'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth."
A Stock Joke that usually goes something like this:
- Calvin and Hobbes (Scientific Progress Goes "Boink", page 29):
Calvin: Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.
- Dilbert has this strip from 1993, where Dilbert is trying to rein in his co-worker's sales pitch:
Sales Guy: And our product has a thirty terabit RAM cache, just like your company needs. Tell him, Dilbert.
Dilbert: It has no RAM.
Sales Guy: And it's capable of detecting tachion field emissions.
Dilbert: You're confusing us with "Star Trek" again, Stan.
Sales Guy: We'll build that stuff into the next free upgrade.
Customer: We'll take it!
Dilbert: [thinking] Beam me up, Spock. There's no life on this planet.
- Used in Mafalda, when she and her friend Felipe eagerly await the radio news on the latest space flight to Mars, Felipe comments excited on how amazing it is that there may be life on other planets. When the radio instead only gives news on the Vietnam war and other conflicts, Mafalda says that the amazing thing is that there is life on this planet.
- Ziggy: "We're looking for intelligent life. If you find any, call this number."
- This conversation in the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Where No Smurf Has Gone Before", in regards to the alien spaceship that crash-landed in the Smurf Forest.
Brainy: What I don't undersmurf is where the spaceship smurfed from or what it's smurfing out here in the Smurf forest.
Snappy: Maybe there were alien beings on board that ship, Brainy, who decided to smurf overboard before you had a chance to bore them to smurf.
Slouchy: Yeah, they'd probably smurf that there's no intelligent life down here.
- Captain Proton and the Planet of Lesbians. Earth has been attacked by a Death Ray from Venus.
"Venus?" exclaimed Buster. "But that's impossible. According to the latest scientific reports, conditions on that planet make it unable to support any form of intelligent life!"
"The mysteries of the universe are indeed mysterious," said the President mysteriously. "Scientists have yet to prove that intelligent life exists on Earth. Who knows what wonders lie beneath the cloudy veils of that inscrutable world?"
- Lilo & Stitch:
- Upon discovering that the titular alien has landed on an isolated island — Hawaii;
Grand Councilwoman: Can we not simply destroy the island?
Pleakley: NO, crazyhead! The mosquito's food of choice, primitive humanoid lifeforms, have colonies all over that place!
Grand Councilwoman: Are they intelligent?
Pleakley: No. But they're very delicate. In fact, every time an asteroid strikes their planet, they have to begin life all over. Fascinating, isn't it?
- However, it becomes clear by the end of the movie that this was actually a subversion; mosquitoes aren't endangered, but the humans tricked the aliens into making Earth a protected habitat on the mosquitoes' behalf so that the aliens would leave them alone.
- Upon discovering that the titular alien has landed on an isolated island — Hawaii;
- Buzz Lightyear's introduction in Toy Story could be read as a more subtle version of this. Immediately prior to meeting the other toys, Buzz, thinking he's a real space ranger, describes the "planet" (actually Andy's bedroom) that he finds himself in: "There seems to be no sign of intelligent life anywhere." A screencap of the scene has become something of a small internet meme in which it gets juxtaposed with particularly stupid comments.
- "The Galaxy Song" from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, concludes with this gem:
Pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth.
- Robin Williams' character in Mrs. Doubtfire when he demonstrates his ability to "do voices", says in the voice of his character Mork from Mork & Mindy:
We came to this planet looking for intelligent life...oops! We made a mistake.
- The tagline for Spaced Invaders, in which dimwitted Martians 'invade' Earth after mistaking Orson Welles' The War of the Worlds radio broadcast for an actual invasion.
For years, science has speculated on the existence of intelligent life in space...
Now, there is living proof that there is no such thing.
- A chapter of Carl Sagan's book Pale Blue Dot is titled "Is There Intelligent Life On Earth?" and covers a fictional alien visitor observing things from space that cause it to ask that question.
- Used near the end of the novel George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt: "And through the portal they could see one of the most beautiful planets in the whole galaxy, where there is warmth, and light, and water. Where there is life. Some of it, possibly, intelligent."
