10 Important Things About The Xenomorph Designs That You Missed


As one of the most evil and recognizable extraterrestrials in film history, the Xenomorph has terrified audiences for decades. Starting with Alien from 1979 all the way to the sixth canon film, Alien: Covenant, the titular monster has gone through many directors, writers, as well as designs.

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The xenomorph has seen many forms due to its strange life-cycle as a parasite. In addition, with the creative liberties of the filmmakers, there are a lot of details on all the different xenomorphs that casual and even hardcore fans might have missed.

10 They Resemble A Certain Organ

Xenomorph approaching Lambert in Alien 1979

It may not be noticeable at first since the xenomorphs are kept mostly in dark, but the large dome-like skulls of the xenomorphs are designed to look eerily similar to that of male genitalia. This is especially noticeable with side view shots of the creatures.

This design choice is intended since the xenomorph design was created by famous Swedish artist H.R. Giger. Giger was known for his distinct bio-organic art style which heavily implemented sexual organs into alien-like designs. This art style was also the inspiration for the aliens of the Species franchise.

9 Neomorph’s Extending Jaw

Neomorph extending its jaw in Alien: Covenant

In 2017’s underrated prequel, Alien: Covenant, the pale neomorphs were introduced. They were slimmer and faster but imperfect precursors to the xenomorph. One of the most overlooked features that distinguish them is their jaws that dislocate and extend outward, similar to that of a goblin shark.

This was how the neomorphs were able to bite limbs and even heads clean off. Combined with their speed, it made them deadly opponents for the crew of the Covenant and even androids.

8 Six Fingers VS Four Fingers

Xenomorph hands as they were in Alien and Alien Resurrection

Across the Alien movies, xenomorphs actually have six fingers on each hand. It’s difficult to tell, but the xenomorphs keep two sets of two fingers together, a separate pinky finger, and a thumb. Not only does it make the hands look creepy, but it also helps hide the very human hands within.

For the most part, the designs for the xenomorphs in Alien: Resurrection remain consistent with those seen prior. The difference comes in the fingers, as these xenomorphs have four fingers instead of six with two extra-long middle fingers. Whether this is due to the human DNA in their creation or just inconsistency is really up to the viewer.

7 Different Tails

Xenomorph tails in both Alien and Aliens

Speaking of tails, there is a difference between them in Ridley Scott and James Cameron’s Alien films. In the original film by Scott, the xenomorph tail is long and barbed with a slight curse at the end, resembling an insect limb.

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In James Cameron’s Aliens – and several other films – the tails were upgraded. Warrior drones feature tails with long spinal barbs and a massive stinger that allowed them to impale enemies. The queen alien would use this to impale and tear apart Lance Henriksen’s Bishop as well as a Yautja in Alien vs. Predator.

6 The Protomorph’s Many Differences

scary CGI Xenomorph in Alien Covenant drooling

Contrary to popular belief, the xenomorph seen in Alien: Covenant is not the classic xenomorph that fans know and love. It was labeled by the filmmakers as the protomorph, since it was still a work in progress that David had not perfected yet.

The body was noticeably thinner – almost like a skeleton with a thin, shorter tail that was less weaponized than its descendants. The tubes on its back were also thinner and more spread out in comparison to the original or even in James Cameron’s beloved sequel Aliens.

5 No Sexual Organs

Xenomorph queen rendered in Unreal Engine 4

Despite Giger’s fascination with the male and female genitalia, the xenomorphs themselves do not seem to have any distinguishing features to tell genders. That is if the xenomorphs even have genders, to begin with. The only time a female is confirmed is with the queen.

As for all the drones and runners, none of them appear to be male or female as they feature no genitalia. This has had fans debating if a queen is only created from a special facehugger like in Alien 3 or if a drone evolve into a female to save the species.

4 Extra Slimy

Xenomorph bearing its teeth while drooling in Alien 1979

Being the vicious beasts that they are, xenomorphs are constantly drooling and are covered in an everpresent glossy substance. To continue with the whole sexual theme, these practical effects were accomplished with KY jelly and condoms.

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This wouldn’t be the first time this substance would be used. The neon-green blood of Yautja Hunters in the Predator movies was made by mixing KY jelly with green glowsticks’ fluid.

3 The Runner

NECA 7 inch scale figure of the Runner xenomorph from Alien 3

At first glance, the Runner from Alien 3 appears to be no different from the classic xenomorph besides being on all fours to resemble the animal it came from. There are some other differences though: the Runner features a lack of tubes on its back.

The Runner also is much slimmer in design, allowing it to crawl into the many small spaces shown in the film. On its rather long tail is easily the most massive and deadly bladed tip of all xenomorph types. The strange thing is that the tail is what the Runner uses the least in combat.

2 Hardened Carapaces

Xenomorph drones in both Alien and Aliens

Another difference between the original Alien and its sequel is the aforementioned dome-like head. In the first Alien, the xenomorph sports a glossy and smooth cranium that fits into H.R. Giger’s designs. It certainly gives an otherworldly appearance and helps the creature blend into the environment of the Nostromo.

Meanwhile, Aliens changed things with the xenos by featuring an armor-like carapace on their skulls, coming closer to resembling insects with exoskeletons. Some have theorized that this is what the first movie’s creature would have evolved into if it had lived long enough. Others suggest that it was simply just a new design choice to make the xenomorphs look creepy.

1 Human Skull

Original xenomorph with human skull from Alien 1979

This is one that many could go their whole lives and not notice. Originally, the dome of the xenomorph skull was going to be completely translucent, showing off a human-like skull underneath. However, the dome was changed to the more opaque design everyone knows and loves.

There are certain shots in the original Alien in which under the right lighting, the human skull can still be spotted through the opaque dome, but only barely. The original suit with a human skull can be found in rare behind-the-scenes photos and in a museum. It makes one wonder how different the franchise would be if they had kept that original design.

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