While both Peter Cullen and Frank Welker have portrayed Optimus Prime and Megatron in other productions including video games, this is the first time the two of them have been able to work together portraying their iconic characters in a television series since The Transformers. Both have stated how delighted they were to work together again and how fond they were of each other.
Similarly, Steve Blum in the original version once again plays Shin from Fist of the North Star, in that Starscream is a sadistic warlord who takes pleasure in shoving his hand through the rib-cages of helpless prisoners.
Cliffjumper's vehicle mode has bull's horns on the front of the hood. One of the nicknames his original voice actor, Dwayne Johnson, has when performing as The Rock is "the Brahma Bull".
Dawson Casting: Andy Pessoa is a teenage actor playing 12-year-old Raf, though they are already running into problems with keeping his childlike voice and his voice has clearly deepened as of the season 2 premiere.
At least three sounds seem to have been lifted directly from Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles: the alarm in the Autobots' base is the same as that on the Valley Forge, Starscream's missiles swoosh like Javelin missiles and when Ratchet's medical probe is brought to unlife by Dark Energon it screams like a warrior Bug.
Of course, we must start with Peter Cullen and Frank Welker reprising their roles as Optimus Prime and Megatron. Frank Welker also reprises the role of Soundwave.
It should be noted that Welker uses the same voices for Soundwave as he did for both G1 and the Live Action films. (The only actual difference between the two is that the G1 version uses electrical modulation). In Prime, it's actually a simultaneous broadcast of both the modulated and un-modulated versions.
The Hungarian dub brought back from the movies the voices of: Optimus Prime, Megatron, Starscream, surprisingly Arcee (and it works!), and even more surprisingly Agent Simmons... as Agent Fowler. Besides these...
Lying Creator: Originally, it was stated Ironhide was going to be on the show, but so similar to Animated Bulkhead that they just opted to do Bulkhead instead. However, so the Season 1 set, the reason given was because of Ironhide's death in Dark of the Moon, hinting the reason given earlier was a lie to prevent spoilers.
The abandoned missile silo the Autobots use for home base has a passing resemblance to Mount St. Hilary, the resting place of the Ark in G1. Right before trying to blow up the space bridge, Ratchet says it's time to "light our darkest hour!" The design of the Decepticon ship hearkens back to the unnamed Decepticon ship from G1, given the name Nemesis in Beast Wars.
Optimus Prime and Megatron are both voiced by the same actors (Peter Cullen and Frank Welker) who first voiced them in G1. In "Minus One", Welker also reprises the role of Soundwave.
Whenever Soundwave plays back audio, a subtle but distinct audio modulation is applied, the same used for G1's Soundwave.
The naming of the episode "Convoy" is quite deliberate, as Commander Convoy is the name of Optimus Prime in Japan.
Also, Prime's trailer in said-episode is a perfect replica of G1 Prime's trailer.
In "Sick Mind", Megatron muses over Optimus Prime's deteriorating health and makes a comment on him "fading to Gunmetal gray" (i.e. losing his coloration upon the moment of death)... the same thing that happened when he died in Transformers: The Movie, and in many other series, the one sign that a Transformer's spark has been extinguished and they are truly dead.
In "Shadowzone", while Starscream is being repaired by Knock Out, the latter suggests Starscream take the opportunity to upgrade his somewhat obsolete tech and missing arm with a null-ray.
In "Partners", Starscream tells Airachnid how (prior to joining the Decepticons) he was Air Commander of a squadron of Energon Seekers. In Generation 1, Starscream's title in the Decepticons was Air Commander, and all jet-model 'Cons were called Seekers.
In the same episode, Bulkhead mentions the Transformers Antichrist / Satan figure The Fallen.
In "T.M.I.", Bulkhead also name-drops Perceptor, a G1 Autobot scientist, while doing Cybertronian math.
In "One Shall Fall", Megatron attacks Bumblebee, critically injuring his passenger. G1 Megatron did the same thing in the second-season opener, "Autobot Spike."
In "One Shall Rise, Part 1" Megatron presents himself to Unicron at the maw of the volcano as his "Herald", a term used before, mostly in the comics, to describe any Transformer that directly serves Unicron.
The title is a homage to the Action Masters toys, whose commercial mentions the Transformers becoming "Stronger, faster, more alive." In the Marvel Comics series, the Action Masters were created through the use of Nucleon - a substitute for Energon that could do very bad things (such as ruining their transformation ability, as the Action Masters were non-transforming figures) to the user. (In "Stronger, Faster," the plot is about Ratchet's synthetic Energon proving to be Psycho Serum.)
Also from "Stronger, Faster", Knock Out's taunting of Ratchet regarding the Synthetic Energon ("What are you going to do, drink it?") is a nod to the G1 episode "Microbots", where the Decepticons drank copious amounts of Energon, becoming drunk in the process.
In "One Shall Rise, Part 1", Miko mistaking "Unicron" for "Unicorn" is a reference to the infamous Malaysian dub of Transformers Headmasters, where at one point Galvatron declares "THIS IS UNICORN!" in reference to his "Grand Galvatron" plan.
Also in "One Shall Rise, Part 1", Optimus sums up the Primus/Unicron legend (first introduced in the G1 comics), including the Thirteen Primes.
In "One Shall Rise, Part 3," it's revealed that the key that Jack received from Optimus wasn't for the ground bridge power supply, but Vector Sigma, the mega-computer that gives sentience to non-sentient objects.
In "Masters & Students," Starscream declares himself the "Emperor of Destruction" while taking command of the Decepticons, a term that, while rarely brought up in American Transformers series, has often been used by Japanese fiction to refer to 'con leaders.
When Unicron posesses Megatron for the last time, he becomes engulfed in purple flames. Now, we already know that he directly took his name from Megatronus Prime, one of the original thirteen, who later became The Fallen. In various media, The Fallen is always coated in a fiery aura.
Also whenever Unicron tries to possess Megatron, the lighting and sound effects were exactly like those in Transformers: The Movie, right down to Megatron clutching his head and falling to his knees in pain.
In "Operation Bumblebee, Part 1", Bumblebee gets his Transformation Cog stolen by MECH and is left unable to transform. The same thing happened to Trypticon in the G1 cartoon. It even looks sort of the same.
Ratchet also reiterates to Bumblebee why he has to stay at the base while the rest of the team searches for his T-Cog. They're "Robots In Disguise", after all.
Megatron tries to use the Forge of Solus Prime to create what Knock Out calls a "Fortress Maximus-grade Nucleon Shock Cannon", and fails in "Operation Bumblebee, Part 2".
In "Loose Cannons" Wheeljack mentions former Wreckers Impactor, Roadbuster, Rotorstorm, Pyro and Seaspray as fallen comrades. In even more of a mythology reference, every single one of the Wreckers named, except for Seaspray, who's a new addition, have actually served as Wreckers in various G1 continuities and have also died in those appearances. Impactor didn't survive his initial appearance in the Marvel comics, and neither did Roadbuster (who also died in the Dreamwave comics) and both Rotorstorm and Pyro were killed in Last Stand of the Wreckers.
In "Nemesis Prime" Agent Fowler was playing an instrumental version of The Touch on his radio.
Nemesis Prime, in all continuities he appears, is the evil clone of Optimus Prime.
In "Triangulation" the Apex Armor is from the comics where Sentinel Prime used one to fight Megatron and was defeated.
"Toxicity" introduces a high-ranking Insecticon named Hardshell. Hardshell was an alternate name of Bombshell, a prominent Insecticon character in G1.
Smokescreen's alt-mode is a race car with the number 38 on the side. It even uses the same colors: red, white and blue, just in a different scheme.
In "The Human Factor", a human is placed in a robot's body in order to preserve him. Something similar happened in the episode "Autobot Spike".
New Kaon seems identical to Castle Decepticon and Fortress Sinister from Marvel Comics.
While it's Transformers tradition to re-use character names from previous series (to serve as both an homage and to preserve the trademark to the name), the leader of the Predacons is named Predaking. In G1, Predaking was the name of the combined form of the Predacons, which were merely a combiner group then. (Doubly notable as this is the first use of the name "Predaking" since 1986.)
While complementing Bumblebee's new "stealth" paintjob, Arcee dryly notes that if she inverted her colors she'd be pink. Pretty much every other version of Arcee ever has been some shade of pink.
The battle between Optimus and Megatron in "One Shall Fall" is very similar to the final episode of Beast Wars. Mountainous terrain, lighting storms, both combatants quoting the Covenant of Primus, and Optimus loses.
In "One Shall Rise" Megatron ends a gloating sentence with YEEESSS!
