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The Autobot Hierarchy
By Trecathlus   |   Watch
413 130 75K (5 Today)
Published: September 21, 2008
© 2008 - 2019 Trecathlus

THE AUTOBOT HIERARCHY
As of November 17, 2018

This is my idea of a military-style explanatory organizational Autobot chart. It includes every Autobot that made an appearance in the G1 cartoon series and I've done my best to find a logical spot for everyone. It's quite comprehensive, as the sheer number of extant Autobot characters would properly seem to demand. Most recently, my inter-character scaling finally seems to be falling into place, which needed to be reflected here as well. I'm also starting to understand better how light would affect these avatars if they were three-dimensional and have started to apply that insight to the shading. Some of the characters have been updated as such and more is to come.

ORGANIZATION

I've arranged characters within each division according to the general area of expertise they bring to the fold. The TACTICAL DIVISION subtitle, for example, hints at the sequence of abilities I like to sort them by. However, the need to fit everyone and keep certain sub-groupings natural does make for the odd exception.

CLARIFICATIONS

I've received some surprisingly critical remarks about the piece, so I want to enlighten visitors about the conditions I apply to my choice of arrangement and labeling. The primary condition: My work in general is based on the U.S. G1 continuity as shown in the original 1980s TV series. I usually consider any retroactive references added to later franchises, such as BEAST MACHINES and ROBOTS IN DISGUISE, beyond the purview of my output and consequently beside the point. If a BEAST MACHINES toy tech spec suggests the purpose of an obscure one-off G1 character was such and such, I disregard it because the original episode(s) didn't mention or display it. If an episode of ROBOTS IN DISGUISE says DION became ULTRA MAGNUS (a confirmed nod to a favourite fan theory incorporated into translated dialogue for an imported Japanese TV series, no less), I discount it because the original WAR DAWN episode ultimately left his fate unknown.

I've made a single exception to the rule, but I'll get to that a bit later.

Now, in rendering these avatars, I've relied upon the following three sources:

VISUAL REPRESENTATION: THE U.S. G1 TV SERIES (and a little bit of the comic book)

The TV series represents 95% of my visual references. In the few cases where a character's cartoon series representation is too limited to be used, I've drawn on THE TRANSFORMERS: UNIVERSE or appearances from the original comic book. I would've preferred all of my references to be intrinsic to the TV show, but I've accepted this source as the finalized character models were used for all of the G1 media permutations.

FUNCTIONS AND TITLES: THE TRANSFORMERS: UNIVERSE

THE TRANSFORMERS: UNIVERSE forms the basis of both the original comic book and TV series characters and the latter medium, though it tends to be less concretely stated, follows the functions and titles in the former. That's how I'm able to determine, for example, that TAILGATE is a scout and TANTRUM is a fueler.

FUNCTIONS AND TITLES: TOY TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

A time or two, a character was on the show but received no TRANSFORMERS: UNIVERSE profile. For their functions, I consulted their toy tech specs. That way, to name one, I could tell SWERVE was a metallurgist.



SINGULAR SERIES-ONLY CHARACTERS

So what of one-off characters that were neither made into toys nor featured in contemporaneous media?

Sometimes all there is to base functions on is the dialogue and action taking place in a character's episode. In some cases, obscure characters are mentioned and even enlarged upon in official latter-day media, but given my isolated frame of reference, I almost always ignore those backdated depictions, which are often made simply to appeal to fans with whom they originate. To reiterate my earlier point: If an IDW comic book were to claim that DEVCON used to be a Cybertronian mailman, it has no bearing on the way I choose to present the character, simply because it never came up in THE GAMBLER. But I've made one concession:

Because I like their look, I wanted to include the unnamed female Autobots from THE SEARCH FOR ALPHA TRION, but I hesitated because I didn't particularly want to use the names Jesse Wittenrich gave them for the 2010 FLAMES OF YESTERDAY online exclusive comic book. They're not bad, even if I don't see the "Auto-significance" of LANCER, but I was long adamant that I would only accept names made up by Beth Bornstein or others who worked on the original show. In the end, I decided to relent with these two and these two alone. I also accepted their functions as scientists, as they looked analytically involved with their Cybertron base. I did adjust one of their purposes to avoid duplication, but kept it in the realm of science.

Speaking of duplication: Some have also commented on the existence of both ARIEL and ELITA ONE in the chart, or both ORION PAX and OPTIMUS PRIME, to name a couple (or actually two couples). "Why are they both in there? They're the same character." I understand the question. But: They were very different types from one form to another and their old lives were "astro-years" apart from what they became. They were inconsequential entities with greatness in their futures. And it would be a waste not to show their designs!

Finally, the overview includes two "cheats" on my part. I've always felt the lack of robot modes for HAULER and SLAMMER. It just looks too odd having vehicular-mode avatars next to everyone else's proper face. So I decided to design heads for each of them and put them in there instead of their respective crane and tank modes.

I welcome anyone to disagree with my structuring and classification of the characters, but again, within the confines of the original 1980s U.S. G1 universe, this is as true an illustration as I can -- and will -- ever make.

That is all -- thank you!

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Comments (116)
Lilly-Wind's avatar

This is beautiful, dude :D Nice work

Reply  ·  
Trecathlus's avatar
Trecathlus|Hobbyist General Artist
My thanks for your sweet comment, Lilly-Wind. It doth warm the cockles. :D
Reply  ·  
RefilGames12's avatar
RefilGames12|Hobbyist Interface Designer
nice bro!!! this is amazing!
Reply  ·  
Trecathlus's avatar
Trecathlus|Hobbyist General Artist
Muito obrigada. :-)
Reply  ·  
Grim-Supreme's avatar
Love it all!
Reply  ·  
Trecathlus's avatar
Trecathlus|Hobbyist General Artist
And your doing so makes it all the more satisfying. Thank you. :-)
Reply  ·  
symbiote12345's avatar
okay... HOW CAN THAT OVERRATED TWERP BUMBLEBEE RANK HIGHER THAN THE DINOBOTS!? AND THE COMBINERS!? THIS IS ALL WRONG!
Reply  ·  
Trecathlus's avatar
Trecathlus|Hobbyist General Artist
Hello. This chart isn't about reflecting individual rank as much as a logical (to my limited mind, at least) pseudo-militaristic structure of this particular "society."

Furthermore, I don't appreciate a lot of "shouting" about something that was made solely for enjoyment.

If your next response (should you type one) also contains ALL CAPS and aggressive language and punctuation, it will be removed.
Reply  ·  
symbiote12345's avatar
Sorry...
Reply  ·  
Trecathlus's avatar
Trecathlus|Hobbyist General Artist
That's all right. Thanks for taking what I said to heart.

Opinions are great -- as long as they're expressed in a cool manner. :-)
Reply  ·  
megasonicman01's avatar
If I could ask? Who on this list was killed in the movie in some form (are thebstoryboards canon) or was never seen in season 3 
Reply  ·  
Trecathlus's avatar
Trecathlus|Hobbyist General Artist
Hi!

Pardon me for the very late answer. Summer's been going on. :-)

The answer to your question has been well documented elsewhere on-line, but since you do ask:

DEMONSTRABLE DEATHS

Optimus Prime
Ironhide
Prowl
Ratchet
Wheeljack
Windcharger

STRONGLY INDICATED DEATHS

Brawn
Roller (a living part of Optimus Prime)

POST-CONFIRMED DEATHS

Huffer

STORYBOARDED DEATHS

Mirage
Red Alert
Smokescreen
Trailbreaker

And yes, I regard the storyboards as canonical.

NEVER SEEN AGAIN

Bluestreak
Chromia
Cliffjumper (he did survive the movie)
Devcon
Dion
Elita One
Firestar
Gears
Grapple
Hoist
Hound
Inferno
Moonracer
Sideswipe
Skids
Skyfire (unless you count his animation jet mode being used as an arbitrary Autobot Fleet ship in DARK AWAKENING)
Sunstreaker (unless you count his appearance in FIVE FACES OF DARKNESS - PART 5 coloured as BUMBLEBEE)
Tracks

And that should be it!
Reply  ·  
steve2275's avatar
again well dpone
Reply  ·  
Trecathlus's avatar
Trecathlus|Hobbyist General Artist
And again thanks!
Reply  ·  
Vectorshot's avatar
Vectorshot|Hobbyist Digital Artist
This chart is cool, thanks for your time. I would love to see one with the Japanese continuity included as well. What would be cooler is all of that with them set up by not only their functions but ranks as well.
Reply  ·  
Trecathlus's avatar
Trecathlus|Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you, Vectorshot.  :-)

I have considered doing a Japanese sub-gallery at some point, but it will probably be mainly HEADMASTERS-oriented. 
The MASTERFORCE and VICTORY designs seem more complex to me than I feel I have the skill to do very well, but 
I won't rule it out.

As for rank -- do you mean the Tech Spec ranking system?
Reply  ·  
Vectorshot's avatar
Vectorshot|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes I do, the tech specs rankings made them seem so real when I was little. With the skills that you have I can see you pulling off the Japanese continuity. What program are you using to create the images?
Reply  ·  
Trecathlus's avatar
Trecathlus|Hobbyist General Artist
Well, I thank you for the good word on my abilities. :-)

I could probably do it, though it would require me to get more deeply into the Japanese series. 
It may be that ship's sailed, because life is a lot different with regard to getting into new things 
like this, but I won't rule it out!

The software I've sworn to over more than two decades now is the Microangelo toolset. They
feel good enough about their product history to profile themselves as "The Grand Daddy of Icon
Software," and I can't say a thing against that. :-)
Reply  ·  
Ghilz's avatar
"Female Division" ? That's... weird. I mean, why not "Cybertron Resistance" which is what they did on the show, resist Shockwave on Cybertron. 

Otherwise, good work.
Reply  ·  
Trecathlus's avatar
Trecathlus|Hobbyist General Artist
Hello, Ghilz. Thanks for your feedback.

I have an answer to your question, but before I give it, I'd like to understand your point of view fully.
Could I interest you in sharing precisely why you think it so strange?
Reply  ·  
Ghilz's avatar
It seems a rather arbitrary division. Everyone else is either grouped by function (Command, Science), or by Special ability (Targetmasters) or actual team name (Dinobots, Protectobots).

The "Female Division" is the only one that's divided by gender term. It's also the only major division (As opposed to those put under sub divisions) not to have subtitle the way Science, Command and Combat do, which furthers reinforce that the only notable thing is their gender. And lastly, on its own it gives an air of... segregation? "Girls go in the girl team so we avoid the cooties" kind of stuff.

Now, not gonna say it's your fault, the G1 show wasn't exactly the pinnacle of gender representation, far from it, but it does feel like there's decent alternative. They were, in the original show, the only Autobots (along with Alpha Trion) remaining on Cybertron. Hence why Cybertron Resistance I think has a better ring. It calls more attention to what they did and the role they filled than well, the fact they are all girls.

Rest of the poster is real nice though.
Reply  ·  
Trecathlus's avatar
TrecathlusEdited |Hobbyist General Artist

Hi!

 

Thanks for hanging in there and for the thoughtful reply. I can be slow to respond -- you know, this "real life" thing is pretty insistent -- and this will be a long answer, but you'll bear with me, won't you? :-)

 

    Shortly before your first comment, I was alerted to a Facebook thread of strident reactions to my grouping of the female Autobots. It was quite a surprise. Times have changed, to be sure, because I was effectively labeled a misogynist on the basis of what was intended to be an innocuously entertaining, yet informative, chart. I'm sure the hearts of those who criticized me are in the right place, but I'm not so sure of the relevance of the arena they picked to express themselves about gender inequity. This organizational map is a million miles removed from a political or social statement -- and it isn't one by accident, either.

