The Stepford Cuckoos, also known as the Three-in-One (formerly Five-in-One) are a set of Marvel Comics characters created by Grant Morrison and Ethan Van Sciver, first appearing in New X-Men #118 (dated November 2001).
Introduced as a mutant quintet comprised of Celeste, Esme, Irma, Phoebe, and Sophie, as The Cuckoos are genetically-engineered clones of Emma Frost. Conceived as "Weapon XIV", they were an attempt to create a mass-killing weapon against mutantkind, specifically through telepathic assault.
As the genetic daughters of Emma Frost, they're a devastatingly powerful telepath hive mind, and have shown themselves to be worthy of hosting the Phoenix Force. Formerly known as the Five-in-One, the deaths of Esme and Sophie have weakened their shared power, but the Cuckoos remain a force to be reckoned with nonetheless.
Outside of comics, the Cuckoos have appeared in other media. Most notably, they (specifically Esme, Sophie, and Phoebe) appear on FOX's X-Men drama The Gifted, portrayed there by Skyler Samuels. These versions of the characters are shown to be mutant extremists working with the Hellfire Club, eventually getting caught up with the efforts of the Mutant Underground.
The Stepford Cuckoos appear in:
- New X-Men (2001 — 2004)
- Generation Hope (2011 — 2012)
- All-New X-Men vol. 1 (2012 — 2015)
- Uncanny X-Men vol. 3 (2013 — 2015)
- X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
The Stepford Cuckoos provide examples of:
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: the remaining triplets: Celeste, Irma, and Phoebe, respectively. They're all natural blondes, but later Irma and Phoebe dyed their hair.
- Cain and Abel: Esme and Sophie, respectively. Sophie was the most unambiguously heroic of the five, while Esme was the most overtly villainous. Phoebe, Mindee, and Celeste are more generally in the middle, though leaning towards "good."
- Cloning Blues: Cloned from Emma Frost's ova cells while she lay in a coma after her Hellions were killed.
- Creepy Twins: Or rather, quints, at least initially. There are five of them, they're all identical, and they're creepy enough to have been named for a bunch of famous fictional creepy children.
- Emotionless Girl: A part of their creepiness is their general emotional distance as a gestalt. Their diamond form also dampens their emotions until they're completely gone.
- Fun with Acronyms: Their initials were intended to spell "spice", as an Easter Egg. Unfortunately, this was never made explicit and one sister was left unnamed at the end of New X-Men. The next writer named her "Mindee". Her actual name was later revealed to be "Irma", restoring the acronym.
- Hive Mind: Their whole thing is being an "[X]-in-One", bolstering their mental abilities by pooling their powers.
- Manipulative Bitch: Esme was the most manipulative of the sisters. Emma herself even lampshades it when she notes that Esme was the Cuckoo who was most like her.
- Massive Numbered Siblings: It's revealed there's actually thousands of them. The majority of them end up destroyed however, leaving only the ones already introduced.
- Partial Transformation: Unlike their genetic donor, Emma, they're capable of only partially assuming their diamond form as they wish.
- Psychic Link: The Cuckoos form a psychic gestalt, linking all their minds together to magnify their powers.
- Psychic Powers: The Stepford Cuckoos are powerful telepaths, who can combine their telepathic abilities to create an even more powerful hive-mind. Their telepathic powers include broadcasting and receiving thoughts, mind control, planting illusions, blasts of pure psionic energy, seeing through another person's eyes, and also are so powerful that they are one of the few people able to operate Cerebra.
- School Uniforms Are the New Black: The Three-in-One often wear various prep school inspired outfits despite the Academy having no official dress code.
- Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: As a part of their purpose as weapons against the Phoenix they can turn their hearts into unfeeling diamond to seal slivers of it away within themselves.
- Shout-Out: Of course a group of creepily affectless, powerful psychic girls are named as The Stepford Wives + The Midwich Cuckoos.
- Tyke Bomb: Yeah, they're not exactly the most physically intimidating people around but they can still be considered super-soldiers/living weapons. They're actually one of the last elements of the Weapon Plus program, the same one that made Capain America and Wolverine.
- Twin Telepathy: Formerly they were quintuplets but now there are remaining three of them since two of them died.
- Younger Than They Look: The Cuckoos were artificially aged to their current state.