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Designer Babies
aka: Designer Baby

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"Nothing ever changes, except man. Your technical accomplishments? Improve a mechanical device and you may double productivity, but improve man and you gain a thousandfold. I am such a man."
Khan Noonien Singh, Star Trek: The Original Series, "Space Seed"

One of the big downfalls of LEGO Genetics is that it's hard to modify an adult. The majority of "genetic action" (cell differentiation, growing body parts, etc.) occurs during gestation and childhood. Once you're done with puberty, your body's basically just on maintenance duty from then on. This makes it hard to bio-augment you into growing a third arm or whatever, because you just aren't doing much growing at all. It's a bit like trying to put berries into a muffin after it's already been baked.

The better way, therefore, is to modify people before they're born. Fetuses are mostly stem cells that have yet to differentiate, so they're easier to work with (especially if you have some Applied Phlebotinum on hand). Designer Babies are what occurs when you create or genetically engineer embryos with desired traits. Then simply return them to their womb (or a Uterine Replicator if unavailable) and watch the child grow.

The resulting person is usually seen either as a more perfect and awesome Transhuman than normal people, or as a freak/monster who should never have existed and must now be destroyed — and sometimes both at the same time by different groups of people. Superpowers are a common thing to give your Designer Baby. They're also frequently the purview of the Evilutionary Biologist, who believes that humanity could be "improved" so much if they would only allow him to tinker a bit. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Better hope the Designer Babies don't decide they don't need their designers any more...

It's not uncommon, especially in Science Fiction of the Dystopian variety, to have settings where most or all humans are produced as Designer Babies, sometimes forced into physical and mental specializations similar to a Hive Caste System. This is often done in an effort to "perfect" humanity, in a belief that nature is stronger than nurture. Parallels with Nazi eugenics are likely. In almost all of these settings, there will be a group of people who want to make babies the "natural" way. Whether they're right depends on which side of Science Is Bad the work's Aesop falls on.

See also The Social Darwinist and Evilutionary Biologist. Compare Darwinist Desire and Genius Breeding Act. Artificial Human is a related trope.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Team Summer A and its candidates in 7 Seeds were all created by picking only superior sperm and eggs to fertilize, so they would have inherently improved skills, reflexes and looks from birth onward.
  • Beastars: We learn that after a war in the past between carnivores and herbivores, there were experiments to genetically alter carnivorous species into more docile creatures. Jack, the main character's best friend, as a Labrador, is the result of such experiments. He finds that he tends to be more intelligent than other natural carnivores and less aggressive. It led him to be bullied by other natural predators. He also discovers he can't really feel negative emotions, which he discovers after he learns the Awful Truth about the war and finds himself unmoved. This horrifies him, ironically.
  • Captain Earth has the aptly named Designer's Children, a group of children whose genetic structure was specifically altered so that other people could install their consciousness into them, effectively rendering these individuals immortal if the process is repeated. However, this genetic structure made them the perfect prey for the alien Kiltgangs, who installed their consciousnesses into them to infiltrate Earth and ultimately drain all of humanity's life force. The children know nothing of that and their Kiltgang personality is latent until they're awakened, but even unawakened, they possess supernatural abilities, called Singularities. Once they come in contact with another Kiltgang or libido, they awake.
  • It is quite heavily implied that Aoi Hidaka, the main heroine of Dancougar Nova, was born this way.
  • Gundam:
    • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED derives much of its drama from the fact that Designer Babies (Coordinators) exist alongside naturally-born humans (Naturals), leading to racial strife and outright warfare. A war the Coordinators have an upper hand in because while their modifications don't make them Super Soldiers per se,note  it works well enough, especially when all your soldiers have it. However, the Coordinators still grow in a mothers womb and are genetically modified shortly after conception (not before). The one true Designer Baby is Kira, who was grown in a Uterine Replicator and free of the influence of a mother's hormones during pregnancy, thus becoming the 'perfect' Coordinator.
    • The show's resident Char Clones are a product of this as well, with one being a clone of the other's father, who was dissatisfied his own son because his DNA was "tainted" with that of his mother.
    • The spinoff Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray shows a darker side to this with Kaite Maddigan, a freelance mercenary who was abandoned by his parents because his mods didn't come out right. What's his problem, you ask? His hair is two-toned (blond and black). It's implied that this is a common occurrence, since Kaite is a former member of a mercenary group made entirely of Coordinators who got discarded for similarly petty reasons.
      • The Astray series have shown off other imperfect Coordinators. Recurring character Elijah Kiel of Serpent Tail ended up coming out without the usual superior physiology of a Coordinator and only became a competent pilot once he joined the mercenary team. Another minor character, ZAFT test pilot Riika Sheder, has very poor eyesight and must wear a pair of glasses.
    • In X Astray, we are given Canard Pars. A failed attempt in the Perfect Coordinator project, but the only one besides Kira Yamato to survive. At first, his entire reason for existence was to hunt down Kira, and defeat him, to prove that he isn't a worthless, failed experiment.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, all of the Winner family's children except Quatre were test tube babies, due to the then-current difficulties of natural birth in space. The story implies that the difficulties were slowly sorted out as mankind got acclimated to space, but because the Winner family had been in space the whole time, they still had to deal with them.
  • In Himawari!, most of the ninjas, including the title character, are test tube babies, designed to be perfect ninja.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Fate, Erio, Subaru, Vivio, and Scaglietti himself are all the products of genetic engineering of one kind or another. The technology is experimental and illegal, but the children created by Project F and its descendants have full human rights.
  • Monster includes a more realistic variation on the concept — the babies produced by Franz Bonaparta's program including Johan and Anna/Nina are conceived in the normal way and carried by their own biological mothers, but their parents were handpicked by the program's supervisors and manipulated into falling in love.
  • Rei Ayanami and Kaworu Nagisa from Neon Genesis Evangelion fit this trope, minus the whole metaphysical mumbo jumbo that accompanies them and their superpowers, of course. In the manga, Asuka Langley Soryu is one as well.
  • One Piece: All children of Vinsmoke Judge were genetically modified to be superhumans with near-limitless potential, in order to become perfect generals for his Clone Army. They're also psychologically engineered to be essentially emotionless sociopaths so they'll become ruthless killers and warriors. Sanji was the only one of his siblings to be born normal thanks to a Heroic Sacrifice his mother took in her attempt to protect her quadruplet sons, but was viciously bullied as a result. Reiju received the same psychological alterations her brothers received, but was still able to feel empathy like Sanji thanks to frequent interactions with her mother.
    • The Seraphim are altered clones of the Warlords of the Sea, hybridized with the mysterious Lunarian race along with being given cybernetic enhancements. The World Government created them to replace the Warlords, who as pirates were considered unreliable and untrustworthy but had previously been an essential part of the government's military power. Creating upgraded versions of them who were programmed for absolute loyalty neatly solved that problem.
  • This trope is a big part of the premise behind Saber Marionette J, with all of the male inhabitants of Terra II except for Hess being born via recombinant DNA and cloning technology. Interesting considering that men were the only survivors, which doesn't make a lot of sense considering that females can be cloned from males. If women were the only survivors, it would make more sense. But at the end of the day, that's not really important.
  • An interesting variant occurs in Simoun, in which one of the enemy nations has replaced the traditional method of sex selection among the Human Aliens who populate the world: instead of everyone being female until 17, and choosing a sex then, the enemy nation assigns sexes to babies shortly after birth through hormones and surgery.
  • Tokyo Ghoul: The Sunlit Garden is revealed to be a facility that breeds Half-Human Hybrid Tyke Bombs for the CCG. These children are typically born nearly identical to their human parent, but possess the superhuman physical attributes of their ghoul parent. In exchange, however, they suffer from a significantly shortened lifespan and begin to break down internally by the time they reach their 30s. This makes them ideal as disposable Child Soldiers, trained from birth to fight and sent into the field as Ghoul Investigators around the age of 15. The mysterious Rize Kamishiro was also bred at the facility, and is stated to possess an unique and powerful kagune. The purpose of her creation hasn't been revealed.
  • In Vandread, humanity has split into a planet of all males called Tarak and a planet of all females called Mejare. DNA from a couple is manipulated to give a new baby. On Tarak, this means a factory birth, while on Mejare, the baby is implanted in the womb to be born normally. This makes them effectively a pair of One Gender Races, though normal breeding could be resumed. Note that these are not the only colony worlds left, just the main ones we see. This is later revealed to be due to an Ancient Conspiracy involving the mass organ-harvest of Walking Transplant Expendable Clones. Each colony had various restrictions and often cultural manipulations due to the parts they were expected to "produce". Tarak and Mejere were intended to produce sexual organs.

