Over the last century, humans seem to have developed an innate fascination with robots. Emily sure has enough of a fascination with them to sport a robot notebook and little robot desk friends and we most definitely have a portrait of Data hanging in our foyer. Maybe we’re so fascinated by them become, as geeks, we’ve learned that robots can be just as different from each other as humans are — from scheming and malicious to compassionate and brave. And since last week was National Robotics Week, we thought back on 20 of our favorites.
1. Data from Star Trek
Lieutenant Commander Data is a super strong, fully sentient and self-aware android who often acts as an “ace in the hole” during those super difficult missions. But he is much more that that. Being without emotions, Data finds social interactions difficult and he often becomes confused with jokes and nuance. This barrier in communication is one of Data’s defining features. His determined struggle to understand humanity not only puts into question what it is that makes us human, but also reflects the drive we all have to better ourselves. And his affection for his cat Spot only confirms that cats do indeed control everything we do.
2. R2D2/C3Po from Star Wars
The dynamic duo of the robot world, these two icons are arguably the most famous automatons on this planet or any other. This is a side effect from being wanted throughout the known galaxy. Like many paired pals their personalities couldn’t be more different. The astromech droid is right at home in space, where as C3P0 verbally protests participating in space travel. The protocol droid is constantly fostering relationships and calculating odds while R2D2 is more brash and has a care-free attitude. Despite their differences, however, these two are best buddies, friends forever, they are a totes-awesome friend-blossom (*puts wine down* *closes computer*).
3. Ultron from Marvel Comics and Avengers: Age of Ultron
Ultron’s hyper-intelligence, wide array of built-in weaponry, mind control powers and knowledge of time travel make him so dangerous that he must be destroyed at all costs. The Avengers started taking down the dastardly robot way back in the 60’s, however, Ultron never seems to stay dead, or disassembled or whatever, for long. Like aggressive acne, he keeps coming back to ruin your night out (and also take over/destroy the world). So other super heroes and super hero teams take turns narrowly defeating the cyber baddie. This happens a lot; seriously, like so many times. It seems we will never be rid of Ultron, but that’s alright. What’s the point of life with out the possibility of an impending robot army come to take over the world?
4. Bender from Futurama
With the catch phrase, “bite my shiny metal ass,” Bender is not the friendliest robot, but he’s not totally evil either (probably). Bender makes the favorites list mostly because he’s just kind of a jerk — but he’s our jerk. While he laughs at the misfortune of others and adopts orphans just for the government checks, he’ll also say, “KILL ALL HUMANS!” … “except one,” because while Bender may not be a great humanitarian, he is the greatest!
5. Terminators from The Terminator Franchise
Hi there! Do you have enemies that need to be defeated? A pesky ex that won’t leave you alone? Or maybe you just feel a little safer with a fully weaponized and lethal Terminator robot by your side. If any of these sound like you, then Skynet is targeting you for their new product you simply can’t live without. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, there are many valid and legitimate reasons to fear robots: Terminator, T2: Judgment Day, T3: Rise of the Machines and Apple’s iPhone. But think of it this way: ROBOTS ARE SO FREAKING COOL!
6. Claptrap from the Borderlands Series
Don’t be fooled by his cheery demeanor, Claptrap is actually quite the depressed little hunk-a-junk. As a comic relief/story facilitator, this lonely, monocycled robot is often found annoying the people around him, eating pizza alone and spontaneously dancing (which is actually the third directive in his programing). He can be upgraded into the killing-machine Fragtrap, but most of the time this cowardly CL4P-TP general purpose robot reflects on the misfortunes in his life and the agonizing death awaiting us all.
7. The Cylons from Battlestar Galactica
Sometimes robots are scary. Sometimes robots are nice. And sometimes, just sometimes, robots are so fraking confusing that you’d rather Admiral Adama just kill all the fraking toaster-heads since we aren’t going to get a clear understanding of what the Cylons were trying to do with the Final 5 or that Starbuck might be a god damn angel, or that the entirety of the human race is going to follow the dreams of drugged-up cancer president. Frak it, just play the Jimmy Hendrix.
8. K9 from Doctor Who
Even Time Lords love man’s best friend (so to speak)! A few of the intelligent robot dogs have served as companion to Doctors, including the Fourth and Tenth Doctor, as well as fellow companion Sarah Jane Smith. K9 has stuck with the Doctor through thick and thin, and has traveled the universe and beyond — the Time Lords even sent him on special missions. And like our Earth dogs, K9 was always loyal, brave, and a steadfast friend willing to risk it’s life for it’s friends.
9. EDI from Mass Effect 2 & 3
Enhanced Defense Intelligence, or EDI, was originally designed to be the onboard computer/cyber warfare program for the Normandy. Soon after her development, EDI quickly becomes a full-fledged member of an elite crew set out to save the universe. She helped save the Normandy and it’s crew more than once, provided invaluable information about the Collectors and other enemies, and even got Joker to warm up to the idea of her controlling the ship. Later, she evolves beyond her programing to have meaningful relationships and even gets a pretty rocking body to boot (or reboot).
10. Baymax from Big Hero 6
In Japan, Disney’s Big Hero 6 is just called Baymax — because they know who the real star of the movie is. Even from the first commercial, Baymax was a big, silly, lovable robot friend who thought cats were hairy babies and that tape could fix his leaks. Baymax is so much more than just Hiro’s bodyguard and best friend though (no spoilers) and is an integral part of the Big Hero team!
11. Johnny5 from Short Circuit
Being a government developed killing machine isn’t easy when you have a kind and sensitive soul. Like a lost puppy, Johnny5 fumbles and sad-looks his way into our hearts. While his brothers would just as soon shoot you as look at you, Johnny5 wants nothing more than to be with and protect his friends and family!
12. Lance Bishop from Aliens
Created in the likeness of Weyland-Yutani notable Michael Weyland, Bishop was an android who accompanied Ellen Ripley on her second mission. Bishop was hyper-intelligent, calm, polite, and ultimately proves that he is, in fact, not able to hurt humans — but he did kind of put us on edge because of what happened with Ash in the first Alien. But despite all his efforts to appear human, I don’t think any of us will forget how crazy he looked after the Queen literally ripped him in half.
13. David 8 from Prometheus
Following in Bishop’s footsteps is the ultimately more sinister David 8. David has that whole super intelligent/curiousity of a child thing going on, but not even Michael Fassbender’s good looks could keep us from being creeped out by him in Prometheus. David was the most advanced synthetic Weyland Industries created, but he also had his own agenda outside of what his creator and boss instructed him to do. He effectively killed Holloway, chose not to rescue the other crew members, and put discovering the Engineers secrets over protecting Elizabeth from the aliens. He pays the price, of course, and we’ll probably never trust another android in the Alien franchise again.
14. Iron Giant from The Iron Giant
The Iron Giant (*cries into hands at first sight of beloved children’s movie*). Uh, sorry what? Oh, yeah. The Iron Giant is pretty much a sum up of a perfect geek fantasy. Alien robot comes to earth and you are the only one to love it, protect it and teach it right from wrong. Also, Vin Diesel!
15. GlaDos from Portal
Whether faulty programing or neglect, Glados might just be the craziest thing that speaks binary. At first, you’re like, “OK, cool. Gonna run some tests, this talking robot says there’s cake at the end. What could go wrong?” Until you realize that the cake is a lie and GlaDos friggin’ hates your guts and wants you and Companion Cube to die. You almost don’t feel bad when the old girl’s consciousness ends up in a potato in Portal 2. Almost.
16. Astro Boy from Astro Boy
No shirt, no shoes, no pulse, no problem. Originally introduced in a Japanese manga, Astro Boy was the story of a robot boy created by the head go the Japanese Ministry of Science after the death of his son. Unlike robots who have a child like curiosity because the world is new to them, Astro Boy had that same curiosity because he was a child, but a powerful, kick-ass one. The manga expanded to Japanese TV and later came to American audiences.
17. Wall-E from Wall-E
Wall-E is great. He’s a real stand-up robot and he gets to fall in love, overcomes some BS and save humanity,
woo-hoo, whatever. Listen, the most important thing to take away from this movie is that once we have robot servants and municipal workers and shit, humans are going to get lazy as fuck. There are a lot of movies about robots vs humans, but this story creatively argues that when you get right down to it, we are just dumb, lazy mammals that would rather rascal around on a toilet for all eternity than anything else.
18. Alpha 5 from Power Rangers
Remember that annoying spaceship-head robot that always yelled, “Aye-yi-yi-yi,” and complained about not being able to go out with the Power Rangers? His name is Alpha 5 and he probably still haunts your dreams.
19. Lab Robot from Iron Man
Tony Stark is a man of few friends — considering his vast wealth, his scathingly sarcastic tone, and his incredible intelligence — but he could always rely on the robots in his lab. Sure, one particular robot may have dosed him with a fire extinguisher one a few needless occasions, but better safe than sorry! I honestly don’t think Tony would have donated him to a community college, do you?
20. Chappie from Chappie
Like Johnny 5 before him, Chappie was built to be a police robot used to combat the high-level of crime in South Africa. But after being implanted with an AI program aiming at mimicking human emotions and opinions, his outlook changes a little. Chappie represents the age old story of an intelligent robot discovering the world through human’s eyes, and what it can show us about being human — as well as the consequences of robotic competition.
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