Nobody likes Crankcase, and he hates everybody and everything. Once a geeky collection of circuits and servos, Crankcase began life as a menial janitor in the Fuel-Spill Section of the Ministry of Energy and Nutrition on Cybertron. The bullies of his youth put a huge chip on his shoulder, where he now carries a set of heavy guns. He'd rather use them on those too weak to retaliate, and then laugh in their faces while their energon runs out. This makes him momentarily happy; then he goes back to an endless series of griping complaints about every facet of his miserable existence. A complete jerk and slag-piece, he fits fairly well into the Decepticon military, but adds very little to it. The Autobots certainly wouldn't want him. They already have Gears and Huffer.
- French name (Canada): Grincheux (Grinch)
Marvel Comics continuity
Crankcase was under the command of that vapor-brained Megatron millions of years ago on Cybertron, but they couldn't even beat up a bunch of pipecleaner pacifists right, and completely lost the source of all knowledge and information, the Underbase. Things only got worse after that. Oh sure, we don't know anything that actually happened to Crankcase for over four million years, but they definitely must've gotten worse. In the present day, he had a useless job serving the equally useless Decepticon Triumvirate. What a bunch of bloated losers. Not that Megatron II coming along and blowing them away made things any better...none of the Decepticon leaders could ever accomplish anything lasting, so who Crankcase was serving didn't matter. Then his Triggercon "friends" abandoned him to go running off with some Mayhem Attack Squad. Slag-suckers -- like joining a group with an even stupider name than the Wreckers is going to be some sort of edge in combat. Odds are their commander will end up going mad with power and beat the circuits out of them, anyway.
Later, some pathetic "God" possessed an even-more-pathetic Autobot, and gathered Crankcase with a bunch of other Transformers to battle Unicron. Right -- a swarm of mecha-ants attacking a guy the size of a planet. That's really going to work. Anyway, some Autobot made a really long and self-important speech, picked up some knick-knack he found lying around and yada yada yada someone's probably going to expect Crankcase to clean up the mess. Not a chance.
Some new guy named Bludgeon took over the Decepticons after that, and used the scientific method to pick a new world to plunder. The weak little inhabitants of Klo put up no fight whatsoever, which was really pathetic. Then the Autobots showed up and got massacred, which was even more pathetic. THEN the Autobots all started coming back to life and doing annoying things like caving in Crankcase's entire skull. He knew it would come to this, he just knew it.
Marvel UK future timelines
In 2009, Galvatron brought Crankcase and the Triggercons along with him to destroy an Autobot resistance movement, but he did all the work himself and then told them to stay out of his fight with Rodimus Prime. What was the point of bringing Crankcase along anyway, then?
Another Time and Place
So once Bludgeon realized he was a lousy leader, his brilliant solution was to revive a leader that was even worse: Megatron. Crankcase (having his head un-smooshed by some idiot) got dragged along to Hydrus Four, where Bludgeon had the lame idea of using Nucleon to revitalize their old commander. "Great, another leader who talks with his fists," thought Crankcase. Crankcase was so sure everything would go wrong, he wasn't even impressed when the Decepticons captured the Dinobots with the Holocaust Trigger, and didn't even have to raise a weapon. Big whoop. Oh sure, Crankcase took his turn torturing their captives like all the other Decepticons, but he just knew the Dinobots would get free and ruin everything, he just knew it. So it was no surprise to Crankcase when he came across the Micromaster named Roadhandler about to free Grimlock. The Dinobot commander charged Crankcase and hit him with enough force to embed the Triggercon in the far wall.
Some idiot un-smooshed Crankcase's head, so he remained an active member of Bludgeon's army. That was stupid. It was only a matter of time before he would get injured again, like from Generation 2 Cybertronian acid rain, so what was the point of repairing him? No one ever listens to Crankcase, though, so he went ahead and died when the Cybertronians caved in his chassis.
It figures that Megatron was in charge again by this time. Crankcase had no luck under Megatron before, what chance did either have now? You didn't think they'd win a battle against Jhiaxus, now did you.
IDW comics continuity
Crankcase was stuck on Nebulos with a bunch of other incompetent Decepticon redshirts that quickly got their skidplates handed to them by that Pretender Thunderwing. Yeah, like nobody expected that to happen.
- Crankcase (Triggercon, 1988)
- Crankcase transforms from an 4wd off-road vehicle to a robot with very limited articulation, all located in his shoulders. Similar to the other Triggercons, he has flip-out weaponry, which in his case are two double-barreled laser cannons which deploy from his backpack/shoulders.