Less than a year ago, Fox announced that “The X-Files” would be returning to the air, and now, here we are, having seen five of the six-episode “event series.” Right now, the odds are looking halfway decent that while tonight might be the season finale of the revival, it won’t be the last time we see Mulder and Scully on screen investigating alien crime. So let’s look back at all the friends we’ve made since the show’s premiere in 1993. (And the enemies, while we’re at it.)
Because “The X-Files” was rich with one-off guest stars over its run (including notable appearances by Bryan Cranston, Seth Green, Felicity Huffman, Bradley Whitford and Shia Lebeouf), we established one rule for this list: The character in question had to have appeared in at least three episodes. Spoilers below for the run of the series through Season 9 (mostly when it comes to tracking the body count). Feel free to fight us in the comments.
49. Bill Scully, Jr.
Go to hell, Bill. Seriously. Scully’s elder brother was really good at showing up in Scully’s life and judging her choices with such intense passive aggression that you just wanted to cry for the woman. Bill Jr. wasn’t the most evil character on “The X-Files,” but he was certainly the one we hated the most. (We’ll go ahead and mention Charlie Scully — Scully’s younger brother — here, because until the revival, he’d always been a complete mystery to the sort of “X-Files” fan who knew that Scully even had a younger brother. Now, thanks to the 10th season episode “Home Again,” we at least know a little bit about why we’ve heard so little about him. He’s estranged from the family. Why is that? Yet another unsolved mystery.)
48. Diana Fowley
Look, yes, our instinctual reaction to Mulder’s ex-girlfriend is to hate Fowley because she’s Mulder’s ex-girlfriend who done him wrong. But she was also manipulative and vaguely evil and so really, her placement here is totally just and unbiased. (Nothing personal, Mimi Rodgers! You seem nice!)
47. Luis Cardinal
Evil. Shot Scully’s sister. Screw this guy.
46. William Mulder
He killed an alien one time! And was often a jerk to his son! Who he co-signed on naming Fox! Not the worst Bill on this list, but by a small margin.
45. Jeffrey Spender
Whine whine whine. That’s all we remember about Jeffrey Spender, whose brief time as co-lead investigator of the X-Files was marked by mediocrity. Whinnnnnnne.
44. The First Elder
Weirdly the least memorable of the conspiracy figureheads, despite being a pretty major player. Dying in a mass execution at the hands of aliens feels apt.
43. Knowle Rohrer
Adam Baldwin made an interesting addition to the cast in Seasons 8 and 9… and then it turned out he was an evil super-soldier. With that twist came the departure of any interesting character development, alas.
42. Conrad Strughold
Notable mostly for his thick German accent and the fact that in “Fight the Future,” he’s the one who observes that the best way to stop Mulder is to get rid of Scully. He might honestly be the smartest guy on the team.
41. Brad Follmer
You know what’s great? “As You Wish,” Cary Elwes’s book about the making of “The Princess Bride.” You should listen to the audiobook version! He reads it out loud! And does impressions! It is as delightful as his role in Season 9 was annoying.
40. Michael Kritschgau
This is the guy who sent Mulder into a spiral of self-doubt about whether or not aliens were actually real in Season 5. We have him to blame for a lot of navel-gazing and frustrated shouting. Also, he pushed Scully down the stairs once. Not cool.
39. Alvin Kersh
Maybe he redeemed himself at some point towards the end, but during his time supervising Mulder and Scully he set himself up as the very worst sort of boss — and deliberately so.
38. Dr. Heitz Werber
Mulder’s go-to doctor for hypnotic regression sessions. Mostly including him on this list because man, that’s a great name.
37. Toothpick Man
Guess this ninth season miscreant showed up late on the day the conspiracy handed out cool aliases. But he was played by Alan Dale, who is pretty badass.
36. Scott Blevins
Boooo! Not the very worst section chief that Mulder and Scully ever had to deal with, but totally a betraying jerk nonetheless.
35. Billy Miles
We first met Billy Miles as an abductee/coma patient who woke up by the end of the pilot. Several years later, he seemed to have gotten his life back on track…until he was abducted by the same aliens that took Mulder in the Season 7 finale. He came back dead and then was revived, and then was revealed to be a super-soldier. Sucks to be Billy.
34. Jeremiah Smith
An alien blessed with the ability to heal, he seemed to go out of his way to avoid using his power whenever possible. Which, you know, fair enough, that seems like a superpower you’d want to keep on the down-low, but he ultimately wasn’t a whole lot of help to Mulder and Scully’s quest.
