The X-Files

From Fanlore
(Redirected from X-File's)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

You may be looking for The X-Files (zine).

Name: The X-Files
Abbreviation(s): XF, TXF
Creator: Chris Carter
Date(s): 1993-2002: (Original TV series)

1998: The X-Files - Fight The Future (theatrical film)
2008: The X-Files I Want to Believe (theatrical film)
2016: The X-Files Event Series ("Season 10")

2018: The X-Files Season 11 ("Season 11")
Medium: Television series, Movie series, Video Games, comics
Country of Origin: US/CDN (1993-1998, 2008, 2016, 2018), US (1998-2002)
External Links: IMDB Gossamer Project

Subpages for The X-Files:
The_X-Files has no subpages to list.
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

X-Files is the subject of FanloreProject:X-Files.

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).

[The X-Files] helped pioneer two popular TV genres- the supernatural thriller and the quasi-romantic investigative partner procedural (with all due respect to “Moonlighting”, we wouldn’t have “Bones”, “Castle”, or countless others if it weren’t for Mulder and Scully).

Entertainment Weekly, March 2015


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.

See: Timeline of The X-Files Fandom

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, Twitter, blogs and podcasts.

Other examples of the cross-connection between fans and the industry could be found with filmmaker Julie Ng, who helmed the extras and documentary content for the 2016 Event Series DVD / Blu-ray, and is still involved this season as the Director and producer. Julie is a long time fan and seems to understand the sensibility of what holds fans interests.


Her interaction with fans in 2015 helped to give her an insight into that demographic: “I only discovered Tumblr during post-production of Season 10. One thing I’ve recently come to appreciate is what a high percentage of X-Philes are actually women. I honestly don’t know where the dudes hang out - on Reddit? But it certainly feels like the most active online are young, smart females. I also got to meet and know some fans after my involvement with the show, which is new to me since high school days — I’m years away from the olden days of my online XF friends on IRC and, so that’s been cool too.

The X-Files: How To Keep Your Fandom Alive by Matt Allair, Oct 29, 2018 Den of Geek

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. On May 15th the order for another 10 episodes in a 11th season has been announced starting January 3rd, 2018.

From a fan:

Before this year, I didn’t read a ton of Revival fics. Why? Because they got in the way of me suppressing from my memory about 75% of what I saw in those episodes. Learning that Mulder and Scully were living apart in 2016 was the first gut punch, but not the last, and it’s taken me quite a bit of time to reconcile myself to Chris Carter’s vision for them in Seasons 10 and 11. While I still feel he focuses more on what bait will keep viewers coming back for more than on organic storytelling choices, I’m now striving to make peace with canon as it exists rather than what I wanted it to be. A big help on that front has been X-Files fanfic writers who, as they have been doing for decades now, find ways to reclaim these disappointing canon developments and somehow make them make sense. [1]

X-Files Fandom: First Wave

Fan activity surrounding The X-Files started on usenet and dates back to December 1993, with the creation of[2] ATXF's fic-friendly counterpart,, was founded in May 1994.[3]

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.

From a fan in 2017:

What is most prominent figure in X-Files fandom? Probably some from 90s, old school X-Phile. [...] X-Files in 90s and early 00s has everything. Legendary writers, Philes, flame wars, sporking, shippers and noromos, The Witches controversy, Gossamer, legendary forums like ATX, awards, wars with media, Free Speech Is Out There: Protecting X-Phile Web Sites, good and bad things. [4]

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." [6]

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..." [7]

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. [8]

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. [9]

A Fandom of Fannish Acronyms and Terminology

Starting in 1994, the x-files Usenet group ( began compiling list of fannish acronyms used in X-Files fandom. Some examples: 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. Another 1994 link: 20 Questions To Be Read Before Posting + YAXA List; archive link.

This 2000 list at is very extensive: X-PLAINING ATXF part 3: acronyms and inside jokes.

