I see "Advanced aliens mistaken as Gods" in lots of Sci-Fi works. For example, Asgardians and Kree had been mistaken as Gods in Marvel Cinematic Universe. This book also has this concept. Star Trek Into Darkness movie also showed something like that in the beginning. In a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode in which Wesley Crusher got death penalty also showed this concept. The oldest I remember is a Star Trek: The Original Series episode which declared that Olympian Gods were advanced aliens.

Which Sci-Fi work introduced the idea?

  • 1
    Have you heard of the Ancient Aliens concept? That would probably be the earliest historical concept of an alien species mistaken as deities.
    – Monty129
    Mar 29, 2015 at 11:36
  • I want to say it's from Lovecraft, but then Cthulhu is not really an advanced alien.
    – Boelabaal
    Mar 29, 2015 at 12:51
  • 7
    "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain"
    – Joe L.
    Mar 29, 2015 at 14:31
  • Why sci-fi? Narratives of less advanced human taking more advanced human as gods are quite common, old, and even based in real facts en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…. The first sci-fi writter that took on this trend did nothing new.
    – SJuan76
    Mar 29, 2015 at 20:34
  • 1
    @Monty129 except the theory that ancient gods existed but were really aliens is relatively new, mostly within our lifetime.
    – KutuluMike
    Apr 3, 2015 at 23:53

4 Answers 4


While I think it is a stretch to call them "advanced" aliens, I'm going to agree with @Boelabaal and say that this idea first appeared in the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

In fact, there's an entire book that backs up this claim: The Cult of Alien Gods, by Jason Colavito, argues that the concept of "ancient aliens" being mistaken for gods, as described in the classic work of pseudo-scientific garbage Chariots of the Gods?, draws directly from the Cthulhu Mythos.

Lovecraft started writing in 1919, and many of his stories involve the (re-)discovery of ancient gods. For example, "The Other Gods", in 1921, is a story about a priest who tries to find the ancient gods of his people, only to find out that his gods have gods of their own:

other gods, the gods of the outer hells that guard the feeble gods of earth!

Though these aliens are clearly not from Earth, they're never explicitly called aliens (they're described more in terms of other dimensions than other planets.) As far as I remember, the first time this happens is in "The Call of Cthulhu". Again, the story strongly implies, but never actually claims, that Cthulhu is an alien, but Lovecraft would make that connection directly in some of his letters, and in later Cthulhu Mythos stories.

  • 2
    Colavito does not necessarily say Lovecraft was the first to come up with this idea, only that he influenced later people who would propose this really happened. This article by Colavito notes that "In 1919, the great collector of anomalous trivia, Charles Fort, published the Book of the Damned, in which he speculated that old stories of demons could be related to “undesirable visitors from other worlds” (66)" He also notes that Lovecraft had read this book. I guess it depends on whether we consider "demons" as "gods"...
    – Hypnosifl
    Jun 25, 2015 at 1:18

Stanley Weinbaum's stories "A Martian Odyssey" and "Valley of Dreams" introduce a Martian race that are vaguely bird-like with a long beak. In the second story, they visit their city and see a mural where one of the Martians is visiting Earth in Egyptian times..and the race is called "Thoth". The clear implication is that the Martians inspired the Egyptians and became their Ibis headed god of Wisdom.

These were published in 1934.


As a special case I offer Campell's "Invaders from the Infinite", first serialized in 1932 (altough the complete novel only appeard in 1961). The "aliens" here that are mistaken for gods a actually timetraveling earth astronauts (Arcot, Wade and Morey).

However they are accompanied by two actual aliens, one of canine and one of avian descent (which presumably become the inspiration for Horus and Anubis when they meet early humans in the nile valley), so this may still count as an answer.


1934: "Dragon's Teeth", a science fiction short story by Wallace West, published in Astounding Stories, September 1934, which is available at the Internet Archive. The story is about the arrival on Earth of the Olympian gods—Mercury (the narrator), Poseidon, Mars, Zeus, Vulcan, Apollo, et al.—by spaceship from the planet Mars. (Yes, they have a mixture of Greek and Roman names.) Whether they are "aliens" or not is a matter of definition: they are descendants of refugees from the lost continent of Mu who had settled the planet Mars thousands of years earlier.

We had shot down out of space after our six months' trip from Mars, with out ship's fore and after rockets spitting flame and thunder. We circled the town three times before landing on a level space near the top of the crooked mountain around the base of which the huts of the town huddled.

Then, one thousand strong, and dressed in our most resplendent harness, we marched down the mountain with our ray guns held ready, the first Martians to visit Earth for five thousand years.

In the public square we found all of the ragged inhabitants who had not fun away groveling on their faces, ready to believe that we were gods.

It was all so simple that I became worried. It didn't seem natural that a thousand men could conquer a planet so easily.

I began to look around me for signs of an ambush, and right there I got a shock. Over in one corner of the square stood a fellow who wasn't groveling. He was dressed in long, violently colored silken robes and looked positively regal as he stared at us with his unwinking, hawklike eyes.

And that was where Poseidon made his big mistake. He burst into a rage at the sight of this harmless defiance of our omnipotence.

"Arrest that man!" he barked at General Mars, who was in command of the soldiers.

Zeus, who was second in command, placed a protesting hand on his elder brother's arms, but Poseidon shook him off.

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