There’s a day to celebrate just about everything, and that includes alien abductions! March 20 is Extraterrestrial Abductions Day, and it’s for everyone who is actually enthusiast about the prospect of meeting some little green men. It might be hard to understand why, though. Most depictions of aliens in pop culture are less than charming: the psychotic killers in Mars Attacks, the faceless insectoids in…well, pretty much all of science fiction, even the pleasant but deeply strange aliens encountered on the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Truly friendly, funny, charming extraterrestrials are few and far between when it comes to alien portrayals, but that doesn’t mean that there are none to be found. We’d be happy to have these little green (and not so green) men abduct us this month!
The Doctor (Doctor Who)
Charming British men (and women) are probably not top of the list when it comes to alien expectations, but Doctor Who has been portraying the titular time lord as such since the ‘60s. From the classic show to the more recent reboot, the Doctor has always been British, and usually comes with his own kind of charm, whether that’s the endearing puppy dog that was Matt Smith, or the more eccentric uncle style of earlier incarnations.
As well as being dashing, the Doctor is the definition of a "friendly" alien. The Earth is under his particular protection, and time and time again the Doctor is ready to fend off less kindly alien threats, as well as the mystical, ghostly, and other scary things come to threaten humanity. And when there is no major alien threat to life on Earth? The Doctor will gladly take you for a spin in his time machine, to wherever and whenever you may like. This is the alien that every other alien wishes they were.
This little guy looks far more like the average little green man, but definitely doesn’t have the motivations of the classic big-head alien! The titular character of the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost movie from 2011, Paul is an alien who crashed to Earth decades ago, and has been held prisoner at Area 51 for most of that time. Of course, it wasn’t all bad. He wasn’t dissected, he wasn’t kept in a cell, he got to make some great contacts…but in the end, he realized that he wasn’t allowed to leave. Paul finds him hooking up with a couple of comic book nerds in an attempt to help him rendevous with a ship so he can head back into space, and it’s a perfect example of the humans being awful, while the nerds and alien are pretty darn fantastic.
Paul is foul-mouthed, smokes, drinks, parties, and doesn’t have a huge amount of subtlety. But on him, it’s somehow surprisingly charming rather than abrasive. Part of that may just be the relief of realizing that he’s not about to get the probes out (and that really, the thought appalls him as much as it does humans), but part of it is that under his brash exterior, there’s a truly good heart in this guy who just wants to go home.
Superman (DC Comics)
There are so many phenomenal comic book aliens that it’s almost impossible to pick just one to represent the friendly side of extraterrestrials in Marvel and DC Comics. Who could ignore the Guardians of the Galaxy, recently shot to fame in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? They have a sentient tree and a talking raccoon! Or, of course, there’s the entirety of the Green Lantern Corps (and every other Lantern Corps out there, pretty much), using their rings to save the day. Aliens are a dime a dozen in the pages of comics, but one stands head and broad, broad shoulders above the rest: Superman.
Possibly the most famous superhero in the entire world, Superman is the last child of Krypton (sort of), sent to Earth as a baby to escape the destruction of his home planet. The combination of his alien anatomy and the Earth’s yellow sun gave him incredible abilities—super strength, super speed, bulletproof skin, heat vision, and too many other powers to list. However, it’s not just his gifts that make him such an incredible alien figure, it’s where he landed. His pod ended up in Kansas, where he was taken in by the Clarks, and taught the values that make him such a hero today. And for anyone thinking that may not have made all the difference, take a gander at Superman: Red Son and see what would have happened had he landed in the Soviet Union.
Ford Prefect (The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy)
Finally, we take a look at another alien classic, The Hitchikers Guide To The Galaxy. Obviously, the hapless Arthur Dent is the star of the show, but without Ford Prefect there to drag him into outer space and kickstart his adventures, Arthur would have died in his home, still trying to stop the bulldozers as the Earth exploded. Instead, Ford Prefect (with his trusty towel and Hitchhiker's Guide) managed to whisk him away and change his life forever.
Ford is the ultimate eccentric adventurer. He definitely loves his drink and is known for having a good time, but unlike Zaphod, this isn’t his only real aim in life. He can be selfish, but he’s not a coward. He can put his own interests first, but he also looks out for his friends, even when it means running towards danger, not away from it. He’s smart, charming, funny, and surprisingly easy-going, given everything that gets thrown at the pair. In short, he’s the perfect companion to head into the galaxy with, should Earth ever actually get bulldozed (and we hope not).
Who are your favorite friendly aliens? Let us know on Twitter @quirkbooks!