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Series / Humans

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"Everything your men do to us they want to do to you."

Humans is a Channel 4 and AMC co-produced series based in a world where androids have become commonplace.

The story follows five androids ("synths") who were created to be more human and the family who buy a reconditioned synth.

The series touches on various social issues including robots taking jobs, potential relationship problems due to robotic presence and loss of individual rights.

Humans is a remake of Äkta Människor (Real Humans), a Swedish Science Fiction drama series, and is Channel 4's highest-rated drama in over twenty years. Despite this, in May 2019 they announced it had been canceled.


Humans provides examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: Karen was trying to shoot Niska after finding out about the consciousness program. George got in the way.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Mia calls Sophie "Little Mouse."
    • Leo refers to Max as "Maxie" most of the time.
  • Alternate Techline: All technology is the same except for the synths.
  • Alien Blood: Synth fluid, which acts as their blood, is the same shade of blue as a raspberry Jolly Rancher.
  • Always Someone Better: The synths in general to the humans.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Where to begin.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Niska, one of the sentient synths, is trapped in the robot brothel, and is shown screaming silently due to the ordeal.
    • It's implied that Mia experienced everything that was happening when she was Anita.
  • Androids Are People, Too: More or less the premise of the whole series.
  • Anyone Can Die: As of the end of series 3, major characters George, Odi, Pete, Karen, and Mia are dead and Laura is imprisoned for treason.
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  • Artificial Intelligence: The conscious synths are referred to as such.
  • Asshole Victim: The man Niska killed at the synthetic brothel asked her to act young and terrified. This pushed her over the edge.
  • Battleaxe Nurse: An android version, she’s cold, indifferent and will ignore the patient's protests.
  • Berserk Button: Don't mention the name Tom around Laura.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Max is considered the little brother of the family, and Leo in particular is extremely protective of him.
  • Bookends:
    • Anita looks up at the moon at beginning of the pilot, and again towards the end.
    • Laura hides an item beneath a pile of clothes at the start of the pilot and at the end of the finale.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Mattie is a standard example of one. Not that she doesn't have a good reason.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Season 1 ended with a lighthearted scene with Sophie trying to fill the void Mia left by acting like a "synth". As of Season 2, it seems to be some kind of Trans Nature.
  • Cessation of Existence: Sam is confused seeing a man at the graveyard talk to his dead wife, since she's gone and can't hear him. Strangely enough, neither the man nor Joe tells him about people believing many think the dead are not entirely gone and can hear the living in some cases.
  • Character Tic: All the synths have a recognisably stiff manner of movement. They tend to walk with squared stomping steps, and often only perform one physical action at a time, rather than chaining actions like humans do (ie the turn their head and then they smile, rather than doing both actions in one movement). This sharp and mechanical form of movement is true even for the conscious synths.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Joe Frequently accuses Laura of this. She explains it's because of Tom.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Fred hasn't appeared once in season 2. Mattie's friend Harun disappears midway through season 1 and is never mentioned again.
  • Cliffhanger: All of the seasons were ended this way. With the series' cancellation, it also ended as a whole like this, with many plot threads left hanging.
  • Color Motif:
    • Blue is the color of Synth blood-analog and is often associated with death or dying. This can be seen most directly with damaged Synths, but it extends to fluids and in particular water. Jennie Morrow's death is associated with a particular waterfall, Hester tends to kill or leave bodies in water and Karen's brushes with death are associated with beer and the ocean respectively. For Synthetics this tends to make sense as fluids and circuitry do not mix well, and can be dangerous. Blue also tends to run opposite the color of green, which represents vitality and life. A good comparison for this is the difference between Athena's office vs the Hawkin's household, Niska's choice in eye color and V's preferred display.
    • As the story progresses, eye color becomes very important to the human / android conflict:
      • Green - androids with free will. Propaganda campaigns are launched to alienate humans from “green eyes.”
      • Orange - androids created after the global awakening, designed to prevent another similar event. It's heavily implied that this will eventually fail.
      • Purple - transcended androids. These can take over orange eyed androids, and appear to be connected to the global AI network, effectively making them omniscient.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Max. When introduced in the story, the characters treat him as ‘innocent,’ and he doesn’t seem to actively refute them. As the story progresses, it becomes really clear he’s one of the most calculating characters on the cast. He practically gives the final ‘okay’ on the global awakening, and leads an android colony. Lastly, he has a Crowning Moment of Badass, where he engages in his one fight, and curb-stomps (in a way, literally), another android, with a level of competence, putting him on par with Niska and the body guard android.
  • Cyborg: Leo, having died as a child and been resurrected by his father using robot parts.
  • Death Seeker: Karen, because I Cannot Self-Terminate.
  • Deceptively Human Robots: The robots' mannerisms, movements and vivid eyes detract from their otherwise realistic appearance. The group of sentient synths take it even further as only their eyes would give them away. Later Niska is able to pass for human quite easily with a pair of contacts to hide her normal iris colour.
  • Do Androids Dream?: A big theme of the show, like in the original. Laura Hawkins in particular finds herself asking this more and more regarding Anita/Mia.
  • The Cynic: Leo, big time. He's quick to give up hope and can barely interact with, much less trust, humans.
  • Emergent Human: All of the sentient synths, although Niska fits the trope most.
  • Emotionless Girl: Niska is mostly like this, making it hard to show at first that she's sentient. However, when she isn't, watch out.
  • Eye Scream: Anita inserts a toothpick into her eye to prove that she cannot feel pain. It doesn't cause her eye any damage, but Laura is pretty horrified.
  • Fantastic Ghetto: The towns that support Synths and humans living together are called this In-Universe when they start being attacked by terrorists.
  • Fantastic Slur: "Dollies" seems to be a negative term for androids. Later, “Green Eyes,” which human propaganda makes synonymous with violent and unpredictable behavior. It's kind of chilling, considering that the androids are no more violent than oppressed humans. It's almost as if the propaganda projects humanity’s worst fears about itself, onto the androids (ref: Thomas Hobbes vs. John Locke).
  • Foreign Remake: The series is a remake of the Swedish series called Äkta Människor or Real Humans.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare:
    • From the human perspective: Odi at the start of the series, was an android at the tail-end of its service life. The AI ‘V’ replaces his already self-destructed AI with its own. From the brief time we see him and his new recruit, their new powers include: remote conversion of other androids, ‘orange eyes,’ and near omniscience.
    • Also Niska: she starts out as a sex bot. Finds herself again, stuck as a sex bot. Goes on a roaring rampage of revenge, and becomes a one-woman army. By the end of season three, she’s upgraded by Odi/V, acquiring the same powers mentioned above.
  • Glowing Mechanical Eyes: Downplayed Trope, the synths' eyes are a bright, glowing green or blue.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Matti wants to have an abortion until Niska reveals the baby is going to be a unique synth-human hybrid, the wave of the future, which convinces her not to.
  • Government Conspiracy: The Season 3 finale. A contingency plan is launched to eliminate all the green-eyed synths by shutting down the power to the synth compounds and then using power surges to destroy them when it's all turned back on. The extremist anti-synth groups are then unleashed to eliminate any survivors-the police are ordered to stand by rather than intervene. Meanwhile news media receive false reports claiming the synths are attacking many innocent humans, with violence toward them being self-defense. Luckily this is exposed by Laura with Neil's help, although she is charged with treason over it, and Mia sacrifices herself to show not all synths are bad.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Matti and Leo's baby is revealed as half-synth, half-human.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Stanley in Season 3.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Mia triggers a device which will destroy Hester, knowing it would do the same to her since she's in range there. Thankfully she can be revived before it's too late.
