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Brain Uploading

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"The point is, if we can store music on a compact disc, why can't we store a man's intelligence and personality on one? So, I have the engineers figuring that one out now."
Cave Johnson, Portal 2

Artificial Intelligence is hard. Why reinvent the wheel, when you've got plenty of humans walking around? Who will miss one, right?

Alternatively, you might be one of those humans looking for easy immortality. Either way, once you finish scanning the brain, you end up with a file that you run in a physics simulator, and presto, you have a computer that remembers being a human. If you do it carefully enough, the original brain won't even notice it happening.

This computer has a number of advantages over a meat human. The simulation can be run many thousands of times faster than objective speed, if you've got enough computing power. It can be backed up with trivial ease. You can run multiple copies at the same time, and have them do different things, make exotic personality composites, and tinker around with the inner workings of the brain in ways that are either difficult or impossible to do with a meat brain. Additionally, there's the fact that it's impossible to kill as long as its data is backed up somewhere and there exists a computer on which to run it — you can just restart the simulation wherever you left off and the mind won't even recognize it.

Critics of the concept are quick to point out that it presupposes an understanding of neurology (not just human neurology, but even the neurology of a common insect) far, far beyond what currently exists; and that without that knowledge, even the most powerful computer cannot do this. Never mind that it also assumes general purpose digital computersnote  or some other similar computer architecture will overcome current physical limitations and stay relevant in ultra-high workload applications instead of being displaced by more specialized analog neuromorphic architectures — which are more powerful but less flexible, defeating much of the purpose of mind uploading versus, say, life extension and other forms of bio-augmentation. Proponents of the idea assure us that this knowledge is coming and that the required technology will continue to advance. Proponents who hope to live to see and actually benefit from it assure us that it's coming really really soon.

As with The Singularity, the idea of brain uploading has inevitably taken on a quasi-religious aspect for many in recent years, since it does promise immortality of a sort (as long as your backups and the hardware to run them on are safe), and even transcendence of the body.

The advantages bestowed by brain uploading are a bit overwhelming if you're trying to incorporate them into a story. It kind of kills the tension when the protagonist can restore from backup whenever the Big Bad kills them. Authors have devised a number of cop-outs, which you can recognize by asking these questions:

  • What is the underlying mechanism of the upload? Is the computer simulating every atom in every neuron, or is the upload applying memories and personality characteristics to a default template?
  • Is uploading destructive? Depending on which process you use, it may be possible to do it nondestructively, but many authors deem it convenient to have it destroy the original, to avoid the confusion of having two copies of the same character running around.note 
  • Can you augment intelligence, or does the brain's pattern need to be copied exactly to still function like a mind, leaving no room for radical enhancements?
  • Can the upload be copied? If the answer is "no", the work might be a softer sci-fi, although it's also possible to make it a little harder by running the AIs on a quantum computer and saying something about the "No-Cloning Theorem", or simply declare the recording to be analog.

Widespread Brain Uploading tends to lead to The Singularity or something very much like it. Or it may be a result of said Singularity.

There's also a pile of legal, moral, and theological questions and concerns that might be addressed in the story, discussed at length on the Analysis page. Suffice it to say that Just a Machine and Cybernetics Eat Your Soul may come into play, possibly resulting in your digital self becoming much less concerned with what happens to meatbags.

Compare with the Virtual Ghost, where the uploaded brain can control a projection of themselves to interact with the real world. Contrast Neural Implanting, where computer files are uploaded to the brain instead of the other way around, though both tropes are occasionally used together. See also Heart Drive, Transferable Memory, and Body Backup Drive. Compare Living Memory, Save Scumming, and Digitized Hacker. Many cases of an Artificial Afterlife feature use of this trope.

Body Uploading is this, but when the whole body goes into a digital space, instead of just the mental construct.

This article from The Other Wiki contains a list of examples...

...Although that won't stop us from adding our own:

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    Alternate Reality Games 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Battle Angel Alita, this is used as important final plot twist in the last episodes, when the mad doctor Desty Nova reveals that his organic brain was abducted and replaced with a biochip with his personal memories implanted. He found it years ago and became literally mad. In Last Order, this practice appears to be diffused in some contexts (i.e., Zekka had practiced it on himself, but the main character "herself" also becomes an unknowing example of this case; new revelations are followed by "What Measure Is a Non-Human?" stuff). However, the sequel is stuffed with many other examples of futuristic or bizarre Weird Science. We have also the Cloning Blues of Desty Nova.
  • Done in Blue Drop: Tenshi no Bokura, to the main character's best friend. To avoid spoilers, lets just say that it ends badly for anyone involved, reader included.
  • A variation on this is Yuzuki from Chobits, who was created to be a Replacement Goldfish for Kokubunji's dead sister. He can't upload her mind directly, so he just programs as much information about his sister as he can, and for much of the series she attempts to emulate her. Then, after an accident wipes out all that data, Kokobunji declines to replace it, saying she should just be herself.
  • Subverted in the Cowboy Bebop episode "Brain Scratch". A new religious cult is encouraging people to upload themselves to the net, but it turns out that the upload machines are completely fake and the uploadees are unknowingly just killing themselves.
  • Galaxy Express 999 has a couple of instances of a gigantic supercomputer being used to simulate the brain of a deceased human. Whether the series' main antagonists, the "Machine-Humans", also qualify or are simply disembodied human brains inhabiting robotic shells is not made clear.
  • GaoGaiGar resorts to this when they need to build new robots but don't have the time to build the AI from scratch.
    • It's mentioned that the A.I.s for KyoRyu and EnRyu took six months to develop. This results in the ridiculously Hot-Blooded Goldymarg and the child-like Mic Sounders.
    • Mic Sounders Boom Robo was uploaded from Stallion White; this is why Mic was able to System Change to protect Stallion's sister Swan before his limiters were removed. No one's sure where the Cosmo Robo personality actually came from; maybe that's that that's what a young Super-AI actually acts like.
    • Pei La Cain and Palus Abel, two of the villains from FINAL, are supposedly based on the actual masters of the Green and Red Planets. Given that three of GGG's units are children, biologically or metaphorically, of Cain or Abel, including Guy himself, this results in brief angst. Very brief.
  • Ghost in the Shell:
    • When not focusing on sociology, the series likes to take a trip down this lane. Memories can be copied easily and reliably, but an individual's 'ghost', the verse's term for consciousness, cannot be safely or easily altered or copied. Expensive and rare techniques called 'ghost-dubbing' actually upload this consciousness into an electronic format, but the result is always more limited or more insane than the biological version, and the biological suffers heavy brain damage and eventually death as a result, which is why ghost dubbing is highly illegal in the GITS universe, punishable by life in prison or brain-wipe. It's not really clear whether the resulting electronic copies are the same mind, or just a A.I. capable of pretending. The resulting copy can be copied many times, but will degenerate each time it is copied. It also asks the question of what makes up a mind, the soul or the memories, when a boy receives all of his father's memories with interesting effects. Whether true mind-uploading is possible within the universe is still up at arms, as most of the attempts either don't try hard enough or don't involve humans in the first place.
    • The second feature film, Innocence, features a multitude of ghost-dubbed dolls manipulated for the purpose of freeing the enslaved children used to dub them. It raises the question of whether, being imparted with some aspect of human consciousness, the dubbed dolls cannot be considered alive, and thus victims themselves in the film's violent plot.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex:
    • A South American guerilla hero/Che Guevera analog undergoes multiple ghost-dubbings into clone bodies as a way to "miraculously survive" multiple assassination attempts. Both the Major and Batou considered this considerably dangerous and "macho". The dictator himself died after three ghost-dubs (still, as the Major notes, surviving just one was testament to his willpower) but his dub was then copied into multiple clones.
    • In one of the Stand Alone Complex episodes this golden rule gets oddly broken, when a disappointed indie movie director makes a perfect movie inside his disembodied cyberbrain, which caused people who connected themselves to it to lose themselves in the movie and become comatose in reality. Just how this could be possible when a brain should only be able to host one Ghost, and it's impossible for a Ghost to leave its original "data-storage" without highly specialized equipment as described above, is never explained. It's more likely that they're not entering that brain, rather just viewing particular data and encountering something not unlike the Individual Eleven meme.
  • Kaiba explores the idea of digitizing one's memories/souls to achieve immortality and looks at the potential side effects of such technology such as the increasing gap between the rich and poor, the casual way people might just delete the memory chips of their loved ones to make more space for other people, and how quickly people can throw away their bodies to swap for new ones.
  • In King of Thorn, one of the first things super-hacker Zeus does as part of his A God Am I is download his mind into a new Medusa form. "That shell could never contain my potential..."
  • The Prof. Shiba from Kotetsu Jeeg who, before his death, transfer his consciousness and memory inside of a computer.
  • Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam and its sequels like this one.
    • Skull Heart has an interesting example: the Jupiter Empire somehow got ahold of the original Gundam's battle computer, which had stored in it Amuro Ray's complete battle data from the One Year War. They used this to create a partial AI and uploaded it into a new Gundam... which went berserk and attacked everything in sight because someone didn't set the targeting parameters correctly. Although it's destroyed, it's briefly hinted, right as the machine "dies", that a true piece of Amuro's mind might have been present in the data.
    • Crux Dogatie does something similar in the original Crossbone Gundam story: As a very old, very decrepit man, he makes extensive use of robot stand-ins and ends up developing the original bio-brain system. At the end of the story, he has eight walking WMDs called the Divinidad, all but one piloted by bio-copies; when the final battle starts going poorly, the real one tries to get to Earth so he can personally destroy it while the seven duplicates hold off The Federation and the Crossbone Vanguard.
    • Steel Seven has Callisto's Shadow transferring his consciousness into a bio-brain after his death on Earth, using his telepathic brother's mind as a go-between. This bio-brain is then loaded into the Digitus so that he can fight alongside his still-living twin in the final battle. Notably, Callisto considers this Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence (or at least abandoning his weak, fleshly body) rather than the Body Horror most others would.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00:
    • Innovators have the ability to transfer their consciousness to Veda after their deaths Used primarily by Ribbons and Tieria Erde to cheat death.
    • More than that, Innovades are essentially A.I.s - "Bio-Terminals" - stored within Veda, of varying levels of complexity. An Innovade is dumped into a cloned host body, capable of interfacing with Veda and other Innovades, as a type of artificial Innovator, though they seem incapable of interfacing with actual humans like true Innovators can. In the clearest example, artificial Gundam Meister #874, Hanayo, starts off as being depicted as a hologram, then shifts into a nanomachine body, then is forced into a Haro.
    • This technique is used to amass Ribbon's clone army for the last battle of the series.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray, Lowe gains possession of a strange module from a worshiper of George Glenn, the so-called "First Coordinator". This black box just happens to contain Glenn's actual brain, and eventually Lowe's Bunny-Ears Lawyer teammate Professor hooks it up to a holographic projector, allowing George to captain the Junk Guild's battleship.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • EVA units and the MAGI supercomputer are borderline examples. More like "Soul Uploading" though.
    • The Dummy System is like this and treated as a Dangerous Forbidden Technique, essentially a simulated pilot that's used when Shinji refuses to kill Touji. How bad is it? Well, Rei has to take a look in Rebuild of Evangelion since she is the model for is, and even she is disturbed by it.
  • Rebuild World: It's common for hunters to have a 'black box' of sorts installed in their body as part of an insurance plan to make them into a Full-Conversion Cyborg if their original body dies, which causes Search and Rescue operations to treat dead bodies the same as wounded. It's also possible to back up someone's personality via the old world internet. Both of these serve as a means for villains to come Back from the Dead.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 6 episode 27, Big M. receives an injury that leaves his body completely unmovable, so he has his consciousness uploaded to a big robot. He eventually decides he likes his robot body better than his human body, but finds himself unable to stop fending off Little M. when he implores him not to go through with an installation that would cause him to become a full-time robot, permanently.

    Comic Books 
  • 2000 AD:
    • In Rogue Trooper, three of the protagonist's squadmates were uploaded to chips on their death and integrated into his equipment. (These personality-saving "biochips" are actually an integral feature of all Genetic Infantrymen; they're meant to be recovered in case of death and installed in newly cloned bodies.) Of course, the chip has to be recovered and placed into a slot in the G.I.'s equipment within sixty seconds.
    • Judge Dredd has them as well, though they're huge when they're introduced. One strip in The Simping Detective has disposable variants as a plot point.
  • The Avengers:
    • The Vision's personality is based on an upload of Wonder Man's personality — though in practice, the two of them have never really acted very much alike (not that this prevents him from angsting about it, of course).
    • Ultron, psycho Killer Robot and Avengers enemy, attempts to upload the entire mind of his 'mother', the Wasp, into a female bot that he's created (aptly named Jocasta) for companionship, having brainwashed his "father"/her husband into helping him do it. While the Avengers rescue her before the process could finish (and kill her), Jocasta ends up with enough of Janet's personality to later turn on him and join the Avengers.
    • Ultron himself is retconned as having originated with a botched download by mentally unstable Henry Pym's all-too-flawed engrams.
  • The Battlestar Galactica comic The Final Five has this as the origin of the Thirteenth Tribe. Originally, they were members of the other 12 tribes but after uploading their consciousnesses into new cybernetic bodies were treated as a new group. This includes the idea that the Thirteenth Tribe have committed some kind of 'sin', apparently borne out by the intervention of supernatural/sufficiently advanced beings.
  • Captain America villain the Machinesmith was originally human, but after one battle he was mortally injured in a fall. His servant robots found his body and "program-recorded" his mind, uploading it into a robotic body. He's gotten used to it over the years, though initially he didn't take it well at all.
  • Adam Warren's version of the Dirty Pair has this as a common technology, which plays a role in several of the plots — such as when a rogue agent uses an emergency backup of Yuri's mind and DNA to grow his own Evil Twin to send at the originals.
  • Doctor Aphra: Rur was part of an immortality-seeking Jedi sect who tried to upload himself into a droid. Unfotunately, all he did was copy his mind into the machine, which then believed itself the real Rur and killed the imposter. It's later found and reactivated, even getting into a fight with Darth Vader being being unceremoniously removed and put into storage.
  • This happens to Cliff Steele (Robotman) in Grant Morrison's run of Doom Patrol after the Candlemaker crushes his brain. Fortunately, he's hooked up to the Chief's computer at the time, and his intelligence is downloaded on a disk. Once he figures out what happened, he's able to return to his body, though he's pretty freaked out by the entire process.
  • In Dreadstar, one of the themes is that the main heroes fight against a tyrannical government, only to find out that the new government isn't much better. Willow, one of the main characters, uploads herself to take over the new government's main computer.
  • Iron Man:
    • Tony Stark being the tech geek he is, he couldn't resist the temptation to make a back-up of his brain on a portable hard drive. Came in handy after he ended up wiping his mind at the end of the Worlds Most Wanted arc.
    • The stand-alone comic book Iron Man Hypervelocity is entirely about Tony Stark 2.0, a digital version of himself that occupies his suit. As the comic progresses, he slowly gets corrupted by a rogue virus girl program. The virus turns out to be an amalgam of the various test subjects for the brain uploading research that went into Tony Stark 2.0's creation. Note that Tony Stark didn't perform any of the unethical and torturous research; he merely stole it from the supervillains, corrupt corporations and government conspiracies who did.
  • In the comic reboot of The Jetsons, Rosie the maid is actually the Jetson family's grandmother, who uploaded her mind and memories into a robotic body when her body started failing.
  • Legends of the Dead Earth:
    • In Superman Annual #8, the League of Supermen is mentored and advised by a copy of Superman's consciousness created by computer drones prior to his being killed by Doomsday. Superman communicates with the League in the form of a Hologram in their headquarters.
    • In Superman: The Man of Steel Annual #5, Lex Luthor has managed to live for thousands of years by transferring his consciousness into clone bodies. The current clone, Luthor the 60th, is elderly and decrepit and is preparing to make the transfer to a new, much younger clone. He notes that it becomes more difficult to transfer each time.
    • In the Supergirl Annual #1 story "The Surrogate", a young tooljerk named Cryssia is hooked up to a wave amplifier which connects her mind to an invulnerable robot body on the surface of Praxis IX, a planet with a predominantly methane atmosphere and a surface temperature close to 1,000 degrees, so that its platinum reserves can be mined. However, almost as soon as she is connected, Cryssia's entire consciousness is transferred to the robot body. Having been told by the scientist who subjected her to this treatment that the mass of the robot body can be reformed at will, Cryssia transforms it into a giant, golden version of Supergirl with the ability to fly. In her childhood, her parents had told her stories of Supergirl's legendary exploits on Old Earth, and she had always imagined herself as the hero. Cryssia uses her new body to destroy the space station orbiting Praxis IX and kill the scientist who did this to her. Although her original body is destroyed, the process that transferred her consciousness to the robot body was irreversible.
  • The Ultimate Universe Continuity Reboot of Paperinik New Adventures has this trope when Lyonard D'Aq uploads his brain as a side result of him exploring a virtual world. Then this trope becomes a Chekhov's Gun when Lyonard is Killed Off for Real (or, more precisely, devolves into the monstrous Lyozard and then is killed off), after which Uno downloads the data version of his brain into a (superpowered, of course) bionic body.
  • Savage Dragon features a number of characters with Powered Armor who had previously downloaded their brainwaves into the suit, allowing them to continue fighting long after death.
  • In the future society of Spiritus, convicted criminals have their consciousness uploaded to android bodies programmed to perform manual labor.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
  • Quetzacoatl in Tom Strong has destructive brain-scanning technology. A laser is used to (destructively) read a person's brain.
  • In Transmetropolitan, people can destructively vacate their bodies, using their chemical energy to bootstrap a cloud of nanomachines that then houses their consciousness. This being Transmet, they've formed their own weird subculture. Similar technology is used to revive cryonically frozen heads by downloading their brains into cloned bodies.
  • The Ultimates: After the Maker casually kills Tony Stark while experimenting with his brain, Tony is able to upload his consciousness into his Iron Man suit due to his brain having prolonged exposure to the Infinity Gem in it, which gave him the power to upload into anything with a CPU. Tony later uses all the Infinity Gems to create a new body for himself which he uploads himself into.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Julian Lazarus refuses to accept his son's death and thinks that he's found a way to preserve his son's mind in his lab, uploaded into an artificial intelligence. He's not done so and rather created an A.I. designed to behave in the manner he remembers his son, but he refuses to listen when told this, even though prior to his son's death he was well aware of what his project was capable of.
    • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): Veronica Cale is developing brain mapping and recording technology. Her best friend Dr. Anderson having died testing it leads to Anderson's mapped brain being the base of the AI that becomes the new version of Dr. Cyber.
  • In X-Men: The Krakoan Age, it's revealed that this was the true purpose of Cerebro, with Forge designing the system and Xavier secretly using it to upload the minds of every mutant on the planet into a giant database (which itself has several copies located across the world), which can now be installed into a duplicate body upon said mutant's death; with the help of a select group of mutants known as the Five.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Blue Sky: It's revealed that Wheatley used to be a human, too. The memories of the uploading could definitely be considered Mind Rape, since at the same time the Aperture scientists ripped out their victim's memories. They keep the body, though, and the story avoids the "cloning" question by downloading Wheatley's memories back into his original body.
  • Encrypt within the Dark, to Save the Clockwork of a Heart: Queen uploads her mind into the network to escape being hunted, but Roboppi outright says that she's in too much pain from the transfer that she busts them out of prison to make it stop. Ryoken speculates that she will slowly lose her humanity without the connection to her body. It's also discovered that she deleted parts of herself in order to make the pain stop, but it made her less human.
  • EVA Sessions: Someplace Vast and Dry: This accidentally occurs to Kyoko when her soul completely migrates into Unit-02 one minute after her death. She is able to access the MAGI supercomputer's resources and continue to converse with her living colleagues through computer terminals, although only Gendo, Yui and Naoko are privy to this secret.
  • Fallout: Equestria: Crusader Maneframes are AI supercomputers, and they are specifically designed so that a pony can upload their mind to it if the Crusader goes rogue. However, the upload is just data, with no soul, so it's considered a last resort. Elder Cottage Cheese of the Steel Rangers tries to use the Black Book to upload his soul in addition to his mind, allowing him to truly live forever. He fails, but it turns out Princess Celestia herself had already done something like that centuries ago. She uploaded herself and her soul to the Single Pegasus Project Crusader Maneframe, intending to use it to control the weather. Unfortunately, she was unaware that Rainbow Dash had disconnected the Crusader from the controls, as she didn't want "a machine that thinks it's a pony" in charge. Celestia was left trapped, able to watch the entire Wasteland but unable to do anything to help.
  • Friendship is Optimal involves humans uploading to the virtual world of Equestria, which is presented as a utopia compared to Earth.
  • Mass Effect: Human Revolution:
    • Discussed and subverted in chapter 28 — Shepard's Soul Catcher has everything that should be needed to reconstruct her, and yet doesn't actually have her.
      He took out the hexagonal chip from his coat, the Soul Catcher that contained Shepard's memories, her mind, her skills... but ironically, not her soul.
    • In chapter 35, we learn that part of the process of making Snatchers involves making a copy of a person's memories.
  • Protocol Cy-Fox: Lt. Miles "Tails" Prower of the Keplerian Republic Space Navy is killed by Metal Sonic Mark V but preserved within a cortical stack backup chip and slotted into a MAARS Mark IX security robot by Janus Rotarl and Maria Robotnik.
  • Scoob and Shag: Penny duplicated her own mind into the robot she built, giving him a personality. Initially, he considered himself a part of her; later on, he developed his own personality and individuality as "the Inspector".
  • The Student Prince: Merlin does a variant when Excalibur malfunctions, by transferring Kilgharrah to the plane to make it fly without the use of both its engines.
  • Transcendent Humanity: This is central to the setting, as most humans are uploaded, can jump across the network from server to server, and occupy temporary physical bodies ranging from biological humans and mechanical soldiers to vehicles and starships.
  • Vigil: Commonplace, as the story draws a lot of technology from Eclipse Phase, where this is widespread practice. Humans were the first to develop cortical stacks, which save a constantly-updated brain-state, although this was due to reverse-engineering Ethereal technology. The turians developed their own rough approximation in the form of Exos, although it wasn't until they met humanity that they could directly upload a brain into an Exo body.
  • Voice of the Condor:
    • Malinche uploads her mind into the Dark Condor aircraft to survive a terminal brain injury, using the Crown of Sundar that provides mental powers.
    • Taken further by chapter 40. Esteban's mother, Muran'Kel, volunteers to become the Custodian of the Cities of Gold. She died as her brain was integrated into the cities' computer network, but her mind lives on as a holographic construct. This allows her to jump from one city to another to maintain them from within, and even manipulates the orichalcum sand in Kumlar to build herself a solid body.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The 6th Day features a way of making copies of a person mind that can be uploaded into clone bodies. Unfortunately as uploading is often done after death you get memories of dying.
  • Deconstructed in Advantageous. Gwen, the protagonist, loses her job as a corporate spokesperson due to age and racial discrimination, just as the company that's firing her is perfecting Brain Uploading technology. In order to support her daughter, she asks to be put into a younger body and return to her job as the company's spokesperson. The technology is still in its infancy. When the newer, younger Gwen feels disconnected and distant from her daughter, she finds out that she wasn't "uploaded" so much as "photocopied". Fragments of Gwen's memories and experiences were put into a new host body and blended with the host's personality; in short, the original Gwen is dead, and the new spokesperson is an entirely new being.
  • Avatar: The planet is revealed to have a nervous system which the Na'vi have evolved the ability to interface with, allowing them to "upload and download" memories, which they believe to be a spiritual connection with nature and the afterlife. The Na'vi are even able to transfer a mind between bodies, though it is clearly not something to attempt frivolously since they link the whole tribe at once for the ritual at a "nerve center" they consider sacred.
  • In Avatar: The Way of Water, it turns out that RDA figured out how to save "backups" of people's brains and have downloaded the backups of the marines who died in the first film into an army of recombinant human-Na'vi clones.
  • In Batman & Robin, Alfred uploads his "brain algorithms" into the batcomputer to give the new sidekick a briefing.
  • In Chappie, Chappie uploads Deon's consciousness into a Scout whilst the latter is dying from a gunshot wound, and then later uploads Yolandi's consciousness into another custom-built Scout after she'd died. Chappie also gets around the problem of his low battery by uploading himself into a discarded Scout body nearby.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Possibly JARVIS in the Iron Man movie.
    • Arnim Zola, the scientist from Captain America: The First Avenger, succumbed to disease in the 1970s, forcing him to upload his mind to a computer system. It only helped him, as he is able to aid the modern HYDRA, which he revived as a shadow organization within the US government, execute their plan without the restrictions of age slowing him down in the sequel. Since this happened back when computers were still reel-to-reel, his brain requires a truly massive amount of storage space, in both the literal sense and the technological sense.
    • An odd case in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Rather than a human attempting to upload their mind from a body into a computer, it's Ultron, a computer program, attempting to upload his mind from the network into a specially designed body. Later, Tony and Bruce upload J.A.R.V.I.S. into the same body, despite opposition from Steve, Wanda and Pietro, in the process creating Vision.
  • Overdrawn at the Memory Bank calls this a "dopple" (as in doppelganger). Once a human mind is uploaded to a spinning cube, they can take a vacation and experience life as an animal. Aaron Fingle's dopple is botched when the technicians lose his body and are forced to upload his consciousness to a mainframe as an interim solution. The film indicates that he has a limited amount of time before his consciousness degrades to the point of non-functionality; it isn't really made clear if this is a function of the transfer, the inability of his body to continue function without the mind, or some other factor.
  • Replicas: The protagonist's research involves copying a person's mind and transferring it to a new body, either robotic or a clone of their original one.
  • R.O.T.O.R. suggests that part of the protagonist's mind was uploaded to the killer robot.
  • In Singularity, Elias and Damien might have been uploaded to Kronos's memory, although it's left ambiguous as to whether Kronos just likes to use Elias's figure, and a later destruction of Damien's body kills his virtual self. It's also implied that Andrew was created by a full upload of his meatspace analogue, complete with troublesome human memories of his mother.
  • Star Trek:
    • In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, after V'Ger scans and destroys Ilia, it sends a robot replica of her to the Enterprise with her memories and personality stored in it. Eventually, the crew manages to re-awaken her mind in the machine.
    • Similarly, in Star Trek: Nemesis, Data tries to help B4 become "more than his programming," and uploads his experiences and memories into B4's much simpler brain. Later, when Captain Picard tells B4 of Data's death, B4 is understandably confused but later starts absentmindedly singing a song that Data did. When he gets stuck on a stanza, Picard prompts him with the next line, wondering if possibly Data is actually somewhere in B4.
  • Torture Garden: In "Terror Over Hollywood", the Hollywood elite of actors, directors, and producers who seem to maintain their popularity and youth for decades have all had their brains uploaded into robot bodies.
  • In Transcendence, Will is uploaded into a computer in an attempt to save his life after being shot. Evelyn gets uploaded in the climax just before the virus destroys Will, allowing her to see the truth of Will's actions.
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction has Galvatron, who is really Megatron in a new body, having uploaded his essence into a human-made body.

By Author
  • Greg Egan loves this trope and the philosophical questions it poses:
    • In "Learning to Be Me", children are fitted with a "jewel" — a small solid-state computer that monitors all brain activity and emulates it, guiding (or forcing) a slaved A.I. to be a mental clone of the growing child. As middle age approaches, it is traditional to have the failing grey goo scooped out of your skull and let the jewel take over. If you are the failing grey goo, you have a horrible dilemma to face — but are you absolutely sure you aren't the jewel?
    • Permutation City centers around the topic of brain uploading. Simulations, including environments such as cities, are created for people who create virtual clones of themselves. For research purposes the protagonist himself uploads his brain multiple times, yet the virtual clones kept killing themselves, so he chooses to make an experiment.
    • Its Spiritual Successor Diaspora is in a world where most of the population are uploaded minds who live in robotic shells, virtual-reality environments, or both. This gives them great control over their own minds: xenobiologists can make alien copies of their consciousnesses to act as emissaries and translators, artists can loan out their sense of aesthetics, space travelers can slow their perceptions and suspend their capacity for boredom, and so on. By the second part of the book, most characters are the "descendants" of uploaded individuals and have never been organic.
    • Schild's Ladder and Incandescence are in a far-future civilization where people can copy or transfer their minds between organic and cybernetic chassis at their convenience; space travel is usually done by commissioning a new body on the destination planet and then beaming the mind over. Oddly, Schild's Ladder mentions some Fantastic Racism against people who exist entirely in virtual reality, but the notion that they would try to assimilate the entire universe into a computational medium is mocked as a goofy conspiracy theory.
  • Peter F. Hamilton:
    • In the Greg Mandel trilogy, Philip Evans, the aging CEO of Event Horizon, has grand visions for the future but is dying with only his teenage granddaughter to carry on the torch, so he uploads his brain into a neural network bioware core. It also works as an Upgrade Artifact, enabling him to run a Mega-Corp with the singular direction of a family corporation.
    • Edenists in The Night's Dawn Trilogy upload themselves to the neural strata (brain) of living habitats at the moment of their deaths. Notably, the individual's consciousness only exists as a discrete entity for a few decades before it is absorbed into the habitat's gestalt personality. Also, souls objectively exist. They are distinct from a person's consciousness and are not uploaded.
    • In his Commonwealth Saga, humanity developed an artificial intelligence, the SI, in the 22nd century. It set out on its own and took over an (uninhabited) planet, but still maintains cordial, if slightly inscrutable, relations with humanity in the 2380s, when the story takes place. Occasionally, the SI will extend an offer to an individual to be uploaded when they die. Which, thanks to rejuvenation and re-life technology, is entirely voluntary.
    • By the time of the Void Trilogy, over 1,000 years after the Commonwealth Saga, humanity has developed the Advanced Neural Activity system (ANA) as a repository for human consciousnesses on Earth. ANA is the official government of Earth, definitely the most powerful faction in the human Greater Commonwealth, and possibly one of the most powerful physical or semi-physical factions in the galaxy. Important uploaded folks maintain organic bodies in storage for when they need to interact with physical humans or aliens. Less important people can have a body cloned for them upon request if they want to stretch their legs. Few do. ANA is explicitly recognized as a stepping-stone for humanity on the path to going post-physical.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Future History series, specifically Time Enough for Love and its sequels, this capability is identified as part of the medical rejuvenation technology used in cases of extreme physical deterioration, wherein a human being's brain is scanned and uploaded to a computer while a new one is cloned; said clone then has the saved brain downloaded back into it. The same technology is used in reverse when the computer Minerva decides to become human — she creates a composite clone body and downloads herself into it once it's mature.
  • Uploading is a recurring theme in Robert Reed's works:
    • The short story "Finished" features a destructive form of brain uploading, called "finishing". The patient is immersed in a tub of microscopic machines, which infiltrate the body and begin to scan and record everything while destroying the tissue to power themselves. The scanned brain is then downloaded into a robotic body designed to mimic human appearance. However, because the scan is only of a few seconds of brain activity and because of the non-rewritable nature of the robotic brain, emotions recorded when someone is "finished" remain lingering for the rest of the time they remain alive in their artificial body. Thus, if someone is finished on a good day, they'll always be in a fairly good mood, but if they are finished while terminally ill or suffering, they'll be suffering for hundreds of years.
    • The Winemaster has tens of thousands of people upload their minds into tiny, fantastically fast robotic bodies. Uploading became an illegal activity in the United States after a number died due to heavy atoms from cosmic rays destroying their minds, and uploaded minds are considered to not be living entities — as almost none of the current transhuman individuals were originally even human, instead being artificially built to resemble humans. The story follows a group of transhuman individuals fleeing the destruction of their shielded enclave in a Buick, which functions as a Generation Ship because of how fast the transhumans live.
  • Several works by Robert J. Sawyer explore this trope:
    • The Terminal Experiment has a scientist scan and copy his mind three times, to run an experiment: One is left without knowledge of mortality to simulate immortality, another is stripped of all physical sense, to explore a disembodied afterlife, and one is left unaltered as a control. This soon goes horribly wrong as they escape onto the internet, and one starts killing people.
    • The short story Identity Theft also deals with some of the ramifications of this. One of them being, if a second copy of a person is made and you destroy one of them, is it murder?
    • Mindscan was built upon Identity Theft where it has this being commercialized. Rich people get what's essentially a super MRI that creates a perfect duplicate of the brain at the time and it gets uploaded into an android body. The originals then retire to a lunar colony that's extra-legal, and the androids will claim to be the humans and designed to look like them at their peak of life. The book then revolves over What Measure Is A Nonhuman as one android version has to fight over her personhood.
    • Red Planet Blues portrays a Martian colony where this technology is commonplace and normal. The few people who object on the grounds that a copied mind is soulless are seen as weird.
  • Vernor Vinge:
    • The short story "The Cookie Monster" has a decidedly unethical variant. A scientist uploads his students and employees into a simulated computer environment without their knowledge and uses them to do tasks that require a human mind at computer speeds, and "resets" them after a set period (a day for tech help, months for researchers, etc.) to keep them from catching on. It's not revealed whether "reintegration" with their real-world counterparts is possible, though as two of the protagonists are copies of the same person and another is a copy of someone who was murdered after upload, it's definitely not possible for all of them.
    • Discussed in the novella "True Names" as a possible solution to Erythrina's health problems — the possibility is remote, but not necessarily completely out-of-reach.
By Work
  • In Accelerando, uploads are legally the same person as their predecessor — to prevent people from running up huge debts, copying themselves, and then committing suicide — and work by neural simulation.
  • In The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Jenna Fox wakes up after being in a coma and finds out that she is only a clone of herself.
  • In the Agent G series, this turns out to be the origin of the Letters. They think they've just had their memories wiped but are actually clones of a bunch of deceased agents who are being employed as expendable soldiers for the International Refugee Society's clients.
  • One of the main characters in The Android's Dream is the uploaded personality of Brian, the protagonist's high-school friend, who brain-scanned himself as a prank just before graduating, and then died in combat shortly thereafter. Brian eventually discovers that many of the events in the book have been orchestrated by another uploaded personality, who's been around for about a century. Unlike Brian, her brain was scanned while she was old and the technology was still in its infancy. In fact, the strain ended up killing her, but the Virtual Ghost lived on.
  • In one book in the Animorphs series, a species of intelligent birds on the Hork-Bajir homeworld have the technology to create computer-backups of a person's mind, which can be inserted into someone else's brain after the original's death, to temporarily share their body. The Andalite female Aldrea was stored in this way. In The Ellimist Chronicles, the Ellimist is captured by a creature the size of a moon, who can absorb memories of any being it entangled. He eventually breaks free by downloading all the memories into himself. The trope appears again later when he starts making copies of himself, until he has become an entire starfleet. The copies never branch off to become separate people, however, as their minds are always in contact with each other via ship-to-ship communication.
  • In the Apotheosis (Swann) series, Residents of Salmagundi all have their minds uploaded into the Hall of Minds at or immediately before their deaths, for later downloading by their descendants.
  • Discussed in The Biology of Star Trek. Athena Andreadis's general conclusion is "it's theoretically possible assuming a ludicrous amount of highly reliable data storage, but if it could be done, it's very likely you would go insane".
  • In Borgel, Evil Toad's Great Popsicle is a computer simulation of its deceased creator's brain contained within a papier-mâché popsicle.
  • Cats vs. Robots: This is what the Singularity Chip is capable of. The Wengrods use it to copy Obi's brain into a robot body.
  • The Century Long Journey by Vladimir Tendryakov has Earth communicating with another race 36 light years away. There is no Faster-Than-Light Travel in any form, so they take a person with eidetic memory, upload his brain, and broadcast it to the other guys. The other planet grows a body for him, learns about Earth, teaches him everything about itself, and sends his mind back.
  • This is the entire plot of Circuit of Heaven by Dennis Danvers. 99% or so of humanity has uploaded their consciousness into "The Bin", a giant computer storage that lets them all live virtual lives. Those who chose to remain behind live in a Crapsack World where everything's been abandoned. They are allowed to temporarily visit their relatives within The Bin, doing a temporary brain uploading.
  • This appears in the Council Wars novel There Will Be Dragons. Rachel, one of the protagonists, has a friend who gets transferred into nanites and dies as a result of the power loss when the Net goes down, although it's stated that she might be revived if the power returns and she'd had a good memory storage system installed. The nanites are regarded as being people, but one of the problems mentioned with the procedure is that it 'locks' the person at the mental and physical age they were when it was done, meaning that the friend is stuck as a teenager for the rest of her life.
  • The Culture has brain uploading as a matter of course; human mindstates get scanned and transmitted out of danger.
  • In Destination: Void by Frank Herbert, the entire purpose of the apparently impossible, deliberately crippled interstellar colonization mission is determined by the crew to be to force them to create (because they are doomed to die if they don't), beyond the reach of the disaster that would likely ensue, an artificial intelligence beyond the capacity of a human brain. This is done by first building a physical analog of a human brain, but with several times the complexity, then once it has displayed the necessary capabilities, uploading the mind of one of the creators into it, and parts of the personalities of the others. This results in the creation of a god, like in all Frank Herbert books.
  • Digitesque: One of the many wonders of the ancients. The gods casually call up a man who died over a thousand years ago to talk to Ada. It turns out that the "ghosts" are uploads from Elysium, the artificial afterlife, invading the real world to steal bodies. Some sort of alien code interfered centuries ago to allow them to do that, and then when the coders tried to fix it, they corrupted the afterlife and turned it into a Hell. While it's unclear what the original motivation of the ghosts was, now they've all been driven insane and just want to live again.
    AI: That was one of many motivations for the Kronos Project. Universal access to an afterlife. The death of death, in the words of one of the project founders.
  • This is common in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. Anyone with enough Whuffie can backup themselves at will, a restore is made using a clone body. Since the process is so easy and basically free, it's common for people to swap their body for a clone-and-restore for things like the common cold.
  • Fall, or Dodge in Hell is all about how brain uploading is developed as a route to life after death. After Dodge goes into a permanent coma, his will stipulates that his vast fortune be used to develop the technology, making him the first person to live in a digital afterlife. However, things get complicated when new arrivals start to disagree on what direction that their digital afterlife should take.
  • The Fall Revolution books have brain backups, or minds that get copied from brain to computer and back to brain.
  • In the strange society depicted in Feersum Endjinn, when a person dies their mind is automatically uploaded by organic systems in their brain (not implants; they grow there naturally implying they are germ-line genetic engineering). They then get downloaded into physical bodies again the first seven deaths, then spend their next eight rebirths solely in a virtual reality. Then they die for good. Nondestructive uploads can also be made, and their experiences reintegrated at a later date. This allows for the possibility of people uploading copies of themselves to have a passionate affair in a suitably private virtuality, and then redownload the experiences into their minds and fully appreciate them later without interfering with work or family life.
  • Fool's War by Sarah Zettel appears to have brain uploading technology. In actuality, it just has A.I.s who've figured out how to download themselves into human bodies — the uploading process doesn't work on anyone who started their life as human.
  • In The Footprints of God by Greg Iles, a super-MRI is used to scan the brain and upload the resulting model into a computer. The uploaded person is fully connected to the Internet, and able to learn things in seconds. The person being uploaded is a billionaire with a god complex. Uh-oh.
  • In Genome, Alex eventually discovers that "Edgar", the so-called artificial virtual personality, is actually the uploaded mind of Edward Garlitski, a brilliant geneticist, whose ideas were so controversial that The Emperor ordered his mind to be uploaded into a gel crystal and his body destroyed (it doesn't help that, in the prequel, Edward's Opposite-Sex Clone tried to start a rebellion in the Empire). This probably means that the original Garlitski is dead and gone, and "Edgar" is just a copy.
  • Several The History of the Galaxy novels deal with this.
    • During the First Galactic War, the Earth Alliance serv-machines used human pilots working in direct neural contact with A.I.s. Over time, an A.I. would learn from the pilot and even adopt some of the pilot's personality traits. One novel involves a lead designer putting an extremely complex A.I. module into a new series of serv-machines with a lot more Data Crystals. All the members of that battalion end up dying in battle. However, their machines are recovered, repaired, and reused. Over time, the A.I.s end up resurrecting the personalities of the dead pilots. Later (in-universe chronology) novels deal with the implications of the Imported Alien Phlebotinum called "logr". A logr is a small Data Crystal that's also an incredibly powerful computer. They were specifically designed millions of years ago to preserve the minds of dead Logrians after death in a fully functional virtual world. Once humans get their hands on the tech, the implications are staggering. No one needs to die permanently anymore. They can survive in their own private world. Additionally, reliable cloning tech means that Resurrective Immortality could become a reality. This, though, is clamped down on, as it presents so many legal issues (e.g., inheritance, property, debts), it's easier to just make it illegal to clone a new body. Ultimately, a solution is found by sending volunteers to faraway worlds to settle them and start brand-new lives. There's also a very real fear of Immortality Immorality, as evidenced by the Harammins, whose Immortal Quota has ruled a stagnant empire for three million years by using this tech.
    • The main character of the "John Mitchell St. Ivo" story arc has his mind uploaded into that of an identical-looking android after being fatally wounded by a security bot. In one novel, he has to constantly prove his right as a sentient being, as most just assume he's a run-of-the-mill self-learning bot (who don't qualify as sentient beings in this 'verse, for the most part). Later on, his android body is damaged, so his "crystal sphere" is plugged into that of a Humongous Mecha instead (thanks to Plug 'n' Play Technology). By the end of the arc, he grows an appropriately aged clone for himself and downloads his mind into it.
  • In Hurog, Oreg had a variant of this done to him. His father gave him a bowl of soup that made him fall asleep, and when Oreg woke up, he was castle Hurog. He feels it if the castle is damaged, can see everything in it, and can make doors lead to places where they shouldn't be able to lead, such as directly from a cave deep under the castle to the protagonist's bedroom. He does have a body, which is not his actual body, but a magical copy that his father gave him because "it amused him" — this fact enabled all owners of castle Hurog to inflict pain on Oreg if they wished to punish him. It is implied that many of them wished to do so. Made worse by the fact that Oreg can't commit suicide; only his current owner can kill him.
  • In the Jacob's Ladder Trilogy, all Exalts upload their minds to their symbiotic nanite colonies. In the event of their death, their mind can be transferred to the Library and stored for access by necromancers or downloaded into a Body Backup Drive. To prevent their enemies from coming back in this way, some people make a habit of consuming the colonies of those they kill.
  • The Jenny Casey series by Elizabeth Bear features a sentient A.I. with the memory and behavioral patterns of physicist Richard Feynman. Despite thinking of himself as "Dick" or "Richard", he's very clear on being a different person than the original Feynman. He also takes considerable advantage of the increased processor power he finds, duplicating himself many times and eventually becoming a sort of guardian to the entire Earth.
  • In The Last Holey Mannote  by V.C. Angell, the great dark secret of Reconstructed civilization is that since the mind recordings are analog, people lose memories every time they are backed up, and usually don't even realize it has happened. The destructive uploading process is also notoriously unreliable, and many humans don't survive even in electronic form.
