This write-up is primarily concerned with the original Transformers 1980's cartoon show, commonly referred to now as "Generation One," or "G1" or "Gen1" for short.

With no exceptions I can recall, the Transformers were all either Autobot or Decepticon. The Autobots were the protagonists and the Decepticons were the antagonists of the series, and they came from the planet Cyberton, but most of them crash-landed to Earth. As with numerous other action-packed kids' cartoons they were grouped nicely into the "good guys" and the "bad guys." Good versus evil. Examples of Autobots behaving slightly bad or Decepticons slightly good were exceedingly rare. Skyfire was a Decepticon at first, but switched sides to be an Autobot. And sometimes the two sides would join forces only to defeat or fight a common enemy - a good example of this would be the Quintessons. Other than that, it was Autobots fighting Decepticons most of the time, with humans getting in the mix, almost always fighting with or for the Autobots. Most of the characters were fairly one-dimensional, the most developed of them for obvious reasons would be their leaders, Optimus Prime and Megatron. (After the movie they were lead by Rodimus Prime, who was kind of a moron, and Galvatron, who was kind of insane.) I actually found Megatron to be more interesting than Optimus: sure he was diabolical and evil, but often a pragmatist and sometimes you got the sense that he wasn't being evil just to be evil; he was very goal-oriented (power) and set about to accomplish his goals. He was sociopathic, not psychopathic, like Galvatron was - the later form of Megatron after he'd stewed too long in molten lava on the planet Thrull.

I of course realize this was only fiction and it was designed to be simplistic and more about the action like most animated children's shows of the time. But I have wondered from time to time, "Why aren't there any Transformers who aren't fighters - who aren't defined by their weapons or what special fighting abilities they had?" In other words, were there any "civilian" Transformers? It seemed that all Transformers were either Decepticon or Autobot, and all the Ds had to live at the Decepticon "base" and all the As had to live at the Autobot "base." And when Decepticons were stirring up trouble, when Optimus Prime called for them to "Transform and roll out!" often he meant all of them (or all of them who were in the vicinity at the time). The Autobot Beachcomber was a noted pacifist but even he had a weapon and sometimes fought. Now, if you imagine the Transformers as a race of intelligent beings and not just a bunch of talking, violent robots animated to sell toys, it's quite disturbing that every single member of the race should swear allegiance to one side or the other - Autobot or Decepticon - and can always be called upon to fight in battles or wars for one side or the other. Or, mandatory service for the armed forces... for life.

Now, occasionally in the series, there were vague references to the existence of possibly scores of other Transformers that weren't featured in the cartoon (whom no toys were made for). Thousands, maybe? Millions, maybe? Once while Decepticons were on a planet - that was not Cybertron - looking for an energy source (quests for which occupied most of their time), they discovered in ancient times it was occupied by Autobots. Starscream tried to read some writing written on a door and talked about it being written in "ancient Autobot." This indicated that there were a lot more Transformers out there, and not always living on or even from Cyberton (a concept that, sadly, was not explored much further and completely forgotten about later). In 2005, the time Transformers: The Movie took place, the narrator at the beginning informed us that the Decepticons had completely taken over Cybertron, implying that all the Autobots were run off the entire planet and forced to live on one of the two moons. And during Unicron's attack on Cyberton near the end of the film, hundreds if not housands of Decepticons were seen fleeing and/or preparing to fight the grave threat to their planet. How many unknown and unnamed Decepticons were killed when Unicron started smashing it up? How many unnamed and unknown Autobots were killed when Unicron had eaten the moons earlier? Only primary characters were seen trying - and ultimately failing - to escape. When Jazz and Cliffjumper hopped onto a shuttle to get away, they didn't wait for any others to get on board. Really? Same with Bumblebee and Spike (who was actually a human character in an exosuit) on the other moon. Were they seriously the only occupants of the two moons at the time (three Autobots and one human)?

Well, the answer is: they weren't! And that's not just speculation, the movie actually admits this later, as many Autobots are seen perishing inside Unicron, the poor bastards being tossed into his molten digestive juices. (It's assumed that many Autobots who's deaths weren't featured on-screen, but who were never seen again after the movie - died there.)

So were any of those Autobots civilians? How many thousands or millions were killed? This indicates a much greater tragedy happened during Unicron's attack on the Cybertronian system than was initially implied. Were there any "average Joe" Transformers ever on Cyberton or the moons? At any time? Did they live in Cybertronian "houses?" Did they commute to work (how convenient that you'd never have to buy a vehicle to get there) and have jobs that didn't involve fighting in some way? Were there "good" citizens (Autobots) who always obeyed all the traffic laws, donated to charity, and always paid their taxes? And were there "bad" citizens (Decepticons) who were asshole neighbors, flew through stop signs, and blared loud music from their houses at all hours of the night? Were there Autobots fighting - only with their words - for justice and freedom - while there were Decepticons who were loud-mouthed talking heads or politicians working against social justice, using words, not energy canons?

Perhaps not. As bleak a concept as it is, the entire planet Cyberton was at one time engaged in the Autobot vs. Decepticon war, damaging everything and causing it to be nearly totally abandoned. I guess in that situation, there would be very few - if any - civilians. In a universe where everything is just all good and evil (or just two sides of a conflict) with few shades of grey, constant war might be the result, with nearly everybody fighting and dying in that war.

What a depressing thought.

One early glimpse into comtemporary life on Cybertron was revealed in The Transformers #17: Return To Cybertron, part 1, published in 1986. In this two-part episode, the Decepticon forces on Cybertron are engaged in building a bridge which would employ some unspecified advanced science to span the cosmos between Cybertron and Earth. The purpose of this bridge was to reinforce the earthly Decepticon forces led by Megatron. Notably, this was a space bridge, not a time bridge. As the Transformers story line took place in present day 1986, readers got a glimpse into the affairs of contemporary Cybertron.

As one would suspect of a world ravaged by millennia of warfare, the infrastructure of Cybertron appeared to be in shambles. This episode begins with two robots, on foot amidst the ruins, fleeing from a flying Decepticon pursuer. These poor wretched looking specimens were dispatched with an energy blast and their bodies subsequently collected by a cruder machine. These two victims bore no Autobot or Decepticon insignias, so it would appear that these two were civilian non-combatants. Gruesomely, it was then revealed that the purpose of the assault upon these two civilians was to collect their bodies to be recycled in a giant smelting pool!

This smelting pool appeared to be the only enterprise of any kind in this episode. It also suggests that the raw materials on Cybertron had been so depleted that the Decepticons had to resort to a sort of industrial cannibalism to construct their space bridge. This savage operation was supervised by the imposing figure of the Decepticon Lord Straxus. Readers were introduced to this Straxus as he held an audience before two different cowering and diminutive robots. Again these appeared to be civilian non-combatants, begging for mercy for their lives. Governor Straxus explained that there was, "no mercy dispensed here, ONLY DEATH," as he clove these wretches in two with an energized axe.

What of the Autobots in this grim contemporary account of Cybertron? An underground Autobot enclave was located somewhere within Straxus's governorship comprised of a small yet sturdy band of Autobot warriors. The storyline of Transformers #17 included the capture of an Autobot spy named Scrounge, friend of one Autobot named Blaster. The Autobots traveled to a particularly destitute neighborhood to gain information about their captured comrade from the wasterels residing there. These poor creatures, with their missing limbs and exposed circuitry, begged the Autobots for fuel. They were clearly starving, indicating that the economy on Cybertron was in a deplorable state of idleness and unemployment. Basic public services seemed to be altogether non-existent. The Autobot called Cosmos gave one "old-timer" a beaker full of fuel to charge his memory circuits. Obviously, these robotic mendicants relied entirely upon the charity of others.

The "old-timer's" intelligence led Blaster, Cosmos and their team of Autobots to the Decepticon Smelting Pit, where they discovered Scrounge, and dozens of other poor wretched citizens in the process of being melted down alive! This evidence presented in Transformers #17 proved that there was contemporary citizenry on Cybertron, but their lives were defined as living nearly entirely without sustenance, scrabbling for day-to-day survival in the shadows of a merciless reign of terror.

Budianski, Bud (w) Perlin, Don (p) Williams, Keith (i) The Transformers #17: Return to Cybertron, part 1. Marvel Comics June, 1986.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.