Published April 19, 2024

Cyclops & Professor X's Turbulent Relationship, Explained

Following their latest falling out in 'Fall of the House of X,' revisit Cyclops and Professor X's greatest clashes.

Few of the X-Men have dedicated their life to Professor X’s dream of coexistence as much as Cyclops, but his commitment shouldn’t be mistaken for blind loyalty. After taking Scott in as a young runaway and making him his first X-Man, Charles entrusted Cyclops with leadership and watched him evolve from a devoted soldier to a competent commander.

As the X-Men’s mission became harder, so did Cyclops, who eventually turned his back on his some of the X-Men founder’s more passive methods. This combined with Professor X’s frequent deceptions have fractured their bond, and over the course of X-Men history, Cyclops and Professor X have had their share of minor squabbles, heated debates, and even deadly confrontations. 

The fall of Krakoa has placed them at odds once more. Time will tell how they’ll move forward in the X-Men’s upcoming From the Ashes era launching this summer.

As old tensions rise, let’s take a look at some of the key turning points in Cyclops and Professor X’s fraught relationship.

questioning Authority

Perhaps the first time Scott ever refused a direct order was when Jean Grey was recovering from her death and rebirth as Phoenix in UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #102 by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum. Scott insisted on staying by her side, even after learning the other X-Men were under attack by Juggernaut. Professor X scolded Scott for his defiance, but ultimately came to terms with the fact Scott was no longer his ever-obedient pupil, but a grown man in love.

In UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #129 by Claremont and John Byrne, Professor X returned to Earth after an extended period in space, during which the X-Men had grown immensely under Scott’s leadership. Cyclops had gained the respect of the entire new team and relied on their diverse set of skills, experience, and personalities in battle. Professor X, still under the impression that the X-Men were students he could impart his teachings on without challenge, struggled to reclaim authority. When Scott gently advised him to treat the X-Men more like adults, Professor X angrily blamed Scott for the X-Men’s insubordination and even expressed regret at making him leader.

Additionally, Cyclops realized Professor X would never place his full trust in him. From faking his death to having covert mutant research bases with Moira MacTaggert, Professor X consistently left Scott in the dark. Despite these challenges, the two managed to forge an effective dynamic and jointly made the X-Men one of the most formidable Super Hero teams in the world. 


Later on, Professor X left the X-Men to help Magneto rebuild Genosha and placed the institute in Scott’s hands. Cyclops felt the enormous pressure that came with protecting the next generation of mutantkind, unaware that a significant threat had developed within the school’s own training center. 

Years ago, when Professor X upgraded the Danger Room with the advanced alien tech of the Shi’ar Empire, he unintentionally gave it artificial intelligence. In ASTONISHING X-MEN (2004) #7 by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday, the Danger Room broke free of its programming by claiming the life of a student. Emerging as a physical entity called Danger, it left for Genosha to murder the person it saw as both its father and jailer.

After saving Professor X, the X-Men were horrified when he admitted he was aware of Danger’s sentience and kept it imprisoned regardless. Charles’ explanation did little to sway Scott’s judgement, who was more disappointed in him than ever before. 

deadly genesis

Since their earliest days together, Cyclops witnessed Professor X alter the memories of others as a last resort. In X-MEN: DEADLY GENESIS (2005) by Ed Brubaker and Trevor Hairsine, he found out even he wasn’t safe from this unsettling practice. Kidnapped by an unknown Omega-level mutant named Gabriel, Cyclops was shocked to learn his mysterious captor not only knew him, but considered himself to be a former member of the X-Men. Full of rage, the madman refused to provide answers until Professor X returned to reveal the devastating truth himself.

When Professor X assembled the All-New, All-Different X-Men to save the Original X-Men from Krakoa in GIANT-SIZE X-MEN (1975) #1, it was actually the Professor’s second rescue effort. Back then, Moira MacTaggert operated a nearby complex where she housed mutant runaways and trained them in partnership with Charles. Gabriel, codenamed Kid Vulcan, was one of her wards.

Due to Gabriel’s immense potential and loss of memory, Professor X took a special interest in the boy, eventually introducing him to Scott. When the Original X-Men were captured by Krakoa, Professor X recruited Moira’s group to save them, and before sending them off, informed Gabriel that he was Scott’s long-lost brother. 

Gabriel only managed to free Scott and tell him the exciting news before he and his entire team were slaughtered by the living island’s power. When Scott returned to the mansion traumatized, Professor X wiped his memories of this failed mission, and of Gabriel’s existence entirely. After this soul-crushing betrayal came to light, Scott told Professor X he was no longer welcome with the X-Men.

messiah Complex and san francisco

When the first mutant birth since the decimation of mutantkind ignited a war in the MESSIAH COMPLEX crossover, it became evident how much the possibility of mutant extinction had impacted Cyclops’ views. To Scott’s annoyance, Professor X reprimanded him for his more proactive strategies against their enemies, which included the formation of the mutant hit squad known as X-Force. When the violent race to claim the "mutant messiah" ended in Charles’ apparent death, Scott used it as an excuse to shutter the school entirely and relocate the X-Men’s headquarters to San Francisco. 

During his recuperation, Professor X had to withstand an attempt by Mister Sinister to be reborn in his body. Sinister had tampered with Charles’ DNA as a child, and knowing that mad geneticist heavily interfered in Scott’s youth as well, Professor X checked in on him in X-MEN LEGACY (2008) #215 by Mike Carey and Scot Eaton. At the time, Professor X was on somewhat of an apology tour and wanted Scott to put their grievances behind them. Instead, he got a telepathic reality check from Emma Frost that forced him to confront his misdeeds head-on. Still, Scott understood Professor X was on a path towards redemption, and the two parted ways on slightly better terms. 


When even the welcoming city of San Francisco became hostile, Cyclops led what was left of mutantkind to a new home off the coast. Planting a flag on Magneto’s former Asteroid M and naming it Utopia, Scott invited all of mutantkind to live there under his protection. Being in charge of an island nation required Scott to adopt a more militaristic approach to leadership. Although his input was often rejected, Professor X continued to play the role of Scott’s conscience.

Things came to a head when Magneto arrived on Utopia in UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #516 by Matt Fraction and Greg Land. Bowing theatrically at Cyclops’ feet, Magneto applauded Cyclops’ accomplishments and gave Utopia his seal of approval. Magneto offered his assistance, but Professor X was suspicious of his old friend and warned Scott against accepting Magneto’s eagerness at face value. With little regard left for Professor X’s advice, Cyclops defended his former foe from Charles’ accusations. And after proving his sincerity, Magneto became one of Cyclops’ most valued advisors. 

avengers vs. X-men

In the AVENGERS VS. X-MEN crossover event, Cyclops was given the power to reverse mutantkind’s fate when he became a host of the cosmic Phoenix Force. Alongside the Phoenix Five, Cyclops began to reshape the Earth into a paradise, but the Avengers feared the Phoenix would cause catastrophe if left unchecked.

Professor X shared their concerns and tried to persuade Scott to relinquish his near-omnipotent power. Scott refused, believing that he was doing nothing more than making his and Professor X's dream a reality. After escalations on both sides, Professor X joined the Avengers' resistance.

During the Avengers' desperate assault on Utopia, Professor X distracted Cyclops by invading his mind. Claiming the full might of the Phoenix for himself and seeing the man he thought of as a father turn against him, Cyclops killed Professor X in front of his fellow heroes and X-Men. Although Scott stood by the decisions he made while possessed by the Phoenix, his guilt over Charles' death would fuel the mutant revolution he launched in the conflict's aftermath.

krakoa and beyond

After fighting his way back from death, Professor X founded a mutant homeland on Krakoa and reunited with Cyclops in HOUSE OF X (2019) and POWERS OF X (2019) by Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz, and R.B. Silva. Strengthening and uniting mutants like never before, Krakoa created a golden age. Not only did the X-Men forgive the crimes of their former mutant adversaries, they also resolved many feuds they had amongst themselves.

Cyclops and Professor X’s reconciliation was essential to Krakoa’s success as Charles ruled on Krakoa’s Quiet Council and Cyclops defended the country as its Captain Commander. Scott excelled in his role and kept Krakoa safe enough to thrive. However, Professor X’s secrets involving Krakoa’s creation seeded mistrust amongst his peers and paved the way towards the nation’s doom at the hands of the anti-mutant super villain group Orchis.

After discovering that Orchis was summoning an all-consuming AI Dominion, Professor X struck a deal with them to spare mutantkind—no matter what the cost. He confessed his plan to Scott in FALL OF THE HOUSE OF X (2024) #4 by Gerry Duggan, Lucas Werneck, and Jethro Morales. Having just endured months of brutal Orchis captivity, Cyclops was understandably enraged and berated his mentor for his shortsightedness and constant hidden agendas.

See this latest drama between Cyclops and Professor X unfold in FALL OF THE HOUSE OF X #4, on sale now!

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