The series that revived the Transformers franchise after a years-long recession,note Beast Wars was a fully CG-animated series that premiered in 1996. It was produced by the now-bought-out Mainframe Entertainment, hot on the heels of its predecessor, ReBoot (in fact, its' first season aired as part of the syndicated "Power Block" (distributed by Hasbro's Claster TV firm) alongside ReBoot, G.I. Joe Extreme and Vor Tech). Hugely controversial at the time among purists for the massive changes to the Transformers formula, most prominently the change from vehicles and electronics to animals. "TRUKK NOT MUNKY!" was a common cry of its detractors of the time.
Beast Wars takes place in the far future of the Transformers: Generation 1 franchise, though it never refers to enough specifics to figure out which Generation One (cartoon, comics or something else), and the events of the "Great War" are Shrouded in Myth. After the war ended with an Autobot victory, an uneasy truce has existed on Cybertron for many centuries. During this time of peace, the Transformers were reformatted into smaller, more energy-efficient bodies; the descendants of the Autobots are known as the Maximals, and the Decepticons have become the Predacons.
A Predacon rogue steals a precious artifact from the Cybertronian archives and names himself Megatron after the historical Decepticon leader. The artifact contains the coordinates of a planet ripe with energon and Megatron escapes into space with it and a small band of followers, intent on acquiring enough energon to instigate a full-scale Predacon rebellion. The only ship able to pursue is crewed by a team of scientists and researchers led by Optimus Primal (no relation to Optimus Prime beyond name — at least not in this continuity). Their ships crash on an unknown foreign world, similar to but not quite exactly the same as pre-historic Earth. The planet does have energon, but too much of it and it is in a raw, unstable form, and prolonged exposure would short out their systems and send them into stasis lock. To bypass this the two sides adopt "beast modes" based on the planet's native lifeforms, which they can use to move about outside their ships without risking overexposure.
Against this backdrop, the Beast Wars between the Maximals and Predacons begin. The Maximals want to go home and let the proper authorities deal with Megatron, but the hope for rescue is slim, as their ships had trans-warp engines that let them travel through space and time, so they could be anywhere, anytime, in the galaxy. The plan is that if they can subdue the Predacons, they can turn their attention to repairing their ship or finding a way to contact Cybertron. As for the Predacons, while the bulk believe they are here just to acquire energon to take back to Cybertron, Megatron had a secret, ulterior motive for coming to this specific planet at this specific point in time — the true identity of the planet and why Megatron came here serve as big reveals in the second season. The two sides must also deal with a third party, Sufficiently Advanced Aliens known as the "Vok" that have a presence on this alien world and don't like the Transformers interfering with their plans for it.
Despite its detractors when it began, Beast Wars was actually quite innovative for its time, not only because of the aforementioned CG, but also because of the tight storyline and significant character development. The show made attempts to push the boundaries of contemporary children's shows via witty wordplay and graphic violence that was let slip because flying robot parts have been permissible since time immemorial. The expense of CG animation at the time required a limited cast of characters, unlike the 1984 series's cast of dozens. Although this, too, was decried at the time, it meant more time was spent with each character, so they developed distinct personalities and dynamics with each other, and most of them got ongoing story arcs and character development across multiple episodes. It also meant that when a new character was introduced, an existing character was killed off, or someone got a significant upgrade that affected their appearance, it was treated as a big deal and would be a lasting, permanent change (most of the time, anyway).
On the toy side, the toys made much larger use of ball-joint technology that made the Beast Wars-era figures a huge leap above the originals in playability; they had much better articulation, their joints were less prone to damage, and since the toys were being made with intent to tie into the cartoon this time instead of Hasbro creating a cartoon being based on the toys, the characters looked more similar between the two formats. The toyline was not without its problems, though. "Shell-formers" became fan-speak for Transformer toys where their alt mode just opened up and the robot climbed out with their alt-mode pieces just folding up and hanging off of their limbs - this is visible even in the above screencap from the show. While they also existed in Generation 1, Beast Wars had a lot more of them, and the fanbase generally dislikes this kind of design.
The voices of Optimus Primal and Megatron, Gary Chalk and David Kaye, would return to voice Optimus Prime and Megatron in the Unicron Trilogy. If you didn't grow up on the voices of Peter Cullen and Frank Welker, you probably grew up with these guys.note
For its flaws and strengths, Beast Wars set the standard for all other Transformers franchises from then on, both in toy and in cartoon format. Even now, it just won't die; a "10th Anniversary" release of the original toys was created (with new figures for Primal and Megatron), and fan favorites Blackarachnia and Waspinator were carried over into Transformers Animated. To some, Beast Wars is the best Transformers incarnation of all time due to its high quality and production values. It isn't uncommon for longtime Generation 1 fans to claim that the show is their favorite Transformers series.
The Sequel Series, Beast Machines, was... less well-regarded, due mainly to characterization changes, a focus on longer plot arcs, being too preachy, and a darker tone in general. The massive redesigns that the Beast Wars cast underwent were also a huge factor in its reception. Despite this, it has its own fanbase. See its own page for more information.
In Japan, two traditionally animated series were created to fill in the production gaps between seasons, Beast Wars II and Beast Wars Neo. They were never dubbed, as they don't fit in very well with the continuity of either the source material or each other. Both shows are much more lighthearted than their Western counterparts and aimed at a much younger audience than Beast Wars (which could plausibly be called the first Transformers series aimed at teenagers, not just children). In addition, the Japanese release of the CG Beast Wars cartoon also changed the dialog for a younger audience, almost to the point of being a Gag Dub.
During the line's heyday there were a few spinoff lines, including Machine Wars (a KB Toys exclusive line featuring vehicular TFs that were redecos of European molds, and was an early attempt at reintroducing character with vehicular altmodes instead of animals, but it quietly faded away) and a tie-in line with Animorphs that wasn't well-received by either fanbase.
There is now also Recap in desperate need of assistance.
This show provides examples of:
- 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Inverted. Because the vast majority of the show is CG, the rare instance of non-CG imagery (many fire and explosion effects, for example) is very conspicuous. Later seasons also showcase an all-CGI variant of this by retaining models from Season 1 like Rhinox and Waspinator, showing off how old and underdetailed they are compared to the ones introduced in seasons 2 and 3.
- Actor Allusion: In "The Agenda: Part Three", Silverbolt looks up at Venus in the sky and says it reminds him of Blackarachnia. Blackarachnia's voice actress is named Venus Terzo.
- Actually Pretty Funny:
- In "Bad Spark", when Blackarachnia accepts Silverbolt's presence and companionship under the excuse of self-preservation and protection from Tarantulus, the two come across Tarantulus's severed limb hanging from a tree. Silverbolt says that there's no cause for alarm, since he has been disarmed. Both of them laugh after trying to hold in their snickers for several seconds.
- At the end of "Equal Measures", Optimus Primal scolds Cheetor for disobeying direct orders and orders him to never pull a stunt like that again. Cheetor answers that he'll never do such a thing again...until the next time he does it. Rhinox, Rattrap, and eventually Optimus as well laugh about Cheetor's statement.
- Admiring the Abomination: Megatron really likes the Vok and their doomsday machines, even when they're trying to kill him and the other Cybertronians.Megatron: Brilliant! They're causing a chain reaction which will rip this planet to atoms and destroy all traces of them, simply to deal with us! Such sheer ruthlessness. Such disregard for sentient life! ...I rather like these aliens.Terrorsaur: Like them?! They're trying to destroy us!
- Aerial Canyon Chase: Cheetor tries this in a canyon containing several closely spaced pillars. While he manages to shake off the newly awakened Silverbolt with this technique, Megatron simply ploughs through the pillars head-first to no ill effect.
- Affectionate Nickname: Blackarachnia has a wide, colorful selection of doggy nicknames she uses for Silverbolt ("Jojo", "Bowser," "chunk-style", etc.) It's pretty adorable.
