“Johnny 5 is alive” says the robot in Short Circuit. He’s not the only “machine” to think they are human. From RoboCop to David Swinton, here’s ten of the best…
Robots, or as some like to call themselves, Cyborgs, are computer-programmed characters that have turned up in films in both good-guy and bad-guy roles. However, those really advanced specimens get so hung up on their time spent with their human operators, owners, makers or foe, that they start acting like them.
These human-like qualities often provide the most entertainment as we can relate to their motivation in the wider context of their mechanical construction and microcomputer intelligence.
Here I take a look at some of my favourite robots to get infected by the “Pinocchio Complex” – the moment when the robot thinks it’s human.
More on Top 10 Films you might like: Top 10 Robots | Top 10 Robots Who Think They’re Human | Top 10 Scariest Robots, Cyborgs and Artificial Intelligence
10. Data (Star Trek: Generations, Carson, 1994)
The good-guy of the Starship Enterprise decides to add an emotions chip to his hardware in order to understand the human condition in 1994’s Star Trek: Generations.
9. The Terminator (Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Cameron, 1991)
The Terminator, once a robot sent from the future to commit murder, is now a caring, at times lovable and charming, protector to those that need it most. His relationship with the young boy he has been programmed to care for develops and more human qualities creep into his mechanical make-up. The ultimate sacrifice he makes – to destroy himself to safeguard civilisation – is perhaps the most human thing he accomplishes.
8. Sonny (I, Robot, Proyas, 2004)
Insisting on being called Sonny, this robot from the year 2035 helps Will Smith’s detective solve a murder.
7. D.A.R.Y.L (D.A.R.Y.L, Wincer, 1985)
D.A.R.Y.L isn’t hydraulic limbs, engine oil and metal heart, rather a human child with a supercomputer powering his brain. But, after enjoying the fruits of life away from his military prison, and displaying human-like fragility, his government owners want to terminate their project. Poor thing.
6. David Swinton (A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Spielberg, 2001)
Robot-child David sets out to find the Blue Fairy who he believes will turn him into a real boy and allow his adopted mother to love him like she does her biological son.
5. C-3PO (Star Wars, Lucas, 1977)
C-3PO does his best for his owners despite any real talents apart from keeping his far more advanced friend R2-D2 in check.
4. RoboCop (RoboCop, Verhoeven, 1987)
A courageous cop is brutally murdered but given a second chance as a cyborg. However, the human qualities still evident in his brain bring out the “man” inside the “robot”.
3. Johnny 5 (Short Circuit, Badham, 1986)
A military robot gets a change of heart after a power surge turns him from a professional killer into a warm-hearted soul eager to learn about human life and live like one of the guys!
2. Rachael (Blade Runner, Scott, 1982)
Rachael is a “replicant”, a bioengineered robot that looks and sounds human. The crux is that she actually believes she is a human thanks to the Tyrell Corporation giving her consciousness an emotional upgrade. Replicants have greater strength and intelligence than their human counterparts but are distinguished by their lack of emotional insight. Rachael throws a spanner in the works of this futuristic story.
1. Andrew (Bicentennial Man, Columbus, 1999)
Andrew is a robot created to carry out menial tasks like doing the housework, cleaning and looking after general maintenance work around the family home. However, within the family environment of which he finds himself, he begins to interact with his owners on an emotional level. Over time his personality grows, befriending people along a journey that lasts many years, becoming more and more human with each step.
Written and compiled by Daniel Stephens.
Your turn – what are your favourite robots that think they’re human..?
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