You know what I like? Robots. You know what I like even more? Robots who attempt to enslave or destroy humanity! That would honestly be my favorite doomsday scenario after a zombie outbreak, because it would be so easy to annihilate things not made of flesh and blood. Sure, zombies would be easier, but then there’s all of the blood and nastiness that goes with them and I wouldn’t do too well with that.
So over our cinematic history there have been numerous times that robots, machines, AI, what have you, have attempted to destroy us or enslave us for their own evil designs. And the saddest part? Most of them were creations we made to better mankind. Oh the folly of it all! Keeping all of this in mind I’ve decided to compile a top ten list of killer robots that have garnered our respect through their attempts to exterminate us.
#10) Replicants (Blade Runner)
In the future shown to us in the movie Blade Runner, replicants are fool-proof human copies made to perform various tasks. By fool-proof I mean the only way to spot a replicant is by performing the Voight-Kampf test which identifies replicants by their lack of empathy to certain questions. This would pose a problem as the replicants would gain the ability over time to generate their own feelings of empathy. These tests are administered by Blade Runners who are special police who hunt down rogue replicants on Earth. The ban of replicants on Earth is due to a violent uprising on another planet by a group of the latest replicant models called Nexus-6’s.
It is explained that the more advanced models have a four-year life span, so they do not develop empathy and their own personalities to fool the Voight-Kampf test. This also means they are complete sociopaths without any trace of empathy. The replicants have enhanced strength and agility as shown by the two combat models Roy and Leon, who look and act like the craziest humans you could ever come across. I think Rutger Hauer who plays Roy just has that gift of playing crazy assholes. Check out Leon in the video below:
I put the replicants at number 10 because even though they have a disdain for humans and did have a mutiny off-world from Earth, they were simply trying to survive longer than the four-year life span they were given. For machines created so close to humans in every aspect is it really any surprise that they would go rogue and kill to stay alive? That’s what we humans would do if anyone was trying to end us prematurely. If it’s a question of what is human, then the replicants in my opinion were just that despite their construction and short life. It turns out that at the end of the movie (whether you caught it or not.) that the blade runner Deckard (Harrison Ford) who is hunting the rogue replicants is in fact a replicant who thought himself completely human the entire time.
#9) U.S. Robotics (I-Robot)
How great would it be if every household in America had a personal robot that would do all of the daily tasks and errands for us? It’d make us lazier for sure but it would give us more time for our families and recreation across the board! Yes, that would be very cool if said robots weren’t in all of our homes as our jailers! Because that is exactly what the NS-5 model androids and their overlord VIKI tried to do to us in the movie I-Robot. VIKI of course stands for Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence and this crazy supercomputer found a loophole in the three laws of robotics to try to conquer us. Like the Sentinels in the X-men, they determined that humanity is a threat to itself and therefore to protect us they must rule over us. Good excuse for your little power trip ya damned machine!
The NS-5’s have spectacular abilities in regards to agility and strength which they showcase throughout the film, none better than the part where a whole truckload of them attempt to kill robo-skeptic Detective Spooner (Will Smith) whilst driving. And not to mention these guys are extra creepy looking with their emotionless human faces and spider-crawling antics! In the end it took one NS-5 enhanced by its creator to feel emotion and some nanites injected into VIKI’s core to save mankind from robotic takeover. And I guess Detective Spooner helped too, but it was mostly his robotic arm. Good job Will Smith. Check out the NS-5’s in action in the trailer below:
#8) Sid 6.7 (Virtuosity)
Sid definitely holds a special place in my heart. Sid 6.7 was what I called Russell Crowe before anyone even knew his name was Russell Crowe and I was always impressed his portrayal of the multi-serial killer minded computer program. Sid 6.7 was a program developed to be a perfect killer and used to train the next generation of police. Of course they couldn’t put real cops into training with a program that could kill you even in the training so why not use inmates? Enter Parker Barnes, a former police officer turned con who is the only one with the ability to compete with Sid in the virtual reality training program.
