Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Top 10 Cyborgs

The recent Terminator prequel/sequel got me thinking about some of the cyborgs that have been trotted out in TV and the movies over the years - not the half-hearted, B-budget, cheesy offerings like The Vindicator, but rather the cool man-machine fusions (whether we're talking humans with technological add-ons for whatever reason, or machines making some use of flesh) that were truly memorable. There were a lot of possible candidates to consider, but in the end, these are the Top 10 Cyborgs:

10) Seven of Nine - Star Trek: Voyager
She's brilliant, technologically-enhanced (look at those nano-probe injection tubules!), and easy on the eyes. While Trek may have occasionally explored in the past what it means to recover from Borg assimilation (through Hugh and his cohorts, and Picard), Seven offered the most in-depth look at what it means to have to regain one's humanity, individuality and identity, even as her implants always kept her somewhat apart.

9) Cylon hybrids - Battlestar Galactica
Meant as an experiment to further Cylon evolution during the war, the hybrids have become the central nervous systems of the basestars (an idea that would seem to have been directly inspired by the Shadow vessels from Babylon 5), mad muttering Delphic oracles to the humaniod models, and gods to the centurions. Not bad for someone who spends all day in a hot tub full of pink goo plugged into fat electronic cables.

8) Major Motoko Kusanagi - Ghost in the Shell
This badass cyborg cop gets points for merging with a rogue AI to help it further its evolution and resolve her own questions around identity and purpose.

7) Robocop
The original badass cyborg cop. For a guy once described as "just a couple of chunks on a coroner's table", Robo is another cyborg who's struggled hard with identity: in this case, moving beyond scattered memories and reminders of a life as Alex Murphy, and beyond his programmer's directives, towards something/someone new. Someone new who can manage to put the boots to the bigger, badder Robocop 2 or a surley ED209.

6) Marcus - Terminator - Salvation
This former death row inmate became Skynet's first experiment in using human flesh to allow machines to infiltrate the Resistance, but asserted his humanity in his own form of resistance. In a movie where John Connor finally comes into his own as the leader of the Resistance, it's far more interesting - and entertaining - to follow Marcus' development.

5) The Borg Queen - Star Trek: First Contact
She is the face of the hive mind of the legion of cyborgs that has rampaged across the galaxy assimilating entire races. Seductive, brutal and relentless, she is frightening with her cold gaze as she calculates what it will take to break a victim, be it biological, machine, or a whole species.

4) Locutus - Star Trek: The Next Generation
One of the most successful assimilations, the converted Picard wreaked havoc on the Federation, combining his own experience and intuition with ages of Borg and assimilated race histories to cripple Starfleet at the Battle of Wolf 359. If it weren't for his recapture and reversion to Picard, Locutus might have succeeded in assimilating the Federation for his queen.

3) T-800 - The Terminator
Arnie's frosty-faced, muscle-bound cybernetic assasin is nearly unstoppable and was frightening as hell the first time around, whether it was fleshed-out, trimming damaged tissue away, or clattering across the concrete as a red-eyed metal skellaton. The reliably dangerous 800 series has been both a villain and a hero and is definitely high on the list for sheer brute force, cunning and adaptability.

2) Cameron - Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
This cyborg may be petite and pretty, but she can still go nose to nose with an 800 and win more often than not. It was fascinating to watch her develop as a character and come to grips with her growing emotions.

1) Darth Vader - Star Wars
The original badass: armoured and machine-enhanced, weilding a light sabre and the power of The Dark Side. Vader is at the top of this list because no other cyborg has ever had anywhere near the impact on geek and mainstream culture that he has. The Sith Lord's only weakness: some weeny acting in his backstory. I guess everyone has a skelleton in their closet, no matter how great or mechanically enhanced they are.

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Tony Solorzano said...

With regards to Major Kusanagi's position on your list, I agree with your points regarding the Major's contributions to the list, but you left out one important thing to add to her positioning. She looked Damn good in that synthetic body...

Vincetastic said...

Hey Bloginhood, this top ten list is fantastic. Great pick for #1, Darth Vader is the best cyborg. I had no idea that there were this many cyborgs in movies and TV. What's cooler cyborgs or androids? You can post this to our site and link back to your site. We are trying to create a directory for top ten lists where people can find your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

Robin Shantz said...

@ Tony: Agreed, Tony! The Major was definitely fine indeed.

@ Vincetastic: Thanks! Good question about cyborgs vs androids. I'm not sure whether one is cooler than the other - both have had some pretty awesome examples, as well as lame offerings. One of the difficulties in making this list was figuring out where cyborgs end and androids begin - especially with so many stories blurring the lines.