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Mourning a Dead Robot

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"That'll do Milkly. That'll do."

"It says a great deal about the mind of Commander Data that, looking at the human race with all its violence and corruption and willful ignorance, he could still see kindness, immense curiosity, and the greatness of spirit. And he wanted, more than anything else, to be part of that. To be a part of... the human family."
Jean-Luc Picard's eulogy to Data, Star Trek: Picard

Webster's Dictionary defines a robot as "a machine resembling a human being and able to replicate certain human movements and functions automatically". In real life, most robots are treated more like appliances, and when they break or become obsolete, they are discarded in favor of upgraded tech. Any tears wept over the loss of a robot IRL would typically be seen as weird and unsettling.

In fiction however, robots, regardless of the level of sapience, are treated differently. In fiction, a robot can die, whether by physical destruction, memory wipe, or any other means, and depending on the relationship they had with the other characters, their death may be viewed as comparable to losing a coworker, a friend, or a family member. In short, a robot can be humanized when it dies, and as a result it is mourned. Whether tears are shed or a funeral/eulogy occurs, the point stands that the robot is treated as an equal and given the same level of dignity and compassion that their organic counterparts would receive if they died.

This trope isn't reserved for just robots, it can also include AI's or even video game avatars.

In some instances, there are disparate reactions to the robot's death. While some may grieve and humanize the robot, others may express confusion or disdain as to why those who are mourning are grieving a hunk of metal.

A Ridiculously Human Robot will most likely get this kind of reaction from others if they die: although a robot may well be mourned even if it does not fall into that category. What matters is the relationship that the people have formed with the robot.

Some instances of this trope also have the robot come back to life, potentially leading to Tears of Joy.

Overlaps with Robosexuals Are Creeps if there was a romantic/sexual relationship between a human and a robot and the other characters are creeped out by it, and with Tragic Robot if the robot is a sympathetic character. Compare Mourning an Object, which involves characters mourning an inanimate object. Contrast Just a Machine and What Measure Is a Non-Human?.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Asian Animation 

    Fan Works 
  • A fanmade audiodrama of Warhammer 40,000 by Baldermort, Blood Angels (Story So Far), has, at a very early point, a Space Marine bursting into tears at the sight of his ruined Land Raider, an Awesome Personnel Carrier with a fully sapient Machine-Spirit. He reminisces fondly about how "she" didn't like him at first, and wouldn't even let him in until he'd won a battle, but over time they'd become firm friends. So deep is his grief at the Land Raider's destruction he even futilely tries to hold her body (keep in mind, that this is a tank many times his size).

