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Western Animation: The Transformers

"Many millions of years ago, on the planet Cybertron, life existed, but not life as we know it today. Intelligent robots that could think and feel inhabited the cities. They were called Autobots and Decepticons. But the brutal Decepticons were driven by a single goal: total domination. They set out to destroy the peace-loving Autobots, and a war between the forces of good and evil raged across Cybertron."
Narration from the first episode.

With their home world depleted of energy due to the war, the Autobots leave on their ship to find a new planet with energy sources. The Decepticons follow in a ship of their own. The ensuing battle led to them crashing on Earth. Millions of years later (in 1984), both factions wake up, resuming their war on our world.

The Transformers was the first Transformers cartoon, part of the Transformers Generation 1 franchise. It premiered in 1984. The writing and distribution of the series was handled by both Marvel Productions and Sunbow Entertainment. Animation was done by Toei Animation and a few other (uncredited) studios, including AKOM (in their first project), some Philippines-based studio and several feeder studiosnote . AKOM's animation was generally worse than Toei's.

The show ran for three whole seasons, plus season 4, which was just a three-part episode, "The Rebirth". The Japanese version branched off into a different continuity right after the end of the third season, replacing "The Rebirth" with Transformers Headmasters.

The continuity of this series provided the basis for Transformers: Wings of Honor.

This series provides examples of:

  • Action-Hogging Opening: All of them, but the second season's stands out the most.
  • Action Girl: Arcee in the movie onwards. Also Elita One, though she's the leader of her own Amazon Brigade.
  • Actual Pacifist: Cerebros, to the point where after the Final Battle of the fourth season, he asks to be shut down so he doesn't have to fight any more. Fortunately, since it was the Final Battle, he doesn't have to fight anyway.
  • Ad Bumpers
  • Adaptation Dye-Job
    • Infamously, this version of Transformers Generation 1 made Rumble blue and Frenzy red, instead of the other way around, in contrast to their toy and comic book appearances. The Japanese dub got around this by calling the red one Rumble and the blue one Frenzy.
    • In general, the Autobots were given blue eyes and the Decepticons red eyes, regardless of what their toys had. For example, the Dinobots had blue eyes in this series instead of the red found on their toys, and Soundwave's toy's yellow eyes were switched to red.
    • The Sweeps' beards are white or grey in the box art and toys, but vary between blue, grey, and black in the series.
  • Alien Lunch: In "Starscream's Ghost", Octane has gotten a job transporting junk for the Junkions. Galvatron sends a Scuxxoid to plant a bomb on the transport ship, and it explodes. The destruction of the ship doesn't kill Octane, however, and he's rescued by an alien vessel. The passengers are eating something that has visible steam wafting to Octane's nose, and he clearly doesn't like the smell at all.
    Octane: Sheesh, what have you been eating?
    Alien (speaks alien language and offers some nasty-looking chunky purple food in a bowl)
    Octane: Oh, gee, thanks, n-no, never mind, I just want to be taken to Autobot City, where it's safe!
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: Here is the Japanese opening theme and ending theme. And here is the Japanese opening and ending to the third season.
  • Amazon Brigade: Elita One and the other female Autobots from the Season 2 episode "The Search For Alpha Trion".
  • Ambiguously Brown: Raoul. He suddenly got lighter in his second appearance.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Tracks
  • Anachronic Order: A few of the episodes.
  • Animation Bump: "Call of the Primitives" is the best example. The "More Than Meets The Eye" three-parter, "Atlantis Arise", "Chaos", "Dweller in the Depths", the fight between Metroplex and Trypticon in "The Ultimate Weapon" and "The Return of Optimus Prime" are also better animated than the rest of the series.
    • Despite their constant Off Model moments, AKOM's animation does have an occasional moment of good animation in several scenes of The Five Faces of Darkness five-parter, Thief In the Night, Dark Awakening and The Rebirth series finale. AKOM's episodes also tended to have a higher frame rate than Toei's.
    • The season two opening is also better crafted than the other openings.
