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X-Men: The Animated Series’ Top 20 Episodes, Ranked

X-Men: The Animated Series’ Top 20 Episodes, Ranked
X-Men: The Animated Series’ Top 20 Episodes, Ranked

To Disney+, my animated X-Men.

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On Wednesday, March 20, the mutants with attitude return to the small screen in X-Men ’97, Marvel’s sequel series to X-Men: The Animated Series, which ran for five seasons between October 1992 and September 1997. The original series was a smash hit, outperforming its fellow Fox Kids superhero show Batman: The Animated Series in the ratings despite its much smaller budget.

Like B:TASX:TAS challenged its young audience, delivering plots that touched on themes of prejudice, identity and belonging — topics not usually discussed in children’s programming. But it was not all doom and gloom for the mutants. The bright costumes, iconic voice acting and intense action also helped set the series apart from other Saturday morning cartoons, solidifying it as the defining take on the X-Men for an entire generation.

But that generation has grown up, and so have the X-Men. As the trailer teases, with mutant leader Charles Xavier gone, our heroes must chart a new path. The time-traveling mutant Bishop has joined the team full-time, Scott and Jean are expecting and Magneto now controls everything Xavier ever built.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves, before jumping ahead to 1997, let’s travel back to 1992 and relive some of the best episodes of the classic series. With only 20 spots on the list, some favorites will no doubt be left out, so be sure to comment below with your top adventures and any you think we missed.

First, Some Housekeeping: There is some debate on which order to watch X: TAS. We went with the Disney+ viewing order so everyone could enjoy the binge together. Similarly, when defining an episode, we went with those that have the same title according to Disney+. So “Beyond Good and Evil” is one episode (even though it is split into four parts), while “The Phoenix Saga” episodes, which each have their own subtitle, were treated as individual episodes. Finally, the credits for writer(s) and director(s) come from Previously on X-Men: The Making of the Animated Series by showrunner Eric Lewald. Lewald has stated that IMDb may have some errors in its credits, and what better source than that man who was in the room?

So what’s the hold-up, bub? Cyclops — and Jean, Beast, Wolverine, Rogue, Gambit, Storm, Jubilee and Xavier — are waiting for you….

HONORABLE MENTION: ‘Captive Hearts’ (Season 1, Episode 5)

X-Men Animated Series Ranked
X-Men Animated Series Ranked

Written by Marty Isenberg and Robert N. Skir ◆ Directed by Larry Houston

While not the strongest episode in terms of plot or character (if this were a full countdown, it would actually land at No. 47), “Captive Hearts” does hold a special place in X-Men: The Animated Series fans’ hearts as perhaps the most memed episode of them all — spawning both the Sad Wolverine and Wolverine Crush memes. In fact, the memes became so iconic that Marvel even used Sad Wolverine to announce the cast for X-Men ‘97. To its credit, the episode does give strong roots to the Cyclops/Jean/Wolverine love triangle and more space for exploring Storm’s claustrophobia, but it mishandles the Morlocks, turning what could be an insightful commentary on the tension between human-facing and “disfigured” mutants into an uncomfortable catfight over Cyclops that somehow ends in a lightsaber duel between Storm and the Morlock leader Callisto. Not even the comics could come up with something so ridiculous.

20. ‘Sanctuary’ (Parts 1 and 2) (Season 4, Episodes 3 and 4)

20. ‘Sanctuary’ (Parts 1 and 2) (Season 4, Episodes 3 and 4) 
20. ‘Sanctuary’ (Parts 1 and 2) (Season 4, Episodes 3 and 4)

Written by Steven Melching and David McDermott (Part 1) and Jeff Saylor (Part 2) ◆ Directed by Larry Houston

After being relegated to a secondary role in Season 2 and sitting out Season 3, Magneto returns in “Sanctuary,” which sees the Master of Magnetism recruiting settlers for Asteroid M, a new intergalactic homeland for his fellow mutants. The concept of a mutant nation has been explored many times in the comics, most recently in the Krakoan Age, and is often used as a backdrop to explore ideas and questions of nationhood, identity and belonging. “Sanctuary” is no exception, putting Xavier’s ideals of Homo superior/Homo sapien co-existence to the ultimate test by offering an alternative solution that does seem to work better, at least for a time. Unfortunately, Magento’s plan never fully blossoms, as fanatic Fabian Cortez (voiced impeccably by Jeff Max Nicholls) takes things too extreme. But while Asteroid M may have fallen, the dream of mutant independence lives on.

