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Starfish Aliens
aka: Starfish Alien

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"Within range of our sensors, there is no life [...]. At least, no life as we know it."

These Starfish Aliens are really alien aliens. They may have:

If the aliens in question have two or more of the above traits, you're usually dealing with a Starfish Alien. However they are still "people" in the sense of having:

  • Some kind of language, not necessarily verbal, we can learn to interpret (or maybe not, but we can at least recognize it as a language).
  • Culture
  • Their own belief systems, however unusual.
  • A mind-set that admits to things like logic and intuition; not necessarily those things by our definitions, but things like them.
  • At least some resemblance to living things with which we are familiar. They eat, sleep, reproduce, etc.; they are clearly organic beings, or else Mechanical Lifeforms.

Sometimes, however, they are too alien and their language, mind-set and culture remain incomprehensible to humans. Often (particularly if the beings can't communicate easily with humans) they will be presumed to be evil by the human protagonists without any actual proof. But in accordance with We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill, starfish aliens who run across innocent, open-minded humans are themselves known to do beyond-horrible things to them, then excuse themselves later with an explanation that they were only trying to communicate with or greet us in the way they know how. Usually, their language and communication are so different from ours that if there is to be any communication between our species and theirs, it must be done by technological means of translation or them taking on a form humans can interact with.

Given the long, strange history of life on Earth (a given house includes such a bewildering variety of life as humans, houseplants, pets, spiders, molds, bacteria, etc.), it's likely if we ever actually encounter alien life it might fit in this category. Species that evolve naturally would have adapted to solve similar basic problems: obtaining food/necessities, negotiating natural disaster, adapting to new circumstances, avoiding contamination by pathogens and parasites, competing with other species, competing with themselves, and so forth. So we would expect to find at least a few familiar aspects to their psychology as opposed to sheer indecipherable mystery... if they evolved in similar conditions as us.

These are much more common in animation, video games, and literature than they are in live-action media, due to the likelihood of Special Effects Failure. They are typically located towards the "hard" end of the Sci-Fi Hardness Scale, though when their biology becomes sufficiently improbable, they may soften it instead. When a story is told from the point of view of Starfish Aliens, and other decidedly non human creatures, it's Xenofiction.

Super Trope to Octopoid Aliens. The inverse of Human Aliens or Rubber-Forehead Aliens. Aliens that don't look like humans, but still have basically the same body type are Humanoid Aliens, or Intelligent Gerbils, if they're obviously based off a particular Earth animal. Insectoid Aliens effectively split the difference.

Prone to enter Grotesque Gallery. May speak a Starfish Language. See also Bizarre Alien Biology, Starfish Robots, and Our Monsters Are Weird. Compare Eldritch Abomination (both tropes have some overlap). The Trope Namer is H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness, written in 1931, where the Elder Things are described as having starfish-like appendages.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • The original series Astro Boy episode "Mission to Mars" features starfish-like aliens with four extremities.
  • The eponymous creatures of Digimon, being data-based lifeforms from a parallel universe, having so many different forms (ranging from angelic to animals to humanoid or even a mixture), and each individual having multiple (and radically) different forms throughout their life cycle.
  • The Scub Coral and Coralians of Eureka Seven, which as the name implies, are sentient alien land corals.
  • The ELS (Extraterrestrial Liquid-metal Shapeshifters) in Gundam 00: A Wakening of the Trailblazer. Their name alone should give you an indication of how bizarre they are. For one thing, they appear to live in gas giants, they are basically massive hunks of metal that can take on any shape they wish, they can assimilate other forms of life and technology into themselves, and they have no concept of communication beyond their own Hive Mind; when they encounter something unknown, their first instinct is assimilation to understand it. That includes everything from planets to complex machinery to human flesh.
  • The aliens in Gunbuster are Gigerian things the size of houses. Their ships are bigger aliens the little ones ride on/in.
  • The Mercurians in Gunnm. While Venusians and Jovians might look alien, they are simply modified humans. Mercurians, on the other hand, are the descendants of the runaway nanoweapon who are so disconnected from our mode of thinking and understanding of good and bad, that their attempt at contact is a mindless monster that attacks everything with its huge maw and Gag Penis.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya:
    • The Data Overmind is some kind of non-corporeal, out-of-phase "data-lifeform." note  What exactly it/they is/are, or how it/they think/thinks is never really explained, instead we get a lot of Techno Babble. Important to know is that its/their mind vastly differs from that of humans and that it/they does/do not communicate through language and therefore created the Interfaces (Yuki, Asakura, Kimidori) as its/their mediums. It appears that the entity/entities has/have different "voices" in itself with different opinions. Oh, and they can hack reality. Playing up on their godlike nature, in one short story Kyon is contacted by an old school acquaintance who had fallen in love with Yuki at first sight and now worships the ground she stands on. It turns out that he had the minor power to see her connection to the IDE which consequently overloaded his brain, as no mere mortal could possibly comprehend its true form.
    • Later, another entity similar to the Data Overmind is introduced, the Sky Canopy Domain/Macrospatial Quantum Cosmic Existence. While having a similar non-corporeal, reality warping nature as the Data Overmind, its mindsets and motivations are so different they are alien even to the Overmind itself. They are so alien to each other that despite knowing of each other for millennia they are totally unable to communicate, and the little contact the two entities have had is through a coincidental meeting of Yuki and Kuyou Suou on Earth, the latter being the Domain's human interface, and one much worse at fitting in than any of the Overmind's.
  • The Gauna from Knights of Sidonia are masses of regenerating/shapeshifting flesh surrounding an indestructible True Body. They live comfortably in space either as individuals or as huge aggregates called Mass Union Ships, and are capable of assuming any shape, even replicating inorganic technology. They demonstrate intelligence beyond simple animal instincts, but humanity has been unable to communicate with them in any way beyond violence. In turn, it's been suggested that the reason they try to devour humans indiscriminately is because they're trying to communicate and don't understand how humans work either.
  • While most of the aliens from the Macross franchise are a mix of Human Aliens and Rubber-Forehead Aliens (though this is justified, as they were all seeded that way by the Protoculture), the Vajra are completely alien (though vaguely insectoid). It's here where the unspoken conflict of Macross Frontier lies; whereas peace and understanding was reached with previous alien enemies since the heroes were able to communicate with them, there is initially no way of communicating with the Vajra until the it is discovered that the songstresses are able to tap into the Vajra fold communication network via fold quartz crystals and/or the Vajra's fold communication capable bacteria.
  • All of the Mushi in Mushishi are pretty much these.
  • The Angels of Neon Genesis Evangelion appear to be these, or at least the ones that don't cross into Eldritch Abomination territory. While Adam, Lilith and Sachiel are humanoids, the others have some bizarre appearances: Armisael is a double helix-shaped loop that forms into a tentacle; Ramiel is a regular octahedron who does some impossibly cool shapeshifting; Iruel and Bardiel are sentient nanoviruses; Leliel is two-dimensional with a four-dimensional shadow made of antimatter that can bleed, etc.
  • Kyubey in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. The Ridiculously Cute Critter appearance hides a possibly hive-minded being capable of creating a new body out of thin air if one is killed. It's also completely incapable of emotion and has no understanding of human empathy or morality. The moment where this is most apparent is when it can't understand why the girls would get upset that making a deal with it tears out your soul and eventually turns you into an Eldritch Abomination, because what is one human life compared to the universe?
  • The JAM in Sentou Yousei Yukikaze.
  • In Space Dandy, most of the main and supporting cast are humans (or possibly Human Aliens), Humanoid Aliens, or Rubber-Forehead Aliens, but most of the rest of the aliens come in an amazing variety of shapes and colors, from plants and marine life to giant crystals and floating worms.
  • The Neuroi in Strike Witches. They're basically soil-eating eusocial biotechnological assimilating planes.
  • Violen Jiger, the massive insectoid mass of Decepticon sparks in Transformers Zone, as well as Dark Nova, the... thing from Transformers Return of Convoy. Alpha Q from Transformers Energon, an Expy of the Quintessons from Generation One.
  • The aliens in Tsuritama are literally fish aliens. They have human and fish forms, require water to live and can communicate through it. Whenever they try it with humans, though, it ends up as Mind Control.
  • Voices of a Distant Star - the Tarsians possess a starfish-like structure. In addition, miscommunications between them and humanity is implied to be one of the reasons why humans are fighting a war with them.

    Card Games 
  • Top Trumps: the Planets and Aliens set has a glorious selection of complete freakazoids, with the exclusion of a couple of living teddy bears and Bob McTerrifyingly-Normal from Earth.
  • The actual Alien archtype in Yu-Gi-Oh! is pretty easy to understand, as most of them range from The Greys to Alien-style creatures that are still relatively humanoid. The Worm archtype on the other hand are truly strange, as they have wildly different physical appearances with only a few of them being even vaguely humanoid. The boss monster, Worm Zero, crosses over into Eldritch Abomination territory, as it appears as a building-sized moonlike sphere of flesh that is formed by absorbing the bodies of other Worms and seems to be able to affect reality.

    Comic Books 
  • DCU:
    • The original foe of the Justice League of America, Starro the Star Conqueror, is — surprise, surprise! — a literal Starfish Alien whose spawn latch onto humans' faces so he can control their minds.
    • The Green Lantern Corps has Bzzd (an insectoid), Medphyll (a plant being), Chaselon (an intelligent crystal), Dkrtzy RRR (an intelligent equation), Leezle Pon (a superintelligent smallpox virus), Mogo (a sentient planet), Rot Lop Fan (who, being from a sector of space where no light exists, is under the impression that he is a member of the F-Sharp Bell Corps), a race of hivemind spores, and the Mother Mercy, a Hive Mind Planet/fungus thing and planet parasite can alter gravity and progenitor of the Black Mercy plant species
    • Supergirl: The Red Daughter of Krypton arc has B'ox - literally a living, sentient polyhedron - and one of the soldiers of Atrocitus, which resembles a giant, orange, fish-headed cricket.
    • Supergirl: Bizarrogirl has the Ash'ka'phageous, a race of moon-sized planet-eaters. As travelling through space they take a chrysalis-like shape, but when they descend upon a planet they look like a kind of bipedal monstruos insect.
    • Martians in the DCU are quite monstrous to human eyes in their natural form and are telekinetic, telepathic shapeshifters.
    • Legion of Super-Heroes has had a few members. Tellus is the best example from the original continuity. Gates from the rebooted continuity. The Gil'dishpan race vaguely resemble psychic purple tubeworms with club-tails floating in water-filled orbs. The Durlans were initally shown as orange humanoids with antennae, but since they're Voluntary Shapeshifters it was very easy for later writers to declare this was A Form You Are Comfortable With and their Shapeshifter Default Form was actually a mass of tentacles in a robe.
    • During Alan Moore's legendary run on Swamp Thing, the eponymous hero encountered a sentient biomechanical planetoid, which proceeded to rape him.
    • Shaar Q is from a race of Octopoid Aliens with a somewhat serpentine body and the ability to plane-shift.
    • One of the regulars at Event Horizon in Superboy and the Ravers is some kind of Energy Being who can hold onto and wear shirts despite their lack of physical form.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Fomalhauti are telepathic tentacled blobs. There are also a Space Whale species and another Hive Mind Living Ship species.
    • The Ultimate Marvel version of Galactus is a 100,000 mile-long Hive Mind of insectlike Mechanical Lifeforms.
    • The Brood, a blatant Alien ripoff ... er, nonhumanoid insectoid race that implant their young in unwilling humanoids.
    • The Symbiotes, or Klyntar, are a species of amorphous, shapeshifting parasitic entities — of which the most famous members are Venom and Carnage — that bond to a host and grant them superhuman abilities with a distinctly Lovecraftian flavor.
    • The Technarchy, a race of "techno-organic" creatures that think and speak more like machines than organic creatures, change shape and look like random masses of circuitry in their natural forms, and eat by infecting other creatures with a virus that makes them techno-organic also and then draining the life energy out of them. They have a Hive Mind offshoot called the Phalanx.
    • Mojo of the X-Men books is the most visible representative of a race of pseudo-anthropomorphic slugs who use exoskeletons and motorized platforms to get around.
    • Martians in the Marvel-verse are cephalopod-like creatures with shapeshifting abilities.
    • Planet Hulk introduced the spikes, a race at least superficially similar to the above-mentioned symbiotes, appearing as masses of slime. In their natural state, they're peaceful creatures that float through the vacuum of space feeding off cosmic radiation. When confined to a terrestrial environment, however, the atmosphere starves them to the point of madness, and they're forced to latch on to native life forms and infect them like parasites, causing spiked protrusions (hence their name) to jut out from the victim's flesh, essentially turning them into Parasite Zombies.
    • Sleepwalkers are tall, thin humanoid creatures with olive-green skin, and buglike red compound eyes that dress in blue costumes with purple cowls and bandage-like arm and leg wrappings. They have the ability to emit bizarre Eye Beams that can physically reshape matter and alter its physical characteristics to a limited extent. They dwell in the Mindscape, an alternate dimension that links all of the minds of every living being in the physical world, including Earth. Despite their bizarre appearance, they are actually benign, and the whole reason they exist is to function as a collective Guardian Entity for humans and other sentient beings of our universe, protecting us from being Mind Raped by the demons and horrors that also live in the Mindscape.
  • Matt Howarth did an entire series about Konny and Kzu, neither of whom looks remotely human-like — in fact, there are no humanoid aliens in the strip and books. The Comic Within A Comic The Mighty Virus has a superheroic virus colony, complete with a cape hanging off of its flying environment globe.
  • Valérian has alien species ranging from simple Rubber-Forehead Aliens to things that definitely belong in this category. Giant, telepathic worm-things? Gelatinous shape-shifting prostitutes? Jellyfish-like mammalian math geniuses? And that's just the species that are categorized as people; the "animals" are even weirder. No wonder the creators have published a whole book dedicated just to their aliens.
  • Top 10's Vigilante from Venus is a giant worm/insect/jellyfish nightmare in her true form. No wonder she poses as a Green-Skinned Space Babe to make adult films — although some of her porn work involved her natural form.
  • Empowered has (at least) one race of them. They're huge (their liver weighs 700 kilograms alone!), have three eyes, and their veins seem to be on the outside of their bodies.
  • The Mellenares from Dynamo Joe. Microscopic unicellular organisms that form colonies of variable but typically huge size. Those colonies can take shapes taken from the nightmares of the races they fight, have a metallic look and resemble more Humongous Mecha and spaceships than living beings, are able to live and travel under their own power in interstellar space and can generate huge amounts of energy by unknown means to power their space travel and Wave Motion Gun.

    Comic Strips 
  • Aliens in The Far Side are usually depicted as semi-humanoid blobby creatures with numerous tentacles with eyes on the ends growing out of their bodies. They're almost invariably huge, capture humans like bugs (to which they are the size of), and speak random gibberish (unless understanding what they say is necessary for the joke).
  • Many of the aliens Spaceman Spiff encounters over the course of Calvin and Hobbes.

    Fan Works 
  • Eugenesis goes into some detail about the Quintesson (See Western Animation below), and their origins. Since they're neither fully organic or fully mechanical, they aren't born in the traditional sense, and tend to be born via budding. Mention is made of some of the original Quintessons being rolled like dough from Unicron's surface.

    Pinballs 

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Hivers of Traveller are vaguely starfish-like aliens with nonhuman physiologies, biologies, psychologies, society, and which reproduce by budding. Considered a challenge to role-play. Despite the name, they are not a Hive Mind, nor are they Bee People. The tag "hivers" was hung on them by a human who thought their buildings looked like beehives.
  • Star Frontiers:
    • The worm/salamander-like Syllix, the insectoid centaur Vrusk, and various other species, as well as the Kliks and ke'kekt from their other sci-fi property Star Drive.
    • Yazirians are arguably Petting Zoo People, but the Sathar and Dralasites might fit. Sathar are sentient, humanoid invertebrates who seem to be a human - sized cross between an earthworm and a squid, and due to their nonhuman psychology are an NPC-only race. Dralasites have surprisingly humanlike personalities but are physically the strangest of all, being fully sapient amoeba-like multicellular organisms, and reproducing by budding.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Tyranids are a Horde of Alien Locusts with an endless series of bizarre forms and even more bizarre Living Weaponry. The creatures aren't actually individual beings, but instead mere extensions of the collosal single organism that is the Nid's Hive Mind; when separated from it, a Tyranid creature becomes a mindless animal.
    • Orks look like, well, Orcs at first glance, but are actually closer to sapient, humanoid fungi. They reproduce through spores, are missing several organs vital to most species, are mildly photosynthetic, and every orkoid creature - from the tiny Gretchin to the collossal Squiggoth - are all technically the same species.
    • Many species that serve the Tau Empire, including the Kroot and the insectoid Vespid. The Kroot are especially strange, as they evolve by consuming the flesh (and genetics) of other species, assimilating and collecting their traits to direct themselves towards a particular path. The entire animal ecosystem of their homeworld Pech is composed of nothing but Kroot derivatives.
    • Medusae, an HQ choice for the Dark Eldar, are parasitic creatures that resemble a "collection of brains and spinal cords that are stacked on one another" and use emotional trauma as a weapon.
    • The saruthi from Eisenhorn are at home in Alien Geometries, have no symmetry, and move in ways that make the title character physically ill just to look at. However they may not have started out this way, as they've spent millennia being corrupted by an Artifact of Doom.
    • The background material lists several not seen in any armies, such as the Thyrrus, which resemble more pulsating bags of meat and tentacles than anything else, and the Umbra, which are essentially black orbs filled with goo, and are suggested to be simply "parts" of a larger interdimensional creature.
    • The Enslavers are Emotion Eaters from the warp, who get their name from their habit of taking over the mind of a psyker and tearing it open to create a portal its brethren can use to spread. They are not The Heartless like most warp beings, created in the first days of Chaos during the war between the C'tan and the Old Ones, and were so nasty they caused both races to pull a Screw This, I'm Outta Here!.
    • The Hrud, who are apparently evolved from a worm-like creatures, resemble a set of interconnected spines in a vaguely humanoid shape. They can "walk" more or less vertically on two of these spines, use the other two as arms, are relatively pacifistic until disturbed (they usually infest lower levels of the imperial hive cities) and have a very advanced and enlightened religion that worship a deity, parts of which might be the aforementioned Umbra. That's not even touching on the entropic fields they generate, which rapidly age everything around them.
  • The only humanoid aliens from the boardgame/rpg Battlestations are the humans.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The 3.5 Edition supplement "Lords of Madness" describes aliens of forms various and sundry. These include: the Aboleth, hermaphrodite catfish/eel/squid spawn of the Far Realm with Genetic Memory; Illithidae, a genus of creatures related to the iconic mind flayers, a group that includes gigantic, pulsing, psionic brains and the deceptively innocuous mind flayer larvae; Tsochari, a parasitic lifeform from a cold and distant planet who enter and control the bodies and minds of spellcasters for some sinister purpose; the Silthilar, an ancient race of wizard-scientists who have transformed themselves into hive-minded swarms in response to a particularly virulent magical plague; and the Beholderkin, insane levitating spheres with many eyes in disturbing places.
      • It also includes the "Fleshwarper", a prestige class which allows one to acquire traits from such creatures, eventually undergoing a transformation into a minor Eldritch Abomination.
    • Other D&D examples include many, if not most, extraplanar creatures. Most elemental entities (with the possible exception of genies) would qualify, as do most Outer Planes denizens.
    • Most of the Alluria Publications "Remarkable Races" series for 4th Edition are humanly comprehensible and fairly easy to play, but the Squole and Relluk ... sentient oozes who only have personalities because they're imitating the fact that humans do and reproduction-obsessed ancient robots ... yeah.
  • The Migou from CthulhuTech. Semi-fungoid, hyperintelligent insects who don't feel human emotions...except, of course, for the "fear-born genocidal hatred of anything that looks like it could be half as advanced as they are" part. Actually, scratch that. It's an insult to human assholes everywhere.
  • GURPS: Space spends quite some time on how to design really weird aliens. The starfishiest designs are the various "exotica" such as living nebulae or sentient magnetic fields.
  • Eclipse Phase features the Factors, sentient creatures that evolved from something resembling slime mold. It also features the Exhumans, humans who have effectively turned themselves into Starfish Aliens through radical modifications. EP specifically advises that if you're creating a new alien race, you should keep them alien, rather than just Rubber-Forehead Aliens. There are enough rubber foreheads among the transhuman population as it is.
  • Teenagers from Outer Space divides aliens into Near Humans, Not Very Near Humans, and Real Weirdies.
  • Flumphs in Pathfinder are silly-looking intelligent floating jellyfish monsters from the Dark Tapestry (outer space, with Cosmic Horror Story influences). Unlike many Dark Tapestry creatures, flumphs are friendly to terrestrial life. Brethedans are large, intelligent floating creatures that resemble a cross between a blimp and a jellyfish, native to gas giant worlds. They don't favor technology, but can reshape their physiology to meet the demands of different situations.
  • The Exalted shard Heaven's Reach has the Kranix, who are described as a hard-shelled octopus. In classical Exalted, the demons known as agatae are enormous, incredibly beautiful rainbow wasps with inhuman mentalities.
  • Starfleet Battles features (in addition to all the starfish aliens that could be found in TOS and TAS — but not the movies or later series) the Hydrans as a major race. They are a three-armed, three-legged, three-gendered methane breathers — though they are surprisingly human-like in thought and society despite that (and in Starfleet Command the universal translator outputs their speech with a plummy British accent).
  • The Metisians of Rocket Age are six tentacled, 'brain in a jar' style aliens who reproduce entirely by cloning.
  • All of the aliens of 2300 AD have strange biology that explains why they act as they do, from the adrenaline-junky Proud Warrior Race to the bizzarre Plant Aliens.

    Theatre 
  • The 2008 European live tour of The Rocky Horror Show- ie, a fully staged live performance, not just the movie and Audience Participation- had this as a twist ending. Riff Raff and Magenta reappear toward the end as twelve-foot-tall monstrosities with human upper bodies mounted on long robes concealing God-only-knew what, thus making their (and Frank's) human appearances throughout the rest of the show nothing more than A Form You Are Comfortable With. This opens up all kinds of new implications about Frank's addiction to human sex, his building a human, the declaration that "[his] lifestyle's too extreme", and Riff and Magenta's eagerness to return to their home planet.
  • Little Shop of Horrors gives us the unforgettable "Audrey II" as the Big Bad. Audrey II is a talking, singing Plant Alien resembling a Venus flytrap on steroids. It reproduces and spreads by producing pods to colonize planets, and it can see and hear perfectly fine despite having no visible eyes or ears. Oh, and it needs blood to survive. Lots of blood. Because of this, Audrey II is entirely inimical toward humanity, yet it also displays strong interpersonal skills, manipulating its human pawns through its sassy, smooth-talking charm.

    Web Comics 
  • The tentacled creatures of Ghastly's Ghastly Comic.
  • Under his Mobile-Suit Human(oid) exterior, Sam Starfall of Freefall is a tentacular alien described as vaguely like an octopus, a lungfish, and a lamprey. The sight of his body tends to cause vomiting, blank incomprehension, or delirious Brain Bleach mode, though readers are spared the experience.
    Sam: Don't let the chromatophores fool you. I exist in only three dimensions and I have a certificate saying so.
  • While the Walkyverse's native Purple Aliens and permanently imported Melotians and Zinoboppians are classic diminutive humanoids (even though the Aliens are quite monstruous under their armor), the Martians are enormous tentacled monstrosities best described as a cross between a mantis and an octopus.
  • Unicorn Jelly:
    • The universe itself. It has no atoms, but a set number of "tratons", that are "polihedral forms made of dimensional energy", as opposed to our spheres of mass surrounded by energy. The tratons cannot be transformed into one another, and there is a set number of each, from the start to the end of the times. When the humans arrived, in an event that may or may not have destroyed our universe, their matter was "translated" into the closest possible alternative, but since it wasn't exactly equal, they need constant doses of a plant/animal, quite strange on itself, called Vlax. Also, the gravity equivalent pulls from space, rather than from matter, so there's an absolute up and down (walk to the other side of the world and you fall into space, etc). An object sufficiently large stops being affected by it, so they have "worldplates" that are large, plain, triangular worlds, arranged in triangular patterns that make them look like a recursive Triforce, but it gets weird when you look at the 3-D model. It also has the "finite yet unbound" thing our universe has (we think), that if you walk too far in one direction you end up coming back home from the other side. Including falling so far down that you pop up from above. And therefore, when the humans destroyed one of the worlds, the pieces stopped being immune to gravity, fell, and destroyed further worlds, creating an ever-growing pillar of debris that is eventually going to engulf the entire universe. It will eventually settle and reform in the triangular worldplates again, as shown by an aeons-old relic from an obviously non-human nor local civilization.
    • Humans themselves are starfish aliens. When the smartest girl ever born there finds some ancient astronomical charts from our world, she finds out that they had come from a universe "dominated by the geometry of the sphere", and deduces that "The society must have been terribly hierarchical, with the rich and powerful dominating the top of the world-domes, and the poor dammed to live in the slippery end, where the lose of life to the curvature of the world must have been a constant dread. This world must have been like a paradise to them, with endless extensions of safe, plain land."
    • The Crystal Dodo and the Dodofruit Domes. Each worldplate has exactly 303 Crystal Dodos, each living in a patch with 303 Dodofruit Domes each. Unless humans arrive and kill some of course. Both are immortal, incapable of reproduction, and the Dodo goes around its patch, eating only the topmost fruit of each one and leaving. By the time it goes back, the fruit has grown back. Sounds nice? The Dodo is a mindless pair of legs with a mouth between them. It moves the exact number of steps between each Dome, eats the fruit, and starts walking again, forever. No two Dodos overlap each other's path, and all the native creatures instinctively avoid these areas, even the sentient Jellys, though the Dodo has no mind, no sensorial organs at all, and no possible means of defending itself. It's a fruit eating automathon. As of the Domes, they are highly intelligent and sentient beings, though incapable of reacting to its various and delicate sensorial inputs. And the fruits are actually highly sensitive eyes.
    • The crystal basilisks don't have musculature, they walk by growing new legs in front, moving them down their bodies, and then breaking them off at the back. As awkward as it sounds, they're a fast, dangerous apex predator, and very dangerous to humans. They reproduce by injecting their prey with self-assembling crystals, which eat them from the inside out.
  • Schlock Mercenary has a fair few, although also plenty of Rubber-Forehead Aliens and everything in between. The titular Schlock is perhaps the best example, being an 'amorph' that is frequent described as looking like (and being mistaken for) a pile of crap.
  • Aliens in Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire range from fairly humanoid to extradimensional beings who can't even be percieved by, let alone communicate with, humans. A special place is reserved for the Uligb, who exist in 13½ dimensions and love popsicles. Which they stuff and mount. They also look a little like the bastard son of a jellyfish and a Klein bottle, with clusters of eyes added to the mix. Another particularly weird one is the Teleporter, who more or less looks like a whole bunch of free-floating hexagonal windows, with pale hands coming out of almost all of them, and a dopey, buggy-eyed head coming out of the last one, and believes a species hasn't achieved true intelligence until it can teleport whole planets around. A sidebar about how every alien species has ninjas included a line about how the ninjas of one species kept wiping out visitors to the alien home world before anyone realized that they weren't just an ordinary mountain range.
  • Except for a one-strip crossover with Zeera the Space Pirate, all of the aliens in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! have been shown to be nonhumanoid, at least in their true forms. These include the Pirates of Ipecac, who resemble three-eyed lobsters; the Fleenians, who are rubber-limbed centaurs with giant eyeballs for heads; and Ahem, who resembles a three-legged jellyfish. The butterfly-like Nemesites such as Princess Voluptua and Fructose Riboflavin frequently use shapeshifting technology to appear human, however.
  • Aylee (short for "alien", natch) from Sluggy Freelance started as an obvious Alien homage, but periodically mutates in an ongoing attempt to adapt to the alien (for her) terrestrial environment. Each form is radically different, and some are dramatically non-human.
  • The Action Hero's Handbook: the chapter on communicating with extra terrestrials assumes that any aliens you're lucky (or unlucky) enough to encounter would be these, but holds out the hope that they would still be able to recognize concepts like numbers and shapes. (The book reasons that any life form capable of the level of technology necessary for interstellar travel would at least have the alien equivalent of astrophysics.)
  • The original Lovecraftian Starfish aliens make an appearance in Ow, my sanity.
  • In Spacetrawler, most of the aliens are humanoid or based off some Earth animal, but there are a few more unusual specimens: Krep is a quadruped and has six tentacles on his face for manipulating objects. Luunock resembles a cross between a caterpillar and a venus fly trap. And a bartender who shows up for only one page has arms growing out of his mouth.
  • The aliens from Anna Galactic, also by Christopher Baldwin, are even weirder. There's a lot of wild speculation from the human protagonists about whether their attempts to communicate are having any effect at all.
  • The Main Cast of Deep Rise are this.
  • in Captain Ufo most aliens are humanoid in one way or another, however among the background characters you can spot some of these; among others, a guy who looks like a Hutt with dreadlocks, a green blob with tentacles and eight eyes, a worm-like alien with four arms (he's one of the judge in the trial scene at the beginning of season two) and the Orokanais, who look like vending machines.

