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Uterine Replicator

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"In the year 6565
Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube
Zager and Evans, "In the Year 2525"

A uterine replicator is a way of growing a child outside the human body by using technology, magic, or a combination of the two in place of the mother's womb. Such a technology has two main applications: it can be used by couples in place of traditional reproduction, or it can be used by large organizations as means of producing a large amount of humans in an industrial fashion.

In regard to the first application, the reasons behind it are many and varied: sometimes it's done to combat problems with sterility, sometimes it's treated as the logical extreme of planned parenthood, sometimes it's a way to protect the mother from Death by Childbirth, sometimes it's even used let two men reproduce together without invoking the rather messy issues of Mister Seahorse. It can also be a case of a Truly Single Parent with a rather unique personal philosophy, wishing not to "pollute" his/her child (often a Designer Baby) by exposure to the "flawed" environment of a natural/organic womb.

Because of the benefits described above, such an application of these devices is usually not associated with overtly Dystopian settings. However, the other application — that of industrial production of humans — absolutely is. In the most typical scenario, popularized by works such as Brave New World, a power-hungry totalitarian government outlaws all sex (or specifically all reproductive sex), and claims exclusive rights to making children, who it can then easily brainwash into accepting the government's official ideology and their place in society without question from birth (or even from conception) due to them having no biochemically based emotional attachments to their parents. This is also a convenient way to prevent a coup; if the government is overthrown, humanity loses its only means of reproduction and the rebels doom themselves alongside their leaders. In less-well-written stories of this kind, whoever's rebelling against said government is likely to contend that the technology itself is inherently evil because the method is artificial, rather than that the government is evil for using it as part of its oppressive brainwashing techniques. Likewise, they may undercut their own moral position by contending there's something inherently evil about the children produced this way, on the grounds that having no biochemical attachment to one's parents somehow "erases" one's humanity.

In an increasing number of science-fiction settings where a society is portrayed as promoting gender equality, uterine replicators are a way of allowing women to skip the mental and physical health risks of natural pregnancy to mother and child, particularly if the mother works in an inherently dangerous environment or occupation such as the military.

Others use uterine replicators to demonstrate how misogynistic a setting is, as many feminists theorize that the patriarchy originated as a response to men's womb envy. Women play a much greater role in reproduction than men do, and maternity was always something guaranteed but paternity was not. The heavy restrictions placed on female sexuality and the need to make women submissive to men were done to exploit women's childbearing capability and ensure paternity. The use of uterine replicators thus make women "obsolete" and give men full power over the creation of life.

If the child grown in such a device is also genetically engineered (as is often the case), see Designer Babies. Artificial Humans are usually products of this.

Rarely pointed out is the fact that such devices run into the same problem as Only Electric Sheep Are Cheap, in that it usually would be much cheaper (given the implied cost of labor even in these advanced settings) to make a baby the old-fashioned way.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Osamu Tezuka's Apollo's Song, the Syntheans have no genitalia, and instead reproduce by cloning.
  • In Armitage III, the Thirds are androids who are so human, they are capable of getting pregnant and bearing children. Their main function is to supplement the population on Mars, making them uterine replicators combined with Sexbots.
  • Cells at Work!: This is how cellular division is depicted. Tissue cells have a cloning vat in their living rooms, and blood cells have an Orphanage of Love where stem cells produce blood corpuscle progenitor cells from a machine that looks like a big grey pokéball. Megakaryocytes (who produce platelet cells), however, are depicted as Momzillas who actually bear children.
  • In Ergo Proxy, all citizens are born from artificial wombs due to being clones created from DNA stored within the Proxies. Maybe.
  • In Franken Fran, Fran devises a replicator based on the life cycle of flies. The baby starts out as a maggot, becomes a cocoon, then hatches as a normal baby. Another doctor steals her research and mass-markets the technique. The series being what it is, it goes horribly wrong, as the doctor didn't bother testing how the cocoons would fare when brought outside of a sterile environment.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam:
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Kira Yamato is considered the "Ultimate Coordinator" because he was grown in one of these, which means his genetic mods came out exactly as intended because there weren't any outside factors from the mother to influence them. Thus far, he is the only known human being to ever successfully be gestated this way, and more are not likely forthcoming anytime soon, as the facility was a secret one destroyed by a terrorist attack, so the technology is no longer around.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, it is stated that because of the reduced gravity in space, pregnancies were particularly dangerous, and so a lot of babies (including Quatre's sisters) were born this way. Eventually, they found some way to make natural pregnancy and birth safe for most women in the space colonies. Sadly, Quatre's mother was not one of them.
  • In Pure Trance, Yuriko, Rika, Yuki, and Miki were born this way. When their pregnant mothers were all assigned to Center 102 for overeating, Kaori decided to remove their fetuses via C-section and place them into artificial womb machines. That way the babies could grow to full term safely, while their mothers could be treated solely for their trance addictions.
  • A variation in the backstory of the Tenchi Muyo! OVA series with the character Airi Masaki. She was in a Secret Relationship with Yosho, the crown prince of Jurai, and wound up getting pregnant by him. But because their races hated each other she knew the child would be killed if her people found out about it, so she had the embryo removed from her and placed into a device like this temporarily until she was in a position where she could have the child returned to her and give birth in safety. The result was their daughter Minaho, Tenchi's aunt. Ryoko was also grown in one of these, along with Ryo-ohki.
  • The society of Toward the Terra established by the S.D. Government uses this exclusively. All babies are born in test tubes, then assigned to a couple to be raised, and once they reach a certain age the memories of those parents are removed and the child moves on to life as an adult. It's all system set up by the computer which runs the Superior Domination Government in order to control humans, and the memory erasure is to detect and weed out new abnormal evolutions that the computer does not if they're a good thing or bad thing. When pairs of Mu decide to have children the "natural way", it's at first believed impossible but the result is the 7 most powerful Mu to ever exist.
  • In Vandread, humanity has split into a planet of all males called Tarak and a planet of all females called Mejare. DNA from a couple is manipulated to give a new baby. On Tarak, this means a factory birth, while on Mejare, the baby is implanted in the womb to be born normally. This makes them effectively a pair of One Gender Races, though normal breeding could be resumed. Note that these are not the only colony worlds left, just the main ones we see.

