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Machine Monotone

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Machines that speak have been a common element in Speculative Fiction almost since the beginning of the genre. Usually, such voices have been portrayed as either an electronic monotone, or as an endlessly calm human voice that, while certainly warmer than the electronic buzz of the synthesizer, is unsettling to listen to because of a lack of basic emotional content. This is because, for the most part, machines are incapable of actually feeling emotions.

When delivered in a flat monotone voice (that is usually free of contractions or slang), even Spock Speak can take on creepy undertones.

This is especially evident when an artificial intelligence goes nuts. Despite going crazy and deciding to to Kill All Humans or simply to take over and rule us for our own good, all the threats and casually vicious comments the machine makes are made in the same level, calm mode of talking, making them that much more creepy.

A subtrope of Creepy Monotone. Also a justification if the voice comes off as creepy.

This can be an aspect of the Uncanny Valley.

Compare Synthetic Voice Actor and Computer Voice. Contrast Electronic Speech Impediment, where the lack of a Machine Monotone is a cause for concern.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Father Tres Equis from Trinity Blood, except he's a cold killer android. He's still the kind of guy who proposes killing a small child for simplicity's sake, and lacks emotions of any kind. Probably one of the only example who actually acts as unemotional as a walking computer would. A few minor events suggest that Tres does some of this intentionally; he's certainly not as emotionless as people think.

    Asian Animation 
  • Bread Barbershop: The eponymous automaton in "Robot Wilk" speaks in a monotone.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • In Double Agent Vader, Kadee the medic drone speaks in an emotionless monotone, because her builders never thought to give her anything else. Anakin offers to give her a better vocoder after he liberates her, but she decides that as long as she's staying under cover as an ordinary droid she'll stick with the monotone to reduce the chances of attracting suspicion. It's noted that she gets pretty good at being a Deadpan Snarker.
  • In The Witch of the Everfree, Sunset enchants her journal to recite any messages Twilight writes to it, but she doesn't know sufficiently advanced illusion magic to get an actual voice link going, so instead it recites the text in her own voice with a completely deadpan tone.
    • She updates it to use Twilight's voice after they meet in person, but never gets around to fixing the tone.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, K.E.L.E.X. speaks in flat, electronic monotone that is conveyed through all-caps and a complete lack of contractions, which don't exist in Kryptonese.

    Film — Animated 
  • The computer from The Brave Little Toaster.
  • The voice that all of Syndrome's machines use in The Incredibles, at one point serving as the "automated captain" for the plane Mr. Incredible takes on his second mission.
  • Auto the autopilot from WALL•E, itself an Expy of HAL-9000.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • HAL 9000 of 2001: A Space Odyssey always talks in a near-monotone with just enough inflection to put it in the Uncanny Valley. Towards the end of the movie, when Dave is essentially lobotomizing him, HAL goes from trying to reason with Dave to pleading for his life, stopping only when he reverted to factory settings and began singing a rendition of "Daisy." All in the same calm, polite voice.
    Dave: Open the pod bay doors, Hal.
    HAL 9000: I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.
  • The Billion Dollar Brain speaks down phone lines to the various protagonists in a monotone with every word punctuated.
    Brain: Is-that-Palmer-private-detective-of-London-speaking-Conform?
  • Terminator films:
    • The Terminator: The Terminator always speaks like this, even when mimicking someone else's voice.
    • Terminator 2: Judgment Day: It is revealed that the longer the T-800 spends in contact with humans, the more human he will come to act. But he still speaks in a flat monotone. The T-1000, on the other hand, is shown to be able to mimic vocal inflection, it just doesn't do it unless it's necessary.
  • The agents from The Matrix all talk like this, even while in the midst of a gunfight.
  • The Ilia-probe from Star Trek: The Motion Picture spoke like this.
  • The battle droids from The Phantom Menace.
  • Proteus IV in Demon Seed, provided by an uncredited Robert Vaughn.
  • VIKI from I, Robot, in contrast to Sonny's speech, which is between this and a genuine emotional voice.
  • ARIA in Eagle Eye.
  • "Max", from Flight of the Navigator. At least, until it downloaded information from David's brain and accidentally took in some of his personality and started to sound like a sci-fi Pee-Wee Herman...
  • EDI, the rogue plane of Stealth, is particularly cruel when says "Goodbye, Henry" to Jamie Foxx, one second before jamming him and his plane against a cliff.
  • The titular Master Computer from the 1970s film Colossus: The Forbin Project:
  • The WOPR supercomputer ("Joshua") from WarGames. Somewhat justified, because WOPR isn't really "talking", it's simply printing text which is run though a fairly simple text-to-speech synthesizer on the protagonist's home computer. The voice was provided by Falken's actor John Wood, who recorded his dialogue word-for-word in reverse to give it a flat affect, e.g. "Shall we play a game?" was recorded as "game? a... play... we... Shall"
  • GERTY from Moon isn't monotone, but speaks in a rigidly pleasant and soothing tone.
  • The calm monotone of David from Prometheus just serves to make his semi-sarcastic one-liners all the more cutting.
  • Vision and Ultron from Avengers: Age of Ultron both subvert this, in different ways. As opposed to his comic book monotone, Vision in the film features the mellifluous British tones of the Jarvis A.I., as voiced by Paul Bettany. Ultron's voice has a synthesized-sounding buzz and metallic undertones, but he has a full range of tone and inflection underneath that buzz and distortion.
  • In Hot Bot, the Hot Bots speak in a monotone with stiff speech patterns as well as a clearly synthetic voice. Bardot's voice become more human as she breaks free from her programming and develops her own personality.
  • In Dark Star, the female computer's sexy but creepily monotone voice during emergency situations.

  • AM, the genocidal supercomputer in Harlan Ellison's short story "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream", is explicitly described as being very polite when it delivers this charming message to its captive humans:
  • The Toralii in Lacuna are physically unable to speak English and vice versa, so when they want to talk to the Humans they use a translator program that sounds like this.
  • HEX, the University thinking machine in the Discworld, ++talks like this++And his speeches follow this orthographic convention++This is based on early computer print-outs to indicate that he is printing his responses, rather than speaking them++However, when HEX gets an actual voice, he still uses (++) as punctuation to indicate a full stop++
  • In The Trilisk Ruins, Shiny's species doesn't naturally use sound to communicate, and his first successful attempt to communicate with humans involves making one of his personal drones vibrate against the deck to produce sound waves. When he figures out how to talk directly via Brain/Computer Interface, the link conveys his words a deep suave voice, but Telisa eventually tells him that she just can't associate the new voice with him and asks him to simulate the old buzzing drone-voice instead.
  • "An End Of Spinach", by Stan Dyer, has two kids talking with a machine. The text of the computer is displayed (on the main screen) and spoken aloud, using Caps Lock to indicate an emotionless voice.
  • Isaac Asimov:
    • "Catch That Rabbit":
      • The DV-5 model robot is designed with an "excellent" diaphragm that allows him to use a wider range of inflections and tones. This is in contrast to earlier models who speak with "metallic flatness".
      • The subsidiary units to DV-5 are not given the same diaphragm and programming for inflection. When Powell and Donovan interview a "finger", its answers are given by rote, without enthusiasm or interest.
    • "Reason": QT-1 has "the cold timbre inseparable from a metallic diaphragm". His laughter has zero inflection, and is as monotone as a metronome. However, his voice displays multiple levels of inflection, growing angry or compassionate, depending on the situation.
  • The Quest for Saint Aquin, a 1951 short story by Anthony Boucher. For his quest the priest is riding an artificially-intelligent robass that talks like this, to the exasperation of its rider as the lack of inflection gives the robass a default Sarcasm Mode and during one long monologue threatens to put the priest to sleep.
    Somewhere in the recess of his somnolent mind Thomas uttered the names, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” Gradually through these recesses began to filter a realization that an absolutely uninflected monotone is admirably adapted to hypnotic purposes.
  • Shellpeople in The Ship Who... are stunted humans on life support and unable to open their mouths or breathe normally. They use their throats and diaphragms while speaking but speech is mediated by use of speakers. Young shellpeople tend to speak in a pleasant monotone, and are more likely to pretend to be machines (and they are installed like AI cores into larger systems). Given time around "softshells" or regular humans, they pick up more human modes of speech, and some even take courses ahead of time to learn to convey emotion with their voices alone. A stressed and multitasking Simeon, in The City Who Fought, temporarily speaks more robotically than usual as he can't dedicate as much attention to seeming personable at the moment.

