Does the Alien film give any clue as to in which year it takes place? Or do any of its sequels?

If not the exact year then do we have any clues, e.g. 500 years in the future?

  • Is Alien a Christmas movie. Sep 15, 2020 at 9:34

13 Answers 13


From 1976 early screenplay draft, it's 2087 (it's not in the text, BUT in the diagram picture of the galaxy).

diagram of the galaxy from the early draft of Alien

After that, there was no info.

  • 14
    If I read the that hand written comment right, 2087 is just a lower bound. That is, when the systems were colonised, but it doesn't mean that this is the date when the events in Alien took place. So, +1 for the reference and -1 for conclusion.
    – bitmask
    Dec 1, 2012 at 15:20
  • ... for a person who's concerned about the answer-edit-count, you sure like to rollback ;)
    – bitmask
    Dec 1, 2012 at 19:07
  • @bitmask - lol I rolled it back to your version, so quit complaining Dec 1, 2012 at 19:08
  • I'm not complaining, I'm just confused about the double (and hence cancelling) rollback, that's all.
    – bitmask
    Dec 1, 2012 at 19:10
  • @bitmask - I misread the diff the 180 opposite way :) Dec 1, 2012 at 23:15

According to IMDb, Ellen Ripley was born in the year 2092 in Olympia, Luna. In 2122 she was employed as Warrant Officer for the Weyland-Yutani corporation and was third in command on the USCSS Nostromo. So, if you factor in the round trip, the film takes place in about 2127.


According to the factbook "Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual", the events of the film Alien took place in the year 2122.

"Okay — the initial encounter took place over 57 years ago; reference 6/3/2122. Most of the information we have here comes from the record of the woman Ripley's testimony to the ICC inquiry earlier this year — the full transcripts are in the first appendix to your briefing notes. The veracity of Ripley's account may be the subject of some discussion; though we can assume her story to be generally true, some of the specifics are almost certainly inaccurate or at least exaggerated, unfortunately, corroborating data is not available, for reasons which will become apparent later."

  • 1
    Are you sure you read that right? Isn't it that the text was written in 2122 and hence the events happened 57 years before, 2065? This would then be closer to the date in the accepted answer. Mar 5, 2016 at 20:32
  • @Wikis - That was my first though, but the next paragraph clearly states that... "The Nostromo is an M class starcruiser registered to the Weyland-Yutani Corporation out of the US state of Panama. Refitted as a commercial towing vehicle in 2116, the Nostromo has largely been employed running automated ore and oil refineries between the Sol system and 20 Reticuli."
    – Valorum
    Mar 5, 2016 at 20:45
  • 2
    Apparently the Alien Legacy DVD included as a special feature a set of crew profiles (allegedly based on character notes Ridley Scott came up with) that listed significant dates in their lives, all the info from that seems to be posted here. It shows them as having started serving on the Nostromo in 2120, so that would be consistent with the date from the Technical Manual as well.
    – Hypnosifl
    Mar 12, 2016 at 4:19

When Ripley was picked up by the salvage team at the beginning of Aliens (part 2 of the saga), she had been in a 57-year cryo-sleep. When Burke informs her that her daughter died, just 2 years earlier at age 66, the DECEASED date on her daughter's picture reads 12.23.20. As far as I've seen, there is at no other time, a hint of a date given.



January 7th - Ellen Ripley is born in Olympia, Luna, UA.


May 15th - Dallas graduates from Mercaton flight academy.


May 23rd - Kane graduates with honours from Weatherly Private School.


M-Class Starcruiser Nostromo (180924609) constructed.


June 24th - Amanda Ripley is born


USCSS Nostromo refitted as a commercial towing vehicle.

December 21st - Ripley completes the Weyland-Yutani Horizons Beyond program with honours.


January 4th - Dallas is given command of USCSS Nostromo (flight status B).

January 5th - Kane and Lambert are assigned to the USCSS Nostromo as Executive Officer and Navigator respectively.

January 7th - USCSS Nostromo leaves the Solomons bound for Thedus.

August 10th - Ellen Ripley joins crew of USCSS Nostromo en route to Thedus, as Warrant Officer.

