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The title 'Autobot' is explained to be the short version of 'Autonomous Robotic Organisms'. Wouldn't that mean all Cybertronions are Autobots? Why then do the good "Heroic Bots" lead by Optimus Prime call themselves Autobots while the bad "Evil Bots" lead by Megatron call themselves Decepticons? Aren't they all the same race?

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    Autobots have better PR and Marketing departments. May 1, 2014 at 4:13
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    It all boils down to politics... May 1, 2014 at 4:18
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    @DVK Thanks big dog.
    – Morgan
    May 1, 2014 at 5:00
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    I just ran across this piece of the puzzle; In the original animated series continuity, the Decepticons owe their warlike ways to their faction's origin as military hardware robots, created by the five-faced aliens, the Quintessons, while the Autobots were designed as consumer goods. I'm not sure what is considered 'canon' in the Transformer universe but this seems to make sense.
    – Morgan
    May 1, 2014 at 5:03
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    @morgan, Anything not fan-created is "canon", it's just an issue of there being multiple continuities and canons. The new "aligned" continuity is Has/Tak's attempt to sort out the huge mess that's been made over the years. It doesn't make any of the older continuities less "canon", it just tries to find a way to mesh them together as best as possible.
    – phantom42
    May 1, 2014 at 10:48

5 Answers 5

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The rise of the term Autobot differs with each continuity.

In the Aligned continuity (which is the most similar to the Michael Bay movies), the term Autobot is coined by Orion Pax as a description for the concept of abolishing the caste system that the Cybertronians were living under, not as a description for the race as a whole. "Autonomous" as in deciding one's fate by themselves.

In the IDW comics continuity the Autobot moniker is given to the corrupt Cybertronian Empire by the galaxy's other races to describe these mechanical beings. Auto from automatons, because in the other races' eyes the Cybertronians were long lived mechanicals who never changed in any fundamental way (despite the name Transformers). When both Optimus Prime and Megatron rise up against the corrupt government, Megatron chose to name his faction with a new name and a new sigil, while Optimus decided to repurpose the term Autobot and derive it from "autonomous" (from the people, by the people) and keep the old sigil. Which, in essence, displays the philosophical differences between the two leaders.

In the 1984 cartoon continuity the two races were created separately by the Quintessons. Autobots as consumer grade machines, and the Decepticons as weaponized machines. So this makes this continuity the only one were the Autobots and Decepticons were never the same race.

In the Marvel comics continuity the Autobots were created by Primus and lived more or less peacefully on Cybertron. When Megatron started his revolution he decided he needed to differentiate his faction, and so gave them a new name. As far as I recall, no reasoning is given for the names.

In the Dreamwave comics continuity the two factions arose when Megatron started the civil war. Those who sided with Megatron named themselves Decepticons, and those who sided with Sentinel Prime and the Council of Ancients named themselves Autobots. Again no reasoning is given for the names.

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  • It seriously helps to have this info concisely collected onto one page.
    – Morgan
    May 1, 2014 at 18:00
  • @Morgan - I point you to the excellent and well maintained tfwiki.net. Transformers writers have been known to consult it. May 1, 2014 at 18:01
  • Oh great. That's all I need, another website to burn up endless hours searching and sifting through :-).
    – Morgan
    May 1, 2014 at 18:07
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Originally for toy reasons.

The Autobots were all cars in the original run in 1984, so Automobile-Robots. Decepticons because they are the bad guys.

Bob Budiansky is crediting with naming the first batch of guys if I remember correctly.

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    While not an in-universe answer, this is potentially interesting and useful. However, could you provide any references about Bob Budiansky's role in naming Autobots/Decepticons? This wiki mentions many individual characters, "Dinobots", and other mythos elements (like the Autobot Matrix) named by him, but not specifically "Autobots" or "Decepticons". If you could provide a reference, this would greatly improve your answer.
    – Beofett
    May 1, 2014 at 16:28
  • This is good stuff @Rigas, definitely worth expanding upon.
    – Morgan
    May 1, 2014 at 17:39
  • @Beofett I can't find a written reference, I beleive I heard in and interview/panel that given at a Botcon, but some of the old school guys who where there at the beginning. Like a lot of things back then It was never written down and directly credited in official documents, but being as the guy was there I was inclined to believe him.
    – Rigas
    Jun 13, 2014 at 9:13
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The Transformers were created by a race called the Quintessons.

They originally created Autobots as general worker consumer bots and Decepticons as military weapons. The Transformers eventually became sentient and rebelled.

This is far back in their past though. The more recent factions are more political centric. It is not uncommon for an Autobot/Decepticon to switch sides.

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    Good information, but would be much better if you could source it....
    – K-H-W
    May 1, 2014 at 17:17
  • Autobots- consumer grade machines: Optimus Prime- a Kenworth K100 cab over truck, then a Peterbilt Semi-tractor (truck); Bumblebee- a yellow Volkswagen Beetle, then '77 Camaro, then prototype 2008 Camaro; Ironhide- a black 72' GMC, then a GMC C4500 4x4 Crew Cab TopKick; Sideswipe- Chevrolet Stingray Concept; Decepticons as weaponized machines: Megatron- a size changing Walther pistol w/scope, a Cybertronian Jet, a cybertronian tank; Starscream- a McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor; Devastator- M1 Abrams Tank; Bonecrusher- Buffalo Armored Vehicle.
    – Morgan
    May 1, 2014 at 19:30
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I think the Japanese naming is an interesting contrast (especially as TF started as a rebrand of two completely separate line of Japanese toys).

The Japanese name for the Autobots is (literally) Seibertron (or Cyberton) - so Cybertronion is seen as synonymous with the "good guys".

The Decepticons on the other hand are known as Destron (from destroy/destruct) - an obvious anti-faction there.

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Autobots have blue eyes or optics; Decepticons have red. (At least, that's what I noticed in the 80's cartoon series - apart from their insignias) Therefore, blue is good, while red is rude 😬

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