Ratchet, while in the process of waking up from stasis (essentially Transformer morphine), mentions Fuzors, a type of Transformer from Beast Wars that possessed a beast mode that was a combination of two different animals, and even mentions one by name, Bantor, and also that part of his animal mode was a tiger (and part mandrill) in "Operation Bumblebee, Part 2".
In "Triage", Wheeljack's ship managing to shoot down Laserbeak only to be shot down in return is very reminiscent of the battle between the Darksyde and Axalon that trapped both the Maximals and Predacons on Prehistoric Earth in the first episode of Beast Wars.
In "Toxicity", Hardshell is knocked into a volcano, but manages to climb out and attack Bulkhead again. This isn't the first time a Decepticon voiced by David Kaye has ended up rising out of a volcano to attack the person who dunked him in it.
The crash landing of the Nemesis on a cliff edge in "Armada" is way too similar to that of the Axalon.
When Optimus wants the Autobots to really burn rubber in vehicle mode, he'll order them to shift to "Maximum Overdrive" (even if he's the only one doing it). It seems to be Prime's own take on the line "Maximum Burn" that Optimus Primal would shout whenever he engaged his flight capabilities in Beast Wars. Considering who's saying the line and the context, it's probably an intentional homage.
Soundwave ejecting Laserbeak from his chest in robot mode is a reference to the Breastforce Decepticons and their Breast Animals from Transformers Victory.
Bulkhead actually does a Title Drop in "Project Predacon".
The mooks are called Vehicons. Though unlike Beast Machines, they're sentient and all possess sparks, whereas in Beast Machines it was just the Generals who had sparks.
After being presumed dead, Megatron ends up in a body far weaker than his own. Same thing happened to Beast!Megatron, only more drastically.
"T.M.I." also name drops "Beast Machines", though in reference to monster trucks.
The Spark Extractor that Megatron unearths at the beginning of "Operation Bumblebee" was first used by another Megatron as he conquered Cybertron to remove the sparks from captive Transformers and create his Vehicon soldiers, yeeeessss... Prime's version is a little more dangerous, though.
Optimus' words near the end of "Predacons Rising" greatly mirror the last words spoken by Optimus Primal before becoming one with the Well of Allsparks.
Optimus Prime introduces himself and the Autobots to the human kids in a very similar manner to they way his movie counterpart did, and the ending of the Five-Episode Pilot includes him sending a message to space.
Bumblebee is unable to speak.
The first episode states that the last known activity on Earth of the Decepticons was about three years prior, roughly the time in Real Life that the first live-action Transformers movie was released.
Design-wise, Prime Bumblebee is Movie 'Bee in Prime's art style, all the way. Prime Optimus is Movie Optimus without the flame-paint and different shoulders (he's got movie Prime's trademark pop-out cannon and sword, perfectly identical to the movie version.)
Prime Starscream's chest looks a lot like Movie Starscream's face.
When Laserbeak is on Soundwave's chest, it looks very much like the face of Movie Frenzy. Putting a Frenzy homage in Soundwave is also a G1 homage, sorta (G1 Frenzy, like G1 Laserbeak, was one of Soundwave's cassette minions.)
Megatron's jet mode is pretty much Movie Megatron's first alt-mode.
She hasn't done it in the show yet, but all of Arcee's toys make her capable of being mostly in robot mode but rolling around on one wheel just like the Movie Arcee trio.
It's a stretch, but of the movie Arcee trio, only the blue one is shown to survive the final battle.note Before anyone tries to say what "really" happened, let's lay it out: Michael Bay considers them all dead. The post-ROTF comics consider none of them dead (at least, at the point it takes over. Not everyone from the movie survives the comics' events. If you weren't in DOTM and thus assured survival by canon, you could live or die.) The movie itself shows the intact, alive blue one tending to one of the other two after they get blasted. Which gets most canon weight in your book is up to you. Prime Arcee is of course blue.
In "Out of his Head", Megatron's revival is reminiscent of Optimus's from Revenge of the Fallen.
Starscream loses an arm in "Shadowzone", much like his movie counterpart.
In "T.M.I.", Bulkhead is driven crazy after having ancient Cybertronian information projected into his brain and starts drawing symbols on any available surface. The same thing happens to Sam in Revenge of the Fallen.
Starscream's deeper voice and Igor-ish posture and movement make him reminiscent of movie Starscream more than any other.
Nemesis Prime's attack on the military base is quite similar to Blackout's attack on the Qatar base in the first film.
Vogel believes that aliens wish to enslave humanity, which was exactly what the Decepticons planned to do in Dark of the Moon.
Shockwave's design appears to be a melding of his G1 incarnation mixed with heavy influences from his Dark Of The Moon appearance.
In "Orion Pax, Part 2", Starscream takes out a flying Vehicon in much the same way his movie counterpart took out fighter jets in the first film.
Arcee mentioned the time Team Prime first arrived on Earth and describes how Bulkhead ran into a set of power lines. The same thing happened to Ratchet in the first movie.
In "Predacons Rising", Megatron's corpse is reanimated and files out from the bottom of an ocean, much like in the second film.
The Terrorcons were a sub-faction of Decepticons that were largely mindless drones led by Scorponok that had ties to Unicron. The robot zombies here are named Terrorcons in supplementary material (and, later, named explicitly as such in the show), and seem to have some related properties.
Megatron also uses an extremely powerful sword using energon.
Megatron being possessed by Unicron and driven to the place Unicron needed to reach to fully realize his plans.
The Omega Lock and the four keys needed to activate it exist in both series and they both can restore the planet Cybertron.
The battle in "Alpha/Omega" resembles the final battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron/Galvatron as Optimus wields a large blue sword which belonged to another Prime and Megatron wields a glowing purple blade with a curved edge.
In Energon, Megatron was possessed by Unicron, and in Cybertron he has Unicron-inspired designs called the "armor of Unicron" that gives him the Transformer version of dark magic. In Predacons Rising, Megs is possessed by Unicron, has some Energon-esque moments, and also gains some physical Unicron-inspired upgrades which he keeps permanently after Unicron is out of his head for good.
Cliffjumper's head design is almost identical to Animated Bumblebee's design, referencing how they are normallyredecoes of each other.
Bulkhead is very similar in design to his Animated counterpart, as is Ratchet.
Starscream's speech to the Decepticons at the end of "Darkness Rising" is quite similar to the one Animated Starscream gave near the beginning of that show's pilot (both times being when he assumed that Megatron was dead). The difference being that this time he actually gets to finish it... and doesn't get blown up.
In a nod to his Animated counterpart's artistic leanings, Bulkhead spends much of "T.M.I." painting the formula for synthetic energon on any surface he can find.
Starscream's chest may be movie Starscream's face, but the scissors-like positioning of his wings in robot mode is straight-up TFA, as is his strokable chin and his lower body.
Starscream also clones himself in "Armada" much as Animated Screamer did in Season 2, but none of the clones end up becoming any of the other Seekers and they're all dead by the end of the episode.
Smokescreen is a member of the Elite Guard, complete with the wings on the sides of his insignia.
In "Darkest Hour", Megatron borrows his TFA counterpart's catchphrase "Decepticons! Transform and Rise up!".
Animated Ultra Magnus wields a powerful hammer. In "Project Predacon", Prime Magnus decides to put the depleted Forge of Solus Prime to good use.
Prime Shockwave's alt-mode is an H-shaped tank, similar to 'Animated'' Shockwave's, except spikier and more alien-looking.
Soundwave's one line that isn't recorded from someone else is "Soundwave superior, Autobots inferior." Animated Soundwave once said "Autobots inferior, Soundwave superior" (which of course, in turn, homaged G1 Soundwave's "Soundwave superior, Constructicons inferior" when the 'cons argued over who was getting the Klingon Promotion.)
At one point in "Orion Pax, Pt. 1", Megatron refers back to the "war for Cybertron", and refers to the Transformers as being "in exodus" on Earth. A lot of backstory is taken from Exodus and WFC, in one of the show's few attempts at falling in line with the Word of Saint Paul that is WFC, Exodus, and Prime being set in one continuity.
There are more references to other works in the Aligned Continuity in "Operation Bumblebee, Part 2" when a Nucleon Shock Cannon is mentioned by Knock Out as Megatron tries and fails to build one with the Forge of Solus Prime, one of the Thirteen Primes, marking the first appearance of one of the Artifacts of the Primes in the show that isn't the Matrix of Leadership.
A more meta example: "Nemesis Prime" is centered around a robotic duplicate of Optimus Prime, controlled remotely by Silas. The original version of Optimus (named Battle Convoy) from the Japanese Diaclone toy line was in fact a nonliving mech that needed to be piloted by a human.
