22

When the first live-action Transformers movie was released, the writers said that Arcee had been cut from the script because they couldn't figure out how to explain genders in Transformers. Of course, they reneged on this in the second movie when Arcee, Chromia and Elita-1 showed up briefly.

Romantic relationships have existed or at least been implied in many of the continuities and it has always between male and female Transformers. So, gender does seem to have some sort of place in the mythos, but in no continuity (that I am aware of) have Transformers been created via sexual reproduction. Has the origin of genders or reason for them ever been explained?

  • 17
    They're more than meets the eye. – Jack B Nimble May 29 '13 at 19:29
  • 3
    What's worse; how will they explain the birds and the bees? Gears and sprockets? – Jersey May 29 '13 at 20:07
  • 2
    I think this link will be helpful transformers.wikia.com/wiki/Female_Transformer – Steve Harrington May 29 '13 at 20:13
  • I had already read that, but it really doesn't go into the origins/why almost at all except some vague theory about slave labor and out-of-universe reasons for not introducing them. – phantom42 May 29 '13 at 20:23
  • 3
    @Jersey: Pistons and cylinders. The key part is the spark plugs. – Jeff Feb 3 '14 at 1:36
15

To date, no one has explained why there are two genders, what the origin of said genders were and why a machine-based species even bothers having remnants of a dimorphic species (reproductive genders) if they were always machine-based having no previous organic origins.

"Boys Toys"

For a dozen years, female Transformers weren't even acknowledged as even EXISTING. Bob Budiansky, one of the premiere writers of the early Marvel comics versions acknowledges this in an interview. To his credit, there were early notes indicating he wanted there to be female-gendered Transformers before Hasbro said, no:

  • Well, I remember bringing up that question early on with Hasbro, "are any of these female?" And then I think Hasbro's attitude was, 'this is a boy toy. We don't wanna have, you know, girl robots.' So, I said, "OK, just want to clarify that." --Bob Budiansky, Rusting Carcass interview

In most of their depictions, female-gendered Transformers were not shown or barely shown to exist. The manufacturers of the original toys admitted the toys were developed for young boys and gender wasn't really a factor in their design.

  • Budiansky was the lead writer for their most famous incarnation in the 1984 limited series, The Transformers. He would later write the longer running series until issue #55 (when he started to burn out due to having to shoehorn so many new characters into so few pages). This was the same reason few writers were willing to pick it up after he stopped.

  • Because it was a book intended to sell toys, Transformers featured an ever-rotating cast. New Transformers were often hastily brought in to meet the demands of Hasbro, and older "product" was often swept aside or killed off en masse in epic, climactic battles.

  • The Transformers, the monthly comic book published in the U.S. by Marvel Comics, was the very first original fiction to feature the famous robots in disguise, as well as the longest-running.

  • It started life as a four-issue, bimonthly limited series in 1984, but proved so popular that it continued publication as an ongoing monthly until spring of 1991. The series ultimately reached 80 issues and spun off several miniseries.

  • The series established the Marvel Comics continuity, which would form the basis for several successor stories over the years, including the Generation 2 series published by Marvel themselves only two years later, and the Regeneration One series which would reunite the creative team from the latter days of this series.

Media Shift

By the time the Generation 1 Transformers were being put on Television it had been decided again that there were no female Transformers. Except where they were drawn in the backgrounds or would mysteriously appear and disappear in a single episode. Such inconsistency only added to the frustration of the viewers.

  • Female-gendered Transformers would appear in the Beast Wars series without explanation or comment. No one (except maybe feminists who had been asking why there weren't any females) seemed to notice or care that suddenly female Transformers seemed to now exist.

  • As often is the case, a fuss about whether there should be female machines was basically ignored/accepted because a writer said it was. The more popular the series grew, the more likely writers were to create "female-gender" Transformers when it was translated to other media.

  • There was no further conflict until the Transformers became a live action movie and no one wanted to explain the Transformer Birds and Bees, so it became a decision to make them all "genderless - and thus voiced by male actors..." The Autobot Ironside was originally slated to be the female-gender character Arcee.

You can see the sordid UN-history of female-gender Transformers at the Transformers Wiki.

  • I don't understand what you mean in the second part of your answer. "By the time the Generation 1 Transformers were being put on television"? That would be 1984, the same year the toys were introduced to America; and female Transformers were introduced in the cartoon in 1985, without being introduced as toys. They proved to be a popular concept, especially since the addition of Arcee in the animated motion picture, so they persisted into Beast Wars for that reason alone. – Blazemonger Jan 13 '14 at 20:35
  • When you say, "You can see the sorted UN-history of female-gender Transformers at the Transformers Wiki."... by "sorted," did you mean "sordid"? I tried to edit it, but it said edits need to be at least 6 characters long. – kanamekun Feb 2 '14 at 23:39
  • Arcee, the first major female Transformer character, was in Transformers: The Movie, long before Beast Wars. I always figured it was because the original target market of young boys were getting a little older by that time, and suddenly there was a market for Transformers that were "more than meets the eye" in quite a different way. – John Sensebe Jun 28 '16 at 13:58
4

The IDW Generation 1 continuity has explained the existence of female Cybertronians.

In this continuity Cybertronians are strictly asexual and reproduce by mining (or splicing) sparks and growing them. While a facsimile of what we fleshlings might call romantic relationships do exist between Cybertronians, it does not require gender differentiation.

The only known female Cybertronian in this world is Arcee, who was the result of an experiment to introduce gender into the asexual Cybertronian society by mad scientist Jhiaxus. This however did not introduce sexual reproduction, and its only result is a Cybertronian with a feminine body who also inexplicably causes other Cybertronians to refer to Arcee using feminine pronouns.

Another female Cybertronian can be spotted in Megatron Origin (modeled after G1 Elita One), but it is unknown if she is simply a homage, an artist error, or another experiment.

BIG EDIT:

The discovery of the lost Cybertronian colonies has brought in a whole host of female characters. This has retconned the existence of Cybertronian females from never existing, to being a subset of the Cybertronian race that had left the home planet a long time ago. Apart from having a (usually) sleeker form and the use of different pronouns, there doesn't seem to be anything that differentiates male Cybertronians from female ones.

  • 1
    I had always thought that G1 Wheelie was a girl too. – harmingcola Feb 3 '14 at 12:26
3

A 1989 edition of the UK Transfomers comic offered an explanation in the story Prime's Rib (the title a seeming allusion to the biblical story of the origin of Eve, the first woman).

As Denyer explains in his review, it lays down that in comic continuity Transformers don't have a biological concept of male and female. The 'rib' of the piece is Arcee, who's been built as a PR exercise after complaints from humans that all Transformers are male.

For more details, see the review of this story at the TFArchive.

Front cover of Transfomers comic showing Arcee throttling a Decepticon

The critics remarked:

The mouthy cod-feminism may be satire, but it's not especially funny, and the story stands up badly to rereading. Like several of Furman's more throwaway strips, it comes across as brattish and smug.

1

In The Covenant of Primus, it has been explained that Cybertronians don't have different genders the same way as humans do.

The Primes, and later the Transformers, do not have gender in the same way that humans and certain other biological species do....To Cybertronians, there are two distinctive "kinds" that we easily divide ourselves into, recognizing key feature differences in the manner in which information is processed.

It also states that they started to do 'gender different terms' after coming across aliens that do have gender to show they can recognize the differences and equality.

Here Solus Prime, and those who were later formed in her lineage, are referred to as "she" in order to comply with your human gender reference terms and to show a distinction that a distinction that Cybertronians recognize among themselves (though other races do not).

-3

my take were they were a mix of a throwback to a biological past and an attempt to a integrate a biological component to the planet. to aid in interstellar commerce. (fitting in to other systems say.) My 2nd theory was they were a form of upgrade a 2.0 they were smaller sleeker and possibly more fuel efficient and more resource efficient too think the difference between a Tractor and a Lamborghini.

  • 1
    Is there an in-movie basis for this? – Adamant Jun 28 '16 at 6:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.