The electronic structures of a series of [M2X8]2- (X=Cl, Br) complexes involving 5f (U, Np, Pu), 5d (W, Re, Os), and 4d (Mo, Tc, Ru) elements have been calculated using density functional theory, and an energy decomposition approach has been used to carry out a detailed analysis of the metal-metal interactions. The energy decomposition analysis involves contributions from orbital interactions ... [Show full abstract] (mixing of occupied and unoccupied orbitals), electrostatic effects (Coulombic attraction and repulsion), and Pauli repulsion (associated with four-electron two-orbital interactions). As previously observed for Mo, W, and U M2X6 species, the general results suggest that the overall metal-metal interaction is considerably weaker or unfavorable in the actinide systems relative to the d-block analogues, as a consequence of a significantly more destabilizing contribution from the combined Pauli and electrostatic (prerelaxation) effects. Although the orbital-mixing (postrelaxation) contribution to the total bonding energy is predicted to be larger in the actinide complexes, this is not sufficiently strong to compensate for the comparatively greater destabilization originating from the Pauli-plus-electrostatic effects. A generally weak electrostatic contribution accounts for the large prerelaxation destabilization in the f-block systems, and ultimately for the weak or unfavorable nature of metal-metal bonding between the actinide elements. There is a greater variation in the energy decomposition results across the [M2Cl8]2- series for the actinide than for the d-block elements, both in the general behavior and in some particular properties.