The Decepticons are easily one of the biggest, baddest armies of bad guys in all of fiction. They’re giant robots that transform into vehicles, usually military vehicles, with big honking weapons capable of blowing away anything that tries to stop them from achieving their goals of complete domination of the universe, and eradication of all non-Cybertronian life. Fortunately, standing in their path are the Autobots. While they don’t usually look anywhere near as cool, they’ve managed to stand in the way of the Decepticon forces for millions of years, keeping mushy organic life like us safe. But that’s not accomplished without having some pretty good soldiers on your side.
For sure, though the Autobots consist more of former police officers and security service members than military operatives like the Decepticons, they’ve still managed to get some of the best ‘bots on Cybertron on their side. With this list, we’ll be counting down 20 of the most powerful Autobots in their army. Since there are so many incarnations, we’ll mostly be looking at their on-page versions to keep things simple, especially since this universe is coming to an end with the upcoming Transformers: Unicron mini-series. With that said, get ready to transform and roll out!
As one of Optimus Prime’s oldest subordinates, one thing we can say about Bumblebee is that he’s loyal. Long before the Decepticon war ripped apart Cybertron, Bumblebee worked as a courier, until he was dragged into the conflict at its earliest stages when a Decepticon transmission tricked him into delivering a package to a factory that turned out to be a bomb. Enraged the Decepticons literally forced him into doing something despite their claims of being for the people, Bumblebee took up with Optimus Prime’s group from then on.
After that, he worked alongside Optimus Prime for years, even becoming the leader of the Autobots multiple times when Prime was sidelined or captured.
He even became part of the council to watch over Cybertron once the war ended and both sides realized the planet was inhabitable once more. Bumblebee is considered one of the most trustworthy and likeable members of the entire Autobot army, which is why he’s often given such key leadership positions. Unfortunately, the counter to that is he’s sometimes too nice -- when Optimus found himself in prison and Bumblebee was left in charge, his unwillingness to take charge and do what was necessary caused the Autobot army to split into multiple factions each with their own intentions. Aside from that, Bumblebee’s small stature doesn’t lend itself to incredible feats on the battlefield. Popular and charismatic he is, but powerful he simply isn’t.
Windblade is one of the newest creations and additions to the Transformers universe, and placing her here is slightly cheating as well, as she isn’t technically an Autobot. No, unlike nearly every other Autobot on this list, Windblade was born on the planet Caminus, one of a few worlds colonized by Cybertron prior to their second civil war when they were on an expansionist kick. On Caminus, Transformers generally knew peace and weren’t troubled with matters of war…until they made their return to Cybertron. When the Camiens were called back to Cybertron in the hopes of reconnecting with their homeworld, one of several Camien delegates transported to Cybertron was Windblade.
While there, Windblade found a new purpose in life: as a Cityspeaker, she was capable of talking to Metroplex, the massive city-sized Transformer all the other Cybertronians were living in, since the rest of the planet was too wild to inhabit yet. As she made a new home on Cybertron while trying to aid Metroplex, Windblade would ultimately find herself rising through the ranks of government, becoming one of only a handful of people in charge of the major decisions of running Cybertron. Windblade is much like Bumblebee in that her true talent isn’t really on the battlefield, even if she is more than capable of holding her own in battle.
The fastest ‘bot ever to join the forces of good, before the war, Blurr was, unsurprisingly, a racer before the Cybertronian Civil War broke out. His incredible skills on the racetrack made him incredibly popular off it, and Blurr eventually came to place his entire self worth into being a racer. So obviously, things sort of fell apart when the war came and Blurr saw a bombing destroy the racetrack where he worked. In something of a spiral, Blurr found himself courted by both the Autobots and the Decepticons, and he nearly went the other way (and wound up on another list) until a fire fight cost him the lives of two of his friends.
Not long after that, Blurr decided instead to don the Autobot badge, believing he would find a much higher purpose working for them.
From then on, Blurr filled a number of roles inside the army, including spending quite a bit of time working with the Wreckers, one of the most dangerous subdivisions the Autobots have. Of course, as useful as he is, speed is mostly the only thing he brings to the table, which is why it’s probably a good thing that he retired to become a bartender.
Unlike several other ‘bots on this list, Perceptor didn’t need to be convinced to join the Autobots -- he was already a member before civil war broke out, working under Sentinel Prime’s government. Once the war began, he took on a more scientist role and worked with Jetfire in search of Energon, as reserves quickly depleted in the face of constant warfare. Eventually, Perceptor would switch into working on a more active combat role, working with famed warriors like Ultra Magnus, Springer, and…Wheelie. Well, not all of them were famed warriors.
