Throughout the multiple continuities of the Transformers, Optimus Prime has died on several occasions. Usually the Autobot commander falls in battle or dies while executing a world-saving plan. There are numerous reasons behind Optimus's many deaths, though it is often because Hasbro - the company who own the Transformers franchise - wish to introduce a new character and/or market a new toy in the series. Because of his numerous deaths and ressurrections, Optimus Prime has been jokingly regarded as a Christ-like figure by Transformer fans.
Generation 1 DeathsEdit
The Transformers cartoon seriesEdit
This does not technically qualify as a death, but certainly as a rebirth. Iacon dockworker Orion Pax is greeted by Megatron, who requests the use of a warehouse to store unspecified materials. In reality, he is moving in his army of Decepticon drones to steal all the energon stored at the docks. When Orion protests, Megatron blasts him with his fusion cannon and mortally wounds him. Orion is later taken to Alpha Trion, who manages to save him and rebuild him into the future Autobot commander, Optimus Prime.
Transformers: The MovieEditWhen Optimus Prime leads reinforcements to Autobot City on Earth, he ploughs through a squad of Decepticons to reach Megatron. In truck mode, he runs down Thrust and Dirge, then transforms to gun down several others. When he catches up with Megatron, the two adversaries decide to settle their rivalry once and for all. The battle between them is fierce, with Megatron having his fusion cannon disabled and his armour pulverized, and Optimus having his torso slashed with an energon-saber and impaled with a large scrap of metal. Optimus manages to gain the upper hand and has Megatron cornered at gunpoint. Megatron notices a blaster lying under some upturned deck plating and pretends to beg for mercy as he tries to reach it. The Autobot Hot Rod spots Megatron reaching for the blaster and tackles him, blocking Optimus's shot. Megatron takes advantage of this, holding Hot Rod in an arm lock and grabbing the blaster, then proceeds to shoot Optimus several times. After casting Hot Rod aside, Megatron is about to finish Optimus when Prime gathers a second wind, quickly slamming Megatron over the edge of the deck and falling several levels. Optimus then keels over and is later taken for repairs after the Decepticons have retreated. Perceptor announces that Optimus's wounds are fatal and nothing can be done for him. As his last act before death, Optimus passes on the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus. His optics then flicker out and the colour fades from his entire body as he passes.
In the Season 3 episode "Dark Awakening", Optimus Prime was revived by the Quintessons as part of a plan to destroy the Autobots. As Rodimus Prime and his crew were pursued by Galvatron, they jettisoned in a life pod and took refuge at the Autobot Orbital Mausoleum, where the fallen Autobot heroes of the Great Cybertronian War had been laid to rest, including Prime. The Decepticons boarded the mausoleum, but were attacked by the ressurrected Optimus. Eager to take the weight of command off his shoulders, Rodimus surrendered the Matrix to Optimus, who took it and then attacked him and the others. Optimus activated the mausoleum's self-destruct sequence, sending it on a collision course with a nearby red dwarf. He escaped aboard a shuttlecraft and returned to Cybertron to mobilize the Autobot fleet to attack the Quintessons' new home base. However, this was all part of the Quintessons' plan, and the planetoid base was really a decoy that would detonate and obliterate the Autobot fleet. Hot Rod and his crew survived the mausoleum's destruction by jury-rigging a damaged shuttle to get them back to Cybertron. From there, they took an Interceptor craft and caught up with the fleet, but were fired upon under Optimus's orders. The team managed to survive and boarded Optimus's flagship, and Hot Rod fought against Optimus. Hot Rod was nearly killed, but Optimus managed to fight against the Quintesson mind control and came to his senses. He returned the Matrix to Hot Rod and ordered the fleet to return to Cybertron. He then piloted the flagship on a collision course with the Quintessons' detonator, destroying it and himself.
Optimus Primal DeathsEdit
Optimus Primal is the leader of the Maximals in the Beast Wars continuity, which is set in the far future of the G1 cartoon universe. Primal is a direct descendant of Optimus Prime and has inherited many - if not all - of his ancestor's traits, including a predisposition for self-sacrifice.
When prehistoric Earth was threatened by the alien Vok's Planet Buster, Optimus Primal manned a modified stasis pod that had been outfitted with a transwarp cell, intending to set the pod on a collision course with the weapon then abandon the pod as it neared its target. However, Megatron had tampered with the pod so that it would not open once sealed, and so Primal was trapped inside as the pod approached the Planet Buster. As Megatron gloated, Primal cursed his name before being annihilated in the explosion. This was not the end, however, as a transwarp window was opened when the Planet Buster exploded. After finding a Maximal protoform with no spark, Rhinox saw an opportunity to bring Optimus Primal back. He established a means of projecting his core consciousness into the ether in order to find Primal's spark, which posed great risk to himself. However, he was successful and retrieved Optimus from the Allspark before the transwarp window closed. Optimus was then revived using the protoform body the Maximals had found, and returned with a new Transmetal form just in time to stop the Predacons from killing his team.
In the final episode of Beast Machines, Optimus Primal fought Megatron for the last time, with the fate of Cybertron hanging in the balance. Primal was on the verge of reformatting the planet by tapping its organic core and allowing technorganic life to flourish, whereas Megatron stood ready to destroy the organic core. The fierce battle between the two rivals ended when Optimus plunged into the organic core, dragging Megatron down with him and killing them both.
Transformers: Revenge Of The FallenEdit
In the second live-action Transformers film, The Fallen ordered Megatron and Starscream to kidnap the Autobots' human ally Sam Witwicky. Sam's mind had absorbed the knowledge of the Allspark after he had touched a fragment of it left behind after the events of the previous film, and the Decepticons wished to extract that information to find a new source of energon to restore their race. Optimus Prime and the Autobots attacked the warehouse where Megatron was hiding, giving Sam and his girlfriend Mikaela the chance to escape. Sam fled into the woods and the Decepticons followed, but Optimus refused to let them anywhere near the boy. Prime fought valiantly, but in the end he was ambushed by Megatron, who impaled him through the back and blasted straight through his spark core. With Optimus dead, the Prime lineage died as well, leaving no one who could stop the Fallen in his plan to destroy Earth. Optimus's body was recovered by NEST, who kept it until Sam could find the Matrix of Leadership, sealed within the Tomb of the Primes. A heated battle took place in the Sahara desert over the Matrix and the Fallen's ancient machine, the Sun Harvester. Sam was apparently killed in the firefight, but experienced a vision whilst unconscious and spoke with the ancient Primes, who told him to fuse the Matrix with Optimus's spark. Sam was resusitated by Mikaela, and then stabbed the Matrix into Optimus's chest, restoring him to life.