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Alien Fair Folk

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Carnivale draws tourists from all sorts of far off places. Source
Any sort of conflation between aliens and The Fair Folk.
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There are two variants of this trope. The first one is the so-called paleocontact theory which implies that various legendary creatures (gods, demons, angels, fairies, gnomes, etc.) are actually extraterrestrials who visited Earth many centuries ago. The other variant is the so-called "interdimensional hypothesis" proposed by ufologist John Keel and astrophysicist Jacques Vallee; according to it, the fairytale creatures (who are actually Ultraterrestrials possibly of electromagnetic origin) are nowadays posing as aliens in order to trick humans. In real life, a third view disbelieves they're real beings, but hypothesizes both are a result of our folklore (based partly on hypnogogic hallucinations), with space aliens taking the place of fairies as our ideas change.

Compare Angelic Aliens and Space Elves; also compare Digital Abomination for when supernatural creatures are conflated with AI and computer viruses rather than with aliens. Often a form of either Doing In the Wizard or Doing In the Scientist. The latter version can be seen as a subtrope of Mistaken for Aliens. See also Alien Space Bats, when aliens change real-life history itself.

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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: One ayakashi possessed a cymbal and flew around near a road, causing people to report UFOs. When Lucy investigates the area, she runs into Shirogane, an ayakashi that shapeshifted into Matsuri's male form. She had only seen that form in her dream and Shirogane calls Lucy by name unprompted, so she assumes "Shiromatsu" was a psychic alien and his ninja gear was a spacesuit. Shirogane decides to go along with it, and when he leaves her, the cymbal ayakashi passes overhead, convincing Lu he'd flown off to space.
    Later chapters show Lu will take any blatant evidence of the supernatural and concoct bizarre alternate explanations based on the extraterrestrial.
  • Both aliens and spirits exist in Dandadan, and Okarun wonders if there's some kind of connection between the two. He points out the The Flatwoods Monster is supposedly an alien, but the one he encounters is affected by a magic ward as if it was an evil spirit. While spirits are Invisible to Normals, explicitly alien characters can see them just fine. Momo's telekinesis is nominally a spiritual power, and the kind of thing typically unlocked by encounters with spirit, but she got it when she was abducted by aliens. It's also theorized the reason aliens stay covert instead of invading Earth is because the yokai are too powerful.
    Okarun: Certain studies have shown that people who see psychic phenomena often also see UFOs just as often! In other words, spirits and aliens may have some points of commonality.
  • The Incubators of Puella Magi Madoka Magica at first appear magical, and Kyubey is occasionally called a fairy, but they are actually aliens. That said, they do take advantage of magical power, just in an indirect manner.
  • Lum's horned alien race in Urusei Yatsura are identified as Oni. The series has quite a few other yokai-based aliens, often making it ambiguous whether the legends were based on Ancient Astronauts or if the aliens' resemblance to the legends is a coincidence. Interestingly, most of the human cast take it completely in stride that the creatures of their legends are from space, seemingly figuring that the practical difference between "outer space" and "fairyland" doesn't amount to much. In the second episode, a group of characters casually assume they can summon an alien back to Earth with a magical chant they made up on the spot... and it works (well, it summons the wrong alien, but that's nitpicking).

    Comic Books 
  • Pip the Troll's race from Adam Warlock resemble satyrs both in appearance and behavior, though it's apparently a coincidence and they have no connection to Earth.
    • Marvel Comics' giant Chinese dragon Fin Fang Foom is actually an alien from the planet Maklua who just happens to look like a dragon, although the Marvel Universe also has dragons that are the genuine article.
    • One creature in the Collector's menagerie is Snake Eyes, a cobra-like sea serpent described as a Xanthian Boulder Crusher. It got loose in Earth's ocean and ended up fighting Spider-Man and Alpha Flight before finally getting captured and returned to the Collector by the kids from Power Pack (with some help from Marrina.)
  • Some versions of Mister Mxyzptlk from DC Comics have him and his kind as inspiration for fairies and elves.
    • The Pre-Crisis version of Superman's enemy Terra-Man rode Nova, an alien animal resembling Pegasus.
    • Animal Man (2011) claimed that the aliens who gave the titular character his powers were actually mystical beings native to Earth who arrived in an illusionary spaceship because they figured that was something Buddy could more readily accept.
  • There was a Green Lantern comic that said Leprechauns were descended from members of the Guardians of The Universe that settled on Earth.
  • One of Hunt Emerson's "Phenomenomix" comic strips in Fortean Times dealt with a bunch of fairies leaving their mound to terrorise a lone traveller. A young rebellious fairy spent the strip moaning about how dull and routine the procedure had become, before in the final panel sneaking off to a secluded dungeon to work on his "fairy chariot"... a stereotypical Flying Saucer.
  • Although, properly speaking, ElfQuest's "World of Two Moons" is not actually prehistoric Earth, it's easy to overlook that fact. And it's certainly a huge revelation at the end of the original big story arc when we learn the Elves, Trolls, and Preservers are all originally from outer space. And time travelers, to boot.
  • Early Vampirella comics had vampires as aliens from the planet Drakulon. This was later retconned to be false memories Vampirella was given before Drakulon was eventually brought back as a region of Hell instead of a planet.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): Nymphs of Greek myth, and their ruler Artemis, turn out to actually be Lunarians.

    Film 
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    Literature 
  • Kim Newman's "Angel Down, Sussex" deals with an extra-dimensional incursion in rural Britain in the 1920s, at precisely the point at which human perception of such entities is beginning to shift from traditional occult/faerie mythology to twentieth-century UFO mythology. It's left ambiguous as to what the alien visitor really is and where it's really from, as the guises it adopts to suit human superstitions impede the protagonists' investigation.
  • Artemis Fowl:
    • Demons are descended from micro-organisms that once lived on the moon, and arrived on earth during the Triassic period. As a result of the moon being hit by a meteor, a chunk of the moon broke off and plummeted to earth, bringing the organisms that would eventually evolve into demons to earth, and creating the island of Hybras where they have lived ever since.
    • Other fairy creatures (elves, goblins, gnomes, etc.) are not explicitly stated to be extraterrestrials, but they too have a strong sci-fi vibe.
  • Isaac Asimov:
    • "Everest": Rumors about yeti on the titular mountain turn out to be due to a Martian outpost established in the place where the aliens feel most comfortable.
    • "Kid Stuff": Accourding to the elf, elves evolved before even the dinosaurs, but they remain very alien in their body shapes (insectoid) and abilities.
  • Discworld;
    • In The Colour of Magic, a river troll has landed on the Disc after falling through space for years after falling off another Discworld.
    • In Lords and Ladies, elves are extra-dimensional beings, and include several aspects of UFO mythology, such as crop circles heralding their presence, and their un-glamoured appearance resembling the description of The Greys.
  • In Clifford Simak's The Goblin Reservation, various legendary creatures (goblins, trolls, banshees) turn out to have come to Earth from another planet thousands of years ago.
  • In InCryptid, several cryptid species, most notably the Johrlac, come from other dimensions. The Johrlac, a telepathic species also called "cuckoos" for their habit of leaving their babies with human families who raise them, have some similarity to Changeling Tales.
  • In works by H. P. Lovecraft, the Great Old Ones are supernatural creatures akin to pagan gods (for instance, Shub-Niggurath aka the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young is obviously related to the god Pan) who are actually of extraterrestrial origin.
    • In particular, "The Whisperer in Darkness" features an extra-dimensional alien race who are said to have inspired creature legends in the parts of the world where they have visited (including the legends of the yeti or mi-go in the Himalayas, which is why Cthulhu Mythos fans tend to refer to them as the Mi-Go in the absence of Lovecraft giving their actual name).
  • In A Lord from Planet Earth, Palians are humanoids with elongated fangs who feed on blood and are vulnerable to yellow-spectrum stars. They've been coming to Earth for centuries in order to feed on humans, resulting in myths about vampires.
  • Subverted in Martians Go Home by Fredric Brown. The protagonist tells a Martian his kind must account for all the superstitions about elves as such, only for the Martian to say human stupidity is what accounts for it.
  • Terry Pratchett's Nomes Trilogy is about the titular Nomes who realize they came from another planet and go on a quest to get back there.
  • A Discussed Trope in Starsnatcher where the opening scene revolves around a UFO sighting. Steve believes it must be aliens while Lucas expresses skepticism. He cites the many similarities between folkloric faeries and modern-day alien abduction tales as evidence that the latter must be myths.
  • David Brin's "Those Eyes": This story is about the activities of a group of alien beings whose origins are not made explicit, but who are responsible for both fairy legends and UFO sightings, and are struggling to keep their power in a world increasingly full of people who believe in neither.
  • The Aen Elle in The Witcher are elves from a parallel dimension. They have a terrifying reputation, some neat magic tricks (those involving teleportation and portal travel in particular) and a culture steeped in Blue-and-Orange Morality, and while they love to paint themselves as an implacable force of nature, they are physically indistinguishable from "ordinary" elves and quite mundane once you get behind the facade.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest For Truth portrays sasquatches as a race of Genius Bruiser aliens.
  • We could be here all day listing the mythical creatures that Doctor Who has revealed to be aliens. Vampires, yeti, the Loch Ness Monster, the Egyptian gods, the Greek god Chronos, and on and on. And that's not counting creatures like the Minotaur-like Nimon or the Mummy On the Orient Express who just look like legendary Earth monsters completely by coincidence.
  • Quatermass and the Pit deals with ancient aliens who not only gave the human race intelligence, but who are the inspiration for supernatural beings, most notably horned demons.
  • The Six Million Dollar Man famously claimed Bigfoot is an artificial cyborg controlled by aliens.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series claims that the Greek gods were actually space travelers.
  • In the Supernatural episode "Clap Your Hands if You Believe...", the town of Elwood has a large Ufologist community and a high rate of paranormal incidents. When the Winchesters investigate reports of Alien Abductions, Crop Circles, and lights in the sky, they find fairies instead. Ironically, the local woman who had already identified them as The Fair Folk is seen as a kook by the other Conspiracy Theorists.
  • Twin Peaks is seemingly inspired by works of Keel and Vallee: the Black Lodge inhabitants have electromagnetic properties, and they were researched by the Project Blue Book; besides, in an abandoned version of Season 3 script, BOB and MIKE were intended to be aliens who came from a planet made of creamed corn.

    Light Novels 
  • In Goblin Slayer, it's revealed that The Goblins actually come from the Moon.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Changeling: The Lost makes a point of mentioning this trope, with The Greys listed as one of the many forms The Fair Folk can take. That said, the game also mentions that honest-to-goodness extraterrestrial Greys may also exist. (And, if you use the rest of the New World of Darkness in your Changeling game, they officially do.)
  • In d20 Future, a couple of the alien species are supposed to have been the inspiration for various mythical beings. A good example is the werren, vaguely Ursine Aliens who are the basis of Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti.
  • GURPS:
  • Inverted in Pathfinder, where some of the habits of malign aliens - abductions, cattle mutilations, etc. — are instead attributed to more fey-aligned derros. There are plenty of aliens as well, and this setting's elves are originally from Castrovel, a nearby planet loosely based on a Planetary Romance version of Venus.
  • Some of the older (likely no longer canon) Warhammer fluff suggests that the Orcs and Goblins were accidentally brought to the planet as spores that hitched a ride on the Old Ones' spaceships.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Many planets across the Imperium are actually quite peaceful, and some so isolated the Imperium itself is barely more than a background presence in the capital city. As a result, aliens can end up conflated with/originating local legends (especially the Necrons, due to occupying planets since before humans evolved).
    • The Dark Eldar often conduct raids on planets to take slaves, making them the equivalent of The Wild Hunt.

    Video Games 
  • The big reveal of the pre-Ubisoft Might and Magic games was that the setting was in fact a colossal Generation Ship, and of course that many creatures were such as the "demons" were actually aliens.
  • In Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent, the mysterious gnome-like creatures known as the Hidden People turn out to be some lunar spirits.
  • In Tony Tough and the Night of Roasted Moths, a pumpkin-headed villain known as Jack O'Lantern steals candy from children every Halloween; the protagonist believes him to be an alien who plans to conquer the Earth. Ultimately subverted; he's neither a supernatural creature nor an alien, but the protagonist's bully neighbor who got a pumpkin stuck on his head.
  • In Sam & Max Hit the Road, the Molemen from America's urban lore are revealed to be extraterrestrials.
  • In the Star Control series, the Arilou are said to have inspired both the old legends of The Fair Folk and the newer legends of The Greys.
  • Torin's Passage combines fantasy and sci-fi elements, since it is set in a magical world located on another planet called Strata. While the characters and landscapes of the Lands Above (the upper world of Strata) look like they came out of a Medieval fantasy novel, some of the creatures from the lower worlds have a definite sci-fi vibe. In particular, this concerns the inhabitants of the Tenebrous (the lowest world near the core of Strata) who are either humanoids very reminiscent of The Greys or bizarre creatures like giant centipedes.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10: Several different creatures attributed to myths and legends, including a lake monster, a werewolf, mummies, and even the Chupacabra, are all aliens. The werewolf and mummy are notable for hailing from a solar system populated by sentient species that resemble popular Earth movie monsters like zombies, vampires, ghosts and Frankenstein's monster.
  • Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends: Turns out that vampires, werewolves, Banshees and Yeti are all aliens that have arrived to Earth many years ago and have moulded legends.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series claims that the Central American god Kukulkan was actually an alien resembling a giant snake with wings.
  • Steven Universe: The Crystal Gems at first appeared to be the only survivors of some magical crystal-based humanoid race tasked with defending humanity from monsters also made from gems. Then the first Mid-Season Twist reveals the Crystal Gems are a faction of an alien species, the monsters they fight are corrupted members of the same race, and there's an intergalactic empire of them living outside Earth.
    It is, however, ambiguous if any characters ever believed Gems were magical beings from Earth. Most humans are Fantastically Indifferent to them in general, Steven called doesn't particularly react to this part of the revelation even though he'd previously been calling them "magic", and his father directly calls them "aliens" in a flashback to years earlier.

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