The name Megatron was originally rejected by Hasbro for being too scary. The writers tasked with naming the characters, Bob Budiansky argued as a villain he was meant to be scary.
In season one Frank Welker voiced 7 of the 13 original Decepticons. He provided the voices of Megatron, Soundwave, Skywarp, Rumble, Frenzy, Laserbeak (screeches), and Ravage (growls). The exceptions were Starcream (Christopher Collins), Thundercracker (John Stephenson), Shockwave (Corey Burton), and Reflector (three identical robots with Christopher Collins's voice).
Optimus Prime was never intended to return to the series after the movie, but a public outcry (which surprised the producers) resulted in him returning
The president of the fictional country Carbombya, Abdul Fakkadi, appears in The Transformers: Five Faces of Darkness: Part 1 (1986) and The Transformers: Thief in the Night (1986). The character/story and was meant to be a parody of Middle East tensions at the time. His name is an anagram of Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi. The name of Fakkadi's country, Carbombya, also contains an in-joke (Car Bomb Ya). Reportedly, voice actor Casey Kasem, who is of Arab descent, objected to this, and quit the Transformers series as a result.
When Optimus Prime transforms into robot mode, his trailer moves backward and disappears from sight, while only the cab becomes the robot body; when he transforms into vehicle mode, his body becomes the cab, and the trailer reappears from nowhere and connects itself to the cab. Many fans wondered what exactly happens to the trailer during the transformations, but no explanation has been ever given. (Although, it has been thought that Roller comes out of the trailer at these times and wheels Primes trailer away. It can be confirmed with Hasbro's masterpiece figures, Roller can attach to Primes trailer.)
In season 1, there were 24 autobots [Optimus Prime, Skyfire, Bluestreak, Hound, Ironhide, Jazz, Mirage, Prowl, Ratchet, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Trailbreaker, Wheeljack, Cliffjumper, Gears, Huffer, Windcharger, Brawn, Bumblebee, Grimlock, Slag, Snarl, Sludge, Swoop] and 22 decepticons [Megatron, Soundwave - with 4 casseticons, Reflector x 3, Skywarp, Starscream, Thundercracker, Shockwave, Bonecrusher, Hook, Mixmaster, Long Haul, Scavenger, Scrapper, Bombshell, Kickback, Shrapnel]. In season 2, there were 15 new Autobots [Perceptor, Omega Supreme, Beachcomber, Cosmos, Powerglide, Seaspray, Warpath, Blaster, Grapple, Hoist, Inferno, Red Alert, Skids, Smokescreen, Tracks] and 5 new Decepticons [Dirge, Ramjet, Thrust, Blitzwing, Astrotrain]. In the end of Season 2, 10 new Autobots (The Aerialbots and the Protectobots) and 10 new Decepticons were introduced (The Stunticons and the Combaticons).
Another connection to the GI Joe cartoon, also based on a Hasbro/Marvel comic is the character of Marissa Faireborn. In one episode, Marissa speaks with her father, voiced by Bill Ratner (in his only appearance in the Transformers cartoon), who also provided the voice for Flint, whose real name is Dashiell Faireborn on the GI Joe cartoon. So Marissa is the GI Joe, Flint's, daughter, presumably with Lady Jaye.
At Frank Welker's request, Megatron's lines were always saved for the end of each recording session, since the character's raspy voice put a strain on Welker's throat and affected his ability to perform any of the other roles he had in the series.
Cliffjumper was originally going to be named "Blow-Out", due to his tendency to suffer from blown tires.
Due to production errors, Frank Welker's voice for Soundwave is left unmodified by vocoder in at least two episodes. (The Transformers: Roll for It (1984) and The Transformers: Webworld (1986)). The result is Soundwave sounding like Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget (1983).
Bumblebee was named "Goldbug" in early treatments. When he was re-built in the third season, his name got changed to Goldbug.
Episode scriptwriter Donald F. Glut claimed in 2001 that he didn't like working on the show, because the schedules were so rushed that sometimes he had to write scripts under a day, and in some cases, he could only submit the first draft to the animation agency. Later, in 2007 he said he actually hated the cartoon, and only worked on it for the money. Even so, he wrote some of the most famous episodes, and was the second most prolific writer.
The Autobot Skyfire (who first appears in season one's The Transformers: Fire in the Sky (1984)) was based on a Transformers toy named Jetfire, who in turn was a copy of the design of the SDF Macross/Robotech VF-1S Valkyrie jet/robot. Hasbro had bought the rights to produce copies of the Takatoku/Matsushiro/Bandai Valkyrie toy as part of the Transformers line some months before Robotech aired in the US, but the Japanese owners of the Transformers brand, Takara, had no rights to sell the toy in their market, as the Japanese rights belonged to Bandai. As a result, the character's name and design were changed to avoid any legal issues in the Japanese market, and Skyfire was written out of the series after only appearing in a handful of Season 1 episodes. The later seasons avoided all mentions of Skyfire.
The first ever Transformer to appear on the series was Wheeljack, episode The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye: Part 1 (1984).
Because both Bluestreak and Prowl changed into Datsun sports cars and had similar helmets with "devil's horn" crowns, the animators tried to avoid confusion between the two by removing Prowl's shoulder-mounted rocket launchers which were apart of the toy Prowl. However, occasionally animators would accidentally color Prowl blue like Bluestreak.
Although Buzzsaw was part of the first line of Transformer toys, he did not appear until the second season episode The Transformers: Atlantis, Arise! (1985). He appeared only in four episodes of the whole series - unlike Laserbeak, who appeared very frequently. The reason for this contrast was that Buzzsaw's toy was only available packaged with Soundwave, and hence did not need to be advertised via the show.
Many new characters (Triple-Changers, Blaster, Perceptor, etc.) suddenly began to appear during season two, beginning with The Transformers: Dinobot Island: Part 1 (1985) and The Transformers: A Prime Problem (1985). Their sudden appearance was not explained. In the episodes produced after The Transformers: The Movie (1986), in which Megatron (Frank Welker) became Galvatron (Leonard Nimoy), Frank Welker took over the role of Galvatron, which seems appropriate. The actors who continued the roles they originated in The Transformers: The Movie (1986) for season 3 were: Neil Ross (Springer), Susan Blu (Arcee), David Mendenhall (Daniel Witwicky),John Moschitta Jr. (Blurr), Stan Jones (Scourge), and Roger C. Carmel (Cyclonus, Quintesson).
In Marvel Comics, Sparkplug has a son named Buster, Spike's younger brother. Buster was the first Witwicky depicted in fiction, and filled a similar role in the early comics that Spike filled in the animated series. According to the comics, Spike was away at college for the first few years of the war between the Autobots and Decepticons on Earth. When Buster was kidnapped by the Decepticons, Spike returned home and rescued his brother.
The evil group of animal-based Transformers that eventually became the Predacons originally started out as a benevolent group of Autobots, called "Anibots". Razorclaw's original name was to be Simba, Headstrong's was Clump, Tantrum's Thump, Divebomb was Shriek, while Rampage was Pardo, and would have turned into a leopard, rather than a tiger. Their combined form would have been called "Dragon Beast", as opposed to Predaking. They would have first appeared in The Transformers: The Movie (1986) to fight Devastator, but after several script rewrites, during which the Anibots became the Predacons, they had been written out of the story, and debuted later in the cartoon's third season.
In issue 146 of the original Transformers Marvel Comic series, the Dinobot Grimlock writes in response to a letter from the fans that the comics depicted the "true" events of the Transformers mythos, whereas the cartoon series was purely a work of fiction.
Skids, an Autobot, only appears twice in the entire series. Each time, he is voiced by a different actor.
Only toys that came from molds made by the toy company Takara got characters in this show. Toys from molds that were produced by other companies never appeared. Roadbuster, Whirl, Barrage, Chop Shop, Venom, and Ransack were all based off of molds from a competing toy company, Bandai, so they never appear in the cartoon.
Skyfire's cartoon appearance is drastically different than his toys. The reason for this is that Jetfire was, at the time, a "borrowed" mould of a previously release toy from the rival company Bandai. To avoid unnecessary legalities, the Skyfire cartoon sketches were heavily modified (The Transformers: Fire in the Sky (1984)).
While there were some GI JOE/Transformer crossovers in the comic books there were no crossover episodes between the two shows until the third season when a character voiced by Christopher Collins named Snake makes an appearance as an arms dealer wearing a trench coat, hat and a mirrored mask over his face. At the end of the episode he screams, "COBRA!" the battle cry for Cobra Commander
Sparkplug makes his last appearance in The Transformers: Cosmic Rust (1985). No explanation for his absence is given either in the following episodes or in The Transformers: The Movie (1986).
The Autobot's space ship, the Ark was originally named "Auntie". The name got carried over into the comics. Interestingly, the name of the ship was never spoken in the cartoon.
Rumble's toy was black and red, and Frenzy's was blue. However, in the TV series, Rumble was colored blue and Frenzy was colored black and red.
The Transformers: War of the Dinobots (1984) was actually set before The Transformers: The Ultimate Doom: Brainwash (1) (1984).
If this season had aired its episodes in terms of production order, Windcharger would not be mentioned by name until The Transformers: Fire on the Mountain (1984).
In The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye: Part 1 (1984), an orange Autobot in the form of a truck crane appears briefly to haul Hound up for repairs. This Autobots only appears in this scene, never speaks or transforms to robot mode, and is referred to as "Hauler" by Cliffjumper. Apparently, this was an early version of the Autobot called Grapple, who later appears in season two.
All of the other characters introduced in the movie were given new voice actors. The Constructicon Mixmaster (a character voiced by Frank Welker) falls into lava in episode The Transformers: Heavy Metal War (1984). In his next appearance (The Transformers: City of Steel (1985)), he acts quite insane. Later, in season 3, Galvatron (Frank Welker) lands in lava and goes insane as a result (episodes 3.01, 3.02, 3.03, 3.04 and 3.05 "Five Faces of Darkness Part 1-5".
Ted Schwartz was originally to be the voice for Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime for the post movie episodes. Some of his lines can still be heard in "Five Faces of Darkness" (Episodes 3.01-3.05).
Omega Supreme was originally going to be called "Fortress Maximus". Although his name was changed, the name Fortress Maximus is later given to a character who first appears in the series-ending, episode 4.01, 4.02 and 4.03 "The Rebirth Part 1-3".
Famed comic writer and co-creator of the Transformers mythos, Bob Budiansky owns the cartoon on DVD, but he has never watched it.
Trypticon doesn't seem to have eyes because when his animation model was designed based on his toy, they forgot to place the eye stickers on his head.
Bob Budiansky, who was given the task of naming the toys supplied to him by Hasbro in order to help create the story for the Transformers line, gave his characters alternate names to accommodate them as a form of choice. In the case of Starscream who was a silver jet in vehicle mode, one of the alternate names given to his character by Budiansky was 'The Silver Snake'. Though this name was never used, but remained in Budiansky's original notes, it is interesting to note that the character of Starscream in the original G1 series was voiced by comedian voice actor Chris Latta. In addition, Chris voiced the character of Cobra Commander in another popular cartoon of the time 'G.i.Joe' The voice Chris used for both characters were identical and were the two characters Chris was most remembered for. In addition, to being part of a "Snake" named group as its leader, the character of Cobra Commander was seen often wearing an iconic "Silver" face plate that concealed his identity that was revealed in the 1986 'G.i. Joe The Movie' as being partly snake like in form due to a science accident, hence making him somewhat of a 'Silver Snake' in his appearance.
Unlike Optimus Prime's trailer, which mysteriously comes and goes between transformations, Megatron's silencer and stock can be accounted for when he transforms from pistol to robot. In the episode "Day of The Machines", and "Transformers: The Movie," the components simply drop to the ground nearby. In "Day of The Machines" when Megatron transforms back to robot mode in the storage cage, the components drop to the ground and remain in frame behind both he and Soundwave.
Although many characters that wore face-plates instead of mouths (such as Optimus Prime and Soundwave) have made this feature iconic, they were originally intended to have true mouths underneath those plates in various related media. The Marvel comics, for example, gave Soundwave a generic human face for a few issues, and Optimus Prime himself can be seen without his face-mask in one of the early story books. Some later re-imaginings of these characters opted to continue depicting them with mouths. Many other characters, like Bumblebee or Windcharger, were based on toys that also had a face-plates but received normal mouths for the cartoon show.
