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The Krells, in the insolence of their success, tried to usurp the power of God. And were destroyed.
—The Apocalyptic Log of C.X. Ostrow in the novelization of Forbidden Planet

Science is a religion-- an evil, godless religion that isn't just Bad and Wrong, but unethical by nature. And like all religions, it has sins--or, rather, "virtues". These are the sins that a Mad Scientist commits in his quests For Science!. If... no, when these are violated something will Go Horribly Wrong and the transgressor will receive karmic punishment in accordance to the sin, increasing in evil as the number rises. No exceptions.

Proud scientists will actively try to check off as many of these sins as they can as a proof of their scientific genius.

  1. Automation.
  2. Making something, anything, with Potential Applications.
  1. Genetic Engineering and Transhumanism in general
  1. Immortality when it doesn't revive the dead.
  2. Creating Life.
  3. Cheating Death.
  4. Usurping God.


Despite the name, magic often considers these sins as well, the kind it is capable of but must never be used.

Examples of Scale of Scientific Sins include:


The First Sin of Automation

Film

  • This is pretty much the backstory to The Matrix.
  • And also in The Terminator, particularly in the second and third movie.
  • I, Robot. See Asimov's entry for literature below.

Literature

  • Dune - where humanity was enslaved by its own machines and who outlawed anything approaching sentient machines on pain of death. In the Duneverse's religion, this is an actual sin. "Thou shall not create a machine to the likeness of Man" is their main commandement
  • Council Wars: Creating new AIs is the only thing that is banned.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation universe combines sins 1, 2, 4 and 5 to produce his famous Three Laws and Zeroth Law Rebellion.

Live Action TV

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40000: the Iron Men. Bit humanity in the rear in the form of a galaxy-wide dark age.
    • Ever since building a machine with artificial intelligence is outlawed. This is gotten around with servitors: vat grown or mind wiped humans with cybernetic implants.

Video Games


The Second Sin of Hubris

Film

Live Action TV

  • On Doctor Who, any exotic technology that fixes Earth's big problems by solving energy crises, eliminating air pollution, or giving us an effective non-Doctor defense against aliens is an alien plot to destroy us.

Tabletop Games

Videogames

The Third Sin of GE and Transhumanism

Anime and Manga

  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, the creation of Artificial Mages is explicitly banned. This is one of the reasons why Jail Scaglietti, a Mad Scientist with a passion for biological manipulation, is considered an interdimensional criminal.
    • Interestingly, the TSB only comes down hard on the people that built and commissioned artificial mages/cyborgs. The creations themselves are only punished if they're found to have been gleefully kicking dogs or something. Otherwise, they're treated same as any other person, with no limits on what they're allowed to do. Also interestingly, the majority of these created beings seem to turn out to ultimately be pretty nice people; turning out as well as they do when built and raised by insane women and/or mad scientists, one has to wonder how well off they'd be if the process WASN'T illegal and thus only used by Mad Scientist types.
      • Although, given the many, many flaws, ethical problems, and the fairly stinking big, obvious logical problem inherent in the Super Soldier trope, it's not particularly shocking that the TSAB is Genre Savvy enough to want to prevent this kind of thing going on.
  • This is ultimately the goal of the Human Instrumentality Project in Neon Genesis Evangelion, and it is most certainly portrayed in a fairly negative light. Of course, the scientificity of this sin is somewhat questionable.
  • Aside from the ghouls, Hellsing has The Major's Body. Schrödinger (Schroedinger) may and/or may not count
  • This trope is extensively played with in Ghost in the Shell - the impact of extensive technical progress in the area of AI and cybernetics on society forms the premise of the series.
  • Franken Fran: No explanation needed here.

Literature

  • Shadowrun universe books feature direct applications of 3.3 - magically active beings gradually lose their magic with increasing degree of cybernetics.
  • Sergej Luk'yanenko's Линия Грёз and Императоры Иллюзий, set in the Master of Orion universe, feature cybernetics as the defining trait of the Meklon race. Humans who follow the Meklons, cyborgs (yet partially human) and the Mechanist Sect (striving to become fully cybernetic lifeforms) are depicted with different degrees of sanity. The protagonist notes that the Deus Ex Machina immortality humanity has obtained is yet better than advancing mechanisation.

Live Action TV

  • On Star Trek, human genetic engineering is banned, and most of the products of it are dangerously deranged.
    • This is a major point about the origins of KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!
    • The Dominion, Federation's Evil Counterpart, is basically a huge genetic engineering society. Jem'Hadar were created from nothing, Vorta bred from some other form; and it's stated that The Founders were once humanoids but genetically engineered themselves into shape shifters. It is even supposed that their close-mindedness is the price they payed for their new body abilities.
    • Dr Julian Bashir is a genetic augment who turned out relatively well. His case is sympathetic: he was a special needs kid before the augmentation and has a stable personality. To bring the point home, he visits his fellow augments in a couple of different episodes and while they all possess extreme intelligence like him, they also suffer from mental defects and/or personality disorders and are, regardless, banned from having meaningful careers... Then again, the only reason Dr. Bashir has a meaningful and otherwise legal career is that he lied about being a genetic augment. And the genetic augmentation is the exact reason Section 31 wants him for themselves.
    • The flaws are explicitly due to flaws in their black-market augmentations. It isn't a reason for the ban (which is explicitly just Khan), but a result of it.
  • Kit Pedler, a writer/scientific advisor for Doctor Who in 1966, sincerely believed that Cybernetics Eat Your Soul, and was worried that nobody would listen to his warnings. So he invented the Cybermen, as a chilling tale of things to come. When Earth's twin planet Mondas drifts away from the Sun, the people turn to cyber-augmentation as a desperation move, he only way to save their race. But it doesn't matter why they did it; a sin against the natural order can only have one result. So they inevitably became soulless, emotionless automatons. Of course this didn't come across in most stories; they were just scary, hard-to-kill bad guys who came up with insanely complicated and devious plots to convert everyone else into more Cybermen.
    • In the new series, the re-envisioned Cybermen are more straightforward Body Horror than Cybernetics Eat Your Soul. They're designed with "emotion inhibitor" chips from the start; without these, the realization of what they'd become would lead to head asplody. The creator of these new Cybermen is forced to become one earlier than he'd planned, but, other than that, there's no real penalty for tampering with the natural order.
  • Also on Doctor Who, the Daleks were a Genetic Engineering horror story. The Kaled people were being mutated by a millennium-long nuclear/biological/chemical war. One of their scientists, Davros, came up with (or stole) the brilliant idea of accelerating the mutations to see where they would finally end up. And, while at it, he couldn't pass up the opportunity to improve on his creations, making them stronger and more determined. In one version of the story, he was explicitly trying to turn the Kaled race into gods, based on a prophecy he'd read. In all versions, the result was the Daleks, whose sole motivation was to exterminate any lesser (i.e., non-Dalek) forms of life. Starting with Davros himself.

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40000, the Primarchs and the Astartes. Roughly fifty-fifty split on the good-evil divide, but the bad fifty definitely left their mark.
    • There's a trend here, isn't there?
    • The whole point of the Chaos.
  • Shadowrun universe features different examples of this trope:
    • Genetically engineered animals
    • Cybernetically enhanced animals
    • Massive scale human cybernetics. For the sake of balance Cybernetics Eat Your Soul - any mechanical and electronic modifications chip away at magic-defining character traits and at the character's humanity score. This includes the creation of cyberzombies. Those are not undead, but literally corpses walking by their artificial parts, to the extreme of an artificially alive brain in a weapon-grade android body.

Video Games

  • Bioshock. The gene-altering substance ADAM and the Plasmids and Gene Tonics that resulted from it. By themselves, they're not all bad, provided that the user doesn't splice ADAM too much and become addicted- or you're the main characters; however, the greed of both Fontaine and Ryan, coupled with the measures they were prepared to take to create a monolopy (The Little Sisters and the Big Daddies, both of which were horribly altered and mutilated for the sake of gathering ADAM) turns this into a straight example.
  • Many of the mooks (and some of the bosses) you face in Mother 3 are either unnatural crosses of animal species (eg., Cattlesnake, Batangutan, Kangashark) or mechanised animals (eg., Steel Mecharilla). They only exist because Porky deemed regular animals as uncool, and so had his Pigmask army to alter them genetically.
  • Deus Ex Human Revolution focuses on this as its primary setting. Whether or not human augmentation is evil is up for the player to decide, but it does make the world worse to a degree.

Web Comics

  • The El Goonish Shive universe makes some sort of Genetic Engineering easy, given some of its non-human (but not alien) residents. Still, Project Lycanthrope starts up to make weird hybrids to go on missions and assassinate. Before America Saves the Day, though, the intended target (Damien) shows up, 'liberates' (read: enslaves) the results, and kills everyone else save one. Note that in an alternate universe, one of the Project Lycanthrope products is hinted to be the reason it's now ruled by an Evil Overlord.
  • Crimson Dark shows humanity's way from prosthetics to augmentation. While there are laws to prevent Ghost in the Shell scenarios, at least one side of the in-universe conflict employs literal cases of Cybernetics Eat Your Soul - technically dead human bodies, augmented and modified beyond recognition, held alive by said augmentations with conscience replaced by AI, referred in-universe as JAKs.

Web Original

  • Pretty much Jobe Wilkins' raison d'etre in the Whateley Universe. He has genetically engineered a synthetic Sidhe that is essentially a dark elf hottie. He has invented serums that can turn people into transhuman monsters... and he has used them on people who annoyed him. He has invented a serum that gives people strength, endurance, and healing abilities... by turning them into what amounts to feral orcs who are put to work in his father's mines.

The Fourth Sin of Anti-Thanatosis

Anime and Manga

  • Hellsing - We don't know how you did it, but being seemingly human and the same age for over 50 years is quite an achievement, Doctor.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion gives us the Mass Production Evangelions.

Literature

  • Sergej Luk'yanenko's Линия Грёз and Императоры Иллюзий, set in the Master of Orion universe, feature an explanation to the longevity of major human figures with the A-Than technology - the individual in question (not automatically human) receives a scan, most like a full-body checkpoint in gaming terms. Later memories are constantly transmitted to the company. On death, a certain signal is triggered, leading to the production of a new body, which retains the memories. This has some interesting connotations:
    • Recent memories can and will be used for surveillance purposes.
    • Faking the death triggered signal nets you a body in the "vegetable state". If the original dies afterwards, the previously "vegetable" body will nigh-instantly come to sentience. As Arthur, the A-Than Mega Corp heir notes, the Church gave A-Than their blessing because they had "scientifically proven the existence of immortal souls".
    • Mind-wipe technology in one case produced 2 independent souls, who on encounter consider each other brothers. Their appearances and behaviour patterns make them for most ends and purposes identical twins. And actually clones of the A-Than owner, their alleged father.

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40000 The Astartes are long lived, though not immortal and tending to die a glorious death in battle before old age becomes an issue. Various Imperial nobles, Inquisitors and members of the Adeptus Mechanicus hierarchy survive an awful long time, and it is here that the problems are most pronounced.

Video Games

  • Bioshock, for a change, does not play this as a bad thing. Directly, anyway. This is what allows the player, Jack, to respawn without problems. Of course this technology was kept in the exclusive hands of Ryan and his family, a sign of his corruption.
  • Jacob Crow in Time Splitters: Future Perfect creates the Timesplitters as part of an attempt to gain immortality.
  • Marquis DeSinge in Tales of Monkey Island.
  • The Dig has this and another example below, interestingly the sin with less scale came later: In their latest discovery, the Cocytan aliens found a way to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence to live as immortal energy beings, when their entire race ascends they find that they are doomed to become mere expectators, unable to build or create anything; worse, they become unable to return, at least until the heroes arrive.

The Fifth Sin of Autogenesis

Anime and Manga

  • Fullmetal Alchemist (first anime) has Homunculi, who score a 4.5 being both botched resurrections and attempts at creating life.
    • Father in the manga. The poor Xerxesians...
  • Hellsing has a backstory in which the Major is nearly killed during the battle of Stalingrad, but is found and made a cyborg by the Doktor. Not only that, but he's now pretty much immortal.
  • The creation of Evas might be this, but how they are created is never properly explained.

Film

Literature

  • ~Frankenstein's Monster~ - though debatable, since the Monster was created as a blank slate in the book.
    • Although Frankenstein itself may not fully apply, the story did go on to spawn dozens of B movies that featured Mad Scientists attempting to resurrect people, keep body parts alive, create life from nothing, halt the aging process, etc. etc., usually with horrible results. The reason why things go wrong in these movies usually have more to do with man being punished for tampering in God's domain (or man being punished for using his Science for evildoing) than with any shortcomings on the part of the science itself.

Live Action TV

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40000. The Primarchs and Astartes might qualify, the Imperium definitely created the Life Eater, and it's entirely possible, if not likely, that the Imperium has created much more.

Videogames

  • Bioshock depending on how you want to look at it, Jack, a normal baby made into a fast growing Tyke Bomb aimed at his father, sure did make his "creator" Fontaine regret doing so. Albeit, this because the child became a Phlebotinum Rebel against his villainous creators.
  • Tales of the Abyss hits about a 5.5 here. Fomicry - the replication of any physical form - is all well and good until you start using it on biologicals and creating clones. Often imperfect clones. The first human replica ever created was flawed enough to be psychopathically insane and hugely powerful. Others fared less well, living short and torturous lives due to their "birth defects", or even being killed shortly after creation due to their imperfections.

Web Original

The Sixth Sin of Resurrection

Anime and Manga

  • Project F of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, which attempts to bring back the dead by creating a clone with the memories and personality of the original. As it's a subset of Artificial Mage research mentioned under Genetic Engineering, this is also banned by The Federation.
  • SEELE has a big problem with Gendou Ikari's apparent attempts at this in Neon Genesis Evangelion.
    • Mainly because it got in the way of their attempts.
  • Hellsing gets a 9 out of 10 for cheating death, gaining immortality (kind of), and creating a transhuman with The Major. Also, for the failed attempt that is the SHE. Doc must be so proud.
  • This is THE plot point in Fullmetal Alchemist. Any attempts to bring back the dead are bound to fail and anyone attempting it will lose a body part as a Karmic Punishment.
  • Bleach: Mad Scientist Espada Szayel sees scientific pursuit as seeking "perfection" which can only be achieved by finding a way to cheat death, something he believes he's achieved with his resurrection and therefore feels he's achieved the perfect form in science. Fellow Mad Scientist Captain Kurotsuchi strenuously disagrees with this requirement For Science! by proving Szayel hadn't quite succeeded in cheating death, after all.

Film

  • Herbert West in Re-Animator has a serum that brings the dead back to life, which he uses on anything dead he comes across. He also makes a few interesting attempts at create new life, with varied results.

Literature

  • Sergej Luk'yanenko's Линия Грёз and Императоры Иллюзий again. The A-Than technology is more accurately a buyable attempt on immortality by humans, but other species use their varieties of it as a single second chance or reward for outstanding merits.
    • One of the most dreaded punishments known to man is multiple death - you are resurrected to be killed by torture several times. Reserved for high treason and treason against humankind.
    • The A-Than Mega Corp owner, whose power rivals the Emperor's, because his presence literally makes A-Than work, offers infinite life (as in unlimited resurrections on the house) as ultimate incentive and infinite death (as multiple death above, but done as long as the Mega Corp stands, and that's in centuries) as ultimate punishment for his mercenaries.
  • Wild Cards universe:
    • Demise, a projecting telepath. Projects the memory of his own death to kill. Demise had drawn the Black Queen (in the setting's Superpower Lottery, 90% of those afflicted by the Mass Empowerment Event just die horribly) and was treated with the experimental Trump cure. He Came Back Wrong.
  • H.P. Lovecraft's series of short stories Herbert West- Reanimator, on which the film was loosely based. Which ends with the titular doctor being torn to pieces by a small army of his creations though they take his head with them, and one of them is smart enough to reanimate the dead himself

Live Action TV

  • Star Trek , while future medical science is sophisticated enough that characters almost routinely come back from clinical death. However, some extreme attempts have fallen into this trope, such as Kira wanting her boyfriend, Vedek Bareil, to be rejuvenated by using artificial parts to replace decaying brain tissue. This is progressive and further replacements leave him less and less Bajoran till he asks to be allowed to die.
  • The Goa'uld sarcophagus from Stargate SG-1 can repair any injury, and revive the recently dead, but repeated use is addictive, and damaging to the psyche, and may be a contributing factor in why the Goa'uld are Always Chaotic Evil.
    • And being effectively immortal, they began eating their own offspring to prevent competition.
  • The resurrection gauntlets (the second, Weevil related one moreso than the original Risen Mitten) of Torchwood.
  • Averted and played straight in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Dawn revives their recently deceased mother while it is never seen it is implied it would have gone poorly. Buffy's resurrection on the other hand didn't have any major consequences except for the whole opening up the opportunity that The First needed to destroy the Slayer line, and take over the world thing.
    • Although being pulled out of Heaven is a bummer.
    • This concept was addressed in-universe when Willow tried to get Tara back after her death and was told that the reason why getting Buffy back was possible was that she died due to supernatural causes, where Tara (and Joyce) had both died normally.

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40000. Those who are interned in Space Marine Dreadnoughts aren't quite dead beforehand, but are certainly never the same again afterwards.
    • It all depends on how close they were to death. Those who suffered brain damage tend to mistake people for others, suffer memory loss, and in general act like hollow imitations of the original person. Those who didn't have their brains affected are almost as normal as any other Space Marine (even if they are kind of slow on the uptake) Davian Thule for example.
    • The Necrons (or rather their Necrontyr precursors) mix this with number four and a Deal With The C'Tan, having been reborn as soulless automatons after getting fed up of living short painful and powerless lives in a galaxy with Star Gods and the Old Ones.

Video Games

Web Comics

  • Girl Genius features resurrection as a major issue among royalty. To prevent eternal reigns death and resurrection are considered an abdication.

The Seventh Sin of Autodeification

Anime and Manga

  • Hellsing - He's everyvere und novere.
  • SEELE has a big problem with Gendou Ikari's apparent attempts at this in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Cause they wanted to do it. As with the previous sin. SEELE and Gendo tie with Doc from Hellsing for general Scientific Evilness, matching him sin for sin.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist. Human transmutation has aspects of this (see #6 above) and Truth was not amused by Father's plan.
  • Bleach: Aizen has been using shinigami science to attempt this. He's even been willing to steal the scientific achievements of others (especially Urahara's) in his pursuit of this.

Literature

Live Action TV

  • Stargate SG-1 : Proclaiming themselves gods is the villainous Goa'uld's main operating procedure.
    • Don't forget the Ori!
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine : Jem'Haddar and Vorta are genetically bred (see above) to regard Founders as gods.

Tabletop Games

  • Surprise, surprise, Warhammer 40000, albeit in an unconventional fashion: the Immortal God-Emperor of Man. The fallen Primarchs may also think of themselves this way, though they didn't elevate themselves to levels just shy of a Physical God.
    • Although to be fair to the old boy, he essentially made it extremely clear that he was just a (hyperpowered and nigh on invulnerable) man, not a god. You can thank the lackeys after his death who set him up as a new deity.
    • But those very same lackeys may have actually turned him into a deity, through the power of belief and due to how the Immaterium works.
    • Also, he may have known he WAS a god, but because he knew that the 40k verse runs on Clap Your Hands If You Believe he may have set out to stop any and all belief in gods in the galaxy as a way to kill of his rival gods.


Video Games

All of the Above

  • Genius: The Transgression incorporates almost the entire list into the Karma Meter. In order of severity Transgressions include: automation, minor transhumanism, making zombies, dangerous experimentation on humans, creating intelligence, deadly experimentation on humans, moderate transhumanism, very deadly experimentation, major transhumanism, raising the dead, genocide.
  • Notice a certain setting that has an example on every point of the list?
  • Eclipse Phase has checked off each of them, although number 7 was carried out by superintelligent AI's, the TITANs, who proceeded to forcibly upload many humans, reduce Earth to a blasted hellscape, and vanish through hyper-advanced wormhole gates. Most of them are considered routine everywhere except the Jovian Junta, although attempting to create another TITAN-style "seed AI" with unlimited potential is so illegal that if you attempt it you will be killed and of your backups will be wiped, and if your habitat doesn't take you down, Firewall will.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist The Big Bad accomplishes just about everything this list and even some of the good guys try a few.
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