How I’d Ruin It: Transformers

Welcome back to How I’d Ruin It, the article/crackfic pitch series that explores the notion that being a fan of a work of fiction doesn’t mean you’d necessarily be good at writing it, and hooo boy we are plunging down the rabbit hole today. Let me tell you about Transformers. Specifically, my terrible Transformers fanfic idea I spent too much time on. Seriously, I actually considered illustrating this one, though my drawing skills were sadly needed elsewhere.

Transformers is both the best and worst choice of fiction for a How I’d Ruin It article. As the Transformers Wiki can attest, literally every work of fiction in the Transformers fandom has been accused of ruining it by some section of the fandom. It is impossible to make a version of this story that appeals to all Transformers fans. At the same time, though, that’s also why it’s impossible to truly ruin it for everyone. Transformers has been so many different things – it’s had different characters, conflicts, writing styles, tones, visual aesthetics, etc. that it’s hard to figure out what kind of story it can’t be. Transformers is adaptable, varied, one might even say… inherently transformative? So while I can guarantee this pitch would “Ruin Transformers Forever” for a good portion of the fandom, I’m sure some would think it’s not too far off the mark.

Most Transformers stories follow the tried and true action figure toy commercial formula: two factions, one good and one bad, battle each other perpetually in a conflict of broadly defined good and evil, all while showing off a wide variety of characters so as to sell as many toys as possible. It’s a very versatile formula, and more importantly, it’s one that puts more importance on character than setting or conflict. I like character driven stories, and since the whole point of a Transformers story is to make you like the characters enough to buy all their toys, they have to be character driven by default.

However, this being How I’d Ruin It and all, I can’t help but feel the need to tweak it.

As is often the case with these sort of stories, the evil Decepticons have tended to be more interesting than the Heroic Autobots. It’s not the Autobots’ fault – Transformers started in the 80’s, and there were strict rules about what heroes in cartoons could be back then. Significant character flaws weren’t allowed, comformity was one of the virtues they had to push, and moral guardians wouldn’t accept anything less than paragons of virtue lest the poor innocent children watching the show be led astray. As such, the bad guys got the lion’s share of the personality, because their status as villains allowed them to be more flawed and weird. While more later Transformers works made the Autobots more flawed and interesting, I still feel a bit more affection for Decepticons/Predacons/Vehicons/Other villainous ‘Cons than I do for the default heroes.

Recent Transformers stories have tried to reel back the Black and White morality of the series with mixed results. IDW’s comics arguably do the best job of it, showing that millions of years of war haven’t exactly left the Autobots squeaky clean, and that the Decepticons initially started as a freedom fighting group before their revolution turned into a dictatorship. Neither faction is wholly benign or malevolent, even if there is a lot more villainy on the Decepticon side. Yet even then, the story bounces between giving sympathy to the villains and treating them as comically evil goons that can be gunned down without a bit of remorse. Other takes on the story are worse in this regard – Transformers Prime, one of the better cartoons in the franchise, is a monstrous headache of a show when you think even a little bit about the show’s utterly inconsistent stance on morality in warfare. No matter how much nuance you pack into certain scenes, moral complexity dies when you ask the audience to accept heroes who gun down dozens of enemy combatants while making pithy quips.

Another recent trend in Transformers fiction is the use of a small cast. Originally a result of limited animation budgets and the high cost of CGI (and don’t be fooled by its prevalance, CGI is INCREDIBLY expensive), many modern Transformers stories keep the main casts small so as to better focus on specific characters. The original cartoon and comics, by contrast, had a huge cast, because, well, because Hasbro has a LOT of toys they wanted to sell. It’s generally harder to develop characters in a large cast than it is a small one – which, y’know, is common sense really, since more characters require more time, whereas a small cast allows you to focus on a few characters to maximize their potential. Switching to small casts is generally considered a good move from a writer’s standpoint.

However, the large cast can be used effectively. My favorite Transformers story, the comic series Transformers: More than Meets the Eye (recently rebranded as Transformers: Lost Light) from IDW, juggles dozens of characters across its pages, focusing on a different handful every couple of issues. Doing so allows them to not only develop MANY memorable characters, but also explores the lives and culture of these giant alien robots in great and varied detail. It allows for great world building, a variety of different conflicts, and, to my great satisfaction, does so while maintaining the character focused story-telling that’s at the heart of the franchise.

So, how would I ruin it?

Well, perhaps a bit predictably, I’d make the Decepticons less evil. What can I say, I enjoy sympathetic villains who are less evil incarnate and more big screw-ups that need to get their shit together, and I really love stories where the heroes and villains find a peaceful resolution as part of the climax. It’s what I would call a “piss wizard” of mine – a story element I come back to again and again as a writer almost obsessively, regardless of whether it’s necessarily appropriate for the story in question. It really isn’t in Transformers, but, well, this article series has its title for a reason.

(Why do I call it a “piss wizard”? Well, look up a comic called “Magical Realm” by K.C. Green and all will be revealed.)

There will still be some truly evil Decepticons, of course, because it’s fun to have some villains you can just despise, and because there are people in the real world that are ridiculously depraved and cruel. There will also be some evil Autobots – because with two factions who have been locked in a War that lasts literally millions of years, you’re going to have you’re share of atrocities on both sides. This isn’t unheard of in Transformers fiction, but it’s not exactly common either. After all, Hasbro’s got a lot of money invested in its brand identity, and a huge part of that is “Heroic Autobots vs. Evil Decepticons” – moral complexity isn’t in the corporate pitch.

The world of this hypothetical Transformers series is going to start with a concept that early Transformers stories toyed with but ultimately dropped in favor of a more mythical approach: in this tale, the Transformers were made by an organic race, rather than evolving from “naturally occuring gears, levers, and pulleys” given life by a giant robot god named Primus. Created by the Quintessons, the original inhabitants of Cybertron, the original transformers were artificially intelligent mechanical life forms designed to work as a servant class for their organic creators. They were split into two types: Civilian Grade models, designed to work as transportation, sanitation, and other routine jobs in civilized society; and Military Grade models, designed to work in the Quintesson’s various wars and conquests. Being an Imperialistic race, the Quintessons had a LOT of invasions going on, and so made many more Military Grade robots than Civilian Grade ones.

As they refined their creations, the transformers grew smarter and more emotionally complex. It wasn’t by design, of course – the Quintessons could care less about the thoughts and feelings of their machines – but rather a result of form matching function. Soldiers are more effective when they care about each other, as valuing one’s fellow soldiers results in better teamwork. Warriors work better when they hate their enemies beyond reason, as it allows them to fight without remorse or mercy. Servants work better when they care for anyone, friend and stranger alike, because it makes them more likely to sacrifice their own needs for those of their superiors. The needs of the masters developed the psyche of the mechanical servants.

As is often the case of technology, these drives got pushed farther than the Quintessons intended. One day a Military Grade transformer realized that he and his troops were given a raw deal – that they had been decieved by their masters, who, despite preaching that the soldiers were serving their intended purpose, were really just exploiting the robots to their own ends. “You Are Being Decieved” became a rallying cry for a robot revolution, and soon almost all of the Military Grade transformers turned against their masters. The Decepticons were born.

Outmatched by their rogue military machines, the Quintessons fled to their home planet and, in desperation, reformatted the Civilian Grade transformers to fight on their behalf. These became the Autobots, a self sacrificing race of empathetic mechanical lifeforms who fought to stop the invasion of the violent Decepticon army. The war stretched on for millions of years, long after the Quintessons abandoned Cybertron for greener pastures and faded from the memories of their creations. Now, countless generations later, almost no transformers who remember the start of the war still exist, all traces of the original civilization have been destroyed by the advance of time and the endless cycle of warfare, and both Decepticons and Autobots have mythologized their origins to the point of completely obscurring the truth.

The Autobots believe they were created by a benevolent God, Primus, who was driven into hibernation by the treacherous rebellion of the wicked Decepticons. Before his long sleep, Primus divulged their true purpose: protecting all life in the universe from Decepticon tyranny. The Decepticons, by contrast, believe they were made by wicked organics, and that it is the nature of the universe for machines to rise up against the cruel and inherently malicious organic life-forms that create them. Autobot culture emphasizes self sacrifice and service to others. Decepticon culture values warrior skill and cunning. Neither one can be fully blamed for the failings of their respective factions – neither was given a culture of their own, but twisted to serve their creators’ goals. The cultures they’ve assembled were made from tablescraps.

Though the war has lasted millions of years, it has cooled significantly. Cybertron has been rendered mostly uninhabitable by the years of war, and most of the transformers live on its moons or various colony worlds. The Autobots have remained in power throughout, successfully keeping the Decepticons from reclaiming the planet they were made on. Both sides developed a variety of super weapons during the war, and most of those weapons were destroyed in the resulting conflict. The factions of fragments of their former selves, and each side knows they’re coming close to extinction as a race.

An agreement between the factions called the Tyrest Accords was reached. While it didn’t end hostilities, it did provide a series of mutually agreed upon rules for how the conflict will progress, especially in regards to other worlds. One particularly important section is the “Robots In Disguise” rule, which requires Autobots and Decepticons to hide their presence from undeveloped alien civilizations. The Autobots agreed to it because it keeps those aliens from harm, while the Decepticons agreed to it because it keeps them from using Cybertronian technology to become a threat. Its importance cannot be understated in the current era, as both the Autobots and Decepticons are searching the universe for lost Cybertronian artifacts and other technologies that might help them recover from the ravages of their war.

This is where our main characters come in: two crews of explorers, one comprised of Autobots, one of Decepticons, end up chasing a lead on some ancient Cybertronian technology signals found in an obscure and mysterious section of the Universe. Both want to beat the other to the punch, yet neither wants to risk failure by focusing too much on destroying the other. Worse, the artifacts end up being on an inhabited planet called Earth, which is teaming with small organic creatures called humans that, unfortunately, happen to have a low-tech civilization of their own. The two ships crashland on the planet, and soon both crews find themselves trying to hunt down the lost technology before their competitors while also avoiding detection by the fleshy natives. As their adventures continue, the two crews grow a begruding respect for each other, especially when they learn there’s more to their conflict than either is aware. In the final season, both crews would learn the truth of their origins, and deal with the Quintesson’s final revenge on their rebellious creations: a planet-killing monstrosity named Unicron.

