We Want to Believe: “The X-Files” Ultimate Watch Guide & Where to Watch it

What is The X-Files about?

A captivating sci-fi/thriller/mystery series that revolves around two FBI special agents who investigate mysterious and bizarre cases of unusual activity. While one of them believes in the existence of extraterrestrial beings and paranormal phenomena, the other is skeptical of that and puts more faith in scientific analysis and rational explanations of each of the things they encounter. Many of the cases they tackle throughout the series don’t necessarily get solved by the end of the episodes — or even at all, leaving many things to linger on as mysteries throughout the run of the series.

THE X-FILES, Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, 1993-2002.

20th Century Fox Film Corp./Courtesy: Everett Collection.

Original TV Home:


Number Of Seasons:

9 (September 1993-May 2002). The series also gave birth to two theatrical movies (1998 and 2008). A revival premiered in 2016, aimed at revisiting the main characters and some of the mysteries they investigated. The 11th and final season aired in 2018.

Total Episodes/Time Table:

202 episodes (approx. 42-48 min. each, as well as an 86-min. final episode) = approx. 150 hours + 2 movies (approx. 2 hours each) = approx. 154 hours.


Who is in The X-Files?

Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, Mitch Pileggi, Robert Patrick, Annabeth Gish, Tom Braidwood, William B. Davis, Bruce Harwood, Dean Haglund, Nicholas Lea. Lots of other stars populated the series as it went on, both in recurring roles and in guest appearances. Among them: James Pickens Jr., Jerry Hardin, Mimi Rogers, Cary Elwes, Veronica Cartwright, Adam Baldwin, Cliff De Young, Malcolm Stewart. John Neville, Felicity Huffman, Steve Hytner, Michael McKean, Darren McGavin, Neal McDonough, Nora Dunn, Joe Spano, Peter Boyle, Bruce Weitz, William Sanderson, Bryan Cranston, CCH Pounder, William Devane and many others.

THE X-FILES, Garry Shandling, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, 'Hollywood A.D.,' (Season 7, Episode 19, aired Apr 30, 2000), 1993-2002.

Larry Watson/20th Century Fox Film/Courtesy Everett Collection

Where can you stream The X-Files?

It is currently streaming on Hulu or available for purchase on Amazon or iTunes. Over the air it is on Comet TV and is also available on DVD (individual seasons as well as a complete boxed set) and Blu-ray.

Why is it binge-worthy?

The X-Files was the longest-running sci-fi series of its time. It was also a huge hit in its day. Given today’s proliferation of sci-fi on TV and in the movies, it would probably have been an even bigger attraction now.

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson costar as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, a pair of FBI agents assigned to the X-Files, a series of cases often involving unexplained phenomena — and, in some instances, apparent extraterrestrial lifeforms. Suspicions of government conspiracies and coverups play a big part in many of the show’s storylines. “Trust No One.” “I Want to Believe.” “The Truth Is Out There.” Such catchphrases, used throughout the series, became everyday slogans for the show’s many fans during its initial run.

The chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson starts modestly but grows a lot as the series carries on. Some of the technology used in early seasons (old cordless phones, massive antenna cellphones, etc.) seems somewhat comical to see now. But the scientific thesis and conspiracy theories behind many episodes — even the oldest and most far-fetched — remain valid and intriguing.

The X-Files was the brainchild of creator/executive producer Chris Carter. His creative team included a number of other talented and noteworthy writers and producers, including: Vince Gilligan (who went on to give us Breaking Bad, Battle Creek and Better Call Saul), Frank Spotnitz (The Man in the High Castle) and Howard Gordon (Homeland). Duchovny ended up writing three episodes of the series and contributing stories to five others. He also directed three installments during the show’s latter seasons. Anderson, meanwhile, wrote only one episode, which she also directed.

THE X-FILES, from left: Gillian Anderson, Chris Carter, David Duchovny, (1997), 1993-2018,

Troy House/Fox Network./Courtesy Everett Collection

During the first five seasons of The X-Files, the show was filmed in and around Vancouver, British Columbia. The production then moved to Los Angeles, in part because Duchovny reportedly grew weary of the rainy weather in Vancouver. As the show carried on, Duchovny’s attempts to beef up his contract resulted in him dropping out of the show for much of the the final two seasons. Robert Patrick stepped in to fill the void as John Doggett, who became Scully’s new partner during Mulder’s absence. A strong cast of other talented actors rounded out the series, including Mitch Pileggi as FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner, William B. Davis as the notorious and eerie Cigarette Smoking Man and a pre-Grey’s Anatomy James Pickens Jr. in the role of FBI Assistant Director (later Deputy Director) Adam Kersh. Also worth mentioning among the crowd: Bruce Harwood, Tom Braidwood and Dean Haglund, better known as the Lone Gunmen, a trio of characters who ended up with their own short-lived spinoff series.

