- "I'm the monster's mother."
- ―Ripley 8 (from Alien Resurrection)
A clone of Ellen Ripley, known as Ripley 8, or Number 8, was the eighth and first fully successful clone created by the United Systems Military aboard the USM Auriga. Although she was essentially no more than a by-product of the top-secret USM project to resurrect the Xenomorph XX121 species, the scientist in charge of the program, Dr. Wren, ultimately elected to keep her alive for study. Ripley 8 subsequently became involved in the Xenomorph outbreak and infestation aboard the Auriga.
While outwardly human, cross-contamination of DNA between Ripley 8 and the Xenomorph inside her endowed Ripley 8 with several Xenomorph attributes; essentially, she was neither human nor alien, but something in between. She was one of four survivors of the Auriga incident, along with Dom Vriess, Johner and the Auton Annalee Call.
Following the destruction of the original Xenomorph Hive and the derelict on Acheron, and the death of the Runner on Fiorina "Fury" 161, Ellen Ripley committed sacrificial suicide to destroy the last known Xenomorph specimen in existence — the embryonic Queen developing inside her. With the destruction of that embryo, all hope for developing the Xenomorphs as biological weapons was seemingly lost.
However, blood samples taken by Jonathan Clemens when Ripley arrived on Fiorina 161 were recovered by Weyland-Yutani when the facility was closed down. In 2356, these samples passed on to the United Systems Military following the collapse of Weyland-Yutani. Owing to the Xenomorph's ability to share DNA with its host (the so-called "DNA reflex"), this particular sample of Ripley's genetic material also contained the DNA of the Xenomorph embryo she had been carrying at the time the blood was extracted. Over the following 25 years, the USM's science division also made considerable breakthroughs in cloning technology (which, despite profound technological advancements in other fields by the 2300s, had not been heavily researched due to cloning being deemed illegal). Eventually the USM began trying to create a clone of Ripley using the blood samples and, hopefully, gain access to the Xenomorph Queen inside her.
The science team, led by Dr. Wren, quickly discovered that it was extremely difficult, if not totally impossible, to separate the two species' DNA in the blood samples during the cloning process, owing to the Xenomorph's ability to incorporate elements of its host's DNA at the embryonic stage and thereby alter its own phenotype. The research team had originally hoped to simply clone the Xenomorph Queen back to life from the samples, but this quickly proved impossible, and attempts at cloning Ripley and the Queen together resulted in genetic crossing, leading to horrifically deformed creatures that were essentially fusions of Ripley and the Xenomorph, combined at a genetic level. Nevertheless, after seven failures and repeated refinements of the procedure, the USM scientists rallied their efforts to create an eighth, successful clone, an apparently perfect recreation of Ellen Ripley and the infant Queen gestating inside her. The project had taken 10 years to reach fruition, but the scientists finally achieved their goal and recovered the infant Chestburster before it could emerge.
While Ripley 8 had initially represented no more than a means to acquire the Xenomorph Queen, Dr. Wren ultimately decided to preserve her for study, despite the complaints of the project's overseer, General Peréz. Ripley 8 was subjected to numerous tests that probed both her physical and mental state, and it quickly became apparent that she was not in fact human, and that residual Xenomorph DNA in her system meant she was in fact a hybrid. Contrary to the expectations of the USM scientific team, she possessed memories and intellect inherited from Ellen Ripley, although she did not fully comprehend this knowledge. These memories were inherited in a similar fashion to the Xenomorph's ability to transfer memories down through the generations genetically. All through her development, Ripley 8 was kept ignorant of her origins and purpose, yet she was almost immediately able to sense that the Queen had been extracted from her and was breeding aboard the Auriga, another side-effect of the Xenomorph DNA in her body.
Learning the truth
When the Cloned Xenomorphs escaped from their containment cells aboard the Auriga, Ripley 8 joined up with the survivors from the Betty in an attempt to escape the ship. Along the way, Ripley 8 discovered the failed clones that had come before her, including Ripley 7, who was still alive and begged to be euthanized. Ripley 8 complied, incinerating the entire laboratory in a rage using a Draco Double Burner. As the survivors neared the Betty, Ripley 8 was captured by the Xenomorphs and taken to the Queen by the Lead Alien, where she witnessed the birth of the Newborn, a result of the imperfect cloning processes that had given her her own abnormal traits.
The Newborn killed the Cloned Queen and apparently viewed Ripley 8 as its true mother, although Ripley 8 fled from the creature at the first opportunity and made it to the Betty. The Newborn followed and also made it aboard the ship as it departed, forcing Ripley 8 to finally confront it in the vessel's cargo hold. Using the creature's apparent reverence for her, she lured the Newborn into a false sense of security before burning a hole in a viewing port in the ship's hull with her blood, sucking the hybrid piecemeal out into space.
Return to Earth
The Betty ultimately landed on Earth, finally returning Ripley, at least in the form of her clone, to the planet she had been trying to reach for more than 200 years. However, the planet was now an arid wasteland. As Ripley and the other survivors looked down on a devastated Paris, they considered their future and whether the USM would pursue them in the aftermath of the Auriga's destruction.
Personality and Traits
While Ripley 8 was a clone of Ellen Ripley, her personality was markedly different. Unlike the original Ripley, she was sarcastic, dry, and rarely fazed by the situations that she found herself in. Whether she be in USM captivity, subjected to scientific tests or faced with the horrors of a Xenomorph outbreak, she showed little emotional concern or interest and maintained an emotionless, apathetic exterior, such as when she informed Larry Purvis that he was infected with a Chestburster and calmly described the horrific, fatal birthing process to him. Only the revelation of the previous failed clones and the emergence of the Newborn seemed to elicit any real response from her — she was horrified and distressed by the former, while she showed genuine fear in the face of the latter. Ripley 8 also seemed to possess a far greater capacity for irony than the original Ripley, finding black humor in the often terrible events that surrounded her — the devastation wrought by the Cloned Xenomorphs in particular, devastation she had explicitly forewarned, seemed to amuse her greatly. It is unknown if this is a result of the clone's upbringing inside the ship or her Xenomorph DNA.
Notably, Ripley 8's personality was split between the two species that contributed to her DNA, and she shared both human and Xenomorph sympathies. She often found herself to be in dissent regarding the two species' conflicting goals and aims, and at times even considered siding with the Xenomorphs aboard the Auriga (a desire the creatures apparently shared, they seem to revere her), although ultimately she chose to ally herself with the humans she encountered. Despite her fractured persona, elements of Ellen Ripley's character still shone through in Ripley 8. Mostly notably, she was plagued by vague memories from her previous life, particularly Ripley's prior relationship with Newt; while Ripley 8 could not remember the young girl's name or anything more than superficial details regarding their time together, the deep-seated memories of Newt and her fate clearly distressed her. Furthermore, Ripley 8 also possessed some of the sympathy that was prevalent in Ellen Ripley, perhaps never more obviously than when she chose not to kill Wren for his part in the events aboard the Auriga and the creation of the failed clones that had preceded her.
Due to the unintentional crossing of genetic material during the cloning process, Ripley 8 possessed several unusual traits more often associated with the Xenomorph species. These included:
- Physical appearance: Despite appearing identical to Ellen Ripley at first glance, Ripley 8 possessed several subtle physical differences, most notably metallic green-black fingernails; in the novelization, Ripley 8 tried to bite them short, but they would not yield to her teeth. Also according to script and novelization, the scientists, (Wren), notices that she had four vestigial growths, two on either side of her spine, her body's attempt to grow the Xenomorph's dorsal horns; these vestigial dorsal horns were surgically removed by Wren while she was still growing, (Gediman notes that they did not compromise her development.) The scars where they were, were also shown in the film's storyboard.
- Physical prowess: Ripley 8 was capable of jumping long distances, and of sprinting and/or otherwise physically exerting herself for extended periods of time with little sign of tiring. She was capable of holding her breath for far longer than any normal human. She also had superior physical durability, and an ability to completely ignore physical pain. At one point, she was shown taking a fully charged electrical burst from a Lacrima 99 Shockrifle, a charge powerful enough to take down a full grown rhino, at point blank range to her head, yet the blast merely stunned her. She was later shown taking a set of weights to the face, courtesy of Christie, in the Auriga mess hall. Despite getting a bleeding nose from the blow, Ripley 8 was otherwise unaffected. In the novelization, an unprepared Ripley 8 takes a blow to the head with a pipe courtesy of Larry Purvis when they first meet; Ripley 8 is unfazed, "as if a major head blow like that was just something you shook off".
- Inhuman strength: Ripley 8 demonstrated superior levels of strength when compared to other humans, able to best men larger than her in unarmed combat, rend open hardened steel plate with her bare hands and even tear off a live Facehugger after it attached to her face, a feat not even Yautja or Engineers are capable of.
- Rapid cell regeneration: Another ability bestowed upon Ripley 8 by her Xenomorph genes was her ability to rapidly heal from injuries. Most notably, the scarring from her surgery to remove the Queen Chestburster healed almost completely (in the film, it was a matter of three days, whilst in the script and the novelization, it was just a day). In one version of the script, in the mess hall fight scene between Ripley 8, Johner and Christie, Ripley 8 loses a tooth when Christie strikes her — and later, before entering the flooded galley, Ripley 8 reveals that it has regrown. In the novelization, she sheds her skin, like the Aliens, after waking up in her cell, after the surgery to extract the embryonic Queen, the wet and tender skin giving way to a layer of stronger, drier skin.
- Acidic blood: Perhaps the most obvious similarity between Ripley 8 and the Xenomorph was the former's acidic blood. While the blood in Ripley 8 was far less potent than that of Xenomorphs, it was still capable of corroding metal, glass, plastics and other materials over time. It was also red, the same color as normal human blood, instead of green. It is unknown what effect the Xenomorphs' blood would have on Ripley 8 if her skin had ever been exposed.
- Superior senses: Ripley 8 has demonstrated superior senses, such as touch and smell; she was able to feel that the USM Auriga was in motion despite the fact that the ship was running on stealth, and she was able to smell the embryonic Xenomorph gestating within Larry Purvis.
- Psyche: Ripley 8 displayed violent and apathetic behavior beyond what would normally be expected from a human; the two combined made her something of a dangerous predator. Her general outlook and mindset was vicious and bleak, and even her body language hinted at the Xenomorph DNA she possessed, as many of her movements were feral and almost cat-like.
- Alien empathy: Due to her half-Xenomorph genetics, Ripley 8 was able to sense the presence of other Xenomorphs in the immediate vicinity, as well as comprehend their motives and emotions. Like all Xenomorphs, she possessed a particularly strong mental bond with the Queen. In the novelization, it is described that through this very link, Ripley was forced to experience the Queen's labor pains along with her, as the Queen didn't really understand what was happening to it and wanted her mother to coach her through it. She was also forced to experienced the Newborn's death along with it. Also in the novelization, Ripley refers to the Xenomorphs with either the pronouns 'it' or 'them', in reference to their hive mind.
- Intelligence and memory: Ripley 8 was endowed with superior intellect and mental skills when compared to the original Ripley — from the moment she was cloned, Ripley 8 was able to comprehend six foreign languages that Ellen Ripley had never been able to speak, including Arabic and Japanese. She also possessed memories from Ellen Ripley's life, inherited genetically, similarly to how Xenomorphs pass down knowledge across subsequent generations through their DNA.
Though Ripley 8 seemed to rely primarily on her abilities, she was equally capable of utilizing human technology to suit her needs; aboard the Auriga, she used a Lacrima 99 Shockrifle to kill a Xenomorph Drone and an Draco Double Burner to burn down the lab housing the failed clones.
- According to Sigourney Weaver, the idea of including a ninth Ripley clone in the film was discussed at one point. "Ripley 9" would be, essentially, an evil version of Ripley 8. The concept was ultimately not pursued.
- When Joss Whedon originally wrote the film's script, he wasn't sure how far he could push the differences between Ellen Ripley and her clone, but when he showed Weaver what he was planning to do with the character, she encouraged him to push it further.
- Costume designer Bob Ringwood originally intended to design a leather costume for Ripley 8 that evoked the look of the Xenomorphs, but Weaver did not like the idea. Ringwood, pleased with the costume he had designed, refashioned the outfit and instead gave it to Hillard, played by Kim Flowers. When Weaver subsequently saw Flowers wearing the costume on set, she changed her mind and demanded Ripley 8 should wear it. As Flowers is of completely different build to Weaver, Ringwood had just 12 hours to manufacture completely new copies in Weaver's size.
- Technically speaking, by taking into account the real Ellen Ripley's age, the 57 years she spent in extended hypersleep and the 200 years she was dead, Ripley 8 could be considered to be almost 300 years old.
- In the non-canon novel, Aliens: Original Sin, following the events of the film, Ripley 8 has become the new captain of the Betty, which she considers to be her "nest".
- Sigourney Weaver made the behind-the-back half-court basketball shot successfully after two weeks of basketball practice, tutored by a basketball coach. Her conversion rate during that two weeks was about one shot in from every six. When the day came to shoot the scene, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet wanted to have the ball dropped in from above, rather than wait for Weaver to sink the shot herself, which "would probably take about 200 takes". Weaver insisted that the she could get the shot in herself, which she was finally allowed to do. She sunk the shot on the very first take, from six feet past the three-point line. Ron Perlman was completely stunned (and thoroughly impressed), and turned directly at the camera and broke character, exclaiming, "Oh my God!" The editors looked at the shot and decided that there was "enough room to get the scissors in". Weaver was ecstatic about making the shot, but Jeunet was concerned that audiences would believe the shot to be faked due to the ball briefly leaving the frame. He offered to have the footage digitally altered to ensure the ball did not leave the screen, but upon Weaver's insistence, he kept the shot as it was. Weaver described the miracle shot as one of the best moments in her life, after her wedding day and the birth of her daughter, of course.
- Alien Resurrection/novel/comic
- Alien Resurrection (video game)
- Aliens: Original Sin
- Aliens versus Predator versus The Terminator
- Alien: Sea of Sorrows (indirect mention)
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- Ripley 8's actress's (Sigourney Weaver) height at the time was 5ft 11 (180.3 cm), so that is also how tall Ripley 8 would have been.
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