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The Transformers (cartoon)

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Specifics: Decepticon Headquarters


G1Season1Logo

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... WHOOPS! Wrong show.

More than any other of the many media which Transformers have invaded in the past 20+ years, it is The Transformers, the original cartoon that ran from 1984 to 1987, which captured the imagination of adults who used to be children and children-at-heart worldwide back in the 80s.

Overview

Cybertronplanet

Depleted of energy... aside from the power source that lights up the entire core of the planet.

The cartoon (along with the Marvel comics) set up the basic story of Transformers that most other incarnations were to follow: two warring factions of robots on the planet Cybertron leave in search of resources. The factions crash-land on Earth and, millions of years later, begin their battle anew in Reagan-era America and across the globe.

Once established, the cartoon rarely took any steps to upset its status quo. Plots generally centered on a Decepticon plot or invention of the week, which would be used to gather energy or Defeat The Autobots FOREVER!!, and the Autobots' efforts to stop the plan. Most of the time the Decepticons were forced into retreat, and the Autobots drove off victorious. At most, a new character or team was added to one side or the other. Plots became a bit less formulaic during Season 3, though character death and true plot upheaval remained a rarity.

Through its 98-episode run, this series took viewers around the globe and to many strange places and times: across the alien Cybertron, the Earth's prehistoric past, the Earth's then-future of 2005, the Metropolis-like society of Nebulos, and more. It is not the best animated series ever to air, but it stimulated viewers with its concept at the time, and continued to do so in the years to come.

Franchise navigation:
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TRANSFORMERS-GENERATION-1-transformers-generation-1-24283358-288-231

The Autobots

Production

CrashedArk1

Nobody on Earth noticed this for millions of years.

Writing and distribution for this series were handled as a joint effort by Marvel Productions and Sunbow Productions. Animation was produced overseas, primarily by Toei and AKOM.

The original 30 or so characters were heavily modified from their toy designs for aesthetics and ease of animation. Among the artists involved in the original designs are Shōhei Kohara and Floro Dery. Other known production artists include Dell Barras, who worked on second season backgrounds.

Story editors for the series included Dick Robbins, Bryce Malek, Flint Dille, Marv Wolfman, and Steve Gerber. Episode scripts were written by a large array of freelance writers. Writers notable for writing numerous episodes include Donald F. Glut and David Wise.

The series was animated on an enormously rushed schedule, due to the need to get episodes on the air in sync with the toys appearing on shelves. That, combined with the vast number of characters (over 100 characters in the first two seasons alone) and the difficulties involved with the overseas animation process, resulted in a cartoon that is notoriously riddled with animation errors and other mistakes. The producers were often aware of these mistakes, but tight deadlines left them no time to correct them.

ShockwaveDesertionOfTheDinobots1

My toy's so great, I bought one myself!

Another byproduct of the rushed production is that the show tends not to be very self-referential. Continuity between episodes is minimal, with most acting as self-contained, standalone stories, though a few Season Two and Season Three stories did build on previous episodes. Within each season, the addition of new characters is the only common change to the status quo.

Mistakes or not, the show is fondly remembered by many fans for the high quality of its voice acting. Indeed, many characters, lacking any significant plot developments or screen time, were brought to life solely by their unique voices and inflection styles. Voice direction for the series was provided by Wally Burr, notorious for driving his performers to the limit. One of the performers in his stable, Susan Blu, would later go on to work as voice director for Beast Wars, Beast Machines, and Transformers Animated.

RollForIt Spacebridge recieves

Looks safer than flying United.

The sinister voice of Victor Caroli provided narration for the entire series, most commonly heard on the commercial bumpers: "The Transformers will return after these messages!" Caroli's voice also provided occasional introductory narration, recap segments for multi-part episodes, and the Secret Files of Teletraan II segments which ran before the credits of Season 3.

In addition to the show's iconic theme song, Transformers featured a great variety of background music, composed by Robert J. Walsh. Walsh had previously worked on the G.I. Joe cartoon, and many of those pieces were reused for Transformers. New pieces were composed as well, many incorporating the melody of the show's theme song. Walsh composed new music for 2nd and 3rd seasons, each in a different style, further distinguishing the three main seasons from one another.

During the show's run a number of Public Service Announcements were made for the series, similar to the ones found in G.I. Joe (complete with the famous tagline "And Knowing is half the Battle!"), were produced. These were never aired, but can be found in the Armada-based PS2 game.


