Western Animation: Beast Wars
"Megatron may be back, and there is still more Energon. If they ever get enough, they could conquer the galaxy. So for now, let the battle be here, on this strange, primitive world. And let it be called Beast Wars!"The series that revived the Transformers franchise after a years-long recession, Beast Wars was a fully CG-animated series that premiered in 1996. It was produced by the now-bought-out Mainframe Entertainment, hot on the heels of its predecessor, ReBoot. Hugely controversial among the Unpleasable Fanbase that are Transfans due to the wildly different direction it took from the original series, Beast Wars was not based around the familiar Autobots and Decepticons, but their descendants, the Maximals and Predacons, who now transformed into Earth animals instead of vehicles or household items. Lumped with this series is the sequel, Beast Machines, although they are not considered a single story arc.Beast Wars refers to the events of Transformers Generation 1 as a mixture of history and legend; it never gives enough details to figure out which Generation One (cartoon, comics or something else) it comes from or what happened to everyone.After stealing a precious MacGuffin from the Cybertronian archives, a small band of Predacon renegades (defying the peace that befell the planet after the Autobots won the "Great War" against the Decepticons) crash-land on a mysterious planet along with their Maximal pursuers. The planet is heavily seeded with a raw, crystalline version of the Transformers' fuel source, Energon, which proves so harmful to them that they need to convert into animal Alternate Modes to survive.The battle then begins, with Optimus Primal dubbing this conflict "the Beast Wars". The reasons behind the Predacons' theft of the MacGuffin grow in importance, and both the inclusion of a third party (the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens known as the "Vok") and a mythology twist really clinch the story.Despite the cries of "TRUKK NOT MUNKY!" from the purists, Beast Wars was actually quite innovative for its time, not only because of the aforementioned CG, but also because of the tight, involving storyline, significant character development, and revolutionary ball joint technology. This latter aspect not only made the toys much easier to play with, but also provided more complex transformations, more realistic alt-modes and much more poseable figures. In addition, the show made attempts to push the boundaries of contemporary children's shows via witty wordplay and graphic violence that was let slip because flying robot parts have been permissible since time immemorial.The expense of CG animation at the time required a limited cast of characters, unlike the 1984 series's cast of dozens. Although this, too, was decried at the time, it meant more time was spent with each character, and hence deeper characterization. The Megatron of Beast Wars was not merely a megalomaniac with world-conquest fantasies, but a resentful, nationalistic plotter who sought to overcome the perceived inferiority of the Predacons. Beginning as a fairly standard femme fatale, Blackarachnia went on to become a Trope Codifier of Dark Action Girls , eventually joining the Maximals and besting some of the most powerful villains (Dinobot II and Rampage) in combat. One of the show's generally acknowledged high points is the character of Dinobot: An honourable Predacon who deserts his side but still feels some fealty to Predacon ideals, he is constantly torn in his allegiances.Say what you will of the quality, this show set the standard for all other Transformers franchises from then on. Even now, it just won't die; a "10th Anniversary" release of the original toys was created (with new figures for Primal and Megatron), and fan favorites Blackarachnia and Waspinator were carried over into Transformers Animated. To some fans, Beast Wars is the best Transformers incarnation of all time due to its high quality and production values. It isn't uncommon for longtime Generation 1 fans to claim that the show is their favorite Transformers series.The Sequel Series, Beast Machines, was...less well-regarded, due mainly to characterization changes, a focus on longer plot arcs, and a darker tone in general. The massive redesigns that the Beast Wars cast underwent were also a huge factor in its reception. Despite this, it has its own fanbase. See its own page for more information.In Japan, two traditionally animated series were created to fill in the production gaps between seasons, Beast Wars II and Beast Wars Neo. They were never dubbed, as they don't fit in very well with the continuity of either the source material or each other. Both shows are much more lighthearted than their Western counterparts and aimed at a much younger audience than Beast Wars (which could plausibly be called the first Transformers series aimed at teenagers, not just children). In addition, the Japanese release of the CG Beast Wars cartoon also changed the dialog for a younger audience, almost to the point of being a Gag Dub.Transformers: Timelines has provided a few prequel stories to Beast Wars.Here's a Character sheet. Now updated with characters from the Expanded Universe. Please feel free to add to it.There is now also Recap in desperate need of assistance.
—Optimus Primal, "Beast Wars (Part 2)"
This show provides examples of:
- Actually Pretty Funny: In "Bad Spark", when Blackarachnia accepts Silverbolt's presence and companionship under the excuse of self-preservation and protection from Tarantulus, the two come across Tarantulus's severed limb hanging from a tree. Silverbolt says that there's no cause for alarm, since he has been disarmed. Both of them laugh after trying to hold in their snickers for several seconds.
- Adorkable: Silverbolt, especially around Blackarachnia. He's noble, principled, honorable, and a real gentleman—and extremely corny to go with it.
- Aerial Canyon Chase: Cheetor tries this in a canyon containing several closely spaced pillars. While he manages to shake off the newly awakened Silverbolt with this technique, Megatron simply ploughs through the pillars head-first to no ill effect.
- Affectionate Nickname: Blackarachnia has a wide, colorful selection of doggy nicknames she uses for Silverbolt ("Jojo", "Bowser," "chunk-style", etc.) It's pretty adorable.
