It’s been said that the two things you can count on most are death and taxes. If you read comics, though, the two things you can count on most are death and resurrection. While this has been true for characters like Jean Grey and Wolverine, it’s especially true when it comes to Professor X. For instance, amid the winding plot turns of Uncanny X-Men #277, Lila Cheney, a mutant superstar with the power of interstellar teleportation, is stunned to see (the previously murdered) Professor X alive and well: “But Wolverine killed you, we saw your body!” she exclaims in disbelief. Xavier replies with a knowing grin: “What’s the X-Men’s favorite phrase in such a circumstance? Ah yes -- I got better.”
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“I got better” has become a trademark catchphrase for these beloved mutants. Several members of the team, from Wolverine to Colossus, have been found using this semi-slogan, coined during Chris Claremont’s more than 20-year run writing X-Men comics. But the art of dying and getting better has really become a specialty of Professor X. In fact, for nearly 40 years now, Xavier has made a peculiar habit of it. So we’ve combed through decades of comics and assembled a senses-shattering list of 15 times that Charles Xavier has died and come back.
15 "KILLED" BY GROTESK
"Not a hoax! Not a dream! Not an imaginary tale! This is for real!" boasts the blurb extending across the bottom of X-Men #42's cover. Written by Roy Thomas and drawn by Don Heck, the tale contained here titled “If I should die...” is the one that began the seeming trend of sales-generating Professor X deaths. What could be a more effective method for preying on the sympathies of readers than a guy in a wheelchair taking a life-ending L for the team?
Grotesk is the last survivor of a subterranean race. Radiation from underground nuclear tests annihilated his people and he is out for blood. Believing that Professor X was somehow responsible, the X-Men become locked in a life and death struggle. By the end, the book delivers on the cover’s promise. But it isn’t actually Professor X who dies, but a changeling imposter!
14 OVERTAKEN BY THE BROOD
Issue #167 of Uncanny X-Men, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Paul Smith, sees the hurried return of the X-Men back to Earth after a protracted battle in space with the alien parasite Brood Queen. After her attempt to use the bodies of the X-Men as hosts for her brood embryos fails, she sets her sights on Xavier. By the time the X-Men reach their home, it's already too late.
After literally breaking down the doors to get to their mentor, the X-Men arrive only to find the insect-like form of a young queen bursting out his body. “In a twinkling, it is over,” states the captions. “Charles Xavier is no more.” But with the help of the robot medic Sikorsky of the Starjammers, tissue samples taken earlier are used to produce a clone body into which the mind of the powerful mutant telepath can be safely transplanted.
13 EXPIRED CLONE BODY
From his first appearance in X-Men #1, Magneto was the sworn enemy of Charles Xavier and the X-Men. But their relationship experienced a major shift over the years and Uncanny X-Men #200, by Chris Claremont and John Romita Jr., was a pivotal moment in that evolution. Here, Magneto is being tried in World Court for his many previous crimes. Representing him in his defense are Professor X and Gabrielle Haller, the mother of Xavier’s son David (Legion).
During the trial, the Fenris twins mount an attack to kill Magneto. In the skirmish, Xavier’s weakened clone body collapses. Knowing his end is near, Xavier asks Magneto to continue his mission: “Look after my X-Men,” he pleads with his dying breaths. But the Starjammers are monitoring Xavier's vitals and rush back to Earth to mount a rescue. But it’s not until the next issue that we learn Xavier was saved.
12 STABBED BY WOLVERINE
Uncanny X-Men #276 finds the X-Men back again in the farthest reaches of outer space. In issue #275, they were reunited with Professor X at long last, whose face they hadn't seen in ages. Their mentor was spending time with his love, Empress Lilandra, and the Starjammers. This chapter was written by longtime X-Men scribe Chris Claremont and drawn by superstar artist Jim Lee.
Despite their happy reunion, all is not as it seems. Lilandra's sister Deathbird is making a play for Lilandra’s throne using the X-Men to do her bidding. Although they aren’t in any way onboard with Deathbird’s plot, Wolverine has his own an agenda. When he gets the chance, he pops his claws and takes the life of Professor X. In actuality, though, he’s knowingly killed a shape-shifting War Skrull that had taken the form of the X-Men’s mentor in a plot against the Shi’ar Empire.
