Hollywood’s 9 Best Robot Heroes and Villains

by Zach Seemayer 9:05 PM PDT, March 08, 2015

Director Niell Blomkamp’s new sci-fi epic Chappie opened this weekend. The film tells the story of a robot who is given artificial intelligence by his inventor, but he must learn the ways of the world just like a child. However, his innocent mind is being molded by gangsters and violent criminals.

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It’s still to be seen if Chappie will go down as a classic in the robot sci-fi genre, but if it whetted your appetite for artificial intelligence movies and android action scenes, here are nine of the best robotic heroes and nine of the craziest robotic villains in cinematic history.


9. Gigolo Joe from A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001)


Played by: Jude Law
This is one of Law’s greatest roles. Gigolo Joe is a mechanical male prostitute on the run from authorities after being framed for murder. Joe is a highlight in the otherwise-disappointing sci-fi epic.

8. Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet (1956)


Played by: Frankie Darro (Inside)/Marvin Miller (Voice)
First appearing in the classic Forbidden Planet, Robby is one of the most iconic robots in film history and was recycled in a score of subsequent sci-fi films and TV shows.

7. C-3P0 & R2D2 from Star Wars (1977)


Played by: Anthony Daniels & Kenny Baker
These droid besties have to be counted together, because that’s when they’re best. Their hilarious, almost farcical arguing throughout the first Star Wars film gave people a whole new idea of how artificially intelligent robots could be portrayed.

6. Johnny Five from Short Circuit (1986)


Played by: Tim Blaney (Voice)
Originally built by the military for use against Russia during the Cold War, this adorable robot is a mindless combat machine until a freak lightening strike erases his programming, allowing him to form free will and intelligence.

5. The Iron Giant from The Iron Giant (1999)


Played by: Vin Diesel (Voice)
Originally meant to destroy the world, The Giant befriends a young boy and soon realizes the value of humanity. It is also one of Diesel’s most beloved performances.

4. T-800 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)


Played by: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Sure, the evil T-800 from the first Terminator film has all the great, quotable lines, but seeing that same emotionless killing machine develop into a true hero is one of the most entertaining character arcs in action movie history.

3. Murphy from RoboCop (1987)


Played by: Peter Weller
A cop who is killed in the line of duty and is resurrected as a mechanical peacekeeper begins to remember his past life, and discovers the men responsible for his death. RoboCop’s intelligence might be human-powered, but his targeting and his directives are all programmed, making him a heroic robot.

2. Rick Deckard from Blade Runner (1982)


Played by: Harrison Ford
In the film Deckard is a cop who hunts down and kills rogue androids (called replicants). There is even a theory that Deckard himself is a replicant, which director Ridley Scott has all but confirmed. There is an even crazier theory that, since Replicants can have implanted memories, Deckard never existed the day before the movie starts, and he’s the next level of android being tested against the previous model.

1. Wall-E from Wall-E (2008)


Played by: Ben Burtt (Voice)
Come on! Obviously Wall-E is the greatest robot hero in Hollywood history. Not only is he adorable and sweet, he’s selfless, courageous, and basically saves humanity from a future of turning into motionless blobs.


9. ED-209 from RoboCop (1987)


Played by: N/A
This clumsy, heavily-armed Enforcement Droid is not exactly a genius. But its faulty technology and programming mean anyone could become a victim of its murderous policing protocols.

8. Samantha from Deadly Friend (1986)


Played by: Kristy Swanson
All you need to know about Samantha -- a dead girl who gets an evil robot microchip implanted in her head to bring her back to life -- is that she kills an old woman by throwing a basketball into her face so hard the old lady’s head explodes. It’s a weird movie.

7. M.A.R.K. 13 from Hardware (1990)


Played by: N/A
This un-killable murder-bot stalks post-apocalyptic deserts and cities, making Hardware one of the only killer cyborg/wasteland films ever made.

6. False-Maria from Metropolis (1927)


Played by: Brigitte Helm
Being the first portrayal of a cyborg in film earns you a spot on this list.

5. The Gunslinger from Westworld (1973)


Played by: Yul Brynner
The Gunslinger is a mechanical cowboy at a Wild West theme park who goes crazy and begins killing guests. The Westworld tagline has the distinction of being one of the best in movie poster history: "Nothing can possibly go worng [sic]."

4. Hal 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)


Played by: Douglas Rain (Voice)
That big, intimidating red eye, silently judging all the time and deciding whether or not to kill you? Hal was menacing from the start all the way to the creepy song he sings as he’s shut off.

3. Ash from Alien (1979)


Played by: Ian Holm
If you haven't seen Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror masterpiece, we won’t ruin the best moments involving Ash. If you have seen it, you already know the best moments.

2. T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)


Played by: Robert Patrick
So how do you kick up the threat level for a sequel to a film about an unstoppable metal killing machine? Make the machine liquid metal and get the creepiest actor possible to play it.

1. Roy Batty from Blade Runner (1982)


Played by: Rutger Hauer
Smart, strong, agile, Roy Batty is the head of a group of rogue androids being hunted by Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard. Sure, Batty is a little bit murderous, but you’d be the same way if you found out someone made you in a lab, gave you free will and a consciousness, and then only gave you a four-year lifespan. Hauer’s monologue in the rain at the end of the film should have earned him an Oscar (or at least a nomination). In lieu of that, it earned him a place as the biggest, baddest robo-villain on our list.

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It was recently announced that Blomkamp would be directing the upcoming sequel to the original Alien film, and that Sigourney Weaver, who stars in Chappie, would be returning to reprise her iconic role as Ellen Ripley. Check out the video below for more from Blomkamp and Weaver on the upcoming collaboration.

For more fun movie news and lists, you can follow Zach Seemayer on Twitter @ZachSeemayer.