Technology is a funny thing. On the one hand, we cannot get enough of it, eagerly awaiting the next big thing that will make our lives so much easier. On the other, it scares us to the point that, at the release of the newest gadget, we readily start preaching about the good old days.
Robots have long acted as the perfect example to our paradoxical human nature. They are constantly used in science fiction as a way to explore what it means to be human, whether it is by challenging moral values or threatening our existence. Despite having seen multiple examples of robotics gone wrong, there are a number of mechanical beings that lead us to be optimistic and hopeful about a future of robot/human co-existence. It does not matter that they’re fictional, or that they’re (mostly) made of metal, there is still some part of us that cannot help but think how much more awesome it would be to have these friendly robots in our lives.
So without further ado, here are 15 Robots We Wish Were Our Friends.
15. T-800 – Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Fine, the Terminator was programmed to protect John Connor, but surely there must have been some element of choice to it as well? At least we like to think so. He might have been the bad guy the first time around, but when the T-800 returns in T2 it is for the sole purpose of keeping John safe. Not surprisingly, John treats the Terminator as his personal live action figure at first – because what boy wouldn’t want a superstrong robot that does whatever you tell him to?
But in between trying to save the future of the human race, the two form a bond stronger than that of a boy and his killing machine. Even John’s mother, Sarah, admits that T-800 is probably the best father figure John could have: one that would never leave his side or allow anything bad to happen to him. And when it becomes clear that John won’t get to keep his newfound hero, we found ourselves close to bursting into tears right along with him. Hasta la vista, Arnold.
14. Data – Star Trek: The Next Generation
Having Data as your friend would no doubt get frustrating at times, but there’s no denying that this inquisitive android has been playing a crucial part in the Starfleet over the years. With his shiny face and often puzzled look, Data has been a source of comedy in many otherwise perilous moments. Having difficulty understanding some forms of human behavior, Data’s “outside” view of humanity does not just result in comedic events; it also functions a trigger for reflection on what it means to be human.
Like many other androids on this list, Data’s fascination with humans eventually causes him to take it one step further. For him, it was as simple as the insertion of an emotion chip. Even though this pretty much caused him to overload on emotions, once he got the hang of it, Data’s wisdom, curiosity and sensitivity made him into a better person than most could hope to become. This is one android we would definitely want to have on our space crew.
13. Bender – Futurama
Described as an “alcoholic, whore-mongering, chain-smoking gambler” by fellow Futurama character Leela, Bender is perhaps not the most obvious choice for this list, or on any “friends list” for that matter. But we’d argue that his frequent outbursts to get rid of all humans are simply a habitual facade to mask his (deeply buried) sympathetic side. It is because of this that Bender’s sociopathic, narcissistic, and downright awful behavior becomes the side of him that we love to hate.
Besides being a kleptomaniac and pathological liar, Bender’s softer side shows in his fascination with cooking and secret wish of becoming a folk musician. In addition, his not-so-lovable qualities make us appreciate his affection for his best friend, Fry, even more. We wouldn’t mind having Bender as a friend either, if only to make us feel better about ourselves. Hpefully we’d end up alongside Fry on Bender’s “Do Not Kill” list.
12. Andrew – Bicentennial Man
Where friendly robots are concerned, the Pinocchio story (or shall we say syndrome) is a recurring one. Bicentennial Man is no different. It centres on the story of Andrew and his long journey from robot to man. Starting as a “malfunctioning” housekeeping robot, Andrew’s ability to feel emotions sets him out on an arduous mission to be classified as a human being. One of the kindest robots out there, Andrew is also an empathic and loyal friend to those he cares about. Thrown into a world he doesn’t understand, Andrew soon realizes that he is different from both his fellow robots and from humans, whose fear prevents them from accepting him as more than a machine.
Luckily, at the very end, the Bicentennial Man‘s 200 year wait proves fruitful and Andrew leaves this world as the oldest human being ever to have lived. The purpose of this story is undoubtedly for viewers to question what makes us human, but it doesn’t take that much deep thought to conclude that we’d all like a nice robot like Andrew in our lives – preferably one that looks exactly like Robin Williams.
11. Sonny – I, Robot
As popular culture has taught us many times, ambitious inventions tend to go awry when dabbling with the essence of humanity. So when you have an army of robots created to protect humans no matter the cost, it’s bound to lead to problems. Especially when you have a mastermind in the form of a computer taking over said army, deciding that humans cannot be left in charge of their own survival. Yikes. While technology is making progress, we’re probably not in danger of robots taking over Earth just yet. But if that was the case, we hope that someone would be clever enough to invent Sonny as well.
Created with the very purpose of aiding the destruction of super computer VIKI, I, Robot‘s Sonny is the only robot not bound to follow the Three Laws of Robotics. In short, that means he is equipped with what could be classified as free will. What makes Sonny so cool is that he looks exactly like his less evolved counterparts, but is able to think, feel, and even dream. And without the mushiness that is so often prevalent in sentient robots, Sonny manages to win Will Smith’s trust and together they save the people. Win.
10. Teddy – A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Yes, we know that the character we’re meant to sympathize with here is David. But we doubt anyone would argue that the best thing about this A.I. isn’t actually David’s loyal teddy bear, Teddy. Created as a Super Toy for rich kids to play with, Teddy is just so much more. We’re meant to believe that he is a “simpler” robot than the super-advanced Mechas, but as events unfold it becomes clear that Teddy is just as able to feel and think like any other A.I. Why the movie didn’t focus more on Teddy remains a mystery.
Without this vastly underappreciated teddy bear, the clueless David would most likely have been torn apart at the gruesome Flesh Fair and never have gotten to see his beloved mommy again (whom his affection for was borderline creepy, by the way). Not to forget that Teddy remained faithfully by David’s side for over 2000 years. Now that’s a true friend.
9. Johnny 5 – Short Circuit
It took all of ten seconds for the slightly wacky Stephanie (Ally Sheedy) to get used to the idea of having a talking robot stay with her. Sure, she thought he was an alien (because that’s much more sensible), but still. Then again, that was probably the best thing she ever did. This fun-loving robot gets away with everything simply because, well, he’s a robot. With an appreciation for ’80s pop, naked women, and bad jokes, Number 5 is the daring, entertaining and loyal friend we all wish we had.
The fact that he’s one heck of a getaway driver and is equipped as a military robot makes him even more desirable to have around. At times this naughty robot is ridiculous to the extreme, and if he were human it probably wouldn’t be as cute. Lucky for us, he’s a robot – and that just turns his silliness into awesomeness. And if seeing his Travolta moves doesn’t put a smile on your face, we don’t know what will.
8. BMO – Adventure Time
Saying that we would want to live in the Land of Ooo would perhaps be taking it a little far, but there’s something about this strange and highly imaginative world that makes us wish we were kids again. And preferably in a place where BMO from Adventure Time exists in real life. This video game console-shaped robot is one peculiar little character, whose charm is difficult to pin down. Perhaps it’s the silly humor or the sweet voice and Korean accent, but we just cannot seem to get enough of BMO’s weird antics.
Neither male or female, BMO (or Beemo), happily identifies as both, depending on the episode. Although BMO is a robot made for recreation that can act as almost whatever household gadget you wish, BMO is also a loyal friend to the show’s main characters Finn and Jake. According to Finn, “BMO does weird junk when no one is around“, which may possibly hint at a multiple personality disorder, frequently displayed by BMO’s tendency to act as different people and have them communicate with one another. Come on, how can you not love this robot?
7. GERTY – Moon
Who wouldn’t want a robot whose sole purpose is to keep you safe? For a robot that has a retro smiley-face as its only form of expression, GERTY in Moon displays a remarkable array of qualities befitting a very trustworthy friend. Having had no one else to talk to for three years, it is no wonder that Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) forms a close relationship with the robot that services his every need, from cutting his hair and making his breakfast to helping him in his work and looking after his health.
GERTY speaks through actions more than words, and despite its seemingly cold and unchanging voice (Kevin Spacey), we have no doubt that the robot cares for Sam more than it is programmed to. GERTY’s offer to erase its own memory in order to save Sam’s life showed us that this robot is more that a pre-programmed helper, and is one of the best friends a moon-harvester could have.
It’s pretty remarkable how much Wall-E manages to affect us without even having to say anything. Being the only robot left on earth to clean up after the humans (who are now obese and living in space), Wall-E is as lonely as any human would be. Having developed emotions, but without anyone to share them, he eventually pours all of his affection onto one little plant. That is, until he meets EVE.
