TFNation 2022 (First Draft of TF:TM explained)


Well-known member
Anybody go? I’ve seen some cool pics about Jim Sorenson’s panel but haven’t been able to find much information about what it actually was.

Those UK stamps they’re doing are really cool.


Continuity Nutcase
This past weekend, TFNation 2022 was held in the United Kingdom, whereat Transformers uber-fans Jim Sorenson and Chris McFeely held a very special presentation on the Saturday night of August 13, which was followed by an extra panel the next day on Sunday, August 14.

This presentation was, without a doubt, the event of the weekend. Back in June, Chris held a livestream on YouTube in which he momentarily hyped up this event as "one of the most important panels ever held at a Transformers convention." He later made this post on his YouTube community portal, which featured the following promotional art:


To cut to the chase, Jim and Chris held a live presentation of the long lost, original, very first draft script of Transformers: The Movie (1986) written by Ron Friedman!

For about 12 years, this original script was thought to have been lost to time and gone for good. But about two years ago in the summer of 2020, G1 cartoon writer Flint Dille was going through his storage and unearthed this long lost script. Jim Sorenson then flew out to Los Angeles and spent the next week scanning as much of the script as he could. And now, after all these years, Jim and Chris have finally made the contents of this lost piece of Transformers history known to the public!

At the presentation, they provided an in-depth summary of the script's events, accompanied by brand new artwork created especially for the occasion. While the artwork is unofficial, it provided visual illustrations of several events described by Friedman's script, each interpreted by the artists who drew them. Said artists included Ed Pirrie, Andy Turnbull, James Marsh, and Kris Carter.

While I, myself, was not present at the event, live updates were provided through both the TFWiki Discord server (most notably from uses Jacob McBaggins, Broadside, and Greeby) and the Twitter of James Bach. It is from these sources that I have compiled the following full report of the presentation.


By and large, the script is only vaguely resemblant of the final version of the movie. Some broad strokes are similar, but the biggest differences lie in the details. In fact, Flint Dille has previously gone on record calling this script "incoherent". As you will soon begin to see, "incoherent" is the kindest word one could use to describe it, as it honestly feels like Friedman just made up as he went along.

This script draft was first written in August 1984, before the first episode of the G1 cartoon had even aired. Literally right after the final episode of Season 1, "Heavy Metal War", had been written. Season 2 hadn't even been conceptualized yet. No date is given for when the story takes place. Not 2005, not the 1980s, nothing.

The story begins with the Battle of Autobot City. Except, it's not Autobot City, but just a steel mill. The Constructicons steal some steel ore from carts around the plant to build siege towers to attack the place. The Autobots who defend the steel mill are (from left to right):
  • Hot Rod – Depicted here using the earliest known design by Floro Dery.
  • Tanker – Grizzled old Autobot who's missing an eye, transforms into a Sherman tank.
  • Magnus – Not "Ultra" Magnus. Drawn here in Floro Dery's early design that was later used for Orion Pax before the Diaclone Powered Convoy toy was decided to represent him.
  • Arcee – Field medic, shown here in an early Floro Dery design.
  • Wheeljack – Very sexist and misogynistic toward Arcee throughout the entire script, which is played for "comedy".

As the Decepticons continue their attack on the steel mill, three of them combine into a cannon that begins to shoot "fire snow" at the Autobots. What is fire snow? Napalm. Yes, the Decepticons attack the Autobots... with napalm.

Tanker gets his arm burnt off and, in the heat of the moment, acts rather sexist toward Arcee. Magnus grabs an industrial bucket and, in a very cartoony moment, simply catches the balls of fire snow napalm in the bucket and tosses it back at the Decepticons. He saves Hot Rod in the process. The Decepticons dive for cover but get blown up by their own napalm tossed back at them, and are clobbered by the steel bucket.

Reinforcements for the Autobots arrive aboard an old locomotive train carrying rocket fuel in flatbed cars.




