Does anyone know of the earliest known record of a story involving some sort of artificial creature, brought into existence by humans, that, at some point, becomes violent and attacks its creators or other humans against its creators' will?

One of the first things that come to mind is Frankenstein, but I believe other stories, for example, the Golem, would also fit this description.

Does anyone know of any that are from earlier than that?

  • 4
    Lucifer? Man? If you're considering the Golem, they would both count - but policy is to not define the bible/religious texts as sci-fi/fantasy works to answer based upon.
    – phantom42
    Apr 17, 2015 at 1:41
  • 3
    @phantom42 I don't see how either Lucifer or man could be construed as an "artificial creature, brought into existence by humans."
    – user14111
    Apr 17, 2015 at 1:50
  • 1
    While this question seems too broad to get a real good answer, I vote Talos as the oldest story (at least that I can remember), so long as you follow the version where he was made by Daedalus and not one of the gods like Zeus.
    – Firebat
    Apr 17, 2015 at 1:58
  • 1
    the point about religious texts still stands though.
    – phantom42
    Apr 17, 2015 at 2:17
  • 3
    @user14111 I'm not going anywhere near a discussion regarding jewish "myth" vs religion.
    – phantom42
    Apr 17, 2015 at 2:45

2 Answers 2


The earliest science fiction story I know that fits the OP's criteria is R.U.R. by Karel Capek.

According to ISFDB, R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), a 1920 science fiction play by Karel Capek was translated into English in 1923. R.U.R. is one of the earliest science-fiction stories dealing with created beings turning against their creator. At the end, a robot rebellion leads to the extinction of the human race. A new prototype/upgrade of the robots (one male robot and one female robot) with the newly added capacity of reproduction, had just been created. https://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?2218756

The Wikipedia page -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.U.R. -- has more information. Though Capek refers to them as robots, we would probably use the term androids. Wikipedia suggests using clones or replicants.

  • 2
    The question already mentions Frankenstein, which predates R.U.R. by over a hundred years, so this can't possibly be the answer.
    – jwodder
    Dec 27, 2017 at 19:46
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    In the book, Frankenstein's creature kills Victor's brother, Victor's adopted sister who becomes his bride, and Victor's childhood friend. That's all. Victor's father dies of natural causes after hearing his daughter died. Victor pursues his creature but collapses of exhaustion and hypothermia before he can kill his creation. Victor dies of natural causes, not by his creation's hand. The movie versions of Frankenstein are much gorier than the book. The creation killed three times and indirectly caused some other deaths. He threatened his creator verbally but never followed through.
    – Yoshi Bro
    Dec 27, 2017 at 21:22

I've never read it, but this Wiki page lists this one:

Talus, an "iron man" who mechanically helps Arthegall dispense justice in The Faerie Queene the epic poem by Edmund Spenser published in 1590

I don't know if "dispensing justice" really qualifies, since it looks like it's acting on its creator's instructions.

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