X-Men: The Animated Series star George Buza, who voiced the erudite Beast across all five seasons of the Marvel show, admits he "wasn't exactly thrilled" the fan-favorite X-Man spent most of the first season imprisoned. In "Night of the Sentinels (Part 2)," the second episode of the series, Beast infiltrates the heavily-protected Mutant Control Agency headquarters with Wolverine (Cal Dodd) and Storm (Iona Morris) to destroy registration files used to target mutants via the Sentinel program. The X-Men's raid ends with shapeshifter Morph (Ron Rubin) killed by the mutant-hunting robots and Beast captured and jailed as the prisoner of Henry Peter Gyrich (Barry Flatman).
"I wasn't exactly thrilled with being in jail during the entire first season," Buza said to laughs during a virtual Wizard World panel with series director/producer Larry Houston and co-stars Dodd and Christopher Britton. "That was a production decision."
"According to the producers, Beast was not even going to be in the regular cast for the entire spectrum of the show," Buza continued. "It was only after the first season that they realized that he would be a better addition to the cast, and they sprung him out."
Eric Lewald, story editor and author of behind-the-scenes book Previously on X-Men: The Making of an Animated Series, previously revealed television executives viewed Beast and Jean Grey (Catherine Disher) as "secondary characters" and "less interesting to the core audience." In addition to their exclusion from an early promotional image featuring the core team, Beast and Jean do not appear alongside the other X-Men as they clash with villains in the closing shots of the opening title sequence.
"Beast wasn't supposed to be part of the show because there were so many cast members," Houston said during the panel. "But I think the quality of the writing, and the quality of George's performance, you just had to bring him back into the second season. I think all that worked together to bring him into the permanent cast from Season 2 on."
Initially regarded as a member of the "B Team" with a minor role, Beast "grew in our love and affection," Lewald wrote when sharing a chart documenting character appearances across the 13-episode first season.0comments
"Our constant method was to differentiate our characters as much as we could, so we wrote Hank to be as thoughtful and considerate as we could make him," husband and wife team Eric and Julia Lewald wrote on their website. "Wolverine cared deeply about people but, in true rebel-hero fashion, he'd be damned if he'd show it. Our Beast was so confident, so at home in his own blue skin, that he openly displayed his kindness and compassion with no fear of diminishment or ridicule. He was big, strong — and kind. He loved to read, as did we on the X-MEN:TAS writing staff."
All five seasons of X-Men: The Animated Series are available to stream on Disney+.