-> ''Von Neumann probes, self-replicating machines, terraformers, Xenon, even the Enemy of God. But at its core, it was really only one thing; artificial general intelligence, mechanical minds capable of making themselves even more intelligent, and then again, and again, recursively forever.''
-->-- Opening narration, ''[[Videogame/{{X}} X3: Terran Conflict]]''

Life makes life, [[PregnancyTropes as we all know]]. In other cases, [[CreatingLife life makes artificial life]]. This trope, however, continues that cycle as those artificial lifeforms make their own artificial lifeforms.

There's a variation where the artificial lifeform ([[OrganicTechnology usually]] a machine) is [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-replicating_machine self-replicating]], a... SelfReplicatingMachine, if you will. It's usually the domain of {{Nanobots}} everywhere, [[GreyGoo which is what makes them so dangerous]].

And just when you thought TurnedAgainstTheirMasters was an exclusive Human/Robot trope, this may also lead too RobotsEnslavingRobots.

May show MechanicalEvolution or CloneDegeneration. See also, CreatingLife.

Has nothing to do with a RecursiveReality or RecursiveFanfiction.



[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* [[MadScientist Doctor]] [[BigBad Jail Scaglietti]] of ''Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaStrikers'', creator of the various [[SuperSoldier Artificial Mages]] and Combat {{Cyborg}}s in the series, is eventually revealed to be an ArtificialHuman himself [[spoiler:[[GovernmentConspiracy who was created by the very founders of the]] [[TheFederation Time-Space Administration Bureau]]]]


[[folder: Card Games ]]

* In ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'', the plane of Mirrodin and its inhabitants were created by the [[PhysicalGod Planeswalker]] [[{{Golem}} Karn]], who in turn was created by the [[PhysicalGod Planeswalker]] Urza.


[[folder: Comics ]]

* In the ''Franchise/MarvelUniverse'', the [[SufficientlyAdvancedAliens Celestials]] created the Kree, who in turn created ComicBook/TheInhumans.


[[folder: Film ]]

* ''Film/{{Multiplicity}}'': Overworked guy creates clone to do his work for him. Overworked clone creates clone...
* ''Franchise/{{Alien}}'':
** The android girl (called synthetics) in ''Film/AlienResurrection'' is from a line of synthetics designed by synthetics rather than humans. Ironically, she's perhaps the most human character in the cast, especially compared to quasi-alien Ripley.
** In ''Film/{{Prometheus}}'' and ''Film/AlienCovenant'', the different species in the overall franchise are established to each be engineered by a preceding one. The known order is Engineers creating Humans, then Humans creating Androids, then Androids creating Xenomorphs.
* ''{{Film/Screamers}}'': See ''Second Variety'' below.
* ''Franchise/{{Terminator}}'': Skynet builds and designs new Terminators and other war machines.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* The plot of ''Discworld/FeetOfClay'' revolves around golems creating [[spoiler: a "king" golem. It doesn't go so well.]]
* The eponymous (and autonomous) spaceships of Creator/FredSaberhagen's ''Literature/{{Berserker}}'' series.
* The Hypotheticals from Creator/RobertCharlesWilson's novels ''Spin'' and ''Axis'' are of the Von Neumann type seen below
* The short story ''Second Variety'' by Creator/PhilipKDick has a handful of US Marines find out what has been happening since they gave the deadly robots built to fight off the new URSS the capability to reproduce simply because they were so dangerous nobody wanted to work on them anymore. It's not pleasant.
** The story was adapted into the movie ''{{Film/Screamers}}''
* The plot of ''Von Neumann's War'', a military SF novel by John Ringo and Travis S. Taylor, Earth is attacked by Von Neumann devices, which are self replicating robots.
* A later story arc in ''Literature/TheHistoryOfTheGalaxy'' series involves an invasion of known space by self-replicating machines created long ago by a race only starting to explore the galaxy as automated explorers and colony creators. Unfortunately, when the machines returned centuries later, the found newer machines. Since their programming included adaptability to external threats, they proceeded to destroy the newer machines and their creators. They made many copies of themselves and continue their primary task of exploration. However, if they meet an unknown race, they automatically treat it as an enemy.
* UrExample: Long before the VonNeumannMachine concept appeared in fiction, William Paley's ''Natural Theology'' (1802) posited a hypothetical 'watch' that could make copies of itself, as part of a lengthy theological argument claiming proof of God.
* Madeline Ashby's ''Machine Dynasty'' series has von Neumann androids who eat plastics, metals, and e-waste to grow and give birth to robot babies. Some of them marry humans and raise children together.
* The Greenfly of the ''Literature/RevelationSpaceSeries'' is a human-designed terraforming technology that went rogue after it was unleashed as a weapon between two [[MileLongShip lighthuggers]] in combat. Greenfly breaks up entire planetary systems, then rebuilds it into thousands upon thousands of orbital habitats ringing the star, whilst building more of itself, [[TheStarsAreGoingOut slowly turning the stars green]]. The Shadows - beings of another universe - created their own Greenfly in their distant past, which completely destroyed their Local Group of galaxies by the time humanity contacts them in ''Absolution Gap''. In the DistantFinale in ''Galactic North'', [[spoiler: humanity is fleeing the Milky Way wholesale as Greenfly runs rampant.]]
* In Creator/StephenBaxter's ''Manifold'' trilogy, this is a recurring theme. ''Literature/ManifoldTime'' and ''Literature/ManifoldSpace'' opens with Reid Malenfant giving a speech advocating that humanity colonize the galaxy using self-replicating terraforming scout starships; for the cost of just one ship, they can shoot it to Alpha Centuari where it will break up asteroids to build more scout ships to investigate and terraform promising solar systems. In ''Manifold Space'', the discovery of an asteroid in Jupiter orbit glowing in the infrared spectrum leads to the discovery that robotic terraformers are ''here'', though [[spoiler: it is later subverted in that the 'Gaijin' robots are merely a very exotic iron-based form of mechanical life]]


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* There's a ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' example, when the android Data creates its own android offspring, Lal.
* Cylons in ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|1978}}.'' It didn't turn out well for them, either.
* The imaginatively-named Replicators of ''Series/StargateSG1'' are what you get when you don't tell one of these machines when to stop. They're a menace to multiple galaxies, and are one of the few threats that can get Earth and the Goa'uld to [[EnemyMine set aside their differences]] and work together.
* ''Series/TotalRecall2070'': Detective Farve is an Alpha-Class android with a WetwareCPU and human cognition. His creator turns out to be a more primitive type of machine intelligence who initially built its own crude android body to [[PinocchioSyndrome become more human]], but was fully aware that he was JustAMachine and built Farve in its own image to be more truly human.


[[folder: Newspaper Comics ]]

* In ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes'', Calvin's duplicate begins making his own duplicates. HilarityEnsues.


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* In ''VideoGame/StarControlII'', the Slylandro Probe is a faultily-programmed self-replicating robot spaceship which will first greet your ship in a friendly manner... then try to break it up for parts to make more probes.
* In the backstory of the ''VideoGame/{{X}}-Universe'' series Earth built several fleets of self-replicating, artificially intelligent terraforming drones (sometimes described as "Von Neumann machines" in the literature and the opening cinematic of ''X3: Terran Conflict''). [[AIIsACrapshoot Things went pear-shaped]] due to a faulty (or deliberately sabotaged; [[DependingOnTheWriter reports vary]]) software update, most of Earth's colonies were destroyed, and Earth nearly so. The surviving bugged drones evolved into the games' Xenon, which seek to "[[ColonyDrop terraform]]" all biological life out of existence. The Xenon continue to evolve and improve themselves, bringing in new ship designs and technology that often surpass the races of the Commonwealth, and a small handful of Terraformer CPU ships have become self-aware.


[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* A ''Webcomic/SaturdayMorningBreakfastCereal'' strip shows a couple of scientists coming to the conclusion that we are in a simulated reality. The last panel has a pair of alien scientists celebrating that our universe broke the record for how long it took a simulated reality to moon them.
* ''Webcomic/{{Freefall}}'s'' Mozart Boids (robot birds) were made by a group of sapient robots. And [[spoiler: we now know that Dr. Bowman, the creator of the sentient robot's brain design, is an uplifted chimp]]
* Creator/StanislawLem's "constructors" (Mortal Engines ([[Literature/MortalEngines not that one]]), ''Literature/TheCyberiad'').
* The Dingbots from ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' can create other Dingbots, but each successive generation is stupider and weaker. There are only about three originals ("Queenie Dingbot", "Prime A", and "Prime B") from which the best can be made directly.
* Similarly, in ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt'' the {{golem}}s and then robots continued manufacturing more of themselves after their creator's death. Because many of his [[SuperPrototype initial designs]] were beyond their understanding, subsequent generations were greatly simplified.
* Acibek in ''Webcomic/DominicDeegan: Oracle For Hire'' created his replacement before his HeroicSacrifice.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Spacetrawler}}'', this is how the Mihrrgoots mastered [[{{Nanomachines}} nanotechnology]].
-->'''King:''' For technology we simply build robots which build smaller robots which build smaller robots... and on until they can build machinery as tiny as we need.


[[folder: Web Original ]]

* The Metal God from the forum game ''[[http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=14676704340A65280400&page=1 We write the timeline for a fantasy/science fantasy/just plain weird world]]'' is a Bracewell probe (A self-replicating space probe that establishes peaceful contact with alien civilizations, uplifts primitive ones, and terraforms barren worlds to support life) from an unknown civilization of BenevolentPrecursors. Its nemesis, Gur, is a [[labelnote:Green Goo]]read "Organitek GreyGoo"[[/labelnote]] Berserker (A self-replicating space probe that destroys alien civilizations).
''Literature/TheJenkinsverse'' has the Coltainer, AKA the "Von Neumann Colony-in-a-Can." Designed to prime suitable planets for human colonization, the designers very carefully stuffed them full of safeguards against uncontrolled replication.


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* The ''Multiplicity'' example is [[{{Pun}} replicated]] in a ''[[TheSimpsons Simpsons]]'' HalloweenEpisode, parodying the former.
* A good one from ''{{Transformers}}'' Generation One. Wheeljack creates the Dinobots from scratch. Years later Grimlock, leader of the Dinobots created the Technobots from scratch. Arguably all of the Transformers count since they were given life by Vector Sigma, a computer, and built by the Quintessons. Not sure if they're fully machine though.
* [=CyBugs=] from ''Disney/WreckItRalph'' are robotic beetles that consume raw materials from their surroundings, and uses those resources to adapt themselves to the environment and produce offsprings. They can also consume technology to self-modify (for example, gobbling up a hapless {{Space Marine}}'s assault rifle leads to a 'bug with machine gun forelegs).


[[folder: Real Life ]]

* The entire idea behind TheSingularity is that a chain of self-replication among machines of super-human computational ability will render the world completely unrecognizable.
* The entire premise behind the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Von_Neumann_machine Von Neumann machines.]]
* It's not quite self-replication, but the [[http://reprap.org/wiki/RepRap RepRap]] is a 3D printer, which can construct (among other things) almost all the parts needed to build another [=RepRap=].