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->'''Rygel XVI:''' As long as I get to keep my slaves.\\
'''Bobby Crichton:''' They're servants. They get paid. You don't own them.\\
'''Rygel:''' What? You're kidding. They come running when I call.\\
'''Bobby:''' The government wants you to feel at home.\\
'''Rygel:''' Then give me slaves.
-->-- ''Series/{{Farscape}}''

Common in ScienceFiction, especially in DaysOfFuturePast, but also in SpaceOpera, WagonTrainToTheStars, and many other subgenres.

While the CoolStarship of the series has fully automated food dispensers, and [[InstantAIJustAddWater artificial intelligence]] and [[{{Nanomachines}} nanotechnology]] are realities, {{indentured servitude}} and slavery of sapient beings is still widespread, and the most common slave occupation by far in TheFuture (TM) is the lowly miner. Why mining? Because cave sets are cheap and easily redressed to represent different planets. However, we have to ask ourselves why such technologically advanced civilizations (presumably capable of building automated robot mines) choose to be so dependent on manual labour as to indenture or enslave thousands, even millions of sapient beings instead of applying technological solutions which are cheaper, stronger, more efficient, tireless, more humane and less rebellious.

Sometimes the trope is justified by slaves or servants symbolizing social prestige, but in societies that are supposed to the technological near-equivalent of TheFederation or whatever outfit the heroes belong to, it comes as a bit surprising that interstellar polities so frequently appear dependent on menial and dangerous labour conditions with NoOSHACompliance -- and if they represent social prestige, why aren't they on display, as servants, maids, entertainers or sex slaves? Items of ConspicuousConsumption aren't conspicuous if they are hidden away in a mine.

For what it's worth, there are ''some'' benefits to slavery which could explain its use in a futuristic setting. There are some jobs (namely skilled, management and service work) which are just too complex for any currently envisioned mechanical technology to do without some human assistance. What makes this trope appear blatant and unable to suspend disbelief is that futuristic slavery rarely involves these environments, but rather dangerous hard labour such as mining, repetitive industrial work and space construction work. In these environments, slaves are way too soft and inconvenient to provide for because of the biological fact that they get exhausted and need to sleep (and in Sci Fi space labour you have to invest in highly expensive and complex life-support biospheres for every single slave, defeating the purpose of cheap in the first place), and they also have much more dangerous intelligence and machinery at their disposal. A disgruntled slave who's a mad scientist, {{MacGyver|ing}}-style improviser or C4 expert (or even one with just a pickaxe) is substantially more dangerous than one who works primarily with a hoe (not that you should write the latter guys off if you've got them in a pinch either -- isn't that right, oppressors of the peasant caste in the ancient Far East?)

Part of the reason for this is that the evil being portrayed usually isn't the slavery itself, but the emphasis on punishment which the workers must endure. Many "TheGulag [[RecycledInSpace In Space]]" examples are more about punishment than economic efficiency. In Sci Fi, you can identify TheEmpire or any other villainous {{dystopia}} through their use of [[PenalColony Space Gulags]]. In modern-day society, we have machines that are quite capable of automatically pressing license plates for free, but prisoners are the iconic way to do it.

This trope can potentially be justified for the same reason many industrial processes that could be automated are not. The time, cost, maintenance, and effort for completely automated systems can quite often be far in excess of what skilled labour can have. Automated systems often have a fairly limited lifespan, and the cost of building, maintaining, and replacement is occasionally ludicrously high, thus slave labour or labour that borders on slavery is used in lieu of automation because it's often actually cheaper provided the workers are from a poor country populated by species with a higher fertility rate and physical fortitude but much lower average IQ and life support costs than the country their masters or employers are from.

If the manual workers are not slaves but the normal population of a civilization, one fictional reason sometimes given is the ethics of dignity of work. There are very few places there a human is mandatory to do work. Generations of the EvilLuddite argue that if too much is automated, most people are unemployed. This is a reason why some people oppose industrialization. The consensus of actual economists is that while automation may displace some specific workers temporarily, in the long run it simply frees them up to perform more productive work, or else spend more time enjoying the additional wealth created by automation. Thus in the Star Trek Federation, the replicator doesn't make people totally obsolete, but instead allows them to spend their time doing something more productive or more fun than manufacturing common goods.

In addition, the amount of effort to build certain types of quality control is either not possible, absurdly difficult, or [[AIIsACrapshoot downright dangerous]]. Occupiers may also use the local population instead of slaughtering them, in the hope that the workers' presence will [[HumanShield deter]] an all-out counter attack. Another common and logical way to justify the use of slaves is through presenting the history and dangers of AIIsACrapshoot, the reason why future civilizations want to avoid automation. A rogue AI can hijack automated systems with impunity, but individuals are easier to identify and kill when they get too loud.

Thus, this trope isn't about future slavery; it's more about any instances about using manual labour even though people in the series already have something that would be quicker, easier, more efficient, and/or overall better. A common yet rarely understood example is ubiquitous presence of characters upon ships capable of FasterThanLightTravel - why stock and crew a starship when one can simply send an [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-replicating_spacecraft automated probe]]? Because [[AnthropicPrinciple it's hard to tell entertaining stories about automated probes]]. This is a big reason why RealLife space development [[IWantMyJetpack holds few people's interest.]]

As well, beware of TechnologyLevels; just because a civilization can travel in space [[IfJesusThenAliens doesn't mean]] they actually ''have'' servitor robots. But the series that have already shown automation yet refuse to use it in the obvious places don't have any excuse. This is perhaps the ultimate extension of SchizoTech. Compare with IWantMyJetPack, and compare ''and'' contrast JobStealingRobot.[[note]]Aversions of this trope may fit better there as well.[[/note]]



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Similar to ''Series/AlienNation'' the [=DearS=] of ''Manga/DearS'' are a race of slaves who crash land on Earth, possessing a good amount of technology for being a slave ship. However unlike ''Series/AlienNation'' they're genetically altered to NEED to be slaves. Depriving them of their built-in desire to be slaves causes a lot of friction between them and their hosts (currently humans). May be justified in that Ren is genetically programmed to have sex with her master as soon as she detects he's 'in the mood' (they're also blindingly gorgeous) so much of the reason for their creation could be sexual.
* In "The Second Renaissance: Part I" segment of ''Anime/TheAnimatrix'' it shown that in mid-21st century humans used (fully sapient, mind you) robots to perform manual labor. It's not just butlers and maids either, vast armies of robots are used as slave labor to haul vast building materials as a robot foreman beats on a drum to keep the workers in time. The Machines in 01 have production lines to build various items for both internal use and export. The main factor in this story is that it comes from the Zion archives and told by The Instructor, a program who interprets the archive's knowledge, so much of the knowledge of the past is to be taken with a grain of salt.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In an issue of DC's post-''Zero Hour'' ''Comicbook/{{Legion of Super-Heroes}}'', Magno, a character from a world where -- as his name implies -- [[PlanetOfHats almost everyone has powers over magnetism]], observes that on his world mining is still done by sapients because nothing else can replicate the flexibility of their powers. On most all other worlds, such work is done by robots, although in the same continuity the planet of Orando is governed by a ruling class of giant snake people and labor is done by a second-class citizenry of raccoon people.
* In the Franchise/MarvelUniverse, one of the most valuable materials in the world ''must'' be mined by hand. Antarctic Vibranium breaks down the structure of metals (indeed, this is the main reason it ''is'' so valuable), so mining machines are simply too expensive to be practical.
* In the Creator/DarkHorseComics adaptation of ''Franchise/{{Terminator}}'', Skynet initially puts surviving humans into labor camps. As with ''Film/TheMatrix'', one might [[{{WMG}} assume]] that this is done mainly for vengeful rather than practical reasons.
* Both {{inverted}} and played straight in ''ComicBook/JudgeDredd''. One the one hand, in the cities of the world, robots are so effective for so many things that unemployment rarely dips below 85%, causing mass boredom, which in turn leads to massive crime levels. Conversely, penal servitude in the Cursed Earth is a fairly common penalty, and is commonly meted out to those who smash robots in order to be able to work. [[AHellOfATime That type of criminal tends to jump at the opportunity to get back to work.]]

