Why We Love Starscream

Opportunist. I like that, Turmoil. You’re not the first person to call me that, but I like it.” Starscream Robots In Disguise #16 (Apr. 2013)

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You know who he is. If you have ever seen a Transformers cartoon from any of the series not containing Beasts or the words Robots In Disguise, you know which one he is. He’s the guy usually just behind Megatron (or even right beside him), he’s the robot who is sometimes red, more often than not a schemer, generally traitorous, always sniveling, was honorable once but has since recovered, overconfident, egotistical, and incredibly irresistible to fans.

 

From the very beginning Starscream has been a much loved part of what makes Transformers great. He is a compelling, complex character that leapt from the television screen with the help of the legendary Chris Latta’s vocal talent.

He is everything that we as people despise. He is unreliable, arrogant, deceitful, villainous, angry, hate filled, and one of the most popular characters in all of Transformers. When anyone is asked to name a favorite character; Starscream is the name people come back with almost as much as they do Optimus Prime.

But why? Why is this character so loved when all of his traits tend toward that part of us that we revile so much? Well, since you’re still reading this article; let’s look break it down.

StarscreamJetForm

YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Design

The ALT. Mode

Let’s face it, planes are cool. Jet’s especially. There’s a reason why Top Gun was a popular film (and it wasn’t because of the acting).

top-gun-cruise-crowd-volleyball-1024x564

Well… two reasons really.

Jets are fast, loud, deadly, sleek, silver, and they allow a person to fly at speeds of superhuman ability.

 So it certainly doesn’t hurt that Starscream is not just a fighter jet in most continuities (to be fair when he’s not a jet he tends to be a Cybertronian Jet), but the fastest jet out of them all. He can reach speeds that Skywarp and Thundercracker (his fellow “seekers”) can’t. Sure they are much more fierce and warrior like, but they can’t go like Starscream can.  We as people love things that can book it at speeds unheard of. So to say that the fastest jet is the most popular is a good indication of why some of us love Megatron’s second in command.

Compare

Compare

The Robot

Starscream is a simple design. With all the bells and whistles, he is one of the simpler looking of the Transformers. The black helmet, the pale white face, he is the robotic version of Ward Cleaver .

He's still waiting for a call on that "Leave It To 'Screamer" pilot.

He’s still waiting for a call on that “Leave It To ‘Screamer” pilot.

However, standing next to Megatron, Soundwave, Shockwave, he simply stands out.

The design is a main reason. The wide wings, the stripes, he takes up room. Soundwave loves the shadows , but Starscream embraces that limelight. He veritably shines.

Which leads to one of the other reasons he is so memorable: his red color doesn’t hurt. You ask any police department  what kind of vehicle gets stolen the most and only one thing remains constant: Red cars are always stolen more than any other color car. It’s because red is not just a primary color, but one of the main colors your eye perceives (the other is green).

Yep, can't take your eyes off of it... because of the greenness.

Yep, can’t take your eyes off of it… because of the greenness.

This causes your eye to focus on red objects more than other colors. The bright shiny color is attractive on it’s own, but the fact that it is the bright color your eye perceives naturally makes it a color you can’t help but notice.

Now look at Starscream,  what is his main color trait. I’ll give you a hint; it isn’t white. He’s red and white but the white tends to fade in the background due to the primary red eclipsing the neutral effect of the white.  The eye will always find the color red. It’s why when he stands next to the mainly silver Megatron, most people aren’t focusing on the leader of the Decepticons but on the self-styled “Emperor of Destruction”

Hail to the King; baby.

Hail to the ‘Scream; baby.

This is why, even though he has the same basic design as three seekers

MmteSeekers2

Well, Three Being A Relative Term

He sticks out from his seeker brethren.

THE ATTITUDE

You’re known throughout the galaxy. A conniver, a liar, and a killer. In short a—Decepticon.“- Sky-Byte Robots In Disguise #5 (May 2012)

Let’s face it; Starscream’s a dick. But he is a dick with a big set of balls. How else do you describe a guy who willingly tells his boss that he’s just waiting for him to die to take his place (or even that he will do the deed himself when the big guy is not looking).

