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The name of an alien race will almost always be derived from the name of their home planet. This trope seems to have started with fictional creatures from a real planet or star; the aliens hail from Mars or Polaris, so it made sense to call these creatures Martians or Polarisoids. But by now it goes beyond that, into cases where the aliens' home world is every bit as fictional as the creatures themselves. This trope is the reason why, as detailed in Humans by Any Other Name, aliens will tend to call the human race by a word like "Earthling."

Bear in mind, of course, that there is some logic to all this. We Puny Earthlings do, after all, refer to our nationality as being a variation on the root word of our country's name (technically it's often the other way around, linguistically). For aliens, though, the name derived from the planet is usually used to refer to a species as a whole rather than just those individuals who are actually from that planet.

May be an odd side effect of Translation Convention or Translator Microbes. Often a side effect of a Planet of Hats.

Also applies to humans on occasion, if a work refers to humans as Terrans, our homeworld as Terra, or both.

Examples of Named After Their Planet include:


Anime and Manga

  • Dragonball Z: Used with the Namekians, but averted with the Saiyans, whose planet is called Vegeta.
    • Though one of the Saiyans is named Vegeta (Jr.)... Because his father, the King of Saiyans, conquered the whole planet and named it after himself.
  • Subject of a gag in Tenchi Muyo!: When Tenchi first meets Sasami, he immediately assumes that she's come from a planet called Sasami. Why he jumps to this conclusion is a bit of a headscratcher, though to be fair he was having kind of a bad day and probably wasn't thinking straight.


Comic Books

  • Krypto the Superdog is named after his home planet. It'd be like naming your dog Eartho. The entire Kryptonian race also falls under this trope.
  • The DC Universe also features the Thanagarians, the Rannians, the Tamaranians, and... oh, just about every alien species.


Film

  • Star Wars uses and averts this (and in one case being justified: Nal Hutta was bought out by the Hutts, after their original homeworld of Varl was rendered uninhabitable).
  • Variation. The aliens in The Rocky Horror Picture Show hail from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania. They're known as Transylvanians.
  • The Kree and the Skrulls seem to to be the only exceptions to this rule in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Titans (Thanos' people), even share their name with their planet.

Literature

  • Animorphs inverts this--the planets don't seem to have names, instead being referred to as "the Andalite homeworld," "the Hork-Bajir homeworld," and so on. Interestingly, they still call the human homeworld "Earth." The only time this trope seems to be played straight is with the Leerans from the planet Leera. Apparently, if the planet's dominant species decided to give their planet a name, that's their planet's name; if they didn't, it's "the (dominant species) homeworld."
    • When Elfangor first met someone who said she was from planet Earth, he asked if she was an "Earther."
    • Andalites use a complex Alpha-Numeric system to designate planets, invoking the type of star to give the star a name, and giving the planet a number x/y where x is the number of the planet and y is the total number of planets in the system. To give an idea, Earth would be Sol 3/8 or Sol 3/11 (depending on if you count dwarves)
      • That brings up a bit of Fridge Logic: How do the Andalites determine which of the regularly-shaped objects orbiting a star count as planets? We had trouble with that, and we live here. (Though it's possible that the Sol system has an unusual amount of big chunks of rocky debris floating around at its edge.)
  • Espada da Galáxia subverted this by having both Terrestrials and Metalians call themselves 'humans' on first contact. They agree to call themselves after their origin planets thereafter.
  • In the Sector General books, everyone calls his race "human" and his homeworld "Earth" when run through the translator. Every race is given a four-letter code that describes their environment and requirements. Generally, the other species are named after their world but humans are just called "Earth-humans" suggesting that either Humans Are Special, or they're just unimaginative.
    • Or that unlike other species they are not limited to a single planet?
    • Perhaps the books (written in human languages, as far as I'm aware) simply suffer from the same translation problems outside of the fourth wall as the characters do inside. Maybe if the books were written in a Kelgian language, Kelgians would be referred to as "Earth-Humans", with our species being referred to as DBD Gs or whatever the Kelgian word for our planet is.
  • Iain M. Banks' The Culture are an exception, being formed around Orbital habitats (think Halo, Ring World, Dyson Spheres) and very large spacecraft.
    • Of course, since in the Culture, your place of birth is part of your family name, its citizens are actually named after their homeworld, it just happens that in 99% of the case, said homeworld is artificial.
  • The asteroid belt miners in Larry Niven's stories call themselves "Belters".
  • The Race in Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series call their homeworld "Home" and Earth "Tosev 3". (Tosev being the Sun.) Humans are dubbed Tosevites.
    • They've also done this to the two races they've conquered. Their names for themselves are unknown. They are always referred to by their Race names of Rabotevs (of Rabotev 2) and Halessi (of Haless 1).
  • In Anne McCaffrey's Freedom series, the alien overlords are called the Catteni, and they come from the planet Catten. One of the characters lampshades this when they discover the capital of the planet is called Cattena.
  • In Larry Niven's Draco Tavern stories, human beings are called tee tee hatch nex ool (their biological specification code) by other species. Of course, when fed through a Universal Translator, it translates as "human".
  • The aliens in Nick Pollotta and Phil Foglio's novel Illegal Aliens refer to humans as "Dirtians", because their translators keep converting "Earth" (and "Terra", for that matter) into the word "Dirt".
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  "They are so primitive they still call their homeworld 'Dirt'."

