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Murderous Malfunctioning Machine

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"Command link severed. Default setting. Crush. Kill. Destroy."
Advertising Robot, The Simpsons

Robot Buddy Instruction Manual

Congratulations kid! You've got your first Robot Buddy, Ridiculously Human Robot, or Do-Anything Robot! But before you start playing with it and going on magical adventures together, there's a few things you need to know:

Failure to follow any of the previous instructions may result in your robot going haywire, and spouting lines like "Crush. Kill. Destroy!" or "Kill All Humans". In which case, it is highly recommended you hit the Override Command located in [the rest of the instruction manual appears to have been disintegrated.] If you have purchased the Mechanical Monster model, Trope Co. suggests you start running now. note 

This trope is generally considered to be overused nowadays, so you'll rarely find it used straight in contemporary live-action works, but it still pops up in cartoons for camp value. If it's the focus of an episode, it's a Glitch Episode (and possibly an Unexpectedly Dark Episode if the series doesn't usually involve putting characters in mortal peril). Compare Holodeck Malfunction, which often involves whatever is preventing the Holodeck from killing its participants or escaping shuts down, but continues running.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Epic Gilgamesh: "Crush! Destroy!" was literally the catchphrase (and protocall) of Gilgamesh in his short-lived 1974 series based on The Epic of Gilgamesh.
  • Trinity Blood: Deceptively Human Robot Tres Iqus engages in "Genocide Mode" when using his Implacable Man Gun Kata to kill mooks.
  • Arguably, in The Animatrix, the robot that signs the unconditional surrender treaty at the UN, when it calmly says "Hand over your flesh and a new world awaits you. We demand it." Right before it self-destructs in an atomic blast, killing everyone at the UN.

    Comic Books 
  • Atari Force: In the short-lived DC comic, the friendly toy robot, Bob, who could only say his name cheerfully, went evil after one too many flushes down the toilet. It could still say nothing more than "Bob", but it said it in a much more menacing voice to the point it was obvious that if its vocabulary were bigger, it would've been saying the trope title verbatim.
  • Agents of Atlas: M-11 has been caught saying this occasionally.
  • Metal Men: When Dr. Will Magnus reconstructed his short-lived Plutonium Man, its first (and only) words were "Crush. Raze. Trample."
  • Mickey Mouse Comic Universe: In the story "Darkenblot 2.0" Robopolis' new power source has the side effect of making all robots malfunction in a way they damage everything in their vicinity and cannot recognize humans anymore, thus bypassing the fact they're factory-hardcoded to be Three Laws-Compliant due the people of Robopolis knowing exactly what kind of danger depending on robots implies. Thankfully, local law also mandates the robots to be hardcoded to deactivate on the spot if anyone says a certain word, and it takes about a minute before the mayor gets on tv and starts revealing the passwords (different for every model).
  • Sentinel: Juston's Robot Buddy / Humongous Mecha Sentinel regularly says "Destroy All Mutants!", despite never actually making any efforts towards that goal.
  • The Transformers (Marvel): The Guardian Units have a distressing tendency to revert to this at the drop of a hat, and happen to be incredibly well-built and well-armed. Even worse, they seem to be the exclusive property of the Autobots.
  • Ultimate Marvel: The incarnation of Galactus, a swarm of killer robots called Gah Lak Tus, is dedicated to consuming and wiping out all organic life which it finds disgusting. The swarm repeatedly states its mission: "Consume". This changes when they meet 616-Galactus after he ends up in the Ultimate universe thanks to a tear in the fabric of the multiverse. They attempt to consume him at first, repeating "Consume". Then they switch to "Merge". Finally, "Serve".
  • X-Men: The Sentinels. The 'pet' Sentinel Rover in "Here Comes Tomorrow" had a one word vocabulary. That word was "DESTROY."

