WARNING: This article contains minor spoilers for the series premiere of The Gifted, which aired Monday on Fox.
One of the few lighthearted touches in the tense, fast-paced series premiere of The Gifted came in the form of an unexpected nod to X-Men: The Animated Series. But as heartwarming as the fleeting moment may have been to fans of the 1990s cartoon, it came this close to never happening.
While explaining to Blink (Jamie Chung), and viewers, the purpose of the Mutant Underground, Eclipse (Sean Teale) is interrupted by a call from district attorney Reed Strucker (Stephen Moyer), who's seeking the group's help in sneaking his family out of the country. The big moment is supposed to be that someone who previously prosecuted mutants now needs their assistance to keep his children safe. However, Eclipse's ring tone is undoubtedly what caught the attention of X-Men fans: the unmistakable, unshakable theme to X-Men: The Animated Series.
Showrunner Matt Nix revealed the tune began as little more than a behind-the-scenes gag before becoming something producers knew had to make it to air.
"Honestly, we did it initially as a joke for the cut," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "Then we were like, 'No, we have to do this.' We were told we couldn't do it, and we basically said, 'No, really, this needs to happen. We're doing this.' It's one of those things where there aren't a lot of those battles you get to win when you're making a network television show, but that one? We knew it cost more money than a regular ring tone, but it's so much fun so we're doing it. Pay the money. I was very happy we got that."
So were fans of the 1990s cartoon. Asked whether the ring tone might crop up again on The Gifted, Nix replied, "It might reoccur! We don't want everyone to just be waiting around for it."
The Gifted is set in a United States in which the X-Men and Magento's Brotherhood have disappeared, and mutants who use their powers in public are rounded up by Sentinel Services and placed in mutant detention centers, likely never to be seen again. Against that backdrop, two ordinary parents take their family on the run from the government after they discover their two children are mutants, and join with the Mutant Underground in a fight for survival.
Airing Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox, The Gifted stars Stephen Moyer as Reed Strucker, Amy Acker as Caitlin Strucker, Sean Teale as Marcos Diaz/Eclipse, Coby Bell as Jace Turner, Emma Dumont cast as Lorna Dane/Polaris, Jamie Chung as Blink/Clarice Fong and Blair Redford as John Proudstar/Thunderbird, Natalie Alyn Lind as Lauren Strucker and Percy Hynes White as Andy Strucker.