Destroyed by their own creations? When have we seen this idea?

Discussion in 'Entertainment and Movie Talk' started by Jedi2016, Dec 29, 2011.

  1. Jedi2016

    Jedi2016 Sr Member

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    A thought came to me today, after someone on another board mentioned H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness.

    One of the key elements of that story is that the civilization was effectively wiped out by their own creations, in this case the Shoggoths.

    And, it's come up several other times since then, somewhat recently in regards to humans and their machines, a la The Terminator and The Matrix.

    But what other times have we seen this idea? I assume it's something fairly contemporary, since humans have only recently (within the last century) developed the ability to create things that are capable of destroying us (at this point it's limited to things like disease, but you get the point), so it seems less likely that earlier authors would even have conceived of the idea.

    I'm not sure what literary device this idea falls under, so it's difficult to just Google it, so I'm asking if anyone here has any other examples besides the ones I've noted of the "civilization wiped out by its own creation" stories. In particular, older ones such as Lovecraft or his contemporaries, or even earlier. Basically, I'm curious as to how old this idea is, and how often it's been used in fiction. This isn't for a paper or anything, just my own curiosity. :)
     
  2. SSgt Burton

    SSgt Burton Sr Member

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    I'll go with "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" by Harlan Ellison.

    World war breaks out between Russia, China and the United States. As the war progresses, the three nations create supercomputers to fight the war more efficiently.

    Eventually one computer becomes sentient and absorbs the other two. It wipes out humanity leaving four men and one woman.


    Kevin
     
  3. SmilingOtter

    SmilingOtter Master Member

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    Well, the original Frankenstein fits the bill.
     
  4. Kerr Avon

    Kerr Avon Master Member

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    Greek mythos? Titans overthrown by the Greek Gods?
     
  5. Jedi2016

    Jedi2016 Sr Member

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    Isn't it odd that I miss the most obvious ones.. lol. Maybe limiting myself too much by concentrating on contemporary literature and cinema.. hehe.
     
  6. Maelstrom

    Maelstrom Sr Member

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    Currently being destroyed by his own creations....

    George Lucas

    That is all.

    :)
     
  7. BAK55

    BAK55 Well-Known Member

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    If we're discussing robots or AI having gone bad, I'd have to say the grand daddy of them all would have to be R.U.R. (Rossum's Universl Robots) by Karl Capek. This play introduced the very word "robot" to the English language.
     
  8. Shade88

    Shade88 Well-Known Member

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    :lol You win the internet! :thumbsup
     
  9. Wolfie138

    Wolfie138 Well-Known Member

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    12 Monkeys.
     
  10. VelaNoon

    VelaNoon Active Member

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    In Minority Report the crime fighting system ends up arresting every single person that they think will commit a crime. Turns out many people were innocent.
     
  11. Colin Droidmilk

    Colin Droidmilk Sr Member

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    The theme has certain similarities with the Tower of Babel in Genesis, of course. While the tower itself didn't have the capacity for destruction, God's fear of man's technological potential to become as powerful as him caused him to ensure that the builders degenerated into confusion (if I were a religious man I'd honestly be wondering if He isn't up to the very same thing again right now!).
     
  12. Roland

    Roland Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    "The 6th Day" - Towards the end of the movie the bad guy Michael Drucker (Tony Goldwyn) is killed by his own creation: the clone of Adam Gibson (Arnold Schwarzenegger).
     
  13. Jet Beetle

    Jet Beetle Sr Member Gone but not forgotten.

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    HG Wells used this theme in most of his books - The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, Things to Come, Island of Dr Moreau - all of these dealt with problems of our own doing.
     
  14. Wes R

    Wes R Legendary Member

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    If you follow the Generation 1 Transformers cartoon there's several instances of it. The Transformers drive their creators from Cybertron, Unicron turns against his creator who has another creation turn against him in the cartoon later on.
     
  15. rodneyfaile

    rodneyfaile Sr Member

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    Roy Batty- "It's not an easy thing to meet your maker."
     
  16. SDGlyph

    SDGlyph Member

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    I see your HG Wells and invoke Shakespeare.

    In all seriousness this kind of thing has been a recurrent element in storytelling for a long, long time - perhaps not the specific "we created a monster!" version, which I believe is about as old as science fiction (e.g. HG Wells and Mary Shelley as noted above), but the underlying theme of hubris and biting off more than you can chew is very old indeed. The biblical Genesis story has been mentioned, and I'd throw in things like Arabian djinn/genie stories, and a lot of medieval deal-with-the-devil folktales.

    TVTropes, as ever, has a jumping-on point...
     
  17. PoopaPapaPalps

    PoopaPapaPalps Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    :lol He wakes up every morning and goes to work and lets out a heavy sigh.:lol
     
  18. Jedi2016

    Jedi2016 Sr Member

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    Plenty of small scale examples. How many large-scale? How many stories of entire civilizations wiped out?
     
  19. slave1pilot

    slave1pilot Sr Member

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    You are a little off there.
    God did not fear "man's technological potential to become as powerful as him"
    He destroyed the tower because man thought they could attain Godliness by their works.

    That's probably about as much "religion" as this forum will allow, so I'll stop.
     
  20. Kerr Avon

    Kerr Avon Master Member

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    Actually, didn't it turn out that a murder WAS going to take place, but in actuallity it was that ONE murder was committed by someone who who the system and could plant fake evidence because of it? I don't think there was anyone innocent other than the cop being framed.
     
