"I haven't seen one exactly like this before, it moves... differently."
Ripley, regarding the Dragon on Fiorina "Fury" 161 (from Alien3)

The Runner,[1] also known as the Dog Alien, Ox Alien, The Dragon or Scout,[2] is an adult form of the species Xenomorph XX121 spawned from a quadrupedal host animal (such as a dog or an ox). Runners, as their name implies, are fast and agile, and can spit acid from their mouths. They are considered "stage IV" Xenomorphs and molt into Sentries once they've secured a hive and a regular source of hosts.

Runners have variously been portrayed as being slightly larger and slightly smaller than typical human-spawned Aliens, differences that no doubt derive from the animal that hosted the creature. However, the Runner encountered on Fiorina 161 was around 7 feet 5 inches tall when standing on its hind legs.


Runners are physically quite different to human-spawned Xenomorphs due to the species' tendency to "inherit" aspects of its host's physiology through the DNA reflex. In the case of the Runner, the adult has most notably taken on its host's quadruped posture, with digitigrade hind legs. Like Drones, Runners have smooth domed carapaces, and they are also one of the few Xenomorphs not to have the distinctive dorsal tubes typical of many other castes. They also have a more barrel-shaped chest, similar to many quadrupedal animals. Their skin is tinted brownish-red as opposed to the more usual grey-black.[3]

While capable of standing and walking on their hind legs, Runners typically remain in their quadrupedal stance when moving and this makes them among the fastest Xenomorphs. They are equally capable of traversing floors, walls and ceilings at speed on all fours.[3] However, physically Runners are not as tough as Drones,[4] relying on their speed and agility to outmaneuver threats rather than strength to overcome them. A Runner also tends to use its tail attack (which stuns the victim) more often than the Drone. They can also run into prey with crushing speed and weight.[4]


Unlike other Chestbursters, in Alien3 the Runner is shown to be born nearly fully formed and only needs to grow larger.[3] Why this is so is never explicitly stated. However, in the Special Edition, where the Alien is spawned from an ox, it is hinted that this could be a result of the Chestburster being unable to escape its host's chest cavity at the typical interval (likely due to its higher structural rigidity), as the ox dies some time before the Chestburster hatches. Furthermore, the Special Edition Chestburster is considerably larger than a typical specimen when it finally emerges from the corpse, indicating it had already begun maturing within.[5]


"You really wanna bet this thing's that smart?"
"Maybe I'll go find it. See how smart it is.
Aaron and Ripley (from Alien3)

Runners, being generally fewer in number than other Xenomorph types, utilize stealth in their attacks, and have been known to take advantage of their ability to spit acid some distance, often hanging back from targets and striking from range, perhaps behind the cover of assaulting Drones,[6] Runners will often wait until their prey is alone before ambushing them, although they have been known to strike at members of larger groups if an opportune target presents itself.[3]

The intelligence of Runners is often debated. On Fiorina 161, instead of gathering live hosts for the soon-to-be-birthed Queen, a Runner displayed a tendency to implusively kill its victims outright, sparing none (with the exception of Ripley, who was carrying a Queen embryo). After killing its victims, it then savagely mauls them via biting and clawing- the way a dog or cat-related species would if attacking someone or something. It has therefore been theorized that Xenomorphs gain intellectual/mental as well as physical traits from their host, and that this may influence the adult creature's level of intelligence and instinctual behavior.[7] However, it is also possible the Runner was simply reducing the size of the human population in order to guarantee the young Queen's safety.

Behind the Scenes[]

As mentioned previously, there is much debate as to the Runner's intellect, given that in Alien3 it seems to kill all of its victims rather than capture them to be hosts for more Xenomorphs. In reality, the plan was originally for the Runner to convert the prison's assembly hall into a Hive where Dillon and Morse would discover several of the creature's victims, including Superintendent Andrews, cocooned and still alive, presumably ready for the Queen to impregnate when she began laying Eggs.[8] The sequence was conceived as an homage to a similar scene cut from Alien where Ripley discovers Dallas and Brett cocooned in the Nostromo's hold (later reinstated in the Director's Cut). However, this entire sequence was cut before it was filmed, although at least two of the cocoons were partially constructed.[8]

The Runner was planned to appear in the 2013 video game Aliens: Colonial Marines, but it was ultimately dropped.[citation needed]

Concept and credit controversy[]

Originally, H. R. Giger was approached on July 28, 1990 by David Fincher and Tim Zinnemann, and was asked to redesign his own creations for Alien3. Giger's new designs included an aquatic Facehugger and a four-legged version of the adult Alien. Giger said in an interview; "I had special ideas to make it more interesting. I designed a new creature, which was much more elegant and beastly, compared to my original. It was a four-legged Alien, more like a lethal feline - a panther or something. It had a kind of skin that was built up from other creatures - much like a symbiosis".[9] However, when Tom Woodruff, Jr. and Alec Gillis of Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc. (ADI) told Giger that they had their own design, Giger expressed himself as "very upset" and that the creature he had especially designed was his "baby". Even after the production severed contact, Giger continued to fax suggestions to Fincher because of his enthusiasm for the project, and made full-scale drawings and a sculpt of the Alien, all of which were rejected.

Giger would later be angered by the end credits of the released film presenting him as merely the creator of the original creature, and the fact that ADI personnel gave a series of interviews that minimized Giger's contribution. Fox eventually reimbursed Giger, but only after he refused to be interviewed for the Wreckage and Rage behind the scenes documentary on Alien3.[9]

The Academy Awards overlooked Giger's contribution to Alien3. However, Ridley Scott included Giger's name along with nominees Carlo Rambaldi and Richard Johnson. Fox, at the time Alien3 was released, pointed out that studios are precluded from submitting nominees in the effects category directly to the Academy. This upset Giger so much that at one point he sent Academy president Karl Malden a fax with this closing comment: "I am under the strong impression that my contribution to the visual effects of the nominated movie has been intentionally suppressed", signing the letter with a large black pentagram.[9]

Giger however would comment that he thought the resulting film was "okay" and that the Alien was "better than in the second film."[10]


  • While Alien3 was the first film to show a Xenomorph adopting different characteristics dependent on its host, the concept had actually existed since the making of Alien.[11] Director Ridley Scott later stated that the creature in the first film is merely "the man-version of Alien".[12]
  • In Aliens versus Predator: Extinction, Runners spawn from a Kurn or Kriltic; while the Kurn is a quadruped with an arguably dog-like physiology, the Kriltic is not, and resembles a giant scorpion in appearance. Therefore, it seems strange that an essentially identical Xenomorph would emerge from both.
  • It is unclear why the Runners seen in Alien3 and elsewhere are so fully formed at birth (with well-developed arms and legs), despite only being a Chestburster at the time.
  • In the novelization of Alien3, Ripley refers to the Runner variously as a Worker as well as a Warrior.
  • Considering the Runner is essentially a Drone spawned from a quadrupedal host, it is interesting to note that they are designated as Stage 4 Xenomorphs and not Stage 3 Xenomorphs like the Drone.
  • The Dragon has been known to claw, maul and even eat from some of its victims.
  • The name 'Runner' was introduced in Aliens versus Predator 2.
  • In Aliens versus Predator 2 multiplayer, Runners spawn from Corporates, whereas Colonial Marines spawn Drones. They also appear in the storyline, which mentions dogs being used as hosts,. Also, Primal Hunt implies Runners have been spawned from quadrupedal LV-1201 fauna such as Buhlaghs.
  • The Runner Alien known as the "Dragon" in Alien 3 killed at least 18 prisoners and an ox (dog in the theatrical version) on-screen.



See Also[]

  • Sentry — The mature form of a Runner.
  • Crusher — A stage 6 evolution of the Sentry.