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Roswell is an Americanmarker science fiction television series developed, produced, and co-written by Jason Katims. The series debuted on October 6, 1999 on The WB and moved to UPN for the third season. The last episode aired May 14, 2002. In the United Kingdommarker, the TV series aired as both Roswell High and Roswell.

The series pilot is based on the Roswell High young adult book series, written by Melinda Metz and edited by Laura J. Burns, who became staff writers for the television series.

Plot summary

Roswell is set in Roswell, New Mexicomarker, site of the 1947 UFO crash popularly known as The Roswell Incident. Four teenagers are depicted as alien who appear to be human. Central to the plot are Max and Isabel Evans, Michael Guerin and Tess Harding, who survived the Roswell crash to hatch from incubation pods in 1989, with the appearance of six-year-old humans, but secretly aware of their true origins.

The relationships between the extraterrestrials and their human companions are a central theme, particularly between leading characters Max Evans and Liz Parker. The three seasons follow the extraterrestrial as they attempt to avoid being discovered by the FBI and the local sheriff. In addition, as time passes the characters learn more about their alien powers. They also attempt to figure out a way to get back to their home planet.

The background plot suggests that the four were sent to Earth as cloned replacements for the royalty of Antar, an alien planet. Their counterparts died in a war, and the "Royal Four" were meant to one day return to Antar to save their race.




Guest stars



Roswell High was originally developed by 20th Century Fox Television and Regency Television for the Fox Network, though it eventually landed on The WB (retitled simply to Roswell) thanks to the latter network's offer to extend a full 22-episode upfront commitment. The pilot episode was filmed in 12 days with a budget of $2,000,000. "The Morning After," the second episode of the series, was the first episode with the full title sequence utilizing the theme song, "Here With Me" by Dido.

Filming locations

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park
Roswell was filmed in various locations around Californiamarker. City Hall, Charter Oak High School, and several other businesses and residences in Covinamarker served as locations for the fictional locations in Roswell, New Mexico, as well as Vasquez Rocksmarker, a park in Los Angeles County.

Airing history and reception

The series premiered on October 6, 1999 on The WB Television Network in the United States to generally favorable reviews. Although it quickly garnered an outspoken fanbase, the series almost immediately entered a steady ratings decline that would keep the show under constant threat of cancellation.

In response to the problems the series had with ratings during its first season, The WB ordered the relationship-driven standalone episodes of the early first season to be replaced with more science fiction themes and multi-episode plot arcs. Starting with the second season, veteran science fiction writer Ronald D. Moore was brought in to join Katims as an executive producer and showrunner and to further develop the science fiction elements of the show.

Unfortunately, not all fans responded favorably to the shift to more science fiction-driven storylines during the second season and the ratings continued to disappoint The WB, causing the network to finally cancel the show on May 15, 2001, after the show's second season finale, a move widely anticipated due to the sagging ratings. Fortunately, 20th Century Fox (the studio that produced the show) was able to persuade UPN to pick up Roswell for a third season as a package deal when UPN outbid The WB for one of its popular flagship series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. During the 2001 - 2002 television season, Roswell, in its third season, aired directly after Buffy on Tuesday nights on UPN, though it was unable to hold on to the audience Buffy provided as a lead-in. This eventually resulted in the show's cancellation from UPN as well. Roswell aired its final episode on May 14, 2002.


Season one

Liz Parker, Maria DeLuca, and Alex Whitman are high school students and best friends residing in the small town of Roswell, New Mexico, site of the Roswell incident. The Roswell incident is a continual point of ironic reference in the series, a theme which contrasts the town's sometimes cynical and commercial exploitation of the now ancient 1947 Roswell incident with the "real" Roswell event unfolding before the young protagonists eyes. Liz's parents, for instance, own the Crashdown Café, which serves alien-themed dishes, and it is here that many of the scenes of the season are set. While waitressing there, an argument between two customers results in Liz being fatally shot, setting the scene for the entire series. School student Max Evans rushes to her side and heals the wound by placing his hand over it, bringing her back to life. He leaves a silver hand print on her stomach. This act arouses suspicions that follow the protagonists throughout the series.

