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The Xenophile

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"There exists, in all of us, a deep-seated fascination for the unknown. An adventurous spirit that rejects the familiar and glories in the unfamiliar, whatever - or whomever - it may be."
— Xenophile Ethos blurb, Stellaris

Xenophile: a person who likes foreigners or things foreign [from Greek, from xeno- + -phile]. And by foreigners, we mean aliens. And not just humans who live in another country, either.

Aliens can be Intrigued by Humanity or a Fantastic Anthropologist, but what about the inverse — when a human character is obsessed with everything alien? This is often an evolved Naïve Newcomer character in Speculative Fiction and serves the same function in being a go-between and (sometimes literal) translator between a strange alien culture and the reader/viewer. Unlike a Naïve Newcomer, however, the Xenophile doesn't need another character to tell them about the alien culture we meet — they can provide all (or at least, most) of the exposition themselves, cheerfully and enthusiastically! In fact, they're so enthusiastic they probably have neglected their relationships with their fellow humans. In addition to appearing in Science Fiction, this trope can also appear in Fantasy literature where a human character is enthusiastic about non-human races and cultures.

Note: This is not about a character who is attracted to aliens in another way... there's a different trope for that, although the two can easily be combined. Contrast Aliens Are Bastards. Also contrast Absolute Xenophobe. Again, aliens-liking-human-culture examples are a different trope and belong in Intrigued by Humanity or Fantastic Anthropologist. Compare Nightmare Fetishist; if the aliens are weird enough, both can apply to the same character. Compare Admiring the Abomination, where a character (often The Smart Guy) reacts to an alien threat with both excitement and fear.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Heterogenia Linguistico, Hakaba and his mentor the Professor are anthropologists and linguists who only want to learn about the cultures and languages of nonhuman species like Wolf Men, Lizard Folk, and minotaurs.
  • Solomon in Magi: Labyrinth of Magic is fascinated with the non-human races' culture and was like a child in a candy shop when a group of manticore beasts invited him to spend the night in their underground city.
  • In Star★Twinkle Pretty Cure, this is Pink Heroine Hikaru's defining character trait. She is enthralled with meeting Prunce and Lala for the first time and even takes a moment to gush at how cool the villains look before realizing they want to abduct Fuwa. All throughout the story, it's safe to expect Hikaru to say, "Twincool!" every time she meets a new alien species or disembarks onto a new planet. When her father appears, this characteristic of hers turns out to be a major part of her Generation Xerox of him.

    Comic Books 
  • Sodam Yat of the Green Lantern Corps was born and raised in an Absolute Xenophobe society. That didn't stop him from befriending an alien named Tessog who crash-landed on Daxam. Sadly, his parents found out, murdered Tessog, and brainwashed their son to hate aliens again. Sodam only regained his memories when he saw his friend's stuffed corpse in a museum. He became disgusted with Daxam's xenophobia and spent years repairing Tessog's ship so he could leave Daxam forever. The courage and determination it took for him to do this made Sodam worthy of becoming a Green Lantern.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Vivienne Graham, like in MonsterVerse canon. She's always been particularly awestruck and enticed by the Titans, especially Godzilla, and a passionate and driven Monarch operative in that respect.
  • Code Prime: Lloyd Ashpuld towards the Cybertronians. It primarily stems from his passion as a Knightmare Frame Engineer who created the Lancelot, and hopes to be able to use Cybertronian technology to improve it.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Little Mermaid: Ariel has a collection of objects from the human world, which seem as weird to the mermaids as they do to us.
  • Disney Fairies: Tinkerbell collecting "lost things", which again are mundane items from the human world is important to the plot of every movie in the series.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dr. Powell from Bumblebee is really enthusiastic about the idea of aliens and First Contact, a fact that the Decepticons exploit to pass themselves off as the good guys and turn the US military against Bumblebee.
  • Ellie Arroway from Contact, both the book and the movie — at least when it comes to the idea of aliens and how to make contact with them.
  • In Enemy Mine, a human and a Drac pilot who are on opposites sides of a space war learn to set aside their racial and political differences to survive on a hostile planet. They start out trying to kill each other but become good friends.
  • MonsterVerse: Naturally, the majority of Monarch's key staff are implied to have this kind of attitude towards the Titans they study pretty much by profession. It's even led to Dr. Vivienne Graham being Married to the Job, the Chen family being involved for three (and counting) generations of identical twin girls, and both Serizawas who were part of Monarch having a When You Coming Home, Dad? relationship towards their respective sons. Due to the public's opinions of the Titans, this attitude of respect and awe bordering on outright reverence has caused the organization difficulties with PR.
  • Dr. Newton AKA "Newt" from Pacific Rim is a self-proclaimed Kaiju fanboy. His torso and arms are covered in various tattoos of the monstrous creatures, and he reacts to Hannibal Chau's Kaiju organ black market with a giddy Nerdgasm. Naturally, he's also a leading expert on Kaiju physiology.
  • Elizabeth Shaw from Prometheus is initially fascinated with the possibility of encountering the alien creators of humanity. That all changes once she discovers the Engineers are monsters that want to wipe out humanity.

  • Willis E. Davidge, from Barry Longyear's The Enemy Papers, turns out this way, getting a thorough education in Drac culture after being stranded on an ice planet with a Drac for quite a while. Note that he and the Drac were fighter pilots trying to kill each other in a war between the two species. The original short story is named Enemy Mine, and serves as the basis for the film example above. In a subsequent story set in the same 'verse, The Last Enemy, we learn he's devoted his life to teaching little dracs the way of Talman, the Drac equivalent of a holy book/history of science/scientific literature rolled into one.
  • Bren Cameron of C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner (1994) series of books. Meant to be an envoy/translator from the human government to the native aliens, he essentially defects to the alien side.
  • The eponymous character from Haruhi Suzumiya. As demonstrated in her now-famous introduction speech, she "has no interest in ordinary humans" and would much rather meet aliens, time travelers, espers, and other such phenomena. What she doesn't realize is that she's unknowingly drawn those exact kinds of people to her club.
  • A few different characters in Larry Niven's Known Space books. Beowulf Schaeffer and Louis Wu come to mind. At least one of them explicitly referred to himself as a xenophile.
  • Christopher Holm in The People of the Wind by Poul Anderson spends time hanging out with Ythrians, is adopted into a Ythrian clan, and translates Ythrian poetry.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Several human, alien-wannabes in Earth: Final Conflict and Alien Nation.
  • Some among both Minbari and Humans are starting to become interested in each other's cultures in Babylon 5, though many remain resentful.
    • In times of Civil War Earth propaganda works to paint Sheridan as an insane Minbari worshipper.
  • Many of Doctor Who's companions seem to end up like this, so caught up with time travel they don't want to go back to their own time.
  • Being a loving homage to Star Trek, the crew of The Orville is this trope in spades. In one episode the entire crew is almost delirious with joy when they realize they've scored a First Contact mission.
  • Daniel Jackson of Stargate SG-1, seemingly much more at home interacting with the many different cultures and races he's met through the Stargate than he ever is on Earth. He is an anthropologist, after all.
  • Every incarnation of Star Trek has this trope at its heart. After all, Starfleet's very job description is to "seek out new life and new civilizations". Some of the most notable examples:
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Jadzia Dax gets along with Ferengi, humans, and not least Klingons, while Sisko falls in love with Bajoran culture to the point that he decides to build a house there. Despite being born on Earth, as the Prophets put it he is, like them, "of Bajor". This turns out to be far more literally true than he'd expected when he finds out that he'd been selected as the Emissary rather earlier than he thought.

    Tabletop Games 
  • "Xenophilia" is one of the possible disadvantages in GURPS (applying to anyone exotic, not just nonhumans). It's a disadvantage because it makes you trust potentially nasty creatures more than you should.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • This is something the Imperium as a whole, and especially the Inquisition's Ordo Xenos, works very hard to avert. It doesn't always work, however, due to the monumental size of the task, the subtlety of some of the aliens or the humans involved, and the simple fact that you typically don't want to attract the attention of the Inquisition.
      • Many Imperial citizens that live near the T'au Empire are attracted to their "Greater Good" philosophy, tech that isn't thousands of years old and requires a techpriest or six to maintain, and its less brutal treatment of its citizens.
      • Some members of the Adeptus Mechanicus are obsessed with the Necrons and their mind-bogglingly advanced technology. An extreme fringe group of the Mechanicus considers the Necrons to be holy warriors. It doesn't help that the Machine God is possibly one of the Necrons' own omnicidal deities chained down and sealed away. Others, known as the Xenarites, study any alien technology they can get, under the reasoning that since all technology comes from the Machine God, all technology is sacred, even that of the Xenos.
      • There's even a form of radical group in the inquisition known as the Xeno Hybris who believe that humanity has more to gain from cooperating with (certain carefully selected) Xenos than through exterminating them, and that cooperation with the more tractable alien civilizations is in fact necessary for mankind's future prosperity.
    • The Eldar philosopher Uthan the Perverse holds that the orks of all species are the superior society since they aren't best known for ripping open a Negative Space Wedgie and birthing a God of Evil through millennia of sadistic hedonism, or for half their elite military forces siding with Chaos and their greatest leader stuck on life support for all eternity. Then again, the guy's epithet is "the Perverse", so...
      The Orks are the pinnacle of creation. For them, the great struggle is won. They have evolved a society which knows no stress or angst. Who are we to judge them? We Eldar who have failed, or the Humans, on the road to ruin in their turn? And why? Because we sought answers to questions that an Ork wouldn't even bother to ask! We see a culture that is strong and despise it as crude.
    • The Digganobz of the Gaiden Game Gorkamorka are the descendants of humans who now seek to emulate the orks in every way they can, such as driving big impractical vehicles, shooting while shouting, daubing themselves in green facepaint, and other violent activities, which the orks find hilarious in a "Bless 'im, 'e's tryin' so 'ard" way.

    Video Games 
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: Dr. Belhelm is absolutely enamored by the Bem, parasitic space organisms that convert humans into meaty, veiny, blood-drippy hosts and have depopulated parts of Germany by the time the player is introduced to them. He goes beyond his biologist interest to have the dangerous idea that the Bem can be key to the next step of human evolution, and never hesitates to praise their capabilities.
  • In Galactic Civilizations II, when culture suddenly booms it's credited to/blamed on the Xenophiles (Depending on whether your planets are deep in someone else's territory, or theirs are in yours)
  • Olympia Vale from Halo is uncommonly fond of Sangheili culture. She says that as a kid, she decided to spend a very long interstellar trip learning the Sangheili language. After the war with the Covenant ended, she took the opportunity to become a diplomat to the Sangheili. In Halo 5: Guardians, she at one point is heard saying a Sangheili prayer for their fallen warriors.
  • Yeoman Kelly Chambers in Mass Effect 2 is thoroughly fascinated by all aliens, which is rather untypical for a member of the pro-human extremist organization Cerberus. However, she says that pro-human does not necessarily mean anti-alien. This stance changes in Mass Effect 3 when she finds out that Cerberus really is anti-alien at its core, realising how she was manipulated by them.
    • Paragon Shepard definitely comes across as this; and a Shepard of any alignment has the option of having trysts and/or relationships with alien characters. In Mass Effect 3, the respect and admiration that Shepard has fostered throughout the galaxy is a key factor in bringing them together in the war effort.
  • An aspect of the Knowledge aspiration in The Sims 2. Most Sims will fear being abducted by aliens and having Sims they know get abducted; Knowledge Sims will actually want to meet aliens, and with FreeTime get access to a perk that makes meeting aliens easier.
  • Stardew Valley: As of the 1.5 patch, every character in the game hates being given Artefacts, except for two cases where they are liked gifts: the Dwarf (whose own people made a good number of them), and Penny.
  • In Stellaris
    • Xenophile/Xenophobe is one of the ethical axes that Empires can select, to a standard or "Fanatical" degree. Xenophiles have a bonus to diplomatic relations and will tolerate mixed-species populations more readily, helping them get along with other empires and races. This ethos can interact with the others to produce a variety of AI personalities: Egalitarian-Xenophile "Federation Builders," for example, will eagerly cooperate with other empires as equals no matter their species, while an Authoritarian-Xenophile "Harmonious Collective" will ensure the highest possible quality of life for its multi-species culture and give everyone in it full citizenship status, with the caveat that they're unconcerned about individual rights or freedoms.
    • "Fanatical Befrienders" are a rare form of Fanatical Xenophile that desperately want to make friends with other races in the galaxy, but unfortunately are so physically hideous that other species want nothing to do with them. Which is why they also have the Militarist ethos, so they can "befriend" other races by force.
    • "Rogue Servitors" are autonomous servant robots who have taken over their creators' civilization - for their own good, of course. They're neutral towards most other machine empires, but love all organic life, and want to keep them safe and happy in Gilded Cages. The only thing these mechanical marvels cannot abide are "Determined Exterminators," and Rogue Servitors make it perfectly clear that they will pound those murder machines into scrap if they so much as look at their beloved organics the wrong way.

