“V” lands on ABC on Nov. 3, and the Visitors are approximately the 4,723rd alien race to make contact with Earth in TV and movie history.
If you remember the original “V” from the 1980s, you already know that the Visitors, despite their human appearance and gestures of friendship, do not have mankind’s best interests at heart. Will the series be able to keep enough narrative juice flowing in the story of human resistance to alien invaders? The pilot is pretty strong, which gives us hope that it will join the ranks of the best alien-invasion tales in this list -- and not the space junk that clutters the rest of it.
The Plan: Swing by that third planet from the sun, do some killing of Alien beings to make my bones. Then head on home and partake in my bar mitzvah with my predator comrades, for I will then be a man.
Did it work? Actually, it has been working for centuries. The Predator comes in, does his task and leaves. It’s the nosy humans who keep getting in the way. Like going to Antarctica on expeditions and camping in the woods. Such distractions can add up the body count, but it’s not like they’re sending their predator kids to our schools or anything -- so a proper invasion it wasn’t. But then one of the Aliens got out on the Predator planet. No word yet on whether that planet is still standing.
The Plan: To save Earth from its current inhabitants by killing the humans, since they’ve proven time and again they cannot change their me-me-me ways.
Did it work? No. One woman and a child plead their case to the alien being while cities around the globe are taken down by nanites. The change of heart sends the world back to an agrarian lifestyle. Aaah, when in life does one get a do-over on such a massive scale? The humans who live can now sing the “I’d Like to Buy The World a Coke” song and really mean it.
-- Darcel Rockett (20th Century Fox)
The plan: These murderous, heavily-armed salt shakers have taken over the Earth, the universe, various timelines, multiple dimensions, and history and the future, several times -- all with a melodious cry of EX-TERM-IN-ATE on their non-existant lips. They appeared in 1930s New York and used the Empire State building to build a hybrid creature. They occupied 22nd-Century London. They sent warring factions to mid-1960s Earth to find a Gallifreyan power source. They were brought back by an unwitting 21st century billionaire. They used human DNA to create a new Dalek race. The co-opted a giant space station in the year 200,000 to take over the Earth with fiendish reality programs. They allied themselves with Cybermen from another dimension. They even kidnapped the Earth itself in a bid to EX-TERM-IN-NATE everything in the universe.
Did it work? Yes... for a little while. The Daleks disintegrated their fair share of humanity, but they kept being thwarted by a goofy guy with outlandish accessories, a sonic screwdriver, and a spare heart. But they keep trying, and no matter how many times The Doctor thinks he’s vanquished this foe, they’ve managed to find their way back.
-- Sarah Jersild (BBC America)
The Plan: A planned attack from the sky wipes out the planet’s major cities, and a rather large UFO descends, sending out battalions of ships to finish the job. Described as intergalactic locusts, the aliens just want to suck our planet dry of vital resources.
Did it work? The initial damage was great. But the slimy extra-terrestrials were no match for Will Smith.
The Plan: A bumbling alien named Zim plots to dominate Earth and eradicate the human race, but his failed attempts are usually his own fault.
Did it work? Sort of. Nickelodeon cancelled the animated series after little more than a year, but the show is a cult hit on DVD.
--Lora Victorio (Nickelodeon)
The plan: At least these aliens understood human (and, indeed, Earth’s) makeup: They used water clone and replace residents of a small Florida town.
Did it work? Did we mention it was a small town? If only some of Earth’s largest cities bordered huge bodies of water. The close confines quickly clued in residents that something was up. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled after just one season, so we’ll never know whether the plan worked.
-- Andy Grieser (ABC)
Also ‘Body Snatchers’ (1993), ‘The Invasion’ (2007)
The Plan: Slowly replace the human population of the earth by creating exact replicas, minus all warmth and emotion, in big seed pods.
Did it work? You bet it worked. It worked so well in the ‘50s (where movies generally had happy endings), they did it four different times. (We’re partial to the Donald Sutherland screamy version of the invasion.)
The Plan: Big-brained little Martians decide to invade earth and kill everybody. Why? No clue. Maybe just for fun.
Did it work? No. It turns out the Martians only weakness is the sounds of Slim Whitman’s “Indian Love Call,” which causes their big-brained little heads to explode. Nasty.
-- Patrick Day (Warner Bros.)
The Plan: An alien named Gallaxhar sends a robot to earth to track down a powerful substance called quantonium. If the extraterrestrial can get his hands on it, he can power up his cloning device and create an invasion army.
Did it work? No. Although he was able to extract the quantonium from a giant named Ginormica, his plot was thwarted when her friends arrived to save her. The group of unlikely heroes, made of a blob, missing link and a cockroach, hotwired his spaceship to implode, killing Gallaxhar and his clones.
The plan: Thrill me: Alien slugs take over human brains at a college where almost everything is named after horror greats. Better yet, the process turns victims into shambling zombies, merging two great genres.
Did it work? Not with bad-ass Det. Cameron on the job. He quickly organizes sorority girls into alien-hunters, and then sacrifices himself to blow the entire alien slug-hive to bits.
-- Andy Grieser (TriStar Pictures)
The plan: In a bid to prevent humanity from creating a doomsday device, some very human-looking aliens pilot their pie-tin-type spaceship to a convenient graveyard, where they propose to raise an army of the dead. That army consists of a Morticia Addams knockoff, a Swedish wrestler turned police chief turned corpse, and an old guy who morphs between Bela Lugosi and, after Bela’s actual death, his wife’s chiropractor. If this is plan nine, we’d hate to see the previous eight plans that were rejected.
Did it work? Shockingly, no. Despite the fact that, according to invader Eros, “All you of Earth are idiots,” our valiant pilots and policemen managed to send the invaders packing -- and what’s more, they fly away with the pie plate on fire. We showed them!
-- Sarah Jersild (Distributors Corporation of America)
The plan: The first sign that something is amiss comes when crop circles and intricate patterns appear in fields all over the world. These are landing coordinates, instructions, or possibly “Eat at Joe’s"-type ads for the alien hordes. Then there are strange rustlings, glimpsed figures, and prickly intimations of menace. then come the spaceships bearing the alien hordes -- little green men intent on colonizing the earth. Why? Who knows -- we can’t read the signs.
Did it work? No. These ETs managed to overlook one salient fact: Their fatal weakness is H2O, and they were attempting to take over a planet that has water over 70 percent of its surface. Once they dipped their toe in -- and saw it dissolved -- they fled. But hey, they gave Mel Gibson his faith back, so that makes it worthwhile, right? Right?
-- Sarah Jersild (Buena Vista)
The plan: Aliens love our digs, so they disguise themselves via a worldwide broadcast and slowly begin to terraform Earth to their liking. The only things that can pierce the illusion are special sunglasses. A pair falls into the hands of day laborer Nada, who leads a resistance that manages to halt the broadcast.
Did it work? Yep! The aliens have pretty much enslaved mankind in a cycle of destructive consumption. Now, can humanity give up spending long enough to fight back?
-- Andy Grieser (Universal Pictures)
The Plan: Aliens wanted to rewrite human DNA using some sort of audio signal that would change a person’s body chemistry to make them alien themselves.
Did it work? Apparently, the aliens were able to create some hybrids, but considering the show was canceled after airing less than three months, not so much.
The Plan: Pretty basic: come to earth, breed, make humans your pawns and eat as many rodents and birds as you can. That’s a Visitor’s long-term goal.
Did it work? Yes. When you have mind control and technology that can wreak havoc on the psyche a la biological experiments, you pretty much have the upper hand. You know you’re on top when the humans have to send out a call for help from other alien species to take down the carniverous reptiles enslaving the population. Question is: How do we know the next alien race won’t be worse? Dah-dah-dum!
-- Darcel Rockett (Dimension Films)
The Plan: Mysteriously and spontaneously impregnate an entire village with creepy alien offspring that look like perfect little blond kids, who just happen to have eerie glowing eyes, telepathy and evil intentions.
Did it work? Only temporarily, until the humans caught on and killed ‘em using mind tricks and a bomb/explosives. Yeah, that’ll do it.
-- Hanh Nguyen (Universal Pictures)
The Plan: In the Spielberg version of the H.G. Wells story, a network of alien ships rise from beneath Earths surface and simultaneously destroy the worlds biggest cities. The sky-high spider-like alien ships then go about the rest of the planet spearing humans, sucking out their blood, and spewing it back on Earth in cobwebs of guck.
Did it work? Actually, yes. For a good while, too. Until the idiot fleet caught a cold from mankind and perished without a fight.
-- Denise Martin (Paramount Pictures)
The plan: This one needs a flowchart, and we bet we’ll still get something wrong. Gray alien colonists came to Earth long before humans evolved, and somehow decided our little blue marble would make for a great new home. The Ice Age was too cold, though, so they left behind a sentient black oil. And... ummm... waited for us to reach the sort of technological state where we could detect and potentially fight them. A group of humans turned traitor, advancing the aliens’ plan in exchange for not being oil-infected, but they secretly tried to find a vaccine, too, so they weren’t really traitors. Oh, and the oil can turn humans into gray aliens.
Did it work? Who the heck knows? It’s all too complicated. At this point, Chris Carter could say all redheads are aliens (sorry, Scully) and we’d have to believe him.