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"Captain, although your abilities intrigue me, you are quite honestly inferior. Mentally, physically. In fact, I am surprised how little improvement there has been in human evolution. Oh, there has been technical advancement, but, how little man himself has changed."

In speculative fiction settings with very advanced technology, older Space Opera in particular, transhumans, meaning people who use cybernetic and/or genetic enhancements to give themselves capabilities far beyond those of ordinary humans, will often be either completely absent or much rarer than you would expect given the stated capabilities of the society they live in. In the older works this was more a case of No Transhumanism Existing As A Distinct Concept Yet, though they did have Evolutionary Levels, Mutants, and the odd Telepathic Spacemen which often served the same plot purpose. It's a primary contributor to Schizo Tech. In a Long Runner franchise that started before the concept existed, its absence may become an Elephant in the Living Room which the work may or may not eventually choose to address.

Oddly enough, 20 Minutes into the Future settings, particularly within the Cyberpunk genre, typically feature human capability enhancement prominently. This is probably caused by real-world technological advancements making it seem like this will become reality in the relatively near future, while older works hail from a period when this sort of thing still seemed entirely fantastic and authors therefore rarely included such themes in their stories.

Often caused by the fact that Most Writers Are Human: it's tricky to imagine what a fictional society where everyone or at least the majority are no longer recognisably human would be like. One misstep and your work will turn into a pile of Zeerust, or just be plain silly. It can make more sense to have everyone be regular humans wielding nifty supertools rather than transhumans with nifty superbodies and superminds,note  which also conveniently allows the humans in the audience to relate to the characters better by keeping their thoughts, behavior patterns and limitations familiar. Also done to sidestep What Measure Is a Non-Super?: the idea that humanity might be "superseded" by a more advanced version is repugnant to many, and the more radical the enhancements are, the more likely it will be seen as a kind of Body Horror.

Indeed, in older works, it was generally taken for granted that any kind of bionic modification, whether outwardly visible or not, constituted a type of Body Horror that was hard to live with, which is why The Six Million Dollar Man and his ilk only received their enhancements as part of medical treatment for injuries.

Naturally enough, Transhumans may take the form of Transhuman Aliens, who Turned Against Their Masters after Man Grew Proud.

Transhumans can end up as default villains in Space Opera settings, as it's all too easy to classify someone nonhuman as less-than-human. In that sense it's a form of Fantastic Racism, sometimes called bioism (prejudice against non-biological consciousness or modified life). They may also succumb to an Übermensch mentality that drives them to either subjugate "lesser beings" or to forcibly convert them into beings like themselves "for their own good." In some cases, the villains use radical modifications while the heroes remain more Badass Normal and "pure", leading to What Measure Is a Non-Human?.

This is sometimes justified or at least Hand Waved in various fashions; it could be a form of Schizo Tech where genetics and cybernetics stagnated while other scientific fields advanced, it might be considered unethical or be illegal, there may be an unforeseen cost to the individual, or there could be strong taboos in place due to past problems with this sort of thing. Instances of replacing lost body parts with equivalent or improved versions are not really an aversion, as the people of the society still do not seek out these enhancements (and especially so if the replacements aren't even more effective than the originals). A very specific form of Misapplied Phlebotinum. The most common aversion of this trope is the Super-Soldier.

Some settings literally do not allow transhumanism. That is to say, transhumanism is acknowledged as a real technological possibility by characters in the setting, but is explicitly forbidden by laws or customs. Taken too far, this can form the Back Story of a Feudal Future.

Compare with Enforced Technology Levels, Schizo Tech, Zeerust, Space Amish, Fantastic Racism, Ludd Was Right, We Can Rebuild Him, Emergency Transformation, Unwilling Roboticisation, Body Horror, Beware the Superman, Cybernetics Eat Your Soul, and Transhuman Treachery.

Contrast with The Singularity and Transhuman (which, given the existence of the previous two tropes, stop listing aversions in this one unless it is somehow notable, like if part of the work averts it, while other parts play it straight).


