Despite the obvious requirement of mutant abilities, not just anyone can be a part of Xavier's School of Gifted Youngsters, let alone his elite team of crime fighting mutants, known as the X-Men. You must have an insatiable need to save the world. You must be able to do what’s right when the time calls. Lastly, you must resist the temptation to use your powers for evil, or personal gain. The X-Men have always fought a war against prejudice, and what is war without its casualties? One of the allures of the comic, was its ever rotating cast of characters, a feat made easier by the occasion death of a teammate.
Whether it’s getting gutted by one of the Horsemen of Apocalypse, or being drowned by the one you love, many an X-Man have kicked the bucket in some shape or form. In classic comic book fashion, some of these characters have already been brought back to life via retcon, resurrection, or just ridiculousness. To even things out, we've excluded the many, many, deaths of both Wolverine and Jean Grey, as they have enough accumulated funerals for their own list. With that out of the way, let's check out 15 times a member of the X-Men died.
15 DOWN GOES THUNDERBIRD
With the original X-Men captured, Professor X recruits a team to take on the mantle of the X-Men and save them. This team included Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Banshee, Sunfire and Thunderbird. After the rescue, the teams merge, forming a brand new X-Men. On his second mission with them, Thunderbird sees the villainous Count Nefaria trying to escape. He jumps on his aircraft, and begins to punch holes into it.
Professor X begs Thunderbird to escape before it’s too late, but he refuses. He explains that after being a loner all his life, and having people be disappointed in him, he was going to prove who he was -- an Apache warrior! He sends his fists through the engine compartment of the plane, ripping out cables and destroying vital parts of the aircraft. Unable to sustain the damages, the plane spontaneously explodes in mid-air as the X-Men mourn his sacrifice.
14 THE QUICK & THE DEAD
Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are a special breed. The Maximoff twins, Pietro and Wanda, have the distinction of being a part of both the X-Men and the Avengers. When the latter sees Wanda as a threat, due to her instability, Quicksilver comes up with a plan. If his sister can warp reality so that everyone is happy, they would end their “witch hunt” for sure. Scarlet Witch cautiously agrees.
In their new reality, Wanda and Pietro are royalty as part of the House of Magnus, which included Scarlet Witch’s children, her estranged sister Polaris, and their father Magneto. When the heroes find out that reality was changed, they wage war on the House of M. Magneto, realizing he has been tricked this entire time, sets his sights on his son, Quicksilver. Fuming with anger he drops the body of a Sentinel on his son, crushing and killing Quicksilver instantly.
13 PHOENIX RISING
The Phoenix Force is a powerful entity, granting its inhabitants with near unlimited cosmic power. When the Force threatens to return to earth in Avengers Vs X-Men, The Avengers & X-Men fight, to see how to handle its impending arrival. When it arrives, Iron Man blasts it with a powerful weapon, causing it to splinter into five entities. The force then inhabits Cyclops, Namor, Emma Frost, Magik, and Colossus, creating The Phoenix Five.
With their power unmatched, they take over the world. The Avengers are able to destroy all but Emma Frost, causing Cyclops to absorb their portions of the Phoenix Force into himself. After stealing the last of Emma Frost’s Phoenix Energy, Cyclops becomes mad with power, and murderous. When his former mentor and father figure Professor X begs him to stop, an enraged Cyclops blasts him with powerful energy, killing him from the inside out.
12 KURT-TAIN CALL
Hope can save the world. In the story arc Messiah Complex, Hope -- as in, Hope Summers -- is the first mutant born after the Scarlet Witch uses her powers to turn all but 198 of the world's mutants into regular, depowered humans. Cable, acting as her protector, defends the new mutant, believing she is the key to the survival of both mutant, and humankind. When a new threat emerges years later in the form of Bastion, an android hell-bent on destroying Hope, The X-Men join the fight for survival.
Bastion soon finds a young Hope Summers, Rogue and Nightcrawler hiding out in Nevada. Determined to take out Hope once and for all, Bastion manhandles Nightcrawler and Rogue, and begins to inch towards Hope. In a last-ditch effort to save her, Nightcrawler teleports and re-materializes around Bastion's arm, fusing with it, and is impaled in the process. Auf Wiedersehen, friend.
11 FEAR THE REAPER
After the events of House of M, and in an attempt at damage control, it is decided that an Avengers team would be formed, with both humans and mutants, to show society that both sides can work together. Led by both Havok and Captain America, the team of Sunfire, Wonder Man, Rogue, Wolverine, Wasp and Scarlet Witch debuted in Uncanny Avengers #1.
One of their first obstacles is the diabolic Apocalypse Twins, children of the villain Apocalypse who hope to rapture all mutants to a distant planet and destroy earth and everything on it. The twins send Horsemen such as Banshee, Sentry, Grim Reaper and Wolverine’s son Daken to deal with the Avengers. During the battle that ensues, Grim Reaper impales Rogue. To add insult to injury, he sends energy through his scythe (which is attached to his arm), and disintegrates her skewered body in front of her team.
10 THE DEATH OF FANTOMEX
Some villains really get under a hero’s skin. Like when Shadow King, a powerful telepath, decides to get revenge on Psylocke for trapping him in her mind for years. When X-Force member Fantomex realizes that Psylocke has gone missing, he goes in search of her. He is soon face to face with the Shadow King himself, who has amassed his very own Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Inhabiting a vegetative body, Shadow King shows Fantomex a mentally disturbed Psylocke, who had been the victim of his psychotic torment.
In an act to save her sanity, Fantomex gives Psylocke his mask, which defends against Shadow King’s attacks. He instructs her to leave and she escapes, but Fantomex, now vulnerable, is captured by the Skinless Man, an acolyte of The Shadow King. The Skinless man traps Fantomex, and cuts his heart right of his body, as the hero dies due to his injuries.
9 GRAVE CONSEQUENCES
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but we bet Logan wished that it did. In Uncanny X-Force #34, Wolverine was pitted against his son, Daken. Daken, abandoned by Logan in his youth and subjected to horrible events, is determined to prove that all of his father’s killings have ultimately made Wolverine a villain. He places Wolverine in a tank of water hoping that he drowns, but Logan is saved at the last minute.
In an epic showdown, father confronts son, and the two killing machines go at it in a storm of blood, adamantium and bone. Realizing that his son has given in to his "berserker" instincts, and is too far gone, Logan thinks about what life would have been like if he was there to raise Daken. Regretfully he holds his son’s head underwater, drowning, and killing his baby boy.
8 A DYING STAR
The X-Men have always had their hands full. With threats like The Hand, HYDRA, and cults like The Dawn of The White Light, things tend to get busy fast. In one instance, all three of those groups banded together to take on Xavier’s team, with grim consequences. After brainwashing Wolverine, HYDRA commands Logan to kill in their name. The X-Men, confused at Wolverine’s change in attitude, chase after him hoping to find out what's going on.
Wolverine steals the X-Jet and breaks out of the X-Mansion. They corner him in the woods and continue to try to understand what has become of their colleague. Suddenly Wolverine jumps from the darkness, in an attempt to kill Shadowcat. Shadowcat, seeing Wolverine at the last minute, allows him to phase through her, leaving her untouched. Instead, Wolverines claws go directly into Northstar, killing the mutant. The team huddles around his body in shock.
7 KING SLAYER
Vulcan, aka Gabriel Summers, is the brother of both Havok and Cyclops, and was the ruler of the Shi'ar, an alien species that is featured prominently in X-Men comics (and soon, movies). He became ruler after murdering the former emperor and claiming himself the new one. Vulcan then waged war against the Inhumans, led by King Black Bolt, who could level a planet with a mere whisper.
The two sides battle, but the true war comes down to the two respective kings, as Vulcan and Black Bolt battle for supremacy. The two powerful rulers exchange blows, and after using his hyper-sonic scream, Bolt gets the better of Vulcan, whose body is seemingly destroyed. Vulcan recovers, and goes for one last attempt at Bolt’s life, causing Bolt to let out another hyper-sonic scream so powerful, it rips a hole in time and space, leaving Black Bolt as the survivor of this War of Kings.
6 MYSTIQUE'S MISTAKE
Betrayal is not taken lightly among X-Men. The success of the team is contingent on the loyalty and selflessness that each member displays. If you can’t trust the person beside you, how can you function as a team? This was the thought process after Mystique betrayed the X-Men in Messiah Complex.
