Earlier today, I took part in a special X-Men-related project which I can’t tell you about now, but I will tell you about later in the week (promise). That project got me thinking a lot about the X-Men and specifically about one of my all-time favourite takes on Marvel’s merry mutants – X-Men: The Animated Series!
Or just simply ‘X-Men‘ if you prefer.
Running from 1992 until 1997, X-Men was one of the best animated shows to crop up during the ’90s and to date remains one of the best animated shows period. Sure, the fifth and final season of the show was a bit crap (to say the least), but during the course of its run X-Men managed to clock up an impressive 76 episodes filled with mutant action!
But which are worth a watch?
Below I’ve ranked all 76 episodes of X-Men, starting from the worst and running all the way through to the best. You don’t have to agree with this list – I’m sure you have your own running order – but I do hope you’ll recognise that the worst episode is easily Jubilee’s Fairytale Theatre – a truly dire piece of television.
If we can agree on this then maybe we can agree on so much more.
X-Men: The Animated Series episodes ranked worst to best:
76) Jubilee’s Fairytale Theatre (Season 5)
An episode in which Jubilee recites a fairy tale involving the X-Men. Ugh… not only is this the worst episode of X-Men, this is also one of the worst pieces of television ever created. Seriously avoid at all costs as it has NO redeeming features whatsoever.
75) Have Yourself a Morlock Little X-Man (Season 4)
Oh look, it’s Jubilee again and what’s she doing this time? Forcing the X-Men and the sewer-dwelling Morlocks to enjoy Christmas, whether they want to or not. Oh, and Jean Grey and Gambit argue over cooking. If Christmas was like this every year then it would have been scrapped long ago.
74) Hidden Agendas (Season 5)
Pretty much every episode in the show’s fifth season was atrocious due to either shoddy story telling or terrible animation – Hidden Agendas is a prime example of both! The story focuses on the mutant, Cannonball but everything else about this episode is instantly forgettable.
73) Descent (Season 5)
Another Season Five episode, this time set during Victorian London where Dr. James Xavier and Dr. Nathaniel Essex come to blows. Yet again it’s a forgettable episode, only marginally worth watching for the backstory of Mr. Sinister.
72) The Fifth Horseman (Season 5)
Fabian Cortez and Apocalypse are the prime focus of The Fifth Horseman, but neither the story or the animation are anything spectacular. Apart from Apocalypse being pretty bad-ass as usual, this is a sub par outing for the iconic X-Men villain.
71) Graduation Day (Season 5)
The final episode of the entire series and it ranks in 71st place! What does that tell you about Graduation Day? Yep, it’s pretty rubbish. Professor Xavier is on death’s door and the X-Men and Magneto get together to say goodbye. A pretty dire way to end a great series.
70) Bloodlines (Season 5)
A Nightcrawler/Mystique episode which fills in the backstory to the teleporting mutant. Not terrible, just not particularly great. The fact that Nightcrawler barely featured in X-Men begs the question, why bother giving Nightcrawler a backstory?
69) A Deal with the Devil (Season 5)
The second full appearance of Omega Red in X-Men but is it really worth it? The story focuses on a submarine, with the X-Men roped in to save the world from nuclear destruction… or something like that. Remove the mutants from this story and this could be any episode from any cartoon. It’s shite – move on.
68) The Lotus and the Steel (Season 4)
The Silver Samurai vs Wolverine. The Lotus and the Steel is marginally better than all of the episodes listed above, but please don’t see this as an endorsement. Things improve from here on out, I promise.
67) Family Ties (Season 4)
A Magneto/Quicksilver/Scarlet Witch-centric episode which fills in a little more backstory on the X-Men’s most famous adversary.
66) Xavier Remembers (Season 4)
Professor Xavier takes on the Shadow King in a battle fought on the Astral Plane.
