The only thing better than getting grossed out is getting cuted out. Nowhere is that more likely in our cinematic diet than in the world of science fiction. Though the scaly, creepy, and reptilian beasties get all the ink it’s the little guys who grab our hearts and don’t let go. Here are 8 of Sci-Fi’s cutest characters.
Cuteness is expected in a Disney film, but it takes a rare form in the alien Stitch from 2002’s Lilo and Stitch. Technically known as “626”, the little blue alien was genetically created as a weapon of sorts. His only goal is destruction, and the four-armed, antennaed monster is good at it. When he crash lands in Hawaii, however, he has relatively little to destroy and begins to focus on other things. In order to blend in, he retracts two of his arms, antenna, and spikes, and people think he’s a dog. He’s so dog-like that he gets adopted by a little girl, Lilo, at the animal shelter. It’s hard to deny his general cuteness, given his oversize eyes, button nose, and giant ears.
What’s particularly endearing about Stitch, more than his appearance is his love for Lilo pushing him to be better. He was created solely to destroy, yet for her, he is willing to change the very fabric of his being. When you have a character who’s generally a bit chaotic, make him look like a blue koala-bulldog hybrid, and attach him to a precocious child, it’s going to be cute. Stitch is one adorable alien, whatever his form may be. [Danielle Ryan]
The sequel to Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is an exercise in abject insanity. In the midst of a tale about the afterlife, the Grim Reaper, and evil robot impersonators, there are two little alien inventors named Station. These little dudes are super smart and super adorable. They can only communicate by saying their name (“Station!”) but they have a few surprises up their sleeve. Well, if they had sleeves.
Not only are they able to create robot versions of Bill & Ted but they can also join together to create one giant alien (also named Station). Additionally, Station’s voice is provided by Frank Welker, the king of creature voices. When you want the best, you call Welker.
Station is both awesome and cuddly, even if he looks like the love child of E.T. and Snuffleupagus. Station! [Drew Dietsch]
Flight of the Navigator is filled with a gallery of weird aliens and intergalactic creatures. The film’s story centers on a kid who unexpectedly finds himself aboard a sentient spaceship. David is transported into the future and only wants to find a way back home to the year 1978. While aboard the ship controlled by an intelligence called MAX, he is shown a large collection of diverse aliens that range from slimy slug monsters to giant screeching eyeballs.
The little Puckmarin from the planet Binpuka Minor is by far the cutest little dude of the lot. This alien hangs upside-down like a fruit bat and munches on red berries the size of its head. The creature easily fits in the palm of the average human hand and David quickly learns that the little guy is not harmful and loves being petted like a small kitten.
Disney went pretty far out with this film and the alien puppets were just one example of how Flight of the Navigator is a standout original film. The Puckmarin is a likable character which makes his somber backstory that much more harrowing. According to MAX he is the last of his kind. That just makes it all the better when David makes it home and we realize that Puckmarin is right there with him. It’s a happy ending for a cute little dude who had nowhere else to go. [Andrew Hawkins]
He finds things. He fixes things. Little Oliver is the son of District 9‘s leading Prawn, Christopher Johnson and he is adorable. He asks questions. He tries to learn about the world from his father. The little alien has a bright future ahead of him and he is a rare spot of optimism and levity in a film bursting at the seams with strife and grue. Every scene he’s in is a delight and when he sits down while his father is interrogated, his little legs and mannerisms take cute to a whole other level. [Nick Nunziata]
Agent J (Will Smith) is still learning the ropes when he and his partner roll up on Redgick. Redgick looks unassuming enough — some white dude driving a green station wagon. But Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) knows the truth about him: Redgick ain’t one of us.
We pan right to find Mrs. Redgick in the back seat. She’s pregnant, and she’s in labor. DEEP in labor. While K deals with Redgick’s violation, the still-very-green Agent J has to deal with the newborn alien making its way out of Mrs. Redgick. Needless to say, his years on the NYPD never prepared him for this sticky bundle of joy.
Makeup artist and special effects wizard Rick Baker won an Oscar for his work on Men in Black. He deserved it. Hell, he deserved two Oscars for that movie. And I bet he would’ve won that second one if they put this little sucker’s face on the “For Your Consideration” campaign! [Travis Newton]
It’s not often that a robot can express more emotion or heart than most people. Wall-E does that using only a few choice words and some very expressive eyes. In the eponymous Pixar movie, the character of Wall-E is initially one of the lone inhabitants of Earth. Humans have abandoned the planet due to pollution, and the only beings left behind are trash compactor robots to clean up the planet so humans could come back. Wall-E is the last one running, and over the years has slowly gained sentience.
Pixar does an amazing job allowing this character to be lively and expressive with a minimum of dialogue. A big portion of that comes from the character designers and animators, which have his eyes carry the weight of his facial gestures. His subtle movements and mannerisms convey a soul, one that wants to be with the one being in the universe that he connects with. Thankfully the little guy gets what he wishes for in the end. [Bob Aquavia]
The Tachikoma are mechs from the anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. They are the main combat vehicles of Section 9, the cyperpunk special Ops unit. Despite being as large as a minivan and looking like giant blue spiders, the Tachikoma are the main source of cuteness in the series. Where the heroes are all adult soldiers and the plotlines are serious philosophical naval gazing, the Tachikoma are the odd ones out. They are voiced by female actresses and talk like little girls. With their advanced AIs they ponder the nature of reality and steadily during the course of the series gain sentience.
The Tachikoma are also featured in the post-episode jokes “Tachikoma Days” where they go on little comedic adventures. There is something to be said for extra cuteness when its an advanced military-grade spider-tank blushing or lifting its little front arms up in celebration. [Eric Fuchs]
*batteries not included was part of the wave of 80’s movies and tv shows that had family-friendly supernatural or science-fiction elements. Originally planned as part of the anthology series Amazing Stories, producer Steven Spielberg felt it was good enough to stand on its own and helped make it into a movie. The story centers around a group of people living in a New York apartment building that’s under threat from developers. Their solution comes in the form of tiny sentient spacecraft nicknamed The Fix-Its.
One of the characters in the movie names them that because, well, that’s what they do. These tiny creatures repair and restore things for the inhabitants: electronics, furniture, even the restaurant on the ground floor. Over the course of the movie, this assistance helps the residents overcome their various issues and come together to confront the developers. The design of the little robots was adorable, as were their mannerisms. I remember watching this movie as a kid and it’s stuck with me to this day. [Bob Aquavia]
Johnny Five is so dang likable. Sure, he’s made out of metal and fiber optics but he’s got more heart and soul than most humans. He cares about his friends, he tries to do the right thing, he makes corny jokes left and right – he’s like the best friend you never knew you wanted.
A lot of people rag on Johnny Five because the film he appears in, Short Circuit, isn’t particularly good. That’s true, it’s got more problems than a high school math exam. Fisher Stevens’s character alone is enough to make you shake your head for hours. But there’s something so adorable about Five. It’s his attitude, his can-do spirit, his ability to shoot lasers out of his eyes – he’s just a fun guy.
The truth of the matter is that Short Circuit isn’t a great movie by any stretch of the imagination. Yet it would be a near trainwreck without Johnny Five. It’s impossible to not root him on, even if the movie around him is a bit of a mess. [Brandon Marcus]