Auto Doc

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"Who needs a real doctor when you got my machines and their scary needles?"

—"Doctor" Zed's Med Vendor, Borderlands

In The Future or sometime soon, you won't need a steady hand to heal people, some machine is already doing it for you. In a futuristic setting there will be machines that fix human bodies automatically. If a human doctor is participating in it at all, he will only press buttons and won't even touch a scalpel.

The appearance of these machines can range from complex apparatus to seemingly magic circles.

Not to be confused with the character from Cars.

Note: There is a difference between this and Save/Heal points in video games. Unless the healing effect is referred to In-universe, it's an Acceptable Break From Reality.

Examples of Auto Doc include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Dragonball Z, we have the healing tanks used by Freeza's forces.
  • In Gall Force, when Lufy is brought into the analysis station operated by Spea, they just move her into a chamber and press some buttons to restart her heart from a state of suspended animation. Spea mentions offhand that there are several injuries that may require organ replacement.
  • The Law of Ueki has Heavenly Beasts that release a healing machine which fully restores anyone inside it for exactly 10 minutes. However, if the healing process is interrupted in any way and the machine is damaged, the person inside it will die.

Film[edit | hide]

  • The movie Starship Troopers places an injured Rico in a nutrient tank with automated metal hands mending his thigh wound.
  • The Empire Strikes Back. The scene where Luke is in the bacta tank (transparent tube filled with liquid) being attended to by droids after being rescued from freezing to death. A droid injects something into the tube (presumably some kind of drug).
  • Idiocracy has semi-automatic medical stations. The probes have to be inserted by person. Brain Bleach happens when that person got confused on which probes should be used on which hole...
  • In The Fifth Element, the machine used to "repair" Leeloo. It actually reconstructs her from what is essentially a bone fragment containing living cells.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Larry Niven's Known Space has coffin-sized autodocs the person is simply placed inside that can pretty much fix anything. The only requirement for it to restore someone to perfect health(including resetting age) is that they be alive on entry - and even that has plenty of wiggle room. Beowulf Shaeffer survives being decapitated thanks to a good autodoc.
  • The Liaden Universe adopted the Niven model, although later books in the series imply that they are at least partially Lost Technology.
  • The Andromeda Strain has a fancy couch which performs all the blood tests and immunizations the staff of Project Wildfire require - all powered by the height of 60s computer technology.
  • Neal Asher's Polity Universe has autodocs, these devices range from breadbox sized to as tall as a man, and all unerringly designed to look quite disturbing when they are active; more often described as a cross between a chrome Samurai and a cockroach with far too many limbs. They literally slice you open and perform major surgeries - usually whilst the patient is conscious - and seemingly can repair most life-threatening injuries, as well as remove tumors, perform cosmetic repairs to facial injuries, weld bone and cellular material back together, and can even manufacture replacement parts if required.
  • The Star Wars expanded universe provides more models of medical droid and more details on their advantages and disadvantages: medical droids can have a near-limitless knowledge of sentient species to let them heal the massive variety of patients in the galaxy, and they often have a precision that only a machine could have during surgery. On the flip side, their bedside manner often left something to be desired and led to patients not trusting a droid to operate on them and very few droids (such as the 21B from The Empire Strikes Back) being intelligent enough to deal with unforeseen complications and side effects.
  • Homes in Robert Reed's Great Ship universe usually have an Autodoc. However, the autodocs serve mostly as a way to repair mutated genes - humanity's emergency genes can repair most blunt trauma if the body has enough spare mass (fat, muscle).
  • Andre Norton's novel The Time Traders. One of the devices on an alien ship is a cradle filled with a healing jelly. Spending time in the jelly quickly cures all wounds you've taken, including from frostbite, smoke inhalation, poisoning in general, or starvation. It makes another appearance in the sequel, Galactic Derelict. Even on a ship meant for a crew of only four, strap an injured man down on an ordinary sleeping bunk, and the jelly will pour onto him, presumably from out of the wall, and set to work healing him. Oddly, the aliens who built these benevolent systems are otherwise portrayed as ruthless and imperialistic.

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In the Doctor Who two-parter "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances", a nanotechnology designed to heal, creates some of the most potent scares in the new series up to that point.
    • Also, In "The Curse of the Black Spot", the Siren.
    • And in "The Girl Who Waited", the Handbots.
  • Goa'uld sarcophagi in the various Stargate series. These are so effective that they can bring people back to life, and if you're already in good health, they start making improvements! Unfortunately, they're also addictive and cause megalomania, to the point where the non-evil-overlord branch of the species avoids using them.
    • The Ancient technology its based on, which resembles a cube small enough to carry two-handed, heals anything near it when activated. Unfortunately non-Ancient corpses tend to come back as regenerative zombies.
  • Look Around You brings us Medibot, the first ever machine qualified to automatically perform surgeries. One of the hosts decides to test this new technology on himself by having it give him a facelift...the results of which, to put it mildly, suggests that Medibot is still not quite suited for life-saving surgeries.
  • The Alien Medpack from Perfect Dark is required to revive Elvis (a Grey) from his comatose state before you can escape Area51 with him. It takes about a minute to work on him.

Tabletop RPG[edit | hide]

  • Champions
    • Gadgets supplement.
      • The Autopepper was a device worn on the body. If the wearer fell unconscious, it would inject a stimulant that could bring the wearer back to consciousness and help the wearer recover lost STUN and BODY damage.
      • The Quikfix Autodoc Unit was installed in superhero headquarters and villain/agent bases. It automatically used the Healing power on any injured being placed inside it.
    • Several adventures had medical laboratories operated by the base AI as standard equipment in super headquarters/bases.
  • The Traveller supplement Merchants and Merchandise by Paranoia Press had the AutoDoc Independent Medical Treatment Center. It could perform first aid, minor operations and dental work, diagnose diseases, and inject drugs and antitoxins as needed.
    • In the Mongoose version Autodocs are one of the basic classes of robot and often installed on ships.
  • Buck Rogers In The XXVc (25th Century). One item of technology in the game is an Autosurgery that can perform any type of surgery needed.
  • The Morrow Project had Med Units, which are large enclosed beds with medical support equipment. They have a biocomputer which performs automatic diagnosis and treatment.
  • Shadowrun: Many medical devices are run either on automatic or by remote.
  • R. Talsorian Games' Cyberpunk supplement Home of the Free. The Automedic is put on top of a patient and immediately goes to work: diagnosing problems, stabilizing the patient, treating wounds, injecting drugs etc.
  • The Hollow Earth Expedition supplement Secrets of the Surface World had an Auto-Doctor as a possible Weird Science gadget.
  • Laserburn Sci-Fi Combat Rules (1980). When attached to a wounded person, the Automedic device will repair severed arteries, administer needed drugs and so on.
  • Genius: The Transgression allows characters to build these.
  • Mutant Future.
    • When placed over a wound and activated, Healing Packs send out a wave of healing radiation that closes wounds, mends broken bones, replaces lost tissue, etc.
    • Encasing Military Armors had the Battle Doc 6000 system, which acted like a Healing Pack on the Armor's wearer.
    • Regeneration Tanks were filled with a special regenerative chemical that healed damaged organs and wounds. There are rumors about a special kind of Regeneration Tank that can bring people back from the dead if used within 24 hours of death.
  • Paranoia has the DocBots, tireless medical personnel of the Alpha Complex intended to see to all the clones' problems. Predictably, they are about as reliable as most Alpha Complex robots at best and stark raving insane at worse.
  • "Healing Vats" are the oldest and most common forms of medical nanotechnology in Eclipse Phase. They can regenerate a lost limb in about twelve hours and restore a severed head's body in a week or two.
  • Gamescience's Space Patrol (1977) had the Medikit, which was strapped to its owner's wrist or waist and constantly monitored its wearer's well being. When something went wrong with their body, it would inject any needed drugs to remedy the situation.
  • Starblazer Adventures, based on the 1980's British science fiction Comic Book. A starship's Med-Bay system included a medical computer system capable of aiding in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries.
  • Terran Trade Authority RPG.
    • The Medsuit is a garment worn under other clothing. It has a VS (Vital Signs) pack that monitors its wearer's blood pressure, heart rate, brain activity and other medical information. If the VC pack detects medical problems in its wearer it can inject appropriate drugs as needed. If the wearer loses a limb or part of one (hand, foot) it will clamp down, preventing further blood loss.
    • The MekDoc is a robot designed to perform all kinds of medical procedures on a patient, up to and including surgery. It can diagnose problems, dose patients with drugs, change wound dressings etc.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Fallout, there are machines called Autodocs. For the most part, they seem to work pretty well, but A.I. Is a Crapshoot is still in full effect here.
    • In New Vegas, Caesar heads up the Legion, an explicitly technophobic group of tribes and gangs, not using anything more advanced than basic rifles, a motorized grinding wheel, and at least one chainsaw. If you actually get into Caesar's tent, he has an autodoc mounted to the foot of his bed.
    • In the Fallout: New Vegas DLC "Dead Money", you find Christine inside one.
      • To be fair, the one Christine was trapped in was modified to slit her vocal cords...
    • In New Vegas's Old World Blues DLC, the Courier gets an Auto Doc that has a personality and is the best physician in game, able to add implants, replace organs, give psychological evaluations (and by extension of that feature CURE NEARSIGHTEDNESS for Four Eye'd players), standard check ups and give haircuts. If he's left on, with a good Courier he finds a way to turn off the Y-17 Trauma Harnesses, freeing the corpses trapped inside several years after the game ends.
    • Fallout 3 has the My First Infirmary in your house, which could heal everything short of addiction. It also has a Mr. Handy and Mr. Gutsy standing in for autodocs. These are military robots forced into positions they are neither equipped or trained for. Andy treats a sprained toe by amputating the wrong leg, and Sawbones wants to inflict damage instead (though he at least can be modified to provide proper care).
  • BioShock (series) has automatic medical machines. They charge you cash, but will heal you completly, however enemies can also use them. You can also hack them so they'll give you a discount and kill any enemies who try to heal with it. Destroying them causes them to drop first aid kits.
  • Chrono Trigger has in its ruined future a booth that heals all your wounds... but still leaves you hungry. Chrono Cross references this briefly later on.
  • The Pokémon games do this with the Healing Machine in Pokemon Centers. There are even stand-alone consoles in Colosseum.
  • Deus Ex features healing robots that can heal the player fully without using resources and can preform surgery to install augmentations. Notably, Deus Ex is on a much lower tech level than most examples, taking place in 2052, with the only other technological advancement over the 2000s being limited human augmentation and attack robots.
  • System Shock 1 and 2 have automatic medical beds that heal you completely in an instant. They also have Quantum Bio-Reconstruction Machines that will reanimate "killed" characters, though these need to be reset so they won't turn them into more cyborgs instead.
  • Team Fortress 2 has the Engineer's Dispenser, which will heal nearby teammates and provide ammo for them.
  • Half Life and Half-Life 2 have both first aid stations, which heal you, and similar looking HEV stations, which recharge your HEV suit.
  • Dawn of War. Eldar Webway Gates can be upgraded to provide a healing aura.
  • In Mission Critical, there's one in the Lexington's medical bay. It becomes useful later.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay features NanoMED Plus stations which will inject a user with nanomachines to repair injuries nearly instantly.

"NanoMED Plus: We treat you right when the world treats you rough."

  • In the NES game Nightshade, there's a healing booth in the superhero Vortex's cave. Nightshade is allowed in only after gaining sufficiency notoriety with his heroics.
  • Xenosaga II: Jin Uzuki mentions that such machines have taken over most of the doctors' duty, with the doctors (he included) now essentially being counselors.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Schlock Mercenary had one that was souped up a bit and actually tried to improve its patients, sometimes successfully.
  • A Miracle of Science has this doc.
  • In Escape from Terra most households on Mars or Ceres supposedly have one that can repair a shot through the heart if gotten to soon enough. They're illegal on Terra though due to their ban on biotech and nanotech.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • An actual robotic surgeon already exists. The daVinci Robotic Surgeon is a scary looking machine, but it is capable of doing real surgery. It still operates via human control, but it has lots of automatic functions, and NASA is interested in creating an AI-equipped version for long range space missions, such as a mission to Mars where there wouldn't be a quick option for a return trip home for emergency surgery and it would be inefficient to send several specialists to handle every conceivable surgery.