In Search of Ancient GoBonauts

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Challenge of the GoBots ep 31
(Broadcast Order)
Challenge of the GoBots ep 36
(Story Order)
AncientGobonauts history of the evil one.jpg
"In Search of Ancient GoBonauts"
Production code 0142-8530
Production company Hanna-Barbera
Airdate October 28, 1985
Story by Mark Young, Phil Harnage, Jeff Segal and Kelly Ward
Teleplay by Mark Young
Animation studio Wang Film Productions

Evidence that a legendary evil GoBot visited Earth in ancient times sends the Guardians and Renegades on a race to locate his tomb and the deadly super-weapon within.


AncientGobonauts gobotic device.jpg

On an archaeological dig in Ecuador, UNECOM reserve officer Doctor Cunningham discovers an alien spacraft buried beneath a 6,000 year old pyramid, and a strange relic that shifts shape at his touch. With Leader-1 and Turbo away on a mission, General Newcastle calls Scooter in to examine the object, which the little Guardian is able to identify as an ancient GoBotic device. The fact that the spaceship predates known GoBotic presence on Earth by several thousand years causes Scooter to recall an old legend about a sinister GoBot known only as "The Evil One," who was exiled from GoBotron by the gods when his mighty weapon, the Dark Heart, brought "a thousand years of darkness" to the planet. Though Scooter doubts the legend could be real, the possibility that the weapon exists cannot be ignored, and he, Nick, and A.J. are assigned to accompany Cunningham back to Ecuador to investigate.

AncientGobonauts evilone holo message.jpg

Once the group has cut their way inside the spaceship, Scooter realizes that the vessel is a drone ship used to send distress signals, rather than a manned craft. Locating the ship's message bank, he recovers a holo-cube that plays a message confirming his worst fears: the Evil One is real, and his Dark Heart lies hidden somewhere on Earth, still ready to fulfill the ancient prophecy that claims it "will wage war until none can fight." Unfortunately, that's good news to Cy-Kill, who has been tipped off to the discovery of the ship by a Renegade spy inside UNECOM, and now arrives to force Scooter into handing over the message cube by taking Nick prisoner. Rather than let Scooter give up the cube, Nick wrestles free and hits the self-destruct button on the drone ship, forcing everyone to flee back up to the surface. Cy-Kill still demands that the cube be handed over, to which Scooter responds by tossing it back down the excavation shaft. Cop-Tur nearly goes after it before coming to his senses just moments before the ship blows up. Scooter and the humans try to escape using the blast as a distraction, but Scooter winds up falling into a pit of quicksand, allowing the Renegades to catch up to them. Fortunately, Leader-1 and Turbo arrive to help their friends, but after a short battle, the Renegades manage to escape by collapsing the pyramid on top of the heroes.

After the Guardians dig themselves out of the rubble, Scooter shares a recording he made of the hologram message. Matt recognizes the shapes in the message as the Nazca Lines of Peru, which Scooter concludes must mark the resting place of the Evil One and his Dark Heart. The Guardians head for the Nazca Plain, but unfortunately the Renegades' spy informs them of this new discovery, and the villains are also soon on their way there.

AncientGobonauts darkheart.jpg

Buried beneath a rock formation on the Nazca Plain, the Guardians unearth the entrance to the Evil One's mountain-sized spaceship, inside which they discover his lifeless remains. They are welcomed by a recording of the Evil One's voice that leads them to the Dark Heart, disguised in the form of a Sphinx statue: not a mystical weapon, as the legends claim, but an antimatter device that almost destroyed GoBotron, forcing the Evil One to flee across the stars to Earth. At Cunningham's touch, the Sphinx reshapes itself into the Dark Heart weapon... whereupon Cy-Kill reveals himself to have been present all along, kept invisible by a portable stealth device! He demands Cunningham hand the Dark Heart over, and Cunningham, who turns out to have been the Renegades' UNECOM spy all along, is only happy to oblige. Crasher and Cop-Tur appear in the doorway to cover Cy-Kill's withdrawal, but the Guardians collapse the exit to prevent him from leaving. After taunting the Guardians a little while invisible, Cy-Kill decides the time has come to unleash the Dark Heart's power against them—until Leader-1 convinces him that the universe-shattering ramifications of initiating an antimatter chain reaction will ensure that Cy-Kill replaces the Evil One as the greatest monster in history. Visibly perturbed, Cy-Kill takes a moment to reconsider, and in that moment, Cunningham springs forward and activates the Dark Heart himself, gleefully deranged at the prospect of being remembered as the man who ended existence.

AncientGobonauts antimatter alliance.jpg

The Dark Heart's antimatter beam strikes the Evil One's body, and the chain reaction begins to spread from it throughout the entire chamber. The Guardians realize that they must stop the reaction there and then before it can spread too far, and even the Renegades are convinced to abandon attempts at retreat to join the heroes in pumping the energy of their hand-blasters into the encroaching antimatter wave. One by one, each GoBot's energy steadily depletes to the point that they have to give up and withdraw outside, until at last, only Leader-1 is left within the tomb-ship. As everyone watches, the Evil One's ship and the rock formation hiding it explode in an antimatter fireball, the reaction successfully contained by Leader-1 at the cost of his life. Or so everyone thinks until, a moment later, the weakened Guardian leader emerges from the crater, saved from death by the grace of his personal forcefield. Lacking enough energy to continue the fight, the Renegades withdraw, causing Leader-1 to muse that the Evil One's prophecy has come true after all—thanks to the energy expenditure of stopping the Dark Heart, none of them can fight. The Guardians board the Command Center and head for home, preparing to take Cunningham to prison, and to hide the Dark Heart, back in its Sphinx form, in plain sight in a museum.

Featured characters[edit]

(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)


AncientGobonauts evilone.jpg

"Give me the message cube or the boy is confetti!"

Cy-Kill threatens to feed Nick into Cop-Tur's rotors

"You have seen my message and understood. You have come to save me... to praise me... to worship me!"
"This guy sure has a biiig ego..."

The Evil One's recording and Turbo

"He knew he couldn't win, so he fled..."
"Banished, for eternity! But what is eternity... to a god?"

Leader-1 and the Evil One's recording

"This guy's a real loon..."
"Perhaps... but I'm the loon who's going to bring the world to an end!"

Matt Hunter and Doctor Cunningham

"Cy-Kill, don't just stand there, help us!"
"I will not participate in my own destruction!"
"If you don't help us, there'll be no Earth or GoBotron—nothing but the void!"
" convinced me."

Leader-1 sways Cy-Kill into helping fight the antimatter reaction


AncientGobonauts doctor cunningham.jpg
AncientGobonauts renegade peekaboo.jpg
AncientGobonauts evilones entrance.jpg
AncientGobonauts finding the darkheart.jpg

Continuity notes[edit]

  • Though odd to hear mentioned so off-handedly, Scooter's remark that GoBots have been visiting Earth for over 200 years is quite internally consistent with the rest of the series. The GoBots were already aware of Earth before departing for the planet in the pilot episode, and later in the series, "Et Tu, Cy-Kill" will show that they had Earthly vehicular forms many, many years before the events of the series began.
  • In broadcast order, this episode features the first reference to the Master Renegade, the original leader of the Renegade terrorist organization in the days before the organic GoBeings became GoBots, who Leader-1 says "disappeared." The Master Renegade will go on to appear in the series in the "GoBotron Saga" mini-series, which chronologically takes place before this episode, and which details the story behind his disappearance.
  • This episode allows us to date evolution of GoBeings into GoBots to in excess of 6,000 years ago, since the pyramid beneath which the Evil One's drone ship is buried is "over 6,000 years old," and its construction had to be preceded by all the time the Evil One spent on Earth and GoBotron.
  • The portable stealth device used by Cy-Kill this episode (a ray gun that projects a stealth field around its target) was previously employed by BuggyMan in "Time Wars."

Real-world references[edit]

  • The title is a reference to a 1973 documentary called In Search of Ancient Astronauts, which was itself based on the book Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Däniken. The idea of the Nazca Lines as alien landing strips was among the pseudohistory popularized by the book and TV special.
  • While soaring through the air after ramping off a fallen tree during the jungle battle, Turbo emits a Tarzan yell.

Continuity and plotting errors[edit]

  • Scooter describes how the Evil One terrorized Old GoBotron—a term which we know from "Lost on GoBotron" refers to the original planet of GoBotron, before the metal shell seen in modern times that gives it its "apple core" shape was built around it. But "The GoBotron Saga" shows us that by the time GoBeings became GoBots, the modern metallic GoBotron had already been created. But perhaps that's just a fictionalized part of the myth.
  • The self-destruct button was inside the ship when Doctor Cunningham found it, but outside when Nick pressed it. Unless the Ancient GoBonauts built self-destruct mechanisms in arms' reach at all times...just in case.
  • When discussing the fulfillment of the Evil One's prophecy, Leader-1 refers to the Dark Heart as the "Black Heart".

Animation and technical errors[edit]

  • If you're going to draw a ridiculous '80s Australian stereotype, you could at least give him the accent. Go big or go home, Hanna-Barbera.
  • When the Renegade's computer image of the relic rotates, the luminous glowing effect surrounding it doesn't rotate with it.
  • When Nick peers through the entrance to the drone ship while Cy-Kill and Cop-Tur hold him hostage, he's smiling. You've got nothing to be happy about, Nick!
  • The "quicksand" Scooter falls in is drawn and colored like it's just a pool of water.
  • Cy-Kill's stubble briefly disappears before he and Crasher transform to escape the Guardians in the jungle, then again when he skids to a halt to throw mud over Turbo.
  • Cy-Kill doesn't have his portable stealth device out when he rematerializes last.
  • Cy-Kill's teeth are white when he ponders Leader-1's warning, occasionally blinking to their correct yellow.


  • It's adorable how loyal Cop-Tur runs ten paces back into the exploding ship to get the holo-cube before going "What am I DOING?!"
  • In 2015, Fun Publications' "Ask Vector Prime" column would retroactively reveal that the Evil One was a GoBots incarnation of the multiversal Transformer entity known as The Fallen. Like the Evil One, The Fallen was also a "mythical" ancient being who had also been cast from his homeworld for turning on his brethren, and who, in some stories, also had a connection to Earth's pyramids.

Home video releases[edit]


2015 — Challenge of the GoBots — The Series, Volume One (Warner Archive Collection, USA)