Film

Film, TV, Documentaries *

2001: A Space Odyssey. Dir. S. Kubrick. Metro-Goldwin-Mayer, 1968. Film.

One of the most iconic depictions of an artificial intelligence in film is 2001’s HAL 9000. Despite the supercomputer’s claims that he is infallible, HAL’s decision making ultimately comes into conflict with the human crew of the U.S. spacecraft Discovery One in this Stanley Kubrick sci-fi.

Alien. Dir. R. Scott. Brandywine Productions, 1979. Film.

Awoken from cryo-sleep the crew of the Nostromo mining spacecraft discover they have been resuscitated early in order to investigate a mysterious distress signal. When the signal leads to an alien specimen, the ship’s science officer Ash begins to behave erratically. Eventually it is revealed that Ash is an android with special orders from the company that hired the Nostromo: to recover the alien at all costs- the crew is expendable.

Aliens. Dir. J. Cameron. Brandywine Productions, 1986. Film.

Cameron’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s claustrophobic sci-fi horror film drastically ups the stakes; rather than just one deadly xenomorph, there are hundreds. Rescued but still entangled in the machinations of Weyland Corp., Ellen Ripley must return to the planet where the creature was first discovered, but not alone. She is forced to work with a squad of grizzled marines as well as another android, the seemingly well-meaning Bishop, who nevertheless reminds Ridley of the treacherous Ash.

Android. Dir. A. Lipstadt. New World Pictures, 1982. Film.

In 2036, after the ‘Munich revolution’, production of androids has been banned. The mysterious Doctor Daniel however illegally circumvents this restriction onboard his space station in orbit around Earth, creating Max 404. Max’s interest in humanity quickly gets out of hand.

Artificial Intelligence: AI. Dir. S. Spielberg. Dreamworks/Warner Bros, 2001. Film.

In a near future where Earth’s climate has been significantly damaged, David is a prototype robot (called Mecha) created by the company Cybertronics designed to exhibit childlike love for his owners. To test the new machine, Cybertronics employee Henry and his wife Monica ‘adopt’ the child, only to find their lives significantly complicated as a result. In addition to David, a number of other ‘Mecha’ (filling various societal roles) appear in the film, such as Teddy the robotic bear and Gigolo Joe the male prostitute.

Astro Boy. Prod. Mushi. 1963-66, TV Series.

Astro Boy is a robot with super-powers in a future where robots and humans coexist. Originally built to replace his creator’s deceased son, Astro Boy is abandoned, but undeterred goes on to become a kind of super-hero, devoting himself to fighting crime and righting wrongs.

Astro Boy. Dir. D. Bowers. Imagi Animation Studios/Tezuka Productions, 2009. Film.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Dir. J. Roach. KC Medien/Moving Pictures/Eric’s Boy, 1997. Film.

This Bond spoof features fembots: female robotic assassins who use their looks to seduce men before eliminating them with deadly machine guns, gaudily concealed in their breasts.

Avengers: Age of Ultron. Dir. J. Whedon. Marvel Studios, 2015. Film.

The antagonist of this super-hero film is Ultron, a hyper-intelligent robot designed by Tony Stark (Iron Man), who contrary to his creator’s intentions decides the best way to protect planet Earth is to rid it of humans. In addition a new robotic superhero is introduced: Vision, whose decidedly human personality starkly contrasts the cold calculating of Ultron.

Battlestar Galactica. David Erick Productions. 2004-2009, TV Series.

This series focuses on the spaceship dwelling survivors of the Twelve Colonies, human populated worlds in a distant start-system that were destroyed by the insidious Cylons, cybernetic humanoids that mankind created but eventually chose to betray their masters.

Bicentennial Man. Dir. C. Columbus. Touchstone Pictures et al., 1999.

This film follows the integration of the robot housekeeper Andrew into the Martin family. The Martins only wanted Andrew because of the tasks he performed, but as Andrew continues to display human characteristics and sensibilities, they gradually grow to regard him as a member of the family.

Big Hero 6. Dirs. D. Hall and C. Williams. Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios, 2014. Film.

One of the main characters in this Disney animated film is Baymax, an inflatable healthcare robot. Baymax was created by Tadashi, the older brother of protagonist Hiro. Hiro is also a robotics expert; he designs microbots for his school’s science fair.

(The) Big O. Prod. Sunrise. 1999-2000, TV Series.

Set forty years after the residents’ of the fictitious Paradigm City mysteriously lost their memories, this anime follows the exploits of Roger Smith, top ‘negotiator’ (an important job in Paradigm city) and his robot companion R. Dorothy Wayneright.

Black Mirror. Prod. Zeppotron & House of Tomorrow. 2011-Present, TV Series.

This horror anthology series occasionally deals with robots- typically exploring the darker side of their nature and relationship with mankind. In the season two episode “Be Right Back” for instance, main character Martha procures a robot designed to replicate her recently deceased husband’s characteristics- with unexpected results.

(The) Black Hole. Dir. G. Nelson. Walt Disney, 1979. Film.

This sci-fi film about the spaceship Palomino’s return to Earth after a long voyage going awry features two robots whose assistance to the human crew is crucial: V.I.N.CENT and B.O.B.

Blade Runner. Dir. Ridley Scott. The Ladd Company/Warner Bros., 1982. Film.

Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter, operating in a decrepit cyberpunk Earth. As a Blade Runner, his specialty is the elimination of rogue androids: robots that for all intents appear and behave like human beings.

Blade Runner 2049. Dir. Dennis Villeneuve. Alcon Entertainment et al., 2017. Film.

The world of Blade Runner is further explored in this sequel to Scott’s cult classic sci-fi noir. Blade Runner 2049 follows K, a blade runner and new model of replicant, in his quest to track down old models and retire them. In the process K’s duties lead him to uncover dark secrets about the dystopian world he inhabits.

Chappie. Dir. N. Blomkamp. Media Rights Capital/Kinberg Genre, 2015. Film.

Blomkamp’s film focuses on the robot “Chappie” created by expert engineer Deon Wilson, meant to be scrapped but instead saved for testing. Unfortunately Deon is abducted and his kidnappers demand that he program Chappie to rob banks. However animating Chappie unexpectedly produces a robot in a childlike state; the simple Chappie must be taught to commit serious crimes.

D.A.R.Y.L. Dir. S. Wincer. Paramount Pictures/World Film Services, 1985. Film.

Although he looks like an ordinary boy, D.A.R.Y.L. (Data-Analyzing Robot Youth Lifeform) is actually a robot designed by the military; his escape from the base where he was created is the crux of the film.

(The) Day the Earth Stood Still. Dir. R. Wise. 20th Century Fox, 1951. Film.

This golden age Hollywood sci-fi features Gort, a colossal robot who accompanies the alien Klaatu as a bodyguard. He uses a powerful disintegration ray.

Der Herr der Welt. Dir. H. Piel. Ariel-Film. 1934. Released in US as Master of the World. General Foreign Sales Corp., 1935. Film.

This early German language film depicts the mad engineer, Prof. Wolf, and his quest to conquer the world with an army of robots equipped with formidable ‘death rays’.

Dr. Who. Prod. BBC. 1963-89, TV Series.

Eagle Eye. Dir. D.J. Caruso. K/O Paper Products/Goldrest Pictures, 2008. Film.

When Jerry Shaw’s identical twin passes away, he finds himself drawn into his brother’s world of espionage; framed, Shaw is forced to rely on the guidance of a mysterious woman, eventually revealed to be the intelligence gathering super computer AIIRA (Autonomous Reconnaissance Intelligence Integration Analysis).

Elysium. Dir. N. Blomkamp. Media Rights Captial et al., 2013. Film.

The elite society controlling satellite habitat Elysium use robotic servitors to police the unruly population of planet Earth’s surface in this science fiction film that explores topics such as overpopulation, pollution, and classism.

Eva. Dir. K. Maíllo. Escándalo Films S.L. et al., 2011. Film.

Eva takes place in a hypothetical future where robots exist and are programmed to obey; the protagonist is a cybernetic engineer, Alex. Alex defies robotics protocol by designing a ‘free’ robotic cat, illegally created to be unrestricted by commands. The film follows Alex as he is requisitioned to create an S-9, a robotic child, and becomes infatuated with a real life girl named Eva, who he decides to incorporate into the project.

eXistenZ. Dir. D. Cronenberg. Canadian Television Fund, 1999. Film.

Cronenburg’s nightmarish sci-fi depicts a world where usage of videogames has substantially altered society: virtual reality is the norm, and it has become a biomechanical process. Players literally insert themselves into ‘game-pods’ with surgically implanted ‘bio-ports’. As a result, the line between reality and fantasy is increasingly blurred.

Ex Machina. Dir. A. Garland. Film4/DNA Films, 2015. Film.

Computer programmer Caleb gets the opportunity to interact with, and test, newly created ‘feminine’ artificial intelligence: Ava.

Forbidden Planet. Dir. F.M.Wilcox. Metro-Goldwin-Mayer, 1956. Film.

This classic science fiction film features Robby the Robot. Robby’s image (a tall, mechanical humanoid with a monochromatic light for a ‘mouth’) has become an iconic representation of a robot in popular culture.

Futurama. Prod. The Curiousity Company/20th Century Fox Televison/Rough Draft Studios. 1999-2003; 2008-13, TV Series.

Matt Groening’s subversive science fiction comedy features the character Bender, a robot whose vulgar nature (prone to smoking, drinking, womanizing, stealing etc.) stands apart from average depictions of robots. Futurama portrays the existence of robots in a humorous light, quite akin to their human creators. They engage in the same kinds of activities- and debauchery, as their human counterparts.

Ghost in the Shell. Dir. M. Oshii. Production I.G., 1995. Film.

Based on the critically acclaimed anime, this film follows public security officer Motoko Kusanagi in a future civilization where life has become increasingly technologized, to the point where the majority of people interact inside an electronic network, accessible through placing one’s consciousness inside cybernetic ‘shells’.

Her. Dir. Spike Jones. Annapurna/Warner Bros. 2013. Film.

Introvert Theodore Twombly falls in love with his self-aware operating system, Samantha.

Interstellar. Dir. C. Nolan. Legendary Pictures et al., 2014. Film.

The team that investigates potentially habitable worlds on the other side of a wormhole in this Christopher Nolan film is accompanied by two NASA robots, TARS and CASE; both play a crucial role in completing their mission.

I Robot. Dir. A. Proyas. Davis Entertainment et al./20th Century Fox, 2004. Film.

Loosely based on Asimov’s short story collection, this film follows Detective Spooner, a police officer with an intense distrust of robots, as he investigates the murder of eminent roboticist Alfred Lanning. Gradually he comes to suspect that despite the stipulations of the three laws of robotics, a ‘special’ robot created by Lanning, Sonny, may have had something to do with his creator’s death.

(The) Invisible Boy. Dir. H. Hoffman. Metro-Goldwin-Mayer, 1957. Film.

Robby the robot’s popularity in Forbidden Planet led to the creation of this sci-fi film, essentially a vehicle for the robot’s return. Ten year old Timmie suddenly and mysteriously gains immense intelligence. He uses this newfound intellect to construct Robby, who proceeds to do his bidding.

(The) Jetsons. Prod. Hanna-Barbera. 1962-63, TV Series.

This ‘golden-age’ science fiction cartoon features, among other robot characters, the Jetson family’s maid, Rosie.

Johnny Mnemonic. Dir. R. Longo. Alliance Communications, 1995. Film.

This film depicts a cyberpunk future where ‘couriers’ with mnemonic brain implants discretely transfer sensitive information in person rather across the ‘net’, an extensive virtual reality network humans frequent.

Jurassic Park. Dir. S. Spielberg. Amblin Entertainment, 1993. Film.

The main characters on this film have been invited to tour an unconventional amusement park populated by genetically cloned dinosaurs prior to its opening. When the park’s safety mechanisms fail and its exhibits’ break free, they are suddenly on the run for their lives. Jurassic Park famously used animatronic machines to portray the film’s ‘antagonists’.

Lost in Space. Prod. Irwin Allen/Van Bernard/Jodi et al. 1965-68, TV Series.

One of the more iconic depictions of a robot in television belongs to Sci-fi sitcom Lost in Space, which features ‘the robot’ B-9, whose behavior often blurred the line between human and machine.

(The) Matrix. Dirs. The Wachowski Bros. Village Roadshow Pictures, et al., 1999. Film.

Reclusive hacker Neo becomes obsessed with a mysterious computer program, ‘the matrix’. His quest to uncover the truth of the matrix leads to a horrible revelation: that humanity is really enslaved by machines, and that the world as we know it is a hallucination.

(The) Matrix Reloaded. Dirs. The Wachowski Bros. Village Roadshow Pictures, et al., 2003. Film.

The first sequel to the Wachowski’s groundbreaking science fiction film further explores the world of the matrix and fleshes out its implications. Several ‘rogue AI’ (computer-programs who refuse to be reprocessed and instead defect to permanent existence in the matrix) are antagonists in the film. It is suggested that monsters from folklore, such as werewolves and vampires, are actuality rogue AI’s.

The Matrix Revolutions. Dirs. The Wachowski’s. Village Roadshow Pictures, et al., 2003. Film.

Can computer programs experience love? Themes such as these are explored in the third and final instalment of the Wachowski’s science fiction series. Zion, the cradle of human resistance to the machines, finds itself under siege by an impossibly large force of sentinels, robotic beings designed specifically to exterminate humans.

(The) Mechanical Man. Dir. A. Deed. Milano Films 1921. Alpha Video Distributors, 2006. Film.

Although partially lost, Italian film The Mechanical Man features one of the earliest depictions of a robot on screen. A scientist creates a remote controlled robot with superhuman capabilities, only to be killed by a gang of criminals who hijack the mechanical man and use it for lawbreaking. The scientist’s brother proceeds to build a mechanical man of his own to seek revenge.

Medabots. Prod. Bee Train. 1999-2000, TV Series.

Medabots depicts an alternate version of the present where robotic ‘Medabots’ (so named because their personality/intelligence are contained in a ‘medal’ chip that is inserted into a robotic chassis) have become the standard sport of choice; masters pit their Medabots against each other in combat for prestige.

Metropolis. Dir. F. Lang. Dist. By UFA/Paramount Pictures, 1927. Film.

Set in a dystopia where class disparity has resulted in a very uneven distribution of wealth. Follows Freder, the son of the city’s aristocratic master, as he struggles with the injustice of this system. Features the iconic Machinenmensch Maria, a female robot, one of the first depicted in cinema.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Prod. Saban/Renaissance Atlantic/Toei Company Ltd. /MMPR Productions Inc. 1993-95, TV Series.

Derived from footage taken from the Japanese television show Super Sentai, this series follows a group of teenagers who have been chosen and specially trained to be capable of changing into the eponymous power rangers. The power rangers can control Zords, immense assault machines, in defense of earth from a wide array of antagonists.

Minority Report. Dir. S. Spielberg. Amblin Entertainment et al., 2002. Film.

Alongside an array of future tech, spider-like robots appear in this film. These devices are deployed by the police department to scan the retinas of citizens; in this futuristic thriller, everyone’s optic data is on record, cameras are everywhere, and crimes can be ‘solved’ before they happen.

Mobile Suit Gundam. Dir. Y. Tomino. Prod. Nippon Sunrise. 1979-80, TV Series.

At the heart of the various Gundam cartoons’ and films’ is robotic warfare: battles between different ‘Gundam’, large humanoid vehicles that take place in a war ravaged future.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. Dirs. M. Ikeda and S. Takamutsu. Prod. Sunrise. 1995-96, TV Series.

Moon. Dir. Duncan Jones. Stage 6 Films/Sony, 2009. Film.

Astronaut Sam operates a mining facility on the Moon. He lives alone, his only companion being the artificial intelligence GERTY. As his return to Earth approaches, he grows increasingly paranoid that something is amiss.

Mr. Robot. Prod. Universal Cable et al., 2015-present, TV Series.

Mentally unstable hacker Elliot Anderson is mysteriously contacted by an anarchistic individual known only as ‘Mr. Robot’, who recruits Anderson to participate in terrorist-hacking organization; one of the group’s main goals is elimination of all consumer debt.

Mysterious Doctor Satan. Dirs. W.Witney and J. English. Republic Pictures, 1940. Film Serial.

This film serial depicts the attempts of masked man ‘the copperhead’ to thwart the titular antagonist, Doctor Satan. In Episode five, the doctor has a robotic ‘mechanical man’ attack copperhead.