The only character not referred to by name in the pilot trilogy is Windcharger, who, unlike all the other characters, does not get anything to do to display him for the audience (The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye: Part 3 (1984)).
The Decepticon jet Thundercracker never uses his sonic powers in the series (his toy tech specs do say he has them, and he uses them in Marvel Comics). However, in The Transformers: Heavy Metal War (1984), Megatron, using the combined powers of all the Decepticons, does use them.
Many generic Decepticon jets (in various shades of purple, blue, and green) appear with the Decepticons of Earth in the pilot The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye: Part 1 (1984). They are not seen again after the three-parter, however. Frenzy (Rumble's twin) is one of two 1984 toys/Decepticon cassettes who do not appear in the series premier three-part episode. Frenzy only first appears late in season one, during The Transformers: Countdown to Extinction (1984). Buzzsaw (condor) is the other, and does not appear until The Transformers: City of Steel (1985).
Voice director Wally Burr occasionally filled in for voice actors that were unavailable for a given episode. For example, he provides Thundercracker's voice in The Transformers: War Dawn (1985).
Alpha Trion is the only Transformer in the series who aged since the beginning of the war between Autobots and Decepticons till the present time, judging by the difference in his look at The Transformers: The Search for Alpha Trion (1985) The Transformers: War Dawn (1985).
In the Marvel coloring book 'Forest Rescue Mission', Sparkplug has a son named Butch. He can be considered as Spike and Buster's third brother, or as an early name for either of their characters.
Daniel, Spike and Carly's son, is portrayed in Marvel coloring book 'The Lost Treasure of Cybertron' as the son of Buster, Spike's brother.
Season 5 did not feature any new episodes. It consisted of 15 episodes from the previous seasons and The Transformers: The Movie (1986) (separated to five episodes). New opening and closing footage were added to each episode, which portrayed Powermaster Optimus Prime meeting regularly with a live-action human named Tommy Kennedy to tell him old Transformers stories.
When the Transformers toy-line was first released in Europe, the leader of the Autobots was changed from Optimus Prime to Jetfire, who was actually a character of less importance. This was because they didn't know at the time whether figures of Optimus Prime will be sold. After the Optimus Prime toy got released, he got "reinstalled" as the Autobot leader in European fiction.
Trypticon's component robots, Brunt and Full-Tilt, are never referred to as separate characters during the series. They are always seen as parts of Trypticon's body, and never detach from him. Brunt is a small tank made up of several towers and guns on Trypticon's city form, while Full-Tilt is the purple-colored car situated on Trypticon's dinosaur mode chest, who could transform into an actual robot.
The Autobots, most recognisable human friend, Spike Whitwicky, was aged in his late teens to early 20s in Seasons 1 and 2, because they were set in the years of production where in the movie and the final 2 seasons he was older because they were set 20 + years into the future
Even though Rumble was among the central characters of the series, he has never been seen to use his micro cassette form for reconnaissance. Soundwave would delegate this to Ravage or Laserbeak.
Megatron's bio states that he has no known weakness. However, when in his pistol mode, he can't fire himself accurately unless he's held by another Transformer.
In a late change during the early development of the series (after the first three episodes had already been completed), the writers decided that only the Decepticons should be able to fly while the Autobots would be stuck on the ground. The idea at the time was that it wasn't common for children to fly on commercial airlines in the early 1980's, and so the concept of being up in the sky was foreign to most of them. According to the writers, this would help drive the idea of the Decepticons being the evil bad guys by not having any familiar ideals, principles, or actions that kids could relate to. And so, in the rare case of the Autobots ever needing to fly, they would have to be animated using jet packs to still keep the casual ability of flight away from them. Additionally, this led to most of the early airplane and flying animal toys being released as a Decepticon while the Autobots got most of the wheel based toy vehicles. The exception to this rule was with space travel, where the Autobots were assigned limited appearing characters like Omega Supreme, Cosmos, and Skyfire as members of their team to stay in line with the early story plot of the Decepticons not being able to return to their home planet of Cybertron.
The entire series's dialogue contained one example of mildly foul language. In the episode The Transformers: The Girl Who Loved Powerglide (1985), one background character can be heard saying "bloody fool". This one instance caused the UK Metrodome DVD releases that contained this episode to be rated PG.
Numerous unnamed Decepticons appear during the three-episode pilot on Earth, all of them using the designs of either the Seeker jets or the Reflector units, only with different colors like lavender or turquoise. They aren't given any introduction and appear from nowhere, their numbers vary from scene to scene, and they completely disappear from the series after the pilot. The most likely reason for their existence is that the creators wanted to boost the numbers of Decepticon troops, otherwise the Autobots would have outnumbered them, robbing the story of any tension.
The series has become so infamous for its often sub-par, error-ridden animation that even Hasbro themselves have acknowledged the mistakes and jokingly gave them in-story justifications. In subsequent Transformers canon, it has been explained that various energies, objects, powers and events have reality-altering capabilities that cause inconsistencies in space-time continuum on a multi-dimensional level. For example, the crass animation errors of the episode The Transformers: Carnage in C-Minor (1986), widely considered the worst-looking of the series, have been attributed to the reality-warping side effects of the Eurythman aliens' Harmony sound, which the plot of said episode revolves around.
DEBUT: Carly, later become Spike's wife and the mother of Daniel in the post-movie episodes (The Transformers: The Immobilizer (1985)).
At the time of season one, Spike Witwicky is about 14 years old. His love interest, Carly (introduced in season 2), is about a year older than him. Generally speaking, the Autobots have blue eyes, and the Decepticons have red. There are exceptions, though. Some include: Swindle (purple), Thrust (yellow), and Motormaster (purple). The Autobot called Broadside's character model was totally overhauled halfway during season 3, so it would more closely resemble his toy.
Sparkplug Witwicky's real first name is not revealed in the TV series. In Marvel Comics, sometimes he is called William, and sometimes Irving. The character based upon him in the 2007 live action film, Transformers (2007), played by Kevin Dunn, is named Ron.
Starscream was originally called Ulchtar before the writers, mainly Bob Budiansky, decided on his finalized name.
The original idea behind Ratchet was "the best tool guy or girl". Since early on in the production, there was a rule against female robots, Ratchet became a male. A similar case happened in Transformers: Animated (2007), since they originally envisioned the main Autobot cast with a female medic, who eventually became the male Ratchet. Later, in the aforementioned show's third season, a female medic finally appeared for a short time, named Red Alert.
Although the last new episode aired in the U.S. in 1987, through its spin-offs the Transformers series continued in Japan until 1990. As of 2013, a Transformers series has been in production for 26 of the last 30 years, often numerous ones at the same time.
It used to be said that Simon Furman, one of the main writers of the original Transformers Marvel comics and one of the most notable authors to ever work on the franchise, disliked the show for its juvenile writing that differed greatly from the plot and backstory told in the comic series. He has later clarified that he likes the show despite its errors, and sees it for what it is: a fun cartoon for young children whose story is set in a different timeline than the comic's universe.
The first three episodes of series 1, more than meets the eye parts 1 to 3, were released on home video in the UK under the title "Arrival from Cybertron".
A lot of characters transform into the same vehicle or vehicle model. Between the Autobots and Decepticons there are at least four Lamborghini Countachs (Red Alert, Breakdown, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker) , seven F-15s (Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Thrust, Dirge, Ramjet, Air Raid), three Space Shuttles (Sky-Lynx, Blast Off, Astrotrain) three Mitsubishi trucks (Grapple, Inferno, Hotspot), three Datzun 280ZX Turbos (Smokescreen, Bluestreak, Prowl), and two Nissan Vannettes (Ironhide, Ratchet.)
DEBUT: Skyfire. Who is known to as Jetfire, as a toy (The Transformers: Fire in the Sky (1984)).
DEBUT: Bluestreak, Brawn, Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Gears, Hound, Huffer, Ironhide, Jazz, Laserbeak, Megatron, Mirage, Optimus Prime, Prowl, Ratchet, Ravage, Reflector, Rumble, Shockwave, Sideswipe, Skywarp, Soundwave, Starscream, Sunstreaker, Thundercracker, Trailbreaker, Wheeljack and Windcharger (The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye: Part 1 (1984)).
According to the writers of the original first season (as seen in an interview on the first Rhino DVD seasonal set releases), Starscream constantly trying to overthrow Megatron was added to the television series because of the actions that would take place in The Transformers: The Movie (1986). At first in the television series, Starscream was simply depicted as a regular soldier for the Decepticons. But when the series writers got a copy of the movie script, which began development in a separate animation studio very early on during the first season, they read about the double-cross scene between the two characters and decided to begin writing in moments of Starscream trying to overthrow Megatron to help explain his eventual back stabbing moment in the movie.
Both Autobots and Decepticons have very poor marksmanship, commonly referred to as "Storm Trooper aim" by fans of the Star Wars movies. All of their battles consist of them shooting at each other but very rarely hitting, even when they are mere feet from one another.
The premise of the Immobilizer (The Transformers: The Immobilizer (1985)) would be used again in Beast Wars: Transformers: The Probe (1996).
The Transformers: Fire in the Sky (1984) is set before The Transformers: Fire on the Mountain (1984), which is also set before The Transformers: The Ultimate Doom: Brainwash (1) (1984).
Megatron actually does not transform into his gun mode very often. Instead, he stays as a robot and uses arm mounted fusion cannon. The series placed greater importance on Megatron's motives to attain absolute power.
The voice of Devastator is formed by the voices of all 6 Constructicons. This is evident when one of them commands them to form, to which they all simultaneously yell, "Devastator!".
Ratchet, who was originally written as female, shares his name with the female nurse in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. That film also featured Scatman Crothers, the voice of Jazz.
In older interviews, Bob Budiansky had stated that he came up with the 'Megatron' name by combining the then (late 70's early 80's) hostile notion of 'The Cold War' (with its fear of the use of "megaton bombs") with the simple term of "electronic" into Megatron.
Bob Budiansky once gave an online printed interview where he explained that he got the character name of 'Ratchet' by watching One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) where Louise Fletcher played the character of Nurse Ratched. Bob simply explained that since Ratchet was the medical repairman of the autobots that it was easy to rename Ratched into Ratchet.
Even though Bob Budiansky is referred to as the father of the Transformers universe, he explained in an online interview that it was actually Jim Shooter, Marvel Comics then editor-in-chief in the 1980's, who had laid down the basic groundwork of the Transformers franchise before he handed it off to any of the Marvel writers willing to take the project on to fully flesh out. Bob further said that Jim was the person who came up with the name 'Optimus Prime', but that he (Bob) was tasked to come up with Prime's backstory, as well as all the other names and backstories of the initial 26 released toys in that first assortment.
Bob Budiansky stated that the only time Hasbro ever had a problem with the character names he came up with were due to personal higher-up reasons. He said that Megatron was one of two names that they didn't want to approve because it sounded too scary for kids, while the other name was considered too adult. Generally, Bob had to submit his ideas to Hasbro's legal department who then had to check every potential trademark in case they had a competing product with a similar name. They (Hasbro) usually never had a problem with the names Bob did give them, but unlike the Megatron name and how Bob was able to get them to change their minds about it, Hasbro didn't budge on the other rejected name. Bob explained that the initial Autobots from the first season were mostly cars, or some sort of wheeled vehicle, and he was always looking for cool sounding car related names. So he came up with the name Highbeams. But the product manager at Hasbro - which he noted was female - pointed out that in her native city of Chicago, high beams was slang for a certain part of the female anatomy. Bob claimed he was pretty innocent and naive back then, so he had no clue that the name Highbeams had any kind of adult connotation to it when he submitted it for approval.
Although they have never stood side by side, Stunticon Motormaster should be taller than Optimus Prime since he does not separate from his trailer. Actually, he is a double trailer and the cab is his feet which have wheels and would be additive to his height.
Since the Stunticons were created on Earth using Earth vehicles, this world is their true home. With the Combaticons, they were created on Earth, but their "souls" were those of Cybertronian criminals stolen from a prison facility by Starscream.
An aspect of the Triple Changers is that they transform into a surface vehicle and a flying vehicle, but not two of the same.
Although Combaticon Swindle is animated as being the same vehicle model as Hound (JeepJ59), sources listed as being a FMC XR311 Combat Vehicle.
When Megatron transforms into his pistol mode, he is usually caught and fired by the Decepticon Starscream.