Fan service has always been a major part of the X-Men comics — like bringing back the original X-Men in X-Factor. Jean Grey came back from the dead, and Cyclops gave up on his retirement. Beast, Angel, and Iceman likewise returned to the X-Men line. In the process, they created an era-defining book that introduced classic villains to the franchise.
Unfortunately, fan service doesn't always end well. Sometimes books try to service the fanbase and accidentally turn great books into painfully bad products. While it doesn't happen too often, X-Men fan service has completely ruined entire books by sending too much time on nostalgia instead of on engaging content.
The original Excalibur team enjoyed an incredibly strong run. The team joined after the X-Men were presumed dead, and they soon became multiversal explorers. On one of their adventures, Excalibur lost the face of the team: Captain Britain.
Excalibur continued on after Captain Britain's disappearance before it eventually caved in to fan expectations. Phoenix traded herself for Captain Britain, and it wasn't worth the price. He came back a different character, started calling himself Britanic. Sadly, Excalibur failed to explore the same emotional beats that had made Captain Britain interesting in the first place. Phoenix, meanwhile, took any interesting plot threads with her as she leaped into the future.
9 X Of Swords
X of Swords had the potential to be one of the greatest comic book crossovers. It had everything to offer. The Krakoans were facing off against a nation of equals, and each had to gather swords. It was setting itself up for an excellent battle that would have decided the fate of the entire Earth.
Instead, X of Swords devolves into a series of games. Instead of life-or-death fights, the X-Men and warriors of Arrako engage in arm-wrestling, drinking contests, flirting, and even a marriage between Cypher and Bei the Blood Moon. X of Swords overstays its welcome, losing sight of itself for moments of fan service. By the time the event recovered its middling momentum, it was already hard for fans to care.
8 New Mutants
Many X-Men teams come together to fight evil or protecting a world that hates and fears them. The New Mutants were different. They were just kids in bad situations, desperately trying to control their powers. New Mutants was always at its strongest when it explored the main characters' day-to-day lives.
Unfortunately, New Mutants eventually included more and more fan service. The team merged with the X-Terminators and trimmed out many of its characters. It also started including its heroes in crossover events, which took away from the comic's original premise. Instead of following a group of kids, suddenly the New Mutants were a superhero team. That alone took away the book's charm.
7 Wolverine And The X-Men
There are few books with more potential than Wolverine and the X-Men. After Cyclops and Wolverine had a falling out over using child soldiers, Wolverine returned to Xavier's mansion and started a school of his own. The series starts off strong as Wolverine desperately tries to figure out how to be a good headmaster for a school of rambunctious teens.
Eventually, Wolverine and the X-Men eventually falls apart as it gives in to fan service. It abandons the initial idea — Wolverine trying to protect kids — in favor of generic adventures and humor. Additionally, Wolverine's students suffer through superhero antics, making the entire schism feel pointless.
The Krakoan X-Factor team started off with the best X-Factor premise since the original team came back together. The team would investigate mutant deaths and then let the Five know when to resurrect heroes. The characters had fun interactions, and the story explored sides of Krakoa other books were content to ignore.
X-Factor ended too soon, but it had already ruined itself by the time it came to a close. Its quality sharply decreased when it started offering fan service moments. Suddenly it was drawing from long-dead plots — like the X-Men dealing with Mojo — and reuniting characters who weren't even members of the main cast. Eye-Boy even developed superhuman laser powers in X-Factor #10 (created by Leah Williams, David Baldeón, Lucas Werneck, David Messina, and Israel Silva). These decisions left the team listless and poisoned a great book.
Marauders began by introducing Kate Pryde at her lowest point. She was an outcast from Krakoa and sinking into abject violence at the slightest provocation. Despite being a member of the Quiet Council, she put together a pirating team and set her sights on saving mutants from oppression.
The pirate angle was quickly traded for fan service. Instead of traveling the world and saving mutants, Marauders revolved around one-off moments. Kate and Emma teamed up to brutally take down Sebastian Shaw, while the rest of the team repeatedly made laughingstocks of their villains. Marauders decreased the stakes, and it never even resolved Kate's gateway plot.
4 All New X-Men
All New X-Men was all about fan service. Instead of focusing on modern heroes, it brought back the original X-Men and let them see exactly what the future looked like. At the start, it was great. The characters had to reckon with their future in a way that offered new insight into their more modern personas. By the end of the book, however, they'd overstayed their welcome.
The original X-Men just wouldn't leave. Instead of being there for a few issues, they stayed for years. What was originally rewarding fan service became unbearable as All New X-Men went on. It was a serious mistake that still haunts the X-Men, because it trapped modern comics in the continuity for far too long.
3 Alpha Flight
Alpha Flight has always been a team of castaways. In their first team book, they spent the first two dozen issues completely separate and engaging in their own solo adventures. None of them particularly liked the rest of their teammates, which added a unique atmosphere to the book.
Fan service ruined everything unique about the series. The team quickly came together, picked out a headquarters, and began taking part in missions together. Instead of fighting each other at every meeting, they started calling each other family and bonding over their similarities. It gave fans relationships to latch onto, but it turned one of Marvel's first superhero teams into a generic group with typical goals and motivations.
2 Uncanny X-Men (2013)
Uncanny X-Men Vol. 3 is all about consequences. After killing Charles Xavier, Cyclops becomes a pariah. He gathers villains and newly powered mutants in a desperate attempt to keep his message alive. Cyclops becomes a revolutionary, and his new band of heroes each have their own narratives that explore the true meaning behind their leader's motives.
Unfortunately, Uncanny X-Men Vol. 3 eventually gave into fan service. When it did, it rejected everything that made it brilliant. Typical X-Men joined the team, Cyclops got back on speaking terms with many of his old teammates, and the book abandoned its revolutionary messages. It gave into fan service by resetting the status quo and restoring relationships, stripped everything that made Uncanny X-Men so great.
1 X-Men Green
X-Men Green started off as a unique adventure exploring Nature Girl's climate change activism. She travelled the world and tried to put a stop to pollution. She teamed up with other minor characters and carved her own corner of the Marvel universe. Unfortunately, her efforts were misguided, meaning she often attacked entirely innocent people.
As the run continued, fan service crept in. Nature Girl started facing off against prominent Marvel heroes, including Namor, Black Panther, and the entire X-Men team. The more heroes she faced off against, the more absurdly villainous she grew. It eventually led to Nature Girl adopting the title "Apocalypse Girl." X-Men Green's story has only gotten more ridiculous with time — turning a charming minor character into a generic villain along the way.