    Comic Books 
  • Azrael: Jean-Paul Valley wasn't born but as much as engineered, conceived in a vat his genetics were altered with those of animals by The Order of St. Dumas, to give him strength, speed and resilience beyond human.
  • The Animesque Dirty Pair comic by Adam Warren has both Kei and Yuri as recipients of the "Lucien" genetic upgrade package, which granted them superhuman abilities along with increased attractiveness. (The prologue to the "Fatal, But Not Serious" miniseries has an activist complaining that the Lovely Angels are feeding the stereotype of Luciens — like the activist — as stupid bimbos.)
  • Thundra from Fantastic Four came from a future Lady Land Dystopia where babies are engineered in the "Temple of Genetics".
  • Superman:
    • In Superman's Post-Crisis origin, Kryptonians are born in a "birthing matrix". Jor-El attached a star drive to Kal-El's. This essentially allowed Superman to be "born" on Earth, which was coupled with a severe winter which isolated the Kent family farm for months; this allowed the Kents to claim he was their natural son and eliminated all the hassle adoption of a foundling would entail in the modern world. It also allowed for an alternate future storyline where Superman is elected President of the United States, which only people born in the United States can do. This has since been undone.
    • In Krypton No More, Superman is made to believe that his cousin Linda — alias Supergirl — and he have powers due to genetic modification.
  • The Silver Age Wonder Woman stories have a purely supernatural version that only relates to appearance. Instead of molding a single child out of clay essentially brought to life by her and Aphrodite's combined love, Hyppolyta molds two children and only wants one of them to look like her. Diana and Nubia are both gifted to be as beautiful as Aphrodite regardless, but the only thing they really share is straight, long black hair. The two otherwise look nothing alike.
  • X-Men:
    • A subtle example with X-23. When she decided that an exact clone of Wolverine would be impractical, if not outright impossible (the only genetic sample they had available of Logan was degraded, particularly in the Y chromosome), to make in the timeframe she was given, Dr. Sarah Kinney instead decided to duplicate his X chromosome and create a female instead. It's subtly implied that she also took measures to ensure that the clone would not only be positive for the X-gene, but that she would be born with the same mutation as Logan.note  Considering Laura is The Ugly Guys Hot Opposite-Sex Clone, that she's generally depicted as having a genius-level intellect, one wonders what other sorts of modifications were made to ensure she was ideally suited for her purpose. Given that Laura bears some physical resemblance to Dr. Kinney, there's a lot of fan speculation that she used her own X chromosome in creating Laura rather than doubling Logan's like she claimed. This is later shown to be true, and Laura is stated to genetically be Logan's daughter with Sarah.
    • Nate Grey/X-Man was created by Sinister from the genetic material of Scott Summers and Jean Grey in the Age of Apocalypse reality, specifically to be the ultimate weapon and destroy Apocalypse. Considering how Nate started out as a Person of Mass Destruction and, after many years of hijinks, became someone who could not only destroy Apocalypse, but treat him like a puppet and, at most, a mild inconvenience.
    • The Stepford Cuckoos are genetically modified clones of Emma Frost.
    • Fantomex who was bred by the same people that created the Stepford Cuckoos. His modifications also go beyond mere genetics as nanomachines are an integral part of him before even conception.
    • In the Secret Wars (2015) version of the New X-Men storyline "E is for Extinction", creating babies with the perfect X-Gene activated is something of a chic thing. However, it's not perfect — a baby born with one ability would end up with a completely different and unknown secondary mutation, so you could have a baby with hyper intelligence, who ended up as a bag of skin later on in life.

    Comic Strips 
  • Parodied in Calvin and Hobbes, when Calvin asked his dad where babies come from and was told that hopeful parents just buy a kit from Sears and assemble them. Calvin, on the other hand, was a marked-down knock-off brand from K-Mart. This is yet another lie Calvin's dad says to torment his son.

    Fan Works 
  • Like in CthulhuTech, the first Nazzadi are this in Aeon Entelechy Evangelion. Concerning the 'fic itself, unlike in the game, the Migou didn't stop making new Nazzadi after the mass defection, they just genetically made them better than the traitors and most importantly, absolutely loyal.
  • Bait and Switch (STO): Brought up when Rachel Connor is arrested and tried for being a genetic augment: she interacts with a college-aged girl who was turned into a Khan-style augment in utero. Kanril Eleya also mentions having had a couple of recessive alleles increasing her cancer risk edited out in utero, which she says is part of standard prenatal medical screening in the Federation.
  • The Child of Love: Gendo made sure that Asuka's Eva's cockpit was filled with a new type of LCL blended with special DNA agents to alter Asuka's baby. Due to this, Teri started to develop Psychic Powers before her birth.
  • Child of the Storm has the unusual variant of someone — Maddie Pryor a.k.a. Rachel Grey thinking that they're this, when actually, she was stolen at birth.
  • Deconstructed in Children of an Elder God. Since most people went mad or mutated horribly when they tried to control an Evangelion, NERV created genetically mutated fetuses and implanted them in volunteers. One of them killed Asuka's mother.
    "How could you do something like that? That's horrible, going around altering the genetics of babies! How could you do that to my parents?"
  • In Daughter of Fire and Steel, Kryptonians are test-tube babies grown in pods. Kara was genetically engineered to be a soldier, but something went "wrong" with the process and she was born with emotions.
    On Krypton, natural births had been banned centuries ago. All Kryptonians were born in test tubes and large lab vats. Only a few bloodlines were used in the process of a caste system. Warrior, Worker, and Leader were only a few varieties created and had no way of changing their fates. If you were a soldier, you stayed a soldier for life regardless of your own choice.
    Kara-El was born to be a soldier but something went wrong with her genetic makeup. Normal traits excluded from Soldier Class were in her DNA. Emotions especially compassion were things that were not wanted on the battlefield. But the codex process wasn't perfect. Sometimes children were born with a flawed genetic makeup.
  • Friends of a Solar Empire gives us Twilight Sparkle.
  • Last Child of Krypton: The exact method varies depending on the version (original story or redux), but Shinji was genetically altered with Kryptonian DNA before he was born. As a result he is, well, Superman.
  • Done in Morphic, since the author was specifically trying to go for a more realistic approach to Pok√©morphs (which are often done as LEGO Genetics).
  • In the Doctor Who/Firefly crossover "Out of Joint", the Ninth Doctor posits that Simon and River were both given some genetic "adjustments" (more so in River's case).
  • Save The Kittens: Thanks to the artificial means by which they are made, their appearance and even personality traits can be decided before they are even 'born'.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: Asuka is born via artificial insemination from an unknown father. She began to figure out what her genetic makeup had been tinkered with when she started bending titanium with her bare hands and seeing through walls.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Blade Runner:
    • Blade Runner gives us Replicants, artificial humans engineered to perform particular roles, such as heavy laborers, soldiers, and sex workers. In the original film, they're only allowed in the off-world colonies, so special detectives like our protagonist, Rick Deckard, are employed to seek out and "retire" any that make it to Earth. The Nexus 6 series featured in the first film also have a built-in 4-year lifespan as a "safety feature". Rachael is revealed to be a Replicant programmed with false memories to think she was human, and Deckard is implied to potentially be an unwitting replicant as well.
    • Blade Runner 2049 has seen some changes to the Replicant line. The Nexus 8 series had the lifespan limitation removed, and were allowed to live on Earth for a time, but they were banned as well after The Blackout. A few are still living under the radar on Earth three decades later. Nexus 9 models, such as Officer K and Luv, are designed to be more obedient so as not to be a threat to baseline humans. The film's plot hinges on the potential of replicants to have kids of their own; the heirs of the Tyrell corporation would love to have self-replicating slave labor, but the government is worried about increasingly rebellious slaves being able to breed and raise a generation of rebels — and the possibility of Replicants cross-breeding with humans scares the hell out of them; Replicants only squeeze past the laws against slavery because they're artificial. The revelation that Rachael died of complications from a C-section drives the entire plot. The possibility of Deckard being a replicant is raised again, but left unresolved.
  • Demolition Man: "Eeewww, disgusting! You mean... fluid transfer?" It's not made explicit that babies are vat-grown to be "better" than normal babies. It's rather heavily implied that sex is discouraged to avoid the spread of STDs that make AIDS look like a picnic. However, the world has become such a joyless "nanny state" that another highly plausible reason is Sex Is Evil won to the degree that a less "naughty" way of having children had to be found. Presumably, it was also a means of Population Control, as they say "abortion is illegal but so is pregnancy without a permit".
  • In Gattaca, the former Trope Namer, gamete selection technology is routinely used to create the "best possible" child a pair of parents could potentially conceive. Naturally occurring conceptions are unusual, and the people born from them are regarded as inferior and suffer from discrimination, including insults such as "faithbirths", "degenerates", and "godchild" (referring to their parents' decision to throw caution to the wind and trust in faith or God to give them a healthy child).
  • Jurassic World Dominion offers a case that actually started after conception: Maisie Lockwood received from her Truly Single Parent Charlotte (who created and carried to term a clone of herself) a treatment to cleanse her DNA from a genetic disease that Charlotte discovered during gestation and would take her life when Maisie was little.
  • In Man of Steel, the Kryptonians were genetically engineered to fill out different roles in their society and were all artificially conceived and birthed from a Genesis Chamber. Kryptonian scientists Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van believed that the element of choice was lost in converting over to such a system, which, combined with the resulting Creative Sterility and impending self-inflicted destruction of Krypton, led to their conceiving and birthing Kal-El, the first naturally conceived and born child in centuries.
  • The Matrix: "Humans are no longer born. We are grown." However, the fact that people look the same inside and outside the Matrix suggests that the sexual decisions they make in the Matrix are replicated in the real world by the machines artificially conceiving new humans.
  • The scientists in Twins (1988) were aiming to do this, but because their effort were done in the beginnings of genetic science something went wrong, the "perfectly engineered" gamete divided into two babies, who grew up to look like Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • The Unborn 1991 is about a couple who have had fertility problems for a long time. They eventually undergo an experimental in-vitro fertilization procedure in order to successfully have a child. At first, they're ecstatic to be pregnant. Unfortunately, the doctor who performed the procedure was experimenting on the infertile women to produce creepily-intelligent, genetically modified babies.
  • Deconstructed in A View to a Kill. Carl Mortner, a Josef Mengele stand-in and The Dragon to Max Zorin, explains to James Bond on how his principles on horse breeding can also be applied to create the "ideal" human. In fact, Mortner did work on a Super Breeding Program that attempted to create Super Soldiers for the Nazi regime, Zorin being one of them. While most of the experiments failed as the pregnant women were overdosed with steroids, the few babies that survived became extremely talented later in life, but also mentally unstable and devoid of any empathy. Zorin killing his own workers while laughing is one disturbing example of how the steroids have corroded his mind.

