, relating that a number of women have informed her that they entered into careers in physics because of the character.[4]

The two other shows in the franchise have, on the other hand, made less impact. Millennium, while well received by many critics,[26][27][28][29][30] garnered criticism for the episodes being similar to each other in content and themes. Variety magazine reviewer Jeremy Gerard, although his review was mostly favorable, criticized it for giving him the "nagging feeling" that it wanted to hurt him.[28] Many reviewers noted the dark story lines of the series, which were constantly mentioned as a reason why the show never became widely popular.[15][31][32] The spin off, entitled The Lone Gunmen, lasted only one season due to declining viewership, although it too earned largely positive reviews.[33][34]

On January 17, 2015, Fox confirmed that they were looking at the possibility of bringing The X-Files back. Fox chairman Dana Walden told reporters that "conversations so far have only been logistical and are in very early stages" and that the series would only go forward if Carter, Anderson, and Duchvony were all on board, and that it was a matter of ensuring all of their timetables are open.[35]


  1. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (March 24, 2015). "‘The X-Files’ Returns As Fox Event Series With Creator Chris Carter And Stars David Duchovny & Gillian Anderson". Retrieved March 24, 2015. 
  2. ^ Fox Will Officially Resurrect ‘The X-Files’
  3. ^ Carter, Chris and Bowman, Rob (2005). Audio Commentary for The X-Files: Fight the Future (DVD). Fox Home Entertainment. 
  4. ^ a b Keck, William (July 29, 2013). "A Very Special X-Files Reunion". TV Guide. p. 6. 
  5. ^ "The X-Files (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 31, 2009. 
  6. ^ "The X-Files: I Want to Believe". The Numbers. Retrieved July 31, 2009. 
  7. ^ Lyttle, John (May 6, 1996). "Do we need The X Files?". The Independent (London). Retrieved June 26, 2004. 
  8. ^ Bianculli, David (March 6, 1995). "'X' HITS SPOT IN COMICS, TOO". The New York Daily News. Retrieved July 27, 2009. 
  9. ^ Renaud, Jeffrey (June 12, 2008). "SPOTNITZ WANTS TO BELIEVE IN WILDSTORM'S "THE X-FILES SPECIAL"". Comic Book Resources (CBR). Retrieved July 27, 2009. 
  10. ^ O'Donnel, Maureen (June 25, 1997) "UFO lore alive in Chicago area". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved on July 27, 2009.
  11. ^ Sarrett, Peter (1997). "X-Files CCG". Gamereport. Retrieved July 27, 2009. 
  12. ^ Baxter, Steve (June 19, 1998). "Computer X-Files: The game is out there". CNN. Retrieved July 27, 2009. 
  13. ^ Flaherty, Mike (April 10, 1998). "The X-Files: Unrestricted Access". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 27, 2009. 
  14. ^ McNamara, John (June 26, 2004). "X-Files: Resist or Serve". Time Magazine (London). Retrieved July 27, 2009. 
  15. ^ a b "Duchovny's droll appeal". BBC. May 18, 2001. Retrieved 9 July 2009.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "BBC" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  16. ^ Wertheimer, Ron (March 8, 1999). "Television Review: Caught in the Trap Of Science Run Amok". The New York Times. Retrieved July 27, 2009. 
  17. ^ Millman, Joyce (March 8, 1999). "T H E X • E • R • O • X F I L E S". Salon. Retrieved July 27, 2009. 
  18. ^ Bonin, Liane (August 14, 2000). "NBC's only new hit may go to another network". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 27, 2009. 
  19. ^ Rosen, Steven (September 13, 2005). 12/2_tues/news4tuesday.html "'Bones,' from the heap of tired ideas" Check |url= scheme (help). Media Life Magazine. Retrieved July 27, 2009. [dead link]
  20. ^ "TV Guide Names the Top Cult Shows Ever". TV Guide. July 27, 1998. Retrieved June 29, 2007. 
  21. ^ "TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows". CBS News. April 26, 2002. Retrieved July 29, 2009. 
  22. ^ "Complete List — The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME". Time Magazine. September 6, 2007. Retrieved July 27, 2009. 
  23. ^ Pastorek, Whitney (2003). "The Sci-Fi 25: The Genre's Best Since 1982". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 27, 2009. 
  24. ^ "The New Classics: TV". Entertainment Weekly. 2008. Retrieved July 27, 2009. 
  25. ^ "What the MediaDNA research found". The Guardian (London). March 13, 2003. Retrieved July 23, 2009. 
  26. ^ Uhlich, Keith (September 9, 2005). "Millennium: The Complete Third Season". Slant Magazine. Retrieved July 13, 2009. 
  27. ^ Drucker, Mike (February 3, 2005). "Millennium: The Complete Second Season". IGN. Retrieved July 13, 2009. 
  28. ^ a b Gerard, Jeremy (October 21, 1996). "Millennium". Variety Magazine. Retrieved July 13, 2009. 
  29. ^ Tucker, Ken (November 8, 1996). "SCARE GIVER". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 13, 2009. 
  30. ^ Elias, Justine (October 20, 1996). "Staring Into the Heart of Darkness". The New York Times. Retrieved July 12, 2009. 
  31. ^ Wen, Howard (September 9, 1999). "IT'S NOT THE END OF THE "MILLENNIUM," AFTER ALL". Salon. Retrieved July 31, 2009. 
  32. ^ Slewinski, Christi (October 20, 1996). "'X'TRAORDINARY SUCCESS SPAWNS A DARK 'MILLENNIUM'". The New York Daily News. Retrieved July 31, 2009. 
  33. ^ Poniewozik, James (February 21, 2001). "The Goof Is Out There". Time Magazine. Retrieved July 12, 2009. 
  34. ^ Rutenberg, Jim (March 5, 2001). "MEDIA; Creator of 'X-Files' Lifts His Profile". The New York Times. Retrieved July 31, 2009. 
  35. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (January 17, 2015). "Fox Confirms ‘X-Files’ Reboot Talks, David Duchovny & Gillian Anderson To Return: Update". Retrieved January 18, 2015. 

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