In just about any of the many, many incarnations of Transformers universes, there are few robots in disguise more entertaining than the Decepticon Seeker Starscream. He’s a bizarre combination of cowardly, ingenious, selfish, hare-brained, and unrelentingly evil. He’s so evil, in fact that he constantly strives to be the evilest of them all by usurping his leader, Megatron. There’s no end to the amusing ways he's tried to take down Megatron, from sarcastic asides to outright mutiny attempts.
Starscream is endlessly creative, though. You can’t call him a one-trick pony. There’s so much to him aside from his treachery, and some of those things you might not have been aware of. So that’s why we’ve created this list. Let’s get to know more about this snarky second-in-command, both on screen (and page) and off.
We take no responsibility for any mutinous thoughts you have after learning 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Starscream.
It’s hard to imagine Starscream with any other name. After all, it’s so perfectly evocative of his sheer craziness. He’s a profoundly powerful but power-mad robot whose boss constantly throws shade at him (not to mention laser fire and punches). Starscream rarely achieves his goal, and is left to... scream madly at the stars. It’s perfect for him.
However, it wasn’t the first choice of names given to him by the Transformers creators. No, that honor would go to Ulchtar. Ulchtar? Yes, Ulchtar. Clearly, they made the right decision to trash that made-up, meaningless name. In fact, the Decepticon Thundercracker (another fighter jet) was originally given the name Starscream. Ultimately, it was comics writer Bob Budiansky, who also named Megatron, that insisted on Starscream as this 'bot's name.
Speaking of names, Starscream was also given a couple of strange nicknames by Budiansky: The Silver Snake and Pretty Poison. The former we can see, with his being silver and having a sneaky, snake-like personality. But Pretty Poison? Well, he does think he’s pretty.
Starscream has a history with clones of himself that goes way back – all the way back, in fact, to the original animated series. Back then, Megatron had created an Optimus Prime clone to fool the Autobots, then created a Starscream clone to help convince the good guys the Prime clone was real. Of his clone, Starscream characteristically complimented, “Very handsome, if I say so myself.”
Flash forward to Transformers Animated in 2008 and Starscream creates an entire army of self-clones. As a nod to the original series line, he says, “Pretty good looking, if I do say so myself!” He soon learned that, somehow, each clone represented a specific facet of his own personality, which drove him crazy. There was (among others) a greedy one, a lying one, a cowardly one, an egotistical one, and even, interestingly, a female one.
In a hilarious and fitting twist, the clones eventually abandoned Starscream for Megatron, but most were eventually destroyed… except for that curious female one.
If you’re a Transformers fan, you likely know that each Transformer has a spark, which is essentially a soul, only it has a physical presence and comes from the creator/god Primus. Here’s the thing about Starscream, though: while most Transformers’ spark can be destroyed, effectively ending their life forever, Starscream’s is indestructible.
Yes, Starscream is really the vampire of Transformers-- he can more or less live forever. Because of this, once his physical form is destroyed, he can live as a ghost and possess other bodies, as he did in Beast Wars (more on that later). His disembodied spark could somehow travel through space and even time. Starscream had assumed, like anyone would, that he was mortal until he died for the first time in Transformers: The Movie, obliterated by Galvatron. After that death, he came back to possess the likes of Cyclonus and Scourge in an attempt to get revenge against Galvatron.
As we alluded to a few moments ago, Starscream’s ghost did some possessing in Beast Wars. That series was actually where the very notion of sparks was first introduced, and in turn where we first saw Starscream as a ghost with an immortal spark. His ghost traveled through time to come upon the dim-witted Predacon Waspinator, and he took over the Predacon’s body and called himself Waspscream. Waspinator’s voice changed to that of Starscream and his Predacon logo turned to a Decepticon one.
As Waspscream, he helps the Predacons to an early victory, but he predictably plots to overthrow Megatron. Part of his plan involves convincing Optimus and the Maximals to surrender, but they wind up duping him and Optimus defeats him. Then his former ally Blackarachnia bests him at his own double-crossing game and blows Starscream out of Waspinator’s body with an Energon blast. Starscream's spark goes screaming and whining back into space.
Really, the whole point of Starscream is to be a pain in Megatron’s hind-metal. He’s hilarious in his ceaseless desire to take Megatron down and assume leadership of the Decepticons, even as Megatron constantly berates him and puts him in his place. This is the case in virtually every iteration of Transformers lore. But, somehow, the live-action Transformers series of films have largely ignored this dysfunctional relationship.
Sure, there are occasional hints, but nothing really concrete and sustained. In Dark of the Moon, Starscream sarcastically moans about how it pains him to see Megatron “so wounded, so weak.” And in Revenge of the Fallen he claims he had to focus on leading the Decepticons instead of saving Megatron. Other than that he’s largely sycophantic.
In the movie-based comics from IDW, though, we do see a little more of Starscream’s disdain for Megatron and revelry in his own leadership after Megatron’s supposed death.
Coloring books? Yes, in the ‘80s there were Transformers coloring books published by Marvel which had complete storylines, much like comic books. Perhaps in an effort to attract a younger audience and remove the nastiness and chaos of Starscream’s usual treacherous ways, Starscream was completely loyal to Megatron in this series. He’s just another Decepticon blindly following Megatron’s orders.
Disturbingly, for traditional Starscream lovers, there’s one page in the first book, Forest Rescue Mission, that says, “The Decepticons Ravage and Starscream love to follow Megatron’s every order.” That's just not right.
True to form, though, Starscream was ultimately a coward, surrendering to the Autobots after being caught during a battle, and he once selfishly gobbled up a box full of Energon cubes so he could become “the most powerful Decepticon” – but Megatron was out of the picture at this point, with Galvatron in his place. It all ends with Starscream and Galvatron locked in fisticuffs.
In the Image Comics G.I. Joe vs. the Transformers series (2003), Cobra discovered a bunch of powered-down Transformers and switched them back on. They weren’t themselves, though. Cobra had figured out how to switch off their free will, so they were controllable drones. Cobra Commander took a liking to Starscream’s sleek lines and made him his personal jet, dubbing him Night Raven.
During a battle, Starscream came upon the beloved, black-clad G.I. Joe hero Snake-Eyes, who opened fire on him. Starscream shot back and, though not mortally wounded, Snake-Eyes wound up with a nasty scar on his face.
Later, Snake-Eyes got his revenge, sneaking up on Starscream and slashing a hole in his eye with his sword. Then he tossed a grenade into the open hole. Panicking, Starscream fell off a cliff and was hurt, but the grenade hadn’t yet gone off. Fortunately for Starscream, Cobra Commander came along to help remove it.
Tom Kenny gets around. The actor and comedian is one of the busiest voice actors around, but most often voices everybody’s favorite sponge, SpongeBob SquarePants. We recently recognized SpongeBob’s as one of the most iconic cartoon voices of all time. He’s done voices for various superheroes, characters on Adventure Time, and even Star Wars fan favorite Greedo in The Clone Wars. Then there are the voices he’s done for various Transformers, including Starscream in Transformers: Animated.
Kenny isn’t the only Starscream voice actor you might know from another role as well. Samuel Jay Flatman voiced both Starscream and Optimus Prime in Transformers: Interstellar. Steve Blum played him in Robots in Disguise and Rescue Bots, but is also known as Zeb Orrelios on Star Wars Rebels. Charlie Adler has voiced him in the live-action movies, but is also known for recent iterations of Starscream’s comics buddy Cobra Commander. Then, saving the best for last, there’s the original Starscream, the late Chris Latta, who voiced him in the original animated series and was also the original voice of Cobra Commander in the G.I. Joe cartoons of the ‘80s.
It’s rather fitting to Starscream’s personality that the head you see on his body in the live-action film series is one that producers felt was not good enough to be Megatron’s. It had originally been designed as one of the options for the Decepticon leader, but they felt it was more “Starscream.” As usual, poor Starscream is stuck with second best, getting Megatron’s scraps.
While we’re at it, we know you’re aching for more “Starscream’s movie head trivia,” so we won’t stop there. There are a couple of other movie-related heads floating around. There’s a different head that’s used for his “Protoform” (pre-Earth, Cybertronian form) in the comics put out by IDW, which serve as a prequel to the movies. There was also an early concept design that looked more like a skull without a neck. Oddly, it made its way into one relatively obscure piece of media: the Transformers Look and Find kids book.
There are so many different versions of Starscream in so many different continuities that it can be hard to keep track of his origin stories. In the original Marvel comics, he started out as a politician on Cybertron. He was first a scientist on their homeworld in the original animated series. Both seem to be rather dull occupations for someone as ferociously dynamic as Starscream.
The Dreamwave comic series decided to make him, more fittingly, a Cybertronian gladiator before he and the Decepticons came down to Earth, much like IDW did with Megatron. True to form, he was a fiercely intelligent, but not always wise, trickster in the gladiator arena and in his early days with the Decepticons, under Megatron’s rule. He was able to trick Autobot Grimlock in the arena, but not when it came to real battle. His battle plan backfired to the point that he was almost killed by Grimlock, not to mention by an angry Megatron.
The Transformers: Deviations comic is IDW’s alternate take on the events we know from the Generation 1 continuity (home of the original series, animated movie, etc.). In the original continuity, Hot Rod interferes in a battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron, ultimately leading to Optimus’ death. In this alternate timeline, Hot Rod doesn’t interfere and it’s Megatron that dies in the battle.
Wielding the fallen leader’s cannon, Starscream declares to his mates that he’d be the best leader, and they crown him as such. The planet-eating Unicron comes along and demands Starscream’s loyalty, which Starscream agrees to, as long as Unicron gives him some nifty upgrades.
Newly upgraded, Starscream dubs himself, in a nod to his fallen leader, Megascream. It’s later revealed that those upgrades, along with those made to other Decepticons, give them the ability to combine to form a giant robot, which they use to try to destroy Optimus, but the plan ultimately backfires and Starscream, along with Hot Rod, is blown up.
G.I. Joe and Transformers share a lot of similarities. Both were toys manufactured by Hasbro with early-mid ‘80s cartoons about good versus evil plus tons of laser fire. Both also featured a traitorous silver-skinned second-in-command to the bad guys’ leader. Transformers, of course, had Starscream, while in the G.I. Joe universe it was Cobra Commander’s chrome-domed pal Destro. In the Dreamwave comic Transformers/G.I. Joe, the two worked together.
The two baddies, both wanting to overthrow their leaders, decide to unleash a giant robot called Bruticus. Unfortunately for Starscream, Destro’s lady friend Baroness gets in the way and fires a shot at Starscream to disable him. The plan ultimately works out for Destro, as Cobra Commander winds up trapped under a pile of rubble thanks to Bruticus and the Baroness kills the helpless leader. In the end it doesn’t work out for any of the Transformers, all of whom, Autobots and Decepticons alike, are disabled. Nor does it work out for Cobra, who are defeated. Yo Joe!
Military fighter jets were all the rage in the mid-’80s. There were the F-14 Tomcats glamorized in the 1986 Tom Cruise blockbuster Top Gun, and then both G.I. Joe and Transformers had their well-armed fancy fliers. The Joes had their take on the scissor-winged F-14, the Skystriker, while the Decepticons originally had three military-style jets, known as Seekers. These Seekers were Skywarp, Thundercracker, and our man Starscream, who was an F-15 Eagle in his original incarnation.
Since then, he’s appeared in many different alternate modes, but the very large majority of them are fighter jets, including an F-16 Fighting Falcon (Transformers: Prime) a harrier jet, Cybertronian jets, and the F-22 used in the live-action films. There was one version of Starscream, though, that diverged quite significantly from the jets: in the Japanese Beast Wars II series, he became known as Hellscream and could turn not into a vehicle at all, but into a shark.
In some Transformers storylines, Starscream became so fed up with trying to become leader of the Decepticons that he just went and formed his very own faction, known as the Combaticons, who could combine to create the giant Bruticus. Well, more accurately, in the Generation 1 cartoon Starscream was kicked out of the Decepticon fold and was more or less forced to create his own army if he wanted to survive.
He went to a lot of effort to create them, too. Starscream discovered some old U.S. military vehicles, then flew all the way to Cybertron to steal the personality components of a bunch of old Decepticons, which were being stored in drawers, and flew them back to Earth to install them in the vehicles. Presto: Starscream’s Combaticon army!
Who would really want to serve under Starscream, though? That’s the question the Combaticons ultimately asked themselves, leaving their leader for an assault on Cybertron. Starscream was able to save the day by deactivating them and they eventually joined forces with Megatron and the Decepticons.
As we’ve said, Starscream’s traitorous desire to usurp Megatron is arguably his best, and certainly most entertaining, quality. At least in that scenario, though, he was still true to his team, remaining a Decepticon. However, there was a version of Starscream that took the treachery all the way and jumped the bad-guy ship in favor of the good-guy ship.
The animated series Armada had all kinds of great confrontations between Starscream and Megatron, Megatron being abusive toward Starscream, and Starscream constantly stabbing his leader in the back and sabotaging him. They even fought nearly to the death (Starscream’s death, that is). Ultimately, Starscream was so irked by how he’d been treated that he used the powerful Star Saber to wreck the Decepticon base, along with a few of his mates, and head over to the Autobots to tell them he wanted to join them in their battle against Megatron.
He gave the Autobots important intel and nearly helped them kill Megatron. He was even – dare we say – thoughtful towards the Autobots' human friends, who in turn threw him a party. In the end, despite being tempted by Decepticon Thrust to rejoin the bad guys, he at first didn’t go back, but the Autobots distrusted him and turned on him, finally sending him back into the Decepticon fold.
Are there any little-known Starscream facts in your Transformers memory banks? Roll them out in the comments.