The Transformers is a 1984 cartoon and toy line produced by Hasbro, as well as a comic book series by Marvel Comics featuring robots who can metamorphesize into other forms - Hence the name "Transformers."
Seasons 1 & 2Edit
Led by the mighty Optimus Prime, the Autobots were on a mission to find more Energon (The Transformers' main source of energy) when they were attacked by the evil Decepticons, who were led by the merciless Megatron. The two factions' ships crashed on Earth, and both sides remained dormant for 4 million years; specifically, until the year 1984 (It was between when the ships crashed on earth and when they woke up that the majority of Beast Wars took place, despite being a sequel to the original Transformers series. Hooray, time travel!), when a volcano erupted, awakening Skywarp, who repaired his leader and the other Decepticons. As they were leaving, the rebellious Decepticon Starscream fired a final shot at the Autobots' ship, to "say goodbye." However, unbeknownst to him, his shot vibrated the ship enough to awaken Optimus Prime, who, in turn repaired the other Autobots.
Over the course of two seasons (or 65 episodes), the Autobots and Decepticons fought on Earth, trying to find a way back to their home planet of Cybertron, with neither gaining especially notable ground.
The Transformers: The MovieEdit
Main Article: Transformers: The Movie
In 1986, The Transformers: The Movie was released in theatres, rated PG-13. This saw the deaths of many of the original Transformers characters, as Hasbro wanted to clear off shelf space for their next wave of toys, in the form of new Transformers characters. In the film the Transformers' home planet of Cybertron was under attack by the dreaded Unicron, and only the newly-passed on Matrix of Leadership could defeat him.
The movie included the voice talents of Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack, Eric Idle, and was the final role of Orson Welles.
During its theatrical run, TFTM was considered a financial bomb. However, it has more than made quadruple its money back since being released to home video and DVD.
Seasons 3 & 4Edit
Season 3 (30 episodes) highlighted new Autobot leader, Rodimus Prime, trying to live up to the example left by the now-deceased Optimus Prime, in space-spanning adventures against the mega-powered Galvatron, a stronger, more psychotic evolution of Megatron.
We learned in Season 3 that the Transformers were created by the Quintessons as slaves. Many episodes focused around Galvatron trying to acquire the Matrix of Leadership from Hot Rod, including one episode where Scourge managed to do so (The Burden Hardest to Bear).
In the episode Only Human, Rodimus, Springer, Arcee, Kup, and Ultra Magnus are turned into humans, thanks to science on loan from the mysterious "Snake," who bears more than a passing resemblance to Cobra Commander. Science fiction author Diane Duane wrote the episode Webworld, which gave us insight as to exactly how insane Galvatron actually was, as well as Cyclonus' loyalty to his leader.
Dark Awakening was possibly the darkest episode in all of G1, where some Quintessons reprogrammed a zombified Optimus Prime to attempt (and temporarily succeed at) getting the Matrix of Leadership back from Rodimus Prime. In the end, Optimus' good nature overrode the Quintesson's programming, and he flew himself towards a sun while the other Autobots escaped.
The season was capped off with The Return of Optimus Prime, and I'm sure you can guess the plot from the two-part episode's title. At the end of the season, the Matrix of Leadership was drained of most of its power, thus ending its storyline as a plot device.
Season 4 consisted of just three episodes. Titled The Rebirth, the season introduced the Transformers Headmasters and Targetmasters, as well as a ton of new characters whose toys had been released throughout the year.
Due to waning popularity, after 98 episodes, The Transformers was cancelled.
Season 5, however, aired later that year. It included 15 previously-aired episodes, as well as an 5-part episodic cutting of Transformers: the Movie, introduced by a puppet of Power Master Optimus Prime and young human, named Tommy Kennedy. This season was kind of a "best of" season, showing the most plot-important episodes of the series, and the one where Daniel Witwicky and Wheelie try to find out when Ultra Magnus' birthday is. Because, y'know, it's still a kid's show.
The episodes in season 5 are: "More Than Meets The Eye" (episodes 1-3), "Transformers: The Movie" (in 5 parts), "The FIve Faces of Darkness" (Episodes 66-70), "Surprise Party" (Episode 77), "Dark Awakening" (Episode 73), "The Return of Optimus Prime" (Episodes 94-95), and "The Rebirth (Episodes 96-98).
There was also a Transformers comic book series by Marvel that has many fans split in terms of its quality. The US version lasted for 80 issues (though was only scheduled as a four-issue mini series), but the UK version lasted for 332 issues (which ran weekly).
In 2002, DreamWave Productions obtained the license to produce Transformers comic books, and released several mini-series (including Transformers: Generation One volumes 1, 2 and an ongoing series that ran for 11 issues; as well as The War Within) detailing the time before Episode 1 and between Episode 65 and Transformers: The Movie. These series ended with the company's bankruptcy in 2004.
In 2006, IDW obtained the license to The Transformers comic books, and rebooted the franchise, starting over from scratch. The series has been highly successful, and has been running with two issues published a month, almost every month, for nearly five years.
Transformers: Generation 2 was the first time Transformers received a revamp, between 1993-1995, as an attempt to revitalize the franchise. It consisted of repaints/retoolings of the original Transformers toys (Many of which had been unavailable in stores for nearly 10 years), and re-edited versions of 52 episodes of the cartoon. The cartoon was nearly identical to the original broadcasts, with the addition of the "Cybernet Space Cube," which overlaid intrusive, noisy CGI graphics, most often during cuts and scene transitions.
G2 had some weird things happen. For example, in the toyline, Megatron was now a green-and-purple tank, even though he was still clearly a chrome Walther PPK handgun in the cartoon. Similarly, a lot of the toys had odd color choices - All of Sideswipe's blacks and reds were flipped, making him a primarily black. The Constructicons, who were normally a bright green, were first repainted in yellow, and later in ORANGE!
There was also a 13-issue G2 comic book series by Marvel that is often highly regarded by Transfandom.
Generation 2 is often seen as being arguably the lowest point in Transformers history.
The Beast EraEdit
In 1996, Beast Wars hit the airwaves, re-imagining the Transformers as robots who transform into various animals, rather than vehicles and weapons. Three seasons totaling 52 episodes, and nearly a hundred toys were released to great success. The series took place after when the original Transformers crashed on earth but before they awoke. Pre-Neanderthal humans were regular guest stars in season 3. The series ended with the Maximals (the Autbots' descendants) capturing the Predacons' leader, Megatron (BW), and bringing him back to their home planet of Cybertron.
In 1999, Beast Machines was released as a sequel to Beast Wars, taking place in the future, on Cybertron. The Maximals discover natural plant life on Cybertron, and decide they must protect this life. Meanwhile, Megatron has conquered Cybertron, and along with his Vehicons, is attempting to destroy the Maximals, forever.
Other Transformers SeriesEdit
There have been a massive number of other Transformers series. However, quite frankly, they're mostly not worth noting, as they do not have the ingenuity, charm, lasting power, or number of fans as the G1 Transformers. For more information about any other Transformers series, visit the Transformers Wiki at tfwiki.net