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Western Animation / The Transformers: The Movie
aka: Transformers The Movie

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Spoilers for this film, as well as all preceding seasons of The Transformers, will be left unmarked. You Have Been Warned!
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The Transformers: The Movie is a 1986 animated film and the first film in the Transformers franchise, co-produced and directed by Nelson Shin and written by Ron Friedman. It is rooted in the Generation One plot centered on the original animated TV series and associated comics from the mid-1980s, and spawned major continuity changes in that timeline, including major series plot changes. It did not have as big of an impact on the comics, since the additional space-based elements were largely inspired by ideas from the comics that had not made their way into the series, which up until then had been a relatively simple children's TV show.

The plot of the film takes us 20 Minutes into the Future to the far-off Year 2005, where the battle between Autobots and Decepticons has moved back to the mechanical world of Cybertron, presumably thanks to the humans apparently wising up and adopting Autobot technology in the interim, allowing regular space travel back and forth to the Transformers' home planet.

The animated film introduces, for the first time, the biggest bad in the Transformers multiverse, Unicron (voiced by Orson Welles in his final film), who is en-route to gobbling up Cybertron after stopping off for a snack on the way. In the course of battling him and the Decepticons, a lot of Generation One robots die to make room for a new line-up, traumatizing many youngsters who had gotten used to the lack of permanent death in the TV series.

The film also stars Eric Idle as Wreck-Gar, Judd Nelson as Hot Rod, Leonard Nimoy as Galvatron, Robert Stack as Ultra Magnus, Lionel Stander as Kup and John Moschitta as Blurr.

Shout! Factory now has the home media rights to the film and released it on DVD and Blu-ray on September 13, 2016, in time for the movie's 30th anniversary.

(Note: This is about the Generation One original animated film. For the live-action films, see Film.Transformers Film Series.)

Spoiler notice: There are unmarked spoilers in this article.

The Transformers: The Movie provides examples of:

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  • 11th-Hour Superpower: "Arise...Rodimus Prime." The Matrix of Leadership infuses Hot Rod with its power in the final act, turning him into the larger and stronger Rodimus Prime. Rodimus Prime easily overpowers Galvatron and hurls him into space.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: "It is the year 2005." The movie came out in 1986. Interestingly, most of the new Autobots' alt-modes are considered futuristic Earth vehicles, even though they resemble Cybertronian vehicles. note 
  • Acid Pool: Unicron's body has giant acid vats that can melt a Transformer down in mere seconds.
  • Actor Allusion: Cliffjumper provides a countdown for the launch of the Autobot shuttle. His VA, Casey Kasem, was best known for his weekend Top 40 countdown radio show.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Massive introduction of new backstory, continuity, and other worlds, to a series that had been about 'bots blowing each other up in the US outback.
  • Affirmative Action Girl: Arcee is introduced here as the first prominent female Autobot. Unlike Elita One and the other female Autobots seen in the show's episode "The Search for Alpha Trion", Arcee goes on to become a major character in the cartoon.
  • Agony Beam: Unicron causes Galvatron unimaginable pain through their link whenever Galvatron fails him or steps out of line.
  • Agony of the Feet: Starscream's foot gets stuck while Autobot City is transforming. In order to free himself, he's forced to shoot his own foot.
  • Aliens Steal Cable: The Junkions get their entire culture from intercepted TV shows.
  • All There in the Manual: Where were Omega Supreme and the other combiners? The 2006 comic adaptation reveals that they were fighting each other outside the Ark. Also in this adaptation are the deaths of Shockwave and Beachcomber (though he lives in the cartoon). For the combiners, this can be justified since they didn't exist when the script was written, and if Omega Supreme was there, there'd be no drama!
  • Almost Dead Guy: Both Megatron and Optimus are left barely alive after their battle. Optimus gasps out a last message before expiring, and Megatron is unceremoniously booted out of Astrotrain by Starscream and left for dead, whereupon Unicron finds him and reformats him into Galvatron.
  • Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: The Autobot Matrix of Leadership is the receptacle of the power of the Primes and is the one thing in the entire universe that Unicron fears.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Kup loses his left arm and right leg when Hot Rod rescues him from the octopus on Quintessa. Fortunately, Hot Rod reattaches them in the aftermath.
  • Animation Bump: The film easily contains the highest quality of animation out of the entire G1 series courtesy of Toei Animation. In fact, the animation is so high quality that it was reused for the commercial for Transformers: Armada Unicron 17 years later, and the scenes from the movie were better looking than the actual footage of Unicron from Armada. Within the movie itself, the opening scene of Unicron destroying Lithone, Unicron's transformation, Starscream's death, and the final battle of Optimus Prime and Megatron are particular highlights.
    • One reason this bump occurred was the $6,000,000 budget (The equivalent budget for three episodes being closer to $750,000 - $1,000,000) - compared to the usual Japanese prices of making anime movies, the budget was absolutely astronomical, allowing some of the greatest mecha animators to be recruited during production. Indeed, the Movie stands as an absolutely exceptional piece of mecha animation in general even to this day.
  • Anyone Can Die: Done intentionally to clear the decks for a new round of characters/toys in the franchise. This proved a bit startling for a generation of latchkey kids used to worshiping Optimus Prime, and to their parents who were used to animated TV shows where nobody dies. The full list of characters who are confirmed to die or are reformatted beyond recognition in the movie is Optimus Prime (though he gets better later on due to massive backlash), Megatron, Starscream (he, too, comes back, first as a ghost and then physically), Prowl, Ironhide, Brawn, Ratchet, Wheeljack, Windcharger, the Insecticons, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Gears, Shockwave, Bluestreak, and Huffer. That's almost half of the cast. More deaths were planned but left out including Red Alert and Smokescreen.
    • Because the film wasn't released in Japan until 1989, several characters who died in the film show up alive and well in the Japanese-exclusive series, these being Prowl, Wheeljack, and Ironhide. In recent years, it was explained that yes, Prowl and Wheeljack did indeed die in the Japanese cartoon continuity's version of the movie, but were replaced by their dimension-hopping counterparts.
  • Apocalypse Wow: The opening scene featuring the destruction of an entire planet by Unicron. There are baby robots down there!
  • Arc Words:
    • "Light Our Darkest Hour", first said by Optimus, is the mantra by which the Matrix is finally opened.
    • More humorously, the 'Universal Greeting' - "Bah Weep Grah Na Weep Ninny Bong", first used by Kup in a failed attempt to befriend the Sharkticons, is later used successfully by Hot Rod to befriend the Junkions.
    • "Till All Are One", also first spoken by Optimus, becomes a mantra for the Autobots during the film at various parts, and is also referenced in parts of the third season afterwards.
  • Art Evolution: Toei Animation's finest work in the series after their big break with Fist of the North Star's film adaptation in the same year,note  and it shows. Afterwards, Toei worked part-time for this series after the movie, with AKOM animating most of the third seasonnote  (infamously so due to the amount of coloration and animation errors, as well as the general cheapness of the production, having already been demonstrated in the three episodes AKOM animated in Season Two), with many of the episodes Toei animated often being cited as some of the best-looking episodes of the series (notably "The Ultimate Weapon", "Call of the Primitives" and "The Return of Optimus Prime").
  • Art Shift: A fairly minor (and possibly also intentional) one. During Starscream's coronation on Cybertron, he, Astrotrain and Ramjet are drawn in a style not to dissimilar to that of a series like Blue Comet SPT Layzner as opposed to the other Decepticons, who are drawn normally.
  • Artistic License – Physics: When the Decepticons are retreating after the Battle of Autobot City, Astrotrain says they need to jettison excess weight, there's no gravity in space, weight would not be a problem, this is just an excuse for Megatron and the others to be rebuilt into Galvatron, Cyclonus, Scourge and his armada.note  It almost becomes Accidentally-Correct Writing: too much mass would have made acceleration difficult.
  • As Lethal as It Needs to Be: In some scenes Transformers die from one hit by pistol-sized laser guns, but in other scenes they are just knocked down (like Starscream during the battle for Autobot City) or even simply shrug them off (like Optimus Prime in the same battle). Hand Waved by the fact the Decepticons are fully powered with Energon, and grow progressively weaker as they fight.
    • Played perfectly straight with the small handgun Megatron picks up to shoot Prime. True, he's aiming right for the spot where Optimus was previously damaged in repeatedly, but it is incongruously given the same sound effect as his massive arm-mounted fusion cannon and does damage far beyond what a little gun would ever do in this series.
    • The above could be explained away by Megatron himself (who, as his Tech Specs say) being able to interdimensionally draw upon the energy of a black hole to fuel his blasts. This would give even a smaller laser pistol firepower far beyond its normal.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership:
    • After shoving an injured Megatron into space, the Decepticons promptly have an all-out brawl to determine who gets to be the new leader. Starscream apparently wins, but then Galvatron takes the job by showing up and atomizing him with a single blast. The writers, when asked, explained that Starscream "won" by hiding quietly in a corner while all the other Decepticons fought, then shot the exhausted actual winner in the back.
    • This also appears to be the way of the Sharkticons. When it becomes clear they can't beat the Dinobots, they relent, and obey Grimlock instead of the Quintesson magistrate.
      Magistrate: Sharkticons, execute them!
      Grimlock: [re: the Quintessons] Me Grimlock say execute them!
  • Attack the Injury: At one point in the Optimus Prime vs Megatron duel, Megatron wounds Optimus by throwing a sharp piece of debris and then slashing him with a Laser Blade. Much later, when Megatron appears defeated, he spots a fallen blaster, and shoots Optimus multiple times in his earlier wound. This ultimately proves fatal for Prime.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: The Trope Namer.
    • Plenty of rock music when the Autobots are kicking ass, best exemplified by "The Touch", though "Dare" is close.
    • Inverted during Megatron's assault on the Autobot shuttle, when the Decepticons annihilate its occupants while "Instruments of Destruction" plays in the background.
    • Subverted when Kup and Hot Rod are fed to the Sharkticon pit with the song "Hunger". The song in the context of the film would apply to the Sharkticons, but the scene is of Hot Rod and Kup trashing as many of them as they can before they're overwhelmed, only to be saved in the nick of time by the Dinobots.
    • Hell, with the opening theme getting a heavy metal remix, the entire movie could count as the awesome moment of the series.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Despite the relatively high amount of violence and deaths in the film, it was originally going to be rated "G" (as said violence was "merely" robot-on-robot violence), and so the creative team realized that to bump that up to a more preferable "PG" rating, they would have to deliberately cross some lines. The most obvious result of this was the infamous line "Oh shit, what are we gonna do now?" (and "Open, dammit, open!" may have served that purpose too). Hilariously, this one was done so the parents would have to accompany their children to the film and know which toys to buy their kids (as well as buy an extra ticket). Didn't matter in the UK where the film got a U certificate anyway.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Galvatron, upon first being created from the body of Megatron.
      Galvatron: I will rip open Ultra Magnus, and every other Autobot, until the Matrix has been destroyed!
    • Unicron, to Galvatron, when announcing the punishment for attempting to betray him.
      Unicron: You underestimate me, Galvatron...*transforms into a gargantuan Transformer around Galvatron* For a time... (clenches his gigantic fist) I considered sparing your wretched little planet Cybertron. But now, you shall witness... its DISMEMBERMENT!
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work:
    • When Megatron is reformatted into Galvatron, he disrupts Starscream's coronation, kills him and reclaims leadership of the Decepticons.
    • Although his intent was to destroy the planet in its entirety, Unicron wrecks enough of Decepticon-controlled Cybertron that the Autobots are able to retake the planet once he's defeated.
  • Bad Vibrations: The glasses in the opening scene drop from the table because of the heavy vibrations coming from the approaching Unicron.
  • Big Bad: Unicron, of course. Aside from the fact he's the biggest villain introduced (literally planet-sized), Unicron sets the main plot in motion by forcibly reformatting a dying Megatron into Galvatron and making him his slave to destroy the Autobot Matrix of Leadership. When Galvatron eventually rebels, Unicron decides to destroy Cybertron for Galvatron's insolence, becoming the final threat of movie.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Dinobots bust down a giant door (which lands on the prosecutor) to save Kup and Hot Rod from being overwhelmed by the Sharkticons, and Grimlock immediately takes charge.
  • Big Damn Movie: This film takes the scale of the animated show and cranks it up really high.
  • Big "NEVER!": The conclusion to Optimus Prime and Megatron's fight, when it looks like Megatron would be the winner:
    Megatron: I would have waited an eternity for this! It's over, Prime!
    Optimus Prime: (throwing a two-handed punch) NEVER!!
  • Big "NO!":
    • Ironhide's reaction to Megatron's declaration of destroying Autobot City and the Autobots.
    • Galvatron's horrified reaction to Unicron declaring that Cybertron is now on the menu.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Unicron's forehead ridge resembles something along these lines.note 
  • Bizarrchitecture: Quintessa, both on the warped architecture and monstrous sea life fronts, owes a fair old debt to H. P. Lovecraft.
  • Black Comedy: One of Kup's war stories takes on a momentary dark turn...
    Hot Rod: They're closing on us!
    Kup: Yep, like the Shrikebats of Dromedon.
    Hot Rod: How'd you beat them?
    Kup: I'm trying to remember. There were an awful lot of casualties that day...
  • Blatant Lies: Anyone who knows anything about Unicron will know that his claim of sparing Cybertron is full of shit.
  • Bookends:
    • Stan Bush's "The Touch" plays twice in the film. It first plays during Optimus' fight with Megatron in the beginning of the film and plays again during Rodimus Prime's fight with Galvatron near the end of the film.
    • Hot Rod jumps Megatron, but is easily overpowered and a tragedy (Optimus' death) ensues due to his failure. At the end of the film, both characters, now upgraded to Rodimus Prime and Galvatron, fight again, and this time it is Galvatron who is easily and utterly defeated, and Rodimus succeeds in preventing a tragedy - destroying Unicron and saving the entire planet.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • For some reason, a few DVD releases cuts off Ultra Magnus' swearing with his line "Open damn it, open!"
    • The VHS version kept the "damn it" line, but eliminated Spike's "Oh Shit".
    • The film uses a censored version of N.R.G's "Instruments of Destruction".
  • Boisterous Weakling: "I will crush you with my bare hands!" *uses a gun*
  • Bullying the Dragon: Galvatron gloats right before Unicron that the tables have turned and he will use the Matrix to reduce the Planet Eater to little more than his slave. But, the Matrix doesn't open... Well, this is awkward.
  • Butt-Monkey: The Insecticons take quite a bit of damage during the Battle of Autobot City, which gets them thrown out into space when the Decepticons need to lighten their load aboard Astrotrain on the way back to Cybertron.
  • Call-Back: A tragic example. Fans of the show will remember that the very first episode also began with the Autobots launching into space, spurred by their need for Energon, only to be ambushed by a Decepticon boarding party. The big difference here is that being grossly outnumbered (and without Optimus Prime), the outcome is definitively fatal for the heroes.
  • The Cameo: Several Autobots and Decepticons from the toyline and tv show make a few silent cameos in the film. Huffer, Sunstreaker, Bluestreak, Hound, Gears, and Grapple appear in quick crowd shots. Wheeljack and Windcharger's dead bodies are seen on the ground. Reflector appears in three crowd shots but, due to an animation error, has Ironhide's colour scheme in one of them. The Dinobot Snarl briefly appears in only two group shots, but is otherwise absent from the movie.
  • Catchphrase: The Junkions are full of recycled catch phrases from other TV series and commercials. ("Kill the grand poobah! Eliminate even the toughest stains!")
  • The Cavalry: Who's there to save Hot Rod and Kup on Quintessa? The Dinobots!
  • Characters Dropping Like Flies: Over a dozen bite the dust. One of the most jarring was tough old Ironhide, who gets his head blown off by Megatron.
  • Citadel City: Autobot City transforms into one when the Decepticons launch their surprise attack. Since the 'cons were so close to the city by the time they were detected, the defenses were only partially effective. That said, it did let the Autobots hold out throughout the night, long enough for reinforcements to arrive.
  • Color Failure: Upon death, Optimus Prime's body fades to a charcoal gray color —referred to In-Universe as "gunmetal grey"— as does Starscream about a second before he completely disintegrates after being shot by Galvatron.
    • Prowl also suffers this earlier in the film during the shuttle attack, fading to gray as a laser blast from one of the Constructicons melts his insides.
  • Combat Breakdown: During Optimus Prime's final battle with Megatron, both combatants take damage and are clearly exhausted by the end of the fight. After knocking Megatron off the battlements Optimus can't even stand due to his (fatal) wounds, while Megatron is forced to beg Soundwave to get him to safety.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Hot Rod tries to be. Unfortunately, interfering in the duel between Optimus and Megatron proves to be an extremely unpragmatic choice.
