BasementRejects Top 25 Robots

top robots

Robots are an intrical part of science-fiction.  Through robots, you can see the best and worst of humans, and what humans strive to be.  There are thousands of representations of robots in TV, film, pop culture, and games…here are 25 of my favorites in no particular order (I’m sure I forgot some.  No, I did not forget Johnny-5 or Rosie from The Jetsons…they just do not rank) and I realize that androids and computers might not technically be robots…deal with it.  Plus, a couple of robots that make my skin crawl.

robots robby the robot forbidden planet

1)       Robby the Robot

First appearing in Forbidden Planet (1956), Robby became popular guest-star for decades.  The character made appearances in The Twilight Zone and multiple movies.  It is amazing the number of times Robby seems to pop-up.  Robby led to other robots like the Robot from Lost in Space (who Robby eventually met).

robots pris roy blade runner daryl hannah rutger hauer

2)       Pris Stratton & Roy Batty

Portrayed by Daryl Hannah and Rutger Hauer, the replicants of 1982’s Blade Runner (adapted from Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) are on the run and dangerous.  The idea of “sex toy” androids and combat androids opens a whole new dimension for robots which were always kind of seen as more typical helpers to humanity…of course you might be able to list Richard Decker as a replicant but who knows.

robots vision marvel comics

3)       Vision

The Avengers’ resident android wants to be human.  First appearing in The Avengers #57 (1968), the character takes his name from another Vision created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in the 1940s.  The Vision’s brain patterns were based on the brain of Simon Williams (aka Wonder Man) and the Vision’s attempt to become more human led to decades of stories (and gaining and losing his humanity).  A female robot named Jocasta was also created by Ultron (and another personal favorite).

robots t-800 terminator arnold schwarzenegger

4)       T-800

Originally sent to the past to kill, Sarah Connor in 1984, the T-800 model played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator in 1984 represented the most dangerous technology because it was created by other robots.  The T-800 returned in 1991 with different programming proving that it is all about who’s behind the controls of the computers.  He faced off against the equally cool T-1000 (then the lamer T-X), but he was the original.

robots r2d2 c3po star wars

5)       R2-D2 & C-3PO

The classic bickering duo found their sweet spot in Star Wars in 1977 but further cemented their endearing nature in the sequels (not so much the prequels) and appearances in shows like Sesame Street.  The Bert and Ernie of space, the two robots played off each other…even if one couldn’t talk.

robots maria metropolis brigitte helm

6)       Maria

In the dystopian future created by Thea von Harbou in Metropolis in 1925 and brought to the screen by Fritz Lang in 1927, Maria became one of the first robots of all time.  Also known as Maschinenmensch or Futura and played by Brigitte Helm, Maria stages an uprising…and proves for one of the first times that robots are dangerous.

robot hal 9000 computer 2001 a space odyssey

7)       HAL 9000

HAL 9000 (standing for Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer) doesn’t really have a body and is more of a computer.  The insane computer created in Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001:  A Space Odyssey in 1968 has his own plans…and will stop at nothing to enact them.  Brought to the screen (also in 1968), HAL 9000 helped revolutionize robots…and lead to another evil robot Mother in 1979’s Alien.

robots marvin hitchhikers guide to the galaxy movie

8)       Marvin

The robot suffering from depression appeared in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which first premiered as a radio show in 1978 before being adapted into a novel in 1979.  Played by Stephen Moore in the radio and TV versions, Marvin featured the voice of Alan Rickman in the 2005 film (with Warwick Davis inside the suit).

robots iron giant movie

9)       Iron Giant

Based on the 1968 novel The Iron Man by Ted Hughes, The Iron Giant gained a cult following over the years.  The pure fun and joy of the film really helped elevate the story and the ideas of The Iron Giant has spread to other stories with the “big sidekick” robot.

robots bishop aliens lance henriksen

10)       Bishop

While Ash was the evil robot in Alien (1979), Bishop was the flipside of the robot for Aliens in 1986.  Built to protect, Bishop is willing to sacrifice himself, Bishop (played by Lance Henriksen) continued on in the series and even played the android’s creator Michael Weyland in Alien3 (maybe…or just another android).

robots wall-e eve

11)       WALL-E & EVE

Robots can get lonely.  In Pixar’s 2008 animated feature, a cleaning robot left behind on Earth named WALL-E finds the love of his life in EVE.  I still argue that the virtually silent movie that exists for the first half of this story far exceeds the second part of the story with more adventure based story…but WALL-E still rules

robots bender futurama

12)       Bender

For every kind and considerate WALL-E, there is a Bender.  Bender first appeared in 1999 in FOX’s Futurama.  While most robots want to help, Bender primarily wants to help himself.

robots number six battlestar galactica tricia helfner

13)       Number Six

The Cylons want to destroy humanity…or they believe that humanity has destroyed itself.  While the original “Toasters” of 1978’s Battlestar Galactica first resembled robots, the 2003 mini-series relaunch had the Cylons impersonating humans.  Played by Tricia Helfer, Number Six is both seductive and complex.