19. ‘The Dark Phoenix — Part III: The Dark Phoenix’ (Season 3, Episode 16)

19. ‘The Dark Phoenix — Part III: The Dark Phoenix’ (Season 3, Episode 16)
19. ‘The Dark Phoenix — Part III: The Dark Phoenix’ (Season 3, Episode 16)

Written by Larry Parr ◆ Directed by Larry Houston

Free from the control of the Inner Circle, Dark Phoenix now sets her sights on pure destruction. No match for her power, the X-Men rely on gadgets and their emotional connections to Jean to subdue the Phoenix. And as past episodes hinted, Logan’s love for Jean allows him to come the closest to breaking her free. “Please, if you truly love me don’t let her” Jean says in one of the most emotionally charged episodes of the entire series, begging Logan to kill her so the Phoenix cannot hurt anyone else. Wolverine of course can’t bring himself to lay the final blow, and the task falls to Xavier, who is able to use his psychokinesis to give Jean the strength to free herself from the intergalactic force. However, Phoenix’s power has caused others to take notice, including Doctor Strange, the Watcher, Thor, Eternity and the Shi’ar, who arrive on Earth and demand the execution of Jean to stop the Phoenix from reemerging, bringing it all full circle as the final chapter of the Phoenix saga approaches.

18. ‘Out of the Past’ (Parts 1 and 2) (Season 3, Episodes 1 and 2)

18. ‘Out of the Past’ (Parts 1 and 2) (Season 3, Episodes 1 and 2)
18. ‘Out of the Past’ (Parts 1 and 2) (Season 3, Episodes 1 and 2)

Written by Michael Edens (Part 1) and Len Wein (Part 2) ◆ Directed by Larry Houston

“Out of the Past” is a great example of X-Men: The Animated Series‘ ability to take character-focused stories and use them as a backdrop for a wider fan-favorite comic book storyline. In this case, Wolverine’s tragically failed romance with Yuriko Oyama/Lady Deathstrike provides the emotional momentum that propels the series to the start of the “Phoenix Saga.” “Out of the Past” gives viewers a proper origin for Wolverine, showcasing his more vulnerable side in his romantic relationship with Yuriko and his fatherly instincts toward Jubilee. By the time his episode arc is complete, the show is already teasing the Shi’ar and the Phoenix Force, leaving viewers emotionally satisfied while craving the next story. It’s all very well structured, reminiscent of the comic books that originally brought their heroes to life, which, at their best, craft a full story while opening the next door with a captivating cliffhanger. And “Coming Soon! The Phoenix Saga” is about as good of a cliffhanger as one can get when it comes to the X-Men.

17. ‘Lotus and Steel’ (Season 4, Episode 15)

17. ‘Lotus and Steel’ (Season 4, Episode 15)
17. ‘Lotus and Steel’ (Season 4, Episode 15)

Written by Ted Pedersen and Francis Moss ◆ Directed by Larry Houston

Suffering from the recent traumas of his battle with Proteus earlier in Season 4, as well as a disturbing road rage incident — on top of all the previous damage caused by Weapon X, Sabertooth and Omega Red — Wolverine decides to leave the X-Men and return to Japan, the one place he once found peace. But his time in Japan only leads to more fighting, this time with the Silver Samurai and his gang of bikers who hilariously ride their motorcycles like they are cavalry. The message of the episode is a little murky. After all, Wolverine leaves the X-Men because he does not like how angry and violent he is… only to return to the X-Men after using violence to defeat Silver Samurai. And while the monks whom he studies under argue that violence is warranted when defending the weak and innocent, it’s not like Wolverine was not doing that as an X-Man. Still, the series of flashbacks helps paint a very clear picture of Wolverine’s difficult past, summarizing his series-long arc and providing context for how he got to where he is. The use of Jubilee and the continuation of the father-daughter dynamic continue to work well for both heroes, resulting in one of the better character-centric episodes of the series.

16. ‘The Dark Phoenix — Part II: The Inner Circle’ (Season 3, Episode 15)

16. ‘The Dark Phoenix — Part II: The Inner Circle’ (Season 3, Episode 15)
16. ‘The Dark Phoenix — Part II: The Inner Circle’ (Season 3, Episode 15)

Written by Steven Levi ◆ Directed by Larry Houston 

All hope seems lost in this romantically tragic Part II of “The Dark Phoenix.” The X-Men are captured, Xavier is incapacitated and Scott is unable to free Jean’s mind from Wyngarde’s control, defeated in a Shakespearean duel that leaves him both heartbroken and at death’s door. But an elusive Wolverine jumps to the rescue and it is he, not Scott, who releases Jean from Wyngarde. However, with the Inner Circle outmaneuvered, the Dark Phoenix takes full control over Jean’s body, punishing Wyngarde by stealing away his powers of illusion to reveal a scared, small old man and releasing a destructive force unlike anything the X-Men have faced before.

15. ‘Red Dawn’ (Season 2, Episode 4)

15. ‘Red Dawn’ (Season 2, Episode 4)
15. ‘Red Dawn’ (Season 2, Episode 4)

Written by Francis Moss and Ted Pederson ◆ Directed by Larry Houston

After making his debut in Season 1, Colossus returns in this globe-spanning adventure, which sees the X-Men travel to Eastern Europe to stop the Russians and Omega Red from reforming the Soviet Union. Omega Red is a daunting threat with clear motivations and, unlike the earlier Season 2 episode of Shadow King vs. Storm, writers Ted Pederson and Francis Moss do a much better job of establishing Omega Red’s past with Wolverine — even dropping a Captain America Easter egg. But more than anything, the episode is paced extremely well, slowly building up the roster of characters facing off against Omega Red until we hit the grand finale that features nearly all the X-Men, Colossus and the Russian turncoat Darkstar, who Pederson and Moss find space for her own arc despite her limited screen time. It all feels like a grand epic, topped off by the heart Colossus brings to the series, making it all the more shameful that he is not on the main X-Men roster.

14. ‘The Phoenix Saga — Part I: Sacrifice’ (Season 3, Episode 3)

14. ‘The Phoenix Saga — Part I: Sacrifice’ (Season 3, Episode 3)
14. ‘The Phoenix Saga — Part I: Sacrifice’ (Season 3, Episode 3)

Written by Michael Edens ◆ Directed by Larry Houston

“Sacrifice” begins X-Men: The Animated Series‘ most ambitious project — retelling the iconic “Dark Phoenix Saga,” which sees Jean Grey corrupted by the cosmic Phoenix Force. The episode begins with Xavier having a strange vision of a battle between two alien spacecraft, prompting him to send his X-Men into space to investigate. Forced to use stealth to get onto the space shuttle rather than their usual brute force is a nice change of pace for the series, and, while Rogue is not present, it’s fun to see how each team member contributes to the infiltration of the space station. (The winning role goes to Jubilee, who is hilariously and intentionally left behind to play the role of the inquisitive teenager to make the space agency think that they dealt with the “threat.”) The team eventually makes it to space and confronts the alien Shi’ar soldier, Erik the Red, who is looking for the rebellious Lilandra Neramani. The last few minutes of the episode are full of tension knowing the story and Jean’s comic book fate, but it still works wonders — especially the final moments between Wolverine and Jean. It’s a great start to one of the greatest comic book stories ever told, inspiring confidence for the many episodes to come.

13. ‘Enter Magneto’ (Season 1, Episode 3)

13. ‘Enter Magneto’ (Season 1, Episode 3)
13. ‘Enter Magneto’ (Season 1, Episode 3)

Written by Jim Carlson and Terrence McDonnell ◆ Directed by Larry Houston

The first appearance by the Master of Magnetism, “Enter Magneto” hits all the notes for a satisfying introduction to the character. Best known as the X-Men’s arch nemesis, the series plays with audiences’ expectations by introducing him as a potential ally when he tries to rescue Beast from his prison in a display of mutant brotherhood. But this display of physical prowess quickly turns into a political debate, as Beast refuses to abandon his cell in the hopes of his trial showing that mutants pose no threat to humankind, while Magneto argues that Beast is naive and the humans will never give the mutants the peace they so desperately seek. A highlight of the series, the sequence quickly and clearly differentiates Magneto’s more radical ideology of Mutant liberation versus Xavier’s — and by extension, the X-Men’s — dream of Mutant/human coexistence. And while the series tones down Magneto’s backstory (no mention that Nazis killed his family) and boils down his complex philosophy compared to the comics, the results of Beast’s trial and hateful rhetoric towards mutants make it seem that, perhaps, Magneto was right.

12. ‘The Phoenix Saga Part V: Child of Light’ (Season 3, Episode 7)

12. ‘The Phoenix Saga Part V: Child of Light’ (Season 3, Episode 7)
12. ‘The Phoenix Saga Part V: Child of Light’ (Season 3, Episode 7)

Written by Mark Edward Edens ◆ Directed by Larry Houston

The final chapter in the “Phoenix Saga” finds the X-Men facing off against a terrifyingly powerful D’Ken, who has merged with the M’Kraan crystal and gained reality-warping powers. “Child of Light” truly captures the magnitude of D’Ken’s threat, showcasing him to be more powerful than the X-Men, Shi’ar Imperial Guard and Starjammers combined. Meanwhile, the ripple effects of his actions leave Earth’s remaining heroes — Alpha Flight, Sunfire, MjNari, War Machine and a quick cameo by Spider-Man — struggling to contain the damage, giving the conclusion of this saga the scale not seen before in the series. It is only with the power of Phoenix that D’Ken meets his maker. But as Jean is making the ultimate sacrifice, she makes clear that it is the courage, compassion and love of her teammates that give her the true strength to defeat the evil emperor. She dies not as the Phoenix, but as Jean. As an X-Man.

11. ‘Love in Vain’ (Season 3, Episode 19)

11. ‘Love in Vain’ (Season 3, Episode 19)
11. ‘Love in Vain’ (Season 3, Episode 19)

Written by Martha Moran ◆ Directed by Larry Houston

A mix of teenage melodrama and body horror, “Love in Vain” continues the tradition of strong Rogue-centric episodes. When childhood boyfriend Cody (who was last seen in a coma after kissing Rogue) reappears out of nowhere with the ability to touch Rogue, things seem amiss — especially considering the episode began with Wolverine confronting an alien race of Brood with Doctor Octopus arms. But everything connects when it is revealed that the Brood used Cody to lure Rogue to their ship so they could transform her into their new queen. Faced with a choice to be with Cody as a Brood or returning to a life where she is unable to form the deep, romantic bonds she so desperately desires, she chooses the latter. It’s not as tough a decision she had to make in “The Cure,” but it feels more tragic, as the Season 2 episode saw the hero decide on her own to keep her powers. Here, Rogue is given a taste of what “The Cure” could have given her, only for it — and Cody, whose transformation into a Brood remains irreversible — to be ripped away. And while Rogue can bask in the comfort of her team, she remains, as she always will be, alone.

10. ‘The Phalanx Covenant’ (Part 1 and 2) (Season 5, Episodes 1 and 2)

10. ‘The Phalanx Covenant’ (Part 1 and 2) (Season 5, Episodes 1 and 2)
10. ‘The Phalanx Covenant’ (Part 1 and 2) (Season 5, Episodes 1 and 2)

Written by Steve Melching and David McDermott ◆ Directed by Frank Squillace

When a techno-organic alien species known as the Phalanx starts infecting the world’s humans and imprisons the X-Men, Beast must assemble a ragtag group of heroes (and villains) to save the planet — including Forge, Mister Sinister, Amelia Voght, Magneto (sporting one sexy beard) and Warlock, the only peace-seeking member of the Phalanx. The unity of heroes and villains, X-Men and X-Factor, helps raise the stakes of the adventure, and putting the spotlight on more minor characters like Forge and Sinister — as well as great moments for Quicksilver and Banshee — gives this saga a fresh feel that makes it stand out from many of the other multi-episode outings.

9. ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ (Parts 1-4) (Season 4, Episodes 18-21)

9. ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ (Parts 1-4) (Season 4, Episodes 18-21)
9. ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ (Parts 1-4) (Season 4, Episodes 18-21)

Written by Steve Cuden (Part 1), Jan Strnad (Part 2), Michael Edens (Part 3) and Dean Stefan (Part 4) ◆ Directed by Larry Houston and Frank Squillace

Meant to serve as the series finale before the unexpected Season 5 renewal, “Beyond Good and Evil” really does feel like the end of the X-Men. Facing big bad Apocalypse, who wants to use the power of the universe’s psychic mutants to erase all of time, the four-part finale takes viewers down memory lane, looping in Cable, Bishop, Angel, the Shi’ar and Mister Sinister — as well as finally properly introducing fan-favorite Psylocke. It feels both like a movie, with its seemingly unconnected storylines seamlessly coming together for a climactic final clash between the mutants and Apocalypse, as well as a TV show, with its many callbacks and episode cliffhangers, walking a difficult tightrope that overall ends on its feet, standing proud. One almost wishes the series ended right here and now, allowing the X-Men to go out on the high note they deserved.

8. ‘The Phoenix Saga — Part IV: Starjammers’ (Season 3, Episode 6)

8. ‘The Phoenix Saga — Part IV: Starjammers’ (Season 3, Episode 6)
8. ‘The Phoenix Saga — Part IV: Starjammers’ (Season 3, Episode 6)

Written by Mark Edward Edens ◆ Directed by Lary Houston 

“The Phoenix Saga” reaches its penultimate conclusion in this space opera, which sees the X-Men attacked by the pirate Corsair — who steals the M’Kraan crystal and kidnaps Scott in an effort to kill D’Ken for murdering Corsair’s wife. But as Jean discovers just as Scott is taken, Corsair is the X-Men leader’s long-lost father. Hearing the two discuss familial bonds and sacrifice without knowing the truth behind their relationship is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, which makes their team-up at the end of the episode all the more satisfying. And while the series sets up the potential for them to learn the truth quite nicely — Corsair’s “I wouldn’t know [my children] if I saw them. Except I remember my oldest boy. He had his mother’s eyes.” is a killer — it must take a back seat after D’Ken finally gets his hands on the M’Kraan crystal, putting the entire universe at risk and setting up a personal and epic finale to one of the greatest X-Men stories ever told.

7. ‘The Dark Phoenix — Part IV: The Fate of the Phoenix’ (Season 3, Episode 17)

7. ‘The Dark Phoenix — Part IV: The Fate of the Phoenix’ (Season 3, Episode 17)
7. ‘The Dark Phoenix — Part IV: The Fate of the Phoenix’ (Season 3, Episode 17)

Written by Brooks Wachtel ◆ Directed by Larry Houston

“The Fate of the Phoenix” marks the end of the Phoenix storyline, which has echoed throughout the entirety of Season 3. And what a finale it is. Starting with a battle royale between the X-Men and the Shi’ar Imperial Guard for Jean’s life, the stakes have never been higher. As the X-Men fall one by one, it becomes clear that this is a hopeless battle, and it takes an even darker turn when, after witnessing Scott’s defeat, the Phoenix reemerges from Jean’s consciousness. Recognizing the danger she poses to the universe, Jean is able to take back control just for a moment to allow the Shi’ar to finish her off. But Jean’s sacrifice restores the Phoenix to its peaceful state, and it allows the X-Men to donate some of their life force to revive Jean. It’s all wrapped up a bit too tidily in a bow, but it’s full of great character moments — including Scott and Logan arguing over who will save Jean and the X-Men all coming together as a found family for one of their own. But what this episode does best — and what the series desperately needed — is finally sell the Scott and Jean relationship. For nearly three seasons, the series has been telling audiences that Scott and Jean are in love. But a quiet moment before the battle, a passionate kiss before their final stand and a tragic goodbye as Jean makes the ultimate sacrifice finally lets viewers see that love in action. And while some may advocate for Jean and Logan, “The Fate of the Phoenix” at last solidifies Scott and Jean as a couple worth rooting for.

6. ‘The Juggernaut Returns’ (Season 4, Episode 1)

6. ‘The Juggernaut Returns’ (Season 4, Episode 1)
6. ‘The Juggernaut Returns’ (Season 4, Episode 1)

Written by Julianne Klemm ◆ Directed by Larry Houston

The X-Men: The Animated Series version of the Juggernaut has always had a boisterous, unintentional hilarity to him — which reached its peak in the 2006 viral sensation I’M THE JUGGERNAUT, BITCH!. So it’s no surprise that “The Juggernaut Returns” is the funniest episode of Season 4 — from Cain driving the cab like it’s a clown car to inconsequential and aptly named Turbot Weiderspan (who steals Juggernaut’s powers for some of the episode, putting Cain’s life at risk) wondering aloud that maybe the reason the woman he is hitting on is not interested is because “maybe she talked to my mother.” But what is surprising is how the writers are able to balance this humor with a deep dive into the seemingly surface-level Juggernaut to reveal his troubled relationship with his father, who sent Cain away so he could win over Charles and, more importantly, Charle’s rich mother. Like the audience, this is also Charle’s first time learning of this, forcing him to confront his hatred and pity for his angry, sad and abused brother. In the end, Charles saves his brother, and Cain returns the favor by stopping his attack that started this whole thing, offering a glimmer of hope that these two brothers can, maybe, just maybe, find their way back to each other.

5. ‘The Cure’ (Season 1, Episode 9)

5. ‘The Cure’ (Season 1, Episode 9)
5. ‘The Cure’ (Season 1, Episode 9)

Written by Mark Edward Edens ◆ Directed by Larry Houston

Picking up after the events of “The Unstoppable Juggernaut,” “The Cure” reveals that Xavier has disappeared to a secret lab that is working on a serum that can “cure” the mutant gene. While nearly all the X-Men have no interest in such a cure, the news hits Rogue hard, as she is left with the choice of keeping her powers or finally being able to touch another human being without sending them to the hospital. It’s another crowded episode, with the formal introductions of Mystique (after a cameo in “Slave Island”), big bad Apocalypse, original X-Man Angel and Moira MacTaggert, as well as the return of Cable. But despite that, and the distractingly terrible accents of MacTaggert and Pyro, the episode leaves space for Rogue to deal with her conflicted feelings, presenting her with a choice that, while not having any wrong answers, does not seem to present any right ones either.

4. ‘The Final Decision’ (Season 1, Episode 13)

4. ‘The Final Decision’ (Season 1, Episode 13)
4. ‘The Final Decision’ (Season 1, Episode 13)

Written by Mark Edward Edens ◆ Directed by Larry Houston

The first season of X-Men: The Animated Series comes full circle in this Season 1 finale, which finds the X-Men teaming up with Magneto to stop Master Mold from taking over the world. From Cyclops refusing to leave anyone behind — after abandoning Beast and Morph back in the Season 1 premiere — to Xavier and Magneto working together to deliver the killing blow, “The Final Decision” weaves together Season 1’s various threads into a beautiful, action-packed tapestry. And while Senator Kelly’s turn to the light may seem a bit too tidy for today’s political climate, Scott and Jean’s upcoming nuptials and the introduction of Mister Sinister leave plenty of space for Season 2 to continue the magic that is X-Men: The Animated Series.

3. ‘No Mutant Is an Island’ (Season 3, Episode 8)

3. ‘No Mutant Is an Island’ (Season 3, Episode 8)
3. ‘No Mutant Is an Island’ (Season 3, Episode 8)

Written by Sandy Scesny (aka Dean Stefan) ◆ Directed by Larry Houston and Frank Squillace

Despite growing up as an orphan (and perhaps because of it), Scott has always been a father figure to the X-Men, whether it’s dealing with a grouchy Wolverine, a bickering Rogue and Gambit or an eccentric Beast. And while he has put up with a lot through three seasons, the death of Jean leaves him at his breaking point and he quits the team, looking for a new life that comes with less responsibility. He eventually finds his way to the orphanage and uncovers a plot by the Purple Man to use its mutant children to take over the state. With the help of his childhood best friend Sarah, Scott is able to defeat the Purple Man and save the children. But when faced with the opportunity to have it all — a school of mutant children of his own, the love of Sarah, a new life — he turns it down, unwilling to give up on the family that took him in when no one else would: the X-Men. And it turns out he made the right decision, as upon his return, he learns that Jean is alive, giving him another opportunity to build out the family he missed out on as a child.

2. ‘Cold Vengeance’ (Season 1, Episode 6)

2. ‘Cold Vengeance’ (Season 1, Episode 6)
2. ‘Cold Vengeance’ (Season 1, Episode 6)

Written by Michael Edens ◆ Directed by Larry Houston

Brokenhearted over Jean’s decision to be with Scott, Wolverine heads to his home country of Canada. There, he encounters a group of Inuit who take him in as one of their own, giving Logan that sense of happiness and peace that he’s been searching for all his life. However, his new life of tranquility is interrupted when Sabertooth attacks and destroys the village, putting everyone in it at risk. Despite not knowing the exact details of the rivalry between Sabertooth and Wolverine, the voice acting of Don Francks and Cal Dodd adds a great sense of weight to their past, making this showdown feel like a true culmination of events’ past. And even with all this action and drama — as well a subplot that sees Storm, Gambit and Jubilee head to Genosha to examine its reported Mutant acceptance — the episode still works in a heartbreaking moment where Wolverine discovers that the isolated Inuit never heard of Mutants, making the case that love and acceptance, not prejudice and hate, are humanity’s true nature.

1. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (Season 2, Episode 10)

1. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (Season 2, Episode 10)
1. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (Season 2, Episode 10)

Written by Stephanie Mathison ◆ Directed by Larry Houston

For nearly two seasons at this point, Beast has been a parody of himself: a gentle giant who tries to hide his beastly exterior behind an overtly calm demeanor and a plethora of Robert Frost and Fyodor Dostoevsky quotes. But in this tale of love, hate, bigotry and acceptance, we get a glimpse of the three-dimensional being he actually is. As he fights to save the love of his life — first with his intellect by curing her blindness and then with his physicality by saving her from the Friends of Humanity — we see him love, cry and scream with rage, as he is finally given the opportunity to drop the exhausting act and just be, even if it’s just for a moment. And that’s just the A plot! The episode also features Wolverine going undercover into the Friends of Humanity and discovering that its leader — Graydon Creed Jr — is the son of Sabertooth. “What are you looking at? I hate him! I am not like him!! I’m normal!” he howls with rage as an image of his father projects in the background, tying the two together — while simultaneously serving a foil to Hank — not by genetics or mutations but by actions.

What were your favorite episodes of X-Men: The Animated Series? And will you be “tuning in” for X-Men ’97 on Disney+?

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