I just watched John Carpenter's The Thing, and also the 2011 version.

One thing I can't work out is if The Thing was the pilot of the space ship, or a passenger. It's possible there is no in-universe definitive answer, but I'm open to suggestions.

My original assumption (based on the 1982 movie) was that it was a passenger, and that the ship crashed because there was nobody left able to fly it. But the 2011 movie makes me question that assumption.

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    According to the wiki, the 2011 prequel had unfilmed scenes showing the aliens piloting the UFO as well as various (opened) containers. The implication being that the Thing was something that he been collected by the crew on a survey mission (or that it was some kind of bio-weapon). Either way, not a pilot or a passenger. thething.wikia.com/wiki/The_Thing's_UFO – Valorum Sep 18 '16 at 23:11
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    I guess by "passenger" I mean anything other than pilot. So "bio-weapon", "collected specimen", or "prisoner" would also count. – nedlud Sep 20 '16 at 6:23
  • @nedlud: Not to forget "uninvited passenger", or maybe even "parasite" (?) – O. R. Mapper Sep 22 '16 at 4:08
  • According to that wiki link, it sounds like nobody really knows anything in either version. (except for those last two possibilities) – Z. Cochrane Sep 23 '16 at 23:07

Taking John Carpenter's "The Thing" as the definitive version, as anyone would, it appears to be the pilot. The spaceship approaches Earth, it lands intact (as seen at the Norwegian's dig), and a single body was found. It was the pilot, if there was a pilot.

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    By "lands intact" you presumably meant "ploughs into the ground at high speed". – Valorum Sep 24 '16 at 0:04
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    if you refer to the short story "Who Goes There" and the original movie, i agree that the alien was the pilot. – SteveED Sep 24 '16 at 1:44
  • Given that there seem to have been no other occupants of the ship, I guess it must have been the pilot (unless the ship was on auto pilot). It's also possible The Thing assimilated the original pilot species, which still makes it the pilot in the end. – nedlud Sep 25 '16 at 2:34

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