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Series / Ancient Aliens

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Come for the ridiculous hair, stay for the apophenia.

"Is such a thing even possible? Yes, it is!"
Giorgio A. Tsoukalos note 

Probably the most infamous example of The History Channel's Network Decay, Ancient Aliens is a program that deals with conspiracy theories about aliens. Taking a glance at a list of episodes reveals that—as far as this show is concerned—aliens did everything. No really, literally everything—they exterminated the dinosaurs, they influenced all major religions, and they were in contact with all ancient cultures. Nazis, the Old West, Atlantis, Greek Fire, Stonehenge, King Arthur, all influenced by aliens.

The show is known for having frequent appearances by Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, consulting producer and ancient astronaut researcher. More specifically, it's known for the involvement of Giorgio A. Tsoukalos' hair.

In July 2014, it received a pseudo spin-off called "In Search of Aliens", hosted exclusively by Tsoukalos as he explores the globe looking for evidence of aliens. It's just as outlandish and silly as the original; for example, offering the theory that the Loch Ness Monster is an alien craft docking at an alien base built beneath the lake.


This show provides examples of:

  • Advanced Ancient Humans: Usually from alien assistance. The ancient Egyptians, for example, are claimed to have a central power network from the obelisks that dot their empire. The obelisks received power from the pyramids, which were filled with battery acid or something equally silly.
  • Agent Mulder: Many of the experts, but particularly Giorgio, who appears in every episode and seems to think aliens are responsible for every aspect of human history and beyond.
  • All Myths Are True: All of them, and aliens were involved with every one of them, either directly or through alien technology they left behind on earth. A 2014 commercial for the series even directly states "Aliens were part of everything. Now you know."
    • All religons and religious myths are true, and were mankind being contacted by aliens. The show also proposes that the aliens wiped out the dinosaurs, seeing them as unworthy to rule the earth while manipulating man's evolution — apparently the path to reconciling Creationism and Darwinism is "they're both true and aliens did them."
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    • All instances of monsters, ghosts, demons, magic, etc, were aliens.
    • An episode involving the Crystal Skulls (which have been thoroughly debunked) explored the idea of them having mystical science powers or alien knowledge encoded in them, and somehow managed to link them to the Nazis, Atlantis, the Dalai Lama, and Native American mythos. That's just how absurd the show can be when it tries.
    • They will occasionally admit that mainstream (read: real) archaeologists have an answer for the "mystery," or that some of the claims have been proved hoaxes (crystal skulls, crop circles). It's usually followed immediately with something like "But ancient astronaut theorists have a different, more profound, explanation."
  • Ancient Astronauts: It subcribes to this, using scripture and myths. Pretty much any instance of gods, angels, demons, spirits, etc, was ancient people meeting aliens and misunderstanding them.
  • Anime Hair: Tsoukalo's hairstyle makes him a notable Real Life example.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism:
    • Following Giorgio Tsukalos' Twitter account shows him regularly butting heads with people who believe that the Earth is really flat. Apparently there's some pseudoscience that's too nutty even for him.
    • In the show, this can happen sometimes. Religious explanations for certain incidents are never because of angels or gods, but aliens.
  • Arkham's Razor: The lengths some of their explanations go to are nothing short of astounding. You thought the Knights Templar got dissolved because of a French king's greed? Nope, that's because they were a part of an alien-worshipping cult. That secretly runs the world to this day.
  • Artifact Title: The show eventually became more general about alien theories and not just about how they may have influenced ancient civilizations. Even that is sometimes tossed aside for episodes about artificial intelligence, transhumanism, and other fringe pseudo-science, with only a tangential connection to aliens.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Genetic engineering by aliens is behind octopuses (which apparently are unrelated to anything on Earth...) and humans. Half-Human Hybrids, that is - they claim we're the product of aliens combining their DNA with that of local critters, unless they seeded the universe with life in the first place. And so on. Also, Big Foot.
  • Artistic License – Engineering:
    • Almost every single argument made by the show's sources can essentially be boiled down to the claim that Ancient civilizations could not have had any way to build the impressive structures they left behind - while conveniently ignoring every tool or practical knowledge historians have learned about of these civilizations.
    • The most blatant and probably oft cited argument is that ancients could never have cut, moved, shaped, or lifted some form of stone without lasers, levitation, diamond saws, or whatever. This despite the fact you could literally do most of the work with stone tools, wood, sand, pure human labor, and a little bit of ingenuity.
    • They like to point out how pyramids/pyramid-shaped structures are found all over the world, and suggest that the only explanation is that ancient people were all working in concert before the development of mass communication. A much simpler explanation for ancient buildings being wider at the bottom than the top is because this shape is structurally sound.
    • If you know anything about materials science and its history, you may wet yourself laughing at the show's claims about alloys. Example: a fairly ordinary brass ball (80% copper, 20% zinc and lead) must have been given to the Greeks by aliens, since the Greeks couldn't smelt zinc. Yup.note  Also, quazicrystals are made by aliens. And first swords were made of nickel.
  • Artistic License – History: It may as well be the subtitle of the show with how much it distorts and twists history, or just makes things up. You're better off trusting nothing it says at face-value.
  • Artistic License – Statistics: What are the odds that a meteor goes through all that space and hits exactly Earth? Cause meteors are really rare in space, aren't they?
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy:
    • Anyone influential or with ideas ahead of their time either had contact with aliens or was exposed to alien technology left on earth. This includes Gregori Rasputin, Nikola Tesla, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Socrates, and Srinivasa Ramanujan. Of course, their favorite is Leonardo da Vinci. The theories on him go all over the place, including suggesting he might have been a time traveler.
    • As part of the show increasingly reaching for alien connections, a Season 7 episode claimed that aliens intervened in the Civil War as well.
  • The Bermuda Triangle: This along with Japan's "Dragon's Triangle" are theorized to be portals which UFO's travel through to get to Earth.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti:
  • Blatant Lies: The entire show. Many of the lies and deception are picked apart by Ancient Aliens Debunked. Examples include presenting 19th and 20th century New Age texts as ancient texts, deliberate mistranslations, deliberately presenting false dates, not citing actual sources, quote mining, cherry picking data, and presenting hoaxes as true (such as the infamous Crystal Skulls).
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: This show becomes even more unscientific if you're not watching in the original English - looks like no borderline competent translator wants anything to do with this series. This leads to things like claiming humans have two blood groups, closely followed by saying we have four. Or that Rh- blood is impossibly rare, then that 15% of the world population has it. Also, "potassium nitrate" inexplicably gets translated as "soda".
  • Buffy Speak: During the episode regarding aliens and superheroes/gods (Season 3, Episode 15), one of the commentators refers to what Greek mythology calls telchines as "god human monster things."
  • Cargo Cult: All religions are this, in their minds. They've even specifically mentioned this trope in their explanations.
  • Creative Sterility:
    • The hosts of the show basically assume that ancient man had no imagination. All myths, legends, etc, were attempts by our ancestors to accurately record things they saw and experienced first-hand. They just didn't have the technological sophistication to realize they were seeing aliens and machines, not gods and magic.
    • They also seem to believe there is no such thing as true genius. As mentioned above, anyone who had radical ideas (Leonardo, Einstein, Von Braun) must have been influenced by aliens. They never seem to consider the possibility that these people were visionaries who benefited mankind with their own brainpower.
    • The whole "theory", when one thinks about it, is pretty darn misanthropic.
    • And yet, hilariously, it assumes that while Humans Are Morons, their art is a 100% accurate representation of things. No stylisation, creative license, plain old inability to draw a specific thing... It's all as accurate as photography, it seems.
  • Dan Browned: A staple of this show. About ten minutes research on some of the subjects they cover will turn up evidence that they're twisting facts, if not outright lying.
  • Delusions of Eloquence: The cast seem to really like referring to themselves as "scientists". Any elementary school student could tell them they're misusing a lot of the words they use, though.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The series is actually a Spin-Off from a one-off documentary that presented a much less biased examination of the Ancient Astronaut theory; both proponents and detractors were interviewed. Myths were not presented as evidence. Artistic licence and symbolism were acknowledged. It should come as no surprise that, by presenting both sides of the argument with evidence for and against, the result is far more reasonable.
  • E.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi: Along with a good chuck of technological innovations throughout history.
  • For the Evulz: Aliens apparently cause volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Why they're doing it and what they would have to gain from doing it isn't known or dwelled upon in the show. Later episodes claim there are both good and evil aliens, in the usual "Good vs Evil" dichotomy.
  • The Great Flood: The show takes the Noah's ark story as the literal truth. But aliens did it.
  • The Greys: Being the quintessential aliens in pop culture and conspiracies, it's only natural the series continuously talks about them.
  • The Grim Reaper: According to the show the Black Death was caused by Grim Reaper aliens with plague scythes. Seriously.
  • Groupie Brigade: According to pics, Giorgio A. Tsoukalos is quite the Kavorka Man. It's gotta be the hair.
  • Hollywood Science: And how! The biggest example is probably in how they call it "Ancient Astronaut Theory." Paying close attention to what they're proposing, it's clear they're using the word "theory" as it's used by laypeople: i.e. a guess. "Theory" has a much different meaning in scientific circles, as an explanation which best fits the known data (confusion on this point results in much foolishness).
  • Humans Are Morons: The show's premise. According to them, no ancient people could have thought up building or creating anything, everything was created by aliens.
  • Improbable Hairstyle: The famous hair of Giorgio Tsoukalos.
  • Insane Troll Logic: As picked apart in this spectacular takedown of the show, written by a scientist who understands the topic of the week inside and out. To be more specific, the commentators, especially Philip Coppens and Giorgio Tsoukalos, like to suggest there's a chance that aliens may have been behind something, then in the next sentence, pretend like that minor chance is itself proof of their claims, and they tend to take wild leaps at the smallest of possibilities.
    Tsoukalos: These statues look like some type of a being wearing an astronaut suit, and in my opinion, that means that we were visited by some type of extraterrestrials.
    • Here's a tip, kids. If someone presenting a theory to you uses the words "In my opinion," he's probably not doing real science. Everyone has opinions, but without evidence for them, they aren't scientific.
  • Jedi Truth: A lot of their claims fall under this. For instance, they state that Pumapunku could not have been constructed with the tools available at the time.note  This is technically true, as they also claim that Pumapunku is way older than it actually is.
  • Logical Fallacies:
    • The main one showing up all the time is the Converse Error Affirming the Consequent.
    1. If aliens really existed and visited Earth, they could theoretically have shown humans how to build pyramids.
    2. Humans built pyramids.
    3. Therefore, aliens!
    • They engage in Appeal to Authority a lot, whenever anyone with some kind of credentials (government, military, etc) is mentioned. Regardless of whether said credentials have anything at all to do with the topic at hand. This is especially so when recurring contributor Nick Pope is involved. The show likes to state that he worked with the British Ministry of Defence for 15 years, studying reports of UFO sightings to find if there was any truth to them. The implication is that he's such an expert on UFOs, that even his own government recognized his authority.note 
  • Lost Technology: A number of artifacts, like the Antikythera mechanism, are claimed to be this. Alternately, several ancient sites, especially Pumapunku, were made using Lost Technology.
  • No Sense of Distance: Aliens come from stars tens to hundreds of light years away to mine gold (a relatively common metal in asteroids) on Earth, where the total amount of gold mined in the entirety of Earth's history was estimated as of 2011 to be about 171,300 tonnes, enough to form a cube just over 20 meters to a side.
  • Once per Episode: At some point during any given installment, the phrase "as ancient astronauts theorists believe/contend/argue/theorize" will be uttered at least once. This functions more or less as a disclaimer or possibly a Catchphrase.
  • Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs: Yup, the aliens apparently offed them, too. Oh, and they made them in the first place as well. Why? Who knows?! They're not gonna do a silly thing like research the topic they're talking about!
  • Pyramid Power: Unsurprisingly, the show explores pretty much every pseudo-scientific theory of the pyramids that one can think of. In a literal case of this trope, at least one episode talked about how Egyptian pyramids functioned as power plants, and refueling stations for alien craft.
  • Reptilian Conspiracy: Yup, one episode was about the good ol' shapeshifting, megalomaniacal manipulative lizards David Icke is so obsessed with. Icke himself even appeared in said chapter as well.
  • Satan: Yup, he was an alien, too.
  • Sequel Escalation: The first couple of seasons weren't too bad. Stories of angels were aliens, the Nazis studied alien technology, the Egyptians and the Aztecs were visited by aliens, the Bermuda Triangle is aliens; in short, nothing that numerous other speculative documentaries on aliens and/or unsolved mysteries haven't suggested before. Then the later seasons really got carried away. The first episode of season three being titled "Aliens and the Old West" is your first clue that things are about to go downhill.
  • Shout-Out: One theory mentioned a few times but never really discussed seriously is the idea aliens come to Earth to hunt the most dangerous predators on the planet, humans.
  • Speculative Documentary: Basically, everything important happened because of aliens.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: They do this in a few episodes. The Nazis were all over studying aliens and their technologies left behind on earth.
  • Weird West: Unsurprisingly, the show claims there were aliens in The Wild West.