4/04/2011

The concept of the cyborg, the combination of living tissues and machines into a single organism, is one of the most enduring themes of science fiction. The cyborg can be portrayed as terrifying in the potential for stripping us of our humanity. Or the cyborg can be portrayed as exhilarating in the way it can enhance humanity and give us new powers or abilities. Here are ten cyborgs that stand out in sci-fi.

10. Inspector Gadget (Inspector Gadget) - This show introduced the concept of fusing mechanical parts and human flesh to kids. A cross between The Six Million Dollar Man and The Pink Panther, Inspector Gadget's body contains an infinite number of gizmos and extending parts. The fact that they rarely worked only added to his charm.



 
9. Arliss Loveless (Wild Wild West) - In the TV show that the movie was based on, the original Dr. Miguelito Loveless was a megalomaniac dwarf. Thankfully, they decided to re-vamp his character. Loveless became a Civil War engineer reduced to just a torso attached to a steam-powered wheelchair. The best part about Loveless is that he's not in our future; he's in our past. He's a steampunk cyborg, which is awesome.


8. Iron Man (Iron Man) - Springing from the comics into the big-screen, Iron Man is the wish-fulfillment of cyborgs brought to life. Not only does he wear a suit of armor that enhances his strength and firepower, but he also has a generator embedded in his chest to augment his heart. Though there is a tragic element to Tony Stark's plight, there's no doubt that most of us would love to be Iron Man. 
7. Rick Deckard (Blade Runner) - Rick Deckard is an officer in the near future charged with hunting down androids masquerading as humans. Is Deckard himself a cyborg? That's the central question of the novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which ends without definitely answering. The ambiguity carries over into the movie adaptation, Blade Runner. In fact, that question is why Deckard is on this list - the fear of machines replacing humans is at the heart of cybernetics. Even if you believe Deckard is human, he personifies that fear.
6. Seven of Nine (Star Trek: Voyager) - There's a word rarely associated with the word "cyborg," and that word is "sexy." But there's no doubt that Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager made the combination of human and machine sexy. A controversial choice that many criticized as being a cheap stunt to boost ratings, she has undoubtedly carved out a place in Star Trek fandom.






5. Robocop (Robocop) - A former police officer killed in the line of duty and rebuilt into a cyborg cop. Robocop is one of the toughest and most powerful cyborgs in fiction. He can walk through a cloud of bullets. He can pick up a car. He has a gun that's more like a hand-held cannon. Even as he captures tragedy, he's also the essence of the cyborg wish-fulfillment fantasy.
4. T-800 (The Terminator) - Unlike most of the other cyborgs on this list, the T-800 is not a human merged with a machine, but a machine merged with a human. In a future where machines are exterminating humanity, the T-800 is a robot covered in living flesh so it can stalk and kill without being identified. The Terminator is terrifying, because he's a machine who can pass as a human, feeding our paranoia about machines among us.

3. The Daleks (Doctor Who) - The Daleks are an icon of science-fiction, thanks to their role as the Doctor's greatest enemy on Doctor Who. The actual nature of the Daleks was a mystery for most of their appearance on the show. A race of creatures entirely dependent on the cylindrical machines that contain them, the Daleks are dedicated to the extermination of all other life. If that doesn't capture the fear of cyborgs, I don't know what does.

2. Steve Austin (The Six Million Dollar Man) - When it comes to television, the cyborg is synonymous with The Six Million Dollar Man, Steve Austin. Famously injured in a plane crash, Austin was rebuilt with super-strong arms and legs, and a high-tech eye. Austin's legacy is still high. Whenever body-enhancing prosthesis are discussed in the media, the Six Million Dollar Man is almost inevitably mentioned.
1. Darth Vader (Star Wars) - A former Jedi knight injured in a battle with his master, Anakin Skywalker is reconstructed as an enormous black-clad warrior. Unable to walk or even breathe without his mechanical suit, yet made far more powerful and imposing, Darth Vader captures the tragedy of the cyborg in one of the most popular movies of all time.


What's your take on these cyborgs? Can you think of other cyborgs that should have made this list?

This post is "C is for Cyborg," part of the "A-Z Blogging Challenge." We'll be posting something on our blog every day in April except for Sundays. The challenge is hosted by Arlee BirdJeffrey Beesler, Alex J. CavanaughJen Daiker, Candace Ganger, Karen J Gowen, Talli Roland and Stephen Tremp. Visit them today and everyday for the next month!

7 comments:

Claudie Arseneault said...

Oh man, I love this post. Inspector Gadget was among my favourite shows when I was a kid. And I always loved Arliss Loveless (it might have to do with him being played by Kenneth Branagh, but nevermind that.)

Great post, great blog. I'm glad I found you guys!

Sam Iam said...

How about gunslinger from westworld. Yul Brynner was pretty good!

Kooz said...

Excellent list, but where are the Cylons?  My take here: http://kooztop5.blogspot.com/2011/09/top-5-television-cyborgs.html

monkeymigraine said...

Cyclons! That's a good one, although I'd have to check. I always thought the Cylcons were 100% machine.

monkeymigraine said...

 Gunslinger was cool, but he was a robot, not a cyborg.

Raymond Virzi said...

The first one that came to mind for me was General Grievous, but he wasn't on the list. Maybe he isn't famous enough yet ;)

Kooz said...

Cylons (in the new series, not the original) were made as machines/robots, but they "evolved" (may be too strong a word) into basically humans (referred to on the show as "skin jobs") and some of their crafts are combination metal exterior and biological interior. I'm doing a lousy job of explaining, but it's pretty well done in the show (by the end).

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