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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 to Somnium, by Johannes Kepler, published in 1634 AD. Even earlier, there's True History, by Lucian of Samosata (2nd century AD). The concept showed up in a lot of proto-SF. 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.

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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.

Contrast The Man in the Moon, Moon Rabbit.


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 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.
  • ∀ 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 Tale of the Bamboo Cutter (see Mythology below) involving a time their queen once discreetly travelled to Earth.
  • In Digimon Frontier the Digital World is orbited by three moons, the Blue Moon being inhabited by Starmon and some Burgermon.
  • The Otsutsuki clan in Naruto, a group of moon-dwelling ninja founded by the setting's version of Princess Kaguya (who is a Greater-Scope Villain strongly implied to have come from outside the solar system).
  • Studio Ghibli's critically acclaimed The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is based on the Princess Kaguya myth mentioned below.
  • 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.
  • 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 another 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.
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    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.

    Film 

    Literature 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Moon Maid the Moon is inhabited by a variety of cultures, including the warlike Kalkars.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.
  • Isaac Asimov's Extraterrestrial Civilizations: (Discussed Trope) Dr Asimov cites a number of fictional works that make use of a civilized Moon.

    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.

    Mythology 
  • In The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, Princess Kaguya turns out to be from the moon, and her people eventually come to collect her.
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    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • Touhou:
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force features Mooninites Ignignokt and Err but it's questionable whether they qualify as intelligent life.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • In Babar, Babar and co. make themselves pass as Selenites in order to trick Rataxes into buying the moon.

    Real Life 
  • Some Real Life conspiracy theorists believe that the Apollo 14 crew actually encountered ruins of a moon civilization on the dark side of the moon, or that instead of ruins it has an alien base and that's why colonization of the moon was never done, or that the moon itself is a giant space station left there to watch us. The myths vary.

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