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Scale of Scientific Sins

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"The Krells, in the insolence of their success, tried to usurp the power of God. And were destroyed."
— The Apocalyptic Log of C.X. Ostrow in the novelization of Forbidden Planet

In some fiction, science is a religion — an evil, godless religion that isn't just Bad and Wrong, but unethical by nature. And like all religions, it has sins — or, rather, "virtues". These are the sins that a Mad Scientist commits in his quests For Science!. If... no, when these are violated something will Go Horribly Wrong and the transgressor will receive karmic punishment in accordance to the sin, increasing in evil as the number rises. No exceptions.

Proud scientists will actively try to check off as many of these sins as they can as a proof of their scientific genius.

  1. Automation.
  2. Making something, anything, with potential applications.
  3. Genetic Engineering and Transhumanism in general
  4. Immortality when it doesn't revive the dead. (that's type 6)
  5. Creating Life.
  6. Cheating Death.
  7. Usurping God.

Despite the name, magic often considers these sins as well, the kind of deeds magicians are capable of but must never do. Some of these are Older Than Steam, but modern authors often also rely on them to explain why Reed Richards Is Useless by demonizing potential applications for his technology or powers.


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The First Sin of Automation


  • Dune: Humanity was enslaved by its own machines and outlawed anything approaching sentient machines on pain of death. In the setting's religion, this is an actual sin. "Thou shall not create a machine to the likeness of Man" is their main commandment. There is, however, nothing against making a human, or any other life form, in the likeness of a machine. This leads to Mentats and Ixian Organic Technology, among other things.
  • Council Wars: Creating new AIs is the only thing that is banned after a horrible war.
  • Isaac Asimov's Robot Series and Foundation Series combines sins 1, 2, 4 and 5 to produce his famous Three Laws and Zeroth Law Rebellion.
    • More a subversion than a straight example, since the immediate consequences tend to be minor growing pains on the way to something good, most of the issues are explicitly exceptions to the norm (where everything's going perfectly smoothly) and in the end the whole thing ends in humanity essentially raising the new form of life to adulthood without any continuing conflict (the war that kills earth is a matter of humans vs. other humans, the robots actually help us avoid extinction).
  • In Jack Williamson's novelette "With Folded Hands..." and its sequels, a lone inventor creates the "Humanoids", a race of super-powerful robots with the Prime Directive "to serve and obey and guard men from harm". Naturally, the Humanoids enslave humanity for our own good. (The Humanoids clearly believe that the part about "guarding men from harm" outweighs that bit about "obedience". They will "serve"—they're perfectly happy to bring you your Jell-O in a nice safe container, to the nice safe room in the nice safe house in the nice safe city, where nothing bad can happen to you.)

    Live-Action TV 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Iron Men bit humanity in the rear in the form of a galaxy-wide dark age. Ever since, building a machine with artificial intelligence is outlawed. This is gotten around with servitors: vat grown or mind wiped humans with cybernetic implants. As per the peace terms between The Emperor and the Tech-Priests of Mars, all AI creation is strictly forbidden. Of course, when the Horus Heresy kicks off and whole sectors of the Priesthood declare for the Warmaster, such promises made by your archenemy kind of fall by the wayside, leading to at least one purely AI war machine in the ranks of the traitors, almost certainly one of many.

    Video Games 
  • Mass Effect:
    • The quarians built the geth as a cheap labor force. If you talk to Tali, she will eventually reveal that her people panicked when their labor automata started asking existential questions ("Does this unit have a soul?") and tried to shut them all down; the geth responded with force, driving the entire quarian race from Rannoch to wander known space in their vast Migrant Fleet for the last three hundred years. Considering that there had been billions of quarians on Rannoch before their exile, while only 17 million are alive currently, the so-called "Morning War" was a genocide of epic proportions as well (despite the geth not even wanting to annihilate their creators). This incident prompted the Citadel Council to outlaw the development and use of artificial intelligence.
    • According to Legion, the geth considered it self-defense; they bear the quarians no real ill-will and have preserved Rannoch for the day when the quarians will return, repopulate their world, and live peacefully together. The remaining geth have no desire to interact with biological intelligence and remain behind the Perseus Veil. A minority of geth came to believe that Sovereign was akin to a deity and followed it with their worship and actions; those "heretic" geth are the ones that Commander Shepard fights throughout the series.
    • Despite the Council's laws against it, you encounter two rogue AI programs in just the first game — one which evolved from a casino-cheating program, and one built by your own bosses as a tactical tool. Cerberus steals the second one and it ends up working for you under her new name, EDI, and she's alright.
  • The Terrans in the X series are extremely paranoid after their own Terraformers went crazy after a bad software upgrade, gained sentience and began "terraforming" the Earth and any Terran ships in sight. Now the Terrans have a military group — the AGI Task Force — dedicated to eradicating AI's. Considering that the terraformers became the Xenon who spent the entire series terrorizing the commonwealth, they're quite correct.

