Cyborgs From Movies We Love and Their Surgical Technologist Mistakes

Hollywood loves Cyborgs, but do they get the science right? *Spoiler* Not so much.

Greg Voakes by Greg Voakes


Cinema surgical technologists have it easy – the technology is advanced, the top-secret black research lab probably has a great benefits package, and the operations are never boring. The only reason you’d end up giving someone a new hip is if Commander Cyborg decides he wants a rocket-propelled leg for kicking the NegaLord’s ass.

Which means they have no excuse for all the incredible mistakes they make.



Ask someone who the coolest cyborg of all time is and they’ll either say “Robocop” or start signaling that they don’t understand English. And Robocop. The upgraded Alex Murphy did things to the Miranda rights not covered under the Geneva convention, and by only fighting rapists and drug-dealers he neatly side-stepped the ethical problem of “Being utterly bulletproof but still allowed to shoot at people.” Partly because he gave all the criminals a ridiculously sporting chance by leaving his face unarmored.

It was a wonderfully honorable gentleman’s agreement between police and criminals: they agreed not to shoot him in the face just so he could look more badass while arresting them. His stern chin was a more obvious weak point than a glowing red spot on a video game boss. Being shot in the face is a known flaw with human police officers (and human everything else). You’d think that would be the first thing they’d fix.




The most recent Terminator movie had many problems, only a few of which could be fixed by a surgical technologist. Unless the technologist anaesthetized the scriptwriters and replaced them with someone who’d even seen the previous movies. Skynet built the T800 as a truly integrated cyborg, unlike the previous skin-wrapped murder machines, so that it could truly act like a human. And every human on the planet wants to destroy Skynet. You’d think an artificial intelligence capable of billions of thoughts per second might have thought of that.

It didn’t help that the computer-controlling “Don’t turn good, which is our version of turning evil” chip was located just under the skin on the back of the head. And didn’t work. John Connor was able to yank it out like picking a big but satisfying scab, though we don’t know why he bothered because if the control-chip couldn’t stop him pulling out the control-chip, which must have been pretty high up on its list of directives, it was a less effective commander than a kitten in a sergeant’s hat.

The Bionic Woman

Bionic Woman

The Bionic Woman was proof that sexism is alive and well even when the people are half machine.  Steve Austin, the six million dollar man, was a top astronaut crippled while testing a daring prototype aircraft and recruited because he was just so awesome. Jaime Sommers , the Bionic Woman, was a tennis player who got herself smashed up while playing at skydiving, and was upgraded only because she used to bang Steve Austin. They also didn’t point out how much her operation cost, but we can assume it was at least 30% less than the man’s parts.

The main problem with both the bionic people was their partial replacement. Both received two bionic legs, one arm, and an upgraded sense (an eye for him and an ear for her.) Any surgical technologist, or anyone else who’s ever seen a human body work, could tell you that’s a terrible idea. You can’t just upgrade the legs and tell someone to run at 60 mph without enhancing the rest of the body. Otherwise you end up watching two mechanical legs carrying chunks of your torn pelvis into the distance as you bleed out on the ground. An enhanced arm might be able to lift several tons, but if it’s connected to a human shoulder then trying to lift something is going to tell the arm to bend – and it’ll yank itself right off your arm-hole while the enemy tank stays exactly where it is.