The X-Files is a Peabody, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning American science fiction television series, created by Chris Carter, which first aired in 1993 and ended in 2002. The show was a hit for the Fox network, and its characters and slogans (e.g., "The Truth Is Out There", "Trust No One", "I Want to Believe") became pop culture touchstones in the 1990s. Seen as a defining series of its era, The X-Files tapped into public mistrust of governments and large institutions, and embraced conspiracy theories and spirituality, as it centered on efforts to uncover the existence of extraterrestrial life. The series has also spawned two theatrical movies (Fight The Future, I Want To Believe), and a spin-off series (The Lone Gunmen).

In the series, FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are the investigators of "X-Files": marginalized, unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena. Mulder is a "believer" in the existence of aliens and the paranormal, while Scully, a skeptic, is assigned by powerful forces to debunk and control Mulder's unorthodox work. In fact, early in the series both agents turn into pawns in a larger conflict (termed the "mythology" or "mytharc" by the producers), and come to trust only each other, a close relationship which was interpreted by viewers as either platonic or romantic. As a counterpart to the long-term story arc, "monster of the week" episodes, ranging in tone from horror to comedy, made up roughly two-thirds of the series. In such stand-alone X-Files episodes, Mulder and Scully investigated bizarre crimes with fewer long-term implications on the storyline.

The show's popularity peaked in the mid-to-late 1990s, leading to a 1998 film, The X-Files: Fight the Future (followed by a post-series film, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, in 2008). In the last two seasons, Gillian Anderson became the star as David Duchovny appeared rarely, and new central characters were introduced: Bureau agents John Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish), while Mulder and Scully's boss, Assistant Director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) also became a central character. By its final airing, The X-Files had become the longest-running science fiction series ever on US broadcast television. TV Guide called The X-Files the second greatest cult television show and the 37th best television show of all time. In 2007, Time magazine included it on a list of the "100 Best TV Shows of All Time." In 2008, Entertainment Weekly named it the fourth best piece of science fiction media and the fourth best TV show in the last 25 years.

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