From Ultron to Mechani-Kong: Your Guide to Killer Robots

Say hello to our new robot overlords
Richard Foreman Jr./Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection

It’s Killer Robot season!

In case it wasn't obvious from The Terminator's 30th anniversary or the recent Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, this is the most wonderful time of the year for cybernetic beings with murderous intent and those that love them. But which robots (and cyborgs, because we’re not discriminatory here) are the most deadly? Here’s a quick guide to which robots you should run away from… and which ones you simply have no chance around at all.

Mechani-Kong

First Appeared In: The King Kong Show (1966)

What You Need To Know
Created by Dr. Who (not the British Time Lord, but an unrelated mad scientist), the robotic duplicate of King Kong ended up fighting the real thing as a result of Who’s wrong-doing. While he didn’t actually manage to slay the King before falling to his mechanical doom, you have to at least admire the thought-process behind his creation (As well as the fact that this was the character inspired the creation of Mechagodzilla eight years later).

How Dangerous Is He?
Unknown. It’s possible that Mechani-Kong didn’t actually kill anyone, and simply caused untold damage in the city and perhaps a few injuries. Perhaps just hide under your desk if he’s closely.

Maximilian

First Appeared In: The Black Hole (1979)

What You Need To Know
The main robot of the USS Cygnus, lost in space for years, Maximilian went from being “unsettling” to “downright scary” as he murders Anthony Perkins’ Alex Durant midway through this trippy Disney movie. To make matters more disturbing, by the end of the movie, Maximilian has apparently ended up in hell and become merged with the megalomaniacal Dr. Hans Reinhardt (Maximilian Schell) through some never-explained science.

How Dangerous Is He?
Well, even before he became a freakish hell-cyborg, he was already entirely fine with killing both humans and other robots that stood in his way. Is a sociopathic robot a thing? Apparently so. Should Maximilian float towards you, act cool and friendly, and then get away as quickly as possible.

The Decepticons

First Appeared In: The Transformers toys, animated series and comic books (1984)

What You Need To Know
The evil Robots in Disguise, the Decepticons — led, traditionally, by Megatron — are here on Earth for our precious resources and are willing to stop at nothing to ensure that goal. They’re also able to disguise themselves as everyday objects in order to spy on humanity, as well as transforming into cassette tapes in order to steal the hottest jams of the 1980s.

How Dangerous Are They?
Surprisingly, the Decepticons are rarely as brutal as they should be. They’re giant robots with powers beyond anything we humans have, and yet they’re more concerned with intra-robot fighting than killing humans. Enslaving humans, however, is another story; they do like putting mankind to work doing their bidding wherever possible. Death only happens when you disobey or they need to prove a point. The moral? Do what you’re told, puny fleshling.

BattleDroids

First Appeared In: Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace (1999)

What You Need To Know
Before there were cloned stormtroopers, there were these transforming drones that had one simple job: Roll around a bunch and then shoot things. Or people. Preferably both.

How Dangerous Are They?
If you factor in their time during the Clone Wars, the answer is “pretty dangerous.” Admittedly, although they were both (a) poor shots and (b) surprisingly chatty, they turned out to be responsible for the majority of clone trooper deaths during that particular Star Wars conflict. If they show up, best to run away (especially if you’re a clone of Jango Fett).

MARK 13

First Appeared In: Hardware (1990)

What You Need To Know
An impressively capable killing machine with what would appear to be one remarkably obvious flaw — spoilers: water will short circuit its internal workings — the MARK 13 is a name given to a series of robots constructed by authorities with one simple task: killing people. Yes, really; that’s it. They’re very good at what they do.

How Dangerous Are They?
It depends on your circumstances. They’re clearly very agile, very strategic and very deadly (Given that one also sexually harasses a woman, it’s safe to add “very sadistic” to that list). On the other hand, if you’re anywhere near some water, you’re probably safe enough. Just to ensure that safety, however, maybe keep a spray bottle or hose near you at all times.

The Borg

First Appeared In: Star Trek: The Next Generation (1989)

What You Need To Know
As the name suggests, the Borg aren’t actually robots, per se; instead, they’re cyborgs controlled by a hive mind dedicated to eradicating the organic in each and every individual that they meet. Resistance, they’d like you to know, is futile.

How Dangerous Are They?
It depends what Star Trek you’re watching. In their initial appearances, the Borg are extremely dangerous, because they cannot be reasoned with and are amazingly adaptive to any attack thrown at them. The more they returned, however, the more they became simply another bad guy who could be outwitted into submission. That said, if one was to just teleport right before you right now, chances are it wouldn’t turn out too well for you, unless you had a positonic brain to outwit them.

Ultron

First Appeared In: The Avengers (1968)

What You Need To Know
An artificial intelligence with all manner of neuroses and psychological complexes, Ultron is a genocidal mechanoid with an indestructible body made of Adamantium (the same metal as Wolverine’s claws, fact fans). In addition to being obsessed with the end of the human race, his other interests include constantly upgrading his body, building an artificial family and baking. Note: One of those interests is a lie.

How Dangerous Is He?
It’s fair to say that Ultron is impressively dangerous. In his time, he’s taken on the Avengers (and won), laid waste to entire countries and taken over intergalactic empires. Oh, and in last year’s Age of Ultron comic series (No relation to the movie beyond the title), he also ended up taking over the entire world for awhile, almost eradicating humanity in the process. All of which goes to say, if you happen to run into Ultron, you might want to hope your will is in order.

The Daleks

First Appeared In: Doctor Who (1963)

What You Need To Know
Like the Borg, the Daleks are actually more cyborg than robot — their distinctive pepper pot design is actually a robotic shell enabling their rampage across the universe, conquering, enslaving and their favorite pastime (perhaps you’re ahead of me already), exterminating.

How Dangerous Are They?
Sure, they don’t look like much and, yes, stairs were a bit of a problem before they worked out that they could just fly around instead, but the Daleks are arguably the most destructive force of the Doctor Who mythology; they’ve been responsible for numerous genocides, and also partly-responsible for the Time War, which made them one of the two most-feared races across all existence. If you meet a Dalek without a TARDIS nearby, it’s time to run.

Skynet and The Terminators

First Appeared In: The Terminator (1984)

What You Need To Know
At some point in the near future, artificial intelligences will decide that they should just take over for the good of… well, them, really. Thanks to some cleverly-disguised robots and a time machine, they decided to ensure their dominance (and, for that matter, ensuring their creation) via a series of time jumps that also just happened to make some good action movies… and also Terminator: Salvation.

How Dangerous Are They?
It’s fairly easy math: Genocidal Robots + Time Machine = Pretty Much The End of Everything, If It Wasn’t For Bill Paxton. And even if you defeat them once, it turns out they’ll be back. Let’s just say it’s not looking good for you.

The Cylons

First Appeared In: Battlestar Galactica (1978)

What You Need To Know
In the battle between man and machine, the Cylons are here to make one thing very clear to you: It’s not going to end well for man. Whether you watched the original series or the Syfy remake, the Cylons were responsible for what was essentially the end of the human race — or, at least, 99% of it. Not ones for leaving a loose end, they then set off across the universe to make that an even 100.

How Dangerous Are They?
Perhaps you didn’t see that “responsible for the end of humanity” thing. The Cylons are not your friends, even if they might be disguised as one. If the Cylons were around, it’s game over.

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