Through its 11 seasons and more than 200 episodes, the legendary TV show The X-Files didn’t just redefine televised storytelling but gave credence to the idea of an episodic horror-themed mystery series. Under the shadow of a looming alien invasion plus the most famous conspiracy theories and urban legends ever heard, The X-Files cemented its famous FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) as pop culture icons.
But even with its lasting legacy and continued relevance, the series as a whole is a victim of its time period. Simply put, there are some things in The X-Files that just don't feel right. Whether it contradicts the lore or just seems off, here are 10 things wrong from The X-Files universe that are better left forgotten.
10 The Second Movie’s Existence
After its end in 2001, The X-Files returned in 2008 with its second movie I Want To Believe. Fans were excited and hoped for a grand finale, only to be greeted with a forgettable procedural mystery about a dead woman found under the ice.
Without Mulder and Scully, I Want To Believe would’ve just been a disposable thriller inspired by Se7en. As a continuation of the series, it was a dragging cop-out for dedicated viewers who waited years for answers. The show’s creators learned from this mistake, making sure that the sequel miniseries focused on the original overarching mystery.
9 Everything About The Killer Cat Episode
Over the course of their careers, Mulder and Scully confronted some of the most nightmarish monsters and humans ever seen. So imagine their horror when they faced a bunch of angry cats that were unleashed by the spirit of a dead shaman.
That’s the plot of Teso Dos Bichos, which is as scary as the bunny-themed horror flick Night Of The Lepus. Making matters worse were the production issues such as cats refusing to follow stage directions, constant rewrites, and problematic depictions of Native American culture. Fans and crew have since renamed the episode Teso Dos Bitches.
8 The Revival Forgot About 2012
The X-Files ended with a cliffhanger where the now disavowed FBI agents Mulder and Scully would fight the coming alien invasion from the shadows. But in the 2016 reboot, the aliens apparently ditched their colonization plans and decided to fiddle with viruses.
Agent Reyes mentions that a global genocide has been in motion since 2012, but this doesn’t align with The Syndicate’s actions that have been going on since the 50’s or the aliens’ presence in ancient human history. Just like in real life, the prophesied Armageddon of 2012 just came and went.
7 The Syndicate And The Colonists Are Dumb
Much to Mulder and Scully’s horror, the global conspiracy that is The Syndicate answers to aliens (aka The Colonists) who want to colonize the Earth by 2012. The aliens’ conquest explains The Syndicate’s actions, who’ve been undermining humanity for decades.
Cut to the 2016 revival, and now the aliens want to save humanity from itself by allowing The Syndicate to choose who lives and dies. Not only does this contradict the series’ original lore, but it exposes the aliens as self-righteous idiots who left an entire planet’s fate in the hands of some of the most self-centered and incompetent people possible.
6 An Alien With A Weird Face Caused The Challenger Disaster
It’s tradition for The X-Files to give real-life mysteries a paranormal twist, but its depiction of the “real” cause of the Space Shuttle Challenger’s disastrous launch was laughably strange at best and downright tasteless at worst.
According to the episode Space, an extra-terrestrial spirit with a weird face - aka Mars Face - possesses astronauts to sabotage NASA’s rockets for some reason. The premise isn’t bad, but its execution and Mars Face's lack of a concrete motive (besides giving its hosts goofy facial expressions) make it worth forgetting. Long-time series writer Chris Carter has since stated that Space is his least favorite episode.
5 Video Games Literally Kill People
The X-Files is understandably aged, and this shows up in its episode about a murderous video game. In First Person Shooter, Mulder and Scully fight a virtual reality game with a literal bodycount.
Not only does the episode’s juvenile misunderstanding of what constitutes as “cool” and “badass” clash with the show’s more nuanced side, but it’s a terribly outdated cautionary tale about the fallacious connection between video games and real-world violence that feels technophobic. However, Gillian Anderson stated that the episode is a favorite of hers because of how fun and schlocky it was.
4 Ghosts Make Autistic People Smart
If done right, depicting mental illnesses in a TV show can be compelling and The X-Files accepted this challenge… only for it to botch the landing. While not the worst of its kind, Roland accidentally says that geniuses on the spectrum are smart not by their doing but because they’re possessed by dead scientists.
Roland fits well into the 90’s trend of depicting autism as a form of genius, which can come off as patronizing. Though it didn’t age well, this episode’s mistakes can be chalked up to being a sign of the times it was made and aired in.
3 An Alien Joined The Ku Klux Klan
In an episode written and directed by David Duchovny, The X-Files tackles racism by featuring an alien disguised as an African American baseball prodigy being pursued by an alien bounty hunter who rode with the Klan.
In doing so, The Unnatural all but says that athletic people of color are literal aliens who just want to play ball. Like Roland, this episode may have been well-intentioned but it didn’t benefit from the passage of time, aging as well as The Green Book did. Still, The Unnatural boasts some stellar acting.
2 The Kindred Are An Offensive LGBTQ Allegory
According to The X-Files, crop circles are left behind by the secluded community of The Kindred. Notably, The Kindred can physically change their sex and excrete pheromones, which they do to seduce and kill unsuspecting victims.
To say that Gender Bender is an offensive depiction of gender fluidity is an understatement. The episode perpetuated the belief that equated sexually active gay people to serial killers, despite members of the LGBTQ community being the victims of brutal hate crimes. The lack of an actual conclusion and explanation didn’t help but thankfully, the series strove to do better moving forward.
1 There Are Anti-Vaxxer Sentiments
Being a series about conspiracies, The X-Files doubted everything that those in power did – including government-mandated vaccination programs. As it turns out, the smallpox vaccine was a sleeper alien virus that would kill millions upon activation and only the chosen few with alien DNA would survive.
Not only is this an irresponsible depiction of vaccines but it’s also dangerous. Whether or not the show’s writers agree with anti-vaccination beliefs is unclear but given today’s health concerns and the resurgence of once-eradicated diseases across the world, this was a terrible revelation to include in the 2016 revival.