When it comes to the Transformers franchise, there is no one more recognizable than Optimus Prime. Being the legendary leader of the Autobots, he is often the protagonist of each show and has remained one of the greats. With each new series, comic, and film, Optimus Prime is warring against the vicious Decepticons and has to think of new strategies in order to take them down. He’s gone down in history as the most valiant character in the Transformers saga. Full of heroism, self-sacrifice, and integrity, all of the Autobots dream of being like Prime someday.
However, with all of his appearances, there are still several things that aren’t widely known about the leader of the Autobots. There are certain references he’s had in real life, some implications to his character, as well as some decisions that would shock most of us. Being a leader in the midst of a war, Prime has had to dabble in some strange places. While none of these remove his status as a war hero for Cybertron, you might be a bit surprised to know these 15 dark secrets that may even escape diehard fans of the series. If you’re prepared, then get ready to roll out with the Autobots.
15. NOT ALWAYS PRIME
Many Primes are born, but others are made. In several versions of the Transformers continuity, Optimus Prime was made. He started out his days as an Autobot on Cybertron named Orion Pax. He had a girlfriend and a fairly normal life. When Megatron and the Decepticons began revolting, though, Pax was caught in the crossfire and took some serious life-threatening wounds.
In a desperate attempt to save his life, the ancient Autobot leaders took his body and rebuilt it to the best of their skills. When the procedure was complete, Orion Pax had been completely changed into the valiant Optimus Prime. No longer was he a frail robot, but a powerful warrior capable of taking on even the nastiest of Decepticons. Thus, the war began.
14. HAS A PARTICULAR SET OF SKILLS
When Michael Bay was putting together Optimus Prime for the Transformers movies, there were some great decisions that he made in terms of how the character would look. Then, in a fair surprise, he said that the behavior and dialogue of the character would be based off of Liam Neeson. Not the actor’s portrayal of particular characters, but just Liam Neeson in general.
Some of the buzzwords that go along when talking about the actor Liam Neeson are “dangerous”, “good actor”, and “thriller movie”. Needless to say, it’s not hard to see how Bay incorporated this vision into the live-action version of Optimus Prime. Is he on par with Liam Neeson? Not quite- the dialogue could be better. However, it’s not a bad template to use.
13. IN THE NATIONAL GUARD
This doesn’t have a lot to do with the Transformers franchise, but it’s an interesting tidbit nonetheless. In the U.S. Ohio National Guard, there is a member who legally changed his name to Optimus Prime in 2001. Whatever motivated to do this is unclear — but we’d bet that it had something to do with his sincere respect and love for the character and series.
What makes this story a bit more interesting is that his name before changing it is unclear. The only way to know for sure would be to track down this “Optimus Prime” and make him spill the beans of his origins. Nonetheless, it’s cool to be able to say that Optimus Prime serves in the National Guard. His friends probably get a big kick out of it.
12. WHY HE HAD TO DIE
Transformers: The Movie remains the definitive feature-length film for the autonomous robot franchise (forget all of that live-action stuff). However, fans of Optimus Prime were immediately drawn to tears in the first act of the film. Megatron invades the Autobot base and Optimus comes with backup. The fight is won, but Prime sustains fatal wounds and succumbs to them, leaving the Autobots without a leader.
Apart from bringing all fans to tears, the reason that Optimus Prime, among the other Transformers, died in the film was because the creators were focused on selling toys. They had to come up with a way to make kids want to buy newer toys, and the only way to do that was by getting rid of old characters to bring in some new ones. We need that Rodimus Prime toy!
11. BACK IN BLACK
Transformers: The Last Knight, to no one’s surprise, is every bit as convoluted and loud as every other film in the series. However, what it does to the lore of the franchise is unforgivable. After Optimus Prime goes to take down the creators at the end of Age of Extinction, he returns to Earth as a mind-controlled villain known as Nemesis Prime.
The issue here is that many people will now associate Nemesis Prime with this poorly twisted version of Optimus. In reality, Nemesis Prime was a twisted clone created as a more powerful leader than Megatron. Complete with a reverse black and blue color scheme, Nemesis proved to be a real challenge, as he was equal to Optimus in nearly every way. The only way the Autobot leader defeated him was through the power of the Matrix.
Optimus Prime isn’t popular in just America, but overseas as well. As a matter of fact, a large portion of the movie sales have come from China, as they seem to enjoy the mindless action. However, it goes without saying that Optimus Prime is the most beloved of the Transformers to them, as he has been used in several promotions.
Optimus Prime has been seen in not just one statue in that country, but multiple. Many people who have attempted to recreate this fantastic character have done so to be more in line with his live-action version. That said, the results are fairly astounding and lifelike. One of the more impressive Prime statues sits in the Beijing National Stadium, where the 2008 Olympic Games took place.
9. HE’S A PACIFIST
It’s one thing to have a leader who is always ready to go looking for trouble, but another thing entirely when you have one that doesn’t want it. Optimus Prime is the latter. While he is tasked with defending the Autobot race as well as the entirety of planet Earth, he wants to avoid combat as much as he possibly can.
That said, Prime isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He will only fight when there is literally no other way. The problem here is that this tactic has inadvertently caused some more problems for the Autobots. Perhaps if they were to retaliate sooner, then there would be less casualties in the long run. When you think about it, Optimus Prime has died quite a few times in the Transformers saga.
8. GETTING PRIMAL
Optimus Prime has not only left a large impact on pop culture, but also within the Transformers universe. The Autobots all look up and aspire to be like him. When he’s gone, many of them ask themselves, “What would Optimus do?” However, his fame went so far that other Autobots were named after him, like the legendary Optimus Primal.
This Autobot was famous for being similar to Prime, but having a different outlook on rules and the law. Primal knew how to get away with crazy things if it led to the greater good. What’s impressive about his perspective is that Primal is often considered the greatest hero of Cybertron, having been successful enough to bring Cybertron into a new age and essentially rebuild society. That’s not bad for someone living in the shadow of Optimus Prime.
7. HOLY TRINITY
There are several stories that like to use religious symbolism for better or worse. Strangely enough, Transformers has done the same thing with Optimus Prime. A little-known fact about the character is that he functions in three parts: the Brain Center, the Roller, and the Combat Deck. Each one of them can function independently from one another, but they’re all linked. If one of them sustains a serious injury, all three of them feel it.
This is clearly reminiscent of the idea that the Christian God exists in a Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That said, only one of Prime’s three parts is actually sentient and thinks for itself. In order for these constituents to work, they have to be linked together in some way. Without the connection, then they’re completely vulnerable.
6. THE DYNASTY OF PRIMES
Cybertron has always had some sort of leadership. Long before the war that the Decepticons started, it was a utopia that was ruled by figures known as the Dynasty of Primes. Having a total of 13 or 7 members depending on which continuity you’re referring to, these mighty beings worked endlessly to ensure that Cybertron remained a haven for the Transformers.
Believe it or not, Optimus Prime ended up being a part of this organization. After he was nearly killed by Orion Pax and rebuilt by the ancient Primes, he was constructed into the 13th Prime. From that point on, no more original Primes were created in this way, giving Optimus Prime the title of “The Last Prime.” This made him immediately respected by the robots that fought at his side.
5. MORE THAN A TRUCK
When it comes to Optimus Prime getting ready to “roll out,” most expect him to transform into a truck and be on his merry way. In actuality, that’s not always the case. The semi is definitely the most iconic transformation of Prime, but he’s not limited to it. Because the franchise has several different continuities as well as different interpretations of the lore, Optimus Prime has been known to transform into other vehicles as well.
On top of a truck, Optimus Prime has been able to transform into sexy sports cars like a Lamborghini, a T-Rex, and even helped form into a massive aircraft. He’s been known to have three different transformations at one time, which is unheard of and extremely dangerous among the Transformers, but he managed to pull it off with flying colors.
4. FORMER GLADIATOR
Cybertron was far from a robotic haven that some of the shows have claimed it to be. As a matter of fact, close to the end of the planet, one continuity depicted an illegal gladiator arena being established. Transformers would go there to prove themselves in battle, and it often ended in death. It’s there where Megatron entered and caused quite a disturbance among everybody involved.
In order to put a stop to it all, Optimus Prime entered the arena himself. Fighting one-on-one with Megatron, Prime managed to take a deadly axe strike straight to the chest. Yet, he pulled through and blasted the Decepticon leader with a laser gun. Interesting to think that such a structured leader was once a member of an illegal gladiator arena.
3. DIDN’T WANT TO ENGAGE WITH HUMANS
While Optimus Prime and the rest of the Autobots were born on Cybertron, the show has often seen them traveling to Earth and engaging with the human race. As a matter of fact, that’s the entire premise of the Michael Bay incarnation. That said, Optimus wasn’t crazy about going to Earth in the first place. If he had it his way, they would’ve never met the humans.
What Optimus feared would happen is that, if they were to engage with humans, then they could potentially do more harm than good. When on Earth, he wanted the Autobots to go undetected so that they wouldn’t shake up society. Still, the end result was that they were eventually discovered and had to work much harder to fight the Decepticons while protecting the human race.
2. HALL OF FAMER
The Transformers franchise has been around for decades, and it’s a massive feat that it’s been able to last this long. As a result, Hasbro, the company that makes the toys, elected to start a little something called the “Transformers Hall of Fame”. It’s there where they would induct various Transformers for recognition in honor of their duties to Cybertron or their impact in the universe.
This tradition started in 2010. There were only a handful of Autobots selected for inclusion, but one of their first choices was Optimus Prime. Coming as no surprise to anyone, Prime has had the biggest impact to the Autobot faction and sparked a movement that will likely never die. He has always been willing to put himself on the line when no one else will and fight the battles that others feared.
1. CAN RESIDE IN ANOTHER REALM
Being a Prime allows access to incredible power, but it gives out more benefits than that. Long after he became the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime discovered a place known as the Realm of the Primes. This location was a dimension that existed beyond the limits of time and space, and Primes could go there and live. Some had control over the realm, while others inhabited it.
When Optimus went there, he came into contact with other members of the original 13 of the Dynasty of Primes. The only way to access this realm is to collect and use all of the Blades of Time, which is no small task. Optimus feared that entering and exiting the Realm of the Primes would have serious ramifications on the rest of the universe.
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