Ah, Starscream. Likeable? No. Loveable? Absolutely. I’m fond of pretty much all the incarnations of the Decepticons’ reluctant Number Two. Indeed, in terms of personality he’s a remarkably consistent character: the precise mix of ambition Vs cowardice and genuine Machiavellian scheming Vs overblown melodrama varies between incarnations but the mix itself is always there. I’d have a hard time choosing my favourite Starscream overall, but if I were forced to at null-ray point I would probably go with Transfomers Prime Screamer (brilliantly voiced by Steve Blum). Why? Mostly because Eyebrows! Uh, I mean, mostly because, as I’ve already noted, the detailed style of this show’s animation really allows the creators to have fun with the robots’ facial expressions. Starscream is surely the most emotional and dramatic of all Prime‘s cast and the show brings him memorably to life.
Let’s revisit this show. Here’s a list of his finest faces that I spent waaaay too much time compiling. Enjoy! WARNING: contains spoilers for all 3 seasons of TF Prime.
15. Easily amused
”A trillion gigabytes of data and none of it useful, though some… oddly engrossing.” We’ve all been there, Screamer: supposed to be hard at work plotting conquest and revenge, end up just looking at
Cat dancing monkey videos.
14. “Please reconsider my termination”
One of the many times during the series when Starscream thinks he’s finally going to get the punishment he fully deserves from Megatron. This Con can go from gloat to grovel in under 30 seconds. Turbo!
13. Let’s call it his “C Face”
C is for Conquest. It’s rare for an episode to go by without Starscream indulging in some kind of ‘when I’m in charge’ reverie, but – with the full pop up Cybertron – this is one of the most indulgent, and therefore one of the best.
12. “We all have plenty to think about”
Confusion, horror, disbelief and a big dose of Starscream staple ‘the kicked puppy’ are on show here. His Stockholm Syndrome seems to become more extreme as the show reaches its finale and his expression here as he reacts to the end of Megatron’s story evokes so well the breadth of different and often conflicting emotions bubbling away within him.
11. I love it – but can’t quite believe it – when a plan comes together
Starscream scores 10/10 for persistence but his actual rate of success is, let’s face it, abysmal. What makes this shot isn’t the menace it’s the undertone of disbelief that the battle seems to be going his way for once.
10. Autobots! Ruining everything!
Here’s a more usual scenario, in Episode 14 he gets to enjoy about 5 minutes of actually being in charge before things start to crumble. This expression greets the arrival of those meddling Autobots.
9. Caught red handed
Operation Grand Theft Omega Keys was going so well, but then someone just couldn’t resist stopping to gloat!
8. They see me rollin’
Ah the legendary scooter scene. You can have this scooter or you can have dignity, but you cannot have both. Choose wisely. I love how Starscream embraces his choice and goes full pantomime in this Arctic search scene: “where are you my Decepticon Brethen?”
If you enjoy this you’ll be pleased to know the scene is on YouTube with the appropriate soundtrack added.
7. Would I lie to you?
Lying is an art form, of course it is: you can lie to Knock Out “my arm just fell off”; lie to Megatron even “I only wish to serve you…” but to straight up lie to a group of your own clones who’ve just explained they share all your memories? That takes things to next level. This is the face to pull while attempting this feat. Good luck. You’re going to need it.
6. “Knock Knock”
“Knock knock!” Did you hear the joke about the treacherous second in command who gloated over the body of a commander who was immobile but still very much alive? Two things make this shot so delicious: (1) those eyebrows (2) the Megatron’s eye view. Somebody is definitely still home and this scene may come back to bite you later Starscream.
5. Sooo unfair!
Decepticons have many enemies, it comes with the job description. But Starscream’s worst enemy is undoubtedly himself. This brilliant scene plays out that adage quite literally as he discovers the hard way that any pain endured by his clones will also be felt by him.
4. This is the evil plan
If you were Megatron just why exactly would you keep a treacherous liability like Starscream around? Logic dictates that he should have sacked him years ago – in the first episode of G1 probably. Yet here he still is. Why? Because who else are you going to turn to when you need a truly treacherous plan cooking up? I love Screamer’s nonchalance in this scene as he leans on a wall and casually outlines a way to get the Autobots and Predacons to eliminate each other.
3. *Cue Mad Science cackle*
There comes a time in the lifecycle of many Starscreams when their thoughts naturally turn to reproduction. “Let’s give this cloning a whirl, shall we?” I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
2. Awkward Sexual Tension
The scene that spawned a million fanfics and drove the fandom crazy – or crazier I should say. Facing together the prospect of imminent zombie-Vehicon-induced termination, Starscream initiates the standard ‘say something nice before we die’ pleasantries, but the response from Knock Out isn’t quite what he anticipated: “You’re no Breakdown but I must confess I have always admired your lustrous finish.” A prime Prime moment. I love how attention-hungry Starscream seems to be vacillating here between ‘ooh he said something nice to me’ and ‘wow, this is awkward.’
You can watch the scene here accompanied by the music from Brokeback Mountain if that, uh, floats your boat.
Prime Starscream looks quite different from some of his earlier incarnations but anyone questioning the authenticity of this incarnation should have all concerns assuaged from his first close-up onscreen. “Never mind him [Megatron],” he says, ”I am my own master.” How could anyone doubt a face like that is anything other than utterly untrustworthy.
Let’s not forget who is the Trope Namer on TV Tropes for “a villain too ambitious or individualistic or just too stubborn to accept the supremacy of the Big Bad.”