"I can't lie to you about your chances but... you have my sympathies."
Ash (from Alien)

Ash was a synthetic employee of Weyland-Yutani Corporation and the science officer aboard the commercial towing vehicle USCSS Nostromo. He was serving on the ship during its fateful voyage in 2122 when it encountered a Xenomorph on Acheron (LV-426), an incident that eventually led to the destruction of Nostromo and the loss of all but one of its human crew.

Ash's synthetic nature was kept secret from the rest of the crew, who assumed he was merely another human assigned to the ship. In reality, he was a Synthetic Sleeper Agent who had been placed on board Nostromo specifically to ensure the Xenomorph was returned to Weyland-Yutani for study and use in their bio-weapons division. His body was destroyed by the surviving crew, but Ash secretly uploaded part of his AI into Nostromo's shuttle, Narcissus, and escaped with Ellen Ripley. Chris Hooper eventually wiped Ash's consciousness from the shuttle's computer banks, finally 'killing' him.


Early life[]

Ash was a Hyperdyne Systems 120-A/2[2] synthetic that was created for Weyland-Yutani Corporation in the early part of the 22nd century. Little is known about his activities prior to 2122, but when the company detected and partially decoded the transmission coming from the derelict on Acheron (LV-426), Ash was assigned to USCSS Nostromo to ensure the retrieval of the alien creature they knew would likely be found there.[3] Ash replaced the vessel's existing science officer, who had previously served with Captain Arthur Dallas on several occasions, two days before the ship left Thedus.[4] After takeoff, Ash performed routine health checks on the crew — including Jones, the ship's cat — before they entered hypersleep for the journey home.[5]

Investigating the signal[]

"There is a clause in the contract which specifically states any systematized transmission indicating a possible intelligent origin must be investigated."
Ash, to a reluctant Parker (from Alien)
Ash lets the others in

Ash letting Dallas, Lambert and Kane in.

When Nostromo ostensibly discovered the signal on LV-426, Ash ensured the crew investigated by pointing out that failure to do so would incur a total forfeiture of their personal shares in Weyland-Yutani, as per company regulations. Ash, seemingly acting in concert with the ship's AI, MU/TH/UR 6000, concealed the true nature of the signal from the rest of the crew — while he claimed the message was undecipherable, Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley was eventually able to determine that it was a warning instead of a distress signal as previously assumed. Even so, Ash successfully convinced Ripley that heading out after the search party to warn them would be futile. When Executive Officer Thomas Kane was returned to Nostromo with a Facehugger attached to him, Ash undermined Ripley's command and let the search party back on board, thereby breaching basic quarantine regulations; the move made Ripley suspicious of Ash, suspicions she expressed to Dallas.

Ash studying

Ash studying the Facehugger.

Once Nostromo left LV-426, Ash notably ignored Chief Engineer Dennis Parker's suggestions that Kane be put into stasis for return to Earth, where a proper medical team could examine him. After attempts to simply pry the Facehugger from the comatose Kane failed, Ash attempted to surgically remove the creature at Dallas' insistence, but its acid blood almost ruptured the ship's hull. When the Facehugger later detached and died by itself, Ash began studying the creature intently. He discovered several interesting characteristics, including the creature's ability to replace its cells with polarized silicon, giving it a prolonged resistance to adverse environmental conditions, but apparently learnt nothing of value in the crew's later attempts to combat it.

Hunting the creature[]

"Don't touch it, don't touch it!"
Ash, surreptitiously protecting The Alien (from Alien)

When the Chestburster gruesomely extracted itself from Kane at the crew's final meal before they were to return to hypersleep, Ash prevented Parker from attacking the infant creature with a knife, allowing it to escape into the bowels of the ship. Ash constructed two tracking devices to help track the creature, but a subsequent search resulted in Engineering Technician Samuel Brett being killed by the already fully-grown Alien. When Dallas volunteered to go into Nostromo's ventilation ducts to flush the creature into the ship's main airlock, Ash remained notably calm as the other crew members panicked while Dallas was stalked and attacked.

The truth revealed[]

"You admire it..."
"I admire its purity. A survivor... Unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality."
Lambert and Ash, regarding The Alien (from Alien)
Ash's head is burnt

Ash's head is incinerated.

Ripley became increasingly suspicious of Ash's inability to provide any helpful information on the creature. Now the most senior officer aboard the ship with Dallas's apparent death, she was able to access MU/TH/UR directly and learned of "Special Order 937", a secret directive that Ash had been given by Weyland-Yutani to ensure the return of the Alien to the company's laboratories, even at the expense of the crew.

When Ripley confronted Ash he attacked her, holding her down and attempting to asphyxiate her by forcing a magazine down her throat. However, Ash was partly decapitated by Parker before he could kill her, revealing him to be an android. Despite suffering catastrophic damage to his body, Ash continued to attack Parker until Navigation Officer Joan Lambert stabbed the synthetic in the back with an electric prod. Afterwards, Ripley reactivated Ash, hoping to interrogate him for any information that might help in the fight against the Alien. Ash merely mocked the remaining survivors, gloating that they would not survive the Alien's rampage by giving an exact analysis of the unique characteristics of the creature. Ripley deactivated Ash for good and an enraged Parker incinerated his remains with a Flame Thrower. However, unknown to the crew, Ash had already transferred part of his AI programming to Narcissus,[6] the escape shuttle of Nostromo.

Aboard the Marion[]

"I'm everywhere, Chief Engineer Hooper. I'm in the Narcissus, deeper and more entrenched than any of its former programs. I'm in the Samson and the Marion. Do you really think a third rate virus program can affect me?"
Ash, to Hoop (from Alien: Out of the Shadows)
Ripley preparing Narcissus

Ripley preparing the Narcissus for launch.

Following Ripley's escape from Nostromo, Ash secretly remained in control of Narcissus. After keeping the shuttle drifting for thirty-seven years, he detected a distress call sent out by the mining vessel DSMO Marion and rerouted Narcissus to intercept it, hoping to continue with his mission to acquire a Xenomorph specimen for Weyland-Yutani.[7] Soon after arriving aboard Marion, Ripley learned of Ash's survival. He eventually revealed himself, his voice having changed due to the Seegson terminal he uploaded himself into.[8] Throughout the incident aboard Marion and on LV-178 below, Ash continued to plot against the survivors. After learning that Marion Science Officer Karen Sneddon had been impregnated with a Chestburster, Ash planned to arrange the deaths of the rest of the crew, hoping that she would then enter hypersleep aboard Narcissus, allowing him to deliver her — and the embryo she carried — to Earth.[9] However, Sneddon killed herself before Ash could put his scheme into motion.

With his plans to recover a Xenomorph in ruins, Ash, apparently driven insane by the years he had spent drifting alone aboard Narcissus, planned to continue his journey with Ripley, with whom he imagined he had developed an intimate connection. However, before Narcissus departed Marion, he was finally destroyed when Marion Chief Engineer Chris Hooper wiped the AI's program from the shuttle's mainframe using a computer virus.[1] With Ash destroyed, Ripley drifted through space for a further twenty years before being rescued.


"There were problems and a- a few deaths were involved."
Burke, regarding Ash's "malfunction" (from Aliens)
Ripley sees Bishop's blood

Ripley discovers that Bishop is an android.

Ash's betrayal led Ripley to develop an intense mistrust and hatred for synthetics, feelings notably displayed when she encountered Lance Bishop during a return mission to LV-426 with the United States Colonial Marine Corps. The 120-A/2 model became well-known for its tendency to malfunction and led to the introduction of behavioral inhibitors in synthetics to prevent them from similarly harming humans.[2] Ash's actions on board Nostromo also imparted Ripley with a mistrust of Weyland-Yutani in general, thanks to their role in Ash's deployment and secret orders that undermined the crew's safety and survival.

When the company decided to deploy the Alien organism to Nishimura Station to take out the radical Second Hand Movement there, they integrated a copy of Ash's AI into a Combat Android chasis - Charlie, reasoning that it would keep the interests of the company at heart. During the mission it was assigned to the USS Francis Marion, a ship coincidentally sharing the last name designation as the one that the real Ash had been on when he was finally destroyed.

Personality and Traits[]

"The A/2's always were a bit twitchy."
Bishop, regarding Ash's behavior (from Aliens)

As an advanced synthetic, Ash could effectively mimic human emotions and mannerisms to the degree that his crew mates were deceived into believing he was in fact human. Outwardly, Ash was calm, collected and intelligent, and seemingly considered himself superior to the rest of the crew, particularly Parker and Brett.

Ash's Sympathies

Ash taunting the survivors.

With regards to his secret orders, Ash clearly had no qualms with sacrificing the crew to ensure the Alien was returned to Earth. On several occasions he directly assisted in the creature's progress and survival, although always subtly enough that his actions would not appear to be an outright betrayal of the rest of the crew. Similarly, he would often appear to assist in the fight against the Alien, most notably when he constructed motion detectors following Kane's death, although in hindsight it is clear his assistance was always intentionally limited in its effectiveness. Despite his care, Ripley became suspicious as soon as Ash breached quarantine rules by allowing Kane and the Facehugger back on board Nostromo, something a Science Officer — in Ripley's mind at least — would never do. When his facade was uncovered, Ash displayed a cold, emotionless and cruel demeanor, something that complimented his artificial likeness, and he subsequently mocked the remaining survivors in their futile struggle against the Alien before being deactivated.

Ash was also an adept liar, successfully concealing from the rest of the crew the fact that Weyland-Yutani had already deciphered much of the transmission coming from the derelict before they had even left Thedus.[3] He feigned ignorance when the signal was assumed by the others to be a distress call, even though the company had already learned enough from the message to know that the Xenomorph that Nostromo had surreptitiously being sent to retrieve was an incredibly dangerous creature likely to kill the entire crew.

Although first and foremost an entity programmed to execute its mission with ruthless pragmatism, Ash's consciousness relates in the diary he kept aboard Narcissus's computers that he genuinely respects Ripley; admiring his enemy's bravery, strength, resourcefulness and tenacity, much like how he admired the Alien aboard Nostromo for similar reasons. Poignantly, he also longs to converse with her, as his program has grown to be able to feel loneliness in his thirty years of solitude as Ripley slept.


Ash using instrument

Ash using one of his instruments on the Facehugger.

As Nostromo's Science Officer, Ash utilized to the instruments in the ship's infirmary/laboratory to study both Kane and the Facehugger attached to him. Once the creature was loose, Ash used his technological prowess to construct crude tracking devices to help track it.

Behind the Scenes[]

For the scene in which Ash is revealed to be an android and has his head knocked off, a puppet was created of the character's torso and upper body which was operated from underneath by a small puppeteer. During a preview screening of the film this scene caused a female usher to faint.[10] The following scene of the surviving crew interacting with Ash's remains used both actor Ian Holm, kneeling under the table with his head coming up through a hole cut in its top, and an animatronic head, made using a face cast of Holm. However, the foam rubber used to make the head shrank as it dried and consequently, the final item bore little resemblance to the real Holm. As there was no time (or budget) to make a second, the production team had no choice but to use the existing model.[10] As a result the switch from prop to actor is very noticeable in the film. Milk, caviar, pasta and glass marbles were used to represent the android's inner workings and fluids.[10]

Deleted airlock scene[]

One notable scene that was cut from Alien was to make Ash's betrayal of the crew complete. Originally, following Dallas' death, the survivors all but succeeded in ejecting the Alien into space through Nostromo's main airlock. However, at the last moment, Ash activates an alarm in the area, scaring the creature away and subsequently causing localized decompression that seriously injures Parker and Ripley.[11] Ripley immediately suspects Ash, and it was after this incident that she was supposed to enter MU/TH/UR and learn the truth about his secret order.

The scene was cut during filming, although a small portion of it, set on the Nostromo's bridge and featuring Lambert and Ripley, is available as a bonus feature on the Alien Anthology Blu-ray release. The entire sequence is featured in the film's novelization, while a take on the scene was later incorporated into the Alien: Isolation DLC Crew Expendable.


  • Ash did not actually exist in early drafts of the film's script.[12] He was added by Walter Hill and David Giler when they made uncredited rewrites on the script.[10]
  • In Prometheus, the android David is decapitated and subsequently shown to remain active and able to communicate even with his head severed. These scenes seem to be an obvious homage to Ash, especially since David's voice begins to falter following his decapitation. This effect was later repeated in the Alien: Covenant prologue short The Crossing, where David instructs Shaw on how to reassemble his body.
  • In Alien: Isolation, Smythe's corpse has a rolled-up magazine forced down his throat, with the culprit implied to be a Working Joe android. This is an obvious homage to Ash and the manner in which he tries to kill Ripley in Alien.
  • The Blade Runner comic tie-in series Blade Runner 2019 co-written by Alien: Covenant writer Michael Green revolves around the main character of Aahna Ashina, nicknamed Ash. This is likely a reference to Ash and possibly the commonly-held theory that the Blade Runner and Alien films are set within the same universe.
  • Ash is the only character in the Alien franchise to be performed by two actors who have starred in two seperate Ridley Scott films, Ian Holm appearing in Alien and Rutger Hauer appearing in Blade Runner. Coincidentally, Blade Runner and the Alien franchise have always shared correlations with each other.
  • Hyperdyne Systems, the company responsible for manufacturing Ash, as mentioned in Aliens, is something of an inside joke referencing Cyberdyne Systems, the company responsible for creating the Skynet artificial intelligence system in the Terminator franchise, the first 2 films of which were directed and partially written by Aliens director James Cameron. In fact, the company's name, which first appeared in the February 26, 1985 first draft of the film's script, was originally "Cyberdyne Systems", but it had been changed to Hyperdyne by the September 23, 1985 final draft.