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Quotes / Uncanny Valley

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    Anime and Manga 
"Get a hold of yourself. That wasn't a body, nor was it a mind or anything. It was just energy. I know that. But this sinking feeling in my stomach means I'm not truly convinced."
Ed expressing frustration that he can't get over those... things attached to Envy's true form, Fullmetal Alchemist

    Fan Fiction 
This being was still human-shaped, still had the pale skin, brown eyes, and dead-white hair of the boy standing next to her [...] but he looked almost... stretched. Too tall and not wide enough, like a badly enlarged photo. His fingers were too long and too much like claws. His skin didn't seem to be quite opaque. If she looked hard, Tea could see the guttering shadows through the outline of his form.

Shapeshifters were by no means rare, but he'd never seen one quite so... inept. Warlock's lines were too smooth, skin too stiff, and joints too limber. His face appeared human enough but lacked any distinguishing features, closer to a computer-generated compilation than anything naturally occurring.

[Calne Ca] looked disturbingly like Miku — but she wasn't disturbing because of who she looked like. The disturbance was because she didn't quite look like... a person at all — she was frighteningly close, yet imperfect enough to be eerie.

Janeway was not the type of girl to jump on the nearest chair and shriek when faced by a giant rat, but she could not deny a feeling of wrongness, of alienation — the instinctive psychological rejection of a creature that was in the form and manner of a Man, yet was not.

    Film — Live-Action 
"I met [Michael Myers] fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing leftno reason, no conscience, no understanding of even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child with this blank... pale... emotionless face, and the blackest eyes — the devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil."
Dr. Loomis, Halloween (1978)
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    Literature 
The last two Darklings were vampires. They looked human, their eyes and teeth normal. If not for my time as Kimmi, I wouldn't have known what they were. But vampires move too fluidly — like butter across a griddle. Living creatures move with muscles that are under the control of neurons. The neurons work together, all trying to fire in sync, but inevitably they don't. A microsecond here, a millisecond there, and the discrepancies mean our movements are never completely smooth.
Vampires, on the other hand, aren't alive. Their hearts don't beat, and their neurons don't spark. They shouldn't be moving at all; they should be rotting in their graves. But magic lets them walk with perfect precision. A vampire is how a mind moves when it simply ignores its body. Once you notice, it's disturbing — deep in the Uncanny Valley.

Still smiling (Bond was to get used to that thin smile), Doctor No came slowly out from behind the desk and moved towards them. He seemed to glide rather than take steps. His knees did not dent the matt, gunmetal sheen of his kimomo and no shoes showed beneath the sweeping hem.
Bond's first impression was of thinness and erectness and height. Doctor No was at least six inches taller than Bond, but the straight immovable poise of his body made him seem still taller. The head also was elongated and tapered from a round, completely bald skull down to a sharp chin so that the impression was of a reversed raindrop — or rather oildrop, for the skin was of a deep almost translucent yellow.
It was impossible to tell Doctor No's age: as far as Bond could see, there were no lines on his face. It was odd to see a forehead as smooth as the top of the polished skull. Even the cavernous indrawn cheeks below the prominent cheekbones looked as smooth as fine ivory. There was something Dali-esque about the eyebrows, which were fine and black and sharply upswept as if they had been painted on as make-up for a conjurer. Below them, slanting jet black eyes stared out of the skull. They were without eyelashes. They looked like the mouths of two small revolvers, direct and unblinking and totally devoid of expression. The thin fine nose ended very close above a wide compressed wound of a mouth which, despite its almost permanent sketch of a smile, showed only cruelty and authority. The chin was indrawn towards the neck. Later Bond was to notice that it rarely moved more than slightly away from centre, giving the impression that the head and the vertebra were in one piece.
The bizarre, gliding figure looked like a giant venomous worm wrapped in grey tin-foil, and Bond would not have been surprised to see the rest of it trailing slimily along the carpet behind.
Dr. No

"God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image, but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance."
The Creature, Frankenstein

When Goldfinger had stood up, the first thing that had struck Bond was that everything was out of proportion. Goldfinger was short, not more than five feet tall, and on top of the thick body and blunt, peasant legs was set, almost directly into the shoulders a huge and it seemed exactly round head. It was as if Goldfinger had been put together with bits of other people's bodies. Nothing seemed to belong. Perhaps, Bond thought, it was to conceal his ugliness that Goldfinger made such a fetish about sunburn. Without the red-brown camouflage the pale body would be grotesque.

