The X-Files had many fantastic season finales. They always seemed to up the budget, they expanded the mythology in many unexpected ways, and they ended on intriguing cliffhangers that left us incredibly thirsty for more. But, obviously, some were better than others, and some are more firmly planted in our memories.
While there are season finales that left us breathless and desperately wanting more, others left us shrugging our shoulders and feeling a little empty. Such is often the case with such a massive and expansive series. The X-Files had eleven season finales, and from eleven to one, these are the season finales, officially ranked in terms of quality and legacy.
11 My Struggle II
The long-awaited season 10 was very hit or miss, and it unfortunately ended on a very sour note that left us questioning the future of the series. It was a fry cry from prime X-Files, and the plotting was completely nonsensical (even for The X-Files). And while this show has gone to some insane places before, it was usually done in an entertaining fashion. Here it's just a boring and confusing blur of nonsense filled with atrocious dialogue that almost made our ears bleed. This episode alone nearly destroyed our faith in the show.
10 My Struggle IV
And with this, our confidence in the show has been pretty much ruined. My Struggle IV was minutely more impressive and enjoyable than My Struggle II, but it was still a complete disaster. While it provided some nice closure to the series and its characters, it was still a tonally-deaf mess that had our shaking heads. The whole thing just felt empty, like no one really cared. The acting, aside from Gillian Anderson, is relatively restrained, it repeated past storylines, and whole thing reeked of a general dullness and exhaustion. Let's leave The X-Files alone from now on. It deserves a rest.
9 The Truth
The Truth was initially going to serve as the series finale, and what a disappointment that would have been. Well, it's still disappointing, but at least the pain was lessened after learning that the story would continue in later installments. The episode was fiercely criticized in its day for not answering enough questions, for leaving the story open, and for the silly revelation that aliens would be colonizing Earth on December 22, 2012 (yeah, remember that whole debacle?). Add in some incredibly dull trial scenes, and you have one of the worst series finales in modern memory.
The X-Files was starting to run out of steam some time around season six, and its season finale did nothing to alleviate the disappointment of its fans. While some definitely enjoyed the whole "aliens gave rise to humanity" theme and the globetrotting adventures, others were more critical, stating that it recycled storylines and didn't really offer anything new to the series. Sure, we got some intriguing new developments in the story, but The X-Files always had a tendency to promise more than it delivered, and that is definitely the case with Biogenesis.
Season four's Gethsemane walks a fine line between average and great. The episode was certainly exciting enough, it took the series in an interesting new direction (are ALIENS the hoax!?), and it contained one of the show's most beautiful and elaborate sets at the time. The budget was finally increasing, and the line between cheap television and blockbuster filmmaking was being increasingly blurred. That said, it was a very...vague episode, as it didn't' seem to want to reveal too much pertinent information. Plus, that cliffhanger with Mulder's apparent suicide was really silly. Did anyone honestly believe that?
6 The End
Despite its title, The End was not, in fact, the end of The X-Files. We know, crazy, right? However, it WAS supposed to be the series finale, before Fox got greedy and ordered more episodes. And while it left a few things open for a future film franchise, it still contained some fascinating pieces of finality, like the Smoking Man taking Samantha's file and burning down the X-Files office.
It also introduced Gibson Praise and Diana Fowley. However, it's open-ended conclusion was a little frustrating, even though we knew the story would eventually be continued in movies.
5 Talitha Cumi
And now for a cliffhanger done right! After finally tracking down the ever-elusive alien, Jeremiah Smith, the Bounty Hunter arrives to ruin the fun. It was an absolutely brilliant cliffhanger, and it promised an equally brilliant opening to season four. However, the cliffhanger simply capped what was an otherwise spectacular episode. Mulder and Scully have an alien ally! The mythology is expanding! That interrogation between Smoking Man and Smith, though! The Smoking Man met with Mulder's mother! It was all great stuff.
Requiem was a mind-blowing episode, complete with tantalizing callbacks to the pilot and one of the show's best cliffhangers, which saw Mulder being abducted by aliens. And while this resulted in David Duchovny all-but leaving the series (which was definitely not a good thing), it was a tantalizing, and terrifying, concept on which to end season seven. It also brought the series' mythology back to the forefront after largely ignoring it throughout the season. With this episode, we knew that The X-Files would never be the same. We just didn't think it would be in a bad way!
As rocky as season eight was, Existence is a cornerstone of the series and one of the very best series finales that the show had ever done. We got a lot of juicy storylines and plot developments, the most important being the introduction of the alien Super Soldier. We also got the death of Krycek, the birth of Mulder and Scully's baby, and the amazing return of Mulder. The episode ends with Mulder and Scully marveling over the baby before sharing a passionate kiss. It was an action-packed and mythology-dense episode, and we loved every second of it.
2 The Erlenmeyer Flask
The Erlenmeyer Flask effectively changed The X-Files for the better, and it brought the show's popular first season to a riveting conclusion. In the episode, Mulder and Scully uncover a vast conspiracy theory involving alien DNA, and the people who learn of its truth are targeted for assassination. The episode brought many mythology-dense themes to the show, including genetic experiments, conspiracies, and assassins (you know, typical alien stuff), all while telling an exciting story and showcasing some solid filmmaking techniques. It's a piece of TV history.
Anasazi is not only the greatest X-Files series finale, but arguably one of the greatest episodes in television history. While Anasazi proved a little troubling in retrospect, as it signaled that The X-Files would never truly answer questions or bring closure, it was an absolute thrill at the time. We had Mulder's mental deterioration. The mysterious corpse in the desert. And, perhaps most importantly, it left us with the most tormenting cliffhanger in the series' history, as the Smoking Man orders the boxcar to be burned with Mulder inside. And while we knew deep down that he would be OK, it was still a horrifying prospect to mull(der) over the summer of 1995. It just doesn't get much better than this.