With Wall-E dropping nationwide today, we've been thinking about the best robots to ever pour out their mechanical hearts on the big screen. We put together this list, which is only as good as our frail human bodies allowed it to be.
Unlike many movie robots -- most of those on this list, even -- R2D2 scores huge points for both looking and sounding like a robot. A little rolling trashcan with a bunch of random panels and buttons: this is the essential movie robot. Whenever the plot lands the characters in some inextricable situation, suddenly one of these panels or buttons has a previously unexplained use, and the movie can continue. Also, he communicates with a somehow completely relatable series of beeps and whistles. He's the robot that had everybody talking robot.
The replicants from "Blade Runner" are tough. They're certainly robots, in so much as they're machines. But they look and act entirely like humans. That makes choosing them for this list seem, at least at first glance, like a cop out. I mean, Deckard is most likely a replicant, but c'mon, he doesn't count.
But since "Blade Runner" is such a bad ass movie, we've gotta include a replicant on this list. And the obvious choice is Rutger Hauer's chilling and nuanced Roy Batty. Batty's character illuminates a dichotomy that exists in many fictional robots--the thoughts of a child mixed with the ability to kill without batting an eyelash. He loses a few points, though, for crying. Killer robots can't cry! C'mon.
Lieutenant Commander Data is an obviously valuable member of the crew of the Starship Enterprise. What's noteworthy to the show, though, is that his major functional role to the show is that of comic relief. Data brings the deadpan robot jokes, and he never stops bringing them, because robots never tire. He's always taking things literally, much to the delight of his fellow spacemen and Star Trek fans everywhere. Because while it's possible to create an android that functions on Data's level, it's somehow not possible to allow him to correctly interpret tone, or even to allow him to simulate understanding an idiom or a joke. Robots are the ultimate dry humorists, but for some reason, Data is one of the few characters to really mine that concept, as obvious as that as, and as repetitively as they do so.
Bishop is basically the same as a replicant and other than being a cool character, there's little reason for him to be on this list. Oh, well, except for his BAD ASS KNIFE TRICK!
For my money, this is easily the best robot of all time. Let me try to explain why I get so excited about the robot Rocky buys Paulie for his birthday. First of all, there is no reasonable role for a robot in a boxing movie. None. Since the robot is introduced almost immediately, it's a sign that Rocky IV is about to take you on the ride of your life. Which it does. That's beside the point, but it brings me to my next reason: it gives you a window into the mind of Sylvester Stallone. I'm sure we've all pictured this scene. Sly is sleeping in bed when he suddenly snaps bolt outright, maybe oils his chest and then rolls over and violently shakes Brigitte Nielsen awake.
"Yo, I know how Rocky IV starts."
"Really? I'm sure this is brilliant, because both of us are unstoppable battering-rams of pure talent."
"I'm thinkin', like, maybe it's Paulie's birthday, and Rocky gives him a robot. Y'know, because, like, there's robots now. By the time we finish the movie, the world might be totally run by robots."
"Sylvester, babe, your instincts are impeccable."
"Thanks. Let's do push-ups until we fall asleep."
"I was just going to say that!"
Most experts agree that this is a verbatim transcription of 75-80% of every conversation they ever shared.
Those lovable bastards from MST3k deserve a slot on this list not only because they deliver teh funneh but also because of how preposterous they are in design. Tom Servo is a rejiggered gumball machine, Gypsy is made out of a hose, some lights and couch parts, Crow T. Robot (the most advanced of the bunch) is no more than a molybdenum and Kevlar-crafted Muppet and Cambot is, well, a fucking camera.
The MST3K robots are the kind of bots I hope await us in our future; who needs lifelike Asimovian droids when you can chill out with your gumball machine?
Before Brad Bird made Ratatouille, he made The Incredibles, and before that he thrilled audiences with maybe the last great hand-drawn American animated feature there will ever be. As Transformers later confirmed, gigantic alien robots with tons of missiles are tons of fun. Unlike Transformers, though, The Iron Giant taps into the secret fantasy that every little boy has -- that he'll find one to be his best friend.
At some point in your life, you've surely thought to yourself, "Self, wouldn't it be interesting if I was going to be a huge star in the future, so some future genius with plans of world domination created an evil robot facsimile of me and sent it back in time to kill and replace me so that they could rule the world by proxy?" Of course you have! That's why Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey blew your mind. Also, the evil robot Bill and Ted call the real Bill and Ted fags, murder them, and then just hang around spitting on their bodies for a while. You have to admit, for a PG movie, that's some pretty ridiculous robotic action.
If you ever end up touring the galaxy, you'll want Marvin around. He's 50,000 times smarter than a human and has a literally encyclopedic knowledge of just about everything you need to know. He's also a worry wart, which is a quality you want in a guide when you have no idea what you're doing or where you're going.
Alan Rickman's portrayal of Marvin was hands down the best thing about the just above average 2005 film version. Also, you know you've got a good character on your hands when Radiohead names a song after you.
While less imposing, there was something cold and calculated about the T-1000 that made him even scarier than his earlier counterpart. Maybe it was the shape shifting abilities (that scene when he axes John Connor's step family comes to mind), maybe it's the liquid metal technology. Maybe it's that walk-run. I dunno, but I do know I'm gonna be having nightmares tonight.
Number 5 is alive! And he craves input! And he wants to avoid being disassembled, if at all possible! Also, for some reason, the makers of Short Circuit cast Fisher Stevens as an Indian guy, as if there aren't literally a billion real Indian people to choose from. That's beside the point, though -- Number 5, the quirky, sentient triangular tread-having robot, is unquestionably the gold standard in 1980s robot comedies (don't even get me started on Batteries Not Included... laaaaame).
Alright, maybe Optimus Prime doesn't make an appearance until almost an hour into the movie. And maybe his overall screen-time is incredibly short. And maybe this movie was woefully lacking in dinobots and the voice of Orson Welles. Still, the manbot-slash-semi-truck consistently brings short bursts of awesome in his quest to eliminate the threat of the evil Decepticons. If you don't agree with that, it's probably because your name is Megatron. John Megatron. Yeah, that's a sweet name.
The 800 series Terminator, aka the Arnold Schwarzeneger version, is quite obviously one of the best robots to ever appear on film. In the original "Terminator," the series 800 bot that's sent back in time is a terrifying killing machine. He might not be efficient (robots that have to go through the phone book to find their victims never are) but he sure can kill. I'm a fan of any shotgun wielding robot, I'll tell you this right now. If C3PO had only brandished a sawed off, he'd be on this list. Also, the laser sighted handgun was such a killer touch that was way ahead of its time. When I saw that scene back in the 80s, my mind was blown.
While noticeably gayer, the 800 series bot that appears in "Terminator 2" is pretty cool as well. This time he uses his scary robot abilities for good and, thanks to teaming up with John and Sarah Connor, he actually succeeds this time.