We have a fundamental obsession with the idea that aliens exist. In all probability they do - but we've got no actual idea what they might look like, sound like, think like or smell like. And if there's one thing the human mind does when it's not sure about something - it's create an identity from scratch. And that's what some of our most prolific directors and writers have done with some of the most beloved science fiction series in pop culture.
The result is a near infinite library of alien species that could very well be more extravagant than anything nature can produce. This library of characters has created endless hours of entertainment for readers and viewers. Let us take you on a scenic trip through a sci-fi museum as we investigate the coolest aliens found across all disciplines and mediums of pop culture science fiction.
Anyone who has watched Doctor Who recently should be terribly afraid of those four words. Not necessarily because it means new problems with the newest Windows 8.1 patch, but because it means you've been assimilated into the ranks of the Cybermen, a classic Doc Who enemy.
The Cybermen were once organic sentients living on the planet Mondas. As their technological progress grew, they began to augment themselves with cybernetics, slowly transforming their entire individualistic race into a technological collective, hell bent on integrating all intelligent species in the universe, to increase their knowledge.
Time after time, the Cybermen have been single-handedly thwarted by the Doctor and his compatriots, but it never fails to make for a suspenseful and thrilling episode nonetheless.
The Necrons (Warhammer 40K)
"They do not shout, they see. They do not flinch, they stand. They do not give mercy, they take it. But worst of all, they do not run, they obey, and this makes them infinitely more difficult to kill than us humans." - Sergeant Aurelius
Warhammer 40K paints the universe as a very grim and dark place - and indeed the adjective 'grimdark' has originated from the popular phrase “In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war,” the byline that accompanies almost any and every Games Workshop item.
The Necrons are particularly grimdark though, and as with all things 40K there are books upon books of lore describing how they came to be. But the short version is that long ago (60 million or so years ago) a race of intelligent ancients called the Necrontyr had a great war spanning the galaxy with an elusive race known as the Old Ones.
It was a terrible defeat, with the Necrotyr being banished to tombs and crypts to die slow, agonizing, millenium long deaths. What was left after this exile was no longer human, but intelligent, living machines driven by the hatred of the Old Ones, and the memory of their once great empire. They are immortal and unkillable, having technology that can restore their bodies from any injury short of complete disintegration.
Now that the Old Ones are gone, there is little any of the great races of the 40K universe can do to stop this threat. The best anyone can hope for is to simply die of old age before the Necrons reach their door. Muahahahah!
"Glowing eyes, cliche behavior, evilness, that kind of thing." -Jack O'Neill
The Goa'uld are a parasitic race from the planet P3X-888. In their natural habitat, the appear almost lamprey-like. They are aquatic, have powerful fins and jaws and glowing yellow eyes. Outside of a host, the Goa'uld are relatively unassuming, especially out of water. Their entire civilization depends on human 'symbiotes' which really are more like unwitting hosts.
Goa'uld enter their host through the neck or mouth, and chew their way to the host's brain, where they latch onto and start becoming one with the host. The host becomes a prisoner in their own body, and survivors of Goa'uld possession describe it as 'a living nightmare.' To their host, the Goa'uld grant incredibly long life (sometimes thousands of years), perfect health and superhuman strength. These qualities, however, tend to drive the host to the brink of insanity, as they watch their friends and family grow old and die around them.
The Goa'uld are a proud race, and the primary opposition in the Stargate series. Their culture is vaguely Egyptian-esque, hinting that our species on Earth might be tainted by Goa'uld spies. Their downfall is usually portrayed as their arrogance, and their primary opposition comes from a rebellious sect within their ranks known as the Tok'ra.
The Protoss (Starcraft)
"My life for Aiur!" - Cry of the Protoss Zealots
The Protoss are much like the Elves of space. They are an incredibly old species, much older than the young human race, hailing from the once great planet of Aiur. Their technology is inconceivably advanced and their vision for the universe is unflinching and uncompromising. Much like the Elves of Tolkien lore, the Protoss look down upon the younger races, much as humans look down at ants - not necessarily in need of destruction, but as pests that need occasional extermination.
The Protoss are slightly taller than humans, and lack any visible facial features save for two glowing eyes. Their physiology is far different from that of a humans - as they communicate telepathically. Their weapons of choice, the infamous 'psiblades' are powered partly by their psychic abilities.
Beyond that, they can weaponize their powerful brains to create magnetic psionic storms, and if they are critically injured in battle, they are housed in cybernetic exoskeletons known as Dragoons or Immortals. The Protoss fleet is the envy of the galaxy, and Protoss pilots are skilled in open space combat.
The Protoss come to odds with humanity first when they traveled to the Koprulu sector where the nefarious Zerg had started their infestation. Obsessed with a semi-religious rite of 'purification' all life was to be exterminated, to which the Terrans, (read: humans) said 'No.'
"When one of my species is bonded to a Leviathan, we give our lives to the service of others. Ship first - then those who travel aboard her." - The Pilot
In the Farscape universe, one of the most prized possessions anyone can have is a Leviathan. Leviathans, like the mythological aquatic beasts of old, are gargantuan beasts that travel through space. The only difference is, they are also a ship - a 'Living Ship' as fans of the series will recall from the intro.
You wouldn't initially know that you were walking around a living being when you set foot into a Leviathan. It looks much like a normal spaceship, with familiar controls and comfy quarters. Only when you step foot into the guts of the ship, and you find the Pilot, (a symbiotic alien grafted into the ship's brain) would you start to think that this vessel was probably unlike anything you've ever seen before.
Leviathans are pacifists, not carrying any weapons at all, and only protected by shields. Their primary means of defense is being very effective at running away in a burst of speed known as a 'starburst.' They can see and hear their crew at all times through cybernetic symbiotes known as DRDs, which the ship uses as a form of communication.
While they are mostly obedient to the will of the pilot (who is honor bound to follow the whims of the crew) Leviathans often times will show some degree of disobedience and override the commands of the Pilot. Likewise, Leviathans who grow attached to their crew will take bigger risks in keeping them safe, or even going to great lengths to rescue them.
The Leviathan that John Crichton and his posse traveled with was named Moya.
"Revenge is a dish best served cold." - Kahn Noonien Singh
Klingons are a reoccuring antagonist in the Star Trek series. First making their debut in the 1960s episode 'Day of the Dove' Klingons are depicted as militaristic, honor bound and totalitarian. In their most recent and current incarnation, they appear as bronzy humanoids, generally built heavily, with ridged foreheads. Their ethos has changed over the course of their appearance on Star Trek, but they have been given a language and alphabet of their own.
Klingons are often times depicted as the 'bad guys' - but they are not necessarily always intrinsically bad. Their culture represents one fundamentally different from the set of cultures found in the Starfleet.
Indeed, Lieutenant Commander Worf occupies a position on the bridge of the Enterprise in 'The Next Generation' series. While the cultural similarities of the Klingon empire often times have a parity with contemporary oppressive regimes such as Hitler's German and Soviet Russia, the Klingon also display a devotion to honor, and abide by a code much like the Japanese tradition of Bushido.
The Necromorphs (Dead Space Trilogy)
"Humans will learn that by the death of their worldy spirit, they will be reborn in unity as a stronger community unending." - The Church Of Unitology, Devotees of the Markers
Not to be confused with Necrons (see above) or Xenomorphs (see below) Necromorphs are the machinations of the Markers in the Dead Space series. Necromorphs aren't so much an 'alien' as they are a parasitic disease. They infect the dead, reanimating them into misshapen shambling corpses that receive orders through monolithic 'Markers' which act as radio towers to 'Brethren Moons.' The ultimate mission of the Necromorphs? To infect every living thing in the universe.
The infection process? Not pretty. These aren't your average zombies. An infected body goes into cellular overdrive as bones split and are recombined by the virus, tissue explodes or decays, muscles expand to gruesome proportions and skin and connective tissues simply slide off the body. If it looks and sounds gruesome, it's because it is.
A Brethren Moon is created when an entire planet is infected by the disease, and the planet as a whole becomes a self-aware communal entity. The Brethren moons propagate their kin by spreading the Necromorph infection to any living organism that comes in contact with a Marker, which is almost inevitable as young civilizations happen upon the ruins of old, long dead alien races who have succumbed to the disease of the Necromorphs.
The Chua (Wildstar)
"Let science begin!" - Mondo Zax of D.R.E.D.
The Chua are a race best described as sociopathic hamsters. One might go as far to say that they are downright psychopathic. Discovered by the Dominion on planet Belzgalor, the Chua were a tribal race, prone to mischief. When the agents of the Dominion sensed that their natural aptitude for causing trouble, paired with their innate inventiveness, might be of some use, they were officially brought into the fold and given access to higher levels of technology.
Within decades, the Chua had covered Bezgalor with industry, turned sprawling forests into barren wastelands, and drained all the water from the sea. In short, they turned their once lush home planet into an inhospitable desert with their rapid industrial advances.
Don't let their colorful fur, short stature or cute appearance fool you. In terms of personality, Chua exemplify what could be called chronic ADD and complete disregard for ethics or morality. They kill almost indiscriminately in the name of science, and make no distinction between friend, family or foe. The most psychotic of the Chua, such as Doctor Mondo Zaxx is most likely responsible for the mysterious disappearance of all 12 of his siblings.
Photo Credits: Lucas Arts, Blizzard, Carbine Entertainment, BBC, Games Workshop, Tri Star Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Smashingpicture.com artist: Bugball, Deviantartist: Grisador, Walt disney Studios, Bungie Entertainment, Bioware Interactive,Valve Corporation, Paramount Pictures,SyFy, FOX, EA Games