* AlternateCharacterInterpretation:
** Sentinel Prime: [[spoiler: Was he a WellIntentionedExtremist who only wanted his people to have their home restored, or did he just want to return to an era where he was revered as a god?]]
*** What did he mean by saying [[spoiler: [[Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few"]]]]? Was it just a blatant ActorAllusion, or was there a deeper meaning behind it, in a metaphorical sense (in terms of power) rather than a literal sense (numbers)?
** Dylan Gould: [[spoiler: Is he a JerkassWoobie who was unfortunate enough to inherit his dad's allegiance with the Decepticons, or simply a DirtyCoward who wanted to be on the "winning" side? His MoralEventHorizon crossing indicates that he's more so on the latter.]]
*** [[spoiler:One is also reminded of [[VideoGame/MassEffect1 Saren Arterius]], another organic who made a desperate deal with HumongousMecha From Space in the hopes of saving some remnant of civilization. This is a bit of a stretch, though, as Gould does not ''express'' any such sentiment.]]
** Megatron: [[spoiler: Was he earnest when he wanted a truce, or did he just want to reclaim his role as Decepticon leader? How you interpret this will also say something about Optimus's following actions.]]
*** Did Megatron [[spoiler:actually ''deserve'' the benefit of the doubt, even if he ''was'' sincere? Or is this a case of TheFarmerAndTheViper?]]
*** On the other hand Optimus probably remembered what Megatron did in the last film.
** The Autobots as a whole, continuing from the previous movie where they attack Decepticons who are just minding their own business. Here we see the Decepticons aiming to take prisoners (only deciding to execute the Autobots after being talked into it by Dylan), something the Autobots ''never'' consider doing with Decepticons they defeat. Decepticons are concerned about the wellbeing and future of their race (Megatron's taking care of children at the beginning, and the whole attempts to restore Cybertron). This paints a weird portrait of the Autobots, who seem like sore losers about losing the whole war, and would rather drive their own species towards extinction than accept their defeat and let the Decepticons rebuild Cybertron. It's true that most of these plans for rebuilding were at the Human race's expense, but frankly Megatron's hatred of humans is understandable: The first we did is dig him out, keep him paralyzed, then vivisect him ForScience! (And if you factor the Novelization or the common Handwave for him knowing English when he awoke... [[AFateWorseThanDeath He was conscious through it all]]). It becomes easy to see the Decepticons as WellIntentionedExtremist and the Autobots as borderline sociopaths. And that is without even getting into the Autobots involving themselves in human politics at the behest of a single country...
*** Although this interpretation [[MisBlamed misinterprets]] a few things of the movies: Optimus makes it pretty clear the War is lost (in the third movie, he outright says such to Sentinel) and that he has no hopes or intentions of winning it, his focus is keeping humanity from meeting the same fate as his race did: In the first movie, for example, he attempts to sacrifice his own life to save humanity, even though that would mean the Decepticons would win. The second movie also shows The Decepticons planned comitting genocide here long before the war even began (With [[BiggerBad The Fallen]] and all), not to mention seeking to destroy/enslave the entire human race because a bunch of agents from ''one'' government from a ''one'' country imprisioned you (without the rest of the country knowing it, mind you) is a pretty big overreaction. On the politics matter, the label of the scene said "ILLEGAL nuclear facility", meaning it probably belonged to some guerrila warlord and not a government.
*** It also misses the fact that outside of divine intervention (like the [[MacGuffin Allspark]], which was destroyed in the first film) or destruction on a scale larger than Cybertron itself, Cybertron is already dead. 'Winning' and 'restoring the world' wouldn't actually accomplish anything since there's nothing left to restore. While the Autobots may not have any particular need or desire to restore Cybertron, they also realize that the 'war' at this point is essentially pointless in-fighting. There's no new Cybertronian life being born or created so 'bots and 'cons are doing little more than driving themselves to extinction. Megatron doesn't want to restore Cybertron--he wants to win and he wants a place to rule; Cybertron is just a convenient rallying call. A more realistic approach if he truly wanted to help the Cybertronian race would be to stop fighting and start figuring out a way to bring his race back from extinction--colonizing Mars for instance.
* AngstWhatAngst:
** By the end of the film, the Autobots seem pretty held together despite the fact that[[spoiler: they just possibly lost Cybertron forever.]] Then again, [[spoiler:they had already more or less accepted that Cybertron was irredeemable]] by the end of the first film, so it may not be that big a deal.
** [[spoiler: The death of Ironhide]] doesn't seem to bother them really hard either.
* AntiClimaxBoss: Basically ''all'' the main Decepticons go down pretty easily, but the most egregious ones are Megatron, who gets overpowered and decapitated by Optimus in less than 30 seconds, and Starscream, who gets killed by ''Sam'' of all people.
* AuthorsSavingThrow: The previous film had [[StatusQuoIsGod said the events at Mission City were covered up]], which was criticized as being lazy and hard to ignore, given the amount of people present. This film doesn't offer a cover up, instead having Cybertronians be common knowledge to the human race now, as well as examining the repercussions to this somewhat.
* BadassDecay: Megatron suffers ''hard'' from this, although this is at least partly justified by his injuries in the previous film (the novelization even implies that he has a third of his brain missing). Throughout the movie, he [[NonActionGuy behaves in a somewhat tired manner and tends to stay away from the battlefield]], all while getting [[TheWorfEffect kicked around by both]] Sentinel ''and'' Optimus ([[spoiler:getting killed by the latter in a CurbStompBattle when he starts actually trying to ''fight'']]). It's actually a plot point as by the end, Megs realizes he's been slipping big-time and it provokes him into joining the final battle.
* BaseBreakingCharacter:
** Sentinel Prime tends to divide moviegoers into two camps, of which the first sees him as a surprisingly complex character with a really cool design and one of the biggest badasses of the entire franchise, while the other hates him for [[spoiler:brutally executing [[EnsembleDarkhorse Ironhide]] and [[SpotlightStealingSquad sidelining Megatron]] as the BigBad.]]
** Megatron himself veers sharply into this territory. While his BadassDecay is generally agreed to be at its worst here, the fact that it's very much an InvokedTrope that fleshes out his character more redeems him in the eyes of some. In addition, being forced to sit out of direct combat allows him the opportunity to mastermind the impressive BatmanGambit that makes up the first half of the film. That said, the fact that [[spoiler:Optimus takes him down with the absolute greatest of ease]] is generally seen as a slap in the face to the character, especially considering that the alternate ending is seen as a far more redeeming and rewarding one for him that reestablishes him as a badass. Despite this, ''Film/TransformersAgeOfExtinction'' shows why ''DOTM'' has the ending that it does--[[spoiler: it's so Megs can stay the badass conqueror he always was and [[JokerImmunity return as Galvatron]]]]--which, while not as "clean" as the alternate ending, at least allows him to persist as the franchise's flagship villain.
*** Megatron's aesthetic, particularly his altmode and cloth cloak, is itself divisive. Reactions range from "very cool in a rugged sort of way" to "does a good job capturing his fallen-by-the-wayside characterization" to "silly as hell".
** Even on this very wiki, there's no real consensus on whether Jerry Wang is a CrazyAwesome EnsembleDarkhorse for taking on Laserbeak with twin pistols or a tasteless EthnicScrappy used to set up a gay joke. [[TakeAThirdOption Or both.]]
* BigLippedAlligatorMoment: Bruce's extended "red cup" gag is so pointless and forced that it completely falls flat and just slows down the plot.
* CatharsisFactor: [[spoiler: Sentinel killing [[EnsembleDarkhorse fan-favorite]] Ironhide with a dishonorable cheap shot from behind and shoving Megatron to take the position of the film's BigBad assures that most viewers will be notably happier to see him getting beat down on by Megatron and being killed begging for his life by Optimus]].
* CompleteMonster: In the Creator/{{IDW|Publishing}} comic adaptation, Dylan Gould, [[AdaptationalVillainy unlike in the film]], is portrayed as a sadistic psychopath with delusions of grandeur. Having willingly allied with Decepticons years back, Gould covers up the Decepticons' plans and presence from the public eye, having anyone who attempts to learn the truth murdered by his personal Decepticon attack dog, [[FeatheredFiend Laserbeak]]. Once the Decepticons reveal themselves and attack the Earth, Gould uses Sam Witwicky to spy on the Autobots under threat of slaughtering his girlfriend, Carly, and giddily gives the order for the Autobots to be shot down while they are attempting to leave the Earth. Masterminding the invasion of Chicago, Gould has the Decepticons kill countless people and destroy much of the city while turning it into a fortress. Gould ultimately plans to assist the Decepticons in transporting as much of humanity to Cybertron as possible, then use them as slaves to rebuild Cybertron while Gould [[AGodAmI lords over them as their master]]. Even when the Autobots and humans begin defeating the Decepticons, Gould still activates the portal to bring Cybertron to Earth, completely eliminating any possible claims he had to not being fully complicit in the Decepticons' actions. [[FauxAffablyEvil Always wearing a smile and having a witty quip on hand]] to cover up his [[ItsAllAboutMe raving egomania]], Gould truly [[HumansAreTheRealMonsters represents the very worst humans have to offer]].
* ContestedSequel: Is it better than [[Film/TransformersRevengeOfTheFallen the wretched and reviled predecessor]] or just as bad?
* CrazyAwesome: Jerry Wang.
* CriticalResearchFailure: When the Apollo 11 landing site is visited, the upper half (Ascent Stage) of the LM is shown. The Ascent Stage is what the astronauts leave the moon in. It should only be on the moon during the mission, not afterwards. Once the astronauts have left the moon, then only the descent stage/lower half should remain.
* DracoInLeatherPants: This movie is often cited when people criticize the Movie-verse Autobots, who in turn get the RonTheDeathEater treatment. While yes, Decepticons were trying to repair cybertron, it's unlikely that they would offer the "inferior" humans much of a choice, and it's not even discussed how they'd get humans in Cybertron without them dying instantly. Not to mention that if they really wanted their help, they could have just asked first, and not, well, destroy and take over a city and massacre civilians for giggles. [[Note]]And that's not even going into the events of the previous movies, which involve Blackout massacring soldiers for very little reason and Fallen trying to destroy Earth's sun because he finds humans annoying.[[/note]] Even more, bringing the planet to earth would cause irreversible damage to earth, which would result in even more unnecessary deaths.
* EndingFatigue: The final battle is more like a final ''war'', taking up just about the last hour of the film. The ''actual'' final battle (Optimus Vs. [[spoiler: Sentinel]]) doesn't take place till the very end of the movie. If nothing else, Bay kept his promise about having the biggest action yet!
* EnsembleDarkhorse:
** Jerry Wang, [[OneSceneWonder due to his status]]. Dino/Mirage may also count for some, and as always, Sideswipe, carrying over from this status in the previous film.
* HarsherInHindsight:
** The film ends with Optimus narrating that the Autobots will ''never '' abandon Earth and the humans. As shown in the fourth film, shows paramilitary groups actively ''hunting them down'', though led by a corrupt leader.
** Sentinel Prime laments to Optimus that humanity does not treat them with respect, as on Cybertron they, the Primes, were Gods. But on Earth they are "[[JustAMachine just machines.]]" Optimus disagrees on principle, as he has allied himself with many noble humans. Come [[Film/TransformersAgeOfExtinction the following film]], a figure, fueled by FantasticRacism more than anything else, creates a paramilitary group to target both Autobots and Decepticons alike, and shows a character, whose more interested in replicating their scientific properties rather than acknowledging them as actual living beings. He even goes far and tells Optimus that they are just metal. The latter does get better, though.
** "Sentinel, you are coming home, old friend." Fast forward to February 2015, and the old Vulcan voicing Sentinel does indeed go home.
* LikeYouWouldReallyDoIt:
** The writers might be prepared to kill off [[spoiler:Wheeljack]] and [[spoiler:Ironhide]], but ''Bumblebee?'' Get real!
** Also, you know, blowing up the entire [[spoiler:Autobot spaceship with them inside.]]
* MoralEventHorizon:
** [[spoiler:Sentinel Prime]] brutally killing [[spoiler:Ironhide]]. Also, [[spoiler:the Decepticon's genocidal attack on Chicago]] in the same movie might have finally driven home the point that yes, the Decepticons really ARE evil.
