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#6

Grimlock

By Blackjack

"Grimlock strongest of all! No one stop Grimlock!"

Percentage of vote: 54.6%
Average ranking: 11.9

Oh, hey, Grimlock made the list...to the surprise of absolutely no one! As an anonymous voter puts it, the fact that he is a robotic T-rex is enough reason to vote for him...and truly, Grimlock embodies everything his alternate mode is. One of the most common adjectives to describe Grimlock is 'badass' (which Grimlock even used to describe himself in a rather cringe-worthy moment in Dreamwave) and in every continuity Grimlock shows up in, that has been the case.

The cartoon is probably one of the most memorable places of characterization for Grimlock, where he is one of the more prominent characters early on, being portrayed as a super-powerful badass Dinobot. Built by Ratchet and mad inventor Wheeljack, the Dinobots ended up being majorly popular guest-stars, being allowed to roam around on Dinobot Island when they're not in use or locked in a closet. Initially a group of barbaric idiots with caveman speech, the general good qualities of Optimus Prime and the Autobots sent fuzzy feelings through Grimlock and as time goes by they became softer and funnier, although they still continually beat people up and go 'me, Grimlock, strongest' every other episode in between thoroughly smashing Decepticons.

Come the 1986 Movie, and Grimlock was one of the few season one Transformers to be part of the main cast instead of being relegated into secondary roles or be killed off, and throughout the movie continually proclaims himself as 'me, Grimlock, king!', something that's now synonymous with Grimlock's characterization. He's got two of the most awesome fights in the movie, leading the Dinobots in a cavalry charge against Devastator, and later rescuing Hot Rod and Kup from a group of Sharkticons. Also he totally kicked Unicron's butt. Literally. This is what we call 'badass decay', though, since Grimlock's subsequent roles in season three are reduced to 'funny-speaking tough guy', and at one point he even wore a waiter's apron. He had sporadic appearances throughout the third season, though he starred in two of them: "Grimlock's New Brain", a rather hilarious one where Grimlock suddenly becomes an eloquent-speaking scientist, and 'Call of the Primitives' where he beat things up.

"Him fucking king, alright."

--Brendocon

And while more cerebral characters like Prowl, Ratchet or Soundwave will always own my heart, there is always room for the extremely simplistic Grimlock. Just not quite the cartoon one, which regressed into kind of a joke later on. You see, while Ratchet starred in the very first Transformers comic I read (Marvel's Warrior School), the very next issue introduces the Dinobots. And while they were mere plot devices that were unearthed out of a swamp by Ratchet to fight Megatron, the mere fact that they are robot dinosaurs (and one of them breathes fire!) is awesome enough.

And the backstory for the Dinobots was interesting enough. During the four million year sleep, the Ark only had enough power to awaken them and send them off to fight Shockwave, and gave them dinosaur forms as alternate modes. And while they were able to fight Shockwave to a standstill, all six combatants were swallowed by a tar pit and deactivated, no doubt a delicious irony given then-common portrayals of prehistoric animals being swallowed up by tar pits.

"GRIMLOCK...SMASH!"

--Rack'n'Ruin

Still, Grimlock all but disappeared from the mainline US comic for the next couple of years. But the UK comics were under the direction of one Simon Furman, who found a kindred spirit in Grimlock. And thus began a thirty year romance between writer and character.

One of the earliest UK-exclusive stories starred Grimlock and Ratchet, and the two were perfect foils to each other as Grimlock wanted to simply beat up the villain-of-the-arc, a rogue Guardian robot, whereas Ratchet prioritized the healing of their wounded comrades. In the process Swoop was apparently blown up, leading to Grimlock and the other Dinobots separating from the main Autobot army, the first of many, many similar occurrences to come in the future.

After that came the Dinobot Hunt arc, which had the Autobots hunt down the Dinobots whose 'cybo-dendrons' have been damaged by their time in the tar pit. After the rest of the Autobots dealt with their little rampage, Grimlock and the rest were trapped in an endless dream loop where he keeps finding himself killing all the Decepticons only to be killed himself at the last moment...it's a nice (if not exactly original) little situation, except that not much came out of it other than an explanation for where the Dinobots bugged off to in the US comic.

"Even without getting into the brilliant character that Simon Furman eventually made him, the fact that he's the most prominent giant robot dinosaur of the bunch is enough to make him really, really awesome."

–Warcry

And then they returned literally out of nowhere in the mainline US comic, only to announce their desertion when Optimus Prime unveiled the super-expensive toy ultimate Autobot powerhouse: Omega Supreme. I'm not quite sure how great the cooperation between the US and UK branches are at this point, but it allowed the Dinobots to go on hijinks involving Sludge's human friend Joy Meadows, the III (Intelligence and Information Institute), making friends with Centurion the human-controlling-a-robot, and rescuing a bunch of Autobots from freaking Galvatron. There was also that extremely heartwarming moment where he reveals that he's known all along about Swoop's secret backstory with Divebomb but simply doesn't care enough to bring it up. As a tough, no-nonsense warrior leading a group of close-knit brutes, Grimlock was certainly a very interesting choice for one of the leads in a comic. He also answered reader's letters directly in an awesome in-character fashion.

However, Grimlock did not really shine until his triumphant return into the US comics after Optimus Prime's death, where he stormed into a meeting and demanded leadership. After the obvious 'no', Grimlock intended to bring his Dinobots and bully the Autobots until they accept his leadership – a nice show of his cold, brutal ruthlessness. But at the same time the Decepticons deployed Trypticon, another gigantic robot tyrannosaur...and in this series, that equates power (why is Trypticon not on this list?). Trypticon single-handedly disabled the entire Autobot army, and while Grimlock was prepared to allow Trypticon to 'soften up' the Autobots first, when a human gets threatened Grimlock and the Dinobots ended up challenging the Decepticon and forcing him to retreat. Afterwards the Autobots acknowledge Grimlock as a leader due to showing all the necessary traits.

However, Grimlock took too many cues from his alternate mode's moniker, and sets off being a literal tyrant. Sporting a funky little golden crown, Grimlock adapts a slightly more… simple speech style, and starts ruling the Autobots with an iron fist, basically being your generic 'evil leader'. But his tenure is an interesting one! He makes it clear that he's a darker leader for a darker time, and while fairly inconsistent with his UK portrayals, it's an entertaining act to watch. In between saying simple lines like 'humans are weak', building torture punishment devices and sending the Protectobots to hunt down the deserted Blaster and Goldbug, Grimlock's tenure also saw them repair the Ark and making good on Grimlock's own assertion that they can be self-sufficient enough not to depend on humans for fuel. He also likes to pick crowns. The power went to Grimlock's head, and while being a jerk and sitting on a throne is expected, he certainly crossed the line when he basically sends off a bunch of kids to be executed. Blaster and Sky Lynx come to the rescue, but through a hostage situation which involves a bunch of robotic dinosaurs chasing a robotic dragon shuttle bird through an asteroid field, Blaster was forced to surrender and be strapped into the aforementioned torture device.

The author would like to add that this is another one of the first-ever comic he reads, and he finds Grimlock's ruthlessness and tyranny to be absolutely awesome. Here he is, one of the good guys, and he doesn't tolerate deserters – even ones as awesome as Blaster!

"Always walking down the line between good and evil, Grimlock has many dimensions to his personality."

--Anonymous

Of course, Grimlock's tyranny did not stay for too long, as another group of Autobots led by Fortress Maximus (or, as Grimlock calls him, Fruitloop Multipluck and variants thereof) and a challenge for leadership emerges. Thanks to Goldbug's suggestion, Fortress Maximus picks Blaster as a champion, and the two fight it out on the surface of the Moon while the entire Autobot cast watches. And the exceedingly awesome Decepticon leader, Ratbat (who did not make this list really what is wrong with all you people) does what any sane bad guy would do an orders a massive all-out attack on the unprepared Autobots.

Grimlock and Blaster's little fight had led them too far away from the rest of the apparently useless Autobots, and while Grimlock insists that the Fullstrength Motleypuss allied Autobots are tricking him, words from Blaster ends up going through the fog of megalomania that has clouded Grimlock's eyes through his tenure of leadership, and out comes what are probably the hardest words he has to say. "Me commander of Autobots. All Autobots. But me no act like it. Me forget them when me should protect them." Shaking hands with Blaster and deciding that their duel ended in a draw, the two manage to drive off the entire Decepticon army because they're just that awesome.

"Intelligent Grimlock is my preferred version, though dumb Grimlock can be fun too. A great letter answerer as well."

--Matthew Jones

Upon Optimus Prime's return, Grimlock relinquished his leadership in a nice bout of character development, though he and Fortress Maximus retain joint second-in-command positions of the Autobot army. However, things are quickly shaken up as the Underbase Saga commences, and an Underbase-powered Starscream straight-up murdered half the cast, including the Dinobots and Grimlock, rather unceremoniously.

Of course, this was merely the beginning for Grimlock's career in the Marvel comics, since he was resurrected as a Pretender by Ratchet. The fact that Simon Furman took over the writing duties for the US comic not long before his resurrection, as well as the fact that a new toy to promote existed in the same timeframe, are both happy coincidences that herald the return of the mighty Grimlock. Grimlock proceeded to participate in many of the fights to come, declaring himself a 'hero' (albeit the type that blows Decepticon bases straight to hell) and participating in battles against the Mayhem Attack Squad where a shot from Octopunch ricocheted of Grimlock's thick armour and awakened their god, Primus, setting off the chain of reactions that led to Unicron's return.

After a couple of showings where he battled and lost to new Decepticon leader Thunderwing, Grimlock felt into a bit of a guilty funk where he reflects on how he failed to stop Thunderwing, as well as a bit of a survivor's guilt thing going on when he laments the fact that the Dinobots are still dead. Despite Optimus forbidding him from doing so, Grimlock went rogue (despite being a bitch to Blaster about doing the same thing not so long ago) and ventured to Hydrus Four, obtaining the rumoured substance Nucleon. Grimlock is badass enough to test the fuel out on himself first before administering it to the Dinobot corpses, though he ignored cryptic warnings of side effects from various twisted, ruined mechaniods in the process.

Eventually reviving every other 1984-1985 era Autobot that was locked down in stasis with Nucleon (as well as accidentally waking up Megatron) Grimlock charged into battle against Unicron, ramming the Ark straight onto the bearded god's face, before leaping into the fray, bickering with Prowl like an old married couple. And in the aftermath of the battle with Unicron, Grimlock was named successor by Optimus Prime… and the Dinobot leader, having gone through a shit-ton of characterization since strutting around with a paper crown and chucking human kids into space, accepted it humbly. He was still Grimlock, though, so negotiations with the Decepticons ended up with him lobbing a can at Fangry's head. He also had to deal with Prowl, who found it his new life's mission to make sure Grimlock be a good leader -- and thus Grimlock had found his true opposite number. The side-effects of Nucleon showed up around this point, and Grimlock ended up paying the price of his ability to transform in order to revive his friends… kind of poetic, that.

"Big goofy dino or kickass space T-rex, your call – just don't ever be on his bad side."

--tec

Shrewd enough to predict backstabbing, Grimlock also ended up having an entire armada of ships in reserve when theirs were sabotaged by Bludgeon. However, his tendency to charge in head-first led to the entire Autobot army to be ambushed and massacred at Klo. With a small group of Autobots left, Grimlock was nevertheless able to resist and straight-up murder his way through a group of Decepticons until a resurrected Optimus Prime and the Last Autobot showed up and kind of revived all the Autobots so they win.

Grimlock was also the star of the UK-exclusive Earthforce comic which doesn't fit well in continuity, being put in charge of a group of Autobots on Earth after a shouting match with Optimus. Illustrating how he both respects and resents Optimus Prime seeing the bigger picture, as well as how far he has gone in terms of respecting Earth, Grimlock elects to stay. He immediately told Earthforce to toss the Autobot Code out of the window, and through a series of adorable sketches, Grimlock explains how they're not here to play buddy-buddy with the Decepticons until Megatron decides to quite becoming a warlord and become a farmer...they're there to beat them all up! And they do, somewhat, through a series of wacky comics.

Generation Two came, and while Grimlock's characterization was a bit of a rehash of what has already gone along in G1, he has a much, much more prominent role here, especially in the earlier issues, basically being the main Autobot fighter, and eventually realizing how his brutish devil-may-care strategy of charging straight at the enemy and ignoring Optimus Prime got several soldiers under his charge killed. Grimlock was forced to introspect himself and his attitude on leadership, and admitted that he envied the loyalty Optimus inspired in the Autobots, and he desired that – not leadership. It was a pretty awesome moment of characterization for Grimlock, though the parable ended up kind of getting deconstructed since Grimlock disobeying orders was exactly what saved Optimus Prime from dying while trying to negotiate with Megatron. Basically Grimlock does whatever he wants to, he just looks a bit now before leaping, I guess. Grimlock was kind of relegated to fight scenes afterwards, though by dint of being a sheer badass he inspired four new Decepticons to defect.

All in all, Marvel Grimlock, while initially seeming inconsistent, is one long, overarching story of a person's rise to glory...initially by cunning and brute force, followed by his intoxication by said glory and power, and as the proverb goes, power corrupts. Humility ensued, and while Grimlock never lost his bite, he mellowed out and began to make amends, even sacrificing his rank and later his ability to transform just to get them back. His eventual development led to his becoming leader by legitimate means, as well as being acknowledged as one of the greatest Autobots of all. And through all this, he is absolutely loyal to his Dinobot friends as well as the Autobot faction, and his relationship with Optimus Prime, while strained, also involved a lot of mutual respect and trust. His seeming inconsistency between Bob and Furman's various stories in the Marvel run actually crafts a rather beautiful journey of pride and falls, of second chances and redemptions, of humility and respect.

"Another all over the place character, but at his best was never less than fascinating."

--inflatable dalek

Sadly, Grimlock would later on be reduced to a mere caricature to an almost embarrassing degree in further reboots, particularly the Dreamwave one, thanks to the rather anal need of incorporating the cartoon's 'caveman' portrayal into it. But while Dreamwave's unpopularity among the fandom should never be understated, some voters, like Nemesis Scourge, found Dreamwave Grimlock's monologue about his role as a protector-turned-weapon quite deep and interesting. And while as with everything about Dreamwave it was awkwardly handled (as was Grimlock's short-lived defection to the Decepticons), the Dreamwave team (including Furman) attempted to give Grimlock characterization to make him a likable lead, But while there was a lot of potential in a former-Decepticon backstory, the execution ended up being no more than underwhelming in my opinion, being a weak caricature of both the Marvel comics and Sunbow cartoon versions.

The IDW comics were slightly better, if only because he was penned mostly by Furman. While Grimlock had a strong introduction, establishing his maverick tendencies by hunting down Shockwave, he ended up being kind of...superfluous to the main plot. Tearing his way through the human facility that captured him, Grimlock basically led a one-man fight against Scorponok, who had taken control of his Dinobots. It could have been a tragic 'I have to fight my old comrades' thing, or a heartwarming if cheesy 'my voice could get through' way, or something more cerebral… but in between fight scenes Furman seems to not really know what to do with Grimlock, and the Dinobots break up only to reform again in the next page no less than three times throughout the miniseries. It had again turned into a caricature of Grimlock's original cartoon and comic appearances, and it's rather off-putting at best.

"Despite being overused by Furman in modern comics and being an easy target for parody, Grimlock has a fantastic original toy and characterisation in Marvel UK & US G2 to match. Robot dinosaurs combine two things kids love, it really is that simple."

--Denyer

After beating everyone up and going through some awkwardly-written emotional dialogue, Grimlock let himself be arrested to clear his teammates of charges and disappeared from the series for years, until it was mentioned by Overlord that he was held in Garrus-9, keeping his sanity by force of sheer will. Recently he was reintroduced into the More than Meets the Eye comic, found by Misfire and the band of ragtag Decepticons with him, although the imprisonment seems to have jarred his mind loose. I am eagerly anticipating the return of the wacky group.

Other than that, Grimlock has also appeared in IDW's Beast Wars comics, and while his appearance was dreaded by many fans due to Furman's recent tendency to have Grimlock take over the plot, Grimlock ended up being just a strong Autobot-Maximal guy that only managed to slow down the nominal big bad. Though the Beast Wars run has a shit-ton of other problems, I don't really consider Grimlock to be one of them.

Grimlock also featured prominently in the likewise Furman-penned Regeneration One (no surprise there), taking the leading role in early issues and generally being a rogue badass that does not listen to orders, and generally ended up being more of the same repetition of modern Grimlock.

His popularity has persisted throughout the fandom, with multiple toys of the Dinobot being made through various lines. Transformers: Animated introduced a heavily cartoon-inspired Grimlock into their cartoon, and he is slated to appear in the fourth installation of Michael Bay's live-action movies.

"Wildly inconsistent but also wildly memorable."

--Anonymous

Well, I did expect Grimlock – the Transformers' equivalent of Wolverine in terms of plot armour and badassery – to show up in this list, but it's certainly a bit of a surprise for me personally for him to reach this high up. But I did vote for him, and as I said in my reasons for voting for him, I'm not really sure why Grimlock is here. But while he has a lot of cringe-worthy scenes over the years, he's got a hell lot of awesome ones as well...and at the end of the day the good ones offset the bad, and despite having so many other characters to choose from, Grimlock is one I cannot do without.

A lot of recent portrayals have jumped around from portraying him as an intellectually-challenged caveman or an emo guy, but I will always remember him as the crazy-powerful Dinobot leader that can beat the shit out of everyone.

ALL HAIL GRIMLOCK, KING!

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