The Best Star-Crossed Alien Love Stories in Movie and TV History
Roswell, New Mexico has us thinking about our favorite alien-human romances across TV and film.
This article is presented by Roswell, New Mexico.
Here at Den of Geek, we love a good science fiction romance, which is why Roswell, New Mexico is on our radar. The second TV adaptation of the Roswell High books by Melinda Metz, Roswell, New Mexico is the story of three aliens living in Roswell and the humans they come to love, and it has a literally star-crossed romance at its, forgive me, heart.
At the center of Roswell, New Mexico‘s narrative is the love story of alien Max (Nathan Parsons) and human Liz (Jeanine Mason). In the series’ pilot, biomedical researcher Liz returns home after a decade away. The two have known each other since they were kids, but, when Max reveals his alien identity in order to save Liz’s life, they become closer than ever before.
The classic story of alien meets girl has us reminiscing about some of our favorite human-alien romances. As we eagerly await the premiere of Roswell, New Mexico, let’s take a look at some of our favorite star-crossed lovers in TV and movie history. You can watch the video, or go a little deeper with the article below!
Want to learn even more about our favorite human/alien romances? Keep reading!
Aeryn Sun & John Crichton (Farscape)
Chief obstacle to overcome: So, so much.
Iconic scene: John flips a coin in “Dog With Two Bones.”
The alien-human romance of John Crichton and Sebacean Aeryn Sun begins when John accidentally enters a wormhole during an experimental spaceflight, flinging himself into the depths of space.
Once there, he unwittingly becomes part of a group of escaped prisoners on a bio-mechanical ship called Moya. Aeryn is in reluctant exile from the corrupt military organization known as the Peacekeepers that pursue Moya.
read more: Sci-Fi Shows That Don’t Get Enough Love
While John is impressed with Aeryn from the get-go (and, honestly, who wouldn’t be?), Aeryn initially wants nothing to do with fish-out-of-water Crichton, with his strange Earth references and his annoyingly earnest enthusiasm. However, over the course of four seasons and a miniseries, the two fall in love, have a kid, and generally learn they don’t want to live without the other.
While this show is ostensibly about John Crichton trying to find his way back to Earth, it’s actually about him finding a new home, with Aeryn and the rest of his family on Moya.
Kira & Odo (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)*
Chief obstacle to overcome: Their deep commitments to various causes.
Iconic scene: Odo says goodbye to Kira in “What We Leave Behind.”
*Technically an alien-alien romance
While the Star Trek universe is not well known for its fully-realized canon romances, it has a few pretty great romantic subplots in its franchise. My favorite? The slow-burn love story of Deep Space Nine‘s Kira and Odo, which begins as a professionally-minded friendship between two colleagues and eventually blossoms into something romantic.
It isn’t easy for these two. He’s a Changeling who rejects the Founders’ belief. She’s a former member of the Bajoran Resistance trying to find her place post-Cardassian Occupation. They first meet because Odo suspects Kira of the murder of a Bajoran collaborator he is asked to investigate. (Um, yes, she did it.)
read more – The Best Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Stories
On this strategically-relevant space station situated at the entrance to a wormhole, these two crazy kids bond over their shared interest in justice, and eventually find love. Kira and Odo are the definition of star-crossed, as Odo eventually must leave forever to save the Changelings from a life-ending virus.
Clark Kent & Lois Lane, All Incarnations
Chief obstacle to overcome: Clark’s glasses (a metaphor for his secret)
Iconic scene: Clark takes off his glasses in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
The romance between Clark Kent and Lois Lane is a story that seems to transcend medium and even quality of adaptation. Even in the clunkiest of Superman incarnations, it’s hard not to root for these two–so fun is their banter, so magnetic is their love.
Maybe it’s the way in which they usually get to know one another as nerdy work colleagues before Lois learns of Clark’s other identity? Probably, it’s the way that they are both situated as superheroes: One, of the superhuman variety, the other, of the journalistic ilk. (Yeah, Clark is a reporter, too, but, if we’re honest, Lois is the one with the talent.)
read more – Men of Steel: The Actors Who Have Played Superman
These two are partners in every sense of the word, whether they are fighting for the justice in the form of a well-researched investigative report or stopping Lex Luthor from killing a bunch of people.
Jake Sully & Neytiri (Avatar)
Chief obstacle to overcome: Jake not being honest about his (complicated) past
Iconic scene: When two hair braids become one.
As the interstellar love story that launched a thousand ticket sales (in just its opening weekend), the romance betwen Jake Sully of Earth and Neytiri of the planet Pandora is the stuff of science fiction daydreams. Not so subtly modeled after the myth, if not the full historical account, of John Smith’s brief relationship with Pocahontas, the romance between earth man and alien woman is the real magic at play in Avatar. Which also just so happens to remain the highest grossing film of all-time a full decade later.
There is a subtle metaphor at play here as Jake Sully, a disabled former marine, winds up on a private expedition to Pandora because he has identical DNA to his recently deceased twin brother. His twin was part of a radical paramilitary unit intent on infiltrating the indigenous alien population of a foreign planet–to create a spy who could help destroy the local populations from the inside. But upon using advanced technology to enter a giant blue alien’s body–a body that was fully functional, unlike Jake’s–the man loses himself both to the beauty of Pandora, and to the proud warrior Na’vi, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). Soon Jake is switching sides for real, as he and Neytiri try to make this new body, and romance, something to last beyond mere end credits.
As with James Cameron‘s other billion-dollar effort, Titanic, there is something intoxicating with the unapologetic sweep of this romance. Here is an epic adventure film that is at its core a love story, and one that doesn’t try to hide that feature. It is the foundation upon which an epic three-hour film is built. Jake shows flaws as a man keeping a big secret, but his ability to learn to be truthful and accept Neytiri’s very different culture, and her being able to, in turn, see Jake for who he is, will always be why this movie really transported millions of moviegoers into a digital paradise, 3D dragon-birds be damned.
The Doctor & River Song (Doctor Who)
Chief obstacle to overcome: Moving in opposite directions through time
Iconic scene: River understands the Doctor loves her back in “The Husbands of River Song.”
It’s always been somewhat controversial to ship the Doctor with anyone, but it’s hard to deny that Doctor Who has given us some wonderful romances.
While my favorite ‘ship is Ten and Rose, there are so many gorgeous relationships to choose from in this show’s 55-year history. While most of them have been star-crossed in some ways, the one that stands out as particularly opposed by the stars is the one between the Doctor and River Song.
When the Time Lord first meets River in “Silence in the Library,” we discover that she knows his true name, even though, from his perspective, he has never met her. From her perspective, this is the final time they will ever meet.
Over the course of the next decade of the show’s run, we see their relationship develop (from the Doctor’s perspective), as they have adventures out of synchronization, get married, and banter across time and space.
Kirk & Spock (Star Trek)
Chief obstacle to overcome: The heteronormativity of our culture
Iconic scene: “I have and always shall be your friend” in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
For most of mainstream storytelling history, queer love stories have been censored in some way. This means that most queer romance in science fiction has happened in fandom, though it is almost always a response to a chemistry seen on the screen.
“Slash fiction” is the term for fanfiction centered around same-sex pairings, and it comes from one of the most popular science fiction pairings of all time: Kirk and Spock, or K/S. In his book Textual Poachers, fan studies scholar Henry Jenkins uses the iconic “I have and always shall be your friend” scene from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khanto explain slash to the uninitiated. He writes:
“Spock is dying and Kirk stands there, a wall of glass separating the two longtime buddies. Both of them are reaching out towards each other, their hands pressed hard against the glass, trying to establish physical contact. They both have so much they want to say and so little time to say it. Spock calls Kirk his friend, the fullest expression of their feelings anywhere in the series.
Almost everyone who watches the scene feels the passion the two men share, the hunger for something more than what they are allowed. And, I tell my nonfan listeners, slash is what happens when you take away the glass. The glass, for me, is often more social than physical; the glass represents those aspects of traditional masculinity which prevent emotional expressiveness or physical intimacy between men, which block the possibility of true male friendship.
Slash is what happens when you take away those barriers and imagine what a new kind of male friendship might look like. One of the most exciting things about slash is that it teaches us how to recognize the signs of emotional caring beneath all the masks by which traditional male culture seeks to repress or hide those feelings.”
Slash is what happens when you take away the glass and, for many, the relationship between Kirk and Spock is the best science fiction love story of all time.
Peter & Gamora (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Chief obstacle to overcome: Right now? Gamora’s apparent death.
Iconic scene: Gamora asks Peter to shoot her, and he tries to in Infinity War.
She’s the badass daughter of a mass murderer. He’s kind of an idiot. Together, they make a surprisingly sweet pair. The Guardians of the Galaxy series has smartly kept this burgeoning romance on a slow burn, with the two forming a solid bond of trust and companionship as part of the same ragtag crew of space adventurers before anything turned explicitly romantic.
This all changes in Avengers: Infinity War, which sees the two admitting their love for one another in the face of Thanos’ horrifying plans. The true sign of their love? When Gamora makes Peter promise to shoot her should she fall in Thanos’ hands. And he does it! Or at least tries to.
Thanos turns Peter’s bullets to bubbles, but the fact stands that Peter respects Gamora enough to honor her wishes, even when it means killing the one he loves. Yep, this moment surprised me. I didn’t think Peter had it in him, and it made me ship this alien-human pairing even more.
Fry & Leela (Futurama)
Chief Obstacle to Overcome: Leela’s acceptance of Fry, warts and all.
Iconic Scene: Fry’s ruined marriage proposal in “Time Keeps On Slippin’”
Futurama fires off jokes with lightning speed and crafts some of the most intelligent stories that you’ll find on TV. There are a lot of reasons to love the quirky show, but one big selling point (and a reason that the show resonates on a level that The Simpsons doesn’t) is Fry’s ongoing pursuit of Leela. Now granted, Leela is a mutant, not an alien, but there’s the same level of taboo for such a relationship in society—if not an even worse one.
read more: The Geekiest Moments in Futurama History
Fry spends a lot of the earlier seasons trying to prove to Leela how much he loves her and that he won’t let her down, but as the show continues they not only enter a relationship, but get married and become part of quite the elegant love story. The series’ final final episode is a loving ode to Fry and Leela’s bond and the lengths that they’re willing to go for each other. Many of the series’ most beautiful set pieces revolve around Fry’s love for Leela in some war. It’s a beautiful, rewarding romance.
Kelly & Don (People of Earth)
Chief Obstacle to Overcome: Don coming clean about his fabricated identity and that he’s actually an alien.
Iconic Scene: Against all odds, Don and Kelly head towards a life together in Antarctica in “Snake Man and Little Guy.”
People of Earth brought a gentle, caring eye to aliens and alien believers. The show was at its best when it was bucking popular extraterrestrial stereotypes and crafting intricate storylines as the various races within the series began to work together. The aliens in the series were made up of a mix of Greys, Reptilians, and Whites. Most aliens in the show take a “probe first, ask questions later” approach to humanity, but Don the White actually feels empathy towards humans and seeks to learn more about the gentle species.
It’s this kind-hearted curiosity that leads to Don getting in a relationship with Kelly, an abduction survivor. Don wants to get closer with Kelly and bridge their gaps, but obviously this huge secret causes him to lie and create a false persona. It’s a tragic love story between two people who just want to feel something and connect, it’s just an unfortunate fact that one of them happens to be an alien.
Dick Solomon & Dr. Mary Albright (3rd Rock From the Sun)
Chief Obstacle to Overcome: Dick telling Mary that he’s from outer space and that his mission is to monitor Earth.
Iconic Scene: Dick comes clean to Mary and asks her to join him back in space in “The Thing That Wouldn’t Die.”
There are plenty of people that tout Ross and Rachel, Sam and Diane, or Jim and Pam as the quintessential sitcom relationship, but there’s surely someone out there that’s shouting, “Dick and Mary!” 3rd Rock From the Sun was able to take an outlandish concept like aliens living on Earth and turn it into a successful sitcom for six years. A lot of this had to do with the comedic talents of the cast, all of whom added some special affectation of an alien-as-a-human, but the comedy also found a unique, deep angle for its romances.
Many sitcoms have to continually figure out sources of conflict to keep their “it couple” apart, but 3rd Rock had the perfect one already built in—they’re secretly aliens. Accordingly, Dick found a sweet, centering relationship with fellow professor Mary Albright rather quickly in the series, but his secret alien status would always become an obstacle at the worst possible time. Their love was able to endure the course of the series, but it’s not as if she didn���t have to deal with she share of extraterrestrial weirdness, like an evil version of her lover.
Rick Sanchez & Unity (Rick and Morty)
Chief Obstacle to Overcome: Rick enables Unity and they bring out the worst in each other.
Iconic Scene: Unity’s planet-wide break-up letter(s) in “Auto-Erotic Assimilation.”
Sometimes it’s better to not know why certain characters are the way that hey are. An origin story or a glimpse behind the curtain is sometimes enlightening, but the adage of how less is more is definitely true. Rick Sanchez in Rick and Morty has lived hard and seen a lot. His belligerent nature doesn’t require an answer, but the glimpses of his relationship with Unity in “Auto-Erotic Assimilation” provide an enlightening glimpse into the character.
read more: Everything You Need to Know About Rick and Morty Season 4
Unity is a powerful collective hive mind entity that possesses the life forms around her to carry out her message. She and Rick dated in the past and when they attempt to rekindle their relationship, it goes up in flames just like in the past. This is an important story because in the end Unity and Rick still love each other, they just know that they’re bad influences on one another and that they can’t be together (Rick even attempts to kill himself after he enters a dark place after this break-up). It’s a mature, albeit difficult, realization to come to, but it’s one of the more effective Rick stories that the series has done.
Max & Liz (Roswell, New Mexico)
Chief obstacle to overcome: I don’t want to spoil anything!
Iconic scene: I don’t want to spoil anything!
From the very first scene of Roswell, New Mexico, it’s clear these two have chemistry and this show is very interested in exploring it. There is so much these two have working against them. He’s a cop, and she’s the daughter of an undocumented immigrant. She fears he may have had something to do with the death of her older sister. And, you know, he’s an alien with trust issues.
read more: Everything You Need to Know About Roswell, New Mexico
There’s a lot to like about Roswell, New Mexico, but the most exciting aspect of this new series is, like Outlander, it’s one of the rare shows on TV that is unabashedly romantic. We don’t have enough stories–science fiction or otherwise–that so thoroughly center to their love stories, and I can’t wait to watch Max and Liz fall in love.
Roswell, New Mexico premieres on Tuesday, January 15th at 9/8c on The CW.
Kayti Burt is a staff editor covering books, TV, movies, and fan culture at Den of Geek. Read more of her work here or follow her on Twitter @kaytiburt.