The Transformers Aligned Universe is an experiment developed by Hasbro in an attempt to consolidate the modern Transformers brand into a collective whole, rather than juggling a new Continuity Reboot every 2-3 years. All of the new sub-franchises of Transformers will be connected together in Broad Strokes to give a reinforcement to the themes that have been with Transformers since 1984 and provide some sense of backstory continuity between the different series. The stated intention was to be an Adaptation Distillation of everything people love from the series while stretching off into new story possibilities, there is a large 354 page Series Bible that was to have guided different projects for the future called the "Binder of Revelation." It officially began with the launch of the book Transformers: Exodus in June 2010 with the "primary" fiction being appropriately named Transformers: Prime. So far the universe includes:
- Transformers: Exodus - Novel
- Transformers: Exiles - Sequel to Exodus
- Transformers: Retribution - sequel to Exiles.
- Transformers: War for Cybertron - Video Game
- Transformers: Fall of Cybertron - Sequel to WFC
- Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark - The Cybertron half is an interquel set between the events of the above two games
- Fall of Cybertron, Rage of the Dinobots, and Beast Hunters - Comic books by IDW Publishing, expanding on the depiction of the Dinobots in FOC and meant to "converge" with Prime.
- Transformers: Prime - All-CGI Cartoon airing on Discovery Family, then called The Hub.
- Transformers: Prime – The Game - A video game for the Wii, Nintendo 3DS and the Nintendo DS.
- Transformers: Rescue Bots - Another, non-CGI note cartoon, aimed at a younger audience.
- Transformers: Go! - Direct-to-DVD anime, although Hasbro has yet to recognize this series due to being Japan-only.
- Transformers: The Covenant of Primus - The "story bible" for the Aligned Universe, written in-character by Alpha Trion.
- Transformers Universe - A cancelled MMO game
- Transformers Online - Another short-lived MMO game, but only marketed in China.
- Transformers: Robots in Disguise (2015) - A sequel to Prime.
- Transformers: Rescue Bots Academy - A sequel to Rescue Bots.
As far as more background information, the decision to create this new expansive universe came not only because of the frequent continuity reboots but because there has been a massive Continuity Snarl in the Transformers Mythos with regards to the Multiverse. The comics had established that all of the Transformers Series we have seen up to that point are connected, with certain characters like Unicron, Primus, Vector Prime and The Fallen as being universal constants (existing within all the different Universes).
Problems have risen because the actual multi-verse story has been largely contained within the comics, and many other continuities are written without any intent of following that story. Even with the idea of Alternate Universes it is difficult to keep any sense of consistency with all of the projects being written independently. Thus the Aligned Continuity (an unofficial term, used loosely by Hasbro but adopted by the fans to describe the continuity family) is merely providing a core to work from while the individual projects still have room to move, they have openly stated that the story takes presidence over the details. While there are some descrepencies already between the various series, they are still working off the same themes coming from the bible.
These themes include the following:
- The primordial gods of Primus and Unicron, who waged a battle between each other long ago. The entire Cybertronian race is descended from Primus, as well that Primus embodies the core of the planet Cybertron itself.
- The Thirteen Original Primes- Warriors created by Primus to tip the balance of the battle against Unicron. Originating in the comics, the exact backstory and personality of these characters were vague and undefined until now. Incredibly powerful, they have descended into myths and legends by the time of the main characters. The current title of "Prime" is a respect to those original beings.
- The Cybertronian Civil War- Cybertron had become aggressively segregated into a caste system that kept the citizens oppressed. A gladiator calling himself Megatronus started gathering followers for his crusade to eliminate the caste system, joining his cause was a well respected data clerk named Optimus note . But Optimus sought equality and freedom while Megatron's cause was largely a smoke screen for his rise to power. As Optimus gained favor with the ruling government Megatron's true intentions were revealed and the people of Cybertron split into two factions, the Autobots (for desiring individual autonomy) and the Decepticons (for their deception of their totalitarian nature).
- Cybertron as a Dead World- The Civil War eventually corrupted the core of Cybertron itself, requiring the planet to shut down for millions of years. This means the planet was slowly depleted of its once abundant energy resources and the majority of Cybertronians were forced to wander through space in exile. After time there was little reason for even a few pockets of civilization to remain, but the Cybertronian Civil War continues among the stars as resources become scarce.
- The Matrix of Leadership- An artifact from the time of the Thirteen Primes, it was given to Optimus by the core of Cybertron (Primus) to keep an element of their home planet with them wherever they go.
- Depleting Resources- All things Cybertronian run off a vital fuel called Energon (it's assumed other forms of energy like electricity and gasoline can be substituted, but are far inferior in all important respects). With the core of Cybertron shutting down Energon becomes more and more scarce, other planets have been used to seed raw energon crystals that can be grown over a long period of time and harvested, but it is a long and labor intensive process.
- The existence of Dark Energon, a powerful, unstable and corruptive form of the regular Energon, which is rumored to be the "blood of Unicron."
Tropes common across the Aligned Universe
- Alternate Self: When Hasbro reversed its decision to keep this seperate from the larger Transformers mutliverse and incorporate it into it, the original Thirteen became this in regards to the versions in the larger Multiverse as the Aligned versions' numbers included Alpha Trion and especially Optimus Prime, which would be incapatible with other versions, especially Shattered Glass. Ask Vector Prime explicitly has multiverse!Vector identify his Aligned incarnation as a distinct and separate entity.
- Apocalypse How: A class 3A for Cybertron, most of the population and higher life-forms had to abandon the planet or die off, but some of the smaller scavenger lifeforms seem to survive in a small capacity, and in some cases there are a few, small population centers scattered across the planet. Transformers: War for Cybertron depicts Megatron corrupting the core with Dark Energon, which is eventually purged but drives the core into shutdown.
- Broad Strokes: This is largely how the continuity of this universe is being handled. Hasbro has stated that they are open for the portrayal of artistic license, as long all the major plot-points are still present and the character backstories are consistent.
- Canon Immigrant: Much of the Aligned lore about the Thirteen was adapted for the IDW universe and subsequent continuities. Behind the scenes featurettes for Transformers: The Last Knight make it clear that when the films' writer's room asked for lore to work with, Hasbro gave them the Aligned continuity's lore to copy-paste into the films.
- Cerebus Rollercoaster: Rescue Bots and its sequel Rescue Bots Academy, lighter cartoon series aimed at little kids, takes place in this universe, which includes the older-targeted Prime and the Cybertron games, which are rated T. Prime's sequel series, Robots is Disguise, is also lighter than Prime, though not to the same extend as RB or RBA.
- The Chosen One: Optimus is from the lineage of the Primes, and is something that you are neither born into nor can merely take. Megatron wanted to become a Prime but was denied. According to The Covenant of Primus, Optimus is in fact the reincarnated Spark of the Thirteenth of the Original Thirteen Primes, who entered the Well of All-Sparks to be reborn to better serve their creations, the Transformers..
- Continuity Snarl: From the beginning Hasbro has insisted that the Aligned universe is a new continuity family meaning they are based on the specific quirks of the same iteration, much like how the G1 comics and TV show were incompatible. This has not stopped some rampant complaints about the incongruities between them.
- That the comic books are meant to connect to both Fall of Cybertron and Prime does not help one bit.
- Hasbro themselves have admitted to not being as picky with minor continuity issues, so long as all the major plot points themselves line up, in order to allow the various writers some wriggle room when coming up with a story.
- Last of His Kind: Optimus is the only Prime left. It is implied that Cybertron went through a period of "Prime" figureheads who had the title but are not part of the divine lineage; Optimus only truly became a Prime when given the Matrix of Leadership and not when given the title by the High Council.
- Physical God: Both Primus and Unicron.
- A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Inverted, Megatron was Orion Pax's mentor and the movement became violent when Orion became better favored than Megatron.
- Its a little different in Prime: Megatron was a gladiator while Orion Pax was a clerk, but Orion was one of the first of Megatron's social change movement before he went extreme.
- Retcon: Hasbro had earlier stated that the Aligned universe isn't part of the larger Multiverse, but works like Rise of the Dark Spark and The Complete AllSpark Almanac have since confirmed it is indeed part of the larger Multiverse, after all.
- Simple Solution Won't Work:
- Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark: When Swindle and Shockwave, bearing the titular Dark Spark, arrive at the gates of the Decepticon capital of Kaon they discover a huge Autobot army laying siege in order to stop them. Blast-Off, Swindle's fellow Combaticon, suggests he simply take the Dark Spark from Swindle and deliver it by air. Shockwave dismisses the suggestion as being too risky: if Blast-Off were to be shot down or otherwise drop the Dark Spark, for all they know it might explode and take all of Kaon with it. Combaticon commander Onslaught agrees with Shockwave's assessment and orders him to retreat to a safe location with the Dark Spark, while the Combaticons begin clearing a path.
- Transformers: Fall of Cybertron: The Autobots have stolen an entire lake of Energon from the Decepticons and are transporting it aboard a gigantic transport vehicle. When Swindle manages to damage its drivetrain, it transforms into a flying mode and takes off. As he fights his way through, he wonders why the Autobots didn't just use the flight mode from the start, to which Onslaught replies that it probably takes so much Energon it'd eat up most of the fuel it was carrying. Unknown to the Combaticons, Ironhide had raised the same issue earlier, but Optimus decided it was worth the risk.
- The Smurfette Principle: This continuity explicitly states that one thirteenth of all Cybertronians are female. This is because they are descended from Solus Prime, the only female among the original Thirteen Primes.
- The Starscream: Of course, with a multitude of reasons given as to why Megatron doesn't shoot him after a single bid for leadership, from appreciating his gift for fine details to Megatron believing if Starscream actually succeeded (Megs is a terrifyingly powerful former gladiator) he earned it.
- Take Up My Sword: Optimus is given the Matrix of Leadership by the Core of Cybertron, Primus himself.
- Victory by First Blood: This is why Megatron leads the forces of the Decepticons. He and Soundwave duelled for the leadership of the Decepticons during the faction's inception in a fight that was explicitly first to wound. Megatron himself has admitted that had the duel been to the death, Soundwave would have won, and Transformers: Prime makes it blindingly obvious that anyone thinking of overthrowing Megatron has second thoughts because even if Megatron is out of the way, Soundwave isn't, his loyalty to Megatron is undying as a result of the first-to-wound duel, and due to his role as information officer he likely already knows what they're planning.
- You Don't Look Like You: Often seen as one of the major oddities to the franchise even from the "continuity family" context. Usually, the main thing that stays consistent between families is the character designs and aesthetics, but the two most famous branches of the family (Transformers: War for Cybertron and Transformers: Prime) don't exactly have much in common. WFC characters draw most of their inspiration from G1, being very blocky and usually looking dead-on to their old designs, while Prime characters look more like a blend of Transformers: Animated and the live-action films, with lithe proportions and more jagged details, as well as considerably more significant redesigns. Compare the powerfully-built, heavily G1-esque Soundwave in WFC with the spindly, faceless Soundwave of Prime.