The Earth is suffering the aftereffects of a nuclear war that destroyed 92 percent of humanity. Lingering radiation has caused the birth rate to fall below replacement level and the population continues to decline. A robotic labor force maintains a high standard of living for the survivors and the humanoids of the title are an advanced type of robot created to directly serve and otherwise work closely with human beings. These humanoids are built with artificial, ultra-logical personalities and they appear human except for their blue-gray "synthe-skin", metallic eyes and lack of hair. The humanoids periodically visit recharging stations they call "temples" where they also exchange all information acquired since their last visit with a central computer they call "the father-mother".
A quasi-racist human organization named The Order of Flesh and Blood is opposed to the humanoids, which the members disparagingly refer to as "clickers". The Order believes the humanoids are planning to take over the world and are a threat to the very survival of the human race. The Order does not stop at illegal violent actions, including bombings. At one meeting, its members are alarmed to learn of the existence of a humanoid which has been made externally indistinguishable from a human and which has killed a man. They demand that all existing humanoids be disassembled or downgraded to a strictly utilitarian machine-like form.
Scientist Dr. Raven (Doolittle) has developed a technique called a "thalamic transplant", which transfers the memories and personality of a recently deceased human into a robotic replica of that person. The human-humanoid hybrids that result awake from the process unaware of their own transformation, although their human personalities are shut off between 4 and 5 A.M., when they report back to the humanoids at the robot temple. As Dr. Raven describes the operation, "We draw off everything that makes a man peculiar to himself. His learning, his memory: these, inter-reacting, constitute his personality, his philosophy, capability and attitude. The human brain is merely the vault in which the man is stored." With the help of Dr. Raven, the humanoids are secretly replacing humans who recently died with these replicas.
One of the leaders of the Order of Flesh and Blood, Captain Kenneth Cragis (Megowan), meets Maxine, and although she is opposed to the Order they both fall in love. In the end they discover that they, too, are advanced humanoid replicas with the minds of deceased persons. Ironically, the "real" Maxine had died in a bomb attack which the Order intended to harm only robots. Dr. Raven, a once-human replica himself, explains to Cragis and Maxine that not only are they practically immortal in their new forms they can also be the first humanoids upgraded to the highest possible level: after a minor alteration, they will be able to procreate.
Finally, Dr. Raven breaks the fourth wall, looks directly into the camera and tells the viewer, "Of course, the operation was a success ... or you wouldn't be here." This final line implies the story was set in the distant past.
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