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[[quoteright:340:[[Series/DoctorWho http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Dalek_innards_6622.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:340:'''''[[CatchPhrase EXTERMINATE!]]''''']]

It's something that tends to happen with particularly advanced mentor-like alien species, [[SufficientlyAdvancedAliens Sufficiently Advanced]] AncientAstronauts and the like. You don't want to be something as uninspiring as a RubberForeheadAlien nor something as unphysical as an EnergyBeing while also maintaining some sense of secrecy and wonderment, so you take the "astronaut" idea and run with it. The aliens end up wearing large all-enclosing hazmat-like encounter suits that shield their frail physical selves from the elements.

The great thing is that because you don't know what their encounter-suited butts look like, they could be anything! The variety of abnormal suit shapes that can be worn by a performer is also greater than the variety possible with rubber faces. PeopleInRubberSuits still need the full detail and design of a whole new species, while this trope leaves things to the imagination. A permanent life in an encounter suit can also be justified a lot more than {{Humanoid Alien}}s: they have BizarreAlienBiology that can't stand our atmosphere, they're physically very frail by comparison, so it works like PoweredArmour and similar things.

May overlap at times with MobileSuitHuman if the "can" is human shaped. Contrast with ExposedExtraterrestrials.



[[folder: Film ]]

* The Emperor of the Arquillian Galaxy from ''Film/MenInBlack'', of course. He's the classic [[LittleGreenMen Little Green Man]] in a can... disguised as an [[MobileSuitHuman elderly Eastern European]] jeweler.
* The Mondoshawan from ''Film/TheFifthElement'' have really big waddling rears with tiny dog-like heads that give them a very odd Humpty Dumpty appearance.
* The aliens from ''Film/IndependenceDay''. The suit itself is explained as being some kind of organic technology and indeed the helmet portion looks like it's a solid external skull. This makes it retrospectively more badass that WillSmith's character knocked one out with one punch.
* The Skakoans from ''Franchise/StarWars'' are required to wear a full body environmental suit as they live on a planet with a high pressure atmosphere. Going to a 'normal' planet unaided would cause explosive decompression, like bringing a deep sea fish up to the surface.
** The Bounty Hunter Seripas from ''StarWarsTheCloneWars'' is also a straight example.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* [[TheDragon The One]] from ''Literature/LastLegionary'' is a mutated human with stunted limbs, wearing a massive golden exoskeleton that turns him into TheJuggernaut.
* The Creapii from Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Literature/TheDarkSideOfTheSun'' are always encountered in tentacled, ovoid environmental suits. Not because they're too frail to survive the kinds of atmospheres the other sentient species use, but because their natural habitat is the photospheres and upper corona of ''stars'' (with a class system based on how hot their home star is)