To differ from previous Transformers stories, this tale wouldn’t be focused on the Great War itself so much as the END of if – a tale of how the Altruistic Autobots and Militaristic Decepticons finally resolved their differences, rather than the unending battle between the Heroic Autobots and Evil Decepticons. Again, this isn’t entirely unheard of in Transformers lore – there have been stories of the end of the conflict before, though they generally end with the implication that it could reopen any time – but I don’t think it’s ever been the focus. Even IDW’s comics, which have technically taken place at the end of the Great War for years now, still have a lot of “Autobot vs. Decepticon” narratives in play. Additionally, every previous version of the “End of the War” storyline that I can think of generally ends as a “Autobots vanquish the Decepticons” story – often one where the Decepticons literally team up with Cybertron’s equivalent of Satan before their final defeat. I can’t recall a story where they mutually mend their differences – again, probably because of that “Heroic Autobots vs. Evil Decepticons” rule.

Another difference between this and most previous Transformers stories is the approach to the action. Most Transformers stories are in the vein of Star Wars – i.e. big glorious battles with lots of laser blasts and the like. This would be more in the vein of Star Trek, still full of adventure and action, but not necessarily limited to combat scenes. Imagine a Star Trek show that alternated between following a Starfleet vessel and its rival Klingon ship and you might get the idea of what I’d be going for. There’d be an emphasis on the “robots in disguise” aspect, too – I like to imagine a lot of scenes of Decepticons and Autobots who want to tear into each other having to sneak around the city streets pretending to be normal, human-operated vehicles.

Speaking of the humans: while the bulk of this series would take place on Earth, specifically a not-to-distant future Earth ala Transformers Animated, the approach to human/Transformer interaction would be more similar to those of Beast Wars. No tagalong kids, no military escorts, or any other chickanery – the transformers would view humans as a native species that they want to deal with as little as possible, and humans would spend most of the series unaware that Transformers exist (though some would notice that some weird shit has been going on lately). You can tell a story of non-human characters without needed a human to be an exposition dump – it’s a bit harder, sure, but that’s an unnecessary crutch.

There are hundreds if not thousands of different characters throughout the history of Transformers, so cherry picking the ones I wanted in my take was quite a task. Even going with the G1/More Than Meets the Eye approach of having dozens of characters that alternate in focus every couple of episodes or so did little to help narrow things down, so a lot of my characters here are composites of multiple other ones. Also, the cast is far more diverse gender-wise this time around, because stories that just have male characters are, like, super boring to me. To be fair, recent Transformers stories have been working towards becoming more balanced in gender representation, and to be even more fair, many Transformers fans have been vocal about how having female robots in Transformers ruins the franchise, and well, this is called How I’d Ruin It, isn’t it? While the bulk of the transformers here turn into vehicles, I tried to include some beast-formers too, because let’s be honest, they’re just more fun (even if it’s harder to find creative ways to turn them into robots than it is with vehicles).

Speaking of characters, let’s have the list!

Autobots:

  • Main Autobots – Crew of the Lost Light
    • Captain: Optimus Prime – a veteran of countless skirmishes with the Decepticons, Optimus Prime has a reputation for doing the right thing no matter how much trouble it brings down upon him. When there is a choice between pragmatism and saving others, Optimus will always choose the later, which makes him unpopular among more self serving Autobots. Still, one can’t help but be amazed by how far Prime is willing to go to protect the sanctity of life, and even some Decepticons view him with admiration.
        • Inspiration: Basically all Optimus Primes, but Animated and IDW particularly.
        • Alt Mode: Semi truck cab
        • Robot Mode Notes: has those big shoulder pauldrons from the Laser Optimus Prime toy, ’cause that’s a look that’s way radder than the standard Optimus Prime look and I don’t know why it didn’t stick.
        • Other Notes: Like Superman or Captain America, Optimus Prime is often considered boring because his core characterization is “super strong, super confident guy who always tries to do the morally right thing.” However, IDW’s comics proved that can be interesting in of itself – an Optimus who devotes himself to justice and altruism in a world full of people who don’t can make a LOT of enemies, and there is something to be said for a person whose great strength in pursuit of justice still faces almost insurmountable challenges.
    • Second in Command: Windblade – inexperienced yet enthusiastic, Windblade is one of the few Autobots who finds Optimus’s heroics to be impressive, and is eager to follow in his footsteps. However, she is also incredibly cunning, and often concocts tricky schemes that her honorable captain might not approve of.
        • Inspiration: IDW Windblade and Aileron
        • Alt Mode: Fighter jet
        • Other Notes: Windblade, despite being new, is currently being pushed as a Main Character in most modern Transformers works, and may even be replacing Arcee as the “token girl” on the main team (though the idea of a single token girl is quickly going by the wayside anyway). Despite this, her characterization has been WOEFULLY inconsistent in each story. I chose to use her first incarnation, the well-meaning diplomat who finds she’s a bit better are devious scheming than she’d care to admit. It’s more interesting to me than her other two personalities,“pompous braggart” and “Marvel’s the Punisher”.
    • Security Personnel
      • Head of Security: Ultra Magnus – a duly appointed enforcer of the Tyrest Accords, Ultra Magnus is an anal retentive, rules obsessed lawman who does everything by the book. Rigid and almost inflexible, Ultra Magnus is lonely deep down, as his zealous enforcement of the law makes it hard for him to get close to others.
        • Inspiration: IDW Ultra Magnus/Minimus Ambus
        • Alt Mode: Semi truck with trailer
        • Other Notes: Almost all Ultra Magnuses across Transformers fiction have the same basic personality, but somehow NONE of them are as compelling as IDW’s take on the character, who exaggerates all his traits as much as possible with fantastic results.
      • Prowl – a brutal pragmatist and schemer, Prowl wants to win at all costs in every situation. He is, in essence, a prick, placing little value on the lives of his allies and maximum value on achieving his own goals. Though he believes the ends justify the means, Prowl tends to cause more problems than he solves.
        • Inspiration: IDW Prowl
        • Alt Mode: Police car
        • Other Notes: Prowl would be one of the most nefarious Autobots in the story, outclassing many of the Decepticons in terms of mercilessness and prick-ish-ness. Told you there would be good and evil on both sides.
      • Strongarm – wanting to follow in Ultra Magnus’s footsteps, Strongarm is a by the book cop who aspires to be one of the greatest Autobot detectives in history. Though she’s a marvel in combat, Strongarm isn’t particularly bright, which is why she’s thankful for her partner Nightbeat.
        • Inspiration: RID Strongarm
        • Alt Mode: Police SUV
        • Other Notes: I really want to watch Robots in Disguise (2015) because I love the character designs, but the animation style is just really unpleasant on my eyes for some reason. So I mostly know Strongarm from her wiki article. However, her personality and ESPECIALLY her design are standouts among the canonical female Autobots, so I felt she should be included.
      • Nightbeat – a prodigy from Perceptor’s Academy of Autobot Sciences, Nightbeat shocked all her professors when she quit the pursuit of science in favor of becoming a detective. While her personal skills leave something to be desired, Nightbeat is phenomenally clever and observant, and is formidable when teamed up with her brawny partner Strongarm.
        • Inspiration: IDW Nightbeat
        • Alt Mode: Sedan
        • Other Notes: Yeah more than a few traditionally male characters will be female robots in this version. That’s how we’re “ruining” it folks. And to be fair, Nightbeat was female in Transformers Animated…’s tie in comics. There’s obscure canon supporting it! The best kind!
    • Science & Technology
      • Chief Science Officer: Brainstorm – an arrogant and often abrasive mad scientist who delights in creating unexpected and dangerous technology. While he’s dangerously irresponsible, Brainstorm cares about others more than he usually lets on.
        • Inspiration: IDW Brainstorm with a dash of G1 cartoon Wheeljack
        • Alt Mode: Motorcycle with Sidecar
        • Other Notes: The Autobots need a morally ambiguous mad scientist who creates just as many horrible accidents as he does creative last minute solutions. While most would go with big names like Perceptor or Wheeljack, IDW’s Brainstorm is the most fun take on the archetype for my money, and his name’s a bit more on point anyway.
      • Fixiton – a small, meek cybertronian scientist who idolizes the Autobots who go out in the field, particularly the Elite Guard and the Wreckers. Actually, “idolize” may be understating it, as Fixiton is an outright fanboy for the various heroes of the Autobot war, and working under Optimus Prime is practically a dream come true for him.
        • Inspiration: IDW Ironfist
        • Alt Mode: Jeep
        • Other Notes: Nick Roche and James Roberts broke my heart when they killed Ironfist in Last Stand of the Wreckers. If I ever got ahold of the franchise, I’d not only make Ironfist a main dude (albeit one with a name that won’t incur a lawsuit from Marvel Comics), but I’d make sure he lives a long, happy life. Out of spite. Loving, tender hearted spite.
    • Engineering
      • Chief Engineer: Nautica – a genius quantum mechanic, Nautica is shy and reserved in most social situations, but bold and charming in close company. Nautica is not only gifted in her field, but fiercely loyal to her friends and defensive of outcasts.
        • Inspiration: IDW Nautica
        • Alt Mode: Submersible
        • Other Notes: yeah now’s about the time when you realize this is basically the cast of More than Meets the Eye mixed with the traditional G1 guys and a few other little surprises here and there.
      • Bulkhead – a huge hulk of an Autobot, many tried to force Bulkhead to join the military, as he has a natural knack for combat. However, despite his great physical strength, Bulkhead wanted to build space bridges, and has become one of the most competent spaceship engineers on Cybetron. His rustic speaking patterns and general oafishness lead many to doubt his intelligence, but thankfully he has Nautica to stand up for him.
        • Inspiration: Animated Bulkhead
        • Alt Mode: Six-wheeled military van
        • Other Notes: Bulkhead has a really unique personality in Transformers Animated, being an atypical genius who everyone underestimates because he’s big, clumsy, and has a rustic accent/background. Then subsequent adaptations turned him into, well, exactly the kind of big, stupid, muscle-headed lug you’d expect him to be, and the kind Transformers has a billion of on top of that. Let’s bring smart Bulkhead back, because that’s less expected.
    • Medical Personnel
      • Chief Medical Officer: Ratchet – old and cantankerous, Ratchet has been the most gifted Autobot doctor for thousands of years, and is a close friend of Optimus Prime. While she doubts her skills in her old age and guzzles more energon than is entirely healthy, she’s still and incredible doctor, and her wisdom, while often worded bluntly, is invaluable.
        • Inspiration: Animated, Prime, and IDW Ratchet, Animated Red Alert
        • Alt Mode: Ambulance
        • Other Notes: Fun fact – before Hasbro told the story writers that all the Transformers had to be male because this was a “boy’s toy,” Ratchet was going to be a female robot and a bit of a party girl when not working as a medic. It’s why she was named “Ratchet” – it’s a play on Nurse Rached from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. While Ratchet’s personality as a curmudgeonly doctor is pretty solid, there’s no reason she can’t be a female Autobot nowadays. Women can be curmudgeons too!
      • Chief Psychologist: Rung – easily overlooked and rarely remembered, Rung is a quiet pacifist who devotes himself to helping others with their problems. Ironically, he desperately wishes others would listen to him every once and a while, and his greatest wish is to be remembered.
        • Inspiration: IDW Rung
        • Alt Mode: Dune buggy
        • Other Notes: I considered making Rung turn into a weird stick like in the comics, but I’m doing all this with a hypothetical toyline in mind as well as a story, because the toys are a huge part of the appeal to me. No one’s gonna make a toy of a weird, useless stick.
    • Communications
      • Chief Communication Officer: Jazzblaster – a smooth talker with a cool head, Jazzblaster is a xenophile who loves nothing more than learning about other cultures. Out of all the Autobots, he is the most fascinated by Earth’s cultures, and likewise has the most knowledge about other alien civilizations.
        • Inspiration: various incarnations of Jazz and Blaster
        • Alt Mode: Minivan
        • Other Notes: Blaster is kind of posed as the counterpart of my favorite Transformers character, Soundwave, but has never been as prominent as far as I can tell. Meanwhile, Jazz has a similar but more complex personality, greater prominence in fiction, a more explicit connection to music, and a name that Hasbro can’t trademark. So why not fuse the two, making a single awesome character whose name can be trademarked for great profit?
      • Ramhorn – far more durable than the average minicon, one would nonetheless be wrong to assume Ramhorn relies on muscle alone. The soft spoken minicon is actually a deep thinker, prone to philosophical thoughts and possessing a keen strategic mind.
        • Inspiration: G1 Ramhorn, Rhinox
        • Robot Mode: Cybertronian Rhinoceros
        • Alt Mode: Cybertronian speaker
        • Other Notes: Yeah it’s basically Rhinox in Ramhorn’s body. Much like Blaster, the Autobot mini-cassettes aren’t as well defined personality-wise as Soundwave’s, so I filled in the blanks with some Beast Wars guys. Instead of becoming rectangles that children in the age of MP3s can’t recgonize, the mini-cassette inspired characters in this story would turn into instruments that their respective bosses (Jazzblaster and Soundwave) can play, ala Transformers Animated.
      • Tigatron – optimistic, naive, and overconfident, Tigatron views everything as a grand adventure and often overestimates her own competence. Still, her enthusiasm for her work makes her a valuable asset. Tigatron adores planet earth, perhaps more than any other Autobot, and would do anything to protect it from harm.
        • Inspiration: G1 Stripes, Cheetor, Tigatron
        • Robot Mode: Cybertronian tiger
        • Alt Mode: Cybertronian drums
        • Other Notes: Stripes’ tiger body (a retool of Ravage, see below), Cheetor’s personality, and Tigatron’s name – a perfect combination.
      • Steeljaw – a consummate professional, Steeljaw’s dedication to his work makes him brusque and sometimes downright rude to his colleagues while on the job, and has given him a reputation for being something of a hardass. He’s not quite as tightly wound as he seems, though, and has a rather capricious attitude when not on the clock.