    Comic Books 
  • Judge Dredd: Joseph Dredd and the rest of his clones were developed in these. They were artificially aged to about 5 years, then aged normally from that point on.
  • Legends of the Dead Earth: In Robin (1993) Annual #5, babies are created artificially through a process known as the Childing. After they are born, they are taken to the Nursery where they are raised until they are nine cycles (years) old, at which time they are put to work in the fields.
  • In Alejandro Jodorowsky's Megalex, the police clones are born from one of these. In this case it resembles a large black sphere with a techno-vagina on the front of it. Obviously the clones come out of that. It even features a flashing red clitoris announcing the birth of a clone.
  • Superman: From 1986 to 2003, this was true of Kryptonian births, such that the rocket that spirited Kal-El away to Earth actually contained his "birthing matrix." It's been retconned out of existence, although Justice League: Gods and Monsters reuses that idea.
  • In the Dark Horse Comics run of The Terminator, a group of post-apocalypse survivors in the ruins of Disneyworld have created a breeding program to repopulate humanity after many were sterilized by radiation; using artificial wombs grown from seaweed, and, oddly enough, the ova of a group of nuns (and whatever fertile males they ran across).
  • Wonder Woman (1987): The kreel of the Sangtee Empire has sworn off natural births and only uses uterine replicators as part of the cultural ban on women and for more government control of the population. Even this does not prevent women from being born since, as natural kreel biology includes the ability to shift sex later in life, the clone of male will not necessarily turn out to be male itself.
  • Towards the end of X-23: Innocence Lost, the Facility starts on X-24 through X-50 in these in the hopes of avoiding the problems they had with the current prototype's broodmare. They were only a few weeks along when they were destroyed along with the whole place.
  • The Shi'Ar Empire associated with the X-Men has this technology. In one story, this is how Scott's missing brother survived as a fetus after their mother died, being rapidly grown in a tank by their scientists. Warbird also mentions how her father is an automated "seed sprinkler" and her mother is a donor whose eggs were taxed as a part of her position.

    Fan Works 
  • Ask The New Hope's Peak: While not seen, there's a detailed description of how human cloning is performed using these.
  • A Certain Droll Hivemind: Misaka-11111 brings up the growth vats that the clones were born in, and idly compares her gene-source's mother to such a vat by describing her physical pregnancy as "untrained labour" in comparison to her much more controlled and precise development.
    They are not the same model of growth vat, anyway. Mine was the product of careful and precise research and development, and was overseen by highly trained experts in diverse fields of science. Misaka Mikoto was made by untrained labour.
    It is astonishing how well she turned out, given such limitations. Perhaps that is what is meant by "overcoming your background".
  • A Pink Planet: One of the Coral Research Site's many innovations is the creation of incubation chambers, allowing humans and human/gem hybrids to be bred artificially. Thanks to this, Pink was able to have Steven without giving up her physical form.
  • Sonic X: Dark Chaos: The Miriam pods that the Emirate of Mecca uses are a subversion — they aren't uterine replicators, they're actual women, trapped in metal pods and forced to bear a child every few seconds. The heroes find this out when they come across a broken pod, still ejecting half-formed stillbirths.
  • Spyder: A big secret Sonic keeps from all his friends is that he found Tails in one of these while on a raid in Robotropolis.
  • Total Drama Legacy: Cameron is said to have invented one so that he and his husband Lightning could have kids.
  • Ultra Fast Pony uses this as a punchline in the episode "Making Babies": babies are created via magic because there aren't enough males around to make them the old-fashioned way. Also, sex was "messy and painful..."
  • Visiontale: Sans, Papyrus, and Alphys were created via CAD-and-CAD (the "and" should be the and sign) machines, essentially magic-assisted 3D printers used as uterine replicators. Sans's and Papyrus's father uses a CAD-and-CAD machine to lessen the accelerated aging process surrounding birthing a child without a partner. Alphys's parents do the same, except they split the burden between the two of them and a CAD-and-CAD machine.
  • Where We Don't Belong: The Machina use them as a matter of course, keeping their children safe inside pods until they are adults. Segiri and Fugiri came out of their pods early and lost their memories as a result, so everyone theorizes that something similar happened to Lanz.

    Films — Animation 
  • Ark: Early in the prologue, the heroine, Amarinth, was discovered as a baby inside one such replicator by a team of Storrian soldiers. Because of the Fantastic Racism between Ceveans and Storrians, one of the soldiers tries to destroy all the replicators, leading to Captain Jallak of the Storian army — and later Amarinth's adoptive father — to turn on his comrades and kill his own team, and finally decides to collect baby Amarinth as his own child.
  • Justice League: Gods and Monsters, like the post-crisis comics, has baby Superman grown in one that doubles as the spaceship that brings him to Earth. Notable that in this continuity, General Zod stops Supes' usual father Jor-El from contributing DNA and adds his own.
  • The Venture Bros: Radiant is the Blood of the Baboon Heart: The final scene reveals that the titular twins' Missing Mom never actually birthed them, but rather traded her eggs to Rusty in exchange for her superpowers. He gestated them in a specially designed womb that he wore, modeled after the style in Death Stranding.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Island (2005): The protagonists discover all of their fellow clones are grown in these. However, they are developed fully grown, with their skin and organs still developing despite being adult sized. It is shown that company's designer babies are grown in traditional wombs, just those of other clones.
  • Just Imagine: In 1980, babies are readily procurable from vending machines.
  • Man of Steel: Kryptonians are by now all born this way. Kal-El is unique in that he's the first naturally born (and non-genetically designed) baby in literally thousands of years.
  • The Matrix: Most humans are "grown" by the robots on People Farms.
  • The eponymous pods of the movie The Pod Generation are uterine replicators that superficially resemble eggs.
  • Replicant: The Replicant was grown in an artificial womb, coming out as a full-grown adult.
  • Star Wars: The army of the Republic is grown in vast racks of controlled tanks by Kaminoan cloners.
  • Victor Frankenstein: Discussed. Victor gets really, really drunk and raves about the concept (and test-tube babies) to a couple of ladies at a nightclub.

  • Alliance/Union: The challenge of competing with Earth's billions and the availability of sterility-inducing Longevity Treatment means that large swathes of Union's population come from bus-sized womb tanks programmed to replicate all the stimuli of a real pregnancy. Cyteen takes place at the biggest R&D facility for human cloning, whose labs pump out the occasional "vanity clone" for parents willing to pay through the nose for the privilege, all the livestock that exist off the homeworld (pigs are easy, horses and cows not so much), and Azi, Union’s genetically-engineered-and-brainwashed colonization and labor force.
  • Beowulf's Children by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Steven Barnes: A key plot element. Tau Ceti is colonized mostly by Human Popsicles and their descendants, but artificial wombs were provided just in case the women had trouble conceiving on an alien world. The colonists produced a creche of "Bottle Babies" before settling into producing them the old-fashioned way, and due to cryogenic brain damage never noticed a nasty problem with the tech until almost two decades later — the shifting balance of hormonal, nutritional and chemical messages between mother and fetus turns out to be an important part of pregnancy, and trying to consciously arbitrate unconscious body processes by committee (or more properly by several committes, each with its particular ideological, political, or methodological axe to grind)... doesn't work too well. Most of the creche were quickly adopted by the community, but they never gave much thought to the highly intelligent Aaron Tragon instead spending all his time with the ship's computers; because the biochemical stimulation in his bottle was too tame and he never bonded with a family to offset it, he is not only a sociopath, but a megalomaniac who ends up killing the primary colony's leader rather than let his splinter colony be abandoned.
  • Biting the Sun: Heterosexual sex is certainly possible — and extremely common — among the people of the dome cities, but babies are grown in tanks. It turns out that they're still capable of having kids the normal way if they stop eating the contraceptive-laced City food.
  • Older Than Television: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Babies are "grown" here too (and "decanted" rather than "born"), though this was before the development of modern genetics, so they must resort to more complicated and organic means than flipping genetic switches to create their hereditary castes. In-vitro oxygen starvation and alcohol poisoning is involved.
  • A Certain Magical Index: The Misaka clones are grown in tubes, decanted when they are physically fourteen (the same age as their gene-source), and then imprinted with the knowledge to serve their role. Later, a new clone is revealed: Last Order, who was never part of the experiment but was implanted with everything she needed before she even left her tube, because she was designed to serve as the Hive Queen. She ended up having to escape from her tube early because she was being hunted, leaving her physically about ten years old.
  • Count to the Eschaton: In The Hermetic Millenia, Hormagaunts would prevent the ill from getting themselves cryogenically suspended to avoid loss of their perfectly usable organs — including wombs, which could be maintained long after the rest of the woman was not.
  • Courtship Rite: The Kaiel clan uses these to keep their birthrate high, although they ruthlessly cull their children. Three quarters of all Kaiel creche-born children become dinner before reaching adulthood. (And these are, more-or-less, the good guys.) The Kaiel replicators are biological constructs; their predecessors, the now-extinct Arant clan, used mechanical ones.
  • Crest of the Stars: Most Abh are born in one of these. Even those who are conceived the old fashioned way are generally brought to term in one since they have to be extracted from their mother's body and tested for certain traits that both define them as Abh (the blue hair, third eye and a few other things) and for certain family traits (the long pointy ears are legally restricted to the Abriel family), and also cured from genetic defects. Carrying a child to term in utero is considered extremely eccentric and not an option for half the population since Abh are raised by a single parent.
  • Doctor Who New Adventures: The Looms of Gallifrey. A Time Lord is generated from a genetic template, "built" by the Looms (as an adult), and then joins his family, who are all considered Cousins. (This is arguably why the symbol of the Gallifreyan maternity service is "crossed computers", a line from "The Creature from the Pit" that was never otherwise explained. It's almost certainly intended to explain why the Doctor is a Chaste Hero who just doesn't seem to "get" sex and romance as concepts.)
  • Dune: Played with: various genetically modified humans with special abilities (e.g. Face Dancers) are created by the Tleilaxu in what are referred to as "axolotl tanks." Everyone assumes this means something along the lines of this trope, but it's eventually revealed that the 'tanks' are in fact what happens to all Tleilaxu female children, turned braindead and hooked up to technology to become birthing machines.
  • Eight Worlds: Mostly benign examples crop up in some of the stories by John Varley; people tend to keep them on their coffee tables, peeping at their developing embryos through the viewports and boring their dinner guests by obsessing about their contents but that's about as bad as it gets. Given the near magical state of medicine and the availability of transhuman modifications to make birth easier "natural" reproduction is still about as popular. Boss Tweed does use artificial means to create an army of illegal clones in The Oppiuchi Hotline but in Varley's future natural reproduction is more likely to be problematic, as it implies someone avoiding proper medical attention either through malfeasance (The Golden Globe) or carelessness (Steel Beach).
  • Firebird Trilogy: The Shuhr use this technology to create their children, rendering pregnancy all but obsolete in the most urban region of their planet. The sociological implications of this get brought up — not having to carry the child to term naturally reduces the mother's emotional attachment to said child. When the daughter of a major Shuhr official is forced to bear a Designer Baby made from tissue samples taken from one of the heroes naturally, she finds herself unwilling to give birth to a child purely to further her family's schemes, and defects to the father's side to save the child.
  • The Forever War: At one point, this appears on Earth because homosexuality has become almost universal, with heterosexuality being considered to be deviant.
  • Heavy Object: Japan's native population has shrunk so much they're relying on outside contractors to keep the country functional. Qwenthur discovers one attempt to address this issue, a factory hidden under Tokyo using artificial insemination and wombs to grow genetically Japanese children.
  • Honor Harrington: "Tubing," the practice of bringing babies to term in artificial wombs, is a matter-of-fact staple of medicine, although the attitudes towards it varies amongst different cultures. The setting is unusual in that the child is often conceived normally and then transferred to the artificial womb, rather than being limited to those created using wholly artificial means. Honor's own son, Raoul, is conceived by accident and tubed so she can continue her military career.
  • Isaac Asimov: In a number of stories, Spacers reproduce this way, most prominently Solaria. One of the characters remarks that had it been so in his case, he would have likely never been allowed to born due to his large ears.
  • Kris Longknife: Uterine replicators are common technology, with the child usually conceived naturally but then transferred from the womb into the device as an embryo. It's treated as a convenience to spare the mother the difficulties and risks of pregnancy. Kris bears her first child in Unrelenting naturally due to her duty station not having been supplied with them (servicewomen are supposed to be on contraceptive implants but the relevant shipment was sabotaged by a disgruntled supply chief), but uses a uterine replicator for her second. Meanwhile, Emperor Henry Peterwald's second wife chooses to bear their first son naturally instead as a way of further wrapping her husband around her finger (while she plots the death of deuteragonist Vicky Peterwald, his daughter from his first marriage).
  • The Machineries of Empire: "Crèche" technology is the standard method for gestating children in the Galactic Superpower of the Hexarchate, having become popular several centuries before the time of the books, but some people still opt for natural births instead.
  • A Memory Called Empire: This is the standard method of reproduction in the spacefaring setting, such that there are laws about minimum genetic diversity for a child of a Truly Single Parent. The protagonist is shocked and impressed when a woman brags that she gave birth to her child: impressed because of her dedication and shocked because of the dangers of childbirth.
  • My Vampire Older Sister and Zombie Little Sister: This is used by Echidna. Although she is the mother of numerous legendary Greek monsters, she points out that they're too large for her to give birth to them naturally, so she instead creates an Organic Technology uterine replicator to do the job.
  • There are a couple examples courtesy of Peter F. Hamilton:
    • Commonwealth Saga: People can opt to have children via Womb Tank rather than give birth naturally.
    • The Night's Dawn Trilogy: The Edenists grow their children in pods that actually don't hatch until the child is the equivalent of 1 year old.
  • Prince Roger was a tube baby although like the Honor Harrington series by the same author he was conceived naturally, the transfer to the tube being done purely for convenience. Uterine replication bites the protagonists in the ass later, when the rebels grow a new heir from Roger's parents' DNA.
  • Safehold: Owl builds one of these in Through Firey Trials for Nimue and Koryn, as it's the only way they can have children. Those children are also Designer Babies.
  • Sex Robots and Vegan Meat: The author has very mixed feelings on this one.
    • On the one hand: she had a miscarriage at nineteen weeks. Fully developed artificial wombs might have saved her baby, and would be much better for premature babies than current incubators. They would also be great for people who can't bear their own babies (e.g. gay couples, transgender people).
    • On the other hand, the group "people who can't bear their own babies" includes men who hate women, and being able to pluck the baby out at any time and stick it in a bag will not discourage the many people who already want to monitor and interfere with pregnancy.
  • The Ship Who... Killed discusses how while "natural" childbearing is more common, it's standard practice in the Central Worlds for young adults to bank their sperm and ova; they're Long-Lived but women still have a limited number of eggs, it's possible to be accidentally sterilized by injury or radiation, and it makes it easier to have Someone to Remember Him By. This also means that when a world is hit by a Sterility Plague and a freak accident destroys their gene banks, as in this story, they can have fertilized ova donated to them. Surrogates who can carry unrelated fetuses are mentioned as a precursor to this technology but not uterine replicators specifically - still, while Kira is not physically capable of bearing a child, she looks forwards to having one at the end of the story.
  • Star Trek: From the novels:
    • The Three Minute Universe: The Sackers are Space Nomads, only stopping on planets to grow their young in vats. Newborn Sackers can't survive in space but as soon as they are mature enough they're beamed back up to live their lives on the ship.
    • The Eugenics Wars: Zigzagged. The superhumans are conceived artificially in a lab and genetically screened for any abnormalities during their initial development before being implanted into a willing surrogate mother to finish developing.
  • Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold:
    • The ubiquitous "uterine replicators", which carry fertilized embryos donated by the parents in place of the mother, form an interesting outlier from most fiction: rather than being portrayed as technological dehumanization, they are presented as a positive medical breakthrough (sparing both mother and child from the health-endangering stresses of pregnancy and labor, and allowing for easy pre-screening and treatment of any genetic defects prenatally) comparable with antisepsis, anesthesia, and vaccination. It's implied repeatedly and outright stated at least once that the uterine replicators are going to do more to shake up the backwards society of Barrayar than just about anything else. It should be noted that this technology literally saved main character Miles' life when his mother was exposed to a teratogenic gas while she was pregnant with him, and having it used earlier could have saved him entirely from the physical effects that the gas still had on him, which are considerable. His struggles and outlook because of this are a main thread in the series.
    • In the novel Ethan of Athos, the planet of Athos is populated entirely by men who grow babies using egg cells taken from ovarian tissue cultures; children are usually reared by couples in an informal kind of marriage. When the ovarian cultures start to fail and their replacement order is sabotaged, a doctor is forced to venture off-world to resolve the nascent fertility crisis.
    • The Cetagandan Haut-lords in the Vorkosiverse reproduce entirely without sex or even coupling being involved... In fact, the parents may never even meet or make any decisions about whether or not they actually want to reproduce. Every haut child is created through contracts arranged by high-ranking family members, frequently with positive genetic alterations added, then the baby cooked up in a replicator and handed to the appropriate household for rearing. In addition, every child is both approved (or vetoed) and designed by the central government. The ruling Haut are practically considered a superhuman sub-race at this point, though a good number of their enhancements are Awesome, but Impractical aesthetic improvements.
    • Beta Colony, where the technology of the replicators was invented, has 3/4ths of the population come out of a replicator, with the rest being born naturally, and it's fairly consistently shown replicator births to be a standard practice throughout advanced culture.
  • The Winemaster by Robert Reed: Used by the robotic transhuman individuals. As they reside in tiny, fantastically fast bodies and die quickly due to heavy atoms disrupting their neural pathways, they "reproduce" by constructing a child in an artificial womb, then implanting it with human neural pathways. By the time the story takes place, almost all the transhumans were never even human to begin with — instead being the "children" of the original transhumans.
  • Woman At The Edge Of Time by Marge Piercy: Connie discovers the colony's children are grown in this way and usually given to three parents, who are not likely blood relations. The reasoning for this is that to achieve racial and gender equality, certain things had to be given up.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Krypton has the Genesis Chamber as in post-Crisis comics and Man of Steel. It's introduced early on, and plays two separate, significant roles in the Season Finale.
  • Kyle XY: These are used under the theory that the longer a child spends in the womb, the more gifted they will be.
  • Red Dwarf: In "Ouroboros", it is implied that Lister is grown in a uterine simulator rather than a woman.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: In "Drone", a Teleporter Accident fuses some of Seven's Borg nanoprobes with the Doctor's mobile emitter. The nanoprobes adapt the technology and everything in the science lab where it's kept to grow a Borg drone from scratch, using a tissue sample from an Ensign sent to check up on the emitter.
  • Stargate-verse: The Asgard reproduce in this manner. They also grow "blank" clone bodies to replace their own when they die. The drawback is that Clone Degeneration has left them a Dying Race.
  • Supergirl (2015): Referenced; Queen Rhea tries to force Lena and Mon-El to marry and produce a child in order to legitimatize the Daxamite conquest of Earth. Lena says she is not consummating the marriage, but Mon-El (who isn't any happier with the situation than she is) says that Rhea has the technology to produce a child using only DNA samples. This is presumably the same technology that Krypton, Daxam's sister world, uses in most Superman media.