    Web Original 
  • Orion's Arm has a lot of this:
    • Transhumans and Hyperturing A.I.s were capable of a great deal, but when one broke through to a higher level of intelligence it seized control of the solar system and largely evicted humans from earth. It wasn't actively malevolent however, and its actions were largely justified.
    • Averted by "Asimovecs" and "slaved" or "dedicated" A.I.s who are intrinsically subservient. In a slight twist, many of them were created by A.I.s. Given that subservience is built into the lowest levels of their psyche, "freeing" them is a very traumatic event and many of the freed minds will attempt to carry on what they were doing anyway.

The Second Sin of Hubris

    Anime & Manga 
  • Hellsing: Doctor, we all know of your vampire-conversion technology and how you think it will help humanity. Could you list, er, one positive benefit?


    Live-Action TV 
  • In Doctor Who, any exotic technology that fixes Earth's big problems by solving energy crises, eliminating air pollution, or giving us an effective non-Doctor defense against aliens is an alien plot to destroy us.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • To quote BioShock's Dr. Suchong "Adam is the canvas, Plasmids are the paint." Boy, did that ever Go Horribly Wrong. They tried to paint paradise, but thanks to Ryan's refusal to regulate the paint, they ended up creating a Hieronymus Bosch piece.
  • Dragon Age: "The Chantry teaches us that it was the hubris of men the one that brought the Darkspawn into the world. The mages sought to usurp heaven, but instead they destroyed it." That's also an (attempted) type seven according to the Chantry, since the mages were trying to usurp The Maker.
  • According to the Church of Yevon in Final Fantasy X, in the backstory Spirans relied on technology ("machina") to live proud and hedonistic lives, and Sin is their punishment, a monster attracted to technology. Later we learn that there is some political bias attached to this; Sin was a weapon created by Yevon get revenge on the technologically-advanced city of Bevelle, and later Yunalesca created the Church and its beliefs so that her people, her family and their old way of life, would be honored and preserved forever.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • COBRA tries to play God in the first six-part G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero mini-series by creating a weapon that controls the weather; when the weapon is sundered, the disasters it was creating are worsened.

The Third Sin of GE and Transhumanism

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Lyrical Nanoha, the creation of Artificial Mages is explicitly banned. This is one of the reasons why Jail Scaglietti, a Mad Scientist with a passion for biological manipulation, is considered an interdimensional criminal.
    • Interestingly, the TSAB only comes down hard on the people that built and commissioned artificial mages/cyborgs. The creations themselves are only punished if they're found to have been gleefully kicking dogs or something. Otherwise, they're treated same as any other person, with no limits on what they're allowed to do. Also interestingly, the majority of these created beings seem to turn out to ultimately be pretty nice people; turning out as well as they do when built and raised by insane women and/or mad scientists, one has to wonder how well off they'd be if the process WASN'T illegal and thus only used by Mad Scientist types.
    • It is heavily implied that the Belkans did such numerous times, with many cases going either horribly wrong or right, sometimes both simultaneously.
  • This is ultimately the goal of the Human Instrumentality Project in Neon Genesis Evangelion, and it is most certainly portrayed in a fairly negative light. Of course, the scientificity of this sin is somewhat questionable.
  • Aside from the ghouls, Hellsing has the Major's body. Schrödinger (Schroedinger) may and/or may not count.
  • This trope is extensively played with in Ghost in the Shell — the impact of extensive technical progress in the area of AI and cybernetics on society forms the premise of the series.
  • Franken Fran: No explanation needed here if you've read it, you were already nodding in agreement. If you haven't, well, These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Creating a chimera isn't necessarily bad on its own, but it is if you add humans into it as with Shou Tucker's experiments on his wife and later, daughter early in the series. It's unclear if his later chimeras, which are more humanlike and in less pain, carry the same stigma.
  • A Certain Magical Index's Academy City does this, changing regular old kids to superpowered individuals.

