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TVTropes: Cute Kids and Robots - July 8, 2011

Nate-Spidgewood May 24th, 2012 175 Never
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  1. [[quoteright:252:[[BattlestarGalactica http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/boxymuffet_6020.jpg]]]]
  2. [[caption-width-right:252:Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the [[TastesLikeDiabetes sugar coma]]!]]
  5. ->''In a future time, children will work together\\
  6. To build a giant cyborg!\\
  7. Robot parade, robot parade, wave the flags that the robots made!\\
  8. Robot parade, robot parade, robots obey what the children say...''
  9. -->-- TheyMightBeGiants
  11. ->"I hate funny robots."
  12. -->[[DoctorWho The Tenth Doctor]], '''The Waters of Mars''', clearly forgetting a NonHumanSidekick he once knew...
  14. The death knell for any attempt at a serious [[SpeculativeFiction science fiction]] show is the inclusion of a [[CousinOliver cute kid]] and/or a robot in the primary cast, especially if the show is supposed to be military-flavored. The robot is invariably too cutesy or smart-ass, or the kid too [[TastesLikeDiabetes twee or saccharine]], and the serious aspects of the show suffer for it. Sci-Fi version of [[ABoyAndHisX A Boy And His Dog]].
  16. Sometimes the cute kid [[LittlestCancerPatient is deathly ill]]. At that point, you should be afraid. Very afraid.
  18. The adolescent version of the cute kid is the TeenGenius.
  20. For both in one, see RobotKid.
  22. This trope's name comes from [[http://www.jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1-7700&query=kids%20cute%20robots a 1991 posting on GENIE]] (a now-defunct online service from General Electric) by ''[[BabylonFive Babylon 5]]'' creator JMichaelStraczynski, who promised the SF community that his show would have no cute kids or robots, ever.
  24. ----
  25. !!Examples:
  26. [[foldercontrol]]
  28. [[folder:Anime and Manga]]
  29. * Subverted in ''Zone of The Enders: Dolores, I'' (A veteran pilot and a mecha with little girl personality).
  30. * ''CowboyBebop'' uses a variant with Ed and Ein, a manic feral child and a "data dog". Neither are too cute to ruin the seriousness of the show, and [[spoiler:[[ShooOutTheClowns their departure]] late in the series]] foreshadows that things are going to soon get ''very'' violent.
  31. * As with everything, parodied on ''GalaxyAngel'', which adds to the [[Game/GalaxyAngel original]] cast a robot and two cute kids, all three of which are found incredibly annoying to the main cast.
  32. * The venerable ''{{Gundam}}'' has more than enough cute kids and robots in [[LongRunner its many incarnations]] than anyone might to wish, being essentially TropeCodifier. Indeed, it was original MobileSuitGundam that introduced the [[TheWesley much loved by producers and much resented by the viewers]] motif of three annoying rugrats with its trio of Katz, Letz and Kikka. Sure, this was justified by the ship being stuffed full of refugees, but this justification didn't make them any less annoying. It also features a cute robot in the form of Haro; however, it generally serves as little more than an advanced toy and a mascot for the Gundam franchise as a whole. Haro is actually popular enough that it is the only character to exist in more than one AlternateUniverse.
  33. ** As is the TropeOverdosed ''{{Eureka 7}}'', which initially seemed to include Maurice, Maeter and Linck only in a homage to the original 0079 trio. Fortunately, in the second half of the series they underwent CharacterDevelopment and not only got somewhat less annoying, but even managed to acquire some relevance to the plot.
  34. ** The reason why there are less kids was due to this guy: Katz Kobayashi. Being TheScrappy made sure one is more careful with cute kids. Sadly however, ''GundamZZ'' created the first instance of {{lolicon}}: Puru, and later her CLONE Puru Two. However, unlike Katz, both Purus are very well received.
  35. * ''{{Bokurano}}''... [[SubvertedTrope Oooh, boy]]... ''Bokurano'' has fourteen cute kids and their wisecracking AI 'helper'. The kids are all broken mentally and killed off in rather horrid fashions, while the AI cracks wise ''at them'' as they do and seems to revel in their misery. And it's all played ''very'' straight.
  36. * For some, this ruins ''GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex''. For others, it doesn't really matter. For other again, childlike robots with no sense of right and wrong, a curious mind, machine guns and a grenade launcher is ''terrifying.''
