Follow TV Tropes


Series / Raised by Wolves (2020)

Go To

Raised by Wolves is an American Science Fiction drama series created by Aaron Guzikowski. The first two episodes were directed by Ridley Scott, who also serves as an executive producer for the show. It premiered on HBO Max on September 3, 2020.

The story centers around two androids, Father and Mother, who are tasked with raising human children on the extrasolar planet Kepler-22b after the Earth was destroyed by a great war. As the burgeoning colony of humans threatens to be torn apart by religious differences, the androids learn that controlling the beliefs of humans is a treacherous and difficult task.

Season 2 premiered on February 3, 2022. On June 4 of that year, Warner Bros. Discovery cancelled the series.

For the unrelated British sitcom, see Raised by Wolves (2013).


This TV series provides examples of:

  • After the End: Earth was devastated in a war between the Mithraics and the rest of humanity, who coalesced into a group known as the Atheists. Both sides unleashed weapons of mass destruction on each other (The Mithraics' Necromancers and the Atheists' nukes), destroying civilization and leaving the world's air unbreathable.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: In season two, the Atheist society is ruled by an AI called the Trust. There are grumblings that it will never relinquish its power as it's supposed to. It also uses pragmatic but brutal tactics for the greater good, such as weaponizing Mouse to kill off Caleb and his faction.
  • Apocalypse How: The war on Earth left the planet uninhabitable, forcing humanity to colonize another world. Kepler 22-b also seemingly suffered some sort of apocalypse around one million years ago, due to traces of a humanlike civilization found in it and the irradiated fauna and flora.
  • Advertisement:
  • Arc Number: The number 5 is proving to be an important number in the series.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • The androids seem to believe that they can restart the human species from a maximum of 12 original people, but the minimum size for a population bottleneck that can develop into a sustainable society is a few hundred at least. There is so far no evidence that they have any gene editing technology to overcome this problem.
    • The human body can't survive on just one food. The people who relied on carboes should have gotten nutrient deficiencies.
  • Assassin Outclassin': While not necessarily an "assassin", the Mithraics rely on their own android to defeat Mother in the first episode, and are assured that it should be no problem, as he believes Mother and Father to both be standard service models. He's quite wrong and suffers a quick Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Badass Baritone: Otho has a very deep and resonant voice. He also turns out to be a hulking monster of a man.
  • Becoming the Mask:
    • Caleb and Mary must pretend to be Paul's parents to maintain their cover as Mithraic. Over the course of 13 years in hypersleep, they develop legitimate feelings for him and genuinely regard him as their son.
    • While journeying with the surviving Mithraic colonists, Caleb starts hearing the voice of Sol and comes to believe that he is, in fact, chosen by Sol to rule.
  • Bluff the Imposter: Lucius asks Caleb if he prayed for the soul of Lucius's father after killing him. This is a test, as no Mithraic person would pray for the soul of one judged unclean.
  • Child by Rape: Tempest is carrying one from Otho, which she hates.
  • Child Soldiers: The Atheists are shown to employ these, as well as equipping them with backpacks that amplify their stamina and strength at the cost of eventually causing heart failure.
  • The Chosen One: Mithraic scripture mentions an orphan who will usher in a new age. The problem is there are several orphans on Kepler, and they're all hearing voices in their head.
    • The androids give little credence to the Mithraic legend, but have their own special reverence for Campion, the only survivor of their brood and the only hope for an Atheist society. Mother speaks about him and the original Campion with a awe-inspired tone that, ironically enough, sounds religious.
    • Mother is told by her creator in a simulation that her fetus is "the mission" and that all of his plans rest on it, though she realizes after its birth that this is untrue.
    • Caleb, an orphan and an Atheist in disguise, is driven mad by his visions on Kepler and comes to believe he is Sol's chosen one.
    • Paul conspicuously matches the prophecy to Mithraic eyes, but they're concerned that he is supposedly not an orphan.