  • The Shadowrun universe books feature direct applications of 3.3 — magically active beings gradually lose their magic with increasing degree of cybernetics.
  • Sergey Lukyanenko's Линия Грёз and Императоры Иллюзий, set in the Master of Orion universe, feature cybernetics as the defining trait of the Meklon race. Humans who follow the Meklons, cyborgs (yet partially human) and the Mechanist Sect (striving to become fully cybernetic lifeforms) are depicted with different degrees of sanity. The protagonist notes that the Deus ex Machina immortality humanity has obtained is yet better than advancing mechanisation.
  • Dune: The Bene Gesserit have been attempting to create the Kwisatz Haderach in secret, as he would be their puppet like prophet to control mankind with all their skills and powers. They succeed, except for the "puppet" part. Paul Atreides and his son Leto do not like being controlled.
  • Honor Harrington: Genetic modification is somewhat frowned upon, and certain forms outright forbidden, ever since a bunch of Übermensch saw that they were "better" than humans — so they started a war that could have destroyed Earth.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Star Trek, human genetic engineering is banned, and most of the products of it are dangerously deranged.
    • This is a major point about the origins of KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!
    • The Dominion, the Federation's Evil Counterpart from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is basically a huge genetic engineering society. Jem'Hadar were created from nothing, Vorta bred from some other form; and it's stated that the Founders were once humanoids but genetically engineered themselves into shape shifters. It is even supposed that their close-mindedness is the price they paid for their physical abilities.
    • Also from DS9, Dr. Julian Bashir is a genetic augment who turned out relatively well. His case is sympathetic: he was a special needs kid before the augmentation and has a stable personality. To bring the point home, he visits his fellow augments in a couple of different episodes and while they all possess extreme intelligence like him, they also suffer from mental defects and/or personality disorders and are, regardless, banned from having meaningful careers... Then again, the only reason Dr. Bashir has a meaningful and otherwise legal career is that he lied about being a genetic augment. And the genetic augmentation is the exact reason Section 31 wants him for themselves.
    • The flaws are explicitly due to flaws in their black-market augmentations. It isn't a reason for the ban (which is explicitly just Khan), but a result of it.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Kit Pedler, a writer/scientific advisor for the series in 1966, sincerely believed that Cybernetics Eat Your Soul, and was worried that nobody would listen to his warnings, so he invented the Cybermen as a chilling tale of things to come. When Earth's twin planet Mondas drifts away from the Sun, the people turn to cyber-augmentation as a desperation move, he only way to save their race. But it doesn't matter why they did it; a sin against the natural order can only have one result, so they inevitably became soulless, emotionless automatons. Of course, this didn't come across in most stories; they were just scary, hard-to-kill bad guys who came up with insanely complicated and devious plots to convert everyone else into more Cybermen.
    • In the new series, the re-envisioned Cybermen are more straightforward Body Horror than Cybernetics Eat Your Soul. They're designed with "emotion inhibitor" chips from the start; without these, the realization of what they'd become would lead to head asplody. The creator of these new Cybermen is forced to become one earlier than he'd planned, but, other than that, there's no real penalty for tampering with the natural order.
    • The Daleks were a LEGO Genetics horror story. The Kaled people were being mutated by a millennium-long nuclear/biological/chemical war. One of their scientists, Davros, came up with (or stole) the brilliant idea of accelerating the mutations to see where they would finally end up. And, while at it, he couldn't pass up the opportunity to improve on his creations, making them stronger and more determined. In one version of the story, he was explicitly trying to turn the Kaled race into gods, based on a prophecy he'd read. In all versions, the result was the Daleks, whose sole motivation was to exterminate any lesser (i.e., non-Dalek) forms of life. Starting with Davros himself.
  • This is the entire focus of Orphan Black, with much of the plot being driven by the inhuman manipulations of a science group (much of the rest being driven by the religious fanatics opposed to them). In some ways, though, it's quite a subversion. The Dyad Institute's villain status comes not from their science necessarily, but from their objectification of human life, disregarding the clones' well-being and their very bodily autonomy for the sake of profit. It's their intention behind the human cloning, rather than the act of cloning itself, that drives them to villain status. In fact, some of the less predatorily capitalistic members of Dyad were occasionally portrayed in a good light, such as Delphine Cormier, Aldous Leekie and Ethan Duncan.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Primarchs and the Astartes. Roughly fifty-fifty split on the good-evil divide, but the bad fifty definitely left their mark.
    • The whole point of the Chaos. And, of course, the good ones are still xenocidal maniacs that have no qualms about also slaughtering huge amounts of humans if they consider them to be trouble.
  • The Shadowrun universe features different examples of this trope:
    • Genetically engineered animals.
    • Cybernetically enhanced animals.
    • Massive-scale human cybernetics. For the sake of balance Cybernetics Eat Your Soul — any mechanical and electronic modifications chip away at magic-defining character traits and at the character's humanity score. This includes the creation of cyberzombies. Those are not undead, but literally corpses walking by their artificial parts, to the extreme of an artificially alive brain in a weapon-grade android body.
    • The 4th Edition introduces bioware and genetic engineering for metahumans. They cause Essence loss but not as much as cyberware.
  • The Cyberpunk universe has its own problems with over using cybernetics: Cyberpsychosis. When a human adds too many augs, they eventually become more and more unhinged until they're more machine than man and become Cyber Psychos. Special police forces colloquially called "Cyber Psycho Squads", police that are almost Cyber Psychos themselves, detain these criminals to have their minds rebuilt into a more acceptable form. Some even become Cyber Psycho Cops after their prison time.

    Video Games 
  • BioShock: The gene-altering substance ADAM and the Plasmids and Gene Tonics that resulted from it. By themselves, they're not all bad, provided that the user doesn't splice ADAM too much and become addicted- or you're the main characters; however, the greed of both Fontaine and Ryan, coupled with the measures they were prepared to take to create a monopoly (The Little Sisters and the Big Daddies, both of which were horribly altered and mutilated for the sake of gathering ADAM) turns this into a straight example.
  • Many of the mooks (and some of the bosses) you face in Mother 3 are either unnatural crosses of animal species (e.g., Cattlesnake, Batangutan, Kangashark) or mechanised animals (e.g., Steel Mecharilla). They only exist because Porky deemed regular animals as uncool, and so had his Pigmask army to alter them genetically.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution focuses on this as its primary setting. Whether or not human augmentation is evil is up for the player to decide, but it does make the world worse to a degree.

