Top 10 Smartest Decisions in Sci-Fi Movies

Written by Brett Cassano

Science fiction movies are loaded with brilliant characters to navigate a complex world, and these are some of the smartest things they've ever done! WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Smartest Decisions in Science Fiction Movies! But what will take the top spot on our list? Will it be everything Matt Damon does in the Martian, applying to mud to his body in Predator, or sabotaging the Death Star design in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? Watch to find out!

Watch on WatchMojo:

Big thanks to Jeremy Drafall for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: http://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Smartest+Decisions+in+Sci-Fi+Movies
These smart cookies make sci-fi pretty sweet! Welcome to and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Smartest Decisions in Sci-Fi movies.

For this list, we’re looking at some very clever big screen choices that make us smile and admire just how thoughtful sci-fi stories can be. Some of these choices are pivotal to characters’ stories, so a spoiler alert is now in effect.

#10: Adjusting the Spinning Spaceship’s Velocity to Be Able to Dock
“Interstellar” (2014)

In “Interstellar,” Matt Damon’s character, Dr. Mann, has a bad case of space-madness. He attempts to dock with the Endurance spacecraft, but damages the ship and dies. It’s then up to Cooper and Brand to continue the mission. With the assistance of robots CASE and TARS, Cooper attempts a dangerous docking maneuver as the Endurance spins violently out of control. This move is extremely risky, but it’s worth the risk. For these astronauts, every minute is precious and every move they make is for the future and survival of humanity.

#9: Manipulating Caleb
“ex_machina” (2015)

Meet Ava; a humanoid robot created by a mysterious, wealthy CEO named Nathan. Artificial intelligence in science fiction has rarely been as perceptive and seductive as Ava, making her all the more dangerous. Her testing partner, Caleb, interacts with her in an effort to understand just how intelligent she really is. As Ava’s creator explains later on, she’s essentially a rat in a maze. Without weapons, tools, or leverage to escape, she must learn to manipulate Caleb’s emotions using curiosity, paranoia, and sensuality. While Nathan gets drunk and tears up the dance floor, Caleb complies with Ava’s wishes, which allows her to escape. Her liberation is both frightening and awe-inspiring to behold. Clever girl.

#8: Calling the Dog Another Name
“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991)

After Sarah Connor’s first terrifying encounter with the Terminator, you might not think that a time-traveling killer robot would make such a good friend. But the reprogrammed T-800 sent by the future John Connor turns out to be just that. When present-day John Connor calls home to check on his foster parents, he immediately senses that something’s a little off. The T-800 takes over for John, suspecting that the shape shifting T-1000 is on the other end. The T-800 tricks the liquid metal menace by calling John’s pet dog by a fake name and it’s especially fun to see the older terminator scam the newer terminator. Sorry, T-1000, don’t cry over spilt milk.

#7: Using Stormtrooper Suits as Disguises
“Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” (1977)

Luke Skywalker’s very first adventure dazzled us with excitement, humor, and hope. Before long, Luke and his friends find themselves trapped onboard the dreaded Death Star. Luke and Han aren’t Jedi knights like Ben Kenobi, and they sure as heck can’t sneak around in their regular clothes. So they put on a couple of Stormtrooper outfits, allowing them to navigate the battle station under cover with the mighty Chewbacca as their pretend prisoner. Furthermore, Luke thinks up a daring plan to rescue the Princess from the evil clutches of Darth Vader. Although the plan go off without a hitch, the result is a delightful, swashbuckling escape that makes us want to cheer for the adventurous heroes.

#6: Propelling Himself with the Pod’s Air Pressure
“2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)

Don’t you just hate it when you get locked out of your spaceship by a rogue thinking-machine supercomputer? Well, it happened to Dave Bowman and he just had to think outside the pod for a change. You see, the Discovery One’s onboard computer HAL 9000 went a little funny in the head. In fear of being disconnected, it killed Dave’s co-pilot and locked Dave outside. Without his space helmet, Dave decides to hold his breath, use the air pressure to eject from the pod, and manually open the ship’s outer airlock. It’s a rather difficult and risky move, but Dave actually pulls it off and gets back inside. Checkmate, HAL.

