special agent dana katherine scully, MD. from her title alone, it’s quite obvious that scully is a highly accomplished career woman, but credentials cannot begin to encapsulate all that makes her such a tremendously stirring and influential character. she is a woman in a field of work that is typically occupied by men and is constantly aware of her status and the sexism she faces. she stares into the crooked face of the male ego every day and dismisses it with the graceful click of her practical heels.
dana grew up in a tightknit catholic military family with two brothers and a sister. her mother, maggie was the picture of a perfect parent- caring, understanding, and always there for her kids. while she loves her brothers greatly, she was undeniably closest to her sister, melissa. the scully sisters were quite different in many ways- where dana is reserved and logical, melissa was a philosophical and extroverted. though their differences were clear, their relationship was incredibly strong. they looked to each other as safe havens, and each needed the other for balance. dana’s father, captain william scully, was a stern but loving man with high expectations which dana spent the entirety of her young life trying to meet and exceed. she did occasionally resent her father’s harsh rules and impossible standards, but she also used them as inspiration to achieve the goals she set for herself.
ultimately, dana focused on her love for the study of science, which led her to become a medical doctor. rather than practicing medicine, she chose to become a criminal pathologist, opening the opportunity to become a field agent for the fbi. much to her father’s dismay, she immediately chose to pursue the new career path that he considered dangerous and beneath her. she was assigned to a division known as the x-files, which investigates cases involving paranormal and unexplained phenomena. she was chosen because of her scientific background to debunk the work of the only agent in the division- fox mulder.
when dana knocked on the door of the basement office in the hoover building, she had no idea the changes she was letting into her life. inside that small, poorly-lit room sat the files and the man that would alter the course of her life irreparably. she walked in confidently, arms crossed and guard up as always. she looked to mulder, who scanned the spy who had come to shut down his life’s work. they shook hands, and the world did its very best not to stop. because of what they had both been through in their lives, trust came with time, but it took no time at all to realize that they were meant to be partners- in life, in death, and in the work to which they would dedicate the former and latter. it is practically impossible to talk about scully without talking about mulder because they are so beautifully intertwined- perfect opposites. dana has often been referred to as mulder’s “human credential”- the one thing that keeps him from simply floating away. the ambiguity of their relationship, although frustrating, is undoubtedly one of the factors that contributes to my opinion that theirs is easily one of the greatest fictional love stories of all time.
one of the most interesting facets of scully’s character is her trauma throughout the series and how she overcomes it. during the first season, her father passed away unexpectedly, which had a profound impact on her. she spoke about her fear that her father died still disappointed in her for her career choices, but dana’s mother did her best to assure her that wasn’t the case. another major event was her abduction. there was a man involved in a case they worked on who was convinced that he was being tested by aliens, and he essentially sent scully to save himself. she was missing for weeks, and mulder was utterly lost without her, despite having known her for only a short time. eventually, she was found in a coma and woke days later with no recollection of what had happened to her. she had several brutal encounters with some of the perpetrators they investigated throughout the years, but the tragedy that affected her most was likely the death of her sister, who was murdered by a hitman who thought she was dana. because the fate intended for her had taken away one of the people she loved most, she was overtaken by grief but rarely let it show. she instead chose to further dedicate herself to tearing down the corrupt establishment that caused her sister’s death. scully faced countless unimaginably painful trials- too many to list here. however, she always broke through with her courage, passion, and goodness in tact.
scully is easily one of the most influential women in television history, particularly in the genre of science fiction. there is even a phenomenon known as the “scully effect”, in which the character inspired a large population of women to pursue careers in STEM. though i wish i were, i am truthfully not very much like dana. however, the beauty of that is i still relate to her deeply on many levels, which i think is a testament to the impeccable writing and acting. she is a piece of fiction who will always mean more to me than just that, and i’m extremely grateful that gillian anderson brought her to life so beautifully.
dana scully mini playlist:
saturn- sleeping at last
a case of you- joni mitchell
pale blue eyes- the velvet underground
the scientist- coldplay
leather and lace- stevie nicks