Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, at least in the manga version (which goes longer than the anime), goes back and forth between playing this trope straight & subverting it. On the one hand, the world was destroyed in a nuclear war, on the other, the kindly & wise Big Creepy-Crawlies were actually created through bioengineering and so were the giant killer fungi which are actually helping to purify the Earth. Nausicaa believes that the natural order of life should prevail and that humanity needs to live or die without the benefits or burdens of the old technology.
The main conflict presented in Steamboy is that though scientists try to help the world there will either be people who want to use it for profit or people who want use it for war. The protagonist's father is under the belief that science can save the world, the grandfather believes he is going too far, and the protagonist is neutral and just wants to make sure London doesn't get destroyed. In the end, though, the moral of the story feels more like 'science can be bad or good depending on how it's used.' Take for example the Steam Castle, which was not originally a weapon, but the world's most advanced amusement park. Then there's Ray's numerous clever uses of the Steamball, like powering flying machines. At the very least, Steamboy manages to avoid being Anvilicious by grace of sheer ambiguity.
Lex Luthor, Superman's archenemy, has long been a barometer of the great bogeyman of the era: from the 30s through the atomic age, as a mad scientist he played on readers' fears of science run rampant. (Later, he'd be a corporate shark in the '80s and a corrupt politician at the turn of the millennium.) Though from the Silver Age until the Crisis, Superman himself was portrayed as a scientist of great ability (having, at the very least, perfect recall and access to Kryptonian tech), regularly building robots and whatnot. His standard lament to Luthor in those days was his wish that Luthor would go straight and use his brilliance to help mankind instead of being a Jerk Ass.
Subverted by the obvious Mengele analogue in a Boba Fett comic, in which Fett accepted a challenge to wipe out the crew of a Nazi Imperial flying concentration camp genocide ship. The Mengele-wannabe is asked by his boss what experiment he's doing; Wannabe admits, "I gave up all pretense of science long ago. I do this for pleasure."
In Knights of the Old Republic there was a Mandalorian Mad Scientist named Demagol who conducted cruel experiments on captured Jedi and on children (including his own daughter) in an effort to imbue future generations of Mandalorian warriors with the ability to use The Force. His name was later adapted to "demagolka", the only word in the Mandalorian language for "war criminal".
Reed Richards and Doctor Doom can be viewed as symbolizing technology's potential for good or evil, depending on who is wielding it and for what purpose. Reed's a perfect example, as he's often portrayed as the most cold and calculating of the Fantastic Four. For instance, during the superhero civil war, he designed an extradimensional prison camp to hold his fellow superheroes because cold logic told him that forced superhuman registration was the only way to avoid an Armageddon-level disaster. None of the less scientifically-minded members of the team could stand to be a part of it, and Sue - the conscience of the team - eventually convinced him that it was better to essentially be nice and hope for the best than to be mean for a good reason. Taken even further in Ultimate Marvel, where Reed has a full fledged Face-Heel Turn and becomes the de facto Ultimate version of Kang the Conqueror.
Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog originally averted this in the same fashion as SatAM, from which it derived most of its cast. However, the series seems to have sunk into this as time has gone by.
In Half-Life: Full Life Consequences, the "Combines" come from science and outer space. And science also makes Gordon Freeman tricked and live and strong and big. However what the fan fiction calls "science" is debatable, since in many cases, it is referred to as a tangible object.
Mr. X's attempted clone of Mew in Pokeumans was what caused the genetic shockwave that kicked the plot off. It also drove him mad and turned him into a Mewtwo, which didn't help either.
Inverted in Avatar; the scientists are all good guys and it's through the scientific approach that they realize they shouldn't interfere with Pandora's ecosystem. The Na'vi god is also a real being, fully examinable and explainable through science. The bad guys are the military and corporates who misuse technology. The movie does not suggest that humans should shift back to hunter-gatherer culture like some supporters and detractors believe. In fact, the supplementary material is pretty adamant that scientific advancement is the only way to rescue Earth from its miserable state, and that research from Pandora is vital to this progress. The message is that aboriginal peoples should not be forced to adapt modern lifestyle against their will, and that horrible consequences caused by environmental exploitation can't be fixed with more exploitation.
The original The Fly, contrary to popular belief, wasn't so much this trope than 'Science must not be approached with carelessness'. It even compares it to a 'great adventure'. In David Cronenberg's remake, this motif is absent altogether: just because it went disastrously wrong once doesn't mean that teleportation is irredeemably evil. Though the original still features the scientist destroying the machine at the end, rather than seeing that it works fine if people aren't careless like he was.
Completely turned around by Darkman, who, admittedly, was hideously deformed in a Freak Lab Accident, but the accident in question was caused by The Mafia. When things are going bad, he reminds himself, "I'm a scientist!"
Inverted by The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, where blunt force could kill the rhedosaurus, but it spread the beast's disease far and wide, and only our heroic scientist can figure out a way to kill the rhedosaurus and the disease. Luckily, and unusually, the army guys are extremely cooperative.
In the B-MovieBats, Mad Scientist Dr. McCabe initially justifies creating the rampaging super intelligent omnivorous bats with the words "I'm a scientist! That's what we do!". No one finds this explanation even the slightest bit strange.
He's only concerned about the wrong hands in the American version. In the original Japanese version, Serizawa makes no distinction between right hands and wrong hands, saying that humanity's destructive nature will cause the Oxygen Destroyer to become our very undoing if anyone gets a hold of the device.
Godzilla vs. Destoroyah retroactively questions the use of the Oxygen Destroyer by revealing it led to flesh-eating microbes that can strip organic matter immersed in water in seconds. These evolve into car-sized monsters spewing beams that disintegrate materials that possess oxygen molecules. And finally, these combine into, quite naturally, a flying Kaiju monster with a beam weapon that can kick Godzilla's ass.
The monster verges on raising the radiation levels of the entire planet beyond what life could survive. It also questions whether the doctor's sacrifice was actually heroic as the Oxygen Destroyer was, compared to other methods, less likely to destroy cities or attempt to exterminate the human race.
