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Evil Luddite

Science Is Bad? New Technology Is Evil? Ludd Was Right? Well, probably not. But don't tell that to these guys. They're utterly convinced that technology is evil...and so is anyone who uses it. They burn down factories, engage in Fantastic Racism against robots, Cyborgs and Transhumans, call for the execution of people who have had life-saving surgery and lay siege to laboratories. If their motive or justification is religious, they will often overlap with The Fundamentalist. If their motive is environmentalism, then they're almost certainly part of an Animal Wrongs Group. Sometimes they don't really believe in what they're preaching and just want all that shiny, shiny tech for themselves.

Characters like this are generally villains in Science Fiction. In stories with a Nature Hero, they might exist (as the Big Bad or a second villainous faction) to provide a foil. A story where Ludd Was Right might have this accidentally if the protagonist is too much of a Designated Hero. Contrast with the generally peaceful Space Amish. See also Evil Reactionary, who opposes modern changes to society, rather than to technology (naturally, the two may overlap).


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime And Manga 
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex features a terrorist organisation who are opposed to cyborgs. While they aren't shown doing anything directly evil they did kidnap the teenage daughter of a CEO because she had a new cyberbrain treatment done to her. When the heroes find her, she looks about 70 (despite having only been in their "care" for less than 2 decades), has a daughter nearly as old as the time she was kidnapped and looking at her memories drove the last rescue team to suicide.

    Comic Books 
  • In Magnus Robot Fighter #42, "Fear Unlimited", Derkaiser, leader of the anti-robot Rob-Routers, is actually Dr. Laszlo Noel, who wants to get rid of the robots so he can rule North Am himself. He tries a Not So Different speech on Magnus, who only smashes evil robots, and points out that Derkaiser is himself using robots to restrain the hero.
  • For the sake of sheer ridiculousness, the Marvel Comics supervillain Turner D. Century must be mentioned here. With his pinstriped suit and tandem bicycle, he meant to dial back society to its pre-1900s glory (not only because he disliked technology, but because he detested how cultural values had changed; in other words, he was a bigot and a chauvinist). He was killed along with several other villains in the Bar With No Name during the original Scourge of the Underworld storyline. Then his clone was killed by Deadpool. Needless to say, Marvel doesn't take him very seriously anymore — if they ever did.
  • Infinity introduces Fulmina, an obnoxious Inhuman obsessed with wiping out tech so that mankind can return to a "better" time.

    Fan Fiction 

    Film 
  • The antagonist of the film Chain Letter is a technology-hating cult who kill people by sending them chain letters, and offing them if the letters are not sent forward.
  • The rebel people from Surrogates are portrayed as a bunch of redneck hicks.
    • Which is odd since the film seems to endorse the luddite sentiment, as the protagonist's decision to allow surrogate technology to be destroyed is treated fairly positively in the ending, despite current society relying on them.
    • The original comic has the creator of the surrogate technology merely try to shut all the surrogates down, not kill everyone connected to a surrogate. After that happens, the rebels march through the city but only burn down the surrogate factory.
  • The plot of The 6th Day is kicked off by a Luddite assassinating the Big Bad Drucker and his entourage because the former is a clone. Since Adam switched places with Hank, both men end up cloned as part of the coverup/mixup. Then the Luddite shows up and murders Hank again for being a clone, which he literally knew nothing about and was through no fault of his own.
  • In Transcendence, RIFT is willing to use violence to prevent what they see as artificial intelligence destroying humanity. This is contrasted with Will, who never once kills or even significantly hurts anyone even when being attacked. The trailers and narrative partially wants us to root for them (because obviously the Caster A.I. wants to Take Over the World), but the discovery that the Caster A.I. is Will and that his actions so far have been for the sake of fulfilling his wife's dream of a better world (although probably feeling rather creepy without the whole info to provide context), and the fact that RIFT has condemned an immense amount of people to death or worse by kicking the world back to early industrial stages through destroying the Caster A.I. (and them seeing this as an acceptable sacrifice before starting the final attack) surely showcases where they are in the end.

