Tachikoma 2: We might stand a chance of the Major liking us!
Tachikoma 4: Exactly!
Tachikoma 3: It's the ultimate robot strategy plan!
All four Tachikomas, in unison: [monotone] We are robots. We are robots. We are robots.
Tachikoma 3: Aaaaaah I can't do this anymore!
If a major robotic character looks human (is an "android" in the looser sense of the term), there is a very good chance that they will act robotic, being unemotional and uncreative, and given to Robo Speak. On the other hand, if a major robotic character looks completely mechanical, there is a very good chance that they think and act quite human, exhibiting plenty of emotion and saying quite human things even if they say them in a Robo Speak accent.
Apparently, major robotic characters can look human and act mechanical, or vice versa, but seldom show the same nature both inside and outside. This makes dramatic sense: an android that both looks and acts human is hardly different enough to be any fun; a robot that looks and acts mechanical is really more of a prop than a character, unless you put a lot of effort into inserting some interesting behavior, usually human but less obviously so, into the character.
The Spaceship Girl trope is a counter-trope, since she usually both looks and acts human; the audience is only reminded that she's not human when she refers or reacts to her status as a ship.
Examples of androids that act mechanical
- R. Dorothy Wayneright from The Big O. Although she is capable of feeling anger/happiness/longing/etc; she is unable to express these emotions to a great degree. Thus, she comes off as a very mechanical Deadpan Snarker.
- It's suggested that this isn't a shortcoming of her programming or construction, but the effect the death of her "Father" had on her, which would be a very human reaction.
- Subverted in the short series Time of Eve: In public, androids have holographic rings over their heads, act quite unemotional, and tend to only follow commands. Thinking of androids as or treating them similar to human beings is considered at least nerdy, or highly taboo. But in the Time of Eve cafe, where the rule is not to distinguish between humans and androids, it is impossible to tell who is which, and their true personalities are let loose.
- Ghost in the Shell's androids pretty much act completely robotic. This is discussed with the Tachikomas in that the justification for giving an advanced AI to something that's not humanoid is that giving an android an advanced AI would immediately result in the Uncanny Valley.
- The Vision from The Avengers always looks like just an oddly-colored human being, but his personality flip-flops with the trope; there have been times when he acts like a human, there was a time when he became a cold machine, and finally the writers settled for having him as a robot with feelings, but talking in terms that imply a monotone voice (as much as it can be implied in written media).
- Averted in the person of David, the android boy in the Steven Spielberg/Stanley Kubrick movie A.I. David looks perfectly human and acts quite human, too, especially after his ability to love gets irrevocably turned on. Although he doesn't act particularly normal...
- Daryl, another android boy, from the 1985 movie D.A.R.Y.L.
- Averted by Bishop in Aliens, whom neither Ripley nor the audience would've realized was a synthetic (all right, artificial person) if he hadn't cut his finger. Subverted by Ash in the first film, who successfully passed for a human who was as stiff and unemotional as an android.
- Chip from Not Quite Human, a robotic teenager. Although he averts the classic behavior to some degree (he has free will, understands emotions and can use subterfuge to trick people), he exhibits many robotic quirks, such as limited facial expressions, twitchy movements, and decorating his dorm room with posters of famous robots. His robotic girlfriend Roberta qualifies even more, since she lacks Chip's experience and free will. For instance, she was not the least surprised that he too was a robot, since a statistical extrapolation of her limited social group back in the lab would suggest that roughly one in five persons was a robot.
- In the Robin Williams movie Toys there is a gynoid that, while looking human, doesn't really act like a robot at all. She doesn't really act NORMAL, either. She acts like... well... a crazy person? Crazy in the dumb funny way.
- The T-800 (Mark II) in Terminator 2: Judgment Day slides along the scale...when he first shows up looking just like a normal Badass Biker, he is almost as inhuman as his predecessor from the first film. As the film progresses, the more banged-up he gets, with his robotic half showing, the more human he starts to act. Justified in a deleted scene where John and his mother take out his CPU and reset the switch, allowing him to learn and function as more than just an automaton.
- R. Daneel Olivaw from Isaac Asimov's The Caves of Steel and later works.