  37. ** They are also in the Manga, however instead of "Tachikoma" they are called "Fuchikoma" and they look a bit different, but they have the exact same personality, and abilities, they were left out of the two movies however.
  38. * ''LegendOfGalacticHeroes'' has Admiral Cazellnu's daughters, although they don't appear much outside the ending songs.
  39. * ''ErgoProxy'' has a cute kid RobotGirl, Pino, but she certainly doesn't make the show any less bleak.
  40. ** If anything, her presence serves to ''emphasize'' just how bleak and dystopian the world is; and is responsible for at least one crowning moment of depressing.
  41. * The Braves series. Just the Braves Series.
  42. * ''{{Big O}}'', for being ''{{Batman}}'' [[{{X Meets Y}} with giant robots]] subverts this because it isn't cutesy, and is a very [[{{Mind Screw}} psychological show]].
  43. * ''{{Medabots}}'', where the cute kids and the robots ''are'' the main characters. Amazingly, it was fairly successful.
  44. * ''BattleOfThePlanets'', the American adaptation of ''{{Gatchaman}}'', took this trope so far as to edit in a cute robot character (in an obviously different art style) named 7-Zark-7 who is a true {{Scrappy}}. Initially he was put in because of the popularity of ''StarWars'' at the time, but then the segments with him were used to fill up the time lost from the cuts of violence.
  45. * ''[[{{Yotsuba}} Yotsuba&!]]'' has the eponymous cute girl meet up with Cardbo/Danbo, a "cardboard robot" [[spoiler:It's really just a costume worn by a friend]]. It works in this case, since Yotsuba is a humorous, lighthearted manga. And that Yotsuba's first act of meeting Danbo is trying to beat it up.
  46. [[/folder]]
  48. [[folder:Film]]
  49. * ''StarWars Episode I: The Phantom Menace'' features an archetypal example of this in Anakin Skywalker. He annoyed many fans for being a blatant example of an Impossibly Lucky Cute Kid -- who happened to build his own RobotBuddy (and gained another in the form of R2-D2).
  50. ** Not helped by the fact he grows up to be space Hitler.
  51. *** Or maybe space Goering.
  52. ** This is made even worse by the fact that ''TPM'' came out in '''1999''' - decades after eye-rollers like the original BattlestarGalactica and assiduous subverters like BabylonFive were supposed to have turned this into a DeadHorseTrope. Trying to play the trope straight ''without'' reconstructing it led to... [[FlameWar issues]].
  53. ** [=R2-D2=] and [=C-3PO=] themselves are Cute Robots but [[TropesAreNotBad get away with it because they're cool and iconic.]]
  54. *** This Troper is part of that small, but not-as-small-as-you-think group which feel that R2-D2 and C-3PO are the worst cute robots of the lot.
  55. * In Steven Spielberg's film ''[=~A.I.: Artificial Intelligence~=]'', the kid was a Cute Robot Kid who wants to BecomeARealBoy.
  56. ** Despite this, the movie was ridiculously dark and depressing (and long. So, so long...), to the point where comparisons to ''NeonGenesisEvangelion'' don't seem too far off. Seriously, it wouldn't have been much of a stretch if it ''did'' have a KillEmAll ending.
  57. *** It ''technically'' did...
  58. * Does a take in ''{{Robocop}} 2'', with the child crime lord who died in his arms. Also happens in the third film, when a young Japanese girl hacks an ED-209 security robot with her ''computer''.
  59. ** ''Robocop: The Series,'' with a young girl named Gadget who hangs around Murphy all the time....
  60. ** ...and ''Robocop: Prime Directives,'' when Murphy hides out in Old Detroit, he helps a young girl find her mother, rogue Ann R. Key.
  61. * Louis Skolnick from ''{{Revenge of the Nerds}}'' and his robot.
  62. * Non sci-fi example: Rocky IV has a cute kid, AND a frickin' robot who does chores and crap. And the sharks were jumped.
  63. * ''{{Aliens}}'' showed us how to do this trope right with Newt and Bishop.
  64. * {{Terminator}} 2, Judgment Day arguably does this better than Aliens with a Boy and His Terminator.
  65. ** [[{{Wallbanger}} He forbids the Terminator to kill]]. [[ThisIsSparta HE FORBIDS. '''THE TERMINATOR'''. TO KIL.]] [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking And makes him stand on one leg and give high fives]].
