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10 Most Devastating Moments In 'X-Men '97', Season One

The X-Men broke many hearts.

By Kristy AndersonPublished 21 days ago 8 min read
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Credit: Disney.

WARNING!: SPOILERS for the entirety of X-Men '97, Season One.

While the series is a sequel to a cartoon of the 90s that defined a great many childhoods, it was made clear from the time of it's announcement that X-Men '97 was gunning for a different target demographic than the original X-Men: The Animated Series. '97 is a series for those who grew up with the original, a series for fans of the X-Men comics and characters.

Despite this, some were still surprised by just how dark, violent, and downright tragic X-Men '97 was willing to go with the storylines it tackled. Here are some of the most devastating moments from X-Men '97, season one.

1. Storm loses her powers and leaves the team (1x02, 'Mutant Liberation Begins')

In any incarnation of the X-Men of which she has been a part, be it in comics, animation, or live-action film, Ororo Monroe, better known as Storm, is one of the team's big guns. She proves this in the very first episode of X-Men '97, stepping in to aid the team in a pivotal moment while battling the Sentinels. So, it comes as a shock when, just one episode later, Storm takes a shot from a weapon intended for Magneto, and loses access to her powers. Feeling she no longer has a place on the team, Storm leaves the X-Mansion.

Of course, Storm is such an important character that getting her powers back is a foregone conclusion. However, given Storm's connection to the elements is so intrinsically a part of her, her devastation at being unable to feel the wind is no less heartbreaking.

2. Scott and Madelyne are forced to give up baby Nathan (1x03, 'Fire Made Flesh')

During episode 1x02, the woman the X-Men believe to be Jean Grey gives birth to Scott Summers/Cyclops's son, whom they name Nathan. However, in the episode's twist ending, a woman identical to Jean arrives at the front door of the Manor and collapses. This turns out to be the real Jean, while Nathan's Mother, later renamed Madelyne Pryor, is a clone planted by Mr. Sinister as part of a long-held plan to obtain Scott and Jean's DNA. Sinister takes control of Madelyne, transforming her into the Goblin Queen, instructing her to abduct Nathan and bring him to him.

Things take a turn for the better when Jean frees Madelyne from Sinister's control, and she and Scott are seemingly able to rescue Nathan. Sadly, Sinister has infected the boy with a Techno-organic virus, the cure for which doesn't yet exist. To ensure Nathan's survival, he must travel to the future with Bishop, but his parents can not accompany him.

For Cyclops, suffering abandonment issues from his own childhood, the decision, and his refusal to say goodbye, haunts him for the remainder of the series. The fact most viewers know that little Nathan will be fine, growing up to become the time-travelling hero Cable, does little to soften the blow.

3. Rogue and Gambit's break-up (1x05, 'Remember It')

Fans who grew up with the original X-Men cartoon will likely have fond memories of the cheeky, flirtatious dynamic between Rogue and Remy LeBeau, aka Gambit. While the two are clearly close, the relationship is complicated due to the fact that Rogue's powers render the pair unable to physically touch. The early episodes of X-Men '97 create a love triangle by teasing a past romantic relationship between Rogue and Magneto, a situation that comes to a head in episode 1x05, 'Remember It', when Magneto offers Rogue a place at his side ruling the Mutant nation of Genosha.

Visiting Remy before a Gala to celebrate Genosha's acceptance into the U.N, Rogue confirms her past with Magneto, who, unlike Gambit, can safely touch Rogue due to his ability to manipulate magnetic fields. The chance at an intimate relationship, as well as a chance to improve Mutant lives as a leader, proves too tempting, and she ends her relationship with Gambit. Despite asserting that, 'Some things are deeper than skin', Gambit accepts the decision with surprising grace.

Rogue's subsequent realisation that Remy was right makes what unfolds next all the more tragic.

4. The genocide of Genosha (1x05, 'Remember It')

While fans of the X-Men comics were already aware that the story of Genosha does not have a happy ending, they probably were not expecting it to come as early, or brutally, as it does in X-Men '97. During the Gala, Genosha comes under attack from a new, highly advanced Sentinel. An untold number of Mutanta are killed, and the country as a whole all but decimated.

Many fans were left shocked by the level of violence in these scenes.

5. Magneto Comforts Leech in the moments before his death (1x05, 'Remember It')

For Magneto, witnessing the death and destruction of the Genosha massacre brings unpleasant memories of growing up during the Holocaust. Unfortunately, his desperation to avenge those killed, while also attempting to rescue the formerly sewer-dwelling Morlocks, whom he had sent to Genosha with the promise of safety back in 1x02, draws the attention of what Gambit had described as a Godzilla-like Sentinel.

While Magneto manages to keep Rogue and Gambit clear of the Sentinel's attack, it is too late for the Morlocks, most notably young Leech, who clings to Magneto for safety. All Magneto can do is whisper, in German:

"Do not be afraid."

Moments later, they are all apparently killed.