  • The El Goonish Shive universe makes some sort of LEGO Genetics easy, given some of its non-human (but not alien) residents. Still, Project Lycanthrope starts up to make weird hybrids to go on missions and assassinate. Before America Saves the Day, though, the intended target (Damien) shows up, 'liberates' (read: enslaves) the results, and kills everyone else save one. Note that in an alternate universe, one of the Project Lycanthrope products is hinted to be the reason it's now ruled by an Evil Overlord.
  • Crimson Dark shows humanity's way from prosthetics to augmentation. While there are laws to prevent Ghost in the Shell scenarios, at least one side of the in-universe conflict employs literal cases of Cybernetics Eat Your Soul — technically dead human bodies, augmented and modified beyond recognition, held alive by said augmentations with conscience replaced by AI, referred in-universe as JAKs.

    Web Original 
  • Pretty much Jobe Wilkins' raison d'etre in the Whateley Universe. He has genetically engineered a synthetic Sidhe that is essentially a dark elf hottie. He has invented serums that can turn people into transhuman monsters... and he has used them on people who annoyed him. He has invented a serum that gives people strength, endurance, and healing abilities... by turning them into what amounts to feral orcs who are put to work in his father's mines.
  • Orion's Arm is largely made of Transhumanism and paints it in a mostly positive light, but it doesn't always go well. There are things called Blights and Perversities that occur when something bootstraps itself to vastly higher levels of intelligence and power and isn't mentally equipped for the results. Some powerful intelligences make "godseeds", things which can help mere mortals transcend themselves, and given the fairly poor odds of some of them functioning correctly it seems like these are some particularly cruel trick.
  • Our Fair City: This is seen in the second season when Dr. Herbert West, despite his amiable nature, releases a horde of zombies on Hartlife.

The Fourth Sin of Anti-Thanatosis

    Anime & Manga 
  • Hellsing: We don't know how you did it, but being seemingly human and the same age for over 50 years is quite an achievement, Doctor.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion gives us the Mass Production Evangelions.

  • Sergey Lukyanenko's Линия Грёз and Императоры Иллюзий, set in the Master of Orion universe, feature an explanation to the longevity of major human figures with the A-Than technology — the individual in question (not automatically human) receives a scan, most like a full-body checkpoint in gaming terms. Later memories are constantly transmitted to the company. On death, a certain signal is triggered, leading to the production of a new body, which retains the memories. This has some interesting connotations:
    • Recent memories can and will be used for surveillance purposes.
    • Faking the death triggered signal nets you a body in the "vegetable state". If the original dies afterwards, the previously "vegetable" body will nigh-instantly come to sentience. As Arthur, the A-Than Mega-Corp heir notes, the Church gave A-Than their blessing because they had "scientifically proven the existence of immortal souls".
    • Mind-wipe technology in one case produced 2 independent souls, who on encounter consider each other brothers. Their appearances and behaviour patterns make them for most ends and purposes identical twins. And actually clones of the A-Than owner, their alleged father.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Doctor Who episode "Mawdryn Undead" is a brilliant example. Stealing Time Lord regeneration technology to extend their lives leads to them constantly regenerating and mutating horribly, so they beg the Fifth Doctor to release them from their karmic hell.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Astartes are long-lived but usually die a glorious death in battle before old age becomes an issue; it's not established whether or not Space Marines are actually biologically immortal. Various Imperial nobles, Inquisitors and members of the Adeptus Mechanicus hierarchy survive an awful long time, and it is here that the problems are most pronounced.
    • The Necrontyr wanted immortal iron bodies to expend their livespan, and asked the C'tan (godlike beings feeding off stars) for their help. The result: a population of nigh-invincible, self-repairing, mindless automatons.

    Video Games 
  • BioShock, for a change, does not play this as a bad thing... directly, anyway. This is what allows the player, Jack, to respawn without problems. Of course, this technology was kept in the exclusive hands of Ryan and his family, a sign of his corruption.
  • In Cyberpunk 2077, Evil, Inc. Mega-Corp Arasaka devises a Brain Uploading program that they advertised as immortality for the uber-wealthy (and anyone unfortunate enough to wind up as one of their test subjects). Johnny Silverhand sees this as a cardinal sin, stating that they've found a way to deny people the right to die.
  • Jacob Crow in TimeSplitters Future Perfect creates the Timesplitters as part of an attempt to gain immortality.
  • Marquis DeSinge in Tales of Monkey Island.
  • The Dig has this and another example; interestingly, the sin with less scale came later. In their latest discovery, the Cocytan aliens found a way to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence to live as immortal energy beings, when their entire race ascends, they find that they are doomed to become mere expectators, unable to build or create anything; worse, they become unable to return, at least until the heroes arrive.

The Fifth Sin of Autogenesis

    Anime & Manga 
  • Father in Fullmetal Alchemist. The poor Xerxesians...
    • The Immortal Army was created to be the perfect weapon. They are very effective in battle but view all humans as food.
    • Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) has Homunculi, who score a 4.5 being both botched resurrections and attempts at creating life.
  • Hellsing has a backstory in which the Major is nearly killed during the battle of Berlin, but is found and made a cyborg by the Doktor. Not only that, but he's now pretty much immortal.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: The creation of Evas might be this, but how they are created is never properly explained.


