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Cybernetics Eat Your Soul

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"No glands, replaced by tech. No digestive system, replaced by tech. No soul... replaced by tech."
Dr. Mordin Solus on the Collectors, Mass Effect 2

In many popular cyberpunk Tabletop Games, cybernetic implants cause "humanity loss", reducing your social traits and essentially making cyberware into a form of Body Horror. Too many implants may reduce your character to catatonia or (far more often) Ax-Crazy on steroids. If these settings also feature Psychic Powers or Functional Magic, cyberware often reduces your ability to use those as well. This trope usually accompanies the broken lesson that only cyberware inflicts humanity loss — sure, getting that Arm Cannon will dehumanize you, but not deliberately committing actual atrocities, getting hooked on hard drugs, learning Black Magic, having a mental illness that is not fictional, or other expected sources of insanity. It also becomes silly when Ridiculously Human Robots exist in the same setting and yet are depicted as more... um... human.

It does of course make a huge logical difference whether it is just limbs and other body parts being replaced, or if sections of the brain itself are being replaced with equipment which may perform inferiorly to, or merely differently from the original. Replacing parts of your uniquely balanced glandular/hormonal system with pumps might not do your personality any favors, either. And that's without even touching on subtleties like how your intestinal flora affect your mind, or how extremely complex/high-performance cybernetic parts might simply demand more processing power than your brain can supply and eat away at your central nervous system that way. Characters who are getting encased in a mobile life support coffin usually suffer this not from having parts replaced, but being put in large, scary and clumsy or destructive bodies.

This trope can be considered a form of Competitive Balance gone bad, as game designers originally used humanity loss to keep player cyborgs in line — without any drawbacks, any Munchkin worth his salt would load himself down with Kill-O-Matic 3000s slaved to his neural systems so he could kill with a thought while his brand new shiny titanium limbs ripped battleships in half. In theory, then, humanity loss forced players to choose implants carefully rather than maxing out everything.

In practice, this wasn't a good balancing mechanism; to a true Munchkin, having your character become a drooling Ax-Crazy psychopath only made it easier to justify all that senseless carnage. Some games resolved that issue by making it a rule that cyber-psychotic PCs become NPC villains, but this too was unsatisfying, especially as humanity loss was typically resolved with die rolls, and thus a player could not always predict when one more implant would end their lovingly-crafted character.

In the end, it bears mentioning that this trope happened in few (if any) of the original Cyberpunk novels that inspired these games.

More and better experience with prosthetic limbs in the 21st Century has called this trope into question. The idea that you are somehow less human because you had a limb loss is demeaning and ableist, plus real people with prosthetics show no sign of being less empathetic than before they lost limbs.

Of course, if the cyborg was dead prior to the cybernetics being installed, and it is mentioned that parts being reactivated have side-effects or don't work like the original, this is a case of Came Back Wrong.

In works of fiction, the "humanity loss" is often shown by the character turning evil, becoming emotionless or "hollow", or possibly even losing their memories.

Compare to Brain Uploading, where a person's whole personality is copied into a computer, which may work out well or may have significant problems.

Often the idea behind Dark Lord on Life Support. Compare with Magic Versus Science, Science Is Bad, Pro-Human Transhuman and The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body. Frequently the fate or concern of a Full-Conversion Cyborg See also Psycho Serum, Body Horror, Transhuman Treachery and Our Souls Are Different. If the "humanity loss" from cybernetics is seen as something desirable, see Machine Worship. See also Creative Sterility.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 8th Man has cyborgs who routinely run rampant because the cybernetic link to the nervous system along with the massive boost in strength unhinges most people's minds. Eight Man, being a (Bishōnen) Phlebotinum Rebel with "good cybernetics" is able to escape these effects and battle the evil Mega-Corp producing them.
    • The OVA Eight Man After discards this trope in favor of Drugs Are Bad - it's not the cybernetics per se that drives the users crazy, but the massive quantities of Psycho Serum they have to take to use the implants effectively. Eight Man makes do with good-old Super Serum.
  • In "The Man Who Bites His Tongue" episode of AD Police Files (a Spin-Off of Bubblegum Crisis) a RoboCop expy is just a brain and a mouth in a robot body. His body does not have a sense of touch and to compensate he is given stimulants. But he is also building up a tolerance to the drugs and the only thing he can do to stave off sensory deprivation completely is to bite his tongue.
  • In the Afro Samurai movie, Sio implies that this has happened to Kuma, saying that he's been repaired so many times, there's hardly any human left at all, just a mindless "samurai doll."
    • He later proves her wrong, by giving up his life in defense of Afro during the battle with his clone/cyborg father (who might be another example of this trope).
    • In the series he's pretty Ax-Crazy after becoming a teddy-bear Vader although this might be because he blames Afro for everything bad that happened to them.
  • In Aldnoah.Zero, this ends up happening to Inaho after he uses the processor in his cybernetic eye too often; it gradually takes over more of his brain, then temporarily takes him over entirely towards the end. It's done very badly, and comes across as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.
  • Reversed in Appleseed. Briarios, a cyborg the size of a small car, tends to be calmer and more collected than his unaugmented partner Deunan. Artificially regulated hormones might be one factor, but he was the much calmer partner of the duo even long before he became a cyborg. However, he does worry that his increasing degree of mechanization puts a strain on their relationship. But the manga strongly implies that Deunan does not mind.
  • It was averted in Astro Boy. In one story, a terrorist organization steals dogs and grafts their brains in mechanical, humanoid bodies in order to create loyal and utterly obedient soldiers. However, in the prologue of the story, Osamu Tezuka argued as far as he was concerned, the soul or spirit of the being always endures, even it if is mechanized.
  • Bubblegum Crisis calls this "Boomer Syndrome", comparing it to the eponymous androids that occasionally go on rampages when their brains roll snake-eyes. Ultimately, it's inverted: Boomers go crazy because of the influence of their Super Prototype, whose brain structure was based on a real human, making this a case of cybernetics being eaten by a soul.
  • Since Cyberpunk: Edgerunners takes place in the Cyberpunk 2077 setting, cyberpsychosis is a constant peril for those constantly augmenting themselves. Most prominent is protagonist David, who has a naturally high tolerance to cybernetics that he pushes beyond the limits to the point that he slowly but surely degrades to becoming a cyberpsycho (even with the use of immunosuppressants), culminating in him jacking into an exoskeleton and sacrificing the last bits of sanity he has to save the people he cares about.
  • Subverted in Cyborg 009, where Albert/004 is the one in the Cyborg Team with more machine parts (due to having almost half his body torn in an explosion), but is one of the most developed characters in the whole series. Somewhat played straight, too, since he constantly worries about the possibility of losing his humanity as time passes or about people seeing him as a monster, and at least two episode ("Tears of Steel" and "Man or Machine?") are fully dedicated to his struggles.
    • And there's also 0011, the main enemy in "Tears of Steel", who plays the trope straight by being at first a Tragic Monster who only wanted to have his family back, but later was Brainwashed and Crazy and lost all of his remaining humanity. 004 had to kill him in the end to stop his rampage...
  • Dragon Ball Z: Androids 17 and 18 are human teenagers who were kidnapped by Dr. Gero and turned into cyborgs. While the main timeline versions still retain something of a conscience (they deliver a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to the Z fighters in their first encounter, but spare their lives) and eventually perform a Heel–Face Turn, the ones from the Bad Future are gleefully psychotic killers. According to Future 17, their Dr. Gero programmed them to be completely remorseless and cruel.
  • Galaxy Express 999 takes this all the way. Like, literally to the end of the line.
    • "Machine-humans" slowly become depressed, neurotic, and eventually much worse over a period of decades as their human emotions and drives drift further and further out of whack with the realities of their cybernetic existence. In a sense they become mentally sick from "overliving" the way one might become physically sick from overeating.
  • As given away right in the international title, Ghost in the Shell treats the Self as clearly separate from the body, which is merely a Shell. To the series' own definition, a "ghost" is a person's soul converted into digital data as a result of cyberization. At this point, it can technically be stolen away from you if a hacker is powerful enough to do so.
    • The movies (much less so the original manga) deal a lot more with the related issue of how much particularly military cyborgs become increasingly removed from everyday life and even ordinary people and living almost in a separate world. It usually falls to Togusa, who is the only Normal with any family, to remind the other cyborgs that their police work ultimately is supposed to protect the ordinary people of the country.
    • There's also the question, if a Ghost actually needs to inhabit a Shell at all. A question that Motoko Kusanagi and the Puppeteer both proved to be true in the manga. Motoko achieved a form of transcendence in which she didn't need her body to exist anymore. She managed to exist in the internet and other realms far beyond the limits of human imagination or understanding. Her body still existed in the physical plane, but she didn't need it to be consciously active. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex lightly touched on this concept at the end of 2nd Gig, but it didn't go nearly as "deep" into the whole concept as the Man-Machine Interface manga did.
    • Ultimately though, this trope is averted, as the great majority of the human race have cyberized themselves (even Togusa) because it has become the norm for human interaction. There are some minority affiliations like the Human Liberation Front who believe that this trope is what will happen when you do become cyberized, and these people still prefer to remain completely natural, but humanity as a whole has not changed very much as a result of everyone now being connected to the internet. Almost all religions, especially the major ones, actually embrace the idea because it allows their followers to unify together.
    • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Major doesn't wear too many concealing clothes. This is touched upon in the first season when the Major says that, basically, she doesn't really have a body. Her view of her own body is that it's a shell, a replaceable object, and she admits to having a hard time reconciling with that. In the movie, this is treated a bit more grimly: she says that her being full cyborg (save for some "real brain matter in that titanium skull of hers") makes her wonder if she's not 'real', but just a poor copy made up by cybernetics, who doesn't really have a Self at all.
  • Gintama: Prof. Hayashi is willing to do pretty much anything for his dying daughter, including making talking toys, immortalizing her by converting her personality into data and transplanting it into a robot and converting his own personality into data and transplanting it into a robot in order to cope with the pain of finally seeing her die. Unfortunately, the robot housing the professor's soul swallows it completely and turns into a cold murder machine. The professor gets to die as himself at the end though.
  • Gunslinger Girl plays this trope for all its tragic, tearjerking worth. The entire plot is about girls who have been given cybernetic implants and turned into assassins. Entire episodes are devoted into exploring the is-it-a-machine-or-a-human-being problem. The girls' cybernetic implants, as well as the drugs and conditioning that they receive, are killing them while slowly destroying their minds and personalities. None of them will live to see adulthood. Yet it also subverted to, as the cyborgs for the most part accept their fate and maintain a cheery outlook, as opposed to their more cynical handlers.
  • Averted in Hellsing. The Major is revealed to be a Full-Conversion Cyborg, yet considers himself fully human and thus a true opponent capable of giving Alucard the death he craves at the hands of a human. While he is an inhuman bastard, his monstrosity has nothing to do with his robotic body.
  • The Mikura in the Karas OVAs, all youkai, who require human blood unlike their counterparts.
    • Made especially apparent by the robots in Robo Assyl where not only have they been taught by Ping to be human, but also to lie cheat and gamble along with their own religion.
    • Even greater is the Anomoly team which are composed entire of nanomachines... and ended up becoming living breathing organisms that function just like real ones. Even complete with a robot penis.
  • Lyrical Nanoha works from StrikerS on give this trope the finger. While Ax-Crazy and robotic-acting cyborgs both do exist, the former are recognizably garden-variety sociopaths rather than it being a result of being a cyborg and the latter had their personalities chop-jobbed by the sociopaths. Both are the result of having been raised by a lunatic. They are comfortably outnumbered by sane, well-adjusted cyborgs who were also raised by that same lunatic, to the point one wonders if cybernetics don't actually make you more sane. In fact, one of the aforementioned sociopaths actually has the least amount of cybernetics.
  • Both played straight and averted in Macross Frontier. The Big Bad and her Dragon are both cyborgs. The former goes completely A God Am I by the end of the series, while her former Dragon undergoes a Heel–Face Turn out of love for his newly refound sister. Though the latter is briefly interrupted by said Dragon being Brainwashed and Crazy, he shakes it off in the Grand Finale and even rejects the Big Bad's Assimilation Plot on the basis of human emotion.
  • Mazinger Z: The Iron Mask and Iron Cross are Cyborgs Big Bad Dr. Hell created by grafting cybernetic implants in the brain of corpses (many of which he, his Co-Dragons or his Humongous Mecha had murdered). Not only they are not allowed rest in peace but they have been mindwiped and programmed to be mindless slaves. One of them even gloated to Kouji Kabuto that he was glad to no longer be worried about pesky things like thinking, hesitating, worrying or fearing death, making him a perfect soldier. Of course, Kouji was not impressed:
    Kouji: "You idiot, such a thing wouldn't even be human!"
  • Sasori from Naruto claims to have thrown away his emotions when he turned his body into a puppet, although this isn't really true.
  • Bartolomew Kuma aka PX-0's fate in One Piece, though downplayed since this was a completely intended end result of the process used (he was fine, albeit The Stoic, up until his brain was replaced).
    • Also played for laughs when Luffy (and later Robin) accuses Franky of being a case of this, despite how it's nigh impossible for Franky to be any further from this trope than he already is.
  • Outlaw Star: Subverted with Harry MacDougal. The more that his body is converted into cyborg parts, the calmer and more peaceful he becomes. When he's in his final state as basically just a machine body to house his head and organs, he's practically serene.
  • In Psycho-Pass, the only thing left of Senguji after 110 years is his brain and nervous system. During an interview with the press he tries to point out the benefits of cybernetics, but he could serve as a poster boy for the Uncanny Valley with his hollow, unblinking eyes and UnSmile. It's also implied his taste for Hunting the Most Dangerous Game came about with his mortal mind rotting away with senility inside an effectively immortal body.
    • Actually averted with Senguji, he tells Makishima just before he dies that even as a young man (back when he was human), that he loved being in wars and violence. He even enjoyed having a friend's blood splattered all over him when his friend died. He was a psycho long before he became a cyborg.
  • Rebuild World has a few chapters exploring Sense Loss Sadness of Cyborgs. As for a character losing their humanity, that's explored with Tiol who gets monster Nanomachines injected into him by a Mad Scientist, dealing with Sanity Slippage, Amnesiac Resonance, and Fighting from the Inside. This results in odd behavior at different points, like being a Screaming Warrior, or Laughing Mad, or breaking down into an Attack! Attack! Attack! mindset, from the Horror Hunger of being forced to eat metal and human flesh to make monsters and/or upgrade his physical form.
  • Texhnolyze includes a cult known as the Union, who are against the titular cybernetic technology on the grounds of this trope. Their leader claims to know this since he has a Texhnolyzed arm himself, but the limbs themselves have never shown to be harmful. At least until their main power source shuts down, which leaves characters with cybernetic limbs unable to move properly.

    Comic Books 
  • All-Star Squadron's Robotman, who in the main series struggles with maintaining his humanity while being a brain placed inside a robotic body, eventually loses his humanity after the war ended in JSA: The Golden Age. In mainstream DC continuity, his brain was planted into the preserved body of his associate Chuck Grayson years later, making him human again.
  • The Doom Patrol's Robotman is a different person with similar issues, who once checks himself into a mental hospital as a result. Despite this, he is often the sanest and most level-headed member of the team. At the team is a Dysfunction Junction, that isn't very difficult.
  • The "Big Wheel" issue of Global Frequency had a half-dead soldier who'd been basically turned into a walking killing machine by cybernetic alterations. Then he saw his reflection and decided to live up to the role.
    • And one of the members of the team sent to kill him before he could spread his killing spree was a partial cyborg who emphasized to her teammates the Body Horror inherent even in just the grinding, inhuman feel of an artificial arm (and the anchoring necessary to keep it from ripping off her shoulder). The arm disgusts her — she looks in the mirror every day and vomits because of that thing. The Government, being Too Dumb to Live, they provide all the Required Secondary Powers to keep their Super Soldiers alive, but they don't give a damn about keeping them sane. Their "enhancile" can't even speak normally. And He Must Scream.
      Member 436: Try to imagine. You're a multiple amputee who's been flayed alive. You can't feel your own heartbeat. You can't feel yourself breathe. You can feel metal rubbing against your muscles and organs. And you don't recognize the man in the mirror.
    • Killing gave him sexual pleasure. This was HARD-WIRED IN.
  • The Guardians of the Universe got tired of the little issues that kept popping up with the Green Lantern Corps, and decided to "improve" upon them by inventing the Alpha Lanterns, elite volunteers converted into cyborgs via Manhunter tech. The big problem was that the connection to the Book of Oa the conversion hardwired into the volunteers turned them into puppets. The Guardians were so happy they could get what they thought was a Lantern's flexibility with a Manhunter's zeal blinded them to the fact they were less than either due to their willpower being deadened by the programming. And that was before they were shown, forcefully, that they weren't the only ones who could control said puppets...
    • Then it got worse when Henshaw above found about the Alphas. He was tired of living, and realized the conversion process was similar to his own experience. So he decided to study them, commencing mass production to study the process, in hopes of eventually reversing his own state back to normal human.
    • The Alphas are nothing compared to the Third Army, who take this tropes to apocalyptic extremes. Imagine the Alpha Lanterns, but turn them into horrifying, zombielike beings that exist only to kill or assimilate anything that feels emotion. That's the Third Army. And the worst part? The Guardians made them, intending for them to replace the Green Lantern Corps wholesale.
  • Hank Henshaw, AKA Cyborg Superman, looks like a straight example, but it's a bit more complicated. Originally part of a pastiche of the Fantastic Four Gone Horribly Wrong, he was turned into an energy being/ghost that could possess machinery after his body decayed away. It wasn't until he was rejected by his wife and wandered around space for a while that he became a hardcore villain (and even more hardcore Death Seeker). So, this is more a case of his soul eating cybernetics. He eventually found himself in a clique with the Anti-Monitor and Superboy Prime, both of whom had every intention of destroying everything that existed, including him. It didn't stick, much to his regret.
  • After becoming a Technopath thanks to the Extremis process, Tony Stark's friends and colleagues start to suspect this. Turns out the information overload is just making him a little loopy - the rest is his own normal paranoia and borderline-masochistic work ethic cranked up to 11, thanks to his new efficiency. And Skrulls, but you find that out later.
    • And at one point the cybernetics just plain eat him, overwriting his body and mind for a few issues, turning him into Girl Ultron.
    • It's now an inversion, thanks to said Anal Skrull Tony losing his Extremis powers; he's now a shell of his former self.
    • Played straight in the non-canon Iron Man: Rapture mini-series that had Tony implanting himself with a new heart after his heart attack. He ends up getting addicted to cyber enhancements and locks himself in his lab for a week, before revealing himself as a cyberbeing named 'Stark 2.0''. His brain implants have developed a separate consciousness and taken over his body, leaving him fighting a Battle in the Center of the Mind.
  • Hart Whitcraft was afraid of this happening after receiving an artificial heart in the Acclaim version of Magnus Robot Fighter. The series, and entire line, ends before we can find out.
  • The Marvel Comics superhero Deathlok got revived as a cyborg to be used as a soldier. He's now stuck with a computer linked to his brain that is constantly encouraging him to be a cold-blooded pragmatist instead of a decent human being, and it's a constant struggle of wills for him to override it. His daughter Death Locket, from Avengers Arena, is a subversion. She usually has complete control, but technopaths are able to shut down her human half and control her via her cybernetics.
  • The world of Mosely had people with cybernetic upgrades to the point of having little kids having superpowerful upgrades.
  • In Noble Causes, Rusty Noble's body was horribly mangled in an accident, and his brain was transferred into a robotic body. He struggled with his humanity for years, and eventually seemed to just give up; he started talking in a robotic monotone, without contractions, and with clipped, clinical sentences. Turns out he was faking — this happened not long after a couple of serious personal tragedies. He decided to hide his emotions by pretending he didn't have any, but on the inside he was feeling more depressed than ever. Ultimately a subversion, as Rusty never lost his ability to relate to human emotions, he just wished he had.
  • ROM: Spaceknight subverts the trope, being an extremely human and noble character despite looking like a walking suit of armor — but he fears this happening, and he loathes his metallic shell. Played with when his girlfriend Brandy becomes a Spaceknight as well — at first her personality is unaffected, but when her entire home town is murdered by the Wraiths, she succumbs to a state that Rom says he has seen in Spaceknights before: an overwhelming hatred that physically changes her armor to look more vicious, and she remains a cold-hearted killer until she's removed from the armor and becomes human again.
  • Played straight and subverted in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) series; the roboticization process used by Dr. Robotnik/Eggman normally results in a loss of free will, while the cybernetic enhancements of the Dark Legion actually don't result in a significant change of personality (though it's still considered by the mainstream public to be "unnatural"), and their status as "evil" is more from their methods of fighting for their right to continue their lifestyle, than the lifestyle itself. The original roboticization process didn't do this since its inventor, Sonic's uncle, invented it to save the lives of people whose bodies were too far gone. The loss of free will was something Eggman added.
  • Alistair Smythe, one of the many Spider-Man villains to build the Spider-Slayer robots, was at least a borderline case. After using cybernetics to become "the Ultimate Spider-Slayer" (as he called himself) he became a megalomaniac with somewhat of a god complex. He was a little more lucid in subsequent appearances, but still somewhat mad, his desire for revenge against Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson becoming a dangerous obsession that eventually leads to his death at the hands of Superior Spider-Man.
  • Cyborg (Victor Stone) of the Teen Titans played with this trope. While Victor is normally portrayed with a very forceful personality (he started out as quite an angry guy whose anger mostly stemmed from being a cyborg), he has been rebuilt and reinterpreted multiple times over the years. There have been versions of the character where it was implied that Cyborg was a full machine using what was left of Victor, but had no soul or personality; but these versions were very much the exception. Played completely straight, however, with the case of Grid, Cyborg's Evil Counterpart in the Crime Syndicate. When he first appeared in the Forever Evil (2013) storyline he co-opted Cyborg's body and it was teased that he, like the other Crime Syndicate members, was an evil alternate Vic. Later it was revealed that Grid was not only not an alternate Vic, but "he" was never even human at all.
  • Circuit Breaker from the original Marvel Transformers comics is this. Originally a humble, loyal, and cheerful woman, after a raid by the Decepticons leaves her crippled, she has cybernetic circuitry implanted onto her skin to allow her to walk, fly, and manipulate electricity. She also becomes a violent sociopath with no regard for the Transformers' factions or the actions of any individual Transformer, blaming all of them for her current state and believing that the best course of action is to kill all of them. She actually ends up helping the Decepticons more through her constant obsession with the violent destruction of all Transformers, since the Decepticons take advantage of her predictable blind response and the Autobots are a bit Honor Before Reason in this instance. The point of whether her psychosis is stronger before or after she goes through with her cybernetic implants is up for debate.
    • The Nebulans who become Headmaster partners with Transformers go through a bit of this, as the binary-bonding process links their minds with those of their Cybertronian counterparts. When the peace-loving Galen bonded with Fortress Maximus, he turned into a cold and calculating warrior, while Zarak, a Corrupt Politician who bonded with Scorponok, turned into a Blood Knight. After Galen died and Spike Witwicky took his place as Fort Max's partner, he managed to avoid most of those issues due to his laser-guided focus on rescuing his brother Buster from the Decepticons. Once that was accomplished, though, he had to deal with the fact that he was sharing a mind with the giant Autobot.
  • Subverted in Transmetropolitan, where one issue is dedicated to the concept of "foglets": humans that have turned themselves into clouds of nanomachines. When Channon's former boyfriend Ziang decides to join them, she thinks that this trope is in full effect and reacts like Ziang's going to kill himself. Spider, knowing better, gets them invited to Ziang's downloading. While Spider practically had to drag Channon there, she changes her mind when she meets Tico, who is charming, well-adjusted and unmistakably human.
    • Then played straight in another issue when Spider describes "mechanics": synthetic drugs that can be taken both by humans and by AIs. Both get high, and in the meantime the AI gets control of your DNA...and promptly starts turning bits of you mechanical.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • While there are usually factors in play beyond just the cybernetics most of the Silver Swans were decent people before their augmentations, and turned super villain with them.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Widow Sazia forces some mob members who disapprove of her and her methods to become her cybernetic hit men, after which they become mindlessly loyal to her and sadistically addicted to violence.
  • X-Men:
    • The Prime Sentinels are like this. While other types of Sentinels are stock Mecha-Mooks, Primes are something of a cybernetic Manchurian Agent, as they are humans who have had Nanomachines integrated into their bodies. When programming kicks in, they morph into armored beings with powerful weapons systems, and become, much like any other Sentinel, anti-mutant killing machines, with their former personalities seemingly deleted. This was confirmed when Rogue tried to use her personality absorption power on one, only to find there was nothing left for her to drain. (However, Karima Shapandar was indeed cured, possibly because she was a prototype.)
    • Donald Pierce and his Reavers play with the trope rather than playing it straight: Pierce is one of the first Cyborgs in X-Men, and in early appearances had a Beta Test Baddie attitude, considering himself only "half a man" because of his cybernetic enhancements, but even before becoming a cyborg he was a bitter Fantastic Racist and all-around terrible person; becoming a cyborg just gave Pierce the power to vent his rage on the mutants he hates so much. His subordinates, the Reavers, are similarly all some mixture of machine and man, but they're considerably saner than their boss, swinging between an elite mercenary unit and a Quirky Miniboss Squad Depending on the Writer.
    • This trope was initially subverted altogether with Garrison Kane aka Weapon X (no, not that one) of X-Force, who retained his heroic personality even after becoming a quadruple amputee and subsequently receiving four artificial limbs courtesy of the Weapon X program. He did acquire a rather heated grudge against Cable, but that's somewhat understandable seeing as how Cable abandoned him on a mission which led to his becoming a quadruple amputee in the first place. Later, after his original creators departed and he lost his initial purpose as a heroic Foil to Deadpool, the trope was played horribly straight, going to work for the Neverland mutant concentration camp in what can only be described as pure unleaded Character Derailment. He was Killed Off for Real shortly after..
  • Diehard from Youngblood has been a cyborg since the 40s, but in one of the later series he undergoes a series of upgrades to better perform his duties and comes out of the experience behaving much less human.
  • Dekko from Zot! is a textbook example. Although cybernetics don't seem to be inherently bad in Zot's world, the trauma of having his terminally-ill body replaced a piece at a time turned him into a Mad Artist. Of course, after a while he started to like it.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • In The Bridge, a large part of Gigan's character is him being a cyborg but he is a firm aversion. He has a definite personality, a strong Villainous Friendship with a team, and doesn't angst about cybernetics he sees as upgrades. His Readings Blew Up the Scale moment where he exceeds his machinery's limits is explicitly stated to be his soul fueling a Heroic Resolve.
  • In The Butcher Bird, one of the Augment types developed by Grigori Vinci, the Cogs, is implied to do this, as virtually all of the Cogs implanted cease to speak understandable language and have a tendency to be blindingly obsessed with technology, regardless of their previous circumstances.
  • In Celebrity Deathmatch fic, Final Stand of Death, The Council of Angels were determinate to avert this when they had the Spice Girls automated to become part of the separate fleet of The Armies of Heaven. While the rest of the girls were chilled after starting to understand how their new abilities works, Melanie starts to become depressed as a result. Celestial Paragons and Archangels helps her out.
  • Dr. Beljar invokes this trope in The End of Ends, when he takes over, since the condition for the Dark Prognosticus is to have an empty heart.
  • Done in a literal sense in Equestria Girls: Friendship Souls with the Espada Grogar, whose Resurreccion has been augumented by his experiments to incorporate reishi-constructed cybernetics, effectively making him a ghost-goat-man-cyborg. Captain Celestia feels a sense of disgust and pity at what he's literally mutilated his own soul into for power. Granted, this is more to show the depths of depravity he would sink to; it's made clear from his appearances before the reveal of his Resurreccion he was rotten long before he started "upgrading" himself to surpass his natural limits.
  • The Homestuck fanfic Tenth Life, where one of the characters has a robot body made for her after her death, but the cybernetic body robs her of all imagination and creativity. Her friends eventually decide to just end her life.
  • In the Service, building on the Lyrical Nanoha example above, posits that cybernetic enhancement is neither necessarily good nor evil: it reinforces existing traits. Mentally healthy people converted to cyborgs will withstand huge amounts of emotional trauma and stress without ill effect. People who are not mentally healthy...won't.
  • A major theme in Left Beyond, in which Metabolic Extension Controllers are used to literally keep people's souls out of Hell temporarily, by reactivating their bodies and forcibly keeping them running after God decrees their death... at the price of destroying their ability to feel pleasure and pain. This in turn damages (mildly to severely) their sense of passion, creativity, and empathy.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, this is played with when Marcus Vickers has to have cybernetics in order to save his life. While that itself is jarring, what pushes him over the edge to cruelty is feeling betrayed by Mega Man.
  • Fratello from My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic. He is Cadance's brother, and literally only evil because of his high-tech suit, which brainwashed him, while he had used it before to stop some evil aliens.
  • A prominent theme of Sonic X: Dark Chaos, especially with Tsali and Venus the Seedrian.
  • In Teen Titans: Together for Tomorrow, this is what spawned the Big Bad, Brainiac. A video diary on his spaceship reveals to the Titans he was originally a mild-mannered professor named Vril Dox, and Brainiac was the A.I. for his cyborg enhancements. Unfortunately, Brainiac overwhelmed Dox once they were more machine than man, resulting in the sociopathic Planet Looter. Despite hints that Dox's personality is buried somewhere inside Brainiac, whatever's left is completely powerless.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Back to the Future Part II, Marty is warned that the cyborg asshole Griff "has a few short circuits in his bionic implants." (In fairness to this trope, though, Griff does descend from a long line of bullying Jerkasses, so it's quite debatable how much - if any - of his Jerkassness can be blamed on cybernetics.)
  • Implied in House of 1000 Corpses: Doctor Satan appears to be some sort of self-made evil/insane cyborg. It's how he is still alive at such an unnatural age! His victims are implied to be his evil, deadly, mindless slaves and are possibly insane.
  • Iron Man: Inverted by Tony Stark. When he's completely flesh and blood, he's an arrogant playboy genius with no consideration for the consequences of his work. It's not until he has to place the miniature arc reactor in his chest that his more noble nature emerges.
  • In Kamen Rider: The First, it is explained that all Shocker agents must undergo periodic blood transfusions to stop their bodies from rejecting their cybernetic implants, forcing their loyalty to the organization. Though Takeshi Hongo/Kamen Rider 1 oddly doesn't experience this, Hayato Ichimongi/Kamen Rider 2 does. This eventually leads to his death at the end of Kamen Rider the NEXT.
  • In Nemesis the voiceover narration mentions that the main character Alex Rain worries cybernetic augmentation and replacements are making him less human. "It always scared him that they might take out his soul... and replace it with some matrix chip." This might be more about his personal worrying and not any general tendency, since completely artificial androids are shown to be capable of deep emotions and empathy. It is perhaps telling that he apparently keeps track of how much of his body is original down to tenth of a percent.
  • Inverted in Repo Men, in that Remy only becomes conscious of the horror of his profession after his real heart is replaced by an artiforg one.
  • RoboCop:
    • Downplayed in the movies. While limited by his programming, Murphy remains a man inside. It does take a while for his old personality to re-emerge; initially he is every bit the compliant, robotic cop the OCP execs intended him to be.
    • In RoboCop 2, the prototype RoboCops immediately commit murder, then suicide, within seconds of their debut. The final product, the psychopathic RoboCop 2 was a scumbag drug lord even before his conversion and after becoming a cyborg, goes completely Ax-Crazy. It probably didn't help these evil Robocops that none of their cybernetic bodies had anything resembling a human face or any resemblance to a human body.
    • Downplayed in the RoboCop: Prime Directives mini-series, where Murphy's old friend is killed and turned into an identical RoboCop (with Dual Wielding) by a Corrupt Corporate Executive (the mini-series is full of them). While, at first, he does exactly what he's programmed to do, his original personality later re-asserts itself, and he performs a Heroic Sacrifice, while preventing Murphy from doing the same.
    • In RoboCop (2014), Omnicorp attempts to suppress Murphy's humanity, but he was eventually able to overcome this. He even manages to overcome the film's equivalent of the original films' fourth prime directive.
  • In Spider-Man 2, Dr. Otto Octavius programs limited artificial intelligence into his trademark robotic tentacles in order for them to be able to work together more efficiently, and installs a Restraining Bolt to make sure he could control the arms, but not vice versa. He is driven to madness by feedback ("voices") from the arms after a lab accident destroys the chip, and becomes obsessed with finishing his failed experiment at any cost. There is also the implication that the arms are merely encouraging his worst impulses and desires.
  • Star Wars: Obi-Wan calls Darth Vader "more machine now than man; twisted and evil." Then again, Anakin was pretty twisted and evil before getting the life-support suit, and was taking his first steps towards the Dark Side before getting a prosthetic hand.
    • In an episode of Star Wars: Clone Wars, in a sequence reminiscent of Luke's Episode V experience in the cave, Anakin has a vision in which a warrior loses his arm in battle, and replaces it with a mysterious shiny, black one with great power. At first he is able to defend his home and friends with the power of the arm, but soon it reaches out and kills a bunch of stuff without him meaning to, eventually including his wife. The parallel to the loss of his own hand is clear, and it certainly tracks to his own tragic fate and reliance on the power of the Force to protect the ones he loves.
    • Downplayed with Lobot, Lando Calrissian's aide. He may seem rather soulless in the movie (the fate of many Star Wars extras), but he retains a great deal of his humanity and actually became a more upstanding and noble person after the augmentation. However, a malfunction with his implant can cause him to lose the rest of his humanity and go berserk.
    • Inverted by Luke Skywalker at the end of Return of the Jedi, where staring at his cybernetic hand points out all too clearly what he would have become if he finished off Vader. Cybernetics saved his soul.
    • Played straight with General Grievous. He has a Freudian Excuse like Vader, minus any redeemable qualities. It should also be noted that unlike Vader, Grievous voluntarily turned himself into a cyborg (or so he claims; as it's implied that he's deluding himself) just so he could be better at killing Jedi. Ironically, a Force entity implies to him in Star Wars: Age of Republic that his augmentations crippled his potential connection to the Force and that he'll never be able to match the Jedi because of it.
    • Averted with Queen Breha Organa, who explicitly refused to disguise her mechanized organ replacements. As a child, her daughter compared them to a bouquet of glowing flowers in her chest.
  • In Transcendence, Will and the hybridized humans only exacerbate RIFT's faith in this. It's even posited that, though Will's personality may be entirely intact, he's simply grown so far beyond humanity that the difference is academic. Too bad they were totally wrong.
  • Universal Soldier:

  • Downplayed in After the Revolution: Willing transhuman enhancement is treated something like a hobby or a scene, which gets increasingly more incomprehensible to outsiders the further in you get. On the flip side, those who are heavily enhanced sometimes forget what it was like to be baseline human, which creates some culture shock between them and baseline humans. Decades-old cyborgs like Roland and Skullfucker Mike appear, at best, highly eccentric to most people, and at the worst terrifying, when they forget just how much more powerful their enhancements have made them.
  • Justified in Android Karenina, where the mechanical "Face" that eventually transforms Alexei Karenin into the nightmarish Tsar With No Face was specifically designed for exactly that purpose- as part of a scheme for world domination by the Honoured Guests.
  • In Alien in a Small Town, Thrym Scyllaschild eventually allows aliens to turn him into a virtually immortal cyborg who is always happy. Always. Happy. And yet on some level he realizes he desperately misses feeling other things, but he can't quite muster the strength of will to have the change undone. It's not clear that it can be completely undone. Oh, and his new bionic form looks like a giant, cotton candy pink spider. And he's so happy about it! At least he's pretty sure he is.
  • "The Bicentennial Man": As part of their legal strategy for Andrew, the titular robot, his law firm, Feingold and Martin, tries to argue that replacing body parts with prosthetics makes people lose their humanity. They intend to lose every case, but they reach a bottleneck where the World Court claims that the brain is what makes one human, even as they say no other organ matters.
  • In the BattleTech novel Operation Excalibur, one character, whose husband recently had a limb replaced, mused that the sex the night before proved that cybernetic limbs at least don't remove a person's tenderness or passion, and thinks that the only people who tend to go coldly murderous when they have cybernetic prosthetics installed are people who tended towards that sort of behavior anyway.
    • The World Of Blake's massively cybernetically modified Manei Dominei soldiers are merciless killers, but that's more likely due to their indoctrination rather then a side-effect of their cybernetics.
    • Played (somewhat) straight with the Word of Blake's VDNI and Buffered VDNI, in that they cause insanity and brain damage after ten years or so (with medical treatment).
      • Played... bent, by Clan Enhanced Imaging technology; it does not eat your soul, but will eventually result in crippling neuromuscular degeneration despite constant treatment, and arguably a lot of the hard-core Crusaders who would use it were pretty soulless anyways. The version used as a control system for protomechs carries with it no inherent penalties different from the usual one, but due to its use as Unusual User Interface with the protomech, in which the pilot essentially becomes the machine while it's active, it can result in a "God Complex" insanity.
      • Though in the case of the psychological problems caused by EI technology the fluff mentions that social interaction, particularly with other members of their protomech unit, outside the cockpit can limit this. So apparently they only eat your soul if you're a loner.
      • Played with regarding Myomer implants, which act as electric powered muscles that can vastly augment one's strength and endurance. Despite the large alteration the procedure generally does not result in psychological problems. However patients usually become dependent on pain killers afterwards and that in itself can lead to a host of issues.
  • In Behind Blue Eyes by Anna Mocikat, it is Justified as the Guardian Angels' cybernetics are designed to make it easier to control their minds via brainwashing. They're designed to be an Internal Death Squad that eliminates all dissent to the Olympias Corporation after all.
  • Blindsight:
    • Isaac Szpindel's mechanical augments allow him to interface directly with the Cool Starship's labs — giving him all the senses that implies — but his own normal senses have been so numbed that he has to wear force-feedback gloves just to give him a sense of touch.
    • Robert Cunningham gets around this same issue by using the neurons that control his face instead. The down side is that he looks like he's got no soul to a casual observer since he is now unable to use his facial muscles and has a blank mask of a face. He has also lost his ability to use gendered pronouns, using "it" instead, even for people.
  • Cyborg by Martin Caidin: Steve Austin fears this is going to happen to him after he becomes a cyborg. It almost happens literally in the Numbered Sequel Cyborg IV, when he's sent back into space as the pilot of an experimental combat spacecraft. The spacecraft is operated via a direct Brain/Computer Interface, which is so powerful that when it's at full strength Austin no longer exists as an independent entity. He and the spacecraft are one. Since it's an experimental prototype being used only as an emergency measure, no one knows what will happen when the interface is turned off.
  • Dark Future: Dr. Threadneedle, himself significantly cybered-up, addresses this topic with Jessamyn shortly after having installed huge amounts of cybernetics and bio-augmentations in her. One of the reasons he was fired by GenTech and Dr. Zarathustra cancelled his projects was to do with the high levels of psychosis that many of his subjects suffered. He himself has been experiencing a significant lack of interest in the rest of humanity and a general feeling of detachment from the world, manifesting in trances and spending hours simply testing how long he can balance himself on his fingers or hold a significant weight: "I can do almost anything with this body, but... when you're superhuman so little seems worth the bother."
  • DFZ: Cyberware interferes with a mage's magic, so most mages choose to go without a prosthetic if they lose a limb. Opal is surprised that Dr. Lyle chose to get one. He used it to hide the coordinates of his ritual.
  • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel The Silent Stars Go By, the "Transhumans" are psychotic cyborgs who intend to eat their descendents once the planet has been terraformed for them.
  • Happens in Dragons: Lexicon Triumvirate, when the all dragons sentries of Drakemight have been turned into technodragons via the black orbs. This is the fate that happens to Lyconel when Drekkenoth captured her turning her into a technodragon turning her into a single-minded warrior that is forced to fight Dennagon in the Lexicon tower.
  • The main characters in Eden Green are infected with an alien needle parasite that renders them immortal by taking over any sections of their bodies that become injured. The main character agonizes over whether, once her head is replaced with needles, she will still be human or have a soul. It doesn't help that Tedrin, the first infectee and first to have his original head destroyed, is a psychopathic monster.
  • Walter Jon Williams's Hardwired plays a variation of this trope; a person who replaces too much of their brain-matter with implants becomes "white-brained", detached from the world and other people, obsessed with mathematical abstractions, and losing much of their emotions in the process. However, it only happens to those who are inclined towards abstract thinking to begin with - those who use their cybernetic implants to interact with physical objects like vehicles, and expand their abilities in the realms of physical talent like martial arts rarely suffer from these effects.
  • In To Hold Infinity by John Meaney, the plexcores with which the inhabitants of Fulgor augment their brains don't eat your soul so much as change it into something rather inhuman. The antagonist of the book is a hundred times more augmented than his peers, ultimately enabling him to survive death, in a fashion, and become a mind-eating planet-conquering godlike being. He maintains much of his human emotion, but has a tendency to consider other humans as obstructions or prey.
  • The Hostile Takeover (Swann) series averts this and plays it straight. Dominic Magnus has had much of his body cybernetically rebuilt, and worries about this, but in fact his emotional detachment is for perfectly ordinary human reasons. The minor character of Ambrose, though, has had much of his brain replaced as well, and is described as not really being a person anymore, but not legally an AI, and thus allowed to exist
  • In Hyperspace Demons, this is one theory as to why the Machinists (a cyborg society) cannot be possessed by the macrobes, and also why they cannot become Navigators.
  • In Imperial Radch, the Radch's dominant religion's view is that only humans can be pure, so impurities introduced to the body reduce your humanity. People who are sufficiently altered are considered so damaged they might as well be aliens. However, this doesn't stop anyone from the Radch getting audio-visual implants installed for pure practicality.
  • In INVADERS of the ROKUJYOUMA!?, two former archmages who were rebuilt as cyborgs can no longer fight with magic as they used to, being forced to rely on weapons instead. Downplayed in that this is because mages produce Mana with their entire bodies — they lost their power when their limbs were blown off, not when they were replaced. In Nana's case her new limbs actually compensate for this somewhat, due to one of them incorporating fragments of an ancient Magic Staff designed to grant magical abilities to Muggles.
  • Averted in The Lunar Chronicles with Cinder, a cyborg who is very human even though about 80 percent of her body is made of metal. However, she cannot cry and extreme emotions or exercise of her psychic powers can sometimes cause her machinery to shut down.
  • Max Barry's Machine Man addresses this with Dr. Charles Neumann. After becoming a Man in the Machine, he begins talking to his artificial parts and referring to himself as "we". He gets better... Sort of.
  • Inverted in MARZENA. Cybernetics don't eat souls, they create them and bring them together. You just have to understand how neuroglial cells (90% of the brain) works. Pay attention to your cortical feedback and stop relying so much on soulless neurobots for everything.
  • Played with horrific psychological subtlety in Damon Knight's short story "Masks" (readable online here). A man has been saved from certain death by having his brain and nervous system woven into an otherwise robotic body. Though he's retained all his memories and sense of self, his lack of human senses and physiology has left him with only one emotion: nauseating disgust and hatred for the organic life that surrounds him.
  • The Stalkers (AKA the Resurrected Men) in the Mortal Engines books were cyborg soldiers that were "resurrected" using Old Tech. The Lord Mayor of London manages to have the tech reverse-engineered from Shrike, who is a partial aversion to this trope.
  • Neuromancer:
    • A possible example, but heavily downplayed at best: Case doesn't have any cybernetics, but being online all the time gave him a deep contempt for his "meat" body and when he was cut off from cyberspace he became a ruthless drug dealer and user. The thing is, he seems to have developed a deep-seated self-loathing very early on in his life.
    • Molly Millions is an aversion. It's not the implants themselves that created some of her backstory trauma but what she had to do to afford them...
    • Surprisingly (perhaps), Peter Riviera is also an aversion. He seems to have been a manipulative sociopath all his life, with his cyberware just giving him particularly fun ways to express it.
  • C. L. Moore's "No Woman Born": The deceased starlet Deirdre is brought back to life in a robotic body. Her builder, Maltzer, regrets doing so and is convinced she will eventually lose her humanity. Deirdre, however, is thrilled to be alive again and ignores his exclamations of worry. It's only when he threatens suicide that she admits she does have doubts about her retaining her humanity, and her voice turns just a little more metallic in the final line.
  • This is implied for full-body replacements in Please Don't Tell My Parents You Believe Her. The replacement body is never entirely human, and Penny is repeatedly warned to remember to sleep if she wants to maintain her humanity. Whether this mental adjustment is a bad thing is a central theme of debate in the book.
  • Quantum Gravity: Lila worries that this will happen. In something of a twist, it's not that she's worried about her human parts being replaced by more mechanical ones (at first), it's that her organic and inroganic parts are slowly integrating—she's told her AI and her brain will stop being separate soon. And then the magic metalloid fleshoid stuff starts growing to encompass more of her body, and she frets even more because she is losing all of her human body.
  • Zigzagged somewhat by the Revelation Space universe.
    • In Redemption Ark, there is a description of the effects of a prosthetic body (plus a physics-altering energy field) on a Conjoiner villain: "Her thoughts shifted and coalesced with frightening speed, like clouds in a sped-up film. She flickered between moods she had never known before, terror and elation revealed as opposed facets of the same hidden emotion." However, it's less "Eats your soul", and more "making changes to the underlying machinery of cognition will result in you thinking in very, very unusual ways". The villain in question undergoes such extensive cybernetic replacement because she will not abandon the chase, and her personality afterwards is driven by the same basic motivations.
    • In Diamond Dogs, the central characters are made more and more alien by cybernetic means, but again, becoming alien (or rather, able to think in a sufficiently alien way as to solve the increasingly lethal puzzles they are presented with) is what they set out to do in the first place, again arguing a continuity of personality despite the radical modification of form - up to a point, anyway. Unfortunately they recruited a cyberneticist whose dedication to his art is extreme, to say the least.
  • Discussed in Robota, eventually concluding that non-visible augmentations are perfectly safe psychologically. Making yourself look like a robot, on the other hand, is generally connected to rejection of humanity, and hence to Transhuman Treachery. (Incidentally, this setting has no Ridiculously Human Robots, so robots that embrace emotion ignore this rule.)
  • In Cordwainer Smith's famous debut short story, Scanners Live in Vain, this is a major theme. Due to a mysterious effect that interplanetary space has on the human body, causing physical agony and eventually a suicidal compulsion, anyone who goes into space must either be in cold sleep, or have their sensory nerves severed so that they have no senses but the eyes, in which case their bodies must be regulated and monitored by implants. This is mostly done to "Habermen," convicts who have been sentenced to a Fate Worse than Deathnote , but because Habermen must be monitored, there is a small group of elite pilots, officers and engineers who undergo the same procedure, called the "Scanners." When a scientist discovers a way to travel safely in space without undergoing this procedure, the assembly of Scanners, whose cannot become hot-blooded or otherwise feel emotions viscerally, vote to assassinate him. Meanwhile, the hero, who is temporarily "cranched" (able to feel normal sensations) is outraged, declares the others to be "zombies," and vows to save the scientist. Part of the moral of the story is that the cold logic of the head must be regulated by the body. Unlike many examples of this trope, it turns out the severing process can be reversed, "restoring" the soul.
  • Tanner Sack, a secondary protagonist in The Scar and all-around nice guy voluntarily undergoes Remaking to become more amphibious, as his new home is a floating city.
  • Going into "Nanoshock" and becoming "Necrotech" is a very real danger in K.C. Alexander's SINless books. Every humans have an extensive amount of nanites and many will have further bionics, with cybernetics enthusiasts really pushing the boundaries. Unfortunately humans have a limited "tech threshold", after which the body can't handle all this energy-intensive hardware and shuts down. Plus even if are you well below the tech threshold, if the nanites in your body exhaust their energy supply then they will start to break down the host body for energy. This is going in to "Nanoshock" and if the person dies, the corpse becomes animated by the nanites and the resulting high-tech zombie becomes known as "Necrotech".
  • Grigari nano-cybernetics do this in the Star Trek novel Star Trek: Federation, although it doesn't affect the personality so much as the stuff below it - essentially Flanderizing the user. Also, the guy whose soul was being eaten was a psychotic Optimum agent obsessed with Zefram Cochrane and a physically impossible "warp bomb", so it's quite possible everyone would have been better off if it did take out the emotions.
  • The Choblik race introduced in the Star Trek Novel Verse are an inversion. They were originally reasonably intelligent woodland creatures before a race of unknown Builders installed their implants, giving them sapience. Upgrades throughout childhood and adolescence are celebrated rites of passage in their culture. Choblik crewmember Torvig Bu-kar-nguv of the Titan initially doesn't understand why everyone fears the Borg so much. In Star Trek: Destiny the full implications hit him and he's horrified. This trope, and thus the Borg, are essentially the anti-Choblik, their most primal horror.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • Ton Phanan of Wraith Squadron was a doctor before losing a leg, and half of his face during the Battle of Endor. It's debatable whether the cybernetics specifically or his highly-visible injuries are more to blame, but nonetheless Phanan became increasingly cynical and depressed, hiding in snark. The author is on record as saying that although Phanan feared death and struggled against it, deep down he didn't want to live.
      Phanan: There's no mechanical replacement for a future, Face. And every time I take a hit, and they have to cut away another part of me and replace it with machinery because I'm allergic to bacta, every time that happens I seem to be a little further away from the young doctor who had a future. He can't come back, Face. Not all of him is here anymore.
    • In one novel Tenel Ka loses an arm. She refuses to replace it cybernetically due to family values. Luke supports her decision and explains that while he prefers to have his arm replaced, he always keeps in mind this is a step in direction of Vader - "half human, half machine".
    • Also one argument why Vader was irredeemable was that he was "more machine than man".
      • The comic Star Wars: Legacy plays with this. An Imperial Knight was badly wounded so they gave her a "Vader" Life Support system. One of the healers was worry about making another Vader, however the other pointed out that Vader turned evil before being put in his suit. She's still mostly the same, but since she was fine with dying before and now can't touch anything without feeling pain she's pissed.
    • The Dark Forces Saga has robotic Darktroopers; supplemental material mentions that the prototypes were aging veteran clone troopers who had around seventy percent of their bodies replaced with cybernetics. Combining the weight of their experience with stronger, faster, more damage-resistant bodies made them extremely effective in combat, but no one had consulted them beforehand. That's why the project switched its focus to droid troopers - droids don't gape in horror at what they have become and kill themselves or just act really recklessly in battle, wasting good credits and tech.
    • One of the Imperial Grand Admirals, Teshik, was known for being humane and compassionate, moreso than the others. After he failed Palpatine, he was sent on a suicidal mission, survived, and came back, but so badly wounded that a good seventy-five percent of his body had to be replaced with cybernetics. This put him in the NonhuMan category; in that 'verse, bacta therapy is so effective that cyborgs are seen as weak and inferior. As a result of this, Teshik grew cold and distanced himself from his emotions. But his soul hadn't been eaten; a construction worker saved him on Endor, reawakening his true nature, and he fought on until his Star Destroyer was captured. Then the New Republic executed him for atrocities he, the least evil Grand Admiral, never committed; his mechanical laughter at hearing his sentence is said to be the saddest thing those who witnessed it ever heard.
    • At the end of The Truce at Bakura:
      Luke: Alliance surgeons can do wonderful things with prosthetics. They'll treat you at Endor.
      Dev: Prosthetics? Sounds like entechment.
    • Because it relies on two different kinds of technology, one even more esoteric than the other, possibly the ultimate example of this has not really had a chance to be explored— using a refined version of the entechment process (mentioned above) to have one's "spirit" placed into a replica droid of oneself. The only person known to try it was already evil when he went for it, but it didn't seem to affect his personality any.
      • In "Children of the Jedi", another character went through a similar process to save his life from an incurable disease. He later mentions that, apart from his hands, he has no real sense of touch. Also, all his memories have been converted to information. When remembering a picnic, he knows things like the color of the cloth, or what food they had, but it's just a text file, he can't visualize the memory. C-3P0 notes, though, that he can still do things no true droid can do, like make guesses, or eyeball measurements.
    • Force lightning isn't possible with cybernetic hands but other force powers may or may not be affected by replacements. Vader is much less agile than before his transformation but there is the question if it is because of a weaker connection with the force, the shoddy suit design or the limitations that went with producing the movies in the 80s.
    • Dengar was forcibly turned into a cyborg by the Empire. In the process, they removed all the emotional centers of his brain they didn't feel would be useful for their purposes — no love, kindness, etc. He is intellectually aware of what an emotional cripple he is now, and wants to feel nice things again.
  • There Will Be Dragons has a mother appalled at the prospect of her teenage daughter uploading herself into an A.I., not because the uploading process is inherently flawed, but because she's so young. The upload will emulate her brain as it is now, so her brain will never have the chance to undergo the physical maturation processes of adolescence, and she will remain neurologically (and, it is implied, emotionally) a flighty teenager for the rest of her very long life.
  • In Sasya Fox's Theta the preeminent religion on Jale's homeworld believes that if you lose any parts of your body in life you lack them in the afterlife as well. She's not religious but still a little disturbed when one of her crew (from a more "pragmatic" culture) decides to replace his crippled arm with a prosthesis instead of waiting for them to find a hospital that might be able to salvage it.
  • The Tin Woodsman from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz claims to be an example of this, since he literally has no heart—or any other organs, for that matter. The Wicked Witch of the East cursed him to repeatedly accidentally injure himself with his axe, so eventually his whole body (including his chest, where his heart used to be) had to be replaced with tin. Now he's just a thinking, moving suit of metal with no internal organs at all, but any idiot can see that he doesn't need a physical heart to have a spiritual heart. When he accidentally crushes a bug beneath his foot on the Yellow Brick Road, he cries so hard that his jaw rusts shut.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played with on The 100. People who ingest A.L.I.E.'s computer chips have their brains rewired so that they no longer feel pain, whether physical or emotional. This includes erasing painful memories, to the point where people can't even remember the names of loved ones who have died. The inability to feel pain also seems to make them unable to care about the pain of others except in an abstract sense. However, instead of condemning cybernetics, A.L.I.E.'s creator simply developed A.L.I.E. 2.0, a cybernetic implant that enhances people's brains without taking away their humanity.
  • In Babylon 5, cybernetic implants ended up causing too many complications to be a viable technology. The only example of an advanced cyborg was Abel Horn from "Spider in the Web", who was essentially turned into a half-mechanical zombie with little remaining of his original personality. The episode "Deathwalker" also has the curious and ambiguous case of an alien called Abbut, whose brain has been heavily cyberized to act as a living, telepathic recording device. On the surface he seems to have a cheerful, easy-going personality, but as far as telepathic mind reading can tell, he has no thoughts whatsoever — whether this is because the cybernetics disrupt the scan or because his "personality" is actually some kind of recording is never explained.
  • In the short-lived 2007 Bionic Woman reboot, the protagonist's Ax-Crazy predecessor, Sarah Corvus, apparently became psychotic as a result of her bionic implants.
    • The fact that said implants are malfunctioning and that she is possibly near death may have something to do with it, though.
  • Blake's 7: Mutoids have their memories (and thus personalities) wiped, having no reason to exist outside their service to the Federation. They also ingest blood directly. Federation officers therefore regard them as barely human and thus entirely expendable.
  • The Book of Boba Fett: Subverted. The water supplier speaks of the Mods as monstrous figures who are only half-human and half-machine, but they're a friendly group of cyborgs and the supplier is speaking out of greed and prejudice.
  • Inverted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer when a computer chip acts as a functional substitute for Spike's soul. Though Buffy insists otherwise.
  • In Chuck, later versions of the Intersect cause Morgan and Sarah to lose memories. Morgan also undergoes dramatic personality shifts as a result.
  • In Continuum, Kiera gets a very rude awakening in "Playtime" about just how much her CMR has eaten her soul when Liber8 uses it to take over control of her body and attempts to use her as an assassin. She's only saved from killing people by Alec hacking her CMR as well and taking control of her instead. At the end of episode, she tearfully tells Alec that she needs "another reboot," and it's obvious that she's realizing, and grieving over, the loss of her humanity.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Cybermen are said to have lost their ability to feel emotion during their transformation, as a species, from biological entities to cyborgs, either deliberately or as a byproduct of their cybernetics (depending on who wrote the story). In the new series, which presents Cybermen as Body Horror, emotion-inhibiting firmware is used to prevent the forcefully Cyber-converted individuals from killing themselves upon realizing what they've become.
      • This is occasionally averted with some strong-willed humans who retain a sense of self after conversion, usually using it against the Cybermen. One standout example is Mercy Hartigan from "The Next Doctor", who is so intelligent that she takes over the Cybermen and makes them her minions.
    • Similarly, the Kaleds of the planet Skaro who suffer the mobile life-support coffin variety in becoming the (in)famous Daleks. It's never made clear if it was the accelerated mutation or the placement in the mechanized armour that caused the genocidal insanity all Daleks share.
      • "Genesis of the Daleks" strongly suggests that it was Davros' tinkering that causes the Daleks unrelenting villainy. In fact, it is when he orders the Dalek organisms to be bred without the capacity for things like mercy and reason that the other Kaleds revolt. Naturally, his desire to make the Daleks ruthless results in them turning on him.
      • The Daleks' creator Davros. His further descent into Ax-Crazy land is punctuated with the steady decay of his body and growing dependence on Dalek-like replacement parts, making him a poster child for this trope.
    • The Toclafane, withered human heads in cybernetic spheres, are the result of humanity trying to survive the end of the universe. In doing so, they turned into Ax-Crazy Psychopathic Manchildren who kill because it's "fun". Mind you, the Master's involvement in proceedings cannot have helped, especially as that seems to be their modus operandi a lot of the time.
  • Even though she was probably joking, Kilo invokes this trope in the finale of Dollhouse. She is part of a team of cybernetically-enhanced vigilantes who can download specialized skills to their brains and store them on thumb drives. When asked what she takes out of her head to make room for the extra knowledge, she holds up a thumb drive labeled "MERCY" and grins.
  • Fringe:
    • The Observers don't look cybernetic, but some of their physical and mental abilities are granted or enhanced by an implant in their brain. Over time, it takes over the areas of the brain that govern emotion. Though interacting with people who do have emotion can still create it in them, it seems to be a slow and limited process, and they don't like to admit it.
    • In Season 5, when the Observers have become the Invaders and rule Earth in a Bad Future, Peter kills one of them and steals his brain implant in order to level the playing field and avenge his and Olivia's daughter. The transplant leads to catastrophic changes in his personality.
  • In Hyperdrive, Sandstrom is an "Enhanced Human" cybernetically connected to the ship's controls, who has a personality somewhere between Commander Data and the Enterprise computer. One episode has her "replaying" the events immediately before her enhancement, revealing she was a cheerful (if somewhat dim) young woman.
  • In Lexx Kai, Last of the Brunnen-G, is slain by His Shadow in the pilot and his corpse is made into a Divine Assassin. The process "decarbonized" him, removing any last trace of organic material in his body. He's a bio-mechanical cybernetic cadaver animated by protoblood that only looks the same as his previous living self. Even after he regains his memories and willpower he is still sadly unable to fully express emotions and cannot truly reciprocate Xev's love (no matter how much he may wish to do so).
  • The original The Six Million Dollar Man had Jaimie Sommers have a similar problem when her body started rejecting her implants, causing her maddening pain that drove her berserk and forcing Steve Austin to restrain her for emergency surgery that she seemingly didn't survive.
  • Generally, Star Trek mistrusts such replacements. Picard's replacement heart malfunctions and nearly kills him in "Tapestry" (Q points out that a normal heart would not stop in such a situation), Geordi's VISOR is abused a couple of times by Romulans,note  Nog's leg hurts until he realizes the pain is entirely psychosomatic in "It's Only a Paper Moon", etc.
    • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", Christine Chapel's ex-fiancé Roger Korby uploaded his mind into an android before his death. The resultant android is an ends-justify-the-means sociopath, who suffers a My God, What Have I Done? moment when this is finally made clear to him.
    • An ironically poignant lampshade of this phenomenon is given by Data, of all people, in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Measure of a Man"; in response to the prospect of being disassembled and studied for a mass-production experiment, he voices his concerns over being damaged in the process by comparing the memory transfer he'd undergo — and the subsequent loss of the "essence" of those memories — to the difference between reading about playing poker in a textbook and actually playing it in real life. To sum up, he theorizes that it's the loss of context, the subtle details about an experience, and the events surrounding them that make the experience memorable and familiar that prevents people from accepting a robotic life or truly understanding and appreciating an event being told to them second-hand.
    • The Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation, which were once planned to be robotic insectoids at the end of the first season, until budget and other behind-the-scenes problems wound up only vaguely hinting at them. Of course, the Borg we all know and (no longernote ) fear showed up in the second season. In Star Trek: First Contact, they assimilate Data by putting organic components into him.
      • In the Expanded Universe Star Trek: Destiny series, it's revealed that the Borg aren't evil because of their cybernetic nature or because of their Hive Mind, but because the first assimilation process went horribly wrong, and subordinated the minds and bodies of its victims to an alien entity who had faded away entirely save for an all-consuming hunger.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine plays with this trope with Vedek Bareil in the episode "Life Support". After slowly dying, Kira tried to keep him alive by replacing his body with cybernetics. After half of his brain was replaced with a positronic matrix, the sudden change in sensation (which he describes as being like an echo of what he once felt) is enough for him to want to die instead of going further and Dr. Bashir, the attending physician, agreed with that sentiment. He remained himself throughout the procedure (though in increasing pain and disorientation), but Bashir admitted that the unprecedented last step needed to save his life, trying to replace the other half of his brain, not only was nigh impossible but, if it worked, wouldn't leave him as Bareil anymore. With the entire brain replaced by positronic implants, what was left would've essentially been an android with copies of Bareil's memories.
    • Star Trek: Picard:
      • Discussed in "Stardust City Rag" when Seven of Nine asks Picard if he got his humanity back after being liberated from the Borg.
        Seven: After they brought you back from your time in the Collective... do you honestly feel that you regained your humanity?
        Picard: Yes.
        Seven: All of it?
        Picard: ...No. But we're both working on it. Aren't we?
        Seven: Every damn day of my life.
      • Lampshaded in "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2" by Crisóbal Rios when he's concerned about the potential side effects of using Saga's omnitool to repair his ship.
        Rios: Honestly, I'm a little afraid of it. Like, if I use it too much, it's gonna eat my soul.
      • Oddly averted entirely at the end of the above episode, when Picard's neurally-mapped brain pattern is transferred into a "golem" android.

  • In the folk music/prog rock/metal Rock Opera album 01011001 by Ayreon, the main characters are a race of fish aliens that rely on machines to keep them alive, and as a result, they lose their emotions and ability to really experience life. They try to regain them by creating and living vicariously through humans. It works, and in the end, after humanity destroys itself, they stop the machines so that they can die. Probably. Ayreon is kind of a Mind Screw.
  • Nine Inch Nails' "The Becoming" is all about this:
    That me that you know used to have feelings
    But the blood has stopped pumping and hes left to decay
    The me that you know is now made up of wires
    And even when Im right with you Im so far away
  • One of the suggestions of the song "Mr. Roboto" by Styx, and the Rock Opera it comes from, Kilroy Was Here
    The problem's plain to see
    Too much technology
    Machines to save our lives
    Machines dehumanize
  • In the Vocaloid song series "New Millenium" (consisting of Risoukyou ~Utopia~, A Faint Wish, and ~Shinseiki~ New Millenium), all of humanity suffers from this. The couple from the beginning is put into robot bodies and lose their love for each other, and a pair of twins are the only ones left with souls, until one of them dies. The other, however, manages to change history so that the mass-Cybernetics Eat Your Soul and the war that prompted it never happens.
  • The Soul Doctors from Fireaxe's 4-hour Food for the Gods.
    Lay thee down thy weary soul
    Give to us complete control
    Upon the alter thy heart and mind
    A sacrifice of the truest kind
    Empty vessel you shall be filled
    With sterile thoughts and happy pills
    Enter now the veil of sleep
    Join the flock of human sheep

  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: One storyteller sketch has him approached by the Prime Minister to put Queen Victoria's brain in a robot body. The storyteller points out this will happen, then adds he's not going to refuse, he's just saying. Sure enough, Robo-Vic goes on an insane rampage, slicing people in half with giant novelty scissors.
  • Quiet, Please (1947): The narrator of "Is This Murder?" says that man was not meant to meddle around with human life by putting brains in robots, and that doing so would leave only the "evil" part of one's personality behind. The ending reveals that in fact the man is a brain in a robot body, and he has in fact lost his morality, and he is about to murder the listener as well as the two people who left him in that state.

    Tabletop Games 
  • All Flesh Must Be Eaten provides rules for Essence loss from cybernetics and "cyberpsychosis" in its All Tomorrow's Zombies supplement... but made it clear they were optional for two reasons. One was that such rules went against the Rule of Fun that AFMBE embraces (who has time for moral dilemmas when there are undead to kill?!?); the other is that when there are undead wandering around, the question of where the line between humanity and inhumanity lies is already pretty much answered, so it's not exactly relevant.
  • Alternity uses Cybertech that is mostly safe, barring the chance of rejection, which one species doesn't have. There is a limit on how much cybertech you can have, and two products come with a built in risk of Cykosis, notably the Fast Chip. Cybertolerance determines how much cybertech you can handle before rejection is automatic, and there are ways you can increase your tolerance.
  • Averted with the Therians, of AT-43. Despite being the Big Bad of the setting, they are not very warlike or evil (in fact, they have long ago forgotten how to fight, making them rely on MMORPGS for tactics). They just don't seem to get why the other races keep shooting up them for trying to blow up their solar systems in order to make Dyson Spheres in order to save the universe form dying of old 25 billion years. So its more like Cybernetics makes you a Cloud Cuckoo Lander. (Except for their Warrior Guild, who all Leeroy Jenkins.)
  • An option for cybernetics in Atomik Cybertek.
  • Mostly averted in BattleTech with one major exception. Cybernetics that directly mess with a person's brain, such as various enhanced neural interfaces, are decidedly bad for their health and sanity (this is one reason ProtoMech pilots have a life expectancy of at best about a decade even if they don't get killed in battle), but most other implants are fairly safe — though except for the Word of Blake's Manei Domini cyborgs (who tended to be Ax-Crazy before they started going chrome), they also tend not to provide much in the way of superhuman abilities other than the occasional hidden weapon in a prosthetic limb or the like.
  • Bleak World has it Zigzagged with the Cyborg class of the Alien Race and the Android class of the Experiment Race. The Cyborgs are aliens, so were likely going to be evil anyway. The Androids on the other hand are dead teenagers brought back to life with technology, and are described as the most psychotic of the experiment classes. However, there is no rule or mechanic making the Android worse than another experiment. In fact they have the 3rd lowest humanity cap to remain in disguise.
  • The Bubblegum Crisis tabletop RPG has a mechanic for this trope which is derived from Cyberpunk's. However, there are mild subversions. First of all, it is explicitly stated once in the writeup of the Humanity stat that cybernetics are not the only way to lose Humanity. Second, counseling can help out quite a bit. Other than this and a certain lack of explicit psychic or magical loss, both being foreign to the setting, the trope is played straight, especially since counseling is only guaranteed to succeed if the patient has removed all cybernetics.
  • Cyberpunk 2013 and Cyberpunk 2020: The problem was primitive (i.e. mostly mechanical) implants like hydraulic legs or augmented arms decrease Humanity by 2d6 while coprocessors (computers implanted into one's brain with optional false memories, capable of overriding cognitive and neurobiological functions) incur measly 1d6 decrease. No cyborgized firefighters and combat paramedics for you. Interestingly, Cyberpunk delved a lot deeper into the actual reasons why this trope would exist, and went to some rather interesting places. Cyberpsychosis stems in part from alienation, both from body dysmorphia (you now have body parts that literally aren't part of your body, and feel like it), and feeling different (when you can benchpress a dumpster and see in the infra-red, it becomes increasingly difficult to see what you have in common with the puny, half-blind meatbags you are surrounded by), and from physical damage to the nervous system caused by removing and replacing bits of it. Cyberpunk RED explicitly makes the comparison to depersonalization/derealization disorder, with cyberpsychosis leaning into the idea that you are not you, the other people around you aren't necessarily real, and thus, anything goes. All of these factors can be mitigated or (in some exceptional cases) eliminated by keeping your implants minimally invasive, having the installation done in a proper hospital by a trained surgeon, who can keep the damage to a minimum, and getting proper psychiatric care to deal with the mental issues. Of course, these things are very likely to be out of reach of the average player character, and hammer home the difference between the haves and the have-nots.
    • Made even worse for 'Borgs. Many full body conversions have a human brain as a plug-n-play Wetware CPU. They are like the Servitors of Warhammer 40K, but the brains can be put into another body. One conversion, the Dragoon, combines this trope with And I Must Scream. The cyberware and the drugs keep the thing (barely) controlled. It acts almost like a dumb robot. But your character can recover some humanity loss by moving into another body. Just now he/she has horrible nightmares and flashbacks from having been a 7-foot-tall killing machine.
      • A major theme, especially for police characters, are full cyborgs who have gone cyberpsycho, running amok in their 500-pound metal bodies, wreaking havok with heavy weaponry. The task of dealing with these nutjobs falls to a police force's Cyber-SWAT team, who are often extensively cybered as well and use heavy gauss rifles and anti-vehicle weapons to take the psychotic 'borgs down. If they manage to catch the perp alive, they get sent straight to the clinic, stripped of most cyberware, and then spend a long time in a recovery ward (on top of serving prison time for their crimes).
      • Defied by antagonist Adam Smasher. Smasher was a soulless psychopath way before he was cybered up to the gills by Arasaka. Having few human emotions to begin with, and no attachment to the ones he did have, made cybering up to the point of cyberpsychosis and beyond an easy choice.
    • In Cyberpunk RED, you can replace the limb that was blown off on the last job with a medical-grade cybernetic one at no humanity cost as long as the latter has the same capacities (strength, dexterity, no internal weapons, etc.) as the former. Humanity losses kick in when the cyberlimb has capabilities far beyond what your old hand could do.
    • Another less-mentally-taxing alternative is bioware and biotech: augmentations that supplement and assist your body's natural processes instead of outright replacing them,(Usually. There are exceptions, but even those are organic instead of mechanical). Examples include custom antibodies and nano-surgeons that can supercharge your immune system, nanobots that weave polymers through your bones and muscles to make them stronger, custom-grown replacement organs with bonus features (like an appendix that actually does something), and much more.
  • d20 Modern ignores this by default - your Constitution score limits how many cybernetics you can take because healthier people can handle it better. Going over the limit inflicts negative levels, but that's to represent the excessive cybernetics compromising your health. There is an optional "piece of your soul" rule in the Cyberscape book, but the cost is a relatively minor Experience Point expenditure instead of some kind of permanent "damage" to your soul. The rules are much more on board with having fun with what you've got, rather than dictating how your character should act or feel about them.
  • Dark Future supplement Dead Mans Curve introduced rules for cybernetics and for psychosis caused by the stress and trauma of the life of Renegades and Ops. Cybernetics increased your base level of pyschosis.
  • In Deadlands: Hell on Earth, a distinction is made between cyborgs (undead with cybernetic parts) and scrappers (living humans with cybernetic parts). While cyborgs suffer no ill effect because the power for their cybernetics comes from the soul of a demon spiritually shackled to their heads, scrappers have their Spirit die type reduced (or their total dice if they're already at d4) when they replace major body parts. This is because they power their devices with their soul: battery-powered devices are available, but expensive; and in a pinch, non-vital systems can be turned off to increase their dice again. This is all well and good, fair and balanced, except for one thing: the Spirit die type is used primarily for magic rolls, faith rolls, and guts rolls. Apparently having your super-powered buzzsaw arm running makes you more likely to run away?
    • It's also worth noting that Cyborgs are actually more mentally stable than normal Harrowed, as their manitou are chained up in the basement next to the boiler, not running around the bedroom with a knife. What makes cyborgs crazy is their asshole onboard A.I.s that have arbitrary rules of engagement that the cyborg is forced to follow. With no AI, or an AI without idiot rules, cyborgs are more sane than normal people... because armor 8 means you can face down anything in the waste and laugh.
  • The White Wolf D20 setting DragonMech has a character class dedicated to installing steam-powered prosthetics, which has an ability called "Lose Self" forcing them to pass a Charisma check or spend a day as an emotionless robot.
  • One of the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual supplements introduced "half-golems", which are about as close to cyborgs as a fantasy setting gets. Having limbs replaced with golem parts can restore function and increase strength, but requires a Will save, which gets more difficult as the number of replacements increase. Failure on the save represents the trapped elemental spirit gaining control of the whole body, and, though still trapped, it can now express its displeasure, transforming the victim into a full Construct and engendering a murderous hatred of the living.
  • Decisively averted in Eclipse Phase. Your mind is software and can be "resleeved" into anything from another human form to an uplifted octopus or even a futuristic tank. If for some reason you want to keep your old body, you can still deck out it with an array of cybernetic and biological modifications, without any limitations whatsoever.
    • The closest thing being some temporary stress when re-sleeving (especially when the character remembers dying).
    • However, the Jovian Junta firmly believes in this trope, the only starting morphs available to characters with the "Jovian" background are unmodified "Flats" and minimally modified "Splicers". Though they're more tolerant of cybernetic augmentation than genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and especially Brain Uploading.
  • Exalted also mostly averts this trope with the Alchemical Exalted; in 1st edition, only the most inhuman enhancements for Alchemicals (death tentacles, massive brain modification, spider legs) caused any degree of humanity loss. Even then, a low-humanity Alchemical isn't crazy, just cold and detached.
    • In 2nd ed, they get the justified version of the trope with Voidtech, Charms which draw on the metaphysical disease that's killing their god-world. An Alchemical who goes too far, accumulates too much Void-taint, soon descends into murderous psychopathy. There are also ways for Creation's Exalted to implant Voidtech, letting them join the fun.
    • There's another justified 2nd ed version — Clarity. As an Alchemical's Essence rises, they run the risk of becoming more mechanical in mind as well as body, bordering on Straw Vulcan behaviour. With that said, while most Alchemical Charms are cybernetic or mechanical in nature, the majority are not Exemplary and thus do not modify Clarity - those that do tend to concentrate on distancing the Exalt from humanity either physically (such as using Manifold Transhuman Implants to bolt on an extra pair of arms) or mentally (by, for example, harmonising with the inhuman mind of Autochthon to gain information). Meaning Cybernetics only Eat Your Soul if you deliberately choose to let them, and with the exception of the Weaving Engines, you can always have them removed to push yourself back to a more human mentality.
  • Fading Suns: Mostly averted, as this trope only happens if you take the "Cybernut" disadvantage. Then again, the resident Church Militant declares you soulless if more than 64% of your body has been replaced, but that's really them going nuts, not you.
  • Feng Shui has two major ways to enhance yourself with cybertech:
    • "Arcanowave" implants are icky Mad Scientist tech that are made of demons and Black Magic. Here, the danger is not so much losing your humanity in the typical cyberpunk sense the more you get cybered up, but having bent magic sent into your system like a virus whenever you use it. Use it too much, and you start mutating into something horrific and run the risk of becoming an abomination, one of those altered demons that the government of 2056 uses to fight its wars.
    • Conversely, those who use hardware schticks are rather well-adjusted, averting the trope, though hardware schticks do have their own little drawbacks (mainly being bulky as hell and nigh-unconcealable, particularly if you get the whole package). The people who primarily use the stuff, the Jammers, run the gamut from Well Intentioned Extremists to batshit crazy people who just want to blow everything sky high, but that's mainly a personality thing and not an effect of the cybernetics.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • The Adeptus Mechanicus can certainly come across as inhuman, and commonly replace even their brains with machinery, but the causation is the reverse of this trope; Tech-Priests are supposed to shun the weaknesses of flesh for the steely logic of the machine, and consider cyborgization as moving closer to that ideal. Even so, not all Adeptus Mechanicus members fit this stereotype: Sandy Mitchell has given us an obnoxious zoobiology otaku who has to be babysat by Ciaphas Cain's patrol, a Genki Girl with "no head for theological matters," another who loves to eat junk food, and a Deadpan Snarker. Of course, according to their doctrine, machines have their own souls anyway, so cybernetics are no more spiritually significant than organ donation.
      • Servitors and arco-flagellants, mindless menial laborers and berserk killing machines respectively, both have their limbs replaced with tools/weapons, but their "soullessness" is due to being lobotomized at the start of the process. Space Marine Dreadnoughts can come across as mildly senile, but this can probably be put down to their injuries prior to internment within their life-support systems, or the fact that they're usually hibernating unless their chapter needs them. Chaos Space Marine Dreadnoughts were debatably insane to begin with, and if not then sensory deprivation is more to blame than their new metal bodies.
      • Titan "machine-spirits" come close to playing this trope straight - the larger, stronger titans are said to have their own wrathful personalities, so only the strongest minds can interface with and master them. Even so, some titan princeps end up fighting a losing battle to maintain their sanity before losing themselves in the god-machines they pilot.
      • The Necrons got hit by this when the C'tan convinced them to upload themselves into undying metal bodies. The millennia spent in stasis, or the damage to their psyche sustained after heavy repairs, has driven some Necrons insane, or reduced others to Empty Shells. In some cases, the "common-born" soldiers' mind transferal process was deliberately sabotaged by their Lords to make them mindlessly obedient. Though it was actually the C'tan themselves who literally ate the Necrontyr souls during the transformations.
      • Obliterators are Chaos Space Marines who have, through some dark ritual or daemonic virus, become fused to their armor. While this gives them access to Shapeshifter Weapons, the once-cackling mad Marines become eerily silent and emotionless as Warp-tainted metal continues to spread through their bodies. The quotes page features the Apocalyptic Log of someone undergoing the transformation.
      • Imperial Psykers also make use of a multitude of cybernetics just as normal humans do. There is even some specific cybernetics that only benefit psykers, such as 'Psychic Hoods' and 'Psy-Amplifiers'. In fact, one of the Gaunt's Ghosts novels features Sergeant Agun Soric, a suspected psyker being revealed to have had his one remaining eye sewn shut and his ears removed to make room for a cybernetic augmentation designed to improve his powers after being discovered by the Inquisition..
      • Ferrus Manus, Primarch of the Iron Hands, believed that reliance on cybernetics weakened one's willpower and wanted to find a way to remove the living steel from his hands that gave his legion their name. Unfortunately, his marines didn't catch that and despise their flesh as weak, replacing it with cybernetics as they advance in the ranks.
      • Averted with the Iron Warriors. While they do use a lot of cybernetics, and they are ruthless bastards, the lack of soul is more due to decades of brutal and unrelenting siege warfare; the cybernetics are just their way of pragmatically dealing with problems like "does not have legs" or "right hand has mutated into tentacle and cannot hold a boltgun".
      • Averted with Ork cybernetics. No matter how much metal you nail onto an Ork, that inner core of violent insanity remains clearly visible - it's just now directing a larger and tougher body.
      • The Butcher's Nails are a horrific and intentional example. A truly ghastly piece of archaeotech, the Butcher's Nails are cybernetic cortical implants that are drilled into a person's skull, removing parts of their brain. The Nails increase strength and aggression by manipulating their victims' brain chemistry while also having the effect of making them unable to enjoy anything except fighting and killing. Even worse, the Nails slowly degrade the person's brain, slowly killing them. And they can't be removed without killing the host either since the Nails also function as a replacement for the parts of the brain that were removed in the process of implanting them.
    • Dark Heresy:
      • A literal take on this trope are the Obliviates, who are cyborgs implanted with a device called an "Oblivion Volitor", a Heretek device that actually destroys the soul, turning the unfortunate into a zombie-like creature.
      • According to the adventure "Light of Reason", the Adeptus Mechanicus's practice of replacing parts of their brain with cybernetics erodes their immortal souls. In the case of the extremist faction called The Brotherhood of Steel this makes their members unable to feel the danger of the warp phenomena, even when these fill all others with dread, but it also give them some protection against being directly subjugated by the powers of Chaos.
    • In Necromunda, this trope is averted by the majority of Pit Slaves who have retained their humanity despite the great number of bionic replacements that have been forced upon them. Servitors, lobotomised and programmed cyborgs that have to be programmed to perform tasks, are the only members of a Pit Slave gang who have had their humanity stripped from them by the cyberization process.
  • In the mecha RPG Giant Guardian Generation, being a Cyborg means you take a penalty to Empathy rolls, as well as Awareness rolls that involve diplomacy and deceit. In other words, Cybernetics don't so much Eat Your Soul as Make You Bad at Socializing.
  • GURPS Cyberpunk doesn't explicitly penalize cyberware, though given the expense in both money and character points, characters may end up taking disadvantages to reduce the upfront costs (or just end up putting points into the cyberware cost for the forseeable future at the cost of improving skills or other aspects of their character). Disadvantages need not be mental or even physical: a character could have a Duty in the form of working for the corp that installed the equipment (or owing a street doc "favors"), or have Social Stigmas (clients are put off by blatant chrome) or even Enemies (you went AWOL with military-grade hardware, and the government is going to reclaim it without worrying overmuch if you survive the experience). Disadvantages can also come built into the cyber itself: sure, you have an implanted weapon but it's Reliably Unreliable...
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones cybernetic augmentation itself doesn't have any penalties, though there's a limit to how many implants one can get based on their Body and Mind traits. However one can exceed that limit by using Vitae, a substance that oxygenates tissue without proper circulation and speeds regeneration, but it can't completely replace blood and cerebrospinal fluid for the brain so it begins to atrophy and go nuts, turning into a "Vitae Demon". There are also a few specific implants that affect the mind, a Behavioral Adjuster changes the character's Motivation, with or against their will depending on who controls the implant; a Voice literally gives you a voice in your head, though usually it's helpful; and the Aestus Leech really lowers its host's inhibitions and has a bit of a will of its own, if a character has both a Voice and a Leech they tend to conflict.
    • Most forms of Bio-Augmentation, on the other hand, have no disadvantages or limits aside from the monetary cost, though Augmentation that adds limbs or something has a hard limit of two and Genetic Reclamation has a limit of 3 (though each species has only 4 Reclamations available).
  • Yawgmoth, The Big Bad of the entire Dominarian Saga of Magic: The Gathering, was obsessed with the mechanics of the body. He lords over the evil machine plane of Phyrexia, where he and his followers used its mechanical wonders to improve ("compleat") their bodies, at the cost of their own humanity. In older sets of the game, artifact creatures (usually machines) are generally unaffected by black spells that destroy creatures.
    • See also Esper, part of the Shards of Alara block. Every creature in Esper has some amount of aether-infused metal grafted onto their body. This is okay unless they replace their whole body, after which they become twisted fiends called aether-liches.
    • Phyrexia's worse. Much worse.
    • Ashnod's Transmogrant.
    • Averted on Kaladesh. Aetherborn, who have very short lives, often use technology to upgrade themselves in an attempt to extend their lives, but this is actually the morally superior option compared to the other main way aetherborn can extend their lives - draining life energy from other beings.
    • Also averted in the joke set of Unstable, where the Order of the Widget engage in heavy, often faintly ridiculous cyborging procedures (yes, that's a toaster), and are one of the least evil groups in-setting. (Mind you, the other groups in the setting consist of mad biologists who make themselves into bizarre multi-species aberrations, explosion-obsessed goblins, deeply inept spies and saboteurs, and a group of literal supervillains calling themselves the League of Dastardly Doom).
  • The Munchkin's Guide to Gaming encourages exploiting this mechanic as its a free power up coupled with a roleplaying justification for your normal behavior. (The third paragraph in the intro above is almost a direct quote from the book).
  • New Horizon The anti-rejection drugs are stated to have a side effect where the user can become easily both depressed and easily agitated as well as suffer from advanced aging. More likely though, the social rejection from society, the cost of medical bills, and the interactions of the anti-rejection drugs with alcohol and other drugs used by cyborgs to deal with emotional pain lead to most of the problems with useing cybernetics, not the cybernetics themselves.
  • Obsidian: The catatonia option on steroids. To be fair, you can also lose Humanity for other horrible things, like binding demons or getting hit by Brown Note powers that reduce your Humanity.

  • The Old World of Darkness mostly averts the trope. Although there are a few implants that cause humanity loss, those involve removing parts of your brain. The vast majority of cybernetics have few disadvantages, and the most overt and powerful ones simply add to one's Paradox. In WoD, cybernetics gain their balance because a skilled Mage can emulate them just as well with spells-since they're all magic in the end anyways. They also have another issue, that any skilled life mage can cause a body to reject them. Iteration X seems to be sliding into this trope, but it's their anti-humanist beliefs rather than their bodily enhancements that are doing that.
    • And Iteration X gets a big contrast in the form of the Autopolitans of Threat Null, who are what happened when factions of the Technocracy got stranded in the Deep Umbra following the Avatar Storm and came back as the worst versions of themselves. They're pretty much the Borg, and they don't care if you don't want to be linked into the emotionless hive-mind.
    • On the other hand, the Glass Walkers, a tribe of techno-shaman werewolves, had a faction known as the Cyber Dogs, dedicated to fighting the Wyrm by blending their war forms with cybernetics. Due to making the Weaver stronger, that... did not go so well.
  • In Deviant: The Renegades for the New World of Darkness, every character has some form of disassociation from baseline humanity, represented by their Stability, Loyalty, and Conviction ratings. The conceit of the game is that a character's Divergence forcibly breaks their ability to identify as a person, forcing them to rely on the perception of others to help them remain stable. (This is not a straight example, as Divergence explicitly *cracks open the soul* regardless of the source and cyborgs are merely one type of result) Numerous Scars (drawbacks) involve unpleasant mental, physical, and/or social changes to them as a result. Lose enough touchstones, and you go Feral, unable to relate to people at all and unable to keep control of their powers. Ferals have no way of healing Instability, which means that eventually they will start mutating beyond all recognition before burning out entirely. It might be possible to connect with a Touchstone, but for most, it's a one-way trip.
  • In the Genius: The Transgression fan supplement for the New World of Darkness, getting cybered is a sin against Obligation, as with all other transhumanist developments.
    • This is because Obligation represents the ability to empathize with normal humans as something other than raw material. The nature of Inspiration means a Genius always has wonderful, terrifying ideas like turning the entire human race into mechanical supermen or how cool it be to fly around as a biotech dragon; even small starts ("I'll just upgrade my arm!") can provide the necessary starting point to rationalize their way down a very slippery slope. You can have very nice, benevolent reasons for wanting to transform the human race, kiddo, but you're still an Obligation 0 madman.
      • It may be worth noting that the Obligation loss is a risk, not a guarantee. One can make it out of the process entirely unscathed.

  • Mostly averted in Pathfinder with a few exceptions: in a setting with technology, any character can get some "cybertech" implanted, and the only drawback is temporary Constitution damage every time an implantation is attempted, and in a more fantastic setting, lost limbs can be replaced by various prosthetics that range from a poor replacement to a direct upgrade, at no risk for the character. The only element that plays the trope straight is a third-party archetype of the fighter class, the warmachine : becoming a warmachine involves replacing a large portion of the character's body with machinery, making them globally stronger and tougher but also permanently reducing one mental stat. Intelligence reduction means loss of memory and learning, Wisdom reduction means loss of sanity and general awareness, and Charisma reduction means loss of social skills and self-awareness.
  • Rifts treats this as a psychosomatic matter instead of a literal truth. Any loss of humanity is due to the individual 'Borg's feelings and reactions, and how they are usually perceived by the society around them, rather than an inherent drawback to cybernetics or bionics. This varies between regions and nations around the planet, largely influenced by the prevalence of cybernetics there. In North America, cyborgs are considered normal, if uncommon in places, and only spurned by mages and psychics because they interfere with the ability to use magic/psionics (there are exceptions). In Germany and Japan, cyborgs make up a sizable chunk of the nations' armed forces and are considered selfless heroes who have made sacrifices to serve their country. Russia has a unique environment where giant, bionic soldiers make up almost the entirety of the front-line troops for each of the factions fighting to gain control of the region. To be a cyborg in Russia is a mark of prestige and each faction has a signature style of cyborg, each considered Elite soldiers and revered as heroes.
    • Though it is true that each cybernetic implant lowers the power of mages and psychics, and destroys said abilities outright if extensive enough.
    • In the technologically advanced sections of Japan, the natural abundance of manga and anime (see above, extrapolate for another hundred years) makes cyborgs even more socially acceptable and popular than just about elsewhere in the world. Some cyborgs can actually get paid as "consultants" for submitting their adventures for a popular anime series.
    • One issue of the Rifter had the least popular cybernetics/bionics, using machine parts with corpse parts, for the Necro-tech OCC (a usually evil Techno-wizard variant) to create. These, being magical, returned the use of missing body parts without affecting the patients' magic or psionics in any way; but most such characters would rather go without the missing part than accept the implant!
    • The corebook specifically notes that people who wish to undergo full cybernetic conversion (80% or more of the body replaced with metal) in above-ground North American cyber shops are given extensive psychological counseling before the procedure in order to avoid this trope; they're prepped for life as a robot and made fully aware of both the benefits and the drawbacks. As a result, most of them consider the downsides (in particular a massively reduced sense of touch) a fair price for being a literal killing machine. Unfortunately, not everyone given the full conversion treatment wanted to do it - roughly 60% of "slave borgs" will attempt suicide every chance they get until it works.
  • Shadowrun: Getting cyberware (as well as bioware) implanted drops your Essence, as your body has to readjust to parts of it no longer being 'your own'. In all editions, Essence loss stunts one's ability to do magic, and depending on editions other problems (like your ability to fit in socially or emphatise with other people, alienation issues, as well as risk of a rare mental disorder called 'cyberpsychosis') will also start plaguing a low Essence character. Hitting 0 Essence is fatal, making overuse of cybertechnology a Very Bad Thing. Fortunately, once a piece of cyberware has been installed, the Essence loss means the body has 'coped' with the original loss and thus new 'ware can be installed in its place without further loss of Essence (unless the new piece costs additional Essence on top of the original), meaning replacements and upgrades aren't a one-way street to an early grave. Unlike many other systems, cyberware also isn't the only way to lose Essence in Shadowrun — violations of one's sense of self like being drained by a vampire, becoming a severe drug addict, traumatic body dysmorphia or dysphoria (like losing parts of yourself), unwanted surgery, or other traumatic experiences can cause Essence Loss. Later editions introduced rules for reversing Essence loss, as long as whatever caused it is no longer a part of 'yourself': Someone who temporarily replaces a lost arm with cyberware but later gets a clone of their old arm, which is essentially 'themselves' (or alternatively removes the 'ware and adjusts to life with one arm) will slowly recover their Essence.
    • The setting also has what are known as "Cyberzombies", which is what happens when a cybered character hits 0 Essence but is kept alive through a combination of drugs and magic. Cyberzombies are in a permanent state of their remaining flesh rotting away as they suffer constant rejection of their implants, and what happens to their minds tends to be even worse.
    • One chapter of the 3rd Edition sourcebook Cybertechnology has a heavily-cybered mercenary named Hatchetman tell his life story. He says killing was easier once he got cybereyes because it was like watching everything he did through a TV. After going through an extremely risky medical/magical procedure called "Cybermancy" that allows him to "cross the threshold" of his human body and mind, Hatchetman has more metal in him than pretty much any other street samurai and is only held back from terminal psychosis by various quirks programmed into his cybernetic brain.
      I asked [the doctor] if I was going to stay alive.
      He said yes, as long as I remembered.
      Remembered what, I asked.
      Remembered that I was alive, he answered.
  • In Star Wars: Saga Edition, cybernetic replacements reduce your Use the Force check. Earlier Wizards of the Coast Star Wars RPGs reduced the benefit from spending Force Points. In any case, within the rules this only really applies to Force Users; it's even possible to become a full cyborg hybrid like Grievous or Durge without becoming a bad guy, though you have to nearly die in order to do so.
    • The old West End Games Star Wars d6 RPG mechanic for this was "More Machine Now Than Man", introduced in the sourcebook Galladinium's Fantastic Technology and it increased the number of Dark Side points gained substantially when you had more cybernetic replacements and upgrades. Upgrades counted double for calculating how many cybernetic parts your character had, as opposed to replacements necessitated by injuries.
  • In the Toonpunk 2020 1/2 setting for Toon, cybernetic enhancements can lead to a character "Looning Out" after being Boggled, which means the Animator takes control of him for three turns, and probably has him commit slapstick violence. Less serious than other examples, obviously, because it's Toon.
  • Transhuman Space makes the question of whether or not Cybernetics Eat Your Soul the central question of the game. Different factions debate (again and again) whether A.I.s, uplifted animals, and bioroids have souls at all. Ditto for modified humans and especially uploaded intelligences. Several factions, especially bio-chauvinists and some preservationists, believe that Cybernetics Eat Your Soul, while others like Christian Hyper-evolutionists think that enhancements are necessary to advancement.
    • There are no game mechanics to prove either side right, but depending on where you life, what you are or what enhancements you've received might limit your civil rights.

  • Wolsung Steam Pulp Fantasy has the Uhrwerk, insane dwarves who replaced their bodies with Magitek cybernetics.
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! cards "Giga Gagagigo" and "Gogiga Gagagigo" show the character Gagagigo after being cybernetically reconstructed. The flavor text on the first mentions that the cybernetics caused him to lose his heart and redemption, and the second's says that his soul has long since collapsed, and that his body continues recklessly in a quest for more power.
    • Even more Gagagigo is the evolved form of Gigobyte, a very cute mon.
    • Eventually Subverted with "Gagagigo The Risen" who's Gogiga Gagagigo after being redeemed.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: Anyone who survived the effects of the Mechanika Virus but weren't given the proper treatment slowly had their minds corrupted and consumed until nothing was left, leaving them to act extremely aggressive and attack whoever is in front of them.
  • Armored Core:
    • In the early games, cybernetic enhancements were known as "Human+", and you could get augmented yourself (or more accurately, have it forced on you) if you went too far into debt. While in-game there are no drawbacks and several benefits to Human+ (like being able to fire heavy weapons without having to crouch), the process is irreversible and most players consider it cheating. In some missions you'll also run into Human+ subjects who weren't so lucky, having been turned into murderous schizophrenic sociopaths by their implants.
    • Armored Core V revisits this trope with the Zodiacs, thirteen AC pilots and their Operator, Angie. The pilots are heavily implied to have undergone some sort of integration with their Armored Cores, while Angie seems to be based in some sort of network shared by Zodiac's support helicopters. Since the war they were created to fight is long over, their only purpose appears to be to destroy. Angie and Zodiac 1 seem to have gotten the worst of this in different ways as neither can think beyond their original orders anymore: Zodiac 1 is a mindless killing machine, while Angie seems to have lost a great deal of her humanity and original personality after her integration according to Zodiac 8. One of the aforementioned pilots sums it up thusly: "Who needs a soul, as long as you win?"
  • Played with in BioShock: ADAM is a genetic philosopher's stone which is used in a manner akin to proto-cybernetics, and since they rewrite the user's DNA by turning it cancerous while poisoning them with deep sea coral hallucinogens, the dehumanizing power of the stuff is justified. Overuse of Plasmids, Gene Tonics and other ADAM-based products causes addiction, gross deformity, and insanity; as such, the first people in Rapture to succumb and transform into splicers were people who'd overused its cosmetic variants, and the rest did so in an attempt to defend themselves against the Splicers - to quote one of the recordings: "There's an arms race on here in Rapture. It's about who can become less of a man and more of a monster." That said, there are people who can maintain their humanity in spite of their modifications: the protagonists of both games, and any Little Sisters who were given restorative anti-ADAM therapy as children. The Big Daddies had their humanity completely stripped away specifically to replace it with a streamlined version of Papa Bear humanity, making them better protectors than typical humans, both physically and emotionally.
  • In BloodNet, the main character and street gangs frequently argue about whether cybernetic implants destroy or enhance the user's humanity. A number of characters have had their brains fried by a combination of designer drugs and cybernetic implants - it is set in the futuristic New York ghettos and the modifications are typically illegal and unmoderated - but a cybernetic implant is helping to prevent the main character from becoming a vampire and others are being used to cure a variety of mental illnesses. So, it's a combination of this trope and A.I. Is a Crapshoot.
  • In Borderlands 2, Handsome Jack's enforcer Wilhelm Was Once a Man before being turned to a hulking cybernetic brute. In Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, Wilhelm started off as a mere mercenary with only a prosthetic eye. As the player gives him more cybernetic upgrades, though, his voice becomes increasingly deep and menacing, foreshadowing his eventual evolution into the half-man half-machine monster that would lay the original Vault Hunters out. According to Angel, he was born with a deficiency that required him to get cybernetic implants at an early age which led to a full-on addiction to augmentation and that Jack would risk turning him more machine than man by hiring him (something that he considers completely awesome). Wilhelm for his part is completely unconcerned.
    "Call me an addict all you want, I'll be the one shooting lasers out of my eyes while the rest of you are dying of turbo-cancer."
  • Ishi Sato of Bulletstorm becomes violent and aggressive (and red) when his cybernetic side takes over. However, in his case it was due to the emergency rush job required to save his life by fusing him with a bunch of parts from a nearby combat robot. Not to mention that the doctor died before the operation was even finished. He is in constant pain and the AI from the robot is still functional and is trying to take over, which isn't too difficult for it to do when your cybernetic replacements include half your brain.
  • A theme in Call of Duty: Black Ops III is the concern that as the need for faster, stronger, and more agile foot soldiers rises (due to ranged warfare's decline as a result of autonomous defense systems simply becoming too advanced to penetrate), the envelope for cybernetic augmentation continues to be pushed. The public begins fearing that the armies of 2065 are losing their humanity and subjecting themselves to pure weaponization through cybernetic enhancement.
  • City of Heroes seems to deconstruct this. Heavily cybernetic villains do seem to be monstrous and/or soulless and/or crazy, especially the Clockwork King, Freakshow, and Nemesis. It's not because of the cybernetics, though; Nemesis was an evil racist powermonger back during the Civil War, the Freakshow are on drugs that allow them to use the cybernetics, and the Clockwork King was crazy before he stuck his brain in a jar.
    • And of course, PCs can be as cybered up as they like.
    • And there's Malta's Titans, cyborgs with systems specifically designed to "condition" the brain controlling them.
  • Deliberately left without a clear answer in Civilization: Beyond Earth. Supremacy affinity, which specializes in cybernetics and gradually improves it, receives exactly this perception from the adherents of Harmony and, especially, Purity. And, although they may fully correspond to such an assessment, Supremacy's final interpretation may vary greatly. However, they are not unique in this respect. Any of the affinities can be located absolutely anywhere on the Shades of Conflict scale, despite the fact that all of them, regardless of their ideals, tend to end their ideological path on the positions of inveterate Fundamentalists and Knights Templar. Therefore, in one game, Supremacy will symbolize a beacon of progress, enlightenment and independence of mankind, and in another - an artificial Hive Mind that is not interested in anything other than forcibly absorbing everyone else into its network. Of cource, these are not all possible variations.
  • Copy Kitty and its lore has the Cybers. As their name implies, they were all once entanma who were once normal people forcibly turned into cyborgs. While they retain their intelligence and memories of their former lives, they are also thoroughly brainwashed into serving the Cybers' cause (whatever that is) and all seem to lack empathy, compassion, or any emotion that isn't related to annihilating their enemies. Isotope's database, for instance notes that before she'd been converted, she tried to restrain her atomic powers and didn't want to hurt anyone. As a Cyber, she's become a psychotic Blood Knight who can't sit still for more than 5 seconds and immediately blows her cover to fight the protagonist. Interestingly, supplemental material mentions Mina, an entanma who completely resisted the brainwashing process for unknown reasons. She has the immortal body and mechanical parts of a Cyber, but now uses it to pursue vigilante justice.
  • The cybernetic Agents of Crackdown aren't directly dehumanized by their augmentations, though the world in which they live is pretty dehumanized itself.
  • Cyberpunk 2077: As this game is based on the original "Cyberpunk" TTRPG, the deleterious effects of over-chroming are on display everywhere, including feelings of alienation, body dysmorphia and eventual complete and violent detachment from humanity.
    • Or are they? During the "Psycho Killer" questline you are tasked with bringing down a number of cyberpsychos, all of whom turn out to have other explanations for their rampages beyond chroming, such as drug abuse, untreated PTSD, job loss, deaths of loved ones, religious mania.... It is generally implied that while chroming was definitely not good for any of these peoples' mental health, "cyberpsychosis" is a blanket term for a wide range of social and mental health issues, most of which are at most tangentially related to cybernetics. The term has then been horrendously over-applied by lazy corp-owned media outlets, and the only reason these cases get the amount of attention they do is how destructive these heavily chromed individuals can be compared to your common-or-garden school shooter.
    • Edgerunners would affirm that excessive chroming, especially powerful combat implants that are taxing on the body, does indeed create a very real increased risk of mental instability, simply due to the sheer stress of maintaining more foreign objects (with potentially elliptic glitches) than the human nervous system was evolved to handle, and the trauma that drives implants to begin with. V just happens to be an exception due to their unique circumstances (the fact they have a shortened lifespan and a second personality inside their head to absorb much of the strain, plus Realskinn coverings to make their augmented limbs seem more lifelike).
    • Zig-Zagged once more as it's implied that the various characters in Edgerunners are driven to cyberpsychosis mainly due to life events and associated trauma. Maine is implied to be motivated by the death of Sasha, while it has been explained by the series creator that David's cyberpsychosis was a result of losing all of his support pillars throughout the course of the series (in addition to the PTSD of killing an innocent womannote ). His high tolerance for cybernetics itself was rooted in the fact that he had a particularly caring upbringing in the hellscape that is Night City, with a caring mother who only wanted the best for him.
    • Then there's Adam Smasher, who is 96% metal and a soulless, misogynistic, sadistic psychopath, but he was that way long before he started chroming.
    • There's also Lizzy Wizzy, a pop star (voiced by Grimes) who after having a full-body conversion becomes erratic, unstable and unable to make music anymore. She later accidentally murders her boyfriend/manager in a fit of rage, which somehow inspires her creative instincts again.
    • IP Creator Mike Pondsmith, in a comment on Reddit once explained that he partially based cyberpsychosis off anabolic steroid addiction - with the psychosis episodes being comparable to roid rage - with a psychologcal element based on how able an individual is to shrug off stress and mental hardship.
  • Dead or Alive 5: Last Round: It's noted that upon his resurrection as a cyborg, Raidou lost his memories, leaving only his lust for power and destruction intact. Of course, he was a sadistic, Ax-Crazy Jerkass before then anyway.
  • Deus Ex Universe:
    • Deus Ex: Paul and, to a point, JC Denton are the only "normal" augmented people. The P-series augments have as much emotional depth as a doorknob, Walton Simons is a ruthless member of the Ancient Conspiracy, and Anna Navarre and Gunther Hermann are both deranged psychopaths.
    • In Deus Ex: Invisible War, this trope is what the Templar believe, but it isn't true, as the augmented main character can have just as much sanity as anyone else. The Omar, a sect who have given themselves over entirely to nano-augmentation, are a bit weird, but not evil.
    • Deus Ex: Human Revolution:
      • This is inverted in that mechanically augmented people tend to become mentally unstable yes, but this isn't due to the augmentations themselves but due to side effects of the anti-rejection drugs they must take. The tie-in novel Deus Ex: Icarus Effect also reveals that Gunther was a psycho even before he got augmented.
      • Adam himself muses on this in the ending. If you chose to murder your way through the game, he generally agrees that, yes, cybernetics do eat your soul. If you were mostly pacifist, he states that cybernetics offer many new options, but also comes with a severe side of temptation to use those cybernetics as shortcuts. Whether or not those shortcuts are justified depends on the ending you choose.
      • Military Mech Augs simply can't enjoy the thrills of self-destructive hobbies anymore like smoking and getting completely hosed.
        "I want the burn of smoke and nicotine in my lungs. But all I feel is the Sentinel Health System automatically counteracting the damage. Even self-destruction's no fun anymore."
      • The "Cybernetic Discognition Disorder" found in one of the ebooks trough the game.
  • Averted in Dex, and the idea is scoffed at by Dr. Niles, who does most of the augmentations for Dex and has a bionic eye himself:
    Dr. Niles: Or are you worried about being less you? You don't need a philosopher to tell you that you're more than a physical body. Soul, consciousness, destiny, call it whatever you will. But why would that "essence" be any worse off if you made your body better? You give it power! Jump higher, run faster, deduce quicker and kick ass harder...
  • The original Digimon V-Pet incarnation of Metalgreymon was a Greymon that was corrupted by the mechanization process, indicated by its sickly blue coloration.note  This is taken even further with Mugendramon/Machinedramon, which is a wholly mechanical chimera made up of the robot parts of other cyborg Digimon, including Metalgreymon. Although it was the strongest Digimon at the time of its debut, it lacks any soul and is programmed with pure malice.
  • Literally, in The Dishwasher series. The engineer of the dystopian setting's transhumanist movement engineered the cybernetics this way. Cyborg bodies even poison the soil, somehow, causing the dead to stir.
  • Some of the Beetleworx in Epic Mickey were made by converting pirate toons into robotic slaves, though the process is reversible by filling the four conversion machines with paint. Or irreversible by filling the machines with thinner. Or just ignore them to begin with.
  • Played with but ultimately subverted in EVE Online, where cybernetics by itself won't eat one's soul, but misuse of brain interfacing technology can have various unsightly consequences, to wit:
  • Inverted in E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy. Several cybernetic implants are actively useful - indeed, practically required - for psychic characters. However, in the backstory, being enhanced as much as EYE agents are is incredibly risky for their souls - one method used, Necrocybermancy, involves the subject being killed and their soul held in stasis while the upgrades are being made, then returned to their newly-cybernetic body.
  • Averted in Fallout: New Vegas. The various implants you get have no effect on your personality-unless you get a Charisma implant, in which case, you become nicer. Even having your entire central nervous system removed and replaced with a Tesla coil has no effect on you, and having it put back in is optional.
  • In Granblue Fantasy, being turned into a robot blocked off what emotion Megumi could once feel.
  • Downplayed in Daemon X Machina: the player character can receive a variety of cybernetic augmentations, from Artificial Limbs to Electronic Eyes, with higher-tier augmentations making them appear more machine than human. These upgrades, however, have no bearing on the story.
  • Combine Advisors from Half-Life 2. Thanks to their dependence on technology, they've evolved into large slug/larva like creatures, their only remaining appendage being a long snaking tongue which they use to feed. Though it is impossible to know what they were beforehand, given that they were aliens.
    • Likewise The Consul, who was a predecessor to Wallace Breen before getting cut. Over the course of the game, the Consul was going to slowly implant himself with more and more Combine life-support technology, eventually becoming immortal. All this would be unbeknownst to player until the end of the game, only seeing his unaltered face in the meantime.
    • Normal Combine soldiers have been gutted and have most of their jaw removed. They can't even eat, they probably just get fed intravenously. All of them volunteered for this, which makes their dependence on the Combine and loss of humanity particularly symbolic. All the "vehicles" the Combine soldiers use are modified and enslaved alien races, that presumably went through the exact same thing humanity is going through, but lost horribly.
  • Headlander: Methuselah believes that "something" is missing from him. He is unable to get it from his experiments on the brain uploaded citizens and believes that the only way to become whole is to merge with the player character.
  • Heavy Rain has By-the-Book Cop Norman Jayden using ARI sunglasses, a high-tech Augmented Reality tool for crime forensics. However, his severe overindulgence in it (and a design shortcoming in the first-generation units) has left him suffering from extreme side-effects. He uses a drug called Triptocaine to relieve the symptoms, but Triptocaine itself is highly addictive. He suffers brain death if he overuses the ARI in the final "crime solving" sequence. And even during his "best" ending (where he solves the case and is hailed as a hero) he ends up suffering permanent damage to his mind.
    • The "Uploaded" ending has Rabid Cop Carter Blake putting the ARI on. He first enjoys the virtual reality; that is, until an illusion of Norman shows up, scaring him and implying that he will be haunted by him even without the ARI.
  • Iron Man 3: The Official Game: With the exception of the Crimson Dynamo, all the villains in the game upgraded themselves to become cybernetic beings and "evolve" beyond their peers. The Living Laser realized how much of a mistake this was when Tony pointed out how much he had lost by giving up his humanity, and only wished to be given a regular human body again. On the other hand, both Ezekiel and M.O.D.O.K. view themselves as superior to humanity thanks to their upgrades and gladly use their powers to terrorize Tony.
  • In Kirby: Planet Robobot, this is the ultimate fate of President Haltmann. He attempts to take out Kirby and the rest of Dream Land by using the company's supercomputer, Star Dream, only for Susie to swoop in and steal the helmet needed to control it. Then Star Dream gains sentience and takes control of Haltmann's now unconscious body, stating that it wants to fulfill his wish of prosperity for the company by exterminating all life in the universe. It's only in the (non-canon) True Arena that we get to see this taken to its logical conclusion: Star Dream Soul OS deems Haltmann's soul unnecessary and begins erasing it during the final boss battle. During the second, third, and fourth phases of the fight, the pause screen shows Haltmann's final thoughts: he remembers that his one wish was to see his daughter again, and he realizes how foolish it was to think a machine could grant that request. During the very last portion of the fight, the pause screen instead informs us that all traces of Haltmann, down to his soul, have been deleted.
  • League of Legends:
    • As much as Viktor uses Hextech rather than cybernetics, he invoked the trope - intentionally locking himself away and replacing most of his flesh with machine parts to create something no one could steal from him, but also precisely to get rid of his emotions, which were bugging him since a fellow scientist claimed the glory for his achievements. It didn't exactly work, as he still hates his 'rival' a bit. He's also obsessed with making everyone be like himself, and speaks in an emotionless manner.
    • Project Skins defies the trope. Most of those converted by the Project retain their original personalities and opinions and morality. In fact, Ashe is an extremely vocal believer that Cybernetics DON'T eat the soul.
  • As mentioned in the page quote, Mordin Solus has this view of the Collectors in Mass Effect 2. Even though he is something of a Mad Scientist, Mordin believes that culture is important to civilization, which is why the Collectors leave him feeling uneasy: the Collectors were turned into mindless cybernetic slaves by the Reapers, much of their physiology being replaced with Reaper technology that, as far as Mordin is concerned, makes it hard to even consider them to be alive at all, to say nothing of the fact that, as slaves of the Reapers, they have no music, no art, no culture.
  • Mentioned in Mass Effect 3. While discussing with Javik his distrust of synthetic races like the geth, the Prothean relates the story of the zha'til: created when a race known as the zha implanted themselves with symbiotic AI technology to enhance their intelligence in order to survive as conditions on their homeworld became increasingly inhospitable. When the Reapers arrived, they subjugated the A.I.s, known as zha'til, who then seized control of the bodies of their masters and altered their genetic material at the deepest level, transforming the zha into synthetic monsters and their offspring into slaves. With no other recourse, the Protheans sent the star of the zha's home system into supernova, destroying the zha'til entirely.
    • Defied in Mass Effect: Andromeda, where Ryder's SAM connection becomes the core of the Andromeda Initiative, as SAM's AI capabilities give Ryder the ability to hack terminals made by precursors with technology bordering on the supernatural. Over the course of the game, Ryder develops the nascent ability needed to hack the terminals themselves (though at the cost of brain damage), proving that the relationship isn't just a technological crutch but a symbiotic co-development.
  • Averted overall in the Mega Man series. Dr. Weil was a crazy evil bastard even before he was forcibly turned into a Cyborg as The Punishment for nearly destroying the world and wiping out all life, and only got worse as a result due to wandering the dead wasteland he created for over a century. By the time of Mega Man ZX, cybernetics are the norm for humans and they're treated as no more in danger of losing their humanity as the Reploids because of it.
  • The SOP nanomachines of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots are an intentional version. They suppress emotional responses in their users, turning them into soldiers who feel no pain, anger, fear, or guilt in the name of increased battlefield efficiency. As you might guess, the sudden removal of this system from soldiers is incapacitating, and in some cases lethal. Plus, insta-PTSD!
    • The SOP nanomachines form part of the system of total control — they can both calm soldiers (lessening the usual atrocities of war) or do the opposite and turn the soldiers into merciless monsters depending on what is most fitting at any particular time.
    • Naomi plunges the world into a relative "dark age of nanomachines" because the alternative was letting the A.I.-rulers reach the logical conclusion of this trope: apply the SOP nanomachines to every human on the planet. No hatred, no selfishness... and nobody to oppose their pointless Forever War. Big Boss sums it up best:
      Big Boss: They did it again. In the end, they're nothing more than a program, designed to do the same thing over and over...
    • Raiden is actually shown to be far more violent after being turned into a cyborg, though this is attributed more to memories of his Dark and Troubled Past and PTSD than this trope. He's at his most violent when he reverts to his "Ripper" persona: the savage Child Soldier he used to be long before he was ever turned into a cyborg.
  • Variation in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: Ghor is already a cyborg (having only 6% of his original body left, in fact), but while he's usually a nice guy, his personality changes when fusing with any larger machine, becoming slightly more ruthless and aggressive, but still on your side. Until he gets corrupted by Phazon, at least.
  • In the Mortal Kombat series, the cybernetic conversions that the Lin Kuei perform on their ninjas in the third installment has the effect of robbing them of their souls. Only Smoke was strong enough to retain his soul after being converted. Cyrax regains his a couple of games later and Sektor, while not the sanest guy in the world, is able to return enough to try to Take Over the World. Meanwhile Smoke is now nothing but an uncontrollable slave to Noob Saibot. Mortal Kombat 9 shows Sub-Zero getting the Cyberninja treatment. It's only through the intervention of Raiden that he regains his soul. Mortal Kombat 11 also has this happen to Frost, Sub-Zero's protege-turned-nemesis, with the help of Kronika: although in her case, this trope is subverted, since she was already a rotten bitch to start with.
  • Mother:
    • Averted in MOTHER: Cognitive Dissonance with Alinivar, who has the option to become a Chimera Mook to increase the power of his skills, which injures him greatly, but has no other known drawbacks (and luckily there is a revitilization pod nearby, so even the HP damage can be fixed). Unfortunately played straight with a huge Mecha-Saturn, who are usually peace loving little guys.
    • Cybernetic chimeras make up the majority of random battles in Mother 3, originally being content, happy animals that were "reconstructed" by the Pig Mask Army. However, the biggest example has to be the Masked Man, who was originally Claus, Lucas' brother and a happy, energetic, outgoing child. He was mortally wounded by a "reconstructed" Drago, and was himself reconstructed; into a cold, silent, obedient general in "King P"'s army. The process almost completely destroyed his humanity, to the point where he is described as having "no heart", as opposed to good or evil. Though this is intentional, as the cyborgs and chimeras are intended to be ravenous destructive monsters and the Masked Man was intended to be just what he is; even the Ultimate Chimera is more a case of Gone Horribly Right.
  • Pikmin 2: The Man-at-Legs is described as being born fully organic, but at some point down the road it is forcibly fused to (possibly sentient) machinery, causing the normally peaceful creature to become a literal killing machine. Anything that disturbs it better take cover or be faced with the business end of an autocannon.
  • Planetside: The Vanu Sovereignty actually worship Vanu technology, and speak of "enlightening" humanity just like they believed happened to the Vanu themselves. It's implied that the Vanu artifacts might be brainwashing them and driving them to spread their creed across Auraxis.
  • Amber of Project Eden is said to have become increasingly withdrawn and machine like as the years go by.
  • Punishing: Gray Raven has cybernetics experts actively acknowledge and try to avert this trope when creating Reconstructed Soldiers. Much attention is brought to the fact Constructs resemble humans as closely as possible; they even use advanced materials to ensure they even weigh the same as an average human to maintain their psychological stability, which is further aided by Commandants providing long distance support. On the other hand, the Arctic Route Union shows what happens when you go in the opposite direction, when they essentialy built a walking tank with a robotic upper torso on top to act as a pilot: it promptly went berserk and nearly destroyed the Union. Even then, they still punish criminals by forcing them to don completely metal centaur bodies and then exile them into the Siberian wilderness to fight rampaging robots.
  • In Quake IV cybernetics on their own don't eat your soul, but activation of the Neurocyte takes control of the former human body and the person inside degrades into nothing. If the victim is rescued before that can take place, they retain their full humanity.
  • In Remember Me, practically everyone has Memorise implants installed that allow them to control their memories (but also let others, like the protagonist Nilin, edit them). The people whose memory implants malfunction completely not only lose their minds and go insane, but outright turn into Leapers, (probably a result of the implant-addled brain sending new and unneeded growth signals). Whatever the cause, even the basic Prowler Leapers gain superhuman speed, strength and agility, easily running on walls. Tougher Skinner Leapers are Giant Mooks buffed by the presence of other Leapers, while Strangler Leapers are somewhat weaker, but can turn invisible unless the lightning is too bright. Lastly, the Mourner Leapers are not only extremely tough, but can teleport.
  • In Rimworld, characters with the Prostophobe/Body Purist trait seem to believe this. They won't mind simple prosthetics and hook hands and seadog peg legs, but exchanging their body parts for bionic replacements will give them a substantial mood penalty. Inverted in turn by Transhumanist characters, who feel more and more alive with each piece of their bodies replaced with superior technology, boosting their moods for each bit. Played straight with Luciferium, a drug which turns a colonist into a host for highly advanced glitterworld mechanites which give them a ridiculous number of health benefits - immunity to disease, enhanced bodily functions across the board, regeneration of any injury including brain damage... at the cost of them being forever dependent on weekly Luciferium doses, and if they can't get their fix they go Ax-Crazy and then die.
  • Shadowrun video games:
    • Averted in the SNES game, where installing cyberware has no cost to the soul. The main character Jake eventually becomes a Dog Shaman every bit as powerful as Fujiko Kano, one of the premier spellcasters in the Shadowrun universe, despite being loaded down with dermal armor, wired reflexes, and other invasive pieces of cyberware. It's possibly justified, depending on the edition rules you're going by, as the Dog Spirit takes it upon himself to impose a few hefty Geasa on Jake to make up for his disconnect from the spiritual world, which could potentially send his Essence up to levels where the Cyberware isn't an issue.
    • The Genesis version follows a simplified version of the table-top source material. Less Essence means less magic, but the game won't let you kill yourself by installing too much. You need to have the Essence to pay for it.
    • Shadowrun Returns also uses a simpler version of the original, where you can't install more cyberware than you can afford in Essence. NPCs in a campaign might react to you having implants, but the player is never forced to act in a particular way.
      • The Dragonfall DLC has a character actually use this intentionally: Glory had tied her soul to The Horned God and used extensive and, from an Essence point of view, deliberately old and inefficient cybernetic implants to shred her Essence for the purpose of severing the connection when she turned from him, which makes it in some sense, an inversion - by severing her connection with the toxic spirit, which was doing far more to "eat her soul" in the sense of this trope than any amount of cyberware, she was reclaiming her humanity, rather than destroying it.
      • In her personal quest, Glory can potentially reference this trope in dialog, commenting that she rarely feels emotions anymore - most of the time, she's just numb.
      • Dragonfall also features The MKVI, a cyberzombie with -2 Essence. After repeated rounds of cyberization, compounded by a experimental drug allowing it to have more implants than normally possible, it is essentially a mindless killing machine devoid of humanity and its soul is trapped inside its body in an And I Must Scream scenario. If you disable its control overrides and restore its mind it immediately kills itself, pausing only just long enough to thank you.
      • The Hong Kong campaign discusses this trope with two characters: Ten-Armed Ambrose had most of his body replaced by cybernetics to save his life and now runs a Street Doc clinic using machinery he's more or less permanently rigged into. He's on the verge of crossing the threshold and engages in a lot of social activity to keep his humanity in check. Meanwhile, Racter is a Transhumanist who has made it his life's mission to study the Essence Limit and is of the firm belief that it can be overcome, a belief anchored in his own body being cybernetic from the waist down and having been implanted with some extremely experimental and volatile mind-affecting implants without them affecting him mentally. Racter attributes his mental stability to the fact that he's a clinical sociopath, and thus also believes that people like him are the key to transhumanism.
  • In the Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri Expansion Pack, Alien Crossfire, the Cybernetic Consciousness faction suffers from slower reproductive rates, since its followers no longer "get" the ideas of love or sex. In addition, the "Cybernetic" future plans cause your workers to be replaced by machines, which in turn leads to higher social unrest. (This can apparently be averted if you occupy said workers with managing the Planet's Internet—provided your faction was the one that built the network backbone.) Among the faction leaders, Pravin Lal seems to believe this, going by some of his quotes. While one merely concerns unscrupulous use of (forcibly) cybered Super Soldiers (almost certainly referring to the Human Hive), the other relates how, during his usual interfacing with life support machinery, he found his thoughts, which crossed over into it as usual, being answered by the machine itself with cold and rigid thoughts of its own.
  • Space Siege: The only storyline effect that augmenting yourself with cybernetics has is the end scene (assuming you declined an offer that appears late game; if you took that offer, you'd get a third ending even if you're fully human). It also features an encounter with a man who's been looking for his lost daughter over the course of the game. The lower your humanity score, the more hideous his augmentations. The enemy "Cybers" are just mind-controlled. However, augmentations will reduce your "humanity" score, which can be used to unlock some powerful skills later on in the game. The game also makes distinctions on what affects your humanity - getting a cybernetic eye won't reduce it much, but getting a cybernetic brain sure as hell will.
  • Deconstructed in Spider-Man (PS4): For most of the game, Peter desperately clings to the idea that Otto Octavius' breakdown and transformation into a villain is merely the result of the faulty neural interface on his tentacles messing with his head. By the end of the game however, it's made quite clear that while interfacing with the tentacles certainly didn't help his mental state, Otto was losing his sanity even before he created them. Otto's arrogance, resentment of others, and obsession with vengeance were all there from the start; the faulty neural interface merely chipped away his inhibitions and exacerbated his long supressed rage, basically just giving Otto the final push he needed to fully embrace his darker side.
  • Spore has the Grox, a race of Absolute Xenophobes and Enemies to All Living Things who are (who could have guessed) cyborgs. Downplayed as whether they were like this before cybernetics or not is unknown.
  • The Star Fox series has the Aparoids, who are an Expy of Star Trek's Borg, as the main villains of Star Fox: Assault.
  • Double Subverted in Star Trek: Away Team: The cybernetics the villains are using were originally created to cure Vulcans with a disease that made them unable to control their emotions, unfortunately they can be waponized to make those equipped with the implants into a Hive Mind with massive Mind Control powers, as in they hijack a small part of the Borg Collective.
  • Although it's kinda dubious if he even had a soul to begin with, Hakeev of Star Trek Online gets a cybernetic Borg eye after the Romulan Player Character gets in a good shot and gets his eye taken out. When you meet up with him again, not only is he sporting that new eye, he's starting to deck out his ship in Borg gear. It doesn't help that the rest of the Tal Shiar is messing around with Borg tech and, in one possible timeline, when Romulus is assimilated, Hakeev willingly becomes Secundus of Borg!
  • In Star Sweep, this is implied with Dr. J, who has a cybernetic arm and is causing trouble around the world by destroying stars.
  • Played with in Star Wars: The Old Republic.
    • Both Republic and Imperial players can select cyborgs as their race. However, on the Republic side, initially only "pretty" kinds of modifications are available, which is at most a cybernetic eyepatch and a metal bit attached to their temples. Same with the Imperials, except they only get the "evil" kind, ones that include metallic jaws, Electronic Eyes that glow red, metal ridges that line the player's side, and worse.
    • The character's moral alignment is based on the player's actions. Republic players can Kick the Dog plenty of times, though the best Imperial players can shoot for are Noble Demons.
    • Once you unlock the cyborg legacy perk, you can choose any cybernetic permutation, regardless of what faction you pick.
  • Spiritualist empires in Stellaris believe cybernetics are unholy and Spiritualist factions are unhappy if cyborgs exist in your empire.
  • Played with in Stray: On the one hand, Robot Buddy B-12 has lost their memories and sense of self due to uploading their brain into the robots' virtual network to save themselves from an apocalyptic plague, such that they had completely forgotten that they used to be human. On the other, they still retain their emotions and capacity for empathy, more so as their companion the Cat leads them toward regaining those same memories.
  • Although not focused at all in its story, Supreme Commander makes a fair job depicting cyborgs. The Cybran nation is implied to be formed of normal people like anyone else, only much smarter to have their brain completely interfaced with a computer. The ones who actually lose their humanity are the ones enslaved by a program by the UEF, and are enslaved precisely because the UEF philosophy is that they lost their humanity. That means they only become less human because the ones who consider them less than human make them less than human. Dr. Brackman, the oldest character in the SupCom universe, is a Cyborg more than a thousand years old, but his personality seems to be still very human, for a scientist, even after being reduced to pretty much a brain in a jar by the time.
    • Still, the UEF at least believe the Cybran deserve to be live, as long as they live like machines. The Aeon, an entire faction of Knight Templar, consider the Cybran an atrocity and are more than happy to commit genocide against them at every chance instead of converting. Of course, this depends on the player considering the enslavement as being or not a Fate Worse than Death.
      • Funny that, considering that the very Commanders of the Aeon (as well of the other factions) are completely interfaced neurally with their Armored Command Unit (pretty much a giant mecha that can make more giant mechas).
      • Aeon Commanders are not neurally interfaced, specifically because of religious reasons. Instead, Aeon commanders wear distinctive facial makeup to make it easier for their helmets to analyze the commander's facial movements and interpret commands-The Way lends them strong enough self-control that they can literally use facial expressions to command their forces, in addition to hand-input commands.
    • With the UEF treating the Cybrans like slaves and the Aeon and Seraphim trying to purge the galaxy of unbelievers, the Cybran nation easily comes off as the nicest faction in the setting. They just want to be left alone and only fight to defend against Aeon genocide or to rescue the Symbionts who are still controlled by the UEF. In fact their main problem is their relative lack of unity; Brackman had to clone himself to get a neutral Commander the clans would rally around.
  • The Talos Principle: Can be discussed with Milton, who may ask you if having your brain cells slowly replaced with microchips that perform the exact same functions as the cells they're replacing would, at some point, cause you to stop being human. It's left up to the player how they respond to this question.
  • Traffic Department 2192 justifies this—cybernetic technology is new, and it hasn't been perfected yet. In particular, replacing damaged sections of the brain, as is done to the main character, causes migraines, hallucinations, delusions of grandeur, and eventually lethal deterioration of the brain's organic parts.
  • MEC Troopers in XCOM: Enemy Within have at least their limbs removed to interface with a Mechanized Exoskeletal Cybersuit. After the procedure, the new MEC Trooper's voice lines are flat, flanged, and robotic. Whether it has any other effect on their personalities is hard to really determine, however, since most of their actual lines are pretty similar to their pre-augmentation selves. Definitely played straight by the "Floater" enemy types, and the "Archon" variants seen in XCOM 2; whatever personalities they had before having half their limbs and organs replaced by crude cybernetics have been heavily suppressed with drugs and conditioning. Not that the villains treat their fully-organic Slave Mooks any better.

    Web Comics 
  • Averted in 21st Century Fox with Tora Scobee, sure he became more of a Jerkass after the accident that cost him most of his body but it's believed to be PTSD rather than "Borg rage".
  • In Darths & Droids this is General Grievous' rational for retaining some of his original organs despite his near total cyborg conversion...sort of.
    Without a heart, how am I to feel love?
    Without love, how am I to feel hate?
    And without hate, how am I to feel the exquisite sensation of mild annoyance?
  • Inverted Trope in Dresden Codak. If anything, Kim seems to have been humanised by the mishap that necessitated her robotic arm, leg and eye. Not surprising, given that the writer is an avowed transhumanist.
    • She upgrades to full-body prosthetic and manages to be even more human. Helping matters is that this option was only possible because she applied cybernetics to human empathy, by helping a broken robot as if it were an injured person, and the robot's family tried to build her new body based on that empathic blueprint.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: Yamcha implies this is happening to #18. He also implied that it happened to himself at one point in time, but that he recovered.
  • The "Pocket President" chips in A Girl and Her Fed. Originally designed to give federal agents unblockable, untraceable instant communication ability, they instead turned nearly all of them into shells of their former selves (just going through the motions of life) or permanently depressed lumps who tended towards suicide. The exceptions being those agents who already had pronounced Psycho for Hire tendencies. And then we find out, the chips could do much much more... and the folks that made them knew it. The psychological issues were intentionally induced as a Restraining Bolt.
  • Averted in The Intrepid Girlbot, where its transformation into a cyborg made no change to the raccoon apart from having to deal with its newfound destructive capabilities.
  • Last Res0rt avoids this trope pretty handily for a Cyberpunk work— yes, the emotionally sensitive Daisy Archanis has a robotic leg, but there's also a robot murderess who claims she's really a glorified Brain in a Jar...
    • Then again, nobody cares whether or not Cybernetics Eat Your Soul when there's plenty of other creatures willing to eat it for you.
  • Parodied briefly in Sam & Fuzzy, when Jackson, a member of the Ninja Mafia, loses his hand and has it replaced with a cybernetic prosthetic. He spends one strip asking the standard array of "how much can be replaced and still be human?" questions... and then goes straight to using the hand to crack walnuts, completely indifferent from then on.
  • Yuri of Space Trawler was always a little weird, but she seems to be getting more and more bloodthirsty as she gets upgraded. Though many in comic believe she developed an "organic inferiority" complex as part of the Post-traumatic stress disorder from the torture session that cost her her limbs (the Eeb brain tissue she also had implanted probably doesn't help considering that Eebs turned out to be natural psychopaths).

    Web Original 
  • Played straight with the Dragonstorm experiments in Darwin's Soldiers.
  • Played With in Pretending to Be People. While it's not explicitly mentioned that the cyborgs in the series are less human than their fully-organic counterparts, the cyborgs we do see are all quite messed-up people. Upon gaining cybernetic implants, Keith Vigna somehow becomes even less empathetic than he already was.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • 217 melds this with The Virus.
    • SCP-191, a little Cyborg girl who sees herself more as a machine than a person. Justified given she was an involuntary guinea pig for a Mad Scientist.
    • Inverted by the Church of the Broken God, who believe that making your body more mechanical makes you closer to their god.
    • Averted by the prosthetic limbs made by Anderson Robotics, even if the owner is a Corrupt Corporate Executive.
      • Their Buteo suits in the End of Death canon however, have this as a consequence of shorting out when too much dopamine is in the brain. Turns out the dopamine limiters were put in by a researcher disgusted with the Immortality Immorality she has seen to prevent users from becoming too hedonistic.
  • Downplayed in Within the Wires in "Cassette #4: Sadness, Lungs," when its revealed that people are possessed of a standard implant between ribs and hip that removes and stores memories, and is implied to manage instincts that include the impulse to violence. The Narrator of the cassettes attempts to use autogenic exercises to let a patient control their implant enough to restore some memories.

    Western Animation 
  • Completely averted and defied in Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. Niko's Series 5 implant enhances her Psychic Powers, to the point where the Rangers, as True Companions, can channel their implants' power through her for impressive effects. Zachary Foxx has had more than half his body replaced by cyberware, but it hasn't stopped several magic-based enemies from finding him Supernaturally Delicious and Nutritious.
    • It should be noted, however, that this trope is partly the reason why Zach is not all that comfortable with his bionics. ("Rogue Arm")
  • Finn on Adventure Time completely averts this. He currently has a bionic arm and had his singing voice mechanically enhanced circa the beginning of the series by "swallowing a tiny computer," but his intermittent psychological troubles are handled very realistically, and none of them have all that much to do with cybernetics.
    • Walking spoiler Doctor Gross plays this completely straight, however. Zig-zagged with Susan Strong, who does act really creepy when under the control of an old brain implant. She gets better whenever it's inactive and when it's finally destroyed.
  • Archer:
    • Barry Dylan's reconstruction by the KGB was accompanied by an increase in the frequency of his conversations with "Other Barry", and with each appearance he becomes more Ax-Crazy and obsessed with hurting Sterling in every way he can.
    • Ray Gillette fears this trope, as he has had his legs and one lower arm replaced with bionics after several escapades. He doesn't show any actual signs of it, but his religious beliefs means he thinks it might be happening.
  • Batman Beyond had the episode "Lost Soul", in which Robert Vance uploaded himself into the company computer. The first thing he did upon awakening 35 years later was flip out and jack the city network. Terry espouses a view based on this trope:
    Batman: You really think you're Robert Vance, don't you? But he was flesh, and you're just binary. They don't go together!
  • Bump in the Night: In "Farewell, 2 Arms", after Molly Coddle loses one of her arms and gets it replaced with an arm from an old toy ape, she becomes obsessed with replacing parts of her body. She starts stealing props and parts from the other toys in an attempt to become the "ultimate toy", to the point of ripping her head off and replacing it with a staple remover, leading to a confrontation between the original Molly Coddle and her new body.
  • Gargoyles:
    • Inverted with Jackal and Hyena. They were Ax-Crazy before deciding to become cyborgs—rather, this was a sign of how screwed up they are. Their teammate Wolf is similar, though he chose to be genetically engineered into a wolf-man instead.
    • Also averted with the cyborg Coldstone; Goliath seems to think this at first, but his mental instability is really due to anger at first, and then later from the circumstances of having three souls (one of whom was evil) sharing one body. The closest he ever really came to this trope was when Xanatos used a computer program to brainwash him for a while; it messed with his mind, but his "soul" remained fine.
  • In the Futurama episode "The Six Million Dollar Mon", Hermes Conrad enhances himself with numerous robot parts in order to become a more efficient bureaucrat. The alterations make his already chilly personality even more so. His desire for perfection eventually leads him to seek a robot brain replacement, which presents other problems. Oddly enough, it's general screwup and Butt-Monkey Zoidberg who winds up restoring him to his previous self.
  • Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series: Dr. Droid was out of his mind before he started replacing his body parts with machinery.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): Robotnik's Roboticizer doesn't only transform a person's body - it also hijacks the mind, stealing the victim's free will and reducing them to little more than a slave. However, this only happens if the victim's head is roboticized - Bunnie Rabbot is partially roboticized herself, and since her head was unaffected, she retained complete control of her mind.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: "Strange Energies": A variation when Tendi suggests that Rutherford has Synthetic Memory Disorder. It's a condition that can occur from cybernetic brain implants that gradually shifts the afflicted's personality and memories as neurons degrade until their brain melts out of their skull.
  • Teen Titans (2003):
    • Usually averted — Cyborg is arguably the most lively, spontaneous and "teenage" member of the team, but it does arise in one of his Character Focus episodes. In an increasingly obsessive effort to boost his speed and intellect enough to compensate for a villain's Doppelgänger Attack, he keeps upgrading and overclocking his neural processor until he eventually decides to shut down his brain's emotional center to further boost its efficiency. At this point he's talking pure Spock Speak in a deadened, soulless, metal-tinged voice, and the rest of the team's left shaken by a conversation with him...
      Beast Boy: Cyborg's always had chips for brains, but he's turning into the one thing I never thought he could be... a robot.
    • Inverted with Season 3's Big Bad, Brother Blood. He was already evil, and the fact that he voluntarily allowed most of his body to be destroyed so he could be fitted with the same kind of implants Cyborg has just showed how far he was willing to go to grab power.
    • Somewhat played straight in another episode where a technological wizard (who's also a cyborg) tries to "improve" Cyborg by turning him fully machine against his will. Cyborg protests that this would eliminate his humanity, and it's not until the other cyborg downloads his memories that he realizes what he's doing is wrong.
    • His Teen Titans Go! incarnation totally averts it, being a goofy slacker who couldn't care less about being part-machine.

    Real Life 
  • Averted in Real Life, unless it has something to do with the brain. Pacemakers, Artificial Limbs, artificial hearts, aural implants, and the like are fairly common knowledge in advanced medicine, and are not reported to have side effects of insanity, lobotomy, or other forms of radical personality change characteristic of this trope. However, some of the people who've received artificial hearts, specifically the continuous-flow design, have reported a feeling of unease and detachment due to no longer having a pulse.
    • Alternatively, the theory of "embodied cognition" (explained more fully in Discover Magazine) suggests that any change to the body will also change the thought process, since cognition does not only happen in the brain but throughout your anatomy. If that is indeed the case replacing body parts with cybernetics will almost certainly change someone's outlook. The jury is still out on exactly how it will change, but there is some evidence (outlined by BBC Future) that cybernetics that alter the awareness of what your body is doing may reduce empathy and intuition. If someone could be completely robbed of both through cybernetic enhancement they could certainly appear to have lost their soul.
  • Brain implants have also been experimented with in primates, rats, and insects. Though the implications terrify some humans (particularly with "roborats" whose behavior can be controlled by an implant in their pleasure center, and a few roboroaches that can apparently directed completely by remote control), it's not clear whether the critters themselves feel any different. Of course, we can't exactly ask them. In the interests of potentially freeing stroke victims, it's worthwhile research.
    • Experimental brain implants have already been installed on Alzheimer patients in clinical tests with positive results. They're still very simple, but prove once and for all that simply having silicon in your nervous system won't make you inhuman.
      • It's not like anyone seriously fears the extreme case ("having silicon in your nervous system" makes you psychotic or robotic). However, modern science still has a long way to go before it can disprove the more moderate case, that extensive use of cybernetics in one's body can change one's outlook (which is very likely, since all other known processes that mess with the brain can result in personality changes).
    • And implants also work with Parkinsons. A French man who was unable to hold a glass of water without the implant was fully independent and able to keep his job with those.
    • Note that "roborats" aren't actually operated like a remote-control device. Their implants can provide a pleasurable sensation only, under circumstances (like searching a collapsed building for trapped survivors) where giving the rat a food-reward isn't possible. Conventional training is still necessary to get the rats to do what their handlers want.
      • A variant version of the "roborats" uses the portion of their brain connected to their whiskers, and the rat's natural tendency to move along a surface they can feel with them. Much like a person running their hand along the wall in the dark. This method allows for an essentially remote-controlled rat by tricking them into something they would do naturally.
    • Certain neural implants are designed to jam errant brain signals, like the ones that cause epileptic fits.
  • This study indicates that people will be able to handle unusual alterations to their body without being hit with full-on Body Horror, making it even less likely that cybernetics will eat anyone's soul.
  • It should be noted that the most commonly depicted symptom of soul-lessness, loss of emotion, is possible as emotional reactions are brought on through various chemicals, (neurotransmitters, adrenaline). Even something as simple as an antidepressant can make a person less emotional or even downright Straw Vulcan with a sufficient dose. Cybernetics have the potential to affect, stimulate, or manipulate the production of these chemicals.
    • Human emotions are heavily dependent on hormonal status. Replacing of internal secretion glands certainly will lead to changes... For example, adrenaline surges, makes humans more susceptible for emotions, like fear. With automatically administered adrenaline, such reactions will not take place. Same applies for some other hormones, like testosterone. Summing up, brains in jars likely to have much more stable moods due to automatically regulated hormonal balance.
  • Funny enough, might eventually turn out to be Truth in Television of a sort, as Real Life personages like Elon Musk, Ray Kurzweil and others are now beginning to argue anything from augmenting to repairing to downright replacing brain tissue with machines. Crosses some wires with Brain Uploading, but flash forward 20 Minutes into the Future and some implants might literally eat some of your brain to establish themselves in your noggins...


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Cybernetics Will Eat Your Soul


The emotionless Cybermen

The people of Mondas, now known as Cybermen, converted themselves into cyborgs in order to survive on their dying planet. In the process, they removed their capacity for and understanding of emotions, which deeply unnerves both the Doctor and Polly.

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Main / CyberneticsEatYourSoul

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