Humans Through Alien Eyes
Koopa Police Radio:
Alien species escaping from police detention.
Luigi: Aliens? We gotta deal with aliens too?
We are? Whoa, cool!
Stories that have humans interact with aliens who are actually alien
run into the fact that we're as weird to them as they are to us. This can cause the most remarkable misunderstandings....
This seems to be a heavily literary trope, perhaps because the basic concepts are easier to convey in writing. One variant has humans as cosmic abominations
to primitive aliens. See also Culture Clash
. Many times, they think Humans Are Ugly
. This can also be used for a nice, satisfying Author Tract
with the aliens puzzling "But why do they (insert the author's worldview's opposite here
If the aliens are the good guys, then it is Humans Are The Real Monsters
. If the aliens are more socially and technologically advanced, it's Humans Are Morons
. If the aliens want to figure out humanity, then Humanity Is Infectious
. If the aliens completely freak out and go insane at the sight of humans, then it is Humans Are Cthulhu
. Can result in Alien Arts Are Appreciated
See also Xenofiction
, which does not necessarily feature humans, but takes the viewpoint of truly alien
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Anime and Manga
- Though not an alien per se, Sebastian from Black Butler has a chapter dedicated entirely to his view of humans. While he doesn't find them unattractive physically (judging by the fact that he sleeps with a couple), he finds most wants and desire to be trivial and their very personalities abhorrent most of the time and finds kitties to be more pleasurable to be around, explaining to the viewers that there is nothing in Hell half as cute as a cat.
- Tomoe from Kamisama Kiss doesn't seem to understand human emotions a lot of times. Mizuki is pretty much in the same boat.
- It comes up occasionally in ElfQuest.
- The plot of Mender's Tale revolves around an elf trying to understand humans better. He thinks the best way to do that is sleeping with a couple of women, while the humans in question have what we would consider extremely conservative views in those matters. Huge problems ensue.
- Jink features an alien race which at first cannot even communicate directly with humans. One individual, Firstborn Newbreed, is made as a sort of ambassador and sent to learn more about humans. He has not the slightest idea about etiquette and is very honest ("Your kind are all so ugly"). When someone tells him this is considered rude, he's devastated to the point of making serious requests of "Kill me now!", because courtesy is very important in his culture, so he failed his mission.
- One Uncle Scrooge comic has Scrooge reactivating a crashed alien satellite, causing his money bin to warp to deep space without him. To get it back, he follows in Gyro's spaceship, only to find it has been claimed by the alien equivalent of rednecks, who treat the ducks as hostile alien beasts incapable of intelligent thought, since they can't speak their language.
- In case you didn't already guess - yes, it is an Affectionate Parody of 1950s sci-fi B-movies (specifically the "alien encounter" kind), and yes, it's written by Don Rosa.
- In A Distant Soil, an alien who is undercover as a botanist brings plant samples back to the mothership. He walks over to Liana on his ship and asks her what Earthlings call that beautiful flower in his hand. Liana looks surprised at this, because this flower is a Dandelion, which as anyone would know is considered a weed.
- This is actually a rather big part of the early arc(s) of the series. Rieken finds it odd that there is a pregnant woman walking around town and thinks she should be sitting down. (Also because Ovanians are test tube babies.) When Liana calls him out on having sex with Bast, Rieken finds it odd that humans see adultery as a crime.
- A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen issue has Allen Quartermain's body taken over by a fragment of Yuggoth, the Wendigo. A few paragraphs are devoted to what the Wendigo is barely capable of comprehending about Allen's body; describing it as, "a soft, five-pointed star of rind and pulp enclosing a strange, spider-like machinery of brittle bone."
- The sixteenth chapter of "Reunions Are A Bitch" is probably one of the better examples out there, and could almost be considered an essay on the subject. If for no other reason than that it takes into account just how much raw data is being pumped out from Earth every second, with many Colonial intelligence operatives commenting that they have no idea what is fiction and what is reality due to all the radio signals coming from Earth getting all jumbled together, not to mention the fact that they're being broadcast in dozens of different languages. They end up thinking at the end of the chapter that Star Trek was a documentary, the Earth is infested with Kaiju, the Third Reich was the good guy in World War II, and that the Earth is secretly ruled by an evil dictatorship that brainwashed everyone into believing they're monotheists.
- The Mass Effect fic First Contact presents a first contact scenario where an asari exploration vessel discovers Earth in 2034. It is basically fueled by this trope.
- Peter Watts' "The Things" is a chilling take on The Thing (1982) from creature's POV. From the perspective of a millennia-old empathic shape-shifting intergalactic ambassador who can spread its consciousness across separated parts, we Earthlings aren't just primitive but barely sapient tumors that walk.
"I will work behind the scenes. I will save them from the inside, or their unimaginable loneliness will never end. These poor savage things will never embrace salvation. I will have to rape it into them."
- Article2 is about a human spaceship crashing into Equestria. The story is told from the perspective of the Equestrians
- Pink Personal Hell And Altering Fate has Pinkie Pie mention how she finds humans to be weird.
- Kuyou Suou shows this trope when the story is seen from her point of view in Kyon: Big Damn Hero: for example, she observes Mikuru baking cookies with childish fascination. Bonus Points for that being the first time she has the time to observe anything in detail note so there are lots of first experiences for her.
- In the Lunaverse sidestory Helping... hands?, Lyra ends up turned into a human by a miscast zebra ritual (and unlike her fanonical depiction, she does not enjoy it). Throughout the narrative, her bizarre new anatomy is referred to in equine or otherwise familiar terms ("flank", "dock", "barrel"; her hands are referred to as "paws" or "claws"). Lyra herself is referred to as a hominid or "furless bear-creature". She also spends most time naked or wrapped in a borrowed cloak since she doesn't know she's supposed to cover herself more, but the narrative never turns to fanservice and nopony finds her freakish appearance attractive anyway.
- This is the premise of Mating Habits Of The Earthbound Human, which is essentially an alien wildlife documentary about, well, human mating habits.
- The basic premise of the CGI movie Planet 51, where a space-suited human accidentally terrorizes an extraterrestrial suburb (as well as an extraterrestrial "doggy").
- Avatar did this subtly by holding the camera at Na'vi height whenever the two species interact to make humans look a bit out of place.
- The main plot of Happy Feet involved Mumble trying to find the aliens who had "abducted" another bird (radio-tagging) and were taking the penguins' fish. One of the final shots, of the aliens' ship (a helicopter) landing and the heavily suited aliens stepping out, is filmed with all the awe of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
- Not quite aliens, but in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, it's easy to tell which of the beast folk NPCs in Belinsk originated as beasts instead of humans. They're the ones who comment on how weird it is to be walking on their hind feet, wearing clothes, and cooking meat before they eat it.
- Mass Effect actually has references to how aliens respond to the oddness of humans, as well as each other. For example :
- Liara T'Soni, one of the recruitable party members, finds humans to be quite odd and strange at first, with their short lifespans clashing with her own (she's the oldest person on the ship, aside from Wrex, despite being twenty something by asari standards).
- In the novel Mass Effect Revelation, a batarian businessman spends a good paragraph describing all the aspects of humans that he hates and how strange they look compared with his own species. The main reason for the latter is that to batarians everyone with less than four eyes looks stupid and unsophisticated - presumably because they are unable to form expressions that the batarians would recognize as cultured.
- The turians in general take duty very seriously, and conscription on their homeworld, marking the beginning of adulthood as well as citizenship, is universal. When the Alliance liberates Shanxi from turian occupation, the turians are surprised that a species that hasn't even expanded enough to have made any previous first-contact is able to turn them back at all. When the First Contact War is settled diplomatically and things cool off a little, the turians are more surprised to learn that only 3% of humans serve in the military. There's also the fact that since there's no such thing as a turian civilian, they regard bombarding houses from orbit to flush out defenders as a legitimate tactic and can't understand why humans regard the Shanxi invasion as brutal.
- Shepard can also ask Grunt if any of the tank imprints he's received deal with humans. The krogan's response is that humans are physically frail compared to krogans, and that he only needs to penetrate a blade a krogan finger's depth to sever a human's spine. He next states that everybody is physically frail compared to the krogan, and humans are on the tougher end of the scale.
