In honour of the upcoming Robocop remake, we’re taking a look at some of the best robot characters of all time. From androids to autonomous robots, to computer programs, robots have had a vital role in film for decades. We’ve selected our favourite ten, but let us know if you agree, or what else you would like to see make the list.
10. Ash (Alien)
“Bring back alien life form. Crew expendable.” the orders for Ash, the android who tricked the crew of the Nostromo into believing he was human. Thanks to his sinister intention to capture a live specimen of the alien species, all hell breaks loose on board the vessel and we get one of the greatest science fiction/horror movies of all time. Ash also holds one of the best movie deaths for an alien of all time. First he is decapitated, then electrocuted and finally burnt to a crisp.
9. Dr. Goldfoot’s robots
Look at Vincent Price’s face, that’s a man happy at his work! In this camp parody of the spy genre, Vincent Price plays a man scientist who creates an army of female robots in gold bikinis who seduce and rob wealthy men. It’s not exactly a good film, but it’s oddly enjoyable, though we would love to see as it was originally imagined – as a musical.
8. T-800 & T-1000 (TERMINATOR & T-2)
Take your damn pick, the T-800 or the T-1000, James Cameron at once made the lethal android just as kick-ass as it was terrifying. Even better though is the amorphous nature of the T-1000 in JUDGMENT DAY, able to ply its liquid-alloy body into any shape it desires…a giant blade, another person, whatever! Stellar FX that have held up over 20 years make T-2 one of the few superior film sequels.
7. HAL 9000 (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY)
The creepy monotone voice of HAL 9000 comes off as reassuring at first, but quickly grows terrifying when we see how d manipulative its actions become. The scene where Dave disables HAL at the end is one of the most tranquilly bizarre, yet intensely fearful sequences in history.
6. Bishop (Aliens)
With the groundwork laid by Ian Holm in the original (Ash), James Cameron tagged the great Lance Henriksen to play Bishop, an even more complex and morally ambiguous android in the 1986 action-classic ALIENS. The character posed the audience with complex moral questions – Are such technological companions more harmful or helpful to the human condition? Are we more protected or endangered by their presence?
5. Gerty (Moon)
GERTY is Sam’s assistant on the lunar mining facility in which he is alone for a three-year term. GERTY basically helps maintain quality control where human error can become an issue, but his role is a little more complicated as the movie reveals. GERTY also maintains a constant line of communication with the company on Earth that runs the station. Meanwhile, Sam is tricked into thinking all communication has been temporarily disabled. It gives GERTY a sinister exterior, but his intentions are entirely friendly. Plus, he’s strangely cute.
4. Gort (The Day The Earth Stood Still)
Gort can destroy entire planets and uses his Cyclops-like laser beam to vaporize anything standing in his way. In the original 1951 film, he is depicted as an interstellar police office, designed to keep peace in the universe. Of all his mystifying features, the one that has us perplexed the most is his demeanor. Gort stands motionless for much of the movie, giving the “million mile stare” a new meaning.
3. Maria (Metropolis)
Even today, Maria is an impressive example of robot design despite the film being made in 1927. Like Maria’s design, everything about Metropolis is ahead of its time. It is one of the original sci-fi movies and yet, even today, the concept of a robot-in-disguise is all too common in contemporary cinema, owing a great deal to this pioneering example.
2. Robby the Robot (Lost in Space)
Forbidden Planet had a lot of great things going for it when it hit theaters. State-of-the-art special effects, a cerebral storyline based on Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” the very first electronic soundtrack and Leslie Nielsen – all these helped make it a science fiction classic. But mostly what people remember is Robby the Robot. Designed by MGM’s master production artist Robert Kinoshita (who also created the robot for Lost in Space), Robby was seven feet tall, nearly indestructible and generally well-intentioned – if a bit clueless. He became a pop culture icon after Forbidden Planet, making cameo appearances in dozens of movies and TV shows like The Twilight Zone and Wonder Woman.
1. Roy Batty (Blade Runner)
Rutger Hauer’s haunting and beautifully crafted final speech in Blade Runner is rightly hailed as one of the finest in all cinema. It’s also a speech that could only have been delivered by an artificial intelligence being, which makes it even more brilliant. Weary and experienced, deadly and magnificently clever, but also childlike in his inability to deal with emotions, Batty is a truly complex and enigmatic character who proves the perfect foil to the repressed Deckard. He seeks to extend his short life, raging at the unfairness of his creation, a very human motivation, while also revelling in his replicant status.