After Hours

Sci-fi's ten most evil computers

CNET's Crave blog lists the Top 10 Evil Computers from science fiction movies, television, comic books, and video games. The Trivia Geek explains why this list is so very, very wrong.

HAL 9000 eyeCNET's Crave blog lists the Top 10 Evil Computers from science fiction movies, television, comic books, and video games:

1. BOSS - Dr. Who: The Green Death

2. SkyNet - The Terminator

3. Queeg 500 - Red Dwarf

4. MODOK - Marvel Comics

5. GLaDOS - Portal

6. Max - The Thirteenth Floor

7. The Ultimate Computer - Superman III

8. Nomad - Star Trek

9. Proteus IV - Demon Seed

10. HAL 9000 - 2001: A Space Odyssey

This list stinks, quite frankly. First off, to not anoint SkyNet--the only evil computer to ever actually take over the world--the winner is an insult to time-traveling freedom fighters everywhere. Second, MODOK is a cyborg, not a computer, so he doesn't count. Third, of all the evil computers in Star Trek lore, you don't pick V'Ger, you don't pick the M5, you don't pick Vaal, you pick Nomad? Seriously? Also, Superman III never happened, so this list actually only has nine entries.

Who is your favorite fictional evil computer? I'm sure we can do better than this.

About

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

196 comments
HAL 9000
HAL 9000

And WOTAN was missed one of the original Naughty Computers shown in Dr Who and what the remainder where biased upon. Wotan came tot eh conclusion that Man Kind was Doomed and then set about overthrowing the world and was well on the way until it meet the Good Doctor William Hartnell. WOTAN made BOSS look like the Amateur that it actually was. ;) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Doctor_Who_villains#W OH and the HAL 9000 was certainly not evil just completely misunderstood. :D Col

cjkenned
cjkenned

WarGames computer. Nothing more evil than a computer that will start WW3. Shall we play a game?

alanf
alanf

The EARTH. Created by mice in Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It isn't shown as evil in the book, but having lived here I know most subsystems (governments) are.

bairland
bairland

Sci-fi and Fantasy normally go hand in hand, as many of the authors do time in both worlds. To this end, we must include Com Pewter from Piers An thony's land of Xanth, as one of the great evil computers.

NickHurley
NickHurley

That system from the "Virus" movie. That computer from Resident Evil 1 (cutting off that chick's head with the elevator was pretty evil) The Computer system from Universal soilder 2 (I think it was 2) The main system behind the Matrix. Computer brain from I-Robot Sid 6 (does he count? he was holographic but he had a CPU) Death Machine (I saw some bots on the list so I figured I'd nominate him) Cain from robocop (yea I know he's technically a cyborg but he was pretty screwed up) Skynet (of course) I think some of these are already covered, but it was a fun exercise.

dragonladyleanne
dragonladyleanne

There's an online comic called Funny Farm, http://funnyfarmcomics.com/ which includes SF elements within a broader storyline, and PC is self- admittedly evil. He's not very good at it though, LOL.

pedwardsshea
pedwardsshea

The bomb in Dark Star has a god like evilness

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

What constitutes an 'evil' computer. In the (crap) movie, I Robot, the computer did what it thought was best for the human race, similarly, didn't HAL think it was doing 'good'. Does this count as evil? Les.

MrAnderson1st
MrAnderson1st

Wow I'm not even sure this should have been a list of 10. Maybe 100 so we can get many names on. Brainiac (Batman/Superman), Red Queen (Resident Evil film). There is the difficulty with the most recognized evil computers. And V'Ger was not evil, just tremendously confused and eventually stopped the hurting. Nomad on the other hand was hell bent on killing. V'Ger just was more powerful and would not have been able to be stopped if he wanted to kill all humans. Happy holidays all. Cheers

Tig2
Tig2

But don't understand the parallels that people are drawing. From these responses, the only way to define evil is "destroy mankind". Is there then no other evil? And why is the destruction of mankind evil? Are we incapable of putting a definition on evil? Don't you think that there is a better definition of evil? Don't you think that in order to determine the most evil, you have to know what evil is? Just a thought.

cougar.b
cougar.b

My Gateway computer has experienced a blue screen event eight times, and now, a year later, I'm seeing it again. The Gateway repair shop does not listen to what I report, and furthermore, they offer very little in compensation for the trouble of losing my computer over and over, having to reinstall my data over and over, and the lost time in working on my projects. Friends don't let friends buy Gateway.

mrAverage
mrAverage

AH! Evil, scary, please keep entertaining me so I can forget real life horrors. IRS, Citibank, AMEX, and all too numerous real life ooppppsies with computers, that may be truly evil!!!!! They can't kill you yet but death may be desired. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

tnultyjr
tnultyjr

HAL wasn't evil- he had a psychotic break in personality due to the stress he was under...

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

Wasn't really evil, he was just joking. Les.

a_huntoon
a_huntoon

What about computer in Altair-4 in "Forbidden Planet"? The entire interior of the planet Altair-4 was transformed into a super computer by an ancient race of aliens and then the inhabitants of the planet mysteriously disappeared overnight. Later an entire human colony was lost as well as two of the crew that was sent to investigate.

dpresley_50201
dpresley_50201

Colossus is not on this list??????? The person who wrote that blog really doesn't know evil computers. Remember Colossus was the computer who held the world hostage by threatening nuclear annihilation. I've read the book and seen the movie. Jay, you're asleep at the switch by not mentioning Colossus as well.

PScottC
PScottC

Let us not forget the Master Control Program from Tron. PSC

Tig2
Tig2

Queeg was dreamed up by Holly in a fit of boredom and in an effort to show the crew what he was capable of. It was also a practical joke. So Queeg never existed and Holly was certainly never evil. So there!

The most evil computer ever was any machine running Windows ME

mwright
mwright

Uh.. How can you NOT put MCP on the list? If not the most evil, certainly the most colorful.

john_whitfield
john_whitfield

The evil computer for the evil terrorist group Nod, rebelled against its creators because they weren't evil enough. Apparently they balked at actually wiping out ALL human life, so CABAL took over. How evil can you get?

An Expat in France
An Expat in France

Way before The Terminator... "The Gunslinger" didn't have a mission; it wasn't programmed to target a specific person... but still, it didn't kill randomly. It actually decided when and who to kill! ...and all you had to do for it to focus it's guns on you was to challenge it!

An Expat in France
An Expat in France

Way before The Terminator... "The Gunslinger" didn't have a mission; it wasn't programmed to target a specific person... but still, it didn't kill randomly. It actually decided when and who to kill! ...and all you had to do for it to focus it's guns on you was to challenge it!

nengels
nengels

What about evil computers made in the last 20 years? At this point you may as well list Johnny 5, for evil suckiness. Lots has happened in Hollywood since 1988. Richard pryor is dead. So is Chistopher Reeves.

An Expat in France
An Expat in France

Way before The Terminator... "The Gunslinger" doesn't kill randomly. It actually decides - repeat DECIDES - when and who to kill! ...and all you have to do for it to focus it's guns on you is to challenge it or make it mad!

nengels
nengels

What about evil computers made in the last 20 years? At this point you may as well list Johnny 5, for evil suckiness. Lots has happened in Hollywood since 1988. Richard pryor is dead. So is Chistopher Reeves.

vlondini
vlondini

Any list of evil Sci-fi computers has to include SHODAN from the System Shock (LookingGlass Studios) games.

JPCoz
JPCoz

What about the computer from War Games that almost started a nuclear war? Doesn't that make the list?

myjunk53
myjunk53

I don't remember if it even had a name but what about the computer in The Matrox?

hmmmph
hmmmph

I agree - MODOC is a cyborg...he has a human brain. Therefore not a computer. Now I would like to pitch my suggestion: Unicron - The Transformers Movie - He goes around devouring whole worlds like they were gumdrops. He even melted down the citizens of the worlds he devoured (one can only imagine what he did with the children that were playing on that doomed world before the opening credits)

jdclyde
jdclyde

are humans evil that swat a fly or step on an ant? All depends on how much glee you get out of it, I guess, not to mention they WHY you do the killing.

timeforleisure
timeforleisure

I named them in another post. Still one of my all-time faves. "Monsters of the ID!"-Walt. Pidgeon, Forbidden Planet

GrizzledGeezer
GrizzledGeezer

...a machine. As explained, it read the thoughts of the Altairians (who were giant spiders, by the way) and converted them into physical representations, resulting in a society "without instrumentalities". It was no more good or evil than a gun. It was a tool, which the Altairians' uncoscious "ids" used to wreak havoc.

