Robots! They come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are evil. Some of them are good. Some of them are just indifferent. Some are very nearly human. Some would be offended to be considered as such. But there’s one thing you can say about robots…they’re cool. And some of them are really memorable! So let’s take a look at some of the best and most memorable robots in sci-fi. Do you have any favorites that didn’t make the list? Talk them up in the comments!
BB8 from Star Wars: The Force Awakens
BB8 may be the newest robot addition to the Star Wars saga, but it already has quite a following. BB8 is round, cute, loyal and funny. It’s the perfect little robot friend. The part where it flashed Finn a thumbs up was one of the funnier parts of the movie.
Turing from Read Only Memories
Turing is probably one of the lesser known robots out there, but I adore them. They act as your sidekick in the game and the robot won my heart pretty easily. They get easily flustered, awkward and insecure and can be a bit of a know-it-all, but they are passionately devoted to the people they care about and doing to right thing. They’re a great little robot pal.
The Red Tornado from Justice League
Though not as well-known as vision, the Red Tornado is a superhero android with awesome wind powers. He had a wife and adopted daughter, acted as the guardian of Young Justice and packed in a lot of dry wit while doing so. He's weathered being damaged countless times. Sadly, he hasn’t really been seen since the DC Comics reboot.
Mettaton from Undertale
Mettaton may be a recent addition to the robot pantheon, but he gained a huge following pretty fast. Vivacious, outgoing, attention-hungry and a bit narcissitic, Mettaton get pretty violent in his pursuit of stardom, but is ultimately not too bad a guy. Underneath all his arrogance, he does care quite a bit about some people, even if he doesn’t always show it well. He has a fairly unusual backstory for a robot and his game-show antics are also pretty darn funny.
Aya from Green Lantern: The Animated Series
Aya was an android who managed to become a Green Lantern, which is impressive in itself. She started out as just a ship, but made herself a hero. She was brave and determined, but also struggled with things like understanding humanity and falling in love. One of the most tragic parts of the cartoon was when she shut off her emotions to save the day, but ended up turning evil as a result. Even then, she came through in the end and sacrificed herself to protect everyone.
Marvin the Paranoid Android from Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy
Marvin proves to us that even robots can get depressed. The poor guy has a brain the size of a planet and he’s surrounded by less intelligent beings. He doesn’t get much of a chance to use his vast intellect and is terribly bored as a result. His morose, deadpan personality is certainly memorable.
Vision from the Avengers
Vision is a valued member of the Avengers and definitely one of the most prominent superhero robots out there. He’s saved the day more times than one can count and even managed to find love with the Scarlet Witch. Dude can also rock a cape.
Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation
Data was one of the most memorable parts of the TNG crew and he made us question what it really meant to be human. He started out cold and seemingly unfeeling but as the series went on we learned just how deep his emotions and complexity ran. Just don’t pronouce it “dah-ta”. He hates that.
Astro Boy from Astro Boy
The tiny android Astro Boy is a product of the legendary father of manga Osamu Tezuka and is one of the most iconic robots in anime and manga as a result. Astro Boy was built by a scientist in an attempt to replace his dead son, but ended up becoming a robot who fought crme and protected the world. Plucky and cute, Astro Boy was very influential in pop culture, even inspiring the manga Pluto.
Optimus Prime from Transformers
Transformers: robots in disguise! These transforming robots are cool enough that they’re still a successful franchise decades after their debuts. And the first robot you’ll think of when it comes to Transformers is Optimus Prime. He’s bravely protected earth from the likes of the evil Megatron more times than we can count.
HAL 9000 from 200: A Space Odyssey
HAL is definitely one of the most iconic AI villains. His creepy rendition of "Daisy" and deadpan “I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that” have seeped into pop culture so much you’ve likely heard them at some point. He inspired evil computers in The Simpsons, Futurama and more.
Baymax from Big Hero 6
Baymax definitely wins the award for most huggable robot. This big soft marshmallow is a lover, not a fighter, though he can definitely make a splash as a superhero. He was the perfect partner for the grieving young Hiro. He carried on the spirit of Hiro’s dead brother and taught the kid a thing or two about love and friendship. He also did some great saves. If you watched that movie and say you genuinely never wanted to cuddle with Baymax, you’re probably lying.
Wall-E and EVE from Wall-E
You could never make a list of beloved robots without including one of the cutest robots out there. In a movie where earth has been adandoned, it takes a robot to remind everyone of their humanity. Wall-E went beyond his prescribed function of being a cleaning robot and saved the world with compassion! He also managed to get his adorable personality across while barely talking.
EVE also bears mentioning. She was so cool that both Wall-E and the audience couldn’t help but fall in love with her and she was cute to boot. She also underwent a lot of robot-character-development, warming up to Wall-E and learning that there was more to life than shooting things.
Johnny 5 from Short Circuit
Johnny 5 is another influential robot. He was listed as one of the inspirations for Wall-E, so he has to be on the list. A bolt of lightning turned a killing machine into a charming robo-best friend and Short Circuit details his comic adventures.
Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet
Robby the Robot might be one of the most iconic robots out there and has been reused several times since his first appearance on Forbidden Planet. He may be clunky by today’s standards, but his appearance stuck in many people’s minds. Though advertising depicted him in a villainous light, he was actually a benevolent, smart creature that wouldn’t harm humans. He also possessed a great dry wit.
GLaDos from Portal
I guess you could split hairs over whether GLaDos is a robot or a computer, but I don’t care. She’s an A.I. and one of the best video game villains out there. Extremely clever and sarcastic, GLaDoS is a formidable opponent full of dark humor and sharp barbs. The sequel to Portal also added a lot of complexity to her, revealing her tragic past and more conflicted feelings. Also, you’ve gotta love her songs.
The Terminators from Terminator
The Terminators have run the robot gamut in awesome ways. The Terminator in the first movie was a terrifying robot antagonist inspired by James Cameron’s nightmares. He was a nigh-unstoppable killing machine. Then in the sequel, we were introduced the benevolent but still badass version of the Terminator. He helped John Connor, made us crack up with his stoic recitation of “hasta la vista, baby” and tugged at our heartstrings to boot. Another Terminator that bears mentioning is Cameron, the one played by Summer Glau in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The way she had to balance her killing machine side with her relationship to the humans around her made for compelling drama.
Bender from Futurama
Bender is definitely one of the funniest robots out there. He’s a rude, alcohol guzzling crusty old machine, and we love him for it. While he claims he wants to “kill all humans”, he never really gets around to it, is best friends with a human and we know he has a softer side underneath all his belligerence. He also has a lot of the best lines in the show.
C3P0 and R2D2 from Star Wars
The comedy duo of C3PO and R2-D2 are a memorable and beloved part of Star Wars. C3PO may be stick in the mud, but his bickering dynamic with his robot buddy was the best and the guy was a hero where it counted. Meanwhile R2D2 was the brave little robot that could and his snarky, sometimes aggressive personality was clear even though he could only communicate in beeps, which is impressive.
The Iron Giant from The Iron Giant
“I go, you stay”. It’s hard to hear those words without wanting to tear up. The Iron Giant was a touching story of the relationship between a robot and a little boy and at the end of it, the big iron lug really learned what it means to be a hero. He saved the day Superman-style and his love and awesomeness touched all our hearts.
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