Formerly a renowned profiler, he became something of a joke at the Bureau when he started to pursue an obscure side project known only as the "X Files", but he soon drew attention from more sinister quarters...
Agent Mulder: Trope Namer. He always believed in the paranormal explanation of the case of the week, but he could change his perspective if Scully's scientific theory was proving to be the solution.
Agent Scully: If the case involved mysteries of religious nature and miracles, Mulder would be very skeptical and dismiss God as explanation.
Always Save the Girl: In the very first episode, Mulder said that nothing else mattered to him except finding out the truth about the conspiracy and what happened to his sister. Early seasons of the show got a lot of mileage out of making him choose between pursuing his quest and saving Scully. Around the beginning of season 5, though, it ceased to even be an issue — he decided Scully was priority #1 and never looked back. (She saves his butt just as often.)
Ambiguously Jewish: On more than one occasion, anti-Semitics accuse him of looking Jewish; Mulder always refuses to answer. What we know about his family background makes it somewhat unlikely that he actually is.
Anyone Can Die: Mulder dies kind of a lot. He flatlines in the middle of season 2. And at the end of season 2. And two episodes in season 8. Never Killed Off for Real, however.
Badass Bookworm: For some values of "badass" at least, although he does in fact get beat up quite a lot. His strength lies in great knowledge of paranormal phenomena and that he alwas tries to find concrete evidence. He's shown to be a good shot (but he always drops his gun) and he's physically fit. Also, he survives and that's saying quite a lot because in his world, almost everyone is trying to kill him or discredit him.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The FBI tolerates his obsession with the paranormal because he's a very, very, very good forensic psychologist. Mulder was a very strongly right-brained intuitive, who also engaged in free association thinking, and was able to detach his mind from conventional preconceptions. He was so good, in fact, that he'd earned the moniker 'Spooky' before even opening the X-Files: his partner at the time thought his ability to profile and understand people was downright uncanny.
Byronic Hero: Brooding and comely FBI agent whose quest for the truth is just and right, although his means of trying to achieve that can be over-the-top and jackassery. Only very few people in the show's world seem to appreciate him.
The Cassandra: Gets a fair amount of this though this can be expected. Sometimes, he may get the details wrong, but the overall theory will be right. Other times, he uses a shotgun effect and throws out a bunch of different theories, but one of them is right. Subverted at the times The Conspiracy takes steps to have him ignored.
Commuting on a Bus: During season 8. He was abducted in season 7 finale, some presumed he was dead, and he appeared in mid-season episodes and towards the end.
Conspiracy Theorist: A heroic conspiracy nut who is unusual both in almost always being right in his postulations about secret doings and in (usually) being a rational, shrewdly observant investigator who labors to find solid evidence to support his ideas.
Deadpan Snarker: He snarks at everything and everybody. His face is deadpan serious and sometimes people get confused with his jokes. At times people think he's kidding when he presents his paranormal explanation and is super serious.
Mulder (upon seeing the Cigarette Smoking Man in a hospital): Please tell me you're here with severe chest pains.
Determinator: He follows his quest for the truth with extreme grit.
Scully: They could drop you in the middle of a desert and tell you the truth is out there, and you'd ask them for a shovel.
Distressed Dude: Ends up in this role a lot, though this was more due to his inability to think before charging in than a need to show off Scully's competency.
Embarrassing First Name: He's not too fond of his first name Fox but he's not too embarrassed either. He prefers people to call him Mulder. He once said that he had made even his parents call him Mulder but they actually call him Fox.
Empty Fridge Empty Life: As seen in "Chinga". His fridge contains nothing but a huge jug of orange juice. He takes a swig straight from the bottle, checks the date (which is at least 4 months expired) and spits the juice back into the bottle. He then puts the bottle back in the fridge. He manages to do this routine while he's on the phone with Scully who took a weekend off and whom he misses dearly.
Fair Cop: Federal Agent & tall, dark, handsome, troubled, frequently shirtless or working out...
Fingertip Drug Analysis: His favorite investigative technique. Mulder once licked a substance he strongly suspected to be extract of foxglove.
Guilt Complex: Feels responsible for his sister Samantha's abduction as a child while under his care, and spent his adult life devoted to finding her. When Scully joins him, it continues. Scully is abducted in season 2, which he blames himself for. She later develops cancer and finds out that she is barren, which he also blames himself for. In season 3, Scully's sister, Melissa, is killed in Scully's apartment by mistake—the shooter was looking for Scully. Mulder blames himself, because if he hadn't dragged Scully with him onto his quest, all these things never would have happened. He also tends to blame himself for other deaths; his informant Deep Throat is shot and killed in season 1, which he blames himself for. He tells Scully she should leave the FBI and be a doctor, before she is killed during his quest. Scully handwaves this and continues on with him. It doesn't help that other characters reinforce his guilt. In season 2, his sister returns and Scully is kidnapped by the Alien Bounty Hunter. He trades his sister (though we find out she's really a clone) for Scully's life, and his "sister" is subsequently "killed". He calls his father to his apartment to tell him, and his father becomes angry with him. When Mulder offers to tell his mother, his father demands to know if Mulder knows how losing Samantha again will devastate her. On top of that, it's implied that his parents blame him for his sister's abduction in the first place. Bill Scully, Jr., too, blames Mulder for things beyond his control. The two meet while Scully is dying from cancer, and Bill rips into Mulder for all the things that have happened to his family that he sees as Mulder's fault. He asks Mulder if his quest was worth it and if he'd found what he was looking for, and when Mulder responds that he hadn't, Bill lables him a "sorry son-of-a-bitch".
Gut Feeling: His success as an investigator often comes from bizarre leaps of intuition that usually turn out to be correct. Frequently verges on Bat Deduction.
In-Series Nickname: In the Bureau, his nickname is "Spooky". He was so good at profiling criminals while in Quantico Academy that his ability felt spooky to other agents in training.
The Insomniac: A well-known insomniac. We almost never see him sleeping, and when we do, he's usually in the throes of a nightmare.
Last Name Basis: "I even made my parents call me Mulder," although that seems to be just something he tells Scully.
Manly Tears: Cried fairly frequently, almost as often as Scully cried in Seasons 1-7. Most often it had to do with his missing sister or something bad happening to Scully. He finally breaks down about his mother's death in Season 7 episode Closure.
This Loser Is You: Fox (the network, that is) liked this trope a lot during The Nineties. Mulder is rarely listened to, is generally mocked by friends and coworkers alike for his conspiracy theories and his passionate, often blind belief in the supernatural, uses phone sex lines, has a huge Porn Stash, and is honestly kind of a belligerent dick throughout most of the first season.
What the Hell, Hero?: He got this several times in the first four seasons ("Paper Hearts" is perhaps the best example), mostly from Scully and sometimes Skinner. After that he managed to get a better grip on his issues.
A forensic pathologist with a background in physics, she was assigned to work with Mulder ostensibly in order to use her scientific knowledge debunk his work; however, she was less predictable than the conspiracy had hoped.
Age Lift: Her given birth year is 1964, thus making Scully 4 years older than Gillian Anderson herself...
Improbable Age: ...and since the pilot is set in November 1992, that made her 28 at the show start. To make her a medical doctor with a specialty in forensic pathlogy, she would have had studied for 13 years, and add the two years at the FBI before being sent to Mulder's office, Scully's clearly too young.
Agent Mulder: Later in the series, she was accepting the paranormal explanations. Agent Doggett tried to scully her.
All Girls Want Bad Boys: Has an amazing talent for picking guys who turn out to be messed up in the head and often outright psycho. Mulder is probably the most stable person she's ever been with, and that's saying a lot.
Arbitrary Skepticism: Scully remains a hardcore skeptic long after she's seen shape-shifting aliens, watched Mulder be mind-controlled into things he'd never do on his own, etc. It's somewhat justified, though: later seasons tended to imply that Scully felt she had to take a more skeptical stance than she really believed anymore in order to keep Mulder's wacky ideas grounded.
Badass Bookworm: A fully qualified medical doctor and pathologist and forensic examiner. What's fine is that Mulder and Scully are sometimes actually shown doing research and reading.
