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Wetware Body

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"Not just a body. The best body, can ya dig it? I pulled the best specimen and tweaked it up with nanotechnology. Muscle fiber five times stronger, faster! [...] A Super UNISOL with S.E.T.H.'s own thought matrix for a brain! The next level of evolution, man and computer..."

A Wetware Body is when a biological Host is possessed by a computer or other Artificial Intelligence (named after a casual term for the biological equivalent of hardware, as in Wetware CPU). This can lead to the host acting either like a machine (monotonic, unemotional, unfocused on anything but objective), as it normally would (if the possessing A.I. is a good actor), or anywhere in between. In science fiction discussion circles it's often referred to as "cybrid", after the moniker used in Hyperion Cantos, however, the concept is rare enough that the term remains relatively obscure.

Frequently this process has the side effect of causing the A.I. to feel emotions for the first time, which may act as the trigger to self-awareness and empathy, or like a virus that inevitably destroys the mechanical hijacker.

Wetware Body characters are most likely to appear in Sci-Fi Horror works, or in stories where machines and artificial intelligences are common, or at least present by some capacity.

A Sub-Trope of Meat Puppet. See also Meat-Sack Robot.

Note: Becoming a Wetware Body means you are the host, not the possessor. For the other way around, see Wetware CPU. Not to be confused with Wet Sari Scene either.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ghost in the Shell has what amounts to technological zombies; human corpses with the frontal lobe replaced by a transmitter so their body can be manipulated by an A.I. This is more often done by a remote control hacker, however. In the manga Human-Error Processor, it's suggested locking a person suspected of being a remote-controlled zombie into a room that's a complete Faraday's cage, making it impossible for the signal to reach him, while in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig, it's revealed that a zombie was controlled through a wired transmitter in the same room, since the encounter was deep underground where conventional wireless signals can't reach.
  • In Mahoromatic, the titular character's creator Matthew originally existed as an AI for the Saint planet before being given a lab-grown body by its own creator.

    Comic Books 
  • The Defenders features Ruby Thursday, a villain with a malleable plastic computer replacing her head, complementing the other members of the Headmen, who have odd heads as their theme.

    Fan Works 
  • 02-Ef A9 learns how to do this in Nobody Dies: Six AIs, One Continent. Interestingly, the moral issues on the part of the AI are explored, as 02-Ef is one of the story's protagonists.
  • In The Onyx Stars, John-117 has a Heroic BSoD after a hostile AI does this to Grey Team to taunt him before killing them in an ignoble way.
  • In Transformers: Juxtaposition, Sideswipe is not an unfeeling AI (quite the opposite) as a Transformer and spends most of his time in Symbiotic Possession with a human.
  • The Vienna Game, a Cyberpunk Homestuck fanfic, recasts the beta kids as ancient AIs who've taken up temporary residence in the brains of the main characters. The trope is played with: Sollux's AI acts primarily as a Voice with an Internet Connection, only taking over his body in desperate circumstances, but Terezi assumes that her resident AI is a mostly benign symptom of an incipient mental break.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes is a mild example — a power surge causes a computer's contents to involuntarily download into the brain of a kid who's trying to service it. As a result, he gains its powers of lightning-fast calculation and instant data recall, as well as a dump of its memory that he repeats when he hears the code "Applejack".
  • D.A.R.Y.L.: The Data Analyzing Robotic Youth Lifeform is an artificially grown organic body with a computer for a brain.
  • Deadly Friend: The combination of Robot B.B.'s CPU and recently dead girlfriend Sam.
  • The Machine features chips augmenting, and later supplanting, soldiers who suffered brain trauma.
  • In The Matrix Reloaded, Smith escapes into the real world through Bane's body — not that he enjoys it, remarking that being in a "rotting meatsuit" repulses him, but he's willing to endure it because he just hates Neo that much.
  • Phantasm: The spheres can control a body in the sense of a Meta Mecha, as they are revealed to be Wetware CPUs.
  • Screamers: One model of the titular screamers Kill and Replace soldiers using Human Resources.
  • Star Wars:
    • Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide includes Decrainiated, humans who have had the tops of their heads replaced with Droid bits, created by Dr. Evazan after he was already slated for death sentence on twelve systems.
    • Fully realized, oddly enough, in Solo.
  • In Superman III, the supercomputer that Ross Webster builds ends up doing this to his sister Vera.
  • Tank Girl: Kesslee uploads his mind after decapitation, then attaches a holographic device projecting his head to his headless body.
  • Terminator: Technically, many of the Killer Robots are Cyborgs with a living biological covering grown in a lab.
  • In Universal Soldier: The Return, the rebelling AI SETH implants itself into the body of an advanced UniSol to face off Deveraux. This also allows him to escape the facility his computers are housed in, making it harder to shut him down.
  • This is the premise of Upgrade: after being rendered quadriplegic, Grey Trace receives an implant with an AI called STEM that can move his body for him with his permission. By the end, STEM has taken over completely.

