For other uses, see Space Jockey (disambiguation).
The Space Jockey

The Space Jockey from The Derelict, as seen in Alien.

Space Jockey (or simply "The Pilot") is the nickname given to a type of extraterrestrial life form from the Alien series of movies and games. Aliens director James Cameron also called the creature the "Big Dental Patient".[1] These large biomechanical creatures may be the first victims of the Xenomorphs (also seen in the Alien series) and perhaps also their creators. Their discovery was made in the first Alien movie, when the commercial starship Nostromo set down on the unsurveyed moon LV-426 in response to a signal interpreted as a distress call. The crew found a wrecked derelict spacecraft with a dead lifeform inside, apparently its pilot. Individual Space Jockeys have been observed to vary in appearance as well as abilities.


The Alien production team, without having a proper technical term to go by, nicknamed the creature found aboard the Derelict ship "The Space Jockey". H.R. Giger, who was designer of The Derelict and of the Space Jockey, as well as the Xenomorph, originally had named it "The Pilot". The greatest amount of said information can be found in the game Aliens versus Predator 2, in which the species is collectively referred to as Pilot (in contrast to Human, Alien, or Predator).

In Steve Perry's book Earth Hive the Space Jockey's race are referred to as collectors as they collect Xenomorph eggs. One is seen later on in the book and is referred to by several different names (spacer, elephant man, elephant-like creature, alien creature…)

Most recently, in the novel Aliens: Original Sin by Michael Friedman, the Pilot race is referred to as the Mala'kak. It is also still referred sometimes to though as the Pilot, or the Pilot's people. In the novel Aliens: Steel Egg, they are referred to by themselves as the Giff (the "G" pronounced as in "gorilla," not "ginger"). The exobiologist Eli Reynolds, skeptical that the "Giff" sound was the name of the species when, for all they knew, it could have been the equivalent of a cough, also renamed them "Eloids," after himself.

Appearances in film and media[]

The only movie that the Space Jockey pilot itself has featured in was the original 1979 Alien. Swiss surrealist artist H. R. Giger was hired on the movie Alien to design the title's creature and the environment of the alien planet. The Space Jockey was one of many things he created for the film. The scene inside the Derelict's interior with the Jockey pilot was, according to the writers, an essential scene, although the Fox production company wanted to pull it from the movie for cost reasons. Eventually the filmmakers won and the scene was filmed, the Space Jockey and interior being built full-scale by Giger. The Space Jockey prop was 26 feet (7.9 m) tall. A smaller version of the prop was also built, but was destroyed by arsonists while on display at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.

The Space Jockey's race have not appeared or been referred to in any of the subsequent films, but have been featured prominently in many of the videogames and comics series. They have made appearances in various Aliens comics by Dark Horse Comics, and some readers speculate that they had some connection to the Predators. In the bonus materials of the special edition Alien DVD, director Ridley Scott has expressed the opinion that a film exploring the backstory of the Space Jockey would be an interesting new direction for the series to take.

In Mark Verheiden's graphic novel series Aliens, a Space Jockey-like creature is encountered, and is able to communicate telepathically with humans. It is shown with pink skin, a tail and an elephantine trunk, and yellow, cross-shaped eyes. In the novels the Space Jockey's race are shown to be malevolent, and have used the Xenomorphs as a weapon to kill all life on Earth so they can take the planet for themselves. Later books never expand on the idea.

In the more recent book, Aliens: Original Sin, the Space Jockeys are mentioned and discussed throughout the book. Towards the end the reader learns that they are trying to breed a group of Aliens.

The game Alien Vs. Predator 2 deals with an experimental lab built to study a Xenomorph hive that itself is built on the ruins of an ancient civilization- although the Pilots are not seen throughout the game, the technology is referred to as Pilot technology, and the architecture of the ruins is similar to that of the Derelict spacecraft.

A parodic version of the Jockey appeared in an episode of Captain Simian & the Space Monkeys. Instead of the telescope-like device, this fossilized Jockey was playing a saxophone.

The multiplayer section of the Xbox game Conker: Live and Reloaded featured a brief parody of the Jockey's ship, using it as the housing ground for the fossilized Panther King.

The Bartender character in the webcomic Jack is, according to creator David Hopkins, supposed to be a Jockey, specifically the Jockey whose corpse is seen in Alien. According to the character's backstory, which was only ever addressed on the forums [1], after the pilot died, he found himself in Hell, and eventually opened a bar called "The Scab."

The dominatrix miniature for Games Workshop's Epic 40,000 has a figure seated on its back which looks like a Space Jockey.

A very similar version of the Space Jockey appears as the final boss in the NES Contra game Super C.

At the end of the marine campaign in the game Aliens versus Predator 2 the player fights a Queen Alien in a large room with a Space Jockey in the center.

Biological and historical information[]


It's a Jockey

Fossilized Space Jockey with ribcage bent outward

In the novelization of Alien by Alan Dean Foster Ash describes the Space Jockey's race as a noble people and hopes that mankind will encounter them under more pleasant circumstances. It also states that they were larger, stronger and possibly more intelligent than humans. The first Space Jockey was seen in the original Alien movie as a giant humanoid corpse sitting in front of a telescope-like device aboard the derelict craft. It had been there for an extremely long time, due to the fact the corpse was fossilized. The Jockey that the starship Nostromo's crew found aboard the derelict seemed to be growing out of the chair of the telescope, as if it had fused itself into it. Its rib cage was bent outward; it is evident that a Xenomorph escaped from the creature, though no adult Xenomorphs were encountered on the derelict but this can be explained that there would have been no food sources for them to live for long periods of time and the inhospitable environment of the planet.

