The Worst & Best Episode Of Every X-Men: The Animated Series Season 

  • X-Men: The Animated Series had standout episodes like "Days of Future Past," showcasing thrilling action and gripping narratives.
  • Some episodes, like "Captive Hearts," struggled to match the dynamism and quality of the majority, hindering the overall impact.
  • Season finales like "Graduation Day" provided poignant conclusions, offering closure to character arcs and thematic narratives.
X-Men: The Animated Series featured many great episodes throughout its legendary run, though some episodes were notably less effective. The acclaimed Marvel cartoon boasted 76 episodes across five thrilling seasons. Among these, the very strongest X-Men: The Animated Series episodes helped cultivate an impressive reputation that led to a triumphant revival decades later with Marvel’s X-Men ’97. Other episodes, on the other hand, were far less effective – though sometimes merely by comparison.
X-Men: The Animated Series adapted many classic Marvel Comics stories, often depicting them across multiple episode sagas and two-part narratives. It is worth noting that X-Men: The Animated Series was aired out of its intended, scripted order. This has led to some discrepancies in cataloging the show's episodes. This list reflects the episode order as originally intended - which Disney+ has also since adopted.
Related 10 Best Quotes From X-Men: The Animated Series X-Men: The Animated Series produced some of the most iconic pieces of dialogue from across the Marvel universe, perfectly capturing its character.
10 X-Men: TAS Season 1 Worst Episode: "Captive Hearts" Season 1, Episode 5 Close “Captive Hearts” is the worst episode of X-Men: The Animated Series season 1, though it’s by no means abysmal. The episode depicted Jean Grey and Cyclops being abducted by the Morlocks, a troupe of mutants that dwell in the sewers. This instigated a great adaptation of Storm’s leadership battle with Callisto, during which Storm became the new Morlock leader.
Despite this fun premise, “Captive Hearts” struggled to match the dynamism of the rest of X-Men: TAS season 1. A lot of the narrative was delivered in quite a clunky manner, particularly the aspects that concerned the love triangle between Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Wolverine. This led to some infamous X-Men: TAS memes, including “Sad Wolverine.” The episode's animation quality also dipped in places, detracting from the overall impact. Regardless, "Captive Hearts" still offered some insight into the X-Men themes of acceptance and belonging.
9 X-Men: TAS Season 1 Best Episode: "Days Of Future Past" Season 1, Episodes 11-12 Close "Days of Future Past" was the pinnacle of X-Men: The Animated Series, delivering dynamic fight sequences while exploring a gripping time-travel narrative. The episode introduced Bishop, sent back in time to prevent an assassination attempt that triggered a post-apocalyptic future in which Sentinels subjugated mutants and humanity. With thrilling action and a classic X-Men morality tale, “Days of Future Past” was the greatest episode from X-Men: TAS season 1.
“Days of Future Past” delved into the dire consequences of the X-Men's mission failing. It seamlessly intertwined a dystopian future with the X-Men's present, to explore the result of their mission for mutant acceptance. The episode deftly navigated the motives of several characters and masterfully captured the essence of the original story while adding its own unique elements. It therefore stands out as the finest episode of the entire X-Men: The Animated Series.
8 X-Men: TAS Season 2 Worst Episode: "X-Ternally Yours" Season 2, Episode 6 Close "X-Ternally Yours," offered a backstory for fan-favorite X-Men: The Animated Series character Gambit, though it got too bogged down in the dramatic romance to be effective. The story involved Gambit returning to New Orleans to rescue his brother from the clutches of his ex-partner, Bella Donna. Gambit was soon embroiled in Bella Donna’s scheme to reclaim her ex-lover and aggravate a feud between the Thieves Guild and the Assassins Guild, with potentially dire consequences.
