Whenever there's some kind of alien artifact found, or an extraterrestrial ship spotted in space, the government will always have some kind of official plan
for dealing with First Contact
. This trope is for when there is a "team" assembled, usually comprised of scientists, mathematicians, cunning linguists
, and usually a few oddball specialties.
The reasoning is that, because nobody knows how the heck to talk with the aliens or how to interact with them, you'll want a team with a wealth of knowledge to draw on in order to ease the First Contact
. For example, if you can't understand the Aliens language, you might have your mathematician demonstrate a little First Contact Math
. Or, if the aliens behavior is bizarre and incomprehensible, you might have an anthropologist on the team to help discern their meaning.
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- In Sphere by Michael Crichton, when an alien ship is discovered at the bottom of the ocean, the government sends a team composed of a psychologist, a mathematician, a biologist, and an astrophysicist.
- Later becomes a subversion: the psychologist who wrote the "Emergency First Contact Plan" admits that, after having been approached by the government to produce the plan, he thought it was so ridiculous that he lazily based all his recommendations on popular science fiction.
- According to Agent Kay in the movie Men in Black, first contact with aliens was made in 1961, with 9 humans present: "7 agents, 1 astronomer, and 1 kid who got lost on the wrong backroad", who was, in fact, Kay himself.
- In The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) when they can't do a world leader group meeting with Klaatu, due to everyone's squabbling, they send in the best people from a number of different fields for the big formal meeting with him.
- Played with in Close Encounters of the Third Kind: the aliens are recruiting a First Contact Team from the humans via subliminal communication. The government has its own team ready, but the only human the aliens will deal with is Roy Neary, who is the only one of the alien-recruited humans to actually make it all the way to the contact site.
- In Communion of Dreams by James Downey, when an artifact is discovered on Titan (Saturn's largest moon), the government sends a team similar to the Sphere example, but also includes an anthropologist, an expert on Game Theory, and an artist.
- In Blindsight, by Peter Watts:
Who you do send to meet the alien when the alien doesn't want to meet?
You send a linguist with multiple personalities carved surgically into her brain.
You send a biologist so radically interfaced with machinery that he sees x-rays and tastes ultra-sound, so compromised by grafts and splices he no longer feels his own flesh.
You send a pacifist warrior whose career-defining moment was an act of treason.
You send a monster to command them all, an extinct hominid predator once called vampire, recalled from the grave with the voodoo of recombinant genetics and the blood of sociopaths.
And you send a synthesist - an informational topologist with half his mind gone - as an interface between here and there, a conduit through which the Dead Center might hope to understand the Bleeding Edge.
- In the novel Contact, an international team is assembled in order to make contact with the aliens who sent the signal.
- In The Voyage of the Space Beagle, the eponymous ship is staffed with a wide selection of specialists, including a Nexialist, a scientist who specializes in the general use and assimilation of knowledge.
- In the Salvadorean novel Yo Soy La Memoria ("I Am The Memory") by Hugo Lindo there is a team comprised of the wisemen from several different fields, tasked with checking upon some wreckage. It included: an Astrologer, a Physics man, a Biologist, a walking memory log, and a Medic.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, The Essential Guide to Alien Species reveals that the Old Republic had these.
- In Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet series, the fleet is sent into alien space with xenologists who had attempted to work out how to contact aliens if they ever found them. They turn out to be much less useful than a general-turned-politican who had been sent along as an official ambassador, and who had many fewer preconceived notions.
Live Action TV
- Any Star Trek episode that revolved around first contact, from any season, often had this with the away team, although they avert it almost as much.
- Stargate SG-1 had the main team be a pretty balanced collection in their team leaders. Also somewhat present in the Stargate movie.
- Similar to SG-1, the team in Stargate Atlantis is frequently sent out on first contact missions, though they eschew an anthropologist in favor of a "native guide" in the form of Teyla.
- The pilot episode of the short lived sci-fi show Threshold starts with one of these being organized.
- The Journal Entries have White's Teams, which are often based on White's Ships, named for White's Theorem: "A space-faring species' first encounter with another space-faring species is most likely to be a distress signal." This occurs multiple times both on-screen and in backstories.
- Although only one of them is in on it at first, the three protagonists of The Dig are such a team. Ostensibly, they were organised in order to stop an asteroid collision, but the government also picked them on the basis that the asteroid had intelligent beings behind it - and it did.
- In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, the expedition into the Schwarzwelt consists of both scientists and soldiers. It's not initially conceived of as a First Contact Team, but they end up making contact with intelligent life within the Schwarzwelt, and their varied skills help see the mission through to completion.
- Any diplomatic mission meant to travel beyond the sphere of a given ruler's sphere; to chase an interesting rumor for instance or to begin relations with a previously isolated people. These were usually sent for utilitarian rather then scientific purposes and some behaved quite brutally. Yet in fact they were a first contact team and may have been the inspiration for this Trope.
- Vasco De Gama was sent around the Cape of Good Hope for instance; in his case the mission was botched through bad intelligence. They found India and found it had been almost as rich as legends painted. Unfortunately they hadn't planned for that just yet and had only trade beads in for gifts because they were expecting to meet local tribes; and of course beads were just insulting to the Grand Mogul. In this case they were able to settle for another kind of means which was good enough for the purpose as no local prince had much of a navy.
- The Polo family had the patronage of the papacy which thought they might be able to find a potential ally against the Moslems.
- One of the first explorers in history was a Chinese courtier sent to an unmapped kingdom which was famous for horses(which the Chinese army was short on), and rumored to have a grudge against some of China's enemies.
- Commodore Perry was America's first contact team to Japan. Other than a small Dutch presence on an island just offshore of Kagoshima who were only allowed to trade in Japan once a year, it was the first large-scale Western presence in Japan in 250 years of Tokugawa Shogunate rule (Japan having all but shut itself off from the rest of the world as a result of adopting its sakoku policy).
- Once Japan realized just how far behind it was technologically, the shogunate sent its own embassy on a tour of Europe, eventually setting the stage for its very rapid industrialization in the Meiji Era.