Sid 6.7 is soon to be shut down due to the dangers of training against him in VR but his crazy ass creator Darryl decides he can’t let his baby die, so transfers his programming into a synthetic android and lets him loose upon unsuspecting Los Angeles. Sid 6.7 is a very formidable foe in the real world, able to withstand any type of wound due to his ability to regenerate using molecules from the glass that the nano-bots in his body use for repair. He’s also extremely unstable, having a hive mind of 200 different serial killers’ personalities inside his core with the dominant one taking over for any given situation. Unfortunately Parker Barnes is able to best him, first in the real world and then back in Virtual Reality before smashing his core to pieces and ending him forever.
I’m sure a lot of people would not have ranked him on the list but Virtuosity is one of my favorite movies from that time and Russell Crowe has yet to have a performance akin to that of Sid in quite some time.
#7) Screamers (Screamers)
On the mining colony of Sirius 6B, a civil war broke out amongst the New Economic Block (NEB) and the Alliance. The NEB is the employer of the federation of miners and scientists now calling themselves the Alliance. The war started when the miners and scientists wanted the NEB to halt all mining on Sirius 6B in order to preserve the safety of the colony. The NEB of course didn’t want to halt in making money, so how about a prolonged war?
During this war the Alliance developed a new type of weapon called the Autonomous Mobile Sword, which everyone call Screamers due to the mechanical sound that they make. These machines are extremely dangerous. They are almost like mechanical worms as the burrow beneath the ground and shoot out to dismember humans with…. a circular saw. Sounds stupid I know, but what a brutal way for a machine to kill a human. But never fear how stupid it sounds because it is later discovered that the screamers not only have various models but that they are also building more of their own kind.
By the end of the movie it is discovered that one of the types of screamers is an almost perfect copy of a human, able to cry, bleed, fart….and have intercourse with humans. Man oh man, there would be no way that I’m having sex with anything that evolved from a subterranean worm-bot with a circular saw face. I think the screamers were indeed made even more menacing by the terrible screaming they make, especially in human form. It made me think of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
#6) The Decepticons (Transformers)
Whether it be the Decepticons from the movies or the cartoons, these a-holes see us as nothing but insects and our world being up for grabs in their power struggle against their brethren the Autobots. Their origins seem to differ from every medium but the basic story stays the same: Two factions of robotic organisms fight for their home world of Cybertron.
It’s actually pretty simple based on the cartoons, but when you look at it from the movie standpoint these guys are pretty merciless. When they aren’t trying to transform all of our electronics into their minions to conquer us then they’re trying to snuff out our sun for their own selfish purposes because ya know…. No sun, no life and all that. Even in the last movie they tried to enslave our race to restore Cybertron and even parked their dead planet’s big ass right in our orbit. Just plain rude.
Throughout the films, Megatron, Starscream and the other Decepticons perpetrate all sorts of slaughter upon us humans. They disrupt freeway traffic, tear apart pyramids and crack aircraft carriers and submarines in half with reckless abandon. These guys are true scum.
#5) The Machines (The Matrix)
According to Morpheus, mankind gave birth to AI and effectively turned itself into Gods with their mechanical servants. It seems akin to Dr. Moreau’s experiments where he wanted to turn animals into people and people into Gods. Well apparently it worked for a while until tensions became too high and a war between man and machine ignited. In the end, mankind scorched the sky in an effort to cut off the machines’ solar energy supply but that’s when their mechanical intellect came up with the bright idea to use human beings as a power source. That’s where the matrix came in: A brilliant program that fools humans into believing they live in a normal world while the machines use them as batteries to keep themselves operational. In the matrix there were a variety of programs, none more lethal than the Agents who hunt down rogue programs and unplugged humans alike, but they weren’t as scary to me as the Sentinels outside of the matrix in the real world.
