The Doggett/Scully relationship is my favorite pairing on “The X-Files” because I enjoy watching mature, respectful, and realistic relationship pairings on TV. This almost never happens though so I allowed myself to fall in love with the potential and possibilities that the Doggett/Scully relationship could have brought to the series and to the development of both characters.
To make sure you understand. I know that Doggett and Scully did not hook up on the show. Yes, I like to come up with theories on how they could have been involved at any given point during the last two seasons, but I know the difference between the fun I have with the pairing and what actually happened, or in this case did not happen, on the show. What I saw in Doggett/Scully was an attraction of both characters to each other and that could have opened up many doors to make Doggett and Scully more layered characters in the last two seasons if the writers had explored the Doggett/Scully relationship to its full potential, romantic.
Also please note that in this essay I have compared the Mulder/Scully relationship to the Doggett/Scully relationship to help you better understand where I’m coming from in terms of why I think Doggett/Scully is the better relationship, the healthy relationship, for Scully to be in.
I like that there is nothing dishonest or insincere about the attraction, both mentally and physically, between Doggett and Scully, or the interaction between them. No moments were forced upon viewers to please a group of the viewing audience. Moments between them naturally happened, never once feeling as if TPTB were trying to force feed the relationship and the UST to the audience. I’ve never been a fan of any TV relationship which has been forced upon the viewers in an unnatural progression, or which has been created and brought forth because of a rabid (online) fan base. When relationships on TV happen because of those reasons they are not interesting to me and they feel awkward and out of place (like how the Mulder/Scully relationship felt to me, and the forced “UST” between Doggett and Reyes in season 9).
I’ll also note that I think Doggett and Scully make a very handsome couple. They look great together.
At the beginning of their relationship, Scully did not trust Doggett. She was suspicious of his intentions, but by the end of “Without” she was already comfortable to accept him holding her, protecting her, and comforting her in his arms. By the time he came to see her in the hospital (complete with a Get Well Soon card) and had accepted his assignment to the X-Files Division, she seemed lost, what to think of his dedication to find Mulder and his concern was just the beginning.
They may have started out on the wrong foot, but they quickly learned how similar they are to each other. Though some say that opposites attract studies have shown that lasting relationships happen between two people with similarities. I don’t think anyone can argue that Doggett and Scully are not similar to one another. They are both skeptics by heart, needing hard science and seeing things with their own eyes in order to believe the unbelievable. She understands how he feels dealing with X-Files cases and she’s willing and able to help him work through it. He sees her struggle to be like Mulder in his absence, going against her very nature and he doesn’t criticize her for it. He listens. He understands loss. He knows what she is going through. He’s been there before. When I think of Doggett/Scully I think of the following quote by Alphonse de Lamartine:
“Grief knits two hearts in closer bonds than happiness ever can; and common sufferings are far stronger links than common joys.”
If the writers had realized the potential in these two characters to just sit down and talk about their lives, their joys, their sufferings, I believe it would have strengthened the partnership, friendship, and relationship between them. Doggett and Scully share so much of the same grief in their lives. They’ve both lost children, and they’ve both been assigned to a career stopping division. She grew up on Navy bases, around the US military, he’s a Marine. I’m sure if the writers had put forth the effort to further develop both Doggett and Scully, we would have learned that they share much, much more.
Doggett accepts Scully for who she is and who she wants to be. He respects what she thinks and I think he even helps her to realize that it’s not healthy to try to be like Mulder when she tries to be just like him in order to try to solve cases. Doggett helps her to realize that she should and can be her own self. Unlike when she was with Mulder, she doesn’t feel like she has to change herself to be accepted or even liked by Doggett. Mulder tried to change who Scully was during their partnership and relationship, and in some ways he succeeded, but it’s Doggett who accepts her for who she is, and allows her to make decisions for herself. When Mulder returned Doggett saw that the relationship between Mulder and Scully was not a good one, he bit his tongue and did not tell her his thoughts about this. He allowed her to do what she wanted with her life, all the while keeping a protective eye on her. It broke his heart in the beginning of season 9 when Mulder ditched Scully (and her child) again because he saw it coming, and he wished he could take her pain away, but he knows that is a decision she needs to make on her own and all he can do is be her friend. The fact that Doggett accepts her for who she is and doesn’t try to change her is one reason why I think Doggett is a better man for Scully to be with. He accepts her and loves her for who she is.
We are shown on the series that Doggett and Scully have the same dreams and goals in their personal lives. In the season six episode “Dreamland”, Scully suggests to Mulder that she’d like to settle down, live a normal life:
SCULLY: Mulder, it's the dim hope of finding that proof that's kept us in this car, or one very much like it for more nights than I care to remember. Driving hundreds if not thousands of miles through neighborhoods and cities and towns where people are raising families and buying homes and playing with their kids and their dogs, and... in short, living their lives. While we - we - we just keep driving.
MULDER: What is your point?
SCULLY: Don't you ever just want to stop? Get out of the damn car? Settle down and live something approaching a normal life?
MULDER: This *is* a normal life.
Mulder pretty much tells her right there that he has no desire for the normal life that she described. Scully describes life in the suburbs, with a family, and buying a home. This is the life that she wants to live, not one where she’s out running around after government conspiracies, and later after “The Truth” going into hiding with Mulder because of his quest against the government cover-up. John Doggett has tasted that normal life, and I believe that he wants the same normal life that Scully described to Mulder. He has a house, and I’m sure he’d love to have a family someday with a woman who shares his values and whose personality matches his… Dana Scully.
The fact that Scully was taking the necessary steps in season 7 to conceive a child tells us that Scully was ready to give up the FBI, give up on living the life Mulder needs her to live with him. With a child she’d likely quit the FBI to be a mother, to start living that normal life, even if she still hadn’t found the right man to share that life with. The fact that Scully was all right with Mulder leaving her in season nine tells me that she’s ready to let him go, to end the relationship she had with him. She’s moved on, got over him, and is ready to find happiness with another. Ok, so she’s just found out she’s pregnant at the end of season 7, along comes season 8 which means along comes John Doggett.
Yes, Doggett is dedicated to his job, but he can separate his work from his personal life. He doesn’t make his job his life unlike Mulder. He had a wife and son, and seems to care for them very much. He has a difficult time letting go of that part of his life, which tells us he’s still very much a family man. He still desires to have a wife and children again one day. This explains why he became even more protective of Scully once he found out she was pregnant. He cared and loved her before, but after… you can tell he was treating her as well as he probably treated his wife when she was pregnant with Luke.
Doggett can offer Scully the life she wants: a loyal partner, a loving partner, a father for her child, a stable life, a house, security, protection, love, and a lifetime of good memories and happiness. A good family to raise her child in. Most importantly though is happiness.
Through seasons four through nine I don’t feel that Scully was sincerely happy, especially in the seasons in which she was involved with Mulder (7-9). When she was involved with him she seemed broken, as if she lost sight of herself. She sacrificed her life dreams to try to please Mulder and that hurt her, She seemed bored with him as if being with him was a difficult chore. She even seemed depressed. Yes, I’m talking about season 7 before Mulder was abducted. In season 8 when Mulder returned she seemed even unhappier. If she was in love with him, don’t you think she’d be happy that he was back? Any smile she gave him seemed forced and insincere, like she didn’t want him to know she was no longer in love with him. It was as if she felt obligated to be with him, be there for him and in the end he ditched her and her child to save his own ass with no concern for their well-being.
After Doggett had been around for a while, before Mulder’s return, Scully seemed to be finding herself again. Doggett helped her find who she is and who she wants to be for herself. He helped make her stronger and he even made her happier. She tried not to show it, but he helped her remember how to smile.
At the beginning of “Alone”, Scully gives Doggett the Apollo 11 key chain that Mulder gave her years before. To me, this is one of the biggest steps in the Doggett/Scully relationship. Scully is acknowledging how much Doggett means to her and she’s telling it to his face, and pulls him into a lingering hug. Up until this point I think Doggett was hesitant in consoling her physically, and the look on his face when she initiates that hug is priceless. He finally gets to hug her, let her feel how much he cares for her, and she was the one to initiate the physical contact. This wasn’t a professional gesture, it was personal and the way in which it was done was quiet, pensive, and intimate. A true step in their growing relationship.
The hug is the first time Scully acknowledges the potential for a loving relationship with Doggett. Again, the Doggett/Scully relationship is all about the unexplored possibilities and the incredible potential for romance between the two characters.
Doggett asks her if she plans to come back to work after she has her baby, and she gives him a little smile. The answer obviously being “no”. She’s ready to settle down and she knows very well that Mulder is not that kind of man, John Doggett is. That smile was a promise of something more between them. It wasn’t goodbye; it was the beginning of a new chapter in her life, the final exit from Mulder and his quest. It was the beginning of the new chapter of her life with her child and John Doggett as her friend and potential lover because let’s face it, there were hints of the attraction that Scully developed for Doggett before “Alone” ever aired, the first episode that comes to mind is “Medusa”, and that last scene in the hospital where she continues to check him out while discussing the closing details of the case.
I believe that if TPTB hadn’t felt pressure from the rabid online MSR shippers, that the Doggett/Scully relationship would have taken a very different direction in season 9 (as was foreshadowed in “Nothing Important Happened Today 1”, “Nothing Important Happened Today 2”, and “Daemonicus”).
In “Nothing Important Happened Today 1 & 2”, Doggett and Scully show a closeness we hadn’t seen in season 8. They call each other by their first names, and she is more than comfortable in front of him with her shirt unbuttoned (almost like a mirror of the “Medusa” scene where he’s comfortable enough with her to finish dressing with her in the room and his zipper undone). Scully is scared in these episodes, Mulder has abandoned her (again) and she is out to protect her emotions. She’s been hurt by Mulder (again). When Doggett tries to help her see reasons (he thinks Mulder leaving her was wrong), she asks him to leave her apartment and never come back. Doggett does as she asks and leaves with the saddest eyes you’ll ever see. Now… the moment her child starts showing signs that it’s not normal, who does she call first? You guessed it, John Doggett. Monica Reyes – the believer – answers the phone, but Scully still feels more comfortable talking to Doggett than with her, and she may have even wanted to talk to Doggett since I’m sure she felt bad about their disagreement earlier. She’s reaching out to him, wanting him back, needing his protection and love, and he doesn’t hesitate to come to her aid. He’s just as dedicated to finding out the truth about her son as she is. He’s not going to give up on her and he’s not going to ditch her. He’s there for her, always. He holds her hand as they run off the ship before it explodes. To me that is a very sweet gesture, and one that doesn’t just happen between two people who do not love each other.
“Daemonicus” is the episode we are told that Doggett loves Scully. For all the nay Sayers there is proof, it is stated. Doggett has feelings for Scully. Kobold was able to tap into Doggett’s mind and know his thoughts, his insecurities. We find out Doggett compares himself to Mulder, thinks he’s too good-looking, and that he can’t compete with him for Scully’s affections. He remained assigned to the X-Files Division because of his feelings and his love for Scully; he doesn’t want to let her down by leaving the assignment.
Doggett gets upset that Kobold was able to know these things and when Scully and Monica ask what Kobold said to him, Doggett doesn’t tell them. He doesn’t want Scully to know his feelings for her because he still thinks that Mulder is everything to her. He also doesn’t want her to know his insecurities about himself in comparison to Mulder. He doesn’t want her to know that he loves her. He respects her relationship with Mulder and her decision to be with Mulder even though Mulder’s not around and he (Doggett) doesn’t agree with that decision.
Respect. John Doggett has so much respect for Scully. In the beginning he listened to what she had to say, he didn’t agree with her, but he respected her enough to not belittle her or her opinions. He respectfully argued points with her. He was never so arrogant to say that he was always right and she was wrong. He called her the expert, and he admired her. Even when his feelings for her grew to love, he stood down. He didn’t try to come between her and Mulder (though, wouldn’t that have been interesting to see?). He respected her choice and her relationship with him. He saw that Mulder didn’t treat Scully right; he subtly showed he didn’t approve, but he never once tried to impose himself on her.
Scully showed Doggett respect as well. Unlike how Mulder was with her at the office, Scully welcomed Doggett as her partner, and despite she never received a desk or nameplate of her own, she arranged for Doggett to have his own desk, something Mulder never did for her. She didn’t claim the basement office as her own or hers and Mulder’s, she made the office for herself and Doggett. This showed the respect that she had for Doggett upon his reassignment to the X-Files Division. Scully respected Doggett’s approach to their cases, his theories, and what he had to say. Without this respect that they showed each other, there would be nothing in which to base the potential of their relationship.
Trust. At the beginning of season 8 Scully did not trust Doggett and she had every right not to. For years she and Mulder had learned to trust no one but each other, and now all she had was herself. Doggett’s approach to finding out information on Mulder was the wrong approach (Within) if he had known her better he never would have engaged in small talk about Mulder confiding in other women at the Bureau. He would have been more sensitive to her feelings. This is why she initially did not trust him. However as time went on, he kept on proving himself to be very trustworthy and she began to trust him as much as she had trusted Mulder. So much that she let him decide where she should go to give birth to her child, a place he believed would be safe and with one person he thought could protect her.
Trust goes both ways, I think the best example of Doggett’s trust in Scully is in season 9’s “Underneath” and “Release”.
Doggett is faced with the fact that a man he put away is now being set free (the Screwdriver Killer). This was the biggest case he ever worked up in New York. Instead of calling in his assigned partner, Monica Reyes, he calls in Dana Scully when the news breaks that the guy is being set free. He trusts Scully with something that is very important to him. He even has Scully come up to New York with him to assist him in digging through old files related to the Fassle case. She’s sensitive to his feelings regarding the case and speaks to him delicately when she suggests evidence may have been planted (and one can’t help but notice how impressed and interested she got when she read that he was the arresting officer). Just imagine what his reaction would have been like if it had been Monica to suggest evidence was planted. He wouldn’t have handled it well and probably would have said something mean to her. But with Scully, he pauses, considers what she said, and turns to face her and speaks to her calmly as he listens to what she has to say.
That scene in “Underneath” is another one of those defining moments in the Doggett/Scully relationship. It shows us so much care, trust and respect between the two of them - never mind the UST that oozed in the space between them (how many times did Scully gaze longingly at his lips in that scene?) – and the way he looks at her and how close their faces are to each other… natural UST on TV has never been so easy to spot.
The UST between Doggett and Scully began in the episode “Patience” (season 8). The body language between them was all about attracting the other. Standing, looking at each other with their hands on their hips suggests a readiness to take things further (check out this page for more on body language), Doggett turns his body toward hers when sitting in the car during their stakeout, yet another sign that he’s interested. Scully is also turned toward him in the same manner. Their third episode together and already the attraction is evident.
When they are talking to Ernie Stefaniuk they are standing side-by-side, exchanging looks, their hands on their hips, slightly turned toward each other. The tension between them continued to increase during the rest of season and season 9. “Roadrunners” definitely stands out in my mind. Who can forget the sexual undertones of that rescue scene? His hand on her bare flesh, carrying her onto the bus, cutting that slug out of her back, wrapping his jacket around her shoulders and lifting her weak body and carrying her out to safety as the police arrive. The sexual undertones in that episode cannot be coincidental, they were intentional. In an original version of the script Doggett calls her “baby”: “Gone in sixty seconds, baby”, but in the actual aired episode he says, “Gone in sixty seconds, Jack”. Perhaps calling her “baby” was too in-your-face and TPTB didn’t want to jump start the Doggett/Scully relationship so soon in their partnership so they decided to go with “Jack” instead of “baby”. Which, as a dipper, I think was a good call.
In “Medusa”, they lean toward one another as he hooks up visual and audio after changing into Kevlar, more lip gazing and soft voices. She checks him out when he accidentally (or was it on purpose?) turns around in an open-back hospital gown and walks toward a curtain to get dressed. And after that Scully can’t keep her mind off of the word “butt”, she grins a bit when she tells him: “But they've got you to thank. And not just for saving their butts.” That’s another subtle way that the writer showed us that Scully does find Doggett attractive. His comfort in coming out from behind the curtain, not completely dressed, zipping up his pants in front of her, man! And I’ll never forget the moment Scully said to him “Let’s go home”. It seemed like she was suggesting they go home together (and who would blame her for wanting to spend more off-the-clock time with a man like that?). I watched “Medusa” with a friend who doesn’t ‘ship anything on the show and even she turned to me with wide eyes when Scully said “Let’s go home”, she saw what was happening and she didn’t care about relationships on the show at all.
In season 9 the UST moments between them suggest a lot more was going on than what we were being shown. Their interactions were more intimate, they spent an awful lot of time together for no longer being assigned as partners, and there was the way Scully checked Doggett over in “Sunshine Days” after he had fallen down from the ceiling. She saw that he was all right, but she decided to give him attention by gently touching his head, rather than gawking at the interior of the Brady Bunch house as Monica did.
Not only is there physical attraction, but Doggett and Scully also stimulate each other’s minds. Kersh told Doggett in season 8 that since he joined the X-Files Division he and Scully had a higher arrest average than she and Mulder did in their seven years together. This is proof that Doggett and Scully work well together, they get along. They work so well that their partnership outshines that of Mulder and Scully. This is because they work well together, bouncing ideas off each other, they challenge each other intellectually. This is accomplished because they take the time to listen to each other, respect each other and work out cases together. They treat each other as equals and because of that equality they are able to communicate ideas and theories better. They share the common background of being skeptical and approaching cases like meat-and-potatoes cop work, and with hard science. They are both grounded in reality, he a skeptic, she a new believer and their similarities and differences allow them to stimulate each other’s mind while at work. Smart is sexy. Doggett and Scully are a smart team, a sexy team.
When I first started watching “The X-Files” I was a Mulder/Scully shipper. What appealed to me in their early interactions was the potential, the natural chemistry. I liked Mulder/Scully best before Chris Carter started to use it as a gimmick to keep shippers interested in watching the show. I love old-school Mulder/Scully, the way they looked at each other, the touches, very loving without being fake or forced upon the viewers.
I see that same type of interaction between Doggett and Scully. In ways their looks and touches are like how the Mulder/Scully relationship began, only with Doggett and Scully you know that a relationship would have worked out between them in a healthy manner unlike what happened to Mulder and Scully once they hooked up.
In seasons 8 and 9 we see that Doggett holds Scully as his highest priority. Unlike Mulder he will never hold aliens, lost siblings, government conspiracies or himself as a higher priority than Scully. That fact proves to us that realistically a successful and loving relationship is most likely to come from Doggett and Scully, rather than Mulder and Scully. Opposites may attract, but a relationship in which the two people share common interests and outlook on life, those are the relationships that will stand the test of time.
If TPTB had had the guts to follow through with what they started between Doggett and Scully, they would have had the opportunity to further explore both characters. With Doggett/Scully (DSR) we’d learn new things about Scully that we never would have known, and we would have gotten to know Doggett even more as well. This would have worked so well near the end of the series. Through the Doggett/Scully relationship we would have gotten so much more. We would have so much more character development, avenues that had never been explored and will never be explored (unless you read the right fan fiction).
When TPTB decided to cater to the Mulder/Scully shippers, true fans lost so much. I personally would have loved to have watched Scully realize her relationship with Mulder was not a healthy one, and to see her come to the realization she loves Doggett would have been very hopeful and uplifting. Rather we were left to watch her mope and be unhappy with Mulder. We could have seen Doggett rediscover love, giving and receiving it after so many years of heartache (divorce and the loss of his son).
Doggett and Scully entering into a relationship together would be a moral that despite all the heartache and disappointment in life and relationships, there’s someone out there who can and will make you happy and accept you for who you are. And having a Doggett/Scully relationship would again make “The X-Files” unique. It would have been one of the few shows to actually acknowledge a bad relationship and have the character go after a healthy relationship. It would show women that you don’t have to stay in a relationship in which the man doesn’t treat you right, to be brave and aim for something good. Scully, to me, was a strong female role model. That was until she got herself trapped in that unhealthy relationship and didn’t even try to get out of it to go for something that would make her truly happy. If she had wound up with John Doggett, that would be the perfect way to close out her character… with strength, happiness and a future full of hope.
Unfortunately TV viewers prefer to watch dysfunctional relationships and idealize them.
In closing I’d like to reiterate that I support mature, respectful and realistic relationships in TV shows. To me, the potential Doggett and Scully have together defines what I like in relationships I enjoy on TV, and I can say in all seriousness that healthy relationships are a rare thing to find in entertainment. I find that disappointing and a sad fact of what our society would like to entertain themselves with. I would much rather watch a happy couple work through what life deals to them instead of a dysfunctional couple. I think TV needs to reevaluate some of the relationships they portray on TV programs to set better examples for younger viewers who grow up liking something that is not necessarily a good example for them.
Yes, the relationships with problems are typically the most popular because they cause drama, but that doesn’t mean they should be regarded as ideal. To me, everything about the Doggett/Scully relationship is heartwarming and hopeful. And in a world in which the media and Hollywood is so focused on the negative, we need a relationship like the potential Doggett/Scully relationship to be shown more often.
I know I’ve left out some things that will come to my mind if anyone reads this and mentions anything I haven’t. I wrote this late at night and just poured out my thoughts.
Thank you for reading. I hope you better understand why I like and support the Doggett/Scully relationship. It’s all about the unexplored potential between the two characters.