#5: Building Bombs to Create a New ‘Kick’
“Inception” (2010)

Navigating through multiple levels of dreams is no simple feat. Luckily, Cobb and his band of thieves are professionals. They handle this kind of thing all the time… sort of. This time around, they’re putting an idea in someone’s head. When Cobb and company are several dreams deep into their inception task, it’s up to Arthur to furnish a kick that will wake everyone up. However, Arthur’s dream level is unexpectedly thrown into chaos and gravity takes a vacation. After fighting off some projections in zero gravity, Arthur creates an impromptu kick involving explosives. His quick thinking delivers the kick and ensures the inception is a success.

#4: Opening the Airlock
“Alien” (1979)

If there’s one thing we admire about Ellen Ripley, it’s that she’s one tough gal. Her quick-witted intelligence is matched only by her bravery. In her first tango with the slimy, terrifying space creature, Ripley finds herself stuck inside her escape shuttle. Without her flamethrower handy, Ripley slips into a spacesuit and quickly devises a way to eject the uninvited guest. The Alien has overstayed its welcome, to say the least. So Ripley musters her courage and learns to keep cool in face of terror. As the ravenous Alien is about to pounce, Ripley launches it out of the airlock, propelling it deep into the cold, vast abyss of outer space. Not bad - for a human, anyway.

#3: Applying Mud to His Body
“Predator” (1987)

After a mysterious, stealthy creature lurking in the jungle kills off his soldiers, Dutch finds himself in a classic, age-old conflict of predator and prey. Only this time, the predator is a crafty creature from another planet, and it picked the wrong man to hunt. Dutch tumbles down a waterfall and unexpectedly discovers the Predator’s weakness… it sees through a thermal-vision space helmet. By covering himself in cold mud, Dutch makes himself invisible from the heat sensor and he is able to set traps, craft weapons, and outwit the deadly alien hunter. The unforgettable confrontation between two larger than life characters is kicked off by Dutch’s epic war cry that echoes into the night.

#2: Basically Everything
“The Martian” (2015)

Matt Damon lost in space again? Deja vu… Anyhow, when Mark Watney is left stranded on Mars, he must learn to survive using his wits and scientific know-how. The Martian landscape is a lonely desert and science quickly becomes Mark’s best friend. Every decision he makes must take resources, time, and sustainability into account. Mark invents Martian techniques for growing food, staying warm, and communicating with NASA back on Earth. Like Robinson Crusoe, Mark adapts to the Martian environment and holds out long enough for a rescue. And he keeps himself in good spirits with his nerdy humor. The Martian is science fiction film that truly embraces science… and disco music.

Before we reveal our final pick, here are a few honorable mentions…
- Harnessing the Lightning Bolt
“Back to the Future” (1985)

- Killing Himself
“Looper” (2012)

- Luring Adult T-Rex Back on the Ship with Infant T-Rex
“The Lost World: Jurassic Park” (1997)

#1: Subtly Sabotaging the Ultimate Weapon’s Design
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (2016)

“Rogue One” was a great war movie that satisfied member-berries and told an awesome story that many would say can hold a candle to the original “Star Wars” trilogy. In it, scientist Galen Erso is forced by the Empire to build a gigantic space station capable of destroying entire planets. For his daughter Jyn’s protection, he pretends to conform to the Empire’s will. But before his death, he leaves behind the ultimate Deus ex machina… hiding a secret vulnerability deep within the Death Star’s core. It’s up to Jyn and the Rebellion to find this weakness and exploit it. The film also teaches us that if it weren’t for Galen, Luke Skywalker could never have saved the galaxy from the technological terror.