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  • Notably consistent in E. E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series. Earth is always referred to as "Tellus" and humans as "Tellurians" in just the same way that all of the other species are named after their planets of origin.
  • The aliens in The Forever War are dubbed Taurans since they were first discovered in a star system that is in the constellation Taurus (as seen from Earth). Their real homeworld (and name) are unknown.
  • The Young Wizards universe simultaneously uses and averts this trope; almost every species (or, every dominant species, anyway - this isn't an issue with the other wizarding species on Earth, of which we see whales and cats) calls themselves "humans" and their planet "Earth" in their own language, but after this is noted in High Wizardry, they're usually referred to by names derived from their homeworld's name. It gets a Call Back occasionally, such as the conversation at the start of Wizards at War, when Roshaun objects to being called a humanoid: "I am the human. You're the humanoids."


Live Action TV

  • Common in Star Trek. The vast majority of the species are named after their homeworld. They do have exceptions, like the Humans (Earth), Klingons (Qo'nos), Borg (homeworld unknown as no origin story was ever told for them)...
    • Of course, in the Parallel Universe featured in DS9, humans are all called Terrans.
    • The Romulans are notable for calling themselves after a world they didn't originate on. They left Vulcan 2000 years ago after refusing to follow Surak's philosophy, found a habitable planet, called it Romulus, and changed their own name. Actually, some Expanded Universe novels claim that this is Translation Convention by humans.
  • Almost completely averted in the Stargate Verse, from what I can tell -- except for the Asurans. And, of course, except for the displaced human cultures -- they may be called Abydonians, Eurondans or Tollans, but they're still humans.
    • All of which is basically the same as calling someone from New York a "New Yorker" or someone from Germany a "German".
    • In one episode, a human alien refers to SG-1 as Earthens. Jonas Quinn then "corrects" her to Earthlings. Otherwise, humans from Earth go by the Goa'uld name Tau'ri to distinguish from other humans. It is implied that this name was used for the planet as well, but as both names were assigned by the Goa'uld on discovery, this doesn't quite count.
    • While one might assume that the asgard hail from Othala, it's not explicitly stated that this is their homeworld. In fact, it's not even stated that Ida is their home galaxy. Given that they can galaxy-hop in minutes, it's not inconceivable to assume they could have come from yet another galaxy.
  • Every alien race from Babylon 5.
    • Well, the major ones (Minbari/Minbar, Centauri/Centauri Prime, Narn/Narn Homeworld or Narn). The League worlds are often exceptions. The Drazi are from Zhabar, the Pak'ma'ra from Melat, the Hurr from Androma, the Llort from Vartas, the Gaim from N'chak'fah, the Hyach from Shri-shraba, the Onteen from Aicha, the Abbai from Ssumssha, the Yolu from Pa'ri, etc. Then again, we have Brakos for the Brakiri, Vreetan for the Vree and Gromahk for the Grome.
    • According to Word of God, "Centauri" is a misnomer of sorts - the first human/Centauri contact occurred in the Alpha Centauri system, and the humans assumed the Centauri home planet was in that area. It wasn't, but the term stuck in the English language.
    • The Shadows come from Z'ha'dum, although their true name is unknown. They just like everybody calling them "Shadows".
  • Often averted in Doctor Who. The Daleks are from Skaro, the Cybermen from Mondas, the Time Lords from Gallifrey...but also often applied. Sontarans are from Sontar.
    • Lampshaded with the Slitheen (of the Raxacoricofallapatorius Slitheen), who correct the cast, stating that it's their last name, not their species. Sometimes the name is applied to the species as well, especially in fandom, but they are correctly known as Raxacoricofallapatorians.
    • In the Extended Universe, Sontar is an inversion: a general named Sontar conquered the planet, had all future members of the species be his clones and re-named the world and species after himself.
    • Also, the Cybermen weren't always called Cybermen. It was only after they were forced to become cyborgs that they renamed themselves. The Daleks are also an artificial race (a forced mutation of the Human Alien Kaleds by a Mad Scientist).
  • The Ultra Series uses this convention to name most of its alien species.
  • Every alien race in Tracker.
  • The Jaridians in Earth: Final Conflict come from Jaridia, although it may not be their original homeworld, given that they used to be the same species as the Taelons. After the split, the Taelons settled another world in the Q'ruu'faa system of the Ma'hu'ra'va galaxy, calling it Taelon. This makes it the reverse case. This was the Taelon homeworld for hundreds of millions of years.
    • It's implied that the Atavus homeworld (which isn't named in the show) was the original homeworld of the Jaridians and Taelons.


