There’s a conspiracy that exists in Transformers: The Movie (1986), which I never see anybody talking about. Buckle in, this one requires some back story.
In the very first episode, More Than Meets the Eye, part 1, the evil Decepticon Starscream expresses his desire for more power. According to his toy’s profile, he is the Decepticon Air Commander — And since the Decepticon army is mostly made of jets, that puts him right near the top of the chain of command. But being NEAR the top isn’t enough for Starscream. He wants the title of LEADER of the Decepticons, a title held by the mighty Megatron. Throughout the first two seasons of the show, Starscream would often overstep his bounds and make bids for Megatron’s position.
In the season 2 episode The God Gambit, Starscream leads Decepticons Thrust and Astrotrain to Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. There, the inhabitants start worshipping Astrotrain as their new god, where he forces them into slavery and to give over all of their resources. Astrotrain is a “triple-changer,” a Transformer that has, in addition to their robot mode, two alternate modes as well. He can turn into a space shuttle and a train, hence, “Astrotrain.” Eventually, the heroic Autobots arrive and stop the Decepticons. But that taste for power must have appealed to Astrotrain.
Later in season 2, in the episode Triple Takeover, Starscream, Astrotrain and the other triple-changer Blitzwing (who turns into both a tank and a fighter jet) decide that THEY want to lead the Decepticons. Very quickly, the triple changers betray Starscream, and set in motion some… really dumb plans to take over as dual monarchy. Astrotrain recruits some regular trains, and Blitzwing recruits a football coach to be his second-in-command. Their plans are ridiculous and fall apart pretty quickly, especially after Starscream and Megatron team up to take them down.
Between seasons 2 and 3 of the cartoon came Transformers: The Movie. TFTM takes place in 2005, twenty years after the events of season 2. In the first 30 minutes of the movie, Megatron leads the Decepticons to Earth, in an attempt to destroy the recently-established Autobot City. During the battle, Megatron goes hand-to-hand against the Autobots’ leader, Optimus Prime, and both are mortally wounded.
Realizing his side’s inevitable defeat, Starscream calls for the Decepticons to retreat, loads everybody up into Astrotrain’s shuttle mode (don’t worry about how they all fit in there — scale never made sense in the original Transformers cartoon), and upon Starscream’s command, Astrotrain takes off to retreat back to the Transformers’ homeworld of Cybertron.
Partway through the trip, Astrotrain tells the Decepticons to “jettison some weight, or we’ll never make it back to Cybertron.” IMMEDIATELY, Starscream speaks up and says, “My fellow Decepticons, Astrotrain has requested that we lighten our burden!” A quick vote is taken, and it’s decided that all of the broken-down Decepticons will be thrown out. Starscream quickly grabs Megatron and tosses him out of Astrotrain’s hull, and the other Decepticons throw out the rest of the discontinued toys.
But here’s the thing — There’s no weight in space. And we can clearly see Cybertron in the distance, with no other celestial bodies around whose gravity would have any effect on their trajectory. If Astrotrain had turned off his thrusters completely at that point, they would have just carried forward and eventually crashed into Cybertron. There was no need to jettison ANY weight.
Starscream, of course, nominates himself as the new leader. Other Decepticons disagree, and a big fight starts inside of Astrotrain. He shakes violently as they near Cybertron.
After checking back in with the Autobots, the movie cuts back to Cybertron, where Starscream is, indeed, being coronated as the new leader of the Decepticons. And who is putting the crown on Starscream’s head?
I think that sometime in the 20 years between the end of season 2 and Transformers: The Movie, Starscream and Astrotrain got together, and formulated some kind of deal wherein, if Megatron was ever left in a state of disrepair, they would team up to get rid of him. Both The God Gambit and Triple Takeover proved that despite his ambition, Astrotrain wasn’t a great leader. But he could be a decent second-in-command… under Starscream.
And during the events of the movie, I think it’s weird that Astrotrain just goes along with the Decepticons retreating from the battle of Autobot City at Starscream’s first suggestion. It’s weird that Astrotrain tells the Decepticons to jettison some weight when they’re in space. It’s weird that Starscream IMMEDIATELY backs up Astrotrain’s suggestion. And then, of all the possible Decepticons to be crowning Starscream, it’s Astrotrain doing it.
Now, in reality, this is probably a bunch of weird coincidences that writer Ron Friedman hadn’t really considered when he was writing the script for the movie. And there were changes to the script DURING animation, so who knows when it was decided that Astrotrain would be the one crowning Starscream.
But, those pieces all fit together a little too snugly, don’t you think?
Transformers, Starscream, Astrotrain, Blitzwing, Optimus Prime, Autobots, Decepticons, and all related characters and concepts are owned by Hasbro and Takara. All screen captures taken from tfwiki.net, used without permission.