"My name is Optimus Prime, and I send this message: Though we did not choose to be of Earth, it would seem that we are here to stay. If you approach this planet with hostile intent, know this: We will defend ourselves. We will defend humanity. We will defend - our home."
Transformers Prime is a TV series in the Transformers franchise. Transformers Prime is the story of a skeleton crew of Autobots left to defend Earth in case the Decepticons return. Which, of course, they do.Accidentally caught up in the action are three humans: Jack, Rafael and Miko, who befriend the Autobots. They act mostly as Naive Newcomers as they watch the robots battle it out, though they do prove useful in their own way due to the limited number of Autobots.The show is animated in CGI but carries a bit of a 2-D flair. Here is the opening sequence for the series. The overall look and tone of the show follows closely with the live-action films (with Optimus, Bumblebee and Megatron having similar designs) while it continues to take inspiration from many other Transformers incarnations, and it has inspired a new MMO game, Transformers Universe. The show has accumulated not only good ratings, but has become one of the most highly-praised incarnations of the franchise for its high production standards in both writing and animation.Prime is a part of a greater continuity called the Transformers Aligned Universe devised by Hasbro to link up with other Transformers fiction such as Transformers War For Cybertron. Because it is being worked on by different creative organizations there are some irregularities between them, but the general stories are meant to work together.Now with a recap page.
This series provides examples of:
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10-Minute Retirement: C'mon, did you really think Jack would stay away after leaving at the end of only the fourth episode?
Ratchet has one as part of his Heroic BSOD in "Scattered."
Miko gets points for trying, though her lack of survival instincts and general common sense frequently puts herself (and often others) in danger. However, as of "Hurt", she becomes the second human in the series to have killed a Decepticon. Granted it was with ship-mounted ranged weaponry, but it still counts. Then there's "Chain of Command", where she gets to try the Apex Armor.
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.
Adaptational Badass: Taking a cue from the live-action films, Bumblebee and Starscream are quite competent soldiers. 'Bee isn't quite the bruiser that his movie counterpart is, but he charges headlong into a fight and holds his own just as well. Starscream is also scary in both his competence and appearance; they made him a sadist who is unafraid of killing prisoners for talking back at him and willing to make cheap shots to gain the advantage in a fight.
Wheeljack in Generation One was a mad scientist, inventing many wacky devices that, more than often, ended up exploding. In this show, he is a dual-sword-wielding ex-Wrecker who is willing to go up against a 'Con army and boast about his odds. Unlike his G1 counterpart, this Wheeljack invents things on the fly (Yes, he's MacGyver) and for being an explosives expert.
Breakdown, considering most of his previous incarnations are critically paranoid nutcases. Here, he's a tough bruiser who's the rival to Bulkhead.
In the War For Cybertron game, which is part of the same continuity, he used to be a critically paranoid nutcase (though still useful in battle) in this universe as well, so with him, it's also a case of Took a Level in Badass.
Adoring The Pests: In the episode "Scrapheap", Raf finds a small, adorable robotic creature the size of a kitten, called a scraplet, and assumes it is the Autobots' pet. It turns out scraplets eat metal, especially living metal, like, say, the Autobots.
Adult Fear: June Darby worries about Jack riding and racing Arcee because she works in an emergency room. Naturally, she's also not at all pleased after realizing that children are near the front lines of five robots' war against the Decepticons. Her fear comes true at the end of the Season 2 finale, as she has no way of knowing where the kids are.
While Skyquake was done in by his own refusal to let bygones be bygones, Optimus muttering how he didn't want to have him killed is rather sad. He's also now condemned to spend eternity in the Shadowzone dimension as a mindless zombie unless somebody comes to put him out of his misery, which right now is pretty unlikely.
Breakdown dies an incredibly disturbing death at the hands of Airachnid. With how sympathetic the character is, it's very uncomfortable. To add insult to injury, his corpse ends up being merged with Silas (not to mention defiled) to prolong the latter's life.
The MECH grunts who C.Y.L.A.S kills, given how this was just after they saved their leader.
Dreadwing has an emotional breakdown when he realises that Skyquake is now a wandering zombie, and that Megatron won't be punishing Starscream for it. He decides to give Optimus the Forge of Solus Prime, then essentially sets out on a suicide mission to kill Starscream, and is shot through the chest once, dying quickly afterwards.
Alien Autopsy: What MECH does when they capture a Cybertronian. They work pretty fast and usually do their autopsy in the field. They don't really care if it's an Autobot, a Decepticon, or a rogue Cybertronian; dead or alive, just as long as they have one to study.
On the other side, this is what Knock Out ends up doing to Silas at the end of "The Human Factor". Oh, the irony.
Debatable with Unicron. While he originates from Cybertron and is, undoubtedly, the Chaos Bringer, his status as an "alien" comes into question when, in "One Shall Rise, Part 1", he's revealed to be the core of the Earth.
Optimus Prime's realization of Mech's intentions inverts this (technically, for him, we are the aliens). He explicitly compares MECH to the Decepticons.
Aliens Speaking English: Justified by the fact that the Cybertronians have been on Earth some time prior to the start of the series, they have accessed the wireless networks around the world, and learned several languages but only speak English as it appears universal.
Played straighter at the end of "Darkest Hour", when the Decepticons launch a full-scale attack on the base, culminating with the Nemesis completely obliterating the mountain, after which Starscream and Megatron land in the wreckage and gloat over the Autobots' defeat.
The Decepticons don't get much time to gloat, though: their new fortress, Darkmount, is captured and destroyed at the end of "Rebellion."
A Million is a Statistic: What makes Optimus decide that enough is enough and Megatron needs to die? Was it starting the war that destroyed Cybertron? Was it the development of bioweapons? Was it spreading the war to other planets? No. It was almost killing Raf.
Anachronic Order: Four episodes back to back in the second season ("Tunnel Vision," "Triage," "Triangulation" and "Toxicity") all occur simultaneously, unified by a race to gather four different Iacon artifacts by four different groups of characters. Each episode largely stands alone but drops hints towards what is happening with the other characters. "Toxicity" makes an effort to connect the episodes together and bring the Story Arc to a close.
...And That Little Girl Was Me: In "Operation Bumblebee, Part 1", Ratchet tells Raf how the field medic who saved Bumblebee after Megatron had tortured him wasn't able to fix Bumblebee's voice box. He was speaking about his own inability to completely fix Bumblebee since he was that field medic. Raf says that its a good thing the medic was able to save Bumblebee.
Ratchet: Yes, well... the medic could have done better.
And This Is for...: When Arcee first battles the Vehicons, she begins pummeling one of them whilst exclaiming; "This! Is! For! Cliff!"
When Smokescreen uses some Reverse Psychology to get Bulkhead, still recovering from Tox-En exposure, angry, up, and walking, Ratchet's reaction is to sputter incoherently before turning and stalking off.
Animation Bump: Comparing individual episodes, it's obvious that they were truly fine-tuning the animation while season 1 marched on. This is especially obvious in the season one finale, where the mouth animations - best described as "adequate" before - become much more accurate.
It's particularly evident in "Partners", but the lighting and the detail on the individual characters (dings, scrapes, paint scratches, etc.) has only improved as the series progressed.
Unicron, who is the Earth itself, endangers all life on Earth by performing a Class-X, then intends to cause a Class-Z.
Arch-Enemy: Optimus and Megatron. Arcee and Airachnid. Bulkhead and Breakdown.
Archaeological Arms Race: The second season has the Autobots and Decepticons battling each other to retrieve the Iacon Relics.
Arm Cannon: The weapon of choice for the majority of Autobots and Decepticons seen so far.
Armor of Invincibility: The Apex Armor, which is shot with lasers, hacked at with swords, and blasted with bombs without so much as a dent.
Art Evolution: War For Cybertron was, more or less, a blending of the design aesthetics of the original G1 series with the live-action films, leaning slightly more towards the former (blocky proportions with a lot of moving parts). The design for this series has been described, more or less, as being a more evenly balanced mix of the style of Transformers Animated with the films, leaning a little more towards the latter (complex looking designs with sleek proportions).
Several episodes in, people were already commenting on the show improving in art style from the first episode, particularly the look of the environments.
In "Orion Pax, Part 1," the interior of the fast food takeout stand Jack works in now looks fully functional, unlike in the first episode where it looked unusually empty.
Generally in the first season the vast majority of action scenes took place in desert canyons, arctic canyons or underground caves, with a scattering of scenes in the Nemesis hallways or in open forests. It was probably due to cost and a tight timetable. The second season immediately started adding new locales like open prairies, mountain roads, cliff faces, shipping yards and Cybertron itself.
Art Shift: Any time a character tells a brief story about some event in Cybertron's past, the accompanying visuals look like a Limited Animation of a comic book. It started when Optimus told the story of the Transformers and the war to the human kids in the first episode, but also used when describing the war between Primus and Unicron and the Thirteen Original Primes, explaining Optimus and Megatron's history before the war started, when describing how Bumblebee lost his voicebox, Bulkhead ominously talking about the danger of Tox-En and when showing Smokescreen's backstory.
Likewise, when Optimus describes what would happen to Earth should Megatron bring an undead army to it, various elements of the scene are non-CGI elements such as the fire and explosions.
Badass Bookworm: Ratchet and Smokescreen for the Autobots, Soundwave and Shockwave for the Decepticons.
Badass Bystander: The human kids can't really get involved with the heavy metal action, but the show has gone out of its way to show moments where they are able to help just by being an extra set of hands.
Badass Normal: Agent William Fowler. He "has some pretty big bearings, for a human," according to Bulkhead. He's willing to argue with the Autobots, dogfights Soundwave's drone in a helicopter rather than be captured without a fight, and continued to mock Starscream while being tortured, never giving up the location of the Autobot base.
His Badassitude is further shown and justified in "Nemesis Prime". Turns out he's a retired Army Ranger.
Apparently, he has also "trained in Covert Ops".
Jack gets into this every now and again. Raf proves to be helpful with his tech savvy. Miko wants to be this, but is too enthusiastic to be of actual help, at least until "Hurt" where she kills Hardshell with a pair of missiles from the Jackhammer, saving Wheeljack's life in the process.
Bad Boss: A common trait among whoever's in charge of the Decepticons, or at least a squadron of Vehicons.
The Bad Guy Wins: "Darkest Hour", full stop. Cybertron remains a wasteland for good; Megatron has constructed a new fortress on Earth, right over Jasper; Team Prime and the kids are scattered to the four winds; June thinks her son is dead; the Autobase is destroyed; the Decepticons have begun an outright invasion of Earth to claim it for their own; and Optimus Prime is mortally wounded and trapped inside the Autobot base because he was destroying the Space Bridge to prevent his team from being followed when it blew up.
Bad Liar: Miko, Raf, and Bulkhead. It's a minor miracle the kids haven't blown their cover with their parents.
Followed up by an epic Call Back in "Orion Pax, Part 3", with the striking and blocking positions reversed. Could also count as a Bookends situation, since it effectively closes a storyline lasting seven episodes.
Bare Your Midriff: Quite a few of the Transformers give the impression of bare middles and abs.
Bash Brothers: Knock Out and Breakdown. Bulkhead and Wheeljack were this back on Cybertron as part of the Wreckers.
Batman Gambit: Ratchet decides that losing one Iacon relic would be worth it if he could use Laserbeak to download the entire archive from the Nemesis so the Autobots could find the rest of the relics before the Decepticons could. He also uses one of Wheeljack's grenades as a decoy Booby Trap in order to throw off the 'Cons from their true plan.
Battle Couple: Miko muses to herself about Bulkhead and Arcee being one in "Metal Attraction", though she later becomes distressed when it appears to be becoming literal.
Battle in the Center of the Mind: Subverted in "Sick Mind". Megatron tries this, but any attacks he throws at Bumblebee are useless. The two are forced to an impasse.
Beware the Quiet Ones: In "One Shall Rise, Part 3", Soundwave utterly wipes the floor with Airachnid for trying to usurp Megatron's position. Knock Out then quotes this trope, nearly word for word. It's implied in the lore that Soundwave is one of the few beings that can stand toe-to-toe with Megatron, being also a gladiator in Kaon with him. The only other Bot so far to be able to do this is none other than Prime himself.
BFS: The Star Saber, the signature weapon one of the original Primes, Prima. While it was normal sized for Prima, those original Cybertronians were explicitly much larger than the average modern Cybertronian. Thus when you see Optimus with it the thing is about as tall as he is. Not to be outdone, Megatron uses the Forge of Solus Prime to create an Evil Knockoff.
Big Bad Ensemble: Different antagonists are focused upon on an episodic or arc-to-arc basis. Megatron and his Decepticon army are the chief bad guys of the series, but other enemies include Silas, Airachnid, Unicron (however briefly), and Starscream.
Bulkhead and the others do it again in the following episode, saving Optimus from Unicron's copies.
A restored Optimus Prime comes to the aid of his comrades against Megatron in "Orion Pax, Part 3".
Smokescreen pulls one when he helps Bulkhead in his fight against Cylas.
Wheeljack couldn't have picked a better time to show up in "Darkest Hour."
An upgraded Optimus Prime singlehandedly turns the tide of battle in "Rebellion" in a truly amazing fashion.
Big Guy Fatality Syndrome: Other than being a Mook, the occupation of being the resident Big Guy or Brute is the most hazardous on the show. All of the Decepticon heavy hitters introduced so far bar Predaking (Skyquake, Breakdown, Hardshell, and Dreadwing) are dead, and Predaking himself has secured Robot Popsicle status in the Antarctic for the time being. Of the two Big Guys on the Autobot team, Cliffjumper is dead and Bulkhead is badly damaged during "Toxicity," and doesn't return to field duty for several episodes.
Big "NO!": Quite a few of them through the series.
Bittersweet Ending: The ending of Season One. The Autobots stop Unicron from awakening and the Earth is saved. However, Optimus loses his memories of the Autobot-Decepticon war, and Megatron uses this to get him onboard the Nemesis and away from Autobot hands.
The endings of both "Triage" and "Toxicity" could be considered this, even if Bulkhead doesn't die.
The conclusion of "Inside Job" leans more towards a Downer Endingsince Starscream returns to the Decepticons with all four Omega Keys. Though there is some solace in the fact that Smokescreen did manage to escape from the Nemesis.
Bizarre Alien Biology: The fact that they're robots who use the term "biology" to refer to their structure and talk about stuff "flowing through their veins" should clue you in that these are neither life nor robots as we know them.
Blatant Lies: Megatron assuring Fowler via radio communication that now that the Autobots have been defeated and the Decepticons have constructed New Kaon/Darkmount, all they really want to do is live in on Earth in peaceful coexistence with humanity, with whom they have no quarrel. Fortunately, Fowler's not an idiot so he doesn't buy it for one second, though it still nets a complement from Starscream.
Blofeld Ploy: Starscream does this in "Deus ex Machina". When Knock Out tries to claim credit for retrieving the Energon Harvester, Starscream aims it in his direction and fires... killing a hapless Vehicon positioned behind them.
Bloodless Carnage: Breakdown's remains are completely devoid of Energon, which stands in odd contrast to the fact that Starscream, Airachnid, and Megatron all bleed copiously from (non-fatal) wounds in the exact same episode. Vehicons and Insecticons don't seem to bleed much, either. Case in point: Megatron ripping Airachnid's Insecticon's forelegs off before decapitating it, with nary a drop of Energon to be seen.
Starscream didn't leak much Energon either when he lost his arm in "Shadowzone", while he bled copiously from less serious wounds in "Orion Pax, Part 2" and "Crossfire."
Blood Sport: Ratchet considers monster truck rallies to be this.
Which takes on a slightly darker dimension when we find out that Cybertron had actual gladiators and Megatron used to be one.
A Boy and His X: Threefold. The creators have even admitted that they wanted the humans' relationship with the robots to resemble the close dynamic seen in The Iron Giant.
Break the Cutie: After Bulkhead is nearly killed, Miko finds out revenge is not all it's cracked up to be.
Brick Joke: When Smokescreen dove off of the Decepticon warship, Megatron threw 2 Vehicons after him, one of which turns out to be a car-based Vehicon. Later, after Smokescreen phases through the ground causing several pursuers to crash into it behind him, the unfortunate car-based Vehicon smashes into the ground a moment later.
In an interesting turn of events Hasbro was insistent on keeping the continuity vague on the matter to allow full freedom between the different productions. But during production of Transformers Fall Of Cybertron High Moon Studio has said they were working on bridging the story gap between the two much better.
Broken Faceplate: Inflicted on Soundwave by Wheeljack in "Triage", and yet he ignores it and keep on fighting, even though the Wheeljack just put a crack in his face. It just makes him that much more badass.
Broken Masquerade: The appearance of a massive Decepticon fortress within driving distance of metropolitan area surely qualifies, barring a truly epic coverup. This wouldn't be the first time such a spectacle was dismissed by the human population.
Came Back Wrong: Dark Energon revives the dead, but turns them into mindless berserkers unless something is around to command them, at which point they become his mindless berserkers. ("His," in this case, meaning Megatron's once he jammed a shard of Dark Energon into his slaggin' spark chamber.)
Bulkhead mentions Perceptor's Paradox during his scientific rambling in "T.M.I.".
Wheeljack also mentions fellow Wreckers Seaspray, Roadbuster, Pyro, Impactor and Rotorstorm during "Loose Cannons".
Smokescreen name drops the Constructicons (along with Alpha Trion and Halogen) in his debut episode.
Call Back: When Fowler finds the kids at the Autobot base in "Darkness Rising, Part 3", Jack says they're interning for a science scholarship. When Fowler meets Jack's mom at the end of "Crisscross", Fowler tells her Jack's his intern. (Jack then tells him not to bother; she already knows the truth.)
Ratchet tells Bulkhead that he needed the tool that the latter had just crushed in the premier of Season 1. Bulkhead smashes a similar tool in the Season 2 premiere and asks "What? You needed that?!"
Knock Out gets one mixed with a Dark Reprise when he taunts Silas/Cylas moments before dissecting the latter, especially about Breakdown's missing eye.
Car Fu: Very common, thanks to the characters' need to keep their presence a secret. But it's not restricted to covert battles either - it's clear that part of training to be a Cybertronian warrior is to know how to run your enemy off the road.
Cassandra Truth: In "Crisscross", Jack tells his mother exactly what the deal is with him and his motorcycle. An uncooperative Arcee ensures that she doesn't believe him. Later on in the episode, when said mother is kidnapped by Airachnid and Jack and Arcee come to the rescue, Jack says he can explain everything, before stopping and going, "Wait, I already did."
Agent Fowler has a similar problem when debriefing his superiors after the incident with Nemesis Prime. Until Optimus Prime showed up in person to prove that he was alive and well, Fowler's superior was ready to send him away for psychiatric rehabilitation.
Casual Danger Dialog: Fowler reacts very nonchalantly to being tortured, though it's mostly so he can mock Starscream. In the end, the torture leaves him so drained that he's delirious and saying how much he likes pie.
Fowler often makes a patriotic reference like "You can eat my star spangled shorts!" or "Well, I'll be a bald eagle!" In "Stronger, Faster",
Ratchet: "I needed that!" any time his equipment gets broken.
Miko has "Suh-weet!"
In "Stronger, Faster", under the influence of Synth-En, Ratchet makes a temporary one for himself - "Hooah!" It's hilarious to hear a 'bot who must be the human equivalent of about 60 jump into battle like that.
Knock Out has a habit of telling anyone who damages his paint job "You scratch my [blank], I'll scratch yours." Obviously he doesn't mean this in the nice way.
Cell Phones Are Useless: "Shadowzone" gets a bit schizophrenic with this trope. While stranded in another dimension, the kids try to use Miko's cell phone to call for help, but she left it at the base. Then, Jack realizes he still has his and uses that. The call gets through, but since they're in a freaking alternate dimension, the call is unintelligible. Then the kids realize they can get around this problem with texting. It works. Possibly justified, if the dimensional shift introduces heavy interference, but still lets some of the signal through. Text, which is is much smaller in terms of the amount of data that needs to get transmitted (as well as simpler and easier error-correction), could legitimately get through where voice cannot.
Chekhov's Armoury: "Regeneration" sees the Autobots finally making use of every single one of the Iacon Relics they've collected. And it is epic.
Chekhov's Gag: Bulkhead breaks a piece of Rachet's equipment as a demonstration to Agent Fowler about how the Autobots use precision force, with Ratchet audibly annoyed by him. That same random machine is turned into a chaotic spider-like drone by Dark Energon.
Wheeljack's grenade. Makeshift's disguise as him includes one, which winds up being used to kill him.
The camera on Miko's cell phone comes in handy on multiple occasions.
Played with in "Predatory". Jack mentions his pocket knife and fire starter at the beginning of the episode, setting up two guns. When Jack is being chased by Airachnid, he takes out his knife, says "Who am I kidding?" and keeps running. The fire starter is used to light energon and blow up Airachnid's ship.
The Dark Energon shard Starscream plucked out of Megatron in an attempt to murder him is used by Starscream to empower himself.
The Harbinger. The downed ship becomes Starscream's base of operations in Season 2.
The piece of the Decepticon's ship Bulkhead rips off while protecting Miko turns out to be very important the next episode.
Optimus tries using the Spark Extractor the Autobots captured in "Operation Bumblebee, Part 1" against the Decepticons. He fails.
The photo that Soundwave manages to get of the kids during the five-part pilot makes a return at the end of "The Human Factor."
"Alpha/Omega" is rife with these: The Decepticon Spacebridge, Forge of Solus Prime, Megatron's Dark Energon cache, and the Phase Shifter all make reapperances in quick succession.
Chekhov's Gunman: A nasty example in the form of several deceased characters' corpses. If the body hasn't been utterly destroyed, you'll likely be seeing them again.
Cliffjumper is the first and best example: though he died so early in, the event has long term emotional consequences for the team (particularly Arcee) and his corpse is Megatron's first Dark Energon test subject.
Skyquake is killed off almost immediately, but his death and subsequent resurrection become major plot points with the emergence of Dreadwing.
Breakdown's remains are stolen by MECH and patched back together as a body for the critically injured Silas.
Starscream's last clone is killed at the end of "Armada," gets his T-Cog harvested in "Triangulation," and makes a final reappearance in "Inside Job" when Starscream uses his corpse to distract the Autobots so he can steal the Omega Keys.
Upon viewing Hardshell 's corpse as proof that humans are more dangerous than he initially thought, Megatron begins taking an interest in the Autobots' allies. This would have critical consequences in the Season 2 finale.
Finally subverted with Dreadwing.
Cliffhanger: Several during season 1, especially the last 4 episodes.
And then there is "Triage" and "Toxicity", which uses the same cliffhanger twice, but somehow making it work both times.
The end of "Regeneration": The Autobots have managed to activate the Omega Lock, thus eliminating the whole "political influence" issue, only for Megs and friends to show up toting cylinders with the kids trapped in them. So Optimus is given an ultimatum: hand over the Omega keys, or they expose Jack, Miko, and Raf to Cybertron's poisoned atmosphere.
Clip Show: "Grill," parts of "Toxicity," and "Patch."
Click Hello: Arcee pulls one on Starscream in "Darkness Rising, Part 4" when he threatens to kill Fowler if the Autobots don't back off. Further establishing that this Starscream is awesome, even this doesn't make him back down.
She pulls it off again in "Rock Bottom". He doesn't handle it as well.
Also done by Ratchet (whilst under the effects of synthetic Energon) in "Stronger, Faster", to a Vehicon miner. With a blowtorch.
There was also Starscream who did this to Agent Fowler to get the location of the Autobots' headquarters.
Subverted also with Airachnid who knew that it wouldn't work on Arcee, so instead, she threatened the life of Tailgate. She meant what she said.
Knock Out implied this with Silas, who was resurrected in Breakdown's body. Knock Out is very well aware of the irony, as well as showing no intention of turning off the pain receptors this time around.
Optimus: We must never lose sight of the fact that upon this Earth, we are titans. And such power must be used wisely.
The Comically Serious: Optimus. He has his moments of warmth and friendliness but is never one to joke around with the rest of the team. As a result his unflinching deadpan reaction to the humor of others makes him just as funny.
Jack: Hey, Optimus, wanna see something funny?
In "Grill", Optimus was able to make a simple greeting hilarious. He clears Agent Fowler's insistance to his doubting superior that Optimus is still alive. Optimus promptly shows up right next to the building window.
Prime: "I am fine, General Bryce. How are you?"
Ultra Magnus is the same way, with an added layer of stern disciplinarian to it. A memorable moment in "Project: Predacon" had him ask Optimus some questions about Agent Fowler's odd quips and Optimus's response was to take him aside and say "Agent Fowler can at times be obtuse. I find it best to simply nod and mobilize."
Composite Character: Arcee has more in common in her general demeanor and color scheme with Chromia than the original character. Likely an attempt to avoid the "Girls Wear Pink" cliche (she does have some pink highlights), while Arcee is still the best known female Autobot.
Bulkhead combines the personality and background of Animated Bulkhead with the heavy-hitter position filled by Ironhide in G1.
Wheeljack himself takes the name and appearance of the G1 character (with some of Ironhide's traits as well), while reminding us of Animated Prowl.
Airachnid, being a female purple and black Decepticon with a spidery look, was initially thought to be an Expy of Blackarachnia (from both Transformers Animated and Beast Wars). However, her debut episode showed her to be evil and combining Animated Lockdown's loner mentality, love of hunting, trophy collection with Rampage and Tarantulas' homicidal tendencies, and only the arachnid appearance of Blackarachnia. Her color scheme is also reminiscent of G1's Insecticons.
Inverted with regards to the Magnus Hammer of Transformers Animated; it was suggested the Magnus Hammer was used to create the container for the Allspark. The forging qualities were transferred to the Forge of Solus Prime (also a hammer) while the toy-only character of Ultra Magnus has the Magnus Hammer as simply his Signature Weapon.
Conservation of Ninjutsu: Played with. The Vehicons are fairly tough, it's just that they've got Mook status and our heroes are tougher. When the Autobots fight together, an army of them gets gunned down in droves, but that can be applied to Bash Brothers. A major exception to the trope is Cliffjumper's last battle; it was seven-to-one, but he brought down three, with another two caught in the energon explosion that took him down.
Likewise the first two times we see an Insecticon, they're considered nightmarishly strong and dangerous. The first one encountered on Cybertron has to be outwitted and the second one nearly beats Megatron in a 1v1 fight. A later episode has an army of them being gunned down by the regular bots with relative ease. In the latter case, there was much more room to maneuver (as opposed to the fight with Megatron, wherein both combatants were trapped in an enclosed arena), and the Autobots had full access to their ranged attacks (unlike Megatron, whose powerful fusion cannon was webbed up and inoperable*
however, he did get one shot off, point blank in the face, it only knocked the creature back and made it angrier
) as well as the fact that Insecticons are apparently highly vulnerable to blasterfire while airborne.
As the series progressed, it seems that Insecticons are most dangerous in enclosed spaces because of their raw size and strength making maneuvering difficult. In open areas, smarter fighters are better able to avoid their attacks and strike back.
In "One Shall Rise, Part 1" Unicron's avatar seems to be a reasonable one-on-one match for Optimus. By the beginning of part 2, it's been revealed that they're mooks and Optimus starts trashing them by the truckload.
The prequel graphic novel tie-in to the series has Cliffjumper and Arcee investigating Decepticon activity on Cybertron, with mention that the planet is still effectively a dead world, as it was left at the end of War For Cybertron.
Cybertron's design when shown in the series, is the exact same design used to depict the planet in War For Cybertron (just recoloured a little).
Also, Megatron is using Dark Energon in the series, which he first acquired control of in War For Cybertron. Though his and Starscream's dialogue when it is first shown in the series can give the impression that this is the first time they've seen it up close, this is later Hand Waved the very next episode by Ratchet stating that Dark Energon is such a rare substance that it's virtually non-existant, making it likely what Megatron managed to obtain is the first they've seen in millions of years. Combining that with the idea that the stuff they were using in WFC was a manufactured variant that used ordinary Energon to create it (sure enough, the Decepticons seem to have stopped using it in Transformers Fall Of Cybertron, as severe Energon shortage is a major plot-point), and that seen in the series is the natural raw stuff, and Megatron and Starscream's apparent unfamiliarity with it makes a little more sense. Adding to that, Arcee even mentions that Cliffjumper's zombified remains did resemble Decepticon experiments from during the war.
The bulk of the Decepticon forces in War For Cybertron are formed by nameless Decepticon Troopers that are purple in color and have red visors. In this series, similar troops are used, only they're called Vehicons (which is itself a nod to Beast Machines).
In the story told about the legend of Unicron and Primus, Optimus notes that Primus became one with Cybertron's Core, which as shown in the flashback, is almost identical to how it appeared in War For Cybertron, and was how Optimus acquired the Matrix of Leadership in this continuity.
The history of Optimus and Megatron told in "One Shall Rise, Part 3" is a condensed version of events that happened in Transformers Exodus and War For Cybertron.
Optimus' broken sword remains broken, as seen in the finale of the three-part "Orion Pax" season premiere.
In "Operation Bumblebee, Part 1", Megatron mentions that he was the one who damaged Bumblebee's ability to speak, which happened in Transformers Exodus.
In "Out Of The Past", Cliffjumper mentions The Sea of Rust and being separated from his unit.
In addition, Shockwave has also been reverse-engineering space bridge technology from the ancients in the time since Cybertron went dark. He managed to do this in Fall of Cybertron as well, but his efforts were destroyed during those events and it is even noted in the episode that it has taken him all this time just to finish recreating his work and find enough Energon to power it.
Optimus' message from Earth also says that he believes the Decepticons were planning to plunder Earth for its resources. This is exactly what they were going to do to prehistoric Earth in Fall of Cybertron, but the destruction of Shockwave's Space Bridge tower (along with the loss of Earth's co-ordinates), the fact the two factions' ships fell into an unstable Space Bridge portal, as well as the series and other fiction mentioning they spent eons warring on other planets before they came to Earth, indicates that the Decepticons have been unable to rediscover Earth's location all this time, until they came across Optimus' message.
The same episode also manages to subtly indicate Shockwave's massiveArm Cannon in place of his left arm is permanently fixed into place (such as when he has to use it to hold Arcee down). Fall of Cybertron shows he once did have a proper left arm, but it was bitten off and swallowed by Grimlock in his Tyrannosaurus rex form.
In "New Recruit", Smokescreen mentions the Cybertronian Elite Guard, from where he received his training and also wears their sigil on his shoulder pads. The group has previously featured elsewhere in the Transformers Aligned Universe, the previous Autobot leader, Sentinel Zeta Prime was once a member. Smokescreen was also a guardian and friend of Alpha Trion, who was a mentor to Orion Pax/Optimus Prime and appeared as a character in Exodus (and also made a cameo appearance with the other Thirteen Original Transformers in "One Shall Rise, Part 1"). He also mentions Halogen, a member of the Autobot High Council who appeared in Exodus and approved Alpha Trion's decision to make Orion Pax the next Prime, only to be assassinated by Megatron for it. He also offhandedly refers to the Constructicons, who made appearances in Exodus and were mentioned in Fall of Cybertron.
Convenient Color Change: Putting Dark Energon into himself changed Megatron's eye color, and doing the same to his ship, the Nemesis, made it change from blue power lines and purple screens to purple power lines and red screens. Oh, and also sentient.
Cool Big Sis: Arcee acts as this toward Jack, according to her official bio.
Cool Car: Bumblebee turns into what is essentially a muscled-up version of a Chevrolet Camaro (called an "Urbana 500" in-series), while the ground-based Vehicons transform into sleek black vehicles with purple tints. MECH is also outfitted with their own vehicles, seemingly with custom paint jobs.
Cliffjumper turns into an old-fashioned Dodge Challenger with bull horns on the hood.
Curb-Stomp Battle: It's been mentioned a few times on here, but it feels nice to sum it up here: Megatron or Optimus vs anyone (other than each other) equals this, not counting Airachnid's sneak attack on Optimus in "Partners". The best example is a literal version of this, with Soundwave owning Airachnid.
Cute Mute: The few times Bumblebee speaks, it's in digital beeps and whirls that, among the humans, only Raf can understand (and he does so immediately), whereas the other Autobots seem to have no trouble understanding him. The thing is, that's probably native Cybertronian, and his vocal processor would allow him to speak in English, and since that was destroyed, he CAN talk, just not in human tongues.
Bumblebee manages to use this to Bluff The Imposter, since Silas (as Nemesis Prime) can't understand him, either.
Decoy Protagonist: The beginning of the first episode focuses on Cliffjumper, as does promo art and the tie-in comic leading us to believe he'll be one of the main characters. Then Starscream kills him within ten minutes of the episode.
Defiant to the End: All three human kids were taken hostage by the Decepticons and used as a ransom to the Autobots for the Omega Keys. Each one, including Raf, stated firmly that they are willing to die for the Autobot cause. Optimus was ultimately unwilling to forsake them, but they get a lot of points for being as brave as they were.
Delegation Relay: Arcee, you're in charge... Bulkhead, you're in charge... Jack, you're in charge... Raf, you're in charge.
And also, when the Decepticons begin to lose control of their space bridge.
Megatron: Starscream! What is happening?
Starscream: Soundwave! What is happening?!
Demonization: Megatron does this with the Autobots for Orion's benefit.
When Optimus/Orion asks Megatron why they're called "Decepticons", he tells him that it was a form of Autobot propaganda to demonize them, only they chose to adopt the name as a badge of honor.
Dented Iron: Avoiding the Obligatory Joke, this happens to Bulkhead in season two after suffering serious injuries and being exposed to a chemical weapon. He recovers, just barely, but spends a half-dozen episodes either unconscious or limping around before he is more-or-less back to normal. Even still it was stated (and there are continuing signs) that his range of motion and reflexes will never be the same.
Designated Girl Fight: Largely averted; Arcee and Airachnid have several one-on-one fights and an ongoing emnity, but neither is the designated opponent for the other in group battles (even the Bulkhead/Arcee vs Breakdown/Airachnid fight has them put briefly against their partner's opposite number), and both of them have proved themselves in single battle against larger and more powerful male opponents.
Divided We Fall: Megatron gets Genre Savvy about this in "Patch". He takes Starscream back despite his self-serving behavior, since he cannot afford to have the Decepticons fighting among themselves if he is to revive Cybertron. In fact, that's what doomed it to begin with.
Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: Bizzarely subverted and played straight in "One Shall Rise, Part 1". June's car is realistically dragged by the windforce of a tornado, not the funnel. So is Bumblebee when he tries to hold it still. But June and Raf not only exit the car without being immediately ripped into the sky, but aside from June's ponytail whipping about, it's like the wind is actively ignoring them.
Solus Prime, of the thirteen original Transformers, can be seen using a massive hammer in a Flashback in "One Shall Rise, Part 1". The hammer was later found in "Operation Bumblebee, Part 2" and referred to as the Forge of Solus Prime. Bulkhead proved it can pack quite a punch but it's usefulness as a straight weapon is insignificant to it's other ability; creating virtually anything from raw materials.
Dumb Muscle: Bulkhead knows he is't particularly smart, but no other Autobot has the same raw determination as he does. Bulkhead saves the day (accidentally or not) more often than the others.
Dying as Yourself: Silas winds up combined with Breakdown's dead body, and then as a Decepticon experiment. Then he winds up injected with a combination of synthetic energon—which makes cybertronians incredibly violent and causes them to burn through their energon at dangerous rates—and dark energon, the blood of the cybertronian equivalent of the devil. As you would expect, this horribly mutates him and turns him into a shambling cybertronian zombie who calls out for Energon rather than brains. However, his search for energon causes him to find the stasis-locked Airachnid, who kills him and discovers that its Silas in Breakdown's body. Silas has one last moment as himself before finally dying.
Airachnid: Sylas? Whatever have they done to you? More importantly, thank you for freeing me.
Dynamic Entry: An upgraded Optimus Prime does this in "Rebellion" giving Megatron a beatdown and punching him across the room in the same step as his landing on the battlefield.
Earth Is the Center of the Universe: The current story is pretty minor in scale (The Autobot base is considered to be an outpost and nothing more), but there was a larger conflict in the past. Random things that are Cybertronian in origin do show up quite frequently, but then we find out Earth is actually Unicron, so it might have a bit more subconscious interest to Cybertronians than initially suspected.
Also, it's said that artifacts and Energon were stored offworld during the original war. It could be Earth isn't the only planet this is taking place on, just the only one the camera is on. If Metroplex and Menasor were duking it out over the fate of Gigantion right now, would we know? We don't have much evidence of this now, beyond the fact that the war was quite big and the main cast is quite small.
In "Alpha/Omega", it's revealed that the artifacts were sent to Earth by Alpha Trion, who foresaw that the planet would be the site of a significant battle.
Easy Come, Easy Go: Completely averted due to the ongoing story arc nature of the show. Both the Autobots and Decepticons have been slowly retrieving and stockpiling powerful Cybertronian relics for most of the second season.
Egomaniac Hunter: Airachnid works as a merc to travel to exotic locales and hunt the local sapient lifeforms.
Elite Mooks: Insecticons. While their exact strength varies from episode to episode, they are consistently much more troublesome than the generic Vehicons (such as weaker bots like Arcee and Bumblebee either needing help or using clever tactics when fighting them).
Optimus and Dreadwing vs Starscream, who's wearing the Apex Armor and knocking both of them around with ease.
Energy Absorption: The Energon Harvester can absorb energon from anything, including other Transformers.
Establishing Character Moment: Breakdown's first appearance has him taunting Bulkhead and being capable of throwing the big guy around. Knock Out's first appearance highlights his vanity, and he even approaches Optimus complimenting the customization on his vehicle mode. Together they were able to briefly take down Optimus himself and subdue the other Autobots, immediately proving themselves far more dangerous than the Vehicon Mooks.
Eva Fins: Soundwave has some rather prominent ones in robot mode. Justified as it's his transformation kibble.
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Dreadwing came to Earth specifically because he knew his twin brother Skyquake had been killed in battle and he sought revenge against Optimus for the act. It is this unusual sentimental streak that made him such an unusual Decepticon in the first place, and discovering Skyquake's corpse was desecrated with Dark Energon by Starscream made him turn against his own faction.
Likewise, Knock Out and Breakdown had a very easy, affable relationship that included travelling together. And when the latter was dissected, Knock Out was all too eager to pay back the culprit in kind.
Even Evil Has Standards: Starscream himself has spoken out against Megatron's use of dark energon to create zombies and severely disliked Airachnid for her attempts at undermining his position. A few episodes such as "Tunnel Vision" and "Hurt" suggest that Knock Out and some of the Vehicons are disgusted by the savage nature of the Insecticons.
Every Helicopter Is A Huey: In spite of the show's otherwise high-tech setting, the only US military helicopters that appear are Hueys. Since the animators could have drawn any helicopter they wanted, one presumes the Huey was selected as they would be universally recognised as "American military helicopters".
Justified in the case of MECH's helicopters as secondhand Hueys would be cheap, easily available and ideal for their missions.
Oddly, despite Airachnid scanning Fowler's Huey for her alt-mode, her appearance in alt-mode is much closer to that of a RAH-66 Comanche, the one and only helicopter that isn't a recognisable UH-1 in the series.
The Decepticons vs. Arachnid's and Starscream's EliteMooks.
The Decepticons vs. The Nemesis/Trypticon.
Evolving Credits: Starting with "Project Predacon", the opening features the updated Optimus, Bumblebee, Shockwave and the Predaking all to a new arrangement of the opening theme.
Exactly What I Aimed At: Optimus and Dreadwing's fight in "Triangulation" ends with them battling at the foot of a glacier where Dreadwing manages to gain the upper hand. Optimus then draws his blaster and fires straight at the face of the glacier just over Dreadwing's shoulder.
Dreadwing: Your aim is poor. Optimus: That is a matter of perspective. The ice falls on top of Dreadwing and buries him.
Eye Scream: Optimus' plague infection starts at his eye. Breakdown has one eye torn out when he's captured by MECH and left outside as bait.
Megatron gets this in "One Shall Fall" when Optimus knocks him off a cliff, lands on him, and then starts grinding his tires into Megatron's eyes. It was quite epic.
Megatron does this to a copy of Unicron.
Knock Out taps on Breakdown!Silas' eye before having him hauled off for dissection.
Faceless Goons: The Decepticon Troopers, as well as all MECH members shown except Silas.
"Grill" deconstructs this trope when Fowler points out that some of MECH's members could be serving members of the military, hence their masks.
Failed a Spot Check: In "Nemesis Prime" Silas, piloting the titular machine via remote control, climbs on top of the structure he is sitting in, with Optimus following behind. This ends up backfiring horribly, because Optimus ends up smashing Nemesis Prime through the roof, severely injuring Silas. He apparently didn't notice the location of the bots until the roof started to cave in.
Given how the fight was going, he might not have run into this problem, except for Fowler coming in and tricking Silas into a fistfight, keeping him away from the controls long enough to give Optimus an opening. By the time Silas got back to the controls, it was too late.
