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Trannis first appeared (unnamed) in "The Five Faces of Darkness" as an early Decepticon leader after the Quintessons were driven from Cybertron. A horned, bearded figure who wielded two blasters, he was eventually defeated when he faced Sentinel Prime in battle.
Trannis came to power during Megatron's absence from Cybertron, and initially proved a considerable terror to the Autobots. However, over time the Autobot forces under Emirate Xaaron grew stronger in their resistance of his rule as Trannis grew weak and feeble. Just as his own subordinates were planning to assassinate him, the Wreckers accomplished the task for them, only for Straxus to step into the vacuum left by his death and become a greater terror than the failing Trannis had ever been.
An "Ask Vector Prime" installment recounted Trannis' rise and fall as depicted in The Transformers, as well as being the first source to associate the name of the unseen Marvel villain with the character from the animated series. Vector Prime also revealed that Trannis had no connection to Dominus Trannis, the corrupted Rail Racer, and that Trannis was later killed by Deathsaurus. This last seen was also featured in the Transformers: Wings of Honor story A Team Effort.