William (or Irving, possibly William Irving or Irving William ...and Daniel in certain continuity) "Sparkplug" Witwicky led a very, very interesting life for a working-class guy from Oregon with little formal education.
- Portugese name (Brazil comics): Bob Centelha
- French name (Canada): Malabar
- Hungarian name: William "Gyertya" Witwicky
- Portuguese name (Portugal comics): Vela-de-Ignição Witwicky
Marvel Comics continuity
A P.O.W. during the Korean War, Sparkplug was forced to repair the North Koreans' equipment. However, he secretly sabotaged that same equipment, leading to personnel and material losses for the North Koreans. After being kidnapped by the Decepticons, he was instructed by Megatron to develop a process that would convert Earthen gasoline into fuel they could consume. Sparkplug drew on his memories of his time as a mechanic in the Korean War, recalling an instance where he had sabotaged the enemy vehicles' fuel and brake lines, and did the same to the Decepticons, poisoning their fuel and allowing the Autobots to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. However, before this heroic act could come to light, many of the Autobots believed that Sparkplug had betrayed them, and an over-reactive Jazz let loose with his flamethrower. Although Sparkplug wasn't injured by the weapon itself, he did suffer a heart attack. He was much less friendly with the Autobots thereafter.
At some unspecified point in the past, Sparkplug Witwicky worked as a ruby crystal miner in Burma, of all things.In 1984, he and his son Spike were working on an offshore oil rig. The day was like any other day, with Sparkplug asking his son to help him flush out a drill bit. Before they could carry out their task, giant robots descended from the sky and landed on the oil rig, and with no provocation, were almost immediately attacked by Sparkplug's coworkers. Regardless, their intentions became clear when Sparkplug himself was pinned against a wall by a small purple robot, who then threw Spike overboard when he tried to help his father. Freeing himself from the robot's clutches, Sparkplug dived into the water after his son. While the rig workers hid in the ocean, another group of giant robots arrived and fought with the group of robots who were stealing oil from the rig. The leader of the evil robots destroyed the rig and set fire to the oil tanks as a diversion while he escaped.
The good robots, calling themselves the Autobots, saved the oil rig workers from a fate exactly the same as death. Grateful, Sparkplug and Spike happily latched on to the friendly alien robots, offering up their expertise and knowledge about planet Earth in exchange for joining the team. After the Autobots failed to stop the evil Decepticons at Sherman Dam, Sparkplug, Spike and Trailbreaker had a tea party in the woods, ostensibly so they could eavesdrop on the nearby Decepticon base. After finding out that the evil robots intended to attack the Ruby Crystal Mines of Burma, Sparkplug opined that he preferred being a spy to his old job at the oil rig, which was just as well, given the fact he was now unemployed. Later, Sparkplug's prior experience in the Burma mines came in handy when the Autobots needed to plant an explosive device inside the mine. As he left with Bumblebee, Sparkplug declared that their mission was for both the fortunes of Cybertron and Earth. Moments later, they were caught in the explosion and buried alive. Oops.
Fortunately, they were saved. Later, both father and son volunteered for the Autobot attack on the Decepticon space cruiser. After Optimus Prime failed to stop the cruiser, Sparkplug tried to reassure the Autobot leader that he'd done all that anybody could do. Subsequently, the Decepticons were apparently defeated when their ship crashed into the sea, so Sparkplug and Spike were to join the Autobots as they went home to Cybertron, with fuel from the grateful nations of Earth.
For some reason, this did not pan out, and neither the Autobots nor Sparkplug and his son went anywhere. As their livelihoods had been destroyed, the Witwickys seemed to move into the Ark and were almost constantly hanging out with the Autobots. After the Autobots failed to stop the Decepticons at the local solar power station, Sparkplug helped Ratchet repair the stubborn old Ironhide. Later, Sparkplug stopped the trigger-happy Ironhide from blowing up a shuttle full of Decepticon energon cubes, as he was the only one who bothered to remember the fact that Spike had been captured to pilot the shuttle through the Space Bridge.
- "I'm a mechanic! I know what I'm doing!"
- ―A mind-controlled Sparkplug states his credentials, The Ultimate Doom, Part 1
Sparkplug was kidnapped by the Decepticons as a test subject for Doctor Arkeville and turned to their side by the doctor's mind control chips. The Decepticons allowed the Autobots to free Sparkplug so he could sabotage Teletraan 1, which gave them an easy means to attack the Autobot headquarters. Spike confronted his father over the apparent betrayal, and Sparkplug appealed to his son to join the Decepticons. When Spike refused, Sparkplug declared that the next time they met, it would be as enemies. This caused Spike much emotional pain, until the Autobots found a way to use sound waves to counter the chips and bring the true Sparkplug back.
In an effort to show his friend Wheeljack that the Autobot wasn't the only inventor in the Ark, Sparkplug once managed to take spare Autobot parts and put them together to make a functioning robot called Autobot X. Once activated, the mindless robot immediately bashed in everything and everyone in sight. After Spike was injured in a battle with the Decepticons, they formulated a plan to transfer Spike's mind into Autobot X while his human body was worked upon by surgeons. Sparkplug regretted this decision, as it drove Spike insane. Only the love Sparkplug had for his son prevented "Autobot Spike" from joining the Decepticons.
Sparkplug was pleased as punch when his son went out with Carly, because she was clearly out of Spike's league. Later, Sparkplug left on a mysterious trip that required him to wear a suit. Upon his arrival at the airport, he was greeted by Spike, Carly and Bumblebee. The suit was never seen again. His canny spy skills were called into use again when he ego-stroked the arrogant Dinobots into helping the Autobots secure their much-needed Cybertonium from the Decepticons.
As the Autobots expanded their operations, they installed a small urban base in New York City, concealed behind an auto-repair garage operated by Sparkplug. In the aftermath of the failed Decepticon plan to use stolen cars as robot drones, Sparkplug bemoaned the fact it would take weeks for himself, Hoist, Ratchet and Wheeljack to return the cars to normal functionality. When Megatron unleashed Kremzeek onto the Autobots, Sparkplug was the first to realize the electrically based creature scrambled Autobot circuits and would thus be repelled by an insulating compound sprayed on the remaining Autobots. While those few left for Japan to chase after the creature, the hapless Sparkplug was left with the unenviable task of reactivating the other Autobots left behind.
Find Your Fate Junior
Sparkplug discovered a critical weakness in the Decepticons' circuits that would allow the Autobots to destroy them once and for all. However, the Decepticons discovered this and came after Sparkplug, who fled to the hills to hide. This eventually led to an Alamo-like standoff with a small group of Autobots holding off the Decepticon army from the shelter of a cave for two days while they waited for relief to arrive, with Sparkplug performing the makeshift repair work to keep them running.
The paper on which Sparkplug had the specifics of the weakness was ruined in the battle. He could re-create the research, but the Decepticons would be able to change the design of their circuits while he did so. Still, at least it would keep them out of trouble for a while!
While tinkering in his lab, Sparkplug invented the Sun-Pak, a powerful solar battery that threatened to change the balance of power between the Autobots and the Decepticons. Insecticon spies forced them to flee the testing range through a series of caves, and Sparkplug later rescued Beachcomber from Kickback, using a gun that caused Kickback to short out and return to tiny size.
Sparkplug suffered memory damage and was unable to re-create the Sun-Pak after the prototype was destroyed.
Dreamwave comics continuity
Sparkplug, along with his sons Spike and Buster, befriended the Autobots shortly after the Transformers reawoke in 1984. After Operation: Liberation and the defeat of the Decepticons, Sparkplug was one of the humans chosen to accompany the Autobots back to Cybertron. Unfortunately, he was killed in 1999 when the Ark II exploded.
His death caused Spike and Buster to turn into jerks towards the Autobots.
IDW comics continuity
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Colonel Daniel Witwicky is apparently quite wealthy, owning a large house and a gas-guzzling muscle car. He likes to annoy the snooty elite with tales about this aforementioned gas-guzzler (They drive hybrids, so they must be the snooty elite!) while thinking of ways to murder them with toothpicks because they mention driving different cars from his.
He was called in to lead troops in New York City against the Decepticon onslaught. On the way, he repeatedly mouthed off at CIA Agent Grant and later had him assaulted by another soldier because the member of the CIA was big on secrecy. Once in New York, he gathered all the senior officers for a briefing, but when the Decepticons began targeting the city's bridges and tunnels, he just stood there open-mouthed and said, "Good God."
This man is the story's hero.
- Although the Production Bible states that he is a widower, no mention ever seems to be made of him ever having had a wife.