In fact, show creator Chris Carter told EW that viewers won’t even need to have seen the original series to understand and appreciate the reboot — but because it’s been off the air since 2002, we asked him to pick the 10 essential episodes that everyone, fans and those new to the show, should catch up on before the new season hits in January.
1. “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)
The one that introduced Mulder, Scully, their defining characteristics, their relationship, their world.
2. “Deep Throat” (Season 1, Episode 2)
This ep introduces the idea of a government conspiracy/cover-up of E.T. activity and a mysterious informant, code-named Deep Throat.
3. “Beyond the Sea” (Season 1, Episode 13)
The episode that sees Scully become the believer after the death of her father overlaps with the case of an allegedly psychic serial killer.
4. “The Erlenmeyer Flask” (Season 1, Episode 24)
There’s a shocking death, and from this point forward, the conspiracy storyline become the driving narrative of the show.
5. “The Host” (Season 2, Episode 2)
There’s something sinister lurking in the sewers in this classic monster-of-the-week episode. One word: Flukeman.
6. “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (Season 3, Episode 4)
In one of the greatest X-Files episodes ever (the only one to win a writing Emmy), Peter Boyle guest stars as a morbid psychic.
7. “Memento Mori” (Season 4, Episode 14)
Though it features the usual alien rhetoric, this episode is best remembered as the one in which Scully learns she has cancer, launching a major character arc.
8. “Post-Modern Prometheus” (Season 5, Episode 5)
A Frankenstein-inspired tale about a lovelorn monster, it’s notable for its beautiful black-and-white cinematography.
9. “Bad Blood” (Season 5, Episode 12)
The signature episode from a young Vince Gilligan, Mulder and Scully investigate a vampire case told in flashback from both Mulder and Scully’s POV.
10. “Milagro” (Season 6, Episode 18)
A favorite of the X-Files writing staff, Mulder and Scully contend with an author whose gruesome fiction becomes reality.
For more on The X-Files, pick up this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands now.