When Fans Were Tearing Over Mulder and Scully’s Romance

“The Truth is Out There”. “Trust no One”. These mantras have always put fansX Files Okay. But beyond the investigations carried out by the FBI’s hidden basement department, beyond the paranormal and conspiracy theories, a question, more or less crucial depending on the temperament of the fans, has underpinned the 9 seasons of the series (1993-2002): how was Mulder and Scully’s relationship to evolve? On the occasion of the return of the cult series this Sunday, a look back at the very first “shipping” of the series era.


“Shipping”? Derived from “relationship”, the term refers to the investment of fans in a romantic relationship either existing or entirely fantasized. Because some of the fans have waited feverishly, for NINE years, for the first kiss between Mulder and Scully, debating on forums the slightest rapprochement, X Files is considered the very first series to have popularized the phenomenon of “shipping”, then extended to many other series. Starting with the procedural series that were inspired by it, especially Castle Where Bones.

“Even if there was already at the time of star trek of the shippers around the rumored romance between Spok and Captain Kirk, the term really arose at the time ofX Files. For many fans, the tension that existed between Mulder and Scully was one of the pillars of the series”, specifies Mélanie Bourdaa, lecturer at Bordeaux 3 and specialist in fan studies.

“Shippers” versus “noromos”

Fans, of course, did not wait for the age of the Internet to play Cupid, and Knowyourmeme points to the existence of a similar investment among Jane Austen fans at the beginning of the 20th century. But the site sends us especially on the biggest forum of fans ofX Files, “alt.tv.x-files”, originally on Usenet, and archived by fans in a Google Group. There the very first debates between fans around THE question took place: should this platonic relationship which united these two colleagues of opposite nature, the conspirator and the skeptic, finally, once and for all, get down to business?

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This forum is a gold mine. Thus were passionately opposed the “shippers”, pro-serious things, who found the relationship too good for it not to materialize, and the “noromos”, for “no romance”. These applauded the duo’s chaste complicity, the underlying tension that must not fade away at the risk of spoiling the series. Whose interest, moreover, they considered to be… elsewhere.

On the “shippers” side, let us cite, for example, the fears of “Stef” in May 1996: “If [Chris Carter] develops the characters in the way many of us hope it will, it will lose the “antis” who will loudly complain. But if he chickens out, the show will become sterile, and those who are on our side – maybe 50% of the audience – and watch the show for the development of Mulder and Scully’s relationship, will walk away. Because there will be nothing left for us in the series”.

On the side of the “noromos”, Tony claims to have “no problem” with the “relationshippers” but fears losing his X Files. “The birth of a romance between a male character and a female character has been SO seen and reviewed that a series that doesn’t play on that is incredibly refreshing. I don’t want the X Files end like Moonlight [souvenez-vous] (…). Chris Carter will receive petitions for them to be together. My advice is don’t fix what isn’t broken”.

After nine years…

The first kiss happens… almost in the first film, in 1998. Almost, again, in the episode Triangle from season 6 (but in a different time). Then really in episode 4 of season 7 (1999-2000), Millennium. In episode 17 of season 7, Scully gets ready one morning in the bathroom while Mulder is in bed. Chris Carter, who was determined from the start that the relationship would remain forever friendly and professional, was he inflated enough to tell us in such a roundabout way that they had just slept together? A few episodes later, Scully is pregnant. From him ? Things are not even cleared up today.

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“Shipping leads to the writing of fan fiction, fan art and Tumblr creations where fans take gifs and contextualize them in their own way,” recalls Mélanie Bourdaa.

The Tumblr “Fuck Yeah Mulder and Scully” is for example a living ode to their story. Do not fail to include the rapprochement of season 6, when Mulder teaches baseball to Scully…

Fans are also numerous to make an inventory of the best moments. This one details 18 moments when Mulder and Scully “forever beat all other love stories on TV.” This other ranked “Mulder and Scully’s Top 60 Moments”… Leading the way is the very last image from Season 9…

And for the revival?

And today ? Thirteen years later? The debate is not over. The shippers have listened carefully to Chris Carter’s announcements on the subject and for them, the news is bad. Mulder and Scully are no longer together.

“Mulder and Scully had a platonic relationship for nine years. Even though we suggest they had a child together, we never saw them as a couple until the second movie. In the new series we now find them at another stage. Seven or eight years have passed. Time has been difficult for their relationship. We will investigate what happened at that time.”

During the promo for this long-awaited 10th season, Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny were constantly asked about their relationship. Like here, in this video below:

Here is the transcribed exchange of another interview of them:

“Duchovny: Have we ever been married? I never remember.
Anderson: No.
Duchovny: We lived in sin then?
Anderson: Yes.
Duchovny: And we had a baby, right?
Anderson: Yes.
Duchovny: And this is my baby?
Anderson: Ah that… The answer is not clear cut. It’s either yours or God’s.
Duchovny: You see where the problem is. There is a huge lack of communication in this relationship.”


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Admit that they are cute.

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