Played straight in Godzilla V Biollante in which genetic engineering causes the birth of a giant Godzilla-Rose hybrid monster (Biollante) with a human female soul. On the other hand, the scientists creating the Anti-Nuclear Bacteria is an aversion since it actually is one of the few things that can stop Godzilla, despite the hero's fear that it will create another monster.
Generally played straight with almost any Godzilla movie that explains the eponymous monster's origins or his reason for attacking. Most often he is the result of the testing of nuclear weapons, which is also the source of his hatred of humankind.
Bride of Frankenstein inverts this. The reformed Dr. Frankenstein is forced by evil Mad Scientist Dr. Pretorius to return to his old ways. The twist: Early on, Pretorious shows us his collection of tiny humans in glass jars, practically announcing that he's Mephistopheles. To this, Frankenstein replies, horrified, "This isn't science!" Here, sane Science Is Good, and has standards, but Magic Is Bad.
Event Horizon. At one point the inventor of the gravity warp drive (which turns out to be a pretty evil warp drive) proclaims: "Captain, there's no danger... It's contained behind three magnetic fields, it's perfectly safe!" Oh science, what are you like?
In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra nanotechnology is the primary villain, both as gray-goo-inducing nanite warheads and as nanite injections that create superhuman flunkies for Cobra. There are many scientists involved in Cobra, and apparently, scientists can't be trusted: Rex switches sides because they have nanotechnology.
The Time Machine 2002. Near the start of the movie, the protagonist's friend asks him whether humanity's progress will ever go too far; the protagonist replies, "no such thing."
He later has to admit that he was wrong — when, in the future, he sees the Moon shattered into little piecesby atomic bombs. Earlier, when the protagonist returned to the past to try and save his girlfriend, she was killed by a malfunctioning automobile (just as the protagonist stopped being fascinated with it because it was "just a machine," and not worth taking his attention off of his love).
In the distant future, the Eloi are peaceful, good people with very primitive technology; the evil, ugly Morlocks have an industrial society Beneath the Earth. They also have a Big Bad with a giant brain who is especially good at engineering, and at being evil.
And in the climax of the movie, the protagonist destroys the industrial Morlocks — by blowing up his machine in their lair (commenting on its loss with, again, "it's just a machine"). The only positive portrayal science or technology get in the film is with the generally helpful holographic librarian (who somehow survives hundreds of thousands of years and is shown reading books to children at the end). But his main function is to keep memories of the past (and, presumably, its follies) alive, not to represent or aid progress.
The 1960 version doesn't go this far, having more of an anti-war message. Essentially, the 1960 film's message is "science is bad when it's being used to build bigger and more terrible weapons, but it's good when it's being used for peaceful, idealistic purposes like inventing time machines" — which makes sense when you consider the movie was made at the height of the Cold War arms race.
9 averts this. Science is what created the construction robot, but it was the government and military that put it to evil use. The scientist who created the robot then sacrificed his own soul so that life, in some fashion, could carry on.
Dr. Carrington in The Thing from Another World is a complete moron who continues to insist in the face of increasingly overwhelming evidence that the alien the base is dealing with is an intelligent and peaceful being, and repeatedly endangers everyone's lives trying to communicate with it.
In Rocky IV the cold, emotionless Russian boxer Ivan Drago is shown training in a cartoonishly high-tech facility that measures his every exertion while government technicians look on, meanwhile virtuous American Rocky trains on a farm by cutting down trees, lifting bales of hay, and running with a yoke on his shoulders. Guess who wins.
The first Mimic film plays this awfully straight. In order to combat an epidemic that's killing the world's children, scientists create a strain of mutant cockroach. Unfortunately, years after they're released (and successfully end the epidemic) these cockroaches grow to be about six feet tall and able to mimic (and eat) humans. Cue the scientists babbling nonsense lines like "We changed their DNA, we don't know what we did!" and other characters repeatedly saying what basically amounts to "They tampered in God's domain." As if the scientists should have foreseen the consequences of their mutant cockroach strain and done nothing to end the epidemic in the first place.
The American folk tale of John Henry tells of the man's victory in a hammerin' race against a steam-powered hammer. He wins, but the effort kills him. He dies with the old-fashioned hammer still in his hand.
This is not the point of Frankenstein. In the novel by Mary Shelley, the point of the story is that Frankenstein brought a creature into the world and allowed it to turn to evil by treating it like a monster. However, this is the point of every film adaptation of the story, which almost always deliver an AnviliciousAesop. With the surprising exception of the Mel Brooks parody Young Frankenstein, in which the eponymous scientist succeeds where his ancestor failed by accepting his creation like a loving father. When a group of his colleagues recoil in horror at the creature, he admonishes them "We are not children! We are scientists!", and the only real flaw in his creation (its permanently child-like, limited mind) is fixed by another scientific procedure, which Frankenstein risks his life to carry out. Stephen Jay Gould wrote one essay as a good-natured correction to people who thought Frankenstein was based around this, pointing out that while Shelley admits that being too excessive in a pursuit is usually a bad thing, all her examples were political.
In Anne McCaffrey's Pern novels, some of the natives regard the newly rediscovered supercomputer as evil and try to destroy or discredit it, either through superstition or fear of change. The planet was originally settled by people who only wanted to leave their dependence on technology behind, not to form a Luddite civilization. In time this meant they lost all but the most basic stuff needed for survival, and because of this they suffered. It was eventually returning to the technological state which saved them, when they found AI which gave them access to all the tech the colonists planned on having, but lost.
The trope is played straight in the opposition between Saruman (Science/Knowledge) and Gandalf (Wisdom). Saruman even mentions his slogan in book two: "Knowledge, Rule, Order!" All the while, Gandalf warns against swerving from the "path of Wisdom". Saruman is clearly meant to be a Faustian figure, entering a deal with the devil for greater knowledge.
Tolkien himself was personally fond of the trope, and invokes it in "Tree And Leaf", and in his poem "Mythopoeia":
The dark abyss to where their progress tends, if by God´s mercy, Progress ever ends...