  • Another Dimension: Menonia
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: The park ranger at the beginning of "The Insecticon Syndrome": "Giant robotic insects that eat trees?! You gotta be kidding!" Note that he's saying this to Beachcomber.
    • He was probably skeptical that giant robots could eat.
    • And the fact that they're insect robots.
  • Arm Cannon: Megatron's fusion cannon. He also had an arm cannon as Galvatron.
  • Artistic License - Biology: A group of Decepticons from known as the Predacons, actually compose of Razorclaw (a lion), Rampage (a tiger), Divebomb (an eagle), Headstrong (a rhino), and Tantrum (a bull). In real life, the alt-modes of the last two are supposed to be herbivores - very vicious herbivores, but herbivores just the same.
  • A-Team Firing: Many episodes featured large-scale gun battles between the Autobots and Decepticons... not that they managed to hit much of anything, mind you. Some of these battles would even show both sides standing right out in the open and not even attempting to dodge incoming laser fire.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking
  • Back from the Dead: Optimus Prime, twice. Starscream regained his body after spending some time as a ghost.
  • Badass Family: Spike, Carly and Daniel.
  • Badass Normal: Lord Chumley from "Prime Target" is 100 percent British stereotype but also such a bad ass that he captures a Soviet jet with a submarine and makes mechas and traps to capture several Autobots with the goal of getting Optimus Prime.
  • Bait and Switch: The conclusion of "More Than Meets the Eye" makes it seem like Optimus Prime is going to be the one to face the Decepticons on his own and save the day. He isn't. Instead it's actually Mirage who accomplishes this.
  • Beard of Evil: Scourge and the Sweeps.
  • Big Bad: Megatron (who later becomes Galvatron)
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Astrotrain and Blitzwing in "Triple Takeover". Blitzwing actually fared the better of the two, until Megatron returned and reasserted himself.
    • Arguably Galvatron and Zarak in season 4.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Season 3, the Autobots have to deal with both the Decepticons and the Quintessons.
  • Big Good: Optimus Prime.
    • Later parts of the series had the role pass to Rodimus Prime and Fortress Maximus.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Starscream's fate in the season 3 episode "Ghost In The Machine".
  • Butt Monkey: Skyfire, an 'old friend' of Starscream's who is revived and used by the Decepticons, and then seems to heroically sacrifice himself to save the Autobots. Only a sequel episode shows that he didn't actually die, but was buried in some ice to the extent where it took the Autobots seconds to dig him back up, they just didn't bother until they needed him to fly somewhere. In that episode, he befriends Thundercracker for all of about thirty seconds, until the Decepticons shoot him. He's then routinely ignored by the other Autobots unless they need carting around the world, and forgotten about entirely when the Aerialbots arrive towards the end of the second series. Some of this was likely due to legal issues - see here for what information there is about this.
  • Came Back Wrong: Optimus Prime, in "Dark Awakening".
  • Canon Discontinuity: Unicron's origin as presented in the cartoon, being built by an alien scientist, was completely ignored in subsequent Transformers fiction.
  • Caps Lock, Num Lock, Missiles Lock: In the episode "B.O.T.", the Decepticons built a cannon designed to knock the moon out of orbit... yet it features an "OVER LOAD" button on a human-height control panel.
  • Captain Crash: While not remarked upon in show, Cosmos is rarely in an episode without crashing into something. One of the few times he got through an episode without it, it seems like Optimus is Tempting Fate by sending him out into space a third time in a day.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Megatron had a rather grating tendency to laugh and say how evil he was, or how evil his plan was, just so that the kids knew who to root for.
  • Category Traitor: In "Megatron's Master Plan, Part 1", Spike, Sparkplug, and Chip left the city with the Autobots after they've been publicly framed. One woman called them "traitors" and a guy throwing tomatoes shouted "lousy Autobot lovers".
  • Cartoon Crossover: The episode "Only Human" featured a character called "Old Snake", who's clearly the Cobra Commander.note  Also, Marissa's father seems to be Flint, also from G.I. Joe.
    • Word of God has confirmed Marissa's parentage (Flint and Lady Jaye)
    • Jazz and Blaster like to listen to Cold Slither!
    • "This is Hector Ramirez, reporting live from multiple continuities..." note 
  • Catapult Nightmare: Daniel in season 3's "The Nightmare Planet".
  • Cast from Hit Points: Elita One's special power.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Many of the Transformers that didn't die in the movie.
    • Especially Sparkplug and Chip after season 2.
  • Chummy Commies: The Soviets may look and act kinda funny, but are allied to the Autobots like most Earth governments. Though in "Prime Target", the Soviets accuse the United States of stealing their experimental plane, and almost went to war until the Autobots return it with the real culprit Lord Chumley.
  • City of Adventure: Central City. "Megatron's Master Plan" establishes that its very close to Autobot Headquarters and has legal jurisdiction over it. Though the cartoon was never really big on World Building or continuity, it follows that just about any time the Autobots go "into town" or worry about events in "the city", this is the city they're referring to. It's not an airtight case, but how many major cities can there be within easy driving distance of an active volcano?
  • Colony Drop: Galvatron attempted to crash Cybertron into Earth during "The Rebirth".
  • Combining Mecha: The various gestalt teams, starting with the Constructicons and continuing with the Stunticons, Aerialbots, Protectobots, Combaticons, Predacons, Terrorcons, and Technobots.
    • Reflector was an uncommon variation: three little robots combined into a camera for their alternate mode.
  • Continuity Snarl: It's a good thing Megatron decided to build the Constructions in some caves on Earth ("Heavy Metal War", Season 1)... Especially after they built him on Cybertron 4 million years ago ("Five Faces of Darkness, Part 3", Season 3)... and then he brainwashed them into becoming Decepticons who tried to brainwash Omega Supreme ("The Secret of Omega Supreme", Season 2)... Wait, what?
  • Conveniently Close Planet: In the very first episode, as the Autobots and Decepticons battle, the spaceship plunges inexplicably down to earth without going through any hyperdrive or seemly traveling far at all (unless it happened between the Decepticon's launch and the asteroid collision). Then again, also taking the Marvel comics into account, Cybertron is a wandering planet.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Shawn Berger from "Megatron's Master Plan".
  • The Dragon: Starscream, then Cyclonus.
  • Do-Anything Robot: Ironhide
  • Dub Name Change: The Japanese version switched Frenzy and Rumble's names around in order to correct the animation error that reversed their colours. This meant that Frenzy, a previously expendable character, became a major character. On the other hand, it meant that Rumble became scarce.
    • Also, Optimus Prime was Convoy, Jazz was Meister, Sideswipe was Lambor, Mirage was Ligier, Shockwave was Laserwave, Devastator was Devastar, Metroplex was Metroflex, Blaster was named Billy
  • Demoted to Extra: The show introduced Loads and Loads of Characters, one set after another, to sell toys, and some had more staying power than others. Many characters' roles went by this formula: 1: Show up one day without comment. 2: Have one really good episode of focus later. 3: Be occasionally seen in the background or fights. 4: Disappear mysteriously.
    • As an example, Jazz, who was a major character in the first two seasons of G1, had a supporting role in the movie, but when Scatman Crothers died shortly afterwards, Jazz's later appearances were non-speaking cameos.
  • Deus ex Machina: At the end of the episode "A Prime Problem", Megatron throws Spike out of his rocket, but then Powerglide shows up out of nowhere and saves him. It could be assumed that he was there all along and simply hadn't appeared on screen, except for the fact that before this episode, all but two of the Autobots had had land-based altmodes.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In "Dark Awakening", the Autobots find Optimus Prime's tomb empty.
  • Dumb Muscle: Generally, the combined forms of multiple Transformers aren't very intelligent, with the exception of Computron, who while very intelligent, is nevertheless still a rather slow thinker. Predaking also seems fairly smart for a combiner, at least in "The Quintesson Journal", where he even patrols in his combined form, and really only splits up when he needs to travel quickly on a planet's surface.
