The strange loves of Mulder and Scully

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Jul 23, 2018, 1:00 PM EDT

Everyone knows that Mulder and Scully are kind of a thing. Early on, creator Chris Carter had insisted that there would never be a love story between the characters, yet fandom prevailed, and by Season 4 we started to see more affection and tenderness between the two. There have been many break-ups and reunions between them, but Mulder and Scully have been a ship for the ages since day one.

Still, although they were few and far between, there were some other love interests in the lives of Scully and Mulder throughout the 11 seasons of The X-Files. Scully, for her part, had her own small fan club with characters like Frohike and Skinner, while Mulder... probably had someone that liked him, too. Somewhere.

Here are a few of the exes, the ill-fated love affairs, and the downright creepy dates that happened along the way.

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Diana Fowley

Surprising everyone by revealing that Mulder actually had a long-term girlfriend at one point, Diana Fowley showed up in the fifth season finale of The X-Files, taking over the cases when Mulder and Scully were kicked out of the department. Not only had she and Mulder dated, but Fowley had really been on board with all of his crazy theories, helping him discover and reopen the X-Files before doing what most of us would do and peacing out on Mulder the second her job bought her a ticket to Europe.

As with most things in The X-Files, Fowley was a riddle wrapped in a puzzle tied up in a conundrum that was probably a conspiracy the whole time. It was implied that she might have been working with the Syndicate, one of the shady governmental organizations dead set on messing with Mulder's head and discrediting him. I'm all for messing with Mulder's head, but the Syndicate is actually kind of bad at it. It takes them several seasons to really discredit Mulder, and they make it look a lot harder than it would be.

You know who super didn't like Fowley, though? Scully. Even from the beginning, Scully is disgruntled by Mulder deferring to Fowley. It's understandable, Fowley was taller than Scully, so naturally Scully felt threatened by her presence. UGH. It is a tried and tired trope, after all, that women must be forever threatened by each other above all other emotions. For her part, Fowley mostly scoffed at Scully and ignored her most of the time, which is unfortunate because their bizarrely similar sounding names make me wish they had their own spin-off together.

In the end, though, Fowley and Mulder did have something resembling chemistry going on between them. While Mulder's connection with Scully was always that of a heartfelt soulmate, Fowley ran hot and cold, alternately flirting with him and delivering underhanded quips. On the other hand, poor Fowley really didn't get much time in the spotlight before Scully eventually announces that she was found dead. Gee, that sure sounds like a convenient way to wrap things up.


Walter Skinner

While never a canon romance, there are still yet fanfiction archives dedicated to stories of these two falling in love (or doing other stuff that I don't want to talk about). A potential ship between the two characters is hinted at briefly in episodes like “Triangle," and there's a scene where Scully jumps passionately forward and kisses Skinner in gratitude when he gives her the means to help Mulder. In response, Skinner blushes and fumbles as she takes off to save Mulder's life... again.

Besides being a mostly good-intentioned boss tasked with the repeated saving of Mulder's life, Skinner has always been very professional with Scully while showing that he does deeply care for her. He, Mulder, and Scully have been allied with one another throughout most of the show's history with only a few exceptions along the way. Skinner is kind of a rube, but at least he's always nice, and prioritizes how much he likes and respects Scully in his interactions with her even when he has to be like, “Hey, could you stop breaking federal laws? Believe it or not, it's been kind of a problem for me, your boss.”

If we can say nothing else about Scully, it is that homegirl has a type. From her ex Jack to Mulder himself, she's prone to dating men that also double as father figures. I'm not sure if that's great; that's for Scully and her therapist to work out. All I'm saying is that if Scully and Mulder really are broken up for good, Skinner is a pretty handsome guy, and Scully could and has done much worse. 


Doctor Bambi

Of all the characters on this list, Doctor Bambi is the one I love the most. An entomologist working in Massachusetts, Doctor Bambi may have only appeared in a single episode, Season 3's “War of the Coprophages,” but, oh, what an episode it was.

Mulder randomly rolls into a town where there are murder cockroaches everywhere and decides to investigate, because it's three seasons in and this boy still doesn't have a single hobby besides finding creepy stuff and running with it. At this time, Dr. Bambi shows up and starts saying smart stuff about bugs, so we're all like, “Oh, damn.” Scully's at home for most of the episode, but that doesn't stop her from laying down some judgment on Bambi's doorstep by making fun of her name and discouraging Mulder's interest in her. “Her name's Bambi?” Scully asks, appalled. Scully is cool and all, but this is a woman that needs to work on her female friendships.

