Hack Your Enemy


So, you are fighting robotic enemies. Maybe it's a Robot War or your enemy just uses computer controlled soldiers. Why not hack some of them? You can turn them off without a fight or—even better—reprogram them to think you are their commander and their commanders and allies are their enemies, so you get free reinforcements and ideal infiltrators.

Usually involves some sort of Hacking Minigame.

For biological alternatives, see Puppeteer Parasite, Brainwashing, and Mind Control. You may notice that they are much more "evil" things to do, presumably because even Ridiculously Human Robots lack a "soul" of some sort and therefore it is not a bad thing to completely alter their personalities. Can lead to a Face–Monster Turn or Apologetic Attacker.


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     Anime and Manga  

     Comic Books  

  • Magnus Robot Fighter: Magnus pulled this stunt at least once, by knocking the robot offline, opening up the back panel, disabling its wireless and setting it to local speech control.
  • Rai (Valiant Comics) has this as a superpower. With the cry of "MINDLOCK!" he can take control of any one machine within the range of his voice.


  • Terminator
    • Terminator 2: Judgment Day: The future John Connor reprogrammed a captured T-800 and sent it back in time to protect his younger self from a more advanced Skynet-programmed terminator.
    • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines: In this timeline the future John Connor was actually killed by a T-850 model after Skynet's presumed defeat. John's widow Kathryn Brewster then reprogrammed it and sent it back in time to save a 20s-something John from another attack by an even more advanced Terminator model.
  • Tron
  • Little hacker girl Nikko deters ED-209's demands for compliance in RoboCop 3 by hacking it to be "as loyal as a puppy".

     Live Action TV  

  • In episode Deliverance of Stargate Universe they hacked enemy unmanned fighters to fight other fighters
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. John Connor reprograms yet another Terminator (named Cameron) and sends it back in time to protect his earlier self.
  • In Get Smart Hymie the Robot was an invention of KAOS to infiltrate CONTROL, which CONTROL then reprogrammed for niceness instead of rottenness.

     Tabletop Games  

  • Deckers/hackers in Shadowrun can do this, subverting control of hostile drones (or even the smartlinks of enemy weapons) and take them out of the fight or switch their IFF readings to turn them into allies. They can only do this to autonomous or remote-controlled drones; if a rigger has jumped into a drone, it's immune to hacking. Instead of directly hacking control, they can spoof commands, making the drone think that its owner is giving it new instructions (like "reboot"), which requires knowing the rigger's access ID, but is considered easier than wresting control away by force.
  • A prominent component of Infinity, where hackers can seriously cripple or co-opt enemy heavy infantry and robots, and defend their own heavy infantry and robots from the enemy.

     Video Game  

  • In the multiplayer mode of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, one of the powerups you can get allows you to hack your opponent using the scan visor. This results in them taking continuous damage and a fuzzy screen for a short time (pictured above).
    • The Rezbit enemy is very dangerous, partly because it can do this. If Samus is hit by its virus attack, her suit will shut down and it has to be rebooted, leaving Samus helpless for a moment.
  • In Fallout 2 you can hack turret control to use them against final boss.
  • In Half-Life 2 Alyx hacked security system in Nova Prospect and programmed turrets to shoot guards and not Gordon. Gordon himself reprograms land mines by simply grabbing them with gravity gun.
  • Mass Effect
    • In Mass Effect, AI Hacking is an unlockable ability for an Engineer-class PC and Tali. In 2, it is also available for Legion, whose loyalty mission also involves taking control of enemy turrets and a virus that would have rewritten the "mainstream" geth into Reaper-worshipping "heretics". Whether you actually use the virus is up to you.
    • In Mass Effect 3, such functionality gets wrapped into "Sabotage", which encompasses causing weapon malfunctions against organic foes as well. Becomes very useful in turning the tables on Cerberus combat engineers and their deployable turrets.
  • In BioShock you can hack Sentry Guns and Security Bots, which then follow you around and shoot the enemy. You can hack security cameras as well, but that's another trope.
  • In Deus Ex: Invisible War, player can purchase illegal biocanisters which enable him to hack into turrets and, if sufficiently upgraded, robotic enemies.
  • In Project: Snowblind you can hack pretty much any robotic enemy.
  • In the original Alter A.I.L.A., Orange's special ability involves hacking.
  • In flash game I Am An Insane Rogue AI you play as insane rogue AI. At the beginning, hacking maintenance robots is the only way to kill inhabitants of buildings you attack. Later you will gain access to various other methods, but hacked robots and turrets will remain primary cause of fatalities.
  • In GoldenEye Wii you can use your smart phone to hack the computer controlled guns, which will then kill any mook in their range.
  • System Shock 2 allows you to hack defense turrets if you can sneak up to them, turning them over to your side.
  • One of the Reality Shifts in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, called "Code Break," allows you to hack enemies and cause them to attack their own or become walking time-bombs under your control.
  • In Crysis 3 you can hack turrets, mines and Scorcher drones if you're close enough and have clear line of sight.
  • In a video game based on Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, obtaining unit ID and hacking key data from defeated enemy commanders allows the player to hack other members of their unit. This can be used for scouting or taking out other enemies, but the hacked enemy drops dead once the connection is cut. Also, it can be done at almost any distance and through several walls.
  • In Iji, one of Iji's stats is "Cracking", which determines what level of nanotechnology she can successfully hack into. She can crack enemy weapon systems, turrets, and even an Annihilator exoskeleton in order to use them against the alien invaders. This is also the only way to beat the otherwise Nigh Invulnerable Iosa.
  • Shadowrun Returns has several missions which can be made easier by having a decker hack the enemy's automated defenses during the fight.
  • Rogue-archetype ships in Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages have a Gemini Array, a communication device that can be used for tricks such as shutting down an opponent's weapons or shields.
  • In Call of Duty: Black Ops, the Hacker Pro perk allows you to hack enemy equipment, from Sentry Guns to Claymore Mines. It doesn't help that they all glow red because of your perk and they can be jammed by Scramblers.
  • The advanced edition of FTL: Faster Than Light features a hacking system which allows sending a drone to an enemy ship to disrupt one of its systems. The enemies in vanilla edition may occasionally attempt to hack into one of the player's systems, resulting in its limited functionality.
  • In Syndicate (2012), you can Breach enemies' or their weapons' Chips and cause them to commit suicide, disable those weapons, or turn them against their allies.
  • In XCOM 2 enemy turrets and robots can be hacked by Specialists with the Haywire Protocol skill, allowing you to temporarily shut them down or take control if you pass the check.
  • In Overwatch the hero Sombra can hack the enemy heroes to disable their secondary abilities. Her Ultimate ability does this to any enemy in range.
  • In Metal Arms Glitch in the System, this is Glitch's Signature Move. And since this is a world populated entirely by robots, the player gets plenty of opportunities to exercise this power on just about anything.
  • In NieR: Automata, 9S' unique ability as a playable character is to hack other enemy units, which will either cause them to explode or turns them to his side. He can also do this to temporarily control other units.

     Western Animation  

  • In one arc of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a rescue operation involved reprogramming separatists' droids to think R2-D2 is their commander.
  • In the Teen Titans series, Gadgeteer Genius Gizmo often uses this technique on Cyborg.
  • An aversion in Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers when it came to the Queen's Mooks. While they appeared to be standard 80's era Mecha-Mooks, the fact that Doc never used his tweakers to hack into them was a major hint that they weren't robots at all. The episode "Tower of Combat" did have him use this trick against the General's replicants, so we know he was at least capable of doing so.
  • On Invader Zim, a battle with Tak and her robot assistant, MiMi, causes the latter's memory disk to fall out of her head. In the final space battle between them and Zim, Gaz and Zim's computer hook the disk up to GIR, causing MiMi to act as insane as he does and throw Tak's ship out of control.
    • After Dib acquires Tak's ship, he uses it to interfere with Zim's plan to hack into the the Massive and bring it to Earth. In response, Zim hacks into Tak's ship to reestablish it's original programming—a copy of Tak's own personality, which causes the ship to attack Dib.

     Real Life  

  • Supposedly, one of the reasons that the United States Navy suffered no casualties during the 1986 "Line of Death" confrontation with Libya was that the American military successfully hacked and effectively disabled Libya's air defense systems.
  • Somewhat more plausibly, the Israelis are claimed to have done the same against Syria in 2007 to exactly the same effect, when destroying their potential nuclear reactor.
  • Probably averted in case of Iraq, as this article states: US News and World Report published a report that the US inserted a virus into a network of Iraqi air defense computers several weeks before the start of the Persian Gulf War. However, as Associated Press reported later, "Trouble is, a computer industry publication, Info World, sketched out a strikingly similar scenario in a column that ran in its April 1, 1991, issue. That article was an April Fool's joke, pure fantasy [...]."