The Transformers and Religion

Monday, September 29th, 2003 10:42PM CDT

Category: Site Articles
Posted by: Seibertron   Views: 53,929

Written by Dr Spengler

"I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End."

The Transformers, whether they be Autobots, Decepticons, Maximals or Predacons, are a race of living, thinking, intelligent creatures. And all sociologists and philosophy majors agree that every intelligent race of beings must have a religion of some sort. Cybertronians are no different. Though the Transformers were constructed by tangible hands, that does not exclude them from creating their own religion historically documenting the birth of their world and their people. But being machines, their religion borders more on the mathematical than the supernatural.
Rattrap from Beast Machines
As the Transformer universe expanded and grew so did the aspects of their religion. But let’s start with Generation 1. There isn’t much that can be said when the show began. All we were told was that they were mechanical creatures from another planet. As the series progressed the viewers became educated on the roots of their culture, much of which was still a mystery even to the Transformers themselves. In "A Prime Problem" Megatron wonders if Optimus Prime’s "Laser Core" has been extinguished. While most viewers shirked that statement off as the usual techno-babble the show was famous for, it would play a key part in the future of the Transformers. Apparently the Laser Core is the central life function of the Cybertronian. This idea was imported later in Beast Wars where the Laser Core became known as the "Spark", or soul of the Transformer.

Later on in the series we were introduced to Vector Sigma, the supercomputer which gave every Transformer life. In its first appearance during the "Key to Vector Sigma" two-parter, it was looked at as almost a legend or a myth. That was proved wrong when it was encountered by Megatron and spoke the famous words "I am Vector Sigma. Before Cybertron was, I was." Megatron then used Vector Sigma to give intelligent life to the Stunticons. So it was revealed there that Vector Sigma gave birth to the entire Transformer race. But that leaves the viewer to wonder exactly where Vector Sigma came from and how it could exist before the entire planet Cybertron ever did?

The answer to those inquiries not even the Cybertronians knew at the time, thus leaving their religion with the essence of mystery that every culture needs. However, these questions were answered when season 3 of the series came around. It was revealed that a race of interplanetary merchants called the Quintessons came to a small planet, exterminated all organic life on it and built it into a factory. A factory to produce robot warriors (Decepticons) and robot slaves (Autobots). The source of all the robots being built was Vector Sigma, the supercomputer which produced them. Vector Sigma eventually gave them all intelligence and freewill which allowed them to break free from the Quintessons. But how exactly did Vector Sigma create life and where did the Sparks or Laser Cores come from?

The answer to that wouldn’t come until Beast Machines, the finale of the original Transformer universe. In Beast Machines Vector Sigma was also called the Oracle and contacted Optimus Primal frequently. It was revealed that Vector Sigma was nothing more than a gateway. A gateway to the Matrix Zone. The Matrix Zone is the place where all Transformer sparks originate and eventually return to when they die. This is what the phrase "’Til all are one" refers to. In Beast Wars Rhinox travels to the Matrix Zone via a transwarp rift in order to retrieve the spark of Optimus Primal. Upon his return in "Coming of the Fuzors part 2" he says that he has gone to "a place where all are one". So basically the Matrix Zone is very similar to the idea of Nirvana in Hindu religions; place where all souls eventually unite to form a single being. Now did the Quintessons create the Matrix Zone or just find some way to tap into it? This is a question that has so far gone unanswered.

So this leaves us asking the question "If the Matrix Zone is where all Transformer Sparks come from then what is the Matrix of Leadership?" That’s an easy one. The Matrix of Leadership is a device that connects the Supreme Commander with Vector Sigma and ultimately the Matrix Zone. This allows the Supreme Commander to safely journey into the Matrix Zone and seek wisdom from long-dead Transformers. It also allows him to use Vector Sigma to create new warriors if they are so needed. That’s where the idea of the Creation Matrix comes from. In "SOS Dinobots" Optimus Prime had the Dinobots built on Earth and then used the power of the Matrix to give them sentient life through Vector Sigma. In "The Key to Vector Sigma" Megatron did not have a Matrix of Leadership and therefor could not create new warriors on Earth (this would also explain why there are so many more Autobots than there are Decepticons). So in order to increase his army and give life to new warriors he actually had to travel to Vector Sigma itself.

The Matrix of Leadership is also a powerful weapon. When opened it can do a number of things. In Transformers the Movie it has the power to destroy the planet-sized being known as Unicron. However, it is not always a weapon of destruction. In the season 3 finale "The Return of Optimus Prime" a hate plague has crossed over the galaxy and infected nearly every living creature. Optimus Prime opens the Matrix but rather than using its destructive capabilities he unleashes the wisdom within it. This destroys the plague, curing the galaxy. However, in the process it seemed to the have damaged the Matrix. In Transformers: Headmasters the Matrix is shown being repaired and "recharged" (though in all likelihood it "recharged" itself once the repairs to its structure were made).

In the much later shows, Beast Wars II and Beast Wars Neo, times have changed. There is more than one Matrix of Leadership. Having found "peace", the Maximals (formerly Autobots) shared the technology of the Matrix of Leadership with the Predacons (formerly Decepticons). This allowed for the Predacons to construct a Matrix of Leadership and give it to Galvatron (not to be confused with the original Galvatron). In fact, at one point three Matrixes of Leadership existed at once. One for Optimus Primal, one for Lio Convoy and one for Galvatron. In Beast Wars II: the Movie we are shown what happens when the power of two Matrixes is used in unison. It creates a "Double Matrix Blast" that has enough force to destroy a mountain (or maybe just Majin Zarak). The Maximal Elders (Convoy Council in Japan) distribute the Matrixes of Leadership to selected Supreme Commanders. The Tripredacus Council (Trypticon Council in Japan) does this as well, distributing Matrixes of Leadership to selected Emperors of Destruction. The Matrix of Leadership allows the user to speak with Vector Sigma or, as seen in Beast Wars Neo, allows Vector Sigma to speak through the user. Repeatedly Vector Sigma gave words of hope and wisdom to the Maximal warriors using Big Convoy.

In fact, in Beast Wars Neo we discover that Vector Sigma is viewed as a God to the Cybertronian race, both Predacons and Maximals. A monument displaying Vector Sigma was constructed on the planet allowing it to shine brightly and spread hope to all who see it. Unfortunately, this made it an easier target for Unicron, who used his astral form to possess Vector Sigma and the planet Cybertron as well. However, this did not give him power over the Matrix Zone. So using his Matrix of Leadership to power his Big Cannon (turning it into the Matrix Buster), Big Convoy was able to destroy Unicron and free Vector Sigma. While Vector Sigma may be effected by physical acts, the Matrix Zone cannot be harmed. In Transformers: Headmasters the Decepticons plant explosives all around Vector Sigma and destroy it. The act also causes Cybertron to fall apart (not to be rebuilt until the 300 year peace-time before Beast Wars). While Vector Sigma may have been briefly destroyed, the Matrix Zone remained unharmed. What was never explained, though, was how the Transformers built another Vector Sigma when they rebuilt Cybertron.

The religion of the Transformers is even documented in their own "bible" called the Book of Primus. In the Beast Wars episode "the Nemesis" Megatron reads allowed scripture from the Book of Primus foretelling not only the past of their race, but its future as well (Revelations, perhaps?). The character of Primus also plays a rather large part in the Marvel Comics version of the Transformers origin and religion. However, the character is not fleshed out in the tv series.

So as you can see, for a "kid’s show" the Transformers have a rich history, culture and yes, religion. I don’t think the Go-bots came anywhere near all of this.

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