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General

  • Vindicated by History: Toy-wise, the original Diaclone and Microman toys became this before Takara decided to rebrand most of their Diaclone and Microman figures into a single line. The first toyline failed due to lack of interest and Takara tried to release them in the west. What makes the unique is when you can actually have a human figure and the drivers/pilots can interact with them. This is why Optimus has work stations, a 4-man buggy, and Prime himself has two seats inside him meant for the small drivers. Megatron's accessory parts can be rearranged into a mounted cannon for a Microman to use. However Takara saw it fit to relaunch Diaclone but without its Transformers connection. Toy reviewers and collectors now look back at their original Transformers and see what made the toys so unique in the first place.
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Animated TV series

Comic book

  • Adaptation Displacement: Sort of. The comics came out several months before the first episode of the cartoon, but the cartoon's the one that gets referenced constantly in every other piece of media. On the other hand, the concept of Primus comes entirely from the comics, and has become prominent in almost all forms of the franchise.
  • Awesome Art: Frequently, especially in "Rhythms of Darkness."
  • Complete Monster:
    • Unicron is a powerful planet-eating Transformer and the Arch-Enemy of Primus, the creator of the Cybertronians. Millions of years ago, Primus stopped Unicron's quest to consume all of existence by trapping him within a lifeless asteroid and left to wander aimlessly through space. When Primus was shot during a fight between the Autobots and Decepticons, Unicron heard his rival's scream of pain and made a direct path towards Cybertron. Stopping to devour the planet of Ghennix and its roughly 60 billion inhabitants, Unicron reformatted three of its survivors to be his new heralds. After sending them to retrieve Galvatron from the future, Unicron tortured him in order to gain his compliance. He distracted Primus's forces by siccing his sleeper agents that were planted within Cybertron's population millennia ago. Once he finally arrived, Unicron devastated Cybertron and claimed countless lives, including Primus's. Unicron's rampage left lasting scars on Cybertron's surface and truly earned him the title of the Chaos Bringer.
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    • Lord Straxus is a brutal Decepticon warlord who took over Cybertron after the departure of Megatron. During his reign, Straxus would have his troops round up any Cybertronian who did not pledge loyalty to the Decepticons and subject them to his smelting pools, where they would be melted down for spare parts while they were still alive. Upon receiving a transmission from Earth, Straxus had the neutral scientist Spanner kidnapped so he could build a space bridge for him. When the bridge started malfunctioning, Straxus sent men after men to their deaths because he was too impatient to figure out what the problem was. He would then forcibly reconfigure Spanner's body to become part of the space bridge, leaving him in constant pain and begging for death. After being reduced to a severed head, Straxus intended to swap bodies with Megatron and crush him in his helpless state. When that plan failed, Straxus forcibly reformatted one of his soldiers into becoming a clone of Megatron and transferred his mind into their body. He would continue to torment the clone and eventually drove him to suicide in his attempts to take over his body. Straxus dispensed no mercy to all sides of the conflict, and promised only death to those who stood in his way.
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    • Flame is an Autobot scientist who was kicked out of his academy in disgrace after proposing a revival of Megatron’s plan to turn Cybertron into a mobile spacecraft. Bitter over his rejection, Flame ignored the warnings of his peers despite the danger his project posed to Cybertron. After discovering an abandoned engine room left behind by the Decepticons, Flame faked his death and continued his research in secrecy. When a test firing of the repaired engines destroyed a section of the city Kalis, Flame transmitted a signal that reanimated the corpses of his fellow Cybertronians and forced them to attack anyone who came close to the city. Flame refused to listen to the warnings of his former colleague, Emirate Xaaron, and tried to kill him when Xaaron attempted to shut down his reactor before it would destroy Cybertron. Flame showed no remorse over turning the victims of his own hubris into his zombie slaves, and only cared about restoring the reputation he deservedly lost.
  • Designated Hero: Grimlock tends to fall into this at times, but the worst example comes during the original series' final issue; he and his fellow Dinobots recklessly jump out of the Autobot's ship to chase after a single Decepticon, with several Autobots following them. This turns out to be a trap that costs the lives of many Autobots, something Prowl rightfully calls Grimlock out on. A few panels later, Grimlock starts lecturing Prowl on how "Autobots fight... to the end!" A stirring sentiment, but it doesn't change the fact that Grimlock seems to have no apparent regret for foolishly leading several Autobots to their deaths.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Many, best look at the franchise' page for them.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Rhythms of Darkness has Rodimus strung up between the otherwise demolished Twin Towers.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The original plan for the last storyline was going to be the Autobots going on a quest to find the Last Autobot, an ancient and legendary mythic being. Years later Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye, while in a different continuity and with a different focus (the Knights Of Cybertron) has this idea as it's basic premise; a crew of Autobots go off on a quest to find an ancient legend.
