Transformers is essentially set up as a war between good and evil, represented by the Autobots and Decepticons. However, these are robots, and each is programmed to perform certain functions. Most of these are useful, but a few...eh, not so much.
Just The Facts
- The Transformers world has giant robots fighting in military units.
- Most of these robots are programmed with functions suitable for military operations.
- A few, though, have functions that just don't work for a robot war.
Official Function: Archivist
Translated: Trivia Enthusiast
There is absolutely no doubt that in a war, having information stored and ready to access about the enemy's strengths and weaknesses, their combat capabilities, and the overall size, trends, and strategies of the enemy force is essential to battlefield victory. Having a robot that is a giant data storage collector in this way makes sense in a conflict. Thus, this is where the Autobot Rewind comes in...except that he could give a shit about any of that.
Need to know what the State Flower of Texas is? Want to know in what years the Steelers won the Super Bowl? Care about who holds the official high score in Donkey Kong? Need the name of the red-shirted ensign that fell to his punk ass death in Abram's Star Trek?
Rewind could tell you all of that in a heartbeat. In a case of not knowing when to stop and focus on the important shit that might make a difference in the war, Rewind spends his time finding out every useless fact there is and sharing it with the world.
He's the robot equivalent of the guy sitting at the end of the bar playing the fucking trivia game on the TV screen and smoking everyone at it. Except instead of doing it between Jager bombs, he does it on the battlefield between laser blasts.
However, he may occasionally have something useful to say. This next guy, though...
8. Chop Shop
Official Function: Thief
On the surface, having a robot that is good at getting into enemy spaces, stealing valuable weapons, plans, or technology, and bringing these items back to base seems awesome. He should be the robot equivalent of Storm Shadow; a ninja style bot that is there and gone before the Autobots know what hit them, leaving his enemies wondering what the hell just happened. He also has the benefit of being able to transform into a tiny insect, so unless the Autobots are looking hard, he can sneak right by them before they know it.
Unfortunately for the Decepticons, he's anything but that.
Chop Shop gets off on stealing like Tiger Woods gets off on Vegas waitresses, so he thieves from everyone, including his friends and himself, and then denies it. Ammo, fuel, weapons, robot porn, it just doesn't matter to him. It clearly isn't an intelligence issue, since he's smart enough to not get caught, but whatever genius programmed him clearly forgot the off switch. This makes him the robot equivalent of the annoying roommate who repeatedly swipes a favorite video game or CD when everyone is gone and then claims he hasn't seen it when the questioning starts. Later, it turns up in his possession, but he claims it was his all along.
So the next time a Decepticon runs out of ammo or is missing a weapon on the battlefield and winds up being blown to hell while weaponless, thank Chop Shop.
Still, if pointed in the right direction, he might be useful. That's more than I can say about...
7. Chromedome and Mainframe
Official Functions: Computer Programmer and System Analyst, respectively
Translated: The Autobot equivalent of the Geek Squad.
Two Autobots, similar issues. First, Chromedome is a Headmaster, which sounds a hell of lot more sexually intriguing than it really is, especially considering that it involves human/robot bonding.
Headmasters are Transformers that have had their heads removed and reshaped into mini-transformers that humanoid aliens, called Nebulans, operate. The process allows the original robot and the humanoid operating the head to mentally bond, share thoughts, increase fighting abilities, and influence how each side in the partnership behaves. In theory, this makes them better, more capable fighters than ordinary transformers.
Chromedome had the luck to be bonded with Stylor, who had no love of war but plenty of love for the ladies. Even if Chromedome was an adequate warrior, the combination of battle experience and smooth talking skills and sexual prowess from his partner should have been enough for him to get some on a regular basis. And before you ask, yes, there are female Autobots.
But Chromedome wanted none of that, focusing instead on his exciting career in computer programming, which I'm guessing got him, and his partner, laid about as often as the Cubs win the World Series.
On the other end of this equation, the Autobot Mainframe is an Action Master, which again, sounds sexually exciting but really isn't, as all it means is that it's a Transformer that doesn't transform. And while you're chewing on that, the only reason for Mainframe's existence is to debug computer code. Mainframe, it is safe to say, sees absolutely no action.
This could be noble, in either case, if there was a discernible need for a computer programmer or some IT help in the Autobot/Decepticon conflict. Robots, after all, run on computers and computer programming, so if they were used to repair damaged skulls or fuck with the Decepticons minds, that might be useful. However, it's pretty clear in each case that these guys are concerned with Autobot PCs and I-pads, not the internal workings of the robots themselves. This is great if you need them to figure out why the Internet is down, how to configure a firewall properly, or what video card is needed to run World of Warcraft, but it seems pretty useless in a robot war.
But hey, they could be...
Official Function: Hypnotist
In theory, Mindwipe is useful. He's a Headmaster, so he has the skills to be a decent warrior. He transforms into a giant fucking bat, so that's moderately terrifying. He's also trying to find ways to talk to and communicate with the dead, which is one step away from raising said dead, so there's some potential here.
But his function is to go out and hypnotize the Autobots. This is done by having the Autobots look directly in his eyes (no word on whether a giant watch is required). Think about how well hypnotism works in everyday life, like the geeky guy who hypnotizes the hot girl in high school to go out with him before throwing herself at him for cheap and easy sex. Oh, wait. That never happens.
That's because it's debatable if hypnotism even actually works at all, but in cases where it has been thought to work, most individuals simply respond and act on benign suggestions. Want to lose weight? You can be hypnotized and have it suggested that you should lay off the nachos. Need to stop smoking? Maybe you have it suggested to you to cut out your bathroom smokes at work. But that's about it. It doesn't create an automatic slave, and it almost certainly can't be done on the fly in battle.
But he's a robot, so that might make it different, right? Well, besides the fact that it only works on one Autobot at a time, that it has to be done in the heat of battle since Autobots and Decepticons don't tend to hang out, and that it involves the Autobot in question looking directly in Mindwipe's goddamn eyes long enough for it to work (requiring Mindwipe to get very close to robots that want to kill him), it's a totally serviceable ability.
No word on whether he makes them cluck like chickens. Still, he could conceivably make this work once or twice, which makes him way more useful than...
Official Function: Theoretician
Translated: Bullshit Artist
Poor Skids. A look at his robot form and all those guns on his arms makes him look like he should be able to tear shit up on the battlefield. Images of him standing up and strafing down rows of Decepticons with lasers and rockets seem to arrive naturally seeing all that ordinance on his forearms. Sadly, that image, like so much else about Skids, is mired knee deep in bullshit.
Skids official function is to figure out why Decepticons do what they do and where they might do it next. Now, any 5 year old can tell you that the Decepticons do what they do because they're the bad guys and that likely places that they'll target are places with fuel. The Autobot-Decepticon war doesn't have a lot of subtext to it; the Autobots are the good guys who protect people, power plants, and the universe from a bunch of evil fucks in the Decepticons who want to rule everything and get all the fuel they can. There's not much else to it, so having a robot whose sole purpose is to ask "why" makes no fucking sense at all.
Plus, after being operational for five minutes and realizing that his entire existence boils down to those last two sentences, the only way for Skids to remain a viable member of the Autobots was to start bullshitting reasons beyond that for why the Decepticons do what they do. After hearing about how the Decepticons' mothers didn't love them for the fiftieth time, I'm sure the Autobots stopped going to him for advice.
Beyond that, everything else about Skids generally sucks. He hates war, so despite being armed with all those guns, he'd rather sit down and think about things. He was so useful that he had two appearances in the cartoon: one showed him being repaired after having his ass kicked, and the other involved a single Decepticon crushing him and then turning him into a La-Z-Boy that said Decepticon used as a throne. And no, I didn't make that up.
Still, maybe he figures out what the Decepticons will do next in a meaningful way, which makes him potentially more useful than...
Official Function: Battlefield Dissonance
Translated: Misunderstood Musician
Squawkbox is a combination of two of Soundwave's cassette army: Squawktalk, a bird-shaped Transformer that loves to talk and never shuts up, and Beastbox, an interrogator who wants to discover everything he can from his captives. Combining them merged their minds, leading to Squawkbox, who loves manipulating and playing with sound, so much so that he makes compositions.
In other words, he's a fucking musician, and a horrible one at that.
His bio indicates that he's placed on the battlefield to distract the Autobots with his musical masterpieces, but 1) does anyone really feel that the Autobots are going to be stopped by a rock concert, and 2) it sort of defeats the purpose of being sneaky by having disguises if one of your troop is making a racket as you approach the battle site.
There is a record of music being used to annoy the enemy in battle (see the US invasion of Panama), but the stress there is on annoy. Since Squawkbox annoys both sides on the battlefield, and since no one won a war with death metal, his usefulness is incredibly limited.
All that said, he could be...
