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The term Greys denotes a style of alleged intelligent, humanoid extraterrestrials appearing in folklore, popular culture, and ufology. In particular, they are a common motif in close encounter and alien abduction claims.


In abduction claims and popular culture, several commonalities of appearance tend to typify "Greys."

Percentage of Abduction Reports Featuring Greys by Country
Country Grey Reports Other Types
Australia 50% 50%
Canada 90% 10%
Mainland Western Europe 48% 52%
Great Britain 12% 88%
USA 43% 57%
Brazil 67% 33%


They are typically depicted as gray-skinned diminutive humanoid beings that possess reduced forms of or outright lack human organs and anatomical components. Their bodies are usually depicted as being elongated, having a small chest, and lacking in muscular definition and visible skeletal structure. Their legs are shorter and jointed differently than one would expect in a human. Their limbs are often depicted as proportionally different than a human's; their humerus and thighs are the same lengths as their forearms and shins, respectively. They may have 3-5 fingers and may be depicted as lacking opposable thumbs.

Polling data

Among reports of supposed alien encounters, Greys make up approximately 43 percent in the United Statesmarker, 90 percent in Canadamarker, 67 percent in Brazilmarker, 20 percent in Continental Europe, and 12 percent in Great Britainmarker.

In popular culture


The British science fiction writer H.G. Wells, in the article "Man of the Year Million" in 1893, describes humanity transformed into a race of gray-skinned beings, stunted and with big heads. In his book "The First Men in the Moon" in 1901, Selenites, or natives of the Moon, are described as having gray skin, big heads, large black eyes and wasp stings.

In 1965, newspaper reports of the Betty and Barney Hill abduction brought Greys to international attention. The alleged abductees, Betty and Barney Hill, claimed to have been abducted by Greys and taken to a saucer-shaped spaceship in 1961. From a star chart reported by Betty Hill, an elementary school teacher and amateur astronomer, Marjorie Fish, concluded that the home planet of the Greys was located in the Zeta Reticuli system - they are therefore sometimes known as Zeta Reticulans.


During the early 1980s Greys were linked in popular culture to the alleged crash landing of a flying saucer in Roswell New Mexico, in 1947, by a number of publications which contained statements from individuals who claimed to have seen the U.S. military handling a number of unusually proportioned, bald, child-sized corpses. These individuals claimed that the corpses had over-sized heads and slanted eyes—but scant other facial features—during and after the incident.

In 1987, popular novelist Whitley Strieber published the book Communion, in which he describes a number of close encounters he purports to have experienced with Greys and other extraterrestrial beings. The book became a New York Times bestseller, and a film adaption starring Christopher Walken was released in 1989.

1990-present day

During the 1990s, popular culture began to increasingly link Greys to a number of military-industrial complex/New World Order conspiracy theories.

A well known example of this was the FOX television series The X-Files, which first aired in 1993. It combined the quest to find proof of the existence of Grey-like extraterrestrials with a number of UFO conspiracy theory subplots, in order to form its primary story arc. Other notable examples include Dark Skies, first broadcast in 1996, which expanded upon the MJ-12 conspiracy, and Stargate SG-1 which in the 1998 episode "Thor's Chariot" introduced the Asgard, a race of beneficent Greys who visited ancient Earth masquerading as characters from Norse Mythology.

In 1995 film maker Ray Santilli claimed to have obtained 22 reels of 16 mm film that depicted the autopsy of a "real" Grey that was said to have been recovered from the site of the 1947 incident in Roswell, New Mexico. However, in 2006 Santilli announced that the film was not original, but was instead a "reconstruction" created after the original film was found to have degraded. He maintained that a real Grey had been found and autopsied on camera in 1947, and that the footage released to the public contained a percentage of that original footage, but he was unable to say what that percentage was. This incident became the subject of the British comedy film Alien Autopsy, starring popular television presenters Ant & Dec.

Greys, referred to as 'visitors', also appear in South Park as important characters in the first and the hundredth episode, as well as many cameos through out the series, mostly in the backgrounds of scenes. The comedy Scary Movie 3 also includes Greys as the main extraterrestrials.

Roger Smith, a regular character on American Dad! since its debut in 2005, is a Grey-like alien.

In science fiction

Greys are a popular theme in science fiction and have either appeared directly, or acted as a source of inspiration, in a number of different franchises. Greys also appear in Stargate SG-1 in the form of the Asgard, a highly advanced ally of the Stargate Command (SGC). In the TV series Babylon 5, aliens similar to the Greys are known as the Vree, the Streibs and the Zener. The first of these races are depicted as Earth Alliance allies on Babylon 5, while the others are hostile, with the third race serving the Shadows.