- Miss Willow, a "femiquin" (prostitute robot) from Fritz Leiber's novel The Silver Eggheads. Contrast with Zane Gort and Miss Blushes from the same novel, in the next list.
- Inverted in Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth novel Cachalot, where a stiff-necked, unpersonable government official is rightly judged not to be an android, because any decent android would've been programmed to act more friendly than that. In short, he was "too mechanical to be mechanical."
- Lt. Cmdr. Data of Star Trek: The Next Generation is presented this way, to explain his slightly off appearance, lack of emotion and inability to use contractions. The reasoning why is even explained in-universe: while his predecessor, Lore, still had the white skin and yellow eyes, he had full emotions (and the ability to use contractions)... and immediately used them for evil purposes. Data was made deliberately less human in an attempt to compensate, the idea being that he'd instead gradually gain humanity through experience and thus hopefully turn out, well, not evil.
- Vicki, the little android girl (little gynoid?) played by Tiffany Brissette on the TV show Small Wonder.
- Rhoda the Robot, played by Julie Newmar on the mid-1960s TV show My Living Doll.
- Hymie in Get Smart.
- Yancy Butler's android character in her first TV series Mann And Machine.
- Cameron of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and for that matter the rest of the Terminators. But especially Cameron.
- Which is then subverted by "Allison from Palmdale." Hard.
- BlazBlue's Murakumo Units look completely human when not in their Power Armor but play with this to varying degrees. Nu-13's the most obvious case, what with speaking with Robo Speak and Machine Monotone (unless she's near Ragna) and exhibiting an emotionless demeanor, but as the series progresses she's shown to be rather batshit insane and is quite a Mood-Swinger. Lambda-11's a much straighter example a la Data, and Mu-12 initially starts off of this courtesty of Terumi's influence but once she regains her sense of self she acts normal.
- Aigis from Persona 3, though she slowly acts more human as the story progresses thanks to Character Development.
- Orianna from League of Legends is a Robot Girl built to replace her creator's dead daughter (also named Orianna). She's a League Champion because it was the original Orianna's dream to be part of the League (which sadly led to her death in a training accident). Orianna tries to interact with others socially, but she's not very good at it. In the eyes of others, Orianna is an automaton that is dead inside, trying to act like it's alive. Orianna serves as a Foil to Blitzcrank (see below), a distinctly mechanical looking Steam Golem. Orianna is more life-like, but Blitzcrank is more alive. Oddly enough, the two are apparently friends (Blitzcrank is in fact her only friend).
- In Fallout 4 this applies to the coursers, particularly potential companion X6-88: they look human enough to infiltrate human settlements, but even a brief conversation with a courser makes it clear that they are devoid of empathy. The constant Creepy Monotone does not help. Contrast to the other possible robotic companions below.
Examples of mechanical-looking robots that act human
- Again in The Big O, we have the piano-playing robot, who, unlike Dorothy, speaks exactly like a human and shows the full emotional range that a human would have. He was built to play the piano so well that he taught Dorothy how to play with subtle nuances. In the second season, we then come across a mechanical detective; he has built-in equipment for forensics, but aside from that, he approaches cases in the same way a human would. He also takes on this particular episode's case for personal reasons. While there are other androids and gynoids disguised as humans, neither of these two attempt to hide what they are and are treated as professionals in their fields.
- Mechazawa from Cromartie High School is a Tin-Can Robot that acts exactly like a human student, and people treat him like one at almost all times.
- The Mons of Digimon are actually computer programs, and are all shapes and sizes, from fluff-balls to Humongous Mecha to Cosmic Horrors, but act very human (or at least, display a human level of mannerisms and emotions.)
- The Tachikomas in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex are sentient tanks that manage to act cute and human, despite looking like giant blue mechanical crabs on wheels with multiple eyes around their bodies.
