When the team from Prometheus enters the Engineer's chamber and wakes him up (from a hypersleep of 2000 years), the Engineer wakes up and starts killing everybody without speaking a word. He does not even try to understand what the humans are saying. David tries to speak with him, but the Engineer rips his head off.

His behavior was similar to the Godzilla rather than an Engineer...

I was not able to understand why he goes mad. Why does he kill without reason?

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    I wondered this as well. It seems to me that there was no reason at all to go berserk like he did. He was the last one left, and its not like the humans didn't just bring him out of death-by-stasis (was already there fore a few millennia). Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 15:05
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    He had no choice. They woke him up, but did not offer him any Bacon. To an engineer, not being offered bacon when woken from 10,000 year long stasis-sleep is a grave insult, that must be paid for with having the offender's head ripped off.
    – user6968
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 23:37
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    Engineer didn't like the cornbread either. Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 23:31
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    For the semantically anal: Isn't the title of the question unanswerable? If there is no reason, how can there be a "why"? Let's add "seemingly", take out "no reason", or something to the title? ;-)
    – Mufasa
    Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 18:21
  • 2
    He woke up on the wrong side of the stasis pod. Never try to engage an Engineer who just came out of a millennia-long nap before he's had his space-coffee.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 21:15

15 Answers 15


The movie does not give us a definitive answer. There are many theories that range from:

  1. The Engineers changing their minds about having created us

  2. Rival factions of Engineers, ones who creates, others who destroy

  3. It is all part of a weapons development project and humans are lab rats for testing.

Pick whichever you like, or roll your own.

  • There are a couple other random theories, but this pretty much sums it up. We really won't know the why until the next movie is released (or more supplemental materials, rpgs etc are released), if at all. Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 14:16

My first instincts when that scene happened were this:

I think the Engineer killed everyone because of David. The android might have represented an affront to their bio-engineering sensibilities, or to their standards of morality. David has basically surpassed his creators, and he is communicating with the Engineer -- not the frail humans.

That may be akin to a genetically modified chimp -- think Planet of the Apes -- returning to us from space and have its own AI creation communicate with us rather than the monkeys (because they basically aren't intelligent enough). Now, a person of science would be intrigued. A person of church and deep theocratic faith would be enraged that the chimps would dare to play "God", the role of humanity.

Again, that was my first reaction...


The Engineers missed their mission date 2000 years ago, when human technology was not very advanced. He's awakened, on a military base, on his ship, by an intruding force obviously of a technology far advanced from the one he was getting ready to go wipe out on Earth at the start of the common era.

A military man's only prudent action would be to strike first in an attempt to neutralize the alien, in this case human, threat.

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    I have a hard time believing their killing the humans because they see them as a threat. Look how fast the aliens evolve in a matter of a day. They were developed by the engineers with that exact purpose. The "Engineers" created humans, or so your led to believe in the movie. Is it possible, that the new "aliens" are a greater creation in the engineers mind. So their simply introducing their newest creation into the worlds they travel to.
    – user9106
    Commented Oct 2, 2012 at 16:09

He actually does talk to them in a deleted scene:

Engineer talking to the crew

When the Engineer wakes up and David 8 greets him, he stands up and asks why they have come.

David responds that Peter Weyland wants immortality, and Weyland adds that he has created David like the Engineer's people created humankind, essentially making him a superior being like them.

(David doesn't translate what Weyland says here, however, so I'm not sure how it is understood.)

It sounds like this is what freaks the Engineer out and makes him go ballistic. You can watch the full scene on the Blu-Ray or a rough edit here.

Note: It looks like the rough edit has been modified to pass YouTube copyright filters.


The reaction of the Engineer appeared to be slightly surprised, even amused, and then violent to the humans and their android who awakened him. The Engineer seemed to be disinterested in the reason for their presence and simply took action to eliminate them as an obstacle for what he was about to do, which was to either destroy or invade Earth.

Therefore, the Engineers would appear to have created life on Earth for some self-serving reason and not out of benevolence. Taking this into consideration, the reason for the Engineers to have created life on Earth would be to use Earth humans as lab rats, or slaves, or both. The motive of the Engineers did not appear to have been to create future friends or allies on Earth.

The team from Prometheus greeted the Engineer peacefully. The reaction of the Engineer was violent and hostile. If you extrapolate this reaction to the larger Engineer population, they don't appear to be friendly to Earth humans. This could be an isolated interaction not reflective of the values of the larger Engineer population, but until we see otherwise, caution in interacting with the Engineers would be well advised for the characters played by Earth humans in any future installment of the franchise.

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    You can not extrapolate on a sample size of one. He could just be a mental case or driven mad by cryo-sleep, be terrified of blond androids etc. No way to know
    – user001
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 16:09

Thinking in terms of cinematography, a battle between Engineers spaceships and Predators spaceships would give great footage and sci-fi fans love to see those space battles, with multi-coloured energy beans and particle weapons over a black-space background.

So, I think that the Engineers and the Predators were at war. Then, the Engineers created humans to be either lab rats for bio-weapons in their fight against the Predators (based on the fact Aliens are so deadly to Predators as well) or even as soldiers since humans tend to be very good in killing every other species they meet in sci-fi arena.

On alternate scenario, perhaps Predators themselves were bio-engineered. Don't you feel it is unusual that they love to hunt (as Klingons) and yet achieved such advanced technology? Also, in terms of body height, the same ways Engineers are an over-sized version of humans, there seems to be two sizes of predators. In the 2010 movie Predators, it seems that the larger Predator had captured the smaller one and was torturing him. Since these movies belong to the same mythology, there is surely a connection between these humans/Engineers Smaller / Larger Predators.

Also, in terms of chronology... We know from the movie Alien vs Predator that the several ancient cultures adored the predators, which used to come to Earth to hunt Aliens. The movie suggest an unusual timeline for the carbon dating of the alien body - 2,000 years. That means, around 2,000 years ago the Engineers decided to end life on Earth. This age was inserted in the movie, in my opinion, solely because it is a strong cultural arch-type. 2,000 years ago is believed by billions of Christians to be the time where Jesus lived amongst us.

Was Jesus an Engineer, perhaps trying to teach humans to change their ways and perhaps avoid extinction on a fast approaching judgement day? Was the accident in the WMD Engineer factory a result of accident or it may have been sabotage? By watching the Discovery channel show Mayday I've learned that plane accidents are never due to one single fault. Usually, two or more problems need to occur in a given order for a major failure to occur. A WMD installation was surely designed to be one of the safest factories but somehow it failed. Just like that cyborg at the original movie Alien bypassed the quarantine protocol and let the monster get on board, for hidden agenda motives.

We don't know why Predators loved to hunt Aliens on Earth, but it may be to train against the Engineers bio-weapon. I initially thought that virus is the deadliest thing to end life, but viruses won't break down into deep underground bunkers to go hunt you, but Aliens will do that. So, Aliens may be a more effective bio-weapon than viruses, specially considering they will die when there is no more food around, and the virus won't, and of course, radiation won't.

So, the above introduction leads us to the question at hand again - why did the Engineers wanted to kill all life on Earth? Because we became the training ground for their enemies - The Predators. Because one day, with the aggressiveness we have shown in our history, we would be more deadly than the Predators to the Engineers. We will need to wait for the next movie to find the screenwriters official view.

One last thing, please note that the female doctor was trying to ask the Engineer about the reason why humans were created and the others were becoming increasingly aggressive with her. To the point when the security guard hit her in the belly with a riffle and only then the Engineer starts killing everyone. That goes in line with my theory that humans were too conflicting beings with a past track record of hurting themselves, often for futile reasons, like "I want to know if the makers can fix me, so I won't die of old age". David, may also have said something to provoke the Engineer somehow, but that we won't know, unless you speak their language.

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    I am awarding the bounty to this answer , since he took the most efforts to answer it.. Thank you for the answer dear user... edit: I tried to award you the bounty. .It gives me a popup message - You can award the bounty in 22 hours.. Let me check this tomorrow Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 14:23
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    What. There are no confirmed Predators in the Prometheus universe. In fact, I'm not even sure Predators vs Aliens are canon at all. This answer is completely unsupported speculation...
    – Andres F.
    Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 5:13
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    Ok, definitely getting a -1 from me. Ridley Scott hates the Alien vs Predator storyline, and Prometheus completely ignores those films.
    – Andres F.
    Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 10:50

I have just watched the movie and this is my understanding. The last Engineer in the room who was in cryo-stasis I believe bowed down in front on Weyland as a sign of respect. I had to watch this twice. But Dr. Shaw questioned him and asked why did they create us and then create those things (the black ooze) to destroy us. The Engineer looked confused while he looks at her and then one of Weyland's guys hits her.

