The original series finale for The X-Files almost looked a whole lot different, and could’ve actually been a weirdly meta crossover with The West Wing. Seriously.
As fans likely already know, the season-nine finale “The Truth” ends with Mulder and Scully in a New Mexico hotel room, with Mulder noting that “maybe there’s hope” things can still turn out all right. For a series about long odds and battling alien conspiracies, it was a solid ending, offering up closure but not tying a bow on anything.
Well, things almost turned out very differently. The producers actually shot a different closing scene that would’ve seen the alien leader, played by Alan Dale, inform a U.S. President George W. Bush stand-in (Gary Newton) about Mulder’s escape. That scene, mercifully, died on the cutting-room floor.
But the original plan was even crazier. Before they went with the Newton-as-Bush idea, the producers had reached out to the team on The West Wing about potentially using their Oval Office set and having Martin Sheen appear as his character President Josiah Bartlet, who would receive the report about Mulder. Here’s how producer Frank Spotnitz explained the idea from a DVD commentary excerpt:
"We had hoped to use the West Wing's Oval Office set. And in fact, we'd even at one point considered asking Martin Sheen who played the president on the West Wing to do this scene, which would have been a nice sort of wink."
Regardless of which version they would’ve gone with, Spotnitz said he was relieved no version of that scene made it into the aired finale. He said the production team eventually decided the idea would’ve distracted from the emotional arc of Mulder and Scully in those final moments, and taken away from their journey.
We agree — and though it might’ve been a neat nod to have a West Wing cameo — it just comes off as a weird move for a finale already weighed down with so much mythology. Of course, thanks to Fox’s pending revival, we’ll get to stress about a whole new series finale soon. Yay?