In the first Alien, the android is revealed to have an ulterior motive:

a Hyperdyne Systems 120-A/2 android, who is acting upon secret orders to "Bring back alien life form. Crew expendable." ref

This makes him the ultimate company man. He is willing to do whatever it takes to recover the lifeform.

In Aliens this dialogue suggests that times have changed:

Burke: I'm sorry. I don't know why I didn't even- Ripley's last trip out, the syn- the artificial person malfunctioned.
Ripley: "Malfunctioned"?
Burke: There were problems and a-a few deaths were involved.
Bishop: I'm shocked. Was it an older model?
Burke: Yeah, the Hyperdine System's 120-A/2.
Bishop: Well, that explains it then. The A/2s always were a bit twitchy. That could never happen now with our behavioral inhibitors. It is impossible for me to harm or by omission of action, allow to be harmed, a human being. ref

I certainly wouldn't describe them as "twitchy," but rather designed to be facilitators of the Company's agenda on missions. In contrast Bishop throughout the movie is very protective of life, and Ripley in particular. He obviously isn't sent to ensure the retrieval of the lifeforms. That role is filled by Burke.

Why would the Company ever deviate from this plan? Why make synthetic workers who wouldn't blindly execute Company policy?

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    To facilitate human worker loyalty, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation has introduced all of its new and existing artificial persons to the Three Laws of Robotics. It is our belief that people who are not afraid of being murdered by their artificial persons are happy people. This message has been brought to you by your friendly Corporation Human Resources representative.
    – Xantec
    Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 21:46
  • 1
    An upgrade to Windows 24, service pack 2. Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 21:55
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    @JackBNimble I don't right now. I'll look when I get off work.
    – Xantec
    Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 21:57
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    Perhaps there were other cases of A/2s endangering and killing humans - enough that the bad press was starting to hurt the Corporation, so they improved with Bishop-like types. There's a few decades between Alien and Aliens, and a lot could have happened in the interim.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 22:23
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    @Xantec: Bishop's phrasing hints at Asimov's First Law. It's not a verbatim mention, but it is worded so similarly it simply cannot be a coincidence. Especially the "by omission of action".
    – Andres F.
    Commented Jan 11, 2012 at 2:15

7 Answers 7


It has been a while since I saw or read either, but I thought Bishop belonged to the Marines, not the Company. And while the Marines were basically controlled by the Companies, the controls were indirect.

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    I like this answer. Ash was loyal to WY whereas Bishop was loyal to the Space Marines. You have my +1
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 0:03
  • And you also got my +1 ... I dont think it was Bishop who smuggled the egg.
    – Rocket
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 3:12

To trick Ripley obviously. The "friendly" android was sent along to deflect suspicion from Burke. But then in Alien 3 we learned

that there was a facehugger on the ship that escaped from Acheron in Aliens

so maybe Bishop wasn't as "friendly" as we were led to believe.

  • Now that is a curious conclusion.
    – Xantec
    Commented Jan 11, 2012 at 12:41
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    I always assumed that the Queen smuggled that one on board with her.
    – gnovice
    Commented Apr 18, 2012 at 1:56
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    @gnovice The queen got aboard Sulaco by riding the outside of the dropship and attacked as soon as Ripley and Bishop emerged. There was no time for her to hide eggs on Sulaco where they would not be seen. (She would not have hid them anyway; simpler to let them be found and have the facehuggers attack whoever found them.) Bishop had a block of time when he was alone with the dropship and that's when he stashed the alien eggs aboard.
    – Kyle Jones
    Commented May 31, 2012 at 2:18
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    If this was the case, why didn't he return to the Sulaco in the drop ship with the eggs when he had the chance, instead of circling around an exploding nuclear reactor?
    – Cugel
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 19:17
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    @KyleJones And introducing deadly and unpredictable aliens into their environment isn't a First Law violation? Nice idea, but I'm not buying it.
    – Cugel
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 23:28

Hypothetically speaking: The Company, and possibly other corporations, are using the old models such as the A/2 to carry out unethical missions human staff might balk at.

At some point they get caught; another Ash, perhaps on Earth, is seen force-feeding people rolled-up porn magazines on company orders. The company, naturally, blame it on a malfunction, as Burke does later, and suggests that the model is faulty.

Either due to ass-covering or new legislation, they start building androids with Asimov laws, like Bishop. Naturally these androids are told that their predecessors were 'twitchy' and not 'programmed to murder at the behest of their corporate masters'.


Put simply, the change in behavior was brought about by 50+ years of progress. Ash's model - a Hyperdine Systems 120-A/2 - was fairly new at the time of Alien, and is generally considered a prototype for the concept of synthetics passing as human. Notice that the crew of the Nostromo was not only surprised that Ash was a robot, but even at the concept that he could be one - it was something none of them had ever seen before. Fortunately, his internal workings weren't much different than previous models, allowing them to reactivate him briefly for information.

During the events of Aliens 57 years later, Bishop refers to the A/2 model as "twitchy" because of the inherent faults in its programming. For an in-depth explanation of why the A/2 was faulty, please see my answer to the question below:

What exactly was happening to Ash?

The short version is that when Ash found himself in a stressful situation and didn't know how to cope, he freaked out and went ballistic. You could say that his programming reverted to base code, hit an undefined routine or variable, and ended up producing erratic behavior. More evolved synthetics like Bishop are better able to handle stress, and the dialogue leads us to believe that "behavioral inhibitors" were placed in androids to prevent such behavior.

Given that events aboard the Nostromo went undiscovered until Ripley's rescue, we have to assume that other incidents occurred involving the A/2 model, thus prompting the designers to add the inhibitors, while also giving the model a bad reputation.


Why do modern day cars have additional safety features?
Same principle, it is a piece of technology which needs to be made as safe as possible. Claiming that the old models were twitchy might well be true but it was not really true of Ash as he was carrying out instructions but the company would never admit that so that case can also be put down to twitchyness. Would the company like androids that will do anything they are told? Of course. In the same way companies would love to not pay taxes but external audits, customer reports, ethical engineers who might whistle blow etc make the idea more trouble than it is worth


It's clear that Burke has ordered Bishop to carefully study the Xenomorph face hugger and that Bishop complied with his direction. Bishop tells Ripley this and the film does nothing to demonstrate that Bishop will not follow that directive despite the later events of the film. From this is fairly easy to extrapolate that Burke also told Bishop to preserve a sample of the face hugger if not one of the creatures.

In fact, it's surprising that after Ripley and Newt were almost infected by the face hugger in the med lab that no one thought to ask Bishop if there are any more of them around or if Burke had given him any additional orders. While the film does show that things went downhill pretty quickly after this occurred, it is as the assembled group (especially Ripley) forgot that the Xenomorphs have a tendency to survive even the most dire of situations.


Ash was DAMAGED when Ripley shoved it against the wall. It was prepared to explain to Ripley that there was a perfectly good reason for the Company's orders, but she lost her temper, pushed it, and obviously did some internal damage to its nutrition sub-system. Once milk started leaking into the behavioral circuits housed in its headpiece, the default "let's sit and discuss this" subroutines failed.

  • 3
    This sounds like a fan-theory. Can you back this up with a quote or reference?
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 19:02

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