Then Weyland instructs David to speak to him in their language and asks him. The Engineer looks at David with amusement, pats his head and then get angry and lifts him up to rip his head off and uses David's head to beat Weyland's head. But he even gets even more angry when he is shot and hits the other humans but front understanding he just beats them and I'm surprised he does not grab any of them and try to rip them apart. He does kill them and just watched as Dr. shaw run away.

Also, if the Engineers were trying to destroy Earth, why didn't it take down the ship Prometheus Titan first before leaving?

When David warned Dr. Shaw about the alien coming after her, why didn't he just beat her or throw her? I think he was trying to understand her.

I think David knows their true intentions and is more advanced than humans. I think the Engineer knew that he had no soul unlike us and that's why he ripped David's head off right after he asked the question for Weyland about giving him life or something like that.

I also think that the Ooze that David acquired was different than the one from Fifield got a hold of. I wonder where those worms came from in the Beginning.

David knows a lot. Out of all the crew in the ship why was he so interested in Dr. Shaws dreams out of everyone? Why did he decide to put that black goo in Dr. Holloway and why not just Ms. Viggers? Or is it Vickers?

Out of the blue, Dr. Shaw is not able to bear any children, I have come across some sites that are spiritual and explain why some women are not meant to have children but of course you take it for what ever it is you believe in. Just like how her father tells her that when you die... It has something to do with whatever it is that you believe in I guess is where you go to.

I kind of enjoyed the movie beacuse it opens up your mind with so many possibilities. It did leaves with so many questions. We all have so much different believes and don't we ever wonder where did we come from and how is it that a simple cell or bacteria can evolve into all this?

I wanted to include the beginning of the first movie. The very first Engineer was in a robe and while his space ship was a disk while the other Engineers ship was shaped like a "C". Also the first Engineer had a robe. Makes us wonder if the one in the robe was a planter and the other one with an armor looking thing was an army of some sort or they could have gotten more advanced?

This movie almost reminds me of Dolores Cannon. If anyone is familiar with her type of work. But to each his/her own. : )


As Jonathan said, we don't have an answer, and probably won't until the next movie, but what I would like to believe is that David said something against Weyland's instruction that led to the attack from the Engineer.

Without a canon reason though, this question could lead to a lot more speculative answers...

  • PS the reason I would like to believe this is because it would make for the most interesting plot in the later movie(s).
    – John
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 17:22
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    thing is, David has no reason or mechanism to disobey Weyland -- David is an inanimate object designed to follow Weyland's orders, just like a toaster is designed to warm bread
    – Shane F.
    Commented Jun 23, 2012 at 18:29
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    @Shane, he had the capability of curiosity and emotion though, as was seen in the movie, which might have been reason enough. We really don't know much regarding his back story.
    – John
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 16:12
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    Curiosity, yes. Emotions, I'm not sure. He does laugh and does do nice things for people, but to me, it felt phony -- and remember the early scene when he admits he is designed to seem human to make real humans more comfortable around him.
    – Shane F.
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 23:13
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    But then why all the interest in Lawrence of Arabia? He obviously identified on a personal level with the movie, and it was outwardly visible that he had feelings about it. Besides, curiosity is an emotion.
    – John
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 23:29

Here's my interpretation of what happened when the Engineer awoke, which is admittedly a bit speculative (but I guess that can't be helped)...

Given the advanced technology and broad knowledge of the Engineers, and the fact that they had clearly been monitoring life on Earth to some degree (thus subsequently deeming us worthy of extinction), it's not too far a stretch to think that they could understand our language(s) to some degree. After the Engineer awakens and stumbles a bit, Shaw is the first to really engage him, and he seems like he is rather calmly paying attention to what she is asking him.

Note the types of questions she asks: Why did you create us? What did we do wrong? Why do you want to destroy us now? These questions come from a place of humility, of wanting to gain knowledge and potentially learn from our mistakes. The Engineer doesn't respond violently to this at all. He just quietly listens.

But before he has a chance to respond (if he intended to), David engages him. It's not clear what David actually says. The presumption is that he's asking if there's a way to extend Weyland's life, which is a selfish and prideful request to be made by a being the Engineer deemed worthy of extinction. David might have been sabotaging Weyland's plans (remember he said something like "Don't we all want to see our parents dead" earlier) and could have said something to intentionally provoke the Engineer, but there's no way to know.

The Engineers response is to caress David's head in a manner that almost seems to say "you poor ignorant creature", after which he proceeds to go on a rampage and kill everyone, but allows Shaw to (at least initially) get away. The Engineer initially shows hesitation in dispatching these humans while listening to Shaw, almost as though he's giving them a chance to see if they've perhaps made something better of themselves. David's comments, whatever they were, appear to have proven to the Engineer that they were still worthy of being wiped out.


A possible answer is found in the original script, by John Spaihts, Alien: Engineers.

Atop the platform the Sleeper moves from one device to the next. Each comes alive: he is a wizard in his own kingdom.
Watts sees haloes of light dancing in the air around him.
But what he learns from his machines does not comfort him. He grows distraught. Keening to himself in near-subsonic tones.
DAVID steps forward.
Calls to the Sleeper in the tongue of the Engineers.
The Sleeper turns in astonishment. He looks down at DAVID and answers in the same tongue. He is angry, accusing. He points at DAVID, at the humans. Tones of accusation.


Later, Watts has a conversation with David's head.

I spoke to him. Spoke to him.

I know.
An electric spasm convulses his face.

He said. I killed him. He’ll die. But first. He will launch. The ship.

The Juggernaut?

Send it. To Earth.

Something in the process of bringing the Engineer back ensured his death. Given an alien explodes out of the Engineer's chest in a later scene, the most likely case is that the hibernation was intended to kill the alien off within him, or perhaps to allow an outside party to remove it before bringing him back to life. As the humans have not done so, they've signed his death warrant, which warrants their death.

Which likely was not much of a stretch given that script also established that the aliens were a bioweapon that the Engineers intended to use on Earth.

Given the massive number of changes between the original script and the one that was developed and released, this explanation doesn't necessarily explain why the action happened in ''Prometheus'', but it does explain why the scene was originally written as it was.


Jesus Christ is an Engineer.

You read that right — Jesus Christ, the head of Christianity, the largest religion on Earth, is an Engineer, according to Ridley Scott, Prometheus director.

According to Ridley Scott, Engineer Jesus was sent by his fellow Engineers to Earth as an emissary to calm down the humans who were "misbehaving" and had "gone out of control". But the humans didn’t listen to Jesus. They crucified him instead. That really infuriated the Engineers, who decided to wipe out the humans with their bio-weapon.

Relevant interview with Ridley Scott (Movies.com):

Movies.com: You throw religion and spirituality into the equation for Prometheus, though, and it almost acts as a hand grenade. We had heard it was scripted that the Engineers were targeting our planet for destruction because we had crucified one of their representatives, and that Jesus Christ might have been an alien. Was that ever considered?

Ridley Scott: We definitely did, and then we thought it was a little too on the nose. But if you look at it as an “our children are misbehaving down there” scenario, there are moments where it looks like we’ve gone out of control, running around with armor and skirts, which of course would be the Roman Empire. And they were given a long run. A thousand years before their disintegration actually started to happen. And you can say, “Lets’ send down one more of our emissaries to see if he can stop it. Guess what? They crucified him.

Humans are an abomination to the Engineers.

So picture this: you’re an Engineer minding your own business, waiting for your buddies to wake you up so you could go to Earth, wipe out humans, and avenge Jesus. But instead of your buddies, you see a bunch of humans (the ones you were supposed to wipe out in the first place) and an android (their blasphemous creation) standing in front of you.

And what do humans (via the android) say to you? (David, the android, has been learning the Proto-Indo-European language, which was supposed to allow him to interact with the Engineers.) Apparently, a geriatric (Peter Weyland) wants to cheat death. How dare he? Your culture is about sacrificing your own life to create. (We see this at the start of the film when an Engineer kills himself to seed life on a planet.) Cheating death is the opposite of self-sacrifice. Apparently, humans want to cheat death and have been making immortal androids (like David). That’s an insult to your Engineer-ness. You snap. You rip off the android’s head and try to kill the rest of the humans. Then you hop on your spaceship and head to Earth to finish what you started. For Jesus.

The Engineer was on a revenge mission for Jesus, and he saw the humans (and their android creation) as an abomination.

That’s why the Engineer went berserk, decapitating David and attempting to kill the others.

Relevant interview with Ridley Scott (Movies.com):

Movies.com: That is our planet, right?

Ridley Scott: No, it doesn’t have to be. That could be anywhere. That could be a planet anywhere. All he’s doing is acting as a gardener in space. And the plant life, in fact, is the disintegration of himself.

If you parallel that idea with other sacrificial elements in history – which are clearly illustrated with the Mayans and the Incas – he would live for one year as a prince, and at the end of that year, he would be taken and donated to the gods in hopes of improving what might happen next year, be it with crops or weather, etcetera.

As an aside, the fact that some humans wear a cross necklace (e.g., Shaw) and use "the year of our Lord" to label years might infuriate the Engineers even more.


At first the Engineer seemed surprised to see Shaw. And confused when the crew grew aggressive to him. Yet he seemed calm and amused, until he looked at the ill Weiland, who ordered David to ask the Engineer about being immortal, being very arrogant to the gods instead of asking peaceful questions, like "What are we and why are we here?".

I see it like this: David and Weiland upset the Engineer with questions of greed, as if they had the right to be gods as well. The Engineer turned berserk... I would do the same, if I was god and created mankind, and mankind wanted to compare itself to gods.

I find this very logical, because before the question about immortality in a Latin based language, the Engineer was calm and amused.

And also he immediately saw David as an android without a soul. More advanced than the human crew. Might have made him think of David as unclean, unreal, or something like that, after his foolish greedy question that Weiland ordered. So he struck David and Weiland first.

He killed David, Weiland and the other guy, who didn't show respect to the Engineer. I think that's why he allowed Shaw to escape.


There's still a lot of unanswered questions in the Prometheus franchise, but here's what we do know:

  • The Engineers seeded at least some form of animal life on Earth and/or other planets, including humans (though plant life was already present on whichever planet we saw in the opening sequence).
  • They're a ritualistic society that has at least a pseudo-religious culture.
  • LV-223 was a military R&D outpost where the Engineers were engaging in bio weapon research, namely Chemical A0-3959X.91 – 15, which was also used to seed life on other planets.
  • At some point, the Engineers lost containment on one of their experiments, resulting in all but one Engineer being killed.
  • It is strongly suggested that the Engineers had decided to attack Earth long before humans arrived on LV-223. Scott has said that, in an earlier version of the story, this was supposed to be a result of humans killing "Space Jesus," which the Engineers had sent to Earth in an attempt to redeem mankind. In the same interview, Scott says Paradise Lost was part of his inspiration, in which case the Engineers would be analogous to the fallen angels who try to corrupt Earth/humanity after losing their war with God.

With all of this in mind, it doesn't appear that the Engineer suddenly goes crazy so much as he was just behaving based on his described nature and motives. Whatever reasons the Engineers had for leaving clues on Earth pointing to LV-223, the Engineers that we see in the holograms (including the lone survivor) were not the benevolent gods that the crew were seeking. Waking up the surviving Engineer did nothing to change his mind about destroying humanity.

Perhaps in the distant past, some Engineers had a benevolent view towards their creation, but the ones shown on LV-223 clearly didn't/no longer shared that sentiment.


I think Edgar Allen Poe's "A Most Danerous Game".

It seems to me that these Engineers just want something to hunt. As in Poe's work, the expert hunters are bored killing beasts of lower intellect and so, as a result, prefer the thrill of hunting men. (Who offer a far greater challenge)

Killing seems to be the thrill of all species on Earth (and possibly across the galaxy).

When you build a sandcastle on the beach you often feel a sense of accomplishment.

How often does the joy of destroying the sandcastle surpass that of building it?


The Engineers are Predators, just 2000 years before the Predator we know.

  1. Look at the way the holographic Engineers run through the tunnels; it's the exact same way the predators run.

  2. The Engineer's helmet is elephantine in appearance. It's like the early Predator model helmet.

  3. The sign writing in the tunnels and ship are the same as the Predator marking on his armour.

I think something went wrong for the Engineers 2000 years earlier, whilst transporting the Aliens to Earth causing their genetics to change their appearance.

  • 1
    -1 Engineers are based on the original Space Jockey from Alien, which looks nothing at all like a Predator, early design or not. Predators are not confirmed to even belong to the Prometheus franchise, so this answer is unsupported speculation.
    – Andres F.
    Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 10:44
  • 3
    In fact, Ridley Scott hates the Alien vs Predator storyline, and Prometheus completely ignores those films.
    – Andres F.
    Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 10:49

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