10 Best Androids
The term android has become the general name given to any robot made with synthetic material and created to look and act like a human being. However, to be more technical, androids are made to resemble males and gynoids resemble females. For the purpose of this list the android must appear as if it were covered in human flesh and not just have the shape and anatomical details of a human.
* This article will not be about the android tablets or phones. That proved to be a major headache in my research.
10. Stepford Wives
Movies: The Stepford Wives (1975 & 2004)
Actresses: The entire town.
- The Stepford Wives was going to be a scripted play but Ira Levin changed it to a novel when there ended up being too many characters for a staged production.
- The 2004 remake was a failure, and so were the three television sequels/remakes; Revenge of the Stepford Wives (1980), The Stepford Children (1987), and The Stepford Husbands (1996).
About: A family moves into a small suburban town where the husbands gather at an exclusive men’s club while their beautiful and submissive wives go about taking care of women’s work. Turns out that these docile women used to be successful career women and strong feminist. Upon further investigation it is revealed that the wives have been replaced by androids.
Why Top 10: A Stepford Wife has become a term used in our everyday language when referring to a submissive housewife. It seems appropriate to give these androids a spot on the list. It has had a major impact on pop culture and been the influence for music, films, television, books and our news commentaries. The Stepford Wives made for a great suspense story and also criticized the then perceived images of a “good” wife.
Movie: Westworld (1973)
Actor: Yul Brynner
- The Gunslinger’s point of view shots were the first time digitized images were made part of a feature film. 10 seconds of footage took 8 hours to create.
- Oil-based make up was mixed with crushed Alka-Seltzer to create the acid burning effect on the Gunslingers face. The “acid” thrown at him was water.
About: The movie is set in a futuristic theme park where people can spend their time in the wild west, medieval Europe or ancient Rome. Androids make up the native population, so visitors can kill an outlaw, have sex with a whore or whatever their desires might be and feel no guilt. Only a malfunction causes the robots to stop following orders. Things turn deadly when the robots take on a life of their own. The Gunslinger, who is used to being shot in duels, is not content to lose anymore. He will now kill anybody who challenges him or hunt down those not brave enough to face him.
Why Top 10: Have we got an android for you! The Gunslinger was the very first killer robot that stalked its victims mercilessly. It had no fear, no emotion, it simply hunted down its prey until they were dead or he was completely incapacitated. Yul Brynner was amazing in his performance and to have him play off his famous role as Chris Larabee Adams in the Magnificent Seven was genius.
Movie: Austin Powers Franchise
Actresses: Cheryl Bartel, Cynthia Lamontagne, Cindy Margolis, Barbara Ann Moore, Donna W. Scott and many many more, including Britney Spears.
- These characters were based on Blofeld's Angels of Death from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) and Octopussy’s Cult from Octopussy (1983).
- Their appearances were modeled after Nancy Sinatra and her 1966 performance of These Boots Are Made For Walkin.
About: These sensual robots, with breast cannons, were created to take advantage of Austin Powers’ overactive sex drive and eliminate him. The first group was almost successful but Austin Powers was able to overpower their circuits by performing a striptease. We learn in the second film that Austin’s recent bride, Vanessa Kensington, was a Febot and the third instalment gave us a Britney Spears’ Fembot.
Why Top 10: “I like to see girls of that... caliber.” Gynoids in science fiction are often built by men, attempting to create the perfect woman. Austin Powers was able to play on these stereotypes with amazing humor. To defeat them with his overpowering mojo only made it more spectacular.
The pigeon walked away instead of flying at the end of the film, because its feathers were too soaked from the rain.
7. Roy Batty
Movie: Blade Runner (1982)
Actor: Rutger Hauer
- Rutger’s poor pronunciation of “father” or “fu**er” in his line “I want more life, f---er” when speaking to Tyrell was done on purpose. This way the line could make it into both theatrical and television releases without encountering problems with the sensors.
- Rutger was cast without auditioning for Ridley Scott. Scott loved his non-identifiable American look and was impressed with his previous work in Turkish Delight, Keetje Tippel and Soldier of Orange.
About: Roy Batty led the 5 replicants who fled to earth in hopes of extending their short life expectancy. As a military model replicant he was endowed with superhuman physical capabilities, genius intelligence, and refined combat skills. All of these attributes made him the the perfect adversary for Rick Deckard.
Why Top 10: Roy Batty could simply of been a menacing killing machine that our hero had to find a way to overcome. Instead this robot had a soul. He struggled with his emotions and contemplated the meaning of his life. For the climax at the end of the film, Roy chose to save the life of Deckard, a man who was hunting him down.
6. Evil Maria
Movie: Metropolis (1927)
Actor: Brigitte Helm
- The cast for the suit was made standing up. This caused moving and sitting down in the suit difficult and Helm would continually get pinched and scratched while in costume.
- People felt sorry for Helm having to wear the uncomfortable gynoid costume, so they slipped coins into the suit’s slots so that she could buy chocolate.
About: Evil Maria has gone by many different names since her creation; Maschinenmensch (German:machine-human), Parody, Ultima, Machina, Futura, Robotrix, False Maria, Hel, and Machine-Man. The film Metropolis is set a dystopian future, where the rich live above ground and the poor toil in deadly jobs underneath to keep the machines running. The leader of this city’s son falls in love with a woman named Maria. She is a spiritual leader who wishes to help free the working class from their deadly burden through peace and lover. A gynoid is given her appearance and used to spread evil amongst both the rich and poor in an attempt to give those in power a reason to squash any resistance from the people. The robot proves more malicious than thought and leads to riots endangering the city and the children living down below.
Why Top 10: The gynoid in Metropolis would be the the first time a robot made it into a moving picture. She first appeared onscreen in 1927, to this day her accentuated curves and haunting face are still discussed. Maria is more recognizable than the film or novel she appeared in. Her design would influence the look of future robots and clothing styles. She even inspired songs and movies for years to come.
Movie: Alien (1979)
Actor: Ian Holm
- Ash was not in Dan O’Bannon’s original screenplay. It was Walter Hill and David Giller who made him a robot in the script.
- Milk was used in the close-up of Ash’s innards but because milk spoils quickly under hot lights, most of the time colored water was used for his “blood”.
About: A spaceship with seven crew members aboard is towing mineral ore back to Earth. On the return journey the ship intercepts a distress signal and wakes the crew from stasis. They land on the planet to investigate but are unable to find any survivors. They do discover a strange alien creature. The science officer Ash breaks protocol when he allows an infected crew member to board the ship. This was unusual because Ash was the most adamant about following company rules and regulations. After the alien is loose on the ship and killing crew members, we discover that Ash is not human but actually a Hyperdyne Systems 120-A/2 Android. He attempts to kill Ripley but is stopped by the surviving crew members. To their horror, they discover that the company gave Ash the secret orders to "Bring back alien life form. Crew expendable."
Why Top 10: By not revealing himself as an android until the suspense of the film was well underway, the audience was taken completely by surprise and it helped heighten the tension in the story. Not only were they stranded in space with an alien hunting them down but the company they worked for was more interested in the aliens survival than their own. That’s Drama! Ian Holm managed to make himself as menacing as the alien devouring the crew.
Movie: Aliens (1986) Alien 3 (1992)
Actor: Lance Henriksen
- Henriksen was Cameron’s original choice to play the Terminator. When the role was changed from a robot that could blend into a crowd to a muscular killing machine he was no longer right for the part.
- Henriksen and Bill Paxton are the only actors to have fought and been killed by a Terminator, a Predator, and a Xenomorph. (Arnold Schwarzenegger is such a whimp)
About: Ripley is awakened from her cryogenic stasis 57 years after the end of the first film. The “Company” sends her back to a now partially terraformed planet LV-426, with a well armed group of space marines, to investigate why they lost contact with their colony. An android named Bishop was sent along with the team to oversee planetary maneuvering. Bishop does not engage in combat but would be vital to the crews survival. The crews safety was paramount in his programming and he would sacrifice himself to save any of their lives.
Why Top 10: After Ellen Ripley’s experience with Ash, it was not easy for an android to earn her trust but Bishop went above and beyond to prove himself. He not only won Ripley over but audiences as well. Both of the androids in the original Alien trilogy were contenders for this spot. Bishop edged out Ash because of the actor who played him. Lance Henriksen would take on the roles of Bishop II in the third Aliens movie and Charles Bishop Weyland in Aliens vs. Predator. If any other actor besides Sigourney Weaver is associated with the Alien franchise it would be Henriksen.
Movie/Television: Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-2005)
Actor: Brent Spiner
- Data was originally the Chief Science Officer but the blue uniform clashed with his skin color makeup, so they made him Chief Operations Officer and had him wear a gold uniform.