Episodes

Note: These episodes are listed in production order rather than original airdate. In a few instances, this means that episodes are not in the correct chronological story order, the specifics of which are noted in their own articles. Note that Season 3, in particular, suffers from this—the Kid Rhino DVD release of the season reordered the episodes in question so that they were in order, but also reordered many episodes that did not have any placement problems, throwing off the whole shebang. Conversely, the Region 2 Metrodome release of the season just reorganized the problematic ones.
For further information, see: List of Generation One episodes

Season 1: 1984

DinobotsG1

Remember those dinosaur guys? Man, they were awesome.

The first season is primarily set on Earth, with a few excursions to Cybertron. It started with the 1984 toys as its characters, and introduced the early wave of 1985 toys as it progressed—the Constructicons, Dinobots, Insecticons, and Skyfire.

Season 2: 1985

Master builders prime basketball

Didn't they make Optimus Prime play soccer or something once? Man, that was dumb.

The very long second season greatly expanded the cartoon's scope and cast. The second season tends to feature more character-driven episodes than the first season, with many characters getting their own "spotlight" episode. It also features a recurring theme of the Autobots assimilating Earth culture, such the Autobots playing basketball and football and even watching a soap opera. Excursions to alien civilizations popped up occasionally as well. The second season also saw the introduction of concepts and characters that would spread out to other fictions, including the mystic Alpha Trion, the ancient Vector Sigma supercomputer and its circuit key, and the first appearance of Female Transformers within official fiction.

The second season also marked a move from weekly airings (usually on Saturday mornings) to a "stripped" show, aired Monday through Friday, either in the morning or afternoon. Some markets also scheduled it in conjunction with daily episodes of G.I. Joe.

Season Two breaks down very roughly into three segments:

  • The first dozen episodes feature (primarily) the Season One cast.
  • A large second batch of episodes brings in the remainder of the 1985 toys.
  • The final ten episodes introduce the four combiner teams that formed the early entries in the 1986 line.


  1. "Autobot Spike"
  2. "Changing Gears"
  3. "City of Steel"
  4. "Attack of the Autobots"
  5. "Traitor"
  6. "The Immobilizer"
  7. "The Autobot Run"
  8. "Atlantis, Arise!"
  9. "Day of the Machines"
  10. "Enter the Nightbird"
  11. "A Prime Problem"
  12. "The Core"
  13. "The Insecticon Syndrome"
  14. "Dinobot Island, Part 1"
  15. "Dinobot Island, Part 2"
  16. "The Master Builders"
  17. "Auto Berserk"
  18. "Microbots"
  19. "Megatron's Master Plan, Part 1"
  20. "Megatron's Master Plan, Part 2"
  21. "Desertion of the Dinobots, Part 1"
  22. "Desertion of the Dinobots, Part 2"
  23. "Blaster Blues"
  24. "A Decepticon Raider in King Arthur's Court"
  25. "The Golden Lagoon"
  26. "The God Gambit"
  27. "Make Tracks"
  28. "Child's Play"
  29. "The Gambler"
  30. "Quest for Survival"
  31. "The Secret of Omega Supreme"
  32. "Kremzeek!"
  33. "Sea Change"
  34. "Triple Takeover"
  35. "Prime Target"
  36. "Auto-Bop"
  37. "The Search for Alpha Trion"
  38. "The Girl Who Loved Powerglide"
  39. "Hoist Goes Hollywood"
  40. "The Key to Vector Sigma, Part 1"
  41. "The Key to Vector Sigma, Part 2"
  42. "War Dawn"
  43. "Trans-Europe Express"
  44. "Cosmic Rust"
  45. "Starscream's Brigade"
  46. "The Revenge of Bruticus"
  47. "Aerial Assault"
  48. "Masquerade"
  49. "B.O.T."

Intermediate

Tftm1986b

Can you imagine being six years old, going to the movie theatre, and, on the big screen, witnessing the beating and death of Santa Claus? That's what this was like!

The Transformers: The Movie is in continuity with the cartoon series, occurring 20 years after the end of Season 2. It was the single biggest turning point for the series, and remains controversial. The movie saw the introductions of Unicron, the Quintessons, and the Matrix of Leadership, all of which would play important roles in Season 3. It made radical changes to the show's cast, killing off many characters and introducing new ones—a shock to young viewers who were used to their heroes driving off into the sunset at the end of every adventure.

Despite its unconventional place in the cartoon canon, it remains the best-known representation of the cartoon series among fans.

Season 3: 1986

Intro3 4 with error

They didn't make any more cartoons after the movie. Yeah, the movie totally killed Transformers.

Season 3 transformed the whole premise of the show. Gone were the two teams stranded on Earth, along with many of the characters that composed those teams. In their place was a galaxy-spanning tale of battles on alien worlds. With the Autobots in firm control of Cybertron, the Decepticons, though still a threat, were somewhat reduced as villains; new enemies in the form of the Quintessons were introduced. Plots often centered on the ultra-powerful city bots, Metroplex and Trypticon.

Season 3 has a mixed reputation. It contains some of the most mistake-laden episodes of the entire franchise ("Five Faces of Darkness", "Carnage in C Minor", the introduction sequence at left) most of which can be laid at the feet of AKOM. But some of its episodes are among the best as well, both in animation and scripting; "Dark Awakening", "Chaos", "Webworld", "Dweller in the Depths" and of course "Call of the Primitives" are all heavy fan favorites.

Late in Season 3, as in Season 2, the forerunners of the 1987 toy line were introduced: the Terrorcons, Technobots, and Throttlebots, and (very briefly) the cassettes Slugfest and Overkill. The season concluded with the resurrection of Optimus Prime, spurred on by a massive campaign on the part of fans, who were displeased by his death and subsequent "evil" resurrection.

Season 4: 1987

Bumblebee and Goldbug

They kept making the toys? But weren't those like, the ones that couldn't transform or something?

How the truncated Season 4 came about remains a mystery, though presumably the short version is that Hasbro pulled out its funding support. Whether anything further was ever planned is not known; see Urban legends about Transformers for more.

As it is, the "season" consisted of a single three-part episode, that somewhat hastily brought in thirty or so new Transformer characters as well as Nebulan partners for 22 of them, and attempted to provide a satisfactory conclusion to the series as a whole.

The previous three seasons each feature fully original opening credits. For Season 4, however, the opening credit sequence is a mishmash of existing animation, combining high-quality animation sequences from some of the 1986 and 1987 toy commercials with segments of the Season 3 and Transformers 2010 opening credits, which were of a visibly different art style.

  1. "The Rebirth, Part 1"
  2. "The Rebirth, Part 2"
  3. "The Rebirth, Part 3"

Season 5: 1988

Season 5 did not feature any new episodes, but rather consisted of 15 episodes from the previous seasons and The Transformers: The Movie broken up into five episodes, for a total of 20 episodes. New opening and closing footage was added to each episode, which portrayed an animatronic puppet of Powermaster Optimus Prime meeting regularly with a live-action human named Tommy Kennedy to tell him old Transformers stories.

Regular Cast

Junkion jimmy

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Autobots Decepticons
Autobot Commanders
Autobot Cars
Female Autobots
Mini Vehicles
Dinobots
Computers
Miscellaneous
Autobot Combiner teams


Autobot Mini-Cassettes
Throttlebots
Autobot Triple Changers
Clones

Headmasters

Targetmasters

Decepticon Commanders
Decepticon Seekers
Decepticon Coneheads
Insecticons
Decepticon Mini-Cassettes
Decepticon Triple Changers
Miscellaneous
Decepticon Combiner teams
Battlechargers
Clones

Headmasters

Targetmasters

Horrorcon

Humans Others
Witwicky family
Others
Villains
Quintessons
Nebulons
The Hive

Japanese release

With the success of Transformers proven by Hasbro, Takara elected to cut short their plans for a new Diaclone line in 1985 and import the Transformers toyline and cartoon instead. To play catch-up with Hasbro markets, Takara combined the first two years of toys and cartoon into one series, which was given the excessive (but typical of Japanese cartoons) title of Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers. Although two episodes out of these sixty-five were cut ("Attack of the Autobots" and "Day of the Machines"), an additional nine clip episodes were created, comprised entirely of re-used footage taken from various episodes, bringing the total number of Fight! episodes to seventy-two. Additionally, the broadcast order of the series was significantly reworked, with most of the episodes featuring Jetfire being pushed to the end of the run (presumably owing the character's shaky status as a Bandai toy in Japan).

In 1986, after the release of the OVA Scramble City (but not The Transformers: The Movie, which was not released in Japan until 1989) the series was rebranded as Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers 2010. All thirty episodes from the third season were dubbed for 2010, and two additional clip episodes were produced, bringing the total to thirty-two. The number "2010" was originally added into the title in order to make the series feel more futuristic to the audience. However, "2010" eventually became the year in which the series took place.[January, 2008]

These clip shows include the following:

  • Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers
14. "Birth of the Transformers!"
55. "War Without End"
56. "Desperate Battle on Dinobot Island"
57. "Devastator, the Giant Warrior"
58. "Neverending Struggle"
69. "Earth's Greatest Crisis"
70. "Seek the Cybertonium "
71. "Stunticons vs. Aerialbots "
72. "Mutiny of the Combaticons"
  • Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers 2010
29. "Daniel's Adventure"
30. "The Desperate Struggle of Justice"

The numbers denote the airing order of the episodes in relation to the rest of the series.

"The Rebirth" was not broadcast in Japan, in favor of producing a brand new series to continue the story of the animated continuity, beginning with The Headmasters. In later years, however, "Attack of the Autobots", "Day of the Machines", and "The Rebirth" were all released on laserdisc, and all the episodes were eventually included on DVD as well. Curiously, while the Japanese dub of "Attack of the Autobots" and "Day of the Machines" retained the unique Japanese names and terminology, the dub for "The Rebirth" used standard English-language names and terminology in a more selective manner (for example, "Optimus Prime" remained "Convoy" while "Hot Rod" was not changed to "Hot Rodimus" but retained his English name).

Edits

The Japanese release of the three American seasons were edited by Takara before their broadcast in Japan. These edits were made not for content, but for length so that the show could accommodate longer opening and ending sequences.

The combined length of the U.S. opening and ending sequences was about one minute and ten seconds. The combined length of the Japanese opening and ending sequences, however, was about two minutes and twenty seconds. This resulted in roughly one minute and ten seconds being cut from every single episode.

A few examples of "unnecessary" scenes that were cut to make space for J-pop:

  • "Roll for It". The scene where Spike and Bumblebee first reach the laboratory and meet the southern-accented security guard that gives them clearance.
  • "Only Human". The scene where the informant tells Victor Drath that Old Snake is down the street pacing back and forth, and gets punched in the face as payment.

The only episodes not to be edited for length are "Attack of the Autobots", "Day of the Machines", The Transformers: The Movie and all three episodes of "The Rebirth". These were not edited for length because they were all released straight to video, where broadcasting time slots were not an issue. As a result, these episodes are also the only ones to be released on laserdisc and DVD by Pioneer with optional English or Japanese audio tracks.

DVD releases

Kid Rhino (US)

  • Transformers First Season Collector's Edition
  • Transformers Season 2 Part 1
  • Transformers Season 2 Part 2
  • Transformers Season 3 Part 1
  • Transformers Season 3 Part 2/Season 4

Shout! Factory (US)

  • Transformers - 25th Anniversary Matrix of Leadership Box Set (entire series)
  • Transformers The Complete First Season 25th Anniversary Edition (episodes 1-16)
  • Transformers Season 2 Volume 1 25th Anniversary Edition (episodes 17-29)
  • Transformers Season 2 Volume 2 25th Anniversary Edition (episodes 30-49)
  • Transformers Season 3/4 25th Anniversary Edition (episodes 50-79)

Madman Entertainment (Aus)

  • Transformers Collection 1 — Season 1
  • Transformers Collection 2 — Season 2 Part 1
  • Transformers Collection 3 — Season 2 Part 2
  • Transformers Collection 4 — Season 3 Part 1
  • Transformers Collection 5 — Season 3 Part 2
  • Transformers Collection 6 — Season 4
  • The Best of Transformers Generation One
  • Transformers Generation One — Complete Collection

Maverick Entertainment (UK)

  • Transformers — Original Series, Vol 1 (Season 1, episodes 9–13)
  • Transformers — Original Series, Vol 2 (Season 1, episodes 1–6)
  • Transformers — Original Series, Vol 3 (Season 1, episodes 7, 8, 14–16)
  • Transformers — Complete Original Series (complete Season 1)
  • Transformers — Five Faces of Darkness
  • Transformers — The Rebirth

Metrodome (UK)

  • Transformers — Season 1
  • Transformers — Season 2 Part 1
  • Transformers — Season 2 Part 2
  • Transformers — Season 3 & Season 4
  • Transformers — The Complete Generation One Collection
  • Transformers — Generation One Bumper Special
  • Transformers — The Classic Episodes

Pioneer LDC (JP)

  • Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers DVD-BOX 1 (episode 1–35)
  • Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers DVD-BOX 2 (episode 36–63, and the other two episodes)
  • Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers 2010 DVD-BOX (Season 3, Season 4)
Note: These Japanese DVD are released without the additional summarized episodes.

Notes

  • Starting June 13th, 2009, the series has begun to air again on Teletoon Retro, starting off with an all-day marathon.
  • On October 10th, 2010, the series has begun to air again on The Hub.

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