Monster of the Week: The complete cartoon X-Files is a webcomic by Shaenon K. Garrity that started in June 2012 and chronicles The X-Files, episode by episode. Every Friday, a new episode is presented in the form of a neat, black-and-white twelve-panel cartoon.
Long story short, it's The Abridged Series of The X-Files in the form of a webcomic. Of course, some changes were inevitable. Monster of the Week doesn't take itself seriously, throws away multiple plots from the series, Mulder is a Genki Guy, and characters lean on or outright break the fourth wall.
The comic went on hiatus in June 2014 after concluding season four of The X-Files. It briefly came out of hiatus as of February 2016 to recap the 2016 miniseries, and again in February 2018 to recap season 5 (as a side reward for kickstarting a reprint of her original comic, Narbonic), and October 2020 to recap season 6 (as a side reward for kickstarting the ninth print volume of her original comic Skin Horse).
Tropes in this webcomic are (among others):
- Aborted Arc: Subverted. Whenever Scully notes that the season arc seems to have disappeared, it pops up again.
- The Abridged Series: Of The X-Files
- Actor Allusion: Quite often the author points out through caption or The Rant that a particular guest actor appearing in one episode became famous later. It's pretty uncanny to see how long is that list. Lampshaded in The Rant in Soft Light:The X-Files has so many before-they-were-stars moments.
- Affectionate Parody: As much as the webcomic mocks The X-Files, it's still abundantly clear that Garrity absolutely loves the series as evidenced through the numerous injokes and moments of praise.
- A Good Name for a Rock Band: SKINNER'S FIST. Additionally, the first album should be titled "Shirtless Edition".
- All According to Plan: Discussed:Sexy informant: My triple-dog agenting against Skinner went according to plan, sir.Cancer Man: You don't know the plan.Sexy informant: Eh, everything always turns out to be according to plan.
- And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt: There's are these little gems in Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man: Cancer Man expy gets a t-shirt with "I saved goddam democracy and all I got was this T-shirt" and Mulder expy gets a t-shirt with "I joined the conspiracy and all I got was this T-shirt" written on them.
- And Now For Something Completely Different: Many times the author changes the formula from abridging episodes to something else:
- Jersey Devil, in which the author, underwhelmed at how easy the namesake creature was to kill, proceeds to reimagine the plot. It involves Batman riding the Jersey Devil like a Flying Mount.
- Firewalker, in which the author questions the scientific accuracy of the killer fungi, and invites a Mycologist to debunk it, but he eventually gets so annoying that Mulder and Scully proceed to throw him at a pit of the (now debunked) killer fungi.
- Excelsis Dei, which is presented as an instructional video to create awareness on the difficult subject of ghost rape.
- Aubrey, in which due to the participation of actor Terry O'Quinn, who would play Locke on Lost years later, the strip then turns into a Whatif Crossover of how several other Lost characters would act if they were in the episode.
- Irresistible and Die Hand Die Verlezt, which are a list of the ten top reasons why their respective monsters of the week(Donnie Pfaster and Mrs. Paddock) are so creepy.
- Fearful Symmetry, in which aliens explain their plans to abduct zoo animals and turn them invisible, for the lulz.
- Humbug, which is presented as a list of carnival attractions, in reference to the Circus of Fear involved in the episode.
- F.Emasculata, which is a series of tips to prevent another outbreak like the one that happened in this episode. Which are actually only two tips: don't lean in close to stuff covered in giant pulsating boils and listen to the CDC and not any evil impersonators of the CDC that may show up instead.
- D.P.O and Small Potatoes, in which the author recognizes these episodes as her Guilty Pleasure and goes on to list the many reasons for this.
- Hell Money, which is a list of the inaccuracies of the episode's portrayal of San Francisco, being the actual living place of the author.
- Jose Chung's "From Outer Space" which is a series of one-shot panels drawn by different artists, lampshading the many ways in which the episode intentionally makes no sense.
- It also mimics the differing artwork of the "Big Book of Conspiracies," as Jose Chung itself is a patchwork combination of various UFO conspiracy theories found in that book.
