X-Men: The Animated Series stands tall as the most loved Marvel animated series. For many fans of the merry mutants, the show was their introduction to the characters and the stories that have made the X-Men so successful in the comics genre for decades. So much oxygen is spent talking about X-Men: The Animated Series, that the follow-up series, X-Men: Evolution, often gets left out of the conversation, which is a real shame.
X-Men: Evolution was targeted at a younger audience than its predecessor, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t delve into the social and political aspects of the X-Men that have made the comics and characters so iconic. For four seasons, fans watched as the teenaged characters of X-Men: Evolution grew up. These are the ten best episodes, according to IMDb’s ratings.
10 Turn of the Rogue: 8.0
Since her introduction in Season 1, Episode 3, “Rogue Recruit”, everyone’s favorite mutant from Louisianna, Rogue, found herself torn between her alliance with Mystique and her burgeoning friendship with the X-Men. When it becomes clear that Mystique had tricked Rogue into thinking that the X-Men had attacked her, the young mutant makes her choice and joins Professor Xavier‘s team.
This episode acts as something of an ending for the first major storyline of X-Men: Evolution, with the team coming together now that Rogue has joined in. The episode also serves as an important moment for the relationship Xavier has with the younger X-Men, as they learn that he has been keeping information from them that affects their lives.
9 Ascension Part 1: 8.1
Part one of the series finale sees Apocalypse plan to turn every human with a dormant X-gene into a mutant. The X-Men must stop the villain from completing his plan, but Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen stand in their way. Adding to the drama, the Four Horsemen are Mystique, Professor X, Storm, and Magneto.
As if that isn’t enough for the X-Men to deal with, Nick Fury announces that the Sentinel Program is being restarted to deal with the immortal mutant. “Ascension Part 1” is filled with the kind of over the top drama that has made the X-Men so popular for so long.
8 Day of Reckoning Part 1: 8.2
While fighting Sabertooth in the sewers, Wolverine is captured by Bolivar Trask. Believing that Wolverine has been taken by Magneto, Professor Xavier invites the Brotherhood to join the X-Men to train in the Danger Room so that the two teams can be prepared to work together to deal with the Master of Magnetism when he attacks. Angered by this, Cyclops leaves the team. Unsurprisingly, the Brotherhood isn’t on the up and up. Meanwhile, Trask reveals his plan to Wolverine; the Sentinels. And to test his new army of machines built to destroy mutants, Trask activates one of them to kill Wolverine.
7 The Cauldron Part 2: 8.2
6 Day of Recovery: 8.3
Picking up from the Season 2’s “Day of Reckoning Part 2”, Season 3, Episode 1, “Day of Recovery” sees the aftermath of the world learning that mutants exist, and Mystique revealing to the X-Men that she has been pretending to be Professor X and that everything that has happened is because of her.
The world of the X-Men is thrown into chaos as they lose not only their mentor but their school as well. Now, feared and hated by mankind, the X-Men don’t know how to move forward, but they know they must keep Professor X’s dream alive.
5 Self Possessed: 8.3
After learning that her new friend Risty is actually Mystique in disguise, Rogue suffers a mental breakdown and her latent multiple personality disorder emerges. Now, with the powers of every mutant she has ever touched, the X-Men are forced to fight their own teammate to stop her from hurting herself or anyone else.
Along with having a great fight scene, this episode plays on the great character-building work the series has done over the three seasons that led up to this moment. We feel for Rogue as her entire life if overturned, and for the other X-Men who don’t know what they can do to help their friend.
4 The Stuff of Heroes: 8.3
Season 3, Episode 2, “The Stuff of Heroes” continues the ramifications from the season two finale. Now that the world knows that mutants exist, Storm and Beast go before the US Senate to try and calm the fears that the country is dealing with. Meanwhile, Cyclops and Wolverine disagree on how to deal with the soldiers that have tracked the X-Men down.
At the same time, Mystique sends out Juggernaut to destroy a dam. The X-Men stop Juggernaut in front of the eyes of millions of TV viewers. Along with finding the missing Professor X, the footage of the X-Men saving lives makes it clear to the world that they are not the enemy. This episode sets up the new status quo for the series and also plays up the rivalry between Wolverine and Cyclops that will continue.
3 Dark Horizon Part 2: 8.4
The Season 3 finale, “Dark Horizon Part 2” sees the X-Men, Mystique’s Brotherhood, and Magneto’s Acolytes come together hoping to stop the resurrection of Apocalypse. As these things usually go for superheroes, the X-Men’s attempt to stop the rise of Apocalypse is exactly what the world’s first mutant needs to regain his power. When the find the withered and weak Apocalypse, the villain uses Rogue to power himself up, stealing not only her energy but all of the powers she has taken from others over the years. This dark turn of events sets the stage for the fourth and final season of X-Men: Evolution.
2 Day of Reckoning Part 2: 8.6
In the Season 2 finale, “Day of Reckoning Part 2”, the X-Men and the Brotherhood have teamed up to try and stop Magneto from revealing the existence of mutants to the world. At the same time, Wolverine is busy battling Bolivar Trask’s Sentinels and the New Mutants are fighting the defenses of the Xavier Institute that Mystique set off.
This two-part story really kicked the series into the next gear, setting up storylines that would pay off across the next two seasons, and bringing a whole lot of tension to everything that follows it. Nothing would be the same afterward.
1 Ascension Part 2: 8.7
In the final episode of X-Men: Evolution, the X-Men, the New Mutants, the Brotherhood, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the Acolytes all work together to stop Apocalypse from living up to his name and killing every human on Earth. The final battle comes down to Rogue and Wolverine against the first mutant and the end of mankind.
The fourth and final season of X-Men: Evolution was only nine episodes. While the creators of the series had more stories to tell, the show was sadly canceled. To give fans a clue of what they had planned, the series ends with Professor X revealing the visions of the future he saw while he was controlled by Apocalypse. We’re all worse off for never getting to see those moments happen.
X-Men: Evolution, the follow-up to X-Men: The Animated Series, has some awesome episodes. These are the best, according to IMDb.