restricted access Memento mori: The slow death of The X-Files

Despite being arguably the defining sf series of the 1990s, by the time the last episode of The X-Files aired in the US in 2002 (2003 in the UK), few people cared. The fans for whom the adventures of Mulder and Scully were unmissable had moved on and even the sf fanzines, many of which had devoted countless pages to the show during its heyday, barely covered its passing. The consensus was that in its final seasons The X-Files was past its prime, with star David Duchovny absent, Scully consigned to a supporting role in favour of two new characters, John Doggett and Monica Reyes, and the writers floundering, having lost track of the complicated narrative arcs. This article will examine the series' demise, challenging these assumptions and suggesting that, though ultimately unsuccessful, the final years of The X-Files are characterised, as it was at the programme's peak, by innovation.