Transformers timeline and recap: The story so far

Everything you need to know about the franchise and its spin-offs

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (Paramount)
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (Paramount)

Ever since the heroic Autobots and evil Decepticons first rolled out onto our screens back in 2007, they haven’t let up.

Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox kick-started this ever-changing franchise before passing the baton onto a range of new stars who have overseen its evolution into a range of new forms.

Cut to 2023, and with Transformers: Rise of the Beasts due out on Wednesday, 7 June, the Transformers series has changed yet again, this time with a more animalistic tilt.

If you’re struggling to keep up with the story so far then fear not, here’s everything you need to know to help get you caught up before you sit down to enjoy the franchise's latest offering.

How many Transformers movies are there?

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (Paramount)
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (Paramount)

Currently, there are six Transformers movies in the primary franchise and one spin-off adventure focusing on the character of Bumblebee.

In order of release, they are:

  • Transformers (2007)

  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

  • Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

  • Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)

  • Bumblebee (2018)

  • Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023)

What happens in the Transformers movies?

Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf in the first Transformers. (Alamy)
Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf in the first Transformers. (Alamy)

Released in 2007, the first Transformers movie was directed by Michael Bay and starred LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky, a young man who - together with his soon-to-be girlfriend Mikaela, played by Fox - gets embroiled in a long-running war between an alien race of shape-shifting robots.

Leading the good side are the Autobots, led by their heroic leader Optimus Prime and his band of scrappy heroes, among whom is Bumblebee who transforms into a yellow vehicle.

Leading the evil side of things is Megatron, the Decepticon leader who is determined to capture a powerful object known as the AllSpark and reignite the life of their doomed home planet of Cybertron and end their species' ongoing war.

Read more: Everything we know about Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

After emerging victorious in part one, Sam, Mikaela, Prime and Bumblebee returned for Bay’s 2009 sequel, Revenge of the Fallen. Here, we find Sam plagued with visions of mysterious Cybertron symbols which we eventually discover are linked to a new Decepticon enemy known as The Fallen who wants to get his metallic hands on a new, powerful energy source that will ultimately destroy life on Earth.

Two years later, Bay and LaBeouf returned with 2011’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, this time without Fox’s character Mikaela. In part three, we find our heroes — both human and robot — in the endgame of the Autobot and Decepticon war. With a new power source discovered abandoned on the Moon, good fights it out with evil once more in order to save the future of both Cybertron and Earth.

During the adventure, we meet a new character, the Autobots’ previous leader, Sentinel Prime, who many believed was long dead. However, after being revived, our heroes learn the hard way that his heroic days may be behind him.

Jack Reynor and Nicola Petzl in Transformers: Age of Extinction (Credit: Paramount)
Jack Reynor and Nicola Petzl in Transformers: Age of Extinction. (Paramount)

In 2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, Bay passed the baton to a whole new cast led by Mark Wahlberg’s inventor single dad Cade Yeager.

He’s joined by new franchise stars Jack Reynor, Nicola Petzl, Kelsey Grammar and Stanley Tucci and a range of new Transformers characters, including Dinobots. Story-wise, the Autobots are still fighting for their lives, this time from a bounty hunter with mysterious links to Megatron, here in a new form known as Galvatron.

In 2017’s Transformers: The Last Knight, Sir Anthony Hopkins joins the franchise alongside returning faces like Wahlberg and a handful of characters from the first three movies, including John Turturro’s government agent Seymour Simmons.

'Transformers: The Last Knight'. (Paramount)
'Transformers: The Last Knight'. (Paramount)

With the Transformers still living as refugees on Earth, Yaeger spends his days helping as many as he can before discovering a new element of the story via Hopkins historian and astronomer Sir Edmond Burton. With the future of Earth once again on the line, humans and robots must join forces to secure the future of both species.

A year later in 2018, Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena joined the franchise for Bumblebee, a spin-off movie set in 1987 that acted as a prequel to Bay’s 2007 original and chronicled the character’s arrival on Earth and first Earth-based brush with the Decepticons.

It was the first movie of the series not to be helmed by long-time Transformers director Bay and instead spearheaded by Travis Knight.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (Paramount)
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (Paramount)

Set in 1994 after the events of Bumblebee but before the adventure captured in the first Transformers movie, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a sequel to both the primary series timeline and its Bumblebee spin-off.

It’ll introduce us to a group of archaeologists who find themselves in the middle of the Transformers' ongoing war, this time with three new species of robot joining the fight: Maximals, Predacons and Terrorcons.

Transformers franchise timeline explained

Mirage and Anthony Ramos in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. (Paramount)
Mirage and Anthony Ramos in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. (Paramount)

As well as the main events of the Transformers films several of them feature flashbacks, including the original Transformers, Transformers: Age of Extinction, and Transformers: The Last Knight.

This means that the timeline can be a little tricky to for fans to keep track of, but here are the key dates that viewers need to be aware of.

  • 65 million years ago: The Creators arrive on Earth and plant Transformium, the Living metal led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. However, the Dinobots are created in the meantime.

  • 484 AD: Merlin meets with the Knights of Iacon, a group of Transformers who give him the Staff of Power to aid King Arthur and his knights defeat the Saxons.

  • 1897: Megatron is discovered by Captain Archibald Witwicky in the Arctic.

  • 1913: The AllSpark, which gave life to the Transformers, is discovered during World War I.

  • 1945: A transformer hiding inside the watch of Adolf Hitler kills the German dictator.

  • 1961: Sentinal Prime, the former leader of the Autobots, crash lands on the Moon with its Ark.

  • 1969: The Autobot's Ark is discovered by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin after they land on the Moon.

  • 1987: The events of Bumblebee take place. The film saw Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) discover a slumbering Bumblebee and revives the Autobot. The pair are forced to face Decepticons who reawakened at the same time and head to Earth to wreak havoc.

  • 1994: The events of Rise of the Beasts take place. Noah (Anthony Ramos) comes across. autobot Mirage (Pete Davidson), and the pair join forces with Optimus Prime when Maximals, robot animals, threaten life on Earth.

  • 2007: The events of Transformers take place. The galacitc conflict between the Autobots and Decepticons takes place on Earth.

  • 2009: The events of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen take place. The Fallen, the founder of Decepticons heads to Earth with the Constructicons, and it's up to the Autobots to defeat them.

  • 2011: The events of Transformers: Dark of the Moon take place. Sentinal Prime leads the Decepticons in a new battle with the Autobots in space.

  • 2014: The events of Transformers: Age of Extinction take place. Optimus Prime and the Dinobots join forces with Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) and his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) in the latest battle between the Autobots and Decepticons.

  • 2017: The events of Transformers: The Last Knight take place. The Autobots must face a brainwashed Optimus Prime, now going by the name Nemesis Prime, who is determined to restore Cybertron even if it means destroying Earth to do so.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is released on Wednesday, 7 June.