    • And Megatron, of course. He foregoes use of his fusion cannon for the visceral thrill of tearing Optimus apart with his bare hands, but that doesn't mean he's playing fair. He still uses tactics like Attack the Injury and Go for the Eye.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Was adapted into comic form twice:
    • The Transformers (Marvel) adapted the film to a three-issue miniseries that was based on a non-final draftnote , though the films' events were only canon to the UK version of the comic book.
    • In 2006, IDW Publishing would publish a four-part miniseries adaptation of the final version of the film (with some minor changes) in honor of the film's 20th anniversary, which was titled Transformers: The Animated Movie to avoid confusion with the live-action Michael Bay movie.
  • Coming in Hot: "Brace for impact!"
  • Cool Old Guy: Kup, who shows up out of nowhere, is an ancient Autobot who's Seen It All and is not shy about telling everyone.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster, as seen above, features Ultra Magnus prominently in the center of the picture as he is flanked by other Autobots. But this is Hot Rod's story, through-and-through (Hot Rod, at least as Hot Rod, isn't even on the poster at all - all that is there is his Rodimus Prime vehicle mode, way off to the side).
  • Creepy Monotone:
    • Orson Welles was in poor health (it was a few months before he died) and couldn't really deliver to his full potential (plus, there are those who have claimed he didn't really like the role, though this is largely debatable), resulting in many of his lines sounding borednote . However, with a bit of help from the sound engineer, Unicron achieves this effect, and it works.
    • As per tradition, Soundwave also speaks with this.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Averted in post-production; as originally animated, Ultra Magnus was supposed to have been pulled apart by the Sweeps. The final movie shows them shooting rope-like lasers, cutting to Ultra Magnus being gunned down and exploding into pieces when he falls. The (original) comic adaptation depicts the storyboarded drawn-and-quartered scene.
    • That said, the film does have plenty of these. Prowl and Ironhide in particular stand out, as the former's death is shown in great detail and the latter is straight-up executed.
  • Cult Soundtrack:
    • The synthesized score by Vince DiCola, and notable songs such as "Dare To Be Stupid" (by "Weird Al" Yankovic) and "The Touch" (by Stan Bush) have received a certain cult status among pop culture.
    • The resurgence of Transformers popularity in the 1990s helped renew interest in both Vince DiCola and Stan Bush. Both have publicly expressed gratitude to the fans' support and make regular appearances at Transformers conventions.
    • Lion is best known for the movie's theme; though they signed with Scotti Brothers soon after its release, they soon faded into obscurity.
    • And you won't believe where "The Touch" showed up after that...
  • Dangled by a Giant: When the monster planet Unicron unveils his robot mode and attacks Cybertron, Galvatron attempts to fight him. Unicron responds by picking up Galvatron in this manner and dropping him in his maw.
  • Darker and Edgier: Unicron destroys an entire planet with virtually all of its occupants in the opening scene. Ironhide, Prowl, Brawn, and Ratchet are killed a few moments later, and it doesn't exactly end there. And this movie was based on a kid's show.
  • Deadly Euphemism: see Not Quite Dead.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Unicron is unimpressed with Megatron's boasting, and lets him know this in a disinterested, almost casual way.
    Megatron: Nobody summons Megatron!
    • And of course...
    Megatron: You have nothing to fear. I have already crushed Optimus Prime with my bare hands!
    Unicron: You exaggerate.
    Megatron: The point is he's dead, and the Matrix died with him!
    Unicron: No, the point is, you are a fool!
  • Deal with the Devil: Unicron offers to rebuild Megatron in return for servitude; thus is born Galvatron. note 
  • Death Is Cheap: Mostly averted, to the point where most of the characters who died here don't appear on the third season of the show (on purpose anyway), but there are still some examples.
    • While Megatron himself doesn't quite qualify (he still fuctions, after all), several dead Decepticons are resurrected as Galvatron's allies.
    • Ultra Magnus is shot to hell and eventually explodes into pieces. He's simply rebuilt from his scattered parts some time later.
    • The end of the last line of the European edit of the movie says as much:
    Narrator: The greatest Autobot of them all - Optimus Prime - will return.
  • Death Is Gray: Optimus Prime turns gray upon death. Interestingly, almost none of the other many characters who die in the first twenty minutes of the film alone change color upon death, indicating that Optimus is a special case. The exceptions are Prowl, who turns a smoky gray when he explodes internally (after being shot by Scavenger), and Starscream, who also takes on a gray color scheme when he is (finally) executed by the rebuilt Galvatron, crumbling to pieces when the blast finishes destroying him.
  • Decoy Protagonist:
    • You wouldn't be faulted for thinking that Optimus Prime would be the protagonist of the story, judging by his status as the Autobot leader. He dies in a tearjerkingly brutal fashion a third of the way into the film, and Hot Rod later takes up the Matrix of Leadership to fill in his place, as Rodimus Prime.
    • Ultra Magnus is also depicted as a literal Fake Ultimate Hero whom the Autobots and Junkions look up to after Prime's passing (Prime formally designates him Autobot Commander before he himself perishes), and Galvatron sees him as his second greatest foe. He's even front and center on the film's original poster, while Rodimus is in the background with Wheelie. Magnus becomes Rodimus's right-hand man and adviser in season 3.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: When Ultra Magnus is killed by the Sweeps, he explodes into pieces.
  • Defiant to the End:
    • When Megatron, standing amidst the corpses of several Autobots, talks of how he is going to wipe out the Autobots on Earth, a nearly dead Ironhide is still trying to stop him.
      Megatron: When we slip by their early warning systems in their own shuttle and destroy Autobot City, the Autobots will be vanquished forever!
      Ironhide: NO!
      Megatron: Such heroic nonsense. *blasts Ironhide in the head at point-blank range*
    • Megatron stands over the fatally wounded Optimus Prime, about to deliver the finishing blow.
      Megatron: I would have waited an eternity for this... It's over, Prime.
      Optimus: NEVER! *punches Megatron clear off the battlements and sends him crashing to the ground below in a heap*
    • On Quintessa, when Hot Rod and Kup are facing the Quintessons' Kangaroo Court, and either verdict results in execution.
      Hot Rod: (facing execution) I have nothing but contempt for this court!
    • When Galvatron confronts Ultra Magnus, and it is clear that the latter is outnumbered and about to be killed. Ultra Magnus is deliberately echoing Optimus' earlier Big "NEVER!", but since he isn't The Chosen One, it falls short.
      Galvatron: Magnus, I want the matrix.
      Ultra Magnus: NEVER!
  • Demoted to Dragon: Megatron, the Big Bad of the first two seasons of The Transformers, is left for dead by Starscream in the void of space, only to be found by Unicron. Unicron turns him into his slave, reformatting Megatron into Galvatron and ordering him to destroy the Autobot Matrix of Leadership. Galvatron isn't happy by his new predicament and later attempts to use the Matrix to make Unicron his slave. It ends poorly for him.
  • Demoted to Extra: Several characters have this happen to them. Bluestreak, Sunstreaker, Huffer, Thundercracker, Skywarp, and Bombshell appear in cameos with no lines, Shockwave appears in two scenes and is implied to die, Shrapnel and Kickback are reduced to Butt Monkeys and then rebuilt, Mixmaster, Scavenger and Long Haul do not speak, Blitzwing gets one scene for himself, Ironhide, Wheeljack, Prowl, Ratchet and Windcharger are killed off (Brawn's death is debated by fans) and Sludge, despite being a major character, has no lines. Spike and the three major Autobots who survive the movie (Bumblebee, Jazz, and Cliffjumper) have more minor roles. Perceptor and the four other Dinobots (Snarl mysteriously receiving this treatment) are the only pre-movie characters to do much of anything in the post-Autobot City scenes. Even Optimus Prime is only around for the first third of the movie. Plus, some characters don't appear in the movie at all, leaving their fates uncertain.
  • Determinator: Optimus Prime wipes out the remnants of the Decepticon army by taking them out singlehandedly, starting with the line "Megatron must be stopped, no matter what the cost."
  • The Dog Bites Back: Given the utter glee with which the Sharkticons go after the Quintessons when Grimlock tells them to, one gets the idea that the Sharkticons didn't like the Quintessons very much.
  • Doomed Fellow Prisoner: Kup and Hot Rod are imprisoned on the Quintesson planet. Next cell over is Kranix, who gets fed to the Sharkticons in order to show the Quintesson's "justice" system.
  • Doomed Hometown: Any planet that Unicron devours; a survivor of Lithone is encountered (briefly) on Quintessa.
  • Downer Beginning: The film opens with the planet Lithone being devoured by Unicron. Then throughout the first 20 minutes, several of the Autobots were violently killed off. Including Optimus Prime.
  • The Dreaded: Unicron. While the Cybertronians have no knowledge of him, he's apparently feared through the rest of the galaxy as his approach to Lithone is met with cries of "It's Unicron!" and Kranix manages to relate the tale of Unicron to Kup and Hot Rod.
  • Dying Deal Upgrade: As Megatron is dying, planet-eating robot god Unicron offers to save him in return for his service. Megatron actually tries to negotiate the terms until Unicron angrily reminds him that he's not in a position to bargain. After he accepts he is upgraded into Galvatron.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Optimus Prime's continuous deaths in every Transformers continuity begins here. After landing on Earth as the Decepticons are laying siege to Autobot City, he utters eight words that sets up what is going to be his most epic outing in Generation One.
    Optimus: "Megatron must be stopped. No matter the cost."
    • At which point Prime plows through three or four Decepticons and comes under fire from a host of others. He launches himself into the air and takes them all out with his rifle, and then confronts Megatron, leading to another of his classic lines, as well as a classic exchange with Megs himself.
      Megatron: "Prime!"
      Optimus: "One shall stand, one shall fall."
      Megatron: "Why throw away your life so recklessly?"
      Optimus: "That's a question you should ask yourself, Megatron."
    • Cue Prime and Megatron having a knock-down drag-out fight where they're throwing everything they have into it because they know it's their final confrontation no matter what. One way or another, this is it. The fight isn't entirely shown on screen, but given what they do show us, this is the most brutal they have ever been in the G1 cartoon continuity, especially given the way we see how badly mangled and damaged they are by the fight's end. Prime ultimately wins, and dies shortly afterwards. What makes this truly badass is that in defeating Megatron, Optimus singlehandedly repels the entire Decepticon invasion of Autobot City. Stan Bush's now cult classic song "The Touch" plays throughout the entire sequence, which just adds to the entire thing. Many fans who've seen the film can't hear this song without thinking of this scene.
  • Dying to Be Replaced: Optimus Prime is yesterday's toy. Arise, Rodimus Prime! Oh, and don't forget Megatron, Starscream, and Ironhide!
  • Dynamic Entry:
    • Galvatron knows how to do it. Fly in so low that the whole crowd runs for cover. Leap from your insertion aircraft (which conveniently transforms into a buddy your size who can stand behind you menacingly). Throw a Pre-Mortem One-Liner. Blow away the guy you came to blow away. Claim the prize.
    • The Dinobots aren't too bad at it either, busting in to break up Hot Rod and Kup's aborted trial and flattening the bailiff in the process.
      Slag: [to bailiff] Excuse me!
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: An interesting example. The story was written before many characters made their appearances, and such weren't written into it. The most notable example involves Devastator - in the series, he had been shoved to the sidelines to showcase other combiners, yet he is the only combiner to appear here, and the Constructicons even refer to Devastator as "the most powerful robot", even though Bruticus curb stomped him in his first appearance.
  • Easter Egg:
    • Inside Unicron after he eats Lithone, there are frames inside him with a post-apocalyptic backgrounds inside him, which are no doubt from Toei's movie adaptation of Fist of the North Star, as this movie was made after.
    • Pause during the scene in the Quintessons' jail cells and you'll see remains of some destroyed robots. Look closely and you can see that the mangled bodies on the floor are actually miscolored Mobile Suits, mostly from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.
  • Eaten Alive:
    • This primal fear of what Unicron can do to your world, along with EVERY man, woman, and child on it, is what makes him so terrifying.
    • The Sharkticons appear to devour Transformers alive.
  • Enemy Mine: Galvatron briefly attempts one with Hot Rod when he encounters him inside Unicron, but Unicron uses his mental torture to force him to attack the Autobot instead.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: The Quintessons' home planet, Quintessa, is filled with robotic wildlife that attacks anything foreign.
  • Evil Gloating: Galvatron is even better than Megatron in showing pure pleasure over killing Autobots.
    Galvatron: (while strangling Hot Rod) First Prime, then Ultra Magnus, and now... you. It's a pity you Autobots die so easily, or I might have a sense of satisfaction now!
  • Evil Laugh: The Quintesson judge, after issuing the first verdict we see, laughs with each of his five faces in succession as the hapless "innocent" is fed to the Sharkticons.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Galvatron's voice is deeper than Megatron's, reflecting his more pure evil, and Unicron's voice is a resonating, almost disinterested bass, reflecting his incredible age and malevolence.
  • Evil vs. Evil: The Decepticons (including briefly Galvatron himself) engage and try to fight off Unicron once he begins attacking Cybertron Their success is... limited.
  • Exact Words: Grimlock and the Dinobots pull this one off beautifully, during the Autobots assault on Unicron; they jump out of their ship - "Me Grimlock kick butt!" - switch to dino mode and proceeds to crash feet first right on Unicron's ass.
  • Expansion Pack World: The show to this point had featured only Cybertron and Earth as significant locations. The film adds Quintessa, Lithone (which is almost immediately devoured moments later by Unicron), and the planet of Junk, and implies that the universe is teeming with robotic lifeforms.
  • Expository Theme Tune: Even more so than the cartoon's theme. The extended version of the movie theme over the ending credits pretty much sums up the whole of the movie. Fortunately, the extended version only plays then; a shortened version that really only has the chorus in it is used at the beginning.
  • Expy: Fitting the film's Star Wars-inspired nature, several characters have corresponding roles; Hot Rod is Luke Skywalker, Arcee is Leianote , Springer is Han Solo, Optimus is Obi-Wan Kenobi, Galvatron is Darth Vader, and Unicron is both The Emperor and the Death Star.
  • Eye Lights Out: The concept of a Cybertronians' eye's blinking out as they die was first introduced in the film, along with the idea that they would lose their coloring and become grey (though only Optimus does it here).
    • A non-lethal variation is shown on Quintessa when Kup's eyes are 'off' before he almost literally blinks them back on making it looks like his eyes were closed until that moment when Hot Rod saved him from the giant robo-squid.
  • Eye Scream:
    • Hot Rod crashes a spaceship through one of Unicron's eyes; later, the Autobots collectively drive through his other eye.
    • Hot Rod also does this earlier in the movie on Quintessa, while battling the enormous robotic squid. He shoots out the squid's eye and is released from the tentacle, also causing the squid to scream and disperse ink to escape.

