The Transformers movie timeline has grown more dense and complicated throughout Michael Bay's five-film saga and the addition of Bumblebee has called many aspects of it into question. When Bay launched the live-action Transformers franchise in 2007, it was already clear that the "robots in disguise" had been hiding on Earth longer than most humans were aware. As the story progressed in each succeeding film, the history of the Transformers on Earth also went further and further back, until it was revealed that the origins of the planets Earth and Cybertron were intertwined.

In the 2007 Transformers that starred Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox, the Autobots and Decepticons brought their eternal war to Earth as they sought a device called the AllSpark, a cube that had the power to grant life to machines. The sequel, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen revealed that the Decepticons were on Earth in 17,000 B.C. and the Great Pyramid of Giza was built around a weapon they left behind called the Star Harvester. Transformers: Dark of the Moon then dropped the bombshell that the Apollo 11 moon landing and the cause of the Space Race itself was so that the United States could be the first nation to get to the moon to investigate a crashed Autobot ship.

Related: Transformers' Movie Future After Bumblebee

Transformers: Age of Extinction, the first of the two films starring Mark Wahlberg, showed that Earth was seeded with Transformium, the living, programmable metal the Transformers are made of, 65 million years ago. Meant to soft reboot the saga with a new story arc, Transformers: The Last Knight saved the biggest shock for last: the Earth itself is a Transformer called Unicron, the ancient enemy of Cybertron, which tied the fates of humans and Transformers together.

The critical and box office failure of The Last Knight canceled plans for Transformers 6 and left the story of Earth-as-Unicron hanging, perhaps permanently. Michael Bay vacated his role as the primary auteur of the franchise and now, director Travis Knight's critically-acclaimed Bumblebee has arrived as a prequel set 20 years before Transformers 2007 and as a new soft reboot that could retcon much of the history established by Bay's films; we'll note the divergences in the following timeline.

There are also numerous comic books and ancillary spinoffs that fill in a great deal of the history of Bay's saga, but for the purposes of this timeline, we will restrict the events to what was shown in the feature films only. Here's the basic timeline of the Transformers movies and what years they are set in :

  • 1987: Bumblebee
  • 2007: Transformers (with flashbacks to 1897)
  • 2009: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (with flashbacks to 17,000 B.C.)
  • 2012: Transformers: Dark of the Moon (with flashbacks to 1961 and 1969)
  • 2017: Transformers: Age of Extinction (with flashbacks to 65 million years ago)
  • 2018: Transformers: The Last Knight (with flashbacks to 484 A.D. and World War II)

Bumblebee is a self-contained adventure set in 1987 but its depiction of Cybertron and the Transformers in their Generation-1 designs contradicts the way the robots looked in Bay's films and it also contradicts a plot point that Bee himself was on Earth in the 1940s. Bumblebee's ending seems to set up Transformers 2007 in some aspects but it also conflicts what was seen in Bay's original film by showing the Autobots arriving on Earth 20 years earlier than before. Unless Bumblebee's sequels definitely alter Bay's chronology and launch a new sequence of events, Bumblebee does slide into the established timeline, albeit somewhat awkwardly. All in all, here's our detailed breakdown of the major events in Transformers movie history:

Page 2 of 2: Transformers In Ancient History

Transformers In Ancient History

The Transformers' timeline begins when the Earth itself was created. The planet mysteriously formed around a mechanical entity called Unicron, which has remained dormant ever since but is prophecized as the ancient enemy of the Transformers' home planet of Cybertron. After biological life spread on Earth, the Creators arrived 65 million years ago and seeded the planet with Transformium, the programmable metal that Transformers are made from. By harvesting the Transformium, the Creators caused an extinction-level event that wiped out the dinosaurs.

The Creators, which purportedly included Quintessa, then took the harvested Transformium to Cybertron and used the AllSpark to give life to the Transformers, but the Transformers were apparently were given no knowledge of their origins: they were unaware of Quintessa and their Creators and believed their life came from the AllSpark, which was then lost in outer space. At some point, the Transformers split into warring Autobot and Decepticon factions.

Related: All The Decepticons To Expect In The Bumblebee Movie

The Transformers explored the universe seeking the AllSpark and began visiting Earth regularly, radically affecting human history in the process. However, after 484 B.C., the knowledge of the Transformers' existence was kept secret by the secret order of the Witwiccans, which was founded by King Arthur's wizard Merlin (making the legendary King Arthur real in Transformers canon). Here are the major Transformers events from pre-history to the 20th century:

  • Over 4.5 Billion Years Ago: The Earth forms around Unicron.
  • 175 Million Years Ago: The supercontinent Pangaea begins to break apart, separating the six horns of Unicron from their central control point, which would become Stonehenge. The horns recede into the planet.
  • 65 Million Years Ago: The Creators arrive on Earth and begin seeding the planet with Transformium, wiping out the dinosaurs (although some robots took the form of dinosaurs and became Dinobots). The Creators then take the Transformium to Cybertron and create the Transformers. Among the first Transformers are the 12 Knights of Quintessa, who steal her control staff and hide it on Earth. The Transformers split into factions and go to war; the Autobots are led by Optimus Prime and the Decepticons are led by Megatron.
  • 17,000 B.C.: The Fallen, a Decepticon leader, arrives on Earth and constructs the Star Harvester, a device that can drain the energy of the sun and transform it into Energon, the power source of the Transformers. The Autobot Primes arrive to stop the Fallen and the last Prime seals himself in a tomb. The Autobot Matrix of Leadership is entombed with the last Prime.
  • 10,000 B.C.: The AllSpark Cube crashes on Earth in the Colorado River of North America.
  • 2560 B.C.: The Great Pyramid of Giza is completed in Ancient Egypt to hide the Star Harvester.
  • 1200 B.C. The Tomb of the Primes is hidden beneath El Deir in Petra, Jordan.
  • 484. A.D. Merlin pleads with the 12 Knights of Quintessa to help King Arthur defeat the Saxons at the Battle of Badon Hill. The Knights agree and give Quintessa's staff to Merlin, which is then encoded with his DNA. Combining to form Dragonstorm, the Knights help King Arthur win a victory and join his Knights of the Round Table. Merlin founds the Order of the Witwiccans to keep the secret of the Transformers on Earth hidden, with the slogan "No Sacrifice, No Victory" as their motto. As the centuries pass, nearly every major historical figure joins the Order of the Witwiccans. There is also a prophecy that when the end of days comes, a talisman (which transforms into the sword Excalibur) will seek out the Last Knight.
  • 1897: Captain Archibald Witwicky discovers Megatron frozen in the arctic ice. The dormant Decepticon's navigation system is triggered, causing the coordinates of the AllSpark to be fused into Witwicky's glasses. The experience drives Witwicky mad and he's eventually institutionalized.

Page 3: Transformers In The 20th Century

Transformers In The 20th Century And Bumblebee

Warning: SPOILERS Below for Bumblebee!

In the 20th Century of the Transformers timeline, the discovery of Megatron and the AllSpark is kept a secret known only to the highest levels of the United States Government. The agency Sector Seven is formed to keep the knowledge of the Transformers a secret as Megatron and the AllSpark are kept contained in a facility beneath the Hoover Dam. However, humanity remains unaware of Megatron's true identity, of the Autobot vs Decepticon conflict, and of the true nature of the AllSpark for nearly a hundred years. Throughout the century, more and more Transformers secretly arrive on Earth.

World War I and World War II happen, with Transformers participating in both conflicts. By the 1960s, the Space Age would be triggered by another major event kept secret from the public: an Autobot ship called the Ark crash-landed on the moon. The Apollo lunar missions were secretly conducted to explore and excavate the Ark, with the United States and the Soviet Union each bringing back alien materials from the ship. However, both nations are unaware that Sentinel Prime, Optimus Prime's predecessor, is dormant aboard the Ark.

Related: Every Transformer Confirmed For Bumblebee Movie (So Far)

The events of Bumblebee then occur in 1987, which calls some aspects of Transformers history into question. Bumblebee fought in World War II as ZB-7, a member of the Nazi-fighting Devil's Brigade, but Bumblebee makes no mention of any prior visits to Earth before he is sent there by Optimus Prime after the Fall of Cybertron and meets Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld). Bee also meets Agent Burns (John Cena) of Sector Seven and the agency claims their temporary alliance with Decepticons Shatter and Dropkick is "first contact"; they don't seem to have any knowledge of Megatron and the AllSpark being held at their base in the Hoover Dam or of the U.S. already possessing Transformers technology after excavating the Ark crashed on the moon. Nevertheless, here's the timeline of major 20th-century Transformers events, including Bumblebee:

  • 1900-1910s: The AllSpark Cube is discovered by Sector Seven in 1913. During World War I, an unnamed Autobot takes the form of a British Mark IV tank and fights in the war. It eventually ends up in the service of Sir Edmund Burton.
  • 1934: Megatron is designated Non-Biological Extraterrestrial 1 (N.B.E.-1) and is held along with the AllSpark in a facility beneath the newly-constructed Hoover Dam. Modern technology like microchips, lasers, and space flight are all reverse engineered from studying Megatron.
  • 1940s: Under the designation ZB-7, Bumblebee fights for the Allies as part of the Nazi-killing Devil's Brigade. Bee also meets a young Sir Edmund Burton. Adolph Hitler is killed by his own watch, which is secretly a homicidal Transformer.
  • 1961: Sentinel Prime's Ark crash lands on the moon. Sentinel goes into stasis in the Ark's crash vault. The Ark is detected by both the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. and the Space Race begins to see which nation can get to the moon first.
  • June 16, 1969: The Apollo 11 mission successfully lands on the moon. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin explore the remains of the Ark.
  • November, 1969: A second Apollo mission is made to continue the exploration and excavation of the Ark.
  • 1970-1972: The United States sends three more lunar missions to the moon to continue plundering the Ark. The Decepticon Soundwave spends the decade sabotaging NASA and the Soviet space agency to prevent any further missions to the Ark.
  • 1980s: An unmanned Russian space probe discovers remains of the Ark and brings back a fuel cell, which is housed in the Chernobyl nuclear plant. The experiments on the cell leads to Chernobyl's catastrophic meltdown.
  • 1987: Bumblebee - The Fall of Cybertron occurs when the Decepticons gain control of the planet. Optimus Prime evacuates the Autobot Resistance and sends B-127 (Bumblebee) to Earth with orders to protect it from the Decepticons until the rest of the Autobots arrive. B-127 is attacked by Blitzwing after landing on Earth and suffers a Memory Core Critical Failure and loses his ability to speak. Hiding as a Volkswagen Beetle, B-127 meets Charlie Watson, who learns he's a Transformer, names him "Bumblebee", and teaches him to use the radio to "speak". Charlie and Bee prevent Shatter and Dropkick from signaling other Decepticons to invade Earth, earning the trust of Agent Burns of Sector Seven. Bumblebee and Charlie part ways, Bee transforms into a Chevy Camaro and reunites with Optimus Prime as seven more Autobots arrive on Earth.

Page 4: The Shia LaBeouf Transformers Trilogy

Transformers, Revenge of the Fallen, Dark of the Moon

The three Transformers films starring Shia LaBeouf center around his character Sam Witwicky as the Chosen One. Sam is a teenager in high school when he and Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) first meet Bumblebee, who disguises himself at first as Sam's car. Sam is pulled into the Autobot vs Decepticon conflict because he possessed the eyeglasses of his great-grandfather Archibald Witwicky; the glasses contain the map to the AllSpark fused into them when Archibald discovered Megatron in 1897. As the trilogy continued and followed Sam through college and into his adult life, Sam learned he's the Chosen One among the humans and can wield the Autobot Matrix of Leadership.

The AllSpark was the device the Autobots and Decepticons sought in the first Transformers and the Matrix was the McGuffin in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which was needed to kill the Fallen and stop the Star Harvester from destroying the sun. By the third film, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Sentinel Prime arose and planned to use the Pillars aboard the Ark to create a Space Bridge that would transport Cybertron itself to Earth. When Cybertron arrived, the Decepticons planned to enslave humanity and plunder the Earth for its resources. The Decepticons were finally defeated by the Autobots in the Battle of Chicago.

Related: Bumblebee Theory: John Cena Is The Start Of Hasbro's Shared Universe

Michael Bay and Shia LaBeouf both intended to leave the franchise after Dark of the Moon; Megan Fox was fired after Revenge of the Fallen and was replaced by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Sam's new girlfriend Carly Spencer in the third film. However, Dark of the Moon earned over $1.1 billion worldwide (and remains the highest-grossing Transformers movie); its spectacular success prompted Bay to remain as director for the fourth and fifth films as well. Here are the major events of the films that comprise Shia LaBeouf's Transformers trilogy timeline:

  • 2007: Transformers - The Decepticons and Autobots seeking the AllSpark target Sam Witwicky to find the glasses of Archibald Witwicky, which shows the AllSpark's location. After meeting Bumblebee and the Autobots, Sam and Mikaela Banes meet Agent Seymour Simmons (John Turturro) of Sector Seven and learn the AllSpark and Megatron are under captivity in the Hoover Dam, which the Decepticons also discover. The Decepticons attack Sector Seven and revive Megatron, who tries to steal the AllSpark. This culminates in the Battle at Mission City, where the U.S. Military, the Autobots, Sam, and Mikaela fight the Decepticons. Sam uses the AllSpark to kill Megatron and the remaining Decepticons retreat.
  • 2007-2009: Sector Seven is terminated by Presidential order. The U.S. Navy buries Megatron's remains in the ocean. Optimus Prime signals the other Autobots to come to Earth. The U.S. military and the Autobots form a joint task force called the Non-biological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty (N.E.S.T.) to hunt down the remaining Decepticons on Earth.
  • 2009: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - On his way to college, Sam discovers a remaining fragment of the AllSpark, which the Decepticons acquire to resurrect Megatron at the behest of the Fallen, who intends to activate his Star Harvester to destroy the sun. When Megatron is resurrected, he attacks Sam, who is saved by Optimus Prime. Megatron kills Optimus as Sam, Mikaela, Bumblebee, and their Autobot friends are led to the former Agent Simmons by Leo Spitz (Ramon Rodriguez) for help. The group then revives Jetfire, a former Decepticon Seeker, who then teleports them to Jordan so Sam can find the Autobot Matrix of Leadership at the hidden Tomb of the Primes in Petra. The Decepticons reveal the Star Harvester buried within the Pyramid of Giza and during the battle between N.E.S.T./the Autobots and the Decepticons, Sam is killed. In the afterlife, Sam learns he is the Chosen One and is revived by the Primes. With the Matrix, Sam revives Optimus Prime, who kills the Fallen and destroys the Star Harvester, saving the Earth.
  • 2009-2011: Sam graduates college and moves to Washington, D.C. but is unable to find a job despite receiving a medal of heroism from President Barack Obama. He breaks up with Mikaela Barnes and starts dating Carly Spencer.
  • 2011: Transformers: Dark of the Moon - During a mission in Chernobyl, Optimus Prime discovers the fuel cell from the Ark in the possession of the Russians. This leads him to the Ark where he uses the Matrix to revive Sentinel Prime. Sam discovers the Decepticons have stolen Pillars of the Space Bridge from the Ark and planted them all over the world, intending to transport Cybertron to Earth. Sentinel Prime reveals he made an ancient pact with Megatron and betrays Optimus. Sentinel uses the Space Bridge to trigger a Decepticon invasion and demands Optimus and the Autobots be exiled from the Earth. The Autobots comply with the exile and are seemingly killed as the Decepticons invade Chicago and begin setting up the Pillars to construct the Space Bridge. N.E.S.T. and the Autobots (who survived) come to the rescue, destroy the Space Bridge control pillar, and defeat the Decepticons in the Battle of Chicago; Optimus kills both Megatron and Sentinel Prime.

Page 5: The Mark Wahlberg Transformers Movies

Transformers: Age of Extinction and The Last Knight

Mark Wahlberg starred in the final two Transformers films directed by Michael Bay, which moved the franchise in a new creative direction meant to explain why the Transformers kept coming to Earth. Wahlberg played Cade Yaeger, a failed inventor and single father from Texas, but it was later revealed that Cade is also a Chosen One because he is the Last Knight, who was prophesized to wield Excalibur and help defend humanity when the 'end of days' arrived; i.e. the awakening of Unicron.

The Wahlberg films utilized a time jump, setting Transformers: Age of Extinction five years after Dark of the Moon and showing a post-apocalyptic Earth recovering from the Battle of Chicago and coming to grips with the proliferation of Transformers throughout the planet.

Related: What The Critics Are Missing With Transformers: The Last Knight

Transformers: Age of Extinction is the first film where none of the cast from the Shia LaBeouf trilogy returned. It was shot in China and cast notable Chinese actors to appeal to that market and it worked. Transformers: Age of Extinction became the second Transformers to earn $1 billion worldwide. However, its 165-minute runtime, brutal reviews, and overall franchise fatigue turned the fifth film, Transformers: The Last Knight into the lowest-grossing entry in the saga, despite the return of several characters from the LaBeouf trilogy and the casting of Anthony Hopkins. Michael Bay finally gave up the director's seat as The Last Knight's failure killed the plans for Transformers 6, leaving the franchise's outlandish new story arc up in the air. Instead, the series soft rebooted with the prequel Bumblebee. Here are the biggest events of Mark Wahlberg's Transformers movies:

  • 2012-2017: In the wake of the Battle of Chicago, Transformers are declared illegal on Earth. Important government buildings now utilize Energon detectors against the Transformers. After being damaged in Mexico, Optimus Prime goes into hiding in Texas. Meanwhile, Kinetic Solutions, Inc. begins creating their own Transformer drones under human control. The Creators send Lockdown to Earth to hunt for Optimus Prime and begin preparing for Cybertron to destroy the threat of Earth/Unicron.
  • 2017: Transformers: Age of Extinction - Cade Yaeger discovers Optimus Prime in an abandoned movie theater and brings him back online. They are attacked by Century Wind, a new government agency hunting Transformers. Optimus and Cade go on the run with Cade's daughter Tessa and her boyfriend Shane; they reunite with the Autobots and attack K.S.I.'s Chicago headquarters where they fight Galvatron (who is really Megatron resurrected) and Lockdown. Prime is taken prisoner by Lockdown, who is working with K.S.I. and gives them a Seed with which they can make Transformium. Galvatron takes the Seed, brings K.S.I.'s drones to life as his new Decepticon army, and tries to detonate the Seed in Hong Kong. Rallying the Dinobots to his side, Optimus Prime and the Autobots stop Galvatron in Hong Kong. Prime kills Lockdown but Galvatron escapes. Optimus takes the Seed and leaves Earth to hunt for the Creators.
  • 2017-2018: Quintessa begins transporting Cybertron towards Earth. As a result of the Battle of Hong Kong, the Transformers Reaction Force (TRF) is established to hunt down all Transformers. The fugitive Autobots and Cade Yaeger hide in a South Dakota junkyard. Unicron's horns begin rising at six different locations around the Earth. Galvatron transforms into Megatron.
  • 2018: Transformers: The Last Knight - Optimus Prime arrives on Cybertron and meets Quintessa, who turns him into the evil Nemesis Prime and orders him back to Earth to steal her staff that can drain the life out of Unicron. Cade and the Autobots save a teenage girl named Izabella in Chicago and encounter a dying Transformer who gives Cade the talisman that marks him as the Last Knight. Cade is brought to England and meets Sir Edmund Burton, the last surviving member of the Order of the Witwiccans, and Dr. Viviane Wembly, Merlin's last living descendant. As the TRF give chase, Cade and Viviane discover the 12 Knights' submerged ship and find Quintessa's staff buried with Merlin's remains. Cybertron arrives and begins physically intertwining itself with the Earth, draining Unicron's life force. Nemesis Prime attacks the Autobots and steals the staff but by speaking in his true voice, Bumblebee is able to revert Nemesis back to Optimus Prime. Reuniting at Stonehenge, Unicron's control center, Optimus leads the Autobots, the 12 Knights, the TRF, Cade, and Viviane to Cybertron where Prime kills Quintessa and Viviane is able to use the staff to stop Cybertron from draining Unicron, saving the Earth. However, Cybertron and the Earth are left physically intertwined and Quintessa survived, now walking the Earth in human form.

Next: Screen Rant's Bumblebee Review

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