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The most iconic AI TV characters of all time


AIs are great, aren’t they? Unless they achieve eerie sentience and decide to purge the Earth of their meat-made masters (ie, us), in which case AIs suck. But either way, we’ve always been fascinated by tales of machine intelligence, and one of the best of all time is Humans, which is available to binge-watch now on On Demand, in all its dystopian nightmarish brilliance.

But what about the other iconic AIs who’ve whirred into existence over the decades? Let’s peek into the TV vaults and see who (and what) we’ll find…


Data (Star Trek)

If Pinocchio was crossed with a Vulcan, and largely composed of tripolymer composites and molybdenum-cobalt alloys, the result would be Data. Star Trek’s resident android spends half his time being a logically-minded genius, and the other half wishing he was human. Which is actually pretty illogical when you consider that he’s got a far better brain than any human, and is stronger than any human, and – barring sudden explosions – is capable of living forever. 


Kryten (Red Dwarf)

It’s funny to think audiences had to wait a whole two series before Kryten became a permanent member of the Red Dwarf crew. Sure, he might look like Herman Munster’s stuntman, but Kryten is a soulful, poetic soul trapped within the clunky frame of a sanitation droid. Over the years, we’ve seen him act like a mother to Lister, save the crew from certain death, and fall madly in love with a giant green blob (hey, you can’t be too fussy when you have a head shaped like a freak formation of mashed potatoes). We’re just sad there’s never been a Star Trek/Red Dwarf crossover so Kryten and Data could interact. Imagine the possibilities. The awkward, awkward possibilities…


Twiki (Buck Rogers In The 25th Century)

Children of the 80s will remember Twiki as one of the most adorable/annoying robots of the decade. The “loveable sidekick” in trashy sci-fi series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, he basically wanders around saying “biddi-biddi-biddi” all the time. Which is exactly as cute/irritating as it sounds. On the plus side, he looked kind of shiny and cool, and he was voiced by none other than cartoon voice acting legend, Mel Blanc – the man behind Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and the like. So in a way, getting Mel Blanc to say “biddi-biddi-biddi” for a vaguely rubbish TV show was akin to getting Sir Laurence Olivier to recite the “To be or not to be” speech for, like, a soup commercial. Kind of.  


KITT (Knight Rider)

Quick, what does “KITT” actually stand for? Pah, it’s “Knight Industries Two Thousand”, and this fact will surely enrich your memories of the show that made David Hasselhoff a TV god. But, just for once, the Hoff has to take second place to the real star of the show: KITT itself, a smart-alec AI which controls the sleekest, darkest, sexiest car ever to hit the streets of 80s America. OK, so the idea of a bromance between a man and a Pontiac is a bit peculiar, but we’ll let that slide on account of the sheer awesomeness of KITT, and that waow-waow sound the red light at the front makes as it goes back and forth. That’s the coolest sound ever.


K9 (Doctor Who)

There have been almost as many incarnations of the walking, tail-wagging toaster that is K9 as there have been Doctors to go with him. OK, so we’re obviously exaggerating and there have been just four versions of the time-travelling pooch, but that’s still pretty good going for what is basically a minor, silly character thrown in to make kids giggle. K9 made his first appearance alongside Tom Baker’s Doctor, and was later rediscovered by David Tennant’s Time Lord in a genuinely moving and poignant episode (if you’re a soppy old Doctor Who fan, anyway). But the less said about the diabolical 80s spin-off pilot series, K9 and Company, the better…


The Robot (Lost In Space)

You’ve got to love the writers of Lost In Space for clearly wanting to finish a script meeting early. “What are we going to call the robot?” one presumably asked. “How about… The Robot?” another presumably answered, and off they went to the pub. Despite its spectacularly unexciting name, the Robot has become one of the classic sci-fi robots from the genre’s golden age, partly because it looks exactly like what a 9-year-old might draw if you told them to draw a robot. And partly because of its line, “Danger, Will Robinson!”. Which, by the way, the Robot said a grand total of ONE TIME in the entire show.


Bender (Futurama)

And finally, Bender: the rudest, most cantankerous and self-centred AI in the history of AIs. Forged in the fires of a Mexican robot factory, which accounts for his “Latin charm”, this three-fingered hunk of hateful metal was first seen in Futurama trying to commit suicide – and that was when he was in a good mood. Since then, he’s excelled in extremely non-robot-like behaviour such as womanizing, getting drunk and occasionally extolling passers-by to “kill all humans”. And if you don’t like that… well, you can bite his shiny metal ass.

Humans series 1 is available now on demand. Find it in On Demand > Box Sets > Drama