Transformers and Halloween. What do they have in common?
Not a whole lot to be honest, aside from being two of my favorite things.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the G1 Transformers cartoon’s premiere and with it being my favorite month of the year, October, you may ask where the connection between the Autobots, Decepticons and Halloween comes into play. While it may be a stretch to look at episodes with a Halloween theme or sensibility to them like this was Scooby Doo, there have been some examples where the Transformers took it to a spooky place. From ghosts to vampires to zombies, the Transformers have contributed their share of ghoulish and in some cases terrifying episodes, and today we’re going to roll out and check out four of my favorites.
4) Starscream’s Ghost
While alive, Starscream was boastful, vain, egotistical, brash and a constant thorn in Megatron’s side, ultimately betraying his feared leader in Transformers the Movie only for Megatron to return as the dangerously unhinged Galvatron and take Starscream’s life in retribution.
Even in death or the afterlife, or whatever you want to call it, Starscream is still boastful, vain, egotistical, brash and remains a thorn in his former leader’s side when he encounters the exiled Octane who is on the run from a Galvatron placed bounty on his head, and after scaring him six ways from Cybertron agrees to help Octane in order to torment Galvatron from beyond the grave.
Starscream then cuts a deal with Rodimus Prime after Rodimus and the Autobots attempt to protect Octane from who they believe to be Cyclonus. Revealing his true identity, Starscream promises Rodimus a much larger “bonus” in exchange for their freedom. What’s the worst that could happen? You’d be a sucker not to take it, Rodimus.
Returning to the Decepticon base on the planet Chaar, the Starscream possessed Cyclonus interrogates Octane to Galvatron’s amusement until the traitor reveals a “secret”, convincing Galvatron to confront a lone Rodimus at a nearby location. Galvatron, always being of the philosophy of shoot now, ask questions never agrees, only to discover he’s been suckered into a trap confronting not only Rodimus but several other Autobots as well, while Cyclonus and Octane flee.
Gloating over their perceived victory, Starscream and Octane are caught off guard by a damaged but vengeful Galvatron, who attempts to take out Starscream after he reveals himself, only to wipe Cyclonus out instead. Thinking he’s rid of his ghostly tormentor, Starscream is seen hovering around Scourge, waiting to haunt another day.
3) Ghost in the Machine
And, here he is to haunt once again. If nothing else, Starscream is persistent and his ghostly form makes another appearance, possessing Scourge much like he did at the end of Starscream’s Ghost and after trolling Galvatron and the Decepticons briefly, flies to the severed head of Unicron to make a deal with the devil himself. Both robots are desperate to have a new body, so Unicron agrees to restore Starscream to his former glory in exchange for three labors.
Starscream being eager to please enlists Scourge to help him steal Metroplex’s eyes, however during a scuffle with the Autobots they drop one, so on their way back to Unicron they swipe one of Trypticon’s eyes, which has to be the definition of jumping from the frying pan into the fire, then hitch a ride with Astrotrain, only for Unicron to instruct them to go all the way back and bring Trypticon to him as he requires the big lug’s transformation cog in order to merge with Cybertron and make it his new body.
With two thirds of the labors complete and with Galvatron, Rodimus and their respective troops breathing down their necks, Unicorn instructs Starscream to connect his head to Cybertron. Scourge knowing all too well how this story will unfold, books it.
Starscream declines to attach Unicron’s head to Cybertron until Unicron holds up his end of the deal and gives him his body back. Unicron complies, only for Starscream to figuratively flip him the bird and tell him exactly where he can shove Cybertron. The Autobots detonate energon cubes that they’ve placed on Unicron’s head during his bickering with Starscream sending both of them hurtling through orbit.
Rodimus casually mentions the Autobots new mission is to retrieve Metroplex’s eye, then laughs it off to everyone’s undoubted relief as they were likely destroyed in the blast, however in the darkness of space we see a brief twinkle behind the Chaos Bringer’s unblinking gaze.
2) The Dweller in the Depths
What’s worse than vampires? Reverse vampires? How about robot vampires.
Dweller in the Depths feels like one of those X-Files “Monster of the Week” episodes, where we find ancient evils…well, dwelling in the depths of Cybertron. The Quintessons, who we met in Transformers the Movie hatch the scheme of releasing the Dweller; along with early biomechanical experiments known as Trans-Organics to rid them of the Transformers once and for all, using Galvatron as their unsuspecting lackey.
Leave it to Galvatron to allow himself to be duped into not only putting the Autobots but his Decepticon troops in harm’s way in no small part because of his lust for violence and destruction after being lured into an underground chamber of Cybertron believing Perceptor’s new power core is there for the taking. Quickly the Transformers are picked off one by one by the Dweller, turning them into ashen colored mindless robot vampires. The Sweeps, Cyclonus and the Autobot team sent into the chamber to see what Galvatron was up to are all disposed of in quick succession.
Eventually only Ultra Magnus, Arcee and Galvatron remain, and Galvatron wouldn’t be Galvatron if he didn’t try to take the two Autobots out, despite being stalked by the Dweller. Nothing will stand in its way when it comes to it’s destructive feeding frenzy, growing considerably larger from the energy it’s sucked dry from the Transformers. After Galvatron has been incapacitated by the energy leech, Arcee blasts it with his cannon only to miss, take out the wall behind it and give it an escape route to Cybertron’s surface.
Perceptor saves the day at the expense of his newly created invention. The Dweller; being drawn to the energy buffet that is the power core, pulls up to gorge itself only to be launched with the device into space, restoring it’s victims back to their rightful non-zombified state. The Quintessons, on their way to Cybertron to revel in their presumed victory have the tables turned when the enormous Dweller slams into their ship and bleeds it dry.
1) Dark Awakening
On the run from Galvatron and the Decepticons, Rodimus, Arcee, Ultra Magnus, Spike and Daniel take refuge in the Autobot mausoleum after detonating their ship to get Galvatron off their tail. Daniel gets creeped out by the corpses in the room, then freaks out and tells Rodimus he saw Optimus Prime hanging about.
Opening Optimus tomb in hopes to find his body and calm the kid down, to their shock Optimus tomb is empty. Before they can become suitably creeped out, Galvatron arrives and attacks, only for Optimus to arrive and save the day, freaking out the Decepticons into performing their best exit stage left routine.
Even after all this time as the Autobot leader, Rodimus is all too eager to just hand over the Matrix of Leadership to Optimus like he’s passing him a basket of rolls at the dinner table. Being of the opinion that forgive and forget is for suckers (thanks to Rodimus allowing Megatron to take him out, accident or not) and having his sweet chest piece back, Optimus attacks the Autobots and leaves them for dead setting the mausoleum to self-destruct.
Returning to Cybertron, Optimus promptly informs everyone the big dog is back, then leads an attack on the Quintessons for killing Rodimus and the group, which we discover is a trap laid by the Quintessons to rid themselves of the Transformers once and for all through their manipulation of Optimus who they re-animated as their ultimate weapon. Escaping their own demise, Rodimus and crew give chase, with Rodimus telling everyone he’s going “Optimus hunting”.
Despite being brought back as little more than a mindless zombie, Optimus retains enough of his personality and memories to surrender the Matrix back to Rodimus, and pilot a ship into the trigger point of the Quintessons, sacrificing himself to save the Autobots from imminent destruction. For as poignant as Optimus death in the movie may have been, and while he gets a hero’s tribute at the end of the episode, seeing the terror level get turned up to eleven with a barely living and severely damaged Optimus who is missing an arm, and an eye while hurtling into the face of death yet again was burned into my brain as I’m sure it was for countless other Transformers fans.
Thanks for the nightmare fuel, Sunbow.