    Myths & Religion 
  • Alchemical writings from the 16th century suggest growing a living homunculus from human sperm, incubated in a sealed vessel in the warmth of a mare's womb.


    Tabletop Games 
  • In BattleTech, the Clans of Kerensky produce the majority of their warrior caste this way (combined with a sort of eugenic Designer Babies system of parentage). They call themselves "Trueborn" while those sired the old-fashioned way are "Freeborn". Their superiority as warriors over their Inner Sphere opponents is widely variable; ranging from the markedly superior Elemental phenotype (massive, muscle-bound infantrymen, combined with Powered Armor), to the only modestly superior MechWarrior phenotype (superiority largely lost by their rigid honorable combat ethic when up against the more pragmatic Inner Sphere mechwarriors), to the indiscernable lack of superiority (and sometimes inferiority) between Clan and Inner Sphere aerospace pilots. Special mention must go to Diana Pryde, who threw a rather large wrench into the Clans' neat classification scheme. She's Freeborn, conceived and born the old-fashioned way... but she's the daughter of two Trueborns which means she gets all the benefits of the Clan's breeding programs.
  • GURPS Bio-Tech describes such a device, called a "growth tank", and it's the most straightforward way to grow cloned or genetically engineered humans or animals, or simply to grow babies when a natural pregnancy is impossible. Depending on the setting, growth tanks may also accelerate the fetus' gestation, though it's not always the case.
  • In Paranoia, everyone is grown in a clone vat, and 'decanted' rather than born.
  • The Nazis are working on creating these on Mercury in Rocket Age. The Metisians have also been using cloning for reproduction for years, possibly even centuries.
  • Traveller features cloning for both individual and organizational use, though individual use comes up more often (for instance, some nobles have clones - politely called "true-sons" or "true-daughters" - for their designated successors, in place of or alongside natural-born children).
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Players who wondered how the Dark Eldar kept their population stable despite being much more aggressive (especially towards each other) than the slowly-dying Craftworld Eldar got their answer in the 5th edition codex — the Dark Eldar supplement their normal births with huge numbers of vat-grown, accelerated fetuses created by twisted Haemonculi covens. This leads to yet another social divide within Commorrite society, as the traditionally-birthed "Trueborn" are lavished with attention by their parents and look down on the mass-produced "halfborn".
    • The human Death Korps of Krieg also use a device called a Vitae Womb, which is usually banned in most of the Imperium, due to low fertility rates and birth defects caused by fallout from a past civil war that went nuclear. In some versions the real reason is actually because everybody died in the civil war except one guy and every single person on Krieg is a clone of him. An alternative mentioned in their own novels is that the technology a way to accelerate pregnancies, and involves all of the fertile women on the planet being reduced to drugged-up baby machines.
    • The Adeptus Mechanicus will sometimes use this to as a means for reproduction, either for convenience, lack of a partner, or because any women may have had their uterus removed and replaced with bionic equipment as the Mechanicus tends to do.
    • The Dark Mechanicus has also dabbled in this from time to time, usually to supplement any Chaos Space Marine forces who hired them. The most infamous version was the Daemonculaba (you'll probably be happier not knowing the details), a prominent plot device used in a novel involving the Iron Warriors.note  The Warsmith had a cadre of Dark Mechanicus biologists and "physicians" on staff, and his inheritor, Warsmith Honsou, used them to devise, operate and maintain the Daemonculaba as a method to hothouse new Space Marines for his forces. Though there's a high rate of failure resulting in either corpses or monstrous mutants, Honsou was satisfied enough with the results that he kept the Daemonculaba working until the entire operation was destroyed.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: An image featured in the release announcement trailer shows a infant being incubated in a tank. A Story Breadcrumb located within The Consortium's underground facility indicates that this is how the seven subjects of the Gatekeeper Project were created to have them imbued with innate special abilities.
  • Battleborn: The Mike clones are all grown from within vats and come out as fully adult soldiers ready to be quickly trained and then deployed into battle.
  • Binary Domain: Much like Armitage III, the Hollow Children are androids whose females are capable of giving birth. Your squadmate is the daughter of one of these androids. The American government still sees the children as abominations due to their transhumanity and plans to kill them, robots and their biological children alike.
  • BioShock: Although this machine is never seen, a key part of the backstory involves taking a fertilized egg from a woman and placing it in an artificial womb, then aging it up to an adult in a little under two months. That baby is Jack Ryan, the player character.
  • Dead Space: In the second level, Isaac is in a room full of these. Apparently, they're being grown for the purpose of harvesting limbs for mining-accident victims aboard the Ishimura. Some of them have been infected by The Virus and become Lurkers.
  • Death Stranding:
    • The BB units are essentially seven-month-old human fetuses put in one of those. Unlike most examples, they're not supposed to grow up until they're born: the pod they're in actually stunts their growth. Some porters carry one with them to help them sense BTs. Taking a BB out of its pod is illegal, and it often results in their death, but there are at least two known examples of a BB surviving this procedure, with one of them growing up into a healthy adult.
    • At the end of the game, Deadman reveals that he was born from a fertilized human egg that matured in one of these.
  • Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller has the Fecund 5088 birthing unit, a bald female cybernetic head and torso. She proudly offers her prenatal charges "soothing sounds and music," "comforting visual displays," and "direct projection of parents' voices into fetal chamber." She's also "programmed to respond to doubts you may have about the moral dilemmas some find inherent in [her] existence."
  • In Metroid Prime, Space Pirates experimentally expose their embryos to phazon in an attempt to create super soldiers. The embryos that survive are grown in large tanks filled with fluid, eventually becoming "Elite Pirates."
  • Splatoon 2: This is implied to be the case with Octolings in the Octo Expansion DLC, where the character creation sequence for Agent 8 has them floating in a vat.
  • Star Wars: Republic Commando opens with the player character floating inside of one used to grow clones.
  • Timberborn: The Iron Teeth reproduce using breeding pods, cylindrical vats filled with purple liquid and, when active, a developing beaver, which are kept fueled with water and blueberries. As long as materials are provided, a pod will pop out an infant kit every five days.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: It's shown in the opening cinematic that all soldiers of Agnus and Keves are grown in pods and decanted at age ten. The soldiers call these pods "cradles," but the people of the City, who know what actual cradles are, prefer to use the more bland "growth modules."
  • XenoGears: Ramsus was created in a incubation tank as the epitome of humankind and as an artificial -Contact- until he literally gets trashed as a fetus when Krelian discovers the true -Contact- has already been born.

