The Syndicate is a fictional "shadow government" group featured in The X-Files television show and feature film created by Chris Carter. They were also known as The Elders, The Consortium, and The Group. Because of their presiding over the cover-up of extraterrestrial life, they were the main force opposing the X-Files investigators, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, in the series. They were based upon the New World Order (conspiracy theory).
To carry out murder, cover-ups, sabotage and other wetworks projects, the Syndicate used an unknown number of henchmen commonly referred to as the Men in Black. The Men in Black were merciless protectors of the conspiracy whose true names, like the members of the Syndicate, were rarely if ever known. Many worked ostensibly for the FBI, CIA, NSA, and other government agencies. Prominent Men in Black agents included X, Alex Krycek, the Crew Cut Man, and Quiet Willy.
Most of their meetings were held in a clandestine club located on West 46th Street in New York City, and did not involve Strughold. Meetings involving Strughold, who was unable to enter the United States possibly because it would draw too much attention and his family background tied back to the Nazi-era, were held in London.
A possible front for the group, evidenced in the episode "Redux II", was a biotechnology firm called "Roush." "Roush" facilities were used in some experiments involving the virus, as showing in the Season 6 premiere "The Beginning". Also, according to Kurtzweil, when the takeover was to commence, which the Group had originally set to occur about the year 2012, the Syndicate would have seized control through FEMA, which has the power to suspend constitutional government upon declaration of a national emergency.
According to the Well-Manicured Man, who once described the Group to Scully as "a kind of consortium" that "represent[s] certain global interests," the Elders formed at the end of World War II, after Roswell, when German scientists, Victor Klemper being one of them, were brought to the U.S. to work on developing an alien-human hybrid.
Alvin Kurtzweil recounted that when he and Bill Mulder were young men in the military, they were recruited for a project that they were told was concerned with biological warfare.
Deep Throat claimed that it began after Roswell, when an ultrasecret conference of power brokers in the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, China, France, West Germany, and East Germany, signed a treaty that if an alien spacecraft crashed on Earth and the extraterrestrials survived, the country that held them would be responsible for their immediate extermination.
In any case, The Group likely formed after Roswell in 1947, early during the Cold War, as the men who formed the Consortium were in positions of power, or burgeoning power. Eventually they covertly banded together, split off of the body of government they worked for, and began to use their knowledge of extraterrestrial life to further their own purposes.
By the time Mulder and Scully were on the X-Files, most of the members were in their 50s, 60s, and 70s.
The original incarnation of the Syndicate sought to prevent this, developing in secret a vaccine, while pretending to work together in good faith with the Colonists, and also keeping all of this secret from the public eye. The Syndicates' Soviet counterparts, a separate rival conspiracy group, were planning on developing their own vaccine while sabotaging the Syndicate's efforts, which raised the stakes of the Cold War. By 1973, however, all attempts to create a vaccine for the Black Cancer had met with failure.
After that, the Syndicate decided to join forces with the Colonists, if only to stall for time. On the surface, they presented the Colonists with assistance in the creation of an alien-human hybrid, while covertly still working to develop a vaccine. They offered up their heirs as collateral, under the assurance that they would survive as hybrids. Unfortunately, in the years that followed, the Syndicate became corrupt, and some members, such as Bill Mulder, Alvin Kurtzweil, Deep Throat, and later the Well Manicured Man, grew disenchanted at the power plays, internal struggles, their selfish goals, and the ruthless tactics employed to ensure the secrecy of the conspiracy, as well as shape global politics.
In season 2, the Cigarette Smoking Man assigned MIB agent Alex Krycek to spy on Mulder. Deducing that Mulder’s FBI partner, Dana Scully, was a bigger problem than they realized, Krycek and the Cigarette Smoking Man arranged for Scully to be abducted. She was returned a few months later with no memory of where she had been. In the season 2 finale, "Anasazi", the Syndicate was sent into a panic when a computer hacker known as "The Thinker" downloaded the Majestic 12 files onto a digital tape and handed it over to Mulder. This prompted Bill Mulder, whose name was in the files, to come clean to his son about his involvement in the conspiracy. However, on orders from the Cigarette Smoking Man, he was killed by Krycek before he had the chance. The Thinker was killed later by a multinational black ops unit, called "GARNET."
At the start of season 3, the Elders made their first actual appearance. The Cigarette Smoking Man was under pressure from them to retrieve the DAT and contend with Scully, who was asking too many questions about her abduction. Krycek and his men were able to steal the DAT from Walter Skinner, but he and his fellow Man in Black, Luis Cardinal, failed to kill Scully, and accidentally killed her sister Melissa, instead. Determined to distance himself from the botched operation, the Cigarette Smoking Man attempted to eliminate Krycek with a car bomb. He survived, and with the DAT in his possession became a renegade agent.
In season 4, Krycek was working for the Russians. Using retired KGB assassin Vassily Peskow as his subordinate, he destroyed much of the Syndicate's Black Cancer research. Due to his failure to prevent this, the Elders (most of whom never liked Cigarette Smoking Man to begin with), began to have doubts as to whether he could effectively handle the security of the project. The Cigarette Smoking Man soon discovered that he had been taken "out of the loop" at the start of season 5, but it was too late, as the Consortium, or possibly the First Elder acting on his own, had decided to execute him and his proxy at the FBI, Section Chief Scott Blevins. Unbeknownst to them, Cigarette Smoking Man survived the attempt and fled to a remote part of Quebec.
Later on in season 5, it was discovered that the Russians had developed a vaccine against Purity/Black Cancer, although it was very weak. Krycek stole the vaccine, was subsequently captured, and forced to deliver it to the Well-Manicured Man. He was then welcomed back into the Syndicate as one of Well Manicured Man's MIB agents. It was also around this time that a group of alien rebels opposed to the Colonists emerged. The Well-Manicured Man saw this as a sign that resistance against the Colonists was possible, and suggested siding with the Rebels. He was overruled by the other Elders. Soon after, the Syndicate discovered that the Cigarette Smoking Man was still alive, and still needing his expertise, was brought back from the cold, both sides willing to forgive and forget, or so it seemed.
In the movie, the Elders learned that the Colonists had lied to them about the nature of the virus: Originally, they had thought that the "Black Cancer" (or "Black Oil") alien virus (which is a quasi-sentient alien life force) took over by absorbing itself into the host, and merely controlling its victim. However, it was revealed that this is only the first stage of the infection; the human body is then used as an incubator to gestate an independent mature "Gray alien" form, resulting in the death of the host; humans wouldn't live on as a slave race, they'd be used as cattle. Shocked by this knowledge, the Well-Manicured Man gave the vaccine to Mulder, then committed suicide, realizing that his life would be over once the Syndicate discovered what he had done.
Following this incident, the Group was assumed to have been effectively destroyed. Cigarette Smoking Man, however, continued to pursue his own interests, presumably having now lost any major rivals, with the possible exception being Strughold. By the end of season 7, however, Cigarette Smoking Man is wheelchair-bound and weakened by the effects of cancer, and is seemingly dispatched by Krycek.
With the old Syndicate eliminated, the power vacuum was eventually filled in season 8 by the New Syndicate. This new conspiracy group's members, who were all Super Soldiers, took over the old Syndicate's positions of power and followed their own agenda. As of the series finale, they are currently hunting down Mulder and Scully, who are now on the run.
This "New Syndicate" took the reins of the shadow government sometime after the old Syndicate was destroyed. Known members include their leader, Toothpick Man, Knowle Rohrer, Shannon McMahon, and Shadow Man. Krycek briefly worked for them until he was killed. As of the end of series, they were working towards their goal of re-colonizing Earth, set to be completed by December 22, 2012, according to secret information which Cigarette Smoking Man told Mulder at Mount Weather.