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Life makes life, as we all know. In other cases, life makes artificial life. This trope, however, continues that cycle as those artificial lifeforms make their own artificial lifeforms.

There's a variation where the artificial lifeform (usually a machine) is self-replicating, a... Self Replicating Machine, if you will. It's usually the domain of Nanobots everywhere, which is what makes them so dangerous.

And just when you thought Turned Against Their Masters was an exclusive Human/Robot trope, this may also lead too Robots Enslaving Robots.

May show Mechanical Evolution or Clone Degeneration. See also, Creating Life.

Has nothing to do with a Recursive Reality or Recursive Fanfiction.

Examples of Recursive Creators include:



  • Multiplicity: Overworked guy creates clone to do his work for him. Overworked clone creates clone...
  • In an Israeli Film called OMG, I'm a Robot?!, the Ridiculously-Human Robots developed by a secret IDF division, Including the Main Character, Danny Bernstein, can and did reproduce. Danny himself managed to impregnate his Human girlfriend, and the robot's programming as Friends to All Living Things is used by the Janitor Big Bad to create an orbital weapon that is designed to kill everyone that wants to harm him or his daughter. Danny himself cannot be used as the satellite's "brain" because his mind is not clean.
  • The android girl (called synthetics) in Alien Resurrection is from a line of synthetics designed by synthetics rather than humans.


  • The plot of Feet of Clay revolves around golems creating a "king" golem. It doesn't go so well.
  • The eponymous (and autonomous) spaceships of Fred Saberhagen's Berserker series.
  • The Hypotheticals from Robert Charles Wilson's novels Spin and Axis are of the Von Neumann type seen below
  • The short Novel Model II by Philip K. Dick has a handful of US Marines find out what has been happening since they gave the deadly robots built to fight off the new URSS the capability to reproduce simply because they were so dangerous nobody wanted to work on them anymore. It's not pleasant.

Live Action TV

Newspaper Comics

Web Comics

  • A Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal strip shows a couple of scientists coming to the conclusion that we are in a simulated reality. The last panel has a pair of alien scientists celebrating that our universe broke the record for how long it took a simulated reality to moon them.
  • Freefall's Mozart Boids (robot birds) are this.
  • Stanislaw Lem's "constructors" (Mortal Engines (not that one), The Cyberiad).
  • The Dingbots from Girl Genius can create other Dingbots, but each successive generation is stupider and weaker. There are only about three originals ("Queenie Dingbot", "Prime A", and "Prime B") from which the best can be made directly.
  • Similarly, in Gunnerkrigg Court the golems and then robots continued manufacturing more of themselves after their creator's death. Because many of his initial designs were beyond their understanding, subsequent generations were greatly simplified.
  • Acibek in Dominic Deegan: Oracle For Hire created his replacement before his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In Spacetrawler, this is how the Mihrrgoots mastered nanotechnology.

 King: For technology we simply build robots which build smaller robots which build smaller robots... and on until they can build machinery as tiny as we need.

Western Animation

  • The Multiplicity example is replicated in a Simpsons Halloween Episode, parodying the former.
  • A good one from Transformers Generation One. Wheeljack creates tbe Dinobots from scratch. Years later Grimlock, leader of the Dinobots created the Technobots from scratch. Arguably all of the Transformers count since they were given life by Vector Sigma, a computer, and built by the Quintessons. Not sure if they're fully machine though.

Real Life

  • The entire idea behind The Singularity is that a chain of self-replication among machines of super-human computational ability will render the world completely unrecognizable.
  • The entire premise behind the Von Neumann machines.
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