The X-Files

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Name: The X-Files
Abbreviation(s): XF, TXF
Creator: Chris Carter
Date(s): 1993-2002 (TV series); 1998, 2008 (theatrical films)
Medium: Television series, Movie series, Video Games
Country of Origin: US
External Links: IMDB Gossamer Project

Subpages for The X-Files:
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Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
Mulder and Scully by Caren Parnes. A drawing based on an old promo photo.

The X-Files is an American science fiction/fantasy television series created by Chris Carter and starring Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny that initially ran from September 10, 1993 to May 19, 2002. There have been two accompanying major film releases: The X-Files: Fight the Future in 1998, and The X-Files: I Want To Believe in 2008. In 2016 a six episode event series aired from January 24th to February 22nd.

The premise of the series and films is the investigation of paranormal cases (x-files) conducted by FBI special agents Fox Mulder, an Oxford-educated psychologist, and Dana Scully, a medical doctor. While Mulder is willing to give credence to supernatural or fantastic explanations for the cases that he and Scully investigate, Scully is skeptical and will first look to science for answers. They report directly to Assistant Director Walter Skinner, whose patience is constantly taxed by Mulder's flippant insubordination.

Mulder and Scully on the back page of Trexperts #34, Robert Bruce Lloyd

Over the course of nine seasons, The X-Files developed a famously complex mythology arc, or "mytharc," involving a government conspiracy to conceal the existence and activities of extraterrestrial beings. The Syndicate behind this conspiracy was associated with many shady characters, including Alex Krycek, Marita Covarrubias, and operatives who were never given proper names and simply referred to by epithets such as Cigarette Smoking Man (CSM), and Well-Manicured Man (WMM).


There are three distinct periods of fannish activity for X-Files. The dates in-between these waves doesn't mean there weren't fans or fanworks being created, but that fannish activity had slowed.

Wave 1

Wave 1: roughly 1993-2003. it featured, among other things, the first-run episodes, Usenet newsgroups, Haven, Ephemeral, and the Gossamer era.

Wave 2

Wave 2: roughly 2008-2011. It featured the IWTB movie revival and was part of the LiveJournal era.

Wave 3

Wave 3: began in 2015. It is based on the series' revival and its platform is Tumblr.

In March 2015, it was announced that The X-Files miniseries, a continuation of the original series would have a six-episode run on network television starting January 24, 2016.

X-Files Fandom: First Wave

Fan activity surrounding The X-Files started on usenet and dates back to December 1993, with the creation of[1] ATXF's fic-friendly counterpart,, was founded in May 1994.[2]

Several more usenet groups and multiple private and public mailing lists developed from The X-Files' central fandom on and

Yes Virginia was one such group, later credited for developing a high critical standard of editing, or beta. See Machete Beta.

Other mailing lists include EMXC, XAPEN, PhoeniXFic, XFF, FicTalk, X-Files Creative, Scullyfic, and WhyIncision.

One recommendation site, created in the mid-nineties, is IOHO. Another was Sparky's Doghouse. Chronicle X was also a popular website, now defunct, that offered a small archive of favorite stories as well as links to authors' pages and specialty archives. The site was well known for its twice monthly interviews with fanfic writers.

An overview of these early online fannish activities, complete with sample episode guides, show commentary and fan fiction can be found at the textfiles directory.

X-Files had a huge number of specialized fic archives, each catering to a different target audience. It wasn't unusual to have MSR archives that dealt specifically with stories where Mulder and Scully were forced to share a bed, or stories where they took baths together. Free sites like Tripod and GeoCities made it easy to throw together such specialized archives. Consequently, most of these sites were lost when the hosts went under or were bought out.

The fandom had several fan-run awards, including the Spookys, Morleys, Starbucks and Whammys, that honored excellence in fanfic.

Some Fan Fiction Firsts

The Term "Shipping"

X-Files, and its time place in history as one of the first big internet fandoms, is often regarded as the fandom that started formal shipping.

The term originated in the X-Files fandom, probably on, where viewers who wanted to see a romantic relationship between Fox Mulder and Dana Scully were dubbed "relationshippers," or "shippers."

One early use of the term was in April 1996; a fan describes her story as something "I think that everyone, both R'shipper's and Non R'shipper's alike, can enjoy this story. :D." [4]

Another fan in 1996 posted: "It comes to my attention that there is a great deal of misunderstanding as to what exactly it is that we "relationshippers" want in the show. To say that we want Mulder and Scully to simply fall into bed together like would happen on any other show on TV is unfair, and patently untrue...One of the reasons we 'shippers have kept to ourselves for so long is because every time we dare to bring our opinions forth, we get words that we never spoke shoved into our mouths and then we get flamed for them..." [5]

From a fan in 2006:

I think the X Files started it when the endless "will they wont they" storyline combined with the out of control myth-arc. As the myth-arc got more inaccessible, people turned away from it to the much simpler matter of the characters shagging each other senseless. More people got online during the mid-to-late 90's, it was easier for them to get into that....

Then there's gender: Blokes don't talk about their feelings so much as a rule. They were more likely to sit around discussing the workings of the Starship Enterprise than write about Spock/Kirk getting it on. The character of Scully drew a lot more women into the budding net fandom where they discovered that they, um, were not alone. They brought all these messy feelings with them. The "will they wont they" messed up myth-arc encouraged that at just the right moment and shipping - not quite as we know it today - was born. Women then found that this new medium gave them freedom to explore the sexual fantasies they'd always had but had never before been able to express. Through the guise of becoming your favourite ship you can try out all sorts of stuff that you might never dream of doing in real life. Men wanting to see lesbians at it has generally been regarded as fine but women wanting to see two men getting on it... woah! Incest?! Go for it. S&M? Rape? Torture? Men have so much fantasy fodder provided for them, we've had to make it all for ourselves... and how we have!! We've broadened the playground and we're obsessed by the wonderland we've created for ourselves. It's a fantastical pandora's box we've opened with our silly little shipping....

It makes perfect sense that teenagers are very into this. Men fantasize alone. Women are doing it all together, which is a touch weird and goodness knows what it'll do to society. I'm hoping it's a positive effect. So shippers are pushing the envelope of our human sexual fantasies, forcing them into respectability. Fandom has become less about the shows themselves and more about making friends and exploring relationships and sexuality. Whether you perceive that as good or bad really depends on what you wanted from your fandom in the first place. [6]
From a fan in 2008:

Ah, but don't you know, to us shippers the X-File was always secondary to the Mulder/Scully stuff. ;)

I'm being only partially facetious here. Really, a number of the individual episode's "A-plots" were pretty stupid at worst and a bit ... holey at best if you thought about them too hard. The mytharc was a complete and total mess by the series end. The reason I loved the show was the characters. As I used to say back then, "The X-Files" was really a character driven show in a plot driven show's clothing. [7]

A Fandom of Acronyms

Starting in 1994, the x-files Usenet group ( began compiling list of fannish acronyms used in X-Files fandom. Ex: E.B.E. (Extraterrestrial Biological Entity) and ISS (Infamous Speedo Scene, referring to a scene in where Mulder emerges from the pool wearing a very skimpy pair of Speedos.)

See Speedos - Acronyms explained - on Google Groups.

This 2000 list at is probably the most complete: X-PLAINING ATXF part 3: acronyms and inside jokes .

A Fandom of Intense Media Interest

This tshirt of unknown origin demonstrates how important the Internet was to the growing fandom. On the front of the shirt it reads: "X-Philes - The Truth Is Online." The back of the tshirt lists website addresses
the back of the shirt lists The Gossamer Project, X-Files Usenet groups, and the X-Files Multimedia Archive, among other sites

The X-Files' popularity, combined with the rising influence and availabilty of the internet, and the interest in fandom fanned by books such as Textual Poachers and Enterprising Women, made the show a media and press darling. There was an explosion in the number of articles in mainstream publications that attempted to explain this "new" thing called fanfiction. See Category:Perspectives on Fans for more information.

In a 2015 Gizmodo article, X-Files was credited with having spurred a new type of online fandom:

", which is still an active forum, sprang into one of the first flourishing fandom hubs. It was followed by a bloom of competing groups and thousands of garish Geocities websites, from the (impeccably named) David Duchovny Estrogen Brigade to the (also impeccably named) Order of the Blessed Saint Scully the Enigmatic.

It was one of those lucky moments of convergence where a show that questioned authority and promoted fringe or alternative thinking came out just as the greatest tool for subversion and spreading unconventional ideas became mainstream.

Fans adopted the new technology of the internet to talk about the show, helping the Friday night cult hit balloon into a pop culture phenomenon These fans pioneered a new way to interact with media that presaged social media."[8]

Cease & Desist


X-Files was a fandom that stood at the threshold of fandom's migration to the Internet and experienced maybe the first salvo in the "World Wide Web War Against Fandom". In the early-1990s few fans had the resources to host and design their own websites so fandom was concentrated to a few main archives and fan websites. [9] By the mid-1990s, as technology and Internet access improved, more fan sites began appearing [10] leading 20th Century Fox to launch a legal campaign against the use of images and sound files from its two more popular TV shows: The Simpsons and the X-Files.

