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Fox Mulder's Abduction

FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder was abducted in 2000 and his body was returned in 2001. (TXF: "Requiem" - "This is Not Happening") Although seemingly dead upon the return of his body, Mulder was nursed back to health soon thereafter. (TXF: "This is Not Happening", "DeadAlive")



Mulder in the ship.jpg

Mulder's abduction occurred shortly after he ignored the advice of an FBI auditor, specifically to reduce the resources he used on investigating the X-files, by choosing to work with Scully on a case involving recent disappearances of several multiple abductees from the Oregon town where the agents had investigated their first case together. (TXF: "Requiem", "Pilot") It was only after returning to the FBI's headquarters in Washington, D.C. with Scully that Mulder and his associates learned of a downed UFO hidden in the Oregon woods where the abductees had been taken by aliens intent on covering up evidence of the abductions. Characteristically curious, Mulder headed to the location of the crashed spacecraft with Assistant Director Walter Skinner but was abducted himself, taken aboard the craft with the other abductees and at least six Alien Bounty Hunters. (TXF: "Requiem", "Without")

Aboard the ship, Mulder was bound to metallic apparatus and endured painful medical procedures, including the drilling of his soft palate and the cracking of his chest. (TXF: "Within") In less than a week after his abduction, Mulder traveled aboard the craft to the Arizona desert, where the aliens made an unsuccessful attempt to abduct Gibson Praise. (TXF: "Within", "Without") The following year, the ship carrying Mulder visited Helena, Montana, where the aliens disposed of at least two of the abductees, seemingly either dead or barely alive and with injuries similar to those Mulder sustained aboard the craft. Mulder's body was abandoned outside a farm compound where abductees had been taken and healed of their wounds; he was found by FBI agents searching for him there. (TXF: "This is Not Happening") At the time his body was discovered, he seemed to have been dead for days.

Mulder was consequently buried in Raleigh, North Carolina following a funeral held there in his honor. Several months later, Billy Miles- an abductee who had been taken aboard the same alien craft as Mulder - was found deceased and floating in the Atlantic Ocean, but later regained consciousness. After Walter Skinner discovered that Miles had recovered, he exhumed Mulder's body, only informing a reluctant John Doggett of his theory. They were shocked to discover Mulder was also barely alive and had him hospitalized. Billy Miles' transformation into an alien supersoldier helped them realize that Mulder was, in fact, infected with an alien virus. Skinner approached Alex Krycek, who tried to set up a bargain of Mulder's life in exchange for Scully's unborn child, and showed Skinner a vial containing the cure. Skinner sent Doggett to retrieve the vial, but Krycek reniged and destroyed the cure. Believing Mulder would die anyway, Skinner turned Mulder's life support off. Scully quickly learned that Mulder was alive and used information obtained from Billy Miles' treatment to nurse him back to health, regaining consciousness without encountering the same development as Billy Miles. (TXF: "DeadAlive")

During Mulder's abduction, he is shown in flashbacks in the episodes "The Gift" and "Per Manum" but these are not directly related to his abduction. In the last scene of "The Gift", Doggett also has a momentary vision of Mulder while in the X-files office. Scully later has a similar vision in "This is Not Happening". Scenes of Mulder's abduction shown previously in the series appear in "Three Words", an episode set after his return.

Aboard the Alien Craft[]

While aboard the Alien Ship, Mulder had multiple painful procedures preformed on him. During the premier of the eighth season, Scully is having nightmares of Mulder's torture, and it is later revealed that this actually happened to him.

In 8x01 "Within", Mulder is seen on the alien craft in three scenes.

The first scene is during the Teaser of the episode. During a dream sequence by Scully, Mulder is seen in a pool of murky liquid. He moves around as a heart-beat is heard. Then an unknown hand pulls a tube from his mouth as he gags. Scully wakes up.

The drilling device

In the second scene, he is in a very dirty, dark room, bound to a metallic chair/table. He is naked, with six wires (three in each cheek) are hooked into his face, stretching it out. As a large overhead light flashes on, a loud mechanical whirring sound is heard in the background as the scene progresses.

The drill moves into Mulder's mouth.

A two-prong device pushes into Mulder's nose as a drilling device with a bright blue light turns towards him. He opens his mouth in horror as the drill starts up and advances toward his mouth. As it goes in, a very bright, blue light attached to the drill flicks on, and the drill goes into Mulder's mouth. He screams in pain as his soft palate is drilled into.

Mulder's soft palate is drilled

The third scene of Mulder's time aboard the ship is more graphic than the first two. We start in pure darkness, with only a small light projecting Mulder's silhouette. The overhead light turns on again as we pan up the chair/table Mulder is bound to. It is revealed that his wrists and ankles are bound by bolts.

Mulder Light.jpg

Mulder is fully awake. He glanced toward his right and sees a long mechanical arm with an autopsy blade at the end. Mulder watches in horror as the spinning saw descends toward his chest. He screams in agony as the blade cuts deeply into his stomach.

Mulder's chest is cut open

The saw blade

In 8x02 "Without", Mulder is seen in three scenes.

