[[caption-width-right:300: Huh... where's [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcH-3d-BZn4 Ben Stein]] when you need him?[[note]][[Recap/DoctorWhoS13E2PlanetOfEvil We already made that joke!]][[/note]]]]
->'''Leela:''' Doctor, what is "robophobia"?\\
'''Doctor:''' It's an unreasoning dread of robots. You see, most living creatures use non-verbal signals. Body movement, eye contact, facial expressions, that sort of thing.\\
'''Leela:''' Body language!\\
'''Doctor:''' Exactly. But while these robots are humanoid, presumably for aesthetic reasons, they give no signals. It's rather like being surrounded by walking, talking dead men.

The one where a man slaps some Jelly Babies.

This serial begins in the recreation room of a giant sandminer ship belonging to a civilisation utterly dependent on robots. The workers discuss the urban legend of a guy whose arm was ripped off by a robot massaging him. But of course, they all know the robots have tons of safety systems in place and that they could ''never'' kill a human, [[TemptingFate right?]] Just then, the robots announce that they've detected a sandstorm, which stirs up ores in the sand that are worth a fortune. One poor RedShirt, Chub, goes into the storage room to collect instruments for a weather balloon when he's strangled by... go ahead, guess. Thus begins a round of Creator/AgathaChristie-style paranoid accusations.

Enter the Fourth Doctor and Leela, who materialize in one of the sandminer's scoops. They're brought out by two robots and locked in a room, as the workers of course suspect that the two killed Chub. It doesn't help that after they escape, the two are separately caught in the same rooms as dead bodies #2 and #3. So, the blame game enters Round Two; the crew cannot decide whether the Doctor and Leela did it or one of their own. At any rate, they're locked up in iron shackles in the robot storage room. When a rather nervous man named Poul frees the two out of belief in their innocence, the Doctor points out that they all completely overlooked a possible suspect: the robots. Poul laughs; the robots couldn't possibly kill a human!

While the Doctor tries to convince Poul otherwise, a woman named Zilda goes into Commander (and LargeHam) Uvanov's room and announces over a loudspeaker that she knows he's the murderer, but before she can explain how or why she gets strangled. For those watching at home, the body count is now up to 4. Suddenly, the ship shakes! Turns out, the ship has been sabotaged, and RedShirt repairman Borg [[Franchise/StarTrek (No, not that Borg)]] has become dead body #5. The ship can't handle the stress and is about to blow up, but the Doctor cuts out the power and gets a man named Dask to repair the motors so the ship won't sink into the sand. Leela bandages up the hand of acting commander Toos, who heads to her quarters.

Suddenly, a robot named D84 reveals that it and Poul are undercover agents for the mining company. They were placed on board the miner due to threats of a robot revolution by MadScientist Taren Capel, who was raised by robots and therefore a bit funny in the head. The Doctor and detective D84 search the miner for proof that Taren Capel is on board, and find a secret workshop where the robots' programming has been changed to enable them to kill humans. He tells Toos over the communications system to get the others and head for the command deck. But as soon as she can get to the door, she's blocked by a strangle-happy robot and just barely gets away by making the door slam onto its hand. Leela manages to find Poul, but he's too busy lying on the ground in the fetal position while he screams about how the robots have always controlled him. Meanwhile, it dawns on the Doctor and D84 that "Dask" is really Taren Capel, and he wants to liberate robots by giving them the ambition to take over civilization. (Meanwhile, Leela makes her way to Toos' bedchambers and the two engage in some very rather sweet LesYay for a bit.) Taren Capel (now wearing the robots' clothes and metallic facepaint to mimic them) gives his order to the robots: destroy all remaining humans on board. The Doctor realizes that this is the end of this civilization, as the robots they so depend on will become a source of overwhelming fear.

The Doctor comes up with a plan to destroy the robots. They're all being controlled by one particular robot: [=SV7=]. If it dies, the others will stop killing. He uses parts from a broken robot to create a final deactivator -- a device that will destroy any still-functioning robots at close range. At the same time, Uvanov and Toos have arrived at the command deck and built makeshift anti-robot bombs, which they proceed to kick robo-ass with.

The Doctor hides Leela in Taren's workshop with a canister of helium gas, telling her to release it slowly when Taren comes in. The Doctor hopes that this will change Taren's voice, so his robots -- unable to recognize him -- won't obey his orders.

Taren arrives and damages D84, but the robot is able to activate the Doctor's device to destroy a killer robot, knowingly sacrificing itself in the process (Dead Body #6...[[WhatMeasureIsANonHuman ish?]]). Leela releases the helium gas, causing Taren's voice to become high-pitched and squeaky, and Taren is killed by [=SV7=] when it fails to identify his voice. The Doctor then destroys [=SV7=] with a laser probe.

The Doctor explains that he used his own [[ContinuityNod respiratory bypass system]] to keep his CompellingVoice intact, and ponders a bit about how this society might now crash in on itself. He and Leela vworp off.


Creator/ChrisBoucher wrote a sequel novel, ''Corpse Marker'', and a radio spinoff based on this episode, ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaldor_City Kaldor City]]''. It was produced by Magic Bullet Productions and stars many of the original actors. Another direct sequel, "Robophobia", was written by Creator/NicholasBriggs as a AudioPlay/BigFinishDoctorWho audio play. Boucher's novel and audio works feature some characters from ''Series/BlakesSeven'', and he has said he considers the two series to take place [[CanonWelding roughly contemporaneously]].

David Collings, who appeared here as Poul, went on to play an alternate version of the Doctor in the AudioPlay/BigFinishDoctorWho episode [[Recap/BigFinishDoctorWhoUnboundE3FullFathomFive "Full Fathom Five"]].

* AlternateCharacterInterpretation (InUniverse): It's stated by Poul that Uvanov left Zilda's brother out to die ten years before because he didn't want to waste time and money. Later, Uvanov reveals that he in fact tried to save him when he came down with robophobia and panicked. The boy's father didn't want the boy thought of as a coward and had the records altered.
* AndroidsAndDetectives: D84 and Poul.
* ArtDeco: The design team admitted to basing the sandminer sets on Art Deco.
* BaseOnWheels: The Sand Miner.
* BigShutUp:
-->"Would you like a jelly baby?"
-->"SHUT UP!"
-->"Well, a simple "No, thank you," would've been sufficient."
* BizarreAlienBiology: The reason the Doctor's voice didn't go all squeaky.
* DeadpanSnarker: [=SV7=] gets in a surprising (for a robot) amount of snark, notably when the Doctor escapes by throwing his hat and scarf onto V5, and V4 promptly starts strangling his fellow robot.
--> '''V4:''' Kill. Kill. Kill.
--> '''V5:''' Do not kill me.
--> '''[=SV7=]:''' V4, that is not the Doctor.
--> '''V5:''' Do not kill me.
* DeconstructorFleet: The story explores the real effects of living in a society with robots as a work force. Wouldn't, for example, UncannyValley rear its head?
* DepthDeception: The Doctor's explanation for the whole "bigger on the inside" thing. One box is actually larger than another, but appears smaller because it's far away. The TARDIS uses transdimensional engineering to put two similar spaces in the same place, while keeping those relative sizes.
* DoesntLikeGuns: The Doctor tells Leela,
--> "I never carry weapons. If people see you mean them no harm, they never hurt you. Nine times out of ten."
* EasilyDetachableRobotParts
* EliteMooks: [=SV7=].
* EveryoneIsASuspect
* EvilGloating
* FreakOut: Poul suffers a really horrible one when he finds a deactivated robot with fresh human blood on its fingers.
* HeliumSpeech
* HeroicSacrifice: D84.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: Taren Capel.
* HollywoodScience: The Doctor's explanation to Poul that bumblebees fly even though that's "impossible" is an urban legend which has been traced back [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bumblebee#Flight to at least 1934]] if not earlier and is based on applying equations to bumblebee flight that were known to be the wrong ones even back then.
* {{Jerkass}}:
** Every crew member is a jerk, but Borg is the most pointlessly nasty and spiteful. His EstablishingCharacterMoment is describing a freak accident where a robot masseuse pulled off a man's arm, to a man having his arm massaged by a robot. He constantly interrupts other characters when they try and talk, makes (empty) death threats to his coworkers in order to control them, and then when called on it immediately backtracks and protests that he's done nothing wrong. He slaps Jelly Babies out of the Doctor's hand, and starts choking him in response to a sarcastic joke the Doctor makes at his expense. At one point he becomes affronted that people are accusing him of murdering his friends, causing Zilda to retort, "you don't have any friends!"
** Uvanov. At first, he seems to care about little more than getting as much sand (read: money) as possible. Of course, this is before he realizes how truly screwed he is.
** JerkWithAHeartOfGold: When he tells the story of what Happened to Zilda's brother it's clear he's haunted by the memory, and tries to keep Poul calm.
* JustBetweenYouAndMe: Subverted:
-->'''The Doctor''': I see. Youre one of those boring maniacs whos going to gloat. Are you going to tell me your plan for running the universe?
-->'''Taren Capel''': Oh no Doctor. Im going to burn out your brain. Very very slowly.
* KillerRobot: The clue's in the title.
* MachineMonotone: Much less severe than usual for the show. The result is somewhat sing-song-y, which just makes it that much creepier.
* MadScientist: Taren Capel.
* MobileFactory
* {{Mooks}}: The titular robots.
* MyGreatestFailure: Uvanov sees his failure to save Zilda's brother, who fled into a storm after being afflicted with robophobia, as this
* MySpeciesDothProtestTooMuch: D84 is the only good robot in this serial -- though to be fair, the others didn't start out evil, and the one having its "good" programming rewritten on the operating table is ''very'' distressed throughout the process.
* NiceHat: The workers have some... odd headgear.
* NightmareFace: The robots are an in-universe example. Some people in the story are fine with them or even relate to them, but others subconsciously equate their weird, distorted faces with disfigured people or animated corpses, a recognized psychological disorder in the setting.
* OohMeAccentsSlipping: For one line in episode four, Uvanov suddenly becomes Irish. His actor was actually Glaswegian.
* PerspectiveMagic: The Doctor tells Leela that that this is the principle that enables the TARDIS to be much bigger on the inside than on the outside. She's understandably sceptical.
* RedEyesTakeWarning: An effect of the manner in which the robots are reprogrammed.
* RemovingTheHeadOrDestroyingTheBrain: An absurdly high number of robots take laser probes to the head.
* RippedFromTheHeadlines: The plot involves robots that instinctively creep people out - basically, the UncannyValley effect, which had been newly described at the time.
* RobotBuddy: D84.
* SanitySlippage: See FreakOut.
* ShoutOut:
** Robophobia is officially known as "Grimwade's Syndrome", a shout out to production assistant (later in the 1980's to be a Who director and writer) Peter Grimwade, who had complained that all the stories he worked on seemed to involve evil robots.
** Poul's name is a homage to SF writer Creator/PoulAnderson. Likewise, Taren Capel recalls [[Theatre/{{RUR}} Karel Capek]], inventor of the word "robot", and Uvanov is reminiscent of [[Creator/IsaacAsimov Asimov]].
** The Sandminer was inspired by ''Literature/{{Dune}}''.
* TheSpeechless: The robots are divided between "Dums" that cannot speak and "Vocs" that can, a trope originated by Creator/IsaacAsimov. In addition, "Super Vocs" like [=SV7=] have advanced intelligence and command the lesser 'bots.
** {{Lampshaded}} by D84 near the end of part 3:
--->'''D84''': This is a communicator. It can function on either human or robot command circuits. Would you like to use it? ''I'' cannot speak...
* {{Spinoff}}: [[http://www.kaldorcity.com/ Magic Bullet Productions]] have produced plays centered around this civilization and their robots. Russell Hunter reprised his role of Uvanov for them.
* SpoilerTitle: The robots did it. (Although the actual mystery of the story quickly turns into which of the human characters is reprogramming the robots to kill).
* StandardFemaleGrabArea: Used on [[ActionGirl Leela]] and immediately subverted when she [[GroinAttack kicks Uvanov in the goolies]] and threatens to cripple him.
* StarshipLuxurious: The mining ship is quite luxurious, despite being crewed by people desperately hoping for a good strike.
* StrappedToAnOperatingTable
* TenLittleMurderVictims: The twist being the killer is obvious hence the titles, likewise the mastermind behind reprograming them is revealed early on. The mystery is trying to figure out which of the crew, is them in disguise.
* ThoseTwoGuys: Poul and D84, though it ends unhappily - Poul has a Phobia-induced meltdown and D84 kills himself in a Heroic Sacrifice to save the Doctor. This was partly a TakeThat at the book series the story was referencing.
* ThreeLawsCompliant: The robots are more or less presumed to be, before Taren Capel starts messing with them.
* TookALevelInBadass: Once Uvanov and Toos get the supply of blasting packs out, much [[WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}} shiny metal ass]] is kicked.
* UncannyValley (InUniverse): The robots themselves, with their blank expressions and creepy sing-song voices. The Doctor [[LampshadeHanging hangs a lampshade]] on this: see the page quote.
** Inverted in the case of the villain: Taren Capel was raised entirely by robots and so believes ''humans'' are the Uncanny ones.
* UndercoverCopReveal: Poul is revealed to be an undercover agent -- and so is one of the robot drones, which is actually a highly advanced robot disguised as the most primitive and stupid model in use on the Sandminer.
* WholePlotReference: The story is a mashup of Creator/IsaacAsimov's work, particularly his Baley/Olivaw books (especially in the subplot concerning the human and robot detective team). Only the plot structure itself is TenLittleMurderVictims. And certain aesthetic elements are taken from ''Film/{{Metropolis}}''.
* WoundedGazelleGambit: Dask tries this in order to trick the remaining human survivors into letting him in their control room. Fortunately for them they listened to The Doctor and refused to let anyone in. Good thing, as he's really [[BigBad Taren Carpel]].
* WhyDidItHaveToBeSnakes: "Robophobia" or "Grimwade's Syndrome" is a reasonably common psychological condition in the setting, apparently caused by people with particularly keen body language skills [[UncannyValley subconsciously associating the stiff, humanoid robots with walking corpses]]. Poul suffers from this condition, and in the sequel ExpandedUniverse material it is revealed both Toos and Uvanov have developed cases of it as a result of the trauma they suffered at the hands of the robots, while Poul's has worsened to the point of being barely functional.
* TheXOfY
* YourHeadASplode: The effect of the "final deactivator" on nearby robots.