Home Movies Movie Lists

Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Robots in Movie History

See who managed to beat Johnny 5, WALL-E and the Hal 9000

Terminator Genesys

Terminator Genisys didn't quite live up to commercial expectations this past week, pulling in $42.5 million over five days, though worldwide sales might be enough to pull a nice profit and lead to yet another sequel for Arnold Schwarzenegger. The T-800 remains his most iconic character, which is just one example of Hollywood's love of robots that goes back to the earliest days of cinema. Sometimes the robots are faithful sidekicks, while others are pure evil and still others are trapped somewhere in between. We asked our readers to select their favorite robots from Hollywood history. Here are the results. 

Play video

HAL 9000 (‘2001: A Space Odyssey’)

Basic Function: To control the Discovery One spaceship by responding to voice commands. He's so trustworthy and reliable that nearly every aspect of the ship is under his command. (Some might argue that due to Hal's lack of a body, he's more a computer than a robot, but since he talks and has a glowing red eye we're gonna count it.)

Good or Bad: Very, very bad. As Homer Simpson once said, "Trusting every aspect of our lives to a giant computer was the smartest thing we ever did." Well, it wasn't true for the Simpson family and it certainly wasn't true for the astronauts on the Discovery One in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. When astronauts David Bowman and Frank Poole try to disconnect HAL after he exhibits some strange behavior, he does everything in his power to kill them. 

Boldest Action: After reading the lips of Bowman and Poole as they plot against him, HAL locks them both out of the ship. "I know that you and Frank were attempting to disconnect me," he says. "And I'm afraid that's not something I can allow to happen."

Play video

The T-800 (‘The Terminator’)

Basic Function: To kill any human being that stands in the way of Skynet's attempt to take over the entire planet. The plan after that is unclear. What would a post-human world full of Terminators that seem to only know war be like? Would they peacefully coexist, or would they form factions and turn on each other? 

Good or Bad: The vast majority of T-800s are pretty bad news if you're a human, but the model we meet in Terminator 2, Terminator 3 and Terminator Genisys has been reprogrammed to protect John and Sarah Connor and thus is quite good. If any one of these things can be caught and reprogrammed to protect the life of the leader of the resistant movement and his mother, it seems to be a pretty big design flaw. Future programmers should input a program that says, "Under no scenario, are you to help the Connor family in the past, present or future."

Boldest Action: There's almost too many to pick from, but we're going to go with the scene in the original movie where he rams his car into a police station and mows down a whole fleet of officers in an attempt to kill Sarah Connor. 

Play video

Maria (‘Metropolis’)

Basic Function: To pose as a real-life woman named Maria and convince the workers who live in the underworld of the grand city Metropolis to rise up and revolt. 

Good or Bad: Her motivations are ultimately to rile the workers up to the point where they revolt, so an evil man from Metropolis can justify a slaughter in the future. When they figure out what's happening and that their children have been put in extreme danger, they burn her at the stake. 

Boldest Action: Becoming the first iconic robot in film history. 

Play video

Marvin (‘A Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’)

Basic Function: To bitterly complain about his crippling loneliness and the lack of appreciation for his superior brain power while being forced to perform menial tasks.

Good or Bad: Marvin is extremely helpful throughout the course of A Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, even as he manages to make Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh seem upbeat and happy by comparison. 

Boldest Action: Shooting the evil Vogons with his "point-of-view gun" so that they share his hopelessly depressed attitude, thus robbing them of their will to fight. 

Play video

WALL-E, 2008. ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection




Basic Function: To clean up garbage on an abandoned Earth and place it into neat, compacted stacks. 

Good or Bad: WALL-E is just about the sweetest and gentlest robot one can imagine, though after centuries alone on Earth he's grown extremely bored and lonely. 

Boldest Action: Falling in love with a female robot named Eve and leaving the planet to follow her into space. 

Play video

Gort (‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’)

Basic Function: To guard Klaatu's flying saucer while the alien explores America, and eliminate any threat to him. 

Good or Bad: The humans beings certainly see him as a threat and he doesn't hesitate to take out anyone that gets in his way, but ultimately he's just trying to "preserve the peace."

Boldest Action: Killing two guards and bringing Klaatu temporarily back to life when he's gunned down by U.S. authorities. 

Play video

‘Johnny 5’ (‘Short Circuit’)

Basic Function: He begins as a weapon for the U.S. military, but after getting stuck by lightning he develops free will and through the course of two movies does everything from building toy robots to battling jewel thieves. 

Good or Bad: Johnny 5 is extremely sweet and kind, but once threatened his eyes go red and he's capable of extreme violence, though only when protecting those he cares about. 

Boldest Action: Jacking parts from a Radio Shack to repair himself after getting brutally attacked, and relentlessly tracking down his assailants. 

Play video

C-3PO (‘Star Wars’)

Basic Function: Constructed by a young Anakin Skywalker, C-3PO exists solely to help humans and other living beings at whatever they desire. That can be doing manual labor around a house or helping overthrow the Galactic Empire. 

Good or Bad: If you are opposed to the Empire and its evil means, C-3PO is certainly a force for good. Your average stormtrooper might have a different take on the situation. 

Boldest Action: Finding a way to convince the Ewoks to join their quest to overthrow the Empire. 

Play video

Robby the Robot (‘Forbidden Planet’)

Basic Function: To assist his creator, Dr. Edward Morbius, while he's stranded on the distant planet Altair IV in the 23rd century. 

Good or Bad: He obeys Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, which means that he cannot harm humans. That should make him good, but it had severe consequences when Robby stays faithful to an evil incarnation of Morbius.

Boldest Action: Somehow finding his way from Altair IV to appearances on The Addams Family, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and multiple episodes of The Twilight Zone

Play video



R2-D2 (‘Star Wars’)

Basic Function: To speak in a series of beeps that only C-3PO can understand, but somehow wind up at the center of the action for all six Star Wars movies. 

Good or Bad: He's certainly a force for good in the universe, but he definitely delights in poking fun at his hapless partner C-3PO. 

Boldest Action: Storing the Death Star schematics along with Princess Leia's cry for help, a key move that kickstarted the events of the original trilogy. 

In This Article: Readers Poll

Show Comments