“Final report of the commercial starship Nostromo, third officer reporting. The other members of the crew — Kane, Lambert, Parker, Brett, Ash and Captain Dallas — are dead. Cargo and ship destroyed. I should reach the frontier in about six weeks. With a little luck, the network will pick me up. This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.“―Ripley (from Alien)
Lieutenant First Class Ellen Louise Ripley was a civilian adviser to the United States Colonial Marine Corps and a hugely influential figure in humanity’s encounters with the species Xenomorph XX121. She was the mother of Amanda Ripley-McClaren and the forebear of Alan Decker.
Beginning her career as a warrant officer with Weyland-Yutani’s commercial freight operations, she was assigned to the USCSS Nostromo in 2122 when it encountered a single Xenomorph unintentionally collected from the planetoid LV-426. The event led to the death of the rest of her crew and the destruction of the ship, and her discovery of the Xenomorph would change the course of her life and plague her for the rest of her existence.
Later promoted to Lieutenant First Class and attached to the Colonial Marines as a civilian adviser, she would go on to have several more encounters with the creatures over the following decades, before eventually giving her life on Fiorina “Fury” 161 to put an end to the Alien menace once and for all. Her exploits ensured that she was well-known among groups and individuals that dealt with the Xenomorph for decades, even centuries, after her death.
Ellen Ripley was born on January 7, 2092 at the Olympia colony on Luna. After gaining a Masters in engineering from the New York Aeronautics University, she served with the US Merchant Navy aboard the Zelazny, where she acted as co-pilot. She eventually met and married her husband Alex, and during a layover between trips they conceived their first child. Despite the fact that it violated Weyland-Yutani regulations, Ripley allowed the pregnancy to come to term, eventually resulting in the birth of her daughter Amanda. She was not disciplined for this transgression. Amanda was delivered at home, in the presence of her husband, a doctor and a nurse. Although Alex begged Ripley to take drugs to dull the pain of birth, she refused out of fear that her history of taking cryodrugs for extended space travel may lead to unforeseen complications. Alex would later leave Ripley when Amanda was 3 years old, and had no further contact with either Ripley or his daughter. Ripley later remarried to Paul Carter, although the relationship was just as disorderly as her last one. Amanda also did not get along with Carter, and ran away from home multiple times.
By the 2120s, Ripley was living in a small town on the coast of El Salvador and serving as a warrant officer and third in command aboard the commercial freighter Nostromo. Prior to the vessel’s fateful final voyage in 2122, Ripley attempted to renegotiate her contract so that she could take a leave of absence and spend more time with Amanda. Eventually Ripley and Weyland-Yutani reached a compromise whereby she would agree to serve aboard the Nostromo for the forthcoming trip and take her leave subsequently.
Nostromo Xenomorph encounter
Investigating the “distress signal”
- “Ash, that transmission… Mother’s deciphered part of it. It doesn’t look like an S.O.S.“
- ―Ripley, regarding the signal from LV-426 (from Alien)
In June 2122, while the Nostromo was still ten months away from Earth on its return trip from Thedus, the crew was woken from hypersleep in response to a mysterious signal emanating from an unsurveyed moon, eventually designated LV-426 or Acheron. Following standard company directives requiring the investigation of any unknown signal of possible intelligent origin, the Nostromo set down on LV-426, and was damaged in the process when dust entered and clogged a damaged engine intake, causing systems to overheat and sparking an electrical fire on board. While Ripley stayed on board to supervise repairs, Captain Dallas, Kane and Lambert set out on foot to locate the source of the transmission.
While the team was away, Ripley attempted to decipher the signal that had brought them there, and with MU/TH/UR’s help determined that it was not a distress call, as initially believed, but rather a warning of some kind. However, Dallas and the others were out of radio contact and she was unable to warn them.
Kane and his “guest”
- “Open the hatch.”
“Wait a minute, if we let it in the ship could be infected. You know the quarantine procedure. 24 hours for decontamination.“
- ―Dallas, being refused entry to the ship by Ripley (from Alien)
The exploration team eventually returned, reporting that Kane was unconscious and had something attached to his face. Ripley, citing quarantine protocols, refused to let them back aboard the ship with an unknown organism and insisted they remain in the airlock for at least twenty-four hours’ decontamination. Despite Dallas’ furious protests, she resolved to maintain her stance, but was undermined when Ash opened the hatch and took Kane to the infirmary. After a preliminary examination of the Facehugger attached to Kane, Ripley confronted Ash about his breaching the quarantine regulations and allowing the creature on board. Unsatisfied with his responses, she took her concerns to Dallas, but was rebuffed.
The Facehugger later detached from Kane, leaving him comatose but apparently unharmed, and with repairs to the ship completed, the Nostromo took off from LV-426 and resumed its voyage home. Kane soon revived, and the crew elected to have a final meal before re-entering hypersleep. During this meal the Chestburster laid inside him emerged, exploding from his chest before escaping into the ship. The remaining crew promptly began searching for the creature using motion detectors and armed with nets and cattle prods, but the Alien, already fully grown, first killed Brett and later captured Dallas.
- “We’ll go step by step, and cut off every bulkhead and every vent until we have it cornered and then we’ll blow it the fuck out into space. Is that acceptable to you?“
- ―Ripley, to Parker (from Alien)
With Dallas gone and Kane already dead, command fell to Ripley. Despite their casualties, she elected to continue with Dallas’ plan of driving the Alien from the air vents where it was hiding, into the Nostromo’s main airlock and blasting it into space. At the same time, Ripley’s suspicions towards Ash were further fueled when he claimed to have no useful information to give them regarding the creature, despite the length of time he had spent examining the dead Facehugger. Determined to find answers, Ripley accessed MU/TH/UR herself and learned of “Special Order 937”, a secret directive given to Ash by Weyland-Yutani tasking him with recovering a Xenomorph specimen at any cost.
