Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
"Captain, although your abilities intrigue me, you are quite honestly inferior. Mentally, physically. In fact, I am surprised how little improvement there has been in human evolution. Oh, there has been technical advancement, but, how little man himself has changed."
In Cowboy Bebop, Jet Black has a cybernetic arm to replace his natural one, lost long ago, and Spike has an artificial and mildly enhanced eye. Aversion, right? Well, no, as Jet's considered odd for not picking up an organic one, and the cybernetic arm's made of fairly weak metal and motors. Spike doesn't seem aware of the enhancements his eye gives him, if his reaction times or accuracy with firearms are due to the eye. This is the same setting with man-portable force field generators and many, many small concealed weapons. The protagonists play this trope relatively straight, but the rest of the series tends to avert it. It deals with a variety of transhuman themes, such as uploading consciousness into computers, super soldiers, futuristic drugs, and cryonics.
But the Abh seem to avoid further experimentation themselves, and the non-Abh humans seem to have mostly deliberately avoided taking advantage of the longevity genehacks. There's been just enough transhumanism to provide space elves, and no more.
Fullmetal Alchemist - The protagonist has cybernetical limbs (called automail), but only go with them after losing his real limbs. His whole motivation is to get his real limbs back, even though he can do amazing things with the automail.
Also justified for Elric. He doesn't want to get 'cured' because of the automail being bad...he's mainly looking for a cure to use on ALPHONSE, whose soul is bonded to a suit of armor. And, besides other issues, may suffer a failure of the bonding ritual at any time. Alphonse however does not want to be the only one getting back what he lost though.
In the 2003 anime, one of the Elrics lampshades this, realizing that they were only on par with some of their opponents due to their enhanced nature. The idea of someone using automail by choice instead of necessity only comes up once in the 2003 anime (when a rich man tries to buy parts from Pinako's old rival), and is treated as a completely foolish idea.
Lyrical Nanoha plays an interesting take on this. Purely artificial life is apparently not only allowed but common in the form of magic-based familiars and magic-based augments like ageing retardation/youth maintenance are widespread. However, transhuman enhancement with genetic engineering or cybernetics is outlawed. Despite the illegality, no stigma is attached to actually being either since those enhanced rarely had a choice in the matter.
The illegality of genetic enhancement and cybernetics seems based more on the implication that the average experiment in these directions fails in horribly. The subjects themselves are often actually provided therapy for dealing with such things.
The fact that most results of the experiments double as Living WMDs is the other main factor. There's actually a good reason for this - the roots of the technology are derived from fallen civilizations that used it to create Super Soldiers.
In Macross, more than once an aspiring scientist has tried to dabble with transhumanism, but due to all of them having Science-Related Memetic Disorder, none of these tries ended well, as we could see in Macross Plus and Macross Frontier. Thus, while there's no general prohibition of transhumanism, and there are societies that actively practice it (like Macross Galaxy colony fleet in MF), it tends to be frowned upon.
Vandread follows this to a degree, in that each of the different human worlds has been created/genetically altered for specific organs or traits, and whilst the main villains are robot swarms in the anime, in the manga they're human brains wired into vehicular bodies.
Played with in Cyborg 009. While what was done to the cyborgs is considered evil, they do generally find their new abilities useful. The main issue they have is that they got their powers after they were kidnapped and given them against their wills. Cyborgs who willingly discard their identities as humans are portrayed as villains, as are characters who treat cyborgs as tools or machines. There's also the running theme that technology like that used to make the cyborgs should be used for the good of humanity, instead of creating weapons (as the Black Ghost had intended).
This becomes a pivotal plot point in Suisei no Gargantia. After getting stranded on Earth, Ledo, a soldier for the Galactic Alliance, learns that his hated enemy, an alien species known as the Hideauze are also present on Earth, and vows to destroy every last one of them. He later learns via a lot of old recordings and news clips possibly hundreds of years old that the Hideauze were actually genetically modified humans. He doesn't take it very well, particularly as he'd been taught to believe they were a hostile alien force, and just hours earlier slaughtered hundreds, if not thousands of them on Earth.
Marvel averts this tendency more often than DC does. Iron Man, Hank Pym and several superheroes created during the Avengers Initiative are deliberate upgrades. Ultimate Marvel zigzags this trope. On the one hand, most of the Ultimates are successful super soldier or high tech weapons experiments, on the other hand all the mutants are byproducts of the various attempts over decades to reliably manufacture super soldiers.
Speaking of graphic novels, Robota lays down some rules for this. The effect to be feared from augmentations is that they'll make you think your superiority makes your life and desires more important than those of others. However, the augmentations themselves are perfectly harmless, as are changes in physical capabilities that do not change your appearance. Risk comes in when you no longer look like a human, since you might forget your origins.
In Rom Spaceknight, an army of young Galadorians volunteered to be made into cyborg "Spaceknights" to fight the evil Dire Wraiths. The huge majority of them viewed this as a personal sacrifice, and lived only for the day the war would be over and they could be surgically returned to normal. The second generation of Spaceknights produced, however, embraced their bionic nature and declared themselves to be superior beings, and nearly wiped out the normal Galadorians before being stopped. As a result of these bad experiences with cyborg technology, the current generation of Spaceknights are just non-augmented Galadorians in very powerful Powered Armor.
Reimagined Enterprise explores Star Trek's use of the trope. The Eugenics Wars had already justified why Bio-Augmentation is off the table, and the reason for cyborgs being a no-no appears to be that there were a few experiments in cybernetics on twenty-first century Earth, but the collapse of the Internet as a result of World War III meant the users all died in a Keystone Army fashion.
