Top 10 Most Memorable Robot Sidekicks

* By Curtis Silver * September 14, 2010 * Source

K9 from Doctor Who


There are a lot of factors that make for a great science fiction movie, from believability in the science itself to the space battle scenes (if any) to the story itself. And then of course there are the robot sidekicks: the lovable, the quirky, the comic relief, the sometimes antagonist. The robot sidekicks in science fiction films are often just about as iconic as the film itself. Looking through the annals of popular science fiction to list the ten most memorable robot sidekicks, I found a lot of great candidates. So how did I narrow the list down to just ten?

Well, in a category such as this, it's necessary to be a bit specific when laying out the criteria. Basically, it has to be a totally subservient robot, either to the protagonist of the film or another character. The robot cannot be a self-sufficient android, cyborg or any other killing or thinking machine. So that rules out characters such as Data, the Terminators and so on. So ruling them out really helped narrow the list down to some fun and obscure robots all from movies that your kids should see (a few when they are older). I also excluded any robots that carried the film, such as WALL-E or Johnny 5 (Short Circuit). Also, Twiki was excluded cause it's just too cheesy. The robot sidekicks that are left are the ten below:

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Mostly for comic relief, but actually helpful and essential in escaping impending doom, these hovering robots from the 1979 classic The Black Hole provided some of the most entertaining moments in the film. V.I.N.CENT stands for "Vital Information Necessary CENTralized" and was the level headed of the two ' voiced by Roddy McDowell. B.O.B. stands for "BiO-sanitation Battalion" which I think makes him the garbage can. He certainly looked like it by the end of the film, taking quite a beating. There were two other robots, S.T.A.R. which stood for "Special Troops/Arms Regiment" and M.A.X. which stood for nothing. No one knows.

Image credit: Disney



GERTY 3000

In the cerebral sci-fi film Moon Sam Rockwell stars as Sam Bell, the lone inhabitant of a moon mining station. Or so he thinks. The station and Sam's life is run by the robot GERTY 3000, who looks like a plastic fork dispenser on a robotic arm. At first GERTY is sympathetic and shows emotion via emoticons on its display. Aptly voiced by Kevin Spacey, we soon learn GERTY isn't working for Sam, but has another master, and the parallels to classic space station computer HAL are hard to ignore.

Image credit: Sony Pictures




No, not the crummy movie starring Jim Belushi. K-9 was the on again off again robot dog sidekick to Dr. Who, starting sometime in 1977 with the Invisible Enemy series. Meant to appeal to younger audiences, K-9 really appealed to no one. In my opinion, it was a poorly designed robot creature, even by 1970's standards. However, somehow the robot dog (after going through four redesigns over time) has reached a new pinnacle of popularity, getting his own spin-off series and showing up in pop culture in South Park of all places.

Image credit: BBC



Marvin the Paranoid Android

Even after reading all of the Hitchhiker's Guide books and watching the original television series, I don't think that the sheer hilarity and depressive sense of being of Marvin was brought to life better than the voice-over by Alan Rickman in the recent feature film. Marvin, who was 30 billion times more intelligent than a live mattress, suffered from severe depression and boredom. If the Heart of Gold was the Hundred Acre Wood, Marvin was Eeyore. For a depressed robot, he always managed to be quick with a self deprecating anecdote, proving his distaste for being so vastly intelligent but responsible for only minor tasks. Frankly, without a robot on the Heart of Gold, it would have been a less entertaining ship because everyone needed a constant reminder of how insignificant they were compared to how insignificant he was.

Image credit: BBC




When it comes to evil robot sidekicks, Maximilian has them all beat. A nefarious & hulking killing machine, he was built by the now mad scientist Doctor Hans Reinhardt to help him keep his lobotomized slaves in line. Yes, this was a Disney movie. Its first PG movie. It doesn't take long for the heroes of the film to discover the nefarious plot by Reinhardt, which means it doesn't take long for Maximilian to rack up his first kill. Max finally meets his end at the capable hand of V.I.N.CENT, then appears to spend eternity in some sort of Hell at the end of the Black Hole, attached to his master, Reinhardt. BFF4EVR.

Image credit: Disney



Mystery Science Theater 3000

While there is a debate over who was the better overall host of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Joel Hodgson (show creator & host until 1993) or Mike Nelson (head writer & host until 1999), there is no debate as to the comedy value of the deadpan Tom Servo and the wise cracking Crow. These two bad movie watching robots were the reason this show was so freaking hilarious. Set in the future on the Satellite of Love, Joel was forced to watch bad movies, of which he can't control when they start because he used those parts to construct his robot sidekicks. Servo was a loose armed gumball machine headed smart-ass, quick with the observational humor and talked down to Crow, the obliviously content robot that looks like - I have no idea. Between movies, the robots often took to finding ways to cause chaos on the ship. Aside from Servo and Crow, there was Gypsy - the vacuum cleaner looking robot that ran the ship - and Cambot, which was a camera.

Image credit: Shout! Factory



Robot, Lost in Space

For the moment, let-s ignore that they ever made that remake starring Joey. However, the robot in that movie was pretty cool. The original Robot in Lost in Space was no slouch, possessing super-human strength as well as some basic human emotions, and his best friend in the whole universe was the young Will Robinson. Hence the famous line, "Danger Will Robinson! Danger!" His presence saved the Robinson family on more than one occasion, and, as seen in the above pic, provided them with some campfire type entertainment as well. Hey, it was the 1960's, TV robots played the guitar.

Image credit: CBS Television



Huey, Dewey & Louie

Several of the robots on this list were inspired by the 1972 film Silent Running. In the film, Bruce Dern stars as Freeman Lowell whose job as botanist and ecologist aboard the Valley Forge is to maintain the forests and greenery for the spaceship's eventual return to Earth. While maintaining the forest, he ends up going a bit loco in order to save the forests. With the help of the three service robots Huey, Dewey & Louie, he detaches from the rest of the ship. He then teaches the robots how to care for the forests, and play poker. The movie ends (after Lowell's eventual death & the destruction of two of the droids) with the iconic image of the forest dome floating into space, with Louie tending the plants.

Image credit: Universal Studios




In the 1986 film Space Camp, a movie that I loved as a kid (along with Explorers) a bunch of teens go to a Space Camp. That's about the gist of the plot, except for the part where the youngest of the bunch becomes fast friends with the roly poly NASA robot named Jinx. Now, when you think of robot sidekicks, what qualities would you want in one? Reliability? Sure. How about humor? Sure. Companionship? That sounds nice. How about, blasting you into space because you wished you could. How about that? Would you like that quality in a robot sidekick? Well, that's what Jinx did. He launched Max into space. His motives may have been innocent and friendly, but man, that's a dumb-ass NASA robot. And yes, that was the now crazy Joaquin Phoenix as Max.

Image credit: MGM




Well, there is no robot or droid list without either R2-D2 or his sidekick C-3PO. Yes, I always felt that R2-D2 was the leader of that relationship. There is no doubt that R2-D2 was the pinnacle of reliability when it comes to robots. He delivered the plans to the Death Star. He saved - well, pretty much everybody (directly or indirectly), by turning the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive back on. He was always there with a lightsaber when Luke needed it, or to unlock a random door, like the one to the trash compactor. The true heroes of the Star Wars Trilogy (because that's all there is) were the droids, especially R2-D2.

Image credit: Lucasfilm

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