As you may recall, The X-Files was sneakily stowed away into Fox’s proverbial classified government facility, put away indefinitely after the 2018 revival season concluded controversially. While this fate was essentially sealed by the subsequent exit of co-star Gillian Anderson, the other half of the franchise’s iconic duo, David Duchovny, is making it clear that he’d return to the series.
Plans for another season of the series have yet to manifest, but in an interview for Danish film site kino.dk, X-Files podcaster Sammensværgelsen recently got an answer from Duchovny that was intriguingly multilayered after asking the inevitable question about a possible return as Agent Fox Mulder after the series was left hanging with Season 11. When interviewer Daniel Hartvig Nielsen poses the idea that creator Chris Carter is contemplating ideas for the series to return, Duchovny prefaces his answer by saying he doesn’t actively think about the series any longer, but unambiguously declares, “Chris is a good friend and I’d be there for him whatever he wanted.”
Of course, the aforementioned exit of Gillian Anderson has proven to be the wrench in the works with regard to the possibility of The X-Files returning, be it for a belated Season 12 or some kind of cliffhanger-wrapping TV movie. Indeed, the last storyline of Anderson’s Agent Dana Scully—which revealed that son William was not Mulder’s but the result of Scully being unwillingly impregnated by the Cigarette Smoking Man in an experiment—was obviously the most controversial aspect of Season 11, one that was unfortunately left open-ended upon the finale. It’s a situation that Carter himself recently admitted was partly of his own making, since he wrote the season under the assumption that he’d get a chance to conclude the storyline, and still moved forward even after Anderson’s decision to leave.
Longtime fans already know that this dilemma is hardly unprecedented for The X-Files, seeing as Duchovny made his own exit from the series in 2000 after the end of Season 7 to chase Hollywood big screen stardom. That move was especially inconveniencing, since it occurred during the time of the show’s original-run pop culture peak. However, the period covering Duchovny’s exit—which lasted throughout Seasons 7 and 8—still bore the presence of Mulder while Anderson’s Scully, joined by new F.B.I partner John Doggett (Robert Patrick), juggled weekly mysteries while dealing with the overarching plot of Mulder’s disappearance; a storyline that Duchovny managed to keep alive with guest appearances. While Duchovny eventually returned after flops like 2001’s Evolution ended his prospects as a bankable big screen lead, those exit-era guest spots from Duchovny played a significant part in helping the show get though its main cast shakeup (temporary as it turned out).
Consequently, a Scully-less X-Files is doable from a storyline standpoint, perhaps with a disappearance storyline similar in nature to Mulder’s, but it would be significantly more difficult to pull off, since this one would presumably not have any support from Anderson whatsoever, since she definitively declared that she was done with the series and Scully. Thus, a revival would take the franchise into new territory, since we’ve never seen it—either on the series or the theatrically released tie-in movies—operate without Scully, who—barring the brief role-reversing dynamic with Doggett—has been the scientific-skeptical foil to Mulder’s more emotional “I want to believe” ethos, and it would be too late into the mythos to just partner him with a Scully stand-in.
It will be interesting to see if The X-Files will eventually manifest again for Duchovny’s potential return. The extended stasis of the franchise came about after Season 11’s 10-episode early-2018 run fell short in the ratings department, having earned a Nielsen average of 3.7 million viewers; a significant decline from the initial comeback in 2016 with Season 10, which had a 6-episode run that averaged 9.5 million viewers. Indeed, while the franchise will always have a passionate fanbase, and now animated TV series prospects, it might be the case that casual viewers have moved on from wondering if the truth is out there. That, of course, is up to Fox (the network, not Mulder,) and Chris Carter.