Homicidal robots. Where would science fiction and horror be without such a wonderful plot device? Isaac Asimov’s First Law of Robotics plainly states that robots cannot cause injury to a human being either through intent or inaction. Apparently, not every television writer got Asimov’s memo. Good thing, too. Because where would TV history be without these homicidal robots?
Adam Link: The Outer Limits
Asimov’s collection of short stories that provides the basis for his laws of robotics is titled “I, Robot” but the groundbreaking episode of “The Outer Limits” that shares this title is actually based on the story by Eando Binder. Adam Link is put on trial for being a homicidal robot on the basis of circumstantial evidence that points to Adam being responsible for murdering his creator, Dr. Charles Link. Whether Adam is really a homicidal robot or a creation that lends credence to Asimov’s laws in that other “I, Robot” is up to you, the jury. Fortunately, for those of you who just don’t get the aesthetic pleasure of watching TV shows in black and white, “I, Robot” was remade for the color reboot of “The Outer Limits.” And get this: Leonard Nimoy appears in both versions!
The Mechanical Man: Land of the Giants
Interesting bit of trivia about the homicidal robot featured in the “Land of the Giants.” The name of the giant scientist who created the mechanical man that gives the episode its title is Prof. Gorn. Yeah,that’s right: Gorn. The same name as the race of lizard men with whom Captain Kirk famously fought in the desert about a year and a half earlier. The homicidal robot built by Prof. Gorn was a flawed creation (big surprise!) who towered over even the giants that the human characters were in constant conflict with. Gorn called upon the puny alien visitors to help him fix his killer robot and they managed to do. You can probably imagine how Prof. Gorn repaid this debt.
Cylons: Battlestar Galactica
Which are the more homicidal of robots? The metallic Cyclopean Cylons of the original “Battlestar Galactica” or the sexy humanoid Cylons of the reboot? Those original glow-eyed Cylons against which the male Starbuck battled looked far more menacing. But perhaps you are of the opinion that the humanoid appearance of the Cylons fought by the female Starbuck makes them all the more menacingly homicidal. The eternal argument may never be solved.
Ted: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Wow. Talk about your homicidal robots! Ted’s appearance on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” has always seemed slightly off-kilter and out of step with the primary focus of evil in Sunnydale. And yet there is no denying that Ted belongs fully to the creepy zeitgeist infecting this oddball little town. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Ted–other than the fact that he is played by John Ritter–is that he is a homicidal robot that was built in the 1950’s. And he spent the next half century repeating a sinister Vertigo-esque scenario over and over until finally the Slayer puts the robot down.
Frankly, if I had to pick, I’d choose Roberto as my favorite homicidal robot. For one thing, I like his manically high voice. For another, I absolutely adore the concept of a robot specifically designed and built to be mentally unstable. Then there is Roberto’s habit of stabbing wildly at anything in his way. Then there is Roberto’s reaction when he asks Bender to think of a number between one and and Bender responds with 56-ish. “Fifty-six? Fifty-six?! Now that’s all I can think about! I’m gonna kill you, you no good fifty-sixin’!”