  • Frankenstein — though debatable, since the Monster was created as a blank slate in the book. Although Frankenstein itself may not fully apply, the story did go on to spawn dozens of B movies that featured Mad Scientists attempting to resurrect people, keep body parts alive, create life from nothing, halt the aging process, etc. etc., usually with horrible results. The reason why things go wrong in these movies usually have more to do with man being punished for tampering in God's domain (or man being punished for using his Science for evildoing) than with any shortcomings on the part of the science itself.
  • In That Hideous Strength, the N.I.C.E. engages in several patently unethical projects, including using some sort of contrivance to keep alive the head of a previously deceased French convict.
  • In the backstory of the John Carter of Mars novel Synthetic Men of Mars, Ras Thavas has done this. As is par for the course, it proved to perhaps be ill-advised, which kicks off the actual story.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): "The Cylons were created by man..." To be fair, their situation is more similar to that of the geth. Plus, it was a plan of god(s) all along.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Primarchs and Astartes might qualify, the Imperium definitely created the Life Eater, and it's entirely possible, if not likely, that the Imperium has created much more.

    Video Games 
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine features this in its backstory. Joey Drew, who wanted people to see his cartoons in the same way he does, commissions the Ink Machine to create living versions of his characters, something that Thomas Connor thinks is "teetering on the edge of magic more than engineering". The first attempt at creating Bendy results in a soulless ink creature which Joey demands be locked up inside the studio (it escaped by the time you encounter it in-game), with no further attempts being made afterward.
  • BioShock, depending on how you want to look at it. Jack, a normal baby made into a fast-growing Tyke Bomb aimed at his father, sure did make his "creator" Fontaine regret doing so. Albeit, this because the child became a Phlebotinum Rebel against his villainous creators.
  • Tales of the Abyss hits about a 5.5 here. Fomicry — the replication of any physical form — is all well and good until you start using it on biologicals and creating clones, often imperfect clones. The first human replica ever created was flawed enough to be psychopathically insane and hugely powerful. Others fared less well, living short and torturous lives due to their "birth defects", or even being killed shortly after creation due to their imperfections.

  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! has four artificial characters — Molly, Golly, Jolly, and Roofus. Of those, three were produced accidentally, with only Golly being grown deliberately. The other three are very nice people, while Golly is far and away the most emotionally screwed up and potentially dangerous of the bunch.

    Web Original 
  • Orion's Arm has provolves and alife, and for the most part, they're no better or worse than any other sophont. The problem is that some of them feel that a mind that was engineered is intrinsically less flawed than a sentience than has evolved naturally. If they start to gain regional power, things are likely to go badly for humans in the area, because you can't have Reformation without a reformat...

    Western Animation 
  • The entire plot of the six-part G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero arc "Arise Serpentor Arise" involves Dr. Mindbender trying to emulate Frankenstein by splicing the DNA of historical figures to create a perfect leader. It doesn't turn out too well. He gets a leader, but Serpentor turns out as much a failure at leading COBRA as the Commander was.

The Sixth Sin of Resurrection

    Anime & Manga 
  • Project F of Lyrical Nanoha, which attempts to bring back the dead by creating a clone with the memories and personality of the original. As it's a subset of Artificial Mage research mentioned under Genetic Engineering, this is also banned by The Federation. Series Dark Magical Girl and ultimately Lancer Fate Testarossa was one of the products of this project, and the development of her own personality led to her mother, Precia, being absolutely horrible to her.
  • SEELE has a big problem with Gendou Ikari's apparent attempts at this in Neon Genesis Evangelion — mainly because it got in the way of their attempts.
  • Hellsing gets a 9 out of 10 for cheating death through the development of the vampire-conversion tech, gaining immortality (kind of), and creating a transhuman with the Major, and just as likely, Schrodinger. Also, for the failed attempt that is the SHE. Doc must be so proud.
  • This is the plot point in Fullmetal Alchemist. Any attempts to bring back the dead are bound to fail and anyone attempting it will lose a body part as a karmic (and ironic) punishment. But note that being forced to perform human transmutation against your will (as it happens to Colonel Mustang) does not save you from the punishment.
  • Doctor Hogback of One Piece was a famous surgeon who disappeared from the public eye to study an island full of zombies with the hope of figuring out how to achieve proper resurrection, but it turns out that he is helping to create said zombies. Chopper claims that he would have supported Hogback, no matter how many other people accused him of playing God, if he'd actually been bringing people back from the dead, but has lost all respect for Hogback upon learning that he's simply animating corpses to do his bidding.
  • Bleach: Mad Scientist Espada Szayelaporro sees scientific pursuit as seeking "perfection" which can only be achieved by finding a way to cheat death, something he believes he's achieved with his resurrection and therefore feels he's achieved the perfect form in science. Fellow Mad Scientist Captain Kurotsuchi strenuously disagrees with this requirement For Science! by proving Szayel hadn't quite succeeded in cheating death, after all.

  • Herbert West in Re-Animator has a serum that brings the dead back to life, which he uses on anything dead he comes across. He also makes a few interesting attempts at create new life, with varied results.

  • Sergey Lukyanenko's Линия Грёз and Императоры Иллюзий again. The A-Than technology is more accurately a buyable attempt on immortality by humans, but other species use their varieties of it as a single second chance or reward for outstanding merits.
    • One of the most dreaded punishments known to man is multiple death — you are resurrected to be killed by torture several times. Reserved for high treason and treason against humankind.
    • The A-Than Mega-Corp owner, whose power rivals the Emperor's, because his presence literally makes A-Than work, offers infinite life (as in unlimited resurrections on the house) as ultimate incentive and infinite death (as multiple death above, but done as long as the Mega-Corp stands, and that's in centuries) as ultimate punishment for his mercenaries.
  • Wild Cards:
    • Demise, a projecting telepath. Projects the memory of his own death to kill. Demise had drawn the Black Queen (in the setting's Super Power Lottery, 90% of those afflicted by the Mass Empowerment Event just die horribly) and was treated with the experimental Trump cure. He Came Back Wrong.
  • Herbert West–Reanimator ends with the title doctor being torn to pieces by a small army of his creations, though they take his head with them, and one of them is smart enough to reanimate the dead himself.
  • In the Gentleman Bastard books, the Bondsmagi — many of whom consider themselves as far above humans as humans are above livestock, with moral compasses to match — have horror stories of a fellow mage who tried this. The magical pollution from the attempt created a plague that ravaged a city, and the mage himself was shunted into a new body without his powers or his memories, though whether the latter was a case of Gone Horribly Wrong or Gone Horribly Right is uncertain.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: While future medical science is sophisticated enough that characters almost routinely come back from clinical death. However, some extreme attempts have fallen into this trope, such as Kira wanting her boyfriend, Vedek Bareil, to be rejuvenated by using artificial parts to replace decaying brain tissue in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Life Support". This is progressive, and further replacements leave him less and less Bajoran until he asks to be allowed to die.
  • The Goa'uld sarcophagus from Stargate SG-1 can repair any injury, and revive the recently dead, but repeated use is addictive, and damaging to the psyche, and may be a contributing factor in why the Goa'uld are Always Chaotic Evil — and being effectively immortal, they began eating their own offspring to prevent competition.
  • The resurrection gauntlets (the second, Weevil related one moreso than the original Risen Mitten) of Torchwood.
  • Averted and played straight in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Dawn revives their recently deceased mother while it is never seen it is implied it would have gone poorly. Buffy's resurrection on the other hand didn't have any major consequences except for the whole "opening up the opportunity that The First needed to destroy the Slayer line, and take over the world" thing.
    • Although being pulled out of Heaven is a bummer.
    • This concept was addressed in-universe when Willow tried to get Tara back after her death and was told that the reason why getting Buffy back was possible was that she died due to supernatural causes, while Tara (and Joyce) had both died normally.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Those who are interned in Space Marine Dreadnoughts aren't quite dead beforehand, but are certainly never the same again afterwards. It all depends on how close they were to death. Those who suffered brain damage tend to mistake people for others, suffer memory loss, and in general act like hollow imitations of the original person. Those who didn't have their brains affected are almost as normal as any other Space Marine (even if they are kind of slow on the uptake) Davian Thule for example.
    • The Necrons (or rather their Necrontyr precursors) mix this with number four and a Deal With The C'Tan, having been reborn as soulless automatons after getting fed up of living short painful and powerless lives in a galaxy with Star Gods and the Old Ones.

    Video Games 
  • One of the major recurring themes in Shadow Hearts is a manuscript that can resurrect the dead, but it never turns out like intended.
  • The Dig again! One of the first inventions of the Cocytans to achieve immortality were the "life crystals", which resurrected the death, again, the individual resurrected came back addicted to them.
  • Tales of the Abyss again, under the same concept. Fomicry as used to create human clones was originally an attempt to bring back the dead. It never worked right, though — not only were many replicas physically imperfect, often in horrifying ways, but not a single one of them ever had the original's memories.
  • Kirby: Planet Robobot: The employees of Haltmann Works Company run afoul of this. Finishing the entire game and discovering the complete lore reveals that there's more to it than simple ambition.
  • The beginning of Mass Effect 2 sees the trilogy's hero and main character Shepard die in an attack, only to be surgically resurrected by Cerberus on the Illusive Man's orders. The ending of Mass Effect 2 sees Shepard turn their back to the Illusive Man and Cerberus who go back to being villains in 3, while the ending of Mass Effect 3 ends badly for the Illusive Man by either being talked to death or shot by Shepard.

  • Girl Genius features resurrection as a major issue among royalty. To prevent eternal reigns death and resurrection are considered an abdication. Part of the reason for this is that Came Back Wrong is pretty common; the other part is that most heirs don't want to get back in line for the throne.

    Web Original 
  • Orion's Arm has many different means of cheating death, but for the baseline species it mostly means trusting in the benificence of vastly more powerful minds, many of whom have very complex plans and might not really care very much about the little minds they might abuse in achieving them. When your body is rebuilt, how can you expect to discover that you're now a Manchurian Agent when the technology involved is as far beyond you as a computer virus is beyond a chimpanzee?

