When EVE returns to the ship, Auto is notified of the findings. He then proceeds to wake up the captain to let him know of the plant. Then they open EVE and don't find anything: Auto got rid of it due to directive A113.

Well then, why did Auto even bother waking up the captain? Why not just dispose of EVE and call it a day?

2 Answers 2


My reading was that Auto was deeply conflicted. On the one hand he was attempting to obey his original programming under Operation Recolonize (sending out probes, monitoring for lifesigns, passing that data onto the ship's Captain) and on the other he had directive A-113 (that the ship shouldn't return to Earth under any circumstances).

For about 600 years he was absolutely fine. Since there was no life detected, there was no need to worry about the hidden orders. It wasn't until the Eve probe came back with a plant that his directives suddenly came into sharp conflict. His programming was telling him to return to Earth and to not return to Earth. At that point, like HAL-9000 before him he went insane. Auto decided that the best course of action would be to destroy the offending plant even if it meant taking over the ship, disobeying the Captain and risking of the lives of everyone on board.

In the film's script you can actually pinpoint the precise moment he goes gaga:

Auto detects Eve's plant light.
Goes still...
Begins computing rapidly.

The number "A113" flashes on his lens.
An ELECTRONIC EXCHANGE begins between Auto and Gopher.

Wall-E watches the interchange. Nervous.
Without warning, Auto heads in his direction.
Wall-E boxes up.
A CIRCULAR SECTION OF FLOOR lights directly below him.
Irises open, like a trapdoor.

As to the specific question of why Auto woke up the captain, the answer is that he didn't. He checks on the captain to make sure he's not awake before asking Go-4 to remove the plant. A few seconds later, he goes back to see the Captain as he's awoken by his automated alarm clock:

Auto lowers through the portal. A CLOCK ALARM BUZZER activates.

AUTOPILOT: Captain. You are needed on the bridge.


To keep up the charade.

Think about it. If Auto has directive A113, why is the ship still sending ships and probes like Eve at all? The only reason to is that the directive was autopilot only, so the captain, crew, and passengers have to think that the check to go back to Earth is still being run. Easiest way to do that is go through the motions and keep running it, let it find nothing as expected, and continue on.

Shutting down those dispatches would be trivially findable by the ships computer and the captain, especially by one who tried to take his job seriously like the captain in the movie (forget the name just now). That a probe came back positive would also be easily found.

Remember, despite trying to take over the ship at the end, Auto didn't really have the power to do that normally. The ship's computer doesn't seem to have a full AI like he or his flunky does, and recognizes the current captain as the highest ranking authority. So the main way out becomes letting the captain think it's a glitch, shutting the whole thing down on his authority, and keeping status quo.

  • 1
    I disagree. In a generational ship, the crew only know what the computer tells them and what they've heard from their elders. It would be trivially simple (over a couple of generations) to utterly corrupt the concept of Earth as a nice or desirable place to visit.
    – Valorum
    Jan 6, 2016 at 14:25
  • @Richard - eh, possible, but unlikely, given Captain's enthusiasm. He'd be where the process'd have to start after all.
    – Radhil
    Jan 6, 2016 at 14:35
  • The captain's duties seem to consist largely of going through the motions and reading the scripts that Auto has prepared for him.
    – Valorum
    Jan 6, 2016 at 14:37
  • @Richard Nah, the scripts were written by BnL long before Auto thought he was in charge.
    – Radhil
    Jan 6, 2016 at 14:57
  • I deeply doubt that BnL wrote him a script for the 700th anniversary celebration cupcake in a cup.
    – Valorum
    Jan 6, 2016 at 15:04

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