In the comics, the Jockey is shown to have an elephantine trunk. This is inconsistent with the original concept. An inspection of the concept art done by H.R. Giger, shows that the "trunk" is supposed to be an air hose and there is a helmet surrounding the Jockey's head. This is also supported by the fact that soft tissue such as elephant trunks do not fossilize. This does not leave out the possibility of a different kind of trunk, but the one depicted in the comics is very much like an elephant's. None of the works depicting the Jockey with a "trunk" are considered canon—the only canon appearance of the Space Jockey is in Alien and its novelization and directly related works.

In an early script visualized but never written, the Pilot ship had crashed or landed on LV-426 some 10 million years prior to discovery by the Nostromo. It was depicted as having been dragged in some unknown manner to the top of a pyramidal structure, which was the top of an enormous subterranean temple containing the Xenomorph eggs. This is evident in the first Alien film, when Kane notices the hole torn in the bottom of the Pilot ship. It should also be noted that despite later rewrites and storylines, Giger and O'Bannon designed the Pilot so that it appeared to be a sympathetic and friendly lifeform.

Relation to the Xenomorphs and other races[]

Little or nothing is known of this race. The principal theory of their connection to the Xenomorphs, which was mentioned briefly by Ridley Scott in his director's commentary for the first Alien DVD, is that the Jockey's ship was a "bomber" and that they used them as biogenic weapons to fight an ancient war. There is some evidence to support this, such as the Xenomorph's biomechanical nature. Alien eggs would be used as "bombs" on an enemy planet and then the Xenomorphs would proceed to kill the entire population as they spawned. Regardless, the Pilot was itself infected with a Xenomorph and killed, though it managed to send out a warning to any passing ships to stay away from the moon. The unexplained purpose of the "blue mist" that covers the eggs in the cargo hold does not offer direct support for this conclusion, but appears to indicate the possibility that the eggs were intentionally put in stasis, as if stored for later, possibly military use. In AvP: Extinction, it is stated that the eggs can survive almost indefinitely while awaiting a host, though this is not necessarily canon. The Predators bred Xenomorphs for hunting according to the movie Alien vs. Predator. Whether the Predators had any contact or relationship to the Space Jockey's race is totally unknown and purely a matter of speculation.

It is also possible, however, that the crashed ship found in Alien could have just been the result of a brief encounter between the Space Jockey and the Xenomorphs, much the same as what happens to the human protagonists of the film. Alan Dean Foster's novelization states that the Jockey was trying to warn humans away from the aliens while Mark Verheiden's graphic novel indicates that they planned on invading Earth after the Xenomorphs wiped out all the humans. It should be noted, in respect to that, that according to the comic book The Destroying Angels that the biomechanoids have been around from long before mankind even came to exist (their civilization having fallen 1.6 million years ago due to the Aliens), and that the warning beacon may have been to warn their own kind.

A lesser-known history of the Space Jockey's race comes from an older source than the DVDs. According to "The Alien Portfolio" by John Mollo and Ron Cobb, Cobb tells of Alien creator Dan O'Bannon's backstory where the Jockey's race had simply landed on the planet on a course of exploration and had encountered the eggs there. Since the planet was dying, and they didn't realize how dangerous the eggs were, they loaded their cargo hold with the eggs and prepared to lift off. Before they were to take off, one of the crew that was parasitized "gave birth" to an alien. The crew eventually killed the alien, but at the cost of hulling their ship. As they were dying out, one of them had set up a transmission warning other ships not to land there and to suffer the same fate.

This is mentioned in the novelization of Alien by Alan Dean Foster, during the scene where Ash was telling Ripley, Lambert and Parker about their chances against the alien. Out of all sources, the Portfolio is the only one connected to the film that gives a complete series of events describing the Derelict's encounter with the aliens.


The Derelict

The Derelict

The cargo hold of the Space Jockey's ship was filled with eggs of xenomorphs (the first stage in the Xenomorph life cycle), which were held in stasis beneath a blue mist. It has been theorized by fans that the Space Jockey's race created the Xenomorphs because of the similarities in design between the biomechanical spacecraft and the hostile aliens.

The novelization by Alan Dean Foster, on the other hand, states that Space Jockey's race found them on LV-426, and there has been no conclusive evidence shown in the feature film series supporting that the Space Jockey's race created the Xenomorph. Clearly, however, the Space Jockey's race have advanced technology, leaving open the possibility that they had a hand in the Xenomorph's genesis.

Director Ridley Scott also makes note that he would like to make "an Alien 5 or 6" where the audience would be privy to the home planet of the Xenomorphs, but makes no reference to whether this is the same planet that the Jockey's race hail from.[citation needed]

See also[]


  1. James Cameron, James Cameron's responses to Aliens critics, in Starlog Magazine, Vol. 184, November 1992