No matter how many days, months, or even years it’s been since I last watched an episode of The X-Files, as soon as I queue one up and hit “Play,” I’m sucked right back into an all-consuming maelstrom of Mulder/Scully feels that remind me why they’re one of my all-time favorite OTPs (one true pairings).
In fact, I would probably go so far as to say they’ve ruined me for all other TV romances. After all, the iconic duo have been together in some form or another (even they probably couldn’t tell you when they made the subtle switch from partners to partners in every sense of the word) for more than 21 years at this point, and I’m still just as invested in the status of their relationship as I was when it began, if not more so. (
The X-Files 3, where are you? I need a fix!)** What other television romance has played out as perfectly and been allowed to flourish as beautifully?
**My dream of more came true: The X-Files is back for Season 10 and I'm recapping all six episodes!!!!!! Come discuss how in love Mulder and Scully still are in “My Struggle, Part 1” how their new dynamic inspires us to ship them EVEN HARDER in episode 2, how they got their groove back in episode 3, and how they dealt with personal tragedy as a family in episode 4, and then come back every Tuesday morning for a new recap.
The series hints that Scully will never die, but I have to say I firmly believe it’s the Mulder/Scully relationship—with its unwavering trust, unbreakable bond, and unconditional love—that is actually immortal. There’s no Scully without Mulder, and vice versa, and if there’s one thing I don’t doubt, it’s that those two wouldn’t have it any other way.
And so I present to you, this, my MSR (Mulder/Scully Romance) Magnum Opus: 18 Times Mulder/Scully Ruined
Me Us for All Other TV Romances:
18. Cuddling in Season 7's “Requiem”: Season 7 finale “Requiem” was originally intended to be a series finale (long story), so naturally featured some big Mulder and Scully moments. My favorite is probably the way Scully goes to Mulder’s hotel room (WHY are they still keeping separate rooms?) for comfort when she’s feeling sick. He immediately welcomes her in and tucks her into bed, spooning himself around her. Scully seems caught off-guard by his open display of affection at first, but quickly settles in, and for his part, Mulder seems 100% at home, finally.
17. Scully grabbing Mulder’s hand in Season 3's “Pusher”: Spontaneous, unscripted touches are part of Mulder/Scully legend by now, with good reason. (Dat chemistry tho!) While Dana Scully is reserved with 95% of the people in her life, Fox Mulder has been the exception to her rule since 1993 (remember the hug after he told her the bumps on her back were just mosquito bites on their very first case?), and she proves it just a little bit more in the last scene of Season 3’s “Pusher.” Protective instincts on high (Mulder barely managed to resist shooting her while under the control of baddie Robert Patrick Modell and is clearly consumed by guilt), Scully searches out her partner’s hand for a quick, reassuring squeeze and tells him she’s not going to let Modell take up any more of their time. Pretty sure that’s their first instance of hand-holding, but far from their last. Awww.
|Gif via xfilesuniverse.com forums|
16. “First” kiss in Season 7's “Millenium”: Jury’s out on whether this is actually a first kiss (I go back and forth on it, myself), but in any case, this first on-screen meeting of minds and mouths was a long time coming and very, very welcome as another big step in our favorite agents’ relationship. The lip-lock itself is pretty tame, but the way they look at each other afterwards melts the heart. Mulder’s wonderful post-kiss line “The world didn’t end,” which can also be read several different ways, is merely the icing on the cake.
15. That time Mulder and Scully went to the movies in Season 7's “Hollywood A.D.”: Rarely did we get to see the agents unwind, let alone together, so their Season 7 trip to Hollywood for the premiere of the film loosely based on their lives was basically a gift from the gods (thanks, writer/director David Duchovny). They get dressed up, eat popcorn, and flirt like whoa. But the best part is when they walk into the sunset hand-in-hand, still laughing at the idea of Scully being in love with Assistant Director Skinner (as the film suggests) when anyone with eyeballs can tell they’re about to go give Skinner’s Bureau credit card a workout on a romantic dinner and honeymoon suite.
14. “You’re my one in five billion” in Season 5's “Folie a Deux”: I don’t need “I love you” from Mulder and Scully because I see it in everything they do. That said, I’ll never turn down hearing Mulder actually use his words to call Scully his “one in five billion.” I mean, come on. Gold! Almost as important is that he tells her, “Scully, you *have* to believe me. Nobody else on this whole damn planet does, or ever will.” He likes to reaffirm their bond (see #13 below) and she pretends not to be charmed by him but totally is, every time.
|Gif via jillsandwich.tumblr.com|
13. “I owe you everything, Scully, and you owe me nothing” in The X-Files: Fight the Future: What could get Agent Scully to change her mind about quitting the FBI except a plea from her partner and best friend? And boy does Mulder play dirty, telling her that she MADE HIM A WHOLE PERSON (!!!) and that he didn’t know if he wanted to or even could continue his life’s work without her. No pressure! If they didn’t BOTH exhibit an unhealthy need for each other on a regular basis, this would be uncomfortable to watch, but let’s be real, Scully would've lost her mind without him in a matter of days. She was never going anywhere he couldn’t follow.
BONUS: There is a deleted scene on the Fight the Future Blu-ray in which this scene does NOT end in a pesky bee sting but rather a kiss! If you have not yet seen it, this Mulder/Scully kiss will blow your mind.
|Gif via duchorny.tumblr.com|
12. Exchanging vows in Season 7's “The Sixth Extinction, Part II: Amor Fati”: Okay, so they don’t literally exchange vows, nor do they need to, but this conversation after Scully rescues her man from unwilling brain surgery is a watershed moment and probably the closest Mulder and Scully ever come to bothering to try to put into words the indescribable scope of their feelings for each other.
“You were my friend and you told me the truth… Even when the world was falling apart, you were my constant. My touchstone.”
“And you are mine.”
Cue the tears! No, but seriously, this point in Mulder and Scully's relationship ranks high up there in my this-is-totally-when-they-started-sleeping-together list of potential consummation dates. (What?! Figuring that out, definitively, is Very Important!)
11. Scratchy beard scene in The X-Files: I Want to Believe: TXF2 is far from a perfect film, but I’ll defend its place in the canon ’til my dying breath for this scene alone. Six years after the events of the series finds them together, of course, but now officially sharing a home, and a bed. And they’re as magnetic together as always, whether they’re discussing the horrible things they’ve been through together (foremost on Scully’s mind here, giving William up for adoption and watching another child, her patient, suffer from an incurable disease) or joking about the size of Mulder’s...package. The way Scully giggles and tries to squirm away when Mulder rubs his “scratchy beard” against her is positively delightful, as is the tiny kiss he bestows on her neck in naked affection just after.
|Gif via scullaaay.tumblr.com|
10. Scully breaks down in Mulder’s arms in Season 2's “Irresistible”: Scully is tough as nails and everyone knows it, Mulder especially, so this is a huge breakthrough in their relationship. The Donnie Pfaster case gets to Scully from the very start, her horror at the brutality of the victims’ deaths and the stress from her own recent abduction combining to make her doubt herself and her skills as an FBI agent. During a session with a Bureau psychologist, Scully confesses that while she trusts Mulder with her life, she finds she cannot share this with him for fear he’ll treat her differently. But what she seems to understand by the end of the episode—as she finally, finally allows herself to cry and take comfort in Mulder—is that he’ll never, ever see her anything less than 100% his equal, and that he can be trusted to help carry her emotional burdens as well as to watch her back.
9. Mulder and Scully
cling together hug in Season 4's “Memento Mori”: If you enjoy gut-wrenching angst, the cancer arc of Seasons 4 and 5 is probably right up your—oh, who am I kidding, we’re all angst whores here, right? Look, hurt-comfort is a shipping staple, and this storyline gave MSR fans sustenance for years. Years! Still does, really. 'Cause she calls him and only him when she gets the diagnosis, and he goes berserk when she's in the hospital and he can't get to her. 'Cause she writes him soul-baring diary entries, and he reads them. 'Cause he sobs at her bedside, and she demands to take a murder rap for him before she died. 'Cause he won't stop until he finds a cure, and when he does she believes in him enough to accept it, despite the ridicule from her family. But mostly 'cause the hug they share when Scully decides to return to work and keep fighting by his side gives me life.
|Gifs via antoinetripletts.tumblr.com|
8. Protective!Mulder in Season 7's “Requiem”: There aren’t a lot of examples of Mulder getting protective of Scully, with good reason: He knows she can take care of herself, and respects that, which is one of the reasons Scully loves him so much, not to mention the audience (see #10). But I’m weak and turn into a puddle every time I watch this particular hallway scene, in which Mulder begs Scully to go home in the middle of a case:
“Scully, you have to understand: They’re taking abductees. You’re an abductee. I’m not gonna risk...losing you.”
For a guy who once thought finding his sister was the only thing that mattered in life, Fox William Mulder has come a long way, and it’s all because of this woman who was once sent to debunk his work. This exchange and the hug that follows (in the halls of the J. Edgar Hoover Building where anyone they know could walk by, no less, Mr. and Mrs. Spooky, indeed) represent exactly how far they’ve come in 7 years and says everything that doesn’t need to be said about what they mean to each other.
7. Mulder asks Scully to dance in Season 5's “Post-Modern Prometheus”: There are iconic Mulder and Scully scenes and there are ICONIC Mulder and Scully scenes—this one’s unquestionably in the latter camp, not least because the moment came, as all the best ones do, out of nowhere. For Scully, too—the mix of surprise and pleasure on her face as she takes his hand is sublime, and boy do they look amazing together. And then there’s the gazing as they sway together. Perfection. David Duchovny said at Paleyfest last year that he could see this moment—Mulder and Scully dancing and then turning into comic book characters—being a perfect final image for the duo, and I couldn’t agree more.
|Gifs via beablazemydearmockingjay.tumblr.com|
6. “Never give up on a miracle” in Season 8's “Per Manum”: To put it bluntly, this episode was pure retcon and merely confuses the William storyline yet further. What should’ve been a massive deal (Scully knows right away that only Mulder could be the father of her children and asks him to be her IVF donor AND HE SAYS YES!!!!) got short shrift. BUT. But whatever Mulder and Scully are selling, I’m buying, so this particular scene, in which Mulder comforts Scully after learning the IVF didn’t take after all, still ranks as a favorite. Plus, that “Don’t give up on a miracle” line contributes to my theory they were sleeping together sans-protection anyway and somehow conceived the old-fashioned way. (My headcanon is that William is Mulder’s biological son and that his alien powers were just the result of whatever restored Scully’s fertility.)
5. Mulder teaches Scully to play baseball in Season 6's “The Unnatural”: I can take or leave the bulk of this episode, but David Duchovny actually wrote two amaaaaazing Mulder/Scully scenes*. The second one, featuring Mulder “teaching” Scully to swing a bat (not at all convinced she needed a lesson, considering she had two brothers and seems to have been a bit of a tomboy) is one of those rare, perfect moments where the two feds have nothing more pressing on their minds than how fast they can get home or even just to the car to have lots and lots of sex. Oh, oops, maybe that’s just my headcanon?
4. Baby talk in Season 8's “Existence”: As insane as the show got there toward the end, TXF was never bad, in my eyes, ‘cause I’ll always buy what Mulder and Scully are selling. The closest it got to unwatchable was when Mulder and Scully were at odds, and there’s no better example of this than the period immediately following Mulder’s return, when acts like, for lack of a better description, a dick. Chalk it up to PTSD, I guess, but he’s distant and callous and even rather cold toward his “friend” (read: codependent lifemate) Scully and especially toward “her” (read: THEIR) baby. Luckily for us all, he snaps out of it in “Existence,” where he holds his son for the first time and reassures Scully that it was the “possibilities” about William’s conception that they feared but that “The truth, we both knew.” Now, this is infuriatingly vague even for The X-Files, but I translate his meaning loosely as, “William, I am your father.” And sure enough, Mulder refers to William as “our son” or “my son” from this point forward.
3. Kiss to end all kisses in Season 9's series finale “The Truth”: Season 9 had its moments, but The X-Files was not the same without Fox William Mulder. He finally returned in the series finale, having been on the run from the government the whole season, and while his first conversation with Scully in his prison cell is stilted (he calls her Dana as an attempt to tell her they're being watched), their first semi-private reunion is something else. Assistant Director Skinner gets an eyeful as Mulder walks right up to Scully and kisses her and she immediately kisses him back. Easily their most passionate on-screen kiss, this may also be their one instance of hardcore PDA. But Skinner hardly counts by this point, right? He’s known what’s up for ages. I adore the way he looks anywhere but at him as they kiss and stroke and hug. Mulder, the snot, can’t stop while he’s ahead, either, and kisses Scully’s hand (!!!!) as he turns back to Skinner. Lest there be any lingering doubt: Mulder + Scully 4ever. Perfection.
|Gifs via antoinetripletts.tumblr.com|
2. “What if there was only one choice? And all the other ones were wrong?” in Season 7's “All Things”: After much soul-searching courtesy of a dose of her past and the “what might have been” of it all, Scully consciously chooses Mulder and her life with him over everything else, and accepts it as her destiny once and for all. This is SO important, guys. I’m happy. Are you happy? What, you want more? Well how about the way Mulder tenderly brushes back Scully's hair and covers her with a blanket when she falls asleep beside him? Or the fact that this is very likely when Mulder and Scully FINALLY succumb to years of pent-up desire and start
banging making love on the regular (though not during working hours, of course, because have you met them)?!!!!
1. Real talk AND spooning in Season 9's series finale “The Truth”: For all the show’s faults, I honestly cannot imagine a more perfect end to the show than Mulder and Scully in a hotel room arranged in much the same way as they were in the pilot, discussing much the same things. Except this time they find that, finally, they’re on the exact same page (“Then we believe the same thing,” Scully concludes), and they curl up together on some random bed in some random motel, them vs. the world again, forever and always. The way Scully nuzzles him as the camera pans out is just…I DIE.
|Gifs via antoinetripletts.tumblr.com|
*Honorable Mention: The first Mulder/Scully scene in “The Unnatural” is straight-up adorable and deserving of at least an honorable mention; Scully teases Mulder with her ice cream until he rushes her and takes a bite as she's still holding it. Scully howls and Mulder drips ice cream on his research book. Mmmm...
P.S. Just found this adorable fan video the other day and just had to recommend it:
ETA: The X-Files is back for a 6-episode Season 10! And I'm recapping each episode as a Mulder/Scully shipper.
Heather Waters is the site manager of H&H, and a 24/7 fangirl. Tweet her @hwaters_