Created By: dalek955 on February 9, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on September 7, 2016

Alien Limbs

They have limbs, but not as we know them.

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Trope

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This trope is when a non-human being has an unusual type of limb that does duty as a hand or foot. Or even as other things. Tentacles, prehensile tongues, pseudopods... you name it, somebody's written about it.

For other types of strange appendages, see Artificial Limbs and Combat Tentacles. Subtrope of Bizarre Alien Biology and sister trope to Bizarre Alien Locomotion. May result in Operator Incompatibility for other species.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Elfen Lied the Diclonii look like humans but also possess a number of invisible (to anyone but themselves and the audience) "hands" called "vectors" that can extend for several meters and slice human flesh with ease. They are not exactly aliens but their origins are never quite elaborated upon.

    Film 
  • The aliens in Battleship have hands that are apparently four opposing fingers. Also their feet appear to be similar to dogs' or cats' feet, in that they appear to walk on their toes.

    Literature 
  • The mulefa in His Dark Materials have a single two-fingered trunk. Since even simple tasks, like tying a knot, require more than one individual, it strengthens the community's bond. They also have legs adapted to use a kind of giant disk-shaped seedpod as wheels.
  • Martians in Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star were mushroom-shaped entities capable of forming tentacle-like pseudopods.
  • The fithp from Footfall have twin elephant trunks that split into four little tentacles each.
  • In Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth novels, the Thranx have 'truhands' at the end of their praying mantis-style forelimbs. They look like four tentacles about five inches long coming out of the end of the limb. Also, their second pair of limbs (out of four) end in pincerlike 'foothands' which can do duty as either kind of limb.
  • Known Space: Puppeteers use their two heads as hands. The heads' lips are made of little fingerlike tentacles. In effect, this means that puppeteers can see and taste with their hands.
  • In David Brin's Uplift series, the g'Keks are a semi-artificial, gene-engineered species that actually have biological wheels.
  • In The Andalite Chronicles the future Visser Three turns up at one point with a pair of semi-sapient aliens with biological wheels instead of legs. Elfangor, the POV character, is dumbfounded.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Malcorians in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "First Contact" had fused phalanges with suction cups. Benzites from the same series had four opposing thumbs- two on each hand. The Traveler also had oddly-shaped hands, possessing fewer and larger fingers than humans.

    Video Games 

    Webcomics 
  • The wyverns from Dark Wings have two little claws on their wing joints that act as crude hands.
  • Bleen from Vexxarr have six thin tentacles sprouting from just under their heads.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Schlock himself is a carbosilicate amorph. He normally has two hand-shaped pseudopods and moves by sliding along, but in a pinch he can sprout an indefinite number of extra arms, and move by extending a big pseudopod from his underside with enough force to send himself flying several yards.
    • The same strip also has Neophants, elephants whose front feet can uncurl into hands, and Frellenti whose complete lack of arms is made up for by a prehensile tongue.

    Western Animation 
  • Lieutenant Arex, a bridge officer aboard the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Animated Series, has a third arm extending from his breastbone and a third leg between the other two. During "The Eye Of The Beholder," the away team on Lactra 7 is captured by gastropod aliens, which have one elephant-like appendage with three or four tendril fingers. The aliens put the away team in a zoo, because they regard humans as dumb animals.

    Real Life 
  • Single-celled organisms mostly use pseudopods.
  • Elephants' trunks are a good example of a functional "arm" that evolved non-homologously to primates' arms.
Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • February 10, 2012
    Kellor
    The mulefa in His Dark Materials have a single two-fingered trunk. Since even simple tasks, like tying a knot, require more than one individual, it strengthens the community's bond.
  • February 10, 2012
    fulltimeD
    The Malcorians in the Star Trek The Next Generation episode "First Contact" had fused phalanges with suction cups. Benzites from the same series had four opposing thumbs- two on each hand. The Traveler also had oddly-shaped hands, possessing fewer and larger fingers than humans.
  • February 10, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Martians in Robert Heinlein's Double Star were mushroom-shaped entities capable of forming "pseudopods"- tentacle-like extensions of their bodies.
  • February 10, 2012
    HaggisMcCrablice
    • Nightcrawler from X Men has two fingers and a thumb. In X Men Evolution he was given a holographic disguise which hid this by making the fingers look like two fingers held together.

    • Toad Tolansky uses his long sticky tongue to hold or grab objects. This really disgusts people around him.

    • Tung Lashor did this too. Hordak frequently got onto him for it.

  • February 10, 2012
    LobsterMagnus
    Also from Star Trek The Next Generation: While taking the Starfleet entrance exam, Wesley Crusher correctly identifies a seemingly completely human looking guy as being Zaldan, due to the alien's webbed hands.
  • February 11, 2012
    dalek955
    So nobody's seen an existing trope like this?
  • February 11, 2012
    Arivne
    Literature
    • In Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth novels, the Thranx have truhands at the end of their praying mantis-style forelimbs. They look like four tentacles about five inches long coming out of the end of the limb. A good view of one appears in the Michael Whelan painting on the cover of Nor Crystal Tears.
  • April 28, 2012
    fulltimeD
    ^^No. Only the Super Trope, Bizarre Alien Biology (which you should include a mention of in the description, since this is a Sub Trope of Bizarre Alien Biology).
  • June 20, 2012
    Xtifr
    Right. You should probably also find any examples already listed under Bizarre Alien Biology and copy them here, but don't delete them from that trope until this is launched. (And not even then, unless limbs are the only bizarrity mentioned.) Also, don't forget to add this trope to the index section of Bizarre Alien Biology when you do launch.

    • In David Brin's Uplift series, the g'Keks are a semi-artificial, gene-engineered species that actually have biological wheels.
  • March 15, 2013
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    One might find more examples in Bizarre Alien Locomotion
  • March 16, 2013
    Koveras
    Would the Diclonii from Elfen Lied count? They look like humans but also possess a number of invisible (to anyone but themselves and the audience) "hands" called "vectors" that can extend for several meters and slice human flesh with ease. They are not exactly aliens but their origins are never quite elaborated upon.
  • March 16, 2013
    robinjohnson
    Elephants' trunks are sort of a Real Life example. Ok, they're not aliens, but their trunks are a good example of a functional "arm" that evolved non-homologously to primates' arms.
  • March 16, 2013
    StarSword
    OP hasn't been here since last June. I guess I'll take this over.
  • March 16, 2013
    JonnyB
    The aliens in Battleship have hands that are apparently four opposing fingers. Also their feet appear to be similar to dogs' or cats' feet, in that they appear to walk on their toes.
  • March 17, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • Lieutenant Arex, a bridge officer aboard the Enterprise in Star Trek The Animated Series, has a third arm extending from his breastbone and a third leg between the other two. During "The Eye Of The Beholder," the away team on Lactra 7 is captured by gastropod aliens, which have one elephant-like appendage with three or four tendril fingers. The aliens put the away team in a zoo, because they regard humans as dumb animals.
  • May 7, 2015
    captainmarkle
    Tabletop Games
    • The Tyranids from Warhammer 40000 have developed a bizarrely versatile range of limbs for various species, with many organisms developing biological weaponry they can use for ranged combat.

    (Scratch that)
  • May 7, 2015
    BKelly95
    Film
    • The Last Starfighter has a scene where Alex accidentally steps on the appendage of one of his teammates.
      Alex: I'm sorry. It was an accident. I didn't mean to step on your, uh, whatever that is.

    Possible page quote?
  • Advertising
    • In a commercial for Energizer batteries, a pair of aliens who use the Energizer Bunny to recharge their spaceship have long legs on their shoulders, and short arms at the bottom of their bodies.
  • May 9, 2015
    Arivne
    Deleted the Circular Link in the Description.
  • May 9, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • The command bug from Starship Troopers has an appendage that's deployed from its mouth, which pierces the skull of a human officer, and thence extracts the brain tissue. Somehow, enough lobes are left intact that the command bug can "read" the human's memories, and thus learn human strategies, mechanics and weaknesses.
  • September 7, 2016
    DAN004
    Bump?
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