"Starfleet was made to seek out new life. (points to Data) Well,
there it sits."
As we all know, Clones Are Expendable
, Artificial Humans
against nature, and robots
are a crapshoot
. It seems as though artificial lifeforms just can't catch a break in the world of fiction, all because they're Not Even Human
. After all, What Measure Is a Non-Human?
A whole lot, in some cases
In some stories, you might find that Clones Are People Too
, as are Artificial Humans
. And those robots were just misunderstood
With the world continuing to shift to being Pro-Artificial Life due to the increasing use of technology in our lives, there's no wonder that this trope is being used more and more in modern works. Take, for example, the evolution of the Terminator
series. The first movie showed all A.I.
as Killer Robots
, while the sequels and spin-offs show that the eponymous Terminators
may in fact be people too, at least when not under the control of Sky-Net
Any series that uses the term "humaniform robots
" (or something similar) usually has this trope applying to those specific human-like robots to which that term applies.
This is the Super Trope
of Clones Are People Too
, and is generally found on the enlightenment side of the Romanticism Versus Enlightenment
See the related What Measure Is a Non-Human?
. See also/compare the Zombie Advocate
. Do Androids Dream?
is when this trope is called into question.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In Astro Boy, most humans and robots live as equals.
- Androids 16,17, 18 from Dragon Ball Z, although 17 and 18 started off as bad guys.
- Subverted with Androids 17 and 18 who are just humans that were modified by Dr. Gero. Android 18 even has a daughter eventually.
- All artificial humanoid constructs are treated as humans by default in the Lyrical Nanoha universe, including cyborgs, clones with constructed personalities, living magical programs running off another mage's mana, and full androids whose creator accidentally gave human-level personalities.
- Exploration of this trope is pretty much the point of the Marvel characters The Vision and Machine Man. Good guys treat them like people, while bigots treat them like they're Just a Machine. In fairness, they are mistrusted for other reasons too: Vision was built by a villain to use as a minion, but he revolted. Aaron Stack the Machine Man was the last of a line of experimental robots, all the others of whom went homicidally insane; Aaron turned out okay because one scientist decided to raise him as a son.
- Geisha is about Jomi Sohodo, who was designed as a love slave android, but was instead purchased by a decent man who raised her as a daughter alongside his own children.
- The Terminator series played with this trope, as mentioned in the description.
- The Alien series flip-flopped on this as well, similar to Terminator. In the first movie, the secondary villain is a sinister android. In the next movie, the artificial human is a genuine ally and actually lampshades the previous model's failures. The fourth film features an android who'd been passing as human for years and is referred to as being more humane than actual humans, but society has decided to ban androids; said android is the Last of Her Kind.
- Cruelty to the Robot Kid is almost invariably frowned upon by movie writers. See D.A.R.Y.L. and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.
- Short Circuit
Johnny Five: But hath not a robot eyes? Hath not a robot hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? If you prick us, do we not bleed?!
Police Chief: Yeah. Battery fluid, maybe.
- The TRON universe goes bonkers with this. While the films, games, and TRON: Uprising series use the Programs' non-human status and peculiar way of dying as a form of Bloodless Carnage (and a way to depict some extremely violent and disturbing scenes in a Disney franchise), in-universe depictions portray the Programs and Isos as being every bit as alive and sentient as the Users who made them.
- In The Turing Option, The MI (Machine Intelligence) is treated as this. It's called MI and not AI because of this: "There is nothing artificial about my intelligence". Oddly, at end the creator is less than a person, and he knows it too.
- This trope applies to the robots from Isaac Asimov's "Robot" series of novels (starting with I Robot), and their film adaptations. It's actually an interesting example because you can trace the stories' progression toward this trope.
- The stories are first set almost immediately after the introduction of the positronic brain, where the robots lack a human-like intelligence and are obviously humanoid robots instead of androids (exposed metal, etc). In these stories, the robots are treated more as tools or, at best, domestic animals.
- As the stories move forward in the timeline (specifically to the R Daneel Olivaw era), we finally get robots that look and act entirely human (save for situations involving the Three Laws Of Robotics). You still end up with some robot racism, but the mere fact that they're human enough to cause contempt says something about how humanity sees them at this point (similar to humans, but "new" and therefore threatening).
- By the end of the timeline, robots have gone beyond human-like status and achieved a measure of transhumanism (Olivaw in particular lived nearly 20,000 years and continually upgraded his body and brain over that time).
Live Action TV
- Almost Human: Due to the crime rate, police officers are partnered with an android, which are pretty treated the same way as the human officers.
- Not quite. Recall that Paul orders his android partner to get him coffee, which is at least a little demeaning; most of the characters' only concern when the main character Kennex shoots or otherwise damages a robot is more along the lines of "Thanks for causing an inconvenience" (Maldonado even says "Do you have any idea how much these things cost?"); Kennex himself is specifically anti-robot for the most part; deactivating illegal sexbots early on was a non-issue; taking away the memories of "crazy" DRNs is perfectly acceptable, even when the memories in question have nothing to do with sensitive police files; and there will probably be more examples as the show progresses. For the most part it seems like Dorian (Kennex's android partner) is trying to convince other people, especially Kennex, that Androids Are People, Too
- Data of Star Trek: The Next Generation is treated as a full crew-member except by season 2's Doctor Pulaski, but even she changed her mind, and she was a Doctor Jerk to begin with. The episode The Measure of a Man was dedicated to exploring this: Commander Bruce Maddox wants to reverse-engineer Data, but Data refuses to submit, believing that Maddox won't be able to put him back together properly. He even goes so far as to tender his resignation from Starfleet to keep Maddox from opening him up. Commander Riker is ordered to serve as advocate for the prosecution when Maddox gets the judge advocate general involved, making the argument that Data is not a person, but Starfleet property, so he cannot resign nor refuse the procedure. Picard defends Data with the argument that while Data is a machine, he's also a person with aspirations, goals, and purpose. He fulfills two of the three criteria for sentience (intelligence and self-awareness) and the last one (consciousness) is not measurable by outsiders, so to refuse Data the rights of a person would make The Federation potentially guilty of creating a slave race if they mass produce his kind.
- The Doctor in Star Trek: Voyager kind of swings back and forth. Some episodes he's treated as a person and a fellow crew-member, allowed to pursue his interests and grow, even expanding his role as an emergency back up to the bridge crew. Other times Janeway (who is a case of Depending on the Author) would like to remind him he's a machine when the situation comes out. There is also an episode where he goes to court over his status as a person and as an author. In a subversion, he's denied being a person but is considered an author. Sadly, the judgment of "Measure of a Man" is not referenced in that episode.
- Data is unique and is treated as human by nearly everyone, but holograms are ubiquitous in the Federation and are treated as nonsentient, disposable toys, despite the existence of obvious exceptions like Vic Fontaine and the Doctor. This raises uncomfortable questions that are never satisfactorily addressed.
- In Red Dwarf, Holly and Kryten are treated as full crew members, and their lives carry as much dramatic weight as a human's. In a series where the protagonists are two organic, two machine and one sorta on the fence, Artificial And Alive is kind of required.
- There is an in-universe example - the soap "Androids" (a parody of Neighbours) that Kryten used to watch, with the tag line "Androids have feelings too".
- In Andromeda, it was common practice in the Commonwealth before its fall to treat the ship AIs as people, but since they were also military AIs, who had sworn oaths, they were expected to follow orders like any other Commonwealth officer.
- Doctor Who uses this trope sometimes, though not too often. In the far future, androids are more or less equal to humans. And in the episode "Victory of the Daleks," an English army scientist discovers, to his horror, that he's actually an android created by the Daleks, but he still helps save the day and demonstrates his personhood. When he decides to destroy himself because he's Dalek technology, Amy and the Doctor talk him out of it and persuade him to live his life to the fullest.
- In Series/Extant John firmly believes this, and even has a robot son named Ethan, hoping to prove it beyond all doubt. People who dispute it anger him.
- In Pokémon Live!, MechaMew2 is treated like an actual Pokemon by the cast even though it's mechanical.
- In the Mega Man (Classic) saga, the robots are mostly workers, but apparently treated with enough respect to not make them uprise in rebellion (with the exception of the ninth game).
- In the Mega Man X series, the reploids are mostly treated as humans, however, the humans can sometimes quite hastily tag some reploid as a maverick (probably as a result of the events of the Repliforce Rebellion).
- By the time of the Mega Man Zero series, except for the Neo Arcadia Army, The 8 Gentle Judges, The guardians and Copy-X himself, the reploids are treated as second class citizens (however, it's probable that during the rule of the original X they were both treated as equals, seeing that as that was one of X's original desires)
- By the Mega Man ZX series onwards, humans and reploids are so mixed up there are barely any distinctions...
- ...but by the time of the Mega Man Legends series, the carbons (Artificial Humans), are strictly controlled by the robots. At the same time, the last "pure" human is treated as a king, but since he died some time ago, and many ruins are now on minimal operational levels, the carbons are the dominant race, going underground from time to time to dig and steal...ehrrmmm...obtain treasures from the ruins.
- In the backstory to Mass Effect, the quarians created the geth as a labor force able to network their processors to increase computing power. Eventually, enough geth got together and started asking existential questions ("Does this unit have a soul?"). The quarians, expecting their robot slaves to rebel violently without even giving them a chance to explain, preemptively tried to shut them down. The geth resisted, forcing the quarians to retreat from Rannoch in an enormous Migrant Fleet that has wandered Citadel space for three hundred years.
- In the first game, all geth you encounter are hostile mooks who worship Sovereign as a god, but in Mass Effect 2, you learn that the geth are divided: only a few (about five percent) are "heretics" that sought to eradicate organic life. The majority bear no ill will toward the quarians and are taking care of Rannoch in the hopes that they will return and they can live peacefully together.
- Joker becomes emotionally attached to EDI, the ship's AI, over the course of the game. She eventually comes to appreciate him and returns his feelings. Shepard rebukes those who treat EDI as Just a Machine, such as the Illusive Man and, rather surprisingly, Dr. Chakwas. The latter admits that while she likes EDI and considers her a friend, she doesn't consider her a person in the same way as an organic.
- The geth platform whose programs accept the designation "Legion" has its own personality: it used a piece of Shepard's old armor to patch a hole in its structure but cannot articulate the reason why it chose to use that instead of something else. Should it die during the suicide mission, Shepard will mourn just as much as for any other crew member.
- In Mass Effect 3, Shepard can repeatedly call out the quarians for their treatment of the geth, especially when it's stated that during the geth uprising, they also gunned down anyone who defended the geth. For the most part, a Paragon Shepard actually seems more sympathetic to the geth than the quarians. And, irrespective of the geth's testimony being true or not, treating it as such is vital to secure peace.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, how well you treat droids contributes significantly to your Dark Side/Light Side score, especially the ever-faithful T3 unit.
- In the Phantasy Star Online games, differences between humans and androids are never addressed or mentioned. It's entirely unnoticeable to everyone.
- In Fallout 3, a side quest involves tracking down a runaway android. The one looking for him seems to completely disregard the notion of this trope and so can you, if you want.
- The Sims: Robots are a common theme. Through they're servants, they are treated like a normal. In the second game expansion ''Open for Business", they can run their own stores and their own skill levels. In the third game, there were two types, Simbots and Plumbots note , and yes, they can have traits.
- In Virtue's Last Reward, The Reveal that Luna is a Ridiculously Human Robot implicitly argues for this, she being a compassionate, emotional being. The only reason she doesn't try to free everyone from the Deadly Game is because her (human) creators ordered her not to.
- The fic Gift of Clay is written from from Luna's perspective, and elaborates on this.
She is almost ready. Almost. Close. They descend with their needles for the final stage, poking and prodding and stitching all over her, adjusting this, adjusting that. There is something about it as uncomfortable as violence, all those clinical hands pressing careless to her skin without regard for where they land or the way that she squirms unthinking at the touch touch touch. She blushes dark, and bites her lip, and does not understand. There is no word for shame yet in the dictionary of her brain.
Her hands fall from her arms to her stomach and her hips and her knees and it is incredible. She laughs, a short trill of delight. The mechanics look up at the sound and all smile at her to see it, in a toothless way she does not yet recognise as the look that careless adults give to an infant child or a well-mannered dog.
- In Robopon, Robopon are treated as living creatures, which is why Cody's grandpa is adamant he not use them for evil.
- While many of them seem to be robotic, several Pokémon, such as Porygon and Magneton, are distinctly stated to be robotic or otherwise artificial. Despite this, they treated no differently from other Pokémon, and treating Pokémon with kindness and love is one of the franchise's strongest themes.
- In RWBY, when Penny reveals herself as a robot, she laments that she isn't real. Ruby assures her, "You think just because you have nuts and bolts instead of squishy guts makes you any less real than me?"
- Freefall has Ridiculously Human Robots and an Uplifted Animal heroine. Robots elsewhere than on Jean are simply machines with no sense of self, and are treated as such, and most of the 'villains' of the story persist in treating Jean's robots the same way. Anyone who's actually TALKED to a robot, however, has realized that they're self-aware and thoroughly human, thus creating the central conflict. What Ecosystems Unlimited sees as a 'bug-fix', Florence sees as a mass lobotomy aimed on a sophisticated race...
- Schlock Mercenary works like this, presumably due to having had fully-sentient AI's for centuries. Ennesby, their resident sarcastic AI, is mostly treated as an equal of any other crew-member, and at one point he circumvented a bureaucratic attempt to stop them by suggesting that they might be discriminating against AI's - thus strongly indicating that there exists specific legislation forbidding such discrimination. Other incidents include the apparent death of Petey, the AI of their old warship, which was grieved by the characters just as much as the death of any crew member.
- Nearly all AI have limits though. Ennesby and later Petey are rare, unfettered AIs with no limitations at all.
- Incorrect. Petey was "fettered" in that he had a loyalty switch to the O'benn race. It is uncertain if AI's from other races have this as well, but given the formation and refusal to disband of the Fleetmind this is unlikely.
- Also, while the comic does treat them like people, that does not mean it treats them well. In a universe where death is cheap (like a few hours regrowing a body cheap) and where the fourth wall is broken regularly, AI's have been everything from soldiers to spaceships to ablative plating to the closest thing to a god there is, don't expect a respect for people's right to continue to exist, especially when the person is between a mercenary and his money. (AI are arguably treated better than humans; there have been no AIs who appear to delight in torture or act obviously evil, and most AI appear more moral and more sophisticated than many of the humans they work with.)
- In Questionable Content, AnthroPCs are treated as if they are people most of the time, especially since in the QC universe, the Singularity has recently happened. It's unclear then why Pintsize hasn't been arrested yet, the filthy little boob terrorist.
- This is apparently the way the Nemesites treat AI's in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! judging by Voluptua's treatment of Roofus the Robot. However, they also have nonsentient robots that are Just a Machine.
- The approach to this trope is one of the biggest differences between the comic and animated versions of Transformers Generation 1. In the animated series, it's immediately clear to all human eye witnesses that one faction of the alien robots is trying to defend them from the other faction, so the Autobots become well-respected allies almost right away. In the comic series (since Marvel Comics would scarcely be Marvel Comics without Fantastic Racism), the distinction between the two sides is much less clear to the humans, so all Transformers are treated with hostility. note
- In Real Life, the field of "AL" (Artificial Life, also known as cybernetics) tries to produce machines with life-like mechanisms or traits (such as being self-replicating).