** In at least the novel, [[spoiler:Megatron [[HeelFaceTurn redeems himself]] in the end when [[TheDogBitesBack he helps Optimus do Sentinel in]] and then announces his intention to sue for peace. Unlike in the film, [[SparedByTheAdaptation he actually lives to see the end of the novel]] as a direct result.]]
** Laserbeak: [[spoiler: "Is your daddy home?", said right before ''killing the poor girl's parents right in front of her'']].
** When Soundwave brutally executed [[spoiler:Wheeljack]] after the Autobot had surrendered and was begging for mercy, you knew he deserved everything that happened next.
** Any sympathy for [[spoiler:Dylan]] leaves when one sees the lengths he's willing to go to ensure that [[spoiler:he isn't harmed by the coming AlienInvasion. Like when he reassures himself that he's safe... while watching ''hundreds of innocent civilians be slaughtered by the Decepticons.'']]
* MostAnnoyingSound: Sam's constant screaming. He did his fair share of it during the first two movies, but that was understandable since ''giant freaking robots'' were constantly trying to kill him. In this movie, just to name one example, he spends the better part of a minute screaming aloud because his car gets caught in a security pen outside the Autobot base.
* {{Narm}}:
** Optimus' strange sputtering as the Driller sends him flying.
** Bruce Brazos' complete halting of his scene to take down an employee feels very forced and completely falls flat.
** The [[FamousLastWords RUNFAAAGH!]] used by Sentinel towards the end of the final battle. The fact that's it's a stock sound effect from the previous film, from ''Megatron'' no less, doesn't help.
** Sam's complete meltdown and utterly ridiculous screaming when the security tries to impound his car.
** The actual ending happens in about two minutes. [[spoiler: Sentinel and Megatron are killed]], then Sam and Carly kiss, and Optimus makes a quick speech. Boom, the end, and at the time it was supposed to be the end of the trilogy. Many fans preferred the ending of the first film with scenes featuring the rest of the plot being, you know, ''resolved'' (like Keller dissolving Sector Seven and the Decepticon corpses being disposed of).
** Starscream's [[spoiler: utterly pathetic death. Even disregarding the silliness of ''Sam'' of all people being able to take out the second-in-command of the Decepticons, Starscream's behavior during the scene (flailing about wildly, spitting out oil(?) whenever he opens his mouth) make it impossible to take seriously). Then again, given that its [[DirtyCoward Star]][[SmallNameBigEgo scream]], this [[NarmCharm may be the point.]]]]
* NightmareFuel:
** Several of Laserbeak's appearances, especially when he pretends to be friendly towards a little girl just so he can kill her father (and the entire family with him).
** A Decepticon fighter blasting a group of human civilians, reducing them to ash and scattered bones.
* {{Padding}}: It's 2:30 hours long, so [[http://www.agonybooth.com/movies/Transformers__Dark_of_the_Moon_2011.aspx?Page=11 a few people]] find many scenes unnecessary.
* ReplacementScrappy:
** This was anticipated with Megan Fox / Mikaela's departure and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley brought in as a new character, as a lot of fans appreciated that Mikaela wasn't a useless screaming love interest and disliked that Rosie was a Victoria's Secret model with no prior acting experience. The potential anger was ebbed slightly when Rosie's character was named Carly after the [[Franchise/TransformersGenerationOne G1 character]] and Rosie herself commented on being proud of being a part of the franchise. But to a lot of people's surprise both Rosie's acting and Carly herself turned out better than expected, as Rosie wasn't a rehash of Mikaela as a blonde and she was consistently cheerful and friendly even through Sam's moody moments in the movie. On the other hand, one ''hilariously'' vicious review said that ''Dark of the Moon'' is the only movie that could possibly make you miss the acting talents of Creator/MeganFox.\\\
It's also clear at times that the script was written as though Mikaela was still in it. For example, the fact that the government is comfortable with Sam bringing Carly into their secret Autobot command base without any prior approval is rather forcefully handwaved, whereas Mikaela would have had the same protection that Sam enjoys, since she was there for all of the events that Sam was present for.