  • In Line of Delirium, Resurrective Immortality called aTan (anti-Thanatos) is achieved by first performing an excruciatingly painful molecular scan (for the Matter Replicator) and implanting the person with a "neural net", which appears to be a series of brain implants with a Subspace Ansible. According to the official story, at the moment of death, the net beams the total sum of the person's knowledge (including the memory of dying) into the aTan Corporation's databanks. If the person's resurrection has been paid (always in advance), the nearest aTan facility replicates a new body based on the saved template and downloads the person's mind into it. The real truth is that it's impossible for a neural net to send out so much information in a single burst, especially since it's entirely possible for it to be damaged or destroyed during the person's death. Instead, the net is constantly transmitting new memories, and the end of the transmission is treated as death. Attempts to block the transmission trigger a resurrection, except the new body might have all the person's memories but none of the consciousness. Should the original find a way to kill himself, the new body suddenly becomes a full-fledged person. That's right, Our Souls Are Different. It's also possible, but highly illegal, to record and look through a person's memories like an audio-visual film.
  • A destructive variation happens to the main character of Koji Suzuki's Loop, who volunteers to messily get himself uploaded to a virtual reality in order to save the world from super-cancer.
  • The existing of this technology is a major plot point in Lucifer's Star, as its discovery allows the creation of clones with the existing technology of bioroids. The protagonist, Cassius Mass, has to deal with the fact one has been made of him and it's being used to serve as a figurehead for a Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters organization he opposes. The trick being it's a more idealistic and bloodthirsty past version of his present self. Cassius also encounters a similar clone of his sister and late wife.
  • Mirror Project: After Bill Vargas's wife Lynn is rendered vegetative by a car crash, Bill has her severely damaged brain digitized so that doctors can better examine it. All of them tell him that there's no hope that she'll ever regain consciousness, so Bill lets the simulator fill in the damaged spaces with its own code, resulting in an entity that's part Lynn, part machine.
  • The Nexus Series: Several attempts were made to upload someone to a computer brain. One was reduced to reciting poetry endlessly, while another was an American billionaire who decided that he was a god afterwards and had to be destroyed before he crashed the entire grid. We soon learn that Su-Yong Shu is the first successful upload of a person to a quantum computer system, which was done as a last-ditch effort to save her life after an assassination attempt. Part of the reason why she hasn't gone like the rest is because she also has a clone body running Nexus 5 that can interact with her stored consciousness. After this body is killed, however...
  • Noon: 22nd Century includes a short story in which the brain uploading technology is first attempted on a dying genius's brain. This procedure involves shutting down an area for miles lest any EM emissions interfere with the process. For the same reason, perpetual rain clouds are induced in the area to block solar radiation. The containers for the mind are large buildings full of gel. This makes one character to wonder if everyone will take up as much space after an upload. The other character thinks that anyone else's mind will probably fit into a suitcase. Unfortunately, the subject dies with only 98% of the process complete, making this a partial success.
  • October Daye: Dryads normally live inside trees. After her grove was cut down, April the dryad escaped, and January O'Leary managed to put her consciousness into an information "tree" in a computer server. Later on, in A Local Habitation, it turns out that the secret project that ALH was working on was a way to do this to all fae, and the murderer was using it to kill people by uploading their minds.
  • In Old Man's War, when 75-year-olds join the Colonial Defense Force, they're told that they will have healthy lives. What they're not told is that they will be injected with tens of thousands of nanobots, which will perform continuous brain scans in order to get their patterns, while the cadets are put through a number of tests to trigger certain emotions and mental processes. After a few days, their minds are transferred to a quickly grown youthful body partly based on their own DNA (but heavily modified for Space Marine duty). The process takes a few minutes, but during it, the person feels as if he's watching the procedure from two viewpoints at once (i.e., through the eyes of both bodies). After synchronization is achieved, the doctor cuts the link and shuts down the old body's brain. It's not stated what would happen if the old brain isn't shut down (i.e., would there now be two versions of the same person walking around?). The legal issues are averted, since the cadets are already legally dead back on Earth and can never go back. After their tour of duty is complete, they may retire to civilian life, at which point the procedure is repeated, and they're loaded into a proper young clone of themselves.
  • In Otherland, the villains plan to upload their minds to the Otherland network (and commit suicide to avoid duplication problems). It fails; however, Orlando finds himself uploaded to the network after his apparent death, and it eventually transpires that the version of Paul Jonas who's been appearing throughout the series is an upload; after his Heroic Sacrifice, the main characters meet his physical counterpart. Mr. Sellars does this in the end, too.
  • In Please Don't Tell My Parents I Have a Nemesis, Penny invents brain transfer technology, which she uses to give The Apparition a body, and then uses to create a heroic duplicate of herself to fight in an effort to establish a separate villainous identity so that she can move to being a superhero. Please Don't Tell My Parents You Believe Her follows up with the climax of the prior book, with Penny desperately seeking a way to get her brain back in the right body.
  • Post-Self: In the 22nd century, brain uploading into a virtual reality known as "The System" is developed. By the 24th century, the System is hosted on a space station in Lagrange orbit, and Earth's ecosystem has degraded to the point that governments are paying people to upload. A major theme is the impact of "forking", creating copies of uploaded people, on personal identity.
  • In The Quantum Thief, most of the humanity live as Gogols, mind uploads that can be copied and modified for different tasks as their superiors see fit, in planet-sized gubernya diamond brains of the Sobornost upload collective. Meanwhile, Earth has been taken over by out-of-control nanotech, which absorbs and contains human minds, but doesn't give them embodiments, resulting in centuries of sensory deprivation, and most often insanity. Finally, a rival upload collective, the Zoku, imprint their minds on quantum states of matter that can't be copied, embracing the unpredictability principle of the quantum mechanics that the Sobornost abhor.
  • In Rats, Bats and Vats, this turns out to be something that can be done with Rats and Bats, which are Uplifted Animals created by installing neural cyberware (called "soft-cyber" in series) into genetically engineered animals; because their memories and personalities are ultimately rooted in the soft-cybers, extracting the implants and then re-installing them in a new brain allows them to be resurrected. In the sequel novel, Ariel, a rattess, gets killed by the now openly hostile Korozhet and has her soft-cyber installed into a mindwiped human woman; their intention was to question her, but things got out of hand. While she's not entirely comfortable in the new body, she gets over it quite quickly; she can finally take her Interspecies Romance with her human cohort, Fitzurgh, to a physical level as a result.
  • In Ready Player Two, the Big Bad is Anorak, which is revealed to be a digital copy of the late James Halliday instead of merely his OASIS avatar. Unfortunately, he's also a Flawed Prototype, since Halliday erased a sizable chunk of his memory in an attempt to keep the A.I. stable, but it ended up having the opposite effect. Halliday later perfected the process, testing it out on Kira Underwood, his best friend's wife, whom he always hoped to woo. He copied her mind without her knowledge not long before her death, but the copy turned out to be exact, and she rejected him. At the end of the quest, Kira's digital copy Lucosia gives Wade the Rod of Resurrection, which allows him to bring back anyone who has ever put on an ONI headset, which copied their mind every time and updated it with new memories after every usage. Wade uses it to resurrect Og, who has died the previous day while battling Anorak (which was also the first and only time he put on an ONI headset), reuniting the lovers. Samantha resurrects her late grandmother. Wade realizes that no one ever needs to die permanently anymore.
  • Reaper (2016): At eighteen, people leave their physical bodies behind and are uploaded into Game, a massive multi-world artificial environment where they can custom-make their bodies and have adventures, like fighting monsters, living as fantasy beings, et cetera.
  • Featured twice in Red Planet and Other Stories by Kevin Griffis, once as a destructive upload forced on an unwilling victim, and in a later story as an emergency measure to save the mind of someone badly injured with little hope of survival.
  • The Resurrected Man by Sean Williams revolves around a form of Destructive Teleportation in which a person is scanned in mind-boggling detail and then recreated at a different physical location. One subplot involves the creation of brain uploading as a spin-off technology: same scans, but instead of recreating the person in a physical location, they're recreated as a computer simulation.
  • The Revelation Space Series has both neural ("alpha-level") and behavioral ("beta-level") uploads.
    • Alpha-level uploads are considered sentient in their own right, and when they're first developed constructing them kills the human in question. Even after nondestructive scans become possible, destructive alpha-level scans achieve a higher resolution and a more accurate simulation of the mind they are based upon. Most people prefer nondestructive uploads with periodic updates, for obvious reasons. It's also implied that it takes a certain strength of will and personality to become an upload... many of the first group of uploadees who undergo destructive scanning do not thrive in their new virtualities and many crash or became corrupted. Later systems presumably had this bug ironed out, though it is never explicitly mentioned.
    • Beta-level simulations are generally not considered sentient, although a particularly good beta-level simulation that was trained over a very long period of time may well appear sentient if you don't know any better, to the point that it may as well be considered an Artificial Intelligence.
  • While not computerized, characters in Skulduggery Pleasant can sleep for three nights with a gemstone called an echo stone beside them, and thereby imprinting it with their personality and memories. It then generates a hologram which can also talk but is still immaterial. The stone needs to be recharged by putting it in its cradle, which takes about a year.
  • In John DeChancie's Skyway series, the protagonist's father has his mind preserved by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens and acts as the A.I. for his truck. Later he's given a pseudo-organic body by other even Sufficiently More Advanced Aliens.
  • One of the central themes of the Rudy Rucker novel Software. It comes with a host of drawbacks (the scanning process involves powerful lasers vaporizing the brain, one layer of cells at a time, and even once scanned, the only computers that can run a program as intense as a full intelligence are bulky and require constant cooling to below-freezing temperatures), but it does give a whole host of benefits as well, as the mind can be projected into robotic drones that are fit, never age or get sick, can toggle drunkenness on-demand, and are ultimately expendable.
  • Spin: In the Distant Finale of Vortex, the various human colonies manage to use Hypothetical technology to upload their minds into the Hypothetical network prior to the end of the universe. Isaac Dvali does the same. At the moment of the universe's collapse, they manage to transfer themselves into The Multiverse and exist as raw data. Isaac eventually grows weary of this existence and voluntarily ends it by downloading his memories into the mind of a brain-damaged young man in another universe (which appears to be a time-shifted version of the primary 'verse), hoping to change the fate of the man he admired.
  • Sprawl Trilogy:
    • Neuromancer has a ROM chip with a human being's personality stored on it. When plugged in, it acts like an AI.
    • Later, more complete uploads can be made with the advent of more complex storage and simulation systems. 3Jane's Aleph in Mona Lisa Overdrive ended up running several human minds after their bodies died, and it was suggested it may have been used to record many more.
  • This becomes the plot point in StarCraft: The Dark Templar Saga, in which a Protoss female named Zamara copies her consciousness into the brain of Jake Ramsey, a human archaeologist. While she is able to communicate with him and grant him some of her Psychic Powers, the process will ultimately kill Jake. They travel to a Dark Templar world where priests record memories of still-living Protoss onto Khaydarin crystals. This is different from what is done by the Khala-worshiping Protoss, who have specialized individuals known as Preservers, who store entire consciousnesses (not just memories) in their heads, "uploaded" through the Hive Mind at the moment of death. Zamara is the last Preserver. The goal is to put Zamara's consciousness onto one such crystal. Unfortunately, Zamara realizes that the Dark Templar only copy memories, not entire individuals. However, the unusually large crystal they use not only manages to contain the entire consciousness of a Preserver but also that of a Dark Archon who threatens to destroy everything.
  • In Star Trek: Cold Equations, which follows on from the Next Gen examples below, it's revealed that Noonien Soong transferred his mind to an android body in a destructive process. He believes — but is not certain — that he is the "real" person, having experienced continuity of consciousness during the procedure. He briefly worries that he may be an android who has murdered his creator, but quickly realizes the contradiction; if he's not the person who initiated the procedure then he's an android who watched his creator commit suicide.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • There is an alien species that likes uploading the minds of prisoners and putting them through some kind of programming to make them A.I.s for small Space Fighters and various systems in their ships. We're never shown or told what this does to the minds, but Luke thinks that they're all suicidal.
    • A later book had the dying Jedi boyfriend of a character willingly going through this with that same technology, though without the reprogramming, and being put into a Ridiculously Human Droid. The result was basically a human-looking droid who answered to the same name and had the right memories and personality but couldn't touch the Force and didn't feel any angst when captured and given a restraining bolt. General consensus was that doing this had been a mistake. There was also a Jedi character who'd uploaded herself into a spaceship somehow; the end of the book had droidboy getting destroyed and his girlfriend committing suicide while leaving her body intact so that spaceship girl could inhabit it. Droidboy and his girlfriend are mentioned by no other authors.
    • Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina: Dr. Evazan experiments with technology to cheat death by this means. He uses it to switch his partner Ponda Baba's mind with a senator's. However, it works backward, the senator's mind ending up instead in Ponda's body.
  • In "Staying Behind", a short story by Ken Liu, civilization has collapsed because most people chose to live forever in digital form, and those who refuse are left in a Scavenger World with little to offer their children.
  • The central premise of the Takeshi Kovacs series is that computer technology has advanced to the point that everyone has their brain backed up on cortical stacks and most any middle-class consumer can afford a new body after a while (mortgages and re-sleeving insurance policies are common making the price an apparent contrast with that of a house), creating effective immortality open to the mass market. Bodies are referred to as "sleeves" and society as a whole doesn't value life as much since you only suffer 'Real Death' if your cortical stack is destroyed — and cortical stacks are heavily armored. They can be destroyed, but it takes a good deal of effort to do so. Anything short of massive firepower, enormously high temperatures or nanomachine-induced disintegration won't so much as scratch them. Cortical stacks commonly survive incidents of incredible violence that leave the bodies scattered over several square metres.
  • In The Tunnel Under the World by Frederick Pohl, Guy Burckhardt and the rest of the inhabitants of Tylerton were killed in a chemical explosion. Their minds were transferred into the body of miniature robots so that Dorchin could use them as advertising test subjects.
  • We Are Legion (We Are Bob): A living brain is destructively scanned, where it can be uploaded to a replicant core and activated. While the original is dead, the copy can be copied infinitely, and most nations on Earth use these copies to run important but boring tasks that are beyond lower-level A.I.s. Bob himself is used for a Von Neumann probe. The same is true for Major Ernesto Medeiros, who is put into the Brazilian Empire's probe. At one point, one of the Bobs encounters the Australian probe, who first tells him to "piss off, mate!" and later turns out to have gone insane from the isolation and sense deprivation (Bob is the only probe with the know-how to build a VR for himself to feel human). The European probe was destroyed by one of the Medeiros probes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100: Becca invented a means of downloading a person's mind onto a computer chip inserted in the back of their head. The original version of this technology was just supposed to store a person's memories for examination by others; they didn't retain consciousness while stored in the chip. However, Sanctum's scientists figured out how to implant the chip into another person's head, erasing that person's mind and allowing the memories and personality stored inside to take over. Becca's later refinement of the concept was the Flame, which can hold the minds and memories of multiple people, and be passed on from one person to the next, but without actually overwriting the new host's personality, merely letting them commune with the stored consciousnesses.
  • Discussed in the Adam Ruins Everything episode "Adam Ruins Death". Adam points out that copying our memories onto a computer, even when that becomes a possibility, will just make an advanced version of Siri. A clip shows an old man hooked up to a computer. The computer shows a simulated face that appears to be the man's uploaded mind. Then the old man realizes that he is still dying, no matter what. The episode's point is that death is inevitable and that we should just accept that it's going to happen and not expect science to solve that eternal fact.
  • In the fourth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., several members of Team Coulson are forcefully uploaded into the Framework with their greatest regrets erased. Jemma Simmons and Daisy Johnson are the only ones who escape this fate, managing to upload themselves into the Framework with memories intact. Unfortunately, they discover that their friends are very different people in the Framework. This is a major problem, as Leo Fitz and Melinda May are HYDRA agents in this reality. This also happens to Holden Radcliffe when Aida kills him and uploads his consciousness into the Framework. Since he is already dead in the real world, he has effectively lost his will to live, especially after losing his beloved Agnes.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): This is what makes the Cylons functionally immortal. Their memories and consciousness are stored upon their death and then downloaded to identical bodies, until the Resurrection Hub is destroyed. It's also their origin, by way of Replacement Goldfish. Maybe. It seems a bit more complicated than that.
  • For the "artificial hell" concept, there's two different episodes of Black Mirror.
    • "White Christmas" has "cookies", digital assistants created by scanning a person's brain so that the system is truly personalized and knows exactly what its master wants. Problem is, the copy thinks that it's actually the person and requires Cold-Blooded Torture in order to psychologically break it and render it wholly subservient. This becomes relevant at the end with the fate of the Joe cookie. As vengeance against the real Joe, a police officer leaves the console on overnight and speeds up time on it so that "Joe" will live one thousand years for every minute that passes in the real world, with Wizzard's "I Wish It Could be Christmas Everyday" playing on an endless loop in the background (with the revelation that any attempt at stopping the song will simply raise the volume) and the frozen dead body of Bethany's daughter visible from the cottage window. The final shot of the program is of "Joe" screaming. He has to spend upwards of one or two million years in that cabin, alone with himself, that song on infinite repeat, and the little girl's dead body outside.
    • "USS Callister" has the villain doing something similar, creating scans of employees and then dropping them into his own personal demo version of the game that his studio is working on, where he tortures them for perceived slights committed by their real-world counterparts.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The demon Moloch the Corrupter, from "I Robot, You Jane", was sealed into a book. After the book is scanned with an Internet-connected computer, the demon's mind escapes onto the Internet to seduce more victims, eventually getting them to build him a robot body.
  • Caprica — the prequel to Battlestar Galactica (2003), above — also delves into this. Zoe-A is an uploaded version of Zoe Graystone who died in a terrorist attack. Up to her point of death, she was streaming data to her virtual avatar, so Zoe-A is an almost duplicate of the original Zoe. Other people who were uploaded with less data tend to have holes in their memories and personalities. Once the technology went public, many factions found their own uses for brain uploading; Corporations sold brain uploading as an insurance against death and a way for grieving families to stay in touch with the deceased. At the same time, a terrorist organisation figured that uploading their martyrs into a virtual heaven they've built was a good loophole to resolve the whole question of what happens after death.
  • Constantine (2014): Jacob Shaw performed a supernatural version of this. He fell into catatonia before his murder trial and died shortly thereafter, but managed to transfer his consciousness to an alternate dimension. He then spent years preying on all those who entered his domain, until John Constantine showed up and stopped him.
  • The Collector (2004) had an episode where the client of the week sold her soul to create a perfect robot. By the time her soul needs to be ferried to Hell, she plans on uploading her mind into the robot so that she will live forever and escape damnation. Unfortunately, something goes terribly wrong, she can't actually move the body, and the Devil decides it's a much worse fate if he leaves her soul in there and just pays the power bills so that the robot will never power down.
  • Delete: Daniel uploads his mind into the A.I. (it wants to merge with him) as a means of passing his conscience along and stopping its attacks on humans.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Time Lord Matrix is a supercomputer containing the recorded experiences and memories of all Time Lords, living and dead, but apparently not their complete personalities.
    • "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead": The computer at the heart of the titular library is an uploaded version of a young girl who had a terminal illness. She's also capable of storing and running the personalities of anyone else who tries to teleport while in the Library, as well as anyone who dies in the Library while wearing a neural relay.
    • This happens to the TARDIS in "The Doctor's Wife". Her mind is uploaded into a human body, while the Monster of the Week uploads itself into her original body. The rest of the episode consists of the Doctor and the TARDIS working together to get her back into her own body.
      The TARDIS: Do you really not recognize me? Just because they put me in here?
      The Doctor: They said you were dangerous.
      The TARDIS: Not the cage, stupid. [puts fingers on temples] In here. They put me in here!
    • "The Bells of St John" has Miss Kizlet upload humans into the data-cloud using robots known as "spoonheads". The minds are trapped inside the data-cloud, until they are either downloaded/freed, or fed upon by the Great Intelligence. Minds can be modified during an upload, with her ordering one uploaded person to be "spliced with the computer skills package", granting them computer skills they didn't have before.
    • The "Heaven" of the Series 8 Story Arc, the Nethersphere, captures human consciousnesses after death for subsequent mass downloading — once the unlucky, unknowing souls have their emotions deleted — into Cyberman bodies. The secret of the technology is that it's stolen from the Time Lords' Matrix tech, tying into the reveal that Missy is a female incarnation of the Master.
    • The Twelfth Doctor's Grand Finale, "Twice Upon a Time", has the Testimony, a technology that travels space and time capturing humans at the moment just before death, uploading their memories and personalities into its database, and then returning the unawares humans to their destined fates. This is used to create Glass People avatars of the dead who retain their memories and personalities and can interact with others. As it was the Twelfth Doctor who dealt with the Nethersphere, he knows that there's something up with the Testimony too, and The Reveal is that this is being done to allow the dead to live again after a fashion and provide their knowledge to future generations of humans, who created it in the far, far future. Twelve is surprised and embarrassed to realize there is No Antagonist and no Evil Plan at work.
  • Part of the central conceit of Dollhouse.
    • The titular Dollhouse is made up of people who, for whatever reason, volunteer to have their minds uploaded and put in dead storage while the Dollhouse rents out their bodies to high-paying clients, imprinted with personality composites made to order so they can serve a variety of purposes for rich clients (usually prostitution). Of course, it's not long before the show begins to examine the grander implications of the technology involved.
    • Many characters consider the technology to work like downloading computer files and don't think through the philosophical questions, but gradually other characters point out that it's just copying minds and doesn't produce "continuity of consciousness". The Rossum Corp. execs literally think it's the key to immortality, but it's a case of Didn't Think This Through. This is an issue even for the titular "dolls" — their original consciousness is destroyed, even if an exact copy of it can later be restored. Later on, the FBI agent chasing them gets shot in the head and left brain-dead, but they restore him by imprinting an exact copy of his mind back into his brain — nonetheless, he freaks out because he's just a copy, and his original consciousness died.
  • Don't Look Deeper: Aisha's memory and personality are twice saved using other android brains, so that they can be restored from this backup later.
  • In Earth: Final Conflict, after the death of Johnathan Doors we discover he uploaded his consciousness to cyberspace.
  • In Eureka, this is the eventual fate of Holly Marten, after she is killed while inside a simulation.
  • Hemlock Grove: Dr. Pryce devises a method of mapping a person's entire neural network and then downloading it into other bodies. He specifically designed a lab-grown human with a Blank Slate mind for that purpose, as it tends to wear off when applied to people with existing personalities.
  • In a John Doe episode, a scientist experimenting in this field is killed. It turns out that his colleague is a religious fanatic who believes that humans aren't meant to live forever. The twist happens at the end, when it is revealed that the scientist encoded his mind onto bar codes of several ordinary-looking items. It's stated that it'll be a long time before technology allows for the memories to be "revived" as a fully-functional virtual person.
  • Kamen Rider Drive: Shinnosuke Tomari's transformation belt contains the consciousness of its inventor, Krim Steinbelt, who digitized his mind after he was fatally wounded at the beginning of the Roidmude uprising.
  • Made For Love features microchips that, after being implanted in someone's brain for long enough, create a perfect record of their personality, allowing one to effectively upload a duplicate of their consciousness into a computer.
  • This is how the titular character of Max Headroom came to be. The same process is brought up in one episode as a way to save the life of a terminally ill millionaire. Though Max and his "original" coexist and interact regularly, the implications of having multiple copies of the same personality around are discussed very little.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "Second Thoughts", Dr. Valerian, who is dying of pancreatic cancer, is able to transfer his memories and personality into the brain of Karl Durand. Karl subsequently kills three other men (the first incident being an accident) and transfers their minds into his brain.
    • In "Identity Crisis", the U.S. military is able to temporarily transfer the mind of a soldier named Captain Cotter McCoy into an indestructible android body. Their long-term goal is to use hundreds, if not thousands, of these androids with human minds on the battlefield. Two other unspecified countries are conducting similar experiments.
    • In "Simon Says", Concorde Robotics designed the Neural Archiving Project (NAP) as to a way to copy a person's memory engrams and transfer them into a robot. Although the company eventually abandoned NAP, Gideon Banks never lost interest in it and eventually used it to install his late son Simon's memories in a robotic body. After killing his boss Ron Hikida, Gideon becomes concerned that he and the robot Simon will be separated. He uses NAP to copy his own memories into an old robot body so that they will always be together and then commits suicide.
    • In "Replica", Zach and Nora Griffiths have developed a process for Cloning Body Parts, which has secured their company TranGennix a contract for $1 billion. They tell their business partner Peter Chandler that they can expand their business as they have the technology to copy a person's neural engrams. Zach suggests that it could be used to copy the memories of a man in the early stages of Alzheimer's and these memories could be uploaded back into his brain after the disease becomes more advanced. Peter is extremely reluctant to go along with their plan as he believes that the only way to copy someone's memories is to clone them and human cloning carries a minimum 20-year prison sentence. Believing that Peter will try to take the neural mapping technology away from them, Nora elects to use it on herself in spite of the fact that she and Zach have not performed any tests on human subjects. However, the process leaves Nora in a seemingly irreversible coma. One year later, Zach decides to clone Nora as he can't stand the idea of living the rest of his life without her. He gives the clone all of the original Nora's memories. She doesn't even realize that she is a clone until Zach shows her that she doesn't have a surgery scar on her back. Things become more complicated when the original Nora wakes up from her coma.
  • Pandora: Harlan and Odessa Fried have uploaded their consciousnesses multiple times into new clone bodies of themselves to live past when they'd have otherwise died.
  • Person of Interest: In "Zero Day", we learn that the Machine is programmed to erase its non-relevant memories and reboot every night at midnight. In order to work around this, the Machine prints hard copies of its memories out in Base64 and hires typists to re-input them. Root describes it as "an external hard drive made up of people and paper".
  • One episode of Proof features a device that allows a person to upload his thoughts onto a computer that converts them into recognizable pictures which become clearer as more pictures are captured. One of the scientists working on it dies while wearing the device, and a large amount of data is uploaded during the moment of death, including various memories throughout his life, as well as hints to the existence of an afterlife, which is what the protagonists are looking to find.
  • This turns up in Red Dwarf as the technology behind hologrammatic characters — every crew member has their personality and memories uploaded and stored so they are available come back as a Virtual Ghost after they die. There doesn't appear to be any technical limitation on how many copies of an individual hologram can run simultaneously, although running even one takes an enormous amount of power and system resourcesnote ... But that doesn't mean it's a good idea, as Rimmer helpfully demonstrates.
  • In Scorpion, Walter tries to perfect this as a way of saving his terminally-ill sister, Megan. It is presented as Walter grasping at straws and a symptom of his emotional inability to deal with the reality that his sister is going to die and that there's nothing he can do about it. He fails, and realizes that he's wasted a significant amount of time that he could have otherwise spent with her in her last days.
  • In one universe in Sliders, robots have killed all humans aside from their creator, who wants to be uploaded into a robotic duplicate. However, he isn't about to do such a radical procedure without testing it first, so when the Sliders show up, he tries to use Quinn as a guinea pig. Then it turns out that his creations have already uploaded him earlier when he was nearly killed in an accident.
  • In Stargate SG-1, this is basically how the Asgard survive, which is convenient since the main ones keep dying all the time. Unfortunately, the cloning process is impossible to maintain indefinitely, so most of them opt for mass suicide instead of slow death.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • In "What Are Little Girls Made of?", it is revealed that "Dr. Roger Korby" is a mind-uploaded android duplicate of the real Korby, who is dead. As with the android Kirk, he's a very imperfect copy. When he's finally made to realize how inhuman his mind is, he commits suicide.
    • In "The Ultimate Computer", Dr. Richard Daystrom turned the M-5 computer into an A.I. by impressing his own engrams (mental patterns) on its circuits.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • In "The Schizoid Man", Dr. Ira Graves uploads his brain into Data, essentially possessing him; at the end he moves into the Enterprise's computer, where his knowledge exists but he has no conscious awareness. We hope.
    • There's something of a debate (albeit one with — arguably — a life on the line) in "The Measure of a Man" when Commander Maddox proposes an experiment that basically involves taking Data apart to see what makes him tick. His only reassurance that Data himself will be preserved by this is the fact that he is able to download all of Data's memories and experiences into a computer and reupload them when his body is reassembled (assuming that he can actually reassemble him). Data argues that only the events and recollections themselves will be preserved and the "essence" of the events and situations will be lost, therefore so will he; because Star Trek wants to have its materialism and eat its dualism too, it's never made entirely clear whether this is because Data's soul wouldn't survive the transfer or just because Maddox isn't competent to do it properly. Still, theoretically uploading might be possible. They never get to take him apart to find out for sure; the episode's conflict is if Data is a person and therefore if the procedure can take place without his consent. Once he's given human rights for sure, he politely tells Maddox "No, you cannot take me apart to see if you can put me together again."
    • In "Inheritance", Data finds out that his "mother", Juliana, is an android with a mind based on a synaptic scan of Noonian Soong's dead wife's brain. The procedure was so successful that Juliana doesn't even know she's not human. Interestingly, there's no sign whether scanning a brain with this technique damages it or not; all we know is that Soong performed the scan while the "real" Juliana was terminally ill and in a coma.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: In "Lifesigns", the Doctor discovers that his dying patient has some sort of electrical implant in her brain that enables him to transfer her mind into the ship's computer and let her live as a hologram while he works on the disease in her actual body. Unfortunately, the circuitry containing her mind has only a limited time before it will degrade, thus causing her death unless she's transferred back to her body in time.
  • Star Trek: Picard: In "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2", Dr. Altan Soong and Dr. Agnes Jurati manage to scan Jean-Luc Picard's mind and then temporarily store it in a complex quantum simulation before his brain functions fully cease; later, they upload it into the android golem and then sculpt the golem into a copy of Picard's body.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Father & Son Game", Darius Stephens' consciousness is placed on a series of micro discs. The information is digitized and then transferred to an artificial brain inside of a Cyborg body. Darius is the first human test subject, but the procedure has previously been performed successfully on monkeys. His son Michael, who wants control of his company, considers him dead and starts proceedings to have him so declared. Although the cyborg body shuts down after several weeks, Darius' wife Anita discovers that he placed a copy of his consciousness in his computer and intends to continue the fight.
  • Upload is all about this. By 2033, it's common for people to get uploaded into simulated worlds when dying. The process is destructive, as shown when the protagonist's head is vaporized in front of his girlfriend and mother, and his headless body slumps into a prepared icy bath. The most popular environment is Lakeview, created and maintained by Horizen. It quickly becomes apparent that money decides how great of an "afterlife" this is. The rich can afford the best view and entertainment, as well as unlimited data, while the poorest are called the "two-gigs" since their monthly limit is 2 gigabytes, which often isn't even enough for basic necessities, much less a window view. The protagonist was actually killed because he was developing an app to upload anyone for free. After that his memories are partially wiped in order to hide the code for the app.
  • Warehouse 13: The supposed A.I. created by a former Warehouse agent which takes over the warehouse in one episode is actually an artifact-assisted upload of his right-brain, leaving the living agent with all his creativity but none of the logic that enabled him to harness it.
  • The X-Files: In "Kill Switch", Esther uses the A.I.'s equipment to upload her mind into the internet. It's confirmed that she survived when she sends the Lone Gunmen a message that simply says "bite me".
  • Years and Years: Bethany wants this for herself, as she's a transhumanist. Edith later does get it.