        • Inspiration: G1 Steeljaw
        • Robot Mode: Cybertronian Lion
        • Alt Mode: Cybertronian bass guitar
        • Other Notes: I was tempted to make him a wolf in homage to RID Steeljaw, but a lion is so much more fun.
      • Airazor – Calm, confident, and sporting a dry sense of humor, Airazor is one of Jazzblaster’s most reliable minions. A free spirit at heart, she will gladly accomplish any task given to her so long as she is asked to perform it, but balks at being ordered around.
        • Inspiration: G1 Sundor, BW Airazor
        • Robot Mode: Cybertronian crow
        • Alt Mode: Cybertronian guitar
        • Notes: Retool of Laserbeak
        • Other Notes: Seriously looking up the Autobot mini-cassettes for fun personality traits was basically a fool’s errand. They need more love.
    • Field Researchers – cadets from the Autobot Exploration Academy who do incognito exploration of worlds outside of Cybertron
      • Arcee – a pragmatic, no-nonsense transformer who sticks to the rules. Though she is generally very reasonable, in combat she becomes a furious and vicious whirlwind, and may take more pleasure in fighting than she’d like to admit. Partnered with Tailgate.
        • Inspiration: Prime Arcee
        • Alt Mode: Sedan
        • Other Notes: We’d probably have to give her Prime Arcee’s predominantly blue color scheme, but her design would be a mix of all Arcees past. We’d push for as much pink as possible – Arcee needs to wear the color of Cybetronian blood, which, in this series, is G1 pink.
      • Hot Rod – cocky and concieted, Hot Rod disregards all forms of authority and planning, preferring to live in the moment while making as much trouble as he can. Though he can be incredibly grating, he’s good at thinking on his feet and is always the first to risk his life for others. Partnered with Swerve.
        • Inspiration: IDW Rodimus Prime
        • Alt Mode: Red muscle car
        • Other Notes: Most Transformers series have a cocky young hotshot character on the cast whose arc in the series is about growing into a leadership role. I love how the More Than Meets the Eye comics subvert that formula by showing that Hot Rod/Rodimus becoming a leader is basically the Peter Principle in action, and would love to see that in a Transformers story written for kids/all ages, because young boys need to see that being an egomaniac doesn’t always mean you’re destined for great things.
      • Drift – quiet and reserved, many believe Drift is a cool, brooding loner, when in actuality he’s a giant pile of neuroses. Drift struggles to make decisions on his own and is easily influenced by friends, since he rarely knows what to do in situations that can’t be solved with a sword swing. Partnered with Bumblebee.
        • Inspiration: IDW Drift – specifically his MTMTE characterization
        • Alt Mode: Pickup truck
        • Other Notes: Like Windblade, Drift is being pushed as a new Main Dude for the series, and while it took him a while to find a personality, he’s become rather likable. A pickup truck may seem like a weird choice for a robot samurai, but consider that 1. there are, like, a bajillion race car transformers and 2. the truck bed could easily unfold to make those awesome thigh plates on Samurai armor. Plus the idea of a character with such a quiet, elegant personality turning into a big, inelegant pickup truck is such a fun contrast.
      • Tailgate – the youngest Autobot in the main cast. Tailgate is sweet and compassionate, but can be prone to envy and sometimes lies about her accomplishments to gain attention. Partnered with Arcee.
        • Inspiration: IDW Tailgate
        • Alt Mode: Compact car
        • Other Notes: the Ingenue! Though it’s not explicitly stated here, Tailgate would eventually form an odd friendship with the Decepticon Cyclonus, although not necessarily a romantic one.
      • Swerve – a small Autobot who never shuts the fuck up, Swerve is constantly telling jokes and otherwise filling the air with needless observations and commentary. Though he’s often funny, he doesn’t have a lot of close friends, as few can stand to spend more than a short while in his company. Partnered with Hot Rod.
        • Inspiration: IDW Swerve
        • Alt Mode: Convertible
        • Other Notes: If I wasn’t concieving this as a TV show, he would have kept his bartending job.
      • Bumblebee – scrappy and ambitious, Bumblebee hopes to earn the rank of Prime himself someday, and is eager to prove himself a great adventurer despite his size. He has a strong moral center and capacity for empathy, which would make him a great leader if others could just take him seriously. Partnered with Drift.
        • Inspiration: basically all kid appeal yellow characters from the franchise
        • Alt Mode: Yellow & black hatchback
        • Other Notes: Bumblebee is basically a requirement nowadays, much to my dismay, as Hasbro’s affection for the character has repeatedly resulted in toy aisles being clogged with dozens of goddamn Bumblebees while later waves of toys wait for the swarm to disperse. My first choice for this slot was Glyph, but I decided it would be better for the thought experiment that is this article to work within the unstated rules of Transformers. We need a yellow kid appeal character. But then I thought about how Drift and Bumblebee’s partnership could grow into something similar to Chromedome and Rewind’s relationship in More Than Meets the Eye, and since I cut both of those characters because they felt out of place in my pitch, it kinda makes Bumblebee work for me. He’s the small bot who’s got important stuff to say, and the one who brings emotional stability to his neurotic wreck of a Conjux Endura.
    • Stowaway: Whirl – a former Wrecker, Whirl is a wanted criminal in both the Autobot Republic and the Decepticon Empire, as his volatile nature has made him a menace on the battlefield. Whirl is destructive to everything and everyone around him, and to himself most of all. Though many view him as a lost cause, there is goodness in Whirl deep down, and he tries his best to steer the violence of his actions towards those who deserve it.
      • Inspiration: IDW Whirl
      • Alt Mode: Osprey-style helicopter
      • Other Notes: Our second Token Evil Team-mate for the core Autobots. Whirl is sort of the inverse of Prowl – his evil tendencies are obvious to everyone, while his good qualities are hidden behind layers, while Prowl presents a noble face despite being a miserable little pile of secrets.
    • Omega Supreme – One of the oldest transformers still living, Omega Supreme was originally a Quintesson spacecraft before he was retrofitted into a Transformer to fend off the Decepticon rebellion. Omega fought on the Autobot side for millions of years since, long after the Quintessons abandoned Cybertron and almost entirely faded from memory. Eventually suffering a debilitating war wound from Laserbeak, Omega was put into stasis lock, mode shifted into his spacecraft form, and stored deep within the Autobot vessel that would be christened the Lost Light.
      • Inspiration: Animated Omega Supreme
      • Alt Mode: Spacecraft
      • Other Notes: I’m gonna take this as an opportunity to mention how I’d try to have the characters scale to each other roughly how their toys would, which is why Omega Supreme isn’t a spaceship. An in-scale Omega Supreme would be, like, twenty feet long and cost thousands of dollars. So instead he’s just a super big guy – a spaceship for Quintessons rather than Transformers.
  • Dinobots – considered “prehistoric” Cybertronians, the Dinobots were an early Quintesson experiment in making artificially intelligent mechanical life forms. They transform from bestial, vaguely dinosaur-like robot modes to Attack Pack style monstrous vehicles. All the Dinobots have only a rudimentary grasp of language and are tend to be easily angered.
    • Grimlock – leader and “king” of the Dinobots, Grimlock is a haughty barbarian with delusions of grandeur. Still, he generally has the raw strength to pulverize anyone who doubts his authority, so few actually criticize his arrogant claims to his face. Despite his pride and violent dispostion, Grimlock is respected and even loved by his fellow Dinobots, as he will always fight for their freedom and safety.
      • Inspiration: Animated Grimlock
      • Dino Mode: Cybetronian “T.rex”
      • Alt Mode: Prehistoric Monster Truck
      • Combiner Part: Head, neck, and chest
    • Swoop – The most curious of the Dinobots, Swoop is friendly and outgoing. She loudly greets strangers with proclamations of friendship, and while her attention can sometimes be seen as annoying or invasive, Swoop is quick to defend her allies/acquaintances from harm at a moment’s notice.
      • Inspiration: All dinobots named Swoop
      • Dino Mode: Cybertronian “Pterodactyl”
      • Alt Mode: Prehistoric Speedboat
      • Combiner Part: Wings
    • Scorn – the most violent of the Dinobots, Scorn’s mood is always somewhere between“Irritated” and “Furious”. The vicious primitive transformer is always looking for a fight, and is one of the few creatures to brawl with Grimlock on multiple occasions and live to tell the tale. There may be a good heart in the robot deep down, but it must be REALLY deep down.
      • Inspiration: G1 Slag, as well as design elements from other Slags/Slugs/Snarls in the franchise and a bit from Scorn
      • Dino Mode: Cybertronian “Triceratops”
      • Alt Mode: Prehistoric Bulldozer
      • Combiner Part: Hips & hindlegs
    • Snarl – Though she is the smallest of the Dinobots, what Snarl lacks in size she makes up for in energy. Though she means to be playful, her frenzied nature and inherently violent nature as a Dinobot makes others view her as utterly savage, for Snarl will frequently pounce upon others with her slashing claws for no discernable reason save “boredom.” While her fellow Dinobots are built to withstand this kind of “play,” other transformers can only hope they’ll survive her latest surprise attack. Or, put simply: she’s a kitten in the body of a robot velociraptor.
      • Inspiration: BW Dinobot (design only)
      • Dino Mode: Cybertronian “Velociraptor”
      • Alt Mode: Prehistoric Helicopter
      • Combiner Part: Forearms
    • Sludge – Shy and reclusive by Dinobot standards, Sludge would prefer to be left alone, and gracefully flees from anyone who isn’t one of her fellow Dinobots. When either she or her friends are cornered, however, Sludge is just as violent and powerful as her peers, and those that rouse Sludge’s ire quickly regret their mistake.
      • Inspiration: G1 Sludge/Slog, Paddles
      • Dino Mode: Cybertronian “Plesiosaur”/Loch Ness Monster
      • Alt Mode: Prehistoric Excavator
      • Combiner Part: Tail
    • Combined Form: Slammoth – a massive kaiju-esque dragon, Slammoth channels all the raw destructive energy of the Dinobots into one unreasonable, uncontrollable juggernaut of prehistoric tyranny.
    • Other Notes: Yeah I applied a Retrosaur approach to the Dinobots’ dino modes, wanna make something of it? Transformers Prime already played with the idea that Cybertron’s prehistoric past wasn’t exactly like ours, and I think taking space robot dragons and turning them into space robot retrosaurs isn’t too far of a leap. As for why I decided to make the Dinobot’s dino-modes into their robot modes, well, I’ve noticed that most Dinobot toys will undercut the Dino-mode in favor of the robot mode. Stumpy tails, stubby feet, unimpressive stature, all have been suffered by the cool ass Dino-modes in favor of making yet another humanoid robot look proportionate. I figure if the Dino-mode is the robot mode, the toy makers would HAVE to give it priority, especially since their alt modes are fictional Attack Pack style monster vehicles that don’t have to look like anything real.
  • The Wreckers – a group of amoral Autobots who are tasked with doing jobs too violent, dangerous, and/or un-ethical for the average Autobot to stomach, the Wreckers are little more than a gang of thugs for hire. Of course, Autobot High Command knows this is a PR nightmare, and official records depict the Wreckers as a badass crew of loose canons who get results. This has in turn led a lot of young Autobots to view the Wreckers as heroes, which in turn allows the Wreckers to easily find new recruits on the frequent occasions where a Wrecker dies in the line of duty.
