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The term "meatbag" is used by robots (including Bender, from Futurama, and HK-47 from the Knights of the Old Republic games) as a pejorative term for a human or other creature. Where did this term first appear in any media?

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I hope it was HK-47. I love that murderous bastard. – Wad Cheber Jan 21 at 22:24
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Well, in-universe, it has to be HK. Bender was "born" in 2996 CE, HK-47 was created c. 3960 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin) and the Battle of Yavin happened "A long time ago". – Wad Cheber Jan 21 at 22:35
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Oh, it's a trope, even – CreationEdge Jan 21 at 22:48
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On a related note, Star Trek TNG had an episode where nanobots refer to humans as "Ugly bags of mostly water". This predates both Futurama and KotOR by a good bit, but it's not quite the same. – Darrel Hoffman Jan 22 at 15:15
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@DarrelHoffman: They're not nanobots, but rather a crystalline life form that, apparently, evolved naturally. – ruakh Jan 22 at 18:25
up vote 41 down vote accepted

The earliest robot I can find saying this is Bender, from Futurama.

In his debut scene, in the pilot episode of the show, he calls Fry a meatbag.

Here's the excerpt from the script for this episode which originally aired on March 28th, 1999.

ROBOT
Bite my shiny metal ass.
[Fry looks around at the robot's ass.]
FRY
It doesn't look so shiny to me.
ROBOT
Shinier than yours, meatbag!

The "ROBOT" is Bender, before his name is revealed.

This predates Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic by about four years, where the droid HK-47 famously uses the term.

There are certainly other times when it's been used in science fiction and fantasy and pop culture, though not necessarily by robots.

For instance, in the 1989 novel Dydeetown World by F. Paul Wilson, it's used by a character referring to a clone:

His upper lip curled. "Meatbag clone... Too stupid to know."

And it's used in the 1976 film Rocky:

GAZZO
(to Bodyguard)
... The Rock's a good kid.
BODYGUARD
(emotionless)
... A meatbag.

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I'm pretty sure one of the Decepticons used the term in an early episode of Transformers (the G1 series back in the 80's). I don't have time to confirm right now, but if so, that would pre-date Bender by quite a bit. – Omegacron Jan 22 at 23:01
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@Omegacron (1984) #3 More than Meets the Eye, Part 2 –TFwiki; transcript: SIPHER: (Jazz) I can read my own language, meatbag. – Mazura Jan 23 at 3:28
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@Mazura If only that were real! – CreationEdge Jan 23 at 4:20
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Oh my. That's a bunch of fan fiction. Definitely not in that episode. – Mazura Jan 23 at 4:34
    
While Futurama is also the first instance I've found of a non-human referring to a human as a "meat bag", when I googled I found that an alien in the original "Men in Black" from 1997 referred to a human as a "meat sack", see 2:04 in this clip. – Hypnosifl Jan 29 at 7:33

1974 in English, 1965 in Polish - By the robots of the Cyberiad

According to TV Tropes,

Robots in the Cyberiad usually call humans "palefaces", but occasional "meatbag" still appears here and there.

An wikipedia indicates that the Cyberiad was

first published in 1965, with an English translation appearing in 1974

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Have you been able to verify this? I was able to search a copy of the text online, available to me through my university, but it had to hits for meatbag, meat bag, nor meat. I was searching the English version, too: "The cyberiad : fables for the cybernetic age / Stanislaw Lem ; translated from the Polish by Michael Kandel ; illustrated by Daniel Mróz" – CreationEdge Jan 22 at 2:07
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I was able to get the Kindle edition, too, and I tried finding "meat bag" or similar terms in the book, but it's not there. "Palefaces" is in it 47 times, but without an exact quote/page number, I'd have to say "meatbag" not used in Cyberiad at all. Nor is the word "meat". – CreationEdge Jan 22 at 2:20
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Is it possible the term appears only in the Polish version? Presumably, the term wouldn't be English, but I think that should still count. My interpretation of the question would be about the concept of humans as meatbags rather than the specific English word "meatbag". – MichaelS Jan 22 at 5:42
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I do not recall any meatbag-like slur used in Polish version, although there was lengthy description of how human is indeed a bag of pipes and fluids (apparently 'bots saw it under skin). I will try to confirm it later today, but have in mind that this topic spans over several stories (including, but not limited to, "paleface" mini series) so it will take me some time. – PTwr Jan 22 at 12:43
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I have the ''Cyberiad'' as a Polish e-book and I can't find any translation of meat that I can think of. – Serpens Jan 22 at 17:59

I know of two earlier instances of non-biological intelligences taking this attitude toward biological intelligences:

  • Terry Bisson's short story "They're Made out of Meat", originally published in Omni in 1990, involves extraterrestrial life forms who are absolutely horrified by the notion of a race of thinking beings composed entirely of meat. (It's strongly implied that this is us.) The exact nature of the ETs is not clearly specified; they probably aren't robots in the strict sense.

  • The System Shock video game series (first installment 1994) features an artificial intelligence, SHODAN, whose opinion of humans is famously quotable:

    Look at you, hacker. A pathetic creature of meat and bone, panting and sweating as you run through my corridors. How can you challenge a perfect, immortal machine?

Neither of these uses the exact term "meatbag", but I think it is likely that the authors of both Futurama and Knights of the Old Republic were familiar with them; and, indeed, that the authors of System Shock had read the Terry Bisson story. It's hard to overstate how influential Omni was throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, especially to the sorts of people who would go on to write SF themselves.


Going back further, it's not the same attitude, but it's in the same line of speculation: Harlan Ellison's infamous I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, published 1967:

AM could not wander, AM could not wonder, AM could not belong. He could merely be. And so, with the innate loathing that all machines had always held for the weak, soft creatures who had built them, he had sought revenge.

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@zwol- You can expect whatever you like, it doesn't make it true. The writers won't have read every piece of scifi ever written. – PointlessSpike Jan 22 at 16:08
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@PointlessSpike It was published in Omni in 1990. The people who read Omni in 1990 are exactly the sort of people who went on to become SF authors in the early 2000s. I think my inference is at least plausible. – zwol Jan 22 at 17:00
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I would be surprised if none of them had heard this story. I certainly have, and sharing it with my coworkers resulted in a lot of "oh, that's where that came from, yeah I've heard that, didn't know who the author was..." – DCShannon Jan 22 at 22:42

This example is later than many of the others posted above but earlier than Futurama so I wanted to add it to the list: in the 1988 video game Snatcher (a pretty cool Blade Runner rip-off, with a little stolen from The Terminator), one of the cyborg creatures refers to the main character (a human) as a "meatbag".

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+1 It would be awesome if you could add a screenshot, though. – Alfredo Hernández Jan 23 at 22:55

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