Michael Bay’s Transformers saga is loved by some and hated by others, although it is undeniable that the series is one of the most popular box office hits in recent history
Its high dose of action and explosions everywhere became one of its main attractions, but let’s not forget the characters, both CGI alien robots and humans.
The first three Transformers movies were told from the eyes of Sam Witwicky, a young American who unwittingly ended up involved in the war between Autobots and Decepticons on Earth and his participation was more than remarkable within the events revolving around him.
However, when actor Shia LaBeouf decided he would not return as Sam Witwicky for Transformers 4, Sam simply disappeared, with no explanation… until now.
Shia LaBeouf’s First Appearance In The Series
LaBeouf’s acting career began when he was just a child, although he was well known for having a much more adult personality. After Shia appeared in shows like “Freaks and Geeks”, had a successful stint on the Disney Channel with the series “Even Stevens” and a memorable role in the 2003 film “Holes”, LaBeouf caught the attention of Steven Spielberg himself, who was preparing an adaptation of Transformers with Michael Bay as director.
And so it was that in 2007, the actor landed the role of Sam Witwicky, who thanks to his ancestors inherited a connection to a war between extraterrestrial robots. With the Decepticons determined to take over the world, Sam teams up with the Autobots led by Optimus Prime to stop them.
While there was some skepticism at first, the Transformers film turned out to be a worldwide hit with over $700 million grossed, making LaBeouf a superstar.
The Complicated Transformers Sequels
That reputation was quickly tarnished by his role as Indiana Jones’s son in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, for which LaBeouf himself feels sorry.
After that, he returned to the Transformers franchise with the sequels “Revenge of the Fallen” (2009) and Dark of the Moon (2011), but those experiences were full of conflicts In the second film for example, he showed up with an injured hand after being arrested for drunk driving, which led to some last-minute changes to the script.
Because of the screenwriters’ strike between 2007 and 2008, Revenge of the Fallen began production without a clear script, and although it resulted in another worldwide hit, LaBeouf expressed his dissatisfaction to the media:
“We weren’t making a movie to make a good movie. We were making a movie to make a date.”
“I just don’t think at this point there’s anywhere to take Sam and make whatever movie Michael wants.”
Despite the third film reaping more than $1 billion at the box office, Shia had already announced earlier that he would leave the franchise. So…
Why Did Shia LaBeouf Leave Transformers Movies?
Shia LaBeouf left the Transformers franchise because he felt had nothing more to contribute to the Sam Witwicky character arc, and even Michael Bay thought one trilogy would be enough, (but then made two more films with Mark Wahlberg as the lead).
The news generated some controversy at the time, as few actors dared to turn their backs on a saga that made them stars. But Shia wanted another direction in his career, moving away from blockbusters to star in more humble independent films, but with greater artistic significance.
Besides, he was annoyed by his near-zero character development in the second film and was sure that the third would give him better material to work with, but it wasn’t to be.
LaBeouf’s Roles After Leaving Transformers
Throughout the past decade, LaBeouf had some run-ins with both his fellow actors on the set and with the law for various incidents of public disturbance.
However, Shia has not let go of his acting career, with great performances in films such as “Fury”, “Honey Boy” and “Padre Pio”. And that’s not counting his famous motivational video “Just Do It!”. What a time when that went viral.
His next appearance on the big screen will be in “Megalopolis”, a sci-fi drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and with an extensive cast of stars such as Adam Driver, Forest Whitaker, Aubrey Plaza, Jon Voight, and others.
What Happened To Sam’s Character In The Franchise?
As you well know, the saga continued in 2014 without his character in “Age of Extinction,” in which he is barely mentioned once by Optimus Prime when he awakens from his long slumber.
However, in “The Last Knight” they spent much more time exploring the Witwicky lineage, and it is much more interesting than we originally thought.
In this film, Sir Edmund Burton reveals to Vivian Wembley that she is a direct descendant of the Witwiccan clan, to which Merlin belonged, the same clan that would later be renamed Witwicky.
When Burton shows her a picture of her family tree, in the last picture we can see Sam, although it is not indicated exactly what happened to him. But since Burton mentions that Vivian is the last descendant of the clan, we can only assume that Sam’s character died off-screen.
It surely happened between the time lapse between the third and fourth film, though how remains a mystery. And that theory is much more believable given that he and Bumblebee were great companions in the first three films, but as of the fourth there’s nothing left. Only a great tragedy could have distanced them…
Will Shia LaBeouf Ever Return To Transformers?
Probably not. Both Shia and the Transformers franchised have moved away from the Sam Witwicky storyline and there is no reason to bring it back.
Regardless of the fate of his character, Shia LaBeouf played his role as Sam Witwicky in the first three movies and he did so very well, even if he had a somewhat turbulent exit, Sam is fondly remembered by many fans, who loved the realism of his character. He was not the typical hero we are used to, but a realistically flawed young man who just wanted a car, but was still competent enough to save humanity.