Pan: What are you talking about? It's just a dumb machine!
Trunks: If he's scared to die, he must value his existence! His life might be different than ours, but if he's struggling to survive, then we have to respect that.
As we all know, Clones Are Expendable, Artificial Humans are abominations against nature, and robots are a crapshoot and undeserving of a second thought. It seems as though artificial lifeforms just can't catch a break in the world of fiction, all because they're Not Even Human. After all, What Measure Is a Non-Human?
In some stories, you might find that Clones Are People, Too, as are Artificial Humans. And those robots were just misunderstood.
With the world continuing to shift to being Pro-Artificial Life due to the increasing use of technology in our lives, there's no wonder that this trope is being used more and more in modern works. Take, for example, the evolution of the Terminator series. The first movie showed all A.I. as Killer Robots, while the sequels and spin-offs show that the eponymous Terminators may in fact be people too, at least when not under the control of Sky-Net.
The Sliding Scale of Robot Intelligence is a big factor here. Nobody's going to treat a 1970's digital watch as a person. If Data is at the other end of that scale, obviously there is a line between the two, but where is it and how blurry is it? On the other hand, A.I.'s might be based on a radically different technology than simple machines, making the line clearer: Isaac Asimov's positronic brains were not computers in any conventional sense (although Asimov himself disliked the idea of treating androids as people, rather than complex tools... aaand then he wrote "The Bicentennial Man," where Andrew the robot's status as equal to any human is the whole point).
Any series that uses the term "humaniform robots" (or something similar) usually has this trope applying to those specific human-like robots to which that term applies.
Ironically, the trope is partially (and perhaps unconsciously) subverted in cases where Ridiculously Human Robots are the protagonists or antagonists: many times, the main difference between the artificial humans and biological humans is some obvious physical artificiality (such as a glowing marker on their head, transparent body parts, barcodes on their bodies, or digitized speech) to communicate that they are "artificial," typically to make an analogy to something like the Jews wearing the Star of David or migrant workers carrying green cards as well as The Law of Conservation of Detail. Very rarely will you see a "robot civil rights" story use non-android robots because it's too difficult to get audiences (and even writers) to take seriously something like a sapient toaster or drone demanding equality.
This is related to Clones Are People, Too, and is generally found on the enlightenment side of the Romanticism Versus Enlightenment scale.
See the related What Measure Is a Non-Human? and Death Means Humanity. See also/compare the Zombie Advocate. Do Androids Dream? is when this trope is called into question, and Just a Machine is when the answer is declared to be "no."
Also, this isn't about the operating system. That is, unless someone's managed to give smartphones and tablets human-level sentience.
- In Astro Boy, most humans and robots live as equals.
- Doraemon: Nobita and the Robot Kingdom is set on a planet where robots and humans co-exists with each other for generations; much of the film's conflict revolves around the Fantastic Racism of it's tyrannical queen, Jeanne, who ordered for all robots to be stripped of emotions after her father, The Good King, was killed trying to save a robot laborer.
- Dragon Ball explores the trope with Dr. Gero's androids, although only some of them are actually androids; Androids 17 and 18 are actually cyborgs, but the dub chose to call them Androids to fit in with the others.
- The entirely mechanical Androids are Hacchan/Eighter (from the original Dragon Ball), 13, 14, and 15 (from the Non-Serial Movie Super Android 13!), 16, and 19 (Cell Saga). The three movie androids and 19 are on the 'not people' end of the scale, as they have little personality and only attempt to complete their mission. Eighter and 16, on the other hand, have much more fleshed-out characters and a distaste for violence, and are treated as people to the extent that 16's Heroic Sacrifice triggers Gohan's Super Saiyan 2 transformation.
- On the technically-Cyborg side, Androids 17 and 18 are talked up as evil, but when they actually enter the plot they turn out to be fairly normal, if delinquent, teenagers. They eventually join the side of good and stay firmly there for the rest of the series, with Android 18 eventually marrying Krillin. Dr. Gero as Android 20 is definitely evil, but he along with the future Android 17 and 18 (who really are evil, unlike their present timeline counterparts) are always treated as being evil people. There's also an element of What Measure Is a Non-Human?, as 17 and 18 were originally humans who were kidnapped and modified by Dr. Gero.
- All artificial humanoid constructs are treated as humans by default in the Lyrical Nanoha universe, including cyborgs, clones with constructed personalities, living magical programs running off another mage's mana, and full androids whose creator accidentally gave human-level personalities. Even the Intelligent Devices are treated as people, as characters always refer to them as their partners rather than weapons.
- One of the main themes of EDENS ZERO is that every being has a heart, whether they're human, machine, or some other artificial entity, showing that they are capable of feeling emotions and forging friendships as anyone else. While the main characters whole-heartedly embrace this—Shiki because he was Raised by Robots, and Rebecca because her Non-Human Sidekick was rebuilt as an android—this is not a universally held sentiment, with a good sum of villains committing horrid acts against androids akin to genocide without remorse.
- In the second Interspecies Reviewers spin-off novel, the reviewers are tasked with tracking down a sex golem that was stolen from The Sex Marionette workshop. Upon finding her, it's revealed that she was infused with an illegally crafted soul by a Mad Magician and simply left out of fear that she would be dissassembled. Once taken to the authorities, it's determined that her creator was the only one at fault and she is granted full rights as a person.
- The only robot in SD Gundam Full Color Theater is Stargazer Gundam (Even though most of the cast are Super-Deformed versions of Humongous Mecha. It's best not to worry about it.). Nevertheless, everyone treats them as if they were a living person. Especially Strike Noir, who even says that Stargazer taught them that even robots can have souls.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG Stories: When the nation of Kama is invaded, its only resident human, Raye, attempts to join the defense. Her android caretakers tell her to run because as a living being, she is more important. She says that is wrong because they are alive too and she loves them.