- Home, in which the author purposely changes the strip to a story of her husband and she watching the episode, due to how dark the plot is to properly satirize.
- Mulder And Scully Meet The Were-Monster, which offers an explanation for Guy Mann being dressed like Kolchak - by suggesting that the murder victim he stole clothes from was Kolchak himself.
- Babylon, which is mostly about the dying terrorist character breaking the fourth wall to complain about the portrayal of Muslim culture in the episode. The ending is then reimagined with the Muslim guy leaving Mulder in order to have a dance party with the Lone Gunmen.
- Monday, which is designed In the Style of... a "Choose Your Own Adventure" story through its panel layout instead of serving as a "normal" comic.
- The Unnatural, which mostly consists of Shannon informally talking about her love for the episode and how David Duchovny is actually a genius with a master's degree from Yale.
- And Then What?: After capturing Flukeman in The Host, Scully asks what they would do with it. Cue Beat Panel.
- Animated Actors: Played with (inverted?). Scully and Mulder repeatedly refer to their actors, usually when giving an explanation why they can't join in on an adventure. However, they always refer to their actors as separate people while doing so, and seem to go on vacation while they're missing, rather than whatever their actor was actually doing.
- Art Shift: In Jose Chung's "From Outer Space" every panel is in different art style. They were contributed by multiple webcomic artists.
- Asshole Victim: All of the victims in Shapes. It's even lampshaded:Scully: You know, the werewolf was the only one who wasn't a dick to us.
- Similarly, all of the victims in Kaddish are Neo-Nazis, and so both Mulder & Scully don't mind the fact that they didn't really do anything in this episode.
- Author Avatar: Shaenon appears many times in the comic to state her opinion on the episode or for fourth wall breaking jokes. She also resembles Helen from one of her other comics, Narbonic. Her husband Andrew also has an avatar, but his appearances are far fewer than Shaenon's.
- Author Filibuster: Small Potatoes, instead of abridging the episode, is the author telling us her feelings about it.
- Audience Surrogate: Scully is this for the author. Lampshaded in Beyond the Sea:Andrew: You just identify with Scully.Shaenon: Do not!(beat panel)Shaenon: ...Do you think I should dye my hair red?Andrew: Yes.
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Scully and Mulder have a few moments. Of course, they immediately notice that this is going to inspire fanfiction.
- Became Their Own Antithesis: Lampshaded in the first panel of Season 5 lone gunmen Backstory episode Unusual Suspects, where Byers introduces himself as being the exact opposite character of how he had been know previously in the series, only to become his current self by the end of the episode(which may or may not have been caused by the crazy gas that causes paranoid delusion):Byers: Boy, I love being a loyal government employee with no paranoid beliefs whatsoever!
- Big Bad: Cancer Man a.k.a. the Cigarette-Smoking Man.
- Big "NO!": Scully after flirty science guy gets shot:Scully: NOOOOO! Whose romantic advances will I politely rebuff now?
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: A result of Mulder and Scully's argument:Scully: Mutants!
Both: Mutant Aliens!
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: The author, Mulder and Scully all speak to the audience sometimes.
- Brick Joke: In Beyond the sea, Shaenon asks her husband whether she should dye her hair red. A few months later, she admits in the rant that she did so.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Heroic variant in Kitsunegari, where it is lampshaded that Mulder can't recognize a returning villain from a previous episode:Scully: Mulder! Your nemesis escaped and is coming after you!
Mulder: Which one? I have too many nemeses.
- But Thou Must!: As reflecting the episode's Bittersweet Ending, the strip for Monday gives no option to access the Golden Ending (the "Groundhog Day" Loop being broken and Mulder & Scully taking Pam out for ice cream) in its "choose your own adventure" structure, with Pam's only options being to either perform a Heroic Sacrifice (Taking the Bullet for Mulder, thus breaking the time loop) or let the bank get blown up by her crazy boyfriend Bernard.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Doctor Evil in Memento Mori.
- Cartwright Curse: Flirty Science Guy dies a few panels after being flirty with Scully, prompting her Big "NO!".
- Chekhov's Gunman: The Lone Gunmen, Krycek and the abduction victims from Season 2 all appear later.
- Cliffhanger: All over the place. Almost one in five episodes end with a cliffhanger.
Shaenon: What? What happens next?
- Especially lampshaded in the Season 10 finale, with Shaenon expressing her frustration in a fourth wall breaking joke, in which an alien is reading the chapter to her as a bedtime story:
Alien: That's it. That's the end of the show.
Shaenon: You're reading it wrong! Who gets the conspiracy? Is it Samantha? Who?!
Alien: Nobody gets the Conspiracy. It lives. Go to sleep.
Shaenon: Jesus, X-Files.
- Clone Army: Multiple Samanthas and Good Clones from Memento Mori.
- The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: Mulder is always right about the supernatural/paranormal explanations of their cases, up to the point when it just bores Scully.
- Comically Missing the Point: In Wetwired, after Paranoid!Scully suggests that Mulder should show the chip he wound in a cable box to "[his] cigarette-smoking friends", where does he go?Mulder: (meeting with the Lone Gunmen) Do any of you guys smoke?Langly: Ask your mom.
- Continuity Nod: Upon finding the premise of the Kaddish episode (racial minority) Scully immediately remembers previous "racial minority" episodes (one with melanine vampires) and notes they don't have a very good track record of dealing with such cases (the vampires episode wasn't exactly sensible).
- Damsel in Distress: Scully, more often than she'd like to.Caption: Time for: Scully in peril!
- A Day in the Limelight: Avatar is one for Skinner, although this doesn't end well. Same thing with Zero Sum.
- Deadpan Snarker: Scully.
- Deliberately Monochrome: Inverted in The Post-Modern Prometheus (recapping the episode which played this trope straight), which is the first fully colored strip in an otherwise black and white comic.
- Deus ex Machina: Invoked and Lampshaded for Mulder's survival of the season 2 finale cliffhanger at the beginning of Season 3, where he's brought back from the dead by mystic Navajos:Navajo Man: Though there is no plausible way the FBI man could be alive, my dreams warn me of a Deus Ex Machina. For generations my people have been convenient plot devices.
- Downer Ending: Only Soft Light had one so far.
- Dude, Not Funny!: The author states in The Rant that writing Oubliette (the Season 4 episode with the kidnapped girl) was especially hard, because she can't see any way to make kidnapping less than horrifying.
- Either/Or Title: Each episode is given a title by template "[original X-Files episode title], or [author's joke title]".
- Expansion Pack Past: Lampshaded when The Unusual Suspects inexplicably portrays Young FBI Agent Mulder as not believing in conspiracies. It's pointed out to him that he joined the FBI because he believed in conspiracies, and he replies that it's really hard to keep track of this stuff.
- Failed a Spot Check: Mulder and Scully do it repeatedly. Suprisingly, it's rarely lampshaded.
- Failure Hero: Mulder and Scully only solve the episode's conflict about a third of the time, if that. They generally end up letting enough people die that they have to close the case. They even have a catchphrase for when they are particularly ineffective (see Running Gag below). Of course, being an abridged series this is all Played for Laughs.
- Fanservice: Mulder provides some examples, as well as Skinner, once:Caption: SKINNER'S FIST!!! (shirtless edition)
- Fantastically Indifferent: Citizens of the Bay Area, as described by author:On the other hand, Colma's on the BARTnote line, and robed figures in masks toting corpses would be unlikely to inspire comment.
- Fond Memories That Could Have Been: Spoofed in the recap of Founder's Mutation. Scully wants to have a sideflashback about her missing part-alien son. Next panel has her and William skipping hand in hand, and the panel's heading reads "Impossibly idyllic child-rearing fantasy". The last panel portrays Mulder and William watching a movie, Mulder calling William "fantasy son" and Scully his "fantasy mom".
- In Fallen Angel, about the Lone Gunmen becoming recurring characters:Scully: I hope you learned a lesson about the responsibility of owning your own conspiracy nut.
Mulder: Yeah. Next time I'll get at least three.
- In Leonard Betts, about Scully getting cancer:Leonard Betts: I'm sorry but you've got something I need.
Scully: Wait, what? What did that mean?.note
- In Fallen Angel, about the Lone Gunmen becoming recurring characters:
- For the Lulz: Aliens' motivations as explained in Fearful Symmetry.
- Funny Background Event: In Little Green Men, when Mulder talks with the Senator, there's a picture of the Senator shaking hands with an alien hanging in the background.
- It gets revisited in the first episode of Season 10 - My Struggle - where in the first panel with a picture in the background of Scully with an alien doing the bunny ears on her.
- Genki Guy: Mulder, full stop. He does it almost once every episode.
- Genre Savvy: Scully, and Mulder to a lesser extent.
- Girlfriend in Canada: Pheobe Green from the episode "Fire" is introduced by Mulder saying "Hey, Scully. Remember how I told you I did so have a girlfriend but she lives in England and you wouldn't know her?"
- Jump Scare: Much like the episode it's based on, War of the Coprophages has a cockroach walk across the strip. As in, the strip is actually a GIF and it happens without any prompting.
- Joker Immunity: Lampshaded for Cancer Man in One Breath:Mulder: Found you, Cancer Man!Cancer Man: You can't kill me. I'm the best villain.Mulder: True. I'll go yell at Skinner instead.
- Killer Rabbit: Kitten in Teso dos Bichos, although they're not very killer.
- Klaatu Barada Nikto: When Mrs Paddock set up her... chapel-thing in Die Hand die Verletzt, she wrote it under the pentagram, along with 666, Cthulu reference and "I *heart* evil".
- Lampshade Hanging: Everywhere. Scully does it most often.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Often.Mulder: These migrant workers are killed by our grossest special effect yet.
- Magical Native American: Lampshaded in The Blessing Way, or Crap Goes Down Part II: Indians Are Magic.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Parodied at the end of Avatar:Mulder: So who was that old lady?Skinner: None of your business, agents.Mulder: I think she was the ghosts of Vietnam.Scully: I think she was Mulder's mom.
- Medium Awareness: Very common, with Mulder and Scully usually being the ones to break the fourth wall and recognize that they're in a television series.Mulder: Are you even aware you're in a TV show?
- The Mole: Krycek for Cancer Man.
- Multiple Endings: After failing their El Chupacabra assignment, Mulder and Scully give Skinner two alternative endings to their report: "Alien Abduction Ending" and "Chupacabra Bros Ending". Skinner finds this to all be "sexy, sexy nonsense."
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Lampshaded in The Field Where I Died:Scully: Are those Gregorian chants on the soundtrack? My people [Catholics] refuse to take responsibility for this particular religious abuse!
- OOC Is Serious Business: Lampshaded in Unrequited.Mulder: ...So the government put us in charge of protecting those generals cause it knew we'd fail!Skinner: Impossible!Mulder: Isn't it suspicious that they gave us a real FBI job?Scully: He's got a point, sir.Skinner: Hmmm.
- Opening a Can of Clones: Who's the real Samantha?
- Perspective Flip: Fearful Symmetry is told from the perspective of aliens.
- Power Perversion Potential: Lampshaded in Kaddish; after learning that the episode's golem was meant as a Replacement Goldfish for the main character's husband, Mulder is too Squicked out to ask if the golem was able to do... "other things" with her.
- The Rant: There's one under every strip where the author is talking a bit about her feelings towards an episode she's currently abridging.
- Real Life Writes the Plot:
- Lampshaded in Sleepless as the reason for Mulder to temporarily get a new companion (Krycek):Scully: Sorry Mulder, I can't fight any crimes or be shot from the waist down until Gillian Anderson pops out her baby.
- For the comic itself, Shaenon went on hiatus the first time due to also being pregnant.
- Lampshaded in Sleepless as the reason for Mulder to temporarily get a new companion (Krycek):
- Recap Episode: Each season ends with recap strip, where single frames from each of the season's strip are combined into one.
- Ripped from the Headlines:
Mulder: Man, how'd we get roped into raiding a suspiciously Waco-like cult?Scully: I hate missions ripped from the nation's headlines.
- Lampshaded for The Field Where I Died:
- Dude, Not Funny! fashion, in the Season 10 episode Babylon, where the dying Muslim character complains about the portrayal of Muslim characters in the episode as terrorists, and Mulder retorts invoking this trope. Also used, in a
- Red Shirt: There's a lot of those, but it's especially lampshaded in Ice, when, upon hearing what their newest mission is about, Scully decides to collect a bunch of "some redshirts to get killed ahead of us". Those are: "Cynical hard-bitten pilot!", "Wacky scientist who's quirks will be missed!", "Suspicious guy who will probably turn on everyone!" and "A woman!"
- Also, Flirty Science Guy.
- Rule of Cool:Mulder: I don't think we're dealing with a zombie. We're dealing with a golem. (beat) Because it's cooler.
- Running Gag:
- Scully in peril!
- "So...even by our usual low standards, we completely failed."
- "Oh God, don't make me say [something] vampire."
- The screenwriters of the series being drawn as grey aliens.
- SKINNER'S FIST!!!
- The rainy pine forests of [place of current episode].note
- note Mulder and Cancer Man being B.F.Fs.
- Shaenon freaking out whenever the black oil makes an appearance.
- And of course, MULDER IS RIGHT!
- Russian Reversal: ''Tunguska, or In Russia, Oil Lightly Seasons YOU".
- Russian Guy Suffers Most:
- Two prominent examples in the two parter in which Mulder and Krycek go to Russia:
- In Tunguska Mulder and Krycek are captured by russians after a horseback chase and then sent to a gulag. The author states her opinion about this in The Rant:Shaenon: The Russians chasing Mulder and Krycek with horsewhips may seem over the top, but literally the same thing happened to Pussy Riot. So, you know, Russia.
- In Terma, the Russian prisoners method to prevent black oil infection are over the top even for Krycek:Russian Prisoner: We came up with a way to escape the Black Oil inoculations stranger. CUT OFF OUR INOCULATION ARM.
Krycek: Wow. That is really... Russian.
- Seen It All: Mulder's attitude in Unrequited:Scully: So what, we're dealing with a vet[eran] who kills invisibly through Mind Control?Mulder: Nah, that already happened in Season 2.Scully: A vet who kills invisibly through psychic projection?Mulder: (smugly) Season 3, Scully.
- Shout-Out: To Thunderbolts, Face/Off, Crime and Punishment, Rambo, Reanimator and An American Werewolf in London among others. Scully seems particularly pop culture-savvy, even if pop culture in question wasn't there when show is supposedly taking place.
- Skewed Priorities: When Mulder discovers that he is now seeing the "kill" messages in Blood (after Scully shoots down his idea that the LSD-spraying program is involvednote ), how does he react?Mulder: (with crazy eyes, pumps fist) Yes! I'm crazy! My theory holds!
- Smart People Wear Glasses: In his first shot Mulder is seen wearing glasses, helpfully pointed at and signed "smart glasses".
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Season 10 Agents Miller and Einstein are basically younger versions of Mulder and Scully. Lampshaded in Season 10's last chapter My Struggle II:Scully: The world's ending and Mulder's run off again!. Good thing we acquired Muppet Babies versions of ourselves this season.note
- Take That!:
- In The Rant for Zero Sum, Shannon mocks anti-vaxxers and complains about them inadvertently trying to bring back smallpox through their stupidity.
- Redux ends with one to Season 10.Scully: Well, this mission was overstuffed with exposition and backstory to the point of incoherence.
Mulder: I know! Don't you wish we could have a whole reboot like this?
(Scully promptly gives Mulder a Dope Slap)
- After recapping Season 4, quick jabs are made at the Season 5 episodes Chinga and Kill Switch with this remark:
- The Internet Is for Porn: Discussed in the Season 5 episode Kill Switch as the one overriding advantage uploading your mind into the nascent nineties internet has.Mulder: Imagine what those hackers will experience in cyberspace.
Scully: It's the 90's. They can only do so much with a T3 line and access to Geocities.
Mulder: But the porn, Scully! The porn!
- The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: In Hell Money the author (a citizen of San Francisco, where the action takes place) proceeds to point out the many differences between the X-Files version of city and real one... and then, in the end, states that they got one thing right.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The author stated in-universe that she considers the shapeshifter episode in season one a missed opportunity.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Scully barely makes it four panels before realizing just how stupid Space is going to be.Mulder: Aw, play along.Scully: I'm sorry... I just don't even...
- This is also Scully's reaction in the Season 5 episode Kill Switch, when she founds out they'll be teaming up with the other kind of fictional hacker:Hacker Girl: Hey normies.
Scully: Oh God.
Hacker Girl: I'm Invisigoth.
Caption: For reals!
Scully: Oh God.
- Played for Laughs in the Season 6 episode Triangle:Scully: Skinner, the day we always feared has come.
Skinner: Christ, [Mulder] finally went to the Bermuda Triangle.
Scully: I swear I took my eye off him for a minute.
- This is also Scully's reaction in the Season 5 episode Kill Switch, when she founds out they'll be teaming up with the other kind of fictional hacker:
- Truth in Television: Lo Pan in Hell Money, according to the author.X-Files: Lo Pan from "Big Trouble in Little China" rules the city and can steal your organs any time.Reality: True.
- Unfazed Everyman: Scully, especially in Unruhe. She just shrugs off this nonsense.
- Unfinished Business: Ghost in The List, revenge variety.
- Villain Episode: Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man is this for Cancer Man, except more so than the actual episode because it's mainly a retelling of the episode as if it was one of his Jack Colquitt stories. Notably, it delves headfirst into Fan Fic territory when "Wolf Mandrake" shows up.
- What an Idiot!: Mulder tends to act like this every time Krycek is around. Scully calls him out on this, but he just won't listen...
- What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Mulder say it... moments before angry Russians start chasing him. And he's with Krycek.
- Who Writes This Crap?!/"Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Lampshaded on several occasions to note the absurdity of certain episodes' plot twists. It's almost to Running Gag levels, as seen whenever there is a message attached to a strip which says: "Actual line/joke/dialogue used in the episode".
- Miracle Man, the Monster of the Week himself says it best:Well, it's all over... and no one figured out the murders were done by me, the burn victim he miraculously healed! Mainly because it makes no sense.
- The Calusari: "Old lady eaten by chickens: thing that happens."
- The entirety of War of the Coprophages, at the very beginning with a message from the author: "Okay, I admit it. I can do nothing better with this episode than just quote all the best lines".
- Hell Money: "Left His Heart in San Francisco <- Actual Joke used in this Episode.note "
- Terma: "Interlude: Horse framed in scientist's death."
- Space mostly consists of Scully in upset silence over how dumb the episode is.Mulder: I'm sorry, Scully. This was a bad one.Scully: I... Sometimes they're just too stupid, you know?
- Chinga: "Scully microwaves a doll. (beat) And that is a thing that happens in an X-File."
- Miracle Man, the Monster of the Week himself says it best:
- WTH, Casting Agency?: Subverted. The author praises X-Files casting repetitively in-universe.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Mites for Mulder and Scully, as well as Black Oil for the author.
- Wild Card: Krycek. Astoundingly, Mulder trusts him every time.
- Wonder Twin Powers: Invoked and referenced the trope namers in the Season 10 episode Founder's Mutation, in which after being reunited the mutant siblings get revenge on their evil doctor dad by giving him a scanner death, by shouting "MUTANT SIBLINGS POWERS ACTIVATE"
- You Have to Believe Me!: All over the place since Mulder has the habit of telling other police officers his paranormal/supernatural theory of what's going on, regardless of how crazy it sounds to normal people. Especially lampshaded in Pusher where he tries to convince a court of the monster of the week paranormal abilities:Mulder: Your honor, Mr. Modell has been driving people to suicide with his telepathic powers.Judge: What? No. That's not a thing.(beat panel)Mulder: I can't believe Modell mind-controlled the judge to dismiss the case!Scully: (Rolls eyes)Yes, that's definitely what happened.