- The geth are the best example of this in the series, although it applies to all sapient species. The geth are a race of artificial intelligence programs who are in constant contact with each other. They know each other's thoughts, and make decisions based on consensus, thoroughly discussing an issue with each other at the speed of light. Bodies are also considered unimportant, because they can just upload themselves to any type of form they might need. They also don't truly die, simply being uploaded to a different body if one is destroyed. To them, being alone is not just impossible but completely alien and unknowable. Every geth that joins a collective makes that collective more intelligent as a whole, able to process data faster and see things from different viewpoints; while a lone geth is more or less inanimate, a thing of programmed responses and reactions, barely even an animal. They don't understand how other species function without achieving consensus (rather than "forcing" consensus, as democracies do), and tend to describe things in their own terms (an organic's body is referred to as "hardware"; having reactions shaped by it is considered rather weird by the "software" geth). They really want to understand organics, but it's difficult because of how different they are, combined with having trouble understanding organic emotions. Interestingly, the geth seem to be developing emotions of their own, even if they don't realize it.
- Though it's interesting to note that Legion seems unable to understand why the Heretics, (a rogue faction of Geth that worship the Reapers), would do such a thing as implant spies in their networks, since among the Geth there is no such thing as deceit. When the Heretics chose to leave the Geth Consensus, the others freely let them go, since they believed that all life should self-determinate, even if they did not agree with their decision. The fact that the Heretics are capable of subterfuge and actively seek to undermine them was something they never considered.
- Played for laughs in a (sadly cut) line from a turian security guard. "Excuse me for asking, but... you're a female, right? You've got those funny bumps, like an asari."
- In Persona 3, Velvet Room residents Elizabeth and Theodore look human, but have some very odd ideas about the human world, as the protagonist discovers in the course of helping to satisfy their intense curiosity about it. Elizabeth assumes that you have to run up the escalator the wrong way as a "test of strength" and that the jungle gym in the playground is a house. Theo thinks the circular running track at school is a metaphor, and when the protagonist answers his request for oil by bringing him a can of machine oil, he assumes this means you deep-fat fry machines in it: "I'll use it on Mech Fries next time!" Both of them interpret the police station's Missing Persons board as a list of bounty heads, comparing it to their own regular requests for the protagonist to go kill a certain type of Shadow and bring back Twenty Bear Asses as proof of their strength, and so on.
- One riddle in Professor Layton and the Curious Village involves identifying a thing based on how an alien might describe its use.
- Star Control has a species known as the VUX, which humans claim is an acronym for "Very Ugly Xenoform" - and for good reason, since these aliens are hideously ugly... by human standards. In the VUX's eyes, however, it is the humans who are hideous ("You humans are SO ugly, that I get my kids to behave by holding a picture of you behind my back and I tell the kids that if they aren't good, I'll show it to them!")
- Just how ugly are humans? Their necks move, meaning that humans all look as if they are casually suffering from grotesquely broken necks.
- Strange Journey has the demons deeply confused and not exactly pleased with humanity. Mitra is conducting experiments on them (with conclusions like "It seems humans require something called 'blood' to survive"), and demon negotiations frequently require you to explain or justify humanity's actions.
- In the strategy game Sword of the Stars, the lizard-like Tarkas find humans disturbing in an uncanny valley-like fashion. We come across as androgynous and childlike, even cute, to the point that they find fighting us in boarding action difficult. Sort of like we would find it hard to shoot a race resembling 10-year olds in the face.
- Hivers find human individuality and ability to multipurpose puzzling, and think human perfumes are incredibly overpowering. They also zero in on females during boarding actions regardless of actual target value, instinctively attack the oestrogen source (aiming for a queen).
- The psychic space dolphin Liir also find our tendency to eat other creatures disturbing, and find religion a highly puzzling concept. Hivers and Liir are the only races that have an easy time at all telling the difference between men and women due to a lack of obvious dimorphism (Hivers because of their sense of smell, Liir because they're Hermaphrodites and any dimorphism looks obvious).
- In League of Legends the champion Cho'Gath the Terror of the Void considers humans to be "hideous creatures" and "a scourge upon the world" despite being an immense, chitinous, 6-limbed horror from the nightmare space between the dimensions.
- Nocturne, a similarly eldritch being with the equally cheery title the Living Nightmare, finds life as we know it - including humans, and especially summoners - to be disgusting and offensive, and goes out of his way to annihilate as much of it as possible.
- Played straight out in Invader Zim when Dib's guidance counselor asks some aliens, "So you guys are real aliens from outer space?", to which one answers, "Well to us, YOU'RE the aliens."
- In Transformers Animated, Optimus Prime makes the mistake of asking how new humans are manufactured. We don't actually hear the answer Sari whispers into Prime's ear, but judging from his shocked expression, it seems safe to assume she told him the truth◊. Bulkhead and Bumblebee also saw Sari with a robot dog and thought she was the pet.