* RescuedFromTheScrappyHeap:
** Wheelie was better received than in the second movie because A) no leg humping and B) he actually helps in the climactic battle. Along with his partner, the even more quirky Brains, they manage to liven up the mood without being too obnoxious.
** Kind of subverted with Sam. The film seemed to be trying to do this for him by making [[TookALevelInBadass take a more proactive role in the final battle]], including [[spoiler: killing Starscream]], but it mostly just pissed off the fans, [[spoiler: who attributed it more to Starscream suffering from BadassDecay than Sam having TookALevelInBadass.]]
** Averted with Mudflap and Skids. In the novelization, [[spoiler: Skids goes down saving Bumblebee from Sentinel and Mudflap goes down saving the group at large from Sentinel trying to avenge his twin's death]]. Fans' reaction to this scene in the novelization actually garnered the pair a lot more sympathy and admiration, but it didn't happen for the general audience with the scene being cut.
* SurprisinglyImprovedSequel: It is up for debate, but the movie does aim to fix the problems that happened in the second film and fans were generally impressed with some of the story twists like [[spoiler: Sentinel's betrayal, Ironhide's death, Gould's reveal as a bad guy, and Carly convincing Megatron to retake his leadership of the Decepticons]]. For better or worse, it and [[FirstInstallmentWins the original]] are generally considered "the good ones" of the live-action series, at least to the fandom.
* TakeThatScrappy: Narrowly averted as the film was going to contain a scene where [[EthnicScrappy Mudflap and Skids]] were killed off [[spoiler: during Sentinel Prime raiding NEST]]. The scene, and their presence in the movie was cut for pacing. The scene does appear in IDW's comic book adaptation of the movie, playing the trope straight.
* TheyWastedAPerfectlyGoodCharacter: '''Shockwave'''. Originally touted as the film's BigBad (as part of a misinformation campaign, granted) he gets less than 10 minutes of screentime, ''one'' line of dialogue, and serves virtually no purpose in the story besides controlling The Driller. The film also includes none of his classic StrawVulcan or MadScientist personality traits, basically relegating him to the already plentiful role of "Decepticon who gets killed by Optimus in the third act battle".
* TheyWastedAPerfectlyGoodPlot:
** It's generally agreed that, like with the previous movie, the alternate ending depicted in the novel and comics [[spoiler: where Megatron pulls a HeelFaceTurn and joins forces with Optimus to kill Sentinel, afterwards leaving for Cybertron to help rebuild it,]] is better than the movie's actual ending. [[spoiler: It would have shown Megs get some of his old badassery back and made his CharacterDevelopment more obvious, showing that he was a WellIntentionedExtremist all along who genuinely cared about restoring Cybertron and would even give up his evil for that end]]. One guesses that this may have been because Paramount wanted to leave him evil so that he can return as a villain for future sequels, [[spoiler: which ''did'' happen after all in ''Age of Extinction'']].
** It's shown in the third film that humans are aware of the Transformers, and that the Autobots are not well liked by the US population (being referred to as "alien mercenaries"). There are clear reasons for this dislike; the Autobots cause countless property damage in their battles, and there's the fact that the average US citizen has to worry about whether or not the car or machine near them is not a dangerous alien warrior. Sadly, the movie only touches lightly on this, and never really explores how the Transformers' known presence has affected the world at large.
*** This is ultimately subverted, however; promotional material for ''Film/TransformersAgeOfExtinction'' shows that humanity's attitude towards Cybertronians (particularly after Chicago's destruction) will play a big role in the next trilogy's MythArc.
** The film's original touted plot, featuring Shockwave as the ruler of Cybertron and the BigBad, probably could've made for a pretty good story on its own, especially since it held ripe potential for an EnemyMine between the Autobots and Decepticons (something not yet tackled in the film's). Alas, it was just part of a misinformation campaign .
* UncannyValley:
** Wheeljack/Que's face might seem a ''little'' too human-like for some viewers.
** Most of the time they show their cg JFK's face out of focus. They focus on it one time briefly. And boy is it creepy.
** There's also the CGI version of Sam as [[spoiler:he swings around after stabbing Starscream in the eye]]. The CGI becomes noticeable when they show the close up of his face.
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