  • "Holy Shit!" Quotient: Issue 50 and issue 75, both of which involve absolutely massive battles, in which numerous cast members die. The latter more so, given that Primus himself dies. That's the equivalent of a biblical story ending with God getting shot in the face.
  • Hype Backlash: Fans of the Marvel run can be pretty quick to oversell the series as better than the cartoon, and though it wasn't as childish, fans rereading it in the modern day often end up fairly unimpressed. It was still very much a toy ad for ten-year-olds, it lacks the focus episodes and a lot of the hokey charm of the G1 toon, and the artwork is, to say the least, inconsistent. It doesn't help that many of the best-regarded stories note  were UK-exclusive, or that pretty much every modern continuity has stolen ideas from it.
  • Idiot Plot: For the last issue of the Underbase Saga. So Optimus has known all along from his past experience that the whole Underbase would be too much for a Transformer to harness, that it would get itself killed trying to absorb all of its enormous power? So when they find Starscream already in the process of absorbing it, shouldn't Optimus have, oh, just let him absorb it all and blow up instead of stopping the process by shooting him out of its way when he has already absorbed enough to be undefeatable, and having the Bots and Cons go after him resulting in a good deal of them getting killed while he constructs a rocket with reflectors to bring back the remaining Underbase and have it finish what it has started with 'Screamer?!?note 
    • The initial storyline that gets the characters stranded on Earth in the first place. Optimus crashes the Ark to "keep it's secrets from falling into Decepticon hands". Considering that the Ark was only going out to clear a path in the asteroid belt for Cybertron to pass through, what reason did it have to have any secrets on board? It had no job other than to be a gunship, and one they knew was placing itself in a vulnerable position. Not to mention having one of their most important military leaders on board, when there was no reason for him to be.
  • Memetic Mutation: Straxus's famous introduction.
  • My Real Daddy: Simon Furman. Not only did he write for most of the comic, but he was the one who treated it like a serious story rather than a glorified toy advertisement and introduced all the mythology that the Transformers franchise would build off of.
  • Never Live It Down: Optimus sacrificing himself over a videogame.note  While his willingness to die for others is well respected, this one is considered to be a bit too much. And then he's able to be revived because his mind was backed up on a floppy disk. The kind that has a real life storage capacity of about one megabyte at most.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
  • One-Scene Wonder: Slog's only appearance in the entire series, in "Rhythms of Darkness", helped by his unique speech pattern, and introspective nature.
  • Seasonal Rot: The Budiansky issues start off okay, but soon degrade into nonsense before Simon Furman takes over. Sadly, that's more than half the series (not counting the UK run or the G2 comics).
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Line Art: John Ridgway's black and white art in the UK comic is very detailed and realistic. About half the pages had colour added in the original release, and they were all completely recoloured for the American re-release; in both cases, the colour took out a lot of what made it impressive.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Grimlock as Autobot leader seemed a fantastic concept, especially with an introductory story of him learning to respect humans and that a good leader needs more than strength. He promptly develops Aesop Amnesia and turns into The Caligula, sitting on a throne wearing a crown, beating up his troops and showing no interest in fighting Decepticons. Incredibly, the only one bothered enough to stand up to him is Blaster and just as the storyline builds to a confrontation between them, all the Earthbound Autobots disappear for four issues (during which Blaster was left stuffed in a cupboard and forgotten by everyone). There's a one issue wrap up where the delayed confrontation is interrupted by a Decepticon attack, then they all disappear for another four issues by which time Optimus Prime's back and the whole storyline's forgotten.
    • Optimus Prime's first death should be a dramatic moment. He's sacrificed his morals simply to win a temporary advantage in battle, and rather than live with the knowledge that he did that, allows himself to be killed, regardless of the bad position it will leave his troops in. It's just too bad he allows himself to die over cheating in a video game.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • The amount of times humans do something stupid in Budiansky's run would take far too long to list.
    • Megatron challenging Shockwave at the beginning of the series. He knows Shockwave is more or less his equal even when he's 100%, and he attacks when he is still healing from fairly serious injuries.
    • Cyclonus in the UK comics. He loudly announces that he and Scourge will Kill and Replace Shockwave as Decepticon leader in their time... right in front of the present day Shockwave. This leads Shockwave to send Megatron after them, resulting in Cyclonus's death.
  • What the Hell, Costuming Department?: Nebulos, the planet where no-one wears sensible clothing.
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