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man:
  • Wolverine: In an issue of Wolverine (1988), Wolverine and Jubilee are confronting a group of Sentinels. They have achieved sentience. One Sentinel, severely damaged, begins to express a sincere fear over the termination of its existence. Jubilee is moved by the robot's fear of death. Another Sentinel, dubbing itself Unit 3.14159, is puzzled by Jubilee's display of empathy, and rather than continue with its plan to spark a solar flare to roast all life on Earth, it decides that it, and its compatriots, will enter a dormant state while they consider the nature of empathy.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Avengers: Infinity War , it's revealed that Wanda and the Vision are in a relationship. Sadly, Vision gets brutally destroyed twice, first by a reluctant Wanda as part of a Heroic Sacrifice to stop Thanos from getting the Mind Stone embedded in Vision's forehead and then by Thanos after using the Time Stone to undo Vision's first death, and by the time Avengers: Endgame happens, Wanda's absolutely vengeful towards Thanos.
  • The Black Hole has B.O.B (BiO-sanitation Batallion LF-28) performing a Heroic Sacrifice near the end to help his human allies, and the film's other major robot protagonist V.I.N.CENT. (Vital Information Necessary CENTralized LF-396) escape the Cygnus. With V.I.N.CENT having an emotional farewell as B.O.B shuts down. Also, earlier in the film we see a bunch of the robots who run the ship that the movie takes place in having a funeral for one of their own. This turns out to be a subversion because it's really a clue that they aren't actually robots, but lobotomized and enslaved humans.
  • Weebo from Flubber, the adorable Robot Buddy and assistant to Professor Brainard, sacrifices herself in order to (unsuccessfully) prevent the theft of the titular Flubber. Professor Brainard tells her "Goodbye, my friend" as she shuts down after playing her Video Will, and as Brainard and Sarah takes on Hoenicker in the ending, Sarah even delivers a "This is for Weebo!" as she took him down by flinging the Flubber at him.
  • Free Guy: When Antwan reboots the game and effectively wipes the memory of all the Free City NPC's, including Guy, Millie takes it hard when Guy is unable to remember anything he experienced with her Avatar Molotov Girl. Thankfully, she is able to reboot his memory by kissing him.
  • I, Robot: During the “Ghosts in The Machine” montage, Susan is tasked to deactivate NS5 robot Sonny, at USR CEO Lawrence Robertson’s insistence due to Sonny violating Asimov’s Three Laws by murdering Dr. Lanning. As she prepares to administer the nanobots, she look up at Robertson’s view screen, clearly distraught, before administering the nanobots. Subverted, as she actually deactivated a blank NS5 instead of Sonny.
  • Rogue One: Both Jyn and Cassian are devastated when they hear K-2SO dying under enemy fire while he was in communication with them at the end of the film.
  • Near the end of Star Trek: Nemesis, Picard and his bridge officers gather to toast Data after his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day: The film climaxes with the T-800 Terminator machine making a Heroic Sacrifice to prevent Judgment Day from ever happening, and John Connor, who had grown to love him like a surrogate father, crying over the decision. In interviews, director James Cameron stated that this moment was the entire purpose of the film. After creating the most terrifying Killer Robot imaginable in the first film, he challenged himself in the second film by asking, "Can I make an audience cry over the death of a Terminator?".
  • Due to the nature of the movies, It happens several times in the Transformers Film Series, the best example is probably in Transformers: The Last Knight when Izabella cries over the death of her companion Canopy.

  • The Bicentennial Man: Andrew Martin, formally known as an NDR series robot, spent nearly his entire life trying to be recognized as human. He is lauded for his long "life" as the Sesquicentennial Robot. He is not awarded the title of "human" until he is dying of technology that renders him physically indistinguishable from a human.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Season 1 Finale of The Mandalorian, IG-11 sacrifices himself to give the heroes a safe passage out of a cavern, much to Mando's distress.
  • The Orville: In "Electric Sheep", the Kaylon Isaac determines that his presence on the ship has a negative effect on the crew in the aftermath of the Earth Conflict and his actions that led to it, especially after Ens. Charly Burke and Marcus both tell him their true feelings about him. He shorts his memory with a targeted electromagnetic pulse, effectively committing suicide. The crew all struggle to process his death, especially Dr. Claire Finn, whom he had a physical relationship with. Dr. Finn initially tries to bury her feelings, but after visiting the simulator and programming the site of their first date, she breaks down crying. Even Marcus tearfully admits to Burke that although he meant what he said before to Isaac, he didn't want him to kill himself. When Isaac is revived by Burke, Dr. Finn tells him that his choice to commit suicide did not account for how it would psychologically affect the crew and she begs him, even in spite of the animosity he's faced, to come to her if he considers doing it again.
  • Power Rangers Time Force: In the Grand Finale, Nadira, who is already beginning to question her evil ways and tries to get her father Ransik to stop his war on humanity, breaks down in tears when Frax, a former human turned robot, is destroyed by the rangers. Ransik angrily calls her out on mourning a mere robot.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "The Most Toys", Data, an android, is kidnapped at the same time as his shuttle blows up, so naturally, the crew thinks Data has also blown up. They look mournful, and at one point, Riker and Geordi search through his possessions, believing their close friend has died.
  • Star Trek: Picard: In the Season 1 finale "Et In Arcadia Ego", Picard honors Data's wish to die peacefully after having his consciousness housed in a computer in the 18 years since Data's body was destroyed in Star Trek: Nemesis. He eulogizes Data while unplugging the memory sticks housing his consciousness, surrounded by Altan Soong (the son of Data's creator), daughter Soji, and roboticist Agnes Jurati.
  • The Big Bang Theory: In "The Killer Robot Instability", the group mourn the loss of M.O.N.T.E. Penny tells Sheldon he's taking it too seriously and "it's just a toy robot." This causes Sheldon to run to his room and cry.