    • The Dinobots, in spades.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In the Three-Part Pilot "More Than Meets The Eye" the Autobots have consistently being shown to be capable of independent flight without the use of jetpacks, something that will not happen again until Skyfire and The Aerialbots come into the story much later on.
    • Actually, Wheeljack flew in A Plague of Insecticons, which was towards the end of Season One.
    • What really makes this a headscratcher is the fact that the flight ability disappeared without explanation in the middle of the 3-parter. In the first two episodes, the Autobots are able to fly without problem. Than the third part rolls around and suddenly Optimus Prime needs to use said jetpack to chase after the Decepticons' spaceship.
    • "Sparks", as they're known in other continuities are called "lasercores" in this version.
    • As for personalities Prime started off quite a bit less gentle and more impatient. Instead of calming telling the Autobots he's fine after being saved from a roaring river he shrugs them off impatiently and gets annoyed.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The Quintessons blow up their own planet to destroy the Autobot Matrix (they fail). Later, Rodimus Prime has the planet Paradron detonated to prevent its massive energon store from falling into Decepticon hands.
  • Easily Condemned: "Megatron's Master Plan" had Megatron convincing Earth, with trivial ease, that the Autobots had really been the villains the whole time. This is after around thirty episodes of the Decepticons not hiding their actions or intentions and the Autobots helping whoever asked.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Tornedron. Unicron is much less of one in this cartoon compared to subsequent stories.
    • Also Chaos, Torkulon, and to a lesser extent, the Dweller in the Depths.
  • Enhanced on DVD: In an extremely bizarre case of receiving this treatment not once, but twice! However, they weren't really "enhanced", so to speak:
    • The first time this happened (by Rhino Entertainment at the turn of the millennium), the picture was clearer, but this was because early, pre-televised masters were used. There was also a considerable amount of animation errors that were not present when the series first aired. It also incorporated unfitting sound effects that were also never in the original release. The fans were not pleased. Moreover, the DVD authoring house that Rhino hired untruthfully claimed that those added sound effects were always there.
    • When Shout! Factory started releasing their own version of the series, they (wisely) planned to use the televised masters. Unfortunately, the picture quality hadn't aged well on them, which meant severe fading at points which meant they had to use Rhino's version. Fortunately, they made various corrections so that it would look as close to the original televised version as possible. They even replaced a disc on the first set that had an error they had missed. Additionally, in two episodes ("Countdown to Extinction" and "Heavy Metal War"), the sound effects track was considerably lower in volume than either the vocal or music tracks.
  • Everything's Better With Dinobots!
  • Evil Laugh: The sheer creepiness of Megatron's Evil Laugh in the original animated series is in and of itself Nightmare Fuel.
    • Believe it or not, Soundwave laughed in the episodes "Auto-Bop" and "Quest for Survival". It's fricking nightmarish.
  • Evil Overlord: Zarak
  • Evil Poacher: Lord Chumley in "Prime Target".
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Inverted with Starscream and Welker's Galvatron; played straight with Megatron, Cyclonus, and Unicron.
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: "The Microbots", where Perceptor, Brawn and Bumblebee have to be miniaturized to enter Megatron's body and remove a major power source he just added to himself.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: "Dinobot Island, Part 2" has it all - barbarians, mammoths, dinosaurs, pirates, motorcycle gangs, cowboys, and scantily clad bikini chicks, in addition to giant space robots. "A Decepticon Raider in King Arthur's Court" with the medieval time period and the dragon. Both justified in that time travel was involved.
  • Fiction500: Shawn Berger in "Megatron's Master Plan".
  • Five-Episode Pilot
  • Flanderization: Grimlock and his Dinobots went from being strong, but unintelligent wild cards in the first two seasons to comic relief in the movie and onward.
    • In The Movie, at least, the Dinobots were still pretty Badass, though they were suddenly happy to take orders from Optimus Prime and work with the other Autobots. In the third season their badassness evaporated entirely, and went from being Dumb Muscle to outright idiots.
    • Fortunately their final appearance in "Call of the Primitives" returned them to their brutish and freakishly-powerful standing.
  • Fix Fic: There's ignoring the movie (and Seasons 3 and 4) completely.
  • Flowers for Algernon Syndrome: Gears in Season 2 ("Changing Gears"); Grimlock in Season 3 ("Grimlock's New Brain")
  • Forbidden Chekhov's Gun: Elita One's special power.
  • Foreshadowing: Surprisingly, the show did have some. During season two, the Dinobots voiced their displeasure in having to save the Autobots all the time. The Dinobots would briefly leave the Autobots because of this in the Desertion of the Dinobots two-parter.
  • Freudian Couch: Forcibly done to Galvatron in the episode "Webworld".
  • Galvatron Is About to Shoot You: Galvatron, in the Season 3 Title Sequence. Plus numerous examples in the cartoon itself, all seasons. Mostly by Starscream or Megatron/Galvatron.
  • Grand Finale: "The Rebirth"
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • While the series actually didn't do all that much there was this infamous scene with the Decepticons. Take a wild guess on what Energon gets to be in this case. Energon (or engine oil) tends to sub for food and drink in situations where humans would ingest it, e.g. Hot Rod offering Energon "candy" to the Sharkticons in the movie.
    • Also the episode "Only Human", where Rodimus Prime, Arcee, Ultra Magnus and Springer have their minds placed in synthoid human bodies. Rodimus has (offscreen but implied) sex with a human woman named Michelle, the daughter of the episode's Big Bad Victor Drath.
    • "Starscream's Ghost" has, as TFWiki so eloquently puts it, Octane looking up robo-porn.
  • God Guise: Cosmos crashes on the moon Titan in "The God Gambit", and his unconscious body is worshiped as a god. Astrotrain, the enemy, only encourages it.
  • Genius Loci: Unicron, Torkulon and the city-bots.
  • The Great Politics Mess-Up: The Soviet Union is portrayed as active in the 21st century.
  • Hate Plague: Trope Namer. Unlike the Kid-Appeal Character (formerly The Bumblebee) and The Starscream, this did not show up in the Marvel comics.
  • High Collar of Doom: Scourge and the Sweeps, in their robot modes.
  • Hive Mind: Reflector is basically one mind in three bodies. His bodies usually act more or less in sync, but they are capable of acting independently if necessary.
  • Hulk Speak: The Dinobots.
  • Humongous Mecha: Naturally, but there are even more humongous mechas with Omega Supreme, gestalt combined forms like Devastator, Sky Lynx, Metroplex, Trypticon, Fortress Maximus, Scorponok, and Unicron.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: Scenes often change from one to another by showing an insignia rush away from the screen, spin 180 degrees, and rush back toward the screen. Which insignia showed at first depended on which faction you had been with, and the one on the other side was whichever one you were going to be with now.
  • Immortality:
    • The Ageless: Transformers don't seem to die from old age.
      • Although, they do seem to age. Kup looks older than all of the other Transformers and looks younger in a flashback ("Chaos").
    • Complete Immortality: There was also Starscream's ghost.
  • Improvised Lightning Rod: Inversion: In an episode, the Autobots have to stop a plot by Decepticons but there's a lightning storm going on, and if a bolt hits a Transformer, something very bad happens. So the Transformers go into battle riding on other Transformers who are in their Vehicle modes; the rubber of their tires on the road isolates the Transformers riding on top so they're safe.
  • Ineffectual Death Threats
  • Insignia Ripoff Ritual: Skyfire in Fire In the Sky.
  • Keeping the Enemy Close: This is generally understood as one of the major reasons why Starscream is second-in-command to Megatron despite (or rather, due to) his Chronic Backstabbing Disorder.
  • Kid with the Leash: Aron in "Child's Play".
  • La Résistance: The Nebulans fighting against the Hive in "The Rebirth".
  • Last Episode New Character: The final episode of the first season ("Heavy Metal War") introduced the Constructicons. "The Rebirth" introduced dozens of new characters.
  • Likes Older Women: Spike at the start of the series is around fifteen when the series started. Carly at most is eighteen years old (she's in college at the time). His father Sparkplug actually encourages him to pursue her. And They Do in the Time Skip with a kid to boot.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Arkeville.
  • Made of Iron: Aside the usual Transformers, the humans of the series can take more punishment than you think. The Transformers wiki even calls Spike "Superhuman Spike" for all the injuries he could've sustained. Dr. Harding in "Attack of The Autobots" is another example as she manages to survive a 4-story fall from her lab building and survives getting thrown into a wall, which should have turn her into a pancake.
  • Me's a Crowd: The Insecticons had this ability.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms
  • Mental Fusion: This is what the gestalts are. The combined form is not just a mental, but physical joining. However, unless the participants are very compatible with each other, they generally are not good for much other than Dumb Muscle (Predaking and Computron are the only ones who might be aversions, at least as portrayed on the show), since any thoughts the combined form has can only be something all the components agree on.
  • Merchandise-Driven
  • Meta Mecha: Fortress Maximus.
  • Mid Development Genre Shift: In-Universe, where in "Hoist Goes Hollywood", the director was shooting a generic action flick with a car chase. After meeting the Autobots, he decided to turn it into "a great science fiction epic" titled Attack of the Alien Robots.
  • The Millstone: Starscream for the Decepticons. Lampshaded often.
  • Missing Mom: Spike's mom is never mentioned.
  • The Movie: Transformers: The Movie
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In "The Ultimate Doom, Part 1", Megatron forced Optimus Prime to activate the pylon or he'll be responsible for catapulting Cybertron into oblivion. Unwilling to sacrifice his home planet, Optimus activates the space bridge, bringing Cybertron into Earth's orbit, but wonders if he is dooming Earth in the process.
    Optimus: Have I saved Cybertron... only to destroy the Earth?

    Ironhide: You did what you had to do, Prime. What any of us would have done.
  • Nobody Can Die/Never Say "Die": Averted. One episode was even titled "The Killing Jar".
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: In "Megatron's Master Plan," Thrust destroying Teletraan 1 is what cancels the override to Cosmos, allowing him (And Trailbreaker) to help the Autobots escape from being pulled into the sun and back to Earth.
    • Starscream in "More Than Meets the Eye" Part 1, when after the Decepticons exit the Autobot's ship, Starscream shoots at some rocks, and the falling of those rocks knocks Optimus Prime's body into Teletraan One's repair beam.
    • In "War Dawn", Megatron sends the Aerialbots back in time to witness an earlier Megatron and his troops gun down several Autobots, including Orion Pax, Dion and Ariel. The Aerialbots bring Orion back to Alpha Trion and he's rebuilt as Optimus Prime (while Ariel's rebuilt as Elita-1). It also shows Slingshot (who previously admired the Decepticons) just how evil Megatron really was, and the disillusioned Aerialbot swears the Aerialbots won't stop until Megatron's finished.
    • Deceptitran in "Sea Change" sends out a distress signal... but the Autobots get the call as well, and their arrival before Megatron does causes Deceptitran to attack them, and show them what Deceptitran is up to. It also allows Seaspray to enter the Well of Transformation and be somewhat human at first, then a merman like Alana. (And Alana in turn becomes an Autobot for a while for the final attack on Deceptitran.)
    • Blitzwing and Astrotrain's attempt to replace both Megatron and Starstream as potential leaders of the Decepticons in "Triple Takeover" shows Megatron their true colors, and in a battle royale against them, Starscream AND Devastator, leaves Megatron as the last 'Con standing...and now the unquestionable Decepticon leader.
  • Noble Demon: Quite surprisingly, a few Decepticons, the supposed "bad guys of a 1980's children's cartoon" have shown to be capable of honor and even compassion, most notably Skyfire, Blitzwing and Cyclonus.
  • No Endor Holocaust:
    • Though at least one subsequent episode dealt with the Autobots helping clean up after the events of "The Ultimate Doom", there is nowhere near enough damage for what the Earth went through.
    • After the Hate Plague was cured, the entire planet really should have been in shambles, with a bare minimum of tens of millions dead and practically everyone suffering from some kind of physical injury, many serious or permanent.