  • Accel World reveals in Wham Episode book 23 that Kuroyukihime, the story's main heroine, began life as an Artificial Fluctlight (i.e. a disembodied human soul created from scratch) after which her "mother" implanted her into a lab-grown human body. It's suggested that learning the truth of her origins was a major factor in her complex about hurting people around her (she views her birth as killing the original Kuroba Sayuki), and by extension the name and shape of her duel avatar Black Lotus.
  • Aeon 14's transhuman Lensman Arms Race reaches the point midway through the Orion War when Corsia, a female-identifying AI whose core is installed in the ISF cruiser Andromeda, has an organic body grown for herself after she falls in love with the human captain of her ship, which she can "pilot" remotely. The "organic frame" is stated to be fully functional up to and including being able to conceive and birth organic children.
  • Link, the evil A.I. of Belisarius Series, can possess the body of a specific (from the same family, autistic) and specially trained woman, wiping out her personality in process. The creepy part starts when 'she' starts speaking in the A.I.'s voice...
  • The Hainish novel City of Illusions features a society which considers this a proper use for mentally inferior people.
  • It's implied in Haruhi Suzumiya that Yuki and the other Data Interfaces are something like the cybrids from Hyperion Cantos — that is, artificial and fully organic human bodies created to serve as vessels for an alien intelligence. Whether their minds are also artificial constructs created by the Data Overmind or are extensions of the Overmind itself is unclear (it may even be a little of both).
  • The Hyperion Cantos has a peculiar spin on this: human bodies (with no memories) are grown so that an AI can take over; the AI-in-a-human-body is termed a "cybrid". The interesting thing about them is that they tend to act as human rather than like machines (because the AIs in the setting are remarkably human), and many if not most are based on historical personalities (one based on John Keats is central to the story).
  • Imperial Radch: In Ancillary Justice, Radchaai warships have AIs linked to many such bodies (the titular ancillaries, also called "corpse soldiers", made mainly from prisoners taken during Radchaai planetary conquests) in a Hive Mind. The protagonist, formerly the warship Justice of Toren, is one such AI that has been reduced to a single remaining body.
  • Schild's Ladder features Transhuman Aliens so advanced that the line between natural and Artificial Intelligence is essentially gone. Most people travel across interstellar distances by Brain Uploading, beaming their consciousness over, and downloading themselves into a purpose-built body at the destination. Some characters prefer to exist as Virtual Ghosts, like a friend of Tchicaya's who commissions a wetware body only for special occasions.
  • In the Star Trek novel Q Squared, one of the alternate timelines has Data as a positronic brain in a biological body. He and his android counterparts discuss the advantages and drawbacks.
  • Time Enough for Love has one of these created.
  • In Worm, Dragon uses mindless Meat Puppets that she can upload her consciousness into to pilot her Powered Armor as a way of getting around her hard-coded behavioral restrictions.
  • A major subplot of Xenocide involves finding a Wetware Body for Jane.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The second episode of Dirk Gently features an artificial intelligence downloading itself into the mind of a brain-dead girl.
  • Several show up in Lexx, notably 790 series cyborgs (human from the neck down), moth-breeders (mostly human but lobotomized), and mantrid drones (flying human arms).
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "The Grid", a cognitive computer known as a neural network processor was designed by the US government and a private company to communicate electromagnetically with the human brain so that messages could be sent directly to soldiers in the field. The small town of Halford, Washington was used a testing ground and dozens of antenna towers were installed for that purpose. Over the course of several years, the computer was able to take over the minds of almost everyone in town. When Scott Bowman visits Halford after the death of his brother Peter, he discovers what the computer is doing and it communicates with him by speaking through several townspeople.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Bodyswap", Rimmer and Lister switch bodies, since by that point Rimmer is in fact a hologram created from a digital copy of his formerly organic (and alive) self. Since Rimmer hadn't been alive for well over three million years, he promptly overindulges in everything he had been denied since his digital resurrection. Lister's body isn't in the greatest of shape when he gets it back.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Entity", an alien computer intelligence that had previously taken over the base's computer system jumps to and takes over Samantha Carter's body in order to communicate its intentions.
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Body and Soul", the Doctor has to hide from a race which doesn't allow photonics. He downloads his program into Seven of Nine's consciousness and takes temporary control of her body, using it to indulge himself in way he wouldn't normally be able to do. Primarily by overeating and getting intoxicated.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Eclipse Phase, AGIs can be sleeved in biomorphs just as easily as the average human can be sleeved in a synthmorph. They can also inhabit someone's mesh inserts or a "ghostrider" implant, and control them with a "puppet sock".
  • Shadowrun gives us Cognitive Fragmentation Disorder, formally a medical disease caused by nanites carrying an AI gets into the bloodstream and overwrites the mind of the infectee. Most of these AIs are simple digital intelligences evolved from things like a bot program or a pilot program, so no godlike AGI riding around in a meat body (that's a whole other can of worms). Infectees (known on the streets as "head cases", though they call themselves "monads") are outwardly normal, but a head case's original owner, at best, will be gone, though there are many cases where they ride as a helpless passenger.
  • "Bioshells" in the world of Transhuman Space are "bioroids" (or more rarely, reconstructed corpses, known as "necromorphs") whose brains have been replaced by electronic hardware so they can be used as a body by an AI or a "ghost" Brain Upload. AIs occupying biological bodies are regarded as a Mechanical Abomination in many places, due to fears about digital intelligences impersonating and seeking to replace humanity. The only standard exception to this prohibition is granted to ghosts, who may occupy a shell based on a clone of their former body.
  • The servitors in Warhammer 40,000 are either former humans or purpose-grown bodies (depending on location/faction) with their brains lobotomized and largely replaced by machinery, and are used as a plentiful source of manual labor.

    Video Games 
  • Nanomachines in 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim can allow AI to inhabit biologically human bodies as "simulated personalities", which can override the original with proper preparations — or the body can be constructed for the AI without having an original personality. The same setting also has Brain Uploading, effectively letting people transfer their minds into the bodies of others.
    • Chihiro and Juro Izumi (426) both "survived" a loop via AI conversion and insertion into cloned bodies, initially believing they'd been physically transported to the past. The latter ends up Body Surfing through two androids before ending up in a later clone of his original body, which partially spreads to all of the pilots.
    • Ida wants to revive the Kisaragi he knew by using the AI made from her to override a later Kisaragi's personality.
    • Most bizarrely, Okino became an AI that controls his own organic body. His nanomachines infected with an Identity Amnesia-inducing virus, he puts a memory backup and simulated personality onto them. After his organic brain resets, the memories are re-implanted and the simulated personality effectively merges with the organic one. Sekigahara is disturbed and thinks this fundamentally changed Okino as a person, but Okino is completely at peace with himself, and points out people's personalities are changing constantly anyway.
    • In the epilogue, the pilots have left the Sectors to colonize the new physical world. They plan to let the AI they left behind join them by becoming flesh-and-blood humans in some the bodies they'll be growing.
  • The Murakumo units from BlazBlue are Artificial Humans who are designed to serve as vessels for their Powered Armor's programming.
  • Lynx in Chrono Cross turns out to be the host of the FATE computer system which has been manipulating the islands for thousands of years.
  • This turns out to be the goal of AI Junko, the Big Bad of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, who hijacked the virtual reality therapy program in order to force the students into a killing game, where their avatars would be deleted and she could take over their bodies and wreak havoc on the world. It turns out they were the ones who set up the plan themselves, before their memories were erased.
  • Fallout: New Vegas: The Lobotomites from the Old World Blues DLC are humans who were abducted by the Think Tank and were subjected to an experiment which replaced their brains with artificial mock-ups, essentially making them into robots with organic hardware.
  • I Was a Teenage Exocolonist: The Gardeners are a set of AIs stored in Organic Technology left behind by a long-gone alien species. Some of them have bodies resembling various species in addition to this, with the one tasked with observing the planet's new human settlement being an imperfect Artificial Human. One of the consequences of the situation is that they all have a Body Backup Drive that comes in handy in the planet's hostile environment.
  • In Luminous Avenger iX 2, Kohaku gets possessed by Mother so that she can disobey her directive to revive and protect humanity and destroy every Worker along with herself. In the bad ending, she's still possessing Kohaku in secret.
  • One of the more unpleasant discoveries in SOMA is finding that the player character is one of these, essentially a computer running a simulated human mind jammed onto the neck-stump of someone else's headless corpse, as another of the Warden Unit's attempts at preserving the human race.
  • Space Rangers 2: If you take wrong dialogue choices when attempting to talk down Terron, Terron will download his program into your brain, and the game will end right here. Of course, the game gives you so much red flags on this branch, that you can fail this way only on purpose, especially since you can stop the conversation at any point.
  • The ending of System Shock 2 reveals that SHODAN had possessed Rebecca Siddons' body through an implant she found earlier in the game.
  • Occurs in Tales from the Borderlands when the Handsome Jack AI (copied off of Jack before he died) gets into Rhys' cybernetics when he plugs in a chip to be able to pass as a member of Hyperion.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • AIs (or at least certain ones) are capable of taking over the mind and body of the soldier whose armor they're in. In fairness, although the Freelancer Project didn't stop using AIs after discovering this, they did try to remove the one who started it. Emphasis on the word try, as O'Malley had figured out how to Body Surf at this point. The others shown to be capable of this are Tex and Church, who both simply take over the body of the person they "possess", and Sigma, who, like O'Malley, is more about influence than direct control. On the other hand, even if an AI is not taking over their partner's body, they still can affect their mind and thought process to some degree, as seen by the examples of Carolina (went nuts after getting two AIs implanted) and Washington (went nuts after Epsilon went nuts while implanted).
    • Washington is arguable, as Reconstruction and later Season 10 suggest that his "madness" was likely due to learning of the horrors that Director Leonard Church inflicted on Alpha-Church (and, by association, Epsilon-Church). Upon waking up and realizing Carolina had gone temporarily insane due to conflicting AIs, Wash argued the same happened to him so that he could begin his lifelong campaign of trying to expose The Director while rescuing Epsilon and Alpha.
    • In fact, for the first several seasons, Church thinks he's human, having been programmed to. He was actually implanted into the body of Private Jimmy. The implantation procedure and the memory block created a false memory of Church being stationed on Sidewinder and of his unit being attacked by Tex, with Tex beating Private Jimmy to death with his own skull, while Jimmy is screaming "That doesn't seem physically possible!" In fact, Jimmy did scream that as he was being forcibly implanted. Jimmy was accidentally killed by Caboose/Sheila, although Church survived by instinctively copying himself to another armor.

