The Autobots are one of the primary factions in the Transformers mythos. They usually find themselves defending both their own race and other species against the Decepticons and upholding justice and freedom throughout the galaxy.
They are considered "the good guys" in most, but not all Transformers stories.
A generally heroic, honorable group, they tend to be dedicated to peace, and feel a need to protect other races from the Decepticons. As a result they are usually Transformers who change into non-combat oriented alternate modes such as domestic vehicles, cars, trucks, or rescue vehicles. This is not always the case, however, as their ranks certainly contain ne'er-do-wells, malcontents, and unsavory types, and the necessities of war have led many to adopt more combat-oriented alternate forms. While the Autobots have usually found themselves outnumbered by the Decepticons, the Autobots have always had home-field advantage, having not only the humans' military support, but also having more places on Earth to fall back on, while the Decepticons are entirely unwelcome on Earth.
Key concepts that repeat throughout most continuities are the use of the name Prime (or a variation thereof) to denote Autobot leadership, and the existence of an artifact of great life-giving power, usually referred to as a "Matrix", traditionally held by their leader.
- Portuguese name (Portugal comic): Autobóticos
- Japanese name: Cybertrons (サイバトロン, sa-i-ba-to-ro-n)
- Portuguese name (Brazil comic): Optimus
- Polish name: Autoboty
- Hungarian name: Autobotok
Generation 1 / Beast Era
Generation 1 comics
In the beginning Primus created the Transformers, a race of living robots that could change their bodies into the likeness of weapons, vehicles, and machinery, and all Transformers were Autobots, and he saw that they were good. The Autobot symbol (or Autobrand as it is sometimes called) was based on the face of the Last Autobot, the sleeping guardian Primus left for the day when his plans came to fruition.
At first Autobot numbers were small (a mere 13 began things), but through budding they expanded their race to fill the planet. When the correct level of population was reached a mechanism triggered and memory of the process was wiped from the Transformers minds. At some point in these early days Unicron was able to reach through the mental link he shared with Primus and sow the seeds of corruption in a few Autobots, though this dark cult of Unicron would not bear fruit for a long time.
Eons passed in relative peace. Autobot society formed its own traditions, institutions, city-states and politics. From a human perspective this society resembled that of ancient Rome. Senators and Emirates governed wisely or corruptly, priests worshiped Primus and passed his holy Matrix to the chosen bearer (the lineage: Prima to Prime Nova, Prime Nova to Sentinel Prime), gladiatorial games were held for sport and entertainment, and above it all the Overlords ruled.
It was only with the advent of Megatron at the end of the Golden Age, coinciding with the death of the last hereditary Overlord, and the subsequent rise of the Decepticons, that the words "Autobot" and "Transformer" ceased being necessary synonyms and the population was divided by war.
In the early days of the war the Autobots were overwhelmed by the Decepticon war machine. They fell back again and again and for a while it looked like the war would be quickly lost... and then a young warrior rose from their ranks and rallied the troops to fight back. He made his reputation by denying Megatron access to the Underbase, soon rose to command the Autobots' elite air corps and then, at last, was granted full command of all Autobot armies. Optimus Prime had turned the tide, and under his leadership the Autobots fought back until Megatron's war machine was stalled out and stalemated.
The war ground on until Autobot scientists detected that their planet's path was going to pass through a deadly asteroid belt. Putting the planet-wide conflict aside for the moment they turned their attention to planetary salvation and the Ark was built.
Optimus and a crew of his best soldiers took the Ark into space and cleared a path for the planet through the asteroid field. Unfortunately with their power depleted from that Herculean task they were then ambushed by Megatron and his Decepticons. The crews of both ships were lost to history.
Without Megatron or Prime the pace of the war slowed considerably. Still, fighting continued and both sides dug in for a long bitter struggle. In Prime’s absence Emirate Xaaron led the Autobot forces in their struggle to retake their homeworld.
The next four million years passed quickly (as it is wont to do) and without any major alteration (only a general degradation) of the situation. Finally news came to Cybertron: Optimus Prime and his forces lived! Yet this news came at a steep price as it meant a new front had opened in the war. Optimus Prime and his forces fought the Decepticons on the distant world of Earth, while Xaaron, his Wreckers, and others carried on the war for Cybertron.
Despite Prime's dedication to protecting Earth, Autobot/Human relations were not good. Humanity viewed all Transformers as threats and attacked any they discovered regardless of faction. Industrialist G.B. Blackrock tried to inform the public that there were two factions, with the Autobots being the benign faction, but the Intelligence and Information Institute, the government agency tasked with countering the Transformers, was either unable or unwilling to distinguish between factions.
Not long after his survival was discovered, tragedy struck and Optimus Prime was killed on Earth. The Dinobot commander Grimlock took on the leadership of Prime's soldiers, though he favored the abandonment of Earth and a renewed focus on Cybertron.
At roughly the same time, the great Autobot warrior Fortress Maximus reached an important decision. He was tired of the war and if he could not end it he would leave it behind. Gathering a large following of likeminded warriors he left Cybertron for the world of Nebulos in hopes of a new and peaceful life. This was not to be. Decepticons followed Maximus and opened a third front to the war. In the end both factions abandoned Nebulos and Maximus led them to Earth to unite with the forces under Optimus Prime.
However, when they arrived they discovered Prime dead and Grimlock less than welcoming. Grimlock and Maximus attempted to establish a single Autobot leader with trial by combat but were interrupted by a devastating Decepticon attack. The upside of it all was that they ended up putting their differences aside and Optimus Prime was soon reborn to take up leadership of the Earth-based forces once again.
Not long after, a dimensional transporter accident led to the rediscovery and accidental disturbance of Primus deep in the center of Cybertron. The Autobots learned that their ancient myths about Primus were the truth, and Unicron was now coming for them. The Creation Matrix lost and corrupted, Optimus Prime offered the Autobots' unconditional surrender to the Decepticons in the hopes that this would lead the two factions to stand together against the coming threat. It did, and the Matrix was retrieved and purified in time to stop Unicron. Both Optimus Prime and Emirate Xaaron were killed in the battle and Grimlock ascended to Autobot leadership again, this time over all Autobots.
The alliance with the Decepticons would be short lived. Cybertron appeared to be destroying itself and the Decepticons betrayed the Autobots, leaving them to die with their world. Grimlock’s leadership led to the Autobots escaping that trap, and walking right into a different one. Oops. Thankfully, the awakening of the Last Autobot saved Cybertron and led to the rebirth of Optimus Prime, who reclaimed Autobot leadership and beat the Decepticons once and for all.
(From this point both the Marvel Generation 2 and the Fun Publication's Classics comics continue the story in separate and mutually exclusive directions.)
Generation 2 comic
The war finally over, most of the Autobots retired to the revived and prosperous Cybertron. It wasn't to last. Grimlock led a crew of Autobots not ready to take a vacation and put their feet up to try and track down any remaining Decepticon trouble. They found more than they could imagine as they discovered a vast and militant Empire constructed across the stars by Decepticons who left Cybertron long ago.
At the same time Megatron reared his head again on Earth and soon the surviving Decepticons from the end of the war joined him, intent on restarting the war on Earth. It was not long before Decepticons and Autobots were teamed up against the forces of the Cybertronian Empire. Though this new conflict never touched the revived Cybertron, Earth was devastated by it. The Bot/Con alliance won, but how long this new alliance would last and what new threats awaited remained a question.
FP Timelines Classics comic
(Continuing from the end of the Marvel Generation 1 series.)
Generation 1 cartoon
The Autobots originated as non-living machines, specifically the Quintessons' domestic slave robot line. They were sub-divided into "male" and "female" sublines. The Autobot symbol was in fact the original Quintesson slave brand. They generally have blue glowing optics. (Though the series did not always abide by it, there was some attempt to establish the fact that Autobots could not fly unaided in robot mode while the Decepticons generally could).
Having achieved sentience and emotion against their creator's expectations they rebelled and together with the Quintessons' military hardware (the future Decepticons) achieved freedom and kicked their masters to the curb. (Of note: no Decepticons are seen in the bits of the rebellion we are witness to, but it is presumed they took part nonetheless.)
For a time peace reigned. But the military hardware grew restless and eventually declared war on their peace-loving brothers and sisters. During this dark time many ships of Autobot refugees left Cybertron to try to form peaceful colonies elsewhere in the universe.
Eventually the millitary robots were defeated when the Autobots invented the art of transforming. A new peace settled over Cybertron and what became known as the Golden Age began. This age was characterized by peace, prosperity, and an abundance of energy such that the metal of the whole planet literally glowed golden with its power. Guardian Robots patrolled the planet and helped keep the peace.
But eventually the Decepticons acquired the art of transforming as well. Megatron was born and under his leadership they rose up against the Autobots once more. U-Haul Robot was killed by Megatron and passed the Matrix of Leadership to Alpha Trion who held it safe until a young robot named Orion Pax was injured in one of Megatron's raids and rebuilt by Trion into the first of a new breed of Autobots specifically designed to combat the Decepticons. Thus Optimus Prime was born and under his leadership the Decepticons were stalemated.
The war raged on and eventually drained the entire planet of its once-rich sources of energy, leaving it a damaged, burnt-out gray husk of its former self. With no other choice the Autobots constructed the Ark, designed to fly Optimus Prime and his comrades to other planets in the search for new sources of energy.
The Ark launch bay was attacked just prior to lift-off and the Female Autobots under the command of Elita One vanished in the explosions. They were presumed destroyed by both sides, but actually survived to continue underground operations against Shockwave's regime on Cybertron.
Ambushed by the Decepticons, the Ark crashed into a nearby planet, named Earth. Crashing into a volcano, the impact rendered all the passengers, including members of both factions, into stasis lock. They were brought back online when the volcano erupted, and immediately resumed combat, this time on Earth.
The Autobots dedicated themselves to protecting Earth and its inhabitants from Megatron's forces. Their relationship with Earth's human governments and population were generally positive and mutually beneficial.
By 2005, the Decepticons had driven the Autobots from Cybertron, and they were now forced to operate out of two bases on Cybertron's moons with a reserve force at Autobot City on Earth. The Decepticons hijacked a supply shuttle, laying siege to Autobot City. The battle saw the deaths of many Autobots, including Optimus Prime, who in turn passed the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus. However, Unicron arrived and devoured the two moons. Megatron, who had been reformatted into Galvatron, stole the Matrix from Magnus, intending to use it against Unicron. Galvatron could not open the Matrix, and Unicron proceeded to attack Cybertron, decimating the Decepticon forces on the planet. However, the young Autobot Hot Rod managed to take the Matrix from Galvatron, causing him to become Rodimus Prime. He opened the Matrix, causing Unicron's body to self destruct. Leaderless, the Decepticons fled the planet, and the Autobots reclaimed Cybertron.
The Autobots remained in control of Cybertron for the next few years, slowly working to revitalize their homeworld. They fairly easily fought off feints by the Quintessons and the remaining Decepticon forces. Eventually Optimus Prime was revived and resumed Autobot leadership. It wasn't until Galvatron launched an all out attack on Cybertron's Plasma Energy Chamber that the balance again threatened to tip the Decepticons' way. Thankfully it turned out all had been arranged by Vector Sigma to set in motion the repowering of Cybertron. The Decepticons were defeated and Cybertron glowed golden with energy reborn at last.
(Note: in Japan, during Transformers 2010, the Cybertrons who transformed into automobiles were referred to as a subgroup of the faction called "Autobots".)
Beast Wars cartoon
The Autobots won the Great War, and their descendants the Maximals succeeded them. It's unclear what happened to the Autobots, though followup series provided more clues.
Beast Machines cartoon
When Megatron subdued Cybertron's population with his virus, he extracted their sparks and used their bodies as raw materials for building Vehicons. Optimus Primal and his team discovered a junkyard/factory with acres of these corpses, one of which very clearly bore the Autobot symbol (and an uncanny resemblance to Prowl). Also, among the Vehicon generals were the revived Great War veterans Obsidian and Strika, who may have been Autobots themselves.
Many of the great Autobot and Decepticon heroes (such as Optimus Prime, Grimlock, Soundwave, and Megatron) retired to a strange quasi-reality called J'nwan. Almost all who tried to reach J'nwan and seek their aid succumbed to madness, and the ancient heroes did not appreciate being disturbed by any survivors. However, the great figures did eventually decide to fight once more at Omega Point, an event which erased much of the timeline they had come from. It's unclear whether or not J'nwan or the events regarding it remained intact.
IDW Beast Wars comics
The three components of the combiner Magnaboss are the Autobots Silverbolt, Prowl, and Ironhide. They vanished after the Pax Cybertronia was signed, but it is said they will return in a time of great need.
DW Generation 1 comic
The Autobots arose as the group who sided with Sentinel Prime and the Council of Ancients and opposed Megatron's desire for the conquest of Cybertron, but their inexperience with warfare led to a serious tactical disadvantage. Sentinel Prime led the war effort for half a million years, until Megatron killed him in combat, hoping to secure the Matrix from him. Sentinel's successor, Optimus Prime, originally decided to evacuate Cybertron, fearing that even if the Autobots won, Cybertron would be a wasteland. However, a subsequent encounter between Optimus Prime and Megatron, where he learned of the planetary engines the Decepticon leader hoped to power with the Matrix, convinced Prime to remain on Cybertron.
Later, Optimus Prime and Megatron disappeared in a space bridge explosion. Without strong leadership, both sides degenerated into factions. The Wreckers and the Lightning Strike Coalition broke off from the main Autobot army, which was led by Prowl . After Ultra Magnus took control of the Autobots, he reunified the factions, and manage to negotiate a cease-fire with Shockwave's Decepticons and Ratbat's Ultracons. However, Starscream's Predacons made a last ditch assault, and Megatron suddenly returned leading the Aerospace Extermination Squadron, an army of Seeker drones created by the Quintessons. Megatron managed to conquer Cybertron, forcing most of the Autobots into slavery and the escapees into hiding. The period of Autobot enslavement ended when Optimus Prime returned to Cybertron and the Air Warriors were destroyed. We don't know how.
Four million years before humans arose, Cybertron was threatened by a massive asteroid. The Autobots developed the Ark to destroy the asteroid. They were successful, but Megatron attacked with the Nemesis. Both ships crashed on Earth, with both crews aboard the Ark. On Cybertron, Ultra Magnus and Fortress Maximus worked to keep the Autobots from splitting up again. With energon growing scarce, Magnus agreed to work with Shockwave to create the Micromasters, downsized Transformers intended for better fuel efficiency. Magnus also launched Operation: Containment, a twofold program intended to prevent the Decepticons from threatening other planets and locating the Ark. However, with the Great Shutdown, all Transformers entered a period of enforced stasis lock. Shockwave was the first to be reactivated, and made peace with the Autobots, installing himself as Head of State with an Autobot High Council as a legislature.
On Earth, the Autobots on the Ark awoke in 1984. Cut off from Cybertron, and seeing that a sentient species had evolved around them, the Autobots resolved to defend Earth from the Decepticons. Over the next fifteen years, the Autobots were largely successful at preventing a Decepticon conquest, while also befriending the Witwicky family. Eventually, the Autobots allied with the humans and defeated the Decepticons, capturing them. However, rogue elements of the United States Military, apparently being manipulated by Shockwave, sabotaged the Ark II, capturing several Autobots and most of the Decepticons, until the chief scientist, Adam Rook, went rogue and set himself up as an arms dealer. Robert Hallo, the original mastermind of the conspiracy, used Spike Witwicky to reactivate Optimus Prime, who revived the Autobots and stopped a reactivated Megatron. A year later, Shockwave came to tie up loose ends and acquire the Matrix from Prime. A rebel Autobot cell managed to rescue Prime, who united the other resistance groups, and Shockwave was overthrown, bringing Cybertron under Autobot control.
IDW Generation 1 comic
In somewhat of a twist from other continuities, the early Autobots in IDW's universe were less noble than their counterparts from the others. Millions of years ago, the Autobots were a police force appointed by the senate. The senate grew corrupt and their Autobot enforcers were seen as little more than thugs. During the closure of an energon-mining facility, an outspoken miner was beaten to death by an Autobot guard. This sparked a riot, causing the Autobot unit to take even more lives. Some of the surviving miners escaped the captors and went underground and joined the gladiatorial combat games. Megatron rose as the leader of the games and gathered followers to oppose the hated Autobots, who were led by Sentinel Prime. Megatron's Decepticons eventually defeated Prime and took over the city of Kaon and started the Great War.
The Autobots eventually were led by Optimus Prime and formed into small units to counter the Decepticon units infiltrating various planets. The two sides joined forces to combat Thunderwing and the ensuing battle rendered Cybertron uninhabitable.
Robots in Disguise
Here, the Autobots are the main race on Cybertron, and their enemies are the Predacons. The Autobots fought in the Cybertronian Civil Wars, presumably against the Predacons. Vector Sigma, the Allspark, chooses which Autobot is to be granted the Matrix and thus the position of commander-in-chief.
The Autobots were already on Earth when the Predacons arrived, having taken the form of Earth vehicles to work as camouflage and established a Global Space Bridge network and a central base monitoring the entire planet.
In their disguises, the Autobots integrated themselves into human society; Team Bullet Train worked as actual trains, X-Brawn was owned as a car by Kelly, and Optimus Prime was working for a fire department. This continued after they went public; both Prowl and Tow-Line, for example, were shown enforcing human laws in an apparently official capacity, suggesting the Autobots had official ties to human authorities.
It's known Optimus fought the Predacons on other worlds, presumably using the same tactics as on Earth.
Originally, the Autobots were not a faction but the name of a peacekeeping organization; under the command of Optimus Prime, they defended Cyber City. Their headquarters was adorned with the motto "Truth - Justice - Freedom". They were unable to stop the Mini-Con-powered Decepticons from taking Cyber City and for a million years they were reduced to a rebel organization desperately trying & failing to protect Cybertron. The reactivation of the Mini-Cons on Earth gave the Autobots an opportunity to gain Mini-Con power of their own, but eventually the Decepticons were beaten not by them but due to the attack of Unicron.
Throughout the Unicron Trilogy, the Autobots switched motives after each major conflict. At first, they were attempting to liberate smaller robots, called Mini-Cons, from the tyrannical control of Megatron, who saw them as tools to be used and disposed of when no longer needed. The Autobots followed the Mini-Cons' ship to Earth, where they crashed and eventually continued their battle against the Deceptions (some two million years later. Geez, Megs can hold a grudge).
These two sides would unite to fight the Chaos Bringer, Unicron, when he threatened to devour Cybertron. With Megatron sacrificing himself to save the rest of the Universe, Unicron shut down and was destroyed. The remaining Transformers united as the Autobots, following Megatron's order to assist them in rebuilding Cybertron.
Megatron's final orders to his troops still stood: work with the Autobots. The Decepticons maintained a degree of autonomy, still wearing the faction sigil and often taking military/defensive positions in the growing number of energon-mining colonies, but they were ultimately answerable to Optimus Prime and the Autobots. There were, of course, dissenters, most of whom were captured and imprisoned. For a decade, Autobot and Decepticon worked side-by-side in a somewhat stable truce.
Both sides found themselves the target of attacks from Unicron again; hordes of Terrorcon drones, sent by Alpha Quintesson to steal energon ore with which to revive the now-shattered husk of Unicron. What the alien did not count on was that Megatron's spark had survived within the remains, and was siphoning energon from Unicron's body. Soon the Decepticon leader had revived himself in a new form, driven off Alpha Quintesson, and along with an elite cadre of soldiers and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of mindless Terrorcon drones, begun his new plans for conquest.
When news of Megatron's return reached Cybertron, hundreds of Decepticons rose up and rebelled, eager to get back to conquering. But having been joined to Unicron for so long apparently had given Megatron a taste of godhood; he had no more interest in amassing a galaxy-spanning army of troops. Countless Decepticons died in the resulting battles, with Megatron more than willing to sacrifice them without a thought to attain ultimate power for himself. As the "Powerlinx Battles" - as they came to be called - came to their climax, Megatron found that his actions and thoughts were being influenced and controlled by the dark spark of Unicron. Unwilling to let Unicron stand in his way, Megatron ultimately sacrificed himself (again) and seemingly destroyed Unicron's spark by plunging himself into a newly-formed energon sun created by Primus.
Another ten years after Energon, the energon sun created by Primus was gone, collapsed into the Unicron Singularity, a giant black hole threatening to devour all of existence. In death, Unicron's power to destroy his only opposition - Primus - was greater than ever. The Autobots searched for a method of destroying the Black Hole and found a single answer; the Omega Lock, a powerful artifact linked to the Spark of Primus. With it, the Universe could be saved... or destroyed. Seeing an opportunity to rebuild existence in his own image, Megatron sought out the Omega Lock and the Cyber Planet Keys.
As the two sides battled for the Keys, the Autobots would eventually find all four and use them to revive Primus, but in doing so caused a massive earthquake that began shattering the planet around them.
Or so they thought.
Primus was emerging from Cybertron, awakened from the body he sculpted into a world for his creation. When informed of Unicron's destruction, he was infuriated to find that the universe was out of balance because of a severe lack of evil. Starscream attacked Primus' weakened form, due to the smaller robot stealing a piece of his spark and becoming an even equally huge monster, but was quickly dispatched by his creator. Defeated, Starscream flew off, leaving the Autobots to seal the Black Hole. Once this was accomplished, Galvatron attempted an escape from his fire dimension, but by combining Vector Prime's sword with the Omega Lock, the portal was sealed, and the Autobots returned home in peace.
The remaining Decepticons joined the Autobots, save for four who left Earth to start the New Decepticon Army. Their ship made it to Mars before being caught in the gravity well, and one of them may have attacked the Mars Beagle II rover.
Transformers (2007) movie
The Autobots are the Transformers who rallied around Optimus Prime to prevent Lord Megatron from stealing the All Spark. Although they fought valiantly, the Decepticons were more warlike, and they began to gain ground. In a move to prevent the Decepticons from acquiring the All Spark, Prime sent it hurtling into deep space. Megatron followed, and disappeared. The Autobots then scattered among the universe, searching for the All Spark.
In the movie it is Ratchet who provides the name Autobot, claiming it is an abbreviation after Optimus' line, "We are autonomous robotic organisms from the planet Cybertron". This may imply that "Autobot" is the species name for the Transformers.
In the novelization of the movie, when Optimus states that they are "independently cognitive mechanical entities from a very distant world [...] You could also think of us as autonomous robotic organisms" (p.169, Chapter 8), Mikaela murmurs "Autonomous robots--Autobots" (Autonomous Robots) (p.169, Chapter 8). Later, after Optimus has the glasses, and has analyzed them, he thinks of what would be an "appropriate indigenous designation for bots of this kind?" (p.221 Chapter 11), Optimus says "Autobots--roll out!". This means that, in the novelization, they didn't call themselves Autobots.
In a departure from previous Transformers incarnations, Japan used the name "Autobots" for this franchise, rather than "Cybertrons".
What is also most noticeable about the Autobots in the movie franchise is that they've actually been designed to resemble the insignia of their faction, most notably Ratchet, Optimus Prime, and Bumblebee.
Not much has been revealed about the Autobots in the new Animated continuity so far. What is known is that they were in a war with the Decepticons prior to the series and won, but according to Ratchet, they only won because of two things: the Autobot-exclusive space bridge technology, and by sending the AllSpark into space to keep the Decepticons from getting it. This isn't the first continuity where the war with Decepticons was already over, but it is the first where Optimus Prime is not the Autobot' leader. Instead, he just commands a space bridge repair crew. Ultra Magnus is the Autobot Supreme Commander. Also a single Autobot is typically considerably weaker than a single Decepticon. In fact, a team of Autobots is often weaker than a single Decepticon, to the point that a single Decepticon can trash the Autobots several times over, and even win, in some episodes. Unlike other continuities, the Autobots here aren't 100% good, but they are slightly oppressive. Some of the corrupt ranks include Sentinel Prime and the Decepticon spy who no one suspects.
In this universe the Autobots are the evildoers, bent on conquering and destroying everything in their path, starting with Earth. On Cybertron, they are the dominant faction, ruled by the Prime, specifically Optimus Prime. Ranks are in constant flux due to their backstabbing nature. Rodimus may very well usurp rule one day.