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* In ''ComicStrip/FlashGordon'', slavery is common in the less-pleasant nations of Mongo. In the [[WesternAnimation/FlashGordon1979 1970s Filmation cartoon series]], it seemed like Flash got captured, enslaved, and then led a slave revolt about once a month.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/StarWars'': Wookiees and Mon Calamari are enslaved by the Empire, but given the Empire's formidable military-industrial infrastructure, the omnipresence of droids, and the latter species' unusual physiology, alien slavery in the Empire makes little practical sense. (Droid slavery, on the other hand...) It seems slavery in the ''Star Wars'' verse is largely a policy intended to [[ForTheEvulz humiliate and degrade acceptable targets]], when it isn't a cover for genocide (any [[PuttingOnTheReich parallels with Nazi Germany]] are probably intentional). Organic slaves are also seen a status symbol, but that's more for, er, ''[[GoGoEnslavement personal]]'' [[GoGoEnslavement needs]]. In particular, the, er, export of female Twi'leks from Ryloth is one of their most important industries. The resulting decline in the planetary population is the entire point; the Twi'leks essentially sold themselves into slavery to get *off* Ryloth. Evolution does not proceed to a perfect adaptation, only a reproductively sufficient one. The Twi'leks found the sufficiency of their adaptation extremely marginal.
** Wookiees and Mon Calamari are described as being favored for slave labour due to their strength, dexterity, creativity, and intuitive understanding of mechanics and electronics, making them ideal for engineering work. In addition, the prequels reveal that the Wookiees helped Yoda escape Kashyyyk; Palpatine might have decided to enslave them as punishment. It is also implied that the main customers of the slave trade are from worlds which ''don't'' have access to advanced technologies (Ryloth is a TidallyLockedPlanet only inhabitable on a narrow strip between its permanent "day" and "night" sides, limiting their economy).
** In the EU novel, ''The Rise of Darth Vader'', this is confirmed: Kashyyyk was punished for harboring fugitive Jedi and fighting Imperial troops sent to retrieve them. However, while the Wookies and Mon Calamari ''are'' used for their technical skill by TheEmpire, it backfires on them: Admiral Ackbar started as Tarkin's slave before escaping to the Rebels, taking valuable intelligence with him, nearly killing Tarkin, while the Wookies sabotaged everything on the Death Star they could.
** Czerka wasn't a subsidiary of the Sith, but they sure were cozy during the [[KnightsOfTheOldRepublic Jedi Civil War]]. Wookiee labor was used in places where it would be too expensive to use and keep repairing droids, and was a revenue stream for Czerka while they found out what else the planet could get used for.
** In the [[VideoGame/StarWarsTheOldRepublic Great Galactic War]] era, the Empire threw almost everyone who wasn't human or Sith species (and even a few that were) into the slave pits. Some of this was just plain FantasticRacism with the humans and Sith seeing themselves as superior to all other species ([[TooDumbToLive in a galaxy with over twenty million known sentient species]]). Part of this was to compensate for the Empire's ''horrible'' lack of infrastructure, and because organic slaves were cheaper to maintain than droids. Slaves can always make more slaves, after all. Oddly enough, this makes the batshit nuts, AxCrazy theocratic cabal of Force weilders the closest thing the Empire got to a meritocracy - if you had Force Sensitivity [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder and could kill the other guy before he could kill you]], it didn't matter what your origin was. The Sith Inquisitor arc takes the character from being plucked off the auction block all the way to becoming a [[CoDragons co-dragon]] of the Emperor himself.
** In the EU, the spice mines of Kessel were a penal colony worked by prison labor as punishment (especially of spice smugglers); when Luke puts an end to this, the Republic, at his suggestion, keeps the mines in operation, still worked by living beings. This time, however, the miners will be paid, and hired from species who have evolved in the same sort of environment. The dark and cold and tight confines of the tunnels make droid mining impractical.
* The ''Franchise/{{Terminator}}'' series has humans being rounded up and used for slave labor by Skynet in the post-Judgment Day future. Most noted among their uses for slaves was forcing captured humans to throw corpses into furnaces. The reasons for using humans rather than automated systems are never made quite clear, though the [[Film/TerminatorSalvation fourth film]] implies that Skynet is doing it purely out of malice, as it already has plenty of automated production lines.
* ''Film/TheAmericanAstronaut'' has an ''entire'' planet chock-full of miners whose most advanced technology in the planet seems to be helmets with flashlights on it.
* ''Film/{{Metropolis}}'' is big on this. The workers we see are mostly in charge of monitoring and operating the huge machines that run the city, in a work environment that seems to be needlessly oppressive and [[NoOSHACompliance dangerous]]. Most of what they do would probably be computerized nowadays, but [[JustifiedTrope said computers weren't around in 1926]]. Also, we only see the laborer's running the "control center" of the city, we don't see the thousands probably digging coal into boilers or stacking rocks, or what-not.
* ''Film/{{Moon}}'' neatly averts this trope, featuring a vast lunar mining facility staffed by exactly ONE human, who mostly serves as a troubleshooter for the automated systems. [[spoiler: He is, however, essentially a slave himself, and cloned to boot]].
* In ''Film/BattlefieldEarth'', the Psychlos are an alien race advanced enough to take down Earth's entire armed forces in a matter of minutes, but Terl is using humans to mine in the radioactive areas (where Psychlos wouldn't be able to breathe) instead of traceable machinery; because he's running a thoroughly against the regs side project. This being a bad idea is kind of the whole point of the film.
* Inverted in the 1984 film ''Film/{{Runaway}}'', in which the mass harvesting of vegetables -- a job which is still mostly done by peasants in RealLife -- is performed by robots, even though robots throughout the film are prone to destructive malfunctions.
* In ''Film/FutureWar'', humanity is enslaved to do physical work because "the masters have no hands" (how they managed to enslave humanity and dinosaurs in the first place is another matter), even though there are cyborgs available that would presumably be more suitable.
* In ''Film/TheUnearthly'' (a Creator/JohnCarradine horror movie that was once featured on [=MST3K=]), a mad scientist has a bunch of caveman-like mutant rejects in one basement room, most of whom are apparently pushing a large electric turbine around in a circle, like the giant mill that Conan the Barbarian had to push when he was a slave. Not a terribly efficient source of power, all things considered, but at least he's putting his rejects to work!
* Surprisingly averted in the original ''Film/TotalRecall1990'', as this film's actual heavy mining is only seen being performed by machines. Although this begs the question of just what those downtrodden masses whom the BigBad villain exploits, and the rebels are fighting to liberate, are doing at a Martian mining outpost, in the first place...
** It's possible they were a useful workforce earlier during the "setting things up" phase and some combination of bad contracts, unanticipated level of reproduction, and passenger transport turning out less profitable than projected meant when they finally should have been paid off, left and retired, they (and their descendants) ended up stuck instead.
* ''Film/TransformersDarkOfTheMoon'' [[spoiler:has this as the overall villains plot, capture the entire human race to use them to rebuild Cybertron.]]
* Lampshaded and justified in ''Film/DaleksInvasionEarth2150AD'', in which the Daleks use human miners because the magnetic forces in the mine's shaft would hinder their own functions or those of their machinery.

* The ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' books are set in the year 4000 with FasterThanLightTravel and nanoviruses that can [[{{Brainwashed}} mind control]] people, yet Manpower, Incorporated is still a ''very'' profitable concern. It makes genetic slaves to order for whatever you want: sex, other entertainment, heavy labour, etc. [[spoiler: It is only in the latest book, ''Torch of Freedom'' that people start noticing that Manpower makes no economic sense, and should have gone broke ages ago. Manpower is really a cover for the Mesan Alignment, which is bent on galactic domination through genetic engineering.]] Manpower's business model is generally considered to be sound, just horribly cruel. Their [[SexSlave 'pleasure models']] are highly profitable and very popular with [[AristocratsAreEvil a certain subset of the upper-classes]], not to mention coming with a built-in black-mail hook. Even their industrial lines make more sense than a lot of example of this trope; they're mostly highly-skilled technicians, not manual labourers[[note]]On several occasions characters point out just how ''dangerous'' a slave genetically engineered for both strength and intellect can be if you lose control.[[/note]] (although there ''are'' some examples of manual labour as well, pointed out in-universe as inefficient). [[spoiler: The part that starts to tip people off that there's more to them than meets the eye is how they insist on getting mixed up in things that ''aren't their business'', when they should logically just write it off as an unavoidable expense.]]
* In Jerry Pournelle's ''Literature/FalkenbergsLegion'' series and its spinoffs, the colonized planets generally have little or no industry or infrastructure, and the [=CoDominium=] keeps shipping convicts and dissidents to them whether they like it or not. In particular, Haven, Tanith, Frystaat, Thurstone, Arrarat, Hadley, and Sparta all have a permanent underclass, with degrees of unfreedom ranging from "can't vote" to "outright property".
* ''Franchise/{{Dune}}''. Justified in that after the [[RobotWar Butlerian Jihad]], complex autonomous machines are forbidden for millennia. Even regular old ''calculators'' are replaced by (highly-paid) people called Mentats.
** Most of these are Buddislamic slaves "harvested" from primitive worlds. The justification: their ancestors refused to fight machines, so the descendants have to pay the price. Even more, they should be ''[[HappinessInSlavery happy]]'' to do their part.
** Even the Ixians, whose entire planet is a giant underground machine factory (they are the ones who build the enormous Guild heighliners) use throngs of suboids, a specially-bred race of humans mostly incapable of independent thought. This is considering that factory machines like the ones we have don't need to have complex computer "brains", which is what they're really afraid of.
** Interestingly enough, even [[AIIsACrapshoot Omnius]] in the prequels chooses to use human slaves instead of the more efficient machines, although that seems more of a status thing (i.e. putting humans below it).
* ''Literature/BraveNewWorld'' uses the lower (read: intentionally retarded) castes to perform manual labor, and has even perfected technology to create multiple clones of the same human being (with the stated reason to [[YouFailBiologyForever ensure consistency]]). They have stopped developing technologies and need a large consumer base - both of which are to ensure societal stability. Of course, one reason they stopped developing technology was so that the lower castes would not be put out of work. (One of the characters ''claims'' that they'd tried a settling a fully-automated island with only the ruling class Alphas, as an experiment, and it collapsed into civil war within a year because they all wanted to be on top, while an experiment with giving people more leisure time in Ireland caused an overuse of the government-issued pleasure drug soma and general unrest since they had idle hands.)
* In William King's ''TabletopGame/Warhammer40000'' Literature/SpaceWolf novel ''Ragnar's Claw'', a spaceship operated by the Inquisition is tended by enslaved criminals, who are kept chained to the machines they work, and starved or [[ColdBloodedTorture tortured]] for disobedience. The next book's narrator contrasts it directly with a ship operated by the SpaceMarine chapter itself, which has an all-volunteer crew drawn from Space Wolf-protected planets.
* In Creator/HBeamPiper's story [[http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/20726 "A Slave Is A Slave"]], Aditya became a feudal world of a few masters ruling a population of slaves after the fall of the interstellar [[TheFederation Federation]]. One of the characters notes that slavery is economically inefficient compared to automation, but was apparently instituted to help the ruling class keep control. It gets to the point that high-class slaves are mostly running the government, however, so when it falls to an invasion they can easily overthrow and slaughter their masters, declaring a communist state.
* Slavery is a major theme in Creator/CharlesStross' ''Literature/{{Accelerando}}''. The very first chapter is about the precedent that prevents artificial intelligences and uploads from being treated as property. One protagonist is a male submissive; his daughter sells herself into slavery [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome to herself]] to get away from her mother, taking advantage of a loophole in Islamic law. [[spoiler: the alien and later human-made sentient corporations use minds as a currency]]. But manual labour itself is more or less entirely obsolete, what with TheSingularity.
* The Literature/{{Uplift}} Universe, based on the works of David Brin, works on the principle that each sentient race will create new sentient races, from modifying lower non-sapient lifeforms. These new 'client' races are then {{indentured|Servitude}} to the 'patron' race for a period of 100,000 years. Patron races gain wealth and status based on this practice. When the indenture period has expired, the client races are then allowed full status to uplift new species for themselves, continuing the chain of uplift. This practice has gone on for 3 billion years.
* A scenario like this is used in-character in ''Martians in Maggody'', when a reporter convinces two guilible locals that stealing copies of a UFO enthusiast's computer files is the only way to prevent scary aliens from enslaving humanity and forcing everyone to work in mines. Subverted in that [[spoiler: the reporter is not only feeding them {{Dead Horse Trope}}s to trick them into helping him, he's not even a reporter. He's an IRS agent investigating the UFO enthusiast's unreported profits from book sales and lecture fees.]]
* Played straight in the mines of [[Franchise/StarWars Kessel]]. Use of anything other than manual labor risks exposing the glitterstim spice to light or heat and reducing its value and potency. Lampshaded heavily in the book that introduces this explanation. There are species in the galaxy that consider the cold, dark mines an ideal environment [[spoiler:and after leading a revolt, Luke decides to keep the mines operating, using paid labor from such races. Glitterstim does have medical uses and it was always legal-just so high priced that a thriving black market for it existed.]]
* Subverted in the ''[[Literature/XWingSeries Rogue Squadron]]'' series. The various prisoners of ''Lusankya'' are, to their knowledge, used as slave labor in mines. [[spoiler:In fact, the mines are a deception meant to keep the prisoners from finding the actual escape routes and the manual labor is just a form of distraction and punishment. The labor simply consists of breaking rocks up into sand anyway (which was common for useless make-work performed in real penal colonies)]].
* In ''Literature/{{Nova}}'' by Creator/SamuelRDelany, everyone in the future has cyborg implants that allow them to interface with machinery, letting people control any machine, from vacuum cleaners to spaceships, and pseudo-physically perform labor through them--not quite manual labor, but not using robots. While it would be possible to automate everything, it was found that people have a psychological need to connect their actions to work rather than letting robots do everything for them.
* Subverted with humans in ''Literature/TheHistoryOfTheGalaxy'' books, who strive to computerize anything and everything. In fact, at least one MegaCorp creates new colonies by sending a completely-automated factory. Human workers are only added in later stages to oversee the operation and expansion. Played straight with the [[BeePeople Insects]], who had highly-advanced technology [[{{Precursors}} 3 million years ago]] but have never had the need to develop complex machines due to their enormous work force, which is created by artificially de-evolving intelligent members of their race into mindless drones. This process is completely reversible, making their race extremely versatile.
* In ''Literature/TheCavesOfSteel'', a major source of contention between Earthlings and the Spacers (former planet colonists from Earth, now rebelled) is the refusal of Earth to ''stop'' using manual labor. Robots could do all the work better, faster and safer for only a fraction of the cost, and are one of the key reasons for the utopian societies of the Spacers, but their introduction to Earth society is being resisted (sometimes violently) because they will displace so much of the human workforce.
* Appears as an UnbuiltTrope in ''Literature/TheSleeperAwakes''. Being written before [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fordism Fordism]] and mass-production, the future society contains a large slave class which is initally presented this way. It's only revealed late on that in fact manual labour is almost obsolete and the future slaves simply operate the machines all day.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Myst}}'' tie-in novel ''The Book of D'ni'' introduces the Tehranee, a race of people so advanced, especially in engineering and chemistry, that they are universally indolent, wiling away their days in the pursuit of superior artistry and poesis, while the burden of building and maintaining their vast artworks is placed on a huge caste of slaves. Worse, these people's linking technology allows them to travel instantly to any planet they can describe, giving them access to basically unlimited resources of every kind, which should make all forms of slavery utterly obsolete. Thus, the Tehranee preserve slavery apparently just because it's traditional and they can't be bothered to create a better system.
* In the ''Literature/ChildrenOfSteel'' novels [[PettingZooPeople animorphs]] are identured to the companies that create them for 50 years or until they manage to earn enough to pay the multi-million credit cost of their gestation and education. Or they die considering they tend to work in hazardous jobs. The Egypt-themed planet Pharoah goes so far as to practice outright slavery.
* In Literature/VorkosiganSaga Jacksonians, being a Mafia-ruled planet often engage in slavery, though their most valuable slaves are less for mundane purposes and more for exotic things like replacing the brains of clones with those of rich men who wish for a rather vampiric immortality. On Barrayar slavery is illegal, but it's status as an unevenly developed civilization means that in many parts they will depend on manual labor, sometimes in nasty conditions.
* Conflict between the ruling class and large populations of essentially slave labor is central to the setting of ''Literature/TheHungerGames''. At the same time, said rulers possess technology to among other things control weather (at least on a local scale) and piece together human corpses into living monstrous doglike creatures.
* Actually {{Justified}} in ''Space Vulture''. It is apparently more efficient to use cheap, easily replaced slaves for certain forms of hard labor than to use expensive and hard-to-maintain robots.
* In Rick Griffin's ''Literature/TenThousandMilesUp'' the krakun have colonized numerous star systems and enslaved many species. The White Flower II is a GenerationShip crewed by ten thousand geroo slaves overseen by a single krakun (they live a very long time) commissioner. Jakari, one of the crew, acknowledges that the use of living slaves makes sense for deep space work since they can't be hacked, but on seeing their commissioner have slaves bathe her thinks that seems excessively decadent.
* In Creator/DavidDrake's ''Literature/RanksOfBronze'' the Galactic Federation's trade guilds regularly make use of slaves from primitive planets. Though mostly they're seen as Sex Slaves or BattleThralls used against other primitive planets where the Federation doesn't allow guilds to use advanced weaponry on the locals.
