As technology advances, Robots become more complex and more capable of doing a greater variety of things - at a faster, better and more consistent rate than if a human were to perform the same task. When robots have achieved a level of capability that business owners buy them and replace their human employees, you have a Job Stealing Robot.
The Job Stealing Robot does not need to necessarily be a robot - a piece of software or other type of machine may do the trick. The point is that artificial constructs are being built and are replacing the old workforce.
An application of Technology Marches On
and subtrope of Man Versus Machine
. Overlaps with Ludd Was Right
. When someone fights against the Job Stealing Robot, particularly when using questionable means, you're looking at an Evil Luddite
Truth in Television
: advances in robotics have lead to a lot of manual labor jobs being replaced or consolidated. Whether this is a good thing or not, YMMV
- Flobot.., just Flobot. No seriously, there's an ad for Progressive insurance where spokeswoman Flo fears she'll be replaced by Flobot (who has since appeared with Flo and others in another ad).
- This is a pivotal plot point in Armitage III, due to the high employment rate of robots, on Mars. The human populace objects strongly sometimes violently to this and regularly hold public protests, to denounce robots and demand their jobs back.
- A common theme in Judge Dredd stories is citizens struggling to cope with mass unemployment caused by nearly all jobs being performed by robots.
- I, Robot: Will Smith invokes this when proposing a new slogan for a robotics company: "Shitting on the Little Guy".
- Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mr. Bucket gets laid off from his job at a toothpaste factory after the Wonka candy bars contest causes an increase in toothpaste sales, letting the factory buy a machine. He gets a new job later: repairing the machine.
- According to The Matrix backstory, this is the reason humans started fighting the machines. Artificial Intelligence had evolved to a point where machines became better than humans at everything. Eventually, the humans started discriminating against the machines and kicked them out.
- In WarGames, the computer is used to replace human commanders in charge of missile silos. Leo McGarry glances significantly at the machine when he's being relieved by it.
- in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey Bill & Ted get killed and replaced by "evil robot us'es" which look exactly like Bill & Ted, but are programmed to be evil in order to destroy Bill & Ted's reputation so they don't become awesome rock stars and turn the world to peace. (Film)
- In Feet of Clay, Sgt Colon has a conversation with a wick-dipper who's been made redundant since the candle factory started employing a golem.
- The Caves of Steel has people becoming unemployed due to robots being introduced by the Spacers. It is revealed to be part of a plan to create large numbers of unemployed people who will become a new wave of settlers.
- The Twilight Zone TOS episode "[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Brain_Center_at_Whipple's The Brain Center at Whipple's]]". A callous business executive replaces all of his workers with machines, putting them out of work. At the end he suffers karmic justice as he is replaced by a computer.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Ultimate Computer", Starfleet decides it's a great idea for a computer to replace Kirk as captain of the Enterprise. The computer goes evil, of course.
- WKRP in Cincinnati:
- In Yet Another Christmas Carol episode Mr. Carlson is taken to the future, where he has replaced everyone at the station with computers except Herb (the sales manager).
- When another radio station tries to hire Venus away from WKRP he learns that the entire station is automated; he'd be the Token Human on the air.
- An episode of Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue features a scientist introducing a group of Robot Rangers. This leads to the Lightspeed Rangers out of job...until the robots malfunction.
- This◊ Hi and Lois strip.
- What's New? with Phil and Dixie. In Dragon magazine #63 (July 1982) the strip had a robot Phil that was designed to replace the real Phil Foglio on the staff. Phil managed to defeat the robot by shorting him out with water, but then a robot Dixie appeared... Read it here.
- In Portal 2, when exploring Old Aperture underground, you can see posters on the wall from when Aperture Science started using their own employees as test subjects and started using robots to do the humans' work. One of these posters features an employee (called "Karla the Complainer") complaining about her boss being a robot, and it assures readers that robots work harder than you, can do your job better than you, and are all-around better than you.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution has a slight variation in the form of job stealing cyborgs; one of the main anti-aug camps' arguments boils down to "cyborgs have an unfair advantage in the job market". The counter argument is that cyborgs can do jobs baseline humans couldn't possibly manage. The original Deus Ex also had cyborgs with older augments worried that the nano-tech enhanced protagonist will make them obsolete.
- Red vs. Blue: 479er is clearly feeling very threatened by Delta, but calms down quickly when she discovers that he can't fly.
- Also, while not replacing her on the team or driving anyone out of the unit, Tex quickly takes Carolina's spot at the top of the Freelancer leaderboard. How much Carolina knew about Tex's artificial nature is not clear.
- Despair.com mentions this in some of their demotivators:
- Motivation: If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon.
- Adaptation: The bad news is robots can do your job now. The good news is we're now hiring robot repair technicians. The worse news is we're working on robot-fixing robots--and we do not anticipate any further good news.
- Inverted in Warbot In Accounting: the titular warbot is a refrigerator-sized hunk of metal with a single crushing claw, meaning he is stunningly bad at typing, handling delicate objects, etc.
- Meta Inversion: The Comic Strip Robotman became Robotman And Monty, and then finally just Monty when Robotman was written out.
- The Simpsons: Mr. Burns has twice tried to replace all the workers at SNPP with robots. The first time is during a strike and the robots run amok. The second time Burns fires everyone (except Homer) and replace them with robots, which eventually...run amok. This time the unemployed and underemployed former SNPP workers come to his rescue, and he rehires them all.
- In another Simpsons Stu & Marty (the radio DJs) are threatened to be replaced by a wisecracking computer if they don't make good on the promise of an elephant for Bart.
- An episode of The Lampies has a robot brought in to do everyone inside the lamps' jobs (including counting down the precise time to light up time and then turning on the lamps). He is soon taken out of commission after he activates the sprinklers and fries himself.
- There's Hi Hi Puffy Amiyumi when robots replaced Ami and Yumi as rockstars..thankfully, they get their positions back.
There's a joke about a guy who's laid off, as his boss tells him they've just bought a new robot that does everything he does, but better. The guy goes home and tells his wife... who goes and buys the same robot.
- This trope is contradicted by the "Luddite fallacy"; Even though a machine can do more work than a person, it doesn't mean that the company will employ less people - instead, the company may just produce more product for the same number of employees (of course, this still puts artisans out of a job in favour of technicians).
"If the Luddite fallacy were true we would all be out of work because productivity has been increasing for two centuries."
--Alex Tabarrok, Economist
- Walt Disney Studios was in financial straits after Sleeping Beauty didn't make its cost back, so Ub Iwerks invented the xerox process to eliminate hand-inking. Not good for you if you worked in the Disney inking department.
- When Steven Spielberg started on Jurassic Park, he hired Tippett Studio to provide stop-motion effects for the film. However, Spielberg later saw a test with CGI dinosaurs and was so impressed with how realistic they looked that he decided to use CGI instead of stop-motion. Ultimately subverted as Tippett Studio's expertise at animating dinosaurs was still valuable and so a system was created where their stop-motion experience could be applied to the CGI models. Tippett Studio has specialized in CGI ever since.