    Web Comics 
  • The titular Mons of Battle Kreaturez are created in laboratories rather than being captured.
  • In Drowtales, the Val'Jaal'darya created these as part of their research into Homosexual Reproduction. They achieved this through the creation of golems who can carry children to term. A story about the clan has the first versions being made out of one of the potential mother's limbsnote  making what's essentially a clone of the mother in the process, but later versions could use the mother's blood for the same purpose. The character of Kalki was carried to term this way, and one of the golems can be seen on the right in the first panel of the clan's profile page.
  • In El Goonish Shive, eggs created by Uryuoms have the ability to function as this except it works with raw DNA instead of sperm or embryos. And by "raw DNA" we mean "any DNA."
  • Ectobiology in Homestuck can be used to spontaneously create infantile life from DNA.
    • This is how all players of Sburb are "born", as they are not genetically related to their actual species. And when a code lurking in some of the players' subconscious is inputted, it creates a First Guardian. This never is particularly drawn attention to, and is merely treated as another form of Alchemy.
    • Ectobiology is somewhat unusual in that it does not require "donors," as it works by Stable Time Loop: it takes its DNA sample from the "ghost slime" created when trying to Appearify something whose destiny was not to have been Appearified away from that location and time. In fact, it's implied that the DNA sample in question will always contain serious mutations unless the targeted entity has going to have been cloned from that DNA sample. It also skips the incubation step entirely and just spits out fully-formed young of the species that it was fed, and apparently is also capable of combining the DNA of things that don't have DNA.
  • Dr. Edward "Bunni" Bunnigus from Schlock Mercenary was, as explained in this strip, brought to term in one for parents who by law were prohibited from reproducing naturally due to the fact that they had, in her words, "maybe 110 uncontested IQ points between them." It's later established that most human (and other naturally in-vivo species) births are done this way simply out of convenience and efficiency, although Designer Babies are still relatively rare.
  • A non-dystopian version in Times Like This, the human incubator was invented in the 2040's and scientists figured out how to safely extract the fetus to finish gestation in said replicator by the time it was marketed in 2055. After becoming affordable, this spawned a new sexual revolution and woman's liberation.
  • Umlaut House: Word of God says that this is how Rhonda was brought to term.

