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Stranded Invader

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"I'd sent the Saturnites scurrying off to their homeworld in such a hurry they hadn't stopped to pick up all their soldiers, and a few thousand warriors were left on the planet."
Emperor Mollusk, Emperor Mollusk Versus The Sinister Brain, A. Lee Martinez

You're a Proud Warrior Race Guy who has come to a new world to invade and conquer. All pretty standard fare for you and your people.

Except, something has gone very wrong. Maybe your Sufficiently Advanced Technology has crapped out. Maybe you crashed your starship. Maybe it turns out that the people you were planning on conquering are too strong to conquer. Or perhaps they're just too darn friendly, and you've gone native.

Returning to your homeland is impossible. Maybe because, again, your transport is kaput. Or perhaps because your people have a penchant for rewarding failure with a mild case of...death.

Whatever the reason, the once mighty conquerer is now living alongside the locals, though whether quietly or not is entirely up for debate.

Usually played for comedy, but it's not unheard of to play it for drama.

Contrast Invading Refugees.

May overlap with The Remnant, particularly if the invaders in question are continuing to resist their enemies while being stranded, and their original nation or faction has since been disbanded or has surrendered.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z reveals that Goku was sent to Earth to conquer it. But one sharp blow to the head, and he promptly forgot all about it, and grew up as a resident of Earth during the original Dragon Ball.
  • Gundam: There's a subsection of the Gundam fandom that mocks the fact that there have been so many "Zeon remnants" revealed to be still stuck on Earth several decades after their failed invasion during the One Year War.
    • Some games set during the One Year War era (e.g. Mobile Suit Gundam Side Story Rise From The Ashes, Mobile Suit Gundam Zeonic Front) have plot points about Zeon forces trapped on Earth when the bulk of their forces retreat into space. In Zeonic Front, the player characters are one such unit, with the final level being them deciding to make a Last Stand against attacking Federal Forces until both sides hear that a ceasefire has been signed and lay down their arms.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory: a Zeon remnant unit provides valuable support to Anavel Gato's team when they successfully steal the GP02A Gundam, fighting to the last man as they hold off the pursuing Albion Mobile Suit team and buy Gato time to escape into space aboard their only remaining HLV.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ: A Zeon remnant unit led by "Desert" Rommel (stranded on Earth since the OYW when ended 8 years earlier) allies with Haman's Axis forces when they launch an invasion of Earth.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn: A Neo-Zeon revanchist group, the Sleeves, puts out a call to arms to all Zeon remnant units on Earth (armed with obsolete OYW machines) to mass for an attack on Torrington Base (which coincidentally was mostly defended by similarly obsolete Federation MS). This is quite a bit more egregious, since these Zeon remnants have somehow been hiding out on Earth and keeping their war machines operational despite lack of any support for 16 years.
  • Project A-Ko: Capt. Napolipolita and Agent D, of the Leptons of Alpha Cygni, are stranded on Earth, along with the surviving members of the warship's crew, after A-ko and B-ko smash up the ship rescuing C-ko. They try their hand at running a hotel with posh restaurant, and later a theme park using the remnants of the ship, but all their ventures are destroyed in the crossfire between A-ko and B-ko over whatever petty argument the two are engaged in at that particular moment.
  • Sgt. Frog: A race of alien frogs send an advance team to scout Earth (or as they call it, "Pekopon") for invasion. However, the would-be invaders are quickly discovered, and their superiors write off the invasion as a lost cause, abandoning Keroro and his team on Earth to live with the Hinata family.
  • Squid Girl: The eponymous character came to the surface world to conquer it in revenge for humans polluting the ocean. However, due to a serious miscalculation in just how many humans there are, and what they're capable of, she hasn't got a chance at completing her invasion. Then she smashes the wall at the Lemon Beach Shack, and ends up having to work for the Aizawa sisters, Eiko and Chizuru, to pay off her debt. To make matters worse for Squid Girl, when she does try to take Eiko, and her little brother Takeru hostage, Chizuru demonstrates that she's a force to be reckoned with.

