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Franchise / RoboCop

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Part man. Part machine. All cop.

Serve the public trust
Protect the innocent
Uphold the law

RoboCop is a Cyberpunk film, TV, comic and video game franchise. Set in an eerily-prescient version of Detroit, the over-burdened and under-staffed police force is privatized and given to Omni Consumer Products (OCP), who effectively own the city. OCP builds a Cyborg from the remains of Officer Alex Murphy, a hero cop who was murdered in the line of duty. Armed with bulletproof armor, an impossibly-steady hand, and a computerized brain, RoboCop is touted as "the future of law enforcement" and dispatched to the warzone of "Old Detroit". But he is ultimately a tool for public-relations, and the soul of Murphy remains restless.

It all got its start with the film RoboCop (1987), directed by Paul Verhoeven. What was originally thought to be a B-Movie flick became a smash hit as a gritty, ultra-violent, darkly humorous film which featured a great deal of social commentary and political satire on such subjects as capitalism, privatization, the environment, and public apathy. It also has a rich undertone similar to the Golem of Jewish folklore, an ensouled artificial creation who is a mere shadow of a man. The film worked as pure summer entertainment as well, with taut action sequences, impressive production design, and memorable characters. Its smash success spawned a series of sequels and spin-offs while providing a huge shot in the arm for the Super Hero film genre that the Box Office Bomb of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace almost sunk in the same year.

The first sequel, RoboCop 2 (1990), was even more violent and edgier than the first, going so far as to include a child as one of the primary villains. Relying too heavily on raw violence and shock value while having less of the satirical humor that defined its predecessor, the sequel was not as popular as the original film. Frank Miller wrote the original screenplay; although the script was heavily altered to fit a movie format, his influence in the themes of the film can be identified, including scenes in which a focus group attempts to make RoboCop more family-friendly (rendering him unable to do his job). Avatar Press later turned his original vision of the film into a comic book series, Frank Miller's RoboCop.

RoboCop 3 (1993) substituted the adult violence for something more tame, since the film was rated PG-13. Too mild in the action and edging into kiddie-film territory, this film bombed both financially and critically.

Despite the very adult material, the character of RoboCop has the general makings of a classic Superhero Origin story, and as such, the character has appeared in at least four different incarnations on TV. In all of them, to one degree or another, the ultraviolence and corporate/political satire is stripped away in favor of superheroics and corny humor:

  • RoboCop: The Animated Series: Animated Adaptation, 1988. Produced by Marvel Comics' Marvel Productions division for the syndicated Marvel Action Universe block (notable for the fact that the funding for the 13th episode was used instead to make Pryde of the X-Men). Very much like the above. Also introduced a toyetic group of sidekicks called the Ultra Police. At least some of the stories were good.
  • RoboCop: The Series: Live action, 1994. Gave Robo a holographic woman partner, a kid sidekick, and a variety of gadgets. On the other hand, it was occasionally hysterical. "I can't believe it! He's a Milken Scholar!"
  • RoboCop: Alpha Commando: Animated, 1998. Which was less than well received. Filled the world with smartass AIs.
  • RoboCop: Prime Directives: Live-Action, Miniseries, 2000. Focused more on the franchise's dark and satirical elements as opposed to the more family friendly 1994 series. Received an ambivalent response.

A Continuity Reboot has been released in 2014, directed by José Padilha of The Elite Squad fame.

RoboCop (2014) carries the same basic premise, with Joel Kinnaman as Officer Alex Murphy, brutally crippled by a car bomb. Omni-Corp secures permission from his wife to transform him into RoboCop, a new marketing tool to help Americans feel more comfortable with the military robots being used overseas. Omni-Corp feels confident that they have Murphy under their control, but he has other plans. Supporting roles are played by Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, and Jackie Earle Haley. A mock website for the company was created for OmniCorp.

Comic Books include:

Literature include:

  • RoboCop (1986) - Novelization of RoboCop (1987) by Ed Naha that was based on early draft of the script thus has several differences to the final film.
  • RoboCop 2 (1990) - Novelization of RoboCop 2 by Ed Naha.

Pinball machines include:

Tabletop Games include:

  • RoboCop VCR Game (1988)
  • RoboCop: Ultra Police (1989)- Board Game tie-in to the toyline.

There was also a series of video games produced for home consoles and the arcade, mostly adhering to what is now referred to as the "run and gun" format. note 

RoboCop also appeared in MOBA Legends as a guest character in 2016, 2019 as part of Kentucky Fried Chicken's "Colonel Sanders" ads and in 2020 as a Guest Fighter in Mortal Kombat 11, with Peter Weller reprising the role in the latter two for the first time since RoboCop 2.

A four part docu-series titled RoboDoc: The Creation of Robocop premiered in 2023, which details the making of the original film and its legacy.

While the origin story of a murdered cop resurrected as a cyborg dates back to 8 Man (1963), RoboCop's design was loosely based on the Toku Metal Heroes series (Space Sheriff Gavan) which Verhoven apparently enjoyed watching on his hotel room TV while in Japan. The reference came full circle in 1989, when Toei released Kidou Keiji Jiban, also a cyborg police officer who operated under a set of directives.

"Place the tropes in the list, or there will be... Trouble."