Family Friendly Firearms: For the Transformers, this is obviously a traditional and justified case. Averted with Fowler's helicopter in "Darkness Rising, Part 3", which has a Gatling gun. Played straight with MECH, but then again, considering how tough the Autobots and Decepticons are, it's actually justified too. Averted with members of the US Army, who are seen carrying assault rifles but never seen firing them.
Skyquake follows soon after the pilot. He gets his robo-entrails ripped out by Bumblebee before falling several thousand feet to his death. He Came Back Wrong in "Shadowzone"... just in time to be trapped in an alternate dimension.
Tailgate, Arcee'sother dead partner, gets one of Airachnid's talons in the general vicinity of the head. It's not directly shown, but it's still incredibly disturbing to watch.
If you're unfortunate enough to be a Mook in this show, your chances of dying horribly are pretty high. See Family Unfriendly Violence below for further clarification.
As far as death goes, in "Orion Pax, Part 3" we're treated to a shot of an Insecticon being devoured alive by Scraplets, showing them in far gorier detail than their introductory episode ever did.
Breakdown is positively sliced to pieces by Airachnid. One imagines that one only got through because the animators utilized Bloodless Carnage.
The Insecticons can't seem to catch a break: in "Toxicity", one of them gets shards of Tox-En driven through his throat by an explosion, courtesy of Bulkhead's hidden grenade. You can see him writhing and choking in agony for several seconds before he finally kicks the bucket.
Dreadwing has a gaping hole blasted through his torso by Megatron.
Family Unfriendly Violence: Despite the TV-Y7FV rating, there are several instances of explicit robot violence. In fact, the sole reason the series is rated TV-Y7FV with all this violence is because these are robots, which serves as an example of Getting Crap Past the Radar.
Fantastic Racism: After a fashion. Starscream calls Knock Out "one of those" and wonders how any self-respecting Decepticon could choose an automobile as an alt-mode.
The Decepticons as a whole think very little of humans.
Bulkhead: We have a history.
Breakdown: (noticing Miko) And you have a pet. Does it play catch? *hurls Greek pillar at Miko*
Megatron holds humanity in such contempt that he has yet to acquire an Earth-vehicle mode. Wolves, he reasons, should not hide amongst sheep.
The Dragon: Starscream. He goes rogue in "Partners," and Dreadwing is later promoted to second-in-command. When Starscream rejoins the Decepticons and Dreadwing is killed, he regains this position... only to be forced to share it with Shockwave a few episodes later.
Evil Genius: Soundwave (espionage) and Knock Out (medic and tech advisor).
Fling A Light Into The Future: It's revealed that a lot of the Cybertronian artifacts on Earth were the result of those at the Iacon Hall of Records trying to keep special artifacts away from Decepticon hands. But when they receive the Star Saber, Optimus receives a recorded message from Alpha Trion where he said that it was foretold the Autobot/Decepticon conflict would come to Earth and he sent the Iacon artifacts so that they could be utilized by Optimus in the coming battle.
Megatron says this of the three kids should the 'Bots refuse to cooperate. Opening the pods the humans are trapped in will expose them to Cybertron's toxic atmosphere.
Megatron: And then... we can all watch them instantly perish, together.
Foreshadowing: Dark Energon has been confirmed as the blood of Unicron in this series, and Megatron plunges a raw shard of it into his own spark in the second episode, after which he comments that he feels as if he can hear Unicron's thoughts.
A couple instances in "Darkness Rising", in relation to "One Shall Rise":
Megatron also tells Optimus that he would make a "fine Decepticon", which is what happens at the end of the season. (Orion Pax isn't a fighter, having to hide behind the Vehicons whenever anything happens, but is key in deciphering codes written in Iaconian code, having been an Iaconian archivist before becoming a Prime.)
In "Operation: Breakdown", after Bulkhead saves Breakdown, the big guy looks like he's seriously considering joining the Autobots. Then Starscream shows up with backup and tells him to choose right there. He says "Tough break, Bulk'. Maybe in the next life." Breakdown's dead now.
In "Operation: Bumblebee, Part 1", we get a look at Project Chimera, whose shoulders and hands resemble that of Optimus Prime, we learn why 4 episodes later.
In "Sick Mind", Megatron brings up "phase-displacement armor" when talking about why he can't kill Bumblebee. Bee actually gets a piece of said armor in "Tunnel Vision."
Despite the Decepticon belief that humans are primitive and inferior, as well as the occasional Autobot scoffing at the idea of humans posing a potential threat to Cybertronians, the series takes the time to show just how formidable humans can be—often through the kids. Megatron, seemingly having more contempt for humans than any other Cybertronian seen, is not only spared by Jack in "Rock Bottom", and also outsmarted again thanks to him in the third part of the season two opener. So, when his plans are foiled again thanks to a human (Miko, this time) in the events of "Hurt", he finally takes a hint.
Very subtly done with the basis of the kids' relationship to the Autobots and a funny moment in "Regeneration". The Autobots are the humans' guardians. So, naturally, soon after a comedic scene of the kids contacting Ratchet because their rides never showed up after school, scrap hits the fan-blades when it turns out that the Decepticons realized that their protectors were all busy on Cybertron and took advantage of the situation in order to get some bargaining chips.
When Shockwave brings Predaking before Megatron, the Decepticon leader voices his pleasure over him '"tapering with creation yet again."' Two episodes later, we find out that this is not Shockwave's first rodeo in regards to Predacon cloning.
Fragile Speedster: Arcee is one of the faster and more acrobatic members of the team, but she also can't take much damage.
Starscream for the 'Cons.
Friendship Moment: When things get bad in "Darkest Hour", Wheeljack shows up unannounced and lends a hand. When the others, especially Ratchet, express surprise that the Ineffectual Loner comes helping so readily:
Wheeljack: "We're still on the same team Doc, always will be!"
Fun with Acronyms: The DNGS (Dynamic Nuclear Generation System), a.k.a. the Dingus. Presumably the case with the terrorist organization out to steal it, MECH.
Subverted in one of the tie-in comics. When Ratchet builds a training area for the Autobots called the "Safe," Raf asks if the name's short of "Systems And Firing Evaluation." Ratchet says no, the name just means that it's a safe place to train, but he likes Raf's idea too.
In "Triage" Wheeljack sends a grenade to the Decepticon ship. As punishment for failing to get a relic, Knock Out has to run it out of the ship. Megatron talks casually to Soundwave, then pauses as there is a background explosion, then continues.
In "Patch" memory-Starscream dancing as he celebrates being the Lord of the Decepticons as present-Megatron talks to present-Starscream.
Game Changer: The Iacon relic hunt took a marked upswing when the outnumbered Autobots got the Forge of Solus Prime (a hammer capable of forging anything) from a defecting Dreadwing, allowing Optimus to build a space bridge to meet the Decepticon forces on Cybertron looking for the Omega Lock, as without it they couldn't make the journey. Another game changer happened in the second season finale, where the Decepticons discovered the location of the Autobot base and destroyed it, the Auobots being scattered around the world to hide from them.
Genki Girl: Miko. For bonus points, she's a Japanese exchange student living in Jasper.
Genre Savvy: Most of the characters - even the dramatic ones like Optimus and Megatron - are pretty sharp, which is probably one of the major reasons they're still alive in a show like this.
God Is Evil/God of Evil: Unicron. As Optimus puts it he is, metaphorically speaking, the parent of humanity and all life on Earth. Unicron agrees with Optimus on this... and then declares his creations parasites unworthy of living.
Gory Discretion Shot: In "Predatory", there's energon splattering across the wall like blood due to Airachnid slashing open one of Arcee's allies in a flashback.
In "Convoy," Arcee knocks a particularly unfortunate Mook off of one of MECH's cars. The actual impact is hidden behind the crashing car.
Gotta Catch Them All: The first season had a scattering of Cybertronian artifacts lying around for the others to find at random times, but the second season explained why there were so many. In the later days of the war the Decepticons were about to breach the Iacon Library, which contained many relics that were both sacred and potentially weapons of mass destruction. Rather than risking them falling into the ruthless hands of the Decepticons, they ejected hundreds out into space.
G-Rated Drug: Synth-En in "Stronger, Faster" which, judging by its effects, is a blatant stand-in for steroids, right down to its effects and side-effects.
Great Offscreen War: There was apparently a fairly elaborate conflict between the two factions on Earth long ago, and considering Megatron's plans, Optimus correctly assumes he would test out Dark Energon on the site of an unexplained battlefield.
The original war between the 'bots and 'cons that devastated Cybertron.
Purple Rocks: Dark Energon, which generally has similar properties within the show, but is quite different to the stuff shown in War For Cybertron. Megatron has a habit of using it for random purposes and quickly finding that it has Unpredictable Results.
Grievous Harm with a Body: Starscream blows off Arcee's arm in the prequel comic and proceeds to smack Cliffjumper around with it.
Wheeljack chops off a Vehicon's arm and smacks another Vehicon with it.
In "Rebellion," Optimus throws Megatron into Darkmount's power core, badly wounding the Decepticon leader and leaving the fortress defenseless against a squadron of incoming jets.
The Grovel: Starscream does this whenever threatened by someone more powerful then him (ex: Megatron). Though he did use it once to catch Arcee off-guard.
Megatron himself does it in "One Shall Rise, Part 1" when Unicron rejects his offer of servitude.
Gun Kata: The second, Wing-Chung-y style shows up in "One Shall Fall", when Optimus Prime and Megatron have an epic duel at the foot of a Dark-Energon-spewing volcano.
Gunship Rescue: Done mostly via Agent Fowler and his F-35 Lightning II inspired jet he frequently uses, done most literally when Bumblebee was doing some "jet judo" and needed help to make a softer landing than Skyquake was going to offer. It also turned into a running gag that several Decepticons have used Fowler's aircraft as a reference point to acquire an Earth-based alternate mode.
Fowler also has a helicopter with a gatling gun on the underside, which was shown in "Darkness Rising" and appeared again in "Crisscross" to rescue Jack and Arcee from Airachnid and MECH.
Wheeljack comes to the rescue in The Jackhammer in "Darkest Hour" and fought alongside Fowler in his helicopter to buy some time for the Autobots to evacuate their base before the Nemesis was able to destroy it.
Harmful to Minors: Bulkhead tells Miko to look away before finishing off a Vehicon by ripping out its equivalent to a heart. She doesn't.
Headbanger: Miko and Bulkhead. Also at least one of the writers, given some of the episode titles (Speed Metal, Toxicity, The Human Factor...)
Heel Face Revolving Door: Starscream. Him being, well, The Starscream, his allegiance has always been dodgy at best, but here he seems to take every opportunity to switch sides, directly aiding the Autobots in some form at least three times already.
Hero Killer: Several of the Decepticons. Starscream murdered Cliffjumper, Airachnid killed Tailgate, Dreadwing blew up Seaspray, and Megatron is shown impaling an unnamed Autobot in a flashback.
In "Partners," Starscream nearly kills Arcee, but she gets back to her feet and gives him a smackdown.
Hidden in Plain Sight: Seemingly taking a page from the IDW G1-inspired comic series, the Autobots are exceptionally careful about staying in their alternate mode and avoiding any attention. The Decepticons show a similar attitude, and while they're more willing to draw weapons, that also means they're more willing to kill human witnesses. It is such that the human kids are placed under Autobot protection because Optimus fears the kids will be mistaken for Autobot allies just for stumbling across a confrontation.
Holding Hands: A platonic version occurs between Optimus and Arcee in "Scrapheap" where they are freezing to death in the Arctic and believe it was their end.
Hollywood Darkness: Nighttime scenes tend to be fairly well-lit, but the most glaring example comes from "Rock Bottom." After the cave-in, the area remains light enough that Jack can wander around for a while on his own without difficulty, even before he finds the drill.
Hollywood Tactics: Considering the Autobots are typically outnumbered, they sure seem to like standing close together during a firefight and out in the open.
Hope Spot: Done to the villains when the Decepticons find out that Makeshift does indeed know the location of the base, it's cut short by the Decepticons finding a bomb on Makeshift, which promptly explodes, killing Makeshift and denying the incredibly important information to the Decepticons.
A more minor, but still villainous, one in The Human Factor when Knock Out thinks his old partner Breakdown is alive. It turns out to be Silas, using Breakdown's body as a Humongous Mecha suit. Knock Out is understandably pissed.
How Would You Like To Die: Airachnid asks Jack how he'd like his mother to die, then when he won't answer, she asks June herself. This being Airachnid, the choices are "agonizing" and "excruciating."
Hypercompetent Sidekick: Soundwave to this to both Megatron and Starscream. Unusual is that while Megatron is competent in his own right, he is more of a broad schemer and uses brutal tactics while Soundwave takes care of the fine details. Starscream clearly knows it and is careful around him; Airachnid doesn't and learns a hard lesson.
"Scrapheap" has two such instances in one scene. At the end of the episode, Miko freaks out over a tiny spider, when earlier she'd mildly made fun of Bulkhead for his fear of Scraplets. (The difference is Bulkhead has a genuine reason to be afraid of them: The little things are lethal.) Bulkhead also comments that she Screams Like a Little Girl, when he'd done the same thing earlier (and Miko actually is a girl).
In "Rock Bottom", when Bulkhead tells Starscream that he isn't going to beg for mercy, Starscream (who was doing exactly that with Megatron earlier) nervously comments that begging for mercy would be "quite pathetic".
In "Out Of The Past", after Arcee shoots out the ceiling, burying Shockwave under a pile of rocks, Starscream appears with several mooks and says that "It appears that Shockwave's arrogance was his undoing". Nevermind the fact that arrogance is Starscream's primary personality trait, earlier in that episode he spent too much time grandstanding and failed to kill a captive Cliffjumper because of it.
Though Shockwave himself commented earlier that "only Starscream could fail to dispose of a helpless captive", despite the fact that the only reason Cliffjumper got out was because Shockwave didn't realize he failed to kill Arcee.
The Decepticons in general seem to fall victim to this, usually associated with their Evil Gloating.
In "Regeneration," the Decepticons capture the three human children and bring them to Cybertron as bargaining chips, with the threat that if the Autobots refuse to surrender the Omega Keys, the kids will be exposed to the planet's toxic air.
To drive the point home, Megatron's thoughts are revealed to the audience, saying that Bumblebee can't hear Raf anymore, just to show how total of a control Megs has over Bumblebee.
Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: A series of episodes in the second season that are four seperate stories about hunting Iacon relics occuring at the exact same time all begin with "T." "Tunnel Vision," "Triangulation," "Triage" and "Toxicity."
If Only You Knew: When Starscream sneaks back onto the Nemesis to steal Energon and runs into Orion Pax/Amnesiac Optimus, he inadvertantly helps Optimus start questioning his situation.
In "Nemesis Prime", the titular character guts the real Optimus. Fortunately, the wound was neither fatal nor enough to prevent Optimus from getting a Heroic Second Wind and opening a can of whoopass on Nemesis.
The Autobots would succumb to this whenever a named Decepticon shows up, although averted whenever it is Megatron, who is just that tough to withstand every single shot. Also averted in Optimus' first bout with Dreadwing in "Triangulation", where a good shot from Prime knocks Dreadwing to the ground.
In Harm's Way: Miko, full tilt. She's constantly sneaking onto the battlefield to watch the Autobots fight, and is almost killed every single time. Though she seems to have learned her lesson a bit by season 2.
In Medias Res: The Autobots have been on Earth for some time and have contacts with the human governments, and references are made to an initial Autobot/Decepticon conflict on Earth several years prior.
In Memoriam: "Partners" was dedicated to the memory of Captain H.L. "Larry" Cullen, the brother of Peter Cullen who died four months before the episode aired. While Captain Cullen was never personally involved with the Transformers franchise, Peter has said he looked to mirror Larry in his performance (specifically the ability to be powerful and commanding but gentle at the same time). In short, the inspiration for Optimus Prime passed away.
Infodump: The explanation of Dark Energon in "Darkness Rising, Part 2" is very informative for people who haven't played Transformers War For Cybertron; the Transformers Wiki pointed out that the Infodump was to the point that it sounded like Megatron and Starscream had never encountered it before, which they have. Given the Broad Strokes relationship between this series and WFC, the exact properties of Dark Energon are also up to change.
Ratchet takes almost a segment between commercial breaks to explain the history between Megatron and Optimus. It works, though.
Megatron: How was it that you put it, Optimus? "I could not have allowed this to end otherwise"?
Soundwave does this sometimes, repeating a voice clip of another character in a different context. For instance, Starscream mentions that he "must bear witness" to Optimus Prime's defeat before flying off. (He's ordered Soundwave to stay rather than investigate signs of Megatron's survival, which Starscream plans to do himself - so he can finish him off.) Soundwave repeats "Must bear witness" before sending Laserbeak to follow Starscream.
In "Stronger, Faster" Ratchet tells Megatron he is his Doctor of Doom. Later in "Orion Pax, Part 1", Megatron uses the same title for Ratchet when demonizing him to Orion Pax.
"Darkest Hour" puts a decidedly more tragic spin on Ratchet's Running Gag line when Optimus, out of necessity, destroyed the Omega Lock, and with it, the chance to restore Cybertron.
Ratchet: Optimus... we needed that.
Irony: In "Rock Bottom" Starscream was brought to the old energon mine to be executed by Megatron as a final humiliation for all his failures. Upon encountering the Autobots and causing a cave-in, Starscream barely makes it out while Megatron is trapped behind. Starscream begins gloating over the switch-up, but then realizes Megatron has survived worse and still commands far more loyalty among the Decepticons (who would seek to rescue him), and there's no place he could hide from Megatron's wrath. He rants in anger, realizing his best option is to re-enter the mine and rescue Megatron in order to "prove" his loyalty.
It Has Been an Honor: Arcee says this to Optimus when it seems like they're going to freeze to death in the Arctic.
Smokescreen gives the silent version of this trope (comes to attention and salutes) at the very end of season two.
It's Personal: Arcee's rivalry with Airachnid. And, to a slightly lesser extent, Bulkhead's rivalry with Breakdown.
Arcee and Starscream, after Arcee learns that Starscream is the 'Con who killed Cliffjumper.
Wheeljack's rivalry with Dreadwing.
Miko lists this as the reason why Fowler should go after Silas in "Nemesis Prime", referring to how Silas tried to kill Fowler earlier in the episode.
It's Raining Men: Breakdown in "Out of his Head" and Smokescreen in "Inside Job".
Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Subverted in "Convoy". Fowler tries to get information out of a mook by holding him off the side of Optimus driving at highway speed. Then said mook gets hit by a tree branch and dies.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: For the good guys: Miko, Agent Fowler, Ratchet, and Wheeljack. Arguably, Breakdown is a villainous version.
Megatron uses the same technology to look into Starscreams mind and figure out his motivations.
Kibbles And Bits: It's Transformers, so it's required. However, even the Transformers that explicitly don't enter vehicle modes clearly have vehicle kibble, most likely to save money on character models.
Killed Off for Real: Jeff Kline, a producer of the show, says "When we kill a character, we kill a character." And indeed, when a character is killed, they remain dead, although the show isn't against using clever ways to show them again, like with zombies, flashback stories and Soul Jars.
Killer Rabbit: Scraplets. Cute to organics, deadly pests to mechanisms, with a particular sweet tooth for Living Metal.
The next time we see Scraplets, it's against a mass-produced Mook, and we get to see just how deadly they are. The Insecticon is falling apart seconds after the combined might of the swarm descends on him.
Kryptonite Factor: Toxic Energon, or "Tox-En", is a dangerous form of energon which, instead of powering a Cybertronian, poisons and shuts them down to the point of spark loss.
Large and in Charge: Optimus and Megatron are a lot taller than their subordinates. Subverted with Bulkhead when Optimus appoints a temporary leader; Bulkhead never gets picked. His second in command is in fact Ratchet.
Lasers Are Worthless: Hitting anything bigger or more relevant to the plot than a Vehicon with lasers might as well be hitting them with a bean bag.
When Optimus and the Autobots are fighting Unicron's mooks, the smaller ones prove remarkably fragile despite packing a punch capable of nearly disabling Optimus. The larger ones, however, are utterly impervious to the Bots' blasters. Megatron's cannon to the head is another story...
Averted in "Triangulation", where a solid shot from Optimus' blaster knocks Dreadwing to the ground.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: When Optimus gives up the Matrix of Leadership to defeat Unicron, he subsequently loses all of his memories since he originally obtained the Matrix millenia ago, thinking him and Megatron to still be allies and not recognizing any of the Autobots. It doesn't last.
Happens to Silas in "The Human Factor" - when his plan to curry favor with Megatron and gain entry into the Decepticons fails, he is dragged off by Vehicons so he can be dissected by Breakdown's old buffing pal Knock Out, much like Silas did to the Cybertronians that he encountered.
The reaction to Soundwave, when the designs were revealed, were "what do you mean a robot can be anorexic?!" It's especially surprising in his case because the original Soundwave was boxy (turning into a tape recorder) and all Soundwaves since are boxy so they can homage the iconic chest design.
Lesser of Two Evils: Siding with Megatron against Unicron, and using Starscream as an informant against Megatron.
Let's Get Dangerous: In the first season finale, when Airachnid makes a bid for leadership (not unlike Starscream) the Decepticon forces are almost ready to join her due to Megatron's absense and erratic behavior. The only person to oppose her is Soundwave, who up to this point has done almost zero fighting. Airachnid scoffs at him, only to be on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle. The point was made: don't screw with Soundwave.
Limited Wardrobe: All of the human characters have the exact same outfit in every episode. Agent Fowler even pilots a jet and helicopter with the same shirt, suit and tie-at-half-mast combo, when he should probably be wearing a flightsuit.
Fowler's case is explained in "Grill" as being upgrades to his jet from Ratchet. And a preference for being comfortable.
Little No: Miko in "Hurt," when Wheeljack goes down while fighting Hardshell.
Living Relic: All of the Transformers. Their civilization is old beyond reckoning and is now destroyed. While their technological capabilities are impressive, it is clear in many episodes that they only have scraps of knowledge compared to what once was.
Load-Bearing Hero: Throughout most of "Rock Bottom", Bulkhead is holding up the ceiling of the cave to prevent it from collapsing on him and Miko. By the end of the episode, Starscream is forced to hold it up as they escape.
Ratchet: We lost one this week, by the Allspark, don't let it be two.
Lost Superweapon: Related to Lost Technology below. There are quite a number of weapons that are far, far more effective than the standard Transformer armament hidden about.
Lost Technology: Earth appears to be littered with Cybertronian technology (and a few Cybertronians), including at least two crashed starships. And yet humanity hasn't discovered any of it, despite some of it sitting out in the open. MECH is working on it, however. Somewhat justified in that the crashed starships and battlefields are in isolated wilderness areas. Smaller tech (like the energon extractor) has been found, but it seems no one realized what it was.
The modern Cybertronians themselves are working off of a fraction of the technology the ancient Cybertronians, the Thirteen Original Transformers specifically, once had. Space Bridge technology in general was reverse engineered relatively recently. Thus even they are curious about what they might find.
Lotus-Eater Machine: During his coma, Megatron dreams of perpetual duels with Optimus that he always wins. He's tempted to stay, but Bumblebee convinces him that this is ultimately empty.
Meaningful Echo: In "Darkness Rising, Part 2" after Bulkhead destroys a piece of Ratchet's lab equipment to make a point:
Ratchet: Bulkhead, I needed that!
In "Darkest Hour", after Optimus destroys the Omega Lock to prevent the cyberforming of Earth, but also stopping them from ever resurrecting their home planet:
Ratchet: Optimus...we needed that.
Magic Skirt: Averted in "Speed Metal" when Jack drag races Vince down a long strip of road. The blast from their vehicles whips up a breeze that looks to blow Sierra and her friend's skirts up, but they immediately pull and hold their skirts into place as soon as they start to billow.
Magnetic Plot Device: In the first season, several episodes were dedicated to fighting over some Cybertronian artifacts that seemed to be randomly on Earth somehow. The second season clarifies that as the Cybertronian Civil War got worse, Autobot officials took a lot of culturally and technologically significant artifacts and scattered them into space to prevent Decepticon usage in case the Iacon Archives were compromised (and some artifacts were too dangerous/valuable for even Autobot use), providing a handy justification for a new MacGuffin every so often.
With the story of Transformers Fall Of Cybertron, Earth itself was a documented planet even to "the ancients." In this series it was revealed that Earth was formed around the body of Unicron, which adds a new level in why the planet seems to attract Cybertronian activity.
Makes Us Even: Starscream name-checks this trope when he frees Arcee from Airachnid's webbing in "Crossfire".
The Masquerade: The Autobots arrangement with the US government hinges on keeping the existence of the Transformers presence on Earth a secret, something Wheeljack and Smokescreen had a little trouble with at first. Megatron all but throws off the Masquerade in "Darkest Hour".
The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: In the season 2 premiere, Jack is talking to Sierra at his job. She's obviously interested, but never sees him around. As Jack tries to make an excuse, Arcee chooses this moment to broadcast her voice over the intercom so she can pick him up. She obviously thinks it's his girlfriend, an assumption which is not dissuaded by Arcee's holographic driver in skintight leather nor passing her off as his "mother".
Mecha-Mooks: The Vehicon drones, who function as generic footsoldiers for Megatron and Starscream. They're actually dangerous, though, as they captured Cliffjumper and give Bumblebee and Arcee a hard time.
Mechanical Life Forms: When properly introduced to the Autobots, Raf asks, "So, if you guys are robots, who made you?" Ratchet is insulted by the question. Optimus then explains that they are "autonomous robotic organisms from the planet Cybertron." It's shown later in the series that they have an approximation of the same nervous system and "vital components" that regular organic life has. They have limits to the amount of damage they can take, and cold arctic weather can be dangerous.
Further attention is brought to this when Arcee feels nauseous after coming into contact with Dark Energon.
Miko: Robots who get dizzy? Raf: Robots with emotions... Jack: Robots... who can die...
Another interesting factor comes up when Arcee notes that just being robots doesn't mean they know all the details of how technology works, much like how humans may not know how their own body works:
Jack: You're a motorcycle, Arcee. Shouldn't you know how to build a motorcycle engine? Arcee: You're a human, Jack. Can you build me a small intestine?
Another factor is the description of T-Cogs (which control a Cybertronian's ability to transform into their alt-modes or access their built-in weapons) when Bumblebee's was stolen in "Operation Bumblebee". While mechanical in nature, T-Cogs are essentially biology, meaning they can't make one from spare parts any more than humans can replace a kidney with a chunk of beef (although transplants are an option). To anyone like MECH (who are making their own Cybertronian inspired robots) they're useless without a flow of Energon, as a result of being biology and not technology. This also means that Bumblebee, and later Starscream, essentially became victim to organ theft.
Several episodes have described the use of biological weapons being used in the Cybertronian war. Cybonic Plague is a poisoned form of energon transmitted via interpersonal contact and Tox-En is a more carpet bomb type of bio-weapon.
Merchandise Driven: Played with, as the toys came out over a year after the premiere date because of the debacle a few years ago concerning on the delay of the Transformers Animated toy line because the movie line was still selling well. Even then, the toy line is fairly minimal as they are a subline of the greater "Robots in Disguise" line rather than being their own set (like the movies or Animated).
Meteor Move: An Insecticon, under the influence of Airachnid, pulls a uniquely vicious variation of this move on Megatron. It slams Megatron into a cave wall and kicks him into the air, flying after him and bloodily ripping a chunk of his shoulder off with its mandibles in mid air, before raining a hail of laser fire after him as he crashes to the ground. This has the undesired effect of seriously pissing him off.
Mid-Season Upgrade: After suffering serious injuries at the end of season two, Optimus uses the Forge of Solus Prime to give him a new body that makes him dwarf Megatron and have flight capabilities.
Also, If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him is adhered to... unless the enemy really, really pissed you off. However, the Autobots aren't portrayed as absolutely perfect saints, and they've all endured a lot during the war.
More Teeth Than The Osmond Family: Scraplets. Tiny little critters that actually look cute. But when they see living metal, they open their mouths and show their teeth, and you can hear a dentist's drill as they speed toward their target.
Mugging the Monster: MECH thinks it's stealing the D.N.G.S. from "an unarmed civilian truck". The Autobots don't even need to transform to trash the MECH cars, and it takes Decepticon interference to reveal the Autobots to MECH.
Mutual Kill: When Wheeljack shoots down Laserbeak, the drone's final, wild shots score a crippling hit on his ship. Both parties survive, but Laserbeak and the Jackhammer are down for the episode.
Dreadwing does this to Starscream in "Triangulation".
Never Recycle Your Schemes: Double Subverted in "One Shall Fall". Megatron tries to rebuild the space bridge that was destroyed in the pilot, in order to use it to find more dark energon. However, it turns out that he didn't need to. There already is more dark energon on Earth because Earth is Unicron.
Never Say "Die": Averted throughout, particularly in the first five minutes of the show with Cliffjumper.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: In "Orion Pax, Part 3", a pair of Vehicons start beating up Orion Pax (who is starting to doubt Megatron's lies) when he protests against Megatron's plans. The beatdown causes Orion's arm cannons to appear — the arm cannons Orion didn't know he had. He immediately kills the Vehicons and leaves to confront Megatron.
No Flow in CGI: Subverted, due to the series being animated by a veteran CG animation studio. All of the human characters' hair looks somewhat like clay, but this is largely due to the art style and most likely intentional.
In "Orion Pax, Part 3", a couple of Vehicons start whaling on Orion when he protests Megatron's orders. This backfires spectacularly when Orion reflexively activates his arm cannons (which he didn't know he had thanks to being mentally regressed to a time before he was ever armed) to defend himself.
Bulkhead delivers one to spoiler:a Starscream clone, going so far as to actually beat him to death.
In "Rock Bottom", Starscream initially writes Megatron off after the cave-in... but then almost immediately remembers that Megs has survived worse, and he decides that rescuing him would probably earn him some points.
Hardshell also proclaims that Bulkhead could not have survived his wounds. He's wrong, but Bulkhead suffers a complete systems failure, and has to undergo lots of physical therapy, with the implication that he'll never be at his physical peak again.
Jack: Uh, Optimus! You wanna see something funny? Optimus: No.
Non-Action Guy: Ratchet doesn't see much fighting and usually stays at base as Mission Control. But when needed, he is still willing to go into battle, surgical blades and all.
Soundwave tends to stay out of combat as well; for almost the entire first season, his only fight scene was when he attacked the kids with one of his tentacles in the pilot. In the season finale, however, he proved that when motivated, he's easily one of the more dangerous Decepticons.
The Noseless: All of the robots seem to follow the aesthetic set forth by Animated, substituting noses with a small ridge on their helmets in the same approximate place. Optimus is perhaps the most notable example, as his ridge is so small as to be barely noticeable.
Not Quite Dead: Megatron survived the space bridge exploding thanks to dark energon, which left him barely alive.
Silas, after Nemesis Prime gets dropped on him. He's left on heavy life support, and MECH is forced to place him inside Breakdown's corpse to save him.
Not So Different: In "Convoy," with the introduction of MECH, Optimus notes that humanity has its own Decepticons.
In "Toxicity", Fowler was coaching Bulkhead over a comm channel to give him the strength to complete his mission of destroying a small stockpile of Tox-En. Here we learn that Fowler is an ex-Army Ranger and thus understands Bulkhead's connection to the Wreckers. It's especially interesting because they didn't get along very well before, but found new respect for each other.
Off Model: The eyes of the robots mix the colored shapes that were used for most all prior incarnations and the pupils are the intricate "adjusting camera lens" look that the movies introduced. Depending on the episode certain characters' pupils (most often Bumblebee and Starscream) vary between the camera lens look and being just filled with color.
Oh Scrap: When Cliffjumper is confronted with almost a dozen Vehicons in the first episode. "Arcee... about that backup..."
Another example in "One Shall Rise, Part 3": Everyone when they realize that Optimus has amnesia and has switched sides.
At the end of episode 3, Optimus and Ratchet have one when Megatron raises his army of Terrorcons.
In Episode 4, the Autobots' reaction to Megatron's latest plan, which involves creating a space bridge to Cybertron and releasing dark energon to make an army out of thousands upon thousands of dead Autobots and Decepticons.
Makeshift's reaction to realising that Bulkhead tricked him into blowing his cover in "Con Job".
In "Sick Mind", this is everyone's reaction to the discovery that Megatron is Not Quite Dead. And it's also Megatron's reaction to discovering just what happened to him and what sort of state he's in.
In "Shadowzone", Jack, Raf, and Miko have this reaction to learning that they're trapped in a parallel dimension with a zombified Skyquake.
In "Orion Pax, Part 3," Megatron himself has this reaction when Orion Pax goes back to being Optimus Prime.
A hilarious one from Miko and Raf in "Operation Bumblebee, Part 1" when they try to distract Bee with TV. What are the odds they'd see that car commercial right then?
Two consecutively in "Crossfire". One by Bulkhead when Dreadwing shows up with an army of Vehicons to assist Megatron, and right after that, Arcee when she realizes that she has fallen in Airachnid's trap.
Silas gets two Oh Craps in quick succession in "Nemesis Prime". The first one when he realizes his fistfight with Agent Fowler has caused him to step away from Nemesis' control chair and given Optimus the time to recover and start kicking his copy's ass, from which Silas proves unable to counter even when he manages to get back into the control chair, causing him to visibly panic. The bigger one comes when Nemesis comes crashing through the ceiling of MECH's base... directly above Silas.
Airachnid gets a few as well. Her first one comes when Jack blows up her ship... which Airachnid was standing on top of at the time.
The second is during her fight with Soundwave, when she sees that Laserbeak isn't resting on his chest. Cue being shot in the back.
The big one, though, comes in "Armada," when she realizes she's standing on a primed stasis pod. The pod activates before she can get away, freezing her in a permanent Oh Crap expression.
The expression on Dreadwing's face when his sword bounces right off of the Apex Armor without so much as scratching it is this trope to a "T". He pauses to inspect his sword with a "...that did not just happen!" look as Starscream laughs maniacally.
Silas gets a very good one when Megatron informs him that he's got his "place at the table"... specifically, Knock Out's dissection table.
Bulkhead gets a very prominent one when he figures out just who "Breakdown" is.
Megatron has a massive one when Optimus gains power over the Star Saber.
Megatron gets an incredible one in "Legacy" when Optimus acquires the Star Saber.
Optimus also gets one, though not nearly as massive, in the next episode when Megatron uses the Dark Star Saber to break his Star Saber.
Dreadwing gets one in "Hard Knocks" after he plants a bomb on Bulkhead's back and presses the detonator... only to find out that Bulkhead anticipated the attack and the bomb is now on his own back.
Optimus gets two more in "Darkest Hour". One when Megatron attempts to use the Omega Lock to cyber-form Earth, and another when the Autobots bridge back to Earth only to find a massive Decepticon fortress near their base.
Bulkhead, Wheeljack and Miko get one when they see Predaking breathing fire at them.
Megatron's eyes screams 'Oh Scrap!' when he sees a rebuilt and flying Optimus approaching Darkmount.
One-Man Army: Bulkhead is second only to Optimus in combat power, and he produces a fine showing of this in "Darkness Rising, Part 4", when he takes on a squad of Vehicons by himself with surprising grace, finesse and power. He's also the only Autobot besides Optimus to hold his own against Megatron, while he's fully powered by his dark energon. A very impressive feat.
Ditto for Wheeljack. It seems that for the Wreckers, this trope is par for the course.
In "Orion Pax, Part 3", Megatron takes on Ratchet, Bumblebee, and Bulkhead at the same time, and wins.
One Size Fits All: The Apex Armor automatically sizes itself to its wearer, even if that wearer happens to be a human.
And in an interesting variation, Miko apparently feels that Bulkhead is the only one allowed to defeat Breakdown.
Arcee and Airachnid have this attitude towards each other.
Only The Chosen May Wield: Artifacts belonging to the Thirteen Primes will only respond to a Prime. Goes double for the Star Saber, which can't even be moved by a non-Prime. Megatron gets around this by stealing the arm of a deceased Prime.
Our Zombies Are Different: Adding Dark Energon to a Cybertronian's corpse results in a savage monster who kills everything in its path. They can be controlled by a living Cybertronian with Dark Energon in their system.
Out-of-Genre Experience: "Thirst" is essentially a horror film, using many of the tropes common to the genre (an experiment that did not go as well as expected, enclosed spaces, and the infection spreading very, very quickly). Knock-Out also lampshades the tropes a few times in the episode.
Palette Swap: In proud Transformers tradition. One of Arcee's old partners, Tailgate, is a recoloring of Cliffjumper in a white primary with red accents. They manage to hide it by showing sharp camera angles on him so it isn't so obvious.
Dreadwing is a recoloring of Skyquake, justified because they're brothers (split from the same spark).
Happens with the titular character of "Nemesis Prime."
Ultra Magnus is largely the same design as Optimus (as per tradition) except colored white and blue, but he is modified with different head, chest and shoulders. He ends up scanning a vehicle form identical to Optimus' as well but with even fewer design changes.
Papa Wolf: When Megatron nearly killed Raf, the normally calm Optimus decides that enough is enough and heads into battle to kill Megatron.
Pardon My Klingon: Cybertronian-style swears such as "scrap" and "frag". Notably missing is the formerly ubiquitous "slag", which is an actual swear word over in England and the UK (but not America or Canada). Production is aware of this; in Transformers Animated, the Dinobot who is nigh-identical to G1 Slag is named "Snarl" (after another Dinobot who doesn't get a TFA version) but "Oh, slag" remains the preferred "something really bad is about to happen" phrase. However, "Oh, scrap" appears to be its official replacement now.
Pintsized Powerhouse: Due to the way the Apex Armor works, Miko ends up becoming this in "Chain of Command". While wearing the Apex Armor, Miko is every bit as strong as Starscream or Arcee were when wearing it, but barely comes up to Starscream's chest since the armor is fitted for a mere human.
Playing Both Sides: Starscream. Thoug, it's not what it sounds like. Starscream's just trying to survive and ends up trying to get help from the Autobots when he's injured and wrecking Megatron's plans when he can, but he's not above trying to convince Dreadwing to let him help fight against Optimus Prime, only to turn around and help Optimus take out some of the Vehicons, only to later exclaim to Dreadwing that he was forced to help Optimus.
Plot Tailored to the Party: "Scrapheap". The base is swarmed with Scraplets, metal-eating termites. The only way to get them out of the base is through the GroundBridge. The only way to fix the GroundBridge is to repair the leak in the fuel line. The fuel line is where the scraplets swarm is located. Now if only there was someone in the base not made of metal who could go down there to fix the fuel line.
Lampshaded by Ratchet: "We're lucky it happened... on a Saturday."
Plug 'n' Play Technology: Averted. Raf tries to download Decepticon information onto a flash drive, but can't find a port for it. Miko has to take a picture of the screen on her cell phone.
Police Are Useless: In "Deus ex Machina", the museum guard calls the police before he finds Miko and takes her into the security room for questioning during the night. At the end of the episode, morning comes and the police never arrive, when realistically, it should only have taken them a few minutes to get there. Fowler manages to get there before they do, and he was supposed to be on break at the time.
P.O.V. Cam: The show is fond of showing the view of an Autobot, usually Bulkhead, while he's firing at Decepticons. Sometimes it's closer to an over-the-shoulder view, possibly in homage to Transformers War For Cybertron.
A literal one is used during Bumblebee's trip into Megatron's mind, which later proves to be more than just giving a reason why the others know of Bumblebee's adventures.
Power Trio: The three human kids are an excellent example of the Freudian kind:
Jack: Ego. He's the most down-to-earth of the three kids and serves as the voice of reason. He's a perfect balance between Raf's intelligence and Miko's emotion.
Miko: Id. The most impulsive and given to emotions.
Raf: Superego. The most intelligent and tech-savvy, and the one most willing to pursue logical courses of action.
Psycho Serum: The incomplete synthetic energon formula from "Stronger, Faster". Injecting it does make Ratchet much faster and stronger, but also makes him far more aggressive, angry, brutal, and overconfident enough to try and take on Megatron alone. And the episode ends with Knock Out finding a sample, presumably so the Decepticons can now manufacture it themselves, and Megatron sees no problems with its side-effects.
Punch Catch: Megatron grabs Ratchet's second synthetic Energon-powered punch, twists his arm, and punches a hole in Ratchet's gut with his free hand.
In "Toxicity", Hardshell catches Bulkhead's wrecking-ball punch and stabs him with his free hand.
Puny Humans: Used to insult Breakdown after he gets captured by MECH. Megatron refuses to send a rescue team, claiming that since Breakdown got captured by creatures smaller and weaker than him, he's not worth rescuing. Starscream also uses the trope name later to make Breakdown "forget" about the unauthorized rescue.
Puppy-Dog Eyes: Starscream, of all bots, does this a few times in "Partners".
The Quiet One: Both Bumblebee and Soundwave. When Bumblebee does speak, his "voice" is a series of beeps and whirrs, but even then, he doesn't seem to carry on long conversations. Soundwave only "speaks" using recorded audio tracks of a recent conversation; that and his blank stare are meant to be unsettling.
Recap Episode: S02E09 "Grill" for the good guys, and S02E24 Patch for the Decepticons (Starscream in particular)
Red Eyes, Take Warning: Standard for Decepticons. Megatron tops this one, his stare alone is enough to frighten anyone at first glance. Exceptions among the Decepticons include Breakdown, Airachnid, and Soundwave.
Arcee and Optimus are the most clear-cut examples in the Autobot ranks. Arcee is brash and somewhat reckless while Optimus is generallyThe Stoic amongst the Autobots.
Bumblebee and Bulkhead are red to Ratchet's blue.
Starscream and Soundwave fit this trope to a T. Starscream is a foul-tempered, narcissistic coward while Soundwave is cold, calculating, and utterly emotionless.
Knock Out and Breakdown are another excellent example. Their color schemes are an inversion, however; Breakdown is dark blue while the more cultured Knock Out is red. Likewise, either one of them is red to Airachnid's blue.
Starscream and Megatron.
Megatron and Soundwave. Anyone and Soundwave, really.
Even though the former is long dead and they never actually met in-show, twins Skyquake and Dreadwing seem to be a pair. Skyquake carries himself like a gladiator, takes absolutely no crap from Starscream, and is quick to attack the Autobots. Dreadwing has an noticeably cooler temperament than his brother and employs more sophisticated weapons and tactics.
Revenge Before Reason: Arcee's obsession with defeating Airachnid to avenge Tailgate's murder. In "Partners", this also extends to Starscream for Cliffjumper's death, and she nearly crosses the line by killing him in cold blood, but snaps out of it in time.
In "Orion Pax, Part 2", when Bulkhead and Ratchet try to hide who they got their info from, they're surprised at how nonchalantly Arcee deduces it's Starscream, despite their fears that she would fly into an uncontrollable rage finding out that they actually accepted Starscream's help.
Arcee seems to have backslid a bit by "Crossfire" when she breaks ranks and attempts to go after Airachnid on her own and would have gotten killed for it had Starscream not come to her aid.
She shows enough restraint in "Armada" to let Airachnid get locked into stasis, though she admits that it was difficult to hold back.
Reverse The Polarity: How they blow up Megatron's space bridge; reversing the power flow causes it to overload, destroying the whole thing. Although there is an attempt at justification, as energon is naturally volatile and what they do seems to be something like crossing positive/negative currents.
The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Originally, the Decepticon uprising was one based on the desire for freedom. Since then, Cybertron was made uninhabitable, its supreme leader cares more about himself and screwing over his enemies than making it a better world; and most Decepticons are savage thugs, with only a few having anything resembling honor, and the rest simply being a more sophisticated brand of thug.
The Thirteen Original Primes left behind a few descendants. Prima's lineage is recognised by those who possess a "Primian polarity", among whom Optimus is included. And Amalgamous Prime is ancestor to the "shifter" breed, which includes Makeshift.
One that actually is mentioned in-series, and is plot-relevant at the same time, are Skyquake and Dreadwing. Dreadwing is Skyquake's twin brother, come to avenge his death. It also lets them use a Palette Swap instead of making a new CGI model.
Running Gag: "I needed that!!", said by Ratchet in regards to whenever anyone damages something he needs.
Fowler showing up to help out, saving an Autobot's hide, and getting his plane/helicopter scanned by the 'Con who had no means of escape.
Sacrificial Lion: Cliffjumper. Originally billed alongside the main robots, his death is referenced repeatedly during the initial five-episode pilot, and the possibility of him being alive drives most of the plot in the second episode. He gets mentioned every so often by the other Autobots as they are worried about future casualties and he gets a flashback episode in the second season. Lastly Starscream gloats about killing him every 5th episode.
Breakdown is a rare villainous example. His death at Airachnid's claws shows she's playing for keeps about deserting.
Save the Villain: Subverted in "Rock Bottom". They're not willing to kill the bad guys in cold blood, but aren't going to bother rescuing them, either.
Megatron does a variant on a tradition: usually, when Megs discovers 'Screamer's betrayal, he'll bellow "STAAAAARSCREEEEEAM!!" and you know payback is going to ensue. In this series, when Megatron's body is finally restored and his spark restored to it, he immediately opens his eyes and whispers "Starscream." He then goes on to mercilessly punish him.
The death of Breakdown. Airachnid moves in for the kill and the camera cuts away to a distant part of the forest and the reaction of some crows as Breakdown screams.
Also, the death of the final Starscream clone. Subverted in that since Starscream feels his clones' pain, it's actually him screaming as his kills the clone. Starscream takes aim... and we fade to black. However, just before credits roll, we hear BOOM! followed by "AAAAAARRRRRRGH! Scrap, that hurt!"
Before that, Starscream had another when MECH stunned him in order to steal his T-cog.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here: In "Partners", Starscream first decides he's had enough of Megatron's mistreatment, then tries to join the Autobots, but after Arcee attempts to kill him, he declares he no longer has any allegiance and serves only himself.
In "Crisscross", Airachnid abandons her attempt to kill Jack and Arcee when Fowler and his troops show up, outgunning her.
Smokescreen:(spots the stasis-locked Airachnid) Woah, what kind of relic is she?
Jack: The kind you don't want to mess with.
Series Continuity Error: The Decepticon fortress created in the second season finale was originally dubbed "New Kaon" by Megatron, but later called Darkmount. It could be a difference between the land and the building itself but it isn't clear.
Send In The Clones: Starscream does this with five clones of himself. Unlike Transformers Animated though, they aren't that distinct from each other, which probably contributes to why they come within a few seconds of actually terminating Megatron if Airachnid hadn't chosen to attack as well.
Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Happens briefly to Bumblebee when MECH steals his T-Cog, the organ that allows Cybertronians to scan alternate modes and transform. He doesn't take it well.
The same thing ends up happening to Starscream. He doesn't take it well either.
Ship Tease: The writers have made a few questionable dialogue choices in some scenes featuring Jack and Arcee. Just look at Jack when he first meets Arcee (who was disguised as a motorbike); if he talked and behaved that way to her robot form, he'd come across as quite The CasanovaRobosexual. Also, there was his heartfelt confession to Arcee that ''she was his first... bike."
Considering what June said when she found out that Optimus Prime wasn't around makes you wonder if it runs in the family.
To be fair, a lot of people are like this towards their car/bike. Making the vehicle into an actual woman just puts a whole new connotation into it.
Ratchet: The gauntlet may be our best solution for your current... attraction. Miko: Ugh! They're not attracted to each other!
She turns the tables on Jack in Plus One, when Arcee and Wheeljack got off on a mission together.
"Convoy" has a few sweet moments between Jack and Miko. She even holds his arm and, well, he tried to sweetly say goodbye.
And then the Season 2 finale "Darkest Hour" has them all being separated by necessity. Mounted on Arcee, Jack gives Miko a brief glance, and she from inside Bulkhead looks towards him almost longingly, her hand against the window as Bulkhead drives off. Even if you see it as merely platonic, it's like she's trying to take in some reassurance - as much as she'd be annoyed by Jack at times, he's always protected her and Raf like a big brother, and they don't know when they might see each other again.
Miko absolutely glomps Jack when they reunite in "Prey"...then jokingly punches him in the gut and calls him a "weakling".
As of the end of the season, there seem to be a few hints of an attraction between Agent Fowler and June Darby. Most noticeably, he gave her a gigantic bearhug when Unicron was defeated.
"Plus One" plays it for maximum effect.
Ship Sinking: An nasty example in "Crossfire", in which Breakdown, who admitted to being "intrigued" by Airachnid in "Stronger, Faster", has no problem trying to kill her on Megatron's command. Nor does it save him from being brutally murdered by her.
Neither do any of them appear in the incredibly complex and dark episode Crossfire. Except some MECH grunts who salvage Breakdown's corpse.
Jack is the only human to feature in "Predatory," and by the end of the episode, he's left behind his clown status.
In "Loose Cannons", the only human to feature is Agent Fowler, the more serious of the main five humans.
Shout Out: When Arcee meets up with Jack after he's seen that Cybertronians exist, he tries walking away from her while saying "I get it. The first rule about Robot Fight Club is that you don't talk about Robot Fight Club."
In "The Human Factor", Breakdown!Silas' revival sequence bears quite a resemblance to that of Frankenstein's Monster. His request of "take me to your leader" is also a nod to early sci-fi movies involving aliens arriving to Earth.
Starship Troopers again: the Insecticons in bug form resemble the razor-winged air support bugs.
Fowler refers to the wing of jets he's leading to destroy Darkmount as Sky Strikers.
The truck Fowler brings for Optimus to scan for his new vehicle mode is said to be an "experimental vehicle designed by our M.A.S.K. division."
And let's not forget how he rocks out to The Touch on his way home from work in Nemesis Prime.
The tunnels within Unicron bear a strong resemblance to those in Xenomorph hives.
The Vampire-Terrorcons in the Episode Thirst are virtually identical to the Reavers in Blade 2 when their lower jaws split open and their tongues strike out like hideous serpents to suck the energon from their victims and turn them into more Vampire Terrorcons.
Shown Their Work: The train in "Convoy" is surprisingly accurate. The Mythos also get themselves some decent references, like Bumblebee being hooked up to an Electro-Pulse modifier, something mentioned way back in Generation 1, and only once.
The large radio antenna array in Ep 5 actually does exist in real life and it really is astronomically accurate.
The Silent Bob: Soundwave doesn't speak much, and so far, anything he "says" is a rather creepy recording of another character (complete with G1's heavily modulated voice). It seems to be a type of Evil Counterpart to Bumblebee's Cute Mute status. Most likely, the irony that someone called Soundwave is mute is intentional.
Simultaneous Arcs: "Tunnel Vision", "Triangulation", "Triage" and "Toxicity" all take place at the same time.
"Project Predacon" and "Chain of Command" also take place simultaneously, with Ultra Magnus, Bulkhead and Wheeljack being sent off on a mission during the former and actually seeing what happens in the latter.
Arcee provides one when Soundwave teleports her to the Arctic before she can recover Optimus/Orion from the Nemesis.
Megatron does one in "Orion Pax part 3" when the restored Optimus escapes with Jack and the Autobots.
Optimus, of all bots, does one in "Inside Job" when Starscream escapes with the Omega Keys.
Slasher Smile: Megatron, Starscream, and Airachnid are very good at these. Knock Out, of all bots, gets a chilling one in "The Human Factor."
The Smurfette Principle: Even though there are quite a number of female characters in the show compared to past incarnations, males still outnumber females by a large margin and are often the only female within their respective groups.
Arcee is the only female Autobot on Earth and the only female transformer among the main Autobot team.
Miko is the only female among a trio of human kids hanging around with the Autobots.
Airachnid is the only female Decepticon on Earth.
Solus Prime is the only female Prime.
Snark-to-Snark Combat: A favourite activity of Starscream and Knock-Out. It's easier to count the scenes when they aren't trading barbs like a pair of particularly passive-aggressive high-school girls.
So Proud of You: June, as she watches her son Jack grow from a child into a responsible adult and brave warrior in "Orion Pax, Part 3."
Space Is Cold: Averted. The Autobots have no problems in space, but the sub-zero temperatures in the Arctic are a major concern.
Space Is Noisy: Fails on this account, though. Starscream hears Megatron's voice and Soundwave's Deployer in space.
Spot the Imposter: Teased, but ultimately averted when Makeshift impersonates Wheeljack. Toward the end of the episode, they have a one-on-one fight, and the kids even say they've lost track of who's who... only for the real Wheeljack to win handily and toss Makeshift through the GroundBridge... with a bomb strapped to him.
Standardized Leader: To a certain degree, deconstructed. It's mentioned several times that Optimus is a very compassionate and noble leader, but he doesn't have much of a sense of humor and doesn't socialize, either. Arcee and Bulkhead have said it comes with the title of Prime, as such a responsibility weighs upon an individual. Ratchet notes that Optimus was much different before he became a Prime, and in fact compares him to Jack.
The Starscream: Like Bumblebee, it would be a crime if he weren't here. This incarnation appears to be a little less backstabby and more of a long-term plotter. He jumps at the chance to take control when the opportunity arises (such as Megatron being critically wounded after the miniseries), but he is generally too afraid of Megatron to openly oppose him. He alternates between actually being in control and plotting against Megatron behind his back. And in "Partners", he finally has enough and goes rogue.
Airachnid plans on taking command of the Decepticons, due to Megatron's absence. Soundwave is quick to veto.
Status Quo Is God: Optimus gets a game-changing advantage in "Legacy", so naturally it's nullified by the end of the next episode.
Stealth Pun: Right before being abducted at gunpoint by MECH, June is saying that as a parent, she needs to stick to her guns.
Optimus, as Bulkhead points out that he's never seen Optimus laugh, cry or lose his cool in all the time he's known him. However, Optimus is certainly warmer and allows a few rare smiles once in a while.
Super Cell Reception: Doubley subverted. When the kids are stranded in another dimension, they try using a cell phone to call for help, and while the call reaches the Autobots, there's too much interference for it to be legible. They try to get around this problem by sending a text message, which works.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: Raf and Miko try to lie to Optimus about how the other bots are trying to fix their problem getting involved with street racing and Knock Out. It evidently doesn't work, but it would be hard to lie to Optimus Prime.
Sword In The Stone: The Star Saber, which extends a protective energy field around itself and the rock it's embedded in. Only Optimus is able to remove it.]]
"The Immobiliser" has this effect on Cybertronians, doing Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Bumblebee fakes getting hit by it to take Airachnid by surprise.
Take That: In episode 3, Starscream actually says "Humans... always the weak link." Miko herself seems to be a Take That, as she's got all the traits of most hated human tagalongs that have infuriated fans over the years, and she irritates the in-universe characters just as much.
The show contains many to Transformers Generation 1, such as Starscream sneering at Knock Out when offered a Null Ray, G1 Starscream's signature weapon, to replace his missing arm. In Prey, while complimenting Bumblebee's inverted colour scheme, Arcee laments that were she to undergo the same procedure she would be pink, which was G1 Arcee's colour scheme.
The Teaser: The first Transformer series to have one.
Technical Pacifist: Played with: With Decepticons, the Autobots hold no restraints, but against human enemies, Optimus is adament on using minimal force. This still involves driving people off the road and crashing people's cars. Some are shown to survive but others are more than likely killed.
Optimus is only willing to harm Combat-class Decepticons, which means Labor-class ones such as Miners are also off-limits. Optimus also has a habit of trying to convince named Decepticons (barring Starscream and Airachnid) to change sides, even Megs himself, before and sometimes during combat.
Too Dumb to Live: No matter how many times Miko almost dies, she jumps right back into harm's way. She gets better during the second season.
Starscream in "Partners", left in handcuffs with a furious Arcee watching over him, trades stories about how much each of them hate Airachnid when he accidently lets it slip that he killed Cliffjumper.
Starscream: She showed up one day, and the next thing you know, she's acting like she runs the place! She whispered lies into Megatron's ear, manuevered to rob me of my rightful place. Arcee: Well, she terminated my partner. Starscream: What?!? She's taking credit for scrapping him now, too?!? That was my doing! Arcee: What? You weren't there. Starscream: Uh, of course I wasn't. I don't know what I was thinking. Arcee: Who are you talking about? Starscream: No one. Who are you talking about? Arcee: Tailgate. Stascream: Who's Tailgate? Arcee: You were the one... You extinguished Cliffjumper!
Ultimate Universe: Check out the Transformers Aligned Universe. The very basic intention of this series is to work off a very elaborate Universe Bible and that gives this series an internally consistent backstory that has been difficult to accomplish with the rampant continuity reboots. As such, various plot points within this series are taken from all aspects of the franchise and is not simply an updating of G1.
Understatement: Upon Optimus getting a new body that easily overpowers Megatron, all Ultra Magnus had to say was, "Sir? ...you look robust."
Likewise, Dreadwing and especially Skyquake are both loyal to Megatron, though Dreadwing's loyalty is initially overshadowed by his desire to avenge his fallen brother. He seems to have left this attitude behind at the end of his introductory episode. Or not.
Unobtanium: Dark Energon, by the time of this series, is an extremely rare substance. It's so rare that it took Megatron a three-year trip into deep space to find any, and characters who have experienced it before have no idea supplies even exist anymore.
And it turns out Megatron could gotten more Dark Energon than he could have ever possibly used just by digging deeper right here.
Next to that is Red Energon, which is probably just as rare to find.
Unusual Euphemism: Per Transformers tradition, various car parts are substituted for more inappropriate normal words. Arcee in particular seems fond of using "scrap" to stand in for a slightly shorter word.
Also, they may be using it as a substitute for the more classic Cybertronian curse "slag", as it's quite insulting in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Ireland.
"Frag" seems to be used on occasion as a stronger epithet. Which is logical, since a frag(mented) computer is a bad thing.
Useless Security Camera: In "Deus Ex Machina," Miko uses her phone to take a picture of the Energon harvester the kids are stealing, and then places it in front of the camera lens. The guard watching the screens barely blinks.
V Formation Team Shot: Averted in the opening credits due to the fairly large size difference between the characters. Instead they're arranged from smallest in front to largest in back.
Verb This: Skyquake's response to being told to bow to Starscream:
"Bow to this!" (punches Starscream into a canyon wall)
And in "Speed Metal", when Starscream tells Knock Out to forget about drag racing and focus on repairing Megatron (specifically, buffing out his body), Knock Out replies with "Buff this!" in a way very similar to flipping someone off.
Villainous Breakdown: In "Con Job", Starscream gets progressively less patient as Makeshift fails to report in. Then Wheeljack escapes and promptly kicks all of Starscream's soldiers' asses, in addition to laying a smackdown on Starscream himself. It all culminates in Wheeljack sending back Makeshift... who then explodes, due to the bomb hidden on him.
Another one occurs in "Out Of His Head" when Optimus Prime ruins Starscream's plan to thaw a glacier in the Arctic and begin mining a huge energon deposit. Starscream loses his cool and screams that Megatron's greatest mistake was letting Optimus live. And then Megatron comes back...
Megatron has one in "Orion Pax, Part 3" when his manipulations of Orion/Optimus start to fall apart and his plans go straight to hell.
Silas has one in "Nemesis Prime" when he realizes that Agent Fowler has successfully distracted him from the fight with Optimus; he starts panicing as he loses control of the fight, which ends with Nemesis being dropped on top of him.
Megatron has another one in "Rebellion" upon seeing the new and improved Optimus flying right at his fortress. His reaction is a brief moment of panic, followed by complete and utter rage.
Villainous Rescue: Toyed with in "Rock Bottom". When Bulkhead and Miko are found by Starscream, the entrance resembles a legitimate rescue, along with a prepared speech. Then Starscream realizes he's found the wrong person.
"Out Of His Head". Megatron inadvertently saves Optimus from Starscream's wrath... if only because he wants to kill Optimus himself, and because he is currently deciding whether or not to kill Starscream for his treachery.
Again in "Operation: Breakdown", when Starscream and a bunch of Vehicons show up just in time to drive off Silas and the MECH goons, saving Bulkhead and Breakdown... at which point Starscream orders Breakdown to kill Bulkhead.
MECH's at it again in "Operation Bumblebee" with Starscream, who appears to be helping them build an earthborn Transformer in exchange for his own supply of Energon.
Vocal Evolution: Frank Welker has purposefully reimagined his classic Megatron voice into something that's not quite as screechy, (some would say a voice that almost sounds ill) but more of a softer, controlled evil instead. As he has said, "More of an acting place..." Peter Cullen's voice has only become more dignified as he's aged.
"Hard Knocks: The last Iacon relic is... Smokescreen.
"Inside Job": Starscream steals the Omega Keys and returns to Megatron, using them as a "peace offering".
"Regeneration": If Megatron gets to the Omega Lock first and is the one to revive Cybertron, he winds up with an overwhelming political advantage. When things are finally in the 'bots favor for once, Megatron's posse shows up with the kids in tow, and threatens to expose them to Cybertron's toxic-to-humans atmosphere if they do not relinquish the Omega keys.
"Darkest Hour": Megatron gets the Omega Keys, activates the Omega Lock, and nearly cyber-forms Earth itself. Then, Optimus destroys the Omega Lock to prevent that from happening and cuts off Megatron's Prime arm. Disaster averted? Nope, turns out the Decepticons know where their base is and launch an assault that ultimately destroys it, forcing the Autobots to split up (kids included) as to evade capture while on the run and Optimus stays behind to ensure the 'Cons can't follow.
"Rebellion": The end of the first part of season 3: Ultra Magnus leads team prime against darkmount, with the intention of destroying it with the help of human jets. Unfortunately, due to heavy fire and the actions of the decepticon heads, the bots are all captured. Meanwhile, Optimus Prime actually joins with the all spark, but using the last jolt from the forge of solus prime, Smokescreen forcibly revives him, giving him a jetpack, his presence single handedly turning the tide, destroying darkmount, and putting the decepticons on the defensive.
Optimus: Agent Fowler, I do not believe that Earth became Unicron's home, but rather that, with time and gravitational force, debris collected around the slumbering titan. Ratchet: Forming your Earth, itself.
Optimus: Megatron, be gone! *beats the crap out of Megatron*
At the end of "Legacy", when Optimus is communing with the Star Saber:
Optimus: I am receiving a message. Ratchet: From who? Optimus: Alpha Trion.
Agent Fowler: In Jasper, Nevada? I don't get it, I already had the town evacuated. Why here? (Bumblebee points out The Nemesis floating towards them) Optimus: Because the Decepticons have discovered the location of our base.
Jack's given Bulkhead and Miko this treatment thus far.
Bulkhead: Location scan was incomplete. Oh well. Jack: Uh, "Oh well?" Seriously? Bulkhead: Fowler's a jerk! Jack: Whoa! Whether you like the guy or not, the Decepticons may have him!
Bulkhead gets this treatment from Jack again in "Speed Metal" when local bully Vince is taken hostage by Knock Out.
Bulkhead: Oh, well. Jack: Bulkhead! Bulkhead: What? I hear the guy's a jerk. Jack: No argument there, but Vince still doesn't deserve to be made into roadkill by a 'Con.
Ratchet (while under the effects of the synthetic energon) gets this when he tortures and tries to kill a Decepticon miner, who is a non-combat unit that was fleeing from the site of a battle. Then he gives one to Optimus for not defeating Megatron for good when he had the chance, and pointed out he had many chances.
June Darby also gives one to the Autobots for allowing the children to stay around them, which almost led to Raf's death, before taking Raf (and attempting to take Miko and Jack, who both refuse) away in "One Shall Rise, Part 1". Averted, though in that on the ride home, since June refused a GroundBridge, instead opting to drive back to Jasper, she and Raf are almost killed in a whirlwind caused by Unicron's awakening, but are saved by Bumblebee, who returns them to the base, where June comes around to the idea that the Autobots have been protecting the children. She still grounds Jack until he's twenty-five, though.
Wheeljack in "Hurt" and Smokescreen in "Legacy" receive this reaction from the other Autobots (both verbally and expressionally) for putting the children in danger.
Ratchet lays into Optimus for destroying the Omega Lock and their best chance at restoring Cybertron, though it's clear it's less about Optimus than his need to vent his frustration.
Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Played with, it's implied that when an exhausted Megatron is at the mercy of Optimus he was going to take him captive, only for Optimus to aim his ion cannon and prepare to execute him. But there is just enough hesitation for Dreadwing and the Vehicons to pull a Big Damn Villains.
Constantly averted with Arcee who spares both Starscream and Arachnid. Although she did attempt to take out a comatose Megatron, so she does make some exceptions.
Wild Card: Wheeljack. He's an Autobot through and through, but he's used to operating as a Wrecker with no chain of command but your own team.
World Building: Every episode is trying to build up this incarnation by constantly referring to previous events, characters and other things that are common knowledge to them but unknown to the human characters. In that regard, they sort of act as The Watson.
"World of Cardboard" Speech: After Megatron almost kills Raf with Dark Energon, Optimus finally decides that he has allowed the war and Megatron's life to continue far longer that he ever should have, and immediately resolves to rectify this mistake:
Optimus: I have been foolish not to see what history has proven over and over again. That Autobots and Decepticons will never mend their ways. If there can be no diplomatic solution to this perpetual conflict, then I must not allow more darkness to fall upon this or any planet. Megatron must be destroyed!
Wolverine Publicity: Cliffjumper. For all the advertising he gets, he dies in the first episode, gets resurrected as an energon zombie, then dies again immediately.
Would Hurt a Child: The Decepticons certainly have no problem in endangering any of the children. Megatron nearly kills Raf in "One Shall Fall".
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Averted. Arcee and Airachnid get in as many fights as any of the boys. Sometimes against the boys.
Wreathed in Flames: Starscream briefly does this when he gives himself a Dark Energon upgrade.
Wrecked Weapon: Both times Optimus fought Megatron one-on-one ended in his arm-blade getting broken off. It ends no differently the third time with the Star Saber. The next couple times end better for him, though.
Wrestler in All of Us: Miko uses some pretty fancy wrestling moves on Starscream and two of his Seekers when she dons the Apex Armor in Chain of Command.
Wrong Genre Savvy: Optimus in "Darkest Hour." He stays behind after the base is evacuated to destroy the Ground Bridge and ensure the Decepticons cannot pursue his teammates. Too bad Megatron opted to obliterate the base rather than than capture it...
In "Rock Bottom", Megatron reveals that he's been aware of Starscream's acts of betrayal from the beginning, but didn't do anything since he found Starscream's string of failures amusing. However, now he's had enough, so he's going to kill him. Fortunately for Starscream, at this point, Jack and Arcee stumble onto the cave, and Megatron turns his attention to them, allowing 'Scream a chance to escape.
In "The Human Factor", Silas, having been installed into Breakdown's body by his men, kills them all because he feels his place is among the Cybertronians. Then Megatron does this to him after the Damocles satellite Silas offered is destroyed, giving him up to Knock Out for dissection.
You Said You Would Let Them Go: Jack uses this when Airachnid refuses to let his mother go after he reaches her in the time limit. Airachnid points out that the deal was to save her, not just find her.
Bulkhead tries to do this to one of Starscream's clones in "Armada", saying that he and Ratchet fixed him up when he was in trouble, twice. Starscream points out that they only bothered to help him after he gave them useful information.
Starscream tries this on Optimus in "Triangulation", pointing out that he had helped restore Prime's memories among other things. Optimus points out that Starscream only did that to further his own agenda. Starscream doesn't deny it.
Your Head A Splode: When Megatron needs to wrap up his fight against Unicron's giant-size simulacrums to catch a Ground Bridge, he does it by power-diving, in 'normal' form, through one's head.
You Shall Not Pass: Ratchet, Bulkhead, and Bumblebee pull this on Megatron in "Orion Pax, Part 3" keeping him from getting through the space bridge while Jack and Arcee are retrieving Optimus' memories from Vector Sigma. A similar moment occurs in the five-part pilot, with the team taking their stand at the threshold of the space bridge.
Your Size May Vary: Size-accuracy has never been a big deal in Transformers media (the exception being the Bay movies) and it's still shaky in Prime. Still, it's a considerable improvement on the mass-shifting and scale issues of G1. Megatron doesn't run around transforming into a gun, Optimus is just the rig of a truck and lacks the box (except when specially attached), Soundwave is a plane, and he doesn't have half-a-dozen tapes living in his chest; just the one (Laserbeak). Arcee, however, is a major offender, with her vehicle mode (a motorcycle) being approximately the size of her robot mode's calf.
Planet issues are improved on. Unicron is the core, not the planet itself, and we see only manifestations of him (which vary in size) and his optic - which is about the size of a small town.
Zerg Rush: Unicron can make many copies of himself out of the Earth.
The Insecticons did this to Megatron's ship before the Decepticon leader regained control of them.