Dana Katherine Scully is one of the most popular and relevant television characters ever created. Portrayed by Gillian Anderson, Agent Scully was a medical doctor, an FBI agent, a Catholic, and a skeptic. She was smart, funny, and strong. She went on monster hunts, discussed scientific theories, performed autopsies, questioned her faith, and opened herself up to the possibilities even though she was afraid to believe.
Inspirational and empowering, simply put, Dana Scully is a pop culture icon. And over the course of eleven seasons, she’s had some pretty iconic lines. Honorable mentions are plentiful, from the sleeping bags to the lightsaber to Silent Night, but here are our top 10 Dana Scully lines.
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10 “I’m not gonna ask you if you just said what I think you just said”
It’s no secret that Darin Morgan wrote some of the best X-Files episodes, including the season three fan-favorite “War of Coprophages.” While Mulder is out in the field with an attractive bug expert named Bambi – yes, her name is Bambi – Scully is trying to get some rest at home. But when it appears that cockroaches are mortally attacking people, Mulder calls Scully to ask for advice. Unsurprised by his suggestion, but wanting to make sure he knows just how ludicrous it is, Scully replies:
“I’m not gonna ask you if you just said what I think you just said because I know it’s what you just said.”
It’s yet another one of those perfect Scully and Mulder exchanges that encapsulates what they’re all about. Plus, it can come in handy in a real-life conversation. Ohh, and honorable mention for his episode goes to “her name is Bambi”.
9 “The truth is out there, but so are lies.”
The season one mythology episode titled “E.B.E.” marked the first appearance of the conspiracy-nut trio known as The Lone Gunman, which is reason enough to make it one of our favorite mythology episodes, but there’s more. When Mulder and Scully get mixed up in a misinformation campaign orchestrated by the government, Mulder is quick to believe his trusted source Deep Throat. As expected, Scully is skeptical of their mysterious benefactor, especially when the UFO photo he provided them appears to be doctored. In her great wisdom, Scully reminds Mulder that:
“The truth is out there, but so are lies.”
It’s a simple enough line, but nonetheless incredibly powerful and relevant. It was true back in the conspiracy era of the 1990s and it’s true in this crazy world we live in today.
8 “I want you to do me a favor. It’s not negotiable.”
“Triangle” follows Mulder as he boards Queen Anne – a ship that resurfaced after having disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle – and ends up traveling back in time to 1939. There he encounters familiar faces, including Spender, Cigarette Smoking Man, and Scully – only they’re not exactly themselves, of course. Meanwhile, The Lone Gunman alert Scully of Mulder’s disappearance and she rushes through the J. Edgar Hoover Building in search of someone who can help her save her reckless partner. She ends up storming into the basement office, yelling this precious line at Spender:
“I want you to do me a favor. It’s not negotiable, either you do it, or I kill you. You understand?”
This episode is all about Scully being a force of nature from start to finish, and it’s perfectly reflected in this one awesome line that stuck with us all these years.
7 “‘Baby’ me and you’ll be peeing through a catheter.”
In yet another outstanding season six episode, the two-parter titled “Dreamland”, Mulder and an Area 51 Man in Black switch bodies Freaky Friday-style and hilarity ensues. While Mulder decides to take this opportunity to snoop around Area 51, Fletcher – the man occupying his body – sees this as a chance to take a break from his life. When Scully figures out what’s happening, she pulls a gun on Fletcher, who keeps calling her ‘baby’. Prompting Scully to utter this priceless gem:
‘Baby’ me and you’ll be peeing through a catheter.
The scene takes place in Mulder’s apartment and Fletcher had just handcuffed himself to the bed hoping to score, which makes this line all the more hilarious.
6 “Nothing happens in contradiction to nature,”
A major draw of the show was the skeptic/believer dynamic between the two agents. While Mulder will jump at the opportunity to investigate any case with a certain “paranormal bouquet” and readily believe in the existence of virtually anything, Scully will firmly insist that all the answers can be found in the realm of science. In the season four episode “Herrenvolk”, Scully explains why she puts so much faith in science:
Nothing happens in contradiction to nature, only in contradiction to what we know of it.
It’s such a beautiful line that shows how Scully is processing and reconciling what she’s seen over the years with her religious beliefs and her professional background. So, when Mulder gets too deep into the convoluted web of lies that surrounds them, Scully can always turn to science to determine the truth.
5 “I don’t have time for your convenient ignorance.”
In one of the series best two-parters, “Nisei” and “731”, we get to further explore the mythology of The X-Files. A video of an alien autopsy conducted by a group of Japanese scientists leads Scully closer to uncovering the truth about her abduction and causes Mulder to board a train that’s supposedly transporting an alien lifeform. In pursuit of answers, Scully consults Mulder’s informant, X. When he claims not to have the answers she’s looking for, Scully calls him out:
“I don’t have time for your convenient ignorance.”
At this point, Scully’s just about had it with all the red herrings, lies, obfuscations, and deceptions. And if you ever find yourself in a similar position, you now know the perfect thing to say.
4 “It wasn’t even real cream cheese, it was light cream cheese!”
There are so many great Scully lines in “Bad Blood” that we could have just posted the entire script. However, since that’s obviously not an option, we had to make the impossible choice and actually pick one, so we went with:
“You know, I haven’t eaten since 6:00 this morning, and all that was was a half a cream cheese bagel, and it wasn’t even real cream cheese, it was light cream cheese!”
You see, Scully has been working all day, she just arrived at the hotel and put the money in the ‘magic fingers’, but Mulder wants her to go do another autopsy. So, according to Mulder’s version of the story, she goes on a hilarious rapid-fire rant that includes complaining about light cream cheese. It’s hilarious, it’s relatable, and it’s memorable.
3 “SURE. FINE. WHATEVER.”
“Syzygy” is not an episode you’ll find on many people’s all-time-favorites list, though we believe it’s a bit underrated. Sure, it’s silly and portrays our beloved duo in a bad light, but it does have some pretty good comedic moments. And besides, the reason Mulder and Scully behaved the way they did is the effect of the eponymous Syzygy. But even if you can’t find it within yourself to enjoy this episode, you have to admit that the line Scully utters a couple of times in the episode:
“Sure. Fine. Whatever.”
is freaking hilarious. The catchphrase became an X-Files fan-favorite that made its way on various T-shirt designs. Plus, it’s highly quotable in real life situations.
2 “I want to remember how it was. I want to remember how it all was.”
The season eleven episode “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” went more meta that “Jose Chung’s Guide Through Outer Space” and that episode pretty much set the standard for meta comedy and commentary. Revolving around the so-called Mandela Effect, the episode saw Mulder and Scully grapple with the nature of their own childhood memories, like Scully’s childhood dessert, Goop-O A-B-C or is it Jell-O 1-2-3? When given the opportunity to taste the jello again, she passes it up, adding:
“I want to remember how it was. I want to remember how it all was.”
Obviously, this is about much more than Jell-o. Darrin Morgan appears to be talking to the fans, suggesting that The X-Files itself is a nostalgic memory that is best remembered as it was.
1 “Please explain to me the scientific nature of the whammy.”
One of the many things we love about The X-Files is the incredibly well-written dialogues between Mulder and Scully. Almost every single episode has at least one memorable line of dialogue that ends up etched on our memory forever. The season three episode “Pusher” has a few of these, but the most iconic one is spoken by Scully in a conversation with Mulder about Model’s supposed psychokinesis. When Mulder suggests that “Model psyched the guy out! He put the whammy on him!”, Scully – being Scully – deadpans:
“Please explain to me the scientific nature of the whammy.”
The way Gillian Anderson delivers this hilarious one-liner is nothing short of brilliant. The popularity of the “whammy” line is best observed in the multitude of gifs and memes that lurk online. Unfortunately, though, the scientific nature of the whammy still eludes us.