The Best Robot Movies of All Time
Though the appearance of robots has changed over the years, the artificial lifeforms have remained a steady staple within the science fiction genre since the beginning of cinema itself — perhaps most famously in 1927’s Metropolis.
But there have been plenty of robot movies in the last 90 years. The following 10 films are the best of the best in terms of their portrayal of robots.
Star Wars (1977)
The entire Star Wars series is full of robots and cyborgs and various other artificial lifeforms, but it’s 1977’s Star Wars that first introduced the world to a pair of lovable bots named C-3PO and R2-D2.
The pair’s unusual friendship – C-3PO seems to be the only one who can understand R2’s beeps and whistles – stands as the backbone of the entire original trilogy, which confirms their place as perhaps the most iconic non-living characters in cinematic history.
WALL-E’s pursuit of a fellow robot named EVE is genuinely romantic and thoroughly engaging, and it’s impossible not to feel a burst of emotion when the pair finally do get together at the end of the movie.
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
With A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Steven Spielberg introduced viewers to David, a lifelike robot that’s been designed to look, sound, and behave like a young boy.
Haley Joel Osment’s flawless performance as David plays a key role in the character’s placement on this list. It’s also worth noting that the movie boasts several other memorable robotic characters – including David’s sidekick and companion, a walking, talking teddy bear named Teddy.
The Terminator (1984)
The granddaddy of evil robots, The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a vicious killing machine that will do whatever it takes to kill its target, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) – including murdering other folks that just happen to share her name.
Although the sequels have featured some pretty impressive robots in their own right – especially Robert Patrick’s T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day – it’s James Cameron’s original creation that remains the true classic.
The title character may not be a robot – he’s actually a cyborg if you want to get technical about it – but Robocop still deserves a place on this list because of ED-209.
ED-209 is a fierce, absolutely frightening robot that’s been outfitted with an intimidating voice and a pair of enormous machine guns, the latter of which are memorably used against a hapless employee during a board meeting.
Short Circuit (1986)
For anyone that grew up in the 1980s, Number 5 might be the first robot that comes to mind when the subject of movie robots is broached. The character, also known as Johnny 5, possesses a friendly, outgoing demeanor that’s utilized to great (and often comedic) effect in 1986’s Short Circuit.
It’s hard not to immediately sympathize with Number 5’s efforts at evading the military’s advances, although, as we eventually learn, the character has been outfitted with enough firepower to easily defend himself (and the people he comes to love). A sequel followed in 1988.
Forbidden Planet (1956)
In the 1950s, filmmakers toyed with a number of different science-fiction oriented ideas and elements – with robots becoming more and more prominent as a result.
One of the most well-known robots from that era is Forbidden Planet’s Robby the Robot, as the character’s oversized, rather clunky design became the standard by which artificial lifeforms followed for the next several years. The robot on the ‘60s Lost in Space television series, for example, looks quite similar. Forbidden Planet is also notable for starring Leslie Nielsen before he was known for comedy.
Star Trek: Generations (1994)
It’s impossible to compile a list of famous robots without including at least one of the Star Trek: The Next Generation movies, as Data (Brent Spiner), remains one of the most well-known and iconic robots within the pop culture landscape.
In Star Trek: Generations, the brilliant and beloved android finally received the emotion chip that he had been coveting for much of The Next Generation’s run – with the hilarious nature of his subsequent efforts at dealing with simple feelings like happiness and sadness providing the otherwise fast-paced adventure film with its heart and soul.
The Iron Giant (1999)
Brad Bird’s fulfills a dream that many of us had when we were kids in that it details the unlikely friendship that ensues between a small boy and a 50-foot, metal-eating robot.
Despite his intimidating appearance, the title character becomes a surprisingly sympathetic figure that the viewer can’t help but root for – with Vin Diesel’s commanding voice performance playing a pivotal role in cementing the movie’s success.
I, Robot (2004)
This one’s a bit of a no-brainer. Based on the famous short story collection by Isaac Asimov, transpires in a world that’s virtually overrun by robots because the artificial lifeforms perform a variety of mundane (and not-so-mundane) tasks and jobs.
At the center of the storyline is Sonny (Alan Tudyk), a robot who possesses a desire to overcome his rigid programming and become more than just another cog in a very large machine.