  66. * FritzLang's ''Woman in the Moon'' includes a young sidekick named Gustav, who stows away on the rocket mission because he loves pulp sci-fi stories so much. Which makes this OlderThanTelevision.
  67. [[/folder]]
  69. [[folder:Live Action TV]]
  70. * Twiki on ''BuckRogersInTheTwentyFifthCentury''.
  71. * Boxey and Muffet (a double-whammy!) on the original ''BattlestarGalactica''.
  72. ** Worse than Boxey and Muffet were the gang of "boy scouts" who ended up super-powered when visiting Earth on ''{{Galactica 1980}}''.
  73. * The 2000s ''BattlestarGalactica'' had a kid, Boxey, in the Miniseries, who was the son of the official sent to the armistice station. His father was killed by the returning Cylons, presumably their first victim. Boxey appeared in one other episode, being smart-alecky to Tigh and the pilots with Starbuck, then simply vanished without mention. Fans joked that "he was delicious". The writers claim he was adopted. Meanwhile, the only robots on the show are a race of murderous killing machines. They're often sexy, but never cute.
  74. ** Other cute kids include Cammy, who dies in the Miniseries after being left behind because her ship can't do FTL and to make Roslin feel guilty, John, who tries to befriend [[CompleteMonster Brother Cavil]] and is murdered by him, Kacey, who is part of the StockholmSyndrome scenario Leoben is perpetrating on Starbuck, and Dionne, who only exists in Tyrol and Boomer's minds and is used by Boomer to manipulate Tyrol. Needless to say, these are all subversions.
  75. * K9 in ''DoctorWho'', though K9 ended up as one of the show's most popular characters.
  76. * Subversion: A cute kid ''did'' once show up on ''[[BabylonFive Babylon 5]]'' (episode "Believers"). He was killed by his own parents for religious reasons before the end of the episode. [[LittlestCancerPatient Another]] came in later (episode: "Confessions and Lamentations"), and her species was driven to extinction before the end of the episode. A third discovers an assassin, gets shot, and [[AlmostDeadGuy lives just long enough]] to reveal the assassin's existence. Also featured were a sarcastic, wise-cracking AI voiced by HarlanEllison (had its speaker shot, then got wiped from the computers) and an [[EverythingsBetterWithPlushies adorable plushy]] (ThrownOutTheAirlock, and [[Funny/BabylonFive boy was it hilarious]]). JMichaelStraczynski ''could'' be subtle when it suited him, but [[DroppedABridgeOnHim this was not one of those times]].
  77. ** It should be noted that the adorable plushie was an actual gift given to JMS as a gag, from a friend who was familiar with JMS's hatred of cute things. The bear was put in the episode and dumped into space as retribution for the gift.
  78. * And let's not forget Will Robinson and his Robot on ''LostInSpace''.
  79. * And, of course, let us not forget the reviled figure of [[TheWesley Wesley Crusher]], on ''[[StarTrekTheNextGeneration Star Trek: The Next Generation]]''. Data, however, managed to avoid the most irritating features of robottiness.
  80. ** Data was, however, irritating in his FishOutOfWater act, which having the entire [[TheOtherWiki Wikipedia]] in his head, as well has living among humans for many years, was ''way'' overdone.
  81. *** It makes sense if he had [[TheOtherWiki Wikipedia]] for a brain. Human interaction probably wasn't notable enough.
  82. *** Probably counted as original research, too.
  83. ** Taken to extremes in ''StarTrekInsurrection'' when Data is paired up with a cute kid (who also has a cute pet) for a really lame knockoff of the boy and robot "find humanity" relationship from Terminator 2.
  84. * Naomi Wildman in ''StarTrekVoyager'', despite being very cute and helping save the ship at one point, seemed to avoid the negative consequences of being such a trope. Per the trope, spent most of her time hanging out with the robot-analogue Seven of Nine. Possibly by being a MoralityPet.
  85. * Sharply parodied in ''{{MST3K}}'', with Timmy Bobby Rusty (Paul Chaplin), as Dr. Forrester tries to boost the show's lagging ratings.
  86. * Subverted in [[TheSarahConnorChronicles Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles]]. There are robots. And there are kids (well, teenagers). In fact, one of the characters is a ''robot kid''... a murderous, conscienceless, futuristic death machine robot kid, that is. Cute ain't in it.
  87. ** Also turns up awesomely in ''{{Terminator}} II: Judgment Day''.
  88. [[/folder]]
  90. [[folder:Video Games]]
  91. * Subverted in ''{{Persona 3}}'', where the cast is joined by cute grade schooler Ken Amada and RobotGirl Aegis -- Ken turns out [[spoiler:to have joined you to [[YouKilledMyFather exact bloody vengeance on his mother's killer]], another member of the party]], and Aegis is [[EmotionlessGirl emotionless]] and borders on [[StalkerWithACrush stalking]] the main character -- [[spoiler:and is also a sleeper agent implanted by a human villain who eventually uses her to subdue the rest of you]].
  92. ** There's also Pharos, who could ''hypothetically'' be constructed as cute... If he wasn't also extremely [[CreepyChild eerie-looking]], [[SpiritAdvisor visible only to the main character]], and tends to teleport into your room at night to offer you cryptic foretellings about the [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt end of the world]]... [[spoiler:Not to mention that he's also the herald of the AnthropomorphicPersonification of death.]]
  93. * ''MetalGearSolid 4'' manages to include Sunny (the kid) and the Metal Gear MK II (the robot) from the outset. And remains ''deadly serious'' throughout.
  94. * ''Game/MegaMan'' and ''AstroBoy'' [[RobotKid are cute kids and robots at the same time]]. That doesn't stop them from [[BadassAdorable kicking massive amounts of ass]], mind you.
  95. * As of "Touched", the WarioWare series has had many, many cute kids (9-Volt, Ashley, Kat, and Anna) and a robot (Mike, the Karaoke Robot). Subverted in that WarioWare [[WidgetSeries isn't even remotely trying to be serious.]]
  96. * ''BitTrip Runner'' saw the arrival of Junior Melchkin and Radbot as part of Commander Video's freshly formed FiveManBand. Radbot just happpens to be TheBigGuy of the bunch.
  97. [[/folder]]
  99. [[folder:Web Comics]]
  100. * ''TheCyantianChronicles'': In spades. And more lovable for it.
  101. ** The cute kids (or should I say "cubs") are easy to spot. The robots aren't as common, but there are the oh so cute Familiars. And the smaller forms of certain Xaibars.
  102. [[/folder]]
  104. [[folder:Web Original]]
  105. * In ''UnlikelyEden'' Buttons is a giant robot teddy bear who spends a great deal of time with the protagonists who just happen to be [[SuperSoldier cute kids]].
  106. [[/folder]]
  108. [[folder:Western Animation]]
  109. * Because of a film option taken out on the Human Torch (which never materialized), one animated version of ''Series/TheFantasticFour'' had to replace him with "H.E.R.B.I.E. the Robot".
  110. ** Lampshaded in one issue of the comic, when Reed Richards is caught building it and says he's doing it because he's sick of being asked where it is.
  111. * Parodied in ''SouthPark,'' when Cartman sent himself 700 years into the future to become the "time child" with his sidekick, a robotic dog whom he hates and tries to sell.
  112. ** Then there's the episode where he poses as a the 'Awesome-mo 4000', initially in order to prank Butters, but later to steal some embrassing tape Butters was planning on blackmailing Cartman with. And yet, Butters is a very cute kid (being driven to blackmail only because of how evil [[CompleteMonster Cartman]] is.)
  113. * In ''TheIronGiant'' the cute kid Hogarth Hughes discovers and befriends a giant robot who being both gigantic and robotic naturally attracts fear and ire from the 50s townsfolk and the inevitable nuclear angst ridden government agents and military that follow. It should be noted that the movie was based on the 1968 novel by Ted Hughes -- ''The Iron Man'' -- but the the trope is pushed much harder in the movie than the original novel. And it is ''[[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming great]]''.
  114. ** Unfortunately, few people saw it in theaters; its disappointing box office (esp. relative to its tremendous cost) reinforced conventional wisdom that [[AllAnimationIsDisney only one studio]] can succeed with animated features.
  115. * Blitzy Zulander from ''The Bots Master'', who is not only a skilled pilot due to her playing so many video games (and at only 10 years old), but also apparently designed and built the protagonists' gigantic combining robot, Jungle Fiver, from ''nearly scratch''.
  116. * ''{{Transformers}}'', in any incarnation, had the Cute Kid in some form or another, though it didn't really start becoming noticeable until ''TransformersArmada''. Interestingly, the first known character to truly fit this tripe, Wheelie, was a Cute Kid ''and'' a Cute Robot... and yet, was a Transformer, and not a human like the others were.
  117. ** ''TransformersAnimated'' averted this. While it did have a cute kid in the form of Sari, the fandom found her relatively acceptable. [[spoiler: And then she turned out to be a cute kid ''and'' a robot.]]
  118. * ''BatmanBeyond'' gave rise to a short-lived spin-off called ''TheZetaProject'' about a shapeshifting robot and his wise-cracking 14-year-old girl sidekick.
  119. * In ''[[{{MASK}} M.A.S.K.]]'', Scott Trakker (son of the series' main character) built his own RobotBuddy, T-Bob; they remain inseparable throughout the series.
  120. ** This troper warns you to be very wary of the NostalgiaFilter that comes with thinking about M.A.S.K. You might remember the awesome theme song and action of the show. Hell, you might actually want to start e-baying the original toys. However, much to my agonizing surprise, I completely forgot about the annoying kid and his robot. So much in fact that in hindsight, this show is barely watchable. YMMV though, but basically every time Venom gets away, is because Scott and T-Bot are stupid enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. AAAAARGH!
  121. * Subverted in ''YakkityYak''. Penelope, the cute kid, ''is'' a robot.
  122. * In ReBoot Phong tried to invoke this trope by designing a robot friend for Enzo. However Andraia was introduced in that episode so the robot friend was never built.
  123. [[/folder]]
  124. ----
  134. [PlayingWith.CuteKidsAndRobots]
  136. '''Basic Trope''': A science fiction show features a cute kid and an adorable robot.
  137. * '''Straight''': The cast of Space Travelers 5000 includes a 12 year old boy named Michael, and a cute robot sidekick named Rob 2.0. Their only purpose is comedy relief.
  138. * '''Exaggerated''': Although Space Travelers 5000 was meant to be a serious sci-fi action series, the 12 year old boy named Michael and his robotic buddy Rob 2.0 [[BreakoutCharacter steal the show]].
  139. * '''Justified''': The kid is the child of one of the space travelers and couldn't very well be left behind. The robot was designed specifically to perform a specific task vital to the completion of their quest.
  140. * '''Inverted''': A cast of cute kids and robots is complemented with the token scientist and ex-marine.
  141. * '''Subverted''': The show Space Travelers 5000 announces that they will be adding new characters the next season, the captain's 10 year old nephew and his robotic companion. When the new characters arrive, they anything but cute. The kid is a kid genius who is more like [[WiseBeyondTheirYears an adult in a child's body]] and the robot is a ten foot tall killer robot.
  142. * '''Double Subverted''': The very next episode, both characters suffer CharacterDerailment, and the nephew becomes a BrattyHalfPint and the robot becomes a BeleagueredAssistant.
  143. * '''Parodied''': The new characters are so popular, the network releases a SpinOff about a group of space travelers that are made up of nothing but cute kids and their robots.
  144. * '''Deconstructed''': Bringing along a kid and his cute robot companion on incredibly dangerous space exploration missions may not have been the best idea. The kid is constantly being kidnapped by aliens and the robot seems to be suffering from some serious malfunction and endangering the crew every couple of episodes. The crew has a vote, and decide to kick out the kid and robot as soon as they can, and end up leaving them stranded on a deserted asteroid.
  145. * '''Reconstructed''': The kid and robot actually turn out to be valuable members of the team. The kid may be young and gets himself into trouble from time to time, but he is surprisingly bright and is always coming up with great solutions to whatever problems the crew seems to be in. The robot may be cute, but he is loyal and serves several useful purposes on the ship. The kid and robot are treated like a part of the family and the crew cannot imagine functioning without them.
  146. * '''Zig Zagged''': ???
  147. * '''Averted''': No kids or robots ever appear. If they do, they never join the main cast.
  148. * '''Enforced''': "We need to add some kids and cute robots to attract a wider audience."
  149. * '''Lampshaded''': ???
  150. * '''Invoked''': The captain of the crew specifically looks for a cute kid and robot to add to the crew to lift up everybody's spirits.
  151. * '''Defied''': The captain will simply not allow any kids or robots to join his crew. It's too dangerous.
  152. * '''Discussed''': ???
  153. * '''Conversed''': "I'm tired of these shows always adding cute kids and adorable robots to the cast who do nothing but annoy us."
  154. ----
  155. Back to CuteKidsAndRobots
  156. ----
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