1. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Contributor Contributor

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    Alien Characters Stereotypes/Tropes

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by J.T. Woody, May 16, 2019.

    What are some alien tropes you cant stand?
    What are some that you like?

    I feel like its all been done before, haha! what are some really wacky ones? I'll go first:

    • "little green men" trope of aliens as 4 footed, big headed, black eyed mute, psychopathic creatures.
    • Empath aliens (i.e. Mantis)
    • Super power "human" aliens (i.e. Clark Kent, and the alien characters from Rosewell)
    • parasites/hosts that pass as human

    keep it going!
     
  2. Bluedango

    Bluedango Member

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    • Naivete/ignorance of social cues
    • Lack of empathy
    • Utilitarian mindset
    • God complex/ sense of entitlement/ inflated ego
     
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  3. GrJs

    GrJs Active Member

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    Invulnerable op aliens.

    Ignorance of social cues is kind of a necessity for an alien that hasn't been on earth before or been monitoring humans. In that way naivety is also expected if they haven't had any kind of contact with humans. It's like if you went to a different country, you know nothing about the people or the cues common in their culture and thus you are completely ignorant of their social cues. Being on a new planet is kind of like being a child. Everything is new and you haven't yet figured how shitty the people are and thus you are naive to their ways.

    Actually you should watch Paul 2011, hilarious movie with a great alien that doesn't have a single one of your peeves.
     
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  4. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

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    First, insert the usual proviso about how tropes are not bad, and execution matters more than concept:

    I think what makes aliens (or nonhuman fantasy races) work is when the author remembers to make them weird, but not so weird that they can't be relatable characters. Two examples spring to mind. One is The Sparrow / Children of God by Maria Doria Russell. The aliens are near-human, enough that the humans think they're understanding each other, but fundamental differences in communication and culture end up having disastrous results for both sides. Another is the Fortune's Pawn series by Rachel Bach, where she gives insight into non-human culture and biology that makes the aliens feel....well, alien while still being relatable individuals with variation among individuals in that race. For example, one race is naturally genderless until they reach adolescence, whereupon they choose to become male or female and their physical and mental development goes off in two very different directions. The most prominent character from that race is considered a misfit among their people because they chose not to become male or female.

    I think the one I really can't stand is Space Elves. They're enlightened and live in harmony with nature, they have overcome such barbaric urges as war and competition, and they're here to act as the author's sockpuppet on the subject of how mean and terrible humans are. It's not "alien" exactly, but god-AI's often have the same problem. It comes down to the author making them a mouthpiece rather than characters in their own right.

    (Oh, and aliens referring to humans as "monkeys" or "apes". Yes, that's correct, now please tell us what sort of creature you descended from so we can sneeringly refer to you as "birdy" or "fishface".)
     
  5. ShannonH

    ShannonH Member Supporter

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    The old campy Sci-Fi of Mars wanting our women:

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Hi floor, make me a sammich. :P Supporter Contributor

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    One that is always really dumb, is the one where Random Alien Race
    comes billions of miles just to invade Earth, when there are far more
    resources just sitting around undefended floating around the Solar
    System. Last time I checked asteroids don't exactly have anything
    living on them that may be capable of defending their orbiting little
    resource rich rocks. :p
    The only positive Alien Species to do this with any real effectiveness
    are the Tyranids (WH40K), and they consume pretty much any planet
    they find, inhabited or not, so long as it is capable of being consumed
    with little detriment to the given Hive Fleet in the process of resource
    gathering. Though they do like bio-mass, so even basic life will be of
    interest to them. :D

    Another one that is overplayed is the, 'We found a planet, must destroy
    the species, with one crazy science nut wanting to study and understand
    them."
    First of all, what would be the purpose of not simply ignoring a species
    of unknown origin, so long as it is neither provocative or provoked by
    a bunch of gun toting fruit loops. A simple life form would most likely
    be curious to a degree, but most likely only be dangerous in most cases
    by accident, and even then due to it being large enough to step on people
    or damage equipment. If the inhabitants are intelligent to any degree
    on the spectrum, they would assess and study us, and we would do the same
    to them. It would make more sense, since it would bring a new understanding
    that neither party is the sole living civilization in their otherwise uninhabited
    mindset of the universe. After all, we humans tend to think we are a civilized
    species, and should show some decency to another species and respect their
    hospitality while on their planet. Might just be a way to gaining all sorts of
    advantages through cooperation and information sharing, that could be of
    great benefit to either one or both parties.
    This can be slighted towards being visited on Earth by a new foreign species,
    and would suggest a fairly developed intelligence, cause they came here and
    would likely be much more cooperative than destructive, once communication
    was achieved. :)
     
  7. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

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    Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke, has one of the best twists on this idea that I've ever read.
     
  8. DarkPen14

    DarkPen14 Senior Member

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    There are a few that irritate me, mostly because of just common sense, but also because really?

    By far the most BS trope for aliens is the "they want the resources on our planet because they're easy to grab." Bull. Crap. Water: Icy comets orbiting almost every star. Iron/Silver/Copper/Gold/Literally-any-mineral: Asteroids/general-space-rocks just floating around the universe. Oxygen: Separate it from water. Hydrogen: Same thing as Oxygen. or just finess it from a star. Organic compounds: You have the resources to engage in war with another species on another planet around another star. if you have not figured out how to combine atoms and molecules to make this stuff, you are trash as a species. We engineer organisms to make this stuff all the time.

    Also, from the aforementioned BS; Our victory over the aliens revolving around them being allergic to earth. Are you honestly gonna tell me that these aliens didn't know what was on this planet before building ships, suits, and weapons to take over the planet? In the Signs, the aliens were allergic to water. In Mars Attacks, it was old music. In War of the Worlds, they were allergic to basically the AIR. In Battleship, the aliens were so retarded they though taking over a planet close enough to the star to have bright LIGHT, which is apparently their only weakness, was a good idea. Smooth move, alien morons. Advanced race my lily white butt.

    Another thing; If these aliens are in fact smart enough to know that they stand no benefit from attacking us for our resources, and they come for other reasons, then it is most likely for peaceful reasons. Literally, anything else they could possibly want from us could come from the junk in space, so if they do come on down for reasons other than crappy logic, they're probably peaceful. The sad part is, our reactions would probably be exactly like in The Day The Earth Stood Still, where humans think that the best option is to just kill them or detain them and be done with it because we've watched too many movies where the aliens are here for stupid bullcrap reasons. So we would try to spark an interstellar war because humans are a stupid species.

    Edit: And another one, the alien goes native thing. If the alien is here for hostile reasons, let's just say perhaps they are here to kill specifically the human race because we are destroying life on our planet, and then homeboy goes native and decides that the human race is too complex to judge from an outside perspective, and then cancels the doomsday plans all by his lonesome, without approval from his higher-ups or any sort of external aid.
     
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  9. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

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    In sci-fi, humans can never get first contact right. If we react with hostility, they inevitably turn out to be enlightened space hippies who just wanted to be friends (wobbles lip). But if we welcome the aliens with open arms (Mars Attacks, Independence Day), they inevitably turn out to be genocidal dicks.

    (Of course, if we're talking about the remade Day The Earth Stood Still, then the aliens were pretty big dicks there, too. How many millions of innocent people died when the power was cut to all those hospitals?)

    Then again, aliens tend to be pretty terrible at first contact even when it's well-meaning. They never seem to do any studying of human culture or customs before landing, and make a habit of judging the entire human species by the conduct of the first nation (or individual) they meet and place in an incredibly strange and terrifying situation. Even in Contact, a novel all about first contact, the aliens never seem to realise that hey, maybe we should give these people some actual empirical proof that we talked to them?
     
  10. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Very human-like 'aliens', especially when there are several species.
    Monocultural aliens, that all have the same religion and/or central government, similar values and beliefs.
     
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  11. Bluedango

    Bluedango Member

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    Its kind of funny how alien first contact stories and their cliche scenarios reflect what happened in the discovery age of man. These things happened and the authors are just writing them again on a larger scale.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
  12. flawed personality

    flawed personality Contributor Contributor

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    Attack The Block is an interesting alternative alien film. It's more small scale than world domination, and the reason the aliens arrive is very different.
    This thread has inspired me to get writing some of my own (hopefully original) alien stories.
     
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  13. making tracks

    making tracks Active Member

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    Partly, as some others have mentioned, why does it have to be all out war with them with a good guy Vs bad guy? Also it annoys me when they portray aliens as evil for experimenting on humans (I mean obviously it's bad) when if a real government got their hands on an alien I can't imagine it would end too well for the alien (like in E.T) and that hypocrisy annoys me. I really liked District 9 for its portrayal of an in-between, not all out war but untrusting relationship.

    Also why would aliens necessarily think humans are special? There are so so so many species on our planet and if the aliens are more advanced than us, why would they not take just as much interest in the other life on our planet?
     
  14. KiraAnn

    KiraAnn Member

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    I read a short story sometime back that had aliens portrayed in a different light. They - the aliens - had caused the collapse of the world’s various governments. They were quite peaceful, easily giving away information, but when they felt threatened, they triggered a device that triggered orgasms on everyone in a limited range. This quickly devolved into hordes of people following these aliens all over the world, trying to get zapped. So many that the governments collapsed. And they were just merchants who had an engine malfunction.

    Can’t remember the name but it was an interesting story.
     
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  15. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Hi floor, make me a sammich. :P Supporter Contributor

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    You forget the little detail that aliens abduct cows for study too. :p
    At least that we know of, based upon supposed evidence.
    How do we know they aren't studying all kinds of life forms?
    Though I think the best explanation to experiment on any form
    of intelligence period is, to better understand it. We do it to monkeys
    and other smart animals, so maybe we could make a deal with the
    local Xenos to have a market in the people we lock away for life,
    so we don't feel as bad about what happens to them when the aliens
    need a few specimens to better understand us in some basic ways.
    What we call modern medicine is kinda the same thing, since it isn't
    exact science, but trial and error practice, which improves incrementally
    over time.
    So pretty much an alien species would most likely not be as barbaric as
    they are depicted in media, having a strange fetish for sticking things
    in our butts and carving weird symbols on random parts of the body
    with their state of art 'lasers' for 'science'.
    Most likely they would be much better and learning us, than we would
    be of them, due to technological advantages. However, it will have a minor
    cost of life, for the ever important anatomy study, to better understand the
    way our bodies work. Even then we have the tech to do that without killing
    the person, so they may opt to take that route too. (Shrugs). o_O
     
  16. Merovingian

    Merovingian Member

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    Advanced Aliens that never ever share their advanced technology with savage-not-mature-puny-humans. I really hate those.

    That would be boring, no conflict means no story to tell, eh!?
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  17. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Contributor Contributor

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    And here PETA just became PETH.... maybe AETH?:superconfused:
     
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  18. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    If they are anything like PETA....we're doomed.
     
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  19. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Senior Member

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    I can't say I've read many books on aliens but I've seen some movies and they always seem to be depicted as hostile barbarians. Often have a reptilian appearance (if seen at all) and seem to lack emotions towards other species. We also don't see any emotions towards each other. They're either highly intelligent or just thug-like. Not seen nay aliens with magic, just better technology.
    I mean, it's hard for us to envision a species similar to us because we've never seen anything like ourselves from another planet. If anything like us does exist they would likely look nothing like we'd think. It would depend on the climate of their planet. Would they follow our evolution (four legs to start with and then evolve to two-legs)? It's an interesting concept to think about.

    If anything does exist besides just I just pray they are like "ET".
     
  20. WingedClover

    WingedClover Member

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    -Star crossed conquerors that all look the same.

    -Any mention of Roswell (protip: try using the Voronezh aliens or look up any other crazy theory for a connection)
     
  21. Merovingian

    Merovingian Member

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    Talking about "alien", when exactly the word became strongly associated with Extraterrestrials beings?
    Was it because of the "Alien" movie or what is before?
     
  22. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The fact that space aliens either speak our language already or quickly learn to speak our language seems preposterous. I know these kinds of interchanges are necessary for some stories to unfold, but really.

    Farscape made an amusing stab at it—speech microbes! But at least the Farscape writers acknowledged the problem, and several episodes revolved around members of Moya's crew 'learning' to speak English (with difficulty) even though many of them actually could pass as human.

    We have alien species here on our planet, who seem to understand us fairly well ...such as dolphins, dogs and cat pets, apes, etc. But none of them speak our language, and we don't speak theirs. And they've lived with us for a long time. We don't speak the languages of people who live in different countries, without having to learn these languages. Aliens showing up already primed in English? We should live so long and be so lucky.

    I honestly think that language barriers will be huge at first contact—especially as it's unlikely that the aliens will be set up to be like 'us' in terms of vocal cords, mouths, breathing apparatus, etc. Or even intelligence. They might be very intelligent in ways we can't fathom. Or not. This will matter.
     
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  23. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    babel fish - obviously
     
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  24. Wreybies

    Wreybies Arroz Con Admin Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Humans enter into a fantastically diverse, ancient galactic milieu replete with million-year-old history, each species more fantastic than the last, and we scamper in, self-conscious, tiny, primitive, little more than tricked-out puppies with thumbs compared to these near-gods, and yet, somewhere, some funny little oracle of a creature is taking note of our engagement, and off she goes to greet us, The Ancient Ones, The Progenitors, returned from our sojourn in some little backwater of the galaxy. A.k.a., the Humans Are So Very Special™ trope. Looking at you, David Brin.

    Very often, the same kind of story that produces the prior kvetch also gives us the scenario where we're tired of trying to compete with carbon-based, oxygen-using species and so we jump ship and make contact with hydrogen beings in gas giants or crystalline entities growing along a crater rim, taking advantage of the temperature differential to create energy.

    I prefer life as we don't know it to life as we do know it in Sci-Fi.


    ETA: Important to note that the examples given in the OP feel more superhero movie-ish. That's not my personal wheelhouse. My examples are from Science Fiction novels.
     
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  25. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Contributor Contributor

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    ah, where I mention Roswell in my OP, I was referring to the tv series (left) and tv series reboot (right). the dudes are the aliens and they have "superpowers" like healing and sharing memories. His alien siblings have other powers like mind reading and mind reading/influencing. So basically angsty kryptonians
    [​IMG]
     

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