It’s Time We Admit That ‘The X-Files’ Was A Great Comedy

The show was at its best when it traded secrets and intrigue for body swaps and Rhys Darby as a giant lizard man.

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in The X-Files
Brought to you by SBS On Demand

SBS On Demand gives you free, unlimited access to some of the world's best programs and movies.

At its heart, The X-Files is a show about alien conspiracies, the inherent darkness of the human race, and the wild horniness between Mulder and Scully. But, wow, for such a dark show, it sure is funny.

During its 11-season run, The X-Files told a lot of dark stories about shady governments selling out humanity to sinister aliens and violent monsters-of-the-week. But it’s time we admit that the show was at its best when it traded secrets and intrigue for body swaps and Rhys Darby as a giant lizard man.

In their quest to uncover the truth of the universe, FBI agents Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) investigated a lot of unexplainable cases. In most episodes, this led them to aliens, monsters, and a whole lot of personal and professional anguish.

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in The X-Files

And these episodes are great! There’s a reason the show has had such a lasting impact on pop culture.

But every now and then, The X-Files surprised us with an episode that proved it was more than capable of being a comedy.

These are the episodes that separate The X-Files from any show that would dare throw fists. There really wasn’t, and still hasn’t been, a detective thriller that would dedicate an entire episode to a town of country hick vampires, but The X-Files went there.

Since every episode is available to stream on SBS On Demand, there’s never been a better time to binge Chris Carter’s masterpiece. Whether you’re watching for the first time or revisiting the classics, here are the episodes to watch when you’re in need of a good laugh, which we surely all are.

#1 ‘Jose Chung’s From Outer Space

Season 3, Episode 20

It’s always funny to see Mulder and Scully interact with other characters who believe in the paranormal and, in this case, it’s renowned sci-fi author Jose Chung who’s looking for first-hand information about an alien abduction.

We see multiple accounts of the abduction play out on screen, each one more ridiculous than the last. The episode gets meta, parodying a whole heap of abduction clichés, and Mulder’s high-pitched scream might be the single funniest moment in the entire series.

#2 ‘Bad Blood’

Season 5, Episode 12

Widely regarded as not only the funniest episode of the show but also one of its best, the jokes in ‘Bad Blood’ are simple: Mulder and Scully are retelling a case about a vampire, and they both give two wildly different accounts of the same events.

In Mulder’s story, Scully is grumpy and dismissive of his brilliant theories. The way Scully remembers it, Mulder acts like a child and never appreciates her work.

We see each version of the story played out, and highlights include Luke Wilson as a hot-but-dumb Sheriff, Mulder singing the theme song to Shaft, and Scully’s obsession with pizza, even when she’s elbows deep in a dead body during an autopsy.

#3 Mulder And Scully Meet The Were-Monster

Season 10, Episode 3

Objectively the best entry in the show’s 2016 reboot, this episode is brilliant because it stars Rhys Darby and a pre-ripped Kumail Nanjiani, and because it twists the monster-of-the-week formula into something new, surprising, charming, and totally hilarious.

Investigating a series of brutal murders, Mulder and Scully keep hearing about a strange creature at the scenes of the crime. Mulder immediately suspects a werewolf, but that’s so 2000-and-late.

Instead, they meet Guy Mann, a friendly and not-at-all murderous lizard who was bitten by a human and now transforms into one every day.

#4 ‘Arcadia’

Season 6, Episode 15

By this point, fans were desperate for Mulder and Scully to get together, so an episode that saw them going undercover as a married couple was sure to absolutely send us.

There’s so much to laugh at in ‘Arcadia’, including a murderous homeowner association, but the big laughs come from seeing Mulder and Scully pretend to be in love. Mulder, of course, hams it up like he’s a Stepford husband and screams when he sees Scully in a face mask, and Scully makes fun of the way he uses toothpaste and sends him to sleep on the couch.

#5 ‘X-Cops’

Season 7, Episode 12

Logically, this episode shouldn’t work. How can Mulder and Scully’s insane paranormal investigations fit into a reality show about real-life crimes?

‘X-Cops’ works because it’s such an unlikely pairing, and because it commits to being weird. It’s presented like an episode of Cops that features Mulder and Scully rather than a funny episode of The X-Files.

Mulder absolutely loves being on TV and plays it up for the cameras, and the other cops are noticeably confused by these FBI agents who claim they’re hunting a monster with glowing red eyes and claws.

The complete series of The X-Files is now streaming for free on SBS On Demand.

(Images courtesy of SBS On Demand)