- In the episode "Machines Désirantes", this trope comes up as a subject of conversation among the Tachikomas themselves. One of them theorizes that, as advances in cybernetics technology blur the lines between humans and machines, humans are becoming nervous about any robots that seem too human. Thus, any robots which require a human-like appearance (in order to interact with human environments) are given less advanced AIs so they're not perceived a threat, while more advanced AIs are confined to obviously non-human bodies. note
- Gynoid Chachamaru from Mahou Sensei Negima! starts with a pseudo-skin face, but antenna ears and visible joints make it obvious she's a robot, at least to those without a Weirdness Censor. She gets a full body pseudo-skin covery later, though, but retains her antenna ears. She's gone so far as to develop a crush on the main character.
- The title character of Atomic Robo is a humanoid robot whose head is a smooth, rounded lump of metal - his most expressive features are his eyes (he gets a lot of mileage out of his eyelids). Despite this, he acts like a snarky, down-to-earth guy whose job just happens to involve mad scientists, talking dinosaurs and other weirdness. We even see his pop-culture-filled "adolescence" growing up with Nikola Tesla.
- Andrew, the robot butler played by Robin Williams in Bicentennial Man, although he looks (and acts) increasingly human as the story progresses. Depending on your point of view by the end of the film Andrew becomes a fully-fledged human..
- Number Five, later Johnny Five, from the movies Short Circuit and Short Circuit 2.
- HAL 9000 (rather subtly), the psychotic ship's computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey and later works.
- Star Wars: Played with in C-3PO and R2-D2. Threepio is specifically designed to be an "interface" between humanoids and roboty-robots, and thus is more human-looking and -acting than most droids. Artoo, by contrast, is entirely inhuman and speaks in beeps, but has a much more relatable personality.
- Averted by Robbie the Robot, in Forbidden Planet, who is very definitely mechanical, both in form and manner — though his polite, robotic personality is not without its charms.
- The Black Hole: V.I.N.CENT looks like a multipurpose tin can but has a rather distinct personality.
- Interstellar: The robots look like someone gave Monoliths the ability to move, but they're Benevolent A.I. with rather charming and helpful personalities. TARS in particular cracks jokes and develops a rather snarky friendship with Cooper over the course of the film.
- Zane Gort and Miss Phyllis Blushes, robot lovers from Fritz Leiber's novel The Silver Eggheads. Contrast with Miss Willow from the same novel, in the previous list. The dichotomy is rationalized by Zane, who tells the human hero that, if you tried to cram all the AI circuitry of a real robot like himself into the same chassis with all the human-mimicry devices of a "femiquin," the result would have to be 10 feet high or as fat as a circus fat lady.
- Just about all of Isaac Asimov's robots except R. Daneel Olivaw, but especially Robbie, from the short story "Robbie", the first story of the "I, Robot" anthology.
- Marvin the Paranoid Android from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, along with almost every other computer, robot or happy vertical people transporter.
- In the Hitchhiker's Guide and Starship Titanic universe, the designers give robots and other mechanical things that speak "Genuine People Personalities" which are copies of people's personalities.
- In the futurist book 2081, there are laws that prohibit making androids that can be mistaken for people, mostly for safety reasons (e.g. so rescue workers will know to save the humans first). How much different they need to look varies from country to country.
- Keith Laumer's "Bolo" series of stories all revolve around tanks that start about the size of houses and move up from there. Their AIs are modelled to be courteous Warrior Poet types, to offset the fact that
a groupone of them could sterilize a planet. You don't WANT strange, alien mindsets running around with your guns, after all.
- To the point that they are usually more moral, ethical, and all-round better people than the flesh-and-blood humans who give them orders.
- KITT, the robotic car from the TV series "Knight Rider."
- Many a Robot Buddy.
- TWIKI from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
- The Bots from Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- Kryten from Red Dwarf looks like a partly melted shop window dummy, and is prone to irrational jealousy and getting worked up over petty annoyances, even if he can't master other human skills like lying and insulting people. It eventually transpires his personality is a sort of parody of his creator's ex-boyfriend.
- Orac in Blake's 7 is a cuboidal perspex box of circuitry and flashing lights, but has an entirely organic-sounding and very expressive voice and a ridiculously human personality. He's the possible Ur-Example of "Second Law" My Ass!, being arrogant, anti-human, amoral, lazy and sarcastic.
- This is the point of the Reforged philosophical movement of warforged in Eberron. Warforged are 'living constructs', mechanical beings that metaphysically and magically are a bit closer to biologicals, and the Reforged goal is to embrace their living side, so they do things like pick a gender identity, wear clothing, try to figure out ways to handle eating food, etc.
- Robo from Chrono Trigger was made of this trope and, ironically, Pinocchio Syndrome (the type that wants to be human in the "ways that count").
- HK-47 and T3-M4 in Knights of the Old Republic, as deliberate echoes of R2 and 3PO. Of course, HK-47's "human half" is a kill-crazy psycho...
- Another example are B4-D4 and T1-N1, from the Czerka office. Both are uncannily similar to 3PO and R2, except for being quite sociopathic.
Defective turret: I'm different.
- GLaDOS has quite the personality, but her body is just a tangle of wires and computers. Justified as having once been a human, with her brain uploaded.
- While most sentry guns have a limited (still makes you want to spare them) set of responses, the defective ones in Portal 2 just don't get enough time to show their personality.
- However, a non-defective turret in the last co-op level yells a unique and coherent statement, and they all can apparent make an opera.
- Some of the personality cores have a surprisingly human behavior. If they aren't chanting Madness Mantra, that is.
- Wheatley, despite being literally a ball, has a very developed personality.
- Metal Gear Mk. II from Snatcher has a very cute, emotional personality; is capable of enjoying food, forgetting to perform tasks that it intended to do, and even having orgasms - and looks like a scaled-down version of the bipedal walking tank with his name.
- Robo-Ky from Guilty Gear XX, particularly in Accent Core Plus, besides his ridiculously Robo Speak vocabulary, has a very Jerkass personality, an identity complex involving Ky Kiske (whom he was based on), and quite the libido.
- Blitzcrank from League of Legends is a huge steam golem who possesses free will. Blitzcrank became a very popular celebrity in the city of his creation, to the point that when he petitioned for personal autonomy he received overwhelming public support. It only took a few weeks for the government to recognize him as an independent sentient being. He joined the League to distance himself from the controversy brought about by his creation. His peers are more at ease around him than they are around Orianna (see above) since there is no doubt that Blitzcrank is a living being. Despite their differences, the two are friends.
- In Fallout 4, this applies to all the clearly robotic companions: Curie and Codsworth are Mr. Handy robots, floating spheres with three eyes and three arms, while Nick Valentine is late-model Gen-2 synthnote , fundamentally humanoid but with gray skin, mechanical eyes, and chunks of his face missing to reveal wiring beneath. They're also three of the most consistently good and decent individuals you'll meet in the Wastelands. Curie is even a romantic option, albeit only after being uploaded to a gynoid synth body. Codsworth and Curie appear to be Mr. Handy/Ms. Nanny robots with higher-end robot brains, as many other such robots of the same model series are less intelligent than them.
- Pretty much any of the Robots from Gunnerkrigg Court. The only known exception are the TicTocs, which look and act like birds.
- The planet Jean in Freefall is being terraformed and overseen by half a billion robots, many of whom are running sophisticated neural nets that let them develop human-like intelligence and personalities. Enter Sawtooth Rivergrinder, the robot shaped like a giant beetle who engineers waterways for a living and cosplays as Sherlock Homes for fun.
- The more advanced clanks from Girl Genius often have complex personalities, like the Ax-Crazy Castle Heterodyne or Anevka Sturmvoraus. Agatha's 'dingbots' go so far as to be Sparks.
- The Chee of Animorphs .They look mechanical without their holograms, but act human. Turn on the hologram, though, and no one can tell the difference, meaning they usually both look and act human.
- Tony Stark's robot helpers in the Iron Man movies are plain mechanical arms with no dialogue, a few sound effects, and minimal expressiveness. They get most of their character from how Stark interacts with them.
- Al and Sulla from O Human Star both look and act completely human. Brendan's Gimel 75 butler plays it straight though; he looks robotic but acts fairly human.
- Comprehensively averted in Mega Man, where most of the named robots act pretty human, but especially the most human-like ones, who tend to be protagonists and major characters - Mega Man, X and Zero are the most prominent (in that they have their own series), but Proto Man and Bass aren't exactly coldly logical themselves.