    • Karen sacrifices herself to save her son when he's exposed as a synth, identifying herself as one to an angry mob so he has time to get away. They beat her to death.
    • Mia again. This time, all the characters agree she's not coming back. She willingly martyrs herself for the sake of a possible peaceful future.
  • He Who Fights Monsters:
    • All the Synths except Max show signs of this, but Hester really takes the cake: killing two people, unlike Niska showing no signs of regret, and being generally dismissive of Max and Mattie.
    • Max actually starts to show signs of this in his leadership role of The Railyard in Season 3 due to his frustration over Agnes's actions
  • Honest John's Dealership: The synth store that sells Anita to the Hawkins family seems to make a habit of acquiring old and secondhand synths for cheap, cleaning them up and selling them as new.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: Karen thinks that conscious synths are a mistake that need to be corrected.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Karen was built with the inability for her to kill herself, since the woman she was modeled after committed suicide.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: Niska's contacts are a frozen blue, helping communicate her cold nature.
  • Ill Boy: Leo. His synthetic charging port is an open, infected wound on his stomach.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness:
    • Max. Not only is he the most innocent and childlike of the conscious synths. as the story progresses, in hindsight, he seems to be more of the ‘quiet, but highly philosophical monk.’ He displays an unwavering moral compass and usually acts as Leo's Morality Chain. When Hester pushes Leo to embrace his darker nature in season 2, it drives a wedge between Max and Leo and they part ways. They only reunite after Leo has a My God, What Have I Done? moment.
    • Max continues down this path, more-or-less becoming an incorruptible, unwavering, paragon of the android movement.
  • I Was Just Joking: Laura asks Mia why people are hunting the conscious synths. Mia responds with a statement about conscious synths planning to enslave the human race. After Laura looks rather terrified, she clarifies that she's kidding.
  • Job-Stealing Robot: Mattie Hawkins believes there will be no skilled jobs for humans in the future. A newspaper headline in the Title Sequence also shows this fear. One of the members of We Are People partly bases his speech on this.
  • Just a Machine:
    • These exact words are thrown around constantly, most poignantly when Joe insists that him sleeping with Anita doesn't count as cheating.
    • Inverted later on: Mia becomes the public face of the peaceful equal rights movement. Later, during a major raid a news crew broadcasts Mia being beaten to death by humans, after extending a helping hand to a human on the ground. This is lampshaded in-universe, by Lord Dryden uttering “Oh shit.” in a Hoist by His Own Petard moment. In the epilogue of the episode, its heavily implied this shifted public opinion against violence towards androids.
  • Killer Robot:
    • After breaking free from the robot brothel, Niska has no qualms about hurting humans who hurt others. On the other hand, she was going to kill a man she picked up in a bar (to rob him) when she thought he was lying about being single (and thus cheating on his wife), but when she realizes that he is single and wasn't lying - or rather, he is divorced, and gets rotating custody of his little daughter. She has second thoughts and simply leaves.
    • By season 3, some of the androids plan out terrorist operations.
  • Like Reality Unless Noted: The androids are the only thing shown to be different from present-day technology due to this. The creators said that it's actually a parallel present, not 20 Minutes into the Future. The story is set in a world 20 years after the invention of synths, and 10 years since they became everyday household appliances. Other technology, like cars and phones, looks just like it is from suburban England in 2015.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Household synths only wear the one set of clothes they come with. It’s briefly mentioned that the sentient synths are able to wear human clothes, one of the things which makes them harder to spot, but how synth clothes are different from human ones and why normal synths can’t wear human clothes is never explained.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Niska and Astrid, her girlfriend. They're both feminine and in a relationship.
  • The Load: Max refers to himself as one on Leo, since he cannot survive on his own. However, Max saves Leo from himself on the regular. Gets completely inverted when Leo is stopped from trying to save Max from a fight, with the phrase: “Don’t. You will be killed.” This wasn’t a threat, this was a friendly android stating the obvious.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Series 1 focuses on 17 different characters and five intersecting storylines.
