The X-Files

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FBI Agents Scully and Mulder
aired in 1993 and ended in 2002. It has 9 seasons, where currently the show is being revived for a 10th season. The show focuses on the lives of FBI partners Mulder and Scully who work on the strange and paranormal cases presented to the FBI. It was created by Chris Carter and stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Themes on the show include, distrusting the government, cryptozoology, and many other conspiracy theories. These conspiracy theories and their investigations contain ethical dilemmas such as the spread of false information, questionable alien technologies, security and privacy breaches, and more. The X-Files has its own Wiki which contains thousands of articles. [1]

Series Overview

The X-Files is a television sci-fi drama series that began in 1995 and ended in 2002. The series is based of the section of unsolvable government cases filed in the 'X' section of the file cabinet. One of these includes the abduction of main character, Fox Mulder's sister, which sparks his interest in the X-Files. Mulder, a detective and psychologist for the FBI pairs up with Dana Scully, a doctor and FBI agent. She is hired to debunk the X-Files, but together they solve many cases. Famous catchphrases from the show include "I Want To Believe", a famous UFO poster hung in Mulder's office, "The Truth Is Out There", featured in the beginning credits, and "Trust No One" a phrase Mulder lives by.


The famous "I Want To Believe" Poster in Mulder's office

Dana Scully

A medical doctor and a skeptic, Scully always takes a rational and scientific approach to solving any case. Originally assigned to debunk Mulder's methods, the more cases she handles the more she accepts his unorthodox methods. She soon takes to religion as a crutch for supporting her through some of the more traumatizing cases. Scully is abducted by aliens, and attacked multiple times across the series but remains hardworking and confident.[2]

Fox Mulder

Driven by the abduction of his sister when he was young, Mulder truly believes in aliens and other paranormal theories. Originally a skilled detective with a degree in Psychology from Oxford, he was banished to the X-Files for his irrational and strange mystery solving tactics. [3]

Walter Skinner

Walter Skinner is a recurring character played by Mitch Pileggi [4]. He is assistant director of the FBI, Skinner oversees and enables Mulder and Scully's cases and tactics. [5] Skinner also served as a Marine in the Vietnam war, which has left him with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

John Doggett

John Doggett is an FBI Special Agent who appears in the later seasons of The X-Files. Doggett, like Skinner, was also a Marine. Doggett started as an New York City police officer who ends up in the FBI after a traumatic family loss. [6]

Monica Reyes

Monica Reyes is also a character who appears in the later seasons of The X-Files. Monica Reyes is also a FBI agent, however she is from Mexico City. Reyes and Doggett are old friends and eventually become partners. Reyes is played by Annabeth Gish. [7]

Ethical Concerns

The X-Files is a science fiction, mystery, and crime show that features some ethical dilemmas. This includes alien technology used to harm and manipulated people. Both main characters Scully and Mulder are harmed by alien technologies. Other harmful technologies include those created by government organizations used to keep secrets from the public. This section focuses on how the show's content affects its audience. What are the ethical implications of knowing about these technologies?

Alien Technology

Cryogenic Storage

Scully is abducted, taken to Antartica, and frozen. There are many other lifeforms frozen here as well.

Cure for Cancer

In Season 7 Episode 15, En Ami [8] Originally thought to be an act of God, a boy is cured of his cancer. Scully has recently been mysteriously cured of terminal cancer. Antagonist Cigarette Smoking Man informs her than an Alien computer chip which had been implanted in her neck contained the cure. He intends to give her the chip so others could be cured, but he destroys it in the end. Withholding this information is an ethical dilemma. Cigarette Smoking Man is manipulating Scully, making her work for him as he promises the cure. He first cures her cancer without permission, then does not share the cure with her in the end.


There are several instances of Aliens using tracking devices on their abductees after they have conducted experiments on them so they know the location of their abducted subject once they are put back on Earth. This can be used to find and extract them in the future if the Aliens want to conduct follow up experiments. In Season 2, Episode 5, "Duane Barry"[9], a man named Duane Barry is investigated. He claims to have abducted several times by Aliens who have placed tracking devices in his teeth.


