The character of Jean Grey has been through drastic changes over the years at Marvel Comics. Created in the 1960s by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, she appeared in The X-Men issue #1 in 1963. Her powers of telepathy and telekinesis originated when she was faced with the death of her childhood friend. Though she has proven herself to be a level-headed member of the X-Men, this heroine has been in a constant battle for control internally.
Originally, she had issues with controlling her telepathic abilities on her own. However, a chance encounter with the Phoenix Force led to her losing control of her own body and mind. The Dark Phoenix Saga has become a favorite series in Marvel Comics for comic book fans and beyond. To the delight of dedicated readers, this narrative will also be the focus of the upcoming 2018 movie X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
Since then, Jean has had to develop into a less honorable hero. Her storylines have depicted her as a sociopath, a torturer, and even a murderer. Although all of her shocking moments have not been completely bad, most of them will make fans question her sanity.
From taking down a formidable X-Men foe to committing genocide, here are the 15 Worst Things Jean Grey Has Done.
15 Joined the Sinister Six
During the Age of Apocalypse narrative, we see Jean Grey being coveted by villains for her immense power. After refusing to join Mr. Sinister’s team, she died while attempting to stop a nuclear attack that was meant to destroy Apocalypse.
Mr. Sinister took this opportunity to resurrect Jean and harness her “Mutant Alpha” abilities for his plans. With no recollection of her previous life, he was able to convince Jean to create the Sinister Six and lead the fight against the X-Men. Her former team was shocked to see her working with their enemy and tried to get through to her.
After Wolverine was able to make an emotional connection with her, she turned on Mr. Sinister and incinerated him. She then took her place as the new leader of the X-Men by request of the previous leader, Magneto.
14 Kicked the Snot out of Sabretooth
Jean was never known to be a hot-headed hero. She usually remained relatively calm in stressful situations. However, in X-Men issue #28, readers got a glimpse into the true levels of rage she was capable of achieving.
When Professor X decided to bring Sabretooth into the Mansion to keep him from hurting others, the X-Men are split over his decision. While most are afraid of sharing a roof with him, Jean decided to confront him.
Whether expressing anger over his presence or on behalf of Wolverine, Jean proceeded to beat the crap out of him using her mental abilities. She bravely declared that she was not afraid of him and would not be intimidated by his presence. She left a beaten and nearly broken Sabretooth on the floor with no signs of remorse.
13 Rejected Her Own Daughter
Jean hasn’t had an easy time since The Phoenix appeared in her life. She’s been trapped in her own body, committed genocide, battled her own teammates, and devastated the love of her life. Add to all that the trauma of living with the memories of both the Phoenix and Madelyne Pryor taking her place in her “absence.” Granted, she had been through a lot but enough to reject her own daughter?
Upon meeting her daughter, Rachel Summers, who had come from the future, Jean immediately pushed her away. In the process of rejecting all things related to the Phoenix Force, she lumped her daughter in too since she was a host to the cosmic entity.
Considering Rachel’s mother from her timeline was deceased, she was honestly looking forward to bonding with Jean. The two eventually reconciledd but that initial rejection was still pretty harsh.
12 Tortured Emma Frost for “Mentally Cheating” with Her Husband
Jean Grey and Emma Frost have had a complicated relationship. While Jean herself has never been truly faithful to Cyclops (she has always loved Wolverine secretly), she also harbored jealousy toward her husband's closeness to Emma Frost'. The two heroes always had a special attraction to each other that only got stronger when Cyclops and Jean’s marriage became strained.
However, when Cyclops turned to Emma for psychic therapy sessions, she took advantage of his vulnerability and began a telepathic affair with him. After discovering the affair, Jean decided to psychically torture Emma Frost into admitting her feelings for Cyclops, sharing her deepest fears and facing all of her wrongdoings. Cyclops had to intervene and offer his own mind for Jean to search in order to prove there was no physical affair.
