"It was a dragon! It feeds on minds. It was- Nobody can stop it!"
Golic, referring to The Dragon (from Alien3)

The Dragon,[3] also known as the Beast,[4] was a lone Xenomorph Runner that was born on Fiorina "Fury" 161 in 2179. It was responsible for wiping out nearly all the inhabitants- 27 of them on-screen of the Fiorina 161 Class C Work Correctional Unit (17 via direct attack, and 10 via a toxic waste explosion in the prison). It was eventually killed by Ellen Ripley, who destroyed the creature by drenching it in water after it had become covered in molten lead, causing it to explode due to thermal shock.



Dragon in wall

The Dragon hiding in the shadows before killing Murphy.

The Dragon was born from Spike, a dog (Babe (Special Edition) , one of the oxen) kept at the prison by inmate Thomas Murphy, impregnated by a Facehugger brought to Fiorina 161 aboard the same EEV that brought Ellen Ripley to the planet. The Dragon later violently exploded from Spike while the inhabitants at the prison colony were carrying out a funeral for Newt and Hicks, both of whom had perished in the same EEV crash that had brought the Xenomorph to the planet.

The Dragon hid in the prison's extensive ventilation network while it matured, during which time it was discovered by Murphy. Initially mistaking the Xenomorph for Spike, Murphy's investigations quickly led to his death; the Dragon blinded him by spitting acid into his face, causing him to tumble into a large ventilation fan. By then, the Xenomorph had left before the investigating team arrived at the scene of the "accident."

Slaughtering the prisoners[]

"Let me see if I have this correct, Lieutenant. It's an 8-foot creature of some kind with acid for blood, and it arrived on your spaceship. It kills on sight and is generally unpleasant."
Andrews to Ripley, regarding The Dragon (from Alien3)
Dragon after killing prisoner

The Dragon covered in blood after killing Boggs.

Once fully grown, the Dragon killed two more inmates, Boggs and Rains, in the tunnels beneath the prison; these deaths (along with Murphy's) were initially blamed on the disturbed inmate Golic, who had witnessed the attack on Boggs and Rains, despite Ripley's insistence that a Xenomorph was responsible. Golic's experience with the Xenomorph caused him to develop an obsession with the creature, which he dubbed a "dragon".

The creatures later attacked and killed Clemens in the prison's infirmary as he attempted to treat Ripley — the Dragon subsequently cornered a terrified Ripley and prepared to kill her. However, it stopped short, abruptly fleeing back into the vents with Clemens' corpse. It was not until a later medical examination that Ripley learned she had been impregnated with a Queen Chestburster; evidently the Dragon had sensed the embryo's presence and had spared her as a result.

The Dragon's presence at the prison was duly revealed to the wider population when it attacked and killed Superintendent Harry Andrews as he addressed the remaining inmates. Without any kind of weaponry in the prison, Ripley and the inmates attempted to use quinitricetyline to create a fire and hopefully drive the Dragon into a disused nuclear waste tank where it could be contained. However, the creature prematurely intervened and attacked Frank, causing him to drop his detonator onto the quinitricetyline. The massive explosion resulted in the deaths of several prisoners, while the Dragon itself escaped.

Human bait[]

"I say fuck that thing! Let's fight it!"
Dillon, rousing the other inmates (from Alien3)
The Dragon's death

The Dragon exploding.

Now desperate, the survivors elected to use themselves as bait to try and draw the Dragon into the mold at the industrial lead works adjacent to the prison, where they hoped to drown the Xenomorph in molten lead. The bait-and-chase style plan quickly degenerated into chaos as the creature picked off the remaining prisoners one-by-one.

Ultimately, all of the survivors—barring Ripley and one of the prisoners, Robert Morse—were killed, although the Dragon was successfully trapped in the mold and the lead was poured. Remarkably, however, the creature survived the ordeal and it leapt from the mold, now covered in molten metal and intent on killing Ripley. As it approached, Ripley activated the fire sprinklers overhead, and the resultant deluge of water caused the Dragon's mesoskeleton to explode through thermal shock.

Attempted capture[]

Through messages sent from the prison during the creature's rampage, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation learned of its existence and intended to capture the Dragon alive for study. To this end, a science team led by Michael Bishop was dispatched to Fiorina 161 aboard the Patna. However, the team arrived too late and found that the creature had already been killed by Ripley.

Special Edition[]

Golic, upon seeing The Dragon (from Alien3 Special Edition)

In the Special Edition of the film, the Dragon is instead born from Babe, one of the oxen used for labor at the prison. The Runner was apparently unable to escape from Babe at the usual time, perhaps due to the ox's more sturdy rib cage, and as a result Babe died prematurely while the Dragon continued to develop within. It finally burst from the corpse in the prison's slaughterhouse, far larger and more developed than a typical Chestburster.

Later, the plan to trap the Dragon actually succeeded when Junior used himself as live bait to draw the creature inside the waste tank. For several hours the Dragon was entombed, before Golic, delusional and believing he should assist the Xenomorph, released it. The creature killed him before fleeing back into the prison.

List of Notable Victims[]

Special Edition only[]

Behind the Scenes[]


Giger III Alien

H. R. Giger's quadruped Alien design.

During the development of Alien3, H. R. Giger, the designer of the original Alien, was contacted by Gordon Carroll and David Fincher and asked if he would update the creature for the new film, for which the production team wanted a quadruped, more animalistic Xenomorph. One of the first decisions made was to return to the domed carapace style of the original Alien, rather than the ridged design seen in Aliens. Another obvious change made by Giger was the removal of the tubes on the creature's back, as it was thought they would interfere with the Xenomorph's elongated skull, which would now be lying along its spine due to the creature's new quadrupedal posture. Other changes Giger bestowed upon his new version of the Alien included sharp blades that could shoot out from sockets between the creature's fingers (coincidental similar to the comic book superhero Wolverine), valves on its skin that could produce sound indicating the Xenomorph's mood, and a new, more spear-like, barbed tongue that would pierce the victim's skull before returning, dragging out shreds of the victim's brains and innards.[5] Director Fincher also requested the creature be given sensual, feminine lips, which were based on actress Michelle Pfeiffer.[5]

While Giger sent in numerous drawings of his new designs, ultimately the creature in the film was designed by Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc. (ADI), who had been hired to provide the film's practical creature effects — a fact that was kept from Giger until late in production.[5] As a result, many of the artist's more extreme suggestions were not used in the final creature, although other aspects of his redesign carried over, such as the new lips. Eventually, 20th Century Fox severed all contact with Giger completely. The situation left Giger disheartened, particularly when — in his eyes — he was not given proper credit for the Xenomorph's new look in the released film. "In the contract it stated exactly how I should be credited. They [are breaking] the contract because they're saying in the movie that it's only 'original design by Giger' and not Alien3, so it looks like I didn't work on it. Mr. Fincher never gave me any credit. That did not just happen; it was made to happen. I never heard from the man responsible, and I don't know why he did it."[5]

Suits and animatronics[]

Originally, the production team planned to use an actual dog — a Whippet — dressed in a Xenomorph suit to portray the quadrupedal Dragon in the film.[6] However, after initial tests proved unsatisfactory (the special effects team themselves admitted the effect was laughably inept) the decision was made to use a scale rod puppet of the creature that would be composited into the live action footage.[6] The puppet work was handled by Boss Film, while ADI oversaw the production of the suits used to portray the creature in close-ups. Contrary to popular myth, the Dragon was not portrayed through the use of computer-generated imagery, with the exception of a single shot of the creature's head cracking before it explodes at the end of the film.[6] CGI was also used for a shot of the infant Dragon running away from its dead host in the Special Edition of the film, although this sequence was completed many years later specially for the alternate version's release.[7]

The Xenomorph suits were constructed from foam latex and crafted to be skin-tight to hide any wrinkles in the costume.[8] Notably, the suit jettisoned the purely biomechanical aesthetic of H. R. Giger's original designs, opting instead for a more organic fusing of flesh and bone.[8] The body suit was moulded by Chris Halls and Paul Catling, while Halls also created the Dragon's head.[9] ADI co-founder Tom Woodruff, Jr. was the stunt performer who portrayed the suited Alien, filmed mostly with selective framing to hide his bipedal form; while fiberglass leg extensions that gave the creature digitigrade lower limbs were constructed, they were ultimately never used due to practical limitations.[10]As with the Drones in Aliens, a fully animatronic upper torso was built for closeup shots.[11] The Dragon's screeches were created by manipulating the sounds made by geese.[6]

Rod puppets[]


The Dragon rod puppet used by Boss Film.

ADI provided Boss Film with a mold of the Dragon from which to create the rod puppets. Three were made, consisting of a latex skin over an articulated metal frame.[12] One modified latex skin was created specifically for shots of the creature covered in lead near the end of the film.[13] The puppet was hand-animated, requiring four people to manipulate it — one on the front legs, one on the rear legs, another on the tail and a final operator controlling the head and torso. For shots where the creature clung upside-down to ceilings, an additional two puppeteers were required, with each leg being operated by a separate individual.[8] The tightness of the joints on the frame had to be constantly adjusted to suit the range and speed of movement required for any given shot. As a result of this constant tinkering, the puppet frequently broke and required repairs.[14] The puppet was filmed in front of a blue screen at Boss Film's studio in Los Angeles using a special motion control camera in a process dubbed "Mo-Motion" by the crew, and the footage was later composited into the live-action on-set footage from Pinewood Studios using a unique LaserDisc-based compositing system.[12]

The Dragon was nicknamed the "Bambi Burster" by the production crew, a reference to how director David Fincher told Giger he wanted the Chestburster version of the creature in his film to be cute rather than hideous like the adult.[15] According to Giger, "that was the idea of Mr. Fincher, to have a Bambi like... it shouldn't be like the Chestburster... ugly thing... it should be Bambi... so a creature you like right away but not too nice. And... my first design was too nice, it has been like little bears, so I make it long, long feet and also a little.... like Bambi is a little helpless."[15] The infant puppet was also created by Halls[9] and was operated by the Boss Films crew. The founder of Boss Films, Richard Edlund, kept the puppet after the production wrapped.[16]


A common misconception regarding Alien3 is that the Dragon was portrayed in wide shots through the use of computer-generated imagery (CGI). While this is false — the aforementioned rod puppets and optical compositing were used to depict the full creature on screen — some CGI was used to help portray the Dragon. Digitally implemented shadows were added to the rod puppet once it had been composited into the live-action footage, and mattes to enhance motion blur in scenes where the creature is moving quickly were also added digitally.[17] The only time in the film that the Alien itself is portrayed with CGI is a very brief shot of its skull cracking moments before its body explodes through thermal shock.[17]

In 2003, for the Assembly Cut release, 2 shots contained a CGI Xenomorph leaving its oxen host and running off into the prison. The CGI was done by visual effects studio Encore Hollywood.[18]


  • The Dragon is by far the deadliest Xenomorph individual seen in the film series, claiming 25 kills (not counting its host; 15 direct kills and 10 via the toxic waste explosion after it attacked and killed Frank Ellis) during the course of Alien3, plus an additional two in the extended Special Edition. Even discounting the Special Edition, the creature's number of victims is significantly higher than any other Xenomorph in the film series. However, when expanded universe media is taken into consideration, several Xenomorph individuals have claimed higher body counts, such as Mozart and Specimen 6, to name but two.




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