The Alien franchise is a pentalogy of films that began with the original film in 1979 and ended with the final installment in 1996. It follows a woman named Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) who is forced to do battle with a series of extraterrestrial creatures (the titular 'Aliens') in the far future, creatures whose only goal is to use humans as incubators for their offspring, killing them in the process.
In the 22nd century (2120 AD), the crew of the commercial towing ship Nostromo encounter a mysterious life form on an uncharted planet while en-route back to Earth, a lifeform that attacks one of the crew members, laying its egg inside the crewman, and later killing him as it bursts from his chest. Eventually, the creature fully matures and kills off the remainder of the crew one-by-one (one of whom is revealed to be an android on a mission for the Nostromo's employers) until only the ship's warrant officer, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) remains. Ripley is forced to activate the ship's self-destruct and escapes in the Nostromo's shuttle just as the ship detonates, but discovers the alien stowed away aboard the shuttle. She finally blows it out into space and soon after enters stasis for the return to Earth.
Alien 2: Aliens (1983)
In the year 2170, approximately fifty years since the events of the first film, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is discovered in stasis by salvagers in deep space and returned to Earth, where she is discredited by her employers for destroying the Nostromo and learns that the Alien planet is now a human terraforming colony. When contact with the colony is lost, Ripley is sent with a force of Colonial Marines to the planet to search for any signs of life, where all they find is a young girl hiding in the abandoned colony and an Alien nest inside the terraformer.
Alien 3 (1987)
Alien 4 (1991)
Alien 5 (1996)
The films have a nearly legendary status in the science fiction and horror genres, having broken a barrier in special effects with the first film in 1979. The series launched Sigourney Weaver into the national spotlight, even being nominated in both the 1984 and 1988 Academy Awards for her portrayal of Ripley in Aliens and Alien 3. Weaver's portrayal also gained her the nickname of "Sci-Fi Queen" after the release of Alien 5 in 1996. The series also helped launch director/writer James Cameron's career, with the last three movies of the series having been written by him. After the release of Aliens in 1983, Cameron signed on to direct The Terminator, cementing his position within that franchise as well.