Classic '80s 'toon more than just a commercial in disguise.
Parents recommend

What parents need to know

Educational value
Not applicable
Positive messages

The good Autobots are constantly foiling the nefarious schemes of their arch-enemies, the evil Decepticons. The Autobots have allied with the humans on Earth, while the Decepticons want to steal the planet's energy resources.

Violence & scariness

Lots and lots of animated robotic battles. Expect explosions, heavy weapons, and other kinds of mechanized mayhem, but little actual danger. Robots are rarely damaged, and civilians sometimes seem to be in peril but are never injured.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable

Plenty of products are tied to the Transformers franchise, including robot toys and two big-budget big-screen movies. The toys actually came first, and this series was originally developed in the '80s to promote them.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this animated series, which ran for four seasons in the mid-1980s, is the show that kicked off so many other Transformers series, as well as the successful big-budget movie franchise. It focuses on the cartoon clashes between two groups of giant robots -- the evil Decepticons and the noble Autobots. Expect plenty of robo-combat and lots of explosions, but few actual injuries. The series was originally based on a line of popular toys; the toys are still available, as are many other Transformers products, but the cartoons are at the heart of Transformers empire.

What's the story?

A long-running war between two groups of intelligent robots -- the evil Decepticons and the noble Autobots -- has left their home planet Cybertron stripped of energy. Seeking new resources, the Decepticons are thrilled to discover Earth; their leader, Megatron (voiced by Frank Welker), is determined to steal the planet's entire energy reserves. Head Autobot Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) vows to protect Earth from his enemies' wicked schemes and befriends young Spike Witwicky (Corey Burton), who helps the giant robots learn about humans. The animated TRANSFORMERS series follows the ongoing conflict between the two robotic forces, featuring plenty of robo-battles and mechanized combat.

Is it any good?


The show takes its name from the robots' distinctive shape-shifting capabilities. Though they typically assume human-like forms -- with arms, legs and heads -- they each have an automated alter-ego, including jet planes, trucks, cars, and other nifty designs. These quick-change transitions are a key part of the show's appeal, and they make for a pretty cool effect when the Autobots and the Decepticons gear up for battle. Of course, shape-changing robots also make ideal playthings for young boys; in fact, the products came first, and series was created in large part to boost sales of the Transformers toys. No surprise, the plan was a huge success.

Even though the Transformers franchise has now moved way beyond the products, the series holds up well. Yes, the animation is very clunky by today's standards, but the transformation effect never gets old, especially for the legions of die-hard fans who grew up watching Optimus Prime slug it out with Megatron. The series also deserves credit for placing natural resources at the center of the story, a prescient move that seems very current today. Bottom line? The show looks its age, but it's still fun.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about marketing and product tie-ins. This show was created explicitly to promote a line of robot toys. Do you think the series functions well on its own, or does it seem like an extended commercial? Kids: Does it make you want Transformers toys? When does a show cross the line between entertainment and advertising? Is there such a line?

TV details

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byBallin4Life March 6, 2011

Ok for older kids.

I love this show when I was a kid and still do. I'm happy the Hub airs this along with the original GI Joe.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models
Parent of a 5 year old Written byBPBury1970 January 19, 2011

Mostly harmless

My 5 year old loves this series. I am slightly concerned about the blatant commercial that this series actually is, but my son doesn't beg me for new transformers. There's also the idea that physical fighting is an assumed method of problem solving. However, I haven't noticed much of that affecting my son. I think it's a great substitute for the live action movie, which I won't let him see yet.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Parent of a 5 year old Written bysmcclenaghan September 1, 2012

Depends on the kid.

Limit to one episode a week or so and watch for behavior emulation. Explain the purpose of the series (to promote toys) and make it very clear that everything in it is pretend. It's a good first fantasy with simple plots to get kids thinking about cause and effect.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much consumerism


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