When Ripley confronted Ash in the ship’s mess he assaulted her, but before he could kill her he was decapitated by Parker, revealing him to be an android. Ripley reconnected Ash’s remains and interrogated him, and the truth became clear — Weyland-Yutani had deciphered the transmission coming from LV-426 before the Nostromo even left Thedus. They knew of the Xenomorph and sent the ship to the moon to recover one of the creatures, with Ash placed on board to ensure that this happened. Confronted with this knowledge, Ripley elected to destroy the ship by detonating its engines while she, Parker, and Lambert would take their chances in the escape shuttle Narcissus. Now that they were reduced to only three, there was a good chance they could survive long enough to be rescued.
The Nostromo’s destruction
- “Mother? I’ve turned the cooling unit back on. Mother?!”
“The ship will automatically destruct in T-minus 5 minutes.”
- ―Mother and Ripley (from Alien)
Ripley prepared the shuttle while Parker and Lambert gathered the spare oxygen tanks necessary to sustain them on the journey. After heading back onto the Nostromo to retrieve Jones, Ripley heard the Alien attacking Parker and Lambert over the ship’s intercom; she rushed to help, but arrived too late, finding only their bloody corpses. Now alone, Ripley activated the Nostromo’s self destruct before racing for the Narcissus. Finding the Alien blocking her path, she returned to the self destruct and attempted to deactivate it, but missed the five-minute window for stopping the countdown by mere seconds. With the ship now heading for certain destruction, Ripley returned to the Narcissus, found the Alien gone, climbed aboard and launched, moments before the Nostromo’s engines detonated and destroyed it in a spectacular explosion.
As Ripley prepared to enter hypersleep, she discovered, to her horror, that the Alien had in fact hidden aboard the Narcissus with her. After hiding in a cupboard, she silently slipped into a spacesuit and confronted the creature one final time, blasting it out of the airlock before shooting it with a harpoon gun and incinerating it in the shuttle’s engines. With the monstrous creature finally dead, Ripley recorded a distress message detailing the fates of her ship and crew, and entered hypersleep for the journey home.
In the Director’s Cut of Alien, Ripley discovered the Alien’s nest in the hold of the Nostromo while fleeing the ship, after activating its self destruct system. There, she found Dallas and Brett cocooned and being transformed into Xenomorph Eggs. When Dallas begs her to kill him, she incinerates them both with her Flame Thrower before continuing with her escape.
Marion and LV-178 Xenomorph encounter
To the Marion
- “Actually… you’re not really that safe, to be honest.“
- ―Hoop, to Ripley (from Alien: Out of the Shadows)
Unknown to Ripley, Ash had uploaded his consciousness to the Narcissus’ computer before he died, and while she slept the AI kept the shuttle floating undetected in deep space, waiting for another chance to complete Special Order 937. In 2159, when he detected a distress signal being broadcast from the DSMO Marion that described details of the Xenomorph creature, he redirected the Narcissus to rendezvous with the vessel. Ripley awoke aboard the Marion expecting safety, but quickly learned that not only had she yet to reach Earth, she was in the midst of another Xenomorph catastrophe and Ash was still with her. The Marion was doomed, heavily damaged following a crash with one of its shuttles and destined to burn up in the atmosphere of LV-178, around which it orbited. To escape the vessel, Ripley and the surviving members of its crew needed to replace the spent fuel cell aboard the Narcissus, and the only spares were stored in the mining complex on LV-178 where the Xenomorphs had been discovered. To make matters worse, the only shuttle capable of getting them there, the Samson, was sealed in the Marion’s docking bay with four Xenomorphs aboard. After confronting the creatures and killing all but one of them, the survivors descended to the surface of LV-178 in the Samson, leaving the surviving Xenomorph aboard the Marion.
LV-178 and escape from the Marion
- “We have to destroy them all.“
- ―Ripley to the other survivors, regarding the Xenomorphs (from Alien: Out of the Shadows)
Ripley and the other survivors of the ship successfully reached the mine on LV-178, but Ash immediately sabotaged the elevator they used to enter the complex and sent them crashing to the very lowest levels, where the Xenomorphs had been discovered. While fleeing from the creatures through the mine’s tunnels, the group discovered a derelict spacecraft buried deep underground, and on board the fossilized remains of it’s dog-like crewmembers. They also stumbled upon a multitude of Xenomorph Eggs, realizing that the Xenomorphs had intentionally herded them there with the intention of impregnating them with Chestbursters, a fate that befell Sneddon. As the situation in the tunnels beneath LV-178 worsened, Ripley began to be plagued by increasingly horrific nightmares of her daughter Amanda. Despite being badly wounded fighting several Xenomorphs spawned from dog-like beings that had created the ship, Ripley survived to return to the Marion with the replacement fuel cell and the remaining Marion crew. At Ripley’s insistence, Hoop set a second fuel cell to detonate in the mine with the intent of destroying the rest of the Xenomorphs on the planet.
Back on the Marion, Ripley was further injured in an attack by the remaining Xenomorph, although the creature was finally destroyed when Sneddon blew herself up to kill it. By now Ripley was unable to deal with the recurring nightmares of her daughter, and when Hoop placed her in a MedPod to heal her physical wounds, she begged him to also erase her memory of recent events, wiping from her mind all knowledge of the events aboard the Marion and on LV-178. After carrying her comatose body back to the Narcissus, Hoop purged Ash from the shuttle’s computer and launched Ripley back into space to continue her journey home.
