10 Best Scully Quotes In ‘The X-Files,’ Ranked

10 Best Scully Quotes In ‘The X-Files,’ Ranked


One of the longest-running science fiction series in television history, The X-Files bewitched audiences with its debut in 1993 and continues to recruit new fans. The show introduced two relatively unknown actors as its stars, Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, who have since become pop culture icons.

Special Agent Fox Mulder (Duchovny) invites viewers to question everything and Trust No One in his quest to uncover widespread government conspiracies and the existence of extraterrestrials. Special Agent Dana Scully (Anderson) was initially assigned to the X-Files, Mulder’s basement department of unsolved, unexplained cases of phenomena, to spy on him. Before joining the FBI, Scully studied to become a medical doctor, which she dutifully declares in most episodes.

Series creator Chris Carter wasted little time testing Scully’s science-based logic by throwing both agents into an alien abduction plot in the pilot episode. What began as a tentative collaboration became one of the greatest (and longest) romantic ‘shipping’ examples of a couple who werenot a couple” on TV. Scully was paired with Mulder to keep him (and the FBI) out of trouble, but sometimes her exhaustive pragmatism and adherence to Mulder’s directives wore thin, and she made it known. In addition to her assertive acts of badassery, Scully let her signature red hair down and offered moments of levity when audiences (and Mulder) least expected it. She might be small, but she is mighty and a medical doctor, damnit. Here are some of Scully’s most memorable lines from one of the greatest TV shows ever.

The X-Files

Release Date
September 10, 1993

Chris Carter

Main Genre


10 “Save your own a**, sir. You’ll save your head along with it.”

Season 6, Episode 3, “Triangle”

Mitch Pileggi and Gillian Anderson have a tense conversation in the hallway at FBI office from the episode Triangle in The X-Files
image via Fox

After the season 5 finale, followed by the first X-Files movie, Fight the Future, season 6 began with the charred remains of an ambiguously governed X-Files division. As punishment for their rogue actions, Mulder and Scully have been ejected from the X-Files, and Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) is no longer their direct supervisor. Mulder learns of the re-emergence of a ghost ship in the Bermuda Triangle, last seen in 1939, and sets off to investigate alone. His time-traveling excursion requires assistance from the Pentagon, which only Skinner can provide. Scully enlists the help of The Lone Gunmen in a race to find Mulder and return him to the present day.

“Triangle” is a unique episode in the series because of its elaborate costume design and divergent camera work. Additionally, it was the first instance of a Scully-Mulder kiss (following the laughable teaser non-kiss from the movie) and a Scully-Skinner kiss! Irrespective of the aforementioned action and Mulder’s capture aboard a nazi occupied WWII-era time-warping passenger ship, this is Scully’s episode. Through her unflappable resolve to find Mulder and her significant personal risk, the audience understands how much she cares for him. The diminutive agent with pockets full of moxie is Mulder’s only hope for rescue. When she approaches Skinner for help, he refuses and says, “Use your head, Scully. It’ll save your a**.” Scully has zero minutes for bureaucracy and no patience for Skinner’s governmental compliance. To her former superior, she replies, “Save your own a**, sir. You’ll save your head along with it.” The mic drops and Scully marches away from a stunned Skinner.

9 “There are hits, and there are misses…and then there are misses.”

Season 3, Episode 4, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”

Gillian Anderson sits cross-legged on hotel bed as she looks at off-screen Peter Boyle from the episode Clyde Bruckmans Final Repose in The X-Files
image via Fox

In one of the most excellent episodes of The X-Files, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” Mulder and Scully have enlisted the help of Clyde Bruckman (Peter Boyle), a reluctant clairvoyant. Mr. Bruckman has the unfortunate gift of witnessing how people will die before it happens, and this “gift” has overstayed its welcome. The agents are one step behind a serial killer targeting psychics for hire but are getting closer, aided by Bruckman’s abilities. Despite its grim premise, the murder-profiling trio of Mulder, Scully, and Clyde Bruckman make the heavy yet comedic episode one of the best in series history.

Betwixt their travels to gruesome crime scenes, the agents learn more about the elderly death oracle and his monotonous, maddeningly predictable life as an insurance sales agent. Mulder and Scully become fond of Bruckman, though Scully’s connection is more nuanced as a “non-believer.” When Bruckman is placed in Scully’s protective custody (he’s a psychic, remember?), he tells her he’s had a vision of them in bed together. Convinced the older man is having fun with Scully’s skeptical nature, she dismisses the comment. In response to a prophecy worthy of an eye roll, she says, “There are hits, and there are misses…and then there are misses.” The series revolves around Mulder and Scully’s individual beliefs and experiences that challenge said beliefs. The episode’s final moments wordlessly throw Scully’s convictions into orbit in a powerful character crisis Clyde Bruckman saw coming.

