Jean Grey has a pretty bad habit of dying. Sure, in comics, the only thing that is permanently dead is permanent death, but there are some particular characters that tend to greet death every couple of years or so, like they’re old buddies. Perhaps the highest offender of multiple deaths, at least in the Marvel universe, is none other than Jean Grey. Granted, Jean’s status as a vessel for “The Phoenix Force” kind of explains why she dies and comes back to life so often, since that’s pretty much the definition of what a phoenix does. However, after a long comics history, Jean Grey’s death count has gotten a little ridiculous, even outside of comics.
A lot of these deaths seem to involve Jean sacrificing herself for the benefit or survival of others, usually her fellow mutants. However, after so many sacrificial deaths, it almost starts to seem like Jean just wants to kick back in heaven and keeps getting forcibly dragged back by the Phoenix Force (or low comic sales) only to die again and again. If you’re having trouble keeping track of all these deaths and resurrections (quick hint, Jean is currently dead… well, not counting her temporally-displaced younger self, who is alive and well — it’s complicated), then look no further, as CBR has organized them all for you here.
15. SUN BURN
In Uncanny X-Men #100, the X-Men travel to Stephen Lang’s space station where they find sentinel duplicates of themselves. The Mutant-hating villain pits the duplicates against the X-Men in an attempt to destroy them. Aside from being the first time the Wolverine/Colossus “fastball special” was used, the 100th issue marked the first death of Jean Grey.
During the fight, the space station starts to crumble and the X-Men need to escape. However, a solar flare explodes, making a trip back to Earth incredibly risky, and they need a pilot willing to sacrifice themselves. Jean uses her telepathy to steal Lang’s piloting knowledge to pilot the X-Men’s ship back to Earth, getting them to safety and dying in the crash. Of course, she was actually saved by the Phoenix Force, but we’re gonna count it, since she was assumed dead.
Now a vessel for the Phoenix Force, Jean Grey had become much more powerful mutant. However, she soon found out that the Phoenix Force would become too much for her to handle, and eventually she would lose control. This came true when Jean Grey eventually gave in to her dark side, allowing the Phoenix Force to take over and transform Jean into the Dark Phoenix.
The Dark Phoenix’s first taste of destruction came when she annihilated the D’Bari system. This act of evil results in the Shi’ar teleporting Phoenix and the X-Men to the moon for a trial by combat to decide the fate of the Phoenix. Jean has gained some control of herself and eventually agrees with the Shi’ar, that the Phoenix must die. During the trial, Jean triggers a trap on herself and ends her life, destroying the Phoenix with her.
13. MADELYNE PRYOR
While not technically Jean Grey herself, Madelyne Pryor was a clone of Jean that followed in the original’s footsteps in ending her own life. Pryor was said to be the sole survivor of a plane crash that occurred at the exact moment of Jean’s death at the Shi’ar trial, leading Cyclops to think she was a reincarnation of Jean.
Pyor’s clone origins were revealed by Mr. Sinister, her creator. When the real Jean grey returned to life and rekindled her relationship with Cyclops, Madelyne was corrupted by the demon S’ym into becoming the Goblin Queen. In this new state, Madelyne fought the X-Men and, in an attempt to telepathically destroy Jean Grey, she commits suicide. Prior (or should we say Pryor) to this, she and Scott had a son that would eventually become Cable.
In the Infinity Gauntlet series, Thanos has been returned to life by Mistress Death. In return, Thanos has become enamored with her and, seeking to win her favor, gathers the infinity stones and places them on the infinity gauntlet. With these god-like powers, Thanos destroys half the Marvel universe in his attempts to impress Death. Among the list of those that were erased from existence was none other than Jean Grey, as Marvel Girl. This one might be a bit of a stretch, since Jean was merely a single name on a long list of those erased from existence. However, the fact that Jean dies all the time means that this death does have some significance in adding to her now ridiculous death count, so we’re gonna count it.