Must-See Episodes

There are so many must-see episodes in The X-Files and they’re way too numerous to mention. Nevertheless, there are some that are among the “best of the best” …

Pilot (Season 1, Episode 1): The episode introduces us to Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and sets the stage for much of what is to come. Other characters also revealed early in the episode, like the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis), turn out to be quite significant as the series goes on.

Deep Throat (Season 1, Episode 2): A young Seth Green guest-stars as one of two teenage stoners who Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Mulder (David Duchovny) encounter outside a military base in Idaho. The title of the episode refers to a mysterious informant (Jerry Hardin) who gives Mulder clues regarding the government and military conspiracies he is chasing down.

THE X-FILES, David Duchovny, 1993-2018,

Ken Staniforth/Fox Network./Courtesy Everett Collection

Conduit (Season 1, Episode 4): This episode is the first to shed more light on Mulder (David Duchovny) and his past, as well as his sister’s disappearance as a child, which accounts for his obsession with alien abductions.

E.B.E. (Season 1, Episode 17): This episode introduced Bruce Harwood, Dean Haglund and Tom Braidwood as the trio of recurring characters known as the Long Gunmen.

Tooms (Season 1, Episode 21): Mitch Pileggi makes his first appearance as FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner in an episode that revives the villain who first appeared in Squeeze (see “Most Shocking Episodes”).

The Erlenmeyer Flask (Season 1, Episode 24): The finale of the first season was the show’s most-viewed episode of that year. It has Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Mulder (David Duchovny) discovering evidence of extraterrestrial DNA.

Little Green Men (Season 2, Episode 1): The debut episode of the second season was the first one to show what seems to be a live extraterrestrial in the show.

THE X-FILES, from left: Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, Nicholas Lea, Mitch Pileggi, William B. Davis, Dean Haglund, Bruce Harwood, Tom Braidwood, and series creator Chris Carter (in monitor), TV GUIDE cover, May 17-23, 1997.

TV Guide/courtesy Everett Collection

Sleepless (Season 2, Episode 4): This episode introduces Nicholas Lea as FBI agent Alex Krycek.

Anasazi (Season 2, Episode 25): Mulder (David Duchovny) receives a computer disk with top-secret files that sheds light on extraterrestrials.

The Blessing Way (Season 3, Episode 1) and Paper Clip (Season 3, Episode 2): The storyline, which is split over two episodes, contains virtually all of the elements that the show is about — sneaky government secrecy, UFOs, aliens … and the Lone Gunmen.

Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose (Season 3, Episode 4): The late Peter Boyle guest-stars as a sarcastic guy who has bizarre psychic powers and helps Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) track down a killer. The episode is both intriguing and bitingly funny. Boyle won an Emmy Award for his performance in this episode, which also garnered a Emmy for its writing.

Paper Hearts (Season 4, Episode 10): This is probably the episode that focuses on Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) the most. Written by Vince Gilligan, it revolves around a serial killer (Tom Noonan) who claims to have murdered Mulder’s sister.

Bad Blood (Season 5, Episode 12): Another one written by Vince Gilligan, this episode finds Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) probing a bizarre case involving a possible vampire.

THE X-FILES, 1993-2002, James Pickens, Jr.,

20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection

The Beginning (Season 6, Episode 1): This episode marked “the beginning” of the shift in production of the show to Los Angeles from Vancouver. Also … long before he inhabited Seattle Grace Hospital as Dr. Richard Webber on Grey’s Anatomy, James Pickens Jr. put in a 19-episode stint on The X-Files over the course of four seasons, playing FBI Assistant Director (later Deputy Director) Alvin Kersh. This is the episode that introduces his character.

Drive (Season 6, Episode 2): Yet another episode written by Vince Gilligan. This one features a special guest star: Bryan Cranston. It is reputed to be the episode where Cranston and Gilligan actually met for the first time. The pair would eventually go on to work together on a cool little TV show called Breaking Bad.