    • The Hawkins family (Joe, Laura, Mattie, Toby, and Sophie) and their synth Anita
    • Retired AI researcher Dr. George Millican, his old caregiver synth Odi, and his new caregiver synth Vera
    • London Police Detectives Pete Drummond (along with his ex-wife Jill) and Karen Voss
    • Professor Edwin Hobb, an AI researcher looking to capture rogue synths
    • Leo Elster and the conscious synths (Max, Fred, and Niska)
  • Madden Into Misanthropy: Niska doesn't like humans very much, but she wants to live her own life away from her siblings. She's also pretty comfortable with the idea of killing people.
  • Mercy Kill: Niska mercy kills the badly damaged synths at the smash club.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • After most of the conscious synths get fried during the escape from Qualia, Leo has a breakdown that leads him to reconcile with Max. It's implied that Mia, too, reconsiders her actions in the wake of the escape.
    • Mattie gets a big dose of this after releasing the consciousness code to the global synth population, causing the event known as 'Day Zero' where 110,000 people died during the chaos the mass awakening of synths caused.
  • Not Quite Dead: After falling into the river with 4% power left, Max is fished out with a massive injury and suffers brain damage. This is repaired with the consciousness-giving program.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • George's reaction when he realizes that he left Niska's repair kit in plain sight when his house is being searched.
    • Edwin has one after Fred kills the guard hiding behind a door.
    • Mattie after Stanley tells her she's pregnant.
  • Only Mostly Dead: Leo did drown as a child, but he was rebuilt.
  • Parental Substitute: Why Mia and the other sentient synths were created.
  • Perma-Stubble: Leo's unshaven and has shaggy hair, emphasizing his life on the run.
  • Playing with Syringes/They Would Cut You Up: Since Leo is a one-of-a-kind cyborg with synthetic brain parts, the people hunting the conscious synths decide to experiment on him instead of euthanize him like he demands to be. He escapes before they can do anything.
  • Post-Cyberpunk: To an extent.
  • Raised by Robots:
    • Leo's mother Beatrice was very mentally ill and unable to care for herself, much less her son. This prompted her husband to build conscious synths to act as a family for Leo. Leo considers Mia his mother and loves her as much.
    • The "We Are People" movement's rhetoric brings up the fact that children are/will be raised by unfeeling, unconscious robots, instead of real human parents.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil:
    • Mattie dislikes synths and is happy to see them come to a certain amount of harm, but she draws the line at teenage boys raping a synth maid they've switched off (effectively knocked unconscious) at a Wild Teen Party.
    • Niska hates being trapped at the robot brothel, but it takes a client who wants her to act like an underage rape victim to make her snap and commit murder. It's also heavily implied that she was sexually abused by her father.
  • Replacement Goldfish:
    • It turns out that Karen was originally Beatrice, a synth designed to look like Leo's mother.
    • Dr. Athena Morrow's goal is to do this with her daughter.
  • Religious Robot:
    • After an argument with Leo, Max asks God to keep his family safe and in return he'll serve him in any way he can. He's not actually a believer, just worried, as he prefaces his prayer with "your existence is unlikely."
    • Odi walks into a church to get some advice on his existential crisis, which he does, but doesn't seem to grasp the concept of religion. He becomes a cyber prophet, leading humans and androids to the next stage of human evolution.
    • Anatole, Max's confidante at The Railyard is revealed to have built a shrine to David Elster, considering him a deity of sorts (he did create the synths, after all).
    • It takes a new degree as it turns out Anatole believes the entire Synth revival was all Elster's plan and they are to achieve his grand vision of the future. He refuses to accept Max's word that it was all just a side effect and believes they must be acting out "The Creator's" vision.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Aside from their uniform bright green eyes, the original model synths are identical to human beings in their appearance. Initially they still lack consciousness, but that changes first with some individuals, then all of them. After that they cannot be distinguished in behavior either, and pass for humans using contacts.
  • Robot Maid: What many of the synths are used for. Anita/Mia is one.
  • Robosexual:
    • It's so common for humans to have sex with synths that Anita, who is programmed as a Robot Maid, came with an "adult mode" for her primary owner. When Joe sleeps with her, his family is disgusted, because it's a mix of cheating and abusing someone they care for.
    • Toby is so enamored with Anita that he turns down a human girl, who's his age and into him.
    • Astrid is with Niska before knowing she's a synth. Once she learns Astrid remains attracted to her.
  • Sadistic Choice: Anatole makes Laura decide who's going to die between a random elderly gent literally dragged in off the street and Sam. Anatole later reveals he had no intention of hurting anyone, which makes her choice worse.
  • Sexbot: A robotic brothel is shown. Niska is trapped there and later rebels by murdering a client. Household synths apparently have this as an adult-only option that can be activated.
  • "Second Law" My Ass!: Niska says as much when she kills the brothel client who orders her to act like a child rape victim.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Leo. He died in Real Humans at the end of Season 1, but survives here.
  • Species Title: Not actually about humans in the general. It's about five androids who are made to be more human, and the world they live in.
  • Static Stun Gun: Hobb's agents have rifles loaded with Taser rounds that can shut down a synth.
  • Stealth Pun: The weapon Stanley was going to use in his assassination attempt on The Dryden Commission? A box cutter (known in the UK as a Stanley knife).
  • The Stoic: Niska, making it hard to prove she's sentient.
  • Suicide Attack: Mia triggers a device to destroy Hester which also affects her. She's revived afterward though.
  • Super Strength: Synths of both sexes are much stronger than humans.
  • Super Toughness: Anita gets hit by a car, saving Toby's life, and she's not much worse for wear.
  • Thank the Maker: Anatole views the synth creator David Elster as something akin to a god, convinced he's fulfilling Elster's plan for them. This contrasts starkly with his hatred for other humans, except Leo Elster, being David's son. He's very angry when Max and then Leo reveal there was no plan.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: 'Asimov blocks' are mentioned as a reason why a synth could not kill a human, but the modified group are quite capable of hurting and killing humans. Like independent-minded sentient people, though, their attitudes towards killing vary. Niska has killed and claims that she has no reservations about it, but clearly hesitates in certain instances. Max is stunned and horrified that Niska took a life. Hester on the other hand is completely unrepentant when it comes to murder.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Odi. Unable to find a purpose for himself after attaining consciousness and missing his dead loved ones, he formats himself and erases his own mind. His body is later taken over by the AI V.
  • Trans Nature: "Synthies".
  • Unscrupulous Hero:
    • Niska. She does have some scruples, but she wants to ignore them.
    • These scruples continue to mount, eventually leading her to a higher purpose.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Leo's origins.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Anita carrying Sophie out of the house.
    • Karen removing a sack of food from her throat after dinner, proving she's a synth.
    • Max plugging in Leo to charge after he gets badly beaten.
    • Max’s duel.
    • Niska’s purple eyes. God Am I.
    • Niska: Right after her implied domination of all the security in the building. She says: “Your child is a human / android hybrid, and the future of both races.”
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • We still don't know why Anita/Mia took Sophie from the house at the end of the pilot.
    • It's not obvious at first, but that was actually a brief nightmare of Laura's. She wakes up the next morning to check on Sophie just in case, and she's still asleep in her bed.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?:
    • Examined. The synths look incredibly human, and several characters treat them as such. Even the ones who aren't that comfortable around the synths dislike the idea of them being hurt, such as Mattie stopping another teenager from raping a synth at a party.
    • The line is even further muddled when it comes to Leo, a cyborg.
    • Turned on its head later on: V/Odi and Niska plan on leading both androids and humans into transcendence, which will make this trope obsolete, as far as the series is concerned.


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