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** The Daleks (pictured above), though their suits aren't so much suits as little tanks in which utterly feeble bodies reside. In the Seventh Doctor's words, they're not so much little green men as "little green blobs in bonded polycarbide armor."
** The Ice Warriors, too: their big, hulking bodies are stated to be biomechanical spacesuits in their debut story. Though in a later episode it turns out that Ice Warriors are anything but frail outside of their suits; they stay in the suits primarily for cultural reasons related to honour.
** The Krotons are an especially [[OurMonstersAreWeird weird]] variant, even by ''Doctor Who'' standards - they are a form of semi-living crystal dependent on their TinCanRobot suits to have useful physical form. They need to breathe from a 'polarised centrifuge' to remain in this living state, but the closest thing to an actual death they have is just 'exhaustion', which is when their crystals revert to a simple (gaseous) state, and which is apparently temporary. In the ''Literature/EighthDoctorAdventures'' the Krotons' implied ability to inhabit any machine is made explicit when it is revealed they are able to possess Dalek ships.
** The Delegate from Arcturus in "The Curse of Peladon" is dependent on a huge black life support system out of which only his head is visible, enclosed in a solid clear dome that constantly spurts fluid. Some of his technology includes a sensor array, without which he becomes comatose, and a 'helium regenerator' which sabotaging would make the easiest way to kill him. Due to how much it restricts his movement and capacity for doing anything, he crosses over into EvilCripple.
* The Vorlons from ''Series/BabylonFive'', who not only need a completely alien atmosphere but also have their own reasons for wanting to hide their true appearance. Comes complete with NeglectfulPrecursor behaviour.
** They don't actually need that atmosphere, they just use it to discourage visitors.
*** In the series finale humans become like this too, though they don't need to; they probably took a lesson from the Vorlons about the advantages of standing around being cryptic when dealing with younger races.
** The Gaim from the same series wear encounter suits that resemble humanoids in gas masks. Underneath, they are insectoid and [[TakeOurWordForIt apparently]] far from humanoid. The suit serves both as environmental protection and a translator/speaker unit, as the Gaim are incapable of vocalizing most species' languages.
* In ''Series/StargateAtlantis'', the team encounters a group of aliens who kidnap Daniel (who's in the galaxy visiting) and Rodney. It's eventually revealed that [[spoiler:they're a group of rogue Asgard who have taken the degenerative cloning problem into their own hands]] and are using man-sized suits to exist on a poisonous planet with no stargate as a means of staying hidden.
* The Breen of ''Franchise/StarTrek'', who first appeared on-screen in ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'', come from a much more frigid environment than most humanoids and need environmental suits to interact with other races face-to-face.
** Though according to Weyoun, their planet is actually quite mild. It's also said that if you saw a Breen in the flesh, it'd turn you to stone. However, ''this'' is also clearly a lie, as Kira manages to steal one of their uniforms without any ill effects. In the StarTrekNovelVerse, there's more than one kind of Breen, they just all wear environment suits that make them look identical. Some of them need the refrigeration, some of them don't. Possibly, some of them turn you to stone and some of them don't as well.


[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* Most Tau warriors from ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', with suits ranging from ordinary armour to PowerArmour to MiniMecha, although [[HelmetsAreHardlyHeroic their spiritual leaders go bareheaded]]. They can all breathe our atmosphere unprotected, however.
** Also, [[FunetikAksent Ork Killa Kanz]], which are literally [[OurGoblinsAreDifferent little green men]] in [[TinCanRobot cans]].


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* The Quarians from ''Franchise/MassEffect'' wear them to protect their absent immune systems from having to deal with normal environment. From a more {{Doylist}} viewpoint, it helps make the [[SpaceJews Space Romani]] seem more hidden and closed off from the other races.
** Quarian spacesuits don't really leave much to the imagination, but the volus from the same series could look like anything under their bulky (or not?) suits. They even seem to have completely robotic "hands".
** You can just barely see hints of Tali's face through her helmet.. but they're so vague that they do little more than establish that it has a human-like configuration.
* The Unggoy (aka Grunts) from ''Franchise/{{Halo}}''. They are most often seen with [[GasMaskMooks masks on]], large tanks on their backs. (They breathe methane on their home planet, and carry it with them much like divers and astronauts.) Some higher-ranking Grunts may also have other armor on in addition to the methane tank, or the tank and mask may look different (as with the Heretic Grunts.)
* The Meklar from ''VideoGame/MasterOfOrion'' were originally this. As the series progressed, they gradually became {{Cyborg}}s, then full-on MechanicalLifeforms.
* The Tholians in ''VideoGame/StarTrekOnline'' can only survive in environments like the surface of Venus, so humans have to wear encounter suits when fighting them on extremely hot worlds. The Tholians likewise, will use their own [[http://images4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120704062148/startrek/images/8/80/Tholian_EV_Suit.jpg encounter suits]] when fighting humans in temperate environments.


[[folder: Webcomics ]]

* Sam Starfall from ''Webcomic/{{Freefall}}''. He wears an environment suit, but we've never seen his actual form. It's implied that it's [[BrownNote so horrible that it destroys the minds of anyone who sees it]]. Also, his suit is deliberately designed to be cute, as a means of distracting people so he can steal from them.