[[quoteright:354:[[http://pavuk.cgsociety.org/art/rpbpt-3ds-max-photoshop-project-david-friends-2d-703045 http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/skele_bot_9000.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:354:My [[UncannyValley Nightmare]] Buddy]]

->''"Just for my own edification, did you have to design [[Franchise/{{Terminator}} the robots]] with such horrifying features? I'm not a design guy, or anything, but I can't see any either performance or aesthetic benefits in designing the robots with cold, skeleton heads, piercing red eyes and giant metal teeth."''
-->-- '''Website/{{Cracked}}.com''', [[http://www.cracked.com/blog/a-series-of-emails-from-cyberdynes-tech-guy/ "A Series of Emails from Cyberdyne's New Tech Guy"]]

A visual trope in science fiction materials: humanoid robots that look skeletal in design. They all have relatively thin limbs that are reminiscent of bones, and they usually lack "filling" in places where humans have only soft organs, like the abdomen.

Such robots can be very obvious, with sinister, grinning skull-faces, ''a la'' the T-800 from ''{{Franchise/Terminator}}'' films. Others are more subtle, often with fairly realistic faces. Some, such as the T-800s, are designed to be covered with "something", so they literally are robot skeletons once you remove the coverings.

Obvious [=SkeleBots=] are meant to scare characters. Often, these are the cold, inhuman soldiers of the BigBad. On the other hand, subtle [=SkeleBots=] are often presented (at least at first) as perfectly innocuous consumer devices, but they're meant to subtly creep out the audience.

This trope also makes quite a bit of sense from a pure engineering standpoint: the bipedal human skeleton is a rather efficient infrastructure. Placing processing power and sensors in a compact, heavily armored box at the top of the body minimizes lag and provides the best vantage point possible, the ribcage centralizes and protects important components, and a bipedal stance allows both great strength and dexterity in the upper limbs while also making us one of the few animals that can survive prolonged high-speed travel. [[note]]For instance, an average horse would either lose an ultramarathon to an average human or die winning.[[/note]] Eliminating excess weight by replacing muscle with systems of cables or servo motors and organs with compact power supplies would let you strip the body down to, well, [[IncrediblyLamePun the bare bones]] essentials.

That said, while there might be no mechanical ''need'' for the extra padding or housing necessary to keep a robot built on the human frame from looking skeletal, "not looking creepy" is a general design goal for consumer products, especially those with recognizable faces. Subtle [=SkeleBots=] with "intact" faces often lean as much towards the "moving corpse" nadir of the UncannyValley as DemBones. Sometimes overlaps with UnnecessarilyCreepyRobot for cases when it would probably be better if the robot ''didn't'' resemble a skeleton, but this doesn't seem to have occurred to the designer (or [[RuleOfScary possibly that it did]]).


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* The Boomer androids from the original ''Anime/BubblegumCrisis'', as Terminator Expies, also have skull-like heads under their artificial skins (The rest of the body is much less skeletal).
* During the Red Ribbon Army arc of ''Manga/DragonBall'', Goku and crew encounter what appears to be a skeleton with a ArmCannon in an abandoned pirate's lair.
* Despite its name, the Skull Gundam from ''Anime/MobileFighterGGundam'' doesn't quite fit this trope. While its arms and legs are skeletal, its torso is [[{{Cephalothorax}} a giant skull]].
* The Skullgunners from ''Anime/BlueCometSPTLayzner'' are AI controlled MechaMooks which communicate with each other through a HiveMind for ruthless efficiency.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The "anorexic Cybermen" from the ''Magazine/DoctorWhoMagazine'' comic story ''The Flood'' are another example of the subtle version, as seen [[http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51VHmUFK5-L._SL500_AA240_.jpg here]].
* The robot in "Spirou and the Robot Blueprints" (fr. orig. "Spirou et les plans du robot"), a ''[[ComicBook/SpirouAndFantasio Spirou et Fantasio]]'' comic from 1948, is at least vaguely skeletal.
* Most robots from the comic ''ComicBook/MagnusRobotFighter: 4000 AD'' are somewhat subtly skeletal. They have flatly mechanical faces or faceless heads, thin limbs, and chests joined to hips by nothing more than a thick cable.
* Creator/DCComics villain Metallo, at least in his ComicBook/PostCrisis version, as a direct ShoutOut to the T-800.
* The mid-80's version of ComicBook/{{Brainiac}} in ''Comicbook/{{Superman}}''.
* Some later versions of ComicBook/{{Warlock}} from ''ComicBook/NewMutants'' have played with this trope, by having him look [[http://i253.photobucket.com/albums/hh60/Arkakoira/warlock_new_mutants.jpg very skeletal]] when in low energy, and much more fuller and human-like when in full power.