  • Alliance/Union has the Union using genetically engineered "azi" to rapidly increase their population. Azi are separated into castes designated by Greek letters (with alphas being geniuses) but the differences in intelligence don't necessarily breed true when they are freed and have children. In fact, Resune's Azi program is a bit more complete than just Designer Babies. It's revealed in Cyteen that Resune doesn't merely design babies, but the entire population to ensure a healthy mix of genetics and bias the populations towards Resune's political aims.
  • Beyond This Horizon has the same gamete-selection process and discrimination as in Gattaca, but it's treated much better by being actually scientific; traits are studied extensively before being integrated into the general population, there is a protected class of "control naturals" just in case any of the selected genes turn out to be a bad idea, and the gene-selected humans won a war against an empire of caste species to show that individual survival drive trumps Brave New World-style human insect hives with custom-bred units. There's also a condemnation of the Uterine Replicator concept; you don't want to risk the genetics for a healthy womb deteriorating — if civilization ever collapsed and humans had to breed naturally again, a lack of healthy reproductive systems and knowledge of reproductive care would doom the entire species.
  • In Blindfold, the Truthsayers are a group of genetically engineered people trained from birth with the use of the Veritas drug, which temporarily increases their brains' receptive abilities, allowing them to detect another brain's EM impulses (i.e. read thoughts). While it is possible for a normal person to use the drug, the results are unpredictable. There is also the fact that it is a gross violation of privacy. Since the Truthsayers have no familial or genetic ties to anyone outside their group, they are used as Living Lie Detectors. Their verdict in court cases is final. However, not all trainees become Truthsayers, meaning the genetic engineering process is not perfect.
  • Bounders: Mental disabilities were engineered out of the population years ago, until scientists discovered that certain conditions might make a person better suited for space travel. Heterosexual couples with dormant genes for conditions like ADHD and autism were selected by the government to have kids, who were created in a petri dish to make sure they got the right combination of genes. Jasper and his friends are the product of this breeding project.
  • Older Than Television: In Brave New World, babies are "grown" (and "decanted" rather than "born"). However, since the book was written before the development of modern genetics, society must resort to more complicated and organic means than flipping genetic switches to create their hereditary castes, such as alcohol.
  • In Laura Mixon's Burning The Ice, all of the colonists are clones grown in vitro. Each colonist is a member of a pair of clone twins or triplets, which also belongs to a family of clone siblings of various ages. The protagonist, Manda, is unusual in that she's a singleton, though she does have older clone siblings of the CarliPablo group.
  • A Certain Magical Index: The Sisters and Misaka Worst are all clones, and genetically made to grow faster, at the expense of lifespan. After the Level 6 Shift project was shut down, they all underwent hormone balance adjustment to slow their growth down and give them more normal lifespans.
  • A 'utopian' example is the city of Diaspar, the last bastion of humanity, in The City and the Stars, where humanity appears to have given up on sexual reproduction, in favor of an unimaginably massive database of personalities. Whenever a new person is to be born, a personality is downloaded into a created body, and assigned a couple to be its parents. When a person dies, they may choose what memories of theirs will be carried into their next incarnation, which may be millennia in the future, such is the size of the database, and those memories will become available to their new incarnation once it becomes an adult and has developed a truly unique personality through its childhood. 'Uniques', personalities seemingly generated during the creation process, do occur, but are viewed either as a wonderful accident, one of many little tricks to prevent stagnation, or as some great and possibly subversive plan by Diaspar's architects. Later on, it turns out that there is a second remaining pocket of humanity, Lys, where humans have chosen to be born naturally, and die without the assurance of artificial reincarnation, living an Agrarian lifestyle and having over time developed empathic capabilities. Interestingly however, neither is presented as 'right', rather, as two distinct, viable versions of utopia. The part the book presents as wrong is the two cultures decision to totally isolate themselves from one another.
  • In The Court of the Air, female slaves in Cassarabia wish their wombs were used to incubate this trope, and not the monstrous Mix-and-Match Critters which the local bio-wizards dream up.
  • In Courtship Rite, some clans do perform genetic manipulation to try to improve themselves, but since the results can be unpredictable, and the techniques are expensive and difficult, it's not all that common. Genetic screening for undesirable traits is common, but even there, the Getans are aware that diversity is a boon in the long run.
  • The Abh from Crest of the Stars are all Designer Babies. Most embryos are created in a lab, but some are created naturally and then later taken out and adjusted in a lab. These "love children" are seen as a beneficial and generally preferred way to reproduce.
  • The Culture: Most denizens of the Culture are designer babies, genetically modified to have increased lifespans, longer and stronger orgasms and the ability to naturally synthetize and use drugs with no ill effects.
  • The Draka: Starting in the late 20th century, the Draka gene-engineer their own babies for physical strength, speed and endurance, their serfs' babies for docility, all babies for intelligence. By the 25th Century humanity in the solar system has split into two distinct species, which by design are not interfertile: Homo drakensis and Homo servus. The drakensis are designed for war and survival, almost impossible to kill, do not age physically after the age of 25, and exude pheromones they can use to emotionally dominate servus and unmodified Homo sapiens. (They're also constantly horny, incredibly sexy, and universally bisexual.) A Draka female, ordinarily sterile, is still capable of bearing their own babies, if she takes a month to get her uterus up and running by biofeedback techniques, but it is considered perverse; all drakensis are gestated by implanting fertilized ova into servus host-mothers, or mechanical "orthowombs".
  • Dr. Franklin's Island: Doctor Franklin's dream is to create useful animal-human hybrids. When this trope comes up, he sneers and claims that starting from a scratch just won't do for what he wants.
  • Dune:
    • The Tleilaxu are a race of humans whose hat is genetic engineering — their stock in trade is custom-designed organics. People, animals, living furniture; you name it, they'll make it. This is held in stark contrast with the rest of Galactic society where all breeding is strictly natural by taboo. The Tleilaxu are therefore tolerated for their usefulness but are considered disgusting and degraded by most people. It gets even worse in the sequels when it's revealed exactly what the "axolotl tanks" they use to grow their products are.
    • Even the Bene Gesserit, an all-female group obsessed with breeding programs, will only use natural methods of impregnation, to the point of forcing the openly-gay Baron Harkonnen to have sex with one of them. This gets ludicrous when they're worried that bloodlines may die out when all they'd have to do is obtain sperm samples and keep those in nullentropy capsules to use in worst-case scenarios. These women claim to be entirely rational (they despise love because it clouds reasoning) but refuse to break irrational taboos. In fact, the only time this is broken is by one of them who does it out of love. Tessia offers to impregnate herself with Rhombur Vernius' half-brother's preserved semen, as Rhombur himself is unable to have children.
    • The Bene Gesserit are shown to have a horror of artificial insemination in Dune Messiah less out of ethics than because using sex to control powerful men is at least as important as having their babies.
  • Eve and Adam: There are genetic modifications to make a child heal faster, and some characters had it from birth. There is also the ability to genetically engineer whole people, leading to the titular Adam.
  • In The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk, post-eco-apocalypse southern California is ruled by a high-tech religious dictatorship with several genetically engineered slave-castes — some bred for war, some for sexual recreation.
  • In Friday, human society has learned to grow custom-tailored humans and other creatures; these are known as "Artificial Persons" if they are superficially human and "Living Artifacts" if they are clearly not human. Both are subject to a great deal of Fantastic Racism; the eponymous protagonist is an AP and suffers from a crushing inferiority neurosis because of it.
  • The Gate to Women's Country: The women's government "corrects" fetuses with a genetic preposition for homosexuality or violent tendencies in utero.
  • In Genome, many parents choose to "specialize" their children before they're born, if they can afford it. The protagonist mentions that, by law, every Spesh has a right to remove his or her specialization. However, in practice, this never happens. For one, many of the changes in mind and body that occur at puberty and determine their life path are simply irreversible. Furthermore, very Spesh loves his or her job — they're programmed to love it. These modifications range from enhanced logical reasoning for detectives to extra joints for fighters, not to mention enhanced reflexes and strength. Also, starship pilots, detectives, and tax inspectors are incapable of love, as it clouds judgment. On the other hand, hetaeras (call girls) are conditioned to fall in love with their clients and be unable to fall out of love until their client reciprocates. There is plenty of distrust between the Speshs and the Naturals, even though everyone has some sort of gene therapy done on them as a fetus, like corrected eyesight and fixed genetic defects. Some jobs simply cannot be done by Naturals, like power specialists who are genetically modified to handle high doses of radiation (mostly by shielding it with their skin and long hair). Interestingly, at least one job that is assumed to be Spesh-only can be done by an extremely skilled Natural. This is shown in the novel where a Natural becomes a starship navigator, a job that requires one to memorize the multidimensional map of the galaxy and be able to plot a safe and fast course through FTL. He turns out to be a pretty good navigator.