    Comic Books 
  • Captain Marvel (Marvel Comics): The superhero Captain Mar-Vell was originally sent to Earth as a spy for the interstellar Kree Empire, but after he got caught on the wrong side of a Kree power struggle, he defected and adopted Earth as his new home.
  • Donjon Parade: The side story "Grogro Technique" stars Grogro (a childish but huge Big Eater) as the subject of a prophecy by the hypermenorreans, a race of nomadic duck-people who believe a pelean (Grogro's species, as it turns out) will cause their doom. They decide to use Grogro to find the home of the peleans and exterminate them before the prophecy can happen, which turns out to be a frozen island in the middle of nowhere. Once there, they realize that the buildings have all been abandoned for centuries, start rejoicing that there was nothing to fear... and then Grogro gets bored and leaves on their flying mounts. All of them. The last we see of the hypermenorreans is them giving each other Oh, Crap! looks as they start shivering.
  • Fantastic Four:
    • After the FF defeated a group of Skrulls, Reed gave them the option of returning to their homeworld in defeat, which would be a guaranteed death for failure, or take the form of terrestrial animals and have their memories erased so they'd forget being Skrulls. They were transformed into cows. This had unintended consequences later, as the Skrull-cows intermingled with other cows, creating hybrids, and were also put in the milking line and some sent straight to the slaughterhouse, where they entered the national food supply.
    • The Silver Surfer came to Earth as a herald of his master Galactus, who intended to devour the planet. After Sue Storm convinces him to change sides, he turns against Galactus, who punishes the Surfer by making him unable to leave Earth. It took several years before this situation changed.
  • Marvel: The Lost Generation: Velmax was part of a Skrull team sent to spy on Earth, decades before the debut of the Fantastic Four, who got stranded here and had to disguise himself as a human to get by. He eventually decided he liked the Earth, became the shape-shifting superhero Effigy for many years (without telling anyone he was an alien, mind you), and ultimately sacrificed his life to protect Earth from his own people when they came to invade.
  • The Transformers (IDW): Post The Transformers: All Hail Megatron, several Decepticons find themselves stranded on Earth after the Decepticon retreat, with some like Thrust being hunted down and killed by vengeful humans. While some of them ally with humans (e.g. the Predacons ally with the People's Republic of China while the Combaticons work with North Korea), others are captured by the human organisation Skywatch.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In "The Quest for Kalevala", the witch Louhi summons the monster Iku-Turso to once again lay waste to Finland. However, once they arrive in Helsinki, the two are confused by the 20th-century city they find, having expected a bunch of frightened villagers living in huts. Donald, who hitched a ride, steals Louhi's magic harp and lures Iku-Turso back into the sea, leaving the witch stranded and being forced to panhandle for food.

    Films — Animated 
  • Battle for Terra has pilot Jim Stanton conduct a raid on the peaceful citizens of the planet Terra, seeking to assess whether this planet is habitable. Terra's atmosphere is too thick for humans, as the Terrans can "swim" in the stuff to get around. The humans aboard the huge spaceship are the last of their kind, after a horrible war between Earth against its colonies on Mars and Venus. Worse, the human spacecraft has become almost derelict from spacefaring so long without a supply source, so it's Terra or extinction for them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Coneheads: Beldar and Prymaat are stranded on Earth while doing a recon before an invasion by Remulak. During the intervening years they have a daughter and raise her on Earth. When the time comes for an actual invasion, Beldar finds he cannot go through with it, and feigns being shot down by non-existent defense satellites, opting to stay on Earth with his family, instead.
  • District 9: This is theorized in-universe as one reason the Prawns may have come to Earth. They supposedly came here to invade, but the ruling caste mysteriously died out, leaving the warrior caste (Prawns) directionless and stranded on the planet.