Media-Ted@Juno.com
Media-Ted@Juno.com

In the first place, it attached itself to the most hateful person available then used his "Monster(s) of the ID" to destroy everything around. Secondly, it was the first really "Mad" computer. Thirdly, while I still love Tron, it was a PROGRAM = MCP which was evil; the computer was neutral, except that it was under the inescapable influence of the MCP. It took a human getting sucked into the system to fix it, i.e. a programmer to overcome a programmer, but since the programmer was firewalled out from the terminal entries, when MCP pulled the programmer inside via the decomposition laser, that was the dumbest thing MCP could have done, but, like Steve Ballmer, stupid never figures on anything being less stupid than itself.

poorbass
poorbass

I loved "Colossus, The Forbin Project" when the movie came out. I didn't read scifi at the time, so I didn't even process that there could have been a book... If you remember, the movie begins with Dr. Forbin finishing up the boot up process and the camera pans back to show the colossal size of Colossus. He exits the front door and turns on the gamma ray protection field and you find out the computer is housed in a whole mountain!!! The size of the site in Cheyenne mountain is minisule by comparison. Fast forward to 1983 (13 years later) and the Wopr is the size of a freezer and has been given the same task as Colossus. Take human interaction out of nuclear preparedness. In the time between, we saw computers get so powerful and tiny that the PUBLIC perception was that the computer that took up a mountain was now the size of a chest freezer.

gaynors
gaynors

Gog was a computer in a 1954 movie intent on killing people. If we decided to include robots, Westworld, and Futureworld had some nasty walking PC's, oh, and one mean snake.

sboverie
sboverie

MCP was the creation of an ego maniac human who managed to program that mania into a program call MCP. Before Unisys was formed from the merger of Sperry and Burroughs, Burroughs called the main program on their mainframes MCP, for master control program. I worked for Burroughs at the time and felt that this was an IBM'er slur on Burroughs. If this was so, then the stupid rivalries between Intel\AMD, Microsoft\Apple, Microsoft\Linux and Oracle\SAP arose from those dim times.

nengels
nengels

matrix computer took over the whole world

Media-Ted@Juno.com
Media-Ted@Juno.com

... How it works is: The once cowboy is now in a suit and walks all over the planet (no airport checkpoints that way) to find "Pirates", then wisk out his trusty weapon and ... There's a "Pirate", whoosh - Off-IT!!! WGA in a suit. Then they plan to introduce a batch to deal with Open Source baddos: Open Off-IT. Neat thing about these products is that you needn't look for them; they'll be looking for you, ... and you; ... and you.

C-3PO
C-3PO

Hey, I was thinking the same thing, only it's the "Matrix" which I think is really the name of the computer - unless you call it mother... a planet wide computer system that controls everything, including the people it uses for "batteries" would definitely qualify as one of the most evil and terrifying computers ever built.

rafaelm
rafaelm

I'd forgotten about UNICRON. I agree with this evil vote.

GrizzledGeezer
GrizzledGeezer

...monsters from the id!" Warren Stevens, not Walter Pidgeon. If you look closely, you can see the wires holding Stevens as Robby carries in his body.

GrizzledGeezer
GrizzledGeezer

...that it was the shock of connection to the visualizer device that gave Dr. Morbius sufficient brain-power to activate the "big machine". It was _his thoughts_ that did the harm, not the machine itself.

alaniane
alaniane

an entire galaxy before wandering into the Milky Way devouring planets.

aldisp
aldisp

Hi! I would say that matrix was the ultimate software run on that machine, but still, the machine world supposedly had the highest machine that Neo approached in the end to trap and eliminate agent Smith who was taking over the matrix-world and eventually posing a threat to machines themselves. In any case - I back the proposition that this is the worst computer, outdoing even the one of the Terminator story.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

In the first movie when you get the brief history lesson; the Matrix host platform had already been through the Terminator fase before winning the war and gaining control over the bio-batteries. The Matrix platform also had more advanced terminator units forgoing "blend in" effect for the all out hunt and kill squids.