the truth is here

A Timeline of the X-Files Universe, From Prehistoric Black Oil to Super Soldiers

Photo-Illustration: Photo by Fox/Liaison/Getty Images

Throughout nine seasons of The X-Files, the series’ mythology was more than a little confusing. Did alien life on this planet begin with Roswell? Were aliens already here? What’s up with Scully’s cancer — and what really happened to Mulder’s baby?

We don’t know how many of those details will factor into the resurrected version of the show when it premieres on Fox this Sunday, January 24, but it never hurts to be prepared. In order to refresh you on what exactly went down during the first run, here is a chronological timeline of every important alien abduction, Black Oil possession, and government double-cross that contributes to the overall mythology of The X-Files.


General conspiracies Scully-related Samantha-related
  • Conspiracy types

  •  Abduction
  •  Sighting: Alien/UFO
  •  Government Cover-up
  • Arc-specific conspiracies

  •  Cigarette Smoking Man
  •  Alien Bounty Hunters
  •  Black Oil
  •  Super Soldiers

The Ice Age

2.4 million years ago, alien life forms are present during the early evolution of human life. The Ice Age causes them to flee the planet, but they leave deposits of the Black Oil virus for when they return to eventually colonize Earth.

35,000 BC

North Texas

Two cavemen fight an extraterrestrial. One of them is infected with Black Oil.


Roswell, New Mexico

An alien spacecraft crash lands.

Roswell, New Mexico

An alien poses as a Negro League baseball player, Josh Exley, in order to stay on Earth and enjoy life. An Alien Bounty Hunter kills him for abandoning his people. (Episode: “The Unnatural”)

Early 1950s


Bill Mulder and Arthur Dales encounter a man, Skur, with an alien parasite. Bill helps him escape from the government in one of the first X-Files. (“Travelers”)


Washington, D.C.

Bill Mulder and Cigarette Smoking Man interview a crewman from submarine Zeus Faber who encountered the Black Oil before it escaped into the Pacific Ocean.

Late 1950s

Washington, D.C.

The Syndicate hands over family members to the alien Colonists to avoid being killed when Colonization happens. They are given an alien fetus to experiment on, and create alien-human hybrids to survive during Colonization. (“One Son”)


Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

8-year-old Samantha Mulder is abducted when her brother, Fox Mulder, is 12.


April Air Force Base

Samantha lives with Cigarette Smoking Man and his son Jeffrey Spender, and is experimented on. She vanishes from a hospital without a trace.


Pulaski, Virginia

Duane Barry is abducted by aliens.


Washington, D.C.

Special Agent Dana Scully is assigned to work with Special Agent Fox Mulder on the X-Files. (“Pilot”)

First appearance of C.G.B. Spender, the Cigarette Smoking Man. (“Pilot”)

Bellefleur, Oregon

Mulder and Scully investigate alien abductees; a body is found with a metal implant. (“Deep Throat”)


Washington, D.C.

Mulder meets Deep Throat, his FBI informant. (“Deep Throat”)

Southwestern Idaho

Test pilot Colonel Robert Budahas goes missing, is returned with his memory wiped. (“Deep Throat”)

Sioux City, Iowa

Mulder investigates the abduction of Ruby Morris, which reminds him of his sister’s abduction. (“Conduit”)

Mulder sees an alien spacecraft at the military base; his memory is wiped. (“Conduit”)

Townsend, Wisconsin

UFO crash. An invisible figure kills a deputy sheriff; the Air Force cleans it up. (“Fallen Angel”)

Max Fenig, an alien abductee, is abducted again. (“Fallen Angel”)


Iraq/Palestine Border

An Iraqi fighter pilot shoots down a UFO. (“E.B.E.”)

Mattawa, Washington

Frank Druce transports an EBE (extraterrestrial biological entity) to a power plant, where it’s killed. (“E.B.E.”)

Deep Throat tells Mulder that after Roswell, an agreement was made between countries to kill all EBEs. (“E.B.E.”)

Washington, D.C.

Mulder introduces Scully to the Lone Gunmen. (“E.B.E.”)

Gaithersburg, Maryland

Dr. Terrance Berube is murdered by Crew Cut Man, a Man in Black assassin. Dr. Berube was performing experiments on men with extraterrestrial viruses.

Fort Marlene, Maryland

Scully finds an alien fetus in liquid nitrogen. She trades it with Crew Cut Man for Mulder’s life. Crew Cut Man murders Deep Throat. (“The Erlenmeyer Flask”)

Arecibo, Puerto Rico

Mulder sees an extraterrestrial while investigating a defunct NASA program, High Resolution Microwave Survey, designed to contact extraterrestrial life. (“Little Green Men”)

Sayreville, New Jersey

Mulder’s new FBI informant, X, mysteriously contacts him. (“The Host”)


Scully is kidnapped by Duane Barry. (“Duane Barry”)

Washington, D.C.

Scully returns weeks after her abduction, comatose, in a hospital. (“One Breath”)

Delta Glen, Wisconsin

Cows and teenagers are injected with alien DNA; the Crew Cut Man shows up and murders some of the teenagers. Crew Cut Man is killed by Sheriff Mazeroski. (“Red Museum”)


Beaufort Sea

The Alien Bounty Hunter crash-lands. (“Colony”)

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Samantha apparently returns home, claims she was returned at the age of 9 with no memories, but recently recovered them through hypnosis. (“Colony”)

Syracuse, New York

Alien Bounty Hunter murders doctors who are clones. (“Colony”)

Syracuse, New York

Samantha is revealed to be one of many clones. They are killed by the Alien Bounty Hunter. (“End Game”)

Two Grey Hills, New Mexico

An alien corpse is found in a boxcar. (“Anasazi”)

Washington, D.C.

Mulder is given an encrypted tape with evidence of extraterrestrial life. The Syndicate wants possession of the tape. (“Anasazi”)

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Bill Mulder tries telling his son about the encrypted tape, but he’s murdered by Alex Krycek. (“Anasazi”)

Washington, D.C.

Scully finds a metal implant in the back of her neck. (“The Blessing Way”)

Washington, D.C.

Well-Manicured Man tells Scully the Syndicate wants to kill her. Melissa, her sister, is mistakenly shot and killed. (“The Blessing Way”)

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Mulder finds out his father let Samantha be abducted in order to appease the Syndicate. (“Paper Clip”)

Washington, D.C.

Krycek beats up Assistant Director Walter Skinner and takes the tape. Cigarette Smoking Man lies to the Syndicate that the tape has been destroyed. (“Paper Clip”)

Knoxville, Tennessee

A group of Japanese scientists film themselves as they perform an alien autopsy before they’re murdered. (“Nisei”)

Washington, D.C.

Scully realizes that a Japanese scientist from the autopsy video experimented on her during her abduction. (“Nisei”)

Quinnimont, Massachusetts

Alien-human hybrids are shot and buried in a grave. (“731”)


Mulder is saved from Red Haired Man, an assassin, by X. X pulls Mulder from a train car before it explodes, destroying evidence of an alien-human hybrid. (“731”)


Pacific Ocean

Piper Maru, a French salvage vessel, discovers the Black Oil in a sunken World War II fighter plane. (“Piper Maru”)

Black Crow, North Dakota

Krycek, infected by the Oil, visits an abandoned missile silo. The Black Oil seeps into the ship, and Krycek is trapped in the silo.

Arlington, Virginia

After a shooting in a diner, a man who is revealed to be Jeremiah Smith heals the gunman and his victims. (“Talitha Cumi”)

Washington, D.C.

The Alien Bounty Hunter hunts down Jeremiah Smith and kills X. Cigarette Smoking Man has the Bounty Hunter heal Mulder’s mom, who suffered a stroke. (“Herrenvolk”)

X writes “SRSG” in blood, which leads Mulder to his next contact, special representative to the secretary-general of the United Nations, Marita Covarrubias. She works for the Syndicate. (“Herrenvolk”)

Honolulu, Hawaii

Customs officers are infected by the Black Oil, traveling via a carrier from Russia. (“Tunguska”)

Krasnoyarsk, Russia

Mulder is infected with the Black Oil. (“Tunguska”)

Boca Raton, Florida

Rocks containing the Black Oil are destroyed by a KGB assassin, who also kills Syndicate doctors working on a vaccine. (“Terma”)


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Scully’s interactions with Leonard Betts, a cancer-eating mutant, lead her to the realization that she has cancer. (“Leonard Betts”)

Washington, D.C.

Scully is diagnosed with a cancerous tumor, the result of experiments on abducted women. Skinner makes a deal with Cigarette Smoking Man to save her. (“Memento Mori”)

Upstate New York

Max Fenig is abducted from a plane. As he’s returned, a military craft shoots down the plane and the UFO. (“Tempus Fugit”)

Great Sacandaga Lake, New York

Mulder finds a spacecraft and an alien body submerged in the lake. (“Tempus Fugit”)

New York to Washington, D.C.

Mulder is abducted from a plane for nine minutes, and an alien device in his possession is stolen. (“Max”)

Vienna, Virginia

A woman is killed by a swarm of bees. Skinner covers up the death as part of his bargain to save Scully. (“Zero Sum”)

Columbia, South Carolina

Skinner tells Marita Covarrubias that the bees are being used as carriers for a Syndicate experiment. (“Zero Sum”)

Providence, Rhode Island

Mulder recovers memories that the Cigarette Smoking Man is in part responsible for his sister’s disappearance, and also was involved with his mother. (“Demons”)

St. Elias Mountains, Canada

An expedition team discovers a frozen alien body. (“Gethsemane”)

Washington, D.C.

Mulder fakes his death to discover who he and Scully can trust in the FBI. (“Redux”)

Washington, D.C.

Cigarette Smoking Man is shot and killed by Section Chief Scott Blevins, though no body is recovered. (“Redux II”)

Washington, D.C.

A fake Samantha meets with Mulder in order to get him to join the Syndicate’s side. (“Redux II”)

San Diego, California

A woman, Roberta Sim, apparently commits suicide. She’s discovered to have been raising Scully’s biological child, a girl named Emily. (“Christmas Carol”)

San Diego, California

Dr. Calderon, Emily’s doctor, is killed, and an alien clone continues treatment on Emily. (“Emily”)

San Diego, California

Emily, believed to be an alien-human hybrid, dies. Her body is not found in her coffin. (“Emily”)


Kazakhstan, Asia

An alien abductee is killed by an Alien Bounty Hunter. (“Patient X”)

Washington, D.C.

The Syndicate is surprised by the early colonization by the aliens. (“Patient X”)

Ruskin Dam, British Columbia

Cassandra Spender goes missing as aliens confront abductees. (“The Red and the Black”)

West Virginia

The military catches a Rebel alien fighter from a crashed spacecraft. (“The Red and the Black”)

Washington, D.C.

The Syndicate is unsure whether or not to align with the Rebel aliens, who are fighting the Colonists. They procure a Black Oil vaccine from Russia. (“The Red and the Black”)

Wiekamp Air Force Base

A Rebel kills an Alien Bounty Hunter and saves the Rebel captured by the military. (“The Red and the Black”)

Washington, D.C.

Agent Jeffrey Spender is revealed to be Cigarette Smoking Man’s son. (“The Red and the Black”)

Vancouver, British Columbia

An assassination attempt on Gibson Praise, a telepath, is foiled when he dodges a Syndicate sniper’s bullet. (“The End”)

Washington, D.C.

Cigarette Smoking Man reveals to Spender that he is his father. (“The End”)

Washington, D.C.

Cigarette Smoking Man takes Samantha’s file from the X-Files. (“The End”)

Washington, D.C.

Cigarette Smoking Man burns down the X-Files. (“The End”)


Scully is stung by one of the bees and infected. (Fight the Future)


Mulder gets a vaccine for Scully as an alien spacecraft flies from the ice. (Fight the Future)

Washington, D.C.

Jeffrey Spender and Diana Fowley are assigned to the X-Files, replacing Mulder and Scully. (“The Beginning”)

Scully discovers alien DNA is in all human DNA. (“The Beginning”)

Washington, D.C.

Skinner is infected with debilitating nanotechnology. Krycek saves his life but maintains control of Skinner’s infection. (“S.R. 819”)


Washington, D.C.

An alien Rebel kills a Syndicate member and takes his place in order to convince the Syndicate to join the Rebels. (“Two Fathers”)

Cassandra Spender is revealed to be an alien-human hybrid whose existence could trigger colonization of Earth. (“Two Fathers”)

El Rico Air Force Base, Washington, D.C.

Cassandra Spender and the Syndicate and their families are killed by alien Rebels in order to stop the impending Colonization. (“One Son”)

Washington, D.C.

Spender tells assistant director Alvin Kersh that Mulder and Scully could’ve prevented the Syndicate’s deaths, and tells him to reassign them to the X-Files. Cigarette Smoking Man, angry with his son, shoots him in the head. (“One Son”)

Côte d’Ivoire

A metallic object with biblical inscriptions is discovered. (“Biogenesis”)

Côte d’Ivoire

Scully investigates a half-buried spaceship and discovers writings that have information on human genetics. (“The Sixth Extinction”)

Washington, D.C.

Cigarette Smoking Man reveals to Mulder he is his father. (“The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati”)

Cigarette Smoking Man believes Mulder has become an alien-human hybrid and tries to harvest his DNA to be the only person to survive the oncoming invasion. (“The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati”)


Washington, D.C.

Mulder learns his sister was taken by “walk-ins,” who save children’s souls before they are doomed to lead unhappy lives. (“Closure”)

Washington, D.C.

Cigarette Smoking Man, dying of cancer, gets Scully to help him find the cure to all of mankind’s diseases. CSM throws the cure into a lake. (“En Ami”)


Mulder is abducted by aliens. (“Requiem”)

Washington, D.C.

Despite being barren, Scully confides in Skinner that she is pregnant. (“Requiem”)

Washington, D.C.

Agent John Doggett joins an FBI task force to find Mulder. (“Within”)

Arizona Desert

Gibson Praise is saved from an Alien Bounty Hunter. (“Without”)

Washington, D.C.

Kersh assigns Doggett to the X-Files as a punishment for not finding Mulder. (“Without”)


Squamash, Pennsylvania

Doggett discovers that Mulder, dying after being exposed to an alien artifact, sought a cure from a soul-sucker. (“The Gift”)

Washington, D.C.

Via flashback, we discover Scully asked Mulder to be a sperm donor after her abduction. (“Per Manum”)

Washington D.C.

Scully discovers alien fetuses in jars at Zeus Genetics. (“Per Manum”)


Agent Monica Reyes joins the search for Mulder. (“This is Not Happening”)

Mulder’s body is recovered, but before Scully can have Jeremiah Smith heal Mulder, Smith is abducted by aliens. (“This is Not Happening”)

Washington, D.C.

Billy Miles, an alien abductee, awakens after being recovered and morphs into an alien-human hybrid. (“Deadalive”)

Washington, D.C.

Krycek tries forcing Skinner to kill Scully’s unborn child. (“DeadAlive”)

Washington, D.C.

Mulder’s body is exhumed and shows vital signs. He’s taken off life support, which stops the alien virus from making him a hybrid, and he returns to normal. (“Deadalive”)

Washington, D.C.

Agent Knowle Rohrer gives Dogett a “tip” in order to set Mulder up to be killed by black ops as he searches for information on Colonization. (“Three Words”)

Gulf of Mexico

Mulder and Doggett blow up a rig with the last remaining traces of Black Oil. (“Vienen”)

Washington, D.C.

Zeus Genetics is burned down by Billy Miles. (“Essence”)

Washington, D.C.

Billy Miles is revealed to be an indestructible Super Soldier, a military project. (“Existence”)

Upstate New York

Scully gives birth surrounded by Super Soldiers, who depart once her son William is born. (“Existence”)

Washington, D.C.

Doggett learns Rohrer is a Super Soldier, just like Shannon McMahon, a woman from his past. (“Nothing Important Happened Today”)

Washington, D.C.

William moves the mobile in his baby crib with his mind. (“Nothing Important Happened Today”)


Washington, D.C.

A Super Soldier tries bringing Mulder out of hiding, but Mulder leads Scully to magnetite that kills Super Soldiers. (“Trust No 1”)

Calgary, Canada

An alien cult kidnaps William in order to power a spaceship. The cultists are killed. (“Providence”)

Washington, D.C.

The Lone Gunmen sacrifice themselves to stop a biochemical weapon from being used. (“Jump the Shark”)

Washington, D.C.

Jeffrey Spender poses as Mulder to get close to Scully’s baby and injects him with magnetite to take away his abilities. Scully gives her baby up for adoption to protect him. (“William”)

Mount Weather Military Base, Appalachian Mountains

Mulder is put on trial for the death of Rohrer, a Super Solider. He is sentenced to death, despite his attempts to expose the government conspiracy during his trial. Skinner, Doggett, Reyes, and Kersh help him escape with Scully. (“The Truth”)

Washington, D.C.

In exchange for his help locating a missing FBI agent, Mulder’s slate is wiped clean by the FBI, and he no longer has to remain in hiding. (“I Want to Believe”)

A Timeline of the Mythology of The X-Files