Long ago, visitors came down from the stars, and took humans (and possibly other Earth species) away to other worlds. Now that we have the ability to travel between those stars, we keep running into our long-lost cousins.
This is an increasingly common (and admittedly pretty good
) way to justify Human Aliens
, by making alien humans.
One variation is that that's how we
got to Earth, and the origin planet of humanity is somewhere else
. This has become less common, however, as evidence that we're biologically related to other Earth species has become pretty hard to talk your way around.
This trope is often combined with Ancient Astronauts
and/or Advanced Ancient Humans
. Contrast Ultraterrestrials
, where the Transplanted Earthlings aren't human.
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- In C. J. Cherryh's Morgaine Cycle the precursors put humans on different planets with various different starting conditions as experiments in the development of human society/culture, and then used their Cool Gates to travel into the future to see the results. However, one of the precursors used the gates to travel back in time and caused a Temporal Paradox, with the resulting Time Crash wiping out the precursors' galaxy-spanning civilization. The main characters use the precursors' Portal Network to travel from planet to planet, encountering feudal and tribal Transplanted Humans along the way.
- The Norby books by Janet and Isaac Asimov have "The Others".
- Ursula K. Le Guin's Hainish novels use the reversed version; humans and their (e.g.) fuzzy and androgynous neighbors are so many subspecies of the parent race.
- Novels of the Jaran by Kate Elliot had a planet full of humans that, millennia ago, an alien removed from Earth and genetically modified before placing them on the planet. His reasons for doing so were never explored, but that may be because the series is currently unfinished.
- In Jack Vance's Planet of Adventure series, the earthman protagonist encounters transplanted humans living side-by-side with (and frequently dominated by) several species of sapient bona fide aliens on the titular planet.
- In David Weber's Empire from the Ashes trilogy, humans on Earth are transplants descended from the stranded crew of an interstellar warship which has disguised itself as the Moon. Humans were originally native to another planet, Mycos (as is all the other life on Earth - explaining why it is biologically related to humanity).
- In Larry Niven's Known Space universe all the primates on Earth, including humans, are descended from a race called the Pak that were stranded on Earth a few million years ago. The reason humans are related to other life on Earth is that the Pak terraformed earth and wiped out most of the native ecosystem doing so. Furthermore, nearly all carbon-based life in the galaxy is descended from food yeast seeded on developing worlds 2 billion years ago by the first few alien races.
- The Narnia series has a magical version of this to explain why there are humans in Narnia. They're all descended from a London cab driver and his wife, and/or Mediterranean brigands and their islander "wives", who came later.
- In Sergey Volnov's Army of the Sun trilogy, this is the main theory (although there is little actual evidence) behind the similarity between humans and three human-like races. Each one looks like a "sub-race" of Earth: Caucasians, Africans, and Asians. It is also mentioned that an ancient wall carving on the "Asian" race's homeworld is the name of a legendary figure in their culture, whose name sounds a lot like "Genghis Khan." This is all mentioned as a side-note, however, and is unimportant to the main storyline.
- In William Shatner's Quest For Tomorrow series, this is revealed to be the fate of the Neanderthals. A ship belonging to a Lizard Folk race found Earth a long time ago and found two sentient species on the planet. The homo sapiens were dismissed as unimportant, while the Neanderthals turned out to be telepathic. Desiring to learn the secret of telepathy, this particular faction transplants a good number of Neanderthals to a remote planet and then wipes out the rest with a virus, engineered specifically to kill them. After a series of failed experiments, the lizards decide to kill off all their subjects as well. They release the virus and leave. This time, however, some of the Neanderthals survive and build a civilization of their own, albeit much slower due to the lack of writing (telepaths don't need to write). Decades before the series initial timeline, the Neanderthals have only reached Industrial Revolution, while humans are already a star-faring race. They then Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence by turning their star into a black hole.
- The Algebraist, by Iain M. Banks, has 'aHumans' (the humans who were taken to join galactic civilisation in about 4000 BC) and 'rHumans' (tho ones who made it out themselves seven thousand years later). There is some animosity between these groups. Slightly averted, though; these two groups make up only a small fraction of sentient beings even among the 'Quick' species (of which humanity is a member).
- The Skolian Saga, by Catherine Asaro, posits a small group of Mayans who were kidnapped by an unknown species and transplanted to the planet Raylicon. The kidnappers left their starships behind. The Raylicans experiemented with the discarded technology, created an interstellar empire, fell, reachieved starflight, and then encountered humans from earth just as they invented stardrive theory from scratch.
- S.M. Stirling's novels The Sky People and In The Courts of the Crimson Kings update the Burroughs depiction of Mars and Venus by being set in an alternate timeline in which aliens terraformed Mars and Venus millions of years ago and have since periodically transplanted species from Earth to the other planets.
- A What Could Have Been example: in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, a novel called Alien Exodus was planned, which established the Star Wars humans as transplanted through space and time from Earth. It was never finished and never made canonical.
- Francis Carsac's Les Robinsons du Cosmos (The Robinsons of the Cosmos) involve an unexplained cosmic event (later theorized to be a "collision of universes") resulting in a chunk of the French countryside (a village, an observatory, a rocket factory, and a Swiss millionaire's castle) being transplanted to another world. The planet (which they call Tellus, Latin for "earth") is Earth-like but features some hostile life-forms that force humans to find a new place to settle. They meet an indigenous race of centaurs called Ssvis, who agree to let humans settle in their territory. The Frenchmen build a new settlement called Cobalt City and help the Ssvis fight their ancient enemies the Slvips (black centaurs). Also, after spotting a strange airplane, the Frenchmen discover that they weren't the only ones transported to this world. A chunk of the US (as well as Argentina and Norway) was also transplanted onto a sinking island. The residents of Cobalt City help rescue the sinking Americans, Argentinians, and Norwegians and let them settle nearby. As a result, the French end up nearly fighting the new American nation. In the end, all friendly nations form the Union of Tellus Republics with Cobalt City as the capital and spend the next several decades exploring the planet. Since the planet is implied to be in a different universe, it's highly unlikely that it will ever be rediscovered.
