Being a mutant has never been easy in the Marvel Universe, particularly if you’re associated with the X-Men. Marvel’s heroic outcasts have sought to protect a world that hates and fears them since their inception, even at the cost of life and limb.
Though many X-Men don’t stay dead, most die at some point. However, while many X-Men have met an average or even ignominious fate, a special category of characters sacrificed themselves for the greater good. From trainee X-Men to founding members, some of the most heroic X-Men have paid the ultimate price.
The following article contains spoilers for the event A.X.E.: Judgment Day.
9/9 The Fall of the Mutants Saw All The X-Men Die
“Fall of the Mutants” was a 1988 crossover that saw the teams in the various X-titles suffer extreme loss. Following the passage of the Mutant Registration Act, Freedom Force chased the X-Men to Dallas, Texas. Once there, the two teams learned of a larger supernatural threat: the Adversary.
To lock away the Adversary outside their dimension, Forge needed to cast a spell that required nine deaths. The X-Men stepped forward and the heroic sacrifices of Storm, Wolverine, Rogue, Colossus, Psylocke, Havok, Madelyne Pryor, Dazzler, and Longshot was broadcast to the world, though the team would soon be reincarnated by the goddess Roma.
8/9 Sunspot Helped Win The War of the Realms
Thor villains and the X-Men have an astonishing amount of history together, so it came as no surprise when Magik assembled a team of mutants to help the heroes of the Marvel Universe fight back against Malekith’s invasion in “The War of the Realms.” Rejoining the team was her former New Mutant teammate, Sunspot.
As the X-Men sought refuge from the Frost Giant forces of the Enchantress and Sabretooth, Sunspot chose to destroy an amulet the Enchantress was using to block Magik’s powers. Sunspot died in the ensuing explosion, though his sacrifice allowed Magik to banish the attacking army to Limbo and decapitate Sabretooth.
7/9 Magneto Found Rest In His Sacrifice
Recent Marvel crossover “A.X.E.: Judgment Day” saw the X-Men, Avengers, and Eternals team up and fight the Progenitor, a hero-created Celestial who sought to judge Earth. However, the Progenitor was only created to repel the forces of Eternal leader Druig. On Arrako/Mars, these forces were led against Magneto by Uranos.
Magneto, Storm, and Sunspot teamed with other heroes and mutants to fight back against the invaders, but Magneto ultimately lost his life defeating Uranos. Having already had his mind removed from Krakoan databanks, Magneto asked Storm to let him pass on to the world of the dead.
6/9 Everyone Died In The Age of Apocalypse
The Age of Apocalypse timeline was grim, but even the darkest dimensions have their heroes. Led by Bishop, the X-Men of Earth-295 sought to restore the proper reality to existence. Unfortunately, this required them to destroy their own world.
For some of the X-Men, like Colossus, this was too much and caused them to lash out. Others, like Rogue, accepted it more gracefully. Though the timeline would later be restored via a series of retcons, the initial ending of the Age of Apocalypse saw the majority of Marvel’s merry mutants save the world by choosing to sacrifce themselves.
5/9 Banshee Saved A Planeful of People
Though Banshee has never been the flashiest of the X-Men, he’s always been there for the group. The good-hearted Irishman first served as a member of the All-New, All-Different line-up before going on to help Emma Frost co-lead 90s teen team Generation X. However, Banshee met his end in the pages of Deadly Genesis.
When the villainous Vulcan made his return seeking revenge on Professor X, he also sought to destroy his team. Vulcan attempted to crash a plane into the X-Men’s Blackbird, but Banshee intercepted. Ultimately, Banshee failed and died in the collision. Though unsuccessful, the X-hero’s valiant death reflected his noble life.
4/9 Pyro Went Out In Flames
The fire-blasting Pyro is a key component to any good Brotherhood of Evil Mutants line-up. Still, Pyro’s initial death was an act of gallantry and sacrifice rather than careless marauding. Following leaving the government team Freedom Force, Pyro caught the mutant-killing Legacy Virus.
Pyro had distinct difficulty dealing with his impending mortality, lashing out both intentionally and not. Pyro’s last act was to visit a rally for the anti-mutant Senator Kelly. His former Brotherhood colleagues attacked, and Pyro gave his life to stop their attack from killing the senator. Pyro’s sacrifice helped Kelly take a new point of view.
3/9 Cypher Died Because Of His Lack Of Popularity
Thanks to his communing with Krakoa, Doug Ramsey, AKA Cypher, is one of the most important and powerful X-Men today. However, this was not the case during his initial appearances in the New Mutants, where fans and creators alike found his language-comprehending powers more boring than anything else.
Fans often complained that Cypher didn’t do anything in battle, but the Louise Simonson-penned New Mutants storyline in “Fall of the Mutants” sought to change that. While battling the Ani-Mator, Cypher leaped in front of a bullet aimed at his teammate Wolfsbane, taking him off the page for years.
Magik Sacrificed Her Identity
The members of the New Mutants have been through a lot, but none have been through more than Magik. After being kidnaped as a child by the demon lord Belasco, Illyana Rasputin learned the ways of sorcery and exiled Belasco to become the ruler of Limbo herself.
However, Magik’s association with Limbo caused the existence of the Darkchylde persona. Slowly, this corrupted Magik and led to the “Inferno” crossover. To defeat the invading demons, teenage Magik sacrificed her memory and identity. Though Magik quickly returned to the page as a child version of herself, she had lost most of her memories and relationships,
2/9 Colossus Sacrificed Himself So Others Could Live
Later, the de-aged Magik would die of the Legacy Virus. This devastated Colossus. After losing most of the rest of his family, Piotr Rasputin became a broken man for much of the 90s. Knowing it would kill him, Colossus injected himself with the cure to the virus. This allowed the cure to become airborne and spread worldwide.
Colossus’s death saved the lives of countless mutants. His teammates were touched by his sacrifice, and Kate Pryde spread her former partner’s ashes across the plains in his homeland of Russia.
1/9 The Phoenix Force Sacrificed Itself For The X-Men
When Jean Grey took on the power of the Phoenix, she brought the genie out of the proverbial bottle. Though her power levels increased, her mental state began to decline, and the Dark Phoenix began to rise. Eventually, the Dark Phoenix absorbed the life force of an entire solar system.
The X-Men were brought to trial by the Shi’ar, leading to a battle on the Blue Area of the Moon. There, Jean Grey sacrificed her life to save her teammates. Though it was later revealed to have been the Phoenix in the guise of Grey, the sacrifice remains the noblest and most tragic in X-Men history.
NEXT: The X-Men’s 10 Most Underrated Accomplishments