X-Men: The Animated Series played a pivotal role in influencing and embracing a generation in the 1990s. Its overall themes of justice, equality, and peace continue to resonate today. Those themes just so happened to be masked by adamantium claws, yellow gloves, lightning bolts, ruby visors, blue fur, and exploding playing cards.
As much as the saturated tights and spandex defined the X-Men visually, the animated series' brilliant writing defined it soulfully. This is due to the fact that the show's characters were respected, revered, and cemented in storylines that were more human than anything else. Here are the Top 10 Tear-Jerking Episodes From X-Men: The Animated Series.
10 Orphan's End
The ever polarizing member of the X-Men, Cyclops has had his fair share of strain. Possibly the most grueling event was encountering Corsair, leader of the space bandit brigade known as the Starjammers. Corsair and Cyclops' initial confrontation occurred in season three's episode six, "The Starjammers". This episode watered the seed of the buried history these two unknowingly shared.
Ten episodes later, "Orphan's End", their second encounter occurred. In a valiant effort, Corsair attempts to rescue a Shi'Ar princess from crooked authorities. He seeks aid from Cyclops, who is already weary to Corsair's swashbuckling reputation. In the midst of this gutsy adventure, Cyclops realizes his father isn't dead and must accept him for who he truly is, Corsair.
9 Beauty & The Beast
Episode ten of season two isn't necessarily a Beast episode. It's a Hank McCoy episode. He isn't spewing poetic quotes or devising plots to peacefully defeat X-Men opponents. In this episode, Hank has triumphantly cured a woman, Carly, of her blindness.
Love has sprouted between Hank and Carly throughout the duration of her treatment. This miracle of sight has triggered attention from the Friends of Humanity, a mutant-hunting organization. The F.O.H. kidnap Carly as a means to draw Hank out.
Hank and the X-Men manage to rescue her. Sadly, Hank must come to terms that he can never be with Carly until peace dawns between humans and mutants.
Hank's inner turmoil is explored while his emotions stream from love to fury, emotions he rarely conveys.
8 Have Yourself A Morlock Little Christmas
The Morlocks have always been outsiders to the outsiders. The underground mutants have had their scuffles in the past with the X-Men. Their initial appearance in episode five of season one, "Captive Hearts", showcased Storm winning leadership of the Morlocks from Calysto, their original leader. In season four episode twelve, new light is shed upon these sewer-dwelling mutants along with Storm's ignored responsibility.
During Christmas Eve, the Morlocks raid an ambulance to aid their fellow Morlock, Leech. While Leech's health dwindles, Calysto pecks at Storm's guilt. Storm's determination pushes Wolverine to attempt a blood transfusion with Leech. This is all in hope of a Christmas miracle to have Wolverine's healing factor fuel Leech's recovery.
A crisis of faith can always bring about a poetic endeavor. The character of Nightcrawler always brings that arc upon those he interacts with. Demon by physique but preacher by credence. Nightcrawler is an interesting character within his own contrast.
Episode eighteen of season three introduced the teleporting mutant to the X-Men, in the midst of a ski-trip in Germany. Once Wolverine catches rumors of a demon in town, he takes charge of vanquishing it. They soon realize this demon is Nightcrawler, a pacifist mutant monk.
Nightcrawler's conflict isn't with the X-Men but with Father Reinhardt, a bigot monk. Instead of claiming vengeance, Nightcrawler opens his heart to forgive Father Reinhardt. This moves his fellow monks and X-Men.
6 One Man's Worth Part 1 & 2
What if a certain person didn't exist? The first two episodes of season four bring to fruition the question: What if Professor Xavier hadn't existed?
Bishop, a time-traveling mutant, along with an alternate version of Wolverine and Storm discover the answer to that question. The trio must travel back to 1959 and prevent the assassination of Charles Xavier at the hands of Trevor Fitzroy, another time-traveling mutant commissioned by sentinel manufacturer, Mastermold.
