A friend of mine recently rewatched the G1 cartoon and said it was nice, in an Adam West way. That comment gave me mixed feelings: I didn't like it, but he had a sort of point about what he was saying. G1 Prime (we'll go by cartoons/movies here) has been portrayed as a generally pacifistic leader: a general who is positive and encouraging, who lets his enemies live, who enjoys basketball and soap operas and dislikes rap music. While it is great to see Optimus Prime do well with peace, he has the impression that he's never really faced the horror and desolation that war brings with it. To be fair, G1 Megatron was more a OO7 villain, always devising a scheme to stop the Autobots, and having to hilariously deal with a sniveling but ambitious lieutenant - not too big a threat. They both finally step up their game in the 1986 film, and well, both went down a draw. Then times changed. More accurately, ROBOTS IN DISGUISE was airing around 9/11, causing a major shift in sensibilities. There is one standout episode, THE TEST: the Decepticons dupe Optimus Prime into believing they want to be the good guys, and he accommodates them - this sort of "let's give them a chance" would not be allowed so readily today. And from RID onward, TRANSFORMERS was regarded as fantasy, with the oh-so-noble Optimus against the nefarious-but-doomed to fail Megatron. The Unicron Trilogy did not do much to improve this image, with focus on new Transformers and letting the core ones stay how they were, causing a level of stagnation. The Bayformer movies to some level revived the franchise: the Decepticons were redefined as a definite alien threat at terrorist-level, with the Autobots as Earth's one defence against this threat. And so we had some seriously gory sequences with Optimus Prime: shooting Wheelbot, splitting Grindor's face, tearing out the Fallen's face, flying through the Driller, shooting down Megatron and Sentinel... the third film in particular displayed some very un-Optimus behaviour. And the subsequent incarnations of ANIMATED and PRIME have been rather stoic and grim to really appeal to me so far (I must admit that the Orion Pax storyline was impressive). Times have changed; the general consensus is that fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity, you HAVE to get your hands dirty and get mean and tough to deal with the bad guys. There isn't really any room for Prime to give bad guys a second chance, even if they're sincere: in PRIME Optimus thought of gunning down a helpless Megatron (CROSSFIRE). Does this sound right? Perhaps. But it's also made him a little less pacifist and more heartless, more prepared to sacrifice to achieve his goal. It's not really "good vs evil" as much as "good finds a way to beat down evil". I wish people would understand that the above isn't right, that Optimus is at his best as a pacifist. He is a fighter, but primarily a DEFENDER: he fights for the peace of his race and Earth's as well, and if possible will offer a peaceful route to resolving a conflict. His defensive posture is not a weakness but a strength; if he lets rip things will just escalate into a mass slaughter (which was much of the latter part of DOTM). He has to be truly benevolent to all, to want a peaceful end to the war and to enjoy the peace that follows, similar to the peace from before the war. I've only really seen that Optimus, IMO the true Optimus, at the end of the first TFilm where he was enjoying the sunset at a makeout point (why there I don't know, but it WAS a beautiful spot). And it doesn't matter how much G1 Optimus is like Adam West, he's the Optimus of my childhood and my personal favourite of them all, and nothing will change that. This post was inspired by SUPERMAN VS THE ELITE, which also dealt with a hero finding his morals may be unsuited to changing times.