    Literature 
  • Maybe Anacreon and Korell from Foundation, who are against Foundation technology and are militaristic.
    • Subverted by Korell: they are against Foundation technology not so much because of being against technology as believing (before Mallow comes along, fairly correctly) that opening up the door to the Foundation's technology will open the door to the Religion of Science and allow the the Foundation to subvert them and ultimately make them into a puppet state. The Four Kingdoms plays it somewhat straighter, though - all of them were militaristic, Anacreon was just the strongest, and all of them were backwards and primitive to the point that the Foundation had to reintroduce science as a religion just to get over the reflexive suspicion of the populace.
  • In the Terminator novels (which came out before the third movie), the Luddites are Straw Hypocrites who are perfectly willing to serve the evil AI that nearly annihilated the human race.
  • Phil Albright in the Firestar Series, despite being a Luddite opposed to the private space program that will eventually save humanity, is an honest, decent bloke. Many of his followers, however, are utterly insane variations on Strawman Political, willing to murder and sabotage to keep Big Industry down.
  • Played with in Dune with the Teilaxu. In theory, they keep within the bounds of the Buterlian Jihad's proscriptions against thinking machines. However, instead of developing computers or other technology, they focus on biology, creating shapeshifters, clones of dead people, and other questionably ethical products.
    • The prequel novels set during and after the time of the Butlerian Jihad have Rayna Butler (the niece of the first Corrino Emperor) start the fanatical Butlerian movement, which involves destroying any piece of advanced technology justifying their actions with the Slippery Slope Fallacy. After the end of the Jihad, Rayna and her successor Manford Torondo continue to use the fanatical mobs to enforce the rules. Manford even has the gall to dictate terms to the Emperor, decreeing that any technology that is placed on his list is to be banned and destroyed. Not satisfied, he forces all worlds to officially pledge their support for his movement. He even bullies Emperor Salvador into giving the Butlerians two hundred warships to enforce the decree. Later, he decides that this is not enough and demands an even more radical pledge that requires all people to swear loyalty to him and sentences anyone using a machine to death. Manford has no qualms about riling up the mobs in the Imperial capital city and setting them loose to vent off steam. Manford call it "harmless" despite the deaths and destruction of property, including Prince Roderick's little daughter. His hated enemy Josef Venport isn't that much better, although he is portrayed as slightly more sympathetic, although even Venport is eventually forced to respond with atrocities of his own (such as sending his own new cymeks to obliterate a village on a remote world). When Gilbertus Albans, the first Mentat who was secretly raised by the independent robot Erasmus, objects to the new pledge on the grounds that it's too vague, Manford shows up with a huge mob threatening to burn the whole mentat school down if Gilbertus doesn't make the pledge. Later, after Gilbertus is outed as a "machine sympathizer", Manford has him publicly beheaded despite previously promising that Gilbertus would be safe in his custody.
  • In the world of Time Scout, the good guys are all enthusiastic about time travel and exploration, the bad guys want to shut it down because. Because.
  • Played straight with perhaps insufficient motivation by the Abominators in Anne McCaffrey's The Skies of Pern.
  • Subverted with the Yuuzhan Vong in the New Jedi Order series. They hate the technology of the GFFA, believing it an affront to the gods, but they themselves use organic analogs to most of it.
  • The Sword of the Spirits trilogy by John Christopher. Most of civilization was destroyed by a worldwide ecological disaster. All post-medieval technology is forbidden and anyone trying to use science is put to death.
  • Honor Harrington has a few versions due to the Culture Chop Suey of the setting, but the main example would be the Masadans, also known as The Faithful of the Church of Humanity Unchained. The church altogether started as a Space Amish community that set out to start their own Lost Colony free of technology and the evils of society, but learned too late that the planet they settled was a Death World where technology would be required to survive. The differences between the Faithful and more mainstream members of the resulting colony on the planet Grayson lead to a planet-wide civil war and multiple interstellar conflicts after the Masadans left to form their own colony in a nearby star system, with the conflict only drawing to a close when both planets got caught up in the Haven-Manticore Warnote . The irony of a colony of Luddites engaging in multiple interstellar wars is remarked upon.

    Live-Action TV  
  • On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the episode "Paradise" features Space Amish whose leader (and her son) both turn out to be this trope (having marooned the rest on the planet by forcing them to forsake technology).
  • The Restorian of Andromeda who seek to end slipstream travel.
    • Ironically, their leader is an insane warship.
  • In the second season episode of Sliders, "Gillian of the Spirits", the protagonists are stuck on a world where the detonation of the atomic bomb scared everyone away from new technology, which is stuck in the 1950s. There is no television, digital hand watches, etc. And the Bureau of Anti-Technology was founded to keep any new technology from being accessed and to arrest those who either make it or possess it. Things are made worse by the fact that the dimensional timer is broken, and there are only basic hardware tools to fix it.
    • However, it's revealed in the episode that the government is about to remove the ban, and the Bureau has been stockpiling illegal technology they were supposed to have been destroying in order to patent all of it as soon as the ban is lifted.
    • Another episode has them end up in a post-apocalyptic world where crazed priests execute anyone who has "tech" by throwing them into an atomic pit of some sort.
  • In Psych's Hashtag Killer game, the titular serial killer turns out to be an old greeting card maker and calligraphist who is incredibly bitter over the fact that the internet has "ruined" personal communication and put him out of business.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • The Jovian Republic from Eclipse Phase was founded by these. Granted they might have a point, as this is a setting ten years after the RobotApocalypse left Earth uninhabitable. At the same time, their higher-ups are not necessarily as opposed to tech as their party line suggests, it's just a way to keep all the shiny, shiny tech away from the unwashed masses.
  • The Clockstoppers of Genius: The Transgression are Evil Luddites who have the power to nullify technology (that is, anything that could be considered a product of human ingenuity, right down to a sharpened stick).
  • This is the shtick (overlapping with Evil Reactionary) of the villain Retrograde in the Champions sourcebook High Tech Enemies. His power allows him to transform high tech items into low tech, non-functioning equivalents, such as transforming a suit of powered armour into a suit of medieval knight's armour.
  • In the Ravenloft campaign setting, Vlad Drakov, the darklord of Falkovnia, is another case where this overlaps with Evil Reactionary. The inability to wage successful wars of conquest and gain respect of other rulers (despite being one) may be part of the curse he gained from becoming a darklord, but the Dark Powers barely needed to do anything to enforce it. Drakov's army is stuck in the Dark Ages because of his stubborn refusal to use "cowardly, newfangled" ways of waging war like smoke powder weapons and magic, nor will he consider using female soldiers. Since his neighbors consist of a kingdom ruled by a lich Sorcerous Overlord who employs vast amounts of undead, war-wizards and spell-enhanced troops, and several Renaissance-level domains where guns are the staple armament for all soldiers, this always puts the odds seriously against him and dooms him to a crushing defeat each time; the other darklords consider him a joke.

    Video Games 
  • The Church of Yevon in Final Fantasy X claims that technology was what brought Sin on the world and encourage Fantastic Racism against the Al Bhed (who salvage and use technology). They have no problems using it themselves and know full well where Sin actually came from. On the other hand, they do recognize that because Yu Yevon is genuinely incapable of stopping his vendetta, any place that uses more than a modicum of technology is going to look an awful lot like the Bevelle he hates so much...
  • The Retros from Wing Commander Privateer are on the same level as the pirates and Kilrathi.
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War: The Templars [the Luddite faction] are the ones responsible for murdering Chicago... with something hi-tech. Nobody else is even vaguely as terrorist, not even Apostle Corp.
    • Deus Ex: Human Revolution plays around with this. The Purity First organization is another Luddite terrorist organization, albeit one unknowingly working with augmented individuals, but most people against augmentation are bigoted and misguided at the absolute worst. There's also Taggart, but he's not a Luddite in spirit - he's just trying to advance the goals of the Illuminati, and, of all people, Hugh Darrow, who causes a full on zombie apocalypse primarily out of envy for the augmented.
  • Vega Strike has an expy of Retros from Wing Commander — the nutty offshot of a legitimate Purist faction, "Interstellar Church of True Form's Return", something like "Luddite meets Manifest Destiny theology", whom Purists barely tolerate, and everybody else hates and calls simply "Luddites". They aren't against high technology as such, but associated changes in human life.
  • The eponymous "Dark Project" in the first Thief game is the Trickster's plan to take humanity back to the Stone Age.
  • Several cases in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, in part due to the fact that technology and magick interfere with each other. King Praetor of Cumbria forbids technology in his realm, because he came to power in a mage-backed coup d'etat, "disappearing" his brother to the Isle of Despair. Also the Dark Elves, though in this case Luddism is only part of their package (their objective is to restore Elven dominance over the world). Finally, in the Age of Legends, Arronax destroyed the technological civilization of Vendigroth because their technology was growing too advanced and threatened the dominance of the Elven Council.
  • The Luddite faction in City of Heroes opposes Dr. Aeon, believing him to be in league with demonic forces. He's not working with them, he just decided that the best thing to do with a bound demon he stumbles across is to use it to power a geothermal power plant.
  • Caesar in Fallout: New Vegas believes over-reliance on technology makes people weak and decadent. All industry in his empire must be done with slave labor, his soldiers are trained to use melee weapons and to expect their guns to jam at any time, he commands the Courier to destroy a stockpile of military robots hidden under his base without ever considering the possibility that they could be reprogrammed and used against his enemies, and anyone with injuries or illness that can't be treated with medicinal herbs is killed in accordance with his philosophy of social Darwinism. Though when Caesar himself develops a brain tumor, he's more than happy to allow himself to be healed with autodoc technology.
  • Mass Effect: In the second game, it's revealed that the quarians are this to the geth, as they wanted to prevent the geth from gaining sentience, assuming that they would be their undoing because computers are always evil. This sparked a massive war, which ironically ended in the entire quarian species being exiled from their worlds and forced into a nomadic lifestyle, going from system to system to scavenge whatever useful materials they could find to survive. The twist is, the geth unit that sparked the panic was merely curious if it possessed a soul, and the geth never intended to harm their masters in the first place.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • SWAT Kats: The Pastmaster hates everything about the modern day, including technology, and his typical M.O. revolves around trying to return Megakat City to the Middle Ages. Of course, he puts his hatred aside to team up with the Metallikats in "A Bright and Shiny Future".
  • Batman Beyond': Mad Stan is a psychotic Luddite whose solution to everything in the high-tech future Gotham is "Blow it up!".

Dumb Is GoodSour Grapes TropesFlowers for Algernon Syndrome
Earth Is YoungTropes on Science and UnscienceFantastic Science
Everything's Squishier with CephalopodsSteampunk IndexGiant Squid
Ludd Was RightStock AesopsBe Yourself
The Dung AgesRomanticism Versus EnlightenmentEvil Reactionary
Evil Is SexyAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Evil Matriarch
Cyber NinjaCyberpunk TropesHackette
Un-evil LaughVillainsEvil Matriarch
Evil HandSpeculative Fiction TropesEvil Me Scares Me

alternative title(s): Straw Luddite
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