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Alien TV series set on Earth won't feature Ripley

Alien 5 concept art
(Image credit: 20th Century/Disney)

The Alien franchise is taking to the small screen in Noah Hawley's Alien series for FX. 

Announced last December, the show plans to separate itself from the main cinematic franchise by severing ties with both Ellen Ripley's story and, by the sounds of it, the prequel movies. "I don’t want to mess with it," he tells Vanity Fair of Ripley's story. So, not like he doesn't believe her to be a great character, but he believes her tale has been perfectly told. 

Separating the show further is its location. "It’s a story that’s set on Earth also," Hawley continued. "The alien stories are always trapped… Trapped in a prison, trapped in a space ship. I thought it would be interesting to open it up a little bit so that the stakes of 'What happens if you can’t contain it?' are more immediate."

Fans of the far reaches of the Alien canon will note this exact scenario formed part of Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, but no-one can confirm whether it was "contained" as the movie is simply too dark to make anything out.

As for who the series will revolve around, if not Ripley, then plans are afoot for Weyland-Yutani suits to feature heavily. Each movie in the franchise features the company brass on the periphery, but Hawley's show will place them in the thick of it. Where Alien, Aliens, and Alien 3 consist of blue-collar workers, marines, and prisoners, Hawley promises to even things out.

"So you will see what happens when the inequality we’re struggling with now isn’t resolved. If we as a society can’t figure out how to prop each other up and spread the wealth, then what’s going to happen to us?" 

This isn't to say he doesn't hold reverence for the pre-existing movies in the franchise, making shout-outs to Ridley Scott, James Cameron, and David Fincher's work (not a fan of Alien: Resurrection, perhaps?)

"Those are great monster movies, but they're not just monster movies," Hawley says. "They're about humanity trapped between our primordial, parasitic past and our artificial intelligence future – and they're both trying to kill us. Here you have human beings and they can't go forward and they can't go back. So I find that really interesting."

As for when we're likely to see the series? Hawley has two episodes written and production is set to commence next spring. The wait is due to the visual effects required to pull off what he has in mind, because of the production back-up caused by the COVID pandemic. He's happy to wait and let the "bubble burst a bit", in order to do the series right.

Until we hear anything new on the Alien series, you can scare yourself silly with our picks of the best horror movies ever made and get acquainted with the acid-blooded beasts in our guide to the Alien xenomorphs.

Gem Seddon

I'm GamesRadar+'s west coast Entertainment News Reporter. I'm a bit obsessed with all things Aliens and Terminator. You can find my byline on our best Netflix movies and best Netflix shows lists.