- A God Am I: Megatron has one hell of a God complex. In the series finale, he refers to his "imminent godhood" and quotes from the Covenant of Primus in reference to himself. This leads nicely into his view of himself all through Beast Machines as destined to ascend to godhood.
- A Handful for an Eye: During the Maximal/Predacon "truce" (which apparently allows combat so long as no weapons are used) Rattrap kicks a bunch of dirt in Waspinator's face, temporarily blinding him (even though he's a robot). Ratrap then proceeds to give Waspinator a noogie.
- All There in the Manual: The device in the "Other Visits" two-parter is called a Metal Hunter in the scripts.
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: WAR WAR! STOP IT! is the Japanese opening and "FOR THE DREAM" is the Japanese ending.
- Ancient Astronauts: The Vok. Word of God says their seemingly nonsensical experiments were an attempt to accelerate Humanity's evolution so they would be able to prevent the Vok's ancestors, Generation 2's The Swarm, from devastating Earth. The Maximals themselves later take on this role, opening a school for the cave people (complete with a blackboard) so they'll be ready for when the Decepticons wake up.
- Animation Bump: While the CG was pretty good for its time, some sequences, such as Waspinator's resignation speech, contain especially fluid animation.
- Anyone Can Die: Out of a total named cast of twenty, only eight, not counting one-shot characters, make it out alive. This was largely due to Executive Meddling and software limitations. CG was relatively new at the time, and only a handful of characters could appear at once; add in the Merchandise-Driven nature of the franchise, and characters had to be removed to show off new toys. Luckily, the show ran with the punches and figured out how to swing the act properly each time someone had to bite it—save for Scorponok and Terrosaur and the infamous [[Retcon retconned]] death of Inferno in the second season finale.
- The remaining stasis pods were never found and presumed destroyed. note The body count is quite high for a kid's show.
- An Arm and a Leg: Losing limbs is a relatively common dramatic device, as they can always be reattached later.
- Arachnid Appearance and Attire: Tarantulas and Blackarachnia.
- Art Evolution: The CG was always top-notch, but as the hardware improved, so did the animation. The most dramatic leaps were season two of Beast Wars and then the jump to Beast Machines.
- Artificial Beast
- A Storm Is Coming: The show actually has an episode called "Before the Storm."Megatron: There is a storm approaching. A storm of such power, such magnitude...it is beyond imagination.
- A-Team Firing: Constantly. Given that characters can only die a permanent death when scripted, the combatants on both sides are equally incompetent at landing shots when they need to be. (The few times they do score hits, the victim is usually just knocked out or non-lethally blown to bits, as the case with Waspinator.) Rhinox takes the cake, as he once ended up literally knee-deep in brass casings firing two of his chainguns of doom without actually hitting anything.
- Autocannibalism: Dinobot disposes of a fully biological clone of himself by eating it.
- Back for the Dead: Tigatron and Airazor. They both get abducted by the Vok halfway through the second season, then come back as Tigerhawk, a fusion of them as one being, right before the series finale. And then Tigerhawk dies roughly ten minutes into the final episode.
- Back from the Dead: Optimus Primal is reborn in a new body, complete with a Transmetal upgrade, because Rhinox retrieved his spark from the Matrix and re-inserted it into a blank protoform.
- Blackarachnia also gets this in "Crossing the Rubicon". She tries to delete the Predacon reprogramming inside her with Maximal programming and a Transmetal driver. Her attempts to reprogram herself cause the Predacon programming to retaliate and nearly kill her instead, but the Transmetal driver fuses with her body and allows her to revert back to a Maximal with a Transmetal II body.
- Band of Brothers: The Maximals. Though they took a long road to get there.
- Battle Cry:
- "Maximals, MAXIMIZE!!"
- "Predacons, TERRORIZE!!"
- "For the Royalty!"
- "For the glory of the colony!"
- Behind a Stick: Inferno pulls this off when the recently base-less Predacons evade a Maximal patrol.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Whilst there are several jerkass Maximals who'll resort to morally ambiguous tactics, the nicer Maximals are not to be underestimated. Some of the Predacons learn this the hard way.
- Bigger Bad: Unicron is behind Tarantulas's plan to destroy the Ark with the Decepticons and Autobots on it, as it would mean that he could destroy Cybertron without the Matrix to stop him.
- There's also the original Megatron, who came up with a back-up plan to have any Decepticons go back in time and kill Optimus Prime in case the Decepticons lose the war, and he had the instructions coded on the Golden Disc. It's this plan that pretty much starts off the series once the current Megatron gets hold of said Golden Disc.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Throughout the series, nearly all of the Predacons have insect or arachnid beast modes. At one point, every Predacon aside from Megatron is at least half-arthropod.
- Bittersweet Ending: Out of all the Maximals who appear in the series, only six make it back to Cybertron alive. Pretty dark for a show that's geared towards selling toys to children.
- Book Ends: In the premiere and finale, Megatron ignores tactical advice from Dinobot (or in the latter case, a clone thereof) in favor of toying with his enemy/satisfying petty grudges. In both cases, it costs him.
- Bulletproof Human Shield: Megatron pulls a disturbingly dark gambit on Dinobot by threatening to using a primitive human as collateral.
- Butt Monkey: Waspinator is by far the biggest example. His many deaths can be watched here. From the 'bot himself:Waspinator: "Why universe hate Waspinator?"
