10 Best Television Robots
To make a real working robot could take millions if not billions of dollars. Creating a fake robot may not cost quite that much but designing one that allows audiences to get lost into the world being created is not cheap. For television shows with relatively smaller budgets per episode than a film, bringing these robots to life can be extremely challenging. Perhaps that is why we find so many animated robots on this list. The following are my top 10 favorite television robots.
Show: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979-1981)
Body: Felix Silla
Voice: Mel Blanc & Bob Elyea
- Mel Blanc was replaced by Bob Elyea in season 2, but fans protested and Mel was brought back for the last few episodes.
- Mel Blanc also provided the voice of Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Marvin the Martian, Gossamer and Computer in the Looney Tunes parody Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 24½th Century.
About: Captain William Anthony “Buck” Rogers’ space shuttle has a life support malfunction in 1987 and he is frozen for 504 year. Upon being rescued in the year 2491, he learns that a few months after his accident Earth’s civilization was destroyed and had to be rebuild because of nuclear war. Buck Rogers was placed in the Earth Defense Directorate, to guard Earth and its citizens. To help Buck Rogers in protecting earth, he worked with Colonel Wilma Deering, Twiki, and Dr. Theopolis.
Twiki was referred to as an ambuquad instead of a robot. He was assigned to helping Buck Rogers adjust to his new time period and culture. Named after his model number, TWKE-4, Twiki was used as the comic sidekick and communicated with electronic sounds "biddi-biddi-biddi". These sounds would often be followed by 20th-Century slang that was outdated in the new era. Inspired by R2-D2 and C-3PO , Twiki wore a sentient computer around his neck known as Dr. Theopolis. Dr. Theo could understand Twiki’s robotic language and often got frustrated with Twiki, as Twiki took on more human mannerisms learned from Buck Rogers.
Why Top 10: Twiki originally did not make my top 10. However, Steve Lensman recommended him on my old profile and, after a lot of thought, I agree that Twiki should be included with the top 10 movie robots. Not only was Twiki voiced by the amazingly talented Mel Blanc but the humor he brought to the show was priceless. I don’t care what Crow and Servo from Mystery Science Theatre 3000 say, Twiki is fantastic!
9. Victoria "Vicki" Ann Smith-Lawson
Show: Small Wonder (1985-1989)
Actress: Tiffany Brissette
- Tiffany Brissette was nominated for 4 Young Artist Awards.
- Seth Green was up for the role of Jamie Lawson
About: Ted Lawson is a robotics engineer who creates a Voice Input Child Identicant that resembles a 10 year old girl. Lawson brings the robot home, so it can develop in a normal family environment. He gives her the name Victoria "Vicki" Ann Smith-Lawson and says she is his daughter. Lawson’s wife and son except her as part of the family and try to hide her true identity from the world. The most trouble comes from Harriet Brindle, their next door neighbor and daughter of Ted’s co-worker, who is a little too nosy for her own good and shows up at the worst possible moments.
Why Top 10: Vicki was not a strong enough character to make the top 10 android list but deserves a spot among her fellow television robots. Her comic attempts at mimicking human behavior were brilliantly executed. This comedy was great for the whole family. Girls could watch a young lady in a lead role and boys got an android. Parents had a show the whole family could enjoy together. Plus, she had an AC power outlet under her arm, that has to be worth something.
Show: G.I. Joe (1985-1986)
- There have been over 20 variations of the Cobra B.A.T. action figures.
About: The Battle Android Troopers were designed for Cobra in 1986 by Doctor Mindbender. These robots were exactly what Cobra needed in their fight against G.I. Joe. They offered brute strength and overwhelming numbers on the battlefield. BATs were cheap to produce and expendable. In an attempt to make them easily repaired on the battlefield, the chest was left open, exposing their parts for easy access. However, they tended to explode when shot in the back leaving little to repair. Their right forearms could have the hand replaced with flamethrowers, laser cannons or gripper claws. Over the years Cobra has upgraded the B.A.T.s. With each new upgrade they have improved the weapon systems but diminished the intelligence. The BAT is known for shooting at anything that moves and living Cobra troops prefer not to fight alongside them for fear of getting shot.
Why Top 10: In the animated series, the Cobra BATs were little more than fodder for G.I. Joe to mow down on the battlefield. That is exactly why they made this list. Our heroes could destroy hundreds of these bad guys, causing fiery chaos and we were not bothered with the morality of killing. Go Joe!
Show: Futurama (1999-Present)
Voice: John Di Maggio
- Bender was named after Judd Nelson’s character, John Bender, in the Breakfast Club.
- Billy West, who does the voices for Philip J. Fry, Dr. Zoidberg and Prof. Hubert J. Farnsworth, had auditioned for the role of Bender.
About: As Leela would say, Bender is an “alcoholic, whore-mongering, chain-smoking gambler”. Bender may exhibit sociopath behaviors but through countless actions, he has proven himself to have kind a heart under that rough exterior. Bender and his best friend Fry have adventures all over the galaxy as they work for the delivery company Planet Express in the 31st century.
Why Top 10: Bender is the Fonzie or Barney Stinson of Futurama. Originally a secondary character, he ended up being the breakout star. He has made appearances on the Simpsons, was the inspiration for the song “Bend It Like Bender” by Devin Townsend Project, and in 2008 Techradar ranked him #2 in the Baddest Movie Robots. He lost to the Terminator and that says a lot.
6. Rosey The Robot
Show: The Jetsons (1962-1988)
Voice: Jean Vander Ply
- Rosey was inspired by Shirley Booth’s maid character in the 1960s television show Hazel.
- Her robot model number is XB-500
About: The Jetsons were a family that everyday families could relate to but living a 100 years in the future (2062). Many of the situations we face today were also handled by this family of the future. Except their problems usually involved robots, aliens, holograms and crazy inventions. Rosey the Robot Maid was an older demonstration model that the Jetsons hired from U-Rent a Maid in the shows very first episode. This sweet, emotional and motherly robot was a part of the family ever since.
Why Top 10: Rosey the Robot Maid is as famous as any member of the Jetson family. Rosey has become a permanent fixture in our society. She has been featured in television commercial and spoofed on modern cartoons. When a new cleaning robot is being developed or released into the marker, news articles constantly bring up Rosey and our quest to make her a reality.
5. Tom Servo & Crow T. Robot
Show: Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988-1999)
Tom Servo Voice: J Elvis Weinstein (28 Episodes) / Kevin Murphy (184 Episodes)
Crow T. Robot Voice: Trace Beaulieu (141 Episodes) / Bill Corbett (48 Episodes)
- All the robots were made of common items found around the house.
- Crow was named to give him a Native American vibe. Servo was named after the candy dispenser Servotorn and the name Tom was given by the original actor, J Elvis Weinstein, to portray Servo.
About: In the future, two mad scientist trap a janitor in a space station and force him to watch horrible B-movies until he goes insane. With this knowledge they hope to take over the world. In an attempt to keep his sanity the man and his robot companions constantly mock the different films that are shown. They are the peanut-gallery from the vaudeville days reinterpreted for the future hecklers of the world.
Why Top 10: This show would be nominated for two Emmys and won a Peabody. By winning this kind of acclaim and fan base for doing something we have all done with a group of friends and a case a beer, these two deserve to be on the list. Thank you for making heckling legitimate.
4. Cylon Centurion
Show: Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979)
Voice: Michael Santiago
- Unemployed basketball players were cast as Cylons because the actors in the costumes had to be over 6 feet tall.
- “Imperious” Leader was chosen for the Cylon leaders because the word “Imperial” was strongly associated with the then recently released Star Wars.
About: Technically, the Cylons in the original series were an advanced reptilian race that quickly became extinct thousands of years before this story takes place. The robots we see in the series were their creation and humanity has taken to calling these robots Cylons. It is believed that these robots were responsible to the Cylons extinction. The series starts with the robots almost completely wiping out the Twelve Colonies of Humanity and then pursuing the survivors across the galaxy.
Why Top 10: The argument could be made that the remake in 2003 had far superior Cylons than the original but this is the original inspiration. I loved the organic Cylons. However the new metal versions may have looked sleeker but lacked that unique quality to make them standout. The red eye, electronic voice and clunky suit made these Cylons legends.
Show: Transformers (1984-1987)
Voice: Arthur Burghardt
- Hasbro now labels the toy as “Constructicon Devastator” because of legal-political reasons.
