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Transformers movies in order: Chronological and release

May 13, 2023

Get up to speed on all the Transformers movies released so far, both in chronological and release order, with our comprehensive guide.

Hasbro and Paramount are interested in keeping the Autobot-Decepticon war going on the big screen. This summer, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts arrives with a fresh new adventure inspired by the famous Beast Wars storyline, which focuses on the Maximals, the Predacons, and the Terrorcons.

The five-movie live-action saga directed by Michael Bay has been embraced by pop culture in spite of criticisms, and definitely succeeded in bringing a new generation of fans into Hasbro's highly profitable toys, animation, and comics franchise. The only previous big-screen Transformers release was the 1986 animated G1 movie, so there was a massive gap for the IP in cinemas between the late 1980s and 2007.

In 2018, Bumblebee effectively rebooted the movie continuity to allow for cartoonier Transformer designs and a more light-hearted and retro sensibility. While it was a critical success, the prequel-reboot struggled to dominate the box office. But that didn't change Hasbro and Paramount's plans for a new Transformers saga.

Before jumping into our list of the entire Transformers movie franchise in chronological and release order – and accounting for three different timelines – be sure to check out our review of the LEGO Icons Optimus Prime set if you’re also a dedicated toy collector.

We also have the Transformers movies ranked, worst to best, plus a handy guide to everything we know about Transformers: Rise of the Beasts if you’re planning a trip to the nearest cinema this summer.

We've tried to avoid spoilers in this list beyond the basic premise of each movie and some curiosities and references, but if you want to go in as blind as possible, stick to the bullet list below.

The first-ever Transformers movie was a culmination of the G1 cartoon we all know and love, and it's also remembered for featuring electronic music composed by Vince DiCola and songs from Stan Bush and "Weird Al" Yankovic. It was also a traumatic experience for an entire generation of children due to the deaths of many established characters.

The story is set in 2005, roughly 20 years after the original T.V. series’ second season. After a Decepticon attack on the Autobot City, Optimus Prime wins a deadly duel with Megatron, but ultimately sustains fatal injuries and passes away. Following this, the Decepticons retreat and the Autobots are hunted across the galaxy by Unicron, the planet-sized Transformer who intends to consume Cybertron and also transfigures Megatron into the enslaved Galvatron.

Originally envisioned as a prequel to Michael Bay's Transformers saga, Bumblebee was later transformed into the first chapter of a new continuity that wanted to stick closer to the charming source material of the early Transformers cartoons and roll out a new storyline.

The narration begins in 1987, with the Autobots on the verge of losing their war against the Decepticons and fleeing their home planet of Cybertron. The Autobot scout B-127 is sent to Earth ahead of the main group of Autobot refugees to set up a base of operations, but he's followed by the Decepticons Shatter and Dropkick. On Earth, he meets human teenager Charlene "Charlie" Watson (Hailee Steinfeld), who befriends and names him "Bumblebee."

The latest Transformers movie is a direct follow-up of 2018's Bumblebee (as teased by its post-credits scene). While some talk from producers claimed these movies still work as prequels to Michael Bay's flicks, almost everything in them directly contradicts the history presented in the previous saga. This is a new continuity, especially if the long-rumoured crossover with G.I. Joe happens eventually.

So, the year is 1994 and Noah (Anthony Ramos), an electronics expert, and Elena (Dominique Fishback), an artifact researcher, find themselves in the middle of the seemingly eternal Autobot-Decepticon war. With the legendary Maximals, Predacons, and Terrorcons also joining the conflict, this heralds the arrival of Unicron, the Planet Eater, to Earth.

The first of Michael Bay's Transformers movies wasn't a home run with critics, but it was generally well-received by audiences worldwide and kickstarted a long-running movie series that can't be ignored. While the movie's basic premise borrowed the essentials and some story beats from earlier iterations of the famous characters, it largely charted its own path and added a layer of "realism" and grit to the property.

Transformers’ story starts in 2007, when teenager Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is looking for his first car and finds the brave Autobot scout Bumblebee, who was dormant and disguised as a 1976 Chevrolet Camaro. Meanwhile, the nefarious Decepticons launch an attack on U.S. bases and start infiltrating the military network while searching for clues on the location of both the mighty AllSpark and their lost leader, Megatron, who crash-landed on Earth centuries ago.

The second instalment's storyline actually starts in 17,000 B.C. as the Primes (the original Autobots) stop one of their own, declared "the Fallen," from building a sun harvester on Earth that would’ve doomed the Sol system. This becomes crucial to the plot later.

Fast-forward to 2009, two years after the decisive battle on Mission City, the Autobots and humans have formed NEST (Non-biological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty) and are hunting down the remaining Decepticons on Earth. After stealing the last-known piece of the AllSpark, the Decepticons resurrect Megatron, who plans to take revenge on Optimus Prime. Megatron also wants to extract information from Sam Witwicky – affected by the AllSpark incident at the end of the first movie – that could lead them to a new Energon source.

Dark of the Moon marked the end of the original Transformers trilogy from Michael Bay, who at the time of production was unsure of whether he’d remain attached to the profitable movie franchise. While the next two movies would happen within the same timeline and continue plot threads from the first three, they also wouldn't keep Sam Witwicky and many recurring characters around. A huge change that already happened in this third entry was the absence of Megan Fox due to behind-the-scenes drama with Bay.

Once again, the story takes place in the same year it released (2011 this time around). However, the 1969 moon landing is of the utmost importance and defines the vertebral column of the plot. In 1961, the Ark, a Cybertronian spacecraft carrying an invention capable of ending the war between Autobots and Decepticons, crash-landed on the dark side of the Moon and was detected by NASA. When, in the modern day, the Autobots come across this information, a recovery mission is launched and the Decepticons regroup to put that same invention to bad use.

After a slightly longer three-year wait, the fourth live-action Transformers movie introduced Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) as the new human lead of the franchise. Although, much like the three previous movies, a lot of importance was given to his family. Still, his "struggling single father" attitude and inventor background gave the story a slightly different human angle.

There's a five-year jump in this one, which takes us to 2016 unless we’ve missed something. The U.S. and the world as a whole have undergone a number of changes after the terrible Battle of Chicago. Most notably, Transformers (regardless of their faction) are seen as hostile by most governments and are being hunted down and used to create highly advanced drones. To make matters worse, a Cybertronian assassin called Lockdown is sent by the Creators (as in the ones who created the Transformers) to find Optimus Prime and set a wicked plan in motion.

The Last Knight wasn't exactly a massive commercial failure, but Paramount and Hasbro did lose a great deal of money on this. And thus, the Michael Bay-captained Transformers continuity was toast after 2017. While diehard fans and casual audiences would claim it was a good run, the entire thing was shut down just as the story was getting to the famous Unicron. That might explain why Paramount and Hasbro are so eager to introduce the gigantic villain as soon as possible in the new timeline.

Going totally off the rails and even contradicting and retconning events from its own continuity, the fifth live-action Transformers puts a lot of weight on Earth's past and especially on the legend of King Arthur, his knights, and Merlin.

The modern-day story supposedly happens only one year after Age of Extinction, which makes it line up again with the year of release. The paramilitary Transformers Reaction Force continues to go after all Transformers, even if that means working with captured Decepticons. However, the looming threat of the Creators, a mysterious talisman, and the disappearance of Optimus Prime in deep space lead to a new race against time to save Earth from destruction.

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Fran Ruiz is our resident Star Wars guy. His hunger for movies and TV series is only matched by his love for video games. He got a BA of English Studies, focusing on English Literature, from the University of Malaga, in Spain, as well as a Master's Degree in English Studies, Multilingual and Intercultural Communication. On top of writing features and other longform articles for since 2021, he is a frequent collaborator of VG247 and other gaming sites. He also serves as associate editor over at Star Wars News Net and its sister site, Movie News Net.

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We've tried to avoid spoilers The Transformers: The Movie (1986) Bumblebee (2018) Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023) Transformers (2007) Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) Release date: Cast: Release date: Cast: Release date: Cast: Release date: Cast: Release date: Cast: Release date: Cast: Release date: Cast: Release date: Cast: The Transformers: The Movie (1986) Transformers (2007) Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) Bumblebee (2018) Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023)