Everyone who saw her at the police court said she was at once the most beautiful woman and the most repulsive they had ever set eyes on. I have spoken to a man who saw her, and I assure you he positively shuddered as he tried to describe the woman, but he couldn't tell why.

An Eldar looked almost human from a distance: two arms, two legs, two eyes, a nose, but everything else was different. An Eldar radiated wrongness, from its huge, liquid eyes to the many jointed, worm-like waving of its fingers. They were disgusting and unnerving, and Alaric hated them.
Grey Knights: Hammer of Daemons

There was something very slightly odd about him, but it was difficult to say what it was. Perhaps it was that his eyes didn't seem to blink often enough and when you talked to him for any length of time your eyes began involuntarily to water on his behalf. Perhaps it was that he smiled slightly too broadly and gave people the unnerving impression that he was about to go for their neck.

"My misfortune is that I resemble a man too much. I should like to be wholly a beast like that goat."

Levitt Dunber: You'll have recognized the way that, for instance, a fine sculpture in blue stone looks more lifelike than a shop front automaton. Why is this?
Jon Cavala: This is simply a question of respective craftsmanship.
Levitt Dunber: I disagree. The automaton, in pink plastic, appears to be trying to fool our eyes and our eyes — which are very acute minute verisimilitude of real faces — revolt against faces. But the blue stone makes no pretense to being real, and so we take it as it is and merely admire the artistry.
Land of the Headless, by Adam Roberts

It was impossible to point to any particular motion that was definitely non-human. Ransom had the sense of watching an imitation of living motions which had been very well studied and was technically correct: but somehow it lacked the master touch. And he was chilled with an inarticulate, night-nursery horror of the thing he had to deal with — the managed corpse, the bogey, the Un-man.

"There certainly is a strange kind of streak in the Innsmouth folks today — I don't know how to explain it, but it sort of makes you crawl. You'll notice a little in Sargent if you take his bus. Some of 'em have queer narrow heads with flat noses and bulgy, stary eyes that never seem to shut, and their skin ain't quite right. Rough and scabby, and the sides of their necks are all shriveled or creased up. Get bald, too, very young. The older fellows look the worst — fact is, I don't believe I've ever seen a very old chap of that kind. Guess they must die of looking in the glass!"
A Ticket Agent, The Shadow Over Innsmouth

The Staryk didn't seem so terribly strange at first; that was what made him truly terrible. But as I kept looking slowly his face became something inhuman, shaped out of ice and glass, and his eyes like silver knives.

His hand felt as inhuman as the rest of him looked: the right shape and everything, but all wrong. Wrong in some fathomless, indefinable, turning-the-world-on-its-end way.
Sunshine on a vampire

    Live-Action TV 
Frank: You see, as artificial representations of humans become more and more realistic, they reach a point where they stop being endearing, and become creepy.
Tracy: Tell it to me in Star Wars.
Frank: Alright. We like R2-D2 and C-3PO.
Tracy: They're nice.
Frank: And up here, we have a real person like Han Solo.
Tracy: He acts like he doesn't care, but he does!
Frank: But down here we have a CGI Stormtrooper or Tom Hanks in The Polar Express.
Tracy: I'm scared! Get me out of there!

    Music 
This new one's kinda creepy
Makes me shudder inside
With his idiot grin.
He's head-to-toe with muscles and they ripple and slide
Under translucent skin
Jonathan Coulton, "Todd the T-1000"

[How] an old man tracked me home and stepped inside
Put his foot inside the door and gave a crooked smile
Something in his eyes, something in his laugh
Something in his voice that made my skin crawl off
Switchfoot, "Faust, Midas, and Myself"

    Tabletop Games 
More disturbing than the unknown is a distortion of the familiar.

