An artificial lifeform raises a human (or alien) child. The reasoning can be different each time. Sometimes the parents are absent, but still around, leaving the robot as their only friend. Other times, the parents are dead outright, leaving the robot to be the only parental figure the child has. Sometimes it's just how the society works, though this is usually a sign of a Dystopia.
Given that one of the suggested uses for the humanoid robots currently being developed is childcare, there is a possibility of this trope becoming Truth in Television in the not-too-distant future.
- There's a GEICO ad where a woman tries to save money by enrolling her children in a daycare run by robots. It does not go well.
- Astro Boy features the character Reno, a human boy who was raised by a troupe of circus robots after they found him as a baby in the same junkyard they were abandoned in. However, he has to continuously pretend he's a robot as well in order to avoid being taken away by the authorities.
- Shiki from EDENS ZERO was raised from childhood by the robotic attractions and employees at the Granbell Kingdom amusement park, with the one who first discovered him being his "grandfather", the Demon King. They were friendly with him and gave him a good home, but this meant he never really interacted with real humans until Rebecca came along. Once off-planet, he has trouble adjusting to talking and meeting with other people. The robots loved him so much that they pretended to turn against him to drive him offworld because their power supplies were nearly empty and they didn't want him to waste his life trying to repair them.
- The titular Age from Heroic Age was raised by the AI in the crashed ship he lived in. While it fits this trope, the result is more like Raised by Wolves, as the AI didn't have much to teach in the way of social interaction with other people.
- In Kurogane Communication, Haruka is raised by five robots: Spike, Trigger, Angela, Cleric, and Reeves.
- In Martian Successor Nadesico, Ruri was raised by a prerecorded program that was meant to be "the perfect parents". Also, her best friend was a robot.
- Happens multiple times in the future chapters of Phoenix. In Resurrection, the mass-production Robitas are often used as nannies, which leads to some nasty consequences when one is wrongfully accused of killing the human child it once looked after. Nostalgia, meanwhile, has what is probably the most twisted example of this trope. After her husband, who was the only other adult human on the small desert planet they bought with money from a bank heist dies, the protagonist, Romy goes into suspended animation and leaves her son to be raised by a robot until he comes of age so they can populate the planet. When she comes out her son has no memory of her and believes the robot to be his real mother. Life has a semi-example, where a little girl is being raised by her grandmother who is so old that she's become a full-body cyborg who looks like a Tin-Can Robot.
- In Plastic Memories, humans raised by Giftia are known as "Android Children". Being Ridiculously Human Robots with artificial souls and human-like personalities, they're able to do this without any problem... until they reach the end of their nine-year lifespan.
- Magnus Robot Fighter: Our hero was raised by the freewilled robot A-1, who trained him in robot fighting.
- Monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone from Nextwave had a robot babysitter built by her father named "Hate Mother". Hate Mother also had an iron maiden inside her, making her a disciplinary tool as well.
- Omega the Unknown kicks off with young James-Michael Starling's discovery that his "dead" human parents had been robots all along.
- Planet Terry: Terry was raised by a Life Ship after being left stranded in space as a newborn. Still, it's not a parental figure to him, so he spends the whole series searching for his real parents.
- In the Sillage prequel series Nävis, the title character is raised on a jungle planet by a robot. However, she can also apparently talk to the local animals and has a tiger-like creature for a friend, so it kinda overlaps with Wild Child.
- There's some Fanon floating around that Wilbur Robinson from Meet the Robinsons was primarily raised by the family robot Carl, due to Wilbur's parents Cornelius and Franny being a highly successful inventor and musician respectively. Since many of those same fans also believe that Cornelius had a paternal relationship with Carl during his early years, this comes off more as a mild Promotion to Parent.
- A number of Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfics have Data raising one or more children, although usually with a human (or other organic species) partner.
- In Mars Needs Moms, the female Martians are raised by disciplinary robots that are fueled by mothers from the planet Earth, hence their kidnapping.