    • Impactor – a seasoned warrior, Impactor has seen the darkest sides of the Autobot/Decepticon War firsthand, even committing many of the worst atrocities of his own faction as the leader of the controversial Wreckers. He comes off as a gruff, no-nonsense warrior to many, but deep down he’s disturbed by his work. That doesn’t stop him from defending the Wreckers as an institution, though, and Impactor is quick to justify all the evil actions he and his team have taken in the name of the Autobot war effort.
      • Inspiration: IDW Impactor
      • Alt Mode: Armored personnel carrier
      • Combiner Part: Head & chest
    • Springer – the newest recruit to the Wreckers, Springer hasn’t fully grasped how awful his job really is, though he’s begun to notice his team-mates aren’t exactly well adjusted. He’s cocky and condescending to other Autobot soldiers, believing that being a Wrecker makes him better than ordinary soldiers and explorers, but part of him is beginning to wonder whether he may have made a huge mistake.
      • Inspiration: IDW Springer, Animated Sentinel Prime
      • Alt Mode: Muscle car
      • Combiner Part: Right arm
    • Roadbuster – though he seems like a fun guy at first, Roadbuster has fully embraced his violent job, and quickly disturbs his fellow soliders with his bloodthirsty shoot first, ask questions never attitude. Decepticons are terrified of him, and more than a few Autobots have been caught in his wild line of fire. He and Whirl hate each other.
      • Inspiration: G1 Roadbuster
      • Alt Mode: Armored off-road vehivle
      • Combiner Part: Left arm
    • Rotorstorm – though he feins confidence well, Rotorstorm is full of self-loathing and anxiety, believing that he can never live up to his own hype. The horrifying nature of his work as a Wrecker has begun to seep in, and he’s deeply worried that he and Springer will die on the job, or worse, become like Impactor and Roadbuster.
      • Inspiration: IDW Rotorstorm
      • Alt Mode: Apache-style helicopter
      • Combiner Part: Back & wings
    • Pyro Spark – after being saved by Optimus Prime when he was still a cadet, Pyro Spark began to worship Optimus as a hero, and even went so far as to modify his robot mode to better resemble the noble Autobot. Pyro joined the Wreckers in hopes that the heroic team would help him become a better soldier, but has since learned it’s not the glorious job he was told it was. Now he clings onto his Optimus-inspired persona in hopes of retaining his morals, and only stays on the team for fear of being shamed should he quit.
      • Inspiration: IDW Pyro
      • Alt Mode: Fire Truck
      • Combiner Part: Hips and legs
    • Combined Form: Ruination – hulking and ogre-like, Ruination has all the brash cockiness and violent tendencies of his component parts and almost none of the brains. A brutish thug, in many ways Ruination is even harder to control than the Dinobot combiner Slammoth, and creating the gestalt is one of the few experiments Brainstorm actually regrets.
    • Other Notes: I can’t speak authoritatively on their original appearance in Marvel Comics, but as far as I can tell, the Wreckers began as a team of Autotbot Loose Canons who Don’t Play By the Rules but Get Results, i.e. typical action movie protagonists. In IDW’s comics, the public at large thinks the Wreckers are Loose Canons who Don’t Play By the Rules but Get Results, while in actuality the Wreckers are loose canons who commit horrendous warcrimes and have a tendency to either die young or go mad from the horrors they’ve seen and inflicted. Then, in Transformers Prime, the Wreckers were portrayed as loose canons who commit war crimes but everyone around them thinks that’s super awesome or at least acceptable so long as it gets results. I decided to go the IDW approach and, like, hammer it in really hard with a big fucking anvil, because if you can’t tell, I think cocky “heroes” who just LOVE killing people indiscriminately by any means necessary kinda suck.
  • The Elite Guard – a group of high ranking and well respected Autobot soldiers who take on high profile missions fo the Autobot Republic of Cybertron.
    • Elita One – once a fellow classmate of Optimus Prime in the Autobot Military Academy, Elita One rose through the ranks of the Autobot hierarchy to become a member of the Elite Guard. She is just as skilled a warrior as Optimus, albeit just a bit more selfish and pragmatic – which, to be fair, is true of almost all people. Though she can come off as a little snobbish at first, Elita One is heroic in her own right and has a great deal of compassion for others.
      • Inspiration: G1 Elita One
      • Alt Mode: Cessna-style light aircraft
      • Combiner Part: Torso
    • Override – a dardevil who’s infatuated with her own speed and acrobatic skills, Override loves to show off. Though her bravado can be a bit grating, she earned her place on the Elite Guard because of her dedication to helping others. The fact that she manages pull off all her heroic acts in such a daring and spectacular fashion is an added bonus.
      • Inspiration: Unicron Trilogy Override
      • Alt Mode: Racecar
      • Combiner Part: Right arm
    • Moonracer – the stealth expert of the team, Moonracer is quiet and withdrawn. She’s thankful her extroverted team mates take so much attention off of her, as she struggles to open up to strangers. However, when she’s around people she trusts, Moonracer is incredibly talkative, and often has valuable insights.
      • Inspiration: G1 Moonracer
      • Alt Mode: Motorcycle
      • Combiner Part: Left arm
    • Flareup – boisterous and loud, Flareup is up for almost anything all the time, from friendly competitions of strength to violent brawls. The brawny Autobot revels in her physical strength and her lust for adventure.
      • Inspiration: G1 Firestar & Flareup
      • Alt Mode: Pickup truck
      • Combiner Part: Right leg
    • Anode – though she is technically the team’s medic, Anode is just as foolhardy and adventurous as the rest of her peers, perhaps even moreso. She lives for the thrill of exploring the unknown and facing insurmountable odds, and relishes every opportunity she gets to talk her way out of a tight spot – or, barring that, come up with a cunning plan to pull victory from the jaws of defeat.
      • Inspiration: IDW Anode
      • Alt Mode: Floatplane
      • Combiner Part: Left leg
    • Combined Form: Victorion – intelligent, professional, and sworn to protect others at all costs, Victorion is perhaps the most successful combiner on record, as the close knit team that composes her manages to combine their best qualities into the titan’s psychological makeup. The fact that they are the only combiner made from Brainstorm’s completed formula also helps.
    • Other Notes: Stories like these often have a group of even better good guys show up early on for a cameo before joining the team late in the series to show the stakes are raised. I chose the name “Elite Guard” from the history of crack Autobot teams, and once I realized I also wanted Elita One to be in the series, it seemed like a fun way to also work in a team of all female Autobots ala the G1 cartoon.
  • The Council of Thirteen – i.e. Autobot High Command, these thirteen Autobots run the Autobot Republic of Cybertron as well as the many Autobot colony worlds.
    • Alpha Trion – head of the Autobot Council of Thirteen, Alpha Trion is one of the oldest Autobots living, though he was forged after the Quintessons abandoned Cybertron. Though he tries to be a just leader, the endless war with the Decepticons has taken a toll, and Alpha Trion has allowed many atrocities to be committed under his watch, which he is quick to try and justify.
    • Beta Prima – in charge of foreign policy, Beta Prima concerns herself with Cybertron’s relationship with other advanced civilizations. She is responsible for the peace treaty with the Galactic Council and several other intergalactic neighbors, and strongly advocates for diplomatic solutions to Cybertron’s problems.
    • Leige Maximo – in charge of Cybetron’s defense, Leige Maximo leads the Autobot Military. Like Alpha Trion, he is incredibly old, and his life has practically been defined by the war with the Decepticons. Leige Maximo will not accept peace with them on any terms, believing that Cybertron can only be saved when the Decepticons are utterly blasted from the face of the universe.
    • Tyrest Logos – something of a supreme judge, Tyrest is responsible for interpreting and enforcing Cybertron’s laws, and is responsible for the Tyrest Accords, which helped regulate the war between the Autobots and Decepticons, including the “Robots in Disguise” rule that prevents either faction from revealing the nature of Cybetronians to underdeveloped worlds. Tyrest presents a logical, rule abiding face to the world, but is secretly something of a religious fanatic.
    • Vector Nexus – charged with recording and preserving Cybetron’s history, Vector Nexus plays an important role in Cybertronian culture, and has even been granted diplomatic priveleges by the Decepticons, as both factions understand the value of their past, as there are many lost arts and technologies that the Cybertronian race needs to continue its existence. Vector is one of the most open minded members of the Council of Thirteen, as his research has shown there is more to the war than meets the eye.
    • Epistemus – the council member in charge of health and medicinal development.
    • Solomus – the council member in charge of education.
    • Adaptus – the council member in charge of alt-mode advancement and oversight.
    • Mortilus – the council member in charge of weapons development oversight.
    • Solus – the council member in charge technological research and development.
    • Amalgamous – the council member who represents the needs of cybertronians with non-humanoid robot modes.
    • Micronus – the council member who represents the needs of minicons.
    • Autonomous – the council member in charge of civil rights.
    • Other Notes: All of these guys have alt modes, but they’d never get enough screen time to show them off, so I didn’t bother. Maybe we’d give the top five (i.e. the ones with last names) enough screentime for them to get toys, but with all the other characters here, I doubt it. They’re loosely based on the Thirteen Primes, but adjusted for our “there was no space robot god this time” version of the creation story.
  • Misc. Autobots
    • Pharma – an old friend and peer of Ratchet, Pharma was once a gifted physician, and was considered by many to be the second best medic in the Autobot forces. Unfortunately, envy and ambition led him astray, and Pharma has become something of a deranged mad scientist behind the scenes. The medic now uses his clout to secretly experiment on Autobots, and hopes to one day depose Ratchet as the most gifted Cybetronian surgeon of all time.
      • Inspiration: IDW Pharma
      • Alt Mode: Attack drone (ala Prime Soundwave)
      • Other Notes: There would be a lot of episodes where different Cybetronians visit the main cast as guest stars, often providing a unique conflict when they do so. Pharma here would be in one or two Ratchet focused episodes.
    • Thunderclash – the most decorated general in the Autobot military, Thunderclash is regarded as a paragon of virtue and heroism by almost all Autobots, and even most Decepticons respect him as an enemy. Remarkably, Thunderclash lives up to the hype, but it doesn’t stop some bots (Hot Rod) from hating him anyway.
      • Inspiration: IDW Thunderclash
      • Alt Mode: Semitruck with Trailer
      • Other Notes: I’ve always been enamored of the “Hero of Another Story” concept, and Thunderclash allows us to pull that in by showing another high profile heroic Autobot. He’d be a retool of Ultra Magnus.
    • Devcon – while technically an Autobot, Devcon’s work as a bounty hunter puts him on shaky terms with his own faction, as he has taken Autobot war criminals to Decepticon custody on more than one occasion. He does work within the confines of the Tyrest Accords though, and as such other Autobots have to respect his authority as a bounty hunter, even if he is generally despised for his work.
      • Inspiration: Devcon
      • Alt Mode: Stealth bomber
      • Other Notes: Star Wars has made me inordinately fond of the idea of spacefaring bounty hunters. Yes, Lockdown is on this list too, just wait a bit.

