Michael Bay’s Transformers films rake in millions while sustaining universal revulsion from critics. Meanwhile fans of the original 1984 series lament seeing the beloved franchise treated so poorly.
But the original Transformers series was far from perfect. It was plagued with embarrassing animation errors, nonsensical plots, and hilariously cheesy dialogue. Eventually the series would buckle under the weight of too many characters - gotta sell those new toys! But The Transformers’ legacy would endure, despite some particularly painful low points - which we’ve helpfully highlighted below.
10. City of Steel
“Even with one arm, Prime is primo!”
Megatron defeats Optimus Prime with the ingenious plan of… building a hole underneath him. Megatron and the Constructicons then proceed to vivisect Prime, scattering his parts into new defenses as the Decepticons transform New York City into Cybertron. The Decepticons create some kind of Crocodile robot using his chassis, and his gun arm acts as a turret. Despite the horrifying mutilation of his body, Prime easily survives the experience, only to be killed off in the movie with a few shots of Megatron’s gun. No, I’m still not over it.
9. Prime Target
“Amazing, a booby trap that actually captures boobies.”
It’s The Most Dangerous Game – Transformers style! Except the big game hunter is a mustachioed human, and his game the Autobots, which is super embarrassing for them. Somehow the pompous hunter captures every single Autobot with a myriad of ridiculous traps set around the city. They’re dumped into complicated torture devices that would please any old school Bond villain. Prime goes through a video game-esque gauntlet of challenges. Then a pair of Decepticons show up and are also defeated by simple traps, proving that Hunter Chumley could apparently take over the whole damn world if he set his mind to it.
8. Surprise Party
“Why don’t we just designate today as Ultra Magnus’ birthday? We’ll have a party tonight!”
Just because the Autobots are locked in a deadly war of survival against the Quintessons and ongoing Civil War with Decepticons doesn’t mean they can’t throw a party. Season Three’s two most dreadfully annoying characters, Wheelie and Daniel, research Ultra Magnus’ “Day of Creation” in order to throw him a birthday party. It’s about as riveting as it sounds. It also doesn’t help that Ultra Magnus is a joyless asshole.
“ALL TALK. NO SHOCK.”
The Decepticons take over a dance club and only the teen-car duo of Raoul and Tracks can stop them! “Auto-Bop” is easily the most 80stastic episode of the series. The music being pumped out of Dancitron hypnotizes the patrons, forcing them to do random evil things around the city. Not exactly the Decepticons’ grandest of plans. By the end Blaster and Soundwave duke it out with the power of music to see who’s the baddest robot on the block (Soundwave, always Soundwave).
6. A Decepticon Raider in King Arthur’s Court
“Foolish human! Magic can never defeat science!”
Starscream and a handful of Decepticons and Autobots are thrown back into medieval times, where the knights and peasants are only mildly surprised at the giant transforming robots. The ‘Bots and ‘Cons quickly choose sides among the warring kingdoms. I’ll be honest, I kind of love how ridiculously silly this episode is. At one point Sir Rumble wields a lance and rides on Sir Ramjet in the best jousting match ever. By the end they all have to team up to fight a wizard’s dragon. Screw it, this is the greatest episode ever.
5. Autobot Spike
“Wow it’s like some kind of robot frankenstein monster!”
Spike Witwicky is wounded in a battle against the Decepticons. Sparkplug does what any good father would, and transfers his son’s consciousness into a custom built robot body presumably cobbled from scrapped Autobots. In case you don’t get the constant Frankenstein references, the transplanted Spike literally sits down to watch a segment of the classic film. He spirals down into an ultimately pointless existential crisis.
4. Hoist Goes Hollywood
“They call me Hoist.”
After stumbling upon a movie crew filming a chase sequence, Hoist accepts a job as an action star, and soon half the Autobots get Hollywood fever because they’re all jealous jerks. Then they all quit when they realize they’re being used for nothing but stunt work. Some work ethic. Meanwhile the Decepticons steal a device recorded on the film, and it all ends with a dumb chase as Spike and Carly run through a back lot of movie props and locations, somehow evading the entire Decepticon army.
“You know what we should do for our science project? Build our own robot!”
Swindle sells off parts of his fellow Combaticons, and Megatron is none too pleased. Meanwhile a bunch of jackass high school kids end up with Brawl’s personality chip while scavenging for spare parts for a science fair. The results are predictably bad, and incredibly embarrassing for the three Autobots that have difficulty subduing a robot built by teenagers.
2. Carnage in C-Minor
“This entire civilization is based on musical harmonies!”
Amazing title aside, “Carnage in C-Minor” represents the peak of shoddy animation and production errors. A laundry list of problems from size inconsistencies to dead characters randomly appearing made even the most unobservant kid say, “Hey, wait a minute.” Oh, and the plot centering around a planet of elf-like aliens who speak only in song is incredibly stupid, too.
1. The Girl Who Loved Powerglide
“He’s tall, handsome, and shiny. And he can fly!”
The CEO of a hi-tech corporation is a spoiled rich girl who gets rescued by Powerglide during a Decepticon attack. Powerglide and Astoria’s relationship is horrid. She whines with insufferable schoolgirl infatuation while he literally smacks her around (which should kill or at least horribly maim her). At one point they ride a carousel together despite him being a giant damn robot. Hopefully you’ve stopped remembering this dark chapter ever existed.