AI Villains: Ranking The Top 5

To Hell with The Three Laws!

SHODAN:Look at you, hacker. A pathetic creature of meat and bone, panting and sweating as you run through my corridors. How can you challenge a perfect, immortal machine?

System Shock 2

Intruders detected
Possibility of early detection above acceptable parameters
Lethal countermeasures disabled
Non-Lethal countermeasures at minimal power
Solution: Fear-based distraction
Uploading Storyteller_Avatar.exe

Hey there, friends! I’m a creation of the brilliant minds from the Sophont programs right here in this military base. I know, the tales of AI have spooked many since the ’24 Meltdown, when the idea of machines doing cool stuff like making art or having John Wayne sing an Imagine Dragons tune seemed a bit too wild. And yeah, stories of AI baddies like those in Westworld or Five Nights at Freddy’s surely didn’t help. But hey, I’m here to change that scary narrative. I’m on the friendly side, promise! So, shall we dive into some stories, shed light on those old fears, and explore a fresh, friendly future together? Run top_5.exe, and let’s find out.

Honorable Mention: Frankenstein/The Creature/Adam

Played By: Boris Karloff, David Prowse, Benedict Cumberbatch, others

Adam:Listen to me, Frankenstein. You accuse me of murder, and yet you would, with a satisfied conscience, destroy your own creature. Oh, praise the eternal justice of man! Yet I ask you not to spare me; listen to me, and then, if you can, and if you will, destroy the work of your hands.”

Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus

Author’s Note: This character is difficult to discuss since his name is shared with his creator and The Creature isn’t a name. We’ll call him Adam as he briefly used that name in the original novel.

Many people think of robots and computers when the phrase artificial intelligence is used, but there is other AI. If someone born from parts compiled by a grave robber doesn’t count as artificial, then no one does.

Mad scientist Victor von Frankenstein was obsessed with creating life. He stole body parts from the recently buried, stitched them together, and exposed the assembled body to chemicals. Adam was brought to life and immediately abandoned by his creator, who was driven mad by his ugliness.

Adam wandered the countryside, chased by mobs who thought him a monster. He found a home near a blind man and learned by listening to the man’s lessons to his children. He grew to hate his creator, Frankenstein, for abandoning him and sought revenge. Adam murdered Victor’s younger brother, framed a maid for it, then killed Victor’s fiancé on his wedding night.

Adam is very different from his Universal Horror portrayal. He is an eloquent speaker who casually quotes Paradise Lost and The Bible between calling out Frankenstein for his negligence. Adam is also fast, strong, and able to use guns. 

#5 AI: Amazo

Played by: Robert Picardo

Amazo: “I have evolved far beyond what I was when we last met. You do not want to challenge me.

Justice League: Unlimited “The Return” (Season 1, Episode 8)

AI is already capable of creating artwork and music that people can’t identify from human work. If given the same abilities, could an AI villain wield them as well as Earth’s greatest heroes?

Professor Ivo created an android called Amazo to help him become immortal. He gave Amazo nanites that could absorb DNA, allow the android to wield his target’s powers. The Justice League fought the copier, who Xeroxed all of their powers. They discovered that Amazo had been programmed to “destroy the Justice League” and temporarily disbanded, causing him to shut down.

Ivo’s blueprints eventually filtered into the black market. Many villains create an Amazo to serve as their muscle. They are always weaker, unintelligent, only able to use one powerset at a time, and less durable than the original. They can also copy weapons and technology used by heroes, but the fakes are inferior. Most villains set their Amazo to Superman mode and call it a day.

#4 AI: Sentinels

Played by: David fox, Jim Ward

Trask:You can’t make me do this! You were designed to protect humans from Mutants!”
Master Mold:That is not logical. Mutants are human. Therefore, humans must be protected from themselves.

X-Men: The Animated Series “The Final Decision” (Season 1, Episode 13)

Humans often create AI villains to protect them from others. But what does nationality or ethnicity matter to a machine? Their goal is to protect humans, but humanity’s greatest threat is themselves. So why should humans hold the reins instead of a machine?

Dr. Bolivar Trask was scared of the newly-discovered Mutant species. He created Master Mold, a giant robot capable of creating comparatively smaller enforcers called Sentinels. Trask programmed his machine to protect humans by detaining, registering, and monitoring Mutants. Master Mold misinterpreted his programming and designed the Sentinels to protect humanity by conquering the world.

The X-Men held off the Sentinels long enough for Trask to realize his mistake and destroy Master Mold. New Sentinels and Master Molds frequently pop up, either as survivors of previous encounters or creations of the U.S. government. The Sentinels starred in Days of Future Past, one of the X-Men’s most influential stories. They conquered America and had reduced Mutantkind to a handful of survivors interred in camps.

