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10 Best Robots in ‘Transformers,’ Ranked

It is practically a cliché at this point to say that, in the world of Transformers, there is more than meets the eye. Beginning with the original cartoon in 1984 (later designated as Generation 1/G1), the franchise tells the tale of warring factions of sentient robots from the planet Cybertron, predominantly the peace-loving Autobots and the tyrannical Decepticons. Led by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and Megatron (Frank Welker), respectively, they bring their fight to multiple worlds, especially Earth, where the Autobots vow to protect the human race.




Some have dismissed the Transformers franchise as little more than a giant ploy to sell toys for children. But those same children have grown up to remember the characters from the multiple animated shows and live-action movies with fond nostalgia. The backstories and character beats change with every new iteration, but there are always small elements that remain the same throughout all incarnations. These are the best robots in the Transformers series, badass and unforgettable machines that inject this long-lived franchise with endless and contagious energy.


10 Mirage

Designation: Autobot

Mirage on the street in transformers rise of the beasts
Image via Paramount Pictures


One of the more pacifistic Autobots, Mirage can transform into a racer or sports car, turn himself invisible, and cast illusions to deceive his enemies, hence his name. His G1 incarnation (Frank Welker) was friendly to the point of showing off his power to Spike Witwicky (Corey Burton) and proved essential in defeating the Decepticons in the cartoon’s first major story arc after sneaking onto their ship while invisible and blasting the controls before they could flee the battle.

Perhaps his most significant role since G1 came in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. In that film, Mirage (Pete Davidson) is unintentionally carjacked by Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos) but decides to befriend him and bring him to the Autobot base, kick-starting the film’s plot. Thus, Mirage joins the group of best movie robots, taking Bumblebee’s place as the Autobot with a human bond. However, Mirage has a more playful, wisecracking personality than the more childlike, innocent, and mute Bumblebee.


Transformers Rise Of The Beasts Poster

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

Release Date
June 9, 2023

Runtime
127 minutes

Writers
Joby Harold , Matt Holloway , Art Marcum , Darnell Metayer , Ken Nolan , Josh Peters

Watch on Paramount+

9 Soundwave

Designation: Decepticon

The robot Soundwave standing still in G1 Transformers
Image via Hasbro

One of the more distinctive soldiers in the Cybertonian war, Soundwave (Frank Welker) is a cold, stoic taskmaster and the Decepticon communications officer. Among his abilities, he can transform into a cassette recorder, analyze and interfere with any transmission, and release a variety of small, animal-like robotic spies from his chest, including cat Ravage, bird Lazerbeak, and literal earth-shaker Rumble.


While the other robots have traits that make them resemble humanity to a fault, Soundwave is distinctly menacing due to his quiet, emotionless, and more automatized personality, embodying the classic trope of the evil robot. What he lacks in a sense of humor, he more than makes up for with intelligence and firepower. His Transformers: Prime incarnation is especially creepy, to the point where his only spoken words in the series are a taunt he gives to the Autobots when they try to hack into his system: “Soundwave superior. Autobots inferior”.

The Transformers

Release Date
September 17, 1984

Creator
Hasbro/Takara Tomy

Seasons
3


8 Grimlock

Designation: Dinobot/Autobot

The robot Grimlock with a smaller robot on its back in G1 Transformers-1
Image via Hasbro

What’s cooler than a robot that can transform into a car, train, or plane? How about a robot that can transform into a dinosaur? The Dinobots were introduced in Season 2 of G1 to keep the toy line moving beyond their initial set-up of cars, vehicles, and planes. The leader of this crew of Autobot outsiders is the dim-witted but brave Grimlock (Greg Berger), who transforms into a Tyrannosaurus rex.

While far from the smartest robot and resentful of the Autobots’ authority, Grimlock is strong, means well, and will do the right thing when the time comes. When he made his live-action debut in Transformers: Age of Extinction, his appearance was radically changed to look like a T-Rex skeleton possessed by a demon for Optimus to ride into battle. While this change came at the cost of his silly personality, it still showed how cool the concept of a Dinobot truly is.


Transformers age of Extinction Poster

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Release Date
June 27, 2014

Runtime
165 minutes

Writers
Ehren Kruger

7 Arcee

Designation: Autobot

A close-up of the robot Arcee looking shocked in Rise of the Beasts
Image via Paramount Pictures

When The Transformers: The Movie was released in 1986, it introduced a new cast of Autobots that took the roster of those brutally killed off in the film’s first act. Among these new Autobots is the franchise’s most well-known female transformer, Arcee (Susan Blu). Brought on board under commanding officer Ultra Magnus, she became one of the essential Autobot members, lasting until the end of the original series.


While her appearances became far less frequent afterward, she has since become more prominent, in large part thanks to her depiction in Transformers: Prime. Bonding with the human teen Jack Darby (Josh Keaton), Arcee (Sumalee Montano) had a sarcastic, tough-as-nails personality that hid a caring side, afraid to get too close to people since the deaths of her previous Autobot companions. Since then, she has become a favorite in the Transformers roster, having a cameo in Bumblebee and a supporting role in Rise of the Beasts (voiced by Liza Koshy).

6 Optimus Primal

Designation: Maximal

Optimus Primal meets Optimus Prime and the rest of the Autobots in Peru
Image via Paramount Pictures


The lead protagonist of the G1 spin-off series Beast Wars, Optimus Primal (Gary Chalk) is the leader of the Maximals, a group of Autobot descendants that can transform into animals and crash-land on prehistoric Earth. Able to transform into a gorilla while attempting to live up to his namesake, Primal must lead the Maximals against their enemies while trying to find a way back home.

Initially an inexperienced leader, Primal begins the series with a more youthful and rule-bending demeanor than Optimus Prime. He slowly grows into a leader who stands apart from Optimus while learning from his style of leadership, even if he doesn’t always come across as an authority figure. In some respects, his depiction in Rise of the Beasts, voiced by Ron Perlman, is older, wiser, and capable of inspiring Optimus to carry a more optimistic view toward humanity and life apart from their kind.


5 Starscream

Designation: Decepticon

The robto Starscream smiling in G1 Transformers
Image via Hasbro

Jealous, sneaky, and a schemer to a fault, Starscream (Chris Latta) is the most well-remembered Decepticon apart from Megatron himself. Usually the second-in-command, he desires to be the true ruler of the Decepticons more than anything, to the point where he is willing to betray Megatron and anyone who gets in his way to seize power. Notably, during the events of The Transformers: The Movie, he leaves Megatron to die in space, literally crowning himself the new Decepticon leader. Unfortunately, Megatron returns in a new form and kills him during his coronation ceremony.


This wannabe conqueror’s many attempts throughout the franchise to usurp Megatron’s authority provide a good amount of comedy, but that does not distract from how dangerous he can be. In Transformers: Prime, Starscream (Steve Blum) displays a talent for killing Autobots, killing Cliffjumper (Dwayne Johnson) in the first episode. Given his more dangerous habits, it’s arguably a godsend that Megatron constantly keeps him in check.

4 Unicron

Designation: Himself/Decepticon

The giant planet robot Unicron setroying a smaller planet with a beam in G1 Tranformers
Image via Hasbro

What’s more intimidating than a robot that can transform into a car, animal, or dinosaur? How about a robot that can transform into an entire planet? While Megatron may be the most prominent villain in Transformers, Unicron is the closest thing the franchise has to a true big bad. Much like the Marvel villain Galactus, Unicron’s only goal is to move from planet to planet, consume it and destroy all its life, then move onward to the next one.


Unicron made his debut in The Transformers: The Movie, speaking with the majestic voice of Orson Welles in his last role before passing. Unicron is a cold, terrifying, cruel being who may aid the Decepticons on occasion but will only do so if it benefits his plans of universal destruction. He turns Megatron into Galvatron (Leonard Nimoy) but forces him to obtain the Matrix of Leadership under threat of death. Megatron may seek to conquer, but Unicron seeks only to destroy.

3 Bumblebee

Designation: Autobot

Bumblebee the robot looking down at something in Bumblebee
Image via Paramount Pictures

Over his many incarnations, Bumblebee has transformed from a 1970 Volkswagen Beetle to a Yellow Chevrolet. The most well-known Autobot in the franchise, apart from Optimus Prime, Bumblebee is loyal, kind, and willing to face danger if it means helping his friends. Whether in G1 or other versions, Bumblebee is the Autobot with the strongest bond with humans.


While the G1 version of Bumblebee (Dan Gilverson) has a color scheme and relationship with humans that help him stand out from the other Autobots, his popularity among younger audiences kicked into overdrive when he became the primary robot protagonist of the 2007 live-action movie. Rendered unable to talk without his car radio due to an injury from the War of Cybertron, his relationship with Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) became the heart of the film. As a result, his popularity skyrocketed among general audiences to the point where he would get the acclaimed spin-off Bumblebee, detailing his injury.

bumblebee-poster

Bumblebee

Release Date
December 15, 2018

Runtime
114

Writers
Christina Hodson


2 Megatron

Designation: Decepticon

A close-up of Megatron in Transformers
Image via Paramount Pictures

While Unicron and the Quintessons may be the largest forces of evil throughout the Transformers saga, Megatron (Frank Welker) is by far the most recurring villain. Usually portrayed as a former gladiator named Megatronus, he later shortened his name and sought to launch a political revolution against the corrupt Cybertronian government. But once he finally achieved power, Megatron became corrupted, battling his former mentee, Optimus Prime, for the fate of the universe.


His distaste for humanity and other life forms can be seen in his transformation modes in nearly all his versions, which range from a handheld gun to vehicles that do not resemble any from Earth. While he may have had his good qualities once, Megatron is nowa tyrannical dictator on a quest to rule and destroy any life forms he deems unworthy. Depending on the incarnation, he can have a sense of humor, be a deadly serious threat, or, in the case of the animated series Transformers: EarthSpark, one of the good guys. No matter the version, Megatron is always an intimidating force not to be messed with.

transformers-2007-poster

Transformers

Release Date
July 3, 2007

Runtime
144

Writers
Roberto Orci , Alex Kurtzman , John Rogers

1 Optimus Prime

Designation: Autobot

Autobot Optimus Prime Prepares for battle.
Image via Paramount Pictures


Lead commander of the Autobots, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) is the face and beating heart of the entire franchise. Originally a low-level worker named Orion Pax, he finds himself inspired by the teachings of gladiator-turned-political revolutionary Megatronus. Pax becomes a loyal mentee to him, only to be dismayed at his corruption once he seized power. Aided by Autobot leader Alpha Trion and the Matrix of Leadership, Pax becomes a new leader with the name Optimus Prime.

Revered among cult audiences of all ages on the level of Mufasa and Superman, Optimus Prime sees value in every life and is always on the lookout for peace while never backing down from a fight. He is the type of leader kids everywhere look up to and adults remember as a guiding influence. While not always devoid of more humorous and sarcastic personality traits, one element of Optimus’s character is always present: his commitment to protecting the human race in any way he can.


Transformers Revenge of the Fallen Movie Poster

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Release Date
June 19, 2009

Runtime
147

Writers
Ehren Kruger , Roberto Orci , Alex Kurtzman

NEXT: 10 Best Transformers That Haven’t Rolled Out on the Big Screen Yet

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