Over the years we’ve lost a lot of characters on The X-Files. Both Mulder and Scully have lost family members and friends, evil doers have got their comeuppance, but many innocents have been lost along the way as well. This week we look at ten of the most important, shocking, and downright devastating deaths of the nine seasons so far, read after the jump to see what made the list.
10. Penny Northern, "Memento Mori"
Penny’s death may not have been the most important to us as viewers, but it certainly was to Scully. In “Memento Mori” Penny shared memories of “the place” with Scully in an effort to help Scully gain understanding of what had happened to her, and to find strength to fight what was happening to her now. Scully wrote that she looked at Penny with respect and was at her bedside when she finally passed away, despite how difficult that must have been for her when she knew she was facing the same path. Her death spurred Scully to “carry on” because she had things to “prove”.
"I decided tonight that um..that I'm not going to let this thing beat me. I came into this hospital able to work, and that's how I'm leaving."
9. The Well-Manicured Man, Fight The Future
For a reasonably minor character, the Well-Manicured Man has easily the most dramatic death scene of anyone on this list. No simple bullet wound was enough here, rather the WMM died in an enormous fireball when his car exploded just minutes after handing Mulder “the location of Agent Scully and the means to save her life”. While it is never made clear whether or not the WMM knew his car was rigged to explode, the fact that he climbs into the backseat of a car whose driver is dead strongly suggests he chose to sacrifice himself to help Mulder’s cause.
"Find Agent Scully. Only then will you realize the scope and grandeur of the project. Go. Go now!"
8. The Syndicate, "One Son"
Up until season six The Syndicate had been the shadowy puppet masters behind the entire conspiracy that Mulder & Scully were trying to unravel, even controlling the Smoking Man. Their total annihilation at the hands of the Faceless Rebels in “One Son” was shocking not only by its violence (the men’s wives and children were seen in the group too) but in how much of a game changer it was for the entire mythology. With all the powerful men now wiped out the Smoking Man could take charge, forming his own new group and moving in the direction he chose without answering to a higher authority.
"Who burned those people?"
"They burned themselves. With a choice made long ago by a conspiracy of men who thought they could sleep with the enemy. Only to awaken another enemy."
7. Pendrell, "Max"
Pendrell appeared in only a handful of episodes but established himself as a firm fan favourite, and a key player in many a fanfic. His death falls into the unnecessary innocents category which makes it even more painful than it would otherwise have been - all he wanted was to buy Scully a birthday drink. Both Mulder and Scully are hurt by Pendrell’s death, yet another addition to the long list of people who have wound up dead simply by associating with them, however it is Scully who takes it hardest when she realises she had never even learned his first name (it was Sean).
"We may never know who killed Agent Pendrell. And if we don't find out, what meaning did their deaths have? Or their lives?"
6. Queequeg, "Quagmire"
Poor little Queequeg was not the most long-lasting of recurring X-Files characters (he appeared in just three episodes), but Philes took the little ball of orange fuzz to their hearts almost immediately and were heartbroken at his untimely demise at the hands jaws of a giant alligator. Scully too was clearly heartbroken at the loss of her dog, in fact Queequeg gets more remembrance from her in later years than almost anyone else. In “Alone” Scully finds his collar tag while clearing out her desk meaning she had kept it there for five years, and she packs it to take home. She also used his name as part of her personal email address the following year.
"Could you repeat the last part again? I kind of faded out."
"After you said I'm sorry?"
5. Lone Gunmen, "Jump The Shark"
For three characters who frequently played the role of comedy relief on The X-Files, the deaths of the Lone Gunmen was sombre and filled with meaning - even while managing to slip in a subtle reference to Star Trek. The three died as true patriots saving the country, and the world, from a bioterrorism attack and even earned themselves three spots in Arlington National Cemetery after some impressive string-pulling by Skinner. Ever since the episode aired there has always been doubt over whether or not the Gunmen really died, after all their deaths were never shown and indeed in the season 10 comics they were shown to have faked their deaths. However as the canon-status of the comics is now unsure, and with no sign of the actors returning for season 10, we have to assume that they are, sadly, dead as far as the TV show is concerned.
"They meant so much to me. I'm not sure if they ever really knew."
4. Mr X, "Herrenvolk"
Considering the sudden and shocking death of his predecessor, it’s no wonder that X was always somewhat skittish and wary of putting himself out there for Mulder. Sadly for him those instincts weren’t quite good enough to save him forever and he died, like the man before him, from an assassin’s bullet. X’s death didn’t pack quite the same punch as Deep Throat’s did - by season four we were getting used to the deaths of somewhat major characters - however it did not pass without meaning. X used his final ounce of strength to leave a message for Mulder to help him continue on his quest. The letters S.R.S.G. which of course led Mulder to his newest informant, Marita Covarrubias.
"Not everything dies, Mister Mulder."
3. Bill Mulder, "Anasazi"
Bill Mulder was the first* member of Mulder & Scully’s families to die for the sake of the conspiracy and the ongoing mythology, beginning a list that would go on to claim Scully’s sister and daughter, and Mulder’s mother. Although Mulder’s relationship with his father had always appeared strained, Mulder’s reaction after finding his father on the bathroom floor is nothing less than a grief stricken son - afraid and upset at the loss of his father. That he doesn’t even have the opportunity to mourn - Scully attends the funeral on his behalf - only adds to the indignity of what has been done to Mulder by the men his father once called friends.
2. Melissa Scully, "Paper Clip"
Melissa’s death was shocking not only in how totally unnecessary it was, but also because it was the second family death in the same arc coming just two episodes after the death of Mulder’s father (although she was shot in “The Blessing Way”, she doesn’t actually die until the end of “Paper Clip”.) Melissa was not involved with the X-Files or the conspiracy in any way and was an innocent in the larger game played around her, making her death at the hands of Luis Cardinal and Alex Krycek all the more tragic.
"She died for me and I tried to tell her I was sorry but I don't think she'll ever really know."
1. Deep Throat, "The Erlenmeyer Flask"
Deep Throat was the first major character to die and his death showed us that this was a show where “everyone is expendable” - or at least that was Chris Carter’s take on the situation. The death of Deep Throat was shocking enough to prompt angry voicemails from fans and really demonstrated just what the show was prepared to do for the sake of storytelling. The entire scene exudes drama and tension, although how much of that is down to issues during filming is unclear as an exhausted Gillian and Jerry Hardin shot their dialogue with just minutes to go before dawn and no time for a retake. Deep Throat’s final words also gave Mulder his password (TrustNo1 is now one of the most well used passwords in the world) and us one of the X-Files’ most enduring catchphrases.
"Trust no one."
*BONUS* - The Cigarette Smoking Man
What do you call a man who just won’t die? The Smoking Man has gone through numerous apparent deaths on The X-Files. We’ve seen him take an assassin’s bullet in "Redux II", thrown down a flight of stairs in “Requiem”, and finally blown up by a rocket shot out of a helicopter in “The Truth”. But is he finally, truly dead? Even despite seeing him apparently vaporised by a rocket - with visual effects reminiscent of the Raiders of The Lost Ark finale adding to the scene - William B. Davis’s upcoming role on the X-Files revival puts his apparent death at the end of season nine into serious doubt. While the Smoking Man could be returning only in flashbacks, hallucinations, or in any one of many other ways that wouldn’t require the character to still be alive, his amazing ability to cheat death so far is keeping a large question mark over him for now.
"They wanted to kill you, Fox. I protected you all these years ... waiting for this moment ... to see you broken. Afraid. Now you can die."
*Technically Samantha “died” in 1979 making her the first in the list.