More toy-based ones that aren't just the usual Merchandise-Driven nature: Bumblebee's color scheme for season three didn't have a toy at the time, the Beast Hunters Bumblebee figure being a super-spiky but not recolored 'Bee. However, movie Bumblebee has several toys based on the "make the yellow black and the black yellow" idea. Also, one of Uni-tron's Dark Energon constructs were similar to the Arms Micron Hades, and his altmode is similar to Gaia Unicron (toys apparently never intended for US release and definitely not used the way the toyline intends, with Hades being normal Megs' mini-con partner a la Transformers Armada and Gaia Unicron being Unicron's season one stone constructs made more Transformery.)
Smokescreen, when watching passing vehicles with Jack to decide on an altmode, says he'd consider a concrete truck "if I was a Constructicon".
No Export for You: So far, at least a good third of the tie-in toyline, including the entire First Edition series, will not be released in the United States... particularly galling since this is where Hasbro's main corporate offices are actually located and the aforementioned First Edition series were released in Canada.
So are the Arms Micron versions of the toyline... and the separate Arms Microns. They're Asia-only.
And therefore, the same goes for the "Arms Micron Theater" shorts.
The third season of the show, Beast Hunters, has fallen into this for Japanese audiences. Instead, it's been replaced with a new OVA series entitled Transformers GO!, which takes place sometime after the missing third season itself. Same with the Predacons Rising TV movie.
The Other Darrin: Given it's set in the same universe as Transformers: War for Cybertron, Optimus Prime is the only character who appears in both WfC and Prime that doesn't undergo this, as Peter Cullen voiced Optimus in both. The humans, Bulkhead, Knock Out, Skyquake, Airachnid, Makeshift, Wheeljack, Tailgate, Dreadwing, and Smokescreen didn't appear in the game, and the portrayals of Bumblebee and Soundwave haven't required voice actors until season three.
Steve Blum replaces Sam Riegel as Starscream, though Steve is also an interesting case, as he voiced Cliffjumper and Shockwave in WfC and the latter again in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, yet Dwayne Johnson voiced Cliffjumper in "Darkness Rising, Part 1'', then he himself was replaced by Billy Brown in "Out of the Past" while David Sobolov replaces Blum as Shockwave in the same episode.
In the Hungarian dub, Jack, Airachnid, and Alpha Trion get new voices in season 3, with Ratchet joining them halfway through the season. The first two seasons were otherwise consistent (surprising for a Cartoon Network dub), only Skyquake's voice changed for a brief flashback.
The German dub recast Optimus' voice actor after the first season (Reiner Schöne -> Klaus-Dieter Klebsch).
Zig-zagged with Michael Ironside as Ultra Magnus. Ironside is well known for playing contemptuous military commanders in live action and his voice acting roles tend to be along the lines of villains or morally dubious heroes. Thus playing a very straight laced military officer is unusual.
Short Run In Peru: Canada aired episodes 21 to 23 several weeks before The Hub did, but then stopped until the two stations were roughly in sync in terms of episodes. Singapore, however, aired the three-part season finale several days before North America did.
It's happened again as of season three, with the first three episodes airing in Singapore (back to back) a week before the first aired on The Hub (on the standard weekly schedule).
And now Predacons Rising has been leaked a full three weeks before the supposed air date on Internet Streaming Sites.
What Could Have Been: Bulkhead was originally planned to be Ironhide, but the creators realized that they were essentially creating a new version of Animated Bulkhead, so they put him in the show instead. However, the featurette of the Season 1 set states that Ironhide's death in Dark of the Moon was what made the crew replace him with Bulkhead.
According to a featurette of the Season 1 set, Lugnut was considered to be join the Decepticon ranks, but was ruled out because the makers felt they had too many aircraft on the 'Con's side and he was replaced with Breakdown.
Smokescreen was going to be the sixth Autobot at the beginning of the show and he would then get killed by Megatron during the season finale. He was replaced by Cliffjumper and his death was moved to the first episode.
Part of the reason Season 2 has so many storylines is that the writers realized that standalone episodes would be hard to maintain due to the very abundant continuity, so they rushed through the storyline ideas that they had. It makes one wonder what could have happened had they gone through the three years as planned.
Seaspray was going to appear in season 3, having survived his run-in with Dreadwing. He would have had a personality similar to Quint from Jaws.