And then there is Aulë, Vala for all makers, craftsmen and scientists (Sauron and Saruman were both Maiar under him).
H.P. Lovecraft goes a step further, though it's not just science; H.P. Lovecraft's stories had a recurring theme that ''wanting to know more about the world'' would inevitably lead to insanity and corruption. Lovecraft had a love-hate relationship with science. On one hand he was delighted and inspired by its discoveries, but on the other he found it horribly formulaic and unimaginative (complaints he also had about mainstream religion). His short story, Silver Key sums up his less than flattering thoughts towards all forms of mainstream thinking.
Every book by Michael Crichton, a good deal of which got a lot of people interested in science. Crichton himself averts this trope in that he was a big proponent of science and more science education. Chrichton's point is generally more along the lines of: science is good if used for something like feeding people or helping the sick, i.e. something benign and obvious. But like anything one must also have the common sense to use it with restraint. Being "pro-science" is one thing, not having the two brain cells needed to stop and say "Gee, I wonder if something could go wrong if we genetically engineer dinosaurs?" is another. Also to note, in most of his novels, what is decried is not the science in and of itself, but rushed science used for no other reasons than to make a quick buck. Find a way to clone dinosaurs? Make a theme park. Finds a way to time travel? Use it to make a theme park. Find a way to make nanobots autonomously intelligent? Use it to get results you can sell faster.
Maximum Ride loves this. No scientist character is ever good. Nothing science ever accomplishes is ever for the good.
The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne concludes with the aesop that people shouldn't attempt to play God by improving on nature
In the novel Feed by M.T. Anderson, having essentially an internet hookup directly into your brain lets you look up anything instantly, so no one ever bothers to really learn or remember anything, becoming imbeciles with the attention span of gnats.
The War of the Worlds, has a touch of this. Wells's Martians are clearly designed as his projection of what man himself might evolve into, given enough time: little more than bodiless brains, helpless if separated from their machines. Wells may have viewed this fate as inevitable for mankind.
Although most of his later novels were much more pro-technology, Jules Verne's early novel Paris in the Twentieth Century portrays a cold, sterile future where artistic and humanistic pursuits have been all but abandoned in favor of technology as an answer to all human problems. The main character, a poet, can find neither work nor sympathy, and dies starving in the streets.
The Great Old Ones from the Dark Tower series, who are explicitly described as being "deceived by the false light of science", replacing the magic with their own imperfect science and technology, then killing themselves off with weapons that leave the world a polluted, ruined mess.
The superflu from The Stand. which escapes a government lab and kills off 99.4% of the world's population—the creators designed it to make sure an antivirus could never be made. The mini-series implies that Flagg may have had a role in the release of it, but the book itself describes it as a series of foul-ups and technical errors. Flagg is specifically described by Glen Bateman as "the last magician of rational thought" (!) and he gives an impassioned defense of the concept that they should not be so quick to recreate the technological civilization that created things like nukes and bio-engineered germs in the first place.
In the Safehold series the need for the deliberately Lost Colony to revert to a pre-industrial technology level to avoid the omnicidal Gbaba was an unfortunate necessity. Word of God is that this trope is part of the thinking behind Langhorne and Bedard's alteration of the original plan to make sure that a technological society doesn't arise again.
In Aleksandr Mazin's Time For Change duology, nature itself follows this trope, with catastrophes striking out against many types of scientific research in a seemingly unrelated manner. For example, the first recorded catastrophe was a massive tsunami that flooded New York. The link was an attempt by NASA to see if it is possible to give birth in orbit. After that, the International Committee for Prevention of Illegal Scientific Research (AKA Aladdin) is created in order to enforce the ban. They recruit the scientists and soldiers and equip them with the latest technology allowed by law. They become so powerful that only a few nations can go against them, including Russia, China, and possibly US.
In the second novel, The Morning of Judgment Day, the Chinese defy the ban and launch a manned mission to Mars. During a historic speech televised throughout the world, another catastrophe hits, causing any Chinese-speaking person listening to the broadcast to go deaf. The protagonist's father parallels this to the Tower of Babel part of The Bible, where man attempts to reach the heavens, and suggests that humans may have to stay on Earth for good.
The 2nd and 3rd Dinotopia books were quite Anvilicious about this, although they were more anti-technology than anti-science, since the protagonist himself was a scientist (although more of a naturalist, really).
The Tripods used this, but as a pretense of the antagonists rather than an actual theme of the work. The Masters gave the appearance that they blamed science and technology for humankind's evilness, thus pushing humanity back to the middle ages with the Caps. (ie sending the Science Is Bad message through the caps.) It was really to stifle creativity and independent thinking and make humans easier to subdue.
In the 1990 extended edition of Nightfall, a scientist tells a priest that he's proven how the apocalypse his religion predicted would come to passnote a previously undetectable moon eclipsing the one star out of six visible on the darkest day of the year, which occurs every 2049 years and drives everyone mad because of species-wide Nyctophobia. The priest throws a fit because the scientist "destroyed the mystery" or somesuch.
In Larry Niven's Known Space books, all scientific research on Earth must be approved by the government. Violating this can result in a death sentence.
Played with in American Gods. The New Gods represent different facets of America's modern, technologically advanced culture, but for a while we are led to sympathize more for the primitive — and seemingly more benevolent — Old Gods. Over the course of the story, however, we come to learn that a not insignificant number of the Old Gods were violent, bloodthirsty monsters in their time, and some of the New Gods are not as eager for conquest as they first appear.
In Those That Wake, after seeing what technology did to the city, Laura grows to believe science is bad by the second book.
Ape and Essence has a sequence symbolically representing World War III, in which three Albert Einsteins are enslaved by baboons for the patriotic purpose of developing and unleashing Synthetic Plagues that kill everyone, including the Einsteins, whose dying protests are that they "never did any harm to anybody" and "lived only for Truth." Thus is enacted "the death, by suicide, of twentieth-century science."
Live Action TV
Smallville. Any scientific research is bad in that show. Rather Unfortunate Implications. Example: One episode features a drug which can heal fatal gunshot wounds in moments. However, it makes the user rather cranky for a certain period of time. Various ERs could probably get around that by tranquilizing the patients for a while!
A recurring theme in The Outer Limits. It is the basis for the plot of many (though not all) of its episodes. A prominent episode involves a trial in the Twenty Minutes into the Future United States, which has forsaken technology and banned teaching science under the penalty of death. A 20th century scientist develops Time Travel and goes to the future only to be arrested for breaking the ban. She goes before the Supreme Court and argues to repeal the ban, as a plague will wipe out most of humanity in the near future if technological research is not restarted. Another time traveler arrives to argue for the opposite, as humanity's expansion to the stars will eventually cause us to piss off an advanced alien race and lead to our destruction. In the end, they send the second time traveler to the past and agree to repeal the ban, only for the second guy's fusion bomb to activate and wipe out Washington, DC.
In Doctor Who, science is usually the cause of evil, and science (in the form of the Doctor) usually saves the day. Whether or not it uses this trope depends on the specific episode.
Joss Whedon has said the idea behind the Initiative from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was to create a conflict between science and magic, and when that happens, magic eventually kicks science's ass. The Initiative goes on recon to study the habits of vampires and captures them so they can do further tests, all to better understand how they work and how they can best be contained. Buffy just stakes 'em. Guess which works better? Actually, given how many apocalypses Buffy and her friends have actively started and how many monsters she's let go on their merry way because of teenage laziness or stupidity, and given that the Initiative's work only went wrong as a direct result of getting involved with the Slayer... the moral may not actually be what Whedon intended there.
Star Trek, despite being the best-known Speculative Fiction series, often dipped its toe into this trope. Worked on a sort of sliding scale, where the level of science the Federation had at that particular point in the episode was the exact right amount and trying to advance beyond that was just asking for the technological equivalent of not being able to get away with a damn thing. Offscreen advance of science: good. Onscreen advance of science: bad.
The Original Series episode which most directly addresses this is "The Way to Eden" (the infamous "space hippie" one). Dr. Sevrin's followers want to abandon technology and return to a pastoral existence. Between his Vulcan half's admiration for their (ahem, technical!) pacifism, and his human half's submerged longing for exactly that sort of simple life, Spock of all people ends up sympathizing with them. He's deeply disappointed when their leader turns out to be nuts.
Voyager's take on the Q is interesting. TNG had previously established that the Q believed humans might one day develop into a civilization comparable to themselves (and were not very pleased about it); yet, in Voyager, most of the all-but-omnipotent Q are shown to be bored half out of their minds, because life offers no challenges any more.
Averted in Roddenberry's 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. Kirk, as narrator, regards this as a generally good thing and chides himself for being old-fashioned. However, this claim is not supported anywhere else in Trek canon.
In TOS, Bunny-Ears Lawyer Sam Cogley's speech in "Court Martial" about liking his book collection better than his computer, even though he admits it can display any of their contents instantly.
The TOS episode "The Ultimate Computer" is a great example of this trope, combined with a little Ludd Was Right. The Enterprise is testing a brand-new computer that could automate starships completely, making crews and captains all but obsolete. A.I. Is a Crapshoot, things go south fast, and our heroes must pull the plug and save the day, but not before the sorrowful moments where Kirk faces the thought he may become obsolete. The scientist who designed the computer also turns out to be insane at the end, just to drive the point home.
In the DS9 episode "Paradise," the neo-Luddite colonist Alixus deliberately stranded her colony ship and used a duonetic field to disable electromagnetic technology, forcing them all to live as Space Amish. Her control over her fellow colonists was so great that even after O'Brien disabled the field generator and Sisko bucked her authority, they still wanted to live like she had been forcing them to live.
The episode in many ways was a deconstruction of this trope. It is implied that the people think they are happier on this paradise less because their lives are actually better, but more because of Stockholm Syndrome. Work for food is hard, many have died during the winters, and diseases can only be cured by finding the right root or fungus. All of these problems has been literally eradicated on any Federation planet.
Fringe seems to take a stance of science being both bad and good, since its used to both cause and help solve the Freaky Mystery of the Week! The Grey and Gray Morality of the show seems to imply that science can accomplish good things, but at the cost of other good things, and the scientist's mileage may vary as to whether the accomplishments are worth the cost. This is especially obvious when comparing and contrasting Walter and Walternate; each crosses lines that the other will not. For example, Walter is willing to experiment on children while Walternate is not, but Walternate is willing to trap people alive in amber while Walter is not.
While the Stargate series mostly avert this, the Stargate Atlantis episode "Trinity," wherein McKay finds an abandoned Ancient experiment to produce limitless energy, it's repeatedly suggested that he is getting in over his head (The Ancients did not complete the program, and it went rather wrong). Despite constant protestations that this is a field they are simply not ready for, McKay continues. In the end he ends up destroying about five-sixths of a solar system (it's not an exact science). While the episode plays the aesop straight, a later episode has a solution to the problems from the first time, and the attempt is assisted by an Asgard, the most technologically advanced race who will talk with humanity.
On an episode of CSI: NY, this trope is used to demonize the science of Genetics. It starts off with a supposed dead man being stolen from the back of the van that was bringing it to the morgue. Then the body is dumped in the river, fished out and then found to be alive... brain dead, but alive. They find their way to a genetics research lab that's making goats produce silk in their milk and rats grow ears on their backs. The scientist in charge explains the benefits of it (silk in bulk, replacing a lost body part) but the cops just remark about how weird it is and when they leave remark that it's wrong. The main character going so far as to say progress was great, "but should've stopped."
Turns out the genetics lab induced human hibernation on the victim, which the victim was involved in voluntarily and by accident the vic took too much of the mixture they created too fast. He ran out choking and collapsed. They stole him from the van thinking he was alive, thought he was dead when they couldn't revive him and dumped him before they got in more trouble for their unethical experiments. When confronted by this news the head scientist can only remark about his delight that it worked and lists off all the benefits like prolonged space travel and how he will be famous.
The second suspect tries to tell the cops how putting them away will "shut the door on the future" as no one else knows the formula but them, but to the cops the complicated issue is simple, they committed attempted murder (even though they thought the guy was already dead) and are going to jail. It's not "robot apocalypse" or "mutant monster" worthy, but it still denotes the same thing: science is weird... and bad.
Eleventh Hour generally runs on this trope, as should be expected of a show about a duo that takes down people who apply new technology unethically. However, it does at times depict the potential good that can be done with stem cells, genetic engineering and the like.
Most of the new Battlestar Galactica avoids this, but the finale takes a great big swerve into Writer on Board territory. First, everybody decides to chuck their technology — including, one assumes, their various medical advances — and revert to hunter-gatherer barbarism in the hopes that their descendants will do better. Have fun rediscovering penicillin a couple hundred thousand years in the future, humanity! Second, Ron Moore confirms that, after a thoughtful examination of how difficult it is to break the cycle of revenge, he chucked the metaphor and explained that he's scared of our new Japanese robot overlords.
An episode of The Colbert Report featured Stephen interviewing the author of a book about robots and AI. The author pointed out that the West is largely wary of AI (see 2001) while the East (especially Japan) generally sees AI as a positive thing (see Astro Boy).
Stephen often says things like "I'm no fan of science," but seemed entirely keen on one specific form when hearing about a superlaser that concentrated laser beams into a small area to produce the temperatures and pressures of a star:
Stephen: We have our own Death Star! (Cue rain of black balloons and a big "WE HAVE OUR OWN DEATH STAR" sign flashing in the foreground)
Stephen Colbert's views on science can be summed up as this. Cool Science = Good, Boring Science = Bad.
An inversion in an episode of Sliders the gang ends up sliding to a world where all new technology was banned after the end of World War II. This world's version of Quinn was killed by polio, and they convince Quinn's dad that technology is not bad and would have saved his son. He helps them to repair their timer with his dead son's illegal technology. The local Evil Corporation decides to steal the timer as they have been creating technology in secret so they can corner the market once the ban is lifted.
Dark Science Empire Deathdark, the villain group of Dai Sentai Goggle Five, revolve around using science for evil things. It's also informed that they helped the invention of sword so it can be used to kill. Ouch.
LOST played with this trope with Dharma Initiative being the "we will do it no matter what" side. Taken to the logical conclusion in season's 5 finale where they continue to drill over a pocket of electromagnetic energy, although they know that in-universe EM is a bad, explosive thing.
This is the basic philosophy behind the Consortium in Eureka.
The entire 01011001 album by the metal opera group Ayreon. See the song "Unnatural Selection" for a particularly anvilicious example.
Styx's album Kilroy Was Here includes some brief diatribes, not against science per se, but against technology:
The problem's plain to see Too much technology Machines to rule our lives Machines dehumanize. — Mr. Roboto
The Aquabats!' song "The Cat with Two Heads!" is about a scientist who creates the eponymous two-headed feline, only for it to escape from captivity and go on a vengeful rampage against its creator.
The song Good Technology by Red Guitars doesn't necessarily condemn technology, but does lampshade its absurdities and moral ambiguities. The last verse sums it up:
Sometimes I wonder what it is all about There's lots of leisure time to sit and work it out There's a TV show I've got to see Good, good, good, good, good, good technology Good technology
Played first at straight, but later averted in Sepultura's Biotech Is Godzilla.
Bio-technology ain't what's so bad
Like all technology, it's in the wrong hands
Cut-throat corporations don't give a damn
When lots of people die from what they've made
The song "La concubine de l'hemoglobine" ("The concubine of Hemoglobin") by French rapper MC Solar: unbridled science entails war and wholesale destruction:
Science sans conscience (science without conscience)
egale science de l'inconscience (equals science of the unconscious)
Elle se fout du progres mais souhaite la progression (it cares not of progress but wishes the progression)
De tous les processus qui menent a l'elimination (of all processes that lead to elimination)
Nitin Sawhney's piece "Street Guru" features some random dude's bitchy platitutes over various things in modern life. On technology:
I think there's going to be a backlash against technology. You know, I don't know what's gonna cause it. I hope it won't be any environmental disaster shit, you know, for sure for my kids that wanna live a better life.... You know sometimes it's good just to go in the woods and just go hiking and get back in touch with yourself and nature. You know, then you come back here and you realize that this is like, better. Ludicious all this emphasis on technology and 50 different internet devices and shit and internet devices you can put in your pocket. Sometimes I feel threatened by it but you know, that's the future and I am a man of the past. I'm a low-tech man in a high-tech world there ain't shit I can do about it... You know, what's going on we can't use our brains: It's being a person. You know it's being a fucking person man!
Zager & Evans "In The Year 2525."
"Cursed Be Iron" by Turisas appears to condemn iron-working, but is probably a metaphor for military technology or the misapplication of technology. It includes the demand that iron "Come and view thine evil doings/ And amend this flood of damage", seemingly avoiding the idea that science or technology are inherently bad.
"White Coats" by New Model Army appears to fit this trope, although it can be interpreted as criticising science when practiced without foresight or ethics, particularly given that it was written during an apparently self-destructive US-Soviet nuclear arms race- "Those last few days at Jonestown ain't got nothing on this ".
"Internet Killed The Video Star" by The Limousines has a repeated lyric "The kids are disco dancing, they're tired of rock n' roll/don't bother telling them that drum machine ain't got no soul." Though, this appears to be less of an overt science diss, so much as commentary on the modern youth culture failing to give enough credit to yester-year artists and musicians.
The Insane Clown Posse's infamous song Miracles (about appreciating the majesty of everything around you) suddenly includes the lines "And I don't want to talk to a scientist/Y'all motherfuckers lying and getting me pissed," which makes the song sound more like it's accusing science of sucking the mystery out of everything.
Subverted in a strange and depressing sort of way by Arch Oboler's Lights Out radio short "Chicken Heart" (as made famous by Bill Cosby); the scientist responsible for creating the spreading, cancerous blob of chicken muscle knows exactly how to stop the monster, but he can't get the authorities to drop the hammer in time or with enough force. If only they'd known about the monster-retardant properties of Jell-O.
Averted in Dino Attack RPG. While the main antagonists are a science-based organization, they actually started off with good intentions, researching the Maelstrom in an attempt to keep it from obliterating the universe, and they only lost sight of their original goal when the Maelstrom started controlling their leader; after Dr. Cyborg took over as their new leader, they returned to their original goal. Additionally, a large percentage of the Dino Attack Team consists of scientists including Einstein, Fuchs, Crusher, and Reptile, all of whom are "good" scientists whose research is beneficial to the team.
Stand Up Comedy
Parodied by comedian Patton Oswalt in his standup routine where he lambasts science for allowing a couple in their sixties to conceive due to it being horrifying, Ending with the line "Hey, we made cancer airborne and contagious. You're welcome. We're science, we're all about could, not should". This, however, is an exception in that quite a few of his other routines exalt the virtues of science and progress, however.
Another subversion, considering that the race that is arguably the closest to being the "Good Guys" (or, all things considered, "least evil") of the setting, the Tau, are the only ones who embrace science and technological advancement.
Averted by other characters, however - Tocasia, Jhoira of the Ghitu, Venser of Urborg, Slobad of Mirrodin, and Arcum Dagsson are all extremely talented artificers, and all are unambiguously heroic. Urza was more...on the fence about it.
Subverted by the set "New Phyrexia"; while the Blue-affiliated Evilutionary Biologist scientists of the Progress Engine are evil and show many of the common traits of this trope, they are not any more villainous than the religiously dogmatic Machine Orthodoxy and the aggressively anti-science Vicious Swarm.
Then there's Ravnica's Izzet Guild, where everyone is a Mad Scientist and explosions abound. The craziest member of the guild is also their most powerful member and founder Nivv-Mizzet, who also happens to be a dragon. That said, the guild is just as vital to Ravnica as the other guilds, and none of the guilds are straight up good or evil.
In Werewolf, the PCs are shapechanging super-powered eco-terrorists.
The Glass Walkers, a technophiliac tribe of the Garou Nation are held in contempt by most of the rest of the tribes, and called "urrah". And towards the end of the gameline, it shifted so fault for the world lay more heavily upon the Weaver, who was the one who drove the Wyrm mad and has plans to calcify all reality. The Glass Walkers are regarded by the other Garou tribes as hopelessly naive about the Weaver.
In Mage, it's not so much that technology is bad as it is that people are taught that technology is the only way; in this world, reality is what people believe, and believing there's no such thing as monsters or magic goes a long way to protect humans from the aforementioned shapechanging super-powered eco-terrorists and other supernatural beings out to victimize humanity. Unfortunately, this leads to giving up creativity and magic. Happily, as a counterexample proving that Science itself is not bad, we have the Etherites and Virtual Adepts, and most members of the Technocratic Union (the main antagonists) are perfectly decent people who just happen to be on the wrong side from the players' point of view.
Changeling The Dreaming has a somewhat schizoid attitude towards science: it's the moon landing that opened the doors to Arcadia and allowed the Sidhe to return, but in general technology is seen as just chock-full of imagination-killing (and so changeling-killing) Banality, except maybe for the Steam Punk-ish gadgets of the Nockers.
The Broken Aesop of the entire oWOD was that the creeds opposing "stasis", represented by the science that regularly changes the world, were heavily into hierarchy and hadn't changed in centuries.
In the New World of Darkness, things have taken a step or two away. Werewolves still largely distrust technology, because it's done more to screw up the Shadow Realm than anything else, but they accept that it has a place and hold this version's technophile tribe, the Iron Masters, in better regard than their past counterparts. In fact, one of the antagonist Pure Tribes is given the "Luddites" hat (it's worth noting the Pure are very reminiscent of the Garou). Over in Mage, things haven't changed as much; the Free Council, Spiritual Successor to the Virtual Adepts, are given short shrift largely because they're rather young and tend to make nuisances of themselves.
The fanmade Genius The Transgression certainly can give this vibe, but it's actually not an example since no comment is made on sane science — or arguably an aversion, since the further a Genius' beliefs differ from reality (the one sane scientists are so busy documenting), the easier it is to slip into outright grave-robbing, god-defying, blood-splattered Mad Science.
Kicked in the balls by Cthulhu Tech: the main reason why humans have a fighting chance is because science found a way to make Magitek and Humongous Mecha.
SLA Industries, where it's probably impossible to count all the examples of "SLA tries to solve their problems by engineering a new breed of super-monster, but it goes nuts and turns against them".
Kult, where "Victim Of Medical Experiments" is a viable Dark Secret for players. Oh, yeah, along with the fact that the growth of cities and technology is actually part of the breakdown of the illusion that is reality — the illusion that's covering up the horrifying true reality underneath it.
In GURPS Traveller Interstellar Wars this is averted. The Terrans are excited about science because they like everything new. The Vilani are not interested in advancement but only because their ancestors deliberately decided that it was coming to a point of diminishing returns, not that they hated it in principal. Most of the sympathy is with the Terrans although the Vilani are not treated without sympathy despite the fact that the word Vilani sounds like villain. Both sides are Federations and the chief cause of the war seems to be mutual arrogance.
In the original Dungeons & Dragons "Known World" campaign setting (later renamed Mystara), the ancient civilization of Blackmoor was technological, but destroyed itself in what is implied to have been a nuclear war. The Immortals decreed that this could never be allowed to happen again. However, they allowed one pocket of Blackmoor society to endure as a lost land in the Hollow World with the caveat that all of its simulated "technology" is actually magic based, and therefore impossible for its citizens to reverse engineer, reproduce, or improve upon.
Steve Reich's "video opera" Three Tales, an Author Filibuster-filled work that centres around the crash of the airship Hindenberg, the nuclear test at Bikini Atoll, and Dolly the cloned sheep.
Lost Odyssey inverts this as technology is neutral and it's actually magic that's screwing with the natural order.
Frequently a side plot of many Final Fantasy games, though never played straight.
Subverted in Final Fantasy X. The characters (and the population of Spira in general) spend most of the game thinking that the Big Bad was created as punishment for bad science, only to find out that it's actually magic gone wrong. They eventually defeat him with machines believed to be evil, instead of the religious ritual they were meant to use. By X-2, both of the major factions (the Youth League and New Yevon) agree science is okay; their major disagreement is how fast it should be implemented (New Yevon being the more conservative faction).
It's also the reason that the Al Bhed are ostracised from society; they've always made heavy use of machina, and are the only ones to speak out against the idea of the summoner's pilgrimage, though this is mainly because of the fact that the process ends up in the death of the summoner for what would only be a quick breather from Sin's malice.
Final Fantasy VII waffles back and forth on this one. On the one hand, many of the characters rely on technology and science to live and get by, particularly after the events of the game itself. But characters like Hojo, who experiments on people purely to satisfy his own ego, rather than benefiting humanity, and the rest of Shinra Inc. tend to abuse it. Also, the game's environmental message, and going back to a simpler, rustic existence was seen as favourable to an advanced one. However, Bugenhagan, the head of the most rustic settlement in the world, enjoys his ride on the Airship, calling the technology something akin to "the wisdom of man." The real message doesn't seem to be that Science Is Bad, but that Science needs to be used carefully.
It's also worth pointing out that Bugenhagen himself operates quite an advanced observatory and planetarium.
Played with in Ōkami, where Yami, God of Darkness is implied to be the originator of Technology and is a Humongous Mecha (albeit with a squishy core resembling that of a fishbowl) as well as the fact that the demons Lechku and Nechku are robotic owls. However, Waka's Tao Warriors use Magitek computers and the Moon Tribe apparently do have some access to advanced technology. In fact, helping a mechanic with his research will give Amaterasu the power to summon lightning. Ultimately, it seems that Science and Evil don't exactly go hand in hand.
Mother 3 heavily suggests that the proliferation of technology would bring about the world's downfall, especially given how certain scenery transforms as the game progresses. Though it seems to hint more at an 'American culture is bad' message. Which is really ironic given how the first two games celebrated modern society and used the setting as an Affectionate Parody of American culture.
In Fallout 3 the most prominent case is Doctor Lesko, a wannabe Mad Scientist who created the fire ants that destroyed Grayditch in an experiment Gone Horribly Wrong. Despite this, the game makes it clear that Lesko is merely careless, not evil, and science-oriented players have the opportunity to lecture on him on proper experimental procedure.
The Fallout 'verse has its share of good and evil scientists. Most "good" scientists adapt existing technology to try to rebuild civilization (such as the Project Purity and Rivet City teams). Scientists who use Forced Evolutionary Virus are depicted either as irresponsible or outright evil.
In Fallout: New Vegas, Veronica, a member of the Brotherhood of Steel and a potential companion is frustrated that the Brotherhood only cares about recovering and preserving specific technology from the pre-war days, such as Powered Armor and Energy Weapons, but not develop new technology or find alternate uses for the stuff they have. Only one Elder insists on alternate avenues of research but his ideas are dismissed as insanity, mostly because he is the only Elder to gain his position via the Scribe route instead of Paladin. That and the fact that Elijah actually was a madman obsessed with obtaining technology no matter the cost and planned to use technology to enslave the Mojave.
The New California Republic has scientists working round-the-clock trying to solve their power, food, and water problems.
Plus his disgustingly cruel methods and that absolutely everyone predicts that the Legion will destroy itself if it ever runs out of people to conquer.
The DLC Old World Blues is based in functional pre-war research facility that is filled with experiments that are both extremely helpful and extremely cruel. Ultimately in the epilogue of the DLC your own Karma determines whether science is evil or not. (A good courier will use the facility for humanity's benefit, a bad one will use it for personal gain).
Crystalis takes place 100 years after a nuclear war ends civilization. Since then, the people have abandoned science in favor of magic.
Similar to "SatAM"Sonic Sat AM below is Sonic CD. Taking Robotnik and his robot generators out of the equation reveals a good future in which technology and nature co-exist harmoniously
Doom is based on the premise that teleportation is literal contact with Hell. Half or more of the demons are cybernetically augmented. On the other hand, experimental weapons tend to save the day. In the third game, the company that develops the teleportation device is shown to have also created breakthroughs in energy generation and storage, and is in the process of terraforming Mars.
In Tales of Symphonia, all technology uses Exspheres, which are Powered by a Forsaken Child. Furthermore, the Big Bad turns out to have this view: for it's revealed that he split the world into two in order to ensure that neither would have the Mana supplies required to develop weapons of mass destruction.
While not exactly played straight in Tales of Vesperia, the technology actually does have the unintended side effect of summoning the Adephagos. As it turns out, in-universe, all technology is actually powered by the souls of the Entelexeia, solidified and broken into fragments.
Tales of Xillia features Spirex machines. These devices such the Mana from the world: which causes Spirits to die out/enter a state of fossilised hibernation (the game is a little unclear how it works). As it happens, there's an entire world that uses the Spirex machines - and it's close to reaching its end because the devices have all but consumed nature entirely. By contrast, the Spirit Artes of Liese Maxia are consistently shown as a good, natural power and it's only by literally imitating them that the other world manages to restore some amount of balance.
There's also the enemy group called the Luddites. They live in the Rogue Isles and can be seen protesting Dr. Aeon's evil technology all over Cap Au Diable. As it turns out, his tech really is evil, just not quite in the way they suspected.
Resident Evil: Science and evil are like best pals in the Resident Evil universe. Most, if not all, the troubles in the series are caused by groups of power hungry scientists who think it's a novel idea to use the T and G-Virus to create unstable monstrosities with a likelihood of things going wrong being above 105%. There is not one good scientist in the entire series and major villains like Albert Wesker and Alexia Ashford are the results of genetic engineering to create the ultimate super-being. Doubly so by the fact that the scientists who started the research and are responsible for all the horror, are also the founders and owners of the company, so they can't get away with the usual "the man used my work for evil" excuse.
While Spore doesn't go so far as to outright call science bad, it is notable that the Scientist archetype's special ability is the Gravity Wave, which instantly wipes out all life on a planet and is one of the only two archetypes whose special ability breaks Galactic Code to use (the other being the planet-convertingZealot).
In Alpha Centauri, the science-based faction of the University of Planet has an increased number of drones due to 'unethical research'. The fundamentalist faction also rails against the (unrighteous) use of technology, though their leader Miriam is not a Luddite, rather fearing that humanity will lose control of their creations.
Sister Miriam: The righteous need not cower before the drumbeat of human progress. Though the song of yesterday fades into the challenge of tomorrow, God still watches and judges us. Evil lurks in the datalinks as it lurked in the streets of yesteryear. But it was never the streets that were evil.
In the novelizations, Miriam is perfectly willing to use advanced technology received (read: stolen) from other factions, such as the Morganites and the University, be it using a genetically-engineered virus to wipe out the entire population of a base or putting quantum singularity generators into planet busters (super-nukes) and using them to level entire continents.
In MediEvil this trope is referenced. When visiting the HQ of the evil wizard Zarok (your nemesis), which is full of Magitek and Steam Punk gizmos (from the Steampowered undead soldiers, through a Steam train in eleventh century England, all the way into Time Machines), one of the exposition-delivering Gargoyles mentions that Zarok has mastered "the darkest of all magics: Science".
Mega Man Star Force 3 Tia and Jack were both orphaned in war for the technology of their home. They join the Dealers and want to use Meteor G to destroy all the worlds technology.
The Alliance-UN war central to the plot of Mission Critical is sparked by fear of science going out of control after the first created AIs caused a university to be wiped out by a Kill Sat. UN imposes a ban on certain fields of research and demands that all of humanity abide by it. Several nations refuse, forming the Alliance of Free States. Interestingly enough, despite their fear of advanced technology, the UN Space Navy is much more advanced than the Alliance one.
Baten Kaitos Origins sets itself up with this trope and then subverts the hell out of it with the true villain of the story being a magic wielder.
This sentiment is expressed by some characters in Girl Genius, given the damage that Sparks are known to do (and many of the characters who think so were, indeed, casualties of Spark activity). One of these characters is Othar Tryggvassen (GENTLEMAN ADVENTURER), a Spark himself, who decided to set off on a quest to eliminate the Spark from the world, ending with his own death, because he's keenly aware of how dangerous they can be.
Minimum Security is a very hard, left-leaning environmentalist comic that oftens takes pot shots at science. Many characters bomb labs and power plants while celebrating a world in which people remained agrarian.
No Black Plume frequently parodies this, including a six-part series entitled "Science Will Ruin Your Life".
Practically every episode of the first season of Super Friends focused not on a villain but on a Well-Intentioned Extremist, a Mad Scientist, or a regular scientist whose invention accidentally runs amok. An early episode had a scientist gain hyper-intelligence (and a cartoonishly enlarged cranium) due to some sort of radiation experiment, and rather than use his superior intellect to take over the world, decides to broadcast the rays so that everyone on Earth can enjoy the same radically evolved intelligence as him. Thank god the Justice League saved us from the horrifying fate of becoming smarter!
Dr. Blight from Captain Planet and the Planeteers is the show's resident embodiment of the trope. Having said that, one Planeteer Alert encourages viewers to learn more about science, since science can be used for good.
Parodied with the ignorant townsfolk going on an anti-science riot, including attacking the Museum of Natural History, with Moe smashing a mammoth skeleton, having it land on his back and crying "Oh! My back! I'm paralyzed! I only hope medical science can cure me!"
Another episode showed a similar mob set to burn Principal Skinner at the stake for insisting that the earth revolves around the sun.
In the episode "Bart's Comet", when the eponymous comet burns up in Springfield's polluted atmosphere instead of destroying the town as predicted, Moe shouts "Let's go burn down the observatory so this never happens again!" Cue the angry mob.
Averted in the Sonic Sat AM animated series. Even though the world has been conquered by Dr. Robotnik with an army of Mecha-Mooks and a machine that lets him inflict Unwilling Roboticisation on the victimized organics, despite the fact he is deliberately running his energy plants and factories inefficiently in order to poison the environment and weaken them, science in itself is not portrayed as evil. All of the blame is instead placed squarely on Robotnik being a power-crazed psychotic megalomaniac who is misusing and abusing scientific tools to enforce his own demented desires.
The Roboticizer wasn't even his. Uncle Chuck invented it as a means of keeping people with terminal illnesses alive until a cure could be found, or even as a means of eliminating amputation. When Robotnik came to power, guess who was the first one to get thrown into the Roboticizer...?
Avatar: The Last Airbender takes place during the Fire Nations industrial revolution, pitting nature vs science on the expected poles, as they are also environmentally harmful, which is also harmful to spirits. Science as a whole isn't treated poorly(positive examples include The Mechanist and Sokka), but its more often exploited by the Fire Nation, and the butt of some early jokes given the magical nature of the show.
The Legend of Korra plays with this, the technology has advanced, and its portrayed as a good thing, cars and airships abound. Then the Equalist with Hiroshi Sato as the Evil Gadgeteer Genius unveil all new better technology with shock gauntlets, robots, and airplanes, in addition to the cars and airships. Those planes are use to take down the bender army's Magitek battleships.
Played straight in an episode of the CGI Garfield series. The first half of the episode features Odie digging up a dinosaur bone, only to have the local museum threaten to get a court order evicting them from their home because "science is more important" the second part of the episode features a cleaning robot gone mad.
Invention of Love has Steampunk technology in a "too much of a good thing" sense. Mechanical horses? Awesome! A house full of appliances? Convenient! A polluted city without any natural flora or fauna? Throwing away the rose your true love gave you when it wilts and building a mechanical replacement? ...not so much.
The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Feeling Pinkie Keen" was supposed to be about being open-minded about your friends' ideas even if they don't make sense at first, but somehow the script instead makes it feel like the moral is "Scientists should admit that God exists". The fact that Twilight Sparkle – the "scientist" in this scenario – spends most of her time applying the Scientific Method incorrectly doesn't help.