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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Sentinel Prime suffered severe psychological damage in the incident where Elita-1 was lost. Since then, rabid fear of organics and guilt over leaving Elita-One to die have been gnawing away at his neural nets, turning him into a paranoid wreck who's convinced he's the Only Sane Man. Or maybe he's just some self-centered jerk who won't take responsibility for his actions. A slight riff on the former: Sentinel and Elita-One were romantically involved (you see his arm around her waist and he puts in every effort he can to protect her, even covering her and Optimus' retreat. When she fell to her 'death,' he's willing to throw himself into a damn inferno to save her.) Yeah, he took her death pretty hard, especially since his and Optimus' rule-breaking (going to that off-limits planet) caused Elita's death. Now, in the present, he's convinced that rule-breaking will always cause heartbreak. That's why he's so obsessed with regulations and order, to keep others from suffering that same loss. He wants to do good in that regard, but he does need a little guidance; after you realize that, it's hard to hate him. Alternate Character Interpretation, indeed.
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    • Some more Transformers Animated specific examples: Do Lugnut and Blitzwing merely work together, or are they genuinely friends? Is Blitzwing crazy because he's a triple-changer, or is he able to triple-change only because he's crazy? Or are his nuttiness and ability to triple-change unrelated? Derrick J. Wyatt stated that becoming a triple-changer means going crazy in response to a question on his blog.
    • There are plenty of interpretations regarding Megatron, in large part due to how — probably deliberately — ambiguous a lot of his characterization comes off as. Is he really dedicated to the cause of the Decepticons, or is he merely a power-hungry bastard who uses empty rhetoric to hide the fact that he's out for himself first and foremost? Is his apparent affability genuine or just a very good mask? Is his seeming lack of gratuitous cruelty a sign that he has redeeming qualities, or an extension of his pragmatism and self-control? That being said, this is largely for the show itself; supplemental materials (especially some tie-in comics and released material about the planned Season Four) seem to generally lean towards a more monstrous and unpleasant characterization for him.
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    • Invoked with Blackarachnia's last scene. Waspinator was destabilizing due to the Transwarp energy she infused him with, and was close to exploding. Blackarachnia encased both herself and him in web, lessening the explosion. Optimus says she did that to save them, sacrificing herself, Sentinel says she did it to harness the energy and teleport out, sacrificing Wasp.
  • Adaptation Distillation - Most notable is in the character of Starscream, who makes his first bid for leadership in the first episode. He is very literally the distilled character of G1, who took until the movie when Megatron was injured from a battle with Prime. Here he is much more proactive, planting a bomb on Megatron before he goes off to fight the Autobots.
  • Animation Age Ghetto: Back when the first promos were shown off, many fans claimed that the show would be too "kid-oriented" based off of the art style alone. Then Thrill of the Hunt aired and the show got darker in general, and these claims became less frequent.
  • Ass Pull: The reveal that Bulkhead is the top space bridge technician in the galaxy. Mainly because it makes one wonder why exactly this never came up while the team was repairing space bridges.
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    • The first episode, along with several other flashbacks show that Optimus' crew were more of a cleaning maintenance crew for Space Bridges - Bulkhead might not have needed to show off his skills until the events of the Season 2 finale.
  • Author's Saving Throw: Initially, Shockwave was blue and grey, which some viewers found disappointing as they preferred his original purple design. He would change his color scheme to purple at the end of Season 3, with a justified excuse being that Decepticons are usually associated with purple and thus it would look suspicious if he kept his normal colors while undercover as an Autobot.
  • Badass Decay:
    • The Dinobots, to the point where they were easily beaten by Jetfire and Jetstorm and scared off by post-upgrade Sari by Season 3. Oh, and according to Grimlock's profile, he's as powerful as Megatron.
    • Most of the Decepticons suffer from this. Blitzwing and Lugnut are the worst cases, they are shown to able to beat all five of the main autobots on their own, and since the Autobots getting their asses kicked all the time would get old, beating them has to constantly require the use of plot devices that render both villains to Butt Monkeys
    • Blackout suffers this in the Cool comic, where Jetfire and Jetstorm dodge his attacks, and combine to take him down. Blackout killed 3 bots the size of Omega Supreme in the war by himself, and lead a bombing raid against a fourth, and he seems to forget that he's covered in weapons.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Sentinel Prime, the shows biggest Jerkass. Fans Love to Hate him, feeling his arrogance coming back to bite him is entertainingly karmic, his mannerisms adding to the moral layers of the Autobots, showing they're not all squeaky clean, and his occasional points of clarity, specifically his reaction to Blackarachnia adding a surprisingly emotional depth to him. Others hate him because he's an obnoxious Damsel Scrappy who refuses to learn from his actions and is a danger to everyone.
    • The reveal of The Motor Master's design met with some contention. There were fans of the design, using the Voyager Optimus Prime gave him a beefy Evil Counterpart appearance. There was also a number of fans who didn't like the design, some felt that the blocky head clashed with the more curved design of the body, with those fans feeling the use of the Wreck Gar mode to be more suitable. Finally other fans feel that complaint applies more to the character model rather than the toy.
    • Jetfire and Jetstorm. Some thought they were a cool addition to the cast being Autobot Jets, and combiners who had a number of awesome and funny moments. Others found their comedy relief annoying, felt they were overpowered and benefitted too much from The Worf Effect.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Slipstream appearing for a brief minute to shoot down Optimus at the end of "Endgame, Part I". This is an artifact from a deleted scene in which Slipstream would've revived Starscream at the end of "Endgame, Part II".
  • Bizarro Episode: The Bee in the City script reading. Filled with Fourth Wall breaking fun, and various Shout Outs to other Transformers continuities, and even lampshades the trope by agreeing never to speak of the incident again.
  • Broken Base: The art design for the show, especially for the Transformers themselves. It is either a refreshing new take on the characters with some enjoyable zaniness, or it is too different from what came before and that same zaniness does not mesh well with the characters.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Megatron is the cruel, ruthless leader of the Decepticons and the Autobots' worst enemy. A megalomaniac who overthrew the generally peaceful leader of the Decepticons to make them his own, Megatron spurred them into all-out war against the Autobots, leading to heavy casualties on both sides. Megatron utilized chemical weapons that wiped out entire battlefields—even his own men—and air bombings on civilians during the Great War. After resurrecting himself on Earth, having caused much destruction to regain his body, Megatron makes several attempts to invade Cybertron, culminating in him ordering Decepticon attacks on several Autobot bases throughout the cosmos while he personally invades Cybertron and destroys its Autobot leaders, planning to test his new Omega Supreme clones by first annihilating Detroit.
    • Lockdown is a ruthless and sadistic Bounty Hunter whose only loyalty is to himself. Unaligned with Autobots or Decepticons, Lockdown is indiscriminate in his prey, taking commissions from whomever is willing to pay him. To make himself more powerful, Lockdown steals upgrades from his targets, torturing them by cutting the weapons from his victims' bodies. Devoid of empathy, Lockdown sees his victims as little more than trophies, taunting them if he chances to encounter them again. Having once been a student of the Autobot Yoketron, Lockdown murdered his former master in order to steal the protoforms under Yoketron's protection and sell them for his own profit. Merciless and consumed by greed, Lockdown is a sociopath who frightens and disgusts Autobots and Decepticons alike.
    • Meltdown, originally Prometheus Black, is a human scientist who ended up mutated by his own experiments. He tries to kill his rival, Isaac Sumdac, in a fit of rage whilst blaming him for all his problems, including his self-inflicted transformation. Later, he becomes so obsessed with creating a human transformer, he not only mutates at least two innocent humans into gruesome hybrids combined with animal parts, he also decides to kidnap Sumdac's innocent eight-year-old daughter as his newest test subject, deciding to experiment on children in general now. When Blackarachnia breaks him out of jail in exchange for him eliminating her organic half, he double-crosses her and tries to destroy her Transformer half - a deed which, if not destroying her soul completely, would have left her with a completely organic body she's disgusted with. He also forces the Dinobots to work for him by painfully burning them with his acidic touch until they follow his commands. He hurt them so badly, that they were willing to turn on Bulkhead and Prowl, their only friends among the main cast, just to stay in Meltdown's good graces.
  • Crack Pairing:
  • Creepy Awesome: Lockdown.
    Soundwave: I am Soundwave. I am Decepticon. The revolution begins now!
  • Cult Classic: Animated didn't achieve the same kind of pop culture dominance that many other iterations of the franchise have, but a decade after its release it retains a very strong following within the greater Transformers fandom due to its surprisingly strong storytelling, unique take on the Transformers mythos, and abundance of geeky Shout Outs, Homages and Mythology Gags thrown in for the older fans to catch.
  • Damsel Scrappy: Sentinel Prime is an unusual male (not to mention giant alien robot) example. Most of his time onscreen involves him getting into some scrape or another and having the long-suffering Optimus get him out. It seems the only thing that keeps Optimus from abandoning him is a sense of guilt about their shared past and perhaps some level of fondness for his old Academy-mate.
    • Mix of all of the above, and the hope that Sentinel gets it through his thick head that his arrogance is a Bad Thing. But Status Quo Is God and he always rubber bands back to being a jackass by his next appearance. Even Jazz, who has long tolerated (or ignored) it as his second in command, finally gives up and more or less defects to Prime's crew.
  • Designated Villain: Played With for Prowl in "Five Servos of Doom." He's supposed to be an undisciplined maverick who learns to be more humble and fight for a good cause under Yoketron, but the reason he's brought to Yoketron in the first place is because he's a draft-dodger. Prowl states he doesn't want to fight in the war, and he's shown to have been rounded up and forced to participate. Warpath, the arresting officer even threatens to take him outside and beat him up until he agrees. In essence, he was pressed into service and villainized for not wanting to go out and risk his life for the people forcing him into the war. On the other hand, the Decepticon threat was so great that the Autobots were reaching the Godzilla Threshold, what with Project Omega, and were forced to make certain moral concessions, so the Decepticons wouldn't win and make life even worse for people under their oppression. Forced military service was just one of these moral concessions, all for the greater good.
  • Ear Worm:
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
  • Evil Is Sexy: Megatron, Starscream (yes, even the voice), Lockdown, Slipstream, the female Starscream, and Blackarachnia of course!
    • Slimy, bug-eyed Swindle, too! Can you believe it!?
  • Fan-Disliked Explanation: Defied. Word of God is that avoiding this reaction is why the AllSpark has no given origin, to not run the risk of making the artifact less interesting or making it too bizarre and convoluted.
  • Fandom Rivalry: It's starting to build up one of these with its Contested Sequel, Transformers Prime.
  • Fanfic Fuel: With the amount of characters with their own quirks even if they're exclusive to All There in the Manual, there's at least a couple of pieces of fanart and/or fanfiction that you'll find lying around somewhere of them. It at least rivals that of the Generation 1 buzz.
  • Friendly Fandoms: With My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, for many obvious reasons.
  • Foe Yay: The ending of "A Fistful of Energon".
  • Growing the Beard: Season One wasn't bad by any means, and had a few stand-out episodes (in particular "Thrill of the Hunt", which introduced Lockdown and dealt with mature themes like consequences and regrets during war time), but Seasons Two and especially Three were when the series found its footing, introducing Darker and Edgier themes, more serialized storytelling and character development, and largely ditching the one-note human villains of the first season in favor of a more consistent focus on the Decepticons as the main villains.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
  • He Really Can Act:
    • Tom Kenny's take on Wasp has been well-received, in spite of the Memetic Mutation by younger audiences about how Spongebob and Starscream have the same voice. Meanwhile, reception on his take on Starscream is seen as take it or leave it, though some are impressed that with him channeling Chris Latta.
    • For younger audiences that have never seen his other works (such as Gargoyles), Bill Fagerbakke's performance as Bulkhead is this.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Safeguard's look reminds many people of Kamen Rider Double. One person even modded their Safeguard into CycloneJoker colours.
    • The casting of Corey Burton, the voice of Shockwave on Generation 1 as Megatron. Recently in Dark of the Moon, the G1 incarnation of Megatron's voice actor, Frank Welker, returned the favor and voiced movie Shockwave.
    • Wasn't there another show where Jeff Bennett and Bill Fagerbakke voiced two characters in a Five-Man Band who were put in stasis? And funnily enough, their roles in the team are even the same.
    • One of TF Wiki's earlier image captions for Lugnut describes him in relation to Shockwave and Omega Supreme. This becomes amusing when Animated Shockwave is introduced and Lugnut feuds with him on who is Megatron's most loyal servant. And then the last episodes have the creation of Lugnut Supreme, based on Omega Supreme, which involved both Lugnut and Shockwave.
    • Lugnut is fanatically loyal to Megatron in the series. Several years after the end of Animated, a new incarnation of Lugnut in the IDW G1 continuity becomes a part of Deathsaurus' army in More Than Meets the Eye, who are dead set on murdering Megatron after his defection to the Autobots.
    • In "Human Error Pt. 2", both Optimus Prime and Soundwave battles using The Power of Rock (complete with guitar shredding). Fast forward to 2014, and we got another one from Hasbro... in the form of a My Little Pony: Equestria Girls short involving Rainbow Dash and Trixie in a guitar shred-off!
  • Hollywood Homely - Blackarachnia, at first. She's supposed to be hideous due her techno-organic status, but both to the viewer and most of the Autobots she's a beautiful Femme Fatale. And then her helmet comes off and this trope is subverted so fast its head spins.
  • HSQ: The ending of season 2 and the first few episodes of season 3.
  • Idiot Plot - "Where Is Thy Sting?" Complete with heavy Most Definitely Not a Villain.
  • Love to Hate: There's plenty of examples. Namely Megatron for being a formidable adversary, Meltdown for being a formidable adversary by human standards, and Sentinel Prime for being an unapologetic jerk that has his fair share of karma delivered.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • Megatron is the leader of the Decepticons and the Arch-Enemy of the Autobots. A brilliant tactician who kickstarted the entire Decepticon cause into an organized, deadly army and initiated the Great War, Megatron was reduced to but a head after the betrayal of his lieutenant Starscream, however even this doesn't stop Megatron, as he manipulates Isaac Sumdac and several other humans to reconstruct his body and return to life. Megatron is constantly updating and adapting his plans, going from trying to steal the Allspark to using its shattered fragments to create a Space Bridge with ease, and uses the mole he planted in Cybertron ages ago, Shockwave, to construct Decepticon uprisings so as to distract Cybertron and let Megatron invade. Rarely losing his cool and his plans always being foiled only by an outside source he couldn't have predicted, Megatron makes one final scheme by using rudimentary tech to take control of Omega Supreme, create clones of him, then use them to conquer Cybertron before expanding the Decepticon rule across the cosmos.
    • Shockwave is Megatron's "most loyal servant", a manipulative shapeshifter who infiltrates Cybertron as the Autobot Longarm. When Bumblebee learns that there is a Decepticon spy in their midst, Shockwave first tries to murder the bot before framing the innocent Wasp as the spy, successfully protecting his identity to such a point that he murders the current head of Cybertron intelligence to get himself the promotion with no suspicions. Shockwave manipulates the Autobot leadership for years as he orchestrates Decepticons across the galaxy, and always pounces on any potential leaks of his identity, leading Blurr into a lethal trap when he tries to investigate Longarm and cutting off communications with Optimus Prime when his team learn of Shockwave's status as a mole. When realizing he is moments away from being exposed, Shockwave deals a fatal blow to Ultra Magnus, kidnaps Arcee and uses her memories to help Megatron with his plans to clone Omega Supreme, only being beaten after he lures an Autobot team into a trap and nearly murders them all by playing on their compassion.
    • Swindle is a fast-talking, smooth arms dealer who plays both sides of the Autobot-Decepticon conflict to bring himself the most profit. Introducing himself by manipulating a group of human villains into building a powerful EMP weapon, Swindle betrays them all and tries to sell the weapon to Megatron, demonstrating its abilities by easily incapacitating the entire Autobot team. Though he is captured thanks to a surprise attack, Swindle bounces right back as he stages a breakout of an Autobot prison ship, taking control and planning to use the Autobot crew as hostages before harvesting their parts for extra cash. Swindle is always ready with a new gadget or weapon to get out of any situation, such as arming the Decepticon prisoners or disabling Jetfire and Jetstorm in a cinch, and he ultimately gets away scot-free, using an Autobot rescue attempt to distract his cohorts, looting the entire prison ship's belongings, and fleeing into space while remarking how much he "loves a shopping spree."
  • Memetic Mutation: Shockwave's difficult to hear and completely out-of-character "LIAR! LYING LIAR!" has become a bit of an in-joke amongst his fans.
  • Moe: Sari.
    • Among the Autobots, Wreck-Gar is very much this. It sounds weird that a sentient Humongous Mecha voice by "Weird Al" Yankovic could be cute in the first place, but Wreck-Gar is so Adorkable and kindhearted that it's absolutely darling. Fair warning, watching him may make you want to go out and hug the nearest garbage truck.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • In "Predacons Rising", Blackarachnia jumps off the slippery slope by mutating a mentally unstable Wasp and then casually admitting she doesn't care if he lives or dies so long as she could find a cure for herself. Her oft-teased redemption was pretty much dead by that point.
    • Prometheus Black decides to use the child of his "arch-nemesis" as the test subject for making an organic Transformer. This is after he already tried it on two adults and permanently left them in misshapen bestial forms.
  • Most Wonderful Sound - This is the first time the Autobots themselves have mentioned the iconic transforming noise. When the Bots are trying to will themselves back to their normal states in Soundwave's Lotus-Eater Machine, Bumblebee suggests that Bulkhead make the noise with his mouth.
  • Narm Charm: The series' approach to combining humour with drama makes the whole thing remarkably cheesy, but there's something inherently lovable about the way much of the main cast (and that includes many of the villains) are nobodies, screw-ups, and nutjobs.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: The Nintendo DS game has rather mixed reviews. While lauded for the graphics and story being faithful to the show as well as having the show's cast reprise their roles, it has also been criticized for being too easy and mainly being a puzzle game with very little transforming.
  • The Scrappy:
    • While they did help stave off Villain Decay and Menace Decay for the Decepticons, the human villains are generally disliked for being gimmicky and taking screentime away from the Transformer vs. Transformer conflicts. The sole exception seems to be Meltdown, since he's actually dangerous to the Autobots and serves as a menacing villain in his own right. Technically speaking though, he's not human-at least not anymore.
    • Averted with Sari Sumdac. Unlike most human characters in the franchise, Sari has largely avoided being The Scrappy. Of course, it was eventually revealed that she's really half-Cybertronian.
  • Squick - Captain Fanzone dangling a loogie towards Rattletrap, and sucking it back in when the latter telling him what he wants. Excuse me for a sec....
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • In "Predacons Rising", Sentinel discovers Blackarachnia's true identity Elita-1 and that she has just transformed Wasp into Waspinator via her transwarp chamber (he was manipulated into it). Despite the former revelation, Sentinel, being an organic-phobe, is actually willing to kill Blackarachnia, to put an end to all this. While his approach to the situation is most certainly wrong, given how she hasn't actually harmed him yet, he does have something of a good point in this line below, given what she's just done to Wasp:
    "Don't say that name! You don't deserve to say that name! You're not Elita-One, you mutant freak. Elita-One went off-line a long time ago."
    • The villain Meltdown's anti-robot crusade was due to robots taking manufacturing and service jobs from humans, in a city with the highest unemployment rates in the country.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: Rodimus Prime, in his first appearance he ends up getting afflicted with cosmic rust. This has satisfied some fans who don't like Rody.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks! - When Takara Tomy announced that they were tying Animated (well, their handling of the show) with the movie-verse, change in episode order and renaming Bulkhead to Ironhide (even though there was already an "Ironhide")... Well...it sure did help that the Japanese dub didn't turn out to have any major tie-ins with the movie-verse at all and had some awesome music by JAM Project. What actually ended up going on: change in episode order and Ironhide rename still happened, fans were also annoyed by cuts to the episodes made in favor of live action segments featuring the Ototbotto family. There were also various instances of Cultural Translation and some characterization changes made, like Bulkhe—uh, Ironhide becoming more of a simpleton than the original Bulkhead and Bayformer Ironhide ever were.
    • To say that some fans were not pleased when it was revealed that in this show's universe Optimus was not the Big Good of the Autobots but just a low level commander would be the understatement of the decade.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Team Athenia and Team Chaar open out season 3 with an epic battle, and never appear again, outside of cameos. This is especially egregious because they got considerable hype, appearing prominently in the transwarped debut trailer, and even had profiles published in the Magazine before the season aired. Perhaps they will do more in the comics.
    • Likewise, Blackarachnia in the Megatron Rising two-parter. All her appearance amounted to was creating a continuity error (e.g, she wanted to be fully mechanical again, which is what she already tried doing in her formal debut, but it wound up almost killing her; unless that's what she wants) and getting Sari to the Autobots faster to help them. One wonders if she was forced into those episodes.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • This is arguably what happened to Sari's upgrade, and her backstory in general. We never see the immediate fallout of her upgrade and near-overload, since she vanishes for four episodes afterwards, and we never find out how she got to Earth in the first place.
      • Blame Executive Meddling for that, they demanded that the human characters be shoved to the background to focus on the characters with toys for the third season, including Sari.
    • There are a lot of great plot threads that are still left hanging by the end; Wasp becoming Waspinator and Elita-1 having become Blackarachnia; the former could have allowed for some great character development from Bumblebee and the potential for him to mature.
  • Too Cool to Live: Prowl and Blurr. At least it seems that way for the latter. The comics reveal he was never actually killed and was given a new body later.
  • Toy Ship: Sari and Bumblebee, though some circles view them as being Like Brother and Sister.
  • Unexpected Character:
    • A few major ones (mainly, since it's not a Beast Wars-type series, nobody could have expected Blackarachnia in the main 'con lineup) but one standout among the "generic" bots. They're almost all based on G1 characters, some more obscure or from the Japan-only sequels, but then there's the Autotroopers (seen in Sentinel's propaganda video). They hail from the INCREDIBLY not-kid-friendly, not-brain-friendly Kiss Players Japanese radio series and its accompanying manga pages. (Their presence isn't what made it that way, but KP is just the last thing you'd expect a kids' show to make a Shout-Out to in any way.)
    • Waspinator being The Rival to Bumblebee and a normal-looking bot that is revealed to have gone crazy like his Beast Wars counterpart at the end of his debut episode... with his next episodes having him become just like the original Waspinator.
  • What an Idiot!: As awesome as the scene is, Megatron gets one when he supposedly kills Starscream, and has him thrown out like garbage. Starscream revives due to the Allspark fragment in his head, and proceeds to try to kill Megatron again.
    You'd Expect: Megatron if not immediately to realize after at most 2 subsequent deaths that Starscream returning from death is not just a fluke and to take Starscream's "dead" body and lock it up to try to figure out exactly why he keeps coming back from death over and over again, or at the very least just blast him into slag to make SURE he's dead.
    Instead: Montage ensues of Starscream attacking Megatron, Megatron effortlessly "killing" him, and throwing him out like garbage over and over again. Starscream himself gets his own What an Idiot! for continuing to blindly attack Megatron repeatedly before FINALLY realizing that a straight up attack is never going to work.


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