It ain’t easy being one of Marvel’s merry bunch of misfits. Nearly every single one of the X-men is forever doomed to protect a world that hates and fears them, as they serve to allegorize any number of real-world prejudices. There have been numerous occasions where the greatest X-Men rosters and teams have saved the Earth, and yet the mutants still have to deal with bigots holding protests against their very existence. It’s easy to understand why life as a mutant might be a bit depressing - after all, how many fictional peoples can say they’ve had fictional slurs created just to demean them?
Since the general worldview of mutantkind is so grim, it can leave writers feeling like they have no choice but to drastically escalate the oppression to the level of genocide in order to craft an interesting story. Here's a list of the multiple times that the X-Men have been at the center of mutant extinctions over the years, making this a particularly murderous sort of comic book trope.
2008’s Old Man Logan is a beloved mini series set in a dystopian Marvel future. Notably, the comic served as the basis for the 2017 hit film Logan. Old Man Logan features a North America that is ruled by supervillians, who finally teamed up to wipe out all the heroes. Wolverine is one of the few heroes left, but he’s given up fighting because of the traumatic loss of the X-Men.
Eventually, it’s revealed why this loss was so unbearable for Wolverine, as he was tricked by Mysterio into slaughtering his own teammates. Dying at the clawed hands of one of their own is definitely the most gruesome way that the X-Men have been wiped out.
The 1986 crossover Mutant Massacre definitely delivered on its inflammatory title. It featured Mister Sinister instigating a “cleansing” of the Morlocks, a group of weakly-powered mutants that lived in the sewers and were deemed inferior by the twisted geneticist. The X-Men caught wind of the plot and rushed to save their downtrodden brethren, but it came at a hefty cost. Countless Morlocks were slaughtered, and several X-Men were brutally injured, including Colossus, Kitty Pryde, and Nightcrawler.
Angel suffered one of the more crueler fates, as he was crucified and had his wings damaged beyond repair. This was also one of the first times the X-Men killed their opponents, increasing the number of mutants massacred.
The Fall Of The Mutants
1988’s The Fall of the Mutants left the X-Men with an extremely strange status quo. The series promised the deaths of the X-Men, and it delivered, in a sense. The team found themselves facing off against the Adversary, an ancient and immensely powerful force that threatened Texas. Tech whiz Forge stepped out of his wheelhouse and developed a spell that would defeat the Adversary, but at the cost of the X-Men’s lives.
The X-Men boldly stepped forward to sacrifice themselves on broadcast television, which greatly aided the reputation of mutants worldwide. A goddess, Roma, witnessed their heroics and quickly brought them back to life, although the world still thought them dead. She also gave the mutants the ability to avoid all surveillance technology and hooked them up with a sweet base in Australia. It was a different time.
Days Of Future Past
Two 1981 issues of Uncanny X-Men made up the now-legendary storyline of Days of Future Past. For such a short series, it made a massive impact on fans and is considered to be one of the best. It ushered in a future where the US had turned against mutants after one had assassinated Senator Robert Kelly. This lead to a Sentinel program, which quickly got out of hand and resulted in most mutants being either killed or taken to internment camps. The Holocaust parallels were intentional, as the story served as a stark reminder of the terrible costs of real-world prejudice.