The 10 Best Robots in Pop Culture
Sadly, Matt Groening’s long-running cartoon ‘Futurama’ was canceled earlier this week after seven seasons and 140 episodes on two different networks. Yes, we’ll miss Fry, Leela and the rest of the crew, but we’ll miss Bender, the acerbic, cigar-chomping robot, the most. But it’s not all bad news — Bender has rightfully earned himself a place among the most memorable robots in pop culture.
Why do we love robots so much exactly? Is it because they provide a tantalizing glimpse at future technology? Is it because they’re reflections of ourselves? Nope and nope. We love them simply because they’re nifty. Check out 10 of the coolest robots in movies and TV below.
After Ash is revealed as a murderous synthetic life form in the first film, protagonist Ripley is understandably wary of android Bishop in ‘Aliens.’ But he proves his worth by rescuing Ripley and Newt as the colony on LV-426 explodes all around them. He also saves Newt from being sucked out in space after he’s literally cut in half by the alien queen. Robots don’t get much cooler than that.
R2-D2, ‘Star Wars’
A list of cool robots simply wouldn’t complete without R2-D2. The plucky astromech is easily one of the most recognizable robots of all time and played a major role in all six ‘Star Wars’ films. His list of accomplishments is impressive — he helped Anakin Skywalker destroy the control ship blockading Naboo, fought on Geonosis in the battle that started the Clone Wars, flew with Luke Skywalker during the attack on the first Death Star and helped his friends escape from Jabba the Hutt’s palace. Plus, he’s incredibly loyal and even puts up with C-3PO’s constant insults. That “overweight glob of grease” crack was pretty low for a protocol droid.
Ask anyone who was a kid during the 1980s to name their favorite robot and, if R2-D2 isn’t their first answer, Optimus Prime probably will be. Thanks to Michael Bay’s live-action films, the leader of the Autobots was recently introduced to a new generation of fans, cementing his position as one of the coolest metal men ever.
Roy Batty, ‘Blade Runner’
In terms of menacing robots, you can’t do much better than Roy Batty, who leads a group of renegade Nexus-6 replicants on a violent quest for immortality in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic. And yet, Batty shows a bit of humanity with his moving soliloquy on life and death as his predetermined four-year lifespan comes to an end. Pretty deep for a soulless killing machine.
Number 6, ‘Battlestar Galactica’
In Ronald D. Moore’s spectacular re-imagining of the 1978 television series ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ Number Six is one of the twelve Cylon models that are nearly indistinguishable from humans. But she’s way more than just a “frakking toaster”– she’s a spiritual advisor to Dr. Baltar and passionately fights for Cylons while helping to orchestrate the near extinction of the human race at the same time. And oh yeah, she’s also the sexiest robot ever.
When ‘The Terminator’ opened in 1984, it launched a highly successful franchise and made Arnold Schwarzenegger a household name. It also took the notion of killer robots and elevated it to a frightening new level. By making assassin robots appear human, they could infiltrate our ranks and wreak havoc with ease. They could also utter instantly memorable catchphrases like, “I’ll be back.” Oh Terminator, you never left our hearts.
Evil Maria, ‘Metropolis’
One of the most famous robots in movie history, Evil Maria drives men insane with lust and leads a worker insurrection in Fritz Lang’s 1927 classic ‘Metropolis.’ After causing chaos throughout the city, the robot is eventually caught and burned at the stake. Too bad. Something tells us she and the Terminator would have gotten along famously.
If you’re the sentimental type when it comes to robots, WALL-E probably ranks among your favorites. A diehard romantic, WALL-E is the last surviving trash compactor on a garbage-strewn future Earth. His only friend is a cockroach, but that all changes when he meets and falls in love with a probe named EVE. From there, our lovelorn hero risks robotic life and limb to simply be with her. He also loves the 1969 musical ‘Hello, Dolly!’ which is just adorable.
Robots who yearn to be human is a repeated theme in sci-fi, but Bender from ‘Futurama’ definitely doesn’t suffer from this. In fact, he’s openly disdainful of non-robots and often refers to humans as “meatbags.” He’s also a thief, an alcoholic, a womanizer and a pathological liar whose most famous catchphrase is, “Bite my shiny metal a$%!” But he’s also hilarious, so we excuse his more boorish traits.
Robby the Robot, ‘Forbidden Planet’
If there’s one robot who’s synonymous with classic sci-fi, it’s definitely Robby. He first appeared in the 1956 classic ‘Forbidden Planet.’ But despite what the pulpy movie poster suggests, Robby wasn’t interested in abducting Earth women in shiny, form-fitting bathing suits. Instead, he provided assistance to the crew of the C57-D starship and was a full-fledged supporting character in the film.
Later, Robby made several appearances on TV, including episodes of ‘The Twilight Zone,’ ‘The Addams Family’ and ‘Lost in Space,’ which probably makes him the first robot to successfully transition from the silver screen.