Ellen Ripley

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Ellen Ripley
Ellen ripley.jpg
Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in Aliens.
First appearance Alien
Last appearance Alien Resurrection
Created by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett
Portrayed by Sigourney Weaver
Species Human Hybrid Xenomorph
Occupation Lieutenant
Title Warrant Officer/Lieutenant (First Class)
Children Amanda Ripley (daughter)

Ellen Louise Ripley is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Alien film series played by American actress Sigourney Weaver. She is often considered as one of the best female protagonists of all time: it was heralded for challenging gender roles, particularly in the science fiction, action and horror genres, gave world recognition to Weaver and remains her most famous role to date.

She has been included in many Best Characters lists: In 2011, Total Film ranked her first of their top 100 Greatest Female Characters.[1] Ripley has been selected as the eighth-greatest hero in American cinema history by the American Film Institute, as the fifth-coolest hero in pop culture by Entertainment Weekly,[2] the ninth-greatest movie character ever by Empire (the highest-placing female of the list), and the eighth-best movie character of all time by Premiere,[3] In 2011, John Scalzi called her "Clearly the Best Female Character in Scifi Film".[4]

Weaver's performances have been highly praised as well: for Aliens, she earned her first Academy Award nomination for the Best Actress,[5] which is now seen as a landmark in the recognition of science fiction, action, and horror, at a time when the Academy gave little recognition to such genres. For her role in the franchise, Weaver has also been nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama, a BAFTA Award for Best Leading Newcomer, and four Saturn Awards for Best Actress, winning one for Aliens.[6]

Ripley also appeared in various other media, including novels, comic books, and video games. In 2014, Weaver reprised her role as Ripley (alongside most of the original cast) for the video game Alien: Isolation, in two DLCs set during the events of Alien.[7][8]



Ellen Louise Ripley was born on January 7, 2092 at the Olympia colony on Luna, a United Americas colony. After gaining a Masters in engineering from the New York Aeronautics University, she served with the US Merchant Navy aboard the Zelazny, where she acted as co-pilot.[4] Following this, she was posted to the Nostromo. During a layover between trips, Ripley violated Weyland-Yutani regulations by allowing a natural pregnancy to come to term, eventually resulting in the birth of her daughter Amanda, although she was not disciplined for this indiscretion.

Prior to the fateful voyage on which the Nostromo discovered LV-426 and the Alien, Ripley attempted to renegotiate her contract so that she could take a leave of absence and spend more time with Amanda. Eventually Ripley and Weyland-Yutani reached a compromise whereby Ripley would agree to serve aboard the Nostromo for the forthcoming trip and take her leave subsequently.


In Alien (1979)[edit]

Ripley is introduced as a warrant officer aboard the Nostromo, a spaceship from planet Thedus returning to Earth. Having been placed in stasis for the long journey home, the crew is awakened when the Nostromo receives a transmission of unknown origin from a nearby planetoid. Following their landing, an unknown creature infiltrates the ship, and kills every other member of the crew. Ripley is the only member to escape from the Nostromo prior to its explosion, which she deliberately commenced to kill the monster. However, she discovers that the Alien is also aboard the ship's shuttle, but expels it into space before putting herself in stasis for the return trip to Earth.

In Aliens (1986)[edit]

57 years later, Ripley awakes from her stasis. Her testimony regarding the Alien is met with extreme skepticism, and she loses her space flight license as a result of her "questionable judgment", and finds out that her daughter, Amanda, is dead. However, after contact was lost with a colony on LV-426, the planet where her crew first encountered the Alien eggs, Ripley is requested to go with Colonial Marines aboard the Sulaco to LV-426. They find the planet infested by many Aliens, who wipe out almost all of the marines. Ripley finally escapes the planet with Corporal Dwayne Hicks, the android Bishop, and Newt, a young girl and the last surviving colonist. Back on the Sulaco, they are soon attacked by the surviving Alien Queen, which is finally expelled into space by Ripley. Ripley enters into hypersleep alongside the three other survivors for the return to Earth.

In Alien 3 (1992)[edit]

The Sulaco launches an escape pod containing the four survivors, which then crashes on Fiorina 'Fury' 161, a foundry facility and penal colony. Ripley alone survives the crash. Unbeknownst to her, an Alien egg had been aboard the ship. Once hatched in the prison, the creature begins to kill inmates and guards, but strangely refuses to kill her. After rallying the inmates and preparing the defense against the creature, Ripley discovers the embryo of an Alien Queen growing inside her, thus realizing why she had not been attacked. After having killed the Alien by thermal shock, Ripley kills herself by diving into a gigantic furnace just as the alien Queen begins to erupt from her chest, exterminating the final trace of the Aliens and preventing the Weyland-Yutani Corporation from using it as a biological weapon.

In Alien Resurrection (1997)[edit]

Despite her death 200 years earlier, Ripley is "resurrected" by cloning, aboard the spaceship Auriga. The unborn Alien queen is surgically removed from her body to breed Aliens. Ripley, who survives the operation, has been affected by the Alien's DNA: she has enhanced strength and reflexes, acidic blood, and an empathic link with the Aliens. She relearns to talk and interact with humans, but soon Aliens escape their confinement and kill most of the crew. She escapes from her cell and later meets and joins a group of mercenaries; developing a close relationship with their youngest member Annalee Call. The now fully-grown Alien Queen, sharing Ripley's human DNA, gives birth to an Alien with human traits, who recognizes Ripley as its mother. After escaping the Auriga in the Betty, Ripley kills the newborn Alien by using her own acidic blood to burn a hole through a viewing pane, causing the creature to be sucked violently through the small hole and into the vacuum of space, saving Call. In a deleted scene, the Betty lands on Earth and Ripley and Call discover that Paris is desolate.


In Aliens: Colonial Marines (2013)[edit]

Stasis Interrupted DLC[edit]

In this prequel campaign, Ripley is seen being impregnated by a facehugger. It is actually of the regular variety, and not the Royal Facehugger that actually would have impregnated her with a Queen Alien and was glimpsed in the Assembly Cut of Alien 3.

In Alien: Isolation[edit]

Crew Expendable & Last Survivor DLC[edit]

Weaver takes the role once more alongside several other original cast members for two pre-order DLCs for the Alien: Isolation video game. Ripley is joined by Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Lambert (Veronica Cartwright), Brett (Harry Dean Stanton), Parker (Yaphet Kotto) and Ash (Ian Holm, likeness only), allowing you to play through two iconic scenes from the film. With the Nostromo Edition pre-order, the "Crew Expendable" bonus content allows gamers to play as one of the surviving crew members just after Brett's demise to entice the Alien to the ship's airlock. Those who purchase early from GameStop are privy to "Last Survivor," where Ripley initiates the self-destruct sequence before escaping on the Narcissus. For some of the original cast, this is their first appearance in an Alien video game.[7][8]

Amanda Ripley, Ellen Ripley's daughter is the main character of Alien: Isolation. In the story, set 15 years after the events of the first film, Amanda, investigating potential clues to her mother's whereabouts, goes to the space station Sevastopol hoping to find answers.

Spin-off media[edit]

Ripley's life and career has been extensively expanded on in various spin-off comics and novels, many of which discount her death on Fiorina 161, instead providing a chronology continuing on from the end of Aliens. One version stars Ripley as an advanced synthetic clone, who overcomes her memory problems to help human survivors re-take the Earth from xenomorphs. The Ripley Clone plays a central role in the three-way Dark Horse Comics crossover, Aliens versus Predator versus The Terminator.

Although Sigourney Weaver initially expressed interest in reprising this character in further installments of the Alien franchise,[9] the releases of Alien vs. Predator and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem have led the franchise on to a different path away from the central story of Ellen Ripley.

An Audio-Animatronic Ripley appears in the Alien scene of The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World.


Best characters lists[edit]

Ellen Ripley is often featured in lists of the best characters in film history: in 2008, American Film Institute ranked her as the eighth best hero in American film history in their list of the 100 greatest heroes and villains,[10] the second highest ranked female character after Clarice Starling. In 2009, Entertainment Weekly ranked Ripley 5th on their list of The 20 All Time Coolest Heroes in Pop Culture,[11] calling her "one of the first female movie characters who isn't defined by the men around her, or by her relationship to them".[2] The same year she was ranked #9 on Empire magazine's compilation of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters,[12] being the highest ranked female.

She was ranked eight on Premiere magazine's list of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time,[3] with her Defining Moment being "Ripley's nervy refusal to open the ship's hatch so that Kane (John Hurt) can be admitted - with a thing attached to his face". She was the third highest ranked female of the list, after Annie Hall and Scarlett O'Hara. She was ranked 57 on Fandomania's list of the 100 Greatest Fictional Characters.[13] In 2009, MTV selected her as the second Greatest Movie Badasses Of All Time,[14] the only women with Sarah Connor, ranked sixth. In 2011, UGO Networks ranked her the 75th Hottest Sci-Fi Girl of All Time.[15] and website Total Sci-Fi ranked her first on their top of the 25 Women Who Shook Sci-Fi, stating "one of the most iconic characters in cinema history" and "one of the most critically analysed characters in the history of cinema".

In 2011, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America president John Scalzi called her "Clearly the Best Female Character in Scifi Film".[4] He stated as the reasons: "She's not a sidekick, arm candy, or a damsel to be rescued", "She isn't a fantasy version of a woman", "The character is strong enough to survive multiple screenwriters", and "She was lucky enough to be played by Sigourney Weaver".

Awards and impact for Sigourney Weaver[edit]

For her performance in Alien, Weaver was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Leading Newcomer and a Saturn Award for Best Actress.[6][16]

Although her performance had already been acclaimed in the first film, Aliens gave worldwide recognition to Weaver: she was the second horror actress in history (after Ellen Burstyn for The Exorcist) to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.[5] She also received a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama, and won the Saturn Award for Best Actress, the first award in her career (except a minor award, the Mystfest Award for Best Actress, won for Half Moon Street).[6]

Following her acclaimed performance in Aliens, Weaver starred in two highly successful films of 1988: a lead role in Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey and a supporting role in Working Girl. At the 61st Academy Awards ceremony, she received her second and third (and currently last) Academy Award nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress . She won the Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama and Best Supporting Actress at the 46th Golden Globe Awards, becoming the first person ever to have won two acting Golden Globe Awards in the same year.[6]

Weaver was also co-producer of the third and fourth films of the franchise. Although they were less successful critically, Weaver's performance was praised: she received her third and fourth Saturn Award for Best Actress nominations for both films and a nomination for a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress – Sci-Fi for Alien Resurrection. Although she didn't win awards specifically for Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection, she won the Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year Award for her acting work during the 1997 film year, including Alien Resurrection, The Ice Storm and Snow White: A Tale of Terror.[6]

Weaver won a DVDX Award for Best Audio Commentary (New for DVD) for her audio participation, among numerous other members of the crew, in the audio commentary of Alien in its 2003-reissue in Alien Quadrilogy.[6] On his presentation speech about Weaver before rewarding her for her overall career with the Heroine Award at the 2010 Scream Awards, Aliens director James Cameron stated her main participations in film history as the Alien franchise, Ghostbusters, and Avatar.

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