X-Cops (Season 7, Episode 12): This episode is kind of a kooky crossover with another FOX TV series. The opening portions are staged and played like a typical episode of Cops before the story eventually transitions to include Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Mulder (David Duchovny) and — wait for it — a possible werewolf.

All Things (Season 7, Episode 17): The story sheds some new light on Scully (Gillian Anderson) and her past as she contemplates the choices she has made through life. But the opening scene and its narration are a great teaser to get things going. The episode is the only one of the series to be written by Anderson, who also directed it..

Within (Season 8, Episode 1): This chapter introduces Robert Patrick as a main character in the cast, taking on the role of John Doggett, an FBI agent who eventually becomes Scully’s new partner.

The Truth (Season 9, Episode 18): The final, 86-minute episode of the series’ original run is a must-see. It also marks the full return of Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) after an absence of some time. The episode recaps much of the show’s story threads and wraps up some of its theory of extraterrestrial beings. And whether the truth is out there. It’s a fitting conclusion that sets the stage for the movie sequel … and the TV revival.

Most Shocking Episodes

Again … there are a lot of shocking and spine-tingling episodes in this series. Among the most stunning entries …

Squeeze (Season 1, Episode 3): This is the first episode built on a structure that has often been referred to as “monster of the week.” It proved to be a popular tool that boosted the show’s audience. The installment revolves around a serial killer (Doug Hutchison) who has a mysterious and bizarre history. He shows up again later in the season, in “Tooms” (Season 1, Episode 21).

THE X-FILES, Darin Morgan, 'The Host', (S2.E2, aired Sep 23, 1994), 1993-2018,

Ken Staniforth/Fox Network./Courtesy Everett Collection

The Host (Season 2, Episode 2): The notion of slopping around raw sewage is gross, to be sure. But this offbeat episode is a pulpy spine-chiller that revolves around a spooky sewer monster who wreaks havoc. It may make you think twice about using an unfamiliar toilet.

Duane Berry (Season 2, Episode 5) and Ascension (Season 2, Episode 6): A two-episode storyline has Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Mulder (David Duchovny) encountering the case of a former FBI agent (Steve Railsback) who claims he has been a UFO abductee. Things don’t go so well and Scully ends up being abducted.

One Breath (Season 2, Episode 8): Gillian Anderson’s real-life pregnancy led to a storyline that had her character, Dana Scully, get abducted. She finally reappears in this episode, mysteriously showing up comatose in a hospital.

Irresistible (Season 2, Episode 13): Brace yourself. This is probably one of the creepiest episodes — maybe even the creepiest one — of the entire series. It revolves around a scary sicko (Nick Chinlund) who has a fetish for collecting hair, fingernails and other body parts from dead females. The episode also delves into some demons from Scully’s past.

Our Town (Season 2, Episode 24): Disturbing themes of cannibalism surface in this chiller that revolves around a chicken-processing plant. Oh, one more thing … After watching this, and seeing Scully (Gillian Anderson) carrying a bucket of fried chicken around in one scene, like Scully, you may never want to consume take-out chicken ever again.

Grotesque (Season 3, Episode 14): A creepy, gothic atmosphere fills this episode about a killer obsessed with gargoyles. The case nearly sends Mulder (David Duchovny) off the deep end.

THE X-FILES, from left: Adrian G. Griffiths, Chris Nelson Norris, John Trottier, 'Home', season 4, ep. 2, aired 10/11/1996, 1993-2018,

Ken Staniforth/Fox Network./Courtesy Everett Collection

Home (Season 4, Episode 2): Nasty, nasty, nasty. Definitely one of the most disturbing episodes of the series, this installment stirred up a lot of controversy because of its bizarre and horrific story of murder and its theme of incest/inbreeding. The episode revolves around a sleepy Pennsylvania town that is home to a bizarre family that embarks on a nightmarish killing spree.

Detour (Season 5, Episode 4): A delightfully spooky yarn, this episode has been referred to by some as a cross between Deliverance and Predator.

Requiem (Season 7, Episode 22): This season finale is a milestone episode that marks a major shift as Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) return to the place where they investigated their first case. In addition, Scully discovers some surprising news about herself.

Badlaa (Season 8, Episode 10): It’s spooky and gross. This episode starts off in India and revolves around an amputee street beggar (Deep Roy) with mystical powers that allow him to implant himself into others.

Existence (Season 8, Episode 21): The show’s eighth-season finale is another milestone episode that has a significant impact on the lives of Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Mulder (David Duchovny).

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March 2020

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