  • Animorphs: After the end of the war, some of the tens of thousands of Yeerks who are now prisoners of war are given the opportunity to become nothlits in lieu of traveling all the way back to the Yeerk homeworld. The Taxxons on Earth also took this option, becoming anacondas to escape their Horror Hunger. The free Hork-Bajir are more akin to escaped slaves, but they also show no inclination to return to their home planet, living in national parks instead as they eat tree bark.
  • Callahan's Crosstime Saloon by Spider Robinson. In the opening story "The Guy With the Eyes", the titular "guy" is an undercover alien spy scouting out Earth to see if it is suitable for an alien invasion. However, after ending up in the titular Callahan's Saloon he has a change of heart, reveals himself and asks the patrons to kill him because that would be the only way the telepathic transmitter in his head can be stopped from sending up the his report that Earth is indeed ready to conquer. However, when he reveals his name to be "Mickey Finn" Callahan gets the clue and just slips him a drink laced with knockout drops so the alien is knocked out and unable to send his message. His Alien Overlords now assuming he has been captured and killed, Mickey Finn is now "free". He becomes a regular at Callahan's and in at least one more story prevents another alien race from taking over Earth. Eventually he marries Callahan's daughter Mary.
  • Discworld: It's mentioned that Ankh-Morpork has been repeatedly conquered by barbarian invaders, but the city's mercantile spirit is such that said invaders assimilate very quickly until they're just another ethnic minority, complete with their own food shops and gang graffiti.
  • Emperor Mollusk Versus The Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez has the eponymous Emperor Mollusk relate a story of how he had repelled an invasion by Saturnites so quickly that a few thousand of their advanced troops got left on Earth. Not being truly hostile, the remaining Saturnites went into various careers like police officers or manual labor (being large rock men). Mollusk concludes this narrative by stating that the Saturnite bag boy has just crushed his eggs.
  • Watership Down. Several members of the Efrafan Owsla surrender after the expedition launched by General Woundwort to attack Watership Down comes to grief. Turns out that's the safer course, given that many of the rabbits who chose to head back to Efrafa end up dead. Hazel-rah ensures they assimilate into the warren peacefully, and the two warrens end up working together to establish other warrens, so it eventually becomes a moot point as to which warren your family comes from.
  • Wulfrik: Wulfrik uses the Seafang to teleport a Norscan army to Wisborg deep in Imperial territory, nominally under Sveinbjorn's leadership. This allows him to insult Sveinbjorn with (even more) impunity, since the other captains point out that without Wulfrik they can't return home (whereas Sveinbjorn is eminently disposable, and no one likes him to boot). Sveinbjorn's plan was to load up the Seafang with most of the loot (promising Wulfrik's crew a quarter of the loot), and cut the ships loose while in the Warp, but Wulfrik alters the plan by promising his crew the entirety of the loot, arranging for an Imperial army to come to Wisborg, and cutting the ships' ropes while the Seafang goes into the Warp (while flying Sveinbjorn's banner). The result is that the stranded Norscans will have to fight their way back home, and any survivors will attribute the double betrayal to Sveinbjorn.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Terror of the Zygons", the titular Zygon ship crashed on earth several hundred years earlier. Unable to fix their ship with earth's primitive technology the Zygon crew were initially content to hide out until a rescue emerged, but upon making contact with their race discovered their home planet had been destroyed. Thus they decided to wipe out humanity and thus make the earth a suitable new home for their race.
    • Blon Fel Fotch Passmeer Day Slitheen had spent so much time living on Earth as a human that, as The Doctor points out, she's forgotten that there was a woman named Margaret Blaine whom she killed and impersonated, wearing the dead woman's skin as her own. It's a bit of an aversion, though, as while she no longer wants to destroy the Earth for starship fuel, she's perfectly willing to trigger an Earth-Shattering Kaboom in order to use a piece of Sufficiently Advanced Technology to coast home on the shockwave.
  • Ghosts (US): Thorfinn was a Proud Warrior Race Guy who is always talking about how much he enjoyed massacring people (especially the Danish). He was part of a Viking expedition to North America, when his friends left without him, leaving him to wander the Hudson Valley alone until he was struck by lightning.
  • Played for Laughs in Resident Alien. "Harry's" xenophobic people sent him as an advance scout to wipe out life on Earth for them, but things went haywire, he crashed his ship in middle of nowhere Colorado, and he lacks the resources to get back. Much of the show's comedy comes from his horrible attempts to blend in and his annoyance at how much he is Going Native.
  • The Ultra Series have plenty of alien invaders. Some of them are hostile, some of them are friendly, and some of them are just.... this trope.
    • While Alien Mates from Return of Ultraman isn't an invader, per se, his job being a "Space Inspector" tasked with observing planets, Mates however gets badly affected with Earth's pollution, lose contact with his UFO and is stranded on our planet for years unable to go home. He ends up adopting an orphaned human child while searching for his UFO, but this story isunfortunately has a Downer Ending when Mates' identity as an alien is exposed and he's killed by a human policeman as result of Fantastic Racism.
    • Alien Chadabin from Ultraman Dyna originally came to Earth to blow it up in order to facilitate a space construction project, believing it to be an empty planet, until he accidentally kills an innocent human and realize earth is inhabited. Out of guilt, Chadabin assume the deceased's identity and forgo the chance to return to his planet, becoming a loving husband and father to the dead man's family and spending the rest of his life as an Earthling.
    • The inhabitants of the Nebula House from Ultraman X, consisting of an Alien Icarus, and Alien Nackle and an Alien Valkie are originally agents sent by their race with plans to conquer Earth, but after realizing Earth is under Ultraman X's protection and that previous aliens had failed, decide to stay put. They end up losing contact with their superiors and eventually remains on earth in their human disguises, assuming normal human jobs while sharing a rented apartment together.
    • Ultraman Orb reveals that their version of Earth has plenty of alien invaders living among humans, all of them who got stranded after botched invasions one way or another. Notably, there's an alternate version of Commander Black, who ends up becoming a diner owner after a thwarted invasion, and is famous among humans and aliens alike for his delicious coffee.
    • Ultraman Taiga continues the trend with numerous failed alien invaders deciding to live their lives out among humans, in human disguises. Notably an Alien Bat who adopts a human name, Seiji Komori with his partner, an Alien Pitt who likewise gave herself a human name, Hitomi Mizuno, forming an Interspecies Romance and deciding to ditch their invasion ideas.
  • V1983. The 1984-85 series starts with the members of the Visitor Resistance in this position—having helped throw their fellow Visitors off the planet, they can hardly leave with them because they're traitors, so they now work at ordinary jobs, still wearing their Latex Perfection masks for budget reasons...ehrm, to fit in with the humans. Martin for instance is working as Donovan's cameraman, while Willie works as a bartender.
  • War of the Worlds (1988): During the 1953 invasion, an alien discovered early that it could meld into a human body, and took over a man named Quinn, adopting his identity. Quinn has been merged with a human for so long that he cannot leave the way other aliens can, and finds himself too adapted to a human lifestyle to want to aid his fellow aliens in completing their invasion, frequently aiding our heroes in fighting them, though usually for his own ends.
  • All of the vampires in What We Do in the Shadows (2019) came to the US with the initial purpose of taking it over, but hundreds of years passed and they couldn't be bothered. This gets them into some trouble when the Baron, to whom they promised the conquest, comes to visit.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The githyanki, a race of psionic Space Pirates from the Astral Plane, once invaded the Death World of Athas, home of the Dark Sun setting. Unfortunately for them, something went wrong — depending on the telling, either their githzerai rivals hit the githyanki with a psionic superweapon that scourged their bodies and minds, or the githyanki's transport was wrecked by the Gray, a planar phenomenon that isolates Athas from the Outer Planes. At any rate, that invasion force became trapped on Athas and devolved into hunched and gaunt creatures simply known as gith, just another band of desert nomads with psychic powers. According to their 4th Edition lore, some Athasian gith still remember their origins and are trying to rebuild their transport so they can get the hell off the planet.
  • Heavy Gear: After the CEF forces were driven off Terra Nova, many of their armies were left behind as they could not be evacuated. The now stranded Earthers then settled in and integrated with the Terra Novans. They then form the New Coalition, composed of former CEF personnel, and Terra Novan refugees.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Ork biology depends on them dying to reproduce by means of spores that eventually grow into more orks. As orks have the genetic knowledge to build guns, vehicles and even starships, it means a world hit by orks is never completely free, though fortunately disposing of the corpses with fire greatly slows the rate of infestation.
    • Catachan, a Death World covered entirely in Hungry Jungle, hosts some organisms such as the Catachan Devil that are theorized to be the remains of a Tyranid swarm that invaded the planet in the distant past, millennia before the known Hive Fleets reached the galaxy. Similarly, the freezing death world of Fenris has Kraken that are suspected of being another ancient Tyranid vanguard organism.

    Video Games 
  • Crypto from the Destroy All Humans! game series was sent to Earth on a mission to harvest human brains to keep the Furons' bank of cloning DNA well-stocked. While in the first game he had nothing but contempt for humanity, the second game onward has him develop an appreciation for human pop culture and Earth women to the point where Pox accuses him of Going Native in Path of the Furon. While he is still perfectly fine with killing humans for fun and profit, it gets to the point where he becomes reluctant at the thought of leaving.
  • Subverted or played straight, depending on who's being asked, in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. General Tullius isn't in Skyrim to invade or conquer it, technically speaking; Skyrim is part of the Tamrielic Empire, and he's there on the Emperor's orders to keep it from seceding as part of its civil war. From the point of view of those who support the Imperials, he's there on business. But if someone supports the Stormcloaks, they see him as interfering in the Nords' right to break away from the empire and tend to their own needs. If you join the Imperial side in the war, after it's over, Tullius remarks that he's decided to stay in Skyrim even though he's no longer needed because he has come to love the country and has great respect for its people, even the ones who don't like him very much.
  • The ISA in Killzone 3. They invaded Helghan to arrest Scolar Visari, but with his assassination they are left trapped by the forces of the planet, with much of the story of the game being an attempt to finally escape.
  • Happens to Fecto Elfilis, the Ultimate Life Form and the Big Bad of Kirby and the Forgotten Land. In the distant past, it invaded the New World and attempted to destroy the biosphere until it was subdued and forcibly captured by a team of researchers. Those researchers proceeded to keep it safe and secure in Lab Discovera, where they experimented on Elfilis until a Freak Lab Accident split it apart, causing the newly separated "Fecto Forgo" to fall into a comatose state. It is Forgo's subconscious desire to become whole again and escape the laboratory that drives the entire plot.
  • Starcraft: After the Brood War ends with the UED Expeditionary Fleet destroyed by the Zerg Swarm, the remnants are stranded in the Koprulu Sector and are either in hiding, fighting as mercenaries (such as the Spartan Company), or indoctrinated in the Terran Dominion (with Lt. Rosa Morales as an example).
  • XCOM: Chimera Squad takes place 25 years after a successful alien invasion resulted in a Vichy Earth scenario, and five years after humanity rose up to retake their planet. While the aliens' leader caste, the "Elders," have been killed or driven off, their various Battle Thralls - Sectoids, Vipers, Mutons, stranger aliens, as well as the Half-Human Hybrid soldiers created to supplement the alien occupation force - are all still around. The game takes place in City 31, where humans, hybrids and various aliens live in an uneasy peace, while the titular Chimera Squad is an experimental counter-terrorism unit drawn from multiple species. And while one of the criminal organizations the squad opposes, Sacred Coil, is a Remnant group trying to somehow restore the Elders' regime, most "exoterrestrials" just want to make new lives for themselves on Earth as best they can. Another of the hostile factions, Gray Phoenix, consists of aliens who have concluded that it's impossible for them to live alongside humans, and they're desperately trying to hijack some spacecraft so they can leave the planet and find a new home.


    Western Animation 
  • The premise of "Starbox and Cindy" from Animaniacs (2020) involves Starbox, the leader of a Horde of Alien Locusts who ventures to Earth for reconnoissance before giving his armada the go-ahead. Unfortunately for him, his species is only a few inches tall from a human perspective and becomes the unwilling friend of Cindy, a small human child. The sketches involve Starbox trying to get to his ship to signal the armada, only for Cindy (who treats him like a pet or a toy) to stop him at every turn.
  • Johnny Test: Dark Vegan was the ruler of the Planet Veganden, who kept his planet running by stealing the resources of other planets. When he returned in "Johnny X: The Final Ending", his plan ended with him and his family stranded on Earth. He finally returned to Veganden in "Dark Johnny", but came back to Earth because toast, a food he and his family grew fond of, wasn't a thing back on Veganden.
  • Megas XLR: The Glorft are permanently stuck in the 21st century, having followed Kiva through the time portal to try and retrieve Megas. Since the time-drive is in Megas, and Coop smashed it beyond repair (it's what he does), the Glorft have no way home. That doesn't stop them from trying to recapture the mecha, though, for them Failure Is the Only Option.
  • Steven Universe: Jasper and Peridot were both sent to Earth to check on the progress of the Cluster, only to have their ship destroyed by the Crystal Gems, trapping them on Earth. Peridot would later pull a Heel–Face Turn, while Jasper would be a recurring threat.

    Real Life 
  • Immediately following the conclusion of World War II in the Pacific, many Japanese soldiers and sailors fighting in the Central and South Pacific refused to surrender, and fled into the mountains, jungles, and countrysides of the nations, islands, and colonies their Army and Navy had once conquered and occupied. While most would surrender in the years immediately following the war, some extreme examples, such as Hiroo Onoda, would not surrender until 30 years after the official surrender of Japan. The reasonings for these holdouts varied, with the main ones being that they refused to believe that Japan had surrendered in the first place, that Allied offers to surrender were bogus and that they would be killed on sight, or simply being too ashamed to return to Japan in the first place due to failing to defend their homeland against the invaders.