The 10 Most Badass Robots of All Time
The Zombie Star looks back and ranks the 10 most badass robots of all time.
- The Iron Giant
Starting off our list of most badass robots of all time is the Iron Giant at number 10. Nothing amplifies concepts like wonder, danger, and sacrifice as when they’re being explored through the eyes of a child. Hogarth knows nothing of these things outside of cheesy sci-fi films, comics, and his own heightened sense of imagination. Upon crashing near Hogarth’s hometown, the Iron Giant changes all that. Child-like itself, the Iron Giant displays a naivete and vulnerability when aimlessly eating powerlines and railroad tracks in order to feed and repair. Hogarth befriends the timid beast, and together form a strong bond that neither can form on their own, one due to landing in a strange place while the other is just strange. Aside from showing great capacity for compassion and drive to learn, the Iron Giant demonstrated ability in destruction that causes great tension between the two, as well as the town. While the Iron Giant learns of the dark nature that reside in man and the finality of death, it becomes captivated with the joy of life and in preserving the things that matter most. The Iron Giant discovers a faith in human nature, so much that it decides to render its existence in order to preserve the most important thing it found on Earth – his friend. “You stay. I go”
- ED 209 Enforcement Droid 209
Detroit is a war torn city with its law enforcement out-numbered and out-gunned. In Desperation, extreme countermeasures to the city’s blight are adopted and chaos ensues. ED 209 is an intimidating automated harbinger of death, and comes equipped with a substantial amount of ordinance that would make War Machine jealous. In a botched demonstration, ED 209 turns an eager volunteer into red jam displaying its thoroughness in absolute annihilation, but is defective in protocols, or sympathy. Robocop learns of Dick Jones’ insidious plans and intends to make an arrest. ED 209 intervenes and, whether you like it or not, defeats and nearly kills Robocop. Luckily for our metallic hero, ED 209 is rendered useless as it comes into contact with its only weakness – a staircase.
Probably the best Star Wars video game in the history of the franchise, Star Wars: The Old Republic sets a timeline well away from the core films where Jedi and Sith are ancient versions of themselves, but still at constant war with one another. WIth a Republic in open conflict with Sith lords and Mandelorian war-mongers, much of the galaxy is a lawless body of chaos. In these dark times, bounty hunters and assassins run rampant as gangs and syndicates vie for power. Along your journey, you come across a peculiar type of killer in HK-47. As capable with words as he his with a blaster, HK quickly becomes a common party member for its vast skills with assorted weaponry and competency in deception. Initially, HK is tricking you into thinking it is a law-abiding droid simply wanting to help you on you journey. Only after purchase, you discover its deadly secret and qualities in mercilessly killing at the behest of its master. The game allows you to make significant choices regarding your journey as well as you party members. Should you choose the dark and reign death across the galaxy, HK happily obliges, although should you choose the light and oppose the tyranny inflicted upon the republic, HK obliges as well, but quips at your every decision and finds most of your interactions as boring. Whatever the case, HK is an unforgettable addition to the Star Wars extended universe that will long be a franchise favorite.
Ok, so technically, Cyrax is a cyborg consisting of human and robotic parts. Still, as a robot/human we have been impressed with Cyrax’s dominance and popularity within the Mortal Kombat franchise, and in gaming as a culture. Since MK3, Cyrax has been a fan favorite for his iconic look that differed from the established roster of combatants, and fighting style and abilities that brought fresh mechanics to the famed title. Narratively, Mortal Kombat tells a story of a member of the Lin Kuei, an order devoted to producing the most deadliest fighters in the world. Cyrax is forced into their Cyborg Initiative, and undergoes a drastic cybernetic alteration making him the cyborg ninja we all know today. Ultimately, Cyrax learns of the nefarious nature of his order and self-destructs in order to bring an end to their atrocities. As a competitor in the Mortal Kombat tournaments, Cyrax utilized various technological methods of attack and defense. Our personal favorites being the green net and grenades which were paramount in setting up devastating combinations. What mostly sets Cyrax apart from his counterparts, Smoke and Sektor, are his unique fatalities which usually consisted of him blowing himself up along with his defeated opponent. Cyrax makes our number 7, and lets not forget he can blow up the world whenever he pleases.
It has to be a challenge to make something inanimate so adorable and huggable as Big Hero 6’s Baymax. In a narrative embracing adult themes such as deep loss and vengeance, Baymax brings an innocent character void of corruption. Young and rebellious, Hiro Hamada doesn’t know what to do with his genius in robotics except hustle a little money, until the intervention of older brother and friends. Hiro is inspired and pursues an education in using his skills to create and invent. The film takes a quick turn for drama when an explosion takes Hiro’s brother’s life leaving him alone and detached. All left to Hiro of his brother is a prototype medical bot named Baymax. What transpires between Hiro and Baymax is not only a quest for answers and justice for his brother’s demise, but a quest for spiritual reconstruction and hope when all is taken away. Through quirky exchanges and perilous encounters, Baymax teaches Hiro to trust again and redefines the meaning of family when it feels you have been abandoned.
After being struck by lightning, a Nova Corp. prototype transport grows sentient and the most humorous and lovable journey involving a robot begins. Initially, Johnny-5 posses the curiosity and innocence of a child as he comes into contact with his first human, Stephanie. Johnny, naive and vulnerable, is introduced to concepts such as home, music, animals, and O-re-gon. In one memorable moment, Stephanie becomes overwhelmed with Johnny-5’s ravenous need for “input” that drives it stir-crazy. After she builds a parent-like relationship with Johnny, its past catches up to them and Johnny quickly learns of darker aspects to human life. The nefarious Nova Corp. intends on re-acquiring Johnny-5 and repurposing him for more tactical means. Johnny learns about loss, pain and death and decides that it, or any of its friends for that matter, will not be “disassembled”. Influenced by television and advertising, Johhny-5 dispatches its foes with unforgettable one-liners and references, making him the 5th most badass robot of all time. Honestly, no pun on him coming in at number 5, that’s just how it worked out.
- Optimus Prime
When you think of the words robot and hero, few names can make the list of best ever in existance. Coming in at number 4 is Optimus Prime. The leader of the autobots endured the destruction of his home planet, living adrift in the galaxy, and desperately seeking asylum on an alien world. Still, Optimus Prime organized the Autobots and allied with human kind to defend against the injustices of the evil Decepticons. Optimus’ sacrifices and persistence in the name of good are traits embodied only in the purest of heroes. In the end, Optimus falls at the hands of Megatron, and before succumbing to his wounds, Optimus’ only concern was the preservation of the Autobots, and the steadfast fight for justice and peace in the galaxy.
Star Wars earns two places on our list with our witty astrodroid R2-D2 at third place. With its high tendency to get itself involved in dire situations and its ability to defy difficult odds, R2 made for an unseemingly amazing robot. R2-D2 is first introduced to the world as a common droid on a top-secret mission on behalf of Princess Leia. WIth Darth Vader in pursuit, R2-D2 executes a daring escape boarding a pod and jettisons into space avoiding capture. R2-D2’s legacy is filled with more valiant accolades consisting of defeating more than formidable foes, aiding several Jedi on their perilous adventures, and being an unwavering force of heroism. It wouldn’t be out of line to suggest that with so many close-calls, R2-D2 is able to command the force when needed, especially when it comes to trash compactors.
The original Terminator still sends chills down our spines with its cold and meticulous assassinations of targets. Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered a silent merciless stalker that executed people expressing no remorse or hesitation. Equipped with an arsenal, the terminator was able to murder an entire police station while pursuing its target, Sarah Conner. In the films climax, the red-eyed metal skeleton is revealed and we witness the great lengths required to destroy the dreaded T-800. Most evident of its deadly notoriety isn’t a scene with the T-800 in action, rather, it is Kyle Reese’s frantic and frightening explanation to Sarah about what it means to be hunted by a Terminator.
Earning The Zombie Star’s first place in the most badass robots in popular culture is, Avengers’ Ultron. Like Icarus, Tony Stark goes too far and creates a technological marvel that grows beyond anyone’s control. The mad robot Ultron is born, and becomes one of the most formidable villains the Avengers have faced (until Thanos of course). Ultron is a walking, talking, and killing super-computer hacked into our planet capable of causing mayhem everywhere he goes. The collective forces of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are truly put to the test when Ulton becomes a hive mind that commands a legion of Mark suits. Ultron is able to keep our heroes at bay as his army lays waste to the country of Sekovia, nearly destroying the entire landmass. It isn’t until the help of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D, that the Avengers are able to destroy Ultron and save the populace. Brilliantly voiced by David Spader, Ultron was given a disturbing human element in the most evil and sadistic fashion that made this badass robot our favorite.