- Scorponok and Terrorsaur have almost it as bad early on. Terrorsaur, in particular, initially rivals Waspinator for being blown to pieces. Unlike the poor bug, he still manages to remain a genuine threat, if only due to having one of the biggest arsenals in show.
- As a matter of fact, Waspinator is such a butt monkey that he appears most frequently as the enemy in the Quake-style FPS game Rattrap plays in his downtime.
- Brass Balls: The pilot episode features Dinobot challenging Optimus Primal for the leadership of the Maximals. Rhinox's response:Rhinox: This guy's got bearings of chrome steel.
- Broad Strokes: In regards to G1. This is justified in two ways in-universe: 1. the show is set hundreds of years after G1, and 2. the Maximal leaders have purposely obfuscated facts about the Great War to hide certain things (such as Starscream's immortality).
- By the Power of Grayskull!: Maximals and Predacons shouting out their activation codes ("Maximize" and "Terrorize", respectively). At first, it seems like this is a requirement to transform to robot mode, but the trope winds up being subverted as the series wears on. After the first season, activation codes were said less often. Lampshaded at one point where Dinobot tries to infiltrate the Predacons and has to prove his allegiance by changing his activation code. Tarantulas notes that simply changing his activation code means nothing.
- Catch Phrase:
- Several characters, as seen in the Character sheets. The two most notable are Megatron's "Yes"/"No" Verbal Tic and Rattrap's Once an Episode "We're all gonna die."
- Optimus Primal's famous "Well, that's just Prime" phrase (usually used akin to the phrase "for the love of God") is used in the presence of the actual Optimus Prime, which causes Rattrap to lampshade it.
- Characterization Marches On: A lot of the characterization is quite different in early Season 1, before the writers really worked out who the characters were. Scorponok, not Tarantulas, is the smart guy of the Preds; Tarantulas's focus seems to be entirely based on eating things; and Rhinox is the type of guy to say, "Yo, ease up." None of it jives very well with the characters as they eventually become.
- Chekhov's Gun: The first episode opens with the mention that Megatron has stolen the Golden Disk, one of Cybertron's most ancient and sacred relics. Once it is determined that it could not lead them to Earth, as Megatron had believed, the disk is quickly forgotten. It becomes a crucial plot point in season two and beyond.
- Chekhov's Skill: In "Gorilla Warfare." On a exploration mission, an Earth plant launches one of its seeds onto the back of Dinobot's back. Optimus later detaches a virus bug from himself and throws at the same point on Megatron.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Comes with the package of being a Predacon. At one point or another, all of Megatron's forces try to betray him, with varying degrees of success, except for Scorponok (who is not too bright) and Inferno (who is insane). Even Rhinox, during his temporary Face-Heel Turn, does this. To top it all off, the original Starscream makes an appearance and does what he does best. Megs is happy to put up with all of this as long as he can use it to his advantage.Megatron: (to Tarantulas) I can suffer your treachery, lieutenant, but not your incompetence! Treachery requires no mistakes.
- Circle of Standing Stones: Some are found in the first episode, indicating the Maximals and Predecons are not the first advanced races to visit this world. The aliens in question are eventually identified as the Vok.
- Closed Circle: Both ships are totaled during the initial crash, and rescue is next to impossible, considering that they've traveled through both space and time.
- Comic Trio: Inferno (schemer), Quickstrike (follower), and Waspinator (complainer) form one.
- Complexity Addiction: In the first scene of the pilot, Megatron has the Maximal ship cornered and damaged, but opts for a lateral shot so they will suffer, instead of destroying them outright. It ends up causing both ships to crash-land, and is thus the reason for the whole cartoon series.
- Conspicuous CG: Inverted. Because the vast majority of the show is CG, the rare instance of non-CG imagery (many fire and explosion effects, for example) is very conspicuous.
- Convection Schmonvection: The characters themselves get very close to lava without any adverse effect, but they are alien robots and can survive in environments that living beings cannot. All other combustible materials burst into flames at a proper distance.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Tarantulas' demise, while admittedly well-deserved, is still pretty horrible.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: The cast refers to Primus as their creator, and the Covenant of Primus seems to be some sort of Bible analogue. Once Megatron goes right off the deep end towards the end of the series, the Covenant goes from a cultural footnote to something that outright predicts things. The idea of Primus was actually nabbed from the Marvel Transformers comics, so this was actually a long-distance Continuity Nod.
- Decomposite Character: Optimus Primal and Beast Megatron. While the toyline's back story was changed to match the cartoon, the toyline originally set the events on present-day Earth, and instead of being legacy characters to their G1 namesakes, Primal and Beast Megatron originally were Optimus Prime and the original Megatron themselves, just with new forms.
- Deus ex Machina: In the finale, the Maximals, holed up in the Ark, are getting pummeled by the Decepticon warship Megatron just found. Thanks to a tip from Dinobot II, they find a working shuttle in one of the bays. They take that shuttle, kamikaze it into the enemy ship, and then fly home on it, creating a Stable Time Loop.Blackarachnia: The history tracks never mentioned this!Rhinox: History's still being made!
- Dialogue Reversal: Between Silverbolt and Blackarachnia in "Bad Spark":
- Diminishing Villain Threat: Waspinator. While rarely a victor, he's initially portrayed as quite a competent fighter, as evidenced by his battle with Cheetor in the premiere. However, the writers soon made Waspinator comic relief, leading him to "getting blown to scrap all the time!" This led to Waspinator becoming one of the most popular characters in the series.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The transformations are treated with much more gravitas. Each member shouts his name and transformation code out loud, and is seen to transform by him/herself. This is not limited to just the first transformation, either, as almost all of them in the first two episodes are this way. Similarly, a big case is made out of Optimus's inexperience at commanding. This is never referred to again once the pilot two-parter is over.
- The first season is noticeably more goofy than the following two.
- Earth All Along: Somewhat subverted in that Megatron knew it was Earth the whole time.
- Everybody Laughs Ending: Several episodes in Season 1. It would often be followed by an image of a butterfly flying by, just so you'd know how great life is.
- Evil Is Burning Hot: While the Maximal base is located near a river, the base of the Predacons is at a lava flow.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: If you don't go into this expecting a show about beasts and war, you have only yourself to blame.
- Expanded Universe: The IDW Beast Wars comics, which shoehorn characters from Beast Wars II and Beast Wars Neo, along with most of the toy-only characters, into the series. They are all either chronally displaced or on Cybertron, however, so it does not clash with the series.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: This is a very violent show, exploiting the Mecha-Mooks loophole as far as it can. Characters are bashed up, blown apart, shot, stabbed...and usually alive in the next episode. When someone actually dies, it tends to go even further: Tarantulas is vaporized by one of his own mad science devices, leaving nothing but his feet with smoke rising from them. The last we see of Terrorsaur is his desperately outstretched hand slowly descending into the lava. And we'll spare you the details of Depth Charge, Rampage, and Tigerhawk's deaths..
- Beast Wars Megatron popping a cap in Optimus Prime's head. He got better, but still—giant gaping hole in the head of one of the biggest adored heroes of a generation.
- To say nothing of Dinobot's and Transmutate's heart-wrenching deaths.
- Beast Wars Megatron popping a cap in Optimus Prime's head. He got better, but still—giant gaping hole in the head of one of the biggest adored heroes of a generation.
- Fartillery: After being poisoned by one of Tarantulas' creations, Rhinox is forced to eat a large amount of beans to keep his energy up. During the final showdown, the cumulative effect of those beans hits all at once, leading to an explosion so powerful that it destroys Tarantulas' lab, sends the Predacons flying, and creates a mushroom cloud that can be seen from orbit.
- Fate Worse Than Death: In "Possession", it is revealed that, after being killed by Galvatron, Starscream's spark has been wandering through the universe for thousands of years, even traveling through time.
- Five-Man Band: Characters usually have traits falling into multiple roles. However, they do approximate as follows:
- Rhinox makes a comment in the first episode that they do not even know when they are, because their FTL engines can move through time given certain circumstances. The fact the planet is prehistoric Earth does not come up until the beginning of the second season, mainly because the planet has two moons instead of one.
- Halfway through the first season, Rhinox makes a comment that "one of the moons is lighter than it should be, almost as if it were...hollow." At the end of the first season, it is revealed that it is a planet-buster weapon.
- In "Call Of The Wild" the cheetah in Cheetor's dream falls into a lava pit. The fact that the Predacon base crashed on top of a volcanic area suggests at least one character is likely to die that way. In the second season premiere, Scorponok and Terrorsaur bite the dust...
- Throughout the first season, Tarantulas is hinted to know more of what is going on than any of the other characters. Among other things, he desires to recover a stasis pod to get off the planet alone as soon as possible before the above-mentioned Planet Buster hits. He also harnesses dark science and technology that is beyond any of the other Predacons' knowledge, even Megatron's, and has a scary obsession with the Vok. He's actually a descendant of Unicron who wanted the power of the Vok to alter the timeline so that the Autobots and Decepticons could be erased and the Tripedacus Council would rise to unchallenged supremacy.
- In the episode "Other Victories", a rotating picture of the Nemesis is clearly visible on one of Tarantulas's monitors. What he is up to is revealed one episode later, ushering in the Final Battle: He had finished repairing the ship for his own use.
- Four-Fingered Hands: Rhinox, Depth Charge and Transmetal II Cheetor.
- Gag Dub: The Japanese version of the show was rather less serious.
- Gambit Pileup:
- In the first season finale, Megatron, Blackarachnia and the Maximals all have their own individual plans for dealing with the destruction of the planet by the alien Vok, and almost all of their plans hinge on the different known factors of everyone else's plans.
- Tarantulas originally plans on escaping the planet in a stasis pod, Blackarachnia secretly plans to steal his stasis pod for herself and use it to escape, and Megatron purposefully allows the two of them to go about stealing said pod with the plan of forcing that pod (with the escapee still inside) to become a makeshift bomb used to destroy the alien Planet Buster. Optimus and the Maximals plan to use the pod for the same purpose, but with the idea that Optimus will escape the pod at the last second. (Megatron's version, which ultimately wins out, involves Optimus not escaping and dying in the explosion.)
- Interestingly, after Optimus dies in the explosion (which Megatron had originally meant for one or both of the spiders), Tarantulas's reaction is smug laughter, the kind he only ever does when he's just pulled off something deceitful. This leaves the implication that Tarantulas was well aware of Megatron's schemes too, and that his plan was to ready the pod and assume that either Blackarachnia, Inferno (on Megatron's orders) or Optimus would intercede (all tried to) and then die in Megatron's scheme, rather than him.