    F - J 
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner:
    • Kranix makes a final defiant gesture before judgement is passed, exclaiming "Spare me this mockery of justice!"
    • Hot Rod, when he and Kup are also on "trial", is threatened with contempt of court, and retorts, "I have nothing but contempt for this court!"
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Most of The Transformers first two seasons' cast is killed in graphic ways, not counting those who die offscreen.
    • Unicron eats the planet Lithone on-screen, upon which lived millions of robotic lifeforms.
    • Scavenger shoots Prowl, the blast going inside him and reaching Prowl's insides, causing him to effectively burn from the inside out with fire blazing from his mouth endlessly and his optics glowing with the light of the flames. Directly at the camera.
      • In the Japanese dub, Prowl screams in agony as he is shot.
    • Ironhide has his computer-brains blown out execution-style by Megs.
      • The Japanese dub also has Ironhide screaming when Megatron shoots him.
    • Red Alert was also supposed to die by being shot in the back by Devastator, but that scene was never animated. However, Wheeljack and Windcharger look as though this is what happened to them judging by the damage to vital areas on their chests.
    • Optimus gets blasted and stabbed a dozen times (supposedly the fatal wound was due to Megatron repeatedly shooting him right in the wound on his abdomen) while Hot Rod is held hostage.
    • Megatron is beaten to a pulp by Optimus Prime, takes a fall which shows visible internal damage and then left to die in space by Starscream - and probably would have died if Unicron hadn't found him.
    • Starscream takes a direct hit from Galvatron's cannon mode, burning him to a cinder with a look of agony on his face, before disintegrating.
      • The Japanese dub has him screaming during the entire sequence.
    • Kranix and his friend Arblus are fed to the Sharkticons. Although mostly offscreen, we still get to hear him screaming in agony as he's eaten alive.
    • Ultra Magnus gets blown to pieces (originally was going to be drawn and quartered) by the Sweeps, although put back together shortly after.
    • Shockwave was supposed to literally die by Unicron's hand, but they cut out the shot.
    • The Conehead Seekers get chomped by Uni's robot form. (This one ends up being a continuity error, although it's also possible they were just generic "Seekers")
    • Gears and several other captured Transformers inside Unicron are dissolved in an acid bath.
    • Unicron himself is blown to shreds from the inside by the Matrix's power, until the pressure finally causes him to implode. Since the climax takes place inside the planet eater, we even see his innards being blown apart.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Unicron, best highlighted when he first meets Megatron. He's polite, cordial, and offers Megatron a job all the while speaking of the end and torturing him to make him agree.
  • Filling the Silence: The Japanese dub adds in vocal noises, grunts, and screams in scenes where they were originally silent. Ironically, this practice is usually towards English dubs in anime and not the other way around for atmospheric reasons.
  • Final Battle: While not one between the Autobots and Decepticons, overall, it technically is for Optimus Prime and Megatron. Prime is mortally wounded and dies in the first act of the movie while Megatron is reborn as Galvatron by Unicron. Prime does return near the end the main series, however.
  • Flanderization: The Dinobots begin their change from brutish super-powerful warriors who the Autobots usually had to beg to help them and put the fear of Primus into the Deceptions when they arrived on the battlefield into completely dim-witted oafs played for comedy here. They still have moments of awesome in the movie, but in season three the change is complete.
  • Flatline: There's a monitor displaying 4 sets of readings from Optimus as he lays dying. All 4 of the little squiggly lines go flat at the same time, just before his eyes go dim.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge:
    • Optimus Prime trashes the Decepticons who are attacking Earth, complete with Theme Music Power-Up. He leaves Megatron crippled.
    • Rodimus Prime gets an identical treatment upon his Matrix-fueled promotion, curb stomping Galvatron in the process.
  • Forced Friendly Fire: When Blitzwing (in tank mode) has Hot Rod in his crosshairs, Kup jumps on top of him and pulls up his turret. This causes the shot to fly wild, striking Shrapnel square in the chest.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Optimus tries to pass on the Matrix, it drops out of his hand and Hot Rod is the first to grab it. Not only that, but the Matrix glows when he holds it. All this is proof that he was destined to be the new Prime from the get-go.
    • When Ultra Magnus suggests that the Matrix can stop Unicron, Hot Rod agrees. When Kup asks Hot Rod how he can know that, Hot Rod replies "I just got this feeling".
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: After eating Lithone, the interior of Unicron shows post-apocalyptic frames, no doubt lifted from Fist of the North Star 1986 anime film, by Toei themselves.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • Technically it's in the foreground, but because someone else is the focus of the shot, you might miss the fact that after Starscream shoots the Constructicons' trumpets, Ramjet is aiming his gun at the Constructicons as if he's annoyed with their antics too.
    • During the Dinobots' rescue of Hot Rod and Kup, the Dinobots easily curbstomped the Sharkticon troops. While Grimlock was talking with Hot Rod, the remaining Sharkticons were seen lying down begging Grimlock for mercy.
  • Go for the Eye: Megatron certainly tries.
    Megatron: "I'll rip out your optics!"
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The closest we get to seeing Ironhide's death is a burst of smoke after Megatron shoots him.
  • Hate Sink:
    • The Quintesson Judge runs a Kangaroo Court in which the "trials" serve as amusement before the prisoners are executed by being dropped into a pit full of Sharkticons. His very first scene has him declare the last survivors of planet Lithone's destruction as innocent and then have them executed anyway, laughing as they are eaten. It says a lot that Grimlock can easily sway the Sharkticons to turn on their master simply by stomping his foot and pointing at the Judge, who then sets himself apart from the other major villains in the movie by refusing to fight back and instead running away from the Sharkticons as they happily chase after their next meal.
    • The Quintesson Prosecutor is not much better. It's all but outright said that he knows the trials will always end with the death of the prisoners and doesn't care, telling Hot Rod and Kup they're next after Kranix is dragged off for his ill-fated trial and later telling the duo they can beg for their lives but it probably won't help. In a movie that treats the topic of death and injury very seriously, the Prosecutor's defeat by getting crushed under a door the Dinobots then walk over is played for comedy.
  • Heroes Gone Fishing: Hot Rod and Daniel are first seen out fishing, before Daniel gets distracted by the arriving shuttle.
  • Hot-Blooded: Hot Rod, true to his name, gets in a lot of trouble due to his impulsiveness, including being indirectly responsible for Optimus' death (though as the In Spite of a Nail entry shows, it wouldn't have made any difference if he had stayed away).
  • Hover Board: Spike's son Daniel is shown having one of these in his debut scene. It doesn't last long, though, as he crashes it into a rock.
  • Hulk Speak: The Dinobots all speak in third person.
    Grimlock: Me Grimlock want to munch metal!
  • Human Shield: Megatron uses Hot Rod this way in his fight against Optimus, to deadly effect.
  • Hypocritical Humor: During the argument about new Decepticon leadership, Hook tries to shoot down Soundwave's claim with "No one would follow an uncharismatic bore like you!". If you've read Hook's personality profile, he is infamously snobbish and ... well, uncharismaticnote .
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Once his fight with Optimus Prime starts going against him, Megatron infamously pulls this trick, knowing Optimus would hesitate to shoot anyone in cold blood.
  • I Want My Jetpack: Technology has advanced considerably since the release of this movie, but fans everywhere are still waiting for their jet-powered Hoverboard.
  • Idiot Ball: Galvatron sets a high bar for stupidity by attempting to blackmail a genocidally murderous robotic elder god with a weapon he has no idea how to use (not to mention said god can just destroy his mind at a whim). Unicron, however, immediately raises the bar by swallowing Galvatron whole... in the process ingesting the very weapon and putting it in the perfect place to destroy him. (Possibly he was hoping Galvatron and the Matrix would go down the pipe to his digestive system, and forgot that Decepticons can fly, but still pretty dim. Squishing him between his fingers would have been a lot more sensible than eating him with an added dose of kryptonite.)
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: An unusual inversion. Even though the Autobots killed in the shuttle ambush are given enough time to turn around and start firing, none of them can hit anything. Even more unusual, the Decepticons, who in the previous series were the ones with the really bad target perception... are now able to score direct kills upon Autobots with only a single shot in some instances.
  • Improvised Microgravity Maneuvering: In space, Galvatron propels himself towards his ship with a continuous blast from his Arm Cannon.
  • Insert Song: In true mecha anime fashion, a pair of insert songs by Stan Bush play, of which the more famous has to be The Touch, which has been cemented as the "something badass is going to happen" insert song for the entire franchise despite only playing twice in the movie.
  • In Spite of a Nail: In the Marvel Comics adaptation, Hot Rod doesn't interfere in Optimus and Megatron's battle, and it ends the same way it does in the movie.
  • The Juggernaut: Blowing up a moon inside Unicron's maw doesn't even slow him down. He's not lying when he says that only the Matrix can stop him.
  • Just in Time: After being swallowed by Unicron, Spike, Bumblebee, Jazz, and Cliffjumper, were about to be dumped in a vat of acid, which would dissolve them within seconds. Fortunately, Daniel arrived in time to close the acid cover and save his father and the three Autobots.

