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Only the Chosen May Pilot

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So you want to ride that Humongous Mecha and save the city from the Alien Invaders? Well, too bad, only one person can pilot it!

A common trope in the Super Robot genre, though at times it shows up even in the Real Robot genre: only special individuals can pilot a mecha. This is commonly due to some special compatibility that the pilot has to the robot, or due to some Applied Phlebotinum restricting the kind of person capable of piloting it. Either way, don't expect your average person to pilot this thing any time soon.

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This can lead to Falling into the Cockpit, if a person with no prior training is required to operate the machine due to being the only available compatible pilot.

Sister Trope of Only the Chosen May Wield and Only the Chosen May Ride.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Downplayed in Cross Ange: the mech Villkiss can be piloted by everyone... but only a Norma of Royal Blood (such as Ange or Jill) and in possession of a royal signet ring can activate its hidden Super Mode.
  • DARLING in the FRANXX has a post-apocalyptic future where teenager artificial humans are trained to pilot the giant mecha known as Franxx in pairs of a boy and a girl in a stamen-pistil system to connect between each other and then pilot the Franxx.
  • In the original Mobile Suit Gundam and its sequels set in the Universal Century, certain mechs are specifically built for psychic Newtypes like Amuro and Char, with regular, non-psychic humans restricted to their most basic functions.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing has the five young pilots managing the advanced mobile suits called Gundams. Every one of them are Child Soldiers trained all their life to become human weapons and the only capable to pilot these giant robots.
  • The Evangelions from Neon Genesis Evangelion are only compatible with certain people, all of whom are 14 years old. Only people born after the cataclysmic Second Impact can pilot the title mechs, and the 14-year-olds are simply the oldest and, therefore, most suitable for piloting among them.

    Comic Books 
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (1977): A giant robot (later named Red Ronin) is constructed for S.H.I.E.L.D. that ends up only being compatible with the designer's twelve-year old grandson, Robert Takiguchi, who snuck into the mech without permission, and it permanently synchronized with his specific brainwave pattern. Although when Red Ronin reappeared in other Marvel storylines after the Godzilla comic line was finished, Rob was Put on a Bus and it no longer had this limitation.
  • One arc of Iron Man revolves around a Humongous Mecha called the Godkiller that can only be piloted by someone with the right genetic markers. Due to the meddling of a sentient robot who is attempting to restart the thing so he can use it to protect the Earth, Iron Man was genetically engineered before birth to have those markers, so he can pilot it, and the robot attempts to force him to do so. Unfortunately, The baby who was genetically engineered is actually Tony's secret brother Arno stark, and Tony was adopted, so he can't pilot the machine.
  • The Robos in Mech Cadet Yu are living mecha who imprint on the first human child that they meet, and thus will only consent being piloted by that one human (though they may sometimes accept a new pilot if the original dies.) The military thus trains children as pilots before meeting a Robo, but were forced to accept the lowly janitor Stanford Yu when he accidentally met a Robo first and thus formed an unbreakable connection.
  • Wonder Woman: The original Robot Plane and the Lansinarian Disk versions of the invisible plane can reject pilots and only allow those they chose to pilot them. Despite its AI the Robot Plane doesn't start doing this until some aliens try to take it apart for parts, which makes it so selective it at one point abducts Steve Trevor so that it can have a pilot it approves of while Diana is busy.
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    Films - Live Action 
  • The Jaegers of Pacific Rim can only be operated by a pair of pilots who not only have to be compatible with the machine, but drift compatible with each other.

    Literature 
  • In His Dark Materials The Amber Spyglass, intention crafts seems to be piloteable only by beings holding daemons.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: One Imperial raid on a Tau base saw a Guardsman commandeer a battlesuit to use it against the aliens. The battlesuit did not recognize his DNA and electrocuted him.

    Video Games 
  • The titular Sentinels of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim can only be piloted by people injected by nanomachines called Innerlocitors, and only people who are "Compatibles" can be injected Innerlocitors in the first place, of which only fifteen characters, all teenagers, are. More specifically, it's because the "Compatibles" are the only actual flesh-and-blood people in the setting.
  • In Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, when Rex encounters the Battle Armored Dreagon Assault Strike System, it recognises him as a worthy master due to him wielding the Kill-Star, and permits him to ride it into battle during his assault on Sloan's fortress.
  • This is implied to be the case with the Divine Beasts in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. They're four gigantic animal-shaped mechas that were built in ancient times as a defense against Ganon, with representatives of each major race—Zora, Goron, Rito, and Gerudo—known as "Champions" chosen to pilot them. When the Divine Beasts are unearthed again, it's remarked that certain members of those races felt an inexplicable pull toward them: for example, Mipha, the Zora Princess and a mild-mannered White Mage, became vibrantly animated and even fiery as soon as she saw Vah Ruta, the Divine Beast of her people. It's downplayed in that the chosen Champions needed to be taught to use the Beasts, but their general connection to them leans toward this trope.
  • Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love: The STAR armours are built to synchronize with specific pilots, who fuel the mecha with their personal spiritual energy. This becomes a major plot point in chapter 6, when Sunnyside explains that Gemini was never able to pilot her STAR due to the existence of her Split Personality, which causes the armour to identify her as a completely different individual.
  • In Titanfall the titans have a neural link to their pilots, and only the linked pilot can pilot a particular titan. Interestingly, dialogue at the end of Titanfall 2 implies that a pilot can only have a link to one titan at a time.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, the Divine Knights are powerful and ancient mechs that can only be piloted by their respective chosen Awakener, in contrast with more "mundane" mechs like the Panzer Soldats that can be piloted by anyone with the right training.

    Web Animation 
  • gen:LOCK: In order to pilot one of the military Humongous Mechas known as Holons, a human's mind must be temporarily digitized and transferred into a cyberbrain, a process known as gen:LOCK. Unfortunately, as the technology is new and still being refined, only very specific people with compatible nervous systems can use it. In the second episode, we get a demonstration of why: one of the recruits for the program turns out to have been replaced with an enemy spy who is intending to steal a Holon, and who forces the scientist in charge of the program to upload him. As the spy isn't gen:LOCK compatible, it promptly fries his brain.
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    Western Animation 
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