The X-Files (1993–2018)
14 user 6 critic

Paper Hearts 

An incarcerated serial killer claims Mulder's sister was one of his many victims.


Rob Bowman


Chris Carter (created by), Vince Gilligan




Episode complete credited cast:
David Duchovny ... Fox Mulder
Gillian Anderson ... Dana Scully
Mitch Pileggi ... Walter Skinner
Tom Noonan ... John Lee Roche
Byrne Piven ... Robert Sparks
Rebecca Toolan ... Teena Mulder
Jane Perry ... Day Care Operator
Vanessa Morley ... Samantha Mulder
Edward Diaz Edward Diaz ... El Camino Owner
Paul Bittante Paul Bittante ... Local Cop
Carly McKillip ... Caitlin Ross


A particularly vivid dream leads Mulder to the burial site of a young girl who had been kidnapped and murdered years before. Mulder knows exactly who the murderer is, John Lee Roche whom Mulder an another FBI agent had arrested based in part on the psychological profile Mulder had prepared on him. Roche was convicted of 13 murders in all and Mulder always wondered if there might be more. The girl found as a result of his dream is number 14 and when they locate Roche's 'trophies' - hearts cuts out of the victims' clothing - they realize there are still two victims unaccounted for. The case takes an unexpected turn when Mulder's dreams suggests that Roche may have been involved in his sister Samantha's disappearance. Written by garykmcd

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TV-14 | See all certifications »






Release Date:

15 December 1996 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Did You Know?


Writer Vince Gilligan and Director Rob Bowman assert that David Duchovny's successful basketball shot was filmed in just one take--without special effects. See more »


Around 00:35:38, we can see marks of the wheels during tracking out on the wet ground. See more »


Mulder: Scully, do you believe that my sister Samantha was abducted by aliens? Have you ever believed that? No. So what do you think happened to her?
Scully: What are you saying you believe now?
Mulder: I don't know. I don't know what happened. I don't know what to believe. I just know that I have to find out now.
See more »


References The Magician (1973) See more »


The X-Files
Written by Mark Snow
Performed by John Beal
See more »

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User Reviews

Great episode but...
14 March 2016 | by david_hokey_16See all my reviews

So this was a good episode, but it wasn't without its flaws. Duchovny and Noonan do a great job with their roles, and the premise of the serial killer with the paper hearts - as well as Mulder's dreams about them - is good. Still, we have some issues. First of all, we are to believe that Mulder could possibly believe Samantha was kidnapped and murdered by this guy instead of abducted by aliens? The latter was practically confirmed to him by his informants and his own investigations. Furthermore, he went with one of the social security working aliens to a farm where alien clones of his sister - identical to her at the age she was taken - were being used to work by the alien/government alliance. This was explained to him. I doubt a few dreams could change all that. Second, we as viewers are supposed to be wondering was she or wasn't she. We have seen even more evidence than Mulder that she was abducted by aliens. It's outright stated that she was due to the syndicate. Mulder is known to make mistakes and act rashly due to his beliefs and his spirit but what he did in this episode was beyond stupid. So we have a good story, good performances, and some good suspense but it ultimately fails in writing due to what I described previously. And because of this the ending fails as well since we know that paper heart does not belong to Samantha Mulder.

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