William Scully was a captain in the US Navy and a member of the Scully family. (TXF: "Beyond the Sea", "One Son") He was the husband of Margaret Scully, the father of William Scully, Jr. as well as Dana, Melissa and Charles Scully, and the grandfather of Matthew Scully and Dana's son, William. (TXF: "Beyond the Sea", et al.) He never met his grandchildren, however, as they were born years after he died of a heart attack in early 1994. (TXF: "Beyond the Sea")
- The script of "Beyond the Sea" implies that William Scully was born in 1931. For more information, see the Background Information section.
His ship was involved in the Cuban Blockade. When his vessel returned to port, the song "Beyond the Sea" was playing. He marched right off up to the woman who would ultimately become his wife and proposed to her. After Margaret Scully recounted this story to Dana in early 1994, Dana later stated that the same song had been playing at the wedding in which William Scully had married Margaret. (TXF: "Beyond the Sea")
When Dana was young, William Scully repeatedly read to her from Moby Dick. (TXF: "Quagmire") He called her "Starbuck" and she would refer to him as "Ahab", a routine they kept even up to his death in early 1994. (TXF: "Beyond the Sea", "One Breath", "Quagmire") The same tradition would later influence Scully to name a pet dog she had in 1995 and 1996 as "Queequeg." (TXF: "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose", "Quagmire")
Every year, William Scully would insist on putting the angel on top of the family Christmas tree, himself. (TXF: "Christmas Carol") He routinely made Dana and one or more of his other children take the tree down, on the day immediately after Christmas. (TXF: "Beyond the Sea") In her childhood, he would put together World War II model planes with his sons, an activity that was watched by Dana on several occasions. (TXF: "Piper Maru")
When she was fourteen or about thirteen, Dana developed a guilty habit in which she would sneak out of her parents' house and smoke her mother's cigarettes because she knew that, if her father found out, he would "kill" her. (TXF: "Beyond the Sea", "Never Again")
- In "Beyond the Sea", this is said to have been a single event when Dana was fourteen but, in "Never Again", she claims it was a habit she developed when she was "thirteen or so".
Dana's father was stationed in San Diego when she was thirteen. (TXF: "Orison") By the time she was fourteen, William Scully and his family were living in a house that had at least two floors and a porch. (TXF: "Beyond the Sea") While the Scully family were living at Miramar Naval Air Station, William was a friend of Commander Christopher Johansen who, together with his son, also lived on the base, three doors away from the Scullys' residence. (TXF: "Piper Maru")
One autumn when Dana's brothers were showing her how to use a B.B. gun they had given her for her birthday, William Scully told the children only to shoot tin cans, at least one of which he himself placed down on a log, but the youngsters instead began shooting at a garter snake, causing it to bleed and eventually die. (TXF: "One Breath") William Scully always told Dana to respect nature, because it had no respect for her. (TXF: "Quagmire") He also told her that, during World War II, Navajo was the only code the Japanese had failed to break. (TXF: "Anasazi")
Along with his wife, he wanted Dana to choose medicine as a career. (TXF: "Beyond the Sea") When she was instead recruited out of medical school by the FBI, her parents thought it was an act of rebellion, an opinion they would hold until at least March 1992. (TXF: "Pilot") One night at Christmas, shortly prior to attending Quantico, Dana had a conversation with her sister, Melissa, in which she noted she could tell that their father certainly thought she was making a big mistake. Her sister, however, assured Dana that her life was her own and not her father's. (TXF: "Christmas Carol") William Scully ultimately didn't approve of Dana becoming an FBI agent and both he as well as his wife were disappointed in Dana's career choices.
- The scene in which Dana and Melissa discuss Quantico and mention their father is apparently shown in the form of a dream. The setting of the discussion and the actual conversation itself may therefore differ from historical events, if the discussion did even take place in the reality of the characters.
In early 1994, William Scully visited Dana at her apartment with his wife, Margaret. At one point, he inspected an angel atop a Christmas tree that Dana still had up and asked if she was intending on leaving the tree standing all year. After Dana replied positively and added that she was "making up for lost time" following his routine of making his children take their Christmas tree down on the day after Christmas, William Scully commented that, if her concept of a good time was to pick up dried pine needles, she should "treat yourself" but Margaret Scully teasingly implied that she didn't believe he was an authority on having a good time, a comment he took in good humor.
William Scully then made it clear to his wife that it was time for them leave, by stating, "Let's shove off," and Margaret consequently prepared to leave. William and Dana then said their goodbyes and, as he hugged his daughter, his wife gave him a prompting look, inspiring him to ask Dana, after their hug ended, how her work was and whether it was going well. After his daughter agreed that it was good, William Scully walked away with a smile on his face, to put on a coat and hat by the door as Dana told him and his wife to drive home carefully. He then followed his wife out of the apartment, with Scully lovingly wishing him "goodnight" as he left.
About an hour after William Scully's death, Dana awoke from having fallen asleep on her couch, to see her father sitting in a nearby chair, with strong light shining down on him. His mouth was moving but his words were inaudible. Dana spoke aloud in askance but she still did not hear her father's words and no answers came. Moments after she was startled by her phone beginning to ring, Dana looked back to the nearby chair to see that it was empty. She answered the phone to hear her mother tell her, in grief, that her father had died.
As a captain, William Scully was entitled to burial at Arlington with full ceremony. After his body was cremated, however, his funeral – at which his ashes were scattered in the sea by a man standing on the bow of a small, docked boat as "Beyond the Sea" played loudly in the background – was held at noon on a rainy, breezy day and was attended by only members of the Scully family, who watched from the shore under three black umbrellas. As they stood, Margaret Scully sadly explained to Dana that the small ceremony, with only family members present, was exactly what her husband had wanted for his funeral and recalled how he had proposed to her. Dana asked if her father had at all been proud of her, to which her mother replied, "He was your father." (TXF: "Beyond the Sea") Margaret would later admit that it was a long time before her daughters' father left her. For example, she saw him in her dreams and, when the phone would ring, she was sure, just for a moment, that it was his voice. (TXF: "Christmas Carol")
Identity Possibly Assumed by Luther Lee Boggs
When, soon after the funeral, Dana Scully visited death row prisoner and self-proclaimed psychic Luther Lee Boggs with Mulder, Boggs sang the first two lines of lyrics from "Beyond the Sea" as Scully prepared to leave the cell where they had questioned Boggs and follow Mulder, who was now outside the room and could neither hear nor see what was happening inside it. Scully turned back from the exit and saw her father sitting in the same place where Boggs had been, dressed in the same clothes he had been wearing. After she closed her eyes in shock at this sight and opened them again, she saw that Boggs seemed to be back to normal, but his tone of voice apparently now assumed that of William Scully's and he asked if she had received his message. After Scully left the room, Boggs was led from the cell, past her and Mulder, while singing more of "Beyond the Sea", influencing her to rush out.
Boggs claimed to be able to channel the souls of other people and, while Scully alone was later visiting him, he claimed to know who she wanted to talk to. After Scully – on the verge of crying – replied that she would believe Boggs' claims if he allowed her to talk to "him", Boggs seemed to go through a physical change in which he became her father, without Boggs' appearance changing, but he then apparently struggled to return to his own identity, refusing to let anyone talk to any of the souls he could seemingly channel until he got a deal to save him from the gas chamber.
Even though Boggs later told Scully that she would get her father's message if she returned to witness his own execution, Scully did not return. She explained to Mulder that she was afraid to believe and now doubted Boggs' claims, believing that visions of deceased loved ones were a common psychological phenomenon and that Boggs may have researched her father. She also told Mulder that she already knew what her father had wanted to tell her because he had been her father. (TXF: "Beyond the Sea")
Mentioned in an Attempt to Console
Later in 1994, moments after informing Lyle Parker that his father, Jim, was dead, Scully recalled that she had lost her own father recently and she was apparently about to add that she knew how overwhelming that experience was or could be, but Lyle interrupted her with questions about his own father. (TXF: "Shapes")
Role in Daughter's Recovery
While Dana was on the verge of death following her abduction and was recovering at Northeast Georgetown Medical Center in 1994, Margaret Scully recalled – during a meeting with Mulder, Melissa Scully and Doctor Daly – that she had, in the past year, lost her husband and stated that she now didn't want to lose her daughter.
Subsequently, William Scully apparently appeared to Dana for the third time when Dana had a vision of herself, lying on a table in a white dress with her eyes closed. Three of the four walls were white but one was a black void, through which William Scully walked, dressed in his uniform. After saying "hello" to her and telling her that it was her father, he told his daughter;
- "People would say to me, 'Life is short. Kids, they grow up fast, and, before you know it, it’s over.' I never listened. For me, life went at a proper pace. There were many rewards, until the moment that I knew, I understood that I would never see you again, my little girl. Then my life felt as if it had been the length of one breath, one heartbeat. I never knew how much I loved my daughter until I could never tell her. At that moment, I would have traded every medal, every commendation, every promotion for one more second with you. We’ll be together again, Starbuck. But not now. Soon."