Furious by her defection, Cyclops sends Wolverine after her in a chase around the world. Wolverine and Mystique have a storied past, and he was best for the job. Logan comes close, but with each interaction, Mystique gets away. Finally cornering her in San Francisco after half a dozen failed attempts, Wolverine gives her a chance to redeem herself. Instead of feeling guilty, Mystique claims that Logan deserved everything that she put him through. She continues to insult Wolverine until Logan stabs her in the gut mid-sentence and leaves her to die.
5 A ROGUE ASSASSIN
When Wanda Maximoff declared “No More Mutants” it sent a shockwave through Marvel comics, with the X-Men being the most affected. Rogue resented Scarlet Witch, even though she was a former ally in the past. When Steve Rogers and Havok created The Unity Squad, Rogue is the most hesitant, having a strong distrust of Wanda.
Later the Apocalypse twins abduct Scarlet Witch and convince her to rapture all of the mutants to a distant planet. She agrees, hoping to double-cross the twins as soon as possible. While conjuring the spell, the unity squad tries to stop the incantation but to no avail. After saving Wolverine from his son Daken, Rogue acquires Logan’s powers and bone claws. Setting her sights on Scarlet Witch, she remembers that it was Wanda who started it all. Remorseless, she stabs Wanda killing her and stopping the incantation, to the horror of her teammates.
4 BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
What do you get when you combine the telepathic abilities of one Charles Xavier with pure schizophrenia? You get David Haller, aka Legion, son of the famous Professor X. Legion is an Omega-level mutant who has multiple personalities that take control of his psyche. Each of the personalities is unique, and with each personality, new mutant abilities manifest, making him incredibly powerful. It is just one of the reasons he was chosen for his own critically and commercially-successful show on FX!
David is considered dangerous by all who encounter him. His many personalities make him impossible to predict, making him a hazard to those around him. In X-Men: Legacy, when at the height of his powers, Legion decided that the world is better without the chaos he causes, choosing to completely erase himself from existence.
3 SUMMER'S OVER
By the time Death of X began, Cyclops was already dead. All we knew was that whatever happened, it caused a major rift between The Inhumans and X-Men. Cyclops at the time was becoming more of a militant leader with a strict (though some would argue inherently flawed) moral code. Still, the mutant community recognized Cyclops as the head of the X-Men, so how did he die?
It is initially explained that after finding a way to destroy the mutant-killing Terrigen mist, Cyclops is approached by Black Bolt of the Inhumans and is given a sonic scream so loud it kills him. Havok refused to believe that Cyclops would commit suicide, and it is later revealed that Scott was killed in his first exposure to the mist. Emma Frost, his longtime lover, held Scott as he passed. To continue his legacy, she placed a mental projection of him in everyone's head, as if he were still alive, giving her cause for a war against the Inhumans.
2 A LIFE CUT SHORT
Vargas might be a relatively new villain, but he has already left his mark on the X-Men. Believing that mutants are a deviation from the norm, Vargas calls himself “Homo Superior Superior.” Vargas feels burdened with the task of removing mutants from the earth, one by one. He thinks of himself as humanity’s "natural response" to the growing number of mutants, and possesses super strength and speed. In addition, he possesses advanced combat skills, making him one of The X-Men’s most deadly foes.
He corners Rogue, Beast and Psylocke, blocking them from aiding their teammates. After quickly disposing of Beast, he claims he is only there for one of them. Psylocke steps up to face him, and the two trade blows before Vargas pierces through Psylocke with his sword. With Psylocke’s lifeless body in his hands, Beast mourns the death of a true friend and member of The X-Men.
1 DEADLY FLIGHT PLAN
Banshee is a longtime mainstay of X-Men Comics. He has a super-sonic scream, which, went pointed at the ground, allows him to hover as if he was flying. His outfit is fitted with material that allows pockets of air to keep him afloat. He is honest, and a bit rough around the edges, but a valued member of the team.
Healing from a broken jaw, Banshee is on a flight back to the mansion when a child spots another plane in the air. Confused, Banshee looks out the window to see The Blackbird, or X-Jet, on a collision course with the commercial airline he is on. Determined to prevent the crash, Banshee bravely leaps from the vehicle, only to be hit by the X-Jet in mid-air. The jet explodes in a horrible scene of fire and smoke as Nightcrawler and Wolverine watch below, speechless at their friend's sacrifice.
Which X-Men or mutant death struck you the hardest? Let's mourn together in the comments.