- "I may be synthetic, but I'm not stupid."
- ―Bishop (from Aliens)
Lance Bishop was a Hyperdyne Systems model 341-B synthetic technician with the United States Colonial Marine Corps, assigned to 2nd Battalion Bravo Team. He served as Executive Officer aboard the USS Sulaco, and as such was part of the combat unit deployed to LV-426 in 2179, to investigate the sudden loss of contact with the colony of Hadley's Hope. He was subsequently involved in combating the Xenomorph infestation at the colony.
As a technician, Bishop was not part of the squad's combat personnel, although he used his non-combat skills to aid in the escape of the survivors from the colony. He survived the incident along with Ellen Ripley, Corporal Hicks and Rebecca Jorden, although he was seriously damaged and later deactivated at his own request.
Bishop was (allegedly) designed and created by Weyland-Yutani employee Michael Bishop. Bishop modeled the eponymous android on his own appearance. Several Bishop models were issued to the USCM; Bishop was eventually posted aboard the USS Sulaco as the ship's Executive Officer and the combat unit's technician.
While numerous other Bishop-type androids have been seen in the Alien franchise (several of which have posed as sleeper agents, actively concealing their android nature from those around them), it would appear that Bishop was among the first 341-B models produced.
Mission to LV-426
Due to Weyland-Yutani and military regulations, Bishop was sent with the USS Sulaco Marines to LV-426 to record events and act as Science Officer. Before entering hypersleep, Bishop attempted to develop a rapport with the Marines, but his attempts to inquire about their personal lives were met with derision. He learned that they were particularly fond of displays of power and Private First Class Hudson was particularly pleased with Bishop's prowess with a knife.
After waking from hypersleep aboard the Sulaco, Bishop was asked by Hudson in the mess hall to "do the thing with the knife", namely using his vastly superior android reflexes to perform the knife game at incredible speed. While he initially refused, continued goading from the Marines caused him to relent. Hudson was subsequently "volunteered" by Private Drake to be on the receiving end of the game, and with his own hand placed over the captive Hudson's, Bishop performed the trick at superhuman speed, much to Hudson's horror.
Despite an apparently flawless performance, Bishop actually nicked himself during the trick, thereby revealing to Ellen Ripley that he was an android. Due to her previous experience with the synthetic Ash aboard the USCSS Nostromo, she immediately became hostile, despite Bishop's insistence that newer models such as himself could never "malfunction" as Ash had done. Ripley remained unconvinced and threateningly insisted Bishop stay away from her.
During the drop on LV-426, Bishop drove the unit's APC. Once Hadley's Hope had been secured by the troops, he joined them inside and began going through the facility's logs to try and ascertain what had happened to the missing colonists. He also found Marachuk's medical notes in the colony's med lab, and took a marked interest in the captive Facehuggers held there. He began dissecting and studying the dead specimens almost immediately. At this time, Weyland-Yutani representative Carter Burke informed Bishop that the two live specimens were to be preserved and shipped back to the company when the mission was completed. Bishop continued his work in the med lab while the bulk of the detachment moved into the Atmosphere Processing Plant in search of the surviving colonists, listening in on the Marines' frequencies during the disastrous ambush there.
At Hadley's Hope
- "I'll go. I mean, I'm the only one qualified to remote-pilot the ship anyway."
- ―Bishop, volunteering for a dangerous mission (from Aliens)
Following the loss of most of the unit and their dropship, Bishop initially focused his efforts on continuing to study the deceased Facehuggers, hoping to find some weaknesses that may help the survivors combat the Xenomorphs. He theorized that some form of Xenomorph the group had not yet encountered must have been laying the Eggs seen inside the Atmosphere Processor.
However, as events continued to conspire against the remaining personnel on the planet — especially when it was discovered the Atmosphere Processor was going to explode — Bishop realized that he would have to take a more active role in the situation if any of them were going to survive. As such, he volunteered to travel out to the colony's transmitter, alone and unarmed, in order to pilot the unit's reserve dropship to the planet surface. The plan was successful, but before they could leave Ripley insisted Bishop fly her into the Atmosphere Processor so that she could rescue Newt, the last surviving colonist who had recently been taken by the Xenomorphs. Despite the Atmosphere Processor exploding all around him, Bishop managed to stay on station until Ripley succeeded, then barely escaping before the Processor's reactor went critical and detonated, destroying the colony. In doing so, he helped to finally gain Ripley's trust.
Surviving the mission
Upon returning to the Sulaco, Bishop was suddenly and violently torn in two by the Xenomorph Queen, who had stowed away in the dropship's landing gear. Immobilized, he could only watch as Ripley fought the Queen using a Power Loader. When Ripley opened the Sulaco's cargo lock to expel the creature into space, Bishop managed to save Newt from being sucked out along with her, despite the damage he had suffered.
Following the event, Bishop was placed into hypersleep, along with the other survivors of the incident — Ripley, Newt and Corporal Hicks.
Aftermath and deactivation
Bishop was further damaged when the Sulaco jettisoned the survivors due to an electrical fire in the hypersleep bay and the Type 337 EEV crash-landed on Fiorina "Fury" 161. Turk (who was thrown into Hicks' cryotube) and Newt were killed in the crash, while Bishop's remains were deemed irreparable and dumped on the prison colony's scrapheap.
Ripley later reactivated Bishop in order to access the EEV's black box recorder, learning from him that there had been a Xenomorph aboard the Sulaco, that it was now on the planet with them, and that this information had been transmitted directly to Weyland-Yutani. After giving Ripley the information she wanted, Bishop asked to be disconnected, stating that while he could be repaired, he would never be the state-of-the-art android he once was; Ripley obliged him. His remains were later retrieved by the Weyland-Yutani Bio-Weapons Divison that arrived on the planet to capture Ripley and the Xenomorph, headed by Bishop's designer Michael Bishop. His lower half was later rediscovered aboard the Sulaco by Corporal Christopher Winter.
Personality and Traits
As an advanced model android, Bishop was designed and programmed to mimic humans in the closest possible way, although he also possessed inherently superior intellect and reflexes, and was able to create his own reactions to situations. Core to his programming were the Three Laws of Robotics, which essentially made it impossible for him to allow harm to come to humans from either his actions or his inaction; in this regard he worked to aid the survivors of the LV-426 mission in their escape from the moon. In fact, despite his employment in the Colonial Marines, Bishop in fact considered himself to be a total pacifist.
Bishop's behavioral software was so acute that he could emulate emotions effectively and engage with humans on a social level, and he was capable of learning and adapting his personality based on observation of others, as evident when he made a joke of Ripley's mistrust of androids following her defeat of the Queen aboard the Sulaco. However, despite his advanced programming, Bishop was beset with an inherent innocence that set him apart from his human compatriots. Furthermore, he suffered from occasional tell-tale "glitches" that betrayed his synthetic nature. Even so, Bishop greatly preferred to be treated as a fellow human by those around him.
While ostensibly just a technician, Bishop doubled as the primary driver for the section's M577 Armored Personnel Carrier. He was also programmed to fly the UD-4 "Cheyenne" Dropship, and was also qualified to pilot the vessel by remote control. Additionally, he was trained in the use of surgical equipment and possessed knowledge of biology and dissection procedures.
Behind the Scenes
For Bishop's damaged appearance in Alien3, Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc. opted to use an animatronic dummy rather than makeup effects, to allow for more extensive damage to the android's head. The first puppet created proved unsatisfactory when it came to facial articulation, and thus was only used in wide shots from behind the head. Later, when production was relocated to Fox Studios in Los Angeles, ADI built a second puppet that was used to film closeups of Bishop's face as he talks with Ripley. The second puppet was sculpted by David Anderson and featured mechanical internals by Dave Nelson, consisting of 25 individual servo motors.
- Bishop actor Lance Henriksen is almost certainly the most prolific figure in the Alien franchise. As well as Bishop, he portrayed Michael Bishop in Alien3 and Charles Bishop Weyland in Alien vs. Predator, and also lent his voice and likeness to the characters of Karl Bishop Weyland and another Bishop android in the video games Aliens vs. Predator and Aliens: Colonial Marines, respectively.
- Furthermore, Henriksen appeared as Detective Hal Vukovich in The Terminator, which was written and directed by Aliens director James Cameron. In the film, his character is killed by the titular cyborg; this, combined with his deaths in Aliens and Alien vs. Predator, makes Henriksen one of two actors who have been killed on-screen by an Alien, a Predator and a Terminator, a dubious honor he shares with fellow Aliens actor Bill Paxton (although it could be argued that he was not killed by an Alien as Bishop technically survived his encounter with the Queen and was only deactivated some time later).
- In Cameron's original treatment for Aliens, Bishop never actually sets foot on LV-426 and remains aboard the Sulaco in orbit. He also refuses to rescue the survivors at the end of the story, saying that his programming will not allow him to risk the Xenomorphs potentially contaminating the ship and subsequently spreading throughout the human race.
- Bishop began a tradition in the Alien franchise of giving synthetic characters names that begin with subsequent letters in the alphabet — Ash in Alien, Bishop in Aliens, Call in Alien Resurrection and David in Prometheus, A-B-C-D. It is not clear if this was intentional with regards to Bishop, or whether it was merely coincidence before the tradition was adopted subsequently. This naming convention was continued in the Fire and Stone comic book event, which featured the synthetic Elden.
- Bishop is the only character in the Alien film series other than Ellen Ripley to appear in more than one film (not counting photographs and corpses).
- After many years struggling as an actor, Henriksen had become somewhat disillusioned with the profession when he was cast as Bishop and was ready to quit acting altogether if the part had not been successful. Today, the role of Bishop is considered to be one of the actor's finest.
- The Bishop character was introduced as an apparently sympathetic synthetic character meant to add to the drama of the sequel, given the appearance of a more sinister synthetic in the original Alien film.
- For the scene where Bishop plays the knife game, Henriksen practiced with a variety of different knives and got to the point where he actually performed the stunt on camera, although certain shots were later sped up to accentuate his inhuman abilities.
- Bishop's severed legs can be found in the Sulaco's hangar bay in Aliens: Colonial Marines.
- A figure based on Bishop was released by Kenner Products as part of the company's Aliens toy line. The Bishop toy was shipped with the Aliens: Space Marines mini-comic Aliens: Desert Storm.
- In William Gibson's unproduced script for Alien3, Bishop and Hicks became the series' main characters in lieu of Ripley, and they, along with another group of Colonial Marines, are involved in a Xenomorph outbreak on a massive space station, where the Aliens are being bred and studied for use as a bio-weapon. The screenplay ended with a cliffhanger setting up a fourth movie that would take place on Earth. The script was eventually rejected, although it is widely available to read online.
- In September 2017, Loot Crate created a figure based on the iconic "Queen vs. Bishop" moment from Aliens featured in the "Robotic" themed box.
- Aliens: Newt's Tale
- Alien Resurrection (novel) (appears in flashback)
- Aliens: Earth Hive (indirect mention)
- Aliens: Nightmare Asylum (indirect mention)
- Aliens: The Female War (appears in dream)
- Alien Trilogy
- Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual (mentioned only)
- Aliens: Colonial Marines/Stasis Interrupted (corpse only)
- Alien: River of Pain (mentioned only)
- Deep Black (indirect mention)
- Kenner Products Bishop figure
- Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 67 (2014), Titan Books.
- On Hollywood Collectible Group's replica, Bishop's dog tags feature "EOA" in the area for the wearer's rank.
- S. D. Perry. Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report, p. 90 (2014), Insight Editions.
- Bishop's actor's (Lance Henriksen) height at the time was 5ft 9 (175.3 cm), so that is also how tall Bishop would have been.
- James Cameron (writer and director). Aliens (1986), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
- Vincent Ward (writer), David Fincher (director). Alien3 (1992), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
- S. D. Perry. Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report, p. 136 (2014), Insight Editions.
- Bishop's name is seen as "L. Bishop" on a monitor in the film, and as all the USCM characters (except those whose names are given) share their first name with the actor portraying them, it can be assumed his first name is Lance.
- Alien3 trading cards — 70. Bishop II (1992), Star Pics.
- Aliens: Infestation (2011), Gearbox Software, WayForward Technologies, SEGA [Nintendo DS].
- Aliens: Colonial Marines (2013), Gearbox Software, SEGA [Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360].
- Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 149 (2012), Titan Books.
- Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 146 (2012), Titan Books.
- Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual, p. 92 (2012), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 235 (2014), Titan Books.
- "Strange Shapes - Interview with Lance Henriksen, 1987". Retrieved on 2013-05-21.
- Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 236 (2014), Titan Books.
- Paul McGann, Alex Thomson, Richard Edlund, Alec Gillis, Terry Rawlings. Alien3 audio commentary (2003), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
- Alien II treatment (September 21, 1983) by David Giler, Walter Hill and James Cameron
- Lance Henriksen. The Importance of Being Bishop (2010), 20th Century Fox [Blu-ray].