My 8 Most Menacing TV Artificial Life Forms

Falling Skies, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Stargate SG-1, The Outer Limits, Battlestar Galactica, Dr. Who

Last week, I wrote an article about My 5 Favorite TV Artificial Life Forms. Considering that list, you will note that only benevolent artificial life forms are mentioned. As anyone who has ever watched science fiction TV or movies knows, many times an artificial life form will turn out to be evil, even if initially they seem to be good.

In fact, artificial life forms that are evil is the more prevalent theme. By way of proving my point, you will note that I list more menacing artificial life forms than I had favorites last week.

Borg – Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager

Seven of Nine - Star Trek: Voyager

Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch, yes, I do know that the Borg are part organic and part inorganic. However, I consider them artificial life forms due to their hive mentality and method of reproduction via assimilation.

Despite the fact the Borg became less of a threat in later years, and honestly, if they had remained as invincible as they were when introduced, then the name of the show would have to be changed to “Star Trek: The Borg Years,” since the Federation would have been totally assimilated, they were a scary, formidable foe. Their single minded desire to assimilate everything in their path and “add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own” is truly frightening.

Replicators – Stargate SG-1

Replicator - Stargate SG-1

Created by an android as her toys and protectors, these artificial life forms were menacing for their ability to reproduce at prodigious speeds and in great numbers. Because they use surrounding materials to replicate, and like the Borg are single minded in their goal to conquer, they were a formidable foe.

When we were then introduced to human form replicators in season 6, the threat was significantly ramped up. Honestly, what is more frightening than an evil killing machine that cannot be stopped by our weapons, and can hide among us in plain sight?

Mechs – Falling Skies

Mech - Falling Skies

These robots are entirely mechanical. They have a variety of weapons, with settings from stun to destroy! Their armor is very strong, but not totally impenetrable. They use a multi-laser targeting system, which makes their weapons fire very accurate.

After the humans captured one, it was discovered that bullets made from their metal exterior was capable of penetrating their armor, which has exposed a vulnerability. However, they are still extremely menacing and a key part of the alien plan to take over the earth.

Cylons – Battlestar Galactica

Cylon Centurion - Battlestar Galactica

The history of the Cylons from the original series and the newer reimagining is different. In fact, the Cylons in the original series referred to the reptilian race that created the artificial life forms that were also referred to as Cylons during the run of the show. The reptilian Cylons dies out long before the series, and all that remained were the robotic Cylons, bent on destroying the Twelve Colonies of humanity.

In the reimagined series that ran for 4 years following a miniseries launch in 2003, the Cylons were created by humans as workers and warriors, and then turned on them, attempting to destroy humanity. In addition to the robotic version, however, there were human form Cylons, that were nearly impossible to distinguish from humans.

Lore – Star Trek: The Next Generation

Lore - Star Trek: The Next Generation

Another artificial life form that can hide among us in plain sight, Lore, Data’s “brother,” could be considered his “evil twin.” Created by Dr. Noonian Soong before Data, he was very advanced in his programming, emotions and sentience. Unfortunately, he became unstable, and believed himself to be superior to humans. He caused the destruction of all life on his home world in reaction to their fear of him.

In subsequent years, he managed to wreak further havoc by masquerading as Data, kidnapping him, manipulating him, and otherwise proving that he was a menace. Finally he was disassembled and placed in storage.

Teryl Bouton – The Outer Limits

Melburn, Teryl and Mary 25 - The Outer Limits

In 1995, The Outer Limits series was revived. This episode comes from this revival, which lasted 7 seasons. It was a follow on to a season 1 episode, “Valerie 23,” with yet another android gone wrong.

In “Mary 25,” a season 4 episode, we are reassured by the scientists that they have “fixed the problem with the earlier model” which had ended up almost killing its owner and his girlfriend in a fit of jealousy. Of course, anyone who is familiar with science fiction knows to not trust such assurances. The eerie part of this episode was the manipulation of the love interest to modify Mary 25 in order to allow her to kill the admittedly evil husband. The ending twist completes the terror as we once again have an artificial life form, capable of planning a murder, living among us.

Dalek – Dr. Who

Daleks - Doctor Who

Yet another example of an organic life form merging or being integrated with a mechanical life form, the Daleks are menacing in that they posed a threat to the Time Lords, but were believed to have been destroyed, along with the Time Lords, by the Time War.

Daleks, like other menacing artificial life forms, have as their goal universal conquest and domination. They have no concept of pity, compassion or remorse, only the need to destroy all non-Dalek life in the universe.

Nanobots – The Outer Limits

Stephen and Andy - The Outer Limits

Ah, nanobots, nanites, etc. – the building blocks of so many science fiction stories, it seems! They have many uses. In the Outer Limits first season episode “The New Breed” they are used to cure cancer. Of course, as with any science fiction story, you must always be careful what you wish for, and these nanobots do not disappoint. They take on all imperfections in the human body, and then continue to make “improvements” on the original design, with disastrous results.

And, other science fiction shows also featured this concept. Most memorably, on Star Trek, The Borg use nanoprobes, also called nanites, to assimilate captured humanoids, On Stargate Atlantis, the Ancients used nanite technology during their war with the Wraith to try and destroy them and on Stargate SG-1, there were a few separate instances of nanite technology being used, most menacingly in “Unnatural Selection” and follow on episodes which have far reaching effects leading to the near destruction of earth.


What do you think of my list? Do you have anything to add or any comments on my selections? Please let me know in the comment section below!