* ''Franchise/{{Terminator}}'': The T-800 and [[Film/Terminator3RiseOfTheMachines T-X]] endoskeleton. While the endoskeleton is designed for [[JustifiedTrope a reasonable purpose]] - to be a framework on which to grow human flesh to better disguise the Terminators - the real reason is the [[NightmareFuel horrific image]] (no pun intended, one of them ''really'' illustrates the trope page) of implacable metal skeletons coming after you. The fact they are also terrifying has another in-universe reason: they're built for warfare and the psychological effect on the enemy would be rather potent (the Cracked article, while amusing, relies on the premise that Cyberdyne created the Terminators before Judgement Day, which they did not). Not for nothing did Creator/JamesCameron base them on an actual nightmare he had while filming ''Film/PiranhaPartTwoTheSpawning''.
* From the ''Franchise/StarWars'' prequels: The B-1 battle droids are skeletal, designed to be easily packed up and stored. According to ExpandedUniverse material, they are actually supposed to resemble the skeletons of Nemoidians (the people who designed them), which would be scary...[[NightmareRetardant if you're Nemoidian]].
** ''Film/ThePhantomMenace'' concept art shows that the original plan was for the Nemoidians themselves to have elongated faces and skeletal limbs just like their battle droids. This was scrapped for the movie (perhaps because it would have required the Nemoidians to be fully animatronic or CGI, and they figured were already pushing it with Jar-Jar) and the EU explanation was retconned in.
** Similarly, the Destroyer Droids look like skelebots of the (EU-only) Colicoids who designed them. Including the rolling ball form.
** The unfinished version of C-3PO, with his "parts showing," in ''The Phantom Menace.''
** The [[http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/YVH_1 Yuuzhan Vong Hunters]] from the ExpandedUniverse are meant to be an ''[[IShallTauntYou insulting]]'' sight rather than a scary one.
** General Grievous, though he is technically a {{Cyborg}}, invokes this trope with his appearance.
* The highly evolved robots at the end of ''[[Film/AIArtificialIntelligence A.I.]]''
* The NS-5 and NS-4 robots in ''Film/IRobot''.

[[folder: Literature]]
* One of the methods of fighting the [[Literature/NewJediOrder Yuuzhan Vong]] is the YVH-1, a droid that perfectly resembles the [[Franchise/{{Terminator}} T-800]] and is specifically designed to scan and identify hidden Yuuzhan Vong agents and battle the extremely technophobic race in full combat.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Film/TheArkOfTruth'': The replicators take over a human and the results is one of these after the flesh is burned off. This is a clear ShoutOut to ''Franchise/{{Terminator}}'', especially the similar music in that scene.
* Creator/CraigFerguson's "robot skeleton" sidekick Geoff Peterson on ''Series/TheLateLateShow.''
* The Cylon Centurions in ''Series/{{Caprica}}'', specifically referred to as "skeletons" more than once. Though in the finale ones with added armor plating are shown.

[[folder:Music Videos]]
* The creepy baby bot in Music/DaftPunk's [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoPplpBPQxQ "Technologic".]]
* The Music/LouReed robot in [[http://www.metacafe.com/watch/sy-36166905001/lou_reed_no_money_down_official_music_video/ "No Money Down"]] goes from UncannyValley to this.
* Music/DoctorSteel's iconic robots are built this way.

* The T-800 endoskeleton from ''Pinball/Terminator2JudgmentDay'', prominently featured on the playfield between the flippers.
* The T-X from ''Pinball/Terminator3RiseOfTheMachines''

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'':
** The Necrons are the result of an ancient alien race, the Necrotyr, uploading their consciousness into skeletal robotic bodies. Thematically the Necrons are intended to be a [[RecycledInSpace science fiction version]] [[DemBones of the Undead.]]
** The Chaos Androids from the first two editions of the game (as well as the early GaidenGame Space Crusade) were daemonically-possessed automatons that take the form of shining plasteel skeletons. These androids were [[{{Retcon}} removed from the game and background material]], along with the Chaos Squats who created them, and their look used as one of the inspirations for the Necrons.
* [[TheEmpire The Coalition States]] in ''{{Rifts}}'' actually calls theirs Skelebots. Given that all their wargear (body armor, PoweredArmor, HumongousMecha, ''[[TankGoodness tanks]] and {{SpiderTank}}s, '''aircraft...''''') have a [[NothingButSkulls skull motif]], this was pretty much the logical extension. It's also useful in their role as military terror weapons.
** The iconic [[HollywoodCyborg full-conversion cyborgs]] seen on many covers and interior art (actually mass-produced German [[MegagCorp Triax]] models) also have distinct skull-like faceplates; unsurprising since many of the designs were [[CaptainErsatz lifted straight from]] ''Anime/BubblegumCrisis'''s Boomers (including bulkier-than-usual-for-the-trope bodies).
** [[PrivateMilitaryContractors The Megaversal Legion]] from the ''South America 2'' worldbook also have a full-conversion cyborg version of the trope; your mileage may vary on whether its [[TheBlank blank faceplate]] makes it creepier-looking than other examples.
* "ICONS: Superpowed Roleplaying" has a adventure with a bad guy called Skeletron.
* Several [[MagicTheGathering Phyrexian]] bio-mechanical abominations. Several of them ''used'' to be humans.
* ''Tabletopgame/BattleTech'' features the ''Atlas'', a [[HumongousMecha ten-story tall battlemech]] armed with [[{{BFG}} 30+ tons of weapons]] and [[SuperToughness enough armor to shrug off almost any attack]], and has a white skull shaped head for a cockpit. [[WeaponForIntimidation It was intentionally design to intimidate foes on first sight]]. There's a number of derivative designs such as the very rare ''Atlas II'' that adds GlowingMechanicalEyes, the slightly lighter ''Akuma'' that has a sinister grinning head, and the ultra high-tech ''Atlas III''.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The Robot Master Skull Man from ''VideoGame/MegaMan4''.
** The Skeleton Joe from the same game.
** His counterpart from the ''VideoGame/MegaManBattleNetwork'' series is even lankier, more skeletal, and downright creepier for a multitude of reasons, including his manic grin.
* After [[MadScientist Dr. Lugae]] loses his first go-round with the heroes in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'', he transforms himself into a skeleton robot for the second battle. The implication is that he just tears his skin off.
* [[spoiler:The Human Reaper larva]] in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', often called the [[spoiler:Reapernator]] by fans. To make it even scarier, it's ''huge'' (just one eye is bigger around than an adult human) and it's incomplete; basically just a skull, a spine, a ribcage and two handless arms. Nonetheless, it's capable of moving, attacking, and obliterating potential threats with lasers.
* ''VisualNovel/{{Snatcher}}'' features Terminator-like robots. In fact, they looked so much like the Terminator that the localized release had to change their glowing eyes to green to avoid copyright infringement.
* ''VideoGame/TimeSplitters2'' has the Chassisbot, which has one of the smallest frames in the game, making it hard to hit. Fans speculate that is just the chassis of a sentrybot with some additional equipment, which might also explain its sub-par stats.
* The MMORPG ''VideoGame/ToontownOnline'' has Skelecogs in-game which you will most often find in cog factories, during HQ raids, and in high level buildings (but sometimes, also during district invasions). Not only do they look creepier than their regular cogs counterpart (which already hangs around the border of UncannyValley), but they're almost always more powerful as well.
* Dr Nefarious from ''Franchise/RatchetAndClank''.
* Mini-bosses Scurvo and Dreadfuse from ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword'' are [[GhostPirate Pirate]] [=SkeleBots=].
* Phase 1 Dark Troopers in ''VideoGame/DarkForces'' are essentially robot skeletons with a [[BladeBelowTheShoulder vibroblade]] in one arm and a [[LuckilyMyShieldWillProtectMe blast shield]] in the other.
* The ''Videogame/MechWarrior'' series (based on ''Tabletopgame/BattleTech'') often features the Atlas, a [[HumongousMecha 100 ton battlemech]] with a skull-shaped cockpit. ''Mech 4'' in particular emphasizes the skeleton nature, by making the Atlas the tallest and giving it a bone-white head and fists. ''Multiplayer Battletech 3025'' also gave it [[GlowingEyesOfDoom glowing]] [[RedEyesTakeWarning red eyes]]
** The final boss for ''Videogame/MechAssault 2'' is essentially an incomplete HumongousMecha skelebot. The mech has a huge, articulated skull for a head (with moving jaws), and is missing its entire lower torso and legs. Both ''Mechassault'' games likewise feature Atlases similar to the ones in ''MPBT 3025''
* ''Videogame/ContraIIITheAlienWars'' features a giant one named Big Fuzz (or "[[FanNickname Robo-Corpse]]") as a bossfight. It breathes fire, fires homing eye beams and throws time bombs around the room. Eventually it will lose its grip on the doors it was holding open, [[OffWithHisHead cutting off its head.]] Big Fuzz reappears in ''Contra 4'' with the same fire breath attack and this time, you must close the doors on its neck to kill it in similar fashion.
* Boss villain Yaridovich from ''VideoGame/SuperMarioRPG'' is technically an anthropomorphic spear, but his spindly limbs give him a skeletal look.
* The hostile golems in ''VideoGame/{{Phoenotopia}}''.
* The animatronic endoskeletons in ''VideoGame/FiveNightsAtFreddys''.
** Followed by [[spoiler:an Actual Endoskeleton Character (''Animatronic?'') in ''VideoGame/FiveNightsAtFreddys2''. He only appears in 2 rooms, doesn't attack the character, and is a complete mystery.]]
* The Broken Lords of ''Videogame/EndlessLegend'', a society forced to bind their souls to AnimatedArmor to survive the EndlessWinter, typically have simplistic mask-like heads/helmets, but Baron Joslyn Deyval and the Dust Bishops have a skull-shaped head (complete with GlowingEyelightsOfUndeath) and an enormous gaping mouth glowing with their inner [[ImportedAlienPhlebotinum Dust]] light.
* In ''Videogame/{{Fallout 4}}'' the Generation 1 and Gen 2 synths used by The Institute are built with a skeletal frame. Gen [=2s=] have synthetic rubbery skin, while Gen [=1s=] are basically walking, talking, shooting metal skeletons. Since most synths have spend many years in the very unkind environment of the Commonwealth wasteland, the Gen [=2s=] rubber skin is usually flaking off. Generation 3 synths are, for all intents and purposes, [[ArtificialHuman artificial humans]] - completely indistinguishable from your standard organically-grown person unless you cut them open.
* The FinalBoss of the UsefulNotes/ArcadeGame ''Bay Route'' is a HumongousMecha resembling a skeletal head and limbless torso.
* The Skeletron Prime boss in ''VideoGame/{{Terraria}}'' is basically a giant floating robot skull with four skeletal limbs equipped with weapons.
* The [[spoiler:Simon]] animatronic in ''VideoGame/{{POPGOES}}'' is a purple skeleton, presumably possessed by the [[spoiler:Purple Guy of ''Franchise/FiveNightsAtFreddys'']].
* The Murderbots in ''VideoGame/SaintsRowIV''.
* An early boss in ''VideoGame/{{Galerians}}'', [[spoiler:Dr. Lem.]] He seems like a relatively mundane MadDoctor type until an unexpected RoboticReveal mid-boss fight where it turns out he has a Terminator-esque endoskeleton.

* Roofus the Robot's [[http://bobadventures.comicgenesis.com/d/20070512.html unfinished appearance]] in ''Webcomic/TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob.'' His finished form is actually [[http://bobadventures.comicgenesis.com/d/20070515.html fairly hefty.]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* [[WesternAnimation/TheZetaProject Infiltration Unit Zeta]] in the Franchise/{{DCAU}}.
** One episode of ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueUnlimited'' had the league fighting off against a horde of skelebots who looked ''exactly'' like Zeta, only with different heads.
* The "ghost robot" Scared-Stiff in ''WesternAnimation/FilmationsGhostbusters''. However, he might be a subversion, as he's described in fan circles as "a wimpy [[StarWars C-3PO]]".
* Transmutate from WesternAnimation/BeastWars.
* Krang in [[WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2012 the 2012 version of]] ''[[WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles]]'', as opposed to his [[WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles1987 original]] [[FatBastard version]].
* Aku created a whole horde of things like this in the ''WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack'' episode "Samurai versus Samurai", but despite their ghastly appearance, they really weren't much better than the rest of his MechaMooks. (After Jack destroyed them all, the pieces pulled themselves together into a giant junk-monster, but that was only slightly more formidable.)