The X-Files has rightfully earned its reputation as an iconic series full of atmospheric horrors and conspiracies. Countless monsters of the week brought creative, often gory threats to the small screen. And a lot of shows distinctly stand on its shoulders, like Fringe and Supernatural. But truthfully, The X-Files had a surprising amount of variety in its storytelling. Occasionally, it would even dip its toe into comedy—from parody and meta humor to outright slapstick. The tools of its comedy mostly flaunted the writers’ comprehensive understanding of the show and its characters. That makes it really fascinating in retrospect. So, here are the ten best comedic episodes—spoiler warning!
10 Je Souhaite
If you were disappointed in Will Smith’s genie from Aladdin, don’t come looking here. You’ll get more genie, but their performance has an equal share of cringey and satisfying moments alike. And yes, there is actually a genie in this X-Files episode. At first glance, it’s a pretty goofy concept, even if it is aiming for comedy. And although the jokes often land, the majority of the story predictably ends up playing with unexpected outcomes. It’s the same old message—unmerited power always has consequences. But there’s no question that any fan will get a kick out of seeing Gillian Anderson work her comedic chops.
9 Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster
When it comes to comedy on The X-Files, look no further than Darin Morgan. His scripts have clever concepts, sharp commentary, and witty dialogue. So, it’s no surprise that this episode turned out as one of the best in the first revival season. Understandably, some may have been frustrated that such a short season took an aside for some laughs. But the creators were only staying true to the spirit of The X-Files. Every now and then, it likes to be silly. And Rhys Darby delivers an incredible comedic performance as the titular Were-Monster. It’s a reverse werewolf story, wherein the creature is slowly turning into a human - and absolutely hates every second. Also, he’s developing all of our little human flaws. It’s conceptually brilliant and allows for a lot of fun to be had.
8 How the Ghosts Stole Christmas
Here, Mulder and Scully end up in a haunted house on Christmas Eve. It isn’t quite Dickens, but it’s certainly very funny, with guest stars Lily Tomlin and Ed Asner working their magic to terrific effect. In fact, they’re the only other characters in the show, making for the smallest cast the series ever had. Just four actors, and lots of shipping. A young couple committed to their suicide pact in this particular house, and now they're picking apart Mulder and Scully. That’s the fun of the episode. Both spirits have gotten into the protagonists’ heads, and hilariously confront the quirks of their personalities. And, much to our delight, the will-they-won’t-they relationship between Mulder and Scully works wonderfully. There’s a lot of fascinating insight throughout this episode.
7 Dreamland I & II
This is the Freaky Friday episode, all about body-swapping. It’s understandable that some fans may have been irritated that a “monster of the week” story ended up with two parts, which hadn’t happened before on the show. And when you have to wait a week between episodes, the pacing of the season is critically affected. But there’s a lot to love about this two-parter. After the show moved from Vancouver to Los Angeles, fans started getting new settings.
This time, it was Area 51. It’s easy to forget The X-Files began with an alien conspiracy. But then there’s Morris. What a fun character, who gets to play an out-of-character Mulder. Morris makes the most of the body-swap, since he feels he can act without consequences. And Mulder has to deal with the man’s wife. It’s all terribly cliché, but it’s entertaining nonetheless. Although, most will probably agree that the Marx Brothers dance was a step too far.
This is yet another example of how light-hearted season six of X-Files really was. It was a rather drastic shift in tone, and not just visually. But in this episode, Mulder and Scully have to pose as a married couple to infiltrate a planned community. What could be better than that? Fans get to see them behave as a married couple, and the show gets to prod at suburban conformity. These are concepts that have been explored to no end elsewhere, but the writing is really sharp here, leading to comedy that's even more nuanced than normal for this show. Typically, comedic episodes swing for the fences. This is more entertaining, and the social commentary is still smart and fun.
5 Small Potatoes
Darin Morgan takes on the role of monster of the week in this episode, but he didn’t write it. The character was written by Vince Gilligan of Breaking Bad fame. He crafts a really fun story, wherein a shapeshifter causes a few women to birth children with tails. The majority of the fun to be had is in David Duchovny’s performance. He may be monotone, but he’s surprisingly effective here. He legitimately captures the essence of Morgan’s “Eddie Van Blundht” shapeshifter as it impersonates Mulder. Furthermore, the shapeshifter’s point of view is another opportunity to roast Mulder. It’s just like the body-swap episode. In fact, many of the comedic episodes rib their own protagonists, but avoid redundancy via clever execution.
4 Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'
Yet again, this episode was written by Darin Morgan. And the story certainly lives up to Morgan’s reputation. Firstly, it’s filled to the brim with homage—both to The X-Files, and sci-fi in general. Easter eggs are always very rewarding for die-hard fans. Secondly, the comedy aims its sights on alien abduction. This show deals with dark conspiracies on such a regular basis that this was a really refreshing episode. There’s also a persistent subversion of expectations, which can make for the best comedy. But what’s most surprising is the incorporation of actual theories among alien phenomenon enthusiasts.
This was the first genuinely comedic episode of the series, and yes, Darin Morgan is credited for it. The episode is about the murders of circus sideshow performers. It had a couple real-life performers, and also stars The Man From Another Place himself—Michael J. Anderson. There’s no denying the Twin Peaks feel of this episode. The mystery will certainly keep you guessing for a while. The episode’s thematic elements about prejudice are surprisingly organic. Also, the story strikes a perfect balance between comedy and genuine X-Files thrills. That distinguishes it among the many straightforward comedies of the series, and makes it one of the best episodes period.
2 Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose
Peter Boyle, as the titular character, is truly the driving force of this episode. For all of Darin Morgan’s clever writing, Boyle actually steals the show as a psychic. It’s easy to have sympathy for the man, who only sees how people will die. Boyle’s standout performance even won him an Emmy. The episode features some more inside baseball for X-Files fans, and it’s actually more of a dark comedy. In fact, the episode has a surprising amount of poignancy. The laughs are clearly more of an aside, to make the drama more digestible. This episode stands out because, much like Humbug, it would function just as well without the comedy.
1 Bad Blood
Whenever the show acknowledges the audience’s understanding, it’s very rewarding. And it actually earned this episode the highest IMDb ranking of the entire series. Having exaggerated points of view from both Mulder and Scully is priceless. Basically, they get to act like total goofballs, because that’s how either character chooses to recall the events. So, every personality trait we know about Mulder and Scully is subject to comedy. Right at the beginning, Mulder’s haphazard belief is ribbed, when he stakes a supposed vampire. Even the slapstick humor works, with an RV on the loose. And the idea of an OCD vampire is absolutely hilarious. There just isn’t any further praise to give this fantastic episode that hasn’t already been said. It’s conceptually terrific. This story perfectly rewards fans’ investment in the show and its protagonists after five great years.