As the new film Transformers: The Last Knight releases in the Middle East, here's a reminder that the popular franchise once aired an incredibly offensive episode mocking Arabs. In fact, the episode was so inflammatory, that a leading Arab-American entertainer – who voiced several characters in the show – severed ties with the series.

Back in 1986, Lebanese-American actor Casey Kasem (voice of Shaggy in the Scooby-Doo franchise, and numerous other roles) was reading the scripts for the third season of the cartoon Transformers series, when he came across an episode that just didn't sit right with him. Titled "Thief in the Night," the episode featured a highly stereotypical Arab dictator, Abdul Fakkadi, as the villain in a country called – read it slowly – Carbombya.

That's right, the writers named it Car-bomb-ya. Seriously?!

Reading through the script closely, Kasem realized that not only did the episode offensively represent Arabs, it also did not include any good Arab characters to balance out the villain. 

"I told the show's director that, in good conscience, I couldn't be part of that show," Kasem later wrote in a 1990 article

Here's a closer look at that episode.

Carbombya is home to 4,000 people ... and 10,000 camels

The Arab leader of Carbombya is depicted as not too bright and unstable

Abdul Fakkadi refers to himself as "supreme military commander, king of kings and president for life of the Socialist Democratic Federated Republic of Carbombya." 

Abdul Fakkadi mainly cares about accumulating wealth, specifically gold bars

And of course, oil is an important part of the plot

Angered that the Transformer villains – the Decepticons – are using too much oil, Fakkadi orders them to leave or pay in gold. The Decepticons simply steal Fort Knox, the gold depository of the United States, to pacify Carabombya's leader. 

He then agrees to let them stay and continue to consume more oil. 

Why did Kasem leave the show? Why does it matter?

Casey Kasem at the 41st Emmy Awards in 1989

One-dimensional and stereotypical portrayals of Arabs, usually as villains, is a constant trope in Western films and television.

Jack Shaheen, a writer and lecturer, published a book called Reel Bad Arabs in 2001, which analyzed nearly 1,000 films and documented how they portray Arabs and Muslims as brutal, heartless, uncivilized others bent on terrorizing civilized Westerners.

From children's cartoons, to live-action films and TV comedies, Arabs are consistently portrayed in a negative or offensive manner. This works to cement inaccurate stereotypes about Arabs into the Western mindset. 

Although Hollywood and the Western media and entertainment industry have become more aware than they used to be, Arab actors still routinely complain that roles as terrorists are the only ones readily available.

As Kasem – who died in 2014 – wrote in 1990, "And what about balance? When an Arab is a villain, how about seeing some other Arabs in the same story who are good guys?"

"The time for equal respect for all people everywhere is now," he wrote.

Sadly, 27 years after Kasem wrote those words, the same issues persist in Hollywood. Iraqi-British actor Amrou Al-Kadhi, who is 26 years old, wrote an op-ed earlier this year discussing how he has been asked to play a terrorist some 30 times.

With the increased prominence of xenophobia in political and societal discourse, now, more than ever, these stereotypes and misconceptions need to be challenged in the mainstream media.

Watch the trailer for "Thief in the Night"