From Teletraan I: The Transformers Wiki
Across all continuities, Optimus Prime dies a lot. This happens for various reasons:
- It allows for him to be replaced by a new character (and thus a new toy).
- It allows for him to come back from the dead in a new body (again, a new toy).
- It's dramatic (in theory, or at least, it used to be).
- It makes him into something of a Christ-figure.
Generation One Cartoon Continuity
The Transformers: The Movie
- The best-known example is from The Transformers: The Movie, in which Optimus Prime dies of wounds from his battle with Megatron. Famously, his body turns gray as he dies. (Urban legend says his body also crumbles, but no such footage is known to exist.) Being the first time he died, it was actually unexpected.
- He returns from the dead twice; first, as a zombie under Quintesson control in "Dark Awakening" as part of a plan to destroy the Autobots, only to die again when he overcomes the Quintesson control using the Matrix and possibly sheer strength and will, and then sacrifices himself to save the Autobots. His second resurrection occurs when he is brought to life again to battle the Hate Plague in "The Return of Optimus Prime".
Generation One Marvel Comics
"I swear, I was wearing my faceplate when I left the house this morning."
In the Marvel continuity, dying and coming back was practically a hobby for Prime.
Generation 2 Marvel Comics
Unleashing the light of the Matrix upon a great evil. Again.
- This Prime wasn't done dying yet. His adventures continued in the G2 comics, and he died defeating the Swarm in the final issue of that series, "A Rage in Heaven!". The Swarm reconstituted him three pages later (in a body based on his then-current Combat Hero toy).
- In The Headmasters,
Optimus Prime Convoy died again — in another act of self sacrifice, of course — when he walked into Vector Sigma and tried to bring it back under control directly in "A Dream Is Born, Double Prime". His body turned gray as he died, followed by a (likely only symbolic) scene of him telling Rodimus Prime that it would be his responsibility to keep leading the Autobots and to continue his work, seen as a transparent, light-haloed figure against the sky and heard in third person narration as Rodimus stared into the sky. (Then again, given the proven existence of ghosts...)
Return of Convoy
Convoy returned as a zombie once again this time as False Convoy resurrected by Dark Nova in a plot against the Autobots, but this plan went awry when the other Battlestars managed to restore Convoy's spark with the power of the Zodiac, evolving him into Star Convoy. Return of Convoy The Battlestars
Japanese Generation 2
- In the Japanese version of Generation 2, Optimus Prime was badly wounded by Megatron's fusion cannon and almost died, but was resurrected and evolved yet again, this time into Laser Rod Optimus Prime, by the power of the Matrix.
Actually, he's still alive, but
In Beast Wars and Beast Machines, you could mark the end of a season by the near-death experience of one Optimus or another...
- At the end of the series, Optimus gave his life to defeat Megatron once and for all, pushing him into the technorganic core of the planet. In assorted ancillary media (convention comics, text stories), he comes back to life yet again.
(Strangely, the end of the third season of Beast Wars had no Optimus deaths whatsoever! A half-dozen other characters died, but not Optimus. Bizzare.)
Now Optimus, don't go all to pieces. You say you have to split? Well, you're a chip off the ol' block.
IN THIS TEMPLE
AS IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE
FOR WHOM HE SAVED THE UNION
THE MEMORY OF OPTIMUS PRIME
IS ENSHRINED FOREVER
- The corpse of an Optimus Prime (killed by Unicron) from an alternate universe appeared in the Armada comic issue titled "Worlds Collide, Part 1". Yep, practically all we know about this Optimus is that he died. He doesn't turn gray, but his colors are faded.
Technically, this is the clone.
- The corpse of an Optimus Prime (killed by Megazarak) from an alternate universe was cloned by Unicron to create Nemesis Prime. The clone, before he became Nemesis, appeared in Universe comic issue "Balancing Act, Part 2". Once again, practically all we know about this Optimus is that he died.
Live-action film continuity
Transformers The Game
In Decepticon mode storyline, Optimus Prime is beaten to the ground, and as he crawls for the All Spark, Megatron smashes his head with his flail ... poor Prime, he gets the most violent death.
In an alternate timeline, Optimus was left in a frozen, near-death state. Twilight's Last Gleaming, Part: 1
Revenge of The Fallen
Possibly the most brutal death for Prime so far. During the forest battle, he makes the mistake of turning his back to Megatron, resulting in the Decepticon leader stabbing him straight through the back and blasting his chest out. Later on when they are in Egypt, Sam uses the Matrix of Leadership to resurrect him. Needless to say, he gets back at Megatron big time. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Dead in the pilot for 75 seconds. It's a new record!
Sometime between 2005 and 2010, Marissa Faireborn revives Optimus using the Galvatron cells in her body. Ultimately, all the cells are put back into Galvatron, and without them, Optimus promptly dies again.
- Prime Spark - The short story explores the question of where all those Optimus-es go when they die. (Answer: someplace dull.)
- Dirge (G1) - The appropriately named, yet very unlucky guy who gets killed off in many continuities (but less than Optimus Prime).