For over 30 years, the Transformers franchise has entertained fans with its expansive world, fantastical premise, and endearing characters. Even though the franchise benefits from an eclectic and varied cast, Transformers fans tend to gravitate to the same names and faces. Of course, you’ll find the occasional lover of Razorclaw, or admirer of Brawn, but more often than not fan devotion tends to fall on the true icons of the franchise. The traitorous Starscream, upbeat Bumblebee, tyrannical Megatron, and of course heroic leader of leaders himself Optimus Prime.
Debatably one of the most recognizable heroes in science-fiction, Optimus Prime has stood in the imagination of fans as the embodiment of good in the Transformers universe. Though not present in every incarnation of Transformers, those that do feature the crimson commander have benefitted from his wisdom, determination, and desire for justice in all things. But in thirty long years of being in the public eye, the Transformers franchise has been pushed and pulled in numerous directions, with some of those interpretations being downright weird and strange. And as Transformers shifts and changes to meet the demands of its different incarnations, those same classic characters change with them transforming in ways beyond the implications of their namesake. Here is CBR's list of the weirdest facts surrounding the Last of the Primes and all the surreal changes he has faced evolving with his franchise.
20 HIS ORIGINAL ACTOR HAS OTHER NOSTALGIC ROLES
Optimus Prime has stayed in the imaginations of fans for so long thanks to his strong character and identifiable iconography which include his bold design and his firm yet friendly voice courtesy of vocal performer Peter Cullen. Cullen unknowingly tapped into something when creating Prime's vocal character, turning what was another acting gig into the creation of a pop culture staple.
Cullen's period voicing Prime lasted to the initial run of the series and has since reprised the role for various films, series, and video games. What is lesser known is the fact Cullen has also formed other childhood staples, such as the booming narrator in the original 1984 Voltron series, and the melancholic donkey Eeyore in various Disney productions.
19 HE CALLED NFL CORNERBACK RICHARD SHERMAN
Pop culture enthusiasts occasionally get compared to sports fans due to the fact they are both passionate communities that obsess over shared traditions, personalities, and spectacles. Sometimes these followers are even the same people, such as fans of both Transformers and the Detroit Lions rallying behind former wide receiver Calvin Johnson- aka "Megatron."
Not to be outdone, Seahawks cornerback at the time Richard Sherman christened himself Optimus Prime in preparation for a showdown between the two athletes in 2012. The story didn't stop there as the original voice actor of Prime Peter Cullen personally called Sherman in-character to offer him good luck and a few classic quotes. Showing that be it on the screen or in the field, the rivalry between Megatron and Prime is one that influences imaginations in all walks of life.
18 HE LOVES PEPSI
Big brand endorsement deals are nothing new for action cartoon stars, and Optimus Prime is no exception. In 1985 Hasbro and Pepsi teamed up to sell a special mail-away version of the G1 Optimus Prime figure. This limited edition figure came with a sticker of the Pepsi logo placed over the stripe of Optimus Prime's iconic trailer.
The Autobot's head honcho would not part forever with Pepsi in 1985. In 2005 Hasbro's international partner and Japanese toy company, Takara would release a new re-release of the G1 figure homaging the Pepsi Optimus Prime called Pepsi Convoy. Pepsi Convoy received a new color scheme, in-universe origin story explaining the Autobot Supreme Commander took his new sugary form and a modified trailer that could carry a 500ml-size bottle of soda. Pepsi Prime proves that quenching thirst is the right of all sentient beings!
17 HE GOT HIS NAME FROM COMIC BOOK LEGENDS
The somewhat known secret origin of Transformers starts with the Japanese toy company Takara-Tomy, known in the 80s as Takara, who wanted to get their popular Diaclone and Microman toylines into Western markets. Impressed with the design of the figures, toy company Hasbro suggested combining the toylines creating a new mythos and story, thus creating The Transformers.
But having a toyline, designs, and means very little without an imaginative world and story for them to inhabit in. Enter comic legends Jim Shooter and Denny O'Neil. Hasbro contacted Marvel Comics, run by Shooter at the time, who worked with O'Neil to flesh out the universe, personalities, and names for the Cybertronian characters. Though Shooter rejected a great many of O'Neil's names before handing the reins off to Bob Budiansky, O'Neil's contribution of Optimus Prime maintained.
16 HE IS FULL OF EXISTENTIAL DREAD
When the average person thinks of Optimus Prime, they think of a brave and steadfast leader who is ready to make tough decisions at any given moment. But hardcore fans of the series know depending on the continuity how much of a conflicted uncertain character Prime can be.
The animated series Transformers Animated, for example, presents a young inexperienced Prime scared and unsure of his ability as a leader. The first IDW Comics incarnation of Optimus meanwhile was a tortured idealist struggling to justify living up to a standard he believed in while coming to grips with a tarnished legacy of the corrupt Primes that came before him.
15 HE WAS IN A BAND WITH DECEPTICONS
Convention exclusive toys are strange needing to be unique enough to reward fans for traveling to the con, while at the same time, not so essential to be considered mainline figures and dishearten the fans who could not attend the convention. In an attempt to satisfy both needs, companies making exclusives can come up with real oddities, oddities like the Knights of Unicron.
A 2014 SDCC exclusive the Knights of Unicron is a pack of redeco toys based on the Fall of Cybertron video game. The set reimagines four classic Transformers characters and puts them together as an 80s hair metal band. With bright neon color schemes, soft goods to replicate gorgeous locks, and an assortment of rock and roll accessories KoU Megatron, Soundwave, Smooth Jazz, and Optimus Prime is ready to rock your world.
14 THERE ARE MULTIPLE EVIL CLONES OF HIM
Supervillains sure are a jealous bunch right? Not long after being repeatedly bested by a hero that they try and create clones servant of them. Lex Luthor did it with Bizarro, Jackal has made a whole cavalcade of Spider-Man clones, and the Decepticons can't seem to stop doing it with Prime.
The most noteworthy Prime clone is Nemesis Prime, sometimes who is a black version of Optimus created by Megatron, Unicron, Straxus, or evil humans depending on the continuity. Lesser known clones include the failed slimy abomination known as Toxitron, the Optimus Megatron Hybrid Guiltaur, and RID 2001's Scourge who is very similar to Nemesis Prime but classified as a separate character. When it comes to Prime's evil twins, there's always one of him hanging around.
13 HE HAS TEAMED UP WITH MICKEY MOUSE AND THE AVENGERS
In this day and age, the cross-over of popular properties has become an inevitability. But even in the hay day of the 80s fans loved seeing their favorite teams duking it out or teaming up. In the case of the Transformers, the Autobots first slummed around with heroes relating to the Marvel universe such as Spider-Man and the Avengers during their Marvel comics era.
Slightly less reasonable are the times Optimus Prime got help from Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. As part of a cross-promotion, Japanese company Takara-Tomy created the Disney Label. An exclusive toyline that released Transformers iterations of classic Disney characters, the Disney Label ranks include a trailer trucking Mickey and Volkswagon Beetle Donald gearing up to combat Decepticons. In contrast to this out there combo Prime's team up with Eva-01 is downright logical.
12 HE WAS ALMOST A GREEN LANTERN
Speaking of cross-overs a, unfortunately, failed one would've been the exciting tale of what would happen when DC Comic's Justice League collides head first with the Transformers universe. Pitched by writer and artist, as well as a passionate fan of both franchises, Phil Jimenez the story received enthusiasm from IDW Editor-In-Chief at the time Chris Ryall but did not intrust DC.
The tragedy of hits harder when viewing the stunning art Jimenez created for his pitch. Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet becoming an Autobot, the forces of Atlantis combating the aquatic Seacons, Flash protecting Central City as the Insecticons descend from above and most exciting of all, Optimus Prime soaring through space as a glowing member of the Green Lantern Corps. The thought of the Autobot Supreme Commander receiving an emerald ring should be a powerful enough image to release that series on the spot, but c'est la vie.
11 HIS SPARE BODY BECAME A SEPARATE CHARACTER
So an alien robot god steals some new robot bodies, one of which was intended to be the new body for war hero Optimus Prime, and plunges them into Earth so that they can absorb the energies of space, Earth, and humanity to create absurdly powerful robots. One of these "transtector" bodies bonds with a rebellions young Japanese man named Ginrai who then becomes a "Godmaster" and fights alongside the Autobots. Supernormal stuff for the 1989 anime Transformers: Super God-Masterforce.
Eventually, Ginrai's tenure as a cyborg superhero would end resulting in him bequeathing his transtector back to the Autobots. Due to spending time merged to Ginrai, the once hollow transtector developed a sentient personality identical to Ginrai. If that was at any point confusing you don't even want to hear about how the robot clone Ginrai eventually becomes a space lion called Victory Leo.
10 HE WAS ONCE VOICED BY A MEGATRON ACTOR
Though Peter Cullen may have originated the role he would far from be the last performer to bring Optimus Prime to life. Actors Gary Chalk and Neil Kaplan would in later years give their renditions of the character, though still clearly influenced by the foundation Cullen made. Though a game-changing portrayal of Prime would be on the horizon, this time voiced by possibly the least expected actor imaginable.
2007's Transformers Animated series offered an unconventional reconstruction of the Transformers lore. A new take on Optimus Prime was needed for this bold new rendition, resulting in the hiring of David Kaye for the role. Kaye was most known to most fans as the voice of Megatron in over a decade's worth of Transformers television. A bold decision at the time that led to among the most dynamic portrayals of the character to date.
9 HIS DEATH CAUSED A HUGE CONTROVERSY
The original animated Transformers movie, released in 1986, was an experiment in branding that would teach Hasbro many lessons about their beloved property. Hasbro had underestimated the levels of attachment their growing fanbase had developed with their characters and world. Hasbro didn't think twice about the multitudes of horrible fates that met so their classic characters in the film, including big man himself Optimus Prime.
To Hasbro, Optimus was just a toy that was no longer on the shelves and they wanted to replace him with a shiny new toy. But to the children, Optimus had become something of a fictional friend and mentor, making the already tragic scene of his death that much more traumatic.
8 HE IS A RESURRECTED MESSIAH
The legacy Optimus Prime inherits as a leader means different things depending on the continuity. Iterations like Transformers Animated explain the rank of Prime as a military rank and title, the live-action films use it to indicate Optimus hails from a grand and noble legacy, but other continuities still add even higher heights to his legacy.
In the Aligned continuity, Optimus is revealed to be the reincarnation of one of the original Transformers or one of the "Thirteen Primes," an idea toyed around within the IDW comics continuity as well though in a less literal way. Both cases, however, take the classic commander and explore what it means for him to been seen by others as a flat out religions icon.
7 HE IS BANNED FROM A MULTIVERSAL HUB
The city of Axiom Nexus is potentially the greatest act of fan-indulgence in the entire Transformers expanded universe. A city existing in a war-free Cybertron of an alternate universe, Axiom Nexus is under the control of evolved Cybertronians called the transcendent technomorphs or Transtehcs. The Transtechs offer refuge and guidance to the various inhabitants of the multiverse, making it a multiversal.
There are of course some individuals and items banned ensure no violence or chaos within its walls: no Megatrons, no Deus Ex Machinas, and no Optimus Primes. Every rule has its exception and for a Prime stuck in Axiom Nexus the option of serving in The Convoy is available. The Convoy is a council of Primes and leaders from various universe who assist the Transtechs in governing Axiom Nexus.
6 HE HAS TRANSFORMED INTO A CAP, SHOE, AND WATCH
You all remember that weird Pepsi and Mickey Mouse stuff right? Want more of that? Okay cool, let's look at more of that. The inherent premise of Transformers turning into everyday objects and items has led to some interesting one-off products, mostly licensed with other companies, and practically always from Japan.
The Sports Label series showed what happens when the leaders of the Autobots and Decepticons turn into some fresh Nikes, while the Cap Bots worked with the New Era Cap Company to create Captimus Prime. The most recent version of this kind of venture came in the form of Casio teaming up with Takara-Tomy to create a G-SHOCK watch that transformed into Optimus Prime. One thing G-SHOCK Prime his other apparel Primes is a rad promotional video made to advertise the watch.
5 HE WAS ONCE A LIBRARIAN AND A SUPERCOP
The humble beginnings of a hero often hold immense curiosity for people. What were our legends like in their youths? Were they born to greatness or was it achieved over time? Optimus Prime has had a few different origins over the years, always under the name of optimistic youth Orion Pax.
The Dreamwave and Aligned continuities show Pax as a young pacifistic data clerk who can no longer stomach growing violence around him. The original G1 cartoon showed Pax as a humble worker before he was mortally injured by Megatron's rising Decepticons. The most Prime-like of all of his origins though showed Prime as a bot of action supercop. A man born to greatness and eager to use his talents for change in whatever way possible. Different beginnings, same name, same hero.
4 HE KNOWS WHERE BABIES COME FROM (AND IT BLEW HIS MIND)
Transformers Animated is praised by fans for its expert mixing of mature storytelling and whimsical humor. TFA tackled PTSD, ethics of using weapons of mass destruction in war times, but still found the room to do witty wordplay and classic slapstick.
A great example of this comes in the form of human companion Sari Sumdac explaining to Prime how human children are born. Prime is confused about how humans can change due to Cybertron being a society where humans come to existence in their default state. Well, he asked for information, and the information is what he received, the expression of abject confusion at that realization giving fans cut busting laughter 12 years later.
3 HE MET PRESIDENT REAGAN
The Autobots are often interacting with various military and government officials. Sometimes these officials are supportive and work with the metallic defenders of good, and other times they antagonistically combat them fearing their destructive capabilities. The story involving a fictitious version of 40th President of the United States Ronald Reagan is a little bit of both.
In the 1985 annual of The Transformers UK series, Optimus Prime meets with President Reagan to discuss a permanent relationship between the Autobots and the US government. Megatron sends the Insecticons to sabotage the meeting causing them to separate. The use of a real-life political in a Transformers story is surreal to say the least, let alone one as synonymous with the 80s as Ronald Reagan.
2 HE DRESSED UP AS SANTA ONCE
Another story from the Marvel UK era of Transformers shows us festive Autobots celebrating the season of the Yule. In The Transformers #41, the Autobots prepare a last-minute celebration for human ally Buster Witwicky complete with metal Christmas tree and jolly red Santa suit for jolly old St. Optimus Prime.
It makes no surprise that the Autobots would be excited by the season of Christmas taking great joy in participating in other Earthling experiences such as nature, music, and dancing. However, it is jarring, all the same, how odd the Autobots military commander looks in an oversized Santa suit. Where'd they get that anyway? Big, Big, Big and Tall, Tall, Tall?
1 KISS PLAYERS?!?
Perhaps the most reviled corner of the entire Transformers continuity is that of the storyline Kiss Players. A Japanese exclusive manga and toyline revolving around the titular Kissplayers, human women gifted with the ability to kiss and merge with a Transformer to give them heightened superpowers, and their Autobot companions. Essentially the transtector concept from Super God Masterforce but a lot creepier.
Though the concept of inter-species dating in Transformers isn't consistently disliked by fans, Kiss Players depiction of the concept with a heavy emphasis on the anime "cute girls" esthetic left some fans feeling weird. Especially in regards to Optimus Prime's partner Marissa Faireborne, the only Kiss Player brought over from previous continuity, fan favorite from season 3 of the G1 cartoon, and daughter of two GI Joes. Had to be awkward for those two to interact in the IDW books.