- A God Am I: Megatron has one hell of a God complex. In the Grand Finale, he refers to his "imminent godhood" and quotes from the Covenant of Primus in reference to himself. This leads nicely into his view of himself all through Beast Machines as destined to ascend to godhood.
- A Handful for an Eye: During the Maximal/Predacon "truce" (which apparently allows combat so long as no weapons are used) Rattrap kicks a bunch of dirt in Waspinator's face, temporarily blinding him (even though he's a robot). Rattrap then proceeds to give Waspinator a noogie.
- All There in the Manual: The device in the "Other Visits" two-parter is called a Metal Hunter in the scripts.
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: WAR WAR! STOP IT! is the Japanese opening and "FOR THE DREAM" is the Japanese ending.
- Ancient Astronauts: The Vok. Word of God says their seemingly nonsensical experiments were an attempt to accelerate Humanity's evolution so they would be able to prevent the Vok's ancestors, Generation 2's The Swarm, from devastating Earth. The Maximals themselves later take on this role, opening a school for the cave people (complete with a blackboard) so they'll be ready for when the Decepticons wake up.
- And I Must Scream: In "Possession", it is revealed that, after being killed by Galvatron, Starscream's spark has been wandering through the universe for thousands of years, even traveling through time.
- Animal-Vehicle Hybrid: After gaining a Transmetal mode, several of the Maximals and Predacons acquire new modes for their beast forms: Optimus gained a skateboard for his Gorilla mode, Cheetor gained aerial wings, and later a back thruster, for his cheetah mode, Rattrap gained a pair of wheels, for his rat mode, Megatron gained skaters and a pair of thrusters for his Tyrannosaurus rex mode and Tarantulas gained motorcycle wheels for his tarantula mode.
- Animation Bump: While the CG was pretty good for its time, some sequences, such as Waspinator's resignation speech, contain especially fluid animation.
- Anyone Can Die:
- Out of a total named cast of twenty, only eight, not counting one-shot characters, make it out alive. This was largely due to Executive Meddling and software limitations. CG was relatively new at the time, and only a handful of characters could appear at once; add in the Merchandise-Driven nature of the franchise, and characters had to be removed to show off new toys. Luckily, the show ran with the punches and figured out how to swing the act properly each time someone had to bite itsave for Scorponok and Terrosaur and the infamous retconned death of Inferno in the second season finale.
- The remaining stasis pods were never found and presumed destroyed. note The body count is quite high for a kid's show.
- An Arm and a Leg: Losing limbs is a relatively common dramatic device, as they can always be reattached later.
- Arachnid Appearance and Attire: Tarantulas and Blackarachnia both have spiders as their alt modes and have spider-like traits even when in robot mode.
- Art Evolution: The CG was always top-notch, but as the hardware improved, so did the animation. The most dramatic leaps were season two of Beast Wars and then the jump to Beast Machines.
- A Storm Is Coming: The show actually has an episode called "Before the Storm."Megatron: There is a storm approaching. A storm of such power, such magnitude...it is beyond imagination.
- A-Team Firing: Constantly. Given that characters can only die a permanent death when scripted, the combatants on both sides are equally incompetent at landing shots when they need to be. (The few times they do score hits, the victim is usually just knocked out or non-lethally blown to bits, as the case with Waspinator.) Rhinox takes the cake, as he once ended up literally knee-deep in brass casings firing two of his chainguns of doom without actually hitting anything. Especially jarring for Dinobot, who shoots laser with his eyes and should reliably be able to hit what he can see.
- The one time someone's appalling marksmanship actually gets called out, it's as a setup to an Exactly What I Aimed At moment, courtesy of Rhinox and several tons of falling rocks.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Present, as per usual for a Transformers series, but downplayed at first. Optimus Primal and Megatron do start the series bigger (barring Dinobot), stronger, and better armed than the rest of the cast, but not to the same overwhelming degree as their G1 counterparts. They can and do lose engagements to foes that are not each other. However, as the series goes on, and they evolve into the various Transmetal forms, their power compared to their contemporaries increases exponentially; once he achieves his "Optimal" form, Optimus tends to wind up getting sidelined in most fights simply because he's heavily-armed enough to scatter the entire Predacon force pretty much singlehandedly.
- Autocannibalism: Dinobot disposes of his fully biological clone in "Double Dinobot" by eating it.
- Awesome, but Impractical: The Nemesis's main weapon is a scaled-up version of G1 Megatron's fusion cannon. Its firepower is immense and devastating, but it takes forever to fully charge. You can count the number of times it fired with just one hand.
- Back for the Dead: Tigatron and Airazor. They both get abducted by the Vok halfway through the second season, then come back as Tigerhawk, a fusion of them as one being, right before the series finale. And then Tigerhawk dies roughly ten minutes into the final episode.
- Back from the Dead:
- In "Coming of the Fuzors", Optimus Primal is reborn in a new body, complete with a Transmetal upgrade, because Rhinox retrieved his spark from the Matrix and re-inserted it into a blank protoform.
- Blackarachnia also gets this in "Crossing the Rubicon". She tries to delete the Predacon reprogramming inside her with Maximal programming and a Transmetal driver. Her attempts to reprogram herself cause the Predacon programming to retaliate and nearly kill her instead, but the Transmetal driver fuses with her body and allows her to revert back to a Maximal with a Transmetal II body.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Both Seasons 1 and 2 end on decisive victories for Megatron:
- Season 1 ends with Megatron successfully orchestrating the death of Optimus Primal, with his final words being "The Beast Wars are over, Optimus-You. Lose.
- Season 2 ends with Megatron infiltrating the Ark and shooting Optimus Prime in the head, retroactively altering the timeline so the Decepticons win the Great War and the Predacons rule Cybertron; the season ends with the Maximals fading out of existence and Megatron gloating.
- Band of Brothers: The Maximals. Though they took a long road to get there.
- Battle Cry:
- "Maximals, MAXIMIZE!!"
- "Predacons, TERRORIZE!!"
- "For the Royalty!"
- "For the glory of the colony!"
- Behind a Stick: In "Nemesis", Inferno is seen hiding behind a tree that is clearly too thin to conceal him when the recently base-less Predacons evade a Maximal patrol.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Whilst there are several jerkass Maximals who'll resort to morally ambiguous tactics, the nicer Maximals are not to be underestimated. Some of the Predacons learn this the hard way.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Throughout the series, nearly all of the Predacons (specifically, all those that aren't dinosaurs) have insect or arachnid beast modes. At one point, every Predacon aside from Megatron is at least half-arthropod.
- Bittersweet Ending: Out of all the Maximals who appear in the series, only six make it back to Cybertron alive. Pretty dark for a show that's geared towards selling toys to children.
- Blood Knight: Dinobot. It appears to be a trait of the Predacons in general, as illustrated when Optimus Primal and Megatron have their meeting about the truce.Optimus: When Predacons talk truce, it means they just want time to reload their weapons.
Megatron: Under normal circumstances, yes.
- Book-Ends: In the premiere and finale, Megatron ignores tactical advice from Dinobot (or in the latter case, a clone thereof) in favor of toying with his enemy/satisfying petty grudges. In both cases, it costs him. Not only this, but the exact wording - in the pilot, Megatron counters a suggestion to blast the enemy while their shields are down with "Now where's the fun in that?", while in the finale, "Where is the honor in that?" is Dinobot's criticism to Megatron's petty decision to annihilate proto-humans with fusion cannons.
- Not only that, but "where is the honor in that" is the question Optimus Primal asked Dinobot when he spared him in their duel.
- Borrowed Catchphrase: Optimus mimics Megatron's "yeeees" after musing the Predacon may be in over his head with the newly brainwashed Rhinox, while smirking at the audience.
- Terrorsaur likewise drops a smug "yeeees" after a successful bid to usurp leadership from Megatron in "Power Surge".