8 “I’m afraid. I’m afraid to believe.”

Season 1, Episode 13, “Beyond the Sea”

Gillian Anderson tearfully turns away from death row inmate Brad Dourif from episode Beyond the Sea in the X-Files
image via Fox

Before Scully’s taciturn father (Don S. Davis) dies suddenly, he makes a peculiar late-night visit to Scully’s apartment and delivers a cryptic, wordless message. Scully joins Mulder on a case where death row serial killer Luther Lee Boggs (Brad Dourif) claims that he can aid in a kidnapping case in exchange for a stay of execution. After a previous last-minute stay, every soul Boggs took entered his body, rendering him a conduit for communication and inexplicable visions. Mulder (surprisingly) doesn’t believe Boggs’ new “abilities,” but Scully’s foundation is shaken when the murderer says he knows her dead father’s message.

“Beyond the Sea” is one of the earliest examples of Anderson’s tour-de-tiny-force performances as Scully on The X-Files and one of her most memorable. Scully believed her father was disappointed in her decision to forego a medical career for the FBI (though she’s still a medical doctor!) but needed confirmation that he was proud of her. The possibility that her father’s late-night message contained evidence of his pride threatened Scully’s science-based convictions. In her bereft, vulnerable state, the conflicted non-believer wanted to believe. Ultimately (and after a few intense, unforgettable exchanges with Boggs), Scully decides against learning her father’s dying words because she can’t give in to the impossible. Later, Mulder asks why she couldn’t believe Boggs, and Scully tearfully replies, “I’m afraid. I’m afraid to believe.” Scully’s father’s death and her time with Boggs became a defining moment for the character and the first significant crack in her previously unwavering faith.

7 “That’s right, Poopyhead.”

Season 6, Episode 15, “Arcadia”

David Duchovny as Mulder and Gillian Anderson as Scully in the episode Arcadia from the series The X-Files
Image via Fox Network

Mulder and Scully go undercover in suburbia as new homeowners Rob and Laura Petrie (pronounced “Petri,” like the dish). The agents investigate strange disappearances in the community, which has suspiciously restrictive, closely monitored homeowners association rules. Mulder and Scully engage in copious neighborhood mingling and hysterical levels of stereotypical cosplay to infiltrate the tight-knit residents’ inner sanctum. Mulder goes full-tilt as “Rob,” to Scully’s infinite annoyance, assaulting her at every opportunity with ridiculous pet names and marital bed innuendos. “Arcadia” is a Monster of the Week episode, but the monster pales compared to watching Mulder and Scully play house.

The first half of “Arcadia” is stuffed with so many humorous one-liners and facial expressions (mostly Scully’s) that it’s impossible to cite them all. The episode takes a tonal dive once the jig is up and the agents blow their cover, but it’s still a beloved fan-favorite. Mulder and Scully shippers delighted in seeing the pair under one roof, exchanging public displays of affection whilst arm-in-arm. Season after season, fans of the show patiently wait for genuine intimacy between the agents, and although they’re pretending, “Arcadia” offers a glimpse. After Mulder/Rob lobs a series of heavy-handed sentiments (including, “Woman, get back in here and make me a sandwich!”) at Scully/Laura, she retaliates in kind. While conversing with their neighbor Win, Mulder looks to Scully for confirmation with the phrase, “Isn’t that right, Honeybunch?” Without a beat, Scully savagely counters with a devilish smile and, “That’s right, Poopyhead.” Ahhh, domestic bliss.

6 “‘Baby,’ me one more time, and you’ll be peeing through a catheter.”

Season 6, Episode 5, “Dreamland II”

Gillian Anderson aims her service weapon at Mulder imposter Morris played by Michael McKean in The X-Files episode Dreamland II
image via Fox

Mulder and Scully are poking around the perimeters of Area 51 when they are seized by a cavalcade of soldiers led by a man named Morris Fletcher (Michael McKean). A brightly lit aircraft flies overhead during this exchange and Mulder and Morris switch bodies. Relieved to be free of his former life, Morris (in Mulder’s body) gets back into the car with Scully and drives away. Meanwhile, a disoriented Mulder, trapped in Morris’ body, is returned to his work at Area 51 and his dysfunctional family. In this two-part episode, Mulder desperately tries and repeatedly fails to prove to Scully that there has been a body swap while Morris thrives.

In “Dreamland I,” Morris, as Mulder, continually exhibits behaviors that perplex Scully (he openly flirts with Skinner’s secretary and slaps Scully’s behind), yet she merely remarks, “Mulder, you are acting bizarre.” Thankfully, she’s worked it out when “Dreamland II” commences. “Mulder” uncharacteristically invites Scully to his apartment for a “home-cooked meal,” and Scully agrees. She follows the impostor into Mulder’s bedroom, where she leans into his seduction game and pulls out her weapon. Morris’s reaction to the gun, “Baby,” is returned with Scully’s (legendary) convincing threat: “Baby” me, and you’ll be peeing through a catheter.” Scully saves Mulder, and lives are restored. Duchovny is excellent as Mulder, but Anderson navigates an exhaustive series of emotions and hysterical reactions fans will never forget.

5 “Her name is Bambi?”

Season 3, Episode 12, “War of the Coprophages”

Scully talks to Mulder and cleans her service weapon from 'The X-Files.'
image via Fox Network

On a solo excursion investigating reported lights in the sky, Mulder encounters a mysterious series of cockroach-related deaths. He calls Scully to get her take on the situation, but she has a scientific explanation (while domestically multitasking) for every supposed roach murder. The roach-affiliated death rate rises, and Mulder officially gets involved. While investigating, the local sheriff mentions secret government testing nearby. Mulder locates the test site, a building with visibly moving walls, and meets an agent from the US Agricultural Research Service, Dr. Bambi Berenbaum (Bobbie Phillips). The introduction of Dr. Bambi, an attractive woman missing several top buttons on her blouse, abruptly halts the Mulder-Scully phone hypotheticals.

After a palpable lesson in sexual chemistry, Dr. Bambi introduces Mulder to a robotics specialist who might have insight into the homicidal insects. Meanwhile, Mulder resumes contact with Scully and mentions his new doctor friend, to which Scully sardonically replies (while cleaning her gun), “Her name is Bambi?” Ultimately, Scully arrives to diagnose the situation in person (and to stoke her Bambi jealousy). The series rarely accentuates the agents’ romantic desire for each other, thus making Scully’s overt jealousy a rare audience treat. Despite an invasion of roaches, “War of the Coprophages” is an episode about Mulder and Scully’s irrepressible bond and obvious affection. The episode’s cheeky title translates into “war of the dung eaters,” which comes full circle in an explosive manure-filled ending deserving of a slow hand clap.

4 “Please explain to me the scientific nature of the whammy.”

Season 3, Episode 17, “Pusher”

Gillian Anderson looks incredulously at an off screen Mulder in the episode Pusher from The X-Files
image via Fox

Robert Patrick Modell (Robert Wisden) is a killer who doesn’t touch his victims; instead, he bends their will using his mind. Modell, who calls himself “Pusher” because of his unique skill, specifically targets members of law enforcement, having been denied entry into the FBI for psychiatric reasons. Because Modell can make people see what he wants them to see, he walks through FBI security wearing a scrap of paper bearing the word “Pass,” and no one bats an eye. Though Scully dismisses it outright, Mulder believes that Japanese ninjas could have trained Modell to “cloud the minds of his opponents.” Modell takes a deadly interest in Mulder, a worthy adversary, forcing Scully to reevaluate Pusher’s power.

“Pusher” isn’t a humorous episode. It’s one of the more stressful, nail-biting installments in the series. Modell’s seemingly unstoppable powers (though, curiously, Skinner is immune) and his fixation on Mulder are uncharted waters for the agents. Viewers understand that Scully is a serious, practical person, hired as a babysitter for the less-responsible Mulder, so when she uses a word like “whammy,” it is not only unexpected, it’s funny. Anderson is a gifted actor with dramatic and comedic precision, a skill she executes here. Mulder remarks that Modell evaded jail time because he “put the whammy” on the judge, and Scully’s retort has become a deadpan X-Files classic: “Please explain to me the scientific nature of the “whammy.” Mulder’s overt delight in Scully’s sarcastic volley is confirmation of their shared fondness and irrefutable connection undeterred by a pushy murderer.

3 “Sure. Fine. Whatever.”

Season 3, Episode 13, “Syzygy”

Gillian Anderson takes up smoking in hotel bed from the episode Syzygy in The X-Files
image via Fox

Mulder and Scully are summoned to Comity, New Hampshire, to investigate peculiar deaths. From the moment the agents arrive in Comity, their ordinary rapport turns sour. Further evidence of aggressive, divergent behavior (similar to responses caused by the angry pink ooze from Ghostbusters 2) is discovered among the townspeople. Mulder and detective Angela White (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson) consult with a local astrologer, Madame Zirinka, seeking explanations for the extraordinary circumstances and rising death toll. She explains that a rare planetary alignment has directed all cosmic energy at anyone born on January 12, 1979. In the eleventh hour, Mulder and Scully learn that high school best friends Margi and Terri were born on that date, thus, cosmic conduits.

Scully succumbs to the planetarily projected hostility outweighing jealousy sparked by Dr. Bambi in the previous episode, “War of the Coprophages.” Mulder and local detective Angela White’s canoodling is a bridge too far for the fire-haired agent, and it ignites a flurry of terse reactions and an uncharacteristic simmering cigarette-smoking spree (in bed). In response to literally anything her partner says, Scully pointedly replies, “Sure. Fine. Whatever.” The unusual display of (hilarious) juvenile behavior from Scully is so extraordinary that it can only be explained by a radical cosmic anomaly. As Mulder’s reliable, pragmatic partner, Scully has disagreed, respectfully, but in “Syzygny,” the latex exam gloves are off. Like the sky above Comity, New Hampshire, Scully’s true feelings have never burned so bright.

2 “It wasn’t even real cream cheese; it was light cream cheese!”

Season 5, Episode 12, “Bad Blood”

Gillian Anderson makes a call from her office wearing a light blue suit in The X-Files
image via Fox

Mulder and Scully saddle up and mosey on down to Texas to investigate a murder Mulder believes was committed by a vampire. During their inquiry, the agents are independently drugged by members of the vampire community and become unreliable witnesses with conflicting versions of events. Skinner awaits their official report, so Scully and Mulder revisit their experiences through comically outrageous flashbacks. Mulder recalls a goofy local Sheriff Hartwell (Luke Wilson), a whiny Scully, and a berserk recreational vehicle. Scully remembers it differently, stupefied by the smoldering smoke show, Sheriff Hartwell, numerous unnecessary autopsies, and an overzealous Mulder the Vampire Hunter. “Bad Blood” is indisputable X-Files canon.

Scully (as a certified medical doctor, once again for the people in the back) has conducted hundreds of autopsies on the show, but her exhausted post-mortem performance in “Bad Blood” is iconic, “Hoo-Boy!” She is repeatedly sequestered in the morgue without time for food or rest, resulting in uproarious scenes filled with guts and gore. Due to this famished, fatigued state, Scully’s “hanger” and irritability yield some of the funniest lines spoken by the ordinarily stoic agent. In a haggard plea for respite, Scully regales her partner with the contents of her stomach: half a bagel with cream cheese. She underscores the inadequacy of this non-meal by saying, “It wasn’t even real cream cheese; it was light cream cheese!” Series writer Vince Gilligan stated that one of his favorite things about “Bad Blood” is that Scully gets to smile. He’s not wrong; Anderson’s endearing off-camera charisma is a rarely-seen series unicorn unleashed in this fan-favorite episode.

1 “Mulder, it’s me.”

Seasons 2-11, 150+ Episodes

Gillian Anderson wears a red flannel shirt while holding a vintage cordless phone from The X-Files
image via Fox

For viewers tuning in during its original run, the evolution of technology in The X-Files unfolds organically as advancements are made throughout the 90s and 2000s. From the cartoonishly large cordless landline to the hand-held smart device, Mulder and Scully audition them all. Present-day re-watches are nostalgic for some fans and a virtual visit to the Smithsonian for newer generations. In its splendid iterations, the phone is one of the most vital tools in Mulder and Scully’s arsenal: FBI credentials, service weapon, trench coat, and telephone. Without the ever-present communication innovation, Scully’s beloved greeting-turned-catchphrase wouldn’t exist.

Other than “I’m a medical doctor,” Scully’s “Mulder, it’s me” line can be found in episodes where the agents are in separate locations and near a phone (i.e., most episodes). Mulder also says, “Scully, it’s me,” when phoning his partner, but Anderson’s tone lends a layer of familiarity and intimacy scarcely afforded to anyone else in Scully’s life. There’s reassurance in predictability, and audiences expect to hear those three words when their favorite fictional female FBI agent dials Mulder’s number. The catchphrase has become synonymous with Scully and can be found everywhere, from published fan biographies to X-Files merchandise and tattoos on fans’ bodies: unmistakable marks of an icon.

The X-Files can be streamed on Hulu in the U.S.

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KEEP READING: The 10 Most Underrated Episodes in ‘The X-Files,’ Ranked


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