11 RE-PARALYZING DEATH(ISH)
Back on Earth in Uncanny X-Men #280, Xavier and SHIELD search the ruins of Muir Island and find members of the X-Men and X-Factor held captive by Xavier's son Legion, who’s been made the new host body of the Shadow King. After freeing them from Legion's psychic hold, Xavier wages battle against the Shadow King on the astral plane, as Jean, Storm, Cyclops and others try to shield his body from physical attacks
Xavier is losing the battle, though, and injuries sustained on the astral plane manifest in the physical world. Soon, minor injuries appear all over his body and his legs are broken. By the end of this battle (written by Fabien Nicieza and drawn by Steven D. Butler and Adam Kubert), Legion lies unconscious and Xavier’s barely alive. Somehow Xavier managed to win, but at a tremendous cost: His spine was shattered and he’s partially paralyzed again.
Uncanny X-Men #294 introduces part 1 of the 10-part "X-Cutioner's Song" crossover. Beginning with a bang, the cover teases the apparent murder of Professor X. Standing over the corpse and literally holding the “smoking gun” is Xavier's assumed assailant, the dimension-crossing mutant cyborg known as Cable. But all is not as it seems.
This opening chapter in the "X-Cutioner's Song" saga was written by Scott Lobdell and drawn by Brandon Peterson. Here we learn that Xavier decided to take his cause to the rock star mutant Lila Cheney. He felt it was time to spread the message of harmony between human and mutants at her concert in the park. But right after Xavier appears on stage and begins to speak, an assassin strikes and fires off a deadly shot into his chest. The book ends on a cliffhanger, but the next part reveals that Xavier somehow survived.
9 A VICTIM OF PATRICIDE
Written by and drawn by Andy Kubert, X-Men #41 brings part four of the six-part crossover story "Legion Quest." Seeking to kill Magneto before he has a chance to turn on Xavier, Legion transports himself into Xavier’s past. An epic battle ensues between the men, but Legion is too powerful. Xavier and the X-Men eventually find a way to slow Legion’s attack, but he quickly regains the upper hand and resumes his attack on Magneto.
As Legion unleashes a full telekinetic attack to end the life of Magneto, Xavier jumps in front of him and absorbs the blow. Even though they’d grown close in recent years, Magneto can't believe Charles would sacrifice himself to protect his former enemy. Legion can’t either and flees the scene in shock. As the story closes, Magneto cradles Xavier’s lifeless body. But, as you can probably guess, Xavier will live again…and also die again.
In Ultimate X-Men 78 (written by Robert Kirkman and drawn by Ben Oliver) Professor X, Bishop and the rest of X-Men are in Finland, battling Cable and his own team of mercenary mutants. Professor X has a settle to score with the time-traveling Cable and seems intent to kill him for what he did to his students in an unending effort to take out Xavier (whom Cable believes is a threat to his future world.)
As Professor X and Cable face off, the latter pulls out a detonator and reveals the desperate lengths he's willing to go in his quest take out Xavier. He presses down on the detonator and sets off a massive explosion. When the smoke clears, the X-Men begin combing through the rubble. All that remains of their beloved mentor, though, is a fleshless and charred skeleton. Professor Charles Xavier is dead once again.
7 HOUSE OF DEAD
“He died so that Genosha could live,” reads the epitaph on the plaque in the Xavier Memorial Garden seen in issue five of the six-part House of M. For once Xavier isn't actually killed in this story written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Oliver Coipel. After disappearing in issue #1, he’s presumed to have died. But nothing is what it seems to be in this crazy world that Scarlett Witch, daughter of Magneto, has recast in her father's image.
Here mutants are dominant, humans are the minority and Magneto rules over all. And Xavier was believed to actually have died many years before. While Wolverine and other doubted his death and searched to find him, all they could turn up was an empty grave. When the heroes finally restore the legitimate timeline, Xavier returns to his rightful place. But when and how that happens is yet another story.
6 THE NOT-SO-LAST STAND
The Professor X death parade isn't limited to comics. In the 2006 20th Century Fox film X-Men: The Last Stand, Xavier also meets his end on screen. When a cure is found that can reverse the effects of the genetic mutation that gives mutants their awesome abilities, there is outrage in the mutant community. While some mutants, like Rogue, find promise in the discovery, others hold fast to the view that mutations aren't a disease to be “cured.”
