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Ultraterrestrials
"60 million years ago
another race, superior to ours
foresaw the catastrophe
fled to space and fled the tragedy
now they're here again, with a simple claim
Alien, Alien attack
They. Want. Their. Planet. Back."

The ultraterrestials are an alien race that, well, isn't all too alien. In fact, they originate from Earth, just like us humans, but their civilization is so much older and more advanced than ours that they have no trouble hiding from us (for whatever reason). The term was coined by the ufologist John Keel in his Operation Trojan Horse in 1970, wherein he claims that the UFOs, various supernatural phenomena (like the Mothman), and religious myths imply the activity of an almighty High Energy Being co-existing with humans on Earth.

Contrast Advanced Ancient Humans, when it's humanity itself that developed early, got advanced, then for whatever reason disappeared or fell back into primitiveness. Contrast Earth All Along, which includes a reversal of this trope: human spacefarers encounter a strange planet with strange lifeforms. It turns out that a lot of time has passed, and this strange planet is actually Earth.

Different from The Masquerade in that the masquerade is the act of hiding (e.g. in Men In Black extraterrestrials are walking among humans), whereas this is about the origin of the hiding species.

The ultraterrestrials often reside inside the Hollow Earth. Still others hang out in Atlantis, or a place that's said to be the inspiration for it. Compare/contrast Transhuman Aliens. Often a form of Precursor.


Examples:

Anime

Comics

Literature
  • In Sinister Barrier by Eric Frank Russell, Earth is populated by Vitons, Energy Beings who exist outside visible spectrum and feed upon human pain and anguish. Oh, and when they die, they turn into ball lightnings.
  • In Bruce Coville's novel The Search for Snout, a boy believed his Disappeared Dad was an alien, but upon meeting him in space, finds out that he's a scientist from Atlantis who traveled into space before it fell, became immortal, and had adventures on alien worlds before returning to live on Earth (And then he disappeared because an alien he'd ticked off on his adventures found him and wanted to harm his family).
  • The fairies from the Artemis Fowl series have got magic and have technology 50 years ahead of ours. And they live within the Hollow Earth, to boot.
  • Humorous version from one of the spin-off Dilbert books, where Scott Adams postulates that all the smart people in the world have hyper-evolved to resemble grey aliens and are the real cause behind UFO sightings, but in fact have all just gone off to live in Switzerland.
  • In the writings of Richard Sharpe Shaver—which he and many others believed to be fact—the Earth was once home to a super-advanced race of people living in ancient cave cities who abandoned this world to travel to another, leaving behind their descendants, the noble Teros and the degenerate Deros. The Deros would later inspire the evil dwarf-like Derros in Dungeons & Dragons.
  • The dolphins in The Illuminatus! Trilogy.
  • In Anne McCaffrey's Acorna Series, the character is a member of a humanoid race of unicorns, descended from more traditional equine unicorns and the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who rescued them from being hunted to extinction on Earth in the middle ages.
  • Ken Mac Leod's Engines of Light trilogy is set in the Second Sphere, an area of space colonized by successive waves of intelligent Earth-evolved life forms, starting with hyperintelligent giant squid, and uplifted dinosaurs. Who fly around in saucers and happen to look a lot like grays.
  • A staple of HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. Deep Ones, Ghouls, and Sand Dwellers are all roughly humanoid and presumably originated on Earth; the Cthonians could also possibly be of terrestrial origins, but their being full-fledged Eldritch Abominations makes this hard to determine. The Great Race is actually a subversion, as while their host bodies originated on Earth, the possessing intelligences that are the actual Great Race projected themselves through time and space from elsewhere and -when.
  • An inversion terms of the Trope History occurs in Dougal Dixon's Man After Man where the descendents of those Humans sent off to colonise distant starts while Earth's ecology recovers return after 5 million years, exploit and alter the planet more than Humanity did the first time, and then leave for some alien-rationalised reason.
  • In 2001: A Space Odyssey, Floyd speculated one of these to be the ones who buried the Monolith in the moon. But then debunk this when he realized they would have found evidence of their existence already.

Live-Action TV
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Distant Origin", the starship encounters an ancient civilization of earth dinosaurs. However, the theory that dinosaurs originate on Earth quickly gets branded as heresy, since it conflicts with the dogma that they have always been in their current region of space.
    • Interestingly, their leader doesn't necessarily say that the Distant Origin theory is wrong. It just happens to contradict the Doctrine, on which their entire culture is based. She's perfectly willing to let the Voyager (i.e. the evidence that humans and Voth are related) go, as long as the scientist making the claim is willing to give up the theory and be relegated into obscurity. She's simply protecting her race's cultural identity.
    • Except that Doctrine is also what gives her the right to rule (without any apparent checks on power or transparency), so she's also protecting her authority. Regardless of whether Strawman Has a Point, this is coming at the cost of stifling scientific progress and denying the Voth any right to debate a new discovery regarding their origin or potential genetic relationship with another spacefaring species.
  • The Doctor Who serials "Doctor Who and the Silurians", "The Sea Devils" and "Warriors of the Deep" feature various branches of a scientifically-advanced race of lizard people who ruled Earth in the days BEFORE the dinosaurs (stated at least once as being 300 million B.C).
    • Also, the Cybermen were originally humans. As of developments in the new series, there are now two distinct groups of Cybermen: those developed into Cybermen on Earth's twin planet Mondas and those created in an Alternate Universe (wherein Britain is a republic, Rose Tyler's dad is still alive, Rose Tyler never existed, and Mickey is Ricky).
    • There was also the Fendahl, whose skull crashed on Earth long before humans existed and psychically guided human evolution for thousands of years so that it could have a suitable host.
    • The revived series does a purer form of this trope with the Silence, who have secretly ruled Earth "since the wheel and the fire", but always went unnoticed due to the fact that you forget their existence as soon as they leave your field of vision.
      • You don't just forget, but anything they say is treated as a post-hypnotic suggestion, including "You should kill us on sight" spliced with the footage of the Lunar landing, meaning humans kill the Silence without ever knowing it.
  • Gary Seven, from the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Assignment: Earth", was from a race of humans raised on another planet, returned to Earth to guide human evolution.
  • The aliens in The X-Files were actually ancient native Earth lifeforms that left for a few millennia and decided to come back. Much to their horror, they found that those pesky apes had built a civilization and replaced them — so they set out to re-colonize Earth, using the Government Conspiracy to aid them.
  • Fringe
    • The First People are a subversion. They're actually contemporary humans using a time machine.
    • The Observers play this trope straight, except for the fact that they come from the very far future. As such, they are telepathic, can travel through space and time at will and "function at highly attenuated time".
  • The antagonists in the Ultra Seven episode "Envoy from Nonmalto".

Music
  • In the song "Alien Attack" (see Page Quote), the synth band S.P.O.C.K. tells a story of hypertech dinosaurs coming back to reclaim their home planet from the humans.

Tabletop Games

Video Games
  • The Lunarians in Touhou Project.
  • The D'ni of Myst fame, though they originated on another world. Their city can be visited in Myst V and URU.
  • In Iji the Komato, and, by extension, the Tasen originated from Earth.
  • The Gillmen of XCOM, possibly inspired by the Silurians and Sea-Devils of Doctor Who.
  • Crysis' Ceph, although they don't quite fit the trope perfectly. Yes, the Ceph are genuine extraterrestrials who originated from another galaxy, but they established colonies on Earth at least 65 million years ago which then went into hibernation. So no, they're not exactly Ultra Terrestrials, but they've been on this planet for so long they might as well be.
  • The Vahnatai in the Avernum/Exile series even look like Roswell aliens, but live extremely deep underground.
  • The Beastmen from UFO Afterlight are actually Ultra-Martians back with a vengeance against the Martians who had imprisoned them in another dimension.
  • Assassin's Creed: The Precursor race known as The Ones Who Came Before co-evolved with what would become modern humans, but dominated them with their superior technology and physical capabilities. They died out due to underpopulation after a great catastrophe, but left a legacy in the form of their DNA mingled with humanity's.

Web Comics
  • The dragons in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, although they left Earth for another planet in the Middle Ages.
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs on Earth also propelled a number of them into space. "Crazy space radiation" caused them to gain human-level intelligence. Eventually, they mastered interstellar travel and (in some of the timelines) returned to Earth.

Web Original
  • The ahuman and solipsist transapient AIs from Orion's Arm are ultraterrestrials to an extent - they were originally created by humans, but after losing their cyberwar against the pro-human transapients, they were exiled from Earth. When the (trans)humans and pro-human AIs finally reached the systems the ahumans had passed through, they found apparently alien artifacts - which turned out to be just stuff that the ahumans had built.
  • The SCP Foundation plays with this in the form of SCP-1000. They were the dominant species on Earth before humanity. Then humanity destroyed their civilization and wiped its own memory of those events through an unspecified means. Now the SCP-1000 want to be "let back in."
  • In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, shortly after Earth has fought off an invasion by the Xorn, the earth is visited by another alien race, the Kankiscree, who have been space-faring for some 70 million years and possess god-like technology. Turns out the Kankiscree originated on earth from one of the dinosaur species. They left due to the dramatic climate change caused by the "dinosaur-killer" asteroid impact and never bothered to come back. They then declared that their mammalian "cousins", the humans, were under their protection.

Western Animation


Unusual EarsFantastic Sapient Species TropesWhat Measure Is a Non-Human?
Unusual EarsAlien TropesUrsine Aliens

alternative title(s): Aliens From Earth
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