By Teague Bohlen
Robots have always sort of scared us; this was the beauty of Robbie the Robot in the '50s, R2D2 in the '70s, and Johnny Five in the '80s. They were nice; sure, they were robots, but they were on our side. Not coincidentally, they were also emotional beings—unlike other robots of their kind in that one way that gives us the circuit-board heebie-jeebies in the first place. That’s the source of the fear: that it would be easy for us to find ourselves at the absolute mercy of a cold, calculating robot populace with mechanical super-strength, super-processors for brains, and the logical realization that humans are just in the way.
Some robots, though, aren’t worried about taking over the world, or eradicating humanity as a species. Some of them are just jerks, pure and simple, and they do it in different ways. Just like humans…which might give us some comfort, anyway.
10) C-3PO, Star Wars
Granted, Threepio is perhaps the most inconsequentially bastardly robot on this list, but he deserves mentioning if only because he points out time and again just why you wouldn’t want him on the Millennium Falcon as you were traversing the vast emptiness of space: because he’s a complete kvetch. He’s the superego to Artoo’s id; he’s all rules and regulations, all “it seems we were made to suffer” this and “chances of success” that. And what’s worse, he’s the one that gets blown up all the time, and has to be carried around in a net over Chewie’s shoulder. C-3PO, we love you man, but seriously—that “shutting down” thing you did in the early going of Episode IV? Yeah, more of that, please.
9) Rosie from The Jetsons and Irona from Richie Rich (tie)
Were all robot maids created on the template of Florence from The Jeffersons? And if so, why? Granted, of this pair, Rosie bears the stronger resemblance to Marla Gibbs (both in temperament and, oddly, bodily figure), but Irona has her share of scoldings in her cleaning-woman robotic shell too—just with a bit of “Amelia Bedelia” thrown in for good measure. (To be fair, Irona is completely malleable in Richie Rich comics, like most tertiary characters, given to complete changes in personality to fit the thin given story at hand. Harvey comics have never been what one could call sticklers for continuity.) Given that both these electric chambermaids were created long before George Jefferson ever yelled for Weezie, it’s obvious that they couldn’t have been direct pulls, but it’s remarkable that even artificial assistants feel the need to stick it to the man every once in a while.
8) L-Ron (Justice League International)
Follow me here: L-Ron (full name L-Ron H*bb*rd—no, I wish I were kidding) started out as a Justice League villain, based on classic villain Despero (the model to which, officially speaking, he is Mark II). But he, as they say, “got better,” and became a member of the League’s supporting cast. And what with his robotic nature and his obviously parodying name (to no apparent effect, I might add), writers Giffen and DeMatteis decided to make him into an overly-ingratiating sardonic toady that looks (and sort of acts) like the robotic love child of H.E.R.B.I.E. and Crow T. Robot. Add all these elements together, and you’ll be completely exhausted.
7) Pimpbot 5000, Late Night with Conan O’Brian
6) EV-9D9, Return of the Jedi
The droid supervisor in the bowels of Jabba’s Palace (“You’re a feisty one, but you’ll soon learn some respect…”) was really just the office bitch. Yeah, I know, the “extended Universe” of Star Wars gives her more of a storyline, making her out to be a sadomasochist, but really, wasn’t it enough that she was the equivalent of Hitler’s administrative assistant, gleefully serving in the support staff of evil? (Also, torturing droids is just stupid—if you have to create a pain-sensing chip or something in order to “burn” the metal feet of that power droid? Seriously, be evil smarter.)