Memorable Supporting Characters In The Original 'Alien' Trilogy

List Rules
Vote up the characters (other than Ellen Ripley) who made the biggest impression on you watching the original three movies.

Sigourney Weaver’s character Ellen Ripley is one of the most iconic, groundbreaking, and enduring characters in cinema. But Ripley is not the only bright star in the Alien galaxy; across the franchise, there have been many great characters who perished in some creative ways. 

This list looks back at the more impactful supporting characters in the original trilogy, from the everyman space truckers of the first to the Marines of the second and the lifers of the third. As for the ginger stepchild of the franchise, Resurrection, let’s just pretend that didn’t happen, shall we?


  • Dennis Parker 
    Photo: Alien / 20th Century Fox

    Played by: Yaphet Kotto

    Film: Alien

    Occupation: Engineer on the Nostromo

    Cause of death: Inner jaw of Xenomorph

     

    Described in his personnel file as having a “sublimated hostility to authority,” Parker was firmly against landing on LV-426 in the first place and is quick to bring up pay issues. There seems to be a bit of divide between the blue-collar members of the crew and the others, though Brett just goes along with whatever Parker says.

    When the alien makes its memorable entrance, Parker is the first to take action against it, though a plastic knife probably wouldn’t have done much. Despite appearing to dislike Ripley at first, he thinks nothing of jumping in to save her from Ash, at considerable risk to himself. It’s his concern for Lambert that costs him his life - he refuses to fire upon the Xenomorph for fear of hitting Lambert and instead charges it. Of course, he’s no match physically, but even at the brink of death, his last thoughts are towards Lambert’s safety. 

    At a 2003 screening of Alien, Yaphet Kotto spoke movingly about the impact his character had on his career and the importance of the movie for opening doors for women and African Americans in film.

  • Dwayne Hicks
    Photo: Aliens / 20th Century Fox
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    Played by: Michael Biehn

    Films: Aliens, Alien 3

    Occupation: Colonial Marine

    Cause of death: EEV crash 

     

    Hicks is initially a quiet character who really comes into his own when things go south. He’s cool under pressure to the point that he falls asleep on the dropship down. He’s prepared enough to bring a shotgun with him, but the choice of model - an Ithaca 37 - in a mission set in 2179 would be a bit like a Marine taking a musket from the American Revolution into combat today. Still, the antique shotgun provides a hearty helping of lead to an alien trying to get into the APC after the hive battle.

    Hicks steps up to take command in the absence of Apone and the incapacitation of Gorman. He’s shown to be a quietly effective leader willing to take the other ideas on board, and in the Alien franchise, listening to Ripley is almost always a very good idea. He’s evidently a skilled instructor as he manages to show Ripley the ropes of the Pulse Rifle in very little time. There’s a hint of attraction between the two, but the presence of numerous life-threatening aliens keeps things platonic.

    He’s the only Marine to make it out, but he doesn't come out unscathed. After being wounded by acid, he’s sedated, and as we learn in the gut-punch that is Alien 3’s opening, he never actually wakes up. There was some talk of retconning that particular fate in a now canceled fifth Alien film, and a supremely dumb subplot of the widely panned 2013 video game Colonial Marines had Hicks survive, but that’s neither canon nor worth dedicating much thought to. 

    Obviously, Biehn was upset with his character’s brutal demise in Alien 3, but a decent payday for his likeness being used helped soften the blow. 

  • Jenette Vasquez
    Photo: Aliens / 20th Century Fox

    Played by: Jenette Goldstein 

    Film: Aliens

    Occupation: Colonial Marine (Smartgun operator)

    Cause of death: Grenade explosion

     

    Vasquez makes an immediate impression by besting Hudson in a verbal joust and showing a complete lack of regard for danger. She’s got the goods to back it up, though. She keeps her cool even as others are falling around her. She takes down more Xenomorphs than anyone else and shows mastery of every weapon in reach. Her relationships with other Marines are worth noting - there's an unspoken intense bond with Drake, and while she and Hudson are always squabbling, they do work together extremely well when it matters. Above all else, she's intensely loyal to the group. 

    If there's a chink in her armor, it's in her lack of foresight. Perhaps if she’d actually read Ripley’s briefing, she might not have fired that superfluous extra burst in the hive, which caused the acid spray that took out Drake. Similarly, her disregard for orders is what actually causes the atmosphere processor to explode. Of course, the Marines would never have made it out of the hive if she hadn’t acted so brashly. 

    She goes out with a literal bang and is easily one of the most memorable characters of the series.

  • Bishop
    Photo: Aliens / 20th Century Fox
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    15 VOTES

    Played by: Lance Henriksen

    Films: Aliens, Alien 3

    Occupation: Artificial person (preferred nomenclature)

    Cause of death: Deactivated

     

    Bishop is one of the very few characters to appear in more than one Alien film. As a synthetic, or artificial person as he prefers to be called, Bishop isn’t really a part of the crew of the Sulaco in a meaningful sense. Aside from entertaining the Marines with the knife trick, only Spunkmeyer ever really seems to notice him.

    A skilled pilot and scientist, he shares Ash’s admiration for the Xenomorph’s biological structure, but unlike Ash, it's impossible for him to harm or allow a human to be harmed through omission of action. He shows absolutely no inclination toward either violence or his own self-preservation. He doesn’t even bother taking a weapon with him to remote pilot the dropship. 

    Even after being ripped in half, his first instincts are to save Newt from being sucked out of the airlock and crack a joke with Ripley. He makes a brief but memorable return in Alien 3, which is quite similar to Ash’s final moments in Alien. In the end, he chooses to be deactivated rather than reworked, preferring the void to no longer being top of the line. An oddly human touch of pride.

  • Rebecca 'Newt' Jorden
    Photo: Aliens / 20th Century Fox
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    7 VOTES

    Rebecca 'Newt' Jorden

    Played by: Carrie Henn

    Films: Aliens, Alien 3

    Occupation: Colonist

    Cause of death: Drowning 

     

    Newt is the only surviving colonist of Hadley’s Hope. Thanks to her knowledge of ducts and keen survival instincts, she somehow kept away from the Xenomorphs for what must have been weeks. Her mistrust of adults makes it hard for her to accept the help of the Marines, but Ripley manages to bond with her, as does Hicks to a lesser extent.

    She’s incredibly resourceful, and while she obviously doesn’t kill any aliens herself, she notches up a few assists - she traps one of the Facehuggers for Hudson to blow away, and she saves Ripley by warning her of incoming Xenomorphs. She helps the dwindling band of survivors find a way out through the vents. It’s a testament to the strength of her character that her brutally unceremonious demise at the start of Alien 3 is so shocking.

  • Jones
    Photo: Alien / 20th Century Fox
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    12 VOTES

    Jones

    Played by: Boris (Aliens

    Films: Alien, Aliens

    Occupation: Ship's Cat

    Cause of death: Old age 

     

    When it comes to being an amoral apex predator with no regard for human life, the Xenomorph has nothing on Jonesy. The Nostromo's cat has better survival instincts than the other members of the crew, and he only comes face-to-face with the Xenomorph after he's stuffed into a box. The alien wisely chooses to leave the cat alone, presumably as a professional courtesy. 

    Later, in the escape pod, Jonesy is once again more alert to the danger than anyone else. He senses the stowaway alien before Ripley does and even tries to warn her by hissing. In Aliens, he's played by another cat named Boris, and he seems thoroughly done with adventures by this point. In the dream sequence, he's as perceptive to danger as ever. He lives out his final days on Earth - the only character in the franchise to make it to old age.