    Web Original 
  • Bosun's Journal: The Custodians, the most technologically advanced of the second round of sapient species, are highly adept at biologic science and have entirely forgone natural reproduction in favor of artificially growing new members of their species.
  • Whateley Universe: Bio-Devisors have used this technique since before World War II, and clones can be aged to adulthood rapidly, but forced maturation leads to a high chance of protein antagonism — any traumatic damage can kill most such clones. The major exceptions to date are Belphoebe (who is a high-level regenerator and was subjected to a tool that reduced the effect while being grown) and the first generation Animen (though no is entirely sure what Dr DNA did when creating them).

    Western Animation 
  • Exo Squad has an interesting variation. While humans are born naturally, the genetically-engineered Neosapiens are artificially grown by the "brood." At the end of the series, one of the Neosapiens, Marsala, lobbies with the government to allow the creation of one final brood that's capable of natural breeding.
  • In Gargoyles, the gargoyle clones created by Dr. Anton Sevarius are grown in these, which gets around the unavailability of female gargoyles (though he's got no qualms about imprisoning and using one) and allows him to both make them grow faster and "program" them with subliminal messages.
  • In Invader Zim, Irken "smeets" are apparently all born this way, as according to Word of God they're Artificial Humans lacking reproductive organs. Zim apparently considers the robotic arm that activated him his parent, though. ("I love you, cold, unfeeling robot arm!") According to the script for one of the cancelled episodes, an Irken's personality is stored in his PAK, the backpack-like contraptions they carry, which can be removed.
  • In the Rick and Morty episode "Raising Gazorpazorp", female Gazorpians use a combination Uterine Replicator/Sexbot to go and "mate" with the male Gazorpians and then give birth to babies, since the females don't want to do either.

    Real Life 
  • At the time of writing (November 2014), no method exists for human beings. However, we have managed to take goat fetuses that have already developed a placenta and have them develop the rest of the way inside plastic bags. We did this back in 1996, in fact. The technology is still very much in the alpha version, though, as it still requires a womb for the very early stages of the embryo's development, and it's only really being looked into as a way of helping babies who've had premature births.
  • The "womb with a view" is replicated by experiments that carefully place the contents of fertilized chicken eggs within plastic wrap so the developing embryo can be observed. They're incubated in the devices normally used to incubate microbe cultures.
  • In a sense, incubators act as this for premature babies by mimicking the quiet, warm, and "gentle" environment of the womb.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Artificial Reproduction, Artificial Womb


Dean and Hank's "Mom"

It's revealed that the titular twins' Missing Mom never actually birthed them and simply donated her eggs to one of these their dad Rusty built.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / UterineReplicator

Media sources: