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Film / Aliens

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Ripley: Just tell me one thing, Burke. You're going out there to destroy them, right? Not to study. Not to bring back. But to wipe them out.
Burke: That's the plan. You have my word on it.
Ripley: All right, I'm in.

Aliens (1986) is the second film in the Alien film series, starring Sigourney Weaver. It was directed by James Cameron, and shifted the theme from horror to action, something Cameron would later apply to the sequel to one of his earlier films.

Ripley wakes up from hypersleep half a century after the destruction of the Nostromo. Her former employers, the Weyland-Yutani company, disbelieve her claims about the alien and revoke all of her licenses. The company starts taking her seriously, however, when it loses contact with a colony it established on the world where the Nostromo crew encountered the alien. The company sends a unit of Space Marines to investigate, and Ripley — although reluctant to go back — accompanies the unit as a scientific advisor.

When the unit arrives, they find a colony in ruins; the only survivor of what appears to be another alien attack is a little girl who goes by the name Newt. The marines explore further into the colony… and discover an entire nest of aliens.


Aliens is widely regarded as one of the greatest sci-fi, horror, and action movies of all time. It's chock full of awesome moments and iconic scenes, and it gave birth to a fair number of the tropes which have since influenced modern media to a near-absurd degree — and it did all this without the aid of digital editing. It's also one of the few film sequels to be regarded as on a par with the original, if not better. It also permanently redefined what female characters could do in science fiction/fantasy: there is now no more room for any woman to be a Damsel in Distress or Neutral Female, they have to face the dangers as an equal comrade-in-arms.

In 2015, director Neill Blomkamp announced plans for a new Alien film to directly follow this film's events, with Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn attached to return as Ripley and Hicks. Unfortunately, Fox scrapped the film in favor of doing Alien: Covenant instead.


Aliens contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: The first half of the movie mostly consists of Ripley struggling with Weyland-Yutani executives and Burke's attempts to get her to go, as well as the Marines clowning around. We later get Ripley putting Newt to bed and the aftermath of the dropship crashing.
  • Action Girl:
    • Ellen Ripley graduates to one. Although she doesn't possess any particular combat skills, she still has the guts and determination to survive.
    • Vasquez, one of the Marines who nearly makes it to the end. Also known for being more rough-and-tumble than the other Marines.
      Hudson: Hey, Vasquez, have you ever been mistaken for a man?
      Vasquez: No. Have you?
  • Actionized Sequel: Alien was a horror/suspense movie. Cameron thought Alien was so well done that he decided to carry on the story in a completely different way — by adding a few marines, some BFGs, and a hell of a lot more Aliens.
    Tagline: This time it's war.
  • Action Mom: Ripley essentially adopts Newt and goes to enormous lengths to protect her. This is set up earlier in a deleted scene (included in the novelisation and the Special Edition) which reveals Ripley's daughter Amanda died of cancer at an old age while Ripley was lost in hypersleep; Newt is the same age as Ripley's daughter at the last time Ripley saw her.
  • Activation Sequence: When the team is trapped on the surface of the planet, Bishop remotely activates the other Drop Ship aboard the Sulaco and prepares it to come pick them up.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Jenette Goldstein (who played Private Vasquez) originally thought Aliens was going to be a drama about immigration and showed up to audition wearing short skirt and high heels. This incident was directly referred to in a crack Hudson makes about Vasquez during the briefing.
      Hudson: Yeah, when they said "aliens", she thought they said illegal aliens and signed up!
    • This is the second James Cameron film where Michael Biehn is injured in the third act and the film's heroine has to help him walk as part of her Adrenaline Makeover. He also gets bitten on the hand in both those movies and his third Cameron collaboration - The Abyss.
    • All the marines (with the exception of Hicks and Gorman) have the same first initial as the actors who portray them.
  • Admiring the Abomination: Bishop displays this sort of behavior when studying a Facehugger carcass. By drawing parallels to how Ash (the first film's synthetic) reacted to the same creature, the film implies Bishop will turn evil as well, but it's ultimately a Red Herring.
  • Air Vent Passage Way
    • Newt used the system of air vents to avoid being captured by the xenomorphs.
    • The xenomorphs bypass the walls and doors by sneaking through the ceiling plenum à la The Breakfast Club, correctly using the structure to carry their weight and cross the lay-in-ceiling.
    • Ripley and the Marines use ducts to escape the xenomorphs' attack at the end of the movie.
  • Alarm SOS: When Ripley realizes that she and Newt are locked in the facility's medical bay with live facehuggers, she first tries to break the windows with a chair. When that fails, she uses her cigarette lighter to trip the fire suppression system. The Colonial Marines don't know what's actually happening, but they see the alarm notification on the computer and come to her and Newt's rescue.
  • All Webbed Up: It briefly happens to Newt, before Ripley frees her, and the fate of the captured colonists in the reactor. There was originally supposed to be a xenomorph specifically bred for cocooning in Aliens, but it never made it past the concept art stage.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Referenced in a discussion between Ripley and Bishop that indicates there's something worse down in the colony than the aliens they've seen so far... their queen.
    Ripley: They grab the colonists, they move them over there and they immobilize them to be hosts for more of these. Which would mean that there would have to be a lot of these parasites, right? One for each colonist. That's over a hundred at least.
    Bishop: Yes, that follows.
    Ripley: But each one of these things comes from an egg, right? So who's laying these eggs? [there's a long pause]
    Bishop: I'm not sure. It must be something we haven't seen yet.
  • Ammunition Conservation: As mentioned under "Bottomless Magazines," the marines end up with about one half-mag each, and by the climax, they scrape together one full mag plus change for Ripley to storm the hive with. It even provides the page quote.
    "Remember: Short, controlled bursts."
  • And I Must Scream: The nightmarish ordeal endured by the 157 colonists after the attack. See Nightmare Fuel in the YMMV entry for more details, if you dare...
  • Ancestral Weapon: Hicks' shotgun. According to the novelisation, it's been in his family since the Vietnam War.
  • Ankle Drag: Happens to Ripley at the end, when the xenomorph queen latches on to her leg, but she manages to get free at the last moment.
  • Anthropic Principle: Had the atmosphere processor not started to overload, necessitating the survivors instead escape LV-426 within several hours, they would have tried to wait 17 days for a rescue, consequently getting wiped out by the now-enraged hive (an irate Hudson pointed this much out to Ripley they would never survive that long).
  • Anyone Can Die: You can count the survivors of this mission on a single hand. With fingers left over.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted. A splash of Alien blood does burn through Hicks' armor quickly (badly injuring him), but it's obvious the armor is the only reason he lived. Played straight the rest of the time, as a flamethrower explosion slays one Marine and another is too close to the xenomorph and gets acid sprayed all over his face.
  • Artificial Outdoors Display: We see Ripley looking out at a forest of twittering birds, when the Corrupt Corporate Executive comes in, turning the scenery back into a hospital wall.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: The Marines use guns in a combat setting fairly professionally, but one example of horrendous gun safety stands out: when Vasquez and Ripley are helping Bishop into a conduit, Vasquez cocks a pistol and hands it to Bishop, who immediately puts his finger on the trigger. He then hands it to Ripley, finger still on the trigger and pointed straight at her. Ripley accepts it and sets it aside, thumb grazing the trigger while it's pointing at Vasquez. Bishop may be an android and thus incapable of unintentional twitches, but casually handing a loaded firearm to an untrained civilian is something a military android should be programmed to avoidnote .
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • The Marines make a number of mistakes that actual Marines are trained to avoid, like not going over the layout of the place ahead of time (and learning about the atmo processors), Lt. Gorman not relying on his NCO, heavy machine guns and flamethowers in an AO with civilians, leaving the pilot alone on the ship with no security, etc. Also, a Lieutenant like Gorman (especially one so green) has no business commanding a rescue mission on this scale as opposed to a captain or major. One theory is that they were considered expendable, so they didn't send the best team in, and/or Gorman was picked as someone pliable who would defer to Burke when making the big decisions, only for the plan to be derailed when Ripley ended up taking over. Also, Gorman seems to be WAY too old to be just a Lieutenant, especially with no experience. Most officers would have been promoted to Captain by his age, or washed out of the military. Possibly justified if he joined the military later in life, possibly after a failed first career.
    • Hicks remarks that Lieutenant Gorman is 'too good to eat with the rest of us grunts' as a means of establishing Gorman is out of touch with and stands apart from his men. Officers don't mess with enlisted men. At least, Gorman is not doing anything an actual marine would consider out of the ordinary.
    • Some of the Marines' haircuts and uniforms don't meet the standards an audience would expect from real life armed forces. Of course these Marines are in a futuristic, fictional force so Artistic Licence is justified.note 
  • Artistic License – Nuclear Physics: The fusion reactor's malfunction would only cause a lot of superheated plasma that would quickly disperse, not a nuclear explosion-fusion reactions are devilishly hard to create and sustain, and once the conditions are compromised, the reaction goes "phut!" and dies. It'd cause a conventional explosion that you probably wouldn't want to be in the vicinity of, but it probably wouldn't even bring down the atmosphere processor, let alone level everything within 30km.
  • Asshole Victim: Nobody cried when a xenomorph mauled Burke.
  • Audience Surrogate: Hudson, according to Word of God from Cameron.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: The Marine APC.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Ripley and Newt, as shown on the poster image.
  • Badass Boast:
    • The primary dropship's name and motto: "Bugstomper. We endanger species."
    • Hudson attempts one that even uses the word "badass" as often as he can. He does not deal well with the loss of the high-tech gear that he describes in said boast. He does go down shooting while spitting out even more 'heat of battle' boasts, as well. An Alien has to ambush him from below to take him down.
    • Vasquez interrupts Ripley's (admittedly rambling and not-very-informative briefing) by telling her "I only need to know one thing: where they are."
  • Badass Crew: The Colonial Marines certainly fit the bill. Too bad they don't last long, since the Aliens are way more dangerous and numerous.
  • Bait-and-Switch: At the start of the movie, Burke is the only one who appears sympathetic to Ripley. Bishop is presented as a creepy potential Ash. Bishop turns out to be absolutely loyal, while Burke is revealed to be an amoral schemer only out for his own advancement.
  • Bash Brothers: Drake and Vasquez, the two M56 Smart Gun users.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed:
    • Hicks promises Ripley that he will "do us both" if they were hopelessly cornered by the Aliens. It doesn't come to that, and they live through the entire film.
    • When they're trapped by xenomorphs, Vasquez and Gorman take out several aliens via grenade in the Hadley's Hope air ducts rather than be captured and impregnated.
    • In a deleted scene, while searching for Newt in the alien nest, Ripley comes across Burke, who has been cocooned and impregnated. She hands him a grenade so he can take this option.
  • Beware My Stinger Tail: In the novelization the xenomorphs have these, which are used to paralyze victims to be taken back to the hive for facehugger bait. Gorman gets stung during the escape in the APC after the hive raid goes pear-shaped. The scene was too expensive to film, so he gets knocked out by a container falling on his head instead.
  • BFG:
  • The Big Board: The crew uses one to discuss their escape route through the building.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • The moment when Ripley drives the Armored Personnel Carrier through the wall of the xenomorph hive to save the remaining Marines trying to escape is the biggest example of this in the main series.
    • It happens again at the end of the film, when Ripley and Newt are stranded on the atmosphere processor, out of ammo to protect themselves and out of time before the processor explodes, not to mention the fact that they have a furious xenomorph Queen chasing after them. Just when all hope seems lost, Bishop suddenly appears with the second drop-ship and rescues them with only moments to spare.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Vasquez gives one when Drake gets immolated.
    • Ripley, after Newt gets taken in the sewers.
    • Ripley does this earlier when she dreams that she has been impregnated.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Vasquez wrote on her armor "¡El riesgo siempre vive!", which means "The risk always survives!". note 
  • Black Dude Dies First: Played completely straight, as Private Frost gets a flamethrower to the face as soon as the squad gets ambushed and Sergeant Apone gets grabbed by aliens in the same scene (though his death is somewhat delayed).
  • Body Horror:
    • The Xenomorph lifecycle features one of the most infamous examples in film history.
    • Drake himself is horrifyingly scarred after being covered in xenomorph blood.
    • Hicks gets some nasty burns from the aliens' blood too, though not as bad as Drake.
  • Book-Ends: The film starts and ends with a spaceship silently drifting into space as its crew rests in artificial sleep - the same as the first film, in fact.
  • Bothering by the Book: After Ripley has convinced the surviving Marines to just leave and nuke the aliens from the Sulaco, Burke protests that the terraforming installation cost a fortune and he can't authorise them destroying it. Ripley points out that the operation is a military one and his say doesn't matter; the look on his face is priceless.
  • Bottomless Magazines:
    • Averted. An entire scene is dedicated averting this trope; the marines count down how many rounds are left in their sentry guns, while Hicks makes a point of teaching Ripley how to reload a pulse rifle. When Ripley goes Berserker Rage on the eggs, a close-up is shown of the digital ammunition readout counting down to zero.
    • Averted. The pulse rifles can hold 99 rounds, but after the Dropship crash and APC destruction, they only have about fifty rounds each for four of them. 99 rounds seems like a lot, but as Ripley proves in her assault on the hive, it's not quite enough. Hicks also reminds the surviving Marines to use "short, controlled bursts" when the aliens finally come for them, to make their remaining ammo last as long as possible (although during the second firefight, the Marines seem to fire more than fifty rounds each, especially Hudson, who probably shot more than 50 rounds at the facehugger attacking Ripley and Newt alone before the scene even started).
    • The biggest aversion would be the scene whether the xenomorphs are charging the sentry guns. The marines look in horror as the aliens run down the ammo count and three of the guns go empty, and the last one has only ten rounds left before the Xenomorphs give up and try something else.
    • Played straight by the xenomorphs themselves. There were 157 colonists. At least one died before being cocooned (the one they tried to get a facehugger off of), one wasn't caught at all (Newt), and one didn't produce a chestburster until the marines were watching. That makes 154 xenomorphs at absolute maximum, including the queen— and that's assuming both that every other colonist was captured alive and cocooned, and that it was done without killing a single xenomorph.note  How many got killed by the marines? Plenty, in fights we see. The sentry guns alone must have plowed down dozens if not more. But they never stop coming. It is later mostly averted when you realize during the penultimate showdown that there was only token resistance when Ripley entered the hive to save Newt as most of them had been already been killed, no more than 7 xenomorphs not including the Queen try to attack Ripley during the rescue. The one exception to this is when Ripley and Hicks are attempting to escape, and there appear to be something like 30-50 aliens following them.
    • Apart from pacing/tension issues, it's possible that one reason the sentry gun plotline was cut from the theatrical version is to not get into the numbers like these.
  • Brake Angrily: Ripley does this when a xenomorph attacks her from the roof of the APC, throwing the xenomorph off in front of the APC so she can run it over.
  • Broken Bird: Ripley at the beginning of the movie. Newt is in obvious shellshock as well, at first.
  • Brownface: Jewish actress Jeanette Goldstein bronzes up to play Mexican soldier Vasquez.
  • Call-Back: One of the colonist hosts says "Kill me…", referencing a deleted scene in the first film in which Ripley encounters Dallas and Brett being made into more eggs.
  • Casting Gag: Lance Henriksen as the synthetic Bishop is a nod to the fact that he was supposed to play the titular cyborg villain of The Terminator until Arnold Schwarzenegger was cast.
  • Catapult Nightmare
    • Near the beginning, Ripley has a nightmare of having a Chest Burster rip out of her chest and wakes up in terror. This doubles as an expository Flashback of when she first woke up in the hospital, but isn't quite a Flashback Nightmare or Daydream Surprise.
    • Later on, after Burke informs her that contact with the LV-426 colony has been lost, she wakes up and sits up in fear again. She presumably had another nightmare similar to the first one, but the audience is not shown it.
  • Cat Scare:
    • Newt's first appearance, to the extent that Hicks has to knock Drake's smartgun off target so as not to kill her. The novel also uses this scene, but with Vasquez instead of Drake.
    • Before that Hudson's motion tracker is set off, but it turns out to be some pet mice running around a tube maze that looks remarkably like the ducts the humans will be scrabbling through later. Later when Newt is first detected, Gorman knocks over a piece of equipment as they're moving through the medlab.
  • The Cavalry: Subverted. The marines are supposed to be the cavalry, but it doesn't go as planned.
  • Chain Saw Grip BFG: A pretty well justified example: The M56 is mounted on a large harness with a Heads-Up Display and several automated targetting systems. The rounds themselves are fairly low-mass, limiting recoil, and most of the bulk of the weapon system is harness.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Variation regarding Bishop's piloting of the dropship. Ripley rescues Newt and comes out to the platform only to find that he seemingly has run off. He turns up moments later in a heroic Enemy Rising Behind just as the queen arrives, later explaining that the platform was unstable.
  • Chekhov's Armory: A Literal One in the hangar of the Sulaco.
    • Sergeant Apone orders the floor-mounted airlock sealed near the beginning of the mission. Near the end Ripley uses it to dispose of the alien queen.
    • In that same scene you briefly get a look at the second dropship.
    • Not to mention the Powerloaders used to load said dropships.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The tracking device that Hicks gives to Ripley and she passes on to Newt. Ripley later uses to track down and save Newt.
    • In the beginning, Ripley is seen smoking. Her cigarette lighter is later used to set off the sprinklers in the Medbay.
    • A very literal one in Hick's shotgun. He likes to keep it for "close encounters."
    • The two live facehuggers in glass jars. Burke later releases them in an attempt to infect Ripley and Newt.
    • Averted with the two flamethrowers, one half-full and one malfunctioning, that survived the APC's destruction but never get used and Ripley getting a new flamethrower from the second dropship instead.
      • Justified aversion as using a flamethrower while holded up in close quarters as they are would have been devestating. It just goes to show how truly fucked they really are.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: In the scenes with Newt and her family, she and her brother are being told off for playing in the air vents all the time. Newt is then able to guide the rest of the team to the landing bay when the aliens attack.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Ripley shows that she knows how to use a Powerloader early on, and the scene is played for "Getting to know you" laughs. She later uses that same powerloader to fight the Alien Queen.
    • The lessons Ripley got from Hicks on how to use the Marines' weapons, which she uses to great effect during her Mama Bear rampage.
    • It is established through dialogue in the apartment scene with Burke and Gorman that Ripley has a license to operate heavy vehicles at the docks. It comes in handy when she uses the APC to rescue the Marines fleeing the hive under the atmosphere processor.
  • Chest Burster: Several. One kills Ripley in the opening Daydream Surprise sequence. On LV-426, we see a young woman getting chestbusted.
  • Cigar Chomper: Sergeant Apone, to the point that he sticks one in his mouth before he's even out of his cryosleep pod.
  • Climactic Elevator Ride: Ripley rides down an elevator deep into the soon-to-be-exploding atmosphere processor to rescue a little girl. She takes this time to ready all her weapons.
  • Collapsing Lair: After Ripley sets the xenomorph queen on fire, the atmosphere processor starts to collapse due to Explosive Overclocking and finally blows up in a nuclear detonation.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Hudson is suggesting that the aliens have a Queen laying their eggs - comparing them to ants - Vasquez keeps correcting him saying "these things ain't ants."
  • Computer Voice: Female voice on LV-426.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Ripley doesn't recognize the alien engineering inside the atmosphere processor. This is because she never went into the Derelict. The novelization has her recognizing something familiar about it, because the novelization of Alien included the Deleted Scene where she finds Dallas and Brett imprisoned in alien eggs.
    • Also in the novelization, the Captain's Log Ripley is dictating at the end of the first movie has been erased. At one point, Ripley accuses Burke of having done it to cover up the Company's involvement.
  • Continuous Decompression: When the xenomorph queen is Thrown Out the Airlock during the Final Battle. If it wasn't for Bishop, the decompression would have sucked out the little girl.
  • Cowardly Lion: Ripley really doesn't want to return to LV426 and is noticeably twitchy inside the deserted colony, but dives without hesitation into a narrow air shaft to grab Newt, then later drives an APC into a nest of aliens to rescue the marines.
    • Hudson may be inclined to panic when faced with being stranded on a hostile world with little ammunition, but when the cards are down, he's not one to go down without a fight.
  • Creator Cameo: James Cameron's is the voice that speaks when the salvage crew finds Ripley at the start of the film.
  • Creepy Child: Newt starts as one due to the psychological effects of her traumatic experience. Her eerie delivery of the line, "They mostly come at night. Mostly," is often quoted.note 
  • Creepy Good: Bishop is one of the most iconic examples of this in film, as he's very unemotional, creeps Ripley out and gets several shots of him staring intently at the facehuggers in a jar, but he actually turns out to be one of the most valuable allies on the team. It's Burke who's the real traitor.
  • Cryonics Failure: Discussed at length as part of Burke's plan to smuggle the xenomorph specimens back through quarantine.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Thrown out a couple of times in true James Cameron fashion. Hudson asks if the mission is going to be "another bug hunt", implying that this isn't the first time the Marines have encountered non-sapient aliens (though, as becomes clear later, not the titular creatures), and there's Frost and Spunkmeyer's discussion about "Arcturian poontang."
  • Curbstomp Battle:
    • The first confrontation with the Aliens goes horribly awry for the Colonial Marines as they prove rather useless against a completely unfamiliar creature that is tailored by evolution to stealthy movement and surprise attacks.
      • However, it should be noted that after initial chaos, they did manage to reorganize, regroup and fight back, killing quite a lot of aliens in the process. When Ripley pulled out her Big Damn Heroes moment, they were in the middle of organized retreat, with Hicks helping out Hudson, while Vasquez and Drake covered their backs, killing any alien that tried to come close.
    • Reconstructed with the mech-armoured Ripley vs the Alien Queen. Though Ripley is visibly terrified and struggling to control the Power Loader, the Queen can do nothing to penetrate the armour or get to Ripley, at least until it decides it's Taking You with Me.
  • Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: The climate on LV-426 is barely hospitable, thanks to the atmosphere processor. It's always dark and rainy. The oppressive, fastidious effects don't stop even indoors, thanks to leaky ceilings and a subterraneous waterway.
  • Danger Deadpan: The Drop Ship pilot, Ferro. Delivered while wearing mirrored aviator shades, too.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: That's not Spunkmeyer coming up behind you, Ferro.
  • Darkest Hour: Ripley and Newt briefly embrace this, believing Bishop has abandoned them. Both are on the brink of a Despair Event Horizon while the atmosphere processor around them is on the verge of total destruction. The raging alien queen is also upon them. They're out of ammo and out of time. All hope is lost, until Bishop arrives in the second drop-ship.
  • Daydream Surprise: The opening scene of Ripley being killed by a chestburster. It's a proper nightmare and not a daydream, but you don't find that out until she wakes up.
  • Deadpan Snarker: PFC Hudson has a sarcastic remark for everything, the quips are often the way he copes with his panic.
  • Death by Transceiver: Done again with the Colonial Marines' video cameras. The crew left behind see and hear the last moments of several Marines before the screens turn to static.
  • Death of a Child: Newt's brother is outright stated to be dead, other children are shown in an early scene at the colony and it's confirmed that families live on the planet - telling us that other children died during the attack too.
  • Defiant to the End: "Fuck you! Fuck you! AND FUCK YOU TOO!!!!" Exit Hudson.
  • Deleted Scene: Later a lot of these were released on the Special Edition. While many were cut for pacing or for giving way too much exposition, the scene where it's revealed that the colonists have been ordered to look for the alien wreckage (which would give a LOT of the plot away) unfortunately makes the later scene where Ripley accuses Burke of being responsible for the destruction of the colony very confusing. Ripley reveals to Burke that she found out that he ordered the investigation and is to blame for the colony's deaths. At this point, without the deleted scene, the audience has not been informed that there even was a scouting mission to search for the derelict ship and that's what triggered these events. Although it's understandable in context from their dialogue that Burke is a Hidden Villain, the particulars don't make a lot of sense without the deleted scene.
  • Description Porn: Hudson presenting the squad's "state of the badass art" credentials:
    Hudson: Check it out. Independently targeting particle-beam phalanx. WHAP! Fry half a city with this puppy. We got tactical smart missiles, phase plasma pulse rifles, RPGs. We got sonic, electronic ball breakers! We got nukes, we got knives, we got sharp sticks!
  • Deus ex Nukina: The film kicks it up a notch. It was the only way to be sure.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: The second act of the movie shows the great rapport and/or banter of the Marines. It makes the horror that befalls them all the more palpable.
  • Didn't Think This Through: How exactly was Burke planning on sabotaging every other sleep pod to make himself the lone survivor? As a civilian on a military ship, he would probably have been one of the first to be put to sleep. Justified in that his back is against the wall in an already stressful situation, so he's not in the best frame of mind to be scheming.
  • Disappointed in You: Burke, when Ripley is set to wipe out the xenomorphs.
    Burke: Ripley... You know, I... I expected more from you. I thought you'd be smarter than this.
    Ripley: (takes a breath) I'm happy to disappoint you.
  • Disposable Pilot: Corporal Ferro.
  • Distress Call: There's a cessation of communications with LV426. Ripley later reveals that she checked the colony logs, and Burke was responsible for sending the colonists out to look for the alien ship from the first movie.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Bishop hands back the pistol he's given without comment and proceeds on his solo mission unarmed. This implies he thinks one handgun would be useless against a xenomorph, or he really is Three Laws-Compliant as he claims (taking a weapon would deprive the human survivors of needed defense).
  • Dolled-Up Installment: The commentary track reveals that this trope was in play. When asked to do an Alien sequel, James Cameron wrote an outline for his thoughts on a film, which was actually based on something he wrote a few months earlier with the Alien characters dropped in.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: Gorman and Vasquez fight to the death against the aliens.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Ripley has a false awakening in the opening scene.
  • Drop Ship: The two dropships; perhaps one of the first examples of this trope to appear on film. They were designed by Syd Mead who did design work for Blade Runner, and were based on the U.S. helicopters from the Vietnam War. (And refined by Ron Cobb and then completely kitbashed by James Cameron, who was inspired by the Apache helicopter, depending on who you ask.)
  • Dumbass Has a Point:
    • Vasquez, about Hudson's belief that the aliens are inside the perimeter.
    • In the extended cut, Hudson is the one who first theorizes the possible existence of a xenomorph queen.
    • He also, during a freakout, says they won't last 17 hours. Even with their precautions, the xenomorphs breach their defenses in less than that. Had they not figured out that they had limited time to escape before the processor exploded, and thus conceived and executed another plan, it's doubtful anyone would have gotten away.
  • Dwindling Party: The Marines.
    • Dietrich: Grabbed by an xenomorph from behind.
    • Frost: Set on fire when Dietrich is grabbed, which causes her to trigger her flamethrower, and falls to his death.
    • Crowe: Blown into a wall when the ammunition bag Frost was carrying and set on fire by Dietrich explodes, breaking his neck.
    • Wierzbowski: Killed offscreen by an xenomorph.
    • Apone: Grabbed by a xenomorph during the initial exchange.
    • Drake: Covered in acidic xenomorph blood when Vasquez shoots an alien next to him.
    • Ferro and Spunkmeyer: Killed by a xenomorph on the dropship, it's unclear who was killed first.
    • Hudson: Pulled through the floor by a xenomorph.
    • Vasquez and Gorman: Blow themselves up in the air shafts when trapped by the xenomorphs, cutting off the xenomorphs from the rest of the survivors.
  • Dying Declaration of Hate: "You always were an asshole, Gorman", although it said with an It Has Been an Honor tone, as she joins him in gripping the grenade. This is most likely because Gorman came back to try and rescue Vasquez when she was wounded, and is about to lose his life for doing so.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: It takes a lot of blood, sweat, and pain, and all but one of the Marines are killed, but Ripley, Hicks, Bishop, and Newt escape the colony (vaporizing the xenomorphs there), kill their Queen, and enjoy a long-overdue and thoroughly deserved good night's hypersleep on the way to Earth. And nothing bad ever happened to them afterwards.
  • Elevator Escape: Happens twice.
    • When Ripley and Hicks are trying to escape, they make it to an elevator. Hicks repeatedly pushes the button, and the door starts to close... too late to stop a xenomorph from nearly getting to the heroes (and dousing Hicks with acid).
    • Towards the end when the Queen alien is pursuing them — Ripley barely gets into the service elevator in time, driving the Queen back with her flamethrower just as it's running out of fuel. The Queen is snarling in fury when a second elevator arrives, summoned by Ripley's frantic button pushing.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Casey (Newt's disembodied doll head) floating in the water after she's taken by a xenomorph.
  • The End... Or Is It?: After the credits there is silence and a dark screen. Then the organic squelch of an egg opening can be heard…
  • Enemy Rising Behind: The abduction of Newt and the xenomorph rising up behind Burke in Medical.
  • Ensign Newbie: Lt. Gorman.
    Ripley: How many drops is this for you, Lieutenant?
    Gorman: Thirty eight... simulated.
    Vasquez: How many combat drops?
    Gorman: Uh, two. Including this one.
  • Epic Fail: The Colonial Marines enter the atmosphere processor without realizing that the central cooling units can be pierced by conventional weaponry - which they only realize after they're knee-deep in the hive and Ripley points it out to them. Then, without giving a reasonable explanation why, Gorman orders the Marines to give up all their ammo (except for flame throwers) to one man, and said Marine happens to be the first casualty when the xenomorphs attack, because the aliens are hiding in the walls and don't show up on infrared. The only reason anyone escaped is because several of the soldiers contravened their orders and/or carried backup weapons. However in using their weapons they end up rupturing the cooling units just like Gorman feared, causing the atmosphere processor to overheat and eventually melt down.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Bishop's first scene reveals him as a robot. It also serves double for Hudson by highlighting his tendency to freak out when things go poorly.
    • Burke condescendingly referring to Ripley as "kiddo" even as he explains that she's technically half a century older than him.
    • When debriefing the Colonial Marines under his command to ensure they're prepared, Lieutenant Gorman confuses Hudson for Hicks and clearly does not command the soldiers' respect the way Sgt. Apone does. This, along with his obvious discomfort during the drop down to LV-426, establishes Gorman's inexperience.
    • After it's established that Gorman is unsettled during the drop ship's rocky descent to the planet due to his lack of experience in actual combat missions, Hicks is shown sleeping right through the turbulence, simultaneously establishing this sort of thing as old hat for him, and professional enough to always try to catch up on sleep (as you don't know when things will suddenly go sideways and you have to stay awake a lot longer than you counted on).
    • The moment she gets out of cryo, Vasquez is at the bar doing chin-ups while her fellow marines are mostly still groggy, and demolishes Hudson the moment he tries to make a sexist insult about her looks.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Applies to an entire species (depending on your interpretation of the term "Arcturian"), according to some dialogue:
    Frost: I sure wouldn't mind getting more of that Arcturian poontang. Remember that time?
    Spunkmeyer: Yeah, but the one you had was a male.
    Frost: It doesn't matter when it's Arcturian, baby!
    • Frost's armor is decorated with a heart-and-arrow, with the name "Heath" in it.
      • In this case, "Heath" is actually short for Frost's actor's girlfriend at the time, whose name was Heather.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Only Ripley, Newt and a badly-injured Hicks survive (Bishop is still technically "operational", but he's a mess and is missing half his body).
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Cat, actually. In the opening dream sequence, Jonesy senses the Chest Burster inside Ripley and starts to hiss.
  • Exact Time to Failure: Subverted. The Processor's computer systems continually announcing exactly how much time is left to reach minimum safe distance before meltdown. However with one overloading machine destroying another, its ceases to function after t-minus two minutes. Though at this point, the entire superstructure is a fiery inferno.
  • Excessive Steam Syndrome: During the scenes in the alien's lair.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change:
    • Hudson's spiked-up hair reflects his confidence. After the team is decimated and Hudson completely freaks out, his hair is flat. The front part of it goes up a bit when Ripley tells him to get a hold of himself. When he starts to regain his composure, his hair is more up but still wet and flat in places. When he's fully regained his confidence, it's spiked up again.
    • Ripley's hair changes between her hearing and a few months later when she's now working in the cargo bay. It's much shorter and also seems to represent her upcoming Adrenaline Makeover.
  • Explosive Overclocking: Essentially what the Weyland-Yutani Corporation does with atmosphere processors. Everything's fine so long as their cooling systems work. Compromise those however, and you're screwed. Whatever remains will work its guts out until it overloads, the entire station will go up in a cloud of vapour soon after that.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • One of the Marines is looking almost directly at an alien nested in the wall, but fails to see it amidst the mass of pipes and conduits on the walls and ceilings.
    • The xenomorphs cannot impregnate the android Bishop. That doesn't stop them from trying, though, as in deleted scenes they tried to pursue him in the shaft he was crawling through.
    • Happens again when the survivors find out too late that they neglected to secure the space above the false ceilings, giving the xenomorphs a way in.
    • The marines fail to notice Ripley and Newt trying to get their attention on the camera monitor after a facehugger gets loose in Medical. Or Burke quietly turning off the monitor so they'll continue to be oblivious.
  • Famous Last Words: Vasquez.
    Vasquez: You always were an asshole, Gorman.
  • Fanservice:
    • Sigourney Weaver in underwear in the last scene.
    • The first scene on the Sulaco has all the Marines waking up from cryosleep in underwear. Notably in the first film, Kane was wearing a vest. In this film, everyone except Burke is shirtless.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • This is apparently the fate of Apone and Dietrich, if the explosion of the atmospheric processing station didn't kill them first.
    • In the novelization, Ripley found Burke in the queen's nest, and left him with a primed grenade when he said that he could feel the chestburster moving inside him. The scene was restored for the Alien Anthology Blu-Ray release.
  • Feminist Fantasy: It's subtle but apparent - the female marines are treated exactly the same as the men, the women in the cast are not there to provide eye candy, and even the people who give Ripley shit do so because she's a civilian and not because of her gender. It's doubtful that you will ever find a more hardcore balls-to-the-wall action movie that ends in a struggle between two supremely badass mother figures over the life of a female child.
  • Final Girl: Actually subverted, which could be expected with the genre shift. Ripley makes it, of course, but Newt, Hicks, and Bishop also manage to make it to the end alive. In fact, Ripley actually seems somewhat relieved she isn't the only one to survive like last time.
  • Five-Finger Fillet: Done by Bishop, leading to his Robotic Reveal.
  • Flatline: Several Marines have their vital signs monitors flatline when they're killed by xenomorphs.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the Special Edition, the "bees and ants" conversation foreshadows the appearance of the Queen.
      Hudson: She's badass, man, I mean big.
    • Newt reckons the scenario will turn ugly again for the humans, despite the presence of the Space Marines.
      Ripley: Newt, these people are soldiers. They're here to protect you.
      Newt: It won't make any difference.
    • Ripley promises that she won't leave Newt, "cross my heart and hope to die". She gets a chance to prove that she means it when the xenomorphs capture Newt with only minutes before a nuclear detonation will occur.
    • Ripley suggests nuking the site from orbit and Hicks agrees. The site ends up nuking itself when the damaged power plant explodes.
    • Also in the Special Edition, when Commander Simpson is discussing claim rights for colony surveyors. In reference to Newt’s dad, “if he finds anything, it’s his”. Well, he certainly brings something back to Hadley's Hope with him — and that particular "piece of salvage" does not stay his, but becomes a major problem for the entire colony very fast. Also, Newt's dad was only concerned about his claim not being honored "because you sent them to that particular middle of nowhere on Company orders," indicating someone took Ripley's story seriously enough to have it investigated, kicking off the entire plot.
    • The pilot Ferro is literally ripped in half by the xenomorph that surprises her. Gory Discretion Shot with red blood ensues, but we later see the same thing happen to Bishop who, as we know by now is an android, survives and is able to save Newt in the process.
    • While searching the colony, they find vats of facehuggers, two of which are still alive, and as one is alerted by Burke, Hicks comments "Looks like love at first sight to me." Later, we learn that the "love" went both ways, with Burke wanting to bring in a xenomorph himself, and when Ripley refuses to cooperate, he sics the two living facehuggers on her and Newt.
    • After the dropship rescues Ripley and Newt, a blast sends it hurling sideways into the wall before Bishop regains control. As he retracts the landing legs, some of the wreckage is pulled in with them. The Queen alien apparently used the opportunity to jump into the landing leg well.
    • Ripley confronts Burke about not even mentioning Bishop's presence as an android aboard the Sulaco despite having heard her version of the events that transpired aboard the Nostromo. Burke sincerely admits he just didn't think to mention it. It's an early sign of his lack of consideration for other people, in particular their pain and suffering.
  • Flipping the Bird: Apone's "look into my eye" to Hudson.
  • For Science!: Bishop's role interest in the facehugger is to study it. He has no interest in taking one home.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Ripley, from the Xenomorph's point-of-view.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Ripley lays one on an increasingly despairing Hudson, in the presence of his CO no less.
  • Giving Them the Strip: Hicks must quickly shed his acid-blood-spattered body armor before the corrosive stuff can penetrate to his skin.
  • Going Critical: The fusion reactor of the atmospheric processor starts to go into meltdown when its cooling system is damaged. Especially gratuitous, since a fusion reactor has no core to melt.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Ferro's blood spraying on the dropship window.
  • Go-to-Sleep Ending: The film ends with Ripley again preparing to go into hibernation after escaping from the alien-infested planet with the other survivors.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Vasquez and to a lesser extent Burke tend to mix some proper Spanish terms every now and then.
  • Guilt-Free Extermination War: After the first engagement with the Xenomorphs leaves most of the Colonial Marines dead, Ripley convinces the remainder to exterminate the alien monsters by firing a nuclear missile at them from orbit. The Xenos are an omnicidal species adhering to a Blue-and-Orange Morality, a species that is heavily implied to be a genetically engineered bioweapon that is supposed to completely supplant any sentient lifeform in the area it infects. The only person to object to this is a Corrupt Corporate Executive with a stake in weaponizing them.
  • Gut Feeling: Ripley feels there is something off about Bishop due to her prior experience with Ash in the first film. She's wrong.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Bishop gets torn in half by the alien queen near the end. In a rare example of this trope, he lives.
  • Handicapped Badass: Despite being torn in two by the Alien queen, Bishop manages to not only stop himself from being pulled into the vacuum of space, but saves Newt from being blown out the airlock as well.
  • Hand Signals: Both Lieutenant Gorman and Sergeant Apone use these multiple times.
  • Hands-On Approach: As Ripley learns how to use the pulse rifle from Hicks.
  • Happy Ending Override:
    • The "positive" ending (James Cameron intended Ripley, Newt and Hicks to go back to Earth and live as a family) is overridden by the following film, which has both of them die (offscreen) and Ripley later learning that You Can't Fight Fate. Ironically, Alien 3's Happy Ending Override may itself soon be overridden, as Neill Blomkamp is trying to get a sequel to Aliens which ditches Alien 3 and everything after it off the ground.
    • Subverted with the canonical interquel video game, Aliens: Colonial Marines, in that Hicks is shown to have actually survived, and the body in his capsule was not his. It's still a downer because he witnesses Ripley's death while trying to rescue her.
    • While Alien didn't exactly have a "happy ending", the opening of Aliens salts the wounds a bit harder for Ripley by revealing that she was stuck in cryosleep for decades and she was (initially) unable to convince anyone of her ordeal, costing her her job. Even worse, the Special Edition reveals that her young daughter grew up and died never knowing what had happened to her mothernote 
  • Hate Sink: Carter Burke, a man so bad that the actor's own mother said she was glad he died.
  • Hellevator: "We're on an express elevator to Hell — going down!"
  • Hellish Copter: Poor Corporal Ferro.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Gorman, and at the worst time possible.
    • Newt, for a while, was so shell-shocked she couldn't speak.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Gorman and Vasquez doing a Taking You with Me / You Shall Not Pass!.
  • Homage: The film has several homages to the book Starship Troopers, such as asking if the mission was a "bug hunt", referring to "combat drops," and the female dropship pilot. Additionally, all the actors playing the Marines were required to read the book before filming.
  • Honor Before Reason: When Ellen Ripley makes a promise, crosses her heart and hopes to die, you can bet your cocooned hide that no hive of monsters, snarling Alien Queen or imminent thermo-nuclear explosion will stop her from saving your life.
  • Human Architecture Horror: The Battalion of Colonial Marines sent to rescue any surviving colonists captured by the Aliens find to their horror that their shattered corpses, ribcage erupted from within, plastered the resin of the nursery that incubated the monsters' young with their bodies. The Medical Officer lifts the head of a seemingly unbroken body, only the eyes to suddenly snap open, and its owner begins to beg for a quick and painless death as a jet of blood suddenly shoots forth from her chest with a sickening crunch...
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Ripley accuses Burke of this.
    Ripley: You know, Burke, I'm not sure which species is worse. You don't see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage.
  • I Gave My Word:
    • Played straight. Ripley promised that she would not leave Newt behind, imminent thermonuclear holocaust or not.
    • Subverted with Burke: see the Opening Quote above, a ruse to trick Ripley into helping him.
  • Idiot Ball
    • The meltdown can be traced to the stupidity of both Gorman and the Marines who disobeyed him. The latter, obviously, disobeyed orders and caused the meltdown (though they were certainly justified, as at that point it was either disobey or die). Gorman, however, gives no reason as to why he doesn't want them shooting, even though "you'll blow up the reactor" is not exactly a complicated reason - and even if they did shoot, they would at least be thinking "Gotta be careful, or we all go up in a cloud of vapor".
    • The ending confrontation could be completely averted if only Ripley killed immobilized queen instead of shooting her visibly not vital hatching organ - or at least not wasted her ammo on xenomorph eggs (which would be evaporated along with the colony anyway), so she could kill her in the corridor chase later. Even if she expected the queen not to be able to chase her and Newt, she had no guarantee that more xenomorphs wouldn't ambush them during escape. She left herself basically without any weapon to defend herself.
  • Ignored Expert: Ripley tries to explain the events of the original movie and the xenomorph to the Marines, but is constantly interrupted with sarcastic questions, macho posturing, and ignoring the civvie. Once they actually encounter them, they're no longer laughing.
  • Impaled Palm: Averted with Bishop's Five-Finger Fillet with Hudson. Bishop nicks a finger, revealing he's an android.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Bishop at the end. He gets impaled from behind by the Alien Queen who hid on the dropship.
  • Implied Love Interest: There are lots of little moments with Ripley and Hicks - he asks her if she's alright right before they go into the colony, he calms her down when she's driving out of the alien nest, she reminds him he's next in command, and a few other tender lines between them. The only outright Ship Tease moments are him saying "this doesn't mean we're engaged" when he gives her a tracking device, and the Given Name Reveal towards the climax.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: The loading bot Mini-Mecha is used in the final battle against the alien queen.
  • Insult Backfire:
    Hudson: Vasquez, you ever been mistaken for a man?
    Vasquez: No, have you?
  • Instant Cooldown: Averted. By the time they notice emergency venting from the atmospheric processing station it has already reached a point where it's too late to stop it from exploding even if the cooling systems are fixed.
  • Ironic Echo: Burke dismisses Hicks as a grunt incapable of making a major decision, but quickly adds, "No offense." Later, after Burke's treachery is revealed and the Marines intend to "waste him", Hicks coolly adds, "No offense."
  • It Can Think:
    • "What do you mean THEY cut the power? How can they cut the power, man — they're animals!"
    • The alien queen shows that she knows full well what Ripley means when she points the business end of a flamethrower at her eggs, and her tearing herself away from her ovipositor and coming after Ripley is strongly implied to be out of rage for Ripley killing the eggs.
    • The novelization has Ripley and Bishop discuss the implications of intelligence in the Queen making her nest below the base's main reactor; as Bishop observes, this could indicate a feral animal choosing the warmest location for comfort, or an intelligent being choosing the only place in the whole facility that their enemies couldn't destroy without destroying the entire colony in the process.
    • In the director's cut, the survivors watch as the sentry guns burn through almost all their ammo before the xenomorphs finally "fall back" to look for another way in. Hudson lampshades this by saying "Maybe they're demoralized..."
  • It Has Been an Honor: Vasquez gives Gorman the "power grip", her ritual for greeting and departure she only shared with the chosen few like Drake, before they detonate a grenade to avert being captured/killed by swarms of xenomorphs.
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure: This film is the Trope Namer.
    Ripley: I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
  • Jump Scare: James Horner's masterful use of the screeching violin Scare Chord is demonstrated in the following three nerve-shattering moments
    • In the grisly "nursery" of the atmosphere processor, walls plastered by shattered corpses with their faces frozen in final agony, Dietrich the medical officer lifts the head of an seemingly unbroken body.... only for the eyes to suddenly snap open for its death-pale owner to desperately plead for a merciful death....
    • Ripley and Newt awake from their well-earned nap in the med-lab, to find that Burke has taken away the former's rifle in her sleep and released two facehuggers in the room with them.... Ripley cautiously peeks out from under the bed only to have one of the little beasts leap out for her head.
    • Corporal Hicks slowly lifts the grate on the roof of the barricaded Command Center... only to find that a swarm of Aliens has crawled within breathing distance of him among the maze of pipes and electric conduits.
  • Karmic Death: The traitorous Company executive, Burke, abandons everyone to the aliens- presumably assuming that they really will kill him once they escape- only to run directly into a bloodthirsty xenomorph himself. In a deleted scene (and in the novelization), Burke becomes the host for a chestburster, the original fate he had planned for Newt and Ripley.
  • Kill the Lights: When the xenomorphs are preparing to attack, they cut the building's power supply.
    Ripley: They cut the power.
    Hudson: What do you mean they cut the power? How could they cut the power, man? They're animals!
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Carter Burke gets his.
  • Last-Name Basis: Through most of the film. Ripley and Hicks eventually progress to First-Name Basis near the end, just before Ripley assaults the Alien hive to rescue Newt.
    Ripley: See you, Hicks.
    Hicks: Dwayne. It's Dwayne.
    Ripley: [beat] Ellen.
    Hicks: Don't be gone long, Ellen.
  • Last Stand: Discussed and shown in the tie-in comic Aliens: Newt's Tale. The Hadley's Hope colonists hole up in a wing of the facility to try and make a last stand against the xenomorphs. It ends...badly, with Newt being the only survivor shown.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Ripley survives the first movie.
  • Late to the Tragedy: Ripley and the Colonial Marines. The settlement on LV-426 has already been wiped out when they get there.
    Apone: Sir, this place is dead. Whatever happened here, I think we missed it.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Leaving Jonesy behind was Cameron's way of saying there would be no Cat Scares like the previous film.
  • Little "No": Uttered when Ripley thinks Bishop has abandoned them.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage:
    • Before going down to the planet, the Marines have one of them lock and loading the dropship, then their personal weapons, then their weapons onto the APC, then the APC into the dropship.
    • The film takes this to the next level (and is likely the defining example for the series). Ripley tapes together a pulse rifle and a flame thrower, grabs as much ammo as she can carry, puts on a bandolier of grenades and stuffs a bunch of flares in her pocket during the dropship ride to the atmosphere processor. She then removes her long-shirt and preps her weaponry during the elevator ride down.
  • Made of Iron: Ripley's leg must be stronger than the power loader's, considering how the Alien Queen grabs hold of her ankle while the airlock is open and somehow Ripley's leg isn't torn off.
  • Magic Countdown: Notably averted. When the computer announces how much time there is until the place goes up, that's exactly how much in-movie time it takes for the place to blow up.
  • Mama Bear: The last half-hour deals with Ripley defending Newt from the xenomorphs and the Alien Queen defending her eggs from Ripley.
    Ripley: Get away from her, you bitch!
  • Mandatory Unretirement: Ripley is called back to join the mission for her expertise after being suspended from work.
  • Manly Tears: Hicks briefly when they realize the rest of the Marines are lost to the Aliens. With Hudson, it's more like Inelegant Blubbering.
  • Meaningful Echo: Newt mimics the Marines saying "affirmative" a few times. In the end as Ripley is about to put her into the hypersleep – specifically saying "sweet dreams" – Newt responds "affirmative."
  • Meaningful Name: The noble, nonviolent and self-sacrificing android is called "Bishop."
  • Mech vs. Beast: Ripley uses the powerloader to go toe-to-toe with the xenomorph queen.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Averted. Two females and two males survive the expedition (that is, if you count Bishop as male.) The marine party has at least three women, and all of them die, in addition to the colonist woman we see get chestbursted. The only non-civilian to survive is Hicks (a man.)
  • Mercy Kill: Ripley comes across a cocooned Burke in the atmosphere processor begging for help. She gives him a grenade, though he whines as he obviously knows what this means for him. Though considering the fate of the other 157 colonists he damned (not including Newt), he got off easy.
  • Mercy Kill Arrangement: Ripley asks Corporal Hicks to kill her if she gets impregnated by alien facehuggers, and he agrees emphatically.
  • Mildly Military: James Cameron has admitted that the Colonial Marines came off as a lot less disciplined than actual Marines; rather, they were more a reflection of Vietnam-era Army conscripts. Some specific examples:
    • The Marines embark on a mission that may likely involve contact with unidentified, hostile forces, commanded by an unsupervised, inexperienced officer.
    • Instead of leaving someone onboard the Sulaco who could pilot the backup Drop Ship down to rescue them if needed, they take everyone along on the mission.
    • After locating the colonists, the entire force goes out to recon an unexplored area.
    • Vasquez and Drake disobey direct orders from their commanding officer (Lieutenant Gorman) and 2nd in command (Sergeant Apone) and re-arm their smart guns.
    • During their first encounter with the xenomorphs, the Marines panic like a bunch of schoolchildren.
    • After it's become clear that something is seriously wrong at the colony and that hostile xenomorphs may be responsible, Spunkmeyer exits the drop ship, leaving the door wide open for any xenomorph that might want to get inside. Naturally, one does. It kills both Spunkmeyer and Ferro, thus crashing the drop ship and marooning the rest of the team on the planet.
    • Their uniforms and some of their weapons are decidedly non-uniform, with personal touches and decorations no actual military would allow. Though this was enforced by Cameron, to give subtle hints to each Marine's character.
  • Militaries Are Useless: Newt predicts that the presence of the Colonial Marines "won't make any difference." When the aliens show up, the Marines get overpowered very quickly and become a Dwindling Party. This leaves Ripley — a civilian — doing most of the heavy lifting and calling the shots, together with Corporal Hicks.
  • Mini-Mecha: The powerloader, complete with welding torch, hydraulic pincers and docking bay controls.
  • Mission Briefing: The Colonial Marines get one before descending onto the planet.
  • Mission Control: Lieutenant Gorman, from inside the Marine APC. He's hopeless at it, though.
  • More Dakka: The film is largely premised on the Colonial Marines attempting to bring heavy military firepower to bear on the xenomorphs. Due to various circumstances including incompetence, overconfident leadership, and deliberate sabotage, they fail to deliver the full extent of this promise. The best examples that get displayed in the film are the smartguns and the automated sentry guns.
  • Myopic Architecture: The Marines make barricades by welding critical doors and air ducts shut. Unfortunately the xenomorphs don't use the humans' corridors for movement and instead crawl inside the space above the false ceilings, an approach missed by the defenders.
  • Neck Lift: Ripley does this to the alien queen during their fight using the mechanical arm of the cargo loader she's strapped into.
  • The Neidermeyer: Lt. Gorman, who is unit commander In Name Only. Sergeant Apone is the real commander of the unit, and when he dies, Gorman completely freezes up. He gets better… but it's unfortunately just before his demise.
  • Necessary Weasel: The colonists have been terraforming LV-426. This avoids the necessity for the actors to run about in cumbersome spacesuits, which were needed just to walk on the surface in the previous movie.
  • Nice Day, Deadly Night: After the drop ship is destroyed and the protagonists are trapped on the surface of the planet LV-426, Newt warns Ripley about the deadly threat the xenomorphs will pose to the Colonial Marine force once night falls.
    Newt: We'd better get back cos it'll be dark soon, and they mostly come at night. Mostly.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Ripley pointing out that the marines were under the cooling vents for the atmospheric processor, leading to Gorman ordering Apone to remove all (needed) ammunition.
    • Vasquez and Gorman blowing themselves up was a good idea at the time, but only if they had waited about 30 seconds before Newt got up the ladder first.
    • The Alien Queen was suspended high and above the ground by a strange apparatus to allow her to use her ovipositor; however, it rendered her immovable. Throwing the bandolier of grenades into the fire not only didn't hurt her but it also destroyed the apparatus, allowing her to move freely once she tore free of her now shredded ovipositor.
    • When Ripley ran over the Alien with the APC during the escape sequence, it bled acid that splashed on the undercarriage of the vehicle. Seconds later, they're stranded in the middle of nowhere with a broken transaxle. Oops.
    • Ripley goes on a rampage against the eggs. She wastes nearly all of her ammo doing so. This leaves her almost nothing to defend herself and Newt against the (now very angry) Queen, when the eggs would have all been destroyed in the impending explosion anyway.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Hudson's marksmanship is built around this belief. Just watch how many bullets he pours into a single facehugger.
  • No Help Is Coming: After the Colonial Marines have their first battle with the xenomorphs, the hope of rescue is raised and immediately dashed.
    Ripley: How long after we're declared overdue can we expect a rescue?
    Hicks: Seventeen days.
    Hudson: Seventeen days? Hey, man, I don't wanna rain on your parade, but we're not gonna last seventeen hours!
  • No New Fashions in the Future: Ripley and Burke's outfits scream 80's, with Sigourney Weaver's curly hair and Paul Reiser's bad perm getting special notice. Conversely, the business suits all have turned-up collars.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The colonial Marines' "pulse rifles" clearly aren't, at least not as Cameron earlier depicted them - the name "pulse rifle" implies that they're some kind of high-tech laser gun, when they're just shooting regular bullets.
  • No OSHA Compliance:
    • The building complex on LV-426 does have handrails, but they are only thigh-high, and result in at least one Colonial Marine falling over and plummeting through the floors of an atmosphere processor.
    • There is a huge unshielded rotor at the end of the Air Vent Passage Way that swallows Newt.
    • In the novelisation Ripley duct-taping an assault rifle/grenade launcher to a flamethrower is assumed to be this, but she's past caring by that point.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The Arcturians that the Marines talk about.
    • The suggestive "another bug hunt" ad-libbed line establishes that the Colonial Marines are no strangers to fights against non-human races.
    • Sgt. Apone wants a nice clean dispersal "this time."
    • Lt. Gorman mentioned this was his second combat drop. Wonder how many of his troops survived that first one.
  • No One Gets Left Behind
    • After the Colonial Marines learn that some of the ones left behind in the escape are still alive, Vasquez says "Then we go back in there and get them. We don't leave our people behind." Averted, since they don't in fact go back in after them.
    • Played straight with Ripley going in after Newt.
  • Not Quite Dead: The xenomorph queen, who did not die in the nuclear detonation but found its way onto the dropship, leading into the Take a Moment to Catch Your Death scene.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Despite being more focused on action, the film gets in on this. The aliens aren't even seen until over an hour into the film; before that the Marines are exploring the deserted colony, waiting to encounter them at any moment.
  • Nuke 'em: This option is suggested by the characters to deal with the Aliens ("It's the only way to be sure"), but the plot does it a different way, as the colony's atmosphere processor counts down to a thermonuclear overload all on its own.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Board of Inquiry of the Weyland-Yutani Company interrogate Ripley for hours on end about the Nostromo incident but refuse to believe her story about the alien creature (because no such lifeform has ever been encountered on any other planet) or the inside orders that came from the company. This is used to mislead the audience, as the only member who expresses sympathy towards Ripley is Carter Burke, hiding his role as the villain.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Ripley discovers that not only are there colonists on LV-426, they have their families with them too.
    • Ripley wakes up and sees the containers holding the facehugger specimens have been opened.
    • Burke when turning around and noticing the Xenomorph behind him.
    • Hudson gets a lot of these moments.
      • Hudson's face while Bishop does his high-speed version of Five-Finger Fillet.
      • "Game over, man. Game over!"
      • "This is a big fucking signal… ten meters… eight…" "That can't be, that's inside the room." ba-beep-beep "It's reading right, man!" "Then you're not reading it right!" BA-BEEP BEEP "Three meters… what the HELL?!?" *eyes go upwards to the drop ceiling*
  • One-Liner: Being a traditional 80's action film, it features quite a few:
    • "I like to keep this handy for close encounters."
    • "What the hell are we supposed to use, man? Harsh language?"
    • "We waste him. No offense."
    • "Get away from her, you BITCH!"
    • "LET'S ROCK!"
    • "Eat this!"
  • One-Book Author: Carrie Henn, who played Newt, never made another movie. Her parents very wisely invested the money she made from Aliens, and she decided that she didn't want to be an actor and became a teacher. Carrie does make the occasional appearance at conventions though, and she and Sigourney Weaver still keep in contact.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Carrie Henn was living in the UK at the time of filming (one of her parents was British, the other American), and apparently picked up some of the accent. Near the end when the protagonists are escaping through the airducts, she suddenly slips into an English accent on this line:
      Newt: Up there! There's a shortcut across the roof!
    • And, of course her peculiar, now legendary pronunciation of "mostly."
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Ripley outlived her daughter due to her 57 years in hypersleep.
  • Outrun the Fireball
    • The dropship barely escaping the nuclear detonation on LV-426. They actually have plenty of time to escape (twenty six minutes), but Ripley refuses to leave without Newt.
    • Also everyone running out of the way of the crashing dropship, which explodes into flame and rolls right between them.
  • Parental Substitute: Part of what makes the film so touching is Ripley's 'adoption' of Newt. Ripley, being frozen for 50+ years, lost her daughter, and Newt's family were killed by the Xenomorphs, so the two fill the empty spaces in each other's lives. Newt actually calls Ripley "Mommy" by the end of the film.
  • Parenthetical Swearing: According to supplemental material, Colonial Marine Drill Sergeants are not allowed by regulation to swear at recruits… so they take Gosh Darn It to Heck! and make it sound as filthy and nasty as possible.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Drake's camera bash.
  • Pet the Dog: In the midst of a serious situation, and trying to figure out how to survive, Hicks takes the time to lift Newt up onto the table so she can see the display that they are making defense plans with.
    • Although possibly unintentional, this was a very wise thing to do, given her demonstrated expertise.
  • Pipe Maze: The interior of the atmosphere processor. Without the Tracking Device, Ripley would never locate Newt.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • In all fairness, Ripley makes a terrible attempt at describing the Xenomorphs to the marines, though it's likely justified since some of her recollections might have been affected by post-traumatic stress.
    • After being alerted to the risk of damaging the reactor coolant equipment with gunfire, Gorman orders the Marines to unload their weapons and give all of their ammo to one guy to carry, leaving them with flamethrowers only. Not being told why they were doing this, and having rather little faith in their commander's abilities, most of the Marines (notably the machine gunners) keep some ammo on them and end up shooting up the coolant equipment anyway as soon as the fighting starts.
    • The colonists are told to investigate the grid reference where Ripley reported the alien spaceship, but aren't warned about the potentially hostile aliens that are inside. This is purely because Burke didn't want to make a fool of himself if there was nothing there, or have the government barging in on Company's exploitation rights if there was.
  • Powered Armor:
    • The Power Loader Ripley uses is an interesting example of one without the "armor" part of the trope, being mostly an open frame used for loading cargo like a wearable forklift. Outside film material implies that Colonial Marines sometimes used an actual armed and armored version of the same technology for special situations, though the marines in the film do not seem to have one in their armory.
    • The Power Loader is designed almost exactly like a traditional forklift, just with legs instead of wheels. It actually looks like it is very well designed to protect its operator when it's being used in situations it's designed for (loading cargo, where a typical accident will be a bunch of heavy stuff falling). This particular model is definitely not designed for any type of military/combat use though.
  • P.O.V. Cam: Used with the Marines' helmet cams, linked with the APC to give the CO there a better situational awareness. It doesn't really help.
  • Practical Effects: The power loader, the Alien Queen (and her giant egg sac), the chestbursters, Bishop's severed torso, all done without the aid of CGI. And it is glorious. It really is. The special effects in this movie stand up with the best CGI of today. It's rather amazing how well it's aged.
  • Product Placement: The Power Loaders are apparently manufactured by Caterpillar, but unfortunately they're not a real product. (Though both Caterpillar and the people who saw the movie and then called Caterpillar trying to buy one probably would've liked them to be real.) Ripley is also seen wearing Reeboks.
  • Quizzical Tilt: Both Ripley and the Alien Queen do versions of this at different points.
  • Race Against the Clock: The countdown for the Explosive Overclocking of the atmosphere processor.
  • Rage Breaking Point: The movie reveals that Ripley's biggest fear is being cocooned and impregnated like Kane was in the first movie; she's shown to have nightmares, a colonist's death by chestburster triggers a mini-breakdown for Ripley, and she even implores Hicks to kill her if need be, rather than let her suffer the same fate as the colonists. It all comes to a head during her rescue of Newt at the end; they end up in the Queen's nest, surrounded by facehugger eggs. One opens up a few feet from Ripley, and she snaps. Cue her More Dakka moment.
  • Rare Guns: The Colonial Marines' standard sidearm is the H&K VP70. In this case the VP70 was chosen due to both its futuristic appearance and its rarity; not only does it look the part, but the odds of the audience recognizing it as a (then) 15-year-old handgun were pretty slim.
  • Rated M for Manly: Smack-talking badass Space Marines packing a shitload of badass weaponry to hunt down badass aliens...hell, even the adorable little girl is badass.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Usually used to establish how out-of-depth the Colonial Marines are when they meet the xenomorphs. Lt. Gorman has only ever performed two real combat drops (including the current one he is leading), so when the Sergeant Rock is killed and circumstances get messy, he freezes and Ripley has to salvage the situation.
    • Ripley wakes up 57 years after the loss of the Nostromo. There is nobody else to corroborate her story about how a lethal alien monster with acid for blood killed the rest of the crew, and the xenomorph was Thrown Out the Airlock (some damage it caused to the escape pod being the only evidence of it ever being there). The planet where the xenomorph was encountered in her story has been colonised for twenty-odd years and nobody there has ever reported encountering any living thing matching the creature's description. Surprisingly, the WY executives do not take her testimony seriously one bit. Instead they chalk it all up to an industrial accident and revoke her flight licence.
  • Real Robot: The Power Loader is a good example.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Ellen Ripley is an outstanding aversion. She doesn't wear a literal dress, but her feminine qualities are precisely what make her so badass: She becomes a Team Mom of sorts, using Tough Love to give some much-needed emotional support to the demoralized surviving Marines, and goes full-on Mama Bear to mount a solo rescue mission when the aliens capture Newt.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Subverted. Burke is the only authority figure to sympathize with Ripley and comes across as a fair and reasonable person… until The Reveal.
    • Sgt Apone and Cpl Hicks qualify as very reasonable figures, fulfilling this.
  • Recycled Title: Alien, and then Aliens. It makes sense. First there's one alien and now there's many aliens.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Early in the film, Lt. Gorman displays incompetent and indecisive leadership while in command of his marines, to the point where a civilian (Ripley) essentially takes command for a short time. He then spends most of the rest of the movie incapacitated with a head injury. However, near the end of the film he apologizes to Ripley for his incompetence, seems content to leave Hicks in charge (being concussed, he probably wasn't fit to resume command anyway), fights hard against the Xenomorphs and dies a hero's death while trying to save Vasquez after she is wounded in the air ducts.
  • Red Herring Mole: Ripley meets the android Bishop, of whom she's intensely distrustful due to her experience with Ash in the first film, and is later seen examining some dead facehuggers. It looks as though Bishop will betray our heroes in the interests of acquiring a xenomorph for the company, just like Ash, but it turns out Burke is the one who really wants to bring in a xenomorph. Bishop was only following his initial orders.
  • Red Shirt: Easy way to determine Red Shirts: Are they named Ripley? No? They're boned. Frost, Crowe, Dietrich, Wierzbowski, Apone, Drake, Spunkmeyer, Ferro, in that order.
  • Refuge in Audacity: When Ripley accuses Burke of intending to use her and Newt as hosts for the Xenomorphs, the only defense he offers is to point out how crazy-sounding the plan is.
  • Remote Vitals Monitoring: The APC features a station where all of the Marines' camera feeds are kept up with as well as some of their vitals, with Gorman acting as Mission Control. When the xenomorphs attack in the base of the atmospheric processor, Crowe and Frost are the first two deaths, with the camera lingering on their vital sign monitors as the readings flatline. Later, after the Marines are rescued, Hudson looks at the station and sees that Apone and Dietrich's vitals are still active but weak, but Ripley says it's because they're being cocooned like the colonists, and they can't be saved.
  • Retirony: When the survivors are trapped on the planet's surface with little hope of rescue, Hudson wails that he has "four more weeks and out, now I'm gonna buy it on this rock". He's right.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Bishop may be synthetic, but he's not stupid.
  • Robotic Reveal: Bishop is revealed to be an android fairly early on.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Practically the entire squad of Space Marines. The xenomorphs are against serious opposition this time and Ripley tries to reassure Newt by telling her she is now protected by soldiers, but as Newt predicts it doesn't make any difference.
  • Salvage Pirates: In the opening, Ripley's escape shuttle from the first movie is found by a deep-space salvage crew, who express disappointment at finding her alive, as "there goes our salvage, boys". Averted in that they don't consider killing her and salvaging the shuttle anyways.
  • Save the Villain: Ripley stops Hicks from killing Burke on the spot once his betrayal is exposed, saying "No, we need to take him back!" Presumably she hopes a public trial will expose the Company's role in the deaths of her crewmates on the Nostromo.
  • Screaming Woman:
    • Ripley screams as she falls into the gravity well with the Queen, and just before the Queen loses its hold on her during the airlock sequence.
    • And Newt — excusable though as she is just a little girl facing very real monsters. It also saves her life when she's cocooned awaiting the facehugger. Ripley has found her Tracking Device lying on the floor and breaks down in tears, thinking she's dead. Suddenly Ripley hears Newt scream and thus knows exactly which direction to go.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Ripley doesn't want any part of Burke's hopes to profit off the xenomorphs.
  • Semper FI: The United States Colonial Marine Corps is the successor to the USMC. A proud and self-described "ultimate squad of state-of-the-art badasses". In line with the parallels to the Vietnam War evoked by Cameron, their superior technology is not enough against a hidden foe with a home turf advantage.
  • Send in the Search Team:
    • The salvage team that finds Ripley's shuttle.
    • The Colonial Marines sent to find out what happened to the colony on LV-426 that has gone silent.
  • Sensor Suspense: Several scenes with the motion trackers, especially the "They're crawling through ceiling!" scene. And in the deleted sentry scene right before that, seeing the ammo count from the sentry guns decline rapidly. It's used quite differently and effectively early in the film, with the Marines searching the colony compound visually and with trackers, and finding, quoth Hicks, "Nothing. Not a goddamn thing." The fact that nothing happens, nothing shows up on the motion sensors (except some hamsters), but there's clear and omnipresent signs that something did happen, quite effectively ratchets up the suspense several notches, well before any Aliens at all appear.
  • Sentry Gun: A mini-plotline in the director's cut features the Marines barricading a main hallway and setting up four auto turrets at key locations in two pairs. The first pair fails to hold back the incoming waves of xenomorphs, but the second pair finally convinces them to look for another means to reach the humans within… after being drained to ten rounds in one gun.
  • Sergeant Rock: Sergeant Apone is one of the most famous examples of this trope.
  • Shout-Out:
    Bishop: It is impossible for me to harm, or through omission of action allow to be harmed, a human being.
    • At Gorman's briefing, Hudson asks "Is this going to be a stand-up fight, or another bug hunt?" This is a direct reference to the novel Starship Troopers, that the actors were required to read, just like real Marines, and was ad-libbed by the actor.
    • Hicks' aforementioned line about keeping a shotgun "for close encounters."
    • There are two references to Stanley Kubrick films. The movie opens with slow, desolate shots of Alien's lifeboat drifting through space, accompanied by music from Aram Khachaturian's Gayane ballet suite; the same adagio is used for the lonely establishing shots of the Discovery in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Later, in the director's cut, there is a scene of people working on the colony on LV-426. In this scene, there is a low angle shot of a child riding on a Big Wheel tricycle. This is a reference to The Shining. This same tricycle was seen in The Terminator, and again in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
    • The Director's Cut has a Badass Boast speech from Hudson which mentions "phased plasma rifles." Presumably they're in the 40-watt range.
    • In another Joseph Conrad reference, the Marines' transport vessel Sulaco is named for the town where the novel Nostromo is set.
    • Ash from the first film is being referenced as a "Hyperdyne Systems" model, which is only two letters away from "Cyberdyne Systems".
    • As mentioned above under Hellevator, the "express elevator to Hell" is going to Level 7.
    • Bishop's Five-Finger Fillet looks like a reference to Dark Star, where one of the astronauts tries this but ends up (harmlessly) stabbing himself.
    • The marines mention having sex with things called "Arcturians" with Frost mentioning that even if the one he slept with was male, it wouldn't matter because it's Arcturian. This is a shout out to the highly influential comic story The Long Tomorrow by Dan O'Bannion and Moebius (who would both be vital crew on the first Alien film) where Arcturians are Starfish Aliens that double as a Voluntary Shapeshifter. One tells the hero he could take any form that pleases the hero, even the hero himself if that's what he's into.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Hicks likes to keep one handy. For close encounters. Played With in that the shotgun doesn't really seem to do much: Hicks fires it twice at an offscreen alien, and there's a screech, but no indication if he killed it or even really hurt it. Later, Hudson grabs the gun, shoves it in an alien's mouth, and pulls the trigger, which does a handy job of disposing of the alien but also splashes Hudson's arm with some acid blood (and presumably destroys the shotgun as well, since it's never seen again in the film).
  • A Simple Plan: The Mission Briefing makes everyone believe this is a standard operation. See Epic Fail for what follows.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: Private Vasquez is played by a 5'3 actress and wields a 40-pound machine gun.
  • Small, Secluded World: What the movie becomes once the protagonists are at LV-426, as the sole living people on the planet consist of the Marine squad, Ripley, Burke, Bishop, Newt and Mary, the cocooned colonist who is killed only moments later. The characters are completely cut off from the rest of humanity, and they can't expect a rescue for 17 days.
  • Smart Gun: The M56 Smart Gun comes with a lot of nifty features, most prominent being the servo-harness which makes it easier to carry, operate, and links to targeting processor.
  • Smug Snake: Carter Burke is the slimiest corporate bastard ever.
    Ripley: You know, Burke, I don't know which species is worse. You don't see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage.
  • Snowy Screen of Death: Each crew member's helmet camera and vital signs are hooked to a screen and any time somebody dies, their screen goes static.
  • Space Marine: This film trades the civilian Space Truckers of the first movie for rough 'n ready space marines.
  • Species Title: A sequel of Alien with Ellen Ripley and her crew investigating the moon and finding that it wasn't a lone creature, but a member of a whole species, making the Antagonist Title.
  • The Speechless: Newt is this until Ripley takes the time to get her some hot chocolate and clean her up.
  • Spiritual Successor: To, of all things, Rambo: First Blood Part II. Both Actionized Sequels feature a jaded, castigated survivor of a grueling ordeal being called back into action on a rescue mission which goes awry and turns into a hellish mediation on the Vietnam War and its chaotic confusion. Also, both were written by James Cameron. Interestingly, Cameron said he didn't write the "politics" of Rambo, just the plot and action.
  • Stairs Are Faster: Nearly occurs when Ripley is escaping with Newt from the complex in the climax. Unfortunately, they end up providing the Queen with a means of reaching the dropship with them.
  • Stay Frosty: Hicks says this to Hudson and Vasquez. Ironically Private Frost (who's referred to as 'Frosty' at one point) has already been killed, so this could be Tempting Fate.
  • Stealthy Colossus: The enormous Queen deserves some credit for sneaking in a not too big dropship and remaining undetected for the entire flight back to the Sulaco. However this is because she's hiding in the bay used for retracting the undercarriage.
  • Storming the Castle: Ripley loading up for a one-man raid on the Xenomorphs' hive to rescue Newt.
  • Stupid Future People: Ripley mockingly suggests this to explain why no one is listening to her story about the alien after she woke from a 57 year hypersleep.
    Ripley: Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?
  • Suit with Vested Interests: To recoup his losses (the destruction of the LV-426 colony), Burke puts a higher value on getting a sample of the creature than he does on the crew. As does Weyland-Yutani as a whole.
  • Super Window Jump: After Hudson puts some holes into the pane to soften it up, Hicks jumps through a glass window, dives into the room where Newt and Ripley are trapped and then starts wrestling with a facehugger. A very badass moment.
  • Surprise Vehicle: The dropship rising up behind Ripley and Newt during the escape sequence. It takes Newt looking at it and screaming it to Ripley to make her realize it's behind her. In fairness, the place is blowing up around her ears. Lampshaded by Bishop: "That platform was just becoming too unstable. I had to circle and hope that things didn't get too rough to take you off."
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Subverted. The alien queen hides on the dropship and suddenly impales Bishop with her tail. Though the dismemberment doesn't kill him, since he's an android, he's no longer a threat to the stowaway queen.
  • Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: When Ripley, Newt and Bishop step off the dropship after escaping LV-426, Ripley takes a moment to thank the android for saving her and the young girl. Bishop replies that he did do good... and then he gets ripped in half by the xenomorph queen, who hitched a ride up with them.
  • Take My Hand: Bishop grabbing Newt before she could get sucked out the airlock.
  • Taking You with Me:
  • Tastes Like Friendship: Ripley gets Newt to talk by giving her a glass of hot chocolate.
  • Terraform: The purpose of the Hadley's Hope colony, using massive fusion-powered atmospheric converters to do the job.
  • Technology Marches On: When Gorman and the non-combatants are watching the live feed on the Marines' helmet cameras, they do so on CRT displays. The static also indicates an analog signal. Perfectly normal in 1986, hilariously outdated today.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Ripley gets her listeners mildly squicked when she accuses Burke of intending to "impregnate" her. With an Alien, of course. (Which is bad! But at least it's not Paul Reiser.)
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • The Marines and Ripley decide to nuke LV-426 to make sure they wipe out all the Aliens. Averted because not only do the Aliens kill the pilot of the Drop Ship, but the huge reactor blows up in a thermonuclear explosion - making nuking the planet redundant.
    • When Hudson shoots the facehugger going for Newt, he uses rather more bullets than he really needed to.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Averted. The famous quote of Ripley telling the queen Alien to stay away from Newt qualifies "bitch" as an insult, not merely a gratuitous punctuation.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: The marines interrogate Burke's actions for trying to impregnate Ripley and Newt with chest-bursters. Hudson is disgusted, and wants to waste the scumbag. Hicks tries to hear out both accounts and cross-examine them before doing anything drastic. When Ripley reveals Burke's true motives, right down to how he planned to be the sole-survivor of this disaster he created, so no one else would be alive to contradict him, Hicks finally snaps.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: Bishop paraphrases the First Law as to why he would never kill people like Ash did in the first film.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: An aversion, as Ripley expresses gratitude and is simultaneously forced to admit she was wrong about Bishop all along, but their conversation is literally cut short as the Queen Alien impales and rips the android in two.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: The Alien Queen is disposed of by ejecting her into space.
  • Thunderbolts and Lightning: Lightning zaps and arcs erratically around and inside the Atmosphere Processor as it rages out of control.
  • Token Romance: Between Ripley and Hicks.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Ripley starts out the film as a simple commercial freighter officer and ends up kicking ass.
    • Hudson loses his credentials after the first rout with the Aliens and is a nervous wreck for most of the movie, but eventually goes out with a bang.
  • Totally Radical: The dialogue of the marines is strewn with 1960's Vietnam War slang, despite taking place in the future.
  • Tracking Device: Corporal Hicks gives Ripley a wrist mounted tracking device. Ripley later gives it to Newt.
  • Trading Bars for Stripes: Drake and Vazquez.
  • Traitor Shot: Bishop gets one that looks like this when he talks with Spunkmeyer about the facehugger specimens kept in the medical wing. He later proves to be a capable support character who rescues Ripley and Newt at a pivotal moment.
  • Unbuilt Trope:
    • The film is credited with kick-starting the gritty, grizzled Space Marine trope that's permeated science fiction and popular culture for decades afterwards. It's easy to forget then that the Colonial Marines in Aliens are portrayed as arrogant, trigger-happy jarheads who, despite their overwhelming confidence, had never faced anything even remotely like the xenomorphs, and suffered for it. It's not a display of badassery so much as it is a sci-fi version of 'Nam. Furthermore, the only marine who survived the ordeal was the one who followed the orders of Ellen Ripley, who is not only a civilian but also a woman and the main character, something rare even today in similar genres. The only other survivor is Bishop, who's probably one of the nicest people in the entire series. The final confrontation is between two Mama Bears, Ripley and the alien queen, completely counter to the hyper-masculine narratives permeating the versions that followed.
    • The film also subverted the Punch-Clock Hero trope long before it became commonplace in television and film. When Ripley is court-martialed and drummed out for destroying the Nostromo in the previous film, she simply picks up work at Gateway Station's docks and doesn't make any waves for a fair stretch of time. Even when Burke and Gorman come to recruit her for the mission, she refuses on the grounds that it's not in her job description and the mission sounds uneventful. It takes another bad dream to convince her to go, and even then, she acts largely as a civilian advisor (who doesn't like the soldiers she's traveling with) until two-thirds of the way through the film.
    • While a handful of films released around this time were beginning to embrace the Kid Sidekick and Tagalong Kid tropes (most notably Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom two years earlier), Aliens was actively subverting it via the Newt character. While most kid characters simply existed to be rescued or provide witty comebacks, Newt is the only one of the group who fully understands the danger on LV-426. She listens to commands and follows them, has a wry sense of humor at times, and at one point, Ripley and the others defer to her judgement (in the maintenance ducts after fleeing from the attack on Medical). All this for a kid who's no more than ten years old.
    • This film codified Vasquez Always Dies where the tougher less-feminine warrior is killed off in contrast to a more feminine survivor. But here Ripley isn't exactly there to provide glamorous Fanservice or serve as the love interest; she's only more feminine in the fact that she's a civilian. What's more is that there are two other (significantly less butch) female Marines who also die; Vasquez just happens to have more screen time and development. Not to mention that Vasquez is one of the last characters in the movie to die, and in contrast to the anticlimactic end that the trope frequently implies, she gets a badass last stand alongside Gorman.
  • Understatement: Burke tries to explain why he didn't warn the colonists what they were looking for: "I made a decision, and it was... wrong. It was a bad call, Ripley. It was a bad call." Ripley immediately calls him out on this.
    Ripley: Bad call? These people are DEAD Burke!
  • Unstoppable Rage:
    • After Ripley burns the Queen's eggs, she breaks off of her ovipositor and goes after Ripley personally.
    • Ripley barbecuing the eggs and then pretty much emptying her pulse rifle into the Queen's chamber (bullets and grenades) also qualifies as this.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension:
    • Hicks, the only surviving Marine, flirts with Ripley while teaching her to use a pulse rifle (Ripley even strokes the grenade launcher pump rather suggestively). There's also an earlier scene where Hicks gives Ripley one of the colonist's tracking devices, telling her it'll help him find her if they get separated and awkwardly trying to put it on her wrist. He defuses the situation by remarking that it doesn't mean they're engaged now, and Ripley puts it on herself.
    • When Ripley leaves an injured Hicks on the dropship to go get Newt they exchange first names.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: During the intense and turbulent drop through the atmosphere, Hicks is revealed to have fallen asleep. It's a hint that despite his low rank, he's a very experienced and competent Marine, as opposed to Gorman, who is in command, but is only making his second drop ever, and will freeze up when things start going to hell.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: This film is the Trope Namer. The chinup-pulling, smartgun-wielding Colonial Marine Vasquez dies, while the maternal, civilian Ripley lives. Several other female marines also die, but are given less characterization and attention. James Cameron likes his Action Girls, but they apparently need to be acting on maternal instincts.
  • Verbal Tic: Hudson wants ya to know that it's man, man!!
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: After Gorman has the squad disarm in the reactor, Vasquez produces a couple of replacement batteries from her tanktop for Drake's and her smartguns.
  • Video Phone: Burke leaves My Card in case Ripley changes her mind about going on the mission to find out what happened to the colony on LV426. After her next Catapult Nightmare, Ripley sticks the card in her videophone where it automatically connects her to a sleepy Burke.
  • Wall Crawl: The aliens are shown crawling on a ceiling. This has been adapted in later movies and been made extensive use of in the Alien vs. Predator games, as alien players are able to change to wall-crawling mode and thus traverse any surface, no matter if vertical or even upside down by simply walking towards it.
  • Weld the Lock: The team welds the doors leading to Operations shut to keep out the Aliens. They come in through the ceiling instead.
  • We Will Wear Armour In The Future: The Colonial Marines have fairly realistic armour. It even saves Hicks' life (though not any of the other marines).
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Did no one save those poor, innocent hamsters from nuclear vaporization at the end of the movie?
    • The last we see of Ripley's cat is when Ripley tells him she decided to take the mission. In the novelization, she left him on Earth (commenting that only she needed to go back into danger). Given what happens in the next movie, Jones the cat may have the happiest ending of any of the characters in this movie. Maybe even the entire series.
      • Not just in the novelization. She makes it clear in the film that she's leaving him on Earth too.
        Ripley: And you, you little shithead, are staying here.
  • Who Needs Their Whole Body?: Bishop is able to operate after he is cut in half. Even in the next movie.
  • You Are a Credit to Your Race:
    • Bishop uses a fantastic non-malicious version after Ripley disposes of the Alien Queen.
      Bishop: Not bad for a human.
  • You Are in Command Now / Still the Leader:
    • Corporal Hicks becomes able to authorize a nuclear attack thanks to alien-caused attrition in the higher ranks, though the company lieutenant was only wounded, not killed, in an incident precipitated by his own ineptitude. When he's up and around again, Lt. Gorman seems to acknowledge his failure of command, allowing Hicks to continue calling the shots.
      • Gorman does get one last opportunity to let his higher rank shine; during their desperate escape attempt in the vents, Vasquez gets injured, and Gorman - who even before this was finally starting to show some competence - firmly orders Hicks on while he goes back to help Vasquez. Hicks obeys without hesitation.
    • This also applies to Ripley, thanks to Hicks' low-key command style. The marines defer to Ripley because of her greater experience with the aliens and her more forceful personality compared to the inept Lt. Gorman. Hicks plays along because her orders make sense, quietly providing his own expertise and authority when needed. It's likely not a coincidence that Ripley's (civilian) rank was raised from Warrant Officer to Lieutenant First Class for this movie — more than one reviewer assumes that Hicks regards Ripley as his superior officer. Even the failure to resolve their UST plays into this.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: The committee of Obstructive Bureaucrats investigating the loss of the Nostromo refuse to believe Ripley's story because there's no evidence to back it up, the colonists on the planet haven't reported anything unusual, and (it's implied) because if Ripley's story is true, it would uncover some nasty skeletons in the Company's closet.
  • You Keep Using That Word: During the inquisition, Ripley states she ejected a Xenomorph "out the goddamn airlock!" The Narcissus does not have an airlock, it just has a door. Keep in mind, Ripley is a professional spaceflight officer.
  • You Know Too Much: Though he also has other motives, Burke sets up Ripley to be infected by a facehugger after she uncovers his role in the colony's destruction, and makes it clear that she will expose him.
  • You Leave Him Alone!: Again, "Get away from her, you bitch!" There's a lot of tropes in that one line.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Inverted.
    Ripley: [to Burke] Happy to disappoint you.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!:
    • Ripley and Newt's Tracking Device.
    • Ripley rescues Newt from the Hive, they escape the planet along with Hicks and Bishop just before the fusion reactor explodes, and all seems well. Then it turns out that the Queen Alien hitched a ride.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Vasquez and Gorman in the Air Vent Passage Way.

Newt: Are we gonna sleep all the way home?
Ripley: All the way home.
Newt: Can I dream?
Ripley: Yes, honey. I think we both can.
[tucks Newt in]
Ripley: Sleep tight.
Newt: Aye-ffirmative.

Video Example(s):


"Get away from her, you bitch!

In Aliens, Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) says the iconic line against an Alien Queen. In Paul, the line is said TO Sigourney Weaver.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / ActorAllusion

Media sources:

Main / ActorAllusion