    K - O 
  • Kangaroo Court: Even if you're innocent, the Quintesson magistrate is dropping you in the Sharkticon pit. Primus only knows what they do to the guilty. (It's actually the same thing either way, they just like to taunt the victim first.) As the season three opener "Five Faces of Darkness" revealed, the crime everyone is tried for is being in possession of Cybertron. However, guilt or innocence is irrelevant, the Quintessons will kill you either way.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Starscream does this (perfectly literally) to Megatron after his fight with Optimus.
    Starscream: How do you feel, mighty Megatron? (kicks Megatron)
  • Kill Him Already!: Kup yells at Optimus to kill Megatron before Hot Rod intervenes.
  • Killed Off for Real: Most of the deaths, but especially Starscream's. When Plot Armor goes down the drain, beloved, important characters can die, especially in a war-like conflict. For Starscream, just because he finally achieves his goal of being crowned king of Decepticons, he doesn't magically become immune to a stronger Decepticon killing and usurping him.
  • Killed Offscreen: Arcee is seen moving and lamenting Wheeljack and Windcharger's charred corpses during the Battle of Autobot City.
  • Knight of Cerebus:
    • Unicron, due to being a planet-devouring colossus bent on destroying everything, brings a much more serious tone to the franchise.
    • Megatron also counts due to being played more seriously than he was in the show. He kills a good deal of the Autobots in the beginning of the film. Things only get worse after he becomes Galvatron.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: Done when the Autobots at Autobot City start to retreat from the Decepticon attack.
    Arcee: Stay close to me, Daniel!
    Hot Rod: And you better stay close to me!
    Arcee: (pins Hot Rod against wall) No, you better stay close to me.
  • Large-Ham Announcer: The absurdly overenthusiastic announcer for the (barely-seen) trailer. THE MOST INCREDIBLE Rock & Roll ADVEN-TURE IS HERE!
    • To be fair, it was arguably the biggest movie of 1986 as far as kids were concerned, and it was one hell of an adventure. So this may well be a Justified Trope, as the writers clearly went all out for this.
  • Laser Blade:
    • Hot Rod wields one while sparring with an Auto-Combatant.
    • Megatron uses a very similar weapon, that he finds lying on the ground, against Optimus Prime in their duel.
  • Last of His Kind: Kranix tells Hot Rod and Kup that he's the last surviving native of the planet Lithone, which Unicron devoured in the opening. He is executed by the Quintessons, reducing that number to zero.
  • Leeroy Jenkins:
    • Hot Rod's rash attempt to save Optimus Prime by trying to tackle the much stronger Megatron backfires spectacularly. He could have helped Optimus without exposing himself in such a way, for example by shooting Megatron, or distracting him, or simply by warning Optimus. He does learn from the experience, though, and is much smarter when he fights Galvatron.
    • During the attack on the shuttle, Brawn charges at a whole bunch of Decepticons, completely alone, unarmed and exposed. What was he expecting to do, punch them all back into space?
  • Left the Background Music On: During Starscream's coronation, the trumpet fanfare is cut off when he gets impatient with the ceremony and blasts them.
  • Leitmotif: Vince DiCola introduces a few.
    • Unicron's Theme, which kicks off the film, and takes cues from DiCola's earlier Drago theme, turning the ominousness up to eleven.
    • "2005", the first track heard after the opening titles, introduces the leitmotifs of the Autobots (very loosely based on the main theme) and the Decepticons. Variations of these leitmotifs would appear later in Season 3 of the series.
    • The distinct portion of "Escape" that isn't using the aforementioned faction leitmotifs gets reused for Ultra Magnus when the Junkions fix him.
    • There's the rousing little number when the Allicons take Kup and Hot Rod into custody, more notably used for their cousins the Sharkticons when they devour those who the Quintessons dump into their pit (and attempt to devour our heroes, only for Autobots, Rock Out! to kick in).
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Averted. When Prime corners Megatron for their battle, Megatron restrains himself from using his Fusion Cannon and charges Optimus directly. Megatron has no real issue with using dirty tricks and weapons, he just wanted to tear into Optimus with his own two hands.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: When Starscream tries to escape Autobot City's transformation, his foot gets stuck in-between the closing doors. As more doors about to crush him, Starscream blasts his foot to escape.
  • Literal Ass-Kicking: Grimlock and the Dinobots attack Unicron in the rear immediately after Grimlock declares he'll kick butt.
    Grimlock: Me Grimlock kick butt!
  • Little "No": Galvatron gasps "No..." when he realizes that the Matrix has transformed Hot Rod into Rodimus Prime.
  • Lodged Blade Removal: During their climatic duel, Megatron hurls a sharp piece of debris at Optimus Prime, impaling him in the left side of his abdomen. Optimus avoids a couple of follow up shots from Megatron's fusion cannon before punching him into a wall, and then takes the time to remove the debris. Unfortunately, Megatron is wily enough to strike at the wound, first with a laser sword and later with several shots from a laser pistol, the combined damage eventually turning out to be fatal. In Optimus' defense, the debris was large enough to clearly be a hindrance in the fight, so leaving it in wasn't an option (and as a robot, he doesn't have to worry about bleeding; at least not as much as a human with a similar wound would).
  • Magical Security Cam: Unicron somehow has monitors showing the same footage the audience just saw of the Matrix being handed off.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Unicron is this to Galvatron. From the Autobots' perspective, they only know that Galvatron is a powerful Decepticon and have no idea until the climax that he's in league with the planet-eater that took out both of their moon bases. The Decepticons don't even know the details about Unicron so this trope applies even more directly to them.
  • Meaningful Echo: In the pre-movie episode "War Dawn", the first confrontation between Optimus Prime and Megatron is shown and Optimus shrugs off Megatron's cannon fire. In the climax of this movie, Hot Rod is powered up by the Matrix into Rodimus Prime and immediately shrugs off Galvatron's cannon fire.
  • Mechanical Animals: Besides the Animal Mecha Transformers (Dinobots, Insecticons, Laserbeak, Ravage and Ratbat), there's also the mechanical underwater life of the planet Quintessa, including mechanical fishes that emulate the organic food chain (the bigger fishes eating the smaller ones) and a Giant Squid.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: Besides Earth, all planets seen in the film have robotic life.
  • Mentor Archetype:
    • Optimus's death serves as a call to heroism for the other Autobots, and in particular Hot Rod. He also manages to stick around in spirit thanks to the Matrix.
      Optimus Prime's voice: (from the Matrix) Arise, Rodimus Prime.
    • Kup, being a mentor of Hot Rod.
  • Messianic Archetype: Optimus Prime rescues the Autobots from certain death at the hands of the Decepticons, dies for his trouble, then passes on the mantle in the form of the Matrix of Leadership, wherein he resides in spirit.
    • Megatron is basically this trope's opposite. He begs to be saved, is cast aside by his own followers, and literally makes a deal with the devil to come back and get revenge.
  • Metal Muncher: Insecticons Shrapnel and Kickback try eating their way through the metallic walls of Autobot City.
  • Merchandise-Driven: As noted above, in one of the more extreme examples, due to Executive Meddling by Hasbro, a large number of characters are killed off or reformatted for the new assortment of characters and toys.note 
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Megatron massacring all the Autobots to the tune of "Instruments of Destruction!" is followed by a quiet, peaceful scene of Hot Rod and Daniel fishing at a lake. And then the Decepticons show up and trigger the battle at Autobot City, which is more or less a typical battle out of the animated series, with character quirks and silliness like Starscream humiliating himself... but then we see Wheeljack and Windcharger burnt and lifeless, and suddenly we realize this is just as serious as the battle on the shuttle, and more familiar characters are going to die before it's over.
    • Of course, we then get Optimus Prime's death scene, which is then followed by Starscream throwing Megatron and other injured Decepticons into space — which is then followed by a comic scene where Starscream, Soundwave and his cassettes, and the Constructicons fight over who is going to be the Decepticons' new leader. And then we have Megatron's meeting with Unicron and his conversion into Galvatron, followed by the ridiculousness of Starscream being 'crowned' in an absurd cape and crown. Galvatron shows up, and the scene becomes dark as he shoots Starscream and Starscream crumbles to dust!
    • The rest of the movie also has plenty of Mood Whiplash, with Kup and Hot Rod's being attacked by the Sharkticons (and the resulting 'demolition derby'), followed by a rather silly sequence with the Junkions featuring "Weird Al" Yankovic's 'Dare to Be Stupid', and then the final confrontation with Unicron in which a few unnamed captured Autobots and Decepticons are dropped into a vat of acid (Bumblebee, Jazz, and Cliffjumper are saved, as is Spike), Unicron is destroyed, and the film abruptly ends with Rodimus making a speech on Cybertron (the Autobots apparently taking control of it off-screen).
    • The sad fate of Kranix is immediately followed by a goofy scene with the Dinobots and the introduction of Wheelie. But at least that was a different scene. There's Mood Whiplash in the same scene when Kranix's friend Arblus gets killed: he hasn't even finished screaming before Hot Rod quips "We've got to get a new travel agent."
    • There's Mood Whiplash from the very beginning: Unicron shows up and devours Lithone as its inhabitants scream and try vainly to escape... then the camera pans away to the opening titles and the upbeat, over-the-top theme song starts up. Uh... yaaay?
  • The Movie: Right there in the title.
  • Mugging the Monster: The Quintessons really have no idea what they're up against when it comes to Hot Rod and Kup. Sure, as long as the two are kept from transforming using those stasis ring things, they can push them around all they like. Their fatal mistake was setting the rings to deactivate once the two were dumped into the Sharkticon pool, because the second the two Autobots can transform, it becomes alarmingly apparent that this execution is not going to go according to plan...
  • Mutual Kill: Optimus and Megatron's final battle is essentially this; Prime dies of his wounds soon after, and Megatron would have suffered the same fate had Unicron not rebuilt him into Galvatron. Still, that turn of events means that ''Megatron'' is still technically no more.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The original trailer is 4 minutes of footage that was deleted or changed. Nothing in the trailer makes it into the movie without some change made to it.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Hot Rod's well-intentioned attempt to foil Megatron's Wounded Gazelle Gambit is what gets Optimus Prime mortally wounded.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Unicron's retaliation against Galvatron's betrayal is to destroy Cybertron with his own giant mechanical hands. The Decepticons occupying the planet's surface are nearly annihilated by Unicron's attack and when the monster planet is finally destroyed, the Autobot survivors are able to retake the planet with ease.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: Had Galvatron just given the Autobot Matrix of Leadership to Unicron as ordered, the story would have ended with the planet eater's victory. Furthermore, as mentioned previously in Badass Boast, had everything gone according to plan, Unicron was planning on giving Cybertron to Galvatron (or at least not making it a meal). The dominoes that brought about their mutual defeat were knocked down by the backstabbing.
  • No Power, No Color: Optimus Prime turns gray upon death. Interestingly, almost none of the other many characters who die in the first twenty minutes of the film alone change color upon death, indicating that Optimus is a special case. The exception is Starscream, who also takes on a gray color scheme when he is (finally) executed by the rebuilt Galvatron, crumbling to pieces when the blast finishes destroying him.
  • No-Sell: Blowing up an entire moon while he's eating it doesn't so much as scratch Unicron's paint.
    Spike: It isn't even dented!
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Post-movie episodes of the cartoon feature an almost completely different cast of characters in a vastly different setting. The show doesn't even look the same anymore—pre-movie episodes were usually animated by Toei Animation, while many post-movie episodes are the work of Korean studio AKOM. The Japanese dub branded the post-movie episodes as a sequel series.
  • Not Quite Dead: A number of the defeated Decepticons are clinging to the edges of life after they escape in Astrotrain, and are cast adrift to "lighten the load".
    Megatron: ...I still function!
    Starscream: Wanna bet?
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Even before he becomes Galvatron, Megatron proves he's not incompetent by killing several of the Autobots in the beginning of the movie.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: At first, Megatron isn't keen on serving under anyone, despite being rebuilt. Between that and dying ungracefully without a chance to rule Cybertron, he reluctantly accepts Unicron's terms.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: As mentioned under All There in the Manual, the battle between Omega Supreme and the Autobot gestalts versus the Decepticon gestalts is pretty amazing.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Both Ultra Magnus and Galvatron attempt to open the Matrix at pivotal moments in an attempt to use it against their foes. In both cases, they fail, because they aren't The Chosen One. In Galvatron's case, this prompts Unicron's decision to destroy Cybertron.
    • Thrust has this expression on his face right before Optimus (in truck mode) runs into him.
    • Spike and Bumblebee when they detonate an entire moon right as Unicron's eating it. At first they celebrate, then the debris clears and they see it didn't even make a dent.
    • Galvatron when Hot Rod transforms into Rodimus Prime and he quickly gets overpowered.
    • Starscream’s last conscious thought once he realizes just who is disrupting his coronation.
    • Kup and Daniel when they see the Constructicons merging to form Devastator.
    • Devastator in turn initially has this look when he sees the Dinobots descending on him. Subverted, though, when he handles them without much trouble.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Unicron's purpose is to eat everything in the universe. Depending on which canon continuity you follow, he was either created to fulfill that role in a cosmic duality with Primus (who doesn't appear in this film) or chose it for himself. Or was designed to do it by an egomaniac scientist who wanted to remake the universe from scratch.
  • The Omniscient: Unicron seems to know what's happening in all corners of the universe as it happens. Comes with the territory of being a Physical God.
  • One-Hit Kill: Galvatron reasserts his leadership of the Decepticons by vaporizing Starscream. More generally, Transformers (Autobot and Decepticon alike) die easily from single shots, whereas they had been very resilient in the cartoon.
  • Opening Scroll: The European release of the movie has a Star Wars-esque opening scroll after the intro sequence of Unicron devouring Lithone.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Galvatron is in terrified awe at the sight of Unicron transforming.
    • This exchange as the Autobots approach Unicron destroying Cybertron:
      Hot Rod: Doesn't this remind you of anything, Kup?
      Kup: Nope. Never seen anything like this before.
  • Operators Are Standing By: The Junkions have strange speech patterns, prompting them to blurt nonsequiturs out of the blue. One of them starts yelling at someone to stop but ends up doing an ad for coffee and quoting this trope verbatim. The reason is that they learned about Earth's culture and languages by our broadcasts. Given how advertisement-heavy those are, well...
    Wreck-Gar: Stop, thief! No welcome wagon, 'hello stranger' with that good coffee flavor for you! Offer expires while you wait.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: No Decepticons, even ones established as blindly loyal to Megatron such as Soundwave, object to having him Thrown Out the Airlock to lose dead weight, and instantly make their claims to his spot afterwards. It's particularly glaring with Soundwave, who went to the trouble of going back for Megatron and carrying him aboard in the first place. That said, per Word of God, Soundwave fought to become the new leader so he could force the others to go back for Megatron. Supposedly there was a cut scene that would have explicitly established it.

