Jack saying he cares about Arcee because she was "his first" can be taken several ways he hopefully did not intend. This isn't helped when Jack's mother comments that Arcee "isn't the kind of girl I imagined him ditching me for".
D.N.G.S., specifically, how it's pronounced ("din-gus"), prompting the Youtube comment "Silas really wants Fowler's Dingus".
Is Starscream's horror and outrage over Megatron's death genuine? Or a ploy to gain support from the remaining Decepticon forces?
Likewise, when Starscream helped Megatron while his leader was battling Predaking, was it out of any genuine loyalty? Or was he afraid of being Predaking's next victim?
Was Knock Out's HeelFace Turn genuine or him just being pragmatic? There's evidence for both, though it ultimately appears to be genuine.
There's some debate about how much agency CYLAS had. Considering that Silas's agenda was to disassemble both Autobots and Decepticons and learn their secrets in addition to possessing an idea of human superiority. After "The Human Factor" he makes the decision to join the Decepticons, which even the episode preview called uncharacteristic. Either his speech to his soldiers before executing them was genuine, or there was some Decepticon influence left in Breakdown's body.
In Exodus, Megatron at one point states his belief that one day, Shockwave will turn on him. Though there are many discrepancies, if this particular bit is taken as canon, it would cast his leaving of a just-killed Megatron in the Season 3 finale in a different light.
Ass Pull: Several, most of them regarding plots that were quickly resolved.
After spending an entire season and a half screaming for Airachind's blood, Arcee suddenly goes back to Thou Shalt Not Kill and simply gets Airachnid locked in a stasis pod. Furthermore, Airachnid's Insecticon army is quickly integrated into the Decepticon ranks in the same episode they became a threat.
Despite Ratchet dramatically stating that he may never be fully functional again and an episode that was part Clip Show revolving around him (seemingly as a farewell to him), Bulkhead quickly recovers from his Game-Breaking Injury a few episodes later. Similarly, his resentment of newbie Smokescreen is introduced in one episode and gone the next.
In the season two premiere, Smokescreen returns to the Autobot base shortly after evacuating via Groundbridge, and finds the base destroyed. It shouldn't work this way at all: Smokescreen uses the same Groundbridge he had just used, meaning he should've returned before the blast hit, and ignores the fact that Ratchet had closed and opened the Groundbridge for his own use already. It's the mechanics of the show bending over backwards so that Smokescreen can go save Optimus.
Bumblebee and Megatron both being brought back to life despite the famous statement early on that All Deaths Final.
How was Raf always able to hack into government computers anyway?
Airachnid gaining the ability to control the minds of Insecticons comes out nowhere and is never explained or elaborated on and just feels more like a convinient way for her to acquire her own army.
Author's Saving Throw: A lot of fans were upset when Breakdown was killed off. The Japanese-exclusive comic series Unite Warriors takes strides to fix this. In the comic it's revealed that Breakdown's empty husk still continued to wander the Earth as an Energon-hungry zombie. This drew the attention of Unicron from another dimension, who resurrected Breakdown in a new body. After the events of the comic Breakdown returns to his own dimension and shares a joyful reunion with Knock Out.
Badass Decay: Starscream's badassness is at its apex (no pun intended) in the first season, possibly even the first episode which introduces him as a Hero Killer. It downplays greatly in later seasons, where his opportunistic tendencies are given more attention instead of any skill and cunning that he does actually possess.
Bumblebee gets a bit of this from time to time, as some fans feel (not entirely without reason) that he's more of a transplant of Movieverse 'Bee than a nuanced character in his own right for the sake of kid appeal, and the ungodly amount of merchandise revolving around him doesn't help this perception in the least. He did, however, lose a lot of detractors in Season 3 when he Took a Level in Badass, and was more or less Rescued from the Scrappy Heap entirely in "Deadlock" and Predacons Rising, where his awesomeness is taken Up to Eleven.
Airachnid. While there is a consensus that she is scary and that Gina Torres' performance is good, fans are split as to whether or not she's too much of an expy of Blackarachnia/Lockdown/Tarantulas, particularly when she charms an Insecticon, or controls it. To say nothing of her killing Breakdown or other potential Moral Event Horizon moments.
Of the three human children, the only one who seems to really divide the fandom is Miko. Particularly early on in the series, she shows a serious lack of survival instinct and willingness to jump into chaos. This may be an attempt to make her an Audience Surrogate, with her wanting adventure and loving giant robots, but many found it more like she's borderline detached from reality, giving no care for the danger she drags herself and others into. However, throughout season two (but particularly in the second half), Miko gets a little better in the survival instincts department (or at least, it seems that way) and while she still has her brash moments, her obnoxiousness has been toned down considerably. This Character Development has arguably improved her status amongst the fans.
Going off of that, Miko's behavior in "Out of the Past." Either she's acting out of a desperate, understandable fear for Bulkhead, or she's blown her last big chance for character development and once again learned nothing.
The opening theme. A strong, awesome beginning, or boring?
The new season three opening has caught some flak from above opening's fans.
Breakdown's death seems to have caused a significant deal of controversy among the fanbase, with some considering it a strong moment where the show took real risks and showed that Anyone Can Die while others felt that it just wasted one of their best characters for nothing.
After "Toxicity", you either wanted Bulkhead to die after so many near deaths or you didn't. Then summaries for "Hurt" leaked and the writers were either accused of following Status Quo Is God or praised for not killing Bulk off, though admittedly more wanted the former after feeling that it was a Writer Copout.
The second season. Depending on who you ask, it either wasted too many characters and plot threads, or successfully continued Growing the Beard from the first.
In that same vein, the Orion Pax arc is, to some, a massive heap of wasted potential. To others, though, it's considered one of the high points of the series.
Optimus's revival in "Rebellion" has divided the fanbase as to whether or not this is a good decision. But considering how often the franchise pulls this move, others have come to roll with it and expect it to keep happening.
The finale is a source of huge division amongst the fanbase. Both of them to an extent, with Deadlock being the big contender for controversy, and the movie receiving a bit of confused reactions for its ending.
The wiki, of course, lampshades this in its "Thirst" article, which is a big example of it: The events of "Armada", "The Human Factor", and "Stronger, Faster" receive payoff, the third particularly after the second season seemed to quietly ignore it.
"Yowza, this would be a tough episode to start watching the series."
Just to give you an idea, there are 65 episodes in the series proper. Of those episodes, every episode in some way builds upon the last, and contributes something for future episodes (even if the contributions are absurdly small).
Crazy Awesome: Vogel. Firmly believes in the existence of mole men and other subterranean monsters, and uses his sweeper train to run over Decepticons.
Ensemble Dark Horse: Almost any of the non-leader 'bots and 'cons seem to have their fair share of popularity. Exceptions appear to be Airachnid, Darksteel and Sky Lynx. The latter two aren't unpopular per say, they just didn't have much time for characterization.
Wheeljack got some popularity for being one of the most badass characters in the series and eventually got fleshed out as a roguish, but loyal cavalier. He ended up joining the main cast in the final season.
Knock Out almost immediately became a fan favorite for his entertaining, slightly camp behavior, slick and sexy design, and quirks. It's likely why he gets a HeelFace Turn in the Grand Finale.
Breakdown also became popular for his imposing design, respectful rivalry with Bulkhead, and several shades of Hidden Depths ranging from Benevolent Boss to the Vehicons to genuine Bash Brothers with Knock Out. His anticlimactic death early into Season 2 didn't sit well with many people, and is generally considered one of the show's low points.
Dreadwing due to his cool design, loving relationship with his twin brother Skyquake, his code of honor that ultimately leads him to have a Redemption Equals Death, and being the only Decepticon aside from Megatron to pose a genuine threat to Optimus. Like Breakdown, his sudden death and getting immediately forgotten was highly unpopular when it happened.
Cliffjumper, in spite of being killed off after having very little screen time. Points go to him not being a recolor of Bumblebee.
Vogel, who, despite only appearing in one episode, has proven himself to be one of the show's more memorable characters.
Shockwave, for his great redesign, and for taking traits from the G1 & Animated's genius intellect, and the Bayverse's incredible killing power. He gets plenty of badass moments along the way, especially when he teams up with fellow dark horse Soundwave. Plus, that voice.
Ultra Magnus for being voiced by Michael Ironside and having an awesome tag-team battle against Predaking with Wheeljack after the duo had their Character Development. Not to mention seeing him use a battle hammer (while his Animated incarnation mainly used it for Shock and Awe; Prime Magnus puts it to physical use, just like Animated Optimus, whose usage of it in a physical sense was also applauded), as well as being a Handicapped Badass when Predaking stomps his hand off.
Some small parts of the fandom from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic tried because they were angryPrime was nominated for the Emmies while their show wasn't. This backfired spectacularly as a majority of the Transfans and Brony communities get along very well, and ganged up on the transgressors.
Some fans of Transformers Animated are not very fond of Prime. Even some fans of both shows have taken sides.
Fan-Preferred Couple: By far the most popular slash pairing on the show is Knock Out/Breakdown, despite Breakdown having shown interest in Airachnid.
Oddly enough, on 4chan, the most popular pairing seems to be... Jack/Arcee.
When Starscream isn't paired up with Megatron (one of most popular pairings in the franchise) he is either paired up with Knockout or, for some fans, Steve the Vehicon.
Technically, Jack's crush is Sierra, who shows up in five episodes and only shows interest in Jack after he gets an awesome bike. Her interest ceases after Arcee (in black leather) picks him up in episode 27, and Jack doesn't exactly brood over it. Obviously, it's not developed because the target demographic (and most other viewers in fact) has zero interest in Jack's love life if it doesn't involve Transformers. So even though there's no solid basis, the preferred couple is Jack and Miko. However, Miko is only 15 at the start of the series and 17 at the end.
Fandom-Specific Plot: It's not uncommon to find plots which involve the human characters somehow being turned into Cybertronians, usually through MECH or Decepticon experimentation whether purposely or not. Perhaps not coincidentally, these also involve pairing Jack/Arcee, Miko/Bulkhead, and/or June/Optimus now that the cross-species barrier has been removed.
Fanfic Fuel: The fact that it's established at the beginning of the series that the Autobots have been active on Earth and secretly working with humans for some time opens up a lot of potential for fan fiction, such as what kind of missions the Autobots went on and if there are counterparts to the human allies of the previously established continuities (The Transformers, Transformers: Robots in Disguise, the Unicron Trilogy and Transformers Animated) in this iteration of the franchise.
Nothing needs to be said about Megatron and Optimus.
Bulkhead and Breakdown. Bulkhead even rescues Breakdown in one episode so they could have a rematch of their earlier fight. And Breakdown hesitates to fight after being rescued.
In "Tunnel Vision", Knock Out compliments Arcee on her "lovely features".
Airachnid's interactions with those she deems her "prey" have some creepy, creepy undertones. Her habit of stroking their cheeks with her razor-sharp claws before she gets to work does not help. The Japanese dub however takes "subtext" and turns it into just plain "text".
The first season was pretty experimental in what kind of stories they were going to tell. Some felt the 5 part mini-series opener was fantastic, others disliked it for being derivative of past Transformers stories. Nearly every episode will switch back and forth from horror undertones ("Scrapheap," "Predatory") to human-centric drama ("Convoy," "Speed Metal," "Crisscross") to MacGuffin chases ("Deus Ex Machina," "Metal Attraction"). Fans would pick and choose which style or which episode they liked the most, with no real consensus. The first episode that everyone agreed on that was fantastic was "One Shall Fall" and the following "One Shall Rise" three-parter, which delves into the overall mythology and doesn't pull any punches with some shocking plot developments.
Some fans think that the second season, with its darker tone, much larger amount of twists and turns, increased focus on Optimus's past, and the story's propensity for killing off likable characters left and right make it an improvement over Season 1. Other fans... disagree. See Seasonal Rot.
The Transformers Animated version of Ratchet had a spotlight episode on his past, which involved a friend called Arcee and their little debacle involving Lockdown, a bounty hunter who essentially murders Transformers and steals their body parts as trophies. In this series, it's Arcee's time to have war flashbacks, with a villain that largely has the same kinks, except while Ratchet had the mercy of having his friend survive, albeit with no memory, Arcee's lost two of her friends, her best friend Tailgate being murdered right in front of her.
"Out of the Past" gives us two nasty knocks at already sobering events.
In "Sick Mind", Arcee is hesitant to use the psychic patch due to it being an out of body experience, but we later learn that it might stem from when Shockwave used the patch on her to strip information from her mind.
Remember how much the death of Cliffjumper scarred Arcee at the beginning of the series? Well, it turns out that he's the one who helped Arcee come out of her shell after Tailgate's death, making his death an even bigger slap in the face for Arcee. Thank Primus she found Jack soon afterward. That poor Transformer might have truly sealed herself off after that.
Ratchet becomes much more friendly to Wheeljack after the events of "Triage"... until he learns about him taking Miko along with him to enact revenge in "Hurt". "New Recruit" has him incredibly pissed off when the crew suggests getting Wheeljack's help. Fortunately, by "Darkest Hour", Ratchet seems to have put that behind him, especially given the events leading up to the Season 2 finale.
In "Operation Bumblebee Part 1", after Bumblebee gets his T-Cog stolen by MECH, the Autobots state that it can't be Megatron because even he "wouldn't be such a ghoul". Come "Alpha; Omega", he proves that he is, by grave-robbing the right arm of a deceased Prime in order to use a device that only a Prime can wield. He's had that arm ever since, at least until Optimus lopped it off.
The Japanese toyline comes with Mini-Cons called Arms Microns, and the dub of the series has "Arms Micron Theater" segments where the heroes' weapons secretly take on their Mini-Con forms and have wacky adventures while the big bots aren't looking. In the one for "Metal Attraction," three Autobot Mini-Cons formed the Star Saber, and took on the three Decepticon Mini-Cons who formed the Star Saber's Evil Counterpart, the Dark Matter Calibur, but they cockily underestimated their opponents and were knocked apart into their component Min-Cons when the two swords clashed. A whole season later, in the actual show, an Infinity +1 Sword called the Star Saber was used by Optimus. Megatron forged its evil counterpart, the Dark Star Saber, from Dark Energon. It shattered the real Star Saber in their first fight with the swords.
In the episode "Crisscross", MECH and Airachnid find (and later kidnap) June through the internet, utilizing a method that one security consultant from the firm HB Gary, and then later the NSA, would be revealed to utilize themselves.
Silas: Ah, the mother lode. Airachnid: Government database? Silas: Social networking page.
One of Ratchet's lines from the episode "Sick Mind" got this hard when Predacons Rising rolled around.
Ratchet:I will not allow Optimus to pass knowing that Megatron will outlive him!
While fighting Shockwave, Ultra Magnus quips that he'd "rather have one good hand over one good eye any day." In the comics, an explanation given for why Shockwave has only one eye is because he was surgically mutilated in an attempt to torture him and ostracize him from society. Worse, Shockwave at one point threatens to make Starscream share that perception...
"Strong, Faster" shows Ratchet use of Synthetic Energon causing him to became an impulsive jerk, and by the end of the episode admits that he needed more testing. Much later in "Thirst" we learned from Knockout's testing that the more Synthetic Energon he used on a subject the faster they burned through it. Turns out the imitation of the Synthetic Energon was even more dangerous than the episode let on.
Heartwarming in Hindsight: Knock Out was hinted at being gay during the show's run, but given the Unfortunate Implications of a comment made at Botcon 2011, the show runners appeared hesitant to confirm him as gay. Several years later in The Transformers: Windblade, Knock Out is not only confirmed to be gay in the IDW-verse, but he's also got a Conjunx Endura in the form of a Prime-based Breakdown, who was always shipped with Knock Out during the show and was widely suspected to be more than friends with him. Now the two are an openly Official Couple, which is especially heartwarming given Breakdown's untimely death in season two.
In The Fairly OddParents, Timmy's dad was obsessed with a cool red car in "Engine Blocked". Now, he's voicing a Transformer who becomes one.
Don't forget that he wanted to beat his neighbor up with "Mighty Fighting Robot Action!", after modifying his car no less.
In "Darkness Rising Part 1", Bulkhead smashes something which Ratchet later identifies as a tool for analysis. He laments its damage, as he is unable to examine the Dark Energon that weakened Arcee. It being broken did more for him than it would have done intact: Optimus instantly identifies its animation as being down to Dark Energon, while Ratchet had earlier not known anything about it other than it being "highly concentrated to have affected Arcee so badly".
In "Out of the Past", Arcee mentions to Cliffjumper their objective requires stealth, not chatter, which is amusing given in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Cliffjumper was the test subject for experimental cloaking technology.
In "Metal Attraction", Arcee uses a device that strongly resembles an Omni-Tool from Mass Effect. Cue the Omega DLC in Mass Effect 3, and Arcee's voice actress Sumalee Montano now voices Nyreen Kandros, a character who uses an actual Omni-Tool.
Many in the fandom would make jokes about Megatron being part shark due to his razor sharp teeth and aggressive demeanor. His new beast hunters toy design takes this to the extreme.
In one of the Ask Megatron commercials, the big guy answers the question who is his favorite Autobot by saying his favorite is Bumblebee; the Autubot who gets to stab him dead in the last episode before Predacons Rising.
Getting offered the Matrix of Leadership may be Serious Business and too big a spoon for Smokescreen, but to viewers, the possibilty of him accepting is hilarious because of the awkward portmanteau names he could take (either "Smokimus" or "Screenimus" Prime).
"Partners" had Megatron chew out Airachnid for leaving Starscream with the Autobots since it could mean he could give them all the Decepticon's intelligence. He had no idea that Arcee attacking Starscream killed that possibility, but as turns out Airachnid's screw up would still cost the Decepticons thanks to Starscream occessional aid to the Autobots, which included giving up the location of the Decepticon space bridge, which helped the Autobots get Optimus' memories back.
With one line, Arcee added a new layer to Bulkhead and Wheeljack's relationship.
"So, who's the boyfriend?"
Shippers had a field day when Knock Out mentioned that Breakdown helped him out with buffing his body.
A villainous one for Knock Out. Hes surprised to see Breakdowns vital signs come back online and investigates, but is promptly treated to the sight of his former comrade being used as a puppet. Its quite clear that hes upset when he finds out its not actually Breakdown.
Thirst has a moment of this for Knock Out and Starscream. When holed up in Orion Pax's old lab aboard the Nemesis while hiding from Terrorcon Cylas, Starscream remarks to Knock Out that if this is indeed the end, he's proud to have served Lord Megatron with him. Knock Out replies that he's always admired Starscream's finish. Then there's an awkward, embarrassed pause.
Starscream: ...Well then.
Knock Out: Should be going.
Sierra tells Jack "Your mom (actually the female hologram Arcee uses in her motorcycle mode) looks good in leather."
They've hinted that Bulkhead may die so many times (only for him to recover) that parts of the fandom have this reaction, even citing it as something of a Running Gag. There's nothing to say that he won't die later in the series, however, and "Toxicity" was perhaps the exception, given how the three month cliffhanger had everyone on the edge of their seats.
Raf's encounter with Dark Energon. TF Prime is dark, but it would never break Improbable Infant Survival. Raf wouldn't have died, especially on screen.
Every time Prime himself was in a life-threatening situation. Given the legacy of almost every single Optimus dying and being ressurected in some form going against the promise that any character that died would stay dead (or at least not ressurected in a form that would be themselves, such as a zombie), many people wondered exactly how Optimus would survive these to continue the legacy. They eventually ended up playing with this three times; first by having Optimus lose his memory, thus effectively "dying" as a character but not actually dying, making his "ressurection" easy. The second time they actually did kill Optimus, when he was caught in the base's explosion at the end of season 2. However he stayed dead for all of about 3 seconds before the MacGuffin revived him. Then they inverted the whole thing and actually kept their promise by having Optimus merging his own spark with the Allspark, and then jumping into Primus, meaning he's about as dead as you can get at that point. Given that was the end of the series, he's not likely coming back.
Many fans had this reaction when there were rumors that Megatron would be Killed Off for Real... which just made it even more shocking when they actually went through with it. The finale film, however, ended up resurrecting him, and his existence continues.
Megatron crossed the the line prior to this series and just keeps on going. Aside from instigating the very war itself back on Cybertron, he developed a cybonic plague and a bioweapon out of toxic Energon, both of which wiped out most of the Autobots (and lord knows how many innocent Cybertronians) gradually turning the entire planet into what is essentially a graveyard. On present day Earth, he shoots Bumblebee with Dark Energon, nearly killing Raf in the process. While Megatron was unaware of Raf's presence at the time, his reaction later on establishes he has no problem inflicting off-world casualties. Finally, during the climax of the final battle in "Deadlock", he fires THREE shots at Bumblebee, completely burning through the poor scout's spark chamber. The absolute glee on his face is what seals the deal for Optimus, who you can tell has decided, Megatron must die!He also came dangerously close to finishing off Optimus as well, only for Bumblebee, who Came Back Strong, to impale his spark as poetic justice.
"Predatory" reveals that Airachnid crossed it millennia ago when she tortured Arcee and murdered Tailgate. Beyond that, we learn she's spent Primus-knows-how-many years hunting species and committing genocide. For fun. Whether this started before or after Tailgate's murder is unclear.
Silas crosses it when he works with Airachnid to kidnap June Darby and then shows he's willing to let Airachnid kill her and Jack, dismissing them as collateral damage.
In "Evolution", upon discovering Predaking's transformation, Megatron and his command staff plan the eradication of the newborn Predacon clones, before said clones are given the chance to turn on the depleted Decepticons. Starscream suggests they set it up so the Autobots would look entirely responsible and turn Predaking's anger towards them instead of his creators. Even Shockwave, the creator of the clones, is coldly in favor of the idea, though that's perfectly in keeping with his own nature: If an idea is logically sound (which Starscream's claim was), it's alright with him, be damned the morality of it.
Near the end of Predacons Rising, Bumblebee holds off Megatron with the Polarity Gauntlet long enough for Optimus to escape with the Allspark. What would have been a tense and suspenseful scene is rendered inept when the high-pitched, whirling sound of the Polarity Gauntlet and the lack of background music make the scene unintentionally hilarious. Knock Out and Smokescreen using the tense moment to quip doesn't help.
At times, Unicron's voice makes him sound nasal and like the kind of person who has to yell to be taken seriously, which can make some of the lines of this Satanic Archetype chuckle-worthy.
Megatron's tendency towards Fish Eyes make many of his scenes much funnier than intended. Even more so after being upgraded by Unicron where his face looks outright goofy.
Shockwave saying "logic" every once in a while would be fine, but it occurs so frequently that he turns into a self-parody.
No Problem with Licensed Games: In a rather nice change of pace for Transformers games on Nintendo systems (which has been an issue since as early as 1986 with Transformers: Convoy no Nazo' on the Famicom), the Wii, Wii U and 3DS spinoff game for Prime is regarded as a solid beat-em-up platformer with shooter elements, being generally intuitive and emulating the style of the show perfectly (though it helps that the writers, actors and composer for the show all worked on it).
Paranoia Fuel: Soundwave. In this series, he's a voiceless, faceless character, which is creepy enough, but Starscream and the other Decepticons are terrified of him, due to the fact that he always has the ship under subtle surveillance...and it's not always the ship he's on, as he's a Scout, meaning he spies on much more than his own subordinates. The smackdown Soundwave delivers to Airachnid in the first season finale all but justifies that paranoia.
A one off instance with MECH, who use Jack's social networking page to track him down and kidnap his mother. People from both government organisations and civilian life, normally stalkers, have been doing this for years.
Replacement Scrappy: Starscream rejoining Megatron at the end of season two and replacing Dreadwing, who was killed and immediately forgotten, as The Dragon was highly polarizing. While some were interested to see Megatron and Starscream's dynamic going forward, others were bewildered that Megatron would spare Starscream over Dreadwing, a far more loyal and overall competent soldier.
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Not a specific character, but a type of character: the humans. In fact, Silas, in "Convoy", proves that humans in this series can be as formidable and dangerous as any Cybertronian.
Smokescreen gained a lot of fans after some excellent Character development in Season 3.
A lot of people feel Bumblebee finally managed to escape his "Obligatory Movieverse Cash-In Expy" status in "Deadlock" and "Predacons Rising". Some fans insist he even manages to eclipse Movie!'Bee.
Seasonal Rot: The second season is considered the weakest of the three by a fair portion of the fanbase, with some outright hating it. Most of the seems to stem from killing off complex and/or interesting characters e.g. Breakdown and Dreadwing as well as wasted plot potentials like Bulkhead's injuries and various other plots that could have lasted longer. It also doesn't help that the second season made use of the tired treasure-hunting trope which plagued the Unicron Trilogy, where the heroes had to go hunting for the Omega Keys and generally go back-and-forth with the bad guys over a gimmick which had more than worn out its welcome from Transformers Armada to Transformers Cybertron.
Shocking Moments: The "One Shall Fall/Rise" season 1 finale practically embodies this. Then the last few episodes of season 2 promptly upstaged it. The series finale manages to top both by not only killing a fan favourite character, but also have it turn out that Prime wasn't the hero of this story.
Stoic Woobie: Optimus Prime. He doesn't show much emotion, and he's had a lot of bad stuff happen to him. According to Ratchet, every prime shoulders the burdens of those before him, and that Optimus was previously very much like Jack when he was Orion Pax. Poor Prime.
Suspiciously Similar Song: The score isn't done by the films' Steve Jablonsky, but is clearly meant to emulate it (as well as some elements of Hans Zimmer's and James Newton Howards' scores for the new Batman films).
It also sound quite a bit like the main theme of 2009's Star Trek.
Arcee: "Oh, well, if Miko thinks it's a good idea..."
Also in "Legacy" and "Chain of Command", where she becomes a literal chew toy in the latter episode.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: One of the key problems with this show's level of realism is that - as in real life - War Is Hell and soldiers can go down anti-climactically. The following characters can be considered to have unused potential.
Breakdown, Hardshell, and Dreadwing are the biggest examples.
There are those who think Cliffjumper, Skyquake, and Makeshift got royally screwed, as well. The deaths of the former two, at least, play into the development of some of the characters. Also, Makeshift was killed off because his Story-Breaker Power couldn't be utilized in this manner of show without Badass Decay.
Seaspray, a Wrecker acknowledged by Bulkhead and Wheeljack, had the potential to be a cool Adaptational Badass. Yet we only see ten seconds of his ship before Dreadwing blows it up — in a flashback. At least Tailgate showed up onscreen.
MECH had a bridge dropped on it before they could have a proper climax to their storyline. Usually the toy company is responsible for such things, but they did produce the potentially toyetic Nemesis Prime and CYLAS.
Raf, partly as a result of him becoming out of being Demoted to Extra. While Jack got to become an honorary Prime, assist Smokescreen in assimilating to Earth, and grow as a leader and Miko got to become a Wrecker and master the Apex Armor, Raf was relegated to only being called on to solve computer problems. This despite the tantalizing mystery of how he understood Bumblebee, his rivalry with Soundwave, and that he was one of the few people Ratchet was willing to open up to. Admittedly, the writers said they didn't know what to do with him.
On a similar note, Arcee, her struggles with her past traumas, and her rivalry with Airachnid got a lot of focus in season one, but she becomes significantly less prominent in the other two seasons, even as her partner Jack continued to play an important role. By the end of the series, she's practically a background character who does almost nothing of note.
Vehicon troops and especially miners were given some amount of personality at times, but not one of them was ever named or focused upon in what could have been a Lower-Deck Episode giving insights on what is to be a lowly grunt in Megatron's army. This is even more poignant when the Insecticons, who were introduced much later, did get a Mook Lieutenant with two episodes centered around him.
The Orion Pax arc to some. The show was hyped up as revolving around the theme of what it means to be a Prime, and when Optimus lost his memories, fans predicted that the rest of the show would deal with Orion re-learning to be a strong leader and Prime. However, at the end of the arc, Orion regains his memories, and the arc has absolutely no ramifications on Optimus' character.
The arc surrounding Bulkhead and his near fatal injuries in Toxicity, mainly to those who expected him to die after the second mid-season climax.
By the end of "Thirst", Airachnid is transported to one of Cybertron's moons and is revealed to have been infected with vampirism. Nothing becomes of this.
The whole premise of the third season, Beast Hunters, where both Autobots and Decepticons worked on finding Predacon fossils and possibly bringing them back to life, led the viewer to believe that both Autobots and Decepticons would add more animal-based Transformers to their ranks, quite possibly including the Dinobots themselves. Mid-to-late season, Megatron decides to destroy all the Predacons in Shockwave's lab out of fear of Predaking seizing power one day, pretty much assuring the viewer will never see another animal-based Transformer on the show besides Predaking and making the third season's title "Beast Hunters" completely meaningless. While it is true that the movie Predacons Rising added Darksteel and Skylynx, in addition to focusing on a revived undead Predacon army, the series was practically over by then and the third season still didn't really live up to the "Beast" aspect of its name.
One of the reasons Breakdown's death is widely cited as one of, if not THE, low points of the show is that it resulted in multiple cases of this; his history/rivalry with Bulkhead went unexplained, his owing a favor to Starscream was never followed up on, his Anti-Villainous traits that hinted at a possible redemption arc ended up being superfluous, and his attraction to Airachnid was sunk in the most brutal way possible.
Bumblebee gets introduced as a capable Kid-Appeal Character eager to earn his stripes. He is an agile scout who in the late first season starts employing sneaky tactics, such as pretending to fall victim to the Immobilizer, as opposed to the usual gung-ho approach. He is foreshadowed to use a phase displacement device and later finds and even accidentally uses one. However, the phase shifter, along with the role of The Sneaky Guy, went to the newcomer Smokescreen, another agile young bot, and so did the arc of being Optimus Prime's would-be successor. Bumblebee instead was moved Out of Focus and wasn't developed much in terms of character arc or fighting style, right until the end.
Arcee and Airachnid's rivalry gets dropped after the first season and is completely forgetton about for the rest of the series. Airachnid's final appearance on the show doesn't even feature Arcee at all.
Cliffjumper. Incredibly badass? More one-liners in a five-minute appearance than most of the other cast? Voiced by the biggest (non-voice actor) star on the show? Yeah, not going to make it. Sorry, CJ.
Skyquake and Makeshift don't make it out of theirs introductory episodes alive, bringing the total number of these to three in the first eight episodes.
Word of God even cites this trope as the reason Makeshift dies, explaining that he was going to be a recurring character but was deemed overpowered for a villain appearing so early in the series.
Unfortunate Implications: At 2011's Botcon, one of the speakers fielded a question as to whether or not Knock Out was gay. Their answer started out playful, noting Knock Out is a knockout, that the Nemesis has a strict "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Then they said that on the day Knock Out was born, there was a "glitch" in the Allspark. Yikes.
Unintentionally Sympathetic: Starscream: Though he's a jerk that loves hurting others, one can't help but pity him. Megatron treats him like garbage even though Starscream has taken care of his Decepticon army for 3 years. (Without them being detected by the Autobots we might add!) Then poor Starscream had a chance to redeem himself, but he foolishly sold himself out by revealing to Arcee he killed Cliffjumper aka her partner. Despite the first five episodes alone showing how much of a threat Starscream can be, he's gets treated by everyone (including the writers) as a universal punching bag. It doesn't help that the writers have exaggerated his cowardness more and more as the show goes on...
Viewer Gender Confusion: Several people thought that Soundwave was a she due to having a slender frame and high-heels like Starscream but never spoke, though the characters in-universe refer to him by masculine pronouns, and whenhetalks...
Visual Effects of Awesome: Face it, this series may have stylized character designs, and it might not be Industrial Light and Magic, but is it gorgeous to look at and thankfully averts most of the faults that most CG TV shows have (helped by the fact that the company hired for the series also did the CGI in The Sky Crawlers). Season 2 has been getting even better in terms of its backgrounds. While the backgrounds in Season 1 were still good, the Nemesis is given even more detail and there are new settings such as dockyards, prairies and even Manhattan at one point.
What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Even if it is strictly robot violence, most of the stuff they have here would have gotten a TV-14 rating if it were live-action. This is on top of covering of some themes- most notably drug abuse (by virtue of Synthetic Energon) and even suicide in Predacons Rising.
Hell, its even the first series where humans are heavily implied to have died off screen due to the shows events, with Silas being a notable exception, his death was there for all to see!
Cliffjumper, all the way. Being introduced as a fun, cool and thrill-loving figther, he suddenly gets slaughtered in the most brutal and gut-wrenching way you've ever seen an Autobot die before.
Raf. This is first showcased in "Darkness Rising, Part 4", after encountering a rather harrowing battle between the Autobots and Decepticons. While similar cartoons would have kids act like Miko, Raf acts very much like how a normal kid would have in that situation: scared, confused, and withdrawn. That's not even getting into what happens to him later in the season.
Bumblebee has his Woobie moments as well, particularly during the "Operation: Bumblebee" two-parter. Fans were calling for Silas's blood after viewing the teasers.
Miko becomes this during the arc surrounding Bulkhead's injuries in the second season.
During the second season, Smokescreen makes some pretty rash decisions and is only just grasping the fact that War Is Hell. That said, the way he is chewed out, particularly by Arcee, can come across as harsh considering he is a newcomer and is genuinely apologetic for his mistakes.
Optimus had a brief moment during "Operation Bumblebee, Part 1" where Megatron taunts him for helping the Decepticon cause when Megatron had earlier taken advantage of Optimus's amnesia to find the locations of potential weapons scattered around Earth. His guilty expression as Megatron thanks him is enough to tug at the heartstrings.
Despite his extremeDraco in Leather Pants status in the fandom, Starscream of all people is this to a certain extent. Megatron is fairly abusive to the Seeker and much of his fears are actually pretty justified. For instance, when Megatron is trapped in a collapsed mine, he rightly realizes that Megatron would simply blame him for the matter, no matter what would happen. It may very well be that a lot of his behavior is simply based off a combination of "What would Megatron do?" and survival.
While Knock Out had also been the subject of Draco in Leather Pants for some time, he truly earns this status in "The Human Factor" when he imagines he'll see Breakdown again, only to find Silas gloating while merged with his best friend's corpse.
In Predacons Rising, freaking Megatron of all people becomes this owing to his torture.
Dreadwing falls into this when he finds his brother's corpse has been desecrated through his resurrection as a Dark Energon zombie, but can't do anything about it because Megatron just tells Starscream to keep quiet about it. That finally spurs Dreadwing to turn against Starscream in a fit of rage that ends with Megatron blasting a huge honking hole in the Decepticon before he can strike a killing blow and Dreadwing joining his brother in death.