21

Here, by android, I mean "an AI robot which looks and acts like a human." It shouldn't just be "Sex Robot". Emotions between both parties need to be involved.

At this time, there are two examples in my mind:

  • Relationship between Vision and Wanda in Avengers: Infinity War (2018).

  • Relationship between Data and Tasha in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987). Once a Starfleet officer was acting against Data's rights saying "it" was a property of Starfleet, but Riker successfully countered this in court by showing Tasha's photo in Data's belongings and thus proving that there were some unknown variables in Data's positronic brain.

Which Sci-Fi work first showed a romantic relationship between a human and an android?

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    Mutual relationship ? ETA Hoffmann's Sandmann has the protagonist fall in love with the Automaton Olimpia in 1816, but being a clockwork person she did not respond in kind. And if you accept cases of mistaken identity (i.e. mistaking the robot for the real person it's modeled after) there is of course Maria from Metropolis in 1927 (also less than mutal as far as relationships go). – Eike Pierstorff Jun 27 '18 at 11:11
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    Does Pygmalion count? – Todd Wilcox Jun 27 '18 at 12:34
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    @ToddWilcox I don't think so. Pygmalion was a divine act to make a non-living thing into a living being (i.e. she wasn't made by another human being). Androids are presumably made by human hands, and it posits an interesting question: can something you make actually love you? Lots of modern works are exploring this as main points of their plot. – Machavity Jun 27 '18 at 12:42
  • 2
    Not quite what you're looking for, but two of the robots in R.U.R. (1920) fall in love at the end of the play. – Michael Seifert Jun 27 '18 at 16:42
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    Robosexuality is a sin!!! – Valorum Jun 28 '18 at 8:08
42

1938: "Helen O'Loy", a short story by Lester del Rey, first published in Astounding Science-Fiction, December 1938, available at the Internet Archive.

Wikipedia plot summary:

Two young men, a mechanic, Dave, and a medical student, Phil, collaborate on modifying a household robot, originally meant only to cook and clean. They are more successful than they intended; despite the robot's household programming, it develops emotions. The robot, named "Helen O'Loy", falls in love with Dave. Dave initially avoids her and rejects her advances, but after some time he marries her and they live together on his farm.

Over the years Phil assists her in artificially aging her features to match the changes that occur in her human husband. When Dave inevitably dies, she sends a letter to Phil asking him to dissolve her metallic structure and bury her remains with her husband. She begs him not to let anyone discover their secret. In the final line it is revealed that Phil, who had been narrating the story, had secretly been in love with her the whole time.

Illustration from “Astounding Science-Fiction,” December 1938

  • 3
    1938? So this predates both Satisfaction Guaranteed and The Bicentennial Man? Well, that's a blow for Asimov's originality. – Mr Lister Jun 27 '18 at 11:26
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    @MrLister Why? It's a fairly obvious conceit that didn't suggest much originality to begin with. – lly Jun 27 '18 at 11:35
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    @Ily like, the conceit goes back to Greek Antiquity and the Pygmalion myth, though they obviously didn't think in terms of modern robots. – Oosaka Jun 27 '18 at 14:34
18

I list this because it strongly hints at the potential of human/android love, even if it never gets there. The movie would be Metropolis (1927).

The movie largely turns on a robot that is made to look like a woman. We see these two points

Rotwang had been in love with a woman named Hel, who left him to marry Fredersen and later died giving birth to Freder. Rotwang shows Fredersen a robot he has built to "resurrect" Hel.

and

Freder believes that he could fill the role and declares his love for Maria. Fredersen orders Rotwang to give Maria's likeness to the robot so that it can ruin her reputation among the workers to prevent any rebellion.

It doesn't entirely fit because the romance avenue is never fully explored as part of the story (we never see the robot reciprocate love). However, we see that the robot is made to look and act identical to an actual woman (including emotions). There's every indication that Rotwang, the robot's creator, intended to carry on a relationship with the robot (at one point Rotwang even confuses the woman, whose likeness he had given the robot, for his dead wife and kidnaps her). Given that the robot fools multiple people into thinking she is a real woman, there's no reason to believe a relationship would not be possible.

  • 1
    I'm not fully convinced this counts. Freder loves the real Maria not the robot. Although people are duped by robot Maria, it has a completely different personality / behaviour (deliberately, since it was designed to destroy real Maria's reputation, as noted in your quote). So there's no romance between Freder and the robot. As for Rotwang, I don't think that insane, stalker, obsessive behaviour really counts as romance. – Nicola Talbot Jun 27 '18 at 14:51
  • I admit as much in the answer. It's not as good a fit as Helen O'Loy, but it strongly hints in that direction. For instance, if the fake Maria were programmed to be nice, could Freder have carried on a relationship with her? That seems to have been Rotwang's original intention. Make the robot look like Hel and then give her a nice personality so he could make Hel "live" again. – Machavity Jun 27 '18 at 14:58
  • I like your answer, but it was the "strongly hints at" bit that I'm unconvinced about. It's one thing to programme a robot to be destructive and selfish, but it seems to me that it would be much harder to programme it to have the kind of qualities that might encourage romance (a certain amount of empathy etc). – Nicola Talbot Jun 27 '18 at 18:09
  • Fair enough. But in the Metropolis universe it seems that adding human qualities like emotion is not a barrier, so adding enough empathy to be passable enough for "romance" is not implausible. Granted, such an arrangement might not last long, but that's not what the question is asking for. – Machavity Jun 27 '18 at 18:15
1

If we're going to exclude written works, I believe The Twilight Zone's The Lonely beats Star Trek by ten years, airing November 13, 1959:

Wikipedia:

Upon opening the special container, Corry discovers that Allenby has left him with a feminine robot named Alicia to keep him company. Alicia is capable of emotions, memory and has a lifespan comparable to a human.

[...]

Over the next 11 months, Corry begins to fall in love with her. Alicia develops a personality that mirrors Corry's, and the days become bearable.

Wikipedia doesn't explicitly say Alicia loved Corry, but I've seen the episode, and it is clear she cares for him as well:

The robot breaks down, malfunctioning, its face a mass of wire and broken circuitry which repeats the word "Corry".

0

Since the OP ask for which work first "showed romance between a human and an android," I assume that he meant a TV show or movie.

Star Trek (The Original Series): Requiem for Methuselah (Valentine's Day, 1969)

Kirk fell in love with a woman who didn't realize that she was an android.

From Wikipedia:

Rayna comes to say goodbye to Kirk, who has fallen in love with her and begs her to accompany him. McCoy tells them that the ryetalyn is missing, and Spock follows tricorder readings to a laboratory chamber containing android bodies, all labeled "Rayna".

Flint finally reveals the truth... Rayna is to be his mate, now that Kirk has taught her how to love... A fight then breaks out between the two men for the possession of Rayna. Rayna stops them, claiming her right to choose her own future, and then, overwhelmed by her newfound emotions, dies.

enter image description here

Kirk also showed the hots for a couple of Harvey Mudd's android women but I don't think that was love.

  • 5
    Yes, the OP used the word "showed" which doesn't mean it has to be physically visible pictures. One can show the interaction between two characters through the written medium. – Edlothiad Jun 28 '18 at 5:54
  • Apart from that, Metropolis was 42 years earlier. – Mr Lister Jun 28 '18 at 15:25
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    @TheWasp There's no need to be snarky. It's possible that English isn't this person's first language, or that they speak a variety of English where this metaphorical use of "show" is rare. Or just that they made a mistake, being human, and not an android who's fallen in love with one. – IMSoP Jun 28 '18 at 16:12
  • @MrLister - the writer mentioned that Metropolis never actually showed any romance but hinted at the possibility so I was excluding it. – Hannover Fist Jun 28 '18 at 16:54
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    @Edlothiad - there is my admitted bias of wanting to throw out a Star Trek answer where ever applicable – Hannover Fist Jun 28 '18 at 17:58

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