"Each one of these things comes from an egg, right? So who's laying these eggs?"
"I'm not sure. It must be something we haven't seen yet."
Ripley and Bishop, theorizing about the Acheron Queen's existence (from Aliens)

The Acheron Queen was a Xenomorph Queen born on Acheron (LV-426) in 2179. She was the original leader of the Hive at the colony of Hadley's Hope and was later encountered there by a unit of Colonial Marines from the USS Sulaco.

The Queen escaped the colony before its destruction and managed to reach the Sulaco by stowing away aboard a dropship but was killed when she was flushed into space by Ellen Ripley.



During the early stages of the Hadley's Hope Xenomorph infestation, one of the first creatures to emerge from the early hosts grew into a Queen,[3] and subsequently established a Hive within the colony's Atmosphere Processing Plant. Once she had fully matured, she began to lay her own eggs as her Drones continued to bring captive colonists to the Hive to act as hosts.

Acheron Queen Jaw

A close up of the Queen's jaw.

When a squad of Colonial Marines under the command of Lieutenant Gorman and accompanied by Ripley arrived at Hadley's Hope to investigate, they were almost wiped out by Xenomorph Drones in an ambush inside the Hive, with the few survivors forced to retreat. The Queen herself remained unseen deep within the Hive, although Ripley and the other survivors later theorized as to her existence, reasoning that something had to have laid the Eggs they saw prior to the ambush.

Confrontation with Ripley[]

Ripley later came face-to-face with the Queen during her attempt to rescue Newt, the last survivor from the colony, who had been captured by the Xenomorphs and taken to the Hive to be impregnated. Facing the Queen alone and surrounded by Drones, Ripley "reasoned" with the creature, threatening to destroy all of her Eggs if she and Newt were attacked. Apparently comprehending this, the Queen signaled her circling Drones to ignore them. However, when one of the Eggs hatched, Ripley incinerated the nest with her flamethrower and destroyed the Queen's ovipositor with grenades from her Pulse Rifle's grenade launcher before fleeing, believing the Alien dead. Enraged, the Queen detached herself from her ovipositor and pursued the fleeing humans.

Ripley finds Queen

Ripley and Newt encountering the Queen.

The Queen utilized an elevator to follow Ripley and Newt to the top floor landing platform, where she cornered them on the landing pad. However, Ripley and Newt managed to escape in the Colonial Marines' dropship Smart Ass, which arrived before the Queen could close in. During a hasty escape, the dropship collided with the landing pad and collected debris on one of its landing skids, allowing the Queen to hide somewhere in the ship's landing gear, unbeknownst to those on board. Moments after the dropship left, the Atmosphere Processor went critical, vaporizing the Hive and all but destroying Hadley's Hope.

Power Loader vs the Queen[]

"Get away from her, you BITCH!"
Ripley confronting the Acheron Queen, as she attacked Newt (from Aliens)
Queen being ejected

The Queen is ejected.

A short while later, in the main hangar of the USCM transport ship USS Sulaco orbiting above Acheron, the Queen emerged from her hiding place, impaling the android Bishop with her tail and ripping him in two while he talked to Ripley and approaching Newt. However, she was foiled by Ripley, who fought her off in a Power Loader and threw her into the Sulaco's hangar airlock. Despite using her razor tail and inner jaw to threaten Ripley, she was subsequently shot out into space, likely burning up as she re-entered LV-426's atmosphere.

After death[]

It later transpired that the Queen had somehow smuggled a single Egg aboard the Sulaco. This would later spawn a Royal Facehugger that implanted a Queen embryo within Ripley and later infected a second host with an ordinary embryo.[4]


As a fairly young specimen, the first Queen on Acheron was notably smaller than other examples that have been encountered.[5][6] Even so, she still towered over the Drones around her and was a formidable physical presence, standing some 15' high. While she spent most of her life attached to her enormous ovipositor and therefore immobile, when separated she was a terrifying aggressor with sufficient strength to prove more than a match against a Caterpillar P-5000 Powered Work Loader.


As with all Queens, the first Queen on LV-426 was endowed with heightened intelligence superior to virtually all other Xenomorphs. She was the unequivocal leader of the Hive on LV-426, overseeing and commanding all of the Drones there.[1] Judging by her ability to issue orders to her brood, it is possible that the Queen played a part in the Drones' attacks on the inhabitants and, later, Marines at the colony, orchestrating their assaults in a similar fashion to a military commander.

The Queen was shown to possess adept reasoning and learning skills, able to understand the basic concept of an elevator after seeing it in use only once. It was suggested she may have chosen the Atmosphere Processing Plant for her Hive not just because of its warm atmosphere, but because she was somehow aware locating it amongst the processor's vital safety systems would help prevent its destruction.[7] The Queen even went so far as to directly "negotiate" with Ripley when the two entered a stalemate within the Hive. It is also debated that she may have had a higher understanding of other emotional concepts; for example, during her ferocious pursuit of Newt aboard the USS Sulaco, it is not clear whether the Queen was acting merely on instinct, seeking to secure a host for the beginnings of a new Hive, or whether she was specifically intending to avenge the destruction of her brood.

List of Notable Victims[]

Behind the Scenes[]

The design of the Queen in Aliens was created by director James Cameron, in collaboration with special effects artist Stan Winston, based upon an initial painting Cameron had created at the start of the project.

The Queen in Aliens was portrayed by a combination of a full-size animatronic model and small-scale miniatures.[8] The full-size Queen, constructed by Winston's special effects company, used a combination of stunt performers encased within the puppet and external manipulation to achieve its performance; this innovative approach was devised by Cameron.[9] As such an animatronic had never before been constructed, the concept was first tested with a crude mock-up (affectionately called the "Garbage Bag Queen" by Winston's team, due to the black trash bags used to cover it) in the parking lot of Winston's studio in Los Angeles.[10] The final full-size Queen puppet was constructed in England and was mounted on a large crane, kept out of shot in the film through clever editing. Although only one body shell was utilized for the majority of filming, a second was built especially for shots of the Queen from behind, with a different closing mechanism for sealing the stunt men within.[11]

Two Queen heads were built, one of which was designed to be sturdy and durable, the other lightweight.[12] Both heads incorporated hydraulics and cable controls to articulate the jaws and lips, while the heavier hero head had additional functionality, including a working inner jaw and the ability to tilt on the puppet's neck.[12] The two stunt men inside the puppet, who were concealed within the Queen's chest, controlled the creature's four arms; one of these stuntmen, Nick Gillard, later played a background prisoner character in Alien3.[13] In addition to the stunt performers, the puppet incorporated numerous hydraulically-operated systems, operated externally using power steering units taken from automobiles.[12] The legs were puppeted. The entire construct required 14-16 external crewmembers to operate.[8] At the time of filming, the Queen in Aliens was the largest, most complex puppet ever created.[14]

Along with the full-size puppet, miniatures were used for the Queen's fight with the Power Loader, as well as shots of the her enormous ovipositor laying Eggs within the Hive.[8] These miniatures were sculpted by Shane Mahan, Alec Gillis, John Rosengrant and Shawn McEnroe.[15] Despite his disappointment at not being asked to return for the sequel, original Alien designer H. R. Giger was complimentary of the Queen's design, later commenting, "I like the fight at the end very much... The Alien Queen is very complicated, like the way I would have done. I like how she moves, and the scenes with Ripley are very good."[16]

Sculpting the Alien Queen head[]


ALIENS Behind-the-Scenes Sculpting the Alien Queen Head-0

Aliens FX artist Shane Mahan giving Stan Winston a videotaped report on the progress of his Alien Queen head sculpture.

When James Cameron re-teamed with The Terminator collaborator, Stan Winston, to take on the creature effects for Aliens, their goal was to stay true to the biomechanical design aesthetic that had been established by H. R. Giger while still finding ways to push it further; the Chestburster would have arms; the Drones would have bonier skulls and there would be a brand new character to design, the Alien Queen. And her face "had to be perfect."[17]

From sketch to sculpture[]

Cameron brought several renderings of the Queen Alien to his preliminary design meetings at Stan Winston Studio, featuring a massive 4-armed insectoid body and "an elegant" crown-like head with a retractable face, "packed" with dagger-sized, translucent teeth. From there, he and Winston traded sketches before arriving at a final design, which was then sculpted at 1/4 scale by a team of SWS artists. Winston selected one of his key artists, Shane Mahan to tackle the head.[17]

The Alien Queen grows up[]

Once Cameron signed off on the maquette, it was time to realize the full-size version. Again, Mahan took the lead on the head, sculpting it in WED clay over a period of several weeks in Stan Winston's Aliens FX workshop which had recently been established at Pinewood Studios, outside of London. Under the art direction of Cameron and Winston, Mahan translated the miniature head and face into full-scale, adding and defining design elements along the way.[17]




Concept art[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 James Cameron (writer and director). Aliens (1986), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
  2. Chris Roberson (writer), Paul Lee (illustrator). Aliens: Field Report (2014), Dark Horse Comics.
  3. "Weyland-Yutani Archives - James Cameron's Responses To Aliens Critics". Retrieved on 2013-07-01.
  4. Vincent Ward (writer), David Fincher (director). Alien3 Special Edition (2003), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
  5. Paul W. S. Anderson (writer and director). Alien vs. Predator (2004), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
  6. Aliens vs. Predator, Microsoft Windows version, Rebellion, 2010.
  7. Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 213 (2014), Titan Books.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Gale Anne Hurd, Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Stan Winston, John RichardsonSuperior Firepower: Making Aliens (2003), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
  9. Jody Duncan. The Winston Effect: The Art and History of Stan Winston Studio, p. 79 (2006), Titan Books.
  10. Jody Duncan. The Winston Effect: The Art and History of Stan Winston Studio, p. 80 (2006), Titan Books.
  11. Lee Goldberg, Patrick Daniel O'Neill, John Sayers. Aliens: The Official Movie Magazine, p. 58 (1986), Starlog Press.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Jody Duncan. The Winston Effect: The Art and History of Stan Winston Studio, p. 83 (2006), Titan Books.
  13. "Weyland-Yutani Archives - Vincent The Enigma: Further Confusion". Retrieved on 2013-05-30.
  14. Jody Duncan. The Winston Effect: The Art and History of Stan Winston Studio, p. 92 (2006), Titan Books.
  15. Jody Duncan. The Winston Effect: The Art and History of Stan Winston Studio, p. 81 (2006), Titan Books.
  16. "Strange Shapes - Her Infernal Majesty". Retrieved on 2014-10-24.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 https://www.stanwinstonschool.com/blog/aliens-behind-the-scenes-sculpting-alien-queen
  18. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=627964497236887&set=pb.104664682900207.-2207520000.1382579451.&type=3&theater