Movies with Robotic Surgery in them?

Rob Surgery

Cadet
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Hi,

I am compiling a list of English language movies that feature robotic surgery, and I wonder if any of you can think of any films I should include on my list?

I am a sociologist at Brunel University London and I am doing a project on the relationship between robotic surgery and society. As part of this I am interested in how robotic surgery is represented in popular culture. So I want to analyse as many films as I can that feature robots conducting surgery. Many of the films I have found so far have only a small surgery scene (sometimes under a minute) so it is not easy to find them with internet searching.

If you can think of any examples it would be great if you could reply below, and if you are happy to write a short description of what happens that would be really appreciated. I am interested in films here, not TV shows or books. I am interested in both high profile and obscure movies. Many of the examples I have so far are from science fiction movies. I am keen to get more of these, but I am also really keen to know about any films set in the current day that feature robotic surgery as an everyday part of contemporary living (one of this things I find interesting is that films tend to use robotic surgery to show something is futuristic, even though robotic surgery has been used in hospital for over two decades).

Eventually I hope to write a paper based on the analysis for an academic journal. It will be open access, so available for anyone to read.

Below is the list I have so far (including notes on plot/robot use).

Any suggestions greatly appreciated, thanks,

Neil Stephens, Brunel University London


---------

Fantastic Voyage (1966): Submarine miniaturised with hero surgeons on board and injected into patient to navigate to brain to successfully remove blood clot

Silent Running (1972): Maintenance drone reprogrammed to successfully operate on injured leg of hero last survivor on spacecraft

Logan’s Run (1976): Logan undergoes robotic laser surgery on his face

Star Wars: Episode V - Empire Strikes (1980): Autonomous humanoid 2-1B surgical robot successfully attaches robotic arm to hero Luke Skywalker

Terminator (1984): Villain autonomous Terminator robot uses scalpel to successfully remove and fix its own forearm and eye

Total Recall (1990): Handheld guided robotic extractor akin to a single port endoscopic robot used to successfully remove tracking device from hero Douglas Quaid’s nose

5th Element (1997): The character Leeloo is reconstructed from cells within a bed-like tube with protective cover and robotic arms that assemble the entire body slice by slice followed by a tissue processing procedure.

Starship Troopers (1997): Two-armed autonomous robot successfully reconstructs deep wound on hero Johnny Rico’s thigh with robot and patient submerged in liquid filled tank

Star Trek: First Contact (1996): Villainous autonomous collective cyborg race the Borg capture and assimilate entire species through surgical intervention that transforms the assimilated individuals into more Borg cyborgs. They successfully assimilate over one hundred mostly human crew members of hero starship Enterprise.

Matrix (1999): Two handed manually operated device with internal visualisation is used to remove an electronic tracking bug from lead hero Neo

Minority Report (2002): Bespoke eye surgery robot controlled by backstreet surgeon using visualisation technology successfully performs double eye transplant on hero John Anderton

Die Another Day (2002): Hero James Bond is scanned and undergoes a blood test by autonomously operating robot to confirm his identity. Filming used Intuitive Surgical’s original Da Vinci system.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005): Autonomous humanoid 2-1B surgical robot conducts multiple procedures on heavily injured villain Aniken Skywalker/Darth Vader including adding robotic prosthetics

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009): Villainous autonomous robot known as ‘The Doctor’ - a six legged, two armed, spider-like robot - ordered to remove hero Sam Witwicky’s brain with arm-mounted circular saw to extract information. Sam escapes before an incision is made

Prometheus (2012): Patient directed but autonomously functioning operating table mounted robotic arms know as a Medpod conducts open surgery to successfully remove villain alien growing inside hero Elizabeth Shaw’s abdomen

Elysium (2013): Patient directed but autonomously functioning scanning, diagnosis, and contactless healing device used multiple times by heroes, villains and incidental characters

Ender’s Game (2013): Fully autonomous robot conducts unsuccessful neurosurgery on antagonistic supporting character Bonzo Madrid who sustained fatal injuries in a fight with hero Ender Wiggin. Filmed using the Raven II surgical robotics system.