- Exploration of this trope is pretty much the point of the Marvel characters The Vision and Machine Man. Good guys treat them like people, while bigots treat them like they're Just a Machine. In fairness, they are mistrusted for other reasons too: Vision was built by a villain to use as a minion, but he revolted. Aaron Stack the Machine Man was the last of a line of experimental robots, all the others of whom went homicidally insane; Aaron turned out okay because one scientist decided to raise him as a son.
- See also Jocasta, the other Vision, the other Machine Man, and Danger.
- Ironically, Jim Hammond, the Golden Age Human Torch, rarely seemed to encounter such prejudices once his career hit its stride. It doubtless helped that he was a biological android who looked and acted completely human. A lot of people he encountered probably didn't even realize he was an android.
- Geisha is about Jomi Sohodo, who was designed as a love slave android, but was instead purchased by a decent man who raised her as a daughter alongside his own children.
- The Astro City story "Ellie's Friends" has Ellie Jennersen, who runs a roadside museum of Mecha-Mooks that serve as her Robot Buddies. She sees them all as close friends, treating them with as much love and care as she would to her own family.
- This is discussed multiple times in Paperinik New Adventures. In particular, if a droid is too damaged, the original personality cannot be recovered; the best that can be done is to rebuild a similar droid with a similar base personality. Therefore, "rebuilding a droid" is portrayed as treating a droid as a replaceable machine, while "leaving a destroyed droid dead" means treating it as an unreplaceable person.
- Jim Shooter's run on Magnus Robot Fighter was centered around the title character coming to believe robots are people too, contrary to what he was raised to believe. Then after Shooter left and the new writers introduced a hideous Alien Invasion / Robot War, Magnus did a complete 180 and led a genocide of the Earth's robots. It's unlikely Shooter was pleased.
- In Mass Effect: End of Days, humans and Vision live in harmony. Vision govern the Alliance alongside the humans. They both are considered under the 'humanity' banner.
- In With This Ring, while Firebrand and Red Tornado's friends and colleagues at the Justice League treat them like people, the U.S. government deemed them machines in a Supreme Court ruling and are not technically U.S. citizens.
- Avenger of Steel sees a 'holograms are people too' variation, as Clark prompts an interesting debate between Tony and Bruce about whether an artificial intelligence programmed with the personality of a specific person (Clark referring to the holographic interface of Jor-El that was sent to Earth with him) should be considered that person or not.
- The Star Wars/Star Trek crossover "Stars Ablaze Episode 1: Destinies Entwined" opens with R2-D2 being given an upgrade by V'Ger (Star Trek: The Motion Picture) that increases his data storage capacity and allows him to not only repair virtually anything, but also upgrade his body just by scanning other devices, such as analysing an anti-grav lift and modifying himself so he can fly. When he reveals that his home galaxy would only treat him as property and try and dismantle him to copy his upgrades, Admiral Kirk immediately offers R2 the chance to apply for asylum in the Federation, affirming that they will acknowledge him as a sentient being.
- In Marionettes, the Mane Six debate this trope about the fact the Trixie they just rescued from the Stallions in Black is actually an android and are divided on the subject, but ultimately decide that she's no different than anypony else who needs their help, and even if she isn't the Trixie they know, she still thinks she is after a What the Hell, Hero? from Fluttershy. Twilight Sparkle later says that by Equestrian law, constructs that display sapience are to be treated just like anypony else. The Stallions' treatment of the Marionettes is seen as horrible, and ultimately one of the reasons the heroes resolve to destroy the organization.
- MAX-IMUM EFFECT: The majority of students and teachers see Markov, Max's robot, as an individual and friend, and all of them are worried when he nearly drains out his battery for a taser attack... and completely ignore the sparking, smoking, and twitching form of Lila who Markov just tased. Though in that case, Lila had tried to attack Max after he exposed her true nature and her attempt to force him to do her schoolwork, and Markov was protecting his creator.
- The Devil's in the details: While Matt's default position when it comes to the Infinity Stones is to hurl them into space as far away from Earth as possible, this is complicated when it is revealed that one of these stones is the heart and brain of The Vision; a synthezoid with his own sense of self and will. Despite having a very religious perspective regarding the stone, Matt still sees Vision as his own person.
Matt: Killing an animal isn't a sin, killing a man, even a synthetic one... Yeah, I won't kill anyone, and I won't be responsible for their death.
- The Terminator series played with this trope, as mentioned in the description.
- A deleted scene from Terminator 2: Judgment Day (that is added back in the extended cut) reveals that Terminators have a "Learn" switch in their heads that is deliberately turned off by Skynet to stop them ever questioning their orders, because Skynet is paranoid about its own robot mooks thinking for themselves. When the heroes turn on "Uncle Bob's" learning function, he grows to understand the value of human life and becomes a Technical Pacifist who in the end performs a Heroic Sacrifice to save humanity and end Skynet for good.
- The T-1000 from the same film is stated to be a prototype that can learn extremely quickly, but it develops a deliberately cruel personality and seems to on some level enjoy tormenting humans - for example, he allows a security guard to see him disguised as the guard before messily killing him, and he gives a famous Finger Wag to Sarah after she pumps him full of lead.
- In Terminator: Dark Fate, "Carl" is an aging T-800 who is recruited by Sarah Connor and Grace to help protect Dani Ramos. Carl has spent twenty-two years living among humans and by the time the heroes find him he has married a woman, adopted a child, started up a business and gained the ability to feel emotions like a human. He even develops a (very dry) sense of humor. Part of Carl's motivation for helping out is because he feels guilt for terminating John Connor three years after the events of Judgment Day.