 

    I'm well into my forties, but still hold innocent affection for THE TRANSFORMERS. I love the TV series for the joy and excitement it brought to the kid I once was. So I always try to present things honestly and faithfully as they pertain to the G1 cartoon. There is no "agenda" behind what I do, but I sometimes have to get creative when there isn't enough contemporaneous material to go on, even in the behind-the-scenes content of official productions like THE SEARCH FOR ALPHA TRION. When I find myself having to fill in gaps, I try to make what I put in as reasonable as possible.

 

    Strangely enough, I've hardly had complaints about the (officially non-existent) functions I gave the female Autobots. The only hot-button issue seems to be the way I ordered them. I'm not sure why it appears arbitrary. I grant there are many ways to do it and I chose one that pleased me and seemed proper to many aspects, some of which are certainly based on personal preferences, but never to the end of "degrading" (as one detractor put it) characters. I gave them their own division because I wanted to single them out as a special and exclusive class of Autobot.

     

    "Female Division" was a prosaic choice. Beyond the fact that the cartoon episode unabashedly referred to them as "female Autobots" (and it's worth noting that a woman I know to be a passionate feminist wrote SEARCH), there's no disgrace in my mind to acknowledging their "otherness" directly.

 

    It's a lot like this: I don't understand how come it's offensive or awkward to many people to refer to (and this is just one of many examples) a woman working on-camera in films and television -- or indeed onstage -- as "an actress." All that word means is: a woman who acts. Yet many insist on calling her "actor," apparently to bring her up to some "equal" level. Is she, or should she be, somehow ashamed of being a lady of the arts? Must the female Autobots hide among the others in order to be their colleagues? Can't they be celebrated for their distinctiveness?

 

    You mention segregation. If that's what it says to you, my friend, your interpretation is your prerogative and I would never argue against it. That said, I can't be responsible for what your eyes see. This work is not a device to further antithetical leanings. If I wanted to treat these beings (fictional or not) with condescension or derision, I would have made that intent crystal clear.

 

    However, I do agree with you that there ought to be a subtitle, if only for diagraphical consistency. I have given that some thought as well, but it's more difficult than you might think to summarize them in a way that properly encompasses them without turning too ornate. Similarly to you, someone from the Facebook thread suggested they be labeled "Cybertronian Rebellion Specialists," though the following claim that "that was their actual function against Shockwave" is too categorical -- and difficult for me to countenance given the fact that we're not just talking about the four named characters in SEARCH.

 

    ARCEE is an officially defined warrior, but she was demonstrably absent from dealings with SHOCKWAVE and couldn't easily be said to be a part of "The Resistance." BETA exhibited authority during the slave rebellion against the Quintessons and is in a way more akin to ELITA  ONE's group, though in her time, the populace segment she came from consisted of scientists and labourers. So the subtitle must account for both, right? The last of them, ARIEL, could be said to be a little incongruous here as she is pre-ELITA, but I like her design and think it should be seen as well (same deal with ORION PAX / OPTIMUS PRIME). I could put her under "Other Operatives," which would sort of work, but then I would lose the visual unity. So I haven't quite figured out how best to do it yet. One day, the right description may come to me.

 

    Some have called the overview flawed. That's fine. I don't mind that some seem to look down their nose at me for not making it perfect to their eyes, because I didn't make it for them. I made it for me. What I do find a little bemusing is that they have seemingly no compunctions about ascribing some odious underlying motive to me. As if they know the first thing about me, right?

     

    I'm sure this is much more of a response than you imagined receiving, but I decided to make use of this to explain how I work to someone I'm pretty sure would understand. It also gives me something readily quotable if someone else questions something I've submitted in the future. :-)

     

    Thanks again for commenting so fairly.

Reply  ·  
shatteredglasscomic's avatar
I just found this. Man this is awesome!! I wish I've seen this sooner for my story Cybertronians. This is really, really good. ;-)
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