01/17/2002 at 01:00 AM EST
After nine seasons and 201 episodes, the Emmy-winning "The X-Files" is retiring its agents come this May. "I look at it as the ninth-inning situation," series creator Chris Carter, 44, told The Hollywood Reporter late Wednesday. "I'd rather go out now and celebrate rather than have to make an announcement in the summer." Part of the reason for the demise of the FOX show about investigations into the paranormal, according to industry observers, is the departure of original star David Duchovny, as well as stiffer Sunday competition on other networks. With the show's Nielsen ratings slide and its production costs approaching $4 million per episode, it was anticipated that the series would end its run this year. Carter told Variety that, although he had yet to broach the subject with the actor, he hoped Duchovny, 41, would return as special agent Fox Mulder for the two-part series finale opposite agent Dana Scully, played by Gillian Anderson, 33. (Duchovny, whose movie career has yet to catch fire, left the series last year after filing a lawsuit against the studio over his share of profit participation.) Once Duchovny departed, the show added new characters, played by Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish. Both Duchovny and Anderson, whose mutual off-screen antipathy was widely reported, are on board for a sequel to the 1998 "X-Files" feature, Carter told The Hollywood Reporter. "I want to be able to wrap things up for the fans who have been there from the beginning and throughout," the producer said. "My determination was to go out with a series of very, very strong episodes that are going to pull a lot of threads together from the last nine years."