The Seventh Sin of Autodeification

    Anime & Manga 
  • Hellsing: Schrodinger, who is everyvere und novere. After absorbing him and killing all the other souls within him, so is Alucard at the end.
  • SEELE has a big problem with Gendou Ikari's apparent attempts at this in Neon Genesis Evangelion... 'cause they wanted to do it, as with the previous sin. SEELE and Gendo tie with Doc from Hellsing for general Scientific Evilness, matching him sin for sin.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Human transmutation has aspects of this (see #6 above) and Truth was not amused by Father's plan.
  • Bleach: Aizen has been using shinigami science to attempt this. He's even been willing to steal the scientific achievements of others (especially Urahara's) in his pursuit of this.
  • A Certain Magical Index has the Level 6 Shift project, which aims for this.

    Comic Books 


    Live-Action TV 
  • Stargate SG-1: Proclaiming themselves gods is the villainous Goa'uld's main operating procedure.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Jem'Haddar and Vorta are genetically bred (see above) to regard Founders as gods.
  • Babylon 5: The Vorlons genetically engineered the Younger Races to perceive them as angels.
  • Doctor Who: According to "Inferno", the sin of the greedy scientists seeking to dig too deeply into the earth is so great that not only are monsters called forth and the guilty scientist punished, but the world itself is destroyed (in a parallel reality). There's no reason for this other than that scientists dared tamper with what men should not have disturbed — and this from the incarnation of the Doctor who steadfastly rejects all nonscientific explanations for observed phenomena in every other story.
    Doctor: That's the sound of this planet screaming out its rage!

    Tabletop Games 
  • Surprise, surprise, Warhammer 40,000, albeit in an unconventional fashion: the Immortal God-Emperor of Man. The fallen Primarchs may also think of themselves this way, though they didn't elevate themselves to levels just shy of a Physical God.
    • Although to be fair to the old boy, he essentially made it extremely clear that he was just a (hyperpowered and nigh on invulnerable) man, not a god. You can thank the lackeys after his death who set him up as a new deity.
    • But those very same lackeys may have actually turned him into a deity, through the power of belief and due to how the Immaterium works.
    • Also, he may have known he WAS a god, but because he knew that the 40k verse runs on Clap Your Hands If You Believe he may have set out to stop any and all belief in gods in the galaxy as a way to kill off his rival gods.
  • In Exalted, the Ereta'een represent a prime (indeed, the first in-setting) example of this. While science itself is not evil within the setting, scientific hubris definitely is. In this story, the particular god being usurped by the Ereta'een species is The Great Maker Autochthon, the deity responsible for inventing the concepts of science, art, and culture. At first he was their patron and mentor, and cherished and protected them in an almost parental way against the depredations of other gods. Ultimately, though, their skill and ambition grew so immense that they believed they could usurp Autochthon and cannibalise his infinite power and genius for their own usage. Before their plan could be brought to fruition, however,
    "[...] the shadow of the great metal sphere that is Autochthon’s chosen form enveloped them and cast their great nation into darkness. Then and only then did they lift their eyes toward the heavens and tremble in fear of the darkness that spread out around them as the body of their god descended down upon them.

    Looking up in terror, too proud to even ask for forgiveness, they watched as silent sentinels as Autochthon’s eye glared down upon them with umbrage and indignation."
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The Archmage Karsus from the Forgotten Realms setting created an unprecedented spell to temporarily steal a god's power. He intended to use it to defeat the Phaerimm threat, but inadvisably targeted the goddess of magic, causing a catastrophic lapse in the Background Magic Field that destroyed the Netherese Empire. History remembers him as "the child-who-would-be-a-god" or "the Ape who would fly".

    Video Games 
  • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis: Mix-and-Match Critters, Eldritch Abominations, Bamboo Technology Automatons made out of stone and bronze and powered by Orichalcum, followed by The God Machine set on top of an underwater volcano, which cause the characters to either possess the wearer or mutate into A Fate Worse Than Death. Oh, and the Nazis want to restart the whole shebang.
  • Fontaine in BioShock becomes a horrendously powerful ADAM-overdosed human statue.
  • The General in Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy used an alien psi device to gain massive psychic powers, in the process he killed dozens, lobotomized hundreds, and betrayed every one of his allies. His comeuppance was getting beat by the protagonist.
  • The ultimate goal of Bob Page from Deus Ex, complete with theological rhetoric and quoting Aquinas. Also J.C. Denton in the "Helios ending", closed by Voltaire's aphorism "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him".
  • Messiah is a literal case; Earth has turned into a technological dystopia, and humanity not only has rejected God, it's planning to convert His power for selfish reasons, and has actually achieved limited success already, so much that He can no longer influence or even view it. Bob — the player's character — is sent on a mission to investigate.

    Web Original 
  • Orion's Arm:
    • The Archai are beings of phenomenal capability and intellect, who are as far beyond even transhumans as transhumans are beyond worms. They seem to be benign, or neutral at worst, but there are a few worrying exceptions.
    • There are things called "godseeds" that let even baseline mortals ascend the toposophic ladder to achieve powers almost unthinkable to their original selves. The results can be unpredictable and using such devices is strongly discouraged in civilised polities, because if something went wrong the user ending up a brain-burnt wreck is the least bad thing that could happen compared to the creation of a broken and insane transhuman monster...

