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Okay, so you've had your first encounter with an alien race. They don't seem hostile, and might even be friendly. So, how do you let them know you don't want to hurt them?
You say hello. You tell them you don't want to hurt them. The classic way to do this, of course, is with the old standby of "I Come in Peace", but other greetings may be offered. If all goes well, diplomatic relations might be established. If not, well...
This can happen in reverse, of course, with the alien race indicating their peaceful intentions this way. If a character uses the specific phrase, it can overlap with I Always Wanted to Say That.
Of course, this can be subverted, with a visitor indicating peaceful intentions just before slaughtering the Puny Humans. Or the peaceful party getting mauled by the non-peaceful party. Or a suspicious member of one group or the other might still be convinced that the visitors are dangerous. Or whatever.
This trope is an important part of How to Invade An Alien Planet.
- In Explorers, one of the young heroes greets an alien with "We come in peace", because it seems like the right thing to do. The alien, in turn, replies, "Ehhh, what's up, doc?"
- In The Abyss, Bud Brigman tries a more casual approach when confronted by aliens: "Howdy. Uh... How are you guys doin'?"
- In Independence Day, the government sends military choppers displaying greetings in all the languages of the world. It ends badly.
- The alien beings in Close Encounters of the Third Kind take the time to teach the Earthlings a tonal language as a gesture of greeting.
- Star Trek: First Contact has the Vulcans greeting humanity with their customary "Live long and prosper".
- In Predator 2, a young boy encounters the cloaked Predator and is nearly shot before it recognizes that his plastic machine gun is only a toy. The kid's response? "Want some candy?"
- In the book Aliens Are Coming, the final interview concludes with a person saying "And if an alien spaceship ever DOES land in my backyard, I hope I will have the good sense to invite the occupants inside for tea."
Live Action Television
- In Stargate SG-1:
Jack O'Neill: We come in peace. We hope to leave in one... piece.
- Also, Daniel's usual operating procedure: 'We're peaceful explorers'. And if it's a language he doesn't understand, probably sharing food.
- In possibly the oddest straight use ever (and possibly a Stealth Parody), the player-character in Homeworld: Cataclysm quotes the trope word-for-word... whilst trying to convince the setting's resident Space Pirates to help you take on the Cosmic Horror that's clobbered you and them both. It doesn't turn out very well, to say the least.
- The first Vahnatai you meet in Avernum 2 (in the flesh, at least) uses this line nearly word-for-word--however, she's not quite fluent in English, and it comes out as "peaceness" instead.
- In Another World, the protagonist tries to greet the aliens with a smile and an open palm. This didn't end well - he got zapped and put into a cage. One can assume he unwittingly flipped the aliens off.
- An episode of Rugrats has the kids exploring the house during a power failure, looking for a monster which turns out to be a rat. Tommy greets it with "We come in peace."
- The Penguins of Madagascar greet a cat when they think they've landed on the moon this way: "We come in peace. For now."
- In one episode of Green Lantern the Animated Series, Hal greats a group of aliens this way. He then remarks to Kilowag that He Always Wanted To Say That, to which Kilowag asks, "Why?"
- The last line said on the Moon was:
"We leave as we came, and as we shall return. In peace for all mankind."
- They also left a plaque that said: Here "Men From The Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We Came in Peace For All Mankind."
- In the movie I Come in Peace, the main alien says this to the Earthlings almost out of reflex, but in reality he wants to steal their brain fluid for the intergalactic drug trade.
- In Mars Attacks (Film)!, the Martians' translator indicates that they are all shouting "We come in peace! We come in peace!" as they're blowing everything to kingdom come.
- In the Independence Day example, a rooftop full of people holding up welcoming signs to the 15-mile-wide saucers are the first to be annihilated on-screen. Hilariously, earlier in the movie a news item is shown on TV warning the people of L.A. not to fire their guns at said ships, to avoid accidentally sparking an interstellar war.
- An interesting variation later on comes at the end of an action-packed dogfight between some fighter jets and some alien fighter ships, culminating in the immortal line:
Captain Steven Hiller: [punches the alien in the head] Welcome to Earth!
- This type was also used in the novel and 1953 movie of The War of the Worlds. The humans greet the aliens waving white flags, and are promptly zapped to a crisp.
- Monsters vs. Aliens subverts it from both sides:
- B.O.B. to the alien probe: "Welcome! We are here to destroy you!"
- Gallaxar: "Humans of Earth, I come in peace. However, most of you will not survive the next 24 hours."
- Monsters vs. Aliens also had a shout out to Close Encounters of the Third Kind with the US President trying to establish peaceful contact with the alien probe by playing music. After using the Vulcan greeting gesture.
- Apparently, alien robots don't appreciate movie theme songs.
- In both versions of The Day the Earth Stood Still, Klaatu steps out of his ship in the presence of roughly half the U.S. military, who are already a bit jumpy on account of the aforementioned spaceship. He wordlessly thrusts an alien device in their direction (actually trying to offer a gift), and somebody twitches and shoots him.
Live Action TV
- In the 2009 version of V, the Visitors' catchphrase is "We are of peace, always." Guess what? They aren't.
- Upon the party encountering a giant in Looking for Group:
Cale: Explain our noble intentions!
Richard: That doesn't sound like me.
- In one episode of Garfield and Friends, Garfield and Jon are watching a B-Movie about aliens, and making fun of the fact that the aliens always announce "We come in peace" in these types of movies. Then a real alien lands in their front yard, announcing that he comes in peace, at which point Garfield turns to the audience and says, "Wow, they really do say that." Eventually, it turns out that the alien doesn't come in peace at all, as he's actually the spy for a hostile invasion force.
- V (2009 version): "We are of peace, always".
- Ratchet and Clank: A Crack In Time has Dr. Nefarious's robots telling the titular characters that they come in peace, and that they might go have some pie or take in a holofilm together. These are robots that tend to be shooting at the characters as they say this.
- "Mr. Zurkon", a floating robot that defends the player (and is a weapon in his own right) perhaps lampshades this by proclaiming that "Mr. Zurkon does not come in peace."
- The 1980s/90s UK prank show Beadles About had a famous and very elaborate hoax involving dozens of actors and extensive special effects to convince a women that an alien had landed in her back yard. On finally seeing the alien emerge from the saucer, her first words to what she genuinely believed to be an alien were, brilliantly, "Do you want a cup of tea?"