    P - T 
  • Pep-Talk Song: Stan Bush's uplifting and inspirational theme song "The Touch", which serves as the theme song of the noble and heroic Optimus Prime and later Rodimus Prime. The same can also be said of "Dare," another Stan Bush piece.
  • Pet the Dog: In addition to Soundwave carrying the mortally injured Megatron to Astrotain, several other healthy Decepticons can be seen helping their injured comrades to Astrotrain when the Decepticons evacuate Autobot city (Thrust carries Shrapnel, Long Haul carries Kickback, and Thundercracker carries Bombshell). Kind of gets subverted by what happens to the injured Decepticons later though...
  • Planet Eater: Unicron is a planet that eats other planets to fuel his cosmic rampage of destruction.
  • Planet Spaceship: There were two in earlier drafts.
    • The early "The Secret of Cybertron" concept, the Transformers' home planet Cybertron was going to turn out to be a giant Transforming Mecha.
    • A later draft had Junkeon turn out to be one with the Autobots flying it to Cybertron rather than finding a ship. This made it into Marvel's Early Draft Tie-In Comic-Book Adaptationnote .
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Megatron is forced to beg Soundwave not to leave him after sustaining heavy injuries in his final battle with Optimus Prime. Soundwave complies.
  • Plot-Irrelevant Villain: The Quintessons and their associated goons are just another obstacle to face and do not add much to the story. Their introduction here is just probably meant to set them up for Season 3 of the cartoon.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Rodimus Prime, who had (as Hot Rod) been getting choked to death by Galvatron, tells him in no uncertain terms that the tide has turned before throwing Galvatron out into space.
    Rodimus: This is the end of the road, Galvatron.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    • Megatron, before putting Ironhide out of his misery:
      Megatron: Such heroic nonsense!
    • Galvatron, to show how much he's changed, doesn't waste any time confronting Starscream upon his return.
      Starscream: Megatron? Is that you?
      Galvatron: Here's a hint!
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • The movie is particularly infamous for Spike Witwicky blatantly saying "shit" in one scene (albeit a very understandable scene since Unicron just No Selled an exploding moon he was eating to the face) in spite of this being an animated film based on a children's show.
    • Ultra Magnus' "dammit" is also a shock, especially in versions of the film which remove Spike saying "shit".
    • Wreck-Gar uses the word "sexy" at one point. While not a swear like the other examples, it's not usually used in material aimed at the film's target audience.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Megatron is seen evilly smirking at something just before Optimus finds him during the Battle of Autobot City. He is actually watching the Constructicons drive the Autobots back further into the city; a scene showing this fight was storyboarded but never made it to the final movie.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Unicron talks very slowly and deliberately, but some of his lines stand out.
    Unicron: But now. You shall witness. Its DISMEMBERMENT!

    Unicron: Destiny... You... cannot... destroy... my... destinyyy!
  • Pyrrhic Victory: While the Autobots ultimately drive the Decepticons away from Autobot City, they sustain heavy casualties (up to and including Optimus Prime). The Decepticons return a short time later and force the Autobots to abandon the city for the stars.
  • Radar Is Useless:
    • The Decepticons are able to board an Autobot shuttle going to Earth without being detected, catching all its occupants by surprise. A later comic adaptation justifies it by making the shuttle go through a field of asteroids, which provide good cover for the Decepticons.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: CinemaSins claimed Galvatron falling into Unicron's mouth was a mistake, since there's "no gravity in space". Actually, Unicron is explicitly stated to be the size of a planet, meaning he would give off the same gravity as a planet and thus anything near by would fall towards him.
    • Unicron, despite being an actual planet is able to sneak up on a defenseless planet at the beginning of the film as well as the Autobot bases on Cybertron's moons and then Cybertron itself and in every instance nobody notices him and no sensors detect him before he reaches nomming distance. Possibly Justified due to it eventually being revealed that he's a Physical God rather than simply a giant robot, so maybe he can only be detected when he wishes to be.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Hot Rod, the brash young hero, transforms into a futuristic race car with with flames on the hood, never runs from a fight, and doesn't hesitate to take on Galvatron directly, which no other Autobot (or Decepticon) dares to do. He's also a bright fuchsia (the comic has his Rodimus Prime form be primarily orange and red).
  • Recycled In Space: Film critics at the time tut-tutted the movie as "Star Wars with Giant Robots", since, although a number of sci-fi, anime and comics had re-introduced Space Opera, planet-eaters and the like into relatively simple stories, Star Wars was basically the Trope Codifier in the 80s. Forgotten somewhat, since now, everybody does it.
  • Reforged into a Minion: What Unicron does to Megatron and the deceased Decepticons by turning them into Galvatron, Cyclonus, Scourge, and the Sweeps.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Ultra Magnus is Optimus Prime's old friend, who was never seen or mentioned before. Kup comes off this way too, considering he's supposed to be such an "old-timer."
    • This may be a Justified Trope, as the show does state that several Transformers did go off-planet over the course of the nine-odd million year war that was going on between Autobots and Decepticons prior to the pilot episode of the series and at least one such Autobot was shown during season 2 and an entire planet full of them in Season 3, so it is possible that Magnus and Kup were among those who were elsewhere in space fighting other campaigns during the war before being called to Earth. Conversely, they could also be among those Autobots who remained on Cybertron to try to hold down the fort when the Ark launched, working independently of other groups, such as Elita One's female Autobots.
    • It's also 20 years in universe between B.O.T. (the final episode of the 80s era setting) and the movie which gives plenty of time for newer characters to arrive and integrate into the cast.
  • Robot Kid: New Kid-Appeal Character Wheelie. He looks like a child, speaks in rhyme, and even has a slingshot.
  • R-Rated Opening: To show this is Darker and Edgier, the opening has a planet (with robotic children, no less) being eaten by Unicron. Shortly thereafter we have the Decepticons boarding the Autobot shuttle, which has the most brutal on-screen deaths in the movie. (The deaths of Prowl and Ironhide in particular are gruesome, as the former's insides seem to explode and smoke pours out of his eyes and mouth, while the latter is mercilessly executed by at point blank range after making a vain attempt to fight back.)
  • Sacrificial Planet: At the beginning of the movie, Unicron devours Lithone, a planet full of robotic lifeforms before threatening to do the same to Cybertron.
  • Say My Name: Megatron to Starscream when the latter leaves Megatron for scrap.
    Megatron: Wait, I still function!
    Starscream: Wanna bet? [dumps Megatron out of the airlock]
  • Scavenger World: The Planet of Junk appears to be the trash heap of the universe, where the aptly named Junkions make their home and use all the stuff to build spaceships and such. There is no indication of how all the trash gets there in the first place.
  • Scenery Porn: All of the set pieces in this film are varied, bright, vibrant, and exquisitely detailed. Whether it be in space, The Planet of Junk, the beautiful forest shots seen early in the movie, or the murky yellow and brown underwater segment with Hot Rod and Kup later in the film, your eyes will never get bored.
  • Scenery Gorn: Pretty much any scene involving Unicron eating a planet.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying: The apparent death of Ultra Magnus and theft of the Matrix doesn't stop the Autobots from having a dance party as soon as they make peace with the Junkions.
  • Seen It All: Pretty much any situation they're in reminds Kup of some old war story, much to Hot Rod's continued annoyance. This is Played for Laughs for most of the film, until they see Unicron standing astride Cybertron.
    Hot Rod: Doesn't this remind you of anything, Kup?
    Kup: (quietly) Nope. Never seen anything like this before...
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Perceptor, enough that even his fellow robots get fed up with it. If the original comic adaptation is anything to go by, this was intended to be even more of a Running Gag than it ended up being.
    Perceptor: Gamma waves in this sector of space create marginal navigation probabilities, however...
    (Ultra Magnus leans on the console with his head in his hands looking frustrated and bored)
    Perceptor: Ahem... Yes, I think I can.
  • Sham Ceremony: Galvatron certainly thought this of Starscream's short-lived Awesome Moment of Crowning.
    Galvatron: "Coronation", Starscream? This is bad comedy!
  • Shark Pool: In a world with oceans full of robot sharks, the Quintessons also have a more traditional pool filled with those same sharks for dramatic executions.
  • She's a Man in Japan: In the French dub of the movie, which used a very different dub team from any regional French dub of the TV series, both Starscream and Shrapnel were turned into women.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slasher Smile: Starscream gives one right before throwing Megatron out of Astrotrain into the depths of space.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Arcee, the only female Autobot, and also the only female character to appear in the film.
  • Sole Survivor: Soundwave is the only one of the original Decepticons to make it out of the movie alive and in his original form. There's also his original cassettes (Buzzsaw, Frenzy, Laserbeak, Ravage and Rumble), but as they spend most of their time inside his chest compartment, this makes sense.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Much of the dialogue. "Me Grimlock say you full of cesium salami!"
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Dare To Be Stupid". While the fight with the Junkions is not played too seriously, this silly song still plays while the Autobots are being attacked by hostile transformers.
  • Space "X": Take any normal word and add "-bot", "-ion" or "-ticon" to the name, and you've got a Transformer "species".
  • Space Opera: Although the premise was always there, this was the first time they extensively used it.
  • Speaks in Shout-Outs: Wreck-Gar and the Junkions speak entirely in 20th century Earth advertising lingo.
  • The Starscream: Starscream gets his wish, finally getting rid of Megatron and being crowned Leader of the Decepticons... for about 20 seconds, before Galvatron shows up and vaporizes him. Then Galvatron plays the same role against his new master, Unicron.
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability: Galvatron and the dinobots create visible damage to Unicron in two scenes, where the plot doesn't require him to be invincible. Somehow he can tank an exploding moon, yet Galvatron trying to hold on to his surface creates massive scratches.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker:
    • Wreck-Gar and the Junkions speak entirely in 20th century advertising lingo.
    • Wheelie speaks exclusively in rhyme. Though it's sometimes hard to tell with all the post-processing done to his voice.
  • Survived the Beginning: Tons of established characters are killed off in the first battle but from there on out no one can permanently die.
  • Taking Up the Mantle: Ultra Magnus is given the Autobot Matrix of Leadership upon Prime's death. However, it's Hot Rod who truly winds up taking up the role of Prime.
  • Technology Porn: Unicron's transformation and Autobot City's transformation.
  • That's No Moon: It's not just a ginormous, weird-looking planet — it's a Transformer!
  • Theme Music Power-Up:
    • "The Touch" by Stan Bush is played during Optimus' and Rodimus' finest moments.
    • "Dare to Be Stupid" by "Weird Al" Yankovic plays as the Junkions attack and overwhelm the Autobots.
    • "Instruments of Destruction" for the Decepticons, played as Megatron's strike force wipes out Brawn, Ratchet, Prowl and Ironhide in short order with this playing in the background.
  • This Cannot Be!: Unicron's reaction when he's finally beaten.
    Unicron: Destiny... you... cannot... destroy... my... DESTINY!!!
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: ...because Optimus Prime and Megatron are so powerful and so evenly matched that anyone interfering in their duel can only get themselves killed or get in the way. The latter happens and the former nearly does.
  • Title: The Adaptation: The Transformers: The Movie.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The original trailer proudly boasts, "The final confrontation between Optimus Prime and Megatron." (Of course, given the initial reaction to said confrontation, fans assuredly thought it would play out far differently.)
    • Commercials for the movie had the narrator say "Does Prime die?" over footage of Optimus getting blasted, followed by Megatron's line: "It's over, Prime!" Some viewers may have thought "Like You Would Really Do It",invoked but...
    • The commercials also showed Unicron starting his transformation, with the narrator saying "What is the secret of the monster planet?". Bad enough he's shown transforming at all, but the fact it shows his hands emerging completely gives away the fact that the planet has a robot mode. Admittedly, given the nature of the movie, it's blatantly obvious that the planet would eventually transform, but if you didn't show his hands, you could get away with viewers wondering if maybe it would just be something like a battle station mode. At least they didn't actually show him fully transformed.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Unicron is one of the few cases in which this trope is justified; he's so massive, it's not like any of the Transformers could do anything about his Transformation Sequence. Galvatron tried to subvert this after having an Oh, Crap! moment but failed miserably at it.

    U - Z 
  • Untranslated Catchphrase: The universal greeting "Bah-weep-Graaaaagnah wheep ni ni bong", which was never given an English translation in the film.
  • Verbal Tic:
  • Villain Decay: In the series, the Insecticons were portrayed as powerful wild cards, loyal only to themselves (and even requiring Optimus and Megatron to team up to defeat them at one point). Here, they are full-fledged members of Megatron's forces, and end up suffering crippling injuries during the battle of Autobot City. (Shrapnel gets the worst of it, being brought down hard no less than three times during the conflict.)
  • Villainous Breakdown: While being blasted apart by the Matrix, it is clear that Unicron does not take his defeat well.
    Unicron: Destiny... you cannot destroy... my... destiny!
  • Villains Want Mercy: Megatron begs Optimus to spare his life when he's seemingly been cornered and Optimus has a gun trained on him. Subverted, as he was just trying to distract Prime while he reaches for a blaster that is just out of sight...
  • The Voiceless: Prowl, the Seekers (with the exception of Starscream), Bombshell, and Ratchet appear with no lines, and Sludge never speaks at all despite being a major character.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: The encounters with the Quintessons and the Junkions mainly serve to keep the film from being too short.
  • War Is Hell: Almost as if apologizing for trivializing an affair as tragic as battle with the TV series, this movie dragged an entire generation of children kicking-and-screaming by the ears into visceral horror, death and sorrow that is actual warfare. Special mention goes to a scene featuring Arcee pointlessly dragging the blackened corpses of Windcharger and Wheeljack to safety.
  • We All Die Someday: Galvatron invokes this to try to coerce Hot Rod out of hiding. Hot Rod's response? "Not today, Galvatron!"
  • Wham Episode: The first battle scene shocked an entire generation of moviegoers with the fact that Autobots could die.
  • Wham Line:
    • "DIE, AUTOBOTS!!!"
    • "Behold: GALVATRON." In the time before widespread spoilers, this was a wake-up call to kids who thought Galvatron was just a new character.
  • Wham Shot: At first, after Galvatron challenges Unicron, all we see are parts shifting around from his POV: like the landscape rising and falling beneath his feet. It's not immediately clear what is happening at first...until what is unmistakably an enormous hand begins to emerge. Cue an Oh, Crap! reaction from Galvatron.
  • What If?: IDW Publishing published a one-shot comic titled Transformers: Deviations, which consisted of a retelling of the events of this film where Optimus Prime survived and the story took a different path as a result.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Cyclonus's "Armada" (really just one guy) is only seen being created, and is replaced by another Sweep for the rest of the movie (Fridge Logic suggests that Marvel could have reanimated the scene to remove the "Armada" from the film and used a soundalike for Orson Welles to re-record Galvatron's line). Blaster vanishes after receiving Jazz's transmission, and Ratbat appears in only one scene.
    • What happened to Sunstreaker, Snarl, Hound, and Grapple? (The deaths of Bluestreak and Huffer were retconned in the "Dark Awakening" episode.)
    • A number of characters introduced in Season 2 were nowhere to be found due to the script being written concurrently. The IDW Publishing comic based on the film retconned this with the Combiners on the Autobots' side facing Decepticon combiners.
    • Many characters, especially Autobots, are never seen again after the Movie, some of them possibly Killed Offscreen.
  • "Will Return" Caption: European edits have a voiceover at the end proclaiming that Optimus Prime will return.
  • Within Arm's Reach: Galvatron begins to choke Hot Rod during the climax (don't ask how that works with robots in space), but the Decepticon leader still has the Matrix chained to himself as a necklace, which Hot Rod rips off and uses to turn into Rodimus Prime.
  • World-Wrecking Wave: Considering Unicron is a planet (and then a planet sized transformer), the Matrix's energy wave that cripples and ultimately destroys him qualifies as one of the few times this is a good thing.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Galvatron kills Starscream at his coronation and no one objects to him being the new leader.
  • Your Size May Vary: Scale and Transformers have never mixed well, but when you bring in a guy the size of a planet...
    • Unicron tears the scale of things asunder; no matter what he is interacting with in planet mode, it's about the same size as his mouth, be it a planet, a moon, a shuttle, or just Megatron on his own. Once he transforms, a spaceship carrying a dozen characters goes through one eye, and just fits. Its dozen crew transform to ride out the other eye one at a time, and they just fit as well.
      • And that's before comparing him to Cybertron. Going from being as big as it in one scene, to being able to stand on top of it in another.
      • Another such example happens when the Dinobots attack him, where they each start off as being about quarter the size of his hip (and being able to cause some serious damage), to becoming incredibly tiny when he tries to crush them.
    • Astrotrain carries the entire lineup of surviving Decepticons (including a fully formed Devastator) comfortably inside his space shuttle alt-modenote .

Rodimus Prime: Let this mark the end of the Cybertronian wars as we march forward to a new age of peace and happiness! Till All Are One!
Autobots, Spike and Daniel Witwicky: Till All Are One!

Alternative Title(s): Transformers The Movie


Stan Bush Rocks Transformers

The Honest Trailer for "The Transformers: The Movie" salutes Stan Bush's assume power ballad, "The Touch".

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / AutobotsRockOut

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