How Do AI in Movies Show Emotions?

January 4, 2020
There are all sorts of AI in movies, ranging from ultra-intelligent to childish and extremely good to notoriously bad. But what about emotion? What do filmmakers tend to cast emotive robots as? This breakdown of AI from movies will give you a little bit of insight.

Do Evil AI Ever Get to Show Emotions?

When you look at the list of AI, a couple of interesting details pop out. Here’s the list of evil AI that don’t display emotions.

  • Maria’s Double – Metropolis
  • Gort – The Day the Earth Stood Still
  • HAL 9000 – 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Skynet – The Terminator
  • Agents – The Matrix
  • VIKI – I, Robot

On the other hand, here are the evil AI that do display emotions.

  • Replicants – Blade Runner
  • Evil Bill and Ted – Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey
  • Ava – Ex Machina

You can see that the list is only half as long. That might mean filmmakers just tend to cast evil AI as unfeeling.

Do Good AI Show Emotions?

The opposite of this trope, then, would be that good AI tend toward showing emotions. From this breakdown, here are all the good AI that do show emotion.

  • R2-D2 – Star Wars
  • Marvin the Paranoid Android – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • KITT – Knight Rider
  • Johnny 5 – Short Circuit
  • Bishop – Alien Series
  • Max – Flight of the Navigator
  • TARS – Interstellar
  • Chappie – Chappie

This is quite the long list, but what’s even more startling is the list of good AI who don’t show emotion.

  • Robocop – Robocop
  • Robot – Robot & Frank

Not only is this an incredibly short list, made up of only two AI, but both of them are very heavily connected to the idea of being a robot. The AI from Robot & Frank never even has a name — it’s just named “Robot.”


After looking through all these AI, you can see a fascinating correlation. In general, evil AI are emotionless creatures, whereas good AI have emotions similar to humans. Although emotions aren’t necessarily what make an AI good or bad, it’s interesting to look through AI in movies and see how filmmakers have historically portrayed the AI that have made the most impact on popular culture. Maybe it’ll shape AI in the real world in the future.


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