Unwilling Roboticisation

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Princess Sally unwillingly demonstrates.
"You need not fear. Cybermen will remove fear. Cybermen will remove sex, and class, and colour, and creed. You will become identical. You will become like us."
CyberLeader 1, Doctor Who, "Doomsday"

Sci-fi oftens portrays cybernetics as the way forward. Replacing lost limbs, augmenting abilities, even allowing body transplants. But on occasion, a story involves characters who don't want to surrender their fleshy bodies. And that can be handy to know for a villain. This is normally done by dictator types. This can be to suppress rebellion, to remove individuality, or to create a robot army - or a combination of the above.

This can be similar to You Will Be Assimilated. Related to Cybernetics Eat Your Soul. Also see We Can Rebuild Him and Emergency Transformation.

Some devices that inflict roboticisation use Nanomachines, resulting in graphic scenes of the person being slowly mechanized while screaming in pain as they are being rebuilt into machines. May be resisted with Heroic Willpower. May lead to Sheep in Wolf's Clothing. See also Man in the Machine and Hypno Trinket.

Examples of Unwilling Roboticisation include:

Anime[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Galaxy Express 999, while Tetsuro originally tries to GET Roboticized, after witnessing that such operations does not make everything immediately better he decides against it. Cue Queen Prometheum trying to forcefully turn him into, as Tetsuro describes it, a bolt.
    • Then again, Queen Prometheum decides to turn all organics who do not roboticize into Food Pills for her bot citizens.
  • The master plan of the main antagonist in Macross Frontier is to institute mandatory cybernetics implantation for every single person in the universe as part of an Assimilation Plot.
  • None of the heroes from AnimeCyborg 009 wanted to become cyborgs. All of them were kidnapped and forcibly transformed by Black Ghost, leading to understandable angst, frustration and all nine becoming Phlebotinum Rebels as soon as they could. Most of the later cyborgs were created under similar circumstances; however, Black Ghost had learned from their prior mistakes and ensuring they couldn't follow in the first nine's footsteps and become anything more than Tragic Monsters.
  • Daitarn 3: The Meganoids' master plan is making this to ALL humans to improve the humankind.
  • Mazinger Z: All Co-Dragons -but Gorgon- and Mooks are Cyborgs created by Big Bad Dr. Hell. He never gave someone choice in the matter or asked them if they want being turned into half-mechanical beings (and since Baron Ashura and his Mooks were corpses he revived by using cybernetic implants they could not refuse either). And in the case of Count Brocken, in one of the manga versions he states bitterly he was grateful to Hell because he saved his life... but he never wished serving him.
    • Baron Ashura may have subverted the trope in other versions, though: Even he/she STILL got converted in cyborg unwillingly, in Mazinkaiser he requests Dr. Hell making him/her in a part of his latest Mechanical Beast to fight Mazinkaiser hand-to-hand. And in Shin Mazinger Zero he/she wanted being turned into part of another Robeast with the same purpose.
  • The Kikai Empire in Nekketsu Saikyo Gosaurer
  • This is how Renee Cardiff Shishioh from GaoGaiGar initially became a cyborg.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • As with their source material, the video games, various Sonic publications feature this trope.
    • Sonic the Comic mostly followed the games; Robotnik's main forces were simply shells which weren't organic, and were powered by an organism. Most of them were nameless one-shot characters, but a few major characters were changed - Shorty, Johnny and Amy.
      • This was inverted with Metamorphia. She started out as an apparently cybernetic artifical life-form, was turned into a Badnik and transformed into an organic character.
    • The American comic by Archie Comics takes it more literally. The holocaust that served as the backstory of the comic was the result of Robotnik using the invention known as the Roboticizer to turn Mobians into mindless slaves to do his bidding.
      • During the third year this happened to Sonic himself, and it became the focus of the Mecha Madness arc. To fight him, the good guys roboticised Knuckles. Yes, it was awesome.
      • Not to mention the issue where Sally was roboticised (page image is a partial of the cover), willingly, having a chip to allow her to keep her free will, escape, and study the effects. Unfortunately, Robotnik found and removed it before she was roboticised. Bad stuff happened.
        • Oh Crap: As of Issue 230, it's happened to her again, though for rather noble reasons. And considering the kinds of stories that usually come out of the current writer...
      • Ironically, the original Roboticizer wasn't even created by Robotnik; it was created by Charles Hedgehog, Sonic's uncle, as a way of keeping critically ill or injured patients alive until a cure could be found. When the whole "mindless automaton" thing couldn't be resolved, Charles dumped it as a failed experiment...and Robotnik took it up, using it as the basis for his takeover.
      • And that gets worse, too: the test subject was his brother (and Sonic's father), who was mortally wounded. To this day, Jules is the last remaining "Robian", because de-roboticizing him would restore his old wounds and kill him.
  • The Outsiders foe the Duke of Oil thought he was a human brain transplanted into a cyborg body. Upon learning that there was no brain and he was just a set of memories downloaded into a robot, he went slightly mad.
  • Several iterations of the Superman villain, Metallo, invoke this trope. Most involve his human brain being moved into a robotic body after horrific injury to keep him alive, without his consent (being unconscious from said injuries at the time of the transfer).
  • The short-lived series ManTech (based on a toy line of the same name) revolves around three unconscious and fatally injured human astronauts who are rescued and cyborgized by a benevolent alien. Of the three, SolarTech accepts that it was the only way to save their lives, and LaserTech loves his new super powers, but AquaTech hates his transformation.
  • Robotman of Doom Patrol has never been comfortable with his transformation, and even less so after finding out The Chief was responsible for his fateful accident
  • Both DC and Marvel have in their main universes have plots where large numbers of ordinary humans were (themselves unknowingly) roboticised, to serve as sleeper weapons against superhumans. In the Marvel case, it was part of Bastion's plan to get rid of all mutants (at the time in the 90's when most non-mutant heroes were thought to have died in the battle against Onslaught). In the DC case, it was the OMAC project (one of the preludes to Infinite Crisis).
  • The Phalanx and the Technarchy from the X-Men comics have this as their hat, along with elements of The Virus. Both groups can convert organic life to techno-organic life by touch. The Phalanx use this as a recruiting tool; the Technarchy can do the same thing, but usually avert it by immediately eating whatever they convert.


