Transformers Are Non-Binary Now

In Transformers: Earth Spark, Nightshade introduces themself as non-binary, the first for a character in this franchise.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

The Transformers franchise just introduced its first non-binary character. Known as Nightshade in the computer-animated Earth Spark series, the revelation is made during the two-part finale, “Age of Evolution.” As Optimus walks his team through his plan to raid Mandroid’s lair, the Autobot leader uses random household objects and toys to represent the terrain and his allies. That’s when Nightshade notices a penguin bobblehead and asks if the figurine can represent them.

But Optimus hesitates as he doesn’t know which pronouns to use for the Terran Transformer. So Mo steps in after exchanging a knowing nod with her friend and says, “Nightshade’s pronouns are they/them.” The Autobot confidently follows up the reveal with, “He or she just doesn’t fit with who I am.” While some see the inclusion of a non-binary character as a celebration, others feel like it’s just another example of writers ignoring the past in favor of appeasing social justice warriors.

But Nightshade isn’t the first Transformer who’s a member of the LGBTQ community. It’s been previously established that two characters in the IDW Transformers comics, Anode and Lugare, are a transgender couple, Yahoo! News reports. Interestingly, the franchise’s debate about gender has been ongoing since the 1980s, as writers slowly introduced new identity concepts which saw the robots turning into appliances or animals – and not just vehicles.

The first female Transformers were introduced in 1985 during an episode called “The Search for Alpha Trion” in the second season of the Generation One cartoon series. This allowed characters like Arcee to appear in Transformers: The Movie, but no toys were ever made for female Autobots. However, autonomous robots needing to be classified by a specific gender is completely unnecessary. Especially since new Transformers were created with the Allspark in most continuities.

This caused some fans to argue that all Transformers should be regarded as genderless instead. Now, with gender and sexual identity being two separate things, and since Hasbro sells the toys using he or she pronouns, new media for the franchise has seen gay, lesbian, and transgender robots introduced. Hopefully, these characters help children familiarize themselves with various gender identities and creates a future with less prejudice.

Meanwhile, fans can catch all 10 episodes of Transformers: Earth Spark on Paramount+ and Nickelodeon. Developed by Dale Malinowski, Ant Ward, and Nicole Dubuc, the series is set years after the civil war between the Autobots and the Decepticons. The story begins when the Malto family relocates from Philadelphia to the small town of Witwicky, Pennsylvania.

There, young Robby and Mo Malto befriend a new breed of earth-born Transformers known as Terrans. With the help of cyber-sleeves, the children establish an emotional connection with Twitch and Trash. Mentored by Bumblebee, the kids work with the Autobots and Megatron (via the GHOST organization) to protect the planet from the remaining Decepticon forces and any other threat that comes their way, Bounding Into Comics reports.

Transformers: Earth Spark is owned and distributed by Hasbro, and is a co-production between Hasbro’s Entertainment One and Nickelodeon Animation Studio. The series debuted on Paramount+ with its first 10 episodes on November 11, 2022.