Tabletop Games

  • d20 Future both plays this trope straight and averts it, seemingly at random. Aleerins hail from the planet Aleer, in the Vax Aleer system; Dralasites hail from the planet Terledrom, in the Fromeltar system; Fraal hail from the planet Yrvuun, in a supernova'd system; Sesheyans hail from the planet Sheya, in the Vechlar system; T'sa hail from the planet Ki'inroh, in the T'saka system; Vrusk hail from the planet K'zah-Kit, in the K'aken-Kar system; Weren hail from the planet Kurg, in the Taragwa system; and Yazirians hail from the planet Hakosoar, in the Scree Fron system.
  • An Aversion in Traveller. Aslan got their name because First Contact was made by a ship with a Turkish-speaking crew that thought they looked like lions and so gave them the Turkish name for lion. However there are instances of this trope being played straight as well.


Toys

  • The Matoran in Bionicle are named for Mata Nui, the planet-sized robot they live inside.


Video Games

  • Starcraft averts this nicely. The Protoss used to live on Aiur and the original Zerg homeworld is called Zerus, but they seem to like Char. The Terrans, while originally from Earth, had their capital on Tarsonis. Humans from Earth still refer to themselves and terrans as (hu)mankind.
  • Star Control uses this pretty consistently, the only species named for their homeworld are the (extinct at game start) Algolites (on Algol, duh) and they're named as such by your exploration team.
  • Halo mostly averts this, with only the Sangheili (Elites) having a similarly named homeworld, Sanghelios.
  • Averted in Mass Effect: here are the known races and their homeworlds: asari - Thessia, elcor - Dekuuna, hanar - Kahje, batarians - Khar'shan, turians - Palaven, drell - Rakhana, quarians - Rannoch, rachni - Suen, salarian - Sur'Kesh, krogan - Tuchanka, volus - Irune, raloi (mentioned in a news report) - Turvess, yahg - Parnack. All species names are notably uncapitalized too.
  • Master of Orion allows you to name your homeworld, although it still offers the default name. The only race that fits this trope are the Meklar, whose homeworld is Meklon, the Gnolam, hailing from Gnol, and the Trilarians of Trilar. The other races have noticeably different homeworld names from their race name. Examples include the Klackon from Kholdan, the Sakkra from Sssla, the Bulrathi from Ursa, the Darlok from Nazin, the Elerians from Draconis, and, of course, the humans from Sol.
    • Additionally, there are the extinct Orions, whose homeworld of Orion is coveted by many. There are also the Antareans of Antares. However, the planet that is attacked at the end of MOO II turns out to have been just a colony, not Antares. The third game takes place after the true Antareans arrive and promptly kick everyone's collective asses.
  • Averted in Sword of the Stars. The Liir (their name means "Choir") come from the water world of Muur, the Tarka come from Kao'Kona ("Fortress of the Gods"), and the Hivers hail from Tcho'to'pre. The Zuul are an artificial species with no known homeworld, although it's assumed they were deployed as bioweapons on Iridia 5 (which is the human name for the planet; the Zuul have no name for it). The Morrigi homeworld is unknown. It's possible it was destroyed in their war with the Suul'ka.
  • Played straight with the Vasudans in Free Space, whose homeworld is called Vasuda Prime. Humans are called Terrans, though.
  • The Draenei in Warcraft come from Draenor... but so do the orcs, ogres, and a few other sentient species, none of which were named after their world. Further averted later when it turns out that Draenei come from another planet, Argus, and used to be called Eredar. They fled to the orcs' world and named it Draenor, or "Exile's Refuge" in their language, and apparently their new neighbours hadn't thought of how to call their world yet. Moreover, the inhabitants of Azeroth and K'aresh are not called after their world either.


