Transformers: Prime is a multiple Daytime Emmy Award-winning CGI-animated television series that premiered on The Hub on November 26, 2010 with a five-part mini-series, which was followed by a full season beginning on February 11, 2011. Predacons Rising concluded the show on October 4, 2013 and a follow up TV series called Transformers: Robots in Disguise aired on Cartoon Network in the United States on March 14, 2015. Despite this, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Bulkhead, Ratchet, Starscream, and Soundwave are the only characters from Transformers: Prime to make a comeback in this new show.
Team Prime lives on Earth, three years after their last confrontation with Decepticons. Autobot Outpost Omega One is located in a converted missile silo in Nevada provided by the United States government, with Special Agent William Fowler acting as their liaison. However, the presence of Transformers on Earth is not generally known among the civilian population.
When the Decepticons resurface, the Autobots take three child witnesses, Jack Darby, Miko Nakadai, and Raf Esquivel under their protection. Megatron returns having discovered Dark Energon, which grants him the power to resurrect the dead, but is injured, with Starscream taking command in his absence. After Megatron's revival, Starscream flees after showing he is unable to prove his loyalty to the Decepticon leader.
The Autobots and Decepticons eventually make the startling discovery that Earth is the body of Unicron, forcing them to ally and prevent his consciousness from reasserting control over the planet. Optimus Prime unleashes the Matrix of Leadership, but at the cost of losing his memory, thereby allowing Megatron to manipulate him into joining the Decepticons' ranks. By using information from Vector Sigma downloaded to the Key, Jack restores Optimus's memory.
The Autobots also contend with the human terrorist organization, MECH, headed by former military operative Leland Bishop, aka Silas, who targets the Cybertronians for their technology, capturing Breakdown, Bumblebee, and Starscream for parts, and building a doppelgänger controlled by Silas. In the ensuing confrontation, Silas is fatally injured, forcing MECH to graft him into Breakdown. With this new body, Silas destroys his own organization and attempts to join the Decepticons, only to become Knock Out's new dissection study.
The Autobots and Decepticons' struggle becomes a competition for Cybertronian artifacts strewn across the planet, which turn out to have been placed there by Alpha Trion, who foresaw the Autobots coming to Earth. Trion also orders them to find the Omega Keys, which will activate the Omega Lock and restore Cybertron. Though the keys are successfully gathered, Megatron gains possession of them and attempts to use the Omega Lock to cyberform Earth, forcing Optimus to destroy the Lock to save Earth.
Megatron responds by destroying the Autobot base, and Optimus is mortally wounded staying behind to ensure everyone else escapes through the GroundBridge. From his newly-erected fortress Darkmount, Megatron reestablishes contact with Shockwave, learning the scientist has cloned a Predacon for the intent of hunting down the Autobots. The Autobots regroup following Ultra Magnus's arrival, while Smokescreen restores Optimus with the Forge of Solus Prime.
After destroying Darkmount, the status quo is restored, with the Autobots based at a Unit:E facility, while the Decepticons retreat to orbit Earth in the Nemesis once more. The Autobots learn of Project Predacon and race the Decepticons for the location of Predacon fossils, to prevent Shockwave from cloning more of the beasts. Ultimately, Megatron manipulates the Autobots into destroying the project when he discovers Predaking is intelligent, and therefore a potential power rival. Instead, he turns his attentions to rebuilding the Omega Lock.
After the Decepticons kidnap Ratchet to help in their plan, the Autobots assault the Nemesis and capture the ship, killing Megatron before he can use the Omega Lock to cyberform Earth. The Autobots use the Omega Lock to restore Cybertron and settle back on their homeworld. The new peace doesn't last, as Cybertron's revival reawakens the slumbering Unicron, who takes Megatron's lifeless body as his own and seeks to destroy Primus. As Optimus retrieves the AllSpark, Autobots, Decepticons, and Predacons unite under Bumblebee and Predaking to face the Chaos Bringer in defense of their home. Optimus sacrifices himself to seal away Unicron and restore the AllSpark to its rightful place while Megatron disbands the Decepticons and goes into self-imposed exile.
Main article: List of Transformers: Prime Episodes
Cast and Characters
- Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime/Orion Pax/Vehicon
- Sumalee Montano as Arcee/Raf's mom
- Kevin Michael Richardson as Bulkhead/Makeshift/Decepticon Miner/Nemesis
- Jeffrey Combs as Ratchet
- James Horan as Wheeljack
- Nolan North as Smokescreen/Vehicon
- Michael Ironside as Ultra Magnus
- Will Friedle as Bumblebee
- Dwayne Johnson as Cliffjumper (Season One)
- Billy Brown as Cliffjumper (Season Two)
- George Takei as Alpha Trion
- Frank Welker as Megatron/Soundwave/Vehicon
- Steve Blum as Starscream/Bombshock/Vehicon
- Daran Norris as Knock Out/Vehicon
- David Sobolov as Shockwave/Vehicon
- Adam Baldwin as Breakdown
- David Kaye as Hardshell/Vehicon
- Gina Torres as Airachnid
- Tony Todd as Dreadwing
- Richard Green as Skyquake
- John Noble as Unicron
- Peter Mensah as Predaking
- Josh Keaton as Jack Darby/Tailgate/Vehicon
- Tania Gunadi as Miko Nakadai
- Andy Pessoa as Raf Esquivel
- Ernie Hudson as William Fowler
- Markie Post as June Darby
- Clancy Brown as Silas
- Alexandra Krosney as Sierra
- Brad Raider as Vince
- Robert Forster as General Bryce
- John DiMaggio as Vogel
- Reggie Bannister as Museum Security Guard
Transformers: Prime has received widespread acclaim, even from outside of the Transformers fandom. Over the course of the show's run-time, it won nine Daytime Emmy Awards, two CINE Awards and was nominated for several more, as well as consistently ranking as one of the Hub's most popular programs. Within the fandom, the show quickly won fans over, an impressive feat for the chronological successor to the widely loved Transformers Animated. Qualities particularly celebrated include the cinematography, visuals and animation, voice acting (including the return of Peter Cullen and Frank Welker to the roles of Optimus Prime and Megatron, something the actors themselves rejoiced over), and characterization. There is also a great deal of praise given to the serious, more mature storytelling of Prime that had not been attempted in Transformers media since Beast Machines. For all of these reasons, it is usually considered one of the best Transformers cartoons.
That said, the show is not universally loved, and not just because Bumblebee was better when he could speak. In the second season, the show's aforementioned budget problems were the cause of some of the most common complaints: in addition to necessitating two clip shows (an all-but-extinct concept in cartoons in the 2010s), the cashflow crisis caused several plot threads to suddenly be dropped or truncated in order to shrink the cast; Breakdown and Airachnid were abruptly killed or written out (respectively) despite being a feature of active subplots in order to eliminate the cost of their celebrity voice actors, as were characters performed by actors that were not part of the "main" cast, like Silas, Hardshell, and Dreadwing. Other complaints focused on the lack of buildup or foreshadowing for certain major threats like Unicron and the Predacons; in the case of the latter, former Hasbro employee Rik Alvarez confirmed that this was the result of Hasbro staff changes forcefully altering the direction of the show from what was intended. Another criticism had been made towards the lack of weight given to character deaths beyond Cliffjumper, usually resulting in anticlimax. A minority also lamented that the expensive animation budgeted the number of character models they could render, and thus led to a relatively small cast and an isolated setting.
Awards and nominations
2011 Daytime Emmy Awards
- Outstanding Performer In An Animated Program - Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime
- Outstanding Directing In An Animated Program - David Hartman, Supervising Director; Shaunt Nigoghossian; Todd Waterman; Vinton Heuck; Susan Blu, Voice Director
- Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation - Vince Toyama, Background Designer (WINNER)
- Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation - Christophe Vacher, Colour Designer (WINNER)
- Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction And Composition - Brian Tyler
- Outstanding Writing In Animation - Duane Capizzi, Writer/Producer; Steven Melching; Nicole Dubuc; Joseph Kuhr; Marsha Griffin
2012 Daytime Emmy Awards
- Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing (Animation) - Robbi Smith, Dialogue Editor, Robert Poole II, Sound Effects Editor, Roy Braverman, Foley Editor
- Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing (Animation) - Ray Leonard, Re-Recording Mixer, Mike Bieriger, Re-Recording Mixer
- Outstanding Special Class Animated Program - Roberto Orci, Stephen Davis, Shuzo Shiota, Alex Kurtzman, Jeff Kline, Duane Capizzi, Mandy Safavi, Rafael Ruthchild, Shinji Santoh, Meiko Sato, Therese Trujillo (WINNER)
- Outstanding Directing in an Animated Program - David Hartman, Vinton Heuck, Shaunt Nigoghossian, Todd Waterman, Jamie Simone
- Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation - Christophe Vacher (WINNER)
2013 Daytime Emmy Awards
- Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation - Jason Park, background design for "Orion Pax, Part 3". (WINNER)
- Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation - Arato Kato, character animation for "Hard Knocks". (WINNER)
- Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation - Kirk Van Wormer, storyboard art for "Nemesis Prime". (WINNER)
2014 Daytime Emmy Awards
- Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation - Jose Lopez, Character Design (WINNER)
- Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation - Yasuhiro Motoda, Character Animator (WINNER)
The show's theme song and background music was composed by Brian Tyler. It was not shown until "Masters and Students". It was often shown in full and would be cut for time in some episodes. In Season 3, it was rerecorded with a background music and the "Beast Hunters" logo.