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    Tropes A-I 
  • Adaptation Amalgamation: Screenwriter Edward Neumeier had written a screenplay about a robot that becomes a cop. When he met fellow writer Michael Miner it turned out that Miner was working on a screenplay about a human cop becoming a robot. They decided to combine the ideas and RoboCop (1987) was the result.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Murphy's wife and son, Ellen and Jimmy, are renamed in a few other adaptations.
    • The Series sees Jimmy keep his name, but Ellen's renamed Nancy.
    • In Alpha Commando, Ellen is renamed Susan and Jimmy Richie.
    • The 2014 Film sees them renamed Clara and David respectively.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • ED-209; they're not evil, but you have to use Exact Words or you'll suffer.
    • Averted with RoboCop himself; he doesn't rebel against OCP because he's a cyborg, but because he regains his human memories and they are corrupt.
  • Alternate Continuity: The television series' split into two (or three, depending on your view) continuities after the second film. The 1994 series and Prime Directives both ignore the events of the third film in favor of keeping OCP and the threat of bulldozing Old Detroit, although it's still unclear if the two series are meant to be tied into the same continuity (considering that one was a syndicated children's show and the other a violent homage to the original).
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted and also played straight throughout all three films.
    • In the first movie, in the moments leading up to his slaughter, Boddicker takes off Murphy's helmet, but let him keep his vest. The standard issue police body armor keeps him alive long enough for the paramedics to arrive and attempt to save his life. If it wasn't for his vest, Alex wouldn't have had much of a fighting chance after being shot repeatedly at close range from sustained shotgun fire. However, the vest doesn't protect him from Boddicker putting a coup de grace in his head.
    • RoboCop's titanium/kevlar armor is more than adequate for protection against small arms fire and explosions, but once the armor is dented by the ED-209 heavy weapons he is slightly more vulnerable when the police are turned on him... and it's an entire crowd of cops with automatic weapons and shotguns, as well.
    • In the second movie RoboCop is fired at with varying degrees of man portable weaponry including a rocket launcher or two and he still keeps on going. However a .50 caliber M2 is enough to take his hand off and a jackhammer is sufficient to disassemble him (eventually). In the third film, a single round from a grenade launcher is enough to disable him.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Do not get shot in the inner thigh. Your femoral artery is there and it's kind of important. You bleed, a lot, very fast. You will get dizzy almost immediately and pass out soon after. There won't be enough time for Evil Gloating. Cocaine would only hasten the process.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Robocop's Titanium/Kevlar armor would, in reality, be very poor protection. Titanium is prized for its weight-to-strength ratio, but is still significantly softer and less durable than steel. Furthermore, Kevlar is a fabric that works by creating a strong, tear-resistant mesh that "catches" bullets and slows them down without letting them penetrate the fabric. It is ineffective against high-velocity projectiles such as explosive shrapnel, rifle ammunition, and explosives. These materials were likely used simply because they sounded very futuristic and cool by 80s standards. note 
  • Artistic License – Law Enforcement: In Real Life, police officers (at least in modern democracies without high levels of police corruption) have to adhere to "use of force continuum" guidelines on the amount of force they are allowed to use when confronting suspects - they can’t just shoot someone who decides to be uncooperative during an arrest for example. Naturally if a suspect is shooting at an officer they are allowed to shoot back until the suspect surrenders or is killed/incapacitated. However this falls down where Robocop is concerned as he’s essentially immune to anything less than military grade weaponry - police can’t use lethal force against attacks that don’t have any danger of serious bodily injury or death. Robocop shooting armed attackers (with normal small arms) is the equivalent of normal police shooting someone throwing snowballs at them - Robocop should simply be walking up to the suspect, disarming them then arresting them.
  • A-Team Firing
    • All those assault cannons in the first movie's climax, and RoboCop doesn't take a single hit. In general, Robo takes a lot of hits to the chest and none to that few inches of face, though there's at least one scene where he shields his face with an arm.
      • One of the street punks in one of the movies lampshades this, shouting "Shoot him in the mouth!" It likely wouldn't matter... Murphy's face is implied to be just a layer of flesh stuck atop his new metal cranium, getting shot there would probably only hurt his marketability. Though it's never made clear if the flesh is actually from his original body, or a skin graft made to resemble it. It's worth noting that future attempts at making RoboCops seen in RoboCop 2 imply that they do use some parts of the actual body. Even the first film indicates that Murphy's body is at least partially reused in the cyborg body since they at one point discuss the fact that he still has his human left arm up until Bob Morton tells them to amputate it. If that's accurate, then the actual face may actually be Murphy's actual flesh and the front of his original skull. In addition, RoboCop actually does need to eat in the film, though the changes in his body mean he's effectively stuck using baby food or at least a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for it, and they claim it sustains his organics.
