Fans of the cartoon series were hotly anticipating the release of The Transformers: The Movie in 1986. However, those young fans were in for quite a rude awakening. You see, unbeknownst to them, Hasbro had taken a bizarre approach to the plot of the first feature film to feature its transforming robot characters. Hasbro saw the film as an opportunity to sell the young audience a whole pile of brand-new Transformers toys. Therefore, executives decided to use the film to eliminate the toys that they were no longer producing.
So, they had the creators of the movie kill off most of the original Transformers and Decepticons. It was a shocking bloodbath for young viewers to see all of their favorite heroes and villains slaughtered in front of their eyes. It was so shocking, in fact, that it resulted in a backlash. Hasbro quickly edited the then-upcoming G.I. Joe film to keep the character of Duke from dying, as was originally planned. Here, we will rank the deaths in the film in terms of how savage they were.
15. DENIZENS OF LITHONE
The film did not last long before letting viewers know that things were not going to go the way they expected. In the opening scene of the movie, we meet Unicron, who is basically a riff on Galactus, in that it is a giant robot planet that devours other robot planets (perhaps non-robot planets, as well, but we only ever see him eat robot planets).
We see the people of Lithone desperately try to evacuate their planet before it is devoured. Tragically, even some of the escape crafts horrifically get pulled back in due to the gravity effect of Unicron. It is a chilling opener to the film and it certainly sets viewers up for the carnage that is about to follow very soon after (although with more familiar characters, which is why the people of Lithone are ranked so low).
14. WINDCHARGER AND WHEELJACK
Here is how disturbing the death toll is in this movie: there is so much killing that we don’t even get to see all of the Transformers who are murdered! There are a number of Autobots whose death were never even shown in the movie, but were only confirmed later on in the episodes of the television series that followed the film.
It’s debatable which would be preferable — to have your death happen off screen and then confirmed months later on the TV series, or what happened to Windcharger and Wheeljack. We did not see their deaths, but we did get to see their dead robot bodies in the film. It’s extremely disconcerting seeing them laying there with their insides hanging out. Since we didn’t see their deaths on screen, though, we couldn’t rank them any higher.
13. OPTIMUS PRIME
Here’s the thing about Optimus Prime’s death in the film. There is no doubt that his death rattled viewers to their core. Here was the seemingly invincible leader of the Transformers and he’s dead? It just doesn’t seem right. However, unlike some of the other Transformers listed on this countdown, Optimus Prime actually went out really well.
He showed up and destroyed a whole bunch of Decepticons and fatally wounded his old enemy, Megatron. It’s just that he was fatally wounded, as well. He got to die on a bed, surrounded by his closest friends. He even got the chance to pass the Matrix of Leadership to his old friend, Ultra Magnus (as it turned out, it wasn’t supposed to go to Ultra Magnus, but that’s neither here nor there). So, in the grand scheme of things, Optimus Prime had a great death.
12. TRACKS AND RED ALERT
Again, as noted, there were so many deaths in The Transformers: The Movie that they could not fit them all into the actual film. In fact, they went as far as to storyboard the deaths of other characters but they were not actually animated. It might be cheating a bit to count these characters’ demises on the list, but they end up dying fairly brutally, so we’re still going to count them.
Tracks, Red Alert and Side Swipe all climb aboard Ultra Magnus (he transforms into a car transporter). They then all transform and fight off the invading Decepticons. They then have to turn and retreat. While they are retreating, the Decepticons shoot them in their backs, killing them where they stand. It was a messed up way to go.
The particularly tragic thing for Ratchet when he died is that if there was any Autobot around who might have had a chance of saving his life, it would have been him, as he was the Autobot medic! Ratchet had to watch as his friends Brawn and Prowl were murdered in front of his eyes. He and Ironhide at least got the chance to return fire on the Decepticons.
However, the Decepticons were able to use the hole that they blasted into the Autobot ship as a shield, allowing them to evade Ratchet and Ironhide’s blasts and return fire, exploding Ratchet’s chest in disturbing detail. Seeing the smoke billowing out of his body was a shocking sight for young viewers, especially since Ratchet was such a kindhearted member of the Autobots.
Kickback’s death in the film is part of a strange trend in the movie. You see, the idea for the film was to replace the old characters with brand-new ones. In the case of the Autobots, it was simply introducing new members who took over upon their deaths. In the case of the Decepticons, however, it was a matter of the old guard being transformed into new beings.
As a result, you could argue that none of the Decepticons actually died in the film. However, we’ve decided to instead count the ones who sure seemed dead, only to be later revived (even Optimus Prime came back to life, after all). So we’re counting the hilarious scene where Hot Rod and Kup use Kickback’s head as a ramp to get back to Autobot City, crushing his head in the process, to be a death.
In general, Brawn’s death really isn’t all that brutal. Compared to Ratchet’s exploding chest, Brawn’s simple laser blast death is seemingly pretty tame. However, there is a lot more significance to Brawn’s death. You see, Brawn is the first Autobot killed in the film. Up until this point, Autobots and Decepticons had been receiving laser blasts from each other for two seasons!
Smetimes they would simply shake the fire off and sometimes they would get damaged but they would just repair themselves by the end of the episode. So, to the viewers coming into the film who were familiar with the TV show, Brawn getting shot and dying was a major shock to the system. It noted the point where the entire game was changed in the Transformers franchise.
8. MORE DECEPTICONS
As noted earlier, it’s debatable if any Decepticons died in battle with the Autobots in Transformers: The Movie. There are a lot of clearly wounded Decepticons (the ones who get transformed into new beings by Unicron), but it is unclear how many of their party were just flat-out killed before they were changed (if they were changed at all).
Since we can’t tell for sure, we’re just going to assume that some of the Decepticons who Optimus Prime blasted died. With that in mind, the gauntlet that Optimus Prime ran (all to the tune of “The Touch”) was one of the most impressive feats of awesomeness imaginable. He drives up to a heavily fortified enemy position and just starts mowing down Decepticons left and right, before getting fatally wounded while fighting Megatron.
7. ULTRA MAGNUS
Ultra Magnus was one of Optimus Prime’s oldest friends (and, let’s face it, the toy version of Ultra Magnus was basically just a re-worked Optimus Prime figure). He seemed to be the obvious choice to be the next leader of the Transformers, but it turned out that he was not the pick. Of course, to be fair to Optimus Prime, he did not have a whole lot of time to choose his successor.
That is what made Ultra Magnus’ death so sad later in the film. He tries to use the Matrix of Leadership to save the day and it won’t work because it wasn’t meant for him. So he just gets shot to death and the Matrix is stolen by Galvatron. In the original script, he was drawn and quartered! Ultra Magnus luckily gets brought back to life later in the movie.
6. DECEPTICONS EATEN BY UNICRON
Even after surviving what should have been his death and getting reborn as Galvatron, the being who was once known as Megatron couldn’t help but be his typical jerk self when he was commissioned by Unicron to deliver the Matrix of Leadership to him because the Matrix was the only thing that could destroy Unicron. Instead of delivering it, Galvatron decided to try to use it to take control of Unicron.
Unicron responds by transforming into a giant robot and starts destroying Cybertron, the home of the Transformers. A whole bunch of Decepticons are shown flying into Unicron’s mouth and we see him chomp down, destroying them all at once. Imagine surviving almost the entire movie only to die in the last few minutes in a failed effort to stop Unicron! What a bummer.
As it turned out, the Autobot who was supposed to get the Matrix of Leadership all along was Hot Rod, who finally uses the Forc… sorry, activated the Matrix of Leadership while trapped inside of Unicron with the rest of his Autobot friends. The Matrix transforms him into Rodimus Prime (sounds like a Transformers adult film star name) and he then uses the Matrix to explode Unicron from within.
The heroes manage to escape through a hole blown through Unicron’s eye, so Unicron is standing there with just one eye when the power expands and finally sets off a chain reaction that explodes his entire body, leaving just a giant head in orbit around Cybertron (which has conveniently been taken over by the Autobots in the last few minutes of the film for no good reason).
4. ARBLUS AND KRANIX
As noted earlier, the opening sequence of The Transformers: The Movie consisted of Unicron destroying the peaceful robot planet of Lithone. A few survivors managed to escape in spaceships. Tragically, however, one of the spaceships then crash-landed on the planet of the sadistic Quintessons. Kup and Hot Rod also get captured by the Quintessons. They arrive just in time to see Arblus, presumably the second last of his race, getting eaten by Sharkticons.
They were thrown into a cell with Kranix, who warned them of Unicron before he, too, was sentenced to death by Sharkticons. Eaten alive by Sharkticons has got to be pretty high up on the list of worse ways for a robot to die (number one will always be overheating after being given an unsolvable logic problem).
There are a few moments in Transformers: The Movie where you simply have to wonder, “What in the world were the animators thinking? Who are they aiming this film at?” One of those moments is in the sneak attack by the Decepticons upon the Autobot ship at the beginning of the film. After Brawn is killed, Prowl, one of the more prominent Autobots in the first season, runs in to avenge his fallen friend.
He, too, is blasted and killed. For whatever reason, the animators decided to zoom in on his face as we see the sheer horror upon it as his life fades from his robotic body. It is extremely unnerving and not really all that at place in a film supposedly aimed at a young audience.
With Megatron being transformed into Galvatron, the second most important lasting death in the film turns out to be Starscream, Megatron’s longtime second-in-command. For years, Starscream had been plotting against his leader, but not until the battle of Autobot City did Starscream have a chance to take over control of the Decepticons. With Megatron and others badly damaged and the Decepticon transport vehicle low on fuel, Starscream kicked all of the wounded out of the shuttle.
He then became the leader of the Decepticons. Sadly for him, however, Megatron survived and became Galvatron. He showed up on Cybertron and literally annihilated Starscream, blasting him into dust in front of the others, with his crown rolling on the ground down to Galvatron. Like Optimus Prime, this would not be the end for Starscream (he came back later as a ghost).
Like Prowl, Ironhide was one of Optimus Prime’s most trusted lieutenants. He often served as Prime’s personal bodyguard. Being so trusted, Prime put Ironhide and Prowl in charge of an important mission of going to Autobot City to get enough Energon cubes to bring back to Moonbase so that the Autobots could power themselves on an attack on Cybertron to take back control of the planet.
Of course, Ironhide’s ship was assaulted by the Decepticons on the way to Earth and Ironhide saw his friends murdered in front of him. When Megatron boasted about using the ship to evade the enemy detection of Autobot City, Ironhide valiantly tried to grab at Megatron, even though he was near death. Megatron then shot him flat in the head, killing him outright. That is gangland style right there.
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