The name of an alien race will almost always be derived from the name of their home planet. This trope seems to have started with fictional creatures from a real planet or star; the aliens hail from Mars or Polaris, so it made sense to call these creatures Martians or Polarisoids. But by now it goes beyond that, into cases where the aliens' home world is every bit as fictional as the creatures themselves. This trope is the reason why, as detailed in Humans by Any Other Name
, aliens will tend to call the human race by a word like "Earthling."
Bear in mind, of course, that there is some logic to all this. We Puny Earthlings
do, after all, refer to our nationality as being a variation on the root word of our country's name (technically it's often the other way around, linguistically). For aliens, though, the name derived from the planet is usually used to refer to a species as a whole rather than just those individuals who are actually from
May be an odd side effect of Translation Convention
or Translator Microbes
. Often a side effect of a Planet of Hats
Also applies to humans on occasion, if a work refers to humans as Terrans, our homeworld as Planet Terra
, or both. See also Species Surname
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Anime and Manga
- Dragon Ball Z: Used with the Namekians, but averted with the Saiyans, whose planet is called Vegeta, named after the Saiyan King. And before he renamed it, it was called "Plant".
- Thus much frustration and confusion from the Plantians.
- Subject of a gag in Tenchi Muyo!: When Tenchi first meets Sasami, he immediately assumes that she's come from a planet called Sasami. Why he jumps to this conclusion is a bit of a headscratcher, though he was having kind of a bad day and probably wasn't thinking straight.
- Krypto the Superdog is named after his home planet. It'd be like naming your dog Eartho. The entire Kryptonian race also falls under this trope.
- The DC Universe also features the Thanagarians, the Rannians, the Tamaranians, and... oh, just about every alien species.
- Averted with the Lizarkons, who are also from Thanagar.
- Played with with Maltusians. While they do come from Maltus, their descendants take various forms of this trope. The Zamorans, leaders of the Star Saphires, live on the planet Zamoran. The Controllers come from a nameless binary star system, and finally, the Guardians of the Universe live on Oa.
- Marvel tends to avert this except with smaller races like the Poppupians (from the planet Poppup), although in a later retcon the already named Skrulls were said to have originated from a planet called Skrullos - which however was not the planet on which the Skrull emperor or empress lived.
- Averted with the Skrulls' long-time nemeses the Kree, whose originating planet was called Hala.
- Bait and Switch (STO): Averted with the Pe'khdar, a species created for the fic. They originally came from a world called Dar Klatus that they destroyed in a nuclear war.
- Reimagined Enterprise: The Romulans get this because the name is said to be a human codename derived from an older human arbitrary label for their star on old starmaps which drew upon mythological names. Also with other races there are sometimes attempts to justify this, for example saying that that race has many languages and doesn't have a single common name for its homeworld, so humans just name the world after the race.
- Star Wars uses and averts this (and in one case being justified: Nal Hutta was bought out by the Hutts, after their original homeworld of Varl was rendered uninhabitable).
- Variation. The aliens in The Rocky Horror Picture Show hail from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania. They're known as Transylvanians.
- Animorphs inverts this—the planets don't seem to have names, instead being referred to as "the Andalite homeworld," "the Hork-Bajir homeworld," and so on. Interestingly, they still call the human homeworld "Earth." The only time this trope seems to be played straight is with the Leerans from the planet Leera. Apparently, if the planet's dominant species decided to give their planet a name, that's their planet's name; if they didn't, it's "the (dominant species) homeworld."
- When Elfangor first met someone who said she was from planet Earth, he asked if she was an "Earther."
- Andalites use a complex Alpha-Numeric system to designate planets, invoking the type of star to give the star a name, and giving the planet a number x/y where x is the number of the planet and y is the total number of planets in the system. To give an idea, Earth would be Sol 3/8 or Sol 3/11 (depending on if you count dwarves)
- That brings up a bit of Fridge Logic: How do the Andalites determine which of the regularly-shaped objects orbiting a star count as planets? We had trouble with that, and we live here. (Though it's possible that the Sol system has an unusual amount of big chunks of rocky debris floating around at its edge.)
- Presumably the Andalites had decided on a standard for what counts as a planet (e.g. it has enough gravity that you don't have to tether yourself to the surface, or something), kinda like we have. Lord only knows what it is, of course...
- In The Hork-Bajir Chronicles, which introduces the Alpha-Numeric system the Andalites use, one of the first Andalites to land on the Hork-Bajir homeworld explains to his son that they will "follow the usual convention of naming the planet after its sentient species." (Though if they do name the planet anything, it never comes up in the story again.)
- Espada da Galáxia subverted this by having both Terrestrials and Metalians call themselves 'humans' on first contact. They agree to call themselves after their origin planets thereafter.
- In the Sector General books, everyone calls his race "human" and his homeworld "Earth" when run through the translator. Every race is given a four-letter code that describes their environment and requirements. Generally, the other species are named after their world but humans are just called "Earth-humans" suggesting that either Humans Are Special, or they're just unimaginative.
- Or that unlike other species they are not limited to a single planet?
- Perhaps the books (written in human languages, as far as I'm aware) simply suffer from the same translation problems outside of the fourth wall as the characters do inside. Maybe if the books were written in a Kelgian language, Kelgians would be referred to as "Earth-Humans", with our species being referred to as DBD Gs or whatever the Kelgian word for our planet is.
- Iain M. Banks's Culture are an exception, being formed around Orbital habitats (think Halo, Ringworld, Dyson Spheres) and very large spacecraft.
- Of course, since in the Culture, your place of birth is part of your family name, its citizens are actually named after their homeworld, it just happens that in 99% of the case, said homeworld is artificial.
- The asteroid belt miners in Larry Niven's Known Space stories call themselves "Belters".
- The Race in Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series call their homeworld "Home" and Earth "Tosev 3". (Tosev being the Sun.) Humans are dubbed Tosevites.
- They've also done this to the two races they've conquered. Their names for themselves are unknown. They are always referred to by their Race names of Rabotevs (of Rabotev 2) and Halessi (of Haless 1).
- Subverted, though, by the Race themselves. As was mentioned, they call their homeworld "Home," but they call their own species "The Race."
- In Anne McCaffrey's Freedom series, the alien overlords are called the Catteni, and they come from the planet Catten. One of the characters lampshades this when they discover the capital of the planet is called Cattena.
- In Larry Niven's Draco Tavern stories, human beings are called tee tee hatch nex ool (their biological specification code) by other species. Of course, when fed through a Universal Translator, it translates as "human".
- The aliens in Nick Pollotta and Phil Foglio's novel Illegal Aliens refer to humans as "Dirtians", because their translators keep converting "Earth" (and "Terra", for that matter) into the word "Dirt".
"They are so primitive they still call their homeworld 'Dirt'."
"Don't your people call your homeworld, "The Place That Holds Our Roots in Safety?"
"I refuse to allow you to change the subject like that!"
- Notably consistent in E. E. “Doc” Smith's Lensman series. Earth is always referred to as "Tellus" and humans as "Tellurians" in just the same way that all of the other species are named after their planets of origin.
- The aliens in The Forever War are dubbed Taurans since they were first discovered in a star system that is in the constellation Taurus (as seen from Earth). Their real homeworld (and name) are unknown.
- The Young Wizards universe simultaneously uses and averts this trope; almost every species (or, every dominant species, anyway - this isn't an issue with the other wizarding species on Earth, of which we see whales and cats) calls themselves "humans" and their planet "Earth" in their own language, but after this is noted in High Wizardry, they're usually referred to by names derived from their homeworld's name. It gets a Call Back occasionally, such as the conversation at the start of Wizards at War, when Roshaun objects to being called a humanoid: "I am the human. You're the humanoids."
- Initially played straight but then averted in the K-PAX novels — prot refers to himself as a K-PAXian, but later clarifies that his species are called "dremers" and referes to several other creatures from his planet as K-PAXians too.
- Star Wars Expanded Universe:
- Usually played straight, but sometimes averted. For example, the Twi'leks are from Ryloth and the Yevetha come from N'zoth. Even the species that use names derived from their planet will sometimes use atypical variations: the Barabel homeworld is Barab I, and the Bimms come from Bimmisaari.
- Variation in the New Jedi Order- the Yuuzhan Vong originated on the (long-destroyed) planet Yuuzhan'tar (and when they reshape Coruscant in its image, they reuse the name), but they are neither named for the planet nor vice-versa. Rather, both species and planet are named for the chief god of the Vong pantheon, Yun-Yuuzhan.
- The Perry Rhodan series plays this straight, most species are named after their homeworld, even if individuals were born on another planet. This extends to subspecies from settlerworlds as well, if they differ genetically. An example would be the Oxtornes from the planet of the same name, a genetically adapted subspecies of humans. That said, humans refer to themselves as Terrans first and humans second, if ever.
- In The Osmerian Conflict the Osmerians and Silicians are named after their planets Osmeria and Silicia respectively.
Live Action TV
- Common in Star Trek. The vast majority of the species are named after their homeworld. They do have exceptions, like the Humans (Earth), Klingons (Qo'nos), Borg (homeworld unknown as no origin story was ever told for them)....
- Of course, in the Parallel Universe featured in DS9, humans are all called Terrans.
- Well, "terra" is Latin for "earth"; you just wouldn't use this form in Latin.
- Actually Qo'nos is supposed to literally translate to "Klingon" so....
- And in one episode of TNG, the planet is called "Kling".
- The Romulans are notable for calling themselves after a world they didn't originate on. They left Vulcan 2000 years ago after refusing to follow Surak's philosophy, found a habitable planet, called it Romulus, and changed their own name. Actually, some Expanded Universe novels claim that this is Translation Convention by humans.
- Almost completely averted in the Stargate Verse — except for the Asurans. And, of course, except for the displaced human cultures — they may be called Abydonians, Eurondans or Tollans, but they're still humans. All of which is basically the same as calling someone from New York a "New Yorker" or someone from Germany a "German".
- In one episode, a human alien refers to SG-1 as Earthens. Jonas Quinn then "corrects" her to Earthlings. Otherwise, humans from Earth go by the Goa'uld name Tau'ri to distinguish from other humans. It is implied that this name was used for the planet as well, but as both names were assigned by the Goa'uld on discovery, this doesn't quite count.
- While one might assume that the asgard hail from Othala, it's not explicitly stated that this is their homeworld. In fact, it's not even stated that Ida is their home galaxy. Given that they can galaxy-hop in minutes, it's not inconceivable to assume they could have come from yet another galaxy.
- Most of the alien races featuring prominently in the story arc in Babylon 5 fit this trope (Minbari/Minbar, Centauri/Centauri Prime, Narn/Narn Homeworld or Narn). The Shadows stand out as an aversion with "Z'ha'dum."note
- Often averted in Doctor Who. The Daleks are from Skaro, the Cybermen from Mondas, the Time Lords from Gallifrey...but also often applied. Sontarans are from Sontar.
- Except natives of Gallifrey are sometimes Gallifreyans, playing it straight. Sometimes it's just another name for time lords other times it seems to be two seperate discriptors (time lords being the ones that use time travel).
- Lampshaded with the Slitheen (of the Raxacoricofallapatorius Slitheen), who correct the cast, stating that it's their last name, not their species. Sometimes the name is applied to the species as well, especially in fandom, which is probably partly because their correct name, Raxacoricofallapatorians, is a mouthful.
- In the Extended Universe, Sontar is an inversion: a general named Sontar conquered the planet, had all future members of the species be his clones and re-named the world and species after himself.
- The Ood and the Sensorites play this trope straight, as they come from the planets Oodsphere and Sensphere, respectively.
- Also, the Cybermen weren't always called Cybermen. It was only after they were forced to become cyborgs that they renamed themselves. The Daleks are also an artificial race (a forced mutation of the Human Alien Kaleds by a Mad Scientist).
- The Ultra Series uses this convention to name most of its alien species.
- Every alien race in Tracker.
- The Jaridians in Earth: Final Conflict come from Jaridia, although it may not be their original homeworld, given that they used to be the same species as the Taelons. After the split, the Taelons settled another world in the Q'ruu'faa system of the Ma'hu'ra'va galaxy, calling it Taelon. This makes it the reverse case. This was the Taelon homeworld for hundreds of millions of years.
- It's implied that the Atavus homeworld (which isn't named in the show) was the original homeworld of the Jaridians and Taelons.
- In Defiance the seven Votan species originated in the Votanis system, but as far as specific homeworlds go only the Irathients and Gulanee play this one straight (unless one counts the terraformed Castithan colony of Casti). In fact Irath was home to the Liberata and Sensoths too as well as the Irathients. Castithans and Indogenes originated on Daribo and the Volge on Omec.
- Space 1889: Selenites, Moon Men, Martians.
- d20 Future both plays this trope straight and averts it, seemingly at random. Aleerins hail from the planet Aleer, in the Vax Aleer system; Dralasites hail from the planet Terledrom, in the Fromeltar system; Fraal hail from the planet Yrvuun, in a supernova'd system; Sesheyans hail from the planet Sheya, in the Vechlar system; T'sa hail from the planet Ki'inroh, in the T'saka system; Vrusk hail from the planet K'zah-Kit, in the K'aken-Kar system; Weren hail from the planet Kurg, in the Taragwa system; and Yazirians hail from the planet Hakosoar, in the Scree Fron system.
- An Aversion in Traveller. Aslan got their name because First Contact was made by a ship with a Turkish-speaking crew that thought they looked like lions and so gave them the Turkish name for lion. However there are instances of this trope being played straight as well.
- Warhammer 40K: While very few homeworlds are known (the Eldar's have been eaten by the Eye of Terror, the Ork homeworlds lost to the mists of time, and Chaos not having one), the Tyranids are an aversion: They are extragalactic, and are named for the first planet that they officially encountered the Imperium of Man on, Tyran. The Tau play this much straighter, as their homeworld is called "T'au."
- The Matoran in BIONICLE are named for Mata Nui, the planet-sized robot they live inside.
- In older sources, they were known as "Tohunga," so it inverts this a little.
- StarCraft averts this nicely. The Protoss used to live on Aiur and the original Zerg homeworld is called Zerus, but they seem to like Char. The Terrans, while originally from Earth, had their capital on Tarsonis. Humans from Earth still refer to themselves and terrans as (hu)mankind.
- Star Control uses this pretty consistently, the only species named for their homeworld are the (extinct at game start) Algolites (on Algol, duh) and they're named as such by your exploration team.
- We never find out the name of the Ur-Quan homeworld. Considering it's on the other side of the galaxy, no one really cares. The Syreen originally came from Syra, but their homeworld was destroyed by a Mycon Deep Child, and, after they capitulated to the Ur-Quan, the latter found them a new habitable world called Gaia.
- Halo mostly averts this, with only the Sangheili (Elites) having a similarly named homeworld, Sanghelios.
- For reference, the San 'Shyuum (Prophets) originally came from Janjur Qom (both during prehistoric times during their alliance with ancient humans and after the Forerunners wiped out their species and reseeded the planet with no memory of the past), the Unggoy (Grunts) are from Balaho, the Jiralhanae (Brutes) hail from Doisac, the Lekgolo (Hunters) evolved on Te, the Yanme'e (Drones) come from Palamok, and the Kig-Yar (Jackals) began on Eayn.
- Averted in Mass Effect, in which none of the known races are named for their homeworlds, which are instead names as follows: asari - Thessia, elcor - Dekuuna, hanar - Kahje, batarians - Khar'shan, turians - Palaven, drell - Rakhana, quarians - Rannoch, rachni - Suen, salarian - Sur'Kesh, krogan - Tuchanka, volus - Irune, raloi (mentioned in a news report) - Turvess, yahg - Parnack. All species names are notably uncapitalized too.
- The volus alone play the trope more or less straight. They have a clan-based society, and seem to consider members of other species as belonging to the "clan" of their homeworld, so they're often heard calling humans "Earth-clan." Blasto's volus superior calls him "Kahje-clan," and the volus that lost his credit chit in the second game refers to quarians - who live as space nomads after being driven from their homeworld - as "clanless". Some more polite volus refer to the quarians as "Migrant-clan".
- Master of Orion allows you to name your homeworld, although it still offers the default name. The only race that fits this trope are the Meklar, whose homeworld is Meklon, the Gnolam, hailing from Gnol, and the Trilarians of Trilar. The other races have noticeably different homeworld names from their race name. Examples include the Klackon from Kholdan, the Sakkra from Sssla, the Bulrathi from Ursa, the Darlok from Nazin, the Elerians from Draconis, and, of course, the humans from Sol.
- Additionally, there are the extinct Orions, whose homeworld of Orion is coveted by many. There are also the Antareans of Antares. However, the planet that is attacked at the end of MOO II turns out to have been just a colony, not Antares. The third game takes place after the true Antareans arrive and promptly kick everyone's collective asses.
- It should be noted that the original prototype called Star Lords called Psilons Mentats and Darlocks Nazguls. By this account, the names of their homeworlds (Mentar and Nazin) make this trope true.
- Averted in Sword of the Stars. The Liir (their name means "Choir") come from the water world of Muur, the Tarka come from Kao'Kona ("Fortress of the Gods"), and the Hivers hail from Tcho'to'pre. The Zuul are an artificial species with no known homeworld, although it's assumed they were deployed as bioweapons on Iridia 5 (which is the human name for the planet; the Zuul have no name for it). The Morrigi homeworld is unknown. It's possible it was destroyed in their war with the Suul'ka.
- Played straight with the Vasudans in Freespace, whose homeworld is called Vasuda Prime. Humans are called Terrans, though.
- For reference, "Vasuda" means "Earth" in Sanskrit.
- The Draenei in Warcraft come from Draenor... but so do the orcs, ogres, and a few other sentient species, none of which were named after their world. Further averted later when it turns out that Draenei come from another planet, Argus, and used to be called Eredar. They fled to the orcs' world and named it Draenor, or "Exile's Refuge" in their language, and apparently their new neighbours hadn't thought of how to call their world yet. Moreover, the inhabitants of Azeroth and K'aresh are not called after their world either.