And when this is your boss; them balls are giant cluster bombs

And when this is your boss; them balls are giant cluster bombs

No one ever really wants to be friends with a dick but they do tend to attract fans. Just ask Russell Crowe {Pic of Russell. Come on, some wings and he’s a dead ringer}

But there is something mildly admirable about a guy who can scheme and plot and make no bones about it. We don’t necessarily root for the guy but you can’t help but admit he is entertaining.

Part of what makes him entertaining also is knowing that he is wildly unable to back up his boastful claims to take control. He’s that underdog, a huge dick version, but an underdog none the less and  who does not secretly pull for the underdog? Precisely. Starscream is a dickish underdog; like Rudy.

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Look Kids, It’s  Starscream’s Pretender Shell

 

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Look Kids It’s Sean Astin

Nearly every second of his day, Starscream is scheming to take power from Megatron. The rest of the time, he’s actually attempting to do so. Even the Armada version of him (the version that was the most noble and the least scheming version) attempted to wrest control from Megatron eventually.

However, no matter what he does or what he thinks Starscream will never be able to truly wrest control away from his megalomaniacal leader.

We all know this and so in an odd way his steadfast refusal to give up makes him somewhat admirable. Everyone loves an underdog.

WFC_Starscream

Who Loves Ya Baby

The Voice:

Let’s face it, Starscream is that voice. The same reason people still remember and love Cobra Commander is the same reason they love and remember Starscream; because Chris Latta was ridiculously talented and that voice was immediately memorable.

Never doubt the power of nostalgia. But when you think about the classic series only three voices stand out: Prime, Megatron,  and Starscream. The other voices just tend to blend in the background, but these three stood out from the rest.

It didn’t hurt that they were a main focus for many of stories either. But let’s face it; Prime and Megatron were the leaders. The big good vs. the big bad. Where did Starscream fit in? He was the guy who tried to take power and had many stories focused on that very thing. Why? Because Starscream was a favorite.

His color, his design, and his character. And that character was created by that voice; the voice of Chris Latta.

I Voice Who?

I Voice Who?

Every Starscream since G1 has copied Latta’s style of speech. Dobson,  Kenny, and Blum all use a oice with that Latta sound to it. Blum’s version is the only real big variation but his Starscream is still a high register from his normal work.

The voice is memorable; which makes the character memorable.

 

Wherever Starscream goes (now that Prime has ended) from here, the one thing I know is that he will be a character that is loved by all no matter who is voicing him.

 

Awesomeness Incoming BIIIIIIITCH!!!

Awesomeness Incoming  SUCKA!!

So why do we love Starscream? It’s all of these things.  We love him for all of these reasons and more. His voice, his personality, the way he leads a group of warriors without being one himself. It’s his simple intelligence (a rarity when it comes to Decepticons), mixed with ambition. Take this with the fact that he is a huge sufferer of delusions of grandeur.

It’s that intangible. The vibe we get from him when he speaks, the actions he takes, all of these things we focus on is due to his charisma, this thing that we can’t fully specify but that is represented in everything listed above.

It’s a simple thing to say” we love Starscream because we love Starscream”. But when you get down to the reasons why, there are nothing but options and possibilities as to why.

 

Starscream: Take Your Pick

Starscream: Take Your Pick

  • Screamer has always been my favorite character, as I child I loved his colors due to the fact they mirrored the American Flag and I didn’t want the most popular character, Optimus Prime. But like you’ve pointed out we all love an underdog and I’ve always been secretly rooting for Starscream. I was so happy when he finally achieved his goal in the ’86 movie, if only for a few brief moments. I still think to this day he is one of the most interesting and complex characters in the mythos.

  • Nice article. Nice to see the artwork I had part of well used. :3

    • Tracy Isenhour

      I cannot like the above statement enough 🙂

  • DrNemmo

    This is all true. Also, he is one of the most approachable of the big robots given his tendency to work with anyone in order to achieve his goals.