We’re certain that most of our readers would agree that science fiction has produced some of the most memorable characters in film history. These individuals take TV shows and movies to the next level, enriching our lives with their bravery and, in some cases, shocking us with their cruelty. For all they’ve done for us, we’ve decided to mention the top sci-fi characters that steal the show in every scene. Our screens would look empty without these individuals.
In fact, if you ask us, one of the main reasons we love science fiction is because there’s no shortage of strong, intelligent, and badass characters. Sometimes they are kicking around the galaxy in search of a planet that could replace Earth. Other times they are chasing replicants around a dystopian future Los Angeles of 2019. Retiring bioengineered humanoids could become a thing soon, people! So, watch carefully what these characters are doing!
Our favorite science fiction protagonists often have what it takes to wield Phasers or PKD Blasters like nobody’s business. They are also brave enough to lead a desperate fleet of humans across space. And sometimes the protagonist comes in the form of a computer which will do what it takes to ensure that a mission is completed successfully. Indeed, these characters are unstoppable!
In this article, we’ll take a look at the top sci-fi characters of all time!
HAL 9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey)
What better way to start our list than with a fictional artificial intelligence character known as HAL 9000. Indeed, the main antagonist in 2001: A Space Odyssey is difficult to forget. HAL 9000 is a sentient computer with human personality which controls most of spacecraft Discovery One’s operations. If we’re being honest, we wouldn’t want to be present in a ship this computer controls!
What’s more, HAL 9000 is one of sci-fi’s most notorious villains, lacking empathy and care for its crew members. On the other hand, the computer deserves our admiration. It is capable of speech, art appreciation, automated reasoning, spacecraft piloting, and even playing chess. Unfortunately for Dr. David Bowman and Dr. Frank Poole, HAL 9000 is no stranger to lip reading either.
This sentient computer deserves to be named with other top sci-fi characters because it redefined our understanding of a villain. We now know that a villain doesn’t need to be a human being — a machine would do just fine.
Let’s take a look at other greatest sci-fi protagonists!
Sarah Connor (The Terminator)
We love a genre that introduces strong female characters! Science fiction has certainly shown that ladies are more than capable of taking on dangerous enemies any day. In fact, they do so with grace and bravery that leave us on the edge of our seat. One of them is certainly Sarah Connor, a fictional character played by Linda Hamilton in the Terminator franchise.
In the first movie, we meet a young Sarah who blossoms before our eyes. In the beginning, she is a shy damsel in distress with small dreams. However, throughout the franchise, she develops into a tough as nails protagonist who will stop at nothing to protect her child. In fact, Sarah becomes a hardened warrior with her own stock of heavy artillery. What a charming woman, eh?
Perhaps Arnold Schwarzenegger is people’s first association with The Terminator, but it is Linda Hamilton’s portrayal of Connor that steals the show. Sarah is so haunted by what she knows that there’s a risk that she might become as ruthless as the cyborgs.
With her attitude, devotion and badassery, Sarah is one of the top sci-fi characters.
Captain James T. Kirk (Star Trek)
Star Trek is one of those science fiction franchises that withstand the test of time. Every new generation discovers Star Trek: The Original Series and gets sucked into the world of the starship USS Enterprise. And most of them notice the brilliant character of Captain James T. Kirk. In fact, he is arguably the most memorable Star Trek protagonist.
Played by William Shatner, Kirk leads his crew members as they explore new worlds, new civilizations, and reach places no other person has reached before. James is everything you would want to see in a sci-fi movie and TV show. He is charming and charismatic — a true leader for his crew. Of course, sometimes he needs the help of Spock and Leonard McCoy who act as his logical sounding boards. But it’s not that easy to run a spaceship!
His decisions and love of the starship make him one of the top sci-fi characters!
Throughout the franchise, the character of Captain James T. Kirk grows, becoming one of the most loved protagonists in Star Trek. Who doesn’t like a character that battles a mid-life crisis and fights to regain control of the Enterprise?!
Ellen Ripley (Alien)
A movie promoted with a tagline “In space, no one can hear you scream” deserves all the attention you can devote to it. Once you watch it, you discover just how mesmerizing this Ridley Scott masterpiece is. This is, in part, because of the character of Ellen Ripley who shows us what a true heroine can do in the science fiction world. And that’s why she’s on our list next to other top sci-fi characters!
Which traits should a sci-fi character possess to be heralded as truly great and epic? Bravery? Leadership? Wit? Tenderness? Resourcefulness? Compassion? Ideally, they should have all of these traits. However, it’s rare to see a protagonist who embodies all of them. Most of them display two or three of these qualities. Not Ellen Ripley, though. Alien’s Ellen Ripley has them all.
Ripley is not depicted as heroes and heroines usually are. We often meet protagonists who are stoic and virtuous, but Ripley is the real thing. She is flawed and human, just like all of us. When we first meet her in Alien, she’s not particularly likable. Ripley is a crew member on the space tug Nostromo. Yes, she’s not even in charge! However, she isn’t afraid to speak her mind and stand up to her captain. Now, that’s what catches our attention!
Over the course of the movie, we come to like Ripley who repeatedly encounters a creature from another world. She is the only character who is capable of fighting the alien, taking our breath away! Ripley is certainly one of the top sci-fi characters. She deserves this recognition because of all the hell she goes through in Alien.
Darth Vader (Star Wars)
More often than not, it’s not the bad guy that becomes a fan favorite. However, everything is possible in science fiction. In this genre, the villain can easily turn into the most loved character. In fact, we can’t even imagine a specific movie or TV show without them. Star Wars has that villain who is also one of the top sci-fi characters of all time. We’re talking about Darth Vader, of course.
No other sci-fi villain causes so much fear in the hearts of their enemies as much as Darth Vader does. Originally a slave on Tatooine, he rises through the ranks to become one of the main characters in Star Wars. Darth Vader is the commander of the Imperial Military, lured to the dark side of the Force. However, he shows character development throughout the Star Wars franchise.
His journey back from darkness certainly solidifies his status as one of the top sci-fi characters.