- There is a short story by Lino Aldani, where an astronaut visits an alien planet and encounters a robot of unknown origin. His weapons are inefficient, he tries to run away, the robot catches up, touches his head... and then moves away. You see, the robot was left by an alien race to catch specimens for a zoo, but only ones sufficiently evolved, with developed brains.
- In the Frasier episode The Candidate, Frasier and Niles were both promoting a political candidate who they learn believes he was abducted by aliens. When they discuss whether they can keep supporting him in light of this there is this exchange:
Niles: Answer me this: can you tell me with any certainty that in such a vast universe there isn't intelligent life on other planets?
Frasier: [glares] At the moment, I'm not sure there's intelligent life in this kitchen!
- On Home Improvement, Brad and Randy are trading insults and Randy says that Brad would fit in on Mars where there's no sign of intelligent life. Tim scolds them with "First of all... they've never confirmed that."
- To be expected from The Snark Knight of Blake's 7.
Blake: Does the planet support any intelligent life?
Avon: Does the Liberator?
- Short-lived Spanish comedy show El peor programa de la semana had a regular News Parody segment that once featured the headline "The doubts of the interstellar scientific community over the existence of intelligent life on planet Earth persist."
- Eric Bogle uses the joke in his song "Beam Me Up Scotty":
There must be intelligent life out there, I hope so, there's not much down here
- In Orion Burger, the titular fast food corporation is not allowed to use the meat of intelligent life-forms in their burgers. As such, they try to invoke this when dealing with humanity, through a heavily rigged test.
- In a Have a Nice Death sequence from Space Quest V: The Next Mutation, two aliens watch Roger go down in flames over their planet (because he was Too Dumb to Live, the game suggests):
Crumpella: I wish we would discover someone else out there among the stars...
Slep: Don't be silly, Crumpella! Everyone knows there's no intelligent life out there!
- Used with alternate dimensions instead of space in the General Protection Fault/Kevin & Kell crossover, when Ki and Nick are visiting Kevin & Kell's world — filled with Talking Animals of every size and shape — but no humans. Leading to this exchange...
Lindesfarne: So in your world, there's only ONE intelligent species?
Ki: Yeah, dolphins. Just kidding... but sometimes I think the jury's still out on us humans.
Lindesfarne: But surely, with no significant differences to drive you apart, you must all live in peace and harmony!
- Parodied in Ozy and Millie, where Millie pretends to be a space explorer on a search for unintelligent life, which turns out to be extremely easy.
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, the alien Nemesites have held the lease to our planet for eons, designating it as a nature preserve, and consider the young species of humanity to be unintelligent wildlife. Princess Voluptua is deeply concerned about whether changing that legal designation to grant humans Imperial Citizenship would do mankind more harm than good.
- Johnny Bravo had this in one episode as an Expy of Captain Kirk said that there was no intelligent life there while in the middle of a park full of people right before the title character ended up switching places with him in a beam up on a parody of Star Trek.
- In one episode of Garfield and Friends, an alien, having observed the antics of the farm's residents (it was in the U.S. Acres segment), reports that the mission to find intelligent life has failed.
- Danger Mouse: In "The Aliens Are Coming," DM and Penfold have a rendezvous with a visiting spacecraft which houses what looks like a small mechanical being that is quite mischievous. After DM dispatches of it, a booming voice calls out "Well, get's go home, Gary. There's no intelligent life on this planet."
- Kent Hovind used this joke in one of his "lectures". Given that Mr. Hovind is a young Earth creationist whose views are often considered spurious even by other young Earth creationists, one may wonder if this actually helps to confirm or refute the trope.
- On a T-shirt: "Beam me up, Scotty! There's no intelligent life down here!"
- Also on a pin (a yellow pin, to be specific).
- On a similar shirt: "Beam me up, Scotty...this planet sucks!"
- The tongue-in-cheek Search for Terrestrial Intelligence project from the 90s is still looking.