They come in peace – But other times they come to turn your land into pieces, or just evaporated all together. Aliens are a tricky subject to get right; Do you make them into an evil species whose sole purpose is to cause carnage and mayhem? Or perhaps you turn them into a long forgotten race who is looking for their way in the cruel, dark universe. Whatever you like to think of when you think of an alien, there’s no doubt there’s many of them in pop culture.
We love all the different alien species out there; but it’s time for us to narrow it down to just 10 of them (Though we’ll as always give a nod to two more as well). So grab your popcorn, we’re about to go in search for life in space as we count down our Top 10 Aliens!
10) Paul – Paul
Turns out the classic Roswell image of the grey-skinned, big-eyed alien, isn’t quite so original as we thought. In Pegg and Frost’s comedy about embracing life we meet the friendly invader Paul, far more squat than the drawn out silhouettes descending from the UFO, and far friendlier too. After decades on earth he’s grown accustomed to the lifestyle, and he’s even put his own stamp on it over time.
Paul has incredible powers, he can heal major afflictions with a touch, turn invisible by holding his breath, and is a master with a butt-probe joke. If some of those powers sound familiar, it’s because our little visitor has been anonymously advising the masters of pop culture over the years. E.T.? His idea. Worked on X-Files too, of course without Chris Carter seeing him.
Good film, not enough people have watched it.
9) Migi – Parasyte -the maxim-
Migi is a parasitic alien from an undisclosed place – In the universe. He and his kind came to Earth with the intention to find a host to survive off. They like to go in through the ear, or a nostril – Or something of the sorts. Once in, they take over the brain, then can morph the skin to an elastic state and bend the properties of the body to their will.
Migi, however, isn’t like the other aliens. He’s all about survival and nothing more. Having realised he can’t take over the brain of his body, he learns that he kinda needs the boy to survive… And vice versa. All of these parasites can home in on one another – And he’s very ready to fight his own kind. Especially as together they find out that the aliens are killing humans, not for survival, but as sport alone. Plus, he looks hilarious…
8) Zoidberg – Futurama
Well why not?
It’s hard to tell exactly what Dr John Zoidberg is, those tentacles are very squiddy, but how they wiggle so flexibly in his hard carapace is very surreal, but who’s looking for consistency in Futurama but nerds, really? The inept surgeon and entire medical team of the Planetary Express crew is a genius when it comes to sewing bits of things to other things but when it comes to human anatomy that’s about his limit.
Neglected, abused, ignored, and living in a dumpster for which he cannot quite afford the rent, it has been questioned repeatedly why Zoidberg is even kept on the payroll, but there’s no denying that he’s been useful on occasion! He, uh…
Ummm… Let’s move on?
7) Tripods – War of the Worlds
The greatest invaders we have ever encountered, cunning, powerful, unknowable. We were not prepared for the tripods, and arriving by meteor makes for a stealthy, if inelegant approach. No weapon we had was adequate, no tactics could be enacted fast enough, our extinction was very nearly assured, until it transpired that we were better equipped than we thought. It’s worth mentioning that the tripods themselves aren’t aliens per se, but they were sent to Earth by the Martians. However, these machines were of alien technology to humans, which makes them enough of an alien to fit the bill here.
Through one hugely impactful radio performance, one legendary film, one adequate film, and a soundtrack that has already become part of our cultural history, the War of the Worlds is sci-fi history as much as Isaac Asimov and Space Invaders. They were so wonderfully different to humans, and maybe we’ve lost a little of that imaginative power, but being killed by the common cold does seem anticlimactic, no matter how reassuring a notion might be.
6) Plavalaguna – Fifth Element
She may not be the immediate vision that springs to mind at the word “Alien”, and apart from the tentacles and blue skin she’s not outlandishly different to humans, but that voice! Star attraction of the Fhloston Paradise Cruise Ship, the operatic diva was entrusted with the keys to four of the five elements that form a weapon of light. She’s no great combatant, but she’s certainly cunning.
She also has a vocal range that vastly exceeds that of a human, all with a set of four foot-long stones jammed into her abdomen, rather than the elaborate looking chest she escorts with her everywhere she travels. No doubt given time and without all of the bloodloss she’d have been able to give a less cryptic hint as to how to activate the great weapon.
5) Abe – Oddworld
Gamers from the 90’s and in the PlayStation era will be very familiar with Abe and his oddities. He’s a worker, who wants to break free of oppression and become his own free self. Of course, the joy of being a worker like Abe is that he’s also an alien who has a lot of personality. Whether it’s telling someone to follow him, or to find a witty way to overcome an obstacle, Abe and the Oddworld series is renowned for it’s clever humour and all around ‘good guy feels’.
Thinking back, Oddworld might be the strangest entry on this list. In modern years, it’s not really been around and Abe is a character that is a lot more niche than say the Tripods of War of the Worlds. With this in mind however, it’s worth pointing out that at the peak of his popularity, he really helped pave the way for platformer games of it’s ilk in the early 00’s and even today. What’s more, this is a perfect time to mention Abe: He’s coming back in the all new Oddworld: Soulstorm.
4) Tyranid – Warhammer 40,000
I have a grievance with human-shaped aliens. Why do we rarely see sapient cuttlefish, or termites with culture and organisation? Eldar, Tau, Orkz, Necrons? All a fairly human set up, but hey, maybe it’s just the galaxy we come from, right? Good job we’ve got an extragalactic race to join the fray, something truly alien, about as Xeno as Xenos get.
From what little we know of the swarming, consuming hordes insectile/reptiles, it seems that all of our neighbouring galaxies have already been scoured of every other life form, and that despite the squabbles of the natives we’re somehow holding out. But there’s something far bigger, the codexes only contain the scouting forces. The collective hive are cultivating our biomass, readying the greater controlling minds to arrive with the bulk of the Tyranid forces.
3) Frieza – DragonBall Z
Filthy Namekians needn’t apply here, nor do any dirty Saiyan monkeys – We thought long and hard about the greatest alien in all of anime and manga and it’s hard to really argue against the terror of the universe – Lord Frieza. Evil, manipulative, a dictator who lives in a pod and can seriously back up his claims. Trust us when we say this, Frieza is the real deal and if aliens come to Earth and act anything like Frieza, we should all surrender before our planet is destroyed.
Frieza destroyed Planet Vegeta, the home of the saiyans. Frieza took Goku to his limit and killed most of the Z-Warriors who were alive at the time. Goku had to undergo extremely immense training just to fight Frieza and the training pushed Goku into the realm of a Super Saiyan. It’s fair to say, without the Namek / Frieza saga making little boys and girls tune in after school, that anime might not have been such a huge hit here in the UK.
2) Klingons – Star Trek
A warlike humanoid species from Star Trek takes our second spot. We’re happy to admit here that we definitely like a bit of Star Trek… But there’s one thing that makes the Klingons so well loved and understood as aliens. They are an easy to understand race of warriors, who have a massive backstory which isn’t just crushed into an episode. You grow to learn more about them with every episode with them present – and they’re hugely important to the Star Trek franchise. Whilst the Federation are the main stars, it’s not fair to call their Klingon allies “second best”. They’re equals to the Federation.
The Klingons are easily one of the most recognisable names in all of pop culture – Let alone in this Top 10 list. The joy of this list was we had such room for scope, that we knew we had to get something pretty massive in at numbers 3, 2 and 1. Due to the mass knowledge of the Klingons, this automatically succeeded the terror of the universe. Instead, there’s only one alien we can think of that deserves the number one slot more than these guys… And that was no easy thing to admit.
1) ‘Xenomorph’ XX121 – Alien Franchise
What do you think of when you hear the word Alien? One horror series defined the word for generations, that slick, black, strangely skeletal predator that hunts and kills from the shadows, for food, for a host, perhaps a little for the sport. There is no reasoning with such a ruthless intelligence bent only on death, and very little defence from an enemy so cunning, and even if you can make it bleed, make sure you’re not too close.
The xenomorphs that made H.R. Giger a household name for sci-fi and horror geeks across the world have very much become the definition of alien… and ok, that may be because of the name of the series… it’s almost certainly because of the name of the series, but the xenos are something incomprehensible to our minds, not simply alien in form, but alien in mind.
Predators still win in a fight, but c’mon, Giger’s Xenomorphs are so much cooler! Debate that on Facebook or the comments section, but we’ve made up our minds.
With a whole galaxy brimming with fictional life to choose from, how are we to narrow our list down to a mere ten notable examples? Once again we plumb deepest depths of space, reach the most distant stars and pay homage to those who didn’t quite make the list.
The Aliens of Star Wars
We couldn’t really name any single example from Star Wars. Yoda, Jabba, Wookies, Ewoks? Not Jar-Jar, never Jar-Jar, but are any one of the alien races from Star Wars so distinct, so incredible that they need to find a place on the list?
Let us not forget that the story takes place in a galaxy far, far away. There are no humans, no matter how human-like they may look, so all of your favourite characters from the series are aliens. They stand together, undivided by appearance or biology, but in perpetual war over matters of philosophy, faith, and culture. But we couldn’t settle on any one of their number that was worth bumping off our main list members, so as glorious a series as Star Wars is… welcome to the honourable mentions.
Aliens – Toy Story
Okay, now that I’ve got the obligatory Oooooo out of the way, let’s talk about these adorable little ‘aliens’. First things first, they actually aren’t aliens (*Gasp!*) They are, in fact, toys – Just like everything else in Toy Story. With this in mind, we couldn’t really put these aliens in our Top 10 Aliens list. This doesn’t mean that they couldn’t get an honourable mention, there’s also a lot of reasons to include them.
Whilst many might have thought of the Toy Soldiers as a sort of mascot of the franchise, nearly everyone else knows that the true stars of Toy Story are the aliens. Whether it’s fantasizing over The Claw, letting out audible noises of awe, or if they’re trying to explain where the heroes should go, the Aliens are adorable. Plus, I think most kids in the world wanted to have their own Alien toy at some point.
Honourable Honourable Mention
Oh god, I don’t remember the last time we did this… But this was such a massive topic that was chosen, that we really had no choice. You might have noticed one of the most important aliens in film hasn’t been mentioned yet. Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you…
E.T – The Extra Terrestrial
Yes, he phoned home, yes he returned and yes, he was one of the most deeply emotional movies of his time. No, he’s not the best movie ever made. No, he’s not got anything truly special about him. But instead, E.T. is one of those characters that was only so good because of what he represented.
He was innocent and he made aliens accessible to everyone. The storytelling was truly magical and it doesn’t matter what you think about it: E.T is easily the most influential alien ever created. We couldn’t put him into the Top 10, as it’s our Top 10 and we don’t feel he’s as good as what’s in our list, but we couldn’t forget him.
We’re done with the aliens and the surreal; we’re done searching for life out there – It’s time to round up this week’s Top 10 list. I’m just as sad as you are, as that means it’s another 7 days before the next one. But don’t you worry, for you get to do another task for us! You get to decide what is our pick for next week – But let’s hope it’s not another three way tie, so we don’t have to roll for it again..!
Time to stop searching for an alien, I’m sure we can’t probe any further with these analogies. Now we must look to you dear reader, to give us a response to our list. What did you think of our Top 10 choices? Did we miss any out? What did you think of our order? As always, let us know what you think in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.