R2-D2 Star Wars
Perhaps the world's favourite droid, R2-D2 (and, to a lesser degree, his buddy C-3P0) is surely the first name that comes to most minds when the words " movie robot" are mentioned. Luke Skywalker's faithful companion has appeared in all six Star Wars movies to date and is set to return to screens on December 18 when The Force Awakens is released.
T-800 The Terminator, 1984
It was a tough decision whether to go for the T-800 or its more advanced, shape-shifting successor, the T-1000, which debuted in 1991's Terminator: Judgment Day. In the end, the honours go to Arnie's classic model from 1984's first movie. The original is always the best, goes the logic. Also, he does have all the best lines.
Ash Alien, 1979
Ian Holme’s creepy android, which we assume to be human for much of the movie, is one of the best things about the classic sci-fi (not quite the best – that honour falls to the stomach-bursting scene). His secret mission to return a specimen of the terrifying alien species to Earth turns ugly for the crew of Nostromo, who meet a variety of grisly ends before Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley finally saves the day.
ED-209 RoboCop, 1987
The Enforcement Droid series 209, or ED-209, is touted as the future of law enforcement in the dystopian sci-fi action yarn. Unfortunately, having gunned down an OmniCorp executive at its first demonstration, things go from bad to worse and our half-human, half-robot hero has to put them out of service, along with Detroit’s corrupt city fathers.
Roy Batty Blade Runner, 1982
It was a tough task to pick just one of Blade Runner's rogue replicants, with Darryl Hannah's Pris also in the running, while the ambiguity of Harrison Ford's Deckard, who it is implied could be a replicant himself in the movie, could even have seen him take the podium. We've ultimately gone for Rutger Hauer's Batty, however, largely for his tear-jerking final monologue as his circuits shut down.
Gunslinger Westworld, 1973
Yul Brynner's android cowboy in the Westworld amusement park could reasonably be said to be the daddy of The Terminator. To say James Cameron "borrowed" from the film – particularly its closing scenes – for his later movie would be an understatement and although Michael Crichton's film may lack The Terminator's slickness, it was an inspiration for the host of techno-noir robot movies that sprung up in its wake in the 1980s.
Johnny 5 Short Circuit, 1986
A childhood 1980s favourite, and some welcome light relief in a decade where robots in movies tended to be all about the dark and dystopian, à la Terminator or RoboCop. Military robot Johnny becomes sentient after being struck by lightning and the film is essentially an ET-lite caper as he tries to escape recapture by his military overloads with his new human friends. It may not have attained the same status as Spielberg's alien version, but it's good fun, nonetheless.
Maria Metropolis, 1927
Fritz Lang’s expressionist sci-fi epic is one of the first movie portrayals of a robot and remains a classic to this day. The revolution-fomenting droid comes unstuck at the end of the movie, having seemingly contributed to the deaths of the children of Metropolis’s workers, but not before she successfully inspires the masses to rise up against their masters and destroy the city’s main power station.
Marvin, the Paranoid Android
The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 2005
Manically depressed robot Marvin is one of many classic characters from Douglas Adams’s series of novels, which have had major successes on TV and radio as well as the movie adaptation, where he was played by Warwick Davis and voiced by Alan Rickman. Marvin’s incessant complaining is invariably hilarious and bonus points are also awarded for inspiring the name of one of Radiohead’s finest songs.
Optimus Prime Transformers
Optimus makes the list as a last-minute addition, thanks to nostalgia for the 1980s TV series rather than any love for Michael Bay's bombastic, yet simultaneously turgid movie adaptations. Optimus can always be relied on to protect the world from the evil Decepticons and is also one of many cultural icons to be namechecked in Pop Will Eat Itself's 1980s/1990s indie disco classic Can U Dig It?.