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Captain Scarlet character
Mars home.jpg
Mysteron colony on Mars, as seen in the original series
First appearance "The Mysterons"
(Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons)
Instrument of Destruction, Part 1
(Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet)
Last appearance "The Inquisition"
(Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons)
(Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet)
Created by Gerry Anderson
Voiced by Donald Gray
(Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons)
Gary Martin
(Captain Scarlet and the Return of the Mysterons)
Mike Hayley
(Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet)
Species Martian collective artificial intelligence

The Mysterons are a fictional race of extraterrestrials. They are the remnants of the original Mysteron race, extraterrestrial life forms that originated in a galaxy other than the Milky Way and maintained their colony on Mars. They appear in the British science-fiction Supermarionation television series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967–68) and Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet (2005), symbolised by ubiquitous projected green rings and the deep bass voice of their human convert, Captain Black.


Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons[edit]

Hostilities between Earth and the Mysterons commence following a Zero-X expedition on Mars led by Captain Black of the Earth security organisation Spectrum. The purpose of the mission had been to locate the source of radio signals that Spectrum had detected emanating from the planet. The Zero-X astronauts discover an alien city complex on the Martian surface. After mistaking a surveillance camera for a weapons placement, Black fears an attack and, in violation of his orders, launches an assault on the complex that destroys it completely. However, the city is almost immediately rebuilt before their eyes as a blue beam of light passes over the ruins.

Identifying themselves as the Mysterons, the aliens claim to have discovered the secret of "reversing matter" (a power later referred to as "retrometabolism"). They have the ability to alter matter (using some sort of teleportation technology), to heal any physical injury, and to re-create the exact likeness of any object or person – a power they can exercise only after the original object has been destroyed or the original person killed. Dedicating themselves to a "slow, but nonetheless effective" retaliation for the unprovoked attack on their Martian complex, the Mysterons seize telepathic control of Black and return him to Earth, making him instrumental in avenging the Mysterons by recruiting other persons and objects in a similar fashion.

However, the Mysterons' attempt to assassinate the World President – for the purposes of which they kill and re-create Spectrum's foremost agent, Captain Scarlet, as an indestructible doppelganger – fails when a kidnapping of the president is foiled and the Scarlet reconstruction falls to its apparent death from the top of a tower, later regaining the consciousness of the original, human officer (how this happens is never explained in the series canon).

The Mysterons themselves are never seen on screen. They broadcast their threats by radio, often disguising their intentions with word play- such as stating that they will 'Kill Time' when they intend to kill a major Spanish official whose surname is 'Tiempo' (Spanish for 'Time') in the episode (Operation Time)-, and are represented visually only by twin rings of green light, suggestive of eyes, that they project onto scenes of murder and destruction of their making from which likenesses emerge. The Mysteron likenesses created are impervious to X-Rays- showing up on X-Rays as though they were conventional photographs- and can only be destroyed by massive amounts of electricity. The recreation process they use only requires the subject to be clinically dead before the copy is created; in one episode (Treble Cross), World Air Force test pilot Major Gravener, who the Mysterons had attacked and copied was later resuscitated in hospital, allowing Spectrum to set a trap for the Mysterons by sending the real Major Gravner out in place of his duplicate.

Anderson originally intended the Mysterons to be more conventional Martians, later choosing to make them effectively invisible so that the series would not feel dated. The TV Century 21 comic book depicted the Mysterons as both energy beings and a computer collective.

Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet[edit]

The final episode of the re-imagined series, Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet, reveals a great deal about the Mysterons as they exist in the version of the new series. They live in a city on Mars that is normally hidden from view. The city appears on the surface of Mars for the first time in 2068, during the ill-fated mission commanded by Captain Black (Instrument of Destruction, Part 1). They are categorically stated to be energy beings, with one being shown to be capable of transforming into the "green rings", and are to some extent individualised – there is a dissenting faction in the "Mysteron consciousness" (as a member of the faction puts it) that believes that, given time, humans will outgrow their destructive impulses and become more like the Mysterons themselves. Unfortunately for the series' protagonists, this group has virtually no influence, and their only agent dispatched to Earth was quickly de-corporalised and remanded into Mysteron custody by the majority group's primary agent, Black.

The Mysterons were first discovered by Spectrum captains Scarlet and Black during an investigation into the source of strange signals emanating from Mars. They appear as a pair of green rings; however, it is not known whether this is the result of technology. The Mysterons claim to be peaceful beings, but wage a "war of nerves" against the people of Earth following Black's devastating assault on the Mysteron city.

The Mysterons possess the ability to reconstruct exact replicas of objects or persons. It is due to this remarkable ability that they are able to re-create their city following Black's attack. They also employ this power from time to time during the "Mysteronisation" process, which imbues the reconstruction (dubbed "replicant" by Spectrum) with the power of "retro-metabolisation" – the replicant is able to heal completely from almost any injury, including fatal ones. The only known survivor of the process is Scarlet, who retains his retro-metabolism and remains virtually indestructible, an ability which is a great asset in his work.

Mysterons are also able to control the minds of their human victims, whether the subject has been replicated or not. Mysterons make use of hypnosis for short-term control, as demonstrated by the replicant of Commander Lewis on Doctor Gold ("The Homecoming"). To create a full agent, they use the reconstruction process which leaves them in total control of the victim's body.

The Mysteronisation process alters the replicants at the sub-atomic level and subtly alters their genetic code. It is this alteration of DNA that leaves them vulnerable to detection, and as such all Spectrum personnel are subject to regular DNA checking.


Alasdair Wilkins and Sophie Bushwick of the entertainment website io9 categorise the Mysterons as an example of the "monstrous and evil" variety of Martian commonly seen in film, television and literature, and rank them second only to the invaders of the H. G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds (1897) for malevolence.[1]

Wilkins and Bushwick describe the Mysterons as "an unfathomable race of probably non-corporeal entities";[1] to cultural historian Nicholas J. Cull, they are a species of "invisible" extraterrestrial.[2] The tie-in publication The Complete Book of Captain Scarlet, by Chris Bentley, refutes the suggestion that the Mysterons featured in the series are a type of energy being, stating explicitly that they are "sentient computers" forming a group consciousness, possessing the ability to manipulate matter.[3] The Martian computer complex is the legacy of the original, corporeal Mysteron species – said to be of extragalactic origin and "masters in the art of computer technology" – who arrived on Mars in the mid–2nd millennium BC and left the planet at the start of the 20th century AD.[3]

For Cull, that the Mysterons are unseen makes them all the more "terrifying".[2] Cull, who has studied Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons as a media product of the Cold War, judges the Mysterons and their "war of nerves" against Earth to be instrumental to the epitomisation of what he terms the "Cold War scenario", a theme stated to be common to several of the Andersons' television works.[2] He alludes to other science fiction of the era, stating that the Mysterons' power of reconstruction "creates an ever-present danger of an enemy within, which is the stuff of archetypal Cold War paranoia narratives on the model of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)."[2] In Cull's view, the "scenario" offered by Captain Scarlet displays a progressive, contemporary attitude towards the Cold War in so far as the destruction of the Mysterons' base by humans in the first episode "opens the issue of blame and invites reflection on the guilt of one's own side."[2]

Commenting on the characterisation of the villains in the 2005 re-make, David Garland suggests that the Mysterons' continued focus on "terrorising" Earth remotely, as opposed to invading it physically, "holds particular contemporary resonance".[4]

Actor Cy Grant, who voiced the original Lieutenant Green character and interpreted Captain Scarlet as having positive multicultural value,[5][6] commented on the allegorical nature of the series.[5] On the subject of colour dualism, Grant asserted: "The 'darkness' of the Mysterons is most easily seen as the psychological rift—the struggle of 'good' and 'evil' — of the Western world as personified by Colonel White and his team. Dark and light are but aspects of each other. Incidentally, green is the colour of nature that can heal that rift."[6]


  1. ^ a b Wilkins, Alasdair; Bushwick, Sophie (23 November 2011). "io9's Field Guide to Martians". io9. Gawker Media. Archived from the original on 12 April 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Cull, Nicholas J. (August 2006). "Was Captain Black Really Red? The TV Science Fiction of Gerry Anderson in its Cold War Context". Media History. Routledge. 12 (2): 193–207. doi:10.1080/13688800600808005. ISSN 1368-8804. OCLC 364457089. 
  3. ^ a b Bentley, Chris (2001). The Complete Book of Captain Scarlet. London: Carlton Books. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-84222-405-2. 
  4. ^ Garland, David (2009). "Pulling the Strings: Gerry Anderson's Walk from 'Supermarionation' to 'Hypermarionation'". In Geraghty, Lincoln. Channeling the Future: Essays on Science Fiction and Fantasy Television. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-8108-6922-6. 
  5. ^ a b Grant, Cy (2007). "Lieutenant Green and De Anderson CODE – Spectrums, Subconscious Connections & Synchronicities". Archived from the original on 23 January 2008. 
  6. ^ a b La Rivière, Stephen (2009). Filmed in Supermarionation: A History of the Future. Neshannock, Pennsylvania: Hermes Press. p. 160. ISBN 978-1-932563-23-8.