- Bulletproof Human Shield: Megatron pulls a disturbingly dark gambit on Dinobot by threatening to using a primitive human as collateral. Earlier in the episode, Dinobot uses Inferno to block Black Arachnia's spider leg guns, before shooting her with Inferno's gun and blowing Inferno's head sky high.
- Brass Balls: The pilot episode features Dinobot challenging Optimus Primal for the leadership of the Maximals. Rhinox's response:Rhinox: This guy's got bearings of chrome steel.
- Bridal Carry: Silverbolt carries Blackarachnia in his arms in "The Agenda, Part Three" when they start entering the Ark. How chivalric of him.
- Broad Strokes: The show is a follow-up to the continuity of Generation 1, but exactly which G1 continuity is left unclear because elements from both the cartoon and the comic book are used. This is justified in two ways in-universe: 1. the show is set hundreds of years after G1, and 2. the Maximal leaders have purposely obfuscated facts about the Great War to hide certain things (such as Starscream's immortality).
- Butt-Monkey: Waspinator is by far the biggest example. His many deaths can be watched here. From the 'bot himself:Waspinator: "Why universe hate Waspinator?"
- Scorponok and Terrorsaur have almost it as bad early on. Terrorsaur, in particular, initially rivals Waspinator for being blown to pieces. Unlike the poor bug, he still manages to remain a genuine threat, if only due to having one of the biggest arsenals in show.
- As a matter of fact, Waspinator is such a butt monkey that he appears most frequently as the enemy in the Quake-style FPS game Rattrap plays in his downtime.
- By the Power of Grayskull!: Maximals and Predacons shouting out their activation codes ("Maximize" and "Terrorize", respectively). At first, it seems like this is a requirement to transform to robot mode, but the trope winds up being subverted as the series wears on. After the first season, activation codes were said less often. Lampshaded at one point where Dinobot tries to infiltrate the Predacons and has to prove his allegiance by changing his activation code. Tarantulas notes that simply changing his activation code means nothing.
- Several characters, as seen in the Character sheets. The two most notable are Megatron's "Yes"/"No" Verbal Tic and Rattrap's Once an Episode "We're all gonna die."
- Often followed by a random Maximal replying: "Shut up, Rattrap."
- Optimus Primal's famous "Well, that's just Prime" phrase (usually used akin to the phrase "for the love of God") is used in the presence of the actual Optimus Prime, which causes Rattrap to lampshade it.
- Several characters, as seen in the Character sheets. The two most notable are Megatron's "Yes"/"No" Verbal Tic and Rattrap's Once an Episode "We're all gonna die."
- Characterization Marches On: A lot of the characterization is quite different in early Season 1, before the writers really worked out who the characters were. Scorponok, not Tarantulas, is the smart guy of the Preds; Tarantulas's focus seems to be entirely based on eating things; and Rhinox is the type of guy to say, "Yo, ease up." None of it jives very well with the characters as they eventually become.
- Chekhov's Gun: The first episode opens with the mention that Megatron has stolen the Golden Disk, one of Cybertron's most ancient and sacred relics. Once it is determined that it could not lead them to Earth, as Megatron had believed, the disk is quickly forgotten. It becomes a crucial plot point in season two and beyond.
- Chekhov's Skill: In "Gorilla Warfare." On a exploration mission, an Earth plant launches one of its seeds onto the back of Dinobot's back. Optimus later detaches a virus bug from himself and throws at the same point on Megatron.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Comes with the package of being a Predacon. At one point or another, all of Megatron's forces try to betray him, with varying degrees of success, except for Scorponok (who is not too bright) and Inferno (who is insane). Even Rhinox, during his temporary FaceHeel Turn, does this. To top it all off, the original Starscream makes an appearance and does what he does best. Megs is happy to put up with all of this as long as he can use it to his advantage.Megatron: (to Tarantulas) I can suffer your treachery, lieutenant, but not your incompetence! Treachery requires no mistakes.
- Circle of Standing Stones: Some are found in the first episode, indicating the Maximals and Predecons are not the first advanced races to visit this world. The aliens in question are eventually identified as the Vok.
- Closed Circle: Both ships are totaled during the initial crash, and rescue is next to impossible, considering that they've traveled through both space and time.
- Comic Trio: Inferno (schemer), Quickstrike (follower), and Waspinator (complainer) form one.
- Complexity Addiction: In the first scene of the pilot, Megatron has the Maximal ship cornered and damaged, but opts for a lateral shot so they will suffer, instead of destroying them outright. It ends up causing both ships to crash-land, and is thus the reason for the whole cartoon series.
- Computer Voice: The interface on both ships. It's an impassive masculine voice for the Maximals and a rather seductive feminine voice for the Predacons.
- Convection Schmonvection: The characters themselves get very close to lava without any adverse effect, but they are alien robots and can survive in environments that living beings cannot. All other combustible materials burst into flames at a proper distance.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Tarantulas' demise, while admittedly well-deserved, is still pretty horrible.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: The cast refers to Primus as their creator, and the Covenant of Primus seems to be some sort of Bible analogue. Once Megatron goes right off the deep end towards the end of the series, the Covenant goes from a cultural footnote to something that outright predicts things. The idea of Primus was actually nabbed from the Marvel Transformers comics, so this was actually a long-distance Continuity Nod.
- Decomposite Character: Optimus Primal and Beast Megatron. While the toyline's back story was changed to match the cartoon, the toyline originally set the events on present-day Earth, and instead of being legacy characters to their G1 namesakes, Primal and Beast Megatron originally were Optimus Prime and the original Megatron themselves, just with new forms. The cartoon made it so that Primal and Beast Megatron were instead descendants of the original characters.
- Deus ex Machina: In the finale, the Maximals, holed up in the Ark, are getting pummeled by the Decepticon warship Megatron just found. Thanks to a tip from Dinobot II, they find a working shuttle in one of the bays. They take that shuttle, kamikaze it into the enemy ship, and then fly home on it.Blackarachnia: The history tracks never mentioned this!
Rhinox: History's still being made!
- Dialogue Reversal: Between Silverbolt and Blackarachnia in "Bad Spark":
- Diminishing Villain Threat: Waspinator. While rarely a victor, he's initially portrayed as quite a competent fighter, as evidenced by his battle with Cheetor in the premiere. However, the writers soon made Waspinator comic relief, leading him to "getting blown to scrap all the time!" This led to Waspinator becoming one of the most popular characters in the series.
- Distant Sequel: Beast Wars has a cast from Cybertron in the distant future of the original cartoon, by which point the latter's events are the stuff of myth (even though some of its veterans are still alive). However, it also turns out that both the Maximals and Predacons have traveled to Earth in the distant past.
- Drama-Preserving Handicap: The risk of entering stasis lock and shutting down due to overexposure of energon. In Season 1 you could make a drinking game of how often stasis lock kicks in at just the wrong time to stop a plot from resolving too quickly, by forcing the Transformers to enter beast mode and/or keeping them from entering robot mode. Season 2 largely dropped this concept for reasons justified in-story with the destruction of most of the planet's energon deposits.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- The transformations are treated with much more gravitas. Each member shouts his name and transformation code out loud, and is seen to transform by him/herself. This is not limited to just the first transformation, either, as almost all of them in the first two episodes are this way. Similarly, a big case is made out of Optimus's inexperience at commanding. This is never referred to again once the pilot two-parter is over.
- The first season is noticeably more goofy than the following two.
- In the first few episodes, Scorponok's missiles have Maximal insignias on them, evidently the Cybertronian equivalent of marking your bullets with your victim's name. Viewers failed to pick up on this and wondered why a Predacon had weapons with the opposite faction's insignia on them, so later episodes have Scorponok's missiles bearing Predacon insignias instead.
- Earth All Along: The series begins with the Maximals and the Predacons ending up stranded on what they later discover is prehistoric Earth. Somewhat subverted in that The Predacons and Megatron knew it was Earth they were heading for the whole time, given that Dinobot mentions Earth in the pilot as their intended destination. Despite the doubts of all the Predaons during their crash landing, Megatron is eventually proven to be right about where they ended up.
- Electric Love: When Blackarachnia gains a Transmetal 2 body and kisses Silverbolt, she ends up shocking him. She tells him "Transmetal 2 power. Get used to it."
- Everybody Laughs Ending: Several episodes in Season 1. It would often be followed by an image of a butterfly flying by, just so you'd know how great life is.
- Evil Is Burning Hot: While the Maximal base is located near a river, the base of the Predacons is at a lava flow.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: If you don't go into this expecting a show about beasts and war, you have only yourself to blame.
- Expanded Universe: The IDW Beast Wars comics, which shoehorn characters from Beast Wars II and Beast Wars Neo, along with most of the toy-only characters, into the series. They are all either chronally displaced or on Cybertron, however, so it does not clash with the series.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: This is a very violent show, exploiting the Mecha-Mooks loophole as far as it can. Characters are bashed up, blown apart, shot, stabbed...and usually alive in the next episode. When someone actually dies, it tends to go even further: Tarantulas is vaporized by one of his own mad science devices, leaving nothing but his feet with smoke rising from them. The last we see of Terrorsaur is his desperately outstretched hand slowly descending into the lava. And we'll spare you the details of Depth Charge, Rampage, and Tigerhawk's deaths..
- Beast Wars Megatron popping a cap in Optimus Prime's head. He got better, but stillgiant gaping hole in the head of one of the biggest adored heroes of a generation.
- To say nothing of Dinobot's and Transmutate's heart-wrenching deaths.
- Beast Wars Megatron popping a cap in Optimus Prime's head. He got better, but stillgiant gaping hole in the head of one of the biggest adored heroes of a generation.
- Fartillery: After being poisoned by one of Tarantulas' creations in "The Low Road", Rhinox is forced to eat a large amount of beans to keep his energy up. During the final showdown, the cumulative effect of those beans hits all at once, leading to an explosion so powerful that it destroys Tarantulas' lab, sends the Predacons flying, and creates a mushroom cloud that can be seen from orbit.
- Fictional Video Game: In "Proving Grounds", Rattrap is seen playing a fighting game where he plays as Optimus Primal and battles Megatron as well as a Doom-style first-person shooter where he shoots at copies of Waspinator.
- Fling a Light into the Future: A villain example, Before the Great War from the original cartoon, the humans launched the golden disk which contained information about Earth into outer space. Megatron, the leader of the Decepticons, acquired it at some point and encoded an additional message on the disk. Presumably, the message indicates the location of the Ark and asks the descendants of the Decepticons to use transwarp technology to travel through time, gain access to the Ark using codes to Teletraan I encoded on the disk, and change history by killing Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots, before he can defeat Megatron and win the Great War.
- Rhinox makes a comment in the first episode that they do not even know when they are, because their FTL engines can move through time given certain circumstances. The fact the planet actually is prehistoric Earth does not come up until the beginning of the second season, mainly because the planet has two moons instead of one. Dinobot mentions Earth in the pilot as having been the intended destination for the Predacons, but the various differences from what they expected Earth to be initially fooled everyone aside from possibly Megatron, who was ultimately proven to be correct in his belief that they had indeed ended up on Earth.
- Episodes introducing a new character will often show the native animal their Beast Mode is based on before they emerge from their pod or starship.
- Halfway through the first season, Rhinox makes a comment that "one of the moons is lighter than it should be, almost as if it were...hollow." At the end of the first season, it is revealed that it is a planet-buster weapon.
- In "Call Of The Wild" the cheetah in Cheetor's dream falls into a lava pit. The fact that the Predacon base crashed on top of a volcanic area suggests at least one character is likely to die that way. In the second season premiere, Scorponok and Terrorsaur bite the dust...
- Throughout the first season, Tarantulas is hinted to know more of what is going on than any of the other characters. Among other things, he desires to recover a stasis pod to get off the planet alone as soon as possible before the above-mentioned Planet Buster hits. He also harnesses dark science and technology that is beyond any of the other Predacons' knowledge, even Megatron's, and has a scary obsession with the Vok. He's actually a descendant of Unicron who wanted the power of the Vok to alter the timeline so that the Autobots and Decepticons could be erased and the Tripedacus Council would rise to unchallenged supremacy.
- In the episode "Other Victories", a rotating picture of the Nemesis is clearly visible on one of Tarantulas's monitors. What he is up to is revealed one episode later, ushering in the Final Battle: He had finished repairing the ship for his own use.
- "Code of Hero" begins with an Astronomic Zoom ending on a crow, a symbolic harbinger of the theme of death which will culminate with Dinobot's Heroic Sacrifice.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: The first time the Vok speak to Optimus directly, they take the form of Unicron's head.Vok: We have no physical form you could comprehend. We chose this figure of authority from your datatrax.
- Four-Fingered Hands: Rhinox, Depth Charge and Transmetal II Cheetor all have four fingers on each of their hands..
- Gag Dub: The Japanese version of the show was rather less serious.
- Gambit Pileup:
- In the first season finale, Megatron, Blackarachnia and the Maximals all have their own individual plans for dealing with the destruction of the planet by the alien Vok, and almost all of their plans hinge on the different known factors of everyone else's plans.
- Tarantulas originally plans on escaping the planet in a stasis pod, Blackarachnia secretly plans to steal his stasis pod for herself and use it to escape, and Megatron purposefully allows the two of them to go about stealing said pod with the plan of forcing that pod (with the escapee still inside) to become a makeshift bomb used to destroy the alien Planet Buster. Optimus and the Maximals plan to use the pod for the same purpose, but with the idea that Optimus will escape the pod at the last second. (Megatron's version, which ultimately wins out, involves Optimus not escaping and dying in the explosion.)
- Interestingly, after Optimus dies in the explosion (which Megatron had originally meant for one or both of the spiders), Tarantulas's reaction is smug laughter, the kind he only ever does when he's just pulled off something deceitful. This leaves the implication that Tarantulas was well aware of Megatron's schemes too, and that his plan was to ready the pod and assume that either Blackarachnia, Inferno (on Megatron's orders) or Optimus would intercede (all tried to) and then die in Megatron's scheme, rather than him.
- Considering that his ultimate scheme is to destroy the Ark and both Autobots and Decepticons to negate the existence of all Cybertronianswhich Tarantulas is not one of, it turns out, it wouldn't have made sense for him to be willing to leave the planet anyway. Claims that he wanted to were likely for Blackarachnia and Waspinator's benefit, so that it would get back to Megatron. Thus, ultimately, it's Tarantulas pulling all the strings.
- That said, Tarantulas's ultimate scheme would have been achieved if he got off the planet anyway, as the planet was going to explode. That would have wiped out the Ark anyway. It's just as likely that Optimus piloting the pod was convenient rather than planned.
- Furthermore, this all depends on how one interprets Tarantulas's smug laugh. It is just as plausible that Tarantulas is simply gloating that Optimus has left it "too late" to jettison himself from the pod.
- Good Is Not Dumb: Optimus Primal is one of the most noble characters in the series, and one of the most cunning as well.
- Gray-and-Gray Morality:
- While the conflict on prehistoric Earth has a clear good and bad side, glimpses of Cybertron show that this is in full effect. Megatron is a rogue revolutionary who wants to kickstart a new Great War, is widely viewed as a dangerous lunatic even by those who agree with his philosophy, and clearly doesn't represent the Predacons as whole, even if the Tripredacus Council are bad guys. Likewise the Maximal leadership doesn't exactly have the moral highground over the Predacons, what with the horrifying genetic experiments that created Rampage, their subsequent cover-up of said experiments, and the fact that they've deliberately hidden and lied about events in the Great War.
- The comics and supplementary materials take it even further, with implications that Maximals tend to discriminate against Predacons due to the Great War. The many Predacons like Dinobot, Blackarachnia, and Waspinator, and the way defection is an option regardless of which side you're on, make it clear that the scumbags like Megatron and Tarantulas are very much the minority.
- Greater-Scope Villain:
- The 3H comics and supplementary material for the Japanese Generation 1 continuity established that Unicron was behind Tarantulas's plan to destroy the Ark with the Decepticons and Autobots on it, as it would mean that he could destroy Cybertron without the Matrix to stop him.
- There's also the original Megatron, who came up with a back-up plan to have any Decepticons go back in time and kill Optimus Prime in case the Decepticons lose the war, and he had the instructions coded on the Golden Disc. It's this plan that pretty much starts off the series once the current Megatron gets hold of said Golden Disc.
- Guile Hero: Optimus Primal gets to show his chops on occasion. In "Dark Designs", Rhinox is captured and reprogrammed into a Predacon. Primal's plan? Do nothing, because he knows that, freed of his morality, Rhinox is too smart and ambitious for Megatron to control. Rhinox ends up taking out the entire Predacon army before Megatron turns him back, at which point the Maximals run over the weakened Predacons and take him home.
- Healing Vat: Both sides have their own type. The Maximals posses a small, airtight, one person chamber, while the Predacons use a vat that resembles a hot tub. In fact Megatron is seen bathing in one on multiple occasions, complete with a rubber ducky.
- HeelFace Turn:
Megatron: What?! What possible reason do you have to disobey me?! I am your master! I am your creator!
- Dinobot at the beginning switches to the Maximals due to his distrust in Megatron, believing the plan has failed. But when it succeeds, he switches back, only to return to the Maximals after realizing that Megatron's gone mad. He remains with the Maximals until his Heroic Sacrifice.
- Silverbolt, though it's because of his dissatisfaction with being a Predacon.
- Blackarachnia defects to the Maximals in "Optimal Situation" after realizing that Megatron's plan would wipe her from existence.
- Dinobot's Transmetal 2 clone switches sides after Rampage dies and the former's spark becomes whole. This moment is the climax of the Beast Wars.
Dinobot 2: And I...have my honor!
- Hope Spot:
- Some episodes, such as "The Probe" and "Victory", involve the Maximals finding a way to get back to Cybertron, only for attacks by the Predacons or some other mishap sending them back to square one.
- After Depth Charge kills Rampage at the cost of his life, it seems the gigantic explosion that results has destroyed the Nemesis and thus prevented Megatron from using it. Unfortunately for the Maximals, this isn't the end.
- If You Die, I Call Your Stuff: In "Other Voices, Part 2," as Optimus Primal is about to embark on a mission that has the potential to end in a heroic sacrifice, Rattrap asks him "Uh...just in case you don't come back...can I have your quarters?" Then Primal does die, but a few episodes later comes Back from the Dead. At the end of the episode he returns in, he states that one of the things he has to do is "have Rattrap move all his junk out of my quarters!"
- Instant Awesome: Just Add Dragons!: Megatron's Transmetal II form. Later has its down side in the Contested Sequel, Beast Machines.
- In Their Own Image: According to G1's Megatron, this was the plan passed down to BW's Megatron. By going back to when the Autobots and Decepticons were in stasis lock and killing Optimus Prime, Megatron would create a time paradox that would remove Autobots, and thus Maximals, from existence, causing the Decepticons to win the Great War and shape the future in their image.
- Insane Equals Violent: When Inferno's stasis pod scans a fire ant for his alt mode, it also alters his logic, making him hell-bent on protecting the stasis pod he came in, perceiving it as his "colony". After the pod is destroyed by Maximals, he goes extremely Trigger Happy, often incinerating everything in sight any time Maximals show up.
- It Only Works Once: Optimus' death in the first season finale was undone several episodes into season two with the justification that the nature of his death, destroying the Planet Killer device, left a direct energy trail from his spark to the matrix, the transformer afterlife. Even then, retrieving him was said to push Rhinox's mental capacities to their limit and they needed a blank protoform body to put Optimus into. It was all very lucky they were able to get him back, and most certainly wouldn't be able to be done twice.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Though the plot itself is fairly straightforward, there's loads of subtle character moments, subplots, hints of larger forces at work, and background information that comes together to tell an even more complete story. Some of the subtle mysteries, ambiguities, and machinations of the show are still debated to this day, over 18 years after it first aired (as of this writing).
- Kangaroo Court: Quickstrike is given a "trial" for treason after he tries to kill Megatron while taking part in one of Tarantulas's schemes. Megatron is the judge (complete with powdered wig), Waspinator is the defense, and Rampage and Dinobot II are the jury. After Waspinator's "brilliant" summation, Megatron asks for the verdict. Rampage and Dinobot II immediately point their weapons at Quickstrike.
- Killed Off for Real: Quite common, as a result of the competing needs of introducing new characters and keeping the cast small. Terrorsaur and Scorponok are unceremoniously bumped off at the beginning of Season 2; Dinobot's death in "Code of Hero" counts, later developments notwithstanding. Then, of course, the last few episodes are spectacularly fatal, with Tarantulus offed by the Vok; Depth Charge sacrificing himself to kill Rampage; Tigerhawk, Inferno, and Quickstrike getting gunned down by a giant space battleship, and Dinobot's clone taking a leaf from his predecessor's book.
- Klingon Promotion: It was officially stated that Predacon leadership welcomes treachery under the rationale that leaders who cannot thwart a treacherous underling are probably not fit to be leaders.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Happens twice in "Dark Designs"
- Optimus smirks at the audience after dropping a "yeeeesss".
- Megatron and Blackarachnia share a nonplussed grimace to the audience at Waspinator's concussed antics.
- Left the Background Music On: In the third-season episode "Changing of the Guard", when the previously reluctant Rattrap is beginning to enjoy his submarine ride, cheery, upbeat music (a rarity for this series in general) begins playing. Cut to Silverbolt, listening to the music over his communicator with a puzzled expression.
- Licensed Game: The cartoon had two video game tie-ins: Beast Wars: Transformers for the PC and PlayStation as well as Beast Wars: Transmetals for the PlayStation and Nintendo 64.
- Lightning Reveal: When Waspinator was possessed by Starscream, there was a lightning storm. When the lightning flashed, it showed Starscream instead of Waspinator.
- Literal Disarming: Megatron has an Arm Cannon in the form of his T-Rex beast-mode's head, which fires powerful lasers out its mouth. Optimus had to resort to slicing it off altogether in one of his rare head-on fights with Megatron, and was pretty outclassed until he did.
- Look What I Can Do Now!: This technically happens any time a character receives an upgrade, which is quite often.
- Lost Superweapon: The Decepticon flagship Nemesis becomes this in the finale. Megatron learning the location of it kickstarts the endgame.
- Machine Blood: Hydraulic fluid and bits of metal go flying everywhere.
- Magnetic Plot Device: The Vok were an alien race who had a vested interest in the planet and left all sorts of powerful technology that the characters fight over. While there is certainly some continuity with Megatron's schemes, the Vok episodes tend to be the ones where things really start to shake up.
- Make Wrong What Once Went Right: As hinted in the first episode, the real reason the Predacons traveled to the past Earth was to destroy Optimus Prime within the Ark and establish the Predacons as the rulers of Cybertron.
- Market-Based Title: Canadian regulations do not allow a children's show to have the word "war" in its title, thus the show is called Beasties in Canada. Don't tell the really sensitive walks of fandom this; we'll NEVER hear the end of it. (War Planets, another Mainframe production, went under the alternate title Shadow Raiders also because of that same rule.)
- Meaningful Echo: In "Code Of Hero", Rattrap confronts Dinobot for his defection back to the Predacons: "'Oh yeah, he's a slag-spouting saurian, but at least you know where he stands!' Guess we live and learn." Later, after Dinobot saves the valley at the cost of his life, Rattrap repeats himself, "Like I said, you're just a blasted slag-spouting saurian, but...it's nice to know where you stand."
- "Upwind of you, for preference, vermin."
- Meat-Sack Robot: Ultimately what the characters are, as an inversion of a regular Cyborg. One episode the Predacons sabotaged the shielding used on the Maximal base so they had to remain in beast mode far longer than they normally would, and it resulted in them becoming more like the animals they adopted. Tigatron, being an arctic scout, was more accustomed to that issue and helped them adapt their beast form traits to their advantage. Beast Machines implied this was anticipated and used by the Oracle supercomputer for a greater "technorganic" revolution on Cybertron.
- Merchandise-Driven: One of the few genuine cases of such done properly.
- Mind Rape: As makes sense given their robot nature, multiple plots involve hacking or messing with their minds/sparks; the screaming and struggling that accompany it makes it clear that this is not a clean process.
- Mirror Morality Machine: Megatron uses a machine invented by Tarantulas to turn Rhinox into a Predacon in "Dark Designs".
- Missing Man Formation: Optimus, Cheetor, and Silverbolt fly overhead in the missing man formation during Dinobot's funeral.
- Mix-and-Match Critters:
- The Fuzors, Silverbolt and Quickstrike (the former turns into a wolf with avian wings while the latter's alt mode is a scorpion with a cobra for a tail). There are more of them mentioned in the IDW comics. Magmatron recruits them.
- Tigerhawk, due to being a fusion of Tigatron and Airazor, whose respective beast forms are a white tiger and a hawk.
- Mook Horror Show: During "Gorilla Warfare", Optimus goes on a rampage against the Predacons, hunting them down in their own base. At one point, he breaks through a wall to grab an obviously terrified Waspinator.
- Mugging the Monster: Sorta. In "Dark Designs", Megatron builds a brainwashing machine and tests it on Rhinox. Optimus rather accurately predicts the result: evil!Rhinox is too much for the Predacons to handle, and Megatron has to change him back to stand a chance.
- Mythology Gag: Numerous to the original series, but also to the original line of toys (including one knock at Hasbro's change from die-cast metal components to all-plastic).Rattrap: (Commenting on the Ark) This thing wasn't built...it was POURED!
Optimus Primal: Die-cast construction...(looks at the viewers, shrugs rather sadly) It's a lost art.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Cheetor firing upon Megatron in the first episode cemented the Predacons' decision to go to war with the Maximals after the crash. He also fired the first shot in his skirmish with Waspinator. Although Megatron said he was always planning to attack, he also said that it Cheetor who threw down the power gauntlet.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Rivals!: When Silverbolt and Rampage fight over Transmutate, she jumps into the crossfire and uses her powers to make her friends stop. This leads to her getting destroyed.
- Orcus on His Throne: For a guy that wants to gather enough energon to return to Cybertron and start a full-scale rebellion, Megatron spends a lot of time focusing on fighting the Maximals and not a lot of time on securing energon deposits or even trying to repair their ship to leave the planet. Turns out there's a pretty good reason for this: the energon wasn't his true goal in the first place, his interest is the planet itself, the prehistorical Earth, and the ability to change history through his actions here.
- Our Souls Are Different: This series establishes sparks as being the life force of a Transformer.
- Outrun the Fireball: Seen in the opening of every episode of the first season, no less.
- Overly Long Gag: Rhinox unloading his Chaingun of Doom into Waspinator during the climax of "Chain of Command". It's almost ten seconds of nothing but roaring gunfire and Waspinator screaming in pain.
- Painful Transformation: Every upgrade transformation is accompanied by screams, and the second upgrades of Optimus Primal and, to a far scarier extent, Cheetor have their new body parts burst through their old ones.
- The Pawns Go First: During one attack on the Maximals' base, Megatron told Quickstrike to go first. Inferno asked why he wasn't chosen to take point, to which Megatron replies, "When expecting booby traps, always send the boob in first!" Sure enough, Quickstrike got splattered before Megatron could finish the sentence.
- Pet the Dog: Rampage is a cannibalistic monster, but his treatment of Transmutate shows there's at least a tiny bit of goodness in him.
- Power Floats: The floating mountain of energon in the episode "Power Surge".
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Quite a few but special mention goes to the following exchange from "Code Of A Hero":Quickstrike: What's a warrior without weapons?Dinobot: A WARRIOR STILL!
- Premature Eulogy: Practically a running gag, with some characters receiving them multiple times over the series.
- Prequel: Theft of the Golden Disk and the comic "Dawn of Future's Past" both tell what happened before this cartoon's events.
- Public Hater, Private Fan: For all of Dinobot's bluster about Predacon virtues, he actually holds a great deal of respect for the Maximals. Largely due to Dinobot being an honorable warrior, while the remaining Predacons are not so honorable. Which the Maximals are.
- Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: Both teams start out like this, with the Predacons as a relatively hastily assembled group of renegades and the Maximals a group of scientists/explorers who happened to be the only ones in the area able to pursue them.
- Reality Ensues: Quite a few with regard to the war between the two factions.
- The extremely low character count — five on each side to start — means that any time a stasis pod shows up, it's a major priority to secure it and get a new comrade out of it, because with the numbers this low even a one-bot advantage is one neither side can afford to let the other get. For the same reason defection from one side to the other is treated very seriously.
- Flying Transformers are a serious threat, because they can get around quicker and easier and are also tricky to fight. A lot of episodes in the first season have the plot point of Optimus racing Terrorsaur and Waspinator to some objective point or being the only one able to fight them on equal footing (so to speak) because he's the only Maximal that can fly (Airazor joined them later). In the second season, Megatron becoming transmetal and able to fly himself was a big equalizer in his battles with Optimus.
- The cast's beast modes are terribly inconvenient for them in the first season, acting as a Drama-Preserving Handicap that forces them into their beast modes at times when they need to be in robot mode for mobility and/or combat. The episode "The Probe" makes this a major plot point in the climax when Rhinox is forced to transform into beast mode when operating a computer, and with the rest of the Maximals also stuck in beast mode, Optimus has to finish Rhinox's work because he's the only one with hands in his beast mode.
- "Reason You Suck" Speech: Dinobot delivers a brief but awesome one to Megatron in "Maximal No More" :Dinobot: Your ambition had made you insane Megatron! It will destroy both Maximal and Predacon! And all who came before...
- Reflecting Laser: Intentionally invoked, albeit with a laser built for communication, not as a weapon: long-range communication was rendered impossible due to energon interference, so bouncing a laser off the moon was the only way to signal a downed stasis pod and activate its DNA scanners.
- The Remnant: The Predacons. The same applies to Ravage, one of the few remaining original Decepticons, and also Starscream's ghost.
- Renegade Splinter Faction: Megatrons crew are considered criminals by Predacon standards, which eventually leads to the Tripredacus Council sending an assassin to destroy them. Not due to any innate violations of Predacon morality, but because the high profile theft of Maximal artifacts and dangerous plans they have are considered dangerous to the long term goals of the majority of the Predacon faction.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Megatron, Terrorsaur, Quickstrike (part of him anyway), and Dinobot II (for a while) all have reptilian/dinosaur beast modes. So does the original Dinobot, though unlike the others, he is an honourable warrior. That said, he retains some of his Predacon sensibilities even after he defects to the Maximals. His clone also pulls a HeelFace Turn by the end of the series (when Rampage dies and Dinobot II's Spark is fully formed) and performs a Heroic Sacrifice to stop Megatron's plans, crashing the Nemesis in the process.
- Ret-Canon: Prior to the series premiere, the toyline painted the events as happening on present-day Earth, and instead of being Legacy Characters of Optimus Prime and the original Megatron, Optimus Primal and Beast Megatron were the same characters as their G1 namesakes, just with new forms. Once the cartoon debuted, the toyline's backstory was changed to match up with it.
- The Reveal: The Golden Disc was not just a map to an energon goldmine, it was a backup plan left by G1's Megatron with instructions for the Decepticons' descendants to travel back in time, gain access to the Ark, and kill Optimus Prime and any other Autobots that would stop the Decepticons from winning the Great War. This data was hidden on the actual historical Golden Record launched into space during the 1970s.
- Revealing Reflection: When the Vokk probe comes to the Standing Stones, a fight breaks out around it. When Rhinox goes to examine the probe, he notices Waspinator trying to sneak up on him reflected on its surface and turns to give the wasp a face full of Gatling Goodness.
- Revenge Before Reason: Depth Charge only cares about one thing; destroying Protoform X/Rampage. Everything else, including protecting the Ark and preserving history, is secondary to that.
- Rewatch Bonus: Word of God revealed that Dinobot knew he was going to die five episodes before he actually did right up til the last moment. Rewatching said episodes with this knowledge causes a lot of Dinobot's actions and dialogue to take on a whole new meaning.
- Right Man in the Wrong Place: Optimus's crew were mere scientists starting an exploration mission who just happened to be the only ones in the area when a certain crew of renegade Predacons zoomed by in a stolen ship.
- San Dimas Time: Integral to the second season. In "Code of Hero", Rhinox calculates that the shockwave from the Planet Buster explosion is moving into the future, and will reach contemporary Cybertron in a matter of weeks. Sure enough, "reinforcements" from the future arrive at that point, rather than travelling back to immediately after the explosion.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Protoform X a.k.a. Rampage. He is the result of Maximal experiments to produce an immortal super-soldier by copying Starscream's mutant spark. They got that part right in the form of an unkillable serial killer who slaughtered human and Cybertronian alike. After eventually capturing him, the Maximal Elders sealed him up in a stasis pod, then turned him over to Optimus Primal's crew to dump on some desolate asteroid, since they couldn't figure out how to destroy him. Several adventures later, the monster is unleashed again and recruited by the Predacons.
- Sealed Good in a Can: The stasis pods all containing protoforms that are Maximals are this by default, but can be reprogrammed with a little know-how to produce a Predacon. This turns every time a protoform makes planetfall into a race between the two factions to recruit the newcomer.
- Second Person Attack: This infamous scene has a double version, plus an Impairment Shot of seeing double and falling over after the punch.
- Shoot the Hostage: Dinobot tries this to use Tarantulus as a hostage against Megatron. The problem with this scenario is that he tries to use Tarantulus as a hostage against Megatron.Dinobot: (holding Tarantulas) Do not fire, Megatron! I have a hostage!
Megatron: Why, so you do. *Fires*
- Showdown at High Noon: It was actually at sundown, but at the end of the episode "Coming of the Fuzors Part 1," the Predacons rally around Megatron and the three Maximals ready their weapons, before both sides draw their guns in classic shootout fashion. Comes complete with a riff straight out of the The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Dinobot: Wait! Look! Down in the sky! Is it a bird?
- The scene in "Gorilla Warfare" where Optimus stalks Waspinator before pulling him through a wall is inspired by Robocop.
- In "Victory", the scene where Optimus is falling from the Axalon after being shot by Scorponok in his beast mode resembles a scene in King Kong (1933).
- There's also this one to Superman, complete with a Suspiciously Similar Song version of Supes's Main Theme:
Rhinox: Maybe a plane!
Rattrap: Nah! IT'S OPTIMUS!!
- In Dark Designs, Cheetor's "Better dead than Pred" is a pun on an anti-communism message from The '50s.
- Another scene, in which Optimus brandishes his swords before Megatron shoots him down, is reminiscent of the duel between Indiana Jones and the Cairo swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Dinobot pushing Scorponok into his rotor blade weapon echoes the demise of the German engineer in the same movie.
- Airazor's pose in "The Low Road" is a direct reference to the famous Star Wars poster.
- The sequence in Season 3 where Megatron is using the Transmetal Driver to create the new Dinobot II from a blank Protoform draws heavily from the classic film Frankenstein (1931).
- In the episode "The Probe," the search-and-rescue probes sent out from Cybertron, shot for shot, mirror the Imperial probe droids from the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back.
- Several to classic Looney Tunes, mostly involving Waspinator getting scrapped.
- Rock'em Sock'em Robots battle between Rhinox and Inferno in Season 2. Colors even match.
- Megatrons Verbal Tic of a long drawn-out "Yeeeess..." or "Noooo..." was originally used by the character Death's Head in the UK version of the Transformers comic book.
- The head writers involved were very active in the online fandom. As a result, these cropped up all the time, often in the form of locations. Subsector Hooks and Grid Joona, for example, are named after fans who posted on the alt.toys.transformers usenet group at the time.
- At one point a concussed Waspinator refers to himself as "Wonko the Sane." While originally the name of a minor character in So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, the specific reference was to a Beast Wars fan, Benson Yee, who used this name as an online alias. Yee was recruited as a continuity consultant for the second season finale. The Beast Wars crew recognized the value of the fandom.
- What may have been a very subtle Shout Out was Cheetor's weapon sound effect. It sounded just like Mega Man's from the cartoon. Both were voiced by Ian Corlett.
- Rattrap and Optimus's dialog about the Ark, how "that ship wasn't built, it was poured" and "die-cast construction: it's a lost art" are both about how the original G1 Transformer toys (well, the better, larger ones) all had die-cast parts for at least half the body.
- Speaking of the Ark, it's appearance here was partially modeled after both the version seen in the G1 cartoon, as well as the USS Defiant (especially the nose area).
- Megatron's first appearance to Optimus after he gets his new dragon body: "Enter the Dragon!"
- Shout-Out to Shakespeare:
- "Tell my tale to those who ask. Tell it truly, the ill deeds along with the good, and let me be judged accordingly. The rest...is silence," says Dinobot before dying.
- In the earlier episode "Victory", Dinobot says: "Alas! Poor Tarantulas. I knew him, Cheetor." Dinobot was holding Tarantulas's severed spider legs, though, not his severed head.
- Dinobot also tosses out a "To be or not to be, that is the question" when contemplating Free Will vs Fate.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: In the final episode, Optimus delivers an epic one to Megatron.Megatron: Come on, now, let's hear it. The usual "destiny and honor" speech.
Optimus: Speech this! *clocks Megatron in the jaw*
- Sliding Scale of Free Will vs. Fate: Dinobot spends most of the 2nd season contemplating his fate and whether he has any control over it, once he discovers Megatron has a method to predict the future using the golden disk. Dinobot goes through enough grief that he joins the Predacons for the simple reason they're more likely to win, and after rejoining the Maximals, he contemplates suicide. He finally finds his answer witnessing Megatron directly changing the future of his own free will. Dinobot becomes relieved and ironically finds himself with no choice but to perform a Heroic Sacrifice to thwart Megatron's plan to wipe out human existence. In death, Dinobot finds peace, knowing he died from actions of his own free will.
- The Smurfette Principle: While the original cast was entirely male, female characters Blackarachnia and Airazor were introduced in the first season. However, with Airazor getting beamed into space by some freaky alien plants midway through the second season, Blackarachnia remains the only female in half of the second and the entire third season. However, Airazor does return as Tigerhawk, a fusion of both her body and Tigatron's, but the character is presented as male.
- Soul Jar: In his debut episode, Megatron slices out half of Rampage's spark and locks it in a small container full of energon crystals. Whenever the reluctant Predacon gets uppity, he squeezes it, causing Rampage to double-over and scream in agony.
- Squashed Flat: Happens to several characters. The writers really liked dropping heavy things on the poor bots.
- Strong as They Need to Be: Shots could stagger an opponent, dent their plating, knock them off their feet, send them flying, or dismantle them, depending only on what was needed for the plot. This applied to any projectile, from energy blasts to missiles.
- Story Arc: Less obvious in the first season, but becomes prominent in the other two with the Vok and Golden Disc issues.
- Stuff Blowing Up:
- The show has a lot of explosions. At least one of the Transformers will be blown up in every episode.
- Not counting Waspinator, who gets blown to bits in nearly every episode regardless.
- Taking You with Me: In the opening space battle, the Darksyde manages to shoot down the Axalon first, but as the Maximal ship falls from orbit it fires off a few final shots that cripple the Predacons too.
- Probably the reason why Rampage lets Depth Charge destroy his spark in Nemesis, Part 1.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Early on, the Maximals are as prone to internal squabbles as any crew of 'Cons, and these are only exaggerated by the addition of a Predacon defector to the team. They eventually overcame this, but still have a few hiccups now and again.
- Temporary Blindness: Rhinox, Rattrap, Dinobot, and Cheetor experience this in "Dark Voyage" when an accident shorts out their optic sensors. They spend the rest of the episode trying to get back to base so that they can use the CR chamber to restore their sight.
- That's No Moon!: The "second" moon at the end of season 1. Said revelation results in Earth All Along.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Megatron's speech at the end of the second season after he attempts to kill the original Optimus Prime appears to be addressed to the viewers as much as it is to the Maximals, especially since it ends with remarking "And you...you no longer exist!".
- They Don't Make Them Like They Used To: Optimus and Rattrap conclude this when they try to enter the Ark.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: How time travel works in this series is a bit inconsistent.
- On the Screw Destiny front: it becomes a major plot point in Season 2 that the past can be changed, and this is directly demonstrated. Not to mention the season finale where Megatron destroys Optimus Prime, causing time to twist into a pretzel for a moment now that the course and outcome of the Great War is irrevocably changed.
- On the Stable Time Loop front: the Nemesis is found crashed in the ocean and is raised to crash land in a jungle instead, lining up with the G1 canon. Earth also certainly doesn't have a second moon in the present; while the presumption the Vok utilized their planet-buster or else took it away at some point before G1 happened, that begs the question of why they did so.
- Considering that the second moon is the Planet Buster, and Optimus Primal destroys it with a transwarp detonation in order to stop it from destroying the Earth, this point at least has an explanation.
- This also is to all say nothing of the wreckage of the ships and the Transformers themselves, the significant geography changes caused by the Vok's planet buster, the way the Transformers directly influenced human evolution, and so forth. The series never explores the potential repercussions of any of these events, so it's not clear if they were part of the Stable Time Loop stuff where these events always happened, or part of the Screw Destiny front where they did change the future but in ways not so great as to be of note.
- Title Drop: Done by Dinobot in "Maximal No More".Dinobot: From this day forth, I am Maximal no more.
- Title Scream: The only lyrics in the opening are "BEAST WAAAAAAAAAARS".
- Toxic Phlebotinum: Energon is basically this for the first season in particular; it can be a useful power source, but in its current raw state the energy it produces would basically cause the Maximals and Predacons to overload if they were exposed to it in their robot forms for more than a few minutes.
- Toyline-Exclusive Character: As usual for a Transformers show, but Beast Wars was especially Egregious in this regard; the merch contained countless characters that never made it into the show due to the high costs of making an All-CGI Cartoon.
- Unusual Euphemism: Several, considering that the main cast are robots, not humans. Common examples are Rattrap's "Oh, for bootin' up cold!" and the general-purpose expletive "Slag!"
- Verbal Tic: Megatron's constant habit of tacking "Yeeesss" onto his sentences. Likewise, he also says "No" quite frequently.
- Waspinator has a tendency to pronounce s's as z's and draw them out, resulting in things like pronouncing his name as "Wazzzzpinator". He also has a habit of devolving into muttering that sounds like buzzing. Notably, the writers hated the way he spoke so much, both because it was annoying and it ate up a lot of time, that they resorted to quickly knocking him out of fights so they wouldn't have to deal with him.
- In the Japanese dub, everyone had a phrase that they would end their sentences with, usually a gag based on their beast mode.
- Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey: Once Waspinator's role as a Butt-Monkey was established, he had this dynamic with the more serious Megatron.
- Villains Out Shopping: Various episodes had the villains not devote all their time and energy to plotting. Megatron would do things like play with his rubber duck or brush the teeth of his T-Rex head. He also once interrupted a game of cards between Inferno, Waspinator and Quickstrike to demand a status report.
- Vitriolic Best Buds/Volleying Insults: Rattrap and Dinobot regard each other as friends but also can't resist ribbing each other.
- Was Too Hard on Him: Zig-zagged in "Equal Measures." In the ending, Optimus apologizes to Cheetor for reprimanding him too harshly, only for Cheetor to say no, he was right to tell him because he was being too impulsive, and from that day forward, "this cat's a team player."
- Weaponized Landmark: The Standing Stones are actually a communicator beacon/containment grid for the Vok. Also, the second moon.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The Stasis pods. In the first episode, the Maximals release the stasis pods to prevent them from being damaged from crashing on the planet, and at least two dozen can be counted. Considering the few number of new characters introduced and the dud stasis pods used for other purposes, it's possible several stasis pods remained around the planet's orbit by the end of the series without the Maximals mentioning them.
- "Other Voices, Part One" established that all the pods fell out of orbit when the Planet Buster was activated. The ones that weren't recovered were likely either destroyed when they crashed or were/became blanks.
- Where's the Fun in That?: In the episode "Beast Wars: Part 1":Dinobot: Their defence shields are down! Destroy them!
Megatron: Now where's the fun in that?
- Witch with a Capital B: Tarantulas occasionally refers to Femme Fatale Blackarachnia as "witch." And no, this show does not use magic...
- Sometimes when show is broadcast the word "witch" is replaced with "widow," likely due to this trope.
- With Us or Against Us: "Law of the Jungle": after Tigatron's departure from the Beast Wars (until the Preds make him return to the Maximal side), there is a short dialogue between him and Dinobot:Dinobot: That is the law of the jungle. The hunters and the hunted. Scrap or be scrapped.
Tigatron: Animals hunt to survive!noteDinobot: And what do you think war is about?! Maximals may believe in peace, but Predacons...you do not really know the Predacons. We...they live for the glory of conquest. If Megatron takes the energon wealth of this world unopposed, he will begin a war that will destroy Cybertron and shatter galaxies, until only one side survives. It has been this way for millions of stellar cycles, ever since the Autobots and Decepticons began the Great War.Tigatron: Peace will never come until someone agrees NOT to fight!
Dinobot: The Predacons will not allow it! They'll destroy or reprogram you.
Tigatron: They won't find me...
Dinobot: I found you...
Dinobot jumps to Tigatron with his claws.
Tigatron: What are you doing?!?!
Dinobot: If you are not with us, you are against us!
- World of Ham: Yeeesss.... Between Megatron, Inferno, and all the characters voiced by Scott McNeil, there is surprisingly still plenty of scenery left for all the other characters to chew.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Subverted. After getting a disk that shows a history of Earth from the perspective of the future, Dinobot is torn on what to do with it. If experimenting with the disk proves that this trope is in effect, he will have no choice but to kill himself in the face of realizing he is not "the master of (his) fate" and there is no such thing as free will. Later, he witnesses Megatron testing the disk: He blows up a mountain whose image is recorded on the disk, and the image on the disk changes accordingly, proving that fate can be fought and one's actions and choices are not predetermined or set in stone. In this moment, Dinobot at last knows that he is the master of his own fate...though as Megatron intends to abuse this discovery to change history for the worse, Dinobot's sense of honor means there is only one course of action left to him.
- You're Insane!: Tigerhawk says this to Tarantulus, who shrugs it off with a casual "So they say," and a particularly indulgent and spittle-y Evil Laugh.
- Your Size May Vary: Unlike most Transformers shows, the approximate size of the characters remains consistent.
- You Shall Not Pass!: Tigerhawk pulls one of these when he faces off against the Decepticon war ship Nemesis.