The First Men in the Moon 1919


Lord Wiki provides a list of movie alien appearances (or aliens implied), you can see it here. Throughout this page is a pictorial gallery of movie aliens from various decades throughout sci-fi film history.


The Thing From Another World 1951


The Man from Planet X 1951


Invaders From Mars 1953


It Came From Outer Space 1953


This Island Earth 1955


Invasion of the Saucer-Men 1957


It! The Terror from Beyond Space 1958


I Married a Monster
from Outer Space 1958


The X from Outer Space 1967


The Man Who Fell to Earth 1976


Close Encounters of the Third Kind 1977


E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 1982


The Thing 1982


The Last Starfighter 1984


Cocoon 1985


Enemy Mine 1985


The Hidden 1987


Alien Nation 1988


They Live 1988


The Abyss 1989


I Come in Peace 1990


Species 1995


Dark City 1998


Galaxy Quest 1999


Signs 2002


The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 2005


Transformers 2007


Green Lantern 2011





The Birth of the Sci-Fi Alien
By SFMZ Webmaster


Over the last few decades, our beloved movie alien characters have practically become as commonplace as the western or cop character. Like any film genre's characters, the movie alien has deep roots in literature. So it's in print text we must go back to explore when the alien character first started surfacing in science fiction stories.

One could argue ancient writings describing gods were loosely based on aliens. That's a whole other topic to tap, so I will keep this article focused on aliens, as in extraterrestrials that the stories made it abundantly clear they were other-worldly beings. Other types of sci-fi characters I will exclude are beings from other dimensions, humans from the future, cyborgs, androids, etc.

Perhaps the earliest known mention of true aliens doesn't really come from sci-fi works, but it very well could have been a catalyst. The French Astronomist Nicolas Camille Flammarion wrote a manuscript in 1858 called 'Cosmologie Universelle.'

In this work, he explores the theory of Mars' canals, suggesting they were built by advanced civilizations. He later wrote 'Real and Imaginary Worlds' in 1864 and 'Lumen' in 1887, where he expands on the idea of a range of exotic species, including sentient plants which combine the processes of digestion and respiration.

The fusion of science, science fiction and the spiritual influenced other readers. Imagine the authors who were exploring for ideas in the new literature genre sci-fi, what fantastical tales they could drum up with this plot device. George Griffith and Edgar Rice Burroughs are noted for being inspired by Flammarion's theories.

Another possible candidate who could be credited for the birth of the sci-fi alien is the Italian Astronomist Giovanni Schiaparelli, known for his research on Mar's "canali" or canals in 1877.

From the incorrect translation into the term "canals", various assumptions were made about life on Mars; as these assumptions were popularized, the "canals" of Mars became famous, giving rise to waves of hypotheses, speculation, and folklore about the possibility of intelligent life on Mars, the Martians.

While H.G. Wells War of the Worlds 1898 is the most famous of the earliest sci-fi literature mentioning aliens, 'The Germ Growers,' joint written by Robert Easterley and John Wilbraham, was published six years before Well's novel.

Their novel centered on the Australian Kimberleys where human characters bore witness to the activities of alien flying craft and even the concept of benevolent alien creatures. Clemson.edu describes the nature of aliens in this very early period of sci-fi as:

"Aliens are seen as Darwinian Competitors; The idea of invasion is supreme.; The view of the relationship between aliens and humans is similar to cowboys and Indians.; Aliens are not realistic; they are seen mostly as grotesque; and Specistic- The benevolent aliens are mamalian or avian while the malevolent aliens are reptilian or insectoid."

This article could be soley dedicated in exploring many other examples of aliens in early sci-fi literature, but this is a sci-fi movie site. Let's settle with the examples above for the literary arena and move on to the arrival of movie aliens. The sci-fi movie alien has some of the most visually iconic entities such as H.R. Giger's Alien creature, Steven Spielberg's E.T., among others.


