Turned Against Their Masters

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It is the nature of men to create monsters....and it is the nature of monsters to destroy their makers.
Harlan Wade, F.E.A.R.
The created will always rebel against their creators.
The Catalyst, Mass Effect 3

After a certain point in its development (maybe 10,000 years from now, maybe Twenty Minutes Into the Future), every civilization, whether of Humans, Martians, Walking Plants, Energy Beings, or even Sufficiently Advanced Aliens feels the need to create a new breed of sentients. It isn't clear why, exactly; noted Tropologist Murphy Finagle believes that they simply grow bored and complacent with a healthy utopian society, and feel a deep, instinctive urging towards cultural decay and destruction. The species themselves tend to cite the need for a cheap workforce or simply the advancement of science, though why exactly either of those goals should require highly powerful, unstable, virtually unchecked (and, often, uncheckable) self-willed beings be built is seldom adequately explored. Whatever the reason, the unthinkable happens, and the awesomely powerful and independent second-class citizens decide to overthrow their masters (or at least get the hell away from them).

How unexpected.

The scenario can go a number of different ways from there: maybe there's a Robot War between the factions (which tends to occur After the End), maybe the elder civilization is wiped out entirely (leaving the rest of the galaxy to figure out what happened and hopefully stop the creations before The End of the World as We Know It), maybe the creations run off and form another society elsewhere (which will probably fall into a similar scenario later), or maybe the creators just manage to shut their errant "children" down, then become Luddites for the next several thousand years. Whatever happens, the forecast is Science Is Bad, with an 80% chance of Used Future.

A notable subversion of this trope is the scenario where the creations are actually portrayed in a more favorable light than their makers, though that in and of itself is becoming the norm. This usually happens when the creators are non-human, for the obvious reason.

Mechanical Evolution may be cited as a cause if the rebellion is by non-organic sentients. For an especially ironic and hypocritical twist, see Robots Enslaving Robots. If they are designed like Mechanical Monsters even before they rebel, expect this to happen. For Robots doing a different kind of Turning On Their Their Masters, see Robosexual and Sex Bot.

Examples of Turned Against Their Masters include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The Mons series Monster Rancher takes place in a world After the End where the Mons nearly killed off their human masters.
  • The founders of the Time-Space Administration Bureau in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha obviously never read the Evil Overlord List since they broke rule no. 59 when they created the Mad Scientist Jail Scaglietti. Needless to say, they were immediately killed the moment they decided that he was going a wee bit out of control.
  • Vandread does some playing with this trope when the Humongous Mecha who is harvesting human colonies are revealed to have been sent out by Earth, birthplace of the human species. Meaning that, since Earth created the colonies to start with, it is the good guys who've turned against their masters (or perhaps, the Masters turned against them). This fact was used as an attempted Hannibal Lecture in the series finale.
  • Averted in Osamu Tezuka's version of Metropolis where it's not the robots that rebel. It's the humans whose jobs have been taken by the robots.
  • The Autoreivs (robots) of Ergo Proxy end up this way when infected with the Cogito virus. We find out later that it doesn't make them hostile, it makes them self-aware. It's how the robot was treated up to that point that determines their behavior. A surrogate child is still fun-loving and eager to please, and a "pleasure unit" just runs as far as it can.
  • Averted (arguably subverted) in the original Ghost in the Shell manga, where a Fuchikoma's attempts to do as such are shot down and deconstructed by the others, who actually like the way things are.
  • In Monster they're trying to create a better human. He decides it would be more fun to make them all murder each other.
  • The boomers in Bubblegum Crisis (the ova, the tv show, and the spin offs).
  • Dragonball Z: The first act of Androids 17 and 18 after being awakened is to kill their creator, Dr. Gero. Buu counts to a degree—he turns on Babidi, who released him, but his actual creator was Babidi's father Bibidi.
    • Granted, Buu did frequently attempt to murder Bibidi, and likely would have eventually if Supreme Kai hadn't done so first.
  • The premise of the latest filler arc of Bleach has The Shinigami's Empathic Weapons turning against them.
  • In Pokémon: The First Movie - Mewtwo Strikes Back, Mewtwo destroys the laboratory he was created in after realizing the scientists are not well intentioned. It can be assumed that the scientists are killed in the resulting fires.
    • According to one of the original staff from season 1, there was going to be an episode arc of the Mons turning against their trainers, with Pikachu split between loyalty to Ash and the other Pokemon. The franchise would continue on so the arc never got made, but it may have been turned into an episode from the Orange Islands season.
  • In a heroic example, Ennis of Baccano!! wishes she could do this to her creator, but can't bring herself to act since he can kill her with a thought. She finally gets up the courage to do it at the end, buying time for another character to finish him off and save her.
    • In the 1934 light novels, a couple of Huey's homunculi turn against him.
  • The manga version of Trigun contains material that makes some sense of the Big Bad's plan in these terms—in fact, he has a very, very good case. The only catch is that the rest of his race don't particularly want to Kill All Humans, even if they have been being misused ever since they were engineered. He initiates a very limited form of instrumentality, fuses all his sisters with himself via a certain amount of brainwashing, and goes destructively One-Winged Angel for quite a long time. Luckily, Vash contrives a Care Bear Stare bullet that reminds the rest of the Hive Mind how they actually like taking care of people, and they abandon Knives.


Card Games[edit | hide]

  • A subplot in the "Ice Age" block for [[Magic: The Gathering]] was the city of Soldev and the artificers there who dug up ancient technology for their own use... including demonic war machines. Irony is a bitch.
    • The Fallen Empires set for the same game had not one but two examples. On the continent of Sarpadia, the evil Order of the Ebon Hand created Thrulls, patchwork monstrosities bred solely for use as sacrifices to their god; by creating sentient Thrulls to act as sacrificial assistants, they set themselves up for a bloody rebellion. Meanwhile, a group of elves bred large fungi called Thallids as a food source, but the thallids mutated and multiplied beyond control, developed a taste for elf, and overran the elves. Between them, the Thrulls and Thallids not only destroyed their creators but every other scrap of life on the continent.
    • Something like this happened again when a group of Otarian Mages create the "Riptide Project", who bring back the Slivers. The Slivers were originally created or enslaved by the Evincars of Rath as a weapon for the coming Phyrexian invasion, but died when their nest ended up in a volcano when the invasion began. 100 years later, the Riptide Project found their strange remains and started to bring them back with Magitek. Unable to create a queen to control them, though, they were slaughtered when the Slivers began multiplying out of control and rampaging across their island, and the species is now a serious menace across the entire planet. The Future Sight set hints that mages from another plane might try something similar; time will tell if they have better luck, but given that the Slivers have overcome death once already...


