Confession: I’m a big ol’ nerd for The X-Files. On top of my undying love for all things Harry Potter and Star Trek, I have an eternal soft spot for the show that (within the world of the show) tries to convince us “the truth is out there.” While a great portion of my love for The X-Files has to do with the supernatural and sci-fi elements that recall other great sci-fi TV like The Twilight Zone, I am also a big fan of the show because of Dana Scully and Fox Mulder. Then again, ask any X-Files fan about why they love the show, and Scully and Mulder will likely come up at some point in the conversation. It’s unavoidable.
Part of the reason is that Scully and Mulder have a uniquely great working relationship. While the first seasons of The X-Files embedded an unspoken “will they or won’t they?” between Scully and Mulder as they embarked on solving various cases of otherworldly origins, The X-Files leaned into that friendship-turned-romance even harder — to the point that, at the time of Season 11’s premiere in early 2018, we know that Scully and Mulder have a son (well, technically they don’t, but that’s better saved for another day) and that they have gone through various romantic periods.
And while some would have cheered for this relationship to be fulfilled, I can’t help but be entirely not OK with it. As much as I love these characters individually and within the confines of their friendship, it feels like Scully and Mulder in full-on couple mode is a betrayal of who they are as characters, the nature of their working relationship and the very real argument (which I’d like to throw out there) that Scully is just way too good for Mulder.
Yeah, I said it.
I’ll work backward to help show why I am so not OK with this X-Files relationship. As friends, Scully and Mulder complement each other perfectly. Scully is the skeptic, Mulder is the believer. Given the nature of their work (which often involves supernatural or extraterrestrial beings), it’s good to have these two kinds of minds working together to keep one another grounded.
But Scully has been and always will be a woman dedicated to her work and to bettering her life through her career. One look at her résumé as of Season 11, and it’s clear that Scully has done some major things. She’s worked with the FBI, worked as a forensics investigations instructor and worked as a doctor of internal medicine. Oh, and in between all of these credits, she’s also taken some serious hits in the field while working on various cases with Mulder. This woman is tough and determined and focused on what she wants.
And she lets herself get derailed by the rakish, irksomely charming Mulder, who is prone to pie-in-the-sky ideas. More annoyingly, she lets herself get derailed by him and her feelings for him multiple times over the course the X-Files‘ 10 seasons (we’ll have to see how Season 11 pans out). Granted, it’s relatively harmless within the confines of the show, and I can see why it would eventually happen during The X-Files‘ run. I mean, given the nature of their work, only Scully and Mulder can connect in a very real way and get to know each other to the point that they would develop deeper, more meaningful feelings for each other.
But really? Really? This is the best Scully can do? Be drawn back to Mulder time and time again when she has bigger, more otherworldly fish to fry? No thanks.
Scully and Mulder are excellent as partners in the field together. It’s not too much of a surprise, given that they’ve been working together for more than 20 years. You’re bound to know someone pretty well and in a variety of intimate and meaningful ways after so many years of working with them. However, Scully deserves better than Mulder as her endgame (regardless of the son they share) because she is too driven and too smart. Frankly, she should know better by now than to hitch her wagon to his. He’s too much of a wild card, even all these years later.
Do better, Scully. I know you have it in you.