The Chosen One: It's implied in many of the religiously-themed episodes that God has some sort of special task in mind for her, although exactly what she's called to do is never made clear. Unfortunately, this arc comes to a somewhat unsatisfactory end when she gives in to her anger and kills Donnie Pfaster, whom God had put in front of her as a test in "Orison".
Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Mulder isn't quite a Cloudcuckoolander in the usual sense (though he comes across that way to lots of people in-universe), but Scully has the traditional role of stopping him from doing stupid reckless things, putting together the actual evidence to support his weird leaps of intuition, explaining and defending his crazy ideas to other people, etc.
Combat Stilettos: She wears heels nearly all the time, no matter how much running and shooting she expects to need to do. When you're a five foot two FBI agent every inch probably helps.
The Coroner: Specialized in forensic pathology at med school, and thus is frequently doing autopsies in the investigated victims.
Crisis of Faith: Scully started the show as a non-practising Catholic. Part of her Character Arc involved her coming to terms with her faith and deciding she could pray and attend church regularly even if she didn't always agree with everything The Church said.
Deadly Bath: Both subverted ("Chinga" — the music builds, we're sure something creepy's going to happen, the phone rings and... it's Mulder, he's bored) and played straight ("Squeeze", "Irresistible").
Medical Rape and Impregnate: It's eventually implied that something along these lines (but involving alien tech and probably extraterrestrial DNA) happened to Scully during her abduction early in season 2.
Military Brat: Her father was in the Navy, as is her elder brother.
Ms. Fanservice: Downplayed. FOX was reluctant to cast Gillian Anderson as a lead, saying they wanted someone who'd look better in a swimsuit. Chris Carter informed them that Scully would not be wearing any swimsuits. However, Agent Scully was the only prominent female on the show and looked cute enough. Later as the series progressed, she had her fair share of more typically fanservicey moments.
My Biological Clock Is Ticking: Scully's abduction left her infertile. It's a source of angst for her. It's played much more subtly — and with good reason; he'd never be enough of a jerkass to actually bring it up, considering Scully's infertility — but Mulder is implied to be somewhat wistful about not being in a position to have kids too.
Violently Protective Girlfriend: Does not take kindly to anyone hurting her partner. She may be petite, but she's smart as a whip and has great aim. In "Beyond the Sea", after Mulder is shot:
Scully: This was a trap for Mulder because he helped put you away. Well, I came here to tell you that if he dies because of what you've done, four days from now, no-one will be able to stop me from being the one that will throw the switch and gas you out of this life for good, you son of a bitch!
The episode "Biogenesis" and the "Sixth Extinction" arc was Scully kicking ass because the Cigarette Smoking Man and Diana Fowley had caused Mulder's fatally unusual brain activity. The same happens in Season 8, even though she's pregnant at the time. This works in reverse, as well. Mulder and Scully are each other's Berserk Button.
The second movie has her bashing bad guys over the head with firewood to get to Mulder.
Well Done Daughter Gal: She would really, really like to hear her father approve of quitting medicine and joining the FBI, and praise her for good work.
Assistant Director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi)
Mulder and Scully's direct superior for most of the series. His motives were initially doubtful, but he later became a staunch, if irritable, ally.
Da Chief: He is more reserved than the classical archetype, but he fulfills the same function to Mulder and Scully: giving them 48 hours to solve a case, demanding them to turn in their weapons, wearing suspenders, and generally being a Reasonable Authority Figure whenever he is not being pressured by The Conspiracy.
A Day Inthe Limelight: Avatar, Zero Sum and S.R. 819 in earlier seasons. From Season 7 on Skinner became increasingly prominent, earning a starring credit in Season 9.
Hazy Feel Turn: It's always pretty clear that he's not a good guy, but he constantly switches between different bad guy factions, and his interests occasionally even coincide with those of Mulder and Scully, resulting in brief Enemy Mine situations.
Hellbent For Leather: Usually wears a leather jacket, though thanks to the beatings he often takes, it's rarely the same one from episode to episode.
The Mole: When he's introduced, although it doesn't last long before his cover's blown.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Obfuscating Incompetence. Pay close attention to his episodes and you'll realize he actually gets away with a lot more than he appears to. A perfect example would be "Tunguska", where he was the one who hired the Russian assassin who (temporarily) royally screwed up the Syndicate's plans.
Russian Guy Suffers Most: His parents were Cold War immigrants. (If he was being honest for once when he said that. He is fluent in Russian, though.)
The Starscream: He's had a few sneaky attempts at clawing his way to power, including his stint in charge at a Russian gulag, his recurring threats (and eventual attempt) to kill the Cigarette Smoking Man (and when that failed, attempting to ensure his place as CSM's successor) and manipulating Jeffrey Spender. You can practically see him waiting in the shadows, ready to seize power with both hands. Well, one hand anyway.
Tall, Dark and Handsome: A double agent and a dirty rat boy who charms and eventually betrays everyone must be fit and handsome to pull it all off. He has very dark eyes and black hair. Tall, dark, mysterious and very handsome.
Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: The psycho part is not obvious until "The Sixth Extinction", where she visits Mulder, who's confined in a psychiatric hospital and being Mind Raped by psychic influence from an alien artifact, and makes a speech that can be summed up as "I've always loved you, Fox, and now that you're in five-point restraints we can finally be together."
Romantic False Lead: Seemed to exist mainly for the purpose of teasing the fans and making Scully jealous. (Mulder gave little sign of still having anything but platonic feelings toward her, however, although she was clearly carrying a torch for him.)
Agent Jeffrey Spender (Chris Owens)
Assigned to the X-Files as Agent Fowley's partner when they replace Mulder and Scully on the X-Files at the beginning of season 6. Mulder's half-brother, fathered by the Cigarette Smoking Man.
Jerkass: He's put in charge of X-Files department, a department that Mulder rescued and gave his soul into the work. Spender just sits in his office and keeps destroying documents about prospective cases.
"Well Done, Son" Guy: Had this going for the Cigarette-Smoking Man, his biological father, of all people. Well, at least until he tried killing his mom.
Assistant Director (later Deputy Director) Alvin Kersh (James Pickens, Jr.)
Mulder and Scully's replacement supervisor after their reassignment from the X-Files division in Season 6, and later A.D Skinner's direct supervisor. To say that he is unsympathetic to Mulder and Scully's work in the X-Files is understating the matter.
Ambiguously Evil: It's often hard to tell whether he's obstructing Mulder and Scully because he's an active agent of the Conspiracy or whether he's obstructing Mulder and Scully because he's just an officious jerk and the Conspiracy find that useful. Or both.
Jerkass: It's rare for him to do anything that casts him in a particularly favourable or likeable light.
Jerkass Has a Point: He often has a point about Mulder and Scully's frequent and blatant disregarding of the rules and FBI procedure, including abandoning the cases they've been assigned to basically do their own thing. However, he's such a ball-busting jerk about it that it's hard to really side with him.
Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: His thick Brooklyn accent comes and goes, though considering that the character is supposed to be from Georgia by way of Brooklyn, an inconsistent accent would be in-character.
No First Name Given: Only his surname is known. Scully realizes she didn't know his first name after he died, although it was weird for her not to remember it as they were on friendly terms and he helped her and Mulder many times.
Agent Leyla Harrison (Jolie Jenkins)
Leyla Harrison worked in the FBI's accounting office, where she processed Mulder's and Scully's expense reports and thereby knew more about their activities than almost anyone. She briefly landed her dream assignment of actually working on the X-Files.The character was created as an homage to and named after a prominent Internet fan and Fan Fiction writer who passed away from cancer.
New Meat: She's been at the FBI for some time, but it's her first field work. She gets on Doggett's nerve quite a bit.
Tuckerization: She was named after a real person, in this case a devoted fan fic writer
The Lone Gunmen
An unlikely trio of conspiracy theorists who publish an underground newsletter called The Magic Bullet. Old friends of Mulder's, they occasionally show up to help out Mulder and Scully, usually by doing research (as well as providing comic relief).Late in the show's run, the Gunmen received their own short-lived spinoff series.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Charlie is seen only in season 1 at Captain Scully's funeral and as a boy in flashbacks. He is only mentioned, giving his love, sending presents or promising to call, but he never appeared personally for holidays or for family crises, e.g. when his sisters were dying.
Opening a Can of Clones: By the time the Truth about Samantha is finally revealed, so many fake Samanthas had appeared that both Mulder and the audience had nearly given up on ever figuring the whole thing out.
Token Good Teammate: Mulder's dad was a member of the Syndicate, but while he was far from a saint, he was the only member who voiced any objections to the really, really evil stuff the group was doing right from the start.
A mysterious and sinister group who essentially rule the world from behind the scenes. They're determined to conceal the existence of extraterrestrial life from humanity by any means necessary, but their motivation and ultimate goals remain unclear for much of the series.Despite the name, not actually an example of The Syndicate. The term is actually rarely used on the show, so you'll often see fans referring to them as "the Consortium" or just "the Conspiracy."
The Adjectival Man: Members are listed in the show's credits as "Black-Haired Man", "Crew Cut Man", and the like.
A Day in the Limelight: They play a much bigger role in Two Fathers and One Son than any of their other appearances.
Deal with the Devil: They conspired with the aliens. It meant they assassinated people looking into them, experimented on innocents, and generally had their own set of evil plots. Still, they were Well Intentioned Extremists rather than irredeemably evil.
Death by Pragmatism: They delayed an alien invasion by half a century, tried to buy time to resist, and failing that to save at least a small portion of humanity. It was the only rational course of action, but yet they were STILL portrayed as villains.
The closest thing the show has to a main villain, a constantly chain-smoking older man who likes to skulk around being ominous. He's clearly associated with the grand government conspiracy Mulder and Scully are trying to uncover, but little is known about what he's really up to for quite a while.
The Atoner: He claims to be one in "En Ami." Ultimately it's implied that while he might have some desire for redemption, it's only in the self-indulgent way where he doesn't want it enough to actually change.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: He's responsible for the assassination of at least one democratically elected world leader; the abduction, medical rape and torture of hundreds or thousands of individuals, and making sure the Buffalo Bills never win a Superbowl. Supposedly.
Ascended Extra: Was originally intended to be just a mysterious figure holding a cigarette. Fortunately the actor was able to rise to the occasion when his role expanded. Davis originally read for the larger (within the Pilot) role of an FBI bigwig (played by Ken Camroux), and received his throwaway role as consolation. One character became one of the show's main villains; the other appeared only in a handful of episodes.
Calling Card: A still-burning Morley cigarette on the ground or in an office ashtray will indicate he's been there very recently—these seem to be left intentionally by him to toy with or intimidate his opponents or send a message. In the episode "The End", the imprisoned failed assassin hired by the Syndicate receives a threatening message on a cut-out side of a Morley carton. Right before he gets shot by the guard, he receives another Morley carton side with no message on it. It is not certain that the prisoner recognized the calling card, but the viewer does.
The Dragon: His exact role in the Syndicate isn't clear, but it's implied he's outranked by Strughold, the Well-Manicured Man and the other elders. In this context, CSM's most frequently seen being chewed out for a security breach or botched cover-up operation.
Faux Affably Evil: He tries to pass himself off as Affably Evil, telling both Mulder and Scully that he likes them on more than one occasion. They never buy it.
Not So Different: His private life turned out to be not dissimilar from Mulder's. Sure, he's got unlimited reach (screw you, Bills!), but he can't use it to live openly or extravagantly, so he goes home to his cruddy apartment (with no wife or kids to greet him) and watches b-movies.
One Last Smoke: In the final episode, he takes one last drag, flicks away the butt, then calmly waits until he gets incinerated in an airstrike.
Unreliable Narrator: He lies as easily as most people breathe. We never find out how much of what we know about him is true, and ironically, it's implied that his fiction novel about "Jack Colquitt" — the version we see almost none of — is the most truthful account of his deeds.
A British gentleman who's one of the less overtly malevolent members of the conspiracy. His Code Name is never actually used in the show, but appears in the end credits (as with several other Syndicate members).
Pragmatic Villainy: Tells Scully in The Blessing Way that helps her more out of fear that the Smoking Man's recklessness will expose the conspiracy than any moral objection. Definitely open to interpretation though, as he seems genuinely disgusted by some of CSM's actions throughout the series.
Nigh-Invulnerability: We're told repeatedly he can be killed by piercing the base of his skull (which is how he kills other aliens), but in practice this never seems to work. At least until Season Eight, when Scully finally does him in.
Punch Clock Villain: Goes after only those victims which he is supposed to. Doesn't cause collateral damage unless he absolutely has to in which case he doesn't hold back.
Alien Blood: The Black Oil, which is actually their life blood, and at least once suggested to be the real Big Bad controlling the aliens.
Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: They reproduce through the Black Oil. After it invades a human body, it will produce an alien inside the person's body, which will eventually be ripped open when the alien wants out.
The Black Oil/The Purity
Bad Black Barf: Caused black liquid to come out of the mouth, nose and eyes of its victims.
Black Eyes of Evil: You can tell when a person's being controlled due to their eyes being either spotted or black.
A murderer on death row who claimed to be a psychic and claimed that he could help Mulder and Scully in catching a serial killer. Appeared in "Beyond the Sea".
The Atoner: At least some part of him feels remorse.
Death Row: He is a mass murderer whose previous experience on a Death Row triggered his psychic abilities. This time he's about to be executed once again and tries to gain a deal by saving two young people who were kidnapped.
A humanoid mutant with characteristics of invertebrate flatworm physiology. Created by radioactive waste, he/she/it (despite its name, it's actually a hermaphrodite) lurks within the waters of New Jersey's sewer systems. Known to bite humans with its scolex-like mouth and inject them with its own parasitic larval offspring. It's implied he can also reproduce asexually, as when a real flatworm is cut in half and develops into two separate organisms. Though it's possible that only one half of him survived getting chopped, and was able to regenerate itself.Flukeman only appeared in one episode, but became very famous with the fans and even causal viewers, and has been immortalized in the form of figurines, models, Pez dispensers, action figures, etc. Also was referenced several times in future episodes as a Running Gag.
Ambiguously Human: They never really explain whether he was a man who got turned into a flukeworm or a flukeworm who got turned into a man.
Which is a bit of a goof, since 1) it's based on a tapeworm scolex, and 2) scolexes aren't mouthparts, they go on the opposite end so the tapeworm can anchor itself to the intestinal wall and eat with the other end.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: At one point in the episode, the authorities want to try it as a suspect, and it's mentioned that there are plans to have it psychologically evaluated. Mulder reacts by insisting that it's not a human, but an instinctively vicious monster.
Duane Barry (Steve Railsback)
A former FBI agent who escapes from an insane asylum after claiming he was abducted by aliens. Appeared in "Duane Barry" and "Ascension".
I Love the Dead: He's a necrophiliac with a serious hair and nail fetish. "Irresistible" manages to be one of the creepier episodes, even with a completely mundane villain. Donnie's still highly creepy several years later in "Orison", when he escapes prison and comes after "the one who got away", namely Scully.
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: He changes his appearance several times, including into a demonic form. In Irresistible it appears his transformations are Scully's panicked delusions, but in Orison they're more strongly implied to be real.
Paedohunt: A disgusting child molester and who doesn't have a shred of remorse.
Psychic Link: Seems to have some kind of psychic link with Mulder due to which he can see his dreams and accordingly manipulate Mulder with it. Though as Scully suggests, it's also possible he just researched Mulder's background enough to mess around with him.
Taking You with Me: Tries to kill a child while held at gunpoint by Mulder, Scully and Skinner. Mulder gets him first.
Who Wants to Live Forever?: He documents violent crime as soon as it happens in the hope that he will see death and allow death to finally come for him because he is bored with living after two hundred years and wants to know what happens to people after they die.
Robert "Rob" Roberts (Chad Donella)
A young mutant who tried to resist his craving for human brain. Appeared in "Hungry".
Meat-O-Vision: Starts seeing other people's heads this way. Also inverted when he hallucinates that the hamburger patties he's cooking look like little brains.
Obsessed with Food: He is consumed with eating people. He tries to control it by going to Overeaters Anonymous, but ends up killing & eating his landlady (who he bonded with when he discovered she was also in OA).
Stages of Monster Grief: He viewed his compulsion to eat meat (i.e., human brains) as an addiction, and went to Overeaters Anonymous. He bonded with another attendee, his downstairs neighbor... but eventually he ate her brain. Goes through 1-3.