Ancient astronauts

by Mighty_Emperor | created - 27 Jan 2012 | updated - 6 months ago | Public

The ancient astronaut theory as depicted on the big and small screen. These theory was popularised by Erich von Däniken and have been a strong influence on popular culture since.

Although a popular theme in early science fiction but it was first laid out[1] clearly by Charles Fort in 1919's Book of the Damned, where he said[2]:

I think we're property.

I should say we belong to something:

That once upon a time, this earth was No-man's Land, that other worlds explored and colonized here, and fought among themselves for possession, but that now it's owned by something:


I suspect that, after all, we're useful -- that among contesting claimants, adjustment has occurred, or that something now has a legal right to us, by force, or by having paid out analogues of beads for us to former, more primitive, owners of us -- all others warned off -- that all this has been known, perhaps for ages, to certain ones upon this earth, a cult or order, members of which function like bellwethers to the rest of us, or as superior slaves or overseers, directing us in accordance with instructions received -- from Somewhere else -- in our mysterious usefulness.

But I accept that, in the past, before proprietorship was established, inhabitants of a host of other worlds have -- dropped here, hopped here, wafted, sailed, flown, motored -- walked here, for all I know -- been pulled here, been pushed; have come singly, have come in enormous numbers; have visited occasionally, have visited periodically for hunting, trading, replenishing harems, mining: have been unable to stay here, have established colonies here, have been lost here; far-advanced peoples, or things, and primitive peoples or whatever they were

The films listed here draw on such themes - aliens visiting Earth in the past, people in the "present day" (which might include the future) find evidence for that aliens have been here before, etc.

Further reading: As you are reading this I'll assume you'll be familiar with Von Danicken's theories, so for some background and balance you might want to try: Space Gods Revealed and Guardians of the Universe? by Ronald D. Story and Some Trust in Chariots! by E.W. Castle and B.B. Thiering. There is also the more recent The Cult of Alien Gods by Jason Colavito which, along the lines of a 1982 piece "Chariots of the Old Ones?" by Charles Garofalo and Robert M. Price,[3] argues that Von Daniken's ideas are lifted from HP Lovecraft via Morning of the Magicians, so is a little more focused on how the theory developed (whereas the others focus on debunking specific claims) and I'd quibble that it downplays the influence of Fort, but it is definitely worth a read (as is Jason's blog, which does address the claims in a lot more detail). You can get a taste for the direction he goes in by reading his earlier piece "Charioteers of the Gods"[4] If you are only going to read one then go with Story's GotU? which was published at the tail end of the first big wave of interest and he was able to bring together all the arguments for and against.

Sources: [1] [2] [3] [4]

Links: *Ancient Aliens, Part One and Two, a look at the topic in science fiction films: * Ancient Astronauts at the Movies: * Ancient Astronauts at Jason *Ancient Astronauts at the Secret Sun, where Christopher Knowles teases out AAT themes in pop culture:

See also: *Lovecraftian films, obviously. *They Live Amongst Us about aliens in disguise on Earth now.

Comments: As I don't have a Facebook account I cannot interact with the new comments system, so have switched it off. I will start a thread on the message board and link it in here shortly.

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1. Chariots of the Gods (1970)

G | 92 min | Documentary

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Documentary based on the book by Erich Von Daniken concerning the ancient mysteries of the world, such as the pyramids of Egypt and Mexico, ancient cave drawings, the monuments of Easter ... See full summary »

Director: Harald Reinl | Stars: Heinz-Detlev Bock, Klaus Kindler, Christian Marschall, Aleksandr Kazantsev

Votes: 1,114 | Gross: $25.95M

Just for the thumbnail attached to the list - see the end for documentaries.

2. Quatermass and the Pit (1958– )

30 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Horror

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A team of scientists search for the origin and purpose of a mysterious capsule found on a building site.

Stars: André Morell, Cec Linder, Anthony Bushell, John Stratton

Votes: 641

Martians arrived on Earth millions of years ago and may have influenced human evolution/development.

3. Hercules Against the Moon Men (1964)

Unrated | 88 min | Adventure, Fantasy

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 2.6/10 X  

Hercules is summoned to oppose the evil Queen Samara, who has allied herself with aliens and is sacrificing her own people in a bid to awaken a moon goddess.

Director: Giacomo Gentilomo | Stars: Sergio Ciani, Jany Clair, Anna Maria Polani, Nando Tamberlani

Votes: 1,506

4. Five Million Years to Earth (1967)

Approved | 97 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A mysterious artifact is unearthed in London, and famous scientist Bernard Quatermass is called into to divine its origins and explain its strange effects on people.

Director: Roy Ward Baker | Stars: James Donald, Andrew Keir, Barbara Shelley, Julian Glover

Votes: 7,904

5. Star Trek (1966–1969)
Episode: Who Mourns for Adonais? (1967)

TV-PG | 50 min | Action, Adventure, Mystery

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A powerful being claiming to be the Greek god Apollo appears and demands that the crew of the Enterprise disembark onto his planet to worship him.

Director: Marc Daniels | Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Michael Forest

Votes: 1,777

This episode not only first introduce the idea to the Trekiverse that ancient gods were aliens but also the fact that almost all the aliens look like humans wearing cheap special effects make-up is because intelligent life was seeded across the galaxy in even more ancient times.

6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

G | 149 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
86 Metascore

Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter

Votes: 489,019 | Gross: $56.95M

At the start of the film we see what is essentially a Bracewell probe* amongst apemen boosting our evolution but humanity doesn't one until they visit the Moon, proving their intelligence and causing the alien machines to blow some minds (including my young mind when I first saw this on TV one Christmas with the family).


7. Star Trek (1966–1969)
Episode: Plato's Stepchildren (1968)

TV-PG | 51 min | Action, Adventure, Mystery

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

After Dr. McCoy helps the leader of a planet populated by people with powerful psionic abilities, they decide to force him to stay by torturing his comrades until he submits.

Director: David Alexander | Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Michael Dunn

Votes: 1,417

8. Star Trek (1973–1975)
Episode: How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth (1974)

TV-PG | Animation, Action, Adventure

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The Enterprise runs into a being which once visited Earth, and influenced the Mayan culture.

Directors: Bill Reed, Hal Sutherland | Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei

Votes: 269

9. Doctor Who (1963–1989)
Episode: Pyramids of Mars: Part One (1975)

TV-Y | 25 min | Adventure, Drama, Family

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

The Doctor and Sarah are drawn off course and, instead of UNIT HQ, they arrive on the same site in 1911.

Director: Paddy Russell | Stars: Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Bernard Archard, Michael Sheard

Votes: 415

First of four parts.

10. God Told Me To (1976)

R | 91 min | Crime, Horror, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A New York detective investigates a series of murders committed by random New Yorkers who claim that "God told them to."

Director: Larry Cohen | Stars: Tony Lo Bianco, Deborah Raffin, Sandy Dennis, Sylvia Sidney

Votes: 3,375

A few people have pointed out Daniken-esque themes, although the incoherence of parts of the film do mean you can read plenty into this film.

Take the Charles Whitman inspired murders in Peter Bogdanovich’s Targets, the satanic cult conception of Rosemary’s Baby and toss in conspiracies from The Chariots of the Gods, a crazy Andy Kaufman cameo and sexual body horror that would make David Cronenberg blush and you’ll get a rough idea of what you’re in for with Larry Cohen’s 1976 unconventional exploitation insanity known as God Told Me To.


When the film introduces Richard Lynch (Scarecrow) as a hippie hermaphrodite alien offspring and connective link to Peter’s spiritual prophecy and has unraveled the flashbacks of their origins, there’s enough crazy alien abduction theories and themes that would similarly be explored to some extent in future episodes of the X-Files.

"God Told Me To" was released in 1976, when the book "Chariot of the Gods?" was all the rage, and author Erich von Daniken theorising that many of the religious beliefs and ancient technological advances on planet Earth may have extra-terrestrial origins. Cohen throws plenty of similar ideas into the mixture, as he tries to link UFO abductions, virgin births, mind control, biblical sacrifice, and messianic androgynous aliens, but fails to tie them up into a completely coherent whole.

11. Space: 1999 (1975–1977)
Episode: The Testament of Arkadia (1976)

60 min | Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The Alphans land on the planet Arkadia, where glyphs suggest it is the cradle of civilisation from which life on Earth began. Now it is desolate and Koenig feels it is unsuitable for ... See full summary »

Director: David Tomblin | Stars: Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Barry Morse, Orso Maria Guerrini

Votes: 123

12. Space: 1999 (1975–1977)
Episode: The Mark of Archanon (1976)

60 min | Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The latest extra-terrestials to be rescued by the Moon Alpha Base crew are Pasc and his young son Etrec. They are from the usually peaceful planet of Archaron and they claim that they are ... See full summary »

Director: Charles Crichton | Stars: Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Catherine Schell, Tony Anholt

Votes: 91

13. Doctor Who (1963–1989)
Episode: Image of the Fendahl: Part One (1977)

TV-PG | 25 min | Adventure, Drama, Family

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Archeologists near a reputedly haunted woods use a time scanner to explore the history of a sinister 12 million year old skull, creating a hole in time that attracts the Doctor's attention.

Director: George Spenton-Foster | Stars: Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Wanda Ventham, Daphne Heard

Votes: 186

It turns out that the mask has had an influence on human evolution and development.

14. The Tomorrow People (1973–1979)
Episode: The Heart of Sogguth: Beat the Drum (1977)

TV-PG | 23 min | Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A stranger, Jake, offers to manage Mike's band, but when Liz learns that he is the leader of a religious group called the Hearts of Sogguth, she begins to wonder what his motives are.

Director: Vic Hughes | Stars: Elizabeth Adare, Nicholas Young, Mike Holoway, Philip Gilbert

Votes: 6

According to the Tomorrow People wikia:

The concept (and name) of Sogguth is reminiscent of H.P Lovecraft's short stories of ancient aliens whom early civilisations identified as gods. The idea of an ancient book that contains key information is also often used by Lovecraft.

