The typical appearance of a Reptilian. Or at least, when they don't look just like us.
The Reptilians are one of the stock Humanoid Aliens
, sporting reptile-like features and popping up frequently in Science Fiction
and abduction stories. They share quite a few similarities with Little Green Men
and The Greys
in terms of appearance (human-like, large eyes, baldness, strange skin) and modus operandi (abduction, invasion), but they have enough unique features to set themselves apart.
Since they are reptiles they, of course, are almost always evil
. Unlike their Grey and Green cousins, though, The Reptilians tend to be portrayed as even more vicious and sadistic
, often abducting humans as a Slave Race
or as a food source
. They are frequently shape-shifters
, changing into human form in order to infiltrate our ranks and take over the world before we even realize it. Sometimes, like Little Green Men
and The Greys
, they can be more enigmatic invaders whose only direct contact with humans is through abductions. The trend nowadays, though, has been to give The Reptilians a more detailed culture than those two, typically as either Scary Dogmatic Aliens
or as the vanguard of a vast but decadent empire. They commonly have hidden bases Beneath the Earth
, which probably stems from a fusion of the Primal Fears
of both reptiles and the underground. Oftentimes, they are mentioned as having created The Greys
) as a Slave Race
, until some decided to rebel, thus necessitating the Greys to steal human DNA to survive.
If the biological history of The Reptilians gets mentioned, they are frequently revealed to be dinosaurs who attained sentience, somehow survived the K/T Extinction event, and moved elsewhere among the stars
, not necessarily in that ordernote
. Such dinosaur-derived creatures are sometimes called "Dinosauroids," a term first popularized by paleontologist Dale Russell's hypothetical Troodon
-descended humanoid. Naturally, those dinosaurs often turn out to have been descendants of the carnivorous ones such as Velociraptor
or Tyrannosaurus rex
(it helps that many theropods are considered to have been the most intelligent dinosaurs there were). Alternatively, they evolved on a planet whose evolutionary history is just like that of Earth, but stalled out
before mammals could take their rightful place at the top
Depending on just how reptilian the Reptilians are portrayed to be (and depending on a program's budget), they can run the gamut from bald humans with weird eyes
to full-on Lizard Folk
with a human-like gait. Also, a rule of thumb to keep in mind is that the more reptilian the aliens are, the less likely they are to be portrayed as good guys, in line with Reptiles Are Abhorrent
; sympathetic Reptilians are more likely to have Non-Mammal Mammaries
, among other things.
Compare Lizard Folk
and Snake People
, which are generally the Fantasy Counterparts
to this trope. The former also tend to be more like dumb scaly orcs in contrast to the advanced Reptilians.
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Anime & Manga
- The Dinosaur Empire form Getter Robo.
- Taurians from Outlaw Star.
- One of the Doraemon movies deal with The Reptilians whose civilization thrives Beneath the Earth, and seek to alter the timeline so it's them, not the humans, who flourish above ground. Despite their sinister motives, they are actually no less moral than humans, if not objectively better (their technology being far more eco-friendly, for example). The finale of the movie has them agreed to stay under the earth, because Doraemon's future gadgets saved their ancestors from extinction.
- The alien Badoon and Skrulls and Snarks of Marvel Comics. Marvel also has the Serpent Men, borrowed from Conan in the days when he had a comic there. Ch'od of the Starjammers also fits the description (although he's basically a good guy). As does, to some degree, Stegron the Dinosaur Man. And the Space Pirate Captain Reptyl. And the Tribbitites, aka Toad Men. Along with assorted reptilian mutants such as Slither, Scaleface, Primal, etc. Basically, Marvel likes this trope.
- The Lizarkons of the planet Thanagar, Hawkman's homeworld, in DC Comics. Also the Gordanians and Psions, who both terrorize Starfire's home system of Vega.
- Clonezone the Hilariator from Nexus.
- Golden Age Captain Marvel comics had Mr. Mind's alien flunkies, the Crocodile Men from Planet Punkus.
