Yes, it’s a well-worn movie quote and the catch-phrase of a former Governor of California, but as the most iconic robot in film’s history, from his genesis as a killer robot from the future, to his (many) returns as a protector, Arnold Schwarzenneger’s turn as The Terminator T-800 is the one mechanical being that film audiences have grown to love.
In a tribute to the greatest robotic creations in cinematic history, Geek Culture brings you the Ultimate List of Top 10 Iconic Movie Robots.
Just so we are clear, this list covers robots who have been featured in at least one movie aka film aka motion picture, so while K.I.T.T. (from TV’s Knight Rider) and the GoBots are some of our favourite TV robots, they are not eligible.
And just because we can, we’re throwing in another criteria – each magnificent robot on this list has to have at least one update in the last 15 years, and it must be a good one. Hence, Gort, from The Day The Earth Stood Still isn’t eligible.
#10. Cylons (Battlestar Galactica)
The original destroyer of man from the 1980s TV series were dorky in their own unique way, and for the longest time, the Cylons of Battlestar Galactica could still be seen in a ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. That ride is gone now, and its legacy has been replaced by the new Cylons, from the 2004 reboot series that took a campy TV series and transformed it into a tale of human perseverance.
While the original Cylons were an advanced reptilian race, the reimagined Cylons were an artificial intelligence created by humans, and its name was derived from the term Cybernetic Lifeform Node. There’s news that a new version of BSG is being planned for, and we cannot wait to see what the new Cylons will look like.
#9. C-3PO / R2-D2 (Star Wars)
Yes, we know what you’re thinking – C-3PO and R2-D2 are exactly the same, from their first appearance in 1977’s Star Wars, to their upcoming turns in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, almost 42 years later, so where’s the reboot element to be eligible in this list?
Well, how about the fact that C-3PO went from being a simple, goofy translation droid in the Original Trilogy, to being one that was salvaged and rebuilt by Anakin Skywalker aka Darth Vader in the Prequel Trilogy. He’s still goofy in the Sequel Trilogy.
And R2-D2 can fly. So there.
#8. Chucky (Child’s Play)
Again, we hear you – Chucky, the murderous child’s toy and nightmare of kids and parents of the 1980s is not a robot but a supernatural doll imbued with the essence of a serial killer. But in the recent reboot, Chucky is a killer robot, and now the nightmare of kids and parents of a new generation brought up by artificial intelligence and smart devices.
#7. Class M3 Model B9 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot (Lost in Space)
The original robot from the TV show, and even the one from the 1998 movie adaptation isn’t much to remember, aside from uttering the iconic line, “Danger Will Robinson.” But in the recent Netflix version, the new alien AI creature that is somehow very protective of young Will Robinson makes for an interesting version of a classic character and we cannot wait for season 2 to drop.
#6. RoboCop (RoboCop)
Dead or Alive, there’s no way that Alex Murphy’s new form will be absent from the list. Yes, the new reboot is a travesty and while Neill Blomkamp has exited the latest sequel which was intended as a follow-up to the 1987 classic, we are still holding out that somewhere, there is a crime happening and RoboCop will show up to save the day.
And if original RoboCop writer Ed Neumeier is writing the sequel, we’re hoping that Peter Weller will have a role in it, in one form or another. And yes, we’ll take that for a dollar.
#5. Bumblebee (Transformers / Bumblebee)
Let’s make it clear here – Michael Bay’s Transformers movies were terrible. The list of complaints is still too long to put down, but suffice to say, the recent soft reboot, Bumblebee, saved the franchise and reintroduced our favourite human companion, Bumblebee. While he doesn’t have his voice, he’s a classic yellow Volkswagen Beetle that’s good enough for us.
#4. Iron Giant (Iron Giant)
In his animated form, the Iron Giant served as a classic tale of a boy and his protector. OR is it the other way around? Regardless, the animated movie was top notch and there was no way that any sequel could do it justice, and none was ever made.
Until he reappeared in Steven Spielberg’s 2018 film, Ready Player One. No, this wasn’t the same character from the movie, but in this modern telling of avatars brought to life, the Iron Giant soared as a protector of humans in a virtual world. And while the robot form fell in this movie, he did it in a way that only another robot would, by giving a thumb’s up ala the T-800 Terminator from Terminator 2 – Judgment Day.
#3. Data (Star Trek)
He’s a robot that can never age, though the actor playing Data, Brent Spiner, is no longer young enough to play an immortal robot. His “death” in Star Trek: Nemesis was meant to be a final farewell, but surprise! Brent Spiner is playing Data again in the upcoming series, Star Trek: Picard.
To be fair, we’re not sure if it’s Data, or his predecessor, B-9 in the new TV series, but if it’s the gathering of the old Star Trek: The Next Generation crew, it’s good to have Data back in his yellow uniform.
#2. Optimus Prime (Transformers / Bumblebee)
One shall stand, one shall fall – and the one still remaining is the latest version of Optimus Prime in the Bumblebee movie. The one thing that Michael Bay did right in his Transformers franchise was bringing back Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime in the 80s cartoon series and 1985 animated movie.
Travis Knight, the director of Bumblebee did one better by inviting Cullen back in Bumblebee, and restoring Optimus Prime back to his Generation 1 look, with a trailer and without those annoying flame decals. So while the movie and animated versions are different in design and colour, the voice and essence of Optimus Prime remains the same.
#1. T-800 (Terminator)
Arnie’s take on the T-800 has evolved over the years, from being a killer robot in the original, the saviour in the sequel, and as well, mainly forgettable takes in subsequent sequels, until the latest, in Terminator: Dark Fate. Sure, all Terminator sequels have also introduced more advanced Terminators, and in some cases, even featured considerably better actors in the robotic roles. But these actors were somehow unable to project a better robot persona, or even deliver classic one-liners better than Schwarzenneger.
The T-800 has been defined by the muscular actor, and despite his other memorable roles in action films, there is no greater association for the actor than with his breakout character. While franchise creator James Cameron has indicated that a trilogy of Terminator movies has been planned for, there is a chance that we’ve seen the end of the iconic T-800 in Dark Fate.
As fans, we’re hoping that he’ll be back once more.