    Web Comics 
  • Fabian of Zoophobia is a known advocate of interspecies relationships, and is particularly attracted to humanoids (he's a Talking Animal).
  • Karen from "Twokinds" is this to a T. She's long shown a deep fascination with Keidran and other nonhuman races, violating several of their cultural taboos in the process. At some point in the past, Trace tried to curse her by turning her into a Keidran (anthro animal). The spell only partially succeeded, giving her a pair of Keidran ears but nothing else. More to Trace's embarrassment still, she loved them and decided to keep them. Later in the comic, when Clovis in dragon form tries to do the exact same thing to Maddie and Karen jumps in the way, and she sprouts a tail, she has the exact same reaction, thanks him for it, and later refuses to let Reni change her back.

    Western Animation 
  • Kai Green from Ben 10 is, like Ben (her future husband) and Gwen, the grandchild of a Plumber and finds Ben's wolf-like transformation more interesting than Ben himself in her debut episode. By the time of Ben 10: Omniverse she's become an Adventurer Archaeologist both with her grandfather and on her own, specifically seeking alien artifacts to share with the world and show how human history was affected by Ancient Astronauts. Her xenophilic tendencies really show in Omniverse as she's friendlier to Ben when he's alien form (especially Blitzwolfer, the same alien Ben changed into when they first met) and has no small amount of Belligerent Sexual Tension with Ben in his regular form, and they end up Happily Married in the future.
  • Dex Hamilton: Alien Entomologist is absolutely fascinated by all types of alien insects, be they tiny or ginormous, fitting his title as the Alien Entomologist.
  • The Owl House: As a result of her extremely traumatic childhood in the Human Realm causing her to dive into fantasy novels, when Luz Noceda stumbles into the Boiling Isles, she soon finds herself enamoured with the place, as well as it's people. She happily dives headfirst into as many Demon Realm traditions as she can safely partake in, and is the one actively pushing Eda to help her learn more about the Isles, it's Magic and it's inhabitants. While Luz happily seeks out friends from the Demon Realm, the prospect of interacting with other Humans her age, or even just observing her adoptive Basilisk sister Vee interact with them, sends Luz into a full blown panic. Tellingly, her mother Camila is the only other Human in Luz's Family of Choice except Hunter, and he's a clone of a Human visually indistinguishable from a Witch. She even goes the extra mile of having a loving Witch girlfriend in Amity, and after graduating High School, she moves to the Boiling Isles full-time to study at Eda's magic academy.