Transcendence (2014): Artificial Intelligence (AI) expert Will Caster uploads his own mind into the internet to produce a human/computer AI sentient being that develops a secret underground base including tens of three-armed robotic surgical operating tables that inject nanotechnology into patients to both cure their disease, enhance them with superhuman strength and stamina, and integrate them into a collective AI. The first procedure shown heals a man’s injuries following a beating, and the second gives sight to a man born blind. Many other characters receive similar surgery but the operations are not depicted.

Spectre (2015): Seat mounted two armed robot programmed by villain Ernst Blofeld to drill into unanaesthetised hero James Bond’s lateral fusiform gyrus to destroy his memory of faces. The procedure is conducted unsuccessfully.


It has also been suggested to me I should look for robotic surgery scenes in Ghost in the Shell, X-Men: Origins, Terminator 2, Moon and I, Robot.
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
English language movies that feature robotic surgery
Question?
How do you define robotic surgery?
Is Gene splicing and DNA manipulation considered surgery?
Example:
Splice (2009): Clive and Elsa plan to create a human-animal hybrid that could revolutionize science. Their employers Joan Chorot of N.E.R.D. and William Barlow forbid them from doing this. Instead, they are to find and extract proteins used for commercial drug production from Fred and Ginger. Clive and Elsa, however, disobey their superiors and pursue their own agenda in secret, developing a viable prepubescent female creature. The film shows them using manipulators via computer control to splice genetic material.

One is an example of humans using robotics to perform surgery on a cell

Gene manipulation and DNA repair is already done but in a primitive way.
Tho nanobots do not exist yet, nanotechnology is being used to hijack bacteria for drug delivery. If science progresses in nanotechnolgy to assembler technology, human level surgery may become obsolete. Surgery would no longer be needed because the nanobots would affect repairs at the atomic level.

If consideration is given to future real-world technologies there are many films that can be added to your list.
 
Last edited:

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
In the film Moon Trap (1989): The surgery involves a robot using human body parts to construct its body. While the actual surgery is not shown it is implied.
Likewise in the film Virus (1999): an alien intelligence uses robotics to disect humans for body parts. There is a gory scene where it shows humans being disassembled for parts.
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
In GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra (2009): nanobots are used to perform facial modification (which could be considered facial surgery, the rearranging of structure to affect appearance).

Jason X (2001): uses a nanotable to reconstruct Jason but also reconstructs a crew member's arm.

Passengers (2016):
Aurora puts Jim into the auto surgery unit to bring him back to life

Skyline (2010) and Beyond Skyline (2017): Both show robotic brain transplants.

National Lampoon's RoboDoc (2008)?

Moon (2009):
gerty revives clones

Big Hero 6 (2014): Baymax, an inflatable healthcare companion robot

...
 

sci-fi-dude

1963, 1899 called they want every thing back....
Joined
Jul 20, 2017
Location
DFW
That's pretty cool, but machines will never replace Jim Bones McCoy. 481284.png
 

Rob Surgery

Cadet
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Thanks Tom for this, really useful, exactly what I hoped to get from posting.

And sorry for the slow reply, I thought I had set up an email alert to tell me when there was a reply. But I hadn’t.

You pin-point a real issue in terms of deciding what is and isn’t robotic surgery, and I have still not resolved exactly how I will deal with that. For now I am keen to develop a long list of possibilities and then work down from that. There is an extent to which I am interested in examples where the film itself somehow suggests or invokes that what is happening is robotic surgery. So definitely if the phrase is used (although that rarely happens). More frequently we see some kind of ‘robotness’ and ‘surgeryness’ visible in how the scene is shot. So it’s more about the response the film is trying to create in the viewer than a list of specific procedures or technologies. So it’s robotic surgery if it seems like the director wanted us to think it was robotic surgery.

But I am thinking that it would be surgery on a whole body as opposed to cells, although I can see how there is a blur.

Thanks again, I’ll hunt down those films.

Best wishes,

Neil
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
Fantastic Voyage (1966): Submarine miniaturised with hero surgeons on board and injected into patient to navigate to brain to successfully remove blood clot
Your oldest entry.
Over the last 30 days I have watched as many 50s science fiction movies I can.
There is a theme of atomic changes in the human body that is depicted, many times by showing computer or robotic controls to either affect an atomic change into or repair an atomic exposure. Many times it is partnered with an alien influence. The films are not about robotic surgery nor is there an effort to point it out as robotic surgery but the story involves parts that could be called robotic surgery if you were to look with that eye to details.

In addition, wouldn't computer assist/control of a personality be considered 'Mind Surgery'?
I seem to remember some mighty fine science fiction stories where an AI or advanced computer is used to either fix mental problems or render a patient 'zombified'.

If you were to include TV show episodes into your search, you will find even more references to artificial surgeries.

Given that a common theme of alien abduction is people being implanted, probed or modified, nearly any film that shows alien abduction scenes will have some type of device driven instrument operating on people. I can't count how many scenes show someone strapped to a table and a machine extends and places a tracker or probe into a person. Aliens seldomly use their hands (claws?) to operate on people directly.
 

Rob Surgery

Cadet
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Thanks both, Jason X is on the list to watch.

On Tom's point, I don't think I would include attempts to change personality as robotic surgery unless the film made it clear that it considered this procedure to be robotic surgery. I do include Spectre, in which a procedure is conducted to drill into the brain to remove memories, as this is clearly invoking surgery at it is conducted by a robotic arm.

Also, I have decided to not include tv shows, or novels, or other forms, as a way of making the work manageable in the time available.

Thanks again
 

sci-fi-dude

1963, 1899 called they want every thing back....
Joined
Jul 20, 2017
Location
DFW
In the real world, I would rather have a professional doctor than some robot, no offence Robby, but that's how me among others feel. Those machines slicing away at a persons innards, can be hacked, or could have a mechanical failure. Noting in the real world can replace a seasoned doctor that cares instead of some cold steel machine with no soul. As far as your question, its simple read or watch your favorite story, research them, and compile your infos to complete your task. The future is cool, but ill go old fashion with a human doctor, nuff said...;);););)
 
Joined
Jul 17, 2018
Hey guys. I just came across this thread while searching for a movie... Which is the movie where the protagonist travels to a different planet where they have fully automated healing machines that can save a person just to save someone but they're not a "citizen" so they cannot be healed by the machine and the protagonist hacks in the planet to make the person appear like a citizen so that the machine fixes them.
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
Hey guys. I just came across this thread while searching for a movie... Which is the movie where the protagonist travels to a different planet where they have fully automated healing machines that can save a person just to save someone but they're not a "citizen" so they cannot be healed by the machine and the protagonist hacks in the planet to make the person appear like a citizen so that the machine fixes them.
Could that be the film Elysium (2013)?
 

Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Location
Pennsylvania
Hey guys. I just came across this thread while searching for a movie... Which is the movie where the protagonist travels to a different planet where they have fully automated healing machines that can save a person just to save someone but they're not a "citizen" so they cannot be healed by the machine and the protagonist hacks in the planet to make the person appear like a citizen so that the machine fixes them.
Could that be the film Elysium (2013)?
Yeah, Elysium is the first thing that came to mind also. It's not a different planet though... there is a space station in orbit around Earth where the super rich live while everybody is in despair on a dying Earth.
 

sci-fi-dude

1963, 1899 called they want every thing back....
Joined
Jul 20, 2017
Location
DFW
Sometimes a scan can be good, sometimes it can be not so good.....:unsure:;)
 
Top Bottom