10 Iconic Movie Aliens, Ranked By Likability

10 Iconic Movie Aliens, Ranked By Likability

The big screen is a great place to explore speculative concepts depicting the intergalactic possibilities of alien life. This year alone, Jordan Peele’s Nope has introduced a bold new vision of extraterrestrial life in the form of a majestic sky monster and James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water is focusing on the plight of the sympathetic aliens of Pandora.

The aliens of the big screen range from monstrous killing machines, like the alien in Alien or the thing in The Thing, to harmless, lovable icons like the titular Reese’s Pieces fanatic in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.


10/10 Xenomorph (Alien)

Ridley Scott took the B-movie “haunted house in space” premise of Alien and turned it into one of the greatest and most influential horror movies ever made. Scott’s refreshing sense of realism and believability combined with Jerry Goldsmith’s mesmerizing score and H.R. Giger’s uniquely unsettling designs to create a true sci-fi horror masterpiece.

The most iconic of Giger’s designs is, of course, the xenomorph itself. The chillingly inhuman xenomorph is one of the best movie monsters, because it’s an unstoppable force of evil determined to wipe out the entire crew aboard the Nostromo.

9/10 The Thing

The Thing latches onto the ceiling

The titular shapeshifting alien in John Carpenter’s bone-chilling sci-fi masterpiece The Thing can assimilate any living organism. It enters an Arctic research facility in the form of a cuddly dog and spends the day with the scientists before revealing that it may have already taken their form.

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The Thing is slightly more likable than the xenomorph, because it’s not just a mindless killing machine. This monster exposes the monster hiding in everybody around it.

8/10 Predator

The Predator unmasked

The eponymous extraterrestrials in the Predator franchise hunt for sport. They travel from planet to planet, hunting down each world’s inhabitants for the sake of the hunt itself, collecting morbid trophies along the way.

The new Predator prequel, Prey, explored the similarities between Predators and humans who hunt for sport. The film’s heroine, Naru, embarks on the coming-of-age ritual of hunting something that can hunt her back.

7/10 Jean Jacket (Nope)

Jean Jacket chasing OJ in Nope

Jordan Peele introduced audiences to his own vision of alien life earlier this year in his UFO thriller Nope. The otherworldly visitor in Nope, hilariously dubbed “Jean Jacket,” is a majestic creature hiding in the clouds as a flying saucer and looking for humans to feed on.

Peele draws parallels between Jean Jacket and a different entity exploited for entertainment: Gordy, a chimp actor in a cheesy sitcom. Both Jean Jacket and Gordy retaliated after being turned into a spectacle.

6/10 Venom

Venom smiling at a criminal

When Spider-Man is around, Venom is usually portrayed as a villain. But in his solo franchise starring Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, Venom is characterized more as an antihero. He’s a bad guy who goes after even worse guys.

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Eddie keeps Venom’s darkest tendencies in check with a somewhat ethical value system. When Venom wants to eat people, Eddie makes sure to feed him bad people.

5/10 The Queen (Aliens)

The xenomorph queen in Aliens

While the xenomorph in the original Alien movie was just a bloodthirsty monster, the main villain in Aliens is surprisingly sympathetic. The wildly satisfying sequel replaces the single xenomorph from the first film with an entire colony that’s been ravaged by them.

The hive is led by “The Queen,” the biggest and baddest alien creature of them all. The Queen ties into the movie’s central theme of motherhood. Just like Ripley, she wants to protect her kids from danger.

4/10 Paul

Paul smiling in the RV in Paul

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost took their perfectly matched comedic dynamic across the pond with their sci-fi road trip comedy Paul. Paul is the alien visitor that Pegg and Frost’s comic book duo Graeme and Clive encounter on their tour of American alien sighting locations.

Despite his foul mouth and crude sense of humor, Paul is closer to E.T. than Howard the Duck. He risks his life to save Graeme when he uses his healing power to patch up his gunshot wound.

3/10 Christopher Johnson (District 9)

Christopher Johnson in District 9

The sharp allegorical tale of Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 explores the sociopolitical climate of the Apartheid era through the speculative story of alien visitors arriving in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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The aliens’ perspective is told largely through the experiences of a character identified by his Earth name “Christopher Johnson,” who exposes the discrimination against his species on his website MNU Spreads Lies.

2/10 Superman

Christopher Reeve flying over Metropolis in Superman

Richard Donner’s original Superman movie is still the best cinematic adaptation of the iconic superhero. Donner covers Supes’ entire life story, from the destruction of Krypton to his upbringing in Smallville with the Kents to his burgeoning journalistic career at the Daily Planet in Metropolis.

As an unwaveringly optimistic symbol of good, Superman is a pretty likable alien character. He could use his unlimited powers to take over Earth, but he uses them to help humanity.

ET with a glowing fingertip in ET the Extra-Terrestrial

Steven Spielberg challenged the preconception of an alien story with his heartwarming coming-of-age classic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. E.T. doesn’t come to Earth to terrorize humanity; humanity terrorizes him. E.T. and his people come in peace, but the cops scare them off and E.T. gets left behind.

All throughout the movie, E.T. just wants to get home. But along the way, he forges a strong bond with a fellow outcast: a neglected, unpopular child of divorce. E.T.’s friendship with Elliott makes him the most lovable movie alien.

NEXT: E.T. & 9 Other Sci-Fi Movies About Peaceful Aliens


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