  • In the award-winning 2004 Manhua My Beloved Mother, Aya the Mama Bear uses her own body to shield her son, the then four-year-old protagonist Sinbell, from a gas explosion that incinerates her within an inch of her life. In her dying throes, her last request is for her mind to be uploaded into a robotic body in order to continue raising Sinbell to adulthood.

  • In SAYER, the deep space exploration vehicle Vidarr-1 is traversing the galaxy with the mission of finding habitable Earth-like planets—and the concern is that if the planets are inhabitable, they may already be inhabited. With that in mind, the probes have been designed to resemble diminutive humans and uploaded with recycled human consciousnesses from the travelers killed on launch. This causes problems when the probes retain basic memories and hold on to the launch tubes to prevent being catapulted into space.

  • Journey into Space: In The Host, J.J. Andreev's personality was coded onto the computer of the Vardis after his death in 2071.

  • TYBALT of AJCO is an odd example in that he's a robot that had an AI uploaded into him by accident, rather than an AI that had a human uploaded into it. It came about because Cain thought it would be a good idea to recycle the broken facility's old computer system to fix up his adopted robot, not realising that said computer had ever had sentience.
  • Amy from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues was an ordinary girl who, as a result of the Mass Super-Empowering Event, had her physical body converted into data and uploaded into her phone. She now exists as a free-form consciousness capable of being transferred between devices.
  • In the Star Army universe, the Yamatai Star Empire makes use of extensive "soul transfer" to the point where the vast majority of their population has transferred into optimized, customizable android bodies. Citizens' right to backups is legally ensured and their data is legally protected. Tampering with "soul data" means a permanent death penalty to the perpetrator and all his/her backup files.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Discussed by Mitch Benn in his show That Was the Future, where he concludes that the only reason to do this is if you're the kind of opinionated jerk who really hates the idea that after your death, people who disagree with you will get a word in edgeways.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Car Wars: Autoduelists store their memories on a machine and have clone bodies made. If they die in the arena, their memories are "played back" into their clone and they live again (well, sort of).
  • Cyberpunk 2020:
    • The "Soulkiller" program, which copies the victim's personality onto a sufficiently powerful mainframe and then kills their physical body. Alt Cunningham, the program's creator, became its first victim when she had finished writing Soulkiller for evil Mega-Corp Arasaka and they decided they didn't need to have her running around anymore. Overlaps with And I Must Scream.
    • Also, certain kinds of full 'Borgs, especially combat models, can be used with brain canisters that store a person's memories/soul which can be swapped between the combat cyborg body and a "normal" one.
  • Eclipse Phase:
    • Most of the surviving population of the solar system escaped the devastation of Earth by uploading their minds off-world, and backups are ubiquitous. Unfortunately, there's also a severe shortage of bodies, and millions of info-refugees desperate to own one.
    • Also, almost everybody comes equipped with a Cortical Stack, and as in the Takeshi Kovacs series (which gets an Inspiration Nod), they are nearly indestructible barring a deliberate attempt to destroy them.
  • "Nybor's Psychic Imprint" spell in Forgotten Realms (at least, 3rd ed).
  • Played with in the FATE Core game Mindjammer, most citizens of the New Commonality of Humankind are constantly connected to the Mindscape and copy many of their memories to it for later access by themselves or others, and can initiate a "thanogram thoughtcast" that creates a complete personality and memory snapshot at the cost of inflicting brain damage so most only do it when dying. The resulting thanatograms can be used to create artificial intelligences called eidolons but it is generally accepted in the Commonality that eidolons are not the people they are copied from, still there is a persistent meme in many of the newly recontacted Lost Colonies known as the "Transmigration Heresy" which does believe that eidolons are reincarnations of their progenitors.
  • In Nova Praxis, brain uploading requires a process called "Apotheosis", which involves nanobots replacing brain tissues with nanogel over the course of a week. Afterwards the subject can remain in their original body until it dies or upload into a flash-cloned or robotic sleeve, or even live as a Sim on a server.
  • The Shadowrun adventure "Imago" had a human personality uploaded to and stored in a computer. This is probably a Shout-Out to Neuromancer, because the game borrowed a lot of other things from that novel. It also had the Program JackBeNimble, which "saved" copies of the brains of people killed in the Crash 2.0
  • The "ghosts" in Transhuman Space are produced by disassembling and scanning a human brain at the molecular level. Contrast with "shadows", which are non-destructively uploaded but are imperfect simulations, and "eidolons", which aren't even made with a brain scan— they are just fakes made from stock footage and biographical databases.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • As Aeldari souls retain their consciousness after death, the Craftworlders attempt to save themselves from being devoured by She Who Thirsts by uploading their souls into an Artificial Afterlife known as an infinity circuit, allowing the individual's soul to become a part of their craftworld itself and continue to advise the living. Additionally, in times of great need, soul can be downloaded from the infinity circuit, placed into spirit stones, and uploaded into Asuryani war machines and Wraith-constructs to act as a form of spiritual AI.
    • The backstory for the Necrons essentially involved this, transferring their consciousnesses into bodies of living metal to escape their short lifespans as well as win the war against the Old Ones. The price for this, however, was the loss of their soul. In their original incarnation, this meant they were transformed into near-mindless killing machines. After the rewrite, the Necrontyr nobility retained (most of) their minds, and their soullessness manifests in subtler ways, such as Creative Sterility. The Twice Dead King adds that the Necrontyr subconscious didn't take the transfer well; on a deep, unconscious level, every Necron is screaming in terror about being trapped in a dead body, convinced they're suffocating without a mouth or lungs to breathe with, convinced their heart has stopped because they can't feel one beating.
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: In the background for the Gaiden Game Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire, the Katophrane rulers of the city discovered that the mysterious substance known as shadeglass could be used to capture the souls of the dead. Seeing the potential in this phenomenon, the Katophrane constructed a network of shadeglass mirrors throughout the city to store their living essences so that they could continue to guide their city eternally rather than pass on to the afterlife. It was for this denial of his due that Nagash, the God of the Dead, cursed the city, turning it into the nightmarish realm of madness and illusion that it is today.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere has this with "sublimation", the act of uploading your mind inside a computer. Among other things, Ouroboros is a secret faction hell-bent on sublimating all the people in the world, and Fiona is unable to forgive her sister Cinthia after she tells Fiona she wants to sublimate her mind. (Don't panic if you don't know that: all that stuff is exclusive from the Japanese original; the American release had this engaging storyline replaced with a generic A.I. Is a Crapshoot plot).
  • Armored Core:
    • Becoming "HUMAN-Plus" means this; they also fuse your consciousness with your AC. This is what happened to the Zodiacs in Armored Core V, as well as Chief and Hustler One (a.k.a. NineBall).
    • It also happens to Reaper Squad and later Maggy when she chooses to become a reaper in Armored Core: Verdict Day.
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • Throughout most of the series the audience - and the characters - are led to believe that Subject 16, Desmond's predecessor, went crazy and committed suicide. The first is definitely true, and the second may be as well, but before he did so, he was able to upload or at least copy his mind into the Animus program, where he is implied to be watching over Desmond. In Revelations, this is confirmed. He shows up for the first time, fully formed, marginally more stable than previously displayed, and confirms himself to be a copy in his database entry. Interestingly, despite stating in no uncertain terms that he is a copy of the original Clay Kaczmarek and that the original is dead, he still introduces himself as Clay Kaczmarek and seems to consider himself a real person in his own right.
    • This may also be how Juno has survived all these millennia, plotting to return to the world and take it over. Unfortunately, Desmond has no choice but to release her in order to activate the shield protecting Earth from the solar flare.
  • In the Black Market universe, people can be downloaded into Soul Jars, while machine minds are relegated to Turing Jars. Pirates use this method to endlessly reincarnate; one of the main characters is a "Ghost" in this fashion.
  • City of Heroes:
    • The Doctor is revealed to be one of these, having created an easily produced process to upload personalities. Oddly enough for the genre, it didn't destroy her original mind or body; Crey took care of that sometime after she had already gone on the net. She's treated as a human, although she does recognize that she's not one any longer.
    • The game also features this trope's inversion: Paragon Protectors are revealed to run on home-built personalities downloaded into clone bodies, using the same underlying technology and copied on a massive scale. They're fairly expendable, in a world where normal clones or uploaded personalities are treated fairly well, but Crey does tend to harvest the original copies for those personalities from the rotting corpses of dead heroes and rip out whatever higher brain functionality is left before slapping the Paragon Protector together.
  • In Civilization: Beyond Earth, Neural Uploading is a late game technology and part of the Supremacy affinity. The process works by scanning a person's brain to map it, then running a simulation of the brain in a quantum computer. The quotes associated with advancing through Supremacy show that A.I.s are treated as equal to humans, and the Supremacy affinity as a whole sees AI, robots, and cybernetics as the way for humanity to move forward.
  • Code 7 has Alex. Their friend Sam even finds Alex's brain connected to the computer.
  • Prometheus in Conduit 2, due to events in the last game.
  • The opening cinematic of Cortex Command shows a person's mind being uploaded into a Brain in a Jar, which frees the mind and makes space travel a lot easier.
  • Cyberpunk 2077 has Arasaka's Relic system, part of their Save Your Soul program, which creates an "engram" of a person. The Relic, based off an improved version of the SoulKiller algorithm, comes in two varieties. The first, a version meant to be commercially available, is a just a copy of one's memories and personality, essentially a hyper-sophisticated chatbot with no true consciousness or self-awareness. The second version is much more advanced and effectively emulates the person and their awareness with a reasonable degree of emotional and volitional accuracy, with the ability to perceive and learn. Even in the latter case, though, the designer of the original SoulKiller (and one of its victims) notes "something" is lost, although it's ambiguous if that something is the actual soul or simply some kind of data loss. In both cases, the upload's personality and memories can be altered just like any data, and Arasaka scientists have been secretly experimenting on clients' uploads to understand the program's limitations and possibilities. The fact that engram is ultimately not the original also means, no matter the ending, V dies, whether by living out their remaining days in their body or because Alt Cunningham created an engram, separated Johnny's data, and downloaded the cleaned V engram back into V's body/took V with her across the Black Wall. Although there is continuity of experience, the "original" V is dead no matter what.
  • In Defense Grid: The Awakening, the general who won the war against the aliens 1000 years ago had his brain uploaded in case they came back, which they have. He usually plays the part of the Exposition Fairy, but he can't seem to get raspberries off his mind.
  • Destiny:
    • The Exos are the result of human minds being uploaded into mechanical bodies, resulting in highly intelligent Ridiculously Human Robot lifeforms. It is unclear what precise purpose the Exos served prior to the Collapse, with differing sources suggesting they were built as war machines, as a means of achieving immortality, or as a mechanism to let a mere human mind safely explore the Vex network.
    • Destiny 2 reveals in the Warmind expansion that the Exos' experience "Disassociative Exomind Rejection," or DER, a syndrome where the human mind rejects its mechanical body and suffers a degenerative breakdown where the human mind will eventually "die." The solutions to this were to periodically routinely "reboot" the Exo, wiping their memories while retaining the personality, although this causes long-term issues with memory retention if done too many times, and to program "humanisms" into Exos like letting them eat, drink, sleep, or copulate to mimic their old human bodies.
    • In the Destiny 2 expansion Beyond Light, the creation point of the Exos is unearthed on Europa — the Deep Stone Crypt. Recovered test logs and journals from the nigh-Mad Scientist Clovis Bray show that the first human minds uploaded into Exos would rapidly degenerate via a process termed the "loop/billboard/crash" cycle, losing higher thought and defaulting to mindless repetition; they could still pass a Turing test, but were philosophical zombies, and eventually would shut down altogether. Short term, it could be countered by wiping and re-uploading the stored personality engram, but that's obviously not ideal. The issue was that Exominds were too static to emulate human brains, which are constantly adapting and evolving; the solution was discovered through extremely ethically dubious experiments, harvested alien microbes, and a healthy exposure of paracausal Darkness energy, creating an improved Exo brain unstable enough to host a consciousness indefinitely.
    • However, Exominds lasting longer led to the discovery of DER, above: lacking somatosensory feedback from bodily organs such as the lungs, heart, and stomach, the mind would develop Cotard delusion and become convinced those organs had failed and go insane with terror about being trapped in a corpse. Returning that feedback with simulated "humanisms" was the only way to prevent the delusion, much to the annoyance of Clovis, who wanted his Exos to feel no such organic "weaknesses", and the reboots let Exos orient better to their new bodies, as they lost all memory of having an old one.
    • Notably, there is no "continuity of consciousness" involved in becoming an Exo. A human becoming an Exo undergoes a brain scan, and the scan is uploaded into the Exo body. The brain scan is invariably fatal to the original human due to the toxicity of the radioligand and the intensity of the magnetic fields involved (but the resulting capture is accurate down to the quantum level, which wouldn’t be possible with a less potent scan). The Exo is technically a new, distinct person, although Clovis Bray's philosophy of mind is that everyone is constantly becoming a new, distinct person at any given moment of their lives, so this isn't really a huge deal.
  • Orthopox from Destroy All Humans! does this when he is destroyed with the mothership during a nuclear attack staged by the KGB.
  • This is how the virtual world EDEN works in Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth. Some extremely dark possibilities are explored, such as "EDEN Syndrome", a condition wherein being killed in EDEN renders the user brain-dead with no known cure. There's also a company apparently exploiting EDEN users for Organ Theft.
  • In DOOM (2016), Samuel Hayden underwent research into cybernetics after learning that he had brain cancer, uploading his consciousness into a robotic body so that he could continue his research.
  • Done to the party in the finale of EarthBound (1994), as traveling back in time using the Phase Distorter would destroy organic bodies, so they're given robotic bodies to use for the journey.
  • In The Elder Scrolls, the Dunmeri (Dark Elven) Tribunal deity Sotha Sil used his advanced understanding of Nirn's "Tonal Architecture" to create Steampunk and Magitek technological wonders while the rest of the world is stuck in Medieval High Fantasy Stasis. After the Nerevarine strips he and the other Tribunes of their divinity during The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind's main quest, Sotha Sil is thought to have been killed by fellow Tribune Almalexia during the Tribunal expansion. However, The Elder Scrolls Online's Clockwork City expansion (a prequel taking place several centuries before Morrowind), reveals that Sotha Sil had made himself into a Cyborg, replacing his arms and part of his head with mechanical components. It is also revealed that the Clockwork City itself is a massive computer and that Sotha Sil was capable of uploading his memories and consciousness into an "artificial astronomical matrix". Essentially, by the time of the events of Tribunal, it is quite likely that he uploaded his consciousness and was no longer inhabiting his body when Almalexia "killed" it.
  • Endless Space:
    • The titular Endless found a way to transfer their minds into machines but the process was only available to the wealthiest. This caused a great schism in the Endless society, between the Concrete Endless who remained organic, and the Virtual who embraced uploading. This sparked a massive war which led to the extinction of the Endless.
    • In the sequel, the Vodyani discovered the Virtual uploading technology around the same time their homeworld suffered completed ecological collapse. To survive, they underwent the uploading en masse becoming beings of living energy. However, the process was flawed, and they now both survive and reproduce through Vampiric Draining of entire populated star systems. Some surviving Virtual Endless share bodies with Vodyani.
  • In Fallout, it's briefly mentioned that during the 21st century the founder of the firearms company Glock Inc., Gaston Glock, uploaded his consciousness into an A.I. that continued to design guns for the company long after his death such as the Glock 86 plasma pistol.
  • In Gateway II: Homeworld, after the Player Character travels to the Pocket Dimension where the Heechee are hiding, he finds that their society is in large part influenced by the uploaded minds of their deceased ancestors. The official belief is that they're the same people as when they were alive, although a small faction secretly believes that they're just copies, explaining that they experimented with uploading the minds of the living, and the process doesn't take anything away from the living person, while both versions appear to be fully functional individuals. Eventually, thanks to the player, the Heechee agree that it's time to stop living in the past and drastically reduce the influence their ancestors have.
  • The Architect from Ghostrunner is a digital copy of Adam, co-founder of Dharma Tower and savior of humanity. He insists that he's the real deal, for all intents and purposes, but others in the game question whether he has the soul or conscience of the original.
  • Glowgrass contains an example of this used to discover part of an ancient culture.
  • In the Gold Box game Buck Rogers: Matrix Cubed, this is implied to be the origin of friendly A.I. SCOTT.DOS. The co-leader of P.U.R.G.E. does this while your party is storming their headquarters, creating SOOTH.DOP. He ends up getting Hoist by His Own Petard when you discover a virus the P.U.R.G.E. scientists were developing specifically to destroy digital personalities on the same computer he's locked down.
  • Halo:
    • Human-made "Smart" A.I.s (that is, ones that can learn new information) are created by this method. The resulting A.I.s are not exact copies of their donors (since the uploaded mind will automatically rewrite its neural map into a superior system) but will often retain some memories and sensations from their original humans (for example, Serina remembers kissing a boy and maintains a theoretical interest in chocolate). However, this process kills the brain being uploaded, so only one (known) A.I. has even been based on a still-living person's mind, Cortana. She was created by flash-cloning Dr. Halsey, removing the clone's brain, and scanning it; it took twenty tries. Indeed, this was part of the reason why self-cloning is technically illegal. Also, because of how "rampancy" works (in which the A.I. eventually "thinks itself to death" from their matrixes starting to degrade from absorbing and computing too much data), "Smart" A.I.s can't be successfully copied, as copying them also copies the degradation of their matrixes at that moment in time, not to mention creating any potential errors in their copy's coding as a result of the process.
    • Mind transferring was ubiquitous in Forerunner society; even the armor they wore everyday was capable of uploading the wearer's consciousness, with their funerary rites involving loading the deceased's last recorded memories and mental patterns into time-locked containers. Naturally, they had a much more advanced form of this trope, being able to upload effective copies of their consciousnesses into computing systems without destroying the original mind. While the method they used to make their actual A.I.s is unknown, 343 Guilty Spark himself was created in a process similar to that of human A.I.s, as a way to save the dying human Chakas (though other human personalities were also loaded into him).
    • Halo 4 has a malicious variant of this; the Ur-Didact uses the Composer (an abandoned Forerunner device originally designed to combat the Flood) to painfully destroy humans so their minds can be digitized to make his personal army of Promethean Knights.
  • In Headlander, humanity has uploaded their minds into robot bodies called imposters in a bid to live forever. It is implied that Methuselah was created by several uploaded minds being combined, one of which belonged to the character that the player character is a clone of.
  • Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising has this with "soulcatcher chips"; it was apparently inspired by Rogue Trooper. They're said to the copies of the minds of dead soldiers in A.I. form. Though they can be duplicated, you're not allowed to, because it had been found that if two copies of the same personality become aware of each other, each will consider the other an impostor and will fight to their destruction.
  • Independence War 2 takes Jefferson Clay from the first game and puts him in a "Brain Box", so that the main character over a century later can have a mentor and guide to the game. According to the manual, the digital Clay is not too happy about this state of affairs.
  • In Infinite Space, the NOS Command System owned by Zenitorians allows one to transfer his/her consciousness to a spare body, as shown by Rubriko.
  • Your entire crew in Iron Seed has had this done to them.
  • In Jak 3, Vin (who had died in the previous game) is discovered to have uploaded his mind into a computer. This is treated as if he were the same person and had never died at all.
  • Kamui:
    • The eponymous fighters require this to work. At the time they're developed, they're considered Necessarily Evil due to the extremely powerful ZODIACs clashing with Ophiuchus, laying waste to the earth just as collateral damage.
    • After the event with the ZODIACs ends, the scientist that developed the technique (whose daughter was one of those uploaded) eventually uploads himself to the orbital fortress "The Adjucator" after he finds out that the government, whom he considers to have become corrupt, is planning on using his technique to strengthen themselves.
  • At the end of the Marathon Game Mod EVIL, the player character's mind is uploaded to the D'ricta space station's core.
  • In the Mass Effect series:
    • The fluff contains some interesting trivia on "brain" uploading: essentially, a true intelligence, be it natural or artificial, can only "run" on a quantum computing core, and while it is possibly to copy the data that constitutes it to as many cores as you wish, each copy would be a different "individual" rather than a carbon copy, thanks to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle that plays a major part in quantum computing. The geth get around that by acting as a single emergent Hive Mind ("geth consensus") that controls multiple hardware platforms.
    • Mass Effect 2: David Archer, whose mind was uploaded so he could control an army of Geth. Unfortunately, his mind is unable to take the strain of being in charge of a highly advanced computer network, and he goes insane.
    • In the Mass Effect 3 ending "Control", Shepard performs this in order to take over the Reapers.
  • Mega Man:
  • In Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, a somewhat less biological, more behaviorally based attempt is used to create Peace Walker's A.I., a somewhat distorted version of the Boss' consciousness.
  • The A.I. that comes with the ship The Federation loaned Samus in Metroid Fusion is one of these. Because of his similar personality to an old commanding officer of hers, Samus dubs him Adam. She later realizes that it actually is said officer, uploaded to A.I., when he says something to her that only he would say. Apparently, brain uploading is commonly used by the Federation to preserve the minds of politicians, military leaders and other important people. It would seem that the uploading is only done when the person is dead or dying, but considering that Adam died under unrelated circumstances, namely in the huge, fiery explosion of a lab full of invincible Metroids jettisoned into space, this is almost certainly to avoid the complications of having armies of duplicates running around rather than for any reason inherent to the process.
  • One Must Fall 2097 has the owner of WAR, Major Has Kreissack, and the prototype Nova HAR. As the Major is 103 years old, he has just about reached the practical limit on his body's lifespan... so he decides to transfer his mind into the Nova itself and become the 250-ton missile-launching war machine and presumably name himself immortal corporate tyrant of WAR. He goes about this in a far more analog fashion than most, by having his brain extracted from his head and put into the Nova. This ends poorly because the prototype Nova's reactor is touchy, such that Defeat Equals Explosion. Kreissack's brain dies for good when the Nova's head is blown off its chest in the resulting blast. After seeing all that, almost everyone agrees that the brain implanting is a terrible idea, but that the Nova has potential, and they eventually design a stripped-down Nova with the normal Brain/Computer Interface for mass production.
  • Perfect Dark Zero has an appearance by a character who appeared in the original game as an AI. He dies in the very mission you meet him in; the last mention he gets is dataDyne's CEO calling over the intercom "I want his brain on ice!".
  • Each crewmember of The Persistence has a copy of their mind somehow uploading into the ship's computer, which is programmed to immediately create a clone for them to possess as soon as they die. The problem is that when the ship was damaged, all but two of the crew's back-ups were destroyed, so the ship has been printing out copies of the dead crew members non-stop with no personality back-up to speak of, leaving them mindless monsters.
  • Portal:
    • In the first Portal, GLaDOS claims to have a backup of Chell on file, which she later claims to delete. Of course, she is a lying liar who tends to lie.
    • Portal 2:
      • Cave Johnson wanted to upload himself into Aperture Science's central computer system to stave off his death. In case he died before that, he wanted his secretary Caroline to run the facility. When Cave himself died, Caroline was uploaded into GLaDOS. Dummied Out lines indicate that this was done against Caroline's wishes, which may have contributed to GLaDOS'... issues.
      • In the PeTI DLC, it turns out that in an Alternate Universe, Cave succeeded in uploading himself. He quickly goes insane from boredom, and decides he needs to kill everyone so he can ascend to Olympus like Hercules. When Cave Prime hears this, he decides to cancel the GLaDOS project, confirming that "Earth 1" is not the same universe the main story takes place in.
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri implies this to be part of the process behind the Clinical Immortality secret project. That's just the beginning: the Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence Victory is done by first uploading all the knowledge created by mankind into Planet's global mind, then by uploading all your people's minds in the same global mind. It's also specifically stated that the project will result in everyone's mind being uploaded into Planet (whether they want it or not). However, only the faction that completes the project first will have its members retain most of their individuality.
  • In SOMA, WAU sought to keep its humans alive by any means necessary. Any human that couldn't be turned into cyborgs forcibly underwent this, including Catherine and Simon. Of course, the process doesn't actually transfer the mind from one vessel to another but rather creates a copy that believes itself to be the original, which causes truly horrifying ethical and existential issues.
  • Occurs at the end of Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers, when Big Bad former-"human" A.I. Vohaul not only uploads Roger's son's mind to a disk (1.44mb! Who knew the mind was so... compressible?), but then uploads his own mind to Roger's son. Roger then has to defeat Vohaul by putting his son's mind back in place and transferring Vohaul's mind to the computer just seconds before a system format.
  • In StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, the Purifiers were an experiment in Protoss brain uploading and robotics. However, the Conclave treated them like machines and weapons, and they rebelled, only to be shut down for centuries. Later they are reactivated to aid in the war against Amon. It turns out that Fenix had his memories copied while he was being turned into a Dragoon and his robotic version convinces the Purifiers to join the cause. However, he later decides that he is only a clone and renames himself Talandar.
  • Star Ruler 2's expansion pack introduces the First, a playable faction composed entirely of post-physical aliens that watched the extinction of their origin species and the rise and fall of hundreds of other empires. The First have only ventured out from their computational hubworld after the arrival of the Heralds, fleeing something in their home galaxy. Despite the First's ancient nature and the computational power they possess, they are the only empire to have absolutely no form of Faster-Than-Light Travel.
  • Starship Titanic: All the robots on board have copied alien minds courtesy of 'personality transfers'. It's like blood donation in America, which means you get lots of people who really shouldn't be donating.
  • In Starsiege, this is how the Immortal Brotherhood came to be; individuals who were part of the Lazarus Project team, or who were exceptionally loyal to Emperor-to-be Solomon Petresun, were transferred into biomechanoid brains which could then be transplanted from body to body. Since the brains have their own power supply and were extremely durable, the immortal could be killed without actually dying... however, the nature of the brain/body interface could cause severe personality shifts from one 'lifetime' to the next. Prometheus, the Cybrid who invented the technique, later used it to create infiltration units as weapons against its creators.
  • Stellaris:
    • The "In Limbo" anomaly has your science vessel discovering a vault on a lifeless alien world, containing still-functional computers that the planet's original owners used to upload scans of their brains in a last-ditch attempt to survive some apocalypse. You can shrug and leave it be, study the equipment, or try to download these digitized consciousnesses into whatever robot technology you have available. Uploading the data into Robots or Droids gives an underwhelming result, but if you've got full Synths researched, not only is the download a complete success, but the grateful robo-aliens either join your empire, potentially by colonizing a world none of your existing species can survive on, or start their own and serve as a grateful ally/vassal. Alternatively, the Enigmatic Observers may ask for the dead aliens' brain patterns so they can clone new bodies for them on their Sanctuary planet, which gives you a significant opinion bonus with the most benign Fallen Empire type without the happiness penalty for giving them some of your own people.
    • Materialist star empires can take two Ascension perks to go from organic beings to cyborgs, then to uploading their entire species' brain patterns into synthetic chassis. While this has obvious benefits when it comes to eschewing food consumption and settling any type of planet, other empires will be unnerved by your decision, resulting in a diplomacy penalty. Even machine races will be a bit puzzled as you fall into their version of the Uncanny Valley, while Spiritualist empires will be appalled, especially if one of the Fallen Empires in your galaxy is the Holy Guardians.
      Holy Guardians: That yours was a depraved species was not unknown to us, but your latest act of insanity has surpassed even our darkest fears. Making imperfect copies of your brains and plugging them into mobile synthetic containers is not the same as transferring your essence into a new body, for such a thing cannot be done. Your souls are lost forever. Do you even realize the enormity of your mistake? Destroying the bodies you were gifted with at birth was nothing less than the collective suicide of your entire species. There is truly no hope for you now...
    • Occasionally, if you finish construction on a Science Nexus, an event will pop up that will allow you to increase its output by downloading one of your scientists into it. While you lose the scientist as a leader, they are forever immortalized inside the Science Nexus.
  • In SUPERHOT, it's revealed that the game itself is an Assimilation Plot uploading its players inside the game via brain uploading. This includes you in the finale, with no end in sight.
  • In Sword of the Stars II, you can preserve admirals' expertise by converting them into expert systems. They will never retire; however, since the end result of the destructive process is not truly sapient, they won't gain any more stats improvements or possible new skills. The supplementary material also reveals that this is the case with the Locusts. They were once an organic race until they invented this technology, upon which some of those who became engrams decided they were superior to the baselines and bombed the latter back to the stone age before setting out into the void to make more of themselves while wiping out the inferiors.
  • Tales from the Borderlands reveals that before his death, Professor Nakayama had an A.I. version of Handsome Jack created. Rhys accidentally uploads said A.I. into his brain and later uploads it into Helios itself; whether Rhys does so willingly or through Jack forcing him to depends on the player's choice.
  • In Total Annihilation, this is what sparks the game's galaxy-wide class 4 apocalypse. When the Core announces that it will start doing this to its citizens, the Arm rebels. The Arm apparently thinks cloning soldiers in bulk to be used as cannon fodder is fine, though.
  • This happens to countless people in Transistor. Their uploads, or "Traces," are what you use for active and passive abilities. However, Red isn't able to communicate with any Traces directly other than the Man, because of all the people trapped in the Transistor, he's the one she knew the best and cared about the most.
  • TRON 2.0 features Ma3a, an artificially intelligent construct and vector for the digitization correction algorithms who was modeled after the original movie's Lora Baines, player character Jet Bradley's mother. It is hinted that Ma3a actually has part of Lora's consciousness integrated into her program (said part having been digitized during the digitization laser accident that claimed Lora's life).
  • Universe at War has Commander Orlok of the Hierarchy military. The Overseers couldn't risk losing such a competent commander to death, so they had his consciousness transferred from his organic alien body to a Humongous Mecha, effectively granting him immortality and thus giving him the title of "The Eternal".
  • Warframe: Cephalons, originally thought to be A.I.s built using technology that no longer exists from the days of the Orokin, turn out to be this. The Orokin being Abusive Precursors, it's originally implied that they were all uploaded against their will (and modified after to be loyal), but at least one woman uploaded herself willingly. Her mind was deteriorating, and she wanted to preserve herself.
  • X: The X-Encyclopedia speaks of "presence clouds", artificial nebulae made of a form of degenerate matter called computronium that forms a sort of Dyson Sphere around a star. The Ancients virtualized their consciousnesses into one and create replacement ones around other stars as dictated by stellar life cycles.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X: The people in New Los Angeles were led to believe that the White Whale's Lifehold Core housed the humans' real bodies in cryostasis, controlling artificial bodies called mimeosomes (or mims for short) from a distance, which is only partially true. In reality, their consciousnesses and minds were uploaded to a huge database in the Core, which is controlling the mims; their original flesh-and-blood bodies were destroyed along with Earth, though the Core was equipped with enough protoplasm and DNA information to create new flesh-and-blood bodies for their consciousnesses to go back to after the planet Mira was made safe. Elma explained that there was a lot of ethical debates regarding which solution each Ark should adopt to evacuate Earth; the White Whale favored this one as it allowed more people to be saved.
  • In the Ys series, the Eldeen were said to have created new bodies out of white Emelas in the distant past to host their minds in stronger, purified bodies. Once they were able to have children in these forms, the Eldeen species became immortal.

    Visual Novels 
  • About 15% into Analogue: A Hate Story, it's revealed that your A.I. companion, *Hyun-ae, is actually the uploaded mind of a girl of the same name who perished on the Mugunghwa along with everyone else six centuries ago.
  • Baldr Sky: The Project Ark is eventually revealed to be a huge exodus to the virtual world, triggered by Ark if humanity is doomed. Later in Makoto's route, it's revealed that Neunzehn also uploaded himself into the Baldr system, which eventually caused the events of the series.
  • Played with in The Eden of Grisaia. Yuuji soon learns that the Thanatos computer system is linked to the uploaded brain of his sister, Kazuki, who was found on the verge of death. Thanatos did not have the memories of the person it was based on at first until a clever researcher helped it unleash the memory blocks, after which it could act as the person it had been in life. However, in truth, it wasn't just that the brain was uploaded but rather that the brain was connected into the computer system through the spinal cord while Kazuki herself was placed into an isolation pod, making it a subversion. The system doesn't work properly without her connected, meaning that her brain was never truly uploaded at all.
  • In Muv-Luv Alternative, this happens to Kagami Sumika, who becomes the "00-Unit". Although the process killed her, she was already just a Brain in a Jar, so that actually isn't much. The end result is that she becomes a quantum computer with a practically human body that isn't quite human.
  • Thousand Dollar Soul has this happen to Angela in the future, allowing her to be recreated in the simulation of the past.

  • In Bob and George, the Maverick virus is a digital copy of Dr. Wily's soul, corrupting and reprograming Reploids just as Wily did to robots.
  • Elie from the Gifts of Wandering Ice carries alien memories in her mind. They reveal themselves from time to time in the form of painful, vivid reminiscences of the past triggered by the sight of ancient things. There is more to this: the conscience of the person to whom these memories belong is still alive in the girl's mind and makes attempts to take control of her body.
  • Girl Genius:
    • Tarvek uploads his sister's mind into a Ridiculously Human Clank almost by accident: he builds it to serve as her prosthesis after she's injured, and it doesn't notice when she dies. Later, the same clank ends up housing the mind of the Other.
    • This was lady Lucrezia's speciality. At some point, there are at least three known copies of her mind uploaded into various bodies: Agatha, who has to wear a special pendant to keep the Other's personality repressed, the Anevka-clank, whose original personality was removed completely first, and Zola, who may or may not have actually taken control of the Other personality in her.
  • In Homestuck, this is how Dirk created his auto-responder. It was apparently meant to respond to instant messages when Dirk himself wasn't at the computer, though it's developed beyond that. It's treated as a character in its own right, superficially similar to Dirk but with its own quirks and eccentricities.
  • Narbonic:
    • Dave, when he awakens as a Mad Scientist, does this to Take Over the World.
    • In the mini-comic Edie in Orbit (which has only seen the light of day as a Sunday special feature), Edie's robot buddy is a human mind scanned into a floating robot head.
  • In O Human Star, Al's brain is copied to create a robotic Al and Sulla.
  • In Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger, brain uploading is highly illegal due to the first test subjects going insane from a combination of sensory deprivation and the knowledge that they were just copies of their organic counterparts.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • The Bradicor initially tried uploading their minds to computers when physical immortality proved problematic. It worked for a a long time, but eventually imploded, leaving only the corporeal Bradicor (who had decided to accept the side effects of physical immortality) alive.
    • Project Laz'R'Us allows a person to use nanomachines to achieve immortality by backing up the brain onto the skin and other parts of the body. The black-ops group that was supposed to be perfecting it for civilian use mostly used it to download sleeper agents into unsuspecting civilians. The Gavs used another version of the same system to diversify 950 million clones by implanting skills in addition to major physical changes. Eventually, the Oafans helped distribute an improved version of the technology and cover up its shady origins. People can be restored to their last archived backup even if the original body is completely disintegrated; legally they're considered clones and a different person than the original as of the time of backup, but they typically step directly into the void left by the original with no trouble.
    • Later on, we're introduced to the All-Star, a secret Matrioshka brain containing over 2 septillion (that's 24 zeros) uploaded minds.
    • Book 19 starts to explore what would happen if a backed-up mind doesn't want to be reincarnated (Gunther Thurl, killed in Book 18), and the use of 'mind-clones' as digital ambassadors when resources are too tight to send fully equipped regular ships....
  • In Unity, the main character's neural patterns had been uploaded into a powerful computer. This simulation eventually (and accidentally) takes over the ship — for the better.
  • In We Are The Wyrecats, Mela uploaded her brain into a digital black box in case her physical body was ever destroyed.

    Web Original 
  • In Chrysalis (Beaver Fur), the Terran's consciousness, including memories of their time as a biological human, is stored in a server array. It's later revealed that the entity known as the Terran really consists of the minds of five separate people that were merged into one when they uploaded their minds into said server array, and there are more human minds in other server arrays hidden on Earth.
  • In Fine Structure, Mitch Calrus inhabits a mortal body, but he needs to be around in 20,000 years to fight the Final Battle. Thus, he makes countless copies of himself and spreads them all over the solar system, to be installed in available bodies as necessary.
  • gen:LOCK:
    • This is how the show's Humongous Mecha function: rather than cockpits piloted in person, pilots have their minds uploaded directly into their mechs allowing them to move and fight as if they were their own bodies. It does have its drawbacks, however. Only one in a million people can actually use gen:LOCK (you don't wanna know what happens if you try without being compatible), and only for a very short period of time. Staying in gen:LOCK for too long runs the risk of not being able to return to their bodies at all.
    • It turns out that there are some serious side effects to staying uploaded for too long, however. The Union "Nemesis" mech is the original mind of Chase, captured by the Union, tortured and broken, and then copied hundreds of times over before being locked within the distinctly inhuman Nemesis chassis for far longer than it should be. Later on, in order to defeat Nemesis, Chase chooses to stay within his own Holon well past the limit on uptime, forever locking him into his Holon. As he's now permanently within a 40-foot-tall high-tech flying battle mech, rather than his crippled organic body, he doesn't consider it a bad trade.
    • There's also an age limit on gen:LOCK pilots. Even if a pilot is compatible, the technology's dependency on high neuroplasticity — which decreases as one ages — means that a pilot can age out of the program. Leon is compatible but considered too old. When he uploads into a Holon out of desperation at the end of the first season, his brain is severely damaged when he tries to return to his body, leaving him comatose.
    • Another example is Caliban, who contains an early prototype of the gen:LOCK technology and carries a small part of Doctor Weller's own personality and knowledge in his chassis.
  • Magic, Metahumans, Martians and Mushroom Clouds: An Alternate Cold War:
    • The Soviets use technology provided by Renzaoren (a Ridiculously Human Robot uncovered in a crashed spaceship) to upload the recently deceased Stalin's mind into a computer. Unfortunately, the process drives Stalin insane, and he launches a nuke at the "traitors" in the Kremlin. Understandably, the Soviets pull the plug on him after this.
    • Francisco Franco does something similar with a supercomputer recovered from an Atlantean outpost. Since unlike Stalin he's still alive when the transition happens, he maintains his sanity. Things still don't really work out for him, though — various factions not happy with the idea of him ruling Spain forever rebel, triggering a bloody Civil War that ultimately results in the supercomputer and Franco's remaining loyalists squirreled away in a fortified compound, leaving Franco alive but powerless.
  • Meta Runner: This is what happened to the mind of Lucinia following the Project Blue incident; while her physical body barely survived intact and was able to be restored by Lucks, her mind had ended up fragmented. While Lucks was able to obtain parts of it and put them in TASCorp's servers, the other parts needed to fully revive Lucinia ended up being uploaded and merged into Dr. Sheridan's Turbo Artificial Rapid Intelligence (T.A.R.I.) AI, causing it to gain awareness before somehow ending up in a mysterious artificial body.
  • Ubiquitous in Orion's Arm, in which minds living in entirely virtual universes make up a significant chunk of the population. Entities that keep upgrading their minds will usually have to upload into a more advanced housing several times.
  • In Red vs. Blue, Artificial Intelligences work much the same way as they do in the Halo universe which the series is based on — they are created from a real person's brain, and you can make an A.I. of a still-living person by cloning their brain and whatnot. In Reconstruction, it's revealed that the Alpha A.I. that Project Freelancer tortured to create Literal Split Personalities to harvest was based on a brain scan of the project's director, Leonard Church, specifically to get around laws forbidding the mistreatment of artificial intelligence, since he argued that any tortures he inflicted on the Alpha were more or less done to himself. The Beta fragment, better known as Tex, is an unusual variant in that it was created not through psychological torture but as a side effect of the Alpha's creation, born from the Director's strong memories of his Lost Lenore.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-2000 ("Deus Ex Machina"). Both played straight and inverted. SCP-2000 creates human clones and loads preexisting neural patterns into them. Copies of neural patterns of important personnel are updated as well.
    • SCP-2048 ("The Virtual World"). SCP-2048 says that by scanning a person's brain activity and using an Auto Doc to extract and destructively analyze their brain it can put their mind into a virtual reality Lotus-Eater Machine.
    • SCP-2669 ("Khevtuul 1") is a Foundation space probe that contains the consciousness of an exobiologist named Dr. Asma Tareen. Through a combination of sheer isolation and the soul-crushing realization that there is no other life in the galaxy, she has gone completely insane and is returning to Earth at 5 times lightspeed. To try and stop her, the Foundation tried to upload the mind of a physicist, only for her to subsume his consciousness. Then they sent a psychologist to try and talk her down. Then they sent a computer expert to hack her systems. Both of these failed. Now they're sending the consciousnesses of coma patients and babies in a desperate attempt to confuse her to try and keep her away.
  • In Simulacrum, only the protagonists do this. The rest of society sees it as suicide.
  • Starwalker: Cerebral implants allow this to happen. It's how engineers examine the ship's computers. However, in the case of Starwalker, it results in the brain of Danika, the ship's pilot, merging with the AI of the ship to produce a Spaceship Girl.
  • In Truthpoint Darkweb Rising, this concept is discussed by Derek, who advocates it as a method of avoiding becoming a "deathcuck".
  • In the Whateley Universe, the supervillain named the Palm is doing the reverse. He's downloading copies of his A.I. self into the brains of (probably) already-dead human bodies, with Body Horror results. (Of course, as far as we know he started out as a human being — Dr. Abel Palm — who left his body behind to convincingly fake his death, so depending on just how successful he was, he may also be a straight example of the trope.)

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time, it's revealed that Finn's mother uploaded her brain in order to continue to protect the last remaining human civilization with a robot army as she was dying of a plague. She later attempts to force this upon the remaining humans in order to "protect" them, but Finn manages to talk her out of it.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: In the climax of "Trading Faces", Jimmy and Cindy have their brains uploaded via a Virtual Brain Pod, and Carl, Sheen, and Libby have to sort their memories into the correct minds so they can reverse their "Freaky Friday" Flip.
  • Amphibia: The greatest minds of Amphibia and past monarchs learned to cheat death by managing to upload their consciousness to a Mind Hive that would end up being known as The Core.
  • In Batman Beyond, Robert Vance does this because of an uncurable brain disorder. However, after being shut down for 35 years, he explores Gotham, discovers Terry's suit, and decides to find a new body.
  • Done unintentionally in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021). While repairing an RK Security robot, Duncan used a data cog he found in a chest in Castle Grayskull. The data cog is later revealed to be a legacy recording of Orko the Great, containing all of his memories and knowledge of magic. This uploaded information made the robot believe it was Orko the Great for some time until the reality of its robotic nature and inability to use magic finally set in.
  • Invader Zim:
    • It turns out that Tak's ship has a copy of her mind on its computer. In one episode, Dib overrides it by copying his own mind into its place, which creates its own problems when the copy thinks that it is the real Dib and Dib is a robot duplicate.
    • Another episode has GIR's programming accidentally transferred from his own robot body into the computer brain of Zim's base, giving him control over the whole complex.
  • Pantheon: The whole premise is based around humans scanning their brains into the Cloud as new thinking, feeling programs, as well as the ethical implications that carries.
  • This is the premise of Robotix. Aliens who put themselves in suspended animation to survive a solar flare storm are revived by their Master Computer, not by waking them but by transferring their "essences" into giant construction robots called Robotix. This was not their original plan, and they're very upset about it. In Marvel Comics' one-shot comics adaption, the problem is further examined in the fact that the Robotix no longer have human-sized hands with which to manipulate or repair the master computer.
  • The Simpsons: In a segment from "Thanksgiving of Horror", the Simpsons buy a "Kitchen A.I." with Marge's memories downloaded into it. Marge finds it neat at first, but she soon starts to find it creepy and uncomfortable.
    Marge: She knows everything I know! More than I know!
    Homer: Honey, it's Williams Sonoma. They wouldn't steer us wrong. That's where we got our panini press.
    Marge: The panini press doesn't remember me wetting my bunk at summer camp!
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003): In the seventh season, Back to the Sewer, it is revealed that the Utrom Shredder periodically uploaded a copy of his mind as a back-up; if he ever died, that copy was then re-downloaded into a clone body. Before that, Professor Honeycutt (a.k.a. "The Fugitoid") combined this with Lightning Can Do Anything.
  • In one episode of The Transformers, the Autobots transfer Spike's mind into a cobbled-together Transformer body that Sparkplug had made so that his mind can survive while his injured body undergoes surgery. Unfortunately, it turns out that a human mind can't function very well in a Transformer brain, and he spends the episode gradually going Ax-Crazy until they're able to put him back.
  • Transformers: Prime:
    • Optimus Prime loses his memories after using the Matrix to defeat Unicron and reverts back to his original pre-prime personality, Orion Pax. It falls to Jack to restore Prime using the Key to Vector Sigma.
    • Later, Soundwave deletes his own hard drives to prevent information from falling into Autobot hands. However, he is fully restored by Laserbeak when the drone finds him and reconnects.
  • The title characters of The Venture Bros. had their minds uploaded by Doctor Venture because they're death-prone and he keeps a stock of clones ready to replace them. Even better, Doctor Orpheus, after being unable to find their souls in the afterlife, found them inside the recording device. On one hand, this does mean the clones have the souls of the originals.... on the other hand, Rusty inadvertently made a Soul Jar.

    Real Life 
  • The Blue Brain Project. They've claimed to have simulated a rat's neocortical column and expect to be able to simulate the entire human brain by sometime in 2020, depending on which expert you ask. In practice, those who actually study brain development generally believe that it's pointless to predict such a thing, since our understanding of the brain's structure is not complete enough to create an AI.
  • The Open Worm project, which has simulated the (albeit very simple) brain of a microscopic worm in a LEGO robot.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Mind Uploading, Brain Upload


Mortal Kombat

Now a cyborg herself, Frost's "Cyber Initiative" fatality in Mortal Kombat 11 is a play on the classic Spine Rip, but with her firing a frosty chest blaster that freezes her opponent, ripping out the spine with the brain still attached, and summoning a drone that takes the brain and spine and implants it in a Cyber Lin Kuei body, as shown in this example with Kitana. Granted, while some of the kombatants like Shao Kahn or D'Vorah are unpleasant to begin with, but to forcibly turn them into robotic monstrosities is jarring.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / BrainUploading

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