The Top Ten '80s Robots (We Expected to Exist By Now)
We were promised robots. Crazy electronic sidekick or death-dealing automaton of doom, we didn't care, as long as the future shaped up to be the awesome electronic robo-battle we'd dreamed of as children. Flash forward 20 years and all we have are sorry, non-robotic pieces of supposedly innovative crap, such as "hybrid cars," "iPods," and "hope for the AIDs vaccine." Consider the below list a sort of report card, so modern scientists can see exactly how far they are from fulfilling the promises of our childhood.
Johnny Five (Short Circuit)
Sure, he might be a little obnoxious, not to mention he has the dubious honor of sharing a marquee with 1980s staple Steve Gutenberg. But he scores points for looking like a robot that could actually, you know, "exist." Also, when he gets angry, his eyes go "destruction red" and he blows stuff up with a laser. Which is classic robot!
Lacking, Present Day Equivalent: Nintendo Wii
Good First Steps: Entertaining, good with people, rumored to malfunction and cause property damage without warning.
Lacks: Annoying Jackie Gleason impressions. On second thought"¦
Lisa (Weird Science)
To this day, we're not sure exactly what the hell Kelly LeBrock' character was supposed to be in this film, but we're pretty sure computers were involved, making her at least quasi-robotic. And since it' a general rule at CRACKED to include at least one entry in every top ten list that we'd like to have sex with (see number 19 on "The 20 Worst Cover Songs in Pop Music History") we're including her.
Lacking, Modern Day Equivalent: Kate Beckinsale
Good First Steps: British accent, looks good in leather.
Lacks: Has yet to exit our closet in a cloud of fog and, through a series of wacky adventures, help us come of age.
Forget that whiny, morally conflicted do-gooder hero (who was really more of a man in a robot suit anyways), this big guy was the real star of the show. Save for some minor weaknesses ("stairs"), he' our pick in a fight any day.
Lacking, Present Day Equivalent: American Foreign Policy
Good First Steps: Destructive tendencies, suspicious disregard for civil rights.
Lacks: Shiny chassis, dual machine guns, voice that sounds like it was put through Macaulay Caulkin' tape recorder thing from Home Alone 2.
KITT (Knight Rider)
Take Mr. Bevledere, add a splash of Stephen King' Christine, a shot of one of the guys from The A Team and two shots of some exceedingly strange man/car sexual tension, and you've got one of the most mysterious robots of all time. It' a little known fact that KITT was not actually a special effect, but a fully functional robotic car. However, to protect the secret of the car' existence, Hasselhoff rounded up entire cast and crew of Knight Rider along with their families, and killed them with his bare hands.
Lacking, Present Day Equivalent: Hybrid cars.
Good first steps: Being really high-tech and a car, general air of prissiness.
Lacks: Ability to not explode at speeds of over 35mph.
Data (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
He' super strong, fast, and smart, in a pretty standard, robot-y way, but what' endearing is that he really just wants to be one of the guys. Also, he does this thing where he uses the computer by moving his hands really, really fast, which is pretty cool.
Lacking, Present Day Equivalent: Wikipedia
Good First Steps: Instant access to a universe of knowledge, generically good intentions.
Lacks: Fast hand trick, suspiciously accurate comedic timing, jaundice.
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Is he a replicant? Or just a hard-boiled, genre-bending Han Solo look-alike? It' so damn ambiguous! For the purposes of this list, we'll have to go with the former. Either way, we'll take our young, pre-Flockhart Harrison Ford where we can get him, thank you very much.
Lacking, Present Day Equivalent: Harrison Ford
Good First Steps: Being, ostensibly, Harrison Ford.
Needs Improvement: Firewall, Hollywood Homicide, the whole earring thing, distinctly non-robotic signs of aging.
Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo (Mystery Science Theatre 3000)
"Wait, wasn't MST3K a '90s show?" you're probably thinking. Well, according to IMDb.com, it started in 1988, smart guy. The equivalent of robot drinking buddies, Crow and Tom taught us that you don't need to look badass, or have exciting abilities, or not be a virgin to be cool. All you really need is massive amounts of sarcasm and snarky pop-culture references.
Lacking, Modern Day Equivalent: VH1
Good First Steps: Brain-splitting levels of self-referential pop culture irony.
Lacks: The ability to not inspire deep-seated self-loathing on a personal and cultural level.
The Terminator (The Terminator)
Sometimes, a robot just has to want to destroy all humans, are we right? Also, whether that heavily accented man from the future is here to protect or eliminate us, at least our long-standing Christ complex is finally validated.
Lacking, Present Day Equivalent: Al Gore
Good First Steps: Doomsday prophecies; stilted, unconvincing dialogue.
Lacks: Murderous rampages, snappy catchphrases.
R2-D2 (Star Wars)
If number one on this list was our older brother, Artoo was our best friend. Adorable, loyal, but just rude enough to let you know he kept it real. Also, did we mention that he spontaneously develops features according to the needs of the user/narrative arc? We guess you could call him the real deux ex machina. (Oh, that sound? That' just our parents sobbing quietly into our liberal arts degree.)
Lacking, Present Day Equivalent: iPhone
Good First Steps: Features out the wazoo, small size and sleek, appealing design.
Lacks: Ability to launch a lightsaber fifty feet in the air, sass.
Optimus Prime (The Transformers)
Dear lord, where to begin? He' a robot! He' a truck! He' the non-abusive older brother/father figure we never had! Red, white, and freakin' blue all over, he was truly the robo-patriot we hoped for in the next millennium.
Lacking, Present Day Equivalent: Jack Bauer
Good First Steps: Hatred of all things evil, staunch morals, and proficiency with firearms.
Needs Improvement: Receding hairline/paunch, refusal to demonstrate ability to turn into a truck.