How X-Files changed television

The finale of the six-part revival of The X-Files on US TV closes out another chapter in the paranormal adventures of FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. The long-running science fiction series has conditioned viewers to expect the unexpected. The series premiered on 10 September 1993 to little fanfare; the network suits had their hopes up for the Bruce Campbell steampunk western The Adventures of Brisco Country Jr instead.

But over time, The X-Files built a sizable audience until, in peak viewing years (around 1998, when the blockbuster feature film The X-Files: Fight the Future was released) it was a bona fide global sensation.

Ratings began to decline after that high point, until it concluded its nine-season run in May 2002 - by which point it was an afterthought for most viewers beyond a cultish few (this writer included). A much more intimate and character-driven second film, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, followed in 2008, and had the misfortune to open the week after Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. X-Files fever had dissipated.

And it seemed the last glimpse we'd ever have of our intrepid agents would be I Want to Believe's cheeky post-credits dream sequence in which the bathing suit-clad duo waves at the camera while rowing across a tropical ocean.

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