This Is Why The X-Files Never Became A Franchise

Illustration for article titled This Is Why iThe X-Files/i Never Became A Franchise

In addition to science fiction, The X-Files also fit neatly into another genre: the crime procedural. But, unlike other wildly successful crime dramas like Law & Order or CSI, it never managed to truly became a franchise. So what was it that prevented us from seeing The X-Files: Miami? There was a simple reason.


Going off of the news that The X-Files might be making its way back to our screens, a discussion began about just what that might look like. But that discussion soon turned to another issue: Why, despite high hopes from the shows creators, it could never make the leap from show to franchise.


The reason, noted a number of commenters, was that mythology of The X-Files was simply too flimsy to support spinoff shows (although The Lone Gunmen gave it a try) or even to really support the addition of new central characters into the cast. Instead they (very wisely) built the show around the one truly rock solid element: the relationship between its two protagonists. Unfortunately, while that worked well for the show itself, that chemistry didn't travel well at all:


I feel like we've already had reboots of the X-Files - from good (Fringe, Sleepy Hollow) to not so good (the ninth season of the X-Files.) There are just so many supernaturally tinged procedurals out there Mulder and Scully are what make the X-Files unique and not say Supernatural.

I guess what I'm saying is if you reboot X-Files a hard reboot might be better than a soft one, giving us new spins on the show's iconic central dynamic.


If a continuation (or even just a "television event") of The X-Files occurs with GA and DD taking over their roles again, they're either going to have to deal with huge continuity issues from the show or ... just ignore that continuity. I think almost all of the fans of the original show and any new prospective fans would rather the latter happen then the former, which is why I'm talking up the soft reboot option. Mulder and Scully team up to go investigate some paranormal/supernatural cases, they have witty banter, lots of flashlights, trenchcoats, it all looks like it got filmed in Vancouver, it's lighthearted fun and maybe there's some aliens, who knows.

A hard reboot, to me, insinuates that any of the original cast is not allowed to be a starring character, e.g. GA and DD are only occasionally in an episode, and Chris Carter ain't the one writing it. ... that doesn't seem to be what Fox and those three people are talking about, these talks seem to insinuate that Chris and Gillian and David are the three main people involved.


Fox and Carter were so eager to expand the X-Files into a franchise that they effectively preempted any possibility of closure. I remember being absolutely pissed off watching the finale with the realization that nothing was going to be resolved, that it was all being set aside for a series of movie sequels that were highly unlikely to materialize. (I was kind of shocked that Believe got made at all, but not the poor box office reception.)

I thought there were some really solid episodes from the "L.A. Period" (1998-2001), which some fans think of as when the show jumped the shark because sunny Southern California lacked the iconic gloom of the Vancouver shoots. But once Duchovny started making noises about leaving the show, they really should have started to consider ending the series. Turning it into an ensemble with Scully and a half-dozen regulars, a la Law & Order, was a disastrous idea, because about 90% of the show was about Mulder and Scully's relationship. On its own, the UFO mythology was flimsy and unsustainable.


To borrow your own thinking on a different Fox property, The X-Files was also its own distinct series over time, as different seasons chose to do somewhat different things stylistically and thematically as the mythology got more complex/over-reaching/unsustainable and as David Duchovny wanted less to do with the show/wanted to hang out in Los Angeles with his family more. Like lots of other television properties, they didn't want to soft reboot when they had a perfectly good opportunity to do so (e.g., at the end of Season 7 when Mulder half-left, they could have just redone the show without Mulder and the plots that only make sense to his character) and so it stumbled along for another 2 seasons trying to be a show either half about Mulder or not at all about Mulder. But audiences didn't want that. They wanted Mulder and Scully.

e.g. if Buffy the Vampire Slayer had started off as a show about Buffy and Angel primarily, then when David Boreanaz left, it would have been odd for BtVS to continue onward. But BtVS started as an ensemble and could lose a character or two or three over its time. The X-Files was a show about a duo of FBI agents. When one of your agents leaves, then, so does the show.

What do you think? What lets a show become a franchise, and what kept The X-Files from achieving that? Drop your thoughts (along with any potential plotlines for X-Files: Miami) into the comments now.

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Closer to a spin-off than Lone Gunman...