This is a list from 2000 posted to the website: Working Stiffs: What is this alphabet soup I see in every story?

This list from 2001 is also very extensive: [ X-Files Message Board Glossary], Archived version

See Category:X-Files Fandom Glossary.

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 availability 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 1998 chat hosted by msn the lead actors talked about the numerous X-Files websites:

David Duchovny:

I think our shows been popular on the Internet from the beginning because the 
cult fan base being science fiction and that somehow entails owning a computer 
and being on the Internet is something that – makes sense. I don’t personally visit 
the sites…except for one time but it makes sense.

Gillian Anderson:

It seems to fit very well with the nature of the series. A lot of the episodes hint at 
the broadening of technology and technology taking over in some way or another 
and the involvement of extra terrestrials and their heightened technology. It 
seems logical…and I’m not answering your question at all…I think it’s great!

1998 Transcript Of X-Files Live Chat With Gillian 
Anderson, David Duchovny & Chris Carter by Fredy D. OréJune 12, 1998

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."[10]

The philedom were also subject of three documentaries (X-Philes by Christopher Clements and Maria Bowens in 2000, X-Philes - Ils voulaient croire in 2016 and The Fans Are Out There in 2017) as well as creator Chris Carter (the 40 minute documentary The Joy of X[11]).

Cease & Desist

Similar Occurrences

For other incidents in which platforms used by fan communities have cracked down on fanworks, discussion by fans, and fansites with "inappropriate" content, see:

For a more general related topic, see List of Content Banned by Archives.

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. [12] By the mid-1990s, as technology and Internet access improved, more fan sites began appearing [13] 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 [14], The X-Files, and Millennium [15] .

"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." [16]

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 Web Sites." [17] 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." [18][19]

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 [20] and with Viacom targeting Star Trek websites. [21]

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." [22]

See some protest banners created by fans: XF-Romantics Graphics, Archived version.

A fan in October 1995 on a mailing list said:

Putting a zine on the Net is only tempting fate. The PTB have copyright and trademark police out trolling for infringements. A woman who agents Lois Balzer's t-shirts for her put an ad for the shirts on her Web page. Soon after, she was hit with a C&D by Twentieth, telling her that they were going to confiscate all of the X-Files tees and slap her with a fine, to boot. Back in April, Beth Bowles received a C&D for her zine CrossFiles (X-Files crossovers), because she advertised on the Net using only her pressname. She looked like a professional, and Fox's lawyers went after her. She explained that her publication was a fanzine, but has heard nothing more from them on the matter.

Copyright holders have looked the other way as long as we've remained fairly low-key about zines -- but make no mistake, if we become too visible, they'll be after us. Word from Bill Hupe is that Paramount will shortly be coming down on Trek zineds -- they won't take any action against zines already in print, but no new zines will be allowed to be published. [23]

By 1997, the phrase "Foxed" had become a techno verb "used to describe a Web site threatened with legal action for copyright infringement." [24]

Links to Then Current Sites

  • Infomania, compiled by Ola Mårtensson (many, many links, though most are dead)


Duchovny Fans vs. Anderson Fans (aka "My star is better than your star")

In the late 1990s and early 2000s there was a noticeably tendency between fans of one of the two actors to pit the other act (and their fans) against their favourite. From this period the derogatory term Silly Gilly was coined to describe (the often younger and predominantly female) fans of Gillian Anderson. It's notable that in the Gillian Anderson fan community no term was ever created to call a Duchovny fan names.

On message boards like the IMDB boards (which were infamous for their high troll quota) those users often trolled the board of the other actor by opening provocative threads title like "[Actor] is overrated, a bad actor, a bad mother (usually only Anderson's parenting skills were questioned), a one trick pony, has has plastic surgery, needs plastic surgery, is too fat/thin (again, only Anderson weight was mentioned)/ looks old, etc.".

Boards like the David Duchovny Fans message board feature an extra off-topic section called "The Dumpster"[25] were users could attack Anderson, Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz (calling him Aunt Frank) and other people to their heart's delight. This area was also especially used to attack snoggers or people who were suspected to be snoggers because they proclaimed to be a fan of both Anderson and Duchovny (which in the eyes of some was impossible and thus those people had to be closeted snoggers). Anderson and her fans were also called lesbians as an insult.

One hypothesized reason for this fights could be the different structures of the two fandoms of the actors (based on available pictures of fans posing the actors during that time): In the beginning the Anderson fan was the "typical" Sci-Fi geek male fan boy who focused on Anderson's sex appeal, which later, especially in the late 1990s and early 2000s moved to younger female fans where Duchovny's fan base consists more of older, usually back then already middle aged and conservative (compared to the Anderson fan base, which could also explain why calling somebody a lesbian was considered being an insult by Duchovny fans) female fans. Erin M. Blair, who openly posted RPF fan fiction was a regular and welcome target for a certain group of Duchovny fans.

User from this community even went so far to register at the Shipper Sanctum and taunt fans there. One user who used variants of the user name Pippy was especially infamous in the fandom [26] for her behaviour in "defending" Duchovny and Téa Leoni by putting Anderson down every time and everywhere she could.

Since the second wave and the raise of Gillovny in the fandom mainstream, the behaviour to pit one actor against the other seem to have thankfully died out or the most active spearheads have by now left the fandom.

General Fannish Mayhem

A fan in 2016 wrote a response to a Tumblr ask:

Anonymous asked: It so feels like a walk back into the 90s: people who complain about the lack of MSR, people who hate CC, people who wait for a kiss - seriously I missed that!

Next thing you know we’ll have a shippers vs. noromos war on Usenet and a famous fanwriter will be discovered to be massively sockpuppeting [27], and at least six secret lesbian couples will form (and two will break up), and Brandon Ray will mansplain at all of us womenfolk for seven paragraphs, there will be more than five separate discussions of Scully’s characterization in Iolokus, and at least twelve heartrendingly angsty WIPs will be updated, and that one creepy guy will post a fic where Scully erotically eats her own poop, and the Mulderists will accuse the Scullyists of something dreadful, and Erin Blair will post six fics in 24 hours, and I’ll DEFINITELY post something about shortbread or snickerdoodle cookies to get everyone to calm down, and the private e-mail lists will be buzzing about whether Mulder would be a dom or a sub in a BDSM relationship with Scully, and there will be a scandal when someone plagiarizes X-Files fic in the Nanny fandom [28], , and there will be a side conversation about DD’s dick (that has never really ended to this day), at least one fangirl will cry when she realizes everyone else was invited to the big secret fangirl gathering, and everyone will bitch about there no Gossamer update in three weeks, and we’ll end the day with a rousing discussion about whether Mulder/Krycek slash is out of character or not.*

*This is not even close to an exaggeration of a typical fandom day in 1999 or so. [29]

In 1997, there was intense turmoil regarding FicTalk (and X-Files-Fanfic) that involved plagiarism, who owns what list, access to fiction and lists, flaming, open letters, power moves, censorship, personal disagreements, unsubscribing...

Further reading:

Conflict: Old Characters Depart, New Characters Arrive

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.[30] 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.

Conflict: Archiving and Archives

When The X-Files first began airing, fans had three choices regarding the distribution of their fanworks. They could send it in hard copy, print form to their friends via the postal service, something fans had been doing for decades. They could send their fanworks to fans who created print zines, another decade's old custom. But fans of The X-Files had a new option: Usenet, specifically, a mailing list that allowed fans to distribute their fiction on a much wider basis.

This new fannish territory also opened up many discussions regarding permissions, distribution, and the archiving of fiction in completely new ways.

When a fan posted their fiction to the mailing list, it was automatically archived via ftp at the fledgling site Gossamer. Only fanworks that had a note to specifically NOT be archived were not included. A list of some ftp sites in early 1995: Re: info on x-files, Archived version.