    Live Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the episode "The Robots of Death", the eponymous robots speak with no inflection. More often than not, all the robots and computers tend to do this.
    • The modern Cybermen, not including their original incarnations from The '60s, speak in a constant and unchanging monotone. That's the least freaky thing about them.
    • The Daleks avert this. There are some instances where they talk in a monotone voice, but most of the time they simply shout in xenophobic rage. "EXTERMINATE!"
  • In Gene Roddenberry's failed pilot Questor, the titular android (played by Robert Foxworth) spoke like this.
  • Cameron, from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, uses a Machine Monotone in general. The absence of the Machine Monotone we're used to is what made the scene where she recites, not only word for word but inflection for inflection, a "classmate's" emotional bathroom rant for the principal creepy.
    • Similarly, in the second season premiere, the steady shift from Cameron's Creepy Monotone to her desperate, terrified pleas to John to a screaming declaration that she loves him while he's trying to take out her chip makes for a chillingly awesome scene.
    • And in the episode "Allison from Palmdale", the use of the Creepy Monotone and its absence makes an already chilling episode that much creepier.
  • The Bionic Woman (1970s) episode "Doomsday is Tomorrow". The HAL 9000 ALEX 7000 computer that's trying to kill Jaime has a voice like this.
  • Star Trek:
    • The androids in the episode "Mudd's Planet" all spoke in a constant monotone.
    • In the episode "The Changeling", a mind meld with the titular probe goes wrong, sending Spock into this mode (fortunately, only temporary).
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has had at least two monotone androids:
    • The first was the android "Ted". He keeps it up even with half his face missing during his fight with Buffy.
    • The other was April, an android created by Warren Meers in a fifth-season episode. Xander and Anya even remark that her strangely even and polite monotone, while odd, is a turn on to some guys. Considering her original purpose in being built it was probably intentional.
    • The Buffybot has an even "Creepy Perkiness" manner of speaking.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • Although they don't exactly sound like it, the Borg Collective technically speaks in a monotone, albeit a loud, reverberating one. Certainly, their insistence that everything you throw at them is "irrelevant" fits this trope to a T - and they have the ability to back it up. Locutus' speech patterns sound closer to a traditional Creepy Monotone, but he slipped some inflection in there amid the creepy disjointedness. The Borg Queen threw the whole idea out the window.
    • Locutus (a hybrid of types 2 and 3) was specifically intended by the Borg to facilitate "relations" between themselves and the bothersome humans who kept resisting. His inflected speech and referring to Riker as "number one" were poor attempts to put the humans at ease, most likely. Of course, this was even more horrible than if he'd spoken like the other brain-dead, soulless drones.
    • The main computer of the Enterprise-D is less obviously mechanical-sounding than on the original series, but is still a very brisk, businesslike tone.
    • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Living Witness", an alien historical holo-sim depicts Voyager's doctor as an emotionless killer android with a Creepy Monotone. They had no idea that he's actually a hologram, a Large Ham, and a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Vicki on Small Wonder is a comedic example, though she also did natural intonations from time to time.
  • Marvin the Paranoid Android, in the Live Action TV adaptation of the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series talks in such way.


  • Pin*Bot delivers all of his lines in a robotic monotone.
    • Played with in The Machine: Bride of Pin*Bot; while Pin*Bot himself still has his robotic monotone voice, the Bride speaks with a clear human voice.
    • This scenario is repeated in the third game in the series, Jack*Bot.
  • The titular character from Black Knight speaks like this.
  • Unintentionally done in Eight Ball Champ, as the voice clips that were meant to sound human ended up like this instead.
  • Played with in Twilight Zone; during the game, a robot warns, "Don't touch the door!" At the start of multiball, the same quote plays, getting higher and higher pitched every time.
  • Gorgar combines this with You No Take Candle.
  • Mission Control in Flight 2000 talks like this.
  • The voice in Black Hole also speaks like this.
  • Done in Bally's Centaur, usually to taunt the player.
    Centaur: "Bad move, human."
  • Used by the Devil in Devil's Dare to give game directions.
  • One of the voices for Mission Control in 3-D Ultra Pinball is a female monotone.
  • Used in Firepower, Williams' second game with speech.
  • Spectrum combines this with Vocal Dissonance, giving the female "Computor" a distinctly masculine voice.
  • The Killer Robot of Robot speaks in a distinctively digital monotonic voice.
  • Embryon speaks in a clinically monotonic male voice.

    Puppet Shows 

  • Stories on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me involving robots (robots being "laid off" in Japan, a robot taught to pair socks, etc.) often invoke this trope at some point, usually with host Peter Sagal or one of the panelists giving a monotone "What is love?" or the like. Brian Babylon once chided Peter for this, suggesting that it was no longer politically correct to make robot voices sound that way.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Paranoia rulebook advises the GM to use such a voice for The Computer (among a few other creepy options). Most of the time, The Computer is very polite - even when he's ordering a Troubleshooter to visit the nearest suicide booth or charge the Mutant Commie Traitor barricade armed only with a can of Bouncy Bubble Beverage. To be fair, in that last case, you aren't completely unarmed.
  • Some members of the Adeptus Mechanicus are given this trait in Warhammer 40,000, due to their all-encompassing cybernetics. (And at the other extreme you get the ones in Dawn of War, who are Large Hams.) Necrons are even less emotive...those who can speak, anyway.

    Video Games 
  • GLaDOS in Portal is an unfeeling and sadistic A.I. who frequently speaks with a monotonous and emotionless voice as she subjects the protagonist Chell to increasingly more dangerous situations; her pitch also changes regularly, as every syllable is spoken inhumanly flat and detached, not flowing into one another. This is because her speech patterns were done by running the character's lines through a text To Speech software, then having the voice actress model her delivery on that (with a dash of emotion for flavor) to replicate the unnaturalness in the inflection of artificial voices. This changes as the narrative progresses and GLaDOS becomes more disjointed, and when Chell destroys her morality core, her previously clinical, robotic monotone shifts to a more organic (some might even say sultry) monotone.
    "Good news. I figured out what that thing you just incinerated did. It was a morality core they installed after I flooded the Enrichment Center with a deadly neurotoxin to make me stop flooding the Enrichment Center with a deadly neurotoxin. So get comfortable while I warm up the neurotoxin emitters..."
    • Downplayed in Portal 2 during her Villainous Breakdown just before the core transfer takes place. For the rest of the game, she alternates between her "normal" monotone and actually showing some emotion; it's actually pretty amusing hearing GLaDOS freak out during the Aperture Science bits.
  • The Combine Overwatch from Half-Life 2 is another example; "she" may be an AI, although it is more likely she is just the alien equivalent of a tech support answering machine.
    • She ends up sounding more like GLaDOS for HL2 Episode Two because they share the same voice actress.
    • Doubly creepy because the Overwatch Dispatcher refers to Overwatch assets and objectives with mostly medically-inspired jargon: turrets are "sterilizers", soldiers are "protection teams", and the order to isolate and kill intruders is "Clamp. Expunge. Sterilize."
    • Half-Life has a similar PA system in Black Mesa (usually given the name VOX to distinguish it from the PA system heard during the tram ride). It was probably meant to be a text-to-speech system, but probably due to technical reasons, the game splices together a dictionary of pre-recorded words, similar to how Operation Flashpoint worked.
  • System Shock completely averts the trope with SHODAN, who is scarily passionate for an AI at times, especially when something doesn't work out like it should — or when it does.
    • XERXES in part 2 plays it straight, however. Turns into Creepy Monotone once he starts spouting stuff like "Glory to the flesh. Glory to the Many."
    • The generic computer voice in the first game also plays it straight, sounding like a standard text-to-speech system throughout the entire game, regardless of anything SHODAN is doing.
  • Deus Ex uses this trope to its full extent, partly because it used so many famous examples as inspiration, such as SHODAN, HAL, Agent Smith and Project 2501.
    Icarus: (calmly) Your systems were very cooperative. Upload complete.
    • Daedalus speaks in a monotone because he uses a voice-filter to avoid anyone detecting that he is, in fact, an AI and not just a rather well written interactive operating system. Icarus doesn't speak in a monotone, but every single sentence is pure hate run through a voice synthesizer, and includes such gems as the above while presumably installing a rootkit your brain. Helios uses the the more HAL-esque flat voice, coupled with irregular voice patterns.
  • KOS-MOS in Xenosaga speaks monotone, although her evil counterpart TELOS speaks normally in Xenosaga III.
  • In Persona 3, when SEES first comes across Aigis, she speaks in a very dull monotone. Throughout the game, though, as she learns more about what it means to be a human being, she gradually starts to speak more fluidly and naturally: by the time she re-appears in Persona 4: Arena, her speech, while still slightly stilted, sounds very human-like. Her "sister unit", Labrys, averts this trope completely, speaking very fluidly (albeit with a thick Kansai/Brooklyn accent).
  • Halo 3: "This is UNSC AI Serial Number CTN-4169. I am a monument to all your sins." This shows just how badly Cortana is being Mind Raped by the Gravemind.
  • HK-50/47 from both Knights of the Old Republic games. "Mocking Query: Coorta? Coorta? Are you dead yet?"
    • Actually, only the prefixes seemed to be delivered in monotone. The rest was no different from any other speaking droid in Star Wars, especially HK-47's clearly audible annoyance at not being allowed to shoot everything in sight and having to use that disgusting word "master".
  • Played with in the Mass Effect series with the synthetic characters.
    • Legion in Mass Effect 2 is probably the straightest example, and even then it is subverted on several occasions as the character shows some very organic-like quirks and attachments, and its voice reflects that.
    • The voice of Sovereign in the first game is also somewhat monotone, but it's not a "flat", emotionless monotone, but a menacing one. The Reaper destroyer in Mass Effect 3 also speaks with a similar tone.
    • Averted with other synthetic characters, most notably EDI, who can be playful, humorous, or even caring (though still with a little touch of deadpan), and Harbinger, who is a Large Ham.
  • BlazBlue's Robot Girl Nu-13 speaks in a creepy monotone, except around Ragna. In Noel's ending Noel loses her identity and begins speaking in the same monotone.
  • Brawl Stars:
    • Rico is the only robot character to talk like this, which belies the fact that he, like most robots in the game, has a personality. Even his laugh is a monotone "ha ha ha" with little emotion. He humorously has to say his feelings out loud for them to come across.
    • Sprout is technically just a sentient plant operating a Mini-Mecha, but it can only communicate via the machine's voice synthesizer, which comes out as monotone Robo Speak and ironically seems to have less personality than most of the game's actual robots.
  • The voice on the intercom in the second and third Penumbra games sounds like this. At first, it seems like a typical automated announcement device, but by the third game, it turns out to have an awareness and personality. However, the usual characterization is subverted—it's not evil, and judging by its words it can feel horror and loneliness. And its emotional quotes may not be real in the first place, given when you start hearing it speak as such.
  • Megaman Juno in Mega Man Legends speaks in a very polite, almost whispering voice about wiping out an entire civilization with a satellite strike. It's also worth noting that he initiates these cataclysmic events with a warm and friendly smile on his face.
  • The arcade game Berzerk may be the Ur-Example in video games. Not technically a monotone since there were at least two distinct pitches, though each line only used one of the two. The clearest example was after the player died:
    Lower pitch: Got the humanoid
    Higher pitch: Got the intruder
  • In Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, findings voids in the Animus' software will drop you into a set of puzzles narrated by an emotionless female voice...which becomes extra creepy when the voice begins to speak as though it's lost and alone, wandering through endless darkness. This is because Subject 16 can only speak in a machine voice once he's uploaded himself into the Animus (until he loads his real one).
  • Homeworld has Fleet Command. Even when their entire homeworld is annihilated, half-human, half-machine Fleet Command still maintains her composed speech.
    • Although the slight inflection of surprise in her voice when the first attackers arrive is obviously intended to show that there's still a person behind the voice.
  • If you equip the Soldier with the Tin Soldier set (a cardboard box mask, shoes, and pair of ventilation pipes) during certain times of the year in Team Fortress 2, all of his combat voices will be replaced with robot-themed voices delivered in this fashion.
  • Monita, The Host of Nintendo Land, speaks like this.
  • Out of all the robots in Primordia (2012), only Scraper talks like this.
  • Midway's Gorf and Wizard of Wor are two other early "talking" video games, which also have a machine monotone (in fact, they both feature the exact same one).
  • XCOM: Enemy Within: The MEC troopers are soldiers who sacrificed their limbs for Meld-powered ones, so they can safely pilot giant suits of power armor in combat. While the in-game descriptions state that the MEC troopers have amputated their limbs, their Creepy Monotone voices and strangely formal speech patterns make you wonder if they sacrificed more than just their arms and legs.
  • The robots in the Fallout series, especially the Sentry Bots.
  • Learning Voyage: Sand Trapped! has a game called "Robomatic". You solve math problems to add pieces to a robot. Each randomly determined feature is read aloud by a computer that talks like this. Also, one of the features you can get is "Monotone Vocal Affectation".
  • The Turing Test: In the ending where TOM allows Ava and Sarah to disconnect it, TOM keeps its usual calm tone even while saying it's afraid to die.
  • Starbound: Although the game lacks voice acting, it's implied that the Glitch prefix their sentences with emotional descriptors because they can't vocalize them properly. Additionally, the Glitch aren't aware that they do this, as revealed when Hiraki Corale tried to emulate it without success. Evidently, to both a Glitch speaker and any Glitch listeners, the prefix is filtered out and they perceive the sentence as though spoken with the full emotional content.
  • Monodam of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, the only Monokub who is outwardly robotic in appearance, TALKS-LIKE-THIS. Well, once he finally opens up, anyway.
  • Vega, the artificial intelligence in charge of the UAC's Mars Base in Doom (2016), always speaks in a calm, monotone voice with little inflection, even when instructing the Doom Slayer on how to destroy it at the end of the end of the game. Samuel Hayden - a former human who had part of his brain implanted into a robot body is a more downplayed example. While he does inflect, and the player can even hear his barely-restrained frustration towards the Doom Slayer on occasion, he never raises his voice and remains composed throughout.
  • Thief II: The Metal Age: The Children of Karras, his mechanical cohorts, will perform their duties while muttering pre-recorded litanies of prayers to their 'father' in a creepy machine monotone.
  • Shale Hill Secrets: The protagonist uses a text-to-speech app due to having lost his voice in high school, with several characters noting the monotone nature makes it hard to gauge his emotions.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Pluto the Tormentor, to the point that it sounds like it's been voiced by a Text To Speech software. Hilariously, once you defeat it, its Machine Monotone is replaced by what sounds halfway between a malfunctioning sound card and dubstep (with a bit of Youtube Poop too).
    Pluto: I AM... A TOOL OF THE LORD... DES TROYING... ME-E-E-E-E-E... IS... BLASPHEMY... DiIiIE... DiiIiIiIieEe... DDDddDdDiIiIIeEe...
  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle has a very funny spin on this with Dr. Letz Shake, the brain of a previously-unfought assassin from the previous game rebuilt into a Spider Tank that speaks in a form of this. When speaking, he keeps his elocution level and stoic while he verbally expresses his mood, intonation, and punctuation aloud, creating a rather weird dissonance given his voice is still oozing with gravitas.

    Web Original 
  • This is a combination of this trope and A.I. Is a Crapshoot.
  • In Worm, the supervillain Bakuda has a gas mask that does this to her voice.
  • Dragon Ball Abridged gives Killer Robot Android 19 one of these by having a computer text-to-speech program voice him.
  • Eudocia from Brennus speaks like this. However, Polymnia manages to avert it despite using a voice synthesizer — she custom-built her own, using her enhanced knowledge of sonics to make it sound very close to a real human voice.
  • Charlie the tutorial NPC from Sword Art Online Abridged falls into this when telling a player how long they're been playing before returning to his normal voice.
  • One-Note Song features R.O.B. determining to sing a song despite his voice falling firmly under this trope. Said song is in fact about how he can only sing one note, but can still manage to make the song sound dynamic by focusing on rhythmic beats in place of note changes. His effort successfully impresses the initially skeptical Mr. Game & Watch, who joins in the second half to provide background harmony.
    Any other pitch
    Would make me glitch
    My programming says to stay on F.
    My specs and stats
    Ignore sharps and flats
    And I never change keys or clefs.
    Some other bots are programmed in the key of C#
    Their tonality won't make them crash.
    With vibrato they arpeggiate
    And easily recalibrate
    Yet they are not fighters in Smash.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in Futurama where a HAL 9000-like spaceship talks like HAL at first until they change the voice to a cheerful girl's voice. It's still creepy when he/she/it becomes obsessed with Bender.
    • Another episode features a rather fearsome robot nanny that shouts in a seemingly angry monotone, "Sleep, little dumpling! I have replaced your mother!" Leela says, "Aww!"
  • Toonami: TOM, the host, speaks this way during the block's run on Kids' WB!.
  • Transformers:
    • Series: The Transformers. Example: Soundwave. Behavior: Always uses monotone. HAL 9000 voice synthesizer: Comparatively flexible. Outcome: Enduring fame and popularity.
    • Omega Supreme talks like this because he was attacked by a Mirror Morality Machine long ago. He was able to break free before it had finished reprogramming him, but it left him nearly emotionless. He can talk "like a normal Autobot," but it seems to take some effort. Prime expresses the hope that Omega may eventually recover his ability to feel, and Omega answers, "Possibility: growing."
    • Subverted by Deceptitran (in the episode "Sea Change"), a Decepticon computer that is expressly proven to be nonsentient, but whose voice sounds like it's on the verge of hysteria.
    • The Decepticon Shockwave is described as an evil version of Mr. Spock, though that mostly refers to the comic-book version, who is every bit as fond of the word 'logic' as the Vulcans. However, he does speak in a very emotionless manner, with a bit of rasp as well. The Animated version talks the same way, and has the same actor, but in his disguise as Longarm, he talks much more normally and even has a different accent.
    • The Autobots' computers Teletraan-1 and Teletraan-2 both have fairly inflectionless voices, although 1 always sounds like it's boldly announcing something, and 2 has a more soothing HAL-type voice.
    • Beast Wars: None of the Transformers themselves, but their internal computers (which vocally communicate diagnostic data or warnings of significant damage), as well as the security systems of both factions' bases, communicate in emotionless monotones.
    • Transformers: Animated:
      • Animated Soundwave speaks in complete sentences, which differentiates him from the original. His inflection remains flat and heavily synthesized. His sentences are clipped and precise. His voice remains a tinny monotone under all circumstances. He is Soundwave.
      • Animated Perceptor, who according to Word of God supposedly removed his personality to have more room for information storage. And he's one of the good guys. In fact, his synthesized voice is basically the same as Stephen Hawking.
  • The DC Animated Universe version of Brainiac, being an AI, is portrayed quite like HAL. He's voiced by Corey Burton, who also voices both versions of Shockwave.
  • Ultron from The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes does this. As arrogant and psychotic as a machine he can get, his voice never really changes.
  • The computer whom the Blockheads consult numerous times in the first movie of Gumby. Midway, it starts changing tones for no apparent reason.
  • In The Bots Master, all of the RM Corp's bots talk this way, thanks to the "Dr. Spaitso" program created by Creative Labs. (The company best known for its "Sound Blaster" line of PC sound cards.)
  • Double Subverted in one episode of Johnny Test. Susan and Mary fit Dukey with a brainwashing collar that sways his will much more towards their whims than his own or Johnny's without taking it away completely. However, when he persists in desiring to sleep in their room rather than Johnny's, they fire an "Obey" override that forces their will over his, signified by... well, this trope.
  • Subverted in an episode of The Amazing World of Gumball, when Gumball calls technical support because he accidentally commanded Bobert to terminate him and ignore any new orders. He is immediately greeted by a monotonous voice that is assumed to be a machine. However, Gumball was wrong and he was indeed speaking with a real person:
    Tech Support: No need to be rude, sir. If you did this job all day, you too would end up talking like a machine.
    • Bobert himself, on the other hand, plays this trope entirely straight.

    Real Life 
  • Watson, IBM's Jeopardy playing computer, sounded like this.
  • Who could forget Microsoft Sam?
  • Stephen Hawking. His synthesiser was actually quite antiquated (over thirty years old by the time of his death), yet he continued using it because the synthesiser's monotone was so universally associated with him and was, in effect, his actual voice as far as most everyone was concerned.
  • The hacktivist group Anonymous use voice synthesizers to hide their identities.
  • The iOS voice-command assistant Siri averts this, and can convey emotion in its voice. It's most notable when you say something that causes Siri to sass you, such as swearing at it. Or asking her to Divide by Zero.
  • The Google Translator in some languages.


Video Example(s):



Like HADES, it was probably never intended to actually talk to people, and takes even less direct notice of them.

How well does it match the trope?

4.57 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / MachineMonotone

Media sources: