No no no, I’m not talking about death at the hands of a robot, (though that may be an unsettling commonplace occurrence if military developments continue the way they are). I’m talking about scenes where robots die.

There’s a silly amount of anthropomorphism going on here. What are the filmmakers saying? Are the robots more human than us? Are we little more than biological robots? Is consciousness just a consequence of pre-programmed biological perceptions? Maybe death is such a frightening thing that we need an abstraction in order to come to terms with it?

Or am I just reading too much into this…

T-800 – Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

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Ah! The film that defined my 90’s teenager generation. We all wore tore up jeans and carved “No Fate” into park benches everywhere (at least I did). I don’t remember why we did that, I guess it just seemed cool. Anyway, seeing heroic T-800 sacrifice itself for all mankind got even the angstiest of us teary eyed — he was the loving robo-dad we never had.

Annoyingly, all the clips of Arnie’s death scene were set so I couldn’t embed them here. Boo.

Click here to watch the Governator take a molton metal bath. 

Roy Batty – Blade Runner (1982)

Perhaps the most poetic robo death, Rutger Hauer improvised the famous last words of the replicant human he portrayed…and then sort of stops moving. There’s also a dove and a unicorn in there somewhere.

I really need to watch Blade Runner again (I’ve only seen it 4-5 times), it’s a brilliant movie (I don’t get it at all), and I’ve heard wonderful things about the recently remastered final (probably) release of the directors extended cut of the film (Ridley, leave the dang thing alone already!!!).

Ash – Alien (1979) 
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Man…YouTube really let me down on this one. I couldn’t find Ash’s death scene to save my life (ha ha…get it?).

Ash’s death is kinda terrifying, scarier almost than the 6 feet of teeth, tail, and claw scurrying about the shadowy places of the Nostromo. Once discovered to be in cohorts with the evil Wayland Corp, the crew attacks, throwing Ash into a malfunctioning fury of milk spewing terror. Alien is a little slow, being a product of 70’s filmmaking, but definitely worth a watch.

The Giant – The Iron Giant (1999)

Death is frightening, whether you’re a child living in the cold war era, or a 100 foot tall robot. Seeing this hulking hero embrace his fate with robo joy puts me at ease. All will be well, even if a nuke is is about to evaporate your hometown.

Optimus Prime – The Transformers: The Movie (1986)

Yeah…I’m not sure about that music, but Optimus defines epic. Fearlessly driving out to face Megatron, taking an orange pole-thingy to the gut, and saving his fellow Autobots…yeah!

Nothing more needs to be said.

Number 5 – Short Circuit (1986)

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When the wise-cracking Number 5 charged fearlessly into the line of fire to save his fleshy friends, 8-year-old me cried like 1-year-old me. Number 5 was such a charmer, and his personality such a miracle that being disassembled by Nova Laboratories was pure devastation.

Luckily for us (and for the filmmakers who cashed in on a sequel), Number 5 was a step ahead of everyone. He hid in the car while his quickly improvised decoy-self got murdered. Click here to see the happy reunion.

Old B.O.B. – The Black Hole (1979)

Erm…why does Old B.O.B have a twangy Texas accent? That doesn’t make sense. Of course, I was equally surprised to hear a British GPS gadget bark out turn by turn instruction in a British accent. It makes sense that you would set a robot to speak with whatever accent you’re accustomed to…just…why Old B.O.B? Why Texas twang? Where did the good ol’ boy go who programmed him scuttle off to? That’s the real mystery of The Black Hole.

Anyway, that’s all I have time for today. buh-bye…

What epic robot deaths have I overlooked in my haste?

Dan Baker

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Dan works out his social anxieties by producing and directing films. He's a proud New Mexican, and prefers green over red.

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