- Judge Dredd had the Kleggs, thuggish and dim crocodile-like mercenaries who accept payment in meat.
- The Primortals, being descended from different ancient Earth animals, include reptilian races, most notably Zeerus's pterodactyl people.
- Many Star Wars races, most notably the Trandoshans. Attack of the Clones also features Zam Wesell, the assassin hired to kill Senator Amidala.
- The Zorgons in the film/book Zathura.
- Grig from The Last Starfighter, though he's actually a nice guy.
- General Sarris and his people in Galaxy Quest are members of an unnamed reptilian race.
- The Chitauri of The Avengers are portrayed as these.
- In the Super Mario Bros. film, any Dinohattan inhabitant put into President Koopa's Devolution Device gets turned into a Goomba, a type of Reptilian with a tiny head that can resemble a velociraptor, a scaly ape, or a snake. They're more unintelligent goons than truly evil, and one Goomba devolved from Toad actively helps Daisy and the Mario Bros.
- The villains in the Jason Wood story "Viewed in a Harsh Light".
- Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Brass Dragon. The Dikri are a race of cold, ruthless dragon-like aliens who can Shape Shift into human form. They act as renegades, interfering on primitive worlds in violation of interstellar rules.
- The Race from Worldwar is a race of reptilians whose strong sense of cultural pride drive them to try and conquer Earth. The two species (Rabotevs and Halessi, though that is probably the Race's name for them) they subjugated before invading Earth were apparently also reptilian in nature, as they are mentioned as being fairly similar to the Race.
- In Homeward Bound, humans finally meet members of the two other species after reaching Home, althogh they claim to have already seen pictures of them. This is also the first description of the races that the readers get. The Rabotevs, for example, have two thumbs on each hand and feature eye stalks instead of eye turrets. The Halessi look more like cross between Little Green Men and lizards, being small, squeaky-voiced, and more erect than members of the Race, also featuring smaller snouts. Unlike the Race, the Rabotevs and the Halessi don't suffer narcotic or mating-inducing effects from ginger.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs created the Horibs for his Pellucidar series. Pellucidar also has the telepathic Giant Flyer race, the Mahar, descended from pterosaurs.
- The Viis, the main antagonists of Deborah Chester's The Alien Chronicles novels, are decadent, humanoid, frilled lizards.
- The AAnn in Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth universe. Lighter and weaker than humans but much faster with sharp claws and teeth. Almost Always the antagonist when they appear. Includes Sssssnake Talk. They also communicate with hand gestures to show emotion, although this is a common linguistic trait in that universe. There have been several sympathetic AAnn characters in the Flinx setting, even one that fell in love with the titular redhead. None outlast the book they are introduced in.
- Andre Norton's Science Fiction novels in the Council/Confederation universe feature the Zacathans, a race of Reptilians whose "hat" is archaeology and history. They live at least a thousand years on average. Their names all begin with "Z".
- Android at Arms: When examining the facility in which they had been imprisoned, the protagonists find plans for building a Ridiculously Zacathan Robot duplicate of an unknown Zacathan.
- Brother of Shadows: The protagonist works with a Zacathan for an extended period, one of the best glimpses of them that we get.
- Uncharted Stars: The protagonists hook up with a Zacathan archaeologist in the endgame, since they have a common objective: to find the Precursors' source of the zero stones.
- The X Factor: The head of the dig on Mimir is Zacathan.
- Star Rangers (alternate title The Last Planet): The hero's best friend is a Zacathan, a fellow member of their reconnaissance team. Although highly intelligent and knowledgeable, he's somewhat less science-oriented than most Zacathan portrayals. He's also more ready to fight than most, and mentions that his brother is highly skilled with a force blade. "Zippp—and there's an enemy down with half his insides gone—"
- The Quintaglios of Robert J. Sawyer's Quintaglio Ascension trilogy are the descendants of small Tyrannosaurs. Since the series focuses on an important period of their planet's history, we get a characterization of them that is far more nuanced than usual.
