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"'When did life start on your world? —And let me say, that's a nice hat.' And then he or she would say, 'It's my helmet, it's my space helmet, because your atmosphere is just—it's no good for me,' and so on. I'd want to know where they came from. I'd want to know what they wanted; what were they doing asking me what I was doing? It would be great to know, though, we're not alone. That would be a heck of a thing. It would change the world."

Since man has known what sort of sphere we live on, we have looked at the stars and wondered: are we alone? In this vast, empty Universe, are there any other intelligences gazing up at our star from under an alien moon?

A common theme in Speculative Fiction, science fiction writers have loved to speculate for decades what that pivotal moment will be like: the day we first make contact with an extra-terrestrial intelligence. Writers have invented everything from truly Starfish Aliens to Rubber-Forehead Aliens and every scenario from aggressive aliens or humans to peaceful coexistence, and everything in-between.

The name for the trope and the term itself comes from the 1945 Murray Leinster novelette First Contact. This is not the same as first contact, lowercase, which describes any first contact between two cultures.


Expect someone to make a statement or speech about what a pivotal moment this is for the human race. You may find religious fanatics who claim the aliens are devils, angels, or even gods. Unless the aliens are Sufficiently Advanced or it is Handwaved, there may be communication difficulties and misunderstandings, sometimes leading to outright warnote . Scientists will want to study the aliens, ofttimes without the aliens' consent. The aliens will usually be more technologically advanced, although not always more sociologically advanced. A specific group of specialists may be formed to create a First Contact Team in order to plan for every contingency.

If taking place in America, it may turn out that First Contact actually happened decades ago in Roswell, New Mexico, and that the government has been keeping it under wraps ever since. When the aliens send an embassy right to the capital, there may be overlap with a Washington D.C. Invasion if the negotiations disappoint.


Speculation about First Contact scenarios has led many scientists and philosophers to consider that the human race may not be ready for such contact — they often argue that the multitude of armed conflicts and the pollution of our own world as reasons that an extra-terrestrial lifeform may pass Earth by, which Hollywood will pick up on when they feel their movie needs a message.

Compare Alien Among Us. Contrast with Absent Aliens. See also First Contact Math, The Xenophile (who will actively look foward to this), Boldly Coming (a.k.a. Thirty-Fourth Contact), Faeries Don't Believe in Humans, Either.

For the novelette, see "First Contact". For the film, see Star Trek: First Contact. For the webcomic, see First Contact.

Naturally, this is the step between The Masquerade and The Unmasqued World.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Macross universe, First Contact occurred during Super Dimension Fortress Macross between the humans and the Zentradi, which resulted in the near-total desolation of Earth and the annihilation of a large Zentradi fleet in its skies. The main conflict (but not all the bitterness) ends when the two sides manage to communicate and realize that they're not so different after all. Oh, and with the songs of an idol singer. Can't forget about that.
    • It is worth noting that the fleet destroyed during the original series was not the main fleet of the Zentradi. There is no such thing, really. It was actually just one of thousands (and increasing) of fleets, each with 4 ~ 5 million ships that are still patrolling the galaxy locked in an endless war with the Supervision Army, who themselves are just Zentradi brainwashed by the Protodeviln. The fact that utter annihilation could stumble upon them at any moment is the driving force behind the combined Human/"cultured" Zentradi settling of every possible planet they can find in later Macross series.
  • The Mobile Suit Gundam 00 movie, Awakening of the Trailblazer, deals with First Contact with an alien species called the ELS. The two species are so completely alien to one another that humanity mistakes their attempts at communication for hostile attacks. In fact, the entire point of Celestial Being in the series (at least before the villains hijacked it) was to prepare humanity for First Contact. The whole reason for the True Innovators was so that humanity would have a reliable way to communicate with alien life, no matter how different they were.

    Comic Books 
  • Happens in the Distant Finale in the final issue of Chew. The aliens that have been murdering every human who eats chicken come down and, surprise, they look like giant chicken people. Thanks to the cult that's been preaching the aliens are benevolent the crowd watching the UFO are passive until an elderly Tony Chu, still bitter over all the deaths, stabs the alien ambassador in the chest with a knife. End series.

    Fan Works 
  • In Worldwar: War of Equals, when The Race's fleet is spotted just outside the solar system, Humanity tries to go for a peaceful version of this with America and Europe using SETI's ATA and China using a system developed in Yantai Space City. The Race refuse to take the offer for peace.
  • This is the premise of Mass Effect: Clash of Civilizations, as the Council races encounter the humans of the UNSC.
  • Humans in Transcendent Humanity first discover carvings left behind by the Precursors, prompting them to unite, colonize the Solar system, and ramp up their scientific and industrial output. Eventually they make contact with other civilizations in the galaxy, and outclass them in almost every way.
  • In Harry Tano, this happens when Ahsoka Tano meets and subsequently adopts a young Harry Potter. It is later lampshaded by Margaret Thatcher when she realizes the Ministry of Magic botched up the official First Contact due to being paranoid prats.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, Episode 14 features the Stardroids, alien robots who do not come in peace.
  • The Next Frontier features a Perspective Flip of sorts, as the big moment unfolds largely from the perspective of a non-human species, namely the Kerbals.
  • Subverted in Discworld and The Big Bang Theory crossover The Many Worlds Interpretation. The Caltech nerds (and Penny) are the first to make contact with "aliens" - who turn out to be from the Discworld. One of the visiting aliens is young, red-haired and attractive enough for Howard Wolowitz to forgo the usual "take me to your leader..." stuff. His first words to the alien visitor are Are all the women on your planet as hot as you?. An "alien" visits. Howard makes a pass at her. And when the Caltech crew visit the Discworld, a specialised aspect of quantum theory allows them to take the Internet with them. An Unseen University faculty member, given a resource allowing him (at least in theory) to tap into the accumulated knowledge of an entire planet, immediately asks if you can get lots of pictures of, er, young ladies, in artistic poses with urns and lengths of gauze. Yes. The Senior Wrangler immediately latches onto Internet porn.
  • Equestria: Across the Multiverse:
    • The mane theme and idea of the story is interuniversal exploration and contact, so first contact with alternate universes is a frequent occurrence. Twilight has a detailed list of how they're supposed to do it, but never gets to actually do it. The My Little Pony Tales arc is the one that follows the mold most closely.
    • Eventually, the tech leap that Equestria Prime makes results in a race of aliens called the Celestial Ponies making an organized First Contact. They come in peace...except one of their supervillains, Black Star the Light Stealer, who also arrived and made First Contact with Queen Chrysalis.
  • Integration: This is one of the main plot lines. The human world is slowly gaining more magic stability and pretty soon it will be impossible to hide magic from the population outside of CHS, so the ponies in Gaia (pony world) and the humans in Terra (human world) work together to prepare for official contact and for the two worlds to become inter-dimensional allies. Sunset and Princess Twilight also have plans for when contact is made, Sunset planning to help the citizens of Terra adapt to the magic they will receive and Twilight hoping to bring technology from Terra over to Gaia.
  • In Wander over Foster's AU One-Shot, Wander lands on Earth and ends up stranded at Foster's. Most planets have inter-planetary travel but Earth is one of the few exceptions. No one even knows about alien species on Earth. Due to this, everyone assumes Wander is a standard Imaginary Friend and only Bloo realizes that he isn't.
  • The Victors Project uses this as the motif for District 1's first encounter with people from the Capitol. The Capitolians first come in flying ships and had "skin of black and brown and gold and blue and scarlet, with hair of every hue and jeweled tattoos." When the District 1 citizens respond violently, the Capitolians return in a more Alien Invasion style, with a full army.
  • In crossover fanfiction Point Me At The Skyrim, Victoria Dallon gets transported to the Skyrim world. Vicky briefly considers the various First Contact Protocols when it comes to interacting with alternate Earths, and how she would technically be breaking several laws by approaching the inhabitants without proper authority figures. The situation is dire enough that she doesn't care.
  • It happens in To Hell and Back (Arrowverse) shortly after Oliver Queen and Barry Allen end up stranded on Lian Yu. When a shockwave rocks the entire island, Ollie and Barry head towards the impact site and find two aliens stumbling out of a spaceship.
    The impact is heard throughout the island, a shockwave spanning out for miles. Edward Fyers immediately sends out a scouting team.
    Oliver and Barry get there first.
    Barry is frozen on the spot. Beside him, Oliver is not much better, pointing and shaking.
    A spaceship. An honest-to-god spaceship.
    They stare, and continue to stare, until the cockpit snaps open, and a blonde-haired girl spills out, with a baby in her arms. She stumbles a bit, before gaining purchase with the ground, and looks up at them.
    "Who are you?", she asks in a language that neither they, nor anyone else native to this planet, knows.
  • Daughter of Fire and Steel: In order to find Kal-El, who is masquerading as a human, General Zod has his starship enter the Earth's atmosphere, and then he begins his global broadcast with a "You are not alone" message to the Earth's people.

    Films — Animation 
  • An unintentional one in Planet 51, where the protagonist is an astronaut sent to a supposedly empty planet only to find that he landed in the middle of an alien neighborhood BBQ party. This is portrayed as a First Contact from the aliens' viewpoint, who immediately assume the astronaut is hostile. It turns out the reason why no-one on Earth knew about the aliens is because the robot sent to scout out the world prior to the manned mission is obsessed with rocks and didn't bother sending any images of aliens.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A major element of the B-plot in Star Trek: First Contact. It serves as the event that the crew of the Enterprise must prevent the Borg from sabotaging, since it was more or less what led to the creation of the United Federation of Planets. Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of Humanity's first warp drive gets cold feet when Riker and his fellow crew stranded on the surface tell him that it will happen because of him, but they eventually get him to come around, and the actual warp flight leaves him a man changed for the better, prepared to be how history remembers him in the event. For the record, Humanity's First Contact is with the Vulcans.
  • The movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial takes a very Disney approach to this theme.
  • Approached in a relatively similar vein to E.T. The Cat from Outer Space has humans make first contact with alien... cats.
  • In Alien, First Contact takes place between a crew of space truckers who are more interested in a percentage than diplomacy, and an H.R. Giger-designed horror from the beyond the stars that just wants to share a Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong with them. They get along about as well as you'd expectnote .
  • In Independence Day, the aliens never make a formal First Contact other than trying to Kill All Humans. The closest it comes to a dialogue is when a capture alien takes telepathic control of a half-dead scientist for a pleasant chat with the President. The President asks if peace is possible; the alien curtly answers "no peace." When the President asks what they would like us to do, the alien simply responds, "Die."
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The various close encounters throughout the film are building up to this (the eponymous CE3K being actual contact with extraterrestrial life). It happens at the climax of the film starting with the sequence where the scientists try to communicate with the UFOs (through music).
  • Mars Attacks!, the First Contact seemingly goes bad when the Martian ambassador mistakes a dove for an act of aggression and starts shooting up the American greeting party with his Death Ray. The alien expert tries for a more peaceful second contact and invites the ambassador to Congress, where he pulls out his Death Ray again and kills everyone. It turns out the Martians are just dicks.
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951): A flying saucer lands on the Mall in Washington DC. When the ominous humanoid alien comes out and approaches the military representatives that come to meet him with some sort of device in his hand the soldiers get spooked and shoot him. Turns out the device was not a weapon but held a formal message and the alien is just a Human Alien wearing a helmet.
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), where the alien craft is initially thought to be a world-ending meteorite before it slows down and lands in Central Park. The craft is surrounded by US military only for all electronic equipment to shut down, when the craft emits an EMP wave. A humanoid figure comes out, but one of the soldiers freaks out and shoots at it. A huge humanoid robot comes out to protect the alien, only for the wounded alien to stop it from attacking the humans. The alien is taken to a secret government facility, where the bullet is removed and the wound treated. To the doctors' surprise, the alien's internal structure is identical a human's. It turns out that the aliens specifically grew a body that would be able to survive on Earth. After awakening, the alien (named Klaatu) expresses his wish to speak with the UN, but the US Government has no intention of letting him leave the facility.
  • The film Transformers has a sort-of First Contact when the explorer Archibald Witwicky discovers a slumbering Megatron in the early 20th century. Though Megatron is kept insensate, humanity gets a technological jump start from what they learn of his workings. More commonly seen first contacts take place later, when the Decepticon Blackout and his little friend Skorponok flatten a US military base in the Middle East, and the Autobots track down Archibald's descendant, Sam, and ask for an artifact from his ancestor. They learned their command of English from the Internet. Despite battling with the Decepticons in public, the Autobots are presumably covered up by the government, and they remain on Earth, in disguise, watching and protecting and waiting for their fellows to join them.
  • District 9 handles this in a very interesting manner. Unusually for a mainstream film, it's the humans who oppress the aliens.
  • In the Soviet cult classic Moscow — Cassiopeia, humanity receives a signal from a faraway star. The Soviet government builds a nuclear-powered relativistic spacecraft and crews it with high school kids, realizing that they would be adults by the time the ship arrives. However, a stowaway sits on the engine controls and somehow accelerates the ship beyond the speed of light. Long story short, they arrive to their destination in the blink of an eye (for them, at least) and encounter an alien ship. The Captain gets into a transparent dome on the hull and tries to communicate with the Human Aliens with hand gestures. They appear to understand and reply in kind. Later, the teens use a Universal Translator they brought to teach the aliens Russian in a matter of seconds. They find out that the aliens they met are the last of their race due to a robot revolt some time ago. Only those who were in space at the time escaped. The rest were "enhanced" by the machines by having their emotions removed, thus stopping procreation (apparently, love is a prerequisite for sex). The humans offer to help the aliens retake their homeworld.
    • Meanwhile, the same guy who sat on the controls (who is also Wrong Genre Savvy about aliens) ends up being a part of the landing party on the alien planet. While exploring a strange white column, he finds himself face-to-face with a pair of strange-looking Human Aliens with antennae and black jumpsuits. He also uses a Universal Translator to translate their whistles into Russian. He further tries to use math to communicate, but gets the formula wrong. One of the aliens corrects him and tells him "It happens to everyone." It's later revealed that these are actually Ridiculously Human Robots.
  • Thor and The Avengers (2012) for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since the Asgardians are revealed to be Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. The former is a rather low-key event which is covered up rather neatly by the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. The latter is a massive city-scale invasion that lets the entire world know they are not alone.
    • Captain Marvel (2019), which is a prequel to Thor and The Avengers, reveals that first contact with an alien civilization by modern-day humanity was actually with the warring Kree and the Skrulls in the 1990s. Like with the Asgardians, however, this incident was largely unnoticed and covered up, as only a few S.H.I.E.L.D. agents bore witness to the details.
  • Oblivion : What the "Odyssey" mission was meant to be (meeting an unexplained space object near Titan). To say that it Went Horribly Wrong is a massive understatement.
  • Man of Steel greatly deconstructs not only the concept of a superhero appearing for the first time, but humanity finding out that they're not alone and not even close to a match for their competition.
  • In Prometheus the main characters' goal is to make first contact with the Engineers that created humanity. After waking the last surviving one up, he immediately attacks them and tries to wipe out humanity with the Engineers' bioweapon.
  • In Pixels, humans attempt to make first contact with aliens. It goes catastrophically wrong when the aliens misinterpret the message of peace as a declaration of war.
  • Arrival: around a dozen alien spaceships touch down on various places around Earth and then just... sit there. The story mainly revolves around humanity's attempts to work out some way to communicate with the aliens aboard the ships, and find out why exactly they've come to Earth.
  • Ultraman Cosmos: The First Contact is set in an alternate universe where humans have not met any aliens or Ultramen before, until the events of the movie had extraterrestrial life revealing themselves to humans for the first time in-universe. The title is pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin.

