As leader of the Autobots, a faction that defines itself with the mantra that ‘freedom is the right of all sentient beings’, one would assume that Optimus Prime would have to be a particularly righteous in both his moral philosophy and his character. This is certainly true across all the incarnations of the iconic Autobot leader throughout the Transformers multiverse, even in universes in which Optimus is not the leader of the Autobots, such as in Transformers: Animated. The character is defined by his code of ethics and strict adherence to the moral philosophy that freedom is of paramount importance and that all living things should be protected. This also goes for the version of Optimus Prime seen in the Michael Bay movies, as even in a franchise that doesn’t always get it right when it comes to character development, the fundamentals of the character of Optimus Prime are there. However, this version of the character also has a tendency to get violent – really violent. So despite believing that freedom is the right of all sentient beings, he is perfectly happy to rip the head off a lumbering Decepticon or tear the spine out of a weaker foe if the need arises. So, in honour of this Optimus Prime’s apparent double-standards when it comes to preaching to his Autobots compared to slaughtering Decepticons, here are the Top 5 of Optimus Prime’s Most Brutal Kills. Bear in mind that the criteria for this list isn’t just how brutal the kill itself is – whether the brutality is justified will also play a part. So, to begin:
#5 – Bonecrusher
The first entry on the list also happens to be the Autobot leader’s first on-screen kill in the movie franchise – the legendary decapitation of Bonecrusher following the highway brawl near the end of the first film. Bonecrusher transforms and uses his rollerskating wheel feet to rampage down the road, destroying cars and even a bus along the way. Clearly angered by the senseless loss of life, Optimus also transforms and, following a wrestling match spanning multiple levels of elevated highway and a punch in the face from Optimus that pops one of his eyes out of its socket, Bonecrusher is finally put down by Optimus’ blade. In an epic finishing move that let fans know immediately that this incarnation of Prime meant business, he stabs his blade into Bonecrusher’s neck, severing his spine, and then rips the Decepticon’s head clean off, tossing it to the floor. Though it is certainly a brutal kill, Bonecrusher’s death ranks fairly low on this list, as many will agree that the beserking Decepticon deserved it – the loss of life from his highway rampage makes up for almost half of the film’s human death count.
#4 – Demolisher
Whilst Optimus was seemingly justified in killing Bonecrusher, some of the Autobot leader’s cinematic executions are more controversial. A good example of this is the death of Demolisher during the opening sequence of Revenge of the Fallen. Although the context is vague because we know so little about the history of the character, it appeared to many fans that Demolisher was essentially a Decepticon minding his own business – hiding in his alt-form in Shanghai, watching over smaller Decepticon Sideways and generally doing nothing in particular. That is, until the Autobots and their N.E.S.T. allies came along, drew him out of his hiding place, and then executed him and his weaker Audi-R8 charge. What makes this kill particularly insensitive is the fact that, after jumping on his head and causing serious damage to his wheels, Optimus essentially executes a critically injured and helpless opponent, in a similar manner to how Ratchet meets his fate at Lockdown’s hands in the opening of Age of Extinction. However, it has to be said that Demolisher was clearly as bloodthirsty as any Decepticon, since he went out of his way to cause as much destruction as possible during his attempted escape, even flinging helpless cars hundreds of feet into the air seemingly for the fun of it. Prime gets away with this one, but it does raise some interesting questions.
#3 – Megatron
It might seem odd to include Megatron on this list, as many would assume that killing the Decepticon leader would be justified regardless of how brutal that actual execution itself happened to be. The conclusion to Dark of the Moon presents a very dubious moral decision on Optimus’ part, however, as after the destruction of Cybertron, Megatron offers a truce to the Autobot leader in exchange for deposing Sentinel and taking his rightful place as leader of the Decepticons, all after intervening in the nick of time to save Optimus’ life by attacking Sentinel Prime at the opportune moment. Optimus’ response to this heroic act and the proposed truce? Well, as any level-headed and forward-thinking leader would, Optimus takes the opportunity to bury his axe in Megatron’s face and tear out the Decepticon leader’s spine. This act genuinely took many fans by surprise, as one would think that after three films of constant warfare, Optimus would be sick of the senseless slaughter by now. But no, he seems to take great pleasure in brutally murdering his former brother, and he then goes on to make scrapmetal out of a defenceless Sentinel for good measure. Speaking of which…
#2 – Sentinel Prime
After ripping off Optimus’ arm and attempting to murder him, some might say that Optimus’ execution of Sentinel at the conclusion of Dark of the Moon was justified. But considering Sentinel and Optimus’ long history, particularly in light of Sentinel’s genuine plea to Optimus before the end that the only reason why he betrayed the Autobot leader was to ensure the survival of their species, it would probably have made more sense for Optimus to spare Sentinel’s life, particularly considering what came next. If Sentinel were alive, he could have stood trial for his crimes against humanity and perhaps even taken the majority of the blame for the devastation of Chicago, rather than the general public simply turning their anger on all Transformers, especially given the fact that Optimus had ripped the spines out of every Decepticon commander who could have taken the fall instead. What is also particularly brutal about Sentinel’s death is the manner in which it is done – Sentinel’s pleas for mercy fall on deaf ears as Optimus brutally executes him using Megatron’s weapon, and despite firing at Sentinel’s exposed braincase with a fusion shotgun at point-blank range, Optimus fires a second time, just for good measure. Well, at least Ironhide was at last avenged.
Honourable Mention – The Fallen
Whilst the Fallen can basically be blamed for the events of the entire Autobot-Decepticon war, and therefore all the deaths that have ever taken place in the Transformers series (even after his demise), the Fallen’s death at the end of Revenge of the Fallen is included here as an honourable mention simply because of how truly brutal this kill is. After making mincemeat of Megatron and relieving the Fallen of his staff, Optimus stabs him in the neck and, uttering the infamous quote “Give Me Your Face”, Prime quite literally rips off his face for no apparent reason other than that it looks cool. The horrified Fallen makes a desperate attempt to flee, but this proves to be a short-lived endeavour, as Optimus takes the opportunity to punch through the Fallen’s back, rip out his spark core, and crush it before his very eyes. A justified kill perhaps, but certainly a gruesome way to die regardless.
#1 – Grindor
Taking the top spot is another of Optimus’ kills from Revenge of the Fallen – Grindor. This Blackout-lookalike is the unfortunate third Decepticon in the iconic three-versus-one battle in the forest, and he is grossly outmatched compared to Prime, even with Megatron and Starscream around. Grindor tries his best in the battle – he comes when Megatron calls, and plays his part in the coordinated attack on Optimus to draw out Sam, but he never really stood a chance. When Optimus goes ballistic on the trio, drawing out both blades, proclaiming his intention to ‘take them all on’ and apparently set on murdering them all, Grindor loses an arm before having a significant portion of his chest cut out, which understandably takes him out of the battle for a while to recover – and mere moments after extracting a stray energon blade from his leg, poor Grindor is taken by surprise as Optimus leaps onto the giant Decepticon’s back, stabbing him in the eye with a hook blade in the process, before stabbing his neck with the other hook blade and tearing the guy’s face apart. Judging by the blood-curdling metallic scream that Grindor lets out as this is happening, the process was far from painless.
So, having ranked Optimus’ most brutal kills in the Movies, have your views on the supposedly noble Autobot Commander changed? Do you think Prime’s actions were justified, or do you think Michael Bay’s obsession with hyper-violence is at total odds with the character? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, as well as your favourite kill from the Transformers movie series, and remember to leave a like if you want to see more Transformers content.