    • Averted throughout the movie by other enemies, though. The confrontation with ED-209 and the subsequent arrival of the SWAT teams and police see RoboCop barely survive after being targeted mercilessly with assault cannons, machine guns, shotguns and a couple of rockets.
    • Murphy himself displayed this when he attempted to fire Guns Akimbo during a car chase. At a distance of less than 20 feet, he rarely even managed to hit the van, and only one of the passengers. May count as Improbable Aiming Skills, however, since he was leaning unsupported out of the window of a speeding car and shooting at a speeding van. Could lay the foundations for Robo's expert marksmanship if Murphy already had some skills as a human.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: ED-209. It's a big, intimidating automated walking tank loaded with massive guns and rocket launchers, intended for use in urban pacification and with potential military applications. Its initial test is a disaster, as it is unable to recognise that its target has surrendered, leading to the death of an OCP executive. Also, it's utterly useless on stairs, falling over when attempting to chase RoboCop. The second and third films show its further flaws, with it getting stuck in a open manhole in RoboCop 2 and being hilariously easy to reprogram (by a child, no less) in RoboCop 3. Dick Jones notes that it didn't have to work, as OCP would make a fortune in repairs and spare parts for years to come.
    • The 6000 SUX: reclining leather seats, cruise control, a Blaupunkt radio and, yes, it goes really fast with really shitty gas mileage (of 8.2 miles to the gallon no less). It's a dig at the Pontiac 6000 and in-universe it's a car that a rich executive would buy to show off how rich he is .
  • Bigger on the Inside: RoboCop's unhelmeted head is too big to fit inside the helmet, and he can't actually sit inside the Ford Taurus police cars unless the actors didn't wear the legs of the suit.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Nobody in these movies ever seems to reload their guns, even RoboCop and his machine pistol.note 
  • Brick Joke: One character comments that the "organic paste" that feeds Robocop's organics tastes like baby food. When Murphy and Lewis go into hiding, she says she got him some food. Bottles of actual baby food.
  • Buddy Cop Show: Not a show, precisely, but the Murphy & Lewis dynamic held through all three movies. And unlike most Buddy Cop Show situations, they were good buddies from the start, rather than rubbing each other the wrong way.
  • Came Back Strong: Alex Murphy is killed in action and later reconstructed as an implacable crime-fighting machine.
  • Can't Use Stairs: Famously, ED-209, ostensibly built for urban law enforcement, was designed without the ability to navigate a simple staircase. Justified in-story, as it was a poorly-conceived design in several ways, which is why the project was abandoned in favor of the titular character.
  • Capitalism Is Bad: RoboCop (1987) and its remake share this theme, featuring typical Cyberpunk MegaCorp organizations that are very unscrupulous about how they employ their power.
  • Character Tics: Murphy had several that carried over into his cyborg persona. For example, he learned how to spin his pistol to impersonate T.J. Lazer, the hero of his son's favourite show. Upon remembering his human life his deadpan sense of humor returns.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Several characters, notably Dr. Tyler, who was involved in his "rebirth", did not appear in the sequels.
  • The Commandments: RoboCop's four directives. These act as a Restraining Bolt that should, in theory, prevent him from going rogue. The four directives are "Serve the public trust", "Protect the innocent", "Uphold the law", and "Do not oppose an OCP officer.
  • Continuity Nod: The Amazon conflict appears to have kept going since the first film to the third film, with Cain having been a soldier in that war before being court-martialed and the Rehabs from the third film were made up veterans of the war.
  • Continuity Snarl: In the first movie, Sgt. Reed's first name was given by Johnson as "John", but in the second movie, during his reprogramming by Faxx, Murphy calls him "Warren". — unlike some of Murphy's other actions before he rids himself of to Faxx's tampering, it can't be chalked up to that, either, as the comic adaptation of an early script of RoboCop 3, RoboCop: Last Stand does confirm that "Warren" was intended to be Reed's name as he was addressed there as "Sgt. Warren Reed" with the now-retired Reed's only rebuttal being he was no longer a cop, so Frank Miller, who co-wrote both 2 and 3, just couldn't be bothered to remember that Reed's first name was already stated.
  • Corporate-Sponsored Superhero:
    • Commander Cash, from the TV show.
    • Robo himself has a few OCP logos on him, along with an OCP-001 serial number. Plus, whenever he gets smashed up it's OCP's money that pays for the rebuild (or not).
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Practically every member of OCP, but notably Johnson (who appears in all three films). In the first film, he's an ambiguous (but generally moral) employee who advises Bob Morton and gives Murphy a "thumbs-up" sign at the end. In the second he's head of the RoboCop project and still a generally decent guy, but is willing to throw the far more amoral Dr. Faxx under the bus and participate in forging evidence to do just that. By the third, he's transformed into an unlikable douchebag who threatens to cut Sergeant Reed's pension if he doesn't comply with OCP's order to gentrify the Cadillac Heights district. He also survives the film and doesn't lose his job (unlike the CEO, who's fired at the end).
    Johnson: Of course, there won't be any trouble from the dead ones.
    The Old Man: They'll have relatives. They always do.
    • Possibly subverted in the third movie. It's implied that Kanemitsu is being lied to about what's really going on in Detroit by both the remnants of OCP and The head of Rehabs. He bows his head to RoboCop at the end of the film.
  • Crapsack World
