It’s kind of amazing how much The X-Files influenced the television shows that came after it. Introducing us to mythology arcs and shipping, the show was an early staple of geek culture. Now, I may have gotten interested in The X-Files way past its 2002 series finale, but as I found when I binge-watched all 202 episodes (which is a ridiculous feat but one I highly recommend), the show still has a ton to teach us, both television-wise and life-wise. Forget about kindergarten. Everything I’ve ever needed to know, I leaned from The X-Files.
Trust No One… Except Your Friends
Ahh, one of the shows many, many mantras. It may sound like “trust no one” is intended to make you a paranoid recluse, but even Fox Mulder, major supporter of trusting no one, couldn’t trust no one all the time. Mulder trusted Skinner, The Lone Gunmen and most importantly, he trusted Scully. It may indeed be helpful to be relatively skeptical of strangers and people you don’t know well. As the show professes, they don’t always have your best interests at heart. But The X-Files also shows it’s important to have a few people around that you can trust.
While binge-watching, I noticed a ton of the X-Files take place outdoors and in remote locations. What that means is you will never catch me outdoors or far off in the woods. I don’t want to be made into a bug cocoon, murdered by part-tree and part-human creatures or get infected by an icy parasite. Of course, based on The X-Files, I don’t want to go to Atlantic City either, so maybe the best place is indoors. Or it would be, if episodes like “Squeeze” and “Orison” didn’t show you’re not safe there either.
The Power of Belief
The X-Files often insisted that Mulder was the “believer,” but if there’s anything you learn after 202 episodes of the show, it’s that Mulder and Scully were both believers, just in very different ways. Mulder wanted to believe in powers beyond his control, but Scully already believed in them. Only Scully thought the powers should be couched in terms of science or religion.
As cheesy as it may sound, one of the major themes of the show is learning to believe in yourself. When Mulder met Scully, he was just “Spooky Mulder” who hung out in the basement and had weird ideas. While working the X-Files, Scully had to reconcile her sense of self with the new experiences she encountered, but she never lost sight of who she was. Whatever method of belief works for you, The X-Files definitely wants you to believe.
Rooted in Friendship
Obviously, the relationship between Mulder and Scully is one of the most important aspects of The X-Files. What I particularly like about their relationship is that it’s not always – or even often – portrayed ultra-romantically. But the Mulder and Scully relationship is never a lost cause, whether it’s focused on the romance or not, because the two are simply better together. They respect each other even when they don’t agree, and they work together to get more done. Without Scully, Mulder wouldn’t be who he is at the end of the series, and vice versa for Scully. It’s clear that Scully and Mulder care deeply for each other, and they’re a pretty good pair to emulate in either friendship or romance.
The Truth is Out There
Another X-Files catchphrase, “the truth is out there” was meant to represent Mulder’s quest. Whatever the situation, Mulder had a way of moving ahead, and for that reason, I think the quote contains a great deal of hope. In spite of the many, varied setbacks, Mulder never stopped looking, never stopped hoping. He didn’t get bogged down in hopelessness over his current situation. The truth was always out there, and Mulder wanted to find it. I hope I can remember to do the same.
Fight (for) the Future
How many times did The X-Files get shut down over the course of the show? But Mulder and Scully didn’t give up. They pooled their resources and proved their bosses wrong. Not only did they believe, they fought for what they believed in. The subtitle of the first X-Files movie, “fight the future” doesn’t just mean fight against what’s happening but to fight for what you want. Hey, you might just get a revival of your favorite TV show because of it.
A lot of the time when people think about The X-Files, they only think about aliens or romance, but there’s way more to the show than that. The X-Files influenced many people during its nine season run, and soon, it will get a chance to influence even more. It’s hard to say if the show is coming back due to a combination of hope, drive, belief and friendship, but that’s what I’d like to think because those are some of the values that The X-Files instilled in me. I want to believe. Do you?