  • My Beloved Mother ends with the Heroic Sacrifice of Milan, mother of the Raised by Robots protagonist Sinbell, who finally accepts the robot as his parent and is beginning to reciprocate her love only to have her destroyed in the last minute. The final page is a massive tearjerker where years later, Sinbell has created a life-sized Memorial Statue dedicated to the robot who raised him (complete with a Title Drop with a plaque underneath that reads, "My Beloved Mother").

  • Gorillaz: The music video for "The Lost Chord" has the band revisit Plastic Beach and stumble across some traumatic memories, including seeing the now dead Cyborg Noodle still trapped in the submarine. This greatly affects Noodle, who looks like she's on the verge of tears, and Murdoc, who actually starts crying.

    Video Games 
  • Mass Effect 3: Regardless of the player's choices, Legion the geth dies at Rannoch. If they were part of the party in 2, they receive a memorial placard on the Normandy. If the situation is resolved so both geth and quarians survive, Tali finds herself mourning them and finds it slightly crazy, given the whole history between the quarians and geth.
  • Pokémon Black 2 and White 2: In the Pokéstar Studios movie Everlasting Memories, the protagonist's Robot Buddy F-00 becomes out-of-control and dangerous after the protagonist's assistant reprograms it to obey his orders. F-00 is still semi-conscious, however, and it begs to protagonist to destroy it before it can cause any more damage. The protagonist has no choice but to eradicate it, and they weep over its destruction.
  • Sonic Battle: Emerl the robot, who has learned about true feelings, goes on a rampage after a Chaos Emerald overrides his mind. Sonic has no choice but to personally fight him, and later destroys him. Just before Emerl explodes, however, he goes back to normal and bids Sonic farewell. Sonic and his friends are devastated, especially Cream, who even sobs.
  • Super Mario Sunshine: At the end, when FLUDD starts to break down, he asks Mario if he was of assistance before he shuts down. Mario looks distraught and shocked, and he almost looks like he's crying. However, the Toads repair FLUDD.
  • Super Robot Wars: Original Generation Gaiden: Lamia Loveless, an android that grew beyond her programming, was thought to be killed because of a failed rescue attempt before she could expand more on her newfound 'sentience' and the mastermind of the death (Duminuss) was still out at large and immediately sent its ally, the Shura, to terrorize Earth from a safe distance. The whole good guys' was given little time to literally mourn, so it affected the whole team's morale and most of them were more dedicated in honoring her memory, wanting to wrap up the war with the Shura quickly so they can start avenging her, even newcomers that hasn't known her for long (Kouta Azuma) also joined in trying to avenge her, Kyosuke Nanbu is even grimmer than he usually was (since he believed it's his fault that her death happened) and even Excellen Browning knew better not to crack joke too much than usual. It's only after they somehow found a way to save and restore her (with a little help from a post-Heel–Face Turn Axel Almer) that the 'mourning period' is over, business fighting earth invaders resumed like usual with the normal mood.
  • Detroit: Become Human: Implied Trope:Hank is noticeably upset whenever Connor comes back after he dies (which he can do a lot), suggesting that Connor's death bothered Hank at least somewhat. This is explained later in the story as Hank's continued angst after his son's death - he is upset because his son was never given the chance to come back. Played very straight if Connor gets shot by the deviant in the Stratford Tower, after him and Hank have grown closer - in this case, Connor actually dies in Hank's arms, and Hank murmurs "Connor..." just after his death, clearly upset.
    • Connor himself lampshades one of the former instances by saying "A machine was destroyed. And another was sent to replace it. I don't understand what's bothering you." To which Hank's immediate response is "Okay, fuck you."


    Web Videos 
  • In Critical Role, the Vox Machina group in the episode "Bats Out of Hell" experience the loss of an automation called Doty. The character Taryon Darrington, who built his mechanical friend when young, mourns the destruction with a guilty My God, What Have I Done? response.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: In "Brobot", Jimmy is about to deactivate the eponymous Brobot. Brobot tells him that this means they won't be able to play anymore, and Jimmy begins to have second thoughts. He sheds a Single Tear, seemingly causing Brobot to short-circuit, and he's horrified with himself. It's revealed a moment later that all that did was tickle Brobot and he's not really destroyed.
  • Archer:
    • In "Deadly Velvet, Part 2", Dr. Krieger's robot doppelgängers Milkly and Coply are both shot and destroyed after they short circuit. Krieger is shown sobbing over them as if they were his children. He them demands that Malory (who shot Milkly) be arrested for murder, even though Cyril and Alan Shapiro both point out that for it to be murder, the victim has to be a human.
    • In "Robot Factory," Barry, a cyborg sacrifices himself to take out the last giant evil Barry bot, blowing himself up. Archer, who finally came to acknowledge him as a friend after 10 1/2 seasons of animosity, breaks down and cries over his destroyed body, even tearfully singing the song Barry sang for him when he was in his coma. Barry however shows up and says he backed up his consciousness to another cyborg body, to Archer's delight and relief.
    • In "Mission: Difficult", Barry informs Archer that he needs to hard-reset him to stop Other Barry, telling Archer to hit him with a pair of shock paddles. After great difficulty, Archer and Colt, the professor, hit him with the paddles. Barry reverts to his normal self, but soon afterwards, shuts down in Archer's arms, leading him to grieve once again for his fallen friend. He is able to rescue Barry from IIA headquarters as it is destroyed thanks to an IIA janitor who helped him escape from IIA custody
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Red Tornado creates a robotic child for himself, named the Tornado Champion. At first things seem to going smoothly, the robot saves lives and helps fight villains, but when he tries to save 2 children from a fire, they are horrified by him. He eventually starts acting out and soon upgrades himself into the Tornado Tyrant and becomes a robot supremacist. Tornado is forced to stop and kill his son. He mourns the child with a tear falling from his eye.
  • Bob's Burgers: In "O.T. The Outside Toilet", Gene breaks down crying when the hi-tech toilet he befriends powers down due to lack of battery.
  • Played for Laughs in BoJack Horseman. After Todd's sex bot Henry Fondle is ousted from for inappropriate behaviour, he "puts it down" while in tears.
  • Futurama:
    • In "A Pharaoh to Remember", the robot Bender has become obsessed with being forgotten after he's gone. To try and cheer him up, his friends throw him a "living funeral" to show him how much they'll miss him when he dies. But not even their most heartfelt stories can placate the demanding Bender, who walks off saying that they've shown him "how much my funeral will suck."
    • In the "Terror at 500 Feet" segment of "Anthology of Interest I", Bender is killed when Zoidberg impales him on the Empire State Building. Fry cries over the loss of his friend and then admonishes the citizens of New New York for their callousness. Bender then utters his last words, that his only regret was that he couldn't kill all humans.
    • In "The Silence of the Clamps", the Planet Express Crew mourn the loss of Bender, believing he, under the assumed identity of Billy West was shot by Bella for cheating on her. Upon returning home, they come across the actual Bender, who's been working at the pizzeria across the street from Planet Express and realize that the robot they were mourning was just some poor yokel.
  • Invader Zim: Invoked in "Invader Poonchy", an Unfinished Episode. GIR's dog suit opens and meat comes oozing out. Zim briefly thinks he's become ground beef and mourns over him until GIR comes out from behind the couch, revealing that it was just a prank.
    Zim: AH, GIR! GIR!! They've turned you into ground beef!! How?! WHY?!
  • Kim Possible: Played for Laughs when Wade's telepresence "Wade-bot" gets trashed in "Blush". Ron makes a melodramatic speech until Wade reminds him that he's at home and doing just fine.
  • In The Loud House episode "Schooled!", Lisa invents a robot named Mr. Potty Bot to help with her sister Lily's toilet training. When Lily destroys Mr. Potty Bot, her dad Lynn Sr. breaks down crying.
  • Perfect Hair Forever: Parodied in the episode "Happy Suck Day". Coiffio orders Model Robot to turn himself into an A-Bomb. Model Robot asks him why, but Coiffio just tells him to do it. Model Robot complies, and then explodes. Coiffio then says "Oh. Now I miss him.", and proceeds to sing a sing about him.
Ooooh, metal butthole, sweeeeet metal butthole.
Want you to know, I miss you so. (so [eff]ing much!)
You were aalways so boooring, with your incessant transfooorming.
Too baaad that you are little [stops singing] burning pieces at my feet.
