The 20th Anniversary Of The X-MEN Animated Series

Arguably one of the best cartoon series ever based on a comic book character, we're approaching the 20th Anniversary of Fox's 90's animated X-Men series. We look back at some of the series' best moments and many, many cameos. Oh, and that intro!

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By RobGrizzly - 11/1/2012

There are a handful of animations that defined the childhood of many fanboys in the 90s. Spider-Man. Animaniacs. Darkwing Duck. All great, and for me, it doesn’t get better than Batman The Animated Series. But if there was ever a superhero cartoon to rival that show, it was X-Men.
The Fox series propelled the Marvel mutants into the mainstream, and probably remains the first exposure of these great characters for most people, even inspiring many to take a look at the comic books they came from.


I’ve sifted through it all, from season 1’s cool finale “Final Decision”, (Wolverine rips into a cave full of Sentinels in complete darkness) to the Quicksilver/Scarlet Witch-centric “Family Ties”. It’s confounding to think about all the mutant cameos and side-stories they’ve presented along the way- Like the entirely flashback-based origin of Nathaniel Essex, a.k.a. Mr. Sinister. I’m also stunned to find I didn’t like the Savage Land, thread as much as I remembered. (But I will defend the lackluster Colossus/Omega Red ep “Red Dawn” to the death, lol) Just like my Best of Batman TAS anniversary, I’ve pulled the 20 that I think are the best of this series.



20. Old Soldiers- More of an honorable mention than a full on entry, this episode is pretty wonky if you take another look. But there’s no denying the geek awesomeness of seeing Wolverine team up with Captain freaking America in WWII throwback ep.



19. Courage- Morph has to deal with his demons, as he tries to rejoin the X-Men. This is just a great character study more than anything. Morph has to face the very things that effectively killed him- the sentinels. He freezes in the face of them, and has to wonder if he’s utterly worthless.



18. Have Yourself a Morlock Little X-mas- It’s syrupy and sweet, and gets derided as an awful episode (No, “Jubilee’s Fairytale Theater” is far worse), but I think there is a lot to like. Seeing the X-Men celebrate the holidays was a refreshing break from much of the seriousness. It’s a typical ‘ill child’ cliché for the genre, but I like that Storm’s absence as leader of the Morlocks was brought up, and Logan learning to have faith.



17. Nightcrawler- Speaking of faith, this is another episode that made X-Men stand out from other cartoons. Dealing with religion directly, Wolverine, Gambit and Rogue happen across the pious Kurt Wagner while vacationing in Europe. Later on, “Bloodlines” revisits this, while also uncovering Nightcrawler’s origin with Mystique.



16. The Phoenix Saga (Part 3): Cry of the Banshee- I’ll confess that I think The Phoenix Saga is actually where the series started to lose me. Alien species and space crystals were all too much for my 10-year old brain. But the middle episode of the first arc has some great moments. Juggernaut , Tom Cassidy and Gladiator come to mind. This one is basically a kidnap story. Lilandra is in trouble.



15. Deadly Reunions- Jubilee babysits Sabertooth in the mansion. It’s a lucky thing Wolverine is there, because Creed easily gains the upper hand against the teen. “How come we’re fightin’ you’re old enemy, but we gotta go easy on mine?” This early ep marks Magneto and Professor X meeting for the first time in years. A great highlight features the scene where Rogue takes Cyclops’ powers.



14. Sanctuary (part 2)- If there is a best Gambit episode, forget that assassin’s rivalry down in the bayou. His highlight is Sanctuary, which is a complex story of diplomacy and treachery. Gambit is labeled traitor aboard Magneto’s Asteroid M. But the safe haven was really overthrown by Magneto’s close ally Fabian Cortez. We also get a peek at another of Xavier’s lost loves, Amelia.



13. Cold Comfort- Another one of my favorite X-Men is Ice Man. I liked the small parts of this ep that peek into the First Class days, and Bobby Drake’s particular beef with Cyclops. Makes Logan look like a boy scout! For more mutant mayhem, his team X-Factor is featured, including Havok, Wolfsbane, and Polaris.



12. Obsession- This is a very cool episode, where Archangel is determined to get revenge on Apocalypse for what he did to him. What I like here is how much Warren Worthington has changed, and how far he is willing to go to sate his anger. I also liked the A.I. that helps Beast thwart the situation. Never been an Apocalypse fan, but this is the most impressive you’ll see him on this show.



11. Time Fugitives (1 & 2)- This episode is kind of a sequel to Days of Future Past. Bishop goes back in time again to stop a plague, but doing so is destroying Cable’s timeline. This is a great conflicting twist. And yes, again, there is consistently great stuff with the mutant vs. public outcry. This time, it seems to be an allegory about AIDS hysteria.



10. Repo Man- The Canadian super-team Alpha Flight come to take Wolverine home. Through this episode, his backstory with Weapon X is revealed. I liked seeing his feral rage tamed by Heather Hudson. Because this ep was produced pre-Origins comics, I appreciate Repo Man for being the best and last existing proof that Wolverine was never born with the claws- the claws were put in him! That’s the whole point, people!



9. Dark Phoenix Saga (Part 1): Dazzled- First of all, Gambit takes Cyclops to a club! It is great to see the showbiz mutant Dazzler flirt with Scott. But it’s even cooler to see the Inner Circle vying for control of Phoenix, as well as each other. This starts the second half of the mega-arc. Leland, Shaw, Frost. The first step is making Jean think she’s someone else...



8. Till Death Do Us part (Part 1)- Scott and Jean get married, just as civil unrest escalates around the country. Former bigot Senator Kelly is now pro-mutant, so the public results to other means: The Friends of Humanity, an extremist group led by Greydon Creed. But the real fun is watching the newly resurrected Morph infiltrate the X-Men, and play them against each other.



7. One Man’s Worth (1 & 2)- The tale this episode mostly emulates is the Age of Apocalypse timeline, a scenario in which instead of a human leader being assassinated, it is mutant leader Charles Xavier who is killed. Bishop is back, with sister Shard. Eagle-eyed viewers will spot more than a few familiar faces in the background, and check it out, Wolverine and Storm are an item!



6. A Rogue’s Tale- Rogue’s backstory, from running away from home, to her time with mystique is chronicled. She’s my favorite X-Men character, so all of this is great to see, in an effectively dramatic episode. Her powers were taken from Ms. Marvel, who it turns out didn’t die from the permanent swap. It’s surprisingly emotional to see Jane Doe (Ms. Marvel hospitalized in a coma) cry about how her life force was stolen.



5. Cold Vengeance- Unable to take the sight of Jean and Scott together, Wolverine takes leave in Alaska, where he meets a tribe unfamiliar with mutants. Similar to the later ep “The Lotus and the Steel” it is great to see Logan’s peace disrupted by a hardcore enemy. But this is a stronger entry because his feud with Sabertooth reaches its glorious apex. "Let the ice be your tombstone! Here lies Wolverine, alone and defeated!"



4. The Cure- Rogue seeks help from Dr. Adler, who is also being targeted by Pyro, Avalanche, and the mysterious Cable. Apocalypse is also waiting in the shadows. I love this episode because of the question they make Rogue face about getting rid of her powers. Should someone change who they are if they could? Also, Cable has a fantastically bad ass fight with Angel early on.



3. Night of the Sentinels (Part 2)- The aftermath of Morph’s death weighs heavily on the team. Wolverine’s vengeful cry, “This one’s for you morph!!” is a memorable moment that adds a lot to the heart of the character. Surprisingly, the meat of this episode involves Beast captive, and being persecuted by the full extent of the law.



2. Beauty and the Beast- The best single episode of the show. The blind love story is quite poignant on a couple of levels. Mutant discrimination is front and center, as Beast suffers hatred from the father of his patient, a blind woman to whom he is restoring sight. There is also a great subplot where Wolverine infiltrates the friends of humanity.



1. Days of Future Past (1 & 2)- A great adaptation of a great X-Men story. The major change swaps time travelers; Shadowcat is replaced with Bishop, who I admit got on my nerves at first. The stronger episode is part 2, where the attempt to stop the assassination unfolds. Rogue and Mystique reunite, while Wolverine and Bishop have good banter. Gambit redeems himself, and it has my favorite final line cliffhanger ever: “My watch has been magnetized."


I get pretty nostalgic for the show. The muscle-bound designs, the amazing voice cast, and that killer intro theme. Sure the animation isn’t as polished as Evolution or Wolverine and the X-Men, but the storytelling blows them out of the water. Most X-Episodes were stories pulled straight from the comics, and for a kids show, the themes of prejudice and persecution are incredibly strong. Cartoons today don’t come close to this material.
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Minato - 11/1/2012, 10:38 PM
This article touches what would appear to be my heart.
Childhood memories abound... :)
Bane2099 - 11/2/2012, 12:31 AM
Any of the episodes that showed them in the future

Anyone remember the scene in One mans Worth where the X-men and other mutants are fighting a future version of The Avengers? :D
Jamesx51 - 11/2/2012, 2:09 AM
I loved this series as a kid... This got me into Marvel comics big time
CorndogBurglar - 11/2/2012, 3:28 AM
Its tough to pick because this was such a good show with so many good episodes.

I would have to say Night of the Sentinels parts one and two. They kicked off the entire series with a bang and with the death of an X-Man, it showed that this wasn't going to be like any animated series to come before it.

Also, Final Decision has to be up there. The best part being Magneto getting taken down by Sentinels made of plastic. It was so awesome to see him pull bolts and screws out of that battleship and completely shred a sentinel with them. Then, when the X-Men arrive, they find a beaten and bloody Mags lying unconscious. Kids shows just didnt show blood back then, so that was great. And then the teamup with Mags and the X-Men to defeat hundreds of Sentinels and Master Mold? Too good.

Thanks for this article, it brought back some good memories. :)
StrangerX - 11/2/2012, 8:51 AM
This and Spiderman were the best of the 90's cartoons
gambgel - 11/2/2012, 9:00 AM
such an iconic series.

Would wish there was a new one with today's quality and with all the classic x-men, villains and storyarcs.

Supposedly there is one in development, so lets hope it has more than two seasons
AlcoholicA - 11/2/2012, 9:02 AM
Sooo many good times. I'm possibly about to start a job that is shift work, and am thinking about acquiring and watching the entire show again during my weird hours where there's no one to interact with.
AlcoholicA - 11/2/2012, 9:03 AM
The X-Men anime was actually pretty good too, and it hinted towards more episodes, but I have no idea if it's happening.
CapnSquintyEyes - 11/2/2012, 9:09 AM
I rewatched the whole series a few years back. I think my childhood self completely blocked-out how terrible they made Colossus. I loved Beast though, probably why he remains one of my favorites to this day.
CaptainObvious - 11/2/2012, 9:09 AM
"They kicked off the entire series with a bang and with the death of an X-Man..."

Let's be honest. You are glad that X-Man died. Remembering his obnoxious laughing? I don't think I could sit through an entire show with that annoying anus.
marvel72 - 11/2/2012, 9:13 AM
definitely the best x-men cartoon,i liked the x-men anime as well.

best x-men animated shows

1.x-men animated series(90s)
2.wolverine & the x-men (should of got a second series)
3.x-men anime
4.x-men evolution
Kyos - 11/2/2012, 9:14 AM
Nice article! Loved this show when I was young, and rewatched it completely a few years ago.

@StrangerX

Batman TAS is still the very best though! ;)
MutantEquality - 11/2/2012, 9:37 AM
Wow. I've seen every single one of those episodes. FANTASTIC show. To bad the animation hasn't held up. This is what made the die hard Xmen fan I am today.

WHERE THE HE'LL IS MY XMEN ANIMATED MOVIE?
ComfortablyNumb - 11/2/2012, 9:37 AM
Great article. Reading this made me remember Saturday mornings as a kid again. My brother and I watched this and the other Marvel cartoons and Batman TAS like they were going out of style.
Giznad - 11/2/2012, 9:41 AM
Just my opinion, but "Come The Apocalypse" is the best single episode. It's chilling to think about biblical characters such as War, Death, Famine, and Pestilence being fought by the X-Men. "Who dares oppose the four horseman?" "The X-Men do, bub!" Best line ever. But Days of Future Past will always have me. It's great how close together that and Terminator 2 was at the time. Great stuff.
Giznad - 11/2/2012, 9:41 AM
Great article btw!
IIIAdamantiumIII - 11/2/2012, 9:42 AM
this is how the x-men films should have gone
DarthTesla - 11/2/2012, 9:58 AM
God this was the best cartoon ever. Nothing got me more pumped than sitting in front of the tv at 9 years old, and the theme song starts up. Good stuff.
Ha1frican - 11/2/2012, 10:09 AM
That theme song STILL gives me goose bumps and if they ever played it in a film i would have a nerdgasm. i never realized that the show was actually slightly older that me, this WAS my childhood alongside MMPR and BTAS
TheBeard - 11/2/2012, 10:24 AM
my favorite show as a kid
kholkaz - 11/2/2012, 10:26 AM
"There's nothing mutant about these", SKNIT.. a powerless Wolverine, Savage land episode...
DeadPoolLax - 11/2/2012, 10:37 AM
wow. 20 years!!! i remember that show all too well. it got me started on Marvel and comics in general. what a fantastic show. too bad no other x-men cartoon could live up to this one! they should try and do a show similiar to this one, with the style and characters and such. x-men evolution: FAIL. wolverine and the x-men: FAIL.

dont try and do something thats not like the comics.... we all like the comics.
CharlesLord - 11/2/2012, 10:48 AM
this makes me wanna have another marathon
DukeAcureds - 11/2/2012, 10:52 AM
FVCK YOU, FOX!!
Right? Right...? Anyone...?
hmm...
DukeAcureds - 11/2/2012, 10:54 AM
I would say 2nd best, though. Batman: TAS takes first place. Both in the '90s. Good decade.
NERO - 11/2/2012, 11:04 AM
Twenty years?! God I feel old. I was 13 when when this came out. Great show.
StephenStrange - 11/2/2012, 11:05 AM
I hated that show
GoILL - 11/2/2012, 12:03 PM
One of my favorites growing up along with Batman:The Animated Series and Spider-Man.
Gunjin - 11/2/2012, 12:22 PM
This series was a milestone in cartoon series. AND I'm pretty sure it was the first show to have that iconic "previously on" voice that Lost and other shows have subsequently been remembered for. Plus, that sweet guitar theme at the beginning. Nuff said!
chuckg313 - 11/2/2012, 12:37 PM
Wow 20 years! Loved that series....
chuckg313 - 11/2/2012, 12:44 PM
Think we should remember how important the series was for marvel in general.It was the most popular cartoon for a while in the 90s when comics were struggling, not many young kids read them and sales were horrible.That series got a lot of young kids into marvel along with people who never read a comics.That gave the studios enough confidence to do a big comic book movie which i believe is why we have so much to thankful for today
WesleyGibson - 11/2/2012, 1:12 PM
Neat article.
AlexDeLarge87 - 11/2/2012, 1:17 PM
Cold Vengeance is my favorite episode althought there is other great ones.
It really doesnt get better than seeing Wolverine and Sabretooth fight mano e mano. :)

Savage Land was pretty damn awesome also.

Batman TAS, X-Men and Spider-Man are definitely the best cartoon shows of 90s
NorseGod - 11/2/2012, 1:24 PM
They need to release the Spider-Man cartoon from the same time onto dvd like they did with these!
NorseGod - 11/2/2012, 1:26 PM
Also, why'd they have to change the artwork for the finle six episodes? With six episodes left you'd think they would just say let's stick with what we have been doing.
MasterApoc81 - 11/2/2012, 1:28 PM
you would think fox could least use these to make a great xmen movie lmao
Bane2099 - 11/2/2012, 1:40 PM
The way the battle scenes look on this show is how they should look in the X-Men films...

The closest we've gotten to an epic comic book battle scene is in The Avengers, especially the panoramic shot of each character fighting. Imagine seeing an X-men fight scene look like that on film as well, against the Brotherhood and Sentinels :]
dirtygymsocks - 11/2/2012, 2:17 PM
Great article!!! Great show!!!
RobGrizzly - 11/2/2012, 2:17 PM
Thanks everyone! This article was a lot of fun to put together just because it gave me an excuse to watch the show again- I'm a grown-ass man! lol
subzero1077 - 11/2/2012, 2:30 PM
X-Men TAS > Any of the X-Men movies
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