It might seem surprising that some of our favorite characters are robots — by definition they’re not human. However, robots are literally what we make of them, and that’s all the more true of fictional ones. As we become more and more dependent on technology in our daily lives, we can project our hopes and fears onto robot characters as well as being entertained by them.
To determine America’s favorite fictional robots, 24/7 Tempo reviewed characters from popular science fiction TV shows and movies on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon. Robots were considered if they appeared in a long-running TV show, high-grossing film, or a movie or TV show with a high IMDb rating. (These are the 50 best sci-fi movies of all time.)
One of the first robots depicted in film was Maria in the 1927 Fritz Lang classic “Metropolis,” and she has had a lasting impact on popular culture. The music video for Queen‘s 1984 song “Radio Ga Ga” used clips from “Metropolis” and Maria is said to have inspired George Lucas when he designed C-3PO — another robot on our list — for “Star Wars.” (Of course, C-3PO is one of the most popular Star Wars characters.)
The robots we like aren’t necessarily all good guys. Far from it. Some, like H.A.L. in “2001: A Space Odyssey” and the T-1000 android in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” will kill anybody who gets in their way. Others, like Ultron and the Daleks, are bent on conquering the universe and even exterminating the human race. However, most are helpful, or at least harmless. And a few, like Andrew Martin in “Bicentennial Man,” want to be human.