Throughout the animated series, Carly is a minor character whose role is relegated to being someone who offers technical assistance to the Autobots and later becoming the wife of Spike Witwicky. In The Transformers, Carly first met Spike Witwicky and Bumblebee at the Robots Video Arcade. Later, she encounters Ironhide, who was standing guard during the test of Wheeljack's Immobilizer and blames herself for the device's capture by the Decepticons. Carly attempts to retrieve the device and is captured, but is resulted by Ironhide, Bumblebee and Spike rescued her. She later reverses the Immobilizer's operation and ensures an Autobot victory. Carly's technical abilities prove useful to assisting the Autobots, and Optimus Prime declares them honorary Autobots. By the year 2006, she and Spike, had married and had a son, Daniel. The family attended the first Galactic Olympics together, from which Spike was abducted by the Quintessons, along with Ultra Magnus and Kup and plays a minor role in finding her son.
In Transformers: Scramble City, Carly helped the Autobots work on the titular battle fortress, but was again in a minor role. In Transformers: The Headmasters, Carly is a housewife lives in the Autobot base on the planet Athenia, but only has a minor role in the series. Carly Witwicky appears in Transformers: Animated, voiced by Tara Strong, as Spike's wife and as the mother of Daniel and Nancy.
In the Headmasters Manga, Carly was strolling the beach with her family and Autobot friends shortly after the defeat of Mega Zarak. After Soundblaster attacked, Carly was taken hostage by Slugfest and Overkill until she was rescued by Daniel.
Note: Stories from the U.K. Transformers series are in italics.
While watching the movie A Kiss for Us at the Community Drive-In, Jessie and Buster were making out in his car when it was rear-ended by a mysterious Volkswagen Beetle (Bumblebee). During the following Decepticon attack, Buster told Jessie and "O" to find help, while he drove away in the Bug. Buster was unreachable for some time, which worried Jessie and "O", but while walking about, listening to the Dazzler on their stereo, Buster returned with Bumblebee and explained that he had been caught up in the Autobot/Decepticon war. Buster and Bumblebee drove away before his friends could process this incredible information.
Tragically, Buster's father, Sparkplug Witwicky was kidnapped by the evil Decepticons, forcing Buster further into the conflict. As he drove away inside Optimus Prime to rescue his father, Jessie was starstruck by his bravery, though she was terrified for his safety. She knew that he was sensitive, but she had not realized that he was so brave! She futilely tried to escape her worries by retreating to her ballet class, but as they watched their neighbors pack up and leave town, even there, the Transformers conflict was made evident. She wondered if she would ever see Buster again.
After Sparkplug's heart attack, "O" and Jessie came to visit Buster in his father's autorepair shop. Buster was understandably cross, but his friends made matters worse when they indirectly suggested that autorepair is an easy skill to pick up. Enraged on behalf of his father's profession, Buster shooed his friends out of the garage. After a period of not talking to Buster at school, Jessie surprised Buster by asking him if he would accompany her on a bike ride to the falls. Though she avoided the subject of their recent fight, when her bike's chain suddenly broke, she had no choice but to bring up the subject. She apologized.
Her apology was interrupted by Buster's father, Bumblebee, and Bluestreak, of which the latter two were curious about Buster and Jessie's romantic display. They were further interrupted by an attack from both Laserbeak, who had been spying on them, and later the newly built Decepticon, Jetfire. Buster stopped the attack by revealing that he had been in possession of the Autobot Creation Matrix for some time, and he used it to disassemble Jetfire dramatically before their eyes.
Seeking revenge on Buster for humiliating him, Shockwave ordered Soundwave to kill the boy. In the wake of Buster's returning the Creation Matrix to Optimus Prime, the Matrix-induced nightmares that remained began to take their toll on Buster and Jessie's relationship, a problem that Sparkplug hoped would be resolved by a trip to the local demolition derby. Soundwave and the Constructicons arrived in the middle of the derby, and when the Constructicons combined into Devastator, Buster grabbed his head and screamed. As he collapsed in Jessie's arms, she cried, assuming the worst. Cradling his limp body, she angrily guarded him as Soundwave advanced. But before Soundwave could complete the assassination, his sensors detected within Buster's Matrix-enhanced brain lay the keys to the future of the Transformers race. He abruptly called for a retreat. Jessie loaded Buster, who was now awake, but delirious, into Ratchet, and they hurried back to the Ark.
Once Sparkplug, Jessie, and her boyfriend arrived, Optimus Prime decided that the only way to get to the bottom of Buster's visions of a second generation of Transformers was for him to monitor Buster's dreams as they both slumbered. When Buster and Optimus woke up, excitedly (and in unison) proclaiming the imminent arrival of the Special Teams, Buster began talking nonsense about Superion, Menasor, and other creatures. Regardless, he was smiling again, so Jessie and Sparkplug were relieved all the same.
Jessie was almost brainwashed into serving the Decepticons by a Car Wash of Doom, but Buster managed to get her out of the highly suggestible state of mind she was in, thereby killing any chance he had of getting further than second base with her. The humans of Earth thank Buster for his sacrifice.
Later, while Buster was being held captive by Decepticons, Jessie visited Sparkplug at his house. Blaster arrived in an egg transport seeking help spying on the Decepticons at Club Con and possibly rescuing Buster. It was agreed that Jessie would blend into the crowd at Club Con better than Sparkplug, so she and Blaster visited the place as tourists. While snorkeling, Jessie discovered an underwater entrance to the island used by the Seacons. She sneaked in with Blaster, even though he objected.
Inside, they found Buster chained to the wall. Buster told them what Decepticons were up to, but the room was too small for Blaster to transform and cut the chain, so they had to leave him behind. Against Blaster's advice, Jessie sneaked into a Decepticon meeting and stole Raindance and Grand Slam. The theft was soon discovered, and Ratbat sent the Seacons to the beach in pursuit. Blaster transformed to protect the tourists. The battle was going badly, so Blaster spit the mini-cassettes into the ocean to lure the Seacons away.
Blaster transformed again and the two were able to blend into the crowd once more. Jessie apologized for messing things up, but Blaster told her she was a big help in finding out important info. Plus, she was able to get a tan, so the mission wasn't a total waste of her time. Thrust and Vortex gave the tourists a ride home while Starscream apologized for the disruption.
In 2002, Carly was a brunette. She was back to her natural blonde locks when Bumblebee arrived at the Witwicky household to talk to Spike. When Daniel asked who the yellow car was, Carly, not wishing to reveal to her son the family's history with the Transformers, merely replied that it was his father's best friend.
Carly and Spike were stationed on Nebulos in 2012. Carly turned out to meet Pyro's team when they arrived from Earth to investigate Hi-Q's disappearance in "A Flash Forward, Part 3".
In "Rising Storm", Carly was working a career fair in Philadelphia when the Decepticons targeted Sam Witwicky and his Autobot friend Bumblebee for harboring their escaped "pet", Brains. As the place became a battlefield, Carly quickly proved capable of defending herself. Seeing that Sam was about to be killed by Space Case, Carly used a weapon attached to one of the fallen Transformers around her to fend off the Decepticon. After saving Sam, they realized that they had met before, albeit under less deadly conditions. Soon, the pair were saved from subsequent danger by the arrival of the rest of the Autobots. When Brains is welcomed into the Autobot ranks, Sam traded barbs with her to see how well she was taking this whole experience.
Carly Spencer appears in the book Transformers: Dark of the Moon: The Junior Novel.
Jessie was featured in the 1985 Find Your Fate Junior book called Earthquake by Barbara Siegel and Scott Siegel.
Carly appeared in the 1986 story and coloring book The Lost Treasure of Cybertron by Marvel Books. In this version, she was the wife of Buster and mother of Daniel.
In the Shattered Glass universe, Jesse is an evil mirror-verse version of the Generation 1 character. In Transhuman, Jesse was among the students at Butch's school being terrorized by Butch Witwicky and the Autobot Tailgate, only to be saved by the Emulator.
In Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Carly Spencer, depicted as British due to her portrayal by British model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, is Sam's girlfriend, with whom he lives. The two met after Mikaela dumped Sam and he got a Medal of Freedom for his heroism. Carly believes Sam's stories and is annoyed by Brains and Wheelie who live with them. Carly works for Dylan Gould as a curator and is given an expensive car, a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, by him, making Sam jealous. Carly gets annoyed when Sam decides to work with Simmons on figuring out what the Decepticons are doing rather than going to Dylan's party with her and leaves angrily. She is shocked when it turns out that Dylan is a Decepticon collaborator and is taken hostage by him, Soundwave, who reveals himself to be the SLS in disguise, and Laserbeak to force Sam to cooperate. Sam launches a rescue mission for her and with the help of Bumblebee, rescues her and kills Laserbeak before using a shot-down drone to relay what she knew of the Decepticons' plans to NEST. During the battle, Carly travels with Sam and Epps' team to stop the plan and is attacked by Starscream who Sam kills. While Sam heads off to stop the space bridge, Carly convinces Megatron to help Optimus against Sentinel Prime, leading to the deaths of Megatron and Sentinel. Carly reunites with Sam after the battle and they admit they love each other.
In May 2010, it was announced that Huntington-Whiteley would become the new female lead in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, released 29 June 2011, replacing Megan Fox. She had previously worked with the film's director, Michael Bay, on a Victoria's Secret commercial. MTV Networks' NextMovie.com named her one of the 'Breakout Stars to Watch for in 2011'. Prior to the film's release, she won the "Female Star of Tomorrow" award at the 2011 CinemaCon Awards. Critics were highly critical of the acting of Huntington-Whiteley and co-star Shia LaBeouf. Peter Travers stated the two "couldn't be duller." Jason Solomons of The Observer wrote that "we're first introduced to Rosie via a close-up of her bum, segueing straight from the film's opening sequence and titles on to the pert buttocks and underwear of our heroine," and that Huntington-Whiteley's English posh girl accent "renders her practically unintelligible when surrounded by American accents and falling masonry." Much of the criticism towards Rosie Huntington-Whiteley compared her in an unfavorable light to Megan Fox. Lou Lumenick said that her "'acting' makes...Megan Fox look like Meryl Streep in comparison." Baz Bamigboye gave his review of the film the title 'Come back Megan Fox, all is forgiven...'. Cody Benjamin of Intelligencer Journal found Rosie Huntington-Whiteley a "visually attractive replacement for Megan Fox and [the she] does a decent job playing Witwicky's new girlfriend[.]" In a positive review, Drew McWeeny of HitFix said, "She reminds me of Cameron Diaz in The Mask, an actress who doesn't really show off any range, but who gives a natural, winning performance and who is up to the challenge of this particular picture."