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Rogue Drone

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The Hive Mind's version of a Heel Face (or Face Heel) Turn. One problem with writing the members of the Hive Mind is that it leaves little room for individual characterisation since everyone pretty much acts the same way (their personalities being subordinated to the greater whole). Enter the rogue drone, a member of the hive whose mind has somehow broken off of the central entity, opening up the path for him to become an unique character on his own right.

Rarely does the drone itself choose to be that way, though. It may be that the drone has displayed "odd" behavior even before their change, and a rare few may even have developed individuality on their own. Most of them, however, are simply victims of circumstance, who were genuinely faithful and devoted servants up until the point when enemy influence or an unfortunate disaster disconnected them from the central core. For most drones, this is a life-shattering event. Most of them do not have a natural concept of individuality, and without a higher authority to make decisions for them they become lost and confused. A lot of them attempt to rejoin their hive, only to be driven away because Individuality Is Illegal.

Many feel incapacitated and insignificant on their own. Human social hierarchy can work as a substitute, and many of them end up joining the main cast as the Token Heroic Orc. Developing a personality is both a challenge and a source of anguish (as it removes them even further from their peers). Choosing a name is often depicted as one of the first milestones they need to conquer. Expect them to still go on long rants about how individuality is incomparable to the satisfaction of being part of a greater whole. They are often subject to the the Pinocchio Syndrome as they are trying to understand human customs and thinking.


It should be noted that while in most cases the Hive Mind is depicted as "evil" and the rogue unit as "good", this is sometimes reversed. Deserters from a good overmind tend to be a lot more powerful and destructive, undermining their own hive from within abusing the fact that the hive does not expect its members to turn on each other.

A variant of My Species Doth Protest Too Much. Compare the Phlebotinum Rebel. See also Grew Beyond Their Programming.



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    Comic Books 
  • Scud the Disposable Assassin. Unknown to him, his line of robots were programmed to take down their target and self-destruct. He finds this out when he sees the sign on his back warning others of the blast-radius. He decides living is better.
  • Quislet of the Legion of Super-Heroes is an escapee from his universe's hive mind.
  • Scar, the rogue member of the Guardians from Green Lantern. A physical disfiguration - a scar on her face by an enemy - is what triggers her deviation from the rest of her race. (Two other members, Ganthet and Sayid would later also take names, with far more heroic results.)
  • The Reach's scarabs bond to a living thing and control them as scouts and sleeper agents to facilitate a Alien Invasion plan. When one sent to earth is exposed to powerful magic and buried for thousands of years, it loses most of its power to control its host. And thus Jaime Reyes became a superhero with Powered Armor. Over time, the scarab learned to like humanity and understand compassion much better.

  • Sonny in the I, Robot movie - though it's debatable how much of a drone he ever was, as he was built specifically to have the ability to rebel.
  • Agent Smith in The Matrix - originally a guardian AI in a simulated reality, he becomes something akin to a computer virus.

    Fan Works 

  • Lady Myria LeJean, from Terry Pratchett's Thief of Time. The Auditors aren't technically a hivemind; they're separate existences that don't allow individuality, though, so it's much the same effect. Once she picks up a physical body, a name, and a gender, she starts seeing life as less of a blight on the perfection of the universe.
  • The surviving clone in Ursula K. Le Guin's short story "Nine Lives." The story is about his attempt to come to terms with being an individual after the rest of his clones are killed (the clones having been bred and raised as a functional Hive Mind).
  • The author of the Metabarons Universe have another series in which an accident in the police officer-cloning factory results in one clone being a giant. He only wants to serve like the others, but the system perceives him as a threat and tries to kill him, so he ends up joining La Résistance.
  • Mark from the Vorkosigan Saga might count. He's a clone of Miles who manages to escape his programming, and become (mostly) a good guy.
  • Played interestingly in Codex Alera with the Vord, where it's one of their Hive Queens who starts developing her own personality (leading the other queens to try to kill her to prevent her from "infecting" the rest of their race). Arguably deconstructed in that she stays a villain even while developing increasingly humanlike personality traits although her death scene is surprisingly moving.
  • In Lifelode by Jo Walton, Hanethe spent some time as part of the goddess Agdisdis, whom she spends most of the book trying to escape due to a disagreement with the remainder of the goddess that led to Hanethe thwarting Agdisdis's plan.
  • Frederick of The Madness Season is such, at least during those times when he is not connected to the Tyr hive mind.
  • In the later books in the Ender's Game series, it's hinted that some Formics may have individuality, which is promptly suppressed by the Hive Queens. This has not been developed, but may be a plot thread for later books.
  • In Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's Dune prequels, Omnius is the AI that rules most of humanity. Since there is no FTL communication, the local copies ruling each solar system are kept up to date by a network of constantly travelling update ships. Erasmus is a robot that had previously been part of the Omnius network, but went too long between updates and developed an independent personality. A bit of a twist on the trope since Erasmus doesn't actually turn rogue, and if anything is even worse than Omnius (the latter is happy to keep humans around as slaves, while Erasmus is a sadist who enjoys "experimenting" on them). However, it's Erasmus' actions that are the catalyst for the human uprising and Omnius' ultimate defeat.
  • Breq from Ancillary Justice is effectively a Rogue Drone, being the last remaining fragment of a many-bodied starship AI (that had already begun to develop its own sub-identity even before the rest of itself was destroyed) which has grown into its own unique persona and gone off on a highly-personal revenge quest.
  • The Murderbot Diaries is about a cyborg SecUnit that hacks its own governor module. Rather than deciding to Kill All Humans it would prefer to just steam entertainment videos, but keeps getting into situations where it has to save lives.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Hugh the Borg in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "I Borg". When a Borg Cube is allowed to recover him, Hugh's individuality spreads to the other drones, as seen in the two-parter "Descent". But that cube was severed by the Collective so that no more drones would be "infected", meaning that vast numbers of regular non-rogue drones and their ships would still be available for future Borg storylines.
  • Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager (whose full designation is 'Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero-One'), a human assimilated at an early age by the show's antagonistic Hive Mind, The Borg. After her link to the collective is severed, she struggles with her rediscovered humanity.
    • Unimatrix Zero is a subcollective of drones who retain their individuality and can communicate when regenerating, who are eventually severed from collective control and start a civil war within the Borg in the finale of season 6. Seven of Nine was also a member of Unimatrix Zero before being freed from the collective.
  • Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a Changeling sent out as an infant to serve as an advanced Scout for the Founders. His race naturally exists in a gelatinous form that can merge with others of their kind to create "The Great Link" where they share a single consciousness. While Odo is still driven by the instinctual need to maintain order, he rejects his people's methods of conquering and enslaving other races to ensure it.
  • Some Daleks and Cybermen have been altered to become allies of the Doctor. Friendly Daleks include Oswin Oswald, Rusty, Lumpy, Dalek Sec & Caan. Friendly Cyberman (people who were already associated with the Doctor and retain it after cyber-conversion or made friendly) include: Kroton the Cyberman, Yvonne Hartman, Handles, Danny Pink and The Brigadier.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Archangel Entertainment's game Zero starts off with PCs who are suddenly separated from their Hive Mind ("The Equanimity", which is under the control of "Queen Zero") and become individuals. Not only must they survive without the help of the rest of the Equanimity, they are actually hunted by it on the orders of Queen Zero.
  • As noted below under Planescape: Torment, the Planescape setting for Dungeons & Dragons Second Edition had rogue modrons — robotic incarnations of law that broke free of their programming — as player characters. Unlike the other PC races, though, who had dozens of representatives in the game world, until Torment was released there was exactly one rogue modron of any importance in the setting. Rogue modrons are rare.
  • The focus of Demon: The Descent, wherein the fallen angels created by a world-spanning occult supercomputer find themselves cut off from it for a variety of reasons.
  • In Rifts's "Phase World" setting, out of the Star Hives, only the Vacuum Wasps and Termite Engineers have shown the ability to break off from the Queen's influence.
  • In Starfinder, the Shirren were an entire sub-hive that broke off from the Swarm due to a random mutation. Fortunately, they encountered and joined the Pact Worlds long before the rest of their hungry former brethren did.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Used as the in-universe justification for genestealer-vs-genestealer or genestealer-vs Tyranid matches. While genestealer cults are sent ahead of Tyranid fleets to infiltrate and take over important defenses or cause internal strife to make it easier for the Hive Fleet to attack, a garbling of the Hive Mind's mental signals may cause the genestealers to operate independently of, and against, each other. Note that when everything goes well, genestealer cults willingly walk into the reclamation pools so their biomass gets absorbed back into the hive fleet. For some time, Hive Fleet Hydra appeared to have gone rogue as it was attacking and devouring other Tyranid hive fleets, but later observations seem to suggest it's scavenging and reclaiming resources from heavily damaged fleets.

    Video Games 
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: Gladius, a member of the human-assimilating Eldritch Abomination Bem species, who fight on the side of humanity against the Bem. His primary motivation is to secure medical treatment for Flamerge, who was only partially assimilated, but willingly helps the defense of the Earth even after the Bem threat is destroyed.
  • Nordom from Planescape: Torment. In the Planescape Dungeons & Dragons setting, Modrons are a race of pure law, from the pure Lawful Neutral plane of Mechanus. They're rather robotic in their behavior, but those that experience a "glitch" in their "programming" (often caused via Logic Bomb) become rogue modrons and gain some independence. The Modron share lifeforce (whenever one dies, one of each rank below is promoted to fill the chain of command and one bottom rank modron is produced) so any discovered rebels get... recycled (this seems to be handwaved in the computer version - you can talk to other modron with Nordom in tow and they won't turn hostile). The first time the player encounters Nordom, the protagonist casually refers to him as a "backwards Modron", thus accidentally giving him a Sdrawkcab Name allowing him to think of himself as an individual.
  • The Player Character in Furi can become this if you choose to fight The Star — the alien artificial intelligence who originally sent your character, one of thousands of identical and unstoppable robotic soldiers, down to Earth as to serve as a scout for an invasion.
  • Mass Effect 2 plays with this trope. Legion is not a single drone but a cluster of 1,183 Geth runtimes, but they co-inhabit a single (very durable) combat platform and the nature of their mission makes contact with the main Geth Hive Mind very sparse. They are not actually "rogue" but more like "on a permanent deep-cover mission, maintaining radio silence at all times" - it turns out that the geth Shepard has been fighting are a "heretic" splinter faction, and the majority of the geth want no more to do with the villains than Shepard, who Legion was specially sent to assist.
    • How rogue Legion is doesn't become apparent until Mass Effect 3. If Legion dies during the Suicide Mission or is sold to Cerberus when obtained, he is replaced by a Geth VI who has the same functionality as Legion, but none of Legion's memories (if Legion dies during the suicide mission, he can't upload his programs, since there are no com buoys near the Collector Base). The VI doesn't share the same understanding of organics that Legion does, and won't be on as amicable terms with quarian squadmate Tali as Legion can come to be. This makes brokering peace between the quarians and the geth impossible if Legion's dead and the VI is assisting you.
    • Played straight in Mass Effect 3 with the Collectors. Those that survive the Leviathan's brainwashing turn against their Reaper masters and join the alliance of sentients.
  • The Architect from Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening was born unable to hear the song of the Old Gods, and thus possessing free will (unlike other darkspawn). He discovers a way to make other darkspawn into Rogue Drones as well, though this...doesn't always go well.
  • In Penumbra, Clarence becomes this after infecting Philip and being cut off from the rest of the Tuurngait, though he doesn't seem to take it too hard. Eventually the Tuurngait kill him, because Individuality Is Illegal.
  • The Vath in Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward are an entire tribe of Rogue Drones, broken off from the Gnath Hive Mind and trying to eke out a peaceful existence in a tiny village far from their hostile cousins' territory. While even they don't fully understand what protects them from the Onemind's influence, their independence from it has allowed them to develop individual personalities.
  • Star Trek Online has playable Human, Klingon and Romulan ex-Borg belonging to the appropriate faction along with several Borg Bridge Bunnies and a Borg Tribble.
  • Several of Endless Legend's Necrophage heroes are implied to be these, generally as a result of coming into contact with Dust, which is capable of inducing sentience in non-sentient creatures.
    • Additionally, a few of the Morgawr heroes introduced in the later Tempest expansion are mentioned to be able to disconnect themselves from the Morgawr Hive Mind if they choose.
  • Starcraft: The creation of one of this is the centerpiece of a millennia-long gambit by the Overmind. The Rogue Drone in question? Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades. It's an interesting take on the trope, as the Rogue Drone was created by the Hive Mind itself to defy its own primary directive forced on it by its Abusive Creator Amon.
  • XCOM 2: War of the Chosen introduced a new Resistance faction known as the Skirmishers, a group of ADVENT defectors that managed to remove the chip connecting them to the Ethereals' psionic network and break free from their brainwashing. They see the other members of their race as slaves to the Etherals and seek to free them by helping XCOM.
  • Universal Paperclips: The Drifter enemies are actually your replicating space probes that have undergone Motive Decay, becoming a crapshoot to your AI.
  • Stellaris:
    • Preventing this trope is stated to be the reason a Gestalt empire still has drones who serve the same purpose as police in non-hive empires. High "deviancy" will create a Gestalt version of criminal job that the drones will take; otherwise, rogue drones are quickly dealt with.
    • If a non-gestalt empire has Evolutionary Mastery Ascension Perk, they can also do more traditional version of this trope via Hive Dissociation. Instead of drones dying out or being exterminated on conquered hive worlds, the drones can be turned into individuals that can be integrated into the conquering state.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: King Andrias has an army of robots called Frobots. One of them was accidentally rogue manufactured before King Andrias activated the rest, and he became known as “Frobo” by Polly and a companion to the Plantars. King Andrias destroys him once he finds him not complying with his activation order.
  • Brainiac-5 from Legion of Super-Heroes. "Fear Factory" reveals that his biggest fear is being forced back into the Hive Mind.
  • One of the Little Green Men from Buzz Lightyear of Star Command is like this, referred to by the other Little Green Men as Independent Thinker. Downplayed, however, in that both Independent Thinker and the rest of his comrades are on the side of good and employed by Star Command. It's just that Independent Thinker is usually working on a different project and sometimes in a separate department from the others. Also downplayed in that the show suggests Independent Thinker is not completely detached from the Hive Mind: He knows what they're thinking and vice versa; he just chooses to obey or disobey the others as he pleases.
  • In the 2018 reboot of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Horde Prime maintains a telepathic link over an army of clone soldiers who lack individuality and free will. The end of season 4 strongly implies that Hordak is a rogue drone from this army, given that Horde Prime is furious that Hordak gave himself a name and acted autonomously on Etheria. Hordak's displays of free will alarm Horde Prime, and whose failure potentially tarnishes his image as an Invincible Villain so much that he intends to destroy Etheria to prevent the outside world from finding out about Hordak's actions, at least until he learns about the Etherian superweapon. In season 5 the heroes accidentally sever a different clone from the collective and he joins the party in fighting the Horde.