  21. tcsmit29

    tcsmit29 Well-Known Member

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    I think it is an important theme in 2001 Space Odyssey as well. This story shows the evolution of man from his first use of a tool (apeman murders another with a bone) to the end when his tool becomes powerful enough to destroy him (Hal murders crew of Discovery).
     
  22. yodakiller1138

    yodakiller1138 Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Forbidden Planet. The krell were wiped out in a single day by their technology.
     
  23. Geniepants

    Geniepants Well-Known Member

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    Planet of the Apes? I beleive it was first revealed that humans were defeated by the apes they'd enslaved in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, and was more recently noted in the Meky Mark Apes and, of course, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (which I have yet to see but have heard nothing but good things about)
     
  24. NormanF

    NormanF Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    A lot of people say it is the other way around. The man just cannot stop * with his movies.
     
  25. thegreatgalling

    thegreatgalling Sr Member

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    The Matrix

    And also Star Trek, particularly TNG and the Eugenics Wars.
     
  26. Wes R

    Wes R Legendary Member

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    It's been a huge fuel for video games, especially in the early years. In the Mass Effect games it isn't the humans who had their creations turn on them but another race and those machines have been a scourge due to a rogue faction attacking people. In an odd twist the non rogue faction is tending the home worlds of their masters, who they drove away, as if waiting for them to return one day.
     
  27. Daemon324

    Daemon324 Active Member

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    I think part of the whole underlying theme is the God-complex, the belief that we can fool with anything and not get hurt in some way, and hubris.
    "Pride goes before the fall." - And lives. Sometimes.
     
  28. Infamous Lunchbox

    Infamous Lunchbox New Member

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    I think it's fair to say there are many examples going back thousands of years. Somebody pointed out the Greek mythos, but similar examples can be found in ancient Egyptian, Norse, Hindi, etc., mythology too. I think the idea of ones creation becoming powerful enough to destroy its creator is as old as stories, and myths, themselves. I think the reason is that humankind has always felt a certain helplessness in the face of nature. I think that, while we now find it a fearful thought, that long ago it gave us power. If we could "rise up to overcome the Gods", being their creations, then we were powerful; however now that we are "godlike" in our abilities compared to our distant ancestors we now fear our own creations. A mythology that has come full-circle in its meaning, and significance.

    At least that's how I see it. The "religious" context from before, considering Babel, could be argued either way, IMO, but I agree with the second poster that it was taken slightly out of context.
     
  29. Zombie_61

    Zombie_61 Master Member

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    With regards to "modern" literature, this is the first one that I thought of as well (I'm referring to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's novel).
     
  30. nick daring

    nick daring Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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  31. BIKERFETT

    BIKERFETT Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    The emperor by Vader

    The Stand and any Zombie flick that involves us creating a virus that then kills us.
     
  32. nickytea

    nickytea Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    You reap what you sow.

    You can trace any concept -- no matter how much it seems to be exclusively modern -- back to its essentially timeless thematic core. These universal themes transcend time and harmonize with the mysteries and questions we've always asked and will always ask.
     
  33. Wes R

    Wes R Legendary Member

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    I also think that this is an underlying fear humans have that they'll lose what control they've fought to gain in the universe.
     
  34. nick daring

    nick daring Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    "Unintended consequences" might the core issue with the theme.

    Nick
     
  35. Unlucky Berman

    Unlucky Berman New Member

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    Well, have you ever heard of Hesiod? It's a pretty old plot idea. Some allmighty being or god creates his own successors that will someday kill him and take his place. Kronos and the Titans in ancient greece and he himself did it with his "creator" Uranos.
     
  36. nick daring

    nick daring Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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  37. drusselmeyer

    drusselmeyer Well-Known Member

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    Well, there is Speilberg's A.I. The entire human species is destroyed by a fear of overpopulation and simultaneous need to feed carnal desire.

    Humanity turns dumber than Deckard.
     
  38. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    I say any film involving nuclear war would count. I mean we created nuclear weapons. A film about nuclear war falls under the same category, would it not?
     
  39. GotWookiee

    GotWookiee Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    In Minority Report, the problem was the three psychics used to make the "predictions" about the future didn't always agree with what the saw. The "minority report" was a record of this disagreement.

    Basically, the system did prevent murders from happening, but it also put away innocent people, too.
     
  40. Werstrooper

    Werstrooper Well-Known Member

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  41. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Would Kevin Flynn and CLU from TRON: Legacy count?
     
  42. Wes R

    Wes R Legendary Member

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    i think you see this theme all the time because it is the biggest fear humans tend to have that they can't control. Whether it's bioweapons, nukes, medicines gone bad, genetically modified foods, or robots going nuts there is that fear in the back of all our minds that makes us expect something to go wrong.
     
  43. Cross Bones

    Cross Bones New Member

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    I know you wanted older examples, but the film 9 is an example of this. If you haven't seen it, a scientist makes an artificial brain, but the military takes it before its personality is developed enough and straps it into an assembly line. The brain then makes the robots that wipe out civilization, leaving only a few sack-robot-thingy-dudes-with-soul-fragments-inside behind.
     
  44. MFP 2020

    MFP 2020 Sr Member

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    "He created KISS to destroy KISS and he lost."




    KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park
     
  45. Jeyl

    Jeyl Master Member

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    Are you sure the Eugenics Wars would qualify as a "Destroyed by their own creations" sort of situation? After all, it was an attempt to create a superior human race that succeeded. Maybe that was the plan of those who started the experiments? And despite post-Ceti Alpha Five's Khan, he wasn't a brutal man either.

    Scotty: There were no massacres under his rule.
    Spock: And very little freedom.
    McCoy: No wars until he was attacked.

    That's just what I got out of it.
     

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