Gillian Anderson has been very vocal about her decision not to return to more The X-Files should Fox decide to bring back the show for another season. She said that she wouldn't do more after 2016's six-episode Season 10, but here she is, playing FBI special agent Dana Scully for another season. But this, she has promised, is it.
"This is it for me. I am really serious. I have so much respect, but I’m finished and that’s the end of that," she said at this year's Television Critics Association panel.
Many fans would argue that without Scully there can be no X-Files. Her counterpart, David Duchovny, who plays Agent Fox Mulder, left toward the end of the original series (only to return in the final season), with mixed results. After a dodgy Season 10, Season 11 (which currently airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox) has been almost universally well received, which has left many fans hoping for another season. But what is The X-Files without Scully?
In a recent interview with Digital Spy, series creator Chris Carter explored the possibility of a Scully-less X-Files:
"I think that certainly The X-Files has more life in it, there are more stories to tell, with Gillian or without. I'm sorry to see her go, I've never actually considered doing this show without her, so is this the end? It's the end of something, I don't know if it's the beginning of something new. But certainly we will have to all put our heads together and figure out where to go from here.
I always thought of David [Duchovny] the way I thought about the child William [Mulder and Scully's child], as an absent center. Even when he wasn't there, he was the center of everyone's concern, and the stories revolved around him. I think that's an interesting problem for storytellers and I think that if The X-Files is to go forward then Scully would be a similar absent center."
In the face of the possibility of an end to The X-Files, many fans have taken to Twitter to suggest that a good spin-off series might focus on William. However, after last week's episode, "Ghouli," revealed that William was a little bit of a teenage player, he may have lost some fan support.
Despite all the talk, when it comes to The X-Files, never say never. Anderson has played the role for 25 years. She has had many great roles between the original and revival seasons of The X-Files (The Fall, American Gods, and Hannibal spring to mind), but let's be honest: She'll always be Scully. The character is a cultural touchstone, and no amount of other great roles will ever change the fact that she was an inspiration to many girls who later went on to careers in science and medicine.
If Anderson really is done, it puts the franchise in a precarious position—and the pressure will be on Carter and his writers' room to figure out how (or whether) this show can really work without her.