It’s the end of April, that time of year when we set aside a day to honor our mother Earth and raise awareness of ways to ensure that all those dark, dystopian, ruined-enviroment futures that we love to read about never actually come to pass. Let’s face it — science fiction fans have always been environmentally conscious, as seen in numerous movies from ’70s classics like Silent Running (protecting trees) and Soylent Green (recycling) to more recent favorites like Wall-E (reducing waste) and Avatar (general tree- and bunny-huggery).
Being green is just in our nature, I guess, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the variety of strange and alien creatures found in science fiction of all media, including television and comics. The more creative among us have taken the age-old idea of the “little green man from Mars” and expanded upon it, bringing us some pretty memorable characters who are, if not exactly environmentally conscious (or even human), quite literally the right color to represent the Earth’s cause. Here are five of my favorites:
1. Greedo from Star Wars
Poor Greedo. He was just doing his job, trying to collect money owed to his boss, Jabba the Hutt. When he found himself sitting in a booth across from a cocky human smuggler, I’m sure he thought intimidation with a blaster would do the trick. Unfortunately, he learned the hard way not to mess with Han Solo, and now he’s nothing more than a greasy, green stain on the wall of a seedy Mos Eisley bar.
2. The Incredible Hulk
Don’t upset Bruce Banner — you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. Trust me. Due to a radiation overdose, the mild-mannered scientist of comic book, television, and movie fame becomes a huge, muscle-bound, raging monster with green skin, complete with clothes ripped to shreds by his expanding muscles. With the exception of his pants. Somehow, his waist never grows enough to bust the button, and the worst that ever happens is that he ends up with yet another pair of cut-offs. That, my friends, is reason enough to call this hulk “incredible.”
3. The Silurians from Doctor Who
Don’t try to drill too deeply into the Earth’s crust, because you might awaken the Silurians, who are hibernating until such time as they can emerge and take the Earth back from their non-scaly and less colorful human cousins. On the other hand, you could travel back in time to Victorian London and hang out with Madame Vastra and her human partner Jenny, a two-woman criminal butt-kicking team. Like many other fans who saw them in the series six episode “A Good Man Goes To War,” if someone would give them a spin-off series, I’d watch it!
4. The Vinvocci from Doctor Who
These two green aliens blend in as human scientists until the Doctor sees through their disguises as they oversee the “Immortality Gate,” a Vinvocci medical machine designed to bring healing. They mean well, but they didn’t foresee the alterations made to their technology that will soon turn almost everyone on Earth into a clone of the Master. Don’t call them cacti, and don’t ask them to rescue you, either — just ask the Tenth Doctor what it’s like to be wheeled down stairs while strapped to a chair.
5. The Orions from Star Trek
As often as the Star Trek universe is ridiculed for its overabundance of alien races that are practically indistinguishable from humans, I was surprised not to find more with green skin, especially in the original series, as that seems like an easy way to make someone look non-human without resorting to prosthetics. This race appears several times in the original series and again in Enterprise, and they seem to be known for their black market slave trade. Buyer beware, however — pretty soon the owners of these exotic beauties are left wondering who exactly is the slave and who is the master.
BONUS: The Roboform Christmas Trees from Doctor Who
London sure is a dangerous place to be around Christmas time. If aliens aren’t attacking you, the decorations just might. Whether they’re spinning like saw blades and destroying your flat or shooting explosive ornaments into the crowd at your wedding reception, these trees are bad news. Protecting the trees is a noble cause, except in this case. (Yes, I know these aren’t characters or creatures, but they are green and they are also trees, which I think makes them doubly appropriate!)