Robots In Disguise?1 of 11In just a few weeks actor Iddo Goldberg (Salem) will make his debut as Dr. T.O. Morrow and his sentient robot creation Red Tornado in an early episode of CBS’s new Supergirl series.
Red Tornado is of course a superhero in DC Comic continuity but it appears hell be a malevolent creation (least at first) for the purposes of the new CBS drama.
Robots wearing proverbial white and black hats are of course a staple of comic book and sci-fi, so here’s a look at some of the most famous 10… no, scratch that, 9 Totally Awesome Robots That Also Fight & Commit Crime…
ROBBY THE ROBOT/THE ROBOT FROM LOST IN SPACE2 of 11If you looked up "robot" in the dictionary (and it happened to be a dictionary with pictures), there very well might be a picture of Robby from 1956's Forbidden Planet, pretty much the archetypal old-school sci-fi robot.
Robby's got such an iconic look, that the same prop appeared in multiple subsequent movies and TV shows, ranging from The Twilight Zone to Mork & Mindy. The plainly named Robot from 1965-1969's Lost in Space ("Danger, Will Robinson!") took several visual cues from Robby, and both share a common designer, Robert Kinoshita. Bringing things full circle, Robby appeared in a couple episodes of Lost in Space.
ULTRON3 of 11For over 50 years, the Avengers have been "Earth's Mightiest Heroes," a team consisting of the heaviest hitters in Marvel's lineup, frequently including Captain America, Thor and Iron Man. The team's most persistently vexing foe has been Ultron, a continually upgrading sentient robot bent on rampant destruction.
Ultron was created with the best of intentions by founding Avenger Hank Pym known as both Giant-Man and Ant-Man and first appeared in 1968's Avengers #54.
The character of course recently ran roughshod over the team as the primary villain in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
BENDER4 of 11Bender, from Matt Groening and David X. Cohen's Futurama, is the robot on this list with the most personality, and in the immortal words of Jules Winnfield, personality goes a long way. Though he's an alcoholic and kleptomania who often professes his desire to "kill all humans," he's ultimately a pretty good guy.
Voice actor John DiMaggio brought Bender to life beginning with the show's premiere in 1999, with the bending unit becoming the standout character among a cast that also includes a Cyclops and lobster doctor. Without Bender's unique, abrasive charm, it's hard to imagine the show having the success it's had.
GORT5 of 11Gort is in many ways the grandpappy of all the 'bots on this list, with origins dating back to the 1940 short story "Farewell to the Master." That inspired the classic 1951 sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still, where Gort was introduced to the world as the physically intimidating (yet mostly peaceful) robotic companion of Klaatu.
Given the historical significance, why isn't Gort higher? Well, he's still got a bit of the stink from the critically reviled 2008 The Day the Earth Stood Still remake on him.
CYLONS6 of 11The Cylons were created by man. There are many copies. And you better believe they have a plan.
Robots gaining intelligence and overthrowing their human superiors has long been a sci-fi trope oh, the irony! but perhaps never realized quite as profoundly as in Battlestar Galactica, especially the 2004 reimagination. In the latter series, Cylons weren't just robot conquerors, but also evolved into 12 humanoid models, virtually indistinguishable from humans down to the biological level.
And sure, they wiped out most of the human race, but this wrinkle also made the Cylons sympathetic, raising all sorts of provocative questions about religion, politics, and the nature of life. (And for the most part, they tended to be pretty easy on the eyes.)
DATA7 of 11Data's constant struggle to understand humanity in seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation and four subsequent feature films made him not only one of the most compelling characters on this list, but also the direct descendant of many robots in the annals of science fiction.
Episodes like "The Measure of a Man" dealt with the issue of artificial versus organic intelligence, and then there was that infamous season one tryst with Tasha Yar, where the Lt. Commander went where no robot had gone before.
Data experienced further growth in the films, gaining an emotion chip in Generations and (decades-old spoiler alert!) sacrificing himself to save the Enterprise crew in Nemesis.
OPTIMUS PRIME8 of 11Optimus Prime is not only the noble leader of the Autobots in many different incarnations of the Transformers franchise, he's also a bit of a philosopher, coming up with inspirational gems like, "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings." And even in the Transformers series where he's not around, there's usually an analogue in his place, like Optimus Primal in Beast Wars.
Of course, he's not just good for pontificating he can kick Decepticon butt like no one else, as seen in full display during Transformers: Age of Extinction. And could the death of any other fictional robot on this list evoke the type of visceral response in a nation's youth like Prime's in the 1986 The Transformers: The Movie animated film? (He was later resurrected in the cartoon, to the comfort of many.)
THE TERMINATOR9 of 11If this list was judged on catchphrases alone, The Terminator would be No. 1: "Hasta la vista, Baby." "I'll be back." "Come with me if you want to live." And so on.
The character is also central to one of the biggest franchises in movie history, dating back to the 1984 original and the smash-hit 1991 sequel, Judgement Day. That film introduced the liquid-metal T-1000, and subsequent films and the Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series have added more versions to the mythos, but for this list we're celebrating the original as played by Arnold Schwarzenegger effective as both a bad guy in the first and a good guy (who could forget the thumbs up in the molten lava?) in the second and in the latest, which looks like it may be the last.
R2-D210 of 11When you look at robots throughout the history of pop culture, it's hard to ignore one of the biggest multimedia franchises of all time, and the droid that played an integral role in all six of the Star Wars films -- with more on the way.
R2-D2's lists of credits include assisting Luke Skywalker during the destruction of the original Death Star, serving as an invaluable asset to Obi-Wan and Anakin in the prequels, and rescuing the gang from Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi. He's a mechanic, a communications device, a friend and pretty much whatever you need at any given moment; all that while communicating solely in beeps and whistles.
So why R2 over his long-time companion C-3PO? Well, though C-3PO is handy with languages and provides plenty of comic relief in the films, he isn't quite as ubiquitously useful as R2. Plus, R2's look is among the most indelible visuals in film. Remember the R2-themed mailboxes during the 30th anniversary of A New Hope? Who hasn't seen an R2 cookie jar, or the R2 cell phone introduced a few years back by Verizon Wireless? Go to a comic book convention and try to walk five paces without running into a remote-controlled R2 prowling the exhibit floor. Heck the droid even infiltrated the world of women's fashion, with an R2-D2 one-piece swimsuit.
In the world of robots, R2-D2 is its humble king.
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