Following on from the events of Aliens, hypersleep goes on the fritz again and Ripley's ship crash lands on a prison planet, killing all occupants except her. Another facehugger slips into the colony and infects a dog (or an Ox, depending on which cut you're watching), which quickly gives birth to a quadrupedal alien. Arf arf.
This film introduced the concept of aliens having different shapes depending on their host bodies.
The project went through several producers, writers, and directors before finally settling on David Fincher's rewrite, with predictable results. Fincher has since disowned the movie due to the Executive Meddling he had to endure during production. However, due to the special edition of the film, the Assembly Cut, which greatly expands upon many scenes and characters, the film has undergone something of a reevaluation.
This film provides examples of:
- Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: There are several understated ones, including:
- Clemens' reveal that Ripley was the sole survivor of the crash, and his later verbal history of Fury-161.
- Ripley's first conversation with Dillon where he explains his philosophy.
- The scene in the EEV where Aaron helps Ripley with the mediscanner.
- All for Nothing: The first five minutes render the events of Aliens completely moot. Hicks and Newt, after battling through the last movie, are killed off-screen and Ripley is essentially back to where she was at the end of Alien.
- All There in the Manual: The company man at the end named Michael Bishop, the man who created the Bishop line of robots, is not named in any part of the film's dialogue, even in the Assembly Cut. The credits referred to him as "Bishop II", which only fueled the misconception brought on by shoddy editing that he's some sort of special robot with red blood.
- Some other details such as Fury's 10 day year are in hard-to-find material or the Blu-Ray.
- The Asian scientist at the end of the film is never given a name, but one draft reveals it to be Matshuita. Similarly, some prisoners aren't named in the film and go unlisted in the credits, but are named in the script. They are: Lawrence, Christopher, Martin, Janni, Ed, and the mysterious Vincent (who is named in the special edition of the film, but his actor is unknown).
- Ambiguous Robots: Depending on the interview, Lance Henriksen can't decide if his character Michael Bishop is a human or a robot.
- Anyone Can Die: The survivors of the previous film, after fighting through all of Aliens and surviving, all die right in the beginning, except for Ripley. The prisoners are all killed one by one, with a lot of them completely unexpected. Clemens, Ripley's love interest, is one of the first among them. Ripley herself even dies at the end.
- Armor-Piercing Response: It does make Bishop II's reminder that she can still have children if she trusts him all the more powerful and tempting, especially if you've seen the previous movie's Special Edition, which had Ripley learning of her actual daughter's death from cancer.
- Asshole Victim: Most of the characters in the film are convicted murderers and rapists. Some even try to rape Ripley at one point, and Golic is straight-up Ax-Crazy. It therefore becomes hard to root for a lot of them when the Alien kills them. However, this does play into the film's themes of redemption.
- Atomic F-Bomb: After Mr. Andrews is suddenly killed by the Alien, Morse blurts out the appropriate response.Morse: Fuck!
- Attempted Rape: Some of the inmates try to rape Ripley when she wanders off by herself to retrieve Bishops damaged body. They are stopped just in time by Dillon.
- Ax-Crazy: Golic. Even though he didn't kill the two inmates that the others suspect him of having murdered, he is still a homicidal nutcase. When he's contained in the infirmary in a straight jacket, he turns to Ripley and suddenly reminisces about a few women he knew back home. Then he looks her in the eye and says that she's gonna die too. It's really no wonder his fellow prisoners openly dislike him, and Murphy, the dog owner, was apparently the only one who usually nice to him.
- His Ax-Craziness even becomes a big plot point in the Assembly Cut, when he starts regarding the Xenomorph as a god-like being and lets it go after Ripley and the prisoners capture it, purposefully sacrificing himself in the process.
- Badass Preacher: Dillon wasn't a preacher before, but he is now, even spouting scripture while "re-educatin' some of the brothers".
- Bald Women: Ripley's hair is shaved because it's standard procedure to prevent lice and other invasive infections. Provides the page's trope image.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Ripley tells Dillon to kill her. He agrees, "quick and painless"... but he doesn't go through with it. Then later he has his own Heroic Sacrifice.