Web Comics

  • On It's Walky, the Aliens are called that because they're from the planet Alien. Yes, they're alien Aliens from Alien.
    • By comparison, the Martians are from outside the solar system. They got this name because they used to have a colony on Mars.
  • As a parody, a holo-simulator from Gunnerkrigg Court features Jupiter Moon Martians--naturally enough, they're natives of Mars who immigrated to Jupiter's moon, Ganymede.
  • Nemesites in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob come from a planet orbiting the Nemesis Star. They usually call humans Earthlings.
  • Averted in Homestuck, where the trolls' planet is called Alternia. Though, when you translate the Daedric-turned-180-degrees that the name is written in, you get "Trollplanet".
    • It is also referred to as "the trollplanet" by the human cast a couple of times.


Western Animation

  • In Futurama, we're "Earthicans." There are also Decapodians (Decapod 10), Amphibiosans (Amphibios 9), Neptunians, Omicronians (Omicron Persei 8), Osirians (Osiris 4), Martians, Amazonians (Amazonia) and Cygnoids (Cygnos 5). The Nibblonians are a notable exception, originating on the Planet Eternium.
  • In Invader Zim, the Irkens are from Irk. Amusingly, Zim follows a version of the trope himself: before landing on Earth he referred to its inhabitants as "Earthenoids," and referred to the extinct Martians as "Marsoids."
  • The Thundercats were the elite warriors/nobility of the Thunderian people on their home planet of, surprise, surprise, Thundera. It doesn't stop there; the word "thunder" shows up a lot when stuff regarding that species gets involved. Ah, cartoons of The Eighties...
    • This is also averted with the Mutants, who hailed from Plundarr.
  • An extreme version was used in South Park, where not only were the inhabitants of an alien planet called Marklars, but all marklars were replaced with the marklar "marklar".
  • Neosapiens in Exo Squad always refer to homo sapiens sapiens as "Terrans." This works because the Neosapiens were created on Mars and regard it as their homeworld, and it is simpler than using the full species name. "Human" refers to both species.
  • Cybertronians are from the planet Cybertron. Holds true for the entire Transformer race as Velocitronians are from Velocitron, Aquatronians are from Aquatron, Camiens are from Caminus and so on.
    • And the Quintessons are from Quintessa. Though whether they're named after it or it after them varies on the continuity.
  • With the notable exception of the Galra (who hail from the planet Daibazaal), every race in Voltron: Legendary Defender follows this pattern.
  • The Shlorpians from Solar Opposites are from Planet Shlorp.
  • Shows up in Rick and Morty as part of the show's blaze approach to naming things.

Web Original

  • The terragens in Orions Arm, the term used to refer to all of humanity's diverse descendants and sentient creations. Any lifeform tracing back to Earth basically.


Real Life

  • The only sentient species we know of, the human race, has its English name from the Latin "humanus" by way of French. The ultimate origin is thought to be Proto-Indo-European dhǵhem- which means "earth". Furthermore, in biblical Hebrew, the word for "man," Adam, comes from the word for "earth," Adama.
    • Please note, however, that in both cases, that's "earth" with a lower-case "e," i.e. soil. In the Hebrew instance, it's a transparent reference to the Biblical story of God creating the first man (Adam) out of clay.
      • For reference, the Hebrew word for "Earth" (the planet) is Eretz, which, confusingly enough, also means "land," both as in "land you build on/farm" and "a country". Kador Eretz, meaning "Earth Sphere", is used in modern Hebrew to refer to the planet specifically.
      • Same with the French word, Terre.
      • Averted in Russian, with the word for human - человек (chelovek) has no roots in common with the word Земля (Zemlya) - Earth (the lower-case земля has the same meaning as lower-case "earth").
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