TV’s Most Beloved Aliens
Agents Mulder and Scully may have believed against the odds for several years, but the fact is television is filled with extraterrestrials. From the funny to the terrifying the medium has been conquered and amused by them in equal measure. So let us look at TV’s most beloved aliens.
The Doctor (Doctor Who): If you did not expect to see this edition to the list you may want to reevaluate your life. From the planet Gallifrey this traveler of time and space has achieved an international fan base in his half century on TV screens. From William Hartnell to Peter Capaldi, the Doctor has given viewers a genre hero who was unique in that he was simply a traveler who used his intellect rather than a weapon or brute strength. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who would not want to pile into the TARDIS and set off to adventure, and that is the fantasy he continues to present to fans.
Spock (Star Trek): Today Star Trek may be a pop culture phenomenon, but were it not for a single character, many believe the USS Enterprise would have cruised into obscurity like so many other genre shows of the era. Spock was unlike anyone else who came before, a calm and intelligent character who was the perfect balance to the bombastic Captain Kirk. Portrayed beautifully by the late Leonard Nimoy, who brought a sense of soul and humanity into a character who could have easily been a sterile and unfeeling alien.
The Solomon Family (3rd Rock From the Sun): Arguably the funniest aliens to ever grace prime time television. Led by the brilliant character actor John Lithgow as their patriarch; Dick, Harry, Sally, and Tommy Solomon attempted to blend into human society with hilarious results. Teamed with a brilliant supporting cast which included Wayne Knight and SNL-alumni Jane Curtain, the Solomon family made their presence known with every human they came into contact with.
ALF (ALF): More than an alien, he was one of the great pop culture staples of the 1980’s, the cat munching ALF made life interesting for the Tanner family. Rather than presenting himself in grandiose fashion as many other extraterrestrials in entertainment, ALF was a sarcastic slob who entertained TV audiences. He has become so ingrained in our shared shared cultural consciousness that even those who have never seen an episode of the series instantly recognize the famous puppet.
Thermoman(My Hero): Imagine if Superman was raised by the Solomons rather than the Kents, and you have the story of Thermo Man from the beloved, My Hero. His heart may have been in the right place but Thermoman AKA George Sunday was constantly involved in entertaining mishaps. Thanks to the performance of comedy genius Ardal O’Hanlon, Thermoman was consistently one of the most entertaining characters on TV.
The Kanamits (The Twilight Zone): Rod Serling’s classic science fiction series gave viewers a host of terrors from outer space, but the one that stands head and shoulders above the others, literally, the man eating Kanamits. From the classic episode, “To Serve Man“, they are a race that showed up and brought peace to a disarmed human race. Their mysterious book becomes the source of fascination for our code breaking narrator who figures everything out much too late.
Marvin the Martian (Looney Tunes): Every one of the classic Looney Tunes characters is loved by the masses, for their irreverent and crass brand of slapstick. Despite trying to maintain an sense of dignity which the Tunes were incapable of having, Marvin Martian has become a fan favorite for animation fans. More often than not he was made the butt of jokes from Bugs and Daffy, but that endeared him to audiences more than ever. With a distinctive voice and hilarious walk, Marvin the Martian brought an intergalactic flavor to the world of the Looney Tunes.
The Visitors (V): Science fiction is often the genre utilized by story tellers to give parables about reality. One of the best examples of this is the classic mini series V, which tells how an alien race called, the Visitors, conquers humanity, not with weapons or force, rather they charmed us into willingly giving over control. Despite a resistance made up of humans and human-sympathizers from their own ranks, the Visitors succeed in their plans leaving the series on a chilling cliffhanger.
The Coneheads (Saturday Night Live): When the sketch comedy show which launched countless careers was in its prime; Dan Akroyd, Jane Curtain, and Laraine Newman played the alien clan, the Coneheads. Serving as a precursor to 3rd Rock From the Sun, the Coneheads had to blend into human society after being stranded. The trio was so popular that they spawned a film in 1993, with Michelle Burke taking over the role originated by Newman.
Invader Zim (Invader Zim): For many of us the cartoons known as Nicktoons was a hallmark of our formative years. From Doug to Hey Arnold!, these shows have a special place in our hearts; but one of them maintains a strong cult following to this day. Fanatic in his mission to conquer the planet Earth, Zim and his robot GIR were constantly stopped by the stalwart Dib. Despite a limited run Invader Zim maintains a level of popularity to this day, thanks to its appeal to an older demographic than its original intention.