- The Constructicons were originally Autobots but Megatron turned them into Decepticons by reprogramming them with the Robo-Smasher
About: The Decepticons ultimate goal is to protect their home planet of Cybertron, no matter how many planets and life forms they have to destroy in the process. This evil group of Transformers believe in the power of strength. Only the strongest should lead and they all believe themselves to be the strongest. Decepticons may have been the villains but they transformed into really cool objects. Autobots were filled with cars while the Decepticons had jets, guns, and a boombox.
Why Top 10: This spot is for all the Decepticons but I had to choose my favorite. Megatron is the leader but it always bothered me that a big robot turned into a gun that any human could hold. Starscream whined too much. I loved Soundwave and his cassette tape Transformers but today with MP3s he is really dated. The Constructicons by themselves were nothing special but when joining to form Devastator they brought Transformers to a whole new level. This would the first of many Transformers that would join together to form one large juggernaut of a robot. Finally, Transformers would have nothing to fear from Voltron (if these two cartoons should ever merge).
Show: Transformers (1984-1987)
Voice: Dan Gilvezan
- Early versions of the Transformer treatments had Bumblebee named Goldbug. This name would come back in the third season when Bumblebee was rebuilt and became Goldbug.
- Transformers: The Movie did not have Bumblebee transform into a volkswagen beetle because of fears that people would make associations with Herbie the Love Bug.
About: The song says it all, “The Transformers! More than meets the eye! Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons! The Transformers! Robots in disguise! The Transformers! More than meets the eye! The Transformers!”
Huge robots from space that can change into vehicles as they fight between clear lines of good and evil. What boy would not fall in love with this premise?
Why Top 10: This spot is reserved for all the Autobots, who fight for humanity as they battle to stop the evil Decepticons. Starting out as toys, Transformers branched out and have dominated the television, movie, and comic book markets as well. (I HATED the movies and could not put them in Top 10 Movie Robots.) Everybody has their favorites. It might be the Autobots leader Optimus Prime, Dinobots, or a multitude of others but for a variety of reasons my favorite has always been Bumblebee; as one of the original Autobots to crash land on earth he has been a vital team member from the beginning, in an effort to prove himself he was constantly charging into danger, and I love his constant wisecracks. As you can tell from this and other list, I tend to lean toward comedy.
1. Robot B-9
Show: Lost In Space (1965-1968)
Voice: Dick Tufeld
Body: Bob May
- It cost $75,000.00 to create the Robot. There were two of them built for the series and each weighed over 200 pounds.
- Robot B-9 was designed Robert Kinoshita, who also created Robby the Robot.
About: A family from an overpopulated Earth is sent into space to begin the process of colonizing other worlds. Their spacecraft, the Jupiter 2, is sabotaged by Dr. Zachary Smith and crash lands on an unknown planet. Smith remains with the crew and goes from the villain to a flawed hero. Stranded in space they would eventually start hopping to different planets as they attempt to find earth and survive the deadly trials of space. On these adventure they had a Class M-3 Model B9, General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot, which was simply referred to as Robot. With super strength and advanced weaponry, Robot would not only be a vital tool but also a good friend because of its all too human characteristics.
Why Top 10: The Robot made the top of this list for a couple reasons. His phrase “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!” has become so famous that it is now used in everyday language when somebody is about to make a mistake or overlooking something obvious. Top that with his constant mocking of the doctor and amazing guitar skills, you have an instant classic.
Robby The Robot Links
Top 10 Robot Links
Show: Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979)
- Muffy was brought to life by putting trained chimps in the costume.
- Three chimps played Muffit.
About: When Boxey’s pet daggit, Muffit, was killed during the Cylon attack on Caprica, Boxey was traumatized and would not eat. Since all daggits had been killed in the Cylon invasion, Apollo requested Dr. Wilker give Boxey a prototype robotic daggit to help ease his pain. Muffit II would be Boxey’s best friend and was responsible for saving many of the crew on several occasions. In case you are unfamiliar with the original Battlestar Galactica, a daggit is a dog.
Why: Ok. Muffit looks ridiculous and is a bit cheesy. However, a robotic dog in space is awesome. To have a trained ape as the performer inside makes it even more amazing. This one is for all those dog lovers. I mean daggit lovers. Originally Muffit was in 10th place but Twiki knocked him out of the list. I still wanted to include him as a runner up.
Show: Dr. Who
Recommended By: LagunaAlkaline