I’ve been a SciFi geek since, birth, I think. I didn’t truly realize this until I was about twelve years old and made quiet plans to marry Mr. Spock from the Original Series Star Trek. Or was it that time I realized I wanted a Robbie the Robot of my very own from Lost in Space? Or the time I asked for a replica of the spaceship from Space 1999 and my Mother actually found one and bought it? Or the time I wore my Mork from Ork suspenders, to school, every day for a week?
It’s only been in the last ten years that I’ve realized just how much a love of robots has been a major part of my childhood. ( It would explain why I totally lost my spit after only watching the trailer for Bladerunner and why it took me nearly a week to recover from watching the first Terminator movie.)
I decided to compile a list of some of my favorites. If you have some ,let me know in the comments but remember, these are MY favorites. You probably have a completely different set and that’s cool beans. There’s a metric ton of robots out there. They all need some love.
1. Optimus Prime
Voiced by Peter Cullen during the show’s heydey, during the depths of the eighties, Optimus was, hands down, the coolest f*ckin’ robot on Saturday morning televsion. He was strong, compassionate, honorable and honest. He devoted himself to the highest ideal of protecting all life. He is, like, the Superman of robots.
And for the record, I’ve seen a couple of the Transformers movies and I was shocked tha they still managed to keep those elements of his personality intact. I’d been admiring robots for a few years up to that point but he was the robot I never knew I wanted.
I saw this in a movie theatre at 14, along with a Double-Bill of The Evil Dead II. That was the best four hours of my teenaged years (and no, that’s not sad!) Portrayed by Peter Weller, in the 1987 movie, of the same name, it has since become an iconic character, and you know what? When I first saw him, I knew he would be. The body language, the jaw, the vocal intonations, are the things by which all subsequent portrayals of Robocop were measured and found wanting.
And when that massive hand-cannon popped out of his right leg, ready to hand, my first thought was, “I want one of those!” (Never mind what I would’ve done with it.)
3. The Iron Giant
Produced by the man who would later become one of my favorite animation directors, Brad Bird, and voiced by the man I would later refer to as, my future ex-husband, Vin Diesel, this was the only cartoon, about a robot, that ever made me cry like a baby, and the only movie whose motto I had ever aspired to live up to.
Although Buzz Lightyear’s enlightenment, in the first Toy Story movie, came pretty damn close, he doesn’t get a shoutout because I’ve learned that I hate it when robots make me cry.
Kind, childlike, honorable and perpetually curious, Data is the only robot, that I ever wanted to be (or just date.) Data had the unenviable job, on the Enterprise, of asking human beings all the hard questions about being human. Portrayed by Brent Spiner, Data epitomized the best of humanity without ever truly succumbing to it’s worst.
I had no idea that Bender’s last name was Rodriguez (and does that make him Hispanic? Can a robot be a member of a human culture?) I watched Futurama, the first couple of years after it aired and I loved this drunken, profane, snarky, asshole of a robot from the moment he was introduced. With a drink in one hand and a cigar in the other, he’s not evil, but he’s definitely the Anti-Data. I can’t help but feel that was a deliberate decision on the part of his creator. Bender being Bender just brings to one’s attention just how much of a trope is the honorable robot, who wishes to human. Bender doesn’t sit around wishing to be human, he just gets to doing it.
The first robot I ever truly admired, he’s so obviously the Star of Star Wars. He’s, brave, spirited, plucky and I’m guessing he’s got more than a little smart-assedness in him too, if C3PO’s reactions are anything to go by. If someone were to make a movie, based entirely on his adventures with Chewbacca, I’d watch the Hell out of that.
Portrayed by Michael Ealy, in the show Almost Human (which was regrettably canceled, despite that shows promise) , he displayed a mischievous sense of humor in constantly needling his partner, played by another favorite actor of mine, Karl Urban. One of the few robots I’ve seen who had a notably deliberate sense of humor, he and Karl had a wonderful chemistry. Dreamy, blue eyes…check! Sensitivity…check! Compassion…check! Intelligent and funny…check!
He is the ideal boyfriend, that Karl never knew he wanted.
Aawwww c’mon! He had to be on this list, even if he is late to the party. He’s just so dern cute. Look at him! He is the Hello Kitty of robots? Like being babysat by a walking, talking marshmallow, with about that same level of intelligence.
Okay, that’s it! I want a stuffed, Baymax doll this Xmas.
The titular character from Robert Mason’s novel, is also the star of the movie, of the same name. I loved the book character, but the film version wasn’t as much like the book as I would’ve liked. On the other hand, how awesome is it that they picked a Black man, Mario Van Peebles, to be the hero, in an action movie?
This is how awesome that shit is:
10. The T-1000
Played by the scarily focused Robert Patrick in 1992’s Terminator II, the T-1000 is one of the scariest robots ever. I don’t know what the Hell a mimetic poly-alloy is but I seriously hope humanity never invents it, as this would most definitely be it’s wacky outcome, in a totally pants-shitting, that’s not funny kind of way. I remember leaving the theatre after the movie. It took me several days to stop side-eyeing everybody on my bus route.
(If it does exist, then we need to draw up some laws and shit about not ever using it.)