If Transhumanism comes up in a Vathara story, this point of will not be presented in a positive light.
The human scientists have the ability to create Human-Na'vi genetic hybrid bodies (Avatars), as well as project a human consciousness into them. However, the Na'vi mind transfer ritual can make this permanent, effectively allowing for new bodies to be produced in a lab and continuously body-hopped into as the old one ages or gets injured. It's a completely ethical method of near-immortality (for humans as well as Na'vi), but this is never brought up in the movie. On the other hand, the vast majority of humans are completely unaware of this capability, even if they know about the neural network itself, which is also something that the majority don't.
It proves impractical for immortality since Universal Health-care is non-existent and even something as trivial (compared to the creation of a huge alien-human hybrid) as regrowing a couple of nerves is prohibitively expensive for the average person.
In point of fact, the mind transfer concept was only used twice (the first semi-failed and the second, although successful, was the last moment of the movie) and wasn't even something the humans were aware of. Grace was aware of the neural network and some of its potential and tried to bring it up, but Selfridge just shut her down without bothering to listen.
Is mostly like this: Artificial Limbs are considered vulgar, and Sith Alchemy is worse than planetbusting. Villains like Darth Vader and Grievous use cybernetics that make them more dangerous in physical combat, but only after suffering crippling injuries. Good guys like Luke Skywalker only use replacement cybernetics that are somewhat more effective than the original body parts were, when it comes up at all. Clone troopers can be mass-produced, but are still only on the level of well-trained regular soldiers, instead of being enhanced to Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine levels or anything in that vein.
One minor example of a transhuman character in the films is Lando Calrisian's majordomo Lobot, a man with (rather clunky-looking) cybernetic brain implants. His implant basically turns him into that guy you know who's always on his mobile. To the point where, in the Expanded Universe, he gets lonely if he turns off his implants. It is explained in the EU that Lobot's cyber-enhancement was actually an alternative sentence Ė originally a behavioral reconfiguarator on account of him in his youth being convicted of stealing. His name could be seen as a contraction of Lobotomy, and that doesn't suggest that the modifications were entirely beneficial or even voluntary.
There are also monks who like to have their Brain in a Jar. Sith Alchemy depends on The Dark Side. Vader became weaker, not stronger, after being turned into a cyborg. And the stormtroopers have a full-body armor, so it's unlikely that enhancements on the underlying flesh would help them much. Stormtroopers could be enhanced for things like not being knocked out when you hit them on the head through their armour. And the armour isn't powered, so a strength enhancement would help them too.
One note though, the ARC trooper clones are indeed superhuman, given genetic enhancements at formation in addition to less genetic inhibitation on Freedom of thought allowing them to do really crazy things like leap up onto the top of an AAT that is twice as tall as they are in one jump, run up grappling lines at inhuman speeds, very casually wield gatling blasters without any trouble whereas normal clones find the things to be quite unwieldy though possible to use while standing, or strap a quadruple repeating blaster on their chest and stand without breaking their backs. This is what separates them from Clone Commandos, who are just regular clones given much better gear and training.
Zig-zagged in Dune: deliberate breeding programs are used to create humans with intelligence, reflexes, lifespan, capacity higher consciousness and physical capabilities far beyond those of current-day humans, but a religious taboo is kept in place on genetically engineering anything recognizably inhuman or unable to interbreed back into the larger human population. Thus, the characters and societies remain human while simultaneously having greater advancements over modern man than modern man has over homo erectus. The Tleilaxu, however, have no religious taboo on inhumanity and gleefully make a living selling inhuman humans genetically-engineered for specific purposes, including gholae (clones made from the cellular material of dead people) and axolotl tanks (giant wombs on life support used to grow such creatures).
Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium: The Bureau Of Technology not only policed technology, but contaminated all records they have with false data; people know how to build the stuff they use, but are ignorant of the underlying principles that make them work. After the Dirty Communists and Eagleland wipe each other out, say hello to the Empire of Man, which lacks those controls - leading to the rise of the warlike and scheming Saurons.
In the CoDominium universe, genetic engineering is a crap shoot — the Saurons are superhuman, but also overspecialized and much less adaptable. Apparently, the other cultures in CoDo space decided to keep their options open rather than risk brainlocking themselves racially.
Larry Niven's Known Space: The ARM polices all technology which could be turned into a Weapon of Mass Destruction — and every technology has a destructive use, so the only new technologies in the series are the ones they're unable to suppress quickly. The ARM don't call themselves royalty, but they're the only ones who choose who gets weapons - and before you ask, the answer is an emphatic no unless Earth itself is being attacked by man-eating cats. (Which happens more often than you'd expect.) Then they pass them out once the surplus population is cut down a bit.
On the other hand, once the ARM stranglehold is broken after Hyperspace technology is bought, most flatlanders have near-immortality thanks to Boosterspice, "modern" geriatrics, cheap widely-available access to nearly any kind of healthcare needed (Autodocs are so common they're used for everything from surgery to hangover cures to haircuts), and prosthesis so similar to the original that they put organ transplants out of business. Humans not on Earth have less access simply because no other human world is quite as developed, but still can live for a long time. And after the Puppeteers diddle the Birthright Lotteries a bit too hard, we get the only genetic advantage we'll ever need: all-pervasive luck. Turns out it's inheritable, and yes, it spread like a wildfire.
The transhuman Luculenti in John Meaney's To Hold Infinity use serious brain augmentation, though this is controlled to prevent people upgrading themselves too much and having... alien thought patterns emerge. The result of one gentleman doing just that can be seen in the Nulapeiron sequence by the same author in the form of The Anomaly. The inhabitants of Nulapeiron also use impressive amounts of augmentation though not at all in the classic cyborg vein, and more importantly not the sort that leads to inhuman modes of thought.
The Fall Revolution series by Ken Mac Leod features the rise and fall of the "Fast Folk", strongly transhuman individuals who uploaded themselves to immensely powerful computer frameworks/spaceships and constructed a wormhole to a distant planet and the far future before going insane, malfunctioning and dying. Except for the ones that survived (just), and spent a few hundred years plotting to take over most of the universe once they'd pulled themselves together again. Oh, and incidentally crushed most merely human governments and killed millions (and forcibly uploaded millions more) and trashed all serious technology in the solar system by hacking, EMP, or plain old computer viruses. This is the reason why AI/uploading transhumanism is quite definitely not allowed in the later books of the series. OTOH even the relatively bioconservative humans have biological immortality — the oldest is about 350 years old — and they'll take brain backups to be written into new bodies in case they die.
Vorkosigan Saga: there are transhumanist elements, but fairly limited given the potential. Cetagandan haut are an ongoing project to make better humans. Jackson's Whole will make altered humans to order, or a clone to transplant your brain into. Four-armed space workers, quaddies, were made. Hermaphrodites were made as a social experiment in gender relations. Most civilized people use uterine replicators instead of natural pregnancies, and have their children's genes 'cleaned' of defects. Total sex change, down to the genes, is available. All that aside, lifespans don't seem impressive for 1000 years in the future and the demonstrated ability to regrow any body part, most people are pretty close to baseline human, implants seem vanishingly rare. Basically, they have nice medicine, but not too nice for lifespan purposes, and some isolated wacky experiments.
Discworld: Igors are pretty much biological transhumanists in hunchback form. They play with it themselves, but are kept isolated from the main plot; when a character in the Watch dies, Vimes refuses to let the local Igor try to bring the character back. Sort of like magic not ruling: there for color, but not to do anything transformative.
Mike Resnick's Santiago: A Myth of the Far FutureSpace Western plays this absolutely dead straight - people only get cybernetics when they're injured, but as Sebastian Cain comments on someone else's eyepatch, "Why doesn't he just get a cybernetic one? I've got one - it sees better than the one I was born with."
Note that, despite the above, by the year 2600 the two societies coexist peacefully: Adamists are the vast majority, but Edenists use their bitek to harvest fusion fuel from jovian planets and stabilize the economy. Also, with one exception, most Edenists rely on bitek space habitats, while Adamists colonize planets. Neither of them can survive on their own (and the Edenist Consensus makes this clear when the issue is brought up).
Also note that bitek has its limitations: it can outperform "solid-state" technologies by a fair margin, but bitek constructs have a limited lifespan (less than 50 years for starships) and are generally harder and more expensive to create; biocomputers also generally become sentient the moment they're switched on, leading to some ethical issues at one point with one that was essentially created to be killed. Also, on the issue of Brain Uploading: this is a universe where the soul, in its religious sense, is a real thing, and the Kiint reveal that Edenist uploads are not "real" souls, but copies running inside sentient bio-computers, simply adding their experience and personality to the computer's own soul. All Edenists who ever died, died as much as everyone else. This results in some Laser-Guided Karma for G7, the Ancient Conspiracy that rules Earth; back in the late 21st century, they attempted to ban transhumanism via religious persecution, as they were secretly using bitek make themselves immortal via copying their minds into clones. There are thus dozens of copies of each of these megalomaniacs in the Beyond, who come back as the Possessed and raise all kinds of hell.
In The League of Peoples Verse, the technology for cyborging exists, but the League explicitly disapproves of it. Genetic engineering is also illegal in the human Technocracy, as it goes horribly wrong more often than it succeeds. Genetic engineering is only widely used by alien species, such as the Divians and Cashlings.
In "The Waves Stifle the Wind" by the Strugatski brothers, a small group of humans (about one in 100000) begin to evolve biologically, and it is assumed as truth by all sides that those "Ludens" must leave Earth, as otherwise the human society would be destroyed. in the end, they leave.
In Charles Stross' Accelerando, the things that humans and the artificial intelligences they spawn turn into are effectively transhumans; they do not communicate with the remnant of humanity in any direct way because their minds are so totally alien in structure and function. Having your mind adjusted to cope with their fiendishly complex economic system they use is effectively a one-way trip and results in you losing your humanity.
It is interesting to note that the transhuman intelligences bear the rest of humanity no ill-will, or even any passing interest: "normal" intelligences simply cannot provide any threat or anything of interest and are more or less entirely beneath their notice. One interesting ability one weakly godlike intelligence gains is the ability to create a perfect software model of a human intelligence and run it though a "Turing oracle" to exhaustively calculate every possible response the human might have in a situation. It would be literally impossible to out-think such a being without upgrading your own intelligence, and it would already know that you'd try to do that.
Another Stross book, Glass House does not have any strongly superhuman minds presented in the story but implies that they could exist. The protagonist decides that worrying about superhuman intelligences is futile, because if any were involved there would be simply no hope of defeating their plans.
The Honor Harrington series plays with this in an interesting way. While the 'Good' guys at Beowulf have created a process that allows for life-spans of over three centuries and are working on improvements, replacement grown limbs are common, and those few who can't use them due to genetic instabilities can get cybernetic limbs with no real stigma or issues, and in the case of a planet called Sharpton, are actually a cultural icon, they are insistent that this is not self-enhancement so much as bringing out the genome's full potential. Actually improving on the body using Genetic Engineering, on the other hand, is widely stigmatised thanks to the damage done to Old Earth in its Final War, partly due to eugenic Super Soldiers, and those who are outright gene-modded or descended from such try to keep quiet about it. The real bad guys of the setting (though Word of God says they are just Well-Intentioned Extremist who have a very good point) are renegade Beowulfians who have been actively enhancing the gene pool of their key members for centuries.
In the novelisation of Red Dwarf, mention is made of the world having got over issues of mere drug-enhanced athletes in the Olympics and professional sports only to be faced by the problems posed by genetic and biological modification - Olympic sprinters who are all legs with only a vestigial upper body, for instance, and professional footballers with vestigial heads (un-necessary for the game of soccer) whose brains are minimal and literally in their feet. This is resolved by making professional sport leagues for genetically modified players, thus driving the old boring natural sort into extinction. People cheer professional boxers who can pummel each other for days on end, or pro soccer teams made up of genetically modified players. The text notes that Scotland fields a goalkeeper who is a massive rectangle of flesh who in theory can block the entire goal - yet Scotland still fails to qualify for the World Cup.
In Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds, following a Nanotech disaster the surviving humans split into two factions: the "Slashers" who said "What's done is done, no use crying over spilt milk" and embrace all possible technology, including genetic modifications and implants, and the "Threshers", who will only use tech which is essential for survival. They leave their own bodies alone.
In S.A. Swanns Terran Confederacy universe series, AIs, Nano Machines, and the genetic engineering of sapients are all forbidden with a religious zeal throughout the Confederacy, as well as its precursor and successor states.
In The Nexus Series, The United States and Europe have adopted stringent laws against augmentation of the human body, including genetic augmentation and the use of "drugs" like the titular Nexus. Things are a bit more liberal in the east however.
Largely averted in Sergey Lukyanenko's Genome, where a large percentage of humans have been modified by in utero gene therapy to a pre-selected Specification. During puberty, the Specs undergo a metamorphosis during which their bodies and minds change to better suit their future career. This is considered normal, although the Naturals (who only undergo the very basic gene therapy to correct common birth defects) tend not to like Specs much, which is reciprocated by the Specs. Interestingly, in his foreword, the author is the one who expresses this trope's views by pointing out that this effectively keeps people confined to their roles without the possibility of any mobility. In Lukyanekno's opinion, this is already happening, to an extent, without any genetic modifications. Rich people's children get better care and education than poor people's children and frequently end up in the same careers are their parents.
Early in The Color Of Distance the alien Tendu help a stranded human to survive on their world by giving her their color-changing skin, claws, senses, and her own set of spurs, which she gradually learns to use to examine organ function, heal, and synthesize things with. She grows to appreciate this but worries that she won't be able to change back when she's with her own kind again, and in fact asks them to do so, though she keeps slightly enhanced senses and reflexes. In the second book she doesn't seem to miss her alien enhancements at all.
The Quantum Thief-trilogy averts this trope in every way possible, but also goes its way to subvert it, exploring just how difficult it would be to retain a traditional human society in the midst of transhuman technologies. In the first novel there is the Oubliette colony, which tries to preserve everything that was good about the original society, but to reach this end all the citizens are permanently connected to the colony-wide Exomemory, and own total encryption rights over their own portion of it. Only the extreme degree of multi-layered memory encryption prevents the Sobornost mind upload collective from simply swooping in and forcefully uploading the entire population in accordance to their Great Common Task, but it also means that, in essence, the Oubliette is in fact a Hive Mind that hallucinates being a human society, as if the encryptions were to be removed, everybody would share all their thoughts and memories.
In AncillaryJustice, the Radachaai consider people with cybernetics past a certain level to not be human (and thus not be people). It is implied that most other places have similar views on transhumanism, though some small societies embrace it to the point of being practically unrecognizable as human and consider it odd that others don't do the same.
Human evolution is shown to progress to the state of Vorlon-like Energy Beings in "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars", millions of years in the future. We got a brief preview of that in the first-season episode "Mind War", which involved experimentation on telepaths. And Telepaths themselves are eventually revealed to be the result of alien biotech.
Agent Bester expresses an interest in Lyta's body (after she's died and finished using it, with her consent... unusually reasonable, really) after being Touched by Vorlons made her an extraordinarily powerful telepath. He points out that understanding what happened to her would allow all telepaths to improve themselves in ways unconstrained by their current biology. Whether this actually worked out was never revealed, though it is notable that the result of one experiment to increase the power of a telepath created a godlike energy being who promptly left the galaxy in search of something he could relate to.
The control units of the Shadow spacecraft turn out to be kidnapped telepathic humans with large amounts of cybernetic augmentation. Given that the contruction process is effectively Mind Rape and the victims are little better than Brainwashed and Crazy, it isn't exactly shown in a positive light.
Draal, once installed in the Great Machine, appears to be a Trans-Minbari and seems quite happy about the whole thing, and has the abilities of a minor demigod by way of a bonus.
The Technomages were shown in Crusade to be cyborgs using Shadow nanotechnology. The full reveal didn't come until the unproduced season finale, the script for which was available online briefly. This was further explored in the canon novels, which claimed "the tech" was slowly driving them nutty, until Galen found a solution.
In Doctor Who transhumanism appears in good and bad light. Donít think that itís a coincidence that most of the transhumanism is good examples come from the new series.
The Time Lord themselves may be a transGallifreyan race, augmented by regeneration and time senses.
A cyborg character was reluctant to reveal his status, and when he finally reluctantly mentioned one of his implants that could save the cast, Astrid told him not to worry, saying cyborg rights were making progress, and they were even allowed to marry now. (Does This Remind You of Anything?)
In the episode "Forest of the Dead", a death has him save the remains of his future companion's Data Ghost by uploading it into a virtual reality contained within a giant hard drive.
In "The Doctor Dances" he upgrades nanobots to heal an army of zombies Ė although the zombies were created by the same nanobots gone wild anyway.
The Doctor criticized the Implants in "The Long Game" for being more primitive than expected.
At the end of the universe the Doctor mentions that humans went through periods of uploading, or being gas.
Rory's mind is essentially transferred into a plastic automaton body. Despite taking The Slow Path for about two thousand years, he's mostly treated by the show and characters as pretty much the same guy he was when he was biologically human.
At the end of the universe the transhumans have still regressed back to humanity, and keep going back to the same form.
The future humans then turn into evil flying brainballs.
The Daleks are the modified Kaled mutant, placed in a travel machine. Cyborg, genetically engineered genocidal monstrosities. Played with some nuance in Genesis of the Daleks, however, where the good Kaled scientists plan to continue creating Daleks, but without removing the brain cells containing the conscience.
The Cybermenís evilness is a outgrowth of their self modification.
In "The Lazarus Experiment", the Doctor seems to dislike the villain's attempts to basically regenerate like a Time Lord and, just to eliminate any moral greyness, the experiment fails spectacularly because of the scientist's own pride and hubris (thus sidestepping the moral dilemma).
Star Trek: In The Federation, Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke (and illegal if done for enhancements) because of the Eugenics Wars. Their technology is so advanced they should be able to do most anything; the transporter might be able to resurrect anyone who dies as long as their pattern is stored in the buffer, and maybe multiply them too (or, depending on the physics involved, maybe not). If the replicator can make just about everything by converting energy to matter on the subatomic level, they should be able to manipulate pre-existing matter on that level, including their own flesh (again possibly not. The show's Hand Wave for not doing so is that replicating complex life would require quantum-level duplication, which is consistent with at least some real-world theories on the as-yet highly speculative subject). More specific examples include but are by no means limited to the following:
Geordi LaForge has a visor that allows him to perceive radiation outside the normal spectrum visible to humans, yet no one else uses such a device even if it would be useful to them. It's mentioned in some episodes that wearing the visor causes him constant pain.
In an episode of TNG, a deathly ill villain manages to capture Data and download his own personality into the robot brain. He is rather pleased with his new super-strong and immortal body, but when he offers to do the same for his girlfriend, she breaks down crying, finding the idea monstrous.
Nanomachines that can repair and even improve living bodies have been shown, then ignored (or used only by the villains, except when convenient for the heroes).
One episode of Deep Space Nine had a cyborg who could interface her brain with computers; it's referred to as a rare occurrence. And of course, genetic alteration of humans is illegal and the resulting beings subject to Fantastic Racism and legalized discrimination because of a war that happened centuries ago caused by augmented humans raised to believe they were superior beings.
Another episode of Deep Space Nine features a character suffering progressive brain damage, and having their brain supplemented with computer implants. Once their organic brain is completely destroyed, the doctor just lets the character die because nobody sees any point in keeping them alive, despite the fact that in-universe the character is still a sapient, sentient being with all of his original memories. However, the character in question didn't feel like himself with the implants and wasn't really interested in living a shadow life.
In one episode, Ensign Barclay is raised to literally godlike superintelligence by an alien probe. He starts out by using it to indulge various personal desires and do his job with superhuman efficiency, then goes off on a power trip to where he hijacks the Enterprise and takes it to meet some nigh-omnipotent aliens — the probe makers — who revert him to normal human intelligence. But at no time throughout his several days of apotheosis does it occur to him to devote one minute to studying his own augmented brain, how it got that way, and how he could possibly reproduce the phenomenon in others. You'd think he'd at least be interested in checking out 'Is this new rush of brains temporary or permanent? And does it have side effects?' Because he's still Barclay. Intelligence is not wisdom.
Artificial lifeforms like Data, Lal, and EMH-1 have to prove they are deserving of rights. Over and over again.
Amazingly even when the Federation finds out that not everyone who is genetically enhanced goes crazy they suppress the information rather than try to find out what makes Bashir different and potentially move themselves forward hundreds of years. Nothing changes however: each Augment has a chance to turn normal or turn like Khan, Admiral Ross states that. It's just that one bad augment can result in deaths of millions if not more. Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke on danger level. Indeed it is supposed that Khan was Gone Horribly Right rather than Gone Horribly Wrong - it was the feeling of being superior that made him evil, not any flaw in the process.
Actually, in a plot arc of Star Trek: Enterprise, they revisit this point. Apparently examining their genetic code with 22nd century technology, they discovered that there really was a flaw in the process. A subtle flaw in their enhanced neurology also created increased aggression.
An ironic aspect of all of this is that the Augments really were not ridiculously powerful. Indeed, all things considered they were only slightly superior to most Vulcans, and not in all respects. It was simply that they tended to use their enhanced abilities in a very aggressive way. But numerous Federation species possess greater-than-human attributes. Vulcans are the most obvious example. But you also have the Betazoids, who are human-like but possess telepathic powers. Then there are the El-Aurian's, who have incredibly long lifespans. Peculiarly, there is no fear of transhuman traits being acquired via interbreeding with alien races. But trying to gain the exact same traits via genetic engineering is considered a taboo.
Averted in the novelization of the first movie, which claims that most of humanity outside of Starfleet is actually going a transhumanist route, forming into massminds and such, and Kirk, as narrator, regards this as a generally good thing and chides himself for being old-fashioned. However, this claim is not supportedanywhere else in Trek canon.
Averted in part in Star Trek Into Darkness, where one bridge member has obvious cybernetics. There's still the ban against Bio-Augmentation, but that's more due to politics stemming from the Eugenics war. In fact, the villain is an augment, namely Khan.
Warhammer 40,000 only dodges The Singularity because all that technology is focused on continuing the Last Stand. The Imperium, despite being a pack of religious zealots employs numerous Super Soldiers & cyborgs, though they do have a ban on advanced AI due to a past Robot War. Also the Necrons, who are an entire race of full-body cyborgs. The Orkz are an entire race of genetically engineered warriors who also use (extremely crude) cybernetics, either to replace lost parts, to increase their fighting ability, or as is the case with Mek Blag's Mk1 Exploding leg because the painboy thought it would be funny (even if the patient went in to have a tooth pulled). Plays the trope relatively straight with the Eldar, who are supposedly the most advanced race in the galaxy following the necrons. Despite being genetically engineered along with the Orkz, they only use cyborg technology, in the form of Wraithguards & Wraithlords to replace the bodies of those killed in combat & never think of using it voluntarily to enhance their frail bodies, relying instead on Psychic Powers & have apparently made no further genetic enhancements to themselves since their creation by The Old Ones. The Tau are a little behind the Imperium in technology and do not allow any genetic enhancement beyond the selective breeding used to maintain their rigid caste system (although it's been hinted that the Ethereals were created through bio-engineering by another race, possibly the Eldar) & have no visible cybernetic enhancements, either, though some may have minor implants for combat purposes.
The Eldar are attempting to create a new Chaos God, a god of the Eldar Dead, Ynnead, which will presumably be a good guy and kill the other Chaos God they created, Slaanesh. To do so they'll need millions if not billions of the souls that power the Eldar Wraith machines — and while in the wraith machines the souls are trapped inside crystals that are very fragile. In addition while inside the Wraith machines the Eldar are basically being kept away from their afterlife AND are trapped in a half-awake hell. There's a reason the Eldar are loath to use them.
Also the Imperium does have AIs, but they have to be connected to a human, (e.g. The Titans) What exactly is and isn't allowed with regard to AIs seems to vary wildly between the branches of the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Imperial Clergy and the game designers. Every machine is expected to have a machine spirit which can be placated by offerings and prayer and some machine spirits are certainly more than superstition (advanced tanks like the Land Raider have at least an expert system), yet strong AI is definitely out of the question. Although, if the comic Damnation is to be believed, even a simple bolt pistol's Machine Spirit is intelligent enough to worry about whether it has failed its "master".
The Eldar do have cybernetic implants, they're just not especially prevalent in modern versions. In second and third editions, every other eldar seemed to have some kind of plate in his head or an enhanced limb, they sometimes still use these older art pieces too. They also seem to fuse crystals to their heads a lot for the enhancement and protection of their minds (to be distinguished from waystones, which hold their souls, and are on the chest) a lot even in modern depictions, though. While regular Eldar don't have much transhumanists (-eldarists?), the Dark Eldar are perfectly happy to augment their bodies. Most of them prefer to retain their appearance due to vanity, although they may be heavily augmented under their skin (there's at least one Succubus that has replaced all of her muscles with cybernetic ones to enhance her strength and reaction time). The Haemonculi themselves don't care about appearances so they tend to have things like extra arms and surgery tools crafted onto their bodies.
The human Cult Mechanicus finally is strongly based upon transcending the frailties of the flesh, mostly by replacing it with machine parts. They're generally regarded as weird, but accepted as the second religion in the Imperium because they're the only ones who understand the technology. Some of them choose to undergo the Rite of Pure Thought, which involves replacing the parts of their brains responsible for emotion with computing gear. This leaves them utterly unemotional and rational and is considered an extreme measure even among the Mechanicus mainstream.
The Adeptus Mechanicus try to replace as much organic matter as possible with machinery. There are two specific Adepts - in Eisenhorn and Storm of Iron respectively. The former is reduced to a brain in a mechanical body, and the latter is a brain and a face hooked up to a vast databank. Would count as And I Must Scream if said Adept didn't seem to actually prefer this state of affairs. In the new Rogue Trader rulebook it is shown that unobtrusive bionics do exist, but are frowned upon by the Adeptus Mechanicus who view overt and baroque augmentation as a mark of honour.
Also in Eisenhorn is the villain Pontinus Glaw, basically a box with psychic powers. later a robotic body is built for him as an act of mercy by Eisenhorn. Whoops!
The Space Marines in general arguably count under transhumanism since the genetic modifications to them make them far, far, far beyond the capabilities of humans. They are impossibly strong, with bulletproof bones, quickly clot should they become injured, have heightened senses, require less sleep and turn off parts of their brain to continue being awake, and may very well be capable of living forever if the violence of their universe didn't make a violent death so likely...among other things. However, the Imperium only allows lets certain very Bad Ass children to become Space Marines, as the modifications must start being implanted during puberty. And a large quantity of said Bad Ass children will likely die at the hands of the even more so to have those ones be eligible for becoming a Space Marine.
The Iron Hands Chapter of Space Marines: their whole schtick is the weakness of the flesh and the strength of the machine. Before becoming a full Space Marine, the iniate must have his right hand replaced with a cybernetic equivalent, and from that point on the Chapter's Marines gleefully replace their flesh as much as they possibly can, viewing injuries as a good thing because it gives them an excuse to get the bodypart replaced with a machine equivalent.
The Iron Warriors are basically the Chaos Marine equivalent of the Iron Hands. Not only do they suffer degenerations in their geneseed that cause them to suffer crippling deformities or unviable mutations in their limbs, necessitating bionic replacements, but they willingly infect themselves with the Obliterator Virus. Which basically turns them into a shapeshifting morass of organic meat and metal.
The various citizenry of the Imperium don't have much longer life expectancies than modern-day humans (and, if you're born on a feral world or death world, much much less) but a few of the imperial aristocracy can gain access to bionics and surgeries to extend their lives. Commissar Yarrick has been alive for over 400 years through a combination of life-rejuvenation and bionics, and Colonel "Iron Hand" Strakken has half his body replaced with bionics.
Eversor Assassins are designed to be walking one-man gorefest. However, they are not genetically modified like the Space Marines. They instead use a combination of bionics and a really wild cocktail of combat drugs to increase their killing power. The side effects of these drugs is that their bodies will explode on death, and they are in a permanent drug-induced rage, necessitating the operatives be sedated and transported in stasis between assignments. The other assassin temples rarely resort of such extremes, instead opting to train the crap out of their skills.
In Eclipse Phase, this trope is played straight and justified with the Bioconservative factions, most notably the Jovian Republic, and otherwise gleefully averted - even with a cultural preference for basically human bodies, the vast majority of the system's population prefer to sleeve into genetically enhanced Splicer morphs.
Likewise in the Transhuman SpaceGURPS setting, many transhumanist technologies exist, but some are banned by particular societies.
Transhumanism is almost totally absent in Traveller . It is justified by technological stasis/regress and social stigma.
Played with in Shadowrun. Many, many people have some degree of mechanical alteration - the datajack is the most common bit of cyberware in the world. However, a number of people consider cybernetic modification to be a bad idea, and it's not just the mages. (While altering your body screws up your Essence, tied to a mage's power, even some non-magical people find the whole idea of cyberware to be creepy.) Though this depends on the edition. Fourth edition is much more Post-Cyberpunk and most people have at least some. Not the magic uses though; cyberware still messes up magic.
By the era of Paranoia — which may be anywhere from a hundred to thousands of years in the future — humanity basically only still exists because The Computer's directives say it must. Those who show transhuman tendencies and evolutionary advancement are branded "mutants" and enslaved or exterminated. The status quo is all.
The series contains very small man-portable force field generators, amazing metallurgy, and an entire species of intelligent humanoid robots. The only integrated tools are biotic implants in most species, and possibly tech tools. Even when you bring a member of the species that created those humanoid robots into the same ship with a man whose bones are so fragile he can barely walk, no one draws a connection. Saren, on the other hand, is most robotic, although he does have access to supertech and an evil AI is forcing him to upgrade that way as a form of mind control. The game does repeatedly mention that genetic enhancement is very common, to the point where every human soldier has been upgraded, presumably including the main character. However, strict restrictions apply in that you can upgrade a species' existing abilities, such as strength and speed, but adding anything completely new, such as extra arms or acid spit, is completely illegal. Even research into creating entirely new organisms is now illegal. Medi-gel was created by human genetic experimentation and is technically illegal, but it's so damn useful that the Citadel's made an exemption.
In the third game EDI riffs on the notion that Shepard might be considered Transhuman and the legal ramifications of this, causing Shepard to become highly concerned. EDI then emphatically states that Shepard is not a Transhuman due to still having an organic mind. Of course, it should be noted that we later learn that she's capable of lying to spare the feelings of others, so its entirely possible that Shepard actually is a Transhuman.
According to Sovereign, the Mass Effect technology is left around so that the species who discover it will develop along those technological lines, and since they are never left around long enough to truly understand the complex technology in any way but reverse engineering it, they never develop any radical modifications.
In the 2nd game Miranda states that she's had so many genetic modifications that she's superior in every way to baseline humans. Grunt is synthesized from different Krogan strains to be perfect, and the sterilization of the Krogans was certainly a frightening indication of how advanced technology is. Garrus has some cyborg replacements, but as it is shown with Shepard, all of this is incredibly expensive even for a monstrously wealthy, shadowy corporation.
Joker, on the other hand, has a rare genetic disorder that no one understands, so it would probably be a significant undertaking to correct his disease, and he would probably resent the offer. It's worth noting that he mentions occasionally having to use crutches in the first game, but is shown getting around reasonably fine in the second and third. Apparently the technological boom after the destruction of Sovereign gave rise to better medical technology and treatment of individuals with brittle bone disease. Genetic engineering also has progressed to the point where Mordin could potentially cure his condition... at least, if he could figure out how to prevent the cure from also shutting down his liver at the same time.
At the end of Mass Effect 3, one of the endings could be more or less described as Transhumanism For Everyone.
The villains of Oni take a rare example of entirely xenobiological modification, although they're more villainous because they want to force humanity to upgrade, rather than because they are upgraded. The heroine is revealed to have been upgraded in this manner far in the past. Bungie likes averting this trope. Of course, it's also a setting where neurally linked androids are used to replace a simple monitoring system, but normal human soldiers with unimpressive body armor are used to fight said biologically enhanced superhumans.
The backstory of Starcraft describes how the tyrannical United Powers League arrested all cyborgs, mutants, cyberpunks and other such "undesirables" from Earth at one point and threw them in jail to "purify" the population. Granted, for the most part these weren't nice people or innocent victims, which is why the Koprulu Sector (where many of them got deported as a kickstarter for deep space colonization) is so full of back-stabbing, treacherous Terran bastards. It's also implied that this is the reason why they survived at all.
Explored in the CDi game Mutant Rampage Body Slam, in which there are very few pure humans left, and genetically-enhanced mutants and cyborgs are the norm. The heroes are The Naturals, a team of pure humans competing in Blood Sport against all the evil mutants and cyborgs. It's a very anti-scientific game.
The whole reason why the Advent were banished in Sins of a Solar Empire was because the Traders viewed transhuman practices as abhorrent perversions.
Averted and played straight in Streets of Rage 3 of all things. New hero character Zan is a huge cyborg with only his human head remaining and nobody bats an eye despite the series not previously dealing with any heavy sci-fi concepts. Played straight in that Mr. X is now a brain in a jar that works through multiple robot bodies... but he was evil to begin with, so it could be argued as Rule of Cool and another aversion.
Averted in Sid Meierís Alpha Centauri, where transhumanism is inevitable in the higher stages of technological development. Brain Uploading is commonplace by the endgame, and the ultimate objective of all the factions is to complete the "Ascent to Transcendence" and use the planet's own neural network to survive its final transformation into a godlike sentience.
In the Expansion Pack, the Manifold Caretakers are specifically against this ending and will fight anyone who strives for it. However, this stems from the last time someone tried to do this, resulting in the destruction of their home system. Here are the defining quotes of the Caretaker leader and her counterpart among the Manifold Usurpers:
"Tau Ceti flowering: Horrors visited upon neighboring systems must never be repeated. Therefore: if it means the end of our evolution as a species, so be it." — Caretaker Lular H'minee, "Sacrifice : Life"
"Risks of Flowering: considerable. But rewards of godhood: who can measure?" — Usurper Judaa Marr, "Courage : To Question"
Played straight and averted in the Spiritual SuccessorCivilization: Beyond Earth, where two of the "Affinities" (basically, guiding philosophies) involve the two primary means of improving humanity: bio-modification (Harmony) and cybernetics (Supremacy). The third Affinity called Purity is vehemently opposed to any sort of transhumanism (although they still use basic gene therapy to eliminate genetic defects and certain diseases), preferring to build heave defenses and use big guns against the other two. In fact, of the three, the Purity Affinity is the one that advocates terraforming, while Harmony and Supremacy are focused on modifying humans to survive on the planet. The Harmony victory is identical to the Ascent to Transcendence victory in Alpha Centauri. The Supremacy victory, meanwhile, involves conquering Earth and forcing all humans everywhere to accept cybernetics. The Purity victory has the anti-transhumanists call in reinforcements from Earth to crush all the others.
Semi-averted in Fracture. The war between the Atlantic Alliance and the Republic of Pacfica starts over what kind of transhumanism is allowed. Specifically, The Alliance supports cyborgnetics and opposes genetic engineering, passes a law that states persons genetically modified over a certain percentage are no longer human and are to subsequently lose their legal rights and causes Pacfica to secede.
"Moddies", humans who basically have advanced plastic surgery to alter their appearance to extremes (none of whom have any onscreen time). This is considered mildly questionable and open to abuse (Teri himself is mistaken for a extensively modded human child, with the assumption it was for sexual purposes). No other race is depicted as using the practice
On the other hand there's Terinu's whole race, the Ferin, which are a product of a long-term genetic Uplift project by the Gene Mage, and Word of God has stated that most genetic engineering revolves around the logical applications of modifying plants and animals to survive on alien colony worlds.
In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, artificial being Galatea believes herself to be the next step in Earthling evolution. When aliens contact her, she assumes it's because they've judged her worthy to ascend to their wonderful post-singularity world. In fact, they mistakenly think she has some extraterrestial tech on her, so they've come to mug her. Discussed in a series of following strips, with the Princess arguing that restraint is an important virtue in the face of such technological capability, and Galatea grumpily declaring her disappointment at learning that alien life is "Amish."
pictures for sad children - is a good example of an extremely negative view of transhumanism based on the expectation that it will be restricted to people with white skin and lots of money — while the needs of the poor will remain unmet.
In The Dragon Doctors, there's Thoria, a country that literally has a "No Transhumanism" law in place which they brutally enforce. Such magic includes the ability to shape-shift people into forms they'd prefer or even for medical reasons. Mori was exiled from Thoria as a child because of a genetic modification she needed to digest food. Since these are now standard practice in the rest of the world this trope is averted in their case. And Thoria lightened their restrictions a little after the discovery of rejuvenation.
However the Genocide Project has no issue with augmenting their agents in other ways, stimulant-loaded glands and unbreakable skeletons. And it's been revealed that they actually used a gene therapy plague to modify the entire world population so that they would be immune to any designer plagues but their own and reduce aggression. It killed almost a billion people and turned the survivors into "deviants", baseline humanity went practically extinct and only a couple people even noticed.
Once their service was no longer needed, the cyborg Valkyries of Cwynhild's Loom were required to have their technology inactivated and removed, which crippled or killed them. Their refusal to submit led them to be branded as outlaws and forms the core of the webcomic's plot.
Land Games: Averted. Everyone is meticulously designed. Three has been altered so much its been legally declared inhuman.
Orion's Arm totally averts this. Humans who have not been augmented in any way are in a distinct minority, and in theory any sentient with the correct mindset could bootstrap themselves to godlike levels of intelligence. Indeed, some of the weakly godlike AIs who rule over the vast swathes of the human inhabited galaxy may have been human themselves, once.
Futurama: Played as straight as possible when Hermes starts getting cybornetic upgrades and immediately flings himself down the slippery slope in a rapid effort to replace his humanity with blatantly evil robotic improvements, and is only redeemed when he becomes completely human again. Apparently the slightest alteration immediately gives you a superiority complex in their world.