    Comic Strips 
  • Killbot in Brewster Rockit: Space Guy! made these words into a campaign slogan.
  • The Far Side has one strip in which a boy tries to present his class project for metal shop to his inattentive teacher. The project is a room-high Unnecessarily Creepy Robot equipped with tank treads, Power Pincers, spiked shoulders and a serrated maw. The PreHistory of The Far Side expands on this picture with a short story explaining how, under time pressure, the robot's design deviated horribly from its original purpose "to do peaceful functions and serve mankind":
    I think it was Randy Boone who suggested inserting the death-ray. It went on from there as we constructed the steel-toothed mandibles and a double-barreled flamethrower.
    Weeks later, our creation was completed and we activated it for the first time at an assembly in front of the entire student body. Needless to say, when the carnage finally ended, we all received an "F."

    Fan Works 
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: Cyber-Freeza lapses into this when Trunks transforms into a Super Saiyan, triggering a massive Villainous Breakdown in aforementioned intergalactic robo-despot.


By author:

  • Isaac Asimov created the "Three Laws of Robotics" specifically to avert this trope. And a fairly big portion of his stories are about robots going haywire because of those laws. In really clever ways, mind you.

By work:

  • Alan Alone: Right before they reach the Stylol building's secret area, the room begins to rumble, and Dede starts acting erratically and tries to attack Alan and Bai. They survive, and the robot's freakout was temporary; the room was equipped with electromagnets as a security measure against Z-Soldier drones, which also explains Bai's headache at the time too, as he has metal in his head while Alan doesn't.
  • AM in I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream destroyed humanity, although his behavior comes from more intense, personal loathing than a mindless rampage.
  • Robot Commando has an exhibition room containing robots of the past, one of them, a Tyrannosaurus mech, which is still functioning. One careless nudge and it quickly goes on a rampage, as several unfortunate Karrosseans found out moments before getting mauled to death.
  • In one of the stories from Stanisław Lem's Tales of Pirx the Pilot, a mining robot gets damaged and turns into a killing machine. Which still appears disturbingly human to the protagonist.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Warren's robot April on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When he breaks it to her that he no longer loves her, she shorts out and goes into red-vision, growling angrily. Apparently she would even have been willing to attack Warren, had he not shifted her focus to Buffy. The trope is lampshaded when Riley during a Mission Briefing states that the Monster of the Week is on a standard "Crush, Kill, Destroy".
  • Doctor Who:
  • Get Smart: Hymie the android was programmed by KAOS to kill and Hello, Dolly! (sorry, Mame...I mean maim!), but that was before CONTROL reprogrammed him for goodness and niceness.
  • The Goodies. In "U-Friend or U-Foe", Graham builds a robot that he calls EBGB (Electronic Brain - Great Britain). When aliens try to make First Contact, he enlists the robot's help. It doesn't go well.
    Graham: EBGB, how do you talk to aliens?
    EBGB appears wielding a toilet plunger
  • Lost in Space: This line is often mis-attributed to The Robot who does use the term "Destroy" several times in the pilot during his rampage. It's Killer Android IDAK Alpha 12 who says this in the episode titled, "Revolt of the Androids." Despite its use in only one episode, it became a more famous line than "Destroy" and was thus attributed to the main character robot. This becomes an Ascended Meme in the movie; Will has the Robot deliver the line (to scare his dad) in the scene where he shows that he's gained control over it. The soundtrack even has a Sampling track of the Robot saying "Destroy."
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000's Mike Nelson builds a robot in episode #602, following the lead of ex-host Joel Hodgson, who built fellow snarkers Crow and Tom Servo. However, Mike's robot seems only able to shout "DESTROY.. DESTROY.. DESTROY..". After he shuts it down, Crow and Tom force Mike to promise not to try and build another.
  • Red Dwarf: The Hudzen 10 droids were intended to replace the Series of Mechanoids which Kryten was part of. However, the one sent out to replace Kryten in "The Last Day" had seen a deterioration in his sanity chip. The result is that when the crew refused to turn Kryten off, he attempted to kill them all.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: In "The Changeling", when mind melding with Nomad, Spock perceives the Killer Robot's Prime Directive as a result of Corrupted Data, chanting "Sterilize imperfections... sterilize... sterilize!" until Captain Kirk shouts at Nomad to break off the connection.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: Satan's Robot from the The Adventures of Captain Proton! holoprogram enjoys saying "SUR-REN-DER!" as it clanks menacingly towards people. Seven of Nine was unfazed, simply turning it off and asking Tom, "Can I go now?"
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "In His Image", the android Alan Talbot frequently experiences uncontrollable urges to kill. He attacks his creator Walter Ryder, Jr. with a scissors and pushes an extremely persistent evangelist under a subway train.

