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Fanfic / The Iron Horse: Everything's Better With Robots!

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She'll befriend you. That's what she does. That's all she does!

Can a machine make friends? When Twilight Sparkle finds the first independently functioning automaton in Equestrian history, she decides to find out.

This My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Fanfic by The Hat Man centers around a mysterious robot pony who gets struck by lightning and loses her original programming. Twilight, being the student she is, takes the robot, whom she names "Turing Test," under her wing. The story owes a lot to the likes of Isaac Asimov and Star Trek: The Next Generation in particular, among other works depicting fictional robots. It is mainly a slice-of-life comedy about the titular character's development and growth through The Power of Friendship, though it also has an ongoing story about who Turing's creators are and what they want.

The story can be found here.

The story also features original illustrations, drawn by the author's friend Colby Green.


This Fanfic contains examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Cobbler Mustang treats the protagonists to a lovely dinner. He's also a genuinely kind and generous boss.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: What everypony fears about the titular character.
    • Unit 002 tends to show signs of this, most notably when she threatens to kill Spike.
  • All There in the Manual: A few things in the story reference the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) series.
  • Anachronism Stew: The story gives some explanation for why Equestria is like this.
  • Apocalypse Cult: The (now defunct) Umbral Order wants to awaken an army of umbrum (shadow monsters) sleeping under the Crystal Empire.
  • Artistic License – Engineering: The story starts with Turing Test being struck by lightning and losing her memory, forcing Twilight to repair her. Whether or not such a thing would happen or if her metal exterior would act as a Farraday Cage has been questioned by the readers.
  • Advertisement:
  • Ax-Crazy: It quickly becomes clear that 002 is completely off her rocker.
  • Badass Bookworm: Twilight Sparkle.
    Twilight Sparkle: (breaks down hotel room door) HOUSEKEEPING!!
  • Big Bad: The leader of the ponies who created Turing Test, so far known only as "the President". It turns out his name's Cobbler Mustang.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Turing Test's mane is made of tube-shaped polymer coils. They act as her heat sink, keeping her systems from overheating.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Once by Discord, and later by Pinkie Pie.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Later crosses with So Unfunny, It's Funny and Anti-Humor.
    Turing Test: Starswirl the Bearded walks into a malt shop. The stallion minding the counter and the other patrons all run screaming from the malt shop because Starswirl the Bearded has been dead for a thousand years and it is normal to fear the undead.
  • Christmas Special/You Mean "Xmas": The story has a stand-alone special wherein Turing Test seeks a gift for Twilight Sparkle for Hearth's Warming Eve.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Happens a lot to Turing, though she does eventually start to catch on.
  • Cranial Processing Unit: Turing's brain is indeed in her head.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Glory is an unstoppable, superpowered, nigh-invulnerable juggernaut. Then Turing Test decides to fight him.
    • Unit 004 is an unstoppable, superpowered, nigh-invulnerable juggernaut Robopony. This fight does not go well for Turing Test.
  • Dating Catwoman: Gadget and Fine Print real name Umahara share a sweet, mutual attraction. When Umahara's cover is blown and he and Gadget fight, their romance is cut short, though both still carry a torch for each other.
  • Death of a Child: Poor Georgia Peach...
  • Deep Cover Agent:
    • Bon Bon was this, formerly, with the Royal Monstrosity Containment Agency or just RMCA.
    • Another example is Fine Print - real name Umahara - who is spying on Twilight and monitoring Turing Test.
  • Disability Immunity: Turing Test can't really feel things when she touches them, but she also cannot feel pain. An even better example is that her inorganic brain, for all its difficulties with emotions and rigid adherance to logic, is totally immune to a particular villain's Mind Rape attack.
  • Disability Superpower: Gadget wanted to be an engineer. Unfortunately, she's an Earth Pony, and most ponies in that field are unicorns, since their magic gives them greater precision with building and fixing machines. So Gadget creates some Artificial Limbs that are powered by her Earth Pony magic, making them an extension of her own body and granting her complete control over them.
  • Drone Deployer: Unit 002.
  • Emotionless Girl: Turing begins life this way.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Though Grace and Glory are defeated, story illustrations implies that this isn't the last we'll see of them... Indeed, Grace awakens from her coma in the final chapter.
  • Fantastic Racism/What Measure Is A Non-Organic: Lots of characters notably Celestia do not think Turing Test has any rights, nor do they regard her as "person/pony." You can usually tell a character's changing attitude by whether they call Turing Test "she" or merely "it."
  • Faux Affably Evil: One of the villains of a particular arc is a former cultist nun named Grace. She always has a pleasant smile, is not prone to raising her voice, and likes to sing tunes as she Mind Rapes you.
  • Fembot: Though still clearly robotic, Turing Test identifies as female and her design is, for a pony, noticeably feminine. Her voice is likewise described as high-pitched.
  • Gadgeteer Genius:
    • The appropriately named character Gadget, a young pony with a knack for invention and a set of four mechanical arms to prove it.
    • Doctor Whooves is this as well.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Gadget and just about everypony is guilty of this in one non-canon chapter.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: More or less the point of Turing's character arc is her constantly becoming something more than the basic machine she once was, developing a personality over time.
    • In fact, this may be the natural progression for all of Turing's "siblings."
  • Harmful to Minors: Played for Laughs. In one chapter, Rainbow Dash says she's been taking Scootaloo to see R-rated movies. When asked if she at least got permission, Rainbow says she has. ...Scootaloo's permission.
  • Heart Drive: Turing has a portion of her artificial neural network, her primary memory module, removed. She reverts to acting completely robotic until she has it reinserted.
  • Heroic BSoD: Turing gets this after she is forced to use violence to stop Grace and Glory.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl:
    • Vanderbull and Gadget
    • Grace (tiny) and Glory (huge)
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Bon Bon does this after Lyra is rendered feral and Grace shows her Cruel Mercy by not rendering her catatonic as well.
  • Insistent Terminology: Originally labelled an "automaton," Turing decides she prefers "robot" instead.
  • Job-Stealing Robot: This is a common fear for many characters, but it becomes especially relevant to Applejack when Turing Test comes to help on the farm and quickly seems to replace her at almost every task.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Unit 004, sent by Turing's creators to retrieve her by any means necessary.
  • Knight Templar: Grace and Glory are these, more or less. They're a pair of cultists who believe the only way to remove suffering from the world is to unleash a group of shadow monsters who will destroy all life. Overlaps a bit with Church Militant, as the cult they belonged to, the Umbral Order, was gaining power before Special Agent Sweetie Drops helped bring them down.
  • Mad Scientist: Gadget has some of this in her, though of the benevolent variety. Doctor Whooves counts too.
  • Magitek: How a lot of Equestrian technology works.
  • Meaningful Name:
  • Mechanical Horse: Turing Test is a literal example.
  • Medieval Stasis: This trope plays a big part in this story, with Celestia trying to enforce it, while the ponies of Tecquestria trying to defy it. Both Sides Have a Point, too.
  • Mentor/Like a Daughter to Me: Railroad Baron and engineering pioneer Cornelius Vanderbull is like this to Gadget, his inventive young protégée. Though he's tough and sometimes annoyed by her exuberance, it's obvious that he cares for her and thinks highly of her.
  • Minored In Ass Kicking: Turing is actually incredibly strong and has defensive capabilities built into her default programming, but avoids fighting at all costs. Until she has no other choice.
  • Motor Mouth: Though originally quite reserved, when prompted for detail or an explanation, Turing becomes this. Later on, this becomes a key part of her style of humor.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Turing experiences this after finally resorting to violence to stop a pair of villains. She gets a bad case of Heroic BSoD afterward.
  • My Sibling Will Live Through Me: Played with, in that Turing Test has parts taken from her dead twin brother, Unit 003S.
  • The Needless: Turing Test does not need sleep, food, or air. She does need to recharge her battery every so often, though.
  • New Technology is Evil: How many, Celestia in particular, feel about the idea of robots.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever the main cast (minus Fluttershy) did in Appleoosa, whatever epic adventures they had or Pinkie imagined they had, you will never find out about them. No really. Never.
  • No Sense of Humor: An entire arc deals with this deficiency and asking Pinkie Pie for help. But oddly enough, she finally discovers it thanks not to Pinkie Pie, but Maud Pie.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Cobbler Mustang is largely motivated by his grief upon losing his daughter, Georgia Peach.
  • Pinocchio Syndrome: As Turing becomes more aware of her problems relating to organic ponies, she begins to wish she was more like them.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Gadget is shockingly strong despite her small size, due to a. being an earth pony, and b. having to lug around heavy machinery on her back for years.
  • Punny Name: A lot, especially with regard to characters both on- and off-screen who are based on historical figures, particularly from The Gilded Age and the Second Industrial Revolution, though a few more modern scientists are mentioned as well.
    • Cornelius Vanderbull is a minotaur (based on Railroad Baron Cornelius Vanderbilt).
    • Gadget's real name is Gadgette.
    • Rockefoaler (named for John D. Rockefeller).
    • Carneighgie (Andrew Carnegie, whose name, when pronounced correctly actually sounds the same).
    • Talon Turing, Turing Test's namesake, is a Griffon (and of course named for computer scientist Alan Turing).
    • Searlebiscuit is a philosopher mentioned who doubts the possibility of artificial intelligence (named for John Searle, his real-life counterpart, and Seabiscuit, the famous racing horse).
    • Twilight references a sci-fi book written by Isaac Assiteague (Asimov, obviously, along with a particular breed of pony).
  • Railroad Baron: Vanderbull may be a minotaur, but he's also the owner and president of the largest railroad company in Equestria.
  • Reference Overdosed: Very much the case, as the author has a penchant for referential humor, and as the story is something of a love letter to sci-fi movies and stories about robots in general. YMMV on if this is funny or not. Some of the many references:
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: When Turing Test is first activated, she sees the other characters with weapons and immediately goes into her "self-defense mode," ready to fight if necessary. This mode makes her eyes glow red. Paradoxically, this is precisely what almost makes the others attack.
  • Revenge: The real reason Cobbler Mustang wants to start his revolution: He wants to get back at Celestia, blaming her for the death of his daughter.
  • Ridiculously Equine Robot:
    • Subverted at first, as Turing is not very much like her organic counterparts.
    • Later played straight, as she imitates mannerisms and begins to develop more of a personality.
  • Robo Family: Turing wishes for the other robots in her "series" to be her family members and refers them as such.
  • Robosexual: Turing becomes interested in having a romantic relationship. Due to her awkwardness at attracting a mate, at least at first, Hilarity Ensues.
    • She later does find a receptive partner in Maud Pie.
  • Robo Speak:
    • Played straight: Turing Test uses this a lot, especially when she's first activated. She prefers "affirmative" to "yes," and "acknowledged" to "okay."
    • Parodied: When Turing Test dresses up for Nightmare Night, she dresses as a robot. She adopts overly stiff speech and uses excessive Robo Speak, even for her in an effort to make fun of perceptions of her.
  • Robot Names: All the robots are named "Unit 00" followed by a number, as in Turing Test, aka Unit 003.
  • Robots Think Faster: Twilight tests Turing's abilities and finds this out.
  • Robots Are Just Better: In addition to her mental abilities, Turing Test's physical abilities outclass just about every normal pony in Equestria.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Lyra and Bon Bon (pretty strongly).
    • Doctor Whooves and Derpy (subtly).
    • Turing Test and Maud Pie.
    • Gadget and Turing Test in the non-canon joke chapter.
    • Grace and Glory.
  • The Smart Guy:
    • Twilight is this for her group of friends, but there is no shortage of smart ponies around.
    • Gadget is an expert in technology whose skills outstrip everypony else around her, even her mentor.
    • Despite thinking faster, Turing Test is not this due to her rigid mentality and lack of imagination or experience.
  • The Spock: Logic and her directives are everything to a robot. Turing Test is no exception.
  • Thinking Tic: Turing Test is known to twitch her ears or tilt her head to the side. She later learns to imitate others and tap or rub her chin.
  • Three Laws-Compliant:
  • Tin Man: Some of Turing Test's reactions belie her emerging emotions despite her outward statements to the contrary.
  • Unable to Cry: Turing Test thinks the point of one of Pinkie Pie's knock-knock jokes is to make fun of this disability.
  • Uncanny Valley: Referenced by name in one chapter. Doesn't apply too strongly to the narrative, though, as Turing Test is pretty obviously a robot and not terribly realistic.
  • The Un-Favorite: Unit 002 has more than a little resentment about being relegated to menial tasks after all her work boiled down to building a better robot - Turing Test. Leads to a one-sided Sibling Rivalry.
  • Verbal Tic: Turing does not use contractions ordinarily.
  • We Can Rule Together: Both Blue Blazer and Cobbler Mustang make an offer to Gadget and Twilight to join them. They say no, but in a twist, they both actually consider it before turning it down.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Celestia's stance on technology and Turing Test in particular may seem harsh, but her reasons are unselfish and she genuinely wants to do what is right for Equestria.
    • The ponies of Techquestria.