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There have been alien abduction stories for a long time. The aliens that kidnap people may be short gray humanoids with huge eyes, green-scaled lizard people, blond space Nazis, or even bicardiate human aliens with attachment issues.

But there is one thing that aliens want more than anything else (except perhaps world domination).

They want to probe people. Aliens are frequently portrayed as inserting instruments into the human body, or some orifice thereof, presumably in order to obtain information.

This may have its roots in real-life accounts of alien abductions. Regardless, what was the first science fiction story where aliens probed humans?

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    Now, that's a probing question! – pleurocoelus Apr 27 '16 at 12:04
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    Don't google alien probing if you are searching for an answer. LOL. – apollo Apr 28 '16 at 9:10
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TL;DR: Depending on your definition of "alien probe", it was either Invaders From Mars (1953) or an episode of The Outer Limits called The Invisibles (1964).

Barney Hill:

It seems the first real-life claim of alien probing was made by a man named Barney Hill. Hill considered his story non-fiction, I know, but bear with me.

In January, 1964, Hill underwent a hypnosis session, and it was then that he first claimed that he and his wife Betty had been abducted by aliens. He first mentioned the probing thing at a later session, on February 22 of that year, and although the hypnosis session took place in 1964, it wasn't published until much later.

The Twilight Zone:

Here's where it gets interesting: In the February 22 hypnosis session, Hill said the aliens were wearing black jackets.

Here's a picture of the aliens from the Twilight Zone episode Black Leather Jackets:

enter image description here

When did this episode air, you ask? On January 31, 1964. Hill's aliens-in-black-leather-jackets story came less than a month later. Prior to January 31, Hill had mentioned aliens, but not leather jackets. Coincidence?

The Outer Limits:

On February 22, Hill also mentioned an anal probe for the first time. Here's a screen cap from an episode of The Outer Limits titled The Invisibles:

enter image description here

And another:

enter image description here

These images show agents of a shadowy organization called The Invisibles injecting someone with a crab-like alien parasite - basically, an alien probe.

When did this episode air, you ask? February 3, 1964. Hill's account of his own anal probe was made 19 days later. Coincidence?

It isn't strictly relevant here, but it is worth mentioning that a number of elements from Hill's February 22 account bear clear similarities to the February 10 and February 17 episodes of The Outer Limits as well.

Thus, the first real-life alien probe story was based on The Invisibles, which depicted one of the first alien probes in fiction.

Invaders From Mars:

I say "one of the first" because there might be one earlier example.

In the 1953 film Invaders From Mars, a woman is injected with a mind-control device through the back of the neck by a comically enormous machine with a needle attached.

enter image description hereenter image description here

Predictably, Hill claimed that his wife had suffered the attentions of a similar device, although in his story, the needle entered her navel. If you consider the scene from Invaders From Mars to be a probe, then this is probably the first example of an "alien probe" in fiction.

Conclusion:

Basically, Hill liked his alien-based science fiction, and he composed his own story by copying elements of a movie, an episode of The Twilight Zone, and three episodes of The Outer Limits. All he did was take a needle in the neck and make it a needle in his wife's belly, and take an alien parasite on a guy back and make it an alien probe into his own butt. From such lowly origins, a comedy trope was born.

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    In Planet Comics 43, July 1946, Marcia Reynolds is abducted by aliens and, on p. 16, given a thorough medical examination: "THEN THE TESTS . . . TESTS BY HEAT, BY COLD, BY STRESS . . . NEUROSCOPES, KINETOGRAPHS, MACHINES AND SCREENS TO PROBE BODY AND MIND . . ." But we don't actually see any slender instrument inserted in her body, and for all we know the word "probe" is used here in a general sense meaning "investigate", so I can't offer this as an answer, only a comment. – user14111 Apr 29 '16 at 8:42
  • @user14111 - Interesting. I'm guessing that "machines and screens" means that "probe" meant "study" in this case. – Wad Cheber Apr 29 '16 at 8:45
  • In Planet Comics 47, March 1947, in the first panel on p. 14, not Marcia Reynolds but another kidnap victim of the same aliens, an unnamed human-looking female, has three tubes sticking into her head. – user14111 Apr 29 '16 at 8:55
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A Dramatic UFO Encounter in the White Mountains, New Hampshire: The Hill Case. Sept. 19-20, 1961 by Walter N. Webb, circa 1965.

The examiner then picked up a long needle and explained to Mrs. Hill that it was a pregnancy test and would not hurt. She asked him what kind of a pregnancy test could he perform with the needle. He did not reply and suddenly inserted the needle in her navel. She felt a sharp pain which completely surprised both men. The leader quickly bent over Mrs. Hill, passed his hand over her eyes, and at once the pain disappeared. Mrs. Hill felt very grateful to the leader for this and began to trust him for the first time. The leader said they had not known she would suffer pain from the test; if they had known, they would not have performed the test. Mrs. Hill declared the needle was no pregnancy test.


[The concept of "probing"] had to have developed after 1964, when under hypnosis Betty and Barney Hill claimed to have been subjected to surgical examination (Betty claimed a needle entered her naval) during a 1961 alien abduction. – Who Was the First Person to Receive an Alien Anal Probe?Jason Colavito

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Communion (1989)

enter image description here

In the film Communion, Christopher Walken is abducted by aliens who decide to experiment on him. Here is their silver probe.

enter image description here

This is probably one of the earliest depictions of alien probing, at least in the sense in which we think of it today. It was based on a nonfiction book of the same name written by Whitley Strieber, a true believer, who asserted that he had been abducted and probed in much the same manner as Walken's character.

This is distinctive because in this case the probing is specifically to obtain information, rather than to inject a device or something similar.

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