Ever since I was a kid I was fascinated by cyborgs in science fiction. When cartoons started gearing more towards the sci-fi bent cyborgs started showing up everywhere. I didn’t have any interest in cyborg characters in such things other than they looked cool. But the fascination stuck with me for years. Part of it may have something to do with the possibility of extending one’s life with cybernetics. There’s also an intriguing question of where the person ends and where the machine begins, or if the machine is in fact part of the person. It could also just still be that they look cool.
So, as I had to combine yesterday’s Nerdy Saturday post with today’s Sunday List, I’m going to throw together my list of top five cyborgs. There’s no ascending or descending order of desirability of the entries, nor are these necessarily my favorite cyborgs in fiction. I’m sure I’ll remember more tomorrow that I forgot to put here. But I still find these specific examples interesting, and in some cases underrated.
I’m going to place a couple of limits here and say what I’m not going to include. In the broadest sense of the word, I’m a cyborg because I wear glasses to augment my vision. I’m using the more generally accepted sense of “cyborg” as it’s used in science fiction, in which a robotic component to a person’s body is connected directly to the nervous system in order to either replace a person’s biological body part or enhance their physical capabilities.
Likewise, I’m not going to include the “cyborgs” from the Terminator franchise. I never understood why the biological tissue was there other than to give Arnold an acting job as the robots can function perfectly well without the biological components. I also never understood how the skin is actually connected to the robotic parts anyway. It just seems to be more of a garment than anything else. Finally, I prefer the idea that a cyborg still has the biological brain, or at least enough of it that the original person is still intact in there, somewhere.
- Hugh. I could include the entire Borg race from the Star Trek franchise. But this time I wanted to include the first drone that we’ve actually seen freed from the collective.* Unlike such drones in Voyager, Hugh never regains his a former identity of before he was assimilated. Instead, his individuality forms on his own, and he has to discover who he is. He goes through further growth when he aids the crew of the Enterprise in defeating Lore and his cult of former drones from Hugh’s former Borg ship.
- Master Cylinder. I’ll admit that it’s been years since I’ve seen a Felix the Cat cartoon. But I remember that even when I had I was surprised to see a cyborg character in a child’s cartoon from that time period. Master Cylinder was a mad scientist who put his brain inside a giant cylinder body. Somehow this made him more of an adversary to Felix than the average antagonist wanting to steal his magic bag. He was also kind of creepy.
- The Go-bots. Speaking of cartoons, I thought I would include the entire population of Gobotron. You may remember this as one of the chief competitors to The Transformers in the eighties. You may not remember, though that unlike their more successful contemporaries, they aren’t living robots, but in fact organic aliens that transplanted their brains into robot bodies to save themselves from extinction. A bit like Robotix but with a better theme song.
- Deathlok. There’s been several Marvel characters carrying the name of Deathlok with a similar premise of having been turned into cyborg soldiers by their government. There’s something promising about a character that has to wrestle control away from his cybernetic parts. There’s a lot of story potential with a pacifist turned into a killing machine by his government. So where’s the Deathlok movie already?
- Robo-Cop. Well, it may not be exactly the same but a similar premise. With the Robo-Cop movies, though, the government doesn’t have total control over Robo-Cop. They try but his former humanity always re-asserts itself over any software they install into his system. He’s been turned into a superhero in the cartoons, video games and even the third movie (he could fly) but the original film was pretty disturbing with its dystopian setting and philosophical statements about corruption in a decaying society.
*One could argue that that honer would go to Locutus, but he was a step above a drone. Besides, we never actually saw how extensive the Borg technology was used on him; it almost looked like the equipment was added to his body rather than replacing any of it.