With the mind-bending brilliance of Legion and the entrancing trailers for Gifted, it’s hard not to wonder what the hell took so long to get the X-Men on TV. Sure, we’ve always had cartoons like the classic ’92 cartoon series (well, kids today don’t have an X-Men cartoon, but we all lived in the glorious time before a certain Marvel CEO had a vendetta against the mutants), but was a live-action X-Men show really never tried?
Well, funny story: there was an attempt made in 1996 to bring mutants to the small screen called Generation X, and it was packed with all your favorites: Emma Frost, Jubilee, Skin… um... Buff… Ok, so maybe it didn’t have any of the heavy hitters, but you’d probably still be willing to give it a chance, right? If you answered yes, then you have more faith than the folks at FOX, who abandoned the project, dumping it as a TV movie and figuring we’d all forget about it the next week. Of course, the internet never forgets, so while we wait for a critical reevaluation of this fascinating (if failed) pilot, let’s catch up with where the cast and crew of Generation X are today.
15 JEREMY RATCHFORD (SEAN CASSIDY)
You might recall that in Generation X, Xavier was nowhere to be found at the mansion, with the students instead having two mentors: Emma Frost and Banshee-that-was-never-called-Banshee. Sean Cassidy was played with an… interesting choice of dialect by Jeremy Ratchford. Of course, if you thought you recognized that most unique accent choice elsewhere, Ratchford also voiced Banshee in the 1992 X-Men animated series!
After Generation X, Ratchford would go on to a wide array of television roles, mostly as police officers or detectives, culminating in a starring role on the long-running Cold Case. Though Ratchford traded in his mutant powers for a badge and a gun, Generation X isn't his only piece of nerd TV cred. He also appeared on two early episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a vampire cowboy named Lyle Gorch.
14 HEATHER MCCOMB (JUBILEE)
Sure, the casting of a white girl as a traditionally Chinese character would rightfully launch a thousand think pieces today, but back in ’96 Heather McComb was cast to little backlash and actually gave the standout performance of all the young mutants in the film as the rebellious Jubilee.
McComb continues to act, with a recurring role on Ray Donovan opposite fellow mutant Liev Schreiber, who played Sabretooth in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. McComb has also branched out into producing, with her name attached to the indie drama Battle Scars, in which she also appears, and the upcoming Kennedy High. McComb, though, didn’t just appear in the film Generation X, she also has a connection to the ultimate heartthrob of Generation X, James Van Der Beek of Dawson’s Creek, to whom she was married from 2003-2010.
13 RANDALL SLAVIN (REFRAX)
Don’t remember Refrax from from your classic ‘90s comics? Don’t worry, nobody does. He was actually created specifically for the movie, presumably to replace Chamber, since a dude with a flaming chest and chin was a bit too advanced for the CGI of the era. Instead, Refrax has eyes that emit radiation, allowing him x-ray vision and the ability to shoot heat beams, which is a power totally different from any actual X-man. Did we mention he has special glasses to stop the beams?
Slavin spent several years after Generation X bouncing from bit part to bit part, never getting his big break, but along the way he discovered a love, and great talent, for photography, becoming a notable celebrity and fashion photographer. Ironically, his last acting role before embarking on this new chapter in his life? Zoolander.
12 BUMPER ROBINSON (MONDO)
For those unfamiliar with Mondo, he’s a mutant who can take on the texture and properties of any material he touches, and the film makes sure to note that. As such, he has an aversion to Jell-O. Ironically, actor Bumper Robinson got his first acting role in a commercial for Jell-O Pudding Pops opposite Bill Cosby, before getting his first film role opposite…OJ Simpson. Bumper has an interesting early resume.
After Generation X, Bumper continued to pursue acting, transitioning into primarily voiceover work, where he wracked up serious nerd cred, voicing Bumblebee in Transformers: Animated, Star Boy on Legion of Super Heroes, and an array of voices on the cult classic Static Shock. In the past decade, Robinson has become the primary voice-over artist for the DC characters Black Lightning and Cyborg, and returned to the Marvel family as the go-to voice for both War Machine and Falcon.
