The X-Files is the best show ever made, and that’s a fact, there’s no speculation here. You could argue the point about other shows being greater and that’s your opinion, it’s just that your opinion is wrong and The X-Files is King. It’s a revolutionary show that has paved the way for the many pretenders that have followed in its wake.
This article is a list of my own top 10 X-Files episodes. They don’t necessarily reflect the opinion of The Nerd Stash as a whole, they are mine and mine alone. I wasn’t about to get anyone else involved when I love the show so much. The 10 on this list could easily have been 20 or 50, but I’ve whittled it down in a painstaking process to hit the magic number of 10. Some of these episodes are mainstays in my favorites and others could potentially be swapped out on a different day. I’ve also chickened out of listing them in order and picking an all-time favorite.
What I have done is list them in season order and I’ve tried to include as many from the different seasons as possible. I’ve even got one from Season 10 and I’m sure you can guess what one that is. So, without further ado I present to you the 10 greatest X-Files episodes of all time, starting with:
10. Squeeze. Season 1 Episode 3
Eugene Victor Tooms. Such a non-threatening name for such a threatening villain. Squeeze was the first episode of The X-Files that I even watched (I know, I know, I missed the first couple). I was at a friends house after school and I was way too young to watch it. I don’t always have the best memory, but I remember watching the opening credits, for the first time, vividly and from then on I was hooked.
Squeeze is the first of the Tooms episodes, with “Tooms” following near the end of the series. Doug Hutchison played the terrifying Tooms in what was The X-Files‘ first ever “Monster of the week” episode. The episode really showed how scary the series could be and that even in our own homes we weren’t safe as Tooms could break into pretty much anywhere thanks to a genetic makeup that allowed him to stretch his body in ways a normal human couldn’t and when he got in he would murder the inhabitant and eat their liver. Creepy stuff and a great introduction for this young boy.
9. Ice. Season 1 Episode 8
Another monster of the week episode and another episode stacked with tension. Before we begin, I am more than aware Ice is a rip off of The Thing, at that age I had no idea and so couldn’t make a direct comparison. Even knowing that now I still love the episode. Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong before they went on to make Final Destination, Ice sees our favorite FBI partnership travel to an Alaskan outpost to investigate a mass murder-suicide. Once there they discover a parasite in the ice that causes the troublesome behavior and the atmosphere becomes icy as nobody knows who is infected and a danger to the group. Look, I’ve already said it “pays homage to The Thing but I found it to be a tense and enjoyable early episode from the fledgling series.
8. The Host. Season 2 Episode 2
Another great monster was on show here, The Flukeman was pretty damn creepy. A giant humanoid fluke-worm that was terrorizing the sewers. The Flukeman was another creepy monster, but what made this episode better was the element of doubt. The creature wasn’t shown right off the bat and it was more a fear of the unknown that helped drag the audience in. Top that off with the introduction of Deep Throat’s replacement X, played by Steven Williams, and we were on to a winner.
The Flukeman himself was played by Darin Morgan who would go on to write some absolute classics himself. Another positive note was in true X-Files fashion, the day was not completely saved and the villain manages to walk (well not quite in this case) free. Flukey, did return for season 10 of The X-Files comic, a series that was originally going to be canon until the show itself made a return.
7. Humbug. Season 2 Episode 20
Humbug is just great. If Mulder himself had a favorite episode of The X-Files I think it would be this one. It’s just full of all sorts of crazy stuff. Written by Darin Morgan (see I told you he wrote some classics) Mulder and Scully travel to a community of circus sideshow performers to investigate a series of murders. With humbug, Morgan brought a more comedic style to the show and it worked. This particular episode wasn’t scary at all, it just felt like a fun investigation as Mulder and Scully argued over the realistic possibility of the killing being performed by the legendary Fiji Mermaid. No points for guessing which one believed and which didn’t.
In response to the more comedic feel David Duchovny once said the following:
“What I love about his scripts was that he seemed to be trying to destroy the show”
6. Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose. Season 3 Episode 4
You’ll see this episode on many people’s favorites list and with good reason. Peter Boyle delivered an acting master class as the titular Clyde Bruckman a man with the gift to see how people are going to die, even if it’s a gift he possesses reluctantly. I’m not even going to say anything more about this episode, just go and watch it. I don’t care if you’ve seen it before or never seen an episode of The X-Files in your life. Go and watch it and come back to me.
