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Western Animation / Love, Death & Robots

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"These machines were otherworldly and alive. They felt akin to magic."
Liang, "Good Hunting"

Love, Death, and Robots is an animated sci-fi and fantasy Anthology series produced by Tim Miller and David Fincher for Netflix. The first season premiered on March 15, 2019. The second season was released on May 14, 2021, with a third season releasing May 20, 2022. A fourth season is currently in development.

The episodes vary in animation style, tone and theme, and are usually between ten and twenty minutes long. Episodes tend to be about, well, love and/or death and/or robots, covering a variety of tales about humanity and technology. Most of them are adaptations of short stories from the likes of Peter F. Hamilton, John Scalzi, Alastair Reynolds, and Joe Lansdale. Be advised that the marketing isn't lying; many of the shorts really are NSFW in content.

As all the episodes are self-contained and many rely on Twist Endings in the vein of similar predecessor anthology series like The Twilight Zone (1959), Metal Hurlant Chronicles and fellow Netflix series Black Mirror, beware of spoilers.

Please put episode-specific tropes on the recap page for the episode and keep general tropes on the main page.

Tropes found across the series:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The episodes range from a modern-day setting with a few pieces of technology more advanced than the present-day, to the deep future where intergalatic space travel and Cyberpunk is the norm.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: "Life Hutch" and "Automated Customer Service" entire premise is based on malfunctioning AIs that decide to go on a rampage as a result. Although, in the latter, the presence of a taser, the fact that other appliances are ready to answer its call and the presence of a "whitelist" all imply that it isn't a malfunction after all.
  • All There in the Script: A significant number of characters aren't named in the episodes and are only listed in the end credits. Most of the time, they're very minor characters but sometimes important ones fall into this like Jennifer (the Femme Fatale from "Sonnie's Edge"), Eve (Melanie's mother in "Pop Squad"), Zakharov (the protagonist of "The Secret War"), Jeanette (the protagonist of "Automated Customer Service") or Laird (the protagonist of "The Tall Grass").
  • Alternate History: Episodes set in the past or involving real-life events and people often delve into this. Such as "Alternate Histories" (obviously enough), along with "The Secret War", "Good Hunting", and "Shape-Shifters".
  • Animated Adaptation: With the exceptions of "The Witness", "Blindspot", "Three Robots: Exit Strategies" and "Jibaro", the episodes are all adaptations of short stories by various writers.
  • Animated Anthology: The episodes don't have any connections to each other, except "Three Robots" and "Three Robots: Exit Strategies".
  • Art Shift: The series runs the gamut of CGI both stylized and photorealistic, 2D animation and even live-action.
  • Bittersweet Ending: All but one non-comedic shorts end with those.
  • Black Comedy: Whenever the copious amounts of graphic violence and gratuitous sexuality aren't being played straight, they get humorously exaggerated instead. "Alternate Histories" is a prime example, where Adolf Hitler is killed in increasingly bizarre and improbable scenarios.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Subverted, if not outright defied consistently in all shorts with firearms present. Regardless of story, characters routinely end up reloading or running completely out of ammo.
  • Breather Episode: The episodes "Three Robots", "When the Yogurt Took Over", and "Ice Age" are completely devoid of the violence and sexuality found in most of the other episodes, and have more of a comedic vibe to them. "Alternate Histories" and "The Dump" aren't completely devoid of violence and sexuality, but it is totally humorous to the point of being a goofy Black Comedy that doesn't take itself seriously at all.
  • The Bus Came Back: XBOT-4000, K-VRC and 11-45-G from "Three Robots" return in Volume 3's "Three Robots: Exit Strategy". They're currently the sole characters to get this honor.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror:
    • The Soviet soldiers from "The Secret War" are just tired of fighting off the ghoul infestations.
    • Similarly, farmers from "Suits" are with their alien neighbours.
    • Reaching this by Thom is the entire point of "Beyond the Aquila Rift".
  • Continuity Nod: The Ipswich Collectibles store from "Pop Squad" briefly appears in "The Drowned Giant".
  • Cosmic Horror Story: A recurring theme throughout the series, with human characters facing against some Eldritch Abominations. They rarely succeed, and if so, it is achieved at the highest price.
  • Dead Guy Puppet: No less than two stories in Season 3. "Bad Traveling" and "The Very Pulse of the Machine" have entities using human corpses to communicate with other humans, a giant crab monster and the moon of Io respectively. While "Swarm" has an alien hive mind communicating through an ambiguously alive infested human.
  • Double Standard: Male nudity is predominately for squick (with only one short not trying to disgust viewers with the male body), while female nudity is predominately for fanservice. Even if a naked female might end up turned into disservice, the sheer amount of nudity for the sake of it outweights anything else.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Love, Death & Robots. There's love, there's death, and there's robots. Each short has at least one of those three.
  • Fan Disservice: There is no shortage of nudity, but what tends to happen to these women/men isn't pretty.
  • Fanservice: The series doesn't proclaim itself NSFW for nothing. A large proportion of shorts have nudity in some form (with Volume 1 having it in almost all of them), though in some cases you may wish there weren't.
  • Fantastically Indifferent: Don't expect most characters to have any sort of surprised reaction towards the sudden appearance of supernatural things, be it vampires, demons, or a mini-civilization developing in their fridge.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • "Sonnie's Edge": Eagle-eyed viewers might notice that the green light comes on for Sonnie's opponent when he connects to Turboraptor, but turns off for Sonnie when she connects to Khanivore. They might also notice Sonnie's team are seen in the background handling a life pod for a human-sized occupant...
    • "The Secret War": When Zakharov gives a forlorn look at the mutilated body of the teenage boy in the ransacked village, it's because the boy is about the same age as the teenage soldier in the squad, who is revealed to be Zakharov's son. Also, Kaminski the big soldier is seen sharpening a shovel during the quiet campfire scene, and later during the squad's Last Stand he is seen fighting the pagan demons with it.
    • "Bad Travelling": When Torrin threatens to shoot Cert, viewers might notice that oddly, while the boy is clearly terrified, he otherwise doesn't protest his innocence. Later it turns out he voted to sacrifice the islanders; in fact, the entire crew did.
  • Genre Roulette: Each short has varied genres and moods on which it focus. You basically can never know what you're dealing with it until you're already watching it.
    • "Sonnie's Edge" is a gritty, monster filled and action heavy Cyberpunk Rape and Revenge story.
    • "Three Robots" is a light hearted comedy where robots learn and comment about human habits.
    • "The Witness" is a trippy and surrealist thriller.
    • "Suits" is an action packed mix of country scenery and Mecha Anime.
    • "Sucker of Souls" ditches Sci-Fi elements in favor of a Dark Fantasy action-horror tinged episode about monster vampires.
    • "When The Yogurt Took Over" is a light hearted and odd Sci-Fi comedy.
    • "Beyond The Aquila Rift" is a strange thriller that turns into a Cosmic Horror Story.
    • "Good Hunting" is a Miyazaki-esque Steampunk story of colonized China.
    • "The Dump" flips the switch often between Dark Comedy and horror elements.
    • "Shape-Shifters" is an action oriented, military story with werewolves and little to no comedy.
    • "Helping Hand" is a dead-serious Life-or-Limb Decision, done by a space janitor as she's busy fixing a satellite.
    • "Fish Night" is a trippy animation about a Ghost Story and lots of dead fishes.
    • "Lucky 13" is a Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane story about the "unlucky" dropship, its new pilot and their bond.
    • "Zima Blue" is an In-Universe deconstruction of True Art Is Incomprehensible.
    • "Blind Spot" is a Heist Episode with cyborg thieves and a Traintop Battle.
    • "Ice Age" is a comedy featuring live actors and a nuclear war in their fridge.
    • "Alternate Histories" is about progressively more ridiculous alt-history predictions made by a phone app.
    • "The Secret War" is about brave Soviet soldiers defending the motherland from ghouls summoned in Siberia.
    • "Automated Customer Service" is a futuristic Dark Comedy about a woman fighting her robotic vacuum cleaner that's trying to kill her and her dog.
    • "Ice" is a far futuristic tale on an ice planet where a young man is trying to prove himself to his genetically modified brother and his genetically modified friends.
    • "Pop Squad" is a Dystopian tale where having children has been criminalized and the police execute any children they find.
    • "Snow in the Desert" follows an immortal man on a desert planet and his life of fighting off bounty hunters.
    • "The Tall Grass" is a supernatural thriller where a traveler on a train is nearly dragged into the hereafter by ravenous pale monsters.
    • "All Through the House" is a Christmas Episode where two children meet Santa Claus...sort of.
    • "Life Hutch" is a Military Science Fiction story of a downed fighter pilot trying to fend off a malfunctioning maintenance robot.
    • "The Drowned Giant" is a tragic Urban Fantasy about how a giant washed ashore on a beach causes a sensation, and then is tragically forgotten and desecrated.
    • "Three Robots: Exit Strategies" is a Sequel Episode, a first in the series, featuring the light comedy of the three robots as they learn about human survival strategies.
    • "Bad Travelling" is a Gothic Horror tale of a group of shark-hunters dealing with a bloodthirsty sea monster and each other.
    • "The Very Pulse Of The Machine" is a trippy Sci-Fi tale about an astronaut trying to survive while communicating with the moon she's stranded on.
    • "Night of the Mini Dead" is a Black Comedy zombie apocalypse tale, animated in the style of a stop motion diorama.
    • "Kill Team Kill" is a Military Science Fiction romp about a wise-cracking squad of soldiers versus a cybernetically modified bear.
    • "Swarm" is an introspective science fiction tale about humanity studying a swarm of Hive Mind aliens in order to improve themselves.
    • "Mason's Rats" is the age old tale of a farmer dealing with a rat problem. Only the rats are intelligent, and the pest control is far more advanced than should be necessary.
    • "In Vaulted Halls Entombed" is a Cosmic Horror Story of a military squad discovering an Eldritch Abomination sealed in a temple.
    • "Jibaro" is a mindbending retelling of the siren myth, only involving a strange golden woman with a deadly voice and a deaf knight.
  • Gorn: The series also doesn't shy away from showing violence to comedic and horrific degrees.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Out of 18 shorts from Volume 1, four have Taking You with Me moments (some of them more than once) and there are countless more situations where characters are aiming for a sacrifice, but luckily for them circumstances prevent it. For comparison, Volume 2 has just one instance of this.
  • Inconsistent Episode Lengths: As an Animated Anthology series, episodes range from 10 to 20 minutes long and are mostly adaptations of short stories by various writers.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: In many of the more realistic-looking shorts, the characters are modeled directly after their actors. For example, Cutter in "Lucky 13" is basically Samira Wiley as a Space Marine, and Greta of "Beyond the Aquila Rift" is Madeleine Knight with short hair.
    • Spencer in "In Vaulted Halls Entombed" is basically identical to his actor Jai Courtney.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • The dropship from Lucky 13 does it to OpFor soldiers, initiating its self-destruction mechanism only when they get grouped around its hull. The explosion releases everywhere around cluster of white phosphorus, burning alive the entire assault force.
    • Torrin in Bad Travelling manages to kill the Thanapod this way. He ignites the ship's supply of oil drums, causing the vessel and the giant crab trapped within to be consumed in flames.
    • Attempted multiple times in Night of the Mini Dead against the zombies, with varying success.
  • Lighter and Softer: Volume 2 is significantly lighter than the first one. All the shorts end up with an upbeat note (and most of them even with a clear-cut happy ending), while there is just a single instance of a Heroic Sacrifice. This is reverted by Volume 3 whith episodes more in line with the first Volume.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: More than half of the shorts from the first Volume feature male frontal nudity, and all but one are for squick factor. Throughout next two Volumes, any male nudity is still used for gross-outs.
  • Military Science Fiction: Oh yes:
    • "Lucky 13" deals with a rookie pilot, her dropship and their misadventures during a conflict on some distant planet.
    • "Shape-Shifters" is about military application of werewolves.
    • "The Secret War" is a borderline example due to trading straight "sci-fi" for "occult", as the creatures the soldier fight are explicitly summoned in a ritual.
    • "Life Hutch" is a straight example, where a space pilot has to deal with being stranded and then trapped in a pod with a malfunctioning robot.
    • "Kill Team Kill" is about group of soldiers fighting against a cyborg mutant grizzly bear released from a secret lab.
    • "In Vaulted Halls Entombed" sees a Special Forces Unit go up against Lovecraftian horrors. It doesn't end well for any of them.
  • Murderous Malfunctioning Machine:
    • "Three Robots" hints on this premise, but ultimately subverts it beyond few visual jokes and references to Terminator.
    • "Automated Customer Service" is a comedic story of a vaccuming robot that goes territorial and starts hunting its owner and her dog.
    • "Life Hutch" is more serious take on the concept, with malfunctioning robot trying to kill everything present in a rescue pod.
    • "Kill Team Kill" ups the ante with a cyborg bear, complete with titanium jaws and talons on its back.
  • Oddball in the Series: Each volume has one short to stand out among the rest due to its style:
    • Ice Age from Volume 1, which involves live actors.
    • Ice from Volume 2, which is the only traditional animation of that volume.
    • Night of the Mini Dead, while still a CGI, is done to look like a stop-motion animation and filmed from a far-away distance with tiny figures, using diorama-like sets.
  • The Reveal: Most episodes have one.
    • Sonnie's Edge: Sonnie is not a woman who occasionally pilots a monster, Sonnie is a monster who occasionally pilots a woman.
    • Sucker of Souls: There are multiple vampires.
    • Beyond the Aquila Rift: Greta (and the station in which she and Thom reunite) is actually an illusion created by an Ambiguously Evil Eldritch Abomination to help Thom and his crew cope with the realizations of their ship going horribly off-course.
    • Ice: Fletcher faked his injury.
    • Snow in the Desert: Hirald is a cyborg.
    • Three Robots: Exit Strategies: The rocket that made it to Mars was manned by genetically modified intelligent cats.
    • Bad Travelling: Torrin lied to his crew - not only the ballot they cast wasn't marked, he didn't have to do so, as he correctly predicted they would all vote to send the monster to the inhabited Phaiden Island.
    • In Vaulted Halls Entombed: The cave is housing a Cthulhu-like creature that wishes to be freed and set loose on the rest of the world.
  • Scenery Porn: Between photorealistic, to hyper-stylized, there’s no shortage of beautiful and well-animated scenery.
  • Science Fantasy: Every episode is either Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, or any mixture of the three (though most of the time it's Sci-Fi Horror).
  • Show, Don't Tell: Several shorts make excellent use of this, particularly Jibaro, being a No-Dialogue Episode.
  • Spiritual Sequel:
    • To Heavy Metal, of which it started off as a new installment.
    • To The Animatrix in being an animated anthology aimed at adults featuring various animation styles. Some shorts in particular mirror each other in a variety of ways: "The Witness" and "A Detective Story" are both high atmospheric, stylised city stories based on crime narratives, while "Good Hunting" and "The Second Renaissance" share a very similar artstyle, disturbing imagery and similar themes of oppression and revolt against the oppressors by mechanical entities.
  • Tamer and Chaster: The second volume has significantly less nudity and fanservice than the first one, a very brief sex scene in "Snow in the Desert" and a giant penis in "The Drowned Giant" nonwithstanding.
  • Time Skip: Various shorts apply them for just as varied durations, ranging between few minutes to few years.
  • Thematic Series: For a show titled Love, Death & Robots, the theme is exactly that. Episodes tend to cover themes like human nature, our place in the cosmos, and our relationship with machines and technology. And then some are just trippy.
  • Trapped-with-Monster Plot:
    • Volume 2 has "Automated Customer Service" and "Life Hutch" - first being comedic, the other serious take on this trope, with main character facing a Murderous Malfunctioning Machine.
    • Volume 3 brings "Bad Travelling", where the monster is a gigantic, man-eating crab in a small whaling ship.
  • Twist Ending: Half of the shorts rely entirely on this trope. Some use it for drama, others for comedy.
  • Weird Historical War: This is done a few times with Alternate History episodes that are set during a real-life war.
  • What You Are in the Dark:
    • "Automated Customer Service": Jeannette not only has multiple opportunities to do so, but the automated customer service outright advice her to throw her little dog to the vaccum bot and save herself or at least buy her some time. She always decides against it, looking for alternatives.
    • "Bad Travelling": Torrin could easily carry out the demands of the thanapod and deliver it to Phaiden Island, where it and its brood would attack and massacre the unsuspecting islanders. Instead, he would rather trick the monster by going further on toward an uninhabited island and in the process fend off multiple attempts on his life (and ultimately killing the rest of his selfish crew), just to save the islanders. He ultimately sacrifices the ship he's on the kill the beast.
  • Working-Class Hero: A recurring theme of various shorts, including Suits, Sucker of Souls, Beyond the Aquila Rift, Good Hunting, The Dump and Helping Hand, but being probably most prominent in The Secret War. Volume 3 adds Bad Travelling, Kill Team Kill, Mason's Rats and even invokes it in In Vaulted Halls Entombed, as one of the soldiers points out he's a grunt, not an archaeologist.


Video Example(s):


Greta shows the truth

After Thom demands Greta to tell him everything, she obliges and shows him the reality of their situation.

How well does it match the trope?

4.8 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / CosmicHorrorReveal

Media sources: