The Societal Impact of the X-Files


Solana Arriondo, Staff Writer

On September 10, 1993, the pilot episode of The X-Files aired. Television was forever changed. The X-Files became a cult classic with 9 seasons, two feature films and eventually a 2 season and 1 movie reboot. A show as popular as this of course had an impact on society, but few had an impact as significant as The X-Files. There wasn’t anything quite like it on TV at that time and Fox was taking a risk in producing a show like it. At the time, the network was producing shows like Beverly Hills 90210 and Married…With Children and they took a risk with The X-Files. They weren’t sure how it would do, but we are thankful that they took a chance on this show because it changed TV and society forever.

Without The X-Files, shows like Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad would not exist. There were many writers on The X-Files who went on to write for other movies and TV shows, but Vince Gilligan is probably the most well-known. Before he went on to creating and writing TV shows, he was a new writer just starting out in Hollywood and writing for The X-Files. Without the show, Vince probably would not have gotten as much recognition, and we wouldn’t have Better Call Saul or Breaking Bad.

The regular male/female dynamic of the time was challenged. At the time, in television, typically males were portrayed as more sensible whereas the females were more emotional. The dynamic of Mulder and Scully was different. Mulder was shown as being the believer and was much more emotional and impulsive. In contrast, Scully was the skeptic and the more sensible and logical of the pair. Now, I’m not saying either of them was made out to be unintelligent. Mulder was a psychologist and top of his class at the academy and Scully was a scientist and a medical doctor, Mulder was simply the more impetuous of the pair. 

The X-Files invented shipping. Yep, you heard that right, ‘shipping’ was invented by X-Files fans back in the ‘90s. Everyone watching the show could tell Mulder and Scully were perfect for each other. As the show went on, they grew closer and their friendship developed. There was still no non-platonic relationship in sight. Since there were no traces of them getting together, fans took things into their own hands. Thus shipping was born.

Dana Scully was clearly a revolutionary television character, but she reached far beyond the TV screen. She was not only sensible, but she was a medical doctor, a scientist, and an FBI agent. She was confident and certainly did not fit the ‘damsel in distress’ stereotype. She saved her partner countless times and always handled herself when she or others were in danger. A study conducted by 21st Century Fox, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and J. Walter Thompson Intelligence has proven that the ‘Scully effect’ is, in fact, a real phenomenon. According to the Scully effect, after watching the X-Files, more young women were inspired to pursue careers in the STEM field.

So, thank you Fox for taking a chance on some nobody named Chris Carter and his crazy TV show ideas and thus giving us The X-Files and everything that came with it.