    Web Original 
  • The story Three Worlds Collide features two alien species designed to be radically different from humans. One of them is sentient silicon-based, and has evolved a reproductive mechanism involving spawning billions of extra young and eating most of them (whilst semi-sentient) - as such their concept of 'good' literally translated as 'eating babies'. The second are powerfully hedonistic tentacles for whom pretty much everything evolutionarily advantageous is extremely pleasurable. They introduce themselves with a video they created featuring themselves in a childbirth-related porn film, repeatedly putting a baby back in to a woman; The story deals with the ethics of interaction with these two alien species.
  • All Orion's Arm aliens, as a rule. The To'ul'h look like headless bats but are anatomically closer to starfish, perceive the world through echolocation, and are native to a Venus-like world with very high temperatures and atmospheric pressures. They're considered very close to humanity for xenospohonts by virtue of being carbon-based beings with two sexes from a rocky world close to its sun. The truly alien aliens include the Muuh, extremely ancient, vaguely arthropodal aliens from very cold worlds whose bodies would largely melt in terrestrial environments; the Meistersingers, intelligent trees who use symbiotic animal-like beings as manipulator organs and live in massive space fleets migrating away from the galactic core; and what are essentially living "knots" in the surfaces of neutron stars that exist on extremely fast timescales, have a society completely incomprehensible to terragens, and see the rest of the universe as just a set of interesting mathematical equations.
  • Snaiad is an ongoing xenobiology project by Nemo Ramjet which covers the biosphere of a fictional extrasolar planet as catalogued by human colonists. A short list of the differences between Snaiadi and Terran vertebrates: Their skeletons are carbon-based rather than calcium based (making fossils rather hard to find, and bones an excellent source of fuel); a portion of their musculature structures are hydraulic instead of contractile, i.e. they push instead of pull; they have two heads, one for eating and one for reproduction; and a number of aquatic species move by way of biological jet engines, a quality they share with Earth octopuses, though still unique as far as vertebrates go. Front legs are optional.
  • The Fiddlers from Spots the Space Marine.
  • Alpha Centaurians in The Pentagon War are shaped like a cross between xorns from Dungeons & Dragons and R2-D2 from Star Wars. They have muscle-powered wheels in their feet, a 360 degree eye stalk, and four mouths spaced evenly below and between their four shoulders.
  • In Pay Me, Bug!, Ktk is described as a 2.5 meter hermaphroditic centipede, with three prehensile tails that are each strong enough to wield a person like a club.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • Based on data retrieved from an alien CD, the designers are fundamentally different to humans (for example, taste is their primary sense, and electromagnetism is lethal to them). Also, we are starfish aliens to them.
    • SCP-163, which is cylindrical, has 8 legs, 4 pairs of arms with different functions and a single compound eye with 360 degree field of vision that sees mainly in ultraviolet. It's also one of the more harmless SCPs and clearly homesick.
    • SCP-1701, a race of sentient naturally-occurring nuclear reactors with a mathematic language whose society primarily consisted of philosophical debates. Somewhat subverted as said reactors evolved and went extinct here on earth many millenia ago.
  • S T R A N G E R S is a sort of catalog of starfish critters: the eponymous strangers have no bones, brains or other internal organs, yet behave like living things. When dissected, they're revealed to be either hollow or stuffed with random objects and substances, such as calligraphy ink and various trash. The information page openly states that no one understands exactly how these creatures work or why they exist in the first place.
  • In Afterlife Labirynth, other races and even humans in many worlds have for example three hands, three legs and three tentacles in place of ears.

    Western Animation 
  • Some of the aliens encountered in 3-2-1 Penguins! include sapient vacuum cleaners, pumpkin-headed children, light bulbs with arms and legs who communicate with clicking and beeping sounds, darts who constantly lie, spring necked lawn flamingos, and ear lobes with arms and legs whose vocabulary consists of one word.
  • In Alienators: Evolution Continues, the Animated Adaptation sequel to the movie Evolution, the Genus aliens become literal starfish-like creatures when hit by a devolution ray.
  • The twist of the two-episode Batman Beyond story "The Call" is that a (literal) starfish alien is controlling Superman. In fact, the entire plot came about because the alien just wanted to go home and it couldn't communicate with Superman to explain where that was or even that it was a sentient being. So it took matters into its own...arms...
  • Ben 10:
  • Futurama:
    • Dr. Zoidberg may look humanoid now, but while going through his developmental stages, he resembled various deep-sea creatures. Likewise, the humanoid Kif Kroker started life as a tadpole, and will eventually age into a swarm of flying hookworms. And both species reproduce rather differently than humans.
    • The Horrible Gelatinous Blob is probably the most frequently appearing example in the show, outside of Zoidberg and Kif, as described above.
    • Fry once got infected with civilized gut-worms, who were rather friendly and improved his body and mind drastically.
    • The Spherons, a species of ball-shaped aliens from "War is the H-Word". They move around by bouncing, and despite lacking mouths (or any visible facial features), they can talk to humans.
    • One episode involved the Trisolians, a race of liquid aliens that look like anthropomorphic blobs made of water. Fry accidentally consumed their emperor by drinking him from a cup.
    • The anime segment of the "Reincarnation" episode had a race of mouthless aliens that could only communicate with body language.
  • While plenty of aliens in Invader Zim are humanoid, including the title character, there are also plenty that fit this trope, ranging from Energy Beings that resemble amoeba to a floating purple cone with a face.
  • Though packed with humanoids, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited also showed a few non-humanoid aliens, mainly as background characters.
  • The Men in Black cartoon series kept up the traditions of the film.
  • The animated miniseries Red Planet, a reworking of the Robert A. Heinlein novel, had "bouncers", sentients the size of soccer balls, and the "locals" of New Aries. They are actually the same race. The bouncers are the juveniles and the locals are the adults.
  • The Secret Show has the Impostors, which look like fly maggots with a red cycloptic eye, speak a Starfish Language, and have a specialized queen. Somehow, they're pretty advanced in technology too.
  • The Simpsons has Kang and Kodos, beings of the planet Rigel VII (or Rigel IV), are giant, green, fang-bearing, one-eyed octopuses who wear large glass helmets. Their few humanizing aspects include speaking a language that coincidentally sounds just like English.
  • The titular creatures from Skywhales. Ironically they resemble rays much more than they do actual whales.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series took advantage of being animated by introducing several non-humanoid aliens: Arex, the three-armed Edosian navigator; the Vendorians, shapeshifting giant squid things that took both the form and personalities of people they shifted into; the Phylosians, Plant Aliens; the snail-like Lacterns. And several minor ones, like the pillbug-like Em/3/Green, known as a Nasat in the Expanded Universe. In a strange inversion of live-action, the Filmation's animators found starfish aliens (especially those with no pesky arms or legs) to be much easier and less tribble - er, trouble to animate than human beings.
  • In Steven Universe, it's zigzagged. Gems are a race of mineral life who're "born" humanoid, but their bodies are just projections from their Gems. Thanks to this, they can temporarily shapeshift; though it always shares their natural color scheme. They are The Ageless and only "die" when their gems are shattered. They don't reproduce naturally; rather, gems are artificially created underground and molded to have certain characteristics, like a larger mass for their light-body (but remaining too long in incubation can reverse this and cause their own form of dwarfism). In addition, Gems are able to fuse together and the more gems that are fused, the less humanoid their projections appear.
  • The Transformers:
    • The energy-based Tornedron, the living planet of Torkulon and its motley inmates, and in the sequel series Beast Wars we got the extradimensional Vok.
    • The Quintessons have diverse body types by caste. Judges have five faces, but no actual 'head', just a balloon-shaped body. They have no arms or legs, and instead get around via hovering on an beam of "energy" at the bottom of their body. If they do need to carry something, they use the thin tentacles that surround the beam of energy Prosecutors and Scientists have similar features but have thicker green tentacles, additionally having only one head on a humanoid torso. Instead of arms, they have at least three thick green tentacles on each "shoulder". Others have more humanoid bodies, but are the exceptions to the rule. In their initial appearance, in Transformers: The Movie, they drag any robotic beings they find (with the exception of Spike Witwicky who was captured for being an Autobot ally) into a courtroom setting and invariably feed them to the Sharkticons, but they never explain why they're putting up with these trials. Later appearances explain that they're just jerks who are still angry that the "theft" of the planet Cybertron during a revolt by the ancestors of the Transformers, whom they built as slaves. They do this by persecuting all robotic beings regardless of whether they originated on Cybertron (e.g.The Transformers) or not (e.g. Kranix, the last survivor of Lithone which was eaten by Unicron at the beginning of the movie).
    • The Transformers themselves are perhaps the limit of how humanoid mainstream aliens can be - Mechanical Lifeforms about ten times our size who can reconfigure their bodies at will to mimic machinery. Most of them happen to have two arms, two legs, and a head, but they sure as heck don't look human. And "most" doesn't mean "all"; there are some Transformers that lack humanoid robot modes, e.g. Decepticon cassette tapes Ravage and Laser Beak and Autobot Sky Lynx who is a space shuttle that turns into a giant prehistoric bird (the "Sky" part and a giant cat (the "Lynx" part), both bodies being equally 'him' whether working together or in two entirely different places. G1 Reflector was three largely identical beings in one alt mode (a camera). It's unclear how separate their personalities are.
  • The Walt Disney Presents special "Mars & Beyond" has all sorts of bizarre takes on the possibility of alien life, some silly and others less so.
  • Played with in Wander over Yonder. All alien races have unique looks, but most have a similar biology to Earthlings: they have flesh and organ bodies and human senses and needs (physical and psychological), they communicate mainly in verbal languages with body language to express emotions, and most are designed off of earth creatures/things/attributes. All shown speak English and have a human-based culture (usually western). The biology gets wonky when there are balloon animal aliens and eyeball-for-a-head aliens somehow eating and speaking.

    Real Life 
  • In mental terms, this article reflects upon the profoundly alien possibilities extrapolated from our own minds, while breaking down each factor that could possibly make alien minds different from human minds.
  • Scientist speculate that life may exist on Jupiter's moon Europa where there may be a sea under the ice. If they do, they'll probably live very deep down, surviving off geothermal energy. Thus, they would possibly look similar to Earth's own deep sea creatures, which evolves in one of the most extreme environments on Earth, with very little sunlight, nearly no photosynthesis and extremes in pressure and cold. This radical difference from any other environment on Earth creates very alien forms of life that simply cannot exist elsewhere.
  • Scientists constantly discuss the limits of where life could develop, but the reality is that those limits only apply to the kind of life we're used to. Technically, as long as there is enough chemical diversity as well as an energy gradient, there is the potential for what could be defined as life, regardless of temperature, specific chemical environment, or gravity. This could mean some really bizarre lifeforms are waiting out there.
  • Related to the former entry are those hypothetical lifeforms (or life that adapted itself to those conditions) that could exist in the very far future, if the Universe kept expanding forever, or otherwise collapsed on a Big Crunch, though this scenario seems to be unlikely.
    • For the ever expanding Universe there will be a time in which there's little more than electrons, positrons, photons, and neutrinos. With just that, whatever could exist by then would very likely be something very large and diffuse, that would alternate short periods of very low activity with long ones in hibernation, even living forevernote 
    • Contrariwise in the Big Crunch scenario, something that was able to adapt to the extreme densities and temperatures existing just before the final collapse would have so much available energy that would operate so fast that ''very'' small fractions of second in the outside Universe would mean for it almost an eternity and would have an intellect far beyond anything we can imagine. However, sooner or later it would be prey of both quantum effects and being unable to get rid of waste heat and would die.
  • Some of the smartest animals on our own world are pretty different from humans: great apes are still sort of similar, but dolphins and whales, elephants, crows, parrots and octopi are outside of the rubber forehead range. Counting smart behavior arising from swarms of ants and bees might give us some food for thought.
  • What about a starfish civilization? A species with a far greater understanding of physics that could use that knowledge for literally everything. Not just for things like faster than light travel, but for things like energy usage so efficient that none of it is lost as waste heat. This is one theory for why we have yet to find evidence for advanced aliens: that our ideas about technology and society are so primitive in comparison that we simply have no idea what to look for.
  • Radiotrophic fungi have been found living inside the destroyed reactor #4 at Chernobyl. Also, scientists at Savannah River found a species of extremophile bacteria living *inside a nuclear waste tank*note . The evolutionary adaptations that allow these organisms to survive extreme levels of hard radiation are the same adaptations that allow them to survive dessication.

Alternative Title(s): Starfish Alien

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