The Greatest Sci-Fi Franchise Of All Time Is Getting A Prequel Series

Noah Hawley, the showrunner of Fargo and Legion, has started work on an Alien prequel series for FX that will take place on Earth before the events of the movie.

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

When it comes to films that re-defined a genre and have had a lasting impact almost 50 years after their original release, the list is very short, but on it is Alien, the 1979 masterpiece. The sci-fi horror film ended up launching a franchise, which has expanded to include the Predator under its umbrella, encompassing sequels, comic books, video games, and even prequel movies. Now, according to reports from Deadline, the long-awaited television series is moving forward later this year.

Under the supervision of Noah Hawley, the writer behind Bones, Fargo, and Legion, the Alien series first announced in 2020, will take viewers to a new and exotic location: Earth. A prequel set at the end of this century, which is roughly when Prometheus takes place, the show will include none of the stars or characters from the previous movies except for the xenomorph itself. No actors have been announced as of yet for the cast, but writing is well underway, with production starting this summer.

FX boss, John Landgraf, described the upcoming television series as “It’s the first story that takes place in the Alien franchise on Earth.” How the series will explain an alien presence on Earth is a mystery, but the Aliens vs. Predators films did allude to the ancient conflict between the species using prehistoric Earth as a hunting ground.

However the explanation comes about, Noah Hawley, an admitted fan of the Alien franchise, has earned the benefit of the doubt based on his past success. Turning a Farrelly brothers comedy in Fargo into an anthology crime series that has won 51 awards is a success. More relevant to Alien, is his work on Legion, the often overlooked X-Men spin-off featuring Dan Stevens as a mutant, with a very unreliable narrator and a strange grasp on reality.

The latest film in the Alien franchise, Alien: Covenant, followed up the controversial film Prometheus and depicted a group of colonists sidetracked from their intended planet, and accidentally bringing a xenomorph on board their ship. The two films, an intended trilogy by original Alien director Ridley Scott, were not the financial success Fox was hoping for; while Prometheus performed well, earning over $400 million worldwide, the sequel made half that number.

A xenomorph from the Alien franchise

With the films of the franchise going through dramatic ups and downs, no one wants to talk about Alien: Resurrection. Is the serialized format of a prestige cable show the right answer? It can’t hurt, and Hawley’s phenomenal track record is starting off the production on the right foot. Casting will play a big part in the success, as will the budget, but most importantly, a series will hinge on how the alien is treated by the writing.

The best parts of the Alien franchise, from the first movie to the stealth game Alien: Isolation, treat the xenomorph as an unkillable, unknowable being. There is no reasoning with it, no hiding, and even if you hurt it, the acidic blood means everyone’s going to die.

The worst parts of the Alien franchise, on the other hand, treat the xenomorphs as cannon fodder, including Alien vs. Predator: Requiem and the horrendous Gearbox title Aliens: Colonial Marines. If the upcoming FX series leans into horror and stops trying to explain the origins of the xenomorphs, it will be a success. It’ll be a while before we know for sure what direction the cast and crew will take, but at least there’s a chance for an amazing new part of the Alien franchise to show why it’s such a revered franchise in the first place.