11 FINOLA HUGHES (EMMA FROST)
January Jones, of the acclaimed prime-time soap opera Mad Men, may have played Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class, but not only is she not the first actress to play the role, she wasn’t even the first soap star to do so. Finola Hughes had already spent a full decade on the long-running soap General Hospital when she stepped into the boots of Emma Frost, and continued to appear on the show as recently as June of 2017, as Anna Devane Scorpio.
Aside from General Hospital, and its spin-off General Hospital: Night Shift, Hughes is best known for her role as Patty Halliwell on the hit fantasy show Charmed, but that’s not her only credit with the Comic-Con crowd. Hughes voiced Kal-El’s mother Lara on the original Superman Animated Series, and Lady Shiva in Beware the Batman.
10 SUZANNE DAVIS (BUFF)
Like Refrax, Buff was also invented for the film in order to replace Husk, whose skin-shedding abilities proved too difficult to replicate onscreen. Instead, Buff is your typical teenaged girl whose clothes cover an extremely “buff” body, though the film’s effects depicting that superpower leave something to be desired.
Davis continued to pursue acting after Generation X, though her own IMDB bio states “it seems she's still looking for her break.” Her most recent interview was in 2009, given in regards to her relationship with an accused murderer. The interview revealed that she was still pursuing acting, but had, with her former boyfriend, gotten involved in a telecommunications company. Research indicates that she has since relocated to Nevada to pursue a career in stand-up comedy.
9 MATT FREWER (DR. THRESH)
If you remember anything about Generation X, odds are it’s Matt Frewer’s frenetic Dr. Thresh. Taking the energy he brought to the beloved Max Headroom and cranking it up to eleven, Frewer made Thresh a formidable foe for the young mutants in a universe too timid to give them a Magneto or even a Toad to play off of.
Frewer has had arguably the most prolific career of the main cast, appearing in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Disney’s Hercules, 50/50 and reprising Max Headroom in the film Pixels. Interestingly, Frewer and five other Generation X cast members (Kevin McNulty, Fulvio Cecere, Garry Chalk and L Harvey Gold) all returned to the comic book genre in Zack Snyder’s 2009 adaptation of Watchmen.
8 KEVIN MCNULTY (RALSTON)
Ralston isn’t a mutant, nor is he a villain in the film, but he does fill that important role of “employer of the mad scientist who emphasizes who crazy said scientist is, fires him, and is then set upon by said mad scientist’s evil invention.” It’s those kinds of character roles Kevin McNulty has been doing since the late ‘80s.
If you’re thinking you might have seen him before, odds are you have. Since Generation X, McNulty has appeared in everything from Psych to Battlestar Galactica, Stargate Atlantis to The Killing, Snakes On a Plane, both original Fantastic Four films and, as previously mentioned, reunited with Matt Frewer for Watchmen. Most recently, McNulty has popped up on four of the most popular sci-fi shows on TV: Supernatural, iZombie, The Man in the High Castle and The Magicians.
7 DEAN MCKENZIE (HARLIN)
Dean McKenzie played the bit part of Harlin in Generation X, and hasn’t had any real roles of note since. Interestingly, though, McKenzie has continually popped up in comic book/sci-fi TV shows in minor roles all the way to today.
After Generation X, McKenzie would go on to do a single episode stint on The New Addams Family in-between appearances on The X-Files. He’d go on to appear on two episodes of the rebooted Outer Limits, and the Peter Weller sci-fi series Odyssey 5 and The Dead Zone each for an episode. He appeared twice as a campaign manager on Smallville, while appearing as a character named Woods in an episode of The Collector entitled “The Campaign Manager,” and most recently McKenzie made his debut on Arrow in the 2015 episode “The Candidate” as Dean, a role he reprised three more episodes.
6 TYLER LABINE (MALL RAT)
If you watched Generation X closely enough, you may have seen a young unnamed arcade dweller gawking at Jubilee as she racked up a high score on the cabinet. No, those blonde spikes didn’t belong to a young Guy Fieri, but rather a young Tyler Labine in one of his earliest roles.
