We Ranked (Almost) Every Character in the Alien Franchise

It was recently announced that Neill Blomkamp, whose Elysium and Chappie have failed to set the world on fire quite like his overvalued District 9, will be directing the first new Alien movie since 1997. And, what’s more, he plans to ignore the last two installments, 3 and Resurrection. That’s great news for many — Alien and Aliens are universally acknowledged as the superior works, while the last two are largely considered major disappointments — but not this apologist.

Though the bottom half of this list ranking all the significant characters in the franchise is indeed dominated by characters from the unfairly maligned latter entries, every one of those supporting players offers something unique to the franchise as a whole. Ditto the films themselves.

The criteria for these rankings were entirely subjective and largely arbitrary, as is true of most lists, with equal thought given to an individual’s contribution to the movie in which he or she appears and how much we personally like the character. (Also, it should go without saying, but spoilers for all four Alien movies follow.)

We Ranked (Almost) Every Character in the Alien Franchise

33. Dr. Wren (Alien: Resurrection): Every Alien movie needs a ruthless representative of either Weyland-Yutani or, in Resurrection’s timeline, the United Systems Military: a short-sighted corporate drone who sows the seeds of his own undoing by thinking he or anyone else can control the alien. Enter Dr. Wren, who dismisses Ripley and doesn’t consider the creature that killed her 200 years ago a real threat. You can probably guess how that works out for him.

32. Lambert (Alien): There really isn’t much positive to say about Lambert other than how hilarious her delivery of the line “I like griping” is as she, Kane and Dallas explore the surface of LV-426 en route to their eventual doom. She also lets loose on Ripley for trying to honor the 24-hour quarantine rule that would have ultimately saved everyone’s lives and prevented Alien from being a long-running series in the first place.

We Ranked (Almost) Every Character in the Alien Franchise

31. Sabra Hillard (Alien: Resurrection): Poor Sabra isn't given much to do other than be captain Elgyn’s inamorata. She’s clearly demoralized after his passing, and before she goes to a watery grave courtesy of a terrifyingly good swimmer, you can see the last bit of hope fade from her eyes. A minor character, but also a quietly tragic one.

30. Distephano (Alien: Resurrection): Before he was cooking meth as Tuco on Breaking Bad, Raymond Cruz was the last human victim of the alien species. He plays a capable marine who recognizes that Ripley and her motley crew are more honorable partners than the United Systems Military of which he’s a part, ultimately proving valuable in tough situations.

We Ranked (Almost) Every Character in the Alien Franchise

29. Purvis (Alien: Resurrection): “WHAT’S IN-FUCKING-SIDE ME!?” We understand on a gut level that nearly everyone in these movies is doomed before we even meet them, but Purvis is the only character other than Ripley (in Alien 3) to know he’s been "impregnated" with a chestburster and actually do something about it. He manages to take down the malicious Dr. Wren with him, an act of bravery from a man who initially appeared anything but.

We Ranked (Almost) Every Character in the Alien Franchise

28. Golic (Alien 3): Reminiscent of Ash in the sense that he becomes enamored of the alien, whom he calls a “dragon” and practically worships as a god. Golic royally screws over his fellow inmates (who already regarded him with suspicion) on Fury-161 by loosing the alien upon them after it’s already been captured, which leads to much death and misery. (If other prisoners' complaints are to believed, he also smells bad.)

We Ranked (Almost) Every Character in the Alien Franchise

27. General Perez (Alien: Resurrection): Dan Hedaya’s contribution to the series is largely comic, as the manner in which he’s killed is hard not to laugh at: Struck in the back of his head by an alien’s retracting mouth, he spends his final moments feeling at the wound and examining his own brain. Still, it’s worth remembering that his last act s to expertly throw a grenade into an escape pod infiltrated by an alien. He then salutes his fallen comrades, and deserves one in return.

We Ranked (Almost) Every Character in the Alien Franchise

26. Elgyn (Alien: Resurrection): The Betty’s captain doesn’t do all that much other than shoot the shit with Perez and die before anyone else in his crew (shades of Dallas from Alien here), but his raspy voice and roguish charm are enough to give the impression that he departed too soon.

We Ranked (Almost) Every Character in the Alien Franchise

25. Johner (Alien: Resurrection): Not the man with whom to fuck. Ron Perlman’s comically unsavory smuggler is consistently entertaining, though a few of his lines do exemplify screenwriter Joss Whedon's tendency to inject a style of humor that isn't in keeping with Alien's spirit. Still, Johner does eventually come around, and his combat acumen is a large part of the reason more characters survive Resurrection than any other entry in the franchise.

We Ranked (Almost) Every Character in the Alien Franchise

24. Jonesy (Alien, Aliens): The only feline to come face-to-face with a xenomorph is also one of the lucky few who lives to tell the tale. (He’s also the reason Brett gets killed when and how he does, which is kind of uncool.) The Nostromo’s official mascot escapes with Ripley, who makes the wise decision of leaving him behind when she’s forced to return to LV-426 early on in Aliens. At least someone had a happy ending.

We Ranked (Almost) Every Character in the Alien Franchise

23. Vriess (Alien: Resurrection): A paraplegic whose crush on Call is the worst-kept secret on the Betty, Vriess is one of the kindest Resurrection characters (not to mention one of the survivors). That trait is rarely rewarded in these movies, and he's a welcome exception.

We Ranked (Almost) Every Character in the Alien Franchise

22. Lieutenant Gorman (Aliens): An ineffectual leader who’s semi-responsible for half his crew getting wiped out during their first encounter with a nest of xenomorphs, Gorman redeems himself late in Aliens by blowing himself up along with the far more capable Vasquez. In this sense he actually evolves more as a character than several of his more memorable counterparts, who are comparatively static but more interesting nonetheless. Good guy, bad lieutenant.

21. Kane (Alien): Kane, we hardly knew ye. John Hurt's sacrificial lamb may be best remembered for serving as the parasitic alien’s first vessel, but the iconic reveal thereof is legendary for a reason—not just the chestburster's brutal emergence, but also Kane and everyone else's reactions.

We Ranked (Almost) Every Character in the Alien Franchise

20. Brett (Alien): Right.

We Ranked (Almost) Every Character in the Alien Franchise

19. Dr. Gediman (Alien: Resurrection): Alien has a plenitude of great character actors, few of whom were better cast than Brad Dourif (also known for playing Grima Wormtongue in Lord of the Rings and Doc Cochran in Deadwood) as the lead scientist responsible for cloning Ripley in order to extract the xenomorph embryo inside of her. It’s he who asks his superior (the dastardly Dr. Wren) for permission to keep the host alive once the surgery goes well; he’s fascinated with her the way a kid is after waking up on Christmas morning to see the toy he’s always wanted under the tree.

18. Morse (Alien 3): Both an example of, and exception to, the biggest problem with Alien 3’s large ensemble cast. Ripley arrives on the prison planet Fury 161 to meet a couple dozen lifers who’ve found God (to save their souls) and shaved their heads (to save their scalps from lice), making most of them virtually indistinguishable from one another. Morse doesn’t stand out from the crowd until late in David Fincher’s brooding contribution to the Alien mythos, when the lion’s share of his brethren have been killed off and he emerges as Ripley’s de-facto aide. After our heroine casts herself into the molten lead and 85 gets killed trying to help her, Morse also ends up the sole survivor of the original trilogy.


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