From movies and TV shows to books and video games, fictional aliens are ubiquitous in popular culture.
Sometimes they’re our enemies, sometimes they’re our friends and sometimes they’re just ambiguously neutral.
Often the most engaging element of a science fiction story is its aliens, with well thought out aliens granting a deeper and more entertaining story.
For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most well thought out aliens of all time.
Of course these had to be on our list, they’re probably the most common fictional aliens ever mentioned. Ever since humans started looking into space exploration, the concept of life on Mars has always been a topic of interest.
Most of the time Martians are depicted as smaller humanoids who are far more technologically advanced. They seem to beat us with their brain power and technology rather than brute force.
Interestingly enough however, humans tend to win at the end of the day through the application of a cleverly constructed plan which the Martians haven’t thought of.
Strange how they can have such an edge technologically, yet be foiled by our cunning strategies. Then again, that tends to be the case when something is backed into a corner.
Hailing from the planet of Krypton, the only Kryptonian we’ve ever really learned to love is Superman himself.
Kryptonians are very cleverly designed as their creators used commonly known scientific facts to make them superhuman. You see, Kryptonians absorb solar energy at a far higher degree than anything humans have ever seen. That’s where they get all their power from.
Their home planet revolves around a star that is far weaker than our sun so their powers aren’t fully realized at home. But by absorbing the sunlight on Earth, a Kryptonian can have almost divine powers.
Because of how well this concept was thought out, Kryptonians are certainly one of the most interesting alien species we’ve ever created.
Forged by the scientist Davros after having suffered heavy mutations from a nuclear war, the Daleks were once a species called the Kaleds.
When his people started to die from their mutations, Davros created a tank-like body to turn them into killing machines. In the process of becoming a Dalek however, a Kaled would lose all connection with its emotions. Well, aside from animosity that is.
This, coupled with the highly sophisticated weapons and armor on their shell, turned them into killing machines who wander the universe with the goal of exterminating all the “lesser” races.
These villains from the popular British TV show, Doctor Who, were actually modelled after real world Nazi’s in their temperament and motives.
Due to this combination of something familiar and something truly creative, Daleks are one race of aliens we won’t soon forget!
These fierce warrior humanoids from Star Trek are typically characterized by their ridged foreheads and ruthless personalities.
Originally intended to be the primary antagonists of the series, the Klingons quickly became very popular among Star Trek fans. Throughout the series they eventually form an alliance with the United Federation of Planets and become staple characters in almost every Star Trek iteration thereafter.
Although they break off and play the “bad-guy” role for a brief period in Deep Space Nine, they eventually come around again and continue to help humanity.
With so many memorable Klingon characters, it’s clear why so many fans have clung on to these wonderfully conceived aliens.
In the Star Trek universe there is no species which can match the degree of terror instilled by the Borgs.
These symbiotic life forms first appeared as an unimportant subplot of an early episode. Their original casting didn’t make them very frightening and they were actually used for comic relief in some ways. However, like all things Star Trek, they developed into something much more over time.
With their primary goal being to assimilate all other beings into their collective, the Borgs are the type of species who just aren’t okay with sharing the universe. This is what makes them such fantastic villains though! Well, that and the fact that their popular catchphrase is “resistance is futile”.
What else could you ask for in an evil alien cyborg race?
5 The Flood
While there are many amazing alien concepts in the Halo series, none compare to the complexity and intrigue of the Flood.
Even though they don’t speak they still manage to drive the entire storyline behind the scenes.
As a parasitic species, the Flood infects its hosts and turns them into larger beings of the central hive-mind. With only one purpose, to continue to spread the infection. They are essentially a terminal disease on a planetary level.
However, the primary antagonists in the series are actually the Covenant – a collective of various alien species joined together for religious motives – but eliminating the Flood is their unconscious purpose.
The way this species controls the storyline without ever speaking a word is what makes them such well designed characters.
4 The Protoss
Honorable warriors gifted with powerful psionic abilities, the Protoss are a somewhat neutral force in the Starcraft franchise.
Viewed by some as good guys and by others as bad guys, the Protoss play a very integral part of the story. Although they have access to incredibly advanced technology their warriors prefer to fight up close and personal, often eschewing guns for laser swords.
This combination of extremely advanced technology, an honorable warrior creed, impressive innate powers and a compelling diplomatic dialogue is what makes the Protoss such an amazing part of Starcraft.
Their iconic heroes are courageous and selfless, making the Protoss generally a very well respected species among Starcraft fans, even among those who consider them the enemy.
3 The Zerg
As the primary antagonists of the Starcraft series, we couldn’t leave the Zerg out of our list.
Because they aren’t tool-makers like the other two races in the series, they actually have no technology on their side. What they do have though is evolution. Being able to “hyper-evolve” traits from one generation to the next simply out of necessity makes the Zerg able to contend with the highly advance Protoss and Terrans.
Controlled by a central brain known as the Overmind, the Zerg seek to travel the universe and consume all other species for their genetic adaptations. Because the game has reached such a high level of popularity, the term Zerg has actually become a reference to mindless swarming.
A species which is influential enough to actually coin its own term is definitely one that was well crafted.
Hunting other species for sport is a past time that only a few aliens can claim. The most popular of which are the iconic Predators.
First appearing in the 1987 film Predator, these creatures gained a great deal of popularity.
You may remember them by their recognizable features: their overwhelming size, the long dread-lock tentacles growing from their skull, the mandibles in front of their mouths, these all add up to an incredible combination of characteristics which are hard to dismiss.
That’s why their highly original design has been seen in so many different films, even pairing up with Xenomorphs in the Alien vs Predator series.
Perhaps the most iconic aliens of all are the Xenomorphs. You know, the bad guys from the Alien series.
The horror which they instilled in us all when we first set eyes upon them certainly indicates their amazingly creative design.
But what makes them truly interesting is their parasitic nature. Xenomorphs lay eggs like any normal alien would, but when those eggs hatch the result is not a baby Xenomorph. The hatchling is actually just the carrier of an embryo which it then injects into a host by means of latching on to their face.
This gave these little guys the nickname “face-huggers”. When the embryo is finished developing inside the host it pops out of their chest and are also rightfully dubbed “chest-bursters”. We all remember seeing this for the first time in theatres and literally jumping from our seats.
The worst part was trying to figure out where your popcorn went afterwards.
The spectacular and gory introduction to these creatures is definitely part of the reason they make for such memorable aliens.
Do you have a favorite alien race? Let us know in the comments!