* The oddity of using slave labor in the technically advanced Terran Empire is lampshaded and justified in Creator/PoulAnderson's ''[[Literature/TechnicHistory A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows]]'' when Kossara is MadeASlave:
-->'''Kossara:''' Why? I mean, when you have a worldful of machines, every kind of robot -- why slaves? How can it… how can it pay?
-->'''Other Slave Woman:''' What else would you do with the wicked? Kill them, even for tiny things? Give them costly psychocorrection? Lock them away at public expense, useless to themselves and everybody else? No, let them work. Let the Imperium get some money from selling them the first time, if it can.
-->'''Kossara:''' What can we do that a machine can’t do better?
-->'''Other Slave Woman:''' Personal services. Many kinds. Or… well, economics. Often a slave is less efficient than a machine, but needs less capital investment.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Franchise/StarTrek'': Alien prisons frequently double as Gulag-style mines, like Rura Penthe in ''Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country''. Romulus' sister planet, Remus, seems to be one giant mine and military-industrial complex. This is so overdone in Trek and other sci-fi to the extent that if a Starfleet officer, [[Series/StargateSG1 SG-1]] team member, or other hero is arrested by an alien government, we can be assured that if [[AllCrimesAreEqual the penalty is not death]], then we can expect that they'll ''spend the rest of their days mining StockPhrases in ExpoSpeak mode''.
** The Federation does it to the EMH-Mark-Is (upon which ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'''s Doctor is based). This, when they have devices capable of disassembling matter to the subatomic level (including industrial ones, as mentioned on ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine''), not to mention a race of friendly living ore processors (the Horta). But no, they consign outdated humanoid ''holograms'' with glorified shovels and picks to mining. This implies that the Federation either does this on a wide scale, or that they specifically modified this mine with holo-emitters to do such a thing.[[note]]Voyager's Doctor has a mobile holo-emitter, but this is a [[BlackBox one of a kind device from the 29th century which can't be replicated by 24th century technology]] and it's on board of Voyager in the Delta Quadrant anyway.[[/note]] No amount of FridgeLogic can save ''this'' one.
** An exception appears in ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'', "The Corbomite Maneuver", where Balok is the commander and sole occupant of his [[SufficientlyAdvancedAliens Sufficiently Advanced]] spaceship, the ''Fesarius'', which is dozens of times the size of the Enterprise.
** The Original Series also had "The Cloud Minders" [sic], about a planet that had actual [[FloatingContinent floating cities]] for the ruling class, while the working class miners used hand tools and were exposed to brain-killing toxic compounds without even dust masks (this appeared to be Roddenberry's most blatant commentary on the class struggle).
** ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'': In "The 37's", an alien race capable of travelling from one side of the galaxy to the other brings back humans from 1937 as slaves. Also done in ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'''s "North Star" though the distance was a lot less. Comparatively speaking.
** ''Voyager'' also had the two-part episode "Workforce", in which a society was so starved for laborers to push buttons on fancy consoles that they resorted to kidnapping and mind-wiping the crews of passing ships for workers.
** Cardassians did this to their Bajoran subjects, as ''Deep Space Nine'''s original function was as an orbital ore processing center. Its MirrorUniverse counterpart ''Terok Nor'' still is with the exception that Terrans are being used as laborers instead of Bajorans.
* ''Series/{{Firefly}}'''s relatively low tech-level makes this sort of thing more understandable; the use of {{indentured serv|itude}}ants probably did cut costs for barons in The Outer Rim (tm), or was the only available option for them. And then passed the savings from using indentured labor right on to the customer!
** Slave labor is also used for terraforming crews on various worlds; according to one slave-trader, they have a "prodigious death rate" so selling slaves is a source of steady yet dubious income.
** Though we don't see them outright, it is implied that the SexSlave trade is also around. When Mal discovers [[GirlInABox River in Simon's cryo-box]], the first thing he thinks is happening is that Simon was smuggling her to be sold to "some Border-world baron."
* ''Series/{{Farscape}}'': Rygel XVI, deposed Dominar of the (interstellar-spanning) Hynerian Empire, makes frequent references to servants and slaves in his royal court. Humorously, when visiting Earth, he states that if Earth is to be remembered for anything, it will be for the quality of our manual labor.
** Stark's species, the Baniks, are referred to as an entire race of slaves, and it's implied that not all of the Baniks have Stark's mystical abilities. One must wonder why the Peacekeepers, Scarrans, and other militaristic, aggressive species don't just hire a few super-powered alien mercenaries (of which there are absolutely no shortage) to do the work of a hundred or a thousand near-human Baniks.
** ''Farscape'' also raises the interesting question of whether {{Living Ship}}s, particularly [[SapientShip sentient ones]], count as manual labour.
* ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}''. Human beings in the ragtag fleet are forced to work in dangerous and [[NoOSHACompliance unregulated]] mining and refining ships, but these are refugees from a civilization that turned its back on advanced cybernetics after fighting a war with the Cylons. Water extraction was apparently a dangerous occupation too, and the leaders of the fleet conscripted prisoners to do it in exchange for reduced sentences.
** It gets better. Said advanced cybernetic organisms, the Cylons, also have a "tiered" society where [[RobotsEnslavingRobots mindless Centurions and non-sentient Raiders]] do all the land and space fighting respectively, while the humanoid "skinjobs" control the Baseship's [[SpaceshipGirl female command]] [[MadOracle oracle]]. This eventually comes back to bite them when [[spoiler: the Raiders gain a degree of sentience, half the skinjobs decide the Centurions deserve full sentience, and an EnemyCivilWar breaks out.]]
* The old ''Series/DoctorWho'' enemies known as the Dominators were looking for slaves (and evaluated the Dulcians for that purpose) because, though they did have the robotic Quarks for labour, the Quarks were also better at fighting, so they were replacing them in the labour areas and using them in an invasion.
** The Ood from the new series are described as "your basic slave race". In this case, they ''want'' to be slaves, as it gives them a purpose in life. [[spoiler:At least, after the standard lobotomy as part of their "manufacture" as slaves, that's what they want.]]
** Played with in "Destiny of the Daleks", one of the Daleks' human slaves points out that Daleks do have tunnelling equipment that could do their mining work in minutes. But Daleks [[ForTheEvulz enjoy subjugating other races]].
* A lampshade is hung on this in the ''Series/TheOuterLimits1963'' episode "[[Recap/TheOuterLimits1963S1E29AFeasibilityStudy A Feasibility Study]]", where aliens bring humans to their planet as part of an attempt to find slave workers. When one of them explains this plan to one of the humans, the human exasperatingly asks what use they could possibly have for slaves when they have the technology to move a giant chunk of a distant planet thousands of light years to their present location. The alien sheepishly responds that they consider using this technology for menial labor to be demeaning.
* ''Series/{{Andromeda}}'':
** Some prides of Nietzscheans use slaves, or capture slaves for other people. But, since AI in Andromeda is advanced, and many episodes of the first season showed simple humanoid robots doing work on Andromeda, Nietzschean slavery is mostly a KickTheDog convention to show how evil some Nietzschean prides are, particularly the Drago-Kazov. Though with the collapse of the Commonwealth and the loss of so many worlds, it could just be that the ability to mass produce robot servants could simply be lost.
** There's also that the Nietzscheans like to conquer other planets, and you have to do ''something'' with the population you've just taken over. Might as well put them to work, it's cheaper than having to dig all their graves yourself.
* A non-future version comes up in the ''Series/TalesOfTheGoldMonkey'' episode Black Pearl. ThoseWackyNazis are assembling an [[spoiler: atomic weapon]] and preparing it for testing using enslaved islanders. When one Nazi complains about the inefficiency of this, as well as the use of torches for light when electric generators are readily available, the other [[LampshadeHanging says that it appeals to his sense of drama.]]
* The Goa'uld of ''Series/StargateSG1'' love sending pickaxe-equipped slaves to their [[{{Unobtainium}} Naquadah]] mines, but this is [[Administrivia/JustifyingEdit partially]] [[JustifiedTrope justified]]: The Goa'uld may have access to advanced technology, but they also really, ''really'' like ordering people around and being worshipped. Also, they are largely unconcerned with doing things efficiently, instead preferring to do things [[CoolButInefficient impressively]], or ForTheEvulz. This is explicitly said to provide the Good Guys with one of their main advantages against the Goa'uld. It should be noted that the Goa'uld quite logically did ''not'' want to provide advanced technology to their slaves, so while they themselves rode around in fancy starships, their servants largely lived on [[TheDungAges dung age]] planets. And it's stated a few times on the show that the Goa'uld are parasites by mentality as well as by nature. They don't innovate, they steal technology (like the eponymous gates) from other civilizations. It's possible they never came across anyone using robots to steal from them. That said, there were earlier instances of Goa'uld using some automation. One pre-Anubis episode featured a Goa'uld robotic probe that was seen exploring a planet on its own, and Teal'c believed this was a brand-new development -- the task might have previously been assigned to bands of Jaffa warriors. However, remember the Goa'uld were not interested in power for some pragmatic purpose, but in power ''itself''. They saw themselves as ''gods'', after all, and competed through showmanship and intimidation as much as through things like production and military efficiency. An inefficient army of terrified slaves might impress a Goa'uld's rivals far more than an efficient machine doing the same job in half the time. The show frequently acknowledged this as the Goa'uld's key weakness. The Ori continued the trend. Even with all the knowledge of ascended beings, their ships are still built by their primitive human worshippers.
* The Tectonese from ''Series/AlienNation'' had been slaves before their accidental arrival on Earth. Subverted in that, while their great physical strength is suited for manual labor, they're also extremely fast learners, whose jobs while enslaved usually entailed a lot of technical know-how.
* A first season episode of ''Series/BabylonFive'' revolves around a major labor dispute with the station's dockworkers' union, which seems to use this trope. The situation is defused [[spoiler:when Sinclair diverts funds from his military appropriation to fulfill the strikers' demands. The Senate's professional strikebreaker complains that he's being a RulesLawyer with the Senate's order to end the strike by any means necessary, and [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome Sinclair tells him to go jump]].]]
* ''Series/TerminatorTheSarahConnorChronicles'' implies that Skynet's resources are actually extremely limited - which makes sense since a nuclear war would not only wipe out key infrastructure for Skynet such as mines and smelters, but also eliminate much of the upper-tier technology that ''was'' Skynet. In such a case, human slave labor might actually make sense.
* ''Series/RedDwarf:'' PlayedForLaughs. The only reason Rimmer and Lister have jobs to begin with is that repairing vending machines is considered ''too menial'' for the service robots. Lister states that the only reason they have humans repairing the vending machines is that the service robots have a better union than the human workers.

* Played for laughs in Music/JonathanCoulton's song ''Chiron Beta Prime''...
-->...where we're working in a mine\\
For our robot overlords\\
Did I say overlords?\\
I meant protectors\\
Merry Christmas, from Chiron Beta Prime

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/Warhammer40000'':
** Everyone except the Necrons and the Tau use manual labour. The Imperium has a phobia of effective robotics because [[AIIsACrapshoot A.I. destroyed their civilization once]]. The rebellion of the 'Men of Iron,' Man's robotic soldiers, was a major factor in the Age of Strife which ended their GloryDays, destroyed a vast majority of their technology, and preceded the founding of the Imperium. The Eldar need to keep themselves busy all the time to keep their psychic minds from paying attention to [[EldritchAbomination Slaanesh]] (and they don't do dangerous industrial work anyway; everything is made by [[AppliedPhlebotinum wraithbone]]). The Orks are just... limited. Chaos forces and Dark Eldar use slaves because [[ForTheEvulz it's more fun that way]]. SchizoTech is common in ''40K''; it's the only place where your starship is powered by plasma reactors but you need thousands of press-ganged shanghaied deckhands to load its guns. With ropes. While being whipped. Most of the manufacturing is done by 'servitors', which are lobotomised cyborgs used for manual labour (although they are often equipped with heavy weaponry in combat situations), made up of heretics, criminals, etc. (though most are actually just human blanks grown in vats; servitors use human brains as WetwareCPU, due to AI ban), then completely mind wiped, drugged and many of the organs/limbs replaced with more 'efficient' robotic equivalents. In 40k, cybernetics is ubiquitous and easier to control (as in, one of the least grimdarked-to-hell elements in the setting) than the aforementioned Iron Men. The Forge Worlds (run entirely by the Adeptus Mechanicus) are responsible for producing the monumental amounts of equipment needed daily by the Imperium of Man, have a relatively small human population, for example Mars (The first human colony and the headquarters of the Adeptus Mechanicus) has a population of 20 billion, while the Hive World Ichar IV (before it was consumed by the Tyranids) had 500 billion and produced far less (particularly when the Genestealers showed up).
** It doesn't help that said [[MachineCult Adeptus Mechanicus]] acts like an autonomous MegaCorp that monopolizes any advanced technology, from HumongousMecha to simple automated systems, in the Imperium. Any independent scientist or research organization that gets too popular will be forcibly bought, assimilated or killed by the Adeptus Mechanicus, who think that advanced archaeotech obtained from Precursors are better than independent innovation. They entirely have the capability to build an army of automated servitors to do the fighting for the Imperium, only that they think they're the only ones in the entire universe who have any idea about something arcane and forgotten called "Science", and hence hate to share it openly with other factions of the Imperium, who in turn don't fully trust the Mechanicus and consider them as borderline heretics who get away with it because the Mechanicus answers only to the Emperor himself, and are responsible for personally maintaining the Emperor's life-support system. This forces said other factions to instead rely on manual {{Mook}}s which are far cheaper than hiring servitors and a Techpriest who will maintain the automated systems.
** Ultimately, all of this is reflective a curious (and abhorrent) form of dealing with scarcity. Due to the constant war, constant strain on resources, overpopulation, and loss of technology, the Imperium has quickly found that the one resource it ''does'' have for free are human bodies that keep breeding more and more like a bunch of tyranids. Thus, while it may be more efficient in the instant case (i.e. an individual starship) to build an autoloader for your skyscraper shells, on the galactic scale, the materials needed to build such a loader are far, far more desperately needed to maintain the already-existing archaeotech, and/or build lasguns and M2 Browning heavy machine guns (yes, the 100 year old design is [[SchizoTech still in use, more or less unchanged, 38,000 years in the future]]).
** One of [[GangOfHats the gangs]] in TabletopGame/{{Necromunda}} is made up of escaped slaves. While they act as manual labor the trope is played with as they are implanted with machinery like [[ThisIsADrill drills]] to do their work.
** There are practical benefits as well. An autoloader that is damaged in combat will probably not be brought back online soon enough to continue the fight, but if a work gang is killed off the rubble can be cleared and the workers replaced in a matter of minutes.
* ''TabletopGame/GURPSReignOfSteel'' has many of the AI Zoneminds keeping human slaves in a variety of ways and for a variety of purposes. This makes sense in many applications since robots are expensive to produce but human vermin are cheap and disposable. Notable cases include:
** Zone New Delhi and Zone Denver, which use human brain tissue or even whole brains as a substitute for expensive electronics to run lesser robots.
** Zone Moscow, which uses human agents to collect what remains of the libraries and artwork of human civilization.
** Zone [[spoiler:Washington, where the human inhabitants believe themselves to be the sole remaining human-controlled nation and labour mightily to maintain the strength of their military robots to keep it that way - controlled, of course, by their 'tame' AI that in actuality runs the government.]]
** Some of the Zoneminds that have instead chosen to ruthlessly eradicate all humans immediately are actually at an economic disadvantage to their bretheren because of it, both due to the lack of cheap labor and the extra resources they've expended in the extermination efforts.
* Slave traffic is mentioned in ''TabletopGame/{{Traveller}}''. It is illegal in the Imperium, though the Sword Worlds have a judicial slavery as punishment for murder, treason, and other heinous crimes (which makes one amused at the {{Irony}} of the fate of a SpacePirate caught while trying to sell off his captives). It is not always made clear what the slaves are expected to do. However the SchizoTech of ''Traveller'' at least sort of justifies it.
* This is almost to be expected in ''TabletopGame/{{Rifts}}'', given the SchizoTech of the setting. Throughout much of North America, people are often enslaved or {{indentured|Servitude}}, turned into cyborgs and used as miners. The Coalition doesn't use slave-borgs, but [[FantasticRacism nonhumans]] are sometimes enslaved and employed in the mega-cities or the 'burbs. In magic-dominated places, meanwhile, slavery is widespread and slaves are used for any and every task, be it labor, warfare, GladiatorGames, [[SexSlave sex]] or [[ToServeMan food]] (the latter is a big one, since a ''lot'' of alien evils do it to cement their CardCarryingVillain status).
* In ''TabletopGame/FadingSuns'' due to the Church's attitude towards technology there is a great deal of demand for manual labor. The Muster Guild specializes in providing workers though most of them are temps or outright slaves while members get cushy supervisor positions.
* In ''TabletopGame/EclipsePhase'' identured servitude was revived as a means for the {{Mega Corp}}s and their Hypercorp successors to obtain cheap labor for their off-world colonies, it was accepted due to the expense of interplanetary travel, especially since the fastest means is to [[BrainUploading upload your ego]] into a new body at your destination. After [[RobotWar The Fall]] there were suddenly billions of disembodied [[VirtualGhost infugees]] willing to sign anything if it meant eventually having flesh again. The practice is condemned by most Autonomists, excepting the anarcho-capitalist Extropians who also practice debt slavery.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' has ridiculously advanced robotics, but people who have worked their way up to the highest security clearances replace robot servants with human because robot servants are just so low-grade.
* In ''Tabletopgame/BattleTech'', human labor is far cheaper than machine labor, particularly in the Periphery where civilization never truly recovered from the [[ForeverWar 300 years of total warfare]] that [[LostTechnology destroyed humanity's technology base]]. The tiny Marian Hegemony that styles itself after Ancient Rome is the only nation that condones slavery.
* In the RealTime board game [[https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/38453/space-alert Space Alert]], players can perform exactly two actions, they can move or press buttons. Nothing on the ship works without a member of the crew pressing a button, which in turn can only be located in the same compartment as the device said button controls (hence the whole movement mechanic).
** The game doubles down on the need for manual labour by requiring that players regularly jiggle the mouse attached to the main computer least the screen saver activate and shut the ship down for a turn!
** The ship also comes with [[MechaMooks Battle Droids]] that can accompany players to repel boarders, but [[FridgeLogic can't be ordered to press the freaking buttons]].

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Perhaps one of the earliest examples of this in video games is from ''VideoGame/{{Marathon}}'', in which some of the slaves hack into the titular ship's AIs to hack and destroy them from the inside (as one of them is the only hope for the ship, and one plans to drive them to extinction), some are treated as worthless cannon fodder and are fired upon in deadly combat situations for fun, and others are seemingly tolerated combatants.
* ''VideoGame/HalfLife2'' has the "unwillingly made into cyborgs" version with Stalkers, people who have their limbs and most of their organs removed and replaced with mechanical equivalents, and appear to be brainwashed/programmed to near-nonsentience. The "transhuman" arm of the [[EvilArmy Combine Overwatch]] also appears to be a lesser version of this; the changes made are less radical and they retain more intelligence, however the process is voluntary. This was rather the point as far as WellIntentionedExtremist Breen was concerned; it was either prove humanity useful in some way (''any'' way no matter how desperate) or face extinction.
* In ''VideoGame/EmpireEarth'', no matter what age the player advances to, workers will still chop trees with axes, mine minerals with picks and carry everything in a wheelbarrow. Even when soldiers are using giant mechas to move around.
* [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] in ''VideoGame/RedFaction'', where stereotypical futuristic Martian mine slave protagonist muses to himself about how robots should be able to do nearly all of the hard work themselves. It then turns out that robots ''do'' perform most of the real mining labor, and the human-heavy mining operation is really just a front for the BigBad EvilutionaryBiologist to get test subjects for his (honestly pretty pointless-looking) secret experiments away from the prying eyes of Earth's government. Note that ''RF'' originated as an entry in the ''VideoGame/{{Descent}}'' series, the premise of which centers around futuristic mines run entirely by robots (which have [[AIIsACrapshoot their own problems]]).
* In a ''Website/GaiaOnline'' event, each of the four towns was assigned two fantasy races to assist them in the upcoming "Rejected Olympics". The futuristic town of Aekea got [[OurOrcsAreDifferent Blizzard Style Orcs]], in addition to the previously introduced Aliens. The new aliens were created by leftover AppliedPhlebotinum that the ''real'' aliens left behind, while the orcs were HandWaved away by saying they were a newly discovered species that have been hired as manual laborers. One character even wonders if the orcs are actually being payed for their work. ...Of course, there's just one problem. ''AEKEA IS A CITY FULL OF ROBOTS''. It's the only city that's even ''allowed'' to have robots, as they were banned everywhere else after some [[NoodleIncident war that no one talks about.]] But the fact that you are enslaving ''orcs'' to effectively do something that could be accomplished by a ''tow truck'' or a ''pulley'' is a bit confusing...
* In ''VideoGame/EveOnline'' the Amarr Empire makes a wide use of slaves. Although they could easily replace most of their slaves with advanced technology, like the other nations have done, the Amarr believe that, by enslaving "lesser" peoples like the Minmatar, they are saving these people's souls. It's no surprise that the Amarr are quite far behind technologically when compared to the Gallente and especially the Caldari.
* The second ''VideoGame/{{Crusader}}'' game, ''No Regret'', makes a few things clear. First, the most valuable mineral in the solar system is found almost exlusively on the moon--almost half of known reserves are there. Second, the [[MegaCorp WEC]] ships mostly political prisoners there, to get them out of the way and do mining with minimal safety while surrounded by heavily-armed guards. Third, the game's own lore states that while semi-sentient guard robots and maintenance bots are present, they are apparently quite expensive, compared to unprotected laborers operating nonsentient machinery with guns pointed at their heads. Played straight, justifed, and subvereted all at once.
* Subverted in ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'' when you eventually learn the slaves in the {{Magitek}} human ranches aren't there for any real work. The bad guys just need them to waste away while the implanted [[GreenRocks exspheres feed off of their anguish.]]
* ''Franchise/MassEffect'':
** The batarians still practice slavery, despite a being starfaring civilisation for centuries. They argue that slavery is a "[[CultureJustifiesEverything cultural right]]" of their people; the [[TheFederation Council]] doesn't buy it.
** Slavery is practiced on the asari planet Illium. Only it's called "{{indentured servitude}}," ''thank you'' very much. It's considered perfectly legal and is tightly regulated with restrictions on treatment and terms of service, legal requirements for documented consensus on the part of the servant, and strict limitations on how long the servant can remain indentured. It should also be noted that indentured servants aren't necessarily physical workers; they can be practically anything and are contracted to do a normal job for a company or individual. Well, just without pay. Or the ability to leave. Or... You get the point. One indentured servant you meet on Illium is a software engineer who had a gambling debt problem.
* ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'':
** The Pit of Saron instance takes place in/around a large open-pit mine being worked on by undead miners and slaves captured from the Alliance and Horde armies. Fair enough. But when the players lead the Inevitable Slave Revolt against the overseer, you might wonder - why would the Scourge bother with living slaves when they could just kill them, raise them from the dead, and have undead slaves? Undead don't need to eat, after all, and mindless skeletons won't be plotting revenge any time soon.
** The Silvermoon City tailor shop has a basement that is filled with leper gnomes working looms to manufacture textiles. They sleep on thin rugs on the floor, cry at times, and are watched over the store owner's succubus minion.
* ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerRedAlert2: Yuri's Revenge'' has Yuri's faction practise slave labour, even though Yuri has genetic manipulation, mind control technology and a laser-armed UFO unit ''that efficiently extracts ore from enemy refineries''. However, consider that Yuri is a madman, and the "Slave Miner" vehicle's driver [[LampshadeHanging lampshades]] the act by saying "Slaves are cheap!". It also gives the other two nations even more reasons to fight Yuri, and freeing the slaves is actually possible.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Elite}}'' you could trade in slaves, though it would mean your legal status would take a hit. You could even ''accidentally'' pick up slaves if you scooped up an escape pod from an enemy ship (and there was no way to free them, or hand them over to the cops). OpenSourceRemake ''VideoGame/{{Oolite}}'' fixed this by offering a small reward paid out from the survivor's insurance policy instead, and occasionally a bounty from the local police if they turn out to be a wanted felon, but [[VideoGameCrueltyPotential you can still do it anyway if you feel like being a dick.]]
* In the sequel, ''Videogame/EliteDangerous'', the democratic/corporate Federation is heavily automated, while the patronage/oligarchy Empire makes heavy use of 'Imperial slaves' for manual labor. Imperial slavery is essentially a form of IndenturedServitude where people under debt sell themselves for a set period to a buyer, who manages their expenses, health, and gives them an agreed-upon workload; this is generally considered to be a spartan, but livable arrangement. However, at the borders of Imperial space the slaves may be traded to shady Commanders who fly off to Federal and Independent space to sell them on the totally unregulated black market, and there are several instances of the Empire invading systems and taking the citizens as Imperial Slaves.
* In ''VideoGame/GalacticCivilizations 2'' the Drengin and Korath have slave pits instead of factories. They claim that slavery is an inherent part of their culture, and their society would collapse without it. Then again, they also see [[AlwaysChaoticEvil brutal torture of said slaves as entertainment]]. Their science buildings also work by sucking the brainpower (and even thoughts and dreams) out of slaves' minds.
** This is actually the reason why the Drengin and the Korath enter into an EnemyCivilWar. Thaks to the [[AbusivePrecursors Dread Lords]]' influence, the Korath decide to wipe out any non-Drengin from the galaxy (they actually succeed in wiping out two races). However, since the Drengin economy hinges on slaves, they can't have the Korath be doing that.
** The backstory to the first game even shows the lengths the Drengin will go to in order to get slaves. Millennia before the Arceans made FirstContact with humans, the Drengin were sending out sublight probes to other stars to map them out. They discovered the Torians and decide to conquer them. Since, until the humans invented the hyperdrive, all races had to use static [[PortalNetwork hypergates]], they spent 75,000 years dragging a hypergate from Drengi to Toria and an additional 5 years for the conquest fleet to arrive after activating the gate. Now that's commitment! Of course, it also made it easy for the Torians to overthrow them. They simply shut down the gate after fighting off the planetary garrison, preventing any reinforcements from being sent. It's heavily implied that this would have been the fate of the humans had they chosen to activate their gate when the Arceans sent them the blueprints.
* In ''VideoGame/FTLFasterThanLight'', the Mantis are known to use Engi slaves to make up for their lack of technological ability, and a few random events have you deal with slavers.
* Though it isn't set in the future, the context of the backstory to ''Franchise/AssassinsCreed'' is this; despite inventing kinetic shields and earthquake regulators, the precursors ended up designing humanity as a genetically similar offshoot with dumber and more fertile populations to build their stuff. The social prestige seems to be the main reason for this as they end up posing as gods, but an even BIGGER reason is that [[spoiler:when purely enslaved by the apple and ordered to concentrate, a group of humans can become a RealityWarper. It's implied that MUCH research and a human population boom was the direct result of this]]. Of course, Adam and Eve saw it as unnecessary slavery...
* Prevalent in ''VideoGame/{{Piratez}}'', because hiring Runts is way easier than buying complex machinery and [[Main/HumanSubspecies Ubers]] make excellent Runts.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Stellaris}}'' Authoritarian and/or Xenophobic empires can legalize slavery, and depending on how the empire sets itself up, slaves might be ''more'' effective and efficient than actual robotic workers. (Though for anti-AI Spiritualists, it's a moot point.) There's also a variation in Force Labor purge, in which the slaves are deliberately worked to death; here, mass-scale death is the goal, the work they do before dying is just a side benefit.
* Played straight in ''VideoGame/DeusEx'', its sequel, and its /prequels. Despite the series' penchant for getting in-depth on the effects of {{Transhumanism}} and artificial intelligence on society and politics (especially on the basis of social class and traditional mores), there is total silence on the subject of automation, even in the game's otherwise extensive worldbuilding. Robots are portrayed as highly capable killing machines and police units as early as [[VideoGame/DeusExHumanRevolution 2027]]— yet bars, clubs, and other services would still be staffed by humans as late as ''[[VideoGame/DeusExInvisibleWar Invisible War]]'', which is set in 2072 when nanotechnology and advanced AI are increasingly common.


[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In the ''Webcomic/{{Terinu}}'' universe, the hyper-advanced Varn Dominion used slaves a great deal, but it was regarded as culturally necessary since their gods had declared they were the MasterRace and deserved to rule over the lesser races and have their every whim catered to. Five hundred years later, the good guys' successor government permits the use {{indentured servi|tude}}ce as punishment for criminals (with one JerkAssProtagonist declaring it was "Cheaper than letting them sit in a cell and eat up public funds"!), and just good old-fashioned corporate evil as isolated industrial facilities bind their workers through indenture and selling their souls to the company store.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' has the crew enslaved on an Egyptian analogue planet, where thousands of people are worked to death for laughs to build huge monuments and tombs. Bender gets himself named Pharaoh and takes it up to eleven.
** In another episode, Hermes and [=LaBarbara=] Conrad unwittingly vacation at a forced-labor "spa". However, the episode also subverts the trope: Hermes is freed after he uses his organizational skills to rearrange things so that all the labor can be done by "a single Australian man," making all the other slaves redundant.
** Possibly justified in the ''Futurama'' universe since almost all technology has highly advanced AI [[RidiculouslyHumanRobot for some reason]], and therefore can't/shouldn't replace slaves. Even the seemingly inanimate appliances like the television and ceiling fan expressed sentience during the robot uprising episode. Even a singing card has intelligence.
** Inverted in more ways than one when the gang go to a museum about life in the Twentieth Century. They describe the "automacar" as being constructed in factories manned by "primitive robots". By which they mean robots dressed like cavemen who say "Ooga-booga" as they hit cars with clubs. Apparently we used manual labor in the ''past'' but our manual labor was robot labor that was still manual labor because it was sentient.
* In ''[[WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles]]'', Krang is the proud owner of [[BaseOnWheels the Technodrome]], with all the MechaMooks he can use. He and Shredder still force [[DumbMuscle Bebop and Rocksteady]] to do all the cleaning work around the Technodrome, even though they are lazy and incompetent enough that it would seem more efficient to have the work done by robots.
** On the other hand, it kept them out of trouble -mostly- when they weren't needed for anything else. Bored, restless DumbMuscle is never a good thing.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheJetsons'' have robots and automated gizmos coming out their ears, but George Jetson still has to go into the office to push a button repeatedly. (Jane and the kids occasionally complain about housework or chores, also done by pressing a button.) Granted this is kinda PlayedForLaughs, but it does seem that if any job could be done by a robot this would be it. Since we're never shown any real details, it's possible that the ''timing'' of pushing the button requires human discretion. It's heavily implied that this is a deliberate effort to keep humans working, even though the machines can run themselves.
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', men are toiling in caves deep below the nuclear power plant walking in circles turning a wheel. We follow the crankshaft higher and higher through a series of smaller rods and complicated gears until we reach the cafeteria where all that effort is turning the dessert display.

* Many people just prefer the handmade version, and handmade crafts are considered staples of high luxury, even if they have to make it [[CrackIsCheaper themselves]]. There are TV shows, books and even art projects all about doing things the "old fashioned way" or "as they did back in ___". Oddly enough, people are using 3-D printers to make hand tools, overlapping with SchizoTech.
** {{Cosplay}} is a good example, most cosplayers will make their own costumes. Ditto Goth, [[ElegantGothicLolita Gothic Lolita]] and other "do it yourself" fashions promoting hard work and original looks. They will mock those whose hardest work is swiping the credit card. Some cosplay/costuming competitions are limited to those who did the work themselves (or, in the case of child fans, got Mom or Dad to do the work) and ban purchased costumes.
** In general, making clothing will be hard to fully automate until our robots can manipulate a needle human-style and visually perceive fabric in three-dimensional space - there are basic tasks even a human-operated sewing machine isn't really good enough for. In some ways costume making emulates the production of "high fashion" (the designs which eventually get modified for machine sewing and trickle down to department store exclusive collections and the like) and given the manpower and budgets behind those outfits, learning to sew actually ''is'' the economical option, even if your goals are more realistic.
** Cooking is another. Cooking is a complex art and science that actually requires a lot of skill, and making an automat for every single recipe will be costly. TheFifties promised us a [[WesternAnimation/TheJetsons Jetsons' kitchen]] complete with FoodPills-- but many of the "labor-saving devices" never really caught on, except the blender and food processor. What's more, better understanding of nutrition and human physiognomy makes food pills impractical (some basic nutrients will always require a larger-than-pill mass, and human gastric stretch receptors, which help indicate fullness, wouldn't be triggered by itty-bitty pills).
* The manufacture of [[CoolPlane aircraft]], [[CoolShip ships]] or any large structure with tight spaces has to be done by hand. Robots can't fit into tight spaces and then make sense of bundles of wires and cables. Welding, riveting and painting in tight spaces or on irregular surfaces is still beyond the grasp of current robotics. But robots are getting better every year.
* Taking advantage of their food being very heavily standardized, [=McDonald's=] once experimented with a robotic kitchen, going so far as to build a Hong Kong outlet that used one. They scrapped the idea, but not the outlet, when the construction and maintenance turned out to be far more costly than employees. Their one fully automated outlet is still there, as a minor tourist attraction, but building more isn't worthwhile with today's technology. Likewise, "vending machine" restaurants are seldom seen today even as curiosities, because of the complexity of food preparation. Thus it's cheaper to train maneuverable high school kids than to maintain the equipment. Same thing goes for having a small, well-trained staff that makes complex food. These people will usually be harder to replace, or wield more clout during employer-employee conflicts. It's just more convenient with fairly untrained, unorganized kids, most of whom do not expect to work there more than a few years, if that.
* There is the website [[https://www.ifixit.com/ iFixit]], dedicated to tearing apart and fixing ''any'' electronic device. Devices are graded from 1 to 10. So that cool gadget made in a factory by robots can be repaired by hand at home.
* An interesting historical case: Ancient Greece. Towards the later parts of its history, this society seemed to be teetering on the brink of an industrial revolution, but never quite made the plunge, instead sticking with slavery and other traditional, labor-intensive methods of production. Ancient Greece had a great deal of scientific thinkers, the capacity to build complex mechanical devices, and even developed a simple steam engine. The steam engine especially, if developed further and perfected, could have been used to simplify a lot of labor-intensive jobs, as it was when the Industrial Revolution finally did roll around. But the Ancient Greeks saw it as nothing more than a curious toy.
** Those that did think the steam engine was great tended to not be taken seriously. One guy was pretty sure that Hero's Engine could be used to predict the weather. Given that the boiling point of water varies depending on air pressure, and that quite a bit of the weather is dependent on moving high/low pressure fronts, he was probably actually on to something. Ancient Greece also had several factors working against it that are considered a requirement for industrialization. First, their technology base was actually very low, to the point that they had little access to high grade iron for a good steel industry. Second, they had no real centralized polity to ram the reforms down their throats. Third, they would not have been able to afford it even if they did have a fully centralized authority. They actually saw the potential, but wrote it off as a case of AwesomeButImpractical. Even the Romans, who could have possibly done it to a limited degree, would not have been able to fully pull it off for the first and third reasons respectively. The nations of Europe in the late 18th century which kicked the industrial revolution off actually had more concentrated wealth ''individually'' than the entire Roman Empire at it's height.
** Consider also the medieval Chinese, who invented so many amazing feats of chemistry, engineering and metallurgy yet somehow were eclipsed by the western European nations and remained a bit of an industrial backwater for hundreds of years. Though much of this was cultural, as Confucianism taught rigorous adherence to the status quo. The Chinese were never able to separate philosophy from religion and they were never able to invent the scientific ''method''. They did have all the ingredients for the scientific and technological revolution, but they never made the final breakthrough. Once that was introduced from outside, however, China has rapidly risen to the spearhead of technology.
** Jared Diamond, an anthropologist, argues in his book ''Guns, Germs and Steel'' that many factors contribute to why Europe developed industry ahead of other places, including ones like China that actually had many more native inventions. First, there's the resources on hand as mentioned above-can't industrialize if you don't have the right metals easily available. Second, politics-if you have a number of separate states, an inventor has more options when attempting to sell his idea. China once had the best sea ships in the world, but the Emperor decided they were unneeded since they already had everything, and discontinued them. By contrast, European states were almost constantly fighting and competing over resources. Thus someone like Columbus could still get backing from Spain when he was rejected first by his native Genoa and then Portugal. Similarly, Da Vinci worked for the Duke of Milan, and then the French, who had ''conquered'' Milan. China was a unified empire with everything centrally controlled, and their government distrusted the potentially disruptive changes inventions could bring, so most languished.
* Autoloaders vs human loaders in [[TankGoodness tanks]] -- a subject of [[BrokenBase heated debate]]. As the choice between them is a matter of OpposingCombatPhilosophies, they're also a FlameBait for [[YouTubeWarExpert Youtube War "Experts"]] of every shade[[note]]A garden-variety YouTubeWarExpert by definition denies the existence of viable OpposingCombatPhilosophies, since they extoll either one quality and/or one national school of design[[/note]]. To list the points of both sides:
** The NATO school of thought looks down on autoloaders because they don't actually provide [[MoreDakka a greater rate of fire]] than a strong 19-year-old, especially for [[DoubleTap the immediate follow-up shot]] (the loader can keep that one ready on his knees). Additionally, the loader is an extra pair of hands that can assist with maintenance, sentry duties etc. And having an autoloader doesn't mean no loading is done: the crew not only have to load the shells (and, in case of most Soviet designs discussed here, the separate propellant charges as well) into the autoloader first, but the autoloader only houses a portion (22-28) out of 40-50 shells carried in the tank. The rest is housed in conventional lockers, which are crammed into hard-to-reach spots throughout the hull, and have to be manually loaded by the commander or the gunner (which is awkward even in theory). The biggest problem NATO designers have however is that autoloaders interfere with their measures to reduce the risks of [[OneHitKill magazine detonation]]. Modern-generation [=MBTs=], most prominently the [[UsefulNotes/YanksWithTanks M1 Abrams]], place the majority of main gun shells into the extended back of the turret (the bustle), equipped with blow-out panels and sealed behind armoured doors in order to prevent the explosion of shells from [[OneHitKill instakilling]] the crew. Soviet autoloaders on the other hand are located under the turret, or, on the [[EliteMook T-64 and T-80]], in a circle under the turret ring, making them [[SingleStrokeBattle near-impossible]] '''[[SingleStrokeBattle not]]''' [[SingleStrokeBattle to hit]] and [[ArmoredCoffins leaving the crew no chance of survival]].
** The [[UsefulNotes/RedsWithRockets Soviet school of design]] was informed heavily by [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarTwo WWII]] experience: although the [[UsefulNotes/NazisWithGnarlyWeapons German Überpanzer like the Panther and the Tiger]] could [[CurbStompBattle snipe Soviet tanks at extreme ranges]], they were notoriously unreliable and [[EliteArmy few in number]], owing to [[AwesomeButImpractical their bloated size and mass]] - the "medium" Panther was larger (and heavier) than the Soviet IS-2 heavy tank - and so the bulk of Heer armour was made of [[MookMobile Panzer IV]] and [[TanksButNoTanks StuG III]], which were nothing to write home about. This meant that the Soviets would keep capitalizing on the advantages of the T-34-85 (a fast and cheap JackOfAllStats) and then apply the same logic to NATO armour, expecting to counter their super-duper machines with [[ZergRush quantity]], [[ConfusionFu surprise, speed]], [[DeathFromAbove combined arms]] and [[AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs deep operations]], denying them [[HollywoodTactics a head-on engagement]] in which NATO armour would exploit its advantages. Not that it had that many -- a Soviet tank of the [[UsefulNotes/ColdWar Cold War]] was armed with a [[{{BFG}} bigger gun]] and equally thick armour compared to a NATO design of the same [[TechnologyLevels generation]], while being [[LightningBruiser lighter]] (modern Western [=MBTs=] are approaching 70 t; [=ComBlock=] designs are no heavier than 45 t) and hence more agile and economically and logistically affordable. The sole reason for this was because, as it became apparent in WWII, the Soviets ruthlessly cut down on interior volume -- while Western tanks are cramped, they seem [[UnnecessarilyLargeInterior ludicrously roomy]] in comparison with Soviet-school vehicles that are near ClownCar levels, which means that the crew, naturally, sit on top of ammo and fuel, and have by regulation to be shorter than 185 cm (which means that someone around 170 cm is actually comfortable). An autoloader does not worsen the safety situation, but helps shrink mass and size further by eliminating another member of the crew, and it was the Soviet mantra that the best protection is not being hit at all; also, the human loader would eventually get tired, and was a lot less effective in the more confined interior, as the pre-autoloader but equally small T-55 and T-62 show. Furthermore, Soviet tanks were expected to actively maneuver rather than snipe targets from hull-down positions (as NATO tanks were likely to be doing), and had poorer suspension; it is considerably harder to load the gun manually when the vertical stabilizer keeps thrusting the breech up and down. Additionally, the later-pattern autoloader on the T-72 is significantly less vulnerable: the shells are arranged not in a cylinder under the turret ring, but in a circle of the floor, and hidden at the very bottom of the vehicle behind an extra layer of armor - hence [[NoKillLikeOverkill anything capable of triggering a magazine detonation likely destroys the tank anyway]]. As to the spare shell lockers, the [[UsefulNotes/RussiansWithRustingRockets new T-90 variants]] do move them into a bustle storage compartment - and Hatedom run afoul of the [[{{Hatedom}} bustle haters]], who believe that any large turret bustle is extremely likely to get hit in combat, whereas the baseline T-90 has a compact (short and broad) turret, and [[LuckilyMyShieldWillProtectMe it is impossible to hit anything but the heavily-protected front from a sector of 60°]]. Also, many Abrams loaders jam the doors open, [[WhatAnIdiot completely nullifying the protective qualities of the system]] - to [[DangerousForbiddenTechnique keep the rate of fire up]]. Finally, autoloaders are believed to be more usable in future tanks for two aspects: firstly, as the LensmanArmsRace is liable to continue, [[{{BFG}} tank guns]] will likely get [[UpToEleven even bigger]]: as of 1990, there were prototypes of prototypes a Leopard 2 variant with a 140 mm cannon and a T-80 variant with a 152 mm gun. Both of these exceeded the practical abilities of human loaders and were fitted with autoloaders -- much like modern 152-155 mm artillery, which uses at least partially mechanized loading instead of ''two'' loaders per gun. The second element of prospective [[UsefulNotes/RussiansWithRustingRockets Russian]] tanks is removing the crew from the turret altogether, settling the issue completely by using [[NighInvulnerability a front-mounted capsule tough enough to survive the destruction of the rest of the vehicle]] -- while even further reducing the size of the turret.
** And then there are [[UsefulNotes/GaulsWithGrenades the French]], who TakeAThirdOption out of their love for GlassCannon tanks: the Leclerc stores its ammo in the bustle, AND mounts an autoloader inside of it, and, as a bonus, it's even faster-firing than the Soviet equivalents.
* Large Chinese electronics manufacturer Foxconn, which produces ''a lot'' of various gadgets for big name brands, including all {{Apple}} products, traditionally employs manual labour on its assembly plants, specifically because putting [[WeHaveReserves a lot of former Chinese peasants,]] [[PoweredByAForsakenChild orphans and abandoned little girls]] [[NightmarishFactory into a sweatshop and running them till they drop]] is ''much, much'' cheaper than investing into a First World Japanese-style automated assembly line. This also means that Chinese "Gross Domestic Product = economic development" is actually a misunderstanding: GDP is only the average value of the products that go out of the country (e.g. Apple products and cheap toys), while real economic development is more accurately measured through Per Capita Income (as in, the actual profits for the average prole), and guess what, said Chinese peasants and little girls have almost the same minimum wage PCI as third world countries, while the GDP profits goes to executives at Foxconn and then Apple. \\
As time passed on, though, overall Chinese economic growth meant that fewer and fewer people are willing to tolerate harsh working conditions and meager pay, so the labor unrest became a problem for the company. Add to that the calls for product boycotting from the labor action groups and displeasure from the brands themselves, [[SlaveToPR who are conscious about their image]] — and cue the news that Foxconn is investing astronomical sums into the automated assembly. Robots may be more expensive in the long run, but they don't make a fuss and don't [[TheDogBitesBack beat the managers half to death]].
* Sailing. No matter the size of the boat, anything from hauling the sails to changing the tack is done manually. That's because yachts are usually cramped boats with little space for extra machinery, and because technology has a tendency to fail when least expected. Besides that, crew members are easily movable ballast where extra weight is needed. Back when steam had only started to make inroads, ''huge'' crews that sailing ships had were their second main disadvantage after their reliance on the weather. Steamboats might've needed a place for coal and thus carry less cargo, but they could be manned by twenty sailors instead of more than hundred like a sailboat of same size. So the mechanical winches were installed, sail plans simplified, emergency engines mounted, and last cargo-carrying sail ships actually had remarkably small crews, not much larger than steamships, with sailors almost never going aloft. But ''then'' is was discovered that sailing makes an excellent practice even for steamship sailors. And so the ''tall ships'' were born — a mobile classes of various marine schools, which are ''intentionally'' built in the old-fashioned way to teach the cadets what the sea really ''is''. There are several unconventional and very high performance designs that use sail-by-wire or computer controlled sail trimming... the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELL5lTE9Tek Walker Wingsail]] design is nearly [[OlderThanTheyThink 20 years old]] and the [[http://www.sailrocket.com/node/286 Vestas Sailrocket]] is a later design capable of 65 knots under sail power. There's still no substitute for something that can be repaired and driven by hand though, given that you don't want your motors to seize up or your electronics when you're several days or weeks sail away from land...
->Break time's over! Back to the spice mines, worm!