Created By: GiantSpaceChinchilla on July 11, 2010 Last Edited By: GiantSpaceChinchilla on March 24, 2011
Troped

Remote Body

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Exactly What It Says on the Tin

A character, hopefully a protagonist, has a body that can be operated remotely. Likely with equal or greater performance than if said character was physically present. Distinct from Fighting a Shadow in that the character is not an Eldritch Abomination with only a small piece sticking out in our time and space, but a person (human, alien, whatever) that operates a separate device or number of devices. Although, this distinction can get a little messy if, for example, a Brain in a Jar was given remote control of one or more machine bodies.

Perhaps they are robots, cloned cyborgs, hard light, whatever. For story purposes what matters most is whether or not Your Mind Makes It Real and if the connection can be sabotaged.

Compare and Contrast: Soul Jar, Decoy Getaway, Enemy Without, Demonic Possession, Body Surf, and Robot Me.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Major Kusanagi (and presumably other characters) can remotely control robot bodies. At the end of the first season she uses this ability to avoid being killed.
  • In Battle Angel Alita, Disty Nova cures his son's split personality by building a remotely controlled robot body to channel the other mind.

Comic Books

Film
  • Surrogates: The hero spends part of the movie as the controller for a android.
  • Avatar: The hero spends most of the movie as the controller of a synthetic alien.
  • Gamer: The hero spends most of the movie being controlled like a video game Space Marine then at the end puppeteers the Big Bad, kind of.

Literature
  • New Kashubia Series: The hero spends most of the second book as the controller for a telepresence human-ish robot.
  • Aristide, the protagonist of Implied Spaces, makes use of this trope just like every other being in his verse.
  • The Ship Who Searched put a lot of money into building herself a remote body because she was a space ship and wanted to have legs.
  • This is the entire premise of David Brin's Kiln People. One can make duplicate bodies out of a special clay, and send them off to do things.

Live-Action Television
  • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue: Remote controlled robot rangers show up at some point.
  • Played with in Mystery Science Theater 3000 with the Observers. They claim that their bodies are operated remotely (as their brains are located in bowls), but if their brains are more than a few feet away from their bodies they become completely helpless.
  • In the episode I, Robot, You, Jane of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a demon creates a mechanical robot self he operates via the internet. Eventually he gets stuck in that body.
  • An episode of Crusade had Galen generate a sort of remote hologram of himself to discover who had been kidnapping and vivisecting crewmembers who got seperated from the others while on the planet. His Bad Bad Acting as the Homonculus makes this scene a Crowning Moment of Funny.

Tabletop RPG
  • This is a central component of GURPS: Transhuman Space. People, especially AIs, rent (rarely purchase) cybershells designed for their environment or the job they're doing at the moment.

Video Games
  • Final Fantasy VII had Cait Sith who was really a high ranking member of Shinra operating a false body apparently operating another false body. Very Celtic.

Western Animation
  • NFL Rush Zone: Guardians of the Core: Ish controls a robot called the Sub.


Perhaps It's just a Paranoia Plague but perhaps this is Tropable, no? -- Maybe.

any other title suggestions? Remote Robot or Telepresence Android maybe?

ready to launch?
Community Feedback Replies: 30
  • July 9, 2010
    Aspie
    This might need a better description. I, for one, am finding myself confused.
  • July 9, 2010
    tangopig
    Agreed. Keep the noir, it's fun, but explain more afterward.
  • July 9, 2010
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    clicher I would appreciate it next time if you left a reply with your example instead of adding it directly to the entry.
  • July 9, 2010
    clicher
    oh; my bad.
  • July 9, 2010
    Aspie
    Not The Hero, but Final Fantasy VII had Cait Sith, who was really a high ranking member of Shinra operating a false body.
  • July 10, 2010
    randomsurfer
    Rogue Moon. Borrowing this description from Teleporters And Transporters:

    Two copies of the same person genuinely are the same person, giving them telepathy until they diverge enough. This is useful in investigating an alien machine that kills its occupants. The decomposition is lethal, no ifs, ands, or buts. The scan can then be reconstituted any number of times, but this is a separate process. Rogue Moon is messed up.
  • July 10, 2010
    Arivne
    Depending on exactly how it works:

    Anime and Manga
    • Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex. Major Kusanagi (and presumably other characters) can remotely control robot bodies. At the end of the first season she uses this ability to avoid being killed.

    Tabletop RPG
    • Dungeons And Dragons.
      • The Forgotten Realms has the Stasis Clone spell, which allows a person to wake up in an already cloned body when their old body is killed.
      • The Magic Jar spell was a limited version of this. It allowed the caster to move their mind into another creature's body and control it. However, if the host body was killed the caster could only shift back if they were within range of the Magic Jar itself.
  • October 23, 2010
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    Has anyone seen NFL rush zone guardians of the core? Other than being a meh series over all I've heard they have remote controlled robots called "substitutes" similar to Surrogates. confirmed
  • November 1, 2010
    Camacan
    I found everything above the line confusing and misleading. The convention is that articles start by describing the trope. Creativing writing as part of an article needs to be used sparingly.

    When the definition is unclear Trope Decay can set in. As written I'd worry folks would come along and shoehorn in everything from Mind Manipulation.

    Would this be a resonable definition?

    "A character has another physical body that they control via technological or magical means."
  • November 2, 2010
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    Thanks for the critique, its hard to write these things without feedback, and although the definition you set out is true it feels too laconic for the main page.

    I'll work on it some more later.
  • November 2, 2010
    c0ry
    Aristide, the protagonist of Implied Spaces, makes use of this trope just like every other being in his verse.
  • November 4, 2010
    SomeGuy
    For the title I'd go with something like Remote Body. That immediately brings to mind this trope as opposed to the queer shadow metaphor you've been using.

    • Played with in Mystery Science Theater 3000 with the Observers. They claim that their bodies are operated remotely (as their brains are located in bowls), but if their brains are more than a few feet away from their bodies they become completely helpless.
  • November 4, 2010
    JoieDeCombat
    Seconding Remote Body as a trope name, as the one currently given is pretty oblique, and the trope isn't limited to protagonists.
  • November 4, 2010
    mmysqueeant
    What does Noir have to do with this trope? Mostly when something's written in a certain unique style, it has a degree of relevance to the actual trope, I thought.
  • November 4, 2010
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    @someguy: eh who knew? snowclones are out of fashion again.

    @mmysqueeant: I was using Noir to illustrate that the trope is not tied to any one particular genre.

    Any one think I should add something about tech levels? or the trend of moving the user farther and farther away from the device he or she is using?
  • November 4, 2010
    Game_Fan
    This is a central component of GURPS: Transhuman Space. People, especially AIs, rent (rarely purchase) cybershells designed for their environment or the job they're doing at the moment.
  • November 4, 2010
    amitraday
    • In the episode I, Robot, You, Jane of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a demon creates a mechanical robot self he operates via the internet. Eventually he gets stuck in that body.
  • November 4, 2010
    randomsurfer
    In early Alpha Flight Handicapped Gadgeteer Genius Roger Bochs had a robot called Box that he could put his conciousness into.
  • November 5, 2010
    shimaspawn
    • The Ship Who Searched put a lot of money into building herself a remote body because she was a space ship and wanted to have legs.
  • November 5, 2010
    Taeraresh
    This is the entire premise of David Brin's Kiln People. One can make duplicate bodies out of a special clay, and send them off to do things.
  • November 5, 2010
    JohnDiFool
    The Conan the Destroyer movie had the evil wizard controlling a beast in a room full of mirrors. Conan defeats it by shattering the mirrors.
  • November 5, 2010
    Robotech_Master
    There was a golden-age SF story, I think by Gordon R. Dickson, that involved telepresence bodies. People store their real bodies away and wear artificial robot ones like changes of clothing. The story centers around a protagonist who is a famous surrogate-body boxer and ends up picking a fight that he has to win in his real body.
  • November 5, 2010
    Mozgwsloiku
    In Battle Angel Alita , Disty Nova cures his son's split personality by building a remotely controled robot body to channel the other mind.
  • November 5, 2010
    bluepenguin
    There's a short story about a severely autistic girl who uses a remote robot body as part of her therapy, but I forget what it was called. (IIRC I was linked to it from a page on this wiki, so hopefully someone knows what I'm talking about.)
  • November 5, 2010
    AFP
  • November 5, 2010
    suedenim
    I also find the description confusing, but:

    • NoMan of the Thunder Agents has the power to transfer his consciousness into and out of several (disposable, if necessary) android bodies.
  • November 5, 2010
    Lightblade
    The Clockwork King in City Of Heroes is a Brain In A Jar who uses his powerful psychic abilities to power and operate his minions through telekinesis, as well as the mechanical body said jar is mounted on.
  • November 6, 2010
    foxley
    Green Lantern foe Baron Tyrano was confined to an iron lung. He sent out out mental duplicates of himself to fight GL, controlling them with his mind.
  • November 6, 2010
    SilentReverence
    About Stand Alone Complex, the trope was used in the second season scratch that, I was thinking of another trope, if anything. The real example is Stand Alone Complex: Third State Society. Not only we do have The Major remotely controlling some bodies, but also she states that she can only control up to a certain amount at a time. May lead to a Mind Screw if you follow the theory that the Puppetteer was The Major all along, and you then realize that the alleged puppetter's body left from The Major's hideout at a point where she may have been controlling THREE bodies.
  • March 24, 2011
    Speedball
    Mention how this is possibly related to "Actually A Doombot" and I'd say it's go time.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=p5evyiury94njo2guza92ebj