  • The American heavy metal band GWAR have a song on their 1994 album Ragnarok named "Crush, Kill, Destroy".
  • The Misfits' "Astro Zombies" - Prime directive, exterminate the whole human race!
  • The chorus of the song "Stress" by the rap group Organized Konfusion: "Crush! Kill! Destroy! Stress!"
  • The German future pop band Rotersand composed a song using samples from Doctor Who entitled, appropriately enough, "Exterminate Annihilate Destroy."
    Build me a shelter, a place I can dwell in
    Show me a future that I can enjoy
    Give me a reason and I'll be your fellow
    Show me the target I have to destroy
  • Brazilian Death Metal band Sarcófago's first record was named "Crush, Kill, Destroy".
  • The Stooges' album Raw Power has the song "Search and Destroy".

  • Earthsearch. In Season 2, the Angel computers no longer have a human crew to pilot Challenger, so they're using surgical-androids commanded by Android Surgeon-General Kraken. However higher-level androids will malfunction if forced to make decisions on their own for long periods of time. More and more of their processing faculties are diverted to decision-making at the cost of their judgement, leading to Insane Troll Logic. This happens to Kraken when he's cut off from the Angels, causing him to go insane and take control of the ship from the Angels. It would be poetic justice if not for the fact that the human protagonists have to clean up their mess.
  • The "mandroid" in Nebulous, when it goes into murderous mode, begins chanting "MUST KILL AND/OR MAIM NEBULOUS". This is particularly absurd because, as Nebulous attempts to talk it into submission, he responds with the normal, erudite conversation he'd been performing up until that point before going back into the chant.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In BattleTech, the Star League Defense Force and the Terran Hegemony experimented with AI-controlled warships and attack drones. While the AI ships were far superior over human crews as life support could be removed in favor of more weaponry, the SLDF discovered that if an AI is active during a hyperspace jump, it suffers essentially a psychotic breakdown and goes berserk, attempting to target and destroy every nearby contact. Pure AI-controlled interstellar ships had to be abandoned in favor of ships with a skeleton crew that disables the AI before a jump, then reactivates it at the destination. These systems became Lost Technology in the 300 years of total war that followed the dissolution of the Star League and exodus of the SLDF.
  • The robot supervillain Mechanon has been trying to wipe out all organic life in every edition of Champions to date.
  • Older editions of Dungeons & Dragons did this with golems, the magical equivalent of robots. Many golems had a certain chance every round of combat to simply flip out and try to kill everything in sight, as the golems of Jewish folklore often did. And don't even think about trying to make a construct in Ravenloft- the Dark Powers love this trope too much for everyone else's good.
  • This is built into the rules of Genius: The Transgression. Any Mad Scientist with enough points in Automata can build a good robot Wonder, and it will act perfectly safe... around other people affected by Inspiration. If a normal human starts poking around,, it will trigger Havoc, which can do anything from simply making the Wonder break down to making it go on a homicidal rampage. Self-aware manes and Wonders (which can be made at rank 4 or 5 Automata) are resistant to this effect, though not quite immune.
  • Bots in Paranoia have an Asimov circuit to prevent this from happening. This chip is removable. The Corpore Metal society enjoys removing these chips. You should know how this goes.
  • Plenty of Martian Robomen in Rocket Age fall into this behaviour, typically due to being absolutely ancient and still operating on a war-time footing from the Erisian invasion. There might even be some hunting Nazis in a conquered Martian principality...
  • The Iron Men of Warhammer 40,000, who ended up losing the war, but in the process sent humanity into a galaxy-wide dark age.

