X-Files Creator Fought Hard To Avoid Giving Fans What They Wanted

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

the x-files monster

One of the things that has kept the X-Files fandom alive from the beginning has been audiences hoping to see Mulder and Scully hook up (known in the community as “shipping”). While the characters eventually got together, details of their romance were so minimal that it was almost as frustrating to see them together as it was to see them apart. It turns out there’s a reason for that: from the very first episode, Carter went out of his way to avoid and minimize romance between his two insanely hot leads.

His Rule From The Beginning

This tale of X-Files ‘shipping and how it kept getting foiled has about as many twists and turns as a typical onscreen investigation. It all goes back to the beginning, though–specifically, the pilot episode.

According to the book The Truth Is Out There: The Official Guide to The X-Files, series creator Chris Carter was adamant about keeping Mulder and Scully from being romantic in that first episode.


“A big part of my job during the… scope of that pilot creation was protecting against that [romance],” he said. I was really the lone voice saying we cannot have these people romantically involved.”

That was the intent of the X-Files guru, but he would eventually be up against a force more powerful than either aliens or shadowy government agents: shipping.

Whether or not you’re an X-Files fan, you’re probably aware of shipping, which is the term for when fans want two of their favorite characters to hook up. What you might not know is that this term was literally created by Mulder and Scully fans who fantasized about these characters investigating their bodies instead of alien corpses.

From the very beginning of the show, fans on Usenet (go ask your grandparents, youngsters) would constantly post about how much they wanted this onscreen romance to happen.

Near Misses


This left Chris Carter in something of a bind. The X-Files creator wanted his characters to avoid romance altogether, but an increasing number of fans started shipping Mulder and Scully. Carter eventually decided to give fans what they wanted in a way that, quite frankly, left nobody happy.

Despite previously claiming these X-Files characters would never get together, Carter began partially succumbing to the demands of shipping fans: the characters were a tad more flirty and had more undeniable onscreen chemistry with one another.

After a major tease (Scully nearly kisses a Mulder-looking shapeshifter), this duo nearly kissed in the first X-Files movie and finally smooched in the episode “Millennium.”

I Want To Believe

In its own way, this is when things got weird. On the one hand, Mulder and Scully now canonically had a romantic relationship, one that even resulted in Scully getting pregnant and having a child. 

However, the show religiously avoided showing them doing so much as holding hands. They still acted like the cool professionals of the earlier seasons, and the closest we get to a steamy scene between them comes from the I Want To Believe movie.

In that scene, Scully says she can’t sleep and a cuddly Mulder says “I have a little something for that.” To this, Scully teasingly replies “Just a little something?”

Insult To Injury

The X-Files

As you can tell, Chris Carter seems to enjoy tormenting X-Files fans who spent so long shipping Mulder and Scully, and he wasn’t done. When the show came back in 2015, Carter blew everyone’s minds with a single statement from the X-Files Redacted special: “Mulder and Scully, for 9 years, had a platonic relationship.”

Adding insult to injury, he made sure to have the two characters break up offscreen before the new show premiered.

While we’re huge X-Files fans and always will be, it seems clear that Chris Carter has hated (and continues to hate) fans shipping the two characters he never wanted to bring together.

As a result, he had Mulder and Scully hook up in the most disappointing way, one that frustrated the shippers and the non-shippers alike.

However, here’s a cold comfort for fans: getting annoyed by how Carter handled the romance of his two leads makes for a refreshing change from getting annoyed at his inability to satisfyingly resolve any of the plot threads he spent years dangling in front of us.