  • Church Militant: The Mithraic are a theocracy, with a military firmly entrenched in the state church.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Of all the people to have survived the destruction of the Ark, Tempest's rapist is one of them.
  • Cosmic Horror Reveal: Voices and visions are appearing to Caleb, Paul and Campion. Humans are devolving. Mother becomes pregnant with a flying snake parasite. Something seriously wrong is happening on Kepler-22b. Sol seems to actually exist, but is evil.
  • Creator Thumbprint: These androids bleed a milky-white substance (called "fuel blood"), just like the androids in the Alien franchise.
  • Crucified Hero Shot:
    • Necromancers fly about in the classic T-pose, standing upright with their arms stretched to their sides. While the Necromancers were made by Mithraics, not Christians, the crucifixions of the Roman era still play a minor role in Mithraic iconography.
    • In the first episode, Mother stands on a rock with her arms extended after killing Father.
    • Caleb is crucified upside down in the season two finale. The last shot of the season is his body hovering upside down still in this pose.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Campion is named after Mother and Father's programmer.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Mithraic society is vastly different from standard western culture. They are militant religious zealots who would kill any nonbeliever. All of their values are based on rigid, merciless piety.
  • A Dog Named "Dog":
    • The androids who act as mother and father to the atheist children are named Mother and Father.
    • Paul decides to name his mouse "Mouse." Caleb finds this odd, but doesn't say anything.
  • Domestic Abuse: Caleb grows increasingly controlling and violent over the course of season one.
  • Evil Stole My Faith: Tempest admits to losing her faith due to the experience of being raped.
  • The Faceless:
    • Tempest's rapist Otho is never seen without his Restraining Bolt helmet. The only hint we have of his appearance is the tip of a beard poking down from the lip of his mask.
    • Grandmother, the native android that Father revives is perpetually wearing a veil after being activated. The veil is removed when Mother borrows it so she can kill Number 7 without her feelings for it getting in the way.
  • Fantastic Caste System: In Mithraic society, the religious clerics are treated as the superior social class, holding positions of governmental authority over all others. They are also strictly forbidden to kill, or basically do anything "unclean" or risk losing their social status and rank. Handily, the military caste is available to do everything for them. Everyone is seemingly born into their class, and doing anything different is looked at askance.
  • Flying Brick: As a Necromancer, Mother can "weaponize" herself and turn into a flying metal monster.
  • Foreshadowing: While having sex with Mary, Caleb sees her as bleeding from bullet wounds. She gets shot by Paul in the season 1 finale, though apparently survives.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • Campion is enraged when Paul easily smashes his record at a logic puzzle.
    • Discussed when Mother gets pregnant when Sue warns that both Campion and Father will become jealous.
    • Number Seven seems to become jealous of Campion at one point, which is possibly why it seems to target him during its otherwise indiscriminate rampage.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Earth is destroyed in a conflict between the Mithraic, a Knight Templar religion of zealots, versus atheists, a terrorist insurgence that uses child soldiers and suicide bombers. Both are presented as dangerous and flawed.
  • Hearing Voices
    • Otho claims that Sol talks to him and tells him to "be fruitful."
    • Certain settlers on Kepler 22b gradually come to realize that the planet is receiving some sort of "signal" that some of them grow to believe is Sol speaking to them.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: Marcus apparently used to force Paul to kill animals to show his resolve. When Caleb presents him with a pet mouse, Paul assumes he wants him to kill it.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder:
    • Sue states, "I’m a doctor, not a mechanic!"
    • When Mother asks a medical android on board the wreckage of the Ark to transfer his fuel blood to her, he protests, "I'm a doctor, not a blood bag!"
  • In Spite of a Nail: Even though the history of Earth diverged before the founding of Christianity, somehow Frankenstein is still a well-known work of fiction.
    • Many notable similarities in timelines present themselves. There is a city named "Boston", the astronomer Johannes Kepler seems to exist (as does the naming convention of interstellar objects used by NASA), and English even seems to be the accepted language (while this could be a Translation Convention, the repeated use of English idioms and wordplay would likely indicate it is not.)
  • Incurable Coughof Death: Between 2 and 4 of the original children in episode one are killed by a mysterious disease whose main symptom seems to be coughing hard and often.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • Mother is quickly able to ascertain that Caleb and Mary aren't the real Marcus and Sue.
    • In the first season finale, Paul discovers that Mary replaced his real mother.
  • Kill and Replace: Caleb and Mary kill Marcus and Sue and take their places aboard the Ark.
  • Klingon Promotion: Caleb becomes the leader of the Mithraic after killing Ambrose.
  • Knight Templar: The Mithraic religion encourages pitiless zealotry among all its followers. They believe that no one who is not Mithraic even has a soul, and anyone who falls short of Mithraic ideals is an Unperson even to their own family.
  • Left the Background Music On: The soundtrack is largely composed of various rising and falling tones, but there are some scenes where a character reacts as if they've heard or at least sensed something.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Mithraic religion apparently worships the god "Sol" and has a sun as its holy symbol. Their prayers frequently reference light. However, everything we learn about their beliefs suggests that it's a cruel and merciless religion. While Sol itself is implied to be real, it's implied to also be malevolent.
  • Lima Syndrome: Caleb and Mary are unenthusiastic when they learn that they're stuck with a "son" to maintain their cover. After 13 years raising him in a computer simulation, they feel like actual parents.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Anything caught in Mother's scream attack explodes into a cloud of blood and gore. There's also a flash of light when they hit someone.
  • Machine Blood: All Mithraic-made androids bleed a white "fuel blood" when injured.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Caleb and Mary employ an android surgeon to completely change their appearance to those of the real Marcus and Sue.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Mother can make people explode by screaming at them when she is in her Super Mode. Even those who don't explode into Ludicrous Gibs will cover their ears from the horrible sound.
  • Mama Bear: Mother will do anything to protect her children. Given that she turns out to be a Necromancer, that means she can kill people just by screaming at them.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Tempest reacts in horror when she finds out that the creature she just killed was pregnant.
  • No Biological Sex: The androids all lack any sexual characteristics.
  • Not So Stoic: In spite of their robotically calm personalities and claims that they do not experience emotions like happiness, Mother and Father clearly express emotions. In season two, Father states that, in a way, Mother is more emotional than a human.
  • Older Than They Look: As stated by the Mithraic children themselves. They've all lived an extra 13 years in a computer simulation without aging.
  • Papa Wolf: While Father is only a standard service model android, he's still quite the one-man army and will fight to defend his children.
  • Prophecy Twist: The Mithraics have a prophecy concerning an "orphan boy" and various hints point to it possibly being one of several characters.
  • Raised by Robots: The central premise of the show is that the androids Mother and Father are programmed to raise and defend a group of human children.
  • Religion Is Right: In spite of the Atheists' insistence that there is no such thing as the supernatural, something seemingly unexplainable is happening on Kepler-22b. Whether it is natural forces or the intervention of a deity is unclear (and, of course, just because you can't explain something doesn't mean that it's the supernatural at work).
  • Sanity Slippage: Caleb's grip on reality seems to erode rapidly after he becomes the leader of the Mithraic. However, it's revealed in season two that the voices he hears are a real signal emanating from the core of Kepler 22b and are of unknown purpose. He ultimately denounces the signal and his newfound faith.
  • Scenery Gorn: The flashbacks to the time on Earth are not pleasant, with cities utterly destroyed from the war, and the camera emphasizing the swaths of urban decay.
  • Shown Their Work: The setting is an alternate universe where the Roman mystery cult of Mithras spread across the world instead of Christianity. The Zoroastrian god Mithra was increasingly linked with the god of the sun over time, so that by the show's time, the two deities have merged into "Sol." In the show, Mithraic culture has a lot of Roman influence, since it received the same influences that Roman Catholicism did as it evolved. The title of the show, "raised by wolves" seems to (apart from the colloquial expression) also reference the Roman myth of Romulus, the founder of Rome, being suckled by a she-wolf.
  • The Smart Guy: Paul is extremely smart. He solves a logic puzzle that took Campion over 15 minutes to solve in mere seconds. He invents a trap to use to kill the humanoid creatures and can translate a simple cipher just by sight. It may help that he's had an extra 13 years in a computer simulation to develop his mind, though the other Mithraic children don't seem any more intelligent than their physical ages would suggest.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Kepler-22b is home to some sort of sinister snake species. We see enormous skeletons of snake creatures at Mother and Father's farm. Paul discovers cave drawings of snakes. In the final episode of season 1, Mother gives birth to a flying, snake-like lamprey creature that quickly grows to enormous size. In spite of being treated like a child by Mother, it proves malevolent after becoming "weaponized".
  • Spikes of Villainy: Otho the rapist's Restraining Bolt helmet has spikes on it, apparently solely because it looks scary.
  • Spot the Thread: Ambrose grows suspicious when Mary does not recognize a nursery rhyme all Mithraic children learn.
  • Stealth Insult: Caleb takes a Mithraic pendant relic after being told that it belonged to a king. Decima, who has grown disillusioned with his claims of being their prophet, tries to assure him that the relic is a fake. When he ignores her, she then apologizes and says, with great meaning, that the pendant is actually a perfect ornament for him. After beat, Caleb looks sheepish, showing that he registered the insult.
  • Stern Sun Worshippers: The Mithraic religion is based on the sun god Sol. It decrees that all non-believers lack souls and need to be destroyed, and instates its clerics as the ruling class in society.
  • Stockholm Syndrome:
    • The Mithraic children are essentially taken prisoner by Mother and Father, but they all eventually prefer the androids to their own people, even though most do not abandon their faith.
    • Once Paul discovers that Caleb and Sue are actually imposters who killed his original family, he eventually decides to treat them like his parents anyway. He seems to forget about it occasionally, such as when he requests that Sue sing a lullaby to him like she used to, and Sue has to remind him that that wasn't her.
  • Super Breath: Mother can breathe on things and cause them to simply evaporate even when not weaponized.
  • Super Mode: As a Necromancer, Mother can weaponize herself and turn into a Flying Brick with a killer scream. She's virtually unstoppable in this mode.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Caleb has a number of hallucinations. Some of them appear to be prophetic.
  • Two Aliases, One Character: Caleb and Mary take the identities of Marcus and Sue early in the first season.
  • Villain Has a Point: "The boy's not safe here with you."
  • Wham Episode: The first season finale, "The Beginning", ends with Paul discovering that Mary killed his real mother and took over her identity. He (non-fatally) shoots her and leaves the group. Caleb discovers that the atheists have also landed on Kepler-22b. Mother and Father discover that the creatures are devolved humans. Mother gives birth to a giant snake that she fears may try to kill the rest of the humans on the planet, so she and Father try to kill it by taking the shuttle into the planet's core. Miraculously, the shuttle passes through the core intact and makes it to the tropical zone. As a last ditch effort, Mother and Father escape from the shuttle and try to crash it to kill the snake. Unfortunately, the snake survives and has grown dramatically larger.
  • What Measure Is A Nonhuman:
    • Androids are treated like appliances, yet they seem to possess some measure of sentience.
    • Number Seven is treated as a monster by the Atheist society, though Mother insists that its her child and harmless.
  • Womb Horror: Mother discovers that she is pregnant with something. It turns out to be a horrible flying lamprey thing that immediately starts parasitically feeding on her before flying away.
  • You Are Number 6: Mother refers to her seventh "child" as Number Seven. It receives no name because it's a giant, flying snake creature.