The Transformers cartoon debuted in 1984 to a massively positive reception by children who couldn't wait to buy the toys featured in this new and exciting show. The stars were robots, and not just any robots, transforming robots, which are twice as cool. As the theme song indicated, the heroic Autobots waged their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons, but they escaped every time because they could fly and the Autobots couldn't. Generally. Depending on who wrote that episode and how carefully he followed the series bible.

Hasbro's toys sold well... very well. So the 30-minute commercial continued on to season two in 1985 (still set in the then-present day of 1985) and then a movie set in 2005, and a third season in 1986 set in 2006. By that point, unfortunately, the writing quality had started to degrade and the toys were starting to get much more cheaply made. The Wheelie toy, for example, didn't so much transform, it sort of just stood up.

And so kids eventually got tired of the Transformers and their degrading quality and moved on to Thundercats or Silverhawks, and later the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But for many, the Transformers hold a special place in our memories as the toy series that spawned the transforming truck robot Optimus Prime and the transforming gun robot Megatron (who would never make it past toy safety standards just a few years later).

Season 1

Season 1 of The Transformers was defined by the Decepticons' attempts to collect enough energy to return to Cyberton, and the Autobots trying to stop them. Coloring errors abound, due to the identical nature of the seeker jets, resulting in problems like multiple instances of Starscream in the same frame and a variable number of Reflector component robots running around. The Decepticons were outnumbered but, being designed for war, consistently more powerful than the Autobots until the Dinobots were added halfway through the season, tilting the balance in the Autobots' favor. The Constructicons were added in the final episode.

  1. More Than Meets the Eye: Part 1/3

    Four million years ago, the Autobots and Decepticons are warring on Cybertron. The war has lasted for thousands of years and Cybertron is running low on energy resources. The Autobots load up into a spaceship called the Ark, and head out to find new energy resources to continue the fight. The Decepticons follow aboard their own ship, and board the Ark to stop the Autobots. The ships both crash on Earth, and after 4 million years they are finally re-activated in the present day of 1984. Teletraan-1's repair droid fits them with new transformation modes based on Earth objects to replace their old Cybertronian ones. Before leaving Cybertron, Megatron instructed Shockwave to keep the place exactly the way it is until he gets back, and the extremely loyal and apparently very patient lieutenant does so for the intervening 4 million years.

  2. More Than Meets the Eye: Part 2/3

    The Decepticons attack an offshore oil rig to gather energy, but the Autobots arrive to stop them, and meet Sparkplug and Spike Witwicky, who will become their human companions to help them understand Earth and provide perennial damsel-in-distress scenarios when they get captured by the Decepticons in every third episode.

  3. More Than Meets the Eye: Part 3/3

    The Decepticons have managed to gather enough energy to return to Cybertron and rule it forever, and construct a new spaceship to return there. The Autobots are unable to prevent the ship from taking off, but Mirage, using his power of invisibility, sneaks on board before launch and sabotages the controls, making it crash in the ocean. The sunken ship then becomes the Decepticon base of operations for Seasons 1 and 2.

  4. Transport to Oblivion

    We're introduced to the concept of the Decepticon Space Bridge, a transporter that will allow the Decepticons to transport energon cubes to Cybertron, but it needs a sentient being on-board to keep the transport on track. A captured Bumblebee is volunteered to test pilot.

  5. Roll For It

    Introducing wheelchair-bound computer genius Chip Chase, the Decepticons obtain an antimatter formula that makes them incredibly powerful, but the antimatter fuel ultimately proves too unstable to be practical.

  6. Divide and Conquer

    Optimus Prime is damaged in battle, and the parts needed to repair him can only be found on Cybertron, marking the first Autobot return to Cyberton in the series. Shockwave is shown to be incredibly incompetent at preventing unauthorized access to the Space Bridge, which is fortunate for the Autobots as they sneak past him time and time again over the course of Seasons 1 and 2.

  7. Fire in the Sky

    Skyfire (Jetfire) joins the Decepticons, then the Autobots, then promptly vanishes from continuity unless he's needed for transportation. Stupid ambiguous copyright issues.

  8. S.O.S. Dinobots

    The Autobots find dinosaur fossils buried in their volcano base and are inspired to build dinosaur transformers to bolster their ranks. They turn out to be incredibly powerful but incredibly dumb, and Optimus Prime orders them shut down permanently, despite Wheeljack's insistence that he can make them smart enough to follow orders. Fortunately for Hasbro's toy sales, the Autobots are captured and only the Dinobots can save them, proving their value. They are thereafter apparently kept in a storage closet until the Autobots need more firepower.

  9. Fire on the Mountain

    Skyfire is rescued from his icy tomb to transport the Autobots to Peru where the Decepticons have discovered a power source for a powerful artillery weapon in an ancient Incan temple. Regardless of the fact that the weapon cannot be moved away from the stationary power source in the middle of nowhere, the Autobots decide to stop them.

  10. War of the Dinobots

    Impressed that the Dinobots are learning to follow orders, Optimus Prime has two more built. Meanwhile, Megatron inspires the original Dinobots to rebel against the Autobots because they are obviously more powerful and therefore superior. When they beat Optimus Prime senseless, but he shows compassion and forgiveness, Grimlock understands the Autobots are the good guys and rejoins the team.

  11. The Ultimate Doom: Part 1/3

    The Decepticons team up with mad scientist Dr. Arkeville (no, I didn't make that name up) to enslave humanity with hypno-chips to build device to pull Cybertron into orbit around Earth.

  12. The Ultimate Doom: Part 2/3

    A massive artificial planet in orbit around Earth has a tendency to do strange things with tidal forces and atmospheric disturbances, and the Decepticons use the natural disasters to collect energy to bring to Cybertron.

  13. The Ultimate Doom: Part 3/3

    The Autobots manage to reverse the effects of the hypno-chips and free the slaves, but the Decepticons are on their way to bring the energon to Cybertron. The Autobots manage to detonate the cache of energon cubes, which pushes Cybertron back away from the Earth and stops the natural disasters.

  14. Countdown to Extinction

    Starscream escapes The Ultimate Doom with Dr. Arkeville and plans to use Arkeville's ultimate invention, the exponential generator, to destroy the Earth. Megatron and Optimus Prime form an uneasy alliance to stop him.

  15. A Plague of Insecticons

    It a creative bit of retconning, Megatron discovers that a few Decepticons didn't crash with the Ark, and became the Insecticons. They initially follow Megatron's orders, but later decide that they were being used and rebel, creating a massive army of Insecticon clones from scrap metal (an ability used a few more times in the series, and presumably the basis for the variable number of Sweeps in Season 3, since the Insecticons were recycled by Unicron to create them). The Insecticons re-join the Decepticon ranks from time to time but they are always revealed to have no loyalty to each other.

  16. Heavy Metal War

    In the season one finale, Heavy Metal War introduces the Constructicons, who build a machine that can transfer the special powers of all the Decepticons to Megatron, allowing him to cheat in a one-on-one duel with Optimus Prime with the loser's army being banished from Earth forever. Meanwhile the Constructicons attempt to sabatoge Teletraan-1 so the Autobots can't detect Megatron's cheating, but are caught by the Dinobots, who stayed behind. This episode of course also includes Devastator's first appearance.

Season 2

In season 2, a surprising number of Decepticon power-stealing schemes could have potentially destroyed the Earth. Massive numbers of new robots are introduced, including the new gestalt teams. There are many more episodes in this season than in season 1, and some of them are really just "filler" episodes without much effect on the rest of the series. About halfway through the writing quality tends to degrade a bit. Unexpectedly, the best episodes are the ones that are intended to introduce a new toy for sale. Otherwise season 2 was basically little more than a continuation of season 1.

  1. Autobot Spike

    Frankenstein re-imagined with robots.

  2. Changing Gears

    The Decepticons need a circuit from Gears' personality module which changes him from grumpy to pleasant. For some reason the Autobots decide to return him to normal.

  3. City of Steel

    Megatron and the Constructicons plot to transform New York City into New Cybertron, with defenses built using parts from Optimus Prime.

  4. Attack of the Autobots

    Megatron sabotages the Autobots' recharging chambers to turn them into Decepticon slaves. Wheeljack, Bumblebee, and Sparkplug need to find a way to reverse the effects before the enslaved Autobots capture the designs for a solar power collecting satellite.

  5. Traitor

    Cliffjumper becomes convinced that Mirage is a Decepticon agent, and is nearly proven correct when Bombshell's cerebro-shells brainwash him to lead the Autobots into a trap.

  6. The Immobilizer

    Resident mad scientist Wheeljack designs a weapon called The Immobilizer which can freeze anything in suspended animation, which the Decipticons of course promptly steal. Introduction of Spike's love interest Carly, who he marries sometime between seasons 2 and 3.

  7. The Autobot Run

    The Autobots agree to take part in a race for charity, but Megatron unveils his latest weapon, a ray that prevents Transformers from returning to robot mode. Wheeljack, Ratchet, and Sparkplug have to find a way to reverse the effects before the Autobots, almost helpless in vehicle mode with flat tires, are executed by the Decepticons.

  8. Atlantis, Arise!

    Megatron teams up with the king of Altantica to take over the surface world, and of course they plan on betraying each other. Notable for a scene where Megatron sits in the Lincoln Memorial.

  9. Day of the Machines

    Megatron hacks into a supercomputer called TORQ III that allows him to remotely control machines anywhere in the world simply by sticking computer chips onto them. Skyfire is sort of in this episode. This episode and Atlantis, Arise! both showcase the Dinobots doing what they do best: brute force destruction on a massive scale.

  10. Enter the Nightbird

    Those wacky Japanese go and build a female robot ninja, which Megatron steals, reprograms, and falls in love with.

  11. A Prime Problem

    Megatron finds a cave of unstable energy crystals that look like a source of great power, but actually destroy any robot that touches them. He creates a clone of Optimus Prime to lead the Autobots to the crystals to destroy them, and confusion abounds when the real Optimus Prime shows up. When clone Optimus Prime destroys a clone of Starscream, the Autobots decide he's the real McCoy until he places priority on collecting the crystals over saving Spike.

  12. The Core

    Megatron and the Constructicons plan to drill all the way down to the Earth's core to supply them with a limitless source of energy, but things get complicated when they accidentally crack the Earth open and Devastator runs amok. 10 times better than the movie The Core.

  13. The Insecticon Syndrome

    Megatron offers the Insecticons a massive power supply in exchange for helping him steal data from a research institute. The Insecticons promptly go mad with power, and Bombshell uses his cerebro-shells to take over all of Megatron's troops, forcing him to team up with Optimus Prime to defeat the Insecticons.

  14. Dinobot Island: Part 1/2

    The Dinobots are exiled to a remote island where dinosaurs still live in order to train themselves in an area where they can't break anything important, but the Decepticons follow them and discover Dinobot Island is rich in natural energy sources for them to plunder.

  15. Dinobot Island: Part 2/2

    The Decepticon plan to plunder Dinobot island's resources results in time distortions that let barbarians, pirates, and cowboys into the present. When the Autobots race to Dinobot Island to stop them, they find the Dinobots have learned how to control their enormous power and let them back to the Ark.

  16. The Master Builders

    Hoist and Grapple design a solar tower that could produce gigawatts of power, but Optimus Prime decides not to let them build it because it could fall into the hands of the Decepticons. When the Constructicons convince them that they've left the Decepticons, Hoist and Grapple agree to help them build it behind Optimus Prime's back. Of course, it's all a trick, and the Autobots must race to save the day before the Decepticons use the tower for their own purposes.

  17. Auto Berserk

    Red Alert takes damage in a battle and becomes a paranoid schizophrenic, teaming up with Starscream, who convinces him that he's the only one he can trust. Yeah, I'm still working out how insane you'd have to be to trust Starscream. Anyway Starscream needs his help to capture a powerful Autobot tank called the Negavator, which has the bizarre power to seat the 6' tall Rumble and the 25' tall Hoist in equal comfort. Then again, Hoist has also been seen riding in the 8' tall Huffer's truck cab mode, so maybe that's Hoist's power.

  18. Microbots

    Brawn bullies Perceptor because he stays behind at base doing research and repair work while the others go fight. Meanwhile Megatron finds a source of immense power in the crashed remains of his 4 million year old ship and becomes invincible. Perceptor leads Brawn and some other Autobots inside Megatron's body using a shrink ray in a Fantastic Voyage-like adventure, and Brawn learns how important Perceptor's job really is.

  19. Megatron's Master Plan: Part 1/2

    Megatron proves there is such a thing as bad publicity when he uses doctored video footage, special effects, and costumes to make humans think the Autobots are the bad guys. The Autobots are put on trial and sent away from Earth on a spaceship, but Megatron alters the ship's course to head directly into the Sun.

  20. Megatron's Master Plan: Part 2/2

    With the Autobots gone, Megatron enslaves the human race and forces them to collect energy. Spike manages to find proof the videos were faked but too late, and Chip Chase manages to escape long enough to free the Autobot ship from its collision course with the Sun. The Autobots manage to return to Earth and save humanity.

  21. Desertion of the Dinobots: Part 1/2

    After taking damage in a battle with the Decepticons, the Dinobots decide they don't want to take orders from the Autobots anymore and desert. Soon after, however, both the Autobots and Decepticons start to malfunction because a rare element used in their construction is degrading, and it can only be found on Cybertron. Since the Dinobots were built on Earth, they are not affected, so Spike and Carly head out to find them.

