The Bechdel test originated in ‘The Rule’, a 1985 cartoon by Alison Bechdel.

In it, a character describes the test as something she uses to determine which movies she'll see:

One, it has to have at least two women in it, who two, talk to each other about, three, something besides a man.

If a movie fails the test, she doesn't see it. She notes that the last movie she could actually see was 1979's Alien.

The Bechdel test comic

However, I'm not sure that Alien actually qualifies.

As I recall, there are two female characters: Ripley and Lambert. I don't remember them actually having a significant conversation in the film. The best I can remember is Ripley trying to get Lambert to pull it together after Captain Dallas is killed, and that's arguably a conversation about a man.

Does Alien actually pass the Bechdel test?

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    What you've posted is only half the original comic. The full comic shows her reason for Alien passing and gives something closer to an actual punchline.
    – jwodder
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 17:26
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    They don't have a one-on-one conversation about the monster, but they do discuss it in a group setting: "RIPLEY We can't go into hypersleep with that thing running loose. We'd be sitting ducks in the freezers. We have to kill it first. LAMBERT We can't kill it. If we do, it will spill its body acids right through the hull..."
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 17:39
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    @jwodder: aha, I didn’t realise. Have you got a URL for an image of the full comic? Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 22:11
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    Ignore my comment above, the lines I mentioned were from the final script, but I just rewatched the same scene in the movie and they weren't there, either it wasn't filmed or it was edited out.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 22:21
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    @RussellBorogove - exactly right. And there's the further premise that this is a bad thing - it may be that male experiences are more readily generalizable to women than the other way around. Furthermore, this may be true because a lack of empathy in men! If this is all true, there's nothing wrong with films failing this test, and there's certainly nothing wrong with Bechdel not liking films that fail her test. I'd say that Hunt for Red October is a GREAT movie which definitely fails this test. Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 19:32

3 Answers 3



Ripley: "That's not our system."
Lambert: "I know that."

Also, this is a convo with >2 people but as part of it they exchange replies with each other:

Lambert: What? And end up like the others? No … no, you're out of your mind!
Ripley: You got a better idea?
Lambert: Yes! I say that we abandon this ship! We take the shuttle and just get the hell out of here! We take our chances and … and hope that somebody will pick us up!
Ripley: Lambert ... the shuttle won't take four.
Lambert: Well, then why don't we draw straws and ...

and in Direcor's Cut only:

Lambert: [slapping Ripley] You b&^&^!
Lambert: You were gonna leave us out there!

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    I agree with this. Also, I don't think the Bechdel test implies no males can be present; only that the two women must directly address each other about something other than males. So a group conversation with a sub-conversation between two of the women qualifies, IMO.
    – Andres F.
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 19:02

Found the script, and I think this scene should count, though Parker is present and has one line:


   Ripley in the Computer Annex.
    Lambert and Parker enter.

              He's right about one thing.
              We've got less than twelve
              hours oxygen left.

              It's all over.


              I don't know about the rest of
              you, but I think I prefer a
              painless peaceful death to any
              of the alternatives on offer.

              We're not there yet.

    Lambert holds up a small card of spansules.
    Suicide pills.

              We're not.  Huh.

              I think we should blow up the

              I'll stick with chemicals if
              you don't mind.

              We leave in the shuttle and
              then blow up the ship.

And, as Monty129 points out, they are technically not talking about a man if the subject is Ash, even when they discuss whether one of them has slept with him.

  • 7
    Nice! Regarding Ash, technically true, although given that they both believe him to be a man at that point, I think it’d be against the spirit and intention of the test to count that. Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 13:33
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    Although I think some of this exchange may have been cut from the film: see amazon.com/review/R3TAYOIZYU52VV/… Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 13:38
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    Pretty sure Ash is against the spirit of the rule. It shouldn't matter whether "he" is actually a man, but whether the women talking about him think he is a man...
    – Andres F.
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 19:03

There have been a few Bechdel test questions in the last day or so. For future reference, there is an existing website that analyzes many movies under the test, at http://bechdeltest.com/

According to that website, Alien passes for the reasons identified above: http://bechdeltest.com/view/13/alien/

Aliens similarly passes, based on the multiple conversations between Ripley and Newt: http://bechdeltest.com/view/283/aliens/

Alien 3, however, fails the test as it lacks a second named woman: http://bechdeltest.com/view/296/alien_3/

  • 1
    It's not really specified as such, but a lot of people who compare against the Bechdel Test require the two women to not be children as the age difference generally skews the possible subjects of conversation.
    – phantom42
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 16:58
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    @phantom42: It's a moot point for Aliens, since additionally Ferro and Vasquez, two female marines, talk about Ripley (if only briefly).
    – gnovice
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 17:27
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    And, on a more tongue in cheek note, there's the exchange: "Get away from her, you bitch!" "Hsssss!" between Ripley and the Alien queen. Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 22:42
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    If Ash does not qualify as a man, I think the Alien Queen definitely wouldn't qualify as a woman. Female, yes; woman, no. Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 0:36
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    Alien 3 fails on so many levels.
    – John O
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 19:30

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