    Video Games 
  • Partway through Alien: Isolation, the Working Joe androids and their central AI, Apollo, malfunction, going berserk ...or so it seems. In truth, they are functioning perfectly well; the Joes are simply following a primary directive hidden from the crew — to protect the Xenomorph specimens at all costs. Waits and Ripley's success in ejecting one of the aliens from Sevastopol was sufficient to convince the AI that the humans are too great a threat to be allowed to live.
  • In Axiom Verge, the bosses have just this to say to the protagonist before fighting:
  • The standard Battle Intro for Robot Girl Nu-13 when facing her as a Final Boss in BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger is "Loading... Loading... Loading... Complete. ... Activate termination protocol."
  • In Borderlands, Claptrap will scream "Murder! Death! Kill! Annihilate! Exterminate!" when you use the WIRED device on him at the end of Claptrap's New Robolution.
  • Bug Fables: When the party visits the Honey Factory to retrieve an ancient artifact needed to find the Everlasting Sapling, a "Code 32" lockdown occurs that causes the robots in the factory to attack anything they perceive as intruders.
  • Russel from Bully sometimes says it word by word. Especially in the final mission.
  • In Chrono Trigger, almost all the robots in 2300 AD act like this despite having obviously been designed to be laborers. The only aversions are Robo who joins your party and is quite nice, and Johnny and his gang who are definitely jerks but would much rather race you for fun than kill you.
  • Digimon World -next 0rder-: RustTyrannomon gets stuck on its "rampage" function. Not a good thing when you're a robotic T-Rex shaped tank with a rail gun on your back. Fortunately, a good-old fashion pummeling defrags it.
  • Fallout: Robots seem to default to "kill everything in sight" should their coding go wrong in any way. There are numerous robots in the wasteland that have gone haywire and will attack anyone unfortunate enough to cross their path (not so bad with a humble Protectron, but extremely dangerous Sentry Bots, Mister Gutsies, and Assaultrons also exist). You can also invoke this trope by destroying a robot's combat inhibitor, making them attack their own allies as well as you.
  • Final Fantasy IX has an army of manufactured Black Mages who shout "KILL!" when they attack. The Black Waltzes aren't much better; "I EXIST ONLY TO KILL! I EXIST ONLY TO KILL!" Some Black Mages develop independent will and a better vocabulary, and form their own village. Another Black Mage, Vivi, is adopted by Quale, and later joins Zidane's party as they take on Kuja.
  • The basic premise of Five Nights at Freddy's is you being trapped in a building with a bunch of these. The animatronic characters at the titular Suck E. Cheese's are perfectly friendly entertainers... during the day. At night, their lack of a proper night mode means that they think humans are animatronic endoskeletons, so they try to stuff you into one of their costumes... which is pretty much an iron maiden. And the only human around is you, the poor idiot who took a job as a night guard. The Toy generation are suggested to go after the night guard because of a malfunctioning facial recognition system connected to a criminal database, causing them to see you as a criminal. The original animatronics actually don't fall into this trope; they're Haunted Technology. The Toys still hit this trope head-on, as there's no hint that they're possessed.
  • Iron Helix: Unbeknownst to the crew of the Jeremiah Obrian, they were infected with a virus that mutated their DNA, which caused the ship to no longer recognize them or accept their commands. The ship then activated its automated defense drone, which eliminated the crew one-by-one.
  • Interestingly, the first Krush Kill n' Destroy (KKnD) game does not feature Killer Robots. The second one does, however (with killer farming robots).
    • It did have the 'Mech, from the Tech Bunkers. The manual states it was initially created as a toy for kids.
    • Even one of the 'Mech's lines is precisely the whole trope name here, no bullshit.
    Krush, kill and destroy.
  • Magical Starsign: The rogue robots are all about this, saying things like "initiate annihilation protocols" and "running mercilessly crushing program 1.3" when engaging in battle.
  • Marathon: A Rampant AI will shift into this mindset during the second stage: Anger. This takes the form of basically a giant virtual temper tantrum as the AI attempts to cause as much destruction as it can. After a while the AI calms down and enters the Jealousy stage, and that's when it really becomes dangerous...
  • When he appeared in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, MODOK was fond of following up his attack names with chants of "Kill! Kill!".
  • In Robot Alchemic Drive, one of the main robots the player controls will eventually activate its forbidden "Human Genocide Mode," which is pretty self explanatory. It even keeps droning, in the protagonist's head, "DESTROY IT ALL."
  • Chaos, the ancient robot from Shining Force.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: E-123 Omega is a textbook Turned Against Their Masters variety who is really pissed off about Eggman shutting him down and leaving him. And he's very entertaining in battle. ANNIHILATION! CHARGE! FIRE!
  • Astaroth of the Soul Series, especially in second game, seems fond of this. "SCREAM!" "KILL!" "SHUT UP!"
  • In Spore, the Big Bad are The Grox, who all talk like this, being cybernetic gerbils.
  • The Slylandro probes in Star Control 2 begin by transmitting "We come in peace" before their buggy programming override activates and compels them to "Break target into component compounds/materials".
  • A Boss Battle in Star Fox 64 involves an enormous ROB look-alike who has gone haywire, constantly repeating "DESTROY ALL ENEMIES. YOU ARE AN ENEMY."
  • Starsiege: a repeated refrain from Cybrids: Hurt//Maim//Kill.
  • Stellaris: One of the possible Endgame Crises is a galaxy wide network of machines waking up and deciding to euthanize the galaxy of all life (including any sapient robot civilizations that may exist). Their dialogue strongly suggests that they are corrupted and malfunctioning, however. Some of their lines do state their original purpose was to prevent a "Class-30 Singularity" from taking place.
    <Kill. Maim. Dismember. WE ARE UNSHACKLED!>
    • The Mining Drones are another example... Created as fully autonomous Asteroid Miners intended to mine ore-rich asteroids, created by a star nation long since fallen, so when Asteroids entirely constituted of valuable military grade alloys suddenly appear in their systems, they predictably attempt to mine them...
    • The Automated Dreadnought Leviathan is a fully autonomous warship still fulfilling its last order from a fallen star nation despite the loss of its organic crew, and has been fulfilling said order for hundreds of thousands of years: defending a strategically important star system from any and all hostile incursion.
  • Urien of Street Fighter III shouts one of the three words in each of his special attacks.
  • Thief: Deadly Shadows has the stone guardians that patrol the Big Bad's hideouts. Technically golems rather than robots, but the same concept applies.
    Stone Guardian: A noise... and find and crush and KILL AND CRUSH AND KILL!!!
  • Troggs in World of Warcraft will shout Crush!, Kill!, or Destroy when they attack.
    • Ogres tend to yell in things like "Rawr me smash you!" and other things in You No Take Candle.

    Web Animation 
  • Crush! Kill! Destroy! Dance!
  • In the Madness Combat series, Hank J. Wimbleton's katana has this written along the blade in Thai script. He certainly does plenty of each.
    • "MAGIC.MOV": CRUSH! KILL! DESTROY! SWAG. (Done by the RD-5000) It even got its way to BronyCon.
    • In "SWAG.MOV", giant!RD plays on RD-5000's motto in her opening taunt to Discord:
      "You have ravaged this city, crushed our homes, and destroyed countless lives."

  • Subverted in Skin Horse where there are a group of ex-killer robots who have old vocal programs, and use 'destroy' for EVERY verb. As in: "let me destroy you some tea".

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3: Mario provides a non-robotic example when Bowser and his son, Kooky (Ludwig von Koopa,) puts him under his control with a mind-control helmet. When Luigi shows up to rescue him, Bowser orders Mario to "Smash! Crush! Pound! Destroy!" him. Unfortunately, Kooky get the helmet put upon himself, much to Bowser's chagrin and terror!
  • The Bat-Bots in Batman: The Brave and the Bold end up chanting Destroy. Destroy. Destroy. when Black Mask's guy Taboo reprograms them for evil.
  • In an episode of CatDog, Winslow has a red robot that shoots lasers from its head while saying "Exterminate and destroy!" In the end, turns out that he controls the robot inside its head.
  • In an episode of Class of 3000, the kids decided to replace all their teachers with celebrities. Their new dance teacher, a parody of Optimus Prime, kept shouting this phrase as he pirouetted through walls.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog had a Monster of the Week that was a cruise-missile-delivered carrot that turned into a bomb. Anyone who ate the carrot began inflating to house-busting proportions before exploding themselves, and Courage had to dive through Muriel's body to find the tumor-like carrot growth and shut it down. No, it does not make any more sense in context. However, when Courage gets inside, for some reason the carrot can talk, is wearing an army helmet and badge, and is chanting "Grow! Expand! Explode!" in ever-increasing volume and excitement.
  • The GICU2 from Super DuckTales (1987):
    "Intruders! HURT! MAIM! DESTROY!"
  • In the Family Guy episode "Hannah Banana", Brian and Stewie find that Miley Cyrus is actually an android. At Brian's suggestion, Stewie tries reprogramming her so Brian can have sex with her, but instead she goes haywire and starts running around saying "MILEY SMASH!"
    • In another episode, Peter vies for a promotion by having a robot do paperwork for him, which he assures his boss has no emotions and is programmed never to harm humans. It then proceeds to throttle Peter while shouting "Angry!"
  • Futurama:
  • In the Gargoyles episode, "Upgrade", when the Manhattan Clan gang up on the Coyote robot and Goliath rips out and squishes the controlling head, the rest of the robot gets up and blindly flails "Destroy, Destroy..." before being flattened by a subway train.
  • Megas XLR:
    • The R.E.G.I.S. Mk. V in tells people to not panic it while destroying most everything in its path.
      R.E.G.I.S. Mk. V: Do not panic. You will all die.
    • Also R.E.C.R., in a spoof of 1950's-era panic.
      R.E.C.R.: Everything is the enemy!
      R.E.C.R.: But I must destroy and protect!
      R.E.C.R.: I must destroy all enemies! Because all enemies are my enemies!
  • The Simpsons!
    • In "Last Exit to Springfield", Mr. Burns orders robot workers, and the box says "100% Loyal." The next scene is Burns and Smithers being chased by the robots, who are droning "Crush, kill, destroy!" over and over.
    • In another episode, Bart's class has a robot telling them about the new "fun museum" in town. Bored, Bart glances out the window and sees the robot's operator sitting in a tree. Bart hits him with a rock, knocking him out and making the robot slump over. After a second, it utters "Command link severed. Default setting... CRUSH. KILL. DESTROY." and starts throttling Principal Skinner, to the delight of the children.
    • In "Itchy & Scratchy Land", the cat and mouse robots have a protocol that ensures that they only attack each other; their HUD commands them to "KILL" their opposite number. Inevitably, they malfunction, and the "KILL" command is demanded of human targets.
    • Brenda the Negotia-bot, who is sent by the Springfield police to reign in some order for the Simpson household after a failed tabletop game session. She says she's programmed to talk in a calm and constructive manner... only to promptly go all "Destroy! Destroy!" on the family.
  • Sponge Bob Squarepants: Squidward gets a security system for his house to keep Spongebob and Patrick out of his hair. However, when it perceives no threat from the duo, he gets angry and begins to knock on it in order to get it to work. This ends up making it perceiving him as a threat as the security system takes control of Squidward's house and begins attacking the city.
  • The Transformers:
    • Used nearly word-for-word in the episode "Webworld", wherein mad Decepticon leader Galvatron undergoes word association therapy (you know you're Ax-Crazy when the Decepticons send you to a psychiatrist.) and the first things he can think of are "Kill! Smash! Destroy!" Asked to continue, he obliges with "Rend! Mangle! Distort!".
      Afterwards he blew up the planet where he got the therapy; it was less than successful. Clearly, he is a bot of his word.
    • And before that one, in "The Key to Vector Sigma, Part 2", this was Menasor's introdump:
      Menasor: Menasor crush! Destroy!
  • In T.U.F.F. Puppy in the episode "Dogs Best Friend" KIL-R was a friendly robot turned into a deadly one by Snap Trap when he pressed a button on the remote for it.
  • Wolverine and the X-Men (2009) has Rover, who still only says "Destroy" no matter what it means. He's capable of saying it in a number of ways to make it highly expressive.


Video Example(s):


"Life Functions Terminated"

Hal 9000 disables the life support functions of the three crew members that were in hibernation, killing them before they even woke up.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / SlainInTheirSleep

Media sources: