Alien (franchise)

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Alien (franchise) logo.png
The current logo of the franchise.
Created by Dan O'Bannon
Ronald Shusett
Original work Alien (1979)
Print publications
Novel(s) List of novels
Comics List of comics
Films and television

Main series

Prequel series

Short films

Role-playing Aliens Adventure Game (1990)
Video game(s) List of video games

Alien is a science-fiction horror franchise centered on a film series that depicts Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and her battles with an extraterrestrial lifeform, commonly referred to as "the Xenomorph", "the Alien" or "Xenomorph XX121".[1][2][3][4][5]

Produced by 20th Century Fox, the series began with Alien (1979), directed by Ridley Scott. It was followed by three sequels, released in 1986, 1992 and 1997. A prequel series directed by Scott expands on the series, beginning with the release of Prometheus (2012) and continuing with Alien: Covenant (2017). There were speculations about fifth installment starring Sigourney Weaver but the project was deemed canceled as of May 2017.

The series has led to numerous books, comics and video game spin-offs. Related to the franchise is the Alien vs. Predator franchise, which combines the continuities of the Alien franchise with the Predator franchise, consisting of two films and varying series of comics, books and video games.


After completion of the film Dark Star (1974), writer Dan O'Bannon thought to develop some of the ideas (especially the theme of "alien hunts crew through a spaceship") and create a science-fiction action film. Provisionally called Memory, screenwriter Ronald Shusett collaborated with O'Bannon on the project, adding elements from a previous O'Bannon script, Gremlins, which featured gremlins causing mayhem aboard a World War II bomber and wreaking havoc with the crew. The duo finished the script, initially entitled Star Beast, which was later changed to Alien after O'Bannon noticed the number of times the word "alien" occurred in the script.[6][7] Their script was sold to Brandywine Productions, a company formed by producers Gordon Carroll, David Giler, and Walter Hill that had a distribution deal with 20th Century Fox. The writers imagined a low-budget film, but the success of Star Wars inclined 20th Century Fox to invest millions on the production.[8]

In the original script, the ship has an all-male crew (though the script's 'Cast of Characters' section explicitly states that "The crew is unisex and all parts are interchangeable for men or women"), including the Ripley character, who would be played by actor Tom Skerritt. Later, when Fox president Alan Ladd, Jr. and the producers at Brandywine heard rumors of Fox working on other titles with strong female leads,[6] Sigourney Weaver was cast as Ripley[9] and Skerritt became Captain Dallas. Shortly before filming began, Veronica Cartwright was set for the Ripley role, but Ridley Scott opted for Weaver following screentests. Cartwright played Navigator Lambert in the movie, the final crew member to be killed.

Swiss painter and sculptor H. R. Giger designed the alien creature's adult form and the derelict ship,[10] while French artist Mœbius created the look of the spacesuits[6] and Ron Cobb provided most of the on-set design.[11]

While the first film of the series, directed by Ridley Scott, was successful, Fox did not consider a sequel until 1983, when James Cameron expressed his interest to producer David Giler in continuing the Alien story. After Cameron's The Terminator became a box office hit, Cameron and partner Gale Anne Hurd were given approval to direct and produce the sequel to Alien, scheduled for a 1986 release.[12] Cameron wrote the screenplay from a story he developed with Giler and Walter Hill.

Following the second film, Aliens, Weaver was not interested in returning to the series and so producers David Giler and Walter Hill commissioned a third Alien film without the Ripley character. The premise was to return Ripley in a fourth installment, but Fox's president Joe Roth did not agree with Ripley's removal and Weaver was offered a $5 million salary and a producer credit to make Alien 3. Released in 1992, the film was troubled from the start, with production beginning without even a finished script. Having already spent $1 million, music video director David Fincher, the third director considered for the film, was hired to helm the project.[13] Giler, Hill and Larry Ferguson wrote the screenplay, based on a story from an earlier script by Vincent Ward. After production was completed in late 1991, the studio reworked the film without Fincher's involvement or consent.[14] The death of Ripley was designed to bring closure to the Alien franchise by killing off the principal character.

While fans and critics initially did not receive Alien 3 well, the film still did well at the box office worldwide and piqued Fox's interest in continuing the franchise. In 1996, production on the fourth Alien film, Alien: Resurrection, began. Ripley was not in the script's first draft, and Weaver was not interested in reprising the role, although she later joined the project after being given a reported $11 million salary and more creative control, including being able to approve director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The script, set 200 years after Alien 3, resurrected the Ripley character via human cloning.[15] The film, released in 1997, experienced an extended production and was described by screenwriter Joss Whedon as having done "everything wrong" with his script.[16]

Main series[edit]

Alien (1979)[edit]

On its return to Earth, the U.S. commercial starship Nostromo is diverted to a desolate planetoid after receiving a cryptic signal from a derelict alien spacecraft. While exploring the alien ship, one of the Nostromo's crewmen discovers the remains of the ship's pilot and also a large chamber that contains thousands of egg-like objects. One of the eggs releases a creature that attaches itself to his face and renders him unconscious. The others break quarantine to bring him back aboard the ship. The parasite dies and the crewman wakes up, seemingly fine. Soon afterwards, an alien organism bursts from his chest and grows extremely rapidly into a terrifying eight-foot (about 2.5 meters) tall creature that starts killing off the crew.

Aliens (1986)[edit]

After 57 years in hypersleep, the sole survivor of the Nostromo, LT Ellen Ripley, awakens aboard a medical space station orbiting Earth. Her story of the Alien terror she encountered is disbelieved and she learns that the planetoid from the first film (now designated as LV-426) is now home to a terraforming colony. When contact with the colony is lost, Ripley, against her better judgement and to regain her pilot's license, hesitantly accompanies a squad of high-tech Elite Colonial Marines aboard the spaceship Sulaco to investigate. Once there, they discover the colonists have been wiped out after they had found the derelict alien ship (and its deadly cargo) from the first film.[17]

Alien3 (1992)[edit]

Due to a fire aboard the Sulaco, an escape pod carrying the survivors of the second film is automatically jettisoned. It crash-lands on the refinery/prison planet Fiorina "Fury" 161, but Ripley is the only one to survive the crash. Unbeknownst to her, some alien facehuggers were also aboard the ship. Before long, a full-sized Alien is then loose in the prison, killing the inmates and staff. Ripley also discovers there is an Alien queen growing inside her, and must not only kill the rampaging Alien but also herself in order to save humanity.

Alien: Resurrection (1997)[edit]

Two hundred years after the events of the previous film, Ellen Ripley (and the Alien queen she was carrying) are cloned. The Alien queen is surgically removed from her body as the United Systems Military hopes to breed Aliens to study on the spaceship USM Auriga, using human hosts kidnapped and delivered to them by a group of mercenaries. The Aliens escape their enclosures, while Ripley 8 (a clone who contains some Alien DNA herself) and the mercenaries attempt to escape and destroy the Auriga before it reaches its destination, Earth.

Cancelled sequel[edit]

Joss Whedon had written an Earth-set script for Alien 5, but Sigourney Weaver was not interested in this setting, and sought to return the story to the planetoid from the first film. Weaver has remained open to a role in a fifth installment on the condition that she likes the story.[18] Before 20th Century Fox greenlit Alien vs. Predator, James Cameron had been collaborating on the plot for a fifth Alien film with another writer. Learning of Fox's plans for a crossover, he ceased work on his concept. Before he saw the film, Cameron had stated that it would "kill the validity of the franchise", and that "it was Frankenstein Meets Werewolf" – like "Universal just taking their assets and starting to play them off against each other". Although he liked Alien vs. Predator, Cameron ruled out any future involvement with the series.[19]

In a 2002 interview, Ridley Scott stated that a new Alien project "would be a lot of fun", but that "the most important thing was to get the story right". Scott's concept for the plot was "to go back to where the alien creatures were first found and explain how they were created".[20] In late 2008, Weaver hinted in an interview with MTV that she and Scott were working on an Alien spinoff film, which would focus on the chronicles of Ellen Ripley rather than on the Aliens, but the continuation of Ripley's story has not materialized.[21] Instead, Scott worked on a prequel that explained the "Space Jockey" found on the derelict spacecraft from Alien, titled Prometheus and released in 2012.[22]

In 2014, Sigourney Weaver hinted that she was interested in returning to the role of Ripley, considering that the ending to Resurrection "feels incomplete to me. I wish it didn't, but it does. We left it hanging. And there's a way to finish this story that I think would be satisfying to me and the many fans."[23] The actress also stated regarding the hybrid character that "had we done a fifth one, I don't doubt that her humanity would have prevailed."[24]

In February 2015, director Neill Blomkamp posted concept art on his Instagram feed, saying in an interview that he had been "wanting to make an Alien film for like years and years" and had developed the story and artwork after working on Chappie with Sigourney Weaver.[25] In response, Weaver stated that she would be willing to reprise her role as Ripley in a new Alien film if Blomkamp was directing.[26] It was confirmed on February 18, 2015, that a new Alien film would be made, with Blomkamp directing, with Weaver soon confirmed as well.[27] Although no official statement had been made, the film was believed to disregard the events of Alien 3 and Resurrection, and to be a direct sequel to Aliens.[28][29] Blomkamp denied his intention to undo the third and fourth films, saying instead that he simply favored the first two and wanted his film to tie into their stories.[30] Sigourney has specified "It's just as if, you know, the path forks and one direction goes off to [Alien 3] and [Alien: Resurrection] and another direction goes off to Neill's movie,"[31] In March 2015, Blomkamp reported that the title of the film would not be Alien 5[32] and further confirmed plans for more than one Alien sequel/prequel.[33]

A fan at Pensacon in March 2015 reported that actor Michael Biehn, who played Corporal Dwayne Hicks in Aliens, had confirmed in a private conversation that he had been contacted regarding the film.[34] On March 24, 2015, Sharlto Copley revealed his interest in portraying a xenomorph.[35] On May 20, 2015, Bill Paxton expressed interest in reprising his role as Pvt. Hudson from Aliens.[36] On June 29, 2015, Blomkamp stated filming is set to begin in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.[37] It was later reported in August 2015, however, that the project was on hold until at least 2017.[38] In September 2015, Ridley Scott confirmed that he would produce the film, and that it would be made after the sequel to Prometheus.[39] Blomkamp revealed in October 2015 that the Alien project would be shelved, pending the outcome of the second prequel film, thus he would be moving on to other projects.[40] During a VMware event in April 2016, Sigourney Weaver stated she thought that the proposed fifth Alien film would still go into production, following the completion of Alien: Covenant, due to Ridley Scott's insistence on the production order.[41] Late that month, Blomkamp shared concept art via Instagram, featuring an adult Newt.[42] Weaver told Variety that both she and Blomkamp hope to finish Ripley's story in the film.[43] In January, when Blomkamp was asked by a fan about the outlook of the film going into production, he responded by saying they were "slim".[44] In April, Scott said he didn't think the film will ever be made. He elaborated that there was never a complete script, just a 10-page pitch, that Fox decided they didn't want to pursue any further. Commentators have noted this goes against Weaver's and James Cameron's statements about reading Blomkamp's script for the film, although it's possible Weaver and Cameron were referring to the pitch document.[45] On May 1, 2017, Ridley Scott confirmed that Blomkamp's film had been officially canceled, and that it was going to be titled Alien: Awakening.[46]

Prequel series[edit]

Prometheus (2012)[edit]

Some thirty years before the events of Alien, scientists Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway discover a star map among the remnants of several ancient Earth cultures. Seeking the origins of humanity, they journey aboard the spaceship Prometheus and arrive on a distant world in the Zeta2 Reticuli system, the same region of space in which the planetoid from Alien is found. There they discover the remains of an advanced civilization (the same race as the dead pilot from the derelict ship in Alien) who were developing horrific biological weapons which could cause the extinction of the human race.

Development of a fifth film in the series began in the early 2000s when both Ridley Scott and James Cameron began developing ideas for a story that would explore the origins of the Alien. By 2003, the development of Alien vs. Predator took precedence, and the fifth Alien film project remained dormant until 2009 when Scott again showed interest. Jon Spaihts wrote a script for an Alien prequel, but Scott then opted for a slightly different direction. In late 2010, Damon Lindelof joined the project to rewrite Spaihts's script, and he and Scott developed a story that precedes the events of Alien but is less of a direct prequel to it, concentrating more on discovering the advanced race that created the titular Aliens rather than the Aliens themselves (though variants of the Alien in its facehugger and full-sized form are seen in the film). According to Scott, although the film shares "strands of Alien's DNA, so to speak", and takes place in the same universe, Prometheus explores its own mythology and ideas. Prometheus was released in 2012 and stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba and Guy Pearce. The film grossed over $400 million worldwide and garnered mostly positive reviews, securing a 73% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Promotional Short Films[edit]

TED 2023[edit]

When the viral marketing campaign for the then-upcoming film Prometheus began on February 28, 2012, a short film called TED 2023 (also known as Peter Weyland's 2023 TED Talk)[47] was released. The short starred Guy Pearce as a younger version of his Prometheus character Peter Weyland; the short revolved around Weyland giving a speech at the 2023 TED TALK about his plans for the future of the Weyland Corporation[48] and mankind as a whole. The short presents a futuristic version of a TED conference, a real-life annual technology and design event held in Long Beach, California.

The short was conceived and designed by Ridley Scott, and directed by Scott's son, Luke. The production of the short was made in collaboration with TED in order to introduce new fans of the Alien franchise to the conference itself. Damon Lindelof stated that the short was set in a futuristic stadium because "a guy like Peter Weyland, whose ego is just massive, and the ideas that he's advancing are nothing short of hubris, that he'd basically say to TED, 'If you want me to give a talk, I'm giving it in Wembley Stadium.'"

TED community director Tom Rielly helped the film's producers gain approval for the use of the TED brand, which had not previously been used for promotional purposes. Rielly was involved in designing the 2023 conference, and has stated that the association generated millions of unique visits to the TED website.[49] The short's release was accompanied by a fictional TED blog about the 2023 conference and a tie-in website for the fictional Weyland Corporation. On March 6, 2012, this Weyland Corporation website was updated to allow visitors to invest in the company as part of a game, which would reveal new information about Prometheus.

Introducing the David 8 — The Next Generation Weyland Robot[edit]

There's a short film providing an in-universe introduction of the David 8.[50]

Prometheus — Quiet Eye[edit]

There's a short film in which Dr. Shaw proposes that the Weyland Corporation fund her expedition.[51]

Alien: Covenant (2017)[edit]

Ten years after the events of Prometheus, a colony ship, Covenant, travels to a dark world previously thought to be a paradise, where they encounter the sole inhabitant, the synthetic David.[52][53]

By March 2014, a Prometheus sequel was in development,[54] with Scott set to return as the director.[55] Michael Green wrote a script based on a first draft from Jake Paglan, which reportedly places the new film more into the horror genre than the original.[56] Shooting of the movie was scheduled to begin in February 2016,[57] with a release date of October 6, 2017. The movie was released on May 19, 2017.[58]

Rumored to be titled Paradise, but originally revealed as Alien: Paradise Lost,[59] the film was later retitled Alien: Covenant.[53] Actors Michael Fassbender[60] and Katherine Waterston are expected to appear, with Waterston in the lead role of Daniels.[61] Though Scott claimed that Noomi Rapace's character would be returning for Alien: Covenant in November 2015,[60] he confirmed in an interview in January 2016 that Rapace would not be reprising her role and that the casting process for the lead roles were ongoing.[62] However, it was later confirmed that Rapace was, in fact, reprising her role and that the cast would also include Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride and Demian Bichir.[63]

Promotional Short Films[edit]

Alien: Covenant — Prologue[edit]

When the viral marketing campaign for the then-upcoming film Alien: Covenant began, a series of short films entitled Alien: Covenant - Prologue were released, directed by Ridley Scott.

Last Supper[edit]

The first film, subtitled "Last Supper", was released on February 23, 2017, via 20th Century Fox's official YouTube channel. Last Supper contains numerous references to Alien. The entire sequence where Upworth chokes is a clear reference to Kane and the infamous Chestburster scene; Tennessee's response when he sees Upworth is in trouble — "The food's not that bad!" — is the same reply Parker says when Kane begins choking in Alien. There is also a dippy bird visible on the table, just as there was on the Nostromo in Alien. The short serves as an introduction to the crew of the Covenant; the film is set prior to their appearance in Alien: Covenant, revolving around the crew's "last meal" before entering hypersleep for their long journey. After Captain Branson turns in, Upworth begins choking on the food, causing Walter to step in to dislodge the offending item to save her life. Daniels makes a speech about their journey together and the whole crew toast to the Covenant.[64]

The Crossing[edit]

The second film, subtitled The Crossing, was released on April 26, 2017, via 20th Century Fox's official YouTube channel. The film serves as a bridge between the events of Prometheus and Alien: Covenant; Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender respectively reprise their roles as Dr. Elizabeth Shaw and David 8. The film details what happened to crew members Dr. Elizabeth Shaw and the synthetic David after the events of Prometheus. Set aboard an abandoned Engineer vessel, Dr. Shaw repairs David as they continue their search for humanity’s creators. Limited footage from the film would be incorporated into Alien: Covenant.[65]

Alien: Covenant — Meet Walter[edit]

There's a short film providing an in-universe introduction of Walter.[66]

Alien: Covenant — Crew Messages[edit]

There are a series of short films in which crew members Daniels, Tennessee, Rosenthal, Lope, and Oram send messages back to their families on Earth.[67]

Alien: Covenant — She Won't Go Quietly[edit]

Following the release of the Alien: Covenant - Prologue short films as part of the viral marketing campaign for the then-upcoming film Alien: Covenant, a short promotion film called She Won't Go Quietly directed by Ridley Scott's son, Luke Scott, was released. The short takes place on board the Covenant, wherein Daniels speaks to the onboard computer MU/TH/ER and plays cards with Tennessee. MU/TH/ER stops replying to what Daniels and Tennessee say. The short then cuts to a scene set during the climax of Alien: Covenant, showing Daniels asking where the protomorph's location is on the Covenant, to which the reactivated MU/TH/ER responds, 'Four meters above you', before the protomorph appears to attack from above. This scene is absent from Alien: Covenant, having specifically been conceived for the purposes of a promotional short film by Ridley Scott.[68]

Alien: Covenant — Rick and Morty[edit]

When the viral marketing campaign for the then-upcoming film Alien: Covenant began, a short film called Alien: Covenant - Rick and Morty, conceived and designed by Justin Roiland on the behest of 20th Century Fox,[69] was released on May 13, 2017. The short starred Justin Roiland as his Rick and Morty characters Rick Sanchez and Morty Smith.[70] The short revolved around Rick and Morty arriving in the dimension in which the Alien movies are set, and Morty urging Rick to respond to a distress call coming from an Engineer's ship. Rick is attacked by a facehugger, only for it to die from "all the drugs and alcohol swirling about in [his] system".[71][72] The film continues a plot thread included in second season episode "Auto Erotic Assimilation", where-in Rick Sanchez mentions the value of facehuggers in his universe.[73]


In September 2015, Ridley Scott revealed he was planning two sequels to Prometheus, which would lead into the first Alien film, even adding: "Maybe [there will] even [be] a fourth film before we get back into the Alien franchise."[74][75] In November 2015, Scott confirmed that Alien: Covenant would be the first of three more films before linking up with original Alien, thus starting a new trilogy of sci-fi films,[53][76] and stated that Prometheus sequels will reveal who created the xenomorph Aliens.[77] According to an interview with Scott that took place on the set of Alien: Covenant in 2016, Scott had the screenplay for the third prequel film written while working on Alien: Covenant, so that he could "be ready to go again next year". Scott also mentioned the revived franchise could go on for even longer than previously mentioned; "If you really want a franchise, I can keep cranking it for another six. I'm not going to close it down again. No way", said Scott.[78] In March 2017, Scott stated that if Alien: Covenant and the film that would follow it are successful, he has plans for another three Alien films. Scott explained "It will go Prometheus, Awakening, Covenant".[79] In May 2017, Scott revealed that Alien: Awakening was originally the name of Neill Blomkamp's since-cancelled Aliens sequel.[80][not in citation given]

Storyline chronology[edit]

Chronological order
Timeline order Title Release date Medium
TED 2023 March 16, 2012 Short Film
Prometheus May 24, 2012 Film
Alien: Covenant - Prologue: The Crossing April 26, 2017 Short Film
Last Supper February 23, 2017
Alien: Covenant May 19, 2017 Film
Alien June 22, 1979
Alien: Out of the Shadows January 28, 2014 Novel
Alien: Isolation October 7, 2014 Video Game
Alien: River of Pain November 25, 2014 Novel
Aliens June 6, 1986 Film
Alien3 May 22, 1992
Aliens: Colonial Marines February 12, 2013 Video Game
Alien: Resurrection November 29, 1997 Film
Alien: Sea of Sorrows July 25, 2014 Novel

Cast and crew[edit]

Recurring characters[edit]

List indicator(s)
  • This table shows the recurring characters and the actors who have portrayed them throughout the franchise.
  • A dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film, or that the character's presence in the film has not yet been announced.
  • C indicates a cameo appearance.
  • U indicates an uncredited appearance.
  • Y indicates an appearance as a younger version of a pre-existing character.
  • P indicates an appearance in onscreen photographs only.
  • I indicates an appearance in onscreen paintings or sculptures only.
  • D indicates an appearance in deleted scenes only.
  • V indicates a voice only role.
  • M indicates a motion-capture only role.
Ellen Louise Ripley
Ripley Clone 8
David 8​
M. Shaw​
Peter Weyland​
MU / TH / UR 6000
Arthur Dallas
Joan Lambert
Samuel Brett
Dennis Parker
Gilbert Kane
Michael Bishop Weyland
Bishop II
Rebecca "Newt" Jorden
Dwayne Hicks
Colonial Marine
Space Jockeys
Daniels "Dany" Branson
Christopher Oram
Sergeant Lope
Jacob "Jake" Branson
Karine Oram
Sergeant Hallett
Maggie Faris
Main Series Prequel Series Promotional Short Films
Alien Aliens Alien3 Alien:
Prometheus Alien:
Peter Weyland's
2023 TED Talk
Introducing the David 8
The Next Generation Weyland Robot
Quiet Eye
Alien: Covenant — Prologue Alien: Covenant
Meet Walter
Alien: Covenant
Crew Messages
Alien: Covenant
She Won't Go Quietly
Last Supper The Crossing
1979 1986 1992 1997 2012 2017 2012 2017
Sigourney Weaver Sigourney Weaver Sigourney Weaver
Nicole FellowsY
  Michael Fassbender Michael Fassbender[79]   Michael Fassbender[50]   Michael Fassbender[81]    
    Michael Fassbender[82]   Michael Fassbender[66][83]
  Noomi Rapace
Lucy HutchinsonY
Noomi RapaceU [79]   Noomi Rapace[51]   Noomi Rapace[84]  
  Guy Pearce Guy PearceU Guy Pearce[85]  
Appeared   Appeared  
Bolaji Badejo Carl Toop Tom Woodruff, Jr. Appeared
Goran D. KleutM [86]
Andrew Crawford[87]
Javier BotetU

Goran D. KleutM [88]
Andrew Crawford[89]
Javier BotetU
  Appeared Tom Woodruff, Jr.  
  Lorelei KingV [90]   Lorelei KingV [90]
Tom Skerritt Tom SkerrittP  
Veronica Cartwright Veronica CartwrightP  
Harry Dean Stanton Harry Dean StantonP  
Ian Holm Ian HolmP  
Yaphet Kotto Yaphet KottoP  
John Hurt John HurtP  
  Carrie Henn Danielle Edmond  
  Michael Biehn
James RemarUC [91]
Michael BiehnP  
Appeared   Ian Whyte & John
with Daniel James
AppearedU   Appeared  
  Katherine Waterston   Katherine Waterston[92]   Katherine Waterston[93][94]
  Danny McBride   Danny McBride[95]   Danny McBride[96][97]
  Billy Crudup   Billy Crudup[98]   Billy Crudup[99]  
  Demián Bichir   Demián Bichir[100]   Demián Bichir[101]  
  James FrancoUC   James Franco[102]  
  Carmen Ejogo   Carmen Ejogo[103]   Carmen Ejogo[104]  
  Tess Haubrich   Tess Haubrich[105]   Tess Haubrich[106]  
  Nathaniel Dean   Nathaniel Dean[107]  
  Jussie Smollett   Jussie Smollett[108]   Jussie Smollett[109]
  Callie Hernandez   Callie Hernandez[110]  
  Amy Seimetz   Amy Seimetz[111]   Amy Seimetz[112]
  Alex England   Alex England[113]  
  Ben Rigby   Ben Rigby[114]  
  Uli Latukefu   Uli Latukefu[115]  


Role Main series Prequel series
Alien: Resurrection
Alien: Covenant
Director Ridley Scott James Cameron David Fincher Jean-Pierre Jeunet Ridley Scott
Writer(s) Story by: Ronald Shusett
Dan O'Bannon
Screenplay by: Dan O'Bannon
Story by: Walter Hill
David Giler
James Cameron
Screenplay by: James Cameron
Story by: Vincent Ward
David Giler
Walter Hill
Larry Ferguson
Joss Whedon Jon Spaihts
Damon Lindelof
Story by: Jack Paglen
Michael Green
Screenplay by: John Logan
Dante Harper
Producer(s) Gordon Carroll
David Giler
Walter Hill
Gale Anne Hurd Gordon Carroll
David Giler
Walter Hill
Gordon Carroll
Bill Badalato
David Giler
Walter Hill
Ridley Scott
David Giler
Walter Hill
Ridley Scott
David Giler
Walter Hill
Mark Huffam
Michael Schaefer
Music(s) Jerry Goldsmith James Horner Elliot Goldenthal John Frizzell Marc Streitenfeld Jed Kurzel
Cinematography Derek Vanlint Adrian Biddle Alex Thomson Darius Khondji Dariusz Wolski
Editor Terry Rawlings
Peter Weatherley
Ray Lovejoy Terry Rawlings Hervé Schneid Pietro Scalia
Production Companies Brandywine Productions Scott Free Productions
Brandywine Productions
Dune Entertainment
Scott Free Productions
Brandywine Productions
TSG Entertainment
Distributor(s) 20th Century Fox
Running time 117 minutes 137 minutes 114 minutes 109 minutes 124 minutes 123 minutes
Release date May 25, 1979 July 18, 1986 May 22, 1992 November 27, 1997 June 8, 2012 May 19, 2017


Box office[edit]

Film Release date Box office revenue Budget References
North America Foreign Worldwide
Alien May 25, 1979 $80,931,801 $122,698,829 $203,630,630 $11 million [116]
Aliens July 18, 1986 $85,160,248 $98,156,207 $183,316,455 $18 million [116]
Alien 3 May 22, 1992 $55,473,545 $104,340,953 $159,814,498 $50 million [116]
Alien: Resurrection November 26, 1997 $47,795,658 $113,580,410 $161,376,068 $70 million [116]
Prometheus June 8, 2012 $126,477,084 $276,877,385 $403,354,469 $125 million [116]
Alien: Covenant May 19, 2017 $72,660,985 $142,300,000 $214,960,985 $97 million [116]
Total $468,499,321 $857,953,784 $1,326,453,105 (E) $371 million
List indicator(s)
  • (E) indicates figures based on available information.

Please note that the figures in this table are not inflation adjusted. Where two different figures are quoted for box office grosses, information is taken from two different sources.

Critical and public reaction[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
Alien 97% (102 reviews)[117] 83 (22 reviews)[118] N/A
Aliens 98% (63 reviews)[119] 87 (9 reviews)[120] A[121]
Alien 3 44% (45 reviews)[122] 59 (20 reviews)[123] C[121]
Alien: Resurrection 54% (71 reviews)[124] 63 (21 reviews)[125] B−[121]
Prometheus 73% (280 reviews)[126] 65 (42 reviews)[127] B[121]
Alien: Covenant 71% (286 reviews)[128] 65 (52 reviews)[129] B[121]

IGN listed Alien as the thirteenth best film franchise of all time.[130] Alien was nominated for two Academy Awards, winning for Best Visual Effects. Aliens received seven nominations, including a Best Actress nomination for Sigourney Weaver, and won for Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Effects. Alien 3 was nominated for Best Visual Effects. Alien was also inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for historical preservation as a film which is "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[131][132] The American Film Institute ranked Alien as the sixth most thrilling American movie and seventh-best film in the science fiction genre, and in the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains list, Ripley was ranked eighth among the heroes, and the Alien was fourteenth among the villains.


Academy Awards[edit]

Award Alien Aliens Alien 3 Alien: Resurrection Prometheus
Actress Nominated
Art Direction Nominated Nominated
Film Editing Nominated
Original Score Nominated
Sound Nominated
Sound Effects Editing Won
Visual Effects Won Won Nominated Nominated

Alien Day[edit]

"Alien Day", April 26, has become the fan celebration day for the Aliens franchise. The date derives from LV-426, the "426" converting to "4/26" or 'April 26'.[133] On Alien Day 2016, Neill Bloomkamp released new art for his concept of Alien 5.[134] On Alien Day 2017, 20th Century Fox released "The Crossing" prologue short film for Alien: Covenant.[135]

Home video releases[edit]

Alien Anthology Region B Blu-ray box set (2012) with the first four films.

There have been dozens of stand-alone releases of the individual films on various formats, including Betamax, VHS, Laserdisc, and DVD, though so far the Blu-ray format has only seen a boxed set of the complete series which houses all the various versions of each film (a total of eight, see Alien Anthology below). The multiple single releases on VHS were generally the original theatrical cuts of each film, though at the very end of the format there was a sole release of the Aliens: Special Edition (see below).

Laserdisc saw single releases of all theatrical versions, as well as two so-called "box sets" which only contained one film (there were two single releases, one each for Alien and Aliens) but had multiple discs and a large amount of supplemental material with a high retail price tag (around $100USD). The Aliens set included a new "Special Edition" cut of the film completed by James Cameron just for this release, which was a significantly extended version of the film.

On DVD initially the films were only available as a boxed set (see Alien Legacy below) but were then released separately (and Aliens was only available in its "Special Edition" cut, not its original theatrical cut which did not make it to DVD until the next boxed set). The same pattern was followed when the two-disc special editions of the films came out after the Alien Quadrilogy set (see below), as each film got individual two-disc releases which contained the content of each film from that set. Since then, there have been multiple issues and reissues of the films, in both their theatrical or extended version, though some single releases include both.

In addition to the single releases, there have been seven complete box sets of the series at various points in its history. With the exception of the DVD version of the Aliens Triple Pack, each release contained all films that had come out at the time the sets were released. The seven box sets each had unique characteristics and features which were then sometimes reused in later sets or single releases in one form or another, most notably the Blu-ray set which includes a detailed archive of many previous releases, including the rare Laserdisc box sets.

  • Alien Triple Pack (VHS version), released on VHS in 1992 containing the first two films in the series and a third cassette with a 23-minute preview of the then upcoming theatrical release of Alien 3.[136] (Not to be confused with the 2008 DVD set of the same name, see below.)
  • Alien Trilogy, released on VHS in 1993, a three-cassette packaging of the original theatrical cuts of Alien, Aliens, and Alien 3.[137]
  • Alien Saga, a UK VHS boxed set released in 1997 with the first three films plus a "Making of Alien: Resurrection" cassette. It was released again in 1998 with the Alien: Resurrection film included. It is also the name of a Japan-exclusive Laserdisc pack containing the first three films was released in 1999[138] (a planned U.S. version was canceled as DVDs were quickly taking over the much smaller domestic Laserdisc market in that country).[139]
  • Alien Legacy, a four-volume set released on both DVD and VHS in 1999, containing the 1991 Laserdisc "Special Edition" cut of Aliens (for the first time on another format), the theatrical versions of the other three films, and on DVD it had various supplemental materials that were either re-used from Laserdisc or newly created.[140]
  • Alien Quadrilogy, released only on DVD in 2003, considered one of the most exhaustive box sets of the DVD era in terms of content and special features, is spread over nine discs : four discs (one disc each) for the theatrical and extended cuts of each film (new "2003" cuts of Alien, Alien 3, and Alien: Resurrection and the previously released 1991 "Special Edition" cut of Aliens), four discs containing special features specific to each film, along with an extra disc of documentaries and other supplemental content.[141][142]
    • The films were later re-released as 2-disc individual titles as part of 20th Century Fox's Collector's Series.
  • Alien Triple Pack (DVD version), released on DVD in 2008 is a 3-disc package including the theatrical cuts of Alien and Alien 3, as well as the "Special Edition" of Aliens, reusing the name of the 1992 VHS set (this was an unusual release in that Alien: Resurrection was not included, making this the first franchise box set it had not appeared in since its release).[143]
  • Alien Anthology, a 2010 Blu-ray Disc exclusive six-disc release, which features two versions of each film (theatrical, and the same new cuts used in the 2003 Alien Quadrilogy DVD set – except for additional work done on the 2003 Alien 3 "Workprint" version which included having some original voice actors come back to re-record poorly captured dialogue in newly inserted extended scenes, and fixed production errors on the "special edition" of Aliens.[144]) and virtually all special features and supplements from the previous releases (including an archive of the special edition Laserdisc box sets with all their image galleries and other unique content). As with the Quadrilogy DVD, the two versions of each film are housed on a single disc each, while the storage capacity of Blu-ray means the previous five discs of special features are included on the remaining two discs in the set, which hold approximately 60 hours of bonus video content and over 12,000 still images.[145] Most subsequent releases of the films on the Blu-ray medium are repackaged versions of the Blu-ray disks contained in this box set. A discount box set removing the two additional discs of bonus features has also been released.
  • Alien/Aliens Dual Pack, released on DVD. This set includes the theatrical cuts of both Alien and Aliens. A separate dual pack was released, containing the theatrical and extended versions of Alien vs. Predator, and the unrated Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem.
  • Prometheus to Alien: The Evolution is a 2012 box set, containing a Blu-ray version of all of the Alien films, and a copy of Prometheus, along with a bonus material disk for Prometheus.
  • All of the Alien films, including Prometheus, have been released in special Steelbook Blu-ray editions of the films, although do not come in a boxed set. While the Alien Steelbooks themselves contain the Blu-ray disk on its own, the Prometheus Steelbook contains both Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D versions of the film, as well as a bonus feature Blu-ray disk with seven hours of bonus features. With the exception of Prometheus, the previous four films had been released as DVD Definitive editions, which featured Steelbook casing and contained both DVD versions of the films and a bonus feature disk.
  • Alien: The 35th Anniversary Edition box set was released in 2014, to mark the 35th anniversary of the release of the film, containing both a Blu-ray and a Digital HD copy, a reprint of Alien: The Illustrated Story and a series of collectible art cards containing artwork by H.R. Giger related to the film. The disk itself is the same as the respective disk on the 2010 Anthology Blu-ray release, and contains MOTHER mode, despite the lack of the required bonus disk. A reprint of the novel by Alan Dean Foster was also released, along with reprints of all other novels, with the Alien: Resurrection novel being available for pre-order, available in May 2015.
  • The Alien Universe box set will be released exclusively by the Wal-Mart retailer on 18 April 2017, which will include four limited edition poster cards designed by Mondo.[146]

Crossover series[edit]

Inspired by the Dark Horse comics series, the filmmakers of Predator 2 (1990) incorporated an easter egg in which an Alien skull was seen in a Predator trophy case. Attempts to create a shared universe between the Alien and Predator franchises followed, through comics and video games, until a film franchise was launched with the release of AVP: Alien vs. Predator in 2004, and a sequel in 2007. The future of the franchise remains uncertain due to a largely negative critical response. A 2014 Dark Horse comics series called Fire and Stone merged the Aliens vs. Predator series with the continuity introduced in Prometheus.

Alien vs. Predator (2004)[edit]

In 2004, a Predator ship arrives in Earth's orbit to draw humans to an ancient Predator training ground on Bouvetøya, an island about one thousand miles north of Antarctica. A buried pyramid which gives off a "heat bloom" attracts humans led by Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen), who unknowingly activates an alien egg production line. Three Predator hunter initiates enter the structure, killing all humans in their way with the intention of hunting the newly formed alien warriors. Two Predators die in the ensuing battle, while the third allies itself with the lone surviving human, Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan) in order to battle the escaped Queen Alien. The Queen is defeated, but not before she fatally wounds the last Predator. The orbiting Predator ship uncloaks and the crew retrieve the fallen Predator. A Predator elder gives Alexa a spear as a sign of respect, and then departs. Once in orbit it is revealed that a chestburster was in the corpse, though this specimen has Predator mandibles.

Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)[edit]

Set immediately after the previous film, the Predalien hybrid on board the Predator scout ship, which just separated from the mothership from the previous film, has grown to full adult size and sets about killing the Predators on board the ship, causing it to crash in Gunnison, Colorado. The last survivor activates a distress beacon with a video of the Predalien, which is received by a veteran Predator, who sets off towards Earth to "clean up" the infestation. When it arrives, the Predator tracks the Aliens into a section of the sewer below town. It removes evidence of their presence as it goes by using a corrosive blue liquid. It uses a laser net to try to contain the creatures, but the Aliens still manage to escape into the town above. The Predator fashions a plasma pistol from its remaining plasma caster and hunts Aliens all across town (accidentally cutting the power to the town in the process). During a confrontation with human survivors, the Predator loses its plasma pistol. The Predator then fights the Predalien single-handedly, and the two mortally wound one another just as the US military drops a tactical nuclear bomb on the town, incinerating both combatants and the few remaining humans in the city. The salvaged plasma pistol is then taken to Ms. Yutani.

Other media[edit]

There have been numerous products released in various media including several video games and print publications. These include:


Several novels have been released based on the franchise, some original novels alongside novelizations of all six films in the series as well as adaptions of some of the comics.

Original novels include:

  • Out of the Shadows
  • Sea of Sorrows
  • River of Pain
  • Aliens: Bug Hunt


The comic book additions to the franchise consist mostly of a line published by Dark Horse Comics.

  • Alien: Isolation
  • Aliens: Defiance
  • Aliens: Defiance - Extravehicular (FCBD)
  • Alien: The Illustrated Story
  • Aliens: Newt's Tale
  • Aliens (1988) Book One
  • Aliens: Horror Show
  • Aliens (1989) Book Two
  • Aliens: Countdown
  • Aliens: Earth War
  • Aliens: The Alien
  • Aliens: Genocide
  • Aliens: Music of the Spears
  • Aliens: Hive
  • Aliens: Rogue
  • Aliens: Colonial Marines (1993)
  • Aliens: Mondo Pest
  • Aliens: Mondo Heat
  • Aliens: Backsplash
  • Aliens: Labyrinth
  • Aliens: Stronghold
  • Dark Horse Presents: Aliens
  • Alien 3
  • Aliens: Advent/Terminus
  • Aliens: Reapers
  • Aliens: Tribes
  • Aliens: Renegade
  • Aliens: Sacrifice
  • Alien 3: Terminal Addiction
  • Aliens: Taste
  • Aliens: Crusade
  • The Compleat Aliens [sic]
  • Aliens: Salvation
  • Aliens: Cargo
  • Aliens: Alien
  • Operation: Aliens
  • Aliens: Matrix
  • Aliens: Earth Angel
  • Aliens: Berserker
  • Aliens: Incubation
  • Aliens: Lucky
  • Aliens: Lovesick
  • Aliens: Headhunters
  • Aliens: Pig
  • Aliens: Border Lines
  • Aliens: Special
  • Aliens: 45 Seconds
  • Aliens: Elder Gods
  • Aliens: Havoc
  • Aliens: Purge
  • Aliens: Alchemy
  • Alien Resurrection
  • Aliens: Kidnapped
  • Aliens: Tourist Season
  • Aliens: Survival
  • Aliens: Glass Corridor
  • Aliens: Stalker
  • Aliens: Wraith
  • Aliens: Apocalypse
  • Aliens: Once in a Lifetime
  • Aliens
  • Aliens / Aliens: More Than Human
  • Aliens: Fast Track to Heaven
  • Aliens: Inhuman Condition
  • Aliens: Colonial Marines: No Man Left Behind
  • Aliens: Field Report
  • Aliens 30th Anniversary: The Original Comics Series
  • Aliens (1988)
  • Aliens: Desert Storm
  • Aliens: Operation: Rescue
  • Aliens: Hive War
  • Aliens: Jungle Attack
  • Aliens: Meltdown
  • Aliens: Showdown
  • Aliens: Stampede
  • Aliens: Fireball
  • Aliens: Night Strike
  • Aliens: Swarm
  • Aliens: Terrordome
  • Aliens: Ice Storm
  • Illegal Aliens

Video games[edit]

The first game based on the franchise was Alien (1982) for the Atari 2600, a game heavily based on Pac-Man. Another Alien game based on the first film was released in 1984.

Aliens was adapted into four different video games: two different 1986 games titled Aliens: The Computer Game, a collection of minigames by Activision and a first-person shooter by Software Studios, as well as two different games titled Aliens, a 1987 MSX platformer by Square and a 1990 arcade shoot 'em up by Konami.

Acclaim released three different games based on Alien 3, two different run and gun platformers (one for various platforms in 1992, another for the SNES a year later) and a Game Boy adventure game in 1993; Sega also released a light gun arcade game Alien 3: The Gun in 1993.

Acclaim's first-person shooter Alien Trilogy was released in 1996. More recently, a video game adaptation of the Alien film was 2000's Alien Resurrection, a PlayStation first-person shooter.

Other Alien games include Mindscape's adventure game Aliens: A Comic Book Adventure (1995), the first-person shooter Aliens Online (1998), the Game Boy Color action game Aliens: Thanatos Encounter (2001), the mobile phone game Aliens: Unleashed (2003), and the arcade game Aliens: Extermination (2006).

In (2014), Play Mechanix and Raw thrills released Aliens: Armageddon.[147] A rail gun first person shooter that hit arcades soon after. It has received praise, though it has been criticized for only being four chapters long. These rail gun shooters come in two cabinets for arcades, one featuring a larger screen and assault rifles in place of laser rifles (Although you use an assault rifle throughout the game regardless), and the other featuring a slightly smaller screen and laser rifles.

In 2006, Sega struck a deal with Fox Licensing to release two new Alien video games on Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.[148] One of them, a first-person shooter by Gearbox Software, Aliens: Colonial Marines, was released on February 12, 2013, in the United States of America on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows.[149][150] The game is set between Aliens and Alien 3, following a group of marines sent to investigate the Sulaco who wound up crash-landing on LV-426.[151][152] Sega also released a Nintendo DS game Aliens Infestation in 2011.[153]

In 2014, Sega published Alien: Isolation. Developed by The Creative Assembly the game launched on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms on 7 October 2014. It was directed by Alistair Hope and produced by Jonathan Court and Oli Smith. Part of the Alien series, the game is set in 2137, 15 years after the events of Alien and 42 years prior to Aliens. The game follows Amanda Ripley, who is investigating the disappearance of her mother Ellen Ripley. Amanda is transferred to the space station Sevastopol to find the flight recorder of the Nostromo only to discover an Alien has terrorized the station and killed the vast majority of the crew.[154]

Role-playing game[edit]

In academia[edit]

The Bishop character has been the subject of literary and philosophical analysis as a high-profile android character conforming to science fiction author Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics and as a model of a compliant, potentially self-aware machine.[155] The portrayal of androids in the Alien series—Ash in Alien, Bishop in Aliens and Alien 3, and Call (Winona Ryder) in Alien: Resurrection (1997)—has been studied for its implications relating to how humans deal with the presence of an "Other",[156] as Ripley treats them with fear and suspicion, and a form of "hi-tech racism and android apartheid" is present throughout the series.[157] This is seen as part of a larger trend of technophobia in films prior to the 1990s, with Bishop's role being particularly significant as he redeems himself at the end of Aliens, thus confounding Ripley's expectations.[158]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]