Rather than import The Rebirth three-part mini-series as a conclusion, Takara, the Japanese producers of the Transformers toyline, opted instead to create a spin-off of the original series by creating the full-length 35-episode series, Transformers: The Headmasters (two additional clips episodes were produced after the fact for direct-to-video release). Supplanting The Rebirth's position in Japanese continuity, The Headmasters occurred one year after The Return of Optimus Prime, introducing the titular characters to the Transformers universe in a different way. Whereas in western fiction, the Headmasters result from the merging of a Transformer with an organic alien being from the planet Nebulos, the Headmasters of the Japanese series are a group of small Cybertronians who departed the planet millions of years ago and crash-landed on the inhospitable planet Master. To survive its harsh climate, a select few Cybertronians constructed larger bodies called "Transtectors," to which they connected as the heads.
Six years after the decisive battle against Unicron, in 2011, when a group of rebellious Headmasters led by Weirdwolf joined with Galvatron's Decepticons in an attack on Cybertron, the Autobot Headmasters, led by Fortress return to their home planet to aid in its defense. The situation soon gets worse when it is revealed that Vector Sigma, the super-computer at the planet's heart, was destabilizing, and Optimus Prime again sacrifices his life to save Cybertron. This soon proves to be only delaying the inevitable, however, when a bomb attack instigated by Scorponok turns Cybertron into a burnt-out, inhospitable husk. Rodimus Prime departs to search for a new planet for the Transformers to live on, leaving Fortress in command, operating from the planet Athenia. Meanwhile, Scorponok replaces Galvatron - who had vanished in the explosion - as Decepticon leader, constructing a personal Transtector so that he can battle Fortress's own giant form, Fortress Maximus, and redubbing himself MegaZarak.
Although populated mainly with new characters, The Headmasters featured characters from all previous seasons, including new versions of Soundwave and Blaster, rebuilt after a duel that destroyed them both as Soundblaster and Twincast. Human Daniel Witwicky and his young Autobot friend Wheelie also played major roles in the series, serving as the youthful characters for the audience to identify with. More new characters were introduced when Galvatron returned to leadership and the Decepticons embarked on a space voyage, ransacking planets in a chain of stories that introduced the Horrorcons and Autobot and Decepticon Clones. Later, the Decepticon ninja six-changer Sixshot kill Ultra Magnus, and the Autobot Headmasters finish off Galvatron. When the Decepticons then return to Master, refugees from the planet are caught in a plasma bomb accident that fuses them to the arms of several Autobots and Decepticons, creating the Targetmasters, and in a final move, Scorponok attempts the destruction of Earth, only to be foiled, thanks in part to a traitorous Sixshot.
- Optimus Prime: Leader of the Autobots, dies once again.
- Hot Rod / Rodimus Prime: Takes over command once again.
- Ultra Magnus: Autobot Earth Commander, later dies at the hands of Sixshot.
- Blaster / Twincast
Sunstreaker Skyfire Ironhide Brawn Bumblebee Red Alert
- Alpha Trion
- Aerialbots / Superion
- Protectobots / Defensor
- Autobot Triple Changers
- Technobots / Computron
- Trainbots / Raiden
- Shouki: Leader of the Trainbots.
- Autobot Clones
- Autobot Headmasters
- Fortress Maximus: Leader of the Headmaster Autobots.
- Battleship Maximus
- Fortress Maximus: Leader of the Headmaster Autobots.
- Autobot Targetmasters
- Sixshot: Decepticon Earth Commander, and Six Changer.
- Soundwave / Soundblaster
- Decepticon Triple Changers
- Constructicons / Devastator
- Stunticons / Menasor
- Combaticons / Bruticus
- Predacons / Predaking
- Terrorcons / Abominus
- Hun-Grrr: Leader of the Terrorcons.
- Decepticon Headmasters
- Decepticon Targetmasters
- Decepticon Clones
- Spike Witwicky
- Carly Witwicky
- Daniel Witwicky
Never professionally released in the United States, The Headmasters was dubbed into English in Hong Kong for broadcast on the Malaysian TV channel, RTM1, and later the Singapore satellite station, StarTV, where it attained greater fame, leading it to often be referred to as the "StarTV dub." The dub is, however, infamous for its poor quality, full of mistranslations and incorrect names (Blaster becomes "Billy", Blurr becomes known as "Wally", Hot Rod is "Rodimus Prime", the Matrix becomes "the Power Pack", Spike is "Sparkle", Soundblaster is "New Soundwave", Metroplex is called "Phillip", and Fortress Maximus is known as "Spaceship Bruce"), to infamous quotes such as "I'll send you express to hell", and "Fortress Maximus has come himself". The dubs were created by a small group of individuals with little knowledge of the material and less talent. This dub has seen some DVD releases in the United Kingdom, and the entire series was released in a dual-language format on 26 September 2005. The series was broadcasted on the British Television channel AnimeCentral from September 13, 2007.a fan-dub of several episodes of headmasters by the crew of www.tfcog.com
- "The History of Transformers on TV". IGN. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- The Headmasters at the Transformers Wiki
- World of Transformers
- TF Archive
- Transformers Headmasters episode coverage at Random Action Hour