For many fans, X-Men: The Animated Series is the definitive version of Professor Xavier’s mutants. The show adapted popular storylines from the comics, including the seminal “Days of Future Past,” created by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin.
While this two-part arc is still praised by fans to this day, there were several liberties taken in the animated adaptation. It included elements of Uncanny X-Men #287, written by Jim Lee and Scott Lobdell and illustrated by John Romita Jr. Bishop assumed Kitty Pryde’s place in this retelling, where he was responsible for traveling back in time to stop the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly. To prevent the post-apocalyptic future, the time-traveling mutant had to find and stop the traitor in the X-Men‘s ranks: Gambit.
Viewers were left shocked as the first part of the arc ended with Bishop firing his gun at the Ragin’ Cajun. No one could believe X-Men: The Animated Series would turn a wildly popular character into a killer and harbinger of the apocalypse. That being said, the “death” of Morph in “Night of the Sentinels” proved anything was possible in this series, so maybe Gambit wasn’t really whom he claimed to be.
The start of the next episode revealed Gambit wasn’t actually killed by Bishop. Rogue absorbed the first blast to save her mon ami while the Cajun mutant survived the second shot. After the X-Men diffused the situation, Bishop explained how Gambit’s assassination of Senator Kelly triggered a series of events where the future wasn’t so rosy for mutants.
X-Men: The Animated Series writers Julia Jane Lewald, Robert N. Skir and Marty Isenberg perfectly sowed the seeds of doubt and swerved the fans by having the team question Gambit after Bishop’s revelation. At that point, Remy LeBeau’s past hadn’t been explored on the show, making him something of an enigma and unknown quantity.
Storm‘s statement that “we are all capable of evil” was harrowing and exceptionally deep for an animated show at the time. As Gambit looked around the room for allies who believed in his innocence, no one could meet his eye, presuming the worst of him. In that moment, every viewer was torn in two. What if he was innocent and no one had his back? Or worse, what if he was actually the killer?
When Gambit used an exploding card on Bishop and Wolverine to escape the mansion, there was even more doubt cast on his supposed innocence. It didn’t take too long for the viewers to discover he was actually on his way to stop the real threat: The shapeshifter Mystique, who posed as Gambit.
Of course, the X-Men succeeded in preventing the assassination of Senator Kelly, even though it had no impact on Bishop’s future. It also ensured conversations between Gambit and his cohorts at the X-Mansion were awkward for several weeks afterwards. In fact, he never even seemed to receive an apology from his teammates for doubting him in the first place.
Ultimately, X-Men: The Animated Series‘ “Days of Future Past” served as a redemption arc for Gambit. Much like the show’s other lessons, it was a reminder that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
Gambit is one of the most popular Marvel heroes, but X-Men: The Animated Series ran a storyline where he was almost turned into a bad guy.