Cold-blooded and obsessed with efficiency, Ratbat's primary concern is looking out for himself. He treats his responsibilities, whether as a fuel auditor or as leader of Decepticons, as a business. In his book, everything comes down to profit and loss.
In his role as fuel scout, Ratbat carries sensors that allow him to detect and evaluate the quality of fuels of various types, from primitive hydrocarbons to energon. He can process any number of these different fuels to power himself.
Although obsessed with efficiency, like any good CEO, Ratbat allows himself a small indulgence: He enjoys sinking his fangs into the fuel tanks of Terran automobiles, the more expensive the better. He enjoys nothing more than savoring high-test gasoline siphoned from a hapless yuppie's Mercedes or BMW.
Italian name: Stridek
French-Canadian name: Vampiro
Hungarian name: Féreg (yep, means Worm)
Like the other cassette tape Transformers that turned into animals, Ratbat was not capable of speech and was likened more to a pet than an equal member of the Decepticon forces. However, in the Japanese series, he and the other cassettes possessed the power of speech, though their roles seemed no different. Ratbat first appeared in Scramble City in Japan and The Transformers: The Movie in the US.
Marvel Comics continuity
Ratbat was one of the many Decepticons left on Cybertron, where he rose to the critical post of fuel auditor. With a drive towards extreme efficiency, he would rarely countenance unnecessary risks. After the fall of Lord Straxus, Ratbat emerged as the most powerful Decepticon in Polyhex.
Ratbat grew increasingly dissatisfied with the inefficient use of fuel by the Decepticons based on Earth under the command of Shockwave and developed schemes to improve the planet's output. He dispatched hypnotizing machines with the hope of taking over the minds of many humans and using them to deliver fuel at minimum cost to the Decepticons, but this plan was disrupted by the intervention of the Autobots' ally Buster Witwicky.
Ratbat allied with the Earthbound Decepticons but remained dissatisfied with the leadership of Shockwave. When the Earthbound Autobots briefly left the planet in Ark, Ratbat was at the forefront of a new Decepticon reign of terror and kidnapped Buster Witwicky, taking him to the Decepticons' island base.
When the Autobot Headmasters and Targetmasters besieged the base, the Decepticons were forced to flee by deploying its rocket facility. In the process of departure, Shockwave was shot down in space and seen heading towards Earth, apparently dying, and Ratbat declared it would be inefficient to rescue him and so, instead seized command of the Decepticons for himself.
Of all the leaders of the Decepticons on Earth few came closer to outright victory than Ratbat. He followed the Autobots under Fortress Maximus when they set out to unite with those under Grimlock and launched an all-out attack that resulted in huge casualties and the Autobots being briefly stranded on the Moon.
Later, Ratbat promoted the newly recovered Starscream to the position of second-in-command and set out to learn the truth about the legendary Underbase, which could seemingly make a Transformer supremely powerful. Ratbat was determined to attain its power for itself but this ambition was shared by Starscream. The latter lured the separate Decepticon faction led by Scorponok to a meeting with Ratbat's forces, which soon resulted in conflict between the two, allowing Starscream to seek the Underbase for himself. Both Decepticon factions allied with the Autobots in fighting against Starscream, suffering huge casualties in the process. However both Ratbat and Scorponok independently suspected that the Autobot leader Optimus Prime had plans to seize the power of the Underbase for himself, and they set out to stop them. Seconds later, Ratbat was dead, shot in the back by Scorponok.
Blackthorne Comics continuity
Ratbat secretly plotted to rule the Decepticons by posing as the mentally unstable Galvatron's witless pet and sole confidant.
Cyclonus worried about Galvatron's unhealthy attachment to Ratbat. When Searchlight foiled Ratbat's search for mysterious energon-producing aliens by causing Galvatron to step on him accidentally using Scorponok, Galvatron stopped fighting to rush to Ratbat's side, distraught over his actions.
- (Note: Blackthorne Ratbat appeared to have the ability to change size from his parrot-like perch on Galvatron's shoulder (at right) to a giant bat large enough for a Throttlebot to ride on.) This fits in with his abilities as described in his expanded Marvel comics profile.
- (Another Note: Blackthorne's Ratbat was absolutely adorable. He is love.)
Dreamwave comics continuity
Millions of years ago, before the Transformers crash-landed on Earth, Ratbat was the leader of a sub-faction of Decepticons called the Ultracons during the time when Megatron had disappeared. During the Dark Ages, Ratbat made several efforts to secure the Tagan Heights, which held forty percent of Cybertron's industrial capability. However, his efforts were constantly thwarted by Springer and the Wreckers. Eventually, he became so frustrated that he openly violated the Crisis Intervention Accords and managed to sway the Constructicons over to the Ultracons, unleashing Devastator on the Heights. However, the Protectobots arrived and formed Defensor. Their duel resulted in the destruction of a good deal of the Tagan Heights, and Ratbat was forced to retreat. Megatron's return saw the Ultracons reintegrated into the Decepticons. At this point in time, Ratbat possessed his original Cybertronian form, able to transform from robot mode to jet. However, at a later date, after the Great Shutdown, when Shockwave established control of the planet, many Transformers, including Ratbat, had their bodies reformatted into Earth-themed modes, leading to Ratbat's bat/tape body. It was noted that he was not pleased with its unimposing nature compared to his original structure.
When next we saw Ratbat, he had been freed by Starscream from imprisonment and was given to Soundwave as a servant/gift, implying a past connection for which Soundwave would want recompense. It is entirely possible that Shockwave may have viewed Ratbat as a threat to his control of the planet and deliberately gave him a weak body and imprisoned him to keep him out of the way.
IDW comics continuity
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Millions of years ago, before the war, Ratbat was a member of the Senate and possessed a fairly impressive humanoid form with wing-like capes and a bat head-like helmet. His professed role was "the application of wisdom through judgment," whatever that means, but, in practicality, he simply monitored news feeds and manipulated events (including stoking conflicts) to create the most profit for himself. (In issue 4, it was revealed he was the one who instigated the Energon mine automation) Interested by Megatron's early gladiatorial exploits, he decided a little bit of instability could help generate himself more profit, and so sent his servant Soundwave to offer Megatron a wide variety of advanced weaponry.
When Megatron's forces bloomed from underground fightclub to planet-destabilizing army, Ratbat realized that he'd made a mistake and Megatron was going too far.
After Megatron decisively won his first battle against Sentinel Prime and the Decepticons were established, Ratbat decided to view this as a job opportunity and simply transfer himself (and all of Kaon's city funding and government data) to Iacon and more lucrative position. Unfortunately for him, he was betrayed by Soundwave, who thought Ratbat would be a "valuable resource" for the Decepticons. His Spark was removed and transferred into a cassette body which is assumed to have his familiar robot-bat alternate mode.
Millions of years later, in the present day, Ratbat appears to have come WAY down in the world and serves as a scout for the Decepticons. Now on Earth, he appears to change into some sort of consumer electronic device of the portable CD player variety.
- Ratbat / Frenzy (Cassette 2-pack, 1986)
- Ratbat transforms from a robot bat into a microcassette that can fit in the chest compartment of the Soundwave and Blaster molds. He was released in a two-pack with Frenzy in 1986 in the US and European markets. The toy had either gold or silver weapons and painted or sticker cassette detail. It is unknown if the color of the weapons corresponded the the detailing types.
- It is worth noting that Ratbat's tiny "ears" are among the more easily lost parts in the original Generation 1 line.
- Ratbat (Cassettron, 1986/1987)
- Japanese ID number: D-61, D-107
- In Japan, Ratbat was released as an individual toy. He came with a clear-plastic cassette storage case, like all other Japanese releases of the cassettes. It is unknown what weapon/tape-detail variants were available in Japan.
- While Ratbat in the original cartoon was a voiceless beast who was ordered around by Soundwave, in the Marvel Comics stories Ratbat was an independent character who could talk and held a prestigious rank, despite transforming into an audio cassette. Both of the "postmodern" continuities established by Dreamwave and IDW have tried to harmonize these two disparate roles by portraying Ratbat as a previously-important individual who was humbled and forced into a lowly form. Remember, kids, if you're not humanoid, you can't possibly have held a real rank. There must be some explanation.