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7 Absurd Plotlines from Old-School Transformers Which Challenge Even Michael Bay Sensibilities

7 Absurd Plotlines from Old-School Transformers Which Challenge Even Michael Bay Sensibilities

By Ryan Britt

Paramount Pictures

Being comprehensible isn't something Michael Bay’s Transformers films have ever been accused of, and likely never will. And though most of the movies are written by the formidable duo of Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (they did Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness) the plots, characters, and macguffins of these films generally seem to be supporting players to the explosions. But, not making a whole lot of sense isn’t really in opposition to the Transformers tradition. The 1984 cartoon series had plenty of plots that doubtlessly sent plenty of parents’ hands thwacking against their collective foreheads. Here’s a sample of some that make even less sense than the contemporary films.

Megatron Drains the Heat from the Earth’s Core (“The Core”)

The Decepticons were always trying to get energy, because apparently, they were very wasteful. Of all there cockamamie schemes, this one was always the most memorable: Megatron decided he would deprive the planet Earth of its primary heat source—it’s core! Even the most ridiculous 6th grader is probably vaguely aware the Earth isn’t heated by its core, but don’t tell the Transformers.

Everything With the DinoBots (“S.O.S. DinoBots, et. Al.”)

We’ve mentioned before how the DinoBots wouldn’t fool anyone with their robot-modes, since they don’t look like real dinosaurs, nor would being “disguised” as a real dinosaur be tricky. And their origin story is even more questionable. Deciding a group of giant robots the size of cars, trucks, and airplanes just aren’t strong enough, the Autobots figure they could use some more brute strength and thus, the DinoBots are born. Funnily, the debut DinoBot episode was written by Donald Glut who will forever accidentally be immortalized as being the person who wrote the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back. Would you trust Star Wars with a DinoBot?

Starscream’s Ghost Haunts the Future (“Ghost in the Machine”)

After Transformers: The Movie, the third season of the cartoon switched to the futuristic (2005!) setting from the film. This also meant it incorporated the continuity of all the various “classic” Transformers having been killed off. The whiny, scheming Starscream was one of the bad-guys blown-to-bits, but here his robot-ghost comes back to life. You’ve really got to hand it to Transformers: they seemingly went from inventing the genre of robot ghosts to ruining said genre in like 23 minutes.

Optimus Prime Sees Red (“The Return of Optimus Prime”)

Another character killed off in Transformers: The Movie was, controversially, Optimus Prime. However, in a bizarre two-part episode, the famous diesel-powered star gets resurrected while everyone around him acts insane. A kind of violence illness which infects people and robots starts causing everyone to lose their cool on each other. The unsubtle way this was depicted was by having a character become completely red. Even in Looney Tunes episodes, it seems like they’d just do the faces of really angry people in red. But in this Transformers episode everything is covered in red: clothes too!

Rodimus Prime Goes Into the Matrix (“Five Faces of Darkness”)

Leading the Autobots in the next generation was Rodimus Prime, who randomly transformed into a supped-up sportscar… with a trailer. (Having a trailer attached to you proved you were a leader? Something about the symbolism of hauling a heavy load?) Anyway, in a super-abimtious 5-part episode (yes a five-parter, on a kid’s show!) Rodimus Prime needs some answers as to how to save the Transformers, so he literally goes into the Matrix. Now, this isn’t the 1999 Keanu Reeves Matrix, but it may as well be, insofar as Rodimus is interacting in a virtual computer memory world, talking to old-school, long-dead transformers. It’s also called “the Matrix.” (For another fun pre-Matrix Matrix, check out the classic Doctor Who FOUR-parter, “The Deadly Assassin.”)

The Transformers Homage Mark Twain (“A Decepticon Raider in King Arthur’s Court”)

In an episode in which Optimus Prime does not appear, a bunch of the Transformers get sent back to medieval times and “funny” fairytale hijinks ensue. A lot of cartoons have weird fish-out-of-water episodes or attempts to homage classic older stories, but here it really felt like they were writing episodes while being hit in the head with sandbags. This one does beg one question however: what would Mark Twain transformer into if he could?

A Giant Planet that Eats Planets is Really a Robot (Transformers: The Movie)

The 1986 magnum opus of the Transformers featured everyone’s greatest foe yet: Unicron. Neither Decepticon nor Autobot, Unicron was a planet-sized and shaped robot that liked eating other planets. Initially depicted as a planet with fangs and rings, Unicron soon reveals he can turn into a robot who can crush the moon with this hands. But why would such a thing need giant hands, legs, and a head? Considering Unicron’s giant mouth never moves, the existence of his face is questionable too. But, hey, he was played by Orson Wells!

What’s your favorite Transformers’ plotline? Which one actually makes the most sense?

Tags: movies, tv, toys, stories, transformers

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About the Author
Ryan Britt

Ryan Britt's writing has appeared with The New York Times, Omni Reboot, Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Crossed Genres, Story Magazine, The MindHut and elsewhere. He's performed stories on stage with The Moth, The Liar Show, and is the curator of two reading series; Lust for Genre and The HiFi Reading Series. He teaches at The Gotham Writers' Workshop and lives in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @ryancbritt.

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