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Every X-Men: The Animated Series Main Hero Ranked By Likability

Fans of the beloved "X-Men: The Animated Series" got a welcome surprise on November 12's Disney+ Day, which announced the return of the show that defined a generation of X-Fans in the form of "X-Men '97." The continuation promises to bring back many actors and beloved characters from the original series, along with plenty of new faces, per Marvel.

With largely accurate depictions of the characters and storylines from the comics (not to mention some spot-on casting), "X-Men: The Animated Series" is both the adaptation longtime readers waited years for and the show that brought legions of new fans into the fold. For many, the cartoon's revival feels like the long-awaited return of old friends, particularly considering how many of the original nine leads are slated to return. There's something about the way the show portrays the main X-Men cast that's just plain likable — hone in on any character, and you'll find a person who, though not without their quirks and imperfections, is inherently noble deep down. Being an adaptation, "X-Men" was also able to omit the occasional missteps the source material made with the gang.

This begs the question: Which of the X-Men from the show is the most likable? We don't mean who's the most popular or complex character, but who'd make the best friend? Get the comics, movies, and other shows out of your mind for this one, as this ranking's squarely focused on the "XTAS" versions of the characters.

Cyclops is a caring guy deep down

Cyclops has always been famous for being one of the most upright X-Men on the show, but also one of the most rigid. In some ways, the latter benefits him as a leader, as it's a sign of the assertiveness that keeps him from backing down from his decisions. However, that can sometimes lead to stubbornness — at least in Wolverine's view — especially when it comes to choices like leaving Morph and Beast behind in battle.

As one of the two people giving orders on the team, it's understandable that sometimes Scott can rub people the wrong way. He's also not always comfortable expressing his emotions, making him a tough person to know in combat situations. Still, he's a genuinely good person who really does care deeply about others, but sometimes you have to dig a little to bring that side of him to the surface. A particularly great example of Scott's compassion can be seen in "No Mutant Is an Island," where the X-Man serves as a mentor figure and protector to a group of mutant children being manipulated by Zebediah Killgrave, aka the Purple Man.

Wolverine's great when you don't tick him off

Wolverine is one of the most popular X-Men for a reason. Fiercely loyal to his friends and never afraid to speak his mind, Logan is the ultimate underdog — the guy who fights up close because he has no other choice and doesn't back down until he wins.

As a character, he's great and layered. Yet how is he as a person? A bit of a mixed bag. While he's the kind of guy you know will try to come back for you when your life is in danger, he's not the best at following orders, even when it's necessary. Plus, if you're dating a person he likes, that's not necessarily going to get him to back down. He's also got a grouchy side, along with a temper he infamously has a hard time controlling — sometimes to near-deadly results. You can trust him with your life, but only if you stay on his good side.

Storm's everything you like about the weather

A strong friend to Rogue and Gambit, in particular, Ororo Munroe is a bold and fearless person you can follow unquestioningly, rain or shine. When an innocent person is in danger, you know Storm will step in to protect them without hesitation. She also has a penchant for connecting with young people, as seen when she first introduces Jubilee to the X-Men.

That said, as her powers seem closely tied to her emotional state (much like in the comics), Storm may feel the need to close a part of herself off to prevent environmental havoc. For that reason, she may not always be the easiest to connect with. She can also sometimes be a little quick to use her more frightening powers, as seen when she summons wind and lighting while showing Jubilee around the X-Mansion. While some may also criticize Storm for being an often absent leader to the Morlocks (e.g. when they fight the Reavers, Lady Deathstrike, and the Spirit Drinker), she can't fully be blamed for it, as her claustrophobia makes staying in the sewers for extended periods very difficult. Moreover, she strives tirelessly to save Leech's life in "Have Yourself a Morlock Little X-Mas" and reinstates Callisto's leadership afterward, clearly having reevaluated her former rival. 

Professor X succeeds where his comic book self sometimes falters

The Charles Xavier of "X-Men: The Animated Series" has thankfully not made many of the missteps the Professor X from the comics has made, including becoming Onslaught and making Cyclops forget about one of his other brothers, Vulcan. Even the one time the "XTAS" version of Charles does seem to turn evil (namely in "The Phoenix Saga – Part 2: The Dark Shroud") ends up being caused by outside psychic manipulation. Furthermore, when "Sanctuary, Part 1" adapts Charles' falling out with Amelia Voght from "Uncanny X-Men" #309, Xavier doesn't try using telepathy to get Amelia to stay, as he does for a fleeting moment in the comic.