“X-Ternally yours” leaned too heavily into romance drama, sidelining the action-packed sequences that typically defined X-Men: The Animated Series. The unconvincing Cajun accents further detracted from the immersion, making dialogue scenes feel forced and inauthentic. Overall, the detraction from the typical narrative and the emphasis on a convoluted romantic made "X-Ternally Yours" a relatively low point in an otherwise strong season.
7 X-Men: TAS Season 2 Best Episode: "Time Fugitives" Season 2, Episodes 7-8 Close Featuring the first proper introduction of Cable, “Time Fugitives” depicted a complex time travel narrative, in which Cable sought to fix the changes previously made by Bishop. The episode pit Cable, Bishop, and X-Men against two formidable X-Men: TAS villains, Apocalypse and Graydon Creed. This two-part episode was a masterful adaptation of the Legacy Virus storyline from X-Men comics and blended intense mutant-human politics with high-stakes drama.
“Time Fugitive” was rich with philosophical debates as characters questioned whether to condemn one future to save another. The episode challenged the X-Men with difficult choices, emphasizing themes of discrimination and the greater good. Cable and Bishop's presence was captivating, highlighting the show's ability to juggle multiple compelling characters and storylines. "Time Fugitives” boasted vibrant sequences and a gripping midway cliffhanger, perfectly encapsulating X-Men: TAS’s strengths in merging thrilling plots with meaningful social commentary.
6 X-Men: TAS Season 3 Worst Episode: "Savage Land, Strange Heart" Season 3, Episodes 12-13 Close "Savage Land, Strange Heart" is the weakest episode of X-Men: The Animated Series season 3, largely because impeccable episodes dominated the season. “Savage Land, Stange Heart” began exploring interesting new territory with Sauron and his backstory, which initially promised an engaging narrative. However, the plot soon shifted focus to the underwhelming villain Garokk.
Garokk’s lackluster presence in “Savage Land, Strange Heart” felt anticlimactic after being teased with a Sauron-centric story - who is one of the most intriguing and menacing villains in the X-Men: TAS pantheon. While Mister Sinister's brief appearance added a spark of excitement, it was insufficient to elevate the episode very notably. With only a few interesting moments, the episode failed to match the very high standards set by the Phoenix Sagas and other standout episodes, rendering it less memorable and weaker by comparison.
5 X-Men: TAS Season 3 Best Episode: "The Dark Phoenix Part V: The Fate Of The Phoenix" Season 3, Episode 17 Close "The Fate of the Phoenix" flawlessly concluded the epic “Dark Phoenix Saga,” weaving intricate emotional turmoil and galactic-scale conflict into a gripping narrative. The episode brilliantly captured the essence of the original comics, particularly the dramatic showdown in the Blue Area of the Moon. It was the perfect finale to both Phoenix sagas, depicting the X-Men’s final attempts to save Jean Grey from cosmic condemnation and the Phoenix’s overpowering influence.
The animation and storytelling in “The Fate of the Phoenix” were top-notch, maintaining a perfect balance between action-packed sequences and deep character development typical of X-Men: TAS. Indeed, X-Men: The Animated Series provided the greatest adaptation of the Phoenix ever made. This is largely because X-Men: TAS allowed audiences to foster a close relationship with Jean Grey, which made “The Fate of the Phoenix” even more captivating, accurately depicting the source material’s enormous stakes.
4 X-Men: TAS Season 4 Worst Episode: "Have Yourself A Morlock Little X-Mas" Season 4, Episode 17 Close "Have Yourself a Very Morlock X-Mas” was an especially weak episode from X-Men: The Animated Series season 4. Set during Christmas, the episode revolved around the X-Men's discovery that Leech, a young Morlock, urgently needs medical assistance. However, it failed to deliver on the series' usual tone and instead leaned heavily into a corny Christmas theme.