- Big Damn Heroes: Dillon when he saves Ripley from getting raped by some of the other inmates.
- Big "NO!": Bishop II's prolonged "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" when Ripley kills herself.
- Birth/Death Juxtaposition: The ceremony where Hicks' and Newt's bodies are cremated occurs at the same time that the "Runner" xenomorph erupts from Murphy's dog/the ox. Lampshaded By Dillon's eulogy.
- Bittersweet Ending and Kill 'Em All: Ripley dies to prevent the Company from bringing back an alien specimen, and all but one of the inmates are dead (Morse survived).
- Blatant Lies: Clemons realizes Ripley knows more than she's telling him when she asks to check Newt's body for cholera, which hadn't had a case in 200 years.
- Bloodier and Gorier: The first two films aren't exactly clean, but the violence and gore was usually brief and not excessive for the most part. However, this film amps it up with an extremely detailed shot of spewing guts during the chestburster birth and Hicks having his body absolutely mangled in the crash for starters.
- Book-Ends: The film ends with a recording of Ripley's last spoken sentences in the first movie.
- Bishop II begs Ripley not to kill herself, calling the xenomorph "a magnificent specimen", just as Bishop did in Aliens.
- The Weyland-Yutani mercenaries at the end of the film are armed with M41A pulse rifles, which was the standard-issue rifle carried by the Colonial Marines in the previous film. Although, strangely, the ones in this film sound different when fired.
- The Cavalry: Subverted. Weyland-Yutani has sent a rescue expedition to Fury 161 which arrives by the end of the film, but they don't care at all about saving the prisoners or Ripley; they just want to retrieve the Alien.
- Change the Uncomfortable Subject: Ripley and Clemens both do this.
- Clemens asks Ripley several times why she is inspecting Newt's corpse (for Xenomorph embryos) and her reasons for wanting to cremate both her and Hicks's body, and her need to retrieve Bishop to check the flight data. Ripley continually deflects the question (one time by sleeping with Clemens) because he probably won't believe her.
- Ripley asks Clemens several times how he came to Fury 161, but he deflects the question repeatedly. Eventually he does tell her he was previously an inmate.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Just about all the inmates liberally sprinkle the word into their dialog, to the point you could make a drinking game out of it. Before the release of the South Park movie, you could be forgiven for thinking this movie held the record for most uses of the word "fuck" (you'd still be wrong though.)
- Convection Schmonvection: Averted to some degree. Ripley and Morse are hurt by the hot steam coming from the molten lead, but at that distance, they should have suffered third degree burns at the least.
- Cranial Processing Unit: Ripley does this with Bishop to access the EEV's flight recorder.
- Crapsack World: Fury (Fiorina) 161.
- Cruel and Unusual Death:
- Both Hicks and Newt get this during the EEV's crash landing, Newt for being trapped unconscious in her tube and drowning, Hicks for having his head completely pulped by a support beam that came down on him.
- Murphy getting acid spat right into his face, and then getting diced by the fan when he falls blindly into it.
- This entry's Xenomorph is particularly cruel. Instead of using its nested mouth for the traditional One-Hit Kill, it mauls its victims to death like a wild animal, giving them plenty of time to suffer before it finishes them off.
- Cryonics Failure: The cryopods fail for real. This indirectly causes Hicks to get impaled by a support beam and Newt to drown in her own pod. Ripley's pod also gets a hole smashed in it (due to the facehugger on the Sulaco), and she's seen moving around in discomfort as the pods get loaded into the EEV.
- Also, Ripley's pod was heavily damaged in the crash and by the facehugger, so her body didn't get the benefit of whatever technology is supposed to ease you out of hypersleep. Clemens tells her that "half your body still thinks it's in cryosleep," and Ripley has some symptoms showing she's a bit ill from the process. Or from the Alien queen gestating inside her.
- Darker and Edgier: This is a much darker film compared to the one that preceded it. Aliens was a fairly standard action film with an overall happy ending (and that isn't a bad thing). Its sequel however has an air of hopelessness that just pervades the entire thing. Two major characters are killed right at the start and another one is damaged beyond repair, the film is set on a grimy prison planet populated by murderers and scum, there is almost nothing to fight the alien off with so more characters, even likeable ones, die left and right (often with no build-up), and even Ripley is killed off at the end because it's the only way she could stop The Company from bringing the Alien gestating inside her back with them.
