For younger viewers wondering what the big deal is about the return of "The X-Files" to Fox (for a limited-series run beginning tonight, Jan. 24, 2016), it's hard to grasp how large the original 1993-2002 sci-fi drama loomed over pop culture two decades ago.

Not only did it give us TV's greatest duo in credulous alien-hunting FBI agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and his skeptical but loyal partner Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), but it also influenced everything from how serial TV shows interact with their fans to how they generate an over-arching "mythology" (a term "The X-Files" coined) to advance the show's series-long plot arcs. Most of all, the "X-Files" atmosphere of paranoia, conspiracy-mongering, and existential dread became the dominant storytelling mode at the turn of the millennium.

If you missed it, or if you want to go back and bone up before the reboot launches, you can stream the series on Netflix. But if you don't have time to binge-watch 200 episodes, you could just stick with these 10 standouts.
The X-Files
Based on 14 critics

In one of the longest-running science fiction series in network TV history, FBI special agents investigate unexplained, mind-bending cases known as "X-Files." Though the... Read More