These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
And You Thought It Would Fail: A barely-known creator and male protagonist, along with a complete unknown actress, plus a premise that could alienate people given the Sci-Fi Ghetto. Fox even put the show right after The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. feeling that would be the hit, and The X-Files would get the residual audience... when Brisco County Jr struggled with falling ratings and didn't get renewed, and The X-Files only improved its audience within S1 and eventually lasted for 9 seasons.
Anvilicious: "The Sixth Extinction (Part 2) - Amor Fati" really goes nuts with the Mulder-is-Jesus subtext. At one point, Mulder is strapped to a cross-shaped operating table clad in nothing but a loincloth with some sort of brain-scanning device on his head that looks eerily like a crown of thorns, whilst the Smoking Man is babbling on about the sacrifice Mulder's making for the world and how wonderful it is that he's dying for everyone.
Archive Panic: With nine seasons of twenty-odd episodes each, it takes a long time to get through the series if you're starting from the very beginning.
Award Snub: Averted with Gillian Anderson, who won just about every award on the block for her work as Scully. However, while the series did do extremely well at the Emmys and Golden Globes, it never could win Best Drama Series from the former, despite taking it from the Globes on 3 occasions. Could be attributed to a case of Sci-Fi Ghetto.
Averted for several years. This was one of the first television shows to be sold on DVD, and so distributors didn't know what the price points should be. For many years the DVD seasons were priced over $100 each.
Played straight later. A season is about $15, if you know where to go. (Others keep it priced at $40 a season.) It actually is Better on DVD if you want to avoid Continuity Lockout in terms of the Myth Arc — especially because of all the double and triple episodes, some of which were even spread over two seasons.
At this point, both movies and all 9 seasons are on Netflix. Go crazy.
Creator's Pet: Doggett's detractors accuse him of being one of these — the writers seemed determined to have him save the day as often as possible when he first appeared, even if it required making Scully uncharacteristically weak or stupid. Confirmed according to The Other Wiki. Apparently, Carter was obsessed with making much of the 8th season about Doggett. This upset David Duchovny who then asked to get to write and direct an episode revolving around Mulder's abduction. Chris Carter then rejected this idea because it "wasn't about Doggett".
Even funnier, pituitary melanocyte-stimulating hormone is not responsible for the baseline skin tones of humans. He'd have been better off attacking Caucasians with obvious suntans, or people with Addison's disease. So in other words, the monster just might be racist.
The memory of the excellent early years was sullied not long after the movie came out. Its final three seasons were widely ill-received, leading up to an embarrassing and frustrating case of No Ending that, to many fans, showed that the writers had no clue what they were doing and were making things up as they went along.
The War on Terror and the swing of the country's mood back to extreme patriotism after 9-11 also helped kill it (and was probably a big factor in why The Lone Gunmen spin-off was quickly shelved). Cynical portrayals of government usually aren't popular in wartime. This is, however:
Averted for some fans. The show is still fondly remembered as a ground-breaking piece of television story-telling, and moreover, many fans keep watching the show in the re-runs or on the DVD, they write fresh "retro" reviews, and they hope that the third movie will be made. And they want to believe that The X-Files will resurface as great as they remember. The earlier seasons also continue to gain new fans, many of whom were too young to have seen it during its run (just check the X-Files tag on Tumblr).
Thanks in part to Kumail Nanjiani's "The X-File Files" Podcast, it's been pointed out that the series could be coming back into relevance. In an age post-War on Terror, where the actions of the Bush administration (and subsequently, the NSA Scandal that took place under Obama's tenure) have led to a further distrust of the government among the American people. In this age, a show with a distrustful eye toward high-ranking governmental figures is much more welcome.
Draco in Leather Pants: Krycek. No matter how many times he tried to kill Mulder and Scully and how horrible deeds he committed, some fans still root for him and think he's the force for the good, very much like the agents.
Dry Docking: Why do you think people were so happy that Mulder and Scully held out for so long?
A meta-example among the cast and crew: Darin Morgan, who played the flukeman in "The Host", went on to write some of the smartest and funniest episodes of the series, gaining a personal fanbase over the course of the series and playing a more recognizably human Monster of the Week in "Small Potatoes".
The flukeman itself is an Ensemble Darkhorse, being one of the most popular and well-remembered monsters that Mulder and Scully have encountered. Many fans are disappointed that the Sequel Hook ending it's episode had was never followed up.
Skinner is a great example. For some people, him just showing up in the second movie was the best thing about it.
The Lone Gunmen. A trio of conspiracy theorists and nerdy friends of Mulder's were welcome additions to the show from their very first appearance.
Eugene Victor Tooms distinguished himself as one of the series' most popular Monster of the Week, even being one of the few to appear in more than one episode.
Mrs Scully, definitely. Sheila Larken's performance was always a joy to watch. Only one thing - pity that Mrs Scully usually showed up only for a family crisis and thus was seen to suffer a lot.
Agent Pendrell. Amazing that he managed to become a fans' favourite with so little number of occurrences.
Fan-Disliked Explanation: The ultimate reveal of Samantha's fate. Mulder was tormented by her clones and doubles and statements that she's still alive. It was finally revealed that she had been abducted by the conspiracy who had collaborated with the aliens, we learnt that horrible tests had been performed on her and then she had lived with the Cancer Man's family. So far so good — fans always suspected something like this. However, when she was 14, she was "saved" by fairies or angels that made her body disappear, meaning that her corpse will never be found, but Mulder did see her ghost.
Fanon Discontinuity: One of the reasons for the whole Broken Base mess alluded to above. People differ on where they put the cutoff, but if you want a calm friendly discussion about the show it's safest to avoid bringing up seasons 8 and 9.
The specific episode that gets this the most is probably "Jump The Shark", which drops a bridge on the Lone Gunmen. Fans everywhere declared that Fletcher was lying through his teeth and it's considered one of the worst episodes of the series. Apparently the creators weren't veryfond of it either as the comic continuation retcons the Lone Gunmen's deaths away with a Hand Wave.
Strangely inverted with "Musings Of A Cigarette Smoking Man"; Word of God says that it's not canon or is pseudocanon (that is, parts of it definitely happened but other parts didn't) but many fans take it as canon since it gives a lot of backstory and characterization to the Cigarette-Smoking Man.
Mulder and Krycek, full stop. Krycek is something of a Foe Yay whore, really. He has chemistry with practically everyone, but it's most obvious with Mulder.
Barnett and Mulder in "Young at Heart". Let's review: Barnett is a mass murderer who literally gets off on the suffering of his victims, is stalking and playing freaky mind games with Mulder... and in the flashback to the trial we see him mouth "I'll. Get. You." to Mulder right before BLOWING HIM A KISS.
"Fresh Bones" has an Army Colonel administering a Haitian refugee camp say: "We're soldiers, not prison guards. And we're being asked to police a hostile population of foreigners without the resources to feed or house them." Hard for a contemporary viewer not to think of Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo.
"Dreamland Part Two" reveals that Saddam Hussein is a character created by the government for whenever they need someone to do some saber rattling.
Mulder and Krycek. Foe Yay after Krycek is revealed to be a double agent.
Mulder and Skinner.
Mulder in general is... very comfortable with his masculinity. In the season 2 episode "Humbug":
Mr. Nutt: Just because I'm not of so-called average height does not mean I must receive my thrills vicariously. Not all women are attracted to overly tall, lanky men such as yourself. You'd be surprised how many women find my size intriguingly alluring. Mulder: You'd be surprised how many men do as well.
If you're in a Les Yay mood, the two girls in "Syzygy" are... close.
The Greys, who used to be a kind and peaceful race until they were corrupted and twisted into monsters by the Black Oil.
The Cigarette Smoking Man in "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man", if the events are to be believed. He assassinated JFK and Dr. King, is powerful enough to get personal calls from Saddam Hussein (and leave him on hold), influenced the "Miracle on Ice" at the 1980 Winter Olympics, and then leaves a Christmastime meeting to write about this about his Author Avatar: "Jack Colquitt sat alone in his apartment at Christmas. He believed in sacrifice. Yet, some nights, he longed for a second chance...".
The theme song. Wah-wah-wah-wah-WAH-wah (Deedledeedledeedle) Wah-wah-wah-wah-WAH-wah (Deedledeedee) WAH-wah-wah-wah-WAH.note Humming, playing or whistling the melody indicates that something paranormal or at least something very weird is going on.
The truth is out there. note It was the main message appearing at the end of the opening credits. Represents the constant search for what exactly is going on.
Trust no one. note The season 1 finale changed the tag line in the opening credits for the first time from 'The truth is out there' to 'Trust no one', and Mulder's first Mysterious Informant Deep Throat told him the phrase as his dying words. It kept resurfacing from time to time.
... bleeping dead alien. note In "Jose Chung's From Outer Space", one of the detectives curses like a sailor, which they can't show in the "Rashomon"-Style episode. So he apparently says "bleep" a lot. Both Mulder and Scully quote the detective in phrases ending with "bleeping dead alien".
It was fans of the show who invented the term "Shipping", as a way of labeling the fans who wanted Mulder and Scully to get together (shippers) and the ones who didn't (noromos).
Season 1's "Ice" is about a parasitic alien that caused its victims to turn psychopathic and eventually die in an isolated Antarctic reserve. Season 2 has the similar "Firewalker". It's pretty easy to guess the difference. In fact, doesn't the synopsis to "Ice" sound familiar? (Word of God states it was on purpose, though; they wanted to make an homage to Carpenter's movie.)
"Squeeze" and "Tooms" featured a liver-eating mutant. "2Shy" featured a fat-eating mutant. "Teliko" featured a melanin-eating mutant. (The latter's villain could even replicate Eugene Tooms' tricking of squeezing into tiny places.) At least "Hungry", featuring a brain-eating mutant, presented the story from the monster's point-of-view.
Replacement Scrappy: Both Doggett and Reyes are seen this way by many fans. Doggett got less of it, mostly due to Robert Patrick's performance. The chemistry this pair of agents had couldn't compare to the epic levels which Mulder and Scully had.
Probably the most notable is Bryan Cranston in "Drive". Vince Gilligan, who wrote the episode, claims his performance in that episode is what inspired him to cast Cranston in his Star-Making Role in Breaking Bad. Funnily enough, Bryan would later be in a movie called Drive.
Literally three years before the first season, David Duchovny had a recurring role as a cross-dressing FBI agent on Twin Peaks.
The Scrappy: Diana Fowley, AKA The Fowl One, was loathed by a vast majority of fans. She was not meant to be likeable, but she was hated even more than the writers anticipated. She was assigned to the X-Files cases when Mulder and Scully were Reassigned to Antarctica and she soon revealed herself as a rat collaborating with The Conspiracy. Moreover, she was forced as a Romantic False Lead and Old Flame to Mulder, so naturally especially shippers hated her. Her final deeds and death redeemed her a little, but there was hardly a fan who shed a tear for her.
Seasonal Rot: You'll rarely find someone who thinks the show's entire run was worth watching. Most place the rot creeping in around season 7 and in full force for the last two seasons; some argue a downhill trajectory was noticeable earlier, at the beginning of season 6; a few claim it started as early as season 3. (Oddly enough, however, most "worst episode" lists tend to draw heavily from the first two seasons.) Here's a fan's take on it.◊
Special Effect Failure: Lots of 'em, especially in the first three seasons or so, when the show had little budget to speak of.
The swarm of bugs in "Darkness Falls". It's painfully obvious that the bugs are just random dots that move around. When the swarm "moves", it looks like the bugs are confined by a flat surface in the direction of motion.
The age-makeup in "Død Kalm". Especially if you compare it to the awesome make-up of victims of an unknown disease a few episodes later.
Scully: Oh my God, Mulder, it smells like... I think it's bile. Mulder: Is there any way I can get it off my fingers quickly without betraying my cool exterior?
"F. Emasculata" is the squickiest squick that ever squicked. Two Words: Bursting pustules.
"Sanguinarium". It may as well be considered the A Serbian Film of the series. A woman vomiting up a bunch of bloody needles is one of the less disgusting things that happens.
"Leonard Betts": The processing unit at the hospital was gad enough, but a monster who actually eats tumours?
Stoic Woobie: Scully. The more upset she is, the more she'll insist that she's fine.
Take That, Scrappy!: Doggett gets one in his very first scene, when Scully angrily throws water in his face. Chris Carter has said that he knew replacing Mulder with Doggett wouldn't be a very popular move, so instead of Character Shilling, he gave fans what they wanted right off the bat.
Technology Marches On: Most of the computer-y episodes, but the trope is most prevalent in "2Shy", which features floppies, chatrooms and proper online grammar.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Ask ten different X-Files fans and you're likely to get ten different answers about when, exactly, the show started to suck.
Most will agree that Seasons 8 and 9, after Duchovny left, were awful.
Bits of 8 were better received than 9, due to the most obvious consequences of The Chris Carter Effect. The 'Scully's baby' plotline was loathed by many, but the Monster of the Week episodes tended to fare better in the ratings and reception.
There are voices claiming that only early seasons were worthy of watching. The extreme cases claim only season 1 and 2 were good.
There are also those that cite season 6 as the start of the decline due to the move from Vancouver to Los Angeles, claiming that the often dreary northwest weather enhanced the quality of the show, in contrast to bright and sunny Hollywood.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: At the end of The X-Files: Fight the Future, Scully mentions that the virus she was exposed to has a cure: the mysterious vaccine. Trying to retrieve the Well-Manicured Man's research or developing the vaccine at the labs of the Bureau would make for a great story arc. Some people kept enjoying season 6, but more of serious and darker episodes would have been welcome, and the Myth Arc had visibly less screen time, which disappointed some fans.
Anytime a Monster of the Week episode ends with a Sequel Hook (such as "The Host" where the last few minutes reveal that the flukeman survived it's fight with Mulder) that is never followed up on.
Too Cool to Live: Deep Throat. Awesomely subverted with the Lone Gunmen thanks to the comic continuation.
Poor, poor Max Fenig. His abductions give him seizures and generally, his life is only suffering.
Lanny in "Humbug", largely due to the performance of the late Vincent Schiavelli.
And of course Mulder and Scully themselves; especially Mulder given his deeply tragic backstory and motives.
Yoko Oh No: Tea Leoni, whose film career Duchovny tried to support by moving the franchise to Los Angeles, which some fans considered its Jump the Shark moment. Not helped by the fact that he only stayed on two seasons more after the move anyway.