September 10th - Parker and Brett join the crew of the USCSS Nostromo en route to Thedus, as Engineer and Engineering Tech respectively.


April - USCSS Nostromo arrives at Thedus and commences cargo loading.

June 12th - USCSS Nostromo leaves Thedus with 20,000,000 tonnes of mineral ore, bound for Earth. Her science officer is replaced with Ash.


June 3rd - 6th - USCSS Nostromo encounters what is assumed to be a distress signal emanating from the planetoid designated LV-426, in the Zeta-2-Reticuli system. Captain Dallas, Executive Officer Kane, and Navigator Lambert investigate a derelict spacecraft that contains the fossilised remains of an unknown alien species, and thousands of Xenomorph eggs. One of the Xenomorph spore (‘facehugger’) attaches itself to Kane’s face and plants an embryo in his throat, which then hatches, killing the host.

Source material


second source material

There is also this source that is practicly the same as my original source except for the Construction of the Nostromo wich in the second source they said it was built in 2116 instead of beeing refitted as a commercial towing vehicle after its original construction in 2101.

  • 1
    That's some mighty fine copying and pasting.
    – Valorum
    Jun 13, 2016 at 6:16
  • and with the source material to proove it ;)
    – Rocket
    Jun 13, 2016 at 13:07
  • 3
    The problem with a wiki is that it's fan-written. I could, if I so chose, go into your source and change it so that it says whatever I've made up out of my own head.
    – Valorum
    Jun 13, 2016 at 13:09
  • then simply downvote me ;)
    – Rocket
    Jun 13, 2016 at 13:09
  • 1
    You might want to have a read through this meta answer relating to primary and secondary sources of information.
    – Valorum
    Jun 13, 2016 at 13:17

As Ripley joins the USCSS in 2120 on the Nostromo cruise , and lands on LV-426 ( Moon which is one of the Xenomorph planets ) in 2122 , June 3rd . Action seen in the film takes place on June 4th , Ripley manages to kill the Queen Xenomorph even though it escapes with her in the small shuttle . Ripley returns to hypersleep with the spaceship cat Jonesey and they head back home for earth . So 2122 is whe n the first Alien film is set .

  • 4
    Do you have sources for your claims?
    – Kyle Jones
    Dec 1, 2012 at 3:39
  • 2
    Here is a timeline which corroborates this: prometheus-movie.com/community/forums/topic/1727
    – MPelletier
    Dec 1, 2012 at 22:32
  • 5
    Ripley didn't kill a Queen in the first movie, it was only 1 xenomorph. She killed the Queen years later, after her over-long extended cryo-sleep with the cat.
    – Mickey
    Dec 27, 2012 at 22:01

People seem to forget when Ripley is questioning Burke about sending the colonists to the ship she says " I just checked the logs signed Burke Carter J 6/12/79 So USA Date I'm assuming would be 12th June 2079.

  • 6
    Why not 2179, 2279, 2379, 2479, etc?
    – Valorum
    Feb 7, 2014 at 22:05
  • 5
    But since she's been in cryo sleep for 57 years that would make Alien set in 2022. On the other hand if it's 2179 that would tie in with WikiMad10789's answer of 2122.
    – Alan
    Feb 7, 2014 at 22:16

I wondered the same thing and this is what I found when I cross-referenced Alien to Prometheus since Prometheus is a 'Prequel' to Alien.

Time and Setting
Most of Prometheus takes place in the last week of the year 2093, between Christmas and New Year's Day (the events on Earth take place in 2089) -- a full 28 years before the events in Alien.
Connections With Alien - Prometheus Wiki Guide - IGN

Therefore, the conclusion is that the Alien setting is in 2121 :)


I don't think there is a definitive answer.

2134 can be derived from the 2/17/34 date shown in Dallas's crew dossier in ALIENS (scrolling behind Ripley) for the departure of the Nostromo from "LNB-14 via the Solomons CT" (which seems to be another designation for Thedus.) Since Ripley drifted in space for 57 years, that would put the events of ALIENS in the year 2191.

Some fans and publications set the Nostromo misadventure in 2122 by taking a cue from a line by Ripley in ALIENS.

In the scene where Ripley confronts Carter Burke with her knowledge that he sent a "Company Directive" to the colony, directing them to inspect a location he suspects will yield something valuable, a location that turned out to be where sat the damaged alien derelict.

The ALIENS novelization puts the date of the Directive at 5/13/79 (pg 364 on my mobile app), while movie dialog puts it at 6/12/79 (see time index 001:21:55).

Either way, this seems to put ALIENS in '79, which puts ALIEN in '22. If ALIENS was set in 2179, then ALIEN would have been set in 2122.


The setting was 2/17/34 (2134). This is sourced from the first 20 minutes of the movie Aliens. During Ripley's ass-chewing by the department, the screen shows the pictures of the crew one by one. The date 2/17/34 is displayed for the 2 crew members shown as (I'm assuming deceased). Others follow but not readable.

Ripley then yelled at Burke about sending colonists to check out the alien ship on 6/12/79. Considering the age of that actor I'm assuming that date wasn't too long before Ripley caught Burke. So there's two possible dates to consider.

Prometheus started New Years day, 2094. Considering the 2093 setting of Prometheus (prequel to Alien) the likely year for Alien is 2134AD. Add 57 years to that from Ripley's cryo-sleep and it appears the year for Aliens is 2191AD

Or the next century. Or the next. But Prometheus' setting was definitely 2093 for most of movie.

  • Looks like you wanted to edit the original answer but created a new one by mistake. Please delete the original. Please also add a screenshot. Feb 21, 2015 at 10:25

Alien takes place in 2122 as listed above and numerous licensed sources (original DVD release, Colonial Marines Tech Manual, The Weyland-Yutani Report, a number of comics and novels).

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. As you note, most of those sources are already cited, many with specific quotes. As it stands this answer doesn't add anything; please don't add additional answers unless you can provide new details nobody else has covered. Perhaps some concrete quotes from the comics? Please read How to Answer.
    – DavidW
    Mar 18, 2021 at 4:51

The Alien Universe Timeline website's "2069-2123" page places the events seen in Alien in 2122. This is based on the Flight Plan in an Alien DVD Easter egg, written by Charles De Lauzirika, who went on to produce the Alien Anthology and Prometheus Blu-ray sets.


The film Alien (1979) takes place in the year 2079 a.d. This is the answer because in the old Rolling Stone magazine issue about Alien in 1979, the screenwriters say that it is the 2070's on earth. Then the screenplay says that humanity is just beginning to explore the stars.

Also, in a Time and/or Newsweek article, Veronica Cartwright says that the film takes place, say, about a 100 years in the future. Director Ridley Scott also states that the film could take place any year into the future, but also, say, 100 years ahead.

What fictional future date makes more sense? 2079, or say 2122? In the film, the computer keyboard is like a 20th century's keyboard. Also 2079 makes sense with the still future machine gun technology of its sequel Aliens (1986).

Also its prequel, Outland (1981), takes place in the year 2061. And it's most likely sequel Total Recall (1990) takes place in the year 2084 a.d.

Finally, 20th Century Fox, which made the films, officially went with the 2079 date for 20 years, from 1979 to 1999, before they officially changed their position on the year.

So, the best and most realistic official date for Alien (1979) is 2079 a.d. And therefore, one would have to reimagine the future date for the latest Alien film, Prometheus (2012).

  • 6
    How is Total Recall a sequel to Alien? >_>
    – jono
    Aug 4, 2013 at 12:31
  • 4
    Outland is not a prequel to Alien. For example, the Company in Outland is Con-Amalgamated. Feb 7, 2014 at 21:43
  • 2
    “What fictional future date makes more sense? 2079, or say 2122? In the film, the computer keyboard is like a 20th century's keyboard.” The QWERTY keyboard has been around since 1873, and it’s still going strong today, in 2014. I don’t think the keyboards in Alien are any less believable as 2122’s keyboards than they are as 2079’s keyboards. See also scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/37899/… Feb 7, 2014 at 23:29

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