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X-Files: How to watch Mulder & Scully & the Lone Gunmen's stories (and more) in release and chronological order

Want to get started on watching The X-Files? Here’s how to do it!

The X-Files
Image credit: Fox Television

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The truth is out there. The question is, who is bold enough to find it?

Meet Dana Scully and Fox Mulder, two FBI agents who are tasked with closing the bureau’s most unusual cases. Scully is a pragmatist who believes there is a scientific explanation for everything, while Mulder believes in supernatural and extraterrestrial forces. Their partnership was explored on The X-Files, a television series that became a ratings sensation in the 90s.

The supernatural thriller was known for its imaginative stories, iconic theme tune, and of course, the romantic tension between its two leads. The series also explored conspiracy theories, at a time when the concept wasn’t mainstream. To this day, The X-Files is fondly remembered as a series that took risks, and redefined television dramas.

An X-Files reboot is currently being developed by director Ryan Coogler. If the upcoming series has inspired you to revisit the franchise, then Popverse has you covered. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about watching The X-Files.

How to watch The X-Files in release order

Watching The X-Files in release order is pretty simple. Just make sure you watch the 1998 movie between seasons 5 and 6, and The X-Files: I Want to Believe between seasons 9 and 10. The Lone Gunmen was a spin-off that focused on the titular government trio. You can watch it alongside The X-Files season 8, or after completing the season.

Here is a release order list to get you started!

How to watch The X-Files in chronological order

Mulder and Scully
Image credit: 20th Century Television

If you’re looking to watch The X-Files in chronological order, it’s fairly easy to do. The release order and the chronological order are identical. However, if you’re interested in diverging timelines, there is an alternative way to watch. Plus, the upcoming Ryan Coogler relaunch of the franchise is set to be a reboot, which most likely means it will be set in a new continuity.

Confused? Here’s a simple breakdown.

Original timeline

This covers the main continuity of the original television franchise.

  • The X-Files season 1-5
  • The X-Files (1998 movie) also known as The X-Files: Fight the Future
  • The X-Files season 6-8
  • The Lone Gunmen
  • The X-Files season 9
  • The X-Files: I Want to Believe
  • The X-Files season 10-11

Alternate timeline

This timeline branches after the events of the 2008 film The X-Files: I Want to Believe, and continues with IDW’s comics and the audio dramas. For more on the canon issues surrounding the comics and audio dramas, please refer to our section on tie-in material.

Rebooted timeline

This is presumably the continuity that the upcoming Ryan Coogler reboot will be set in

  • The X-Files (TBA)

When is The X-Files season 12 coming out?

The X-Files screencap
Image credit: 20th Century Television

If you keep waiting for The X-Files season 12 to drop on your favorite streaming service, get comfortable, because you’re going to be waiting a while. There are currently no plans for The X-Files season 12, however, there is some interest from the cast and creators. Speaking to The Wrap, X-Files creator Chris Carter stated that he would do another season if Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny were involved.

Speaking to Yahoo, David Duchovny said he was open to returning to the franchise. Anderson, who wasn’t thrilled about the direction of season 11, has been more lukewarm. In various interviews the star indicated that she’s ready to leave Dana Scully behind. However, she told Variety that she would be willing to reprise the role if it meant passing the baton on to the next generation.

At this time Ryan Coogler is developing an X-Files reboot for 20th Century Studios. There is currently no release date, and it’s unknown what platform the revival will end up on. Carter told The Wrap that he won’t be involved with the new series, but Coogler has his blessing. Industry trades describe the new series as a reboot, so it’s likely that it takes place in a new continuity.

Do Mulder and Scully ever get together?

Mulder and Scully tender moment
Image credit: 20th Century Television

While The X-Files wasn’t a romance show, viewers were still heavily invested in the chemistry between Mulder and Scully, and the question of if they would get together. So, do they, or don’t they?

Warning: Skip the remainder of this section if you want to avoid any spoilers!

Still here? Yes, Mulder and Scully get together, but it takes some time. The early seasons of The X-Files hint at an attraction between the two, as their partnership grows into a deep friendship. The two agents almost kissed in the 1998 feature film, and Mulder kisses an alternate universe version of Scully in the season 6 episode ‘Triangle.’ Mulder and Scully finally have their first real kiss in the season 7 episode ‘Millenium.’

So, if you’re watching The X-Files and waiting for Mulder and Scully to get together, you’ll have to be patient. However, don’t get too comfortable. Don’t forget, getting together is one thing, staying together is an entirely different story.

Should I watch The X-Files movies? Are they canon?

X-Files: I Want to Believe screencap
Image credit: 20th Century Studios

There are two X-Files films, and both of them are canon. The first film, The X-Files (also called The X-Files: Fight the Future) was released during the height of the show’s popularity in 1998. The film takes place between The X-Files seasons 5 and 6. In fact, the season 6 premiere picks up where the movie left off. The X-Files: I Want to Believe was released in 2008, six years after the television series had concluded. The movie tells a standalone story, unrelated to ongoing storylines from the television series. I Want to Believe is set between The X-Files season 9 and the 2016 season 10 revival.

Is The X-Files tie-in material canon?

X-Files comics
Image credit: IDW

Over the years, The X-Files mythology has been expanded with multimedia content, such as comics, novels, and audio dramas. How much of that content is canon?

Let’s start with the novels. Most of the books are adaptations of the television series and movies, but there are a few novels that tell original stories. Here is a list of them.

These novels are considered secondary material, and not part of the larger X-Files canon.

Topps published an ongoing X-Files comic from 1995 to 1998, in addition to some specials. Some of these comics were adaptations of television episodes, while others told original stories. None of them were ever referenced by the television series, and should be considered secondary canon.

In 2008 WildStorm published a six-issue X-Files series (and an issue zero special). According to writer Frank Spotnitz, the series is set sometime between seasons 2 and 5 of the original television series. X-Files creator Chris Carter promoted the comics as canon.

The situation with the IDW Comics is a bit more complicated. In 2013 IDW began publishing The X-Files Season 10. As the title implies, the series picks up where The X-Files season 9 (and the 2008 film) left off. Chris Carter served as executive producer of the comic, giving it a sense of legitimacy. A comic titled The X-Files Season 11 series followed in 2015.

The X-Files Season 10 comic was adapted into a 2-part audio drama titled The X-Files: Cold Cases and The X-Files: Stolen Lives. The audio dramas featured Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny reprising their roles as Mulder and Scully. It doesn’t get more canon than that….until 2016.

At the time, Carter had no indication that The X-Files would ever return to television, so he saw the comic as a legitimate continuation of the franchise.

And then The X-Files returned to television.

When The X-Files was given a televised season 11 in 2016, Carter and the producers opted to go in a new direction, ignoring the events of the IDW comics. The publisher switched gears and launched a new X-Files series which served as a companion piece to the revived television show.

If you see a comic book titled X-Files Season 10 and Season 11, or see an audio drama with Anderson and Duchovny, they aren’t canon. But they’re fun, so feel free to enjoy them.

As of now, any IDW comic published since the 2016 retooling is considered canon.

Is The X-Files/The Simpsons crossover canon?

X-Files and Simpsons crossover
Image credit: 20th Century Television

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny reprised their roles as Dana Scully and Fox Mulder on The Simpsons season 8 episode ‘The Springfield Files.’ When Homer Simpson believes he’s encountered an extraterrestrial, the FBI agents head to Springfield to investigate.

Does this mean that The Simpsons and The X-Files are part of the same universe? Not really.

When you watch the episode, it’s clear that Scully and Mulder’s extended appearance is played for laughs and shouldn’t be considered part of the official X-Files lore. In other words, don’t expect to find Mulder and Scully referencing their Springfield visit in any X-Files episodes.

That being said, it’s still a fun episode, with lots of great Easter eggs for X-Files fans. If you want to watch it, it’s currently available on Disney+.

Is Millenium an X-Files spin-off?

X-Files Millennium crossover
Image credit: 20th Century Television

Millenium is not an X-Files spin-off, but it does take place in the same television universe. The series was created by Chris Carter, the producer who developed The X-Files. Millenium followed the adventures of Frank Black, a former FBI agent who served as a consultant for a mysterious organization known as the Millenium Group. The show ran for 3 seasons on Fox before being cancelled in 1998.

After the series was cancelled, Frank Black appeared on the X-Files season 7 episode ‘Millenium.’ The crossover episode was meant to give Millenium viewers a sense of closure, wrapping up Black’s storyline. If you haven’t seen The Millenium, the episode does a good job at bringing viewers up to speed.

Although the shows crossed over, Millenium is not considered a part of the X-Files franchise, so we’ve left it off our watch order list. After all, you wouldn’t put Scooby-Doo on a Supernatural watch order list, just because the two shows shared a crossover. However, if The X-Files has you hungry for more Chris Carter shows about government conspiracies, feel free to check it out. The series is available on DVD.

Where can I watch The X-Files?

X-Files: I Want to Believe screencap
Image credit: 20th Century Studios

Now that you know how to watch The X-Files, let’s show you where you can watch The X-Files. The complete series is currently available to stream on Freevee, one of Amazon’s video-on-demand platforms. Unlike Prime Video, Freevee doesn’t require a subscription, so you can begin your X-Files journey without signing up for another streaming service.

As of this writing, the 1998 X-Files film isn’t available on any streaming service. However, it is available to rent or buy digitally from a variety of video-on-demand platforms, including Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, and Apple TV. X-Files: Fight the Future is currently available to stream for free on Sling TV. The Lone Gunmen isn’t on any streaming services, but as of now the complete series is currently uploaded to YouTube. Keep in mind, some of these television shows and films may wind up on different services as streaming licenses expire.

Now you have everything you need to begin watching The X-Files! Remember, the truth is out there!

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About the Author
Joshua Lapin-Bertone avatar

Joshua Lapin-Bertone

Contributing writer

Joshua is a pop culture writer specializing in comic book media. His work has appeared on the official DC Comics website, the DC Universe subscription service, HBO Max promotional videos, the Batman Universe fansite, and more. In between traveling around the country to cover various comic conventions, Joshua resides in Florida where he binges superhero television and reads obscure comics from yesteryear.