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The Best Episodes Of X-Men: The Animated Series, According To IMDb

The 1990s was a dominant period for children's cartoons. As a kid, the amount of choice on television seemed unlimited, and every Saturday morning was a thrilling opportunity to watch all your favorite characters and heroes come to life. One of the best Saturday morning cartoons was "X-Men: The Animated Series," which was a mainstay on Fox's weekend lineup from 1992 to 1997.

It was no easy task to turn a beloved comic book franchise into an animated series, but the creators pulled off a successful and wildly entertaining television show. It had great animation and a fantastic voice cast, and frankly, it's difficult to be a child and not be completely transfixed by the phenomenal opening credit sequence. "X-Men: The Animated Series" has stood the test of time and proven to be popular amongst children and adults. With the recent news that Disney+ is reviving the animated series after over 20 years off the air, we thought it was high time to revisit the excellence of the original seasons. While the show is chock-full of iconic moments, we wanted to look at the very best episodes the show had to offer fans over its five seasons. So, let's get on with the best episodes of "X-Men: The Animated Series," according to IMDb.

12. One Man's Worth: Part 1 (Season 4, Episode 1)

What would happen if the magnificent Professor Charles Xavier never formed the X-Men? This is the question asked by "One Man's Worth: Part 1," which is kind of like "X-Men" meets the Frank Capra classic "It's A Wonderful Life." Time-traveling mutant Bishop appears, so you know that just like fan-favorite episodes like "Days of Future Past" and "Time Fugitives," "One Man's Worth" is all about fixing something in the past to prevent a disastrous future. In this episode, Charles Xavier died long before forming the School for Gifted Youngsters, the X-Men don't exist, and the gap between human and mutant relations has not been bridged, so the world has been plunged into chaos.

One of the most interesting things about this scenario is that Wolverine and Storm are together, not just as fighting partners but as husband and wife — a wonderful nod to fan desire to see these two characters together. The episode is a heck of a lot of fun, and it's quite the thrill to see Xavier as a person with no idea of how incredibly important he is to mutants, the X-Men, and humanity as a whole.

11. Beyond Good and Evil: Part 4 (Season 4, Episode 11)

"Beyond Good and Evil" is something of an epic in its own right, spanning four episodes. It's huge, operatic, and, quite frankly, feels epic. The story is so massive and the stakes are so high that it wouldn't have surprised us if this was the series finale, though we think "Graduation Day" is certainly a more fitting conclusion to "X-Men: The Animated Series."

The four-part story is all about the power of Apocalypse. Before you panic, it's a much better version than 2016's "X-Men: Apocalypse." Apocalypse's goal is in his name — he's determined to eliminate all of time itself and cause the entire universe to cease to exist, literally bringing the apocalypse to light. "Part 4" is the ultimate showdown of Apocalypse versus, well, everyone. The X-Men and Brotherhood — as well as everyone in between — need to unite to try and take down Mister Sinister and Apocalypse. This episode has some of the most exciting action sequences in the series, especially when Wolverine and Cable (with the help of Magneto and Mystique) travel through Apocalypse's fortress to take down the big bad himself. "Beyond Good and Evil: Part 4" is a non-stop thrill ride that is the highlight of each and every rewatch of the animated series.

10. Graduation Day (Season 5, Episode 14)

As the final episode of "X-Men: The Animated Series," it's hard to not get a little misty-eyed just thinking about "Graduation Day." There's quite a bit of fan service in the show's grand finale, bringing back what seems like every character who ever went anywhere near the show. But miraculously, they all feel completely necessary and perfectly placed. In this episode, Charles Xavier has been fighting for mutant equality for so long and is near his breaking point. At the beginning of the episode, he is exposed on live television as a mutant, which causes his health to spiral, leading the X-Men into an effort to save Xavier's life.

Yes, the serious drop in animation quality and budget in the 5th season prevents "Graduation Day" from being truly and completely spectacular, but it's still full of memorable moments. Perhaps the very best is Magneto's revelation of how he truly feels about Xavier. When questioned by Jean Grey about how much he loves Xavier, Magneto explodes, saying, "He was my only equal. I owe him my life!" Of all the wonderful things that happen in the series finale — and the entire show, for that matter — Magneto affirming his undying respect for Xavier is one of the best things to happen.

9. Time Fugitives: Part 1 (Season 2, Episode 7)

In a very distant future (A.D. 3999, to be exact), Cable leads a group of warriors against Terminator-like robots. They are the minions of Apocalypse, the ultimate big bad of the future who is trying to unleash some sort of a bio-weapon that will release a plague to kill all mutants. A temporal storm devastates the city, and Cable's A.I. explains that Bishop has traveled back in time to stop a disease from spreading, and as a result, Cable's entire world will cease to exist. Cable is left with a seemingly impossible choice, as if he saves his world, he'll have to allow Apocalypse to succeed, resulting in the destruction of the past world and all of our beloved X-Men.

"Time Fugitives: Part 1" could have quite easily been a lazy retread of "Days of Future Past." After all, it's another story about going back to the past to save the future, and it comes only a handful of episodes after "Future Past." But thanks to clever writing and impressive character moments, this story feels fresh and interesting.

8. The Dark Phoenix: Part 3 — Dark Phoenix (Season 3, Episode 13)

Jean Grey is back! Or, at least, she was. In the second part of the Dark Phoenix story, the evil awakens inside Jean, and she transforms into Dark Phoenix, and you better believe she's ready to wreak havoc. The episode and story as a whole are a stark contrast to the earlier "Phoenix Saga," in which Phoenix sacrificed her life to save the X-Men. Now, consumed by darkness, Jean is losing the battle in her mind to Dark Phoenix, who is hellbent on destroying everything in her path, including our beloved X-Men.

The result is "The Dark Phoenix: Part 3 — Dark Phoenix," one of the most action-packed episodes of the entire series. It's also emotionally complex — something the series does brilliantly — as Jean Grey is still present within Dark Phoenix and still very much in love with Cyclops. Admittedly, it's a little uncomfortable, as during something of a breakdown, Dark Phoenix becomes teenage Jean Grey and returns to her childhood home. Thankfully, this doesn't last too long, and we get a tortured showdown between Wolverine and Dark Phoenix, who takes full advantage of the X-Man's emotional vulnerability.

The episode concludes in an awe-inspiring face-off between Dark Phoenix and Charles Xavier. Ultimately, Xavier succeeds in defeating Dark Phoenix and restoring Jean, but in the end, Lilandra comes and demands the execution of Jean Grey.

7. The Dark Phoenix: Part 4 — The Fate of Phoenix (Season 3, Episode 14)

"The Dark Phoenix" saga is something that X-Men creatives have returned to time and time again, including in two live-action cinematic efforts, "X-Men 3: The Last Stand" and "Dark Phoenix." Thankfully for fans of the X-Men universe, the animated series handles the story in an infinitely more satisfying way than its live-action counterparts. In "The Dark Phoenix: Part 4 — The Fate of Phoenix," the Shi'ar people demand the termination of Jean Grey, as she has simply caused too much damage to the universe — even if Jean was under the control of Dark Phoenix.

In many ways, this episode is a showcase for Professor Xavier, who has a complicated romantic relationship with Shi'ar Empress Lilandra. The two engage in a mental duel in an effort to prove Jean deserves to live. Meanwhile, the rest of the X-Men engage in a huge brawl with the Imperial Guard, and it all takes place on the moon! While the action is of the great caliber we've come to expect from "X-Men: The Animated Series," it's the emotional story of Jean and Scott that makes the episode soar. Jean pleads with Scott to allow her to be sacrificed, as she cannot get over the pain and irrevocable damage she has caused the universe, even if it was out of her control. In the end, the X-Men each sacrifice a part of themselves to remove Phoenix from Jean once and for all, bringing her back to the world.

6. One Man's Worth: Part 2 (Season 4, Episode 4)

Truth be told, it's a little surprising that "One Man's Worth: Part 2" is so highly regarded by fans on IMDb, with a rating of 8.3. Don't get us wrong — there's plenty of goodness in the episode, which features some thrilling battles and genuine moments of emotion. In "X-Men: The Animated Series," the final parts of multi-episode story arcs are usually the best, but in many ways, the second part of "One Man's Worth" feels like a less interesting retread of the first. Still, there's certainly a lot more action in the second part, which is likely a big reason it is regarded so highly.

There are probably two other reasons why the episode is so beloved, and they're both some of the most beautifully written moments in the show's history. One is the sacrifice Shard and Forge both make to ensure Bishop can succeed with his mission to save Xavier, and the other is the devastating realization that Wolverine and Storm must give up their marriage to protect the world. The latter duo shares a heartbreaking sequence as they share a passionate kiss in their final moments and hold each other in a tender embrace. Eventually, reality kicks in, and they are brought back to the present day, where they are merely friends. It's both highly emotional and beautifully animated and more than makes up for the rather meandering nature of the rest of the episode.

5. The Final Decision (Season 1, Episode 13)

Set immediately after "Days of Future Past: Part 2," "The Final Decision" is the 1st season finale. After the kidnapping of senator Robert Kelly, anti-mutant protests are rampant, and the X-Men set out on a super high-stakes mission that requires not only their best but some help from unexpected places. X-Men is always most exciting when its two greatest minds — Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto — work together, and it's awesome to see them combat ideas in "The Final Decision."

The episode is undeniably fun, as every member of the X-Men gets in on the action. A particularly great moment comes from Storm, who uses a windstorm to effectively launch a group of Sentinels into a giant blender. Even Jubilee gets in on the action and kills a couple of Sentinels, and nobody seems more surprised than Jubilee herself. The action is really top-notch and includes a thrilling fight with Gambit, Wolverine, and Sentinels in the dark. Featuring some of the series' best action sequences and extremely high stakes, it's no surprise "The Final Decision" is such a fan favorite.

4. Time Fugitives: Part 2 (Season 2, Episode 8)

"Time Fugitives: Part 2" takes place immediately after the end of the first part and starts with a face-off between Cable and Bishop, both men fighting not only for themselves but for each of their respective universes. Cable actually wins the fight and has the opportunity to kill Bishop and save his own world, but keeps him alive, as he only kills when absolutely necessary. Cable's moral compass is put under serious duress in "Part 2," as it's clear he may have to make some decisions he regrets to save his world.

Cable makes a discovery that could save both his world and the X-Men's world: Wolverine's healing abilities could potentially produce antibodies to stop the plague from spreading, allowing Apocalypse to spread the plague without wiping out humanity. The episode is a real showcase for what a fascinating character Cable is. Not only does he have a complex and fascinating moral code, but he's also a tremendously gifted fighter with a huge arsenal of abilities and technology on his side. Featuring plenty of awe-inspiring action sequences, a frightening look at the might of Apocalypse, great teamwork, and a thrilling moral quandary, "Time Fugitives: Part 2" is beloved by fans with an 8.4 rating on IMDb.

3. Phoenix Saga, Part 5: Child of Light (Season 3, Episode 7)

One of the most emotionally harrowing of all "X-Men" episodes and the amazing conclusion to a five-part story, "Phoenix Saga, Part 5: Child of Light" is incredible television. There's such a crazy amount going on in the "Phoenix Saga," as various planets and universes collide into unfathomable chaos. As the "X-Men: Animated Series" creators explain to Polygon, to keep audiences from getting too confused, the focus remained on two key relationships: Scott and Jean, and Xavier and Lilandra. This not only kept things streamlined but allowed for truly harrowing television. The emotional and complex story is also aided by some of the best animation seen in the entire series and enormous, wide-scale action sequences.

At the beginning of "Part 5," D'Ken has become one with the Crystal and is creating his own universe in it. If he isn't stopped, everyone will end up as part of the Crystal. The only thing standing in his way is Phoenix — formerly Jean Grey — as she is the only one powerful enough to put an end to D'Ken's power. Few things in the entire animated series are as exciting as watching Phoenix and D'Ken brawl in a fight for humanity. Ultimately, the revelation comes that the only way to save humanity is for Phoenix to take D'Ken and the Crystal to the great beyond, sacrificing herself in the process. Phoenix's goodbye is undeniably heartbreaking, but it's simply epic television.

2. Days of Future Past: Part 1 (Season 1, Episode 11)

"Days of Future Past: Part 1" takes audiences straight into the future, and things aren't looking good. The year is 2055, the streets are rife with destruction, and the Sentinels survey the skies, ready to destroy mutants at will. Bishop, a mutant hunter, is found attacking some young mutants, who are fighting alongside Wolverine. Bishop kidnaps the trio, which leads us to a major revelation: Wolverine is the only member of the X-Men still alive. Forge, the leader of a group of rebels, informs Bishop and Wolverine that an assassination back in the 1990s is believed to be the root cause for these apocalyptic changes. Even more shocking, it appears that the assassination was pulled off by one of the X-Men! Bishop makes the decision to use a portal to go back to the 1990s to find the X-Men and try and prevent this horrifying version of the future from ever happening.

It's no surprise that "Future Past: Part 1" is the second-best episode with an 8.6 rating on IMDb. It's filled with some major twists and turns and thrilling action sequences, including a particularly epic moment from Storm. The storyline is also based on issues #141-142 of the "Uncanny X-Men" comics and has proven to be so popular that it also provides the basis of 2014's "X-Men: Days of Future Past."

1. Days of Future Past: Part 2 (Season 1, Episode 12)

In this episode, Bishop is determined that Gambit is the assassin and opens fire, though he's stopped by Rogue, who absorbs the blast. Bishop reveals that Gambit is going to murder an essential person in Washington, which leads to mutants being enslaved and the death of all the X-Men. There's plenty of infighting amongst the X-Men as they debate and discuss whether Gambit could really be the assassin, which, unsurprisingly, annoys Gambit a great deal. So much so that he sets out to Washington — not to commit the killing, he claims, but to get to the bottom of things and stop the assassination once and for all. The whole gang ends up traveling to the nation's capital, which leads to the shocking revelation that Gambit — or rather, Mystique posing as Gambit — is indeed the assassin.

"Days of Future Past: Part 2" is the highest-ranked episode of "X-Men: The Animated Series," with an IMDb rating of 8.6. The show is always most exciting when it deals with the political implications of mutant/human relations, and this focus is amped up considerably in this episode. After all, a political assassination threatens to lead to the downfall of not only the mutants but society as a whole. It also features great fights with tons of classic villains, including Pyro and Blob. In an episode filled with so much intrigue, action, and excitement, it's no surprise it ends with a dramatic cliffhanger ending.