15. The Tomorrow People (1973–1979)
Episode: The Heart of Sogguth: Devil in Disguise (1977)

TV-PG | 23 min | Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Jake sends John to kill Liz, but forcing a Tomorrow Person against his nature breaks his possession. John and Liz realise that if Mike plays Sogguth's drum on live television, Sogguth (Satan) will be released into the world.

Director: Vic Hughes | Stars: Elizabeth Adare, Nicholas Young, Mike Holoway, Philip Gilbert

Votes: 6

16. Battlestar Galactica (1978–1979)

60 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

After the destruction of the Twelve Colonies of Mankind, the last major fighter carrier leads a makeshift fugitive fleet on a desperate search for the legendary planet Earth.

Stars: Lorne Greene, Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict, Herbert Jefferson Jr.

Votes: 11,402

Heavily influenced by Mormonism:

17. Xenogenesis (1978)

12 min | Short, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

A woman and an engineered man are sent in a gigantic sentient starship to search space for a place to start a new life cycle. Raj decides to take a look around the ship. He comes across a gigantic robotic cleaner. Combat ensues.

Directors: James Cameron, Randall Frakes | Stars: William Wisher, Margaret Umbel

Votes: 880

James Cameron's first film and it is a bit confusing, as the folks providing the money yanked the funding so we are left with the middle part of the story. The opening narration sets up the story:

They made him, a machine, trained to deliver humanity from the final cataclysm. They built him a machine, the most awesome ship ever constructed, and with a mind of its own. She was raised by a machine, that alone knew the power of love. Together, they searched the wilderness of stars for a place where the cycle of creation could begin again. Xenogenesis - man's ultimate adventure.

However, the actual filmed story is a bit of a jump from that and finds the man on what appears to be an ancient (50,000 years since it was abandoned) alien starship. This, plus the title, suggest the larger story would be something to do with ancient astronauts.

Cameron released the short in a court case that accused him of ripping off the ideas Avatar from other sources and he wanted to make clear that he recycled a lot of his earlier ideas (which would fit with the possibility of an ancient astronaut link). Also he plans to use some ideas from the larger film idea that we don't see in Avatar sequels (so it might be interesting to keep an eye out for any AA subtext):

Oh and this is a piece in a larger conspiracy theory:

Watch on YouTube:

18. Life of Brian (1979)

R | 94 min | Comedy

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
75 Metascore

Brian is born on the original Christmas, in the stable next door. He spends his life being mistaken for a messiah.

Director: Terry Jones | Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam

Votes: 303,932 | Gross: $20.05M

Brian bumps into aliens on his adventures. Of course, the issue of whether Jesus was an alien is one that has been tap-danced around by proponents (EVD tried to get it into CotG? but his editor thought it'd outrage pubic sensibilities. Note that the Marvel Comics Universe has a lot of other gods cropping up, some as ancient aliens, but not the Abrahamic God and certainly not Jesus).

19. Quatermass (1979– )

204 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

In the near future, civilisation has broken down to the barest fragment of recognisable life. Young people are forming gangs and dominating the wrecks of cities like London. But the ... See full summary »

Stars: John Mills, Simon MacCorkindale, Ralph Arliss, Paul Rosebury

Votes: 542

The aliens are associated with stone circles.

20. Hangar 18 (1980)

PG | 97 min | Action, Biography, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

Shortly after the launch of a satellite from a space shuttle the satellite collides with an UFO in front of the crew's eyes. Because of an election campaign some politicians try to hide the... See full summary »

Director: James L. Conway | Stars: Darren McGavin, Robert Vaughn, Gary Collins, James Hampton

Votes: 1,789 | Gross: $6.00M

The military have found a UFO and, while trying to keep it a secret, they discover a link between it and much earlier Mexican archaeology:

??: The ?Xokotil? plateau in Mexico. Now this portion of the markings are identical to the symbols we saw on the ship. No one has been able to work out what these ?Xokotil? markings mean or who made them or why. But they were made hundreds, may be thousands of years ago, and they can only be seen from the air.

HARRY: If this isn't the wildest coincidence, then what you are saying is that beings from another world have been here on Earth before.

??: The pyramid of Tepanapa. No one know who built it or why. Here's the best part - this pyramid is honeycombed with passageways and there are inscriptions on the walls. Here's some drawings of them. The put these, with these. [puts sketch of symbols from UFO next to diagram in the book] See what I mean? They're similar to the spaceship, too similar, Harry, for it to be any coincidence.

HARRY: Yeah, yeah.

??: Look. I think they have the same root, developed differently but from the same source.

HARRY: Yeah, yeah, so there's a connection.

??: If the symbol is part of the ?Xokotil? markings, then the Tepanapa inscription could be the key to the whole translation.

21. The Pumaman (1980)

90 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 2.1/10 X  

Low-budget film about a young man given a mystical medallion by an Aztec shaman, in order to become a puma-empowered champion like his father before him. In trying to initially locate the ... See full summary »

Director: Alberto De Martino | Stars: Walter George Alton, Donald Pleasence, Miguel Ángel Fuentes, Sydne Rome

Votes: 3,757

22. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1981)

152 min | Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Arthur Dent and his friend Ford Prefect escape the destruction of Earth only to face incredible trials, tribulations and adventures in space and time.

Stars: Simon Jones, David Dixon, Peter Jones, Sandra Dickinson

Votes: 8,781

The Earth itself is a giant computer designed by aliens, although the actual aliens might not suit AA proponents.

23. The Phoenix (1981– )

60 min | Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An ancient and powerful human-like alien is pursued on modern Earth while he searches for his long lost partner.

Stars: Judson Scott, Richard Lynch, E.G. Marshall, Carmen Argenziano

Votes: 176

24. Goldie Gold and Action Jack (1981–1982)
Episode: Revenge of the Ancient Astronaut (1981)

TV-Y7 | Adventure, Animation

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

Add a Plot

Directors: John Kimball, Rudy Larriva | Stars: Booker Bradshaw, Henry Corden, Peter Cullen, Alan Dinehart

25. The Thing (1982)

R | 109 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
57 Metascore

A crew in Antarctica finds a neighboring camp destroyed and its crew dead. Whatever killed them is nowhere to be found, unless it's hidden in plain sight.

Director: John Carpenter | Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, Richard Masur

Votes: 298,536 | Gross: $13.78M

Not only did a spaceship crash a hundred thousand years ago but Chariots of the Gods gets a mention.

26. Time Walker (1982)

PG | 83 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.1/10 X  

An alien, buried in King Tut's tomb, terrorizes a college campus.

Director: Tom Kennedy | Stars: Ben Murphy, Nina Axelrod, Kevin Brophy, Robert Random

Votes: 1,203

A fairly standard mummy movie, except the mummy is an alien trying to get home after a very long nap.

27. 2010 (1984)

PG | 116 min | Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A joint U.S.-Soviet expedition is sent to Jupiter to learn what happened to the Discovery.

Director: Peter Hyams | Stars: Roy Scheider, John Lithgow, Helen Mirren, Bob Balaban

Votes: 44,461 | Gross: $40.20M

Nothing as explicit as 2001 but it expands on the setting.

There were plans to film the other two novels in the series, which give us more background about the monoliths, but nothing has yet emerged.

28. Children of the Dog Star (1984)

24 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An alien lands on Earth and is taken in by Earth children.

Stars: Sarah Dunn, Jeison Wallace, Hamish Bartle, Roy Billing

Votes: 117

29. The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries (1984–1985)
Episode: Ghosts of the Ancient Astronauts (1984)

TV-G | Animation, Comedy, Family

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The gang meets Velma's uncle and discovers a stone which leads them to discover the mystery of a temple made by ancient astronauts.

Directors: Oscar Dufau, Rudy Zamora, Ray Patterson | Stars: Marla Frumkin, Casey Kasem, Don Messick, Heather North

Votes: 15

I do like the juxtaposition of this and the previous entry.

30. Cocoon (1985)

PG-13 | 117 min | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
65 Metascore

When a group of trespassing seniors swim in a pool containing alien cocoons, they find themselves energized with youthful vigor.

Director: Ron Howard | Stars: Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Brian Dennehy

Votes: 49,124 | Gross: $76.11M

The aliens arrived here 10,000 years ago and pottered around Atlantis until it sank.

31. Star Knight (1985)

PG-13 | 90 min | Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.1/10 X  

Princess Alba is abducted by a dragon, and it's up to Klever to save her. But, it turns out that this dragon is an alien spacecraft, and Alba falls in love with the human-alien inside it.

Director: Fernando Colomo | Stars: Klaus Kinski, Harvey Keitel, Fernando Rey, Maria Lamor

Votes: 508

aka Space Knight

Picking up on the idea that Medieval descriptions of dragons are actually discussing alien spaceships.

32. Top Line (1988)

94 min | Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  

Author Ted Angelo discovers a U.F.O. in the Columbian jungle. When he tries to spread the word, he earns more than the usual disbelief. Suddenly he's hunted by almost every organization, ... See full summary »

Director: Nello Rossati | Stars: Franco Nero, Deborah Moore, Mary Stavin, William Berger

Votes: 239

A Romancing the Stone-style rip-off Italian movie in which a roguish adventurer finds a 500-year-old space ship in a cave and just about everyone tries to kill him to hide the truth, including a creature which justifies the international title: an Alien Terminator. That turning up about half way through does rather spice things up, before then it involved him doing running around and dodging bullets, however, there was a bit of ancient astronaut chat (the audio isn't the best and accents/effects really make it tricky figuring out some of the words, the ones I am unsure about are marked ?X?):

ANGELO: People have been found hundreds of miles away. Just like that. From one minute to the next. Without any logical explanation. How about those ?bumper? formations that vanished into thin air over Nevada? And the Bermuda Triangle, that's where the ?treasure? ship was last sighted.

MAN 1: The one inside the flying saucer, huh?

MAN 2: The one that was here for the last 500 years?