When the probe gets sent down to scan Earth, Wall-E’s existence gains new meaning, as he sets out to earn EVE’s affections. A little hostile at first, EVE eventually comes around – because who could resist Wall-E’s big (non-existent) heart for long? As he does whatever he can to be with EVE, Wall-E also constantly tries to do the right thing. More often than not, he messes up, but the important thing here is that he does so with the best intentions. That this persistent little guy would help defeat the evil robotic autopilot, AUTO, and let the space-living population re-colonizw Earth, tells us that you shouldn’t underestimate a friendly garbage-cleaning robot.
If you make it through this movie, one thing will have become clear: people suck, and Chappie rules. This friendly robot is “born” in Johannesburg, South Africa– the crime capital of the world– in a not-so-distant future. Despite having been brought up by a gang of drug dealers intent on having him as their criminal toy and sidekick, Chappie is just like any other kid trying to make his family proud. His mind develops like a human being’s, although at an ultra-rapid pace, and it is heart-wrenching to see how his childishness is taken advantage of by people who see the use of having an ex-police robot on their side.
It’s difficult to watch poor Chappie being manipulated into committing one crime after another, but touching to see that not even the cruellest of events can turn him into the bad guy. Along this painful route it is impossible not be charmed by this ghetto robot with a heart as big as his bling. There is only one thing we want from this version of the future, and that is Chappie.
4. Bumblebee – Transformers
Imagine having an alien robot friend that not only can protect you from other, more hostile, lifeforms, but can also transform into an ultra cool sports car – among other things. We cannot seem to watch Transformers without being a little envious of Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) for having his first car turn out to be a kick-ass robot. It doesn’t even matter that this puts Sam in the middle of an alien battle, which could be considered rather unlucky. We would argue that having the autobot Bumblebee as a personal friend/car totally outweighs the bad.
The relationship between these two quickly develops into one of loyalty and friendship. That an ordinary, not very impressive (albeit very gutsy) guy like Sam becomes the one person on Earth whom the autobots choose as their confidante makes it all seem a little less unrealistic that we could be next. We can always dream, eh?
3. Iron Giant
The sheer size of him could in itself be a reason for intimidation, and the fact that he’s an alien robot equipped with weaponry equal to a nuclear blast doesn’t exactly make Iron Giant the most likely of best friends. But that is exactly what he is. To see Giant learn about life and death from his tiny best friend, Hogarth, whom he can easily fit in the palm of his hand, is both endearing and funny. And it makes us all a little jealous that we don’t have a giant robot who loves Superman and happily takes us flying or for a “dip” in the lake.
Perhaps the most touching aspect of this story, which also shows us what a big “heart” Iron Giant has, is that he tries so hard to go against the very core of his being. He is a killing machine that refuses to kill, and instead sacrifices himself to save Hogarth and the rest of the town. If your heart didn’t break a little at the end, you should have it checked.
2. Baymax – Big Hero 6
As far as robots go, there’s literally no one more huggable than Baymax. That an inflatable, marshmallow-looking robot could win us over so easily was perhaps less surprising than Baymax’s growing spectrum of emotions throughout this wonderful movie. Created as a robot-nurse in the fictional city of San Fransokyo, Baymax’s very being is intent on healing physical pain, but he soon displays the will and ability to heal emotional wounds as well.
When the protagonist of Big Hero 6, the 13-year old genius Hiro, takes over his deceased brother’s invention, he had no idea he was getting a best friend in the bargain. Hiro’s attempts to turn the snuggly, non-threatening, robot into an avenging superhero are both hilarious and heartwarming. What starts as a relationship between inventor and invention soon turns into a close friendship, and Baymax’s loyalty and kindness eventually save Hiro in pretty much every way possible. And most importantly, we’re convinced Baymax gives the best hugs in the world, which is why he comes in as number 2 on this list.
1. C-3PO, R2-D2, and BB-8 – Star Wars
There isn’t a robot we’d rather have by our side than these three droids. The ultimate friendly robot squad, the Star Wars trio possesses qualities that would challenge the very best of human friends. Having demonstrated undying loyalty, heaps of courage, and a big dose of humor over the years, C-3PO, R2-D2 and BB-8 have proven that separately they would be outstanding sidekicks, but together they would be pretty much unbeatable.
Our favorite droids are not only essential for the franchise’s characteristic sprinkle of comic relief, but we’re pretty certain that without them the dark side would have conquered all. The ever-so-melodramatic C-3PO, with his more human-like appearance and linguistic abilities, is the perfect counterpart to R2’s and BB-8’s inexplicable cuteness, fearlessness, and knack for making themselves understood through a senseless combination of beeps. We would love to have these three around, if only for the epic banter sessions we imagine they would have.