- Considering that his ultimate scheme is to destroy the Ark and both Autobots and Decepticons to negate the existence of all Cybertronians—which Tarantulas is not one of, it turns out, it wouldn't have made sense for him to be willing to leave the planet anyway. Claims that he wanted to were likely for Blackarachnia and Waspinator's benefit, so that it would get back to Megatron. Thus, ultimately, it's Tarantulas pulling all the strings.
- That said, Tarantulas's ultimate scheme would have been achieved if he got off the planet anyway, as the planet was going to explode. That would have wiped out the Ark anyway. It's just as likely that Optimus piloting the pod was convenient rather than planned.
- Genre Savvy: Megatron clearly knows his tropes and clichés. "The Agenda" reveals that his predecessor G1 Megatron was pretty Genre Savvy too; when he saw that he was losing the war, he left instructions for future Decepticons on how to get to prehistoric Earth on the Golden Disc so that they could go back in time and change history.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: All over the place. The writers cleverly used machine-based terminology such as slag, scrap, or "that guy has bearings of chrome steel" in place of actual foul language. Some of the byplay between Blackarachnia and Silverbolt is particularly clever, implying lots but saying little. Some examples:
Rattrap: So, uh, where ya' been, bird-dog?
- After Silverbolt's illegal flirting with Blackarachnia in "The Agenda Pt. 1":
Silverbolt: Uh, scout patrol...
Rattrap: Oh, yeah, yeah, scoutin' the enemy, yeah. Find any new positions?
Rattrap: Hey! You emasculatin' fembot!
- Upon hearing that they may be going home, Rattrap invites Silverbolt to a seedy bar where the waitresses do not have their chest plates on.
- From the final episode, when Blackarachnia needs a cable and decides Rattrap's sword/tail will do:
(Blackarachnia smirks and, with a flick of her claw, slices the tip off Rattrap's sword/tail)
Silverbolt: (disturbed look on his face) Oooh....
- Tigertron and Airrazor gasp at Rattrap's new look once he is turned into a Transmetal. Rattrap asks "What's with you two? Is my gearbox hanging out or somethin'?" As he says the last part he waves his hand over his crotch area.
- Good Is Not Dumb: Optimus Primal is one of the most noble characters in the series, and one of the most cunning as well.
- Gray and Gray Morality: While the conflict on prehistoric Earth has a clear good and bad side, glimpses of Cybertron show that this is in full effect. Megatron is a rogue revolutionary who wants to kickstart a new Great War, is widely viewed as a dangerous lunatic even by those who agree with his philosophy, and clearly doesn't represent the Predacons as whole, even if the Tripredacus Council are bad guys. Likewise the Maximal leadership doesn't exactly have the moral highground over the Predacons, what with the horrifying genetic experiments that created Rampage, their subsequent cover-up of said experiments, and the fact that they've deliberately hidden and lied about events in the Great War.
- The comics and supplementary materials take it even further, with implications that Maximals tend to discriminate against Predacons due to the Great War. The many Predacons like Dinobot, Blackarachnia, and Waspinator, and the way defection is an option regardless of which side you're on, make it clear that the scumbags like Megatron and Tarantulas are very much the minority.
- Heel-Face Turn: Dinobot at the beginning switches to the Maximals due to his distrust in Megatron, believing the plan has failed. But when it succeeds, he switches back, only to return to the Maximals after realizing that Megatron's gone mad. He remains with the Maximals until his Heroic Sacrifice.
Megatron: What?! What possible reason do you have to disobey me?! I am your master! I am your creator!
- Silverbolt, though it's because of his dissatisfaction with being a Predacon.
- Blackarachnia defects to the Maximals in "Optimal Situation" after realizing that Megatron's plan would wipe her from existence.
- Dinobot's Transmetal 2 clone switches sides after Rampage dies and the former's spark becomes whole. This moment is the climax of the Beast Wars.
Dinobot 2: And I...have my honor!
- Hollywood Apocrypha: The Covenant of Primus, for both factions.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Megatron's Transmetal II form. Later has its down side in the Contested Sequel, Beast Machines.
- In Their Own Image: According to G1's Megatron, this was the plan passed down to BW's Megatron. By going back to while the Autobots and Decepticons were in stasis lock and killing Optimus Prime, Megatron would create a time paradox that would remove Autobots, and thus Maximals, from existence, causing the Decepticons to win the Great War and shape the future in their image.
- Insane Equals Violent: When Inferno's stasis pod scans a fire ant for his alt mode, it also alters his logic, making him hell-bent on protecting the stasis pod he came in, perceiving it as his "colony". After the pod is destroyed by Maximals, he goes extremely Trigger Happy, often incinerating everything in sight any time Maximals show up.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Though the plot itself is fairly straightforward, there's loads of subtle character moments, subplots, hints of larger forces at work, and background information that comes together to tell an even more complete story. Some of the subtle mysteries, ambiguities, and machinations of the show are still debated to this day, over 18 years after it first aired (as of this writing).
- Kangaroo Court: Quickstrike is given a "trial" for treason after he tries to kill Megatron while taking part in one of Tarantulas's schemes. Megatron is the judge (complete with powdered wig), Waspinator is the defense, and Rampage and Dinobot II are the jury. After Waspinator's "brilliant" summation, Megatron asks for the verdict. Rampage and Dinobot II immediately point their weapons at Quickstrike.
- Killed Off for Real: Quite common, as a result of the competing needs of introducing new characters and keeping the cast small. Terrorsaur and Scorponok are unceremoniously bumped off at the beginning of Season 2; Dinobot's death in "Code of Hero" counts, later developments notwithstanding. Then, of course, the last few episodes are spectacularly fatal, with Tarantulus offed by the Vok; Depth Charge sacrificing himself to kill Rampage; Tigerhawk, Inferno, and Quickstrike getting gunned down by a giant space battleship, and Dinobot's clone taking a leaf from his predecessor's book.
- Klingon Promotion: Word of God says that Predacon leadership welcomes treachery under the rationale that leaders who cannot thwart a treacherous underling are probably not fit to be leaders.
- Look What I Can Do Now: This technically happens any time a character receives an upgrade, which is quite often.
- Magnetic Plot Device: The Vok were an alien race who had a vested interest in the planet and left all sorts of powerful technology that the characters fight over. While there is certainly some continuity with Megatron's schemes, the Vok episodes tend to be the ones where things really start to shake up.
- Make Wrong What Once Went Right: As hinted in the first episode, the real reason the Predacons traveled to the past Earth was to destroy Optimus Prime within the Ark and establish the Predacons as the rulers of Cybertron.
- Market-Based Title: Canadian regulations do not allow a children's show to have the word "war" in its title, thus the show is called Beasties in Canada. Don't tell the really sensitive walks of fandom this; we'll NEVER hear the end of it.
- Meaningful Echo: In "Code Of Hero", Rattrap confronts Dinobot for his defection back to the Predacons: "'Oh yeah, he's a slag-spouting saurian, but at least you know where he stands!' Guess we live and learn." Later, after Dinobot saves the valley at the cost of his life, Rattrap repeats himself, "Like I said, you're just a blasted slag-spouting saurian, but...it's nice to know where you stand."
- Merchandise-Driven: One of the few genuine cases of such done properly.
- Mind Rape: As makes sense given their robot nature, multiple plots involve hacking or messing with their minds/sparks; the screaming and struggling that accompany it makes it clear that this is not a clean process.
- Mirror Morality Machine
- Missing Man Formation: Optimus, Cheetor, and Silverbolt fly overhead in the missing man formation during Dinobot's funeral.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: The Fuzors, Silverbolt and Quickstrike. There are more of them mentioned in the IDW comics. Magmatron recruits them.
- Then, Eleventh Hour Ranger Tigerhawk.
- Mook Horror Show: During "Gorilla Warfare", Optimus goes on a rampage against the Predacons, hunting them down in their own base. At one point, he breaks through a wall to grab an obviously terrified Waspinator.
- Mugging the Monster: Sorta. In "Dark Designs", Megatron builds a brainwashing machine and tests it on Rhinox. Optimus rather accurately predicts the result: evil!Rhinox is too much for the Predacons to handle, and Megatron has to change him back to stand a chance.
- Mythology Gag: Numerous to the original series, but also to the original line of toys (including one knock at Hasbro's change from die-cast metal components to all-plastic).Rattrap: (Commenting on the Ark) This thing wasn't built...it was POURED!
Optimus Primal: Die-cast construction...(looks at the viewers, shrugs rather sadly) It's a lost art.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Rivals: When Silverbolt and Rampage fight over Transmutate, she jumps into the crossfire and uses her powers to make her friends stop. This leads to her getting destroyed.
- Our Souls Are Different: Sparks.
- Outrun the Fireball: Seen in the opening of every episode of the first season, no less.
- Overly Long Gag: Rhinox unloading his Chaingun of Doom into Waspinator during the climax of "Chain of Command". It's almost ten seconds of nothing but roaring gunfire and Waspinator screaming in pain.
- Painful Transformation: Every upgrade transformation is accompanied by screams, and the second upgrades of Optimus Primal and, to a far scarier extent, Cheetor have their new body parts burst through their old ones.
- Power Floats: The floating mountain of energon in the episode "Power Surge".
- Prequel: Theft of the Golden Disk and the comic "Dawn of Future's Past". Both tell what happens before the cartoon events.
- Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: Both teams start out like this, with the Predacons as a relatively hastily assembled group of renegades and the Maximals a group of scientists/explorers who happened to be the only ones in the area able to pursue them.
- The Remnant: The Predacons. The same applies to Ravage, one of the few remaining original Decepticons, and also Starscream's ghost.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Megatron, Terrorsaur, Quickstrike (part of him anyway), and Dinobot II (for a while) all have reptilian/dinosaur beast modes. So does the original Dinobot, though unlike the others, he is an honourable warrior. That said, he retains some of his Predacon sensibilities even after he defects to the Maximals. His clone also pulls a Heel-Face Turn by the end of the series (when Rampage dies and Dinobot II's Spark is fully formed) and performs a Heroic Sacrifice to stop Megatron's plans, crashing the Nemesis in the process.