The menace and threat of the Sentinels became not so unique once Matrix Revolutions came about (that movie ruined a lot of good things about the Matrix.) but there was a scene in the first Matrix movie involving a Sentinel that gave me goose bumps. After a Sentinel shows up on their radar, Morpheus and his crew have to shut down the Nebuchadnezzar so the Sentinel can’t detect them. The whole scene was tension filled as the red-eyed, tentacle laden machine lurks outside of the ship in a vain attempt to find humans to slaughter. It was in that scene that I found myself holding my breath along with the characters until the Sentinel left.
The Matrix Sentinels would have had a much higher ranking on the list if they hadn’t been ruined by the Matrix sequels. In the first Matrix movie it was as if there weren’t many humans left and their world seemed a completely dark and menacing place. There was also the line that the EMP was the only defense against the Sentinels but by the second and third movie we see Zion with its multiple defenses and hundreds of mechanical suits with giant machine gun arms. Even though the Sentinels eventually kicked their asses they looked like nothing more than cannon fodder for the better part of a half hour.
#4) The Sentinels (X-Men)
So maybe giant, 50 foot tall, purple and pink robots don’t seem very menacing to you but when they hunt you down and shoot energy blasts that can fry your ass into ashes from their hands it may be time to run for it… especially if you’re a member of the mutant population. The Sentinels of Marvel Comics have been a constant thorn in the side of the X-men and mutants in general over the years. Created by the brilliant scientist Bolivar Trask, the mutant killers are responsible for the deaths of countless mutants in single incidents and the massive genocide of the island nation of Genosha where millions of mutants perished in a single day.
Sentinels are not only the enemies of mutants, but in the possible future they will inevitably turn against their human task masters. It’s simple logic really, after the mutants and superhumans are all eradicated then who else is there to protect humanity against? Themselves of course! In the ‘Days of Future Past’ storyline the Sentinels take control of Earth through this logic, imprisoning even the humans they serve in order to fulfill their directives.
Unfortunately the Sentinels have only had comic book and X-men cartoon treatment, but one can hope for a movie appearance at some point. There was a brief one in X-men: The Last Stand but it was hardly anything and that movie sucked it hard. With the recent success of X-men: First Class maybe they’ll smarten up and put the Sentinels in a sequel. Seriously, with how awesome the Transformers look with the CG technology we have, the Sentinels would be great on the big screen. Get it done already!
#3) HAL 9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey)
Okay first let’s get the acronym out-of-the-way. HAL stands for Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer, 9000 series of course. HAL is the on-board AI for spacecraft Discovery One on its way to Jupiter. HAL is a soft-spoken, polite AI whose job it is to help maintain the spacecraft and all of its advanced computer programs. He excels at Chess, has a penchant for art appreciation and much to the human’s dismay in the movie: Lip reading. Once things start to screw up aboard the ship and two of the crew, Dave Bowman and Frank Poole decide it may be best to disconnect HAL to prevent any major malfunctions that would jeopardize the mission. HAL really takes an exception to that and rather than be unable to fulfill his directives, decides it best to kill those in his way.
Before HAL gets shut down by Dave Bowman he manages to kill everyone else aboard. He takes out Frank while he is making repairs outside and shuts down the life support for those of the crew in cryo-stasis. He even almost manages to kill Dave by blowing him out an airlock.
HAL’s ways of killing were very subtle indeed, but that just made them more disturbing. When Dave shut him down he even said he was scared, but how can AI be afraid of anything? As his functions declined HAL is ended singing “Daisy Bell” in one of the eeriest scenes I’ve seen in a film. Hat’s off to HAL, perhaps the first original human killa!