11 Became a Sociopath, Faked Her Death, and Killed Rogue for Money
Diving into the darkest recesses of noir storytelling, the Marvel Noir serial brought out the worst of many beloved characters. In Jean’s case, some aspects of her Earth-616 history remained: she was one of Xavier’s students, and she had the power of mind control. However, here we see a very darker version of the character that used her powers to control men to her will. But her horrible crimes don’t stop there.
In the X-Men Noir series, she murdered the Rogue of that universe and took her place in order to gain her inheritance. She then faked her own death and made Rogue’s body look like her, slashing her face so that she couldn’t be easily identified except for her striking red hair (like Jean’s).
She is a complete sociopath intent on achieving only her desires and needs with no regard for the consequences. This version of Jean would have made one hell of a super villain!
10 Destroyed the Entire D’Bari Race
The Phoenix Force took Jean Grey down some very dark paths while it was merged with her. Ever since the entity answered Jean’s cry for help, it bonded with her and took control of her. The cosmic energy became the dominant personality and took her place with the X-Men.
Although she began her new role continuing to do good, her underlying rage was trigged by the misdeeds of the Hellfire Club. After being manipulated by Mastermind, she broke free and sought out energy to consume. Her target: the entire D’Bari race!
With Jean trapped inside her own body, the dominating Phoenix snacked on the D’Bari planet and extinguished five billion lives. At the time, readers were horrified that Jean could be capable of that much cruelty. However, the later retcon absolved her of these wrongdoings and placed the blame solely on the Phoenix.
9 Hatched from an egg
Legend states that the mystical Phoenix has the ability to burst into flames and bring an end to its own life only be resurrected as a young chick one again. Similarly, the Phoenix Force can also be reborn and restored after death.
Because of her connection to the Phoenix, Jean has been depicted, on occasion, to hatch from a cosmic Phoenix egg when being resurrected. The image of a full grown woman being hatched from an egg could only make sense in the world of comics.
During the events of New X-Men issue #151, Jean was killed by a fake Magneto while on Earth-616, died, and was hatched 150 years in the future! We thought we had seen it all in terms of time travel but by way of an egg certainly gets points for originality.
8 Gave Life To Cyclops' first wife...
Mister Sinister was intent on creating a perfect mutant child with the genes of Cyclops and Jean Grey. Using a sample of Jean’s DNA, he was able to create a lifeless clone that he called Madelyne Pryor. He planned to have Cyclops fall in love with her and create “genetically superior” mutants. However, a recovering Jean Grey helped his plans fall into place.
While trying to protect herself from the Phoenix Force re-entering her body, the entity sought another being with her same DNA. Finding Madelyn, it entered her body and brought her to life. Not only did Jean “give” her clone life - she also brought into this world the woman that would fall in love with and bear a child with her boyfriend. Oops.
7 ...Then Killed Her And Was "Haunted" By Her Life
Poor Madelyne. She really did have a hard life. After falling in love with and marrying Cyclops, she found out that she was pregnant. Maybe now her husband could move past his deceased girlfriend, right? Yeah, not so much.
As soon as Scott discovered that Jean was indeed alive, he left Madelyne and the baby with no explanation (one of his many low points in comics). Wouldn’t that make you want to kill Jean too?
After obtaining powers from the demon Sym, she became the Goblin Queen and helped in an attack on Earth. When the X-Men showed up, she attempted to kill Jean by committing suicide while mentally connected with her. However, the Phoenix Force helped Jean stay alive by convincing her to absorb the essence of Madelyne and itself.
In absorbing them, however, Jean also received their memories - including times they had spent with Cyclops. Madelyne died (until she was resurrected and retconned), Jean got Cyclops, and she raised Madelyne’s child with him. How messed up is that? Who is starting the #JusticeForMadelyne campaign?
6 Outed Iceman
The All-New X-Men series, led by the creative team of Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen, took younger versions of the original X-Men to the present day to confront themselves. Although the plot itself was quite interesting, the series actually lead to one of the biggest reveals in Marvel.