ANGELO: Yeah, that's the one. Flying saucers have been around for centuries. Pliny saw them in 83 AD.* But there was already talk in the Old Testament. Remember those references to blazing chariots in Sunday school? Hmm?


ANGELO: Deep in Peru, in the Amazon plateau, the Incas dug trenches hundreds of yards long. Seen on the ground, they are perfectly meaningless, just a lot of hard work for no reason. But from the sky, they take on the shape of a bird, with open wings, like a sacred message. Considering there are no mountains around, who were the Incas communicating with, huh?

Then towards the end:

ALIEN: We were here before you earthlings learned how to ?map?. We need your planet. It contains a rare element that's indispensable to our space ships. For 12,000 years, ever since we began exploring this solar system, the earth has been a our last supply stop. The first few centuries we had no problems, you were few, stupid. But then you multiplied. Your civilisations developed. Your ships began to explore even the most distant shores. Avoiding you became impossible. Your evolution was a threat. So we took measures. As you've seen we're ?mutants?, we have been infiltrating your ranks for centuries - we govern you, every key position on your Earth is occupied by one of us, we influence your decisions, we're the ones who are really in control and, when the time comes, we'll be the ones to push the button.

I am surprised David Icke hasn't seen this, it'd blow his mind!

* The Pliny date is probably 85 BC:

33. Red Dwarf (1988– )
Episode: Waiting for God (1988)

TV-PG | 29 min | Comedy, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Lister learns he is the mythical god of Cat's people known as "Cloister the stupid" and Red Dwarf stumbles upon a Red Dwarf garbage capsule and Rimmer thinks it's a stasis capsule carrying a dormant alien woman.

Director: Ed Bye | Stars: Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules, Norman Lovett

Votes: 435

Rimmer finds out he is a god to the Cat's people then gets excited about the possibility of aliens, leading to this:

LISTER: What makes you think these aliens exist?

RIMMER: They must do, Lister! There's so many things that are strange and odd. So many things we don't have any explanation for.

LISTER: Like, um, why do intelligent people buy cinema hot dogs? Do you mean that sort of weird and mysterious thing?

RIMMER: No, Lister, I mean like the pyramids. How did they move such massive pieces of stone without the aid of modern technology?

LISTER: They had massive whips, Rimmer. Massive, massive whips.

34. Moontrap (1989)

R | 92 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5/10 X  

The Space Shuttle returns to earth, but some of the equipment brought back on it begins to behave strangely. Scientists are unsure what is happening, and decide to take all necessary ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Dyke | Stars: Walter Koenig, Bruce Campbell, Leigh Lombardi, Robert Kurcz

Votes: 2,379

Although they never really get around to explaining what is going on ad the new film might actually fill background there are 14,000 year-old people floating around a dead space ship and they don't duck the implication (even if we don't know where they or the robots came from):

GRANT: He's 14,000 years old. That's prehistory.

HASKELL: It's also absurd and ridiculous.

BARNES: Well you all saw the analysis, and we've run the carbon dating a number of times and always get the same results. Well, there's no mistake - he, and his ship, were on the Moon 14,000 years ago.


HASKELL: Doctor Barnes, do you really want me to report to the President that you believe that we may have some kind of ancient astronaut here?

BARNES: Well... urr that's not quite the way I would put it Mr Haskell, but that is the general idea.

The finding of one of these frozen ancient humans reminded me of Frozen (2002) as well as the "Mona Lisa" moon maiden mummy in the Apollo 20 hoax:

35. The Guyver (1991)

PG-13 | 88 min | Sci-Fi, Action, Comedy

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  

A young man discovers a mechanical device that merges with his own body, turning him into a cyborg superhero. When strange creatures start appearing, trying to take the device back, he ... See full summary »

Directors: Screaming Mad George, Steve Wang | Stars: Greg Joung Paik, Jimmie Walker, Peter Spellos, Michael Berryman

Votes: 3,999

I'll let the opening crawl explain the background:

At the beginning of time, aliens came to the Earth to create the ultimate organic weapon. They created Mankind. By planting a special gene into man they created the ZOANOIDS - Humans who can change at will into super monster soldiers.

Eons later, the Zoanoid leader, called the ZOALORD, has awakened formed the Chronos Corporation to further develop the Zoanoid technology for world domination.

Among the alien remains, was found the "Unit" - a bio boosted alien armor. Worn by the aliens it serves as an ordinary shield. If the wearer is human it increases his natural powers a hundred fold - he becomes the "GUYVER." But how to activate it remains a mystery.

Dr. Tetsu Segawa, a research scientist at Chronos, senses danger if this "unit" is activated by the Zoalord. Now the doctor has stolen it and is on the run.

Then the chief baddie Fulton Balcus delivers similar exposition to Dr Segawa's daughter Mizuki. Note the idea that alien meddling led to a lot of our legends (something Ancient Aliens would get around to when they started running out of material):

BALCUS: Come with me. I want to show you a few things.

BALCUS: Here we are. The growth corridor.

MIZUKI: What are they?

BALCUS: These are Zoanoids, genetically altered human beings.


BALCUS: You see, my dear, a long time ago, when the planet was barren the aliens descended upon the Earth and created Man.

MIZUKI: The aliens?

BALCUS: That's right. Man was created as the ultimate organic weapon. And these are the next step in the evolutionary process. Warriors developed by the aliens from the human species. In times past, they were known as werewolves, minotaurs, vampires.

It is all a bit silly and more Power Rangers than the original manga.

36. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987–1994)
Episode: Devil's Due (1991)

TV-PG | 46 min | Action, Adventure, Mystery

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

While answering a distress call, Picard finds himself not sure of exactly who he is dealing with, but he's sure he's not dealing with the planet's version of the Devil, as she claims to be.

Director: Tom Benko | Stars: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn

Votes: 1,412

The crew realise that a god on an alien planet is just someone using higher technology to convince the locals that they are a deity.

37. Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America (1992)

Unrated | 48 min | Comedy, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

In the year 1000, aliens from the planet Quetzalcoatl flee their dying planet and take refuge under the Earth's surface. Disturbed by 1950s American atomic testing, the aliens strike back ... See full summary »

Director: Craig Baldwin | Stars: Maurice Bishop, Jimmy Carter, Fidel Castro, John Foster Dulles

Votes: 256

38. Dazed and Confused (1993)

R | 102 min | Comedy

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
78 Metascore

The adventures of high school and junior high students on the last day of school in May 1976.

Director: Richard Linklater | Stars: Jason London, Wiley Wiggins, Matthew McConaughey, Rory Cochrane

Votes: 137,091 | Gross: $7.99M

But of a minor passing mention, but it is interesting:


Cut to: Michelle is sat on a car playing her guitar. Slater is toking hard. Pickford and Stoner lie on a car getting heavily stoned.

PICKFORD: You guys know what that song's about? It's about aliens. We're the aliens, man. We're the savages.

STONER: Wait man that song's about that?

SLATER: Yeah man, that song's about that, man.

STONER: It's about aliens?

SLATER: Yeah man, you didn't know that? This country is founded, it was found by people who were into aliens man. George Washington, man, he was in a cult, and the cult was into aliens, man. You didn't know that? Oh man, they were way into that type of stuff.

You can watch the clip here:

Oddly that song is indeed about aliens, and it is Milla Jovovich own song:

Different from the script, presumably Milla preferred to include her tune (although the song wasn't released until a year after the film):


Near another truck with a stereo going, Pickford, Michelle, Slater. Stoner #2, and Stacy sic in a circle on the ground passing a reefer and listening to Neil Young's "After The Goldrush." No one says anything for a while but then Stoner #1*and Slater start in.

STONER #1: This song is about aliens landing.

SLATER: Of course, man. This country was founded by people who worshipped aliens - George Washington and them. They were all a part of some cult that was way into that.

There is a hoax about a vision George Washington was alleged to have:

Which, along with other equally trustworthy material, made its way into an episode of Ancient Aliens, but Dazed and Confused did it first and better (well it was shorter and more to the point anyway):

Although they were clearly so impressed with it, that they recycled the information in an episode about how aliens were interested in the American Civil War (the fact that they drop the "American" bit was clearly foreshadowing of the large dollops of American exceptionalism they threw in, really laying it on thick towards the end):

Oh and "After the Goldrush" was inspired by an unproduced screenplay co-written by Dead Stockwell (from Quantum Leap and later Battlestar Galactica) and does metion flying saucers:

Well, I dreamed I saw the silver Space ships flying In the yellow haze of the sun, There were children crying And colors flying All around the chosen ones. All in a dream, all in a dream The loading had begun. They were flying Mother Nature's Silver seed to a new home in the sun. Flying Mother Nature's Silver seed to a new home.

Although whether it actual refers to aliens is unclear:

39. The Gifted (1993)

101 min | Fantasy, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Psychic descendents of an African tribe reunite to save Earth. 5000 years ago certain members of the Dogon tribe in West Africa were granted psychic powers by good aliens to counterbalance ... See full summary »

Director: Audrey King Lewis | Stars: Ed Cambridge, Bianca Ferguson, Julie Hampton, Julius Harris

Votes: 10

40. The X-Files (1993– )

TV-14 | 45 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

Two FBI agents, Fox Mulder the believer and Dana Scully the skeptic, investigate the strange and unexplained, while hidden forces work to impede their efforts.

Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, William B. Davis

Votes: 170,726

After the initial Monster of the Week episodes, Chris Carter and co developed a "story engine" to keep the series going - an overarching and evolving alien conspiracy, that turned out to have been around a long time (as we'll see with the individual episodes below).

41. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987–1994)
Episode: The Chase (1993)

TV-PG | 45 min | Action, Adventure, Mystery

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The crew of the Enterprise must race against various rival powers to uncover an archaeological secret that explains the predominance of humanoid life forms in the galaxy.

Director: Jonathan Frakes | Stars: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn

Votes: 1,422

Picks up on the Adonais idea about why a lot of the species found in Star Trek are bipedal humanoids often with funny ears or a wrinkled nose. Apparently it is not because it saves on the special effects budget but an alien species seeded the galaxy with life.

CRUSHER: This fragment has been part of every DNA strand on Earth since life began there, and the other fragments are just as old. Someone must have written this programme over four billion years ago.

PICARD: So, four billion years ago someone scattered this genetic material into the primordial soup of at least nineteen different planets across the galaxy?

DATA: The genetic information must have been incorporated into the earliest lifeforms on these planets, and then passed down through each generation.


PICARD: It's four billion years old. A computer programme from a highly advanced civilisation, and it's hidden in the very fabric of life itself. Whatever information this programme contains could be the most profound discovery of our time. Or the most dangerous. And the Professor knew that.


HUMANOID: You're wondering who we are, why we have done this, how it has come that I stand before you, the image of a being from so long ago. Life evolved on my planet before all others in this part of the galaxy. We left our world, explored the stars, and found none like ourselves. Our civilisation thrived for ages, but what is the life of one race, compared to the vast stretches of cosmic time? We knew that one day we would be gone, that nothing of us would survive. So, we left you. Our scientists seeded the primordial oceans of many worlds, where life was in its infancy. The seed codes directed your evolution toward a physical form resembling ours. This body you see before you, which is, of course, shaped as yours is shaped, for you are the end result. The seed codes also contained this message, which we scattered in fragments on many different worlds. It was our hope that you would have to come together in fellowship and companionship to hear this message. And if you can see and hear me, our hope has been fulfilled. You are a monument, not to our greatness, but to our existence. That was our wish, that you too would know life, and would keep alive our memory. There is something of us in each of you, and so, something of you in each other. Remember us.

42. Stargate (1994)

PG-13 | 116 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
42 Metascore

An interstellar teleportation device, found in Egypt, leads to a planet with humans resembling ancient Egyptians who worship the god Ra.

Director: Roland Emmerich | Stars: Kurt Russell, James Spader, Jaye Davidson, Viveca Lindfors

Votes: 158,581 | Gross: $71.57M

Military science fiction with a very literal ancient astronaut storyline that could have come straight from the pages of one of Von Däniken's books.

43. The High Crusade (1994)

100 min | Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5/10 X  

Roland Emmerich (Stargate, Independence Day, and Godzilla) brings you John Rhys-Davies in a Monty Pythonesque tale of a band of Crusaders who find themselves in possession of an Alien ship ... See full summary »

Directors: Klaus Knoesel, Holger Neuhäuser | Stars: John Rhys-Davies, Rick Overton, Michael Des Barres, Catherine Punch

Votes: 519

Produced by Stargate's Roland Emmerich.

44. Guyver: Dark Hero (1994)

R | 127 min | Action, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Sean Barker became the unwilling host to an alien bio-armor known as the Guyver. A year ago he destroyed the Kronos Corporation, an organization of mutants who want the Guyver. Now he is ... See full summary »

Director: Steve Wang | Stars: David Hayter, Kathy Christopherson, Bruno Patrick, Christopher Michael

Votes: 2,706

The Guyver sequel that has better effects and is more faithful to the source material - one of those sequels that is better than the originals.

We also get a bit more back story as a father and daughter, self-described as "outlaws of science" (something I'm sure ancient astronaut proponents like to think of themselves when they aren't adding "real-life Indiana Jones" to their business cards), have been hunting for all sorts of anomalies and have focused on what turns out to be an alien spaceship. As the daughter explains:

CORI: We came here hoping to find anything... anything that would suggest an ancient alien visitation. I mean, we would've settled for alien beer cans. Instead we got...

We then get the Guyver himself explain that these creatures have been with us since the dawn of time, inspiring legends and myths:

SEAN: The monsters in the cave paintings and the skeletons you've been digging up, they're Zoanoids. The... the bears that killed those people are Zoanoids too. They've lived alongside us forever. All the stories you've ever heard about werewolves or Bigfoot, they're all...

Towards the end of the film Guyver has a lot of background information downloaded into his head - a strange seed-shaped of a ship landing on a volcanic earth and growing ape men in pods who transform into monsters. There is a suggestion that the Guyver bonding with an ordinary human is a mistake and the units were intended for the monsters.

45. Babylon 5 (1994–1998)

45 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A space station in neutral territory is the focus of a unique five year saga.

Stars: Mira Furlan, Richard Biggs, Stephen Furst, Andreas Katsulas

Votes: 24,370

The older races visited many of the younger species in the past (for their own ends). This is demonstrated most obvious when a Vorlon is seen outside its containment suit an each alien race sees it in the form of an angel in their culture.

46. Babylon 5 (1994–1998)
Episode: The Fall of Night (1995)

44 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.2/10 X  

While the Centauri/Narn war escalates the Earth government enters into a non-aggression treaty with the Centauri. While Keffer is in Hyperspace, he discovers a dangerous secret.

Director: Janet Greek | Stars: Bruce Boxleitner, Claudia Christian, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan

Votes: 391

The episode in which the Vorlon's are revealed to appear as different divine beings to the different races because of their interference in all their pasts.

47. Star Trek: Voyager (1995–2001)
Episode: Tattoo (1995)

TV-PG | 46 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Finding a familiar cultural symbol on an away mission, Chakotay connects with an experience he had as a child and tries to contact his spirit people.

Director: Alexander Singer | Stars: Kate Mulgrew, Robert Beltran, Roxann Dawson, Jennifer Lien

Votes: 772

Chakotay's ancestors were visited by an alien race 45,000 years ago.

48. The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest (1996–1997)
Episode: The Secret of the MOAI (1996)

TV-PG | 22 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.1/10 X  

Surd is using an alien craft to experiment with human de-evolution.

Stars: J.D. Roth, George Segal, Robert Patrick, Michael Benyaer

Votes: 8

49. The Fifth Element (1997)

PG-13 | 126 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
52 Metascore

In the colorful future, a cab driver unwittingly becomes the central figure in the search for a legendary cosmic weapon to keep Evil and Mr. Zorg at bay.

Director: Luc Besson | Stars: Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm

Votes: 378,645 | Gross: $63.54M

Especially in the final scenes, which seem very... Stargate.

50. Stargate SG-1 (1997–2007)

TV-14 | 44 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A secret military team, SG-1, is formed to explore the recently discovered Stargates.

Stars: Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge

Votes: 72,026

51. Earth: Final Conflict (1997–2002)

TV-PG | 60 min | Action, Drama, Mystery

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

When an alien species comes to Earth bearing boons to Humanity, a few suspicious humans seek to learn and resist the newcomers' true designs.

Stars: Von Flores, Leni Parker, Anita La Selva, Richard Chevolleau

Votes: 3,312

The aliens have visited Earth many times before at least back to the Stone Age.

52. Space Island One (1998– )

45 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The series is set aboard the corporate space station Unity and is a character driven drama about the station's crew.

Stars: Judy Loe, Indra Ové, Angus MacInnes, Bruno Eyron

Votes: 70

53. The X-Files (1993– )
Episode: The End (1998)

TV-14 | 46 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9/10 X  

A government assassin is caught trying to kill child chess prodigy Gibson Praise during an international chess tournament. Mulder's old flame Agent Diana Fowley arrives to help on the case but Scully is suspicious of her.

Director: R.W. Goodwin | Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, Nicholas Lea

Votes: 2,123


In a pivotal end-of-season episode, a chess prodigy is nearly assassinated and turns out to have impressive mental abilities, but why?

GUNMAN: The kid is a missing link.

MULDER: To what?

(MULDER and the GUNMAN look at each other. They ignore SPENDER.)

MULDER: He’s genetic proof, isn’t he?

(GUNMAN nods slightly.)

SPENDER: Genetic proof of what? (pause) Genetic proof of what?

MULDER: The kid’s not superhuman. He’s just more human than human.

(MULDER exits the cell quickly. SPENDER follows.)

SPENDER: He’s what?

MULDER: Most of us have genes we don’t use. They lie there dormant, turned off. Science doesn’t know what they’re for, why they’re there or where they came from.

SPENDER: Right and you think this has something to do with that?

MULDER: There’s a long-held but unpopular theory tied to prehistoric evidence of alien astronauts.

SPENDER: You’re not going to go out there and say the kid’s part alien.

(MULDER gives SPENDER a direct look and keeps walking.)

SPENDER: You think that’s what you heard? You led him, Agent Mulder. Now you’re letting yourself be led.


They also throw in a nod to Jack Kirby in the Silver Surfer cartoon that is shown at one point.

54. The Darwin Conspiracy (1999 TV Movie)

PG | 85 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.2/10 X  

The frozen body of a prehistoric, but super-advanced, human leads scientists to start covert DNA experiments for the development of a new race of super beings.

Director: Winrich Kolbe | Stars: Jason Brooks, Robert Floyd, Stacy Haiduk, Kevin Tighe

Votes: 349

55. Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths & Legends (1999– )

Animation, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Add a Plot

Stars: Kathleen Barr, Jim Byrnes, Ted Cole, Michael Dobson

Votes: 102

56. The X-Files (1993– )
Episode: Biogenesis (1999)

TV-14 | 45 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

Mulder believes metallic objects discovered on the coast of West Africa are proof of the extraterrestrial origin of life on Earth. He falls mentally ill under the apparent influence of the artifact while Scully goes to Africa for answers.

Director: Rob Bowman | Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, William B. Davis, Nicholas Lea

Votes: 1,813


The first in a three-part storyline that stretched across the end of season 6 to the start of 7 and would help update the larger mythology giving the conspiracy a deep history.

This would be picked up in the "Provenance"/"Providence" arc. All five episodes were written/co-written by Chris Carter.

57. The X-Files (1993– )
Episode: The Sixth Extinction (1999)

TV-14 | 44 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Scully and a colleague try to decipher the symbols on the spaceship beached in Africa before their rival can take over the dig, but the ship starts recreating the Plagues of Egypt. Skinner and Kritschgau test Mulder's telepathic ability.

Director: Kim Manners | Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, Mimi Rogers

Votes: 1,774


58. The X-Files (1993– )
Episode: The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati (1999)

TV-14 | 45 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Scully searches for Mulder after the Cigarette Smoking Man takes him from the hospital for unknown purposes. An unconscious Mulder dreams of a better life away from his mission and the X-Files. But perhaps he is being led astray.

Director: Michael W. Watkins | Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, William B. Davis, Nicholas Lea

Votes: 1,832


59. Mission to Mars (2000)

PG | 114 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
34 Metascore

When the first manned mission to Mars meets with a catastrophic and mysterious disaster after reporting an unidentified structure, a rescue mission is launched to investigate the tragedy and bring back any survivors.

Director: Brian De Palma | Stars: Tim Robbins, Gary Sinise, Don Cheadle, Connie Nielsen

Votes: 64,419 | Gross: $60.88M

60. 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996–2001)
Episode: The Thing That Wouldn't Die: Part 1 (2001)

TV-PG | 21 min | Comedy, Family, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

Having witnessed Dick's alien encounter with Liam Neesam; Mary requires an explanation. The "Big Giant Head" delivers some disturbing news.

Director: Terry Hughes | Stars: John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, French Stewart, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Votes: 148

This is the episode that gives us the quote at the start of the Ancient Astronauts TV Tropes page:

MARY: Did you build the Pyramids?

DICK: Only the one in Las Vegas.

MARY: What about Easter Island?

DICK: Easter Island was a practical joke that got out of hand.

61. Stargate: Infinity (2002–2003)

TV-Y7 | 30 min | Adventure, Animation, Drama

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.7/10 X  

In the near future, a veteran of the Stargate program, four cadets, and a mysterious alien are prevented from returning to Earth by a traitor. The heroes must use the Stargate network to ... See full summary »

Stars: Mark Acheson, Kathleen Barr, Bettina Bush, Jim Byrnes

Votes: 620

Ropey cartoon spin-off that seemed utterly pointless. I think I was only able to last a couple of episodes (see also: the Highlander cartoon).

62. The X-Files (1993– )
Episode: Provenance (2002)

TV-14 | 45 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A man is chased from the Canada/US border and reportedly burned alive though his body is not found. Meanwhile, in the burned remains, the FBI finds papers with the same UFO markings Scully found in Africa.

Director: Kim Manners | Stars: Gillian Anderson, Robert Patrick, Annabeth Gish, Mitch Pileggi

Votes: 1,386


A two-part story arc that picked up the baton from the "Biogenesis"/"Sixth Extinction" storyline.

63. The X-Files (1993– )
Episode: Providence (2002)

TV-14 | 44 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Scully's baby becomes a bargaining chip for a psychotic UFO cult that feels the baby is ultimately connected to a UFO they have uncovered.

Director: Chris Carter | Stars: Gillian Anderson, Robert Patrick, Annabeth Gish, Mitch Pileggi

Votes: 1,413


64. Futurama (1999–2013)
Episode: A Pharaoh to Remember (2002)

TV-PG | 30 min | Animation, Comedy, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Bender worries that no one will remember him when he dies, but he encounters a chance to leave a legacy when he discovers a planet in need of a new pharaoh.

Director: Mark Ervin | Stars: Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille

Votes: 1,078

Reverses the ancient astronaut idea (and pokes fun at it in the process) by having an alien race who were given all their technology by the ancient Egyptians:

FRY: Incredible. This place is just like the Ancient Egypt of my day.

OSIRAN: That is no coincidence. For our people visited your Egypt thousands of years ago.

FRY: I knew it! Insane theories, one; regular theories, a billion.

OSIRAN: We learned many things from the mighty Egyptians, such as pyramid-building, space travel and how to prepare our dead so as to scare Abbott and Costello.

65. AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)

PG-13 | 101 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
29 Metascore

During an archaeological expedition on Bouvetøya Island in Antarctica, a team of archaeologists and other scientists find themselves caught up in a battle between the two legends. Soon, the team realize that only one species can win.

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson | Stars: Sanaa Lathan, Lance Henriksen, Raoul Bova, Ewen Bremner

Votes: 160,623 | Gross: $80.28M

66. Stargate: Atlantis (2004–2009)

TV-PG | 44 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

An international team of scientists and military personnel discover a Stargate network in the Pegasus Galaxy and come face-to-face with a new, powerful enemy, The Wraith.

Stars: Joe Flanigan, Rachel Luttrell, David Hewlett, Jason Momoa

Votes: 53,345

67. Battlestar Galactica (2004–2009)

TV-14 | 44 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

When an old enemy, the Cylons, resurface and obliterate the 12 colonies, the crew of the aged Galactica protect a small civilian fleet - the last of humanity - as they journey toward the fabled 13th colony, Earth.

Stars: Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber, James Callis

Votes: 132,840

68. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

PG | 109 min | Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
63 Metascore

Mere seconds before the Earth is to be demolished by an alien construction crew, journeyman Arthur Dent is swept off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher penning a new edition of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."

Director: Garth Jennings | Stars: Martin Freeman, Yasiin Bey, Sam Rockwell, Zooey Deschanel

Votes: 168,340 | Gross: $51.09M

69. Transformers (2007)

PG-13 | 144 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
61 Metascore

An ancient struggle between two Cybertronian races, the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons, comes to Earth, with a clue to the ultimate power held by a teenager.

Director: Michael Bay | Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson

Votes: 547,386 | Gross: $319.07M

70. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

PG-13 | 122 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
65 Metascore

Famed archaeologist and adventurer Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. is called back into action, when he becomes entangled in a Soviet plot to uncover the secret behind mysterious artifacts known as the Crystal Skulls.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf, Karen Allen

Votes: 366,162 | Gross: $317.10M

As well as the rather obvious elongated crystal skull the back story is revealed in this scene:


Indy helps Oxley get up into the cave, Marion holds onto his arm. Indy leads them into the cave- Mac is holding a flashlight. The are struck by a cave painting in front of them. CLOSE ON the cave walls as Indy gently touches the first painting, a depiction of a group of squat human figures, hands stretched aloft to the sun.

INDY (feeling the materials): Ochre... iron oxide....charcoal...

MAC: How old is this?

INDY: Four, five thousand years, old as the pyramids. Sun worshippers like the Egyptians.


They move to the next panel. The group of humans are looking up at the sky as a figure is lowering form the heavens -- humanoid, but taller, thinner, glowing.

MARION: More worshippers.

INDY: That’s not the sun they’re worshipping though.

INDY (cont’d): Someone came.

They keep moving. There are more alien figures now, and they’re moving among the human figures, building, farming.

INDY (cont’d): Taught the Ugha -- farming, irrigation --

Oxley holding onto the burlap bag with the skull, moves into another room he sees---

The next drawing a more detailed version of the visitor, just its torso and cranium, in profile.

Oxley reaches into his bag, pulls out the Crystal Skull.

Indy and the rest of the group enter the room.

MARION: Ox, what is it?

Indy hands the torch to Mutt and approaches Oxley, he reaches for the skull. Oxley is hesitant to give it up.

INDY: I understand.

Indy takes it and moves closer to the wall ....


Oxley and the rest of the group enter the room. Marion moves to Oxley she puts her hand on his shoulder.

MARION: Ox, what is it?

Indy hands the torch to Mutt and moves in front of Oxley.

INDY: I think I understand Ox. Someone came.

Indy looks at the painting, mesmerized. Oxley takes the skull and raises it with his right hand, creating a shadow

He holds it up against the painting --

-- and it’s an exact match.

71. The Objective (2008)

Not Rated | 90 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  
26 Metascore

A military special operations team, led by a CIA case officer, are on a mission in the harsh and hostile terrain of Afghanistan where they find themselves in a Middle Eastern "Bermuda Triangle" of ancient evil.

Director: Daniel Myrick | Stars: Jonas Ball, Matthew R. Anderson, Jon Huertas, Michael C. Williams

Votes: 7,309 | Gross: $2.25M

Slow segues from a war film into a more supernatural one, then brings in vimanas and the ending is clearly influenced by 2001.

72. 10,000 BC (2008)

PG-13 | 109 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  
34 Metascore

A prehistoric epic that follows a young mammoth hunter's journey through uncharted territory to secure the future of his tribe.

Director: Roland Emmerich | Stars: Camilla Belle, Steven Strait, Marco Khan, Cliff Curtis

Votes: 115,627 | Gross: $94.78M

Quite surprisingly this introduces the "aliens" rather late on (from left field), giving the film almost the feel of a Stargate prequel (it should be no surprise that this was also directed by Roland Emmerich), tacked onto the end of One Million Years B.C. (1966). In the end the influence was more from Graham Hancock's Fingerprints of the Gods and the work of Robert Bauval than Erich von Däniken's ideas (Atlanteans not aliens), but the parallels between the two are worth flagging up (especially as FotG used a lot of ideas popularised by the ancient astronaut theorists, just with the more unacceptable alien aspects removed, bringing things full circle to the earlier ideas they were drawing on, reinterpreted for the Modern UFO Era.). Both rely on the (racist?) notion that the Egyptians were not capable of producing the more complex stonework, despite being clearly capable of amazing feats of masonry.

Here is the relevant bit of the script, which teases aliens:

The BLIND MAN speaks in a weak, whispering voice. Nakudu translates.

NAKUDU: He believes these Gods came across the big water...and many say that they travelled from the stars...

The BLIND MAN’S voice can hardly be heard.

NAKUDU (CONT'D): First there were three, but now only one of them is left. He builds the mountains so they can travel back to the stars.

The God certainly doesn't appear fully human:

The HIGH PRIEST steps up to the litter, and parts the curtains slightly. We realize his fingers have extremely long fingernails which are painted gold.

We get no view of the being within, save a glimpse of:

Long golden fingers, more articulated, more refined than those of the High Priest - but not really human.

Then we see--

Cold eyes, strangely distorted.. We can hardly see them in the darkness of the litter. They are hidden behind a thick veil...

For a long moment, the God observes the progress of his tomb. Then, a flick of his hand, like the recoil of an insect.


We see THE God for the first time, full figure. He is covered in purple and golden fabric which flows in the wind. His hands have unnatural long fingers, covered in gold. He is extremely tall. On his head sits a strange crown.


For the first time we hear the VOICE OF THE God, which is harsh and very foreign-sounding, other-worldly.

Then they reel it back in the last few minutes:

The priests watch as the hurrying God rips his veils and accoutrements from his body, furiously getting rid of everything that made him so tall and mysterious...

Turning himself into nothing more than a...


All quotes from:,000BC.pdf

Despite producing more Ancient Astronaut work, it does seem like this is closer to his personal take on Ancient Egypt:

Earlier, Emmerich had mentioned in passing a lost, ancient civilisation, so I asked him what is it about these pseudo-historical mysteries that fires his imagination? “I believe that these early pyramid builders lived alongside early man, for a long time. There are tantalizing hints in the archaeological record. Only the three pyramids of Giza were claimed by the ancient Egyptians, nobody knows for sure who built the others. Around that time and place, there are so many amazing discrepancies. The Sphinx has water marks high up on the stone that were created in 7,000 BC. Did you know that the pyramids are aligned to the star map of Orion, as it was 12,000 years ago? Isn’t that fascinating? Why would they do that and how? Those are interesting questions to me.”

I make the observation that his obsession with ancient Egypt goes all the way back to his second American studio film, the sci-fi adventure Stargate. “Oh, it goes back further than that”, he replies. I remember being 17 years old and standing in front of these extraordinary structures in Cairo. The pyramids have this otherworldly, timeless quality. They are incredibly simple but also deeply complex and mysterious. The experience of being there has stayed with me all my life, and it informs my thinking still.” I go on to say that the two films also share the same science-fiction idea that this ancient society was ruled by alien gods, but Emmerich stops me. “They’re not really gods in 10,000 BC. The leader of the pyramid-builders is from beyond the ocean, not the stars. We never use the word, but I always thought of this king as coming from Atlantis, you know, with advanced technologies for building and making war, those huge ships, that level of organization”.

That said there has been an attempt to make Emmerich's big movies all fit into the same continuity (yes, even Godzilla and Universal Soldier):

73. Outlander (2008)

R | 115 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
40 Metascore

During the reign of the Vikings, Kainan, a man from a far-off world, crash lands on Earth, bringing with him an alien predator known as the Moorwen. Though both man and monster are seeking revenge for violence committed against them, Kainan leads the alliance to kill the Moorwen by fusing his advanced technology with the Viking's Iron Age weaponry.

Director: Howard McCain | Stars: Jim Caviezel, Sophia Myles, Ron Perlman, Jack Huston

Votes: 66,927 | Gross: $0.16M

74. Mutant Chronicles (2008)

R | 111 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

28th century soldier Mitch Hunter leads a fight against an army of underworld Mutants.

Director: Simon Hunter | Stars: Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman, Devon Aoki, Sean Pertwee

Votes: 24,399 | Gross: $0.01M

The mutants are produced by a machine that crashed on Earth 10,000 years ago (a number that crops up a lot, as it is the approximate end of the Ice Age but more importantly has been flagged up in works like Fingerprints of the Gods as being important in the development of humanity).

75. Stargate: The Ark of Truth (2008 Video)

Not Rated | 97 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

SG-1 search for an Ancient Artifact to finally defeat the Ori. But the Artifact is in the Ori Galaxy.

Director: Robert C. Cooper | Stars: Ben Browder, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge, Michael Shanks

Votes: 17,779

After the end of the SG1 series in 2007, they produced a couple of standalone TV movies (as they did with Babylon 5).

76. Stargate: Continuum (2008 Video)

Not Rated | 98 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Ba'al travels back in time and prevents the Stargate program from being started. SG-1 must somehow restore history.

Director: Martin Wood | Stars: Ben Browder, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge, Michael Shanks

Votes: 19,576

77. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

PG-13 | 150 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  
35 Metascore

Sam Witwicky leaves the Autobots behind for a normal life. But when his mind is filled with cryptic symbols, the Decepticons target him and he is dragged back into the Transformers' war.

Director: Michael Bay | Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson

Votes: 348,410 | Gross: $402.11M

The most explicitly ancient astronaut-influenced of the trilogy.

78. The Fourth Kind (2009)

PG-13 | 98 min | Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
34 Metascore

A thriller involving an ongoing unsolved mystery in Alaska, where one town has seen an extraordinary number of unexplained disappearances during the past 40 years and there are accusations of a federal cover up.

Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi | Stars: Milla Jovovich, Elias Koteas, Will Patton, Hakeem Kae-Kazim

Votes: 67,153 | Gross: $25.46M

From the script (pages 65-66), which differs slightly from the final film:

AWOLOWA: I researched the Sumerian civilization for the last fifteen years of my life... and the things I've found in - in relation to this issue - are intriguing.

[as Awolowa talks ARCHIVAL IMAGES flash across the screen - ]

AWOLOWA: You can go into any exposure Sumerian and see what I'm about to tell you. Drawings of rockets - like Apollo - launching into the sky.



AWOLOWA: Etchings and sculptures of men in spacesuits, and what look like oxygen masks.



AWOLOWA: All this art was created four-thousand B.C. [emphasis] Four-thousand years before Christ walked the earth.


AWOLOWA: Genesis, Noah's Ark - to name a few. Both of these stories existed in Sumer six thousand years before the Bible was written. Genesis came from the Sumerian Epic of Creation. Noah's Ark came from the Sumerian Deluge. The Alien-God legend has its basis, it's origins, in Sumerian history.

[Astounded they look at Awolowa, trying to process the flood of information. The phone is ringing but no one hears it.]

AWOLOWA: You can find everything I described in a museum now.

CAMPOS: *beep*

AWOLOWA: And you're entitled to that reaction. I stated from the beginning that I would draw no conclusions, I am giving facts. Proof, from thousand years of data collection and research.

[Campos turns to Abbey]

CAMPOS: It's one thing is to entertain a wild theory, it's quite another thing to invest in it.

For more on the Sumerian used:

79. The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu (2009)

78 min | Adventure, Comedy, Horror

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

Jeff is an ordinary guy that is stuck at a dead end job with a boring life, but when a strange old man gives him an Ancient relic and tells him that he is the last bloodline of H.P. ... See full summary »

Director: Henry Saine | Stars: Kyle Davis, Devin McGinn, Matt Bauer, Honor Bliss

Votes: 1,482

80. Stargate SG-1: Children of the Gods - Final Cut (2009 Video)

Not Rated | 92 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

An alien similar to Ra appears out of the Stargate, killing five soldiers and kidnapping another, a year after the original Stargate mission. A new team is assembled, including some old ... See full summary »

Director: Mario Azzopardi | Stars: Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge

Votes: 4,119

This is the first two episodes edited together into a TV movie with some extra visual effects, to bring it up to modern TV standards, and with a scene of nudity removed, to bring it down to a PG rating.

81. SGU Stargate Universe (2009–2011)

Not Rated | 43 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Trapped on an Ancient spaceship billions of light-years from home, a group of soldiers and civilians struggle to survive and find their way back to Earth.

Stars: Robert Carlyle, Louis Ferreira, Brian J. Smith, Elyse Levesque

Votes: 42,263

82. A Genesis Found (2010)

119 min | Adventure, Mystery

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

In 1938, while working an excavation at Moundville Archaeological Park, Civilian Conservation Corp cadet John Patton Jr. found the key to our darkest secret - an anomalous skeleton neither ... See full summary »

Director: Lee Fanning | Stars: Elliot Moon, Elise Zieman, Luke Weaver, Bennett Parker

Votes: 35

83. Stonehenge Apocalypse (2010 TV Movie)

PG-13 | 90 min | Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.3/10 X  

Archeologists come across an Egyptian chamber, causing an electromagnetic pulse, which comes from Stonehenge, that sends destructive shockwaves around the world. When the pyramids are ... See full summary »

Director: Paul Ziller | Stars: Misha Collins, Torri Higginson, Peter Wingfield, David Lewis

Votes: 2,232

84. Futurama (1999–2013)
Episode: That Darn Katz! (2010)

TV-PG | 22 min | Animation, Comedy, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A sinister cat uses Amy's failed dissertation to launch his plan to save his home planet by destroying Earth.

Director: Frank Marino | Stars: Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille

Votes: 942

Again returning to the theme of ancient astronauts and Egypt, the crew meet alien cats who

THUBANIAN LEADER: What? Oh, right! You see, my associates and I are from the ninth planet of the star you call Thuban. Long ago, life there was ideal. [Flashback: A cat is leaping from scratching posts.] Our sun provided plenty of warm, dozy light. The chicken-salmon roamed free. [Cats pounce on the animals.] Yet disaster loomed. Our planet's rotation was gradually slowing. [Cats are sleeping at night and at day.] At first, it seemed beneficial. Long, dark nights for sleeping, long, sunny days for sleeping. But then it got too hot and too cold. [Cats are meowing in pain, surrounded by fires. Then they are freezing under piles of snow.] Our top scientists went to work, [Cats are looking through a telescope.] At last, they located a planet with the necessary orientation and magnetic field to harness the rotational energy. [The telescope focuses on Earth. End Flashback.]


THUBANIAN LEADER: Indubitably. Although we call it Blue Blue Shiny Ball. [Flashback to Egypt, 3,500 B.C. A saucer lands and cats get out, meowing. The Egyptians look surprised.] In the area now known as Egypt, my people constructed a giant, semi-octahedral antenna to beam Earth's rotational energy to Thuban. [Egyptians are seen building a pyramid.]

AMY: The Great Pyramid at Giza!

THUBANIAN LEADER: Yes. The Egyptians viewed us as gods, but ironically that was our downfall. [The cats are surrounded by golden statues and are being fed by the Egyptians.] They pampered us with feasts most fancy and vittles most tender. We grew fat and domesticated. [A fat cat is napping on someone's lap. The cat meows a "Duh"] Thousands of years passed, and our home world was nearing total destruction. [From space, cats can be heard meowing on Thuban. A man the next planet over yells at them to shut up.] But the technology to save our planet was lost. Lost, that is, until I heard you speak at Mars University.

AMY: So you called my thesis a fat sack of barf, and then you stole it?

THUBANIAN LEADER: Welcome to Academia.

NIBBLER: He intends to siphon off Earth's rotational energy!

AMY: Earth will come to a stop, and...

THUBANIAN LEADER: Half of you will cook, and half of you will freeze. Earth will be one big McDLT. We just got that commercial last year.!

85. Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

PG-13 | 119 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  
50 Metascore

A spaceship arrives in Arizona, 1873, to take over the Earth, starting with the Wild West region. A posse of cowboys and natives are all that stand in their way.

Director: Jon Favreau | Stars: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Abigail Spencer

Votes: 186,391 | Gross: $100.24M

Obviously, aliens in the Wild West would qualify the films for the list (and for my weird western one), but the gold-mining aliens are based on Zechariah Sitchin's ancient astronaut ideas:

Orci gave us a little more information over lunch in which he said they loosely based the aliens on the Babylonian legend of the "Annunaki." According to legend, the Annunaki are an alien race with a distinct interest in gold.

86. Thor (2011)

PG-13 | 115 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
57 Metascore

The powerful, but arrogant god Thor, is cast out of Asgard to live amongst humans in Midgard (Earth), where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders.

Director: Kenneth Branagh | Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston

Votes: 606,201 | Gross: $181.03M

Quite a bit of Jack Kirby's work has an ancient astronaut theme[1] (most obviously The Eternals, which draws heavily on Von Daniken's ideas although he was apparently interested in the topic since the 1940s, but he also did the 2001 comic book adaptation and span it off into Machine Man) but not much of that has made it into the movies based on his comics - Thor is the one that comes closest[2], especially as the Asgardians are shown to be aliens (worth noting that the storyline from The Eternals was brought into the Marvel Universe and finished off by Roy Thomas in Thor's Eternals Saga, just without Kirby, but it shows how easy it is to transition between the two).

[1] [2]

87. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

PG-13 | 154 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
42 Metascore

The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets.

Director: Michael Bay | Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel

Votes: 350,384 | Gross: $352.39M

88. Dead Space: Aftermath (2011 Video)

Unrated | 85 min | Animation, Horror, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

When contact with the spaceship USG Ishimura is lost after a Necromorph outbreak, Earth sends the ship USG O'Bannon to investigate, but contact is lost with them as well.

Director: Mike Disa | Stars: Christopher Judge, Ricardo Chavira, Gwendoline Yeo, Curt Cornelius

Votes: 3,384

89. South Park (1997– )
Episode: A History Channel Thanksgiving (2011)

TV-MA | 23 min | Animation, Comedy

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Upon Eric's advice, the boys use The History Channel's special on the first thanksgiving, to write their school report, but Stan has misgivings when the special insists aliens were part of ... See full summary »

Director: Trey Parker | Stars: Trey Parker, April Stewart, Patrick Lander, Matt Stone

Votes: 1,164

90. Prometheus (I) (2012)

R | 124 min | Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
65 Metascore

Following clues to the origin of mankind, a team finds a structure on a distant moon, but they soon realize they are not alone.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron

Votes: 512,706 | Gross: $126.48M

There are, obviously, ancient astronauts in the first Alien movie so the idea was there from the start, but it was most explicitly stated in this film (and AVP too) and Ridley Scott has confirmed this during his round of promotions for Prometheus:

“The (space) journey, metaphorically, is about a challenge to the gods… NASA and the Vatican agree that is almost mathematically impossible that we can be where we are today without there being a little help along the way. That’s what we’re looking at (in the film), at some of Erich von Däniken’s ideas of how did we humans come about.”

Jon Spaihts' draft, Alien: Engineers has them finding an ancient obelsik deep under the Med which is covered in text which, when translated tells a strange story:

HOLLOWAY: I’m an archaeologist.

He touches a tiny remote. Holographs appear in the air over Weyland’s desk: the folio is a three-dimensional imager. Pictures of a younger Holloway in the field: excavating ruins in Egypt, China, Peru, Greece.

HOLLOWAY (CONT’D): In my studies I discovered a pattern I couldn’t explain. Every eleven hundred years, sudden advances in agriculture, tool use, technology. Inventions. Something caused a great leap forward. Every eleven centuries. The pattern holds as far back as our data goes. Tens of thousands of years. I had to understand this. It became the focus of my work.

Weyland nods. Holloway glances at Watts and forges on.

HOLLOWAY (CONT’D): Dr. Watts was a student of mine.

Watts touches her own remote. The holographic display turns to scientific diagrams. Images of a very young and beautiful Watts in the laboratory.

WATTS: I was analyzing historical changes in human DNA. I found the same pattern. Every eleven centuries, a pulse of new information in the genome of the human race. All over the world. Evolution can’t do that. Something was changing us. Changing the DNA of our species.

HOLLOWAY: Humanity’s been visited. Visited by...beings from somewhere else.

Behind Weyland, Vickers can’t suppress a scowl of disdain.

VICKERS: You mean aliens.


HOLLOWAY: They guided us to civilization. Lifted us up, again and again. I call them the Engineers.

This early draft solves a number of the problems with the film that a lot of people (including me) had:

Damon Lindelof was then brought in to work on the script, now called Paradise:

This switches the discovery to an archarological site


SHAW: Holloway! Look at this.

We’re clearly in the midst of an ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATION. Scaffolding. TURBANED WORKERS. A MAN moves towards Shaw. Twenties. Scruffy. Confident as he is brilliant, reckless as he is handsome.

This is CHARLIE HOLLOWAY. His eyes WIDEN as he SEES Shaw’s discovery -- Fumbles a pair of SPECTACLES out of his shirt pocket as he steps forward, AMAZED --

HOLLOWAY: Jesus... it’s just like the other one.

Other WHAT, we have no idea (yet), but we finally reveal what these two are so EXCITED ABOUT --

A PICTOGRAM etched on the WALL. Shockingly detailed, like no CAVE PAINTING we’ve ever seen --

A group of PEOPLE looking up towards a GIANT -- at least TWICE THEIR SIZE. And he looks a hell of a lot like our ENGINEERS. He points UP --

Shaw's PENLIGHT dances up the wall, illuminates an intricately drawn STARFIELD. One of those stars PROMINENT -- This is what the GIANT is pointing to.

ON SHAW. Almost... REVERENTIAL as she turns to Holloway and softly says --

SHAW: I think they want us to come find them.

We then get the exposition dump in a briefing once they arrive at the location the Engineer is pointing to:

HOLLOWAY (CONT’D): Okay. Let me tell you why you’re here.


HOLLOWAY (CONT’D): These are images from archaeological digs all over Earth. Aztec. Hopi. Inuit. Mesopotamian. Ancient Civilizations separated by centuries that shared no contact with one another, and yet... (beat; with import) The same pictogram was discovered in every last one of them.

NOW, THE CAVE WALL we saw at the beginning of the movie. The PICTOGRAM -- The GIANT POINTING TO THE STARS.

ON THE CREW. Rapt... but CONFUSED. MORE IMAGES -- The same PICTOGRAM at other SITES in other forms -- Sometimes etched onto a VASE -- Here as a MURAL woven into a TAPESTRY --

HOLLOWAY (CONT’D): We did astrological overlays of the stars depicted in these drawings and the only galactic system they matched was so from Earth, these primitive cultures couldn’t possibly have known about it.

THE SCREEN -- GRAPHIC -- THE STAR FIELDS from the various pictograms literally FLOAT OFF of their cave walls and become 3-D REPRESENTATIONS of ACTUAL CONSTELLATIONS.

HOLLOWAY (CONT’D): It just so happens that system has a sun a lot like ours. And based on our long range scans, there seemed to be at least one planet capable of sustaining life. (pauses for effect ) We arrived there this morning.

THE CREW REACTS -- Where is he GOING with this? Fifield speaks up, CYNICAL --

FIFIELD: We’re here because of a map in a cave?

And before Holloway can respond, Shaw does it for him --

SHAW: Not a map. An invitation.

FIFIELD: ... From who?

ON HOLLOWAY. A sense that Shaw has gone OFF SCRIPT. But he smiles gracefully -- hands her the CLICKER, smiles --

Shaw hesitates -- a little out of her element, but she takes it. CLICKS -- BACK TO THE SCREEN -- CLOSE ON THE GIANT MEN --

SHAW: We call them “Engineers.”

Fifield leans forward, tongue firmly in cheek --

FIFIELD: Uh huh. And what’d they engineer?

Moment of truth time. Holloway looks at Shaw -- He gives a subtle shake of his head. Whatever she’s thinking of saying, the message is clear -- “Don’t.” But after a moment, Shaw turns back to the screen. Eye to eye with the GIANT --

SHAW: Look at them. Two eyes. Two arms. Two legs. What did they engineer? (a beat; measured) They engineered us.

Scott is/was the producer attached to a more explicitly AA TV series (or TV movie?):

Schulner recently sold ancient Egyptian drama Pharaoh to HBO with Ridley Scott attached to direct and exec produce. The drama explores an alternate explanation for the foundation and ascent of the ancient Egyptian empire - one in which greatness was bestowed upon us by beings from another world, calling into question what it means to be a "god." The project was co-created by Giannina Facio and Colet Abedi, who will exec produce alongside Scott and David Zucker for Scott Free.

91. Alien Origin (2012 Video)

Not Rated | 88 min | Biography, Horror, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1.9/10 X  

A movie created from "found footage" of a lost military expedition that exposes the origins of life on earth.

Director: Mark Atkins | Stars: Philip Coc, Eric Darins, Daniela Flynn, Mjr. John Frear

Votes: 1,323

Prometheis mockbuster, that also includes ancient astronaut themes.

92. Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens (2012 TV Movie)

69 min | Animation, Action, Family

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

While dealing with the end of summer vacation and a critically damaged Omnitrix, Ben Tennyson finds himself targeted by a mysterious alien bounty hunter.

Director: Victor Cook | Stars: Tara Strong, Meagan Smith, Paul Eiding, Steve Blum

Votes: 531

93. Marvel Knights: Eternals (2014 Video)


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Add a Plot

Votes: 42

Kirby's Eternals were clearly based on EVD's work, but it seems to only have to got media adaptations since Neil Gaiman's run on the title. A pity as those first few issues are perhaps the best appearance of ancient aliens in fiction - I have the Omnibus edition and it is a joy to behold on the over-sized pages. His style really suited the Mayan-esque art of the setting and the alien gods are truly alien, not our current retro-future styled suspects.

94. Eternals (2014– )

Animation, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Medical student Mark Curry's world is turned upside down when he meets Ike Harris, a man who believes that he is part of a centuries-old race of super-powered beings put here on Earth by ... See full summary »

Stars: Lisa Ann Beley, Trevor Devall, Heather Doerksen, Kirby Morrow

Votes: 50

95. Jupiter Ascending (2015)

PG-13 | 127 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  
40 Metascore

A young woman discovers her destiny as an heiress of intergalactic nobility and must fight to protect the inhabitants of Earth from an ancient and destructive industry.

Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski | Stars: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean

Votes: 156,878 | Gross: $47.39M

A silly* space opera (like an over-ambitious and flawed attempt at remaking the Flash Gordon film with better graphics, but minus Brian Blessed) that is underpinned by very ancient aliens (or us as ancient aliens, a branch of the AAH - we came from elsewhere a long time ago**) and Sean Bean seems to be the man with exposition:

So, you've been taught that the birthplace of the human race is earth, but it's not. It's actually a planet in the Cunabulum*** system called Orous, a little over a billion of your years ago. Your planet was discovered during what is commonly called the Great Expansion. At the time, earth was inhabited by a branch-species of Saurisapian, a dangerous human predator called the Sargorn. Obviously before any colonization or resource development could be done safely to your planet, a large-scale extinction event was manufactured.


According to Commonwealth records, this planet was seeded by Abrasax Industries roughly one hundred thousand years ago. Human DNA spliced with indigenous species to evolve a fertile population. And that's where the "why" gets ugly. Basically, the goal is to grow a population as large as possible. Once the population exceeds the planet's ability to sustain it, it's considered ripe for Harvest.

Other than humans coming from elsewhere, in some ways, this backstory is very much like the X-Files mythology, especially as it was introduced by the above episodes, except rather than Harvest they were building up to Colonisation.

* I did like the Gilliamesque bureaucracy bit though - somehow I think there should have been more of this and that Terry Gilliam should have directed the whole thing obviously and Brian Blessed should have been in it (oh and Mila Kunis should get to kick ass rather than playing the Dale Ardeny Damsel in Distress). So perhaps it needed to be sillier, but in the right way, not in a "what is on Channing Tatum's head and face? And his feet!" way.

** A theory that got a bit of a recent airing, round about the time this film was released:

*** "in the Cunabulum"? A reference to Incunabula (via the singular term "incunabulum")? Ong's Hat?'s_Hat

96. Black Knight Decoded (2015 Video)

10 min | Short, Adventure, Drama

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

After receiving a signal from a outer space, a father struggles to unite the world and make first contact.

Director: Jabbar Raisani | Stars: David Oyelowo, Freida Pinto, Layla Crawford, Sebastian Roché

Votes: 15

Very odd short film from Pepsi that is based on the idea of the Black Knight satellite which is largely inspired by a number of NASA photos which have bits of space debris. I was disappointed that it didn't mention PKD's VALIS contacts, but it will be sufficient to make the heads of some disclosure advocates implode. As it wasn't listed on here, I thought I'd better add it.

Watch on YouTube:

97. The X-Files (1993– )
Episode: My Struggle (2015)

TV-14 | 44 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

After the collapse of their relationship, former FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are reunited by a TV host who promotes conspiracy theories about the government and believes that alien abductions are actually false flag operations.

Director: Chris Carter | Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, Joel McHale

Votes: 6,795

The return of the X-Files after 13+ years and about 30 seconds into the opening monologue Fox Mulder hit on ancient alien themes and imagery:

Ancient rock paintings showing primitive drawings of alien visitations. A Biblical painting showing a flying saucer hovering atop a mountain, rays of light emanating from its underside illuminating an individual on the ground. Finally, footage taken from a high-rise office block window, several storeys up, showing 4 spaceships flying in formation over a large city.

MULDER: There are 10,000 sightings each year in North America alone, and so it's been since the dawn of time. Stone Age and even biblical references, into our modern age.

98. Gods of Egypt (2016)

PG-13 | 127 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  
25 Metascore

Mortal hero Bek teams with the god Horus in an alliance against Set, the merciless god of darkness, who has usurped Egypt's throne, plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into chaos and conflict.

Director: Alex Proyas | Stars: Brenton Thwaites, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gerard Butler, Chadwick Boseman

Votes: 83,128 | Gross: $31.15M

While Marvel has Egyptian Gods to go alongside the more famous Asgardians:

They weren't created by Lee and Kirby (Roy Thomas had a hand in creating some of them though and he is the one who eventually finished off Kirby's The Eternals during his Thor run, so he knew the ropes) but as the excellent 1963 series demonstrated, it would have been awesome:

However, they remain rather minor characters and we'll never see them on film unless someone seriously reboots them, so Alex Proyas' latest movie may be the closest we'll get (although Proyas' track record doesn't fill me with confidence - he hit the ground running with SotA,GotC, The Crow and Dark City, but then slipped-up with iRobot and Knowing). Leaving aside the accusations of white-washing the cast, the rather silly movie has definitely captured the ancient astronaut feel with Ra cruising above a flat earth in a spaceship:

The movie combines ancient Egyptian mythology, Marvel’s Thor franchise, the buddy action-adventure genre, the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and the ancient Greek myth of the riddling Sphinx. Why use one mythological world when you can use at least three and mash them all together?

The movie ultimately felt like a surreal ancient astronaut idea gone wrong.

I also noticed that the Gods' blood is gold which has parallels with the use of gold in X-Men: Apocalypse.

99. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

PG-13 | 144 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

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52 Metascore

After the re-emergence of the world's first mutant, world-destroyer Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.

Director: Bryan Singer | Stars: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult

Votes: 310,674 | Gross: $155.44M

Although there are no ancient aliens in this (despite there being ancient astronaut ideas in the Marvel Universe, as we've seen above, Sony don't have the license for them. A pity as they'd have mixed in nicely) there is "ancient mutantism" which is influenced by EVD (although that spectacular opening scene in ancient Egypt is more inspired by the ancient technology/Atlantis idea that fed into the ancient alien theory via Theosophy. Although the emphasis on gold gives it a Sitchiny-feel). Here Singer gives a quick overview of why he had been looking forward to making this movie:

it deals with ancient mutantism, or the origins of the mutant state, or the origin of gods and religion. Which the X-Men universe has never touched upon any of those things and that stuff I loved when I was a kid. I read Chariots of the Gods when I was a kid, and I was fascinated with religion as a kid and cults and things like that. So that stuff made this so appealing to do

In a Front Row interview on Radio 4, he was asked about this (starting at 2:10):

INTERVIEWER: I gather a big influence on you was Chariots of the Gods, this 1968 book about aliens seeding early civilisation.

SINGER: Yes. Chariots of the Gods I read when I was a kid. I rewatched the documentary recently. You know, there is always something fascinating about that. 2001: A Space Odyssey touches upon, you know, what seeded us. I don't really address an alien element in the movie but to me, in my own heart, there is something, you know, about the birth of Apocalypse, who's the villain of the story, 10s of thousands of years ago that hark back to those texts and those ideas.

This does rather add weight to the idea that Singer's Man of Steel (2013) has ancient astronaut overtones, with the appearance of an alien who is virtually a god:

The previous Superman movie, what was it called? What was it about again? Eh, forgettable. Except that Bryan Singer clearly played up the religious connections of Superman with Jesus. He did miracles, resurrected from the dead, heard prayers, yada yada. In this one, Superman is age 33 at the time of the current story, and the director places him in front of a stain glass image of Christ in a scene in a church where he struggles with his identity and purpose. We all now know that Superman is a metaphor for Christ, and Man of Steel has a couple of religious elements in it, but with a twist. And that twist is the ancient aliens myth.


I’m not gonna say that this movie is a propaganda piece for ancient alien mythology but merely that it reflects that zeitgeist in it’s new depiction. The entire atmosphere of the movie was that of Close Encounters with ships that looked like they were taken out of Prometheus (another ancient aliens story that literally claimed Jesus was an extraterrestrial alien!). So it’s feel is more about aliens and the destruction of natural resources (another zeitgeist theme of our era) than it is a traditional superhero story. But of course superhero stories are reflections of our cultural mythos. Jor-El, Superman’s Krypton father says that when his son gets to earth and experiences his extraordinary powers, the people will “think him a god.” But of course, we know better. He’s just an alien.

It might be reaching rather, but all of this does suggest it'd be worth keeping an eye on Singer's future output along with the films of Roland Emmerich and Ridley Scott (and James Cameron).

Sidenote: Ancient Aliens producer Kevin Burns also worked on documentaries (DVD extras, that kind of thing) for Superman Returns and Valkyrie.

Sidenote 2: When Apocalypse learns English what is initially playing on the TV set? It is: Who Mourns for Adonais? (1967)!

100. Moontrap: Target Earth (2017)

85 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

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A long forgotten ancient spacecraft discovered on Earth. Investigations carried out by Scout transport her to the moon whereupon she meets the impressive machines preserving the wisdom of that long lost civilization.

Director: Robert Dyke | Stars: Tarick Salmaci, Niki Spiridakos, Sarah Butler, Damon Dayoub

Votes: 1,743