Although mechanical beings are not 'related' in any true biological sense, the concept of robots being 'family' is nevertheless a common trope in sci-fi. After all, if robots can get married
, be ridiculously human
, and be loyal friends
, it makes perfect sense that robots would develop
their own sense of family.
How seriously this term is applied usually depends on how human-like
they are, how well characters regard robots
, and how light
the source material is. Sometimes the robots love each other just as much as any human family. Other times it's just a technical term used by humans.
The main types of family are as follows:
- Robot series: All of the robots are from the same 'series' which usually share similar designs and are usually all based off an original prototype. This can sometimes even apply to more advanced machines that follow the 'spirit' of the original design or carry on their legacy.
- Same creator: All of the robots have the same creator, making them a 'father/mother' to all the robots and making them 'siblings'. Sometimes the creator actually treats their creations like children, although some can get a bit carried away. Expect a You're Not My Father/Mother if a robotic 'son/daughter' turns against their creator. This usually overlaps with the above example, since the same creator would make similar robots. A builder treating his creation as his child is a trope dating back at least to Pinocchio.
- Replacements, clones or copies: When a robot is replaced with a better model, mass produced, or copied by another party, this technically makes the two robots 'brothers' even though they're essentially the same person in terms of design. One of the robots is usually an evil version of the other, especially if they're angry of the existence of their 'sibling'.
- Robot family: In a series where robots are allowed to live amongst humans, many robots form their own real robot 'family', usually by having robot parents making or adopting their children. Sometimes the siblings will look like they're 'related' but sometimes they can be mismatched.
This trope is the most 'family friendly'
kind of relationship that can happen between creators and fellow robots. Other kinds would be their creators being gods
, an empty technical term because the robots are barely sentient
, or the robot considers itself above
such petty 'relations'.
Also compare Robotic Spouse
for when a human has a romantic attachment to a robot, which can lead to a robot family when they adopt/make children. All of these types of robot family can include a Robot Kid
, often playing the role of "son" or "daughter".
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- One Duracell ad campaign featured the Puttermans, a nuclear family of domestic suburbanites that ran on giant Duracell batteries.
Anime and Manga
- Astro Boy: The Ur Example, Astro has his sister Uran (and a brother named Cobalt in the manga) as well as his own robotic parents, not to mention his 'sibling' Atlas that was based off his blueprints/made by the same creator.
- Chii from Chobits has her sister Freya.
- In Princess Resurrection each of the royal siblings have there own android who are also called siblings: Flandre, Francisca, Francette, Flanders and Franz - and probably several more.
- Transformers: Robots in Disguise brought us the Autobot Brothers: Prowl, X-Brawn and Sideburn. Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus are also brothers.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Chachamaru considers Chachazero her older sister because both of them were created from Evangeline's magic. She also views all of the robots that her other creators (Chao and Hakase) made as her younger siblings. She also views her three creators as her parents.
- Machine People in the "Leijiverse" (featured in Galaxy Express 999 and many others) fall into this category; they're all transformed humans, for the most part, but sometimes we see scenes of things like in "Cosmo Warrior Zero" where robot mommies are running away from explosions holding their robot babies.
- Title robot Signal in Twin Signal considers Pulse to be his brother because they were created by the same man. He also considers the human little boy Nobu to be his little brother because, personality-wise, he was programmed to act that way—but he says he'd think of Nobu that way even if it wasn't in his programming.
- The DC Universe has Dr. Magnus' Metal Men, who are all people who were accidentally transferred into robotic bodies. Sometimes.
- In most versions, they're simply a small group of robots all built by the same guy, so they have become True Companions. Generally speaking they don't consider Doc to be their "father" — after all, Platinum is in love with him.
- Ultron, the premier Killer Robot of the Marvel Universe, has created a whole bunch of other robots (The Vision, Jocasta, Alkhema, Antigone) whom he explicitly refers to as a family. Most of them have ended up betraying him. Ultron's family also includes his creator Hank Pym and the various people whose brain patterns he's copied into his creations. Things get extra-complicated when you through in Visions children with Scarlet Witch - his non-robot, human children, who are still related to their parents even though they were reincarnated and born to different families...yeah. The end result is a robot being the grandfather of two organic individuals.
- The 20th Century Fox movie Robots has this, most notably with a main character who has a mom and dad.
