Follow TV Tropes


Man in the Machine

Go To
Faster than a bullet
Terrifying scream
Enraged and full of anger
He's half man and half machine
Judas Priest, "Painkiller"

In the intersection where man and machine meet, this man has been buried in a metal mausoleum.

He isn't a typical Cyborg, lamenting his dwindling humanity, nor is he a Brain in a Jar fighting the Sense Loss Sadness and despair their Loss of Identity brings. He's a normal, ordinary human encased in a mechanical body. He might be created from a person who is fatally wounded or suffering from an illness that makes it impossible for him to survive without heavy life-support machinery. This would normally doom the person to spend the rest of his life bedridden, but if those machines were to be mounted on a robotic frame, they would be able to walk around and interact with others. Their new mechanical body will effectively be a suit of Powered Armor, immensely strong and tremendously alienating since they can't live outside of it. Is it any wonder those trapped in these bodies as an Emergency Transformation become Murderous Malfunctioning Machines?

Of course, this might be the idea to begin with. A Mad Scientist may create one by sticking some poor unfortunate soul inside his battle robot to act as the pilot. The smart Mad Scientist will usually put the test subject through Brainwashing first, though, or control the suit's inputs to make the pilot see what he wants him to see. (Alternatively, he might arrange to be hooked in himself if harm should come to him rather than using another as a test subject.)

A type of Clingy Costume. Strongly related to Mobile-Suit Human and We Can Rebuild Him. Compare Wetware CPU and Dark Lord on Life Support. For situations where even the biological body at the center is mostly or entirely gone, see Full-Conversion Cyborg. Contrast to People Jars, which are typically stationary installations that involve the subject being unconscious, unwillingly restrained, or otherwise unable to express autonomy, and Meat-Sack Robot, a machine given organic parts to pass for human.

Sub-Trope of Cyborg.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Cowboy Bebop episode "Brain Scratch" has the crew tracking down a cult leader who is encouraging his followers to commit suicide. Eventually, they discover that the cult leader who they're searching for is merely a false identity. The true mastermind is a vegetative teenage hacker who uses his life-support machines to contact the outside world.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex:
    • The third episode features an advanced battle tank which the terminally ill designer convinced his friend to implant his brain into.
    • When dealing with a policeman, one of the Tachikomas pretends to be a war veteran's brain case in an Spider Tank the size of small car.
    • We see a person who has one called a Jameson-type body — in his case, it's basically a cubic braincase with stubby legs. Unlike the above, this guy was perfectly healthy in his human body; he just really wanted to be a machine. He says that his wife was really angry with him after he did that.
  • Gundam:
    • Rain Mikamura from Mobile Fighter G Gundam is used as the organic life core of the Devil/Dark Gundam, the final boss of the series. Her nude body is encased in silver and bound by the arms, entangled by mechanical Combat Tentacles that siphon her life force to power said Gundam. The Big Bad had planned this fate in the final arc.
    • Ein Dalton from Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is merged with his own mecha after a fatal injury. The treatment was to keep him alive while being able to avenge his fallen allies. The end result is what essentially can be said as the pilot himself becoming the Ace Custom. Once Ein is killed, the Vidar's autopilot is either made from Ein's brain or at least patterned after it.
  • Similarly, Chiharu Isurugi from Re Visions was about to get a biological body bound by the arms like the above, but Keisaku ends her life before she could even get out of the mechanical pod.
  • Venusis/Neo from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water. His robotic body looks human, but it is fairly obvious from his almost nonexistent expressions and the mechanical noises when he as much as moves his head how blatantly fake it is. He's dependent on a hugeass power cable protruding from his back and it is only one that we see him standing up from his throne. The contrast between that all and his very normal-sounding voice is jarring to behold.
  • The old man and his robotic bed turned humongous mecha from Roujin Z is a good example of this.
  • A variation occurs in UFO Warrior Dai Apolon, where the protagonist uses his energy powers to grow and combine with the titular Humongous Mecha.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: An interesting example is a member of the Big 5 named Nezbitt, who always wanted to be a machine instead of human and gets his wish while trapped in a virtual reality world. His back story reveals he used to build tanks and other weapons of war for Kaiba's stepfather, but when Seto took over the company, he was forced to destroy his weapon research and only build technology for games. During his duel with Joey's sister, Tristan and Duke Devlin, he addresses them as humans, and only calls himself a machine, and is always saying that machines are better than humans. This reveals he probably enjoys being a robot, but from a distance, his boss, Noah comments that he's not a real robot — just a sad little man.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Robotman from Doom Patrol. Cliff often wished that The Chief hadn't "saved" his life after his fateful car crash.
    • And while we're at it, the Golden Age Robotman in All-Star Squadron.
  • In Druuna: Morbus Gravis, it is revealed that the entire city is actually a giant spaceship fought over by a malfunctioning A.I. and its former Captain Lewis, who is nothing more than a head floating in a box that is plugged into the ship. Whenever he wants to talk with Druuna, he does assume A Form You Are Comfortable With by projecting an image of his younger, handsome self directly into her mind.
  • The three cyborg heroes of ManTech. AquaTech is the one who is the most unhappy about it.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The various incarnations of Box from Alpha Flight.
    • Deathlok the Demolisher. Of course, he has the added problem that he's stuck inside a machine that keeps telling him to do bad things, and he has to constantly tell it to shut up.
    • The Earth X universe has Iron Man wired into an entire Stark Enterprises factory, controlling various armors remotely. He's also the only remaining non-Terrigen'd human due to this particular behavior.
    • Vance Astro from the original Guardians of the Galaxy could not survive outside his life support suit.
    • The Iron Man supervillain known as the Controller was paralyzed in an explosion accidentally caused by his brother who then arranged for him to fuse an exoskeleton powered by psionic energy to himself to restore his mobility.
    • A Ms. Marvel (1977) villain, Destructor, was just a human inventor until Kree technology fused him with another of her enemies, the robotic Doomsday Man. When he's shown again years later, the Doomsday Man persona is shown to be dominate between the two for the most part.
    • The titular Rom from ROM: Spaceknight and his fellow Spaceknights.
  • A recurring character from Sonic the Comic was Shortfuse the Cybernik, a Hot-Blooded squirrel who was used in the creation of an experimental Badnik type. However, he managed to retain his free will (partly from the damage he caused to Robotnik's machines prior to his conversion, partly from sheer stubbornness), and so he rebelled against Robotnik. In one comic they showed a cross-section of Shortfuse to show that yeah, he's just a squirrel stuck in a suit with no way to take it off... or pee. He later gained a mortal rival in Vermin the Cybernik, who was as strong as Shortfuse (if not stronger), and was loyal to Robotnik.
  • Circuit Breaker from The Transformers (Marvel) is a helpless paraplegic without her exoskeleton. Granted that it's a very skimpy-looking exoskeleton and that if she were at all sane, she could just wear clothes over it and pass as mostly normal; but she is, in fact, both obsessed about her circumstances and stark raving mad, so there you go.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Echoes in the Dark has the Sentinels, which are particularly disturbing variation of Jaegers.
  • Izuku in My Iron Giant is a more light-hearted take. However, he still cannot leave the robot and it has cables and wires attached to his organs.

    Films — Animation 
  • Humans in Wall E are morbidly obese and unable to walk, so they are bound to their hoverchairs for mobility, communication, and other needs.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dr. Hephaestus from Battle Beyond the Stars. "When you're on my station, you're in my presence."
  • Alex Murphy, a.k.a. RoboCop, is almost completely mechanical. He doesn't even have a full organic head, just a case for his brain and spinal cord which his face is grafted onto. The remake's version has slightly more organic parts, but how little is graphically demonstrated (to the audience and Murphy himself) when his machine parts are taken off, leaving just a head, a plastic shell with a few organs (including lungs), and one hand.
  • Source Code: The original fate of Cptn. Colter Stevens.
  • Star Wars:
    • Darth Vader's suit is a comprehensive life-support system, and most of his limbs are cybernetic as well. When he is unmasked in the sixth movie, he dies within minutes, though he may have died anyway due to injuries sustained when killing the Emperor.
    • General Grievous in the prequels can be considered either this or a case of the man being the machine. His brain, eyes, heart, and lungs are still organic, but almost everything else consists of cyborg implants, leading many to assume he is a droid on the first encounter.