As fan's online access increased, and fans began taking advantage of free web hosting provided by companies such as Tripod and Angelfire to created their own webpages, archiving fiction became a free-for-all. Many, many fans who wrote fic understood this, and simply asked that when their fiction was archived somewhere that they only required that all headers and credits be included.

When fans realized they had other options than simply being archived at Gossamer, they began to get much pickier about who was able to archive, or simply post links to, their fiction. There were many, many discussions, often very, very heated, about fan's "rights" to read fiction as opposed to fan's "rights" to control where their fiction was read.

As shipping wars and other conflicts heated up, these fights became quite personal. A lot of these early archives had titles that reflected their hoped for safe-retreat from the main archives' higher visibility, and by some defaults, greater hassles: "Idealist's Haven" is one example.

As soon as archives became more specialized, challenges to fans became more numerous. While Gossamer did not police its fiction regarding content, it had grown huge and the frequency of updates to it became a source of contention. Fans with smaller archives could be more nimble, and while these smaller archives appealed to fans who wanted to read things in a narrower focus, there was much gate-keeping.

There were also many discussions regarding who "owned" archives, and the responsibilities of these owners.

Some examples of early fan discussion regarding archives and archiving:

Sometime around 2020, a fan wrote:

In addition to coining the term “shipper,” the TXF fandom was one of the first to develop robust archives where fans could find all the fic they could read in one place. Some have stood the test of time and remain indispensable resources, like Gossamer and Others have been rescued and archived themselves, usually either migrated to bigger collectives like Archive of Our Own (AO3) or lovingly preserved at newer domains like and Incredibly, new collections of fanworks are also still being developed–the Audio Fanfic Podcast, for example, is doing the lord’s work by recording TXF fanfics in audio form and sharing recommendations for stories that span the decades. And, of course, what would we do without AO3,, LiveJournal (still limping along but for who knows how long), or the Wayback Machine?

All of this is to say: If you love The X-Files and want to help ensure the fandom’s history is preserved, please consider reaching out to thank the hard-working fans behind these fic archives and/or becoming a patron of their work to help them cover the costs of keeping these sites up and running. [31]

Conflict: Fanwork Content (Shipping, RPF, Slash, Explicit)

Conflict: Fanwork Concrit and Reviews

The Chris Carter Effect, 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:


[The] most significant, and frustrating, to my mind is the way Fox is making a concerted effort to treat The X-Files like the last Holstein in a cereal factory -- milking it for all its worth. I will be very disappointed if, as they're beginning to insinuate, Fox goads TXF into lurching along for another season or more. It's one thing to retool a program and carry on bravely. It's quite another to lose both main characters, plus the creator, and still pretend you're making the show just because you happen to own the rights to the title graphic. I love the show dearly (I probably wouldn't belong to a fictional Abbey dedicated to one of its characters if I didn't) and will be very sad when it's over, but come on, can't they let it go out with a few scraps of dignity remaining? David Duchovny is suing; Gillian Anderson has said she doesn't want to come back for "private reasons." Chris Carter is winding down the mythology with a graceful (I'll believe it when I see it) denouement planned for the end of this year. The tide of trendiness in the land of television is, sadly in my opinion, turning from serious, high-quality dramas (otherworldly air optional) to ultra-hip teen soap operas, "women's" programming, and, the best indication of the final decline of our civilization, wrestling. TXF's ratings are just beginning to slide and the strain of coming up with all those wonderful stories is starting to show. All in all, it seems like an ideal time to gracefully hang up the flashlights and slip into a movie franchise. Yet if Fox has anything to say about it, the show will continue indefinitely, floating on the inertia of its brand name until nobody cares anymore.

So here in the seventh season, my biggest worries so far are not about The X-Files itself, but about whether or not Fox will succeed in ruining it before it's through. [32]


I first found the show the first winter I lived in this apartment during "Darkness Falls," an ep from Season 1. I became fascinated and then addicted. My NYC friends and I had viewing parties on Friday nights, and endless debates on plot and character. The show continued to improve in quality through Seasons 2-5. I was ultra-loyal until the movie came out in 1998, when I realized there was no master plan, no breathless resolution of a tightly plotted structure. They were pulling it out of their ass, and I felt betrayed. I watched intermittently in Seasons 6 and 7, but the love was gone. [33]


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. [34]


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! [35]


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. [36]


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.
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. [37]

Conflict: Sockpuppets, Harassment

Conflict: Other

Fans in Canon

Some Tuckerization:

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.[38]

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.[39]

Ships, Pairings and NoRomos

Mulder/Scully romance cover

The X-Files is regarded as the fandom that started formal shipping. Fans who did not support a romantic or sexual relationship between Mulder and Scully were called NoRomos. The conflicts between these two factions were legendary. For an explanation of one of the many, many discussions, see X-Files Wank: 1996-2000.

Some pairs:


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 some history, fan comments, and some examples.

Interviews with Fans

See Category: X-Files Fan Interviews.


Popular Genres in X-Files Fanworks

Popular Tropes in X-Files Fanworks

The show and fandom created quite a few tropes and genre of it's own. Please see X-Files Tropes & Genres for details.

  • 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/Bed Sharing: 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.[40]
  • 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.[41]
  • 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.[42]
  • 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.
  • Eggbeater: From a notorious challenge, "exactly 500 words and an eggbeater."
  • Apocalypse: It's the end of the world, for so many, many reasons. Post-Colonization was always popular.
  • Case fic: Many stories mimicked the show by creating a mystery for Mulder and Scully to solve. (see X-File (genre))
  • songfics and fic inspired by music by Melissa Etheridge, see Dance Without Sleeping for notable example
  • forehead touching (see Forehead sex): In the X-Files world, kisses happen very seldom, instead forehead touching became popular
  • Canon Divergence AU: often attempted by Fan fiction writer to "fix" Chris Carter's canon.
  • Accidental confession: under influence or in argument an accidental declares their love for the other


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.[43] 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[44] (August 1994) both of which predated the popular Gossamer archive.[45]

The specialty archives included:

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

Notable Fanfic

Also see Category:X-Files Fanfiction.

From a fan in 1999: "The only reason for fanfic (in my mind) is to allow us to live in the world CC won't let us have." [46]

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



From a fan:

X-Files fans have always celebrated the show in a variety of creative ways, including by writing fanfic and original songs, making gifsets and manips, and editing clips from the show into music videos. (Am I dating myself with these terms? Probably. Have some pity–I am an Elder Millennial!) Some of these art forms seem to get more respect than others, however. Because while I hear more and more people casually discussing their fic-reading habits these days, many still seem baffled when I say how much I enjoy fanvids. I guess not everyone finds it as soothing as I do to hit “play” on a carefully curated YouTube playlist, tune out the world, and relive shippy moments set to excellent songs? Weird. But those people are missing out. When I want to bask in the vibes of a favorite fictional couple but don’t have time to rewatch whole episodes, I turn on a playlist and do just that, often while doing the dishes or reading. [47]

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 more filks are here: X-Ville: X-Files: The Musical, Archived version Filks archived at X-Files University are here.


  • Biani - a collection of fic was part of the virtual world created by fans Bianca and Dani


LJ Communities


Recs & Ficfinding:

Fanfic, all kinds:



Art & Multimedia:

Mailing Lists

See List of X-Files Mailing Lists (for mailing lists that currently don't have a Fanlore page).

See Category:X-Files Mailing Lists (for mailing lists that have a Fanlore page).

Fan Theories

Fandom Myths


Fan-Written Meta

Academic Commentary

Also see Category:X-Files Academic Commentary

News Media Articles

Also see Category:X-Files News Media.

External Links


  1. ^ X-Files Fandom Never Dies: 11 Newer MSR Fics I Recommend • ShipRecced, Archived version (unknown date, likely 2020ish)
  2. ^ on Google Groups
  3. ^ on Google Groups.
  4. ^ Legendary Philes
  5. ^ FanHistory cites Rosalita's comment in the fanthropology LJ community (offline).
  6. ^ NEW: TITLE 17 [1/1], post by Amy Schatz, April 20, 1996
  7. ^ Clarification (was Re: My problem with 'anti-relationshippers'....), Eric Johns, May 17, 1996
  8. ^ The internet is for... ah, you know..., Archived version (post and comments about shipping, and pairing, history of terms, and prevalence) (2006)
  9. ^ Checking in on July 25, daybreaq, July 27, 2008
  10. ^ How Horny X-Files Lovers Created a New Type of Online Fandom, Archived version
  11. ^
  12. ^ "The X-Files, X-Philes and X-philia: Internet fandom as a site of convergence" by Amanda Howell (2000)
  13. ^ By 1997, there were 900 unofficial X-Files websites
  14. ^ Steve Rapport's Simpsons' Home Page, Archived version
  15. ^ Fox Slams Bootleg Millennium Sites, Archived version HotWired (1997)]
  16. ^ "The Web Wars" by Jeff Yario (1997)
  17. ^ Free Speech Is Out There: Protecting X-Phile WebSites, Archived version
  18. ^ "The Empire Strikes Back: Things Get Sticky For Fan Sites On The World Wide Web," E-Online (1997)
  19. ^ 20th Century Fox's Official Letter to Jeanette Foshee
  20. ^ Fox Slams Bootleg Millennium Sites, Archived version HotWired (1997)]
  21. ^ E! Online News - Fox Fights "Millennium" Fan Sites, Archived version (1996)]
  22. ^ "The War Against Fandom," by Steven Silberman (1997)
  23. ^ from a fan on Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (October 21, 1995)
  24. ^ Blue's News, November 26, 1997
  25. ^ [1]
  26. ^
  27. ^ This may be Sheare Bliss.
  28. ^ See some of the conversations at the discussion in February 1999: Unscrupulous Folks Afoot and A Response from "The Nanny" camp
  29. ^ dashakay.tumblr, Archived version February 4, 2016
  30. ^ xfc: Change in Xemplary policy, Mar 6 2001.
  31. ^ from Revisiting 13 Classic X-Files Fanfics with Mulder/Scully Romance • ShipRecced, Archived version (unknown date, perhaps 2020?)
  32. ^ OBSSE Newsletter: January 2000 News for the OBSSEsed, Archived version
  33. ^ Of X-Files, Farscape, Action Figures, Marathons and Munchausen by Internet, Archived version
  34. ^ anonymous commenter at xf book club, November 2009
  35. ^ badforthefish at xf book club, November 2013
  36. ^ The Chris Carter Effect, Or, How The X-Files Changed How I Watch Television, Plaidadder, October 27, 2014
  37. ^ from discussion at xf book club, February 15, 2015
  38. ^ X-Files In-Jokes: Season Two
  39. ^ Fan Names in the S9 Credits
  40. ^ Sharing a Hotel Room
  41. ^ Going Undercover
  42. ^ Quarantined Together
  43. ^ Lists of specialized archives: The X-Files Lost and Found FAQ, X-Files Fan-Fiction Alphabetized Links, Specialized Archives
  44. ^ See Fan History Wiki's entry on the website: archived at the Wayback Machine
  45. ^ Fan Fiction Archives dated May 23, 2007; WebCite.
  46. ^ from X-Files Fanfic Addiction Site Interview with MD1016
  47. ^ from Heather Waters at X-Files Fandom Never Dies: 11 Newer MSR Fics I Recommend • ShipRecced, Archived version (unknown date, likely 2020ish)