Twenty years after its introduction, the influence of The X-Files can still be seen in TV shows and other mediums.
THE X-Files lasted nine seasons, spawned two feature films, a spin-off TV show and one “sister” show, three comic-book series, three lines of novels, and more merchandise than the number of cigarettes the Cigarette Smoking Man could ever possible smoke.
However, the extent of the show’s influence extends way beyond its own universe. Take a look at many of today’s TV series and you’ll see just how influential the show has been on many of the showrunners that followed (for instance, Joss Whedon has described Buffy The Vampire Slayer as a cross between The X-Files and My So-Called Life).
The more obvious ones and recent ones would probably be Fringe and Warehouse 13, both of which feature two government agents – one male, one female, one a believer, one a sceptic – investigating cases with a paranormal twist in them.
Supernatural has also been compared to The X-Files, mainly because of the “monster of the week” format many of its episodes follow, while Lost’s lengthy and incredibly convoluted over-arching mythology bears more than a striking resemblance to The X-Files’ own crazily long and complicated story arcs.
Also, you know you’ve made it as a pop culture phenomenon when The Simpsons does a parody of your show. Mulder and Scully (voiced by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, naturally) made their appearance on the show in Season Eight’s The Springfields Files episode back in 1997, in which Homer Simpson spots a UFO, and our two agents show up to investigate.
Even Star Trek, the mother of all sci-fi franchises, was not immune to the X-effect. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine aired an episode called Trials And Tribbleations, in which Commander Benjamin Sisko was interviewed by two agents from the Federation Department of Temporal Investigations – Agents Dulmer and Lucsly (see what they did there?) – effectively blowing the collective minds of sci-fi geeks everywhere.
Still, there is a reason The X-Files is now known as a “franchise” rather than just a TV series. Here’s a look at the other members of the X-Family. – MC
There have been two shows directly associated with The X-Files itself – Millennium and The Lone Gunmen.
The former was the only one that was a direct spin-off of the show though. It featured the trio of eccentric hackers and conspiracy theorists that Mulder used to go to for help during cases, but unfortunately only lasted 13 episodes in 2001 before being unceremoniously cancelled. Although its finale ended in a cliffhanger, the best part about being a spinoff of another still ongoing show is that you get to get some form of closure in the original series – many of the loose ends were tied up in the ninth season X-Files episode Jump The Shark.
The same thing happened with Millennium, even though this particular show wasn’t exactly a spin-off. The show starred Lance Henriksen as Frank Black, a forensic profiler who could somehow see through the eyes of serial killers. I remember being really excited at seeing the words “Created by Chris Carter”, and expecting Mulder and Scully to pop up in the show (hey, I was a young and idealistic fanboy back then).
Although that never really happened, the show was still a pretty good watch – dark and thrilling at the same time, it showed us how scary serial killers could be, even before Agent Hotchner and his BAU from Criminal Minds were even created.
Though not a direct spinoff, Millennium was nevertheless set in the same X-universe, so when the show was cancelled, The X-Files duly provided a chance for Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) and the Millennium Group to tie up their own loose ends, in the oh-so-obviously named Millennium episode.
The problem with making a movie out of a popular TV series, especially one that has a mythology as long and bloated as The X-Files, is trying not to make it seem like you are just taking a two-hour episode of the TV show and showing it on a bigger screen.
When The X-files: Fight The Future was being filmed, the filmmakers did their utmost best to assure fans that this would be different from the TV show. In addition to the usual guys (Mulder, Scully, Skinner, The Well-Manicured Man, The Lone Gunmen, and The Smoking Man) including casting well-known faces Martin Landau and Blythe Danner, and filming in various different locations to give the show a “grander feel”.
When the film was eventually released in 1998, it DID turn out to be slightly more than just another episode of the TV show, but only just. The most memorable part of the movie turned out to be the much-hyped kiss between Mulder and Scully, which turned out to be yet another anti-climax when it was interrupted by a bee sting.
As for the second movie, X-Files: I Want To Believe, at the time, I wanted to believe that it would be good. But as I wrote in my review back in 2008, the screenplay would probably have ended up in one of Mulder’s file cabinets in that basement office of his, filed away as an X-File in its own right.
Sure, it was worth it just to hear THAT theme song again, and at the time, it was definitely great to see Mulder and Scully back together again so long after the show ended (six years, to be exact); but there was a sense of anti-climax with this movie, and it played more like a two-hour episode of the show instead of an actual movie, and even then, it would have ranked as one of the weaker episodes.
Comics and books
If you’ve been longing for more X-Files stories beyond the second movie, then the only way you can get your fix is through the new X-Files: Season 10 comic book that was recently released by IDW Publishing. Now into its third issue, the comic continues on from the events of second movie, and sees Mulder and Scully living in hiding together as Mr and Mrs Blake.
Of course, this doesn’t last long, and familiar faces soon start popping up - in the first three issues alone, we see Skinner, the Cigarette Smoking Man, Agent Doggett and a bunch of acolytes out to get Scully.
This isn’t the first comic-book version of The X-Files, of course. From 1995 to 1998, Topps Comics published the first official line of comics for the show, and then in 2010, there was even a Wildstorm/IDW crossover between The X-Files and 30 Days Of Night, in which Mulder and Scully go to Alaska to investigate a series of possible vampire-related murders.
Other X-Files merchandise:
> The X-Files Collectible Card Game (1996)
> The X-Files Game for PC and Macintosh, and PlayStation (1998)
> The X-Files: Unrestricted Access, a game-styled database (2000)
> The X-Files: Resist Or Serve video game for PS2 (2004)
> The X-Files action figures by McFarlane Toys, released to coincide with Fight The Future (1998)
> The X-Files PALZ by Palisades, cute caricature toys including M&S, Flukeman and the Conundrum (2005)
The XFiles turns 20
Monsters or messengers
They were all on XFiles really