You might know Labine for his work on the cult show Reaper or the beloved black comedy Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. Labine found mainstream success when he appeared as a scientist in the hit Rise of the Planet of the Apes and starred in the hit Hulu series Deadbeat as Kevin Pacalioglu. Most recently he can be heard as the voice of Hunk in the new Voltron series.
5 JACK SHOLDER (DIRECTOR)
Generation X is an odd component of Jack Sholder’s filmography, which is comprised of almost entirely horror films, starting with the cult horror film, Alone in the Dark in 1982, and ending with 12 Days of Terror in 2004. After Generation X, Sholder only directed two theatrical films, Arachnid and Beeper, the rest of his brief resume consisting of some TV movies, a direct-to-video sequel to Wishmaster and an episode of Mortal Kombat: Conquest.
Sholder is best known, however, as the director of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, a film he’s discussed in recent years in the subsequent documentaries Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy and Scream, Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street. The film is an icon of the gay horror film culture for its subtle homoeroticism, though Sholder remains the only person involved with the film to vehemently deny there being any such subtext.
4 PETER BRYANT (SERGEANT CRULLER)
Appearing briefly in Generation X as the officer who arrests Jubilee, Peter Bryant has had a similar career to that of Dean McKenzie, popping up in countless comic/sc-fi media, often the same ones that his other Generation X co-stars appeared in. Like McKenzie, Bryant also has credits in The Dead Zone, The Outer Limits and The X-Files, and he appeared along with Kevin McNulty in Fantastic Four.
If you watch the CW, you’ve certainly seen Bryant’s face. Not only has Bryant appeared in various roles on three of the CW’s DCTV shows Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow as Alderman Richard Ford, Fire Chief and Declan, respectively, he also currently has a recurring role on the hit series Riverdale as Principal Weatherbee.
3 GAVIN CROSS (ORDERLY)
Gavin Cross appears in Generation X as an orderly who minds a catatonic Dr. Thresher, and though he has acted since, even crossing paths with Generation X alum in films like Metallica’s Through the Never and Tin Man, his more impressive screen credits are his prolific work as a stunt performer.
Cross has worked on everything from I, Robot and Blade: Trinity to Air Bud and Catwoman. Additionally, Cross is yet another Generation X alum to have his name in the credits of Watchmen as well as both Fantastic Four films. Cross even served as Jeremy Renner’s stunt double on the film Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Most recently, Cross worked on the Oscar-winning film The Revenant and the sure-to-be-Oscar ignored Monster Trucks.
2 AGUSTIN RODRIGUEZ (SKIN)
Where in the world is Agustin Rodriguez? After his memorable turn as Skin in Generation X, Rodriguez only has 11 screen credits to his name, the last of which is a video short from 2010 entitled “Living and Active.” Ironically, 2010 was the last time Rodriguez was active on his Facebook fan page, save a November 2011 post of his reel.
So, where is Agustin Rodriguez? Well, it takes some digging, but Rodriguez currently has a personal Facebook page on which he posts live streaming videos for his audience. The contents range from 30 minute motivational speeches to workout videos and smoothie recipes. While it appears he once spent time as a karate instructor, it seems from what we can gather that he now works primarily as a motivational speaker/personal growth advisor.
1 HATLEY CASTLE (THE XAVIER MANSION)
Sure, Generation X may be forgotten to all but the most ardent of fans, but its impact on the X-Men legacy and comic book media in general cannot be ignored. Generation X introduced a crucial element in the history of X-Men media, but it wasn’t any of the characters. Instead, it was the iconic Hatley Park National Historic Site in Colwood, BC.
Serving as the only tangible connection between the failed 1996 pilot and the subsequent hit film series less than a decade later, Hatley Castle first played the role of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in Generation X, and returned to play the same role in X2: X-Men United, X-Men: Days of Future Past and even Deadpool, amongst others. Of course, Hatley Castle wasn’t limited to just Marvel movies. Eagle eyed viewers may have noticed that the X-Men share the same living quarters as Lex Luthor on Smallville and the Queen family on Arrow, and most recently as the school for the fairy tale characters in Disney’s Descendants films.
How well do you remember Generation X? Let us know your favorite parts in the comments!