[UPDATE: A representative from FOX has reached out and told Screen Rant that Gillian Anderson "has not commented on returning as it's premature in that she is currently filming the new event series."]
The X-Files star Gillian Anderson revealed Sunday that the upcoming 11th season of the hit sci-fi series will be her last. Fans were elated in 2016 when David Duchovny and Anderson’s FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully got back on the case for a six-part X-Files revival – a long-awaited 10th season after the show’s initial series run from 1993 to 2002.
Naturally, the success of the revival immediately got talks in motion for an 11th season, which Duchovny and Anderson started shooting in August, along with the return of Mitch Pileggi (as FBI assistant director Walter Skinner) and William B. Davis (Cigarette Smoking Man), as well as Tom Braidwood, Bruce Harwood and Dean Haglund (the conspiracy theory trio The Lone Gunmen).
But in an interview session with outlets including Screen Rant at New York Comic-Con Sunday, Anderson said that she will not be returning to the series after season 11. Here's how Anderson's planned exit was revealed during a reporter roundtable:
Are you still open to continuing on beyond this season?
Gillian Anderson: No, no, I think this will be it for me.
So, why did you want to do this season?
Gillian Anderson: Because it felt like it wasn’t over. It didn’t feel like we necessarily deliver everything the fans were expecting of us last time, and so it was that.
And later in the interview...
How much will you miss her if this is really it for you?
Gillian Anderson: I don’t know. You may need to talk to me in a few years about that once I finally shut the door. You know, there’s always been this "maybe one more" thing hanging over, but when the door is finally shut, call me up and ask me that question again.
Anderson's revelations will surely come as a shock to longtime fans of the series, who will be treated to 10 episodes this year, an increase of four shows over the revival. Whether Anderson's exit departure from the series after season 11 was in the plans all along is yet to be seen, which we'll no doubt find out more about in interviews with Anderson, Duchovny and creator Chris Carter as the series nears its mid-2018 premiere.
No matter the case, Anderson's reveal Sunday does seem to change the significance of the announcement in August that Annabeth Gish, FBI Agent Monica Reyes in season 8 and 9, would also reprise her role for at least one episode; and that Robbie Amell and Lauren Ambrose – who were introduced as FBI Special Agents Miller and Einstein, respectively, in season 10 – would be back for season 11. Add the fact that Barbara Hershey has joined season 11 to play a mysterious character, and it's completely within reason to guess that the four actors could help usher in a new era for The X-Files, should the show proceed with a 12th season.
While there have been rumblings of Anderson’s exit from The X-Files dating back to the end of the series’ initial run, the actress’ decision this time to leave the series this time around could possibly go beyond delivering "everything the fans were expecting." After all, Anderson was very critical of the announcement that the season 11 writers room didn't include any female scribes (and she also tweeted out that only two of the 207 X-Files episodes were directed by women), and it's no secret that she was unhappy having to fight to get the same pay as Duchovny for the series revival.
Unless Anderson has a change of heart before season 11's premiere in a few months, fans can maybe find solace in the wiggle room she seemingly left in her NYCC press session. By saying, "Talk to me in a few years about that once I finally shut the door" and "there’s always been this 'maybe one more' thing hanging over," it almost seems to convey that the door to a return is cracked open, if only a little bit.