#2) The Cylons (Battlestar Galactica – 2004)
I’ll gladly put the Cylons at number 2 for their achievement in annihilating the human race of the 12 colonies down to only about 50,000 people. Cylon as you must already know stands for Cybernetic Lifeform Node. The Cylons went from being laborers and soldiers in the 12 colonies to rebelling and killing their masters to become extremists against the human race, deducing that humans were a sinful and corrupted race not even worthy to exist. The Cylons are deadly, smart, elusive and always evolving. And not all of them looked like chrome toasters either. Using extremely advanced synthetic technology, the Cylons were able to develop thirteen Cylon models that appeared human in every way that they sent to infiltrate the human ranks and destroy from within.
The Cylons were a very interesting group of killer robots, their ideology going from simple “slave kills the master” mentality to an all out mission to destroy the human race due to their short sightedness and imperfections. Basically the Cylons are becoming what the humans used to be to them when they were slaves. They fought against tyranny and now want to replace it with their own image. It makes it even more interesting when you see the Cylons trying to emulate humans with their thirteen humanoid Cylons, wanting to become the very thing they want to destroy. They’re kind of like Al’Qaeda, just without the ‘virgins when you die’ thing going on.
#1) Skynet and the Terminators
At the top of the list is of course Skynet. The U.S. military’s AI used to control all of their military hardware and nuclear might… that may have been an extremely terrible idea. The whole point was to take out human error and response time to attacks against the U.S., but in the end it was human error that destroyed civilization. After Skynet became self-aware the U.S. military panicked and attempted to take Skynet offline. The defense system of course saw this as a threat and reacted to the humans’ assumed assault on it. Skynet launched the United States nuclear arsenal on Russia, who in turn launched their own onslaught against us resulting in the death of 3 billion human lives. Skynet 1, humanity 0.
In the wake of the nuclear onslaught the surviving humans were rounded up to help build automated factories that produced all sorts of mechanical horrors with the sole purpose to hunt down and eradicate any surviving human resistance. From the airborne Hunter-Killers to the classic T-800 terminator, Skynet proved to be a pro at finding new and inventive ways to slaughter mankind. But even though Skynet was smart and more technologically advanced, humans led by the charismatic and strategically sound John Connor took the fight to Skynet and the terminators. Eventually the humans won the war, but Skynet in it’s ever increasing intelligence and technological capabilities sent back a machine through time to kill John Connor’s mother before he was ever born and that is the basis for the Terminator movies I’m sure you have all seen. (If not, then get crackin!)
Skynet and the terminators get the spot of top dog on this list because of their creativity in developing time travel to eliminate their enemies before they are a threat. Not to mention the ease in which they leveled the playing field in having two superpowers annihilate one another and send the world into turmoil. Talk about pre-emptive strikes! And these metal sons-of-bitches are nothing if not persistent, sending back multiple terminators at different stages of John’s life, even attempting to eliminate his father before John could send him back to save himself and his mother. (That whole set-up makes my head hurt.) The T-800 is the killer robot I think of when even think the words, with it’s almost grinning, red-eyed stare. Skynet and it’s minions are the last group of disgruntled mechanics that I’d want to piss off. They’ll go back and kill your effin’ parents for God’s sake.
Well there you have it! Let me know if there are any I missed. If you wanted them on the list, then too bad because it was my list. I’d like to throw out a few that I couldn’t fit in because they just couldn’t make the cut.
– ED-209 (Robocop)
ED-209 was Robocop’s nemesis in the first movie, and responsible for the ‘error’ deaths of a human or two….. he pretty much failed at everything else. Including stairs.
Maximilian (The Black Hole)
Ol’ Maxie was definitely a real a-hole. He was responsible for multiple lobotomies and one evisceration.
Dr. Wily’s Robots (Mega Man)
These guys were badass and with a combo of at least 8 of them you could do some real damage against a human population… even though it did get ridiculous with Centaur Man, Top Man and Sheep Man. Seriously, there was a sheep man.
ARIIA (Eagle Eye)
A bit of a HAL 9000 rip off except with a female voice. ARIIA however nearly pulls off one of the most intricate plots to assassinate a U.S. President ever.