    • Detroit. Full of crime and Corrupt Corporate Executives. It got worse when the cops went on strike in the first film, and by the time of the third film it's even worse, with people in danger of having wrecking balls tear through their house while they're still living there.
    • And it's not just limited to Detroit, either. In the first film, an orbiting defense satellite misfires and causes thousands of acres of forest to burn in California, killing several when it also sweeps through some homes, as well as two former US Presidents who retired to that area. In the second film, the ED-209 bots are deployed in five major cities despite its continuing malfunctions; and a nuclear power plant in the Amazon goes critical, irradiating the entire rainforest. Additionally, there's an ongoing war in the Amazon, too, with Cain and the Rehabs being vets of it.
    • Also from the second film, it seems that skin cancer due to the lack of ozone layer is a pretty common problem. The chemicals you can buy to protect you from that, are also highly carcinogenic!
    • It's also perfectly legal to purchase the MagnaVolt - when a car thief breaks into your car, the moment he sits down, shackles spring up around his arms and legs, turning the seat into an electric chair.
    • In the reboot RoboCop film, the world is a little better than the original but is still bad. Certain fishes are in danger of extinction due to overfishing by sushi restaurants, Brazil has legalized all types of drugs, Greenpeace is now a terrorist group and Tehran is now under occupation by a US droid army who are so effective in fighting that most citizens choose to accept it out of fear. Meanwhile, crime in Detroit has gotten so bad that the city set up Sinister Surveillance everywhere and yet this still doesn't stop criminals for committing crimes in front of a camera. Also, gangs now have access to military hardware like assault rifles and grenades.
    • The world in The Series is leagues above the world seen in the original film trilogy, but it isn't a picnic, either, with a war in the Amazon going on, sections of Beverly Hills and Brooklyn have been walled off, and it's perfectly legal to market plushies that double as hand grenades and steroids to children, speaking English in France can land you in jail, the Italian government has fallen, and the mayor and DA are corrupt and in league with other criminals (with the latter having a fake law degree and helped to frame someone for said phony degree).
  • Create Your Own Hero: Clarence Boddicker and Antonie Vallon really should've left their respective versions of Alex Murphy alone if they didn't want a cyborg wrecking their shit.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Jesus H Christ Emil. He crashes into a tank full of Hollywood Acid, which horribly disfigures him, with his flesh melting off his bones in some places. It almost comes across as a Mercy Kill when Boddicker runs him over a few minutes later.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Being mostly immortal and mostly invulnerable comes with a heavy price.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Averted. At first OCP believes Murphy no longer retains any traces of his humanity, but it turns out he does as he regains his memories of his old self.
    • The Reboot continues to avert this: in his first simulation, Murphy is noticeably slower than an EM-208, because unlike the EM-208 that fearlessly moves through the killhouse and headshots the perps decisively, Murphy clears his corners like a cop, and tries to talk them down. Dr. Norton has to do a fair bit of work to get the soul-eating done, culminating with artificially lowering Murphy's dopamine levels from 26% (normal) to 2%. Murphy later gets better.
  • David Versus Goliath:
    • RoboCop vs. ED-209 in the first film, a taller and more heavily armed robotic walker. Murphy manages to disable it by fleeing down some stairs. He also takes out a second unit using a Cobra Assault Cannon.
    • The climax of the second film has an Upgrade Versus Prototype Fight with Murphy against RoboCain, where the latter is much larger, can take more punishment, and is fitted with much bigger guns.
  • Deadpan Snarker: RoboCop to some extent, notably when he is usually damaged in some way or has done some damage.
  • Development Hell: Delta City is a notable in universe example. During the first film, construction is supposed to begin in six months, but the second film is noted to take place a year later and there's still no sign of it. Part of the Old Man's Evil Plan is for the city to renege on its debts so OCP can foreclose and replace Detroit with Delta City. Even by the third film, OCP is still only in the process of clearing out residents so they can demolish their homes to make way for construction. However, in both the TV series and the Prime Directives mini series, Delta City is eventually completed.
  • Dirt Forcefield: Robo's always squeaky clean until the third act, wherein he gets heavily damaged.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: ED-209 is made of this trope. In the first, he's seen threatening to machine gun RoboCop for parking illegally on private property.
  • Dystopia: Detroit's crumbling hellscapes and glittering skyscrapers represented everything that was wrong with America in The '80s.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Rip Torn's character in the third movie is only referred to as "the CEO" (though while it doesn't state his first name, in a case of All There in the Manual, Dark Horse Comics's adaptation does state he's Bob Morton's dad) and David Gardner's character in The Series is referred to only as "The OCP Chairman".
  • Expanded States of America: One of the MediaBreak segments in an episode of The Series mentions a debate about Newfoundland becoming about the 53rd state. Ironically, despite being a staple in other uses of this trope, Puerto Rico isn't one of them, as another episode has a MediaBreak segment state the government sold it off to a company because they didn't have plans for it.
