If you're looking for the live-action movie series, see Transformers Film Series. For the original Generation One animated film, see The Transformers: The Movie.
For more information, you might want to consult the Transformers wiki, TFWiki.net. Its informality is similar to that of TV Tropes.
A long-running franchise consisting of dozens of toy lines, many Animated Series, quite a few Comic Books, and a series of live-action movies. Reduced to its simplest terms, Transformers is the story of an eons-old battle between two factions of a race of sentient Transforming Mecha, usually called the Autobots and Decepticons, whose battles frequently take them to Earth. Traditionally the Autobots transform into civilian automobiles, while the Decepticons transform into military hardware, though this distinction has grown less obvious over time.
Considering its origins as a toy line, the franchise is highly Merchandise-Driven, each incarnation serving to pimp a line of transforming toys. The original toy line sold in America came about when Hasbro imported several disparate Japanese toy lines, primarily Takara's "Diaclone" from 1980 and "Microchange" lines from the "Microman" toy franchise of 1974-84. The piecemeal origins of the individual toys are largely responsible for the enormous disparity in scale and style of the early toys, as it paired regular road vehicles, large military gear and household items together. When brought in as a single toy line, they were given the Transformers brand and established the "sapient robot" aspect of the story.
After the original toy line, further incarnations were designed specifically for the mega-hit Transformers brand, creating a more internally-consistent style, though still with inappropriate sizes between toys. At any given point there might be three distinct toylines for the franchise depending on the companion media of the time, while the broader "Generations" and "Masterpiece" lines reimagine classic characters with more modern, advanced and sometimes pricier versions.
Recurring character archetypes of note across the various series include:
- Optimus Prime: The Leader of the Autobots and known as Convoy in the Japanese dubs (though occasionally referred to as First Convoy or Shodai Convoy when around other characters named Convoy). In the original cartoon continuity he appeared to be the supreme leader of all Autobots by a sort of divine right and was shown to have the "Matrix of Leadership," a mystical artifact that has been passed down for generations of Cybertronian leaders. Some incarnations have him merely being supreme commander of the military (this was the case in the original Marvel comics until his civilian superiors were massacred) or simply in command of a small force as opposed to the whole faction. Optimus Prime is often portrayed as a conflicted pacifist shouldering the burden of military leadership. His typical alternate form is some sort of heavy vehicle like a semi-truck or a fire engine. His impact was so great that many leader-type characters take cues from him, such as having a trailer attachment, a faceplate and a heroic red, white and blue colour scheme. Even his counterparts in the Beast Era like Optimus Primal (a gorilla), Lio Convoy (a lion) and Big Convoy (a woolly mammoth) have design elements from him despite the very different alternate modes.
- Megatron: Leader of the Decepticons. He is often a megalomaniac whose thirst for power is unmatched and orchestrated the civil war when the Autobots wouldn't just accept him as their leader, though some versions of him invoke He Who Fights Monsters or Fallen Hero. Often portrayed as one of the most powerful Decepticons alive, but usually mad and brilliant at the same time. His original form was a Walther P38 pistol modeled after the variant created for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. note . In later versions his alternate mode usually takes on the form of a tank or heavily armed air vehicle (jet, helicopter, etc) and if the toys feel nostalgic they make a "futuristic" (i.e. Nerf-inspired) pistol. Many of his incarnations are rebuilt into a more powerful form and renamed Galvatron, though this isn't a hard and fast rule. His counterparts in the Beast Era took the form of a Tyrannosaurus rex (also named Megatron), a triple-changer who had both dragon and drill-tank modes (who named himself Galvatron in the original's honour) and three separate ancient reptiles that combined into a single robot (named Magmatron, who was also a Noble Demon).
- Bumblebee: A young Autobot with kid appeal, he's usually the closest with their human allies and/or has a childish, exuberant personality. His role is the Autobot scout and he is entrusted by Optimus for some of their most vital missions. The exact character himself has been left out of a lot of media (until the movie made him popular again) but expies of him include Hotshot and Cheetor. His combat prowess differs (the original Bumblebee wasn't much good in a fight, while Movie Bumbleebee is a effective and deadly warrior), but his courage is nearly always unquestionable. He's almost always bright yellow and traditionally transforms into a VW Beetle or other smaller vehicle (like a hatchback), but (again, from the movies) a muscle car has gained acceptance. As long as it's yellow.
- Starscream: Megatron's lieutenant. Starscream is treacherous, vain, arrogant and whiny, and is quick to seize power when the opportunity arises. The only reason he is tolerated is because he is generally a powerful warrior and often the Decepticons' best flier. If he ever does acquire power his success tends to range from absolute failure to reasonably competent, though even at his most successful he's nowhere near as dangerous and diabolical as Megatron can be. Starscream always transforms into a jet fighter of some kind and always high-ranking if not actual second-in-command. His relationship to Megatron can vary greatly from patiently learning all he can before making his move to taking advantage of any opportunity to take power to a formerly loyal subordinate abused into hate to (rarely) Undying Loyalty. Of course, like Bumblebee, the exact character doesn't always show up but his character archetype has so many examples in this franchise he's his own trope.
- Primus: In the later series, the effective "god" of all Transformers: their individual sparks were split off from Primus. Depending on the incarnation, he varies in how directly he takes a role in a story. Sometimes he is directly leading the heroes and in others he is merely a mythical god. He originally showed up in the UK Marvel comics before being imported to the US line and, eventually, other continuities altogether. His name is often used as an Unusual Euphemism for God. In some continuities, he's linked to the Transformer-creating computer Vector Sigma, from Generation 1. In others, he is the actual Planet Cybertron. Though other characters may change between series, Primus and directly related characters are generally multiversal constants. Starting with Beast Wars, the Covenant of Primus became a multiversal Cybertronian bible.
- Unicron: A planet-eating giant transformer, sort of a Eldritch Abomination/Satan-esque counterpart to Primus. In The Transformers: The Movie, he is destroyed by Rodimus Prime using the Matrix, though his disembodied head continues to work its evil machinations throughout the third season of Generation 1. Unicron appears at the end of Armada, and is destroyed again, but is resurrected in Energon by Alpha Q, in an attempt to recreate its home planet (in this incarnation, Unicron is able to recreate anything it has consumed). Supplementary materials to the Transformers multiverse suggest that Primus and Unicron are incarnations of rival gods, born from the same The One. Though other characters may change between series, Unicron and directly related characters are generally multiversal constants. Incidentally, he has never been seen in the same room as Galactus.
And besides all of these, there are usually other members that fit into the Five-Man Band mold. Of the Autobots there is also usually The Smart Guy / The Medic (usually Ratchet), a HeelFace Turn member (mostly Jetfire), The Big Guy (usually Ironhide or Bulkhead) and/or, in more recent media, a Token Girl (Arcee or Windblade). For the Decepticons there is often an Evil Genius and/or Flunky Boss (Soundwave), a Wild Card (Shockwave, sometimes Starscream) and/or The Brute (Devastator).
Tech Specs! FUNCTION: FRANCHISE
"Freedom is the right of all sentient beings."
The Transformers franchise has known the following incarnations in television, anime, film, and comics:
Note: Descriptions here are to be kept brief; for detailed information, see the individual series pages. Please do not apply formatting to the bulleted titles, as this screws up the indexing.
Generation 1 continuity family
The saga that started it all, Generation 1 specifically refers to the base story of the Autobots' and Decepticons' war and their leaders, Optimus Prime and Megatron, crashing on prehistoric Earth. Back on Cybertron, the war came to a very uneasy stalemate because of their missing faction leaders. It isn't until their return that the war begins again. Other than that, between the various series and comics there is little that is consistent.
- Transformers: Generation 1 premiered in 1984. It involved Autobots and Decepticons crashing on prehistoric Earth and remaining in stasis until they were revived by an erupting volcano in 1984. To blend in with their surroundings, they took on the forms of common Earth vehicles and other machines. It consisted of:
- A cartoon, running from 1984 to 1987.
- The Transformers: The Movie (1986). The film of the series, coming between the second and third seasons of the cartoon. The timeline jumped to to futuristic 2005 and Optimus Prime and most of the original Autobots were killed off, passing the torch to a new generation led by Rodimus Prime. The movie featured the voice talents of Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack (Of The Untouchables, Airplane! and Unsolved Mysteries fame) and Eric Idle, as well as the last screen performance of Orson Welles (as the first on-screen appearance of Unicron, a Transformer the size of a planet).note
- Scramble City, an OAV originally released only in Japan, though a version was included on the 25th anniversary DVD of the animated movie in the United States (only the visual portion, though, as Toei refused to license the audio portion, and an English dub is out of the question because half the original cast is deceased). It focused on the mix and match aspect of the combiners, as well as introducing Metroplex, Trypticon and some of the movie characters, as the movie itself wouldn't reach Japanese shores until 1989 (thus causing several characters killed off in the movie to appear alive and well in the Japanese-exclusive G1 cartoons).
- A comic published by Marvel, running from 1984 to 1990
- Transformers Generation One, a revival published by Dreamwave between 2002 and 2004
- The Beast Within, a two-part comic included with Metrodome's 2004 DVD sets of The Transformers
- G.I. Joe vs. the Transformers, a quadrilogy of comic book miniseries crossing over Transformers with G.I. Joe published by Devil's Due Publishing.
- A comic published by IDW, published since 2006; as of 2016, it's part of the Hasbro Comic Universe. Notable stories include:
- The Transformers -ation, a group of mini-series that started the continuity.
- The Transformers: Maximum Dinobots: Simon Furman's last miniseries on his run.
- All Hail Megatron
- The Transformers: Drift: Dealing with the origins and adventures of Drift.
- Last Stand of the Wreckers
- The Transformers (IDW): The monthly series which lasted from 2009 to 2011.
- The Transformers: Autocracy: A mini-series retelling the days just prior to the start of the Great War.
- The Transformers: Monstrosity: A follow-up mini-series to Autocracy.
- The Transformers: Primacy: Sequel to Monstrosity.
- The Transformers: Robots in Disguise: One of the main Ongoing series.
- The Transformers: Punishment: A one-shot that starts the seeds of upcoming Combiner Wars event.
- The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye/Lost Light: The other significant Ongoing Series.
- The Transformers: Dark Cybertron: The crossover event for More than Meets the Eye and Robots in Disguise.
- The Transformers: Windblade: Mini-series following the aftermath of Dark Cybertron as Robots in Disguise heads back to Earth.
- The Transformers: Combiner Wars: Another event for the Robots in Disguise book that will launch Windblade's sequel.