  • Dream Park: In The Moon Maze Game, one of the players is a champion gamer crippled by an illness. To allow her to play in the steampunk-themed adventure, she's equipped with a robotic life-support capsule which, in-story, was supposedly crafted by Captain Nemo.
  • Honor Harrington: Lady Emily Alexander-Harrington, Countess White Haven is so crippled that she's basically grafted to her self-propelled life-support machine. It doesn't hinder her brain functions.
  • Line of Delirium features the Meklar, a lizard-like species who almost completely mechanized themselves. Among humans, the mechanist sect attempts to become less bound by flesh in much the same way, to the extreme of willingly becoming powered armors with minimal organic components. Although cybernetics and prosthetic cyborg limbs are well-known, the A-Tan technology has greatly reduced the acceptance of cyborgs.
  • Machine Man features Dr. Charles Neumann, who spends some time in an exceptionally powerful robot body before eventually just Brain Uploading.
  • The Hitek, a dead-end branch of human evolution from Man After Man: An Anthropology of the Future, have become so crippled by hereditary ailments that they spend their entire lives sealed inside personal hospital-suite/transports. Most are so frail that they'd die if they left their carriers long enough to attempt to breed. A Hitek couple move their pods together so that they can finally feel each other's touch, but when they have sex, the woman suffers a heart attack and dies. The man realizes this but takes a shot of chemicals that numbs his emotional pain.
  • Felix Jongleur, from Otherland, is a hybrid of this trope and Brain in a Jar. His physical body is so old that it can only be kept alive in a customized life-support tank, and he spends his time online in the image of his younger self, or in the Grail Network, as the fearsome god Osiris. Technically, he could cyborg himself, and such things exist in the story, but he's more interested in online Immortality than the physical kind.
  • Ravenor: Gideon Ravenor is a man so crippled that his melted remnants are encased in a life-support/psychic enhancement antigravity box.
  • In the Revelation Space Series, the Black Box Conjoiner drives are revealed to be controlled by disembodied Conjoiner brains.
  • This trope is more or less the entire point of The Ship Who...: each of the main characters is a disabled person in a metal life support "shell" which is cybernetically installed into a Living Ship or, for less adventurous shellpeople, a space station. Eventually, technology is developed that allows the shellpeople to control human-sized robot bodies, but these are so expensive that they're an Awesome, but Impractical resort for most. However, the majority of shellpeople were converted in infancy with no memory of being "softpeople" and in fact regard regular humans with mild pity for their limitations. Anything they can't do themselves they're happy to rely on their brawns for.
    "Who wants to roll around on surface when they could have all of deep space to play in? If I want anything planetside, they can bring it to me at the spaceport."
  • Ng in Snow Crash, who had a kind of tank instead of just a mobility scooter. His rationale was that he didn't want a weak wheelchair like everyone else who had all their limbs blown off; instead, he wanted a giant car, because everything in America is drive-through! His monster vehicle even features a few docks for a mini-helicopter drone and a trio of killer cyborg dogs.
  • Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms: May be inflicted by some Clockwork Artificers, as "imprison[ing] life itself inside metal simulacrums" sounds like this trope.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5 presents a minor example in the Great Machine of Epsilon III. While placed in the machine, a person's life is sustained for thousands of years, but nothing is keeping him from leaving of his own free will, other than the need for someone else to take their place to run the Machine. Through the course of the series, Varn, DRAAL, and Commander Ivanova have spent varying periods of time in the Machine, and it was indicated that Londo would have been a strong candidate to fill the role permanently, had DRAAL not volunteered first.
  • Hybrids in Battlestar Galactica (2003) are humanoid cylons suspended in tanks of water and wired into Basestars. Sam becomes a more typical example of this trope late in the series.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Cybermen are humans who have been installed into mechanical exoskeletons, their minds altered to make them suitable to working with a cybernetic Hive Mind. The show varies on how much of the original human body is used: in some cases, there's an entire living person inside the exoskeleton; in others, just the brain is used.
    • The Controller, introduced in "Bad Wolf", is a human who was plugged into an entertainment satellite at a young age, making her a living computer to coordinate the shows being broadcast.
  • M.A.N.T.I.S. stars a roboticist who ends up paraplegic after being shot in a street robbery and builds himself a sort of exoskeleton in order to no longer be wheelchair-bound. Then at some point, he did what anyone else would in that situation: he upgraded it into a suit of Powered Armour and set himself up as a vigilante.
  • In NTSF:SD:SUV::, the NTSF office have their own precog lying in a bathtub filled with "thought goo". When they go and ask her for information, they find Alphonse in a compromising position with her.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series gives us Fleet Captain Christopher Pike in "The Menagerie", who is left in a combination wheelchair and life support system after being horrifically injured in an accident. His situation is so bad that he can only communicate by making his chair beep Once for Yes, Twice for No.
    • Star Trek: Discovery features Captain Pike in the second season, but before the accident that leaves him wheelchair-bound. There are numerous hints to remind the audience of his eventual fate and Pike witnesses it for himself due to the season's time travel plot. The show also heavily implies, based on what happened to Airiam during the second season, that Pike will up in the chair barely able to communicate because he fears the extensive cybernetic enhancement that might have restored much more of his mobility.

