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Cyborgs in fiction

Cyborgs are a prominent staple in the science fiction genre. This article summarizes notable instances of cyborgs in fiction.

In 1966, Kit Pedler, a medical scientist, created the Cybermen for the TV program Doctor Who, based on his concerns about science changing and threatening humanity. The Cybermen had replaced much of their bodies with mechanical prostheses and were now supposedly emotionless creatures driven only by logic.

The Metal Gear Solid series of video games has a recurring character known as the "Cyborg Ninja" who is a person wearing a cybernetic exoskeleton (either worn as a suit or grafted directly to the character's body) and wielding a high-frequency blade.

The cyborg ninja suit has been donned by multiple characters, most recently by the character Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 4. He became the newest incarnation of the Cyborg Ninja after he was captured by The Patriots after he stole the body of Big Boss for the Paradise Lost Army. His body was heavily experimented on for the purpose of creating the ultimate soldier and the only remaining organic parts of his original body are his head and spinal cord. His cyborg body is composed of artificial muscle, organs, bones, and blood(a "white" artificial blood that the PLA substituted for his old, nanomachine primed blood). His cyborg body was optimized for war and enabled him to fight on a superhuman level and withstand what would normally be considered fatal injuries.

Isaac Asimov's short story "The Bicentennial Man" explored cybernetic concepts. The central character is NDR, a robot who begins to modify himself with organic components. His explorations lead to breakthroughs in human medicine via artificial organs and prosthetics. By the end of the story, there is little physical difference between the body of the hero, now called Andrew, and humans equipped with advanced prosthetics, save for the presence of Andrew's artificial positronic brain. Asimov also explored the idea of the cyborg in relation to robots in his short story "Segregationist", collected in The Complete Robot.

The 1972 science fiction novel Cyborg, by Martin Caidin, told the story of a man whose damaged body parts are replaced by mechanical devices. This novel was later adapted into a TV series, The Six Million Dollar Man, in 1973, and its spin-off, The Bionic Woman in 1976. Caidin also addressed bionics in his 1968 novel, The God Machine.

In 1974, Marvel Comics writer Rich Buckler introduced the cyborg Deathlok the Demolisher, and a dystopian post-apocalyptic future, in Astonishing Tales #25. Buckler's character dealt with rebellion and loyalty, with allusion to Frankenstein's monster, in a twelve-issue run. Deathlok was later resurrected in Captain America.

The 1982 film Blade Runner featured creatures called replicants, bio-engineered or bio-robotic beings. The Nexus series — genetically designed by the Tyrell Corporation — are virtually identical to an adult human, but have superior strength, agility, and variable intelligence depending on the model. Because of their physical similarity to humans a replicant must be detected by its lack of emotional responses and empathy to questions posed in a Voight-Kampff test. A derogatory term for a replicant is "skin-job," a term heard again extensively in Battlestar Galactica. In the opening crawl of the film, they are first said to be the next generation in robotics. The crawl also states genetics play some role in the creation of replicants. The original novel makes mention of the biological components of the androids, but also alludes to the mechanical aspects commonly found in other material relating to robots.

The 1987 science fiction action film RoboCop features a cyborg protagonist. After being killed by a criminal gang, police officer Alex Murphy is transformed by a private company into a cyborg cop. The transformation is used to explore the theme of reification and identity. There are cyborg kaiju in the Godzilla films such as Gigan and Mechagodzilla.

Although frequently referred to onscreen as a cyborg, The Terminator might be more properly an android. While it has skin and blood (cellular organic systems), these serve mainly as a disguise and are not symbiotic with the machine components, a trait of true cyborgs. The endoskeletons beneath are fully functional robots and have been seen operating independently, especially during the future segments of the Terminator movies. The T-1000 (which is said to be made completely of a liquid metal) of Terminator 2 is definitely an android. The Terminator Cameron Phillips seen in the 2008 TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is of a previously unseen model, and is once again referred to on screen (including once by another Terminator) as a cyborg.

Cyborgs have also been present in Real Time Strategy video games. The "Command & Conquer" video game series had cyborgs as a part of its plot - specifically Cyborgs created by the "Brotherhood of Nod" via Tiberium Infusion experimentation. They were frequently used for anti-personnel, though the Cyborg Commando proved to be useful in most situations. Cyborgs were brought back by the AI named LEGION, (a predecessor to CABAL) under direct orders from Kane. Also the Marked of Kane is reborned as well which is made up with Cyborgs.

One of the most famous cyborgs is Darth Vader from the Star Wars films. Vader was once Anakin Skywalker, a famous Jedi turned to the Dark Side. After a furious battle with his former master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin is left for dead beside a lava flow on Mustafar, and is outfitted with an artificial life support system as well as robotic arms and legs. General Grievous, Lobot, and Luke Skywalker are the three other most prominent cyborgs in the Star Wars universe.

In Akira Toriyama's manga and anime series Dragon Ball', a scientist named Dr. Gero created several cyborgs, including villain Cell, sibling cyborgs Android 17 and Android 18, as well as Android 20, who was built from Gero himself.

A direct brain-to-computer interface is a valuable, but expensive, luxury in Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's novel Oath of Fealty.

In the manga and anime series Ghost in the Shell, Motoko Kusanagi lived in a world where the majority of adults are cyborgs and can connect wirelessly to the Internet for real-time communication and data research. The most common augmentation in the series were artificial brains called cyberbrains.

Bruce Sterling in his universe of Shaper/Mechanist suggested an idea of alternative cyborg called Lobster, which is made not by using internal implants, but by using an external shell (e.g. a Powered Exoskeleton). Unlike human cyborgs that appear human externally while being synthetic internally, a Lobster looks inhuman externally but contains a human internally. The computer game Deus Ex: Invisible War prominently featured three clans of Omar, where "Omar" is a Russian translation of the word "Lobster" (since the clans are of Russian origin in the game).

In the Brain and Brawn series of novels series by Anne McCaffery and others, beginning with The Ship Who Sang, a "brainship" is a human body, usually one that could not develop normally, encased in the strongest materials available in that universe, and mentally connected to the controls of a spacecraft. Later novels link the brainship to fully funcional humanoid androids, which are even capable of creating offspring.

In written fiction

  • In the story The Ablest Man in the World (1879), by Edward Page Mitchell, a computer is inserted into a man's head, turning him into a genius.
  • The Tin Woodman from L. Frank Baum's Oz books (at least before he became entirely metal).
  • Deirdre, a famous dancer who was burned nearly completely and whose brain was placed in a faceless but beautiful mechanical body, in C. L. Moore's short story of 1944, "No Woman Born". Collected in "The Best of C. L. Moore" in 1975
  • Jonas the (star) sailor in Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun novels. His near light speed ship had been gone so long that on its return to Urth, there were no space port facilities any more, and it crashed. Other crew members patched him up from available parts. (However, he started out as fully robotic, and was repaired with human parts, rather than the more usual reverse).
  • Molly Millions, Henry Dorsett Case, and Peter Riviera all have some sort of cybernetic augmentation in William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy.
  • Professor Jameson, a cyborg pulp hero by Neil R. Jones, and his allies and benefactors, the Zoromes.
  • Marge Piercy's He, She and It presents a rather feminist view on the cyborg issue with Yod who, however, is provided with some male attributes.
  • Anne McCaffrey wrote short stories and novels known as The Ship Series where otherwise crippled humans live on as the brains of starships and large space stations.
  • The genetically engineered and prosthetics-ready warriors of the planet Sauron in the CoDominium series of short stories and novels initiated by Jerry Pournelle and also written by guest authors.
  • In Martin Caidin's novel, Cyborg, a test pilot is rebuilt after a horrendous crash, given new "bionic" limbs, and becomes a superspy. Followed by several sequel novels and also adapted as the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man.
  • Angus Thermopylae, The Gap Cycle.
  • Haberman and Scanners from Scanners Live in Vain by Cordwainer Smith.
  • The Comprise, a computer-mediated hive mind which has taken over Earth, in the novel Vacuum Flowers by Michael Swanwick.
  • Rat Things in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. They are attack-programmed guard dogs whose long hairless tails make them look less like dogs and more like rats. They are powered by nuclear engines that will fatally over-heat if they stop. Technology invented by Mr. Ng and, evidently, made exclusively for the defense of the franchise Mr. Lee's Greater Hong Kong.
  • In William C. Dietz's Legion of the Damned the Legion is made up of a combination of humans and heavily armed cyborgs.
  • Kage Baker has written a series of novels about The Company in which orphans from various eras (who fit certain physical requirements) are recruited by a time-traveling corporation, augmented and turned into immortal cyborgs, and trained to rescue valuable artifacts from history.
  • Hannes Suessi from David Brin's Uplift novels is transformed into a cyborg by the time he re-appears in Infinity's Shore

In comics and manga

In film

In television

In computer and video games


  • Psychotron, a part human, part computer killing machine from Megadeth's song Psychotron.
  • The I-Robots from various songs by Coheed and Cambria

Games & Toys



See also

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