During a biology class experiment the next day, Liz obtains a sample of Max's saliva without his knowledge and examines it under a microscope. She discovers that Max's cells look nothing like human cells. She confronts Max, who then admits that he, his sister Isabel and their friend Michael are aliens whose spaceship crashed at Roswell in 1947. Max intimates to Liz that he saved her life because he has strong feelings for her and the romance between Liz and Max begins in earnest.

In the first episode Max Evans swears Liz to secrecy, but she tells Maria. Tension around the secrecy issue becomes a major theme both in the development of the relationships of the protagonists, and also for the action elements of the plot. Eventually Alex is let into the secret, resolving the tension between best friends Liz and Alex. This group of six teenagers are involved in a struggle to protect the alien trio from Sheriff Valenti, who is suspicious of them from the first episode and who alerts the FBI, and from FBI agents investigating the paranormal who secretly attempt to discover evidence of their real identities by fair means or foul.

In contrast to the romance tenderly portrayed between Liz and Max, Michael and Maria engage in a passionate and explosive relationship - Maria terms Michael "the worst boyfriend ever". Later in the first season a tentative romance develops between Isabel and Alex. As with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series (which this TV series later ran alongside), there is a romantic tension which exploits the theme of the Romeo and Juliet type "star-cross'd lovers" - the "forbidden" relationship (the aliens and humans, vampire slayer and vampire, Montagues and Capulets).

Toward the end of the season another alien named Nasedo is introduced, who is a shape shifter. Nasedo has a violent, murderous past and nearly causes Max's demise at the hands of a vengeful alien hunter who had lost his wife and unborn child to Nasedo. The gang initially believes that Tess, the new kid in town, is Nasedo as she seems to have a strange effect on Max, but it is revealed that she is a fourth alien hybrid just like them. However, unlike them, she possesses knowledge of their past lives and the concept of their supposed destiny.

At the end of the season, it is learned that Max, Isabel, Michael and Tess are clones of the Royal Four of Antar and that Max is the king, Isabel his sister, Michael his second in command and Tess is Max's wife. The four learn that they are alien-human hybrids: their alien DNA was mixed with human DNA in order for them to assume human form. Their mission is to one day go back to their home planet Antar and retake the throne from Kivar, Max's enemy. As a result of this revelation, Liz distances herself from Max, as she believes that she can't get in the way of Max's destiny.

Season two

The second part of Max and Liz's love story involves Liz's insecurities about getting in the way between the destined love between Max and Tess even though Max assures her that his heart only beats for her. This causes a rift between Tess and the rest of the gang, as she always feels unwanted. Right when Liz finally starts to believe that Max will deny his destiny of being with Tess, the "Future Max" appears to Liz claiming that they must find a way to get Max to fall out of love with her in order to save the future and the lives of everyone they know. This leads to a relationship between Max and Tess, even though Liz still has hope that she and Max will one day be together.

The second season introduces the Skins, another alien race from Antar who have been searching for the alien hybrids since they hatched. Their mission is to locate and turn them over to Kivar, who is now king of Antar. It is revealed that Liz's new boss, Congresswoman Whitaker, is a Skin and her brother Nicholas is the leader of the Skins. Along with a renegade Skin Courtney, a Crashdown Café waitress, who believes that Michael, not Max, should have been in charge of Antar, the group travels to the town where Congresswoman Whitaker is from and discover that the entire town is inhabited by Skins and that they are ready for the "Harvest". Skins unlike "The Royal Four" do not have a mix of alien and human DNA. In order to survive Earth's climate they create husks (fake bodies) which last around 50 years. Skins are so called because once their husks start to reach the end of their shelf lives they shed their skin.

Nasedo, the shape shifter who was protecting the teens as well as acting as a father to Tess, is killed by Congresswoman Whitaker at the beginning of the season. As Tess has nowhere to go, she moves in with Sheriff Valenti and his son Kyle. Shortly after, the "pod squad" destroys the Harvest. It is revealed during the "Harvest" that Isabel was named Vilandra on Antar. Vilandra was in love with Kivar, Max's enemy and rival, and she betrayed her family in favor of Kivar. This haunts Isabel so much that it creates a rift between her and Max when they find out that another set of clones of the Royal Four were created. The clones, known as the "dupes", are exact copies of Michael, Max, Isabel and Tess, only they grew up in the sewers of New York Citymarker. Their names are Rath (Michael's clone), Zan (Max's clone), Lonnie (Isabel's clone), and Ava (Tess's clone).

Rath, Lonnie, and Ava come to Roswell after killing Zan to convince Max to return with them and represent the family at a summit meeting of the families of the five warring planets. Max and Tess go with Rath and Lonnie to New York, while Ava stays in Roswell because she is haunted by the death of Zan. Nicholas returns as a voice for Kivar, and it is revealed that the owner of the UFO museum, Brody Davis was used by an alien many times to communicate on Earth, acting as a puppet, explaining why he believes he was abducted by aliens although he has no memories of the incident. Rath and Lonnie tell Tess and Max that if they give Kivar the Granolith (the rock that came with the "pod squad" when they landed on Earth), they can go home to Antar. Max remembers what Liz told him before he left—that "the Granolith could be dangerous if in the wrong hands" and turns down Kivar's deal. Lonnie betrays the others when she meets Nicholas in secret to discuss her desire to return to Antar, as she remembers more about her past life and wants it back, regardless of whether Kivar gets the Granolith. Nicholas tells her that can be arranged as long as Max is dead. The assassination attempt fails and Rath and Lonnie "disappear". Ava, still in Roswell, goes to live a "normal" life and is also not mentioned again; however, she does reveal to Liz that since Max healed her and brought her back she has "changed" and will be different from now on.

For most of the second season, Alex is on a trip to Swedenmarker. However, shortly after coming back and getting Isabel to see him as something more than a friend and start to love him, he dies tragically in a car accident. The death of Alex has a dramatic effect on Liz, as she is devastated by the loss of her best friend. She finds a photo with Alex's head torn off from the photograph, causing her to suspect that Alex was murdered. Her investigations lead her into trouble with Max and the others when she accuses an alien of killing Alex. Through her investigation, she discovers that Alex never went to Sweden and that he had actually been to Las Cruces College. Just before she boards a flight to Sweden, Liz gets a phone call by which she discovers that a picture of a building seen behind Alex in the photo was in fact torn down before, thus making it impossible for Alex to have taken the picture in front of the building during the time period he was said to have been there. She goes with Maria and Michael and they find out that Alex had been working on the translation of the Destiny book. Even though they find the translation, they are unable to discover the identity of Alex's killer. It is first believed that the women in his pictures from Sweden may be an alien and the one responsible for Alex's death. However, Liz figures outs that the girl that Alex was with, is human thus she could not have been responsible.

Max impregnates Tess while Liz investigates Alex's death. At the end of the season, Max and the others decide to leave Earth after Tess tells Max that their son is dying due to the Earth's atmosphere. Everyone has 24 hours to say their goodbyes. Max and Liz make a last ditch effort to find Alex's killer. Isabel dances with Alex's spirit at his grave. Tess calls Jim Valenti "Dad", and Michael and Maria make love for the first time. As the aliens are about to leave, Kyle remembers how Alex died and Michael decides at the last minute to stay on Earth with Maria. He has found a new home, and, much to everyone's surprise, it's not in outer space. As Michael exits the Granolith, Liz rushes in to tell Max that Tess was the one who killed Alex. Tess reveals the reason she had to brainwash Alex to get him to translate the book. Nasedo and Tess made a deal with Kivar: Tess can return home safely as long as she's carrying Max's child, but she must turn over Max, Isabel, and Michael to Kivar. Max lets Tess go and the gang watches as Tess leaves Earth via the Granolith. Maria realizes that Michael stayed for her. Max tells Liz that he loves her, and that now he must save his son.

Season three

The third season opens with Max's quest to save his son. He and Liz are arrested in Utah after holding up a convenience store. They both end up getting out of jail, but their actions have serious consequences for the rest of the season. Max, during the holdup, found an alien ship that was being stored in the basement, but when he goes back, the ship is gone. While they are in a Utah jail, Michael searches for evidence Max tossed in a field while being chased. A man approaches him and warns him and the others to stop their search. This man is mysteriously murdered in L.A. by a fifth alien. Knowing that the alien is a shape shifter and in the film industry, Max tries out acting and auditions for a role in Star Trek: Enterprise. The fifth alien is, in fact, a very successful film producer who is also Max's protector. Max, against the fifth alien's wishes, forces him to help him find the ship, which is at a military base. They attempt to fly it but the ship is too damaged from the crash in 1947. Max leaves L.A. disappointed and he feels as though he has let down his son.

Isabel is revealed to be haunted by Alex's ghost, but it is actually a figure of her subconscious. She begins a relationship with Jesse Ramirez, an attorney who is several years older than her and works with her father. As the season unfolds, Max and Isabel's father is diving deeper into the past of his children, due to Max not giving him a satisfactory reason as to what happened in Utah, or why Max was even there in the first place. Midway through the season, Isabel gets married, much to the disappointment of her parents, Max and Michael. While on her honeymoon with Jesse, Isabel comes in contact with Kivar. He awakens Isabel's past self, Vilandra, who betrayed Max and Michael in their previous life for her love with Kivar, which is the reason the four of them died in their first life. Kivar tries to compel Isabel (now reawakened as Vilandra) to travel through a portal back to their home world, while Max and Michael attempt to stop them. In the end, Isabel pushes Kivar into the portal.

Michael and Maria are having trouble with their relationship, especially when Maria feels that the whole "alien thing" is ruining her life and decides to take a break from the gang so she can try to live out a "normal" life. Michael takes a job as a security guard during the night at a local pharmaceutical factory. But little does Michael know, the owner of the company has been going through the trash to obtain Michael's DNA, and the owners find out that he is an alien and kill one of Micheal's co-workers "Munk" to see if he is "the healer" which is Max's power, so Munk dies. Michael and Sheriff Valenti find a room with all of Michael's things and realize what the company has found out; Valenti, however, is captured. Michael enlists the help of Max and Isabel in order to rescue Valenti. Max is taken and coerced into healing the dying millionaire. Max is, at first, wary of doing so, as the millionaire has lived out his life and will die of natural causes, but he tries anyway. Max ends up transferring his age, and the millionaire's body transforms into Max's body, killing Max. While Michael and Isabel try to come to grips with Max's death, a patrol of guards come. Michael and Isabel use their powers to destroy their vehicles, but Isabel is shot. The millionaire is at his house in Max's body when he receives a memory of Liz. He can't stop thinking about her, due to having Max's soul inside him, so he decides that he must kill her in order to get rid of Max. Michael inherits Max's powers after his death, which he then uses to heal Isabel. As the millionaire is about to kill Liz, they both fall from a building window. Seeing that Liz is about to die, Max takes control over the body and uses his powers to save her life while he hits the ground. The millionaire's soul dies and Max miraculously survives after Liz kisses him. The group heads back to Roswell.