  • Pound Puppies (2010): In "Toyoshiko! Bark Friend Machine", Toyoshiko the eponymous Robot Dog has formed a close friendship with Strudel. Toyoshiko, however, has been built to record the Pound Puppies, and the others tell Strudel that she'll have to be destroyed so that the public doesn't find out about their organization. Strudel still refuses, but she doesn't have to choose, as Toyoshiko jumps into a magnet, erasing her memory in the process. Strudel begins to sob over her. Studel does get to rebuild Toyoshiko, but it's not the same Toyoshiko as before.
  • Robotboy: In "The Tune-Up", Robotboy begins to see everything as enemies from a video game. Professor Moshimo tells Tommy that he has to use a control-delete disk on Robotboy to stop him from attacking others, but this will remove his memories and basically kill him. Tommy seemingly inserts the disk and begins to weep. Professor Moshimo also sheds Manly Tears while Miumiu sheds a Single Tear. Even Constantine sheds a few tears. Subverted on Tommy's end, however, as he was only pretending to install the disk (and therefore was not actually crying).
  • Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles: In one episode, the Roughnecks are assigned a C.H.A.S., an experimental combat robot which they believe will take over the duties of the Mobile Infantry. While they begin the episode being angry at the robot, after it saves their lives several times, they build a rapport with it and are distraught when the C.H.A.S. unit sacrifices itself to destroy a massive Bug wave charging at them. The closing narration by Higgins says that the squad mourned C.H.A.S. when they returned to base and also mentions, in deadpan anger, that the higher-ups at SICON decided against going ahead with the mass-production of the C.H.A.S. project because human Troopers are cheaper.
  • The Simpsons: The Season 12 episode "Trilogy of Error" starts with Lisa revealing her science project, a robot called Linguo, who corrects a person's grammar. Homer gives him a test and quickly grows attached to it despite all the crazy chaos that happens in the episode. By the end of the adventure, Linguo ends up being blown up and lands before Homer, who mourns for his passing.
    Homer: Linguo... dead!?
    Linguo: Linguo... is... dead.
  • Sonic Underground:
    • In "Three Hedgehogs and a Baby", Sonic and his siblings find a baby hedgehog who they call Hip. Near the end of the episode, Hip falls from a very high distance and falls to pieces when he hits the ground, which reveals him to be a robot. Manic, who had formed an especially close bond with him, can do nothing but shed Manly Tears.
    • In "The ART of Destruction", one of Robotnik's attempts to stop the siblings is an Artificial Intelligence that learns from its mistakes and develops an appropriate solution after being repaired. It eventually comes to see Robotnik's oppression as a mistake and joins the Hedgehog siblings, but they are eventually trapped in a crusher room. The robot, whom they had named Art, sacrifices itself to let them escape, and Manic is again the one who has to mournfully bid their friend farewell moments before he's destroyed (only made slightly better by this being a choice on Art's part to hold back the trap as long as he can with the express knowledge he can't escape it). Manic destroys Robotnik's factory with a gratuitous amount of explosives to create a funeral pyre for Art.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "SpongeBob Vs. the Patty Gadget'', the Bikini Bottomites, most notably Mr. Krabs hold a funeral for the Patty Gadget after it explodes as a result of losing to SpongeBob in the Krabby Patty making contest. SpongeBob later shows up and dances on its grave.
    • A variation in "Married to Money"; Mr. Krabs falls in love with Cashina, who is actually a robot controlled by Plankton so he can find out about the Krabby Patty formula. When Mr. Krabs accidentally causes her to short-circuit with his tears, Mr. Krabs discovers Plankton inside and he is heartbroken that his feelings were toyed with like this.
      Mr. Krabs: Oh, I've been alone for so long, and for the first time in forever, I felt for someone. Well, I mean something— well, I mean, a pile of cash with lips. (shaking his head sadly) It was all too good to be true. Cashina may have not been real, but me feelings were, weren't they?
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: In "Terminal Provocations", Rutherford’s virtual assistant program Badgey turns evil and homicidal after being criticized by his creator for not working as well as the safety protocols being disabled in the holodeck due to an emergency. Rutherford and Tendi defeat Badgey by freezing him in a tundra program, then Rutherford proceeds to snap his neck, crying over Badgey’s mangled body. When the holodeck is restored, Badgey returns, seemingly without any memory of what happened, until Rutherford and Tendi leave.
  • Wolverine and the X-Men (2009): Marrow befriends a malfunctioning Sentinel, naming it "Rover". After Rover sacrifices itself to help Marrow and her group escape, she is so heartbroken that she blames Professor X for what happened and betrays him to Master Mold.
  • Xiaolin Showdown: In "Omi Town", Omi discovers that his supposed relatives are actually robots after his mother falls to her death during a Showdown. While he is shocked at first to find out they are robots and demands Jack some explanations, he is later seen mourning his "mother"'s destroyed body because although she wasn't a very good parent, she was still his, at least for a while.

    Real Life 
  • A bomb-detecting robot (nicknamed Scooby-Doo by its squad) was destroyed during the course of its duties. The distraught soldier was told repairing it was impossible and they'd get a new one soon, but he responded that he didn't want a new one, he wanted Scooby-Doo back.
  • The Mars Rover Opportunity (nicknamed "Oppy") explored Mars for over 14 years (far beyond its life expectancy, an estimated 92-93 days) but lost communication with its crew after a dust storm in 2018. Opportunity was mourned by NASA and the general public after it was decided to conclude its mission. A documentary film on Opportunity's mission was announced in 2021.
  • For a BBC documentary, the crew placed an animatronic baby monkey with a camera to spy on a group of Langur monkeys. It was convincing enough to fool the monkeys, but eventually, the fake monkey was accidentally dropped from a high branch. Having taken a fall and then remaining lifeless and unresponsive, the shocked monkeys believed the fake monkey have died and the whole group spent some time mourning it. The monkey who dropped it panicked and immediately rushed to its side to check whether it was alive. The monkey even hugged the robot and cried in distress. It was really heart-breaking.
  • An issue that frequently flummoxes military roboticists is "anthropomorphism" - the tendency of humans to project human-like cognitive traits (emotions, awareness, sentience, etc.) on non-human creatures, or even inanimate objects (the habit of giving human names to everything from boats to cars to guns is one manifestation of this tendency). Despite the best efforts of roboticists to make military robots as inhuman as possible to try and minimize the risk, militaries have noted that robots attached to squadrons typically wind up getting named and treated like a member of the squad, to the point where there have been multiple instances of soldiers risking their lives in order to "rescue" a damaged or stranded robot, despite that the entire point of the robots in the first place was to protect the soldiers and make sure they didn't have to put themselves in danger. Where robots attached to squadrons are destroyed during operations, it is not uncommon for the squad to give them a "military funeral", the same way they would for a human squadmate.


Video Example(s):



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