Created By: SomeGuy on May 21, 2010 Last Edited By: SomeGuy on June 1, 2010

Actually A Doombot

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A character, usually one relatively high on the power scale, loses a fight. Sometimes they die, other times they're just humiliated. The point is, they just got their butt handed to them by the other guys in a largely fair fight. Is this the end of our eternal rivalry between good and evil? Has one side truly triumphed!?

In a word, no. It turns out that the truly epic character we just saw get beaten up was Not Himself. Rather, he was Actually a Doombot, either a robot or an impersonator who was pretty much impossible to distinguish from the genuine article until the writer told us so at the last minute.

The narrative role of this trope is obvious- it works to prevent The Worf Effect, and also insure that characters don't "really" die, thus allowing them to come back on next week's program. This can, nonetheless, still come off as an Ass Pull writ "Shaggy Dog" Story since there are rarely ever any clues given that the character was really a doombot, nor does it have any future relevance in the story.

A semi-popular form of Retcon. Often involves by necessity Ridiculously Human Robots.

  • The name comes from Doombots which supposedly are used by writers in the Marvel Comics Universe to explain how Doctor Doom rarely ever actually "loses" battles. I've never actually read any of these stories myself- it's just that the term "doombot" pops up in random articles semi-regularly in this context.
  • Used on more than one occasion in episodes of Superfriends to explain how the latest scheme by Lex Luthor didn't actually work, since the heroes were being represented by robotic duplicates. Raises the question of why the Legion of Doom doesn't bother with autopsies, or why they throw away their latest superweapon the minute the Superfriends "appear" to be dead.
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • April 29, 2010
    See also Opening A Can Of Clones for the effect the existence of clones or robot duplicates destroys a sense of suspense when characters "die".
  • May 3, 2010
    Apparently there was a Punisher story where he killed Nick Fury, later revealed to have been an android.
  • May 3, 2010
    Sounds similar to Worf Had The Flu.
  • May 3, 2010
    @Chabal2: Fury is "killed" via LMD (Life Model Decoy) a lot.
  • May 7, 2010
    Also in the Marvel Universe, Big Bad Thanos has duplicates called Thanosi that are indistinguishable from the original. Like Doombots, these are used (usually by Thanos creator Jim Starlin) to explain away defeats.
  • May 7, 2010
    Slade from Teen Titans used the Doombot switch several times.
  • May 11, 2010
    Naraku used Youkai puppets for the same purpose, they were easy to recognize when they actually started fighting, because they became a monster of roots and earth. Dangerous.
  • May 11, 2010
  • May 21, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Pretty sure the BuffyBot qualifies for this at some point.
  • May 21, 2010
    ^She does. At the end of season 5 she gets beat by Glory, who then discovers that "Buffy is a robot!" Cue the real Buffy laying a beatdown on Glory.
  • June 1, 2010
    YKTTW Bump. Last call for examples or a new name before launch.
  • June 1, 2010
    There was a War of the Retcons about the Thanosi and Squirrel Girl, where S.G. defeated Thanos, and the Watcher was dragged on to say "This is definitely the real Thanos", and then in a different book some time later, Thanos casually mentions that he can create Thanosi that can fool even the Watcher. The weird part was that they were both by the same writer...