Soon, battle lines are drawn with Magneto and his followers on one side and Professor X and his followers on the other. Jean Grey has returned and sides with Magneto. When Xavier confronts her about her controversial decision, Jean -- with the cosmic power of the Phoenix surging within her -- literally separates Xaver’s body into a bajillion bits and casts the powdered remains of her former mentor to the winds.
5 BISHOP TAKES KING
In X-Men #207, written by Mike Carey and drawn by Chris Bachalo, the dial on Professor X dying is turned up another notch. Apparently his previous comic book deaths weren’t graphic enough, so this time Xavier takes a bullet to the head. But he wasn't at all the intended target when Bishop leveled his weapon and squeezed the trigger. Bishop was actually aiming at Cable, who was teleporting away, and Xavier caught a bad one standing behind him.
As Cyclops, Beast and the rest of the X-Men gather around Xavier's body, Wolverine reveals that their mentor sustained a headshot and isn’t breathing. Beast asks them to stand clear so he can assess Xavier’s chances. A few moments later, Beast exclaims in dismay: “Oh, no. Oh, Charles!” Cyclops then follows with the shocking announcement that -- like the life of their beloved mentor -- the X-Men are no more.
4 THE MOST TWISTED "DEATH"
Did we say that the dial on Professor Xavier deaths had been turned up a notch? Well, Marvel must’ve felt the need to outdo their previous efforts. At the close of issue #2 of the alternate universe story in Ultimatum, written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by David Finch, an evil-again-Magneto grabs Xavier by the head, twists and snaps his neck. On the final page, the victim of this nutant-on-mutant hate crime lies twisted in a pool of his own blood.
If you hadn't yet begun doing so, now would be as good time a time as any to start wondering if the folks at Marvel have something against a bald guy who makes intermittent use of a wheelchair. It might even be time for somebody to start an online petition against the continued mistreatment of Professor Xavier. If you start it, we’d probably sign it.
3 STUDENT "KILLS" TEACHER
Ironically, due to the death of Professor X in 2012's Avengers vs. X-Men #11 at the hands of Cyclops, the latter is now seen by many as the most hated person in the Marvel Universe. If you scroll back through this list though, there's more than enough hate to go around. Cyclops is just a patsy and his true killers (read: writers) have always gotten away Scott free (pun intended).
Anywho, Xavier was killed again in this book and lots of people are still mad about it. But don't blame Cyclops -- blame Marvel for knowing how to push your buttons: They've skillfully coordinated their manipulative use of the “Professor X Death Button” since 1968. After nearly 40 years, you’d think that somebody would’ve figured this out! It’s really not too late to send 'em hate mail.
Speaking of hate mail. Writer Rick Remender and artist John Cassaday might deserve some for turning the level on Professor X deaths all the way up to 100 with their shocking work in Uncanny Avengers #1. Technically, Xavier doesn't even die in this book. He's already dead. In fact, the story picks up shortly after the events of Avengers vs. X-Men #12, and offers a peek of Xavier's funeral proceedings and burial.
Still without actually killing Xavier, they manage to pull off the money shot of all money shots in Professor X deaths. At the book’s close, we’re treated to a jaw-dropping full-page spread of Xavier's freshly lobotomized corpse! The doer of this dirty deed is none other than Captain America’s archenemy, the Red Skull. And in the long list of indignities suffered by the founder of the X-Men, this one definitely takes the cake.
1 HE'S REALLY DEAD THIS TIME
Fox Studios already had the pleasure of having Xavier die in 2006’s The Last Stand. They brought him back somehow for 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past and have now killed him off again in the 2017 film, Logan. And why? Because we're suckers: nobody wants to see any harm befall babies, puppies or Professor X. And while the first two are still a no-no all across popular culture, bald guys in wheel chairs are clearly fair game.
In an interview while promoting the film, Patrick Stewart said that he feared being typecast after playing Professor X as a feeble old man in Logan. This is ironic, considering that Xavier seems to have been pigeonholed into being the guy most likely to die in X-Men comics and movies, but with Logan taking place in the future, we're positive he's staying dead here...probably.
Do you wish Professor X would just stay dead? Let us know in the comments section!