10 Best Non-Human Characters In Movies

The best non-human characters in movies include Jaws, Gizmo, E.T., and HAL 9000.

By Rick Gonzales | Updated

Great movies aren’t always led by human characters. There are plenty of examples of films whose non-human characters have made huge impacts in the movie and many times have become more memorable than their human counterparts. Franchises like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and even Gremlins have proved this time and time again. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 10 Best Non-Human Characters in Movies. While they are all memorable, they are not presented in any particular order.


1. Bruce – Jaws (1975)

best non-human characters

His name was Bruce, and he was named after legendary director Steven Spielberg’s lawyer at the time, Bruce Ramer. The Bruce we are referring to, though, is the one not seen too often in the 1975 thriller that made everyone scared to get into the ocean, Jaws.

Bruce, who now lives in the Universal Studios Backlot Tour, was a temperamental mechanical shark, who worked when he wanted to, which was not often at all.

The fact that Bruce continued to break down in the ocean actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Spielberg and the rest of the cast of Jaws, which included Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, and Lorraine Gary.

Bruce was built back in the early to mid-1970s, so the technology was far from what we see today. The end result was that the less one saw of the shark, the better.

It truly ramped up the tension when Bruce’s dorsal fin popped out of the water and in those rare occurrences when Bruce “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” the Shark did rise from the depths, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect, and terrifying.

2. ET – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

best non-human characters

One would think that with all of the troubles Steven Spielberg had with Bruce the Shark in Jaws, he’d avoid filming movies that included non-human, mechanical characters. Thankfully he decided to move forward with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and it resulted in the creation of one of the most memorable non-human movie characters ever to appear on the big screen.

The story followed the little alien E.T., who is left on Earth after government vehicles chase away his mothership. E.T. then finds himself hiding away near the home of the Taylors, mom Mary (Dee Wallace), Elliott (Henry Thomas), Michael (Robert MacNaughton), and Gertie (Drew Barrymore). They accept him into their home, then try to find a way to get E.T. back to his mothership before he perishes.

The character of E.T. has always been a fan favorite and thankfully electronics had come a long way since Spielberg first dealt with them in Jaws.

3. Gollum – The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)

best non-human characters

When fans first caught a glimpse of Gollum, it truly was just that, a glimpse. The was briefly seen in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings but became a central figure in both The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

As with many of the non-human characters we see today, Gollum is CGI generated. He is voiced and performed by Andy Serkis, who is well-known for his motion capture performances.

Gollum himself is both a funny and tragic character. We see two sides of Gollum’s personality at work, one being the childlike Sméagol and the other the extremely evil Gollum.

4. Yoda – Star Wars Franchise (1980-2019)

best non-human characters

Who knew? First appearing in the 1980 smash hit Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda had the benefit of having Frank Oz providing the voice for Yoda after Muppets creator Jim Henson had to turn the part down.

Oz ended up voicing Yoda in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, and Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi. He also returned in a cameo role as Yoda in 2019’s Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker.

From the way he speaks to the way he can fight, there isn’t much to not love about Yoda. He appears on the scene as Luke Skywalker’s mentor and trainer in everything Force-related and is easily one of the 10 best non-human characters.

5. King Kong – King Kong (1933)

best non-human characters

The original King Kong was first seen in the 1933 film starring Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, and Bruce Cabot. The film tells the story of a group of moviemakers who are looking to head to an exotic location for a new project.

As the crew venture on the ship, Venture, filmmaker Carl Denham (Armstrong) reveals that they are actually heading to Skull Island so he can try to catch a glimpse of Kong. They get much more than they bargained for when they arrive.

Kong was made decades before true special effects were invented, but his appearance was also hailed for its groundbreaking use of stop-motion animation, miniatures, rear projection, and matte painting. Kong was a terrifying gigantic gorilla who at first terrorizes the crew, kidnapping Fay Wray’s Ann Darrow.

When Kong is finally caught and brought back to New York City to be shown off like he is in a zoo, Kong goes from terrorized to terrorizer. We all know this story ends, “…it was beauty killed the beast.” He is still a favorite, even when he goes up against Godzilla.

6. Alien – Alien Franchise (1979-2017)

best non-human characters

It is hard to deny the fact that Alien (in all shapes and forms throughout the Alien franchise) is one of the 10 best non-human characters in movies.

From the first time we saw it bursting out of Kane’s chest in the original 1979 sci-fi horror film, we fell in love with the little bugger. Then when it grew to its terrifying size in the same film, the love grew even more intense as the Alien took no prisoners.

Over the years, as the franchise expanded, the look of the Alien did as well. Sometimes the alien would appear large, sometimes smaller, and sometimes it would be seen inside as in Alien 3 Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) discovers she has an alien queen growing inside her. Regardless of how they are presented, even when they fought against the Predator, they are still on the list of the 10 best non-human characters in movies.

7. Gizmo – Gremlins (1984)

best non-human characters

Nothing wrong with cute and cuddly, is there? You can count Gizmo as one of the 10 best non-human characters in movies. Gizmo is a mogwai, a furry little creature who lives by rules: don’t expose it to sunlight, don’t let it come in contact with water, and whatever you do, do not feed a mogwai after midnight. Bad things can happen, trust us.

Gremlins stars Zach Galligan as Billy, the eventual owner of Gizmo, and Phoebe Cates as his girlfriend, Kate. Together they have to end off a hoard of Gremlins after Gizmo gets accidentally doused with water. Just as things look truly bad for everyone involved, Gizmo arrives to save the day.

8. T-800 – Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

best non-human characters

Well, he wasn’t lying when he said, “I’ll be back.” These words were uttered by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1984 original, The Terminator. Seven years later, Arnie lived up to his word when he returned as the T-800 in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

While fans had every reason to not like his character in the first brilliant movie, they had just as many reasons to change their minds in the second.

James Cameron brought Arnie back for the sequel, this time though giving fans something to cheer for. Instead of being the bad Terminator, Arnie’s T-800 returns to protect a young John Connor from a new Terminator, the T-1000, who is much better built than Arnie’s version. Unable to overpower the T-1000, Arnie must come up with new ways to fight if he is to save young John and himself from destruction.

9. Predator – Predator Franchise (1987-2018)

best non-human characters

Predator is another non-human character that has wormed its way into the hearts of movie-going audiences. He first cloaked onto the screen in the 1987 horror thriller Predator, a film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Since that time, Predator has seen four more films (Predator 2, Predators, The Predator, and Prey) along with two more films in the Alien crossover series.

There was no love lost between the audience and Predator. It was always an apex predator, hunting humans for game, so finding sympathy for the ugly being was not going to happen.

The first predator was designed by effects guru Stan Winston, with a little bit of help from James Cameron, who noted on a flight with Winston that he had always wanted to see a creature with mandibles. This is how Winston came up with his final design for the creature.

10. HAL 9000 – 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

best non-human characters

Sometimes the best non-human truly isn’t anything but a voice. This is the case with HAL 9000, the artificially intelligent supercomputer in 1968s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The 1968 Stanley Kubrick classic stars Keir Dullea as Dr. David Bowman, an astronaut who, along with his crew, is on their way to Jupiter to investigate an alien monolith. Steering them on their journey is HAL, the all-seeing computer.

As time goes on, Dave and the crew begin to discover that HAL is beginning to take on a more human-like personality. He is starting to think for himself and instead of following the orders from Dave, HAL is starting to do things his own way.

This complicates matters for Dave as he eventually finds himself facing off against a computer that has turned against his human crew.

This is the way.

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