    Music Videos 
  • In Kim Lukas's "All I Really Want" video, Kim is put in a robotic exoskeleton after colliding with a truck on her bicycle.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Iron Kingdoms: The Trope Namer is Karchev the Terrible from WARMACHINE, who has a special rule called "the man in the machine". Karchev was a Khadoran wizard who suffered grievous wounds during a battle, resulting in paralysis of all his limbs. He was hooked up to a life-support system that was installed into a chassis of a Warjack to allow him to continue serving the Motherland in battle.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Space Marine Dreadnoughts are mortally wounded Space Marines placed inside a life-supporting sarcophagus that is then installed into a robotic body. Because dying is no reason to stop fighting. Of course, Dreadnoughts are also revered as sources of great wisdom and knowledge as the Dreadnoughts have survived thousands of years and are carefully managed with devotion. Bjorn the Fell-Handed is the oldest Space Marine alive as the Dreadnought has kept him alive since the Horus Heresy.
    • Dark Eldar Talos could be considered a twisted variation, as it's a torture device/war machine powered by the death spasms of a prisoner trapped inside.
    • The Sisters of Battle have penitent engines, though they're more like "man crucified across the front of the machine".
    • Then, of course, there is the Emperor. Unfortunately, he can't move about because his life support machine is so massive and complex that it is the size of a small country,note  and it requires thousands of psykers a day to be sacrificed to power it. Plus, the Emperor was so horrifically injured when placed in the machine that he is almost entirely incapable of any kind of functioning. The only reason that he is kept away from death is that he is necessary for intragalactic travel and communication.
    • A mix between this and People Jars presents itself with the larger Imperial Titans — "smaller" Titans such as Warhounds have their pilots (called Princeps) plugged in via sockets and wires and are free to walk around when out of battle, but the largest models (Warlords and Emperor-class) require their Princeps to be housed in gigantic jars filled with life-sustaining fluids and links to the Titan's systems. It's noted that many of these tanks have a pinkish hue due to blood and other bodily fluids seeping into the liquid.
    • For orks, the process is treated with the usual humorous relish. When a Gretchin is wired into a killa kan, its first act is often to seek revenge on some of the orks who pushed it around when it was weak flesh, much to the paternal-like pride of the mekboy who stuffed him in there. Being Gretchins though, a killa kan will flee from a fight despite the punishing firepower the mek has. If an Ork is placed in a Deff Dread (a "Death Dreadnought", so to speak) is less likely to run than a Killa Kan but much more likely to use his power to boss everyone else, including the Mekboy who put them there.
    • Chaos Dreadnoughts/Hellbrutes are similar to their loyalist counterparts, except most see it as a form of punishment; the machine deprives them of the sensation of battle as well as isolation issues. The result is that the occupant goes mad after being locked in one, often requiring his sarcophagus (the chamber that houses his body) to be removed from the dreadnought after battle, as he's just as likely to rampage through his own buddies as he is towards his enemy. Often the occupants are someone who has either failed one task too many or someone that the local warlord/warsmith wants to punish. Worse still, Hellbrutes (but not older Chaos Dreadnoughts) seem to slowly fuse with their occupants, turning them into a mishmash of machine, flesh, and daemon, not too dissimilar to an Obliterator.
    • Even the Tau have an example in the form of the Farsight Enclave's Commander Bravestorm, who relies on the life support systems in his Battlesuit to survive, having sustained otherwise fatal injuries in battle against the Imperium.
    • Roboute Guilliman as of the Gathering Storm wears the Armor of Fate. The Armor of Fate is a specialized suit of Powered Armor that also doubles as a life support system. He needs to wear it because the venom from Fulgrim's blade is still in his body. It's basically a more elegant version of a Dreadnought.

