As a warning, this is going to be wordy. Although I stated it in the title, I'd like to reiterate, this is all entirely IMHO. Your milage will vary. For some slight personal background, I was in the prime age group for G1, I "outgrew" Transformers after G1 and while I knew a little about G2, I was mostly out of TF's until college, when my good friend got me back in, I started watching again sometime during BW Season 2, getting caught up on the series pretty quickly thanks to reruns. Been part of the fandom since. BW is the only TF series I felt the need to own the complete series of on DVD, especially given that nearly every series is out there to watch via the internet. Sadly, Transformers and strong, solid writing tend not to go hand in hand in terms of their series. G1 was stuck in the 80's status quo, good guys completely win, and logic and continuity aren't necessary in a kids cartoon mentality. RiD suffered from being a show that had been aimed entirely at Japanese kids, and then redubbed poorly, removing several plot aspects and key dialogue sequences and being stuck with other sequences. The less said about the Unicron Trilogy (uh!), the better. For more then a decade, BW has been the show that featured the strongest writing, the most ties, and among the best voice acting. Episodes like Code of Hero, Transmutate, Bad Spark, and The Agenda were for many examples of what Transformers could offer when done correctly. For most, it is the best series in terms of writing. Plus, it's the only TF series to have won an Emmy. Then along comes Animated. However, before I get into anything else, the playing field needs to be if not leveled, then at least the advantage should be noted; while both series ran for three seasons, they don't have an equal number of episodes. Animated consists of the three part Transform and Roll Out special and three seasons of 13 episodes per season. BW, on the other hand, had a first season of 26 episodes, then two more seasons of 13 each, BW has an extra 10 episodes. So, in a way, to be fair about comparing Animated and BW, one should only count up until "Changing of the Guard" and go no further. I won't, but consider how much more Animated could've done with an extra 10 episodes! It's kind of funny, both series were rather reviled by the fandom before they started, both won over the fans gradually. Both were ended not by the series running it's natural course, but to make room for another, Beast Hunters (later Beast Machines) and ROTF and whatever the next TV series is. Both really hooked fans with their third season. BW and Animated also are the only series that have protaganists that aren't in positions of supreme authority. These are also the only two series in which the entire purpose of their respective wars was an attempt to create a sociopolitical change on Cybertron rather then mere conquest, domination, or the ever nebulous persuit of "power". Both series have some fantastic voice acting. First and foremost, I like that Animated feels "lived in". Like we're watching another universe that's lived in, with two different planets and their own cultures and people. There's a status quo that they're used to living. Characters didn't just start moving when the series started, they had done things before we started watching. We get hints that characters have their issues and their pasts, while still moving on and doing things. In some ways, this series is almost the Transformers equivalent to LOST, each character has a backstory to how they got to the situation they're in, and we learn tidbits of that backstory at a time. If I had both the videos and any video editing skills, I'd be tempted to edit in the sound effect of the LOST flashback Whooosh! into an episode of TFA. We know in the first episode that Optimus Prime had been disgraced in his past, but we don't know anything else until later that season, and then the exact happenings come out in the finale. In fact, after watching the series, you know what happened to each main Autobot character before they joined the space bridge crew, how they got there, and where they went after that. BW lacks this. Heck, outside of Primal and Megatron, none of them even had names until partway through the first episode! This is the first series to ever present the Decepticons as a major threat. One would think that a series that is a squabble between commercial/domestic style machines and war machines would present as such, but this is the first to actually carry that idea to fruition. Furthermore, this series doesn't tend to abuse or even really use the mass changing concept which results in the "correct" scaling between a 2 seater car and a fighter jet. Furthermore, you have a repair crew, most of which had never seen a battle, let alone a Decepticon, fighting against the best Decepticons their race has produced, then the fights should be lopsided! This series also presents my favorite incarnation of Megatron. Not as a bumbling oaf or powermad tyrant, or even a chess master who spins webs within webs, but as an intelligent and skilled leader who adapts to his situation. This is also the first time Decepticons got a rallying cry, in "Transform, and Rise UP!" Something they've been needing for 20 years. While we don't really see the depth of the Autobot supreme command, we got many glimpses at the Decepticon side of things: Megatron has at least one undercover agent, team across the universe, and has co-ordinated all of them, as well as assumed command over them after 50 years of silence without needing to use brute force. It would've been nice had it been better spelled out over the course of the series, but between snippets of dialogue from Megatron and the press materials, the Decepticon uprising wasn't about conquest of the universe, but sociopolitical freedom, Megatron was fighting for Decepticon rights. While we all know that the good guys will ultimately win, a number of episodes had a kind of Decepticon stinger at the end, sometimes rather potent ones, like "Mission Accomplished" or "Where is Thy Sting". Unless I'm mistaken, this is also the first series to which there is never a "Decepticons, retreat!" command, not to mention that they're never defeated by a fart. In the first season in particular of BW, it's almost embarassing how often the call of "Predacons, retreat!" is called out. Animated may also set the record for the least number of missed shots, which may not be saying much, but still, there it is. Conversely, this is also the only series that paints the Autobots in a less then stellar light. Ultra Magnus flat out refuses to believe his subordinates, Sentinel Prime abuses his position of power a number of times and institutes a McCarthey-esque aura of terror on Cybertron, in Prowls flashback in "Five Servos of Doom" we see Autobot gangpressing, in the comics we see Autobots experimenting on their own, and it's they, not the Decepticons who create Weapons of Mass Destruction. As I touched upon earlier, they also treated their Decepticon bretheran so poorly that they rose up against them and went to war. Personally, I could see the Autobot treatment of Decepticons to have been akin to a mixture of Blade Runner with the Replicants and pre-Boxer Rebellion in China, with Cybertronian culture seeing a Decepticon as a low value individual, who were noncontributors to society save to go off, fight, and die for them; that they were the lowest social class possible and likely never even had the right to vote. In BW, the Maximals did create Protoform X, but we don't know much else about them, other then that the Predacons do feel subserviant to them, but how much of that is fact and how much of that is merely because the Predacons are wanty, we don't know. Animated also presented some subtle character growth. While Sari's abuse of the key could be pointed out as a contradictory fact, I'm instead focusing more on the bigger picture. From Prowl becoming a team player to Ratchet opening up about his past, it was a long subtle journey for many of the characters as they grew and changed not over the course of a single episode as much as over the course of the series. Take for instance the first battle between Megatron and the Autobots in Transform and Roll Out aboard the ship and compare it to their battle in Transwarped, and there's a marked difference as they work better. In addition, the show managed the ensemble cast well, with every main Autobot getting the limelight, without either feeling like a 22 minute commercial for that specific toy or without being at the expense of the other cast members; it's also worth noting that this is the first series since G1 not to have any cast member get a repaint as a powerup or a whole new toy err new body as the series progressed (A loophole since Wingblade Prime is the Voyager Optimus). It's also the first series since BM that doesn't have Prime Magic Mushrooming up via combining with another. Other then Dinobot, no BW character really grew as a character and the show frequently suffered from New Toyitis. In terms of character complexity, I'd say that Ratchet may be the most complex character we've ever seen in Transformers fiction. He suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is an action hero with regrets, and a doctor who has competition with an instant cure-all. He's a mentor, a friend, a veteran, and a warrior. All without stealing lines from Shakespeare One factor that I think had been working against Animated that will disapate when it's rediscovered later has been the spoilers. We knew way too much about too many of the episodes before they aired, resulting in many of the surprises being lessened. From inside sources to early airings, fans got important tidbits that we really would've been better off not knowing. Imagine if we were watching "Autoboot Camp" without knowing anything about the episode, or better yet with only the knowledge that there would eventually be a Waspinator. The twist at the end of Shockwave would've been a lot more potent then it was, similarly with Omega Supreme, Ultra Magnus being nearly destroyed, Prowls sacrifice etc. Had BW suffered from this, many of it's episodes would've lost their edges, "Code of Hero", "The Agenda", etc. In a few years time, I can see threads in GD about "Thoughts as I watch Animated for the first time" with posters talking about their initial reactions as they watch the show with new eyes, not knowing all the spoilers beforehand and really enjoying where the show takes them. Another factor that I give to Animated is the soundtrack. Like Superlink before it, I'd actually like to have the soundtrack to Animated as there was some great music to listen to in there including several leitmotifs that I appreciated. BW, sadly, only had a few themes: Jungle, bad news, battle, and idle. Three seasons of 13 episodes each will always seem too short for me, but given the severe episode limitations, and all the stories they did tell, they did an amazing job of keeping both the individual stories entertaining and still contributing to an overall theme. All but three episodes in the first season build or directly connect to the events of "Megatron Rising". All but three episodes directly connect to "A Bridge Too Close". Shockingly five episodes of Season three don't contribute directly to "Endgame", however of those nondirectly connected episodes, all of them connect with each other or with a later seasons finale. In other words, every episode either builds on an earlier episode or sets up for a later episode. BW, on the other hand, only had 9 episodes in the first 24 that either connected to the first season finale or later seasons. That's 15 episodes that could be skipped without losing anything from the overall series story, that's an entire season! In the wake of Botcon, we know now that Animated wasn't for sure finished with the end of season three, but they were told not to expect a fourth. As a result, "Endgame, part 2" didn't close the door to Animated, leaving several pieces in play, so to say, something many fans don't like. I, however, really like that aspect. BW has a definate start with a definate conclusion. There is no wiggle room, any further stories have to use new casts or take place between episodes. Animated has the luxury of going on in whatever way your imagination or the work of others sees fit. Prime could be named Magnus, he could not. The remaining Decepticons could be hunted down, they may not. Megatron could escape, he may not. Whatever you want. In a way, that we're not seeing their adventures doesn't mean they're not having them. Personally, I like that kind of open ending for a series like Animated, we know that their own stories aren't over, but we didn't start at the beginning of their stories either, life goes on. If this were a franchise like Star Trek, my arguement would more or less be stated. However, every TF franchise does have two distinct elements to it, a television series and a toyline. It is here that I think Animated really starts to pull away from BW. Due to the closeness of the crew of Cartoon Network and the designers at Hasbro, Animated really excels at making figures that manage to both portray cool designs and innovate transformations, but does so without being a bland robot and matching the onscreen counterpart. There is a minimal amount of robot kibble in alt mode and no Animated figure is severely handicapped by a gimmick. The line is also very close to being consistantly scaled for the most part, perhaps the closest ever (which, given the nature of scale, is sometimes a major achievement). It also gave us the Activator class, which we may never see again, but it was innovative and different. The Seeker and the Bumblebee/Cliffjumper molds will probably be well remembered for some time to come. I doubt enough can really be said about the awesomeness of Shockwave. I doubt I need to go into BW's many weaknesses in this department (Mutant heads, Dinobot, Black Arachnia, the many extranious figures, etc.!). Somewhere on the boards here, someone asked what will Animateds legacy be, as BW gave us notions like The Spark and strong ties in to prior series, what, if any contributions would we see in later lines. Laughably, a series about ever changing robots has been stuck for 25 years. We'll always see a Megatron and an Optimus, fans will always demand things they've liked and will always be repulsed by anything new and different, but then after some time, fans are agreeable to more of anything they fought against. Especially if it's a new character. Given characters like Drift, it's not hard to see why. However, I think Lockdown will be a character we see more of in the future, in different iterations, as already proven by the upcoming movieverse version. I wouldn't be surprised to see a new version down the road every now and then in future series. Given that Hasbro knows we really appreciate well told stories, I think we'll see the tighter story cohesion and flashbacks, or at least stories with greater character complexity to them. We're probably likely to get more figures, if we're lucky we'll even get a comic continuation. However, what does or doesn't happen next doesn't change the fact that a series I wasn't looking forward to after I saw the first pictures, a series I thought would be quickly forgotten after I saw some of the prelaunch press materials, and a toyline I thought was too stylized and I would skip ended up becoming my favorite series ever, and my favorite and most collected toyline ever. To the point where Cybertron figures just look bland and tired next to them. As far as I'm concerned, Animated has been the pinacle of the Transformers Franchise and everyone who was involved has every reason to stand tall. That it succeeded at all given it's deplorable start between the cartoon and the toyline is testiment to that.