The First Movie Alien

Anyone can easily find the first movie alien by simply googling those words, which the most common answer is Georges Méliès A Trip to the Moon 1902, featuring moon creatures called Selenites, which are nothing more than actors in simple costumes.

From this beginning, movie aliens were a rarity for the next four decades, with Flash Gordon's aliens, including the Martian villain Ming the Merciless, being the more high profile other-worldly characters.

It was the Atomic Age, the fifties, where the movie alien burst on to the big screen in greater numbers. From peaceful aliens with a stern warning for mankind (The Day the Earth Stood Still) to vicious aliens bent on replacing mankind (The Invasion of the Body Snatchers), the fifties offered up a wide variety of aliens in all their cheesiest glory.

Many of the alien creatures were quite ridiculous visually by today's film standards. Though there were exceptions such as Forbidden Planet which used animation to create ferocious alien creatures. Many of the fifties aliens were similar to humanoid shape, but there were exceptions to that also such as Steve McQueen's The Blob 1958.

In the sixties, the movie alien more or less disappeared once again with very few films featuring E.T.'s. In fact, the highly praised 2001: A Space Odyssey, we never even see the advanced alien race that apparently planted large monoliths within our grasp. Or at least within grasp of our solar system.

For the seventies, George Lucas' Star Wars quite possibly introduced more types of differing aliens in that film alone than all the alien related films of this decade. Star Trek The Motion Picture had it's fair share of E.T.'s also.

And arguably the most visually iconic alien creature of all time is H.R. Giger's Alien creature, based from his earlier biomechanoid paintings. Not to mention, the superhero was added to the big blockbluster arena with the alien orphan from the planet Krypton, Superman.

Movie aliens had a thriving presence in the eighties, with the more famous being Spielberg's E.T., John Carpenter's The Thing, and John McTiernan's Predator. James Cameron took H.R. Giger's Alien to a new level by introducing the Queen alien.

And the Star Wars sequels brought along even more alien creatures with Yoda possibly the most popular of that film universe. The Alien franchise along with the Star Trek franchise continued the march of aliens in the nineties along with a few other films.

Certainly worth a mention is the menacing aliens of Independence Day and their weapons of mass destruction. While aggressive aliens of the nineties, including The Arrival and Starship Troopers, continued to thrive at the box office, there was also a fair share of comedic aliens such as Men in Black, Galaxy Quest, and Mars Attacks.

The new millennium so far has been like a sampler plate from benevolent to hostile aliens such as K-PAX and Signs. What appears to be missing from this current time period is a truly iconic alien to call it's own.

It's line up has been mainly already established star alien creatures via remakes, prequels, and sequels such as more Men in Black, The Thing, Alien vs. Predator, War of the Worlds, and others. A few exceptions would include James Cameron's Avatar, District 9, and John Carter.

Also, with so many of it's characters having alien origins, superhero movies, considered a sub-genre of sci-fi, has made a big impact at the box office. Recent articles around the web have been clamoring about the upcoming line up of sci-fi around the corner including the recently released Oblivion and Star Trek: Into the Darkness.

This second decade of the new millennium looks to be a strong period for sci-fi at the box office. We shall see if our beloved movie aliens take a sizeable role in what's to come.

French Astronomist
Nicolas Camille Flammarion


Italian Astronomist
Giovanni Schiaparelli


H.G. Wells, Author of
War of the Worlds


Georges Méliès
A Trip to the Moon 1902


The alien creature of
Forbidden Planet 1956


The Queen alien of
Aliens 1986


Alien of War of the Worlds 2005




Movie Alien of the Decade

The most visually iconic movie aliens of each decade


A few decades have visually iconic movie aliens that few would contest as the cream of the crop such as the seventies decade's famous H.R. Giger Alien. What are the most visually iconic movie aliens of the other decades?