65) The Phalanx Covenant Part 1 (Season 5)
The first chapter in a two-part adaptation of The Phalanx Covenant. In this episode, Forge, the Beast, Warlock and Mr. Sinister team-up to fight a race of techno-organic aliens.
64) The Phalanx Covenant Part 2 (Season 5)
As above, only the concluding part.
63) Old Soldiers (Season 5)
One of the few Season 5 episodes that’s any good. Old Soldiers details Wolverine’s brush with Captain America in a story set during World War II.
62) Storm Front Part 1 (Season 5)
The first in a two-part Storm-centric tale which sees the weather-controlling mutant hooking up with an alien called Arkon.
61) Storm Front Part 2 (Season 5)
As above, only this is the concluding part.
60) X-Ternally Yours (Season 2)
Gambit takes centre stage for an adventure which adds a little backstory to his past, including details about an old family feud. It’s not great, but it at least gives Gambit some time in the spotlight.
59) Red Dawn (Season 2)
Omega Red is the villain, Colossus is the guest star, Jubilee is the lead X-Man (woman).
58) Nightcrawler (Season 3)
On a skiing trip to Germany, Gambit, Rogue and Wolverine cross paths with Nightcrawler. The episode is pretty middle of the road, but it is good to see Nightcrawler finally introduced into the series.
57) No Mutant is an Island (Season 3)
A coda to The Phoenix Saga storyline (see below). This episode deals with the passing of Jean Grey and introduces the Purple Man into the X-Men series.
56) Beauty & the Beast (Season 2)
A tale as old as time reworked for X-Men. To be honest, this isn’t an amazing episode, but it wins points for its ability to show a clear depiction of bigotry in a children’s animated series. Bravo.
55) Whatever It Takes (Season 2)
The Shadow King is creating no end of problems in Africa, causing Storm and her fellow X-Men to investigate.
54) Savage Land, Strange Heart Part 1 (Season 3)
Storm is once again the focus of this story, which sees the weather-controlling mutant kidnapped, taken to the Savage Land and brainwashed by Sauron. The episode ends on a pretty dramatic cliffhanger.
53) Savage Land, Strange Heart Part 2 (Season 3)
As above, but without the cliffhanger.
52) Cold Vengeance (Season 1)
Wolverine Vs. Sabretooth. ‘Nuff said.
51) Proteus Part 1 (Season 4)
The X-Men come face-to-face with Moira MacTaggert’s reality warping son, Proteus.
50) Proteus Part 2 (Season 4)
As above, but the concluding part.
49) Love in Vain (Season 4)
Rogue and Wolverine find themselves caught up in an alien invasion attempt by the Colony – an insectoid race. A creepy episode with an emotional twist in the tale for Rogue.
48) Longshot (Season 5)
The luck-empowered mutant, Longshot is on the run from Mojo causing him to cross paths with Jubilee.
47) Mojovision (Season 2)
Mojo turns the X-Men into TV stars – whether they want to be TV stars or not! The episode is filled with nods to classic shows, as well as a few Marvel cameos.
46) Out of the Past Part 1 (Season 3)
Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers set Wolverine firmly in their sights – only they don’t expect to contend with an alien adversary in the form of the Spirit Drinker.
45) Out of the Past Part 2 (Season 3)
As above, but the concluding part.
44) Secrets, Not Long Buried (Season 4)
Cyclops takes centre stage in a small-scale episode which sees the leader of the X-Men fighting to free a town caught in the grip of an oppressive mutant group.
43) Weapon X, Lies and Video Tape (Season 3)
Wolverine’s past becomes the focus of this episode, as Logan, Silver Fox, Maverick and Sabretooth all begin to suffer from mental breakdowns.
42) The Unstoppable Juggernaut (Season 1)
The Juggernaut smashes his way through the X-Mansion then causes havoc for the X-Men.
41) The Juggernaut Returns (Season 3)
The Juggernaut… er… returns, only this time he discovers he’s not the only one looking to wield the power of the crimson bands of Cyttorak.
40) Orphan’s End (Season 3)
Corsair arrives on Earth while being pursued by the Shi’Ar authorities.
39) Sanctuary Part 1 (Season 4)
Magneto gives all the mutants on Earth the opportunity to join him on Asteroid M, where they can live a life free from non-mutant interference. What could go wrong?
38) Sanctuary Part 2 (Season 4)
The concluding part to Sanctuary Part 1 (above).
37) Courage (Season 4)
Morph finally returns to the team, but is his return a little premature?
36) One Man’s Worth Part 1 (Season 4)
An interesting tale which explores Xavier’s role in history. Fitzroy is the villain; the time-displaced mutant known as Bishop is the guest star; and the fate of the world depends on one man.
35) One Man’s Worth Part 2 (Season 4)
The concluding part of One Man’s Worth, with a tear-inducing finale.
34) Deadly Reunions (Season 1)
Convinced he can help Sabretooth combat his inner demons, Professor Xavier brings the savage mutant to the X-Mansion – despite Wolverine’s protests. As it turns out, Wolverine is right to be cautious as Sabretooth turns on the team and puts Jubilee’s life in danger.
33) Repo Man (Season 2)
More Wolverine backstory, this time with the Canadian supergroup known as Alpha Flight taking centre stage.
32) Captive Hearts (Season 1)
The X-Men venture into the sewers where they encounter the Morlocks – a group of mutants shunned by society. Storm and the mutant known as Callisto battle it out for leadership of the Morlocks.
31) Cold Comfort (Season 3)
Iceman puts in his first and only appearance in X-Men, with X-Factor popping up too.
30) Obsession (Season 3)
Archangel returns with one goal in mind: To kill Apocalypse! Obsession is a great episode, which demonstrates just how much Archangel despises Apocalypse and the lengths he will go to for revenge.
29) The Cure (Season 1)
Rogue is led to believe that mutants can be ‘cured’ – only the cure is nothing more than a lie. Apocalypse is recruiting mutants to become his Horsemen and he will happily add Rogue to the list if he gets the opportunity.
28) Come the Apocalypse (Season 1)
The concluding part to The Cure. Apocalypse has his Horsemen, which includes Angel who is know operating under the guise of Archangel.
27) Slave Island (Season 1)
Gambit, Storm and Jubilee become slaves on the island of Genosha – a land where the Sentinels rule and where mutants are valued as a commodity and nothing more.
26) Phoenix Saga Part 1: Sacrifice (Season 3)
The iconic Phoenix Saga is adapted for the small screen with an episode that sees the X-Men head into space.
25) Phoenix Saga Part 2: The Dark Shroud (Season 3)
The Phoenix Saga continues with Professor X battling his inner demons.
24) Phoenix Saga Part 3: The Cry of the Banshee (Season 3)
The Phoenix Saga enters its third chapter, introducing Banshee along the way.
23) Phoenix Saga Part 4: The Starjammers (Season 3)
The X-Men find themselves back in space, crossing paths with the Starjammers in the process.
22) Phoenix Saga Part 5: Child of Light (Season 3)
The Phoenix Saga concludes with an epic showdown that culminates in the death of Jean Grey. A milestone in the X-Men series and in children’s animated shows in general.
21) ‘Till Death Do Us Part Part 1 (Season 2)
The second season of X-Men opens with Mr. Sinister, the Nasty Boys and Morph plotting to divide the X-Men.
20) ‘Till Death Do Us Part Part 2 (Season 2)
Mr. Sinister’s plot to divide the X-Men continues.
19) A Rogue’s Tale (Season 2)
Rogue’s origin is detailed in a story which explores her connection to Mystique and Ms. Marvel.
18) Night of the Sentinels Part 1 (Season 1)
Night of the Sentinels Part 1 is the opening episode of X-Men and it is a real doozy, introducing the concept of the X-Men, the threat of the Sentinels and the division between mutants and non-mutants alike. This episode would feature higher on this list if not for the fact that the series reached even greater heights from here on out.
