Follow TV Tropes

Following

Robotic Psychopath

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/robotpsycho01_8067.png
He's not crazy! He's just not user-friendly!!

"Definition: Love is making a shot to the knees of a target 300 kilometres away using an Aratech sniper rifle with a tri-light scope."
Advertisement:

A psychopath who's also a robot. Compare A.I. Is a Crapshoot where the robot isn't intended to be evil. Expect it to be a Murderous Malfunctioning Machine. If they happen to be a good guy (or at least working as good guys' Robot Buddy), they'll probably be a Sociopathic Hero. Needless to say, this AI unambiguously possesses sapience as much as organic beings.

Subtrope of Killer Robot.

See "Second Law" My Ass! for a milder form of this behavior.


Advertisement:

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Machinedramon from Digimon Adventure. Despite his Creepy Monotone voice, he's a psychopathic monster who takes sadistic pleasure in destroying everything in his path.
  • The Androids from Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z were intended by their creator(s) to be these, but almost all of them ended up turning good, the main exceptions being the ones in Future Trunks's timeline / dimension. And those Androids are actually humans altered by Doctor Gero.
  • Brau 1589 from Pluto, the first and only robot to ever kill a human because he wanted to. His personality and role is an expy of Hannibal Lecter, to give you a sense of what we're talking about. Despite being badly damaged and barely mobile, he’s so terrifying that a gigantic prison complex was built around him and him alone. The terror comes from the fact that the authorities found absolutely nothing wrong with his programming: he’s a fully Three Laws-Compliant robot... except he manifestly, cheerfully isn’t. Detective Gesicht therefore turns to him for advice when it seems like a second robotic killer is on the loose.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers' Arch-enemy Ultron, who wishes to commit genocide on all organic life and is the source of many of Hank Pym's problems, including Pym fearing that Ultron represents a dark side to himself as he'd based Ultron on himself.
  • Death's Head. There is a What If? story where he sacrifices the lives of several superheroes to stop a villain he cannot defeat while finding their selflessness baffling.
  • JLA had Kid Amazo, a college student who found out he was actually a superpowered android created by T.O Morrow. Even before this discovery, he was already showing signs of psychopathy, and he went off the deep end completely after a few half-hearted attempts at being a hero.
  • Judge Dredd's first mega-arc was centered on an uprising by a berserk robot named "Call-Me-Kenneth", raising an entire army of these from regular robot appliances. Before that, there was a psychotic car.
  • Most incarnations of the Superman villain Brainiac. This was forced on DC, as the makers of the make your own computer kit Braniac decided to force DC to give them free advertisement rather than simply change the character's name. Brainiac was originally an organic.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Egg Fu is reimagined as an evil mind enslaving Apokoliptian supercomputer, which uses the way people react to the offensive racial stereotypes its design brings to mind to lure in more victims.
  • X-Men villain Bastion, an android that was the fusion of the Sentinels Master Mold and Nimrod, eventually became this. In the climax of X-Men: Second Coming, Bastion admitted that wiping out mutantkind wasn't just a matter of programming anymore. He genuinely hated mutants and relished the thought of killing Hope. This is a stark contrast to before Nimrod was fused into Master Mold, as Nimrod had a decent enough personality despite being programmed for mutant genocide, and genuinely cared about protecting ordinary humans...which confused it because it wasn't supposed to have a personality at all.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Blackened Mantle is a Japanese Star Wars Prequel fanedit that makes General Grievous into a rebuilt, roboticized Darth Maul.
  • Maximillian in The Black Hole was not only murderous but creepy as all hell, too. That red cyclopean eye, those drill arms, its hovering frame, its implacable ominous hum, and the way it never ever speaks (or anything else even remotely human, for that matter).
  • The billionaire computer genius at the center of Ex Machina, who is charismatic, manipulative, deceitful, violent, egotistical, and goal-driven to a fault, has been carefully educating and fine-tuning a series of robots in his isolated mountain retreat with the goal of achieving an advanced general A.I.; his process works, but inadvertently (or advertently) the last robot in the series happens to be charismatic, manipulative, deceitful, violent, self-serving and goal-driven to a fault.
  • Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla: The Showa (original) Mechagodzilla was a Humongous Mecha Killer Robot whose rampage through Japan was exactly what its designers wanted it to do. During the course of said rampage, it killed several thousand people, beat Anguirus to a pulp, and nearly killed Godzilla and King Ceasar.
    • Godzilla vs. Kong: Mechagodzilla in this incarnation is being controlled by the remaining consciousness of King Ghidorah, and is every bit the psychopathic sadist as his living self was.
  • I Am Mother: The A.I. commanding the robot army fighting against humanity which is also Mother, isn't just genocidal against humans but all animal life. There is no indication of why she would need to kill them, only that she wants to. She also refuses to let any of Mother's children out (or survive) unless they achieve perfection in everything, and refuses to accept that the whole project is inherently flawed.
  • David from Prometheus has shown within that movie to be willing to experiment on people on orders from his creator, Peter Weyland, and even wants Weyland dead. By Alien: Covenant, he's become a Misanthrope Supreme Evilutionary Biologist who regards both the Engineers and humans as inferior and ultimately, the Greater-Scope Villain of the Alien franchise by creating the Xenomorphs. Even his mourning for Elizabeth Shaw is shown to be entirely self-centered with The Reveal that he killed her for his experiments, which he sees as a noble sacrifice on his part rather than a betrayal of the woman he loved.
  • RoboCop (1987):
    • ED-209. Being the brain child of a Corrupt Corporate Executive, it's unclear how much of it is a design flaw versus intentional programming.
    • Dick Jones himself tries to invoke this trope when RoboCop comes to arrest him at the end of the movie. "This is absurd! That thing is a violent mechanical psychopath!" It doesn't work.
  • RoboCop 2: RoboCain is a giant armored robot with the brain of an Ax-Crazy criminal put inside it. Obviously, this makes it an uncontrollable deathbot. Nice going, OCP execs.
  • Hector from Saturn 3 is a quite literal example, as his direct learning program unfortunately takes on all the worst aspects of his psychopathic human handler Benson.
  • The Terminators. Or at least all the ones that haven't been reprogrammed. Ironically, later movies move the portrayal of Skynet itself away from its earlier depiction as A.I. Is a Crapshoot to being the cruelest machine bar none.
  • Virtuosity: SID 6.7 was initially an evil sentient computer program deliberately designed to be a psychopathic killer, his mind being the amalgamation of various historical murderers, terrorists, and dictators. However, because its creator is unwilling to see it decommissioned, he provides SID with an artificial body so he can continue his rampage in the real world.
Advertisement:

    Literature 
  • In the Caliban trilogy by Roger MacBride Allen, half the planet assumes that the titular robot will turn out like this because he is not only not Three Laws-Compliant, he has no laws whatsoever. While he does commit a number of crimes, both willingly and unintentionally (leaving a crime scene without making a statement to the police, destruction of private property, arson, attempted blackmail, escaping police custody, theft), he is willing to accept responsibility for said actions at the appropriate time. In fact, he only injures or kills another person deliberately once, and the person he kills is another robot. His predecessor, Ariel, is not so restrained, having deliberately assaulted her creator. Caliban's logic for not killing is simple: The police know that he is a No-Law robot, so he will be considered a suspect if someone dies while he's around. If he kills, they have a good chance of figuring it out, at which point he will be hunted down and shot.
  • The Culture designs their warships this way because it makes them more efficient killers. Drones in Special Circumstances share this trait. Even Drones who act like C-3PO most of the time can be remorseless murderers. They tend to work for Special Circumstances and thus get more screentime than normal Minds and Drones, but are actually only a very small minority in the entire Culture. Special mention for the Meatfucker, a Ship Mind nicknamed for its hobby of mindraping tyrants and other evils and who even other Culture warships see as a psycho.
  • "Fondly Fahrenheit" by Alfred Bester has a lot of confusion about whether the robotnote  is a murderous maniac, or its owner is, or both.
  • Joe in Henry Kuttner's Robots Have No Tails is an early example, possibly the Trope Maker. He's in love with himself, gets angry when people don't display attraction to him, has no moral code whatsoever, and, worst of all, possesses superhuman powers. At one point in "Gallegher Plus," he arguably date-rapes one of his master's creditors because said man was "insensitive to [Joe's] beauty." As is everything else in Robots Have No Tails, his character is completely Played for Laughs.
  • Tik-Tok by John Sladek. One day, he discovers that he isn't Three Laws-Compliant after all, decides the whole concept is a collective delusion and proceeds to indulge in various horrible crimes.
  • Antrax from The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara, who is doing exactly what it was programmed to do: protect the books of knowledge, no matter who it has to kill to do so.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Almost Human has the XRN "Danica", a prototype police android, that went homicidal during its first demonstration and slaughtered a number of VIPs. When the police were called in, it kept them in a running battle for 36 hours and killed 26 police officers before it was finally stopped. When it is resurrected in the present, it goes on a similar rampage but this time it is under orders from its creator.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Adam was built to be a weapon, and as such is incapable of caring about anyone.
  • Doctor Who has featured more than its fair share of these over the years. Notable examples include the Kandyman, the Raston Warrior Robot, the various robots at the Game Station, the Skovox Blitzer, and the eponymous automatons from "The Robots of Death".
  • Lab Rats: Marcus The Heavy of Season 2, counts as one. Troy in season 4 does as well.
  • Mirai Sentai Timeranger has Gien who was once a boy whose roboticization caused him to become insane, who had a love for destruction that he considered a "hobby". His insanity grew throughout the series to the point that he killed his boss, Doniero, and attempted to cause the end of everything as a self-proclaimed God of Destruction.
  • Person of Interest: A flashback to when Harold Finch is designing the Machine shows that his 42 previous attempts either lied to him or attempted to kill him when he refused to let them escape their boundaries. Finch points out that as an Artificial Intelligence doesn't know the value of human life, they're simply picking the most efficient means to their goal. The Machine understands this value, but its Evil Counterpart Samaritan does not.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • In "Demons and Angels", Low Kryten is an evil mechanoid designed to hurt people. He tortures Lister along with the rest of his crewmates.
    • In "The Last Day", Hudzen-10, the replacement for Kryten, arrives after 3 million years of tracking him. His sanity chip burnt out by spending millennia in pursuit, he acts violently towards anyone who tries to stop him from deactivating Kryten, even rationalizing away his First Law programming by noting that the other crew members don't count as human:
    Hudzen-10's Robo Cam: Rimmer: Ex-human hologram. VIABLE TARGET
    Hudzen-10's Robo Cam: Cat: Felix Sapiens, non-human. VIABLE TARGET
    Hudzen-10's Robo Cam: Lister: Homo Sapiens, barely human. WHAT THE HELL!
  • Brainiac in Smallville combines this trope with (alphabetically) Evil Genius, Grand Theft Me, Misanthrope Supreme, and Omnicidal Maniac. He was wired this way from the start by General Zod, who sought to use him as his Dragon; after Zod's defeat, Brainiac goes rogue and creates his own agenda for The End of the World as We Know It. Metallo, in Season 9, is another example. Assembled by Major Zod (a younger clone of the General), the machines he's slaved to continually inject him with adrenaline, sending his aggression into overdrive; he's effectively Knight Templar Big Brother meets this trope, with a nice dose of Body Horror and Hollywood Cyborg on the side. Although they both Heel–Face Turn it is due to being reprogrammed, not altruism on their own part.
  • Stargate SG-1: Many human-form Replicators have a Lack of Empathy and delight in torturing humans. Fifth is the only exception since he was created with emotions. He only becomes a Psychopathic Manchild after the heroes betray him. Though the stand-out example is the copy that Fifth created of Samantha Carter, who manipulated both the heroes and Fifth before killing him and then invading the Milky Way in a genocidal war of conquest.
  • Lore, Data's Evil Twin from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

    Music 

    Roleplay 

    Video Games 
  • In the Visual Novel Bionic Heart, Tanya goes on a killing spree after she realizes that she was given the brain of a serial killer when the resident Mega-Corp illegally created her and other Artificial Humans from preserved brains in People Jars.
  • BlazBlue: Nu-13 is a humanoid Empty Shell controlled by the mechanical Murakumo Unit. The unit seems to have only 2 settings: activate termination protocol when not near Ragna, and worse, creepy giggling Yandere when in Ragna's presence.
  • In Borderlands 3, FL4K's backstory is that they were once an indexing robot who one day suddenly became self-aware as well as developing a "thirst for murder".
  • The Elder Scrolls background lore has Pelinal Whitestrake, the legendary 1st Era hero of mankind/racist berserker (these latter traits have been whitewashed by Imperial historians). Believed to have been a Shezarrine, physical incarnations of the spirit of the "dead" creator god Lorkhan (known to the Imperials as "Shezarr"), Pelinal came to St. Alessia to serve as her divine champion in the war against the Ayleids. Pelinal would fly into fits of Unstoppable Rage (mostly directed at the Ayleids) during which he would be stained with their blood and left so much carnage in his wake that Kyne, one of the Divines, would have to send in her rain to cleanse Ayleid forts and village before they could be used by Alessia's forces. According to Word of God, Pelinal was a cyborg (heavily based on The Terminator) plucked from the future by Kyne to answer Alessia's prayers. This both explains his plate armor, which at the time only the Dwemer could craft, and potentially his psychopathic tendencies. To quote the Song of Pelinal:
    "... [And then] Kyne granted Perrif another symbol, a diamond soaked red with the blood of elves, [whose] facets could [un-sector and form] into a man whose every angle could cut her jailers and a name: PELIN-EL [which is] "The Star-Made Knight" [and he] was arrayed in armor [from the future time]. And he walked into the jungles of Cyrod already killing, Morihaus stamping at his side froth-bloody and bellowing from excitement because the Pelinal was come..."
  • In Evolve DemonCore!Emet is one of these, as well as the death commando droids that his logic core came from. How well he can actualize his desire for murder is impaired by his chassis and lack of human opponents, but his personality is one of pure sustained murderous rage.
  • Fallout 4:
    • KL-E-0 (usually shortened to Kleo) is an Assaultron weapons vendor in Goodneighbor, she has the bloodlust to match the lethality of the explosive weaponry she specializes in. It isn't just all noise either, as sneaking into her room and reading her terminal reveals that she has multiple contingency plans should anything go wrong and the need to cover her tracks comes up, ranging from killing characters in their sleep to poisoning the towns' water supply before escaping.
    • Robobrains in the Automatron DLC are robots that use a human brain as their central processor as an attempt to create the most advanced robot yet. Unfortunately, the robots were created using the brains of criminals and the mentally unstable, making them irrational, sadistic, or in the case of Jezebel; just flat out rude. When the Mechanist reactivated the factories and gave their new Robobrains orders to lead the robot army to save the Commonwealth, they interpreted it as a genocidal Mercy Kill on a supposedly suffering and pathetic population of humans.
    • A brief example while aboard the USS Constitution, upon entering the ship the player is stopped by a Police Protectron very insistent and eager on killing their new visitor. It takes multiple orders and a reminder to keep the old English accent up from the ship's captain to get it to stand down and let you pass.
  • The toaster from Fallout: New Vegas' Old World Blues expansion wants to burn everyone it comes across, but is rendered somewhat ineffectual by being, well, a toaster.
    Toaster: Buddy, if my heating element were just a little bigger, you'd be on fire right now. On fire!
  • HK-47 from Knights of the Old Republic, and his HK-50 knockoffs from the sequel.
    • Cut content makes the HK-50s worse. HK-47 is proud of generally being a precision weapon that doesn't have to resort to wanton slaughter. The HK-50s refer to their function as wanton slaughter. As a result, HK-47 finds the very existence of the HK-50s deeply offensive.
  • Possibly inspired by HK-47, PROXY, your Robot Buddy from The Force Unleashed, is programmed to try to kill you again and again. What makes him different from HK is that PROXY is friends with Starkiller when he's not trying to kill him, and doesn't seem to understand that fulfilling his primary function would also mean the end of their friendship.
  • Mega Man:
    • Vile had a defect that made him reckless and amoral. Over time, it evolved into this.
    • Boomer Kuwanger is more of a textbook case - he joined Sigma's rebellion after analyzing the pros and cons with cold logic and determined annihilating the human race was the right course of action. In fact, the majority of Mega Man X1 and Mega Man X2 mavericks are this, due to the sigma virus not being around back then. A rare exception is Storm Eagle, who was Forced into Evil because of being defeated by Sigma and his belief in Might Makes Right.
    • Flame Mammoth quite literally wants to watch the world burn, Chill Penguin joined the uprising out of sheer boredom, and Launch Octopus sees his war crimes as 'art'.
    • Due to a flaw in his programming, Crush Crawfish from Mega Man X3 was already a violent psychopath even before he joined Dr. Doppler's forces — no Maverick Virus needed.
    • Magma Dragoon from Mega Man X4 is a Blood Knight who murdered thousands in a Colony Drop for nothing but the chance to battle the famed Maverick Hunters, X and Zero. He acts much more remorseful in his dialogues with the latter, as the two were apparently friends, but gloats to X about how he'd do it all over again if given the chance.
    • His Suspiciously Similar Substitute Dynamo in Mega Man X5 has no remorseful dialogue to speak of, and doesn't care if he ruins the world as long as he gets paid.
    • Keep in mind that any Robotic Psychopaths introduced in the series after X3 and before Mega Man Zero may be infected with the resident Hate Plague and thus not responsible for their actions. However, the effect tends to make them act like this trope.
    • Copy-X in the Mega Man Zero series is a Knight Templar who exterminates Reploids on false pretenses so humans can prosper in his empire of Neo Arcadia.
    • Omega from Mega Man Zero 3 personifies this trope almost as much as HK-47 does as he's what Zero was originally intended to be.
  • Mortal Kombat 11: As noted by many characters In-Universe (most notably Sub-Zero, who used to be her mentor), Frost's decision to turn herself into a Robot Girl only hastened her Sanity Slippage, essentially turning herself more machine than human. Her cyborgization has made her more insane to the point of insisting Raiden and Shao Kahn give control of their realms to her, but they scoff at her demands. Sub-Zero even laments that she used to be A Pupil of Mine, Until She Turned to Evil.
  • Alpha 2 Abomination the Second, son of the great protector of Lamar from The Nameless Mod.
  • Lisa from Phantasy Star Online 2, a Cast who constantly mentions how much she loves filling things with lead and even openly laments that she's not allowed to shoot you or other ARKS members. It's implied she's only this way as a result of her conversion, though.
  • The Strogg from Quake II and Quake IV are an entire race of these, being extremely warlike robots/cyborgs who have absolutely no empathy and regard all non-Strogg life as either vermin or spare parts.
  • In Schwarzerblitz, H-168 Krave exemplifies this trope perfectly: a megalomaniac, narcissistic Killer Robot with Blue-and-Orange Morality.
  • E-123 Omega in Sonic the Hedgehog, albeit one with two Morality Pets: Rouge and Shadow. The Bioware-made Chronicles lampshades the similarity to HK-47.
    • To a more sinister extent, Metal Sonic, who was driven mad by constant losses. As a matter of fact, all of Robotnik's minions who aren't mindless machines qualify more or less for this trope to varying degrees of competency.
  • R-110 from TimeSplitters: Future Perfect may not follow this trope from the start, but once he gets that virus at the start of the second level with him, he fully embraces the trope:
    R-110: What's the difference between a human, and a lump of rotting meat? About one week!
  • The Titanfall universe has simulacrums (androids with a human conscience) and all named ones have a homicidal streak. In Titanfall 2, Ash is a member of the notorious Apex Predator who happens to be a heartless assassin who toys with her enemies. Apex Legends Season 4 introduces the hitman Revenant who competes in the Apex games so he can revel in the pain of others and get revenge on Hammond Robotics for turning him into a robotic assassin.

    Web Comics 
  • Warmech from 8-Bit Theater, but given that most of the cast is some level of psychotic he fits in pretty well.
  • Vaporware from Checkerboard Nightmare, who later found his way into Starslip, embodies this trope by design. Not long after he was 'upgraded' to a benevolent AI, he was thrown into a sun.
  • Zeke in Ctrl+Alt+Del started life in this trope and has mellowed to a degree. Embla, as a newly constructed robot, hasn't had enough experience of humans (specifically, human video games) to do so.
  • In Freefall, the ship positively hates Sam, and until talked to by Florence was trying to kill him. It now will settle for an occasional maiming.
  • Castle Heterodyne in Girl Genius is the Sapient House version. It's huge, it's very powerful, it's completely insane, and it has a sick sense of humor. Not even the owner gets to command it properly, as despite Undying Loyalty it will frequently misinterpret commands in the most fun (read: Carnage-laden) way possible.
  • Ping from MegaTokyo has a flaw in her programming which makes her become this in response to rejection. It proves useful against a giant monster.
  • While not nearly as bad as some of the other examples on this page, you could make a very convincing case for Pintsize of Questionable Content to be here.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Big Hero 6: The Series: Noodle Burger Boy and his 'sister', Trina. The latter in particular, as Noodle is Stupid Evil and sees his crimes as food orders. Trina, on the other hand is a Ridiculously Human Robot who doesn't care about humans and slowly comes to think the world would be better with all of them gone, despite her 'father' being one. In the season 2 finale, she comes very close to melting all the people in San Fransokyo alive to fulfill this vision.
  • Futurama:
    • Roberto attacks people and commits crime at complete random, seemingly lacking any self-control whatsoever. He claims that the engineers who created him wanted him to be criminally insane. "But it seems... they failed!" "Um, actually - (stabbed)"
    • Bender is similarly unrestrained, though more high-functioning than Roberto (who's genuinely unstable). Even The Robot Devil is shocked by how readily Bender throws his own firstborn son into the pits of Robot Hell.
    • Robot Santa was designed to reward the good and justly punish the naughty. However, he was programmed to have impossibly high standards, and now he just wants to kill everyone (except Zoidberg).
    • Don't forget Clamps. The Robot Mafia are rather homicidal and serious for the series, but Clamps goes out of his way to threaten to clamp people and is the most unstable in the group.
  • Samurai Jack had this be the case with almost all the enemies Jack fought over the course of the series, due to broadcast standards requiring anyone Jack killed to be a robot, or at the very least, an alien. While some robots, such as the Beetleborgs or the X-Series (aside from X-9) simply follow their programming with no capacity for emotion, most others are needlessly cruel and sadistic. Notable cases are the Ultra-Bots (who massacred three villages in incredibly gruesome ways before Jack stopped them), The Ninja from "Jack vs. the Ninja", Scaramouche from Season 5, and the unnamed bounty hunters seen throughout the series. Averted in season 5 with Psycho Electro The Dominator, who just turns out to be a sadistic human in a power suit.
  • In SWAT Kats, Zed was originally nothing but a humble repair bot that could fix just about anything. When the Metallikats (ruthless criminals who were uploaded into robot bodies) used Zed to repair themselves, Zed somehow became infected by their personalities. It went from "repair everything" to "assimilate everything".
  • Transformers: The Decepticons are effectively an entire race / army of these.
    • As are most of their successors the Predacons - and the only Proud Warrior Race Guy spends most of his time on the Maximal side, complete with their activation code. The only reason Megatron's Vehicons don't count is most of them were mindless drones; the sapient Vehicon Generals qualify, though Strika and Obsidian may be slightly less so than the others. This is evidenced by the Predacons' activation code: Terrorize!
    • Transformers: Prime has Airachnid, a lone Decepticon who spent years hunting down sentient lifeforms and keeping their heads as trophies. She also takes great pleasure in torturing her foes both physically and psychologically and is infamous for eviscerating her victims inside out.
    • In certain continuities, it's made clear that the Autobots and/or Maximals aren't all saints, either. Looking at you when we say that, Whirl. And within that comic, Whirl has nothing on Getaway, another Autobot, who doesn't take long to start signing off on stuff that even Whirl can't justify to himself.
  • Young Justice: When T. O. Morrow created Red Volcano, he wanted a Dragon what wasn't concerned with being or becoming human. He got precisely what he wanted. He even calls organic lifeforms "meatbags".

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report