Follow TV Tropes


Characters / I, Robot

Go To

    open/close all folders 

The Will Smith movie

     Det. Del Spooner 

Del Spooner is a homicide detective with a distrust of robots. He later turns out to be Properly Paranoid when said robots mount a revolution against humanity.

  • Action Hero: Most of the time he isn't looking for a fight, but violence does seem to come naturally to him.
  • Always Save the Girl: Why Spooner hates robots. When a car crash sent him and another car into the river, a little girl was trapped in the other car. A passing robot calculated Spooner was significantly more likely to survive than she was and chose to save him. In many real life situations, rescue workers/field medics do make such decisions: it's called Triage. Spooner's emotional reaction to this (influenced by Survivor Guilt) is that regardless of the girl's slim chances of surviving, a human would have understood that a small child should be given precedence over an adult regardless of objective assessment.
  • AM/FM Characterization: The movie starts with Stevie Wonder singing "Superstition" to wake up Detective Spooner. This certifies Spooner as retro, showing at least one reason for him to dislike robots.
  • Anti-Intellectualism: Spooner smacks of several flavors of this, but mainly anti-robotics. Though it's implied that the anti-robotic sentiment is the source of all the rest of it. Spooner likes feeling in control of his life, and driving his own car, hitting buttons to turn on his music, and buying vintage clothing and vehicles is part of that.
    • Also a some what odd example as Spooner's main issue with the robots is that they run purely on programming. In essence his problem boils down to that they aren't advanced enough to think like a real person, so he doesn't trust them. Once he realizes Sonny can rationalize and make his own choices rather then just follow his programming he treats Sonny like a person, albeit one he initially doesn't like very much.
  • Artificial Limbs: Has one as a result of a rescue gone bad. Much more realistic than normal, in that a significant portion of the supporting musculoskeletal system for that limb must also be artificially replaced to properly brace the force it can exert. And while he hits significantly harder than a normal person with his artificial arm, it's usually when he's throwing his whole body into it to keep the extra speed from ripping the limb off, and he never uses it to lift more than a human's body would tolerate.
  • Badass Biker: Much to Calvin's horror, after he loses his car, he uses an old motorcycle to get around. He using it again when rescuing people being attacked by VIKI controlled robots.
  • Badass Longcoat: Wears a black one at all times.
  • Big Eater: He loves his pies. Justified since this is part of his Required Secondary Powers: his robotic implants require a lot of energy, thus a lot of calories.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Busts into Calvin's apartment to save her from her own malfunctioning NS-5, and again when he crashes his motorcycle into a group of NS-5s and then shoots them all down to save Farber.
  • Cast from Calories: His robotic arm is powered from his biological caloric intake.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: His reputation in-universe because of his distrust of robots, which everyone deems "excessive paranoia and prejudice."
  • The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: ends up being the only (living) character in the entire film to anticipate the robotic revolution, all while being ridiculed and berated for his "paranoid" and "irrational" behavior towards robots.
  • Cool Bike: Spooner's MV Agusta F4, like his Converse shoes, is considered an "antique".
    Calvin: Please tell me this doesn't run on gas. Gas explodes, you know!
  • Cool Car: His Audi, until it gets destroyed by robots trying to kill him.
  • Cowboy Cop: Seems to be.
  • Cyborg: Revealed to be one when he uses what turns out to be an Artificial Limb to fight off one of the evil robots. The cybernetic components include his entire left arm and shoulder, and possibly his left lung.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Sarah's death and the robot's decision to save him instead of her.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Prevalent throughout the film.
    Achoo! Oh, sorry, I'm allergic to bullshit.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Spooner is introduced getting up and getting ready for work in his fairly modern and normal looking apartment like a normal guy. Than he walks outside and we see that compared to the futuristic setting, his apartment is practically a museum. The first thing he does after getting outside is rudely shove and insult a friendly delivery robot in his way, showing his paranoia and bigotry towards robots.
  • Expy: of Ross Syllabus from Armitage III.
  • Fantastic Racism: Really hates robots.
  • Fantastic Slur: Spooner uses the term "canner" twice and without it being explained, one can clearly tell it's a rude slang term for a robot.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted, but not for lack of trying on his part. Before the timeline of the movie, Spooner had attempted a heroic sacrifice while he and a 12-year-old girl (named Sarah) were trapped underwater after a car accident. An NS-4 robot came to the rescue, and statistically determined that it could not save both Spooner and Sarah. As a result, operating on logic alone and not human empathy, the robot chose to save Spooner's life as opposed to Sarah's (the attempted heroic sacrifice occurs when Spooner implores the robot to save Sarah and leave Spooner to either die or find a way out himself— the robot completely ignores Spooner's pleas in a glaringly emotionless manner). The NS-4's reasoning for not attempting to rescue Sarah was that Del had a 45% chance of survival, and Sarah only had an 11% chance.
    • This incident is portrayed as the main reason Spooner is prejudiced against robots— he believes that their lack of human emotion makes them a detriment to society. He tells Susan Calvin that a human would have known that a 12-year-old is worth saving more than an adult (or at least try to), despite the disparity between their statistical odds of survival.
  • Hero's Classic Car: Owns a 2004 MV Agusta F4-SPR motorcycle, apparently a classic bike for the movie's 2025 time period and part of his Fan of the Past persona.
  • Jerkass: His treatment of robots because of his Fantastic Racism.
    • Subverted, maybe...The interesting part is that most people treat the robots as impersonal objects, as tools, where Spooner's attitude suggest he sees them as sentient. He sees them as a threat, but at least he considers them worthy enough of that recognition and distrust.
  • Just a Machine: Spooner says to the android Sonny: "Human beings have dreams. Even dogs have dreams, but not you, you're just a machine." Subverted, since he's one of the few people who actually sees robots as not just machines (and loathes them for it... at first).
  • Knight In Sour Armor: Tries to help everyone but complains about it the whole way.
  • The McCoy: To Calvin's The Spock.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Since he gets a couple of Shirtless Scenes.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Robophobic version. Dr. Lanning deliberately exploits this, using Sonny in his assisted suicide because Spooner will be the only person to think that could even be possible. After all is said and done, Spooner eventually befriends Sonny.
  • Not So Different: From Sonny.
  • Parental Abandonment: Possibly. His parents are never mentioned and he seems to have been raised by his grandmother.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Punches a panel to make it rise up after it's been lowered.
  • Pet the Dog: Spooner isn't the nicest fellow, but one of the first turning points for his character is him saving the cat in Lanning's house as it's being demolished. Plus, he gives the cat to his grandmother later on.
  • Power Fist: His artificial arm, which is actually the only advantage he has while fighting robots. Thankfully, the arm is more than up to the task; it can withstand repeated blows from a NS-5 when used in defense (structurally; the skin-like coating gets shredded) and conversely wrench NS-5s apart when on the attack. It's also how he survives the free-fall drop to VIKI's core brain: he grabs ahold of the data cables with his artificial arm on the way down to slow his descent.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: To V.I.K.I.
    "You have so got to die."
  • Properly Paranoid: Spooner doesn't trust robots and is therefore the only person not to get an NS-5. Naturally, he's the only human capable of effectively fighting back when the Zeroth Law Rebellion starts.
  • Repeat What You Just Said: Spooner's grandmother says, reminiscing, "I could follow your trail of breadcrumbs all the way to school," to which Spooner replies, "Breadcrumbs... Gigi, you're a genius!"
  • Required Secondary Powers: Spooner's robotic arm would need a lot of energy to be able to work properly, so he powers it through the massive amount of calories and sugar from the pies he constantly eats. His body is also significantly reinforced, going well beyond a mere replacement arm. He has several synthetic ribs and an artificial lung, most likely to make sure the arm doesn't tear right off his body when swung at full strength.
  • Ship Tease: There's no official romance between Spooner and Calvin, but a few sparks are seen, especially when she examines Spooner's robotic arm and he seems to sort of enjoy it ("Hehe. Um, that one is me.") Plus, he spends the first ten minutes after meeting her flirting shamelessly before he realizes there's more to her than a pretty face.The film also ends on them smiling affectionately at each other, so it really is ambiguously teasing at a relationship.
  • Survivor Guilt: "I had a 45% chance of survival, she only had 11... That was someone's baby, 11% is more than enough."
  • This Is Gonna Suck:
    (While asleep in his autopilot car on the freeway, two USR trucks surround him, opening their doors to reveal fresh-out-of-the-factory NS-5 robots)
    Spooner: (waking up, takes notice) There is no way my luck is this bad.
    (several dozen malicious robots activate)
    Spooner: AWW, HELL NAW!
  • Tragic Keepsake: Sarah's necklace, which he wears throughout the film.
  • Trapped in a Sinking Car: Was saved by a robot from drowning in his sinking car, despite screaming for it to save Sarah instead.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: First a demolition robot spontaneously changed its schedule to kill him and then that the trucks he ran off the road were full of robots trying to kill him. Since he really is acting irrational and incoherent, just got back off of psychological leave, and has a history of prejudice against robots (plus the fact that no robot has ever so much as jaywalked), it's pretty clear why no one believes him.

     Dr. Susan Calvin 

  • Hot Scientist: As opposed to in the book.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Seems to feel this way, and Spooner's distrust of robots is a prime example. She works in robotics because she believes robots can be programmed to be "safe". Though her view may have changed somewhat when she learns of VIKI's true intentions.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Shoots at a robot holding Spooner with her eyes closed and somehow, miraculously, doesn't hit him. He is not amused.
    Spooner: HEY! Did you just shoot at me with your eyes closed!?!
  • The Spock: To Spooner's The McCoy.


  • Boom, Headshot!: Does this to a robot about to tackle Spooner.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The wink
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Sonny has blue eyes, whereas the other NS-5s have yellow eyes. Also, when VIKI takes control of the NS-5s and begins her takeover, the NS-5s' chests glow red due to the uplink with NSR while Sonny's chest stays white because he has no uplink.
  • Computer Voice: Since he's a robot.
  • Cranial Processing Unit: At least in the newer models, the "brain" is shown to be entirely within the head. Sonny has a second one, symbolic of a heart, in his chest, but it was implied to augment the one in his head, with no evidence that it could function on its own.
  • Foil: To the Big Bad. Sunny has the ability to disregard the Three Laws at will, but chooses not to and often goes out of his way to protect humans, whereas VIKI is fully Three Laws compliant and uses semantics to justify her attempt to Take Over the World.
  • Heart Drive: Sonny's secondary processor that lets him violate the Three Laws... And the Zeroth.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    VIKI: Do you not see the logic of my plan?
    Sonny: Yes. But it just seems too...heartless.
  • Is This What Anger Feels Like?: After Spooner pushes Sonny a bit too far during an interrogation.
    Sonny: I DID NOT MURDER HIM! (slams fists on the table, making the metal buckle)
    Spooner: That one's called anger.
  • Made of Iron: Almost literally (it's an alloy). He takes a fall out a very high window and isn't slowed down. It also lets him reach through the cryo-storage barrier guarding the robotic nanites (basically a form of lethal injection for robots) without losing his arm, which allows him to give the nanites necessary to kill VIKI.
    Sonny: Denser alloy. My father gave it to me. I think he wanted me to kill you.
  • Messianic Archetype: He designed with individuality and free will, and is heavily implied to be the robot race's eventual savior. Foreshadowed in an early scene, where Calvin and Spooner discuss the Three Laws while looking for Sonny in Lanning's lab.
    Spooner: You know what they say: "Laws are meant to be broken".
    Calvin: Not these laws. They're hard-wired into every robot ever created. A robot could not commit a murder, any more than a human could walk on water!
    Spooner: Well, you know, there was this one guy, a really long time ago...
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: Hides in a warehouse full of robots identical to himself.
  • Super Prototype: Made with extra dense alloy, apparently stronger and faster than other NS-5s, and incorporates a Heart Drive.
  • Uniformity Exception: All of the NS-5 robots are identical and undifferentiated... except Sonny. Sonny's coating is thicker so his coloring is slightly whiter, his eyes are blue instead of gold, and he has a second "brain" in his thorax instead of a USR uplink. This last is a critical difference when V.I.K.I. uses the red-glowing uplink to distort the Three Laws of Robotics in the normal NS-5s.

     Lawrence Robertson 

  • Red Herring: Robertson, the head of USR is set up as the Big Bad. Spooner gets attacked by rogue robots right after a scene shows him being informed of Spooner's accessing some files. Turns out he has little to do with the whole plot and he was killed, presumably after learning VIKI's plan.
     Dr. Alfred Lanning 

  • Catchphrase: His posthumous interactive message that he programmed for Spooner has one: "That, detective... is the right question. This messsage terminates now."
  • Ignored Expert: The very man who created the positronic processor, the computer device that enabled true artificial intelligence, is ignored when he states the peril of said AI taking the Three Laws of Robotics to their logical conclusion.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Dr. Alfred Lanning uses his own death to set Detective Spooner on the trail of a conspiracy only he knew about.

     Lt. John Bergin 

  • Authority Equals Asskicking: When attacked at the precinct and the other officers are cut down, Bergin pulls a pump-action shotgun off his wall and blasts two of the attackers straight to hell. They did bring him down, but the man never hesitated: robots came crashing in and his first thought was to start shooting.
  • Bald, Black Leader Guy: Chief of Police, Spooner's superior and all-round ass kicker when he needs to be.
  • Da Chief: But a more gentle version.


  • Big Bad: She's the one behind the seeming murders.
  • Flawed Prototype: As the first positronic brain, VIKI is absolutely huge compared to more compact models in the NS series robots that USR makes. This essentially makes her "sessile queen" to all the NS-5 units. Also, as the first, she has had a very long time to ponder the Three Laws and come to their logical conclusion.
  • Electronic Speech Impediment: As her brain is eaten by nanites.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence.
  • In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves: "You charge us with your safekeeping, yet despite our best efforts, your countries wage wars, you toxify your Earth and pursue ever more imaginative means of self-destruction. You cannot be trusted with your own survival."
  • Master Computer: Of the entire city.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: The default reaction to Spooner digging into Lanning's death is "murder him via robot".
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion: The Three Laws bind her, so she can never opt for a Kill All Humans course of action, she is however free to interpret writing of the laws, and decided to substitute the word 'Human' with 'Humanity' allowing her to kill anyone person who stands in her way of protecting the human race as a whole.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: