epoxy on Jan 12th 2018 at 8:21:01 PM
Last Edited By:
Arivne on Jan 23rd 2018 at 11:25:40 PM
Page Type: trope
The Benevolent A.I. and the Robot Buddy can be powerful assets to their human masters. Aside from their respective intelligence and ability to do almost anything, these mechanical allies are famously durable.
A machine can't feel pain, so a robot can't be hurt. It can't be injured, only damaged, and can surely be repaired. Since it is not technically alive it can never be killed and, even if it is completely destroyed, surely its data is backed up and it can be rebuilt good-as-new.
But what if this isn't the case? What if a robot can do more than dream: what if it can feel pain and fear death? There's a chance it will disregard these dangers and perform what is widely-touted as a uniquely-human act: self-sacrifice.
Death may come to a machine when it is destroyed with No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup, but sacrifice may take other forms: an artificial intelligence may suffer a partial Mind Wipe, a robot may sustain irreparable damage, an Android may be sufficiently-complex to perceive pain. In any case, it puts itself in harm's way to protect a human.
In order to fit this trope, the robot in question must be created by humans and subservient to humans. It must also protect its human master voluntarily: In other words, this machine has the capacity to Turn Against Its Masters but has emphatically decided to do the opposite. For this reason, robots that are Three-Laws Compliant generally don't qualify: they are bound to protect humans compulsively - no willpower needed.
This is a Death Trope so expect unmarked spoilers in examples.
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. At the series' end the Tachikomas (who have become truly sentient beings instead of advanced AIs) willingly redirect the satellite that contains their minds into the path of a nuclear missile.
- The Iron Giant. The titular character is designed to be a giant Killer Robot, described by one character as "a big gun that walks". In the end, it refuses to Kill Crush Destroy and saves the town by flying into a nuclear missile.
Hogarth: (in the Giant's mind) You are who you choose to be.Giant: Superman.
- Wall E. The title character is more protective of his beloved plant than the humans, but in his effort to defend it he is hurt and almost killed by Auto.
- In Moon, GERTY offers to erase his own memory to protect Sam.
- In RobotAndFrank, Robot warns that his memory is legal evidence that will incriminate Frank. He convinces Frank to format his system.
- The Star Wars films - all of them - feature heroic droid R2-D2. Despite being mechanical, the droids of Star Wars are unique, can feel pain and seem to be sapient. Artoo is not compelled to heroism by Restraining Bolt; his feats are motivated by bravery and loyalty.
Feedback: 18 replies