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Lunaris: Greetings, puny Earthers. I am General Lunaris of the vastly superior Planet Moon.
Scrooge: Umm, The Moon's not a planet—
Della: Yeah, it's a whole thing with them.
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What if intelligent life wasn't on some distant star, but in the heavenly body right next door?

The idea that there might be life on the Moon goes back all the way back to True History, by Lucian of Samosata (2nd century AD),note  and showed up in a lot of proto-science fiction afterwards. It should really have died with the development of high-power telescopes in the late 18th century, but hung around as at least the subject of spoofs. By the end of the 19th century, any astronomer could literally see that there was no life on the surface of the Moon, although some writers suggested that there was once life on the moon, leaving behind ruins for their heroes to explore.

In most modern SF, lunar inhabitants tend to be human colonists; such examples fall under Colonized Solar System. If said colonists have evolved or otherwise changed into something other than human, then it becomes this trope again via Transhuman Aliens.

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Contrast The Man in the Moon, Moon Rabbit. Sub-trope of Solar System Neighbors. May be encountered in a Trip to the Moon Plot.


Examples

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    Advertising  
  • A series of commercials for Tang instant breakfast drink featured moon-based characters. These aired in the early 1970s, the time of the Apollo moon landings. There were at least two more such commercials that appeared after the end of the Apollo program — one had them opening a hotel on the moon, where the astronauts had to pay in Tang (it won't work; they stopped sending men to the moon!). In another they composed a song to bring the astronauts back so they would bring more Tang (which sounded remarkably familiar: "Twinkle twinkle little jar...")

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Digimon Frontier the Digital World is orbited by three moons, the Blue Moon being inhabited by Starmon and some Burgermon.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War canonically takes place in a world where The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is an actual historical event, meaning that at some point there were aliens living on the moon. This is only established in the volume 4 Q&A, and the series is never shown to have actual science fiction or fantasy elements.note 
  • Land of the Lustrous: The bad guys. They're trying to take the gems to the moon and turn them into jewelry. Later they are stated to be other descendants of humanity, alongside the gems and the Admirabilis. Wentricosus ponders whether they want to reunite to become humans again. They don't. They just want to pass on to the afterlife.
  • Naruto: The Ōtsutsuki Clan is a group of godlike aliens, including a version of Princess Kaguya (who is revealed to be a Greater-Scope Villain who came from outside the solar system). One of Kaguya's two sons, Hamura, and his descendants settled on the Moon to watch over the sealed shell of the Ten-Tailed Beast.
  • In Sailor Moon the Sailor Senshi are looking for the Moon Princess who was reincarnated on Earth by the Moon Queen, (along with the princesses of other planets in the solar system), after the evil Queen Beryl and Metallia destroyed the civilizations on other planets. To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Moon Princess's identity turns out to be Tsukino Usagi, or Serena in the English dub, who is Sailor Moon.
  • One Piece: It's revealed that the Skypieans are descended from a civilization which originally came from the moon, which Enel travels to on his Maxim ark after being defeated by Luffy. There is also another race that are actually called 'Lunarians', although, as far as we know, they have no connection to the moon.
  • They come to Earth at the end of The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, to take Kaguya back to the Moon. They're airy and ethereal, led by the Buddha himself, or at least someone who looks like him, and play joyful music with Indian influence, keeping with the Buddhist theme.
  • The female idol units of Tsukiuta are from the moon. They are "Goddess Candidates" aiming to be chosen as rulers of the moon, apparently. Ai Kisaragi, Fluna's February representative has a twin brother (Six Gravity's Koi)note , and neither he nor their father know that she and their mother are from the moon.
  • ∀ Gundam has the legendary Moonrace, a group of ancient space colonists who managed to retain most of their advanced technology and Humongous Mecha after an apocalypse which ravaged Earth. The plot kicks off when the Moonrace contact Earth, now rebuilt to early 20th Century levels, to announce that the time has come for them to return home. There's even a Homage to The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter involving a time their queen once discreetly travelled to Earth.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Nana Moon, a girl named Keke accidentally stumbles across a section of the moon called Moon Haven that is populated and guarded by moon fairies. Keke quickly makes friends with one of these moon fairies, Amy.
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    Comic Books 
  • Inhabitants of the moon appear in several Disney stories. A few examples:
    • In Carl Barks' Rocket Race to the Moon (1948), the Moon is inhabited by chubby-looking aliens who drink rocket fuel and split in two smaller aliens when hit.
    • In the Italian-written Astralpippo n. 9999!, Goofy and Mickey are tricked by a mad scientist into a rocket and land on the Moon. There they find get caught in a war between two factions of Human Aliens — one of which does everything in a "reversed" way and are at risk of starvation because the enemy keeps bombarding them with food. And the war has been orchestrated by Peg Leg Pete somehow. The story makes so little sense that later reprints tried to explain it away as Mickey's dream.
  • The Marvel Universe has the Watcher living at a hidden base in the Moon, an alien that observes all events and sometimes works as a story's narrator. He's not actually native to the Moon, he's from an alien species that establishes such outposts at several corners of the universe. Note that this character was created in 1963, during the years of the space race but before the actual Moon landing, so the work treated the Moon as a mysterious place.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: The moon is inhabited by nymphs who worship their ruler Artemis as a goddess. The moon also has forests and glass volcanoes.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has Amazon Women on the Moon at war with the Selenites with gravity and air generated by Monoliths. The Clangers and the Soup Dragon live there as well as Lucien and Uatu The Watcher.
  • Scarlet Traces is similar to LOEG and has cave paintings of Selenites and Uatu The Watcher as the original inhabitants of The Moon.

    Comic Strip 
  • In the Dick Tracy comic there was a race of humanoid creatures on the Moon. They looked like human beings except that they had large eyes and horns on their heads.

    Fairy Tales 

    Film 
  • In the Found Footage horror film Apollo 18, the inhabitants are spider-like creatures that disguise themselves as rocks. It is notable for being one of the few modern examples of this trope being played straight.
  • Cat-Women of the Moon and the 1959 remake Missile to the Moon (not to mention the spoof Amazon Women on the Moon) reveal that the Moon is inhabited entirely by beautiful women.
  • The 1964 movie First Men in the Moon (an adaptation of H.G. Wells' novel mentioned below) features Selenites brought to life through the stop-motion work of Ray Harryhausen. These ones also domesticate giant caterpillar-like creatures known as mooncalves.
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, based on the Baron Munchausen character, shows the Moon inhabited by giants that can remove their head from the body.
  • In Münchhausen Baron von Munchausen and his sidekick fly a balloon to the Moon. They find a genial race of moon people that can exist as whole bodies or just disembodied heads, as well as a weird Year Outside, Hour Inside time warp.
  • Nude on the Moon: This very very silly 1961 "naturist" B-Movie has two scientists build their own rocket ship and fly to the Moon. They discover that the Moon is populated mostly by Human Aliens who are telepathic, who are mostly good-looking young women, and who like to wander about wearing nothing but bikini bottoms.
  • The landmark 1902 film A Trip to the Moon involves some whimsical astronomers getting shot to the moon by a giant gun. Once they land they find the Selenites, a strange race of people that disappear into a puff of smoke if you whack them with an umbrella.
  • Subverted in the hilariously awful made for TV movie "Stonehenge Apocalypse", when people kept accusing the main character of claiming that the government covered up the discovery of aliens on the moon, only for him to have to repeatedly clarify that it... was... a ROBOT HEAD!

    Literature 
  • In 2001: A Space Odyssey, Floyd speculates one of these to be the ones who buried the Monolith in the moon, but then debunks this when he realizes that they would have been wiped out by the formation of the moon's craters.
  • In Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Willy Wonka mentions that the moon used to be inhabited, but the native Poozas were wiped out by the Vermicious Knids.
  • In Galileo Gallilei's Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems, Salviati muses about the possibility that the Moon may be inhabited by corruptible creatures who give praise to God by their existence. He proposes this as a far more beautiful and fitting possibility than if the heavens were the cold, unchanging spheres described by Ptolemy and Aristotle, lacking the change and alteration which makes Earth such a miracle. One of Galileo's translators posts the brief fantasy to the one proposed in Paradiso.
  • In The Divine Comedy, the inhabitants of the Moon are ghosts so pale that Dante mistakes them for shadows and reflections, relegated to this lowest place in Paradise for the vows they've violated. In truth, they live with Mary, the angels, and the rest of the saved in God's Empyrean, but to allow Dante to understand the difference between them and other Paradisians, the oath-breakers have taken the pale Moon as their living place.
  • Isaac Asimov's Extraterrestrial Civilizations: (Discussed Trope) Dr Asimov cites a number of fictional works that make use of a civilized Moon.
  • H. G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon. A businessman and a physicist create an Anti-Gravity based Cool Starship and travel to the Moon. Under the surface they discover a civilization of Insectoid Aliens they call Selenites. Selenites have thousands of possible forms and each one performs a specific function in Lunar society. Since the Moon was already known to be uninhabited, Wells attempted to explain how the Moon civilization could have gone undetected: all of the Moon's water and cities are in underground caves and the lunar atmosphere on the surface freezes at night, so the Moon is airless 50% of the time. No word on how astronomers could have missed the atmosphere the other 50% of the time, though.
  • Jerome Beatty, Jr. wrote a series of children's books, starting with 1961's Matthew Looney's Voyage to the Earth, wherein Matthew and his sister Maria are young members of a non-human civilization native to the Moon.
  • The Man in the Moone, by Francis Godwin, is a story where characters travel to the moon by flight.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Moon Maid the Moon is inhabited by a variety of cultures, including the warlike Kalkars.
  • Orlando Furioso. Orlando's wits get lost on the moon, Astolfo fetches it and meets John the Evangelist there.
  • In Swords of Mars, our moon is uninhabited, but one of the moons of Mars is home to the Malena (arboreal cat-people) and the Tarids (white-skinned psychics.)
  • In That Hideous Strength, the third book of C.S. Lewis's space trilogy, a few mentions are made in passing of a lunar race who have a completely technological, anti-nature civilization.
  • Lucian's book True History (sometimes translated as "True Story" or "True Fiction") is among the first science fiction stories, and in large part concerned with a war on the Moon. Unusually the Moon people are not at war with Earth, but rather with the people who live on the Sun. They also have odd characteristics like being all male, having detachable genitals, gestating their young on their calves, having leaf ears and possessing armies of bizarre creatures like dog-faced men riding on acorns and cloud centaurs. It could be seen as the first attempt at writing alien biology, if it wasn't so blatantly ridiculous.
  • In Edgar Allan Poe's pioneering sci-fi story "The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall" (1835), Pfaall flies a balloon to the moon, where he finds a race of earless, two-foot-tall moon people.
  • Voyages to the moon and the sun, by Cyrano de Bergerac, considered several ways to travel into space, although the main character eventually used a method that would prove unworkable in real life.
  • In the Diogenes Club story Moon Moon Moon by Kim Newman, the Moon is a magical place populated by all the characters who've travelled to the Moon in fiction. An Evil Sorcerer wants to use them to destroy Apollo 11, but Richard Jeperson persuades them to face their end with dignity and not destroy those who have been inspired by their deeds to carry them out for real.

    Live Action TV 

    Music 
  • The groups Selas and Fluna of Tsukiuta are actually Lunarians. The reason why they've come down to Earth is because they're trying to pass a Magical Girl Queenliness Test to become the Goddess of the Moon.

    Podcast 
  • The second segment of the Twilight Histories episode “The Moon” takes place in a world where the Moon is home to several intelligent lifeforms. Said lifeforms have a Victorian Era level of technology and society and communicate via vibrations, though not with sound. As of late, they’re dealing with invasion from humans.

    Theater 
  • Jacques Offenbach's play Le Voyage Dans La Lune features Lunarian’s that live without romantic feelings towards one another and mate by bidding on a bride at an auction, that is until the main characters arrive and find out apples make everyone fall in love with one another, and effectively end these auctions for good. Their political system is also quite strange, and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

    Video Games 
  • Bravely Second has Magnolia Arch, a Ba'al Buster who calls the moon of Luxendarc her home. Unfortunately, her home was ravaged by a demonic entity, making her among the Last of Her Kind.
  • In Final Fantasy IV, it eventually turns out that the entire plot was set into motion by the lunarians, and that not only is the real villain a lunarian, but The Hero is half lunarian himself.
  • A Hat in Time has penguins living on the moon, who are characterized by their love of movies featuring lots of bright lights and loud music.
  • The Galactricraft mod for Minecraft sometimes spawns moon villages, complete with humanoid inhabitants.
  • Ōkami has the Moon Tribe, a race of technologically advanced Human Aliens who lived on the Moon before being destroyed in an unknown cataclysm, leaving only three survivors. They were the creators of the Ark of Yamato, the prison for Yami and his armies of demons who later slaughtered the Celestials and plagued Nippon during the events of the game. They also created numerous artifacts that are later used as powerups by Amaterasu such as the Fire Tablet that allows her to swim in molten lava.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has X-Nauts, a race of aliens who come from the Moon (or at least use it as their base of operations), whose leader, Grodus, seeks to Take Over the World.
  • Touhou Project:
    • The Lunarians are a group of Shinto deities led by Tsukuyomi, who moved to the moon via Sufficiently Advanced Bamboo Technology when the taint of mortality began to spread across Earth millions of years ago. In the present day they have become somewhat xenophobic out of fear that their new home will become likewise tainted by human astronauts. They are particularly important to the plots of Imperishable Night, Touhou Bougetsushou and Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom.
    • Their fear of impurity is such that one of the midbosses is a living Brown Note to them: Clownpiece is a fairy that's pure lifeforce, and thus anathema to them. Adding insult to injury (literally), the reason she's wearing stars-and-stripes is to remind the Lunarians of that one time humans walked around on the moon.
    • The moon also has a large population of Moon Rabbits, who appear to be either creations of the Lunarians or native lifeforms they enslaved.

    Western Animation 
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force features Mooninites Ignignokt and Err but it's questionable whether they qualify as intelligent life.
  • In Babar, Babar and co. make themselves pass as Selenites in order to trick Rataxes into buying the moon.
  • DuckTales (2017) has a lunar civilisation who went into hiding when they realised their neighbouring planet had the ability to send rockets to them. And one of them seeks revenge.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) has the Nightmare Forces, and the My Little Pony: FIENDship Is Magic reveals they used to be Nyx, who are tasked with manipulating dreams to fend off nightmares.
  • The characters Gidney and Cloyd from Rocky and Bullwinkle hail from Earth's moon. They're pudgy, pear-shaped Humanoid Aliens about half as tall as earth humans.
  • Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness has the titular moon monster as a native of the moon.
  • The first Rocky and Bullwinkle serial "Jet Fuel Formula" concerns the US Government and Pottsylvania wanting to get their hands on Buillwinkle's mooseberry fudge cake recipe, which works equally well as rocket fuel, so they can go to the moon. Partway through the serial moon men Gindey and Cloyd show up to get it themselves so no humans will go to the moon. Gidney and Cloyd show up in later serials "Metal Munching Mice" and "Missouri Mish Mash."

    Real Life 
  • Despite most people’s disbelief in life on worlds other than Earth, an incident involving an Israeli rocket proved otherwise. The rocket accidentally transported tardigrades on the rocket onto the Moon. However, subsequent research makes it doubtful that they survived the impact, and even if they did, they would remain in a dormant "tun" form unless they were exposed to liquid water. Although these extraterrestrials were brought to the Moon by humans and not created there naturally, it is still interesting to think of another world besides our planet to be confirmed to have life.

Alternative Title(s): Moon People

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