Series / Humans

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Humans is a Channel 4 and AMC co-produced series based in a world where androids have become commonplace.

The story follows five androids ("synths") who were created to be more human and the family who buy a reconditioned synth.

The series touches on various social issues including robots taking jobs, potential relationship problems due to robotic presence and loss of individual rights.

Humans is a remake of Äkta Människor (Real Humans), a Swedish Science Fiction drama series, and is Channel 4's highest-rated drama in over twenty years.


Humans provides examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: Karen was trying to shoot Niska after finding out about the consciousness program. George got in the way.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Mia calls Sophie "Little Mouse."
    • Leo refers to Max as "Maxie" most of the time.
  • Alternate Techline: All technology is the same except for the synths.
  • Alien Blood: Synth fluid, which acts as their blood, is the same shade of blue as a raspberry Jolly Rancher.
  • Always Someone Better: The synths in general to the humans.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Where to begin.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Niska, one of the sentient synths, is trapped in the robot brothel, and is shown screaming silently due to the ordeal.
    • It's implied that Mia experienced everything that was happening when she was Anita.
  • Androids Are People, Too: More or less the premise of the whole series.
  • Artificial Intelligence: The conscious synths are referred to as such.
  • Asshole Victim: The man Niska killed at the synthetic brothel asked her to act young and terrified. This pushed her over the edge.
  • Battleaxe Nurse: The android in question is cold, indifferent and will ignore the patient's protests.
  • Berserk Button: Don't mention the name Tom around Laura.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Max is considered the little brother of the family, and Leo in particular is extremely protective of him.
  • Book Ends:
    • Anita looks up at the moon at beginning of the pilot, and again towards the end.
    • Laura hides an item beneath a pile of clothes at the start of the pilot and at the end of the finale.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Mattie is a standard example of one. Not that she doesn't have a good reason.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Season 1 ended with a lighthearted scene with Sophie trying to fill the void Mia left by acting like a "synth". As of Season 2, it seems to be some kind of Trans Nature.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Joe Frequently accuses Laura of this. She explains it's because of Tom.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Fred hasn't appeared once in season 2.
  • Cyborg: Leo, having died as a child and been resurrected by his father using robot parts.
  • Color Motif: Blue is the color of Synth blood-analog and is often associated with death or dying. This can be seen most directly with damaged Synths, but it extends to fluids and in particular water. Jennie Morrow's death is associated with a particular waterfall, Hester tends to kill or leave bodies in water and Karen's brushes with death are associated with beer and the ocean respectively. For Synthetics this tends to make sense as fluids and circuitry do not mix well, and can be dangerous. Blue also tends to run opposite the color of green, which represents vitality and life. A good comparison for this is the difference between Athena's office vs the Hawkin's household, Niska's choice in eye color and V's preferred display.
  • Death Seeker: Karen, because I Cannot Self-Terminate.
  • Deceptively Human Robots: The robots' mannerisms, movements and vivid eyes detract from their otherwise realistic appearance. The group of sentient synths take it even further as only their eyes would give them away. Later Niska is able to pass for human quite easily with a pair of contacts to hide her normal iris colour.
  • Do Androids Dream?: A big theme of the show, like in the original. Laura Hawkins in particular finds herself asking this more and more regarding Anita/Mia.
  • The Cynic: Leo, big time. He's quick to give up hope and can barely interact with, much less trust, humans.
  • Emergent Human: All of the sentient synths, although Niska fits the trope most.
  • Eye Scream: Anita inserts a toothpick into her eye to prove that she cannot feel pain. It doesn't cause her eye any damage, but Laura is pretty horrified.
  • Fantastic Slur: "Dollies" seems to be a negative term for androids.
  • Foreign Remake: The series is a remake of the Swedish series called Äkta Människor or Real Humans.
  • Glowing Mechanical Eyes: Downplayed Trope, the synths' eyes are a bright, glowing green or blue.
