Created By: GiantSpaceChinchilla on February 18, 2013 Last Edited By: GiantSpaceChinchilla on April 6, 2014
Troped

Sapient Tank

A sapient robotic ground fighting vehicle

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Other possible names: Sentient Tank, Intelegent Fighting Vehicle, Mecha Battle Tank, Think Tank, Brain Tank, Artificialy Intelegent Ground Combat Vehicle, Instant Soldier, Treaded Troops, Main Battle Trooper, Armoured Personea, Self Propelled Protagonist, Automated Tank, Calculator Cavalry, Computerized Cavalry, Talking Tank, Artificially Intelligent Armor, Armored AI, Artificially Intelligent Attack Vehicle, etc.

What happens when you add Tank Goodness with Instant A.I., Just Add Water? An awesome soldier with firepower, mobility, and armor thatís what. Occupying the hostile grey land between Attack Drone and Androids (or Gynoids) they tend to fight hard for truth, justice, and the meat-bag way. Also have a tendency to be protagonist.

For additional flavor some such tanks are Haunted Technology possessed by ghosts, demons, or sprits instead of sprites, desktops, or gears

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Ghost in the Shell. Tachikoma automated tankettes and Uchikomas.
  • A Magitek version is present in Slayers REVOLUTION. the "magic tanks" are apparently an offshoot of the Zanaffar Armor artifact created from animals, and thus do not need crew.
  • Bogey in The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye is a robotic brain installed in a desert-trekking tank.
  • Sir Cyrano de Bergerac in Sisters of Wellber is a talking, sentient tank that is probably powered by some kind of magic.
  • Those Who Hunt Elves had a tank that was haunted by the spirit of a cat as the team pet after their Summon Everyman Hero plot ran out of gas and needed something supernatural to keep the tank running.

Comic Books
  • Back in the propaganda days of DC comics, there were a group of World War 2 veterans who traveled around in a tank haunted by the spirit of a famous general who gave them cryptic advice. Their vehicle was called The Haunted Tank.

Film
  • Terminator 2 Judgment Day. They can be seen hunting human soldiers in the beginning of the movie.
  • The Decepticon Devastator in the first Transformers who turned into a tank.
  • BIONICLE. Subverted with the Skopio, it may look like a sentient scorpion tank, but it was actually just a giant scorpion modified to be like a tank by the Great Beings.
  • The Separatist tanks from 'Star Wars'' are either this or crewed by robots. Basically, everything that looks more or less like a vehicle is crewed, and stuff that looks like giant mechanical spiders or big roller-wheel thingies are AI-controlled big honking droids.

Literature
  • Bolo: the titular warrior poets.
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Marvin provokes a massive but simple-minded robot-tank that's standing on a bridge connecting two high office towers into showing off it's destructive arsenal, and the drone promptly shoots the bridge supports, resulting in it falling down and getting smashed.
  • In Charles Stross's novel Glasshouse, the protagonist recalls being converted into one of these during the wars he fought.

Live-Action TV
  • One That Mitchell and Webb Look sketch features a giant robotic scorpion created by Doctor Death (which, it turns out, he sincerely intended for peaceful purposes).

Tabletop Games
  • Steve Jackson Games
    • GURPS Reign of Steel, which was based on the Terminator films. The Zonemind AIs have a number of weapons available to them, such as the XAU-03 "Juggernaut" (a robot battle tank armed with a particle beam cannon). It has a neural net computer brain.
    • OGRE is all about giant cybertanks fighting against a mass of more conventional combat vehicles.
  • Paranoia has warbots and combots, all with their own bot brains.
  • Shadowrun has ground attack drones of various sorts, some of which are capable of attacking on their own.
  • Some armored vehicles in Warhammer 40,000 are known to be capable of acting on their own. Whether the "machine spirit" is an Artificial Intelligence or an actual spirit is another question entirely.
  • Aftermath! Book 3 The World of the Aftermath. One of the examples of robot-controlled devices is a Cybernetic Tank, an advanced version of which has Artificial Intelligence.

Toys
  • All Transformers with a tank-based alt-mode. More often than not, they're evil Decepticons and tend to be The Brute, but there are still many exceptions. Most notably, Megatron is often depicted as tank, though he changes alt-modes very frequently.

Video Games
  • Tiny Tank. The cute if deadly tank that you control.
  • Star Warrior. One of the opponents you can run into is the Robotank, a smaller, A.I. controlled version of the Heavy Tank.
  • Team Fortress 2, Specifically Mann Vs. Machine. There are giants as well as actual tanks, all of which have ridiculous amounts of health.
  • Most of the major bosses in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker are AI weapons with no pilot. Two of them, the Pupa and the Chrysalis would qualify as tanks, albeit one is closer to a Hover Tank and the other a Base on Wheels.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2. In the expansions the Mastermind tank is this, just that it controls enemy units. It is mentioned that it is a brain on wheels.

Web Original
  • Red vs. Blue has Sheila, a very nice and sweet sentient AI who just happens to be installed in a badass tank, and considers herself just as "human" as the actual human soldiers on the teams. One of the soldiers becomes especially fond of her and ends up being the one who rides around in her the most.
  • The SCP Foundation has SCP-802, a tank that patrols a small region and attacks any who come near it, and SCP-516, a nonviolent (until pressed) tank.

Western Animation
  • Tankor, the dim-witted tank Vehicon from Beast Machines, at least until Rhinox's personality resurfaces again.


Community Feedback Replies: 55
  • February 18, 2013
    spacemarine50
    Think tank is a well known term, but it means something totally different: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Think_tank
  • February 19, 2013
    Chernoskill
    Literature

    In The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, Marvin provokes a massive but simple-minded robot-tank that's standing on a bridge connecting two high office towers into showing off it's destructive arsenal, and the drone promptly shoots the bridge supports, resulting in it falling down and getting smashed.
  • February 19, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
    • Terminator 2 Judgment Day. Skynet has both flying and ground-based versions of this. They can be seen hunting human soldiers in the beginning of the movie.

    Tabletop Games
    • GURPS Reign of Steel, which was based on the Terminator films. The Zonemind AIs have a number of weapons available to them, such as the XAU-03 "Juggernaut" (a robot battle tank armed with a particle beam cannon) and the KAU-04 "Vulture" (an attack VTOL craft). Both have neural net computer brains.
    • Paranoia has warbots and combots, all with their own bot brains.
    • Shadowrun has attack drones of various sorts, some of which are capable of attacking on their own.

    Video Games
    • Star Warrior. One of the opponents you can run into is the Robotank, a smaller, AI controlled version of the Heavy Tank.
  • February 19, 2013
    Chernoskill
    Tabletop Games

    Steve Jackson Games' OGRE is all about giant cybertanks fighting against a mass of more conventional combat vehicles.
  • February 19, 2013
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    Would allowing robot helicopters or airplanes be diluting the trope? If I expanded the definition it would need a non-pun name, no?
  • February 19, 2013
    Tallens
    Think Tank has got to go, it'll only confuse people who are looking for something about actual think tanks. Sentient Tank would be more appropriate for what we're dealing with here.
  • February 19, 2013
    StarSword
    Tabletop Games:
  • February 20, 2013
    DRCEQ
    Technically, the Tachikomas are Spider Tanks and even called "Think Tanks" in the series due to their adaptive and learning A Is.
  • February 20, 2013
    aurora369
    A Magi Tek version is present in Slayers REVOLUTION: the "magic tanks" are apparently an offshoot of the Zanaffar Armor artifact created from animals, and thus do not need crew.
  • February 21, 2013
    Tallens
    • The Decepticon Devastator in the first Transformers who turned into a tank.
  • February 21, 2013
    autotrope
    Video Games Team Fortress 2, specifically Mann Vs. Machine. There are giants as well as actual tanks, all of which have ridiculous amounts of health.
  • February 21, 2013
    KZN02
    BIONICLE: Subverted with the Skopio, it may look like a sentient scorpion tank, but it was actually just a giant scorpion modified to be like a tank by the Great Beings.
  • February 21, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    If you want to limit this to combat vehicles with strong AI, don't use Robot Tank. It'll just lead to misuse.
  • February 22, 2013
    StarSword
  • March 5, 2013
    aurora369
    The Separatist tanks from Star Wars are either this or crewed by robots. Basically, everything that looks more or less like a vehicle is crewed, and stuff that looks like giant mechanical spiders or big roller-wheel thingies are AI-controlled big honking droids.
  • March 5, 2013
    Bisected8
    • One That Mitchell And Webb Look sketch features a giant robotic scorpion created by Doctor Death (which, it turns out, he sincerely intended for peaceful purposes).
  • Not sure if this counts or not, but... Film
    • Twice Upon A Time: One of Synonamess Botch's flunkies is Ibor, a robot gorilla that can project video, either clips from actual movies and TV shows, or surveillance footage of the protagonists (or other characters) that Botch is spying on.
  • March 6, 2013
    dakta
    Doesn't count.
  • March 6, 2013
    Tallens
    I still think Sentient Tank works the best.
  • March 10, 2013
    sgamer82
  • March 11, 2013
    Koveras
    • Sir Cyrano de Bergerac in Sisters Of Wellber is a talking, sentient tank that is probably powered by some kind of magic.
  • March 11, 2013
    ArkadyDarell
    Web Animation
    • Red Vs Blue has Sheila, a very nice and sweet sentient AI who just happens to be installed in a badass tank, and considers herself just as "human" as the actual human soldiers on the teams. One of the soldiers becomes especially fond of her and ends up being the one who rides around in her the most.
  • March 11, 2013
    Chernoskill
    Somehow I think that this has become Up For Grabs.
  • March 12, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ Nah, it's just been two days since the OP last updated. You can see that in the YKTTW history...
  • March 12, 2013
    Chernoskill
    ^ Okay then! :) I was getting worried because I couldn't find my OGRE example in the OP :)
  • March 12, 2013
    Koveras
    I'm waiting for my example to be added, too. But if you're so anxious, you're technically allowed to add your example to write-up yourself. Just add a comment saying what you changed if you want to be nice to the OP.
  • March 13, 2013
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    OGRE is under steve jackson games

    I'll Addsgamer82, Koveras, and arkadydarell's examples presently.
  • March 13, 2013
    MarqFJA
    Why make Sapient Tank before Sapient Vehicle?
  • March 13, 2013
    AnimeGIF
    Would a "haunted tank" be in the same trope?

    Back in the propaganda days of DC comics, there were a group of world war veterans who traveled around in a tank haunted by the spirit of a famous general who gave them cryptic advice in addition to being a tank.

    "Sapient" simply means self aware, so there's nothing in the category to directly distinguish a tank with an A.I. from a tank with a "soul" or other mind. If we keep it as is, we can include Older Than You Think.

    Also, Those Who Hunt Elves had a tank that was haunted by the spirit of a cat as the team pet after their Summon Everyman Hero plot ran out of gas and needed something supernatural to keep the tank running.
  • March 14, 2013
    Koveras
    Hatted.
  • March 15, 2013
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    ^^^ Perhaps it's just my own bias but
    1. Instant AI Just Add Water could be anything. a helicopter. a toaster. a max taticool longarm.
    2. Of the various types of robotic characters I've come across in fiction protagonist, side character, honorable mention etc. there seems to be a previlance of tanks.
    3. I did ask about expanding.

    ^^ Eh why not.

    ^ neat.
  • March 18, 2013
    DracMonster
  • March 18, 2013
    DanielCase
    Literature:

    • In Charles Stross's [[Accelerando|Glasshouse]] the protagonist recalls being converted into one of these during the wars he fought.
  • July 26, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Aftermath! Book 3 The World of the Aftermath. One of the examples of robot-controlled devices is a Cybernetic Tank, an advanced version of which has Artificial Intelligence.
  • July 26, 2013
    Chabal2

  • July 26, 2013
    Diask
    • Last Scenario features drone tanks as enemies appearing in more technological areas in the game. Besides attacking the protagonists, they also act as enemy summoners.
  • July 26, 2013
    Koveras
  • August 14, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Fantasy Games Unlimited's Aftermath! Book 3. The Cybernetic Tank has an Artificial Intelligence computer that can do anything a human-crewed tank can do: perform maneuvers, select and fire at targets, call for resupply of fuel and ammunition, and report enemy actions visible to its sensors. It can make tactical decisions to maintain its own safety while carrying out its assigned mission.
  • August 15, 2013
    AgProv
    @Anime GIF:

    "Would a "haunted tank" be in the same trope?"

    I'll leave that for others to decide, but it sounds like a valid fantasy counterpart.

    Here are some thoughts; your DC Comics example is very internally plausible, as the American army adopted the British naming convention for American tanks: in British service, the prosaically named M3, M4, M5, et c, became the Stuart, Lee, Grant, Sherman: named after Civil War generals. The US Army liked this naming convention so much they have kept it up since, with tanks like the Sheridan, Patton, et c, right down to today's Abrams. So what if, after naming a created thing and giving it life, it becomes animated with the spirit of the person who conferred it a name?

    Horror fiction writer Graham Masterton has used this trope with a novel in which a demon-possessed tank is deliberately used by the Allies to spread a particular sort of fear and loathing among the Germans. The only problem is, after the war is over the tank is left behind in France, lurking like an undetected landmine... (The Devils Of D-Day). Hack fiction, very Ghostapo, only Ghostapo on the allied side...
  • August 15, 2013
    Tallens
    • Tankor, the dim-witted tank Vehicon from Beast Machines, at least until Rhinox's personality resurfaces again.
  • August 16, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    Needs to be indexed on Mecha Tropes.
  • August 16, 2013
    DAN004
    Description needs to be tweaked I guess. Oh, and picture plz.
  • August 16, 2013
    Larkmarn
  • August 16, 2013
    Mauri
    Well I recalled one:
    • Red Alert 2: In the expansions the Mastermind tank is this, just that it controls enemy units. It is mentioned that it is a brain on wheels.
  • April 4, 2014
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    saved from the dustbin of history! so yeah if there are no other changes to be made to the description I'll launch over the weekend probably tomorrow
  • April 4, 2014
    Larkmarn
    Toys
    • All Transformers with a tank-based alt-mode. More often than not, they're evil Decepticons and tend to be The Brute, but there are still many exceptions. Most notably, Megatron is often depicted as tank, though he changes alt-modes very frequently.
  • April 4, 2014
    marcoasalazarm
    Literature example: The Death Lands book "Pandora's Redoubt" features an absurdly persistent laser-slinging robotic tank called a "Ranger" hounding the heroes. It survives getting hit with multiple missiles, having a building dropped on it, being hit with multi-ton boulders and it takes literally blowing up a bridge out from under it (and dropping it into a canyon) to kill it off. It also annihilates the Villain Of The Week's stronghold and army while it's at it.
  • April 4, 2014
    Larkmarn
    Why not Thinking Tank for a name?

    Close enough to "think tank" for the pun, but different enough that no one should mistake one for the other.
  • April 5, 2014
    Koveras
    I think Thinking Tank is a slightly more witty title than Sapient Tank. :)
  • April 5, 2014
    Arivne
    • Namespaced and italicized work names.
    • Corrected some punctuation errors.
  • April 5, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ I like that.
  • April 5, 2014
    Chabal2
    A non-armed variation: in Raising Steam, Iron Girder the locomotive acheives sentience when so many people see her go until she basically becomes the goddess of all things steam-powered. She even vaporizes a would-be saboteur with a blast of superheated steam.
  • April 5, 2014
    Tallens
    Keep it Sapient Tank.
  • April 5, 2014
    DAN004
    Crowner plz.
  • April 6, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    Beat Em Up
    • In Metal Gear Rising Revengeance, the various "Unmanned Gears" are all "sentient". The UG Metal Gear RAY being one of the more prominent tanks, and behaves like a Predatory Robeast.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=2ppuykuqq0dqkhzjx3r0lb2f