In chats with friends and followers of the blog about sci-fi Drone Week, folks seem interested in coming up with a definitive list of sci-fi drones in movies and TV shows. While we might get there eventually by reviewing the movies and TV shows in which they appear, let’s beat that to the punch by creating the list FROM OUR MINDS.
- In a sci-fi movie or television show
- Is not simply a representation of a real-world drone
- Is mobile (in the air, on the ground, or in space)
- Appears (or defined as) technolgoical, not biological
- Does not have a sentient controller/pilot aboard
- Does not possess strong/general artificial intelligence
- Either automous or remotely-controlled
Here’s what I’ve collected so far. Add more in the comments if you think of them.
- Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
- The lightsaber training orb
- The mouse-bot that Chewbacca scares
- Flash Gordon (1980) the bot in Ming’s chamber
- Viper Probe Droid seen on Hoth in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
- Terminator diegesis (1984–)
- Moto-Terminators (Salvation)
- Aerostats (Salvation)
- Hydrobots (Salvation)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)
- Automated defense drones (TNG, The Arsenal of Freedom)
- Probes (“send in a probe!”)
- They Live (1988) but only when you wore the glasses
- Back to the Future II (1989) had USA Today drones (unclear if they’re AI, but benefit of the doubt?)
- Babylon 5’s (1994) camera drones
- Stargate diegesis (1997–)
- (early versions of the) Replicators
- World-testing UAVs
- S4E2 The Other Side was all about drone warfare
- Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) had “holocameras” following the podraces
- Farscape (1999) has adorable little DRDs
- Dark Angel (2000) had Police Hover Drones that the titular character got to surf.
- The Incredibles (2004) Syndrome controls a few drones to do his bidding
- Stealth (2005) (prior to the lightning strike that gives it strong general intelligence
- Sleep Dealer (2008)
- Wall•E (2008) SO many, though the level of their AI might disclude some
- Skyline (2010) (has both alien drones and real world human drones)
- The topography “pups” of Prometheus (2012)
- Robocop (2013) (has both aerial and ground)
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013–) (Seriously, this show has a thing for them)
- Golden Retrievers
- Star Trek: Insurrection’s (1998) transporter/transponder drones
- Battleship (2012) battle bots
- Hunger Games (2012) delivery droids
- Elysium (2013)
- Drone (2013)
- Oblivion’s numbered, Tet-tech drones (2014)
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s city-sized drones (2014)
- Chappie (2015) (aerial-capable, but mostly ground)
- The floor-sweeping robots from The Fifth Element (1995)
- The Robot from the Lost in Space movie (1998), which Will could remotely control
- The Spyders of Minority Report (2002)
- The remotely-controlled robots in Surrogates (2009)
- Microbots from Big Hero 6 (2014) (a swarm of drones)
Thanks to the following suggestors for the initial list: Kelley Strang, John Danuil, Devin Hartnett, Derek Eclavea, Lane Bourn, Wally Pfingsten & kedamono.
Almost but not quite
Some suggestions seem like they would be perfect candidates, but for some reason skim the definition.
- Bit from Tron (1982) may have been limited to yes or no answers, but was an AI
- Machine gun drones from the deleted scenes of Aliens (1986) can only swivel, not move
- Dreadnought from Star Trek: Voyager (1995)(VOY, Dreadnought) it’s AI
- Jarvis from the cinematic Iron Man/Avengers diegesis, also strong AI
Keep them coming in the comments. What did we forget?
What about Dark Angel’s police drones: https://www.screenused.com/?sectionID=item-detail&subsectionID=index.cfm&item_id=1799
Thanks, sj. Included!
I think the early versions of the replicators from Stargate fit the criteria also:
Yep. Thanks, Maximiliano.
In Seaquest DSV there were remote camera drones called ‘WSKRS’.
Dalek Antibodies from the Doctor Who episode ‘Into the Dalek’ http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Dalek_antibody
Star Wars again – Aerial (UAV)
The Empire Strikes back, Imperial probe droid (on Hoth)
A couple initial thoughts:
HammerDrones (Ironman II)
The Bubbleship from Oblivion had a drone mode
I’ll keep looking too.