The train is manned by human allies General Blaze and Colonel Rusty Steel, the latter of whom is described by the script as an "Indiana Jones" type. Hasbro's feedback on the character basically says that his personality would later be applied to Springer.

General Blaze

Colonel Rusty Steele

The train carrying the rocket fuel is meant to distract the Decepticons from their attack on the steel mill, making them think the train is just a simple fuel delivery and an easy target, from which the Autobots can ambush Megatron.

Starscream attacks the train and ties it in a pretzel knot. The train then begins to transform from an old locomotive into a bullet train, a process called "Transformation Alpha". Starscream is then run over. (It is at this point that Jim pointed out that Starscream will have a lot to do in this story, only to clarify that he gets his butt kicked a lot.) The train is now revealed to be an Autobot Triple Changer named Rails, who commences "Transformation Beta" into his robot mode... A GIANT SNAKE ROBOT MODE!!





Hot Rod soon runs out of ammo... in a laser gun. A Decepticon charges at him with a laser chainsaw, but Tanker steps in and trips up the Decepticon, who then falls on his own laser chainsaw and is bisected in half by it.

Then the Optimus and Megatron fight happens... basically the same as it does in the final movie, verbatim even. As the Decepticons retreat from the battle following Megatron's defeat (no Astrotrain here, they all just fly out into space on their own power), Ratchet, Wheeljack, and Arcee perform triage on Prime and determine that the damage is fatal. Rusty Steele objects, stating that they can't make that call in the field. Half the Autobots go with Ratchet to take the dying Optimus back to the Autobots' volcano base, while the other half go with Wheeljack to build ships to chase after Megatron. Gears is here as well, and is an insensitive jerk about the whole thing.

Basically, Friedman was mandated to kill off Optimus, but no other 1984 Autobots die either. The idea behind all this was to make the movie start out like a typical G1 cartoon episode until it wasn't. Hot Rod is very broken up over Optimus's current state ("I don't know how I'll stand it if Prime dies because of me"), but Tanker basically just tells him to suck it up and not be such a wimp. Jerk.

Meanwhile, the Decepticons make it back to Cybertron by just flying all the way there. In the final version of the movie, the place at which Starscream's coronation is held is referred to by its script as the Decepticon Hall of Heroes. In this script, the Hall of Heroes is basically described as a sci-fi version of Adolf Hitler's Nuremburg Rally Hall, in the Third Reich. According to Jim and Chris, the script is practically dripping with full-on Nazi references all over the place.

Megatron is there with them and dies unceremoniously while everyone argues over who gets to be the new leader. A fight soon breaks out. As Starscream and Skywarp fight, they inadvertently blow up the urn that was meant to house Megatron's "life spark". Without it, Megatron's ghost flies out of his body. As he pathetically begs and pleads for the other Decepticons to preserve his essence, they take no notice and continue their fight. Megatron's purple "life spark" ghost helplessly flies off into space.


Back on Earth, the entire volcano that houses the Autobots' base now opens up like Tracy Island from Thunderbirds. It's now a whole base for both Autobots and humans. Two such humans are Dr. Ellen Prentiss and her young son Daniel. Yep, that Daniel. In this script, he is not Spike's son. In fact, Spike isn't even in this story at all. Here, Daniel looks up to and idolizes Colonel Rusty, who in turn calls the boy "Dan-o".


Springer is also one the Autobots there, whom the script describes as "a huge, Arnold Schwarzenegger type". He is also described by the script as turning into something like either a jet-powered missile launcher, or a jet-powered steam roller. He also barely does anything in the whole story.

Out in space, Megatron's ghost is summoned to the planet Unicron. In this version, Unicron is the name of the planet and its leader is a mysterious intelligence simply known as "the Entity". Planet Unicron has tree trunks that resemble a big hand, and trees that are like hair. (Attendee reaction to this described it as "horrid".) The Entity agrees to recreate Megatron into Galvatron in exchange for Megatron/Galvatron going back to Cybertron, bringing all of its Decepticon inhabitants under the Entity's will, and then taking all of the Decepticons to Earth for a more important plan.

Galvatron is apparently described in the script as both looking like a bigger Megatron covered in metal scales, and looking like he's wearing a black military uniform. For the accompanying fanmade artwork, however, he is instead depicted in his early Floro Dery design with toy-accurate colors. He also receives a unique insignia on his chest (looks like the artists chose to base their interpretation of it on the Beast Wars Neo Blentron insignia).


And now comes Optimus's death scene. In this version, instead of the Matrix of Leadership, a little green baby version of Optimus in energy form emerges from his chest. It is referred to as Optimus's "Matrix", long before the Creation Matrix was a thing in the Marvel Comics. It's basically Optimus's "life spark", like what came out of Megatron earlier when he died. The Baby Optimus goes into Magnus's body, making him "Ultra" Magnus.


On Cybertron, Galvatron arrives and Starscream recognizes him as Megatron. Starscream gets to live in this version and all of the Decepticons get new upgraded forms by the power of Planet Unicron. For the Seekers, the artists chose to base their interpretation of these upgraded forms off of Starscream's coronation gear from the final movie. In the script, the idea was to just make them bigger.



Cybertron is then destroyed in a beam of light and NOBODY cares. All except for Galvatron for about 30 seconds. The Decepticons then head for Earth. End of Act 1.


To be continued below (the post was too long)
Last edited:


Continuity Nutcase
Act 2 begins with the Autobots building giant metal shields to protect Earth's cities so that they can take their new fleet of ships Wheeljack is building and go after the Decepticons without worry. The shields are said to be made out of metals with ridiculous names like "titano-rubidium steel" and "durabyl-metal". The script apparently takes two or three whole pages to describe the shields.

Colonel Rusty Steele seems to be taking point in this operation, while a bunch of "comedy" bits are going on around him. Namely, Wheeljack has a running "gag" where Arcee will do something really competent behind his back while he is oblivious to this and makes several sexist remarks about "she-bots". And he does this all throughout the script.

When the Decepticons arrive, Teletraan I cannot even compute their newly-acquired power. The Entity fires a green energy blast from space that strikes Galvatron, goes through him into the other Decepticons, and powers them all up enough for them to blast through all the shields the Autobots just built, destroying them in an instant despite multiple script pages setting up the shields.


Oh, and Prowl is here and doesn't die. And Starscream gets beaten up a second time, suffering endless slapstick. Even so, the Autobot base is overrun and they have to retreat.

A time-skip occurs. The Decepticons have a "Sweep Party" of black "Gestapo-like" bots searching for the Autobots, who have since set up a guerilla camp. This is from where the idea of the Sweeps originated.


The Decepticons have apparently taken over and are building an "energy drain cage" around the Earth, in order to siphon its energy and send it all to Planet Unicron.


Daniel gets the camp found by the Sweep Gestapo by accidently setting off Teletraan I, who mistakes him for an intruder.

Now engaged in a guerilla war, Tanker and Hot Rod go off to recruit a crack squad of the best of the best to help everyone get to the one remaining Autobot ship, so they can go find the source of the Decepticons' new powers.

First is Chemico, "the walking laboratory". He literally just pops up to make a smokescreen and never appears again.


Magnus also transforms... into either a truck or a combine harvester. The idea behind what his altmode should be was "What's the coolest vehicle to run someone over with?"

The Autobots knock away the Decepticons with baseball bats and escape via a river raft. Yes, really.

Springer is also here. As is Starscream. You know what that means? It's clobbering time, Screamer! Springer uses his jumping power, which Jim compares to bouncing like Tigger. Springer grabs Starscream and a generic Decepticon and bonks their heads together, which also results in the two 'Cons impaling each other with their limbs. Starscream is furious and threatens to boil the Autobots in their own pee (yes, really!), and demands "UNKNOT MEEEEE!!" (Chris McFeely did his best and most throat-hurting Chris Latta impression for this line).

Other Autobot recruits include Blurr (who in this version talks reeeeeeeaallly slow, like Jimmy Stewart), Grimlock, Swoop, Sludge (but no other Dinobots) and Mentlar (a "Carl Sagan" type whose role as the "smart guy" is later taken by Perceptor).


Don't confuse his name with "Metlar", who is one of the Inhumanoids. He's "Mentlar", because of his great "mental" capacity. He turns into a radar truck.


Mentlar presses a button that activates a giant energy grid that he uses like a big flyswatter to disable the Insecticons and strip them of their Unicron upgrades, allowing the Dinobots to defeat them. Afterward, this grid is never used or brought up again.

The Autobots reach the last ship they still have, which is hidden inside an ice cave.


As Rusty, Daniel, and Ellen board the ship, Rusty gives Daniel his lucky silver dollar as a promise that they'll get through this. As the ship takes off, Hot Rod, Tanker, and the Dinobots are still fighting on the ground and just fly up alongside the ship, flying through space outside the vessel. Bumblebee shows up here just to get blasted off-screen by a cluster bomb. Wheeljack and Arcee remain on Earth to keep fighting the Decepticons and Wheeljack has more misogynist moments with Arcee.

Galvatron is mentally tortured by the Entity, who calls him an imbecile and tells him to destroy the fleeing Autobot ship. He gives Galvatron a ship of his own, which resembles an aircraft carrier (this was the prototype version of Galvatron's ship from the final movie). Rusty and Daniel man the Autobot ship's guns like Han and Luke in Star Wars: A New Hope. And then a random space hurricane interrupts the battle, destroying Galvatron's ship and hurling Hot Rod, Tanker, and the Dinobots off into space. Galvatron emerges from the wreckage of his ship, sees no Autobots, and thinks he's won. End of Act 2.



To be concluded below (the final part)
Last edited:


Continuity Nutcase
Act 3 begins with the Autobots' ship crash-landing on Planet Unicron's moon, drawn there by a tractor beam brainwave.



Back on Earth, Arcee twirls Starscream around like a wrestler and tosses him at a freeway overpass, collapsing it on top of other Decepticons. Despite this, Wheeljack is still sexist to her. This is also Starscream's last scene.

Hot Rod, Tanker, and the Dinobots end up on a planet that would later become Quintessa in the final movie. Sharkticons proceed to eat Swoop, but only nibble on him rather than consume him entirely.


The script keeps cutting back and forth between the moon with Magnus's team, the planet with Hot Rod's team, and Earth with Wheeljack and Arcee, the latter of whom ends up kissing Wheeljack on the cheek at one point.

Galvatron is told by the Entity to go into space and kill the Autobots stranded on the moon. His army flies off from Earth in space cruisers they just suddenly have now. As they approach Unicron's moon, the Autobots there trick the Decepticons with cardboard cutouts as decoys.

Hot Rod, Tanker, and the Dinobots witness the arena-style execution of a rock-based alien named Granix. Yep, before he was Kranix, he was Granix, his name based on "granite". And the Sharkticon pit was a battle arena rather than a shark tank.



Here, the Sharkticons have sensors that direct them to eat whatever they bump into, likely explaining what those antennae they have are supposed to be.

When Hot Rod's group stands trial, they are found "Innocent of trespassing but guilty of insolence". Hot Rod blinds the Sharkticons, but the Quintesson uses its mental powers to just make more Sharkticons from scrap. Hot Rod subdues the Quint and orders it to use its mind powers to find the other Autobots. It ends up finding Planet Unicron.


On Unicron's moon, the Decepticons have found the Autobots' three human allies, who all wear exo-suits implied to work by telekinesis. Rumble forces Daniel to watch Dirge try to crush Ellen to death, but Daniel saves his mother by crushing Dirge's torso inward and tossing him onto Rumble.

Then the Junkions show up, the leader of which is literally described by the script as wearing a Nazi helmet. The artists chose instead to draw him wearing a WWI German helmet because there's just so much Nazi stuff in this script!!!


Elsewhere on Unicron's moon, Galvatron just straight up murders Magnus, Mentlar, and Blurr. Like, he just kills them. Dead. No repairs, no rebuilding them. Just dead. And Hasbro was furious.


Galvatron steals the glowing baby Optimus from Magnus and puts it in a jar around his neck.


What comes next are a couple of big reveals: The Junkions built Unicron! It was originally built to be a protector, but something went wrong. The Junkions then reveal a flaw in Unicron that serves as its weakness. And that weakness is... MISSING from the script! Yep, unfortunately, the script that Flint Dille found in storage was missing three whole pages that detail this very important part of the story. One of these pages also presumably sees Hot Rod, Tanker, and the Dinobots reuniting with the others on the moon, with Tanker freeing the Autobots from the Junkions with the Universal Greeting.

As Planet Unicron absorbs the siphoned energy from Earth, the Entity is powered up enough to transform the planet into a humanoid robot form. It heads towards Earth, munching other planets along the way. And at this point, Wheeljack FINALLY apologizes to Arcee for being such a sexist misogynist.


A Junkion named Scrapo befriends the Dinobots, whose role was presumably later taken by Wheelie in the final movie.

In a surprise twist that shocks absolutely no one, the Entity and Unicron are revealed to be one and the same. In order to defeat him, the Autobots must fight their way into Unicron's core. Once there, Daniel is the only one small enough to fit into the area they need to get into to destroy Unicron. But then, they suddenly remember that they also need the Baby Optimus that Galvatron still has. So they go all the way back out to go get it. Hot Rod and Rusty corner Galvatron, who tries to fuse the Baby Optimus with himself into nothingness. But he is defeated by Dr. Ellen.


The Autobots and humans go all the way back into Unicron's core, where Daniel takes the Baby Optimus and puts it into the core, blowing up Unicron. Galvatron gets blasted off on one of Unicron's severed fingers.


In the aftermath, Earth just gets all better after being shriveled up from its massive energy drain. A parade is held and Hot Rod holds Daniel up on his shoulders. The End.


The day after this presentation was given, Chris and Jim held a follow-up panel with more information and artwork.

It is speculated that Rails was replaced with the Anibots (Autobot versions of the Predacons before those toys were decided to be Decepticons) in later script drafts, and then ultimately replaced by just the Dinobots defending Autobot City in the final movie. (The concept of Rails as a large, multi-changing transport Autobot with a bestial robot mode may have possibly even evolved into Sky Lynx.)

"Life Spark" came from a memo note from Sunbow to refer to the leadership aspect of "the Matrix", which had yet to be a thing at the time. "'Til all Matrixes are One" evolved into "'Til all Life Sparks are one", which after a game of telephone became just "'Til all are One".

As everyone could probably tell by now, the concept of Tanker would eventually evolve into Kup. Jim reasoned that Tanker changed into Kup because Hasbro, at the time, was looking at the next generation of Autobots and Decepticons being cars and jets, not tanks.


At some point in the script, Grimlock sees Arcee and thinks she's so cool that he wants there to be female Dinobots.

A few more pieces of the fanmade artwork:


Quintesson (the name "Quintesson" originally came from a restaurant)

This Quintesson is based on Floro Dery's early Quintesson design.

Sweep Gestapo-bot

Junkion (who's meant to look like something out of the Road Warrior)


The suspected intended runtime for this script is two hours.

Unicron's backstory as having originally been created as a protector is removed from later script iterations, and is ultimately made as vague and undisclosed as it is in the final movie.

Galvatron's original altmode in this script is basically a cannon covered in guns all over.

Hot Rod has no Autobot symbol in these art pieces because the design notes in the script simply don't mention it. The second design iteration does put it on, though.

Now that we know where the Sweeps came from, what about Cyclonus's armada from the later script drafts? They would have been just a bunch of Cyclonus duplicates.

Colonel Rusty Steele was never Daniel's father. Daniel just had hero worship for him.

And most importantly of all, the script itself WILL eventually be uploaded online for all eyes to see. We don't know when, but it is definitely planned to be released at some point later on.

Last edited:


Well-known member
I know the finished film was hardly a cinematic masterpiece but compared to *that*


Hats off to all the hard work everybody put in to allow us a (horrifying!!) look back at what might have been.

The Phazer

Well-known member
It was pretty neat of the team to create new artwork to illustrate the scenes using the early design sketches. Neat.

Does this script pre-date or post date the Secret of Cybertron script (the one with Optimus transforming Cybertron into a giant robot)? Before the cartoon airs puts it very early, but enough survives from this script into the actual film that I'd be surprised if this wasn't later.


Active member
It was pretty neat of the team to create new artwork to illustrate the scenes using the early design sketches. Neat.

Does this script pre-date or post date the Secret of Cybertron script (the one with Optimus transforming Cybertron into a giant robot)? Before the cartoon airs puts it very early, but enough survives from this script into the actual film that I'd be surprised if this wasn't later.
This was before The Secret Of Cybertron, hence why Flint had the copy for all these years.

This was the outline from the Friedman auctions in 2010

And here is the copy of the full script from those auctions (not the copy used for this presentation).



Active member
Roundup of existing items that gain new context thanks to these revelations.

First, Floro Dery's sketch for The Entity:


Note the text "Hole to the core of The Entity.". That's referring to the porthole that becomes visible on The Entity's neck after transforming, which Hot Rod and co. use to get in.

Next, we are told Springer is an "Arnold Schwarzenegger of an Autobot":


Whereas in the second script, he is more in the "Harrison Ford in his prime" vein:


Active member
And of course, there's the outline for the second script. Which is clearly drawn up by the Sunbow office and handed to Friedman. To metaphorically grab this first script by the scruff of the neck and make it get with the program. Pay particular attention to Friedman's handwritten notes scrawled throughout the document>




As obviously shoddy as this script is, the concept of Unicron having been built by Junkions is kinda amazing. Like, they just stuck garbage together until they had a demonic abomination of a robot planet? That's even whackier than the little monkey Primacron.

At some point in the script, Grimlock sees Arcee and thinks she's so cool that he want there to be female Dinobots.
And while I'm glad Wheeljack being a sexist piece of shit has been forever scrubbed from his character before it could happen, Grimlock is completely right.


Continuity Nutcase
Looking over my report, I just now realized there was one image I meant to post during the Act 3 portion but forgot to (it's there now, though): The Entity transforming Planet Unicron:


Tuxedo Prime

Well-known member
I really wish you hadn't done that.
If it's a spoiler issue, I don't think that we have anything to worry about, as the Animated Movie is pretty well-past-release date at this point.

If it's a case of my wiki-fu being rusty, I'm sure subsequent passes can spruce things up. Heck, I deliberately left the page imageless so that someone (hint, hint) with a higher-quality character model could put that up.

If it's due to the panel being a new thing, I would remind folks that the very night George Lucas gave a full name to Admiral Motti on Conan O'Brien's talk show, the Wookieepedia page was being updated and retitled accordingly. I was surprised that Mentlar and Rails didn't already have pages, to be honest....

If it's anything else -- well, I'm sure someone will delete the page and you can make a better one in your own good time. That's how things work, right?


Continuity Nutcase
No, it's because my report doesn't convey the full story. Chris and Jim had to heavily condense several pages worth of script to fit their summary into the allotted time of the presentation. There is so much more to Mentlar's story that they didn't get to cover that going off of my report presents an incomplete picture.

Tuxedo Prime

Well-known member
Well, given that, it could have been marked stub-class until Chris or Jim could fill in the needed depth.

Instead, the fourth option happened, so I guess we'll let Chris and/or Jim write the entry from scratch when the time is right, then.

So it goes.🤷‍♂️


Yeah, I don't have anything to do with the wiki, but waiting until all the informations are given before making pages for the 'new' characters sounds better.

It'll make it easier for when Hasbro/Takara decide to randomly sell redecos with their names in a few years.

Top Bottom