Featuring a unique blend of conspiracy, supernatural and outright horror, the scariest thing about The X-Files now is its age, with this month marking the show’s 20th anniversary.
With that in mind, it’s time to put on a trench coat, pick up a flash-light and squeeze into the perilous crawlspace of nostalgia as we take a look at our five favourite episodes…
5: Soft Light (Season 2)
There was plenty of weird science going on over the course of The X-Files, and this episode is no exception. A rogue scientist is on the run after an experiment gone wrong leaves him with the unenviable prospect of having a shadow that can disintegrate people.
There is some vague attempt to link it to plausible reality with some background involving particle accelerators and black hole experiments, but the root of this episode involves the primal terror of darkness and your own reflection combined with a healthy dose of pulp science.
4: Bad Blood (Season 5)
While the usual fair of The X-Files were aliens and government conspiracies, myths, legends and plain old classic monsters would frequently show up over the course of Mulder and Scully’s investigations.
An interesting take on the classic vampire tale, this episode showed that The X-Files could handle comedy as well as horror, as it told the same story from the point of view of both Mulder and Scully. The two agents’ different points of view pushed the comedy whilst also proving how strong and well realized both characters were.
3: Pilot (Season 1)
The opening episode of the show may not be the strongest in terms of plot, characterization or even story, but it set up so many of the iconic scenes and themes of the series that it has to be on this list.
From the blinding lights of the alien ships, to the shadowy government conspiracy, to the top secret rooms full of alien evidence, the pilot set a confident tone for the show as a whole.
2: Squeeze / Tooms (Season 1)
Okay, so we’re cheating a little with this one, as it is in fact two episodes. However, both feature such an iconic X-Files villain that it’s tough to pick one over the other.
Victor Eugene Tooms was the rubber skinned mutant serial killer with a taste for human liver, and walked a perfect line between human and terrifying monster. These episodes were also responsible for the vague sense of unease we feel whenever we look at an air vent.
1: Home (Season 4)
The only episode of The X-Files to be banned from repeat airings by Fox due to its content, this outing features none of the usual supernatural monsters or intergalactic alien menaces.
It’s simply about the worst excess of humanity as an inbred family in the middle of nowhere with a dark secret. For every horror that we imagine lurking in the dark, this episode reminds us that horrors with human faces are often the worst.
Special mention for the worst episode of all time: First Person Shooter (Season 7)
For all the timeless classics, no show can run as long as The X-Files without producing a few stinkers, and this is far and away the worst.
When Mulder gets trapped in a sentient computer game that feeds on testosterone, it’s up to Scully to prove no one who worked on this episode had ever played a video game in their life and attempt to induce death-by-cringe in the audience at the same time.
Who’s your favourite episode of The X Files? Let us know below…