Screenwriter Chris Carter was developing light-hearted comedies for Walt Disney Studios when he was offered a position to produce new shows for Fox. Shortly after, he came up with the premise for The X-Files. In Ted Edwards’ book X-Files Confidential, Carter admits that although he wrote comedies for a long time, his heart was always “in scary, dramatic, thriller writing.” The idea for X-Files took shape when Carter spoke with his psychologist friend, Dr. John Mack, who specialized in schizophrenia, and came to determine that “three percent of Americans believe they have actually been abducted by UFOs.”
The essential piece which grounded the show and ultimately made it so successful was Scully’s scientific skepticism. In a CBR interview by Brett White and Albert Ching, Carter explains that the show had so much appeal to audiences because of the “residual mistrust of the government that came with the Watergate era.” Since then, Carter believes that people have become even more “suspicious of the people who are in charge” due to inconsistent actions by the government, institutions, and the media.
That being said, The X-Files certainly isn’t all doom and gloom. Carter inserted his experience in comedy into his writing for TheX-Files and established the perfect balance of mystery and humor. According to Josh Reilly’s article, The X-Files Transition From Horror to Comedyone of the “core strengths of [the show] is its ability to shift genres” and the “amount of forays into comedy increased significantly as the show went on.” Apparently, the show holds so much potential for humor that as of 2020, Fox started developing an animated comedy spin-off called X-Files: Albuquerque. However, before even contemplating the new show, it’s important to look at the old gems that are a part of the original. Here are the funniest X-Files episodes ranked.
9 Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster
This recent episode of the tenth season came from the mind of one of the show’s main writers, Darin Morgan. In the first place, Agent Mulder and Agent Scully are expecting to investigate the behavior and killings of a recently sighted were-monster. However, when Mulder and Scully catch up with the monster, a were-lizard, they discover that his life has been turned upside down. The were-lizard was bitten by a human and now transforms into one by day, while the murders were actually committed by a human. A hilarious situation and a perfect continuation of the series that is well worth a watch.
8 War of the Coprophages
Another Darin Morgan contribution in which a town is being terrorized by cockroaches and Mulder must work the case with a particularly beautiful bug expert, Bambi. Meanwhile, Agent Scully is attempting to relax at home on her time off, but Mulder keeps calling her to get her opinion on the infestation. Mulder and Scully’s phone calls go in circles, with Scully offering a logical explanation and Mulder leaning towards a more supernatural culprit. Despite being at home, Scully reluctantly travels to the roach-infested town and debunks the situation, only to get covered in cow dung.
7 Small Potatoes
The 20th episode of the fourth season follows the case of five babies born with tails in West Virginia. Scully and Mulder begin an investigation only to have one of the mothers tell them that she had intercourse with an alien. She also reveals that the alien was Luke Skywalker. Gradually, Scully and Mulder deduce that the five babies are from the same father, a man named Eddie Van Blundht.
It turns out, Blundht can really transform himself to look like anyone. Because of his abilities, it is particularly difficult for the two FBI agents to identify and catch Blundht, especially when he impersonates Mulder and tries to seduce Scully. This is one of the funnier episodes in the series and cannot go unmentioned.
6 Dreamland Part I and II
This X-Files episode involves some hilarious body-swapping. Due to a malfunctioning UFO, Mulder and Area 51 agent, Morris Fletcher accidentally swap bodies. As Fletcher, Mulder struggles to keep up appearances for Fletcher’s wife, and Fletcher fails to trick Scully by consistently referring to her as “baby.” The most humorous scene of the episode is the mirror dance, in which Mulder sees himself as agent Fletcher and makes sure all of their movements are the same.
This make-believe cross-over of the X-Files and Cops is the 12th episode of the seventh season. The episode progresses the way a Cops episode would, in reality TV show format, and follows the case of a monster in LA, a creature that can shapeshift into its victim’s worst fear. In the episode, Mulder and Scully search for the beast with some crew from Cops assisting them. Their behavior is particularly humorous in this episode because they’re aware of the cameras and They’re FBI agents, meaning, the majority of their work is supposed to be top secret. Since its debut, the episode has been praised by several reviewers and was ranked as one of the best X-Files installments by The Montreal Gazette.
4 The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat
Although the new series of X-Files that emerged in 2016 wasn’t all successful, the episodes written by one of the show’s original writers, Darin Morgan, brought the show back to its original prime. The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat features a man named Reggie who claims to have worked with Mulder and Scully on the X-Files.
However, they have no recollection of him. Reggie explains to the two agents that this must be the “Mandela effect,” which refers to how memories can be fabricated or incorrect. The episode consists of some funny flashbacks but also considers deeply Scully and Mulder’s place in today’s reality.
3 Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose
This installment is an earlier episode written by Darin Morgan. The season three episode follows Scully and Mulder’s investigation into a pattern of killings, the murders of multiple psychics and fortune-tellers. In the process of their search, the two agents interact with the psychic, death-predicting Clyde Bruckman, played by guest star Peter Boyle, as well as the obviously bogus psychic, the Stupendous Yappi. The two psychics deliver a humorous performance that makes this episode one of the funniest in the series, and Boyle won an Emmy Award for his work.
2 Bad Blood
In this highly praised season five episode, Mulder kills a man he believes to be a vampire but afterward discovers the deceased is wearing fake teeth. Mulder and Scully are required to report to their superior, Walter Skinner, but before doing so they need to confirm their story. The funniest part of this episode is watching the two agents relay different accounts as to what actually happened when neither of their versions is accurate. The episode guest stars Luke Wilson, of Idiocracy and Enlightenedas a small-town Texas sheriff.
1 Jose Chung’s From Outer Space
Jose Chung’s From Outer Space is another classic episode written by the loyal and funny X-Files writer, Darin Morgan. As with many of Morgan’s installments, this episode is the perfect mix of bizarre and funny. Like in the episode The Lost Art of Forehead Sweatthe show appears to reflect on itself and its place in the world. Jose Chung’s From Outer Space author follows Joe Chung as he researches the abduction of a teenage couple and speaks with Agent Scully to get more information. Scully believes the incident to be date rape since the woman was discovered naked, but when Mulder puts the victim under hypnosis she accounts for an alien abduction.
The episode features a lot of ridiculous twists, such as The Sweet Potato Pie Interrogation, in which Mulder interrogates a cook while eating sweet potato pie. The episode is certainly the funniest X-Files plot, utilizing the Rashomon structure the series liked to adopt, telling the same narrative from multiple points of view and drawing a lot of comedy from the differences.
While the X-Files will never return to its former format or with its original players, Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, the new animated spin-off has creator Chris Carter attached. Without original writer Darin Morgan involved, it’s hard to predict how humorous the series will be, but it does seem to be aiming directly for the kind of great offbeat comedy the series was sometimes known for. So far, X-Files Albuquerque has no release date.