Perhaps one of the more simpler deaths of Jean Grey comes in Uncanny X-Men #281. This time it was at the hands of sentinels, doing exactly what they were built for, destroying mutants. Trevor Ritzroy, a time traveller known as Chronomancer sent these sentinels after Jean Grey during a fight with the Hellfire club. The mutant-hunting robots gunned Jean down and she died immediately.
However, this is where things get complicated because it turns out that during the fight, Jean stored her telepathic consciousness in the mind of Emma Frost, allowing her to survive the sentinel attack. So while her body died, her brain survived. Jean returned to life almost immediately, though it is not exactly clear how she got a new body. Funnily enough, Jean says in this issue that if she dies again, she’s going to become a walking cliche. Well, surprise, she does just that.
Explaining the entire context of this one might be a little confusing, especially with the long and confusing comics history of the X-Men, so we’re gonna do our best to summarize. In New X-Men #148, the team is infiltrated by Magneto. At the time, he was thought to be dead, but had actually disguised himself as Xorn, a mutant believed to be a Chinese immigrant who wore a metal helmet to protect others from his mutation, having a sun for a brain.
Eventually, Xorn reveals his true identity (though this would later be retconned, sort of) and traps Jean Grey and Wolverine on an asteroid that is shooting towards the sun. With oxygen running out and temperature rising, Jean fears the pain of burning alive. So, like any “gentleman,” Wolverine stabs her through the stomach to spare her pain… right. But, of course, the Phoenix Force returns to resurrect Jean and save them both.
Not even two issues later from our last entry and Jean would find herself once again falling into to the now very familiar hands of death. In New X-Men #150, Jean is alive, thriving and ready to fight once more. Once again, she fights alongside the X-Men against Magneto/Xorn, but this time, Xorn has a a trick up his sleeve.
Magneto has always been a powerful mutant, and part of this is due to his creativity with his magnetic powers, finding interesting and sometimes deadly ways to use his mastery of polarity. During his battle against the X-Men, Magneto uses a massive magnetic pulse to give Jean Grey a stroke of immeasurable proportions. Jeeze man, take it easy. Funnily enough, Jean’s last words to Cyclops were “All I’ve done is die on you.” Wow, way to have some insight, Jean.
8. WOLVERINE II
When the Shi’ar empire awakens the Phoenix Force in order to destroy it when it is without a host, it forcibly resurrects Jean Grey after escaping the Shi’ar so that it may bond with her. Jean wants nothing to do with the Phoenix Force; or rather, she believes it “too early” to be resurrected again. Unfortunately, it doesn’t listen.
After the Shi’ar attack Jean and the Phoenix Force, Jean teleports herself and Wolverine to the North Pole. There, Jean asks something of Logan — she wants to weaken the Phoenix Force enough to regain control. Wolverine complies, and in a montage, Wolverine stabs Jean to death at least six times. We say “at least,” since the montage implies that Wolverine killed her way more times than this. The jury’s still out on wether or not Logan was doing the right thing here.
7. SUICIDE II
Turns out Wolverine’s, shall we say, “selfless act” ended up working. Killing Jean so many times weakened the Phoenix Force’s grasp on Jean enough for her to regain control of herself. Great, Jean, now you can stick around and help out the X-Men and— wait what are you doing? No don’t!
Well, she did it again, she sacrificed herself. Either Jean Grey is REALLY noble or just wants to stay dead, since after regaining control of the Phoenix Force, she jumped into the icy waters of the North Pole and froze herself to death. One might think that after this, Jean would eventually come back to life again, but this is been the last main continuity Jean Grey death since, and she has had a moment of “moving on” later in comics.
6. TIME’S UP
Now we get into the weirder and less mainstream continuity of deaths of Jean Grey. Just as important, yes, but these don’t have as much effect on the 616 Marvel universe. The first that comes to mind is rather recent and does technically take place in the 616. The Marvel NOW! comic All-New X-Men focused on the original five members of the X-Men, Beast, Angel, Iceman, Cyclops and Jean Grey.
In the first issue, Beast has brought the past X-Men into the present as a means of showing the now mutant terrorist Cyclops just how far he has fallen from Professor X’s teachings. While not a technical death, we later learn that by being in this timeline, the young Jean Grey and her fellow teammates have been erased from their original timelines and cannot return to the past. Sure, it’s a bit of a cheat, we admit, but technically a vanishing that significant can and should be counted as a death, at least from one particular universe.
5. AGE OF APOCALYPSE
In Marvel Earth-295, otherwise known as the Age of Apocalypse universe, things are a little different. While Apocalypse rises to power and plans on making the world his — having defeated the Fantastic Four and Avengers, ridding any threats to his reign — Magneto works to complete Professor X’s mission of making a world where humans and mutants can coexist.
In this version of the world, the X-Men are on an endless crusade against Apocalypse and his army. One of Apocalypse’s soldiers is none other than Cyclops’ brother Alex Summers, aka Havok. In this reality, Havok killed Jean and Cyclops as revenge for his brother betraying him and Apocalypse. Havok was killed soon after when Earth-295’s version of Weapon X ended his life.
4. DEATH BY (AND OF) RACHEL
Though not technically an alternate universe, but more a potential future (wait, is that not the same thing?) the plot of X-Men: The End focuses on the last days of the X-Men in a world that may never come to be. There were three books to the series, Dreamers and Demons, Heroes and Martyrs and Men and X-Men.
Near the end of Book 3, the X-Men face off against the Shi’ar (can’t they ever settle their differences?), one of the members being an alternate version of Rachel Grey (daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey), aka Marvel Girl. After using some of her residual Phoenix Force to fight Cassandra Nova in a psychic battle, Rachel unfortunately loses this battle and as a result has her mind controlled by Cassandra. In this mind-controlled state, she kills her own mother and father with a psionic blast.
3. WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN
Not to be confused with the comic of the same name, Wolverine and the X-Men was a short-lived X-Men animated series that followed Wolverine as he took lead of the X-Men. The show had a big cast of various X-Men members and villains, adapting a lot of great moments and stories in the comics during its short run.
Unfortunately, the series was cancelled after its first season, but during its run, it managed to weave a few interesting threads. One of these started with the first episode, the disappearance of Jean Grey and Professor X after a mysterious explosion destroyed the X-Mansion. Jean is assumed dead, but is later found waking up from a coma in a hospital. Wether or not she died and was resurrected by the Phoenix Force or the Phoenix Force protected her before death is unclear, but we’re going to count it because, let’e be real, she probably just died and walked it off.
2. X2: X-MEN UNITED
X2 was regarded as the best of the original X-Men film trilogy, amping up the action and intensity of the original. By the time this movie was made, Jean Grey dying was already a well-established trend in comics. Perhaps this is the reason why Jean, portrayed once again by Famke Janssen, meets her maker at the end of the film.
In an ending somewhat reminiscent to the very first comic book death of Jean, the X-Jet is damaged and cannot take off. While the jet struggles to fly away, the dam of Alkali lake has burst and the water is coming straight for the X-Men. Jean heroically decides to use her telekinesis to hold back the water while helping the jet fly away. Unfortunately, Jean exhausts herself and perishes under the weight of the water. Or did she?
1. X3: THE LAST STAND
At the end of X2, a fiery phoenix silhouette is seen under the water that took Jeans life. In X3: The Last Stand it is revealed that Jean has been resurrected, with the help of a great psychic power / alternate personality known as The Phoenix. However, it is soon revealed that X3 is only a loose adaptation of the Dark Phoenix story and Jean has returned as an evil psychic being.
In the film, Jean struggles with the Dark Phoenix; she wants control over it and it wants control over her. When she finally manages to regain control of herself, the only way she sees to end the destruction that the Phoenix is causing is to ender her life. She antagonizes Wolverine into attacking her, knowing he’s the only one who could survive the Phoenix’s psychic onslaught. Wolverine stops Jean and the Phoenix by stabbing Jean through the torso (another cliche at this point).
Can you think of any other Jean Grey deaths? We’re thinking you probably can! Hit us up in the comments!