Humanely inhuman
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Photos: Almost human characters

Humanely inhuman
Quite often, characters who aren’t human are able to show us the most about humanity. Whether it’s because they strive to be human, understand humans, or just be taken seriously as real and equal entities, their actions can spotlight the most outstanding qualities that our mostly Earthbound race has to offer. Here are 10 characters/movies that bring this to the surface:

Astro Boy

Situation: Astro Boy, made in the image of his creator’s son, struggles early to fit into that mold and memory.

A lesson in humanity: Sometimes you leave to find yourself. Astro Boy runs away, joining a group of rowdy kids that help him learn about fitting in and being yourself. (Summit Entertainment)
Situation: Geppetto’s wooden puppet was told he could only be a real boy if he proved himself to be “brave, truthful and unselfish.”

A lesson in humanity: The old standby: Follow your heart. Pinocchio eventually wises up and listens to his conscience despite being surrounded by bad influences. His reward? He is finally a real boy. (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment)
‘I, Robot’
Situation: A supercomputer leads group of robots, mostly used as slave labor, to rebel against the human race for its own good.

A lesson in humanity: One of the robots, Sonny, goes against its own programming and the robot majority to help humanity and champion the cause of robots. Individualism and choice are prized possessions. (Digital Domain / Twentieth Century Fox)
Situation: Replicants, bioengineered beings, become illegal on Earth after a bloody mutiny by a certain model.

A lesson in humanity: Emotional maturity is usually good. A four-year lifespan was built into replicants so that they can’t get life experience, which helps develop emotions, which led to the mutiny. (Kobal Collection/LADD Company/Warner Bros)
Situation: Data is an android whose positronic brain is great, but he’s constantly trying to understand human behavior

A lesson in humanity: Too much emotion can be bad. Data’s journey is about finding logic in humanity and human emotions. When he is able to unlock his own -- having not experienced them -- it is overwhelming, and even makes it so that he is easily manipulated. (Elliott Marks / Paramount Pictures)
Ariel | ‘The Little Mermaid’
Situation: Ariel lives under the sea, but longs to live on the land to be with a prince she falls in love with. She makes a deal with witch Ursula who has an evil plot all her own. In the end, Ariel’s father sacrifices himself for the sake of his daughter.

A lesson in humanity: It was only through Ariel’s father’s unselfish act that Ariel’s dream was realized, proving that compassion is one of the keys to success. (Walt Disney Archives / Disney)
Situation: A princess of the sea desires to be a human girl after she falls in love with a little boy.

A lesson in humanity: Ponyo refused to live underwater with her father and sisters, willing herself to become something that she was not (a little girl) so that she could be with the one she loved (Sosuke). (Nibariki¿GNDHDDT / Disney)
David | ‘A.I.’
Situation: David, an android created to resemble a human child and “feel” love for its human owners, waits 2,000 years to become a real boy.

A lesson in humanity: Though it may have seemed that David desired to be a real boy, the more important message was that he desired to be loved by his mother. He waited 2,000 years just to get that feeling. (David James / Warner Bros./DreamWorks)
Situation: The Data Analyzing Robotic Youth Lifeform, an experimental super soldier in the guise of a 10-year-old boy, was freed by his creator and ended up living with foster parents until the government reacquired him.

A lesson in humanity: When asked about a situation in baseball when he struck out on purpose to allow his foster mom to dote on him, Daryl said, “Under certain conditions [relating with others], error was more efficient than maximum performance.” (Paramount Pictures)
Situation: A garbage robot led a solitary existence on a planet ... until he was discovered by others.

A lesson in humanity: He was a robot, but the feelings of isolation, routine, curiosity and a need to connect pushed him to go beyond anything the little trash compactor had experienced on his planet. (Disney/PIXAR)