33. Cassandra Spender
Boy did Cassandra Spender have a rough time of it. Here’s a lesson for all us ladies: If you suspect that your husband is involved in a government conspiracy that will lead to you getting abducted by aliens multiple times, mayyyyybe take a hard look at your marriage.
32. Richard Matheson
A US senator who occasionally helped Mulder out from the congressional side of things, until he couldn’t, and also maybe went vaguely evil in Season 6? But he was named after a legendary sci-fi writer worth recognizing in some form or another, so we’ll choose to remember him fondly.
31. Theresa Hoese
The first of many, many terrified teenagers Mulder and Scully interviewed over their years of investigation, and one who kept coming back in intriguing ways. Were all those appearances strictly necessary? Maybe not, but “The X-Files” isn’t necessarily a show that overly commits to continuity, so it’s nice to appreciate every effort made to make the narrative feel like a complete whole.
30. Elizabeth “Teena” Mulder
Not the best of moms. As someone without any power in the conspiracy that destroyed her family and her life, though, she deserves some sympathy.
29. Bounty Hunter
A relatively interchangeable group of shapeshifters whose natural state was the terrifying Brian Thompson, the Bounty Hunter’s ability to look like anyone — plus his crazy green acid blood — pushed the show into true sci-fi territory in a really compelling way. Give us a bounty hunter over a super-soldier, any day.
28. Marita Covarrubias
A conspiracy player who never seemed to break through the evil glass ceiling, Marita gets a relatively generous ranking because man, she got put through the wringer while never really doing anything truly awful (to anyone we were rooting for, that is).
27. Dr. Charles Burks
A science guy who helped Mulder and Scully out a whole bunch over the years. Decent enough fellow.
26. Max Fenig
A less cynical sort of conspiracy nerd, and thus an endearing one. It’s a shame about all those abductions.
25. Father McCue
The Scully family priest was pretty nice about giving Scully religious guidance during some pretty awful times in her life, including her cancer. He seems like a decent sort.
24. Arthur Dales
The first agent to ever really take on the X-Files… and the first agent whose career was ruined by them (a proud X-Files tradition). In his later years, Dales enjoyed a relatively peaceful, boozy retirement — when not being nagged by Mulder, that is. Wonder why he was such a big deal? Darren McGavin, who played Dales in his elder years, was the star of the 1974-1975 series “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” which is often held up by creator Chris Carter and others as a major influence on “The X-Files.”
23. William Scully (-Mulder?)
Baby William, Mulder and Scully’s son, was barely with us a whole season before being given up for adoption, but his memory is one that the show will never, ever let fade. As of the year 2016, he’d be a young teenager, but what path life has sent him down is unknown at this point. All we know for sure is that thinking about him really, really bums Mulder and Scully out.
22. William Scully, Sr.
Per the three episodes rule, Scully’s dad only barely squeezes into this list thanks to some archival footage. But if he hadn’t raised his youngest daughter on the story of “Moby Dick,” who knows if she’d later have had quite the same level of patience for following Mulder on his quests? Also, he was not a fan of Scully joining the FBI, but in their final moments together he made an effort to be supportive. Scully’s dad seemed all right, we figure.
21. The Stoners
Aw, these guys! So nice to see them here in the year 2016 after their random appearances in Season 3. And while Nicole Parker hasn’t made many TV appearances since then, Tyler Labine has done decently for himself! That’s always nice.
Steven Williams was such a badass, and X’s by-any-means-necessary attitude escalated the stakes at a key moment in the show’s history. He also lasted a good while longer than some of Mulder’s other informants — maybe because of that very attitude.
19. Albert Hosteen
He was a Navajo code talker during World War II! He brought Mulder back from the dead! He prayed for Scully’s sister! He did some important translating! He did more praying, in a later appearance! He maybe did it as a ghost! All of that is pretty damn impressive.
18. Deep Throat
The first major conspiracy player to help Mulder, and his almost paternal dynamic with Mulder gave his death in the Season 1 finale a little extra heft. Our memories of Deep Throat are fonder than they might normally be, due to nostalgia, but his ultimately good intentions were essential in the earliest days of the case.
17. Margaret Scully
Scully’s relationship with her mother was surprisingly nuanced, layered with years of understandable frustration on Margaret’s part, as Scully got drawn deeper and deeper into Mulder’s weird world. Margaret may never have fully understood what exactly her daughter was up to, and Scully may never have felt like her mother truly approved of her life choices. But there was a lot of love there.
16. Monica Reyes
This ranking might change depending on what happens with Annabeth Gish’s return to the show for the 10th season, but while certainly not a popular character (her New Age-y vibe always played a bit silly) Annabeth Gish did the best she could with what she was given.
15. Richard “Ringo” Langly
The snarkiest of the Lone Gunmen, and maybe the most classically nerdy of the bunch, with his references to “Earth 2” and love of D&D. He was fun.
14. Well-Manicured Man
Of all the conspiracy suits, this guy was easily one of the most chill and reasonable. Plus, he was sweet with his grandkids.
13. Melvin Frohike
Played by Tom Braidwood, who also served as an assistant director on the show, Frohike will always be dear to us for the time Mulder was presumed dead and he showed up drunk at Scully’s apartment, drowning his sorrows. Frohike had the biggest heart of all the Lone Gunmen, and maybe the biggest heart on this whole damn show.
12. John Fitzgerald Byers
The most crushable of The Lone Gunmen (in our humble opinion), due to his clean-cut good looks and romantic heart. He actually had a love interest on the show! That’s not something that happened all too often.
11. Gibson Praise
Psychic kid Gibson was cute, even after the brain surgery. Hopefully, he’s okay right now.
10. Melissa Scully
Poor Missy. Melinda McGraw just barely showed up in three episodes as Scully’s sister, but she was a confidante that Scully definitely could have used in the following seasons.
9. John Doggett
Robert Patrick had maybe one of the hardest jobs a television actor has ever had to tackle — fill in for the absence of David Duchovny, who went part-time after Season 7 — and you know what? It took some time, but we gotta say, we warmed up to Doggett by the end. Especially in retrospect, he stands out with that rarest of qualities: a decent, ordinary, hard-working guy. We never signed up to watch the Doggett show, but we eventually got used to him.
Oh, poor Queequeg. Gillian Anderson might have been all too happy to see you die, but as viewers, we never had to smell his “puffs of nastiness,” and thus we feel bad for him.
7. Special Agent Pendrell
He barely ever got a first name (internet sources have it as Sean) and served largely to dole out plot exposition, per his status as a lab tech. But Special Agent Pendrell had the most adorable crush on Scully, giving his time on screen some true sweetness and making his fourth season death maybe one of the show’s most genuinely affecting.
6. Cancer Man/Cigarette Smoking Man/”Raoul Bloodworth”/CGB Spender
He was there at the very beginning, and thanks to the peeks we’ve gotten at “My Struggle II,” we know he’ll be there at the end. Easily the show’s most complicated villain, one with a family and (maybe fictionalized) backstory, the image of Cancer Man lighting up a cigarette is almost as iconic as Mulder and Scully’s flashlights. He’s come back from the dead so many times it’s almost cliche, but he’s still easily one of the show’s most important figures.
5. Alex Krycek
When first introduced in Season 2, Krycek served as one of the show’s great twists. Mulder’s pleasantly bland new partner turned out to be working for the conspiracy and one of the people masterminding Scully’s abduction. In ensuing seasons, he was… let’s just say tragically underwritten, bouncing between loyalties seemingly at random (beyond his own self-interest). Krycek certainly had his fans, thanks maybe in part to Nicholas Lea being really damn pretty, and he could be pretty entertaining at times, mostly because he seemed to have a sense of humor about his circumstances. Technically, he’s been shot in the head and dead for a while, but that never stopped anyone on “The X-Files” from making a comeback.
4. Samantha Ann Mulder
The real, non-cloned version of Mulder’s sister didn’t do nothing wrong and had a crappy short life. This is a pity ranking, but she deserves it.
3. Walter Sergei Skinner
To some, the hard-assed (in many respects) supervisor trying to keep Mulder and Scully in line and alive was maybe the show’s most relatable character. To others, he was a sex symbol. To Mulder and Scully, he was a total boss, but one who genuinely cared about their well-being over the years. Watching Skinner listen, stone-faced, to Mulder’s latest theory was always a pleasure.
2. Fox William Mulder
From jumping onto a moving train to singing the theme song to “Shaft” to going to the literal ends of the earth to save his partner, Mulder won our hearts over and over with his wry humor and dedication to his quest. The craziest thing about Mulder is how often he happens to be right.
1. Dana Katherine Scully
Scully’s legacy is so important in so many ways, from giving us the gift of Gillian Anderson’s acting, to inspiring an entire generation of young women to pursue careers in STEM. Intelligent, loyal, flawed and brave, Scully was the show’s beating heart and saving grace even in its lowest years. As Chris Carter himself has said: “It’s Scully’s show.”
“The X-Files” Season 10 finale airs tonight at 8pm on Fox.