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"Small Friends" is an episode of The Outer Limits television show. It first aired on February 5, 1999.


  • 1 Opening narration
  • 2 Plot
  • 3 Closing narration
  • 4 Cast

Opening narration

“The longing for redemption can express itself in many forms and sometimes, indeed, the greatest obstacle we face is found within our own conscience.”


Brilliant robotics researcher Gene Morton (Ralph Waite) killed a man who stole the credit for his groundbreaking nanobot research. Now in prison his chances at parole have been sabotaged by his own honesty and sense of guilt. Although it's a lonely life, late at night, after lights-out, Gene brings out his small friends, a swarm of microscopic robots (nanobots/nanites) that he made from prison scrap and keeps in a matchbox. The MEMS (short for MicroElectroMechanical Systems) are controlled by a small keypad and can work together to perform an amazing variety of tasks, from sculpting steel to picking locks. The MEMS are Gene's little secret until one night when he takes pity on Lawrence, a fellow inmate who has broken a CD player belonging to Marlon, the prison tough guy. Knowing Marlon might kill Lawrence, Gene sends the MEMS to fix the player. Lawrence is dazzled, but repays the favor by teaming up with Marlon to blackmail Gene. The two cons threaten to kill Gene's daughter Becky and grandson Phillip unless he uses the MEMS to help them break out of prison. When things turn ugly during the jailbreak, Marlon takes Gene's family hostage, now wanting to use the robots to commit crimes, but when he accidentally kills Gene while trying to shoot Becky the MEMS take revenge and kill him. The episode ends with the MEMS befriending Phillip and asking what he needs.

Closing narration

“It is said that our lives are measured by what we leave behind. But for rich man and poor, the most valuable legacy of all... is love.”


Ralph Waite ... Gene Morton
Richard Yearwood ... Lawrence
Ingrid Torrance ... Becky
Andrew Johnston ... Warden Taylor
Roddy Piper ... Marlon
Joel Palmer ... Phillip
Marc Baur ... Board Member
Dean Wray ... Tito
Tim Progosh ... Walter Black
Bill Croft ... Gabriel
Gerry Rousseau ... Jimmy
Michasha Armstrong ... Policeman
Benz Antoine ... Fence Guard

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