Fan Fiction[edit | hide]


Film[edit | hide]

  • RoboCop. Officer Alex Murphy wasn't given a choice about being rebuilt as the title character in the first movie, and neither was Cain in Robocop 2. Both of them do still take it better than the two cops that were roboticized before they came up with using Cain.
    • Murphy's dedication to law and order and his religious devotion which precluded the notion of suicide was why he survived being rebuilt. As for Cain, the researcher behind the Robocop 2 project wanted the brain of a psychopath that she could control by means of his addiction to Nuke. Needless to say, the project backfired.
  • Happens to Vera in Superman 3.
  • In Star Wars, the transformation of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader was carried out on the orders of Palpatine, regardless of his apprentice's opinion. And it was done without any form of painkiller to toughen him up. Because, you know, losing your limbs and skin to lava wasn't quite enough.
    • The Expanded Universe revealed that General Grievous was created this way as well. He was originally a fully organic general among his own people, until Dooku arranged an "accident" that left him needing a new body. Dooku's surgeons made sure to cut out his conscience while they were at it...
  • In A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, Freddy merges Dan Jordan with a motorcycle as the teen's driving it down a road. The transformation sequence was so horrible that most of it was cut out of subsequent video and DVD releases.
  • Happens to Perry the Platypus-2 in Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension after he was defeated by Dr. Doofensmirtz and is thereafter known as the Platyborg, the general of Dr. Doof's Norm Bot army. He gets better though, Kinda.
  • At the end of the 1986 version of The Fly, the Brundlefly is merged with one of the telepods. It's not pretty.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel The Truce At Bakura, the Ssi-ruuk's forces consisted of several members of other races who had been "enteched," turned into battle droids. Turns out their souls are still alive and in agony.
  • The Machmen” by James Schmitz.
  • "The Wizard of Oz" is actually an example of this. In the original story, the Tin Man is repeatedly attacked by the witch. His limbs and body are cut off one by one, and he gradually has to replace them all with a body and head of tin.
  • A novelization of Sonic Sat AM had this happen to side-character Bunny Rabbit. Luckily, Sonic could save her before the process was completed, turning her into Bunny Rabbot.
  • May happen to you in one of the endings of the Choose Your Own Adventure book Your Very Own Robot.
  • In the 1998 novel Aliens: Berserker it is revealed that the MAX robot was run by convicted felons. Although the convicts are offered a reduced sentence for their services, it is not possible to survive their stint as the suit's operator due to the constant chemicals pumped into them and the countless wires run in and out of their bodies which reduce them to a living husk.
  • In Max Barry's Machine Man, Dr. Charles Neumann undergoes this. What's curious is that while the good doctor was perfectly content to replace his legs and right hand, he had no desire to become a Man in the Machine or a Brain In a Jar. Both end up happening to him.
  • In The Court Of The Air, revolutionaries obsessed with leveling all social disparities take over a city, then begin forcibly converting its organic inhabitants into Clock Punk proto-cyborgs so they'll be "equal" to the city's animated-construct inhabitants.
  • Robopocalypse features this as the robots experiment on humans during their attempt to eradicate their creators. Anything from replacing a guy's hand with a metal claw to ripping out a young girl's eyes and replacing them with electronic equipment.
  • In Elminster: The Making of a Mage one of the Magelords grafted his concubine's body to a golem... piece by piece... and was about to transfer her soul there too (under his control) when the experiment was terminated along with himself. Seeing how he got promoted to the top place on the hit-list of a vengeful archmage, apparently it was one of the few things that managed to gross out Mystra, who by her nature is generally aware of everything that's done via conventional magic.
  • The ReMade of Bas-Lag Cycle are bio-Magitek version.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The Cybermen from Doctor Who. All three of the above goals come into play with the latest version. It starts out as (or at least, is put forward as) a way to beat ageing. However, John Lumic, frustrated at being repeatedly rejected, takes control of the population with another of his products and gathers them at conversion plants.
    • Played with: When Lumic's breathing apparatus is damaged by a turncoat employee, the Cybermen decide it's as good a time as any for him to join them.

Lumic: I will upgrade only with my last breath.
Cyberman: Then breathe no more. *disconnects apparatus*

    • Forced conversions are shown in the original series with the "proper" Cybermen too. To quote the Doctor, "it's just like being an organ donor, except you're alive, and... sort of... screaming."
    • Even scarier are the Robomen from The Dalek Invasion Of Earth. Jenny, a resistance member, explains: "There aren’t that many Daleks on Earth. They needed helpers. So they operated on some of their prisoners and turned them into robots... The transfer, as the Daleks call the operation, controls the human brain. Well, at least for a time...I’ve seen the Robos when they break down. They go insane. They smash their heads against walls. They throw themselves off buildings or into the river." The Robomen in the original television version are particularly chilling. In the film, they simply seem to be under mind control, but the television ones - it's clearly implied - are effectively dead from the moment that the transfer is carried out. There is no way that they can be "cured" or "freed" as the film versions can, other than by death. In some ways, they make the Cyber-alternative look almost merciful. But then, that's the Daleks for you...
  • The Borg from Star Trek, naturally. While they utilize nanomachines, these don't cause as much terror as they do in other series. Aside from changing skin color and causing small basic machines to appear, they mostly work to render the person complacent before the full process commences.
  • This is a major plot point in the Babylon 5 episode "Spider in the web". Abel Horn, a (former) authority figure in the Free Mars terrorist group, is rebuilt as a cyborg post mortem, the cybernetic part controlling his body while his mind is fixated on the moment of his death by means of a telepathic deep scan.
  • Showa Era Kamen Riders. Played straight with #1, #2, Tackle, Kamen Rider ZX, Kamen Rider Black and Shadow Moon who were unwillingly turned into cyborgs by evil organizations that they'd later battle (except for Shadow Moon, who is loyal to his converters). Riderman, Kamen Rider X and Skyrider were cyborgized as means to save their lives. One of the 90s movie-only Riders was like this as well. Subverted by Kamen Rider V 3, Kamen Rider Stronger and Kamen Rider Super-1 who got turned into Altered Humans willingly. Almost all cases contained scenes of very painful looking surgery without any anesthesia. The Movie Kamen Rider the First was less graphic on Painful Transformation, but still given us a lot of screaming and implications of drill to the skull.
  • In Power Rangers RPM, this is what sentient computer virus Venjix does to create his Mecha-Mooks. This was also what happened to Dillon and his sister, Tanaya 7 and, in the finale, unknowingly to many of the people of Corinthe, who were being slowly roboticized by a virus since the war started to act as sleeper cells.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Warhammer 40,000
    • Servitors are lobotomized cyborgs - i.e. command part is a cogitator, while object recognition and movement are left to a conditioned organic brain, to avoid creating true AI. However, their origins vary: formerly sentient people may be sentenced criminals or "reclaimed" corpses, while others are built upon bodies vat-grown specifically for this purpose.
      • Arco-flagellants in are heretics or criminals who have their arms lopped off and replaced with close combat weapons, their brains scrambled, and combat drug dispensers grafted onto their backs. Normally pacified by visors playing soothing hymns and displaying religious images, with the right command word the visors flip up, they get a cocktail of stimulants, and they start killing anything in sight.
      • Sometimes they add tools to serfs (in particular, mining helots) - theoretically, it's until the end of indentured servitude, but it's not like they can regenerate the original appendages...
    • The Necrons do this to humans with the pariah gene (which causes them to produce a negative warp signature, preventing psychic powers from working around them).
      • The Necrontyr mostly voluntarily gave up their short-lived, fleshy bodies to become the immortal, emotionless, soulless Necrons, but a few resisted and demanded to know the effects of being consigned to a mechanical body. These dissidents were quickly deceived and forced into becoming Necrons anyways.
