‘The X-Files’: Why a Future Without Scully is Impossible to Imagine

Gillian Anderson says she might be done with "The X-Files" after Season 11, but that sounds like a terrible idea.
X-FILES - SEASON 7: While investigating the murder of a teen killed while playing a virtual reality game, Agent Scully (Gillian Anderson) enters the high-tech virtual game to track down their suspect in the “First Person Shooter” episode of THE X-FILES airing Sunday, Feb. 27 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2000 FOX BROADCASTING COMPANY CR: Larry Watson

On October 8, when Gillian Anderson and other stars of “The X-Files” took part in interviews before the show’s New York Comic-Con panel, the actress told Screenrant she likely wouldn’t continue after Season 11.

“I think this will be it for me,” Anderson said.

If that’s true, then this should be it for “The X-Files,” too.

There are many reasons that Scully is integral to the long-running “X-Files” franchise, ranging from narrative relevance to the thespian’s off-screen impact. Here are just a few of the most obvious factors:

  • “The X-Files” thrives on the yin and yang relationship between Mulder and Scully. He’s a believer, and she’s a skeptic. He pushes her to new heights, and she keeps him from drifting into space. They balance each other out, and the show needs that balance.
  • Series creator Chris Carter has emphasized his personal connection to Scully and her necessity to the story multiple times.
  • “The X-Files” has tried to shift from a tandem to a unicycle before, and that didn’t go too well.
  • Similarly, the series has maintained the same format for its entire run: episodic monster-of-the-week stories and a serialized conspiracy plot. It does not adapt well when change has been forced upon it.
  • When “The X-Files” Season 11 was called out for its lack of female representation behind-the-scenes, Anderson helped push for change.

Now, whether or not this really is the end for Scully is still up for debate. Actors change their minds all the time, and it’s unclear whether or not an exit for Scully has been written into Season 11. Also, considering it’s already been announced that the new season will end in another cliffhanger, it seems like Scully will be a part of whatever’s moving forward anyway.

Sustainability needs to be factored in, as well. While “The X-Files” was a ratings hit last year, there’s little reason to believe interest exists in seeing the story continue without its two stars. The new characters introduced in Season 10 did little to stimulate demand for a spinoff, while Anderson and David Duchovny remain powerful icons within “The X-Files” universe and outside it. Nostalgia may have played a factor in viewers revisiting the revival, as well, and a lot of that allure goes away when an original star drops out.

For more on the debate — including reasons for why it will and won’t happen — check out this week’s episode of the Very Good Television Podcast above. IndieWire TV Editor Liz Shannon Miller and TV Critic Ben Travers break down the arguments and throw in a few personal angles to boot.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Very Good Television Podcast via Soundcloud or iTunes, and follow IndieWire on Twitter and Facebook for all your pertinent TV news. Check out Liz and Ben’s Twitter feeds for lots more. Plus, don’t forget to listen to IndieWire’s other podcastsScreen Talk with Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson, as well as Michael Schneider’s new podcast, Turn It On, which spotlights the most important TV of each week.

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