The Top Seven Killer Robots

June 24, 2009

Ever since the industrial revolution, mankind has had a certain fascination with the notion of robots, or more specifically, robots which could “think” and interact with humans. But if there’s anything science has taught us, it’s that the pursuit of autonomous robotic technology will always end badly. Attempts to employ proper checks and balances are universally moot, and the technology inevitably becomes self-aware, either through malicious programming or through some brand of deus ex machina. And if the robots also happen to be from outer space, it’s anyone’s guess what they might do. Either way, it’s only a matter of time before unholy carnage ensues.

7. The Killbots from Chopping Mall


The Park Plaza Mall takes the security of its stores, and patrons, very seriously. So seriously in fact, that they've installed a cutting edge security system, which of course includes three roving security robots.

This, of course, happens to coincide with the party plans of a group of teenage mall employees, who're throwing their own private party in the mall after hours. In a sick twist of fate, lightning strikes the security mainframe computer, causing the security bots to go on a kill-crazy rampage through the mall (where they stored the head-exploding laser beams is anyone's guess).

The electrical disturbance also lent the Killbots a dash of personality as well, and they never forget to declare "Thank you, have a nice day!" after they've smeared human flesh across the Macy's jewelry display cases. You’d think that out running robots whose tank-tread style locomotion relegates them to flat surfaces would be an easy task, but as it turns out, you’d be wrong. And dead!

6. Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey


Source: MGM

In Stanley Kubrick’s cerebral science fiction masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick manages to cover a lot of ground, from the dawn of mankind to the...dawn of babies floating in space.

Somewhere in between, self-aware and spiteful supercomputers get into the mix. The particular evil computer in question goes by the name of HAL 9000, and HAL’s job is to maintain the system operations of the spaceship, Discovery One. HAL has the confidence of all parties involved, as this system has a 100% error-free track record.

But when HAL’s record is besmirched when it incorrectly detects a fault in the ship’s communications antenna which keeps them in contact with the Earth, things get hairy pretty fast.

Suspecting that bad things are afoot, Frank, one of the ship’s astronauts, declares that if HAL’s prediction that the antenna would fail within 72 hours proves false, HAL would be taken offline. But the prospect of being taken offline does not sit well with HAL, and he proceeds to kill the entire crew of the ship. Dave, one of the other astronauts, proves to be a resourceful chap, and manages to thwart HAL by physically removing HAL’s memory modules one at a time, and HAL audibly experiences what could only be described as the world’s first live robot lobotomy.

5. Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still


Source: 20th Century Fox

Standing at over eight feet tall and hailing from the farthest reaches of outer space, Gort, the intergalactic “peace officer” robot from the 1951 classic The Day the Earth Stood Still, cuts quite a figure. And like any good peace officer, Gort’s job is to preserve peace -- by any means necessary! So naturally, Gort is fitted with a laser weapon which is deployed from his visor, which he uses to vaporize any and all obstacles, be it debris, weapons, or ugly people.

Gort, being of the stoic sort, spends much of the movie motionless, and does not speak. But as Gort might say, if he did in fact talk, actions often speak louder than words. And when those actions involve death rays, people tend to listen.

So when Gort’s alien master Klaatu is killed by some soldiers with itchy trigger fingers, Gort decides to let the laser beams speak for themselves, as the humans have proved yet again that they simply cannot have nice things.

4. The Gunslinger from Westworld


Source: MGM

In the not-so-distant future, adults will find amusement and entertainment in elaborate, zone-based theme parks. Unfortunately, not a lot of foresight will be put into the design of these theme parks, as they will be stocked with humanoid robots that are armed to the teeth with various instruments of death. What could possibly go wrong?

Although the robots are programmed to boost the high-buck guests’ egos, their own sense of pride eventually gets in the way. Instead of capitulating to human-on-robot sex acts, losing swordfights, or getting dropped in a gun duel, the robots decide to turn the tables and start taking a few names for themselves.

And once the gunslinger android from the western-themed portion of the park goes on the fritz, it embarks on a killing frenzy throughout the park, apparently taking glee in gunning down everyone it comes across. And like any good killing machine, this one comes back from the dead at least three or four times before finally shutting down for good.

3. The ED 209 from Robocop


The ED 209 robot, the “cop that never sleeps,” was, quite frankly, nightmarishly intimidating. Nevermind the fact that it has machine guns for arms and stands about 10 feet off the ground. No, the truly crazy thing about ED 209 is that whenever it gets annoyed by someone’s actions, it would let out the roar of a lion to show its distain for criminals.

Come to think of it, they programmed the ED 209 with a veritable barnyard of angry animal sounds, which actually served to heighten the fear factor. I mean, homicidal robots are one thing, but enraged lions trapped inside of homicidal robots are quite another.

Fortunately for us, the staircase negotiation programmer was on vacation when these monstrosities went into service.

2. The Decepticons from Transformers


Source: Paramount Pictures

When you’re a giant transformable robot from outer space, killing humans is basically effortless. But that’s not the root of the problem with the Decepticons. Part of what makes the Decepticons such dicks is that they’re totally arrogant. They look at human kind as a pest which should, you know, probably be exterminated in their quest for their own self-centered goals. And while they have very human-like personalities and bonds with one another, they have no regard for actual human life.

And it seems obvious that a major contributor to the fact that the Decepticons haven’t been able to get their act together, as far as victory over the Autobots goes, are those human traits. For instance, there appears to be constant jockeying for position amongst their ranks (Star Scream, I’m looking at you). That whole scene just brings a lot of negativity to their mission, which ultimately contributes to their generally punk-ass attitudes. I guess that’s why they’re called Decepticons instead of Cooldudes.

1. Cyberdyne Systems T101 from The Terminator


When the Skynet supercomputers became self-aware, and decided the best way to improve their situation was to annihilate all the people in the world, it created what is, without question, the deadliest robot ever. Taking the appearance of a former Mr. Universe champion with a robotic “Austrian” accent and programmed solely for the purpose of killing people, the Terminator is the high-water mark of killing machinery. There may have been newer, more advanced models like the liquid-metal T1000, but none of them had the heart for the job that the T101 did.

Even when the T101 was programmed to protect humans, it still had a hard time grasping the idea of restraint when it came time to neutralize combatants.

You could shoot him, you could burn him, or you could stab him in the eye. None of this means anything to a Terminator. They will find you. They will not stop.

Unless you have a hydraulic press. Or some molten steel. Or an A-bomb.