- The Transformers: Sins of the Wreckers: Sequel to Last Stand of the Wreckers.
- The Transformers: Till All Are One: Sequel series to Windblade.
- The Transformers: Titans Return: Another series wide event for the Transformer ongoings.
- The Transformers: Unicron: The end of the first IDW continuity.
- Transformers: Regeneration One: IDW's continuation of the Marvel continuity, beginning in 2012.
- Revolution (2016): New event for the fall of 2016, establishing a Shared Universe between the various Hasbro/IDW titles including G.I. Joe, ROM, Action Man, M.A.S.K., Micronauts (IDW) and Jem and the Holograms (though the last one won't being showing up in the crossover proper).
- Revolutionaries: Spinning out of Revolution, this crossover series teams Kup and Blackrock with Action Man and the G.I. Joe Mayday.
- Rom vs. Transformers: Shining Armor: Rom meets the Transformers after he raises an orphaned protoform into a new Space Knight.
- G.I. Joe (2016): Skywarp is a member of the Joes. Yes, really.
- Transformers vs. Visionaries: Science and magic clash when the mystical Visionaries descend on Cybertron.
- Transformers: Deviations: A comic book one-shot telling a What If? story where the events of The Transformers: The Movie occurred without Optimus Prime dying.
- Transformers: Devastation: A video game closely based on the original cartoon.
- Prime Wars Trilogy: A web series by Machinima to tie into the Combiner Wars toyline
- Transformers: Earth Wars: A mobile game detailing the Autobots and Decepticons battling for domination over Earth, which somehow became the resting place for a number of powerful relics.
- Transformers (2019): The second IDW continuity.
- IDW Crossovers — A series of self-contained crossovers that are not canon to the other comic series.
- Mars Attacks: The Transformers (2013)
- Transformers vs. G.I. Joe (2014-2017)
- Angry Birds Transformers (20142015)
- Star Trek vs. Transformers (20182019)
- Transformers/Ghostbusters (2019): Set in IDW's Ghostbusters comic canon, a rookie Autobot scientist is recruited into the paranormal investigators from New York while pursuing Starscream's ghost.
- Transformers vs. The Terminator (2020): The Robots in Disguise take on other Robots in Disguise in a miniseries jointly published by IDW and Dark Horse Comics.
- My Little Pony/Transformers: Friendship in Disguise! (2020): Crossover with the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (aka G4 of the franchise.) Again, yes, really.
- Transformers/Back to the Future (2020-2021)
- Mazinger Z vs. Transformers: A one-shot crossover manga with Mazinger Z. The plot involves the Autobots and the Decepticons being sucked into a space-time warp, and ending up in the Mazinger Z universe.
- Transformers '84: IDW's one-shot prequel to the Marvel continuity from 2019.
- Transformers '84: Secrets and Lies: a miniseries serving as a sequel to the one-shot.
- Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy
- Transformers: Generation 2: The cartoon series Generation 2 was simply selected G1 episodes with some CGI added. The associated comic ran for 12 issues, while the manga lasted far longer.
- Transformers: The★Headmasters, an anime continuation that ignores the last season of G1, the three-part "Rebirth" story.
- Transformers: Super-God Masterforce, another anime, continuing on from Headmasters.
- Transformers Victory, a third anime, continuing from Masterforce.
- Transformers Zone, which was basically a series of illustrated text stories. Followed by Return of Convoy and Operation Combination.
- Kiss Players (2006-2007) was a short-lived incarnation of the franchise, depicting Transformers given power-ups when kissed by human girls. It consisted of a toyline, a weekly radio drama series, and a three-issue manga by Yuki Ohshima. It was universally reviled by both Western and Japanese fans for sexualizing young-looking girls.
The Beast Era is a break from the usual presentation, featuring Transformers with animal altmodes instead of vehicles, and Maximals and Predacons replacing Autobots and Decepticons. It is in continuity with the Generation 1 family, but the toys and fiction are distinct enough to be considered on their own. IT stands as probably being the era that is the most different from the original series.
- Beast Wars (1996) was animated in CGI and produced by Mainframe Entertainment, famous for the first CGI television show, ReBoot. Treating the events of Generation One in Broad Strokes as historical legend, it featured a determined Maximal crew under the rookie captain Optimus Primal (who takes on the form of a gorilla) fighting a rogue band of Predacon criminals led by Megatron (who took on the name of the original Decepticon) on a prehistoric world. It also introduced several plot points that would go on to greatly influence future fiction, notably sparks.
- Beast Machines (2000), the direct sequel series to Beast Wars, was animated by the same company, and saw a return to Cybertron. This series aired on Fox Kids, as opposed to Beast Wars, which aired in syndication, though reruns began airing on FK shortly after Beast Machines started.
- Beast Wars II, a traditionally animated show set far into the future of Beast Machines but broadcast in Japan between the first and second series of Beast Wars to fill the gap while the second series was being dubbed. It is powered by slapstick and notably geared towards a much younger audience than the original Beast Wars.
- Beast Wars Neo, which continued after Beast Wars II and was broadcast between the end of Beast Wars II and the start of the second series of Beast Wars. The series was notable for having the leader of the team (Big Convoy, who became a woolly mammoth) actually resent being put into command by his superiors and undergoing Defrosting Ice Queen as the series progressed. Also unusual was the genuine respect between Big Convoy and his archenemy Magmatron (traditionally, any respect between the faction leaders tended to be grudging). There are fandubbed episodes of this series and Beast Wars II at TFCog.net
Robots In Disguise
Transformers: Robots in Disguise started the trend of Hasbro creating a new line of Transformers toys and backstory, then rebooting the property with a new continuity about two or three years later; this has caused an explosion of independent continuities in the past decade. However, while RiD was originally intended to be a filler series — as the Japanese did not opt to import the poorly received Beast Machines for several years — it was very successful in western markets, though it was also intended as filler here because the successor line to Beast Machines, dubbed TransTech, was scrapped due to Hasbro's losses from the Star Wars: Episode 1 line and Beast Machines being less successful.
- Robots in Disguise (2001-02) rebooted the series continuity, with the Autobots facing off against their perennial rivals, the Predacons (the Decepticons in this continuity are a group of Autobots subverted by the Predacons). The first Japanese Transformers series to have major Western distribution. RiD is also notable due to several episodes of the series being pulled from American airwaves after the September 11th attacks, as they featured footage of collapsing buildings. Also the last new original animated series to air on Fox Kids prior to its demise.
The Unicron Trilogy
The Unicron Trilogy (2002-2006) was the next reboot and was intended as a full saga with an expansive toy line. It featured three anime series that were dubbed into English and aired on Cartoon Network. Each sub-series to the trilogy had a 'gimmick' that was always in the limelight.
The gimmicks for Armada toys were the Mini-Cons, micro-transformers who would activate lights, sounds and/or hidden weapons by plugging into the larger toys. Energon toys were "Powerlinxing" where every transformer of a certain size class could combine with another. Cybertron toys had "Cyber Keys" which were similar in function to to the Mini-Con gimmick. The general disinterest shown in these gimmicks by the fans has led to a reduced prominence in later toy lines, focusing more on what features they can do with the actual transformation instead.
Of note is that Cybertron was not intended as a sequel to Energon; the original Japanese Transformers: Galaxy Force took place in its own universe. Hasbro designer Aaron Archer had intended it to continue the earlier shows, so this is a case of conflicting sources. Interestingly enough, recent material released in Japan seems to have retconned Galaxy Force into the same universe as Armada and Energon.
- Armada also had a video game based off of it, which surprisingly actually turned out to be pretty darn good, in a rare aversion of The Problem with Licensed Games.
- Dreamwave also did a Unicron Trilogy comic. Armada focused on the plight of the Mini-Cons as born to serve the larger robots, then did an abrupt turn into the characters fending off Unicron. Energon had several ongoing plotlines, all of which were cut off when Dreamwave went bankrupt.
- In addition, a preschool-based Transformers series, Transformers: Go-Bots was released during this part of the franchise. It's usually considered as its own canon from the rest of the franchise.
- Transformers (2007) introduces the new continuity, featuring an origin of the Transformers in a mystical artifact known as the AllSpark, with the Autobots and Decepticons arriving on Earth and humanity having to learn which side are the good guys.
- The sequel, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) continues directly from the first movie, it delves deeper into Transformer mythology.
- The third film, Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) follows a new revelation dealing with further Transformer involvement in human history, with a story that arcs back to a Secret History involving the first moon landing in 1969 and finding the lost warrior and Optimus' mentor Sentinel Prime.
- Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), intended to be the start of a new trilogy with a new Myth Arc to it. The art design was changed dramatically (with completely new appearances for returning characters like Optimus and Bumblebee). The movie deals with a human conspiracy targeting Autobots and Decepticons alike, with a new enemy tied into Cybertronian origins setting its sights on Earth.
- Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), the final film directed by Bay, follows up where the last film left off with Cade Yeager learning that he and Viviane Wembly are destined to save the world from the coming of a threat from Cybertrons past. It was intended to be the launchpad for a full-on Shared Universe of films in the Bay continuity, but due to poor financial and critical reception, it ended up becoming the last of the original series of films.
- Bumblebee (2018) is a shake-up to the status quo. Though initially set to be within the main continuity, the poor reception of The Last Knight resulted in the film being retooled into a Lighter and Softer reboot with Travis Knight in the directors chair. The story is now set in the 1980s with Bumblebee, now sporting his G1 alternate mode, forming a friendship with teen girl Charlie Watson while hiding on Earth from the Decepticons. Though a reboot, it still carries over several aspects from the mythology of Bays movies, such as the presence of Sector 7 and Bumblebees muteness.
In addition to the movies, many other projects based on the movie-incarnation have been made.
- Transformers: The Game (Console)- a 2007 video game adaptation of the first Transformers film. It is divided into two campaigns focusing on the Autobots and Decepticons.
- Transformers: The Game (DS): The Nintendo DS version of the above game project. The Autobot campaign follows a rough adaptation of the film like the console game, while the Decepticon campaign tells an original story involving a power struggle within the Decepticon ranks.
- Transformers: The Ride - 3D, a spin-off attraction that can be found at the Universal Studios theme parks that once again is about a grand battle between the Autobots and Decepticons over the AllSpark.
- Arcade Series
- Studio Series: A toyline that began in 2018 that celebrates the decade's worth of movies with extremely movie-accurate figures of pretty much every major character, many of whom haven't had a new toy in a while.
IDW has done prequels, adaptations, and sequel comics for the movies. Titan Magazines also did a series based on the movie, with issues that initially fit around IDW's, much as Marvel UK did for Marvel US. As well as this, in the gap between the first and second film, Titan published a series set in an alternative timeline where the Decepticons won the battle of Mission City.
A new continuity and a dramatic new art style highlights this series. It is largely a throwback to the classic G1 while cementing a stronger canon and taking influence from newer series. This series ended up returning the franchise to its roots, being American produced with no dramatic changes to the core story and not trying to highlight any new toy gimmick (instead focusing on the transformation itself as the gimmick).
- Transformers Animated had its pilot in late 2007 to ride the popularity of the movie, and was the first American-written series since Beast Machines. This time the Autobot/Decepticon war ended years ago and Optimus Prime is only the commander of a small repair crew. Megatron hasn't been seen in years, but when they come across the AllSpark, this small team has to deal with the feared Decepticon, which eventually strands them on Earth.
Fun Publications Transformers continuities
Fun Publications has introduced multiple continuities of their own for the official fan club and conventions. These continuities are not very prominent compared to the others due to their relative inaccessibility, their stories mostly having only been released to convention attendees and fan club members.
- Transformers Classics is a splinter timeline to the original Transformers Marvel comic in which the events of Generation 2 and some other stories did not occur.
- Transformers: Shattered Glass takes place in a Mirror Universe where the Autobots are evil and the Decepticons are good; Optimus is a megalomaniac, Starscream is a loyal officer, Ravage is the embodiment of LOLCats, etc.
- Transformers: Timelines is the label which many of Fun Publications' Transformers stories are put under.
- Transformers: TransTech, a universe populated by highly advanced Cybertronians, apparently contains the only known version of Cybertron that never experienced a civil war.
- Transformers: Wings of Honor is like Classics in that it creates a separate timeline out of an existing one. In this case, it does so via prequel and sequel stories to the original Generation 1 cartoon, and contains some differences.
- Beast Wars: Uprising: A Bad Future where the Autobots and Decepticons, now too decrepit to move, have made the Maximals and Predacons to fight and die in their stead. Until their creations turn against them, and start a revolution.
Transformers Battle Universe
- Transformers Battle Universe is a Fighting Game in which the Matrix of Leadership gathers 10 heroes from Transformers: Generation 1, Beast Wars, the Transformers Film Series, and Transformers Animated in an Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny for possession of the Matrix.
The Transformers Aligned Universe was meant to establish a definitive multi-medium continuity for Transformers by cherry-picking the best aspects of past iterations of the franchise. It launched in 2010 with the video game Transformers: War for Cybertron and the corresponding Exodus book. The intention behind this set-up was to create a longer-lasting Alternate Continuity than the frequent reboots every few years in the 2000's.
- Transformers: Prime is a cartoon, animated in CGI, that premiered November 2010 on Hasbro's new Hub network. The Autobots are in hiding on Earth and combat the also-hidden Decepitcons, while also taking on the role of protectors for a group of three human children. The designs are strongly influenced by the complex Transformers Film Series look while retaining the more stylized approach of Transformers Animated. Peter Cullen and Frank Welker return as Optimus Prime and Megatron, making it the first Transformers series in which the two have reprised their roles together. The third season was subtitled Beast Hunters, and concluded in 2013 with a TV movie, "Predacons Rising".
- Transformers Universe was a video game largely based on this series. After being delayed time and time again, it was cancelled at the end of 2014 — after finally going into Beta testing.
- Transformers: Prime The Game is a video game with an original story that takes place during the animated series about a meteor made of pure Dark Energon containing an ancient warrior of Unicron called Thunderwing that falls to Earth.
- Transformers: Robots in Disguise (2015) is a confusingly named sequel to Prime aired in 2015. The art style is a blend of the Prime and Rescue Bots styles. Set some years after "Predacons Rising", for the first time the story doesn't focus on an Optimus or even a Prime, but upon the now speaking Bumblebee, who heads back to Earth on a mission from the 'dead' Optimus, only to be unwittingly joined by a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who he must lead to neutralise a Decepticon threat on Earth. As the series goes on, it becomes clear something sinister is going on behind the scenes...
- Transformers: Rescue Bots is a series taking Broad Strokes from the rest of the Aligned Continuity, while also being a Lighter and Softer series targeted towards preschool children. The series focuses on a rescue team of Autobots consisting of Heatwave, Boulder, Blades, and Chase, who work with a family of first-responders to aid people in trouble. Peter Cullen returns as Optimus Prime, but as a guest character, while the show focuses mainly on its characters. Its focus is primarily on safety education.
- A Sequel Series, Transformers: Rescue Bots Academy, premiered in 2019, featuring five recruits: Hot Shot, Whirl, Hoist, Medix and Wedge, who are trained by the original Rescue Bots to become heroes like them.
- Transformers: Go! is an animated series direct-to-dvd with the Samurai Team and the Isami Tatewaki to find Laserdiscs and awake more transformers.
- Transformers: War for Cybertron is a video game that dives into the basic history of the Autobot/Decepticon war and meant to be a stepping stone showing how that war finds its way to Earth. It takes major mythology points from various sources and re-presents them to the audience, setting up the greater franchise (such as why Starscream is The Starscream and how come Megatron doesn't just shoot him). It was built from the Unreal engine and was released on PC, Xbox 360,
Wii, DS, and PS3 in July 2010.
- Transformers: Exodus is partly a novelisation of War for Cybertron and partly a manual further explaining the backstory. Although it contradicts both the game and itself on a number of occasions, which leads to the majority of Continuity Snarls within this new franchise (Starscream was stated to be a dedicated scientist only for it to later state that he wasn't ever a scientist).
- Transformers: Exiles is a sequel novelization to Exodus showing what happened after the Autobots and Decepticons departed Cybertron. Their journey leads them to Cybertron's sister worlds and a great many secrets of their ancestors.
- Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is the sequel to War for Cybertron, including a heapload of new characters, as well as a Darker and Edgier plot.
Transformers LegendsA Japanese-exclusive toyline consisting of figures from multiple eras of the franchise's history. The line was promoted by a webcomic that can be viewed on the official Takara Tomy website, with Bonus Edition chapters included as pack-in comics that come with the toys.
After the Transformers franchise began releasing the Lego-like Kre-O construction sets, these have also began to develop their own fiction, and just like the sets are based on several iterations of the franchise, the fiction also bases its stories on a mix-and-match of versions, with a humorous touch.
- The Transformers Kre-O animated shorts use stop-motion without dialogue for one-minute gags. These were later replaced by the Think Like A Kreon shorts, which used a wider variety of Kre-O figures besides Transformers.
- The Transformers Kre-O webcomic, being made in Japan, is drawn in Manga style and features wacky humor and cameos of several fiction-only Kreons based on characters from all corners of the franchise.
Transformers: CyberverseIn 2017, Hasbro announced a series titled: Transformers: Cyberverse, which started in 2018. Hasbro also stated that each season is dubbed as a chapter, and focuses on the characters and lore of the Transformers Universe. It is likely yet another Continuity Reboot for the franchise, showing no ties to the Aligned Universe.
Transformers: BotBotsIn late 2018, banking on the success of Shopkins and other blind bagged franchises, Transformers: BotBots were released. Unlike other Transformers franchises, this line features a much more lighthearted and goofy take on the lore, with some odd alt modes, such as food and sports equipment.
Transformers: War for Cybertron TrilogyIn July 2020, Netflix released a new animated series, Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy, which was loosely based on the toyline subseries of the same name.
Several times, Hasbro has attempted to put transforming toys related to other lines under the Transformers umbrella. It didn't work out so well for the Animorphs, but the Marvel Universe and Star Wars ones have been better received. Takara also has gotten in on this, with the Disney Label (yeah, we dunno what possesed Takara either).
A scene change gimmick from G1 is a faction symbol wipe, if switching to the Decepticons to the Autobots the symbol will flip from Autobot to Decepticon, but it can also flip from Autobot to Autobot (for another Autobot scene) or Decepticon to Decepticon. Some incarnations have used a similar eye-catch and it has been parodied in many instances in modern media.
The franchise is the Trope Namer for:
- Autobots, Rock Out!
- The Bumblebee, since renamed Kid-Appeal Character.
- Hate Plague: It first appeared in the Generation 1 cartoon, and reappeared in a more virulent form in Beast Machines.
- Introdump: The term originated in the Transformers wiki.
- Kibbles and Bits: Off the fandom term for irrelevant alternate mode parts stuck on the robot form.
- Mode Lock, since renamed Shapeshifter Mode Lock.
- More Than Meets the Eye
- Ruined FOREVER: Named from a (/the) wiki for Transformers, mocking the way fans react as though every change will destroy the franchise.
- The Starscream
Other franchise-wide tropes:
- 90% of Your Brain: The book Project Brain Drain.
- Action Figure File Card: Many of the toys have had them.
- Adaptational Wimp: Certain characters get hit with this through the many different iterations:
- In the G1 cartoon, the Dinobots were nigh-unstoppable powerhouses, tearing through even Megatron with little effort, with the only foe that actually gave them trouble being Devastator. In the original comics, the five of them were curbstomped by Megatron early on.
- The strength of the Combiner gestalts tends to fluctuate throughout the franchise. In the G1 cartoon, they were powerful enough that entire squadrons of normal-sized Transformers couldn't even scratch them. In the original comics, they were still quite strong, but some of the more powerful singulars, such as Megatron or Galvatron, could take them down. In Robots in Disguise, they were treated much the same way as in the comics; Ruination in particular could be blown apart by the attacks of a single (albeit powerful) foe.
- In both the original cartoon and official tech specs, Trypticon was depicted as a city-sized Transformer with immense strength. His first appearance in the Marvel comics showed him as being barely twice the size of a regular Transformer, and he was almost overwhelmed by the Dinobots.
- Advertising-Only Continuity: Sometimes it's relatively minor, like a movie Jazz figure recolored as an homage to G1 Jazz being explained in his bio as having been revived by Ratchet, or Beast Machines quietly expanding the small band of surviving Maximals. Other times it's more complex, like how the early Beast Wars toys' bios set up the series as a direct continuation of G1 on modern-day Earth, with Optimus Primal and Megatron being the same characters as G1 Optimus Prime and Megatron (which would later be contradicted by the TV series). In extreme cases, such as the current Kre-O sub-line, on-package bios and commericals may be the only fiction available.
- TFWiki.net likes to invoke this when Hasbro applies the Transformers brand name to transforming toys made for a different franchise, such as Star Wars, which makes for amusing pages where the writer pretends to genuinely have no idea Darth Vader has been in anything else.
- The Ageless: Almost always applies to the Transformers.
- Though occasionally averted by characters whose schtick is that they're old fogies. Not only do they have the personality to match, but for some reason they're the only Transformers to physically age.
- Alien Among Us: Alien robots, but aliens nonetheless, the series has many elements of this plot.
- Alien Invasion: Technically, almost every series, but the 2007 movie and the IDW comics focus most on this trope.
- All Deaths Final: While it varies how much the franchise adheres to this trope, Transformers is notable for being one of the few children's series to often have characters be Killed Off for Real. As long as you're not a huge name person like Optimus Prime, than chances are if you die you stay dead. The comics are able to go even further with this since they're meant for adult fans.
- All Gravity Is the Same: The planet Cybertron, Depending on the Writer, is either bigger or smaller than Earth. Yet the Autobots' human (and even alien) allies have no trouble with the gravity there.
- All There in the Manual: Many characters have all or most of their characterization provided in toy bios or profiles.
- Alternate Continuity: Currently, 5 different "main" continuity lines. When you go into the comics, on the other hand,◊ talk about Continuity Snarl.
- This chart is also several years out of date.
- Here◊ is Japan's take with their continuities (yes, some shows are in different continuities in different countries). It's not any better.
- Ancient Keeper
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: The Dinobots, Insecticons, and everyone on Beast Wars are robot-alien variations of this trope.
- Later combining Decepticons (Predacons, Terrorcons and Seacons) also qualify.
- Anime Theme Song: Several in the cartoon series, whether Japan releases it first or dubs it after the US releases. More notable with Beast Wars II and Beast Wars Neo.
- Armies Are Evil: If a character turns into a military vehicle, like a tank or a jet fighter, they're probably a Decepticon. Autobot's with military vehicle modes exist, but they're nowhere near as common.
- Arms and Armor Theme Naming: The Insecticons have bomb-related names: Bombshell, Shrapnel, and Kickback.
- Ass Kicking Pose
- Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance: Not surprising, since they can choose their alternate forms, but each invariably picks a vehicle that suits them very well.
- Author Catchphrase: Furmanisms
- Awesome, but Impractical: The Dinobots. Even bigger robots that can turn into robo-dinosaurs? Awesome! Only problem is Transformers are Transformers (mostly) because they blend into Earth machines and since humans don't drive around in giant robot t-rexs this makes it a bit trickier to work in the Dino-bots. It is most likely why The Wreckers were made to be alternate heavy hitters.
- Awesome McCoolname: Take a minute to look at some of the names that aren't nouns, verbs or proper names. Optimus Prime. Megatron. Starscream. Thundercracker. Skywarp. Grimlock.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Rhinox in Beast Wars and Bulkhead of Animated are both fairly gentle, if large transformers, but are also the ones to avoid getting angry.
- Bell-Bottom-Limbed Bots: The majority are examples, often with Kibble attached to their lower arms, while upper arm Kibble usually turns into Shoulders of Doom detached from the arm. In toys with this, it's Justified since it's literally impossible to have the upper arm bigger, if the shoulder pad and upper arm are supposed to be flush with the lower arm when transformed.
- Big Bad: Mostly Megatrons, but the Marvel comics gave Shockwave and other Cybertronians chances to gloat. More recently, Overlord as seen in IDW's The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers might also qualify.
- Big Damn Heroes: Take your pick of series or characters. Inverted in the 2007 movie when Starscream shows up and beats up Ratchet and Ironhide, stopping their protection of Sam in what could be called a "Big Damn Villains" moment.
- Big Good: Optimus Prime in any adaptation.
- Prime is ever so slightly outranked by Primus.
- Black-and-White Morality: Autobots are good, Decepticons are evil (except in Shattered Glass, where it's the other way round).
- Though in Transformers Animated some of the Autobots are selfish, corrupt, or incompetent, though not in the main cast. Sentinel Prime,we are looking at you. Likewise, while "sympathetic" might be stretching the portrayal of the Decepticons as a whole, they are at least clearly motivated (most of them want to reconquer Cybertron, but some have other motivations).
- Many Transformers continuities play with and partially subvert the idea, going right back to the Marvel comic series in the 1980s. It is always with individual characters though so the trope is played straight for the overall factions even if the individuals within the groups don't necessarily all adhere. Also, the trope is played painfully straight whenever Unicron is involved, usually with "Unicron = BAD Those who fight him = good"
- Well Unicron is basically the cybertronion equivalent of Satan so it's not entirely unreasonable.
- The new book Exodus also establishes a whole lot of gray in the origins of the war and looks like a subversion, but later on plays this trope straight. Sort of.
- In the IDW comics Continuity, it is suggested that the conflict became this way over time. The Decepticons were once a rebel force rising up against the corrupt Senate, while the Autobots, who also believed in change, believed the change was moving too quickly and in the wrong direction.
- Bodyguarding a Badass: Optimus Prime (i.e. one of the most powerful of a race of giant, sapient Humongous Mecha) sometimes has a human military escort.
- Breakout Character: Several characters went on to become highly popular characters with larger roles.
- Swindle is one of the early examples, rising above his origins as a member of the Combaticons and into a prominent character in his own right, especially in Transformers Animated and IDW.
- Bumblebee went from being a B level (but still fairly prominent) character to being one of the faces of the franchise thanks to the popularity of the 2007 movie, and he even gets to headline a series with RID 2015.
- Several names became highly popular thanks to an original take on the character; among these are Slipstream, Bulkhead, Knock Out, Dreadwing, and Barricade.
- Among the Canon Foreigner's, Lockdown became a major supporting character in IDW and even the Big Bad of the fourth Michael Bay movie; Knock Out was basically copy-pasted to IDW, etc.
- Brother Chuck: Happens to many characters who aren't killed off when their toy is discontinued.
- Caged Inside a Monster: Many larger figures had storage for smaller figures, some of which were identified as jail cells or prisons due to Rule of Cool:
- The original Fortress Maximus figure had a jail cell concealed in its left leg. Given Fortress Maximus was a Cityformer, that makes sense. This likely inspired his characterization in the IDW comics as warden of a prison.
- Transformers Armada Megatron has storage for Mini-Cons. What makes it likely to be a prison is the fact that Megatron also has a capture claw for Minicons.
- From the same line, Unicron is filled with Minicon storage gimmicks. The animation makes it clear that the Minicons are not in there by choice.
- Cain and Abel: The franchise has Planet-sized, Transforming Mecha (that turn into planets) Physical Gods Primus and Unicron. Unicron is the Big Bad God of Evil Omnicidal Maniac seeking to destroy everything that isn't him. Primus is the Big Good who is completely loaded with BFGs and Wave Motion Guns seeking to thwart his brother. However, his trump card isn't any of that weaponry - it's the Transformers themselves. Unfortunately, they'd rather spend their time fighting each other.
- Canon Discontinuity: Every series has a few insane ideas that got ignored, like Unicron being the discarded science project of an alien monkey...
- Canon Immigrant: The Transformer "Spark" concept introduced in Beast Wars has continued and become a vital part of Transformers mythology.
- As far as characters go, Animated's Lockdown, Lugnut, and Bulkhead have crossed over into the IDW, Aligned, and Movie continuities - in particular, Lockdown serves as the Big Bad of the fourth film. IDW has recently began featuring a large number of Ensemble Dark Horse Canon Immigrants from Beast Wars, Robots in Disguise, Prime, and Animated.
- "Autobots! Transform and roll out!", among others.
- "Decepticons, transform and RISE UP!"
- Central Theme: How constructive and deconstructive it is to live by your principles. Every Autobot and Decepticon have personal mottos that they define themselves by, as well as the principles of the two factions - the Autobots stand for freedom and autonomy, while the Decepticons promote tyranny and deception - and both must live with the consequences of their ideologies, whether glorious or tragic.
- Character Outlives Actor:
- After Scatman Crothers fell ill shortly after the Movie, Jazz stopped speaking and eventually left the show completely. It wasn't too noticeable at the time, as the third season concentrated on the new characters, but it did stand out a little, considering that the movie had made a point of the fact that he was one of the few originals who had unquestionably survived.
- Roger C. Carmel's characters were simply recast.
- The Chew Toy: Four words: "Why universe hate Waspinator?!?"
- C-List Fodder: Issue #50 of the original Transformers comic featured Starscream on a killing rampage that culled older characters by the dozens. Victims included C-list characters like Gears and Buzzsaw, as well as popular ones such as Omega Supreme and the Predacons.
- The Collector of the Strange: Autobot Pipes collects interesting human knick-knacks.
- Also, in Cybertron, Shortround collects...Transformers toys. The "grails" of his collection? Generation 2 Defensor and Menasor. Two toys whose real-world counterparts were never produced (or at least never mass-produced) in full.
- Combining Mecha:
- The combiners, such as the Constructicons, Aerialbots, Stunticons, Destruction Team, etc. Some characters, like Sky Lynx, play with it a little - he's only one character, and can not only be either his "bird" or "lynx" form, but can also be both at once, working as a team, and can recombine them into a single form.
- The Double Powermaster named Overlord is a more literal example, as he is formed from a tank and jet combining and is an actual Humongous Mecha rather than a living character in his own right. He's controlled by the husband/wife team of Giga and Mega.
- Energon introduced the idea of Powerlinx combination, where any Autobot (of Deluxe or Mega class in the toyline) could form either the top or bottom half of a combined super robot. Any two appropriate characters could connect together using a universal connector clip.
- Lampshaded in the IDW comics, where Swerve points out the Decepticon's obsession with combination."Put two of 'em in a room and within seconds one will be standing on the other's shoulders. Fact.
- Continuity Snarl:
- Non-fans or casual fans have NO idea how crazy it's gotten for the Aligned universe since the release of Transformers: War for Cybertron, its accompanying prequel novel "Transformers: Exodus", and Transformers: Prime. For the record, all three of those media allegedly take place within the same continuity. It was later resolved that they are a closely related continuity family, meaning they each share a large number of events but are irreconcilable as a single timeline. Basically, it did not become the simple, universal subfranchise it was meant to, but came closer than anything before it. Rescue Bots and Robots in Disguise (the new one, not the old one) also introduce a few issues.