- Deadly Environment Prison: Incarceration on the penal planet of Fury 161 is entirely voluntary. There's a minimal staff with no weapons, as there's no place for anyone to escape to without a functioning spacecraft. However, the facility used to house several thousand prisoners, so presumably security was more expansive when the site was fully operational.
- Deadly Rotary Fan: One of the prisoners (Murphy) is killed by falling into a ventilation fan (after the alien spits acid in his face).
- Death Seeker: Ripley sums up her attitude towards the Xenomorphs as;Ripley: You've been in my life so long... I can't remember anything else...
- Dead Star Walking: Dr. Clemens is set up to be the main male character, but gets killed about an hour in, and Dillon takes over the role for the rest of the film.
- Death of a Child: Newt dies in the opening, and so does a dog not much later.
- Defiant to the End: Dillon during his Heroic Sacrifice simply stares down the alien and tells it "Now, fuck you!" When it charges him, he is still heard screaming for the thing to "come on!" even when the alien is tearing him apart.Dillon: COME ON, YOU MOTHERFUCKER! WHAT, IS THAT ALL YOU GOT?! COME ON!! FIGHT ME!! COME ON!!
- Diabolus ex Machina: Alien 3 makes the end of Aliens this retroactively when it is revealed that an egg made it on the ship, not only causing it to crash but infecting Ripley with the new Alien Queen, necessitating a Heroic Sacrifice.
- Do You Want to Copulate?: Ripley makes a rather blunt suggestion to deflect one of Clemens's questions.Ripley: Are you attracted to me?
Clemens: In what way?
Ripley: In that way.
Clemens: You're very direct.
Ripley: I've been out here a long time.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Ripley holding the newly-born Alien Queen to her chest to prevent it from escaping is not unlike a mother cradling her newborn in love.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Newt, Hicks and Bishop are all unceremoniously dumped.note There's only a brief scene with Bishop in which he asks to be turned off because he'll never be top of the line again.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: On the other hand, Ripley and Dillon get fantastic death scenes.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Aaron is called "85" by the inmates. It refers to his IQ score, which they found out when they took a look at his personnel file.
- Enhance Button: Aaron helps Ripley scan herself in the EEV. He can't make out the picture, so she tells him "Enhance". Result: a confusing, blurry, picture becomes a confusing, clear, picture.
- Enhanced on DVD:
- One of the sequences restored in the Assembly Cut involved the Chestburster being born from an ox and scurrying away. This sequence never had its effects completed and utilizes a hybrid of combining footage of the creatures birth between the two cuts, along with a digital creature for the unfinished shot of it scurrying away.
- The Assembly Cut was originally released without ADR for restored scenes, but the Blu-Ray release brought back the actors to restore the audio.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Dillon may be a convicted murderer and rapist, but since he has found religion he won't stand for it anymore. He unleashes a monumental beating on the other inmates when they try to rape Ripley.
- Everybody's Dead, Dave:
- Ripley discovers that she's the only one of the Sulaco crew still alive after their EEV crashed
- Morse is the only survivor of the Fury 161 colony — he takes one last look around the place before being escorted out.
- Everyone Can See It: Dillon casually asks Ripley if she enjoyed sex with Clemons. She bemusedly asks what keyholes he'd been looking through. Dillon shrugs and replies he was guessing, since it was obvious she was getting along with the good doctor.
- Evil Brit: Most of the Fiorina inmates are portrayed by British actors.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: A dog belonging to one of the inmates barks incessantly at the alien.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: "What are we going to use for bait?... FUCK!"
- Extra Y, Extra Violent: The violent inmates of Fury 161 are all "double Y," and Dillon even snarks to Ripley that "you want help from us Y-chromo boys." Interestingly, the prisoners have chosen to stay after the Company tried to shut the prison down, and are trying to better themselves.
- Famous Last Words: In the 2003 version:Ripley: You're all crazy.
- A bucket burnt by an explosion and then doused by cold water from sprinklers cracks open.
- Ripley dies in the same fashion is Newt and Hicks are disposed of, with the same music.
- The Alien on the movie poster looks remarkably similar to that of a Queen chestburster. Ripley later learns she has one inside her.
- The Glasses Come Off: Dillon slowly removes his horn-rimmed glasses as he and the alien stare each other down.
- Gory Discretion Shot:
- The blood hitting the vent.
- Newt's autopsy.
- Happy Ending Override: Remember the ending of Aliens, when Ripley successfully rescued her surrogate daughter Newt and seemed poised to start an Xenomorph-busting family unit with Hicks and Bishop? All three of those characters are unceremoniously killed off in this movie, the former two in the first five minutes, leaving Ripley to face the Xenomorph threat on her own.
- He Knows Too Much: Ripley states that Weyland-Yutani may murder the inmates simply because they know of the xenomorph's existence. Altough it appears she was wrong; the film's epilogue reveals that Morse was sent to another correctional facility and sworn to secrecy. However, in Alien: Resurrection we learn that he published his account of what happened on Fury 161.
- Hellhole Prison: This movie gets in on the act with Fiorina-161, a/k/a 'Fury', a maximum-security prison world with no weapons of any kind because without a functioning starship escape is impossible anyway. The wardens as a result are nearly powerless against the apocalyptic cult that has gained control over the population, to say nothing of the Xenomorph that hitchhiked aboard the escape pod from the Sulaco. Interestingly it actually was a better prison in the past when it was properly staffed before Weyland-Yutani abandoned it; a facility built for 5,000 inmates has been reduced to housing 25 inmates with a 3-man staff.Ripley: This is a maximum security prison, and you have no weapons of any kind???
Andrews: We have some carving knives in the abattoir, a few more in the mess hall. Some fire axes scattered about the place - nothing terribly formidable.
Ripley: That's all?
Andrews: We're on the honor system.
Ripley: Then we're fucked!
Andrews: No. You're fucked!
- Averted to some degree because the prisoners have settled in and actually prefer living there. The Warden's main power is that without him, no one gets supplies.
- Heroic Suicide: Ellen Ripley, which was enforced by Weaver so she wouldn't have to reprise the character again. Sigourney Weaver does return in the next film, however, but not as Ellen Ripley. Things are a little, well, different.
- Dillon also does this to keep the Alien trapped in the lead mould.
- Hope Spot:
- Aaron survived the alien attack, so he survives right? Wrong, he attacks Michael Weyland after realizing Ripley was right about the company and is shot by one of the Weyland-Yutani commandos accompanying Weyland.
- In the Assembly Cut, Ripley and the inmates manage to trap the alien in the leadworks, only for Golic to release it again.
- "How Did You Know?" "I Didn't.": Before the climax, Dillon off-handedly asks about Ripley having slept with Dr. Clemens in a way that implies he already knew. When she replies that he's obviously been a peeping tom, he says that he wasn't, but her response did confirm his suspicions.
- I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Seriously, the planet is called "Fury". What are you expecting?
- Jerkass Has a Point: Mr. Andrews (the nominal Warden of the prison) is a pretty big Jerkass, but he has legitimate grounds for not wanting Ripley to walk around the prison freely. He has to keep a population of convicted murderers and rapists in check, who are still very dangerous even if they have found religion (his point is proven when a group of inmates attempt to rape her). Also, Ripley's story about a lethal 8 foot tall alien with acid blood (which has never been seen on any other planet than LV-426) would seem implausible to someone who has never encountered it, especially as she has no evidence. From his perspective the more likely scenario is that Murphy's death was just an accident, and that Golic was simply an insane murderer who killed two other inmates. Even this uptick in incidents coinciding with Ripley's arrival is understandable. . . none of the inmates have even seen a woman in years, Ripley's presence is going to be disruptive on multiple levels. He's proven right when said prisoners attempt a gang rape of Ripley — only Dillon's interference saved her some a brutal end.
- Just Desserts: Mr. Andrews was an obstructive jerk who disregarded Ripley's story and tried to have her confined - partially to protect her from the prisoners and partially to maintain his control over them. He's eaten by the Xenomorph while in the middle of shouting down her warnings and telling the guards to have her taken away and sedated.
- The Last Dance:
- Ripley. "You've been in my life so long, I can't remember anything else."
- The convicts qualify as well, as profoundly stated by Dillon.
- Last Note Nightmare: Elliot Goldenthal's arrangement of the 20th Century Fox Fanfare freezes on the penultimate note and degenerates into a frightening wail; damn, even the opening logo fanfare is Darker and Edgier!
- Let Me Get This Straight...:
- The film features an outrageously straight version of this trope. "All right. Let me get this straight. You want to burn it down and out of the pipes, force it in here, slam the door and trap its ass? And you want help from us Y-chromo boys?" One can only wonder how Ripley managed to explain the plan in a way convoluted enough that Dillon had to get it straight, though from his tone of voice, he understood perfectly, and was just sneering at the idea that Ripley needed their help.
- Also, more humorously: "Let me see if I have this correct, Lieutenant - it's an 8-foot creature of some kind with acid for blood, and it arrived on your spaceship. It kills on sight, and is generally unpleasant."
- Made of Iron: Alien 3 proves once and for all that fire is useless in combating an adult alien, as even being drowned under thousands of tones of molten-fucking-lead is only enough to get The Dragon furiously angry and otherwise completely unharmed.
- Major Injury Underreaction: The human Bishop at the end is remarkably unconcerned about getting hit in the head so hard his ear is almost torn off. This probably helped fuel the speculation he's another android. In the Assembly Cut, however, he's obviously in pain afterwards, and it takes him a moment to regain composure.
- My Greatest Failure: This is how Clemens got to Fury 161. He was previously a doctor, but he got addicted to morphine in medical school. When an industrial accident caused the deaths of a lot of workers, he was called in. Eleven people died not because of their wounds, but because he was so out of the world that he prescribed the wrong dosage of painkillers. He was jailed for seven years on Fiorina, and his medical license was reduced to a Class 3C. When the facility was due to be closed down, he elected to stay on as the medical officer when the inmates didn't want to leave (partly because he'd bonded with them on some level, but mostly because nobody else was about to hire him as a medical officer).Clemens: At least I got off the morphine.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The film's very first trailer, promising, "On Earth, everyone will hear you scream," suggested that the film would take place on earth. The film went through eight or more screenplays during its early development stages (some of them, incidentally, were written by people who seem to have never watched the previous films). The trailer in question was made before the final script was even selected. Strangely enough, of the multiple scripts that have surfaced online, not one of them takes place on earth, so one must really wonder what was up with that trailer.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Mr. Andrews. When Ripley tells him about the Alien he won't help her and confines her to sickbay, because he finds her story very implausible and he has a much simpler explanation for the recent deaths.
- One-Book Author: A minor (acting) example - this is the only film that Danielle Edmund (the girl who took over the "role" of Newt) ever starred in. She appears in a Freeze-Frame Bonus during the opening sequence.
- Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Averted. Christianity is still a thriving religion in the 23rd century, even if it's only prominently seen amongst a band of prison convicts.
- Penal Colony: The setting for the film is a shut-down prison planet, where the remaining convicts adopted a monastery culture and chose to remain, becoming more like indentured janitors. Escape is impossible, because there's nowhere to escape to.
- Plot Hole:
- All the Aliens were destroyed in the previous film, and the Queen tore off her ovipositor when she went after Ripley. In this film however there is somehow an Alien egg on board the Sulaco. Actually two of them. Popular fan theories are that the Queen keeps an extra egg stored in some other part of her body for emergencies. Or the ovipositor was never crucial in the first place.
- The previous film strongly suggested the Xenomorph acquisition project was dead, and that Burke acted alone based entirely on Ripley's story to further his career. Otherwise, why would the Company have settlers on LV-426 for years without making them scour it for the most precious lifeform in the universe? In this film, however, they act more like a Xenomorph-worshipping cult, able to send a Conestoga-class starship with a compliment of mercenaries, scientists, and a high-ranking executive to Fury 161 at a moment's notice, completely ignoring the ICC quarantine plot point from the previous film. However, this is more debatable, as Aliens never made it explicit that the project had been shelved, and it is possible that it was top secret and known only by an elite few, who didn't know what planet the Nostromo had landed on.
- A rather strange example of this is the mysterious character known as Vincent. In all versions of the film, the bait and chase sequence begins when Kevin hears a prisoner screaming and then finds the Alien mauling his dead body and in the Assembly Cut, David identifies the dead body as Vincent, but this is odd as everyone who was at the meeting in the furnace is still alive at this point in time and Vincent was nowhere to be seen during that scene.
- Poor Communication Kills: Ripley never tells Clemens about the alien menace, even when he clearly notices that something is wrong and tells Ripley to trust him and tell him what she knows or what she thinks is going on. If she had done it maybe he wouldn't have died.
- Post-Climax Confrontation: After killing the Alien, Ripley is confronted by a mysterious man who claims to be the creator of the Bishop android, even looking like him, as well as the Weyland-Yutani soldiers and Aaron. Ripley kills herself in the furnace to avoid letting the Company get their hands on the Alien inside her.
- P.O.V. Cam: The fishbowl view of the running Alien.
- Power of Trust: After Clemons gives his long story of ruining his medical career, he asks her, "Now... do you trust me with a needle?" Ripley's response: bare her arm. The warm moment is shattered by the Alien killing him.
- Rage Breaking Point: The Runner spend the entire movie refusing to harm Ripley, on the account of being able to smell the Queen, the future of it's race, gestating inside her body; not even being goaded and beaten on the head by her with lead pipes and burning flares was enough to make it raise a single clawed-finger against her. However, the sheer agonizing pain of being drowned in molten hot lead was enough to make it spectacularly snap. leap out of said metallic deluge, break inprogrammed-instinct and charge Ripley in a blind rage with every intent of tearing her and the Queen inside her to pieces to avenge this painful insult.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Ripley gives one to the inmates to convince them that killing the xenomorph is their only option.Ripley: When they first heard about this thing, it was crew expendable. The next time they sent in marines - they were expendable too. What makes you think they're gonna care about a bunch of lifers who found God at the ass-end of space? You really think they're gonna let you interfere with their plans for this thing? They think we're - we're crud. And they don't give a fuck about one friend of yours that's - that's died. Not one.
- Recycled In Space: Some call Alien³ "the first Alien IN A PRISON!"
- Redemption Equals Death:
- Junior in the special edition. He leads the gang trying to rape Ripley, but when she tries to distract the Alien from him in the attempt to trap it in the bunker, he instead runs inside, taking it with him. It rips him apart of course, but the mission succeeds because of him.
- Seems to be a major theme of the film, as pretty much all of the prisoners die at the end of the film to prevent Weyland -Yutani from getting their hands on the Xenomorph.
- Revised Ending: When David Fincher was shooting the film, his intended ending did not involve the Xenomorph bursting out of Ripley's chest. After Bishop II implores her to let them surgically remove the alien, she remains in thought for over thirty dialogue-free seconds—an eternity in film time—before denouncing them and flinging herself into the furnace. A trimmed-down version of this is retained in the Assembly Cut. However, during the expensive reshoots, the studio mandated that Ripley die while giving birth to the alien, turning a quasi-religious moment of temptation and self-sacrifice into a mere formality to keep it out of Weyland-Yutani's hands. Since this is Alien 3, perhaps the nadir of Executive Meddling, Fincher's version was naturally shot down.
- Robotic Reveal: Inverted when someone suspected of being an android is violently attacked, only to start bleeding very human red.Bishop II: [Dummied Out line] I'm not a droid!
- Rule of Drama: In the first film Alien, Kane dies a short while after waking up from the facehugger. Ripley seems to go on for hours on end before finally biting it at the end of the movie. The longer gestation might be because Ripley is carrying an alien queen.
- Sex for Solace: Ripley and Clemens make love for this reason. Ripley has lost two people who meant a lot to her, and Clemens has spent a large part of his life on a bleak prison planet to atone for his past mistakes. Ripley also does it to deflect a question that Clemens asked her, but why she chose this way to deflect it is this trope ("I've been out here a long time", she says).
- Scannable Man: The prison convicts have bar codes on the back of their necks. Clemens has one too, leading Ripley to think that he is one of the inmates. As he later tells her, he was one previously.
- Screaming Woman: Ripley screams when the gang of inmates attempt to rape her, but is more defiant and pissed off than anything.
- Senseless Sacrifice: "85" attacking Bishop II does nothing but get him machine-gunned down, and he wanted to go home.
- Sheep in Wolf's Clothing: Ripley survives an alien attack thanks to being infected, and later uses this to her advantage when confronting it later.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Alien3, when viewed together with Aliens.
- Shower Scene: Ripley has a shower scene shortly after cutting off her hair.
- Sole Survivor: Morse, one of the Fury 161 prisoners, is the only person to make it off the planet alive when the Weyland-Yutani crew leaves.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: At the beginning of the film, the Sulaco launches an escape pod which lands on a planet. Newt and Hicks are both killed in gruesome ways (the gory aftermath is shown), while Bishop has one scene in which he asks to be turned off. Interestingly, the Comic Canon (quite a lot of which was written before 3) sees Hicks and Newt survive, and quite a few fans consider it superior for that reason.
- Surprisingly Sudden Death:
- Dr. Clemens is built up as a main character, but then he suddenly gets grabbed by the Alien and killed off.
- Superintendent Andrews is killed while yelling at Ripley, in a room full of other people no less!
- Swiss Cheese Security: Fiorina, a maximum security prison, has three unarmed staff members to police the inmates, all violent murderers and rapists. The guards have no access to firearms of any kind for emergencies and the CCTV doesn't work. When Ripley asks what prevents the inmates killing them, Andrews responds that there'd be no point, as there's no way of escaping from the place anyway. And "we're on the honor system."
- The special edition (along with novelization) expands this scene by a single line: if Aaron and Andrews were killed by the inmates, the Company would simply stop sending supply ships and let the inmates starve.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The inmates plot to kill the alien by pouring several tons of molten lead on it. It survives the lead, but not being doused with water immediately after, which pops it like a balloon.
- Thrown Out the Airlock: Averted. The Alien dies as a result of being doused with a combination of hot molten lead and high-pressure cold water.
- True Love Is Boring: Pretty much stated by Word of God as the reason Hicks, Newt and Bishop were killed off between Aliens and Alien³.
- Up Close with the Monster: Ripley is attacked by a Xenomorph in the Infirmary, which then proceeds to inspect her closely, inner mouth on display and all that, before scattering without explanation as it detected that she was carrying another one of its kind.
- Villainous Breakdown: If you pay attention, you realize the Alien is having one after it's lead bath. It no longer cares the Ripley is carrying a queen embryo, it wants her dead.
- Wall Crawl: The Runner Alien crawls across the ceiling at various points. We are shown this when we see the POV of the Alien as it's pursuing one of the convicts, and the screen suddenly takes a 180 degree turn as it climbs up a wall and onto the ceiling.
- Wham Line: "You've got one of them in you."
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The theatrical version removed the subplot in which Golic escapes and releases the Alien only to be killed by it, and so he seems to just disappear after Dr. Clemens is killed.
- Why Isn't It Attacking?: The creature gets to Ripley, who is helpless, and... hisses, and leaves. Of course, it's because Ripley is hosting a queen alien.
- You Are in Command Now: After the death of Mr. Andrews, somebody has to take charge of the remaining prisoners. Aaron steps up to the task, but most of the inmates balk at this idea. Dillon is offered the job, but he refuses because he doesn't consider himself the "officer type". Ripley then nominally leads the group in taking out the Alien.
- You Need to Get Laid: Inverted, in that Ripley admits she's gone a very long time without sex; it's strongly implied, however, that she needs companionship, period, since almost everyone she knows is gone.
- Your Days Are Numbered: Halfway through the film Ripley discovers that she's carrying the embryo of a Xenomorph Queen. One way or another, she knows that she's going to die when it rips out of her and at one point even begs Dillon to kill her.
Work Prison Fury 161
Closed And Sealed.
Custodial Presence Terminated.
Remaining Refining Equipment
To Be Sold As Scrap.
End Of Transmission.