All of the Above

    Anime & Manga 
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: The Big Bad accomplishes just about everything this list and even some of the good guys try a few.
  • Hellsing makes a good college go at it — Millennium only missed one point. If Doktor had thought to make some robots they'd have checked off everything.

  • The N.I.C.E. in That Hideous Strength follow most of the list pretty nearly to the letter, given that they start out by tearing down a historic forest to build a factory, and wind up developing transhumanist technologies including cybernetically reanimating severed heads to give demons the ability to fight against God. Reanimation is what the rank-and-file N.I.C.E.-er (if they even know about it) thinks has happened; a few of the higher-ups seem to know (or at least suspect) that what is really going on is far worse. You know you're dealing with an evil organization when "we reanimated the head of a criminal psychopath" is your cover story.
  • In the Eldraeverse, the advanced Transhuman polities consider this sort of thing a to-do list. Or, in many cases, a have-done list.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Volt from Choujuu Sentai Liveman is the villainous organization the Liveman fight against, and they're all over every sort of conceivable bad way to use science. The Big Bad especially, as all he really wants to do is use his minion's intelligence to make him younger.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Genius: The Transgression incorporates almost the entire list into the Karma Meter. In order of severity Transgressions include: automation, minor transhumanism, making zombies, dangerous experimentation on humans, creating intelligence, deadly experimentation on humans, moderate transhumanism, very deadly experimentation, major transhumanism, raising the dead, genocide.
  • Eclipse Phase has checked off each of them, although number 7 was carried out by superintelligent AI's, the TITANs, who proceeded to forcibly upload many humans, reduce Earth to a blasted hellscape, and vanish through hyper-advanced wormhole gates. Most of them are considered routine everywhere except the Jovian Junta, although attempting to create another TITAN-style "seed AI" with unlimited potential is so illegal that if you attempt it you will be killed and all your backups will be wiped, and if your habitat doesn't take you down, Firewall will.
  • Exalted has Voidtech, which is essentially The Corruption in the form of self-replicating machines that embody the Scientific Sins, as defined by Autocthon. As with many Exalted tropes, this is played with-Autocthon embodies invention and machinery, meaning he views violation the scale as something to praise, so long as it leads to better quality of life and new discoveries in the long run. Voidtech does not care about this, only itself-in effect, what happens when actual science is warped to service greed and war.

    Video Games 
  • Nearly every faction of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 Paradox has committed at least one of the sins. The Allies have committed sins #1 and #2, the Empire and Syndicate have committed #1, #2, and #3 (the Syndicate is worse though), the Confederates have committed #2, China has committed #2, #3, #4, #5, and the Protectorate is #1. Only the Soviets and Order of the Talon haven't committed any of the sins.
  • Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs: The Engineers commits #3 and #7, its plan is to slaughter everyone in London and convert them into Manpigs, and become a God by using the blood of the people killed.
  • The Elder Scrolls has the Dwemer, who attempted to commit every sin on the list, with their efforts toward committing the final few leading to their disappearance. They committed Automation by blending Steampunk technologies with magical enchantments to create automated machinery and Mecha-Mooks. They committed Potential Applications by devising ways to use their technology to accomplish things well beyond their Standard Fantasy Setting contemporaries including Weather Control Machines, Humongous Mechas, and even a device capable of reading the Elder Scrolls without the nasty side-effects. They dabbled into Genetic Engineering with their treatment of the Falmer, who the Dwemer twisted so much that it changed their very souls. Upon discovering the still-beating heart of the dead god Lorkhan deep beneath Red Mountain, the Dwemer attempted to commit sins 4-7 in one fell swoop by tapping into the power of the heart. They sought to both create a new god (Anumidium) as well as allow their entire race to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence. However, something went wrong and caused the entire Dwemer race to blink out of existence. These behaviors obviously put them at odds with their much more religious neighbors in the Chimer, who warred with the Dwemer before their disappearance and demonized them (and their technologies) after.
  • Resident Evil: Many of the antagonists have committed a few, but Umbrella in particular seems to use this list as a checklist, with particular focus on genetic engineering, creating life, and resurrection. Wesker has also ticked off an impressive number of the items on this list for one man, with the ultimate goal of becoming a god.

    Web Original 
  • Orion's Arm, despite generally displaying all of these as good things, shows disadvantages to all but immortality.

    Western Animation 
  • Rick Sanchez of Rick and Morty has willingly committed each sin, and has even mixed & matched to create his very own affronts to the laws of God, man and nature. Highlights include creating an entire universe of tiny aliens that "worship" him by powering his spacecraft's battery, and inventing a sentient, self-aware robot for the sole purpose of passing him butter at the breakfast table. Some of this is due to power creep. In an early Season 1 episode he states matter-of-factly that he "can't cure death". In an early Season 4 episode, he discovers that, in some of infinite alternate universes, he figured it out, so the machines will resurrect him there when he dies. However, he doesn't like those universes, so he keeps comically killing himself to find different ones.