- The Martians in Spin are all descended from humans who were sent to the planet in hopes that the lack of Earth's time-dilation effect would cause their civilization to outpace Earth's, thus giving them some better idea about the nature of the Hypotheticals.
- The V'Dan Empire from Theirs Not To Reason Why is descended from these. They have been alternate enemies and allies of the Terran United Planets.
- Stargate Verse
- Stargate SG-1 is probably the best-known modern example; the vast majority of the Adventure Planets the SG team goes to were colonized with human slaves by the Goa'uld.
- Likewise, Stargate Atlantis populates its galaxy with human societies planted by the more benevolent Ancients. People in the Pegasus galaxy are typically aware of how to use the stargate, so some colonies may have settled on their own.
- There's also the Novus civilization in Stargate Universe, resulting from accidental time travel of the crew of the Destiny 2000 years ago. The alternate (or original) crew encounters their descendants and gives them a ride back to their dying homeworld and then to their new world.
- In Star Trek:
- In ''Star Trek: The Original Series, the Forgot the Call episode, "The Paradise Syndrome," featured a group of Native Americans transplanted to another star system by Precursors as a sort of cultural preserve.
- And, Gary Seven's ancestors were taken from Earth to live on another planet, raising the perfect infiltration agents.
- In Star Trek: Enterprise:
- The episode "Terra Nova" reveals that the race with whom Archer and his crew are making first contact are the descendants of an early Earth expedition that lost contact with the home planet.
- And yet another has them finding an Old West-style planet which was populated by abducted humans previously used as slave labor by the aliens who now work as their slaves.
- The Star Trek: Voyager episode "The 37's" has the crew find a planet populated by descendants of humans abducted by aliens in the 1930s as slaves but rebelled against the abductors. Some of the abductees (known to the locals as the 37's) are still in stasis (including Amelia Earhart). Why someone would go to another quadrant to get slaves, given that the galaxy is teeming with intelligent (and humanoid) life, is another question.
- The Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Future War featured a race of alien cyborgs who had visited Earth at some point in the past and kidnapped both humans and dinosaurs—the humans they used as slave labor and the
really cheesy forced-perspective puppet dinosaurs they used as "trackers". They failed everything forever.
- Farscape this is where Sebaceans, and probably Interions, come from.
- Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) and Battlestar Galactica (Classic) both had this: "There are those who believe that life here began out there." Kind of. In both versions, it was humans leaving Kobol of their own accord to settle the Thirteen Colonies of Kobol. This has been offered by fans as an alternative explanation to identical evolution of humans on Kobol and Earth 2 in the re-imagined continuity, however.
- In Babylon 5, First Contact with the Centauri led to the Centauri claiming that Earth was a long-forgotten colony world of theirs (hence explaining why humans and centauri look so similar). This claim lasted for as long as it took for the humans to get a Centauri DNA sample, which proved the claim was utter hogwash. The Centauri blamed a 'clerical error'.
- In The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy, the humans currently on earth were descended from telephone sanitary workers and hairdressers, set to crash into the Earth by the other people on their planet, who were later wiped out by a disease that occured due to contaminated telephones.
- In the Traveller RPG and its offshoots the Ancients brought humans and other species to thousands of planets and also created the Vargr by uplifting wolves. The end result being that Terrans went out to the final frontier and discovered they were already there, in fact one of those transplanted races, the Vilani, had established an interstellar empire thousands of years earlier.
- Done in a more restricted fashion in the Forgotten Realms. Humans are native to Abeir-Toril (that is why they count as a Creator Race, and elves don't)... but they are also native to other worlds, and certain cultures are descended from such non-Toril humans (the Mulan, for example, are the descendants of slaves taken from another world that by Word of God was Earth).
- In Warhammer 40,000 they're left over from humanity's efforts at colonizing the galaxy in the distant past. It doesn't hurt that the Imperial bureaucracy is vast and bloated enough to misplace entire sectors for centuries at a stretch...
- While there aren't any actual humans in Spore (except maybe Steve) you can find planets inhabited by tribes or civilizations of your own species and abduct specimens of other species and drop them off on planets.
- The reason why humans, orcs, goblins, elves, dwarves etc can be found on so many worlds in the old Might and Magic verse is that the Ancients (who may or may not be humans/transhumans from Earth) put them there (you can even visit part of the ship that brought your ancestors to Enroth in Might & Magic VI).
- Some Halo fluff mentions that during the United Nations' colonization of stars near Sol they occasionally discovered societies of primitive humans on worlds they knew for a fact no ships had been to. As per Halo: Cryptum and Halo 4, it's a result of Advanced Ancient Humans: humanity had a prehistoric spacefaring empire that successfully beat back the Flood, then tangled with the Forerunners and had their asses handed to them.
- In Among The Chosen a race of aliens called "the Overseers" abducted a bunch of humans some time in the stone age as cheap labor. Thousands of years later some of those humans developed resistance to their mind control and built a device to destroy all the Overseers, it worked. The universe is now filled with metahumans but earth is in a No Warping Zone so most of them don't even know where it is.
- In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, the alien Daribi invaded the earth four times (in 1898, 1938, 1953, and 2005). Each time they were beaten back. During the 1953 invasion, mankind finally captured several of the invaders, only to find out that they were the descendants of Neanderthals who had been transplanted to another planet 75,000 years earlier. They were rescued from extinction on Earth by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens and taken to a world that wasn't actively killing them off.