- Transformers Armada, Transformers Energon, and Transformers Cybertron are part of a larger metaseries called the Unicron Trilogy. However, Studio GONZO decided they didn't like the idea of making a sequel to another studio's cartoon, so they used the most basic points of the outline they were given to make a show that was largely written in-house. This meant that characters who knew each other were suddenly strangers and established concepts like combining (central to Energon) were suddenly foreign ideas in Cybertron. It was finally explained due to one very important plot point that was kept in - Alpha Quintesson's Energon sun collapsing into a black hole. Since that sun was made from Unicron's body, all the negative energy produced by the so-called Unicron Singularity was screwing up time and space due to his ability to jump from one universe to another. They went so far as to use it to write off any Plot Hole in any continuity of the franchise or any media that ever crossed over with it.
- Cool Car: Kind of a given, but the live action movie had to use real cars. Barricade in the 2007 movie is a Ford Mustang, Jazz is a Pontiac Solstice, Bumblebee is a 1976 Chevy Camaro who later becomes a 2008 Camaro, Revenge of the Fallen is showcasing a one-of-a-kind Concept Corvette that will not actually reach consumers.
- Cool Guns: Megatron's original altmode was a The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Walther P38 with stock, barrel extension and scope; the latter became his Fusion Cannon.
- Copycat Cover: Transmorphers, whose title also copied the classic font and was released just after the 2007 movie.
- Cosmic Retcon: The franchise, of course, has one of its own: the Unicron Singularity, which ripped and tore at the fabric of time and space in a way that essentially opens up a planet-sized plot hole just to make room for itself to fill it.
- The Unicron Singularity didn't exist as this at first, and it was transformed into one by the club comic writers to account for some (admittedly minor) inconsistencies between Transformers Energon and Transformers Cybertron. Mind you, these are only minor in comparison to the humongous plot holes that already populated the rest of the entire Transformers multiverse, which did not have such a black hole, though later media claims that its effects branch out to other universes as well, ergo it is both the cause of and solution to many errors in continuity (and even animation).
- There actually exists a Transformer, Vector Prime, who was tasked by Primus to protect the stability of the timeline - in other words, the number of plot holes in Transformers is so bad, it is actually an in-universe threat, and there needs to be someone to keep the holes and inconsistencies from destroying everything. He does his best to fix things (usually retconning them from outside the timeline to cover inconsistencies, but coming in person for tremendous holes like the Singularity) so presumably any inconsistency we see was simply recorded before he got around to it, and our media are ripple effect proof.
- The concept of the multiversal singularity (that is, characters of which only one exists in the entire multiverse, such as Primus, Unicron and The Fallen) was nullified by this - while at first it was gradual, with Ask Vector Prime claiming certain appearances of Unicron (such as the one in the original American cartoon continuity) were not part of the main singularity Unicron, the 2015 Fun Publications story "Another Light" had Nexus Prime solidify the walls between reality, limiting travel between dimensions and splintering all former singularities (such as Vector Prime and Nexus himself) into infinite selves across existence, as had been the case with many "regular" beings.
- Cut-and-Paste Translation: As noted above, the original toys were from two different Takara toylines that Hasbro had planned on importing into the US and selling. They created a whole new backstory to go with it. However, Takara loved the changes so much that they eventually dropped both original lines and imported the Transformers lore back into Japan.
- Cyber Cyclops: Shockwave's defining feature across continuities.
- Dark Lord on Life Support:
- After being heavily damaged in the pilot movie of Transformers: Prime, Megatron has to be attached to extremely large power cables just to remain in a catatonic state, leaving him very vulnerable especially with his subordinates threatening to unplug him. He eventually recovers.
- This is a common way for saving the big battle with Megs for a big moment. The movie keeps him frozen until the climax, and Animated keeps him a disembodied head until the first season finale.
- Another example came from Transformers Cybertron, where Megatron ends up in a life support bubble of some kind after having Atlantis, an ancient Cybertronian starship, explode with him aboard. He fully recovers several episodes later.
- Dark Reprise: A non-musical, cross-continuity version during Animated!Waspinator's last appearance. He speaks a line originally said by Beast Wars!Waspinator, but in a much less humorous, darker intonation.
- Death Is Cheap: Let's just say "destroyed" doesn't necessarily mean "dead" and leave it at that.
- Decepticon Scientists Get No Respect: You don't see many Decepticon scientists, outside of Shockwave. The number of named medics we've seen can be counted on one hand. That is, until we find out in Generation 1 and the Aligned continuities that Starscream of all bots is a scientist note . The comics then start introducing a number of medics, no actually get no respect because they "waste their time" patching up "weaklings" who had the audacity to get hit in a firefight. Then there are the Mad Scientists like Rossum, Vertibreak, and Vivisector.
- Demoted to Extra: The franchise is somewhat the reverse of many other examples on this page, in that a number of characters appear only in the toyline. That said, there's plenty of straight examples...
- Developing Doomed Characters: An endemic problem with the franchise is that the first installment - the 2007 film, Armada, Infiltration - will sometimes focus excessively on the less-than-likable Puny Humans and ease into the robots. Infiltration is a case of this backfiring spectacularly, with the humans' development inspiring enough annoyance and boredom that the next arc, Stormbringer, was advertised as "Nothing but ROBOTS on CYBERTRON!"
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: When Unicron is a robot Eldritch Abomination, they come across this trope in order to win.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Nearly all of the cast from the first two seasons is killed off during the movie, as well as Optimus and Starscream albeit temporarily.
- Beast Wars was sometimes almost careless with how they killed certain characters; a few times they were intended to be dead but Hasbro insisted they bring them back.
- Dub Name Change: Many examples, but some of the more notable ones here:
- Optimus Prime will usually be called "Something Convoy" in Japan (Optimus Primal is "Beast Convoy", for instance); Jet Optimus's first appearance in the English dub of Armada infamously referred to him as "Jet Convoy". Averted in the Japanese dub of Animated in order to fit the live-action movie... but it also changed Bulkhead's name to Ironhide for the same reason.
- Megatron/Galvatron's name is usually the same, but Beast Wars II reused the name "Galvatron" for an unrelated character, Car Robots (Robots in Disguise) originally called him Gigatron/Devil Gigatron, and Galaxy Force (Cybertron) called him Master Megatron/Master Galvatron.
- In US media, the Autobots from planet Cybertron fight the Decepticons. In Japanese media (except the Animated dub) the Cybertrons from planet Cybertron (pronounced differently) fight the Destrons.
- Dull Surprise: Pat Lee currently holds the dubious honor of providing its page image; his art is full of it.
- Energon is notorious for the extremely rigid facial models on its Cybertronian characters, leaving them with almost zero emotive capabilities.
- Dumb Muscle: The Dinobots, especially Sludge.
- Though that was because in the G1 cartoons, they were built on Earth, without Cybertron-built brains. The "GI Joe Vs. the Transformers" Dinobots were originally five totally Cybertronian Autobots who were time-warped to Earth's prehistoric age by Teletran 3, and given dinosaur bodies (with which they tore through Shockwave's Decepticons) as alternative forms. The following volume, had Grimlock talk in the familiar third-person speech we know him for, but he does learn to appreciate the Joes as valiant warriors... and "Good friends."
- Devastator in the original, Tidal Wave in Armada
- Dummied Out: Some of the Transformers's toys have the clear/translucent plastic for lightpiping in their heads painted over, disabling that feature. Others may have the vestiges for integrated weaponry, like missile launchers, but lack the springs or mechanisms for actually loading or firing them.
- Dysfunction Junction: Many of the Transformers, Autobot and Decepticon alike, are barely-functional piles of neuroses. The Stunticons (G1) in particular take the cake, as not only do most of them have severe mental issues, but they dislike each other so much (their commanding officer in particular) that their combined form of Menasor is often totally uncontrollable due to the mental schism.
- Eldritch Abomination: Unicron
- Emergency Services: Many autobots, and even decepticons, use emergency service vehicles as their alt modes. The Protectobots in particular are an entire subgroup made of them.
- Everything's Better With Dinobots: Later continuities have issue working the Dinosaur alt-modes into the story, but they're incredibly popular characters.
- Expository Theme Song: Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons! Transformers Cybertron has not only the regular lyrics, but also a monologue from Optimus Prime describing the show's basic premise.
- Expy: The franchise is constantly rebooted, technically making Optimus, Megatron, Starscream, etc. expies of about eight or so identically-named characters. And then, there are other examples:
- Hooligan from the G2 series is Skywarp in all but name and color. A dumb jetformer who is fairly powerful but only focused on pranks.
- One notable Expy is Breacher from the "Hunt for the Decepticons" toyline. He's an Expy for Roller, the drone in Optimus Prime's trailer. They're both six-wheeled blue (well... usually, when it comes to the toys) all-terrain vehicles with a black gun on top, and they're both designed to fit in the back of a larger figure. Then, a reversal for the Thrilling 30 subline of Generations: Optimus came with a new Roller whose vehicle mode was basically a blue six-wheeled APC, with a robot mode based directly on Breacher's.
- Eye Lights Out: Whenever a Transformer
- Faceless Masses: Many nameless background Transformer (or robots in general) characters have various designs (some resemble Soundwave or Prowl). Fans coined the term "generics".
- Fake Ultimate Hero:
- Sort of. Many of the Autobots' victories are because of their human allies.
- This was lampshaded by Beast Wars Megatron, who plots to exterminate the proto-human race and ensure the Decepticons will triumph over the Autobots. He would've succeeded if it weren't for his former right-hand man, Dinobot. That's right folks, a Predacon (therefore a descendent of the Decepticons) enabled the Autobots to win all those battles.
- Fauxrrari: In the Generation 1 days, a great many Transformers had alt-modes that were recognizable but slightly modified real-world vehicles, such as Optimus Prime (a Freightliner WFT-8664T with a different grill) and Jazz (a Martini Racing Porsche 935/76 whose decals read "Martinii"). This practice became less common as the franchise moved towards more fantastical vehicle designs, and by the time realistic vehicles were brought back Hasbro had started actually licensing them from manufacturers like General Motors. However, the occasional lookalike still pops up when such a license can't be obtained, as was the case with the toy of Optimus Prime's look in Bumblebee, which isn't a perfect match for the Freightliner seen in the film.
- Five-Episode Pilot:
- The original series was a three-parter called "More Than Meets The Eye".
- Animated started with a 170 minute movie that got broken into three parts for re-runs.
- Prime got an actual 5 part miniseries call "Darkness Rising".
- Fix Fic:
- There's rewriting The Transformers: The Movie and leaving out the Dinobots. How does that even work?
- There's also ignoring the movie (and Seasons 3 and 4) completely.
- Many fans are discontent with the Unicron Trilogy, and try to rewrite the entire series (yes, 52 episodes for each) to make it better fit with their sensibilities. This usually results in a fanverse that, but for the names of the characters, is absolutely nothing like the original shows. Keep an eye out for Darker and Edgier, elimination of perceived Scrappies, and the Decepticons as Always Chaotic Evil.
- Grimlock, who, in the original cartoon, goes from a "Brawn over Brains" thug to a mentally-challenged child between season 2 and The Movie.
- Starscream's cowardice and underhandedness often eclipse any kind of military or leadership skills he has, to the point where some incarnations of the character is so weak or incompetent that it's unbelievable that Megatron would keep him as his second in command.
- In the Aligned continuity (outside of the High Moon games), Optimus Prime has been criticized for not being a unique take on the character, usually just being The Stoic and there not being much to him besides being the Big Good who makes G1 quotes all the time. Peter Cullen is also being directed to use his "movie trailer narrator" voice all the time, denying the actor a chance to truly portray a full-rounded character. note Prime even went so far as to treat him as the Comically Serious.
- Five-Man Band: Combiner teams generally make up these, barring the occasional six member teams like the Constructicons and Trainbots.
- Forever War: Any continuity focusing on Autobots vs Decepticons. The precise details differ, but expect it to have lasted a few million years - and for a good chunk of the cast to have personally lived through most of that. In some continuities, the Great War is closer to a billion years old, having lasted since near the creation of the species with only a short-lived armistace before leading back into the familiar conflict.
- Good-Guy Bar: Maccadam's Old Oil House. Also the Bad-Guy Bar - Autobots and Decepticons alike are allowed in as long as they don't cause trouble (which happens anyway, if an Autobot approaches the Decepticon side uninvited).
- Good Colors, Evil Colors:
- Decepticons tend to have red optics, Autobots have blue. Exceptions exist, especially since the toys were not designed with this in mind. It was largely an invention of the original cartoon that later carried into other media.
- The symbols themselves also qualify, seeming to indicate good/evil alignment; the Autobots' insignia is traditionally red and the Decepticons' traditionally purple; in the mirror universe called "Shattered Glass", populated by evil Autobots and heroic Decepticons, the Autobot insignia is purple and the Decepticon insignia is red.
- Greater-Scope Paragon: Primus is the embodiment of all good in the Transformers multiverse as the Lord of Light and Order, and the creator of the Transformer homeworld Cybertron, opposite his brother Unicron, the embodiment of darkness. He rarely gets involved in the story at large because he was forced into an eon-long sleep after managing to defeat Unicron for the first time.
- Greater-Scope Villain:
- In many continuities, Unicron. He's the one controlling Galvatron in the original series and Sideways, Thrust, and (unwittingly) Alpha Q in the Unicron Trilogy. He also manipulates a different Galvatron in Beast Wars II. Prime reveals that Dark Energon is his lifeblood, explaining its corrupting influence. Megatron had infused himself with so much of the stuff that when Bumblebee kills him during the series finale, Unicron is able to simply take over his body and use him as a herald.
- Megatronus Prime, AKA The Fallen, in the first two movies and 2015's "Robots in Disguise".
- Growing with the Audience: The franchise started as a daily syndicated cartoon based on a line of toys, The '90s brought the Darker and Edgier Beast Wars, and the 2000s-2010s saw the Michael Bay live-action movies, Transformers Animated (a mix of goofy, mature and Continuity Porn), and the mature TV cartoon Transformers: Prime.
- Grumpy Old Man: Ironhide, Kup, Jetfire and Ratchet usually qualify.
- It's been an accepted Hand Wave that Transformers have this to explain Robots changing size from what would logically fit into their alternate form, most famously Megatron and Soundwave from G1. Also, exactly how big individual Transformers are varies radically based on the needs of the plot. Scale in Transformers is, not to put too fine a point on it, screwed.
- Animated Swindle literally has his own transwarp dimension that he can store things in, inside his torso... which Optimus Prime uses to become Swindle's first-born.
- Hanging Judge: The Quintesson judge would actually often find the defendant innocent. Too bad that the Quintessons throw you to the Sharkticons either way.Ultra Magnus: Where are they taking us?Kup: First, they're gonna give us a fair trial. Then they're gonna kill us."Five Faces of Darkness"
- Hold Your Hippogriffs: Plenty of human proverbs Recycled In Space:
- "You can stuff it up your
- "Do you ever think you could be
destinedprogrammed for something bigger?"
MindProcessor over matter."
- "He eats
babiesprotoforms for breakfast!"
- "Don't just stand there with your pistons in your servos!
- "I've got one
footservo in the gravescrap heap."
- "Aw, hexagonal nuts!"
- "My olfactory sensors detect a rat named Megatron!"
- "You can stuff it up your
- Homeworld Evacuation: A staple of the series.
- In Generation 1, the Autobot evacuate Cybertron as it has run out of Energon to support life.
- In Transformers: Prime, the Autobots and Decepticons fled Cybertron when it became unsuitable to support them.
- Humans Are Special: Played with.
- Humans are often instrumental in defeating the Decepticons, but they are rarely shown as being somehow "better" than any other species or important to the universe. The Transformers tend to be the special ones since they are the only ones who were directly created by the only known god in the Transformers franchise and typically have lifespans, technology, and powers beyond that of most other species.
- Humans are also often shown to have some sort of inextricable link with Cybertronians. In particular, there's an oft made comparison that still hasn't been fully explained about why Transformers, for the most part, look like giant armored human beings. There's also the fact that only humans and Nebulans (who are explicitly decended from humans who colonized Nebulos) can form a link with a Transformer to become a Head-, Power-, or Targetmaster. Doing so with other Cybertronians is possible, but seemingly not any other humanoid alien species.
- According to the movies, Optimus thinks humans are special because our civilization's history very closely mirrors Cybertron's, but without the world-encompassing, generations-spanning war of attrition that has depleted Cybertron of its resources. Basically, we're special because we're like them but never had a Megatron to lead to societal collapse.
- Humongous Mecha:
- Besides the Transformers themselves, there are Transtectors that more closely follow the formula; they're giant robots piloted by humans (or human-sized robots in some continuities) who can turn into the head or engine of the robot.
- The Apex Armor is this even to a Transformer. In Prime, it's a little taller than Optimus Prime or Megatron but worn/piloted by much smaller characters like Starscream or Arcee. Or Miko.
- Some characters, like Powermaster Optimus Prime had a trailer or mobile battle station that could turn into a large suit of armor that the main robot could then combine with.
- I Control My Minions Through...: Despite his usual standby of Authority Equals Asskicking, Megatron is not always or even usually the most powerful Decepticon in any given continuity. What makes him the leader is his ability to hit nearly every item on the Controlling Minions list for his various mooks. Some fear him, some respect him, some just follow him out of habit, some because they know he knows where the good killing's at, and a few are in it for the cash, gear, or upgrades he offers in return. Only Starscream ever consistently seems unsatisfied with this status quo.
- Idiosyncratic Wipes: Similar to Batman - a logo flies at the screen, then away from it. If changing from one faction's viewpoint to the others, it will spin and change sides.
- I Know Kung-Faux: Occurs fairly often throughout the various Transformers lines, most notably with Metallikato, Crystalocution, and Circuit-su.
- Insistent Terminology: Despite being Transformers, the instructions never tell you how to "transform" them; instead they tell you how to "convert" them to robots, vehicles, beasts, etc. This is because if they used the term "transform" so informally, the franchise name would be considered descriptive and would be impossible to defend legally as a trademark. This has not, however, stopped them from making Optimus's Catchphrase, "Transform, and roll out!"
- Interpretative Character: Several names have been used throughout all the various continuities. While there are often consistencies between these incarnations of these names, there is usually enough leeway to take them in all sorts of directions. TFWiki.net's article on the term "character" is a good analysis on this phenomenon, and the Interpretative Character page here has more specific examples.
- Interspecies Friendship: Any time human characters get involved.
- Interspecies Romance: Humans have been romantic interests for Transformers characters at least since the G1 episode "The Girl Who Loved Powerglide". But besides that, various humanoid aliens and even a few non-humanoid ones have been shown to be in relationships with Transformers.
- Introdump: Possibly the trope namer: the fan wiki has a whole page devoted to the concept. Most continuities have at least one near the beginning, with some being more graceful than others.
- Just a Machine:
Optimus Prime: They're not your technology! ...They were my friends... We're NOT your technology!
- The Cybertronians themselves avert this by being a) the main characters and b) able to point out their immortal soul on a blueprint. Any human who invokes this is going to be unsympathetic.
- Whenever the villain has plenty of (seemingly) unintelligent drones at their disposal, however, the good guys will spend a lot of time blowing them up en masse.
- This form of Fantastic Racism is given focus in Age of Extinction.
- Kid-Appeal Character: Bumblebee is the former trope namer. Usually one or two per series.
- Kill 'Em All:
- The [[Franchise/ransformersGeneration1 Original Movie]] was deliberately plotted to kill off as many characters/toys as possible, traumatizing kids who expected a continuation of the TV show.
- Age of Extinction reveals that all of the characters who were in the previous trilogy that didn't return for this one were hunted down by Cemetary Wind. Including the Autobots. Ratchet, the Wreckers, Arcee, Sideswipe...
- Leader Forms the Head: Often the way combiners are formed, as the team leader (usually bigger than his or her subordinates) forms the main body while the rest of the team form the limbs. One notable exceptions is Devastator (the Constructicon team leader Scrapper forms his right leg).
- Lightning Bruiser: Despite being heavily armed giants composed of huge durable metal, Transformers are all very swift and agile. Even planet sized bots are capable of moving in amazing speed.
- Live-Action Adaptation: The 2007 movie.
- Long Runner: There have been Transformers toys in production somewhere in the world since 1984. Even when the line was cancelled in America in 1990, European and Japanese exclusives were continually made.
- Loud of War: Soundwave (in numerous incarnations) uses this as a weapon, while Frenzy and Rumble (his cassette minions) used ultra- and infra-sound respectively (although the cartoon opted for earthquake-inducing earthpounders instead). Thundercracker's sonic boom could collapse structures and blow up enemy jets, and Dirge's engine vibrations were supposed to induce panic in his victims.
- Martyr Without a Cause: Optimus Prime
- Masquerade: I some continuities, the presence of giant robots on Earth is not public knowledge. The government keeps it under wraps while the Autobots agree to stay in their disguised modes around civilians with a small number of exceptions. However, this is not consistently present and the original series didn't even bother with it - by the end of the first season, mechanical alien shape-shifters were just a fact of life.
- Meaningful Name:
- About 90% of all names are meaningful. The few that aren't are still usually indicative of their faction, or are a bit more subtle. (Such as "Megatron" bringing to mind "megaton," a unit bombs can be measured in.)
- Transformers Animated provides a clear justification for this process with most Cybertronians. In addition to self-assigned names (like Blackarachnia or Dirt Boss) several characters received their current names from drill sergeants in boot camp (Ironhide for his ability to harden his skin, Bulkhead was named as such for being "all bulk and no brains," Optimus was an optimistic idealist before being broken) or others (like the Constructicons or Wreck-Gar).
- Merchandise-Driven: ...but, as the entry on that page states, Transformers fans generally embrace the merchandising aspects.
- Toyless Toyline Character: Most of the humans, and some of the early female transformers.
- Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Varies from continuity but generally further on the soft side of the scale.
- Monochromatic Eyes: Considering they're robots, it was the default look for them. Later incarnations would avert this in some instances though.
- The Movie: Twice, 1986 and 2007.
- The Multiverse: The franchise has a whole pile of alternate universes which sometimes cross over, and which Hasbro and Takara disagree over which are actually separate and which simply occur to the side of other stories. The Transformers of the Axiom Nexus have grouped all continuities into a number of universal streams, with each stream corresponding to a continuity group. Thus, for example, Primax is the G1/Beast Era family, Tyran is the live-action movies, Gargent is the GoBots, Quadwal is the real world, etc. Some of these are negative-polarity universes in which Decepticons are good and Autobots are evil; these are assigned negative numbers. There are also sparks that resonate across the universe, giving rise to multiple similar but separate versions of Optimus Prime, Megatron, Starscream, and various others.
- The Transformers Aligned Universe, which includes Transformers: Prime, Transformers: Rescue Bots, the War for Cybertron video game series and the novels retelling the narrative of the games, were originally considered to be outside this multiverse, but were eventually retconned in, allowing the "Alligned" version of Slipstream to turn up in Axiom Nexus.
- To make things really nuts, at one point there were also characters known as multiversal singularities, of which only one existed in all reality. Some of these, such as Alpha Trion, existed in every universe simultaneously, while others, like Vector Prime and The Fallen, traveled between universes. This got less and less plausible as time went on and various universes wrote those characters differently, and eventually in the 2015 Club story most of them got together to de-singularitize themselves, so now there's a TransTech Vector Prime and a Shattered Glass Unicron and so on.
- Multiversal Conqueror: Unicron is a Planet Eater who wants to eat everything. One planet at a time, one timeline at a time, one universal stream of branching timelines at a time, in sequence. When he says he wants to be completely alone, he damn well isn't beating around the bush. Even if he's destroyed in any one universe, he just gets shunted to another to start over again thanks to mucking about with different flows of time across the multiverse. Oh, sure, there are a few permanent methods of dealing with him, like trapping him in a physical form to slow him down, but if they go horribly wrong, well...
- One Comic has another Multiversal constant state that he has so far consumed some 47% of the known Multiverse. Yeah. Not mucking about.
- Mythology Gag: PLENTY in the later series.
- NameTron: Megatron, Cybertron, Galvatron, etc.
- Never Say "Die": Depending on franchise. The characters in Generation 1, for instance, freely used the words 'die', 'dead', and 'kill', but other series have used 'destroyed', 'sent to oblivion', 'offline', and so on.
- Can't forget "We're all gonna die..."
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Just being a Transformer makes you a giant, alien, transforming, robot. Then there's the ones that are also things like ninja, dinosaurs, bounty hunters, and wolves.
- Non-Lethal Warfare: Mostly.
- No One Should Survive That: Multiple times, characters will be torn to pieces, blown up, or simply be at ground zero of a massive blast only to either be rebuilt or come out unscathed. Sometimes, instead of getting destroyed, they get a new body with new powers.
- Nominal Compatibility:
- Armada's Mini-Con gimmick was carried over into Energon and Cybertron and later briefly included in the Generations toyline. However, in most of the cases of later figures including Mini-Con ports, they were "dead" connectors that didn't unlock any new features - the primary purpose of Mini-Cons. In the case of Generations, two of the three figures that had them were too small to support the added weight of the Mini-Cons that were released during that time period, due to them being larger than most of those from the time period.
- During Energon, Autobots and Decepticons made by recoloring Autobot toys had a Powerlinx feature where one would be made into legs and the other into the chest, arms, and head (called "Pants Mode" and "Shirt Mode" by fans, respectively). Several of them had proportions that made combining them look extremely awkward, like Hot Shot and Inferno who work fine together but not really with anyone else. Deluxe and Mega Class figures even used the same connector, but had such a difference in size that a Voyager Shirt/Deluxe Pants combination would have its arms reach the ground, while the other way around would look like a the smaller one was riding some kind of walker mech.
- The series overall has used 5mm posts for weapons almost univerally since Armada but even before then was the most common weapon handle size, so that they could be swapped between characters. However, some like Classics Grimlock used smaller than normal pegs with a 5mm base so that other characters could use them, but the character they belonged to could only use the one included with them. Others, like Siege Shockwave, have an accessory only meant for specific spots on their body and so use a slightly different sized peg and hole while also adjusting the rest so they won't fit at all, which also means other accessories won't stay plugged in no matter where you put them.
- Titan Masters and Prime Masters use the same basic body style and connector, meaing they can be used interchangeably. However, Titan Masters turn into heads while Prim Masters turn into "Spark Power Symbols"; very few Power of the Primes figures had interchangeable heads and Prime Masters don't look like heads at all. Swapping them just results in weird combinations, though some people may enjoy it anyway.
- Not Quite Dead
- Obfuscating Stupidity: In most of the comics, Grimlock acts like this. He still talks in the caveman dialect of his animated counterpart, but is one of the Autobots' most brilliant leaders, often coming off as a sort of brutally cunning Josef Stalin to Prime's FDR (or Prime's Churchill, if you're reading Marvel UK).
- Off-Model: Sometimes it gets to the point where it's not even funny. None of the shows, movies, comics, games or toys are safe. Special mentions go to the Generation One cartoon, the Armada Anime, the Generation Two comic, the Beast Machines toyline and most of the Dreamwave comic run.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Unicron
- Galvatron too. Megatron wanted power, Galvatron just wants to kill everything
- Only One Name
- Palette Swap: Redecoes are very common. The most well-known examples are Frenzy/Rumble, the Seekers, Bumblebee/Cliffjumper, and Prowl/Bluestreak/Smokescreen.
- In Beast Wars, there's also Cheetor/Tigatron, and Tarantulus/Blackarachnia (notable for being the only one of these with one character of each gender), plus a few others exclusively in the toys.
- Phlebotinum Muncher: Energon.
- Planet Eater: Yet again, Unicron.
- Planet of Hats: Cybertron revolves around five planets. Cybertron and Earth are both hatless, but on the Speed Planet, all anyone cares about is racing, on the Jungle Planet, everyone is obsessed with strength, and on the Giant Planet, the only thing anyone does is build stuff.
- Plot Hole: A literal example in the Unicron Singularity, a massive Black Hole that canonically damaged the continuity of the Unicron Trilogy animes and was used as a Sure Why Not by Hasbro to explain away any continuity errors due to Unicron formerly existing as a single being within every continuity, rather than separate but derivative characters like the various Optimus Primes and Megatrons. And since it explains the damage done to any Transformers continuity, that means it can be used to explain any plot hole ever due to crossovers, at least according to a common joke among fans.
- Praetorian Guard: The Wreckers, for Emirate Xaaron.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: Before making an appearance in The Movie, The Fallen created one of these in the War Within comic series. Decepticon mystics Bludgeon, Bugly, and Mindwipe made a very effective one, too.
- G1 presented the Transformer origin as being created by a squid-robotic race called the Quintessons as slave labor. Most later incarnations, including G1 versions, have ignored that origin story in favor of the Primus-God version. Although it could be argued one does not preclude the other...
- Hasbro had earlier stated that the Aligned universe isn't part of the larger Transformers multiverse. Between Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark (which involves the titular artifact going from the Aligned universe to the universe of the movies and Generation One universe), the Ask Vector Prime column (which confirmed the events of Dark Spark revealed the existence of the Aligned universe to the larger Multiverse), The Complete AllSpark Almanac (which also mentioned the Aligned universe), Regeneration One (which has a subplot of Hot Rod seeing all his counterparts, including his Algined incarnation from the DS version of War for Cybertron), and Andromeda - Axiom Nexus News Reporter (which officially confirmed the Aligned universe being part of the larger multiverse) this has since been changed.
This also put an end to the idea of the original Thirteen being "multiversal singularities" as the Aligned!Thirteen includes very different members including Alpha Trion and Optimus Prime, and Vector Prime outright stating that his Aligned counterpart is a distinctly separate entity. Later, in 2015, the entire concept of multiversal singularities was nullified by a Cosmic Recton in the Transformers: Timelines storyline, "Another Light", where Nexus Prime solidify the walls of reality to such a degree that not only were the original 13 across the multiverse splintered, but even Primus and Unicron were separated into separate entities across the Multiverse.
- Rhymes on a Dime: Wheelie and Blaster (though not as often as Wheelie).
- Robot Buddy: Reversal: the Transformers have human buddies.
- Robot Hair: Arcee, the goto Fembot (and her expies) generally has a helmet-like structure on her head which resembles a haircut.
- Robot War
- Rule of Cool: The entire franchise is all about this.
- Running Gag: Optimus Prime has a terrible habit of dying and coming back to the point where it's not even considered a spoiler to say he does and nobody ever expects it to stick. Dirge and a few of the Seekers overall seem to share this trait.
- Sacred Scripture: The Covenant of Primus, a combination of historical records and list of prophecies.
- Sacrificial Planet: One ad for a Unicron model goes, "He devours entire worlds. His name is Unicron. And he's heading ... for Earth."
- Sapient Tank: Any transformer with a tank based alt-mode.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Space travel varies depending on needs of the plot. Cybertron appears to sometimes be in the same solar system as Earth.
- Since getting teleported here in "The Ultimate Doom," it probably is.
- Also, partly due to the Time Dissonance described below, the Transformers backstory typically has Optimus and Megatron chasing each other around the galaxy for literally millions of years before crash-landing on Earth.
- They have also had issues in consistently getting the scale of characters and even planets right. A character that starts off as a car that people can comfortably sit in suddenly becoming a robot that a human is only at ankle-height to is commonplace, as is it suddenly losing twenty feet of height a scene/figure or two later. There's a reason why the TF Wiki Dot Net's summation of scale in the Transformers series is this trope's page quote.