Stereotypical designs of the Grey alien race have been featured in various video game media. Examples include an extraterrestrial race known as the Sectoids which make their appearance in X-COM: UFO Defense. They also play the role of primary antagonists in the game Area 51, where they are depicted forming crop circles and mutilating cattle. The Nintendo 64 game Perfect Dark features a 'Grey' race of aliens called Maians. On the other hand, in the Destroy All Humans games, the aliens play the protagonists of the game (though antagonists to the humans). Greys also appear in the Deus Ex video game series. In Wii game Madworld, some levels contain aliens that are referred to solely as Greys. They are the only enemies in the game with blue blood.

In children's science fiction literature, Greys appear in the Animorphs book series as the metamorphosed form of an alien race dubbed the Skrit Na.


In close encounter claims and ufology

Greys are commonly included in alien abduction claims and are a focus of ufology, with attributes that may differ from those described above. These claims include two distinct groups of Greys that differ in height. Abductees say that they recognize the leader of their abductors by its "demeanor." Some ufologists and abduction researchers believe that taller Greys, with their reported increased authority and apparently more complex psychology may be the only Grey type to be biologically alive and that the shorter form could be their artificially constructed robot or cyborg servants.

Some alien abduction reports have depicted variant skin colors such as blue-grey, green-grey, or purple-grey and some times not grey at all. The skin is typically described as being extremely smooth, almost as if made of an artificial material like rubber or plastic.

Abduction claims are described as extremely traumatic, similar to an abduction by humans or even a sexual assault in the level of trauma and distress. (Research has shown that emotional impact of perceived abduction can be as great as or even greater than those of combat, sexual abuse, and other punishing events.) .

The eyes are often a focus of abduction claims. They are said to not move or focus in any observable way. Claims often describe a Grey staring into the eyes of an abductee when conducting mental procedures. This staring is claimed to induce hallucinogenic states or directly provoke different emotions. Although abduction claimants often say that the Grey was only inches from their face during the staring mindscan procedure, they often do not subsequently claim feeling breath or seeing the Grey's chest move from breathing.

Psychocultural expression of intelligence

Neurologist Dr. Steven Novella argues that the idea is a byproduct of the human imagination, with the Greys' most distinctive features representing everything that modern humans traditionally link with intelligence. "The aliens, however, do not just appear as humans, they appear like humans with those traits we psychologically associate with intelligence."

The "Mother Hypothesis"

In 2005, Frederick V. Malmstrom, writing in Skeptic magazine, vol. 11 issue 4, presents his hypothesis that Greys are actually residual memories of early childhood development. Malmstrom reconstructs the face of a Grey through transformation of a mother's face based on our best understanding of early childhood sensation and perception. Malmstrom's study offers a possible alternative to the existence of Greys, the intense instinctive response many people experience when presented an image of a Grey, and the ease of regression hypnosis and recovered memory therapy in "recovering" memories of alien abduction experiences, along with their common themes.

Evolutionary feasibility

According to English reproductive biologist Jack Cohen, the typical image of a Grey, given that it would have evolved on a world with different environmental and ecological conditions from Earth, is too physiologically similar to a human to be credible as a representation of an alien. Their physical structure can alternately be viewed as evidence supportive of the Panspermia theory of origins, whereby the chemical seeds of life are purported to have evolved on another planet and to have arrived on earth — and, by extension, perhaps on other worlds — via a comet. The "parallel evolution" concept that has been hypothesized by Star Trek does not suffice to explain such remarkable Grey-human similarities as the facial geometry, the apparent sternal-xiphoidal process, the evident pectoral-trapezial architecture, and the number of toes per foot.

Conspiracy theories

Some conspiracy theorists believe that Greys represent part of a government-led disinformation or plausible deniability campaign, or that they are a product of Government mind control experiments. Dr. Steven Greer, head of CSETI and a prominent UFO conspiracy theorist, claims that over 400 "government, military, and intelligence community witnesses" have offered testimony to the existence of aliens and UFO and/or efforts to cover up their existence

See also


  1. Hall, Richard. "Are UFO Abductions a Universal or a Culturally Dependant Phenomenon." In: Pritchard, Andrea & Pritchard, David E. & Mack, John E. & Kasey, Pam & Yapp, Claudia. Alien Discussions: Proceedings of the Abduction Study Conference. Cambridge: North Cambridge Press. Pp. 191-193.
  2. Grey Aliens Bite The Dust
  3. Jacobs, David M. "Aliens and Hybrids." In: Pritchard, Andrea & Pritchard, David E. & Mack, John E. & Kasey, Pam & Yapp, Claudia. Alien Discussions: Proceedings of the Abduction Study Conference. Cambridge: North Cambridge Press. Pp. 86-90.
  5. Jacobs, David M. "Subsequent Procedures." In: Pritchard, Andrea & Pritchard, David E. & Mack, John E. & Kasey, Pam & Yapp, Claudia. Alien Discussions: Proceedings of the Abduction Study Conference. Cambridge: North Cambridge Press. pp. 64-68.
  6. The fictional theory, "Hodgkins Law of Parallel Planet Development", was mentioned in the 1967 Original Series episode "Bread and Circuses".

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