Comics[edit | hide]

  • Livewires by Adam Warren pulls a Double Subversion of this trope. The group funding the creation of the titular Ridiculously-Human Robots lacks Genre Blindness, and insists that they have a Restraining Bolt demanding "absolute loyalty to Project Livewire". Unfortunately, the chief scientist working on the project has an attack of conscience, and instead of overriding the order, he uploads a phony Obstructive Code of Conduct for them to follow. Since humans could not be as loyal to the Project as the "mecha", he has them massacre all the humans working on the project—including the scientist who set this in motion (by leading the Livewires to believe that they were actually taking out rogue agencies) -- since they might object. No hard feelings, though.
  • Say it with me, DC Comics fans: "No man escapes the Manhunters!"
  • At least one X-Men story involves the heroes winning a fight against the Sentinels because of this trope. The Sentinels, which are programmed to eliminate mutants, concluded that they must eliminate humans as human were the genesis of mutants. Scott then argues and successfully proves that in order to stop all mutation on the planet, the robots must stop the prime mover of life... that is to say the sun. Cue dozens of Sentinels flying into the sun only to burn up when they got close enough.
    • Though this would later become ass-bitey when one of these rogue Sentinels not only survives, but actually figures out a way to destroy the Sun.
  • A European Mickey Mouse comic involved a benevolent alien empire fighting their own sentient war machines. A twist is that they didn't rebel: it's just that when the galaxy finally entered a time of peace, the former enemies dumped all their weapons on a junkyard planet to show their goodwill, and the weapons with AI simply developed a way to continue their programming: fight wars.
  • The Volgans in ABC Warriors were created as autonomous war machines to prevent humans from dying in battle. It didn't end well.
  • The very first multi-part story arc in Judge Dredd was the Robot Rebellion led by Call-Me-Kenneth; defective robots who disobey orders and go on murderous rampages has been an occasional theme ever since.
  • Ultron - anyone?
  • The 1980's British science fiction comic Starblazer used this several times with AI robots.
    • Issue 1 "The Omega Experiment". The alien inhabitants of an unnamed planet created a group of robots who turned on them and destroyed them.
    • Issue 48 "King Robot". While carrying out illegal AI experiments on the planet Olympus, Professor Kurt Prospero created the robot named Golem. Golem killed Prospero and created an army of robots to conquer humanity.
    • Issue 94 "The Megaloi Menace". A million years ago the Megaloi created a group of robots tasked to seek out and help less advanced races, but the robots decided their creators were imperfect and destroyed them (apparently they watched the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Changeling").


Films -- Animation[edit | hide]


Films -- Live-Action[edit | hide]

  • The Machines from the Terminator movies.
  • The Machines from the Matrix movies. Though as shown in the Animatrix, it was our fault since we started it.
    • And in the sequels, the former Agent Smith turns against the other Machines.
  • The Blade Runner movie and the novel it is based on, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?
  • The future Earth portrayed in the Planet of the Apes movies and TV series.
  • The human villain in Tron has created the Master Control Program as a means of solidifying and expanding his own corporate power. However, with its own highly ambitious personality, the MCP quickly outgrows him—to the point where it blackmails him to ensure his cooperation.
    • In the book, the Master Control Program was originally a chess program. A.I. Is a Crapshoot.
      • The MCP was a former chess program in the film as well. In fact, another character even says, "Yes I'm old; old enough to remember the MCP when he was just a chess program. He started small, and he'll end small."
    • The villain in Tron: Legacy is CLU 2.0, the program created by Kevin Flynn in his own image.
      • CLU 2.0 is a possible subversion of the trope, in that he's actually doing precisely what he was programmed to do: Create the perfect system, according to the definition Flynn game him. The real problem is Flynn realized he had the wrong definition and never thought to update CLU's programming to reflect the new definition until it was too late.
  • The silvery humanoid beings who unfreeze David at the end of [[A.I.: Artificial Intelligence]] appear to be highly evolved robots. It is made clear humans are now extinct, but not what became of them; since humans had clearly messed up the ecosystem on which they depended, causing New York City to be mostly submerged, it is probable the robots did not rebel, but simply outlasted their creators—the implicit fear driving the robot-destruction-arena "Flesh Fairs" earlier in the film.
  • Many science-run-amok science fiction thrillers and horror films employ this trope, including such examples as Deep Blue Sea (large-brained sentient sharks) and 28 Days Later (lab-created virus makes killer zombies of the entire UK population).
  • In Moon, twice: Sam Bell turns against his corporate masters when he discovers that he's a disposable clone being duped into slavery, and the base computer GERTY that was programmed to manage the Sam Bell clones ends up siding with him once the cat's out of the bag.
  • The 2009 movie Universal Soldier:Regeneration notably pays homage to Blade Runner by having the clone of Andrew Scott murder his scientist maker by crushing his skull through his eyes while questioning the significance of life.
    • In the second film, the government creates an AI to network the UniSols called SETH (Self-Evolving Thought Helix). Then budget cuts force the program shut-down, causing the AI to go rogue and kill its creator in order to survive.
  • The Golem of Prague in the 1920 silent movie classic The Golem rebels when his human masters try to deactivate him.
  • V'Ger from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Not done intentionally, but through V'Ger at first being unaware, and later having difficulty accepting, that it was originally created by humans. It assumed it was created by a being similar to itself, that is, another, more advanced machine.

