The series begins when Optimus and his crew, after picking up a disillusioned ninja named Prowl, are sent to clear rubble from a space bridge passage. There, the Autobots stumbled upon the Allspark and are immediately attacked by Megatron's battle cruiser, the Nemesis. Through treachery by Megatron's second-in-command, Starscream, Megatron was fragged and the Autobots crashed on Earth in the early 21st century. After being in stasis under Lake Erie for 50 years, the Autobots awaken in Detroit of the near future, where they immediately discovered humans in need and became heroes of the city. During the battle for the possession of the Allspark, Optimus goes offline after defeating Starscream, only to be revived by Sari Sumdac and her Allspark-infused key.
During the war, Optimus was killed in battle by Megatron, but was eventually resurrected. The Fight Begins Coming to the dire realization that the war against the Decepticons had become a never-ending arms race, Optimus Prime challenged Megatron to single-combat, with their troops acting as witnesses to their terrible and final clash. The battle between both faction leaders ended with Megatron beaten down and goading Optimus into delivering the kill shot...
Hot Rod appears in All Hail Megatron , while traveling through space by himself, he found himself under attack by the Torment, a Decepticon warship crewed by Bludgeon and the Pretender Monsters. He was shot down, but managed to transmit a distress call to the Autobot starship Trion, which came to his rescue. After the Decepticons were chased off, Hot Rod joined the crew of the Trion. When the Decepticons' galaxy-wide assault hit, the Trion was shot down over Cybertron. Hot Rod sent out a distress signal and was ecstatic when he ran into some other Autobots. Hot Rod was taken back to base and relayed the story of how he and his other crew-mates from the Trion arrived on Cybertron, having been diverted there by Decepticon ships and forced to crash land. Once on the surface, Hot Rod sent out his distress signal and was so sure someone heard it. Kup arrived with the rest of the Trion's crew at that point, just in time to tell Hot Rod of course no one heard his message. After the Autobots narrowly avoided the Insecticon swarm and Sunstreaker sacrificed himself, Hot Rod jumped to Drift's defense when he was being insulted by Bumblebee. When the Autobots were later rescued by Omega Supreme, Hot Rod was glad that he sent out the distress call. He was then ferried to Earth with the other Autobots aboard Omega.
Generation 1 Optimus Prime has appeared in numerous video games since the introduction of the Transformers series. He makes a cameo in the 1999 Beast Wars Transmetals video game for Nintendo 64, where he is killed by Megatron at the end of the campaign, showing what would have happened in the Beast Wars series with a Predacon victory. Prime is also one of the playable characters in the 2003 Japan-only Transformers game for the PlayStation 2 and the 2010 Transformers: War for Cybertron. Optimus Prime is also playable in the Hasbro Net Jet Transformers fighting game Transformers Battle Universe. Three versions of Optimus Prime are playable characters, including the first generation incarnation, his incarnations from the 2007 live-action film, and the incarnation from Transformers Animated. In this game, Optimus Primal is also a playable character. He is a regular character in the Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2 2003 fighting game DreamMix TV World Fighters. He appeared as a boss in a simple Flash-based video game on the Hasbro web site.
He now comes with a half-translucent gun which lights up and expands MechTech-style when the lever is pulled. Bizarrely, the main section of the weapon is sculpted to resemble Prime's forearm, with the unfolding part being his in-show gun. Additionally, he comes with an opaque sword resembling the Star Saber, which he can wield two-handed. The gun features a peg on its underside and a port on each side, while the sword features a peg and peg-hole on its hilt in addition to its 5mm handle. In robot mode, either accessory can mount on his hands, on either of his shoulders, or be pegged into either of his half-translucent forearms. In vehicle mode, the top of the vehicle mode cab can also fold back to reveal two additional peg holes, and there are three peg holes (including the fifth wheel hitch) on the back section, although the hitch tends to open up and not hold very well.
The TakaraTomy "Autobot Alliance" release of this toy has some significant differences, including casting the red plastic in a darker shade, making his shin and wheel joints grey rather than Hasbro's bronze, painting the Matrix of Leadership silver, and swapping out the dual energon swords for battle hooks, similar to 2010's Leader class Optimus Prime. However, due to the Japanese release retaining the Hasbro packaging, the box still advertises the dual energon swords rather than the hooks. He retains the masked face used for the Hasbro release.