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"*Huff* *Huff* *Huff*"
—Oon, the magically animated armour from Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors

A robot is fleeing, or just running, and, what's this? It's out of breath?!?! Ooops, it banged its head! We'd better put a bandage on that!

The trope for robots whose creators forgot they were robots, just didn't care, or thought it would be useful to give mechanical characters unexplained human traits, perhaps as a way of humanising them.

Not to be confused with Ridiculously-Human Robots, where the traits are deliberate and are all about making the robot as human as possible. This trope is about the more obvious robots. Compare I Would Say If I Could Say.

Examples of Forgot He Was a Robot include:


  • Lampshaded in Star Blazers. Just for the heck of it, I.Q.-9 programs himself to be able to hiccup, like a human being. Then he can't figure out how to get rid of them, and spends the HIC! whole HIC! episode HIC! hiccuping HIC!
  • Not exactly a robot, but Alphonse Elric tends to make weeping or out-of-breath noises a lot. He's a disembodied soul bound to a suit of armour. He should not be able to do this. Then again, he shouldn't be able to walk or talk either, hmmm….
    • Possibly justified as being akin to phantom limb—he knows if he's putting effort into something, he should be breathing.

Comic Books

  • In one issue of Marvel's Machine Man, the eponymous robotic hero is in his human guise of insurance investigator Aaron Stack at a company party. One of his co-workers spikes the punch, and Aaron drinks some -- and promptly gets drunk!


Live Action TV

  • The robots on Mystery Science Theater 3000 switch between needing air and not needing air, depending on the situation. Remember the mantra...
    • Like C-3P0, Tom sometimes had references in the script to smiling or, worse, having a look in the eyes... that he hasn't got. To say nothing of them eating, their apparent ability to cry, Gypsy's inexplicable fixation with Richard Basehart, etc.
  • The Doctor Who episode "Destiny of the Daleks" opens with robot dog K-9 suffering some sort of malfunction that sounds like coughing. The Doctor teases him about it. "Laryngitis! Now why would a robot have laryngitis? I mean, what do you need it for? Romana, the dog's got laryngitis! Romana?"

Table Top Games

  • In Dungeons and Dragons, constructs are immune to a lot of things because of their type. Eberron's Warforged, being made for player characters (and intelligent unlike almost all other constructs), lack many of the immunities for balance purposes.


  • Transformers has this so often, and in so many different ways, that it has enough examples for an incredibly lengthy list, with various instances of coughing and breathing being the most blatantly odd/difficult to explain away examples.

Video Games

  • Subverted in Borderlands: Some of the more neurotic Claptraps (for example, the one outside Dr. Zed's surgery in New Haven) can be heard saying, "Oh my god, I can't breathe!" then following it up with, "It's just a recording!".
  • Wheatley is somehow out of breath after being chased by a bird in Portal 2.
    • Somewhat justified, because he is an Aperture creation. If they want their robots to sound out of breath (or hell, even feel they are) they damn sure can make it so.
  • In the Mega Man X games, when X (or Zero) is low on energy, he clutches his chest and pants hard.
  • In the Mega Man series, Mega Man blinks every few seconds.
    • In Mega Man 8 and Mega Man and Bass, Mega Man clutches his neck and starts panting. Bass does something similar.
    • In ZX Advent, Grey complains that the heat is unbearable and starts panting in one level.
    • The examples from X and later may be justified in that the robots are incredibly human like or, in Mega Man Legends' case, the people are all artificial humans and the ones that aren't, the System, are similar to Reploids.
  • Because all the squadmates in Mass Effect 2 have the same animations, Legion will often be hunched over and out of breath, or leaning against something, scratching, rolling its shoulders, or whatever else organic squadmates do. Considering that Legion's terminal was made specifically to interact with organics, it is justified in some respects that it would act like them.
    • Also, synthetic enemies will panic if you light them on fire (or attach a stickybomb to them) just like organics. Strangely, in Mass Effect 3, all three main types of enemies ought to be immune to this reaction (geth are actual robots, while Husks and the indoctrinated Cerberus troops are controlled by cybernetic implants), but aren't.
  • In The Old Republic, Sith Warrior players are fully capable of Force Choking a droid. How, precisely, one suffocates a robot is not really explored.
  • Not robots but undead, the draugr in Skyrim (basically barrow wights) can frequently be heard breathing. Then again, some of them do use the same Shouts as the main character, and probably need air to use them.

Web Comics

  • Justified in Freefall, Florence explains to a robot how while it doesn't need to breathe, the cooling fan in its body needs air. Therefore, robots need air, too.
  • Some robots in the universe of Schlock Mercenary can feel pain. Lampshaded by one, who mentions they were told feeling pain would cut maintainance costs... but not how much it would hurt.

Western Animation

  • Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors has Oon, the magically animated armour, who apparently breathes (though only when running).
  • Captain Future has both an obvious robot and an android in his crew. In one scene where there is a risk of depressurization in the ship, the latter is seen wearing a space helmet.
  • Taken to the extreme in Futurama, when the Brain Spawn wipes intelligence from the planet:

 Bender: Fry, help me! My heart stopped beating!

Fry: You don't have a heart; you're a robot.

Bender: Sure ... right. Robot! (looks at his arms) Oh, Fry! My skin's all dry and clanky.

Fry: Well, yeah. Robots are made of metal.

Bender: Am I a robot?

Fry: Bender, if this is some kind of scam, I don't get it. You already have my power of attorney. (leaves)

Bender: Fry! (Gasp!) My skin!

  • The Simpsons parodies this with a robot running from a burning scientist's lab, saying "Why, Why was I programmed to feel pain!?"
  • Transformers in all incarnations go back and forth on the scale of humanness constantly. They can survive in space but they can make breathing noises. They endure great damage and don't act like they're in any pain but other times they get hit in the face and show about as much pain as a human. They have no blood (with their fuel, Energon, being Symbolic Blood in incarnations where it runs throughout their bodies in liquid form - constantly seen in Transformers Prime.) but they blush red. The Transformers wiki has a page of considerable size dealing with the matter.
  • An episode of Samurai Jack featured a group of metal-eating robots who, of course, forgot they were robots (thanks to synthetic skin). They're defeated when, in their frenzy, they tear the skin off each other, and, seeing metal, consume each other.
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