- Ret Canon: Prior to the series premiere, the toyline painted the events as happening on present-day Earth, and instead of being Legacy Characters of Optimus Prime and the original Megatron, Optimus Primal and Beast Megatron were the same characters as their G1 namesakes, just with new forms. Once the cartoon debuted, the toyline's backstory was changed to match up with it.
- The Reveal: The Golden Disc was not just a map to an energon goldmine, it was a backup plan left by G1's Megatron with instructions for the Decepticons' descendants to travel back in time, gain access to the Ark, and kill Optimus Prime and any other Autobots that would stop the Decepticons from winning the Great War. This data was hidden on the actual historical Golden Record launched into space during the 1970s.
- Right Man in the Wrong Place: Optimus's crew were mere scientists starting an exploration mission who just happened to be the only ones in the area when a certain crew of renegade Predacons zoomed by in a stolen ship.
- San Dimas Time: Integral to the second season. In "Code of Hero", Rhinox calculates that the shockwave from the Planet Buster explosion is moving into the future, and will reach contemporary Cybertron in a matter of weeks. Sure enough, "reinforcements" from the future arrive at that point, rather than travelling back to immediately after the explosion.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Protoform X a.k.a. Rampage. He is the result of Maximal experiments to produce an immortal super-soldier by copying Starscream's mutant spark. They got that part right in the form of an unkillable serial killer who slaughtered human and Cybertronian alike. After eventually capturing him, the Maximal Elders sealed him up in a stasis pod, then turned him over to Optimus Primal's crew to dump on some desolate asteroid, since they couldn't figure out how to destroy him. Several adventures later, the monster is unleashed again and recruited by the Predacons.
- Sealed Good in a Can: The stasis pods all contain protoforms that are Maximal by default, but can be reprogrammed with a little know-how to produce a Predacon. This turns every time a protoform makes planetfall into a race between the two factions to recruit the newcomer.
- Second Person Attack: This infamous scene has a double version, plus an Impairment Shot of seeing double and falling over after the punch.
Dinobot: Wait! Look! Down in the sky! Is it a bird?
- A scene in "Gorilla Warfare" is inspired by Robocop.
- In "Victory", the scene where Optimus is falling from the Axalon after being shot by Scorponok in his beast mode resembles a scene in King Kong (1933).
- There's also this one to Superman, complete with a Suspiciously Similar Song version of Supes's Main Theme:
Rhinox: Maybe a plane!
Rattrap: Nah! IT'S OPTIMUS!!
- In Dark Designs, Cheetor's "Better dead than Pred" is a pun on an anti-communism message from The Fifties.
- Another scene, in which Optimus brandishes his swords before Megatron shoots him down, is reminiscent of the duel between Indiana Jones and the Cairo swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Dinobot pushing Scorponok into his rotor blade weapon echoes the demise of the German engineer in the same movie.
- Airazor's pose in "The Low Road" is a direct reference to the famous Star Wars poster.
- The sequence in Season 3 where Megatron is using the Transmetal Driver to create the new Dinobot II from a blank Protoform draws heavily from the classic film Frankenstein (1931).
- In the episode "The Probe," the search-and-rescue probes sent out from Cybertron, shot for shot, mirror the Imperial probe droids from the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back.
- Several to classic Looney Tunes, mostly involving Waspinator getting scrapped.
- Rock'em Sock'em Robots battle between Rhinox and Inferno in Season 2. Colors even match.
- The head writers involved were very active in the online fandom. As a result, these cropped up all the time, often in the form of locations. Subsector Hooks and Grid Joona, for example, are named after fans who posted on the alt.toys.transformers usenet group at the time.
- At one point a concussed Waspinator refers to himself as "Wonko the Sane." While originally the name of a minor character in So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, the specific reference was to a Beast Wars fan, Benson Yee, who used this name as an online alias. Yee was recruited as a continuity consultant for the second season finale. The Beast Wars crew recognized the value of the fandom.
- What may have been a very subtle Shout Out was Cheetor's weapon sound effect. It sounded just like Mega Man's from the cartoon. Both were voiced by Ian Corlett.
- Rattrap and Optimus's dialog about the Ark, how "that ship wasn't built, it was poured" and "die-cast construction: it's a lost art" are both about how the original G1 Transformer toys (well, the better, larger ones) all had die-cast parts for at least half the body.
- Speaking of the Ark, it's appearance here was partially modeled after both the version seen in the G1 cartoon, as well as the USS Defiant (especially the nose area).
- Megatron's first appearance to Optimus after he gets his new dragon body: "Enter the Dragon!"
- Shout-Out to Shakespeare:
- "Tell my tale to those who ask. Tell it truly, the ill deeds along with the good, and let me be judged accordingly. The rest...is silence," says Dinobot before dying.
- In an earlier episode, Dinobot says: "Alas! Poor Tarantulas. I knew him, Cheetor." Dinobot was holding Tarantulas's severed spider legs, though, not his severed head.
- Dinobot also tosses out a "To be or not to be, that is the question" when contemplating Free Will vs Fate.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: In the final episode, Optimus delivers an epic one to Megatron.Megatron: Come on, now, let's hear it. The usual "destiny and honor" speech.
Optimus: Speech this! *clocks Megatron in the jaw*
- Sliding Scale of Free Will vs. Fate: Dinobot spends most of the 2nd season contemplating his fate and whether he has any control over it, once he discovers Megatron has a method to predict the future using the golden disk. Dinobot goes through enough grief that he joins the Predacons for the simple reason they're more likely to win, and after rejoining the Maximals, he contemplates suicide. He finally finds his answer witnessing Megatron directly changing the future of his own free will. Dinobot becomes relieved and ironically finds himself with no choice but to perform a Heroic Sacrifice to thwart Megatron's plan to wipe out human existence. In death, Dinobot finds peace, knowing he died from actions of his own free will.
- The Smurfette Principle: While the original cast was entirely male, female characters Blackarachnia and Airazor were introduced in the first season. However, with Airazor getting beamed into space by some freaky alien plants midway through the second season, Blackarachnia remains the only female in half of the second and the entire third season. However, Airazor does return as Tigerhawk, a fusion of both her body and Tigatron's, but the character is presented as male.
- Left the Background Music On: In the third-season episode "Changing of the Guard", when the previously reluctant Rattrap is beginning to enjoy his submarine ride, cheery, upbeat music (a rarity for this series in general) begins playing. Cut to Silverbolt, listening to the music over his communicator with a puzzled expression.
- Squashed Flat: Happens to several characters. The writers really liked dropping heavy things on the poor bots.
- Stable Time Loop: Megatron's attempts to wipe out early humans to rob the G1 Autobots of their closest allies ends up indirectly causing the invention of the club, furthering humanity's evolution. Thus they ultimately evolve to become modern humanity and help the Autobots win the war, which leads to the Autobots and Decepticons becoming the Maximals and Predacons. This all leads to an embittered Megatron arranging the whole trip to prehistoric Earth in order to wipe out early humans and/or kill Optimus Prime so that the Decepticons win the war. In other words, Megatron created his own mission.
- Story Arc: Less obvious in the first season, but becomes prominent in the other two with the Vok and Golden Disc issues.
- Stuff Blowing Up:
- The show has a lot of explosions. At least one of the Transformers will be blown up in every episode.
- Not counting Waspinator, who gets blown to bits in nearly every episode regardless.
- Symbolic Blood: Hydraulic fluid and bits of metal go flying everywhere.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Early on, the Maximals are as prone to internal squabbles as any crew of 'Cons, and these are only exaggerated by the addition of a Predacon defector to the team. They eventually overcame this, but still have a few hiccups now and again.
- That's No Moon!: The "second" moon at the end of season 1. Said revelation results in Earth All Along.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Megatron's speech at the end of the second season after he attempts to kill the original Optimus Prime appears to be addressed to the viewers as much as it is to the Maximals.
- The Renaissance Age of Animation
- Unusual Euphemism: Several, considering that the main cast are robots, not humans. Common examples are Rattrap's "Oh, for bootin' up cold!" and the general-purpose expletive "Slag!"
- Weaponized Landmark: The Standing Stones are actually a communicator beacon/containment grid for the Vok. Also, the second moon.
- Where's the Fun in That?: In the episode "Beast Wars: Part 1":Dinobot: Their defence shields are down! Destroy them!
Megatron: Now where's the fun in that?
- With Us or Against Us: "Law of the Jungle": after Tigatron's departure from the Beast Wars (until the Preds make him return to the Maximal side), there is a short dialogue between him and Dinobot:Dinobot: That is the law of the jungle. The hunters and the hunted. Scrap or be scrapped.
Tigatron: Animals hunt to survive!noteDinobot: And what do you think war is about?! Maximals may believe in peace, but Predacons...you do not really know the Predacons. We...they live for the glory of conquest. If Megatron takes the energon wealth of this world unopposed, he will begin a war that will destroy Cybertron and shatter galaxies, until only one side survives. It has been this way for millions of stellar cycles, ever since the Autobots and Decepticons began the Great War.Tigatron: Peace will never come until someone agrees NOT to fight!
Dinobot: The Predacons will not allow it! They'll destroy or reprogram you.
Tigatron: They won't find me...
Dinobot: I found you...
Dinobot jumps to Tigatron with his claws.
Tigatron: What are you doing?!?!
Dinobot: If you are not with us, you are against us!
- World of Ham: Yeeesss.... Between Megatron, Inferno, and all the characters voiced by Scott McNeil, there is surprisingly still plenty of scenery left for all the other characters to chew.
- Verbal Tic: Megatron's constant habit of tacking "Yeeesss" onto his sentences. Likewise, he also says "No" quite frequently.
- Vitriolic Best Buds/Volleying Insults: Rattrap and Dinobot.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Subverted. After getting a disk that shows a history of Earth from the perspective of the future, Dinobot is torn on what to do with it. If experimenting with the disk proves that this trope is in effect, he will have no choice but to kill himself in the face of realizing he is not "the master of (his) fate" and there is no such thing as free will. Later, he witnesses Megatron testing the disk: He blows up a mountain whose image is recorded on the disk, and the image on the disk changes accordingly, proving that fate can be fought and one's actions and choices are not predetermined or set in stone. In this moment, Dinobot at last knows that he is the master of his own fate...though as Megatron intends to abuse this discovery to change history for the worse, Dinobot's sense of honor means there is only one course of action left to him.
- Your Size May Vary: Unlike most Transformers shows, the approximate size of the characters remains consistent.
- You Shall Not Pass: Tigerhawk pulls one of these when he faces off against the Decepticon war ship Nemesis.