  • Heroic Suicide: Mia triggers a device which will destroy Hester, knowing it would do the same to her since she's in range. Thankfully she can be revived before it's too late.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: All the Synths except Max show signs of this, but Hester really takes the cake: killing two people, unlike Niska showing no signs of regret, and being generally dismissive of Max and Mattie.
  • Honest John's Dealership: The synth store that sells Anita to the Hawkins family seems to make a habit of acquiring old and secondhand synths for cheap, cleaning them up and selling them as new.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: Karen thinks that conscious synths are a mistake that need to be corrected.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Karen was built with the inability for her to kill herself, since the woman she was modeled after committed suicide.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: Niska's contacts are a frozen blue, helping communicate her cold nature.
  • Ill Boy: Leo. His synthetic charging port is an open, infected wound on his stomach.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Max. Not only is he the most innocent and childlike of the conscious synths, he displays an unwavering moral compass and usually acts as Leo's Morality Chain. When Hester pushes Leo to embrace his darker nature in season 2, it drives a wedge between Max and Leo and they part ways. They only reunite after Leo has a My God, What Have I Done? moment.
  • I Was Just Joking: Laura asks Mia why people are hunting the conscious synths. Mia responds with a statement about conscious synths planning to enslave the human race. After Laura looks rather terrified, she clarifies that she's kidding.
  • Job-Stealing Robot: Mattie Hawkins believes there will be no skilled jobs for humans in the future. A newspaper headline in the Title Sequence also shows this fear. One of the members of We Are People partly bases his speech on this.
  • Just a Machine: These exact words are thrown around constantly, most poignantly when Joe insists that him sleeping with Anita doesn't count as cheating.
  • Killer Robot: After breaking free from the robot brothel, Niska has no qualms about hurting humans who hurt others. On the other hand, she was going to kill a man she picked up in a bar (to rob him) when she thought he was lying about being single (and thus cheating on his wife), but when she realizes that he is single and wasn't lying - or rather, he is divorced, and gets rotating custody of his little daughter - she has second thoughts and simply leaves.
  • Like Reality Unless Noted: The androids are the only thing shown to be different from present-day technology due to this. Word of God has it that it's actually a parallel present, not 20 Minutes into the Future. The story is set in a world 20 years after the invention of synths, and 10 years since they became everyday household appliances. Other technology, like cars and phones, looks just like it is from suburban England in 2015.
  • The Load: Max refers to himself as one on Leo, since he cannot survive on his own. However, Max saves Leo from himself on the regular.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Series 1 focuses on 17 different characters and five intersecting storylines.
    • The Hawkins family (Joe, Laura, Mattie, Toby, and Sophie) and their synth Anita
    • Retired AI researcher Dr. George Millican, his old caregiver synth Odi, and his new caregiver synth Vera
    • London Police Detectives Pete Drummond (along with his ex-wife Jill) and Karen Voss
    • Professor Edwin Hobb, an AI researcher looking to capture rogue synths
    • Leo Elster and the conscious synths (Max, Fred, and Niska)
  • Madden Into Misanthropy: Niska doesn't like humans very much, but she wants to live her own life away from her siblings. She's also pretty comfortable with the idea of killing people.
  • Mercy Kill: Niska mercy kills the badly damaged synths at the smash club.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After most of the conscious synths get fried during the escape from Qualia, Leo has a breakdown that leads him to reconcile with Max. It's implied that Mia, too, reconsiders her actions in the wake of the escape.
  • Not Quite Dead: After falling into the river with 4% power left, Max is fished out with a massive injury and suffers brain damage. This is repaired with the consciousness-giving program.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • George's reaction when he realizes that he left Niska's repair kit in plain sight when his house is being searched.
    • Edwin has one after Fred kills the guard hiding behind a door.
  • Only Mostly Dead: Leo did drown as a child, but he was rebuilt.
  • Parental Substitute: Why Mia and the other sentient synths were created.
  • Perma-Stubble: Leo's unshaven and has shaggy hair, emphasizing his life on the run.
