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"Science never solves a problem without creating ten more."

Most writers are not scientists. Whether it is because they perceive science as cold and emotionless, or because they just disliked science and embraced literature after failing math in high school, luddism is an awfully common philosophy in the arts community.

The typical theme is that some sort of advanced scientific research has Gone Horribly Wrong, creating a monster, causing an impending natural disaster and/or a massive government cover-up. The heroes typically discover the side-effects of the research and investigate, discover what's going on, and try to stop it.

The antagonist (almost always either corporate or military/government scientists—and not hot) refuses to believe that his work could be so badly flawed and/or immoral, or simply doesn't care about who gets hurt by it, insisting that the research is For Science! They will generally use their influence with the government to make life difficult for the heroes; this can include trying to have them arrested and/or otherwise silenced, often leading to a shoot-out, jail break, or Chase Scene.

In the end, the scientist will be destroyed by his own creation, the heroes will be proven right, and through their efforts the world will be saved from the horror of science. Sometimes the theme is softened by the presence of The Professor among the heroes who represents a more reasonable take on the science involved.

Sometimes the problem is much closer to real-life evil done in the name of science, such as the scientist commiting crimes, Playing with Syringes, or performing invasive, deforming and/or deadly experiments on unwilling subjects.

This can often come off as a bit hypocritical, particularly when dealing with speculative fiction, as you get an Anvilicious message of "everything we have so far is good, but we should stop now".

Nearly every Robot War story is based off of this (except the ones where everything was all right, until humanity screwed it up by being jerks to the nice robots). There are a few popular current fields as well, like cloning, genetic engineering, and surveillance.

For obvious reasons, this is played down in series starring a Science Hero, heroic android, or Robot Buddy, such as in some anime. It's more likely that there will be a (still obvious) distinction between good and bad scientists. This is usually played up if the heroes are Phlebotinum Rebels, though.

Note that not every work with a Mad Scientist or a threat borne of science falls under this; it's only the case where Messing With Things You Ought Not To is blamed for the problems.

The trope rarely makes a distinction between pure science (research) and applied technology (engineering).

Frequently overlaps with Green Aesop. May be paired with Industrialized Evil.

Compare and contrast Cyberpunk, where the rebel hero goes up against "The Man" who maintains control through technology; Bio Punk is mostly same as previous but instead using Biotechnology to retaining control of all species and used horrific ways to modify them; Post Cyber Punk tends to embrace new technology less critically. Typically, you will find there is No Transhumanism Allowed. See also Harsher in Hindsight for when a world meant to be portrayed as a Dystopia 20 Minutes into the Future bears a curious resemblance to present day technological advancements that are taken for granted by the audience.

If the writer is sincere in their belief that New Technology Is Evil, they may thrust the characters into a situation (Closed Circle, After the End, etc.) where they must survive without (most of) the technology, and take the good with the bad; compare Space Amish. The inverse of this is a Cozy Catastrophe, where the heroes are able to get General Motors, police and hair salons up and running again only a few months after America Saves the Day, with similarly unfortunate implications on the opposite end of the spectrum, implying that the writer believes in the Status Quo. Zeerust can have a similar effect if an otherwise futuristic (or even "dystopian") technocratic society bears a curious resemblance to when it was written and problems the society was experiencing at the time.

Any time this trope shows up, you are very likely to find Romanticism Versus Enlightenment in its wake (and the work will be taking the Romanticist side). Related tropes include the Mad Scientist, Reluctant Mad Scientist, The Evil Army, Government Conspiracy, Corrupt Corporate Executive, Government As Villain, Mr. Exposition, Technical Pacifist, and Well-Intentioned Extremist. The protagonist is often assisted by an Anti-Hero who used to work for the Mad Scientist, and frequently has to deal with a Pointy-Haired Boss. See also Science Is Wrong. Polar opposite of most stories with a Science Hero. The inverted trope, where science and technology are portrayed as forces of good and progress, is Science Is Good. Can be played alongside Scary Science Words if someone is trying to pass off something scientific as scary.

Can be paired with the old slogan "Knowledge is Power, Wisdom is for serving". When the trope is invoked, Power is bad at best, evil at worst.

See also the Scale of Scientific Sins as well as Ambition Is Evil. Not to be confused with Do Not Try This at Home when Science is Dangerous, cause yeah, sometimes it is.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Aesop of Blue Gender is that humanity should never have advanced beyond an agricultural society.
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, at least in the manga version (which goes longer than the anime), goes back and forth between playing this trope straight & subverting it. On the one hand, the world was destroyed in a nuclear war, on the other, the kindly & wise Big Creepy-Crawlies were actually created through bioengineering and so were the giant killer fungi which are actually helping to purify the Earth. Nausicaa believes that the natural order of life should prevail and that humanity needs to live or die without the benefits or burdens of the old technology.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist seems to jump wildly between this trope and Belief Makes You Stupid. The main villain wants to use Alchemy, the setting's most advanced science, to essentially usurp God, and uses whatever means required to do so. Humans are often spoken of in coldhearted, clinical matters, often treated as a resource and nothing more. Ultimately, the heroes strike a balance between the scientific Alchemy and spiritual Alkahestry to defeat Father.

  • Parodied by comedian Patton Oswalt in his standup routine where he lambasts science for allowing a couple in their sixties to conceive due to it being horrifying, Ending with the line "Hey, we made cancer airborne and contagious. You're welcome. We're science, we're all about could, not should". This, however, is an exception in that quite a few of his other routines exalt the virtues of science and progress, however.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman:
    • Lex Luthor, Superman's archenemy, has long been a barometer of the great bogeyman of the era: from the 30s through the atomic age, as a mad scientist he played on readers' fears of science running rampant. (Later, he'd be a corporate shark in the '80s and a corrupt politician at the turn of the millennium.) Though from the Silver Age until the Crisis, Superman himself was portrayed as a scientist of great ability (having, at the very least, perfect recall and access to Kryptonian tech), regularly building robots and whatnot. His standard lament to Luthor in those days was his wish that Luthor would go straight and use his brilliance to help mankind instead of being a Jerkass.
    • Space travel research was banned on Krypton. As a result, there were very few survivors when the planet exploded. Pre-Crisis, at least, the reason it was banned was that an illegal rocket experiment had recently blown up one of their moons. note 
  • Hoverboy: The Only Hero Protecting You From Science! However, Hoverboy is merely an elaborate hoax. Probably.
  • Star Wars:
    • Subverted by the obvious Mengele analogue in a Boba Fett comic, in which Fett accepted a challenge to wipe out the crew of a Imperial genocide ship. The Mengele-wannabe is asked by his boss what experiment he's doing; Wannabe admits, "I gave up all pretense of science long ago. I do this for pleasure."
    • In Knights of the Old Republic there was a Mandalorian Mad Scientist named Demagol who conducted cruel experiments on captured Jedi and on children (including his own daughter) in an effort to imbue future generations of Mandalorian warriors with the ability to use the Force. His name was later adapted to "demagolka", the only word in the Mandalorian language for "war criminal".
  • Fantastic Four: Reed Richards and Doctor Doom can be viewed as symbolizing technology's potential for good or evil, depending on who is wielding it and for what purpose. Reed's a perfect example, as he's often portrayed as the most cold and calculating of the Fantastic Four. For instance, during the superhero civil war, he designed an extradimensional prison camp to hold his fellow superheroes because cold logic told him that forced superhuman registration was the only way to avoid an Armageddon-level disaster. None of the less scientifically-minded members of the team could stand to be a part of it, and Sue - the conscience of the team - eventually convinced him that it was better to essentially be nice and hope for the best than to be mean for a good reason. Taken even further in Ultimate Marvel, where Reed has a full fledged Face–Heel Turn and de facto becomes the new Ultimate Doctor Doom.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) originally averted this in the same fashion as SatAM, from which it derived most of its cast. However, the series started to sink into this as early as Knuckles' first mini-series, with his race's flip-flopping stance on how to view science (It's evil, it must be destroyed! No, wait, only certain things is evil! No, wait, it's all evil! No, wait, it's evil unless we're the ones with it!)

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Discussed in Frankenweenie. According to Mr. Rzykruski, science is morally neutral; whether or not it is good or bad depends on how it is used. Case in point: Victor resurrects his dog Sparky using lightning and Sparky is the same friendly dog he was before he died, but because of the love Victor had for him. When the other kids resurrect other animals, they do it with the intention of winning the science fair (with the possible exception of Nassor and his hamster Colussus). Their experiments result in animalistic monstrosities.
  • The main conflict presented in Steamboy is that though scientists try to help the world there will either be people who want to use it for profit or people who want to use it for war. The protagonist's father is under the belief that science can save the world, the grandfather believes he is going too far, and the protagonist is neutral and just wants to make sure London doesn't get destroyed. In the end, though, the moral of the story feels more like "science can be bad or good depending on how it's used". Take for example the Steam Castle, which was not originally a weapon, but the world's most advanced amusement park. Then there's Ray's numerous clever uses of the Steamball, like powering flying machines. At the very least, Steamboy manages to avoid being Anvilicious by grace of sheer ambiguity.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Initially played straight, and then subverted, in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Tony Stark convinces Bruce Banner that they need to own up to being "mad scientists" and start taking risks, such as Tony's latest project to augment his new AI using an Infinity Stone. This creates Ultron, the villain of the film. Stark and Banner's response, after several lectures about playing God… is to make a second AI using an Infinity Stone, but this time to learn from the mistakes of the first experiment and do it properly. The other Avengers violently object, but the new AI is created, and not only supports humanity completely but is pivotal to stopping Ultron's plan.
  • In the B-Movie Bats, Mad Scientist Dr. McCabe initially justifies creating the rampaging super intelligent omnivorous bats with the words "I'm a scientist! That's what we do!". No one finds this explanation even the slightest bit strange.
  • Completely turned around by Darkman, who, admittedly, was hideously deformed in a Freak Lab Accident, but the accident in question was caused by The Mafia. When things are going bad, he reminds himself, "I'm a scientist!"
  • Like many late-1990s horror movies, Deep Blue Sea takes place in an elaborate science base where research is being conducted to cure society of some incurable ill — in this case, degenerative brain disorders. Lead researcher Susan has genetically modified mako sharks in order to increase their brain mass to harvest more protein, and the sharks get bigger and smarter and start killing everyone when they get into the base. It also takes another common position in this particular sub-genre, which essentially boils down to: Well, since the monsters created by science are chasing us right now, every part of the research was bad in the first place. Screw those Alzheimer's patients! Bonus points for the two non-science people being the only survivors.
  • Event Horizon. At one point the inventor of the gravity warp drive (which turns out to be a pretty evil warp drive) proclaims: "Captain, there's no danger... It's contained behind three magnetic fields, it's perfectly safe!" Oh science, what are you like?
  • Expelled explicitly compares evolutionary biology to Nazism.
  • The original The Fly (1958), contrary to popular belief, wasn't so much this trope as 'Science must not be approached with carelessness'. It even compares it to a 'great adventure'. It still features the scientist destroying the machine at the end, rather than seeing that it works fine if people aren't careless like he was.
    • In David Cronenberg's 1986 remake, this motif is absent altogether: just because it went disastrously wrong once doesn't mean that teleportation is irredeemably evil. In the book Monsters in the Movies, John Landis' interview with Cronenberg includes an extended argument about this trope, and whether this or any of the latter's other films support it given that the scientists in his films tend to come out badly. Cronenberg says none of them support this idea — rather, the Rule of Drama is in play. There's no conflict/story if everything goes according to plan, so it doesn't. He also points out that in real life, many people have risked their lives and even died in pursuit of knowledge for the betterment of mankind, from the Curies to the Challenger astronauts, so in that sense his ill-fated scientists are simply reflections of a tragic truth rather than an indictment of science.
  • In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra nanotechnology is the primary villain, both as gray-goo-inducing nanite warheads and as nanite injections that create superhuman flunkies for Cobra. There are many scientists involved in Cobra, and apparently, scientists can't be trusted: Rex switches sides because they have nanotechnology.
  • Godzilla:
    • Godzilla vs. Destoroyah retroactively questions the use of the Oxygen Destroyer by revealing it led to flesh-eating microbes that can strip organic matter immersed in water in seconds. These evolve into car-sized monsters spewing beams that disintegrate materials that possess oxygen molecules. And finally, these combine into, quite naturally, a flying Kaiju monster with a beam weapon that can kick Godzilla's ass. The monster verges on raising the radiation levels of the entire planet beyond what life could survive. It also questions whether the doctor's sacrifice was actually heroic as the Oxygen Destroyer was, compared to other methods, less likely to destroy cities or attempt to exterminate the human race.
    • Played straight in Godzilla vs. Biollante in which genetic engineering causes the birth of a giant Godzilla-Rose hybrid monster (Biollante) with a human female soul. On the other hand, the scientists creating the Anti-Nuclear Bacteria is an aversion since it actually is one of the few things that can stop Godzilla, despite the hero's fear that it will create another monster.
    • Generally played straight with almost any Godzilla movie that explains the eponymous monster's origins or his reason for attacking. Most often he is the result of the testing of nuclear weapons, which is also the source of his hatred of humankind.
  • Jesus Camp: Levi says "personally, I think Galileo made the right choice giving up science for Christ."
  • King Cobra (1999): Seth was intentionally designed to be a hyper-aggressive killing machine. The guy responsible should have stuck with lab rats instead of his personal snake demon project from hell.
  • The first Mimic film plays this awfully straight. In order to combat an epidemic that's killing the world's children, scientists create a strain of mutant cockroach. Unfortunately, years after they're released (and successfully end the epidemic) these cockroaches grow to be about six feet tall and able to mimic (and eat) humans. Cue the scientists babbling nonsense lines like "We changed their DNA, we don't know what we did!" and other characters repeatedly saying what basically amounts to "They tampered in God's domain." As if the scientists should have foreseen the consequences of their mutant cockroach strain and done nothing to end the epidemic in the first place.
  • In Perfect Creature, this view is held by Brotherhood, the theocratic vampire government who had outlawed genetic research, regarding it as a godless, abominable evil. They withheld its progress to prevent humans from figuring out where vampires come from and how to prevent Brothers from being born and gaining independence from them. It turns out that the Brothers have been misusing science to create more of their kind and started the events of the story when the leading scientist got infected with a virus and went insane.
  • In Rocky IV the cold, emotionless Russian boxer Ivan Drago is shown training in a cartoonishly high-tech facility that measures his every exertion while government technicians look on, meanwhile virtuous American Rocky trains on a farm by cutting down trees, lifting bales of hay, and running with a yoke on his shoulders. Guess who wins. Also a case of Science Marches On, as it turns out the techniques used there are not as effective as traditional training.
  • Pick a Syfy Channel Original Movie, any Syfy Channel Original Movie. The plot is as follows: "Oh noes! Science Is Bad and inevitably results in giant insects! Explosions are the only thing that can rectify the wages of man's hubris! Better call John Rhys-Davies, Lance Henriksen, Bruce Boxleitner and/or Dean Cain."
  • Dr. Carrington in The Thing from Another World is a complete moron who continues to insist in the face of increasingly overwhelming evidence that the alien the base is dealing with is an intelligent and peaceful being, and repeatedly endangers everyone's lives trying to communicate with it.
  • The Time Machine (2002). Near the start of the movie, the protagonist's friend asks him whether humanity's progress will ever go too far; the protagonist replies, "no such thing."
    He later has to admit that he was wrong — when, in the future, he sees the Moon shattered into little pieces by atomic bombs. Earlier, when the protagonist returned to the past to try and save his girlfriend, she was killed by a malfunctioning automobile (just as the protagonist stopped being fascinated with it because it was "just a machine," and not worth taking his attention off of his love).
    In the distant future, the Eloi are peaceful, good people with very primitive technology; the evil, ugly Morlocks have an industrial society Beneath the Earth. They also have a Big Bad with a giant brain who is especially good at engineering, and at being evil.
    And in the climax of the movie, the protagonist destroys the industrial Morlocks — by blowing up his machine in their lair (commenting on its loss with, again, "it's just a machine"). The only positive portrayal science or technology get in the film is with the generally helpful holographic librarian (who somehow survives hundreds of thousands of years and is shown reading books to children at the end). But his main function is to keep memories of the past (and, presumably, its follies) alive, not to represent or aid progress.
    The 1960 version doesn't go this far, having more of an anti-war message. Essentially, the 1960 film's message is "science is bad when it's being used to build bigger and more terrible weapons, but it's good when it's being used for peaceful, idealistic purposes like inventing time machines" — which makes sense when you consider the movie was made at the height of the Cold War arms race.
  • At least RIFT seems to think so in Transcendence. The head of the group uses the first brain uploading experiment which involved a monkey on why brain uploading is evil. "It just screamed."