- In "Modern Inventions", Donald Duck sees a robot nanny in an exhibition and decides to test her out by pretending to be a baby. It turns out that the robot is still a little buggy and treats him rather roughly.
- Inverted in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence with David, the little robot boy raised by humans.
- Battle Beyond the Stars: Nanelia touches Shad when he turns up on her space station, mistaking him for one of their androids, and is startled to find that he's warm-blooded.
Shad: Of course I'm warm; I'm organic. Haven't you ever seen an organic form?
Nanelia: No, except my father. There are only the androids.
- The Electric Grandmother has a robot grandmother taking the place of a dead human mother. The kids, after an initial adjustment period, turn out fine, and we see a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue that proves it.
- I Am Mother has a facility that stores countless frozen embryos, overseen by an AI that calls itself Mother whose job is to raise them and repopulate humanity in an After the End scenario. Naturally, the story takes some pretty dark turns. The AI had decided that humanity had become so corrupt that the only fix was to kill 'em all and start over under its own expert guidance.
- In Terminator Genisys, Sarah Connor is raised by a T-800 after her parents are murdered by another Terminator.
- In a couple of Philip K. Dick's stories, a totally sociopathic character is this due to robots replacing families.
- This is discussed in a short story by Spider Robinson in which a time traveler, interested in studying the nature of humans, travels through time to ask a wise man whether an experiment was ethical: kidnapping children otherwise doomed to die in order to have them raised by robots using a language stripped of all religious references to see if they develop religion. The catch? The intensely curious wise man doesn't get to know the outcome of the experiment if he says it was unethical to kidnap the doomed children.
Examples by title:
- All Tomorrows: The Star People's second attempt at colonizing the stars used robotic ships that would start producing and raising their colonists after arriving at their destination. It was a coin-toss as to whether or not the colonists would develop an Oedipus complex towards their "mothers."
- The Avatar Chronicles: Penelope, the main character of Edda, was raised by a sentient artificial intelligence being. From his virtual world, he is able to control the life support in the real world that keeps Penelope alive, and he raises her: her body is kept alive by his controlling the machines, and her mind is hooked up to the virtual reality equipment that puts her in Edda.
- Played with in Birthdays by Fred Saberhagen. A boy in hypersleep is awakened every year on his birthday for over sixty years. Each day, he visits and observes a small community of people raised by the ship, seeing them having grown a year each time. In the end, it turns out that his yearly "visits" are intended to teach him psychology, preparing him to raise the next generation of people who will actually settle the world being journeyed to.
- Pulp Magazine superhero Captain Future is raised and trained for the fight against evil by Tin-Can Robot Grag and Artificial Human Otho, creations of his murdered scientist parents (along with Brain in a Jar Simon Wright). This is used to justify his superhuman reflexes during hand-to-hand combat. The reconstruction novel Avengers of the Moon by Allen Steele has a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome moment when our hero finds this upbringing really hasn't prepared him for interacting with the opposite sex.
- Constance Verity Saves the World: Not being the most maternal of women, Lady Peril had her son reared by robot servants for some of his adolescence.
- The second story in the Heechee Saga series, Beyond the Blue Event Horizon, has Wan as the sole human survivor on an alien space station, raised by AIs simulating humans.
- In "I Sing the Body Electric" (sometimes also called "The Electric Grandmother"), by Ray Bradbury, a widower needs additional help in raising his children (particularly since his own mother died young), so, he sends for an android grandmother who turns out to be incredibly good at the job and astute at human psychology. The widower and two of the children quickly grow attached to the android and consider her part of the family. It's just the middle child, who is still grieving for her mother, whom "grandma" needs to win over.
- In the short science fiction story "The Island" by Peter Watts, the narrator wakes from cryosleep to meet a young engineer who'd been born on the ship and raised in isolation by the ship's sub-human AI.
- Hester Shaw from Mortal Engines was raised for several years by a Stalker named Shrike (think Doctor Who's Cybermen mixed with Rampancy-stage AI from Halo) after her parents were murdered. Actually, she gets worried that she is little more than a piece in his collection of doll children, and runs away, breaking his heart in the process. Throughout the series, Shrike is one of the few people who Hester shows genuine affection and care for.
- Robot Series:
- The central conflict in "Robbie" is Gloria's mother trying to eliminate Robbie, Gloria's mute Robot Buddy, for fear of her daughter coming out strange due to his influence. Gloria, on the other hand, wants to keep her best friend around, and is depressed/listless without him.
- This would eventually become the norm for Spacers, who tended to live on large private estates and treated procreation as a social duty rather than something desirable. On Solaria, the resident Spacers had become utterly averse to human contact of any kind, and delegated all child-rearing duties to robots.
- In Star Wars Legends, Han Solo and Princess Leia have a robot nanny for their children, when they aren't letting C-3P0 handle the task.
- Deconstructed in "The Veldt". A family's children spend so much time in a virtual-reality nursery, running simulations of the African wilderness and lions eating carcasses, that their parents become concerned and consult a child psychologist, who suggests they turn off the nursery and take the children to the countryside. The children beg for one last playtime in the nursery before they go, lock their parents in it, and have the virtual lions tear them apart, having grown to consider the nursery more important than their own parents.
- In Voyage from Yesteryear by James P. Hogan, a probe is sent to Alpha Centauri containing a genetic bank to escape an impending world war. The children are raised by robots in a Post-Scarcity Economy, so they end up forming a community where money and authoritarianism are meaningless. This causes problems when the authoritarian Earth governments established during the war decide to send an expedition to bring them back into the fold, leading to severe Culture Clash.
- Chikyuu Sentai Fiveman: The five heroes were raised by Arthur G-6, a robot build by their father, after they got seperated from their parents during an attack by the Galactic Empire Zone, and their parents were presumed dead afterwards.
- The sociopathic villain of the Doctor Who story "The Robots of Death" was raised by robots. Having more empathy for them than his fellow humans, he decides to start a Robot War.
- Technical Officer Jeffers from Hyperdrive was raised by a computer simulation of his dead father, until they got into a fight and he deleted the program.
- Zev Bellringer in Lexx was raised by malfunctioning robots after being sold to the wife bank on the planet B3K.
- Raised by Wolves (2020) is about a "seedship" type colony world where two androids named Father and Mother raise human children.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation
- In "The Offspring", Data creates a robot daughter and attempts to raise her. She actually surpasses Data in her ability to simulate humans, such as using contractions and briefly experiencing fear. She ends up "dying" in the end, from irreparable damage to her "brain".
- In "Hero Worship", Data ends up caring for an orphaned little boy for a while.
- This is revealed to be the case for DG in Tin Man after she was sent to Earth by her mother the Queen of OZ.
- The Twilight Zone (1959):
- Inverted in "The Lateness of the Hour". Jana Loren is a robot who was "raised" by humans, namely her creator Dr. William Loren and his wife. As they were unable to have children of their own, they programmed memories of a fictional childhood into her. She eventually discovers the truth when she realizes that the family album contains no photographs of her.
- In "I Sing the Body Electric", Mr. Rogers purchases a robotic grandmother from Facsimile Ltd. to raise his children Tom, Karen and Anne after the death of his wife.
- The Umbrella Academy (2019): Grace/Mom is robot designed by Reginald Hargreeves to care for the Umbrella Academy when they were children.
- One episode of Welcome To Paradox is about a facility where humans are raised by androids, and free humans from outside try to free them.
- This is the very premise of My Beloved Mother. The protagonist, Sinbell, is an orphan raised by a robotic mother and often dwells on his birth mother, whom he refused to believe have died, and repeatedly tries running away from home much to the chagrin of his robotic guardian. The epilogue flashback provides one hell of a Tear Jerker with The Reveal: Sinbell's birth mother gave up her life to save Sinbell when he was four years of age from a stray nuclear explosion, and her Dying Wish is for her mind to be transplanted into a robot's body for her to continue her motherly duties, making her a first-generation robot mother, which Sinbell is completely oblivious for most of his life.
- Steam Powered Giraffe has a ballad titled "Turn Back the Clock" in which Rabbit the robot struggles to accept her favorite little girl's growth through the phases of her life.
- The four people left of a Generation Ship in Earthsearch were raised by robots and two supercomputers called Angel One and Angel Two. The rest of the crew were killed by a meteoroid strike arranged by the Angels while the survivors were just infants, as the Angels wanted to raise a crew that was completely under their influence.
- One of the stories in Cerberus Daily News is about parents leaving their children with robot nannies. There's a debate on the effects it has on a child, and whether parents are neglecting their children or just simply don't have the time to be with them.
- Escha Malier from Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky kinda fits into this. While she did grew up with her real mother teaching her alchemy, Escha's mother died when Escha was still very young and her father, while alive, was too busy with his work to make time for her. Escha was instead raised by Clone, an automaton who has been close friends with the Malier family for generations.
- Shay from Broken Age was raised by his ship Bossa Nostra's AI. At the beginning of the game, he's starting to realize that his "mother" has been keeping secrets from him, and he longs to be free. It turns out that "mother" is his actual mother.
- There seems to be several cases of this in Detroit: Become Human, since many androids are housekeeper models whose duties often include caring for children. Most significantly, the character Kara is a general domestic android, but in particular, raises Alice more or less due to her Missing Mom and abusive drug addict dad. Subverted in the end when it is revealed that Alice is herself an android.
- Horizon Zero Dawn: The first generation of new humans, after the Earth was wiped clean of life, were raised by three robot personalities: A doctor (Healer), a nurturer (Mother), and a disciplinarian (Father). They did reasonably well, but the children ended up staying in their care for far longer than intended because a fourth personality intended to educate them and guide them into adulthood had been erased, and they were never designed to handle angry teenagers. The children viewed Father and Healer as Abusive Parents (Father wouldn't let them do anything and defended himself when they attacked, Healer did nothing to stop him), but had a more positive view of Mother. After the children left the Cradle facility and became the Nora tribe, the last lessons of Mother became central to their culture.
Teenage Girl: What will happen to you?
Mother: I will stay here, and sleep, and remember all of you.
Teenage Girl 2: What will happen to us?
Mother: You will be brave, and you will learn.
- Elvis from Miasma Chronicles is an orphan in a post-apocalyptic world whose caretaker is a robot named Diggs.
- Flora Reinhold from Professor Layton and the Curious Village fits this trope to a T. After Flora's mother died, her father had a robot version of her late mother built to make her happy. However, Flora was frightened of it. After her father died, the villagers took care of her, all of whom happen to be robots built to amuse her and keep her company.
- Zed, the Robot Maid of the SS Tetra in Puyo Puyo Tetris, acts as the surrogate father for the ship's navigator Ess, who lovingly calls him "Papa". He was actually built to serve this purpose by Ess's true father Ex, who couldn't raise her due to his work as the Keeper of Dimensions. Zed did such a good job at it that Ess legitimately believes Zed is her father and doesn't even recognize Ex (which Word of God states is not because of Ex's inability to be remembered, but because Ess is repressing her memories of him). It's a sore spot for him.
- The Sims series features Servos, Simbots and Plumbots (introduced respectively in The Sims 2: Open for Business, The Sims 3: Ambitions and The Sims 3: Into the Future). Since they are fully sapient and are for all intents and purposes robotic Sims, they can marry (either other robots or Sims) and adopt children and care for them just as well as organic Sims.
- Stellaris: One of the new robot star nation types introduced in Synthetic Dawn is the Rogue Servitors, effectively the end result of an organic species building robotic caretakers and servants and delegating the running of all aspects of their society to the machines to the point where the organics have been reduced to "bio-trophies" living out blissful lives in post-scarcity habitats maintained by the robots, having everything they could ever want except for their freedom. Not satisfied with merely subjecting their creators to this fate, they want to go out into space and do this with all organic life. Whether they're well-intentioned or not depends on your interpretation.
