The X-Men comics started taking a dip in sales, but writers Chris Claremont and Len Wan, along with artist Dave Cock rum, breathed life into the X-Men once again by introducing new recruits like Storm, Nightcrawler, and Colossus. Characters like Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, and Jubilee are favorite household names as well and are contenders for the number one spot.
We're not thinking in terms of power levels alone, as that quickly narrows things down to an impossible conversation about who qualifies as an “Omega” mutant and which characters are more Megastar than others. Name recognition, uniqueness, and most importantly, the amount of time each member has been on the team, displaying their commitment to the dream that humans and mutants can work together.
This is a bit of a shock pick, but Guyana Rasputin has actually been a pretty important member of the team. She’s proven loyal to the cause no matter how bleak things have gotten, even when Earth was so deadly to mutants she had to provide a home in Limbo itself.
From those beginnings, she became one of the people fighting the hardest for mutants and their rights by joining the X-Men. She ditched her own timeline to come to the Marvel Prime Earth, where she would eventually gain the power of the Phoenix Force briefly.
She’s gone through everything, from the loss of her powers to marrying (and divorcing) royalty, but the one constant in her life has always been her devotion to the team. He gained blue skin and fur because he refused to accept who he was and tried to cure himself.
One of the worst parts of the original 1990s X-Men cartoon was that it didn’t make Nightcrawler a member of the team. The swashbuckler joined up with the team as a member of its “International” crew, and brought levity and his own brand of heroism, even though he'd been mistreated by humanity as a result of his looks.
Though he joined Excalibur for a time when he believed the X-Men were gone, he returned a decade later and has been fighting alongside them ever since; a gentle-yet-powerful veteran voice during many of their dark years. Admittedly, Jean might not have the exact same reputation as some other members of the team, but her devotion to Charles Xavier’s dream shouldn’t be denied.
Rogue got off to a rocky start with the X-Men, having been manipulated by her foster mother Mystique into joining the Brotherhood Of Evil Mutants. This came to an end when she drained the energy of Carol Dancers for so long that she took on a great deal of her memories and personality.
Now, she’s a grown woman, and she’s just as used to being a member of a team as she is leading one (or even teaching a group of new mutants). It’s difficult to even imagine the team without her at this point, as she’s been a part of most of the major incarnations of the group since her introduction.
Originally, the character only seemed to care about working with Xavier because of his telepathic abilities, wanting help to figure out who he was and what had happened to him. During the Schism era, he brought some normality back to mutant kind by choosing to open and lead a school for Gifted Mutants, once again.
Second only to Wolverine in terms of sheer popularity, the other major member of the X-Men to immediately come to everyone’s mind is Cyclops. Since then, that’s been his MO, sticking around to lead the team through any and every challenge, whether it’s magicians wishing mutants away or the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Chris Bachelor/Marvel Comics Toad is not a full member of the X-Men so much as he's a former villain who Wolverine is forcing to serve as an unpaid janitor on the grounds of the Jean Grey School without even getting to have his own bed. Land You/Marvel Comics Karima Shankar is a human who was transformed into a cyborg who was meant to hunt and kill mutants, but ended up being one of the good guys anyway.
Sean Philips/Marvel Comics Stacy X was a mutant prostitute who briefly joined the X-Men during Joe Casey's run in the early '00s. He's usually written as a threat to either the X-Men or the New Mutants, but is sometimes played as a protagonist by writers who love writing lots of contrived, borderline unreadable psychic mumbo-jumbo.
Not only was she born without eyes and cursed with horrible precognitive visions, but her creator Joss When insisted on giving her one of the most grating speech patterns this side of Yoda. Marvel Comics Juggernaut is traditionally an X-Men villain, but joined the team for a while during Chuck Austen's legendarily awful run in the mid-'00s.
She started out as a bit of character in his Hellfire Club stories in the '80s, but was revamped as a living computer who had been working as a spy for Charles Xavier. Jerome Open/Marvel Comics Evan Saboteur, a clone of Apocalypse raised on a farm on Fandom's virtual world, isn't so much a character as he is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode in the X-Men's faces.
Joe Madeira/Marvel Comics Marrow was an angry Pollock kid who started out as a mutant terrorist, but ended up joining the X-Men for a while. Marvel Comics North star's mentally unstable twin sister is a rich and interesting character in Alpha Flight but has barely served any time in the X-Men, so it's kinda unfair to rate her very highly in terms of X-Menmembers.
Marvel Comics Darwin, a guy who is able to physically adapt to survive any situation, was a character who was revealed to be among a group of mutants Charles Xavier recruited to save the original X-Men before the “all-new, all-different” batch featuring Storm, Wolverine, et al. Chris Bachelor/Marvel Comics Cannonball's little sister is a little underused, but she works well when her mutant ability to tear off her skin and become some unpredictable monster is used as a metaphor for someone who keeps ugly, violent parts of themselves hidden under a seemingly normal surface.
Chris Bachelor/Marvel Comics Fabio Medina is one of five new mutants Brian Michael Bends has introduced in his current run on Uncanny X-Men. He's an ordinary dude with the ridiculous power to shoot golf balls out of his body who has joined Cyclops' revolutionary X-Men under extreme duress.
