Okay, the obvious answer is "the robots were programmed to keep the people alive" but hear me out here.

Buy N Large is a profit-making company. One of the central themes of the film is wasteful consumerism. The idea is that Buy N Large was so very driven by profit that they ignored the wider consequences of their actions. Yet the business is so successful that they are never held accountable for these consequences, and they eventually abandon the earth. Their customers are launched on-board huge space ships where robots take care of all of their needs, constantly feeding them entertainment.

It's also declared that the ship was only supposed to be gone for 6 years, but had just entered it's 700th anniversary.

Enough with the exposition, let's get down to economy. Buy N Large exists to make money, but there's no money being exchanged on the Axiom. Yes, I know that an answer to this question suggests there's a "pay later" option but that makes no sense.

People are born and die aboard the Axiom and never work. They have no way to contribute to the economy. They have an ever-increasing debt which they have no way to pay back, just an ever-increasing debt.

Buy N Large is a profit-making organisation, it's not in their interest to give every human being unlimited credit, and they clearly don't need any contribution from the human beings.

Just like if I walk into my local supermarket with no means to pay, they've got no reason to let me walk away with the goods. Wouldn't the Axiom robots stop serving the humans? Because they're robots, wouldn't they just wait, maintaining themselves, until some humans with currency arrive and need their services again?

Side note: The ship has abandoned it's mission to return the humans to earth, the Auto-pilot actively prevents this. So they've no reason to think that humans will ever contribute to their society again.

  • 2
    This seems very opinion-based. You ask us to disregard the obvious and likely reason (that it's because their directives tell them to do so) in order to take a flight of fancy with you down fanfic lane.
    – Valorum
    Jul 27, 2018 at 14:10
  • @Valorum I'm not sure that's a fair assessment. The question ignores money and in a film about consumerism, that's a bit plot hole, unless there's a different reason. Why would a profit-making company make this happen?
    – AJFaraday
    Jul 27, 2018 at 14:12
  • Is there any good indication to show that Operation Recolonize was intended to be a profit-making venture? At that point, the aim seems to be the survival of the species.
    – Valorum
    Jul 27, 2018 at 14:13
  • @Valorum Then why the "pay later" option? Profit is Buy N Large's "raison d'etre", and it appears they've ignored warnings about the survival of the planet long enough to literally end life on Earth (in a warning to us all).
    – AJFaraday
    Jul 27, 2018 at 14:15
  • 1
    Like I said, you start by asking us to discount the single most important factor, that these are robots following directives. Presumably Directive #1 is "Don't mass-murder those you're caring for"
    – Valorum
    Jul 27, 2018 at 14:20

1 Answer 1


The company pretty much knows not only that (they believe) the earth cannot be fixed, but that they're responsible.

The ship is essentially a settlement for what they fear would be the biggest class action suit in the history of history itself. By getting ahead of it, they make themselves look like saviors, and not that they're trying to make up for their mistake.

Also, if the Earth population dies, there will be no opportunity for profit later. The last order given was keep the Earthlings out there, and keep them safe. So they're following that last directive (Order A-113, IIRC?)

Now, the fact that there's no way they could have brought 700 years of supplies suggests that the ship is an even more amazing marvel of engineering that it seems. It must be finding raw materials in space and using them to make more soda cups and stuff. Impressive.

  • The raw materials thing is an interesting question, too. They do seem to throw their waste out in to space.
    – AJFaraday
    Jul 27, 2018 at 14:17
  • See this wonderful yet gruesome answer on where some of said raw materials come from, and enjoy your lunch!
    – Jenayah
    Jul 27, 2018 at 14:18
  • Oh, there pretty much had to be SOME level of...recycling, but since they were clearly still dumping garbage (a subtle clue that they'd not yet learned their lesson) I figure they had to be pulling some raw materials in, more than simply collecting hydrogen for fuel. Jul 27, 2018 at 14:22
  • @Jenayah That makes the waste thing even more non-sensical. Why get rid of something that's made of the stuff you're making things out of? Oh well, I won't get into this here as the question's already about to be closed as 'off-topic'.
    – AJFaraday
    Jul 27, 2018 at 14:23
  • I think there likely reaches a point, unless you're doing full molecular breakdown and replication, that materials become too corrupt to recycle. You can filter water from various source as much as you like, but there's going to be a buildup of stuff that makes that filtration less and less efficient. You're going to want to bring on fresh water at some point. Jul 27, 2018 at 14:26

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