"Strange things are happening in cyberspace. Visitors to The Simpsons Files , which once housed a pretty cool stash of sound files such as Homer's "mmmm . . . forbidden donut," have recently been greeted by a downright forbidding cease and desist order. Issued in accordance with the very X-Files­ sounding "Imperial Department W Provisions," it reads like something Darth Vader would write if he had gone to Yale Law School. But it's no joke. On April 9 [1997], X-Files fan Eric Wacker received a similar letter via certified mail from the same law firm of Baker & Hostetler, legal representatives for Fox, which owns both shows. Informing Wacker that their "Internet monitoring program" had discovered his website used material from The X-Files, the letter waved a finger of admonition: "We must respectfully ask that you remove all audio clips and video clips relating to The X-Files from your website as soon as possible. If you do not remove these properties, we may be forced to take legal action to have them removed." [11]

Perhaps because of the new participatory power of the Internet, X-Files fandom did not take the assault lying down. They quickly organized themselves into a viral pro-fandom campaign called "Free Speech Is Out There: Protecting X-Phile WebSites." [12] When Lucasfilm began targeting Star Wars fan websites that same year, fandom realized that this was this was not an isolated act by a single studio.

Even industry magazines took notice. E-Online reported:

"But for Web fans, resistance hasn't been futile. When Lucasfilm made a threatening phone call to a popular Star Wars site last April, it was confronted with a rebel assault of calls, faxes, and E-mails, which eventually persuaded the company to back down. Likewise, X-Philes have been repelling Fox's crackdown on X-Files websites with a Free Speech Is Out There protest. The irony is that most of the infringement rises from a devotion the corporations normally welcome. Jeanette Foshee says she was simply trying to share her fandom of The Simpsons when she [drew] 400 icons depicting the show's cast and distributed them gratis on the Web. When Fox discovered the cut-and-pastables, it demanded that Foshee provide a detailed list of anyone who'd ever downloaded the icons." [13][14]

Other fandoms and TV shows were pulled into the battle, with 20th Century Fox shifting its focus to its then ratings impaired TV show Millennium and with Viacom targeting Star Trek websites. [15][16]

In the "War Against Fandom", one commentator astutely noted:

"The problem is that the nature of fandom has changed fundamentally in the past 30 years, while perception of the role of fan culture in marketing campaigns has not. No longer content to be passive consumers, fans - especially those on the Net - now expect to be listened to by those who create the culture they enjoy. They demand to be in the loop.

Both the fans and the media companies want to cheat a little. The media companies want to parade their Web savvy in the marketplace and they want to funnel all the Net traffic into a few commercial sites. The fans want to have freedom of speech and assembly in sites of their own choosing and to have fewer constraints on the use of copyrighted materials than in any other medium." [17]

By 1997, the phrase "Foxed" had become a techno verb "used to describe a Web site threatened with legal action for copyright infringement." [18]


Without Mulder many fans were no longer interested in the show.

The addition of new characters to the show often disrupted fandom and sparked flamewars as fans took sides.

Season five's The End marked the introduction of Agent Diana Fowley as an ex-coworker -- and just plain ex -- of Mulder's. Many Mulder/Scully shippers saw her as a threat and responded accordingly.

But that small upset was nothing compared to the backlash that took place when Mulder more or less left after season seven and Agent John Doggett and Agent Monica Reyes joined Scully in the x-files office in the eighth season. Many fans were upset over this development, but some took it to extremes. One example was the short-lived 2001 website The DoggShit Website.

Laurie Haynes, owner of the X-Files Creative mailing list and its archive Xemplary, went so far as to refuse to archive fics with Doggett in them and viciously bashed Doggett in public forums.[19] This brought up a lot of questions about creative expression and censorship. See Ban of Doggettfic. At the time, XFC was one of the largest mailing lists in fandom and fans resented being told they had to ignore a significant part of canon in order to be able to post there.

For other conflicts, see:

The Chris Carter Affect, and Canon Failures

See The Chris Carter Effect.

The X-Files was a show that got in over its head regarding canon continuity and expectations.

Fans constantly complained of storylines that went nowhere, revelations that hit walls, poor continuity, lack of character development, constant use of the reset button, increasingly bizarre complications that promised much but delivered little, and general perceived ineptness and cohesion regarding the overall mytharc.

Some fan comments:

Sept. 11 had a profound effect on my fic habits, but I suspect that everyone lost interest in their hobbies for a while, whatever their hobbies were. It didn't destroy the show. I think we can agree that the show committed suicide. One of the continuing weaknesses of The X-Files was that it didn't let the characters grow or change, or even remember. Scully's chip, Skinner's nanites, little lost Gibson--ignored and forgotten. [20]
If we're gonna make a list of all the times the show didn't deal with the fall out of various major events, we're going to be up all night. *laugh* I am convinced the X-Files has got such a tremendous amount of fanfiction because of the repeated frustrations experienced by fans while watching it. Fanfic fixes characters, narration, story lines, continuity. It adds layers of complexity to a show's universe (unless you're talking PWP of course). There is less need for it when the series isn't flawed. I guess we should thank the boys at 1013 for having made such a giant mess of it! [21]
I, at any rate, was quite sure up through about season 6 that Chris Carter had a grand master narrative in mind and that all the inconsistencies and loose ends would one day come together. And in order to believe this, I had to put a lot of work into creating schemes and plots and explanations for things that would create sense and meaning where, in fact, none really existed. But we enjoyed doing it. For a while, it was fun coming up with theories and trying to figure out where the show was going next and imagining ways in which things that appear out of character were in fact totally in character and things that appear contradictory did in fact make perfect sense, in the expanded X-Files Universe that we the fans were constructing in our heads and online. And then, at around season 7, it became impossible to sustain belief. It became pretty clear that there was no grand master narrative, just Chris Carter making shit up, and doing it less and less plausibly as time went on. And it was bitter. [22]
I wish they'd handled Duchovny's absence better, I wish they'd exited Mulder and Scully together at the end of season 8, hell, I wish they'd ended the show with Requiem." Another fan replied: "Me, too. I think everyone but the diehard fans of season 8 and 9 would agree with us. I can see now that the ending of "Requiem" was poignant and gave both characters what they wanted: Mulder got his aliens and Scully got a second chance at a normal life. [23]

Fans in Canon

In the second season episode Little Green Men, the plane manifest that Scully is scanning while searching for Mulder lists several online X-Files fans as passengers, including Cliff Chen and Pat Gonzales.[24]

In May 2001, in the episode Alone, Agent Leyla Harrison was introduced as a tribute to Leyla Harrison, a popular fanfic writer who had passed away in February 2001. In 2002, Agent Harrison returned in the ninth season episode Scary Monsters.

Starting in the ninth season, the show got a new opening credit sequence during which a document headed "FBI Contacts, Witnesses and Contributors" could be seen. Every episode had a slightly different list of names, many of which belonged to online fans, including FrogDoggie, Deslea, sistaspooky, and PaigeCald.[25]

Ships, Slash and Noromos

Mulder/Scully romance cover

Popular ships and slash pairings include (in order of date when they first flowered): Fox Mulder/Dana Scully, Noromos, Fox Mulder/Alex Krycek, Fox Mulder/Walter Skinner, Walter Skinner/Alex Krycek, Dana Scully/Walter Skinner, Dana Scully/Alex Krycek, and Dana Scully/Monica Reyes.



Early X-Files fandom did not embrace RPF or "actorfic" as it was known then. Even with the increasing popularity of popslash and bandom, X-Files fandom has been resistant to change and RPF is still considered taboo in many X-Files communities.

See X-Files RPF for more.

Interviews with Fans

See Category: X-Files Fan Interviews.


Popular Tropes in Fanworks

  • Fuck or Die/Aliens Made Them Do It: Characters are forced to engage in sexual intercourse, usually by aliens, madmen, or members of the conspiracy. This would often occur in captivity, sometimes with the help of chemical stimulants.
  • One motel room: Oh no, there's only one room left! Characters have to share a motel room, and often a bed. This actually happened to Mulder and Scully in the sixth season episode The Rain King when Mulder's motel room was destroyed by a flying cow. He moved his stuff into Scully's room, but the show didn't bother to explain the sleeping arrangements. Fans happily filled the gap with dozens of missing scene fics.[26]
  • Undercover: Characters go undercover, often posing as a couple, in order to investigate crime or paranormal activity. This was a popular cliche long before season six's Arcadia saw Mulder and Scully moving into a gated community as husband and wife, wearing a pink polo shirt and a twin set, respectively. These fics could be light-hearted and romantic, or dark and angsty. In Parrotfish's award-winning Caught in the Act III: Sub Rosa, Mulder and Scully go undercover to infiltrate a white supremacist militia group and find themselves in over their heads.[27]
  • Quarantine: Exposed to alien spores or unknown toxins? Time to be locked up in quarantine together. This got an early start on the show. In the first season, Mulder and Scully are exposed to a nasty insect in Darkness Falls and after being rescued are confined to a secure quarantine facility in order to regain their strength. This bit of canon influenced a lot of fanfic, encouraging fans to write their own quarantine fics and post-eps for episodes like Ice, Field Trip, Firewalker, and of course Darkness Falls itself.[28]
  • Bodyswap: Characters swap bodies. This, too, happened on the show, in the season six two-parter Dreamland, but in that episode Mulder swapped bodies with Morris Fletcher, who was not a series regular. Fans are more likely to write stories where the main characters swap bodies.
  • Case fic: Many stories mimicked the show by creating a mystery for Mulder and Scully to solve.
  • songfics and fic inspired by music by Melissa Etheridge


Cover of the fanzine The Skeptic and the Believer

X-Files was one of the first fandoms where the majority of fan activity happened online. As a result, the number of fanzines in the fandom does not reflect the size and breadth of fannish participation. A list of the X-files fanzines in print can be found X-Files Fanzines on Fanlore and at List of X-Files Fanzines.

Fanfic Archives

Besides the major archive project Gossamer, X-Files fandom boasted a wide variety of specialty archives at the height of its popularity.[29] Archives existed for characters, pairings, genres (both XF-specific such as Muldertorture or Profiler!Mulder as well as panfandom ones such as AUs), kinks, ratings and formats. Many have since vanished, but others are still online.

fanthropology reports that the first two X-Files fan fic archives were Rutgers (September 1994) and X-Files fan fiction ftp archive[30] (August 1994) both of which predated the popular Gossamer archive.[31]

The specialty archives included:

TER/MA, the Mulder/Krycek archive
IOHO website and archive

Notable Fanfic

Also see Category:X-Files Fanfiction.

Chrome-Magnon, page 4. A fancomic by astridv.


Even after the show ended, some fans continued to make vids and share them online. Here are a few archived websites

Other songvids by fans can be found under the vidder's name here on Fanlore. A few VCR-era songvids are listed below where the vidder's name cannot be identified

  • "Ghostbuster"


Some filks are here: X-Ville: X-Files: The Musical, Archived version

Filks archived at X-Files University are here.


LJ Communities


  • xfiles -- large general discussion community
  • XF Book Club on LiveJournal (As of April 1, 2015, its members have discussed at length 255 X-Files stories. A frankly fantastic site.)

Recs & Ficfinding:

Fanfic, all kinds:



Art & Multimedia:


Meta/Further Reading

External Links


  1. on Google Groups
  2. on Google Groups.
  3. FanHistory cites Rosalita's comment in the fanthropology LJ community (offline).
  4. NEW: TITLE 17 [1/1], post by Amy Schatz, April 20, 1996
  5. Clarification (was Re: My problem with 'anti-relationshippers'....), Eric Johns, May 17, 1996
  6. The internet is for... ah, you know...; Archive (post and comments about shipping, and pairing, history of terms, and prevalence) (2006)
  7. Checking in on July 25, daybreaq, July 27, 2008
  8. How Horny X-Files Lovers Created a New Type of Online Fandom, Archived version
  9. "The X-Files, X-Philes and X-philia: Internet fandom as a site of convergence" by Amanda Howell (2000)
  10. By 1997, there were 900 unofficial X-Files websites
  11. "The Web Wars" by Jeff Yario (1997)
  12. Free Speech Is Out There: Protecting X-Phile WebSites, Archived version
  13. "The Empire Strikes Back: Things Get Sticky For Fan Sites On The World Wide Web," E-Online (1997)
  14. 20th Century Fox's Official Letter to Jeanette Foshee
  15. "Fox Fights Millenium Fansites," E-Online (1996)
  16. "Fox Slams Bootleg Millennium Sites," HotWired (1997)
  17. "The War Against Fandom," by Steven Silberman (1997)
  18. Blue's News, November 26, 1997
  19. xfc: Change in Xemplary policy, Mar 6 2001.
  20. anonymous commenter at xf book club, November 2009
  21. badforthefish at xf book club, November 2013
  22. The Chris Carter Effect, Or, How The X-Files Changed How I Watch Television, Plaidadder, October 27, 2014
  23. from discussion at xf book club, February 15, 2015
  24. X-Files In-Jokes: Season Two
  25. Fan Names in the S9 Credits
  26. Sharing a Hotel Room
  27. Going Undercover
  28. Quarantined Together
  29. Lists of specialized archives: The X-Files Lost and Found FAQ, X-Files Fan-Fiction Alphabetized Links, Specialized Archives
  30. See Fan History Wiki's entry on the website: archived at the Wayback Machine
  31. Fan Fiction Archives dated May 23, 2007; WebCite.