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Planet Looters

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Yeah, but continents have horrible resale value.

"They're like locusts. They're moving from planet to planet, their entire civilization. Once they consume every natural resource, they move on. And we're next."
President Thomas Whitmore, Independence Day

Planet looters are a race of aliens that have run out of something, and must steal it from others — frequently, from us here on Earth. This is peculiar in that their demonstrated level of technology makes one wonder why they'd target Earth when it would be far easier to find an uninhabited planet and strip-mine that.

To Handwave that problem, they often need some particular resource which is supposedly rare:

  • Water is apparently one of them, and countless aliens have needlessly lost their lives in futile attempts to steal our oceans.note 
  • Less commonly, they're seeking out some kind of resource found within the Earth. Gold is a not-uncommon pick.note 
  • At other times, we are the resource, and they want to take us as slaves or tasty, tasty food.
  • A more sophisticated premise would be to make Earth's abundant ecosystems and temperate climates the resource. In this version, the aliens (likely in the role of Invading Refugees) simply view primitive humans as unworthy pests infesting an ideal new home or vacation spot.

It's fairly popular to make humans fill this role (to the horror of the Space Elves), as a Green Aesop about the exploitation of natural resources.

Usually results in an Alien Invasion. Compare Space Pirates, Horde of Alien Locusts, Planet Eater, Mars Needs Water, and Mars Needs Women.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Albegas: The main reason the Dellingers are invading the Earth is because their power source, the great star Delan, is nearing the end of it's lifespan and running out of energy. Once the Dellingers learned Earth was rich in energy, they decided to invade it and use it as a new power source.
  • Daimos: Initially, the Baam sought to live alongside the Earthlings, with King Leon asking Isamu Ryuzaki to aid the housing of a billion of their people after their old planet was destroyed. However, when the peace talks went horribly wrong, his son, Richter, began believing that the humans could not be trusted, and decided to take over the Earth so he could turn it into a Baamite planet.
  • DARLING in the FRANXX: VIRM are a race of energy beings joined together in a Hive Mind who seek to assimilate every intelligent species they discover. If they are refused, the VIRM will wipe out that civilization and plunder its technology and resources.
  • Dragon Ball Z: The Saiyans and their employers, the Frieza Force, regularly ravage entire worlds of their population for sale to the highest bidder.
  • Kurohime: This turns out to be the point of gods creating pathetic humans; human sin is treated as a spiritual mining operation, which weakens the planet's soul until it can be harvested to ascend a lesser god.
  • In Macross Frontier, due to the severe damage suffered by the Frontier fleet, and the dwindling resources (it's stated that they will last for two or three months maximum), the government decides to attack the Vajra homeworld and break through the Vajra defenses, hoping to colonize it. At one point, one of Alto's wingmen deliberately comments "This planet is ours!" while blasting away at the local inhabitants. Once peace is established with the Vajra, they willingly give up the planet and leave the galaxy for unknown reaches.
  • Naruto: It turns out that this is the origin of ninjutsu. It's revealed near the end of the sequel series and the transition to the third series that there are a race of humanoids that travel to habitable worlds, planting a tree that'll suck all the life out of it so they can consume the fruit it bears to increase their own power. It went off the rails on Naruto's world when an agent went rogue and decided to live as a goddess and bore hybrid children that inherited her powers. These children defeated her when she went back on mission, and proceeded to share with the world the techniques to manipulate chakra as she had. This, along with passing on their unique genetic abilities through various lines, created the ninja clans of the present.
  • Queen Millennia: The real goal of La-Metal and the assignment of the current Queen Millennia is to immigrate humans to La-Metal while Earth allegedly gets shattered by its gravity. However, Earth's apparent destruction is a false calculation fed to Queen Millennia by the computer they've made. The population of La-Metal would immigrate to Earth at the same time and take it for themselves, while humans will be greeted by a frozen rock solid planet with its orbit changed to never reach Earth again. Yayoi didn't know all the details, but was planning to sabotage La-Metal at this only opportunity regardless.
  • The Gatlanteans from Space Battleship Yamato 2202 are this in that they have managed to have broken away sections of planetary crust from other planets in order to use them to cut off Terezart from the rest of the universe in a bid to try harnessing Teresa's power without having to worry about interference by outside forces. Near the end of the series, it's revealed that Gatlantis' White Comet is actually a Planet Spaceship that is roughly the size of Saturn that has four terrestrial bodies trapped in the center, and that they plan to add Earth to their collection due to the Time Fault that the UNCF used to create the countless ships of their Wave Motion Fleet.
  • The Terrorcons in Transformers: Energon drain entire planets dry of their natural Energon ore, often to the point of destabilizing them into an Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
  • In Vandread, this is true for the Earthlings, harvesting colony worlds to replace their own organs.

    Comic Books 
  • In Astro City, the Mrevani are primitive scavengers who steal their technologies from other, more advanced, civilizations, then use it to conquer them. The Astro-Naut fears that humans would do the same if they used his discoveries prematurely.
  • The Defenders occasionally squared off against an alien conquistador who called himself Nebulon the Celestial Man. In his first appearance, he was conned by a team of super-villains into "purchasing" the Earth and its mineral rights and subsequently had to be stopped from melting the polar ice caps in order to terraform the planet into something more hospitable for his species. (Later appearances dropped this angle from the character, as his government disavowed him and he settled on getting revenge on the Defenders.)
  • In one issue of the General Mills' Justice League comic, aliens find the fact that their planet barely has any water while Earth is 70% covered in the stuff a heinous crime perpetrated against them, and attempt to steal half of its oceans. When they're thwarted, they decide Earth is more evil than they thought and attempt to blow it up than fail to get more water.
  • In the Wildstorm comic Majestic, it's discovered that the sufficiently advanced Kherubim seeded many worlds with Planet-Shaper Engines, which terraform the surface and allow life to evolve; when that life becomes smart enough to do useful work, the Planet-Shapers will generate a flood of genetically recreated Kherubim to conquer said planet and enslave said life, thus spreading the race across the galaxy. Earth is one of those worlds, with a ticking Planet-Shaper under the mantle just waiting to unleash an army of superbeings (luckily it gets dismantled by Majestic). Ironically, their supposed homeworld Khera was also the result of such a seeding; the Planet-Shapers there did their thing millions of years ago.
  • A short story in Marvel Comics Presents suggested that a rare substance was the reason even more races didn't invade Earth, as Terrans were the only ones in the known galaxy who knew how to make ice cream.
  • The Evronians from Disney's Paperinik New Adventures series use weapons that drain all emotions from a sentient victim and convert them into energy (the will-less victims are then used for menial labor), energy they then feed upon and also use as a power source. However, since their whole infrastructure is built on using this emotional energy, and you can only ever drain one victim once, they are forced to conquer new planets constantly. Their own scientists know this is unsustainable, but few dare voice that opinion and the rare attempt at rectifying that tend to fail miserably.
  • PS238 examines and lampshades this trope (along with Alien Invasion); Herschel explicitly points out that the only reason why any aliens would choose to invade a world would be if the planet contained something that can't be found anywhere else. Raw materials are far more efficiently gained by mining asteroids, planetoids, moons, and other celestial bodies without an atmosphere, high gravity and a local population. The Earth is invaded by a species of planet looters later, however: The aliens, for whatever reason, cannot breed on their own and unleash a bio-plague on the planet intended to rewrite all human DNA and turn all following generations of humans into their species.
  • Strikeforce: Morituri: The Horde. All of their technology was stolen from others, and the only reason they got off their homeworld in the first place was by stealing from (and slaughtering) the alien ambassadors who visited them.
  • Superman:
    • As seen in Superman's Return to Krypton, Superman: Brainiac and other stories, villain Brainiac steals a city from every planet he visits, as a sample of the civilisation, before downloading all the information a planet has, then destroying the planet.
    • In Adventure Comics #408-409, Supergirl has to drive out an army of alien Mermen who intend to steal the Earth's whole water supply to save their own homeworld.
  • Transformers:
    • The Transformers (Marvel): Cybertronians can use any energy, Energon is just much better for them. The Decepticons, however, see this as "just oil." Makes sense, since all their Earth-based alt-modes run on oil-based fuels. Too bad their main base is made out of a nuclear power plant, which would have powered them better than oil, and yes the humans do point this out.
    • The Transformers Megaseries: The end result of the Decepticons' Infiltration Protocol is stealing the resources of any planet they come across, in-between burning the planet to a cinder. They've been at this for roughly one million years, and in numerous cases they've succeeded.
  • The Kahori, from the relaunched Warlord of Mars series, are a race of warriors that invade planets, enslave their population, take their resources and move for the next one. They are in the process of invading Barsoom in the beginning of the volume.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): The Green Geni have not actually run out of radioactive material, but that doesn't stop them from strip mining every planet they can for the stuff and killing all life therein just for their own amusement.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): The Sangtee Empire have conquered planets they use just to mine and strip of resources, and as part of the buffer between them and the wider universe. Not every planet they've taken over is used this way, but the one Wondy is consigned to after being enslaved is.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin once wrote a poem about such aliens visiting Earth and sucking up the ocean and atmosphere.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Cowboys & Aliens reveals that the aliens are on Earth to mine gold. It's not entirely clear why they need it, but they have no problem destroying entire planetary civilizations to do that. They have already destroyed at least one other civilization.
  • The invaders in High Plains Invaders are here to steal uranium. They seem to eat it and/or use it as a narcotic.
  • Independence Day: The aliens. The President finds this out via an attempted psychic attack about halfway through the movie, which prompts him to order the military to Nuke 'em. They return twenty years later in the sequel with an even bigger ship, after The Remnant sends a distress call. In this movie, we find out just how literally this trope applies to them, as they use a giant laser drill to try and suck up Earth's core to use as fuel. Luckily, humans have rebuilt with Imported Alien Phlebotinum.
  • Jupiter Ascending has a similar premise as Laserhawk mentioned above, only that it's an advanced human civilization that's seeding habitable worlds with human life. When the human population is ripe for the harvest, they're rounded up (it's implied that this is done almost overnight) and processed into an expensive substance that rejuvenates the user by decades, making frequent users practically immortal. The film's villains are an ultra-rich and incredibly old family that wants to do this to Earth.
  • The Insectoid Aliens in Laserhawk seed habitable world with life, so they can come back in a few billion years and feast on the inhabitants. The Distant Prologue shows the seeding ship in a battle against their Human Alien enemies, who attempt to prevent the seeding. The humanoids fail, their ship crashes, and the crew dies... to be reincarnated in three modern-day people, just in time for the hungry insectoids to return.
  • The space vampires from Lifeforce (1985) come to Earth to harvest the eponymous life force from humans to power up their Eldritch Starship. They have been doing this since ancient time, hiding within the tail of Halley's comet, to the point that's theorized within the film that their past visits gave birth to the legends of modern vampires.
  • The Marvels (2023): Dar-Benn wants to use portals to steal the atmosphere, ocean, and sun from three different planets in order to restore her homeplanet Hala, which was reduced to a nearly inhospitable wasteland from constant civil wars after Captain Marvel destroyed the Supreme Intelligence. The movie also justifies why she only picks inhabited planets — she wants revenge on Carol, and Carol has emotional connections to those places.
  • In The Matrix, Agent Smith claims humanity is somewhere between this and a Horde of Alien Locusts, using up whatever organic and inorganic resources are available in a region, or planet, then moving on to the next target.
  • Men in Black
    • In Men in Black II, a criminal alien releases one of her old partners in crime from The Men in Black's prisons. This convict's crime was that he tried to steal the Earth's ozone layer.
    • Men in Black 3 has the Boglodites, who are described much like an alien species of Planet Looters. And that's mostly what they are, but we see the Villain World they create, and it doesn't involve exterminating the human race or making an extremely quick retreat once they have their resources. Their Villain World just consists of a world inhabited by humans and Boglodites, with the Boglodites playing the role of tyrannical overlords of course.
  • The Kaiju that attacks humanity in Pacific Rim? Their job was getting rid of the "vermin" - humans - so their creators can take Earth's resources before moving on to the next planet.
  • For unexplained reasons (but given the demeanor of President Skroob, most likely government mismanagement), the denizens of planet Spaceball, from the Mel Brooks sci-fi spoof Spaceballs, must steal air from other planets to supply their world's thinning atmosphere. Or as the song goes, "'Cuz what you've got is what we need and all we do is dirty deeds, we're the Spaceballs!"
  • The plot of Star Trek: Insurrection revolves around The Federation trying to loot a planet of its Fountain of Youth Phlebotinum. Whether you side with the villains or the heroes on this issue is YMMV.
  • In Avatar and Delgo, militant Earthlings are looting an alien planet for literal Unobtanium and a place to live, respectively, after making their own planet a Crapsack World. Diplomacy was attempted in Avatar, but by the time the film starts it's broken down.
  • Exeter and his men in the disputed classic This Island Earth needed uranium to power their energy shield...but they aren't aliens!
    • The uranium was needed just long enough for Exeter's race to relocate to Earth, presumably killing all humans in the process. (Although to his credit, Exeter tried to convince his boss that the humans should stay untouched.)
  • In Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the reason why Megatron and Sentinel Prime want to pull Cybertron into Earth's atmosphere is to use its inhabitants as slave labor in its reconstruction. This would probably destroy Earth, but why would the Decepticons care?