Beast and Leech in X-Men: The Animated Series

Leech, while a minor character, has been a fan favourite since X-Men: The Animated Series, most notably for his heartstring-tugging appearance in the episode 'Have Yourself A Morlock Little Christmas', when the X-Men band together on Christmas Eve to save Leech after he has fallen ill. Leech is just a boy, in his early teens at the most, and certainly did not deserve to die so cruelly.

While Magneto is later revealed to have survived, Leech's death, after having promised the boy that he would be safe, haunts him, driving his decision to turn on humanity once more later in the series.

6. Gambit's heroic sacrifice (1x05, 'Remember It')

Almost immediately after Magneto's supposed death, the Sentinel begins recharging for a final strike against the survivors of Genosha. Gambit works quickly to prevent this, and while the Sentinel believes it had thwarted Gambit's attack by impaling him, Gambit channels his kinetic energy through the spike he was stabbed with, blowing up the Sentinel and saving the remaining survivors at the cost of his own life.

What follows is one of the most heartbreaking moments of the entire series, as Rogue cradles Remy's broken body, finally able to touch him in death, and sobs.

"Sugar.. I can't feel you."

The moment is made even worse by the fact that Gambit died never knowing that Rogue had chosen him.

7. Emma Frost is pulled from the rubble of Genosha.. thus confirming Madelyne's death (1x07, 'Bright Eyes')

When President Kelly refuses to provide any more resources to the rescue effort in Genosha, concerned that it could send the wrong message amid fears of an Evolotionary War, the X-Men take it upon themselves to join the search for survivors, and thus provide the hope that the rest of the world will not. Jean links with a fellow telepath among the rubble, raising Cyclops's hopes that the missing Madelyne will be found alive.

However, instead, it is Emma Frost that is pulled alive from the rubble. Given the time that has passed, it is unlikely that Madelyne or anyone else will be found alive. Cyclops grieves the loss of his son's Mother, and in a sweet moment amidst the devastation, Jean comforts him as he does so, despite the issues Madelyne's existence caused for their relationship.

8. Rogue finally breaks down (1x07, 'Bright Eyes')

Rogue spends most of episode 1xo7, 'Bright Eyes', on a roaring rampage of revenge in search Henry Gyrich and Bolivar Trask, the original creators of the Sentinels, deeming them responsible for Gambit's death. She is so consumed by this task that she even fails to attend Gambit's funeral.

The rest of the team's current mission overlaps with Rogue's when they receive a distress call from Trask, and they meet up with her in Madripoor. Soon after, Rogue breaks down in the arms of her adopted brother, Nightcrawler, finally allowing herself a moment to mourn Remy's loss.

These scenes are all the more effective for the real grief buried with in them. Voice actress Lenore Zann lost her teenage niece to Cancer shortly before recording for X-Men '97 began, and channelled her sadness into her performance as Rogue.

9. Roberto's Mother allows the Prime Sentinels to take him (1x08, 'Tolerance Is Extinction, pt 1')

For most of X-Men '97's first season, Roberto Da Costa, a teenage mutant with the ability to manipulate solar energy, is nervous about revealing his Mutant status to his Mother, Nina. He eventually reveals the truth in 'Bright Eyes', with the support of Jubilee, with whom he has closely bonded. The conversation seems to go well at first, with Nina revealing she had already suspected Roberto was a Mutant, claiming acceptance.

However, things soon go downhill when Nina says Roberto's Mutant status must be kept secret to avoid alienating their company's stockholders. Jubilee soon begins taking issue with Nina's superficial charity, throwing a fundraising party for Genosha while failing to openly accept her Mutant son. The situation falls apart entirely in the first part of the season finale.

Fleeing an attack from the Prime Sentinels while on a shopping trip, Roberto and Jubilee crash into Nina's party, exposing his Mutation to her guests. Roberto begs his Mother for help, but when the Sentinels lie that they are there to help Mutants, she saves face with her guests by allowing them to take Roberto and Jubilee. If not for Storm's timely intervention, and Magneto's actions shutting down the Prime Sentinels, the pair surely would have been killed.

10. A troubling hint at things to come (1x10, 'Tolerance Is Extinction, pt 3')

Following the X-Men's disappearance after their brave actions in preventing Asteroid M from colliding with Earth, we hear a brief news excerpt claiming that Graydon Creed is creeping ahead of President Kelly in polls. In the original series, Creed is the leader of the Mutant-hating Friends of Humanity group. He is later revealed as the son of Sabretooth and Mystique and half-brother of Nightcrawler, but his heritage does nothing to change his mutant views.

While we as viewers know the X-Men are alive, albeit scattered in time, it is generally accepted in-universe that they gave their lives stopping Asteroid M. Everyone witnessed a group of Mutants give their lives to save the planet, and they are still on the verge of electing an anti-mutant leader. Humans have learned nothing from Genosha or it's aftermath, making this tiny voiceover perhaps the most devastating moment of all.

Things are going to get worse for the X-Men before they get better.

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About the Creator

Kristy Anderson

Passionate About all things Entertainment!

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