Many episodes feature "The Lone Gunman"[10] a underground group of conspiracy theorists with hacking skills. Mulder often uses them to hack into secret government files involving the paranormal. While government keeping secrets from its agents and the world is unethical, breaching privacy for often personal gain also challenges information ethics.

Deception & Privacy

The Syndicate

A secret group associated with the government has a goal to take human DNA in efforts to create an alien-human hybrid. People within the group allowed their loved ones to be abducted so they could be experimented on. They try and erase files to cover their tracks. [11]

Critical Reception

The X-Files has received generally very positive critical reception. On the Rotten Tomatoes “Tomatometer,” it received a 74% (certified fresh) [12]. Specifically for Season 1 of The X-Files, the critics’ consensus on Rotten Tomatoes was as follows: “A serious approach to its premise helps establish The X-Files as a sci-fi procedural with a genuinely creepy twist - and a thrilling drama that avoids devolving into pure camp” [13]. The final season was described as being “filled with some brilliant, deeply nostalgic one-off episodes” by Vanity Fair critic Yohana Desta [14]. Similarly, The New York Times critic Mike Hale writes about the final season: “The X-Files still produces excellent stand-alone TV episodes - tremendously entertaining hours with the show’s familiar blend of spookiness, self-deprecating humor and cleverly conceptual in-jokes” [15]. When discussing both the earlier seasons and newer 11th revived season of The X-Files, Emily Todd VanDerWerff of Vox states, “The show has aged so beautifully (extremely rare for a TV show) because it plays less like an ultracool bit of TV stylishness and more like a mad prophet waving a warning flag to all of us gliding past it. The world may keep changing. TV may keep changing. Humanity may keep changing, but what’s both remarkable and terrifying is how The X-Files keeps looping alongside us, never falling far enough behind for us to dismiss its dire predictions for the end of days” [16]. In a more episode-specific review, Ira Madison III of Vulture ranked the 185 episodes of the original 9 seasons of the series. At the number one spot was “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (Season 3, Episode 4). “The X-Files could be thrilling, scary, heartbreaking and funny. This episode takes every element that made the series so iconic and throws them all into one heartbreaking installment...This isn’t just the best episode of The X-Files, it’s one of the best episodes of television ever” [17]. Although some critics highlight the decline in episode quality later into the series (which eventually picks up again), the general consensus is that The X-Files was and continues to be an important fixture in the history of television.

External Links

See Also


  • "X-Files Wiki." - Wikia. Wikipedia, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.
  1. "The X-Files"., Wikipedia., Retrieved April 22, 2019.,
  2. "Dana Scully"., Wikipedia, retrieved April 22, 2019
  3. "Fox Mulder"., Wikipedia., Retrieved April 22, 2019.,
  4. "The X-Files"., IMDB., Retrieved April 22, 2019.,
  5. "Walter Skinner"., Wikipedia., Retrieved April 22, 2019.,
  6. "John Doggett"., Wikipedia, retrieved April 22, 2019.,
  7. "Monica Reyes"., Wikipedia., retrieved April 22, 2019.,
  8. "En Ami"., The X-Files Wiki., Retrieved April 22, 2019.,
  9. "Duane Barry" ., The X-Files Wiki., Retrieved April 22, 2019.,
  10. "The Lone Gunman"., The X-Files Wiki., retrieved April 22, 2019.,
  11. "Syndicate"., The X-Files Wiki., retrieved April 22, 2019.,
  12. Rotten Tomatoes. (n.d.). The X-Files. Retrieved April 02, 2021, from
  13. Rotten Tomatoes. (n.d.). The X-Files. Retrieved April 02, 2021, from
  14. Desta, Y. (2018, March 28). The X-Files Finale: Is this How Dana Scully's Journey Really Ends? Retrieved April 02, 2021, from
  15. Hale, M. (2018, January 02). Review: 'the X-files' in a familiar groove. Retrieved April 02, 2021, from
  16. VanDerWerff, E. (2018, October 23). How the x-files invented modern television. Retrieved April 02, 2021, from
  17. Madison, I., III. (2016, January 22). Every episode of The x-files, ranked from worst to best. Retrieved April 02, 2021, from

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