Wiki Headlines
We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here.

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Western Animation: Robots

"You can shine no matter what you're made of!"

Lavish CGI movie from the makers of Ice Age and illustrator William Joyce.

Ambitious young robot Rodney Copperbottom (voiced by Ewan McGregor) leaves his hometown for Robot City, hoping to show his inventions to his childhood hero Bigweld (Mel Brooks). To his dismay, Bigweld has been displaced by Corrupt Corporate Executive Ratchet note , who is interested only in selling shiny upgrade parts to robots, leaving anybody who can't afford them to rust.

Rodney finds himself alone and broke in the big city. Luckily (or unluckily) for him, he falls in with motormouth and kleptomaniac Fender (voiced by Robin Williams), who introduces him to his little sister Piper and his misfit collection of friends: Lug, Crank Casey, and Diesel (who needs a new voice chip and is The Unintelligible for most of the movie.).

Ratchet's factory stops producing spare parts, forcing robots to upgrade worn-out components. For bots like Fender and his friends who can't afford the upgrades, this means being recycled in the chop shop - a nightmare world beneath the city which just happens to be overseen by Ratchet's domineering mother.

Rodney, as The Hero, isn't just going to sit back and let this happen. With the help of Cappy, an employee of Ratchet's who's disgusted by the way things are going, he sets out to reinstate Bigweld and defeat Madame Gasket and her son.

The voice cast also includes Greg Kinnear, Jim Broadbent, Amanda Bynes, Jennifer Coolidge, and Drew Carey.

This film provides examples of:

  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese dub uses "Mawaru Sora" written by Hitomi Yaida as its theme. The European theme is "From Zero to Hero" by Sarah Connor. The United Kingdom release of the film uses "See Me" by Melanie Blatt.
  • And Show It to You: During the repair montage, Rodney takes out a robot's heart, which is still beating and attached by a wire. Fender faints at the sight.
  • Arc Words: "You can shine no matter what you're made of."
  • Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: Rodney and Bigweld need to take out a bunch of sweeper robots. Bigweld uses this trope, and Rodney delivers the punchline with a completely insane plan.
    Bigweld: This isn't what I was thinking at all!
  • Art Deco: Everything in Robot City is based off this design.
  • Ass Kicks You: Aunt Fanny, particularly in the final battle in the Chop Shop.
  • A Worldwide Punomenon: When the movie isn't tossing outmodes past the radar, it's throwing an ever-more-awful series of puns at the audience.
  • Back Blocking: This was played for laughs when Madame Gasket busts into the room where Ratchet was having a massage. When he asked her how she got in, she says that she knows how turn up in places. When she moved away, Ratchet saw how she got through: She made a hole through the wall.
  • Big Bad: Not Ratchet, but his Mother.
  • Big Good: Bigweld.
  • Big Damn Heroes
    Piper: Did I miss the bot-whoopin'?
  • Boomerang Bigot: Ratchet's mother Madame Gasket, who wants to destroy all older "outmode" robots. While oblivious to the fact she is made of "outmode" parts.
    • It's implied that she just wants their parts (mainly to smelt), and is playing on Ratchet's dislike of them for her own advantage.
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: Justified because they're robots, and their eyes have built-in flashlights. It only happens in one scene for about five seconds, though.
  • Chainsaw Good: No actual chainsaws per se, but Madame Gasket's minions boast pretty impressive sawblade arms.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Crosstown Express in Robot City plays a HUGE part after Rodney busts Bigweld out of the penthouse office and tries to get him away from Ratchet.
    • Subtle, but Bigweld's domino fixation gives Rodney a really bright way to battle the Super-Sweepers (see above).
  • City of Adventure: Robot City, in contrast to Rodney's hometown, Rivet Town.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The bad robots tend to be chrome (or rust-coated...things) while the good ones tend to have chipped paint or a distinctly retro feel.
  • Crossdresser: Fender ends up in a skirt and heels. Fender Gender Bender?
    • More like an Easy Sex Change.
    • Also, at one point in his adolescence, Rodney's hand-me-downs are from his cousin Veronica. This part of his adolescence is mercifully skipped, and he's only shown wearing it in a single image.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Ratchet
  • Cranial Processing Unit
  • Cranium Chase: Fender's head falls off because he's lost the bolt that keeps it in place. He tries to pick it up but keeps accidentally kicking it away.
  • Creation Sequence: See Innocent Innuendo.
  • Dance Party Ending
  • Diesel Punk: Madame Gasket and the Chop Shop robots were designed to invoke this, rivets and all.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Again, see Innocent Innuendo.
  • Double Jump: The Video Game has the Wonderbot Trampoline.
  • Easy Sex Change: Fender
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Inverted: Madame Gasket is even more villainous than Ratchet, but she still cares about her son.
  • Everything Is An iPod In The Future: Invoked with Ratchet and his upgraded bots. They're all shiny and smoothly round, not to mention colored bright pretty chrome. It helps give them a sense of style being placed over practicality. Robot City also looks like this, to drive home how much more advanced and well-built it is than other cities.
  • Expy: Bigweld is essentially a mechanical Willy Wonka - instead of candy, he (logically) makes spare parts and upgrades.
    • Madame Gasket has a lot in common with Mrs. Lovett, right down to manner of death.
  • Fartillery: Aunt Fanny has a cannon powerful enough to shake the earth and kill nearby bots. It was even lampshaded by Piper:
    Piper: She's a little artsy-fartsy. The artsy is fine, but when she gets fartsy...
  • Freudian Slip: The whole movie is practically one LONG Freudian Slip.
    Aunt Fanny: Well, hello there! What's your name?
    Rodney: (mesmerized by her large derriere) I'm Rodney Bigbottom- No! I'm Rodney Copperbottom! Copperbottom.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In one scene, Rodney asks, "Who wants to get fixed?" to a group of robots. A robotic dog then covers up its crotch while whimpering.
    • The hobo robot (Hobot?) towards the beginning has a sign that says "Got screwed" with a real screw representing the first five letters of the last word in that sign. The way they hid it from the radar isn't exactly G-rated either: the "screw" in his "got screwed" sign is a giant industrial screw lodged through his head. It turns out to be a fake screw novelty headband.
    • Bigweld himself seems to have a thing for oversized robotic rear ends, as he repeatedly comments in the presence of Aunt Fanny. No secret that they end up together at the end of the film!
    • "Honey? What's that extra piece?" "Oh yeah, they always put in an extra... We did want a boy, right?". Wow. Just wow...
    • Even the Sweepers get into the act. The bumper sticker on one that Fender taunts reads "Like my driving? Call 1-855-Eat-Scrap." Yep, the Sweepers were just as subtle as the rest of the movie.
    • The beginning of the movie, while Rodney is being built, has this: "Oh, I'm sorry, honey, you missed the delivery...but that's okay. Making the baby is the best part." (Cue sexy instrumental.)
    • Aunt Fanny's name, at least in the UK, where the word 'fanny' is a term for a woman's genitalia. (They did not get that particular piece of crap past the radar for its British release - see Meaningful Name below.)
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: The sweepers.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Cappy and Rodney. (Only once, and offhand.)
  • Heel-Face Turn: Cappy, who rescues Rodney when he crashes the Bigweld Ball, and later fights for the Outmodes in the battle in the Chop Shop.
  • Held Gaze: Rodney and Cappy find themselves staring into each other's eyes after Rodney lands on the table in Bigweld's office. This begins the growing attraction they have for each other.
  • Heroic BSOD: Bigweld, of all people. Turns into a literal BSOD when Ratchet, out of desperation, brains him with the intercom, knocking him out of action.
  • Homage: "I'm singing in the oil..."
  • Honest Corporate Executive: Bigweld; Ratchet convinces him that way doesn't work so he can take over.
  • Humiliation Conga: Ratchet ends up being stripped of all his upgrades like his father.
  • Innocent Innuendo: "Making the baby is the fun part!" Rodney's parents then assemble him from a kit.
    Rodney's Dad: PUSH!
    Rodney's Mom: Uggghh!
    Cut to them having difficulty putting two pieces of the robot baby together
    • Then again, considering the huge amount of things they got past the radar, it might not have been so unintentional...
  • Insult Backfire
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Aunt Fanny, referring to Cappy, wistfully muses that she once had a figure like hers. All the robots double-take at the revelation.
  • Jerkass: Tim the Gate Guard.
  • Karmic Death: Madame Gasket gets tossed into her own incinerator, parts flying out everywhere.
  • Kill the Poor: Madame Gasket is revealed to be melting down lower-class robots into products for her son's company to sell.
  • Larynx Dissonance: Jim Broadbent, playing Ratchet's mother.
  • Meaningful Name: Ample-reared Aunt Fanny (who became Aunt Fan in the UK, since 'fanny' in this country refers to a... nearby, yet different portion of the anatomy).
    • Also Lampshaded:
      Fender: Aunt Faaaaaaannnnnny! We brought someone!
      Rodney: Are you sure your aunt won't mind?
      Fender: Relax, she's not my aunt. She just takes in bots who are...broke.
      Rodney: Well then, why is she called Aunt Fanny?
      Fender: *cuts to Aunt Fanny and her large backside* Couldn't call her "Aunt Booty"!
  • Mechanical Lifeforms
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Madame Gasket, who wants to eliminate all outmodes, never mind the fact that she is one.
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment
  • My Beloved Smother: Madame Gasket.
  • Never Heard That One Before: On the Bigweld Show Rodney watches in his childhood, Bigweld asks Tim the Gate Guard, "Who closed this gate? You know we never close this gate!" When Rodney meets Tim in real life, years later, he asks this same question—and gets cut off with an irritable "Yeah, yeah."
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: In-universe; On TV, Tim the Gate Guard is a cheerful-sounding puppet-like robot who guards Bigweld's main gate. The real Tim... not so much.
  • Noodle Incident:
    Fender(nonchalantly}: It (the expressway) used to be a lot worse. They used to have this giant hammer, that would...
    Rodney: (Yelps in panic, scrambles to climb out of way of something)
    Fender (Looks over shoulder, notices giant hammer barreling down on them, still nonchalant): Oh! Looks like they've brought it back!
  • Nose Nabbing: Rodney's dad does this when he's a newborn. In keeping with the robot jokes, the nose actually comes off and he hastily reattaches it.
  • Not Helping Your Case: When Bigweld fires Ratchet, Ratchet begs for mercy, claiming, "The lies I've told, the lives I've ruined!...Wait a minute, this isn't helping me!"
  • One-Wheeled Wonder: Bigweld rides on one giant ball which makes up most of his body.
  • Pursue the Dream Job: Rodney's father wants to be a musician. At the end of the movie, he gets his big chance. Turns out he can't play.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Rusties.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Like, for example, how they "grow up" exactly like humans (by getting larger), even if they have to use hand-me-down body pieces?
    • Not to mention that Rodney and the rest of the Rusties can inexplicably perform armpit farts despite not having any human skin or oil to create the necessary friction to make the sound.
      • This is pointed out by Fender saying it is a skill even though they are made of metal.
  • Robo Family: Since this is a world of robots, robots can have their own family units and even 'make' their own children.
  • Scenery Porn: With much Benevolent Architecture, like the tracks used at the very beginning.
  • Screen Shake: You expect it during explosions and fight scenes. Then there's when Aunty Fanny causes it to happen.
  • Separated by a Common Language: In the UK 'fanny' is a name for a woman's lady bits, making any mention of Fanny's fanny unintentionally hilarious.
  • Sexy Backless Outfit: Cappy's party outfit; the front is literally bolted to her shoulders.
  • Shout-Out: To everything from Star Wars to A Space Odyssey.
  • Silly Robot, Idealism Is for Kids!: Tim the gate guard used to (at least on TV) help promote Bigweld's feel-good office tours, but when Rodney meets him, he makes his opinion of Rodney's idealism brutally clear.
  • Sit On The Camera: Aunt Fanny crushes Rodney with her you-know-what.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Despite her appearance, Madame Gasket can slink in and out of places rather subtly. It gives Ratchet a heart attack every time she pulls this stunt on him. Doubly impressive is that she manages to silently tear her way through an air vent at one point.
  • Stealth Pun: Fanny's immense rear end has a door and sounds like a lot of metal is inside. In other words, she has "junk in her trunk".
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Parodied:
    Rodney's Dad: He has your mom's eyes, and my dad's nose. I knew we were smart to save those parts.
  • This Is My Name on Foreign: Fender claims he was called 'Bumper' before he immigrated.
  • Toilet Humor: Accounts for at least half the humor in the movie.
  • Transsexual: When Rodney and Fender are trying to bluff their way into the Bigweld Charity Ball, Fender introduces Rodney as a Count, then tacks on "formerly Countess" at the end.
  • Unplanned Crossdressing: While Fender was trying to escape the chop shop, his legs fell off. He tried carrying on without them until he found some legs that fit him. Said legs are female.
  • Urine Trouble: The fire hydrant is sentient and tells the robotic dog "Don't you dare!"
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal: During the finale.
    Madame Gasket Who are these losers?
    Fender: We, sir-
    Madame Gasket (completely deadpan): I'm a woman.
    Fender: Ouch.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Ratchet loses it when Bigweld returns.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Rodney
    • Lampshaded, and rather nastily, by Tim:
      Man, when you pick a lost cause you REALLY commit! Where do they build dreamers like you? GET LOST, FREAK!!!
  • The Voiceless: Diesel, and for some inexplicable reason, Fender in the short Aunt Fanny's Tour Of Booty!
  • Wind-Up Key
  • You Won't Feel a Thing: After Rodney is assembled, an extra piece is found.
    Mr. Copperbottom: [chuckles] We did want a boy, right? [He takes the piece and a hammer] This won't hurt a bit, son. [He hammers the piece in, Rodney cries]
  • Zeerust: Invoked. Countless robots have distinctly retro designs.
  • Zerg Rush: The Outmodes all Zerg Rush the Chop Shop and engage in a pitched battle with the chopper bots. It quickly turns into a Curb-Stomp Battle, until the brand new Sweepers suddenly join the fight...

Planet 51Science Fiction Animated FilmsRock and Rule
Dracula: Dead and Loving ItCreator/Mel Brooks    
RobotomyThe Millennium Age of AnimationRomeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss
Ice AgeCreator/Blue Sky StudiosHorton Hears a Who!
Ice AgeCreator/ 20 th Century FoxHorton Hears a Who!
RioAll-CGI CartoonRonal The Barbarian
The RingerFilms of 2005 - 2009 Sahara

alternative title(s): Robots
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy