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Crop Circles
This 1678 pamphlet (relating a farmer's Deal with the Devil gone bad) may be the first recorded claim of paranormal crop circle activity.
To be fair, it might not be two blokes with a plank of wood and some string, it could be aliens. But if it is... where did they get the plank of wood and the string from?
Harry Hill's TV Burp, on Danny Dyer: I Believe in UFOs

Crop circles are large geometric patterns that appear in fields of crops, usually corn (because cornfields are creepy), and are created by flattening the stalks in such a way that each individual one remains undamaged. They are usually presented as being supernatural in origin, with the most common explanation being that they were created by extraterrestrials, although the reasons behind why aliens visiting Earth would want to do such a thing varies.

In fiction, the question of who's going to pay for the vandalized crops never seems to arise. Not to be confused with crop rotation.

Compare/contrast Aliens Steal Cattle, a much more comedic way for aliens to attack a farm.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comics 
  • In a Duck comic, Donald Duck and Daisy visit Ireland and discover Crop Circles are created by dancing fairies.
  • In a Zits strip, Pierce thinks aliens are leaving crop circles in his hair in an attempt to communicate with him. It turns out just to be bed head.
  • One of The X-Files comic has Mulder go to a Crop Circle in progress and discovers a kid with a board and a flashlight flattening the stalks. The kid gets away, and may not have actually existed.

    Film 
  • The movie Signs features a few of these, as it's a movie about aliens.
  • Parodied in Scary Movie 3. The aliens forgo tracing intricate symbols and simply draw a huge arrow with the words "ATTACK HERE".
    • Despite the fact that the aliens are not, in fact, here to invade.

    Literature 
  • Discworld: In Lords and Ladies, the impending visitation of the elves causes crop circles to spontaneously generate in everything from an herb garden to a handful of seeds sprouting in a damp cloth.
  • In Martians in Maggody, the appearance of crop circles in moonshiner Raz Buchanon's field draws a horde of UFO fanatics to the little Arkansas town, eager to photograph (for $10 a head, payable to a grinning Raz) this "inexplicable" phenomenon.

    Live Action Television 
  • Dark Skies: they build a crop circle to try to lure the aliens into landing, so they could capture them. (Trivia: this episode came out very shortly after the guys who claimed to have started the crop circle phenomenon revealed themselves as hoaxers.)
  • In the episode "Vanished" of NCIS the team investigates crop circles and discovers one was caused by a helicopter and the others by the murderers attempting to cover up their crime.
  • In an episode of Drop the Dead Donkey Damien is in the newsroom when Dave takes a phone call, covers the mouthpiece with his hand and shouts across to him, "It's the farmer on the phone, wants to know how big you want him to make the crop circles."
  • Doctor Who:
    • Episode "Let's Kill Hitler", Amy and Rory contact the Doctor by making a crop circle of his name when he wasn't answering his phone. Which does summon the Doctor with an exasperated "Really?!" while holding up an aerial picture in the following day's newspaper.
    • An advertisement for "The Day of the Doctor" had some Stepford Suburbia housewives mowing their lawns; an overhead shot shows they've created a Gallifreyan symbol in the grass.
  • The X-Files:
    • In episode "Genderbender", there were human-looking aliens residing on Earth in a community that resembled Amish lifestyle with sect-like vibe. When they leave at the end of the episode, Mulder and Scully come to a large Crop Circle in the field. It's implied it's a print of their spaceship.
    • "all things": Agent Mulder plans a trip to England to investigate a case of highly complex formations of Crop Circles that keep appearing in a pattern. Agent Scully is of course not interested in tracking down some sneaky farmers who happened to ace geometry in high school.
  • The Neighbors: Everyone in Hidden Hills, a perfect suburban community, is an alien. Jackie makes one of these Crop Circles things in a field when she is upset.

    Music 
  • The outer cover of Led Zeppelin's Box Set shows the shadow of a zeppelin passing over an elaborate set of crop circles, although on closer inspection the "cornfield" in which the circles have been cut looks suspiciously like a carpet.
  • The DVD included in the special edition of Korn's CD, The Path Of Totality has the band performing live in a crop circle in the middle of a field. They did it as a homage to Pink Floyd's Live At Pompeii.

    Radio 
  • In the 1990’s radio spoof ‘’The X Fools’’, Agent Smoulder and Sulky discover the crop circles are being created by a secret conspiracy of English nerds armed with rulers and string who call themselves Circle Jerks. They solve this problem by introducing them to the internet instead.
    • In another episode, the agents rush over to a famous actor's house because they think he's being abducted by aliens, but he denies everything. Sulky realies he's lying from the crop circle burnt into his shag carpet.

    Video Games 
  • In Spore, during the Space Stage, you can use Crop Circles to "communicate" with more primitive (meaning "not in space yet") species. There doesn't seem to be any real game effect, but they look cool.
  • Crop circles can appear in farm fields in SimCity 3000 when UFO attacks occur.
  • In Universe at War, Hierarchy Glyph Carvers can create crop circles by carving out glyphs in the ground (not necessarily in corn crops). These are actually "bar codes" which the orbiting motherships scan and drop/teleport in the appropriate buildings/walkers. If you see a crop circle in your area, chances are that a nuclear powered Humongous Mecha Base On Legs with lots of dakka is going to drop in and start blowing up stuff.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of Invader Zim has Dib job-shadowing a paranormal investigator who takes him out to investigate some crop circles. Dib quickly points out that they're caused by a cow which is rolling back and forth across the field.
  • In Rocko's Modern Life, Heffer is working as a groundskeeper in a golf course and he keeps making crop circles with his lawn mower. At the end of the episode, aliens look at the circles and ask "Who keeps writing this stuff?"
  • On the first episode of South Park, a report on alien sightings features a crop circle formation in the exact likeness of Cartman, who has been implanted with an alien probe.
    Cartman: Hey! That looks just like... Tom Selleck.
  • The Pixar Short "Unidentified Flying Mater" had Mator create crop circles shaped like tires.
  • The Alliance in Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends stages these in their efforts to keep people thinking the Roswell Conspiracy is real.

    Real Life 
  • Crop Circles are usually made by farmers or others out to prank people. They take a board with a string, and stand on the board, moving it by the string, so that it flattens the cornstalks without breaking them. Or something like that. Note that crop circles' frequency of appearance closely follows the change in value of the crops.
    • They have also caused several major law suits when the circle creator was not the farmer, these things frequently destroy tens of thousands of dollars worth of crops per glyph.
  • Crop circle pranksters can fall victim to Poe's Law since many of the more ardent UFO conspiracy believers decide that the circle makers must have been possessed by the alien designers of the circles.

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