Why Chris Carter Put Himself Through The 'Grinder' Of An X-Files Revival

"The X-Files" is full of terrible creatures pulled directly from the deepest, darkest crevice of humanity's worst fears. The long-running series featured aliens, cryptids, cabals, and pretty much every other myth and nightmare one could possibly imagine. It's a fair assumption that the man responsible for all this nightmare fuel is a certified creeper who collects human organs in glass jars as a side hustle, but Chris Carter is actually a pretty normal guy.

According to Independent, before he decided to pick up a pen and create night terrors, Carter was an editor for a surfing magazine in California, where he worked with dedicated athletes who wanted to redefine the sport. In the late '80s, he wrote a couple of episodes for short lived television shows, but his life changed when he came across a study about alien abduction by Harvard professor and UFO researcher, John E. Mack. The young writer was shocked when he learned that 3% of the United States population believed abductions were real. This fact led Carter on a writing journey that lasted a quarter of a century.

Powerful and unsettling

It seems like a pretty big leap to go from editing a surfing magazine, to writing a few episodes for "The magical World of Disney," to creating one of the darkest and creepiest shows to ever appear on television — but that's exactly what Carter did. After stumbling upon the Mack abduction study, the writer reached out to the professor, and managed to get himself a front row seat to the hypnosis of an alleged abduction victim. Carter recently recalled this experience in an op-ed piece for the New York Times:

"I went in doubtful, unprepared for the drama of a woman sitting next to me in tears and in terror over the encounter with aliens that she described, on a beach in Mexico. The experience turned out to be powerful and not a little unsettling."

It was also life changing. According to Darren Mooney in his book Opening The X-Files: A Critical History of the Original Series, Carter's newfound interest in the possibility of alien abductions blended with an intense love for "Kolchak: The Night Stalker," and Spielberg's "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark," and all of his interests culminated in the beloved show, "The X-Files."

The show was a huge hit and it allowed Carter to explore his most absurd and interesting theories about UFOs, aliens, and abductions. The series originally ran from 1993 to 2002 and spawned two feature films in 1998 and 2008, which everyone assumed would wrap up the series for good. However, Carter's exploration of all things weird and wacky was far from over.

The Reboot

After nine seasons, which typically included 20-plus episodes each, one might assume that Carter would welcome the end of the series, but it stayed on his mind. Even after the series ended, Mulder and Scully remained a part of his life, and Carter regularly spotted potential cases for them in the news. After working on a few less-successful shows like "Millennium" and "The Lone Gunmen," Carter reopened "The X-Files" in 2016.

The tenth season of the series only included six episodes, but Carter told Independent that didn't make things any less hectic:

"When you shoot six, you think it is going to be a piece of cake. That isn't the case. It will take eight months of our lives, so it is an enormous undertaking, even though it seems like only a slice of what we had previously done."

So, why do it? Why didn't Carter just pat himself on the back for the original run of the series and ride off into the sunset with a proud smile on his face? He told the Independent that:

"The central reason is the esprit de corps. That is the reason to come back and do it again. When you have a group of people working together, who all contribute to make it better, that is something. If you have never experienced it, that is somewhat miraculous."

Critics met the reboot with less than favorable reviews, but fans were delighted to see Mulder and Scully back on the case. An average of 11 million viewers watched the first three episodes of the reboot, which is more than the series' first and ninth seasons, and not bad for a show that was off the air for 14 years.

"The X-Files" reboot started out with a bang, but ended in chaos.

The End

In the revival's finale, it was revealed that Mulder wasn't the father of Scully's child, which was hard for fans to swallow, but things got really weird when Cigarette Smoking Man turned out to be the daddy. Things just get worse when Scully tells Mulder she is pregnant again. Even Gillian Anderson said she believed the series ended on "an unfortunate note."

"The X-Files" gained popularity by presenting audiences with fresh takes on the strange and unusual, but the finale felt forced, uninspired, and predictable. Digging up the corpse of Cigarette Smoking Man and impregnating Scully with another miracle baby felt cheap to the OG "X-Files" who were accustomed to the interesting and unpredictable storylines that made the first nine seasons of the series so successful.

Like Carter, many loyal fans of his series find themselves drawn to the subject of aliens, UFOs, and abductions. For a while, Carter was able to offer them a glimpse into these unexplained phenomena, to provide possible answers to impossible questions, but it seems his ability to do so might have come to an end in 2018.

There's no denying that "The X-Files" was special. The Mulder and Scully dynamic, the creepy monsters, and the intricate lore of conspiracy offered fans a fresh and entertaining ride for years, but it's time to let go of the past and look toward the future. As a kid, Carter was inspired by Spielberg and Kolchak, and there is little doubt that Mulder and Scully influenced many young writers and filmmakers. "The X-Files" legacy can be seen in shows like "Supernatural" and "Stranger Things," and will continue to inspire for many years to come. There will never be another Mulder and Scully, but I'm looking forward to what the next generation of writers will come up with.