    Video Games 
  • Amusement park architect Bertrum Piedmont's fate in Bendy and the Ink Machine. In his case, the machine that he's implanted in is one of his own Bendy Land rides.
  • BioShock:
    • Big Daddies are spliced-up humans whose internal organs have been removed and grafted directly into huge, mechanized diving suits outfitted with one of several weapon loadouts. The Flawed Prototype Alpha Series Big Daddies are not grafted and can take their suits off, but in order to be big enough to fill them, they have to be spliced up so heavily that it's probably better for everyone if they kept them on.
    • BioShock Infinite has the Handymen, made by Bettermen's Autobodies as a means to help the disabled, sickly, or severely injured citizens of Columbia to be better than new. However, they are forced into hulking metal bodies that don't work very well, cause them constant pain, and prevents them from sleeping due to the constant noise. This has left them irritable at best and they fly into violent rages that make them lash out at anyone nearby. In the dimension where the Vox Populi are banded by Dewitt's death, it appears that Comstock (or the Comstock you have been chasing) forced perfectly healthy people into Handymen to bulk up his forces... and made them fall right into the Vox's hands.
  • In The Chaos Engine, the eponymous machine features its creator, Baron Fortesque, as an unwilling component.
  • Desolators from Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 are terminally ill patients placed in Mini-Mecha.
  • Cosmic Star Heroine:
    • When a Nuluupian dies, their soul gets transferred to a humanoid frame that allows them to continue their existence as a literal ghost in the machine.
    • Before the final boss fight, the party encounters brainwashed Arete, who got integrated into the Eternity's machine, and are forced to fight her. After she dies, her posthumous prerecorded message reveals that her integration allowed her to implant the Computer Virus into the Eternity's systems, weakening it enough to allow the team to finish it off.
  • Alcatraz from Crysis 2. Later on, it is revealed that all wearers of the N2 nanosuit eventually become this. Toward the end of the game, Jacob Hargeave is revealed to also be one.
  • The fourth boss of Zeebarf's flash game Disorderly is a guy in an iron lung which transforms into an armored exosuit.
  • The golems from Dragon Age: Origins, who were dwarves who were transformed into 10-foot-tall rock creatures, a process that involved having molten rock poured over them and their free will removed. Some volunteered; some didn't.
  • Fallout:
    • Not quite a human example, but Frank Horrigan in Fallout 2 is permanently welded/grafted into his life-supporting Power Armor. The Power Armor was made specifically for him as his hulking bulk made him far bigger than any Super Mutant before and increased his already massive durability.
    • Dr. Stanislaus Braun in Fallout 3, the overseer of Vault 112 and the Tranquility Lane simulation, is a withered old man that has spent the last two hundred years in a combination VR / life support pod, amusing himself by tormenting the similarly confined Vault residents.
    • Proctor Ingram from Fallout 4 was bound to her Power Armor frame after a hundred-foot fall that required the amputation of her legs.
    • Mr. House from Fallout: New Vegas. For the first half of the game, the player is left wondering how someone from the pre-War days could still be alive. When the player eventually meets him, they have the option to break into his security vault and find a massive life-support machine. Furthermore, in one of the endings, it is hinted that if the player sides with Mr. House, s/he can also receive this life-support treatment and be effectively immortal, if they desire it.
    • An And I Must Scream variant occurs with the Y-17 Trauma Harnesses, also from Fallout: New Vegas: Power Armor designed to transport injured occupants to a medical facility was poorly programmed, and with injury thresholds set too low and no home base specified, they wandered, with their lightly injured occupants dying slow deaths trapped within them.
  • Ghostrunner: It's unclear to what extent, but the Ghostrunner possesses both mechanical and biological components, as evidenced by how he bleeds when his arm is ripped off in the opening. The Architect says he was specially engineered from a single cell.
  • In Homeworld, Karan S'jet connected herself to the Mothership through a set of wires and cables within the ship's hyperspace core, effectively becoming one with it. The Bentusi are an entire race of them. They refer to their kind as "Unbound", as they've become one with their ships.
  • The Legend of Zelda CD-i Games has Militron. Defeating him will actually cause his robotic shell to fall off, revealing a scrawny old man in his boxers who then slinks away in humiliation.
  • Lighthouse: The Dark Being: Lyril, a young girl acting as Sacred Ward of the Temple of Ancient Machines, is hooked up to a rail-mounted chair and can't leave the temple, especially with her legs amputated. All she can do is give you information about her world, though even that's a challenge, considering her chair's life support is on the fritz when you find her, hindering her speech.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Tali'Zorah, one of the main party members in the series, is from a species with such debilitatingly weak immune systems that none of them can safely remove their space suits outside of clean rooms.
    • The Reaper fighter craft, the Oculus, is a Collector that has been stripped down to the nervous system, hardened to withstand the vacuum of space, and placed in the craft to act as a pilot.
  • The Master of Orion universe features the Meklar race, who have proceeded to this condition willingly.
  • Metal Gear:
    • In Metal Gear Solid, Grey Fox is this. His body is grafted surgically to his robotic exoskeleton, and he has to constantly take anti-rejection drugs or suffer extreme pain. It's artistic license on Kojima's part, though.note 
    • Even worse, Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, whose only organic parts are (most of) his head and spine.
    • In the Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance DLC story Bladewolf, there's Khamsin, who's encased in a massive war mech from the waist down.
  • Porky from Mother 3 is so old that he must spend all his time within a mechanical bed.
  • Nintendo Wars: Von Bolt, the Big Bad of Advance Wars: Dual Strike, extends his life by being hooked up to a machine fueled by the planet's energy.
  • In Outlast, one of the main antagonists is Billy, an inmate who is being used to control the mysterious "Walrider". Beneath Mount Massive, an entire complex is devoted to keeping him alive and sentient.
    "This is Billy Hope's lungs. His liver. His life support. A machine the size of a football stadium to keep one lunatic alive."
  • Stroggified Kane in Quake IV. Also, Cyber Voss and some of the other Strogg monsters.
  • Fennel from Radiant Historia is encased in a machine shaped like a giant shoe.
  • In R-Type, this is how a Wetware CPU was made. The R-9C War-Head is piloted by a biological computer made of amputated pilots linked onto the spacecrafts, the pilots are contained within a capsule known as Angel Pac. The R-9/0 Ragnarok is also speculated to have used a 23-year-old girl stuck in a biologically 14-year-old body as its biological computer, in which the military denied the speculation.
  • StarCraft:
    • Protoss Dragoons in the first StarCraft are warriors too grievously wounded to continue serving as foot soldiers and are transferred into massive robotic bodies that serve as fire support. This apparently worked so well that they are succeeded by Immortals and Stalkers in StarCraft II, for high and dark templars, respectively.
    • The Marines are mostly resocialized convicts, some of whom are permanently bolted into their powered armor.
  • The Templars, one of the most hated enemies from Strife. They are members of The Order whose bodies have decayed so much that they can't live without being hooked to the life support in their powered armors.
  • Forcefully made cyborgs come in many flavors in the System Shock games, but special mention goes to the Cyborg Midwifes in System Shock 2. These were originally female crewmembers on the UNN Von Braun, grafted into thin robotic shells that could allow these crewmembers to take care of the Many's eggs while remaining immune to their toxins. On top of that, their implants include a CPU that cuts off signals from the brain, so that these Midwifes can't do anything other than their nurturing tasks.
  • In World of Warcraft, Deathwing is a special case of this. His proximity to the Demon Soul he created with stolen power from the other four dragon aspects ruptured his body so much, that the goblins had to encase him in full-body elementium plating in order to keep him in one piece. Behind that armor is a horribly crippled, yet still cosmically powerful, draconic body that would nevertheless bleed to death and spill its organs all over the place if it wasn't for those plates.
  • The main character of Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner, Dingo, ends up in this kind of situation after the first level. Having been fatally shot by the Big Bad, his deceptive lieutenant arranges to have the necessary life-support equipment installed directly into the Jehuty, and then wires Dingo into that, effectively chaining him to the cockpit... and since she can turn off the life-support by remote control, effectively turning him into her pawn. Fortunately, she's not really a bad person, so it works out okay.

  • Freefall has the Chief of Police, a human who uses a neurally linked mobility rig after suffering debilitating injuries. Unusually for the trope, the mobility rig houses an AI of human-level intelligence, so they think of themselves as Mindlink Mates in a committed relationship.
  • In Homestuck, this sadly is the Ψiioniic's ultimate fate, having become the Helmsman. He is forced to use his psionics to move The Battleship Condescension and is being kept alive far longer than a troll of his blood color should be able to survive.

    Web Original 
  • The Detraxxi in The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids are an entire humanoid alien species who survive inside clunky robot-suits. Exactly what they look like in there is unclear.
  • The Shed 17 and Project G-1 duology has a rather grim take on this. Biofusion is a method of grafting humans and large vehicles together (it only works on machines above the size of automobiles, for some reason), and was utilized as a method to give the terminally ill a new lease on life as vehicles, usually train engines. However, it was only done properly once: a boy named Thomas Gotze, son of the man who invented the technique, who transformed him into Thomas the Tank Engine after an accident. With everyone else, the technique was performed shoddily, resulting in intense pain or death whenever their motor was fired (Gordon and Mavis were roasted to death on their first startup, and Harold the Helicopter ripped his organs out spinning up), if not outright killing them (in the case of Percy). It was also used as a method of execution by Sir Toppam Hat for whistleblowers, grafting them into railway trucks, and leaving them to get infected and rot to death. After the procedure was banned everywhere else, China used it as a punishment detail for political prisoners, and it's heavily implied that it's still used in Italy, if secretly. Biofused individuals who stayed in one place sometimes ended up growing into their environment, as happened to Smudger.

    Western Animation 
  • Danny Phantom:
    • Skulker is actually an apple-sized, tooth-shaped ghost inside a ghostly mecha the size of a tall human.
    • Technus is a ghost that fuses with technology to form a much bigger mecha. Although not quite big enough to count as a Humongous Mecha.
  • White Knight from Generator Rex plays with this. Technically, he does not need his containment suit nor his Humongous Mecha, he instead utilizes them to completely seal off himself from the rest of the world, and thus the Nanites which infect all living things. Besides of course himself. This has made him become quite paranoid, due to the random creation of Evos from Nanite-infected life being the main issue in his universe (and main plot of the show). The possibility of a normal, mundane businessman turning, at any moment, into a giant, rampaging cancer-cyclops has led him to believe that he can only trust himself because he is the last "clean" being alive.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot: At the end of "Ear No Evil", The Lancer is revealed to be a robot suit controlled by an elf with really big ears.
  • Silas of Transformers: Prime eventually becomes heavily injured and permanently placed in the salvaged body of the Cybertronian Breakdown. He seems thrilled with his new life and attempts to ally with the Decepticons, who have little patience, seeing him as a worthless human Desecrating the Dead. After Silas fails his first mission, Knock-Out (Breakdown's close friend and likely romantic partner) uses him as a test subject, turning the mechanical parts into a zombie-like creature and making Silas thankful to be killed.

    Real Life 
  • An iron lung is a machine that enables a person to breathe when the muscle control of the lungs is lost. Simply put, it's a steel cylinder with a person fully inside, except the head, that keeps the person alive. For obvious reasons, they've largely been replaced with less obstructive face-mounted ventilators.


Video Example(s):



Unable to control the immense bursts of energy his body now expels the once carefree playboy can only continue to live as Man-Bot!

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / ManInTheMachine

Media sources: