The X-Files

Common Sense Media says

Brilliant sci-fi drama for brave teens and up.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show deals with a vast conspiracy of lies and cover-ups and alludes to the real-life corruptibility of government.

Positive role models

Mulder and Scully have a relationship of equals, devoid of traditional male dominance. They are also very loyal to each other. Scully's approach is more intellectual, while Mulder believes in conspiracies and the supernatural. The two are in pursuit of justice, but occasionally go against the law when they believe they are right.


Most episodes have scary elements, some with gruesome creatures and behavior. Some episodes include strong violence, including stabbings, gun fights, and physical violence -- some very graphic.


Some sexual tension between main characters. Rare allusions to unusual sexual practices, like inbreeding.


Mild profanity, like "damn," "hell," and "ass."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A recurring bad guy smokes cigarettes constantly.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this dark sci-fi drama can be very scary at times, sometimes depicting monsters, deformed humans, disturbing scenarios, and violent acts. The show's mythology centers on government conspiracy, cover-ups, and the possibility of alien abductions. Younger viewers may be frightened by the possibility of abduction and scared by the often-graphic images of slimy creatures and the constant, tension-building entrances into dark holes, pits, and sewers.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

The show features Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) as FBI agents charged with investigating cases that involved the paranormal. Along with dark, often-scary episodes about specific creatures or unexplained events, the show revolves around a mythology of government conspiracies and cover-ups related to extraterrestrials. Mulder is deeply suspicious of the government and believes fervently in the existence of extraterrestrials, due to the fact that he remembers his sister being abducted by aliens when he was a child. Scully, a trained medical doctor, starts out as a skeptic assigned to the X-Files to debunk Mulder's unpopular theories, but she eventually comes to believe in the paranormal.

Is it any good?


Both creepy and intriguing, THE X-FILES was hugely popular during its nine-year run on Fox in the 1990s and early 2000s (it now airs in syndication and is available on DVD). Teens who like sci-fi or horror will enjoy The X-Files for its complexity and rich character development. Parents may want to preview episodes for appropriateness for younger or more sensitive teens, since some shows are scarier than others. Viewers jumping into the middle of a season may be confused by the episodes dealing with detailed back stories.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about their beliefs about aliens. Is there life on other planets? If so, what form do you think it might take? Have humans already had contact with alien beings? Are aliens to be feared or sought out? What types of paranormal or spiritual situations do family members believe in (ESP, psychics, faith healing, etc.)? Families can also discuss Mulder and Scully's partnership. Why do they make such a good team? What does each bring to their relationship?

TV details

Cast:David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson
Networks:Syfy, TNT
Genre:Science Fiction
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD

This review of The X-Files was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 17 years old Written byEduardo Peixoto November 20, 2011

Great 90s gem

The only possible offense I imagine coming from this show it is it’s ever-building tension, which derives from its science fiction themes. Great show that represents quality TV and is completely appropriated for anyone which shows some good taste.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


The scariest sci-fi show ever. Not much violence, but truly creepy. You must watch Muldur and Scully, for X-Files is awesome.
Teen, 15 years old Written bymisfits1013 April 3, 2013

My all time favorite show

This show is exciting and scary. The writing and acting is amazing. Shows today still copy off the episodes and storylines. I started watching this when I was 13 and was OK. I have to say, it contains a fair amount of gore and violence as you get farther into the show. Season 9 is pretty gruesome. I am a horror fan and can handle quite a bit of gore, but I can admit to being very disturbed by some episodes. Many deal with "human" killers with special abilities or mutations. These are the ones to watch out for, as they are more realistic and disturbing. If I had kids, I certainly wouldn't let them watch things like that. It depends on the child, but I do disagree with exposing anyone under the age of 11 to such themes despite their maturity. A few of the episodes to watch out for: Home (even adults can't handle this), Gender Bender, Irresistible (very disturbing), Aubrey, Die Hand die verletzt, 2shy, Oubliette, and Sanguinarium (goriest episode yet). As far as sex/nudity, hookers are shown dead or picking up guys (Irresistible centers on a man who picks up a prostitute, kills her, and cuts off her hair and nails- something not easily forgotten), occasional rear nudity and women's breasts, implied sex or rape, Mulder often watches porn. Nothing real explicit. Gender Bender and Milagro are two to watch out for. Also, characters drink/occasionally get drunk. One of the main villain's is constantly smoking. That's about it. Language doesn't get much worse than b***h. S**t and f***k are sometimes implied. To sum it all up, parents should tread carefully. Violence is the main concern. The show can get very violent and gory at times. I would consider watching the more disturbing episodes with your kids or skipping over. OK for 15+
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential Apps Guide