- Unicron turns from a planet the size of Cybertron to a robot barely the size of Rhode Island during the original movie. He is able to pinch Galvatron between his fingers and swallow him, even though Galvatron should even then be so small as to be a speck on him. The Dinobots then are each roughly the size of one of his glutes while they literally kick his butt, even though Galvatron and Grimlock are of similar height.
- Sealed Cast in a Multipack: The show has this in spades. Since G1, 'bots have been sealed and unsealed time and time again. And the introduction of stasis pods in Beast Wars only served to make this even easier.
- Series Continuity Error: Cybertron is sometimes a tiny planet with buildings jutting out into space in G1 to resembling Coruscant in the Beast Era and everything in between.)
- Serious Business: Beloved childhood toys, TV, and comics/manga ARE Serious Business. Even the newer materials.
- Sigil Spam: Nearly every incarnation of Transformers abuses the faction symbols to some degree.
- Signature Style: Simon Furman has a series of phrases that make their way into virtually every comic he writes, referred to as Furmanisms. The most famous is either "like some vast, predatory bird" or "It never ends!"
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Mostly on the idealistic side, though the writers have clearly been making an effort to be realistic about it in recent years.
- The Smurfette Principle:
- You can count the female Transformers who appeared more than once in a series on both hands. A list of all female Transformers can be found here. This isn't helped by long-time Transformers comic writer Simon Furman, who writes Transformers as having no gender and has publically stated that he hates the idea of female Transformers. This, combined with the fact that Jhiaxus' experiments in giving Transformers gender made Arcee both a female and Ax-Crazy brings up some Unfortunate Implications.
- In more recent years, the idea that Cybertronians shouldn't have gender because they are robots has been more or less ignored, with a slew of new characters being introduced. That Transformers don't have gender has been swept under the rug as the females of Cybertron being wiped out by a "perfectionist" visionary Galvatron from another universe, and that the links to the Allspark on other planets still regularly produce female sparks. Windblade, who was more or less designed by fan vote, was chosen as female by an overwhelming majority. The club subscription bonus excusive Pyra Magna similarly was voted to by female, as were all six of her components. After that, new female characters, some with toys, have been made to help diversify the cast. They still make up a minority, but not by such a wide margin.
- Special Effect Branding:
- Taken to an extreme in most series, where everybody's weapons are theirs and theirs alone. This is a combination of the Merchandise-Driven idea of making sure everyone uses the weapon they come with and launches the appropriate missiles, and the fact that, as Transforming Mecha, their weapons are more or less part of them.
- Averted in one of the G1 animated episodes. The Decepticons have captured the Autobots with the exception of Wheeljack. Wheeljack manages to infiltrate their holding cell, discovers his buddies are tied up, depowered, soaking wet (bad thing for robots), and with their carbine-shaped weapons piled sloppily in the corner. He then proceeds to go Guns Akimbo—pointing AT THE AUTOBOTS. "My friend's weapons! Hmm. Okay, Sideswipe's flare gun should dry off your circuits, and Bluestreak's bolts should give you all an instant recharge!" It's amazing the first thing Optimus didn't do was Face Palm: "It's a wonder the Decepticons didn't just kill us outright, but vector sigma, am I the only one that knows that guns are supposed to be for killing?"
- In some continuities, each faction has different colored beams from their energy weapons. The different factions also generally have different coloured eyes (blue for Autobots, red for Decepticons) although their optical sensors presumably all function the same way.
- Beast Wars averts this. While all the characters do have their own signature weapons, the Maximals have a separate armory, supposedly for gunless characters like Dinobot.
- Spiritual Successor: The Alternators line was an attempt at appealing to adult collectors by featuring licensed vehicles to scale with each other and with complex transformations that allotted actual interior space such as the seats, steering wheel and even an engine block. Characters were re-imagined in new vehicle forms; some of the characters known for a car-based mode received a different model, spiritual successor, rather than the modern version of their original model (e.g.: Sideswipe was reinterpreted as a Dodge Viper, rather than being a modern Lamborghini), while some characters known for non-vehicle alternate modes, such as Grimlock and Shockwave, were reinterpreted as vehicles. The Human Alliance line is angled towards the same principles, with the movies backing up the toys and adding to the interactivity with human figures. The Masterpiece line is a more literal update of the original toys, featuring complex transformations to convert a more detailed version of their original alt mode into a more detailed and more cartoon-accurate version of their on-screen robot appearance. The line received a "soft" reboot by revisiting the Optimus Prime/Convoy and Starscream figures, and ramping up the frequency of character releases, with the increased activity also including the introduction of several figures based on licensed versions of their original car modes.
- Spy Bot: Many Transformers serve this function in various ways.
- Steampunk: The Hearts of Steel miniseries.
- Stuff Blowing Up:
- Beast Wars, along with most of the Transformers cartoons, has a lot of explosions. At least one of the Transformers will be blown up in every episode.
- Not counting Waspinator, who gets blown to bits in nearly every episode regardless.
- Rather hilariously, there is actually a Transformer called Landmine. That's right. An alien robot with the name of an explosive.
- Lugnut has perfected the art of making things explode. Behold! The P.O.K.E!
- Beast Wars, along with most of the Transformers cartoons, has a lot of explosions. At least one of the Transformers will be blown up in every episode.
- Super Reflexes: Some characters have this power on their own, while others can acquire it through bonding with a partner (Headmasters, Powerlinx, etc.).
- Suspiciously Small Army: Does this in a big way. Even when fighting for the fate of the universe, or the very fabric of space and time, it's rare to see more than a few dozen fighters involved in any battle. Sometimes this is due to the limitations of the budget (such as the expense of animating CGI models in Beast Wars, Beast Machines, and Prime), or to have a more intimate feel for the battle (The final battle in Animated features only the main cast fighting each other, the majority of whom are having their character arcs wrapped up). The movies tend to have much larger-scaled battles thanks to a larger production budget: the second movie featured a large amount of NEST troops aided by US and Jordanian military fighting at least twenty elite Decepticons alongside the Autobots; the third film features twelve Autobots and a small contingent of humans fighting around two hundred Decepticons; and the fourth film features just two Autobots fighting a fifty-strong horde of Decepticons before Optimus arrives with the Dinobots.
- Dark Cybertron features another aversion in what is perhaps the most massive battle to be featured in Transformers fiction since the original movie: the surviving Autobots, Decepticons, and NAIL's facing off with an army of Ammonites (a hostile race of transforming robots). Seventy. BILLION. Of them.
- Take That!: The comics feature a lot of jabs against the mostly-forgotten competitor to the original Challenge Of The Go Bots, mostly involving Cy-Kill getting killed.
- Self-Deprecation: Of course, these days Go-Bots are themselves part of the Transformers franchise.
- Tank Goodness: A bunch of Decepticons, Warpath (who's an Autobot), including some versions of Megatron.
- Telescoping Robot: Highly prevalent in G1, where the 30-foot tall Soundwave became a microcassette player, amongst plenty of other examples. Later installments avoid this for the most part, simply consenting to change size off camera. Not to be confused with the Cybertronians that turn into telescopes.)
- Tiered by Name: Megatron and Galvatron are usually the same being from two different time periods, although in some continuities, such as the IDW G1 continuity, they're two different people.
- Time Dissonance: Transformers are immortal unless killed, and see time differently. This becomes jarring when a character like Prime Smokescreen has been around for millions of years like the others but only matures in the time span of a few months covered by his tenure on the show.
- Toyline-Exclusive Character: Incredibly common for every incarnation of the franchise. Every single toyline ever has characters whose only appearance in fiction is the little bio on the back of their packaging, and even some don't have those. This is often eventually subverted, as later writers love using obscure toyline-exclusive Transformers in media or by retconning them to be existing characters. Of course, the toys are rarely still on shelves meaning these subversions make the original toys much more expensive on the secondary market.
- Time Storm: What happens when you try to change history to too great a degree.
- Transforming Mecha: The entire concept.
- Truce Zone: Maccadam's Old Oil House in some stories.
- 20 Minutes into the Future: The later seasons of Generation 1 and Energon are both obviously set in the near-future (G1 after The Movie is explicitly set in 2006). Cybertron, despite being explicitly set in the same continuity ten years after Energon, appears to be contemporary.
- Units Not to Scale: There's a TFwiki page about it. In short, there are many size-scale inconsistencies with the various Transformers, both in the toyline and in the cartoons and comics. Due to some effort by the production team, the Live-Action Film series has fewer scale issues.
- Unusual Euphemism: The word 'slag' seems to be a Transformer equivalent to the human word 'shit/crap'. Transformers Animated has fun with this, featuring such gems as "You'll have to pry it from my cold, offline servo!"
- Verbal Tic: Beast Wars Megatron, "yeeeessss". And BAM! KAZOWIE! for Warpath. I am Wreck-Gar!
- Video Game Adaptation: Several games have been made for the series from the Famicom Convoy game of Nintendo Hard instant death to the latest PC and Xbox 360 game.
- Wasn't That Fun?: Lampshaded in the original G1 cartoon episode "Fire on the Mountain", after Brawn and Windcharger are under attack by the Decepticons.Windcharger: Let's peel out of here, Brawn!
Brawn: And miss all the fun?!
Windcharger: Remind me to discuss your definition of 'fun' some time!
- Welcome Titles: The openings tend to use this, except in the series that animate the Transformers in CGI.
- World of Badass: Cybertron. Literally, as it is the god Primus in disguise.
- Wretched Hive: In several continuities like the Dreamwave and IDW comics, the named city Kaon on Cybertron is often referred to as a miserable place, where the local law enforcers are hopelessly corrupt and/or helpless - in several backstories Kaon is also the place where the underground gladiator rings are located, and thus forms the birthplace of the rebellious movement that would become the Decepticons. Megatron in particular typically makes his name here as a champion in the arena before he becomes the Decepticon commander. Amusingly, on Primus's body as per his Transformers Cybertron incarnation, Kaon is located under his heel when he transforms to robot mode.
- Writing Around Trademarks: Explained in further detail on the page, but to summarize, the need to avoid infringing on trademarks—and preserve Hasbro's own trademarks—has led to no end of trouble.
- Your Size May Vary: Alien robots that can transform into every conceivable mechanical/electrical item results in this, and happens often in comics and TV series (the live-action films at least tried to avert this with some limited success). Moreso if a Transformer has more than one alternate mode. There is an entire page on the Transformers Wiki about this.