Robots! They're not just our future overlords, they're also our replacements in almost any job you can imagine. America rushed to watch robots duke it out in Real Steel this past weekend — but "robot boxer" is not the most outlandish job a fictional robot has held.
Here are all the weirdest human jobs that robots have taken away from us.
Top image: Pris from Blade Runner by Misanthropic Bastard on Deviant Art
Honestly, if we listed all the robot sex workers in science fiction, we'd be here all day. There are so many of them, especially if you lump in all sexbots and the like. The world's oldest profession has a robot army. Blade Runner's Replicants (if they count as robots) include Zhora and Pris. There's also A.I.'s Gigolo Joe. And in Y: The Last Man, the women of the world turn to robotic sex workers when there's only one flesh-and-blood man left. And so on, and so on.
Data attempted to learn this job in one of Star Trek: The Next Generation's most forgettable episodes. But there's also Catskill, the robot comedian in the unjustly forgotten movie Heartbeeps. And HumorBot 5.0 in Futurama.
Ren Faire Actor
Westworld includes an entire theme park with robots who act like cowboys, Victorian ladies and gentlemen, and medieval knights in armor. There's also the robots who can act out your weird princess/white rabbit fantasies in the Star Trek episode "Shore Leave."
The three robots from the movie Chopping Mall (1986) — originally released under the title Killbots — are the enforcers in a state-of-the-art mall security system. They roll around monitoring the stores, just like a human mall cop would. Unfortunately, these robots become murder machines after lightning strikes the mall multiple times and damages the computers that control them.
There are many, many robot superheroes, including Robotman, The Vision, Red Tornado, and many others. Also, when Buffy temporarily dies in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she's replaced with a "Buffybot," which undertakes her superheroic duties with mixed results.
Game Show Host
On Doctor Who, the Daleks decide the best way to subjugate humanity is by making us take part in tacky game shows, circa 2005, and they go to great trouble and expense to create robot replicas of Anne Robinson from The Weakest Link. Plus Trine-E and Zu-Zuna droids, from What Not to Wear. Why? Because the Daleks are the superior life form in the universe.
In Frederik Pohl's Gateway, the main character's shrink is a robot. Although, to be fair, he's alternately referred to as a program or a robot, and he doesn't seem to move.
The robots of Mystery Science Theater 3000 join poor Joel Hodgson in watching godawful B-movies. The most famous of these are Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo, who actually wisecrack along with Joel. However, Gypsy, usually working in what passes as a cockpit for spaceships, also joins in for one movie.
One of the earliest creepy-lady robot storylines of all time is Léo Delibes' 1870 ballet Coppélia, about a young ‘swain' who falls in love with the titular incredibly lifelike dancing doll. Coppélia was invented by the mysterious Doctor Coppélius. Frantz the swain eventually realizes the error of his ways as the ballet progresses, and marries a human woman named Swanhilde.
Star Wars is full of torturer robots, and according to some sources Princess Leia gets handed over to one of these during her imprisonment in Episode IV. There were the IT-O interrogators, as well as robot G0-T0 and his lookalikes. (The G0-T0 Robot for torture!) Also, in Transformers 2, which is chock full of torture for the audience, there's also a torturer Decepticon, the Doctor.
Futurama pretty much has robots doing every job you can imagine, including Robot Satan and Robot Santa. And HedonismBot. And the robot gangsters. There's also Bender's role as delivery boy. But most notably, there's also the super-celebrity Calculon stars in on the soap opera All My Circuits, and also performs many melodramatic roles in movies. He is also a bit of a Robot Doctor Faust, having supposedly gotten his acting ability from the Robot Devil. Also, in James Tiptree's short story "The Girl Who Was Plugged In," celebrities are robots controlled by human brains.
Futurama has an awesome robot bartender, the iZac. Plus there's a robot airport bartender in The Fifth Element. And I, Robot also has a robot bartender. Thanks to SkippyTheMarine and beercheek for the heads up!
There's the Stepford Wives, of course — followed by the Stepford Husbands and Stepford Children. Everybody wants to marry a robot, as long as he/she is programmed for pleasure. Bonus points if your robot S.O. can make a mean mini-pizza, like Ted (John Ritter) on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Alpha 5 from Power Rangers deals in arms. He also trains child soldiers. He has some problems.
Another category where there are almost too many to list. (Although not Robocop. He's a cyborg.) There's Murray, from the TV show Riptide, who helps three Vietnam-vets-turned-private-eyes to solve cases in California. There's Sheriff Andy from Eureka. There's Asimov's R. Daneel Olivaw. And Future Cop with Ernest Borgnine, of course. And Mann and Machine — thanks to CLJohnston108 for the reminder!
In the South Park episode "A.W.E.S.O.M.-O", Cartman disguises himself as The A.W.E.S.O.M.-O 4000, a robot whose only talent is being really, really good at pitching Adam Sandler movies to studio executives.
Robby the Robot (of Forbidden Planet and subsequent fame) is many things, but one of his main talents is as a dressmaker, who made all of Altaira's gowns. Who knew?
DJ Roomba on Parks and Recreation might just be a vacuum with an ipod deck, but he's got a lot of memes centered on him. Meanwhile, there's Major Domo in Michael Jackson's Captain E.O. — he's not just the ship's Security Officer, he's also the Musical Synthesizer.
That's pretty much Wall-E's whole job in the movie Wall-E. And the same goes for most of the other robots in the movie, especially on the spaceship. There are lots of other cleaning robots and trash robots elsewhere in science fiction, including Rosie the Maid in The Jetsons.
Celebrities might not need to go back to the Third World next time they want to adopt a random kid — they could just adopt a robot child who never grows up. Like David in A.I.
Johnny Cab in Total Recall is a lot more helpful than most human cabdrivers, even if he isn't quite able to interpret Arnie's ultra-precise instructions.
Lots of Kings and Queens have been replaced with robots or androids. There's the shapeshifting android duplicate of King John in Doctor Who, "The King's Demons." There's Princess Strella and Prince Reynart in Doctor Who's "The Androids of Tara." And then in Disney's The Great Mouse Detective, the evil Ratigan forces the toymaker Mr. Flaversham to create a robot queen who can appoint Ratigan to power.
In I, Robot, Robbie of I, Robot was meant as a mere babysitter for little Gloria Weston, but he saved her life. (Admittedly, the life-saving came after he had been "fired" from babysitting, while he was working at a factory constructing other robots.) And in Rocky IV, Rocky gives his brother-in-law Paulie a robot named Sico, and the robot looks after Rocky Jr. while Rocky is in Russia destroying Communism and single-handedly ending the Cold War.
Could Occupy Wall Street be secretly run by robots? It happens in Metropolis, when revolutionary leader Maria is replaced by a robot duplicate. Gives you something to think about.
Additional reporting by Gabriel Moore-Topazio and Benjamin Paczak.