Back? Good. The last point, this was the second episode from Darin Morgan. I told you he was good.
5. Home. Season 4 Episode 2
The X-Files wasn’t known to be all fluffy and lovely, so any episode that carried a viewer discretion warning before it meant you knew you were in for a rough/interesting time. Home saw the return of Glen Morgan and James Wong, who had left the show after season 2. They then came back with this masterpiece.
Home isn’t for the faint of heart. The episode starts with a dead baby being found by children. Scully then does an autopsy in a place no autopsy should be carried out. That’s not to mention the incest, inbreeding and booby traps. Home was a sublime episode, it wasn’t even repeated until syndication due to its graphic nature. The Peacock family are once again great antagonists who manage to ride off into the sunset to prevent their way of life.
A special note has to go to the music of the episode. It works so very well.
4. How The Ghosts Stole Christmas. Season 6 Episode 6
I’ve skipped season 5 completely, even if there are some crackers, and found myself in The X-Files’ very own Christmas episode. How The Ghosts Stole Christmas was a bit of a change from prior episodes of the show. It only featured 4 characters, Mulder, Scully and 2 ghosts that inhabited the house they were investigating. I won’t lie, it’s a bit of a silly episode. It’s not scary at all but it is funny and has a heart.
The two ghosts try and get the 2 agents to kill each other for their own amusement and are rather disappointed when they fail in their quest. Sometimes the silly episodes are some of the best and I’ll be using that defense again a bit further down the list.
Also, it was a nice touch at the end showing Mulder and Scully exchanging gifts when they said they wouldn’t.
3. Monday. Season 6 Episode 14
Groundhog Day, I mean Monday, is another episode that some may consider silly. Again, it’s not particularly scary or tense but it is a lot of fun. I mean, the episode begins with Mulder dying from a gunshot wound during a bank heist gone wrong. The criminals then detonate a suicide vest killing everyone in the bank, including the FBI’s favorite power couple. What better to start an episode than that?
The day then starts over with Mulder’s water bed springing a leak (A nice callback to Morris Fletcher) and the agents have to repeat the day until they get it right. It is very Groundhog Day but with an X-Files spin on it.
Plus it was co-written by Vince Gilligan and that man can do no wrong.
2. John Doe. Season 9 Episode 7
Bet you didn’t think I’d have a season 9 episode did you? Well, you were wrong, and what’s more, I’ve got for a John Doggett-central episode. I’ll concede now that Monica Reyes was a bit rubbish (even if Annabeth Gish did once like something I said on Twitter, turning me into a complete fanboy) but John Doggett was a great character and I loved him. I can’t have been the only one who wanted him back for the new season. I do see why people were put out when he came in as a replacement for Fox Mulder but he was a great character in his own right and the episodes where he teamed up with Mulder himself were also brilliant. Besides, he’s better than Einstein and Miller.
Right, so I seem to have used up my word count for this episode in a rant. Here’s a rundown. Doggett. Mexico. Lost. No Memory. Bad times.
Bad times for the character, great times for us.
1. Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster. Season 10 Episode 3
Darin Morgan was back at it again. This is easily his silliest episode. It’s all round ridiculous to a point that I can’t even explain. And. AND. It’s not even his most ridiculous episode, that goes to season 11’s The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat. That one is just insane
Some people absolutely hated the were monster episode and, being honest, I can see their point. For me though, the episode was gold. The monster in this episode is a lizard creature who has been bitten by a human and from then on turns human during the day and struggles to cope. It was a great way to mix up our expectations and featured many Easter eggs and callbacks to previous episodes.
The episode also pays a touching tribute to Kim Manners, the frequent X-Files director who passed away in 2009.
As you can see I heavily preferred the monster of the week episodes. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the mythology ones, I did, some may even have made it into this list on another day. As I said, it was extremely difficult picking just 10 episodes from a show I love, especially one that has run for 11 seasons. I apologize if I’ve missed any of your favorites. I was going to include an Honorable mentions section but I felt like that was cheating. So instead let me know your favorite episodes in the comments. It’s likely I’ll agree with them but I’m interested in all the same. In the meantime, let’s bring on season 12. A man can dream.