  • Not So Different: The Aerialbots (except Silverbolt) and Optimus Prime in their admiration of Megatron and the Decepticons. Though they do come around.
  • Not Zilla: In "Kremzeek!", there's a billboard of a Japanese monster movie called Hojoni.
  • The Obi-Wan: Alpha Trion. After merging with Vector Sigma, he becomes a Spirit Advisor.
  • Off Model: While the series was never exactly the pinnacle of quality animation, there were several episodes that had a much lower level of quality control compared to the others. Worst offenders include most of season one, "Enter The Nightbird", "Child's Play", "Kremzeek!", "B.O.T.", "Trans-Europe Express", "Triple Takeover", and all of AKOM's episodesnote .
  • The Original Series: The original television series. The comic book was released a bit earlier.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: In "Masquerade", Starscream noticed the Stunticons (really Autobots in disguise) were driving downhill too carefully.
  • Papa Wolf: Optimus Prime, in the episode Prime Target. Lord Chumley learned the hard way not to mess with Optimus' fellow Autobots.
  • Pokémon Speak: In a rare Older Than They Think example, Kremzeek.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Elita One/Ariel, Arcee. Subverted with the Sweeps' pink claws.
  • Planetville: Cybertron is one big city of a planet, and not that big, either (in the original animated series, anyway).
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The end of "The Golden Lagoon", with Beachcomber mourning the loss of the beautiful valley he stumbled upon.
  • Real Mechs Wear Pink: Scourge and the Sweeps have pink claws. Also, Depending on the Artist, pink toe tips as well.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Mayor in "Megatron's Master Plan, Parts 1 and 2".
  • Remember the New Guy: The show would introduce a new character for the episode, and explanation would ever be given as to why we've never seen this guy before, especially when they are characters who would have saved the day in earlier episodes.
    • The cast all but doubles in season two due to never-before-seen characters who are treated as having been there all along. In fact, one story depends on them having come to Earth at the same time as the others — everyone is affected by "cybertonium" deficiency due to having been away from Cybertron for so long, which rules out anything like only recently arriving on Earth.
  • Rhymes on a Dime:
  • Robot War: The Transformers' backstory is a Perspective Flip on this trope, and the creators and former masters are recurring villains.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The show had a lot of these.
    • For 4 million years, the Ark held the Decepticons and Autobots in stasis, under a volcano... until volcanic activity shook things up and woke up the evil Decepticons.
    • In "Cosmic Rust", there's a dead planet with radio beacons warning travelers to stay away or die horribly. The Decepticons plunder it, and in the process, catch the metal-eating plague called Cosmic Rust.
    • In "Return of Optimus Prime", the Hate Plague spores were sealed inside a star after their last outbreak. Unfortunately, the star went nova.
    • Starscream himself could be considered Sealed Evil in a Can in the episode "Starscream's Ghost"; his ghost first appears after Octane tumbles into the Decepticon crypt and knocks over the ruins of Starscream's grave marker.
  • Shirtless Scene: Spike Witwicky in "Atlantis, Arise!"; Seaspray in his male Tlalakan form in "Sea Change" (the male Tlalakans are a Walking Shirtless Scene).
  • Shout-Out: several. Many involving Wreck-Gar's quoting of pop culture phrases.
    • Soundwave's voice seems to be an homage to the Cylon voices used in the original Battlestar Galactica. It may also be an homage to the robot enemies in the video game Berzerk.
  • Snow Means Cold: In "Fire In the Sky", the Autobots become aware that the Decepticons are cooling the Earth when it begins snowing in July at the Ark.
  • Spirit Advisor: The personae of all previous Autobot leaders dwell within the Matrix and occasionally surface to lend Rodimus and/or Optimus advice as the plot requires. Alpha Trion also becomes like this after he joins with Vector Sigma.
  • Stable Time Loop: A complex one involving Alpha Trion and the Aerialbots.
  • Status Quo Is God: Generally, a single or multi-part episode would generally end with the Autobots victorious yet not really getting close to permanently defeating the Decepticons.
    • Or really, any time Starscream really got Megatron mad ("More than Meets the Eye" (particularly part 3), "Countdown to Extinction", "The Revenge of Bruticus", "Auto Berserk", "Enter the Nightbird", "'Triple Takeover"), he came back in the very next episode as if nothing had happened.
  • Stock Footage: "The Ultimate Doom, Part 3" reused some scenes from Part 1.
  • Strictly Formula: This is mostly only true of the early episodes.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Justified with Laserbeak, Ravage, Ratbat or any of the other cassettes of Soundwave for the Decepticons, and via Teletraan One's Sky Spy for the Autobots. In "Prime Target", Lord Chumley has a million hidden cameras everywhere, with no apparent justification.
  • Terrible Trio: Starscream, Skywarp, and Thundercracker. Later on, Thrust, Ramjet, and Dirge.
    • Also the Insecticons, Shrapnel, Bombshell and Kickback.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted, believe it or not; in "Webworld", the other Decepticons insist that Galvatron get psychiatric help after one too many insane rampages. It... doesn't go very well.
  • Tickertape Parade: The Autobots and Decepticons both get one in "Megatron's Master Plan".
  • Time Abyss: Transformers generally can live up to millions of years. Case point, Kup, an "old veteran" type character. His age is a bit indeterminate, but a rough guess would put him somewhere well in the range of 9 to 12 million years old. To put it in comparison, humanity as a species is only 2.3-2.4 million years old (200 thousand years old, if one defines "human" as "homo genus primates anatomically identical to modern humans").
    • Alpha Trion is more ancient than most Transformers, and has even been retconned into being on the Original 13. This makes him literally older than The Earth, at over 5 billion years old.
      • And the entity known only as "It" is even older.
  • Title Drop
  • Toyless Toyline Character
  • Transforming Mecha
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The backstory of the Transformers and the Quintessons
  • TV Genius: Grimlock became one during the episode "Grimlock's New Brain".
  • Twenty Minutes into the Future: The Movie was set in 2005. Season 3 was set in the year after.
    • The Japanese version of season 3, called "Transformers 2010" takes place in, you guessed it, 2010.
  • Undying Loyalty: Cyclonus towards Galvatron. Unlike other Decepticon second-in-commands.
    • He has competition with Soundwave and Shockwave.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In "The Burden Hardest to Bear", the Autobots repel Decepticon attacks against Japan. When it's over, government officials blame the Autobots for the Decepticon presence, the damage and scaring people away.
  • Verbal Tic: Shrapnel has unique way of speaking-speaking.
    • So does - BLAM! BOOM! - Warpath.
  • Villain Episode: "Triple Takeover" and "Webworld".
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: After Megatron is rebuilt into Galvatron, he goes completely insane, though that isn't entirely due to his new body. Spending a year face-down in a pool of lava will do that to your sanity.
  • Working for a Body Upgrade: A mutual example in "Ghost in the Machine", when Starscream's ghost and Unicron's head each work to restore the other's body.
  • Worthy Opponent: Megatron and Optimus Prime know and respect each others' martial ability far too well to simply hate each other.
    • Carried over in "The Return of Optimus Prime, Part 2", after Optimus has saved the galaxy from the Hate Plague. Galvatron is on the scene and won't hear of further battles afterwards.
      "There will be no war today, Optimus Prime. You have earned Galvatron's respect."
    • Both Ultra Magnus and Cyclonus respect each other as fellow warriors. Cyclonus actually saves Ultra Magnus from the ignonimious end of being pulled into a black-hole in "The Killing Jar" because "Warriors such as you and I should meet their end in battle."
  • Wrap It Up: Declining toy sales meant the fourth season was cut to a Mini Series ("The Rebirth"), and then cut again from five episodes to three.
  • Your Size May Vary: Somehow, the Seekers (who turn into F-15 fighter jets) are no bigger than Optimus Prime (who turns into a flat-nosed semi-truck) while in robot mode. Unlike Megatron and Soundwave, the Seekers aren't explicitly portrayed with the ability to change size.

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alternative title(s): Transformers Generation One
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