The pacing in "Have Yourself a Very Morlock X-Mas” suffered due to minimal action and a plot that focused more on sentimental holiday themes than on advancing the overarching X-Men: TAS narrative. A particularly baffling shopping scene further detracted from the serious tone typically associated with the X-Men's struggles. While the inclusion of Leech and the Morlocks could have added depth, their roles are overshadowed by the forced Christmas themes. As is the case with many holiday-themed TV specials, "Have Yourself a Very Morlock X-Mas” was a notable drop in quality.
3 X-Men: TAS Season 4 Best Episode: "One Man's Worth" Season 4, Episodes 9-10 Close "One Man's Worth" was the standout story from X-Men: The Animated Series season 4. The captivating narrative depicted an alternate, post-apocalyptic future where mutants are viciously hunted. Desperate to change their fate, Bishop, Storm, and Wolverine traveled back in time to 1959. Their mission: prevent the pivotal event that led to this dystopian reality - Charles Xavier’s assassination. It delivered another compelling time travel storyline that also delved into themes of 1960s racism and the profound impact of Xavier's message.
“One Man’s Worth” featured powerful storytelling and exploration of consequences that resonated deeply, even inspiring the iconic "Age of Apocalypse" crossover event in Marvel Comics. "One Man's Worth" was a testament to X-Men: TAS's social commentary and intricate character development, forming a cohesive and powerful narrative littered with enthralling fight sequences. The episode also proffered a fun glimpse at X-Men variants, most notably a version of Storm that sported her famed Mohawk from the 1980s.
2 X-Men: TAS Season 5 Worst Episode: "Jubilee's Fairytale Theatre" Season 5, Episode 6 Close Perhaps the weakest episode from the entirety of X-Men: The Animated Series was season 5’s “Jubilee's Fairytale Theatre.” It followed Jubilee and a group of young mutants trapped in a cave, where she regaled them with a fairytale-style story featuring versions of X-Men: TAS characters. While the episode briefly showcases Jubilee's newfound maturity and ability to comfort the children, it largely feels like a pointless diversion from the series' main storylines.
The narrative in “Jubilee's Fairytale Theatre,” while whimsical, lacked the depth that typified X-Men: TAS. It failed to contribute significantly to character development or overarching plot advancement. While it briefly highlighted Jubilee's growth, the episode feels more like a novelty, while the show began running out of steam and lacked the grandeur of earlier seasons. This combined with the inferior animation quality in X-Men: TAS season 5 made “Jubilee's Fairytale Theatre” rather bland viewing.
10 Most Rewatchable X-Men: The Animated Series Episodes, Ranked X-Men: The Animated Series still holds up to this day, with some individual episodes standing out as being particularly fun to re-watch even now.
1 X-Men: TAS Season 5 Best Episode: "Graduation Day" Season 5, Episode 10 Close "Graduation Day," the final episode of X-Men: The Animated Series, was the finest in season 5. The poignant conclusion saw Charles Xavier fatally poisoned by Henry Peter Gyrich, prompting Magneto to halt his plans for war with humanity to bid farewell to his old friend. The episode was the culmination of the series' complex themes and narratives, including mutant-human relations and Magneto's plans for mutant supremacy. Magneto ultimately choosing Xavier over his war was an especially touching scene, as was each of the X-Men’s goodbyes to Xavier.
“Graduation Day” concluded with a heartfelt farewell as Magneto and the X-Men watched Xavier travel into space to receive medical care from the Shi’ar, providing one of the show’s most enduring images. The episode beautifully tied together X-Men: TAS’s narrative threads, offering closure to character arcs and relationships built over the series' run. The episode was genuinely touching and was an especially poignant way to conclude X-Men: The Animated Series.
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X-Men: The Animated Series is a television show based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name. The series, which aired from 1992 to 1997, follows the adventures of a team of mutant superheroes, led by Professor Charles Xavier, as they fight for peaceful coexistence between humans and mutants in a world filled with prejudice and fear.
Cast Cedric Smith , Norm Spencer , Catherine Disher , Alison Sealy-Smith , Lenore Zann Release Date October 31, 1992 Upcoming MCU Movies
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