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Yesterday, I watched the Star Trek: TNG episode "The Hunted", which revolves around a man, Danar, who at first seems to be merely a particularly skilled and violent criminal, but who is later revealed to have been genetically engineered into a killing machine by his own government. He fights and outwits the crew of the Enterprise, but his only real aim is to get free from - and preferably avenged upon - the people who made him what he is. He is one of many men like him, exploited in order to win a war and then exiled afterwards. From the transcript of the episode:

  • TROI: Roga Danar was an idealistic young man who answered his people's call to service. He joined the military to fight for the Angosian way of life. What he didn't realise was that by doing so he would have to give up that way of life for ever. He's not the same man who left home to go to war. He's been through intense psychological manipulation and biochemical modifications. [...] His own government. He's been programmed to be the perfect soldier. He can be absolutely normal, but when a danger is perceived, the programming clicks in and takes over. Memory, strength, intelligence, reflexes, all become enhanced. He's conditioned to survive at any cost.

  • NAYROK: [The resettlement to Lunar Five] was for their own protection as well as that of others. Most of them were quite happy there. We went to great lengths to give them a fine quality of life. [...] Unfortunately, a few agitators like Danar forced us to add security.

  • PICARD: And that they will not kill unless their survival is at stake?
    DATA: It is against their nature to do so, Captain.


Today, I watched the Doctor Who episode "A Town Called Mercy", one of whose main characters is a man, 'the Gunslinger', who at first seems to be a savage killer terrorising the town, but who is later revealed to have been genetically engineered into a killing machine by his own government. He is pitted against the Doctor and the population of the town for most of the episode, but his only real aim is to get revenge on the people who made him what he is. He is one of many men like him, exploited to win a war and then decommissioned afterwards. From the transcript of the episode:

  • DOCTOR: Half man, half machine. A weapon. Jex built it. He and his team took volunteers, told them they'd been selected for special training, then experimented on them, fused their bodies with weaponry, and programmed them to kill.
    JEX: We'd been at war for nine years. A war that had already decimated half of our planet. Our task was to bring peace, and we did. We built an army that routed the enemy and ended the war in less than a week. Do you want me to repent, to beg forgiveness for saving millions of lives?

  • JEX: When the war ended we had the Cyborgs decommissioned, but one of them must have got its circuitry damaged in battle. It went offline and began hunting down the team that created it until just two of us were left. We fled, and our ships crashed here.

  • JEX: As far as I can tell, he's programmed to take innocent lives only if absolutely necessary.


It was a complete coincidence that I watched these two episodes on consecutive days, and I was struck by the remarkable similarities between them.

Was "A Town Called Mercy" consciously inspired by "The Hunted"?

Perhaps there's an interview with someone involved in the production of the former which confirms the link between them?

Or perhaps this is a very common trope and I simply haven't read/watched enough sci-fi?

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