Monday, June 17, 2013

Reader Top Ten Lists: The Ten Greatest Science Fiction Film Characters of All Time?

Since our first reader top ten in May, I’ve received several great ideas for the next top ten list. 

Some readers have suggested I focus on horror films, others on the greatest characters in film or television history, and others on underrated science fiction movies that didn’t get a fairing hearing in the previous list.

After considering all the information, I’ve decided to go with the following list at this time: The Ten Greatest Science Fiction Film Characters of All Time.

So readers: send me your top ten Greatest Science Fiction Film Characters of all time at starting NOW, and I’ll post them all week here on the blog. 

And then, at the end of the week, I’ll tally the votes up and provide reader results. 

One important caveat:  All characters in the number one slot will garner three votes, and all characters in the number two slot will count for two votes.  Spots 3 through 10 will each be worth one point.  So please be certain to present your lists accordingly! 

I’ll also stop accepting lists by Friday at midnight, so get yours in before them.

My own list of ten greatest science fiction film characters goes like this:

1.      Ellen Ripley (Alien, Aliens, Alien3, Alien Resurrection)

2.      Dr. Zaius (Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes)

3.      Superman (Superman, Superman II, Superman III, Superman IV)

4.      HAL 9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey; 2010: The Year We Make Contact)

5.      Darth Vader (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi)

6.      Sarah Connor (The Terminator, The Terminator 2: Judgment Day)

7.      George Taylor (Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes)

8.      The Oracle (The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions)

9.      E.T. in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

10.  The Frankenstein Monster (Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein)

As you can detect, my list mostly includes characters that appear in franchise films, and therefore on more than one occasion.  This presents a great opportunity to explore these human beings, aliens, and monsters in continuing detail.

A film series such as Alien allows a character such as Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) to be seen and understood in a variety of situations, and we get the full sense of the character’s humanity and strength because of this fact.  The same is true of Superman, and Sarah Connor, for example.

Ripley makes the cut as my favorite big screen character in part because she has endured so much, and done so with such strength and humanity.  We have seen her tested in a command position (when Dallas is off the ship in Alien), embrace parenthood (in Aliens) and reckon with the inevitability of death (Alien3)).  

We have seen her resolute, frightened, and horny, even.  We have witnessed Ripley dreams (of a normal life…) and her nightmares…and watched her make decisions of cosmic import; decisions for the common good.   She is more than a cardboard or two-dimensional character.  To me, she is a "real" person.

My favorite all-time screen villain is also on this list, in the number two slot: Dr. Zaius of Planet of the Apes. 

I always insist that, from a certain point of view, Dr. Zaius is a great hero to his people.  If one accepts the idea that man destroyed himself and nearly his entire planet, then suddenly all of Dr. Zaius’s reasons for hating man, and wishing him exterminated are valid. 

Yet oppositely, Zaius is a religious zealot who would rather hide the painful truth of his culture’s beginnings than face those facts in the open.   Bottom line: he is a multi-dimensional character and villain, but importantly, a being who believes that he is safeguarding his people from harm.    He isn't bad "just because."  Maurice Evans is amazing in that role too.    

Send me your lists!


  1. Agree completely on Dr. Zaius, always found him to be a sympathetic character.

    1. Hi Donald! Dr. Zaius is a great character, and a villain with real depth and intelligence, which makes him a rarity in movies.

    2. kinny6:48 PM

      I love how Ripley is number one! I would've been tempted to put Bishop in that list too! Alien, my favourite movie series!!

  2. Great idea, John. Let me think about it and I'll post or send you the list. Thanks.

    1. Hi Le0pard13!

      I'll look forward to your contribution. Can't wait to see which characters make the cut! :)

  3. John excellent cross-section of science-fiction film characters computer to orangutan to humans to aliens. Hal 9000 would make me include both R2D2 and C3PO. Albeit, maybe they are best for a top ten robot/computer/A.I. list in science-fiction films. Great list idea!


    1. Hi SGB!

      Thanks! I thought about R2D2 and C3PO too, but I felt like I couldn't include one without the other, and then I was taking up too much space! :)

      Limiting to ten is really, really difficult! Hope to see a list from SGB on this one, my friend...


  4. Great idea John. I'm looking forward to reading all the lists and cobbling my own together. :)

  5. Stephen J.10:08 AM

    Dude. Ya *gotta* have Han Solo in there. Or Flash Gordon, or Buck Rogers, or Captain Kirk -- an *adventurer*, dammit, a *hero!*

    1. Stephen,

      No offense, but I suspect from your comment that you must have a narrow definition of hero, since my list includes Ripley, Taylor, Sarah Connor and SUPERMAN for goodness sake.

      I don't "gotta" include anyone else. I'm happy with my list, and feel it's a good one.



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