For decades, robots have been a part of movie culture, ranging from sci-fi blockbusters to animated movies for all of the family. Regardless of where they appeared from, the best robot characters in movie history have captured the hearts of audiences through their personality and overall iconic status.
Lovers of movies, science fiction, and robots have taken to Ranker to vote for who they feel is the greatest robot in the movies. Whilst there have been more than one for particular movies, there are also some underrated gems that have deservedly made their way into the top ten.
Short Circuit is an 80s sci-fi comedy movie about a military robot who escapes after becoming sentient and befriends a young woman called Stephanie. The robot in question is Johnny 5, who could not be farther from what is expected from a military robot.
Johnny 5 is cowardly and clumsy but he is curious and well-meaning, making him a lovable and entertaining character, despite his dated appearance. Yet it is in partial thanks to Johnny 5’s likability that Short Circuit not only produced a sequel but became a cult classic.
The blockbuster movie franchise Star Wars has several robot characters (or droids) across its movies, television series, and even novels. One of its newer droids that have made a big splash with viewers is the spherical BB-8.
First appearing in The Force Awakens to aid the soon-to-be Jedi heroine Rey, BB-8 quickly won over not just Star Wars fans but moviegoers in general for being loyal, persevering and simply adorable. Whilst not as hilarious as a certain pair of droids, there’s no questioning BB-8’s iconic status is not just the franchise but 21st-century cinema.
Big Hero 6 was Disney’s attempt to appeal to the superhero fan market. Although it has an interesting plot with touching moments, it’s very easy to pick out which character single-handedly stole the show, and that is Baymax.
The marshmallow-like machine is a healthcare robot whose top priority is the safety of his human master, which becomes Hiro after his brother passes. With his well-meaning intentions and eventual touching bond with Hiro, Baymax captured the hearts of Disney fans, becoming one of the best Disney sidekicks in recent years.
RoboCop is a classic sci-fi action movie released in 1987, spawning three sequels and a reboot since. The eponymous anti-hero is Officer Alex Murphy, who is killed but bought back to life with cybernetic enhancements, turning him into a cyborg.
What makes Murphy (portrayed by Peter Weller) such a fantastic anti-hero is the duality of his character. He’s likable and good-natured human side contrasts and battles with his newer emotionless killing machine side that he is forced to become, making him a complex and likable character audience can feel sympathy for.
Transformers started life as a toy franchise before delving into the world of live-action movies. By the second movie, the franchise began to flounder but was rescued by a spin-off movie, Bumblebee, which is set in the 1980s.
What makes Bumblebee so likable is not only his endearing personality but the way he connects with the human lead character, which is teenage Charlie. After two movies of simply robots fighting one another, it was refreshing and a delight to see a robot with heart and a genuine character arc.
Whilst Star Wars has many droids, two droids will remain among not only the greatest movie robots but among the most iconic characters in cinema history. The first of these droids are the stuffy humanoid droid, C-3PO.
Fussy, fearful, and very well-spoken, C-3Po is one of the main sources of comic relief in the franchise, along with his best friend R2-D2. Yet unlike most comedic characters, C-3PO proves to be a loyal and valuable asset to the Jedi team, not only helping the human characters in rescue and rebellion but proving to be extremely useful with his expansive language database.
One of the best-animated robot characters ever to grace the big screens is the Iron Giant. This critically-acclaimed masterpiece tells the story of a lonely boy called Hogarth, and his discovery of a giant robot intended for the military. Similar to Bumblebee, Hogarth and the giant robot become friends.
The Iron Giant, despite his size and strength, is a gentle and curious machine that is also very protective of Hogarth. With this, combined with his heroic yet heartbreaking sacrifice in the movie’s climax, the Iron Giant touched many watchers’ hearts and left them all in floods of tears.
There’s no questioning that The Terminator is one of the most iconic movie characters of all time, let alone one of the best movie robots. It was the role of the initially-villainous cyborg assassin T-800 that shot Arnold Schwarzenegger into stardom.
The Terminator starts the franchise as a ruthless killing machine, both captivating and terrifying viewers to this day. And let’s not forget one of the most legendary movie catchphrases ever: “I’ll be back.” In the sequels, Arnie’s robot killer is rebooted into an anti-hero and a fearsome protector of young John Connor.
Pixar’s animated movies have touched several hearts over time, and there is no exception with Wall-E. This spectacularly animated movie followed the eponymous trash-compacting robot and his discovery of a plant on a now-toxic planet Earth.
Although thought-provoking, Wall-E’s character is undeniably adorable, especially when he falls head over heels for the sleek robot EVE, making way for a heartwarming sci-fi romance. Wall-E’s adoration for EVE only makes him even sweeter and lovable, which can result in some tear-jerking moments for watchers.
It’s little surprise that Ranker users picked a Star Wars droid for their number one greatest movie robot. It’s even less of a surprise that said Star Wars droid is the delightful R2-D2.
Speaking only in beeps and whirring noises, R2-D2 is adorable yet surprisingly yet hilariously cheeky and rude, a contrast to the well-mannered C-3PO. Yet R2-D2 doesn’t just provide laughs. R2-D2 plays a significant role in the movie that started it all, A New Hope, as storing the plans of the rebellion, helping to solidify his status as one of the greatest movie robots in history.
NEXT: 10 Best Animated Movies With A Robot Protagonist