Herein we report the first comprehensive series of crystallographically characterised transition metal formyl complexes. In these complexes, the formyl ligand is trapped as part of a chelating structure between a transition metal (Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Rh, W, and Ir) and a magnesium (Mg) cation. Calculations suggest that this bonding mode results in significant oxycarbene-character of the formyl ligand. Electron-rich late-transition metal complexes have the highest oxycarbene-character to the bonding and are the most stable in solution. Further reaction of a heterometallic Cr---Mg formyl complex results in a rare example of C–C coupling and formation of an ethenediolate complex. These results show that well-defined transition metal formyl complexes are potential intermediates in the homologation of carbon monoxide.