Over the years, we’ve had plenty of robot apocalypse stories. We feared the coming of the metal people, perhaps even more so now as advancements in A.I. are constantly being made. But we have our fair share of good, downright adorable robot companions that we wouldn’t mind seeing come to life in the near future. Spanning from the 1950s to today, here are the 10 most lovable robot characters, ranked.
10 Project 77, Next Gen
Project 77 is a super-advanced fighting robot who likes causing minor (and occasionally major) property damage with his best friend, Mai. Despite being a giant machine of destruction, he looks very huggable. Unfortunately, Project 77’s story isn’t new, and most likely won’t have as much of a cultural impact as the other robots on this list. But something about him is so earnest that he deserves a spot.
9 JARVIS, Iron Man
Move over Friday, you can never replace the beautiful, British sass-master that is JARVIS. As one of the first character introduced in the MCU, he holds a special place in our hearts (and Wanda’s). Thing is, JARVIS technically isn’t a robot—we’re stretching the rules a bit. His voice came out of Vision and the Iron Man suits, but that’s pretty darn robotic. And he’s officially out of the MCU, so please, let us commemorate the sassy Lassie in peace. Honorable mention to Dum-E, the actual robot.
8 Wheatley, Portal 2
Portal 2 was the most anticipated game of 2011, and for good reason. With upgraded graphics, new puzzle mechanics, and a much longer story, we were all super hype for the game to drop. And Wheatley stole our hearts before crushing them to dust. Voiced by comedian Stephen Merchant, Wheatley is a round little personality core with maybe not the biggest processor. His performance has been praised time and time again. Coupled with fantastic dialogue, we fell for Wheatley hard and fast. He’s so high on the list because, well, that betrayal stung. Sorry for launching you into space, but you tried to kill us first.
7 Astro Boy, Astro Boy
Created by Osamu Tezuka, Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atomu or "Mighty Atom" in Japanese) made his debut in April of 1952 as a manga. He made the jump to television in 1963 as the first popular animated series in Japan. The style set a precedent for what would become anime. Cool, right?
Rooted in a sad backstory that’s been retold around four times now, Astro always finds himself fighting crime and defending humanity, even if it isn’t always in his best wishes. Ultimately, he’s a kid with major superpowers, and for the most part, he’d rather be a kid.
6 Baymax, Big Hero 6
On a scale of 1 to 10, Baymax ranks as an 11. (Well, actually 6.) The breakout star and entire marketing strategy of Big Hero 6, Baymax is a lovable, huggable nurse robot. Equipped to handle any and all healthcare-related problems, Baymax stole our hearts with his straightforward way of speaking and genuine ability to care. Part of his appeal comes from how he’s used in the emotional story of the film. He was Hiro’s last link to Tadashi. Sure, that final scene with the healthcare chip may have been a cop out, but it doesn’t detract from Hiro learning to let go. And when Baymax is reactivated at the end of the movie, it’s Hiro’s Baymax, not Tadashi’s.
5 R2-D2, Star Wars
Named after a film reel from American Graffiti, Artoo is the honorary MVP of the entire Star Wars franchise. Well, until BB-8 stole his thunder. Since his introduction in Star Wars: A New Hope, R2-D2 consistently gets the team out of tough situations and, per George Lucas, saves the day at least once in every Star Wars movie. Except during The Last Jedi, but what trope didn’t get inverted in that movie? Artoo’s a bit more cool than lovable, but he is a very good robot who deserves even more medals.
4 Bumblebee, Transformers
With the success of the Transformers movie franchise and the renewed popularity in the character, Bumblebee became Hasbro’s go-to for representing the Transformers property as a whole. He got a spin-off movie before Optimus Prime. Though we offer Optimus Prime an honorable mention for literally being every 80s kids’ preferred dad. Due to having a movie and two shows featuring him as the central character, we can’t overlook the money on this one. Bumblebee is a very easy character for kids to relate to, and he's almost obnoxiously likable and downright adorable. If this cutie didn’t win over your heart by hiding behind a rock, you’re lying.
3 David, A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Everything about David’s story is tragic, and we’re the idiots that fell in love with him. A.I. was Stanley Kubrick’s brainchild that was passed on to Steven Spielberg following his death in March of 1999. The film actually began development back in the 1970s with Spielberg set to direct but wasn’t released until 2001. By no means is this a children’s film, but you don’t need to be a child to appreciate David. Played by a very young Haley Joel Osment, David is abandoned in a scary world. All he wants is to become human to earn his mother’s affection. In a roundabout way, he gets that wish. But gosh, does it hurt when it happens. This child literally does nothing wrong, he just wants to be loved.
2 WALL-E, WALL-E
Probably best known for having no dialogue within the first 30 minutes of the movie, WALL-E steals our hearts in literally ten seconds of screen time. We’re given a lot of information about WALL-E very quickly. He has a knack for musical theatre, he enjoys collecting objects that intrigue him, and he has a pet cockroach. With such a cheerful and friendly demeanor, WALL-E’s really hard to dislike. And look at those big eyes! You don’t realize how emotive he is until he stops. That’s some amazing character design.
1 The Iron Giant, The Iron Giant
Brad Bird’s cult classic that deserves all the love it’s getting now, The Iron Giant is a story about friendship and choosing your own path. Hogarth Hughes takes in a giant robot from space and teaches him about life on Earth, how to have fun, and the concept of death. Anyone who grew up with this movie took something away with the “souls don’t die” scene. Combating some of the criticism about how useless the Giant’s final sacrifice is, here’s a thought; the Giant didn’t want to be a weapon. The Giant, after learning about life and death, didn’t want to become the tool that causes death. His choice reflects that shift in his character, his commitment to peaceful solutions and his morals. It’s honestly beautiful. And he’s alive, so why are we even complaining?