He's usually used for exposition, but his ability to converse with machines and develop emotional relationships with them hinted at the possibility for him to become a more interesting and complex character. Marvel Comics Rah ne Sinclair, a deeply religious Scottish werewolf, was one of the more interesting members of the New Mutants back in the '80s.
Marvel Comics Writers can never seem to decide who Lorna Dane is, so she ends up being this wildly erratic character who is mainly defined by her codependent relationship with Havoc, or by whether or not Magneto is her real father. Arthur Adams/Marvel Comics Warlock is a shape-shifting robotic alien with annoying speech patterns and an extremely close relationship with his Cypher.
He's mainly been written as an arrogant antihero over the years, but lately he's being developed into more of a well-rounded character in Rick Reminder's Uncanny Avengers. Salvador Morocco/Marvel Comics Warpath is the little brother of the first Thunderbird, and joined the X-Men despite blaming Charles Xavier for his sibling's death.
Marvel Comics Blink is best remembered as one of the core members of the X-Men in the alternate “Age of Apocalypse” timeline, but she eventually ended up in the real X-Men too. She's basically a plot device that served a purpose, but is now is lacking a real direction aside from being Cable's badass daughter.
Marvel Comics Forge has the power to intuitively invent mechanical devices, but his imagination is so limited that he rarely makes anything more than fancy guns. Marvel Comics Die Okonkwo is a devout Christian from Nigeria who is convinced that she's evil for having her power to control extreme temperatures.
She's a fascinating and deeply conflicted character despite a lot of her edginess getting filed down considerably in Jason Aaron's Wolverine and the X-Men series. She's a cool, assertive presence in Brian Michael Bends' Uncanny X-Men, though it's heavily hinted that the vast potential of her powers could lead to huge problems down the line.
He can instinctively transform into whatever makes people feel comfortable, so naturally Cyclops and Emma Frost are training this nervous young man to become the X-Men's ultimate spy. Terry Dodson/Marvel Comics The X-Men were around for a very, very long time before anyone thought to bring a sarcastic, hugely condescending scientist into the cast.
Terry Dodson/Marvel Comics Enamor actually predates the X-Men by over 20 years, and was a mainstay of the Marvel Universe for ages before finally joining the X-Men in the late '00s. It seemed weird at first, but the arrogant and temperamental king of Atlantis quickly became an essential cast member, and served as the ideal foil to Cyclops once that character was separated from Wolverine after Schism.
But her gig as a pop star is crucial to the X-Men's mission of integration, and you can make a strong argument that she does more to encourage acceptance of mutant in culture than any of her peers who mainly specialize in smashing stuff. He was created by Grant Morrison as a meta-commentary on amoral badass heroes, but has evolved into a complex figure who has served as a foil to characters like Wolverine and Angel, and the ideal romantic interest for Locke.
Adam Hughes/Marvel Comics Mystique has only served a few brief terms as an actual member of the X-Men, and was there mainly as a means to an end in one of her many elaborate, self-serving schemes. She poses as someone who acts in the interest of mutant rights, but is mostly just selfish and opportunistic, and she's so thoroughly corrupted by her shape-shifting power that she probably doesn't fully realize that she's a total sociopath.
In recent years he's stepped up a lot, mastered his power, and become a crucial part of Wolverine's Jean Grey School. For a while there his characterization was really inconsistent, and writers couldn't decide whether he was a competent leader or an insecure yokel, but he's been given a lot more respect over the years.
Marvel Comics Angel started off as the X-Men's resident rich pretty boy, but he eventually became the team's most tragic member after Apocalypse transformed him into the violent, grotesque Archangel. He eventually was killed by his lover Locke after the Archangel part of his mind overtook him completely, and has been replaced by a vapid amnesiac in a replica of his old body.
She was never a bad character, but really came into her own in Rick Reminder's excellent Uncanny X-Force series in which she confronted her dark past and was the center of a messed-up love triangle with Angel and Fandom. Terry Dodson/Marvel Comics Colossus is a sad, vulnerable guy who can transform into an immensely strong man with armored skin.
Frank Quietly/Marvel Comics Charles Xavier is a complicated guy: He's the visionary idealist who founded the X-Men, but he's also a powerful telepath who can't help but be a little corrupted by his ability to influence minds. Some writers have gone a little overboard in exploring Xavier's dark side, but ever since he was killed off in Avengers Vs. X-Men, he's gone back to being a symbol of peace and tolerance.
The first time he joined he was actively attempting to atone for his past as a terrorist by embracing his old friend Charles Xavier's dream and mentoring the New Mutants. But more recently, he joined the X-Men because Cyclops' radical, militaristic, and isolationist leadership meant that the team had finally come around to his cynical worldview.
Terry Dodson/Marvel Comics Emma Frost started off as a member of the sinister Hellfire Club, but eventually joined the X-Men as the headmistress of the school. She's reformed a bit, but her elitist, cynical attitude has been a corrupting influence on her romantic partner Cyclops, and by extension, the rest of the X-Men.