Return to Earth
Ripley drifted for another 20 years, until, on May 16, 2179, the Narcissus was found by Jernigan and his deep space salvage team. When Ripley awoke, she found herself in a medical facility aboard Gateway Station. Hoop’s memory wipe was successful in that she had no recollection of events aboard the Marion, and with no official record of her ever having been roused from stasis in the interim, Ripley’s 57 years adrift meant she was considered the record holder for the longest ever hypersleep.
However, despite a lack of memories of the Marion, Ripley was still plagued by the events aboard the Nostromo and the crew she lost on the vessel. She was also informed by Weyland-Yutani representative Carter Burke that her daughter had died while she was drifting in space. Still crushed by this news, Ripley’s story of the Nostromo’s destruction was met with scepticism by the board of inquiry assembled to investigate the incident. She was diagnosed with PTSD and comorbid generalized anxiety disorder, and she was stripped of her rank and flight status. Following the whitewash, she pressed Van Leuwen on the matter, asking why her claims were not at least going to be investigated, and was informed that a terraforming colony, Hadley’s Hope, had been established on LV-426 for twenty years, and in that time no dangerous alien lifeforms had been discovered.
Hadley’s Hope Xenomorph encounter
- “I am not going back, and I am- I would not be any good to you if I did.“
- ―Ripley, to Burke and Gorman (from Aliens)
Her professional career now ruined, Ripley relocated to Earth and secured employment as a dockyard Power Loader operator. Sometime later, she was approached by Burke and Lieutenant Gorman of the United States Colonial Marine Corps, who delivered the news that contact with the Hadley’s Hope colony had been lost. While Ripley initially refused to take part in the proposed investigation, her recurring nightmares eventually convinced her to join the mission and confront her fears. Ripley was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant 1st Class, and she accompanied Burke and Gorman’s Marines back to LV-426 aboard the USS Sulaco on the promise that they would not capture but destroy whatever extraterrestrials they encountered. When she briefed the Marines on the creature that had killed the crew of the Nostromo, they met her story with the same level of cynicism as the investigative committee on Gateway, and Ripley’s experiences with Ash made her instantly mistrustful of the Sulaco’s Executive Officer Bishop, whom she discovered was an android.
Investigating Hadley’s Hope
- “The structure seems intact. They still have power.“
- ―Ripley to Gorman, observing Hadley’s Hope (from Aliens)
During the drop to the colony aboard Bug Stomper, Ripley’s anxiety was aggravated by Private Hudson, who taunted her with his bravado and supreme confidence in the Marines’ high-tech firepower and ability to overcome any enemy. When the APC touched down, Ripley remained on board with Gorman and Burke while the troops went in to sweep Hadley’s Hope. Their search revealed an abandoned colony and evidence of Xenomorph activity. Despite Ripley’s reservations, Gorman declared the complex secured and Ripley reluctantly headed inside. Ripley and the Marines soon discovered two live Facehuggers being stored in the colony’s medical facility, evidently recovered from colonists for the purposes of research as the Xenomorph infestation took hold. The team also encountered Rebecca Jorden, better known as Newt, a twelve-year-old girl who had spent the last few weeks hiding in the colony’s extensive ventilation network, apparently the final surviving inhabitant of Hadley’s Hope. Ripley immediately began attempting to bond with Newt, and after some persistence the previously withdrawn young girl opened up to Ripley about the colony’s fate.
Following the discovery of the colonists’ PDTs inside the nearby Atmosphere Processing Plant, Ripley and Newt accompanied the Marines as they investigated, remaining in the APC as the men went in on foot. The Marines discovered the colonists cocooned inside a Hive on one of the station’s lower levels, all but one of whom, Mary, were dead; Ripley watched in horror as a Chestburster tore its way out of Mary’s body, and the Marines were then set upon by the Xenomorphs. When the inexperienced Gorman lost the ability to handle the situation, Ripley took action herself, commandeering the APC and driving it into the Hive to rescue the survivors. She succeeded, but many of the Marines were lost, including their experienced field commander Sergeant Apone. Gorman himself was incapacitated, and when the APC finally came to a rest outside it was wrecked.
- “I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.“
- ―Ripley, condemning Hadley’s Hope (from Aliens)
Following the disastrous ambush, Private Vasquez immediately suggested retrieving Apone and Corporal Dietrich, both of whom had been captured alive, until Ripley pointed out they were likely already being cocooned and impregnated, just like the colonists. Instead, Ripley suggested the survivors retreat to the Sulaco and destroy the entire colony from orbit with a nuclear strike. Burke attempted to overrule her, countering by mentioning the monetary value of the colony itself and the scientific significance of the Xenomorphs, but Ripley reminded him that, with Gorman unconscious and Apone captured, Corporal Hicks was now in charge of the operation. Hicks, seeing sense in Ripley’s plan, ordered Corporal Ferro to pick up the survivors in Bug Stomper for immediate evacuation.
However, a Xenomorph aboard the dropship killed Ferro and caused the vessel to crash, destroying the APC and most of the Marines’ supplies in the process. Now stranded, the survivors reluctantly returned to the colony, where Ripley and Hicks devised the best way to barricade and fortify their position. After setting up robot sentries in the tunnels and corridors of the colony and sealing any entrances they could find, the survivors hunkered down to await a rescue. To help reassure her, Hicks gave Ripley a tracer bracelet allowing him to find her wherever she went, which he insisted was “just a precaution”.
- “A bad call? These people are dead, Burke!“
- ―Ripley to Burke, after learning of his role in the colony’s destruction (from Aliens)
After putting Newt to bed in the colony’s medical facility, Ripley learned from Bishop that Burke intended to return the live Facehugger specimens they had found to Earth. Her suspicions aroused, Ripley checked the colony’s logs and discovered a telling piece of information — shortly before contact with the colony was lost, they received an order to investigate the coordinates of the derelict vessel where Kane had found the Xenomorph 57 years previously, information presumably gleaned from Ripley’s report to the board on Gateway Station. The log revealed that the order had come from none other than Burke. Enraged, Ripley confronted Burke with this information, rejecting his suggestions that helping the company could benefit them financially and vowing to see him brought to justice when they returned to Earth.
After the Xenomorphs assaulted and overran the first sentry gun position, Bishop informed the survivors that the colony’s Atmosphere Processor was on course for an irreversible meltdown, having been damaged during the earlier ambush in the Hive. Ripley and the others agreed that retrieving the second dropship aboard the Sulaco was their only chance for survival, but with the Marines’ transmitter destroyed someone would need to venture out to the colony’s array and remotely pilot the dropship from there. Bishop volunteered, and Ripley and Vasquez saw him off. Soon after his departure, the Xenomorphs attacked the second and final sentry gun position, and while they were repelled, the guns used up virtually all of their ammunition in the process and would not hold off another assault. Ripley assured the others that the Xenomorphs would waste time searching for an alternate route into the complex, but, realizing how grave the situation was, pointedly asked Hicks to “take care of it” if it looked as though they would be captured by the creatures. He solemnly confirmed that he would, before instructing Ripley in how to operate an M41A Pulse Rifle so that she might defend herself and render such a course of action unnecessary. Now armed, Ripley joined Newt in the med lab for some much needed rest.
When Ripley awoke, she discovered to her horror that the two live Facehugger specimens from the colony’s lab had been set loose in the room. With her weapon gone and the door locked, Ripley set off the fire alarm in the room to attract the attention of the Marines, but was attacked by one of the Facehuggers before they arrived. Although she managed to stop the creature from latching onto her face, it began strangling her with its tail, and she was on the verge of being rendered unconscious when Hicks and the others arrived and saved her, killing both of the creatures. Ripley informed them immediately that Burke had been responsible.
Fight and flight
- “Medical! Get to medical!“
- ―Ripley, urging the other survivors to retreat (from Aliens)
The Marines confronted Burke over his actions, Ripley hypothesising that he had intended to smuggle Xenomorph embryos back to Earth by having her and Newt impregnated. She also theorised that he would likely have sabotaged the Marines’ cryotubes on the return journey to prevent them informing anyone of the Chestbursters inside the two females — after jettisoning their bodies into space he would be free to make up any story he liked regarding their demise. Hicks, having had enough, prepared to execute Burke for his treachery, but Ripley stopped him, explaining that Burke needs to be brought back to Earth to face justice for his actions. Suddenly, the power to the colony failed, shutting off the lights.
The Xenomorphs had cut the power, and they attacked en masse from above, having slipped into the complex undetected above the false ceilings. In the ensuing chaos, Hudson was captured by the Aliens while Burke left, sealing the survivors in Operations behind him, trapping them with the swarming Xenomorphs. Newt led Ripley and the other survivors to safety through the colony’s ventilation ducts, although Vasquez and the revived Gorman were cornered by the pursuing Xenomorphs and chose to commit suicide with a Pulse Rifle grenade rather than be captured alive. The explosion also knocked Newt into a vertical access shaft, separating her from Ripley and Hicks.
Fortunately, Ripley had passed on the tracer bracelet given to her by Hicks, and the two quickly located Newt in the colony’s sub-levels. However, she was trapped in the colony’s sewers, beneath the flooring, and by the time Hicks could cut through a Drone had captured her. Ripley refused to abandon the little girl, but, realizing the jeopardy they were in, Hicks dragged her away. As they attempted to escape in an elevator, another Xenomorph attacked and Hicks was wounded by its acid blood. Ripley carried him back to the recently arrived dropship, telling Bishop that they were not yet ready to leave.
- “I don’t wanna hear about it, Bishop. She’s alive. There’s still time.“
- ―Ripley to Bishop, refusing to abandon Newt (from Aliens)
Ripley ordered Bishop to fly her to the Atmosphere Processor where she knew Newt would be taken. While in transit, she constructed a combination Pulse Rifle/flamethrower weapon and armed herself with as many grenades as she could carry. Despite Bishop’s pleas that the Processor’s reactor was due to go critical in less than twenty minutes, Ripley would not leave Newt behind, asking Hicks to ensure Bishop did not leave until she returned with the girl. She and Hicks shared their first names for the first time, before Ripley descended into the Hive to save Newt.
Ripley found her about to be impregnated by a Facehugger. She killed the creature and pulled Newt from the cocoon in which she had been entombed, but as the two fled they found themselves standing before the Queen in her Egg chamber. Ripley attempted to secure safe passage by “negotiating” with the Queen, threatening her Eggs, a process that appeared to work when the Queen instructed her Drones to back off. However, when one of the Eggs began to hatch, Ripley incinerated the entire chamber, opening fire on anything that moved and firing several grenades into the Queen’s ovipositor, destroying it. With the whole room ablaze, Ripley fled with Newt to the elevators. As they waited for them to arrive, Ripley discovered the Queen was still alive and, freed from her ruined ovipositor, was now in pursuit. The elevator arrived as the Queen approached and Ripley and Newt just barely escaped, ascending to the landing pad.
Upon reaching the platform, Ripley discovered that the dropship was gone. Meanwhile, all around them the Atmosphere Processor was disintegrating, rocked by explosions as its systems overloaded. The situation deteriorated further when a second elevator arrived, and from it emerged the Queen. Out of ammunition, Ripley discarded her weapons and prepared to face her fate. Luckily, Bishop returned in the dropship at that very moment, extracting them both and flying to safety mere moments before the Processor’s reactor detonated in a thermonuclear explosion, killing all of the remaining Xenomorphs at Hadley’s Hope.
Power loader vs. the Queen
- “Get away from her you BITCH!“
- ―Ripley, to the First Acheron Queen (from Aliens)
Back aboard the Sulaco, Bishop apologised for temporarily abandoning Ripley, stating the landing pad had become too unstable for the dropship to remain there. Ripley commended him for his bravery, making it clear she had overcome her initial mistrust of him. At that moment, Bishop was suddenly impaled by the Queen’s tail, the creature having stowed away in the dropship’s undercarriage just before it departed the Atmosphere Processor. After ripping Bishop in two, the Queen chased after Ripley, who distracted the Queen long enough for Newt to escape under the hangar’s floor grates. Ripley made it into a nearby storage bay, sealing the door, and so the Queen returned her attention to Newt. She was moments from killing the girl when Ripley reappeared, now strapped into a Power Loader and prepared for a fight to the death. The pair clashed, Ripley eventually gaining the upper hand and throwing the Queen into an airlock in the hangar’s floor; at the last moment, the Queen grabbed onto the Power Loader’s frame and dragged the machine in after her.
Ripley quickly scrambled out of the airlock, the Queen trapped beneath the Power Loader. However, before she could reach the Sulaco’s deck the Queen grabbed her ankle, attempting to drag her back down and kill her. A desperate Ripley opened the airlock, despite still being inside, and clung to the ladder as the decompression began to vent the Sulaco’s atmosphere into space, the Queen still clinging to her leg. She shouted for the others to ‘hold on’ as the ship depressurised. Finally her sneaker came loose, and with it the Queen’s grip, hurling the Xenomorph to her death somewhere in space. Ripley escaped the airlock and sealed the doors, collapsing exhausted on the floor of the Sulaco’s hangar. After recovering and treating Hicks’ wounds, Ripley, Newt, Hicks and the damaged Bishop entered hypersleep for the return journey to Earth.
Fiorina 161 Xenomorph encounter
Crash-landing on Fiorina 161
- “Where are the others?”
“They didn’t make it.”
“They didn’t survive.“
- ―Ripley and Clemens, discussing the fate of the other Hadley’s Hope survivors (from Alien3)
Shortly after the Sulaco, a Facehugger had infiltrated the EEV and attached to Ripley in her cryotube, causing hers to eject from the ship, alongside Newt, the remains of Bishop and Hicks. The EEV, damaged in the launch, crashed on nearby Fiorina “Fury” 161. Newt and Hicks were killed on impact while Bishop was heavily damaged, but Ripley alone survived and was recovered by the inhabitants of the Fiorina 161 Class C Work Correctional Unit.
Upon coming to, Ripley was informed by the prison’s medical officer, Clemens, that Newt and Hicks — for whom Turk had been mistaken — had perished in the crash. Devastated by this news, Ripley was immediately suspicious that a Xenomorph may have been involved in her ejection from the Sulaco and arrival on the planet, and she had Clemens show her the wreckage of the EEV. Discovering what looked like an acid burn mark on Newt’s cryotube, she insisted an autopsy be performed on the girl’s body, believing her to be impregnated with a Chestburster but claiming to Clemens she was potentially carrying a highly infectious strain of cholera. Though he was highly skeptical, Clemens carried out the procedure and found nothing unusual in Newt’s body. Even so, Ripley insisted the bodies be cremated.
Ripley’s actions incurred the ire of Superintendent Andrews, yet the warden allowed the use of the furnace at the lead works alongside the prison for the purpose of burning the corpses. Following the service, Ripley was forced to shave her head due to the colony’s chronic lice problem, and subsequently began brazenly mixing with the double-Y chromosome inmate population, further damaging her relationship with Andrews. Ripley thanked Dillon for a moving eulogy he had given at the funeral, despite his own insistence that he was a “murderer and rapist of women”.
Battle against the Dragon
- “It’s here! It got Clemens!“
- ―Ripley, to Andrews (from Alien3)
As she was awaiting a rescue ship, Ripley became close to Clemens, and the two eventually ended up sleeping together. However, the death of prisoner Murphy once again ignited Ripley’s fears that a Xenomorph may have come with her to the prison, despite the incident officially being ruled an accident. She recovered the Sulaco’s flight recorder from the EEV wreckage but learned from Clemens that she would require Bishop to read the data; in the process of recovering the android’s remains from the prison’s scrap heap, inmates Junior, Gregor, William and Martin attempted to rape her. Despite her resistance, Ripley was overpowered, but saved at the last minute by Dillon, who viciously beat the offenders.
Plugging Bishop into the flight data unit in the prison’s infirmary, Ripley learned that there was indeed a Xenomorph on Fiorina 161, and that Weyland-Yutani had since been informed of this fact. Having done his part to assist her, Bishop asked Ripley to deactivate him, and she solemnly complied. At that moment, inmate Golic, restrained in a straitjacket, was brought in by Andrews, Aaron, Clemens and Dillon, having been accused of murdering Boggs and Rains, the latter two having gone missing. His claims that a “Dragon” had been responsible were dismissed by Andrews, but Ripley saw the truth in his words. Despite meeting with Andrews and trying to convince him of the truth, she was rebuffed and the Superintendent confined her to the infirmary.
Ripley, now somewhat resigned to the situation, did as ordered, until the Dragon attacked and killed Clemens right in front of her. The creature initially prepared to kill her, but suddenly left her miraculously unharmed. Ripley ran to Andrews to attempt to warn him again of the danger, and at that moment the disbelieving Superintendent was dragged into the vents by the creature in full view of the remaining prisoners, finally revealing the Xenomorph to the prison’s inhabitants. Learning that Ripley had previously dealt with the creatures, the inmates immediately turned to her for leadership. Ripley and Aaron soon came up with a plan to flush the Dragon from the air vents by burning it out with quinitricetyline, so that it may be trapped in an unused nuclear waste containment tank. The prisoners got to work preparing, but when the Dragon attacked the fire was accidentally triggered prematurely and numerous inmates were killed, while the creature itself escaped.