- Girl Genius:
- Agatha was raised by constructs, and Gil and Theo considered their construct caretaker to be like a parent.
- The old Heterodynes (before Agatha's grandmother put a stop to the practice) were primarily raised by a horrific Monster Clown clank.
- Exaggerated in Homestuck. Post-Scratch Dirk Strider was raised by robots... that he built himself.
- In Robotto Jukujo, when Tomo's real mom left, his dad ordered a Robot Mom to look after him and do the chores
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold: In "The Super-Batman of Planet X!", Tlano, the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, mentions that he was raised from childhood by his robot butler Alpha-Red.
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command has a less dramatic example: one episode features a human girl adopted by robot parents, but in this world, robots are sapient and emotive, so it's not really any weirder than, say, a white family adopting a black kid.
- Played for Laughs with the Nannybots manufactured by Mom's Friendly Robot Company.
"SLEEP, LITTLE DUMPLING. I HAVE REPLACED YOUR MOTHER."
- Bender attempts this in "The Cyber House Rules" when he adopts twelve kids from the "Orphanarium" where Leela grew up in an effort to get government stipends. Although he's a terrible parent and ultimately returns the orphans after finding out that they're costing him a lot more than he's receiving, all twelve of them adore "Daddy Bender," and he loves them.
Orphan: Our daddy's a giant toy!
- There's also the episode of Show Within a Show The Scary Door in which a lazy scientist builds a Do-Anything Robot and orders it to assume all his obligations. This naturally ends up with the robot taking over his entire life to the point of the scientist's human son recognizing the robot as his father.
- Played for Laughs with the Nannybots manufactured by Mom's Friendly Robot Company.
- Invader Zim:
- Irkens are so far past The Singularity that they are grown in factories. Zim loved the cold unfeeling robot arm that raised him.
- Dib and Gaz come pretty close — their dad, Professor Membrane, is such a Workaholic that he usually communicates with them through a floating screen, and at least some of the messages seem to be recordings.
- Rosie, the robotic nanny from The Jetsons.
- In Legion of Super Heroes (2006), Superman-X was cloned from Superman's DNA and raised by the robot(s) who created him.
- Implied with Entrapta in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, as a family portrait in her castle shows Entrapta with two robots in place of any biological parents.
- Sidekick: Eric is left alone to run amok with only Maxum Brain, a hyperintelligent computer, to keep him in check.
- Star vs. the Forces of Evil reveals that Miss Heinous was raised by a robot named "Saint Olga" after King Shastacan decided to replace the queen's illegitimate child for being half-monster. Living up to the Boarding School of Horrors named after her, Saint Olga was incredibly repressive and controlling, though she was apparently programmed to be that way.
- Gyrus Krinkle of Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!. He didn't grow up quite right.
- Larry 3000 from Time Squad acts as a maternal figure towards Otto, being the one who feeds him, clothes him, and, as revealed in the episode 'Ivan the Untrainable,' homeschools him. Buck's around, but isn't Otto's father and rarely gets parental, leaving Larry to be the one who has to take care of him.
- Zig-zagged with Sari from Transformers: Animated. She's a human raised by a human, who later loses her father to kidnapping and has to live with the Autobots in a warehouse until he is rescued. Then it's revealed that she's a techno-organic, which means that she was a robot raised by a human raised as a human later partly raised by robots.
- Transformers: Prime has a variation of this. At the start of the series, three of the Autobots are assigned a human child to watch out for and protect; Bumblebee with Raf, Bulkhead with Miko, and Arcee with Jack. While the three kids all have biological parents (or house parents, in Miko's case), they each form strong bonds with the Autobots over the course of the series (with Bulkhead serving as a father-figure for Miko, Arcee serving as a big sister for Jack, and Raf clearly viewing Bumblebee as an older sibling). Optimus Prime, naturally, serves as a father-figure to all of them (but that's hardly a surprise...).