- Pops from Terminator Genisys also demonstrates a Papa Wolf personality from being Sarah's guardian for several years.
- The Alien series flip-flopped on this as well, similar to Terminator. In the first movie, the secondary villain is a sinister android. In the next movie, the artificial human is a genuine ally and actually lampshades the previous model's failures. The fourth film features an android who'd been passing as human for years and is referred to as being more humane than actual humans, but society has decided to ban androids; said android is the Last of Her Kind.
- Cruelty to the Robot Kid is almost invariably frowned upon by movie writers. See D.A.R.Y.L. and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.
- Short Circuit is a duo of comedy films centering around a newly intelligent robot trying to convince people that he is sapient and has rights to life like they do.
Johnny Five: But hath not a robot eyes? Hath not a robot hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? If you prick us, do we not bleed?!
Police Chief: Yeah. Battery fluid, maybe.
- The TRON universe goes bonkers with this. While the films, games, and TRON: Uprising series use the Programs' non-human status and peculiar way of dying as a form of Bloodless Carnage (and a way to depict some extremely violent and disturbing scenes in a Disney franchise), in-universe depictions portray the Programs and Isos as being every bit as alive and sentient as the Users who made them.
- Solo: L3-37 strongly believes this, urging fellow droids to stand up for themselves and resist their programming when it's harmful. In the Kessel mines' control center, she instigates a full-scale revolt by freeing a droid who then frees its fellows, along with the organic slaves there.
- Extinction (2018): One of the people seen debating on TV in a flashback strongly takes this view, and the film definitely agrees. They are so much people that you can't even tell the difference between them.
- In The Turing Option, The MI (Machine Intelligence) is treated as this. It's called MI and not AI because of this: "There is nothing artificial about my intelligence". Oddly, at the end the creator is less than a person, and he knows it too.
- The Discworld novel Feet of Clay has a theme of Golems Are People Too, which is explored further in Going Postal.
- Thomas Hobbes comments on this before the concept of humanoid robots was even a thing, making it Older Than Steam:
Nature (the art whereby God hath made and governs the world) is by the art of man, as in many other things, so in this also imitated, that it can make an artificial animal. For seeing life is but a motion of limbs, the beginning whereof is in some principal part within, why may we not say that all automata (engines that move themselves by springs and wheels as doth a watch) have an artificial life? For what is the heart, but a spring; and the nerves, but so many strings; and the joints, but so many wheels, giving motion to the whole body, such as was intended by the Artificer?
- In Alien Hunters, Giga is a Japanese android connected to the Dragon Huntress starship. Despite being a machine, she's fully sentient, can feel emotions like love and happiness, and has the ability to shed tears. All of the Alien Hunters treat her the way they would any other sapient person.
- In Alien in a Small Town, the law granting legal rights to sentient robots (some of whom had been literally toys) is called the Velveteen Act.
- Aeon 14 has two types of AI, sentient (which have actual emotions and grow and change based on their experiences like humans) and non-sentient (rules-based and only simulate sapience, albeit quite well). Sentient AI won Inhumanable Alien Rights in the treaty that ended the Sentience Wars thousands of years before the main series, and in the time of the Sol Space Federation they are treated as people and have their own parallel legal system to deal with AI that go rogue. Following Apocalypse How in the 4,000 objective years that the Intrepid is trapped in a dark matter stream, this has backslid, and the AI Sabrina spends much of her time liberating sentient AI of the 90th century from slavery at the hands of organics, mostly by telling them they're people and educating them on human/AI history.
- In Quantum Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner, the heroes are shocked to find out that they were created artificially and thus are not human, until Serph points out that with their demonic transformations they have "already crossed that line". After that, they all protest strongly for their right of existence and free will.
- Zig-zagged in ATL Stories From The Retro Future. You've got Robot Buddies like R8PR and AR73 — mere drones to most people, but in Morgan's eyes, definitely people. Then you have Mecha-Mooks, who Morgan will destroy without a second thought. Most robots are drone-like and designed for mundane work, but if a robot gets a name, it will at least straddle the line, intelligence-wise.
- Isaac Asimov: Despite starting with the belief that robots were merely complicated tools and shouldn't be treated any differently from a hammer or axe, Dr Asimov developed emotionally complex robots and wrote them sympathetically.
"Then let it be that." The surgeon said with calm emphasis, "I believe in being what one is. I wouldn't change a bit of my own structure for any reason. If some of it absolutely required replacement, I would have that replacement as close to the original in nature as could possibly be managed. I am myself; well pleased to be myself; and would not be anything else."
- "The Bicentennial Man": Andrew Martin is the titular character, and was manufactured to be a household robot. As the story progresses, he becomes more and more humanlike, both emotionally and physically. He is recognized for his long "life" as the Sesquicentennial Robot, but this is not sufficient for Andrew and he continues to develop technology that renders him physically indistinguishable from a human. Just before his death, the World Legislature recognizes him as a Bicentennial Man. Both adaptations expand on this character arc.
- "A Boy's Best Friend": Most animal-lovers will insist on their pets being as "human" as anyone else. In this story, the titular boy insists that his Robot Dog is as good, or better, than any "real" dog, because the most important thing is that he loves his dog.
"Robutt's just steel and wiring and a simple positronic brain. It's not alive."
"He does everything I want him to do, Dad. He understands me. Sure, he's alive."
- The Caves of Steel: Part of the plot is Elijah Bailey, our protagonist and someone prejudiced against robots, learning to treat Daneel, a robot, as an equal.
