It seems established that the Prawns are a hive-mind type of society so I would think they would be cohesive enough that there wouldn't be many internal conflicts, at least those that would require violence to resolve. I would also presume that if the hive-mind structure were to fracture as it did in the movie you wouldn't want there to be such destructive weaponry around to be used by individuals.

Given that the weapons were pretty darn destructive why else would you bring them on a interstellar voyage? Wouldn't that be a bit like Earth astronauts bringing a grenade launcher to the Moon?

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    You say that, but earth cosmonauts did bring guns in the Soyuz
    – CBredlow
    Sep 29, 2016 at 18:00
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    This also assumes that all prawns that have ever existed are in the same hive mind. Now, I haven't seen the movie since it was in theaters, but I wouldn't bet against there being multiple 'colonies' of prawn (if not on Earth, then on their home planet). Sep 29, 2016 at 18:05
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    You can't just call aliens Prawns, that a really offensive anti-Poleepkwa slur.
    – user20155
    Sep 29, 2016 at 22:01
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    @CBredlow As I understand it, that was so that in case they landed in Siberia they could fend off Polar Bears until rescue arrived.
    – SGR
    Sep 30, 2016 at 7:06
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    "Christopher" and his son don't appear to have hive-minds. They are extremely intelligent and independent thinkers and take some pains to conceal the fact. I don't think the prawns are being completely honest with us. Sep 30, 2016 at 11:37

7 Answers 7


If you're heading into a situation where you know there are no hostile forces--as we did with going to the Moon--then why bother taking weapons? All they would do is add mass to the launch vehicle and be a useless encumbrance for the astronauts.

The situations where you take weapons are two in number:

  • When you know that there are hostile forces
  • When you don't know what's there.

Unfortunately, the possible existence of these situations means that we don't know if there are other alien races out there in the District 9 universe. The existence of such races was unimportant to the plot, therefore the matter is not even discussed.

  • 1
    Valorum answered the question I should have asked. This answers the question that I actually asked. Sep 29, 2016 at 19:46
  • @Cradle2theGabe, as long as you got the answers or answers that you needed, I'm a happy camper. :) Sep 29, 2016 at 20:15
  • The ship in District 9 is massive, city sized, and capable of hovering for months. It doesn't appear to use traditional propulsion technology. I don't think they care about a little extra mass.
    – Schwern
    Sep 30, 2016 at 2:11
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    Situation 3: You really like weapons.
    – OrangeDog
    Sep 30, 2016 at 11:32
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    Situation 4: You're unsure whether or not your technology is fit for purpose, and want to give your explorers some extra insurance against the possibility of a slow, agonizing death.
    – aroth
    Sep 30, 2016 at 15:09

According to an interview that the film's director (Neil Blomkamp) did for Io9.com, there are definitely other life-forms out there, aside than the Prawns and the humans.

The other thing is that the ship was meant to clip together with other ships. So there's, like, vast amounts of resources that they're bringing to the parent planet. And the ship, when the army generals or the queen of that particular ship died off by some sort of virus or bacteria that they picked up on some other planet, that killed them off.

And it didn't effect these sort of resilient, hardy sort of drone workers. Then the technology is usually the thing that they relied on to save them, but in this case it sort of screwed them because it brought them to a planet that kind of treated them pretty badly, but it was the ship that realized that, unless it gets to a life sustaining planet everything is going to die, which is a cool idea. So the ship just autopilots to the closest one in the Goldilocks band, and it's our planet and then pulls up and hits the brakes.

District 9's Director Tells Us All About His Alien Back Story

Obviously bacteria don't need to be kept at bay with guns and mech-suits, but the simple fact that single-celled organisms can be found in our galaxy would strongly imply that there are other higher lifeforms as well.

As regards the possibility that the weapons are for use against their own kind, that seems extremely unlikely.

The hive mind [concept] is the most important thing to me, because I love the idea of a civilization that can build all of that technology and then, at the same time, just have a massive population that was just drones that needed direction, and were absolutely incapable of building that stuff on their own. I found that to be a really interesting concept. Also, it sort of explains why they don't turn on the humans. Individually, they may be feeling oppressed, but they don't have it together enough to form a resistance and back one another. So I found that really interesting.

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    I'm realizing that I should have asked my question differently because this answer is really what I was getting at even though this is word of god rather than inferences from the movie itself. I had thought the weapons angle was the best way to entertain the concept. Sep 29, 2016 at 19:45
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    I assume those spelling errors in the quotes are in the original, but they're really jarring.
    – Glen_b
    Sep 30, 2016 at 6:26
  • @Glen - it's a transcript so I've no compunction about correcting it :-)
    – Valorum
    Sep 30, 2016 at 7:38

Wouldn't that be a bit like Earth astronauts bringing a grenade launcher to the Moon?

It could be like Europeans bringing guns and cannon to the New World.

Our trip to the Moon was just to see if we could do it. It pushed the edges of our technology. Everything had to be stripped down to make it happen. And we knew there were no little green men there (or Soviets).

In contrast the ship in District 9 is enormous. City sized. And it can float indifferently for months. Its hull is so thick it takes considerable effort to cut through. They've obviously been a space-faring civilization some time. They're not too concerned about weight. It's not a lunar lander getting three people to the Moon and back, it's a Galleon taking a small city.

What was the purpose of that ship? We don't know. But if it had the intent of exploring or gathering resources, those weapons could be for the inhabitants. We're the natives who get gunned down.

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Given that their weapons were built in such a way that you had to be a Prawn to use them suggests that their weapons were at risk of being used by some other tool-using species – else why add such technology? And unless they were built specifically with the intention of coming to Earth, it suggests that this other species isn't us humans.


Having a hive-mind structure does not imply that the weapons are for outsiders. Odds are, there is more than one hive - and take it from bees and ants, different hives generally don't 'play nice' with each other.

  • They do seem to have one hive, though.
    – Adamant
    Sep 30, 2016 at 19:17
  • Also, is this also you? If you happen to have made two accounts, you can merge them by following this instructions here.
    – Adamant
    Sep 30, 2016 at 19:19

Is there a species on Earth that does not fight with other members/groups of it's own kind? Can a species evolve and totally dominate a world without developing weapons of some sort?

The answers to both of these are no, therefor, the Prawn having weapons do not imply there are other hostile species out there.

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    In regard to your second question I think they could given the hive-mind nature of their species. Sep 29, 2016 at 19:02
  • @Cradle2theGabe ant hives have extensive wars with each other. Unless there has only ever been one hive then war seems likely
    – user20310
    Sep 29, 2016 at 19:32
  • @user20310 I take your point but I'm really asking why weapons would be brought on a space voyage more so than why weapons would exist at all. Sep 29, 2016 at 19:38
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    @Cradle2theGabe I don't see that there needs to be an explanation for bringing weapons into space. Even if nothing is hostile you still might them for hunting or whatever.
    – Durakken
    Sep 30, 2016 at 11:20
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    I'd hazard a guess that conflict might be a prerequisite to the kind of intelligence required for a technological civilization. To get the kind of massive, unbridled progress humans had, you need to always be in some sort of conflict with someone as smart as you are - a positive feedback loops that keeps requiring you to be smarter and smarter. This happens with pretty much every single animal on Earth to an extent - even grazers fight for their pastures. It might be that you'd be able to have that sort of competion with a different species as well, but it's certainly simplest with just one.
    – Luaan
    Sep 30, 2016 at 11:21

You miss a very simple possibility that the thing you think as a weapon can actually be a tool. Primarily used for cleaning debris, or welding, or protecting from predators, or whatever. But used as a weapon when such a need arises.

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    I was thinking of making that argument myself, but some of the Prawn tech in District 9 is definitely militarized and should be considered a weapon first and foremost.
    – Danikov
    Sep 30, 2016 at 14:20
  • Agree with Danikov. Though I recall there was some sort of gravity gun, and the mech seemed to have some kind of similar capabilities which could be used in that respect. Sep 30, 2016 at 16:50

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