    • Dark Eldar have Grotesques - monstrosities of whom even former species are not always easy to identify - made by Haemonculi from slaves using chemicals, surgery and implants (and torture), then used as shock troops or gladiators.
    • The Obliterator virus is an unholy (literally) mix of this and Baleful Polymorph - the subject "learns" to absorb and "regurgitate" weapons, then produce ammunition, then goes all crazy and misshapen...
  • The Ravenloft NPC Ahmi Vanjuko was converted against his will into a mechanical golem by the insane darklord of Vechor.
  • This was one of Phyrexia's more terrifying tools in the earlier storylines of Magic: The Gathering. This being a fantasy setting, rather than a sci fi one, the cyborgs in question were monstrous in appearance and the game rules classified most as either a "Zombie" or a "Horror."
  • Rifts got "Slave Borgs". Of course, people who were cyborgized this way get the cheapest and weakest components, and no sensors, except what's needed for their job. Some manage to escape and become either workers or mercenaries. Also, the Coalition forces sometimes chop off hands of magic-using prisoners and install cheapest cybernetic replacements - this disrupts their ability to use magic, but mostly done out of sadism, just to freak them out.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Of course, Sonic the Hedgehog's Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik is the king of this trope, although the concept was treated more lightly (the victim is used as an living battery, there is no direct transformation) than in the Trope Namer:SatAM and the comics. Sonic Adventure downplayed the roboticization aspect (although it is the central plot point of E-102 Gamma's storyline) and since Sonic Heroes rarely used.
  • Adam Jensen from Deus Ex Human Revolution, as a result of near-fatal injuries he suffered at the beginning of the game. While there's some Memetic Mutation regarding his line "I never asked for this," from the trailer, the player can play him as either resentful or as grateful as they like.
  • Matthew Kane in Quake IV. The augmentation is standard procedure for all Strogg including POWs from other species. You can take a look here, but be warned that it is not for the squeamish.
  • In American McGee's Alice, the Mad Hatter ran an asylum where he transformed the patients into steampunk robots.
  • The Lin Kuei ninja clan do this to their clansmen in Mortal Kombat. Though Sektor was a volunteer, Cyrax and, depending on which timeline out of two is in question, either Smoke or Sub-Zero aren't willing.
  • Gray Fox and Raiden were both unwillingly transformed into cyborgs in the Metal Gear series.
  • Dr. Nefarious of Ratchet and Clank makes this his goal out of hatred for organic life. According to the Qwark vidcomics, he was once organic himself, until he became a robot through a wedgie gone wrong.
  • Used in System Shock 2.
  • This is the modus operandi of the Reapers and their Geth allies in Mass Effect, forcibly turning humans into cybernetic zombies called Husks.
    • Even more frightening the Reapers are created by forcibly melting organics down into a liquid metal which is then fused into a massive exoskeleton.
    • When the Collector General assumes direct control of one of its soldiers, the Collector in question is effectively transformed into nothing but a super-powered collection of cybernetics.
    • The ultimate fate of Saren, following his death, was to have his corpse transformed into a cybernetic puppet of Sovereign.
  • Used as a late-game plot point in Spyro: A Hero's Tail. The villain has his underlings reversibly turned into robots to improve their combat efficiency. It's used on him before the final boss fight.
  • A major part of the Backstory in Total Annihilation.
  • Done to a character named Tsukikage, known after becoming a cyborg as Dural, in Virtua Fighter.
  • Plenty of animals had this happen to them in Mother 3 when not being spliced to other lifeforms. Some examples include the Reconstructed Caribou, the Mecha-Drago, the Almost-Mecha- and Mecha-Lion, and the protagonist's older twin Claus.
  • In the Dark Side ending of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, this is what becomes of the Apprentice. In this ending, the Apprentice defeats Darth Vader, but while weakened, is almost killed by Palpatine. The Emperor transforms him into a 'placeholder' until he can acquire someone to take over Vader's role.
  • Done to humans (both volunteers looking for privileges and anyone who rebels) by the Combine, Earth's alien overlords in Half-Life 2, to the point that some (such as stalkers) scarcely even count as human any more, and certainly haven't had the free will of a human for a very long time. It's implied by the look of some of the Combine's technology that they've done this to other species as well—for example, both gunships and dropships have a very organic look, augmented with mechanical parts.
  • Played With in Portal 2: GLaDOS, who is already a robot, is unwillingly changed into a potato.
    • And it turns out, this is GLaDOS' origin too: she was initially the personality of Cave Johnson's secretary Caroline, whose consciousness was uploaded into an A.I. in order to make her immortal, likely against her will.
  • This is what happened to Captain Hook and his crew in Epic Mickey, with Mickey being given the option of destroying or reversing the conversion machine while on his way to fight Captain Hook.
  • In Thief 2, Father Karras and the Mechanists kidnap the lesser denizens of The City and turn them into "Servants", Steampunk cyborgs that are programmed to serve their masters perfectly. They are not particularly happy about this arrangement; listen to them, and you'll hear them weeping about how cold it is and beg you to kill them. If you do, they thank you.
  • Song Summoner plays this for all of the Nightmare Fuel it can. The worst part is that the Machines still retain some of their humanity, but you have to destroy them anyway. One Stargazer combines this with An Offer You Can't Refuse—he cuts off a city full of starving refugees from any outside aid and offers to turn them into Machines that feel no hunger.
  • In Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten all of the generic classes have introductory cutscenes which play when you create a new one to add to your team. The cyborg class's cutscene shows a female fighter being subject to Alien Abduction, before being Strapped to An Operating Table and transformed into one.
  • BioShock (series)'s Big Daddies are described in game as having the internal organs of a subject grafted into a large diving suit.
  • In Xenoblade, the seventh member of the group, or the third one if you take into consideration she appeared in the prologue, Fiora, gets transformed into a Mechon. She takes it surprisingly well.
    • The same happen to Mumkhar and Gadolt but unlike the latter, the former didn't got his memory wiped.
  • The enemies in Absorption.
  • One example from Star Wars: The Old Republic has imperial soldiers captured by a rogue Sith lord and their brains used as the central processor of advanced droids. The only one still able to communicate realises in horror that they'll be aware within the droids, but unable to control them, and begs for death. You may decide that the droids are too useful a resource to waste.
  • One of the main quests in Dragon Age Origins has the player combing through dwarven ruins to find a magic anvil that modern dwarves believe creates golems. Upon some exposition, the anvil actually invokes this trope, and has a long and sordid history of more and more dwarves being cast into it as the war underground got worse. Initially, it was only used on condemned criminals and volunteers, but by the time the situation got so bad that the city was lost, any criminals (even petty thieves), political dissidents, and low-ranking individuals of the caste system were thrown into the anvil, ending with its creator suffering the same fate.
  • Some gnomes in the World of Warcraft region of Borean Toundra are transformed into "mechagnomes" by gearmaster Mechazod. Interestingly, since modern gnomes evolved from mechagnomes, this is also a case of Devolution Device.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • In Darths and Droids's version of the Star Wars prequels, General Grievous/Chancellor Valorum plans to forcibly convert people into an army of unstoppable cyborgs to take over the galaxy. This has the effect of giving context to Anakin's horror at his transformation into Darth Vader.


Web Original[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The trope namer, Sonic Sat AM. The cartoon was developed in conjunction with the Archie Comics version, and uses this trope in all of the mentioned methods. In fact there was a scene, part of a dream sequence, where Sally was roboticized. The horrified look on her face as it happened and her scream when it completed says it all. That cartoon's...unrelated successor, Sonic Underground, does the same.
    • Also happened in the "Quest for the Chaos Emeralds" four-part saga; Robotnik uses his robot transmogrifying raygun on Blackbeard, a whale, a pterodactyl and a treasure chest (the latter resembling Crabmeat from Sonic the Hedgehog).
  • In an early episode of Teen Titans there was a robot who wanted to make Cyborg 100% robot by removing what made him human. It should be noted that the robot (whose name is Fixit) detects flaws in the human body and honestly thinks he's fixing Cyborg. He probably would have left Cyborg alone had he been completely human.
    • Indeed, Fixit even made sure to create a backup copy of Cyborg's memories and personality. It's upon examining the backup copy that he realizes his error and lets Cyborg go.
  • Parodied in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Welcome to the Chum Bucket"; Plankton threatens to put SpongeBob's brain inside a robot chef if he didn't make a Krabby Patty. Eventually he does just that, but since the robot has SpongeBob's brain, he turns out to be just as recalcitrant. Lampshaded by Karen, who says to Plankton "You know that never works."
  • Dr. Arkeville of Transformers Generation 1. He'd already had some work done on him at some point before we met him, but was injured and "repaired" by Shockwave into being more mechanical than human.
  • In The Simpsons, one of the stories in Treehouse of Horror II had Homer's brain being put into a robot by Mr. Burns.
  • Dr. Wily appeared to be doing this to innocent park-goers in an episode of the Mega Man animated series. Actually, it turns out he was just brainwashing them to THINK they were robots, then outfitted them with armor and blasters.
  • The Big Bad of Centurions, Cyborg Mad Scientist Doc Terror, was strongly implied to create his drones this way. The process, so far as was shown, was not reversible.


Other[edit | hide]

  • Frequently found as a related or sub-fetish on websites that cater to Mind Control erotica.