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Transformers: What Happened to Sam, Optimus Prime's Human Friend?

Transformers movie feature

As the iconic Transformers franchise transitioned to live-action cinema in 2007, the original trilogy of films starred Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky, a human teenager who quickly befriended the Autobots as they made their way to Earth as part of their ongoing conflict against the Decepticons. However, by the film series' fourth film, Sam and much of his supporting cast of human characters had disappeared, largely without explanation of their whereabouts as the franchise moved forward.

Now, we're taking a quick look back at Sam's role in bringing the Transformers franchise to the live-action big screen, from his pivotal actions in the first three films to what became of Bumblee and Optimus Prime's trusted, human friend.

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The Witwicky Legacy

Sam Witwicky is loosely inspired by Spike Witwicky, the human protagonist of the original Transformers animated series and comic book series. The Witwicky family had an extensive history as allies and friends of the Autobots during their time on Earth, as they faced danger with the family motto "no sacrifice, no victory."

The Witwicky history with the Transformers and family motto is kept intact in the action-packed live-action adaptations, with explorer Archibald Witwicky discovering a crashed Megatron frozen within the ice of the Arctic Circle in 1895. Archibald's contact with the Decepticon, who had arrived on Earth in pursuit of the AllSpark hidden by Optimus Prime, caused a map of the AllSpark's location to be imprinted into his glasses which were passed down through the Witwicky family for generations before coming into his great-great grandson Sam's possession in the original 2007 film.

Sam's Role in the Movies

Shia LaBeouf Transformers

In his first appearance, Sam attempts to sell off his ancestor's glasses in a desperate effort to raise funds as he prepares to buy his first car and go off to college. His first car turns out to be the wounded Autobot Bumblebee, disguised as a Chevrolet Camaro in a used car lot while Decepticons attack the American military in an effort to discover the whereabouts of Megatron and the AllSpark on Earth. Teaming with the rest of the Autobots as they rally, Sam is able to defeat Megatron and the Decepticons in an epic battle in downtown Los Angeles.

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The 2009 sequel Revenge of the Fallen would follow Sam as he began college, which was paid for by the American government for keeping knowledge of the Transformers a secret. Sam experienced strange Cybertronian visions due to his contact with the AllSpark in the previous film while the Decepticons revived Megatron and their ancient forbearer, the Fallen, to eliminate all life on Earth before their eventual defeat. The 2011 sequel Dark of the Moon had Sam search in vain for a job after graduating from college before being drawn into a renewed conflict between the Autobots and Decepticons over lost Cybertronian technology that had crashed on the Moon.

Sam's Final Fate

Transformers Shia LaBeouf

Sam and the Witwicky family were conspicuously absent in 2014's Age of Extinction, with the sequel following new protagonist Cade Yeager and his family five years after the events of Dark of the Moon as humanity moved on from the devastating Decepticon attack on Chicago. However, the 2017 sequel The Last Knight would revisit the Witwicky family history while teasing an ominous, if off-screen, fate for Sam and his family.

Five years after the events of Age of Extinction, Cade met Sir Edmund Burton, a British lord with extensive knowledge of the Transformers' activities on Earth, dating back to the Arthurian era in England. Burton claimed to be part of the Order of Witwiccans, a lineage of adventurers that had kept Transformer activity on Earth a secret for centuries. As a photo of Sam is briefly seen among imagery of other members of the order, Burton noted that he was the last surviving member, implying that not only Sam but his entire immediate family had been decimated sometime between the events of Dark of the Moon and The Last Knight, likely to keep them from using Cybertronian technology housed within Merlin's ancient staff.

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