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The possibility of life on the planet Mars has fascinated scientists and sci-fi fans since at least the 19th century, though the word "Martian" wouldn't be popularized until the publishing of The War of the Worlds (1898), which highly influenced the depiction of Martians in popular culture.

In Western media, they are commonly depicted as either The Greys or Little Green Men. In Japan, Martians (called "Kaseijin") are depicted as Octopoid Aliens, based on how they appear in War of the Worlds. In most works, Martians possess highly advanced technology, including spaceships (especially flying saucers) and Ray Guns, and often use this technology for sinister purposes- either to Take Over the World, or abduct and experiment on unsuspecting people.

In Real Life, there is no hard evidence of life on Mars, past or present. There is mounting evidence that life as we know it may have been possible sometime in Mars' past, though as far as anyone can honestly tell, it may have only harbored unicellular life at most.

Compare to the aforementioned The Greys and Little Green Men. Related to Mars Needs Water, Mars Needs Women, Mars Wants Chocolate, and Once-Green Mars. Not to be confused with The Martian. Sub-trope of Solar System Neighbors.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Card Games 
  • The trading card series Mars Attacks depicts the Martians as My Brain Is Big-style aliens. Each card depicts another scenario in the Martians' conquest of Earth. The card series was the basis for the 1996 film Mars Attacks!.

    Comic Books 
  • In Black Hammer, Martians are tall, red-skinned humanoids who possess innate superpowers, including—but not limited to—flight and Voluntary Shapeshifting. Mark Markz, the superhero known as Barbalien, is a Martian and an Expy of DC's Martian Manhunter.
  • The DCU:
    • Martian Manhunter (a.k.a. J'onn J'onzz) and his niece Miss Martian (a.k.a. M'gann M'orzz). While J'onn belongs to the Green Martian race, M'gann is of the White Martian race but presents herself as a green one due to it being more comfortable for her. There also exist a race of Yellow Martians.
    • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Aphrodite's nemesis Mars rules the ethereal native Martians who fight Wonder Woman and her allies on Earth, Mars, Venus and the moon. They most commonly act as invisible corrupters of those actually partaking in cruel actions, but can possess bodies to attack directly.
  • Marvel Comics:
    • The Martians of H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds are perfectly real, at least in the alternate reality of Killraven. Whether they also exist in the main Marvel Universe is a case of Depending on the Writer.
    • Other Martians have shown up in minor roles, such as the giant monster Zetora, and the "Takers" from the Marvel 2099 universe
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Mars is inhabited by Barsoomians, Sorns, and cephalopods, all of whom have been at war for centuries. Eventually, aided by Lt. Gullivar Jones, the Sorns and Barsoomians band together and drive the cephalopods off the planet, causing them to invade Earth, where they eventually die from exposure to terrestrial pathogens. In the 1950's, Garath Gannz, a mixed-race Martian who could pass for human, spied on Earth in the guise of superhero Marsman.
  • Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars: The Martians in the book are depicted is a four-armed race of insectoid humans. The second set of arms is lost whenever they shed their skin, and the resulting carapace can apparently be used to make a variety of items. Qiqi makes Trish and her team a bunch of roller skates from her various shed skins, and they use them to quickly become a team with a shot at the championship. They encounter more Martians in the cache they go into to hide from the Arex Corporation.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ghosts of Mars: Humans have colonized an apparently uninhabited Mars, but a scientist accidentally releases the spores of an ancient indigenous alien civilization that take over people's bodies and minds. The film ends with a Sequel Hook promising a full-scale war between humans and aliens for control of Mars.
  • Invaders from Mars (1986), Tobe Hooper's remake of the 1953 film, in which the Martians are (to quote the TVT page) "huge, ugly, slimy giant Mr. Potato Heads!" In the original, they were much more humanoid.
  • The aforementioned Mars Attacks! features the same kind of My Brain Is Big-type Martians as the original card game.
  • Mission to Mars depicts Martians as tall, feminine, peaceful humanoids who left Mars to escape the havoc caused by a massive meteorite impact.
  • Santa Claus Conquers the Martians portrays Martians as food pill-eating, joyless, humorless, humanoid creatures with metallic-green skin and distinctly robot-like headgear incorporated into their costume design. The dullness of their heavily mechanized lives results in their children getting addicted to joyful, cheery Earthling holiday television programming.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Barsoom" works (see "Literature" section) have been adapted into at least a couple of movies:
  • In War God, a trio of Martians decides to invade earth after our nuclear weapons test begins polluting the stratosphere, which affects the surrounding galaxies, with the aliens demanding humans to have all nuclear weapons disposed off within 48 hours or they'll destroy every major city.

  • Aelita, or the Decline of Mars, written by Soviet Russian Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy, portrays Martians as humanoids who are the offspring of both an elder Martian species and of humans from Atlantis. The Martians live in a class society; the workers rise up against the ruling class, but the revolution fails. All the while, Mars is entering a phase of climate change that threatens disaster for the population.
  • In Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars, Martians look just like somewhat short humans who wear orange-and- green checkered sweaters and black-and-white bowling shoes. One of them blends in effortlessly at a human school and starts a riot about whether he is one or not, yet others more versed in interplanetary travel can somehow easily visually identify them. They are ruled in part by the Martian High Commissioner Rolzup, who is a highly respected diplomat across planets and dimensions.
  • Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator asserts that there used to be creatures on Mars, but the Vermicious Knids (evil aliens from a planet named Vermes) ate them.
  • Edmond Hamilton: A Conquest of Two Worlds describes Martians as humanoid creatures with stilt-like limbs and large, bulging chests and heads. They live in tribal groups centered on oases and occasionally fight among themselves. After an accidental confrontation sparks war, they are all killed or enslaved by the invading human population.
  • David Starr, Space Ranger by Isaac Asimov portrays Martians as having ascended to incorporeal energy beings with advanced technology and telepathic powers.
  • Doom: The "portal to Hell" found on Mars was actually created by malicious aliens bent on conquering the Solar System. They engineered the various monsters based on medieval Christian imagery of Hell specifically to use as a weapon of terror, intent on sending them through the portal when everything was ready. However, humanity reached Mars sooner than they expected and set the portal off early. From the same series, a different faction of aliens has an active base on Pluto where they keep an eye on the rest of the Solar System.
  • John Carter of Mars: Mars, or "Barsoom" as the natives call it, is inhabited by several intelligent races. They range from the almost human Red Martians to the four-armed and tusked Green Martians to the more psychologically alien White, Black, and Yellow Martians.
  • The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury depicts Martians as a refined, artistic race of golden-skinned Rubber-Forehead Aliens.
  • Mars Needs Moms: Martians are squat, humanoid beings with antennae and skin color that varies by individual. When they travel to Earth, they wear transparent helmets and a bulbous, ribbed outer garment. In the story, a five-year-old boy learns to appreciate his mother after three Martians kidnap her while he sleeps. The story was later adapted into an animated film.
  • C. S. Lewis' Out of the Silent Planet has three sapient species on Mars: The otter-like hrossa, fifteen-foot tall séroni, and tapir-headed frog-like pfifltriggi. The human scientists attempting to invade initially mistake them for primitive "savages", but the hapless man they brought with them as a sacrifice to what they assumed was some pagan idol discovers that they are actually quite civilized, without comprehension of sin, and protected by an immaterial fourth species called the eldila essentially angels, and unfallen ones unlike those on Earth.
  • Protector: Mars had sapient life to whom water was toxic, until a human Protector crashed a comet into the planet to prevent them ever becoming a threat to his species.
  • Robert A. Heinlein:
    • Red Planet starts out as A Boy and His X story about a young Mars colonist and his pet "bouncer", a native Martian lifeform capable of mimicking human speech but less intelligent than humans. Then, it turns out bouncers grow into giant tripedal sapient Martians with immense Psychic Powers.
    • Stranger in a Strange Land is about a human raised by Martians forced to adjust to life among his own species after growing up learning the Martians' Blue-and-Orange Morality and Psychic Powers. Strangely enough, he ends up starting his own religion.
    • Although the Martians in Red Planet and Stranger in a Strange Land are probably the most famous Heinlein-created Martians (and may, arguably, be in the same "universe"), Heinlein also created several other versions of Martians in various different works, from the frail "perambulator"-bound "pseudo-winged" Martians of Between Planets to the propriety-obsessed Martians of Double Star.
  • The War of the Worlds (1898) by H. G. Wells is a science fiction novel about a Martian invasion of Earth. The Martians in the story are a technologically advanced race of Octopoid Aliens with large brains and no digestive tracts. Their main fighting machines are tripod walkers impervious to nearly all form of attack — they ultimately get defeated by pathogens, which they have no immune system to.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons depicts Martians as invisible superbeings at war with humans.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Ice Warriors are the native inhabitants of Mars, though tend to be off-world or in underground colonies due to Mars no longer being habitable for them. They initially antagonized humanity because they wanted to terraform their world into something more comfortable for them.
    • The Flood from "The Waters of Mars" also count. They were sealed away in a glacier by the Ice Warriors and when human astronauts accidentally wake them up, they want to hitch a ride to Earth for their water.
  • My Favorite Martian features a human-passing Martian anthropologist (nicknamed Uncle Martin) who crash lands on Earth and is taken in by local newspaper reporter Tim (played by Bill Bixby).
  • Interestingly, Mr. Spock from Star Trek: The Original Series was originally conceived as being half-Martian, but the writers were afraid that astronauts would land on Mars during the series run and prove that there are no Martians. Hence, Spock was rewritten as a member of the extrasolar Vulcan race.
  • Tweenies: One episode has the characters go to Mars and meet some yellow worm aliens.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?" centers around some troopers trying to figure out which of the patrons at a diner is a Martian. They fail, and when they're taken out by a bus crash the Martian set up, he reveals that he has a third arm and that more are on the way to colonize Earth. But, in keeping with the twists that the show loves to throw at its viewers, it then turns out that the diner's cook is, in fact, from Venus, and that his race has intercepted the Martians and intend to colonize Earth too, with the cook revealing that he has a third eye under his hat.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: In "Disenchanted Evening", Max is working on a Mars project that involves a box of sand and an alien mask. When his teacher hates the project, Alex ends up zapping him (along with herself and Justin) to Mars. At the end of the episode, after they finally go back to get Max, it's revealed to the audience that the Martians Max kept talking about actually did exist.

  • Both Eminem and Lil Wayne regularly describe themselves as Martians in songs, as a metaphor for them both being lunatics with genius-level rapping ability.


    Puppet Shows 
  • Sesame Street: The "yip-yip" aliens are implied to be from Mars. In their first appearance, they're saying "Not Mars; Earth!".

    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS Mars has four main versions of Mars, two of which have Martians: On Superscience Mars, they're giant insects with Raygun Gothic technology straight out of B-movies. On Dying Mars they're mostly-nearly-human-looking warrior tribes straight out of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Mars is the homeworld of the Adeptus Mechanicus Machine Cult, entirely devoted to industry and science (or rather the religion that is science). While there are no indigenous aliens there, the Ad Mech are so augmented it's hard to think of them as human, and there's an unimaginably powerful star vampire known as the Void Dragon trapped somewhere under the surface (by the God-Emperor, making him as the original Saint George).

  • LEGO Life on Mars, as stated in its title, is about humans discovering the native inhabitants of Mars. Unlike many other depictions of Martians, these Martians are largely friendly towards the humans. However, they weren't always this way; the radio drama The War of the Worlds (1938) was actually a true story, and even in modern day there is The Remnant still holding onto their violent past.
  • Subverted by LEGO Mars Mission, where the aliens encountered on Mars are not actually Martians and are never referred to as such; LEGO Battles makes it explicitly clear that they aren't native to Mars. While the friendly Martians of Life on Mars are sadly nowhere to be seen, LEGO Battles does hint at the existence of Martians by showing ancient ruins on the planet, dating back long before the arrival of the aliens or humans.
  • The (octopoid) Martian was added to the Uchuu Daisakusen Chocovaders line-up with the third wave as figure #25.
  • As the name implies, the molding kit Martian Matter from Hasbro has various alien shapes you can cast to make your own toys with which are supposed to be Martians.

    Video Games 


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: The episode "King of Mars" has rock monsters who live on Mars and plan to destroy the Earth because they're sick of them sending probes and satellites. Fortunately, they're weak to rain.
  • Adventure Time: Mars is depicted as inhabited, being the place where Magic Man and and Grob Gob Glob Grod come from. The inhabitants live under a dome, though whether this is because the rest of the planet is inhospitable or not isn't stated.
  • Butt-Ugly Martians depicts Martians as big-headed, blue-skinned, four-fingered humanoid creatures.
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The green, three-eyed toy aliens from the Franchise Toy Story films are retconned into being Martians.
  • Duck Dodgers: The series features the below-mentioned Marvin the Martian and K-9 as well as new Martian characters Queen Tyr'ahnee and General Z-9.
  • Futurama: The Native Martians are basically pastiches of Native Americans, and the episodes they appear in are thinly-veiled allegories of American settlers' treatment of real-life Natives.
  • Invader Zim: Zim discovers that Mars is actually a giant spaceship as the Martians converted their homeworld into one. They're not around anymore, having overworked themselves into extinction trying to make their ship look cool.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Marvin the Martian, who has black skin and a featureless face aside from two large eyes, and his green Martian dog Commander K-9. There are also bird-like "Instant Martians".
    • The Merrie Melodies short "Rocket-Bye Baby" details the humorous consequences when a green Martian baby and an Earthling get accidentally switched at birth. It turns out It Was All Just A Dream on the baby's father's part. Probably....
  • The Simpsons: In "Homer the Great", we briefly see a Martian, of whom the Stonecutters "keep under wraps".
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: The episode "Duck Dodgers Jr." introduces Marcia Martian, the niece and young apprentice of the aforementioned Marvin the Martian.

    Real Life 
  • Before the Viking probes landed, it was thought that Mars had canals and possibly even intelligent life. While research has shown Mars is a cold desert with a thin atmosphere, a number of structures on the planet were formed by water, and it's thought Mars was habitable billions of years ago. There's some evidence suggesting liquid water (and maybe even life) might exist underground where there's enough heat and pressure to do so due to the presence of methane, which usually is produced either by volcanic and geological activity (which Mars doesn't seem to have) or some form of lifenote .
  • Back in 1996, scientists thought that they had found bacteria-like fossils in the Martian meteorite ALH 84001 making headlines worldwide. However evidence was controversial and the current scientific consensus is that such "fossils" are actually the product of abiotic (not related to life) processes in the early Mars.


Video Example(s):


Butt-Ugly Martians

Butt-Ugly Martians was a short-lived CGI cartoon produced by the UK's Just Entertainment (in association with the US-based Mike Young Productions) for CITV. It focused on three butt-ugly Martians named B-Bop a Luna, 2T Fru-T and Do Wah Diddy who were reluctantly sent as scouts to the planet Earth under the commander of their ruler, the Emperor Bog, to make it suitable for conquest. However, they take a liking to Earth and its culture and instead pretend they enslaved it by sending fake progress reports to their boss. Bog starts to get suspicious of the reports, sending in forces to check out on how the trip is progressing, forcing the aliens to defend themselves and their newfound home when the time comes.

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