Natural City. Dir. M. Byeong-cheon. Jowoo Entertainment/Tube Entertainment, 2003. Film.

Natural City is set in a future where robots exist, but their use is highly restricted (frequently having an allotted 3 year lifespan) and follows two police officers, R. and Noma, as they track down renegade cyborgs- robots who have an uploaded human consciousness.

Neon Genesis Evangelion. Prod. Gainax/Tatsunoko. 1995-96, TV Series.

In a post-apocalyptic Japan, protagonist Shinji is recruited into the organization NERV to pilot a giant bio-mechanical robot, an Evangelion, in combat against monstrous entities known as the Angels.

Oblivion. Dir. J. Kosinski. Relativity Media/Chernin Entertainment et al., 2013. Film.

‘Tech-49’ Jack Harper works on earth as a salvager/technician who repairs broken combat drones’ on the surface of an Earth devastated by alien war, on behalf of a humanity that has retreated and reformed society on Saturn’s moon Titan. As Jack performs his mission, he begins to discover that the explanation given to him for his amnesia may be inaccurate.

Pacific Rim. Dir. G. del Toro. Legendary Pictures/DDY, 2013. Film.

Humanity is under assault by the menacing Kaiju, emerging from an interdimensional portal at the bottom of the pacific. In a last ditch effort to defend humanity, the Jaegers’ (colossal robots requiring two pilots to operate) are created.

Passengers. Dir. M. Tyldum. LStar Capital/Village Roadshow Pictures et al., 2016. Film.

Two people in cryo-sleep wake prematurely. Years from the colonial world that is their spaceships destination, the two are forced by circumstance to interact with each other, as well as Arthur, a robotic bartender.

Prometheus. Dir. R. Scott. Scott Free Productions et al., 2012.

Taking place in the Alien cinematic universe, Prometheus features the charismatic android David, designed by Peter Weyland to be a perfect being, an entity with superior strength and intelligence that never ages or dies, but that as Weyland himself points out, lacks a soul. The tension between David and his human creators, as well as the contrast between David, who knows his mundane origins, and the human crew, who hope to learn much with the discovery of their potential creators, is a crucial dynamic of the film.

Real Humans (Äkta människor). Dir. Harald Hamrell and Levan Akin. Sveriges Television/Shine Revielle International, 2012. TV series.

This Swedish sci-fi series depicts an alternate version of present day where use of androids, known as ‘Hubots’ has become commonplace. Although Hubots are meant to follow programmed ‘Asimov’ protocols that forbid them from harming a human, illegal modifications are prevalent that allow Asimov bypassing. In response to this intrusion of robots into society, a far-right group forms, known as the ‘real humans’.

Real Steel. Dir. S. Levy. DreamWorks Pictures et al., 2011. Film.

Real Steel explores the implications of sports being altered by technology, presenting a future world where boxing is now performed by robots.

ReBoot. Dirs. D. Zondag, S. Ball and G. Samilski. Prod. Mainframe Entertainment et al., 1994-2001, TV Series.

This animated series takes place inside the ‘mainframe’ computer landscape, where protagonists are ‘programs’ who fight against viruses and compete in games.

Rick and Morty. Prod. Justin Roiland’s Solo Vanity Card Prod. & Harmonious Claptrap, et al. 2013-Present, TV Series.

Dan Harmon’s subversive cartoon typically deals with sci-fi. Occasional robot jokes come up, treating gravely serious questions related to robot ethics in a lighthearted and silly manner. For instance the “Butter Robot” created by Rick in the episode “Something Ricked This Way Comes” inquires to its creator as to the purpose of its existence, to which Rick informs the being it exists solely to pass butter, a prospect that profoundly disturbs and disillusions Butter Robot but is played for laughs.

Robocop. Dir. P. Verhoeven. Orion Pictures, 1987. Film.

In a crime riddled near-future Detroit, the police have been taken over by the corporation Omni Consumer Products. Cop Alex Murphy, fatally wounded in the line of duty, unwittingly finds himself reanimated as the first cybernetic ‘robocop’ and has to deal with what this entails.

Robot & Frank. Dir. J. Schreier. Stage 6 Films et al., 2012. Film.

Retired jewel thief Frank’s son purchases him a robot companion to occupy his time; gradually realizes that he can use the robot, which has no concept of crime, to help him restart his career.

Screamers. Dir. C. Duguay. Triumph Films, 1995. Film.

Based on the Philip K. Dick story “Second Variety”, Screamers depicts a futuristic war on a distant mining planet, where one of the two factions, ‘the Alliance’, create robotic terrors to fight for them: the Autonomous Mobile Swords, killing machines that detect the heartbeat, nicknamed ‘screamers’ because of the sound they make when closing in on a target.

Screamers 2: The Hunting. Dir. S. Wilson. Pope Productions, 2009. Film.

A rescue team arrives on the mining planet Sirius 6B to investigate an SOS. Not only do they discover human survivors, but also the remnants of the robotic screamers, who have evolved, now capable of adopting human form, making them even deadlier.

Silent Running. Dir. D. Trumbull. Universal, 1972. Film.

Botanist Freeman Lowell is hired to maintain plant life on a series of artificial domes in gravitation around Saturn. Although the plants are meant to be used for reconstruction of an Earth devoid of life, their existence comes into jeopardy when the project is aborted; rather than let his work be destroyed, Lowell fights back. He is aided by service robots that he reprograms.

Short Circuit. Dir. J. Badham. Producers Sales Organization/Turman-Foster Company, 1986. Film.

A robot designed by the military is struck by a bolt of lightning. As a result, he gains a new, human-like intelligence.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Dir. K. Conran. Filmauro/Brooklyn Films/Natural Nylon, 2004. Film.

This film, set in a technologically advanced 1939, features the sinister and elusive Dr. Totenkopf, a scientist whose hatred of humanity leads him to create a virtual army of machines to do his bidding, his end goal being complete annihilation of life on earth and then repopulation, creation of a ‘world of tomorrow’.

Star Trek. Ex. Prod. G. Roddenberry. Desilu Productions/Paramount TV, 1966 – 1969. TV Series.

The crew of the USS Enterprise boldly goes where no man has gone before in their mission to spread peace and enlightenment throughout the galaxy. This groundbreaking science fiction television series has several episodes featuring robots, such as the episode “Requiem for Methuselah” where the crew of the Enterprise encounter a reclusive immortal who has built himself a cadre of robotic companions.

Star Trek: The Next Generation. Ex. Prods. G. Roddenberry, et al. Paramount TV, 1989 – 1994. TV Series.

Set one hundred years after the original series, a new crew of the USS Enterprise continues the original crew’s mission of exploring the Milky Way to spread enlightenment. The original crew was unconventional for viewers due to the presence of the alien Spock; this time the conventions are stretched even further due to one of the crew being a synthetic artificial intelligence, Lt. Commander Data.

Star Wars Series:

George Lucas’ space opera Star Wars features a plethora of robots, the two most famous being protocol droid C-3PO and his companion, astromech droid R2-D2, recurring characters who are often a source of comic relief. In The Phantom Menace, the antagonistic trade federation wages war against the planet Naboo with an army of combat droids.

  • Episode IV: A New Hope. Dir. G. Lucas. Lucasfilm Ltd., 1977. Film.
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Dir. I. Kershner. Lucasfilm Ltd., 1980. Film.
  • Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi. Dir. R. Marquand. Lucasfilm Ltd., 1983. Film.
  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Dir. G. Lucas. Lucasfilm Ltd., 1999. Film.
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Dir. G. Lucas. Lucasfilm Ltd., 2002. Film.
  • Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith. Dir. G. Lucas. Lucasfilm Ltd., 2005. Film.
  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Dir. J.J. Abrams. Lucasfilm Ltd./Bad Robot, 2015. Film.

(The) Stepford Wives. Dir. B. Forbes. Palomar Pictures, 1975. Film.

An adaptation of Ira Levin’s novel, this film sticks to the novel’s central premise: robots are replacing the wives of families in the town of Stepford.

Surrogates. Dir. J. Mostow. Touchstone Pictures et al., 2009. Film.

Surrogates depicts a future where android replicas of individuals are manufactured; as a result, no one lives their day to day lives in person, but instead through a remote controlled, ‘surrogate’ host while safely at home.

(The) Terminator. Dir. J. Cameron. Hemdale Film Corp. and Pacific Western Productions, 1984. Film.

Sarah Connor is the unknowing future mother of John Connor- humanity’s only hope against a devastating robot apocalypse. The machines (having developed time-travel technology) desire to quash the human resistance before its inception by sending a deadly robotic assassin, a terminator, back in time in order to eliminate Sarah before John is even conceived. To prevent this assassination a human volunteer among the future resistance, Kyle Reese, is also sent back in time to protect Sarah.

(The) Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Dir. J. Cameron. Carolco Pictures et al., 1991. Film.

The antagonist of the first film in the Terminator series returns, but this time the T-800 that travels back in time has been reprogrammed. Instead of seeking to destroy future leader of humanity John Connor, he must defend an adolescent Connor from a liquid metal T-1000, a superior model that has been sent back by the machines as part of a desperate final ploy.

THX 1138. Dir. G. Lucas. American Zeotrope/Warner Bros., 1971. Film.

Lucas’ film depicts a dystopian future where society is brainwashed with mind altering drugs to suppress their emotions. Everyone is required to dress the same, and instead of names, people are assigned numbers. To maintain this oppressive system, society is policed by threatening android servitors.

Total Recall. Dir P. Verhoeven. Carolco Pictures/SudioCanal, 1990. Film.

Douglas Quaid is troubled by mysterious dreams that suggest he has been to Mars. To remedy this problem Quaid visits Rekall, a company that implants fake memories, to satisfy his desire to visit Mars. This visit to Rekall however reveals that the ‘fake’ memories plaguing Quaid are in fact quite real.

Transformers. Dir. M. Bay. di Bonaventura Pictures/Hasbro, 2007. Film.

Two alien robot factions, the benevolent autobots and the sinister decepticons, have chosen earth as their battleground. Teenage boy Sam Witwicky finds himself caught in the middle of this epic struggle.

Transcendence. Dir. W. Pfister. Warner Bros, 2014. Film.

Transcendent Man. Dir. Barry Ptolemy. Ptolemaic Productions, Therapy Studios/Docurama, 2009. Documentary. Documentary Film.

This documentary focuses on inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil. The film focuses on his life as well as his predictions about the future and their implications.

(The) Twilight Zone. Prod. Cayuga /CBS. 1959-64, TV Series.

This classic anthology series has several episodes that deal with robotics: In “The Lateness of the Hour” protagonist Jana is upset with her father for relying too much on his robotic servants; eventually she discovers to her horror that she is in fact a robot as well. In “The Lonely” an exiled criminal is provided a feminine robot companion to stave off boredom. Initially disgusted by the machine, the criminal gradually falls in loves as he discovers that his companion isn’t so different from humanity after all.

Undersea Kingdom. Dirs. B. Reeves Easton and J. Kane. Republic Pictures, 1936. Film Serial.

This serial focuses on a team of investigators who discover the lost continent of Atlantis and subsequently get caught up in its political affairs. Antagonist Unga Khan’s Imperial Guard use Volkites, hulking robotic warriors.

Wall-E. Dir. Andrew Stanton. Warner Bros. 2008.

This Pixar film depicts a future Earth which has become overrun with refuse; WALL-E, a robot designed by an indulgent humanity to clean Earth’s surface, is the film’s silent protagonist.

Westworld. Dir. M. Crichton. MGM/Warner Bros., 1973. Film.

Set in a futuristic amusement park populated by life-like androids, Westworld depicts the dangerous implications of what would happen the androids started behaving erratically.

Westworld. Prod. Kilter Films/Bad Robot Productions et al. 2016-present, TV Series.

This television adaptation of the original Crichton film takes place in a futuristic amusement park designed, one designed to replicate the Wild West and that is populated with androids. Guests, for a fee, can do whatever they want to these androids that populate Westworld, known as ‘hosts’.

Zombies of the Stratosphere. Dir. F.C. Brannon. Republic Pictures,1952. Film Serial.

In this classic serial the sinister Martians, who seek to knock Earth out of its orbit and put Mars in its place, create a robot to assist their human collaborators.


* List compiled by Karen Asp, Alex Baker and Teresa Heffernan. Annotations by Alex Baker.