  • In Angel Station, human protagonists make a First Contact with a race of Living Ships and promptly start to trade with them.
  • Mikhail Akhmanov's Arrivals from the Dark: Invasion describes first contact with the Bino Faata, whose starship has arrived to the Solar System in search of new races to conquer and integrate into the Faata hierarchy. The novel's title and The Teaser (before cutting back to how it started) are clear examples of the bad kind of first contact. Humanity barely survives the assault with tens of millions of dead all over the world. On the bright side, the Faata starship remains mostly intact. From it, humans reverse-engineer the contour drive, Deflector Shields, and Anti Matter weapons. The second novel takes place 37 years later and involves a newly-created battlegroup taking the fight back to the Faata. Also, in-between the novels, a proper First Contact takes place with the peaceful Lo'ona Aeo, who wish to trade with humans.
    • The Faata do attempt at faking the good kind of First Contact by disengaging their stealth systems at the approach of a human flotilla and offering various technological boons, including longevity treatments, cures for all known diseases, FTL technology, Artificial Gravity, etc. Naturally, this huge list of boons only serves to make the admiral, who's tasked by the UN Security Council to negotiate with them and keep them away from Earth, suspicious of their motives. The alien representative then points out that they know from intercepting transmissions that Earth is not unified and threatens to accept one of the non-Western nations' offer of landing. After a few days of not getting anywhere, the Faata decide to drop the charade and just wipe out the flotilla.
  • Blindsight by Peter Watts invokes this. The ship Theseus Earth sends out is manned because they have reason to suspect that the event know as Firefall was initiated by aliens, who...for some reason took a picture of all of Earth. It's then subverted when what the crew of the Theseus finds isn't quite the intelligent life forms they expected to find and brought a linguist to communicate with, though. The alien scramblers which inhabit the Rorschach turn out to be hyperintelligent but not conscious or self-aware, and can only parse human languages as space-wasting cognitive viruses designed to hurt them. As the narrator puts it:
    "How do you say 'We come in peace' when the words themselves are an act of war?"
  • Timothy Zahn's The Conquerors Trilogy kicks off when an already interstellar humanity makes first contact with a new alien race, who respond to the standard "we come in peace" greeting by opening fire, wiping out the entire expeditionary force and finally Blasting the Escape Pods, leading them to be known as the "Conquerors Without Reason". Yet during their interrogations of the sole survivor of this task force, the Conquerors insist that it was the humans who shot first, and the books revolve around reconciling these conflicting reports of what happened during their disastrous first meeting.
  • The core of Constellation Games is the tale of what happens when modern day Earth encounters a vastly superior alien civilization, and whether everything will go horribly wrong or not. The key difference from most such tales is that the main character isn't an ambassador, or a badass; he just wants to play their video games.
  • The novel Contact by Carl Sagan deals with first contact in a relatively "hard" manner. Aliens in a system twenty-six light years distant send a radio signal to Earth - a long sequence of prime numbers. It's a palimpsest, and under it is a second message that turns out to be an audio/video signal, a repeat of the first few minutes of the first television signal broadcast strongly enough to traverse out to Vega - which, unfortunately, turns out to be Adolf Hitler's Olympic commencement broadcast. This, too, is a palimpsest, and under that is the blueprints to a machine. Even this is a palimpsest, for there's a primer buried in there telling Earth how to build it.
  • Ivan Yefremov's novella Cor Serpentis is essentially a one big Take That! at Leinster's spin on the theme. Both Yefremov and his characters take it as extremely distasteful and, believing that no spacefaring civilization might be hostile, meet the aliens with open hands, in one of the most touching description of contact ever written.
  • Iain M. Banks's The Culture: The Contact section of the Culture, described as the "good works" agency of that society, apart from Contact's "Special Circumstances" division, who interfere in other civilisations if it looks like they'll be trouble to the Culture. A kind of Reverse Alien Non-Interference Clause.
    • An interesting variation on First Contact occurs in The Algebraist, another of Iain M. Banks's sci-fi novels. It is mentioned that humanity - (perhaps just human genetic material) - was transplanted from Earth to a number of nearby worlds in 4051 BC. These humans were raised in an interstellar culture while Earth itself was declared off-limits. Result; by the time Earth discovered interstellar travel, Human Aliens, or aHumans outnumbered the remaining humans or rHumans by an order of magnitude. First Contact was less We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill than What Kept You? As a method of preventing every First Contact boondoggle ever theorized, it worked. It also annihilated all terrestrial human culture.
      Encyclopedia Exposita: Prepping. A very long-established practice, used lately by the Culmina amongst others, is to take a few examples of a pre-civilised species from their home world (usually in clonoclastic or embryonic form) and make them subject species/slaves/mercenaries/mentored. So that when the people from their home world finally assume the Galactic stage, they are not the most civilised/advanced of their kind (often they're not even the most numerous grouping of their kind). Species so treated are expected to feel an obligation to their so-called mentors (who will also generally claim to have diverted comets or otherwise prevented catastrophes in the interim, whether they have or not). This practice has been banned in the past when pan-Galactic laws (see Galactic Council) have been upheld but tends to reappear in less civilised times. Practice variously referred to as Prepping, Lifting or Aggressive Mentoring. Local-relevant terminology: aHuman & rHuman (advanced and remainder Human).
  • In Vladimir Vasiliev's Death or Glory, humanity's first contact with The Alliance takes place after the discovery of FTL travel. A Svaigh ship lands in the middle of a British city and incinerates a Special Forces team sent to it. They demand a few tons of beryllium and take off. This repeats a few times, but, for the most part, they leave humans alone. Could've been worse, as at least some of The Alliance races are known to have conquered younger races and kept them as slaves. This becomes a major plot point in the later books of the series.
  • The first contact that accidentally happens in McCaffrey's Decision at Doona isn't technically mankind's first first contact, but the fact that that first-ever alien culture encountered committed mass suicide in response drives much of the novel's plot by informing the human policies established afterwards to prevent anything like that from ever happening again. One of these is "non-coinhabitation"; humans aren't allowed to live on the same planets as intelligent alien lifeforms, period. Which creates a problem when the first human settlers on the new colony world of Doona run smack into just such an intelligent alien lifeform that the initial surveyors somehow managed to miss... Because the "natives" are actually new colonists from another planet, who find themselves in the same boat!
  • In the Doom novels, humanity's First Contact with the aliens on the other end of Mars' teleportation network was an Imp throwing a flaming ball of snot into the crowd. It went downhill from there.
  • In Earth Girl, planets are settled with a human-deployed Portal Network. Planet First military forces first make sure no sentient aliens live there, then commence settling. So far they have found none, only neo-intelligent species on two planets they subsequently put under quarantine. In the sequel Earth Star, a mysterious unmanned, but armed alien probe travels to earth orbit and is an ambiguous threat through the book, causing evacuations of the Earth population when it does not answer any communication.
  • In Eden the protagonists are ship-wrecked on the titular planet and, after many attempts, manage to meet two of its inhabitants. There's some First Contact Maths involved, but while science is universal, the aliens are otherwise rather alien and no civilisation-level contact occurs.
  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, although in this case the contact occurred in the backstory when the insectoid aliens (colloquially termed "Buggers") sent an invasion fleet to Earth's solar system. The only interactions anyone has with them in the first novel are violent. In the epilogue and subsequent novels, it's up to Ender to make a true First Contact by being the first of his species to successfully communicate with a Hive Queen.
    • The prequel comic Formic Wars (and the Formic Wars novels expanding on the comic) describe the arrival of the Formics (nobody uses the term "Bugger" now) into the Solar System and the devastating First Invasion. 44 million Chinese are killed, and a large chunk of China is covered by a deadly acidic gas. And that was just a single mothership that was barely defeated. The final shot of the comic shows a whole fleet of these on the way, with the humans creating the Hegemony and the International Fleet to prepare for the second arrival, using the mothership to reverse-engineer Formic tech.
  • Poul Anderson's novelette The Enemy Stars deals with an accidental First Contact between a human and the aliens that save his life, and the sequel The Ways of Love deals with how humans handle the first alien beings on Earth (not well, in some cases).
    • In his novelette The High Crusade first contact occurs during the crusades, when the aliens send an armed scouting force to Earth and try to intimidate the locals. The medieval English turn the tables on their invaders and capture their ship. When they try to use the ship to go to the crusades they end up in space instead, and begin a crusade against the alien's galactic empire.
  • Fiasco by Stanisław Lem is about an expedition to contact an alien civilisation - which proves way too alien, not to mention completely uninterested. As to how it ends - the hint is in the title.
  • First Contact by Murray Leinster is, unsurprisingly, about exactly this. Interesting because it takes place a long way from home for either species and both of them are worried that the other might be powerful and warlike, so neither wants to give away any information about the location of their home planet... which also means they're both stuck there, since they can't be sure the other ship can't fly faster or track better than theirs can.
  • Halfway Human: The Capellan legal system requires first contact to be done carefully, because intellectual property is considered the universe's most valuable commodity. First Contact Team scientists work for infocompanies that monetize their research.
  • Halo: Contact Harvest details the UNSC's first contact with the Covenant from the perspective of both human and alien characters. When the Covenant's Hierarchs discover from a Forerunner AI that Humans Are Special and not them, they decide to wipe humanity out in order to preserve their religion (and thus their power). That said, the shooting only begins in earnest after one nervous and Trigger Happy Grunt attacks a human during a negotiation.
  • Several Harry Harrison novels deal with first encounters with aliens:
    • In Plague from Space, a ship sent to explore Jupiter returns, releasing a deadly disease that rapidly mutates and kills people. Eventually, a special forces group makes its way aboard the ship and watches the videologs, which reveal that the solid core of Jupiter is inhabited by a Hive Mind race whose hat is Organic Technology. The crew of the ship learned to communicate with the Jovians, but the Jovians eventually moved on to dissections. The remaining crewmember was sent back along with a Jovian passenger, infected with a disease engineered for humans. It turns out that the whole plague thing is nothing more than an attempt by the Jovian Hive Mind to study humanity, whom it perceives as also likely a Hive Mind. After the end of the "experiment", the Jovian passenger transmits the results to Jupiter, gives the humans the cure, and dies.
    • In Invasion: Earth, a spaceship crash-lands in New York's Central Park. Since the book was written during the Cold War, the Soviets send a representative (a female linguist) to join the First Contact Team that enters the craft, mostly composed of American soldiers. Inside, they are attacked by a Wookie-like creature, which they riddle with bullets. They find a chained-up white-skinned Human Alien who speaks English and Russian from aliens intercepting the most common radio-broadcasts. The alien explains that Earth has been targeted for invasion by their bitter rivals Blettr (the hairy aliens). The Oinn, the alien's people, offer to help by setting up a base in the Antarctic to defend Earth using their advanced weaponry. The Blettr fleet arrives, and the Oinn battle them. They manage to fight off the first wave, but several human cities are wiped out by Orbital Bombardment. The authorities begin to doubt the truth when the Oinn refuse to let humans anywhere near their base and forbid them from attempting to communicate with the Blettr. In the end, it's revealed that the Blettr and the Oinn are Planet Looters who are working together to get as much radioactive material from Earth as possible before moving on, looking for their lost homeworlds. The humans manage to fight them off and bluff them into leaving the system, while keeping a small ship to reverse-engineer.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy parodies this, of course. Humanity's ostensible First Contact with Galactic civilization is with the Vogons, who are here not for chitchat but to destroy Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass. It's subsequently subverted in at least four separate ways, which ought to be It Was His Sled by now:
    • Earth's been visited by aliens for ages, we just never realized it.
    • The Earth is actually a giant supercomputer built to calculate the Question to the Ultimate Answer of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
    • Humans are themselves Ancient Astronauts and not the originally planned sapient inhabitants of the planet.
    • Due to a temporal anomaly, Earth had a First Contact event prior to the Vogon demolition of Earth: an alien war fleet attacked Earth but due to a miscalculation Earth - or at least Humans - never noticed as the warfleet was swallowed by a dog.
  • In the backstory of Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth universe, humans and Thranx both have first contact with the violently xenophobic AAnn shortly before coming into contact with each other, taking what might otherwise have become a violent war and turning it into an Enemy Mine situation that evolves into the two species becoming close allies.
  • In The Killing Star, first contact with the aliens consists of them slamming relativistic missiles into the Earth, nearly wiping out humanity.
  • In the short novel The Librarian (2015) the protagonist alien accidentally falls prisoner to the military. He explains he was not intending to make First Contact per se, but since they already know he's not human, he better explain the rules of how this is usually done.
  • The Listeners by James E. Gunn is about a very slow first contact made via slower-than-light radio. The story covers the lives of several men, years apart, who are involved in the very slow process.
  • The prequel novel to Mass Effect, Mass Effect: Revelation deals with the start of the First Contact War mentioned below in its prologue. Interestingly, even this novel doesn't really describe the first contact or the subsequent conflict. Anderson is merely told by his superior about the attack on human ships and the retaliation on the turians. Of course, the existence of aliens isn't really news, since the exploration of the Prothean ruins on Mars is what allows humans to develop FTL travel.
  • Jack McDevitt:
    • Infinity Beach begins on a human colony world making a final attempt to communicate with any possible life Out There, but the conclusion appears to be that mankind is alone. Unknown to all concerned there had been a First Contact some years before but it was bungled, with all the aliens and several humans killed; ashamed of their error the survivors covered things up. When the protagonist discovers this the government decides the best thing is for humanity to lay low, for if the aliens weren't hostile before, they undoubtedly will be now! Against orders, a group of scientists decide to risk another Contact. Fortunately the aliens accept their explanation that it was all a mistake, and peaceful relations are established.
    • In Omega (part of the Priscilla Hutchins series), an intelligent species is discovered directly in the path of an interstellar catastrophe. The species has begun to develop technology, but is still at a pre-spaceflight stage of development. Researchers determine that the technology they have may be enough to save most of their population if they can be persuaded to apply it properly, but the Alien Non-Interference Clause makes the first-contact team's job difficult. Disaster is approaching rapidly, and the team needs to learn as much as they can about the language and culture of the Goompahs, starting from zero. But how do you persuade some alien creatures to cooperate in saving their species if you can't even reveal your own existence?
    • The Hercules Text, published almost simultaneously with Carl Sagan's Contact, has a very similar premise: signals are received by Earth via a radio telescope which contain mathematical information that turn out to be the key to a later transmission containing a great deal of scientific information. The effect of all this on the peoples of Earth is dramatic.
  • Mindscape: The Barrier that appears is actually an alien life-form. Both the Vermittlers and the Ghost Dancers communicate with it by singing.
  • The Mote in God's Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Inverted in that humans have the star-spanning empire, while the aliens are trapped on one single world.
  • In the Kir Bulychev novel The Mystery of Urulgan, first contact occurs when a small band of adventurers finds a spaceship that crashed in Siberia. The alien assumes the humans will be civilized, and shows them his technology, but all that ensues is conflict between the adventurers and attacks on the alien, who finally escapes.
  • Raymond Z. Gallun's "Old Faithful" (1934) is one of the earliest science-fiction novels to deal in detail with the difficulties of making long-range signal contact with ''very'' alien aliens. The in-story solution, which begins with basic mathematics, is the method which was also chosen by most SETI scientists from the 1950's on.
  • In one of the short stories in the companion volume to Penn & Teller's Cruel Tricks For Dear Friends, humanity is set to be eradicated by an alien empire whose hat is destroying redundancy. It seems that everything that (we naively believe) makes humans unique is actually duplicated somewhere else in the galaxy, and the aliens see no sense wasting a prime habitable planet on such a bog-standard redundant species. The main character saves the human race with a magic trick, implying that deceiving one another by sleight-of-hand for amusement is the one uniquely human art form.
  • Seen from a nonhuman perspective in one of the infodump chapters of The Romulan Way. The Vulcans' first contact was disastrous, as it took place with the predecessors of the Orion Pirates. The Vulcans fought them off but the aftereffects were one of the triggers for the Sundering between the Vulcans and the Rihannsu (everyone else calls them Romulans). A couple thousand years later the Rihannsu, not warp-capable but who had shipbuilding capacity to support trade between ch'Rihan and ch'Havran detected a ship in orbit and linked it in their minds to the pirates of millennia earlier, and reacted accordingly. Unfortunately for all involved, the ship belonged to the Federation.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's The Stars Are Cold Toys, First Contact happened during the first extrasolar jump, which coincidentally put the space shuttle near a Conclave ship. One of the crewmembers is interrogated by the aliens, and she reveals the location of Earth. She is later tried for treason but acquitted, as the defense claimed the aliens Mind Raped her. Thus humanity becomes just another cog in the ruthless Conclave regime. Slightly subverted due to humans being descendants of the colonists from the Shadow.
  • In Andre Norton's Storm Over Warlock, the human survivors manage to make contact with the hidden aliens of the world.
  • Cherry Wilder's Torin trilogy concerns the first contact between the Moruians of Torin and visitors from the alien planet Earth, told almost entirely from the viewpoint of the Moruians.
  • Anne McCaffrey's Tower and the Hive series depicts humanity's first encounters with two separate alien species - the first is an insectoid race trying to exterminate humans; the second is a compatibly sentient species impressed by our ability to defeat the first and trying to ally with us against them.
  • John Ringo's Troy Rising kicks off with aliens bringing a gate for a Portal Network near Earth.
  • Subverted with extreme prejudice in the Harry Turtledove story "The Road Not Taken," in which Earth has first contact in the form of an alien invasion.... by Aliens that are less advanced technologically than Humanity in every single aspect other than space travel. They literally attack with flintlocks and swords. It turns out that basically Anti-Gravity is ridiculously simple and most species discover it during roughly the Age of Sail. Although the ending of the story makes it appear that Humans are a Mary Sue, a sequel subverts the premise by having Humanity be the less advanced one.
  • Isaac Asimov
    • "Living Space": Alec Mishnoff is relieved when the people he encounters on Rimbro's home (one house to every dead planet earth) are actually humans from another timeline. He, alone in the story, has been fearing that Starfish Aliens will show up because in an infinity of universes, they will. He's horrified to be proven right at the end of the story.
    • "Victory Unintentional": The humans on Ganymede and the alien Jovians have been communicating via radio-waves. Remote contact had been going well, until the Jovians realized that the people they were talking to weren't Jovian. Angry at the unintentional deception, the Jovians declared war against the beings of Ganymede. The humans designed the ZZ robots (our Protagonists) to land on Jupiter to talk with the aliens directly, and establish if they're able to create spaceships.
    • "The Watery Place": The aliens chose to land in a remote town, notable for its lack of crime, and speak with the Sheriff. Unfortunately, first contact between humans and aliens goes badly because the Sheriff thinks the aliens are from Italy, and are just being annoying.
  • The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells takes the pessimistic view that our first aliens would be just like us. Or rather, just like the British Empire was in India; eager to set up a colony and not too fussed about the locals.
  • We Are Legion (We Are Bob): Bob is forced to reach out to the primitive inhabitants of Delta Eridani when more subtle means of encouraging them to move camps fail.
  • In the world of Wild Cards, aliens sent a mutagenic virus to our world, which arrived shortly after the end of World War II. Our first contact was with a rogue Takisian who tried and failed to stop an outbreak. He did stick around to clean up as best as he could, though.
  • Xandri Corelel follows the head of Xeno-Liaisons on the starship Carpathia, communicating with new species to bring them into the Starsystems Alliance.
  • The novelette "Peek! I See You!" by Poul Anderson (Analog, February 1968) has Earth as a waystation & supply depot for lots of alien races, but they only deal with Native American tribes. If any other Terrans found out about them, they'd be required to admit Earth into the Federation and spend zillions educating and assisting Earth's people. However, the aliens aren't counting on a stubborn Irish-Swedish pilot who just happens to have seen a Flying Saucer.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5 has a number of first contacts not going as well as they could:
    • Earth has at least one truly disastrous first contact in its back story: The first contact of humans and Minbari happened between two squadrons of warships. Recognizing the strangers as fellow warriors, the Minbari kept their stealth at minimum and opened all gunports as a weird gesture of friendship (the message being "this is all our weapons, we aren't hiding anything"), spooking the EarthForce squadron, and when the Minbari flagship did charge its weapons to deal with a pest that EarthForce scanners couldn't detect the humans opened fire... And killed the Minbari's political and religious leader, who, anticipating the chance of this happening, had ordered to close the gunports right as his ship's skipper charged the weapons. The Earth-Minbari War saw the decimation of Earth's military and came dangerously close to the extinction of humanity before the Minbari Grey Council declared surrender (why they did this is one of the main mysteries of the early part of the series).
    • Earth's first contact with aliens was made with the Centauri... Who, seeing that humans looked like them, promptly claimed Earth was a Lost Colony. When presented with proof they weren't, they claimed the ship that established first contact mistook the Sol System for a different solar system (as the Centauri used to control the space around Earth, it's less ridiculous than it sounds).
      • Earth got lucky in that they met the Centauri in their Second Republic, long after they abandoned their ancient expansionistic ways for the most part. Others met them in their First Republic and got invaded, with the Narn being invaded even if they met them around the same time as Earth due a combination of them being contacted by a different Centauri House, the Centauri needing the minerary resources, and the Narn being technologically much more primitive at the time.
    • The Narn first contact with aliens had happened when the Shadows built a base on their homeworld during their latest war with the Vorlon. The Narn fought back and managed to destroy their base... And lost all their telepaths in the Shadows' retaliation.
    • The Centauri's first contact happened in the age of the First Empire, when they were Actual Pacifists and reached the southern continent of their homeworld, finding it inhabitated by another sentient race, the primitive Xon. The Xon attacked for no apparent reason,note  destroying the Centauri's First Empire... And getting completely wiped out by the First Republic that replaced it.
    • The Centauri's first (official) contact with people from outer space happened late during their war against the Xon, when the southern continent had for the most part fallen under their control and a trio of Technomages (considered renegades by the others) visited the planet and helped the Centauri progress technologically from an early Renaissance level to early 20th century level. The second contact happened when the Shroggen, minions of the Shadows, tracked those three Technomages down to Centauri Prime and, realizing they intended to make a stand using the natives as their army, attacked without bothering to explain the situation. After the Shroggen were beaten back and the Technomages had left, the Centauri swore to reach space and form a mighty nation to protect the weak from those who would subjugate or kill them, the first step into becoming a conquering empire.
    • One episode deals with a probe that gives the people on the station a short amount of time to answer various complex mathematical and scientific questions before it blows up, as its creators believe only races that can answer them deserve to live. However, Sheridan figures out it's actually designed to kill anyone who can answer the questions, whom the aliens consider a possible threat.
  • Dark Skies also has the first contact between the Hive and the American government take place in secret. The President has a face-to-face meeting with an alien representative, who telepathically demands Earth's unconditional surrender. In response, the President creates the Majestic 12, whose job is to cover up the existence of aliens and fight their attempts to infiltrate humanity using any means necessary.
  • Features in the backstory of Defiance. It went... badly. The Votan arrived as desperate refugees, and relations between them and us were always strained, and then one of their ambassadors was assassinated on live TV. The resulting wars reduced the planet to mostly 19th century infrastructure levels (give or take some alien gizmos).
  • Doctor Who has a few examples:
    • There have been a few real, official first contact situations on the show. None ended well.
    • In "Aliens of London", the Slitheen hoaxed a "first contact" situation as part of a plan to destroy the planet.
  • Farscape:
    • Played with. In S01E07, "I, E.T.", Moya has to land on a backwater planet because of a beacon put on her that could alert the Peacekeepers, and removing the beacon is a surgical procedure that could kill her. John and the others go in search of an element that can serve as an anesthetic for the procedure and meets with some of the locals... who are flabbergasted at meeting an honest-to-goodness alien. Yes, a human is the first contact of another sentient species.
    • Also happens on Earth multiple times throughout the show, though the first few times it was All Just a Dream. Eventually it happens for real, though.
  • The Outer Limits (1995) did several episodes based on this trope.
    • One memorable episode, "Trial By Fire", starts with a new US President being inaugurated only to be whisked away into a bunker deep underground when objects are detected approaching Earth. There's plenty of misunderstanding, as the humans have no idea what the aliens are planning and cannot understand the language in the messages they send. Meanwhile, the President's efforts to maintain peace are theatened by Russia's gung-ho attitude to the aliens, eventually forcing the President's hand and causing them to launch nuclear weapons at the aliens, to no avail. The bitter irony is revealed at the end, just before Washington, D.C., and Moscow are obliterated in retaliation. The aliens were speaking English all along, but their message was distorted by their aquatic environment. It was a message of peace.
    • Another episode, "Relativity Theory", involves a human ship landing on an Earth-like world and encountering a group of seemingly primitive aliens. The scientists are keen to make contact and study the locals, while the military types want to wipe out the locals to make room for a future colony. It turns out the "primitive locals" were the equivalent of Boy Scouts on a camping trip and weren't even from that world. When they call for help, a powerful alien ship shows up, downloads the human ship's navigational charts, destroys the human ship, and heads straight for Earth to exact revenge.
  • Notably averted in Power Rangers, where hostile aliens attack on a weekly basis for six years (without any diplomatic contact of any kind!) before anyone friendly enough (and not focused on perpetuating The Masquerade) to speak to officials or the public at large shows up. By that point, everyone is fairly certain that there's life on other planets; it's the reason property values in Angel Grove have fallen so much recently.
  • Vaguely mentioned in an episode of Sliders, after they end up in a world with a more advanced level of technology. It turns out, due to World War II continuing for several more years in this world, a different US President got elected just in time for the Roswell incident. Instead of covering it up, this President decided to make the existence of aliens public knowledge. Shortly after that, the Reticulan-American Free Trade Agreement (RAFTA) is drafted, allowing a good amount of Imported Alien Phlebotinum to be ubiquitous by the end of the 20th century, as well as a manned mission to Mars. No aliens are actually present in the episode, but one of the locals is a human who has been accidentally turned into a Half-Human Hybrid with a gene therapy that cures most known diseases.
  • The real First Contact in the Stargate-verse (not counting Transplanted Humans abducted thousands of years ago, or the Precursors who happened to evolve here millions of years ago (sort of, maybe)) happened in 1994, when a top-secret Air Force team used an ancient alien artifact to travel to another world, where they found Transplanted Humans being ruled by a Puppeteer Parasite. More than 15 years, 300 episodes, three TV series and two made-for-TV movies later, despite the creation on Earth of half a dozen ships capable of interstellar travel and at least two battles in Earth's atmosphere or in orbit between humans and aliens, the existence of aliens is still apparently a secret from the general public. This trope has also been inverted several times, when we see First Contact from an alien (well, transplanted human) point of view. In general, the aliens' government covers it up just like ours if they are advanced enough to do so, but there have been several exceptions.
  • Most Star Trek episodes by default (particularly in Star Trek: Enterprise), but the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode deals specifically with the protocols (and problems) involved.
    • Ironically for a show revolving around specialists in alien diplomacy, the Enterprise-D was pretty bad at it. Their crewmen were captured, their surveillance apparatuses blown wide open, their technology pillaged. When the Federation is probed by a heretofore unknown race (and not the other way around), things typically go much smoother.
    • The self-titled Next Gen episode, "First Contact", depicts a First Contact gone awry. The species in question erases all evidence of their encounter with Picard's crew, believing that divulging the existence of aliens would cause panic and civil unrest. Even some warp-capable species want nothing to do with those weirdos.
    • "Who Watches the Watchers" had the opposite effect Starfleet intended, with Picard accidentally rekindling the Minatakans' belief in a wrathful god.
    • Sometimes when First Contact occurs between two alien species, the results have been less than happy. The Cardassian Union landed on Bajor and proceeded to herd everyone into ore mines. They later claimed they were a backward race and disputed that Bajor had achieved space flight first (they had).
    • In Enterprise's Mirror Universe episodes, the First Contact between humans and Vulcans at first played out exactly as in the film, but instead of welcoming the aliens with a handshake, the humans shot the aliens, stole the advanced technologies on board the alien ship and proceeded to build an interstellar Terran Empire.
  • The very beginning of V (both the original series and the remake). Alien ships appear over Earth, and the humanlike aliens promise that they have come in peace and want to establish relations with mankind. Their motives and nature turn out to be far more sinister.
  • In The X-Files, humans were contacted, abducted, and experimented upon for millions of years but the first contact between the alien Colonists and human authorities took place, as far as we know, in October 13, 1973, giving rise to the shadowy Government Conspiracy to hide the truth. It is also of note that the contact was made possible by extensive reverse-engineering of the alien craft recovered from the Roswell Incident.

  • Hot Chocolate's "No Doubt About It".
  • "Ancient Aliens" by Lemon Demon is about a caveman struggling to comprehend the existence of an alien being who is implied to be the sole survivor of a spaceship crash.
    I'm not like you
    You fly, you burn my eyes, my eyes
    You speak in my mind
    Your kind all died when you arrived

    Music Videos 
  • The music video to Moby's "In This World" has a few representatives from a civilzation of aliens the size of jawbreakers fly to Earth and attempt to greet humanity, using signs of basic human greetings like "Hello" and "Hola" in lieu of speech (most likely they only knew how to write human language, not speak it). Unfortunately, their tiny size compared to humans makes them nearly impossible to notice, with the exception of one man who gives them a wave...then walks away shortly afterwards. The aliens then return to their home, last seen preparing a bigger sign to carry.

  • In sketch show Son of Cliché, this was a running gag in the in-show serial Dave Hollins - Space Cadet! Whenever Dave tries to speak to alien life forms who are just as bemused with him, misunderstandings inevitably proliferate.
  • Journey into Space: In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, the Luna crew makes first contact with the Time Travellers on The Moon in November 1965.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Blobs in Star Realms were the first intelligent aliens humanity made contact with. It doesn't go so well at first.
  • Traveller has many:
    • First contact for humans from Earth revealed that most of the galaxy near Earth was already occupied by an ancient Human Alien empire that had simply considered anyone outside their borders insignificant. The news that space was already colonized - by other humans - did not go over well on Earth, and the Interstellar Wars were the result.
    • First contact for the herbivorous K'Kree occurred when they invented telescopes and found that their moon was inhabited by intelligent carnivores. They quickly invented space travel and began a war of extermination, which they've tried to carry on against any meat eaters anywhere in the galaxy they can reach since.
    • The official story of first contact for the Aslan is that it happened when their first few ships encountered human traders not far from their homeworld. In reality, the Aslan were on the verge of a nuclear war when a human spacecraft crashed on their world. The land-obsessed Aslan quickly resolved their differences, reverse-engineered the human's FTL drive, and began their expansion into the galaxy while keeping their pre-spaceflight tribal culture intact. And they kept the whole affair a secret, claiming they had resolved their differences and invented the jump drive all on their own.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, humans have been interacting with (i.e. fighting) the likes of Eldar and Orks for so long that there is no account of the first contact between the species. In the case of more recent alien encounters:
    • The Tyranids are named after the first Imperial world they devoured, Tyran, in 741 M41. Subsequent studies have revealed that the Genestealers the Imperium had been dealing with for millennia were in fact a Tyranid vanguard organism, and some odder life-forms in the Imperium like the Catachan Devil and Kraken of Fenris are suspected of being descended from Hive Fleets that entered the galaxy in the distant past, but the "Tyranid" name has stuck.
    • The first open contact between humans and Necrons occurred at the Adepta Sororitas convent-world of Sanctuary 101 in 897 M41, when the battle-sisters were slain to the last defending against an unidentified attacker.
    • The Tau were actually first encountered in 789 M35, when an Explorator Fleet reached their homeworld and briefly studied the humanoids there, who had only recently mastered fire and simple tools. But the fleet subsequently sent to cleanse and colonize the system was lost in a Warp storm, and internal conflicts made the Imperium lose interest in one world on the Eastern Fringe. Six thousand years later, an unknown alien ship was destroyed while approaching the Imperial world of Devlan after failing to respond to challenges from the local defense fleet, and when the bodies in the wreckage were identified, the Imperial authorities were horrified that the "new" xenos rapidly expanding in that corner of the galaxy were the same species the Imperium had failed to properly purge millennia ago. So then the Tau got to experience the Imperium in the form of the Damocles Gulf Crusade, which ground to a bloody stalemate until Tyranid troubles forced the Imperium's attention elsewhere.
    • The Tau have had First Contact with other alien races, too. They tried to bring the Orks into their federation, but the greenskins proved to be utterly unwilling to cooperate, and gave the Tau their first taste of full-scale interstellar conflict. Then the Tau met the Kroot in 844 M38 while driving the Orks from the Kroot's home system, which led the Kroot to agree to serve the Tau as auxiliaries. The Tau's first meetings with the insectoid Vespid didn't go very well, since the aliens' mindset made them utterly disinterested in the Greater Good, but once the Ethereals in charge of the delegation directed technicians to build "communication helms" to facilitate diplomacy, the Vespids who donned them suddenly became very keen to join the Tau Empire.
    • In another case, a Tau world was under attack from the Tyranids, only for a Necron fleet to show up and slaughter them all. The grateful Tau sent a delegation of diplomats and officers to give thanks and properly introduce the Necrons to the Greater Good. The Necrons slaughtered them all.