Not only do the trio have to deal with Fitzroy but they must deal with bigotry of the 1950s. Wolverine and Storm fend off racists against their interracial marriage. Meanwhile, they must convince a young Xavier about accepting his responsibilities. Wolverine and Storm must also carry their own responsibility of sacrificing their present-day marriage for humanity's brighter future.
5 A Rogue's Tale
Rogue has and always will be one of the most powerful X-Men. However, a majority of her powers were stolen and retained from Carol Danvers, Ms. Marvel. What was also inherited were the haunting memories of Ms. Marvel.
In a scheme to retrieve Rogue back into her family, Mystique peels back the corrosive memories Rogue has kept suppressed. This unearths the quaking guilt Rogue has had buried in the phantom presence of Ms. Marvel.
Apologies ring hollow to Ms. Marvel as her volcanic rage bubbles to the surface of Rogue's mind. Ms. Marvel cannot forgive the personal theft Rogue committed. What ensues is a physical battle between Rogue and Ms. Marvel within a psychological arena.
4 Weapon X, Lies & Videotape
The notion of the Mandela Effect can almost be attributed to Wolverine and his character's history. Mystery, confusion, and convolution have plagued Wolverine since his inception. Episode nineteen of season three dug deeper into Logan's chronicles within the Weapon X program.
Conflicting memories with fellow Weapon X soldiers (Sabretooth, Maverick and Silver Fox) ignite friction, as they gather at the abandoned Weapon X facility. While they exhume caustic answers, they all bring into question the lives they have lived and continue to live.
Logan's heartstrings are lacerated as Silver Fox questions the authenticity of their romantic endeavors.
3 Night Of The Sentinels Part 1 & 2
The 1992 series premiere had an immense impact in both story and controversy. "Night of the Sentinels" established the tone the series would be exploring. Bright heroics laced in dark storylines.
Fear festered humans demand action against mutants. This leads the Mutant Control Agency to require mutants to register with them. Jubilee, a firework powered mutant, is targeted for apprehension. The X-Men must protect her but realize the threat is much worse.
The X-Men raid the Mutant Control Agency and destroy their files on mutants. This comes at the price of Morph's, the shape-shifting X-Man, life. His death was not in vain as the X-Men seek to avenge their fallen friend.
Death and social commentary radiated in the first two episodes of the series.
Child abandonment is a serious topic. X-Men: The Animated Series brought that issue to the forefront in season five episode six. Cocooned in the Halloween episode, "Bloodlines" addresses Nightcrawler's origins, faith, and character. After receiving a note that his mother is in dire need, Nightcrawler embarks on a rescue mission with the X-Men. Within the imprisoned facility walls, Nightcrawler hears his mother's cries. Those cries belong to Mystique.
It is revealed that Mystique has bargained with Graydon Creed, Friends of Humanity Leader, to turn in Nightcrawler for her own well-being. Her confession to Nightcrawler as to why she abandoned him is truly heart-wrenching. Nightcrawler's faith comes under pressure. He must garner enough strength to forgive his mother for all the pain she caused him.
1 Graduation Day
If you're not out of tissues yet, you best get another box for this one. The series finale drew the X-Men's family arc to a close. Professor Charles Xavier is at the center of this tear-soaked final episode. After being blasted by a psychic disrupter, Charles is left comatose. The X-Men determine the only means for their leader's survival is to reach Lilandra, Xavier's extraterrestrial spouse. She and her Shi'ar technology are advanced enough to keep Xavier alive. However, reaching Lilandra through Xavier's telepathic powers must be magnified.
Magneto is the key to Xavier's survival. Yet, he sits at the cusp of having his dream of mutant supremacy come true. This is possible due to the fact that his prime rival is at death's door. He must now bring into question how much he loves his only friend, Charles Xavier.
The finale to X-Men: The Animated Series truly brings the show to a tearful conclusion.