17) Night of the Sentinels Part 2 (Season 1)
Night of the Sentinels concludes, cranking things up a notch with the revelation that Morph has died at the hands of the Sentinels. The first death in X-Men is met with genuine shock and it becomes clear this is a very different animated series to any show that has come before.
16) Enter Magneto (Season 1)
Three episodes into X-Men’s five-season run and Magneto makes his presence known. A genuine threat to the X-Men is introduced, signalling the arrival of one of Marvel’s greatest villains.
15) Time Fugitives Part 1 (Season 2)
The time-travelling mutants, Bishop and Cable travel from different points in the future, while a deadly plague begins to infect mutants in the present day. Bishop and Cable have two different and conflicting objectives, which causes the X-Men problems as they battle to secure a future for all mutant kind.
14) Time Fugitives Part 2 (Season 2)
The concluding part of Time Fugitives solves the problem set up in part one, ensuring the safety of the future.
13) Reunion Part 1 (Season 2)
X-Men’s second season begins to draw to a close, with the X-Men gearing up for a battle with Mr. Sinister in the Savage Land.
12) Reunion Part 2 (Season 2)
The X-Men, with the help of Magneto and the resurrected Morph, take down Mr. Sinister in a very strong finale to the show’s second season.
11) The Dark Phoenix Saga Part 1: Dazzled (Season 3)
The Dark Phoenix Saga kicks off with the introduction of Dazzler, the arrival of the Hellfire Club and the return of Jean Grey.
10) The Dark Phoenix Saga Part 2: The Inner Circle (Season 3)
The X-Men Vs. the Hellfire Club, with the psyche of Jean Grey up for grabs.
09) The Dark Phoenix Saga Part 3: The Dark Phoenix (Season 3)
Jean becomes full-on Dark Phoenix in an epic battle which puts her at odds with her former team mates.
08) The Dark Phoenix Saga Part 4: The Fate of the Phoenix (Season 3)
The Dark Phoenix Saga concludes as the epic Phoenix storyline finally comes to an end, with the X-Men and Jean Grey fighting for survival.
07) Beyond Good and Evil Part 1: The End of Time (Season 4)
This is one of the best storylines of the X-Men’s entire run as it sees Apocalypse team-up with a wealth of X-Men villains, including Mr. Sinister, Magneto and Sabretooth in a plot to rewrite history.
06) Beyond Good and Evil Part 2: Promise of Apocalypse (Season 4)
Beyond Good and Evil continues with the introduction of Psylocke and the kidnapping of Lillandra.
05) Beyond Good and Evil Part 3: The Lazarus Chamber (Season 4)
The X-Men travel back in time in order to stop Apocalypse from destroying the future. The stakes are high, but the action and plotting are even higher. This is X-Men at its best.
04) Beyond Good and Evil Part 4: End and Beginning (Season 4)
Beyond Good and Evil reaches its epic conclusion with the X-Men, Cable, Bishop and Magneto working together to stop Apocalypse once and for all.
03) Days of Future Past Part 1 (Season 1)
The iconic time-travelling storyline, Days of Future Past is adapted for the small screen with Bishop taking the spotlight in a plot that involves an assassination attempt and the threat of an apocalyptic future.
02) Days of Future Past Part 2 (Season 1)
Days of Future Past concludes with the X-Men locked in a battle with Mystique, while the future of the human race hangs in the balance. The episode climaxes with a fantastic cliffhanger.
01) The Final Decision (Season 1)
And finally, without doubt the best episode of X-Men! The X-Men and Magneto put aside their differences to face-off against Master Mold and the Sentinels to save humanity from enslavement, death and destruction. The Final Decision is the concluding episode of Season One and creates a fitting finale to a ground-breaking series, with an action-packed storyline.
So there we have it – 76 episodes of X-Men ranked for your viewing pleasure. Agree? Disagree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.