  • Neal Stephenson's Anathem: The Geometers/Cousins, in a roundabout way. Their actual goals are way too complicated to cram into a small example.
  • The Yeerks from Animorphs. Justified in that what they want from Earth is something that can only be found on Earth. Us. Or more specifically, our bodies with our big, fat brains ripe for infestation. Every other species the Yeerks had found were some combination of ineffective (Taxxons and animals), extremely low population (Hork-Bajir), or advanced enough to counter them (Andalites). Humans are numerous enough for every Yeerk in the invasion force to have a host, while also being strong enough to use tools and technology.
  • L. Ron Hubbard's Doorstopper novel Battlefield Earth is unusual in initially deflating the usual egotistic view of Humanity's place in the scheme of things: the Earth is one of hundreds of thousands of casually conquered and strip-mined planets, marginally notable for having plenty of gold.
    • The Psychlos in the Film of the Book specifically mention how much they hate Earth with its blue skies, low gravity, and poisonous air (for them). Their homeworld is shown to be a large planet with purple smog-filled skies almost entirely covered by structures.
  • The Book of Dragons: The unnamed masters in "The Last Hunt 2020" thoroughly despoil the worlds they take over. The world's native inhabitants are all enslaved to serve as experimental subjects, slaves or pets, while ruthless resource extraction and the masters' constant meddling and experiments devastate the environment. Eventually, when nothing is left but a burnt-out, useless husk, the masters pack up their entire civilization, alongside whatever projects and slaves they find interesting enough to bring along, and move on to another world to begin the cycle again. The only consolation given to the few survivors left in the barely-habitable ruins of their world is that the masters will have been so through in sucking out anything of use to them that they'll never come back again.
  • The final novel of the Colossus trilogy Colossus and the Crab has Martians seeking to steal our oxygen. Humanity has to reactivate Colossus (the Master Computer that had taken over the world until overthrown in the second novel) as a Godzilla Threshold.
  • The Saturnites from Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain intended on invading the Earth to harvest all of its resources, turning humanity into a Slave Race to do all the mining for them. What they didn't account for was how the planet's ruler Emperor Mollusk would be able to out-gambit them by destabilizing Saturn's atmosphere just long enough to render their home planet unable to continue their war campaign.
  • In Creator/Peter F Hamilton's Fallen Dragon the mega-corporations on Earth which funded the establishment of intersteller colonies are beginning to decline, so they now make a profit by 'asset realization' — turning up in orbit and implying they'll blast the colony if the colonists don't hand over various manufactured goods, leaving information on the latest Earth technologies as compensation, then returning several years later to do the same thing again once the colonists have upgraded their technology and gotten back on their feet.
  • For We Are Many gives us the Others, who do this to whole systems. Why? They don't want to colonize any other system but need lots of resources for the Dyson Sphere they're building for their hive. They don't care if a system is inhabited. They will take all the metal regardless. They've gotten so good at it they can strip-mine a system within a year. All organics get wiped out with radiation weapons. They don't even have a word for enemy, just "food".
  • In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel His Last Command we are told that Chaos uses jehgenesh, massive warp beasts, to strip resources from worlds closer to the front for backline worlds.
  • Isaac Asimov's "The Gentle Vultures": The alien herbivorous primates maintain an Alien Non-Interference Clause until a species has destroyed itself in nuclear war, then it arrives to repair the damage in exchange for a resource that world has in abundance. They don't even do the looting themselves, making the devastated world pay tribute to the Hurrians. They take everything from slaves to steel, from manganese salts to processed lumber.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • In a rare example of humans doing it to other humans, the People's Republic of Haven regularly conquers and loots other planets simply to prop up their own bloated, unproductive welfare state. Things turn ugly when they try to do it to the Star Kingdom of Manticore and their Short Victorious War turns into a long and bloody one. Making matters worse for Haven is the fact that unlike a lot of nonhuman Planet Looters, the Havenites build their newly conquered planets into their own empire. Which means that each looted planet eventually becomes a new drain on the budget just like the homeworld. The parallels to Ancient Rome may or may not be deliberate.
    • The Solarian League's Office of Frontier Security is this as well. Theoretically, they exist to stabilize planets just outside the League's frontier, to smooth the way for them to eventually join the League and to ensure they don't become a source of Space Pirates in the meantime. By the time of the novels, they're thoroughly corrupt and have sweetheart deals with a whole pack of Mega Corps, and routinely manufacture excuses to conquer new planets for said corporations to loot. The worst part is that the League is already rich, and OFS does the looting apparently just because there's no reason not to.
  • A humorous short story by R. A. Lafferty called "Land of the Great Horses", published in Dangerous Visions, pretends that the Romani are nomadic because extraterrestrials took their homeland (ripped it loose, apparently, right down to the bedrock). They weren't actually looters, though, but scientists who took it for geological examination, instilling a compulsion to wander so the Romani wouldn't settle anywhere else. When the aliens bring the land back in the late 20th Century, everyone with a significant degree of Romani blood feels impelled to return to India. "It's come back, you know." An epilogue reveals that the extraterrestrials sampled Los Angeles next — and haven't brought it back yet three centuries or so later.
  • Elliot S! Maggin's novel Last Son of Krypton includes a scene in which Lex Luthor explains why so many aliens want to conquer the Earth. If you take over Earth you get six billion Earthlings to use as soldiers — so you can then conquer all the other planets in the Galaxy because Humans Are Bastards.
  • John Ringo's Posleen from the Legacy of the Aldenata series. Driven by an extremely high birthrate and strong aggressive/acquisitive tendencies (both of which it's hinted were artificially induced), they want land to farm, humans for food, and refined metals just because.
  • The Lensman universe has the Nevians, who use allotropic iron as a source of atomic power and are beginning to run out (with racial extinction implied to be the ultimate result). When they stumble across Earth's space fleet in the process of battling the megalomaniacal Grey Roger, they (regretfully) decide that a race thus bent on destruction is so useless that they might as well take without asking, especially given the stakes for the Nevians themselves. After much mutual destruction, the humans and Nevians come to an understanding, though it helps that Earth's solar system has a superabundance of iron and there's no need to quibble over the relatively trifling needs of the Nevians. (The fact that physics doesn't work this way, and that you actually CANNOT use iron as a source of nuclear power, was something Smith either overlooked or decided to ignore for plot reasons.)
  • Subverted in Dougal Dixon's Man After Man: the invaders in the end are humanity's descendants, which recolonized the Earth after re-engineering themselves beyond recognition for life on distant worlds, which they've also stripped of their resources. Guess what happens afterwards.
  • John Stith's novel Manhattan Transfer begins with aliens tossing a dome over and ripping out Manhattan Island without any obvious explanation, then stowing it inside their massive spacecraft. The people in Manhattan think they have been looted, but it eventually turns out that the race which stole Manhattan is trying to save a sample of humanity from a soon-to-arrive Planet Killer.
  • Stephen Baxter uses Planet Looters in Manifold: Space, but the aliens attack any planetary bodies they come across. It's just that there are so many of them (with so many different needs) that sooner or later they'll get to the inhabited ones. All of known space has been picked over repeatedly for hundreds of millions of years.
  • The Vagaari from Outbound Flight are a nomadic people whose most important resource is slaves from less technologically-advanced peoples. Not only are slaves useful for working and testing, but they can also be put into those clear bubble structures on the outsides of the ships. That way, the people they fight are reluctant to fire and kill innocent captives. Unless, that is, they make an enemy of Commander Mitth'raw'nuruodo...
    • Interestingly, despite viewing all other races as potential slaves, if they admit anyone to speak to their leader, they do not want to hear words like "beg" (e.g. I beg of you). Begging is for slaves, not those who have been shown the courtesy of being treated as more than slaves.
  • Out of the Silent Planet has humans as the planet looters trying to conquer Mars — even though the solar system runs under the same theory as Wells', and the Martians point out that their world will die before Earth.
  • A central theme of the Planet Pirates series by Anne McCaffrey, using the third variation (the planet's colony-safe environment is the resource).
  • The Secret of the Ninth Planet, a sci-fi juvenile by Donald A. Wollheim. Aliens have left automated Sun-Tap stations to drain energy from the Sun, which will cause it to go nova in a few years. In this case they've planted them all over the solar system, not just Earth. Fortunately human scientists have just invented an anti-gravity drive, enabling the protagonists to track them down and Nuke 'em with tactical A-bombs. Turns out the villains are on the planet Pluto, and the Sun going nova is actually the whole point, so it would bring the suns' light closer to their world.
  • Seriously explored, and eventually subverted, in H. Beam Piper's novel Space Viking. The Space Vikings of the title aren't much interested in raw resources; those are cheap. They want manufactured goods, the more sophisticated (and therefore valuable) the better. The only problem is that a planet with enough of an economy to have good loot can, by virtue of that self-same economy, also field a decent space navy, which can generally beat off a Viking raid, resulting in no loot, but lots of expensive damage to the Viking ships. The protagonist over the course of the novel gradually changes from plunder to peaceful trade mainly because it's more profitable (although he is troubled by the doubtful--to put it mildly--morality of it all, too).
  • The free worlds of the galaxy are menaced by hordes of these in Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker, a novel that was written in 1936, so you can probably guess who the "United Empires" were a metaphor for... This use of the trope made more sense than most, since the Empires were motivated by a desire to spread their deeply unpleasant militaristic culture, not plundering resources as such.
  • In Andre Norton's Storm Over Warlock, the Throg may have destroyed their home planet and now live as raiders, exterminating wherever they find people and living off the loot.
  • The Three-Body Problem: This is the ultimate purpose of the Trisolarans. They need to conquer and settle Earth because their own planet is doomed to fall into a star and Earth is the only habitable planet they have found.
  • The War of the Worlds (1898) depicts a Martian invasion with overt analogies to European hegemony. The invaders have perfectly good reasons: according to contemporary theories, outer planets are the first to form and the first to die. With spaceflight in the Jules Verne steam cannon stage, the aliens have nowhere to go but inward. The novel heavily implies that when the invasion of Earth doesn't go well, the Martians take over Venus.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • This was the original motivation of the Cybermen — though their choice of victim was somewhat understandable, as humans were among the resources they wanted to strip-mine.
    • For that matter, a lot of aliens like this plot. It turned up in "The Pirate Planet" (where quartz (!) was unique to Earth) and "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" (where Earth is the only planet in the universe with a magnetic core).
    • The titular Dominators of "The Dominators" tried to turn the planet Dulcis into fuel. In that case the choice of planet was motivated by a conveniently thin crust.
    • In "Horror of Fang Rock", the Rutans (eternal enemies of the Sontarans) mention that Earth is valuable because it is strategically placed, rather than anything on the planet. This explanation is as good as any until we get to the subject of all those other rocks that are pretty much in the same place but put up less of a fight.
      • However, the planet being inhabitable and having so many potential slaves may make it better.
    • The first series of the revived Who returned to this trope immediately. The very first episode has a baddie, the Nestene Consciousness, who wants to feed on the Earth after its own worlds were destroyed in the "Time War". In "Aliens of London"/"World War Three", an alien criminal family called the Slitheen take over 10 Downing Street as the first step of a plan to melt the Earth down into a source of radioactive fuel for spacecraft.
    • "The Sontaran Stratagem"/"The Poison Sky" has the Sontarans doing this, as it's very easy to turn Earth into a breeding planet for their species. How easy? They even get the humans to install ATMOS systems on their vehicles, which are designed to wipe out humans and prepare the atmosphere.
  • Stargate:
    • Stargate SG-1
      • The Goa'uld already looted Earth thousands of years ago — to acquire humans as slaves and hosts, as well as resource wealth — then subsequently lost control of the planet in a revolt.
      • The Aschen are worse about this. They're strong enough to fight off the Goa'uld, and often use it as a pretext to begin the covert process of turning populated worlds into giant farming fields with a fraction of the original population via the use of sterility viruses. This also serves to eliminate any potential competitor.
      • The Replicators have to take the cake in this category though, consuming everything on a planet down to (and even beyond) its crust in order to create more of themselves.
    • The Wraith, in Stargate Atlantis, are constantly trying to get to Earth — because all the Hives are awake now, and the carefully-managed and tiny populations of humanoid life in the Pegasus galaxy are too scattered. A single world filled with six billion people, and hundreds if not thousands of other worlds also heavily populated with humans, Jaffa, and others, just makes it all the more appetizing.
  • Star Trek:
  • The final episode of The Time Tunnel had aliens trying to steal all the oxygen from Earth for their own world.
  • V (1983), as well as the sequel miniseries The Final Battle and eventually The Series were specifically a case of Mars Needs Water, though Earth's massive reserves of animal protein (QED humans) were a definite bonus.

  • The Modest Mouse song "Lampshade's on Fire" is about a party that gets out-of-hand. After trashing the house the party's at, the partygoers go on to trash the entire town, then the next town, then the whole world... eventually they're trashing entire planets just to keep the party going.

    Mythology and Folklore 
  • According to some Ancient Astronaut theorists, a race of aliens called the Annunaki, who were worshiped as gods by the Sumerians, came to this planet to mine for gold and created mankind to use as slave labor. This is very loosely based (via poor translation of an incomplete ancient text) on the Sumerian creation myth. Why aliens so advanced that they could achieve interstellar space travel would need puny humans to mine this for them instead of having machines which could do it far better is left unexplained.

  • Just like the video game, the aliens in Defender are out to capture humanoids and turn them into Mutants.

  • Captain Kremmen radio show. The evil Thargoids raid other planets for their best brains, drain them for their knowledge, then destroy the planet. There's also the Sun-Suckers who drain heat from our sun as their own sun has died, leaving their world a frozen wasteland.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • The Dark Eldar pillage planets for Human Resources, meaning, in this case, fleshy meatlings to play with.
    • To a lesser extent, the regular Eldar before the fall. One codex mentions them doing things like stealing other species' suns for no discernible reason. Even now, some Eldar Craftworlds occasionally perform lightning raids on poorly-defended worlds, grabbing needed supplies and slipping away like ghosts before Imperial reinforcements arrive.
    • The Leagues of Votann are essentially space MegaCorps that view the universe's resources as rightfully belonging to whoever has the strength and willingness to take them. As such, when they find a planet with valuable resources, they will either reduce it to a husk through strip-mining or outright tear apart from orbit and sift through the wreckage for the resources they want. Ecosystems and civilizations living on the planet are, for the most part, seen as collateral damage; some Leagues will offer to evacuate intelligent natives before they start cracking their planet open, but this isn't universal and no League will simply leave a world alone just because its natives protest.
    • The Tyranids are a Horde of Alien Locusts who use a multi-stage infestation. Once all resistance is eaten, the tyranids assemble in reclamation pools, where all the ingested organic matter is dissolved (that is, the 'nids themselves throw themselves into the pool). Then the main hive ships suck up the soup in the pools and atmosphere. The result is a completely barren and airless rock undergoing volcanic activity due to tectonic imbalance. The 'Nids' mechanics of their interstellar travel are elaborated upon. Rather than traveling through the Warp like most starfaring races, the final stage of their absorption of a world's resources involves the hiveships using a highly advanced biotechnological organism called a Narval to manipulate the local sun's gravity well in order to launch them at the next inhabited system over, collapsing the star and blowing up everything else in the immediate vicinity in the process. That's right, their planet looting techniques are so refined they can even steal gravity.
    • The Orks, at least to an extent. Orks are primarily interested in fighting and conquest. But in doing so, they will loot whatever isn't nailed to the ground for their own purposes. They will, for example, raid a Forge World in order to steal tanks, vehicles or vehicle parts in order to use in their own vehicles. An Ork Trukk could use the turret from an Imperial tank, while a Gargant could sport weaponry from several vehicles up to and including the BFG from an Imperial Titan.

    Video Games 
  • In Albion, you start out as a shuttle pilot on a giant strip-mining-colony ship from Earth that's on its way to extract all valuable raw materials from a planet that turns out to be inhabited...
  • The Zudjari/Outsiders in The Bureau: XCOM Declassified have built an entire empire on this. They use Venn Gates to travel to other worlds and conquer them, strip-mining them for resources (both mineral and biological). The natives may be forced into the role of Battle Thralls via Mozaic. Since they rapidly go through the resources, they need to constantly seek out new worlds to conquer, lest their empire collapse on itself (which it likely does after their invasion of Earth fails, and their leader is destroyed along with Mozaic).
  • Although Lavos from Chrono Trigger is more of a Planet Eater, there are shades of this in Lucca's analysis during the final battle sequence, which suggests that it is collecting and analyzing the planet's evolutionary history in order to make itself more powerful.
  • The Scrin from the Command & Conquer Tiberian series seed planets with Tiberium, which siphons minerals from the crust to the surface for easy harvesting by the planetary population, who invariably go to war over the substance. This weakens any possible resistance even before the Tiberium reaches the planet's mantle, liquifies from the heat, and then becomes a Ridiculously Potent Explosive — a Liquid Tiberium explosion is massive enough for the Scrin's scanners to pick up, at which point a prospector fleet moves in to harvest all the Tiberium from the now-dead world. Things go awry on Earth when, in Tiberium Wars, the Brotherhood of Nod sets off a Liquid Tiberium Bomb early, drawing in the Scrin while both GDI and Nod are still alive and fighting. Which is exactly what Kane was counting on, so he could steal the Scrin's technology.
  • Dead Space mostly averts this, as the Planet Crackers are used on uninhabited planets and there's no sign of nonhuman life. With one massive exception: when a Marker outbreak reaches convergence the planet's population is siphoned off of it to form a new Brethren Moon.
  • In Deep Rock Galactic, you're a bunch of Dwarves working for one. The titular MegaCorp is more or less invading Hoxxes IV, sending teams of heavily-armed miners in to extract valuable mineral resources (while doing a side business in rare alien flora, fossils, and whatever gunk seeds are) and mowing down any native lifeforms that try to stop them.
  • Defender. The resource was humans, the abduction of which allowed the enemy to create dangerous mutant ships.
  • Eco Fighters is a 1994 sidescrolling shooter by Capcom where you pilot the Eco Fighter Space Plane to stop Goyolk, a Corrupt Corporate Executive who intends to strip your planet of all its natural resources and turn it into a lifeless, polluted "Doom Sphere."
  • Ecco the Dolphin kicks off with the title character's entire family being swallowed up by a typhoon that sucks everything from the sea and seafloor, including seashells and rocks. Ecco eventually discovers these storms are caused by a nightmarish alien species called the Vortex that uses Ecco's homeplanet as food source every 500 years, since they've lost their own ability to produce food.
  • The Angel Cartel and Serpentis in EVE Online are interplanetary syndicates. They don't explicitly loot, just "protect". Also, the Amarr Empire used to organize slaver raids against Minmatar planets. In the Incursion Expansion Pack, Sansha's Nation restarts it's own "recruiting drive".
  • Half-Life
    • The Combine in Half-Life 2 and its episodic sequels hijack worlds across dimensions rather than space, but the idea is the same. The native life-forms are used to construct bio-organic combat units, the most successful of which are exported to use on the next world; humanity seems to be in the process of becoming the new fodder units as the game opens. The physical material of the planet itself is also exploited: supplemental material explains the barren coastal areas in the game are a result of the Combine teleporting away a fair fraction of the Earth's ocean water over the past decade, lowering global sea levels by several feet.
    • Race X from the Opposing Force expansion for Half-Life are suggested to be similar: they intended on colonizing/looting Earth the same way the Combine did. However, when Shepard killed the Gene Worm, they were cut off from Earth... or perhaps they saw the Combine coming and said "Screw this!"
  • The Vaygr from Homeworld 2 are stated to be this in some of the background lore.
  • In Kid Icarus: Uprising, the three-way war between Skyworld, the Underworld, and the Forces of Nature draws the attention of an alien race known as the Aurum, who appear rather abruptly to steal the planet's resources. This brings the main story to a grinding halt and forces the three main factions to team up in order to stop the planet from being totally destroyed.
  • Kirby: Planet Robobot: In Rhythm Route, Susie reveals that the company is harvesting Pop Star's resources for their own creations. Word of God even states that this is the HWC's M.O. and the reason Popstar is being targeted is because it is rich in resources.
  • The Reapers in the Mass Effect universe convert many sapient species into mindless cybernetic horrors to fight their grounds wars; the rest are liquified into goo and used to build new Reapers.
    • The kett of Mass Effect: Andromeda are strip-mining Eos and Voeld, but it's secondary to their main goal of exalting the locals, as evidenced by the fact they've been there eighty years and there's still lots of both planets left.
  • In MDK, you fight against aliens who use massive, city-crushing minecrawlers to gather resources for their own purposes.
  • In No Man's Sky, you can become a planet looter yourself and collect commodities and resources from planets to planets.
  • Prey (2006)'s aliens have similar motivations. Life on Earth was actually seeded by them, and every few thousand years they come to the planet so they can abduct a few million humans to use as cybernetic biomatter source and extra energy. Though rumor has it that in the sequel, Tommy would have been informed that the Keepers lied about seeding the galaxy with life.
  • This was why the Strogg in Quake II and 4 invaded Earth. Like some of the other examples, they were seeking humans. As cyborgs, they wanted to convert humans into new Strogg... and additionally, they used them as food, and the raw materials for medical treatments to maintain their organic components.
  • Chairmen Drek and his people, the Blarg, from Ratchet & Clank are stealing not only resources, but chunks of lithosphere from other planets to build a new one, in order to replace their polluted and overpopulated homeworld. Right before the Final Battle, Clank tries to convince him to stop his mad scheme, but Drek's motives are different from what he suspects.
    Clank: There must be a better way to find a home for your people.
    Drek: You Fool! You think that's what this is about?! Who do you think polluted the last planet? I did. This is about one thing and one thing only: cash, and lots of it. See, I've been paid for every inch of my new world. Once the inhabitants move in, I'll begin polluting that planet as well, and the whole thing starts all over again. Ah... brilliant.
    Clank: Y-you evil little
  • The Vasari from Sins of a Solar Empire have built their whole culture around this. They've been fleeing some threat for ten thousand years, stopping only to strip worlds of materials to build new ships and fuels for the next leg of their journey. The problem arises when they arrive in human space; they loot both the uninhabitable planets and those colonized by humans.
    • In Rebellion the Loyalist Vasari take it a step further, they reduce inhabitable planets to barren asteroids.
  • In Spore, pirates will occasionally raid one of your planets, or one of your allies, and try to steal spice. You can also do this to other empires, but doing so, of course, will anger them.
  • The Mycon of Star Control II are obsessed with this, buried as it is under their nonsensical Juffo-Wup ramblings due to their being rogue xenoforming Organic Technology, and always on the lookout for worlds to turn into blasted hellscape to their liking. It turns out they're the ones responsible for wiping out the Syreen homeworld.
    • The Syreen get in on this in the first game, wiping out Hierarchy colonies and making off with their residents to replenish their own ships' crews.
  • In Starbound, this is the best way to collect fuel from moons: run along the surface, dig up any easily accessible fuel, then teleport out before the fuel-guarding monster catches up. But in general, exploring and looting planets for raw materials and unusual parts is a major part of the gameplay.
  • Stellaris has a whole zoo of them. Someone at Paradox really likes this trope.
    • Two of the three endgame crises, the Extradimensional Invaders and the Prethoryn Scourge, are after their victims' populations and, to a lesser extent, their worlds as a whole. The Prethoryn simply eat everything organic for sustenance while the EI devour any sentient beings' souls for food and For the Evulz.
    • Empires that allow slavery can gain access to the Raiding Orbital Bombardment stance that makes orbiting fleets abduct pops in addition to dealing damage. Do this long enough and you can depopulate entire planets, turning the former inhabitants into your slaves.
    • Lithoid empires can be given the Terravore civic that lets them eat worlds for resources.
    • A milder case comes into play when you spot and conquer an exceptionally resource-rich planet that another empire has already settled. Planetary resources in Stellaris are infinite, but you still invaded a planet for its resources (minerals, energy, food, people, food from people), to ship them off-world to sustain your own civilization.
  • Super Robot Wars features a few of these among its original villains: The Ze Balmary Empire of Shin Super Robot Wars and the Super Robot Wars Alpha series seeks to turn Earth's population into mind-slave soldiers, the Ruina in Super Robot Wars Destiny looks to use humans as cattle, the Fury in Super Robot Wars Judgment want to eradicate humanity and use the planet as their new home, while the Database in Super Robot Wars W take the Brainiac route.
  • In Sword of the Stars, the Zuul use the resources of their worlds at an unsustainably high rate, called "overharvesting". While all races can do this, it is only compulsory for the Zuul. According to All There in the Manual, however, the Zuul's greatest pillaging goal is slaves: Zuul use other races' bodies for food and manual labour, and their minds for technological advance and other... Recreation. And they obtain them by raiding other species colonies, or colonizing a planet whose civilian population partially survived the Orbital Bombardment.
    • There's also mining ships, which strip-mine planets for resources they can feed to other worlds to permanently increase their resource stocks — this is an especially good thing to do against worlds you can't colonize due to planet hazard. The hivers, due to their Portal Network allowing them to jump dedicated strip-mine fleets all around their empire in a single turn, do especially well at this.
  • The Hierarchy from Universe at War: Earth Assault. Their predations of inhabited planets is mainly because they also require biomass, and because they are a warrior culture that regularly nips any sentient species that might challenge their supremacy in the bud before they can become a credible threat.

  • Subverted in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!. Upon finally getting their ultimate weapon working on Earth, the Pirates of Ipecac are anxious to start pillaging.. and are nonplussed to realize Earth doesn't have much worth stealing. They decide to look around for something to swipe, and failing that, to just shoot the place up anyway (although Earth did have a resource they needed for their ultimate weapon: caramel).
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: In fitting with her theme as the Demiurge symbolizing Gluttony, Dimension Lord Mottom follows this trope. She travels the planets under her domain in her flying castle, demanding ruinous amounts of tribute of slaves, food, decorations and other luxuries from the planets she visits to feed herself and her Decadent Court with gifts and glories. Cio at one point comments that the wasteland they're currently in was a vibrant forest before Mottom got a taste for a fruit that grew on some of its trees, and had the entire thing stripped bare to feed her hunger.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: It's eventually revealed that King Andrias' ancestors did this routinely: using the Calamity Box, they invaded neighboring dimensions and stripped them for resources and any valuable specimens, exterminating the sapient inhabitants along the way. In the present, after Andrias and the Core have reclaimed the Music Box, they intend to resume Amphibia's old way of life and get the invasion of Earth finally underway after the loss of the Box put it on indefinite hiatus.
  • The smelly and fish-like Plutarkians from the 1993 Biker Mice from Mars series are a very fine example of this trope. Most of them were named after cheeses (e.g Lawrence Limburger, Lord Camembert, Napoleon Brie, Gutama Gouda). The Catatonians in the 2006 Sequel Series are almost as bad; they're after a new replicator/terraforming device invented by the mice so they can use it to turn Earth and other planets into new kitty litter boxes.
  • Subverted like almost every other "Evil Alien Invader" trope in Futurama, where humans are the planet looters. They mined out one planet to the point of implosion, then refused to help the wildlife because of "Brannigan's Law" — a parody of Star Trek's Prime Directive which bans such "interference" (but apparently not the mining). They also mined Halley's Comet for ice until not enough was left to combat Global Warming this time.
    • Futurama did this again, using a whole race of Braniac-like floating-brain aliens, dedicated to learning everything in the universe, turning all sentient life into morons, and then destroying it.
    • "That Darn Katz!" later revealed that cats came to Earth for this very purpose, specifically to save their home planet. The resource they came to steal in this case was Earth rotational momentum because their planet stopped rotating.
  • The Invader Zim episode "Planet Jackers" takes this idea to the extreme, featuring aliens who steal entire planets, throwing them into their sun to keep it from dying. They specifically prefer planets full of "critters," because "critters burns good." Aliens who are loosely based on the crooks from Fargo, no less. And, since this is a Crapsack World where nobody thinks things through, don't bother wondering why they don't just use their planet-moving technology to move their own planet to another star.
  • Johnny Test has the people of Planet Vegandon, a peaceful vegetarian utopia that, in order to maintain it, strip other planets of their resources.
  • The Blastula in Men in Black: The Series as said to be this. Examples of the planets they looted (deserted wastelands) are shown on video. As they live in very hot environments they first increase the planet temperature to unbearable levels for more life forms before looting it and planned to do the same to Earth until the Men In Black acted.
  • An episode of Mighty Max features aliens who invade Earth to steal its toxic waste, which apparently they can use for beneficial methods. When Max eventually figures that out, he pretends to surrender and agrees that Earth will give them a periodic tribute, figuring that it makes no sense to fight over something humans don't even want anyway.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Horde Prime, the final Big Bad, has apparently made a habit out of stripping the planets he forcibly integrates into his galaxy-spanning empire for resources.
  • Star Wars Rebels shows the Empire doing this to numerous planets, although more gradually and cleverly than most cases. They convince the leaders to let them in to stimulate the economy and provide opportunities, then slowly take over until every last resource (including the native population) is used up, whereupon they pack up their people and move onto another planet, leaving the citizens to die on their now lifeless planet. This actually works against them in the series finale, as the Rebels trigger the order to leave early, then blow up the Dome with the entire occupation force onboard. Since they hadn't finished stripping it, Lothal was able to recover.
  • Steven Universe: The Diamond Authority colonizes planets and pillages them for badly needed resources to make more Gems. By the series' present, this strategy seems to be facing diminishing returns and the next generation of Gems are weaker than those that came before. This makes it all the more glaring that Yellow Diamond wants the Earth destroyed. She knows it's lush with resources, but she's putting Revenge Before Reason and wants it destroyed for all the trouble the Crystal Gems have given her, and for being where Pink Diamond died. Though Pink Diamond’s absence is also implied to be a major factor in newer Gems being weaker, rather than their colonization strategy being flawed as Era 2 began after her shattering.
  • An episode of Superfriends featured lion-like aliens who were plotting to chop the Earth into chunks, which would then be sold to various other races (all wanting different things, iron, water, etc.). Of course, the Super Friends have a little problem with this kind of entrepreneurship...
  • Brainiac in Superman: The Animated Series is a purely intellectual looter. He would examine planets for all their knowledge, and then destroy them and all inhabitants on them so he can be the sole holder of that knowledge. Of course, when Superman learns of this method of cornering the information market, he responds with an outraged "You're Insane!" and leaps into battle to stop the robot.
  • The SWAT Kats episode When Stikes Mutilor features the titular Big Bad as an alien pirate who literally steals the entire water supply of planets to sell off to the highest bidder.
  • In The Transformers, their energy source "energon" could be created by converting practically any source of energy, and was amazingly efficient. Yet the villainous Decepticons only tried to get it by stealing electricity from human energy plants and similar schemes.

    Real Life 
  • Stephen Hawking believed that these would be the only aliens who would ever visit Earth. After all, this is what humans have been doing to each other's countries: colonization.
  • Humans themselves could be considered Planet Looters, Peak Oil and all.
  • Taking into account energy costs and The Theory of Interstellar Trade by P Krugman would need the looted resource to be quite valuable to make it worthwhile.
  • Earth is the densest of the four inner planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth & Mars) of the solar system, so it's a plausible choice of targets if aliens are looking to collect a huge amount of metal/minerals in one go, rather than chase down millions of asteroids.
  • In something of a subversion, creatures capable of interstellar space travel who were only looking for raw materials would probably steer clear of Earth. The tiny moon of Titan (one of Saturn's 62 moons) has hundreds of times the hydrocarbons (oil and gas) that Earth has, Europa (one of Jupiter's moons) has twice the volume of water Earth has and is one of many tiny moons to have more water than we do, and even our own Moon is amazingly rich in titanium. And this is only what we have in our comparatively tiny solar system, all of which is uninhabited (and unguardednote ) except for our home.


Video Example(s):


The Blarg

Under Alonzo Drek, the Blarg has taken it upon themselves to build a new homeworld from the cherry-picked remnants of various other planets.

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Main / PlanetLooters

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