He slowly turned and walked back into the void. In reality, his daughter, Dana, ultimately recovered. (TXF: "One Breath") She repeatedly encountered consequences of her abduction, however, including cancer that later went into remission. (TXF: "Memento Mori", "Redux II", et al.)
Further Posthumous Mentions
When, later in 1994, Dana Scully consulted FBI social worker Karen Kosseff about feeling vulnerable to fear of the evil she encountered in her work for the FBI, Kosseff admitted to being aware that Scully had lost her father, in the previous year, and suggested that exposures such as this incident as well as Scully's recent abduction could be the reason why she now felt vulnerable. (TXF: "Irresistible")
In 1995, Scully and Mulder visited a bar where they asked the male patrons for transportation to a location in the Atlantic Ocean where the USS Ardent had recently disappeared, an incident that the agents now intended to investigate. Scully commented to Mulder that her own father had never feared the ocean, even though he had spent the better part of his life at sea, and that the men in the bar seemed strangely afraid.
After Henry Trondheim offered to take them aboard his ship, the Zeal, Mulder felt unwell during the journey and – when Scully asked him, later in the journey, whether he was feeling any better – he remarked she was lucky that she had inherited her father's legs, a comment she did not completely understand until Mulder explained that he was referring to her father's sea legs. Scully smiled at the comment. (TXF: "Død Kalm")
When Mulder obtained the MJ documents from Kenneth Soona later in 1995, he was initially frustrated that the highly valuable information seemed to actually be gibberish but Scully immediately recognized it as Navajo and explained that her father had told her it had been the only code not broken by the Japanese, in the Second World War. (TXF: "Anasazi")
After Mulder went missing and was presumed dead while Scully was dismissed from the FBI for insubordination, she walked, at night, to her mother's house, where she tearfully professed to her mother that she had made a terrible mistake, remarking that her father would be extremely ashamed of her. (TXF: "The Blessing Way")
While the agents were exploring the Piper Maru, they came across a monitor showing a recording of the fuselage of a plane that Scully was able to identify, from the shape of the craft's canopy, as a North American P-51 Mustang, explaining that she used to watch her father and brothers put together World War II model planes as a kid.
She later traveled to Miramar Naval Air Station, to consult Commander Johannessen on the craft's presence, revealing to a male guard monitoring ingress and egress from the base that her father had been a friend of Johannessen and later stating, when she introduced herself to the commander, that her father had been Captain William Scully. Commander Johannessen initially claimed that he did not remember her and, even when she was about to leave, he asked her to say hello to her father for him. This prompted her to admit that she wished she could do so but that her father had passed away and Commander Johannessen politely replied that he was very sorry. (TXF: "Piper Maru")
In 1996, after the agents were shipwrecked aboard the Patricia Rae while searching for the mythological Big Blue, they were stranded on a rock in the middle of Heuvelmans Lake, where Scully admitted to Mulder that her father had repeatedly told her to respect nature and had read to her from Moby Dick. She also recalled their tradition of referring to each other using character names from that book and that she had named her recently deceased dog "Queequeg", to continue that tradition. (TXF: "Quagmire")
During a date with Ed Jerse in January 1997, Scully recounted that her father had been a Navy Captain, stating that she had worshipped and still did worship the sea that he had sailed on. She also revealed her childhood habit of secretly smoking her mother's cigarettes, having realized by this time that she had done so because she had known that her father would "kill" her if he had found out, and opined that her father had been the first of many authoritative or controlling figures who had entered her life, initially pleasing and satisfying her before she had later rebelled against them. (TXF: "Never Again")
Shortly after Dana and Margaret Scully arrived at a house where they would stay during Christmas of that year and where Bill Scully, Jr. was residing with his pregnant wife, Tara, Margaret Scully privately mentioned to her daughter, Dana, that she was thinking of how much she missed both Dana's sister, Melissa, who had been killed in 1995, as well as the sisters' father. (TXF: "Christmas Carol", "The Blessing Way") When Dana later tried to convince her mother of her belief that Emily Sim was a daughter whom Melissa had secretly had in 1994, Margaret privately divulged to her own remaining daughter that it had been a long time before her daughters' father had left her, drawing a comparison between Dana seeing Melissa in Emily Sim and her own connection to Dana's father after he had died. During a Christmas party with other guests shortly after, Margaret recalled to Dana, Bill and Tara that her husband had insisted, every year, on adding the angel to the top of the family Christmas tree, prompting Bill to jokingly refer to such a job as "man's work". Dana apparently had a dream, on Christmas morning, in which she seemingly recalled the night when she had spoken, with Melissa, about going to Quantico and her sister had advised that her life was not their father's. (TXF: "Christmas Carol")
In early 2000, Dana Scully mentioned to Mulder, while expressing to him the significance that the song "Don't Look Any Further" had for her, that her father had been stationed in San Diego when she had been thirteen. (TXF: "Orison")
Reappearance and Memory of Visitation
Later in 2000, Scully came across a small, empty Buddhist temple, where she had some kind of a vision. Among other people important in her life, she first saw her family at her father's funeral as well as her father himself, dressed in his uniform. (TXF: "all things")
In 2001, Special Agent Monica Reyes became puzzled that her FBI partner, John Doggett, had been in her apartment mere moments before he was found, having been shot, in an alley off Dillon Park, fourteen miles away from Reyes' apartment, where he no longer was. As they watched the unconscious Doggett from windows looking into his hospital room, Scully empathized with Reyes' confusion, remembering aloud how, in 1994, her father had passed away and how – on the same night, at the very moment it had happened – he had come to her. Scully admitted that she had fully come to terms with what she had seen, only in the last couple of years, and that she liked to believe that her father had come to say goodbye. Sincerely referring to Scully's vision as a "visitation" and "blessing", Reyes remarked that she thought that was wonderful. However, she claimed that the same phenomenon had not been what had happened to her. (TXF: "4-D")
The first page of the script of "Beyond the Sea" describes the character of Scully's father by stating, "Sixty-three years old, he is quite a handsome man. Although retired from the Navy for five years, he still holds himself as an officer." However, the character was played by Don Davis, who was only in his early fifties when he appeared in the role. In the filming of the scene from "Beyond the Sea" where Scully's father first appears to her, silently mouthing words, Davis was actually reciting the Lord's Prayer.
The title of the episode in which the character reappears during Dana's recovery, "One Breath", is taken from his soliloquy to his daughter in the same episode.
In both "Beyond the Sea" and the Season 3 episode "Piper Maru", Dana refers to her father as having held the Naval rank of captain. When he appears to her in a vision in "One Breath", however, he is actually shown wearing admiral stars.
The episode "all things" includes archive footage from "One Breath" to show William Scully in his uniform.
It is odd that – in the final episode of Season 8, "Existence" – Dana Scully informs Mulder that she intends to name her newborn baby son "William", after Mulder's father, when her own father also had this first name.
A scene written and filmed for "The Blessing Way" but ultimately deleted from the episode features Margaret, Dana and Melissa Scully. Before Melissa Scully's arrival in the scene, Margaret Scully tells Dana, "If you're really worried about what your father would think of you, I think he'd see that there was no right choice, and no wrong one. He would have been very proud and supportive of his daughter." Ignoring her mother's advice, Dana continues to argue that there had indeed been a right choice but that she had not made it, having instead gone with Mulder to New Mexico and let him go off by himself, although he had been in no condition.
Archive footage from "One Breath", showing Don Davis approaching Gillian Anderson – as she lies on a table, dressed in white – and greeting her in character as William Scully, was reused for a scene in "Memento Mori", mixing it with new footage of Gillian Anderson lying in a hospital bed, seemingly gazing toward Scully's visitor while looking deathly pale due to Scully's cancer, but this scene was also later edited out of the episode. In the scene, Scully awakens and thinks she sees her father next to her bed but then realizes it is actually her brother, William, Jr., who is described in the version of this scene from the episode's script, as, "He resembles their father in looks and bearing." As the siblings talk, William, Jr., a Navy officer like his father, mentions he is about to be assigned to NAS Miramar, describing it as "Dad's old stomping grounds" and not only referencing their father as one of many ghosts there but also the late Melissa Scully as another of the ghosts. After William, Jr. recounts that their mother and father had sent Dana to medical school, Dana recalls that, when their father had died, she had asked their mother about her decision to join the FBI and that their mother had claimed their father had forgiven Dana's choice, but William, Jr. bitterly replies, "Well, maybe not after what happened to Melissa."
In Chris Carter's audio commentary for this scene from The X-Files Season 4 DVD, he says, "This is a scene that calls back to an episode from Season 2 called 'One Breath' and it was where we go into Scully's mind and we see her have a reunion with her father. And we wanted to hearken back to that moment, because it would lead to a further part of the narrative of this episode that was also cut out, which was a reunion with her brother." Chris Carter finishes his commentary track for this scene by explaining that it was removed because the episode was originally overlong and had to be slightly shortened.
- The X-Files:
| William Scully • Margaret Scully • William Scully, Jr. • Melissa Scully|
Dana Scully • Charles Scully • Tara Scully • Matthew Scully • William Scully III