Let’s face it: the Decepticons are much cooler than the Autobots. They’re badass robots who usually turn into badass looking vehicles, they have much better dialogue, and they don’t hang around stupid humans. Sure, you have to deal with the oppression and tyranny, but those purple lasers are awesome.
Thing is, even though the Autobots have huge drawbacks like Wheelie and human allies, they must be doing something right. Something must be happening that keeps the Decepticons from winning. It could have something to do with their pretty dumb strategies, like trying to harness the power of the Earth’s molten core, stealing energy from a power plant, or trying to harness the power of the Earth’s molten core again, but at a certain point, you have to look at the roster. The findings are heartbreaking.
Yes, it’s true, even the Decepticons have some duds in their army. Not as many as the Autobots (just saying), but when you look at these bots, you can really understand why this war has been raging for seven million years. These are the 15 Worst Decepticons Of All Time, Ranked.
Ratbat is a weird case. He isn’t in any way cool. He’s also attached to one of the worst Transformers comics of all time in “The Car Wash of Doom,” wherein—you guessed it—he opens a car wash to lure, trap and brainwash people with bad music and flashing lights. That’s right--he created House music.
For that reason alone, Ratbat’s probably one of the worst…but also one of the best for the same reason. A carwash of doom. Tell us you aren’t dying to read it now just for the experience of it.
Ratbat is a born bureaucrat (no wonder nothing got done when he was the leader; nobody filled out the TPS reports correctly) who once held the position of “fuel auditor.” If this isn’t the background of a truly terrifying enemy, we don’t know what is.
He’s also obsessed with hypnotism and has a Dracula-like accent. Indeed, be terrified. Just imagine how bereft of leadership and how thin the Decepticon ranks must have been for Ratbat to eventually (if briefly) take charge. Now take a look at the following characters and see how bad things can get.
14 Dead End
It’s not that Dead End is an awful character. As a matter of fact, we like Dead End quite a bit. On paper, Dead End seems like a great Decepticon. He turns into a cool sports car, providing ground support for the Decepticons—who normally turn into jets and other flying implements—he’s a capable soldier, and he helps form Menasor, one of the most powerful combiners in the lore. The problem, though, is that Dead End is depressed. Depressed to the point of severe nihilism.
He often talks to the other ‘cons about the emptiness of life, which likely ruined Soundwave’s birthday party. The only time Dead End feels remotely good is when he’s in battle because he’s distracted. Of course, he’s already ruined the morale of his team, so what good is fighting then?
If anything, the high point of Dead End’s life was the time when Swindle talked him into taste-testing energon for him to make sure it wasn’t poisoned. How brilliant was that of Swindle? Getting the one guy who wouldn’t mind dying to check the tea for ricin. God, Swindle rules. And, if anything, Dead End probably hoped the energon was poisoned anyway.
It wasn’t, so he didn’t. Poor guy.
Like Dead End, Dirge is actually a pretty cool character. Dirge is a morose, fear-obsessed Decepticon who can even use his engines to strike fear in his opponents. The problem is, he doesn’t have a will to fight. He doesn’t believe in the Decepticon cause. He doesn’t believe in the Autobot cause. He would prefer to live a life away from battle.
It also doesn’t help that his name is Dirge and he is like the Waspinator of G1—he’s constantly getting slagged. Over the years, it’s become a running gag; writers will purposely kill him off knowing he’ll just show back up again somewhere without explanation and a new writer can kill him off again.
Dirge has been bitten by a dinosaur, burned by errant jets from a smelting pool, and nearly destroyed even when covered in electrum that would make Transformers nearly invincible. He’s not a lucky guy. Dirge is a good soldier, despite this. Optimus Prime even mentions how dangerous an enemy he is, and could probably be so much more if he wasn’t terrified of being killed, or, you know, if he actually cared.
Squawkbox is the poor man’s Soundwave. As a matter of fact, he has many of Soundwave’s abilities -- or at least the abilities of Soundwave’s cassettes -- though he isn’t anywhere near as effective. He even has cassettes of his own in Squawktalk (talk radio?) and BeastBox (workout music?), who are also ineffective compared to Soundwave’s.
He uses his music to unnerve, distract and offend his targets, all while wearing a short skirt. The only problem with Squawkbox (besides his dumb name) is that his music can affect those around him. Even allies. This tends to make him less than popular and even more of a detriment to his team when literally everyone on the battlefield is being tortured by his rendition of “Only Time.”
In more recent years, Squawkbox has been one of Soundwave’s jack-booted thugs before giving up the war entirely and becoming something of a bar rat, having given up fighting for either side. This is likely due to all those cease and desist letters Soundwave kept sending him, or the gimmick infringement lawsuit. That’s how the Decepticons win. They drown you in legal jargon and paperwork. Diabolical. Just ask Ratbat.
That's right, folks, it's another Z-lister obsessed with hypnotism. Mindwipe is a mystical zealot who wants to commune with the dead. Rather than steal the Matrix like any other self-respecting villain, he tries to use science and engineering (oh, Mindwipe) to build a device that can pick up the frequencies of the dead. Instead—and this isn’t a joke—his devices picked up classic American sitcoms; several of which he become fond of.
Mindwipe can hypnotize other Transformers and organic creatures on a large scale. Unfortunately, he sometimes forgets he has this ability and ends up running away from dangerous battles.
To make things worse, he’s binary bonded with Vorath, a Nebulan scientist. This is worse than having a roommate you disagree with. Mindwipe the mystic and Vorath the scientist literally share the same body. We would say this would be hell for Mindwipe, but this is like the Transformers version of The Odd Couple, and we all know how he likes his sitcoms.
There are some Transformers that just don’t make sense. That whole Robots in Disguise thing is important to their war and a major factor in their evolutionary tract, if that’s what you want to call it. Apeface spits in the face of all that. He turns into a robot monkey. No, not like in season 1 of Beast Wars, where the Maximals and the Predacons actually looked like the creatures they modeled their alt-forms on; Apeface is obviously a robot. A robotic ape. Vector Sigma is a strange, capricious god.
Apeface is the loud, obnoxious frat boy that always wanted everyone to think he was the Alpha Male. Were he human, he’d probably wear sunglasses because his cap was always backwards. Perhaps most offensively, Apeface would probably even wear Ed Hardy shirts.
Apeface loves to accost and hound people, physically and psychologically harrying them until he feels he’s asserted dominance. He’s of course hated by Autobots and Decepticons alike for that reason and has limited use outside open combat. So useful and so popular, the character has made only a handful of appearances since his creation in the late '80s.
9 Devastator (G1 cartoon)
Okay, this is a controversial choice, but hear us out. Think about the old G1 cartoon. Think about how many battles Devastator was involved in. Now think about how many of those battles he won.
Can you name any? Can you name one?
As cool as it was to watch Devastator as a kid, he didn't win battles often. Or at all. From an inauspicious start by being taken down by Optimus Prime in one shot, he is the poster child of wasted potential. The first combiner introduced in the series, he was quickly dispatched by the Autobots and eventually overshadowed by the bigger and stronger Menasor and the stronger and smarter Bruticus.
While Devastator did cut a swath of impressive violence across Autobot City in the 1986 movie, he was still eventually defeated by the Dinobots, who—if you remember the G1 cartoon—were as dumb as the dinosaurs they were designed to mimic. So, there’s that. Easily, one of his most embarrassing defeats was in “Carnage in C-Minor” (a classic episode for those of you into masochism), when he attempts to catch the falling Broadside who is too large and heavy. Broadside crushes the poor, dumb Devastator, burying him in the ground like so much shame.
Like Devastator, Astrotrain is another example of wasted potential. He’s bigger than Megatron and is a triple-changer who can carry infantry and easily travel in space and on land. But he isn’t smart enough for much of anything other than being a sentient freighter. His attempt at leadership found his equally stupid partner in crime Blitzwing taking a football stadium as a base and shooting long bombs into the nearby city. For what reason, we may never know.
Astrotrain does even create his own drone army…of trains…made from the railroad dispatch system. As anyone who has ever taken mass transit will tell you, it’s a crap system. Even more so back in the early' 80s. Needless to say, his drones malfunctioned immediately, and his base was easily found since, you know, it’s a train yard in the open air.
Sure, Megatron was peeved that yet another one of his soldiers betrayed him, but on the bright side, he only ever executed one of the traitors and it wasn’t Astrotrain. Yay! Victory!
Nothing says major threat than Rippersnapper, a play on words for “whippersnapper,” something you call a smart aleck young person when he’s on your lawn or burning your house down. Like Apeface, Rippersnapper and the Terrorcons aren’t into that whole Robots in Disguise thing. They transform into metallic animal-monster things. The Terrorcons themselves are actually cool despite their pun-heavy names.
Except for Rippersnapper. And Blot (oh, we’ll get to Blot). Anyway, poor, dumb Ripper has these short T-Rex arms and a neck that doesn’t allow for movement. Whoever designed him did it as a cruel joke, effectively naming him for his alt-mode but making that mode impractical unless the target just walks right into his mouth.
He also isn’t exactly helping himself either. Like the Dinobots, he prefers to stay in his stubby alt-mode, making him brutal, yes, but inefficient. One would think that crazy ol’ Galvatron would probably just shoot him just for the crime of living, but, hey, maybe he just likes rooting for the underdog.
More forced puns. Great. Horri-Bull is like getting bullied by the town drunk. You’re not sure how this happened, but you can’t help but wonder how bad your stock in life must be that Horri-Bull thinks you’re beneath him. That’s the thing about him; if he isn’t bullying anybody in arm’s reach, then he’s off being a slob. Naturally, his penchant for violence made him an early member of the Decepticon army (in those days, they were so hard-up for troops that they overlooked his fear of bathing apparently). Yes, that’s right, we have another Transformer that smells bad. Despite science being against the possibility of Transformers smelling, let alone emitting a smell, Horri-Bull is one of three different Decepticons to literally stink.
The reason he makes the list is because his lack of hygiene doesn’t stem from some idea about psychological/chemical warfare. It isn’t for strategy or to make others think he’s crazy. Horri-Bull isn’t like poor Landfill, who can’t help being smelly.
No, he prefers to be like this. He likes this. He enjoys letting everyone within a five-mile radius know he’s on his way. Naturally, this makes for a real kick to morale and a great early warning system for enemies. Good old double whammy.
Yep, another Transformer that smells bad. Blot makes the list above Horri-Bull while Snapdragon—the final smelly Transformer—doesn’t even make the list for two simple reasons. First, Snapdragon may bathe in waste, but he’s also too lazy and disinterested to get involved in the war effort. He’s simply never around to offend. Second, Blot’s stink is natural. That’s right. Like Landfill’s. That Vector Sigma really does love his toilet humor.
Blot, unfortunately, smells worse than all of them, and he's both incapable and too dumb to do anything about it. That’s it. There’s no other story to him. He smells bad, but the Terrorcons keep him around so they can merge to form Abominus. Blot is too stupid to realize the Terrorcons (who are no Einsteins themselves) are using him, and is usually a half hour late to realize that someone was insulting him.
Blot does make up for it in different ways, though. Sure, he’s dumb and he stinks, but at least he’s also capriciously violent; sometimes he just shows up somewhere and shoots the place up. Nothing says “Peace through tyranny” like the guy who’s supposed to be your ally--a drunk who smells like death and wants to send you to the big garage in the sky.
4 Cyclonus (Armada)
The G1 Cyclonus was this calm, cool, loyal, purple-clad Decepticon who turned into an awesome futuristic jet. Sure, he had little in the way of personality, but he had a strange code of honor that made him kinda lovable. He was the Stannis Baratheon of The Transformers. The Armada series (and its follow-ups) undid all of that. This Cyclonus was a comic relief character. He loves blowing things up and blowing things up some more. He’s like a robotic, redneck Michael Bay.
Teamed with Demolisher, these two are the Adam Sandler and Kevin James of the Decepticons. They’ve always been here, no one knows why, and we just can’t get rid of them. Every week it’s the same three jokes, the same physical comedy, the same crushing realization that life and death are interchangeable with no discernible—oops, sorry about that.
Anyway, yeah, Cyclonus. He’s awful in Armada.
Often sent on menial tasks to keep him busy, Cyclonus would often screw that up or accidentally end up back in the A-plot so he could ruin the climax of the episode like he did to the subplot. And then Galvatron, in one of the most vulgar acts of evil ever committed, resurrects him and Demolisher after they were killed.
And that, dear reader, is true evil.
Reflector is made up of Viewfinder, Spyglass, Spectro. Together, the three of them merge into—no, not a giant combiner like Bruticus. No, not a Titan like Metroplex or Trypticon. Instead, these dolts combine to make a camera. That’s right. A camera. For taking pictures. That’s right, we’ve finally reached peak Vector Sigma pranking. He designed three full-sized Transformers to merge together by turning into tiny pieces to make a camera. That’s it.
Over the years, we’ve been told that they’re good for spying, that they’re good at blackmailing. But look at them. Would you be worried? They look like Spike’s kid Daniel (the Milhouse of The Transformers) can beat them up. For god’s sake, they can’t even turn into anything separately. And when they’re together, it’s the camera or nothing! And they’re not actually good soldiers. They’re used to spying and sneaking around—and, let’s face it, they’re probably had their energon money stolen by Grimlock on a routine basis.
And the funniest thing about this? There are still two worse Decepticons to go.
2 Megatron (RID)
The name Megatron carries a lot of weight in Transformers lore. By 2001, we’d finished the story of the Beast Wars Megatron, whose glorious, long-form plan was to control time itself.
Seeing that this was easily the best Megatron of them all, Robots in Disguise took an unexpected route. Rather than try to compete, they gave up. This Megatron looks like Last Vegas threw up on him. For god’s sake, he’s a Transformer with six forms, but his primary transformation is as a giant hand thing.
It also doesn’t help that the guy is dumber than death and a Mindwipe-level coward. He’d rather stay at the base and have his underlings face the Autobots; that way he won’t get shot and he has someone to blame when they inevitably fail. How Sky-Byte (RID’s only interesting character) never pulled a Starscream is a testament to his patience.
Megs spends most of the series cowering and hiding. When he would venture out into a fight, it was usually followed by his famous battle cry: “RETREAT!” When you think of a brutal, violent, megalomaniacal, tyrannical leader, you shouldn’t think of your ornate, giant leader near tears as Optimus Prime threatens to beat him up by the bike rack after school.
Usually, we can blame Vector Sigma for these awful creations, but no, not this time. Dispensor is all our fault (and Michael Bay's). In the movie universe, dangerous idiot Sam Witwicky accidentally activates the Allspark, which, for some reason, created Transformers out of ordinary machinery.
In this case, Dispensor. They all started out as Mountain Dew vending machines. When they were given sentience (?) they transformed into robots and started shooting cans of inferior soda at pedestrians. It was called the “can-cannon.” Too bad the can-cannon can’t be removed from the canon.
The only saving grace to this stupidity comes in the IDW sequel comic, where Autobot medic Ratchet comes upon one of the unfortunate creatures and is deeply offended by its existence (as all doctors should be?) and stomped it to death (as all doctors should?). Yeah, it’s kind of a moral gray area. Dispensor could be alive…but it is an abomination, and being pelted by soda cans could leave a bruise, maybe, so if you see one, know that you are obligated to destroy it yourself.
Well, look, let’s just call this one as a draw and try to block out Dispensor’s very existence. So, anyone see Better Call Saul? Heard it’s really great. Those McGill brothers sure know how to hold a grudge.
Which Decepticons do you think are the worst? Did we leave any out? Let us know in the comments!