?The original Transformers cartoon played a huge part in ensuring the success of a brand that’s still going strong today. It was made to sell toys first and foremost, and accomplished this by presenting kids with robot characters they cared about. And those characters spent each episode engaged in plots that were generally great fun and very imaginative. In the beginning, the stories revolved around the evil Deceptions trying to get their hands on one of Earth’s resources, only to be driven away by the heroic Autobots. As the series went on and the writers flexed their brains, the adventures of the Transformers went to many other interesting and occasionally bizarre places, and some episodes were 22 straight minutes of pure WTF?! There was a lot of strangeness in the Generation 1 Transformers cartoon, and these ten episodes were some of the oddest viewing experiences you could have on mid-’80s school-day afternoons.
10) Hoist Goes Hollywood
Way before Michael Bay got his claws on Transformers, an enterprising director realized that Autobot mechanic Hoist and his buddies might equal $$$ on the big screen. While at first the Autobots were disgruntled at being overshadowed by human actors, the director eventually decided to aim the camera more at the big robots… only he made them wear scary alien masks. You know, this feels like I’m describing Bayformers, after all!
The Decepticons tried a lot of wacky schemes during the course of the series, but one of the most amusing had to be brainwashing 1980s-style dance club patrons into construction workers with the hypnotic sounds of DJ Soundwave. Tracks, the Autobots’ flying Corvette who possessed a blue blood demeanor, uncovered the operation along with his breakdancing human buddy, Raoul. Tracks, however, was captured and put into bondage by the Decepticons. It all led to the face-off we had all been waiting for, the Battle of the Boomboxes, when Soundwave’s Autobot counterpart Blaster came to the rescue. The rivals put their sonic abilities to the test against each other and were evenly matched, until Blaster tapped into the dance club’s killer sound system and forced Soundwave to retreat in typical, cowardly Decepticon fashion.
Many Transformers fans consider this the worst episode of the series as things finally deteriorated into incomprehensible gibberish. The supposedly powerful Decepticon combiner Bruticus was blown into itty bitty pieces by a single shot from the Autobot combiner Defensor. Swindle, one of the Combaticons who forms Bruticus, somehow survived unscathed. And his first move was to sell the part of his teammates to black market dealers across the world. What a pal! None to pleased with the loss of the Combaticons, the Decepticons planted a bomb in Swindle’s head that would go off if he didn’t get back all of the parts. He succeeded, but was missing the brain of fellow Combaticon Brawl. Naturally, the brain was found by a trio of teenage misfits who, using junk and high school lab equipment, created a new robot body for Brawl that looked a bit like Tik-Tok from Return to Oz. Brawl, probably enraged because he now looked so stupid, went on a rampage through the school. The kids called the Autobots for help, as easily as if they were ordering a pizza. When the Autobots did show up, they walked throughout the school without a problem like they were all five-feet tall. More inanity ensued, but we’re moving on…
7) Child’s Play
The episode began with the Decepticons inexplicably setting up a space bridge in a baseball stadium, where they decided to play catch using humans and shoot baseballs at the crowd, among other abuses. But then the Decepticons and a group of Autobots that had shown up to thwart them accidentally got transported by the space bridge into the bedroom of a giant alien child on another planet, where they themselves became the playthings. The indignities they had to endure included Ravage running on a hamster wheel and the Autobots traveling through an alien sewer in a teacup. The cool part about it was that the Transformers essentially became the toys we monstrous children all had of them in our own toyboxes.
6) The Girl Who Loved Powerglide
Normally, Transformer-human love connections are the kind of thing reserved for Fan Fiction Fridays at Topless Robot. But the G1 series went there first, albeit in a Rated PG fashion. The high-flyin’, daredevil Autobot Powerglide ended up the self-appointed protector of spoiled heiress Paris Hilton Astoria Carlton-Ritz, who the Decepticons were trying to kidnap because they thought she actually knew something about the technology her deceased father’s company produced. Powerglide and his human charge bickered like a married couple, and Powerglide was forced into the indignity of taking the woman to an amusement park, where they both rode the Merry-Go-Round. Due to some odd animation choices, Powerglide appeared to be a bit rough on Astoria, repeatedly smacking her to the ground so hard that it would have injured any normal human. But this was not a normal person; it was the Girl Who Loved Powerglide! The two actually began to fall for each other, with Powerglide asking her out and Astoria kissing him in front of the other Autobots, causing them to giggle like pre-teen schoolgirls. Powerglide stormed off, but, in a surreal display, opened his chest for the viewers to see and revealed that his circuits were now glowing in the shape of a heart. What happened next for these two lovebots? The show (thankfully) never explored it, but fan fiction writers certainlydid, including one story in which Powerglide and Astoria got married and Jem and the Holograms played at the reception!
5) Sea Change
Jesus, where to start with this one? The Autobot Seaspray, who turns into a hovercraft, accompanied a group of Autobots as they followed a distress signal to a planet of Transformer-sized humanoids enslaved by the Decepticons. With the Autobots’ help, the natives began a rebellion. Seaspray fell head-over-propellers for an alien woman, Alana, and jumped into a magic pool that turned him into a Fabio-looking guy… with robot feet. He also retained his gurgling voice. The couple then used the pool to turn into merpeople and fight off an underwater Decepticon attack. Later, Seapsray reverted to his Transformer form and Alana became a female Autobot who could change into a gondola. The possibilities for interspecies love are endless! Although they both eventually reverted back to their original bodies, Alana said that shouldn’t stop them from having a relationship, which opened up all kinds of uncomfortable questions in the mind of the viewer. The real loser in the episode was the Decepticon punk Rumble, who jumped into the magic pool and was somehow convinced by Alana to turn himself into a tree. Dumbass.
4) City of Steel
In this disturbing episode, the Decepticons took over New York City and turned it into “New Cybertron,” upgrading the Empire State Building into their headquarters and creating a fleet of killer taxis. Megatron got the best of Optimus Prime and decided to have him disassembled. While Megatron held onto and taunted Prime’s still-living head, the demented Constructicons used most of the rest of his body to create a mechanical alligator that lived in the sewers. One of Prime’s arms, gun in hand, was attached to the top of the Empire State Building as a defense system. After the Autobots managed to put most of Prime back together, the Autobot leader and his soldiers climbed to the top of the Empire State Building to retrieve his arm and fought Devastator, who then fell to the ground like King Kong. In addition to the rampant weirdness in this episode, it’s frustrating to think that Prime took so much abuse in this episode and survived, but perished after receiving a few hard knocks and laser blasts from Megatron in Transformers: The Movie.
This plays like an episode of Intervention. Decepticon leader Galvatron’s crazy antics had gotten so bad that his troops told Cyclonus, Galvatron’s right-hand man, that they would revolt if something was not done about it. Cyclonus then told Galvatron about a planet where he could find some easy Autobot pickins’, but all Galvatron found upon arrival was a living planet and its medical staff, who quickly restrained him and carted him off for psychiatric treatment. Cyclonus stayed back to fill out the paperwork. Galvatron resisted all treatment options, so giant insects were sent to give him a lobotomy by eating his brain. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Dr. Drew employ the same technique on Celebrity Rehab. Galvatron’s insanity, however, overwhelmed the living planet’s attempts to cure him, and Galvatron blew the planet to smithereens. The medical staff survived, but were soon set upon by the other patients. And Galvatron gleefully soared away to find some Autobots to murder. A happy ending all around!
2) Dark Awakening
“Dark Awakening” was not just one of the strangest episodes of Transformers, it was also perhaps the best episode of the entire series. This post-movie, Season 3 adventure saw a group of Autobots fleeing a Decepticon attack by taking refuge on a funeral barge containing the Autobots’ greatest heroes. Daniel, the human boy/annoyance accompanying the Autobots, almost got crushed by the desiccated body of Ironhide, and then spotted what appeared to be deceased leader Optimus Prime roaming the halls. In a failed attempt to prove to Daniel that he was just imagining things, the Autobots opened Prime’s casket… only to find it empty.
Galvatron and his Decepticon troops attacked soon afterward, only to be repelled and freaked out when Optimus Prime showed up to turn the tide. New Autobot leader Rodimus Prime, who had done nothing but whine about how much he sucked since Optimus died, eagerly gave his predecessor back the Matrix of Leadership. This proved to be a mistake, as Optimus quickly took back command of the Autobot forces and attempted to lead them all into a death trap set by the evil Quintessons, who it turned out had artificially revived Optimus Prime and were controlling him. Optimus was still dead, but his body and parts of his personality were active. ZOMBIE!!!!! Rodimus (who had turned back to his Hot Rod form) battled Optimus one-on-one and was pretty easily overpowered. But then Optimus, somehow partially alive and aware through the Matrix, begged Rodimus to defeat him and ended up returning the Matrix. Optimus Prime, who by the end of the episode was missing an arm and half of his face, piloted a ship into the bomb the Quintessons had set up, heroically sacrificing himself to save the other Autobots. Inspired, Rodimus admitted he would never be as good a leader as Optimus Prime, but would try.
So, yes, after Hasbro traumatized the children of the world by killing off Optimus Prime in Transformers: The Movie, they went back and killed him AGAIN in a way much more disturbing and graphic. You have to love it. 😀 Of course, they eventually relented and brought Optimus Prime back in a way that didn’t really mesh with the ending of “Dark Awakening,” but at least he was back and kicking ass again, especially Rodimus Prime’s (for a second time).
1) Carnage in C-Minor
“Carnage” is correct. Through the unique combination of a truly bizarre (yet original) plot and a breathtaking amount of animation glitches, this episode was the biggest acid trip in children’s television since H.R. Pufnstuf.
In this episode, the Decepticons sought out a powerful sound weapon on the planet Eurythma, which was populated by Renaissance Fair rejects who spoke only in song and took the whole musical theme way overboard. Soundwave, who had a rare late-G1 cartoon starring role, was practically orgasming over the perfection of the harmony-based weapon, which had been powerful enough to destroy a comet the Decepticons had been outfitting with engines in order to crash it into the Autobot city-bot, Metroplex. After it was discovered that the weapon was the result of three of he planet’s denizens (all named after different musical tempos) singing in harmony, Autobot boombox Blaster guided his comrades in a mission to stop Soundwave from recording all three parts of the harmony. In a somewhat horrific ending when you think about it, Blaster hit Soundwave’s “erase” button and wiped all of his tapes! Lazerbeak no more?!
The real notoriety of this episode lies in its numerous animation errors: The Autobot aircraft carrier Broadside is drawn with a completely different character model than ever before. The mighty Decepticon titan Devastator is at times the same size as the much smaller Soundwave or dwarfed in scale by Ultra Magnus. Hot Spot, who forms the main body of the Autobot combiner Defensor, at one point fights alongside Defensor! And in the crowning moment, Huffer and Brawn, two Autobots established to have died in the movie, show up alive and well! MORE ROBOT ZOMBIES!!!!! You have to see some of this madness for yourselves, courtesy of the Transformers Wiki.