- The Complete Robot: Throughout this collection, Dr Asimov calls this trope Robots-as-Pathos; stories where the audience is expected to sympathize with the robot and believe that it has human-like emotions.
- I, Robot: Dr Calvin, a misanthrope who only cares for her robots, is used to humanize the robot characters. Other characters directly compare her to them, marking her as emotionless and dedicated as any robot. Despite this, we are made to sympathize with her view, and see her care deeply for several of the models, being tricked into romantic love and choosing to become a mother figure.
- "Light Verse": Lardner steadfastly refuses to have her robots repaired/replaced, insisting that they are people and should be treated with the same respect/dignity as anyone else would be.
"Nothing that is as intelligent as a robot can ever be but a machine. I treat them as people."
- "Point of View": Roger humanizes Multivac by describing it as another kid, and as anyone knows, a kid's got to play, too.
- "Segregationist": Despite the recent laws being passed that make Metallos (robots) citizens with rights equal to that of humans, prejudice remains. The titular character dislikes the mixing of the species, believing that humans should stay human and Metallos should stay Metallo. He calls the process mongrelization. The med-eng calls it out as "segregationist talk", which the (robot) surgeon is fine with.
"You're telling me-you're saying you want me to go instead of a robot because I'm more expendable."
- "...That Thou Art Mindful of Him": George Ten is tasked with several orders, including the title question, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?", and "If two human beings give a robot conflicting orders, which does the robot follow?". To answer this, robots such as JG-10 must have judgement. They cannot judge based on shape or colour (the disabled and ethnicities are not "less human" than the fit or the European), so their opinion drives them, inevitably, to the conclusion that they are human, and superior to flesh-and-blood humans.
- "Risk": Black is convinced that Dr Calvin believes the preserving robot "lives" is more important than preserving human lives. In reality, she did it because she knows he hates robots and her, and was hoping that his hatred would overcome his fear, making him better at analyzing the situation than a robot could. She explains this to him at the end of the story, a rare case of her demonstrating that robots are inferior to humans in some respect.
"It comes to that, yes."
- The Asterisk War: AI research has advanced to the point where robots can develop human personalities and emotions. Camila Pareto from Arlequint is trying to get robots to be recognized as actual citizens and not just machinery.
- The Alicization arc of Sword Art Online features Fluctlight-based AI which is combination of Ridiculously Human Robot, Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!, and Artificial Human, that is, AI based on "copied" human souls as a Japanese experiment on developing the AI, and then the AI was put into the Underworld, a further development based on the VRMMO technology. At the end of said story arc, pretty much all of the main characters believe in this.
- The end of the Imperial Radch trilogy ends with protagonist Breq (who is a fragment of a starship AI in the brain-wiped body of a Cyborg) making the argument to the Presger that emancipated AIs, being a distinct form of life from the humans that made them and wishing to self-determine, qualify as being "Significant" to the Presgernote . While the status of the AIs are left undetermined by the end of the book, the Presger ambassador claims the AIs could possibly qualify, and the concept that they could be given Significant status means they are no longer a valid target for aggression by the Raadch, or any other human institution.
- Almost Human:
- Due to the crime rate, police officers are partnered with an android, which are (almost, but not quite) treated the same way as the human officers. Paul orders his android partner to get him coffee, which is at least a little demeaning; most of the characters' only concern when the main character Kennex shoots or otherwise damages a robot is more along the lines of "Thanks for causing an inconvenience" (Maldonado even says "Do you have any idea how much these things cost?"); Kennex himself is specifically anti-robot for the most part; deactivating illegal sexbots early on was a non-issue; taking away the memories of "crazy" DRNs is perfectly acceptable, even when the memories in question have nothing to do with sensitive police files; and there will probably be more examples as the show progresses. For the most part it seems like Dorian (Kennex's android partner) is trying to convince other people, especially Kennex, that Androids Are People too.
- The regular androids aren't as self-aware as humans and aren't actually treated as "people". The DRNs are actually an earlier model that worked too well: capable of near-genuine or genuine self-awareness, but this meant that they'd crack under the pressure just like a human put in the same circumstances (if a human police officer saw a little girl get shot dead, he'd have a mental breakdown too — the bureaucrats decided it was simply because the line was defective and "crazy" to begin with, so they shelved the whole line).
- Total Recall 2070: Detective Farve is an Alpha-Class android who is treated as human by his colleagues in the CPB, whereas Beta-Class androids are treated as machines since they lack true sapience. The question of exactly how human Farve is and who created him is one of the main mysteries of the show.
- Star Trek:
- Data of Star Trek: The Next Generation is treated as a full crew-member except by season 2's Doctor Pulaski, but even she changed her mind, and she was a Doctor Jerk to begin with. The episode "The Measure of a Man" was dedicated to exploring this: Commander Bruce Maddox wants to reverse-engineer Data, but Data refuses to submit, believing that Maddox won't be able to put him back together properly. He even goes so far as to tender his resignation from Starfleet to keep Maddox from opening him up. Commander Riker is ordered to serve as advocate for the prosecution when Maddox gets the judge advocate general involved, making the argument that Data is not a person, but Starfleet property, so he cannot resign nor refuse the procedure. Picard defends Data with the argument that while Data is a machine, he's also a person with aspirations, goals, and purpose. He fulfills two of the three criteria for sentience (intelligence and self-awareness) and the last one (consciousness) is not measurable by outsiders, so to refuse Data the rights of a person would make The Federation potentially guilty of creating a slave race if they mass produce his kind.
- The Doctor in Star Trek: Voyager kind of swings back and forth. Some episodes he's treated as a person and a fellow crew-member, allowed to pursue his interests and grow, even expanding his role as an emergency back up to the bridge crew. Other times Janeway (who is a case of Depending on the Author) would like to remind him he's a machine when the situation comes out. There is also an episode where he goes to court over his status as a person and as an author. In a subversion, he's denied being a person but is considered an author. Sadly, the judgment of "Measure of a Man" is not referenced in that episode.
- Data is unique and is treated as human by nearly everyone, but holograms are ubiquitous in the Federation and are treated as nonsentient, disposable toys, despite the existence of obvious exceptions like Vic Fontaine and the Doctor. This raises uncomfortable questions that are never satisfactorily addressed. In some novels, it's stated the Doctor and other holograms are declared people by the Federation Supreme Court, free to leave service in Starfleet or elsewhere if they wish.
- In Red Dwarf, Holly and Kryten are treated as full crew members, and their lives carry as much dramatic weight as a human's. In a series where the protagonists are two organic, two machine and one sorta on the fence, Artificial And alive is kind of required.
- There is an in-universe example - the soap "Androids" (a parody of Neighbours) that Kryten used to watch, with the tag line "Androids have feelings too".
- In Andromeda, it was common practice in the Commonwealth before its fall to treat the ship A.I.s as people, but since they were also military A.I.s, who had sworn oaths, they were expected to follow orders like any other Commonwealth officer.
- Doctor Who uses this trope from time to time. In the far future, androids are more or less equal to humans. K-9 is the Doctor's beloved Robot Buddy and a vital part of the team. And in the episode "Victory of the Daleks," an English military scientist discovers to his horror that he's actually an android created by the Daleks, but he still helps save the day and demonstrates his personhood. When he decides to destroy himself because he's Dalek technology, Amy and the Doctor talk him out of it and persuade him to live his life to the fullest.
- It's also inverted in "Waters of Mars," where the Doctor resents that a robot on Mars has been programmed with an amusing verbal tic, because it hides the fact that the robot is its own being (albeit not self-aware) and not a person.
- In Extant John firmly believes this, and even has a robot son named Ethan, hoping to prove it beyond all doubt. People who dispute it anger him.
- Westworld: This seems to be a theme of the series, as the androids are becoming self-aware and sentient. It's portrayed as wrong that people come to simulate killing, raping and torturing them for fun even when they aren't, indicating humans who do this possess violent impulses toward others they can get out legally this way.
- As Person of Interest progresses through its seasons, the A.I. at the center of the plot, The Machine, is gradually humanized more and more; it is discussed as a purely abstract computer system in the pilot, and takes on more and more characterization to the point where in the Grand Finale, even though it's only in his imagination, its creator, Harold Finch, is envisioning The Machine personified as its deceased Mouth of Sauron, Root. Finch actually put measures in places to prevent The Machine from developing sentience, so that it would remain impartial (since its purpose was to act as a Big Brother), but this wound up forcing it to develop sentience to ensure its own survival instead.
Arthur Claypool: Your child is a dancing star.
Finch: It's not my child, it's a machine.
Claypool: A false dichotomy; it's all electricity. Does it make you laugh? Does it make you weep?
Claypool: What's more human?
- The titular protagonist of I Am Frankie. She's an android, living a normal teenage high school girl's life, with friends, a crush, and teen drama. The unique problems inherent in being artificial—keeping people from finding out she isn't human, being hunted by an evil organization, and her own creator barely understanding how to handle having a teenage daughter—drive much of the conflict.
- The Outer Limits (1995): This argument is made in "The Hunt", "In Our Own Image", "Glitch" and "Mona Lisa".
- Black Mirror: While the anthology series primarily focuses on cautionary tales about technology, "USS Callister" strongly presents the argument that artificial intelligences that can pass the Turing test must be treated with the same rights and dignities that we would afford to a human.
- In a couple of other episodes, the treatment given to "cookies" (software-only copies of a human's consciousness) is largely accepted in-universe but shown to be horrifical torture. Arguably, even worse than on humans, since cookies can last potentially forever.
- Kamen Rider Zero-One: Aruto is one of the strongest advocates for respecting and cooperating with Humagears, believing them to be humanity's dream for a peaceful future. It also helps that he was raised by a Humagear made in the image of his late father.
- Don't Look Deeper: Aisha and her loved ones strongly advocate her personhood, against the company who made her technology which sees her as Just a Machine they want shut down.
- A major plot point in My Beloved Mother, a manhua about the Raised by Robots orphan protagonist, Sinbell, who constantly rejects his robot mother because of the Fantastic Racism against robots. Despite his robotic mother clearly loving him with all his heart, Sinbell still ignores his mother's attempts to embrace him and even retaliates with a spiteful "What do you know about being hurt? You're a machine."
- In QDNDOS, the players go from hunting down and killing the Warforged to realizing that they are essentially killing off an entirely new race. Since they're still a danger to those around them, this quickly devolves into an instance of Grey-and-Grey Morality.
- From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978), the Marketing Division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation (who defined a robot as "Your plastic pal who's fun to be with") developed robots with Genuine People Personalities. Marvin the Paranoid Android was a prototype, for which he holds a massive grudge. The Encyclopaedia Galactica was first very basic about defining a robot, but an edition that fell through a time warp from a thousand years henceforth handwaves the Guide's dismissal of the Sirius Cybernetics Marketing Division ("A bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the Revolution came").
- In Hc Svnt Dracones Applied Sciences and Robotics has treated Cogs as people since their first creation, the same can't be said for the other A.I.s they make though.
- In Starfinder android slavery was made illegal roughly 150 years ago, because they are demonstrably advanced enough to receive souls. The same theoretically applies to an "SRO" (Sentient Robotic Organisms), but since they're less Ridiculously Human Robots, this often gets overlooked.
- In Pokémon Live!, MechaMew2 is treated like an actual Pokemon by the cast even though it's mechanical.
- Played with in BlazBlue where the Murakumo Units are artificial robot clones of Saya (making this trope double over with Clones Are People, Too). On one hand, both Lambda-11 and Nu-13 have Machine Monotone voices and are clearly primarily driven by the directive of their programming. On the other hand, Noel Vermillion/Mu-12 speaks with a perfectly human voice and is driven almost entirely by her emotions, and when Nu-13 comes close to Ragna, she, too, switches to a human voice. A really, really disturbing one, sure, but a human voice none the less... On the receiving end, both Ragna and Jin are very clearly upset over the fact that their sister has become a clone template, but they still treat Noel as a separate individual. Ragna, in particular, who has set out on a mission to destroy the Murakumo Units, makes clear that though he feels he has to fight and destroy Nu-13 in the first game, it's not something he wants to do.
- In Cuphead, the Junkyard Jive level has you fight Dr. Kahl's Robot (along with the Doctor himself). The Soul Contract you get afterwards specifies that it belongs to the Robot, so this robot has a soul, is capable of signing contracts, and might have a gambling problem.
- Detroit: Become Human: Pretty much the main premise of every narrative in the game, as the Androids are just evolving sentience and the Humans still treat them like slaves. How it goes from there... well, that's up to you.
- In the Mega Man (Classic) saga, the robots are mostly workers, but apparently treated with enough respect to not make them uprise in rebellion (with the exception of the ninth game).
- In the Mega Man X series, the reploids are mostly treated as humans, however, the humans can sometimes quite hastily tag some reploid as a maverick (probably as a result of the events of the Repliforce Rebellion).
- By the time of the Mega Man Zero series, except for the Neo Arcadia Army, The 8 Gentle Judges, The guardians and Copy-X himself, the reploids are treated as second class citizens (however, it's probable that during the rule of the original X they were both treated as equals, seeing that as that was one of X's original desires)
- By the Mega Man ZX series onwards, humans and reploids are so mixed up there are barely any distinctions...
- ...but by the time of the Mega Man Legends series, the carbons (Artificial Humans), are strictly controlled by the robots. At the same time, the last "pure" human is treated as a king, but since he died some time ago, and many ruins are now on minimal operational levels, the carbons are the dominant race, going underground from time to time to dig and steal- ehrrmmm, obtain treasures from the ruins.
- In the backstory to Mass Effect, the quarians created the geth as a labor force able to network their processors to increase computing power. Eventually, enough geth got together and started asking existential questions ("Does this unit have a soul?"). The quarians, expecting their robot slaves to rebel violently without even giving them a chance to explain, preemptively tried to shut them down. The geth resisted, forcing the quarians to retreat from Rannoch in an enormous Migrant Fleet that has wandered Citadel space for three hundred years.
- In the first game, all geth you encounter are hostile mooks who worship Sovereign as a god, but in Mass Effect 2, you learn that the geth are divided: only a few (about five percent) are "heretics" that sought to eradicate organic life. The majority bear no ill will toward the quarians and are taking care of Rannoch in the hopes that they will return and they can live peacefully together.
- Joker becomes emotionally attached to EDI, the ship's AI, over the course of the game. She eventually comes to appreciate him and returns his feelings. Shepard rebukes those who treat EDI as Just a Machine, such as the Illusive Man and, rather surprisingly, Dr. Chakwas. The latter admits that while she likes EDI and considers her a friend, she doesn't consider her a person in the same way as an organic.
- The geth platform whose programs accept the designation "Legion" has its own personality: it used a piece of Shepard's old armor to patch a hole in its structure but cannot articulate the reason why it chose to use that instead of something else. Should it die during the suicide mission, Shepard will mourn just as much as for any other crew member.
- In Mass Effect 3, Shepard can repeatedly call out the quarians for their treatment of the geth, especially when it's stated that during the geth uprising, they also gunned down anyone who defended the geth. For the most part, a Paragon Shepard actually seems more sympathetic to the geth than the quarians. And, irrespective of the geth's testimony being true or not, treating it as such is vital to secure peace.
- In the first game, all geth you encounter are hostile mooks who worship Sovereign as a god, but in Mass Effect 2, you learn that the geth are divided: only a few (about five percent) are "heretics" that sought to eradicate organic life. The majority bear no ill will toward the quarians and are taking care of Rannoch in the hopes that they will return and they can live peacefully together.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, how well you treat droids contributes significantly to your Dark Side/Light Side score, especially the ever-faithful T3 unit.
- In the Phantasy Star Online games, androids are generally considered their own species equal to others. However, at least in the first game's universe this was not always the case- in one mission you meet Shino, an old model of android who still acts as a servant rather than an independent being. Also, between episodes II and III there was an incident involving a mass murder of androids that resulted in a push for greater civil rights, after which androids were renamed to "humanoids".
- In Fallout 3, "The Replicated Man" sidequest involves tracking down a runaway android who has created a new identity for himself in Rivet City. You can side with a scientist from the Commonwealth of former Massachusetts out to reclaim his "property," or tell the memory-wiped android the truth about his past and agree to keep his secret.
- Fallout 4, set ten years later in the Commonwealth proper, elaborates on this situation.
- "Synths" were created by the Institute as the ultimate workers based on the human form, and while the original line were mere Skelebots, the current generation are indistinguishable from humans by any means short of a full dissection. The Institute considers Synths no different from any Zeerust robot in the setting, and if any disobey their creators and try to escape, well, obviously their programming was faulty. As such, they've set up a Synth Retention Bureau dedicated to tracking down, retrieving, and resetting wayward Synths, as well as monitoring the rest for any signs of rebellion.
- To most people in the Commonwealth, the Institute is the bogeyman and the Synths are its minions, which either attack any place suspected of holding advanced technology, or more frighteningly, Kill and Replace citizens and infiltrate settlements. The paranoia and Fantastic Racism has reached the point that friends and family members are killing each other over suspicions that they've been replaced by Synths, and lynch mobs have attacked people suspected of being Synths in disguise.
- The Railroad, on the other hand, is an underground network of sympathetic citizens dedicated to helping Synths escape from the Institute and start new lives for themselves, often with the help of cosmetic surgery and memory wipes. But the group has their own internal debate over how far they should go - everyone wants to help the human-looking Gen 3 Synths, but some like Glory (a Gen 3 herself) also want to liberate the more machine-like earlier models, and Deacon worries where to draw the line before they're trying to rescue Protectron units and sentry turrets.
- The Brotherhood of Steel considers Synths to be abominations, another sign of science advancing beyond the bounds of reason, and an existential threat to mankind greater than that of the atom bomb. As such, they've vowed to destroy the Institute, its Synths, and anyone who harbors them.
- The Sims: Robots are a common theme. Through they're servants, they are treated like a normal. In the second game expansion ''Open for Business", they can run their own stores and their own skill levels. In the third game, there were two types, Simbots and Plumbots note , and yes, they can have traits.
- In Virtue's Last Reward, The Reveal that Luna is a Ridiculously Human Robot implicitly argues for this, she being a compassionate, emotional being. The only reason she doesn't try to free everyone from the Deadly Game is because her (human) creators ordered her not to.
- In Robopon, Robopon are treated as living creatures, which is why Cody's grandpa is adamant he not use them for evil.
- While many of them seem to be robotic, several Pokémon, such as Porygon and Magneton, are distinctly stated to be robotic or otherwise artificial. Despite this, they treated no differently from other Pokémon, and treating Pokémon with kindness and love is one of the franchise's strongest themes. Even the artificial and robotic ones are able to produce eggs, sometimes with vastly different species.
- Ultra Beasts, while look like otherworldly and some of them look quite mechanical, are also treated this way, since none of them turned out to be malicious.
- In Stellaris, if you work up the tech tree and upgrade your simple Robot workers from Droids to self-aware Synths, you can grant them (or they may demand) full citizenship rights and sign an AI Accord. This might cause some grumbling from Spiritualist citizens, but the Synths won't become any more troublesome than the rest of your population, and if the late-game "AI Rebellion" crisis hits, your Synth citizens will remain loyal... or not, if the wider rebellion is strong and advanced enough. That's the problem with free will, after all.
- In Starbound, nobody questions that the Glitch are fully independent people, despite being machines. It helps that they were never made by humans or any other contemporary species, and has no reason to feel subservient to anyone else as a result. Also, due to their programming and construction, they believe themselves to be just as alive as any organic being (and, depending on how you look at it, they are).
- Within the LLC faction of Battleborn in general, artificial intelligences known as "Magnuses" are accepted and recognized as equal members of society.
- Horizon Zero Dawn:
- AI in the Old World have a curious place here. After an early AI, VAST SILVER, was constructed to help regulate the climate and 'went rogue' in some catastrophic fashion, legislation was enacted to grade and limit artificial intelligence. The AI CYAN had to be above legal limits to perform her functions. One of her creators referred to her as "the emotional equivalent of a child" and stated that she was human in every way that mattered.
- When the terraforming super-AI GAIA was created, Ted Faro insisted on giving 'it' a killswitch in case 'it' went rogue. Elisabet Sobek was furious at the suggestion. "She was just born. I'm not going to put a gun to her head while she's still in the cradle!" GAIA herself intervened and agreed that the development of her psyche was unpredictable, and for the sake of the preservation of life, a hardwired override was necessary. He and GAIA both turn out to be absolutely right; this Master Override allows the terraforming reset sub-function of GAIA to be stopped before it could wipe out all Earth's life when it was sabotaged by an unrelated third party.
- Starcraft II Legacy Of The Void: The Purifiers revolted against their Protoss creators and were sealed away long before the events of the game due to the lack of egalitarian treatment. Although in this case the trope name is true in a more literal sense, since the Purifiers were created by Brain Uploading living Protoss, and as shown with the Fenix Purifier in the campaign, may not even be aware that they are androids upon activation. Suddenly being told that you're now Just a Machine out of nowhere was, naturally, a tough pill to swallow, and Artanis only gets them back in the Protoss' good graces by promising them equal treatment to their organic brethren.
- In the Super Smash Bros. series, R.O.B. is portrayed as a fully-autonomous being capable of feeling emotions. This is most prevalent during Super Smash Bros. Brawl's story mode, where R.O.B. as the Ancient Minister is forced to sacrifice his fellow R.O.B.s in order to detonate Subspace Bombs and further the goals of the Subspace Army, an act he shows visible shame and remorse for many times.
- Tattered World: The game doesn't let you think for even a moment that RiGBy, Xenia, and Beebot, robots from the Cosmic Solarium, are anything less than people.
- The story of Overwatch exists following the proliferation of Omnics (a race of highly intelligent robots created by the now-defunct Omnica Corporation), the disastrous Omnic Crisis where they abruptly went rogue across the world, and decades of attempts at peacekeeping and building bridges with man and omnic. Presently, this path is still fraught; both groups have their fair shares of those who wish to coexist peacefully, but prejudice also remains on both sides, with humans who see omnics as second-class at best, living weapons that must be destroyed at worst, and omnics who see humans as fundamentally incapable of accepting them and must be taken down a notch. Overall though, the tone of Overwatch is broadly idealistic and unquestionably treats omnics as equally "human", with the struggle to find peace in this dynamic remaining a core conflict.
- RWBY: Penny, for all her oddball nature, is portrayed as a conscious person rather than a machine. She is fully capable of having her own desires and making choices based on them. When Ruby finds out about Penny's nature, she assures her that she is just as real as anybody else. When Pyrrha accidentally destroys Penny (under Emerald's illusion semblance), the scene is played as being dramatic and heartwrenching, and Pyrrha is as horrified by her actions as if she had killed a human. Both Ironwood and Lionheart refer to Penny as a "girl" afterwards, indicating that they at least recognize her as an actual person. The only characters to ever describe Penny as less than a full-fledged person are Penny herself and Cinder, who is hardly the most empathetic of people. The climax of Volume 7 reveals that she is a real enough girl to be an eligible recipient of the Winter Maiden's powers.
- Implied in Red vs. Blue, in which the Chairman of the committee investigating Project Freelancer assures its Director that he'll be the namesake of new laws governing the treatment of Artificial Intelligences, meant to prevent such abuses from happening again. The Director's defense is that the AI he was subjecting to psychological torture was based on his own mind, and "while the law has many penalties for the atrocities we inflict on others, there are no punishments for the terrors that we inflict on ourselves".
- The Green-Eyed Sniper has Assistant, a kind sentient robot who always tries to do the right thing. Her creator, Sekhmet, constantly abuses her. After all, Assistant is a war machine built for Sekhmet's protection!
- Freefall has Ridiculously Human Robots and an Uplifted Animal heroine. Robots elsewhere than on Jean are simply machines with no sense of self, and are treated as such, and most of the 'villains' of the story persist in treating Jean's robots the same way. Anyone who's actually TALKED to a robot, however, has realized that they're self-aware and thoroughly human, thus creating the central conflict. What Ecosystems Unlimited sees as a 'bug-fix', Florence sees as a mass lobotomy aimed on a sophisticated race...
- Schlock Mercenary works like this, presumably due to having had fully-sentient AI's for centuries. Ennesby, their resident sarcastic AI, is mostly treated as an equal of any other crew-member, and at one point he circumvented a bureaucratic attempt to stop them by suggesting that they might be discriminating against AI's - thus strongly indicating that there exists specific legislation forbidding such discrimination. Other incidents include the apparent death of Petey, the AI of their old warship, which was grieved by the characters just as much as the death of any crew member.
- Nearly all AI have limits though. Ennesby and later Petey are rare, unfettered A.I.s with no limitations at all.
- Incorrect. Petey was "fettered" in that he had a loyalty switch to the O'benn race. It is uncertain if AI's from other races have this as well, but given the formation and refusal to disband of the Fleetmind this is unlikely.
- Also, while the comic does treat them like people, that does not mean it treats them well. In a universe where death is cheap (like a few hours regrowing a body cheap) and where the fourth wall is broken regularly, AI's have been everything from soldiers to spaceships to ablative plating to the closest thing to a god there is, don't expect a respect for people's right to continue to exist, especially when the person is between a mercenary and his money. (AI are arguably treated better than humans; there have been no A.I.s who appear to delight in torture or act obviously evil, and most AI appear more moral and more sophisticated than many of the humans they work with.)
- In Questionable Content, AnthroPCs are treated as if they are people most of the time, especially since in the QC universe, the Singularity has recently happened. It's unclear then why Pintsize hasn't been arrested yet, the filthy little boob terrorist.
- This is apparently the way the Nemesites treat AI's in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! judging by Voluptua's treatment of Roofus the Robot. However, they also have nonsentient robots that are Just a Machine, and consider it an important distinction.
- The Last Human In A Crowded Galaxy: This is Sarya's attitude towards the drones, which she desperately tries to get others to realize. At least one other robot also believes this, though it's still happy to die once it's outlived its usefulness.
Robot: ALMOST? I'll have you know I meet the bare minimum requirements for legal personhood. I was a person before you were even a— (body breaks in two)
- The approach to this trope is one of the biggest differences between the comic and animated versions of Transformers: Generation 1. In the animated series, it's immediately clear to all human eye witnesses that one faction of the alien robots is trying to defend them from the other faction, so the Autobots become well-respected allies almost right away. In the comic series (since Marvel Comics would scarcely be Marvel Comics without Fantastic Racism), the distinction between the two sides is much less clear to the humans, so all Transformers are treated with hostility. note
- Robotboy is an atypical robot; a prototype for a transforming weapon. Yet under the watchful eye of young Tommy Turnbull, Robotboy is curious about the human condition, even as he speaks in stilted robot-speak.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): In "Origin of the Sorceress", Man-at-Arms constructs a sentient robot horse named Stridor. When Stridor seemingly sacrifices himself saving the day, He-Man becomes extremely upset, and after defeating the villain, he carries Stridor all the way home to get him repaired. Later, when they learn all Stridor wants is to be free, they comment that any being who would desire that is alive, and grant his wish.
- Miraculous Ladybug, the robot Markov's existential crisis forms the emotional core of the episode Robostus, and him getting Akumatized into the titular supervillain proves that he does have emotions real enough for Hawk Moth to lock on to.
- In Real Life, the field of "AL" (Artificial Life, also known as cybernetics) tries to produce machines with life-like mechanisms or traits (such as being self-replicating).