robots black hole maximillian

14)       Maximillian

The 1979 Disney movie, The Black Hole is a debatable film, but nothing is debatable about the terrifying villain robot Maximillian.  The movie is loaded with goofy robots like V.I.N.CENT and B.O.B., but Maximillian is the terrifying real deal…and goes to Hell?

robots data star trek the next generation

15)       Data

Data is the robot Chief Operations Officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise in 1987’s Star Trek:  The Next Generation.  Played by Brent Spiner, Data was essentially the robot equivalent of Spock who was searching for humanity through the course of the series and films.  Data’s robot characteristics combined with his childlike view of the world provided tons of stories (and we can forgive him for the emotion chip of the movies).

robots k9 doctor who sarah jane

16)       K9

The Doctor has tripped through space and time for decades but his robot dog companion K9 first appeared Doctor Who:  The Invisible Enemy in 1977.  While the Cybermen might be better robot adversaries, K9 was the pal that hung around and made the show more kid friendly.   Unfortunately, K9’s design didn’t make him very handy for the show makers…but he still worked better than the other android companion Kamelion.

robots max headroom

17)       Max Headroom

The herkyjerky computer generated character originally appeared in 1984.  The character (voiced by Matt Frewer) popped up all over the ‘80s culture and eventually made it into his own series in 1986 as a veejay in England before becoming a spokesman for New Coke and Coca-Cola Classic.  The character eventually was given a TV series which ran two short seasons in 1987.  You couldn’t have the ’80s without Max.

robots gort the day the earth stood still

18)       Gort

Based on the character Gnut from the short story “Farewell to the Master” by Harry Bates in a 1940 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, Gort famously stood guard over the alien spaceship in Washington, DC in The Day the Earth Stood Still.  Played by Lock Martin, Gort was out for destruction unless you knew the famous shut off command of “Klaatu barada nikto” which also developed a life of its own.

robots gigolo joe ai jude law

19)       Gigolo Joe

2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence was a highly divisive.  While the first part of the film was some of the best sci-fi I had seen, the second half fell flat and fell flat hard.  One of the only high points of the second part of the film was Jude Law’s Gigolo Joe:  a sex robot in the lines of Pris from Blade Runner.  Gigolo Joe was slick and smooth…and knew how to wow the ladies with style.

robots tom servo crow mst3k

20)       Crow & Tom Servo

In the not too distant future an experiment occurs where a poor, helpless janitor named Joel is sent into space and force-fed crummy movies.  Fortunately for Joel was able to create two great robots in Crow and Tom Servo (and some less likeable robots in Cam-bot and Gypsy).  Mystery Science Theater 3000 which started in 1988 had the robots launching jokes and in the process developing their own personalities.

robots machine man jack kirby marvel

21)       Machine Man

Marvel’s “other” android.  Unlike the Vision which gets all the attention, Machine Man also is on a quest for humanity.  The less popular character who first appeared in 2001: A Space Odyssey #8 (1977) has floated around the Marvel Universe trying to find his place…does he deserve a spot on this list?  Maybe not in the big picture terms…but it’s my favorite robots list, and Machine Man still fits that case.

robots ava ex machina alicia vikander

22)       Ava

Is Ava human enough to pass the famed Turing Test?  In 2014’s Ex Machina, Alicia Vikander brings the creepy humanistic Ava to “life” and challenges the idea that a robot can never show emotion.  Is Ava thinking on her own and what is Ava’s game?

robots transformers autobots decepticons

23)       The Transformers

I hate the Transformer movies.  While the series of robots that can turn into vehicles seems stupid, the cartoon and comic book adaptation breathed life in the robots and gave them different personalities.  Created in 1984, the Transformers first broke out as toys.  From the Autobot leader Optimus Prime to the villainous sniveling Decepticon hanger-on Starstream, many of the Transformers really gained personalities over the course of the series…unfortunately, the movie undid all of the fun.

robots mega man games

24)       Mega Man

Originally an android named Rock, Mega Man has evolved into a hero over the years in video games beginning in 1987.  Created by Dr. Light, Mega Man can absorb the powers of the robots he defeats and use them in his battle against the evil Dr. Wily.  The character kind of resembles Astro Boy (who just barely missed the list mostly because the character hasn’t translated well to the U.S.).  I still have the Mega Man music playing through my head…

robots conky 2000 pee-wees playhouse

25)       Conky 2000

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!  You just said the Secret Word!!!!!!!!  Conkie was part of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse which ran from 1986-1991.  Originally voiced by Gregory Harrison and then voiced by Kevin Carlson, the robot had a Max Headroom speaking style.  Conky always knew how to party.

Dishonorable Mentions:

robots gizmo superbook


Remember when Jesus hung out with a robot?  This annoying robot from the religious anime Superbook (1983) tried to trick you into thinking that the Bible story you were watching was cool…it didn’t matter how cool the story was, Gizmo made it worse.

robots jinx space camp


Jinx is a jinx…so maybe they should have never named a robot Jinx.  In SpaceCamp while believing he was helping, the robot jettisons a whole class of children into space an nearly kills them…good going Jinx.

robots chopping mall security

Mall Guards

When you have robots as your mall guards and they malfunction immediately and begin killing people as in Chopping Mall…they may not the best choice for security.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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