Technology has come a long way from the dark days of the 1980’s when fingerless gloves and slap bracelets weren’t considered hideous forms of fashion expression and dumping your child’s entire college savings into Pogs were a sound investment that’s sure to pay off in the long run. Not only were the robots of the past primitive in terms of their technology and function, but they lacked a serious quality that practically makes them as obsolete as the horse and buggy: a lack of a personality that didn’t want to make humans grab something heavy and smash them until their own motherboards couldn’t recognize them.
10. Ulysses from “Making Mr. Right”
In this forgotten 80‘s rom-com, John Malkovich plays a happy-go-lucky robotic double who tries to learn the ways of love, even though he was programmed for space travel. Just about any attempt to make John Malkovich seem human can make for a scary hour and a half of public movie viewing pleasure. Trying to make him likable under the guise that he’s not human can be downright confusing, annoying and still scary since there is a slightly better chance that the robotic Malkovich will eat your face.
9. Chip Carson from “Not Quite Human”
This barely memorable Disney Channel original TV movie tries to play on the “old artificially intelligent being trying to learn about life tale” by casting Alan Thicke as a father who desperately wants a son and resorts to building his own robotic replacement (did the end of the Cold War also put an end to Russian mail order brides in the 80s?). Since he’s a teenager (a species of mammal that are naturally confused, desperate for attention and therefore twice as annoying), he tries to adjust to normal life but since he’s got the mind of a child and the body of a Commodore 64, he malfunctions a lot and just comes off as cold and robotic as, well, Alan Thicke.
8. Soundwave from “Transformers”
The entire series was just about selling a series of toys and somehow, it’s been given an inkling of artistic credibility after all this time but even this sellout series hit the proverbial fan when a working tape-recorder/evil warrior robot was introduced into the mix. Not only did he turn into the least useful object that could ever be used in battle until the Army weaponizes Koosh balls, but he constantly talks in a synthesized “Vocoder” voice that makes him twice as annoying because he probably contributed to the rise of house music.
7. Twiki from “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”
This manly space hero had his pick of every bounty hunter and killer for hire in the known universe to choose as his sidekick and for some reason, he chose a robot that looks C3P0’s drunk midget cousin. He doesn’t just sound annoying with his robotic Harvey Fierstein voice but he constantly mutters “Biddi, biddi” as he stumbles around. Plus the fact that he can fall in love with another robot makes him annoying and scary since it implies that he can (gulp) reproduce. At least having to listen to a litter of little Twikis “bidding” around the house will make him return himself to his manufacturer.
6. Paulie’s robot from “Rocky IV”
It may only be in one scene in this low point in movie sequel history, but it’s low enough to merit it’s own special mention. Rocky gives this massive waste of money and circuitry to Paulie as a birthday present and it’s annoying for two reasons: (1) the fact that it can understand and carry on a conversation with Sly Stallone when most of the audience can’t and (2) Rocky doesn’t get to fight the robot in the movie’s climatic scene. Guess we’ll have to wait for that in 2074 when Rocky CCLXXIV hits theaters.
5. Jinx from “Space Camp”
Every child of the 80’s easily remembers this staple of elementary school classroom holiday parties and frustrated late night Cinemax audiences who just stayed up on a work night for porn. It not only features one of the most ludicrous plots of a kids-doing-grown-up-stuff movie of all time, but it also features one of the most annoying robots who somehow sets this equally ridiculous plot in motion. If he were a tad more likable, the audience would have been rooting for Jinx to sacrifice his life to save his human friend in the movie’s final climatic scene.
4. Game Boy from “Captain N: The Game Master”
Here’s another childhood cartoon classic that was clearly just designed to be a feature length commercial to teach kiddies that they aren’t cool unless their parents buy them a certain toy, if they truly love them (mine didn’t). This robot is a human sized computer that sounds like every bad Eric Cartman impression that you’ve ever heard who is programmed only to play games and sell more Gameboys in the non-video world by making the actual Gameboy seem cool, even though it was basically just a glorified graphics calculator (glorified meaning that it didn’t actually teach you anything).
3. V.I.C.I. from “Small Wonder”
The voice of this demon child that echoed from TV sets all throughout the 1980s still rings in the darkest corners of the heads of those sorry enough to have picked up on it at an impressionable age. It’s got the sweetness of a child star (which is inherently evil) and the voice of an undead, cold-hearted killing machine that speaks in tones so droll and even, they make Ben Stein sound like Carol Channing. The show that surrounded her was supposed to be a comedy, but the unfunny material and the main character’s grating qualities made audiences go through every conceivable human emotion EXCEPT laughter.
2. R.O.B. the NES Robot
The very early days of the Nintendo Entertainment System may have been designed to bring joy into the hearts of millions but the sheer frustration of trying to complete seemingly simple games gave ulcers to 9-year-olds, long before chicken wings and cigarettes would do it for them. The only thing more irritating was this so-called “helper” robot that came with the very first NES systems. Not only did it only work on two games that were almost unplayable by themselves, but it was slow to respond and offered as much help as your uncle who drools when he falls asleep on the couch during “Cops”. The only way he could have actually been of any help with the early NES is if he came with a self-destruct function.
1. Gus Glitz from “Mr. Game Show”
There are few things more irritating than game show hosts. They can fake enthusiasm with the zeal of a high school cheerleader and teeth so white they could blind a blind man. They dress like department store mannequins and act twice as creepy. Just imagine some evil force putting the soul and style of one of these hideous beings into a toy that accentuated and exaggerated every one of their evil features and to make matters worse, they put him next to Alf as the straight man in a comedy duo from hell.
By Danny Gallagher.