  • In God Clads, the physical fun of sex and general lust have stopped because of a terrible condition called "wombrash" a condition that kills people if they even think of a lustful thought. Thus, babies have been transitioned to being vat grown for them to not die immediately. Of course, the higher-ups of the settings use genetic modification for the best looks, abilities and more.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • Manpower, Inc. specializes in these. Everything from technicians to miners to jugglers and entertainers. Skrags in the backstory are a mix of Designer Baby and Transhuman, with the nastiest containing so many artificial improvements they were sterile and long dead. Many characters are actually somewhat 'Genie' as Honor herself. But due to the horror of the Skrags, anything Transhuman is looked down on. The new Arc is a war between Transhumanists and baselines that started as a break in philosophy.
    • There are essentially two (or possibly three, depending on how you count) kinds of Designer Baby. First, there are genetic slaves, Manpower Inc's product. These are humans who have been genetically engineered (and psychologically conditioned) to specialize in some specific service, usually at the cost of having all kinds of other health disorders (for example, slaves designed for heavy labor are both grotesquely over-muscled and have more efficient muscle fibers, but at the cost of a much-increased appetite and a high chance of kidney and liver failure). Then you have the Mesan Alignment, the end-product of millennia of genetic engineering and selective breeding aimed at producing humans who are better at everything than baseline humans. Finally, you have what might be described as minor genies, human bloodlines who have experienced very low-scale genetic modification, usually to allow settling worlds that would otherwise have too high a gravity or too little oxygen or whatever.
  • In the Humanx Commonwealth universe, the outlawed Evilutionary Biologists known as the Meliorare Society used this method to produce their "test subjects", including the series' primary protagonist, Flinx.
  • The Idlewild series has the Ten and their children, Waterbabies. Both generations are engineered with the single purpose of surviving Black Ep.
  • In Infinity Beach, genetic engineering is common. The main character, Kimberly, is a clone of her older sister Emily.
  • In The Irregular at Magic High School, this trope explains the "divine" beauty of Miyuki and her opportunity to become a couple with her brother Tatsuya, being his own sister and at the same time being able to give him healthy offspring. She really was born of the same parents as him, but since, as a consequence of genetic modifications, her genes have been so altered that they are different from Tatsuya genes enough that the incest between them does not cause problems to their children. To a lesser extent, this also applies to the youth of the other 10 leading clans, since for generations they have been subjected to various genetic modifications, ranging from the most banal ones to the illegal and immoral ones, as in the case of the Kudou clan.
  • Kris Longknife: The antagonistic Peterwald dynasty turn out to have been engaging in this for generations, making cycle after cycle of functionally identical blond men named Henry Smythe-Peterwald. However, by a Contrived Coincidence, the mother of Hank (Henry XIII) got pregnant naturally around the same time Hank's embryo was implanted, resulting in him having a twin sister named Victoria.
  • Nicolae Carpathia, The Antichrist of the Left Behind series, was a designer baby of a project funded by Jonathan Stonagal, with his genetic makeup being the hybrid sperm of two intelligent men (both of whom were gay) impregnated into a willing host, Marilena Carpathia. Of course, in Glorious Appearing, Jesus reveals that it was God who gave Nicolae the gifts of beauty, wisdom, intelligence, and personality, dismissing the idea that it all came from science.
  • Kay Dutch, the protagonist of Line of Delirium, turns out to be a genetically engineered "super". His very existence is in danger if this knowledge becomes public, as genetic engineering is against the Imperial law. He is stronger, faster, and smarter than most humans with an affinity for languages (even alien languages). He mostly uses his abilities for mercenary work. His "test tube sister" Lyka Seiker's abilities are more focused on mental calculations, allowing her to rapidly become the leader of an interstellar crime syndicate.
  • In the near(ish)-future setting of Living Next Door To The God Of Love, this seems to be a fairly unremarkable choice for moderately affluent parents, and the designer children are known as "Genies". Francine's mother chose various traits for her, including high intelligence, athletic physique and amber-blonde hair. However, Francine clearly doesn't think she's anything special (perhaps by Genie standards, she isn't) and has something of an inferiority complex.
  • In Lucifer's Star, this is the hat of the Archduchy of Crius, who have genetically engineered their society to be a Feudal Future society with superhumans on top and specialized humans in various "castes". It's complicated by the fact that they rule regular humans, and the various castes reproduce with each other or "normal" humans.
  • Parodied in Mallworld, in which human babies are produced to order by birth factories... not because it's necessary or mandated by the state, but because designer babies are trendy.
  • In the Moreau Series, the U.N. forbids human genetic engineering. Several countries did so anyway, and the results are called "Frankensteins". They aren't popular.
  • My Sister's Keeper features an extremely mild version of this. Anna was genetically engineered to be an exact donor match for her cancer-stricken older sister Kate. The main plot of the book is Anna suing her parents to escape having to donate a kidney to Kate.
  • Pilgrennon's Children: Pilgrennon created most of the titular children as part of his research on the genetics of autism by switching the eggs and sperm of people at a fertility clinic with the eggs and sperm of autistic teens who went to his center. If the parents found the resulting children unmanageable, they would sometimes be returned to the center, where Pilgrennon could run experiments on them, which included implanting a Brain/Computer Interface in their brains. Meanwhile, he was working on a clone of himself that was modified to have autism genes, but when the clone was born, it died. Pilgrennon decided that he must have accidentally copied a fatal recessive and decided to steal the ova of Jananin Blake, a brilliant scientist with Asperger's, in order to combine her DNA with his clone. The results were Dana and Cale. Jananin refers to his efforts as eugenics experiments.
    Pilgrennon: If 50% of you is Jananin, then 49% is me, and the other one is all bits and ends from other people.
  • In a number of Robot Series stories, Spacers try to reproduce this way, only to find that the fetus only takes fully and grows when conceived the old-fashioned way.
  • "Tetraparentals" are this in Vonda N. McIntyre's novella Screwtop.
  • Everyone in Skinned is like this. One couple is considered the futuristic version of hippies because they chose to conceive naturally. While there's nothing wrong with their son, he's quite physically flawed when compared to everyone else (for instance, he's basically the only person in the city who wears glasses because he needs them, not because they look cool).
  • Stardoc follows a young female doctor named Cherijo Torin, who discovers in the first novel that she is a genetically modified clone of her "father", who eventually wanted to marry her. That's right, not only did he want to screw himself (and later novels indicate that he already did that with his male clones), but he wanted to do it with someone he raised as his daughter. Cherijo (who name is, actually, an acronym meaning "Comprehensive Human Enhancement Research ID: J Organism") discovers that she is immune to any disease, as her body actively fights against any foreign organism in her (which causes problems when she gets pregnant), and has a Healing Factor (in a later novel, she is perfectly willing to throw herself from a big height in order to get a winged friend to save her, even though her colleague later points out that, while her body would probably heal, any brain damage would be permanent). Oh, and genetic engineering is forbidden in human space (except by her "father", who has helped to pass the law and received special dispensation), and any "freak" is to be caught and executed as a non-person. When the colony finds out that she is a clone, some of the Jerkass characters immediately start calling her "it", claiming that her "intelligence" is merely an imitation programmed into her.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • Jedi Academy Trilogy gives us the Khommites, who believed their society was perfect, and froze it by cloning themselves for a thousand years. This changed when the 81st clone of Dorsk was found to be Force-sensitive and left to become a Jedi, eventually bringing Khomm into the galactic war they had avoided up to that point due to their planet's isolation and lack of resources that anybody else cared about. Also they are described as being genderless, something they "forsook" when taking up cloning, though only referred to by male pronouns (it appears they mean Khommites have no biological sex, so this wouldn't preclude them identifying that way socially).
    • The Bith, a species known for intelligence as well as musical prowess, are unable to breed naturally and breed by using a machine that combines the DNA of the two parent Bith in order to create an embryo.
    • The Hapan were a race of Human Aliens whose defining characteristic were extreme beauty compared to baseline humans as a result of generations of selective breeding. As a result, the entire species became pathological narcissists. It's noted that while they lagged behind the rest of the galaxy in some technological aspects, their bioengineering skills were second to none.
  • The inhabitants of Sulva (Earth's Moon) are said to be born this way in That Hideous Strength. Apparently, they can only be turned on by sexbots and therefore can't make babies the normal way.
  • In This Alien Shore, Terran embryos are genetically modified to prevent them from developing the physical and mental abnormalities the Variants have. Two of Jamisia's genes were altered, one an insulin regulator and one a predisposition to neural decay.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, the Cetagandan Haut-lords reproduce entirely without sex or even coupling being involved. Every child is created through contracts arranged by high-ranking family members, frequently with positive genetic alterations added, then the baby cooked up in a Uterine Replicator and handed to the appropriate parent. The Haut are practically considered a superhuman sub-race at this point.
  • Warformed Stormweaver: It's common practice to modify embryos for cosmetic purposes. Because of this, nearly everyone in Rey's generation is excessively attractive, most of them having impossible hair or eye colors—from the merely improbable like Aria's extremely striking green eyes and red hair to the literally impossible like Grant's red-black eyes. As Viv notes, even Rey is an example, though he didn't get to take advantage of most of the modifications because his disease messed with everything.
  • In Woman on the Edge of Time, this is how the society reproduces. It's all but stated that this is a necessary sacrifice to eliminate the last vestige of gender discrimination. On the upside, a child is not only raised by the whole village, but get three parents to look after and nurture it. The society also tends to be a Free-Love Future.
  • In the Xandri Corelel series, most people are created in a petri dish so they can be genetically tweaked in whatever way the parents wish, from preventing a disability to making sure the child has the same eye color as its father. Xandri herself was born during a short-lived natural conception fad, resulting in her status as one of the last autistics in the universe.
  • In the Zachary Nixon Johnson series, the Thompson Quads are four girls who were designed by Dr. Thompson to be superhumanly beautiful, intelligent, and powerful.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Almost Human, the so-called "Chromes" are genetically-engineered to have perfect health and above-average intelligence. One of the main characters is a Chrome, which is unusual as Chromes never go into police work, thinking it a waste of their talents. Chromes have a lot of influence, as a number of politicians and judges are Chromes. One episode involves a Chrome dying of what appears to be a heart attack. This threatens to start a panic, as Chromes are not supposed to be susceptible to such things.
  • In Blake's 7, crewmember Cally is from Auron, a world where parents clone themselves to create their children. Auron had only started to do it several decades previously, so there were also people who were 'born of natural birth'. Cally herself had a twin sister, Zelda.
  • Brave New World: All the people in New London are genetically engineered as zygotes to serve future social roles. The series opens on an image of an ovum being artificially fertilized, with it being shown as a future Beta (i.e., one caste), alongside the list showing them all.
  • In Century City, a fertility specialist is sued for having his clients' babies turn out gay.
  • Danger 5: Holly was genetically created to be the perfect Aryan woman.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the episode "The Doctor's Daughter", there's an entire society created by machines which spilt one person's cells into a set of haploid cells and recombines them to make a new adult in seconds.
    • The Time Lords as well if you consider the Expanded Universe Canon. It reveals that Time Lords have been inflicted a species-wide Sterility Plague by a magical queen who was overthrown by Rassilon. So the Time Lords avoided extinction with by using this, even when the curse wears off. Mind you its not like they can't have sex, its because that they have been using this trope for so long they decided to avoid the whole pregnancy process when you can get an instant baby.
    • Ridiculously, the reason for this is because the Doctor's Celibate Hero status is something fans and some writers had already become very protective of by The '80s — but he's got a granddaughter. There were even plans to reveal Susan as not his biological granddaughter onscreen, simply a girl he'd rescued as a child who called him Grandpa or something like that, but Carole Ann Ford said she'd not return for "The Five Doctors" unless she was still his granddaughter. The whole "'looming' babies" thing is all so the Doctor can be said to have never done what most of us must do to have children and therefore grandchildren.
  • Hanna: This is how Utrax creates its "trainees". They aren't just genetically modified, they've also been spliced with wolf DNA to enhance them.
  • In a two-part crossover of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order, the casts encountered a character played by Estella Warren who was conceived as a genetically superior Transhuman by her scientist father. As an adult, she became a con artist who date-raped handsome and talented men in order to continue her father's work (one character in SVU even mentions this trope by name).
  • A latter season episode of Law & Order had a perp whose main motivation was preventing the "gay gene" from being discovered, which he believed would lead to the elimination of all future gay people in the womb.
  • In Legacies, one of the main characters, Landon Kirby, is revealed to be a result of his father's millennia-long quest of creating the perfect son. Partially crafted from the DNA his father, Malivore, has absorbed over time and born to a human mother, Landon is what all his half-siblings failed to be before him; flawless, immortal and capable of continuing the bloodline.
  • In one episode of Picket Fences, it's discovered that a reproductive services clinic is gestating human babies inside of cows. One infertile woman who has contracted for her child to be grown this way says that this is done to bypass the legal minefields associated with hiring a human surrogate mother. ("I own the cow!") Subverted in that nothing is said about selecting for superior genetic traits, and the use of cows as surrogates is voluntary on the part of the parents, albeit done in secret to avoid controversy.
  • Ransik's villain motivation in Power Rangers Time Force is that, in the year 3000, where all are perfect designer babies, the process sometimes goes wrong and creates mutants like him. He was a pariah growing up, ending up living on the street. In fact, every Monster of the Week is a mutant accident.
  • SOKO Potsdam: Discussed in "Let Live": the Body of the Week was a researcher working on CRISPR gene-editing, which could be used to customize human embryos. Samir mentions the possibility of editing out genetic disabilities, which annoys Luna. Which turns out to be foreshadowing: the murder was motivated by the victim's attempt to sell the research to a company interested in designer human embryos, enraging her girlfriend and coworker, who has a brother with Down syndrome.
  • Space: Above and Beyond had "Tanks", vat-grown, genetically selected humans made to fill a worldwide labor shortage after a partial Depopulation Bomb, and then abandoned when no longer needed. Naturally, they are the target of prejudice and stereotype.
  • In the Star Trek franchise, Earth suffers a terrible series of Eugenics Wars in the near future between normal humans and genetic "augments". By the logic that "superior ability breeds superior ambition", these young Ubermenschen all tend to suffer a Napoleon complex, leading them to war not just with mankind, but with each other (a similar story plays out in Gene Roddenberry's posthumous series Andromeda). Humanity wins, with the lasting result that genetic engineering of human beings is outlawed and held in universal contempt for centuries afterward. The two most well known augments in Star Trek are Kirk's archnemesis Khan Noonien Singh, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's doctor Julian Bashir, who was augmented illegally.
    • Apparently genetic resequencing is allowed for medical purposes such as preventing birth defects, but forbidden for "cosmetic" or "augmenting" reasons. In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Lineage", the Doctor uses resequencing to eliminate a spinal defect in B'Elanna's child, but balks at making changes to eliminate or suppress the child's Klingon DNA.
    • A more benevolent group of genetically engineered humans, who separated and isolated themselves from humanity before it was outlawed, is discovered in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Masterpiece Society". Like the augments, these humans initially believe that their breeding made them superior to normal humans, but after seeing the Enterprise's superior technology, which they could never have even dreamed of despite being designed to be smarter than normal humans, many of them realize that they aren't superior after all and decide to rejoin the human race.
  • Total Recall 2070: In one episode, the Citizen's Protection Bureau is taken over by a mysterious hacker who turns out to be the result of a failed human gene modification experiment. Rather than creating the perfect transhuman, it ended up creating intelligent children with severe psychological disabilities.
  • Parodied in a sketch from The Whitest Kids U' Know. An expecting couple talk with their doctor who brings up that, thanks to new breakthroughs in science, they can selectively choose traits for their developing child, and they agree to participate. While they start with things like the baby's eye color or gender, which they discuss peacefully, the doctor then starts asking for traits that the couple clearly didn't think could be changed, and that they have difficulty discussing without accidently insulting their doctor. He asks for the baby's skin tone, sexual orientation, and whether he has one leg or two. The white, straight, two-legged couple begrudgingly end up with a "gay, black, pirate baby" because they were unable to say the alternatives to their gay, black, one-legged doctor.
  • Played with a lot on The X-Files. There are many attempts to make a human/alien hybrid. Most notable was Emily, Scully's daughter, who ends up dying soon after she meets her. And though many attempts are made, nothing sticks. All the hybrids die. This becomes a problem when Scully conceives William, who is what everyone involved in the conspiracy has been after — a human alien hybrid gestated naturally. And why the hype? After realizing that their deal with the aliens has gone south and the world will be taken over by an alien virus in 2012, the good guys seek to use William to find a way to stop that from happening. The bad guys want to stop the good guys. Which equals many near-death experiences for itty bitty William.

  • "In the Year 2525" by Zager and Evans.
    In the year 6565
    Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife
    You'll pick your sons, pick your daughters too
    From the bottom of a long glass tube
  • "Betty and Me" by Jonathan Coulton features the viewpoint character looking forward to a new baby made "out of DNA" to be "better than me", with the help of Dr. Martin. It's a subversion — he only thinks this trope is what's happening; by the final verse it's clear that his wife Betty is cheating with "Dr. Martin".


    Tabletop Games 
  • In Ars Magica, A character who researches and recovers an ancient fertility magic tradition will be able to create rituals to endow unborn children with nearly any virtue or flaw.
  • In BattleTech, the "trueborn" warriors of the Clans are an entire caste of super soldiers who are created this way, descendants of the 800 loyalists who served Nicolai Kerensky after the Star League Defense Force exodus — led by his father — collapsed into anarchy. Only those who have proven themselves in battle have the honor of having their "genetic legacy" preserved in the breeding program; between this and being raised in The Spartan Way, perhaps only one trueborn in a hundred actually has any descendants (at least in the warrior caste itself), especially since they are considered to be over the hill at 35 — those over 35 are given just an outdated rifle and used as Cannon Fodder. However, the effectiveness of the program outside of their enormous "Elemental" Powered Armor soldiers is debatable, as physical strength means little in the cockpit of a BattleMech or Aerospace Fighter. In fact, their aircraft pilots are noticeably worse than their normal counterparts in the Inner Sphere.
  • Blue Planet put them on the market in 2074 with Lavender Organics's Transhuman genetic redesign. They're usualy called "Alphas": they're smarter and healthier than the human baseline, heal faster, sleep less, age slower, are immune to cancer, and are expected to never die of old age. With xenosilicate-assisted gene therapy, LavOrg can even make you one after you're born.
  • Zig-zagged in Hc Svnt Dracones, most of the population are genetically-engineered human-animal hybrids known as Vectors that were created shortly before humanity wiped itself out in a nuclear war. But they've been breeding naturally for centuries at the time of the game setting. It is possible to design a custom child that doesn't resemble any established Vector species, but it's illegal to make them any stronger or smarter or have special abilities that unaugmented Vectors lack.
  • Old Magic: The Gathering was fond of this:
    • Urza created his own Thrull race, the Metathran, as the ideal supersoldiers, using the genetics of the old Thran. A card even shows an incubator.
    • The Phyrexians themselves create beings known as newts in their pods. They too derived from the Thran, but are genderless, and their physical perfection or lack thereof is rather meaningless when their bodies are constantly enhanced by cybernetics, until they barely resemble what they were born as.
  • Paranoia, in which everyone's a clone. Six times over, in fact. Well, sort of... some times. In early editions there were clone families of six that were decanted and raised in the same environment, and treated more or less as one person. This did not make sense (not that Alpha Complex ever does), as we're left wondering where the other five are most of the time (it was occasionally addressed, but mostly just left off-camera). Later editions have it so every citizen is, theoretically, cloned when they die (except traitors that have earned an erasure), but the red tape delays it to the point of never happening, but Troubleshooters have six immediate backups because they are in highly lethal situations, but with important missions that must be completed. Higher ups tend to buy more packs of six clones when needed, and Ultraviolets are so important the Computer gives them an essentially infinite number of quick clones. This still doesn't make sense, but in a way that works.
  • Rocket Age: The Nazis are breeding perfect Aryans for their army on Mercury.
  • Transhuman Space: Nearly everyone (at least in the Fifth Wave) is at the very least "genefixed"; no genetic disorders. There are also parahumans, who range from "like humans, only better" (in theory; some of them grow up to have serious personality problems) to genetically-altered humans for different environments, such as Mars or the deep ocean.
  • Traveller: Extreme genetic engineering is uncommon. The Solomani are considered to be the masters of life sciences in the setting, having made Variant Human races for specific tasks, like the Acheron for heavy metal world mining, or the heavily modified Wuans. Others from the GURPS Humaniti splatbook include the Nexxies and Otrai. The Ancients also made a pair of genetically modified races known as the Floriani.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The God Emperor created each of the twenty Primarchs, using his own DNA, to embody a portion of himself, and deliberately eningeered them to be living demigods.
    • The Lamenters chapter of Space Marines are descended from the Blood Angels who managed to more or less eradicate the Black Rage that plagues their parent chapter thanks to genetic manipulation. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of suffering From Bad to Worse at every opportunity: getting caught in a Warp storm after a bloody siege, being branded traitors due to a misunderstanding, losing two thirds of their chapter due to said misunderstanding and sent on a crusade as penitence, running into hive fleet Kraken on said crusade...
    • The Leagues of Votann reproduce through mass cloning, using samples taken from their vast genepool to create clone templates called Cloneskeins that are specifically engineered to create whatever type of Kin the Leagues of Votann may need at any given opportunity. However not all of these Cloneskeins are strictly practical, as some are even designed for fashion or cultural indicators; these types of Cloneskeins can manifest in a multitude of ways and can vary from Kin to Kin.
    • The Tau practice this trope on a racial level: parents are preselected based their genetic qualities, mate, and then their child is sent to the education center for indoctrination. The parents take no part in raising it, but some take an interest in their progress.
    • Inverted: Most of the Dark Eldar are grown en masse in People Jars. "Trueborn" children, who are born via the natural breeding process, are a luxury afforded only to the upper class.

  • Discussed in the song "Oh, Happy Day" from the musical Li'l Abner.

    Video Games 
  • Advanced Variable Geo: For reasons unknown, Miranda Jahana is determined to create the ultimate fighting machine, so she founded Section-9 as her top-secret R&D department, where she began by experimenting on her own daughter, Reimi and also successfully created K-1 and K-2. All three were defeated by Yuka Takeuchi, who then became the focal point of Miranda's hatred. After disposing of the K units, she created the Material Twins as her revenge.
  • ANNO: Mutationem: The Consortium secretly engineered a proposition called The Gatekeeper Project that conducted experiments on seven young subjects by enhancing their dna to grant them inter-dimensional abilities that would be utilized in various methods to destroy Hinterland. The project was soon halted after an incident resulted in a facility's destruction, while the seven subjects that obtained their powers were discarded and left on their own.
  • Baldr Sky: The minor side character Mohawk is routinely noted to look almost like the spitting image of a traditional portrayal of a Native American. This is not an accident as he is revealed to have been the product of a nationalist group using genetic engineering and a very controlled upbringing to try and make him the perfect representation of the idealized Native American warrior.
  • One of the cards in Beecarbonize is this, which has medium production speed for the Science Sector and emits 1 greenhouse emission per production cycle. However, the card description points out the risks of genetic defects in future generations and the rise of social inequalities due to genetics-based discrimination. The game will even call you out if you win it while having this card on the playmat.
  • Fate/Grand Order: Mash Kyrielight, the player's first unit, is explicitly called one of these by Dr. Roman. She was one among many attempts to create a living catalyst that could summon a certain Heroic Spirit as a Demi-Servant. While her fusion succeeded, the spirit in question refused to cooperate with Chaldea under its previous director. She will also die by the time she turns 18.
  • The term has become a running joke among players of Fire Emblem: Awakening, as you can optimize the parent characters' marriages to make the future kids into Game Breakers. It turns out that in-story, the Avatar is one of these, specifically bred to be a perfect vessel for Grima.
  • Galerians: The titular Galerians are this, where the trait bred for is "able to use Psychic Powers without drug-induced assistance". It was very important to their creator, the supercomputer Dorothy, that they be designer babies — she has a literally religious belief that anything you create has to serve you.
  • An old DOS game called Gender Wars plays off this trope — in the game world, human males and females are embroiled in a literal battle of the sexes, each intent on exterminating the other. Because traditional reproduction is effectively banned, each side uses artificial means of conception and incubation to maintain their populations. The twist, of course, is that neither side possesses the means to reproduce without "help" from the other; the males routinely attack female storage facilities to steal frozen eggs, while the females do the same to male bases to get sperm samples.
  • Milluim is implied to be this in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel. In one of her bonding events in the sequel, she mentions that she has siblings, but no parents. (And a member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad shares her surname and has the same fighting style) She has difficulty even comprehending the concept of crying. She's a surprisingly effective spy despite her extreme eccentricity. Claire, who has ties to the Intelligence Division, knows more about her origins but isn't at liberty to talk about it. Said Quirky Miniboss Squad member is only able to give one hint as to their origins: "Black Workshop".
  • Mass Effect:
    • Miranda Lawson from Mass Effect 2 is one of these. She was genetically engineered to the summit of human perfection (looks, brains, social skills, biotics, etc.) by her father, using his own DNA as a template, for reasons that had as much to do with satisfying his own ego as securing an heir for his "dynasty". Unfortunately, Miranda suffers from an inferiority complex due to all her abilities being hand-tailored from birth, which causes her to feel that all of her accomplishments were made possible by her father's influence, and that the only things she can take credit for are her mistakes. It's also implied that Daddy may have put in some "Fabrication Rights Management" into Miranda, as the Shadow Broker dossier on her indicates that she is infertile. If so, he did it by a probably rather painful means: noncancerous tumors have wrecked her reproductive system. No wonder she hates him.
    • Grunt is another example, designed to be a Super-Soldier even by krogan standards. Thanks to Neural Implanting, he's "born" with the body and vocabulary of a young adult. However, much like Miranda, being an artificially created "ultimate krogan" has left him with a fair bit of angst; several conversations imply that deep down, he's simply trying to figure out what he wants out of his own life, since he is supposed to be a strong Krogan but feels nothing for the information imprinted in him by Okeer, leading him to overcompensate as a result.
    • Humanity as a whole is moving towards this. By the twenty-second century, genetic engineering has advanced to the point where the majority of genetic disorders have been cured. Governments provide free screening and genetic modification to prospective parents, and as a result everything from near-sightedness to cystic fibrosis has been cured. While IVF is the preferred method of modification, it can also be done on embryos and newborns out of respect for personal belief.
  • Metal Gear: The Patriots started the Les Enfantes Terrible project because they wanted to create perfect soldiers identical to Big Boss. They succeeded, and ended up with three individuals who sought to destroy or either control them.
  • The Sivadians in Otherspace have taken genetic modification in two directions. First, to create beautiful, intelligent, athletic offspring. Second, to create specialized slaves, designed to be the best there is at what they do to better serve their masters.
  • In Paradigm, DUPA Genetics sells these to rich parents. The titular character is a failed example.
  • Rave Heart: After the party clears Kor's Facility, Solielle reveals Klein was created through a special process that uses the DNA of ancient and powerful Ciphers. This required the scientists to inject Solielle with a life serum containing the DNA, making her pregnant with Klein. Unfortunately, this caused Klein to vibrate too much, meaning he would die of an ether overload upon birth. In order to save Klein, Solielle had to move to Kardel and stay with Robert Jancarlo because his lower vibrational frequency would prevent the ether overload.
  • Most of the main cast in Shin Megami Tensei II, created by the Archangels in a hilariously misguided attempt to fulfill their duties. Whatever the path chosen, they never get what they expect.
  • The Sims 3, in the time travel expansion pack, gives you the option to go to the hospital in the future and create one of these.
  • In Utawarerumono, it's eventually revealed that the various Little Bit Beastly races actually descend from a vast series of genetic experimentation projects that was undertaken in a hidden underground lab, apparently as part of a project to reclaim the (for some reason) uninhabitable Earth above. Their ancestors were all grown in the titular jars by the human scientists.
  • XenoGears: Ramsus was created as the epitome of humankind and as an Artificial -Contact- until he literally gets trashed as a fetus when Krelian discovers the actual -Contact- had already been born.
  • Yes, Your Grace: The Player Character, who's a middle-aged King lacking a son in a Heir Club for Men setting, can participate in a ritual meant to ensure that his youngest child, conceived during the game itself, is male. According to the book describing the ritual, it can also be used to change things like the baby's eye or hair color. Notably, if the ritual is skipped entirely or reversed, the child is a girl due to the mother being under a spell that keeps her from having sons.

  • The Far Side Of Utopia: In the story's setting of Palindra, Designer Children are exactly that; children who were genetically modified from birth (perhaps before) to have enhanced abilities. Most of these children are usually more physically fit or smarter than a regular child (though there is no guarantee of this), and some of them also have enhanced or specific magical abilities. Making a Designer Child is an expensive process, so often they are seen as a sign of wealth, status, or both, with the Families have a large population of Designer Children among their ranks. Not much about the laws regarding Designer Children except that they have to have unusual hair color and eye color as a sign that they're Designer Children.
  • Freefall: Winston Thurmad was born to well-meaning parents who were convinced that humanity was going to be living exclusively in space by the time he grew up, so they splurged on all manner of genetic modifications optimized for life in zero-G. Most of them are internal modifications to protect against various forms of atrophy and otherwise optimize him for life on a spacecraft, but he can't grow hair either.
  • Genocide Man: Most types of "genetic deviant" are made this way. Such as the Ugandan Deviants who were the result of witch doctors "blessing" pregnant mothers with a teratogenic virus.
  • Girl Genius: While it has not been confirmed it has been implied and on a couple of occasions outright stated that both Agatha and Tarvek were designed to the Other/Lucrezia's specifications before their births. The first as a future host and the second to have his mind altered to make him her loyal pet Storm King with and, judging by Lucrezia/Agatha's actions, a boy toy for the bedroom.
  • Homestuck:
    • All four kids are revealed to be these, John and Jade being made from Grandpa's and Nana's combined DNA, and Rose and Dave being made from Mom's and Bro's. According to the trolls, anyone who's destined to play Sburb is created in this manner. The only exception are the two Cherub players, likely because their species isn't supposed to play Sburb at all.
    • In the same sequence, it's revealed that the Guardians (Grandpa, Nana, Mom, and Bro) are all clones of themselves. It's not clear from what, if any, source the genetic material of the kids destined to play the game comes, but it seems to some degree to be tailored to success at Sburb.
  • My Life With Fel: The epilogue reveals the public broadcasts of Ferals sparked gene-splicing research, and the first kemonomimi has been born in China. The news network has a massive Big-Lipped Alligator Moment moment where they celebrate the fact that Catgirls Are Real.
  • Outsider: The Umiak mostly reproduce through cloning and, through a combination of genetic tailoring and mechanical implantations, artificially design their new generations to fit whatever needs arise. This has gone on so long that they've become less a single species and more a complex of specialized breeds and "models", sometimes quite different from each other, and it's not know if they even have a natural reproductive cycle anymore.
  • Schlock Mercenary: Dr. Bunnigus was a Designer Baby as the result of eugenic laws; her inbred and mentally limited parents were required to improve their child, so they gave her a genius IQ and a stripper's body. Her first name, Edward, is because the parents read "E.D." on her genetic profile (for Exotic Dancer) and thought Ed was her proposed name; wanting to show class, they went with the full name "Edward" instead. What's more, she's black (or some brownish ethnicity), and they're both white hillbillies, so apparently their many social problems did not include racism.
  • Serix: Seems to be how many new humans are made, though in regard to disposition rather than body and controlled by the government. Rees's character sheet states that her personality was designed by "civil planning algorithms" to generate consumption and economic growth.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent has a proto-example in the Dagrenning program. Set up by the Icelandic government to ensure population growth, genetic diversity and immunity to The Virus, the program consists of a number of sperm and/or ova banks which only take material from immune donors, from which anyone who wishes to concieve a child can draw freely.
  • Umlaut House 2: Word of God explanation for Rhonda, who has two biological fathers. A throwaway line by her grandmother towards the end of the first series implied that this is fairly common in their era.

    Web Originals 
  • According to, this may be possible by 2053. They even use the trope name.
  • The superiors, tweaks, splices/rianths and most nearbaselines in Orion's Arm were created through generations of germline genetic engineering. Since it's been going on for thousands of years now, it's regarded as normal and no one has any problem with it — indeed, almost no true completely unmodified baseline humans are around any more.
  • All Coalition (Ourkind) soldiers are created this way in Unlikely Eden.

    Western Animation 
  • The Batman Beyond two-parter "Curse of the Kobra" has Zander, whom the terrorist organization Kobra created in a Uterine Replicator and raised so that they could have a perfect leader.
  • Exo Squad has an interesting reversal. While humans are born naturally, the Genetically-engineered Neosapiens are artificially grown by the "brood." At the end of the series, one of the Neosapiens, Marsala, lobbies with the government to allow the creation of one final brood that's capable of natural breeding.

    Real Life 
  • Designer Calves, Designer Chicks, Designer Pullets, Designer Lambs: this trope is ubiquitous in the livestock industry.
    • And in the seed industry. Designer Corn, Designer Cotton, Designer Rapeseeds, and especially Designer Soybeans.
    • Also, there are Designer Dogs, a type of crossbred dog that includes Labradoodles (Poodle and Labrador), Puggles (Pug and Beagle), and Chiweenies (Chihuahua and Dachshund).
  • Already here for humans, in some cases — mostly to prevent horrific, fatal genetic diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis.
  • More could happen.
  • At present, this is illegal in many countries (though what may be done clandestinely is anyone's guess).
    • Anything of the sort would require a great deal of testing, which could be morally dubious as it would by its very nature be human experimentation, and the creation of human beings for experimental purposes.
    • There are also concerns about common vulnerability to disease with genetically engineered crops and people, due to their higher degree of genetic similarity to one another.
  • As of 2021 some minor genetic tweaking is possible (in laboratory embryos at least) which mostly eliminates genes responsible for rare debilitating illnesses and organ flaws. However, if genetic engineering/modification technology will progress at the same pace as computer technology did since 1980s and 1990s, in 20-30 years from now we could see some dramatic results and possibilities.
  • A low tech variant. In China and India it's popular in working class groups to simply use ultrasound to determine the baby's gender and abort it and try again if it's a female. This is because female children are not required to support their parents when they get married and stay in their husband's household, leaving people with sole daughters financially unstable later in life. Keep in mind that this is a very controversial practice and often illegal (however, it's continued given these cultural practices).
  • Chinese biophysicist Jiankui He attempted to insert gene variants associated with resistance to HIV, smallpox, and cholera into the genomes of a pair of twins in 2018. The experiment faced widespread condemnation, and He was quickly deemed an Evilutionary Biologist in scientific circles, as the technology is not yet fully understood and illegal on a global scale. Additionally, the extent to which the altered CCR5 gene sequence was actually applied or if it would actually lead to resistance is unknown. Regardless, He was sentenced to three years in prison and fined the equivalent of nearly half a million USD.

Alternative Title(s): Genetically Engineered Babies, Gattaca Baby, Gattaca Babies, Designer Baby