  • Playing with Syringes/They Would Cut You Up: Since Leo is a one-of-a-kind cyborg with synthetic brain parts, the people hunting the conscious synths decide to experiment on him instead of euthanize him like he demands to be. He escapes before they can do anything.
  • Post-Cyberpunk: To an extent.
  • Raised by Robots:
    • Leo's mother Beatrice was very mentally ill and unable to care for herself, much less her son. This prompted her husband to build conscious synths to act as a family for Leo. Leo considers Mia his mother and loves her as much.
    • The "We Are People" movement's rhetoric brings up the fact that children are/will be raised by unfeeling, unconscious robots, instead of real human parents.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil:
    • Mattie dislikes synths and is happy to see them come to a certain amount of harm, but she draws the line at teenage boys raping a synth maid they've switched off (effectively knocked unconscious) at a Wild Teen Party.
    • Niska hates being trapped at the robot brothel, but it takes a client who wants her to act like an underage rape victim to make her snap and commit murder. It's also heavily implied that she was sexually abused by her father.
  • Replacement Goldfish: It turns out that Karen was originally Beatrice, a synth designed to look like Leo's mother.
    • Dr. Athena Morrow's goal is to do this with her daughter.
  • Religious Robot: After an argument with Leo, Max asks God to keep his family safe and in return he'll serve him in any way he can. He's not actually a believer, just worried, as he prefaces his prayer with "your existence is unlikely."
    • Odi walks into a church to get some advice on his existential crisis, which he does, but doesn't seem to grasp the concept of religion.
  • Robot Maid: What many of the synths are used for. Anita/Mia is one.
  • Robosexual:
    • It's so common for humans to have sex with synths that Anita, who is programmed as a Robot Maid, came with an "adult mode" for her primary owner. When Joe sleeps with her, his family is disgusted, because it's a mix of cheating and abusing someone they care for.
    • Toby is so enamored with Anita that he turns down a human girl, who's his age and into him.
  • Sexbot: A robotic brothel is shown. Niska is trapped there and later rebels by murdering a client. Household synths apparently have this as an adult-only option that can be activated.
  • "Second Law" My Ass!: Niska says as much when she kills the brothel client who orders her to act like a child rape victim.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Leo. He died in Real Humans at the end of Season 1, but survives here.
  • Static Stun Gun: Hobb's agents have rifles loaded with Taser rounds that can shut down a synth.
  • The Stoic: Niska, making it hard to prove she's sentient. Also counts as Stoic Woobie.
  • Suddenly Sexuality: Niska shows no sign of having any sexuality in season 1 (for good reason). The very first scene of season 2 reveals she's a lesbian.
  • Suicide Attack: Mia triggers a device to destroy Hester which also affects her. She's revived afterward though.
  • Super Strength: Synths of both genders are much stronger than humans.
  • Super Toughness: Anita gets hit by a car, saving Toby's life, and she's not much worse for wear.
  • Three-Laws Compliant: 'Asimov blocks' are mentioned as a reason why a synth could not kill a human, but the modified group are quite capable of hurting and killing humans. Like independent-minded sentient people, though, their attitudes towards killing vary. Niska has killed and claims that she has no reservations about it, but clearly hesitates in certain instances. Max is stunned and horrified that Niska took a life. Hester on the other hand is completely unrepentant when it comes to murder.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Odi. Unable to find a purpose for himself after attaining consciousness and missing his dead loved ones, he formats himself and erases his own mind.
  • Trans Nature: "Synthies".
  • Unscrupulous Hero: Niska. She does have some scruples, but she wants to ignore them.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Leo's origins.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Anita carrying Sophie out of the house.
    • Karen removing a sack of food from her throat after dinner, proving she's a synth.
    • Max plugging in Leo to charge after he gets badly beaten.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We still don't know why Anita/Mia took Sophie from the house at the end of the pilot.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?:
    • Examined. The synths look incredibly human, and several characters treat them as such. Even the ones who aren't that comfortable around the synths dislike the idea of them being hurt, such as Mattie stopping another teenager from raping a synth at a party.
    • The line is even further muddled when it comes to Leo, a cyborg.


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