Still, Perceptor was a much calmer, nicer ‘bot earlier in the war, until a chance operation with Kup to rescue a few captured Wreckers gets him shot directly through his chest, nearly killing him. After he recovers from his injuries, Perceptor makes several heavy adjustments to his body, including a much stronger chestplate and a targeting monocle that he wears everywhere. Afterwards, his attitude changes and he goes from an easy going scientist to a quiet sniper. That’s what makes Perceptor so dangerous -- he’s just as smart as he is deadly, once even tearing apart a Combiner with a perfectly aimed shot at its connector joints. He’s not as great at close combat, but with aiming skills like this, he doesn’t need to be.
No matter the timeline, Kup is one of the toughest Autobots around… and also one of the oldest. Fortunately for him, it’s usually easy enough to keep his parts upgraded, so he gets all of the rewards of having thousands of years of experience behind him and none of the drawbacks. Having fought through the original civil war on Cybertron, Kup is one of the few ‘bots old enough to have actually seen what the peace in between wars looked like. He spent his time during Cybertron’s Golden Age as a soldier in the Primal Vanguard, a peacekeeping force that handled matters off-world. Not long after that, Kup retired and began to train younger Cybertronians, teaching many who would eventually become high-ranking members of the Autobot army -- Prowl, Springer, and even Optimus Prime.
Above all else, Kup is a survivor.
He survived crash-landing on a planet and being driven insane by radiation. He survived being a part of the Wreckers, the most dangerous crew in the Autobot army aside from the Dynobots. He’s also survived Earth, where he was turned into a zombie, eventually saw the Decepticons win the war, and even forced to work alongside those insane beings known as mankind.
Another of the earliest of Prime’s soldiers, Ironhide began as a member of the Cybertronian Civil Militia until he eventually joined the security services. As such, Ironhide was one of the first ‘bots to run into the Decepticon resistance before it turned into an all-out civil war. He was also a part of the security services when they were reorganized into the Autobots in order to fight against the ‘Cons, and he worked under Optimus Prime back when he was still going by Orion Pax. He started out not respecting Prime, but when Optimus proved willing to listen to the more experienced soldier, they eventually became much closer.
Of all of Prime’s earliest soldiers, Ironhide is the one most equipped for battling ‘Cons. Not in strategy, but when it comes to a combination of raw power and willingness to get his hands dirty, few can surpass Ironhide. He was there alongside Optimus when they battled the gigantic Trypticon, and he played as much a part in teaching Optimus how to be a warrior as much as Kup did in teaching him how to be a leader. He’s even nearly gotten himself killed protecting Optimus, something which proves how much he believes in the Autobot leader now. And the fact that he’s still alive proves just how stubborn he is when it comes to anything battle-related.
One of the most consistent characterizations about Jetfire is that he always starts out having joined or nearly joined the side of the Decepticons. In the G1 cartoons it was because he woke up after the war started and joined the same side as his friend Starscream. In the IDW comics it’s because he wanted to be a scientist but the Cybertronian government would have had him using his flight-based alt mode for defense or transportation. Believing Cybertronians should be allowed to follow their own desires rather than spend their lives working for someone else’s purpose, he even went far enough as to attack Optimus (back when he was Orion Pax) before being brought along on a case and learning the truth about the duplicitous nature of the Decepticons.
As one of the few flyers in the Autobot army, Jetfire is an invaluable combatant and still one of the smartest soldiers Optimus has working for him.
His intelligence helped him to bring down Thunderwing after Bludgeon revived him, keeping Cybertron from being consumed by the Decepticon that had already destroyed their homeworld once. Jetfire has also been a leader of his fellow Autobots from time to time because of the trust he’s fostered with Prime.
13 RODIMUS PRIME
Idealistic (and egotistical) to a fault, Rodimus started out completely unaffiliated at the beginning of the war. Turned off by Zeta Prime’s twisted and authoritarian way of ruling and the Decepticon’s terrorist behavior, he avoided both sides and spent time as part of a third faction until convincing Optimus to finally turn against Zeta. Over the years as the conflict between Decepticon and Autobot blazed into a full-grown war, Rodimus was forced again and again to witness what violence did to his fellow ‘bots and what it took to lead people through it.
Still, his tendency towards rash action combined with his desire to make a greater impact on society has lead to him dragging his own troops into several dicey situations. Still, Rodimus has done something that few other ‘bots on this list can even imagine: after the Matrix of Leadership was stolen by the Decepticons, he went on a quest to get it back, and even became its shepherd for a time until he could return it to Optimus Prime. And while his mission wasn’t executed perfectly, in doing so he was still able to garner respect from Optimus and earn the right to change his name from Hot Rod to Rodimus.
As a former Decepticon, it’s easy to believe that Drift could find his way onto this list. After all, the Decepticons are made up of gladiators, sadists, and Cybertronians that live and breathe war, while the Autobots mostly seem to made up of cops and former secret service types. Making his way to the Top 20 should be easy, especially since when Drift was the Decepticon Deadlock he was highly ranked in Megatron’s army. When he was Deadlock, Drift initially joined the Decepticons because an accident involving Autobot law enforcement led to his friend Gasket being murdered.
While working alongside the ‘Cons, Deadlock became a master of long-range weaponry and a reputation as a legendary fighter.
But after spending some time with the neutral Cybertronians known as the Circle of Light after millions of years working as a Decepticon, Drift came to realize how far away from their ideals his army had drifted. He spent time training with the Circle of Light, learning how to fight in close combat and use swords, and eventually came around to working with the Autobots. Though the sudden change of heart isn’t necessarily trusted by all the Autobots who watched Drift kill their comrades as Deadlock, he’s still one of the most deadly assets working for the good guys now.
No list like this could ever be complete without having at least one Combiner robot on it, and the greatest Autobot combiner is easily Superion of the Aerialbots. The biggest flaw all combiners have is the difficulty involved in forcing five (or more) separate minds to work together as one -- more often than not you wind up with cases like Computron who’s too smart for his own good, or Abominus who is far too bestial in nature. Superion is one of the few combiners who is able to unite all the different minds within him to work together for one purpose.
In the IDW universe, the Aerialbots were initially just a group of Autobots who had worked together for a long time. But after being dissatisfied with Bumblebee’s leadership after the war, they traversed out of the city and wound up getting attacked by Megatron, who experimented on them and gave them the ability to form into Superion. Eventually breaking free of Megatron’s control, they retained the ability to form into a Combiner, and have made themselves useful to the Autobots on more than one occasion. Still, while Superion is always useful, he’s also always getting hit with some major injury that makes him impossible to be used as a decisive part of an Autobot strategy. Once he even let his guard down around Devastator and wound up torn in half!
The strategist of the Autobot army. As one might expect of the Autobot who’s alt mode was a police car, Prowl began his life on Cybertron as a part of the Forensics Division. Prior to the war, Prowl had little to no combat experience, and was nearly killed chasing down a murderer when he was saved by Orion Pax, the ‘bot that would eventually become Optimus Prime. Like many Autobots who were around prior to the start of the war, Prowl was a part of Cybertron’s security services, and the increasingly violent actions of the Decepticons made him more devoted to the Autobot cause.
However, that doesn’t mean Prowl never had problems with his faithful leader’s orders.
Prowl’s biggest problem with literally every Autobot he ever met was he was almost too devoted to the cause, and obsessed with the most pragmatic options of finally bringing the war to a close and restoring order to Cybertron. To that end, Prowl’s had no problem resorting to whatever tricks necessary, such as making alliances with mad scientists in order to gain extra weaponry his fearless leader would never have approved of. Plus, he can combine with the Constructicons and lead them as Devastator -- which a part of going that extra step most Autobots would never even dream of.
As a member of Optimus Prime’s inner circle, Jazz has been fighting the Decepticons since the very beginning. He started out working with security services, but when the civil war broke out he was one of the first to fight off the Decepticons. And unlike many other characters on this list who only took to fighting because the whole planet was falling apart as a result of their civil war and not choosing a side simply wasn’t an option, Jazz is actually a great fighter.
Specifically, as a member of a rescue team assigned to recover some recently attacked ‘bots, Jazz went up against one of the most dangerous squadrons in the Decepticons, known as the Predacons. After seeing his own team brutally killed by the Predacons, Jazz managed to drag the only survivor of the Autobots he was meant to rescue -- Tracks -- to safety, and then faced off against all five of the Predacons. Through tricks, weapons, and good old hand to hand combat, he singlehandedly beat down several of them, and held down the leader until he could get reinforcements. After that, Jazz spent quite a bit of time working special ops missions for the Autobots, so he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty.
8 SENTINEL PRIME
As a member of a long lineage of Primes who existed before Optimus was ever given the mantle, Sentinel Prime plays a part in being one of the reasons why the Decepticons have such hatred for the Prime name to begin with. At least in the IDW Universe Sentinel was about as dirty as they came. As the head of security for Cybertron’s Senate, he engaged in creating a number of sleeper agents who would work in service to him. When he wasn’t creating his own miniature army, Sentinel spent a large part of his time killing people who even slightly opposed the Senate and their laws.
Worse than that, Sentinel’s actions helped foment the ‘bots who would eventually become the Decepticons by framing them in an attempt to gain more power for himself.
By the time war finally broke out, Sentinel had almost taken over the Senate for himself. Fortunately by this point Megatron had risen from the gladiatorial pits, and would eventually kill Sentinel Prime with his bare hands… though by that point things had already progressed to full on war. Powerful as he is, it’s hard to place him terribly high on the list when the guy faced the leader of the Decepticons in one on one combat and got murked.
7 ULTRA MAGNUS
Ultra Magnus is basically Prime-lite. He’s got the size, he transforms into a truck, he’s got the big, honkin’ one-handed cannon he totes around everywhere… but he lacks Prime’s ability to inspire troops into an army capable of fighting the most dangerous general ever invented. In certain timelines, this is because he’s constantly unsure of himself, questioning his actions while simultaneously demanding loyalty of his fellow Autobots. In the IDW timeline, it’s because he’s such an uptight guy it’s impossible to like him, let alone trust him.
Of course, the big deal in the IDW universe is Ultra Magnus is actually a small bot, Minimus Ambus, wearing massive armor. Turns out, Ultra Magnus was slain once in battle, but because someone believed he was a necessary figure on the battlefield, they created armor that resembled him and gave it to ‘bots known as “load bearers”, who could wear exoskeletons without a strain on their sparks. Minimus Ambus is the latest in a long line of these Ultra Magnii. This isn’t exactly a new idea either -- in the old Dreamwave comics, the Ultra Magnus look was revealed to be a suit of armor as well, and underneath he looked exactly like a Optimus Prime, albeit painted white. Still, it’s hard to be at the top if you keep having to be replaced…’cause you keep dying.
6 FORTRESS MAXIMUS
Fortress Maximus’ level of power tends to depend on the universe he’s in. In several universes -- like the original cartoon and the 2007 Transformers Animated cartoon series, Fort Max is one of a handful of city-bots, Transformers that are literally the size of a full city. In those cases, he’s legitimately one of the most powerful Autobots ever to walk the Earth…or any planet, really.
In the long-running IDW comics however, Fortress Maximus is a point-one percenter, an exclusive club of Cybertronians with special sparks that are one in a thousand.
There, he would go on to fight through countless battles for the Autobots before finally becoming the warden of Garrus-9, the Autobot prison where they kept prisoners of war and anyone who broke the law on either side. This lasted until the Phase Sixer Overlord arrived and overwhelmed the prison, where he would need to be rescued by the Wreckers sometime later. And although Fort Max was indeed defeated by Overlord, he would eventually get his chance for revenge in a one on one fight that resulted in him delaying the ‘Con long enough to knock him back into a cell…which got jettisoned and exploded. So he made up for his only noteworthy loss… plus he’s got guns in his legs. How can you hate on a guy who’s got guns in his legs?
As one of only a handful of female Transformers, Arcee has made appearances in nearly every version of Transformers created. However, by far the most effective version of her has been in IDW’s G1 series. Though the circumstances behind her introduction to the universe were… far less than ideal, later writers would rehabilitate her character, turning her from an unbalanced, psychopathic killing machine into… an emotionally balanced killing machine.
Arcee has the honor of being one of the oldest Transformers in the Autobot army, existing prior to both Cybertronian Civil Wars as Arcee of the Darklands, a slave that fought in ancient gladiatorial arenas. While there, she easily proved the superior of her brother Galvatron, and over millions of years honed her battle capabilities to levels most Autobots could scarcely dream of. She’s got a habit of constantly creating new bodies for herself, but her skills are unparalled -- equally good with both close combat and long-range weaponry, Arcee also lacks the compunction against killing that many of the other Autobots on this list has. She might not be a point-one percenter, or a combiner, but the number of battles she’s survived makes her a threat to anyone who gets in her way.
Grimlock is a terrifying opponent for anyone, ‘bot or ‘con… largely because sometimes it’s hard to tell what side he’s actually on, except for his Dinobot squadron. Grimlock made his first appearance in the original cartoons after being built by the other Autobots, who wanted to give dinosaur alt modes some new comrades. After being created, the Dinobots wound up attacking the other Autobots, and it was only after they saved Optimus and the others from the Decepticons that they were officially welcomed into the Autobot forces.
In the IDW G1 series, we meet Grimlock already locked up in a military jail for having ticked off his commander.
While there, he and his cellmate Slag formed a group known as the Dynobots. Though they spent quite a bit of time undergoing missions for the Cybertronian Senate and later the Autobots, Grimlock’s eventually joined the Decepticons for a time. But since he and Megatron get along worse than he and Optimus, Grimlock wound up back with the Autobots fairly quickly. If anything holds Grimlock back, it’s his lack of regard for his personal well-being -- several times Grimlock has placed his comrades over himself, a trait that doesn’t always work out to his benefit.
3 OPTIMUS PRIME
Optimus Prime started out as Orion Pax, a member of Cybertron’s police force and a genius at tactical combat. Optimus’ skill allowed him to rise through the ranks as a cop, eventually becoming a captain -- this would place him into key moments in Cybertronian history, as he dealt both with the corrupt Senate and the growing threat that was the terrorist Megatron and the Decepticon forces. Over time, Prime would turn the security forces he ran into the beginnings of the Autobot army, tamping down some of the damage the Decepticons inflicted, even as Megatron murdered both of the previous Primes before him, Sentinel and Zeta.
That really says it all about Optimus. If Megatron is an astonishing force for evil across the universe, striking fear into organic and Cybertronian life alike, then Optimus Prime is his opposite number. He’s spent millions of years holding back those forces of chaos, and he does it while keeping a strict moral code, and continuously believing in his mantra: that freedom is the right of all sentient beings. Which sounds all the more insane when you realize Megatron had no such concern, and was coming up with twisted new weapons to win the war every cycle -- to stand in the face of that, and keep his troops inspired, there’s no question he’s one of the most powerful Autobots ever.
2 OMEGA SUPREME
Omega Supreme is always one of the largest, most powerful ‘bots the Autobots have. A member of the Omega Sentinel guardian robots, Omega Supreme is one of the few Cybertronians on this list capable of remembering a time before both civil wars. He played a part in Cybertron’s first expansion period, visiting alien life… but it didn’t go too well, and his actions in first contact played a part in the bad outlook organic life has on Cybertronians.
Omega would miss millions of years of history after the twisted actions of Jhiaxus created the combiner Monstructor.
After putting it down, he simply decided to watch for Jhiaxus’ master, Nova Prime with the intent on protecting Cybertron from whatever threat he would bring next. And that’s a major part of Omega’s problem. Though he’s powerful enough to easily take out any Decepticon that would challenge him, he’s often away from battle for long stretches of time, where anything could happen. After vanishing for millions of years, he returned only to go away again, serving purely as an advisor to Optimus instead of wielding his vast strength to aid in the war. Between that, and the absurd amounts of energon it takes to keep him running, it’s hard to view him as the biggest gun the Autobots have.
Metroplex is by far the most powerful, most impressive weapon in the arsenal of the Autobot army. To begin with, he happens to be a cityformer, meaning his alternate mode is actually an entire city. And while there are no less than 13 other so-called “Colony Titans”, it’s understood Metroplex is supposed to be one of the first. He was there alongside Primus, aiding him in battle as well as eventually defeating the giant monster Trypticon.
Eventually, despite aiding his people and planet for millions of years, Metroplex faded into legend, and wouldn’t resurface before Megatron began to lay waste to the planet. Working under the command of Optimus Prime, Metroplex helped destroy many of the earlier weapons and forces of Megatron, keeping things relatively even between the two forces despite the Autobots still struggling to get things together early on. If Metroplex has any drawbacks, it’s that he’s almost too powerful -- several times over the course of the war he becomes the sole focus of Megatron’s attacks, as the Decepticons desire the secret to his space bridge teleporter. This makes him not quite viable as the base he’s meant to be, but still not any less dangerous in combat. Ultimately, just Metroplex’s presence has aided in turning the tide for the Autobots.