|This article is written from the Real World perspective|
|Release Date||September 9, 1995|
Bishop and Shard recruit Wolverine and Storm to stop yet another nightmarish future. But doing so ends the two X-Men's relationship. (Season Premiere)
In 1959, Bishop fights with Nimrod until Storm manages to destroy the robot while a young Charles Xavier looks on in horror. Questioning why robots from the future are coming to kill him, Xavier accidentally triggers an explosion and dies. In the future, Forge is warned of an anomaly in the time stream and tells Bishop and Shard about it.
In the present, Xavier, Storm and Wolverine are enjoying a picnic together when an explosion of sorts rewrites the time stream. A new timeline emerges, the Age of Apocalypse, and Wolverine and Storm are shown fighting in the ruins of New York City and revealed to be married in this universe. Xavier had died in his youth and so the X-Men were never formed but a large band of mutant rebels exist and are lead by this reality's counterpart to Magneto. The mutant rebels are seen to be fighting the Avengers, who are agents of Apocalypse in this reality.
After a fight between the rebels and Avengers, Bishop and Shard arrive from the future, looking for the X-Men. They find that they are in an alternate universe and deduce that they need to go back further to find the source of the anomaly. They reveal that they have been sent back to stop Trevor Fitzroy, an agent of the future's Master Mold, who has been sent back in time and disrupted the time stream. Recruiting Wolverine and Storm, Bishop and Shard travel back to 1959 to stop Fitzroy.
Arriving in 1959, the group find the young Xavier, who reads Bishop's mind and discovers that they are from the future. Heading to a coffee shop, the group confront a racist man, who is angered by Wolverine (a white man) and Storm (a black woman) holding hands. A fight ensues and a scared Xavier manages to run away, just as Nimrod arrives from the future. Bishop, Shard, Storm and Wolverine fight and defeat Nimrod, losing Fitzroy. Xavier triggers the bomb Fitzroy planted and it explodes.
Eric Lewald came up with the alternate timeline the same time that Marvel Comics was planning a similar story called Age of Apocalypse, which began in January of 1995. Lewald borrowed elements from sources like the film It's a Wonderful Life and episode "The City on the Edge of Forever", where an alternate universe was seen where one crucial person was missing. The comic story featured Xavier's son Legion, also known as David Haller, going back in time to kill Magneto when Xavier sacrifices himself for his friend. Both the series and comic feature Magneto forming the X-Men, but the comics had Apocalypse taking over North America. The universe features a number of characters behaving differently than their normal selves. For example, Cyclops and Beast are evil servants of Apocalypse, Wolverine has one hand, and Wolverine is dating Jean Grey Because of the long lead time in animation, many incorrectly believed that the comic story was developed first.
Comic Book Resources ranked this episode and its follow-up as number twelve in the top fifteen episodes of the series. They said this was one of the finest multiple-episode stories and most ambitious. They said was made it stand out was how wildly imaginative they were incorporating time travel and alternate timelines while tackling serious themes.
Comic Book Resources ranked this and its follow-up as the sixth top tear-jerking episode of the series. "What if a certain person didn't exist? The first two episodes of season four bring to fruition the question: What if Professor Xavier hadn't existed? Bishop, a time-traveling mutant, along with an alternate version of Wolverine and Storm discover the answer to that question. The trio must travel back to 1959 and prevent the assassination of Charles Xavier at the hands of Trevor Fitzroy, another time-traveling mutant commissioned by sentinel manufacturer, Mastermold. Not only do the trio have to deal with Fitzroy but they must deal with bigotry of the 1950s. Wolverine and Storm fend off racists against their interracial marriage. Meanwhile, they must convince a young Xavier about accepting his responsibilities. Wolverine and Storm must also carry their own responsibility of sacrificing their present-day marriage for humanity's brighter future."
- INTERVIEW: X-Men: TAS story editor & writer Eric Lewald on X-Men:TAS Book at Comics Beat
- XMenTAS at Twitter
- The 15 Best Episodes Of X-Men: The Animated Series at Comic Book Resources
- Top 10 Tear-Jerking Episodes From X-Men: The Animated Series at Comic Book Resources