- The X-Universe averts this most of the time. The Boron homeworld transliterates as Nishala, and the Teladi homeworld is Ianamus Zura. The Argon capital is Argon Prime, but that's a case of the planet being named after the faction rather than the other way around: the Argon are displaced humans from Earth who renamed Sonra-4 after their leader Nathan R. Gunne. The Split are from the planet Hodie according to their legends (some aren't sure if it exists, the others think it suffered a nuclear war). The Terran homeworld is Earth, obviously. The Paranid play the trope straight: their homeworld is Paranid Prime. Nobody knows the name of the Kha'ak homeworld, and the Xenon homeworld is technically Earth since they're an entire race of insane terraforming drones first built by the Terrans back in the 22nd century.
- In a Double Subversion, Argon exobiologists gave the Split and Boron scientific names derived from their homeworld. The Boron are Sepioteuthis nishalaensis, and the Split are Homo hodiensis.
- Played straight in Galactic Civilizations and the sequel, applying to major and minor races (although you're given the option of renaming your homeworld in the sequel). The only exceptions are the Thalans, whose in-game homeworld Thala is actually a colony, considering they come from another universe. The Yor were created by the Iconians but Turned Against Their Masters and forced the Iconians to flee. The Iconians' in-game homeworld is New Iconia, while Iconia is in Yor hands. The game also gives you the option of renaming any race or just create your own from scratch.
- On It's Walky!, the Aliens are called that because they're from the planet Alien. Yes, they're alien Aliens from Alien.
- By comparison, the Martians are from outside the solar system. They got this name because they used to have a colony on Mars.
- As a parody, a holo-simulator from Gunnerkrigg Court features Jupiter Moon Martians—naturally enough, they're natives of Mars who immigrated to Jupiter's moon, Ganymede.
- Nemesites in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! come from a planet orbiting the Nemesis Star. They usually call humans Earthlings.
- Averted in Homestuck, where the trolls' planet is called Alternia. Though, when you translate the Daedric-turned-180-degrees that the name is written in, you get "Trollplanet".
- It is also referred to as "the trollplanet" by the human cast a couple of times.
- Played With on Futurama, where all inhabitants of Earth (human or otherwise) are called "Earthicans." Actually species names include Decapodians (Decapod 10), Amphibiosans (Amphibios 9), Neptunians, Omicronians (Omicron Persei 8), Osirians (Osiris 4), Martians, Amazonians (Amazonia) and Cygnoids (Cygnos 5). The Nibblonians are a notable exception, originating on the Planet Eternium.
- In Invader Zim, the Irkens are from Irk. Amusingly, Zim follows a version of the trope himself: before landing on Earth he referred to its inhabitants as "Earthenoids," and referred to the extinct Martians as "Marsoids."
- The ThunderCats were the elite warriors/nobility of the Thunderian people on their home planet of, surprise, surprise, Thundera. It doesn't stop there; the word "thunder" shows up a lot when stuff regarding that species gets involved. Ah, cartoons of The Eighties...
- This is also averted with the Mutants, who hailed from Plundarr.
- In the reboot, Thundera is the name of the kingdom they live in. The real name of the planet is Third Earth.
- An extreme version was used in South Park, where not only were the inhabitants of an alien planet called Marklars, but all marklars were replaced with the marklar "marklar".
- Neosapiens in Exo Squad always refer to homo sapiens sapiens as "Terrans." This works because the Neosapiens were created on Mars and regard it as their homeworld, and it is simpler than using the full species name. "Human" refers to both species.
- Transformers: Cybertronians are from the planet Cybertron.
- The terragens in Orion's Arm, the term used to refer to all of humanity's diverse descendants and sentient creations. Any lifeform tracing back to Earth basically.
- The only sentient species we know of, the human race, has its current English name from the Latin adjective "humanus" by way of French. The ultimate origin is thought to be Proto-Indo-European dhǵhem- which means "earth". Furthermore, in biblical Hebrew, the word for "man," Adam, comes from the word for "earth," Adama.
- Please note, however, that in both cases, that's "earth" with a lower-case "e," i.e. soil. In the Hebrew instance, it's a transparent reference to the Biblical story of God creating the first man (Adam) out of clay.
- For reference, the Hebrew word for "Earth" (the planet) is Eretz, which, confusingly enough, also means "land," both as in "land you build on/farm" and "a country". Kador Eretz, meaning "Earth Sphere", is used in modern Hebrew to refer to the planet specifically.
- Same with the French word, Terre.
- Averted in Russian, with the word for human - человек (chelovek) has no roots in common with the word Земля (Zemlya) - Earth (the lower-case земля has the same meaning as lower-case "earth").