The hosts of SciFiMonth have gathered cool prompts and top ten lists. Today, I’m going to list my favorite AI characters. This turned out to be very difficult.

Many, many SF franchises and various films, tv-show, games, books, and comics have AI characters. Some are good, some are evil. Many of them have some sort of bodies, either machines or fully human. Others are ship intelligences.

One of the things I find fascinating with AI characters is our tendency to give them genders and often they seem to have the biological parts, as well. After all, except for sex bots (which tend to be almost always female) they don’t require a gender to function. Most of them don’t have story lines that require a specific gender, either. It seems that we humans are most comfortable when a human looking machine has an identifiable gender, even when it doesn’t have the parts.

Here are my favorites over the years:

1, Lieutenant Commander Data
My favorite Star Trek series has one of my favorite AI character, so of course he had to be first. In many ways Data is physically superior to humans, and other organic lifeforms. He’s saved the Enterprise many times. But it’s his exploration of what is it to be human that really set him apart. Yes, some of them are cringe worthy, especially in the first two season but most bring some insight not just to Data himself but to humanity.

Star Trek has other AI characters as well, such as Data’s “evil brother” Lore and ST: Voyager has the Doctor who is hologram.

2, Cameron
The second choice was much harder but I just had to go with Cameron from the too-brief Sarah Connor Chronicles. Cameron is a Terminator sent from the future to keep the Connors safe. She poses as John Connor’s sister. Like many of the other Terminators, she pretty emotionless but she seems to have been learning the value of life from Sarah and John.

3, The Oracle
The Matrix series has many AI characters, most notable Agent Smith and the Merovingian. But I really like Oracle. She’s integral to not just the story line but to Neo’s development.

4, C3PO/R2D2
Of course the list wouldn’t be complete without the two lovable droids from Star Wars. They complement each other so well the I can’t just choose one of them.

Knight Industries Two Thousand is the second main character in the Knight Rider tv-series. It’s very independent and often tries to advice it’s rider, Michael Knight. It’s also programmed to protect Michael. It’s been many, many years since I watched the show but I remember it having sarcastic lines and a sense of humor.

6, The Vision
Marvel cinematic universe had three prominent AIs: Jarvis, Ultron, and the Vision. The last two had very brief appearances, although the Vision is in Disney+ -channel’s WandaVision. I’m patiently waiting for the channel to expand outside just one country.

But I’m talking about the comics version. When I started reading the Avengers in the 80s, the Scarlet Witch and her husband the Vision were an integral part of the team. Unfortunately, that didn’t last. As is usual for Marvel (and to a bit lesser extend DC), they were separated. Wanda’s powers made her crazy and the US government dismantled the Vision. The current Vision has been rebuilt many times but my favorite versin is still the original.

7, Gideon
The AI piloting the Waverider is just as much a Legend and the rest of the team in Legends of Tomorrow. It has a female voice and a female appearance. It functions as the navigator and the doctor. It’s also sometimes the voice of reason for the team.

8, Marvin the paranoid android
Still one of the more memorable characters in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Marvin had “the brain the size of a planet” and is depressed and bored because he’s not given much to do. He’s also immortal and lives through all of time (IIRC).

9, Athena
In the first season of the new Battlestar Galactica, Sharon Valerii, or Boomer, thought she was a human. But as the season progressed, she found out that she was actually a Cylon. But she sided with the humans and became a trusted and valued member of the battlestar.

10, Murderbot
My newest favorite AI character is the delightful protagonist of Martha Wells’ novels. All Systems Red has been a hit and with a reason. Written in first person is brings out Murderbot’s sarcasm and introverted nature. It just wants to be left alone and view it’s shows. But as a security unit, instead it must protect humans from all the stupid things they get up to. (Technically, I think Murderbot is a cyborg but so are the terminators.)