Ellen Louise Ripley is the main protagonist of the first three Alien films. She was initially the third officer aboard the USCSS Nostromo, a starfreighter owned by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. In 2122, the ship was redirected to the planet LV-426 where the crew discovered an alien life-form. This creature, known as a "Xenomorph", went on a killing spree aboard the Nostromo. Ripley was the only member of the crew to survive this incident after managing to set the ship to self-destruct before fleeing in an escape shuttle. However, this was only the beginning of her nightmare as she would have other encounters with Xenomorphs in the future.
Ripley was portrayed by Sigourney Weaver.
In 2122, the Nostromo was diverted from its standard freight run to the planet LV-426 in response to a distress signal. What the ship's crew did not know was that the signal was actually a warning, telling other vessels to stay away due to the presence of a dangerous alien organism. Weyland-Yutani were apparently already aware of the life-form's existence and redirected the Nostromo under the pretense of responding to an SOS, but in truth, the company wanted the Nostromo crew to recover the alien specimen.
When the Nostromo landed on LV-426, the crew discovered the wreckage of a starship. Among the wreckage were several alien eggs, one of which hatched, releasing a facehugger that attacked the ship's first officer Kane, breaching his helmet and grappling onto his face. The crew then returned to the Nostromo in order to try and remove the creature from Kane, but they soon found that they had no means of taking off without potentially killing Kane in the process. However, after a few hours, the creature let go of its own volition and died immediately after. Kane regained consciousness a short while later and so he joined the rest of the crew for a meal before they went into hypersleep for the long journey back to Earth.
While the crew were dining, Kane suddenly went into convulsions, falling onto the dining table and writhing in agony. As the others watched in panic, an alien creature tore its way out of Kane's sternum, killing him. The serpentine creature then quickly dashed away. Concerned about the damage that the creature could do, Ripley and the other members of the crew decided to try and track the creature down. Using motion scanners, they searched the ship for the alien, but during this time, the creature had already grown and matured into a full-fledged Xenomorph drone. Now the alien was hunting; it first killed Samuel Brett and then took Captain Dallas.
With Dallas gone and Kane already dead, command fell to Ripley. Despite their casualties, she elected to continue with Dallas' plan of driving the alien from the air vents where it was hiding, into the Nostromo's main airlock and blasting it into space. At the same time, Ripley had grown suspicious towards Ash, who claimed to have no useful information to give her regarding the creature, despite the length of time he had spent examining the dead facehugger. Determined to find answers, Ripley accessed the ship's MU/TH/UR AI and learned of "Special Order 937", a secret directive given to Ash by Weyland-Yutani tasking him with recovering a Xenomorph specimen at any cost.
When Ripley confronted Ash in the ship's mess he assaulted her, but before he could kill her he was decapitated by Dennis Parker, revealing him to be an android. Ripley reconnected Ash's remains and interrogated him, and the truth became clear — Weyland-Yutani had deciphered the transmission coming from LV-426. They knew of the Xenomorph and sent the ship there to recover one of the creatures, with Ash placed on board to ensure that this happened. Confronted with this knowledge, Ripley elected to destroy the ship by detonating its engines while she, Parker, and Lambert would take their chances in the escape shuttle Narcissus. Now that they were reduced to only three, there was a good chance they could survive long enough to be rescued.
Ripley prepared the shuttle while Parker and Lambert gathered the spare oxygen tanks necessary to sustain them on the journey. After heading back onto the Nostromo to retrieve her cat Jones, Ripley heard the alien attacking Parker and Lambert over the ship's intercom; she rushed to help, but arrived too late, finding only their bloody corpses. Now alone, Ripley activated the Nostromo's self-destruct before racing for the Narcissus. Finding the alien blocking her path, she returned to the self-destruct and attempted to deactivate it, but missed the five-minute window for stopping the countdown by mere seconds. With the ship now heading for certain destruction, Ripley returned to the Narcissus, found the alien gone, climbed aboard and launched, moments before the Nostromo's engines detonated and destroyed it in a spectacular explosion.
As Ripley prepared to enter hypersleep, she discovered, to her horror, that the alien had in fact hidden aboard the Narcissus with her. After hiding in a cupboard, she silently slipped into a spacesuit and confronted the creature one final time, blasting it out of the airlock before shooting it with a harpoon gun and incinerating it in the shuttle's engines. With the monstrous creature finally dead, Ripley recorded a distress message detailing the fates of her ship and crew, and entered hypersleep for the journey home.
57 years after her fateful encounter with the alien, Ripley's shuttle was discovered by Weyland-Yutani and Ripley herself was awoken from hypersleep. After awakening, she learned that her daughter and all the family she had known had passed away during her record-breaking stasis period. Still haunted by what had occurred aboard the Nostromo, Ripley was diagnosed with PTSD and comorbid generalised anxiety. Skeptical about her story regarding the Nostromo's destruction, Weyland-Yutani dismissed Ripley, revoking her flight status and stripping her of rank.
Some months later, Ripley was living on Earth where she had found work as a Power Loader operator. However, the terror of the past would catch up to her again when she was approached by Carter Burke, a representative from Weyland-Yutani. Twenty years before Ripley's rescue, Weyland-Yutani had established the colony of Hadley's Hope on LV-426, the moon where the Nostromo had discovered a clutch of Xenomorph eggs. Having recently lost contact with the colony, the company suspected that Xenomorphs might have been involved and wanted Ripley, the only living person with any experience with the aliens, to take part in an investigation. Ripley initially refused, but her fears and her need for closure urged her into joining the mission. She and Burke then joined Lt. Scott Gorman's squad of Colonial Marines aboard the USS Sulaco, but Ripley only joined on the promise that the company would destroy the alien presence and not attempt to capture any specimens.
When the Sulaco arrived in orbit above LV-426, Ripley and the Marines took the dropship Bug Stomper down to the surface. The unit divided in two, with one team investigating the colony itself while the other team searched the atmospheric processing plant. The colony was heavily damaged and appeared to be deserted, but Ripley and the Marines were able to find one survivor: a little girl by the name of Newt, who had been hiding in the ventilation system. Meanwhile, the other team would discover that the processing plant had been converted into a Xenomorph hive and that the colonists had all been taken there. Embedded within the organic resin covering the walls were the colonists, having all been killed after birthing Xenomorph larvae. One survivor was found among them, but died when a Chestburster erupted from her chest. That Chestburster was then incinerated and its death screech awoke the entire hive.
All hell broke loose as the Xenomorphs swarmed Sgt. Apone and his team, taking them one by one. Gorman quickly lost control of the situation and so Ripley took action herself, commandeering the unit's APC and driving it into the hive to rescue the survivors. She succeeded, but most of the team, including Apone, were lost. During their escape, Gorman was incapacitated and the APC was damaged due to contact with the Xenomorph's acid blood. Private Vasquez suggested re-arming and going back to rescue her captured comrades, but Ripley stated that the captive Marines were as good as dead as they were likely being cocooned and impregnated by the aliens. Ripley then suggested that the best course of action would be to destroy the colony with a nuclear strike to wipe out the infestation. Burke attempted to overrule her, countering by mentioning the monetary value of the colony itself and the scientific significance of the Xenomorphs, but Ripley reminded him that, with Gorman unconscious and Apone captured, Corporal Hicks was now in charge of the operation. Hicks agreed with Ripley's plan and ordered Corporal Ferro to pick up the survivors in Bug Stomper for immediate evacuation.
Unfortunately, the Bug Stomper crashed while on its way to pick up the survivors as a Xenomorph had snuck aboard and killed the flight crew. The dropship crashed upon the APC, destroying both vehicles and most of the supplies. Now stranded, Ripley and the others fell back to the colony, setting up automated sentries to fortify their position. Ripley put Newt to bed inside the medical lab, but then she discovered that the colonists had secured a pair of live Facehuggers and were holding them on Burke's orders. Burke had not only lied about exterminating the Xenomorph presence entirely, but Weyland-Yutani had apparently orchestrated the infestation intentionally in order to acquire alien samples for their bioweapons division. Ripley confronted Burke with this information and Burke assured her that she and the other survivors would be rewarded financially if they helped the company, but Ripley refused his offer and swore that he would face justice if he survived to return to Earth.
Later on, while Ripley and Newt were sleeping in the med-lab, Burke released the Facehuggers from their tanks and locked the door to the lab. Fortunately, Ripley awoke before she or Newt fell victim to the alien parasites, calling in the Marines who killed the creatures. Ripley hypothesized that Burke had intended for her and Newt to get impregnated and later put into hypersleep, allowing him to smuggle the Xenomorph specimens inside them through customs. Hicks decided that Burke needed to be executed for his treachery, but as Ripley argued against it, the power suddenly went out. The Xenomorphs had cut the power, and they attacked en masse from above, having slipped into the complex undetected above the false ceilings. In the ensuing chaos, Hudson was captured by the aliens while Burke left, sealing the survivors in Operations behind him, trapping them with the swarming Xenomorphs. Newt led Ripley and the other survivors to safety through the colony's ventilation ducts, although Vasquez and the revived Gorman were cornered by the pursuing Xenomorphs and chose to commit suicide with a pulse rifle grenade rather than be captured alive. The explosion also knocked Newt into a vertical access shaft, separating her from Ripley and Hicks.
Newt found herself in a sewer tunnel beneath the flooring. As Hicks attempted to cut through the floor panels, a Xenomorph drone ambushed Newt and captured her, taking her back to the hive. Ripley refused to abandon her, however, deciding to head into the alien hive and use the tracking device she was wearing to find her. The android Bishop contacted her and warned her that the atmosphere processing plant had suffered damage during the initial ambush on the Marines and that the core would soon go into meltdown, but Ripley was determined to save Newt regardless.
Having earlier been taught how to use a pulse rifle by Hicks, Ripley armed herself and ventured into the processing plant to find Newt. Inside the complex, she discovered that Burke had been captured and was cocooned against the wall. As Burke begged her for help, Ripley handed him a grenade, suggesting that he use it to kill himself before the Chestburster inside him hatched. Ripley soon found Newt and managed to save her from being implanted by a Facehugger, freeing her from her cocoon and leading her through the dark corridors. As they looked for a way out, Ripley and Newt entered what appeared to be a hatchery, filled not only with numerous eggs, but also occupied by the creature that laid them: the hive's queen. As alien guards moved in to attack her, Ripley aimed her flamethrower at the nearest egg, threatening to destroy the queen's brood if her drones came any closer. The drones held back, but as a nearby egg opened up, Ripley incinerated it and then set the whole room ablaze before she ran off with Newt.
Ripley and Newt made it to the plant's landing platform just as the meltdown process had begun. However, the alien queen had followed after severing her ovipositor and reached the platform via a cargo elevator. With no ammunition left, Ripley was prepared to meet her fate, but it was at that moment that Bishop appeared in the Sulaco's secondary dropship. Ripley and Newt were extracted safely and were pleased to also find Hicks on board. As the dropship ascended, the atmospheric processor exploded, unleashing a thermonuclear blast that destroyed the entire colony, eradicating the Xenomorphs.
However, the nightmare was not yet over. The Xenomorph queen had survived by grasping onto the landing gear of the dropship and stowing away. When the dropship arrived in the Sulaco's hangar bay, the queen revealed herself when she attacked and bisected Bishop. Newt tried to hide beneath the floor panels while Ripley ran into a nearby storage bay where she found a power loader exoskeleton. Strapping into the loader, Ripley returned to the hangar and challenged the queen in a final battle to the death. The pair clashed, Ripley eventually gaining the upper hand and throwing the queen into an airlock in the hangar's floor; at the last moment, the queen grabbed onto the Power Loader's frame and dragged the machine in after her.
Ripley quickly scrambled out of the airlock, the queen trapped beneath the power loader. However, before she could reach the Sulaco's deck,the queen grabbed her ankle and attempted to drag her back down and kill her. A desperate Ripley opened the airlock, despite still being inside, and clung to the ladder as the decompression began to vent the Sulaco's atmosphere into space, the queen still clinging to her leg. She shouted for the others to 'hold on' as the ship depressurised. Finally her sneaker came loose, and with it the queen's grip, hurling the Xenomorph to her death somewhere in space. Ripley escaped the airlock and sealed the doors, collapsing exhausted on the floor of the Sulaco's hangar. After recovering and treating Hicks' wounds, Ripley, Newt, Hicks and the damaged Bishop entered hypersleep for the return journey to Earth.
While Ripley, Hicks and Newt were in stasis, disaster struck aboard the Sulaco. While the Xenomorph queen had been jettisoned into space, she had smuggled an egg aboard which had remained unnoticed by the survivors of the Hadley's Hope mission. The egg hatched and released a Royal Facehugger which ended up triggering a fire aboard the ship. The ship's computer responded by ejecting the escape pod with the survivors' cryotubes inside, but the Facehugger had entered the compartment and breached Ripley's cryotube.
The pod would crash-land upon the planet Fiorina 161, the site of a prison and foundry complex run by Weyland-Yutani. The prisoners would recover the pod, finding Ripley still alive, but both Hicks and Newt died in the crash. The damaged android Bishop was also found, but due to his extensive injuries, he was considered unsalvageable and thrown on the scrap heap. During the recovery operation, Spike - the prison's dog - fell victim to the Facehugger, which was still alive even after coupling with Ripley.
Upon coming to, Ripley was informed by the prison's medical officer, Clemens, that Newt and Hicks had perished in the crash. Devastated by this news, Ripley was immediately suspicious that a Xenomorph may have been involved in her ejection from the Sulaco and arrival on the planet, and she had Clemens show her the wreckage of the escape pod. Discovering what looked like an acid burn mark on Newt's cryotube, she insisted an autopsy be performed on the girl's body, believing her to be impregnated with a Chestburster but claiming to Clemens she was potentially carrying a highly infectious strain of cholera. Though he was highly skeptical, Clemens carried out the procedure and found nothing unusual in Newt's body. Even so, Ripley insisted the bodies be cremated.
Following a short funerary service for Hicks and Newt, Ripley was allowed to mingle with the prison population. Her presence was considered to be detremental by several inmates and the Superintendent since the entire inmate population was male and suffered from a double-Y chromosome mutation that resulted in a predisposition for antisocial behaviour. All of the inmates were serving life sentences for brutal crimes such as serial murder and rape, and Ridley's presence was feared to trigger some of the prisoners' darker impulses. As such, Ripley was forced to shave her head and wear the same clothing as the others to better blend in, at least until a rescue ship came for her.
During her time at the prison, Ripley developed a rapport with Clemens which developed into romantic interest. However, before anything could come of this attraction, Clemens was killed by a Xenomorph that had been birthed from the prison dog. The creature had already killed a number of inmates and approached Ripley in the infirmary, but even though Ripley was cornered and had no means of fighting back, the monster spared her. Ripley ran to Andrews to attempt to warn him of the danger, and at that moment the disbelieving Superintendent was dragged into the vents by the creature in full view of the remaining prisoners, finally revealing the Xenomorph to the prison's inhabitants. Learning that Ripley had previously dealt with the creatures, the inmates immediately turned to her for leadership. Ripley and Aaron soon came up with a plan to flush the Dragon from the air vents by burning it out with quinitricetyline, so that it may be trapped in an unused nuclear waste containment tank. The prisoners got to work preparing, but when the Dragon attacked, the fire was accidentally triggered prematurely and numerous inmates were killed, while the creature itself escaped.
As the situation in the prison continued to deteriorate, Ripley became aware of several physical symptoms she was suffering from. Thinking she might have suffered some kind of internal injury during her crash-landing, she pressured Aaron into running a medical scan on her. The scan revealed the terrible truth that Ripley had a Xenomorph embryo inside her, specifically that of a queen. Knowing that she was doomed to die anyway, she decided to go and find the Dragon and let it kill her, believing it would be a faster, less painful death than being torn apart from the inside out. She found the creature in the lower levels, but it knew that she was carrying a queen and would not attack her.
Ripley then went to Leonard Dillon, begging him to kill her before the queen inside her hatched. Dillon angrily refused, knowing that Ripley was the best chance the surviving inmates had of killing the Xenomorph. At her continued insistence, he agreed to fulfill her wish, but only after the Dragon had been destroyed. With little option, Ripley and Dillon convinced the survivors to use themselves as live bait in an attempt to lure the Dragon into the mold at the lead works, where it could be buried in molten lead. After being encouraged by Ripley and Dillon, only Aaron refused to take part, and the remaining prisoners put the plan into action. Most of the inmates were killed, forcing Ripley and Dillon to face the Dragon in the mold. Dillon sacrificed himself to hold the creature back as Ripley escaped, but Morse poured the lead and buried the Xenomorph in the mold. Amazingly, the Dragon survived, leaping from the lead and pursuing Ripley, who finally ended the alien by dowsing it with water from the sprinklers, shattering its mesoskeleton with thermal shock.
Minutes after the Dragon was killed, a Weyland-Yutani ship arrived carrying a team led by Michael Bishop, the man responsible for developing the Bishop line of androids. As Ripley had feared, the company wanted to take her and the alien inside her back to Earth so that they could turn the Xenomorphs into a bioweapon. Although Bishop assured Ripley that he could extract the alien from her safely and allow her to live a normal life, Ripley knew that he was lying. She ran from Bishop's men and, with Morse's help, climbed towards the foundry's furnace. As Bishop continued to plead with her to let him have the alien, Ripley threw herself into the furnace. As Ripley fell, the queen chestburster inside her erupted from her body, only to be incinerated along with her.
Although Ripley had indeed perished at the end of Alien 3, samples of her blood were recovered from Fiorina 161 by Weyland-Yutani. Working with the United Systems Military, they were able to study the remnants of Xenomorph DNA salvaged as a result of cloning Ripley. This process was repeated several times over a period of 200 years, culminating in the birth of Ripley 8, a clone of Ripley that possessed Xenomorph DNA and superhuman abilities as a result. Of course, the military had also managed to create several Xenomorph specimens, inevitably leading to another disaster.