The Decepticon leader has met his end on multiple occasions. We’re breaking down every time Megatron has paid the ultimate price against the Autobots.
In the story of the Transformers, Megatron, the evil leader of the Decepticons, has died almost as many times as his opposite number, the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime. The Decepticon has been characterized as a relentless killing machine, a regretful anti-hero, and a dimwitted lackey over the years, but more often than not, Megatron gets a deadly end.
Transformers started in 1984 with several (already conflicting) continuities between a toyline, a Saturday morning cartoon show, and a Marvel comic series. One of the mainstays of each of these was Megatron, and while his character has been developed over the years through a dozen new reboots and brand new continuities, between the Dreamwave comic series, the IDW comic series, a handful of Japanese anime series’, the Michael Bay film series, and more, it seems like Megatron has a tendency to end up dead by the end.
There are dozens upon dozens of iterations of the Transformers franchise, but the three main branches have always been the live-action movies, the comic books, and the cartoons. These three staples have treated Megatron in wildly different ways, be it a universal conquistador or a sidekick.
Michael Bay’s Transformers Movie
In Michael Bay’s first live-action Transformers movie, Megatron has been held in stasis underneath the Hoover Dam, having crashed on Earth in pursuit of the Allspark. In the film’s climax, Megatron is awakened and promptly goes on a rampage through nearby Mission City.
After a pitched battle between the Autobots and Decepticons that saw Megatron tear the Autobot lieutenant Jazz in half, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) managed to jam the Allspark into Megatron’s chest, killing the Decepticon leader in the process. To make sure he never returned, Megatron’s lifeless body was dumped in the Mariana Trench — but the treacherous Decepticon would be revived by the Fallen in the very next film as something of a lackey.
Transformers: Dark Of The Moon
After escaping destruction at the end of the previous film, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Megatron would once again be usurped by a bigger, badder Decepticon in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. This time it came in the guise of Sentinel Prime, an ancient Autobot who had shockingly decided to switch sides.
In the film’s climactic battle over Chicago, Megatron would be unceremoniously executed by Optimus Prime before the Autobot leader turned his attention to the more fearsome Sentinel. It was a slight, borderline embarrassing death, and it would be the last time the live-action movies treated Megatron as a serious threat.
The Transformers: The Movie (1986)
This one is as much a rebirth as it is a death: After hijacking an Autobot shuttle and murdering everyone onboard, Megatron and his Decepticons open fire on Autobot City on Earth, in what would be a turning point in the war between the Autobots and Decepticons. Just when it seemed the Autobots were done for, Optimus Prime arrived from Cybertron and cut down dozens of Decepticons on his way to Megatron.
After an intense hand to hand battle, Optimus Prime had Megatron cornered, but the Decepticon leader took advantage of young Autobot Hot Rod’s misguided attempt to help Optimus to use him as a shield and mortally wound Optimus. Gloating over the damaged Optimus, Megatron gave him too much time, and Optimus used the last of his power to smash Megatron in the chest, knocking him hundreds of feet below.
The remaining Decepticons, led by Starscream, decide to jettison their injured brethren, including Megatron, into space on the return trip to Cybertron; however, that was not to be the end of the Decepticon leader. Megatron and his dying comrades encountered Unicron, who reformatted the Decepticons into new warriors with the mission of taking out the Autobot Matrix of Leadership. Megatron was reborn as Galvatron, a more lethal iteration of the Decepticon leader. Megatron and Galvatron shared memories, but were otherwise very different individuals, like a dark regeneration in Doctor Who. Galvatron’s beginning was Megatron’s end.
This Megatron was actually a successor named after the original, a Predacon criminal who existed hundreds of years after the Autobots defeated the Decepticons in the Great War. After the events of Beast Wars, Megatron escaped to Cybertron where he infected the entire population with a virus, storing their sparks for use in his Vehicon drone army. A small group of Maximals (the Autobots’ benevolent offspring), led by Optimus Primal, attempted to free the denizens of Cybertron and bring a prophesied technorganic harmony to Cybertron.
In the series finale of Beast Machines, Optimus Primal and Megatron would have one final battle, which ended with both of them falling into the core of the planet, triggering the planet’s technorganic transformation. Both Optimus and Megatron would die in the process, the final remnants of the war that always seemed to haunt Cybertron.
Transformers: Generation 1 (Marvel Comic)
The Transformers comics of the 1980s and 1990s were vastly different from the popular cartoon. In the pages of the comics, Megatron was more of a minor player, routinely having his leadership usurped by the likes of Shockwave and Scorponok. He had a handful of fakeout deaths that would take him off the board for dozens of issues at a time, but he met his final end — at least until Generation 2 — in the 79th issue of the series.
Megatron found himself involved in a plot by Starscream and Shockwave to commandeer the Autobot Ark as a final power play as the war wound down. The Autobot Ratchet ruined the Decepticons’ plans, sending the Ark crashing to Earth’s surface, killing himself and the three Decepticons in the process. It was a somewhat ignominious end for Megatron, but that’s how the Marvel comics always treated him.
Transformers: Lost Light
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the modern IDW comics not only made Megatron a main character, it made him a nuanced, sympathetic protagonist. When the war ended with the Autobots victorious, Megatron disappeared. He’d eventually return, but his plans to restart the war were wiped out when the Autobot Bumblebee sacrificed himself to save Megatron in a battle with Shockwave. This caused Megatron to reassess his methods, going all the way back to his roots as an idealistic young miner who simply wanted the freedom to choose what kind of life he led.
Megatron surrendered, and after a trial he was allowed to join Rodimus’ crew on the Lost Light, a ship full of C-list Autobots looking for the legendary Knights of Cybertron. When the ship’s mission was eventually completed, Megatron was given a choice: life imprisonment or execution. The book left Megatron’s choice as something of an open question, but anyone who had grown to love this honorable, mournful version of the character knew there was really no choice at all.
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