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Optimus Prime is the noble leader of the Autobots in the original Transformers cartoon. Strong-willed and compassionate, he is a charismatic leader and a cunning warrior who is willing to sacrifice his own life for the safety of others, something he has done on multiple occasions. He is voiced by Peter Cullen.

Deaths and rebirths

Transformers: The Movie

In Transformers: The Movie (1986), Optimus delivered Autobot reinforcements to Autobot City on Earth, which was under attack by the Decepticons. Optimus faced his arch-nemesis Megatron in single combat, receiving many injuries including a shard of metal to the gut and a laser-sword wound to the chest. The fight was fierce, but Optimus appeared to have Megatron beaten.

Megatron pretended to beg for mercy as he reached for a blaster pistol lying under an upturned deck plate, but the young Autobot Hot Rod spotted the gun and tackled Megatron, blocking Optimus's line of fire. Megatron took advantage of this and grabbed Hot Rod with one arm and the blaster with the other. He then proceeded to shoot Optimus several times, crippling him. As Megatron stood over his wounded enemy gloating, Optimus mustered the last of his strength to slam Megatron over a ledge and send him falling several decks.

When the Decepticons later withdrew, the Autobots saw to Optimus's injuries. Perceptor announced that the wounds were fatal and nothing could be done for him. As his last act, Optimus Prime passed on the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus. As his vitals all flatlined, his body turned grey and the lights of his optics went out.

Transformers - Season 3

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In the Transformers episode Dark Awakening, Optimus Prime is resurrected by the Quintessons. Using mind control implants, the Quintessons send Optimus back to Cybertron to rally the Autobot fleet. Optimus believed he was mobilizing an assault on the Quintesson's home base, but was actually leading them into a trap: the Quintessons had produced a decoy planetoid rigged with a bomb capable of annihilating the Autobot fleet. Before it was too late, Rodimus Prime managed to board Optimus's flagship and fought him, which helped Optimus come back to his senses. Optimus then ordered the fleet to return to Cybertron while he piloted his flagship into the Quintessons' detonator, destroying himself.

In a bizarre continuity twist, Optimus Prime returned in the two-part episode, The Return of Optimus Prime. His lifeless body was found aboard a starship hurtling toward a dying star and was rescued by a group of human scientists, who took him back to Earth along with samples of alien spores that could induce hatred and rage in other life-forms. Harbouring a hatred toward all Transformers, these scientists used Optimus's body to lure the Autobots and Decepticons into a trap. Both sides were infected with the hate spores and went berserk, attacking everyone in sight, friend and foe alike. This would lead to a global outbreak that threatened to destroy the entire Earth, but a few uninfected Autobots managed to rescue a Quintesson in order to resurrect Optimus Prime, believing that his wisdom and leadership could save them.

The Quintesson's procedure was successful and Optimus was resurrected, who then led a group of uninfected Transformers to acquire a precious radiation-proof alloy that could protect him from the plague. Optimus had his body coated in the metal and then went to find Rodimus Prime, who had been infected and possessed the Matrix of Leadership. Optimus was able to take back the Matrix and use its power to destroy the hate spores, curing the entire world.