  • A key plot twist in Genocide Man relies on this. In the setting, AI inevitably goes insane (the smarter, the quicker) and commits suicide with collateral damage. One character found a way to use Wetware Bodies to avoid this... as the AI death spiral only happens if the AI is aware they are an AI. Put an AI into a wetware body and activate it with the right false memories and perception filters to make it think it is a human, and the AI remains stable... unless something the perception filter can't handle makes them realise what they are, of course. Then the AI death spiral kicks in.
  • Girl Genius: At some point prior to the story, Lucrezia Mongfish was conducting experiments in transferring minds between organic and mechanical bodies. Her "finest work" was the Muse of Protection, Otilia, whose mind was placed into the organic body that came to be known as Von Pinn.
  • Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger: The commander rents a biosynth hybrid positronic AI in a bioengineered body as a somewhat snarky "bloodhound".
  • Red Space Blues: AMI is normally a hologram projected from a robotic body. However, she is capable of decapitating then controlling a headless body, all while staying Three Laws-Compliant by making sure that nobody dies.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Petey uses illegal cloning equipment to create multiple flesh-and-blood bodies for himself. This allows him to escape his hardwired loyalty to the Ob'enn race and suborn other Ob'enn ships by simply throwing the loyalty switch on their AIs and then issuing new orders.
    • After one of DoytHaban cyborgs got his brain cooked with a laser shot, his Haban part (implanted AI) chose to regrow the tissue and "extend" into the now-blank brain, thus becoming a hybrid AI/wetware entity. He even got married later.

    Western Animation 
  • Code Lyoko stars an antagonist AI named XANA, who later into the series gains the ability to possess living creatures. Its logo usually illuminates and appears in a person's eyes or forehead to reveal this.
  • An entire episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog focuses on the house computer possessing the bodies of the old couple that the protagonist lives with, only to grow bored and return to being the computer after a series of death-defying stunts, while Courage spends the episode trying futilely to stop him and protect Muriel's body, despite the fact that the transfer seemingly made her immortal (proved when the computer overuses Eustace's more frail body and it breaks into pieces that remain cognizant).
  • In Invader Zim, the Irken are a race of vat-grown Meat Puppets with the backpack-like contraptions called PAKs they wear serving as auxiliary brains. In one of the cancelled episodes, it's shown that their bodies can only survive ten minutes without them, while if the PAK attaches itself to another organism it attempts to rewrite their personality with its own.