The Cybertron cartoon series ran in the United States in the years 2005–2006. US continuity has connected this series to the Armada-Energon continuity. The series premiered in the United States in July 2005.
The story centers on a giant black hole that threatens to devour Cybertron and other worlds. Only the power of the Omega Lock can stop it; Optimus Prime and a small team of Autobots travel to various worlds in search of the lock and the four Cyber Planet Keys needed to activate it. Megatron, even more obsessed with power and godhood, attempts to seize the lock and the keys to boost his own personal power.
- Preceded by: Energon
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
Planet X Native
- Inferno ("Lost" episode)
Force Chip Attacks (Cyber Key Powers) & Galaxy Force Names
- Galaxy Convoy (Optimus Prime) - Galaxy Cannon, Full Burst
- Liger Convoy (Optimus Prime, Savage Claw Mode) - Liger Ground Break
- Sonic Convoy (Optimus Prime, Sonic Wing Mode) - Sonic Double Impact & Galaxy Calibre
- Galaxy Convoy with Megalo Convoy's axe (Optimus Prime with Sparkdrinker) - Galaxy Giga Crush
- Master Megatron (Megatron) - Death Claw & Death Machine Gun
- Liger Megatron (Megatron, Dark Claw Mode) - Liger Death Strike (once, Liger Death Break)
- Master Galvatron (Galvatron) - Death Claw & Death Machine Gun & Death Cannon
- Nitro Convoy (Override) - Nitro Boost & Mach Shot
- Flame Convoy (Scourge) - Death Flame & Flame Strike
- Live Convoy (Evac) - Jet Booster & Falling Missile & Homing Missile & Jet Missile
- Megalo Convoy & Horribull (Metroplex & Drill Bit) - Megalo Crush & Axe Crusher & Megalo Boomerang
- Super Starscream - Vortex Blade & Vortex Cannon
- Noisemaze (Sideways) - Blind Arrow
- Soundwave (Soundwave) - Blaster Gun
- Primus (Primus) - Unnamed
- Rumble (Scrapmetal) - None
- Coby Rumble (Cobybot) - Hissatsu Coby Shot
- Exillion (Original Hot Shot) - Accel Wing
- Backpack (Original Scattorshot) - Ground Shot Up & Land Shot
- First Aid (Original Red Alert) - Photon Beam
- Jackshot (Overhaul) - Anchor Shot
- Dreadrock (Jetfire) - Dread Cannon, Full Burst & Jetstream
- Guardshell (Landmine) - Tornado Cutter
- Vector Prime & Roots (Vector Prime & Safeguard) - Repulsion Field & Time Relief & Action Field
- Starscream (Starscream) - Vortex Blade & Vortex Storm
- Thundercracker (Thundercracker) - Thunder Hell & Super Hell Special Deluxe/Big Spinning Thunder Hell Scattering Fireworks/Sure Kill Ultra Hurricane Slash And Crush Shoot/Drill Spinning Thunder Hell Electric Drop/Hissatu! Super Electric Lightning Shock Electric Thunder Cracker Punch!/Hyper Ultra Big Missile Full Burst Maximum Alpha!/Hyper Ultra Big Missile Full Burst Maximum Beta Two
- Demolishor (Mudflap) - Mega Crane Blade
- Exigeyser (Cybertron Defense Hot Shot) - Double X Shot & Battle Dagger
- Backgild (Cybertron Defense Scattorshot) - Twin Search MIssile
- First Gunner (Cybertron Defense Red Alert) - Giga Vanisher
- Vanguard Team (Cybertron Defense Team) - Triangle Attack
- Ligerjack (Leobreaker) - Platinum Claw & Ultra Liger Drop
- Sonic Bomber (Wing Saber) - Flap Sword & Galaxy Caliber
- Dark Ligerjack (Nemesis Breaker) - Unnamed
- Autovolt (Crosswise) - Force Missile
- Chromia (Thunderblast) - Phantom Wave
- Roadstorm (Lugnutz) - Side Machine Gun
- Skids (Clocker) - Smash Burner
- Autolander (Brakedown) - Motor Blade
- Inch Up (Dirt Boss) - Shoulder Vulcan
- Landbullet (Crumplezone) - Land Bazooka & Ultra Tune Up Level 2 Ignition
- Armbullet (Dark Crumplezone) - Arm Bazooka
- Gasket (Ransack) - Exhaust Shot & Exhaust Boost & Reverse Tune Ignition
- Saidos (Backstop) - Bloody Horn
- Fang Wolf (Snarl) - Power Fang
- Dinoshout (Undermine) - Crest Sword
- Terashaver (Brimstone) - Slash Knife
- Blender & Killbull (Quickmix & Stripmine) - Mixing Cannon
- Moledive & Bullbull (Menasor & Heavy Load) - Giant Drill
Like Energon before it, Cybertron was animated using shaded CGI for the Transformers characters, and cel animation for most everything else. Though more advanced than that of Energon, the CGI still suffers from most of the problems of its predecessor: Few facial expressions beyond "mouth open" and "mouth closed", restricted range of motion, a tendency for the Transformers to stand around like statues, et cetera. The shading techniques used on the Transformer characters also means they look very strange alongside their traditionally-animated human cohorts.
There is a sense that Cybertron actively attempts to avoid the main problem that plagued Energon—that is to say, running out of plot. Consequently, while the basic plot of Cybertron is far more focused and coherent than that of Energon, its first half is quite ponderous and drawn out, especially in the case of the Velocitron story arc, in which thirteen solid episodes are taken up by race after generic race, doing very little to advance the plot. Conversely, then, in the final quarter of the series, the stories of Gigantion and Planet X seem very truncated, as if the drawn-out first half left no room to see these plots through to their fullest extent.
In addition, Cybertron delights in the use of stock transformation sequences, using them to pad out episodes as if they were packing peanuts.
The dub is much more polished than that of Energon or Armada, giving characters distinct voices and accents (which totally never happened before, really), and throwing a lot of pop-culture and Transformers references into the mix. It also makes the excessive stock footage — which seems to make up 50% of some episodes — mildly entertaining to listen to by having the characters talk during them. As time went on, the stock-footage banter got a little self-referential and fourth-wall-pokey, showing that the writers were well aware of what they were working with.
Since the scripts had comprehensible context and some actual work put into them, the voice actors were likewise able to turn in stronger performances.
As noted above, the Japanese version (Galaxy Force) originally treated the story as a stand-alone, unconnected to any previous story. The American version draws connections to the Armada and Energon cartoons, but various incongruities still exist:
- In general, nobody really seems to remember the events of Energon. The Autobots act as though they've never been to Earth before and have no familiarity with its culture, despite having spent ten years there in places like Ocean City.
- The Autobots are utterly dependent on the three human kids to help them blend into human society, when they previously had numerous human allies including Dr. Jones and his family, Rad, Alexis & Carlos, and the innumerable human inhabitants of Ocean City and the other Cybertron settlements on Earth.
- Likewise, despite the Autobots' presence being fairly common knowledge in Energon, it is considered urgent to hide the Autobots from Earth's population in Cybertron.
- The Cybertron cities themselves are never seen or mentioned.
- Jetfire and Landmine both have distinctively different voices than in the previous cartoons. Red Alert has essentially the same voice, but with a newly added accent.
- Formerly prominent characters like Rodimus, Ironhide, the Omnicons, and Kicker have vanished without a word; new characters Overhaul and Scattorshot appear out of nowhere; and Red Alert returns after being absent for all of Energon' anime.
- Returning characters are all in brand-new bodies with no explanation.
- When he first combines with Leobreaker, Optimus Prime declares that he's never heard of two Autobots combining into one before. This is a rather odd statement, considering that such combinations were commonplace during Energon, and Optimus himself had been combining with other Autobots since Armada. It has been suggested that this is even odder because Galaxy Convoy (Prime) combined with Sonic Bomber (Wingsabre) before in a flashback in Galaxy Force (Cybertron) — however, if you watch the episode this is not what happens at all; rather, the two reference a time when they worked together to get out of an asteroid field, not to combine.
- Nobody seems surprised that Megatron and Starscream are alive and well again.
- Nobody seems to remember Sideways. His personality is also different from Armada.
- The Unicron black hole is explained as a by-product of "Unicron's destruction". In Energon, that event happened in Alpha Q's alternate universe, a fact that's not mentioned in the show. Likewise, Cybertron was last seen in that same alternate universe. It's not much of a stretch to assume the Autobots moved it back where it came from, but in that case, why is it so close to the black hole?
- The collapse of the Energon sun would mean that everything the Autobots fought for during Energon was in vain, and Alpha Q's worlds would die again, left in darkness without a sun and consumed by the black hole. Nobody seems to notice this little setback. To the contrary, Red Alert's report mentions an uninhabited planet that's not one of Alpha Q's planets as the black hole's first victim.
Within the show, most of these problems were never directly addressed; the cartoon simply went about telling its story without much regard to previous events. (Indeed, vanishing characters and new bodies had previously occurred in the changeover between Armada and Energon with equally little attention, though the stated ten-year fictional gap between those shows makes it somewhat less intrusive.)
However, external material has addressed some of the problems. The Cybertron comic storyline Balancing Act, for example, Vector Prime claims that the Autobots are suffering memory problems, caused by temporal disturbances from the Unicron Singularity. This, however, does not explain why the people of Earth didn't remember the Autobots, or what had happened to the Technology that existed on the planet during Energon. However, it may be possible the human race severed all ties with the Cybertronians due to the destruction caused by their seemingly never-ending war and destroyed the mining cities, or the singularity could have made them forget everything as well. Jetfire's new accent was explained on the Hasbro web site as a result of time spent on the planet Nebulon.
It can also be speculated that Vector Prime's sudden appearance into the series caused a rift in time that completely changed the time line, causing such things as memory lapses, new bodies and a completely different Earth. It does seem towards the end of the show that certain characters do recognize the Transformers as Rad and others appear on-screen staring into the sky.
Some fans believe that the cartoon follows the unfinished Energon comic book series from Dreamwave. Unsubstantiated rumors to this effect have swirled since the cartoon's debut, though the only "evidence" comes from media outside the cartoon:
- The Cybertron comic storyline "Balancing Act", written by Hasbro copywriter Forest Lee, is set the same universe as the Cybertron cartoon series. But the story references events from the Energon comic, such as the Mini-Con Over-Run hooking himself into the Planetary Database -- a plot point begun by the Energon comic, which would have been carried through if the book hadn't been canceled.
- The bio of Cybertron toy Dark Scorponok references his death at the hands of Megatron, as happened in the Energon comic but not the cartoon. However, this was overwritten when "Balancing Act" depicted Dark Scorponok as being pulled into the cartoon timeline from another universe.
The idea doesn't solve any problems; most of the contradictions between the Energon and Cybertron cartoons also exist between the Energon comic and the Cybertron cartoon. The cartoon contains no references to any events of the Energon comic.
The entire notion of a network television cartoon following up on a comparatively obscure, unfinished comic book seems counter-intuitive; furthermore, Hasbro material has presented many explanations for contradictions between the two cartoons. Why bother explaining why Cybertron Jetfire sounds different if he's not the same guy seen in Energon? Why have Vector Prime explain the differences between the two cartoons if they're not in the same continuity?
- Though you do see an occasional smirk or smile, to their credit.