Bishop (Alien)

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Lance Bishop
Bishop (Alien).png
Lance Henriksen as Bishop in Aliens.
First appearance Aliens
Created by James Cameron and William Gibson
Portrayed by Lance Henriksen
Species Synthetic
Gender Male
Occupation Science officer

Lance Bishop is a fictional character in the movie Aliens, who was portrayed by actor Lance Henriksen. The character is the science officer of the Sulaco, and whose actions (and self-sacrifice) are critical to the survival of Ellen Ripley. When Ripley discovers that Bishop, like Ash (an antagonist of the first Alien film), is also an android, she treats him with extreme distrust due to her previous experiences.

Character development[edit]


Main article: Aliens (film)

Lance Bishop (Lance Henriksen), the android executive officer assigned to the Sulaco, is primarily responsible for planetary maneuvering. When he introduces himself to Ripley, he says that his programming demands complete loyalty (unlike Ash); Ripley is initially distrustful. After most of the Colonial Marines are wiped out by the Aliens on LV-426, Bishop is a medic and technician who ensures that the company's dropship receives Ripley, Newt and Hicks. When he boards the Sulaco, he is impaled and bisected by the stowaway Alien Queen. When Ripley defeats the Queen by opening the airlock, Bishop saves Newt. He is placed into cryosleep with Ripley, Newt and Hicks.


Main article: Alien 3

When the Sulaco crashes into Fury 161 in Alien3, Bishop is damaged beyond repair and thrown into the prison's landfill. Ripley later reactivates Bishop in order to access the black box recorder of the Sulaco, learning from him that there had been a Xenomorph aboard the Sulaco, that it was now on the planet with them, and that this information had been transmitted directly to Weyland-Yutani. After giving Ripley the information she wanted, Bishop asked to be disconnected, stating that while he could be repaired, he would never be the state-of-the-art android he once was; Ripley obliged him. His remains were later retrieved by the Weyland-Yutani Bio-Weapons Division that arrived on the planet to capture Ripley and the Xenomorph, headed by Bishop's designer, Michael Bishop.


Henriksen was one of the several actors, including Michael Biehn and Bill Paxton, cast in Aliens who had collaborated with James Cameron on The Terminator.[1] Roz Kaveney, in her analysis of Ash in From Alien to The Matrix: Reading Science Fiction Film, draws parallels to Bishop as a representation of the Three Laws of Robotics. Although Ash's programming allows (and encourages) harming humans, Bishop puts human life above all else in accordance with the First Law of Robotics.[2] Bishop was studied by LeiLani Nishime of the University of Texas Press in 2005 as a theoretical dramatization of how humans would deal with the presence of an Other concerning Ripley's initial apprehension about being near a synthetic after her life-threatening encounter with Ash.[3] According to an article by Anton Karl Kozlovic of the University of Nebraska Omaha, Bishop's altruistic actions (which include rescuing Newt and Ripley) contradict a trend towards technophobia in pre-1990 films.[4]

In Cameron's original treatment for Aliens, Bishop never actually sets foot on LV-426 and remains aboard the Sulaco in orbit. He also refuses to rescue the survivors at the end of the story, saying that his programming will not allow him to risk the Xenomorphs potentially contaminating the ship and subsequently spreading throughout the human race. In William Gibson's unproduced script for Alien3, Bishop and Hicks became the series' main characters in lieu of Ripley, and they, along with another group of Colonial Marines, are involved in a Xenomorph outbreak on a massive space station, where the Aliens are being bred and studied for use as a bio-weapon. The screenplay ended with a cliffhanger setting up a fourth movie that would take place on Earth. The script was eventually rejected, although it is widely available to read online.

Knife trick[edit]

To create the effect of Bishop performing the "knife trick" at inhuman speed, the footage of the scene was sped up. This creates a rather apparent goof in the film, whereby other characters in the background can be also seen moving at an unrealistically accelerated rate, most notably Sergeant Apone, whose head can be seen moving up and down incredibly fast as he laughs.

While the origins of the knife game are as of December 2016 unknown, Aliens is widely known for popularizing it; "Bishop" has even become an alternate name for the game. It has also been referenced within the wider Alien and Alien vs. Predator 'franchises themselves — Charles Bishop Weyland briefly uses a pen to do the game in the 2004 film Alien vs. Predator and the game appears in the 2011 Nintendo DS video game Aliens: Infestation as an unlockable minigame.


  1. ^ Valentine, Genevieve (June 18, 2015). "How Aliens set the gold standard for supporting casts". The Dissolve. Retrieved April 30, 2016. 
  2. ^ Kaveney 2005, p. 150.
  3. ^ Nishime, LeiLani (Winter 2005). "The Mulatto Cyborg: Imagining a Multiracial Future". Cinema Journal. University of Texas Press. 44 (2): 34–49. doi:10.1353/cj.2005.0011. 
  4. ^ Kozlovic, Anton Karl (September 2003). "Technophobic themes in pre-1990 computer films". Science as Culture. Carfax Publishing. 12 (3): 341–373. doi:10.1080/09505430309008.