If there’s anyone to blame for the traumatic death of Optimus Prime in “Transformers: The Movie,” it’s the Autobot Hot Rod. A new character introduced in the film, Hot Rod is a young and strong-willed Autobot eager to prove himself. Most of the movie is centered on this shiny new transformer, and he eventually takes over as the new Prime when the Matrix of Leadership is passed on to him. However, the Autobots needed a new Prime in the first place because of Hot Rod. In Optimus Prime’s final battle in the film, the Autobot leader takes down every Decepticon imaginable and even beats Megatron in a one-on-one fight. Nearly defeated and on the brink of death, Megatron begs Optimus for mercy as he tries to sneakily grab a blaster to use on him.
Optimus had Megatron dead to rights at this point, and even if Megatron did grab the blaster, it could be argued that Optimus would put an end to Megatron before he could do anything sneaky. Unfortunately, Hot Rod gets in the way, thinking he’s helping, attempting to stop Megatron from reaching the gun. The arrogance of Hot Rod results in Megatron having an Autobot shield and Optimus without a clear shot, letting Megatron get the kill.
Watching Optimus get blasted to kingdom come is, without a doubt, traumatic, and I just couldn’t write this in good conscience without mentioning that it wouldn’t have happened in the first place if it weren’t for Hot Rod. At least I can cope by blaming a fictional robot.