Created By: SabresEdge on December 25, 2011 Last Edited By: SabresEdge on October 18, 2016

Floating Head Robot

A robot character consists of a floating part, similar to a Surveillance Drone.

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Trope
Could do with a better title. Up for Grabs. May need to be split off into two articles if the "floating body robot" variation accumulates enough examples.

One alternative to having bipedal, human-shaped robots goes the minimalist approach. If they can float via Artificial Gravity or some unknown phlebotinum, then they can dispense with the torso and the legs and all those other messy, mechanical parts. All they need is a casing for their processor and a floating thingamajigger. A visible face is optional; more common is a single glowing "eye" with Unusual Eyebrows around it.

That's the way the logic goes, anyway. Some of these are more complicated for various assorted roles: they may have weapons or tools or arms attached. Sometimes they'll be expanded to a full-blown robot torso, only with antigravity instead of legs.

The "floating head" version is usually a sidekick or a Robot Buddy if on the protagonist's side, since the small size lends itself well to comic relief. On the opposing side, expect it to be higher up; often it's the Big Bad. The lack of hands and AI nature often means that its additional role will be The Cracker.

Compare Floating Mask and Oculothorax. Surveillance Drone and Attack Drones may be subtropes if the robot in question is just a device used in a specific manner, not a character.

Examples

Comics

Film
  • The little training remote from Star Wars may just be the Trope Codifier, along with the interrogation droid, Darth Maul's scout/probe droids, and quite a few others in the films and the Expanded Universe. There's lots of overlap with Surveillance Drone and Attack Drone here.
  • Flash Gordon. The Emperor Ming has a roughly spherical robot that floats around acting as an escort, spying on people and zapping anyone who tried to escape or kill Ming.

Live-Action Television

Tabletop Games
  • Classic Traveller supplement Book 8, Robots. Robots with artificial gravity didn't need any legs, and could be designed with all of their components inside a single chassis and without appendages.

Video Games
  • Wheatley and the rest of the cores from Portal 2 fit the decription partially. They're more cubical than round, but they do have the Cyber Cyclops part down. Wheatley doesn't float, instead running around the Aperture Science facility on ceiling-mounted rails when he's not being carried about by Chell or plugged into the mainframe, but the effect is much the same.
  • 343 Guilty Spark and the rest of the Forerunner Monitors from the Halo series. The Sentinels would fit better under Attack Drone.
  • G0-T0 and Bao-Dur's Remote are both this. Given the commonality of repulsorlift technology in the Star Wars-verse, quite a few droids follow this pattern.
  • Jet Force Gemini has Floyd, whose propeller and eyes take up the majority of his small body.
  • Mr. Zurkon from {{Ratchet & Clank}}.

Web Comics
  • Schlock Mercenary gives us Ennesby, who gets a full-blown disembodied head after being downloaded to his "maraca-node". Lots and lots of jokes earlier about the lack of arms, legs, and other limbs. On the other side--complete with torsos, armor, and lots of heavy weapons--are the Tarbots.
  • The Lawbots in the Buck Godot comics are floating metallic spheres with two arms and a separate weapon on a tentacle.

Web Original
  • Co-Host 3000 from Spill.

Western Animation
  • Fritz from Dinotopia: First Flight. "Hover-heads" like Fritz normally have a humanoid body with the head as a detachable module, but Fritz's body is ruined and is useful only as a charging station.
  • EVE from WALL•E consists of floating egg-shaped components, complete with head and arms.
  • From Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, members of the Computer Council are about the size of dishes. One, Dr. Theopolus, is carried around by Twiki, Buck's Robot Buddy. The others are, presumably, carried around as needed.
Community Feedback Replies: 32
  • December 25, 2011
    dalek955
    • Fritz from Dinotopia: First Flight. "Hover-heads" like Fritz normally have a humanoid body with the head as a detachable module, but Fritz's body is ruined and is useful only as a charging station.
  • December 25, 2011
    KZN02
    Compare Floating Mask?
  • December 25, 2011
    Lumpenprole
    The Lawbots in the Buck Godot comics are floating metallic spheres with two arms and a (sensor?) on a tentacle.
  • December 25, 2011
    CalamityJane
    EVE fromm WALLE is egg-shaped with a floating head.
  • December 25, 2011
    nman
    • In Stargate Universe, the "Kinos" are floating balls with sensors and a camera on them that can be used as scouts.
  • December 25, 2011
    fulltimeD
    Flint's robotic butler in an episode of Star Trek The Original Series.
  • December 25, 2011
    Bisected8
    • At then end of the Futurama episode "Roswell That Ends Well" Bender ends up as one after his body is rebuilt as a flying saucer by 50's era scientists who think it's an alien spacecraft.
  • December 25, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In Buck Rogers In The25th Century members of the Computer Council are about the size of dish plates. One, Dr. Theopolus, is carried around by Twiki, Buck's Robot Buddy. The others are presumably also carried about as needed.
  • December 25, 2011
    JonnyB
    Also the torture robot in Star Wars.
  • December 25, 2011
    Nothingtoseehere
    The Running Gag Floating baby head in Phineas And Ferb.
  • December 25, 2011
    dalek955
    • Also from Star Wars, Darth Maul's "Dark Eye" scout droids.

    Also, @Lumpenprole: That tentacle-mounted thing on the Law Machines is a weapon, not a sensor. The sensors are those red things on the front.
  • December 26, 2011
    Koveras
  • December 26, 2011
    JonnyB
    Do the little robots in The Black Hole count?
  • December 26, 2011
    Arivne
    ^ Jonny B: Here is a picture of Vincent, one of the little robots. It looks to me like he has a torso (and those two projections below are extendable legs, as shown in this picture of Bob). They would not count as "floating head robots", but would count under the expanded definition in the 2nd paragraph of the description.

    Film
    • Flash Gordon. The Emperor Ming has a roughly spherical robot that floats around acting as an escort, spying on people and zapping anyone who tried to escape or kill Ming.

    Literature
    • Larry Niven's short story "Cloak of Anarchy" had "copseyes", spherical robots the size of a basketball that floated around Free Parks. They had a television camera connected to police headquarters and a sonic stunner. Anyone who tried to commit violence in a Free Park was stunned unconscious.
    • Robert Heinlein's novel Friday. Police had Public Eyes that they used to perform surveillance. The Eyes had cameras that allowed an officer monitoring them to see what was going on, with a memory that could hold 12 hours of visual record. An unmonitored Public Eye floated around, following any object with the temperature of a human body.

    Live Action TV
    • 1980's The Twilight Zone episode "To See The Invisible Man". The police of the future have spherical surveillance robots that float around watching for criminal activity, such as anyone interacting with a criminal sentenced to "invisibility".

    Tabletop RPG
    • Classic Traveller supplement Book 8 Robots. Robots with artificial gravity didn't need any legs, and could be designed with all of their components inside a single chassis and without appendages.
  • December 26, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Live Action TV:
    • Automan: Automan's buddy Cursor acts like this.
    • Hard Time On Planet Earth: the protagonist is an alien sentenced to living on Earth. His FHR is a combination helper/jailer, as it's there primarily to make sure he doesn't leave.
    • The Incredible Hulk: The End: Banner/Hulk has the floating head of a Rigellian Recorder as his only companion; the story is set After The End where the only living things left on earth are him and roaches which eat him every night.
  • December 26, 2011
    SabresEdge
    Feel free to add your own examples and edit as needed, guys.
  • December 26, 2011
    whizzerd
    Video game example; Jet Force Gemini has Floyd, who's propeller and eyes take up the majority of his small body.
  • December 26, 2011
    GoopsWorld
  • December 26, 2011
    SingingRain
    Co-Host 3000 from Spill.
  • December 28, 2011
    SabresEdge
    Trimmed out a lot of examples that fit better under Surveillance Drone and Attack Drone. This trope fits better with actual robotic characters.
  • December 28, 2011
    Wackd
    • Mystery Science Theater 3000 has Tom Servo, who has a "hoverskirt" in place of legs. Versions of Cambot from the Mike Nelson era on are usually just flying eyeballs.
  • December 28, 2011
    randomsurfer
    The Buck Rogers example goes in Live Action TV not Western Animation.
  • December 29, 2011
    0ffh
    - Dr. Simon Wright from Captain Future has his brain transplanted from his failing body into a floating case.
  • January 1, 2012
    Specialist290
    Tabletop Games
    • Warhammer 40000 has servo-skulls, which look like what you would expect given the name. They're used for a variety of functions, from surveillance to simply holding a flashlight. The kicker is that the casing is sometimes a real skull.
  • January 1, 2012
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    Flying Face has some examples I think
  • January 1, 2012
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    --duplication--
  • January 1, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Film:
  • September 24, 2016
    DAN004
    A variant of this is when a robot has a full humanoid body, but their head can detach and fly on their own.

    • Azure Striker Gunvolt 2: Copen's new combat drone Lola consists of just a floating cylindric body with a face in the front.
  • October 18, 2016
    aurora369
    In the Fallout universe, the common Mr. Handy utility robot is a floating sphere with several arms, vaguely resembling an octopus. The sphere has three eyes on stalks to act as an expressive "face".
  • October 18, 2016
    DustSnitch
    This can overlap with Floating Limbs, assuming a robot has floating arms or legs.
  • October 18, 2016
    DrNoPuma
    Chortlebot from Wario Land Shake It is a giant floating Robot Clown head.
  • October 18, 2016
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • The Disney Television cartoon series Buzz Lightyear Of Star Command has XR as one of Buzz's close associates. XR's head floats above his trunk but below a clear dome. Since he's an Iron Butt Monkey on the show, this head is often the only part of him left intact, and it delivers a pithy observation about his destruction. The same series also introduces XR's Evil Counterpart, XL, a beta version of XR that went rogue.
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