    Video Games 
  • Civilization and its derivatives:
    • The interludes popping up throughout Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri reveal that Planet is a Genius Loci. One of the endings involves blasting the combined human knowledge into the Planetary mind in order to force Planet to "mature". It works. The Transcendence victory has the humans then joining Planet's Hive Mind. The Expansion Pack involves a more traditional First Contact with descendants of the aliens who created Planet. In fact, the contact is with two of the factions of the same species, who are engaged in a bitter ideological war over Planet (AKA Manifold Six). Human factions can't communicate with Progenitor factions until either one researches a certain technology (Social Psych for Progenitors, Progenitor Psych for humans).
    • One of the possible victory conditions in Civilization: Beyond Earth is managing to achieve this with an alien race.
    • An interesting version in Civilization: Call to Power. One of the endings involves discovering a wormhole in Earth's orbit and sending an unmanned ship through to collect some samples. The ship comes back with samples of alien DNA. The final task is to create a cloning lab to make new aliens.
  • In the Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series, humanity's first official contact with sapient alien species (the Scrin) occured during the middle of the violent Third Tiberium War between the Brotherhood of NOD and the Global Defense Initiative. Since the first action of the Scrin is to attack every humans encountered, none of the two human superpowers bothered to communicate and just add them to their target list. While still fighting each other. It should be noted, though, that humans do fire the first shot, when Acting Director Boyle orders the ion cannon to target the incoming alien craft, but the Scrin weren't planning on chatting anyway.
  • In Evolve, humanity already encountered various non-sentient alien life. Their first encounter with extraterrestrial beings equal to or greater than humans in intelligence was a single, massive creature that slaughtered the population of an entire world and demolished their technology with its bare claws. Since its massacre was efficient enough to prevent any word from getting out, this situation replayed an unknown number of times before anyone realized first contact had been established.
  • A few Final Fantasy titles deal with first contact, most of them bad experiences:
  • As mentioned under Literature, Halo doesn't have nice first contact. "Hello, our Prophets say that you are abominations to all that is holy. Our Gods demand your genocide." It goes downhill from there until Halo 2. Some twenty-seven years later.
  • In Mass Effect, first contact with aliens leads to a war with the turians, which is then dubbed the 'First Contact War' (though this happens several decades before the start of the game). The casualties on both sides of the war is the cause of much conflict between turians and humans. It was basically a classic example of Poor Communication Kills coupled with an inability to communicate and horrible judgment. The turians found a human merchant group of ships opening a mass relay—something that's illegal by Citadel law, but also something that humanity would not know of. Because randomly opening mass relays led to a costly Bug War in the past, the turian patrol opened fire on the merchant ships, but one got away. Cue a short but heated conflict in which the number of casualties is altogether very low for an interstellar war, but allows humanity to prove its military prowess despite having absolutely no experience with space combat. Hostilities ended when the Citadel Council stepped in and reprimanded the turians for shooting before asking questions, and allowing humanity to step into the greater galaxy in peace.
  • Played with in Mass Effect 2 with the geth. In the previous game, all the geth Shepard and company thought were worshipers of the Reapers, but as we come to learn from Legion, they make up a minority of all geth, with the mainstream geth just wanting to be left the hell alone. Legion was created to act independently of the geth consensus in order to make contact with Shepard, and if Shepard lets Legion join his/her crew, it becomes the first geth to make peaceful contact with a human, as well as the first since their war with the quarians to make peaceful contact with any organic. If Legion survives into Mass Effect 3, this becomes an important turning point for the geth, as Legion and Shepard's first meeting allowed them to start considering peaceful coexistance with organics.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda:
    • The Andromeda Initiative's first meeting with the angara plays with the trope. At first, it seems like first contact between the bold explorers and the twitchy locals... only for the aliens to speak comprehensibly in English, because they've already met some humans. The idea is explored with the angara having wildly different opinions. Some are nervous (since the last alien species they met tricked them, and have spent the last eighty years trying to kill them), some overjoyed, some suspicious, some violently disgusted, and in one case, thinking humans made themselves look more "familiar" so as not to freak the angara out.
    • Also approached with the kett. On first meeting, Ryder tries to look friendly and non-threatening, as the kett shout and beat another member of Ryder's scouting party for no identifiable reason, then open fire on Ryder and Liam. Later on, when Ryder has a chance to talk with one of the Andromeda Initiative's leaders, they'll ask what the plan for First Contact was. The person they ask retorts that Initiative expected someone who'd want to talk back, not just kill them on sight.
  • The latest update to Pandora: First Contact introduces the Messari, advanced warlike aliens, who may or may not have originated on this world but abandoned it for some reason. If one of the human factions activates some of their technology, they will receive an FTL signal and come back in force, opening portals throughout Pandora to wipe out the interlopers. As a Higher-Tech Species, their units are extremely tough and frequently require We Have Reserves tactics to beat. The only way to stop them is to destroy their portals.
  • This occurs with extraterrestrial life of the other dimensional kind in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Employees of the Aether Foundation make contact with a race of blue-skinned humanoids from an alternate dimension called Ultra Megalopolis after experimenting with the dimension-hopping powers of Cosmog. The details of the actual first meeting are never seen as they happened before the main story, but we can assume it went well as the Aether Foundation is seen throughout the game working closely with agents of Ultra Megalopolis, called the Ultra Recon Squad, to bring down an Eldritch Abomination that is draining their world's light.
  • Inverted in the first three Star Ocean games, in which we focus on an alien species who learns that they are not alone in the Universe.
    • The prequel, Star Ocean: The Last Hope, features Earth in the beginning of its spacegoing existence. Not only does it feature Earth's First Contact (with Eldar via subspace radio), but the main character initiates and/or encounters the aftermath of so many First Contact situations that go/went horribly, horribly wrong that he persuades Earth to set up a prime directive.
  • Starcraft: The Federation has experimented on Zerg for a while and already knew about the Protoss but the "official" first contact with both races involves a planet getting overrun with the Zerg and then getting blown up by the Protoss.
  • In Stellaris, encountering another star empire's ships, stations or planets results in a Society Research project to decipher their language enough to engage in diplomatic relations, and the first time you speak to another ruler you can choose from one of several responses based on your empire's ethos. Militaristic and Xenophobic nations, however, can set their first contact policy to "aggressive" and treat any unknown encounters as hostile. Which can lead to a permanent "first contact war" malus with said species.
  • The Warcraft franchise started with the people of Azeroth's First Contact with the Orcs of Draenor which doubled as an Alien Invasion. The Orcs were so vicious that the Humans thought they were demons. Which wasn't too far from the truth. Of course, later games revealed that 10,000 years before that, the Burning Legion made contact with the Night Elf royalty and tricked them into opening a portal to Azeroth and invade.
  • In XCOM series, first contact with the aliens takes the form of aggressive abduction of humans, quickly followed by terror attacks on civilian population centers. In response, a council of nations activates a secret multinational paramilitary organization, the Extraterrestrial Combat Unit, to fight back. It's only after the fighting is ongoing on that the aliens try diplomacy, in the form of bribing or intimidating individual nations to sign non-aggression pacts with the invaders in exchange for dropping out of XCOM - which, the bad ending shows, the aliens do not plan on honoring.
    Newscaster: All attempts to contact the invaders thus far have failed. Their only purpose seems to be destruction and chaos.
  • In the X-Universe, humanity knew there were (or at the very least, had been) aliens out there somewhere since 2041, when one of the jumpgates they built locked onto a gate of alien origin. But they wouldn't actually meet aliens until 2300, when the Argon Federation encountered the Paranids. The Argon and Paranids ended up allies and trading partners for a while, but then the Paranids elected not to help the Argon fight the Xenon and things went south.
  • First Contact in Xenoblade Chronicles X involved Earth being blown up in the crossfire between two alien races. Fortunately humanity had been working on an Arc Ship program, even if most of them didn't make it. In actuality, First Contact was twenty years before that, when Elma showed up and warned world leaders this was coming.

    Web Comics 
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! has Princess Voluptua musing on why she wants to avoid a big public First Contact: "Five billion primates all asking, 'How does this work?' 'How does that work?' Ugh! No thank you!" Elaborated on in the following strip, where she boredly enumerates some of the silly questions newly contacted primitives usually ask.
    • We later learn that her people's first contact with Earth's pre-human civilization of dragons went very, very badly.
  • In Freefall humanity has made contact with a few alien races, though mostly aliens of the starfish variety so relations are limited. Also many humans were wary of accidentally causing an interstellar incident when first meeting Florence or Sam (until they realized that Florence wasn't an alien and Sam was annoying). When they found Sam's species, the summary was "keep searching".
  • In Tailsteak's Band the sequence of squares is employed.
  • In Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger, Quinn goes through this with the blue Federation aliens, the "hand head" alien planet, and later takes some time to address the Empire's somewhat unusual First Contact philosophy.
  • In El Goonish Shive this is played for laughs when Elliot first meets Uryuoms.
  • Vexxarr falls (ahem) into this situation frequently enough, so when he doesn't see natives...
    Sploorfix: Hiding?
    Vexxarr: From two unarmed alien bags of fluid gastropodding across their local gren space? We should have seen either their military or their nerds by now.
  • In Loon Land the alien Lana Loon lands on Earth and has a close (failed sexual) encounter with the terrestrial loon Mike Moon [1].
    Mike: Hang on! You've got like five holes down here! Which do I poke it in?
    Lana: All of them.
  • Galaxion has:
    • Jax Augustus's encounter with Myradi
    • Hiawatha crash landing — the crew was taken in by friendly natives
    • Our protagonists' failure of a First Contact and it's much, much more of a failure than we're initially given to think
  • Between the human protagonists and the Starfish Aliens in Anna Galactic.
  • Ellie On Planet X: Ellie is the first link between Earth and the planet's adorable aliens.
  • It's the main scope of plot of the Leaving the Cradle, describing accidental first contact between humans and The Alliance.

    Web Original 
  • The issues involved are explored on this page of the Atomic Rockets website.
  • Should you have come on this page with the intent of finding help, this page should hopefully provide.
  • In EdStories, First Contact is established about 85 minutes after the Andromedans aimed an asteroid into the Earth at 10% light speed.
  • The Journal Entries doesn't cover the actual first contact of Earth in any detail (there are two different things that could count, but the one described at all is just Ken visiting himself in his subjective past on Earth to give himself the Applied Phlebotinum that kick starts the whole series, and that's just mentioned in passing). The first contact between Pendor and Eareth kind of weirds Earth out not because Pendor is peopled by furries with amazing technology and weird social standards, but because Pendor desperately wants Earth culture. (At this point, Pendor has existed for something like a century and everyone is desperate to get at the deep, rich cultural materials Earth has accumulated over several thousand years.)

    Western Animation 
  • The Futurama episode "When Aliens Attack" involves first contact between Earth and the people of Omicron Perseii VIII. However, in the setting of Futurama, humanity has already made contact with numerous alien species, making this an unusual example.
  • In the Rick and Morty episode "Get Schwifty", a race of giant alien heads appear in Earth's sky and command the human race to "Show me what you got." It turns out that this is an invitation to participate in an intergalactic musical reality show. Not realizing this, several Earthlings form a cult worshiping the heads. Sometime later (and offscreen) in "The Wedding Squanchers," formal diplomatic relations are formed with the Galactic Federation and Earth accepts membership. The transition appears mostly peaceful; many aliens appear interested in Earth culture after the planet is opened up to tourism.
  • The concept is Played With in Star Trek: Lower Decks. While everyone makes a big deal about first contact, the USS Cerritos deals with the less-glamorous work of second contact, in which they do the actual work of setting up infrastructure and learning the finer details of alien cultures.


Video Example(s):


First Contact with the Vulcans

After inventing warp drive, Zefram Cochrane meets the Vulcans

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / FirstContact

Media sources:

Main / FirstContact