When Summer Glau's Terminator started ballet dancing for no particular reason in a recent episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, it totally made sense: She's just another android/robot who wants to be human. Like the guy in this classic Johnnie Walker Scotch ad. It's like the fourth rule of robotics: The more autistic and socially clueless an android is, the more he/she/it will crave humanity. Click through to see clips of the greatest Pinnochio-bot of all time, plus a gallery.
There have been so many Pinnochio-bots in science fiction: Robin Williams in Bicentennial Man, Haley Joel Osment in A.I., Chip in Not Quite Human, Annalee in Alien: Resurrection, NDR-113 from The Positronic Man by Asimov and Silverberg, and Roy Batty (sort of) Blade Runner.But most people would automatically say Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation is the purest expression of the Pinnochio-bot mystique. After all, he spent seven TV seasons and four movies exploring humanity over and over again. And his quest took him through comedy lessons with Joe Piscobo (the zen master of comedy), painting, Shakespeare plays and Gilbert & Sullivan comic operas. He probably tried to be a male stripper in between episodes.
But really Data is just a knock-off of the original wannabe human, Questor from The Questor Tapes, Gene Rodenberry's 1974 TV movie. Yet another one of Gene Rodenberry's failed TV series ideas after Star Trek, Questor is about an android who's built by a group of scientists using parts and plans from a mysterious genius Dr. Emil Vaslovik, who's gone missing. The android is a roaring (well, intoning) success, with one problem — his programming is incomplete and he doesn't develop emotions. So Questor goes in search of Vaslovik.
Various people are searching for Questor, and B.J. Honeycutt gets accused of having stolen the android. At one point, B.J. tries to stop Questor, who almost kills him to make his escape. But then Questor realizes that killing is wrong. Yay!
Questor's creator, Vaslovik, who turns out to be a super-advanced android himself, the penultimate model in a long line sent before the dawn of humanity to guide us in the proper course of development, blah blah blah. Vaslovik dies, but not before entrusting Questor to B.J. Honeycutt from M.A.S.H., who promises to teach Questor human feelings: Can you just imagine the weekly episodes, where B.J. teaches Questor another important lesson every week? Actually, you can, because it would have looked a lot like the Data-centric episodes of ST:TNG.