Long before they tore up the big screen in Michael Bay's Transformers movies, the "robots in disguise" ruled the '80s with a hit toyline, a successful animated series, and a cult classic animated feature. But by the mid-'90s, the Transformers were largely dormant... until the Beast Wars began.
Beast Wars: Transformers was a game-changer for the franchise and played a key role in keeping the spark alive. This was the first-ever CGI animated Transformers TV show at a time when computer generated animation was still in its infancy. By today's standards, Beast Wars looks a bit dated... but in 1996, it was revolutionary.
Additionally, the creative team behind Beast Wars embraced a darker and more mature tone than the previous animated series. In one of the show's greatest twists, the Maximals and Predacons from the future realized that they were trapped in Earth's distant past, where the first generation of Autobots and Decepticons were awaiting their revival in 1984.
While Optimus Prime's death traumatized young Transformers fans in 1986, Beast Wars didn't shy away from killing off some of its characters. One of the most significant fatalities was Dinobot, a Predacon turned Maximal who had one of the most compelling character arcs on the series. Dinobot sacrificed his life to atone for his mistakes, and his death was a legitimately powerful moment in the series.
Naturally, Beast Wars led to new Transformers toys, which is still a key part of the franchise. It also led to a new spinoff, Beast Machines. But that's a story for another time.
For more Beast Wars memories, check out the latest episode of SYFY WIRE's Everything You Didn't Know!