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I like The Alien trilogy, but the fourth film is total crap (IMO), and I guess the primary reason for this is that I do not see the logic in the cloning process.

So at the end of Alien3 we discover that Ellen Ripley has an alien queen inside of her. Cool. But she then kills her self so...

In Alien 4 Ellen is cloned, but why would that result in a cloned Alien embryo? If you clone a pregnant mother you don't clone the baby, just the mother. Right?

marked as duplicate by tobiasvl, SQB, Community May 30 '17 at 8:23

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  • Additional information can also be found How did they clone Ripley? – Thaddeus Howze Mar 12 '13 at 19:13
  • I always assumed Ripley was pregnant in Alien 3 after sleeping with the Doctor. The Queen had Ripleys baby which is why it had such a strong attachment with her. – user55264 Nov 2 '15 at 20:29

They didn't just clone Ripley, they crossed her genetically with Alien genetic material. The lab obtained Ripley's DNA from blood samples taken at Fiorina 161. Since Ripley was already impregnated when the samples were taken, her blood must have contained some Alien genetic material, since the Alien embryo was sharing her blood supply. Given this blood, the lab could clone Ripley. Also, they could make some educated guesses about the Alien based on the limited DNA fragments, RNA or whatever Alien proteins they managed to scavenge from Ripley's blood. Lacking the ability to clone an Alien directly, they aimed for what their materials allowed, which was to produce an organism already carrying an Alien in situ. Based on Ripley's blood they knew in broad terms what that configuration looked like. Given time, ingenuity, the resources of a state, and computer systems to die for, a working cross-genome could be reverse engineered. Even so, the USM lab didn't have immediate success, as the horrifying failures in tanks 1-7 attested. The lab wasn't necessarily trying to produce a Ripley that was completely human; they were interested primarily in getting the queen embryo right.

  • Does this explain why she keep some of her memories from the original Ripley? – Peter Mar 7 '12 at 8:34
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    @Petoj, yes, that's their explanation. The Aliens have genetically-encoded memories. Ripley's impregnation caused her memories to become genetically encoded also, so her clone retained them. – cjm Mar 8 '12 at 21:40
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    But that isn't how real genes work at all :P Also, @Petoj's original objection still holds: cloning a pregnant mother wouldn't also clone her fetus. DNA is like "building instructions", and the building instructions for the mother don't include the baby! This is just awful, terribly bad science on the scriptwriter's part. – Andres F. Aug 20 '12 at 21:20
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    @Andres Only if the Alien's reproductive process works like ours, and we know from its method of reproduction that it doesn't. The Alien genetic template might be partly empty at implantation time with some details filled in later by nanotech deployed into the victim's nervous system. If you assume Aliens are an engineered bioweapon (and their extreme protean nature only makes sense if you do) then all bets are off as to what it can and cannot do. But, yeah, no big surprise that TV and movies get science wrong. – Kyle Jones Aug 20 '12 at 22:16
  • Could it be that they cloned Ripley in the "normal" way, but also mixed in the Alien DNA, and then got the finished product Ripley pregnant with genetically altered sperm that also contained Alien DNA? So the clone was simply growing the Alien a bit like a human baby, which the scientists then extracted out of Ripley? – Juha Untinen Sep 9 '15 at 10:05

Judging from hints in "Prometheus", it could be correct to say that the presence of alien DNA in the form of an implanted embryo could affect the hosts DNA too, as in "Prometheus" (massive spoiler following):

David poisons Holloway's drink with a strange liquid, and then when Holloway has sex with Shaw (who is infertile), somehow she becomes impregnated, and when she removes it with a c-section it created an odd form of facehugger which later impregnates an engineer to create some form of xenomorph shown at the end of the film. So the only place the xenomorph DNA could have come from is the liquid David used on Holloway. Some time after Holloway is poisoned he begins to break down physically and as with the scene at the start of the film with the sacrificial engineer, we know that whatever these strange liquids are they have the capacity to alter DNA directly and even destroy it into its simplest elements.

IMO whatever way a chestburter develops inside a human (although I don't think they share blood supply since aliens have acid for blood) it shares traces of its own DNA with the host directly merging human and alien DNA

The only reason we haven't seen the affects given to Holloway on chestburster hosts is that they don't survive long enough for this to happen as they die pretty quickly after being impregnated and Holloway ingested PURE xenomorph DNA not influenced by anything else making it work a lot quicker.

So Ripley's blood is capable of giving both her and the queens DNA in one. it was up to the company to figure out what to do with the mutated DNA to make a perfect Ripley and so know how to make a perfect queen (which they failed in doing as Ripley is still part alien and the queen now has a human womb).

Before Prometheus came out I dismissed the science in resurrection as well, but now I can see where it may be possible. Still, definitely the worst of four Alien films. XD

  • I like your answer content-wise, but you should consider reformatting it a bit and add some links to sources. – Sentry Mar 12 '13 at 21:54
  • Also, don't forget that the Aliens always show similarities with their hosts. In Alien 3, we got a Dog-Alien, and then there is also the Predalien ;) – Sentry Mar 13 '13 at 10:35

I can see how it may be confusing at first because you're most likely thinking in terms of human reproduction.

We know that the Xenomorph takes on traits of it's host, this would only work if the embryo and the host shared genetic information somehow, which is exactly what happens. It's never stated that clearly though.

We do see how the effects of the genetic crossover work when the Xenomorph that comes out is different, like the Dog Alien. Alien 4 assumes this crossover works both ways to some degree (between the host and alien).

Seeing how Ripley was pregnant with an Alien, the genetic swapping was already taking place. This means that the Alien was taking on it's usual "human form" and Ripley's DNA now contained some Xenomorph code.

So what the doctors in Resurrection really had was a Xenomorph/Human hybrid DNA sample, although much more human than alien in ratio. With this, they had enough information to make Ripley AND the queen embryo inside of her in one process (with much iteration and much trial and error of course).

They did not have access to any part of the alien whatsoever, so this is the only logical possibility.

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