  • Failed Future Forecast: The news broadcasts imply the Cold War is still ongoing and South Africa is still an apartheid state.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The construction of Delta City keeps getting pushed further and further back with each instalment. They finally try to start construction during RoboCop 3, but the citizens start fighting back.
  • Firing One-Handed: All over the place, although it's justified for RoboCop since he's much stronger than a normal human and has an auto-targeting system.
  • Flanderization: The Old Man of OCP is, in the first film, something of an occasionally eccentric CEO of the company who reacts to the butchering of one of his employees with an "I'm very disappointed," but is otherwise presented as, if not benevolent, then decent enough individual who wants to make Detroit better and plans to do so by not only redeveloping Old Detroit into Delta City, but also funding public services and the like. He's not good, but he's certainly not evil. The next films have him as an outright Corrupt Corporate Executive who is complicit in the butchering of several police officers for the RoboCop 2 project, and who throws one of his employees to the wolves when it doesn't work out, and he only gets worse from there.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Alex Murphy is portrayed as a Nice Guy. Since that murderous robot blowing away criminals is still him...
  • Great Offscreen War: Both the second and third movies, as well as The Series and Frank Miller's original script for the second movie, have mentions of a war in the Amazon:
    • The second movie sees Faxx looking up files on Cain with a mention of Cain serving in the war and the third has the Rehabs composed of vets of it and Lewis reading a copy of USA Today with a headline about the war escalating in the scene with the failed donut shop robbery. Miller's original script for 2 had the idea of the Rehabs having served in a war in the Amazon, with Reed also have served in said war and recognizing the Rehabs as mercs (and dreading them, especially Kong, the character that'd be split off into Cain and McDaggett).
    • It's even mentioned in The Series, as the episode "Ghosts of War" revolves around a special ops group was that declared dead suffering from psychological issues and included a childhood friend of Murphy's, and it's still an ongoing conflict.
  • Groin Attack: When a would-be rapist uses his intended victim as a human shield, RoboCop aims and fires through the woman's skirt; she is unhurt, but the shot hits the perp squarely in the groin.
  • Gun Twirling: Murphy is seen practicing spinning his service pistol a few times in the first movie, a move he learned to impress his son (who saw it on a TV show). As RoboCop, it becomes his signature.
  • The Gunslinger: Averted in that the human Murphy was a notably crappy shot in the first movie. About the only remotely gunslinger-like move he could pull off was the trigger-guard gun spin, and that only because he forced himself to learn it to impress his son. Robo's Improbable Aiming Skills are strictly programming (well, all except the spin).
  • Hand Cannon: Robo, natch, as well as many of the bad guys. Murphy's gun is a Beretta 93R fully automatic pistol, modified to look even bigger and spit foot-long flames with every three-round burst. The real Beretta 93R cannot fire in full-automatic; only single and three-round burst. According to the TV Series, it packs armor-piercing ammo, which is shown to be capable of firing through a wall, several pipes, and the metal sides of a hot tub, and still have killing power.
  • Heroic BSoD: RoboCop has an extended one in the original film, beginning when Boddicker's henchman Emil tells him, "We killed you!!" This continues through the sequence where he returns to his abandoned home and rediscovers his identity as Murphy, not ending until he begins his Roaring Rampage of Revenge at the drug factory.
    • In the 2014 remake, it happens to him during Omnicorp's uploading of the police database into his memory and comes across his own case file.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Dick Jones chews out Boddicker for confessing to RoboCop as his computer-enhanced memory is admissible as court evidence. He makes the same mistake gloating about killing Bob Morton, which later leads to his downfall...
  • Homegrown Hero: Both in-universe and in real life. The movies depict RoboCop as something of a hero to children in the movies, especially from 3 up, and in the live action and animated TV shows. In real life, a statue of RoboCop was proposed for Detroit, and 25,000 offered up to make it happen. Detroit has no problem with claiming Murphy as one of their own in the same way that Philadelphia has embraced Rocky Balboa or New York has claimed Spider-Man, since there are so few fictional characters from Detroit. As such, Detroit natives are likely to have a certain justifiable pride at knowing one of the most well loved cyborgs of all time is their representative into the world of pop culture, even if his real life creator may not have been from there.
  • Incompetence, Inc.: Omni Consumer Products, a callous megacorp that seeks to take over public services, makes continually inferior products and shrugs off deadly accidents caused by them as "glitches."
  • Instant Death Bullet: Averted viciously throughout the film. Murphy's shot dozens of times when he's killed by Boddicker and his gang. Dick Jones is shot 18 times, but it's the fall when he's blown through the window that kills him.
  • Irony
    • In the first film, a TV news program mentions that a misfire of the "Strategic Defense Peace Platform" ignited a massive fire in the Santa Barbara area that killed over a hundred people, including two former US Presidents. Guess where the main presidential proponent of SDI owned a ranch in real life?
    • RoboCop, a classic rumination on Capitalism is Evil, has its title character featured in a Korean advert for a chicken-frying machine. Also, the general idea behind RoboCop and the sheer amount of merchandise behind the character, to the point it becomes bizarre, as mentioned in the Misaimed Fandom section.

    Tropes J-R 
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Kevlar/Titanium laminated armour, to be precise. With nifty purple-on-blue highlights.
  • Law Enforcement, Inc.: The Detroit police force has been privatized, which is why OCP wields such an incredible degree of control over them.
  • Licensed Game: Many, including a Crossover: RoboCop Versus The Terminator (loosely based on the comic). The original Data East arcade game is considered to be an exception to The Problem with Licensed Games.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Murphy does this a few times, including before the climactic fight with Boddicker's gang in the first film.
  • Ludd Was Right: Averted considering that while there is some momentary concern he was going to replace them, RoboCop is soon accepted as simply a tougher comrade who can be invaluable against really dangerous stuff.
  • Mighty Glacier: RoboCop is slow, but can take most of the things thrown at his way.
  • Miranda Rights: When arresting Clarence, Murphy informs him that he has the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and that anything he says may be used against him.
    • In the sequel he reads Miranda to a corpse.
  • More Dakka
    • The ED-209 series in general. Autocannon and anti-tank rockets on a police robot: seemingly excessive, until we get to know this future Detroit. note 
    • In RoboCop 2, Robo's Auto-9 relative to the standard-issue DPD service pistols.
  • Nerd Glasses: Many of OCP's staff, as well as the gas station attendant RoboCop saves from a criminal in the first film.
  • Nice Day, Deadly Night: The world of RoboCop is pretty horrible at any time of day, but night is when the roving street gangs are at their most active.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: RoboCop is always on the receiving end of these, putting him out of commission for awhile in every movie.
  • Obstructive Code of Conduct: The first three play it straight, the others are more of a Restraining Bolt. The first film's initially unknown fourth directive is a plot point.
  • One-Man Army: Being impervious to small arms fire and wielding some incredible firepower of his own, RoboCop can just walk into a drug den and gun everyone down without breaking stride.
  • One of Our Own: What the police eventually come to see Murphy as by RoboCop 2. Sgt. Reed practically says it word for word when he's brought in after he's more or less ripped apart by Cain and his gang.
    Sgt. Reed: "He's one'a mine. I want him back on his feet.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Daniel O'Herlihy's character in the first two movies is only known as "the Old Man". Likewise, Tedde Moore's character in Prime Directivesis referred to only as "The Old Woman".
  • Orphaned Punchline: "I'd buy that for a dollar!" We only hear it in isolation, but the characters are familiar with the show: to them it's hilarious.
  • Outside-Context Problem: After Murphy is rebuilt into a cyborg, he spends most of the first film relentlessly haunting and taking down criminals in Old Detroit. Robo Cop is so beyond anything they have ever experience that they're completely helpless before him and he takes down the drug lords who murdered him without taking any damage. A newscaster in the movie compared it to a comic book hero coming to life. It takes the criminals gaining access to military weapons and help from the big number two at OCP just to slow Robo Cop down. He's still somewhat this in the latter films since the common thug, gang banger, drug trafficker, rapist, or murderer can't harm him, although smart criminals like Cain from RoboCop 2 and the hired mercenaries led by Mc Daggett in RoboCop 3 can take him down. However, that is only if they're expecting him. If they're not, Robo Cop completely curb stomps them.
  • Privately Owned Society: Everything from the police and hospitals to space exploration has been privatized, most of it being run by a MegaCorp.
  • Propaganda Hero:
  • Protagonist Title: RoboCop is named after the main character of every film.
  • The Real Heroes: Implies with the cops depicted as brave working stiffs who have to manage a future urban war zone. As for the title character, Alex Murphy always regards himself as one of them and his comrades come to accept him as simply a tougher comrade who can safely take on the really dangerous stuff and draw their fire as his fellows maneuver for position.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Old Man in the first movie, the only OCP bigwig with any sort of moral standard, especially if compared to young upstarts. In the sequels, he inexplicably becomes a typical corporate douchebag.
  • Resurrected for a Job: After being for all intents and purposes murdered, officer Alex Murphy is resurrected by OCP as "the future of law enforcement," RoboCop!
  • Robo Cam: Numerous scenes are shown from RoboCop's POV, complete with scanlines, subtle pixelation, HUD messages and when Robo is hurt, interference. The HUD is justified, since RoboCop is technically still human and would need some information displayed to help him make decisions.

    Tropes S-Z 
  • Shooting Superman: RoboCop gets this a lot. The bad guys eventually wise up in the first film and take him on with anti-tank rifles, but that doesn't stop every other dumb crook in the franchise from unloading their tiny pistols at him.
  • Show Within a Show:
    • It's Not My Problem, the source of the Catchphrase "I'd Buy That For a Dollar"
    • Media Break note 
    • T.J. Lazer, inspired by the real show T.J. Hooker, and the source of Murphy's Gun Twirl.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Many setting details are correct despite the films being shot elsewhere. The first was filmed in Dallas, the second was filmed in Houston, and the third was filmed in Atlanta.
      • The DPD precinct system — it is organized by geography not the usual precinct numbers.
      • The local hospitals. There really is a Henry Ford Hospital that's a Level 1 trauma center.
      • The neighborhoods: "Cadillac Heights" from the third movie is apparently somewhere in the old Black Bottom, across Woodward from the university district and just south of Hamtramck.
    • The trauma team that works on Murphy as he dies is a real trauma team, and their dialog was mostly ad-libbed. In the commentary, the writers say they wished they could have come up with a line like "Let's shock a flat line and quit."
  • Superhero: RoboCop is a superhero in all but name. He can get up moments after a fifteen-story fall when his organics should be shmooshed.
  • Superhero Origin: Alex Murphy was a dedicated police officer until he was gunned down by Clarence Boddicker's gang. Declared legally dead he was placed into the RoboCop program to become the superhero he is today.
  • Super Cop: Chances are, if you mention the phrase to anyone, and they know of RoboCop, he's the first thing that they'll think of. In fact, RoboCop is called exactly that in the first film, when he first shows off his computer-enhanced aiming skills at the firing range.
  • Super Prototype: As a cyborg police officer, Murphy is the first attempt and the only success. This is because Murphy has just the right mindset to accept (or at least tolerate) his condition.
  • Super-Toughness: RoboCop is made of titanium/kevlar and so he can shrug off small arms fire, great falls, and explosions.
  • There Are No Good Executives: The president is the only modestly honest one at OCP and even he goes bad in the second film.
  • This Is What the Building Will Look Like: The model for the Delta City, which appears in all three original films.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Let’s go all the way and call out essentially anybody who genuinely believes they can defeat a heavily armoured 100% accurate police cyborg without strength of numbers and/or heavy weaponry.
    • The second movie hinges on OCP trying to build a successor to Murphy, but these "RoboFlops" do not have Murphy's Determinator attitude and so cannot keep their sanity intact after being cut up and augmented with cybernetics. The scientist in charge offers an... interesting solution: use death row inmates, because the power and immortality would appeal to them. Naturally, it ends really badly.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: A good chunk of which they got right at least as far as the setting was concerned:
    • Bankrupt industries.
    • The criminally corrupt city government and the flat broke police department.
    • The rampant Detroit crime rate, though thankfully not the street scenes out of Hieronymus Bosch.
    • Cars with reclining leather seats, that go really fast and get really shitty gas mileage
    • The rise of CD's as the norm of visual media, as shown in Bob Morton's death scene in the first movie.
    • The PDA/GPS that Jones and Boddicker use to track RoboCop's movements through the city. It even looks like a Palm V-series.
    • Rampagingly sensationalistic "news entertainment".
    • OCP's privatization in "hospitals, prisons, space exploration".
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: One of the greatest of debates, RoboCop Versus The Terminator — who will win? An excellent graphic novel and a video game. RoboCop wins, but only because of a bizarre, but logical, time travel plot involving no less than three timeline alterations. DEATH BATTLE! does a more logical, in-depth analysis and pits Murphy against the T-850 on more or less equal terms. The verdict: Murphy STILL wins.
  • Unorthodox Holstering: Murphy's cool spinning trick, which he later refines as RoboCop (he can store his pistol in his leg armor).
  • Unusual User Interface: RoboCop's computer input jack that's built into his glove. Also see Robo Cam.
  • Urban Hellscape: This is one of the most famous examples of the trope. In its world, the MegaCorp OCP completely controls Detroit, and the city itself has fallen into a lawless mess where cops themselves are owned by OCP and die in the line of duty every single night. The gangs which run the city are barbaric, murderous sadists, and even more petty criminals run around the streets completely unopposed. The eponymous hero, RoboCop, is a nigh-unstoppable Cyborg that is created to fight these criminals and (since everything he sees and hears is recorded) has the authority to act with lethal force.
  • The Uriah Gambit: An odd variation in which the instigator had no real disagreement with the victim; Bob Morton just wanted a skilled, experienced police officer to turn into a cyborg... and for that officer to be dead so as to make use of loopholes in their contracts to permit the procedure. So he purposefully had top cops like Murphy and Lewis assigned to areas where he expected them to be killed within a 90 days... and got what he wanted within a week.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Murphy's return from There Is No Kill Like Overkill. Also in RoboCop 2 after Cain's gang is done with him.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: OCP regards RoboCop as a piece of equipment that they own. Typical is lawyer Holzgang's utter disregard for RoboCop's agony after he's been torn apart by Cain's gang. "Nah, it's just the back-up generator making him twitch."
  • Weaksauce Weakness: ED-209's is stairs, with far too broad legs to manage the narrow and steep steps without toppling over. The design of the ED-209 was a lot of show and little fine tuning for both versatility and AI programming.
    Dick Jones: I had a guaranteed military sale with ED-209! Renovation program. Spare parts for 25 years! Who cares if it worked or not?
  • Wretched Hive: Detroit. In fact, OCP has basically given up on it and is looking to tear it all down and start again with Delta City.
  • Zeerust:
    • The Ford Taurus cars used as police cars looked amazingly futuristic in 1987. Now, a lot less so.
    • The models and graphics that OCP uses to promote Delta City have a rather Zeerusty flavor as well, particularly the ad at the beginning of the third film.
    • The computer graphics in general are pretty terrible, especially the computers at the police station that have Loads and Loads of Loading. Even the resolution on Robo's HUD isn't very good. It's also a little jarring that everyone still uses CRT monitors in a movie set in the future.

    The animated television shows 

Tropes that apply to both series:

  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Both series present Murphy as less willing to use police brutality and practicing Thou Shall Not Kill.
  • Animated Adaptation: What else does one do with R-rated movies? Though in Alpha Commando's case, it was made after the PG-13 3 and The Series.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Both cartoons traded in conventional firearms for laser weapons, including Murphy himself in both series packing a laser version of the Auto-9, with additional laser weapons in Alpha Commando.

The Animated Series:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Both Murphy (prior to his death and rebirth) and Lewis were depicted as redheads.
  • Alternate Continuity: The show takes place in an alternate reality that has more advanced technology than what's shown in the movie and Clarence Boddicker is depicted as alive and well.
  • Ascended Extra: Dr. McNamara, an extremely minor character in the original film (the guy operating the control panel in the ED-209 scene), is promoted to primary antagonist in the series.
  • Call-Back: For a kids' show, there's an unexpected nod to Murphy's death, with a flashback to the very end of the scene, Boddicker's "Fun's over" and the final shot to Murphy's head, rendered in animation.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: One episode has an ED-260 unitnote  (you know, the giant robot with machineguns for hands) being placed on traffic control. It opens fire on a couple performing an illegal u-turn.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: Downplayed. Both the backstory in the opening and the episode featuring Robocop's nemesis Clarence Boddicker show Murphy being gunned down in the line of duty; the opening explicitly mentions him as being mortally wounded and the flashback in the episode is pretty much the same as what happened in the film but cuts out just as Boddicker and his lackeys start firing.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Robocop has a defeated Boddicker at gunpoint near the end of one episode and has to be talked down from pulling the trigger by Lewis.
    Lewis: No matter what he's done in the past, Murphy, don't let this man make you a murderer!
  • Jerkass Has a Point: In one episode, Lt. Hitchcock sets the record on the highest difficulty setting of a dangerous training course, which Robocop then quickly beats himself. Hitchcock scoffs that all cops should have armor-plating, and that's one of several times Lewis gets on him for being jealous that Robocop's more of a man than he is. While the rest of the episode leaves no doubt that Hitchcock's an ass, he does still make a point about how amped-up Robocop is and how his results don't really prove anything. That training course was made for human police officers, and regardless of his crappy attitude, Hitchcock did set the best time through his own abilities. Robocop's abilities, on the other hand, are all artificial; he beat Hitchcock's record not because of his own experience as a police officer, but because he's Nigh-Invulnerable and has Super-Strength, and he walked right through all the obstacles anybody else would've needed to avoid. Indeed, later in the episode Hitchcock is given a suit of Powered Armor and takes on Robocop on more even footing and almost destroys him. The tables only turn when thinking Lewis is dead sends Robocop on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Merchandise-Driven: The series was obviously intended to tie in with the RoboCop and the Ultra Police action figure line released that year. Said "Ultra Police" show up in one episode, and the bad guys of the toyline were recurring villains on the show.
  • Opening Narration: "He has become the ultimate supercop—RoboCop!"
  • Psycho Electric Eel: In one episode of the show, a Mad Scientist gave one of his creations electric eel powers.
  • Ship Tease: It is blatantly obvious that Lewis is in love with Robocop, and Robocop has shown that he cares about her and gets jealous when a prince starts to romance her.
  • Sick Episode: Robo gets a cold in "Project Deathspore", which for some reason causes him to give off sparks and malfunctions his targetting system.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Clarence Boddicker is depicted as still being alive in the show, even getting arrested at the end of his episode.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Dr. McNamara still keeps his job with OCP despite the debacle of ED-260's test run in the first episode, as well as the earlier debacle with its predecessor model ED-209 in the first film.

Alpha Commando:

  • Action Mom: Agent Miner was shown as both a law enforcement agent and a mother to Matt.
  • Adaptation Name Change: In addition to Murphy's family getting their first names changed, so does Reed as in one episode, he refers to himself as "Joe".
  • Adaptational Comic Relief: In addition to undergoing Adaptational Nice Guy, while Murphy has had some quips before, he's shown to be much more of a Deadpan Snarker or cracking jokes than other incarnation.
  • Adapted Out: OCP is nowhere to be seen in Alpha Commando.
  • An Asskicking Christmas: "Oh Tannenbaum, Whoa Tannenbaum" sees Murphy and Miner deal with robotic elf toys causing havoc at a store while Neumeier's psycho ex-girlfriend (and the dolls' creator) comes calling to kidnap him.
  • Baritone of Strength: Like the movies, Murphy has this going on, on account of being voiced by David Sobolov.
  • Berserk Button: Robocop has two.
    • Anytime he is called a robot, he replies in a clearly angry tone "I'm not a robot".
    • Kidnapping his wife and son.
  • Casting Gag: Alpha Commando had cast Blu Mankuma as Sgt. Reed, likely due to his playing Reed's equivalent in RoboCop: The Series, Stan Parks.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Murphy has been turned into one, being more fond of sarcasm, quipping, and puns than other versions.
  • Do-Anything Robot: Cyborg in this case. RoboCop is a lot like Inspector Gadget in this iteration as Murphy has several more weapons than just a laser version of his classic gun and including some that makes no sense for Murphy to have whatsoever (the hostage situation as the start of "Doppelganger" and "Francesca's Quest"'s climax were resolved with a ping-pong paddle and a self-heating ice cream scoop respectively).
  • Fair Cop: Nancy Miner, whose occupation is essentially a law enforcement agent, do have attractive features.
  • Mugged for Disguise: The episode "H-2-Uh-Oh" features a villainess who can turn herself into water. While infiltrating a military base, her powers wear off, and she reverts to her (completely unclothed) human form. She spots a guard exiting the ladies' room and tackles her back inside. Punching sounds are heard, and the villainess walks out of the restroom in her newly appropriated clothes.
  • Never Bareheaded: Unlike other version, Murphy's never seen without his helmet. The only time he's seen without it is the opening—and it's from the back.
  • New Neo City: The series features a number of cities undergoing with, including Detroit now being called "New Detroit".
  • Title Theme Tune: "Robocop! Robocop!!"
  • Tuckerization: The characters of Nancy Miller and Cornelius Neumeier were named after RoboCop creators Michael Miller and Edward Neumeier. The former character's first name may have also come from Nancy Allen, the actress who played Lewis.

"Thank you for your cooperation. Good night."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Robo Cop Alpha Commando, Robo Cop The Animated Series, Robo Cop



Officer Murphy is horrified to see what is left of his original body underneath the Robocop armor.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / BodyHorror

Media sources: