Retrospective on Transformers Cartoons from Generation 1 to Beast Wars

Retrospective on Transformers Cartoons from Generation 1 to Beast Wars

Originally, the Hassenfield Brothers, Hasbro, and Japanese toy company Takara Tomy formed a joint venture to create the Transformers toy line. As Hasbro aimed to bring Takara’s Diaclone figures to the states, they approached both Marvel and Sunbow to create the comics as well as an animated series to bring the characters to life. Thus, Bob Budiansky became the man to grant the names and personalities that define the characters of the Transformers.

The original franchise of the Television series aired between September 17, 1984, to November 1987. Since Hasbro had success of GI Joe: A Real American Superhero and its commercial impact on the toy lines, which came out after its animated show. So, Hasbro reached out to Marvel to create a background for Hasbro to push further with the use of animated shows in promoting their toy lines. 

The Transformers focuses on war among two factions of robots who have the uniqueness of transforming into other objects like vehicles and animals. The heroes are the Autobots, who are often preventing the domination of a more brutal line of robots referred to as the Decepticons. 

The $25billion generated by The Transformers animated television show made it a massive commercial success and one of the highest-grossing-media franchises of all time.

Join us on a retrospective through the first set of Transformers cartoons



Marvel productions, Sunbow Productions, and Toei Animation produced the original animated series of the Transformers in 1984. Fans use the name “Generation 1” to describe this series after the second series, “Generation 2,” aired in 1992. The original franchise had four seasons which had 98 episodes.

Season 1 (1984)

Transformers Season 1

The first season of the original franchise has 13 episodes.Bryce Malek and Dick Robinson wrote and edited the episodes.

The traditional enmity between the Autobots and the Decepticons had caused great economic disadvantage to both warring parties. In search of some reliefs, the two parties set out in space in search of some economic reliefs. However, the two parties continued their usual conflict in space. The spaceship crashes into primitive earth, which made both parties lose consciousness. Millions of years later, a volcano eruption re-energizes them, and both parties take new forms. 

After their return to life, the two parties renew their rivalry and soon found new allies. The Decepticons appear more obsessed with the mission of returning to Cybertron with energy.

While their mission continues to take shape, the Autobots suffer a huge defeat while trying to protect a weapons factory from the destructive arm of Megatron and his Decepticons. Optimus, the Autobots leader, suffers a severe injury as he protected the factory. The medical equipment necessary to keep him alive is in an old lab in Cybertron, leaving the Autobots vulnerable to the attack of Megatron and the Decepticons. The aggression of the Decepticon continues as they continue their aspiration to destroy the earth and set off to Cybertron.

Season 2 (1985-1986)

Transformers Season 2

The second season of the original franchise has 48 episodes. The season also kept the line of action in the first season. The season opens with a Decepticon attack that leaves Spike wounded. While the doctor continued to work on his body, Wheeljack transferred Spike’s mind into a robot called Autobot X. However, the experiment appears to have made him unpredictable. Also, the presence of powerful new creatures called Dinobots is an addition to the list of foes of the Autobots. 

Megatron continues his relentless attack by devising several means to bring down the Autobots. His several moves involve the creation of a highly skilled Night bird. Then, he decided to clone the Autobot leader, Optimus, so that he can lead the Autobots into a deadly trap. He also allied with the warring race of Atlanteans. Later, his possession of Heart of Cybertron threatened to explode and take many along with it.

Most notably, Megatron conducted two major campaigns that have left a lasting impact on the franchise. First, he launched a Master Plan to frame the Autobots and convince humanity that the Decepticons were the real heroes. His plan succeeded in temporarily exiling the Autobots until they escaped from their doomed ship. Second, he found the key to vector sigma, which threatened to turn the planet into a metal planet like Cybertron. Luckily, the Autobots created the Aerialbots to help prevent the crisis created by the key.

Impact of the movie on the series (1986)

Transformers The Movie

There was a wide difference between season two and season three of the original franchise. However, in linking up the two seasons, the Transformer movie filled the void. The film was significant to the animated series because it cleared the existence of sole old characters whose products were no longer significant to the present market. As a result, the movie marked the death of several characters, including Optimus Prime, and created the necessary link-up between the second season and the third season.

Sunbow Productions edited the story. Meanwhile, Flint Dille, Marv Wolfman, and Steve Gerber took up the responsibilities previously performed by Marvel Productions.

Season 3 (1986-1987)

Transformers Season 3

Season three of the Transformers animated show continues the movie’s storyline with the Autobots now under a new leader named Rodimus Prime. The heroes were not the only ones under new leadership. The Decepticons also find themselves under the leadership of a more upgraded leader called Galvatron. In this season, the Autobots are the new inhabitants of Cybertron while their traditional foes find themselves wandering in a new world called Chaar. 

A new era of happiness under the leadership of Rodimus Prime was short-lived following the recent abductions of some members of the Autobots. Their traditional foe was the crime suspects, but Rodimus discovers the presence of new foes, the Quintessons. An attempt to rescue their kidnapped friends looks set to be successful until the Quintessons decided to blow up their planet and prevent their mission from being successful. Again, the Autobots find themselves in the unknown territory while the Quintessons pursue an alliance with the Decepticons to make a more formidable foe to the Autobots. The Quintessons look to regain control over Cybertron and destroy every Transformer on the planet.

During the episodes, some scientists wanted to end the existence of Transformers by using the body of Optimus Prime as bait to lure the Autobot into their lab and release a dangerous chemical that sets each Transformer against it another. However, the chemical goes far enough to affect the Decepticons, and the only hope for all rests on the resurrection of Optimus Prime. Once Optimus returns to life, he aligns with Galvatron to protect the earth and Cybertron.

Season 4 (1987)

Transformers Season 4

David Wise wrote the fourth season of the original franchise. While this season is short, it introduced the concept of the headmasters to the Transformers cartoons. While the set pieces of the Nebulons and Headmasters were set up, they would only see a full pay-off in the Japanese continuations.

Generation 2 (1993-1995)

Transformers animated series returned to television screens in 1993. There was no meaningful change in Generation 1 and Generation 2 except the use of Cybernet Space Cube, which included more graphics and other insignificant additions. The term later became famous fans as “annoying gimmickry”. Worse, the animation cuts would shorten segments of the original cartoon.

The generation 2 variation of the cartoon ran for two seasons from 1993 to 1995. Hasbro pushed this version to advertise the Generation 2 toys produced in the early 1980s. Bringing up the toys reproduced with advancing features was the main reason behind the creation of Generation 2. 

The second sequel of the franchise had 52 episodes which spanned between the three years the show aired. 

Beast Wars: Transformers (1996-1999)          

Beast Wars Transformers

Beast wars is an animated series that was a sequel to the Transformer original franchise. The beast wars aired from 1996 to 1999. The series resumes the story from Generation 1; however, it is now 300 years in the future. The enmity between the Autobots and Decepticons passed on to their succeeding generations. The Maximals and the Predacons were the warring factions who inherited the rivalry among the two earlier generations. The series had three seasons which consists of 52 episodes.

Season 1 (1996-1997)

Cheetor from Beast Wars Season 1

A time travel transwarp device transports the Maximals and the Predacons outer space, where they continue their inherited enmity. Their spaceship crash land on a planet with a high amount of Energon, which threatens their form. The mission’s failure created a major problem of leadership for the warring factions. Much of the season has the internal leadership tussle. However, the rivalry stayed the goal, and the ultimate victory can only be the extinction of their foes.

Season 2 (1997-1998)

Code of Hero from Beast Wars Season 2

To stop a mighty Megatron from invoking severe destruction on Cybertron, the Maximals are forces to ally with Tarantulas to stop the threat of Megatron. While Megatron and the Predacons continue to try to alter the future of the war, Dinobot, a strong Maximal, tries to fight off a whole army of Predacons in the 35th episode. This episode was high famous among the audience of the Transformers media franchise. Most fans agree that Dinobot’s final episode inspired the addition of Dinobot into the Transformers Hall of Fame.

Season 3 (1998-1999)

Beast Wars Season 3

Megatron continues hunting the Maximals, particularly after detecting that they had placed Optimus Prime on life support. The acquisition of a Transmetal II Cyber-raptor, a weapon capable of destroying any opponent and bringing the war to an end. However, a wild beast, later revealed to be Cheetor, attacked the Predacons before they could create their formidable weapon. Much of the season centered around Megatron’s process of building weapons capable of putting an end to the war. 


The Transformers animated series also paved the way for other series within the franchise. Aside from the primary aim of advertisement, there were arguably few animated TV series that created the form of entertainment that Transformers presented in the 80s.

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About the author

Author: Chris Ingledue 


Bio: I am the founder and owner of Wheeljack’s Lab pop Culture and Toy Shop. My vision has always been to reunite customers with their favorite childhood toys and pop culture, triggering fond memories, and reigniting their imaginations. Every day, I work in the “lab” where it’s Christmas 365 days a year. I scour the internet, like when we had the Sears Catalog of yesteryear, for the next great treasure. Then, I await the arrival of the postman as if he were Santa Claus himself and helping collectors worldwide with their own versions of Christmas. Every day as a vintage toy buyer is an absolute joy!

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