The Hearts of Mulder and Scully

The X-Files featured the longest running foreplay in television history. At least it seemed that way to me. It got annoying after a while, but then series tend to play out before the producers let them go. It’s been twenty years since the show first aired, which I find hard to wrap my head around, but it’s not dead yet. They’re talking about doing another film, and I say do it!

At first, we had the fresh-faced Dana Scully assigned to debunk the strange theories of spooky Fox Mulder. The perfect couple for the nineties. Still digesting all the changes in women’s roles in the later part of the twentieth century, writers made Scully the scientist and Mulder the emotionally sensitive one. Except Scully exhibited the traits of the Victorian Angel in the House in that she kept her principles unsullied. She gave Mulder a pure space to stand and live in for a time. Science demands objectivity, and Scully’s commitment to honesty made her have to admit that Mulder might be right most of the time. Yet she doggedly kept to her skepticism. The script demanded it.

Mulder is reminiscent of the Byronic hero of the nineteenth century, a moody man who creates his own code of ethics, exuding a brooding sexuality, and suffering from some mysterious guilt. In Mulder’s case it was the loss of his sister. Why, oh why didn’t they abduct him instead? Mulder’s vulnerability and his quirky brilliance begin to win Scully over. Her heart peeks out from behind her formidable, yet shy intellect. The tension builds.

Although Scully is the scientist of the pair and they trade off saving each other’s lives, Scully also is the traditional female body that is assaulted and invaded. Donnie Pfaster who abducts women, washes their hair, and then cuts off their fingers before he kills them, takes Scully and asks her in a famous scene if her hair is dry or normal. Tooms elongates himself into a spaghetti string and invades Scully’s bathroom. (She’s running a bath. At least she knows not to take a shower!) Duane Barry, repeatedly abducted by aliens, abducts Scully in turn, and Mulder must rescue her. But in conscious replication of Mulder’s original wound, Scully is later abducted by—well, is it aliens or the government? She discovers an implant, removes it, and contracts cancer. Scully’s brother tells Mulder he is one sorry son of a bitch, and Mulder agrees with him.

Toward the end of the series, Scully becomes pregnant and there is some indication that it is an immaculate conception—or at least another abduction and implant of a super soldier. The baby is revealed to have super powers, created from genetic manipulation, so the science fiction aspect of the show is saved. The shadow government wants to abduct this child, so Scully is forced to give him up in order to hide him and keep him safe. But the audience yearns to know that this is really Mulder’s child. It is over little Billy that the two finally have a long and protracted kiss. And it is in the subsequent film that we discover Mulder is indeed his father. They sort of forgot about the super powers.

Interesting to me is that the last film in which Mulder and Scully are finally a couple was not very good. We wanted a continuation of the grand arc of the story—aliens, government conspiracies, that sort of thing—but we got a stand-alone episode instead—monster, murderer, solve this individual case sort of thing. But could it have been that the relationship was consummated and the series was therefore over?

Who is your favorite couple in a mystery series?


Author: Theresa Crater

Award-winning author Theresa Crater brings ancient temples, lost civilizations and secret societies back to life in her visionary fiction. In The Star Family, a Gothic mansion holds a secret spiritual group and a 400-year-old ritual that must be completed to save the day. The shadow government search for ancient Atlantean weapons in the fabled Hall of Records in Under the Stone Paw and fight to control ancient crystals sunk beneath the sea in Beneath the Hallowed Hill. Other novels include School of Hard Knocks and God in a Box, both exploring women in historical context. Her short stories explore ancient myth brought into the present day. The most recent include “The Judgment of Osiris” and “Bringing the Waters.” Theresa has also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches meditation, as well as creative writing and British lit.

8 thoughts on “The Hearts of Mulder and Scully”

  1. I think this speaks to the age-old problem of “what happens when they finally get together?” If not handled well, it gets anticlimactic and boring – as you said, a stand-alone, instead of a continuation of the arc.

    Favorite couple? Oh gosh, I always loved the interplay between Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler (The Woman).


  2. Yes, Mary. McKee says in his romantic genre class that the story about a couple is will they stay together after the challenges marriage brings. I think he might be right.


  3. Twenty years! Hardly seems that long. Time in a telescope. I’ve noticed that often a series (TV or literary) will lose it’s oomph when the characters marry. One of my all time favorites that avoided this is Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. Dorothy L had it down.


  4. I love the tension between Father John and Vicki in Margaret Coel’s series. A relationship between them is taboo on so many levels. I always like this sort of tension in mysteries, and when the relationship is resolved, then I am probably done, too!


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