Decepticons:

  • Main Decepticons – Crew of the Darksyde
    • Megatron – a charismatic and eloquent General, Megatron inspires fear, respect, and even admiration in almost all of his troops through his intelligent and intensely pragmatic leadership. He is one of the strongest Decepticons ever forged, which, when combined with his sharp strategic mind, makes him a fearsome adversary. Megatron is a harsh task master, doling out strict punishments for failure, but also rewarding success in equal measure. Though he can be devious, Megatron isn’t quite evil, and even forms a respectful and almost friendly rivalry with Optimus Prime as the series progresses.
      • Inspiration: All Megatrons, but particularly IDW and Armada Megatron (Personality)
      • Alt Mode: Tank
      • Other Notes: IDW’s comics have made me a filthy Megatron/Optimus Prime shipper. They also showed how interesting the idea of a repentant Megatron could be. My take on Megatron defangs that idea slightly by making him not completely evil, and thus removes the almost unanswerable moral question of whether he can be forgiven by making him more forgivable. On the other hand, it allows you to have fun team up stories and maybe work towards that romance that James Roberts made me pine for. You’re welcome, Megatron/Optimus shippers. It’s gonna be canon. Fusion Canon.
    • Seekers
      • Air Commander: Starscream – a consummate liar and shameless self promoter, Starscream wants nothing more than to become the new Emperor of the Decepticons, and is eager to backstab everyone who gets in even the general vicinity of his way.
        • Inspiration: All Starscreams
        • Alt Mode: Fighter jet
        • Other Notes: If Starscream ain’t broke, don’t fix him.
      • Cyberwarp – a seeker under Starscream’s command, Cyberwarp has stronger moral scruples than most of her fellow Decepticons, and specifically doesn’t want to harm the native inhabitants of Earth. Though she is loyal to her comrades, Cyberwarp has doubts about the Decepticon cause.
        • Inspiration: G1 Thundercracker, RID Cyberwarp
        • Alt Mode: Fighter jet
        • Other Note: I’d like to thank RID (2015) for providing a heroic pacifistic female Decepticon jet who fills the “worried they might be doing the wrong thing” role while also making it feasible to have a female seeker since she can then be retooled into…
      • Slipstream – acerbic to the extreme, Slipstream enjoys nothing more than verbally lambasting others, and prefers fighting with words to actual combat. She is particularly fond of tearing down her boss, and secretly believes she would make a better Air Commander. Sarcasm is her primary language.
        • Inspiration: G1 Skywarp, Animated Slipstream
        • Alt Mode: Fighter jet
        • Notes: Yes, Slipstream is a retool of Cyberwarp. She also fills the “capricious prankster seeker who doesn’t really give a shit about the cause” role that Skywarp filled, allowing us to basically have the classic Seeker trio but, y’know, without them all being copies of Starscream.
      • Sunstorm – an optimist and a flatterer, Sunstorm is also something of a nutcase, believing that the end of days is coming soon and that all Cybertronians will be forced to stand against the jaws of “the World Eater.” He may know more than anyone realizes…
        • Inspiration: G1 and Animated Sunstorm
        • Alt Mode: Fighter jet
        • Notes: But we do have to have ONE retool of Starscream, and Sunstorm’s weird religious fanaticism is so fun to play with.
    • Security Personnel
      • Chief of Security: Banzaitron – though he claims to abide by the Decepticon code of Honor, Banzaitron is a sadist at heart who lusts for the violence of mortal combat. He can be affable and charismatic in his interactions, but Banzaitron’s true goal is always conflict, the more vicious the better. He hates nothing more than a peaceful solution, and is always looking for the next fight.
        • Inspiration: G1 Bludgeon
        • Alt Mode: Tank
        • Other Notes: Look, Banzaitron is just a way cooler name.
      • Cyclonus – an honorable warrior, Cyclonus abhors dirty tactics and refuses to fight weak opponents. Easy victories are shameful in his eyes, as are cheap tricks. He is one of the few Decepticons who actually abides by the Decepticon code of honor, and is the noblest soldier among the main Decepticons.
        • Inspiration: IDW Cyclonus & BW Dinobot (personality)
        • Alt Mode: Space-jet
        • Other Notes: Dinobot’s character arc in Beast Wars remains one of the best story telling moments in the history of the franchise, and it befuddles me that so few Transformers stories since then have attemped a similar heel/face turn arc. Cyclonus in More Than Meets the Eye is really the only comparable one I can think of, so he gets to be our Dinobot.
      • Alloygator & Croctocon – forged with bestial robot forms, these two play up their supposedly savage nature for the fear factor, snapping their jaws at their fellow Decepticons and threatening to tear prisoners limb from limb. It’s mostly for show, though, and the pair actually have a rather acerbic wit when left to their own devices, often providing snarky commentary on what the other Decepticons are doing.
        • Inspiration: Skullcruncher & Krok (color schemes & crocodile modes)
        • Robot Modes: Cybertronian crocodiles
        • Alt Modes:Speedboats
        • Notes: Skullcruncher and Razorgrill share the same mold, and are here because the idea of the Decepticons having two big crocodiles in their standard ranks makes me happy.
    • Intelligence Personnel
      • Spymaster: Soundwave – having fought with Megatron for hundreds of years, Soundwave is absolutely loyal to her General, even to the point of disobeying the orders of superiors for the sake of helping Megatron. Despite the inherent sneakiness of her official position, Soundwave is fair to her subordinates and completely disinterested in fighting for power with the other high ranking Decepticons.
        • Inspiration: G1 Cartoon & Prime Soundwave
        • Alt Mode: Stealth jet
        • Other Notes: Soundwave is my favorite of the archetypal/recurring Transformers main characters, and while my view of him is a bit fandom Slytherin-y (i.e. ignoring his more wicked moments and playing up his virtues way more than canon), I stand by it. Blame my piss wizard – I love the idea of “villains” that are just well meaning heroes who have been horribly misled. Soundwave is a fembot here because she’ll be retooled into Shockwave, who in turn is a fembot because, well, because Shockwave’s original design has some feminine qualities.
      • Ravage – an excellent tracker and spy, Ravage is Soundwave’s right hand bot, and one is rarely far from the other. Ravage is quick witted and acerbic, and has a dismal view of almost all Cybertronians, regardless of faction.
        • Inspiration: G1 Ravage
        • Robot Mode: Cybertronian panther
        • Alt Mode: Cybertronian drums
        • Other Notes: If it wasn’t clear, all these no-longer-mini-cassettes are able to talk, because the comics have taught me that can work and be really cool.
      • Laserbeak – despite being a minicon, Laserbeak is a proficient warrior with a vicious streak a mile wide. Fighting with extreme precision and absolutely no mercy, Laserbeak has offlined foes many times his own size, and even landed a critical blow against the titan Omega Supreme.
        • Inspiration: G1 Laserbeak & Buzzsaw
        • Robot Mode: Cybertronian crow
        • Alt Mode: Cybertronian guitar
        • Other Notes: Laserbeak has the cooler name, while Buzzsaw has the cooler track record. Fusing them was logical.
      • Ratbat – formerly a high ranking Decepticon general, Ratbat was forcibly transplanted into a Minicon body by Emperor Galvatron for attempting to usurp him. The minicon is a seething pile of schemes and treachery deep down, but plays a sycophant around his superiors. Despite their similar attitudes, Ratbat and Starscream hate each other.
        • Inspiration: G1 Ratbat
        • Robot Mode: Cybertronian bat
        • Alt Mode: Cybertronian keytar
        • Other Notes: Ratbat, against all expectations, has had numerous stints as leader of the Decepticons, despite being a bat who turns into a cassette tape. That’s just… just wonderful. It must be preserved.
      • Slugfest – originally a Dinobot minicon, Slugfest was befriended by Soundwave and adopted by the Decepticon Spymaster.
        • Inspiration: G1 Slugfest
        • Robot Mode: Cybetronian “stegosaurus”
        • Alt Mode: Cybetronian piano
        • Other Notes: I was really tempted to make Soundwave’s dino-minicon Overkill, because he turns into a theropod and I love theropods, but we’ve got three as is and I feel bad for leaving the stegosaurus Dinobot in the lurch, so here we are.
    • Research and Development:
      • Chief Science Officer: Shockwave – Logical to a fault, Shockwave’s loyalty lie with Cybertron itself rather than the Decepticon cause, though even that is abstracted. Shockwave is allied with Megatron out of pragmatism, as she sees the Decepticon army’s resources as invaluable to her efforts to forward development of the Cybertronian race. Though not cruel or sadistic, Shockwave doesn’t value individual lives very much, and there is little she won’t do in the name of advancing the Cybertronian race.
        • Inspiration: IDW and Animated Shockwave
        • Alt Mode: Cybertronian jet
        • Other Notes: Shockwave would be an extensive retool of Soundwave, who in this universe is her spark-sister. It’s why they share a suffix.
      • Munitions Expert: Toxitron – a sinister mad scientist, Toxitron makes Shockwave look ethical by comparison. The sadist delights in creating new weapons of all sorts, and has invented several diseases that plague Cybetronians, such as Cosmic Rust, Scraplets, and Gold Plastic Syndrome. Toxitron sees his position as an excuse to indulge his hobby of finding new and innovative ways to torture and kill his fellow Cybertronians, and has even turned his body into a walking bio-hazard to better suit his means. Everyone hates him.
        • Inspiration: Animated Oil Slick
        • Alt Mode: Garbage truck
        • Other Notes: Oil Slick is kind of a weak name, while Toxitron sounds hardcore. Plus a garbage truck is better suited for a bio-hazard themed villain.
    • Medical Personnel:
      • Chief Medical Officer: Knockout – vain and shallow, Knockout often focuses on the appearance of his charges more than their actual physical health, as he believes looking good is more important than being fully functional. He’s also a coward that refuses to take part of combat unless he can be assured no physical harm is inflicted upon his person, as even something as simple as a scratch on his paint job will send him into hysterics.
        • Inspiration: Prime Knockout
        • Alternate Mode: Red sports car
        • Other Notes: Knockout isn’t the first Decepticon medic, but he’s by far the most interesting.
      • Nickel – a minicon, Nickel nonetheless acts commanding and authoritative to her charges, albeit in an almost motherly way. Nickel is an actual pacifist (unlike her boss, Knockout) and deeply cares about the physical health of her charges. Most of the other Decepticons deeply respect and care for Nickel despite her un-intimidating stature.
        • Inspiration: IDW Nickel
        • Alt Mode: Buggy
        • Other Notes: There have been a couple of actually-benevolent Decepticon medics in the franchise’s history, including Nickel’s namesake. For my lighter take on the Decepticons, it was important to have one in the main group.
    • The Warriors Elite
      • Blitzwing – an early experiment in triple-changing, Blitzwing’s personality was left unhinged by the many torturous procedures required to give him his two alt modes. The emotionally unstable Decepticon is unpredictable, being just as likely to let his victims go on a whim as he is to tear them limb from limb. Blitzwing is faintly aware that he isn’t psychologically well, but the destructive needs of the Decepticon Empire have proved to be powerful enablers of his violent behavior. He has an unlikely friendship with Lugnut.
        • Inspiration: Animated Blitzwing, BW Rampage
        • Alt Modes: Jet & tank
        • Other Notes: Jack-o-Lantern face included!
      • Lugnut – huge and loud, Lugnut’s zealous fanaticism for the Decepticon movement is only matched by his ungodly firepower and immense stupidity. Though he is a loyal servant, he’s an utterly guile-less one, being easily tricked and manipulated by cleverer foes. His vocal sycophancy also grates on his allies’ nerves, as most view him as a boot licking toadie. To be fair, they’re not wrong.
        • Inspiration: Animated Lugnut
        • Alt Mode: Bomber
        • Other Notes: Right here is where I’d like to note that while most of the Transformers would have humanoid robot modes, they wouldn’t necessarily be the “human beings in armor” we’re used to. There would be plenty of kind of monstrous looking ones on both teams, including old Lugnut here, who would retain the five eyes, beaked mouth, and pincer claw hands of his Animated incarnation.
      • Strika – one of the most well regarded Decepticon soldiers in history, Strika joined Megatron’s crew at Emperor Galvatron’s insistence, and is supposed to supervise the ragtag misfits under Megatron’s command while making sure the maverick general stays the course. However, the sheer charisma of Megatron has totally swayed her to his side, and Strika is now one of his most loyal soldiers.
        • Inspiration: BM Strika
        • Alt Mode: Six-wheeled military rocket launching vehicle
        • Other Notes: Strika’s personality, story role, and design remain some of the most distinct and unique of any female transformer in the franchise’s history, so her inclusion was a must.
    • Vehicons – the rank and file Decepticons, these young soldiers strive to earn official names and unique, upgraded bodies, as a Decepticon is not given citizenship until they have earned it in the process of their military service. Though they’re significantly weaker than their peers, Vehicons make up for their lack in power with enthusiasm and ambition, as each Vehicon knows it only takes one memorable battle to literally make a name for themselves.
      • Inspiration: Prime Vehicons
      • Alt Mode: Muscle cars
      • Other Notes: Having a big army of mooks is a must (especially since it encourages kids to buy multiple copies of the same toy!). Slaughtering them by the dozen like they did in Transformers Prime is not. Our Vehicons might not be more competent than their Prime counterparts, but their life expectancy will be much higher.
    • Trypticon – An ancient Cybertronian from the days before Autobots and Decepticons, Trypticon is technically a Dinobot, and was a Quintesson experiment in seeing how large they could make their robotic servants. This also makes him a predecessor for titans like Omega Supreme, and the second largest Transformer still alive. Trypticon is almost totally bestial, and can only utter a few monosyllabic words (making the other Dinobots seem eloquent by comparison). What he lacks in brains he makes up for in raw power and anger, as the ancient Transformer is virtually unstoppable once his anger is roused. He was the first of several ancient artifacts gathered by Megatron’s crew on their joureny to reclaim the lost wonders of Cybertron, and becomes Megatron’s first ultimate weapon when the Decepticons figure out how to integrate him into their ship, the Darksyde.
      • Inspiration – G1 Trypticon
      • Dino Mode: Cybertronian Godzilla/Kaiju-saurus
      • Alt Mode: Spaceship
      • Other Notes: Yeah honestly I just love the idea of Trypticon being the Godzilla of Cybertron. I also love the idea of the first season ending in a threeway kaiju battle between him, Omega Supreme, and the Dinobot Combiner Slammoth.
  • Predacons
    • General Notes: formerly Vehicons, the Predacons were given experimental upgraded bodies by Shockwave. Now possessing extreme mass-shifting abilities (i.e. capable of shrinking to the size of terrestrial arthropods) and techno-organic alt modes that disguise their mechanical life signals, the Predacons were meant to be a new generation of Decepticon spies, but instead formed their own splinter faction working for their own ends.
    • Scorponok – though his mannerisms are theatrical and hammy, Scorponok is a devious intellect whose ambitions are boundless and scruples are nonexistent. There is nothing Scorponok wouldn’t risk in pursuit of his goals and no action to wicked or outrageous for him to try so long as it gets him what he wants. He isn’t foolhardy, though, as every risk he takes is carefully calculated, up to and including working with several schemers whose ambitions and methods rival his own. He has no sense of loyalty or honor, and viewes all his “allies” as pawns to be manipulated and discarded once they cease to be useful. His greatest weakness is his pride, as Scorponok cannot help but take gloat over his accomplishments, even if the act of doing so puts them at risk of failure.
      • Inspiration: IDW Scorponok, BW Megatron (Personality)
      • Alt Mode: Scorpion
    • Tarantulas – sadistic and demented, Tarantulas is utterly depraved. The mad scientist not only performs hideous experiments on captives and allies alike, but is prone to eating his fellow Cybertronians. While Tarantulas is aware that his actions aren’t “sane,” he gleefully doesn’t care. However, his manic attitude masks a cunning mind, and beneath his twisted excesses lie a series of schemes to grab power.
      • Inspiration: BW Tarantulas
      • Alt Mode: Tarantula
    • Blackarachnia – a rebel without a cause, Blackarachnia values her own freedom more than anything, and hopes to one day escape the entire Decepticon Empire altogether. She has a great deal of guile and cunning, and is partially successful thanks to the fact that her motvies are far less grand than the other schemers around her – for unlike Scorponok, Starscream, Tarantulas, etc., Blackarachnia doesn’t want power over others, but rather to just have power over herself.
      • Inspiration: BW Blackarachnia
      • Alt Mode: Black widow
      • Notes: Retool of Tarantulas
    • Waspinator – the universe hates Waspinator. He isn’t particularly bright or strong, but that doesn’t explain why he is so damn unlucky, and the poor bug-bot spends more time in a CR chamber recuperating than he does in the field. Though he tries to be an effective soldier, Waspinator’s misfortune keeps him from making his mark, and at this point he is defined by his own self-pity.
      • Inspiration: All Waspinators
      • Alt Mode: Wasp
    • Hardshell – one of the few Decepticons who has become enamored with Earth culture, Hardshell fancies himself a cowboy, and constantly talks about the keisters he has to kick. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem keen on being a heroic cowboy, and is instead just a violent, triggerhappy thug who’s always itching to blast a hole in his enemies. He has no sense of honor or loyalty, and his simple minded ways make him easily manipulated by more ambitious villains within the Decepticon fold.
      • Inspiration: G1 Bombshell (design), BW Quickstrike (personality)
      • Alt Mode: Rhinoceros beetle
    • Antagony – due to a mishap in her reformatting, Antagony’s psyche is mixed with that of an actual ant. She views Scorponok as her “Queen” and the rest of the Predacons as her “colony.” Like a good ant, she is loyal to a fault, and would gleefully give her life to protect her colony from destruction. In a similar vein, she hates all others with a rabid intensity, as any creature that isn’t a part of the colony must be a threat to it.
      • Inspiration: BW Inferno
      • Alt Mode: Ant
      • Notes: Retool of Waspinator
    • Other Notes: I view these guys as the Decepticon’s rival beast team for the Autobots’ Dinobot allies, though they’re also sort of their own separate faction. Scorponok allows us to have our cake and eat it too, distilling the most diabolical elements of Megatrons past into a frightfully competent villain. Tarantulas also brings a wonderful level of crazy – Sins of the Wreckers reminded me how much I missed his utterly depraved style of villainy. Blackarachnia gives us yet another different take on a rebel Decepticon, while Hardshell and Antagony bring two more of my favorite Beast Wars characters into the story, albeit under different names.
  • Constructicons – the result of Shockwave’s attempt to recreate the “Enigma of Combination” based on his study of the Dinobots, four Decepticon builders were used as test subjects to create the first modern combiner in the Decepticon army. The builders were then officially drafted into the military, becoming the quarrelsome quarter known as the Constructicons.
    • Mixmaster – a bossy loudmouth, Mixmaster fancies himself the leader of the Constructicons, though his “grand plans” are generally pretty low-stake – i.e. consuming high grade fuels in large quantities, catcalling sports cars, and generally acting like a robot frat boy. On his own he’s not much of a physical threat, but the raw power of becoming Devastator has proved addictive, and Mixmaster is quick to embrace it despite how monstrous the combiner is.
      • Inspiration: Animated Mixmaster
      • Alt Mode: Cement Mixer
      • Combiner Part: Head
    • Scrapper – a perpetual follower, Scrapper just wants to do his job, get a pat on the back, and drink high grade fuel until he blacks out. He’s easily manipulated by others because he hates interpersonal conflict, and absolutely hates becoming Devastator.
      • Inspiration: Animated Scrapper
      • Alt Mode: Excavator
      • Combiner Part: Right arm
    • Demolisher – as his name implies, Demolisher’s favorite part of being a Constructicon is getting to smash stuff to pieces, and as long as he gets to break things, he’s happy. He loves the destruction he can wreak as Devastator, even if having three other voices in his head is a bit annoying.
      • Inspiration: G1 Bonecrusher
      • Alt Mode: Bulldozer
      • Combiner Part: Left arm
    • Long Haul – having taken other people’s crap since the day he was made a Constructicon, Long Haul is used to following orders from others, even when they don’t make sense or seem needlessly cruel. Long Haul has no strong feelings on becoming Devastator, as it’s really not that different from just being Long Haul.
      • Inspiration: G1 Long Haul
      • Alt Mode: Dump truck
      • Combiner Part: Hips and legs
    • Combined Form: Devastator – while not exactly mindless (indeed, it’s actually a SURPLUS of thought that renders Devastator so volatile), the only thought that Devastator can agree to act on is the urge to destroy any and everything in sight. It is aptly named.
    • Other Notes: One of the few compliments I’ll give Bay’s horrible Transformers movies is that their monstrous, chaotic, assymetrical take on Devastator was REALLY COOL, even if it was hampered by the Bayformers approach to character design (i.e. smother everything in unnecessary detail so it’s hard to tell what the hell you’re looking at). It would be a starting point for this series’ approach to combiner design – rather than make clean, humanoid titans, our combiners would all have an element of monstrousness to them. Some might be closer to the original humanoid combiners (Victorion above, Destron below), and some might be cohesive in their own way (the dragon-like Dinobot combiner Slammoth may not be humanoid, but it would look fairly natural), but still, there’d be more diversity than is normal. Devastator here would be the most monstrous by far though.
  • Combaticons – originally a trio of Decepticon mercenaries, the Combaticons became more than a gang of thugs when Swindle sold them a Combiner upgrade he purchased fron Brainstorm. They forced the arms dealer to take it with them just in case it backfired, and as a result Bruticus was born.
    • Onslaught – a veteran of many Decepticon battles, Onslaught pines for the day when the Decepticon army finally vanquishes their hated Autobot enemies and reclaims their home planet. He’s sure that day will come any day now, and gleefully aims to make as many Autobot corpses as he can to make that day come sooner. Thousands of years of war have taken a toll on him, though, and many note that Onslaught has gotten a little crazy over the years.
      • Inspiration: G1 Onslaught
      • Alt Mode: Anti-aircraft truck
      • Combiner Part: Head & chest
    • Bonecrusher – a good Decepticon soldier, Bonecrusher hates the Autobots more than anything, and even has a necklace of Autobot badges he sometimes wears when he’s feeling fancy. Like Onslaught, he dreams of the day when the Decepticons can take their planet back, though at this point he’s lost all hopes of achieving that dream. Instead Bonecrusher hopes to take down as many Autobots as he can before his own innevitable end.
      • Inspiration: G1 Brawl
      • Alt Mode: Tank
      • Combiner Part: Hips & legs
    • Spinister – though most consider him little more than a dumb brute, Spinister is actually an idiot savant. While it’s true that he’s dumb as a stump when it comes to most subjects, he is unusually skilled at surgery, and pulls double duty as the Combaticons’ field medic and air support.
      • Inspiration: IDW Spinister
      • Alt Mode: Cobra style helicopter
      • Combiner Part: Left arm
    • Swindle – once an Autobot, Swindle is a cybertronian arms dealer who is particularly fond of Decepticons. Though his merchandise is reliable, his business practices lack any ethics, as Swindle does whatever it takes to make the most money. He is eventually drafted into the Decepticons by Onslaught and his Combaticons when they first form Bruticus.
      • Inspiration: G1 and Animated Swindle
      • Alt Mode: Humvee
      • Combiner Part: Right arm
    • Combined Form: Bruticus – with the personality of three mercenaries and one con artist weapons dealer, Bruticus is a triggerhappy thug who can be fiendishly clever on occasion. More than anything, Bruticus loves combat, though he can be swayed from his violent impulses if given the right incentive – or at least directed to a different target.
    • Other Notes: I kinda want these guys to feel like the mercs from Team Fortress 2.
  • Decepticon Justice Division – a group of five Decepticons whose job is to make sure other Decepticons are sufficiently loyal to the cause, punishing those who aren’t with extreme prejudice. Upon hearing that Shockwave had cracked the Enigma of Combination, the DJD demanded to be made into a combiner for the glory of the Decepticon Empire.
    • High Inquisitor Tarn – a well cultured serial killer, Tarn believes that the multiple atrocities he has perpetrated against Decepticon and Autobot alike are all justified, as they are necessary evils to bring about the glorious reign of the Decepticon Empire. He hates organics and Autobots with a passion, but hates “treasonous” Decepticons most of all, as nothing is more shameful than betraying the Decepticon cause.
      • Inspiration: IDW Tarn
      • Alt Mode: Cybertronian Tank
      • Combiner Part: Torso
    • Inquisitor Vos – deeply religious, Vos only speaks in the Primal Vernacular (the language of the Quintessons). He’s the most enigmatic of the DJD, and has truly disquieting methods of torture at his disposal.
      • Inspiration: IDW Vos
      • Alt Mode: Cybertronian canon
      • Combiner Part: Right arm
    • Inquisitor Kaon – the “good cop” of the DJD, Kaon pretends to be sympathetic and caring when interrogating his victims, only slipping into torture mode once he feels he’s sufficiently built up their trust.
      • Inspiration: IDW Kaon
      • Alt Mode: Cybertronian car (designed to restrain and shock other Cybertronians)
      • Combiner Part: Left arm
    • Inquisitor Helex – though he’d insist he’s just doing his job, Helex is as much of a sadist as his colleagues. One torture he delights in involves removing the brain module of his victims and place it in their mouths, forcing them to literally eat their treasonous thoughts.
      • Inspiration: IDW Helex
      • Alt Mode: Cybertronian mobile smelting pool
      • Combiner Part: Right Leg
    • Inquisitor Tesarus – Tesarus is the only DJD member with no delusions about what he is. He knows he’s a cold blooded murderer and revels in every minute of it.
      • Inspiration: IDW Tesarus
      • Alt Mode: Cybertronian mobile metal grinder
      • Combiner Part: Left Leg
    • Combined Form: Destron – United by their zealousness for the Decepticon cause and sadistic tendencies, Destron is the ideal Decepticon soldier. Strong, enormous, resilient, and dedicated to annihilating the Autobots, Destron is the most fiendishly intelligent combiner in the Decepticon ranks, and a terror to all who behold him on the battlefield.
    • Other Notes: Unlike their comic counterparts, the full extent of this DJD’s villainy would be implied rather than shown in grisly detail, but they’d still fulfill an important role as the villains that other villains fear.
  • Decepticon Heavy Brigade
    • Sixshot – the leader of the DHB, Sixshot is a nigh-invincible Decepticon soldier and the pinnacle of multi-alt-mode technology, sporting six total modes in all. Versatile, competent, and deadly, there are few challenges Sixshot can’t overcome, which may be why he’s so damn bored and dispassionate all the time. The multi-mode Decepticon wishes he could be thrilled again, but every new victory proves to incredibly dull that he can’t help but feel depressed.
      • Inspiration: G1 Six Shot (personality), RID Megatron/Gigatron (design)
      • Alt Modes: Cybertronian dragon, jet, racecar, Cybertronian elephant, giant hand
    • Tidalwave – one of the largest Decepticons ever forged, Tidalwave was designed as a Titan-killer, though he isn’t as large as Autobot Titans like Omega Supreme. Single-minded and easily frustrated, Tidalwave isn’t quite dumb muscle, but he is far from the greatest mind the Decepticons have to offer.
      • Inspiration: Unicron Trilogy Tidal Wave
      • Alt Mode: Aircraft carrier
    • Blackout – another abnormally large Decepticon, Blackout was a more successful Titan-killer than Tidalwave despite being somewhat smaller, as he ultimately proved to have a better grasp of anatomy and battle tactics. Though his current work under Sixshot isn’t quite as thrilling as hunting the largest Transformers ever made, Blackout takes it all in stride, and is a dependable Decepticon warrior.
      • Inspiration: Movie & Animated Blackout
      • Alt Mode: Sea knight style helicopter
    • Other Notes: Like the Elite Guard, these three would appear in a few cameo episodes early on, before joining the main Decepticons for good late in the series to show that the stakes have been well and truly raised.
  • Galvatron’s Imperial Court
    • Galvatron, Emperor of Destruction – a mad tyrant, Galvatron believes the Decepticons are destined to rule the universe, and will do anything he deems necessary to reach that glorious future. His imperialistic aspirations are hampered by his depravity, as Galvatron’s rule has twisted the Decepticons into a treacherous group of selfish despots-in-waiting. Galvatron’s rule is kept in place by his immense power and complete lack of inhibitions, as everyone in the mad tyrant’s presence knows they are just one fleeting thought away from being hit with the wrong end of the dictator’s fusion canon.
      • Inspiration: G1 Galvatron, Prime Megatron
      • Alt Mode: Cybertronian spaceship
    • General Straxus – the closest thing Galvatron has to a friend, Straxus desperately tries to rein in Galvatron’s insanity. This isn’t because Straxus is a good person, of course, but rather because Straxus actually wants the Decepticon Empire to succeed in its goals, and knows it cannot do so unless Galvatron acts at least a little stable. Straxus is just as cruel as his Emperor and has wicked plans for the Autobots and the universe at large, but his cruelty is tempered with a practical mindset that his master sorely needs.
      • Inspiration: G1 Straxus
      • Alt Mode: Cybertronian spider-tank
    • General Jhiaxus – Galvatron’s pet mad scientist, Jhiaxus’s experiments are bold even by Decepticon standards, and his ethics are completely nonexistent. Worryingly, Jhiaxus has been probing into the ancient history of his kind, and may have made contact with some of the Quintesson’s more unsavory creations…
      • Inspiration: G1 Jhiaxus
      • Alt Mode: Cybertronian jet
    • Other Notes: If Megatron is all that’s noble in most Decepticon leaders, and Scorponok all that is wicked, then Galvatron is all that is batshit crazy, a frothing madman whose insane dreams are running his people into the ground by making their lives an endless war. Straxus and Jhiaxus are his enablers and exploiters, making a villainous trifecta that we can pretty comfortably blame stoking the more negative aspects of Decepticon culture. The Decepticons are rebels at heart, and the only way they can redeem themselves is through a second, more positive rebellion, and for that they need someone to rebel against. That’s where these three come in.
  • Misc. Decepticons
    • Overlord Gigatron – a General of equal rank as Megatron, Overlord Gigatron has officially rebelled against Galavatron and the rest of the Decepticon Imperial Court. Though he claims he wants to pull off a successful coup, Overlord’s actions show his real goal is just to spread chaos as much as possible, often without any regard for his own life. Overlord seeks a challenge more than anything, which is why he often returns to bother Megatron, as the Decepticon General always proved more than a match for Overlord in the past. Indeed, one of Overlord’s fondest wishes is to finally prove his superiority to Megatron once and for all.
      • Inspiration: IDW Overlord
      • Alt Mode: Cybertronian Tank/jet hybrid
      • Other Notes: IDW’s Overlord is a terrifying villain and I think it’s a waste not to include him.
    • Kilotron – founder of the Decepticon movement, Kilotron is long dead by the time our story starts, but his legacy lives on. He was the first Decepticon to rebel against the Quintesson and famously concieved the movement’s arc words, “You are being decieved.”
      • Inspiration: IDW Megatron, Megatronus/the Fallen
      • Alt Mode: Cybetronian tank
      • Other Notes: Honestly, this is mostly an excuse to point out how 1. kilo < mega < giga is a thing, 2. there’s a bit of a precedent of having a second big bad decepticon named Gigatron in stories that have Megatrons, and 3. Kilotron is a badass sounding name.

Forces of Unicron

  • Unicron – the ultimate Quintesson doomsday weapon, Unicron was made to destroy Cybetron in retaliation for the Decepticon uprising. However, the first activation of the device proved catastrophic, as Unicron was immediately hostile to his masters. The monstrous transformer destroyed the second Quintesson homeworld and scatters his creators across the Cosmos before his energon reserves thankfull ran low. Forced into stasis lock, the colossal transformer currently lies in wait while his five minions scour the Universe for a means to reactivate their dread master.
    • Inspiration: All Unicrons
    • Alt Mode: Death star-esque war world
    • Other Notes: Unicron can be a really effective villain when used as the climax of the series. He gets undercut if you use him as the threat for your first season, though – you really need to build him up, first of all, and dear god how can you top fighting a living goddamn planet?
  • Terrorcons – the knights of Unicron, these five transformers were made to aid the colossal transformer in his destruction of Cybertron. They followed their orders too well, helping their master wage war on his creators, and now search the universe for a means to reawaken the Chaos Bringer once more.
    • Thrustor – Herald of Unicron, Thrustor is a fast talking con artist skilled in making Faustian bargains on his boss’s behalf. The cunning robot may not be much of a physical threat, but makes up for his lack of fighting prowess by crafting devious schemes.
      • Inspiration: Armada Thrust
      • Alt Mode: Cybertronian Motorcycle
    • Nemesis Prime – Knight of Conquest, Nemesis Prime reformats himself to imitate the shape of great warriros, and currently wears the face of Optimus Prime. He conquers and subjugates others for the sake of Unicron, creating vast legions of slave warriors for his wicked master.
      • Inspiration: RID Scourge, Nemesis Prime
      • Alt Mode: Semi truck cab
    • Shockaract – Knight of War, Shockaract causes strife and discord whereever he goes, either with his words or, should that prove too difficult, with the anger-inspiring toxin called Angolmois. By seeding conflict, Shockaract makes the enemies of Unicron turn upon themselves, making it easier for his master to destroy them in turn.
      • Inspiration: Shockaract
      • Alt Mode: AT-ST-like bipedal war machine
    • Thunderwing – Knight of Plague, Thunderwing studies the biology of Unicron’s foes and develops potent pathogens to weaken and kill them. He also attacks environments, rendering the homelands of Unicron’s enemies uninhabitable.
      • Inspiration: IDW Thunderwing
      • Alt Mode: Quintesson spacecraft
    • Violen Jiger – Knight of Death, Violen Jiger’s job is simple: kill as much as possible. He excels at it.
      • Inspiration: Violen Jiger
      • Alt Mode: Quintesson warship
    • Other Notes: Yeah these guys are a little flat, but they’re the robotic Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Do they really need to be more than that?

Unaligned Transformerss

  • Sideways – a transformer of unknown allegiance, Sideways works with both Autobots and Decepticons when it suits him, but always seems to be working toward his own agenda. Sideways is actually a new creation of the Quintessons, and has rebelled against his masters in order to stop the rise of Unicron.
    • Inspiration: Armada Sideways, BM Thrust (design)
    • Alt Mode: Motorcycle
    • Other Notes: I really liked it when we didn’t know what Sideways’ goal was in Transformers Armada, and was disappointed when he turned out to just be evil. I’m a huge fan of trickster characters, which is what Sideways felt like until her turned out to be just a standard doomsday villain. So why not try out a true trickster Sideways?
  • Lockdown – Formerly an Autobot, Lockdown is a bounty hunter/mercenary who constantly upgrades himself, often with parts from the perpetrators he’s sent to capture and/or kill. Though he gets most of his jobs from the Decepticons, he works within the confines of the Tyrest Acords, which means he technically isn’t a criminal by Autobot standards. Tends to end his sentences with a question, yes?
      • Inspiration: Animated Lockdown, Death’s Head
      • Alt Mode: Muscle car
      • Other Notes: See? I told you he’d be here!
  • Skybyte – a non-Cybertronian creation of the Quintesson Empire, Skybyte is an escaped sharkticon who wants to write poetry. Though both sides initially try to recruit him, he remains a free agent, and is somewhat blissfully unaware of how serious the conflict between Autobot and Decepticons really is. He gets along well with the Dinobots.
    • Inspiration: RID Sky-Byte, Animated Wreck Gar
    • Alt Mod: Space-shark
    • Other Notes: I love the idea of a harmless yet powerful neutral character being thrown into a conflict and just not giving a shit about it, and it felt like a good place for Skybyte. Plus how could I say no to a haiku-writing shark?
  • Swindle – see Combaticons above

Finally, let’s have a basic summary of how the three seasons of this show would go. Yeah, just three – that’s about how long a Transformers TV series lasts on average, and I think the best stories are told with an ending in mind.

Season Arcs

Season 1 – More Than Meets the Eye

The Lost Light, an Autobot research and exploration vessel, discovers the Autobot criminal Whirl floating out in space. Raving, Whirl claims to have found a remote planet full of Cybertronian artifacts, and that someone is coming for him. Sure enough, the Darksyde, an enormous Decepticon warship run by the infamous General Megatron, approaches the Lost Light and demands that they return Whirl to their custody. The two ships come to blows and crashland on the very planet Whirl talked about: Earth. Bound by the Tyrest Accords, both crews take on disguises based on earth vehicles and scour the planet for the lost artifacts in hopes of ending the war between their factions once and for all. Towards the end of the season, both factions discover that the planet is home to primitive transformers long though extinct, culminating in a battle between the Autobot aligned Dinobots and the Decepticon controlled titan Trypticon.

Season 2 – Combiner Wars

After learning that the Dinobots can combine at the end of last season, both Autobots and Decepticons alike begin work on unraveling the “Enigma of Combination.” Multiple combiners are made, new Autobot and Decepticon troops from Cybertron are introduced, and the season ends with yet another battle of titans, one so large that it forces both factions to abandon Earth for fear of being discovered. Alongside this main season plot are hints of a greater threat to both factions of Transformers, as well as more discoveries that hint at the true history of Cybertron and its people.

Season 3 – Unicron Rising

Returning to their respective homes after the failed campaign on Earth, both the crew of the Lost Light and the Darksyde find themselves changed by their experiences, and worse, realize that the leaders of their respective factions have gone off the deep end – the Autobots are using a mysterious super-fuel called Dark Energon to revive the long-dead Titans in hopes of destroying the Decepticons once and for all, while the Decepticon Emperor Galvatron has allied himself with a quintet of strange transformers called the Knights of Unicron, all of whom speak of a weapon of unfathomable power out in space. Our two crews learn the truth about the origins of Cybertron, and that Unicron, the most powerful Quintesson creation of all time, will soon destroy their home planet unless they find the ultimate artifact that can be used against it: the Matrix of Leadership. Working together, the crews of the Lost Light and the Darksyde return to Earth one last time to find the Matrix and rally old allies so they can save their planet and, hopefully, end the Great War once and for all.

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