The failed Ripley clones are the result of the United Systems Military and Dr. Mason Wren's experiments to resurrect the Xenomorph XX121 species, for use as biological weapons. Created aboard the USM Auriga, they are horrifically malformed creatures, containing aspects of both Ellen Ripley and the Xenomorph. Seven failed clones were developed before the "success" of the eighth clone, "Ripley 8". Clones 1-6 died an indeterminate time after their creation, but Ripley 7 survived to maturity before being euthanized by Ripley 8.
- See also: Ripley 8
The failed Ripley clones were intended to grant USM scientists access to an infant Xenomorph Queen, which could then be used to breed the creatures for use as a biological weapon. However, the first seven attempts were failures, the resultant creatures being a randomized mixture of human and Xenomorph DNA from which no viable Xenomorph specimen could be recovered (although there was evidence that in at least one case — Ripley 7 — attempts at locating and removing a Chestburster had been made).
The first six Ripley clones were failures. However, with each successive attempt the USM scientists refined their cloning process and created more biologically viable creatures, moving closer towards their ultimate goal of retrieving a stable Queen embryo. While physiologically there was little sign of improvement with successive attempts, each subsequent clone survived longer and gained more biomass than the one before it. Essentially, Ripley 1 was so horribly deformed that it could not sustain itself and died while still very small, whereas Ripley 3 survived to the equivalent age (as accelerated growth techniques were used to speed development) of 2 years old. Ripley 4 survived to the equivalent age of 4 years old, with successive creatures developing further still. Even so, later clones were not necessarily "more human" in appearance than those before them, but merely more biologically stable.
Despite their failure, the early Ripley clones were stored aboard the USM Auriga in large tanks filled with a preservative liquid, presumably both for further study and as a record of what had been achieved. They were later destroyed by Ripley 8, who incinerated the entire lab with a USM Draco Double Burner.
Ripley 7 was the only clone that was still alive when encountered on board the Auriga by Ripley 8 and the crew of the Betty, and was arguably the most human in appearance before Ripley 8. Outwardly, Ripley 7 closely resembled Ellen Ripley, but with a bloated, deformed body. There was evidence that Wren and his team had performed surgery on Ripley 7's chest, presumably attempting to retrieve Xenomorph tissue from within, although it is unlikely any viable material was recovered.
The creature was apparently in considerable physical pain when discovered, possibly only kept alive by the medical equipment it was connected to. Mentally it appeared to be somewhat handicapped, as it had significant difficulty communicating, capable of muttering only a few disjointed syllables. At its own insistence, the clone was euthanized by Ripley 8, who incinerated it before torching the rest of the laboratory.
Ripley 8 and Success
- See also: Ripley 8
After 10 years of work, the cloning project finally bore fruit in the creation of "Ripley 8", who outwardly appeared no different to the adult Ellen Ripley, and was created with an intact and viable infant Xenomorph Queen growing safely within her chest cavity. Before the Chestburster could hatch, it was surgically removed from Ripley 8 by Dr. Gediman and subsequently developed under USM supervision.
While initially Wren and the project's overseer, General Peréz, intended to dispose of Ripley 8 as soon as the Xenomorph specimen had been retrieved, Wren became curious and subsequently relented, keeping the clone alive for further study by Dr. Gediman and the other scientists.
- The scene where Ripley 8 encounters the failed clones is strikingly similar to two other scenes previously devised for the Alien franchise — David Twohy's unproduced script for Alien3 includes a very similar sequence, involving failed Xenomorph clones in a secret lab aboard space prison Moloch Island, while the 1993 comic Aliens: Rogue features a scene where Professor Kleist examines a number of failed Xenomorph Queens, each of which is horribly deformed and preserved inside a large fluid-filled tank.