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Cowboy Bebop, Jet Black has a cybernetic arm to replace his natural one, lost long ago, and Spike has an artificial and mildly enhanced eye. Aversion, right? Well, no, as Jet's considered odd for not picking up an organic one, and the cybernetic arm's made of fairly weak metal and motors. Spike doesn't seem aware of the enhancements his eye gives him, if his reaction times or accuracy with firearms are due to the eye. This is the same setting with man-portable force field generators and many, many small concealed weapons. The protagonists play this trope relatively straight, but the rest of the series tends to avert it. It deals with a variety of transhuman themes, such as uploading consciousness into computers (revealed as a fraud, in-universe), super soldiers, futuristic drugs, and cryonics.
  • Crest of the Stars:
    • Abh are your garden-variety supermen constructed for space exploration, but they were constructed as slaves, and rebelled against their creators utterly destroying them in process. The second, antagonist faction goes even further, considering them just sentient equipment. But the Abh seem to avoid further experimentation themselves, and the non-Abh humans seem to have mostly deliberately avoided taking advantage of the longevity genehacks. There's been just enough transhumanism to provide space elves, and no more.
    • Enforced in areas controlled by United Mankind. Their longstanding rivalry with the Abh has made any form of transhumanism anaethema to them and descendandts of those who might have received treatments before their homeworld came under United Mankind control are heavily discriminated against.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist - The protagonist has cybernetical limbs (called automail), but only go with them after losing his real limbs. His whole motivation is to get his real limbs back, even though he can do amazing things with the automail.
    • Also justified for Edward. He doesn't want to get 'cured' because of the automail being bad...he's mainly looking for a cure to use on ALPHONSE, whose soul is bonded to a suit of armor. And, besides other issues, may suffer a failure of the bonding ritual at any time. Alphonse however does not want to be the only one getting back what he lost though.
    • In the 2003 anime, one of the Elrics lampshades this, realizing that they were only on par with some of their opponents due to their enhanced nature. The idea of someone using automail by choice instead of necessity only comes up once in the 2003 anime (when a rich man tries to buy parts from Pinako's old rival), and is treated as a completely foolish idea.
  • Played straight in the Backstory of the Mobile Suit Gundam SEED series with superhuman Coordinators and regular Naturals. The first Coordinator George Glenn was produced in secret and was only revealed when he proved just how superior he was to everyone else. A brief period of bandwagon-jumping followed until some people began having concerns about just what their children were becoming. (People were mainly just really jealous of the super-enhanced though.) Although poor George Glenn paid for it with his life, and it went From Bad to Worse to the point where the factions were at war by episode 1.
  • Lyrical Nanoha plays an interesting take on this. Purely artificial life is apparently not only allowed but common in the form of magic-based familiars and magic-based augments like ageing retardation/youth maintenance are widespread. However, transhuman enhancement with genetic engineering or cybernetics is outlawed. Despite the illegality, no stigma is attached to actually being either since those enhanced rarely had a choice in the matter.
    • The illegality of genetic enhancement and cybernetics seems based more on the implication that the average experiment in these directions fails horribly. The subjects themselves are often actually provided therapy for dealing with such things.
    • The fact that most results of the experiments double as Living WMDs is the other main factor. There's actually a good reason for this - the roots of the technology are derived from fallen civilizations that used it to create Super Soldiers.
  • In Macross, more than once an aspiring scientist has tried to dabble with transhumanism, but due to all of them having Science-Related Memetic Disorder, none of these tries ended well, as we can see in Macross Plus and Macross Frontier. Thus, while there's no general prohibition of transhumanism, and there are societies that actively practice it (like Macross Galaxy colony fleet in Frontier), it tends to be frowned upon.
  • Vandread follows this to a degree, in that each of the different human worlds has been created/genetically altered for specific organs or traits, and whilst the main villains are robot swarms in the anime, in the manga they're human brains wired into vehicular bodies.
  • Played with in Cyborg 009. While what was done to the cyborgs is considered evil, they do generally find their new abilities useful. The main issue they have is that they got their powers after they were kidnapped and given them against their wills. Cyborgs who willingly discard their identities as humans are portrayed as villains, as are characters who treat cyborgs as tools or machines. There's also the running theme that technology like that used to make the cyborgs should be used for the good of humanity, instead of creating weapons (as the Black Ghost had intended).
  • This becomes a pivotal plot point in Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet. After getting stranded on Earth, Ledo, a soldier for the Galactic Alliance, learns that his hated enemy, an alien species known as the Hideauze are also present on Earth, and vows to destroy every last one of them. He later learns via a lot of old recordings and news clips possibly hundreds of years old that the Hideauze were actually genetically modified humans. He doesn't take it very well, particularly as he'd been taught to believe they were a hostile alien force, and just hours earlier slaughtered hundreds, if not thousands of them on Earth.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel averts this tendency more often than DC does. Iron Man, Hank Pym and several superheroes created during the Avengers Initiative are deliberate upgrades. Ultimate Marvel zigzags this trope. On the one hand, most of the Ultimates are successful super soldier or high tech weapons experiments, on the other hand all the mutants are byproducts of the various attempts over decades to reliably manufacture super soldiers.
    • In Bill Mantlo's Rom Spaceknight, an army of young Galadorians volunteered to be made into cyborg "Spaceknights" to fight the evil Dire Wraiths. The huge majority of them viewed this as a personal sacrifice, and lived only for the day the war would be over and they could be surgically returned to normal. The second generation of Spaceknights produced, however, embraced their bionic nature and declared themselves to be superior beings, and nearly wiped out the normal Galadorians before being stopped. As a result of these bad experiences with cyborg technology, the current generation of Spaceknights are just non-augmented Galadorians in very powerful Powered Armor.
    • In Micronauts, also by Mantlo, Baron Karza's body banks are pure Body Horror. They've granted Karza and his followers effective immortality... by literally cutting up society's undesirables for spare parts, to replace their own organs when they wear out. When Mari was a naive young princess, she suffered an accident, but was very pleased with the lovely new legs she was given... until she learned they'd been stolen from her best friend, the court dancer, who was left maimed and would never dance again. The elite's dependance on the body banks is the foundation of Karza's dictatorship.
  • Robota lays down some rules for this. The effect to be feared from augmentations is that they'll make you think your superiority makes your life and desires more important than those of others. However, the augmentations themselves are perfectly harmless, as are changes in physical capabilities that do not change your appearance. Risk comes in when you no longer look like a human, since you might forget your origins.
  • In the world of Judge Dredd, cybernetic enchancements and other body modifications are very commonplace, and in some extreme cases, are treated as hobbies by the massively unemployed and bored population. However, naturally occurring human variations are treated with Fantastic Racism, mainly the mutants who are forced to live in townships in the Cursed Earth. Some types of cybernetic modifications also carry social stigmas, such as the extensive ones used on convicts sentenced to labour on the penal colony on Titan, so they can survive on the planets surface without space suits.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm has human enhancement being just about possible, but treated fairly carefully because it can - and in the case of Extremis, has - been successfully weaponised. Plus there's about sixty years of medical horror associated with attempts to replicate the Super-Soldier Serum. Most of the relatively effective means are just incredibly difficult, risky, or prohibitively expensive - though it is implied that is changing, rapidly.
  • Reimagined Enterprise explores Star Trek's use of the trope. The Eugenics Wars had already justified why Bio-Augmentation is off the table, and the reason for cyborgs being a no-no appears to be that there were a few experiments in cybernetics on twenty-first century Earth, but the collapse of the Internet as a result of World War III meant the users all died in a Keystone Army fashion.
  • If Transhumanism comes up in a Vathara story, this point of will not be presented in a positive light.
  • Genetic engineering isn't problem in most ChadR-2014 stories, But some stories exploring cybernetics in general enforce this trope by pretending it doesn't exist, due to the author having some hatred of technology and afraid of creating a cyberpunk story unintentionally.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Avatar:
    • The human scientists have the ability to create Human-Na'vi genetic hybrid bodies (Avatars), as well as project a human consciousness into them. However, the Na'vi mind transfer ritual can make this permanent, effectively allowing for new bodies to be produced in a lab and continuously body-hopped into as the old one ages or gets injured. It's a completely ethical method of near-immortality (for humans as well as Na'vi), but this is never brought up in the movie. On the other hand, the vast majority of humans are completely unaware of this capability, even if they know about the neural network itself, which is also something that the majority don't.
    • It proves impractical for immortality since Universal Health-care is non-existent and even something as trivial (compared to the creation of a huge alien-human hybrid) as regrowing a couple of nerves is prohibitively expensive for the average person.
    • In point of fact, the mind transfer concept was only used twice (the first semi-failed and the second, although successful, was the last moment of the movie) and wasn't even something the humans were aware of. Grace was aware of the neural network and some of its potential and tried to bring it up, but Selfridge just shut her down without bothering to listen.
  • Crimes of the Future (2022): The government, through an agency named the National Organ Registry, is trying to prohibit humans' having biological changes that diverge from the norm, as they fear that it could mean some are evolving into new organisms. Some however embrace this as a good thing and advocate these changes.
  • Star Wars
    • It's mostly like this: Artificial Limbs are considered vulgar, and Sith Alchemy is worse than planetbusting (though this could be justified, given that it depends on The Dark Side). Villains like Grievous use cybernetics that make them more dangerous in physical combat, but only after suffering crippling injuries.note  Good guys like Luke Skywalker only use replacement cybernetics that are somewhat more effective than the original body parts were, when it comes up at all. Clone troopers can be mass-produced, but are still only on the level of well-trained regular soldiers, instead of being enhanced to Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine levels or anything in that vein.
    • Some expanded universe media feature cyborgs and genetic engineering, but still it seems less prominent than the general technology level and the obvious utility of such enhancements would suggest.
    • One minor example of a transhuman character in the films is Lando Calrisian's majordomo Lobot, a man with (rather clunky-looking) cybernetic brain implants. His implant basically turns him into that guy you know who's always on his mobile. To the point where, in the Expanded Universe, he gets lonely if he turns off his implants. It is explained in the EU that Lobot's cyber-enhancement was actually an alternative sentence – originally a behavioral reconfiguarator on account of him in his youth being convicted of stealing. His name could be seen as a contraction of Lobotomy, and that doesn't suggest that the modifications were entirely beneficial or even voluntary.
    • There's mention of cyborgs suffering various degrees of Fantastic Racism, whether from outside or only to themselves, like Ton Phanan, whose Cybernetics Ate His Future. Oddly enough most of the good guys cover their Artificial Limbs with synthflesh, and Phanan didn't.
    • There are also monks who like to have their Brain in a Jar.
    • One note though, the ARC trooper clones are indeed superhuman, given genetic enhancements at formation in addition to less genetic inhibition on freedom of thought. This allows them to do really crazy things like leap up onto the top of an AAT twice as tall as they are in one jump, run up grappling lines at inhuman speeds, very casually wield gatling blasters without any troublenote  while standing, or strap a quadruple repeating blaster on their chests and stand without breaking their backs. This is what separates them from Clone Commandos, who are just regular clones given much better gear and training.