- A Star Trek: The Original Series novel - The Captain's Table: War Dragons- had the humanoid reptillian Anjiri and the theropod-like Nykkus which turn out to be two forms of the same species. While their dialogue does not use Sssssnake Talk, their language relies so heavily on gestures that Universal Translators can't handle it. While the first ones to show up are basically incompetent Space Pirates, it turns out that neither of these traits is their hat.
- The Gnalish in the Star Trek Novel Verse are a rare example of a benevolent, heroic Reptilian race. Okay, they're still grumpy and sour, but at least they're friendly.
- Lisanne Norman's Sholan Alliance series has the antagonist species, the Valtegans with no tail, and the friendly Sumaan with a very strong thick tail.
- Ssilissa of the Larklight trilogy; blue, scaly, with spines for hair and a heavily clubbed tail. Is noted occasionally for averting Non-Mammal Mammaries (and thus not fitting into dresses cut for humans), and has a few self-image issues on account of being raised by humans. In the third book, we meet her race, the Snilth, a matriarchal Proud Warrior Race who serve as mooks for the book's Big Bad. They live in clans identified by the shape of the weapon on their tails, and Ssil's proves her to be the only known heir to the banished queen who turned against the Big Bad long ago.
- The Ternaui in The Excalibur Alternative. Initially appearing as silent bodyguards to the Big Bad, it turns out that they are telepathic and detest their slavery. Eventually they side with the humans.
- The Yilani of Harry Harrison's West of Eden series are a race of humanoid reptilians that evolved on an Earth where the dinosaurs never died out. The first book spends much of it's first portion with them and we get a very detailed look at their world. They are semi-aquatic (they are related to seagoing lizards), have a matriarchal society thanks largely to their borderline Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism, and have mastered biotechnology on a staggering scale; their cities are literally alive. Oh, and once the humans enter the picture in a significant way, they immediately become the Card Carrying Villains of the book because humans are awesome and reptiles... well duh. It's awkward.
- Poul Anderson's Merseians, although usually at odds with humanity, are a more nuanced portrayal (and have a culture based off of the Sassanid Empire).
- David Brin's Uplift Series has a few Reptillians but two stand out:
- The Soro are imperialistic, cruel and war. And to be expected, enemies of Earth Clan
- The Thennannin are also reptiles. They are incredibly conservative, self righteous and dogmatic. However they are not actually evil. In the Second Novel, Star Tide Rising, they are fighting Humans along with everyone else to get the big secret they think the Streaker is carrying. By the third novel they have "adopted" Gorillas as as a client species and are dutifully helping protect Earth.
- H. Beam Piper messed with this trope in Uller Uprising. When the reptilian Ullerians fight against the humans on Uller, some forces side with the humans. The story was a retelling of the Sepoy Mutiny In Space, with the humans as the British, so Fridge Logic gets a workout.
- The people of Uller, good and bad, are multi-dimensional and complex, with several different cultures.
- In the Speculative Documentary book All Tomorrows by Nemo Ramjet one of the descendants of mankind is a race known as the Saurosapients, which evolved from large lizards brought to a tropical planet by humans. Ironically they were once the livestock of an unintelligent species of genetically modified human that became their livestock after reptiles took over. They're not evil nor very human-like in general appearance (more like featherless raptors), but their society grows paranoid that an alien race will wipe them out like the humans before them. It's presumed that robot humans did wipe them out along wih many other races.
- In Andre Norton's Storm Over Warlock, the native species is reptilian, vaguely draconic, whence their name Wyverns. They manage to look good. And doubtlessly benefit from the contrast with the Insectoid Aliens Planet Looters, the Throg.
- The Visitors from V are the Trope Codifiers. They infiltrate many parts of human society, and they want to eat us (along with other tasty mammals). Rather than shapeshifting, however, they use fake human-like skin to mask their true appearance, a method best exemplified by the iconic shot of Diana peeling back the skin on one side of her face to reveal green scaly skin and a catlike eye. It should be noted that, aside from inspiring the creation of other fictional Reptilians, V led to the plethora of conspiracy theories about Reptilians, which were pretty much nonexistent before the show aired.
- The V 2009 reboot series took no motion to change any of this. Except the Visitors were more of a combination of yucky reptile-people and icky bug-people. The reboot also has them literally grafting human skin onto their scales. One of the ways of punishment for the Vs is to be skinned alive, which causes just as much pain as it would a human, since the grafted skin has perfectly working nerves. There's also the possibility of interbreeding between humans and Vs.
- In War of the Worlds, the Martians are essentially turned into the aforementioned Visitors. Except that they're body snatchers.
- Doctor Who has the Silurians and their aquatic cousins the Sea Devilsnote . They are not extraterrestrials, but the previous inhabitants of Earth before humans came around. They do live underground and abduct people, though, which still fits in with Reptilian lore. There are also the Ice Warriors, the inhabitants of Mars, though their reptilian features aren't emphasized as much.
- We also have the Slitheen, a clan of Raxacoricofallapatorians who invade Earth, kill human government officials, and wear their skins to infiltrate our society.
- Star Trek:
- The Gorn.
- The rarely-seen brandy-making Saurians.
- The Cardassians. Though they're the least reptilian, looking pretty much like humans with scales tacked on, they also happen to be the most villainous of the reptoid lot.
- The Reptilian Xindi in Star Trek: Enterprise.
- The Voth were descended from Earth hadrosaurs. Which is at least a new one, as far as Dinosauroids go.
- The Hirogen and the Jem'Hadar also at least look the part, and are the villains in most of their appearances.
- The Sleestak from Land of the Lost.
- And the Altrusians, who even though they are the ancestors of Sleestak are different both physically (shorter, stockier with an extra finger) and mentally (far more intelligent) enough to qualify as a separate race.
- The extremely brutal Scarrans of Farscape, who create one of the two evil empires of the show. The one Half-Human Hybrid we see of them is also a vicious Manipulative Bastard.
- He also requires technology to survive (cooling rods in the brain that have to be replaced regularly), as his reptilian half craves heat, while his Human Alien half can't stand it.
- The Drazi, along with other less significant species, in Babylon 5, although their Proud Warrior Race personalities are a bit different from the metaphorically cold-blooded norm, and were not hostile to Humans (during the Earth-Minbari War they were the one member of the League of Non-Aligned Worlds to send warships to help Earth. Even after their fleet 'disappeared' in hyperspace and they were forced to neutrality, they still gave Earth the plans for a Wave Motion Gun to mount on defensive satellites). The Drazi do engage in random ceremonial war with one another in one episode, which proves to be a hazard until Ivanova inadvertently forces them to stop.
- One episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century involved Reptilian aliens disguised as humans. Buck exposed them by lowering the temperature. Being cold-blooded, they collapsed.
- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation had an episode dealing with this trope, "Leapin' Lizards", where the dead guy of the week was a believer in a reptilian conspiracy. Their website is shown, with several world leaders morphing into reptilians, and one of the guys hallucinates Brass with a reptilian tongue and Greg with reptilian characteristics-which leads to Greg being bitten.
- On Opie And Anthony, Louis C.K. asked Donald Rumsfeld if he and Dick Cheney were part of a Reptilian conspiracy to control the world. Donald declined to answer.
- The Yuan-ti in Dungeons & Dragons are are more snake than lizard, but in addition to giant snakes with arms, their race also includes some individuals that are almost indistinguishable from humans. Those are usually send to infiltraty human society and use their telepathic powers to ursup the local government.
- D&D also has Lizard Men, Kobolds, Troglodytes, Draconians, Dragonborn, Saurials, Bullywugs, Slaad, Tortles, Babblers, and countless other variants.