Mother of the beast
- “I think you’ve got one inside of you…“
- ―Aaron to Ripley, after discovering the Chestburster within her (from Alien3)
As the physical ailments that had plagued Ripley since crashing on Fiorina 161 continued to worsen, she had Aaron run a medical scan on her in the EEV, concerned that she may have been suffering from internal bleeding or a skull fracture. However, the truth turned out to be even worse — she was carrying a Xenomorph embryo inside her, that of a Queen. Knowing that her death was now only a matter of time, Ripley attempted to have the Dragon euthanise her, hoping this would mean a faster, less painful end, and went alone to find it in the lower levels of the prison. When the creature would not, instinctively knowing of the embryo maturing within her, Ripley instead begged Dillon to end her life, unable to commit suicide herself. Dillon angrily refused, knowing that Ripley was the best chance the surviving inmates had of killing the Xenomorph. At her continued insistence, he agreed to fulfill her wish, but only after the Dragon had been destroyed.
With little option, Ripley and Dillon convinced the survivors to use themselves as live bait in an attempt to lure the Dragon into the mold at the lead works, where it could be buried in molten lead. After being encouraged by Ripley and Dillon, only Aaron refused to take part, and the remaining prisoners put the plan into action. Most of the inmates were killed, forcing Ripley and Dillon to face the Dragon in the mold. Dillon sacrificed himself to hold the creature back as Ripley escaped, but Morse poured the lead and buried the Xenomorph in the mold. Amazingly, the Dragon survived, leaping from the lead and pursuing Ripley, who finally ended the Alien by dowsing it with water from the sprinklers, shattering its mesoskeleton with thermal shock.
- “What assurances do I have that once you take it out, you’ll kill it?“
- ―Ripley, to Michael Bishop (from Alien3)
Minutes after the Dragon’s destruction, Michael Bishop’s team of scientists and commandos arrived at the prison, too late to capture the monster. They knew of the embryo inside Ripley, the results of her medical scan having been automatically transmitted to them, and Bishop informed Ripley that on his ship, the Patna, they could remove the Chestburster safely and kill it. Although tempted by the chance to live a life that the Xenomorphs had all but robbed from her, Ripley saw through Bishop’s lies, knowing that the company only wanted the Xenomorph to research and exploit. With Morse’s help, she positioned herself over the prison’s furnace and, ignoring Bishop’s continued pleading to let him have the Xenomorph, threw herself to her death. As she fell, the Queen inside her emerged, and with her last ounce of life Ripley clutched the infant creature to herself, ensuring it entered the furnace with her. Hicks, who, unbeknownst to Ripley, had escaped the Sulaco with Stone, arrived just in time to witness her death — but was powerless to prevent it. Lieutenant Ellen Ripley, the last survivor of the Nostromo’s destruction, had died.
200 years later, General Martin Peréz would state that “for all intents and purposes”, Ripley succeeded in wiping out the Xenomorph species with her sacrifice.
Following the events on Fiorina 161, samples of Ripley’s blood were recovered from the facility. From these, the United Systems Military were able, two hundred years and seven failed attempts later, to create a clone of Ripley, dubbed Ripley 8, along with the Queen embryo gestating within her. Imperfections in the cloning process meant that Ripley 8 was not entirely human and contained elements of Xenomorph DNA, providing her with superhuman abilities as well as granting her access to Ellen Ripley’s memories.
Personality and Traits
- “That’s the grenade launcher… I don’t think you wanna mess with that.”
“You started this. Show me everything. I can handle myself.”
“Yeah, I noticed…“
- ―Hicks and Ripley (from Aliens)
Given the horrifying events Ellen Ripley was exposed to during the latter part of her life, her personality understandably changed over time, but she nonetheless remained a strong-willed, level-headed, honorable and determined individual. Early in her life she had a strict sense of duty and professionalism, and operated very much by-the-book and in accordance with the rules, a trait that sometimes brought her into conflict with the more laid-back Parker and Brett aboard the Nostromo. Despite this, she still showed an easygoing and relaxed demeanor in front of her peers, an attitude that would soon be all but extinguished in her later life. When command of the Nostromo survivors fell to Ripley, she maintained her calm despite the terror they faced, although the revelation of Ash’s betrayal somewhat dented this collected exterior and revealed a more impulsive, frantic person underneath. Ash’s actions would also leave her with a deep-seated hatred and mistrust of synthetics.
The events on board the Nostromo significantly traumatized Ripley and, coupled with the rejection of her story upon her eventual return to Earth, affected her greatly, in many respects permanently altering her personality. She became far colder and more apathetic towards her life, resigned to the fact she had been ruined both professionally and personally by what had happened. At the same time, she was plagued by vivid nightmares involving the Xenomorph, nightmares that ultimately spurred her decision to return to LV-426 and confront the creatures again. When the mission went disastrously wrong, Ripley’s prior experience with the Alien helped her to maintain a level of cool that even some of the hardened Colonial Marines fighting for survival alongside her could not match, most notably the panicky Private Hudson. Her level of calm and ability to make competent decisions, even under such extreme stress, endeared her greatly to the Marines around her, particularly Corporal Hicks, who openly included Ripley in tactical discussions, trusting her judgment despite the fact she was only a civilian.
