"You still don't understand what you're dealing with, do you? A perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility."Alien
is a multimedia franchise and the first to successfully combine science fiction with Body Horror
and actually make it scary, instead of cheesy. Its fundamental premise comes down to various encounters with with the title aliens, nicknamed "Xenomorphs." Their main characteristics include aggression, acidic blood
and using other organics to spawn
. The franchise spans several comic books, video games and foremost a tetralogy of films, each with a different visionary director and all starring Sigourney Weaver
In 2004, the Aliens got paired up with another cinematic space monster, the Predator
, in Alien vs. Predator
, loosely based on a Massive Multiplayer Crossover franchise of comic books, video games and novels
dating back to 1993. Its sequel, Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem
(2007) picks up right after the previous film as the Predator spaceship is taking off. Prometheus
has apparently made the AVP series Canon Discontinuity
The Alien VS. Predator
timeline is as follows:
There is also a Dark Horse Comics
series which began prior to the release of the third film and thus occupies an Alternate Continuity
. The comics continue onward from the end of Aliens
and focus primarily on an older Newt and Hicks, continuing the story directly for three volumes before dividing into a number of self-contained spinoff stories.
There have also been several tie-in novels
, from the Alan Dean Foster
novelizations of the movies to adaptations of the comic books.
A prequel to Alien
directed by Ridley Scott
, was released in June 2012. It is Scott's first foray back into the Alien
franchise in particular and science-fiction in general since the release of Blade Runner
A canon sequel to Aliens
has been released in the form of a video game called Aliens: Colonial Marines
. Gearbox Software is the developer. The game takes place shortly after the events in Aliens
and focuses on a response team sent to secure LV-426 and the colony of Hadley's Hope.
In October 2014, SEGA released Alien: Isolation
- a Survival Horror
game developed by The Creative Assembly. Set 15 years after the first film, it focuses on Ellen Ripley's daughter, Amanda, now a technician for the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. When Amanda hears that the flight recorder for the Nostromo
(her mother's ship) has been found and is being held on board a remote space station, she gets the chance to go on the next flight out. When she and her crew arrive, however, they discover that the station is damaged, most of the crew is dead while survivors loot what they can find, and apparently a monster is roaming around the station,
slaughtering anything it comes across. It's a solid attempt at Revisiting the Roots
of the franchise, focusing more on stealth-based gameplay as you explore the station, all the while being stalked by a single Xenomorph.
Also in 2014, 20th Century Fox oversaw the writing of the Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report
by S.D Perry and the a trilogy of novels by Tim Lebbon, James A. Moore, and Christopher Golden, which are canon and serve as a Continuity Reboot
for the franchise's expanded universe.In 2015, it was confirmed that Neill Blomkamp
would direct a movie in the franchise after he revealed concept art for the project, which he had abandoned at the time. The concept art and cryptic comments suggested that the movies set after Aliens
would be put under Canon Discontinuity
, but Blomkamp himself later confirmed
that this would not
be the case, though the film would have an especially close connection to the first two movies. Other plot details on this project are currently unclear, though it's been hinted that there will be ties to Prometheus
and it's been stated that the movie will focus on completing Ellen Ripley's Character Arc
. Ridley Scott will be producing it.
The timeline for the films in the series are, in order:
This franchise in general provides examples of:
open/close all folders
- Nested Mouths: The Aliens. Probably the most iconic case.
- Nonhumans Lack Attributes: The Xenomorphs have no genitalia. We hope.
- Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: You can see there's no consistency on the naming (which is why it's one of The Angry Video Game Nerd's targets here).
- One-Gender Race/Monogender Monsters: Xenomorphs are canonicaly all-female. One deleted scene showed that the average drone can lay eggs when separated from the Hive.
- Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Averted. The first two films are silent about religion, but
- In Alien³ the inmates of the prison colony have got religion.
- In Alien: Resurrection the space station has a chapel, and one character makes the Sign of the Cross upon entering, which is a typically Catholic observance and a somewhat old-fashioned one at that. This character is later revealed to be an android, and there is a mention of androids investigating religion for a morality which is chosen, rather than imposed through programming.
- In Prometheus, Elizabeth Shaw is a Christian. Not much is made of this, but she clearly keeps her faith - her last act is to give the date, in the style "year of Our Lord."
- Phlegmings: Every time the aliens appear.
- Right Man in the Wrong Place: Ripley, particularly in the second film.
- Robotic Reveal: When someone starts leaking milk-colored Symbolic Blood, you've got one of these.
- Rule of Scary: There are plenty of rationalizations of the xenomorph's life cycle, the circumstances, and behavior of various characters, but in the end it all comes down to this.
- Sculpted Physique: The Alien, which is not surprising considering artist H. R. Giger's other works. This use of the trope actually makes sense production wise since the alien's black and tube-like exterior made it blend in on the spacecraft. This is so effective in the first film, that the first time we see the adult Alien, it's hanging in full view of the camera and you probably mistook it for piping!note
- Sequel Escalation: Alien has a single xenomorph preying on civilians. Aliens has a full colony of bugs pitted against a platoon of Space Marines. The third movie reverts back to the original scenario. The fourth movie escalates it to a whole hive of Aliens again.
- Silicon-Based Life: Xenomorphs are apparently silicon based.
- Sleeper Starship: FTL travel apparently takes months so they use cryo.
- Sole Survivor: Newt in the Newt's Tale comic series
- Space Clothes: Averted. The crew members wear normal clothes. People entering cryogenic sleep strip down to their underwear; otherwise, they usually walk around in civilian/military attire. In the opening scene of Alien, the clothes are distinctly reminiscent of diapers, as the lethargic crew are "born" from closed spaces into the white room controlled by the AI "Mother".
- Space Is Noisy: There are some flight-cruising sounds, and in the fourth one, an explosion.
- Space Marine: A platoon of Colonial Marines is dispatched to investigate a human colony that has gone silent. They find a xenomorph hive and are largely wiped out, destroying the hive and killing the Queen in turn.
- Starfish Aliens: The Aliens.
- Suspiciously Stealthy Predator: The xenomorphs. They nest in warm, humid places which help mask their infrared profile, their bodies blend in well with darkness and pipes, and they can remain completely motionless. It is almost as though they are perfectly adapted to concealing themselves in an obviously artificial environment.
- Symbolic Blood: Androids have white blood and organs. Naturally, both the android in the first film and Bishop get torn apart so it sprays everywhere. In Alien, the insides of the android were made from milk, pasta, and glass marbles. Apparently Lance Henriksen got food poisoning from said milky blood while shooting that scene.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: The Queen Alien's feet are shaped like high-heeled shoes.
- Theme Naming: Each synthetic character has a name from the first three letters of the alphabet, in accordance with their order of appearance: Ash, Bishop and Call. Prometheus continues this trend with David.
- Took a Level in Badass: Ripley's mutation from being a scientist to a badass alien killer is a running theme through the franchise.
- Trapped With Monster Plot: The first film is one of the most famous examples, and almost every entry in the franchise is also an example.
- Trope Codifier: The series as a whole is this for Used Future, along with Star Wars (which Cameron cites as a direct inspiration). Aliens in particular defined the visual style for humans and their military tech in a Standard Sci Fi Setting. Babylon 5, FreeSpace, StarCraft, Halo, and Mass Effect (to name a few) all draw on it.
- United Space of America: it's all but explicitly stated that the US is still a superpower centuries in the future, complete with its own colonies. Also, the Colonial Marines are clearly shown as American.
- Used Future: The first film in particular is a notable early example: the cold, underlit grungy ship looks like a run-down refinery ship. It's a big break from the sparkly white corridors and spandex jumpsuits.
- Vertical Kidnapping: The Aliens are fond of doing this. Famous last words include "Maybe they don't show up on infrared at all..." and "This is rumor control, here are the FACTS."
- Villain Ball: In the Dark Horse comic, a Company plant (and a psychopath) kills an officer to prove to his hostages how ruthless he is, while said officer is attempting to flat-out tell him that his plan to infect the marines will not work because they are all androids.
- Villain-Based Franchise: The franchise in general is this, but not the movie series due to centering on Ripley.
- Why Isn't It Attacking?: Quoted almost word for word by one of the Android Marines in the Dark Horse comic. This was the first major indicator that the marines were not what they believed themselves to be.
- You Are in Command Now: In the Dark Horse comic series, at least at one point, it's Newt's turn to step up to the plate.
- You Keep Using That Word: The Alien "Quadrilogy" DVD set. They invented that word for marketing purposes. It would actually be called a Tetralogy.
- Zee Rust: Spaceship electronics are based on bulky 1970s computers like the Apple II series which were considered cutting-edge at their time.
- Zombie Infectee: Most people who know they're incubated by an Alien Facehugger, and its effects, choose to bite the bullet or die in a Heroic Sacrifice. One memorable scene from Alien: Resurrection involved an infectee bear-hugging the scientist responsible for his infection, forcing the Chestburster to go through his chest and the scientist's head, taking his murderer with him to the afterlife. This was actually done in the comic, many years before, but the artists had the creature enter the researcher's chest.