10 demented moments from the original Transformers cartoon

Illustration for article titled 10 demented moments from the original Transformers cartoon

Transformers: Dark of the Moon may be aggressively stupid, but the film comes from a rich tradition of vehicular robots acting like nutbars. Here are 10 moments from the Generation 1 cartoon that would make HAL shrug in confusion.

Megatron compresses his several-ton body into the size of handgun
In the original cartoon, Megatron's Earth transformation is that of a Walther .P38. Totally underwhelming for the series' grand poobah villain, but this form made him incredibly toyetic.

By the way, Optimus fired Megatron more than once. This one's for you, slash-fictionauts.

The Socialist Democratic Federated Republic of Carbombya
Two episodes of the Generation 1 animated series saw the robots in disguise travel to the Libya-analogue dictatorship of Carbombya. Why did the nation have such a charming name? It was the 1980s, doy.


Transformers voice actor/noted radio personality Casey Kasem is Lebanese Druze, and he was less than impressed with the show's depictions of Arabs. Said Kasem in 1990:

A few years ago, I was doing one of the voices in the TV cartoon series, "Transformers." One week, the script featured an evil character named Abdul, King of Carbombya. He was like all the other cartoon Arabs. I asked the director, "Are there any good Arabs in this script for balance?" We looked. There was one other-but he was no different than Abdul. So, I told the show's director that, in good conscience, I couldn't be a part of that show.

If you can't get Shaggy to play ball, you know you're doing something horribly wrong.

To spend time with a comely mermaid, the hovercraft Transformer becomes a bodice-ripping hunk with metal feet
In the extremely curious episode "Sea Change," Sea Spray (the gargle-voiced hovercraft Autobot) falls in love with a sexy fish-babe named Alana. Heavy petting's no fun when your crotch is a cup holder, so Sea Spray takes a dip inside a mystical pool so he can transform into a butch merman. It's like Hans Christian Andersen's Tetsuo: The Iron Man.


However the magical transformation only takes 90%, and Sea Spray's feet are still made out of fax machines. Later, Alana uses the magic pool to become a femmebot who can transform into one of the boats from the Norway ride at Epcot Center. By the end of the episode, Sea Spray and Alana decide that they work best when he's a clanking maritime abomination and she's an easily squashable ichtyo-sapien. Amour!

A teenager falls in love with a jet plane
Incidentally, "Sea Change" wasn't the only episode to explore meat-on-rust relationships. "The Girl Who Loved Powerglide" may sound like a water-soluble submission to Penthouse Forum, but it was actually a bizarre episode about a teenage girl named Astoria who had the hots for the Autobots' cone-domed jet.


By the end of the episode, Astoria's love is reciprocated. I suppose — by extension — that in the Transformers Universe, marrying love pillows isn't taboo. PS: One of these days, I'm going to have review the wholly repugnant Transformers: Kiss Players franchise.

Completely left-field swearing in Transformers: The Movie
Along with the tear-jerking death of Optimus Prime, Transformers: The Movie is remembered for four things: Stan Bush's "The Touch" and the totally inexplicable profanity dropped by the human Spike. The third thing is "Dare To Be Stupid" by Weird Al and the final one is...


Orson Welles' last role was voicing a planet-sized robot
Yes, Citizen Kane Orson Welles. Yes, the Paul Masson Orson Welles. What were the corpulent auteur's thoughts on this final role? He was happy to play a whole planet.


As a side note, I always get somewhat teared-up when Megatron transforms in Galvatron. It's the circle of life, man.

A wizened COBRA Commander guest-stars
In the episode "Only Human," a terrorist in a fantastic wide-brimmed chapeau known as "Old Snake" uses his technological know-how to put the Autobots' consciousnesses in human bodies.


It was definitely neat seeing a nod to G.I. Joe, but there's something existentially unsettling about COBRA Commander receives AARP benefits. I mean, shit, even our nostalgia is getting old.

A Decepticon looks up robo-porn
In the opening of the episode "Starscream's Ghost," the Decepticon Octane can be found tuning in to a sultry robot pin-up model. Sadly, his crank session's interrupted by a bomb hidden on his ship.


This episode sent a clear message to impressionable youngsters: don't ogle old National Geographics or your house will explode.

The Decepticons run a nightclub, hypnotize 1980s hipsters
Every Hasbro cartoon needed an episode in which the music of the day turned fashionable teenagers into mindless drones. G.I. Joe had the evil-rock-song episode "Cold Slither", whereas the Transformers had "Auto-Bop," in which Soundwave brainwashed kids by deejaying at the Danceteria Dancitron nightclub.


As a tribute to the fact that this episode's plot was unabashedly recycled, you can hear the instrumental of "Cold Slither" blasting in Dancitron.

"Decepticon Day"
The two-part episode "Megatron's Master Plan" saw the Decepticons dupe humanity into believing that the Autobots are evil. Naturally, this led to the Decepticons getting their own parade while all of the moron humans cheer their epiglottises off.


The best scene is the Decepticon's presence at the teen sock-hop. Once again, Soundwave is hip with the kids and surrounded by an entourage of underage ingenues.

For more Transformers ridiculousness, also see the time the Decepticons got wasted and the utter wildness of Transformers: Headmasters.


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Chinedu Opara

I saw Transformers 3 today. Once final time, Michael Bay assaulted my senses while repeatedly r*ping my childhood memories. Aside from Leonard Nimoy's voice (total nerdgasm!!) and some bad-ass fight scenes, TF3 was just one giant, mind-numbing explosion. Insert sadface here.

I'm gonna have to watch the Transformers animated movie next week just to remember what made the series so cool (hint: the original series did NOT have jumbles of metal-grey spikes nor multi-tentacled "robot" serpentine creatures... I mean seriously, WTF, Michael Bay????)