As a result, Charles becomes a much more trustworthy figure. He's the ultimate father figure to the team, compassionate to a fault, and always willing to help a student. However, because Professor X is a bit more formal and reserved than some of his students, he can be a little difficult to connect with, at least on a non-telepathic level. If you're a kind and caring person, you will get along with him, but being a close friend might be trickier — something Moira MacTaggert, who is a good friend to him, points out in "The Dark Shroud." His temper can also flare up in times of great stress (as seen in that same episode), but such instances are rare.

Gambit's charm is a double-edged sword

Who's the X-Men's smoothest talker who can pull off talking in the third person without sounding like Doctor Doom? That'd be Remy LeBeau, alias Gambit, a natural charmer who has impeccable aim when it comes to throwing playing cards. He has great comedic chemistry with just about everyone in the cast but particularly gets along with Rogue, with whom he always shares funny banter. For an ex-thief, he can also be surprisingly selfless, such as in "Sanctuary, Part 2," when he volunteers to stay behind fighting the Acolytes so his fellow X-Men can escape.

Because Gambit sometimes flirts with and invites other women out to dinner on the show, it's unclear whether his relationship with Rogue has fairly loose terms or if he's doing something he shouldn't, especially since his comic counterpart wrestled with infidelity. Romance generally isn't his strong suit, as he's been known to treat it as a game, making him sometimes oblivious to when Rogue needs a little compassion and personal space (as seen in "The Cure"). Gambit can also have a short fuse. For instance, he doesn't mince words if he's not a fan of your cooking, as seen by his and Jean's kitchen battles in "Have Yourself a Morlock Little X-Mas." You're more likely to survive his exploding temper than his kinetically-charged playing cards, but you're still probably better off alternating dinner duties with him rather than sharing them. 

Jean Grey gets you better than you get yourself

Walking a mile in someone's shoes is a concept Jean Grey understands better than most. As a telepath (who's also telekinetic), she has a unique understanding of others, much like her mentor, Charles Xavier. She is kind, altruistic, a great team player, and can even surprise you with a clever wisecrack or two. Jean is also capable of great acts of selflessness, such as when she took on the dangerous mission of piloting the Starcore space shuttle's re-entry into Earth's atmosphere in "The Phoenix Saga, Part 1: Sacrifice."

While Jean gets along with most of her teammates, she does seem to keep her close social circle fairly small, interacting the most with Professor X, Cyclops, and Wolverine. She also won't let rude outbursts about her skills as a chef go unchallenged, as Gambit learns the hard way when his and Jean's attempts to prepare a Christmas dinner for the team turn into an all-out war between the two. 

Rogue's pure fun to hang out with

She can wreck a tank with a punch, but Rogue's still one of the most approachable members on the team, thanks to her friendliness and strong sense of humor. When a friend's in trouble, she'll fight tooth and nail for them, and chances are pretty high that she'll win thanks to her flight and super-strength. While Rogue's inability to control her absorption powers has made her more aloof in other media (including "X-Men Evolution" and even certain points in the comics), that's rarely the case in "X-Men: The Animated Series," where she's typically highly social and gregarious. If anything, these traits helped her get closer to certain people by giving her a deeper understanding of them, such as with Archangel in "Come the Apocalypse" and "Obsession." Just don't cross her, as you might end up getting thrown out of a car (which is exactly what happens to Gambit in "The Cure"). She'll make sure you'll survive, though.

You'll be friends with Jubilee before you even realize it

If Jubilee had a secondary mutation, it'd be the ability to get along with just about everybody, from gruff mentor figures like Wolverine to mellower and more open people like Rogue, Beast, and Gambit. She has a particular gift for befriending small children, bonding quickly with Mariana of the Morlock in "Have Yourself A Morlock Little X-Mas," and comforting an entire group of kids with a story when trapped in a cave during "Jubilee's Fairytale Theater."

It's Jubilee's open heart and boundless optimism that bring her near the top of the likability list. Sure, she's occasionally prone to frustrated outbursts when the other X-Men impose rules and mandates on her she's not thrilled about, but she never goes overboard. Indeed, most people are likely to become pretty fast friends with Jubilee. Unless, of course, they're a supervillain on the receiving end of her fireworks. 

There's no better X-Men friend than Beast

As far as likability goes, the "XTAS" version of the Beast easily ranks at the top. A gentle soul with a quote for just about any situation, Henry "Hank" McCoy is trustworthy and principled, as strong and relatable a chaperone to Jubilee as he is to Wolverine on days when Logan's Weapon X memories (real and otherwise) threaten to overwhelm him. Even when dealing with the bigotry of others, Hank doesn't let it phase him, preferring to not waste mental energy on it and delving into his latest book instead. While the Beast from the comics has sometimes lost his way, making questionable choices that on one occasion actually put his entire timeline in danger, Beast from the show by and large displays a strong moral compass. Perhaps comic book Hank would benefit from a little counseling from his '90s TV self, Hank to Hank ... or rather, Beast to Beast.