In the end, it's easy to see why Mulder likes Bambi. She's really into her work and she thinks bugs are the absolute coolest. The way Mulder loves conspiracy theories is the way Doctor Bambi loves bugs. She says to Mulder that she thinks insects are “more honest than humans,” which is one of the weirdest flirty lines I have ever heard in my life. That is when I myself fell in love with her, even if Mulder didn't. Yes. Insects are a thousand times more honest than humans, Doctor Bambi. Nice deduction. Completely impossible to prove or disprove in any way. 100% anthropomorphizing bugs while admiring them for not being human. Your shorts are amazing. 


"Never Again" Guy

One day, about halfway through Season 4, Scully finally got annoyed with Mulder being so Mulder all of the time, and she goes on a date with a nice guy named Ed. They hit it off and she retires from the FBI, freeing herself from Mulder's alien-based whims. Just kidding. Ed hates women and is awful, and he only appears in one episode to teach Scully that there are even worse dudes out there than Mulder, so she might as well just keep letting Mulder order her around forever.

Having recently been divorced to Hell by his ex-wife, Ed has many anger-fueled emotions that he can't seem to get a handle on. The situation worsens when he goes and gets the most red flag tattoo I've seen in my life, a drawing of Bettie Page with the words “Never Again” under it. Even more of a red flag? The tattoo mentally tells him that killing women is the coolest, so he proceeds to flatout murder a woman. It sucks.

Meanwhile, Scully ends up on a date with Ed, proving that somehow Mulder is not the worst person she has ever dated. Scully gets curious about Ed's tattoo, not in the “check, please!” way, but in the “I'll get one of my own and then let's have sex” way. Girl, I respect you, but this guy is bad news.

A majorly problematic trope in The X-Files has revolved around the way in which it struggles with Dana Scully's sexual autonomy, often centering Scully as a object of desire for whatever villain of the episode happens to have a crush on her, or positioning her as a damsel in distress for Mulder to rescue. In "Never Again", Scully is rebelling against Mulder's control over her life, but ultimately Ed shoves his arm into a furnace to save the day, so she's still getting rescued by someone. Anyway, Ed — he's the worst. You know, except all the other guys that tried to brainwash Scully, kidnap Scully, and impregnate Scully against her will.

Syzygy 5

Detective Angela White

Season 3's “Syzygy” is one of those rare episodes of a television show that I feel was written just for me. To begin with, the title is a reference to astrology — I'm IN. Ryan Reynolds also shows up as a teen jock named “Boom,” who gets extremely murdered before the credits even roll. Even better? The villains of this episode are two goth teen girls who are mad at their school for sucking too much. Hard relate! The episode features my favorite Scully quote of all time, repeated many, many times over throughout: “Sure. Fine. Whatever.” Not to mention Scully gets in Mulder's face because he never lets her drive. In short, this episode was tailored individually for me.

Angela White is the small town detective running the investigation that Mulder and Scully wind up looking into. She has the hots for Mulder for reasons unknown to me, but their flirtation culminates with her showing up with her cat's collar in a shoebox to be like, “I'm sad about my cat, let's make out.” Been there! Get ready for this, though — who walks through that hotel room door besides the one, the only, FBI Agent Extraordinaire: Dana Scully. Yes! This is the drama I live for. Nothing really happens after that, but for a minute there, they really had me going.

The teen girls escalate with their murder spree, then turn on each other, then get arrested, and then who even knows what happens after that? There's basically no follow-up on any of these cases. Angela White presumably lives out a happy existence without Mulder there to talk her ear off about aliens or what have you for the rest of their lives. The very best part of this episode, though, is that it ends with Scully just point blank telling Mulder to shut up! It is pandemonium.


Daniel Waterson

Scully only had a couple of love interests before her days with the X-Files, one of them being Jack Willis, her instructor at the FBI academy. He is fine and nice. Another of her early romances happened with Daniel Waterson, one of her former professors who was married at the time. It is assumed that Scully left before consummating the relationship because she was apprehensive of ruining his marriage, but emotional affairs are pretty problematic in and of themselves, and Scully never gets to have sex, so I kind of wish that she had just gone for it. I mean, it's not great, but you might as well get something out of all this drama, you know? Look, I didn't come here today to make friends.

Scully visits Waterson, who is now ill, and meets his daughter, who hates Scully a lot for pretty much ruining her home life even if she didn't actually break up Waterson's marriage. Waterson is still going for it, and is clear that he wants to continue their relationship even while basically on his deathbed, but Scully shuts it down and that is pretty much the end of Waterson. Like I said, The X-Files are low on follow-up.

Gillian Anderson made her directorial debut with the episode in which we meet Waterson, “all things,” and also wrote the Scully-centric script. Although the episode has often been panned, I think it's pretty great, and it establishes a wider character arc for Dana Scully that would last throughout the rest of the series.