earns commissions from some of the providers we list on our site. Learn more  

A collection of movies that have changed our perception of robots since 1927

Does this explain our fears of killer robots today?

The best movies of "killer robots" made since 1927.

Almost from the very beginning, movies have happily violated Isaac Asimov’s first rule of robots, which was: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. For the purposes of cinematic storytelling, the idea of an implacable, sentient metal creature coming after the heroes and heroines we are rooting for is good for the box office.  And there’s also the Murphy’s Law/hubris/Sorcerer’s Apprentice theme of humans creating something that they cannot control. Here are some of my favorite movie killer robots, ranging from the classic to the quirky.


The “Terminator” series

Release Date: 1984
Runtime: 107 min.
Source: Orion Pictures

Arnold Schwarzenegger became an instant icon in the first “Terminator” movie, as a cyborg sent back in time to kill the mother of a man who would lead a rebellion against the computer network that would enslave humanity. In the sequel, Robert Patrick was a newer model who could take on any shape, but my favorite was when he was the silvery liquid metal, like mercury, that just reassembled when it was shattered. Five movies and a television and web series later, like the character itself, the series just keeps coming.

I, Robot 

Release Date: 2004
Runtime: 115 min.
Source: 20th Century Fox

Asimov himself wrote the stories that inspired this film, starring Will Smith as a cop living in the future, where robots, theoretically governed by Asimov’s laws, take over and attack the human race.  It turns out that if you program robots to compute the optimal choices for survival without any moral nuance, humans start to look like an infestation to be eradicated.


Ex Machina

Release Date: 2015
Runtime: 108 min.
Source: A24

“Star Wars” co-stars Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac star in Alex Garland’s film about a Steve Jobs-type computer mogul who invites one of his programs to his remote retreat to test out his very beautiful new artificial intelligence robot, played by Alicia Vikander. The film presents the idea that we may fall prey to emotional connections with robots that look and act like us.


2001: A Space Odyssey

Release Date: 1968
Runtime: 149 min.
Source: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

HAL is a computer, so not strictly speaking a robot. But as we know all too well, HAL refuses to open the pod bay doors, and thus the ship itself is a kind of robot, and a deadly one.


Blade Runner

Release Date: 1982
Runtime: 117 min.
Source: Warner Bros.

I’ve always wondered why the humans who created the androids in this classic film based on Philip K. Dick’s “Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep” decide to make them look so much like humans that it requires a complicated oral examination to tell them apart. But it does make for a visually stunning and dramatically complex exploration of existential themes. The sequel is almost as good.



Release Date: 1987
Runtime: 102 min.
Source: Orion Pictures

A human cop injured in a shoot-out “dies” and is reborn as a cyborg. A variation on the theme of robots that become more human, this series is about a human who becomes a robot but still maintains some of his human emotions and sense of morality – and mortality. It features a variation of Asimov’s rule as well, with an important loophole.



Release Date: 1927
Runtime: 153 min.
Source: Parufamet

This 1927 film is a masterpiece of German expressionism in the silent era and the first film to be added to UNESCO's Memory of the World Register. A replica of the film’s "Machine-Man" is on display at the Robot Hall of Fame in the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. In the film, a robot is created to resemble the kind and beloved Maria (Brigitte Helm), so that the false “Maria” can incite the workers to revolt.



Release Date: 1984
Runtime: 99 min.
Source: TriStar Pictures

Probably the smallest killer robots in movie history are the deadly robot spiders in film written and directed by Michael Crichton, starring Tom Selleck and KISS’s Gene Simmons. 

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Release Date: 1997
Runtime: 94 min.
Source: New Line Cinema

Mike Meyers’ affectionate tribute to the spy films of the swinging 60’s features the deadly fembots, in fluffy negligees and go-go boots.

What a Way to Go

Release Date: 1964
Runtime: 111 min.
Source: 20th Century Fox

This neglected gem has an all-star cast, starring Shirley MacLaine as a poor girl who loves the simple life but who marries a series of men who all make huge fortunes (due to her inadvertent interventions) before dying in a series of wildly improbable accidents. The husbands are played by Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Gene Kelly, Dick Van Dyke, and Dean Martin. Each marriage is shown in a different movie genre, all with fabulously over-the-top costumes by Edith Head. Newman plays an American expatriate artist who uses robots to create his paintings, until, well, let’s just say he gets very caught up in his work.

Technology changes every day and with it, so does the mind of consumers.

InMyArea Research is composed of industry analysts and data scientists. We conduct studies on internet usage, TV and streaming services viewership and how consumers make decisions when it comes to their home services. We also study internet connectivity, the digital divide and how it impacts students, low-income consumers, rural consumers and veterans.


Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Jay Roach, New Line Cinema, 1997.

Blade Runner. Ridley Scott, Warner Bros., 1982.

Ex Machina. Alex Garland, A24, 2014.

I Robot. Alex Proyas, 20th Century Fox, 2004.

Metropolis. Fritz Lang, Parufamet, 1927.

The Terminator. James Cameron, Orion Pictures, 1984.

Robocop. Paul Verhoeven, Orion Pictures, 1987.

Runaway. Michael Crichton, TriStar Pictures, 1984.

What a Way to Go! J. Lee Thompson, 20th Century Fox, 1964.

2001: A Space Odyssey. Stanley Kubrick, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1968.