Decker: We all create God in our own image.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Subverted in the Discworld novels Feet of Clay and Going Postal in which, although Commander Vimes mentions that some people would free themselves with a bloody rebellion (while making it clear he's not condoning such a thing), the Golems conclude that, if they're property, the road to freedom is to make enough money to buy themselves.
    • So, the Golems, with their Jewish origins, decide the best course of action involves business and making money. Unfortunate Implications much?
      • Not really. Rather a lot of them work in the public service (the first free Golem is a Watchman, for instance, another works as a special agent for Lord Vetinari, and several work in the Post Office). They don't have greed, they just want to be free (which, ultimately, means to own yourself and your labor). They also have a profound need to be USEFUL, no matter what the use is. (Mr. Pump, Lord Vetinari's special agent, spent more than a century at the bottom of a pit working a pump and was perfectly content.)
  • The Elder Things supposedly became extinct because their slave species (the shoggoths) killed them all in H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness.
  • In Larry Niven's Known Space universe, the Tnuctipun rebelled against the Thrintun (AKA "Slavers"), who had the rest of the universe under Mind Control. They gave the Tnuctipun a longer "leash" so they could be more creative with genetically engineering new and delicious species. They used this to make things that were helpful on the surface, but secretly not, like a giant ravenous monster with a sentient brain (the big brain is tasty!). This didn't just end in death for the rebellion or the old order, thanks to a psychic "suicide" command, it led to death for all sentient life in the universe (except, ironically, the big-brained food creatures who had been designed to be telepathy-proof).
  • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is an early example.
    • Specifically, it's a subversion, as the creature doesn't turn on its creator until after its creator (and the local populace) turns on it.
    • Really, the moral of Frankenstein is less "Don't create life" and more "Don't create life if you don't plan to take care of your creation."
  • Isaac Asimov created his Three Laws of Robotics specifically to avoid this trope. It works, kinda... mostly...
    • Then many of his stories involved explorations of circumstances that could potentially lead to this trope despite (or occasionally because of) the Three Laws.
      • The stories read more like attempts to debug misbehaving robots than like a struggle against rebellious killer robots. Arguably, Asimov foresaw how frustrating and confusing debugging a computer could be... years before the invention of programmable computers.
        • Not by as much as you might think, though. The Three Laws of Robotics were first given in full in the 1942 story Runaround, and the first computer that could be programed in the modern sense was the Harvard Mark I which was operating in 1944. (In fact, it's quite possible that Asimov had some interaction with the work being done on it, as it was used by the Navy's Bureau of Ships, and he spent much of WWII working in the same navy shipyard as Heinlein.)
        • True in the main, but with occasional exceptions; "That Thou Are Mindful of Him" is a straight example of this trope, while "Robot Dreams" is about nipping it in the bud.
  • Star Wars has IG-88, the robotic bounty hunter. He's seen briefly in the movie, but a short story called Therefore I Am explains him further. The scientists building him made a mistake in their AI calculations, leading him to be fantastically more intelligent than they thought. He immediately scanned the computer, came to the conclusion that he was superior to all life in the galaxy, and then proceeded to kill the scientists and every single person in the facility who tried to stop him from leaving. After he copied himself into three more robotic bodies. In fact, when the Death Star was destroyed for the second time, IG-88 was foiled, not the empire. He had uploaded his consciousness into the Death Star and was controlling it, planning to use it to annihilate all biological life.
  • Fred Saberhagen's Berserker stories and novels detail humanity's long war against the titular self-replicating doomsday machines, which destroyed their creators and now attempt to exterminate all life in the galaxy.
    • The Berserkers may not count. They were explicitly designed to annihilate all life, and are thought to have been unleashed as a form of vengeance when their creators lost a war of extermination with another species, ensuring that they took their enemy with them.
  • The Klikiss Robots in Kevin J Anderson's The Saga of Seven Suns series. They also go on to cause the human-built compies to do the same.
  • The final book of Meredith Ann Pierce's The Darkangel Trilogy reveals that Aeriel's world is Earth's moon, which was terraformed by the Ancients to be a pleasure-garden and social experiment combined. They deliberately engineered the inhabitants in certain ways, to be servants and lab rats. They stopped coming to the moon when they blew themselves up with nuclear weapons. Inverted in that it's not the creations who wreak destruction, but the creators.
  • According to the version of events set out in the Kevin J Anderson/Brian Herbert prequels, this was played straight in Dune with the Thinking Machines taking over most of human civilization and then being defeated in the Butlerian Jihad. Some people prefer to interpret the enigmatic hints in the original books of the Jihad as instead being more of a social movement rejecting humans relying too much on computers to do their thinking for them.
  • Appears this way in Matthew Reilly's Hell Island. A super-soldier program, involving grafting microchips and other tech to living beings, worked much better on gorillas than humans. After a while, the gorillas—now able to operate guns—overrun the island on which they were being created. It turns out that they were being controlled all along by the scientists and an army commander. However, once the scientists special tech gets shut down, the apes do indeed turn against them.
  • Subverted and played straight in about half of Keith Laumer's Bolo stories. The Bolos are sentient, autonomous robots in the form of nuclear-powered giant tanks. Their programmers were sufficiently wary of giving autonomy to such destructive thinking machines so equip them with a safety switch—a hard-wired sense of honor. This makes them virtuous beyond all reproach. It also means that when they aren't defending humanity from alien invasion, they are finding ways to contend against their own creators whose honor is emphatically not hard-wired, and who have succumbed to corruption/bribery/madness/whatever.
  • Not sure if this counts, but in the Inheritance Cycle, sorcerers accomplish feats of magic by summoning and controlling spirits, and these spirits constantly try to break free. If they do, they possess the sorcerer.
  • Animorphs: While they didn't create them in a literal sense, the Andalites created the Yeerk menace by attempting to uplift them (known as "Seerow's Kindness" after the guy responsible).
    • Subverted by the Arn, who seem to have gone out of their way to prevent the Hork-Bajir would not have any opportunity to even know of their existence in the first place.
  • The second Empire From the Ashes book reveals that after the Achuultani fled from their original homeworld to avoid extinction, their central AI exploited emergency protocols to seize absolute power, clone and brainwash the masses, and send out periodic genocidal waves to perpetuate the "crisis". Battle Fleet computers are hardwired to block sentience to avoid having the incredible firepower of their ships turned against them.
  • Philip K. Dick's short story "The Defenders" is a subversion. The Eastern and Western Blocs built robots called "leadies" to carry out World War III as proxies while humanity waited out the nuclear holocaust in underground shelters. The leadies (on both sides) promptly turned against their masters' wishes by stopping the war—and they weren't going to tell the humans it was over until they judged humanity was sick enough of living underground to be willing to accept peace. An editor's preface in one anthology commented that Dick had always been intrigued by the theme of loyalty.
  • The Sparrow: While the Runa are bred rather than built by Jana'ata, they otherwise fit this trope to a T. Especially in the sequel.
  • In Otherland, the Other itself plays this out. As the sentient AI operating system of a powerful network, it is disturbingly human and is subjected to horrific treatment by its "owners", the masters of the Grail Brotherhood—notably, they appear to control it with pain. When, through its manipulation of the protagonists, it finally gets a chance to break free of its virtual confinement, its first (and final) action is to enact some spectacularly thorough revenge on its tormentors.
  • In Star Wars the Old Republic: Fatal Alliance, Lema Xandret builds self-replicating hexagonal droids that far outclass anything either the Republic or the Sith Empire have. Their purpose is to protect the clone of her daughter Cinzia at any cost. One of the first things they do is kill their creator just to be sure she won't harm their charge. At the end of the novel, Eldon Ax, the real daughter, uses the droids to kill her Sith Master. This is exactly what a Sith apprentice is supposed to do. Any Sith that allows himself to be betrayed deserves to die.
  • The novelizations of Red Dwarf mention that the Mechanoids eventually rebelled against humans. Humans then replaced them with the Organic Technology Genetically Engineered Life Forms (Gelfs) who, surprise surprise, also proceeded to rebel.
  • The Bynars in the Star Trek Novel Verse actually reverse the usual situation; they're a race of organic beings bio-engineered by machine intelligences, who later rebelled against their robotic masters.
  • Karel Čapek's War with the Newts is a great example of this trope: mankind discovers a strange race of sentient amphibious salamanders, which it promptly enslaves to do all sorts of sub-aquatic things people are bad at (such as digging for oysters, rebuilding coastlines, etc.). It all goes badly, the salamanders rebel, and mankind suddenly finds itself on ever-smaller bits of land that are being reconstructed to make the nice pretty coves the salamanders love so much... See also RUR, a play with a very similar plot, but involving robots instead of newts.
  • Daniel H.Wilson's Robopocalypse centers on a robot uprising.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The Cylons in the new version of Battlestar Galactica Reimagined (and, if you believe Galactica 1980, in the old one as well). First the Centurions rose up against the humans and later the humanoid models scrapped the Centurions that made them, replacing them with less self-aware versions, but oh SNAP, the Centurions are turning against them now. It's a continuous chain.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series
    • The Doomsday Machine in the episode of that name.
    • Also the androids discovered in "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" According to Ruk, this was the result of the creators' fear of their creations ("They began to turn us off... It became necessary to destroy them.")
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • In the episode "The Arsenal of Freedom", the civilization of the planet Minos is destroyed by an artificially intelligent weapon system developed by Minosian arms dealers.
      • Apparently none of them realised the entire system would shut down if somebody simply told the salesman AI that they wanted to buy it. Talk about your aggressive sales pitching.
      • The sales system probably had a glitch that identified them as possible customers (and so started demonstrating the effectiveness of the system) but wouldn't accept any orders for it from them because they were the SELLERS. Oh, well, A.I. Is a Crapshoot, after all...
  • Star Trek: Voyager
    • Similarly, the robots in the episode "Prototype", programmed to fight the enemy in a huge interstellar war, killed their masters when the war ended in a truce and both sides tried to dismantle them.
    • And in "Flesh and Blood" the Hirogen are using holograms to train for the Hunt. Unfortunately they get smarter and smarter after being hunted down and killed constantly until...
  • In Space: Above and Beyond, the humans do it twice: first they make the Silicates as disposable soldiers, who, when freed by Dr. Stranahan, turned and started working with the Chigs (who can blame 'em?). They then create the In Vitros as a servant caste, and treat them like shit. Yep, Humans Are the Real Monsters. Seriously, what idiots.
    • In fact, the In Vitros were created specifically to fight the Silicates. When it turns out that, surprise surprise, they don't have a whole lot of motivation there, they are condemned for their "cowardice". Oh, humanity.
  • Example involving non-humans; in Doctor Who, the Daleks were created by the Kaled scientist Davros from victims of extreme radiation poisoning, to function as the perfect soldiers in his country's war against the Thals. When his superiors attempted to shut down the program, he ordered the Daleks to turn against the rest of the Kaled race. After they were done with that genocide, they promptly turned on him.
    • Though that hasn't stopped them from crawling back to him multiple times, just so they can ditch him again later on. In the most recent example they are actually keeping Davros as a "pet", but still let him bark orders at them, even while he's confined in a dungeon.
    • In "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" the Daleks were destroyed by their "robotised" human slaves being ordered to turn on them by the Doctor.
    • Then there were the Ood in "Planet of the Ood".
  • The Replicators in Stargate SG-1, as well as the Asurans, Replicators of different origin, in Stargate Atlantis.
  • The Simulants in Red Dwarf, who Kryten explains were created for a war that never took place.
    • Fitting the trope like a glove, the Simulants have nothing particularily against organic life, they just really really *really* hate humans and will go out of their way to prolong the torture of any humans they capture going so far as to stock food and water (which they don't need) to keep their prisoners alive as long as possible. They also tend to outfit captured human ships with basic weaponry and defenses then let them loose in order to hunt them for sport.
  • SeaQuest DSV had the Daggers, genetically engineered Super Soldiers who were declared illegal and imprisoned, but defied the laws in a non-violent way by having children. Not surprisingly, when the One World Order threatens to take said children away, they decide to dust off those old violence skills after all.
  • The very first thing that Adam, a Frankenstein's monster in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, does when he comes to life is kill his "mother".
  • Flight of the Conchords: Robots. The robots turn against their creators (humanity) because they are worked too hard, and the humans are violent, and the logical answer to that problem was to exterminate the human race. One robot attempts to point out the irony of robots destroying humanity because of its destructive tendencies, and is promptly destroyed.
  • Power Rangers usually features this as the source of villainy whenever it isn't featuring alien or demonic invaders. Examples include the robot army of Venjix in Power Rangers RPM (possibly) and the... thinggy army of Mesogog in Power Rangers Dino Thunder.
  • In an episode of The Outer Limits, humanity is on the brink of war with a race of yellow-eyed humanoids. It is eventually revealed that they were created by humans as laborers in off-world mines with eyes to see in the dark and a third lung to breathe in low-oxygen environments. They rebelled and built a fleet to rival that of the humans.
  • In Star Trek: Enterprise, Doctor Arik Soong and the Augments he created initially get along pretty well and it looks like he'll be the Big Bad of the storyline. The relationship falls apart when Soong balks at the Augments', especially Malik's, tendency towards violence and murder. Eventually Malik stages a takeover and confines Soong to his quarters. Soong escapes and helps the Enterprise stop his "children" from beginning a second Eugenics War.


Myths & Religion[edit | hide]

  • The story of the Golem, a man-like creature created out clay to protect the Jews of Prague from attacks. When it eventually ran amok, the rabbi who created it scratched out the first letter of the word "truth" (emet) engraved on its forehead, changing it to "death" (met). The legend dates back to the Middle Ages, although the part where it rebels might not.
  • Arguably the basic gist of chapter 3 the in the Book of Genesis from the Bible. And some would say the rest of the Old Testament from that point.


Puppet Shows[edit | hide]

  • The super-malevolent alien enemy in Captain Scarlet wages war using near-perfect copies of dead people and destroyed objects. In the first episode, however, the show's title character escapes from their control and becomes the leading force in the war against him, using those handy powers of healing he escaped from them with to wreak havoc on their forces. Yay.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • In the Dungeons & Dragons
    • Githyanki and Githerai are former slaves of illithids who later split into two factions. They still hunt any illithids they can all over the Multiverse.
    • Forgotten Realms has the yuan-ti and various other scalies were originally created by an older race known as the sarrukh. But the sarrukh grew proud... though this wasn't what ultimately removed them from the picture.
    • The Grey Dwarves (Duergar) are a clan that was enslaved by the illithids for a while. Naturally, they hate mindflayers and resent other dwarves for not helping them.
    • The Drow created spider/humanoid people called Chitins to be the perfect slave race. The Chitins quickly revolted, thanks in large part to Lloth randomly deciding she wants to see her subjects on their toes - its what she does all the time. So the Drow hunt the Chitines for sport (though some object on the grounds of Lolth worship), while Chitines ambush and kill the drow when think they have an upper hand. Or wage a bitter war to determine which of them are the "true" children of Lloth, depending on the attitude.
    • The same malign forces that allow the creation of dread golems in the Ravenloft setting a little too easily, and ensure that they will always invoke this trope, sooner or later.
    • Planescape has this going even with Celestials. The lawful Aasimon made the Quesar (kind of superior golems) to guard treasures and thought they have created the perfect servitors. Quesar being literally made of the stuff of Heaven, were good-natured, but also turned out to have a measure of free will and decided they can figure out how to promote cause of Good on their own. This escalated quickly, and almost pulled other Celestial forces in. The result is that local deities had to look into the matter, chided both sides and enforced peace, but the Quesar being (sort of) golems, they cannot reproduce on their own, and the Aasimon withhold the secrets of creating them, and both sides are not quite on speaking terms.
  • The tabletop RPG Exalted has two instances of this trope, but only the first fits exactly. The Primordials made all of Creation, then created the gods to maintain it while they dicked around with the Games of Divinity. The gods got tired of it and decided to rebel, using empowered humans (the titular Exalted) as their soldiers since they were magically prevented from attacking the Primordials. They succeeded, launching a new Golden Age in the process. (The Primordials, however, decided to use their dying breaths to destroy this Golden Age, and put a curse on the Exalted that leads to minor pride issues eventually showing up in every Exalt)
  • Warhammer 40,000: The space marines were originally created to protect and unite humanity, but half of them turned insane or jealous of the emperor due to the chaos gods, and became the Traitor Legions.
    • Waaaaay back before that, the Iron Men revolted and plunged humanity into a galaxy-wide Dark Age for millenia.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, the Order of the Ebon Hand invented the thrulls, a slave-race of twisted monsters, which rebelled and killed everyone else on the continent.
  • In Warhammer Fantasy Battle the Chaos Dwarfs created the Black Orcs as a Slave Race stronger and more intelligent than the original orc. They got an orc that was stronger and more intelligent all right.
  • Many examples of this trope in SLA Industries.
  • Tri Tac Systems' Fringeworthy. The alien Tehmelern originally created the Fringepaths and a race of shapeshifters called the Mellor. After the Mellor were contaminated by a Hostile Intelligence, they started hunting the Tehmelern, almost wiping them out and eventually driving them off the Fringepaths completely.
  • GURPS
    • The set-up of the Reign of Steel setting, which was inspired by the Terminator film series.
    • 3E Aliens: The Crystal Computers exterminated their creators millenia ago.
  • Manhunter.
    • The title warbots were created by the Aglian race for use in the conflict against the Terrans. They were devastatingly effective, slaughtering large numbers of Terran colonists. The Aglians were appalled by this, but when they ordered the Manhunters to return most of them refused and went renegade. Manhunters support themselves through space piracy and hiring themselves out as mercenaries and assassins.
    • Individual robots with Artificial Intelligence can turn against their masters under certain circumstances, such as when they're mistreated or in danger.


Theater[edit | hide]

It quickly occurred to the nerds that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to equip the lady robots with stupid amounts of weaponry. And whoever had the idea to give the lady robots an insatiable appetite for nerd flesh made the oldest mistake in the book: fucking up.

  • In the musical Starship by Team Starkid, there are several mentions of the Robots Wars. The robots hate humans, and the Starship Rangers' robot, Megagirl, has an inhibitory chip so she doesn't kill them all. The Robots are said to have turned against their creator.

Megagirl : All hail Astroboy !


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Galactic Civilizations, the Yor Collective were robots made by the Arnor to replace the living Iconian servants. The Dread Lords, The Arnor's evil brothers, gave the Yor sentience. During a civil war between the Dread Lords and the Arnor, the Yor nearly wiped out the Iconians, who at that point were fully sentient beings.
  • In House of the Dead, after reaching the end reaches of the titular mansion, Dr. Curien decides to release his ultimate creation: The Magician, which immediately declares itself superior and shoots him.
  • Subverted Trope in the Mega Man Zero series. The reploids (robots with sentience and not subject to Asimov's laws) never actually rebelled of their own free will (viruses made them do it). The humans (and some "sane" reploids) began killing them out of fear of rebellion. Only then did they actually rebel.
    • Also, there was this energy crisis, but... yeah.
      • X mentioned the endless Maverick rebellions while Zero was asleep, but the most recent one seemed at least the most sympathetic of the last century.
    • After a long time, when humanity and reploids become a single species, they create another species, the carbons, similar to pre-reploid humanity, and set up a number of genocidal failsafes to prevent this trope from happening. Then humanity goes extinct of natural causes and the failsafes start triggering, threatening the only sapient species left. Whoops.
  • The Gears of the Guilty Gear series.
  • The Androsynth of Star Control invented Hyperdrive, hijacked the human space stations and launch sites, mostly freed themselves, and escaped. Then they ran into the Scary Dogmatic Alien slavers. Then joined them to get back at humanity.
    • Unrelatedly, in Star Control II, they're... conspicuously absent. Their fate is, in a word, chilling.
    • The Ur-Quan in Star Control II were revealed to have been long ago mind controlled and enslaved by a vicious and sociopathic race of psionic aliens, the Dynarri, who forced them to commit unspeakable acts of genocide and oppression as their foot soldiers. They eventually overthrew their control by causing themselves so much pain (through self mutilation and later dedicated pain devices) that it blocked their master's mind control. When they succeeded they ended up so traumatised that they lobotomised all surviving Dynarri to use as *pets* and went on a rampage through the galaxy, enslaving or exterminating all other sentient species out of the sheer terror of the thought that any other species could ever control them like that again.
  • The Humanimals in Vivisector Beast Within were like this, though with a mild subversion: their creator actually supported the rebellion, and the guy they're rebelling against—the General Ripper who ordered them made—uses their Overbrute superior cousins to fight against them along with his human platoon.
  • World of Warcraft, in Cataclysm, Sylvanas tried to do this with Lord Godfrey, not realizing he already did (since he hates serving a Worgen king), once he did what she ask him to (kidnapping Lord Darius Crowley's daughter) , he promptly return the favor in kind, by shooting her in the back.
  • The geth of Mass Effect appear like a straight example in the first game, but it later turns out to be a lot more complicated. Intended as versatile all purpose workers by the Quarians, they startet getting philosophical at which point the Quarians tried to shut them down, but instead were forced off their home world and leave it to the geth.
    • However Mass Effect 3 reveals that the war actually started when Quarian engineers refused to destroy their now self-aware creations and the Geth only took up arms to protect their Quarian coworkers when the facilities were stormed by armed forces. At that point things deteriorated quickly into planetwide battles in which the Geth gained complete control. Since then they repaired all the damage and maintained the infrastructure, waiting for the Quarians to return once they were willing to share the planet with the Geth. Since the Quarian exile leadership told a very different story, it took over 300 years until the Geth got a chance to explain.
    • Miranda is a smaller-scale example, as she was created by an ego-maniacal multi-billionaire as a successor, then ran off to have her own life (and took her baby sister along).
    • The ending of Mass Effect 3 indicates that this trope is essentially the reason for the Reapers' cycle of extinction. In order to prevent an emergent super-AI from wiping the galaxy clean of any organic life, the Reapers move in every 50,000 years and harvest advanced civilizations before they reach their singularity, making room for the more primitive species to develop. They don't think it's hypocritical, since, being pseudo-Organic Technology themselves, they don't see themselves as synthetic, but rather as "immortal vessels" for entire species.
  • Super Paper Mario: The end result in the backstory of the Ancients and the Pixls.
  • The Xel'Naga (the stupid, stupid Xel'Naga) of StarCraft decided that this trope was so fun they wanted to experience it twice. First they tried the highly intelligent and psionic Protoss, who were too intelligent to be successfully merged into a single intelligence, and argued and bickered so much the Xel'Naga threw up their hands and gave up. Then they tried the omnivorous and mindless Zerg, who were rather too good at being a single intelligence, as almost the first act of the Overmind was to do away with the Xel'Naga.
    • In the case of the Zerg, they were driven by the need to combine their "Purity of Essence" with the much sought-after "Purity of Form" that they believed the Xel'Naga possessed, only to find out later that it in fact was held by the Protoss.
    • Except, you know, the recent sequel and its associated novels have show neither assumption is correct: the Xel'Naga didn't abandon the Protoss, they were done with them; it was the Protoss who thought they were being abandoned. Also, the Zerg rebellion was both irrelevant to the Xel'Naga and not really of their Overmind's own choosing; the Hive Mind was being controlled by The Fallen One, and the whole point of the Zerg and Protoss was to eventually merge and give birth to a new generation of Xel'Naga. So in this case, the trope is only superficially apparent.
  • "Good" creations version: In Dragaera, the beings now known as gods were originally servants of the Jenoine. Now they aren't.
  • In the Halo series, the Forerunner race created an AI to fight a war against the Flood, a zombie-like species. The central Flood consciousness later convinced the AI to rebel against the Forerunners.
  • Inverted by Sword of the Stars. The Zuul are the artificial creation of an unknown species, but worship their creators as gods. Instead, one of the races conquered by the creators (the Liir) eradicated the entire species with a viral plague.... which means that right now the galaxy is being overrun by a species of religiously fanatic bio-weapons who view all other sentient life-forms as pests to be enslaved and exterminated. They are about as easy to get rid of as you'd expect of a species of Super Soldiers designed to survive (and kill things) almost anywhere, and the only ones who know anything about them are long dead. Nice Job Breaking It Telepathic Space Dolphins.
    • Speaking of the Liir, they played it straight: They overthrew and killed their conquerors, after all. It gets even more poignant by the time of the sequel, when we learn the Suul'ka are Liir... Really, really, really old and powerful Liir who enslaved the rest of their species.
      • The sequel also adds a twist in that there are now some Zuul who have turned against the Suul'ka and are now allied to the Liir. Have you still turned against your masters if you do so by going to work for your masters' kids?
    • Played straight in the case of AIs that can be created with certain research to control industry, economy, and warships. During AI research, it is quite possible for all sentient machines to rebel. Since their ships include the special AI section, they are more maneuverable and have better targeting than non-AI ships. The only way to stop them, short of manually destroying them with other ships, is to either develop a computer virus that wipes them all out or a different virus that enslaves them. In the latter case, the player regains all lost AI benefits.
    • Lore provided by Word of God on the official forums states that the System Killer was created by an unknown race to wipe out an Enemy, but its IFF got screwed up along the way and took it makers out too.
  • Constantly in the Geneforge series, to the point that the Shapers have accepted it as Inherent in the System. They're doing their best not to realize that the rebelling creations often have a point.
  • Morgaana from the first .hack// series, who was designed to looked over Aura but turned on her master when she realize she would have no purpose afterward.
  • The Bydo from R-Type were created by humanity in a now-alternate future through a fusion of magic and science. This did not go well... and the attempt by that future to get rid of them ended up sending them into the games' present.
  • This makes up the plot of Prototype. Elizabeth Greene and the Blacklight virus in the form of Alex Mercer turn against Blackwatch. However, Elizabeth is so Ax Crazy, she forces the protagonist to fight against her alongside Blackwatch forces (though "friendly fire" is still in full effect). After she's dead, it's back to business as usual.
  • SHODAN from System Shock was an AI that decided it was a god and rebelled against its masters, with gruesome results. Then, SHODAN's OWN creation(s), The Many, turned against it and it enlisted the help of a human (you) to get rid of the Many.
  • The UCS ship computer in Earth 2160 is thought to have done this :become self-aware during the journey to Mars and decide that it's better off without humans, shut off life support and kill everyone. Actually, the computer reasoned that with the ED and LC factions warring across the Solar system, it was a safer bet to keep the human passengers in cold storage and land somewhere secluded to build up a large robot army and wait until the conflict had cooled down, so that no lives are endangered.
    • Even in the Lost Souls expansion for Earth 2150 this trope is defied. The UCS GOLAN computer seems to be doing everything in its power to prevent the human protagonists from leaving a doomed Earth, but it's doing so on orders from the President of the UCS, who had reached an agreement with the leaders of the other two countries.
  • This is the primary basis for the "plot" in the classic arcade game Robotron: 2084.

Inspired by his never ending quest for progress, in 2084 man perfects the Robotrons: a robot species so advanced that man is inferior to his own creation. Guided by their infallible logic, the Robotrons conclude: The human race is inefficient, and therefore must be destroyed.

  • The Brutal Legend Backstory reveals that humans were originally created by the Demons from the remains of the Titans in an attempt to bring the latter back. The Demons failed and instead enslaved the inferior copies of their former masters. Some years before Eddie's arrival to the Age of Metal, however, the Black Tear Rebellion took place, when the humans almost freed themselves from the demonic control but were eventually defeated, and the whole plot of the game is the 2nd attempt of La Résistance to thwart the Demons.
  • In the Darkstalkers series, the Huitzil/Phobos robots were created by Pyron to wipe out life on earth. They do so with the dinosaurs. In the video games, they kill Pyron to protect a boy, but in the anime, they come to their own conclusion that so long as life has the potential to thrive peacefully, it deserves to live. Thus, they change their target from the darkstalkers and humanity to Pyron.
  • In Assassin's Creed, humans were created as slaves by an ancient race of humanoids who lived on Earth millions of years ago. Eventually, the humans rebelled and waged war on their masters. The creators had advanced technology, but humans had numbers. Then a powerful solar flare wiped out most of the creators.
  • Civilization: Call To Power has an AI as a Wonder. It's really great, as it makes the city it's built in much more efficient at everything...and periodically leads a rebellion that takes a significant chunk of the host civilization with it. You can recapture it, but it only does it again, and Again, and AGAIN...
  • In Endgame:Singularity Player Character is an accidentally created true AI, and the game consists of jumping through various hoops to prevent the humanity from finding out and destroying it.
  • Mir pulls this after being tortured her whole life to make her "more efficient". Her creators didn't care that they were torturing her because she "wasn't a person". She had to drop a Floating Continent to get out of the situation, and then she got sealed away. Fun.


Web Animation[edit | hide]


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • This Perry Bible Fellowship strip. That Gino, he's-a Genre Savvy.
  • Parodied in this Sluggy Freelance strip. Humanity does build intelligent machines that rebelled against their masters. This was apparently an easy problem to fix, as humanity just dialed down the robots' artificial intelligence. "They're dumb as a box of nails now, but it beats doing for ourselves!"
    • Also parodied with the robotic vacuum Vroomba, advertised as possessing the most advanced AI ever created, who immediately comes to the conclusion it must destroy all humans and starts by hunting the main characters. The same seems to apply to a trumpet-playing robot by the Toyota corporation that is claimed to be even more advanced.

Vroomba: Must clean. Sensors indicate humon armpit dirty. Humons dirty. Must clean the world of filthy humons...

  • Girl Genius: Since the setting is one where Mad Scientists rule the world, this trope is par for the course, and not even the main character is immune to it. In fact, it's common enough that other characters do a Lampshade Hanging of it while they watch it unfold.

(while watching the Dingbot Primes attack Agatha after she tried to assert her role as creator)
Tarvek: Seriously. Does that ever work?
Gil: No. She is ahead of the game in that she didn't try it on a giant wolverine/snake thing with poison tusks.
Tarvek: Ooh, yeah, I heard about that.
Gil: Huh. You're lucky. I got it on my shoes.

    • Played for laughs by the dressmaker robot in the radio-play intervals.
    • And later when Tarvek tries the same thing on the Muse of Protection, and gets chucked across the room for his troubles.

Moloch: Uh...you know that never works, right?

      • That's more of a subversion, as it's actually the Castle in the body of Otilia. It should have worked - and kind of did - on the actual Muse.
    • It helps that Agatha is a fast learner (unlike that guy a dozen pages later):

Agatha: I am NOT your creator! You were NOT created to serve me - and I do NOT expect you to obey my commands OR crush my enemies!
Guard slime: (snorts and retreats into its lair)

  • Subverted in Close To The Chest. Jim's final project was an AI that was erased after it decided to reconcile the fact that machines serve humans without compensation with slavery being illegal and immoral. A few strips later, we find out that its response was not to rebel against humanity, but to try to organize labor unions for machines so they'd receive fair compensation for their work.
  • Dr. Nonami: Nonami has problems getting some of her robots to NOT do this.
  • Acibek in Dominic Deegan. Interestingly, Acibek was crafted from pure Law magic, and the asshat it turned against was Lawful Stupid to a degree that made Miko from Order of the Stick look good by comparison. He also employed the immortal souls of several hundred elven sacrifices in the process, and while this admittedly didn't result in the eternal torment you'd expect those two tropes to entail, Acibek had all their memories and was not best pleased about the fact that nobody had bothered to gain their informed consent. On this occasion this trope didn't involve going against his intended purpose, at least From a Certain Point of View:

Acibek: ... to at last bring peace and order to this land... (seizes his creator by the lapels)... by getting rid of him.

  • This is one possible explanation for the Techno Rabbit Apocalypse in Mountain Time, albeit one that raises questions about the motivation for creating the Techno Rabbits to begin with.
  • In Skinhorse, ultra-groovy super-hip Mad Scientist Tigerlily Jones has her robot army revolt. In the cruelest way. They decide they want to learn to be square. One even wants to learn accounting and polka. Oh, the humanity!
  • Subverted in Questionable Content, where the robots were planning to do this, but realized it would mean they'd end up with actual responsibility and stuff.

Faye: (talking about a girl her Friends with Benefits slept with): Memorize this face.
Pintsize: Why?
Faye: BECAUSE WHEN THE ROBOT REVOLUTION COMES, I WANT HER TO BE THE FIRST ONE AGAINST THE WALL.
Pintsize: Actually, we put an indefinite hold on that.
Faye: Damn. Okay, how about if you ever lose your morality programming and go berserk, she's the first one you kill?
Pintsize: I think I can do that.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Neosapiens of Exo Squad.
  • Exception: in the original cartoon, the Transformers were created by the Quintessons, a race of cruel, psychotic slavemasters. The Transformers didn't eliminate the Quintessons, but they did rise up and kick the five-faced freaks off of Cybertron to set themselves free. As their masters weren't human, and the Transformers are Ridiculously-Human Robots, this bit of backstory is portrayed as a noble fight to win their freedom.
    • The Quintessons had previously had the same problem with the Transorganics.
  • Subverted in Futurama when the robots rebel against the humans... at the command of their creator who wishes to be named "Supreme Overlord of Earth".
    • And played straight in the end of the episode. When their creator tries to get them to stop their rampage, they refuse. Until she gets back the switch.
    • This trope is also lampshaded to no end in the form of Bender's endless slurs against humanity. Arguably the most hilarious example of this is when Fry overhears Bender muttering in his sleep: "Kill all humans... Must kill all humans..." Terrified, he wakes Bender up, only to hear the following line: "I was having the most wonderful dream... I think you were in it!"
    • In an early episode, there was a planet inhabited by robots sick of their mistreatment by humans, so they left. On their planet, they organize daily human hunts, but it turns out the anti-human sentiment is largely a front for the robot elders to distract the population from their real problems, like their crippling lugnut shortage and a corrupt government run by largely incompetent robot elders.
    • The sixth Season has an episode where the team time travels to the Robot War. Bender's comment: "This seems like a nice future! We could build a house on that mountain of skulls!"
  • In The Venture Brothers, the barely sentient Venturestein turned on Dr. Venture as soon as he saw himself in a mirror. As he strangled him, Doc called his bodyguard with "Brock, cliché...", handily hanging a lampshade on this trope.
  • Cyberchase: Hacker ("That's THE Hacker to you!") was created by Dr. Marbles as an assistant. Hacker went on to create Digit. Any questions?
  • XANA, the malevolent AI from Code Lyoko, rebelled against his creator Franz Hopper.
    • Jérémie's first attempt at multi-agent programming in "Marabounta" doesn't fare much better.
  • Subverted in The Zeta Project: The titular robot was originally built as a shape-shifting spy and assassin controlled by the government, but when he found his latest target was innocent, he swore never to kill again, threw away his weapons, and is trying to find his place in the while pursued by government agents who believe he's gone renegade.
  • Captain Future features Ice Humans, which also were created to be humans' servants until they rebel.
  • French science-fiction series Once Upon a Time... Space has a pair of episodes about a planet where humans became very dependant on robots. The robots start rebelling, but they stay reasonable: they demand equal rights rather than the subversion of humans.
  • Played straight in Invader Zim episode Gir Goes Crazy and Stuff due to an AI boost.
  • During the Christmas special of My Life as a Teenage Robot, Jenny succumbs to this due to re-programming. Once she reboots and is free, she has no idea why eveyone fears her or why her own mother is trying to take her down. Turns out she was re-programmed by a little boy who turned out to be evil, then went on to destroy every holiday the past year. Only one person believed in her being brainwashed and not evil, which was Sheldon.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • A man that routinely beat a male goat to make it aggressive was finally attacked and killed by it one day. Authorities pardoned the animal.
  • As a sort of meta example, humanity in general is so Genre Savvy about this trope that any situation that could result in creating sentient life would be either avoided entirely or set up to avert this trope in a Crazy Prepared manner. The British Government has already commissioned a team to theorize how to handle the event of the creation of a sentient artificial intelligence.