Tarnished Image

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Challenge of the GoBots ep 30
(Broadcast Order)
Challenge of the GoBots ep 35
(Story Order)
TarnishedImage guardian attack.jpg
"Tarnished Image"
Production code 0142-8538
Production company Hanna-Barbera
Airdate October 25, 1985
Story by Jeff Segal, Kelly Ward, and David Schwartz
Teleplay by David Schwartz
Animation studio Wang Film Productions

The Renegades disguise themselves as the Guardians to ruin the heroes' reputation on Earth.


TarnishedImage hologram projector.jpg

A malfunctioning stealth device means that it looks like curtains for the Renegades as they attempt to flee the Guardian Command Center aboard Thruster, but at the last second, Dr. Go manages to repair the device and the Renegades make good their escape. The Guardians return to Earth, where not long after they receive a transmission from Cy-Kill informing them that the Renegades are abandoning their goals of conquering GoBotron and Earth and leaving to seek their destinies elsewhere in the galaxy. The heroes unsurprisingly question this, but realize that all they can do is wait to see if they are being honest or not.

TarnishedImage tv announcement.jpg

Even Cop-Tur and Crasher are taken aback by Cy-Kill's pronouncement, but naturally, the Renegade leader is merely putting the first step of a greater scheme into motion, which starts with lulling the Guardians into a false sense of security. Using a voice synthesizer, Dr. Go broadcasts a phony SOS message to UNECOM, pretending to belong to a ship of human astronauts in danger, and the Guardians, thinking Earth will be safe without the Renegades to menace it, head off into space to help. While they are gone, Cy-Kill, Crasher, and Cop-Tur use Dr. Go's newest inventions, a trio of Holographic Image Inducers, to disguise themselves as Leader-1, Scooter, and Turbo and take their place on Earth.

Upon the disguised Renegades' arrival, General Newcastle shows them the prototype of UNECOM's new Renegade Detector, which of course goes off in their presence. Deeming the device a malfunctioning failure, "Leader-1" destroys it, which raises some ire among the Guardians' human allies. This is only the beginning of Cy-Kill's plan—he is out to ruin the Guardians' reputation, and the Renegades get to work doing so by carrying out petty, fly-by attacks and harassment on a human city. Next, they storm a television station and declare live on-air their intent to take over the Earth, then follow it up with an attack on an oil field and the New York Stock Exchange. As a result, the United Nations exiles the Guardians from Earth and forbids them to return.

TarnishedImage scooter doesn't have blasters.jpg

Meanwhile, the real Guardians realize they have been tricked when they find no ship in distress, and head back to Earth, concerned that something has happened in their absence. Sure enough, when they contact UNECOM, they are informed they are banned from Earth, and a squadron of jet fighters is reluctantly scrambled by General Newcastle when they initially refuse to leave orbit. Realizing they have no choice, the Guardians depart... but Leader-1 turns out to not be above a little Cy-Kill-like trickery himself, immediately ordering Scooter to turn the Command Center around and secretly land in the ocean once UNECOM thinks they have left.

TarnishedImage courageous hologram.jpg

To figure out how they have been framed, the Guardians need the help of Matt, Nick, and A.J., so Turbo visits Matt's house to try and convince them of their innocence. Matt is hesitant, but Nick and A.J. conclude that they owe it to hear the Guardians out, and he agrees to take the risk with them. They return to the Command Center to consult video footage of the "Guardian" attacks, whereupon Matt realizes that the "Scooter" seen in the video is using hand-blasters, which the real Scooter does not have. With this knowledge, their computer is able to penetrate the Renegades' disguises, providing the Guardians with the evidence needed to clear their names.

The Renegades, thinking the Guardians are long gone, drop their disguises and attack a remote UNECOM outpost, intending to plunder its computer systems. Unfortunately for the villains, one the guards manages to get a distress call out, and the Guardians soon arrive to give the Renegades a little taste of their own illusory medicine. With Scooter projecting a huge hologram of Courageous and Turbo providing firepower to make it seem real, they send the Renegades fleeing in terror, with the exception of Dr. Go, who Leader-1 manages to capture. They force him to testify before General Newcastle about the plan to frame the Guardians, and the general apologizes for his mistake, promising that he will "always know who the real Guardians are" in the future... unaware that he's just walked into a prank by Scooter, and is talking to three more phony holograms of the heroes!

Featured characters[edit]

(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)


TarnishedImage tvhost.jpg

"Your show is about to be cancelled... permanently!"
"But I gotta contract! W-wouldn't you rather just have a nice interview?"
"I don't need the publicity."

Cy-Kill, disguised as Leader-1, threatens a TV talk show host

"I vill tell you nothing! You can't make me talk!"
"How'd you like to spend a few centuries in hard labor... on the Moon of Fire?"
"Uh... vell... maybe just a little chat...?"

Dr. Go and Leader-1


TarnishedImage harassing humans.jpg
TarnishedImage coptur as turbo.jpg
TarnishedImage drgo captured.jpg
TarnishedImage guardian holograms.jpg

Continuity notes[edit]

  • The President of the United States reappears, previously seen in "Trident's Triple Threat" and "Crime Wave".
  • Matt's house was originally introduced and last seen in "Battle for GoBotron."
  • Scooter's lack of blasters was explicitly established in "Scooter Enhanced."
  • The series establishes over time that GoBotron has multiple moons; this episode features the only mention of the Moon of Fire, where Leader-1 threatens to send Dr. Go to do hard labour.
  • Gadgets and Powers:
    • Scooter uses a hologram of Courageous to frighten off the Renegades. He also fools General Newcastle with a second set of Guardian holograms.

Continuity errors[edit]

  • The President of the United States has a Southern accent that he didn't have in his previous appearances.
  • Leader-1's TV broadcast is shown on the screen of the camera recording him, and comes to an end when he point his blaster at the camera and fires, dissolving the screen into static. But, uh, the camera is still in one piece, as it has to be in order for its screen to display the static, so... what did he blast?

Animation and technical errors[edit]

  • When the Renegades activate the stealth device in the first scene of the episode, Thruster doesn't fade out in the normal style—it just flies off into the distance until it becomes too small to see.
  • After Cy-Kill drops his Leader-1 disguise for Crasher and Cop-Tur, he nonetheless continues to be voiced by Lou Richards as if he were still disguised.
  • General Newcastle is depicted as a white guy in generic military fatigues in his first scene.
  • Scooter's left eye is weirdly elongated down the side of his face when Cy-Kill's communication arrives at UNECOM.
  • When Scooter and Leader-1 walk over to watch the news report with Turbo, Scooter's walking around with his eyes closed.
  • As Leader-1 tells Newcastle the Guardians have been framed, Turbo is missing the red on his nose. A moment later, as he debate how to deal with the approaching jets, Turbo's teeth are yellow like Leader-1's, instead of white.
  • The DVD copy of this episode features a strange error that was not present in the original broadcast version that sees a portion of the episode play twice. The scene in question being at about 14:12, and at about 14:57, just as Leader-1 is ordering Scooter to take the Command Center back to Earth, it starts playing over again from the beginning. It's not a simple hiccup or stutter: Leader-1's line actually plays over the establishing shot of the restarted animation, cutting off Cy-Kill's first line of the scene.
  • A.J. is missing her lipstick and she and the other humans stand around in Matt's house.
  • The sky is visible through the gap between Turbo's neck and shoulder-pylons several times as he talks to the humans, but that shouldn't be possible as there's supposed to be a panel on the back of his head that covers that opening.
  • The pipe on the right side of Scooter's head vanishes when the Guardians first realize the fake Scooter is using blasters.
  • The video of the fake Scooter is obviously supposed to be from the attack on the city, as Scooter is shown blasting a water tower as he did in that earlier scene. However, the background painting used for the scene is that of the UNECOM base that the Renegades are currently attacking.
  • When Leader-1 instructs Scooter to "turn the tables" on the Renegades, there's an odd "shimmer" surrounding him and Turbo that seems to be the result of the animation cels not lying flat and catching the light in their ripples.
  • Dr. Go seems unusually short next to the Guardians and Renegades several times over the course of the episode.


  • The disguised Renegades are voiced by the three Guardians' actors (Lou Richards, Arthur Burghardt, and Frank Welker), but with some wonderful impersonations of the vocal tics and cadences of the regular Renegade performers (Bernard Erhard, Bob Holt, and Marilyn Lightstone). Lou Richards is definitely the MVP for his theatrical Erhard impression, while Crasher's laugh filtered through Scooter's voice will haunt your dreams until the day you die.
  • Each act of an average episode of Challenge of the GoBots is around seven minutes in length, but the first act of this episode runs long at about ten minutes (the second act is the standard length, leaving the final act to only be about four-and-a-half minutes long). This seems to be done to facilitate a cute fourth-wall-breaking gag, fading to commercial just after the TV show host the disguised Cy-Kill accosts declares "I think it's time for a commercial!"

Home video releases[edit]


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