You don’t often hear Fox Mulder and Dana Scully utter those three little words in The X-Files. In fact, by my count, Mulder has said “I love you” a single time while Scully has used “It’s why I fell in love with you” once in the middle of an argument. And yet, if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that our favorite FBI partners, those paradigms of professionalism and Platonic Friendship, constantly express their feelings to one another in their own (emotionally constipated) way. You can read as much as much into what they don’t say as what they do. You just have to translate using your handy X-Files-to-English Translator.
Allow me to present, then, the ever-expanding, always incomplete guide How to Say “I Love You” in X-Files, as compiled and illustrated by Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in 11+ seasons of The X-Files:
“Mulder, I wouldn’t put myself on the line for anybody but you.”—Scully (Season 1, episode 20, “Tooms”)
Translation: I don’t know how this happened, but I’d do basically anything for you, including risk my reputation and career. I love you. As a colleague.
“I don’t know if my being here will help bring you back. But I’m here.”—Mulder (Season 2, episode 8, “One Breath”)
Translation: Don’t you dare leave me. I can’t even admit to myself that I love you yet, but I do.
“I wouldn’t change a day.”—Scully (Season 4, Episode 5, “The Field Where I Died”)
Translation: Fate can take a long walk off a short pier—I choose my work and friendship with you. I love you. Platonically, of course.
“Scully, should we be picking out china patterns, or what?”—Mulder (Season 4, Episode 20, “Small Potatoes”)
Translation: Scully, marry me. For serious. Who are we kidding? Unresolved sexual tension is overrated. We should resolve it right now.
“Jeremiah was a bullfrooooog”—Scully (Season 5, Episode 4, “Detour”)
Translation: Do you have any idea how much I must love you to sing for you, you lucky bastard?
“You’re my 1 in 5 billion.”—Mulder (Season 5, episode 19, “Folie a Deux”)
Translation: If soulmates are legit, you’re mine. I love you.
“You’ve kept me honest. You’ve made me a whole person. I owe you everything, Scully, and you owe me nothing.”—Mulder (The X-Files: Fight the Future)
Translation: I’d be a wreck without you, please don’t leave me, my heart is at your feet, I love you.
“Maybe I did want to be out there with you.”—Scully (Season 6, Episode 6, “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas”)
Translation: I love you and I can’t imagine spending Christmas without you and your crazy cases. You’re my family now too.
“Happy New Year, Scully.”—Mulder (Season 7, Episode 4, ”Millenium”)
Translation: I love you. Now, let’s finish this kiss somewhere more private…
“I won’t let you go alone.”—Scully (Season 7, Episode 22, “Requiem”)
Translation: I can’t lose you. You’re the love of my life. I’m sending Skinner to watch your six.
“The truth, we both know.”—Mulder (Season 8, Episode 21, “Existence”)
Translation: We made love and it was amaaaaazing. Related: William, I am your father.
“Mulder, you say that you’ve failed, but you only fail if you give up. And I know you—you can’t give up. It’s what I saw in you when we first met. It’s what made me follow you… Why I’d do it all over again.”—Scully (Season 9, Episode 20, “The Truth, Part 2”)
Translation: Ride or die, baby. Love you.
“Don’t give up.”—Mulder (The X-Files: I Want to Believe)
Translation: Hold on a little longer to me, to us. We can get through this. I love you.
“I’m here.”—Mulder (Season 10, Episode 2, “Home Again”)
Translation: You can’t get rid of me that easy. Twenty-three years and a lot of ups and downs later, I still love you
And these are just lines of dialogue! They also use body language to great effect, but to go into that, I’d be here for years. Their affection for each other is in every look, every gesture, every touch, dating back to the earliest days of their partnership.
Here’s where I acknowledge that I’ve barely scratched the surface of the best romantic X-Files quotes and moments here. I mean, I haven’t even published this article yet and I’m already questioning my choices. Because, like, HOW could I have left out…
“You were my friend, and you told me the truth”
…and all the other zillion examples of how they show affection in their own subtle, special way, huh?!
Don’t just mutter at your phone, though. Tell me: What Mulder/Scully-language “I love you” examples would you add to this list? (Gifs and other edits always welcome as illustration!)
The first edition of this article was published October 18, 2015, at HeroesandHeartbreakers.com.