The FBImarker has been studying the group for many months and is closing in on them. Liz begins to exhibit alien powers, including premonitions, towards the end of the season, which later causes her to become a target. When Tess returns with Max's son, Zan, the gang has to group together and try to escape Roswell. Tess' arrival causes the FBI to find more evidence of the aliens, including a video revealing Isabel's powers. Everyone is angry with Tess and at first tries to kill her, but instead end up helping her. Because of Liz's forgiveness, Tess decides to sacrifice herself by turning herself in and blows up the military base. The baby is revealed to be fully human, as only Max's and Tess' human DNA produced the baby. Max, realizing that the baby can have a normal life, gives him up for adoption. He uses his father's help to get the baby into a good family.

The series closes with Liz getting a premonition of her, Max, Michael and Isabel dying in an FBI setup, so they decide to leave Roswell after their high school graduation. With the realization that he will be leaving possibly forever, Michael professes his love for Maria and she makes the decision to be with him no matter what. After Liz, Max, Michael, Isabel, Maria and Kyle escape from their high school graduation, where the FBI setup is, they hit the road in a bus, where there are several emotional goodbyes, especially between Kyle and his father, Jim Valenti. Isabel decides to leave her husband behind in order to save his life. The final scenes of the show feature Max and Liz getting married and Liz's father reading Liz's journal, chronicling the last three years. The final scene has Liz peering out of the van in her wedding dress saying, "I'm Liz Parker and I am happy".

DVD releases

Season Episodes Originally aired Release date
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
1 22 19992000 February 17, 2004 April 26, 2004 April 2, 2004
2 21 2000 – 2001 October 5, 2004 August 9, 2004 February 7, 2005
3 18 2001 – 2002 August 9, 2005 October 11, 2004 March 15, 2006
1-3 61 1999 – 2002 April 29, 2008 October 31, 2005 April 19, 2006

Due to licensing issues, a majority of the music used during the show's original broadcast was replaced on the DVD versions of the episodes. The new music featured on the DVD sets were handpicked by the original music supervisors from the show. Despite this, the series' theme song "Here With Me" by Dido was retained, as were the songs "Fear" by Sarah McLachlan and "Crash Into Me" by Dave Matthews Band in the pilot episode as the producers felt those songs in particular were vital to the show's theme and should not be replaced by new songs. "Genie in a Bottle" by Christina Aguilera is also still heard in a scene on the first season DVD because Maria (Majandra Delfino) is singing along with her radio to the song and they were therefore unable to change it without filming a new scene for the episode entirely. "I Shall Believe" by Sheryl Crow also remained in a second season episode due to the importance of the song to the episode's story.

In 2008, all three seasons of Roswell were re-released on DVD with new cover art prominently displaying actress Katherine Heigl (who portrayed Isabel Evans on the series) who was, at the time, experiencing enormous success and fame from her role on the popular television series Grey's Anatomy and movies such as 27 Dresses. The rest of the content on these DVD's, with the exception of the new cover artwork, remains the same as the original releases.


In addition to the original Roswell High book series that inspired the television series, a range of novels were published based on the events depicted in the show. These focused on events that largely went unexplained on screen.

Pocket Books

While Roswell was still on air, three novels were published by Pocket Books. When the show was cancelled, this series ceased publication.

  1. Loose Ends by Greg Cox (June 2001)
  2. No Good Deed by D.A. Stern (October 2001)
  3. Little Green Men by D.W. Smith and K.K. Rusch (April 2002)

Simon Spotlight Entertainment

In 2002, Simon Spotlight Entertainment picked up the Roswell range and published eight more novels. Following low sales, the series ended a year later. The first four novels act as a bridge between seasons two and three, and the last four are set after the events of the series.

  1. Shades by Mel Odom (September 2002)
  2. Skeletons In The Closet by Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin (November 2002)
  3. Dreamwalk by Paul Ruditis (January 2003)
  4. Quarantine by Laura Burns (March 2003)
  5. A New Beginning by Kevin Ryan (June 2003)
  6. Nightscape by Kevin Ryan (July 2003)
  7. Pursuit by Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin (September 2003)
  8. Turnabout by Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin (November 2003)


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