  22. Desertion of the Dinobots: Part 2/2

    The Dinobots head to Cybertron to try to collect more of the element to save the Autobots, but are captured by a massive swarm of Shockwave's sentinel drones. Only Swoop escapes, and manages to find Spike and Carly. The three of them save the other Dinobots and return to Earth in time to repair the Autobots. This was a Swoop-heavy episode, which must have been torture on his voice actor's throat, if you've ever heard Swoop talk.

  23. Blaster Blues

    Megatron needs to stop and consider the logic behind his demands sometimes. In this episode, he disrupts all radio communications on Earth, using Blaster and Cosmos as a transmitter and power source, and will only return communications control if Earth surrenders all its energy to him. Think about this for a second, Megatron.

  24. A Decepticon Raider in King Arthur's Court

    Warpath, Hoist, and Spike follow Starscream, Ramjet, Ravage, and Rumble through a time portal into the year 543 where, instead of heading out and finding the crashed Ark which has been sitting there with all the damaged Transformers for the past 3,998,558 years, Starscream decides to subjugate the primitive past and collect Earth's as-yet-unexploited energy resources.

  25. The Golden Lagoon

    Beachcomber discovers a pool of electrum in a Garden of Eden-like paradise, which makes robots invulnerable when coated with it. The Decepticons find it and use it to hold a rave party, and also gain the upper hand against the Autobots, who retaliate by using it themselves. The resulting battle destroys the paradise and we all learn a valuable lesson about war.

  26. The God Gambit

    Astrotrain and some other Decepticons land on a primitive alien planet while chasing Cosmos (who by now appears to be the Autobot's version of a damsel in distress), and take over the planet's cult religion to force the natives to collect energy for them from a forbidden cave full of unstable energy crystals, but when a rebellious native manages to fix Cosmos' radio, the Autobots come to the rescue with Omega Supreme.

  27. Make Tracks

    Tracks befriends a street punk named Raoul while investigating a sudden rash of car thefts in New York, which turn out to be a Decepticon plot to build an army of completely ineffectual semi-intelligent transforming drone robots.

  28. Child's Play

    The episode that dares to ask, what if the Transformers were the size of a child's toys? I have no idea where they found the inspiration for such a bizarre concept.

  29. Quest for Survival

    Carnivorous robot plants from OUTER SPACE! Also, Cosmos has to be rescued again.

  30. The Secret of Omega Supreme

    Omega Supreme reveals his past association with the Constructicons in an episode with so many continuity problems it's best ignored entirely. Notable for two fights between Omega Supreme and Devastator, but neither one is satisfying.

  31. The Gambler

    In a sequel to Child's Play, the Autobots are captured by an alien with a gambling obsession, and only Smokescreen manages to escape his trap. Smokescreen agrees to help the gambler in exchange for the return of the other Autobots but they lose them to a mob boss working for the Decepticons when they can't pay up in time. They are eventually rescued by a dark and mysterious way-cool bounty hunter who was too awesome not to have been awkwardly shoehorned into the episode.

  32. Kremzeek!

    Megatron accidentally creates a cute little energy-based gremlin that wrecks havok on any electrical system it jumps into, and the Autobots trail it to Japan to stop it.

  33. Sea Change

    Cosmos, Seaspray (the Autobot's very own Aquaman), and some other Autobots answer a distress call on an alien planet to discover an alien race subjugated by a robot built by the Decepticons. They help the aliens stage a rebellion with the help of the Well of Transformation, a mystical pool of water that lets people take any form they want. Seaspray falls in love with a woman who uses the well to become a female robot that transforms into a gondola. Seriously.

  34. Triple Takeover

    Blitzwing and Astrotrain decide to take over the Decepticons, and get Megatron out of the way by freezing him with "absolute zero molecules". While Astrotrain attempts to build an army of intelligent commuter trains, Blitzwing takes military advice from a college football coach and uses the Constructicons to build the world's most deadly cloverleaf interchange.

  35. Prime Target

    Optimus Prime is the target of a big-game hunter's latest trophy hunting obsession in an episode filled with traps and double-crosses.

  36. Auto-Bop

    Soundwave and Starscream use ultrasonic waves to hypnotize clubgoers to build a skyscraper. Why? I don't know. But the episode's climactic finish is the fan-pleasing and long time coming duel between Soundwave and Blaster. Raoul from Make Tracks makes a second appearance.

  37. The Search for Alpha Trion

    This is what happens when you let a fangirl write an episode.

  38. The Girl Who Loved Powerglide

    Powerglide saves a rich heiress from the Decepticons, who promptly falls in love with him despite his horrible physically and emotionally abusive reaction to her. Seriously he literally throws her off of him and onto the street at one point, and she keeps coming back.

  39. Hoist Goes Hollywood

    When Hoist is noticed by a Hollywood director, the Autobots want to become movie stars. Meanwhile the Decepticons try to discover what one of Wheeljack's inventions, which he left on Cybertron, does. The two plots collide when the director catches the Decepticons on camera with the device, and Megatron wants to destroy the film.

  40. The Key to Vector Sigma: Part 1/2

    After the Autobots prove that ground-attack jets are no match for civilian cars without surface-to-air combat capability, Megatron orders Rumble (being roughly human-sized) to steal four cars and a truck to turn them into the Stunticons. But he needs a circuit key from Alpha Trion to activate the ancient supercomputer Vector Sigma to give the Stunticons personalities. The Dinobots were apparently simple enough to skip this step.

  41. The Key to Vector Sigma: Part 2/2

    When Megatron takes the Key to Vector Sigma back with him to Earth, Alpha Trion sacrifices himself to activate Vector Sigma one more time to allow the Autobots to build the Aerialbots. They follow Megatron back to Earth to destroy the Key to Vector Sigma, which is also a powerful weapon. The Stunticons reveal they can combine into the gestalt Menasor, but the Aerialbots can also combine, into Superion. When Omega Supreme joins the battle, Menasor is defeated and the Key to Vector Sigma is destroyed.

  42. Aerial Assault

    Megatron is stealing parts from airplanes to build an army of fighter drones. Two of the Aerialbots disguise themselves as regular planes to find out what's going on. Additionally, Megatron has for some reason also built a gryphon-shaped flying tank. The Aerialbots effortlessly destroy both the drones and the gryphon, so that was kind of a waste of effort. The Combaticons form Bruticus to battle Superion four episodes before they're even built, which is impressive by any measure.

  43. War Dawn

    The Aerialbots, being new, wonder just what is so evil about the Decepticons, and find out when Starscream tricks them onto a time-traveling platform that sends them 9 million years into the past. There (then?), they meet a very young Alpha Trion, who rebuilds a dock worker named Orion Pax into Optimus Prime when the Decepticons start the Great War that marks the end of the Golden Age of Cybertron. He also rebuilds Pax's girlfriend Ariel into Elita One.
    This episode seems to be the source of some confusion. In The Search for Alpha Trion, it is revealed that Alpha Trion built Optimus Prime. Some people have taken this to mean that since Alpha Trion built both Optimus Prime and Elita One, they're technically siblings, if that means anything to robots. However Optimus Prime doubtlessly remembers that Alpha Trion rebuilt him into his current incarnation, so his surprise in Search must have been the revelation that Trion originally built Orion Pax. There is no reason to believe he also built Ariel.

  44. Trans-Europe Express

    Megatron arranges a race from Paris to Istanbul to attract the attention of a hotshot driver with an experimental car engine made of a special alloy. The Stunticons capture his car to get the engine to use the alloy to build a housing for a powerful weather-controlling weapon which was lost when they crashed on Earth 4 million years ago. Bumblebee saves the day when he steals the weapon from right out of Megatron's hands, turns it against the Decepticons, and then destroys it.

  45. Cosmic Rust

    Megatron is infected with Cosmic Rust, a metal-eating germ, while investigating an ancient Autobot planet, abandoned under mysterious circumstances (hint: the Cosmic Rust killed everybody). In a remarkable coincidence, Perceptor had just invented an all-purpose rustproofing compound. Megatron takes the last sample from Perceptor to cure himself and uses Perceptor to infect the Autobots. Superion and Menasor then battle for the Statue of Liberty, which was also coated with the rustproofing compound, so the Autobots could get another sample to cure themselves.

  46. Starscream's Brigade

    In yet another attempt to usurp power from Megatron, Starscream creates the Combaticons from old WWII weapons and stolen personalities from the Decepticon detention center on Cybertron. When Megatron fights back with Devastator, Starscream reveals the Combaticons can form the gestalt Bruticus. Taking Devastator by surprise, Bruticus is victorious, but the Stunticons show up and Menasor attacks Bruticus from behind. Starscream and his army are banished to an asteroid.

  47. The Revenge of Bruticus

    Introduction of the Protectobots, who show up without explanation to evacuate a city under siege by Insecticon clones. Starscream abandons the Combaticons, but they manage to make it back to Cybertron, defeat Shockwave, and reprogram the Space Bridge to push Earth into the Sun (specifically to destroy Megatron, although there will be some collateral damage). Bruticus is only defeated when Starscream reveals a failsafe device he installed in case he rebelled.

  48. Masquerade

    When the Stunticons are mistaken for the Autobots for the second time (see also The Key to Vector Sigma), Optimus Prime decides to repaint Sideswipe, Jazz, Windcharger, Mirage, and himself as the evil car team to infiltrate Decepticon headquarters. For some reason being repainted changes their transformation sequences, too. Breakdown manages to free the other Stunticons from their Autobot prison, revealing the ruse, but not before the disguised Autobots manage to sabotage the Decepticons' scheme.

  49. B.O.T.

    After a disastrous battle with Defensor, the Combaticons are heavily damaged, except for Swindle, who proceeds to take the personality components out of the other four and sell them. Megatron puts a bomb in him and gives him 15 hours to get them back, but one was taken by some high school students building a robot for a science project. He manages to retrieve them all so Megatron can use Bruticus to wield a new huge superweapon, but the kids sacrifice their robot project to destroy it.

Between Seasons

  1. Scramble City

    A few Transformers who otherwise appeared suddenly in the movie make their first appearance here. Certain Transformers gestalt teams are shown to be able to interchange arms and legs amongst themselves and even between teams. Scramble City (Metroplex) and Trypticon show up at the end to stare each other down. This was basically an extended Japanese commercial, even more so than your average episode, and was not released in the US until 2006.

  2. Transformers: The Movie

    The Decepticons launch an all-out assault on the Autobots, but are driven back when Optimus Prime and Megatron both suffer fatal wounds in their final one-on-one battle. Megatron and some others are jettisoned into deep space during the retreat and Starscream takes over the Decepticons. Megatron is, however, discovered by Unicron, a massive planet-eating artificial planet, who rebuilds Megatron and his fallen warriors into Galvatron, Cyclonus, Scourge, and the Sweeps to serve him. Galvatron then promptly destroys Starscream and retakes control of the Decepticons. Optimus Prime passes the Autobot Matrix of Leadership on to Ultra Magnus, who loses it to Galvatron. The Junkions and Quintessons are briefly introduced, and Unicron attempts to eat Cybertron but is defeated by the power of the Matrix, which also transforms Hot Rod into Rodimus Prime, the new Autobot leader for Season 3.

Season 3

Season 3 was where The Transformers really jumped the shark. The Autobots held the clear advantage throughout, using Cybertron as an impregnable fortress and primarily concerned with installing massive power generators that don't appear to use any fuel. The Decepticons meanwhile are trapped, low on energon, on the dead world of Chaar and rarely do much anymore, with the exception of Galvatron's new elite troops and whatever toy the episode happened to be marketing. The Sweeps were a stroke of brilliance on the part of the animators though, having a randomly variable number of identically shaped and colored troops meant they kept the animation errors (at least the verifiable ones anyway) to a minimum. The main villains were the Quintessons, who were behind-the-scenes manipulators and completely ineffectual when their delicately constructed plans invariably fell apart. Unicron's disembodied head sometimes did stuff. Between Rodimus Prime's insecurity and Galvatron's frequent psychotic breakdowns, both sides were left without the effective and competent leadership that made seasons 1 and 2 interesting.

  1. Five Faces of Darkness: Parts 1–5

    Following up from Transformers: The Movie, the Autobots have retaken Cybertron, the Decepticons have retreated to Chaar and are critically low on energy, and Galvatron is missing. Blurr and Wheelie are tasked with bringing Metroplex his transformation cog, a critical part which allows him to transform from city to robot mode and becomes a plot point later in the series. Meanwhile a number of Autobots are captured by an unseen enemy who turn out to be the Quintessons and their Sharkticons, who will become recurring villains. Galvatron is shown to be a few Joules short of a full energon cube, but the Decepticons follow him anyway. To make an unnecessarily long story short, the Quintessons trick Galvatron into working for them by promising him the fictional Decepticon Matrix of Leadership, with their ultimate plan culminating in the triggering of a device deep within Cybertron that will put all Transformers everywhere into suspended animation. It actually works, too, until Spike Witwicky shoots the machine and destroys it, restoring the Transformers to life. Oh yeah, and Metroplex and Trypticon fight, with Metroplex soundly whipping his Godzilla butt.

  2. The Killing Jar

    A Quintesson scientist captures the most boring characters in the current continuity for a surprisingly dull adventure through a black hole, into a completely uninteresting alternate universe, and back.

  3. Chaos

    Kup tells the story of a slave mining facility on an alien world terrorized by a monster named Chaos, who grows crystals on its body that can be used as weapons. The Decepticons discover these crystals and start mining them, and the Autobots head out to stop them and free the slaves. We are promised a fight between Chaos and Predaking that never occurs.

  4. Dark Awakening

    Zombie Optimus Prime is reprogrammed by the Quintessons to lead the Autobots into a trap, and Rodimus Prime once again shows how reluctant and incompetent he is as a leader as he happily returns the Matrix of Leadership to Optimus the instant he sees him. This episode is notable for the only instance in which Blurr actually has something interesting to say at hyper-speed instead of just repeating himself.

  5. Forever is a Long Time Coming

    The Quintessons attempt to alter history by bringing A-3, the leader of the Transformers resistance that overthrew them millions of years ago, into the present. Success would mean that they would have never lost control of the Transformers and would still rule Cybertron. Untimely intervention by the Autobots destabilizes the time rift and the Quintessons have to convince the Autobots to shut down the time portal before it rips the universe apart. Unfortunately, some of the Autobots are still in the past and A-3 is still in the present, so they are understandably reluctant to believe them.

  6. Starscream's Ghost

    Fully aware of the complete lack of interesting characters in Season 3, we follow up Dark Awakening with another episode featuring a fan-favorite character resurrected. To be concluded in Ghost in the Machine. This episode brought to the forefront the inexplicably variable number of utterly interchangeable and disposable Sweeps under the command of Scourge.

  7. Thief in the Night

    Octane absconds with Trypticon, damaged and low on power after the fight with Metroplex, and brings him to the offensively stereotypical Middle Eastern nation of Carbombya, where they use Carbombya's oil to make energon for Trypticon in exchange for providing coastal defense for the small nation. Dictator Abdul Fakkadi gets greedy, however, when he notes just how incredibly much oil Trypticon uses, and demands that the huge robot steal famous landmarks from around the world to turn Carbombya into a tourist attraction. Metroplex is somehow blamed for the thefts and tracks Trypticon down to Carbombya to whip his Godzilla butt again and clear his name.

  8. Surprise Party


  9. Madman's Paradise

    Daniel Witwicky and Grimlock accidentally fall into a dimensional portal used by the Quintessons millions of years ago to banish a dangerous rebel, who studied magic instead of science. The Quintesson rebel tricks Grimlock into fighting for him against the heroic rebellion, but things are set right when the other Autobots enter the portal to bring them back and free a powerful wizard called the Golden One to defeat him.

  10. Nightmare Planet

    The Quintessons plan to destroy the Autobots by plugging Daniel Witwicky into a machine that manifests his nightmares in the real world, the sort of plan that even Cobra Commander would probably call ridiculous.

  11. Ghost in the Machine

    Starscream's ghost possesses Scourge's body to perform three labors for Unicron's head (still in ominous orbit around Cybertron after his defeat in the movie), who needs new eyes, a transformation cog, and finally, a connection to Cyberton itself as his new body. In exchange, he promises Starscream a new body. Scourge runs away at the last minute, leaving the disembodied Starscream unable to make the connections, so Unicron agrees to give him his new body so he can make the connections. Starscream of course laughs and runs off without doing so, and the Autobots launch Unicron's head back into orbit with an explosion.

  12. Webworld

    Realizing that Galvatron's psychotic behavior is ultimately detrimental to the Decepticon cause, Cyclonus brings him to Webworld for psychiatric help. Unable to help Galvatron, they decide to lobotomize the Decepticon leader but he escapes. Somewhat prone to overreacting, he destroys their civilization in retaliation.

  13. Carnage in C-Minor

    The Transformers find a planet where everything is based on music and a three-part harmony can be used as a powerful weapon. Soundwave records the harmony to use it against the Autobots but Blaster is able to erase his tapes. Soundwave, struck by the beauty of this musical world, exhibits more emotion in this single episode than the rest of the series combined.

  14. The Quintesson Journal

    The Autobots try to bring peace to two warring planets while the Quintessons attempt to keep them at war by selling arms to both sides. The key to peace is the Quintesson Journal, which contains evidence of their double-dealing.

  15. The Ultimate Weapon

    First Aid quits the Protectobots but comes back and Metroplex and Trypticon fight again with wacky malfunctions caused by switched transformation cogs. Also, the title of the episode is mentioned in an afterthought as Galvatron claims to have an ultimate weapon, Rodimus Prime calls his bluff, and Galvatron runs away.

  16. The Big Broadcast of 2006

    Stop watching TV, it rots your brain.

  17. Fight or Flee

    Some Decepticons find a utopian planet full of pacifist Autobots and plentiful energon, and decide to make themselves comfortable. One of the less pacifistic, Sandstorm, teams up with the Autobots to try to retake the planet, but the whole planet winds up being destroyed. Fortunately the pacifists survive to be relocated to Cybertron. Contains the unintentionally hilarious line delivered by Ultra Magnus: "I've never seen anything so beautiful in the entire galaxy. All right, give me the bomb."

  18. Dweller in the Depths

    Galvatron accidentally releases an ancient Quintesson bio-weapon which drains energy from everything it touches, turning Transformers into energy vampires in the process. Perceptor discovers that they can conveniently be cured by recharging them.

  19. Only Human

    An aged Cobra Commander (referred to by the name Old Snake but it's obviously him) helps a crime lord capture the bodies of Rodimus Prime, Springer, Ultra Magnus, and Arcee by transferring their minds into human bodies. This 1986 airdate episode set in 2006 contains the unintentionally prescient line "They just don't make terrorists like they used to.", unknowingly foreshadowing the by-now changed global perception of terrorism.

  20. Grimlock's New Brain

    An accident endows the simple-minded Grimlock with super-intelligence, which he uses to create the Technobots to battle the Terrorcons, eventually sacrificing his genius to give it to the Technobot gestalt, Computron. Unicron's head is in part of this episode. Actually it would be more accurate to say that part of this episode takes place in Unicron's head.

  21. Money is Everything

    A mercenary working for the Quintessons romances Autobot ally Marissa Fairborne for the purpose of giving the Technobots a breakout episode, and the Quintessons are controlling the Terrorcons for some reason.

  22. Call of the Primitives

    In an episode most transfans would like to forget, a one-shot villain rewrites the entire history of the Transformers and Unicron while creating an energy-siphoning super-monster. His former apprentice decides the only thing that can stop a super-intelligent invulnerable monster are the most simple-minded, animal-form Transformers. This goes about as well as you'd expect until Grimlock hits a literal "reset button", everything goes back to normal, and the retconning is never mentioned again.

  23. The Face of the Nijika

    Perceptor's Autobot insignia and apparently his brain are transplanted into a miniature robot on a planet inhabited by intelligent aliens who the Quintessons fear because of their latent telepathic power, which has been stolen from them by a Quintesson device which blocks the stars, the source of their power, from them.

  24. The Burden Hardest to Bear

    Rodimus Prime loses the Matrix of Leadership to the Decepticons and decides to give up being leader of the Autobots because he sucks. Scourge winds up with the Matrix and turns into a super-warrior for just long enough to beat up Galvatron, and afterwards has trouble killing an old Japanese lady before Hot Rod defeats him and takes the Matrix back.

  25. The Return of Optimus Prime: Part 1/2

    Some human scientists testing an experimental heat-shielding metal discover Optimus Prime's body from Dark Awakening (mysteriously free of the damage he showed in that episode) and use it to set a trap for the Autobots as revenge for one of them getting a little cut on his face during a fight between Optimus Prime and Megatron over twenty years ago.

  26. The Return of Optimus Prime: Part 2/2

    The rage virus infection goes out of control and soon nearly the entire galaxy is infected. Sky Lynx rescues a Quintesson from some infected Sharkticons to rebuild Optimus Prime, who covers himself in the heat-shielding metal which also protects against infection, to wrestle back the Matrix from Rodimus Prime. In a Deus Ex Machina to rival the destruction of Unicron, the Matrix is used up completely to rid the galaxy of the infection. The humans responsible for unleashing the uncontrollable plague that nearly wiped out all organic and inorganic sentient life in the galaxy apologize.

Season 4

Season 4 never got past its pilot episode, a three-parter introducing the Headmasters and Targetmasters, including Fortress Maximus and Scorponok.

  1. The Rebirth: Part 1/3

    A group of Autobots and Decepticons are launched across space to the planet Nebulos by a poorly-planned attempt to access Cybertron's Plasma Energy Chamber. Nebulos is ruled by a small cadre of evil beings who have enslaved the rest of the planet with mentally-controlled machines. The Autobots team up with a resistance group, and following Highbrow's suggestion that the Autobots would perform better with biological "pilots" bonded with them, create the Headmasters.

  2. The Rebirth: Part 2/3

    Headmaster technology gives the Autobots a decisive advantage over the Decepticons, and gives Daniel Witwicky a really disturbing cyber-Oedipal relationship with Arcee (fortunately a Headmaster Arcee toy was never produced). The Decepticons are then captured by the evil Nebulons, and agree under duress to allow the animal-form Decepticons to become Headmasters, but insist the vehicle-form Decepticons become Targetmasters.

  3. The Rebirth: Part 3/3

    Then the Autobots copy the Targetmaster idea, so the leader of the evil Nebulons makes himself headmaster of a new, bigger Decepticon city: Scorponok. As everyone heads to Cybertron to continue their battle there, Spike and Cerebros turn an old Nebulon city into Fortress Maximus, with a staggered Spike-Cerebros-FortMax Headmaster relationship.

Then the series got cancelled in the US but continued in Japan.