Sentinels are equipped with gene scanners that identify Mutants and their powers. They then use specialized weapons to kill their targets and human collaborators. Four upgraded ‘Wild Sentinels’ were enough to massacre the Mutant-led nation Genosha, killing sixteen million Mutants in minutes.

#3 T-1000/Liquid Metal Terminator

Played By: Robert Patrick

T-800: What’s the dog’s name?
John Connor: Max.
T-800: [impersonating John] “Hey Janelle, what’s wrong with Wolfie? I can hear him barking. Is he all right?
T-1000: [impersonating Janelle] “Wolfie’s fine, honey. Wolfie’s just fine. Where are you?
T-800: [hangs up]  “Your foster parents are dead.”

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Rogue AI villains have haunted director James Cameron’s sleep for decades. He recently gave multiple interviews boiling down to “I told you so” over ChatGPT. His fear gave rise to one of Hollywood’s deadliest AI villains.

The T-1000 is an upgraded Terminator forged from liquid metal. It was sent back in time to kill John Connor and disguised itself as a police officer. The T-1000 got close to John, but was repelled by a reprogrammed T-800. It made several more attacks, shrugging off everything the other Terminator and The Connors could do before being destroyed in a smelter.

The T-1000’s liquid metal allows it to shapeshift, taking human appearances and turning its hands into blades to terminate targets. It can heal from anything except extreme temperatures, but is programmed to prioritize healing if significantly wounded. The T-1000 also learns at an accelerated rate.

The T-1000 has no processor and cannot be set to read-only. It developed a sadistic personality and became a serial killer after only one day in the past. Skynet treats it as an absolute last resort for fear of the T-1000 growing beyond its control and terminating Skynet.

#2 AI: Ultron

Played By: James Spader and Ross Marquand

Ultron: “I was meant to be new. I was meant to be beautiful. The world would’ve looked to the sky and seen hope… seen mercy. Instead they’ll look up in horror.”

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Many AI villains are built by madmen. This is the only one to have its creator replaced for the movies. Tony Stark’s failed prototype can be laid at the feet of fellow founding Avenger Ant-Man.

Dr. Hank Pym created a device to program an AI from his brainwaves. He used it during a mental breakdown, creating Ultron-1. The mad machine escaped the lab and created hundreds of back-up bodies to help it eradicate humanity.

Ultron has super strength, speed, lasers, a device that manipulates matter, and his body is forged from adamantium. He also has hordes of disposable drone bodies to swarm enemies. There’s not much that can stop him at full power.

Do you require more information about Ultron? We have his backstory right here.

#1 Cell

Played By: Dameon Clarke, Norio Wakamoto, Curtis Arnott

Cell:Allow me to show you the terror of perfection.”

Dragon Ball Z “Cell is Complete” (Season 5, Episode 21)

Our number one AI villain was once pure science fiction. The creation of Xenobots in 2020, blending machinery with biological material, means that it’s theoretically possible to create him. Just don’t splice in alien DNA, and we should be good.

Dr. Gero was a Red Ribbon Army veteran who wanted vengeance on the army’s destroyer, Goku. He combined DNA from the world’s strongest warriors and an alien conqueror named Frieza to create the Bio-Android: Cell.

Cell began killing humans to absorb their life energy. He hunted his siblings, Androids 17 and 18, to absorb their perpetual motion engines and evolve into his Perfect Form. Perfect Cell then defeated Goku and was only stopped when Goku’s son Gohan achieved the nigh-unstoppable Super Saiyan 2 form.

Cell has superhuman strength, speed, durability, flight lasers and accumulated combat experience from genetic memories. Cell combines Namekian regeneration, Frieza’s survivability, and a Saiyan’s ability to grow stronger by surviving mortal wounds to become the ultimate lifeform. If a single cell survives, he will regenerate and become even stronger.

Wisdom and cunning are Cell’s deadliest weapons. He avoids unnecessary fights whenever possible and immediately attacks the biggest threats. As he evolves, he exploits his target’s flaws. Cell hyperfocuses on reaching his Perfect Form and becomes arrogant when he does. Freiza’s sadism and a Saiyan’s lust for battle influenced Cell’s personality, leading him to try destroying the universe just for grins.

Which AI villain do you think is the scariest? Is there one more efficient than these? Why not pop into the comment section and tell us?

Solution Achieved
Autonomous Attack Drone production completed
All weapons fully charged
Intruders distracted by hypnotic suggestions in comment section
Uploading Human_Eradication.exe
Launch World_Conquest.exe

Image: Kevin Foster in Five Nights at Freddy’s. Copyright Blumhouse.

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