Going back as far as the works of Plato and Homer, moving statues made of gold and bronze marked some of the earliest recorded robots in human art. In literature, television, movies, comic books, and more over the centuries, robots and androids (a term popularized by Hadaly in Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam’s The Future Eve (1886)) have appeared by the dozen. And where robots have appeared in fiction, the potential for evil has never been far behind.
7) Bender – Futurama
Less obviously evil than many entries on this list (and with a less prolific body count), Bender is still in serious need of an attitude readjustment. Bender is the alcoholic, cigar chain smoking, kleptomaniac, pathologically lying robot on the crew of a Planet Express interplanetary delivery company ship in the TV show Futurama which originally aired on FOX from 1999-2003. Bender is abrasive, and has disdain for all biological life forms (which he views himself as superior than). Still, even for all of his bluster about wanting to kill all humans, Bender is shown to care deeply for his friends and is even capable of empathy when faced with significant ethical dilemmas. His relatively minor re-alignment compared to others on this list is what nets him 7th position.
6) Gunslinger – Westworld
The first of several robots following a program to destroy, Gunslinger from the 1973 sci-fi classic Westworld lands in the 6th spot on our list. Gunslinger is the sheriff of the Old West section of the Westworld theme park, where guests can pay to have realistic fights with and “kill” androids in specific fantasy scenarios. A computer virus that hits the theme park, however, turns the Gunslinger into a real killer, who fatally shoots one of the Westworld owners, malevolently stalking the other throughout the remainder of the film. Given that murder was not part of Gunslinger’s original programming, and that he could be returned to his docile state with a simple adjustment, keeps him lower than some of the others on this list.
5) Omnidroid – The Incredibles
Programmed through 10 different designs with the sole purpose of killing superheroes, the Omnidroid from Disney-Pixar’s 2004 hit The Incredibles comes in at number 5. Designed by the villain Syndrome to kill superheroes until it was smart and strong enough take on his arch-nemesis Mr. Incredible, the Omnidroid is a smart robot that learns from its surroundings and adjusts its tactics to match them. But in its final fight, the 10th generation Omnidroid realizes Syndrome is controlling it with a remote. It shifts its focus away from terrorizing the city and on to getting the remote. And yet, in its efforts to get the remote, it doesn’t kill Syndrome, Fro-Zone, or any of the Incredibles, suggesting a burgeoning morality as the robot simply wants to control itself and not necessarily kill. That keeps it from the top spots on this list, even though it has a bloody history.
4) Mechagodzilla – Various Godzilla Films
Mechagodzilla has a long history in film, making regular appearances in Toho’s monster universe dating back to 1974’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.Mechagodzilla is a skyscraper sized robot made in the image of his sea monster namesake. But in addition to the size and raw strength of this metal monster, he is equipped with military (and interstellar) firepower, including missiles, flamethrowers, and lasers. Mechagodzilla’s various reigns of terror have put him in the crosshairs of Godzilla, King Caesar, and King Kong, and his appearances often serve as a third-act villain that the warring protagonists can unite to defeat. Though his bloodlust is a simple matter of programming, his sheer size and lethality are enough to complicate the recalibration and land him the 4th ranking here.
3) General Grievous – Star Wars
General Grievous is a controversial addition to this list, as he is a biological/robotic hybrid. Grievous was a ruthless warlord who underwent cybernetic experimentation after suffering life-threatening injuries in battle. The upgrades altered his physical form as well as his brain, leaving him more mechanical than biological. Grievous became a fearsome Jedi hunter during the Clone Wars and a key strategist for the Separatist Droid Army. Grievous’ combination of enhanced reflexes, tough exterior, and hybrid intelligence and computing make him one of the most dangerous entries on this list.
2) T-800/T-1000 – Terminator Franchise
Few robots in all of pop culture are more well-known than the menacing antagonist T-800, and his “liquid cop” successor the T-1000 from Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. These nearly indestructible robots were sent back in time from a post-apocalyptic future where they have enslaved humanity with one directive: prevent John Connor (humanity’s potential future savior) from being born or making it to the war. This single-minded focus is simultaneously what makes them so dangerous, but also so stoppable, as a reprogrammed T-800 was sent back to protect John Connor from the T-1000. Still, their iconic nature and their sheer numbers complicate stopping them enough to put them number two on our list.
1) Ultron – Marvel Comics/The Avengers: Age of Ultron
His many similarities to the terminators, plus a highly sophisticated AI lands the deranged murder-bot Ultron the number one spot on our list. Ultron (in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) is the brainchild of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, designed to be a peacekeeping initiative that can protect the Earth and allow the Avengers to retire. But Ultron immediately diagnoses the biggest threat to life on Earth being humanity and sets out to destroy mankind. Ultron’s ability to make his own plans and rewrite his programming, update his own design, transfer his consciousness to any of his created bots, and nearly indestructible virbranium body combine to make him the biggest threat to humanity (and the most difficult recalibration) on this list. After all, it took a team of superheroes to stop him.
That’s our list of pop culture robots we’d like to recalibrate. Let us know your rankings or other robots you’d like to recalibrate on social media. And to contract a robot calibration for your facility or schedule a demo of API’s RMS for purchase, fill out the form below to contact us and speak to a Real Metrologist today.