- In the movie continuity of Transformers there are several nods to the robots having families. Optimus Prime and Megatron are implied to be brothers (whether literal or metaphorical isn't entirely made clear), the 3 Arcee bikes have been referred to as sisters by some sources, Jetfire mentions having a mother and a father (who was apparently "the first wheel"), The Fallen and the Dynasty Of Primes are all brothers and Optimus is a great descendent of one of them. Oh and The Twins, who are... robot twins.
- Madeline Ashby's Machine Dynasty series has von Neumann androids who eat plastics, metals, and e-waste to grow and give birth to robot babies. Some of them marry humans and raise children together.
Live Action TV
- Data and Lore were "brothers" on Star Trek: The Next Generation and both acknowledged their creator Dr. Soong as their father. And later Data made an android of his own named Lal, who was his "daughter."
- In Red Dwarf, Kryten has a brother named Able and they were both created by the same woman.
- The villains of Chouriki Sentai Ohranger / Power Rangers Zeo are an evil robot royal family.
- Signalman, a robot space policeman from Gekisou Sentai Carranger, has a wife and son on his home planet. This wasn't carried over to his PR counterpart.
- In the "Baby" episode of Yo Gabba Gabba, we find out Plex the robot has a niece named Plexy.
- The Mystara setting for Dungeons & Dragons had the Hephaestons, a race of literal iron giants. They reproduced by a male and a female literally forging a child, and then adding a bit of molten metal from each of their own bodies to grant it life.
- In Hc Svnt Dracones "Cogs" have digital brains designed to grow and develop like organics. And that means they have childhoods where they go through a series of progressively larger chassis over twenty years. Generally they're raised by other Cogs but "inter-racial" families and adopted siblings are mentioned as occurring between Vectors and Cogs.
- Mega Man: The next most famous example, Mega Man/Rockman, Roll, and Proto Man/Blues are all considered siblings, as it wasn't obvious from the Theme Naming. Doctor Light is usually considered to be a father to all of them.
- Also, it was widely speculated that Dr. Light built the three in a sense that he actually wanted to have his own chidren.
- Heck, the Robot Masters of 1, 9, and Powered Up can count as well. Not that it stops some of the Powered Up robots from hitting on Roll.
- Mega Man X also counts, both being a creation of Light as well as being carrying on Mega Man's 'legacy'.
- Iris and Colonel are considered brother and sister because they were supposed to be the same reploid, but were split into two. Also Techno and Midi, who shared the same CPU.
- If we're going by the same creator-type of family like Dr. Light, don't leave Dr. Wily out of it either. His family, however, is just as rebellious as he is. Take a look at Bass and Zero, for starters.
- And in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, Dr. Wily appears in Zero's ending, and he actually called Zero his son!
- The Four Guardians in Mega Man Zero are regarded as siblings by some portions of the fandom for convenience, due to their common origin and purpose.
- In Mega Man X: Command Mission, Professor Gaudile is a recluse scientist who built the Force Metal Generator and Cinnamon, to whom he is an Overprotective Dad, sheltering Cinnamon for most of her early life.
- In Chrono Trigger, Robo and his fellow R-series robots are never actually called "brothers", but they do share a bond - or at least they used to.
- In Persona 3, Aigis and Metis are said to be sisters...
- Also, all of the anti-shadow weapons that were built with Aigis are referred to as her sisters.
- In Xenosaga, MOMO's relationship with the 100-Series Realians who preceded her is also akin to sisterhood.
- The various members of the E-100 series in Sonic Adventure are considered siblings. This becomes weird at the end of E-102's story, when it turns out that the bird powering his body is part of the same family as the bird powering his older brother.
- This can be done in The Sims of all places, particularly Sims2. Servo units are fully functional characters, just with an unusual look and weird wants/needs. They also inherit all their creator's talents. After making one Servo, the Servo can create others, easily filling a house. Since Servos are essentially immortal they will usually outlast their creators by a long shot. It's entirely possible to have a single servo and it's descendants max out the game (learning all skills et all) for you.
- The Sims 3 also has this. Any Simbot that is built will regard the person who built them as their parent. If the person who built the Simbot has any biological children, then the Simbot will regard them as half-siblings. Simbots can also build their own Simbot children.
- In Tales of Hearts, Chlorseraph and Clinoseraph, who have similar designs and were created for the same purpose, are referred to as brothers.
- The W-Numbers of Super Robot Wars Original Generation have varying degrees of "family" relationships. As (supposedly) the only one of the group to develop real human emotions, W17 starts to see her fellow androids as something like siblings, but only after defecting to the opposite side. As such, she's the first that their creator starts to see as a "daughter". But the closest sibling relationship between two W-Numbers is in the Gaiden Game Endless Frontier, with W07 and W00, who is actually an artificial human rather than an android. When his origins are first revealed, they teasingly refer to each other as "Brother Zero Zero" and "Sister Seven".
- The plot of the K.O.L.M. series has yet to be fully explained, but the robotic protagonist regards his Voice with an Internet Connection as his "mother," and at one point says that the robots that're trying to kill him are his "brothers." Subverted: In the end, he finally remembers "when I was made of meat," and in the second game his "sister" turns out to be human.
- The Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As Portable series has the Eltrian Gears, a.k.a, Amitie and Kyrie Florian, who were created by an intelligient, bumbling scientist who accidentally overdid their personality chips and so decided to raise them as his daughters.
- According to Dungeons & Dragons Online, warforged often consider others from the same factory to be family of sorts.
- The WALL-E forum role play actually has a detailed analysis of what constitutes a robot family, detailed here.
- In Orion's Arm Clade Faber usually form "reprogroups" that cooperate to construct new vecs and program them with partial copies of their personalities.
- My Life as a Teenage Robot: Jenny has several "sisters" who are actually failed prototypes created by her inventor who have since been shut down and locked up in the basement.
- Original Transformers Sideswipe and Sunstreaker are considered brothers. Also, Optimus Prime and Elita One (who are apparently romantically involved) consider Alpha Trion their father, as he rebuilt them from their previous civilian forms into their current states when they were damaged.
- Rattrap from Beast Wars made a throwaway reference to his "Great Aunt Arcee".
- Transformers Animated had Jetfire and Jetstorm refer to each other as brothers. Unlike the likes of Sideswipe and Sunstreaker, an explanation is provided: they came from a single spark that split into two at 'birth'.
- Transformers in general has plenty of these. Of course, being Mechanical Lifeforms as opposed to just simple robots helps. However, the Transformer life cycle is addressed on occasion, and as those tidbits add up, the Protoforms/Sparks/Matrix/Lifegiving MacGuffin stuff makes it extremely unlikely that the words "When two robots who love each other very, very much..." are involved, so how you get relatives is still a good question. See here for more info.
- The Aligned Continuity implies that Orion Pax (the future Optimus Prime) is a descendent of Prima, one of the thirteen Primes, the original Cybertronians created by Primus himself. Except not. Covenant of Primus reveals that Orion Pax was the reincarnation of the last of the Thirteen to be created: Optimus Prime. This doesn't make Optimus Prima's descendent — it makes him, for all intents and purposes, Prima's brother.
- One episode of Robotboy involved Robotboy finding out he had a prototype older brother ("Protoboy") that had to be shut down by Moshimo (their creator) after he was turned evil by Kamikazi and went insane. The episode revolves around the ever-naive Robotboy finding the deactivated Protoboy in Kamikazi's Rejects closet and turning him back on. The results aren't pretty.
- Similarly, a different episode involved Moshimo making a companion ("Robotgirl") for Robotboy. So Robotboy, Robotgirl and Protoboy are all siblings, technically.
- Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot uses the "same creator" version, in that Rusty and the woman who built him have a mother/son relationship. When she explains to an older scientist that she based Rusty off his research, Rusty starts calling him "Grandpa".
- In Young Justice, T. O. Morrow considers his four element-controlling robots (Red Tornado, Red Inferno, Red Torpedo, and Red Volcano) to be his children, and they refer to him as "father", even though Tornado is no longer remotely loyal to him and Red Volcano kills him and hijacks his world-domination plan. They also refer to each other as siblings. In a rather heartwarming moment, Red Tornado locates the real Morrow, a bed-ridden old man on life support, and promises to take care of him just like any other loving son would do for his father.
- Skyquake and his Palette Swap twin, Dreadwing, from Transformers Prime, are the closest to what can be considered robot relatives. Brothers in this case, as they share a split spark.
- In Futurama robots are apparently capable of sexual reproduction. As such families of robots are fairly common, Bender has at least two illegitimate offspring.
- A recent episode explains it: while most robots are made in factories, two robots can also reproduce sort-of-sexually, using a "randomized combination equation" or something like that, which pulls parts randomly from both parents to form a single new robot.
- He also refers to the factory robot that built him as his "mother", and Flexo is treated as some vaguely defined family member due to being the same model and them both having serial numbers expressible as the sum of two cubes.
- An episode of The Jetsons has George getting a blueprint of Rosie the robot maid's predecessor in her series as an inverted Mother's Day gift, as that's the closest thing she had to a mother.