The 25 Best Episodes of ‘The X-Files,’ Ranked

     September 10, 2018


The 25th anniversary of the premiere of The X-Files is upon us. This cult-favorite sci-fi/horror show created by Chris Carter stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. He is the believer: he believes in aliens, UFOs, psychics, ghosts, and all manner of paranormal phenomenon, likely stemming from his younger sister, Samantha’s, abduction by aliens when they were children. She is the skeptic: a medical doctor who rewrote Einstein and who believes only in the scientific method. Initially Scully is sent to “spy” on Mulder and his pet project, the X-files (unexplained cases that the FBI would rather forget), but the two become much more than just partners. They are confidants, they are best friends, they are soulmates, and eventually, lovers.

I first stumbled onto The X-Files as a 13 year old kid, looking for something to watch on Friday night. I remembered seeing an ad for this show about aliens, and being a weird kid, thought this was right up my alley. Ten minutes into the pilot episode, and I was beyond hooked. I was obsessed. The series ran for nine seasons in its initial run, before returning for two “revival” seasons, the last of which ended earlier this year. With two theatrical movies and 218 episodes, dozens of books and comic books, 16 Emmy awards, five Golden Globes, two SAG awards, a Peabody award, and a rabid fanbase that literally invented the term “shipping,” The X-Files is an unstoppable force.

In honor of the show’s 25th anniversary, I have ranked the top 25 episodes of the series. This was far more difficult than it sounds. If tasked with the same 25 episodes, I probably couldn’t rank them in the same order a second time. Every time I scrolled through this list, I wanted to rearrange episodes. Finally I had to just stop. It’s like choosing your favorite child.

Note: I should point out that I did not include fan favorite “The Post-Modern Prometheus,” which was Chris Carter’s version of a Frankenstein story. It is a beautifully shot, delightfully quirky episode with one, fatal flaw. The kid who admits to raping at least two women is basically given a pass because he is severely deformed and forced to live away from other humans. Instead of taking him to prison, Mulder and Scully (and the rest of the town, including the women he raped) take him to a Cher concert. The presumption is that they take him to prison after, but the idea that he is rewarded for being a rapist is just something I cannot stomach.