Resident Alien: Inside That Hair-Raising Cameo

Resident Alien episode 9 brings Alan Tudyk’s Harry Vanderspiegle into contact with ancient alien expert Giorgio Tsoukalos. Here is how it came together.

Alan Tudyk at an alien convention on Resident Alien
Photo: James Dittiger | SYFY

This article contains spoilers for Resident Alien episode 9.

In the Syfy series Resident Alien, Harry Vanderspeigle, or the extraterrestrial in the Harry human suit, to be specific, has been trying to get back to his home world after completing a mission to kill everyone on earth. But in the newest episode, “Welcome Aliens,” he has a close encounter with humans in alien suits — as well as one “high-haired gentleman” — at a UFO convention in Dulce, New Mexico.

The penultimate episode of the season occurs as Harry (Alan Tudyk) and Asta (Sara Tomko) head to the con to find an abductee embedded with an alien chip, which he can use to fix his humanity-ending weapon. And along with cosplayers and experiencers, he meets Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, the researcher best known from History Channel’s Ancient Aliens and the “I’m not saying it was aliens…but it was aliens” meme (which is not what he actually said).

Tsoukalos first appears on stage during an Ancient Aliens presentation, where he says human ancestors had teachers, and our knowledge came from beings from the stars. Apparently, he’s right on the mark because Harry says he likes this high-haired gentleman, and it’s about time aliens received a little credit. But when Harry hides in Tsoukalos’ green room — to avoid the Alien Tracker (Terry O’Quinn from Lost) — the researcher goes deep with his theories.

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In addition to being a fun cameo for anyone aware of Ancient Aliens, or the meme (which is everyone, right?), it also further connects the Syfy show to UFO lore, which the comedy-drama treats with respect.

This is intentional, says show creator and Executive Producer Chris Sheridan, who shared in a recent interview that he has, “spent many years going down a lot of different rabbit holes” in the paranormal and alien genres.

Sheridan said the appearance, which he calls a “great get,” came about due to a connection with Ancient Aliens producer Kim Sheerin via production company Amblin Television. Sheridan says he originally had an idea of how he wanted Tsoukalos’ interaction with Harry to go and wrote some material that was more about aliens in particular.

“[But] he’s a little bit more about being ancient monuments. That’s more of his background, so I tailored it a little bit to fit more of really who he is … I was basically working with him to try to get the depiction of him as accurate as possible.”

The result is Tsoukalos talking about the nearly identical masonry of Delphi and Sacsayhuaman as “navels of the world where deities descended from the sky and imparted knowledge to the local population,” with Harry obliviously replying that he should be on television.

But the fictional version of Tsoukalos likewise says he has no problem hiding aliens, if indeed Harry is one. So is he onto Tudyk’s character?

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“The way I see it, I think there’s part of Giorgio who thinks this guy is actually an alien, but he’s totally fine with it,” says Sheridan. “Like Giorgio thinks he might be, and doesn’t judge him for that: ‘Okay, well have a seat. Let’s talk.’”

Sheridan adds that when Tsoukalos and Sheerin arrived on the Vancouver set to shoot the convention scenes, he had a blast, and handed out pins of the Pre-Colombian Quimbaya gold airplanes — which are part of ancient astronaut theories, and have already made an appearance on Resident Alien. And Sheridan now has his pin attached to his baseball hat.

Beyond Tsoukalos’ appearance, the UFO Con allows the show to acknowledge other lore within ufology. Since Asta now knows Harry is an extraterrestrial, he can freely dish about conspiracy theories, including Stanley Kubrick faking the moon landing (“Astronauts did land on the moon, and their bodies were taken over before they returned.”) He also reveals more about alien races the Greys (“Insidious assholes.”), Arcturians (“Jerks. So cheap.”), Little Green Men (“They are cute, but they SO know it.”), Mantis (“One of them owes me money.”), and Blue Avians (“They’re actually very nice.”). This gives more of a perspective about life out there, along with his reference in last week’s episode, “End of the World As We Know It,” that Reptilians are, scaly, also insidious, and “trying to take over the universe by using the earth as a laboratory for hybridization,” as well as gross with “major hygiene issues.”

Also, the location of the UFO Con? Dulce is called the Roswell of Northern New Mexico, and since the 1930s, it has been a hotspot for purported sightings of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) sightings, cattle mutilations, and human-alien hybrids. Some theorists even think it’s home to an underground alien base.

Apparently, even when Resident Alien is not saying it was aliens, it’s aliens.

Check back next week for more of our interview with Resident Alien EP Chris Sheridan, where we discuss Terry O’Quinn’s guest starring role, debrief after the big season finale, and find out about what’s in store for Season 2.