  • Zig-zagged in Dune: deliberate breeding programs are used to create humans with intelligence, reflexes, lifespan, capacity for higher consciousness and physical capabilities far beyond those of current-day humans, but a religious taboo is kept in place on genetically engineering anything recognizably inhuman or unable to interbreed back into the larger human population and artificial intelligence is absolutely banned. Thus, the characters and societies remain human while simultaneously having greater advancements over modern man than modern man has over homo erectus. The Tleilaxu, however, have no religious taboo on inhumanity and gleefully make a living selling inhuman humans genetically-engineered for specific purposes, including gholas (clones made from the cellular material of dead people) and human-animal hybrids designed for hunting the enhanced humans some of the breeding programs have created.
  • Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium: The Bureau Of Technology not only policed technology, but contaminated all records they have with false data; people know how to build the stuff they use, but are ignorant of the underlying principles that make them work. After the Dirty Communists and Eagleland wipe each other out, say hello to the Empire of Man, which lacks those controls — leading to the rise of the warlike and scheming Saurons.
    • In the CoDominium universe, genetic engineering is a crap shoot — the Saurons are superhuman, but also overspecialized and much less adaptable. Apparently, the other cultures in CoDo space decided to keep their options open rather than risk brainlocking themselves racially.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space: The ARM polices all technology which could be turned into a Weapon of Mass Destruction — and every technology has a destructive use, so the only new technologies in the series are the ones they're unable to suppress quickly. The ARM don't call themselves royalty, but they're the only ones who choose who gets weapons - and before you ask, the answer is an emphatic no unless Earth itself is being attacked by man-eating cats. (Which happens more often than you'd expect.) Then they pass them out once the surplus population is cut down a bit.
    • On the other hand, once the ARM stranglehold is broken after Hyperspace technology is bought, most flatlanders have near-immortality thanks to Boosterspice, "modern" geriatrics, cheap widely-available access to nearly any kind of healthcare needed (Auto Docs are so common they're used for everything from surgery to hangover cures to haircuts), and prosthesis so similar to the original that they put organ transplants out of business. Humans not on Earth have less access simply because no other human world is quite as developed, but still can live for a long time. And after the Puppeteers diddle the Birthright Lotteries a bit too hard, we get the only genetic advantage we'll ever need: all-pervasive luck. Turns out it's inheritable, and yes, it spread like a wildfire.
  • Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth: After a bunch of Morally Ambiguous Doctors attempted to breed some Designer Babies with Psychic Powers, The Government banned research into the genetics of sapient lifeforms. Cyborgs are nowhere to be seen. Only backwaters are feudal, just like The Federation.
  • In Walter Jon Williams' Dread Empire's Fall books, the Shaa conquerors stomp hard on any technology not strictly needed to allow the Shaa to conquer.
  • The transhuman Luculenti in John Meaney's To Hold Infinity use serious brain augmentation, though this is controlled to prevent people upgrading themselves too much and having... alien thought patterns emerge. The result of one gentleman doing just that can be seen in the Nulapeiron sequence by the same author in the form of The Anomaly. The inhabitants of Nulapeiron also use impressive amounts of augmentation though not at all in the classic cyborg vein, and more importantly not the sort that leads to inhuman modes of thought.
  • The Fall Revolution series by Ken MacLeod features the rise and fall of the "Fast Folk", strongly transhuman individuals who uploaded themselves to immensely powerful computer frameworks/spaceships and constructed a wormhole to a distant planet and the far future before going insane, malfunctioning and dying. Except for the ones that survived (just), and spent a few hundred years plotting to take over most of the universe once they'd pulled themselves together again. Oh, and incidentally crushed most merely human governments and killed millions (and forcibly uploaded millions more) and trashed all serious technology in the solar system by hacking, EMP, or plain old computer viruses. This is the reason why AI/uploading transhumanism is quite definitely not allowed in the later books of the series. On the other hand, even the relatively bioconservative humans have biological immortality — the oldest is about 350 years old — and they'll take brain backups to be written into new bodies in case they die.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: there are transhumanist elements, but fairly limited given the potential. Cetagandan haut are an ongoing project to make better humans. Jackson's Whole will make altered humans to order, or a clone to transplant your brain into. Four-armed space workers, quaddies, were made. Hermaphrodites were made as a social experiment in gender relations. Most civilized people use uterine replicators instead of natural pregnancies, and have their children's genes 'cleaned' of defects. Total sex change, down to the genes, is available. All that aside, lifespans don't seem impressive for 1000 years in the future and the demonstrated ability to regrow any body part, most people are pretty close to baseline human, implants seem vanishingly rare. Basically, they have nice medicine, but not too nice for lifespan purposes, and some isolated wacky experiments.
  • Discworld: Igors are pretty much biological transhumanists in hunchback form. They play with it themselves, but are kept isolated from the main plot; when a character in the Watch dies, Vimes refuses to let the local Igor try to bring the character back - though in that specific case, it's not because he's against it, but because the character's family are (said character is a dwarf and dwarves hold Views on that sort of thing). Sort of like magic not ruling: there for color, but not to do anything transformative.
    • Although, in a later books, Igors have a more demonstrable impact on the medical sector and resurrection by Igor is implied to be not uncommon, where possible. However, Vimes explicitly says that if it takes an Igor to bring you back to life, it's still legally considered murder.
  • Mike Resnick's Santiago: A Myth of the Far Future Space Western plays this absolutely dead straight — people only get cybernetics when they're injured, but as Sebastian Cain comments on someone else's eyepatch, "Why doesn't he just get a cybernetic one? I've got one — it sees better than the one I was born with."
  • Zig-zagged in The Night's Dawn Trilogy.
    • Part of the Backstory is that genetic engineering led to the discovery of a completely synthetic "affinity gene" that conveyed telepathy. The Fundamentalists had a colossal freak-out upon discovering that affinity permitted Brain Uploading — and that the creator of affinity did so specifically to make humans Outgrow Such Silly Superstitions. Why go to church to save your soul if Death Is Cheap? Unfortunately for him, the Catholic/Protestant split had healed by the time he succeeded, meaning a papal decree of excommunication (a.k.a. "God Hates Freaks") held about as much weight as a Presidential declaration of war. The only reason it didn't result in a war was because the breakthrough occurred on a newly independent space colony orbiting Jupiter. Instead, it resulted in a culture split; the fundies declared themselves "Adamists", named for the biblical Adam, who was "Pure". The augmented declared themselves "Edenists", mocking their opponents. Edenists then developed "bitek" to incredible levels; Organic Technology is commonplace, and their Living Ships outperform baseline vessels easily. Even their space stations are organic and sentient. To keep from being left behind, the Adamists were forced to develop nanotechnology to keep up, resulting in equally prevalent cybernetics. Super Soldiers are common, often bearing modular arms with gun attachments and extra forearms for More Dakka, and even totally bionic bodies with crazy-ass ceramic-gel skin. Dedicated spacers or "cosmoniks" casually let their bodies atrophy in microgravity or "astrophy", replacing organs as they fail until only the brain remains human, taking the Rule of Cool to a new height. The implication is that transhumanism is inevitable.
    • Note that, despite the above, by the year 2600 the two societies coexist peacefully: Adamists are the vast majority, but Edenists use their bitek to harvest fusion fuel from jovian planets and stabilize the economy. Also, with one exception, most Edenists rely on bitek space habitats, while Adamists colonize planets. Neither of them can survive on their own (and the Edenist Consensus makes this clear when the issue is brought up).
    • Also note that bitek has its limitations: it can outperform "solid-state" technologies by a fair margin, but bitek constructs have a limited lifespan (less than 50 years for starships) and are generally harder and more expensive to create; biocomputers also generally become sentient the moment they're switched on, leading to some ethical issues at one point with one that was essentially created to be killed. Also, on the issue of Brain Uploading: this is a universe where the soul, in its religious sense, is a real thing, and the Kiint reveal that Edenist uploads are not "real" souls, but copies running inside sentient bio-computers, simply adding their experience and personality to the computer's own soul. All Edenists who ever died, died as much as everyone else. This results in some Laser-Guided Karma for G7, the Ancient Conspiracy that rules Earth; back in the late 21st century, they attempted to ban transhumanism via religious persecution, as they were secretly using bitek make themselves immortal via copying their minds into clones. There are thus dozens of copies of each of these megalomaniacs in the Beyond, who come back as the Possessed and raise all kinds of hell.
  • In The League of Peoples 'Verse, the technology for cyborging exists, but the League explicitly disapproves of it. Genetic engineering is also illegal in the human Technocracy, as it goes horribly wrong more often than it succeeds. Genetic engineering is only widely used by alien species, such as the Divians and Cashlings.
  • In "The Waves Stifle the Wind" by the Strugatski brothers, a small group of humans (about one in 100000) begin to evolve biologically, and it is assumed as truth by all sides that those "Ludens" must leave Earth, as otherwise the human society would be destroyed. in the end, they leave.
  • In Charles Stross' Accelerando, the things that humans and the artificial intelligences they spawn turn into are effectively transhumans; they do not communicate with the remnant of humanity in any direct way because their minds are so totally alien in structure and function. Having your mind adjusted to cope with their fiendishly complex economic system they use is effectively a one-way trip and results in you losing your humanity.
    • It is interesting to note that the transhuman intelligences bear the rest of humanity no ill-will, or even any passing interest: "normal" intelligences simply cannot provide any threat or anything of interest and are more or less entirely beneath their notice. One interesting ability one weakly godlike intelligence gains is the ability to create a perfect software model of a human intelligence and run it though a "Turing oracle" to exhaustively calculate every possible response the human might have in a situation. It would be literally impossible to out-think such a being without upgrading your own intelligence, and it would already know that you'd try to do that.
    • Another Stross book, Glasshouse, does not have any strongly superhuman minds presented in the story but implies that they could exist. The protagonist decides that worrying about superhuman intelligences is futile, because if any were involved there would be simply no hope of defeating their plans.
  • The Honor Harrington series plays with this in an interesting way. While the 'Good' guys at Beowulf have created a process that allows for life-spans of over three centuries and are working on improvements, replacement grown limbs are common, and those few who can't use them due to genetic instabilities can get cybernetic limbs with no real stigma or issues, and in the case of a planet called Sharpton, are actually a cultural icon, they are insistent that this is not self-enhancement so much as bringing out the genome's full potential. Actually improving on the body using Genetic Engineering, on the other hand, is widely stigmatised thanks to the damage done to Old Earth in its Final War, partly due to eugenic Super Soldiers, and those who are outright gene-modded or descended from such try to keep quiet about it. The real bad guys of the setting (though Word of God says they are just Well Intentioned Extremists who have a very good point) are renegade Beowulfians who have been actively enhancing the gene pool of their key members for centuries.
    • The other part of the issue is that the one place that is openly doing genetic modification (Mesa) is using it to create slaves which just ends up reinforcing the stigma against genetic modification for most people.
    • Later novels reveal that a core point of the logic behind the Beowulf code was that the last thing humanity needed was a self-styled master race that genuinely was superior to everyone else in some quantifiable manner.
  • In the novelization of Red Dwarf, mention is made of the world having got over issues of mere drug-enhanced athletes in the Olympics and professional sports only to be faced by the problems posed by genetic and biological modification — Olympic sprinters who are all legs with only a vestigial upper body, for instance, and professional footballers with vestigial heads (un-necessary for the game of soccer) whose brains are minimal and literally in their feet. This is resolved by making professional sport leagues for genetically modified players, thus driving the old boring natural sort into extinction. People cheer professional boxers who can pummel each other for days on end, or pro soccer teams made up of genetically modified players. The text notes that Scotland fields a goalkeeper who is a massive rectangle of flesh who in theory can block the entire goal — yet Scotland still fails to qualify for the World Cup.
  • Discussed frequently in Alastair Reynolds' works:
    • In Century Rain following a Nanotech disaster the surviving humans split into two factions: the "Slashers" who said "What's done is done, no use crying over spilt milk" and embrace all possible technology, including genetic modifications and implants, and the "Threshers", who will only use tech which is essential for survival. They leave their own bodies alone.
    • Initially averted in the Revelation Space Series. Humanity was enjoying a golden age of prosperity and science, with brain augments, body modification and effective immortality being common on worlds like Yellowstone. Then the Melding Plague showed up, corrupting any nanotech based technology it touched; anyone with brain augments or high-end cybernetics would die a violent, painful and gory death. By the time Revelation Space takes place, the only major transhuman populations left are the Ultranauts, the crew of the lighthuggers that make interstellar travel possible, and the Hive Mind Conjoiners, who remained isolated and learned how to fight off the Melding Plague.
    • Enforced in Merlin's Gun and Minla's Flowers; with humanity fighting a Hopeless War waged over millenia, the technological base needed to sustain most high-tech augments is destroyed. However, when Merlin who has been alive but in exile for centuries restores contact with humanity, he finds that while their physical, hardware-based technology has regressed to being far inferior to his, their software is more advanced, with every person having their own cybernetic Spirit Advisor that can effortless crack through his starship's encryption.
  • In S.A. Swanns Terran Confederacy universe series, AIs, Nanomachines, and the genetic engineering of sapients are all forbidden with a religious zeal throughout the Confederacy, as well as its precursor and successor states.
  • In The Nexus Series, The United States and Europe have adopted stringent laws against augmentation of the human body, including genetic augmentation and the use of "drugs" like the titular Nexus. Things are a bit more liberal in the east however.
  • Zig-zagged in Oracle of Tao. It turns out that the shapeshifting hengeyokai were a result of genetic experiments. One of these, the lizard people, is behind secret governments and many wars (especially nuclear wars). Since the Council is against sketchy shadow governments running things, the idea of accidentally creating hybrids is out (though "tweaks" are allowed). The Council is also not fond of cyborgs, due probably to a combination of hacking and Zeroth Law Rebellion.
  • Largely averted in Sergey Lukyanenko's Genome, where a large percentage of humans have been modified by in utero gene therapy to a pre-selected Specification. During puberty, the Specs undergo a metamorphosis during which their bodies and minds change to better suit their future career. This is considered normal, although the Naturals (who only undergo the very basic gene therapy to correct common birth defects) tend not to like Specs much, which is reciprocated by the Specs. Interestingly, in his foreword, the author is the one who expresses this trope's views by pointing out that this effectively keeps people confined to their roles without the possibility of any mobility. In Lukyanekno's opinion, this is already happening, to an extent, without any genetic modifications. Rich people's children get better care and education than poor people's children and frequently end up in the same careers are their parents.
  • Early in The Color of Distance the alien Tendu help a stranded human to survive on their world by giving her their color-changing skin, claws, senses, and her own set of spurs, which she gradually learns to use to examine organ function, heal, and synthesize things with. She grows to appreciate this but worries that she won't be able to change back when she's with her own kind again, and in fact asks them to do so, though she keeps slightly enhanced senses and reflexes. In the second book she doesn't seem to miss her alien enhancements at all.
  • The Quantum Thief averts this trope in every way possible, but also goes its way to subvert it, exploring just how difficult it would be to retain a traditional human society in the midst of transhuman technologies. In the first novel there is the Oubliette colony, which tries to preserve everything that was good about the original society, but to reach this end all the citizens are permanently connected to the colony-wide Exomemory, and own total encryption rights over their own portion of it. Only the extreme degree of multi-layered memory encryption prevents the Sobornost mind upload collective from simply swooping in and forcefully uploading the entire population in accordance to their Great Common Task, but it also means that, in essence, the Oubliette is in fact a Hive Mind that hallucinates being a human society, as if the encryptions were to be removed, everybody would share all their thoughts and memories.
  • In Imperial Radch, the Radachaai consider people with cybernetics past a certain level to not be human (and thus not be people). It is implied that most other places have similar views on transhumanism, though some small societies embrace it to the point of being practically unrecognizable as human and consider it odd that others don't do the same.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's future history zigzags this. The Howard families are arguably transhuman, being genetically selected for longevity (and later for intelligence and physical fitness), but cyborgs are treated as a mockery of humanity. To be fair to Heinlein regarding the cyborg issue, the word "cyborg" is usually used in his novels specifically to mean a human with part of their brain replaced with a computer (C.f. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which mentions cyborg pilots who interface directly with their ships.) Predictably, these cyborgs are somewhat off, due to not having a full human brain.
  • Official policy for the alien Jan in Alien in a Small Town. Not so for their cybernetic rivals the Arachne. Humanity apparently suffered at least one war over the issue, and public attitudes have gone back and forth, but there are now multiple genetically engineered subraces of humanity living alongside mainstream humans, and even "normal" humans typically have some genetically modified ancestors.
  • Journey to Chaos: Bladicraft can transform a human into a humanoid mana breed known as a "bladi". This gives them their own bladicraft in addition to greater physical durability and tenacity. Despite these benefits, the Bladi Clan has only propagated through the old fashioned way because the clan itself considers Bladi Conversion to be The Dark Arts. The transformation is painful, the survival rate is low, and the clan's orthodoxy states that simply sharing their blood would not make the newcomer their family member. In Looming Shadow, Ataidar's Royal Mage requested Basilard Bladi's assistance in using Bladi Conversion as part of a cure for Mana Mutation and he was outright refused. The last person who tried this was unpersoned and the bladi they created is considerd an abomination.
  • Machine Man by Max Barry centers around a character who gets in an industrial accident and loses a limb. He designs his own prosthetic, which he deems to be better than the organic limb, and decides to start replacing all of his limbs, one by one. Naturally, society as a whole can't handle this, and the central conflict of the book is between his desire to slowly replace himself with better parts and societal attempts to stop what is viewed as a self-harm behavior.
  • The short story "Segregationist" by Isaac Asimov discusses this trope from a body-replacement perspective. The story centers around a doctor who disapproves of a growing trend for humans to seek prosthetics that make them more robotic and robots seeking prosthetics that make them more human. He says that he considers transhumanism not as a desire to improve one's self, but as a rejection of one's natural state, and states that if he ever needs parts of his body replaced, he'll seek replacements as close to the originals as possible. It is only in the last paragraph that it is revealed that the doctor is a robot.
  • Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle has several methods of transhumanism. Baptism is a surgical procedure that grants quasi-supernatural abilities but is extremely dangerous to the patient (even a partial version has a mortality rate of 80%). Elixir is a drug that heals injuries and gives various improvements, originally used by the Lords to become superior to their subjects. However, making full use of Elixir requires one to first undergo Baptism, a high dose will transform the user into a Nocturnalnote , and making Elixir requires the life energy of human beings, all reasons why the main characters are reluctant to use it. Finally, there's the creation of part-Abyss, which makes the aforementioned Baptism look safe; exactly one person has survived this. Said person has superhuman strength, regeneration and senses, and can increase these further by tapping into their Abyss side (but with risks like being controlled by others). It's noted that if their true nature were to become public, they would almost certainly be executed (as normal Abyss are mindlessly-violent monsters), so their friends are trying to find a way to reverse this.
  • In The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids, the Clockwork Cherubs aren't allowed to learn robotics, let alone alter themselves — a rule clearly put in place to avert The Singularity. Juliet-178 keeps breaking the rule, though.
  • Chakona Space: Zig-zagged to hell and back. World War III, also known as the Gene Wars, was fought over the rights of genetically-engineered beings. When the war went nuclear and destroyed Earth, the psychological shock of the monsters created on both sides convinced civilization to enforce permanent restrictions on transhumanism and gene therapy in general, but allowed for the creation of new sapient species. Except the governments lied, because in the aftermath of the Gene Wars, the provisional governments decided that morphs 'won' and secretly genetically modified all human descendants to survive the post-apocalypse hellscape. While most of these genetic mods were simply boosts to natural resistances, they still count as transhuman.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5:
    • The cybernetic enhancement of humans is only featured once, in "A Spider in the Web", and it's established that human brains can't function properly connected to machine parts. Similarly, sentient AI experiments were banned some time ago.
    • Agent Bester expresses an interest in Lyta's body (after she's died and finished using it, with her consent... unusually reasonable, really) after being Touched by Vorlons makes her an extraordinarily powerful telepath. He points out that understanding what happened to her would allow all telepaths to improve themselves in ways unconstrained by their current biology. Whether this actually worked out is never revealed, though it is notable that in "Mind War", the result of one experiment to increase the power of a telepath creates a godlike energy being who promptly leaves the galaxy in search of something he can relate to. Telepaths themselves are eventually revealed to be the result of alien biotech.
    • The control units of the Shadow spacecraft turn out to be kidnapped telepathic humans with large amounts of cybernetic augmentation. Given that the contruction process is effectively Mind Rape and the victims are little better than Brainwashed and Crazy, it isn't exactly shown in a positive light.
    • Draal, once installed in the Great Machine, appears to be a Trans-Minbari and seems quite happy about the whole thing, and has the abilities of a minor demigod by way of a bonus.
    • Human evolution is shown to progress to the state of Vorlon-like Energy Beings in "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars", millions of years in the future.
  • The Techno-mages were shown in Crusade to be cyborgs using Shadow nanotechnology. The full reveal didn't come until the unproduced season finale, the script for which was available online briefly. This was further explored in the canon novels, which claimed "the tech" was slowly driving them nutty, until Galen found a solution.
  • In Doctor Who, transhumanism appears in good and bad lights. Don’t think that it’s a coincidence that most of the transhumanism-is-good examples come from the new series.
    • The good:
      • The Time Lords themselves may be a transGallifreyan race, augmented by regeneration and time senses. "The Brain of Morbius" implies that they could have opted for unlimited regenerations, but chose to limit them to twelve for fear of cultural stagnation. "The Five Doctors" also implies that Rassilon, who determined the shape of so much of Time Lord society, didn't want them to have true immortality, either (he's still around, but mostly in an occasionally-reawakened Human Popsicle sense). That episode (the council offers the Master more regenerations) and "The Time of the Doctor" make it plain that the Time Lords are perfectly capable of granting regenerations past number twelve, they just consider it unwise.
      • The Doctor criticizes the implants in "The Long Game" for being more primitive than expected.
      • In "The Doctor Dances", the Doctor upgrades nanobots to heal an army of zombies — although the zombies were created by the same nanobots gone wild anyway, and the Doc is just using them to return the zombies to normal, not to make them superhuman in any way.
      • At the end of the universe, the Doctor mentions that humans went through periods of uploading, or being gas.
      • "Voyage of the Damned": A cyborg character was reluctant to reveal his status, and when he finally reluctantly mentioned one of his implants that could save the cast, Astrid told him not to worry, saying cyborg rights were making progress, and they were even allowed to marry now. (Does This Remind You of Anything?)
      • In "Forest of the Dead", a death has the Doctor save the remains of his future companion's Data Ghost by uploading it into a virtual reality contained within a giant hard drive.
      • "The Pandorica Opens"/"The Big Bang": Rory's mind is essentially transferred into a plastic automaton body. Despite taking The Slow Path for about two thousand years, he's mostly treated by the show and characters as pretty much the same guy he was when he was biologically human. note 
      • The 12th Doctor once admitted that the basic idea of the Cybermen (that is, a human technologically augmented to survive in a hostile environment) is perfectly sound. They only become a problem when they decide everyone else wants to be a Cyberman too.
    • The bad:
      • The Daleks are the modified Kaled mutant, placed in a travel machine. Cyborg, genetically engineered genocidal monstrosities. Played with some nuance in "Genesis of the Daleks", however, where the good Kaled scientists plan to continue creating Daleks as the only way to save their species, but without Davros' genetic modifications to make them all psychopaths.
      • The Cybermen’s evilness is a outgrowth of their self-modification. Whether it's because they honestly believe everyone should sensibly want to be a Cyberman, or because converting others is their only way to reproduce, or because they're ruthless conquerors as a result of no longer having human empathy, or a combination of all three, depends on the writer.
      • The Sontarans are a race of cloned cyborgs all obsessed with conquest. It's strongly implied that they're all born as adults with implanted memories.
      • In "The Lazarus Experiment", the Doctor seems to dislike the villain's attempts to basically regenerate like a Time Lord, not because it wakes up junk DNA and turns him into a monster, which seems to be more of a footnote. His main problem with it is that Lazarus is running away from death and states that living forever just makes you old and tired as everything dies around you. Since he's at least 900 at this point (though going by the Classic series, he might be closer to 1500), he knows whereof he speaks.
      • At the end of the universe the transhumans have still regressed back to humanity, and keep going back to the same form.
      • The future humans then turn into evil flying brainballs.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): A core part of the Big Bad Brother Cavil (Cylon Model Number One)'s motivation is revealed to be an inverted Pinocchio complex; he resents that the five scientists who created him and the rest of the humanoid Cylons designed them to be as close to human as possible with all the weaknesses of their flesh and blood bodies, their only advantages over humans being somewhat enhanced strength and resilience, the ability to interface with the datastream, and Brain Uploading into new bodies when killed.
  • Killjoys allows for transhumanism, but it's frowned upon. If one installs too much tech one can lose one's human status. No tech is allowed for RAC agents. When Johnny temporarily gets a small hand-mounted device he is forced to remove it.
  • Star Trek:
    • In the Federation, Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke (and illegal if done for enhancements) because of the Eugenics Wars, where superhumans grouped together to take over the world before they were defeated. Khan is The Remnant of this period.
    • Their technology is so advanced they should be able to do most anything; the transporter might be able to resurrect anyone who dies as long as their pattern is stored in the buffer, and maybe multiply them too (or, depending on the physics involved, maybe not). If the replicator can make just about everything by converting energy to matter on the subatomic level, they should be able to manipulate pre-existing matter on that level, including their own flesh.note 
    • Nanomachines that can repair and even improve living bodies have been shown, then ignored (or used only by the villains, except when convenient for the heroes).
    • The Borg are an example of the Body Horror type, as a forcibly hive-minded species.
    • Artificial Intelligences with potentially superhuman capacity have deliberately been limited to human-equivalent abilities, again except when the plot causes them to be briefly and intermittently superhuman. There is a specific example of this: at one point Barclay has the Holodeck run a program which enables him to interact with a virtual Albert Einstein and discuss entirely new ideas. If the holodeck is capable of simulating Einstein's intellect in such a fashion, it would imply that the computer running it is at least as smart as Einstein and should be capable of making new discoveries on its own. This, of course, never happens. Well, except that whole Moriarty business. Which apparently required a significant portion of the Enterprise's processing power.
    • Artificial lifeforms like Data, Lal, and EMH-1 have to prove they are deserving of rights. Over and over again. Of course, in fairness... At the time of Data's trial, he was both unique and irreproducible without endangering his life, which was a central point of his defense. When Lal came along, that appeared to no longer be true, but Lal eventually malfunctioned, returning the status quo. The holograms are a much trickier situation, since the early holograms (except Moriarty) apparently were genuinely non-sentient — and, by the time technology had advanced to the point that many of them were sentient, they had become completely ubiquitous throughout the Federation, used mostly as toys for entertainment. The realization that these completely disposable toys might be living, feeling beings should have sent shockwaves of Fridge Horror throughout the Federation, but we never see it happen. The Expanded Universe eventually addressed the issue in more detail, but between a massive Borg attack and its aftermath and the supernova that wiped out Romulus, the question of holographic rights was pushed down the priority list both in-universe and out.
    • Averted in the novelization of the first movie, which claims that most of humanity outside of Starfleet is actually going a transhumanist route, forming into hive minds and such, and Kirk, as narrator, regards this as a generally good thing and chides himself for being old-fashioned. However, this claim is not supported anywhere else in Trek canon.
    • The original 1960s Star Trek Writer's Guide lampshades this by pointing out that, whether or not it's realistic for man to be physically unchanged in the 23rd century, it's considered necessary for audience relatability.
    • Averted in part in Star Trek Into Darkness, where one bridge member has obvious cybernetics. There's still the ban against Bio-Augmentation, but that's more due to politics stemming from the Eugenics war. In fact, the villain is an augment, namely Khan. Somewhat justified as the Augments seem to have been made with Lost Technology; his blood contains curative properties beyond current Federation medicine.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • Geordi LaForge has a visor that allows him to perceive radiation outside the normal spectrum visible to humans, yet no one else uses such a device even if it would be useful to them. It's mentioned in some episodes that wearing the visor causes him constant pain.
    • In "The Schizoid Man", a deathly ill villain manages to capture Data and download his own personality into the robot brain. He is rather pleased with his new super-strong and immortal body, but when he offers to do the same for his girlfriend, she breaks down crying, finding the idea monstrous.
    • In "The Nth Degree", Lieutenant Barclay is raised to literally godlike superintelligence by an alien probe. He starts out by using it to indulge various personal desires and do his job with superhuman efficiency, then goes off on a power trip to where he hijacks the Enterprise and takes it to meet some nigh-omnipotent aliens — the probe makers — who revert him to normal human intelligence. But at no time throughout his several days of apotheosis does it occur to him to devote one minute to studying his own augmented brain, how it got that way, and how he could possibly reproduce the phenomenon in others. As it is eventually revealed that his intelligence was given by the probe for a very specific reason it could be argued that the probe's "gift" has strings attached to keep the recipient from duplicating the effect, but that is never addressed (or even questioned) during the episode.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • "A Simple Investigation" has a cyborg who can interface her brain with computers; it's referred to as a rare occurrence. And of course, genetic alteration of humans is illegal and the resulting beings subject to Fantastic Racism and legalized discrimination because of a war that happened centuries ago caused by augmented humans raised to believe they were superior beings.
    • "Life Support" features a character suffering progressive brain damage, and having their brain supplemented with computer implants. Once their organic brain is almost completely destroyed, the doctor just lets the character die because nobody sees any point in keeping them alive, despite the fact that in-universe the character is still a sapient, sentient being with all of his original memories. However, the character in question didn't feel like himself with the implants and wasn't really interested in living a shadow life, believing that if the last part of his cerebrum were artificially replaced (even with his memories intact via the positronic implants) the result would simply be an android copy of him rather than actually him. It was made very plain that to keep Bareil alive past that point would leave him with, at best, a drastically altered and emotionally stunted personality — and there would be more such surgeries to come as still more of his central nervous system failed, so that in the long run he would likely wind up as Just a Machine.
    • Several Augments are recurring characters. Due to the ban, it's a black market technology, often resulting in unstable individuals. Julian Bashir is one of the only people this technology has worked on without serious drawbacks.
  • In a plot arc of Star Trek: Enterprise, they revisit the "augment" point. Apparently examining their genetic code with 22nd century technology, they discover that there really was a flaw in the process. A subtle flaw in their enhanced neurology also created increased aggression. An ironic aspect of all of this is that the Augments really were not ridiculously powerful. Indeed, all things considered they were only slightly superior to most Vulcans, and not in all respects.note  It was simply that they tended to use their enhanced abilities in a very aggressive way. But numerous Federation species possess greater-than-human attributes. Vulcans are the most obvious example. But you also have the Betazoids, who are human-like but possess telepathic powers. Then there are the El-Aurians, who have incredibly long lifespans and immunity to alterations in the timeline. Peculiarly, there is no fear of transhuman traits being acquired via interbreeding with alien races, something that's not particularly uncommon in the Federation, and those few who object to it are depicted as run-of-the-mill racists rather than worried about the resulting hybrids being "superior" to regular humans. But trying to gain the exact same traits via genetic engineering is considered a taboo.
  • Star Trek: Discovery touches on the genetic augmentation taboo, as it turns out the only way to get the Spore drive to work without basically torturing an innocent alien is to use Augment technology to create a human who can run the drive. This turns out to be a Big Problem because of Federation laws against genetic augmentation (see the whole Khan thing for why), and puts said augmented crewmember and those who helped him into an ethical dilemma as they try to keep their actions secret from both the authorities and the crewmember's spouse.
  • Star Trek: Strange New Worlds revisits this in the episode "Ghosts of Illyria" as not only do we revisit the damage done thanks to Khan Noonian Singh with his descendant La'an, we also learn of the Illyrians, who genetically modified themselves greatly, even modifying themselves to eradicate diseases as they are infected with it. Turns out Una is one of them and lied to Starfleet about it.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • Warhammer 40,000 only dodges The Singularity because all that technology is focused on continuing the Last Stand. The Imperium, despite being a fanatical pack of religious zealots, employs numerous Super Soldiers and cyborgs, though they do have a ban on advanced AI due to a past Robot War. Also the Necrons, who are an entire race of full-body cyborgs who embody Clarke's Third Law. The Orkz are an entire race of genetically engineered warriors who also use (extremely crude) cybernetics, either to replace lost parts, to increase their fighting ability, or, as is the case with Mek Blag's Exploding Leg, because the painboy thought it would be funny (even if the patient went in to have a tooth pulled). This trope is played relatively straight with the Eldar, who are supposedly the most advanced race in the galaxy following the necrons. Despite being genetically engineered by the same race that created the Orkz, they only use cyborg technology, in the form of Wraithguards and Wraithlords, to replace the bodies of those killed in combat and never think of using it voluntarily to enhance their frail bodies, relying instead on Psychic Powers, and have apparently made no further genetic enhancements to themselves since their creation by the Old Ones. The Tau are a little behind the Imperium in technology and do not allow any genetic enhancement beyond the selective breeding used to maintain their rigid caste system (although it's been hinted that the Ethereals were created through bio-engineering by another race, possibly the Eldar), and have no visible cybernetic enhancements, either, though some may have minor implants for combat purposes.
    • The Eldar are attempting to create a new Chaos God, a god of the Eldar Dead, Ynnead, which will presumably be a good guy and kill the other Chaos God they created, Slaanesh. To do so they'll need millions if not billions of the souls that power the Eldar Wraith machines — and while in the wraith machines the souls are trapped inside crystals that are very fragile. In addition, while inside the Wraith machines the Eldar are basically being kept away from their afterlife AND are trapped in a half-awake hell. There's a reason the Eldar are loath to use them.
    • Also, the Imperium does have AIs, but they have to be connected to a human, (e.g. the Titans, which are controlled by a human pilot, or the Servitors, which actually used to be human). What exactly is and isn't allowed with regard to AIs seems to vary wildly between the branches of the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Imperial Clergy and the game designers. Every machine is expected to have a machine spirit which can be placated by offerings and prayer and some machine spirits are certainly more than superstition (advanced tanks like the Land Raider have at least an expert system), yet strong AI is definitely out of the question. Although, if the comic Damnation is to be believed, even a simple bolt pistol's Machine Spirit is intelligent enough to worry about whether it has failed its "master".
    • The Eldar do have cybernetic implants, they're just not especially prevalent in modern versions. In second and third editions, every other eldar seemed to have some kind of plate in his head or an enhanced limb, they sometimes still use these older art pieces too. They also seem to fuse crystals to their heads to enhance and protect their minds (not to be confused with waystones, which capture their souls should they die, and are on the chest) a lot even in modern depictions, though. While regular Eldar don't have many transhumanists (-eldarists?), the Dark Eldar are perfectly happy to augment their bodies. Most of them prefer to retain their appearance due to vanity, although they may be heavily augmented under their skin (there's at least one Succubus that has replaced all of her muscles with cybernetic ones to enhance her strength and reaction time). The Haemonculi themselves don't care about appearances so they tend to have things like extra arms and surgery tools grafted onto their bodies.
    • The human Cult Mechanicus is strongly based upon transcending the frailties of the flesh, mostly by replacing it with machine parts. They're generally regarded as weird, but accepted as the second religion in the Imperium because they're the only ones who understand the technology that it depends on. Some of them choose to undergo the Rite of Pure Thought, which involves replacing the parts of their brains responsible for emotion with computing gear. This leaves them utterly unemotional and rational and is considered an extreme measure even among the Mechanicus mainstream.
    • The Adeptus Mechanicus try to replace as much organic matter as possible with machinery. There are two specific Adepts - in Eisenhorn and Storm of Iron respectively. The former is reduced to a brain in a mechanical body, and the latter is a brain and a face hooked up to a vast databank. Would count as And I Must Scream if said Adept didn't seem to actually prefer this state of affairs. In the new Rogue Trader rulebook it is shown that unobtrusive bionics do exist, but are frowned upon by the Adeptus Mechanicus who view overt and baroque augmentation as a mark of honour.
    • Also in Eisenhorn is the villain Pontinus Glaw, basically a box with psychic powers. later a robotic body is built for him as an act of mercy by Eisenhorn. Whoops!
    • The Space Marines in general arguably count under transhumanism since their genetic and surgical modifications put them far, far, far beyond the abilities of normal humans. They are impossibly strong, with bulletproof bones, quickly clot should they become injured, have heightened senses, require less sleep and turn off parts of their brain to continue being awake, and may very well be capable of living forever if the violence of their universe didn't make a violent death so likely... among other things. However, they only allow certain very badass children and adolescents to become Space Marines, as the modifications must start being implanted during puberty. And a large quantity of said badass children will likely die at the hands of their fellow hopefuls so as to have only those ones who are worthy become a Space Marine.
    • The Iron Hands Chapter of the Space Marines: their whole schtick is the weakness of the flesh and the strength of the machine. Before becoming a full Space Marine, the iniate must have his right hand replaced with a cybernetic equivalent, and from that point on the Chapter's Marines gleefully replace their flesh as much as they possibly can, viewing injuries as a good thing because it gives them an excuse to get the bodypart replaced with a machine equivalent.
    • The Iron Warriors are basically the Chaos Marine equivalent of the Iron Hands. Not only do they suffer degenerations in their geneseed that cause them to suffer crippling deformities or unviable mutations in their limbs, necessitating bionic replacements, but they willingly infect themselves with the Obliterator Virus. Which basically turns them into a shapeshifting morass of organic meat and metal.
    • The various citizenry of the Imperium don't have much longer life expectancies than modern-day humans (and, if you're born on a feral world or death world, much much less) but a few of the imperial aristocracy can gain access to bionics and surgeries to extend their lives. Commissar Yarrick has been alive for over 400 years through a combination of life-rejuvenation and bionics, and Colonel "Iron Hand" Strakken has half his body replaced with bionics.
    • Eversor Assassins are designed to be walking one-man gorefest. However, they are not genetically modified like the Space Marines. They instead use a combination of bionics and a really wild cocktail of combat drugs to increase their killing power. The side effects of these drugs is that their bodies will explode on death, and they are in a permanent drug-induced rage, necessitating the operatives be sedated and transported in stasis between assignments. The other assassin temples rarely resort of such extremes, instead opting to train the crap out of their skills.
  • In Eclipse Phase, this trope is played straight and justified with the Bioconservative factions, most notably the Jovian Republic, and otherwise gleefully averted - even with a cultural preference for basically human bodies, the vast majority of the system's population prefer to sleeve into genetically enhanced Splicer morphs.
  • Likewise in the Transhuman Space GURPS setting, many transhumanist technologies exist, but some are banned by particular societies.
  • GURPS Ultra Tech refers to societies that ban transhumanism as "safe-tech" in a slight misnomer as it only applies to transhumanism. Creating new plagues technically doesn't violate the laws.
  • Transhumanism is almost totally absent in Traveller. It is justified by technological stasis/regress and social stigma.
  • Mindjammer averts this. Transhumanism is everywhere in the New Commonality of Humankind. Brain uploads are used to create sentient A.I.s, and genetic engineering is common. In fact, what would normally be Humanoid Aliens in most other Space Opera settings are usually the results of human colonists adapting themselves to new planets millenia ago.
  • Played with in Shadowrun. Many, many people have some degree of mechanical alteration - the datajack is the most common bit of cyberware in the world. However, a number of people consider cybernetic modification to be a bad idea, and it's not just the mages. (While altering your body screws up your Essence, tied to a mage's power, even some non-magical people find the whole idea of cyberware to be creepy.) Though this depends on the edition. Fourth edition is much more Post-Cyberpunk and most people have at least some. Not the magic uses though; cyberware still messes up magic.
  • By the era of Paranoia — which may be anywhere from a hundred to thousands of years in the future — humanity basically only still exists because The Computer's directives say it must. Those who show transhuman tendencies and evolutionary advancement are branded "mutants" and enslaved or exterminated. The status quo is all.
  • In Nova Praxis, the Humanity Preservation Act restricts how transhuman Coalition citizens are allowed to be. Everyone has minor boosts (the average lifespan is about 250 years barring accidents), but more than a 0.0035% divergence from the "acceptable" human genetic code is against the law, and SIM environments have to run on the same clock as the real world. The "Purist" movement that supports the HPA has a majority share of the population, and four of the six Houses endorse it - but House Dalianis will back anyone who can get the job done, regardless of whether or not one is a baseline human, House Tsarya is moving away from strict bioconservatism in favour of neutrality, and the Purist dominance is a matter of only a 53% share, which means transhumanism could become much more legal in a decade or so.
  • In BattleTech, there was very little transhumanism prior to the Clan Invasion bar the rare and fantastically expensive replacement limb. Justified, as known space was involved or recovering from 300 years of total warfare and the subsequent loss of infrastructure and technology. However, when the Clans invaded, they did so using test tube warriors born in iron wombs, often sporting bionic replacements for limbs lost in battle, in addition to a small percentage using a direct Brain/Computer Interface for controlling their Humongous Mecha. Fully averted by the time of the Jihad, where the Word of Blake uses heavily augmented super-soldiers and all the major powers use augmented agents in their intelligence agencies. Unfortunately, mass atrocities committed by the Word of Blake ended up causing a significant backlash against people with prosthetic enhancements that are more than just replacements for injuries.

    Video Games 
  • Mass Effect:
    • The series contains very small man-portable force field generators, amazing metallurgy, and an entire species of intelligent humanoid robots. Cybernetic technology, however, is much less pronounced, primarily consisting of biotic implants and small-scale surgical implants of translators, haptic display manipulators, and other small tools.
    • Gene therapy is commonly used to correct genetic flaws, and genetic enhancement is common to the point where every human soldier has been upgraded, presumably including the main character. However, strict restrictions apply in that you can upgrade a sapient species' existing abilities, such as strength and speed, but adding anything completely new, such as extra arms or acid spit, is illegal. Creating new organisms is allowed (and mainly used for terraforming and medical applications), but there are heavy regulations on creating sentient organisms and a ban on creating sapient organisms. Oddly, the ban apparently applies to medi-gel as well (but is ignored because the substance is just that useful).
    • In the third game EDI riffs on the notion that Shepard might be considered Transhuman and the legal ramifications of this, causing Shepard to become highly concerned. EDI then emphatically states that Shepard is not a Transhuman due to still having an organic mind. Of course, it should be noted that we later learn that she's capable of lying to spare the feelings of others, so its entirely possible that Shepard actually is a Transhuman.
    • According to Sovereign, one of the Reapers, the Mass Effect technology is left around so that the species who discover it will develop along those technological lines, and since the Reapers always destroy species before they stick around long enough to truly understand the complex technology in any way other than reverse engineering it, they never develop any radical modifications.
    • In Mass Effect 2, Miranda states that she's had so many genetic modifications that she's superior in every way to baseline humans. Grunt is synthesized from different Krogan strains to be perfect, and the sterilization of the Krogans was certainly a frightening indication of how advanced technology is. Garrus has some cyborg replacements, but as it is shown with Shepard, all of this is incredibly expensive even for a monstrously wealthy, shadowy corporation.
    • Joker, on the other hand, has a rare genetic disorder that no one understands, so it would probably be a significant undertaking to correct his disease, and he would probably resent the offer. It's worth noting that he mentions occasionally having to use crutches in the first game, but is shown getting around reasonably fine in the second and third. Apparently the technological boom after the destruction of Sovereign gave rise to better medical technology and treatment of individuals with brittle bone disease. Genetic engineering also has progressed to the point where Mordin could potentially cure his condition... at least, if he could figure out how to prevent the cure from also shutting down his liver at the same time.
    • At the end of Mass Effect 3, one of the endings could be more or less described as Transhumanism For Everyone.
  • The villains of Oni take a rare example of entirely xenobiological modification, although they're more villainous because they want to force humanity to upgrade, rather than because they are upgraded. The heroine is revealed to have been upgraded in this manner far in the past. Bungie likes averting this trope. Of course, it's also a setting where neurally linked androids are used to replace a simple monitoring system, but normal human soldiers with unimpressive body armor are used to fight said biologically enhanced superhumans.
  • The backstory of StarCraft describes how the tyrannical United Powers League arrested all cyborgs, mutants, cyberpunks and other such "undesirables" from Earth at one point and threw them in jail to "purify" the population. Granted, for the most part these weren't nice people or innocent victims, which is why the Koprulu Sector (where many of them got deported as a kickstarter for deep space colonization) is so full of back-stabbing, treacherous Terran bastards. It's also implied that this is the reason why they survived at all.
  • Explored in the CD-i game Mutant Rampage: Bodyslam, in which there are very few pure humans left, and genetically-enhanced mutants and cyborgs are the norm. The heroes are The Naturals, a team of pure humans competing in Blood Sport against all the evil mutants and cyborgs. It's a very anti-scientific game.
  • The whole reason why the Advent were banished in Sins of a Solar Empire was because the Traders viewed transhuman practices as abhorrent perversions.
  • Averted and played straight in Streets of Rage 3 of all things. New hero character Zan is a huge cyborg with only his human head remaining and nobody bats an eye despite the series not previously dealing with any heavy sci-fi concepts. Played straight in that Mr. X is now a brain in a jar that works through multiple robot bodies... but he was evil to begin with, so it could be argued as Rule of Cool and another aversion.
  • Averted in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, where transhumanism is inevitable in the higher stages of technological development. Brain Uploading is commonplace by the endgame, and the ultimate objective of all the factions is to complete the "Ascent to Transcendence" and use the planet's own neural network to survive its final transformation into a godlike sentience.
    • In the Expansion Pack, the Manifold Caretakers are specifically against this ending and will fight anyone who strives for it. However, this stems from the last time someone tried to do this, resulting in the destruction of their home system. Here are the defining quotes of the Caretaker leader and her counterpart among the Manifold Usurpers:
    "Tau Ceti flowering: Horrors visited upon neighboring systems must never be repeated. Therefore: if it means the end of our evolution as a species, so be it." — Caretaker Lular H'minee, "Sacrifice : Life"
    "Risks of Flowering: considerable. But rewards of godhood: who can measure?" — Usurper Judaa Marr, "Courage : To Question"
    • Played straight and averted in the Spiritual Successor Civilization: Beyond Earth, where two of the "Affinities" (basically, guiding philosophies) involve the two primary means of improving humanity: bio-modification (Harmony) and cybernetics (Supremacy). The third Affinity called Purity is vehemently opposed to any sort of transhumanism (although they still use basic gene therapy to eliminate genetic defects and certain diseases), preferring to build heave defenses and use big guns against the other two. In fact, of the three, the Purity Affinity is the one that advocates terraforming, while Harmony and Supremacy are focused on modifying humans to survive on the planet. The Harmony victory is identical to the Ascent to Transcendence victory in Alpha Centauri. The Supremacy victory, meanwhile, involves conquering Earth and forcing all humans everywhere to accept cybernetics. The Purity victory has the anti-transhumanists call in settlers from Earth (and frequently crush the others to make room). That said, even Harmony and Supremacy have limits; they join Purity in viewing the Harmony-Supremacy hybrid affinity introduced in Rising Tide, which combines both biological and mechanical augmentation so as to change mankind to levels beyond both, as abhorrent.
  • Semi-averted in Fracture. The war between the Atlantic Alliance and the Republic of Pacfica starts over what kind of transhumanism is allowed. Specifically, The Alliance supports cyborgnetics and opposes genetic engineering, passes a law that states persons genetically modified over a certain percentage are no longer human and are to subsequently lose their legal rights and causes Pacfica to secede.
  • Stellaris has a few factions that disapprove of certain forms of transhumanism:
    • Xenophobes disapprove of genetic modification, seeing modded subspecies as "impure".
    • Egalitarians don't like the idea of using eugenics or "capacity boosters" to improve the empire's leadership, but they don't have a problem with genetic modification of the whole population.
    • Spiritualists consider Brain Uploading to be an elaborate form of suicide and the very existence of artificial intelligence to be anathema.
  • Warframe: The New Loka syndicate wants to return humanity to a "pure" existence, without any artificial changes or enhancements. The problem is that basically the entire human race has been heavily modified, and they've been like that for a very long time. The Grineer are a clone army that uses cybernetics to make up for their failing genetics, the Corpus also use heavy cybernetics and roboticization, and even nature itself has either been directly modified or evolved to adapt to the technological ruins that litter the system; "primitive" tribes of humans make use of ancient synthetic meat vats and half-cybernetic fish as a matter of course. And that's not getting into the Tenno, who were considered abominations twice over even by the transhumanists who created them. In the end, it's never specified exactly what New Loka expects to "return" to, but they seem to define all their enemies as "impure", and only themselves as "pure".
  • In Rimworld, characters with the Body Purist trait believe in this. They believe that their bodies shouldn't be augmented and will suffer a major mood penalty if forced to receive any kind of artificial replacement for a body part outside of a transplant of a normal organic body part. This can get problematic if they lose a limb due to combat or disease, as even a basic wooden prosthetic will anger them, and thus leave you stuck between choosing an angry but functional colonist or a happy but crippled one.

  • Once their service was no longer needed, the Cyborg Valkyries of Cwynhild's Loom were required to have their technology inactivated and removed, which crippled or killed them. Their refusal to submit led them to be branded as outlaws and forms the core of the webcomic's plot.
  • In The Dragon Doctors transformation magic is commonplace in most of the world but Thoria literally has a "No Transhumanism" law in place which they brutally enforced. Mori's parents gave her a minor genetic modification she needed to digest food, but that was enough for the Thorian government to Unperson them and exile Mori when she was a small child, going so far as to erase her family name from memory. Ironically after Mori discovered the Fountain of Youth and developed rejuvenation treatments Thoria lightened their restrictions a little.
  • Genocide Man takes this to its logical conclusion—after a series of wars fought with Super Soldiers and Synthetic Plagues wiped out two-thirds of the planet's population, the beneficiaries of any form of genetic engineering are hunted down and slaughtered. The death of thousands of unaltered humans is considered acceptable in this task. According to the Villain Protagonist, the only way to kill an idea is to kill every single person that holds it, and the idea that baseline humanity can be replaced and made obsolete needs to be eliminated. However, the Genocide Project has no issue with augmenting their agents in other ways: stimulant-loaded glands and unbreakable skeletons. And it's been revealed that they actually used a gene therapy plague to modify the entire world population so that they would be immune to any designer plagues but their own and reduce aggression. It killed almost a billion people and turned the survivors into "deviants", baseline humanity went practically extinct and only a couple people even noticed.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, artificial being Galatea believes herself to be the next step in Earthling evolution. When aliens contact her, she assumes it's because they've judged her worthy to ascend to their wonderful post-singularity world. In fact, they mistakenly think she has some extra-terrestrial tech on her, so they've come to mug her.
    • Discussed in a series of following strips, with the Princess arguing that restraint is an important virtue in the face of such technological capability, and Galatea grumpily declaring her disappointment at learning that alien life is "Amish". We later learn that they do have cyborgs, but they tend to be of the Emergency Transformation variety rather than upgrades for their own sake.
    • When we learn the Cone Ship's origin, he turns out to be an alien who underwent an elaborate upgrade procedure, but found he was still lonely and unhappy at the end of it.
  • pictures for sad children is a good example of an extremely negative view of transhumanism based on the expectation that it will be restricted to people with white skin and lots of money — while the needs of the poor will remain unmet.
  • Danced around in Terinu, which has:
    • "Cyber Gliders" who have standard issue brain plugs for Hollywood Hacking.
    • "Moddies", humans who basically have advanced plastic surgery to alter their appearance to extremes (none of whom have any onscreen time). This is considered mildly questionable and open to abuse (Teri himself is mistaken for a extensively modded human child, with the assumption it was for sexual purposes). No other race is depicted as using the practice
    • On the other hand there's Terinu's whole race, the Ferin, which are a product of a long-term genetic Uplift project by the Gene Mage, and Word of God has stated that most genetic engineering revolves around the logical applications of modifying plants and animals to survive on alien colony worlds.

    Web Original 
  • Deconstructed in Chrysalis (Beaver Fur). All alien races seen on the story seem to be very conservative about how they use technology to improve their minds and bodies, limiting themselves to pretty much just translators and augmented reality implants in spite of their otherwise advanced technology. Powerful A.I.s are also explicitly banned by Galactic Law. This ultimately proves to be a massive disadvantage when they go to war against the Terran, who is very much an aversion of this trope and is therefore able to wipe the floor with them despite using otherwise primitive tech.
  • Orion's Arm as a whole strongly averts this. Pretty much every flavor of modification, from biological to technological, is commonplace in the setting. An average citizen might start out as a nearbaseline human (meaning they merely have minor genetic and cybernetic modifications), take on the form of an alien species, then become a vec (sapient robot), then a disembodied ai, then revert back to nearbaseline human. However, there are still baseline humans (and baselines of other species), they're just relatively rare.
  • Starsnatcher: On Shadowmoon (an alien moon whose tech-level is a few centuries ahead of humanity), this trope is downplayed. Cybernetic enhancements are permitted and everyone is immortal, but those who excessively modify their bodies are All of the Other Reindeer, according to Tesla. Spaceflight is utterly dominated by A.I.s and cyborgs, however, as practicality trumps taboos. The story's ending averts this trope hard once Layla and Kira spread transhumanism on Earth. The Primogenitors presumably also averted this trope, as they likely achieved The Singularity before dying.

    Western Animation 
  • Danny Phantom: Danny received his ghost powers as part of a Freak Lab Accident. On one occasion later in the series, something happens that causes him to lose his powers, so naturally he and his friends go back to the lab so he can repeat the process that gave him his powers. By doing so, he successfully gains them back, apparently showing the process is completely repeatable, not a fluke. However, none of Danny's team seem to consider repeating the process on anyone else. Not even on themselves, even though it would obviously make fighting ghosts easier.
    • Could potentially be justified in that not everyone's biology is exactly the same. All they know is that it worked under those conditions for Danny. While it's unlikely Danny is the only person it would work fornote , they have no way of knowing whether it will work on all or even most people. Maybe 99 out of 100 people would simply die from being exposed to it, and Danny just had very lucky DNA. But even if that's what stopped them from doing it, one might expect them to at least discuss the possibility.
  • Futurama: Played as straight as possible when Hermes starts getting cybernetic upgrades and immediately flings himself down the slippery slope in a rapid effort to replace his humanity with blatantly evil robotic improvements, and is only redeemed when he becomes completely human again. Apparently, the slightest alteration immediately gives you a superiority complex in their world.