Criteria: This list is based on visual presence only. For example, I picked the Martians of War of the Worlds for the fifties decade. One could argue that the alien Klaatu of The Day the Earth Stood Still had a bigger impact with it's social commentary than WOTW, but Klaatu is just a human in a metallic suit, no visual wonder to him at all.

And that's what this list is about, the visual wonder of the movie alien. Quality of the movie itself is not applicable. The only requirement is the movie alien does indeed have a visual presence, no implied aliens, i.e. 2001 ASO: A Space Odyssey.

Movie aliens were so rare in the first five decades of the box office venue, it seemed unnecessary to break it down for each decade from the 1900's to 1949. These early movie aliens would win by default due to little or no alternatives.

Explore all images on this page to see samples of 'other potential candidates' of each decade.


Beginning to 1949:
Ming the Merciless of Flash Gordon


Other potential candidates:
The Selenites of A Trip to the Moon 1902
The First Men in the Moon 1919
Aelita 1924

Ming the Merciless may not even qualify as a visual wonder for a movie alien. Basically a human character in an exotic costume. But I thought at least one alien should be designated for the first five decades.



1950 to 1959:
The Martians of War of the Worlds 1953


Other potential candidates:
The Man from Planet X 1951
The Thing from Another World 1951
It Came From Outer Space 1953
Invaders from Mars 1953
This Island Earth 1955
Forbidden Planet 1956
Invasion of the Saucer-Men 1957
It! The Terror from Beyond Space 1958



1960 to 1969: Pygar of Barbarella 1968

Other potential candidates:
First Spaceship on Venus 1962
The Creeping Terror 1964
Dr. Who and the Daleks 1966
The X from Outer Space 1967

Just like the early decades, movie aliens slipped into a drought during the sixties decade. I chose Pygar only for him being likely the most familiar movie alien of this era, but it's open to be replaced by any of the alternatives, which are few and far between.



1970 to 1979:
H.R. Giger's creature of Alien 1979


Other potential candidates:
Various aliens from Star Wars 1977
The Man Who Fell to Earth 1976
Close Encounters of the Third Kind 1977
Various aliens from
Star Trek The Motion Picture 1979



1980 to 1989:
The Alien Hunter of Predator 1987


Other potential candidates:
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 1982
John Carpenter's The Thing 1982
Cocoon 1985
Enemy Mine 1985
The Queen, of Aliens 1986
Alien Nation 1988
They Live 1988
The Abyss 1989
Various aliens from the two Star Wars sequels Various aliens from the Star Trek sequels



1990 to 1999:
The Martians of Mars Attacks! 1996


Other potential candidates:
I Come in Peace 1990
Stargate 1994
Species 1995
The Arrival 1996
Independence Day 1996
The Fifth Element 1997
Men in Black 1997
Starship Troopers 1997
Dark City 1998
Various aliens from the Star Trek sequels



2000 to 2009: The Na'vi of Avatar 2009

Other potential candidates:
Pitch Black 2000
Ghost of Mars 2001
Men in Black 2 2002
Signs 2002
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 2005
War of the Worlds 2005
Transformers 2007
District 9 2009
Star Trek sequels
Star Wars prequels



2010 to 2019:
The Tharks of John Carter 2012 (so far)


Other potential candidates:
Predators 2010
Battle: Los Angeles 2011
Green Lantern 2011
Super 8 2011
The Thing 2011
Transformers: Dark of the Moon 2011
The Avengers 2012
Men in Black 3 2012
Prometheus 2012




A Gallery of More Movie Aliens


Ghosts of Mars 2001

Immortal 2004

District 9 2009

Predators 2010

Super 8 2011

Battle: Los Angeles 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon 2011

The Thing 2011

Aliens of The Avengers 2012

Prometheus 2012




Star Wars Aliens





Star Trek Aliens





Aliens of Men in Black Trilogy





Resources: wikipedia.org, imdb.com, seds.org, fictionencyclopedia.wikia.com, clemson.edu






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