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Western Animation / Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy

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It's a life worth fighting for.

Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy is a 2020 Netflix CGI-animated series showrun by F.J. Santo (Titans Return, Power of the Primes), produced by Rooster Teeth, and animated by Polygon Pictures, loosely based on the Transformers toyline subseries of the same name (as opposed to the Video Game). Two seasons, Siege and Earthrise, are now available on Netflix with a third season Kingdom on the way.

The first chapter, Siege, is set during the final moments of the Cybertronian war, where both sides are locked in a stalemate on a ruined Cybertron. When Megatron plans to find the Allspark to forcibly convert every Autobot into a Decepticon to end the war, Optimus Prime and his crew of remaining Autobots must retrieve the Allspark before Megatron does, and take it off Cybertron, which may have dire consequences for the planet.


The second chapter, Earthrise, has two divided factions of Autobots attempting to resist Decepticon takeover with one faction led by Elita-1 on Cybertron and another faction led by Optimus Prime on the Ark searching for the AllSpark to bring it back to Cybertron. Megatron pursues his war on both Autobot teams.

Three arcs to this trilogy are planned: Siege, Earthrise, and Kingdom.

Tropes in this series include:

  • Adaptational Jerkass: Downplayed example with Bumblebee. Compared to previous incarnations, who started off as Autobots, he starts off as a neutral, getting paid to search for Energon for groups; he also doesn't want any part in the conflict, and is simply doing what he can to survive. He's also notably grumpy and cynical, a far cry from the chipper bot from all previous continuities.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Jetfire and Impactor start off as Decepticons. They were Autobots in their original incarnations (although Jetfire was a former Decepticon in many continuities and has been a temporary ally of the Decepticons in some other versions). Ultimately subverted for both of them: Impactor dies while protecting Ratchet, and Jetfire performs a Heel–Face Turn. The toyline also implied this of Mirage, although he actually remains loyal to the Autobots and merely adopts a Decepticon color scheme briefly to spy on them, which is what the toy is of.
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  • Adapted Out: Impactor's usual role as leader of the Wreckers is dropped, and given he dies, he doesn't have anything to do with the team.
  • Anyone Can Die: While very minor characters such as Skywarp and Moonracer bite it, major characters like Ultra Magnus and Impactor are not exempt at all.
  • Bittersweet Ending: At the end of Siege, the Autobots do escape the planet Cybertron but have suffered heavy casualties and they had to abandon their dream of retaking it and returning to the Golden Age of peace and artistic creativity.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: In Earthrise Episode 4, when Soundwave deploys Ravage against Scorponok, the captions say [Ravage barks]. Wrong animal, guys.
  • Break the Haughty: Sky Lynx, who believed he should have the Matrix due to his strength, tried to attack and steal it from Alpha Trion, who banished him to the Dead Universe. There he had the power to do whatever he wanted but it also made him realize how insignificant he was in the grand scheme of things, resulting in him examining his life and becoming much more humble as a result.
  • The Cavalry: Omega Supreme bursts from the ground and protects the Spacebridge long enough for the Allspark and the Ark to be sent through.
  • Cliffhanger: Earthrise end with Megatron stealing the Matrix of Leadership but the explosion of the mercenaries' ship cause both the Ark and the Nemesis to crash land on prehistoric Earth. On Cybertron, an attempt to blow up the Decepticons' base goes wrong and results in all the Autobots getting caught in the blast as well.
  • Composite Character: Red Alert retains his familiar design, but is also a medic, like his Transformers Armada counterpart.
  • Crapsack World: Cybertron, for the Autobots anyways. Every region of the planet is either uninhabitable, torn down by war, or annexed by Megatron, and they're on the brink of collapse due to the planet's remaining Energon resources being under the control of their enemies. With Megatron pursuing ruthless methods of mass genocide against the Autobots, Optimus and his remnant soldiers work around the clock to escape Cybertron having abandoned their dream of retaking it.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Optimus' first onscreen fight with Megatron doesn't end well for the Autobot leader. Megatron easily dodges Optimus' attacks and pins him to the ground with a few well-placed hits. The only reason Optimus even survives is thanks to Elita-1 distracting the Decepticons long enough for Optimus, Wheeljack and Bumblebee to escape.
  • Decomposite Character: Soundblaster is now a failed clone of Soundwave turned Energon dealer, rather than an upgrade of Soundwave himself as in Transformers: ★Headmasters. This isn't the first time this has happened, but it's the first case to be depicted in major media.
  • Defiant to the End: Ultra Magnus tells Megatron that he will never win the war against the Autobots before taking a point-blank fusion cannon blast.
  • Disappointed in You: Megatron calls Jetfire, one of his high-ranking officials, a disappointment for expressing his disgust in Megatron's genocide plan.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: When Sky Lynx states that being in the Dead Universe had allowed him to become true power, Optimus thinks that he is still as arrogant as when Alpha Trion banished him. Sky Lynx then clarifies that even with all his power, he could never leave the Dead Universe, and the situation forced him to reexamine himself and took a level in humility.
  • Elite Mook: This is how the Seekers are treated. Their presence is usually something of an Oh, Crap! moment for the Autobots — probably not helped with them having zero flyers — as opposed to any other Decepticon unit, and being in charge of the Seekers is a very high-ranking position it seems.
  • EMP: In episode 5, Shockwave emits an EMP blast to wipe out the Autobots' power grids, computers and communication systems.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Downplayed with Megatron, since he does show displeasure at Shockwave's more underhanded tools and methods, but generally goes along with them anyway due to being The Unfettered. However, even he's horrified at Optimus's idea of sending the Allspark off Cybertron, believing this will doom all life on the planet.
    • Played straight with both Jetfire and Impactor, who have no problem engaging the Autobots in battle, but are shaken by the idea of mass genocide.
  • Explosive Leash: The core override, a system formerly used by the city-state of Praxus, ensures a Cybertronian's compliance by implanting what is essentially a remote-detonated bomb inside their brain. When former Seeker commander Jetfire defects to the Autobots, he insists they perform this procedure on him in order to guarantee his loyalty.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Enjoy the image of Moonracer getting torn limb from limb via the Sparkless, and the sight of dozens of Autobots impaled on pikes in a Decepticon camp.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Decepticons were essentially the working class of Cybertron, forced to mine Energon to enable the opulent lives the Autobots lived. After Alpha Trion and later Megatron's revolution, there is a general animosity between the Autobots and Decepticons, of course, but they're referred to as separate "species", and the characters tend to take an immediate disliking to someone of the opposing faction, so it's sort of this.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: Megatron's original rebellion was against the corrupt, tyrannical rulers of Cybertron, but by the time of the series, he's become every bit the bloodthirsty tyrant himself.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • The Quintessons indirectly in Siege and then directly in Earthrise. Ultra Magnus in Episode 3 of Siege warns Megatron, "Don't become like the ones we rose against." confirming that much like in Generation One, these Transformers also staged a rebellion against their adverse creators the Quintessons. Deseeus, the only Quintesson shown so far, is one of the main antagonists of Earthrise.
    • Unicron has a surprise cameo in Earthrise with Galvatron traveling back in time to help his younger self take the Matrix of Leadership for himself to avoid being enslaved by the Chaos Bringer.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Downplayed. While everyone has a gun, Elita-1 and Chromia are the ones who specialize in sniper rifles and don't at any point get into hand-to-hand fights like the male characters in Siege. In Earthrise, this is averted as both of them get physical against Decepticons on multiple occasions.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Impactor and Jetfire. The former is rescued by Ratchet, helps several people in Ratchet's makeshift clinic, and dies protecting him while he activates the space bridge. The latter defects to the Autobots after realizing that Megatron is perpetuating genocide, aids the Autobots in locating the Allspark, and stays behind on Cybertron to guard it.
  • Honor Before Reason: A recurring problem with just about everyone. Many will keep to their guns, figuratively and literally, rather than give in to the problems at hand. Except Megatron, sealing his role as The Unfettered.
  • Irony: Starscream, of all bots, actually manages to end up in a better position at the end of the first arc of the trilogy without having to resort to backstabbing — due to Jetfire mortally wounding Skywarp when the latter attempts to report the location of the Autobots to Megatron, he's able to use this information to replace Jetfire as leader of the Seekers with Megatron's approval, no less.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Like Jetfire and Impactor, Starscream takes issue with Megatron's plan to reformat all non-Decepticons into Decepticons using the Allspark. Unlike Jetfire and Impactor, he has no particular problem with the plan on any moral level; rather, he feels that any Cybertronian thus converted wouldn't be a "true" Decepticon, and would dilute the purity of their warrior heritage.
  • Last of His Kind: Scorponok is this. Rather than being a Decepticon of extreme size, he's instead "the last Scorponok," which were another race of robots that were enslaved by the Quintessons. Unlike the Autobots and Decepticons, the Scorponoks were apparently never freed and used as slave labor and gladiotorial entertainment until he was the only one left.
  • Lured into a Trap:
    • In Siege Episode 2, Megatron and Soundwave set a trap for the Autobots into an area packed with Decepticon snipers after Soundwave perfects mimicking Ultra Magnus's voice through synthetic copying and telling the Autobots to arrive at the coordinates immediately. Even Elita-1 first pointed out that it looked like the perfect choice for a trap but Optimus brushed her off. Luckily, Optimus does get tipped off by Chromia and Cog that "Ultra" was wrong about what they needed to find and successfully retreat but with Cog wounded.
    • The beginning of Earthrise has Starscream set out one for the rebel Autobots led by Elita-1 using the remains of a fallen Autobot named Steeljaw.
  • MacGuffin: In Siege, the Autobots work around the clock to obtain the AllSpark, Energon supplies and fuel to get the Ark (their ship) running and operational. The AllSpark becomes the primary one of Earthrise, although later on Galvatron prods Megatron to take the Matrix of Leadership from Optimus to escape a lifetime of slavery to Unicron.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Of course, it's a Transformers series. The entire show is named after its toyline and the characters are all modelled to look exactly like their toys if they had one planned during production. The two prominent characters who didn't have toys, Bumblebee and Elita-1, get one thanks to the show's existence.
  • Morton's Fork: Optimus Prime is forced to choose between surrendering to Megatron or continuing to fight the war. Optimus believes (or rather knows, since he knows Megatron better than the other Autobots) that both choices lead to the same result of Megatron annihilating them all, so Optimus continues to persist in finding a way for the Autobots to abandon Cybertron.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In Earthrise, Optimus admits that he was wrong for throwing the Allspark through the space bridge, which resulted in Cybertron slowly dying, and he resolves to find it and return it.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The way the conflict is treated as if the Autobots and Decepticons are two separate types of Cybertronians hearkens back to the original cartoon where the Quintessons eventually created two lines of sentient robots: one was a line of robots designed for domestic duties and labor (known as Autobots), and the other was a line designed for military use (known as Decepticons).
    • Just as in both the Aligned Universe and Transformers: Cyberverse, the Autobots plan to launch the Allspark into space before the Decepticons could use it for evil.
    • Bumblebee mentions racing on the planet Velocitron, which appeared in Transformers Cybertron, the 2005 IDW continuity, and Transformers: Cyberverse and Chromia mentions her home planet Caminus, which was also her homeworld in the 2005 IDW continuity and the aformentioned Transformers: Cyberverse.
    • The Sparkless first appear out of dark purple crystals and have purple optics, bringing to mind the Dark Energon Terrorcons from Prime.
    • The series opens with Bumblebee and Wheeljack searching for Energon while evading enemies, mirroring the first moments of the original Generation 1 cartoon pilot.
    • Whether intentional or not, Soundblaster's ownership of Buzzsaw is one to his Transformers Cybertron incarnation, who also had him as his minion.
    • When Starscream attempts to assert control of the Decepticons due to Megatron being injured, the latter tells him "I still function."
    • Galvatron gives a golden disc to Megatron in Earthrise.
    • The core override procedure used to guarantee Jetfire's loyalty to the Autobot cause (at his own insistence) is similar in function to the deterrence chips from the 2005 IDW continuity. Prowl knows how to perform the procedure, although he considers its use to be a dark spot in his city-state's history and is clearly uncomfortable with the whole situation; this was probably a deliberate characterization choice, as sticking a bomb in someone's brain to ensure their loyalty is precisely the sort of thing the 2005 IDW Prowl would have done without a second thought. It's also a callback to the bomb inserted into Swindle's head in the The Transformers season 2 episode "B.O.T.", which would go off if Swindle hadn't managed to reassemble Bruticus in time.
    • Much like in the Animated second season finale, Omega Supreme enters the fight at a critical moment in the battle over a space bridge. Just as then he disappears with it in a flash of light.
    • In the end, Elita-1 and Chromia remain on Cybertron, which also serves as a reference to them being active on Cybertron as a resistance cell during the original G1 cartoon.
    • Mirage is seen generating illusory clones, a rarely-used technique from his original bio.
    • The Earthrise trailer reveals the Quintessons, Nemesis Prime, Galvatron, and Unicron will all appear in Earthrise.
    • Galvatron appears via time travel and it is implied he is a future version of Megatron. This is similar to how the character originally appeared in the Marvel and Marvel U.K. Transformers series, where Galvatron is a reformatted, future version of Megatron.
    • The Dead Universe originally appeared in the 2005 IDW comic book series. There are differences between the two versions. The IDW version is an alternate universe you do not want to go to, to put it nicely, while the Netflix version seems to mostly be a place similar to the Phantom Zone, from the Superman comic book series.
    • The Space Bridge on Cybertron is located in Sector Seven.
  • Neutral No Longer:
    • Omega Supreme, a member of the formerly neutral Guardians, Ratchet the medic and Bumblebee, a neutral Energon hunter, decide to throw in their chips with the Autobots.
    • After spending most of the first season as an unaligned scavenger, Bumblebee officially joins the Autobots in the third episode of Earthrise.
  • Never My Fault: Megatron blames Optimus for the devastating war he put Cybertron through due to the Autobot leader not unconditionally surrendering to his tyrannical rule.
  • Not So Different: Optimus and Scorponok point out that Megatron's lust for conflict and willingness to sentence his Cybertronians to death makes him no different the the Quintessons who tyrannized Cybertron in the past, a comparison that enrages Megatron.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Shockwave and Soundwave share a silent one when Starscream is promoted to Air Commander after the supposed death of Jetfire.
    Starscream: Welcome to a new era of Decepticon aerial superiority! As your commander, we will champion the heavens! We will strike down every Autobot in sight!
    Soundwave: [Face Palm] Most inferior.
    • Megatron has a moment of his own when he realizes that Optimus has the Allspark and is planning to use the space bridge to send it off-world.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Zombie robots called the 'Sparkless' impede Optimus' team in the Sea of Rust. Legend has it that they're after the Allspark to bring them back to life.
  • Palette Swap:
    • As is the norm, every Seeker is a recoloured version of Starscream.
    • In a weird two-way case, Bumblebee and Cliffjumper. Bee's model is a yellow version of Cliffjumper's Earthrise toy, making him one in the context of the overall War for Cybertron Trilogy franchise. In the show specifically, however, Cliff appears much later than Bee and is a minor character, making him one for Bee. Bugbite from Earthrise is also shares the design.
    • Soundblaster is a black-coloured Soundwave, with the excuse being that he's a clone of Soundwave.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: This incarnation of Megatron is a bit more prone to this; particularly at the start of the series, he prefers to convert rather than execute Autobots, and genuinely wants to end the war quickly and with a minimum of casualties (albeit only on his terms). One prominent example is when Soundwave warns Megatron that Shockwave's virus can severely harm the Autobots, but it can also severely harm the Decepticons as well. Megatron sincerely values Soundwave's council, so he orders Shockwave to figure out how to use the virus in a way that won't come back and bite them later.
  • Reality Ensues: Starscream tries to usurp control from the Decepticons and leave Megatron for dead by blowing the space bridge up in episode 5 of Earthrise. This bites him in the ass hard when Megatron comes back after they let him back on board. He even questions Starscream if he really thought they would side with him so quickly.
  • Screw Destiny: Galvatron manages to travel back in time to the Dead Universe to try and help his younger form kill Optimus and take the Matrix of Leadership for himself in an attempt to avoid being enslaved by Unicron.
  • Soul-Powered Engine: Well... more liked soul powered fuel as Shockwave created a machine to convert sparks into energon that will be used to power up the spaceship Nemesis.
  • Talking to the Dead: The season 2 premiere has Megatron talking to the decapitated head of Ultra Magnus who was killed in the previous season.
  • Tear Off Your Face: Deseeus achieves consensus by slicing off all but one of their faces.
  • The Starscream:
    • The Trope Namer is in fine form here. Due to his position at the start of the story, it's mostly Jetfire he's trying to backstab, although he does get in a couple of digs at Megatron's authority as well.
    • Deseeus the Quintesson Judge need all five of its faces to reach a consensus to before acting. The Wrath face decides to hack off its other faces so that it be the sole decision maker.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Megatron was always a tyrant, but at the start of the series, he was at least pragmatic about it. Most of his more extreme and despicable actions were performed at Shockwave's urging.
  • The Unreveal: What Deseeus planned to do to the Autobots was not revealed in Earthrise due to them escaping.
  • Villain Has a Point: During the finale of Siege, while Megatron is aware that Optimus opposes his plan to use the Allspark to reformat all Cybertronians into Decepticons, he's shocked that Optimus would take the Allspark off Cybertron, since according to the legends doing so can make the planet die. This leads to Megatron giving a What the Hell, Hero? moment to the Autobot leader, pointing out that Prime's plan is even worse than his — after all, at least Megatron's plan won't kill the planet. It turns out that the old legend is false and that Cybertron can survive being without the Allspark, at least temporarily, but in all fairness, nobody on Cybertron would have any way of knowing that.
  • Villain of the Detour: In the last act, Bumblebee, Arcee, and Cog have to deal with the Energon broker, Soundblaster, to get the fuel needed to launch the Ark.
  • War Is Hell: This series drives home how horrifying and traumatizing the war is far more than any previous Transformers animated series. Characters are shown sporting scars and cracks, and numerous characters are implied if not outright stated to have PTSD with some choosing to stay neutral while others go to extreme lengths just to end the conflict. We also frequently see the destructive aftermath of the numerous battles on Cybertron, with cities being shows razed and empty. Optimus and Elita both sound as if they are on the verge of tears at times and even Megatron seems weary of the war despite his ruthlessness.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Moonracer is torn apart by the Sparkless not long after being introduced.
  • Wham Shot:
    • The Official Trailer for Earthrise shows someone speaking to Megatron, telling him to kill Optimus and take his Spark for himself. To the shock of everyone when the camera reveals them standing behind Megatron, the speaker is none other than Galvatron.
    Megatron: I don't trust you.
    Galvatron: Good. Never trust anyone.
    • In the final moments of Earthrise Episode 6, what remains of the Fortune burns up in the atmosphere of a planet, witnessed by a velociraptor - a robotic velociraptor...
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Optimus Prime has a tendency to both give and be on the receiving end of this. He's tried to make sure that the Autobots maintain their integrity and not perform Decepticon-like acts, like ordering them to not execute Bumblebee when he initially refused to join them and tried to leave. That being said, the Autobots are more willing to question Prime on his plans (especially when Prime has the idea of getting the Allspark off Cybertron, which could have disastrous consequences for the planet).
    • Several neutral bots, such as Bumblebee and Ratchet, question whether the Autobots are just as much at fault as the Decepticons for the war going on for so long. Even Ultra Magnus and Optimus, high-ranking Autobots themselves, ask themselves if this is the case.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: In Earthrise, Optimus has two opportunities to kill Megatron. The first time he decides against it in the hopes that Megatron will help him find the Allspark, only for the Decepticon leader to immediately betray him at the first opportunity. The second time he's determined to kill him but can't bring himself to pull the trigger until he hears Megatron say he forgives him for the act.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Everyone dreads the Sea of Rust for its lethal and corrosive environment, but what nobody knew about it was that it contains the Sparkless, zombie-like Cybertronians who feed on living Cybertronians' sparks and can rip them limb from limb. Unfortunate because that's where the AllSpark is, and Optimus inadvertently ended up sacrificing Moonracer to those cannibalistic creatures to obtain the AllSpark.

Alternative Title(s): Transformers War For Cybertron


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