First, in a dream by Gibson Praise. A Blurred shot slowly pans toward Mulder. Aliens appear to be walking around him. As the camera begins to focus, Mulder's eyes fly open.

Later, a helicopter flying Scully and Doggett to the hospital goes right past the alien ship, which is invisible to them. Mulder seems to know that Scully is near, and calls out her name.

Mulder in Without

At the end of the episode, Mulder is asleep, not knowing that five Alien Bounty Hunters walk up to him. As his eyes begin to open, a sixth Bounty Hunter walks up to him, looks down at his scars, then staring into his face. The episode ends before we know if Mulder actually wakes up to discover his real captors.

Mulder and the Lead A.B.H.

Two Alien Bounty Hunters watch Mulder

In 8x14 "This is Not Happening!", Scully has a nightmare of Mulder lying dead aboard the alien craft, only to discover at the end of the episode, when he is returned, he really is dead.

In 8x15 "Dead Alive" and 8x16 "Three Words", Mulder is now alive and is recovering from his abduction and aftermath.

Background Information[]

Design Process[]

A concept sketch of the alien surgical chair.

Conceptual artwork of Mulder's head fastened to the chair by pins.

Concept sketches of Mulder's body in the chair.

  • Mulder's abduction was devised by Chris Carter, towards the end of The X-Files' seventh season, as a way of allowing Mulder actor David Duchovny to leave the series, as the actor fulfilled his contractual obligations after the seventh season of the television series and felt that there was not much else to do with the character, following the previous seven years.
  • In a featurette for The X-Files Season 8 DVD, Production Designer Cory Kaplan explains how she was attracted to the idea of using primitive materials when she states, "We all see super-tech now but the idea of low-tech was much more interesting to me, much more visual. So you take elements of rock and steel, and chisel them interesting shapes." She also describes the creation of the set by stating, "I found the backdrop from Alien and Bill Roe lit it very dimly and put it behind. And it was just this rotating platform with this humongous dental piece that could rotate around as well and pull his face apart."
  • According to Makeup Supervisor Cheri Montasanto-Medcalf, Matthew Mungle helped in the creation of the alien torture machine by making the cheeks and putting the hooks in. The makeup supervisor adds that the hooks would actually stretch out and that David Duchovny "sat pretty good through all that."
  • Unusual filming techniques were also used. Visual Effects Supervisor John Wash recalls, "We devised a laser effect where a device is going into his mouth and some other weird lens effects that were going over the scene to give it an alien, other-world-like quality." On the subject of not only a challengingly minuscule method of filming but also additional sound effects, Supervising Producer Paul Rabwin recounts, "I had to set up a very, very highly magnified lens to try to get this little device coming right at us. It was very, very scary. We ended up putting some really cool sound effects in there, little servos and motors."
  • The sequence in which multiple Alien Bounty Hunters appear involved the use of motion control, whereby a motion-control camera on a computerized module is run through the same motion, time and again, while elements are continually added. The shot, according to John Wash, was one of the few times in the series when the production crew were able to use the filming method of motion control but presented a slight challenge because of this fact. In the filming of the sequence, both a blank plate, for just the set, and lighting elements, that were in the set, were shot before the production crew filmed five different passes, each one with the Alien Bounty Hunter in a different position. The production crew were finally able to clone the Bounty Hunter by blending all the passes together.


  • The opening title sequence for Season 8 of The X-Files was slightly altered from the traditional titles that had been used for every season before it and one of the newly added moving images showed Mulder actor David Duchovny falling away from camera. In a featurette for The X-Files Season 8 DVD, Executive Producer Frank Spotnitz admits that the image was an abstract way of suggesting Mulder's absence during his abduction.
  • Although Mulder is shown aboard the alien craft in the teaser of Season 8's opening episode, "Within", it is possible that the sequence is a dream experienced by Scully and it is not until the concluding part of that two-parter, entitled "Without", that the same version of Mulder's abduction is verified as actually happening to the character.
  • Mulder's abduction differs from all others in the series, as the interior of the alien craft in which he is confined was an entirely new design and, in The X-Files, the set is only shown in connection with his particular abduction; even though very similar abductions are implied as taking place, Mulder's one is the only abduction of its kind to be seen in the series. In the final episode of The Lone Gunmen series, however, the three The Lone Gunmen and one of their closest associates, Jimmy Bond, fake the abduction of Morris Fletcher, involving a set that looks very much like the one used to film Mulder's abduction.
  • Mulder's abduction is the only one that actually shows the involvement of Alien Bounty Hunter's, the only instance of any Bounty Hunters being shown aboard an alien craft, the only occasion in which more than one Alien Bounty Hunter is seen in a particular location, and the only time they appear in clothes that actually fit their location. Their involvement in this abduction is the last time that any of the Alien Bounty Hunters are seen alive, as the only circumstances in which they appear after the episode "Without" is in flashbacks.
Fox Mulder's history on the X-Files
1st stint on the X-Files


1st closure of the X-Files


2nd stint on the X-Files


2nd closure of the X-Files


3rd stint on the X-Files