Theresa named her new "child" Doll with good reason. The imbued's features, made from the preserved skin of dead children, have a fixed and doll-like quality to them. Her mouth moves too slowly into a smile or frown to look natural, and the baby roundness of her cheeks is too perfect, enhancing Doll's appearance of artifice. In repose, her face becomes completely blank and expressionless, and her body unnaturally still. Theresa's handiwork as a seamstress shines in her creation, the tiny stitches barely visible at the edge of Doll's hairline, on her arms, and in any other location where her "mother" had to close the skin. Though a startling facsimile of life, certain key features, such as her often vacant expression and her slightly disjointed way of movement, betray Doll as little more than a flesh Pinocchio who could not quite fulfill her creator's dreams of crafting a real child.
New World of Darkness — Antagonists

A Kindred with low Humanity can put great effort into acting like a living person. He can force himself to breathe and remind himself to blink now and then... but he can't fake that subtle, unconscious dance of nonverbal interaction. Mortals soon pick up on this. They cannot consciously spot the problem, but their instincts tell them that something is very wrong and they should get away.

The result is rather disturbing, but in a way that most people find difficult to place. The subject doesn't seem to be obviously changed, but close examination reveals that he's become a little more idealized, a little more — well, symmetrical. Old scars vanish; even heavy scarring tends to fade just a little. The body effectively stops aging, without so much as a fingernail or hair growing even a millimeter. (Conversely, a haircut or manicure isn't long-lasting, as the body quickly reverts to its "true" form.) They're usually quite clean; dirt and lint just don't seem to cling to a Drone the way they do to other folks. In all, the differences tend to be obvious only when you know what you're looking for.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse — Book of the Weaver

    Video Games 
"Seeing myself transformed into that... lurching, waxen nightmare... Do children really respond to this?"
Andrew Ryan, describing an animatronic puppet of himself for Rapture's Theme Park/museum, BioShock 2

Connor: Is there anything you'd like to know about me?
Hank: Hell no! ...Well, yeah. Why do they make you look so goofy and give you that weird voice?
Connor: Cyberlife androids are designed to work harmoniously with humans. Both my appearance and voice were specifically designed to facilitate my integration.
Hank: ...Well, they fucked up.

Masks aren't powered by batteries. They're powered by your need to see the face perched on top of a human body as a human face. That's why they're creepy — because they're not human. They're not anything. And the person wearing them could be anybody.
Hiveswap, when using batteries on a mask

"I mean... familiar but strange. You know the feeling? Like... I used to go hunt with my uncle, out in the mountains, and now I watch these nature programs. They're filmed in the mountains, and there's the deer, and I know all the plants and every kind of tree, but something just don't look right."
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    Webcomics 
"The Uncanny Valley is the name given to the idea that as we build robots that look more and more like real people, the more we approach a point where we all say 'oh God oh God what is wrong with that robot where did it all go wrong OH GOD'"

LifeSkin (tm) artificial dermal coating looks just like the real thing, but not, like, in a creepy way, you know?
Questionable Content, describing how Momo works

    Web Original 
These chitinous Hominid mimics were originally designed to infiltrate remote, untouched colonies of Homo sapiens for covert scientific research, slipping in and out of human domiciles to monitor their most natural, wild behavioral patterns from discrete observation points and harvest unattended, clearly unwanted juveniles for tissue samples. The Lester's facade is further reinforced by its soothing psionic vibrations and pheromone excretions, while its data is protected by corrosive pseudoblood, amnesiatic gas sacs and a devastating self destruct mechanism initiated by the emergency evacuation of its ambulatory brain.
Unexpectedly, all research subjects — even including neonates — consistently identified the foreign nature of Lester agents and responded with alarm or even hostility, presumably detecting some imperceptibly trivial flaw in the monster's camouflage.
Mortasheen, entry on "Lester"

"She is... artificial. That is not a term I often use to describe ponies, but it seems appropriate for her. If you look at the individual aspects of her figure, then yes, she would be attractive. That said, combined, she seems as though she were carved out of plastic. It is unnatural, and highly disturbing."

"You'd think I'd be into life-size, realistic robots, but that thing makes me wanna barf up my earlier energy drink into the one I'm currently drinking."
Sci-Fi Greg, Teen Girl Squad Issue 15

Lune Zoldark: So, what do you guys think?
Aaron: ...Looks more human than I expected.
Lune: Well, my dad customized the Valsione for me.
Aaron: I can see that. It just looks... really, really uncanny for a reason I can't put my finger on.
Lune: Ah. She looks too human, right?
Aaron: Yeah. That's the thing.


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