- Data was inspired by a Star Trek Phase II concept and an unsold Gene Roddenberry pilot called The Questor Tapes. In Phase II, there was going to be a character named Xon who was full Vulcan and lacked emotions. However, he wished to use his high intelligence to help him mimic human behavior. The pilot was about an Android studying humanity and trying to find his creator.
About: The crew of the Enterprise NCC 1701-D continues the Star Trek tradition “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” However, this Federation crew would be more diverse than its predecessor, who only had one alien among them. Not only did the crew, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, have a Klingon as its tactical commander but there was also an android. Lieutenant Commander Data is the second officer and chief operations officer on the Enterprise. Despite never being given a promotion within the normal timeline (it is Star Trek) he has been an invaluable crew member. As a sentient android, Data possess many extraordinary skills; his positronic brain allows him to access and process large amounts of information quickly, he has strength and reflexes far superior to any intelligent species in the federation, and is able to survive many biological and atmospheric conditions that would kill his fellow crew members. These attributes have saved the entire ship on more than one occasion. For years Data lacked emotion and was fascinated by human behavior and understanding their illogical idiosyncrasies. Above all he wished to find his own humanity. One day his inventor Dr. Noonien Soong was able to give Data an emotion chip to help him on his journey.
Why Top 10: For a robot that wished to be human and lacked emotion Data had more humanity than many characters. Brent Spiner would get love letter for Data from female fans. Maybe it was his pet cat but I have a feeling it had more to do with his endearing personality. With superior strength, intelligence, reflexes and lifespan, Data still had that naïve charm that drew an audience in.
Movie: Terminator Franchise
Actor: Arnold Schwarzenegger
- The famous clinking sound made by the unskinned terminator was created by Brad Field by simply hitting a microphone with a cast iron skillet.
- The scene where the Terminator steals the station wagon was shot a few weeks before the movie was released. With no more budget for permits or a crew, James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger filmed the scene by themselves in two hours. Schwarzenegger had a change of clothes hidden to quickly get out of costume before any police arrived.
About: In a future where machines have taken over the world and declared war on humanity, there is one man who stands in their way of total success. John Connor will help lead humanity to stand up against the machines. Several Terminators were sent into the past to eliminate this future threat. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator was first sent as an assassin to kill John Connors mother, Sarah Connor. Other versions of his Terminator model would be sent later to be John Connors protector. These machines would not only be Connor’s guardian but also friend.
Why Top 10: In the first movie Arnold Schwarzenegger was able to perfectly captured the dominating presence of a Terminator with only 17 spoken sentences. For the sequels he was able to bring life, love and humor into a killing machine. Good or bad, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator was able to grab the audience and make them cheer. The Terminator made both of the American Film Institute’s lists of the 100 Greatest Heroes and Villains. No other character, played by the same actor, has ever accomplish this.
Movie: Blade Runner (1982)
Actor: Harrison Ford
- Harrison Ford accidentally hurt Sean Young when he pushed her. Her real reaction to the pain and shock from the incident were used in the final edit.
- Deckard was going to wear a 1940s hat throughout the film but the idea was scrapped because of Harrison Ford’s soon to be iconic Indiana Jones fedora.
About: In the distant future 2019...wait....anyway...organic robots called replicants are used on off world colonies for jobs most humans would not want. The use of human replicants is banned on earth and if a replicant comes to earth they are destroyed by a group of agents known as Blade Runners. The film starts with several violent replicants escaping to earth and hiding in Los Angeles. Rick Deckard, who is one of the best Blade Runners around but burnt out, is brought in to find and “retire” these replicants. As Deckard hunts them down and rediscovers his own humanity, we learn that these replicants are seeking their own sense of self, along with living beyond their predetermined shelf life.
Why Top 10: Deckard holds the top spot on the Android list because in the film we do not know if Deckard is a replicant and neither does he. What better android than one capable of fooling himself. There were even debates amongst the actors in the film and the director. Harrison Ford played him as human because he felt making Deckard and android would “undercut the human story of Deckard discovering his lost humanity”. Rutger Hauer, who played the antagonist Roy Batty, also felt Deckard should be human because otherwise “it reduced the final clash between Deckard and Batty from a symbolic ‘man vs. machine’ battle to two replicants fighting.” Although Scott told Ford that Deckard would not be a replicant, he edited the film to leave it open to interpretation. Then in July of 2000 Ridley Scott stated Deckard is a replicant. Sorry Harrison, but film is a director's medium and the final call goes to Ridley.