Ripley was also capable of extreme bravery, perhaps never more apparent than when she entered the Hive on LV-426, alone, to rescue the captured Newt. Ripley’s relationship with Newt was significant, in that it represented a reawakening of the maternal role that Ripley lost when she was informed that Amanda had died in the time she had spent drifting in space following the Nostromo’s destruction. Ripley and Newt formed a close parent-child bond that not only encouraged Ripley to fight on, but also devastated her when Newt was killed on Fiorina 161. Events on LV-426 also helped Ripley to overcome her prejudice towards synthetics, even coming to view Bishop as something approaching a friend.
After crashing on Fiorina 161, Ripley was emotionally damaged yet again by the sudden death of Newt and Hicks’ apparent demise. The anguish this brought on was later compounded by the death of Clemens (mere hours after the two had slept together) and the subsequent revelation that she herself had been impregnated with a Chestburster, a Queen no less, and that her death was imminent. Ripley became suicidal, but her core inner strength meant she was unable to kill herself — to this end, she sought to have first the Dragon and then Dillon end her life, but without success. Despite her depression, Ripley remained staunch in her determination to defeat the Xenomorph. In a final cruel twist, she was approached on Fiorina 161 by Michael Bishop and offered a chance at a continued existence, but at the cost of Weyland-Yutani potentially unleashing the Xenomorph upon humanity through their own short-sightedness. Ripley came perilously close to accepting the company’s terms, but ultimately overcame her fear of death and honorably chose to end her own life, simultaneously denying Bishop the specimen and destroying the Xenomorph menace, saving mankind.
Although Ripley, of her own accord, was not a soldier, she would arm herself with whatever came to hand if it would help her survive. Aboard the Nostromo, she armed herself with one of Parker’s custom-built Flame Throwers, although when cornered by the Alien aboard the Narcissus she resorted to a more rudimentary ASSO-400 Harpoon Grappling Gun to finally kill the creature. After spending some time with the Colonial Marines on LV-426 and being faced with the precariousness of their situation, Ripley had Hicks instruct her on the use of various USCM equipment, including the M41A Pulse Rifle and M240 Incinerator Unit, both of which she would later combine together (in a strictly non-regulation manner) when attempting to rescue Newt.
As a result of her short-lived career working in a dockyard on Earth, Ripley became adept with the Caterpillar P-5000 Powered Work Loader, a skill she later used in her battle with the First Acheron Queen aboard the Sulaco.
Behind the Scenes
Comic book appearances
Following Aliens, the character of Ellen Ripley went on to appear in a series of Aliens comic book published by Dark Horse Comics from 1989-1990 that reunited her with Hicks and Newt. In these comics, Ripley, Hicks and Newt travel to the Xenomorph home world in order to combat an infestation that has taken over the entire Earth, hoping to save the planet and the human race from the monstrous Xenomorph Queen Mother.
However, following the release of Alien3 in 1992, in which Ripley, Hicks and Newt perished, the presence of these characters in the comics clashed with their fates as shown in the movie franchise. As a result, the comic book characters were altered, with Ripley becoming a synthetic duplicate of the real Ripley. This change first appeared in the novel Aliens: The Female War, an adaptation of the comic series Aliens: Female War, published a year after Alien3. Similarly, Hicks became David Wilks, while Newt became Billie.
Subsequent reprints of the comics were also edited to use these altered identities. However, somewhat confusingly, the comics made no attempt to alter Ripley’s nature and she remained the same human character she had been in the original releases (likely because changing her to a synthetic would require a significant expansion/modification of the comic way beyond simply altering names). As such, even the edited versions of the comic book offer no explanation as to how Ellen Ripley could still be alive post-Alien3; only the novel includes the extra material regarding the discovery that she is an android duplicate, and her subsequent struggles with this revelation.
More recently, Dark Horse has begun reissuing the original, unedited versions of the early Aliens comics, thereby reinstating the character of Ripley in these stories and restoring the comic series as alternative sequels to Aliens.
The character of Ripley, and Sigourney Weaver’s portrayal of her, have become a landmark in cinema. Ripley is often considered one of the greatest female protagonists of all time, and one of the most iconic characters ever to appear in film. The part has also been heralded as challenging gender roles in motion pictures, particularly in the science fiction, action and horror genres.
Ripley has appeared in numerous best character lists over the years; in 2003, the American Film Institute ranked her as the eighth best hero in American film history in their list of the 100 greatest heroes and villains, while the following year Entertainment Weekly ranked Ripley 5th on their list of The 20 All Time Coolest Heroes in Pop Culture, calling her “one of the first female movie characters who isn’t defined by the men around her, or by her relationship to them”. The same year she was ranked 9th on Empire magazine’s compilation of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters, being the highest ranked female to appear on the list.
Likewise, Weaver has received critical praise for her portrayal of the character, and the role remains by far her most famous to date. For her performance in Alien, Weaver was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Leading Newcomer and a Saturn Award for Best Actress. Although her performance in the film was acclaimed, it was Aliens that brought Weaver worldwide recognition, becoming the second horror actress in history (after Ellen Burstyn for The Exorcist) to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. She also received a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama, and won the Saturn Award for Best Actress, the first major award in her career. Although Alien3 and Alien Resurrection were less successful critically than the first two films in the franchise, Weaver’s performance as Ripley was again praised. She received her third and fourth Saturn Award for Best Actress nominations, and a nomination for a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress – Sci-Fi for Alien Resurrection.
There seems to be some confusion over the rank that Ripley holds throughout the series. In Alien, her rank is never specified, although she is clearly subordinate to both Captain Dallas and First Officer Kane. At the start of the extended Special Edition of Aliens, her rank is stated to be that of Warrant Officer (although she is subsequently stripped of this rank following the inquiry into the destruction of the Nostromo). However, by Alien3 she is said to be Lieutenant Ellen Ripley. If this were the case, she should have had superiority over Corporal Hicks during the events of Aliens, when clearly she did not. What’s more, Alien Resurrection states Ripley was a Lieutenant 1st Class at the time of her death.
While the issue is never addressed in the films, it seems likely that Ripley was given the rank of Lieutenant 1st Class upon her reinstatement in Aliens, once she had agreed to return to LV-426, and that the rank of Lieutenant ascribed to her in Alien3 was merely an abbreviation of her full title. Furthermore, as her rank was an ICC commercial rank, Hicks — who held a military rank — was still superior despite only being a Corporal; essentially Ripley’s situation could be compared to the “Captain” of a commercial cruise liner being stranded with enlisted Navy SEALs. The fact that Hicks accepts Ripley’s suggestion to “nuke the site from orbit” merely shows that he respects her opinion as the best course of action.
Ripley’s “Body Level Organ Torso”
Ripley’s “Body Level Organ Torso” was used in the scene in Alien3 where she undergoes a CAT-scan, discovering that she has been impregnated by a Facehugger. For this sequence, this torso was filmed as an insert for the monitor displaying Ripley’s scan. Crafted from foam latex, this torso represents Ripley’s inner organs, including her heart, lungs, and intestines, all of which have been highly painted with red and orange colors, while the reverse side that has not been painted or textured.
This organ torso measures approximately 16″ x 9″ x 28″ (41cm x 23cm x 72cm) and today features wear from production use and age, particularly to the material which has hardened in several places, causing the foam to crack and flake. There is also a large hole in the foam that is located on the backside, exposing the organs. This torso has also been redressed with stage blood for use in another production after the completion of Alien3. Aside from the noted flaking, today this piece remains in overall fair condition despite its age.
This prop was briefly available at the Prop Store’s website in 2013, but it was purchased sometime between 3.50 PM the 15th and 7:15 PM the 16th of October the same year. The page for the prop was subsequently deleted.
- Ripley actress Sigourney Weaver became worried she would lose the role when early in filming it was believed she was allergic to Jones the cat. However, it eventually transpired that it was a combination of cat hair and the glycerin used to make the actress appear sweaty during scenes that she was allergic to; one without the other had no effect on her.
- In early drafts of the film’s script, Ripley was known as Martin Roby and was the ship’s executive officer (a role given to Kane in the finished film). While the majority of the characters in the original Alien script were written so that they could be either male or female, Roby was always intended to be a man. It was 20th Century Fox president Alan Ladd, Jr. who suggested making the hero female, to help the film stand out from its contemporaries. Ripley was so named by Walter Hill after Ripley’s Believe It or Not!. Her first name, Ellen, is Hill’s mother’s maiden name.
- Other actresses considered for Ripley include Meryl Streep, Katharine Ross and Geneviève Bujold.
- Ripley was originally supposed to be naked for the final act in Alien aboard the Narcissus, but 20th Century Fox branded the idea pornographic and so she remained clothed (albeit in her underwear).
- A figure based on Ripley was released by Kenner Products as part of the company’s Aliens toy line. The Lt. Ripley toy was shipped with the Aliens: Space Marines mini-comic Aliens: Fireball.
- Ripley is briefly mentioned by Karl Bishop Weyland in an audio log in the 2010 video game Aliens vs. Predator.
- In the Aliens arcade game by Konami, Ripley is mistakenly portrayed with blonde hair.
- Ripley’s combination M41A Pulse Rifle/M240 Incinerator Unit from Aliens appears in the video game Aliens: Colonial Marines as a “Legendary Weapon”, but only to those who pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition or purchase the weapon as additional DLC.
- Ripley is one letter off from Ridley (the director of Alien). In fact, spinning the “p” in Ripley’s name through 180° will spell Ridley. However, this is merely a coincidence as Ripley was named before Ridley Scott became involved with Alien.
- Dr. Ryan Stone from the 2013 film Gravity has been compared to Ripley.
- Sigourney Weaver has recently expressed interest in ‘finishing’ Ellen Ripley’s story in a fifth Alien film.
- Ellen Ripley features in a deleted scene from The Predator, in which she was portrayed by Breanna Watkins. In the scene, an alternate ending for the film, Ripley was to be revealed inside the Predator pod in the final scene. Her face would have been covered by a Weyland-Yutani breather mask, although the nametag on her uniform would have revealed her identity.
- Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual (mentioned only)
- Alien Resurrection/comic (mentioned only)
- Alien: Resurrection (novel) (appears in flashback)
- Aliens: Colonial Marines (mentioned only)
- Stasis Interrupted
- Alien: Out of the Shadows/audio drama
- Alien: Sea of Sorrows (mentioned only)
- Aliens: Field Report
- Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report
- Alien: Isolation/series (voice only)
- Alien: River of Pain/audio drama
- Aliens: Defiance (mentioned only)
- Dark Mother
- Deep Black (mentioned only)
- Alien: Isolation (novel)
- Aliens: Outbreak (appears in flashback)
- Aliens: Nightmare Asylum
- Aliens: Female War
- Aliens (video game)
- Aliens Adventure Game (mentioned only)
- Aliens: Earth Hive (indirect mention)
- Aliens: Nightmare Asylum (novel) (mentioned only)
- Aliens: The Female War (novel) (mentioned only)
- Aliens: Tribes (indirect mention)
- Aliens: Newt’s Tale
- Aliens: Music of the Spears (novel) (mentioned only)
- Alien Trilogy
- Aliens: Original Sin (mentioned only)
- Aliens vs. Predator (video game) (mentioned only)
- Crew Expendable
- Last Survivor
- Aliens vs. Pinball
- Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay
- Fortnite (playable skin)