Jean swore that she would not use her powers to read the minds of fellow X-Men members. However, young Jean went back on her promise and happened to read the mind of Iceman. In a complete lack of respect for his privacy, she revealed to everyone that Iceman was gay, something that not even he fully knew at the time.
After being outed by Jean, Bobby had to now come to terms with the truth of his sexuality with help from an older version of himself. Although the news of his sexuality was a shock to fans, Jean’s disregard for his privacy was unforgivable.
5 Made Cyclops and Emma Frost Make Out On Her Grave
When faced with her second death (again, there were much more to come), Jean told Cyclops to “live” after she is gone. Faced with losing his love yet again, he goes through another depression without her in his life.
In the meantime, Emma Frost, who truly loved Scott, tried to comfort him through his trying time but he rejected her and her offer to run the school together. However, his decline started a chain reaction with detrimental results in the future.
Jean re-emerged in this future and was able to stop the Sublime plague. After discovering the root of the cause, she traveled to the past and used her powers to bring Emma and Scott together. Scott revealed his real feeling for Emma, and they kiss…in the graveyard… while standing on Jean’s grave. Aww, that’s... sweet?
4 Killed the Hellfire Club
The Hellfire Club has long had their sights set on Jean - ever since they tried to recruit (and by recruit, we mean kidnap and force) her to be their Black Queen.
Their fascination with the mutant extended into the alternate universes as well including Earth-1610, the setting for the Ultimate Marvel series. This time, they become fixated on Jean due to her connections to the Phoenix Force. They believe her powers originated from the Phoenix God and intend on awakening the entity inside of her.
However, Jean was not too keen on this idea and, as they tried to summon forth their God, her Phoenix powers triggered. She went into an uncontrollable rage and managed to wipe out most of the Hellfire Club. To add insult to injury, she also obtained their bank account numbers, stole all of their money, and erased their memories.
3 Turned Down Cyclop’s Marriage Proposal but Later Proposed to Him
The tumultuous relationship between Cyclops and Jean Grey has been a fan favorite for many years. Between the unspoken affairs, rebirth as a cosmic being, and clone lovers, their time together has been far from normal. However, Cyclops finally got up the courage to propose to Jean again (the first time, she was “the Phoenix”) and… she turned him down!
By this time, she was still being haunted by the memories of both the Phoenix and Madelyne Pryor, which included their times with Scott. Determined to be able to love him as herself, she had to decline his proposal.
However, in another twist, Jean finally proposed to Scott and he accepted. Marvel fans finally go the long-awaited marriage between Cyclops and the real (and normal) Jean Grey.
2 Committed Suicide to Save the Universe
The Dark Phoenix Saga brought the formerly beloved character of Jean Grey into a very shady place. Her overwhelming power and misdeeds left fans with a bad taste in their mouths. They could no longer cheer on this previously good character due to her despicable crimes. The writers had to find a way to resolve her storyline and have her atone for her sins.
To bring an end to the Dark Phoenix Saga, Jean was able to temporarily regain control of her body from the Phoenix Force and made a life-altering decision. She knew she was never going to be able to control the entity, so she committed suicide to save the universe from further destruction.
Her death took its toll not only on the characters but readers as well. However, one thing fans have come to know is that even when Jean dies, she never stays dead for long.
1 Returned to the Comics in one of the Most Convoluted Retcons in Marvel History
Jean Grey’s reputation took a serious nosedive when the Phoenix Saga was introduced. Her despicable actions while bonded with the Phoenix Force became a problem for Marvel and they needed a way out. Even though Jean restored control over her body and committed suicide to save the universe, her absence then became the new problem. Their solution: a retcon that absolved Jean of any wrong doing and placed all of the blame on the Phoenix.
The new convoluted story set Jean in a cocoon at the bottom of the bay since she returned to Earth. The Phoenix left her there and took her place in the world. It wasn’t until the Fantastic Four found her in Fantastic Four issue #286 that she made her triumphant return, sin-free. Cheap cop-out, Marvel.
Can you think of any other terrible things Jean Grey has done in X-Men? Sound off in the comments!