- The Ithklur in Traveller are a Proud Warrior Race that serves as soldiers to the Hiver's(who need them badly being rather courage-deprived as a rule). The Ithklur are not evil but are hearty souls that love a good fight.
- You can get these in SimEarth if Dinosaurs or Reptiles become sentient.
- The snake-talking Thrynn in Starflight. Interstellar merchants and con-artists who, despite their depiction as having purely carnivorous dental structure, find themselves in constant war with their neighbors, the Elowan. The Thrynn have a taste for Elowan "headfruit" you see. Despite this habit, they are generally peaceful with other races, and selling plutonium to them can be highly profitable—unless you have an Elowan aboard, that is.
- The krogan and the drell in the Mass Effect franchise. The former are hulking, dinosaur-style warrior-race-guys, while the latter are more humanoid (but still scaly) and specifically built to be Mr. Fanservice.
- According to Javik in Mass Effect 3, the salarians were essentially frogs back in his time.
Javik: The lizard people evolved?
Liara: I believe they're amphibious.
Javik: They used to eat flies.
- The turians (in this case, Space Romans) remind some humans of the link between dinosaurs and birds.
- Unusually, none of the quasi-reptilian species from Mass Effect are portrayed as evil. The krogan tend to be aggressive, warlike, and are frequently antagonists from shady mercenary gangs and the like, but two party members from the series are krogan and the species shows strong signs of moving beyond its violent past. The turians attacked the first humans they encountered, but this was because of a misunderstanding. The drell overindustrialized and destroyed the ecosystem of their planet, but they are now the devoted servants of the gentle, mystical hanar. The salarians have lots of....ethically questionable scientists, but overall they are portrayed positively.
- The Watchers from Dark Void are manipulative shapeshifting reptilians exiled into Another Dimension by early humans. In keeping with this trope, their life cycle is based on metamorphosis: they emerge from the egg as larval, wormlike hatchlings, and they pilot Powered Armor suits as basic mooks. As they get older and more intelligent, they grow arms and legs and become more snake-like; they also get to pilot something like an alien Humongous Mecha. Finally, the Elder form is the most intelligent, and can shapeshift to perfectly mimic a human appearance. These serve as spies in human society and leaders for the rest of the species.
- The Cardianon in Star Ocean: The Last Hope. Originally a primitive race, the Grigori accelerated their evolution, and provided them with knowledge that led to them becoming one of the most technologically advanced races in the universe in a very short span of time, but also turned them into a bunch of fanatical planet conquerors. They look like somewhat reptilian humanoids in the lowest stage of evolution they're seen in, but their more advanced forms are traditional lizardmen, then dragonmen, and lastly, full fledged dragons.
- The Tarka from Sword of the Stars evolved from lizards but are very human-like, resembling scaled apes◊ more than actual lizards. They are a highly civilized and pragmatic warrior race whose empire is a few thousand years older than human civilization, and are presented as sympathetic if fairly machiavellian, warlike, and prone to picking on those weaker than themselves.
- The Sakkra, from the Master of Orion series.
- The turn-based strategy Space Empires 4 has red lizard-people with vaguely Starfleet-esque ship designs as one of the possible appearances for your chosen empire.
- They are included in Space Empires 5 as well, for which they decorated the cover, and originated in the third game of the series. Called the Jraenar in all games.
- Traffic Department 2192 has the Selarian species, and their representative in Vulthaven's TD, Lieutenant Junior Grade Koth. If he's any indication, their species hisses their S's.
- The obscure XBOX shooter Brute Force has Brutus, a "Feral" (a scaly green lizard man with a voice like Doctor Claw) as one of the main Player Characters. He's by far the toughest squad member, and sports a Healing Factor and Aura Vision.
- The Reptites in Chrono Trigger, who were the pinnacle of dinosaur evolution in 65 million BC. They oppressed the caveman population until Lavos landed. In an alternate timeline in Chrono Cross, they evolved into dragons.
- The Skedar from Perfect Dark bear some similarities to the Reptilians, being bipedal, dinosaur-like creatures who masquerade as Scandinavian men. Their offspring resemble tiny, vicious lizards.
- The Teladi from the X-Universe series are a humanoid reptilian race whose aspect of life is entirely motivated by money. Their society is comprised of a Mega Corp. which dominates their politics and businesses. Because of their reptilian nature, the Teladi have a... tendency to speak with an accent that emphasizes the letter s in such a way that it becomes memetic. They tend to be neutral to all the other factions, even the Space Pirates. Because of this last note, it's not surprising to see some factories produce a fancy drug known as Space Weed, which is basically the series' version of marijuana IN SPACE! This drug is considered contraband in any sector that isn't Teladi or Pirate-owned, and often is a popular source of income to would-be smugglers.
- In Zombi U, The Prepper seriously believes that the Queen is one of them.
- The Snakemen in X-COM are human-sized snake-like aliens with rapid reproduction times and appear about midway through the game. In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the Thin Men are a reptilian species that have been genetically-modified to resemble humans in order to serve as infiltration units.
- The Reptoids in Trying Human can be divided into two main subspecies: Draconian and Terran Reptoids. The long-tailed Terran Reptoids evolved from Troodon dinosaurs and were uplifted by the winged Draconian Reptoids, making them forever indebted to their benefactors. Both sub-races are capable of shape-shifting and enjoy eating meat, including human.
- In Earthsong, one of the ill-fated Guards in Earthsong's welcoming party for Beluosus is a Reptilian.
- Reptilis Rex is centered around the "Reptoids" being forced to move to the surface and reveal themselves to mankind, which treats them like second class citizens. They can't shapeshift per se but own shapeshifting pets which they can wear as masks, hence there have been an unknown number of Reptoid infiltrators throughout history including Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
- They make a brief appearance in Rasputin Barxotka, with their planned invasion of Earth thwarted by the strip's version of The Greys.
- The Raptors from The Storm Hawks. They're all irredeemably evil except for Leugey, who's too stupid to be anything but a bad guy.
- ThunderCats (2011) has Third Earth's Lizards, overlapping with Lizard Folk. They're adversaries to the Thundercats, a rare deconstructed example of Reptiles Are Abhorrent, reacting to generations of oppression and Fantastic Racism at the hands of the Cats. Some are decent, pulling an Androcles Lion in return for a Cat's uncharacteristic display of altruism.
- Bravestarr has a race of Snake People, including villainess Vipra and good guy Handlebar. Who had a mustache.
- The Triceratons, essentially Proud Warrior Race anthropomorphic ceratopsians, from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
- The truly strange The Mighty Ducks cartoon had a straight-up evil race made up of anthropomorphic ceratopsians, along with more conventional lizard-people types. And really, if the aforementioned Triceratons, Voth, and especially the Quintaglios are all "reptiles", then it isn't fair not to mention the titular duck-people.
- One of the Rulon subraces on Dino Riders was a race of Snake People.
- Renowed Cloud Cuckoo Lander David Icke is the most prominent advocate of the idea that Reptilians are real. He claims that they come from the Alpha Draconis star system, and that George W. Bush, Elizabeth II, and many other world leaders are among their ranks.
- Above Top Secret, a large conspiracy site, is a good source for people who actually believe these creatures exist and are behind global conspiracies.
- In the early eighties, Dale Russell, curator of vertebrate fossils at the National Museum of Canada (now the Canadian Museum of Nature), proposed that, if the dinosaur genus Troodon hadn't died out, it could have evolved into a sentient humanoid creature, christened "Dinosauroid" by Russel. Since then, the Dinosauroid (in appearance vaguely resembling a scaly Grey alien) has been criticized as being implausible, because it is too anthropomorphic. Also, Science Marches On, and now we know that Troodon's appearance probably had more in common with birds than with reptiles. Thus, when paleontologist Darren Naish and artist Nemo Ramjet revisited the concept during The Noughties, the result was a decidedly less humanoid, err... Bird Folk◊.