  • The American folk tale of John Henry tells of the man's victory in a hammerin' race against a steam-powered hammer. He wins, but the effort kills him. He dies with the old-fashioned hammer still in his hand.

  • In the first two books of the Divergent series, most of the bad guys come from the Erudite faction, the faction for scientists and knowledge-seekers. Many of the Erudite characters that we see are villainous and even Caleb turns out to be a traitor. Most of the bad things that happen in Divergent and Insurgent (e.g. the Abnegation Genocide) are a result of the devious scheming of the Erudite leadership, and it's implied they have a hand in corrupting members from other factions to their cause. This is even reflected in the serum that symbolizes the faction: Abnegation is symbolized by the memory serum, Amity by the peace serum, Candor by the truth serum, and Dauntless by the simulation serum. As for Erudite? They are symbolized by the death serum. Even the author admits her book's anti-intellectual slant, though she has rightly pointed out that her portrayal of the Erudite became more nuanced, and even positive as the series went on. For instance, the Erudite Cara, who antagonizes Tris in the first two books, becomes her ally and eventually friend in Allegiant.
  • Jonathan Swift rams this Trope down the reader's throat in the Laputa chapter of Gulliver's Travels. The rulers are tyrants (and chauvinists) who respect only science, but it has made them incompetent rulers; while they are fond of mathematics, astronomy, music and technology, they fail to make practical use of their knowledge. For instance, buildings in Laputa are poorly built and the clothing doesn't fit because they take measurements with instruments such as quadrants and a compass rather than with tape measures. Their physical conditions have degenerated too, depicted as becoming so lost in thought that they do not move unless struck by a "bladder", many of their heads have become stuck reclined to one side, and they often suffer from strabismus: one eye turns inward and the other looks up "to the zenith". They don't even know that their wives are adulterers who are using their husbands' lack of attention to carry on affairs with the more loving servants. Even worse, they've had a negative effect on their subjects. Not only are Lagado and Balnibarbi poverty-stricken, the governor of the former visited Laputa once, and was inspired to build the Academy of Projectors, where completely worthless projects are endlessly worked on. (Ironically, the governor of Balnibarbi is likely the most lucid man in the chapter, one of the few characters Gulliver meets with any common sense.) of course, Swift was using this chapter to mock - other things - the absurd inventions of the Royal Society.
  • In Anne McCaffrey's Pern novels, some of the natives regard the newly rediscovered supercomputer as evil and try to destroy or discredit it, either through superstition or fear of change. The planet was originally settled by people who only wanted to leave their dependence on technology behind, not to form a Luddite civilization. Threadfall soon interrupted those plans; in time this meant they lost all but the most basic stuff needed for survival, and because of this they suffered. It was eventually returning to the technological state which saved them, when they found AI which gave them access to all the tech the colonists planned on having, but lost.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • The trope is played straight in the opposition between Saruman (Science/Knowledge) and Gandalf (Wisdom). Saruman even mentions his slogan in book two: "Knowledge, Rule, Order!" All the while, Gandalf warns against swerving from the "path of Wisdom." Saruman is clearly meant to be a Faustian figure, entering a Deal with the Devil for greater knowledge.
      Gandalf: He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.
    • Tolkien himself was personally fond of the trope, and invokes it in "Tree And Leaf," and in his poem "Mythopoeia":
      The dark abyss to where their progress tends, if by God's mercy, Progress ever ends...
    • Aulë, Vala (i.e. "archangel" of sorts) of all makers, craftsmen, and scientists (Sauron and Saruman were both Maiar under him) downplays this. As one of the Valar under Ilúvatar, he's certainly not evil himself and the tools and knowledge he imparts to mortals can be used to improve the world, but they're also exceptionally easy to pervert to evil uses (as Sauron and Saruman demonstrate all too well).
  • H. P. Lovecraft goes a step further, though it's not just science; H.P. Lovecraft's stories had a recurring theme that wanting to know more about the world would inevitably lead to insanity and corruption. Lovecraft had a love-hate relationship with science. On one hand he was delighted and inspired by its discoveries, but on the other he found it horribly formulaic and unimaginative (complaints he also had about mainstream religion). His short story "Silver Key" sums up his less-than-flattering thoughts towards all forms of mainstream thinking.
  • In Maximum Ride, no scientist character is ever good and nothing science ever accomplishes is ever for the good.
  • The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne concludes with the aesop that people shouldn't attempt to play God by improving on nature
  • In the novel Feed (2002) by M.T. Anderson, having essentially an internet hookup directly into your brain lets you look up anything instantly, so no one ever bothers to really learn or remember anything, becoming imbeciles with the attention span of gnats.
  • This is one of the main messages of Ceremony, along with "White people are evil beings created by witchery to destroy the world''
  • The War of the Worlds (1898) has a touch of this. Wells' Martians are clearly designed as his projection of what man himself might evolve into, given enough time: little more than bodiless brains, helpless if separated from their machines. Wells may have viewed this fate as inevitable for mankind.
  • Although most of his later novels were much more pro-technology, Jules Verne's early novel Paris in the Twentieth Century portrays a cold, sterile future where artistic and humanistic pursuits have been all but abandoned in favor of technology as an answer to all human problems. The main character, a poet, can find neither work nor sympathy, and dies starving in the streets.
  • This tends to be a characteristic of many Stephen King novels, including his magnum opus (the The Dark Tower series). We have:
    • The Great Old Ones from the Dark Tower series, who are explicitly described as being "deceived by the false light of science," replacing the magic with their own imperfect science and technology, then killing themselves off with weapons that leave the world a polluted, ruined mess.
    • The superflu from The Stand which escapes a government lab and kills off 99.4% of the world's population—the creators designed it to make sure an antivirus could never be made. The mini-series implies that Flagg may have had a role in the release of it, but the book itself describes it as a series of foul-ups and technical errors. Flagg is specifically described by Glen Bateman as "the last magician of rational thought" (!) and he gives an impassioned defense of the concept that they should not be so quick to recreate the technological civilization that created things like nukes and bio-engineered germs in the first place.
      Stu: [of Mother Abigail] Well, it's obvious she's some sort of magnet.
      Glen: So I suppose we start building the whole sorry mess up again...using her as magnetic north.
  • In the words of Jean Baudrillard in The Procession of Simulacra, "Science never sacrifices itself. It is always murderous." He didn't think science was inherently bad, despite that quote.
  • In the last Empire from the Ashes book, the world religion of the planet Pardal centers entirely around the suppression of scientific progress, while at the same time worshiping an ancient defense computer as the voice of God.
  • In the Safehold series the need for the deliberately Lost Colony to revert to a pre-industrial technology level to avoid the omnicidal Gbaba was an unfortunate necessity. Word of God is that this trope is part of the thinking behind Langhorne and Bedard's alteration of the original plan to make sure that a technological society doesn't arise again.
  • Most movie versions of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine (as stated in the Film section) emphasize the evils of technology versus a pastoral existence, but neglect his central thesis: the alienation of the working class resulting in an elite that neither knows nor cares how the comfort in which it lives is produced. Wells, a socialist, was not arguing against technology but against the exploitation of the working class in Victorian England. Indeed, most of Wells' body of work, especially The Shape Of Things To Come, is very pro-science and technology, focusing more on how humanity must mature socially in step with its scientific progress.
  • In Aleksandr Mazin's Time For Change duology, nature itself follows this trope, with catastrophes striking out against many types of scientific research in a seemingly unrelated manner. For example, the first recorded catastrophe was a massive tsunami that flooded New York. The link was an attempt by NASA to see if it is possible to give birth in orbit. After that, the International Committee for Prevention of Illegal Scientific Research (AKA Aladdin) is created in order to enforce the ban. They recruit the scientists and soldiers and equip them with the latest technology allowed by law. They become so powerful that only a few nations can go against them, including Russia, China, and possibly US.
    • In the second novel, The Morning of Judgment Day, the Chinese defy the ban and launch a manned mission to Mars. During a historic speech televised throughout the world, another catastrophe hits, causing any Chinese-speaking person listening to the broadcast to go deaf. The protagonist's father parallels this to the Tower of Babel part of The Bible, where man attempts to reach the heavens, and suggests that humans may have to stay on Earth for good.
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: The book show us both sides of this question: In almost all the book, The Professor Aronnax, a Wide-Eyed Idealist expert on marine life is shown all the good things the Nautilus can accomplish (scientific discoveries, exploration of the South Pole, treasure hunting, etc). Only after The Reveal, that the Nautilus is used as a terrible (for the standards of the 19th century) Weapon of Mass Destruction, Aronnax’s Heel Realization lets him know that those good things can’t justify the terrible violence.
  • The 2nd and 3rd Dinotopia books were quite Anvilicious about this, although they were more anti-technology than anti-science, since the protagonist himself was a scientist (although more of a naturalist, really).
  • The Tripods used this, but as a pretense of the antagonists rather than an actual theme of the work. The Masters gave the appearance that they blamed science and technology for humankind's evilness, thus pushing humanity back to the middle ages with the Caps. (ie sending the Science Is Bad message through the caps.) It was really to stifle creativity and independent thinking and make humans easier to subdue.
  • In Larry Niven's Known Space books, all scientific research on Earth must be approved by the government. Violating this can result in a death sentence.
  • Played with in American Gods. The New Gods represent different facets of America's modern, technologically advanced culture, but for a while we are led to sympathize more for the primitive — and seemingly more benevolent — Old Gods. Over the course of the story, however, we come to learn that a not insignificant number of the Old Gods were violent, bloodthirsty monsters in their time, and some of the New Gods are not as eager for conquest as they first appear.
  • In Those That Wake, after seeing what technology did to the city, Laura grows to believe science is bad by the second book.
  • Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley has a sequence symbolically representing World War III, in which three Albert Einsteins are enslaved by baboons for the purpose of developing Synthetic Plagues. The plagues, which the baboons force the Einsteins to unleash upon the world as patriotic hymns play, kill everyone, including the Einsteins, whose dying protests are that they "never did any harm to anybody" and "lived only for Truth." Thus is enacted what the Fauxlosophic Narration calls "the death, by suicide, of twentieth-century science."
  • Isaac Asimov's The End of Eternity is basically a rejection of this trope, essentially arguing that progress — even that which seems dangerous — is vital and necessary to us as a species.
  • Industrial Society and Its Future: Kaczynski believes science is at least more bad than good, since it creates technologies which he believes simply further oppress humanity, even where well-intentioned.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Black Mirror, naturally. It's an anthology series that explores the ambiguity and potential drawbacks of new technology and how they can affect society in an unhealthy way, though it primarily focuses on New Media Are Evil, this trope comes up sometimes as well.
    • "The Entire History of You" deals with eye implants that allow the recording and replaying of visual memories. This technology ends up ruining a man's relationship with his partner.
    • "Be Right Back" deals with a grieving woman, mourning her lover who dies suddenly in a car accident on a shopping trip, turning to an artificial replica of him. She eventually realizes that the replica is not a replacement for her lover and it prevents her from grieving and moving on in a healthy way.
    • "Playtest" deals with a goofy American Thrill Seeker trying out an experimental brain-interface horror video game. When the game malfunctions however, the horror graduates past cheap Jump Scares and gets too real, and too personal.
    • "Men Against Fire" deals with future soldiers fighting a brutal war against alien creatures with the aid of the latest technology. Except the aliens are not aliens, they're human undesirables and the technology simply makes the soldiers see them as monsters.
    • "Hated in the Nation" deals with two female detectives trying to solve a strange murder spree in a future Britain where bees are extinct and replaced by tiny robotic drones.
    • "Metalhead" deals with a post-apocalyptic Britain where humans are hunted relentlessly by rogue killer drones.
  • Doomwatch warned of the perils of unchecked progress back in The '70s, though political and corporate pressure for results, heedless of caution, was often held to be the culprit rather than Science itself.
  • Smallville: Any scientific research is bad in that show. Example: One episode features a drug which can heal fatal gunshot wounds in moments. However, it makes the user rather cranky for a certain period of time. Various ERs could probably get around that by tranquilizing the patients for a while!
  • A recurring theme in The Outer Limits (1995). It is the basis for the plot of many (though not all) of its episodes. A prominent two-part episode, "Final Appeal", involves a trial in the 20 Minutes into the Future United States, which has forsaken technology and banned teaching science under the penalty of death. A 20th century scientist develops Time Travel and goes to the future only to be arrested for breaking the ban. She goes before the Supreme Court and argues to repeal the ban, as a plague will wipe out most of humanity in the near future if technological research is not restarted. Another time traveler arrives to argue for the opposite, as humanity's expansion to the stars will eventually cause us to piss off an advanced alien race and lead to our destruction. In the end, they send the second time traveler to the past and agree to repeal the ban, only for the second guy's fusion bomb to activate and wipe out Washington, DC.
  • Joss Whedon has said the idea behind the Initiative from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was to create a conflict between science and magic, and when that happens, magic eventually kicks science's ass. The Initiative goes on recon to study the habits of vampires and captures them so they can do further tests, all to better understand how they work and how they can best be contained. Buffy just stakes 'em. Guess which works better?
  • Star Trek, despite being the best-known Speculative Fiction series, often dipped its toe into this trope. Worked on a sort of sliding scale, where the level of science the Federation had at that particular point in the episode was the exact right amount and trying to advance beyond that was just asking for the technological equivalent of not being able to get away with a damn thing. Offscreen advance of science: good. Onscreen advance of science: bad.
    • Star Trek: The Original Series:
      • Bunny-Ears Lawyer Sam Cogley's speech in "Court Martial" about liking his book collection better than his computer, even though he admits it can display any of their contents instantly.
      • "The Ultimate Computer" is a great example of this trope, combined with a little Ludd Was Right. The Enterprise is testing a brand-new computer that could automate starships completely, making crews and captains all but obsolete. A.I. Is a Crapshoot, things go south fast, and our heroes must pull the plug and save the day, but not before the sorrowful moments where Kirk faces the thought he may become obsolete. The scientist who designed the computer also turns out to be insane at the end, just to drive the point home.
      • The TOS episode which most directly addresses this is "The Way to Eden" (the infamous "space hippie" one). Dr. Sevrin's followers want to abandon technology and return to a pastoral existence. Between his Vulcan half's admiration for their (ahem, technical!) pacifism, and his human half's submerged longing for exactly that sort of simple life, Spock of all people ends up sympathizing with them. He's deeply disappointed when their leader turns out to be nuts.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: in "The Hunted", the Angosians, an outwardly pacifistic planet of philosophers, deep thinkers, and benevolent scientists, applied their abilities to creating Super Soldiers when they were drawn into a war with a neighboring planet. They succeeded so well that one of these soldiers outmatched the crew of a Galaxy-class starship - twice.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • In "Paradise", the neo-Luddite colonist Alixus deliberately stranded her colony ship and used a duonetic field to disable electromagnetic technology, forcing them all to live as Space Amish. Her influence over her fellow colonists was so great that even after Sisko and O'Brien disabled the field generator and revealed that she had stranded them there deliberately, many of the colonists wanted to continue living the way she had preached (or very near to it, perhaps making exceptions for medical technology). The episode in many ways was a deconstruction of this trope. None of the characters entirely disagree with or refute her claims that there is value in doing things the hard way rather than living comfortable lives with "modern" Federation technology. Instead, they condemn her actions and methods for forcing this lifestyle on others as deplorable: deliberately stranding the colonists (instead of recruiting like-minded volunteers), deceitfully sabotaging any technology, invoking corporal punishment (solitary confinement in a hot-box for any violation of her rules), and withholding life-saving medical technologies (resulting in unnecessary suffering and many deaths).
      • Contrasted with the "Sons of Mogh" in the episode "Children of Time", in which a group of alternate-timeline descendants of Worf (some by blood, others in "spirit") choose to live as pure hunters/warriors, foregoing any technology more advanced than spears or bows. This (voluntary) group is portrayed as everything good about the Noble Savage archetype, peacefully coexisting with their technology embracing neighbors and even trading with them for what few necessities they require beyond their own capability to produce.
    • Star Trek: Voyager's take on the Q is interesting. TNG had previously established that the Q believed humans might one day develop into a civilization comparable to themselves (and were not very pleased about it); yet, in Voyager, most of the all-but-omnipotent Q are shown to be bored half out of their minds, because life offers no challenges anymore.
  • Fringe seems to take a stance of science being both bad and good, since its used to both cause and help solve the Freaky Mystery of the Week! The Grey-and-Gray Morality of the show seems to imply that science can accomplish good things, but at the cost of other good things, and the scientist's mileage may vary as to whether the accomplishments are worth the cost. This is especially obvious when comparing and contrasting Walter and Walternate; each crosses lines that the other will not. For example, Walter is willing to experiment on children while Walternate is not, but Walternate is willing to trap people alive in amber while Walter is not.
  • The Stargate Atlantis episode "Trinity," wherein McKay finds an abandoned Ancient experiment to produce limitless energy, it's repeatedly suggested that he is getting in over his head (The Ancients did not complete the program, and it went rather wrong). Despite constant protestations that this is a field they are simply not ready for, McKay continues. In the end he ends up destroying about five-sixths of a solar system (it's not an exact science). While the episode plays the aesop straight, a later episode has a solution to the problems from the first time, and the attempt is assisted by an Asgard, the most technologically advanced race who will talk with humanity.
  • CSI: NY: "What Schemes May Come" features an unethical genetics lab which is responsible for a death in their experiments. When first showing off their lab, the cops think it's weird, and Det. Taylor says that progress is great, "it just went on too far".
  • Eleventh Hour generally runs on this trope, as should be expected of a show about a duo that takes down people who apply new technology unethically. However, it does at times depict the potential good that can be done with stem cells, genetic engineering and the like.
  • Most of Battlestar Galactica avoids this, but the finale takes a great big swerve into Writer on Board territory. First, everybody decides to chuck their technology — including, one assumes, their various medical advances — and revert to hunter-gatherer barbarism in the hopes that their descendants will do better. Have fun rediscovering penicillin a couple hundred thousand years in the future, humanity! Second, Ron Moore confirms that, after a thoughtful examination of how difficult it is to break the cycle of revenge, he chucked the metaphor and explained that he's scared of our new Japanese robot overlords.
  • An episode of The Colbert Report featured Stephen interviewing the author of a book about robots and AI. The author pointed out that the West is largely wary of AI (see 2001) while the East (especially Japan) generally sees AI as a positive thing (see Astro Boy).
    • Stephen often says things like "I'm no fan of science," but seemed entirely keen on one specific form when hearing about a superlaser that concentrated laser beams into a small area to produce the temperatures and pressures of a star:
      Stephen: We have our own Death Star!
      (Cue rain of black balloons and a big "WE HAVE OUR OWN DEATH STAR" sign flashing in the foreground)
    • Stephen Colbert's views on science can be summed up as this: Cool Science = Good, Boring Science = Bad.
  • Dark Science Empire Deathdark, the villain group of Dai Sentai Goggle Five, revolve around using science for evil things. It's also informed that they helped the invention of sword so it can be used to kill. Ouch.
  • Lost played with this trope with Dharma Initiative being the "we will do it no matter what" side. Taken to the logical conclusion in season's 5 finale where they continue to drill over a pocket of electromagnetic energy, although they know that in-universe EM is a bad, explosive thing.
  • This is the basic philosophy behind the Consortium in Eureka.
  • Kamen Rider Build has science as its central theme, so naturally this trope comes into play. The villains get a good number of Breaking Speeches directed at the Science Hero protagonist where they point out that science has lead to greater weapons technology, and by extension greater wars and suffering; even more so because Build himself was originally a more amoral scientist, and both the Kamen Rider belts and Monsters of the Week were created by him as part of a secret government Super-Soldier project. Build always rejects these speeches by pointing out that science is simply a means to an end, and that it can accomplish great things in the right hands (as opposed to the wrong hands — namely, the villains').
  • Downplayed in Stranger Things, in which the moral is arguably closer to "Science Is Neutral But Incredibly Dangerous If Mishandled". The main villain in the first series (aside from the monster) is a cold-hearted, ruthless and amoral scientist who performs numerous reckless experiments which cause most of the the problems in the show, but our heroes are a group of science-loving preteen dorks whose mentor is a kind-hearted science teacher, Mr Clarke, who gives them much good advice throughout the series such as that even when "science is neat" it is rather unforgiving. The problem isn't science itself, but how it's used, and there's a reason they make you wear safety goggles…

  • The entire 01011001 album by the metal opera group Ayreon. See the song "Unnatural Selection" for a particularly anvilicious example.
  • System of a Down's "Science" from the album Toxicity is entirely devoted to explaining in detail how Science Is Bad and has "failed us," as "spirit moves through all things." Performed on electric instruments.
  • Styx's album Kilroy Was Here includes some brief diatribes, not against science per se, but against technology:
    The problem's plain to see
    Too much technology
    Machines to rule our lives
    Machines dehumanize.
    Mr. Roboto
  • The Aquabats!' song "The Cat with Two Heads!" is about a scientist who creates the eponymous two-headed feline, only for it to escape from captivity and go on a vengeful rampage against its creator.
  • The song Good Technology by Red Guitars doesn't necessarily condemn technology, but does lampshade its absurdities and moral ambiguities. The last verse sums it up:
    Sometimes I wonder what it is all about
    There's lots of leisure time to sit and work it out
    There's a TV show I've got to see
    Good, good, good, good, good, good technology
    Good technology
  • Ultimately subverted in Sepultura's Biotech Is Godzilla.
    Bio-technology ain't what's so bad
    Like all technology, it's in the wrong hands
    Cut-throat corporations don't give a damn
    When lots of people die from what they've made
  • The song "La concubine de l'hemoglobine" ("The concubine of Hemoglobin") by French rapper MC Solar: unbridled science entails war and wholesale destruction:
    Science sans conscience (science without conscience)
    egale science de l'inconscience (equals science of the unconscious)
    Elle se fout du progres mais souhaite la progression (it cares not of progress but wishes the progression)
    De tous les processus qui menent a l'elimination (of all processes that lead to elimination)
  • Nitin Sawhney's piece "Street Guru" features some random dude's bitchy platitudes over various things in modern life. On technology:
    I think there's going to be a backlash against technology. You know, I don't know what's gonna cause it. I hope it won't be any environmental disaster shit, you know, for sure for my kids that wanna live a better life…. You know sometimes it's good just to go in the woods and just go hiking and get back in touch with yourself and nature. You know, then you come back here and you realize that this is like, better. Ludicious all this emphasis on technology and 50 different internet devices and shit and internet devices you can put in your pocket. Sometimes I feel threatened by it but you know, that's the future and I am a man of the past. I'm a low-tech man in a high-tech world there ain't shit I can do about it... You know, what's going on we can't use our brains: It's being a person. You know it's being a fucking person man!
  • Zager & Evans "In The Year 2525."
  • "Cursed Be Iron" by Turisas appears to condemn iron-working, but is probably a metaphor for military technology or the misapplication of technology. It includes the demand that iron "Come and view thine evil doings/ And amend this flood of damage", seemingly avoiding the idea that science or technology are inherently bad.
  • "White Coats" by New Model Army appears to fit this trope, although it can be interpreted as criticising science when practiced without foresight or ethics, particularly given that it was written during an apparently self-destructive US-Soviet nuclear arms race- "Those last few days at Jonestown ain't got nothing on this ."
  • "Internet Killed The Video Star" by The Limousines has a repeated lyric "The kids are disco dancing, they're tired of rock n' roll/don't bother telling them that drum machine ain't got no soul." Though, this appears to be less of an overt science diss, so much as commentary on the modern youth culture failing to give enough credit to yester-year artists and musicians, and is arguably even a bittersweet passing of the torch to this next generation.
  • The Insane Clown Posse's infamous song Miracles (about appreciating the majesty of everything around you) suddenly includes the lines "And I don't want to talk to a scientist/Y'all motherfuckers lying and getting me pissed," which makes the song sound more like it's accusing science of sucking the mystery out of everything.
  • Vision Divine's Concept Album The Perfect Machine deals with a history about a scientist who discovered the key to eternal life and the consecquences of achieving immortality.

  • Subverted in a strange and depressing sort of way by Arch Oboler's Lights Out radio short "Chicken Heart" (as made famous by Bill Cosby); the scientist responsible for creating the spreading, cancerous blob of chicken muscle knows exactly how to stop the monster, but he can't get the authorities to drop the hammer in time or with enough force. If only they'd known about the monster-retardant properties of Jell-O.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 has a rather odd relationship with this trope. On one hand, anything resembling actual science is Strongly Frowned Upon by the setting's closest equivalent, the Tech Priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus. The setting also happens to be home to examples of every category on the Scale of Scientific Sins. On the other hand, Cybernetics Eat Your Soul and No Transhumanism Allowed aren't in effect for a sizable portion of the setting, presumably due to the sheer Coolness of cybernetics superseding the normally all-pervasive Rule of Grimdark.
    • Another subversion, considering that the race that is arguably the closest to being the "Good Guys" (or, all things considered, "least evil") of the setting, the Tau, are the only ones who embrace science and technological advancement.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Yawgmoth is portrayed as a rational-minded character who relies only on scientific methods, while others rely on not better defined "magic". He's the Big Bad.
    • Subverted by the set "New Phyrexia"; while the Blue-affiliated Evilutionary Biologist scientists of the Progress Engine are evil and show many of the common traits of this trope, they are not any more villainous than the religiously dogmatic Machine Orthodoxy and the aggressively anti-science Vicious Swarm.
    • Then there's Ravnica's Izzet Guild, where everyone is a Mad Scientist and explosions abound. The craziest member of the guild is also their most powerful member and founder Nivv-Mizzet, who also happens to be a dragon. That said, the guild is just as vital to Ravnica as the other guilds, and none of the guilds are straight up good or evil.
  • White Wolf's Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Mage: The Ascension.
    • In Werewolf, the PCs are shapechanging super-powered eco-terrorists.
    • The Glass Walkers, a technophiliac tribe of the Garou Nation are held in contempt by most of the rest of the tribes, and called "urrah" (unclean). The game as a whole is somewhat ambivalent: On the one hand side, the Weaver, cosmic power of structure and stasis, becoming dominant and calcifying reality is a possible form of the Apocalypse. On the other, the Weaver is made up of several principles and it's strongly hinted at that strengthening the Incarna of Science against its absorption into the technological Machine and the dogmatic Patriarch could return the Weaver as a whole to sanity.
    • In Mage, it's not so much that technology is bad as it is that people are taught that technology is the only way; in this world, reality is what people believe, and believing there's no such thing as monsters or magic goes a long way to protect humans from the aforementioned shapechanging super-powered eco-terrorists and other supernatural beings out to victimize humanity. Unfortunately, this leads to giving up creativity and magic. Happily, as a counterexample proving that Science itself is not bad, we have the Etherites and Virtual Adepts, and most members of the Technocratic Union (the main antagonists) are perfectly decent people who just happen to be on the wrong side from the players' point of view, and as they became playable, their views became more human and sympathetic.
    • Changeling: The Dreaming has a somewhat schizoid attitude towards science: it's the moon landing that opened the doors to Arcadia and allowed the Sidhe to return, but in general technology is seen as just chock-full of imagination-killing (and so changeling-killing) Banality, except maybe for the Steampunk-ish gadgets of the Nockers.
      • The 20th anniversary edition of Changeling: The Dreaming gleefully abandoned this, along with cleaning up a lot of the dissonant tonality in the original. In the new edition, exploring the wonders of the natural world through science is a perfectly valid source of Glamour, and Banality is a dampening force on science because it drains curiosity and stifles creativity, including technological innovation. The Technocracy are still Banality-spouting walking wastelands, but this is because of their loathing of all things unmeasurable and pathologic need to quantify and classify everything into neat little boxes, not because of their relationship to science.
    • The Broken Aesop of the entire oWOD was that the creeds opposing "stasis", represented by the science that regularly changes the world, were heavily into hierarchy and hadn't changed in centuries.
    • In the New World of Darkness, things have taken a step or two away. Werewolves still largely distrust technology, because it's done more to screw up the Shadow Realm than anything else, but they accept that it has a place and hold this version's technophile tribe, the Iron Masters, in better regard than their past counterparts. In fact, one of the antagonist Pure Tribes is given the "Luddites" hat (it's worth noting the Pure are very reminiscent of the Garou). Over in Mage, things haven't changed as much; the Free Council, Spiritual Successor to the Virtual Adepts, are given short shrift largely because they're rather young and tend to make nuisances of themselves. However, science is no longer the primary tool of a Well-Intentioned Extremist Ancient Conspiracy that may have Jumped Off The Slippery Slope.
    • The fanmade Genius: The Transgression certainly can give this vibe, but it's actually not an example since no comment is made on sane science — or arguably an aversion, since the further a Genius' beliefs differ from reality (the one sane scientists are so busy documenting), the easier it is to slip into outright grave-robbing, god-defying, blood-splattered Mad Science.
  • Kicked in the balls by CthulhuTech: the main reason why humans have a fighting chance is because science found a way to make Magitek and Humongous Mecha.
    Random Free Councilor: "Told you so!"
  • Settings where Cybernetics Eat Your Soul. Most of these worlds are Cyberpunk dystopias, so they often feature this trope in other ways, too.
  • SLA Industries, where it's probably impossible to count all the examples of "SLA tries to solve their problems by engineering a new breed of super-monster, but it goes nuts and turns against them".
  • KULT, where "Victim Of Medical Experiments" is a viable Dark Secret for players. Oh, yeah, along with the fact that the growth of cities and technology is actually part of the breakdown of the illusion that is reality — the illusion that's covering up the horrifying true reality underneath it.
  • In the original Dungeons & Dragons "Known World" campaign setting (later renamed Mystara), the ancient civilization of Blackmoor was technological, but destroyed itself in what is implied to have been a nuclear war. The Immortals decreed that this could never be allowed to happen again. However, they allowed one pocket of Blackmoor society to endure as a lost land in the Hollow World with the caveat that all of its simulated "technology" is actually magic based, and therefore impossible for its citizens to reverse engineer, reproduce, or improve upon.
  • Parodied in Paranoia. Science is crazy, even when it's awesome, and it's trying to kill you.

  • Steve Reich's "video opera" Three Tales, an Author Filibuster-filled work that centres around the crash of the airship Hindenberg, the nuclear test at Bikini Atoll, and Dolly the cloned sheep.

    Video Games 
  • Angel at Dusk: the main antagonist faction, the Regressionists, believe this. They believe that that intelligence itself is the source of all evil and sin. Thus, the products of science must by definition be evil and sinful. (And yes, the Regressionists to plan to remove their own intelligence once they've finished removing everyone else's.)
  • Zigzagged in Arcanum: in a world where magic and technology literally cannot mix, technology is seen as improving the lot of the masses (and thus decried by mages and aristocrats) but also results in pollution (the game's setting is around the Industrial Revolution, with all the social issues that implies) and better-armed criminals. Talking to mages in Tulla about technology gets responses that vary from amused contempt to genuine fear.
  • Lost Odyssey inverts this as technology is neutral and it's actually magic that's screwing with the natural order.
  • Frequently a side plot of many Final Fantasy games, though never played straight.
    • Subverted in Final Fantasy X. The characters (and the population of Spira in general) spend most of the game thinking that the Big Bad was created as punishment for bad science, only to find out that it's actually magic gone wrong. They eventually defeat him with machines believed to be evil, instead of the religious ritual they were meant to use. By X-2, both of the major factions (the Youth League and New Yevon) agree science is okay; their major disagreement is how quickly all of the previously-suppressed technology should be distributed and implemented into society (New Yevon being the more conservative faction).
      • It's also the reason that the Al Bhed are ostracised from society; they've always made heavy use of machina, and are the only ones to speak out against the idea of the summoner's pilgrimage, though this is mainly because of the fact that the process ends up in the death of the summoner for what would only be a quick breather from Sin's malice.
      • The Church of Yevon had as one of its core tenets that machina is evil but since they knew the truth about Sin they had no compunctions against using it themselves. The very heart of their church in Bevelle is actually an advanced Magitek city in disguise — the Bevelle temple makes use of machina transporters and their troops wield machina rifles and are supported by war machina.
    • Final Fantasy VII starts off seemingly with this theme, but introduces more nuance to it as the story goes in. On the one hand, many of the characters rely on technology and science to live and get by, particularly after the events of the game itself. But characters like Hojo, who experiments on people purely to satisfy his own ego, rather than benefiting humanity, and the rest of Shinra Inc. tend to abuse it. Also, the game's environmental message, and going back to a simpler, rustic existence was seen as favorable to an advanced one. However, Bugenhagan, the head of the most rustic settlement in the world, enjoys his ride on the Airship, calling the technology something akin to "the wisdom of man." When Barret, the leader of AVALANCHE, meets a man living in a remote glacial house, he says if he were to live in nature like that he'd make it "more comfortable," then quickly realizes that's what technology is and has a brief "Not So Different" Remark moment about Shinra before quickly recanting. The real message doesn't seem to be that Science Is Bad, but that Science needs to be used carefully.
      • It's also worth pointing out that Bugenhagen himself operates quite an advanced observatory and planetarium.
  • Played with in Ōkami, where Yami, God of Darkness is implied to be the originator of Technology and is a Mechanical Lifeform (albeit one with a seemingly organic core) as well as the fact that the demons Lechku and Nechku are robotic owls. However, Waka's Tao Troopers use Magitek computers and the Moon Tribe apparently do have some access to advanced technology. In fact, helping a mechanic with his research will give Amaterasu the power to summon lightning. Ultimately, it seems that Science and Evil don't exactly go hand in hand.
  • Mother 3 heavily suggests that the proliferation of technology would bring about the world's downfall, especially given how certain scenery transforms as the game progresses. Though it seems to hint more at an 'American culture is bad' message. Which is really ironic given how the first two games celebrated modern society and used the setting as an Affectionate Parody of American culture.
    • Other interpretations of Mother 3 suggest the game wants you to think this at first, but the message overall is less "science is bad" so much as "happiness is a fuzzy subject that can be defined and measures in a lot of different ways and both science and naturalism are one of many valid ways to achieve happiness".
  • In Fallout 3 the most prominent case is Doctor Lesko, a wannabe Mad Scientist who created the fire ants that destroyed Grayditch in an experiment Gone Horribly Wrong. Despite this, the game makes it clear that Lesko is merely careless, not evil, and science-oriented players have the opportunity to lecture on him on proper experimental procedure.
    • The Fallout 'verse has its share of good and evil scientists. Most "good" scientists adapt existing technology to try to rebuild civilization (such as the Project Purity and Rivet City teams). Scientists who use Forced Evolutionary Virus are depicted either as irresponsible or outright evil.
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, Veronica, a member of the Brotherhood of Steel and a potential companion is frustrated that the Brotherhood only cares about recovering and preserving specific technology from the pre-war days, such as Powered Armor and Energy Weapons, but not develop new technology or find alternate uses for the stuff they have. Only one Elder insists on alternate avenues of research but his ideas are dismissed as insanity, mostly because he is the only Elder to gain his position via the Scribe route instead of Paladin. That and the fact that Elijah was a madman obsessed with obtaining technology no matter the cost and planned to use technology to enslave the Mojave (with his belief in obtaining non-military technology being portrayed as Pragmatic Villainy).
    • The New California Republic has scientists working round-the-clock trying to solve their power, food, and water problems.
    • This is also one of the teachings of Caesar, who believe that technology led to the decadence of the old world, prohibiting any weapons that do not require infantry and medicine beyond tribal remedies (stating that those who depend on such are weak and deserved to be culled). Caesar himself has an Auto-Doc for his brain tumor and is willing to take Arcade Gannon as a physician. Plus his disgustingly cruel methods and that absolutely everyone predicts that the Legion will destroy itself if it ever runs out of people to conquer.
    • The DLC Old World Blues is based in functional pre-war research facility that is filled with experiments that are both extremely helpful and extremely cruel. Ultimately in the epilogue of the DLC your own Karma determines whether science is evil or not. (A good courier will use the facility for humanity's benefit, a bad one will use it for personal gain).
    • Fallout 4 generally abandons the nuance of previous entries for a straight Science is Bad ethos, with few exceptions. The Institute, a hidden cadre of scientists descended from M.I.T. and the people who create the Synths, are generally considered to be the game's Big Bad; given how they treat the Synths they create with almost no consideration for their rights, it's really not hard to see how most people come to that conclusion. Meanwhile the most noble faction, the Commonwealth Minutemen, are a bunch of down-to-earth wastelanders with jury-rigged Schizo Tech.
    • One of your companions, the Super Mutant Strong, holds technology in disdain and disapproves of you hacking terminals or using Power Armor.
  • Crystalis takes place 100 years after a nuclear war ends civilization. Since then, the people have abandoned science in favor of magic.
  • Doom:
    • Doom is based on the premise that teleportation is a literal contact with Hell. Half or more of the demons are cybernetically augmented. On the other hand, experimental weapons tend to save the day.
    • Doom³: The company that develops the teleportation device is shown to have also created breakthroughs in energy generation and storage, and is in the process of terraforming Mars. However, lack of grasp on the risks left the researchers unprepared against the forces of Hell, and their CEO goes through a Demonic Possession.
    • In Doom (2016) the UAC not only teleported to Hell, but started harvesting actual Hell energy as an unlimited power source. Granted, they take all kinds of extra steps to scrub all the evil out of it before sending it to Earth and other human colonies, and the only reason the Mars facility they work out of goes under is due to the demons corrupting a head scientist, who started a cult and eventually makes a deal to help them invade Mars in exchange for godhood. This along with other elements of the story paint a picture of less "Science is bad" and more "Over-harvesting natural resources for short-term benefits without conideration toward the consequences will inevitably lead to disaster for everyone involved."
  • Occurs a few times in the Tales Series:
    • In Tales of Symphonia, all technology uses Exspheres, which are Powered by a Forsaken Child. Furthermore, the Big Bad turns out to have this view: for it's revealed that he split the world into two in order to ensure that neither would have the Mana supplies required to develop weapons of mass destruction.
    • While not exactly played straight in Tales of Vesperia, the technology actually does have the unintended side effect of summoning the Adephagos. As it turns out, in-universe, all technology is actually powered by the souls of the Entelexeia, solidified and broken into fragments.
    • The Big Bad of Tales of Graces was once a humanoid who became a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds when the only scientist to treat him with love was secretly trying to turn him into Fodra's new Lastalia and was killed by another scientist and her humanoids because her and her superiors saw Lambda as a threat because anything injected with his cells would become a monster.
    • Tales of Xillia features Spyrix machines. "Natural" magic works by feeding Mana to Spirits and being granted their magic in exchange. Spyrix machines burn Mana as fuel to create magical effects, thus starving Spirits of their food source. Spyrix were initially created to level the playing field between those who could use Spirit Magic and those who were biologically incapable of it. This offended the Lord of Spirits enough that he rounded up everything magical in the world and sealed them away in a separate world, forcing the survivors to rely even more on Spyrix to fill the massive magic-shaped gap in their civilisation. It tips the balance so badly that the Spyrix world is practically a wasteland by the time the protagonists visit it. Fortunately, the final act of the game has the protagonists use their scientific knowledge to research and develop a new technology that addresses everyone's concerns: Spyrite technology.
  • In Breath of Fire III, Myria has a complicated relationship with this trope - while science may not be evil exactly, it's too dangerous to leave in human hands. Her goal is to protect humanity from destruction, so she provides technology to the "lands of life" in controlled amounts, while discouraging humans from innovating too much on their own to prevent another catastrophe like the creation of the Desert of Death. And the events at the Plant, driven by Mad Scientist Director Palet, indicate that she might have a point. On the other hand, she's the Big Bad, and her plan is ultimately a Gilded Cage for humanity. Whether she's right or not, on this and other issues, is up to the player.
  • There are good scientists in City of Heroes. They're just constantly over shadowed by people like Crey, the 5th Column, The Council, and Neuron. Oh, and Portal Corp, despite being a good organization, has caused way more harm than good.
    • There's also the enemy group called the Luddites. They live in the Rogue Isles and can be seen protesting Dr. Aeon's evil technology all over Cap Au Diable. As it turns out, his tech really is evil, just not quite in the way they suspected.
  • Resident Evil: Science and evil are like best pals in the Resident Evil universe. Most, if not all, the troubles in the series are caused by groups of power hungry scientists who think it's a novel idea to use the T and G-Virus to create unstable monstrosities with a likelihood of things going wrong being above 105%. There is not one good scientist in the entire series and major villains like Albert Wesker and Alexia Ashford are the results of genetic engineering to create the ultimate super-being. Doubly so by the fact that the scientists who started the research and are responsible for all the horror, are also the founders and owners of the company, so they can't get away with the usual "the man used my work for evil" excuse.
  • While Spore doesn't go so far as to outright call science bad, it is notable that the Scientist archetype's special ability is the Gravity Wave, which instantly wipes out all life on a planet and is one of the only two archetypes whose special ability breaks Galactic Code to use (the other being the planet-converting Zealot).
  • In Alpha Centauri, the science-based faction of the University of Planet has an increased number of drones due to 'unethical research'. The fundamentalist faction also rails against the (unrighteous) use of technology, though their leader Miriam is not a Luddite, rather fearing that humanity will lose control of their creations.
    Sister Miriam: The righteous need not cower before the drumbeat of human progress. Though the song of yesterday fades into the challenge of tomorrow, God still watches and judges us. Evil lurks in the datalinks as it lurked in the streets of yesteryear. But it was never the streets that were evil.
    • In the novelizations, Miriam is perfectly willing to use advanced technology received (read: stolen) from other factions, such as the Morganites and the University, be it using a genetically-engineered virus to wipe out the entire population of a base or putting quantum singularity generators into planet busters (super-nukes) and using them to level entire continents.
  • In MediEvil this trope is referenced. When visiting the HQ of the evil wizard Zarok (your nemesis), which is full of Magitek and Steampunk gizmos (from the Steampowered undead soldiers, through a Steam train in eleventh century England, all the way into Time Machines), one of the exposition-delivering Gargoyles mentions that Zarok has mastered "the darkest of all magics: Science".
  • Mega Man Star Force 3 Tia and Jack were both orphaned in war for the technology of their home. They join the Dealers and want to use Meteor G to destroy all the worlds technology.
  • The Alliance-UN war central to the plot of Mission Critical is sparked by fear of science going out of control after the first created AIs caused a university to be wiped out by a Kill Sat. UN imposes a ban on certain fields of research and demands that all of humanity abide by it. Several nations refuse, forming the Alliance of Free States. Interestingly enough, despite their fear of advanced technology, the UN Space Navy is much more advanced than the Alliance one.
  • Baten Kaitos Origins sets itself up with this trope and then subverts the hell out of it with the true villain of the story being a magic wielder. The ultimate moral seems to be that neither science or magic are bad, it's merely how people choose to use them.
  • In Guilty Gear, humanity was pushed to the brink of extinction in a brutal war with the titular Gears, who were created by scientists, one of whom was Sol Badguy, the main character, to be the next step in human evolution. Most nations (except Zepp) have outlawed conventional science and technology as "Black Tech" and replaced it with magic, although that eventually ends up getting abused by humans as well.
  • The Combine's propaganda in Half-Life: Alyx takes this stance towards human-led scientific progress, in order to tap into fears stemming from the Black Mesa Incident. Several posters put up around City 17 bear the words "Human Science" underneath cherry-picked images of scientific atrocities, including a syringe pointed at a person's eye, a nuclear explosion, and a mouse with a human ear growing on its back.
  • In the backstory of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the King of Hyrule believed this, fearing advanced Sheikah technology for how it could potentially become a threat, even after the four Divine Beasts defended the kingdom from Calamity Ganon. He had the Beasts buried and exiled the Sheikah tribe. It turned out he wasn't entirely wrong; when Calamity Ganon returned 1000 years later, the Great Beasts were unearthed and four champions selected to pilot them, but this time round, Ganon possessed the machines with phantom aspects of himself and turned them against Hyrule. However, Link can take back the mechs so that new champions can pilot them, and uses ancient technology in the form of an ability-granting Sheikah Slate. Plus, Sheikah scientist Purah is plenty sympathetic and helpful, if a tad eccentric. The overall message seems to be that technology can be good or bad depending who's using it, and for what purpose.

  • This sentiment is expressed by some characters in Girl Genius, given the damage that Sparks are known to do (and many of the characters who think so were, indeed, casualties of Spark activity). One of these characters is Othar Tryggvassen (GENTLEMAN ADVENTURER), a Spark himself, who decided to set off on a quest to eliminate the Spark from the world, ending with his own death, because he's keenly aware of how dangerous they can be.
    • Can also be interpreted as a subversion by savvy readers: the spark is very much not science, it's a blatantly magical force which no one but the original user can reproduce that coincidentally mostly produces physical objects which superficially appear mechanical. The few sparks who can treat the spark as actual science (that is, work out the principles, write them down comprehensibly, and explain them such that others can reproduce them) can be counted on one hand and are treated as problem-solvers of the highest caliber worthy of even enemies' respect: the Wulfenbachs, Van Rijin, and possibly the Storm King.
  • Minimum Security is a very hard, left-leaning environmentalist comic that oftens takes pot shots at science. Many characters bomb labs and power plants while celebrating a world in which people remained agrarian.
  • No Black Plume frequently parodies this, including a six-part series entitled "Science Will Ruin Your Life".
  • An in-universe view in The Glass Scientists is that science - especially mad science - is source of all evil. The main character's efforts focus on changing this outlook.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!: Discussed by Voluptua and Galatea, after Galatea calls out Voluptua's alien civilization for apparently not being very advanced, and then realizes to her horror that they are, as Galatea puts it, "Amish."

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • A short video by Ben Croshaw of Zero Punctuation fame had a radio playing during Half-Life's train ride opening.
    Radio: You're listening to Black Mesa Radio: We play the hits while you play god.

    Western Animation 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): This trope may seem like it's at play at first, but it's not. It's directly pointed out that Robotnik's machines are only evil because he uses technology to do evil things — not because technology is inherently bad in and of itself. Case in point, the Roboticizer was created by Uncle Chuck to allow elderly and terminally ill people to live longer: when he realized it also had the side effect of making them into mindless automatons, he immediately shelved it with the intention of not using it at all until and unless he could figure out a way to remove that side effect. Things only went bad when Robotnik stole it and started converting every Mobian he could get his hands on into a robotic slave.
  • Practically every episode of the first season of Super Friends focused not on a villain but on a Well-Intentioned Extremist, a Mad Scientist, or a regular scientist whose invention accidentally runs amok. An early episode had a scientist gain hyper-intelligence (and a cartoonishly enlarged cranium) due to some sort of radiation experiment, and rather than use his superior intellect to take over the world, decides to broadcast the rays so that everyone on Earth can enjoy the same radically evolved intelligence as him. Thank god the Justice League saved us from the horrifying fate of becoming smarter!
  • Dr. Blight from Captain Planet and the Planeteers is the show's resident embodiment of the trope. Having said that, one Planeteer Alert encourages viewers to learn more about science, since science can be used for good.
  • The Simpsons
    • Parodied with the ignorant townsfolk going on an anti-science riot, including attacking the Museum of Natural History, with Moe smashing a mammoth skeleton, having it land on his back and crying "Oh! My back! I'm paralyzed! I only hope medical science can cure me!"
    • Another episode showed a similar mob set to burn Principal Skinner at the stake for insisting that the earth revolves around the sun.
    • In the episode "Bart's Comet", when the eponymous comet burns up in Springfield's polluted atmosphere instead of destroying the town as predicted, Moe shouts "Let's go burn down the observatory so this never happens again!" Cue the angry mob.
  • Delightfully parodied in any episode of The Angry Beavers where they feature B-Movie star Oxnard Montalvo. ("The crawling spleen has grown an opposable thumb, oh the humanity!")
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender takes place during the Fire Nations industrial revolution, pitting nature vs science on the expected poles, as they are also environmentally harmful, which is also harmful to spirits. Science as a whole isn't treated poorly (positive examples include The Mechanist and Sokka), but its more often exploited by the Fire Nation, and the butt of some early jokes given the magical nature of the show.
  • The Legend of Korra plays with this, the technology has advanced, and its portrayed as a good thing, cars and airships abound. Then the Equalist with Hiroshi Sato as the Evil Gadgeteer Genius unveil all new better technology with shock gauntlets, robots, and airplanes, in addition to the cars and airships. Those planes are use to take down the bender army's Magitek battleships.
  • Played straight in an episode of the CGI Garfield series. The first half of the episode features Odie digging up a dinosaur bone, only to have the local museum threaten to get a court order evicting them from their home because "science is more important", the second part of the episode features a cleaning robot gone mad.
  • In the Teacher's Pet movie, the Big Bad says, "Nature is dead! Science is king!" Science is the study of nature…
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes:
    • While the show doesn't have this as a theme, Thor does have this opinion. He's proven wrong. Repeatedly.
    • Captain America often chides Iron Man for his reliance on technology. 'Cause, you know, it's not like his powers came from technology, or anything. Though the point Captain America is attempting to make is that Iron Man should try to broaden his skill set and be able to think outside the box instead of treating his armor and billion-dollar lab as The All-Solving Hammer.
  • The Tick parodies this trope in "Tick vs. The Proto Clown", in which a scientist who loves clowns theorized that a bigger clown would be even funnier, and his creation is now terrorizing The City.
    Arthur: Good gosh, man. Didn't you know it was against the laws of nature? Clowns were never meant to be that big!
  • Invention of Love has Steampunk technology in a "too much of a good thing" sense. Mechanical horses? Awesome! A house full of appliances? Convenient! A polluted city without any natural flora or fauna? Throwing away the rose your true love gave you when it wilts and building a mechanical replacement? ...not so much.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Technology Is Evil



Dystopia stories must instill distrust in scientific progress.

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Main / ScienceIsBad

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