Official Function: Information Coordinator
Translated: War Journalist
While the other Transformers highlighted here may have been subjected to some unfair criticism about what they can do, there's no exaggerating here.
The primary function of Slamdance is to report the news on the frontlines.
Consider for a moment that in the real world, news reports from wars serve real purposes to inform the public about progress, losses, atrocities, or what exactly is going on. Many of these reports can sway public opinion about a war, alter war policies, or otherwise inform a public that doesn't have a clue as to what is going on in a conflict. This is exactly what Slamdance is programmed to do.
That would be great, if the Transformers as a race had any civilian population left, a political system that could influence war policy, or anything else approaching a civilization at this point. They don't, since every transformer in existence is either fighting for the Autobots or Decepticons. So basically, Slamdance reports what happens as any other news reporter would, but he has absolutely no audience. Plus, the existing Transformers that could watch him could give a shit. The Decepticons really don't care what the rest of the universe thinks about them, and the Autobots are present at all the battles. He doesn't do covert work, and he isn't really armed well for battle, making his information skills his only offering, and these are fundamentally useless given the situation.
"Well," you say, "maybe he can help the Autobots with human relationships?"
To which, if you watch any Transformers media besides the cartoon, I would say the average human either a) doesn't have a clue that giant robots that look like cars and planes are fighting a war, b) sees no difference between the good robot that accidentally stepped on his or her house or the evil robot that blew up his or her house, or c) sees a fifty foot robot with a laser gun walk down the street and shits themselves. So yeah, having a giant robot give the war report to a bunch of people who flip out at seeing it probably isn't the best PR move.
But hey, reporting the news is still probably more useful than...
Official Function: Metallurgist
Translated: Metal Detector
If the Transformers war was fought on a beach and Optimus Prime couldn't find his keys to get started, Swerve might have a purpose.
Officially, he's an Autobot scientist who often wanders off in thought, making him a driving and battlefield hazard to begin with, but his primary function as a scientist is to detect the various kinds of metals that may be around him. That could, conceivably, be useful, if the Autobots had to find some loose change or something around the headquarters, but it's hard to see how else he's useful in a war.
"But, they're on Earth," you say. "He might need to find metal in the Earth or something."
True, but he, like all Transformers, was originally built and programmed on Cybertron, a completely metal world inhabited by completely metal beings. Think about this for a second. Who or whatever created Swerve had to have known this. Apparently, as a cosmic joke, Swerve's creator decided to say to hell with it and saddled the poor sap with the most useless fucking ability to have while in a war surrounded by metal for miles around. I imagine his conversations went something like this:
Swerve: "Optimus, I've found some special metal alloys under the ground!"
Optimus Prime: (glares annoyingly, wonders if he should walk away)
"Great. Just keep doing that. Excuse me, but I have to go now and win a war."
Even if one wanted to argue that maybe he could detect the presence of, say, Transformer metals versus Earth based ones, thus figuring out where a transformed enemy may be in a crowd, it's not like Autobots or Decepticons really go out of the way to hide their allegiances when they both wear huge ass tribal symbols on their bodies. A pair of eyes and some observation can do the job just as well.
And yet, as utterly useless as he is, he may have slightly more value than...
Official Function: Combat Artist
Slog is a Decepticon Pretender Monster, which means that not only is he a robot that transforms into a monster, but he also has a separate, outer shell (like a Halloween costume...but for robots) that he can get into to increase his battle ability. In addition, he's a combiner who merges with other Pretender monsters to form Monstructor, a giant nightmare of a robot that destroys everything in his path. Theoretically, he should be incredibly kick ass on the battlefield.
Alas, he also pretends that he belongs in a war.
Slog's goal in life is to be the best artist that he can be. While the other Decepticons are fighting Autobots in life and death combat, Slog moves around the battlefield, paints some mural, or, more disturbingly, creates some structures out of fallen warriors. Because nothing says sane like finding a corpse on the battlefield, dismembering it, and then turning it into a statue to suit his own tastes for all to see...while the battle is still going on.
In true psychotic fashion, he also feels bad about it and doesn't really want to fight in the war at all. Yep, he's thrilled to be able to create art out of the corpses he finds littering the battlefield, but he doesn't want to actually kill anyone if he doesn't have to.
So, Slog has a huge monster body with monster costume to kill Autobots effectively except that all Slog really wants to do is paint or turn the dead into statuary because he's emo about all of it. None of which is truly effective in a war, making him utterly useless. Oh, and his art? He calls it "Slogism".
Even better. He's useless and a douche bag.